Posts tagged "laptops"

10 Things You Should Know About Windows 10 Creators Update

April 19th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Desktop, Devices, Internet, Newsletters, Windows 10 0 thoughts on “10 Things You Should Know About Windows 10 Creators Update”

Microsoft officially released its significant update to Windows 10 on April 11th. The company is calling it the “Creators Update”. In comparison to the monthly updates that usually only contain minor changes and security fixes, the latest update has new features that are large and small.

BUT, before you go through with ANY update, be aware of the risks that you might be taking by completing the install. You may have insufficient hardware, driver problems, and application incompatibilities to name a few.

Please consult your IT support provider to hear if Windows 10 Creators Update is right for you. We always recommend time for any major update for bugs to be worked out. You don’t want to be the guinea pig. If there is no pressing need for the update or you do not require any of the new features or improvements to perform your job, hold off.

But, if you are interested, here are the top things to know about the Windows 10 Creators Update.

1. Phased Approach

The Creators update was released on April 11th, so why hasn’t your computer updated yet? Well, Microsoft is taking what it calls a “phased approach”. Which means that not everyone will get the update right away. Newer devices will receive the update first, then updates to other devices based on feedback Microsoft receives from the first group. This process will be repeated over the next several months according to Microsoft’s Director of Windows Servicing and Delivery, John Cable.

But, you can manually update via the Software Download Site if you can’t wait. The suggested way is to take advantage of the Update Assistant. In order to do so, go to the Software Download Site and click the “Update Now” button. While it’s manually updating, the privacy settings will appear as part of the first experience with the Creators update.

 

2. Mini View

The Mini View feature creates a compact overlay on your computer. Which means certain apps can go into picture mode in the corner of your screen. You can stream videos from YouTube, make a video call, keep a timer on top or place many other apps in the corner while you multitask with the rest of your screen. The minimalist mode can potentially be very useful for the multitaskers out there.

 

 

3. Night Light

If you’re wondering why you can’t sleep at night it might be because of the blue light coming from your screen. There’s already software out there such as F.lux that filters out this blue light. The Creators update will add a new function called the “Night Light” which will filter blue light, so you can sleep with ease. To activate Night Light, open the Settings app and then go to System > Display.

 

4. Microsoft Edge

Once the Creators update goes into effect for you, you’ll notice that the Edge browser is faster with better functionality. Utilizing Google’s own benchmark tool, the updated Edge browser scored faster than Chrome for loading and rendering sites. It also blocks more malware and phishing sites than Chrome with the SmartScreen Filter (read the report from NSS Labs). You’ll be able to manage your tabs easily in the Edge with the ability to organize and preview tabs without leaving your current page. You can set aside open tabs with one click and reopen them with the “tabs you’ve set aside” section. The Edge becomes an e-reader and it has the basic functions to adjust the font and text size on e-books, set bookmarks, search for terms and other features you’d expect from an e-reader.

 

5. Game Mode

If you’re one of the 150 million Americans that plays video games then this new feature should interest you. The Creators update includes “Game Mode” which allows Windows 10 to adjust its resource allocation logic to prioritize a game when it’s running. The update will also have a service called “Beam” that lets you take screen caps or videos of any game you are playing, load them up to your channel, and share them. Own an Xbox? Lucky for you because you can buy a game once, then play it on your Xbox or your computer. Now you can take your gaming on the road easily!

 

6. Improvements to Defender

A central dashboard for monitoring the security of your machine will be added to your computer called the Windows Defender Security Center. Your new dashboard will allow you to view your antivirus protection as well as your network and firewall protections. It also includes health & performance, application and browser controls, and family options. You can read more about it here:
Introducing Windows Defender Security Center.

 

7. 3D Paint

Here’s an upgrade everyone can get excited about: the new app, Paint 3D! You don’t need artistic creativity to use Paint 3D according to PCWorld’s Mark Hachman. People that don’t have any creative skills can actually create stunning 3D scenes. When you’re done making your work-of-art you can send it off to a 3D printer!

