Top productivity hacks for computer users

We’re all obsessed with finding new ways to become more productive. Business gurus often emphasize the importance of time management and taking breaks to avoid burnout. But aside from motivating yourself to work more efficiently, there are plenty of tools that increase your daily output. If you use a computer all day, check out these productivity hacks.

Monitor productivity levels
Start by tracking how much work you complete on an average day. Google Chrome Extensions like RescueTime record your most frequently visited sites, and track how much time you spend away from your computer. Running the app will provide you with a productivity rating and a detailed log of how you spend an average day.

If you find out you’re wasting a huge portion of your time on social networking, you’re more likely to make conscious adjustments on how you manage your time.

Get rid of clutter
Another way to increase output is by deleting old files, uninstalling unused programs, and organizing documents into appropriately labeled folders. This makes your work easier to find and improves your computer’s performance.

As for the clutter in your email inbox, Gmail and Outlook both have features that filter out unimportant messages. Simply enable Priority Inbox on Gmail or Clutter on Outlook to get a clean, spam-free inbox.

Block time-wasting sites
Visiting non-work-related websites is a surefire way to hinder productivity. A quick, five-minute break to check your Facebook feed or watch a YouTube clip may not seem like much, but a few of those per day add up to a lot of time.

If you and your employees have trouble staying away from sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s a good idea to block access to them using URL filters.

Of course, if you want your employees to take occasional breaks during the day, you could use apps like StayFocusd or Strict Workflow. These allow you to set a limit on how long and how many times users can visit non-work-related sites.

Stay on track with to-do lists
To-do lists help you break down large projects into manageable, bite-sized tasks. And perhaps the most satisfying aspect is crossing things off the list, giving you and your employees a sense of accomplishment and total visibility of your progress.

There are wide variety of digital to-do lists available today like Google Tasks or Trello. These platforms allow you to set deadlines for small tasks and write clear instructions for each item on the list. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to use and are great for keeping track of your workflow.

Use keyboard shortcuts
Last but not least, mastering keyboard shortcuts will make it easier to perform simple functions than if you’re stuck looking for them in the toolbar. There are more than a hundred useful shortcuts, but some that you should always keep in mind are:

    • Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + X – to copy, paste, and cut selected items
    • Ctrl + Z – to undo changes
    • Ctrl + T – to open a new tab on your web browser
    • Alt + Tab – to switch between open windows
    • Alt + F4 – to close the program

For many more like these, take a look at Windows’ list of advanced shortcuts.

These are just some of the tips every user should know to stay productive. If you need more ideas on how to get more out of your technology, call us today. We provide enterprise-level tools and advice that will make your life a lot easier.

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Simple tricks to boost your productivity

When you spend more than eight hours a day staring at a computer screen, it can be easy to lose focus on important tasks. While your device gives you access to some of the most useful applications, an ever-growing number of distractions are vying for your attention. Here are a few tricks for boosting your productivity levels.

Monitor productivity levels
Start by tracking how much work you complete on an average day. Google Chrome Extensions like RescueTime record your most frequently visited sites, and track how much time you spend away from your computer. Running the app will provide you with a productivity rating and a detailed log of how you spend an average day.

If you find out you’re wasting a huge portion of your time on social networking, you’re more likely to make conscious adjustments on how you manage your time.

Get rid of clutter
Another way to increase output is by deleting old files, uninstalling unused programs, and organizing documents into appropriately labeled folders. This makes your work easier to find and improves your computer’s performance.

As for the clutter in your email inbox, Gmail and Outlook both have features that filter out unimportant messages. Simply enable Priority Inbox on Gmail or Clutter on Outlook to get a clean, spam-free inbox.

Block time-wasting sites
Visiting non-work-related websites is a surefire way to hinder productivity. A quick, five-minute break to check your Facebook feed or watch a YouTube clip may not seem like much, but a few of those per day add up to a lot of time.

If you and your employees have trouble staying away from sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s a good idea to block access to them using URL filters.

Of course, if you want your employees to take occasional breaks during the day, you could use apps like StayFocusd or Strict Workflow. These allow you to set a limit on how long and how many times users can visit non-work-related sites.

Stay on track with to-do lists
To-do lists help you break down large projects into manageable, bite-sized tasks. And perhaps the most satisfying aspect is crossing things off the list, giving you and your employees a sense of accomplishment and total visibility of your progress.

There are wide variety of digital to-do lists available today like Google Tasks or Trello. These platforms allow you to set deadlines for small tasks and write clear instructions for each item on the list. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to use and are great for keeping track of your workflow.

