Blog posts of '2014' 'October'

Business Card Quandary

You never know when you'll wind up asking someone for a paper business card but when was the last time you actually consulted a Rolodex to find someone's phone number, address or email address?

With that being said, it seems as if my ever-growing electronic contact database continues to grow due to its simplicity and less “messy” look. To be honest though, I actually treasure those physical cards because I have somewhat of an obsession with business cards – their design, texture, graphics etc.

This nature of card-collecting makes managing them pretty tedious task, one that relies on either manual entry, a smartphone camera or even a miniature scanner to turn the information digital. With that in mind, here are a few mobile apps and services designed to make this process a little simpler.

  • Bizz Card (Apple iOS; Free) - You can use this service to create an electronic identity that replaces paper cards, complete with sophisticated graphics. You "share" your card by swiping across your iPhone, which automatically generates an email message to send. If you have an existing card, you can capture the image to send electronically. This app is meant pretty much just for giving out your card, not for managing cards from other people.

  • Flextown (Android, iOS; Starts at $65 for a single card) - Initially launched in Denmark, the service turns paper cards into one special Flextown physical card that can share its information using Near Field Communications. (There's also a QR code on the back that can be scanned to achieve the same purpose.) So, you don't technically hand out the card, you offer it to someone for them to scan with their smartphone. You can also share it via email, SMS or AirDrop. The cardholder gets an alert when someone accepts and stores his or her information. The service integrates with existing CRM applications. 
  • CamCard (Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone; Starts at $0.99 for app downloads plus the Web service) - Created by enterprise mobile developer INTSIG and widely used in Asia, this service is still officially in beta if you check the site. Like other offerings, it lets you scan a physical business card so that it can be added to a digital management system. The twist is that it supports augmented reality -- allowing you to attach text, video, graphics and and other documents to specific cards.

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Smart Cars. Nope, Not Me!

People seem to like this idea. It makes my flesh crawl...

Well, maybe not that extreme. But the idea does depress me.

A big part of what makes driving enjoyable is the freedom and control it gives you, the individual. It is your car and you are in charge of directing its course, of deciding how to get there. You can choose your route and proceed at whatever speed seems reasonable to you. If you like, you can stop for a cup of coffee. Or to admire a scenic view.

You control your destiny. You are a driver.

If cars drive themselves, then you become a passenger. A passive pound of flesh transported by the intelligence of and under the direction of someone (or something) else. You get there when someone else decides you get there. You travel at the speed someone else (or a machine) determines to be the “right” or “safe” speed. There will be no stopping along the way; no taking the scenic route just because.

The only difference between an automated car and taking the bus is that you don’t have some stranger sitting beside you coughing his flu all over your face.

But the essential thing is identical. You have surrendered your autonomy; for the duration of the trip, your fate is out of your control. You are now a member of the mass. One of many, another sardine to be filleted and packaged and sent on its way. How in the world does this appealing?

Oh yeah, that’s right…it’s more efficient. Automated cars can be slotted in tightly, perhaps just inches away from one another — and moved in synchronicity at high speeds, getting us there sooner and faster. More people can be moved more rapidly from point A to B, while supposedly causing fewer accidents due to higher predictability….

And much less joy.

Psychologists (and common sense) tell us that an important part of being human — or at least, an essential part of the human experience — is the exercise of personal mastery over external circumstances. To be able to do what you wish, according to your own likes. To enjoy the satisfaction that comes with learning a new skill and exercising that skill. You know, being competent.

If you like to drive, you will understand what I mean.

There’s the early thrill of being permitted to climb behind the wheel of a car for the very first time; of learning to shift and work a clutch. For many, this is a big step on the road from teenagerdom to adulthood. It is one of the first “grown-up” things many of us get to do during our adolescence.

Once the basics are down pat, we begin to acquire skills. We get better and better at timing our merges; of learning to judge in our heads just how much room we’ve got to pull into traffic — and how much speed we’ll need to do it properly.