 

8. Dynamic Lock

Are you the type of person to hit Win + L to lock your computer every time you walk away? Well, here’s a handy new option for you, the Dynamic Lock. Pair your phone with your Windows 10 PC via Bluetooth and when you walk away with your phone for more than 30 seconds, your computer will lock and shut off the display. Users can setup the Dynamic Lock option within Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options.

 

9. Windows Ink

According to Microsoft, the Creators update will allow users to directly write on Word documents, web pages in Edge, maps, photos and videos.  The update will also add an ink toolbar with a tilt pencil effect and a protractor tool.

 

10. Windows Themes are Back

The Creators update will include new system colors and themes which will make your Windows 10 PC even more personal. You can head over to the Windows Store to choose from a large variety of pre-made themes.

There are many other features on the Windows 10 Creators update. Such as mixed/augmented reality, 4k monitor support, new sharing options, scheduled update installs, “My People” feature and much more!

We hope you found these tech tips handy! Remember, it’s not just about technology solutions. It’s about partnering with our clients to drive business success.

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at [email protected] if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Tech Tips for the Business Professional – Keyboard Shortcuts

March 29th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Desktop, Devices, Internet, Newsletters 0 thoughts on “Tech Tips for the Business Professional – Keyboard Shortcuts”

Time is money for most business professionals and you want to utilize every second that you have. It may not seem like a big time saver, but when you add up all the times you have to move your hand away the keyboard so you can “select”, “copy”, “paste” or any other similar functions, it starts to add up quick.

Memorize Keyboard Shortcuts

Memorizing shortcuts can be intimidating at first, but remember you don’t need to know every shortcut. You only need to learn and use the ones that are most important to you. Check out the shortcuts below to greatly improve your productivity.

Copy, Paste, and Other General Shortcuts

Press this key To do this
Ctrl + X Cut the selected item
Ctrl + C (or Ctrl + Insert) Copy the selected item
Ctrl + V (or Shift + Insert) Paste the selected item
Ctrl + Z Undo an action
Alt + Tab Switch between open apps
Alt + F4 Close the active item, or exit the active app
Ctrl + F Search for a word within a web page
F2 Rename the selected item
F3 Search for a file or folder in File Explorer
F4 Display the address bar list in File Explorer
F5 Refresh the active window
F6 Cycle through screen elements in a window or on the desktop
F10 Activate the Menu bar in the active app
Alt + F8 Show your password on the sign-in screen
Alt + Esc Cycle through items in the order in which they were opened
Ctrl + Y Redo an action
Ctrl + A Select all items in a document or window
Ctrl + D (or Delete) Delete the selected item and move it to the Recycle Bin
Ctrl + R (or F5) Refresh the active window
Ctrl + Shift + Esc Open Task Manager

The Shortcuts Don’t End There

There’s plenty more shortcuts then what we showed you above. If you want to check them out then you should follow these links:

Keyboard Shortcuts in Windows

Mac Keyboard Shortcuts

22 Best Shortcuts You’re Not Using

We hope you found these tech tips handy! Remember, it’s not just about technology solutions. It’s about partnering with our clients to drive business success.

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at [email protected] if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Create a Workstation with Purpose

March 17th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Desktop, Newsletters, Staff, workstation 1 thought on “Create a Workstation with Purpose”

Eight hours a day, five days a week – we all know what it’s like to feel tied to our desk. Considering we often spend more time at work than we do with our own family, how we feel at our desk has a huge influence on our day.

The build and set up of a workstation can make a real difference – better workflows, better ergonomics and better tool sets can prevent physical and emotional issues. It’s surprising how a few small changes can have a dramatic effect on employee productivity, mental health, and physical well-being.

Every workplace (and workstation) is different, but there are a few common denominators that should be considered across the board.

Me, Myself, and My Workstation

Let’s pause for a moment and focus on you. Most likely you’re at your desk right now. Think about your body. Any aches? Perhaps in the neck, shoulders, or wrists? Melt away discomfort with these easy ergonomic tricks:

  • Imagine how you sit in a car – knees level with hips, shoulders upright and your backside sticking out slightly. This is close to your body’s natural pose, forming your lumbar spine into slight ‘S’.
  • Reach out and touch your screen with your fingertips – any closer or further away and you run the risk of eyestrain.
  • The top of your desk should be roughly level with your elbows so that you’re not hunching to reach up or down to the keyboard and mouse.
  • Keep the phone within arm’s reach. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, consider investing in a headset to save crunching your neck.
  • Keep the monitor at eye level so you’re not craning your neck downwards. (Hint – close your eyes, when you open them they should fall on the address bar in your browser.)