Use keyboard shortcuts
Last but not least, mastering keyboard shortcuts will make it easier to perform simple functions than if you’re stuck looking for them in the toolbar. There are more than a hundred useful shortcuts, but some that you should always keep in mind are:

    • Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + X – to copy, paste, and cut selected items
    • Ctrl + Z – to undo changes
    • Ctrl + T – to open a new tab on your web browser
    • Alt + Tab – to switch between open windows
    • Alt + F4 – to close the program

For many more like these, take a look at Windows’ list of advanced shortcuts.

These are just some of the tips every user should know to stay productive. If you need more ideas on how to get more out of your technology, call us today. We provide enterprise-level tools and advice that will make your life a lot easier.

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Google enhances its website creation app

Google Sites, one of Google’s lesser-known applications, allows businesses to intra-company create websites in minutes. Previously, G Suite account owners used it to design websites using simple templates. But with new enhancements to Google Sites, users have even more design options and features.

Simplified interface

Previous editions of Google Sites had plenty of complex and unnecessary features, which overwhelmed some users. In the latest version, the interface is much easier to use, thanks to a single-column layout and no sidebar in the work area. It also has simplified navigation menu options (top or side menu) and page headers (plain banner, large banner, title-only) that display nicely on desktop and mobile devices.

Easier content embedding

The latest version makes it much easier to add links. When embedding external content, users have the option to show or hide the link’s featured image, link title, and description. In case a link doesn’t embed successfully, Sites will at least show the content’s URL.

You can also conveniently add content from your Google Drive, whether it’s Docs, Videos, Forms, Slides, or Sheets. Visitors can preview this content while hovering their cursor over the link. And like the previous Google Sites, this feature is integrated with Google apps, Calendar, Maps, and YouTube.

Simultaneous site creation

If you’ve ever used Google Docs or Sheets, you know the convenience it offers when working on a single file. In the new version of Sites, multiple users can work on a single website project without having to deal with the complicated permission settings in the old version. This feature allows for easier collaboration and faster website completion times.

More customizable sections

It’s not a matter of if, but when you’re going to want to make changes to your website. For example, you might want to switch the position of certain images. Using Google Sites, you’ll be able to do this effortlessly.

There are easy-to-follow grid lines that guide users in moving their site’s content sections up or down. It’s also easier to resize content frames so that a page’s elements (e.g., an image, a Sheets file) can be easily adjusted depending on your preferences.

You can also make some changes on content images’ backgrounds either by adding an image or changing the background color to white, gray or black. What’s more, if you choose to implement the helpful auto-enhance feature, it will make quick adjustments to your backgrounds.

The new Google Sites also introduces a significant improvement in its publish settings. Users now have to choose only either public or private. Previously, the app made users run through several options for setting access permissions on a page-level; now, an admin has to choose only between sharing the website publicly and sharing it internally.

Needless to say, if you’re using G Suite, Google Sites should be in the list of tools. But regardless of which apps your company uses, there are plenty of little-known features out there that could help you work more efficiently and productively. Our technology consultants can help — call us today.

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Handy updates in Google’s website creator

Does your business rely on internal websites and “wikis”? If so, you might want to use Google Sites, a design platform that makes it easy for G Suite users to build their own sites without having to learn HTML, CSS, and other coding languages. It now has better features, which users will definitely find beneficial to their site projects.

Simplified interface

Previous editions of Google Sites had plenty of complex and unnecessary features, which overwhelmed some users. In the latest version, the interface is much easier to use, thanks to a single-column layout and no sidebar in the work area. It also has simplified navigation menu options (top or side menu) and page headers (plain banner, large banner, title-only) that display nicely on desktop and mobile devices.

Easier content embedding

The latest version makes it much easier to add links. When embedding external content, users have the option to show or hide the link’s featured image, link title, and description. In case a link doesn’t embed successfully, Sites will at least show the content’s URL.

You can also conveniently add content from your Google Drive, whether it’s Docs, Videos, Forms, Slides, or Sheets. Visitors can preview this content while hovering their cursor over the link. And like the previous Google Sites, this feature is integrated with Google apps, Calendar, Maps, and YouTube.

Simultaneous site creation

If you’ve ever used Google Docs or Sheets, you know the convenience it offers when working on a single file. In the new version of Sites, multiple users can work on a single website project without having to deal with the complicated permission settings in the old version. This feature allows for easier collaboration and faster website completion times.

More customizable sections

It’s not a matter of if, but when you’re going to want to make changes to your website. For example, you might want to switch the position of certain images. Using Google Sites, you’ll be able to do this effortlessly.