A smartly executed fast pass or perfectly timed corner exit is a type of art in motion and knowing you are a good driver — that you can handle it — is immensely satisfying.

Automated cars would take that all away. In effect, we’d be reduced to the state we were in as young children when our parents buckled us in and took us for a drive whenever and how ever they wished. Our role was to sit quietly and await our arrival.

That’s the “brave new world” in store for us - perhaps just a few short years down the road. Google — a new Dark Empire if ever there was such — has apparently had their Googlers field-testing driverless cars for months now.

Most will probably welcome it, but not me — not this guy!

If the day ever comes when I am no longer permitted to operate my car myself, that will be the day I give up on driving, seeing as such will have ceased to be possible anyhow.

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Hectic Life? Apps To The Rescue!

1.) WunWun

WunWun is going to be your new best friend if you constantly forget that one item when you're grocery shopping that is absolutely essential to the recipe you’re preparing. Or, if you’re one hour away from an event and you don’t have time to run out and pick up some hors d’oeuvres, someone from WunWun will do it for you. This free (yes free) delivery service connects users to their favorite local stores and restaurants and will deliver purchases within the hour.

2.) Circa

For those who want to stay up-to-date on all the breaking news, but don't have time to scour a plethora of websites, Circa is your saving grace. Currently available for download on iPhone and Android, this app allows readers to easily sort through the day’s news by delivering concise coverage straight to your phone.

3.) Shyp

Just one trip to the post office during the holiday season will make even the most mild-mannered person swear off sending gifts entirely. Welcome Shyp — a service that will come to you, pick up your items, pack them and ship them anywhere in the world using the cheapest, most reliable option possible.

4.) Brewster

If you’re tired of searching through your various emails, phone contacts, Facebook friends, etc. looking for the phone number you just know someone sent you, Brewster is going to be your lifesaver. Brewster compiles all of your contacts from all of the aforementioned services including Instagram, LinkedIn, Google, Skype and more.

5.) Clear

Post-it notes and daily planners are organizational tools of the past — instead of carting around a bunch of papers that you might lose, Clear allows you to keep all of your daily tasks in one neat, intuitive app. You can create as many lists as you want, and within those lists you can prioritize your daily tasks using a color-coding system to denote how urgent the task is.

For the full article, click HERE!

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Benefits of Using Hardware as a Service (HAAS)

As we all know that replacing computers in an office can be a very expensive process. What if I told you that there is a much more cost effective method to replacing computers and On-Premise servers. This method is what we in the industry call HAAS or Hardware As A Service.

The idea behind HAAS is that instead of having to upfront the cost of replacing PCs that are considered obsolete, or have become defective, is that instead we are able to provide the PC to you on a monthly low cost, and so that anytime there is a problem with the computer later down the road, we will be able to bring you another computer right away, to minimize your downtime.

Some of the other benefits to HAAS is that you can always stay up to date with current technology, as a new PC can be delivered with the latest most efficient O.S and hardware specs needed for your needs. With the monthly rate being fixed cost, you no longer have to worry about that unexpected expense. Using this model will also be able to increase productivity from your employees not being able to get work done to countless and constant computer issues. Now with this service a lot of providers will also include remote monitoring and maintenance to the PC throughout the lifespan of the computer. One last benefit would be that HAAS is a scalable service, as needs for your business grow, all that you will need to do is add more PCs, and if there is a decline for any reason, your HAAS provider can simply pick up the PCs and you no longer have to pay for them. This will keep you from having a closet full of old computers that are not getting utilized.

So as you can see is that there are multiple benefits to utilizing HAAS from a service provider, especially if your company is rapidly growing, or even needing to replace multiple PCs for any reason.

Tracy Hazelton
System Technologist
StormsEdge Technology

A Business Necessity: Social Media

Do you find yourself lost in the tidal wave of what’s become social media? Facebook, Twitter and Google+ among some, have completely changed the way businesses advertise on the web. How do you know which one suits you the best though? In this post, I’m going to lay out a few of the best social media sites for small business owners, and why.