Tension Points

While these ergonomic principles will go a long way towards easing the work day, there are ways to adapt office-wide furniture situations to cater for individual needs – all with the benefit of boosting productivity.

For example, recent studies have shown that having multiple monitors can dramatically boost productivity by streamlining workflow and processes – showing that multi-screen arrays are no longer the domain of programmers and filmmakers. An ergonomically sound multi-screen setup can help any employee work across multiple programs, track email and documents, monitor data flows, and transcribe or check information. With the cost of flat-screen monitors continually dropping, this can be a surprisingly low-cost way to increase productivity.

Another thing to consider when it comes to monitors is eye strain. In the same way that Apple’s iOS now automatically shifts to ‘night mode’ after a certain time of night, many computer monitors have settings that reduce blue light emissions. Look for monitors with a range of settings for different situations, so employees can set the brightness and light type for their own comfort. One thing to note here is the tendency of workers to sit down at a desk and accept their computer’s settings as they are. Make sure everyone is aware of the options available, and encourage them to make changes to settings, positioning and format to suit their needs.

Foot rests, ergonomic mouse devices, screen stands and standing desks, while perhaps once considered a luxury, are fast becoming the norm. These ease pressure on the back, neck, wrist, and anything that can enable staff to keep focus for longer and perform more effectively pays for itself in the long run.

A lot of people are increasingly focused on wellness, and sitting has been widely denigrated as ‘the new smoking’: bad for your back, bad for your heart, and bad for your life expectancy. Offering staff members the option of a standing desk will not only help them focus and keep them well, they will appreciate the gesture of concern for their wellbeing.

To summarize, a carefully designed workstation pays for itself many times over in productivity and efficiency, so ensure you put the time in during the planning stage to get the most from your investment.

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at [email protected] if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

The Surprising Secret of Happy Workers

February 22nd, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Desktop, Devices, Internet, Newsletters 0 thoughts on “The Surprising Secret of Happy Workers”

When the gurus talk about their recipes for happy workers, they seldom mention technology. Information technology is normally only discussed in terms of productivity. But it turns out employers looking for a happy (and productive) workforce ignore technology at their cost.

“Lifestyle IT” Reaches the Office

Technology is marketed as aspirational. Phones are not sold to consumers as something they can use to make calls. New computers are not marketed in terms of being able to open Microsoft Word faster than their predecessors. Consumers are persuaded to buy technology because it will enhance their lifestyle.

That idea of technology offering something more than plain functionality infiltrated the office a few years ago. Just over 40 percent of employees say having the latest and greatest technology is “very important” to them.

Use It or Lose Them

One out of four employees say the quality of the technology in the workplace would influence their decision to stay with one employer or move to another. This is even truer at the management level. Management expects the best technology. If they do not get it, they are more likely to leave.

What To Do?

IT decision makers had plenty to juggle before being told their decisions affect employee happiness and retention. There are some quick fixes.

First, Hear Them

Employees report being disgruntled when not included in IT decisions. Less than half of employees feel decision makers take their views into account when selecting technology.

A simple first step to improve employee engagement is to talk to them about the technology they need to do their jobs. You don’t know until you try whether consulting employees will cost you more. They might want something different, not something more expensive. Even if it cannot be done, you have provided a forum to explain why.

Second, Enable Them

More than half of employees are using their own devices for work or expect to do so in the future. Letting them do so could relieve some of the pressure on you. It is one reason 54 percent of companies globally are allowing BYOD.

The key is to allow it in a structured way. If you forbid it, there is a chance employees will do it anyway. That opens holes in security. Even of companies that formally allow BYOD, only 27 percent are securing the personal devices. Policies, permissions, and structure are important.

The idea of engaging employees in dialogue about a subject as involved as business technology might not seem appealing. The financial rewards, however, can be attractive. In some organizations, even the slightest uptick in retention rates can be significant.