There are easy-to-follow grid lines that guide users in moving their site’s content sections up or down. It’s also easier to resize content frames so that a page’s elements (e.g., an image, a Sheets file) can be easily adjusted depending on your preferences.

You can also make some changes on content images’ backgrounds either by adding an image or changing the background color to white, gray or black. What’s more, if you choose to implement the helpful auto-enhance feature, it will make quick adjustments to your backgrounds.

The new Google Sites also introduces a significant improvement in its publish settings. Users now have to choose only either public or private. Previously, the app made users run through several options for setting access permissions on a page-level; now, an admin has to choose only between sharing the website publicly and sharing it internally.

Needless to say, if you’re using G Suite, Google Sites should be in the list of tools. But regardless of which apps your company uses, there are plenty of little-known features out there that could help you work more efficiently and productively. Our technology consultants can help — call us today.

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Useful new features in Google Sites

When it was launched in 2008, Google Sites introduced a new way for G Suite users to build internal websites and “wikis” from scratch, and even users with zero coding knowledge could build one. Since then, Google has made a few slick enhancements to its simple website creation tool. Here are some of the more remarkable improvements.

Simplified interface

Previous editions of Google Sites had plenty of complex and unnecessary features, which overwhelmed some users. In the latest version, the interface is much easier to use, thanks to a single-column layout and no sidebar in the work area. It also has simplified navigation menu options (top or side menu) and page headers (plain banner, large banner, title-only) that display nicely on desktop and mobile devices.

Easier content embedding

The latest version makes it much easier to add links. When embedding external content, users have the option to show or hide the link’s featured image, link title, and description. In case a link doesn’t embed successfully, Sites will at least show the content’s URL.

You can also conveniently add content from your Google Drive, whether it’s Docs, Videos, Forms, Slides, or Sheets. Visitors can preview this content while hovering their cursor over the link. And like the previous Google Sites, this feature is integrated with Google apps, Calendar, Maps, and YouTube.

Simultaneous site creation

If you’ve ever used Google Docs or Sheets, you know the convenience it offers when working on a single file. In the new version of Sites, multiple users can work on a single website project without having to deal with the complicated permission settings in the old version. This feature allows for easier collaboration and faster website completion times.

More customizable sections

It’s not a matter of if, but when you’re going to want to make changes to your website. For example, you might want to switch the position of certain images. Using Google Sites, you’ll be able to do this effortlessly.

There are easy-to-follow grid lines that guide users in moving their site’s content sections up or down. It’s also easier to resize content frames so that a page’s elements (e.g., an image, a Sheets file) can be easily adjusted depending on your preferences.

You can also make some changes on content images’ backgrounds either by adding an image or changing the background color to white, gray or black. What’s more, if you choose to implement the helpful auto-enhance feature, it will make quick adjustments to your backgrounds.

The new Google Sites also introduces a significant improvement in its publish settings. Users now have to choose only either public or private. Previously, the app made users run through several options for setting access permissions on a page-level; now, an admin has to choose only between sharing the website publicly and sharing it internally.

Needless to say, if you’re using G Suite, Google Sites should be in the list of tools. But regardless of which apps your company uses, there are plenty of little-known features out there that could help you work more efficiently and productively. Our technology consultants can help — call us today.

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Here comes Firefox Quantum

Google Chrome wasn’t always the browser of choice for internet users. Before 2008, people turned to Safari, Opera, and even Internet Explorer. But all of that changed with the arrival of Firefox, the reigning champ of its time. And now, we think it deserves your attention once again.

What is it?

Firefox Quantum, AKA Firefox 57, is Mozilla’s newest and fastest web browser, a culmination of years of Mozilla engineer’s hard work if you will.

What has changed?

Most of the updates in Firefox Quantum comes from Mozilla’s experimental web browser layout engine called Servo. It has been the testing platform for all of Firefox’s new features, including a new programming language called Rust that Mozilla had developed.

Rust is important because it allows Firefox Quantum to take full advantage of multiple CPU cores, a functionality that no previous versions of Firefox have. This gives the web browser a substantial speed boost. It also means that Firefox now uses 30% less RAM, possibly even less than Chrome.

Apart from speed, Firefox Quantum comes with a simple, streamlined interface that can be customized based on your preferences.

Mozilla has also made sure that the web browser’s display has clearer definitions on high-DPI screens and work better on laptops with touchscreens.

Firefox Quantum still comes with Pocket, a feature which lets you save articles, videos, pages, and other files to an easily accessible folder. It also has screenshot functionality and a reading mode that hides anything other than the page’s contents to remove any distractions.