First off, when considering your online marketing strategy, your website MUST come first. Think of it as sort of a “base camp” that you will connect to/from any number of external points. Your website is property owned by you, whereas social media pages are owned by someone else. Look at social media sites as simply a vehicle to get your message out there and drive traffic back to what you have control over. Still, getting “social” is an important component to any marketing plan.

1. Facebook

Launched in February 2004 for college students, Facebook has come a long way in a short seven years. Now with an estimated 800 million active users it is ranked as the most used social networking service in the world (by the number of active monthly users).

Lucky for you, starting a business page - and tapping into the power of Facebook – is pretty easy. Once your page is created, users ‘like’ it (opt-in to get your posts) and your news will be posted to their ‘wall.’

2. Twitter

A micro-blogging social media site that has been around since 2004, Twitter has an estimated 300 million user’s world-wide. It has been described as SMS of the internet, because posts are short, sweet and to-the-point.

Twitter is a tidal wave of information. Posts come in at 140 characters or less and can be organized via hashtags (#). Topics range from totally practical(#workouts) to the absolutely absurd (#ThoseTeethThough).

3. YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing social media site that is owned by Google. There are more than 48 hours of new video uploaded to the site every minute. As a small business owner, using video in your online marketing strategy – and the back-end key words of your YouTube video - is just as important as your other online strategies.

4. Google+

Google is a power house (and personally, my most favorite company). Originally launched as a search engine company in 1996, Google has continually added, updated and created new products that will appeal to its 1 billion unique visitors per month. Re-read that…1 BILLION PER MONTH.

5. LinkedIn

Founded in 2002 and launched in 2003, LinkedIn is the most professional business-to-business social networking site. LinkedIn gets 2 new members every second, putting it at 135 million active users in more than 200 countries. Traditionally viewed as the premier spot to place your resume online and search for a job, LinkedIn has grown into a robust networking site.

I always recommend dedicating an hour or so a week maintaining your LinkedIn profile. Also, be sure to add your company listing, and update it as well. In other words, use your LinkedIn company profile page like a resume for your business.

For more tricks and tip, click HERE!

Zachary T. Brown
Marketing Director
StormsEdge Technology

Advantages of Using WordPress

WordPress? Isn’t that just a blog? That’s what most people think when you say you can build their company website with it. Truth is, there are many huge corporations who are well known that are currently using WordPress as their web backend.

Some of these companies include Fortune, Xerox, MTV News, Sony Music, and many more. Because of the easiness to change, add, remove, or update content. This makes Wordpress one of the most popular platforms to build on. Gone are the days of having to have access to the web server to change content on a website, with Wordpress you can access your website backend from any internet connected device with a browser. For your SEO person Wordpress is the easiest to work with and search engines love it for its simple code for them to be able to index easily.

Anyone that has ever played with Wordpress will be able to tell you that the best way to add any functionally you could think of is by using plug-in. Instead of spending months coding your own functionality to a website, there are thousands of plug-in that have been prebuilt. All you have to do is download and customize the plug-in for your site. Remember “there is an app for that” by Apple? Well the same holds true for the plug-in as well, whether you are looking for easy image slide shows or more security for your site, you can find a plug-in for that.

Has your company grown? Well if it has, one of the benefits is that Wordpress can grow with it. You can have thousands of pages on your website and not have to worry about the impact of performance. Need to build a store on our site, no problem, once again there is a plug-in for that.

Want to change the look and feel of your website? This can easily be done by selecting one of the thousands of themes available in the Wordpress repository. And don’t worry about the install, just like plug-in all you have to do is upload it into Wordpress and activate it.

The truth is, I could go on forever discussing all of the benefits to using Wordpress, but if you truly want to see the benefits for yourself, you just have to try it. So why not try the platform that even Google recommends for business websites?

If ever you need help with your WordPress site, contact us at 817.284.077!

Tracy Hazelton
System Technologist
StormsEdge Technology