The same is true when it comes to employee happiness and productivity. And with consumers being better educated about technology than ever, you might just learn something too.

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at [email protected] if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Page Versus Screen – Is There a Balance?

February 8th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Desktop, Devices, Internet, Newsletters 0 thoughts on “Page Versus Screen – Is There a Balance?”

For years, the debate has raged, but research hasn’t been able to prove one way or another if we retain information better when we’ve read it from a physical page – in a book, magazine or newspaper– than when we’ve read it online, with a tablet, mobile device or other screen.

And hopefully it never will, with ‘screen time’ such a big part of our lives. Computers and mobile devices are versatile and make information more accessible, so striking a balance between children’s appetite for information and their ability to digest it is crucial for primary, secondary, and even tertiary educators.

So, is the page mightier than the screen? Should we choose one over the other, or can we still find balance?

Page or Screen?

Leading researchers believe that there is a tangible relationship between text written on a physical page and the way the brain responds to and retains what is written on that page. Studies in the early 2000s indicated that students performed better in exams when they had studied the information for tests from textbooks and other printed sources. However, a 2013 survey by the UK National Literacy Trust found that over 52% of students aged 8–16 preferred reading on electronic devices, and only 32% preferred print. In fact, research indicates the next generation of students are reading well on digital devices.

In reality, banishing the screen is a near-impossible task. With students issued laptops at all ages, and doing more of their research and homework online, the screens are here to stay whether they’re helping or not.

So, the question becomes: How can educators deploy screen time for best effect?

Technology in the Classroom

Implementing simple strategies like giving students extra time to familiarize themselves with the devices they’ll be using before reading texts mean they won’t be distracted by functionality while trying to concentrate.

Screens and e-readers should be used in the same way as printed text – one device per student, not one shared among a group. This way, students will be more easily immersed in learning – without the distraction of tussling with a neighbor over ownership.

Although it can be both a blessing and a curse, connecting devices to the internet allows for more collaboration, enabling students to compare how their fellow pupils are engaging with a text. For example, sharing information online (for example, by allowing students to see which passages in a text their peers have highlighted, or by making students’ digital annotations visible to their classmates) can help the whole class to improve their understanding of a text.

This should be balanced with an emphasis on the importance of each student developing their own understanding, so teachers need to keep track of their progress by continuing to ask questions of individual students.

The future success of ‘digital natives’ using devices more frequently in their learning will rest in the same place it always has done – in the quality of the materials, in the ways educators implement them and in the way students are nurtured to use them effectively.

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at [email protected] if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Traditional Typing Skills in the Digital Age

February 8th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Desktop, Devices, Newsletters, typing 0 thoughts on “Traditional Typing Skills in the Digital Age”

Handwriting is in decline as students increasingly use digital forms of writing throughout their lives – from their personal communications through to their essays. Does this mean learning to touch-type is now a vital skill? Perhaps not – there’s researching suggestion that knowing how to touch-type doesn’t necessarily make you a faster or more accurate typist.

Although many students will be happy and effective muddling along with their own ‘hunt and peck’ strategy, there are benefits to be gained from a typing course beyond just speed and accuracy.

A high words-per-minute rate may no longer be a requirement for finding a job, but being able to type quickly and accurately may help students make sure their hands keep up with their thoughts, letting them express themselves more confidently and study more effectively.

Early typing skills

With children becoming computer-literate at younger and younger ages, keyboard skills are increasingly important even in early primary school to prevent bad habits from setting in.

Encourage students in the early years to use two hands instead of one to type, and to use the hand that sits closest to the letter they are typing – letters to the left of the keyboard with the left hand and vice-versa. Color coding the keyboard with stickers can help them quickly and easily identify which half of the keys to hit with a right or left hand finger.

Encourage students to use their thumbs for the space bar so they don’t get in the habit of moving their hands too much, but it doesn’t matter at this early stage if they’re not using all ten fingers. The key is to get them familiar with the keys, and thinking about how to reach them as quickly as possible.

Intermediate typists

Students in the middle and upper levels of primary school – whose hands can more easily reach across a keyboard – could start learning more structured techniques, and to incorporate more of their fingers.