All in all, Firefox Quantum seems to have tackled all the gripes that led many users to Chrome: speed and resource usage. The final version is scheduled to launch on November 14th, 2017.

Until then, you can test its features in the current beta or developer release. And as always, if you have any questions or would love to know more about how the web might benefit your business, just give us a call.

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Why you shouldn’t write off Firefox

Mozilla, the creator of Firefox, has spent some time and energy on projects that ended up going nowhere. But this time , they seem to have found their focus. No, it’s not on their built-in video chat service or mobile phone OS, but rather something that should’ve been obvious to them, their most successful product, Firefox.

What is it?

Firefox Quantum, AKA Firefox 57, is Mozilla’s newest and fastest web browser, a culmination of years of Mozilla engineer’s hard work if you will.

What has changed?

Most of the updates in Firefox Quantum comes from Mozilla’s experimental web browser layout engine called Servo. It has been the testing platform for all of Firefox’s new features, including a new programming language called Rust that Mozilla had developed.

Rust is important because it allows Firefox Quantum to take full advantage of multiple CPU cores, a functionality that no previous versions of Firefox have. This gives the web browser a substantial speed boost. It also means that Firefox now uses 30% less RAM, possibly even less than Chrome.

Apart from speed, Firefox Quantum comes with a simple, streamlined interface that can be customized based on your preferences.

Mozilla has also made sure that the web browser’s display has clearer definitions on high-DPI screens and work better on laptops with touchscreens.

Firefox Quantum still comes with Pocket, a feature which lets you save articles, videos, pages, and other files to an easily accessible folder. It also has screenshot functionality and a reading mode that hides anything other than the page’s contents to remove any distractions.

All in all, Firefox Quantum seems to have tackled all the gripes that led many users to Chrome: speed and resource usage. The final version is scheduled to launch on November 14th, 2017.

Until then, you can test its features in the current beta or developer release. And as always, if you have any questions or would love to know more about how the web might benefit your business, just give us a call.

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Mozilla unveils major browser update

Firefox has seen better days before the arrival of Google Chrome. But earlier this week, Mozilla, the nonprofit organization behind Firefox, has announced an upgrade that gives other internet browsers a run for their money. Here’s what you need to know.

What is it?

Firefox Quantum, AKA Firefox 57, is Mozilla’s newest and fastest web browser, a culmination of years of Mozilla engineer’s hard work if you will.

What has changed?

Most of the updates in Firefox Quantum comes from Mozilla’s experimental web browser layout engine called Servo. It has been the testing platform for all of Firefox’s new features, including a new programming language called Rust that Mozilla had developed.

Rust is important because it allows Firefox Quantum to take full advantage of multiple CPU cores, a functionality that no previous versions of Firefox have. This gives the web browser a substantial speed boost. It also means that Firefox now uses 30% less RAM, possibly even less than Chrome.

Apart from speed, Firefox Quantum comes with a simple, streamlined interface that can be customized based on your preferences.

Mozilla has also made sure that the web browser’s display has clearer definitions on high-DPI screens and work better on laptops with touchscreens.

Firefox Quantum still comes with Pocket, a feature which lets you save articles, videos, pages, and other files to an easily accessible folder. It also has screenshot functionality and a reading mode that hides anything other than the page’s contents to remove any distractions.

All in all, Firefox Quantum seems to have tackled all the gripes that led many users to Chrome: speed and resource usage. The final version is scheduled to launch on November 14th, 2017.

Until then, you can test its features in the current beta or developer release. And as always, if you have any questions or would love to know more about how the web might benefit your business, just give us a call.

Posted in General Articles B, Web & Cloud | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Top tips for picking the right power supply

There are plenty of hardware specifications to consider when installing a new workstation in the office, but one you should focus on first is the power supply unit (PSU). Choosing a faulty, substandard PSU often leads to unstable systems and poor performance. Make sure you have the perfect power supply for your workstations by following this guide.

Higher isn’t always better
Many users assume the higher the total wattage, the better the performance of the PSU. While enormous 1800W PSUs are useful for running multiple drives and graphics-intensive applications, they’re unnecessary and often cost you an arm and a leg.

Most computers don’t run at full capacity all the time. In fact, if your computer has mid-level graphics cards, processors, and RAM, 600W is more than enough.

To find out exactly how much you need, online PSU calculators will give you a rough estimate of your daily power consumption. Once you’ve calculated how much wattage you need, you’ll ideally want a PSU that has a slightly higher total wattage limit to provide some headroom in case you want to install additional components later.

Pay attention to efficiency ratings
Highly efficient PSUs tend to have more effective components, consume less energy, and produce less heat, which saves you from huge monthly energy and cooling bills.

The best way to determine whether your PSU is efficient is to look for ones with “80 Plus” certifications. This certification means that a unit is at least 80% efficient, and loses approximately 20% as heat.

Note that higher efficiency ratings equal higher prices, so be sure to weigh the potential energy and cooling savings against the upfront cost of the PSU.

Consider larger PSUs
Although they can be quite cumbersome, larger PSUs are more reliable than lightweight models. Large PSUs are equipped with more advanced internal components and better cooling management. Fans are larger too, which means they can move more air, make less noise, and keep your workstation cool.

Choose your cables wisely
When it comes to cabling, you have three options: hard-wired cabling, partially modular cabling, or fully modular cabling.

  • Hard-wired cables are attached directly to the PSU box. While this setup is cheaper than the other two cabling options, the number of plugs are limited and not suited for customization.
  • Fully modular cabling means all PSU cables are removable, making installation and cabling management easy. These PSU models, however, tend to be much more expensive than other types of cabling.
  • Partially modular cabling takes the best of both worlds, providing necessary cables for the PSU while giving room for other components at a moderate price.

Research the manufacturer
Ideally, your PSU should be provided by a reliable manufacturer that offers reasonable warranties and comprehensive support. Most people tend to opt for Corsair, Seasonic, and Antec PSUs, but you should still take time to research the products.

Look for customer reviews about the specific make and model of your PSU. If that’s not possible, get a hardware technician’s expert opinion.

Choosing the right hardware can be extremely difficult, especially if you don’t have the technical know how. So if you need more guidance about all things related to hardware, call us today. We’re more than happy to answer any of your questions.

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Don’t forget about the power supply unit!

When it comes to purchasing hardware, processors and graphics cards are often the first things people consider. But equally important are power supply units (PSUs). If you completely overlook PSU specifications, it can end up costing your business in more ways than one. Here are a few useful tips to remember when choosing a power supply for your workstations.

Higher isn’t always better
Many users assume the higher the total wattage, the better the performance of the PSU. While enormous 1800W PSUs are useful for running multiple drives and graphics-intensive applications, they’re unnecessary and often cost you an arm and a leg.

Most computers don’t run at full capacity all the time. In fact, if your computer has mid-level graphics cards, processors, and RAM, 600W is more than enough.

To find out exactly how much you need, online PSU calculators will give you a rough estimate of your daily power consumption. Once you’ve calculated how much wattage you need, you’ll ideally want a PSU that has a slightly higher total wattage limit to provide some headroom in case you want to install additional components later.

Pay attention to efficiency ratings
Highly efficient PSUs tend to have more effective components, consume less energy, and produce less heat, which saves you from huge monthly energy and cooling bills.

The best way to determine whether your PSU is efficient is to look for ones with “80 Plus” certifications. This certification means that a unit is at least 80% efficient, and loses approximately 20% as heat.

Note that higher efficiency ratings equal higher prices, so be sure to weigh the potential energy and cooling savings against the upfront cost of the PSU.

Consider larger PSUs
Although they can be quite cumbersome, larger PSUs are more reliable than lightweight models. Large PSUs are equipped with more advanced internal components and better cooling management. Fans are larger too, which means they can move more air, make less noise, and keep your workstation cool.

Choose your cables wisely
When it comes to cabling, you have three options: hard-wired cabling, partially modular cabling, or fully modular cabling.

  • Hard-wired cables are attached directly to the PSU box. While this setup is cheaper than the other two cabling options, the number of plugs are limited and not suited for customization.
  • Fully modular cabling means all PSU cables are removable, making installation and cabling management easy. These PSU models, however, tend to be much more expensive than other types of cabling.
  • Partially modular cabling takes the best of both worlds, providing necessary cables for the PSU while giving room for other components at a moderate price.

Research the manufacturer
Ideally, your PSU should be provided by a reliable manufacturer that offers reasonable warranties and comprehensive support. Most people tend to opt for Corsair, Seasonic, and Antec PSUs, but you should still take time to research the products.

Look for customer reviews about the specific make and model of your PSU. If that’s not possible, get a hardware technician’s expert opinion.

Choosing the right hardware can be extremely difficult, especially if you don’t have the technical know how. So if you need more guidance about all things related to hardware, call us today. We’re more than happy to answer any of your questions.

Posted in General Articles B, Hardware | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed
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