A fun challenge to test progress could be to practice writing texts without looking at the keyboard. Students often become used to looking at both text and keyboard at once by typing on touchscreens, and so may not realize that they’re relying on seeing the keys all the time.

Adding touch-typing to lessons

With curriculum testing moving online, now is the perfect time to reintroduce touch-typing courses. The vast array of inexpensive, fun and educational typing software, games and online resources makes it easy for educators to start teaching this valuable skill today.

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at [email protected] if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

Technology Disposition

January 17th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Data, Desktop, Devices, E-Waste, Newsletters, Operating System, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “Technology Disposition”

Donate or Recycle Your Electronics, But Don’t Throw it Away!

Donating and recycling your electronics is the best way to help the environment by conserving resources and natural materials. It is critical to make sure you are donating and/or recycling electronics safely and correctly.

Computers, printers and other electronics contain a variety of unsafe and toxic substances, that when discarded improperly can pose risks to our health and the environment. These products are also made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

Contribute your old computers and phones to groups that will fix and clean them and put them back into circulation. Even the oldest computer—something you consider the most obsolete of digital dinosaurs—can probably be used by someone.

 

While it’s great to recycle parts, your old and unwanted gadgets can be incredibly useful to someone else. These non-profits and programs work to refurbish and deliver cellphones and other electronics to those in need.

Call2Recycle: Call2Recycle program is a free and easy way for earth-conscious folks like yourself to get rid of your old batteries and cellphones.

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: You can donate your unwanted cellphones to the NCADV, which partners with Cellular Recycler for the collection of used electronics and uses proceeds from refurbished gadgets to help stop domestic violence.

Many local non-profits would be happy to take your old computers, devices, printers and other electronics. The La Plata County Humane Society Thrift Store is one of those non-profits that would gladly take your electronics off your hands.

Another concern is the destruction of all data on any hardware you are disposing. Obviously you do not want any of your data or your customer’s data getting in the wrong hands. Think can wipe sensitive data from your hardware before you choose to donate or recycle it.

Where to Recycle Your Old Electronics?

Can you bring your electronics to any recycling facility? Before you do, you should check to see if your recycling facility has a E-Steward Certified as well as IS14001 Certified because that means they comply with e-waste recycling standards as well as being environmentally responsible. The Durango Recycling Center holds both of those certificates and that’s where Think Network Technologies recycles all of their computers, monitors, devices and other electronics. They only accept e-waste on Saturdays or if you’re a business you have to call to schedule a drop-off.

If you are a client of Think and located within city limits we will pick up your recyclables. We’ll make all the arrangements for you. Please call us at (970)247-1885 if you would like to hear our prices.

Here are some more articles and websites about recycling e-waste.

EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)

Mashable – 4 Ways to Recycle Your Old Gadgets

PC Mag – How to Recycle Your Technology

E-Stewards for Recyclers

Durango Recycling Center

Let the Think specialists help you and your company! Please contact our sales team at [email protected] if you would like our recommendations or a quote.

The Essentials

Do Not Rule Out The Desktop Yet

November 3rd, 2016 Posted by Best Practices, Desktop, Devices, Hosted Services, Internet, Newsletters, Services 0 thoughts on “Do Not Rule Out The Desktop Yet”
Reports of the demise of the PC industry are greatly exaggerated. In fact, market research firm IDC forecasts PC sales will “stabilize” by 2018 and then record slow, steady growth. Another indication of the health of the PC industry is the news of improving demand from chip maker Intel. Reports of the demise of the PC industry are greatly exaggerated.

Plenty of upside to this “down” PC market

Two trends in particular have depressed PC sales, according to analysts:

  1. People are buying more mobile devices and using them for some traditional desktop tasks
  2. The quality of the PCs themselves has improved so much that the machines now have much longer lifespans

After 8% declines in 2015 and 2016, Gartner projects that PC shipments will increase by 0.4% in 2017 and 3% in 2018.

In fact, PC sales continue to outpace the projections of experts. It turns out, people like tablets and smart phones for applications, but they continue to rely on laptops and desktops to get the bulk of their work done—and a good deal of non-work as well.

Reports of the demise of the PC industry are greatly exaggerated

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