Don’t Drain Your Smartphone’s Battery

Smartphones are wonderful tools. They let you watch movies while you’re taking the train to work. They let you make reservations at that hot new French restaurant, map out the quickest route to the theater in the next city, and give you access to the hottest online games.

But there’s one weakness that almost every smartphone shares: short battery life.

This is a frustrating problem. As you’re logging onto the Web, checking your e-mail messages, and making phone calls, you’re draining your phone’s battery. With many of the top smartphones on the market, you’re fortunate to make it home after the workday with enough battery life left to squeeze in one quick call for take-out food.

As PCWorld magazine explains, the problem comes down to this: Smartphones do too much. And by doing so, they consume more than their fair share of power.

There are steps, though, that you can take to increase the life of your smartphone’s battery. And PCWorld shares them with you. By shutting off some of your phone’s extra features, you might be able to squeeze enough extra juice out of your battery to keep your smartphone humming all day long.

Dimming that smartphone screen

First, PCWorld recommends that you dim your cell phone’s screen. A bright, cluttered screen display sucks the life out of batteries. By switching your screen’s brightness level to the lowest you can stand, you’ll already be doing much to boost the lifespan of your smartphone’s battery.

Screen lighting

You can save battery power, too, by adjusting how quickly your screen stays lit after receiving an input such as a screen tap. The longer your screen stays lit, the worse it is on your battery life.

Bluetooth

PCWorld also recommends that you turn off Bluetooth when you aren’t expecting a call or when you aren’t driving in your car. Bluetooth, because it is constantly listening for outside signals, is another major drain on your battery. By shutting it off, you’ll again significantly increase the life of your smartphone’s battery.

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Manage Your Employees the High-tech Way with These Apps

Starting a new business is no easy task. It’s why so many businesses fail during their start-up years.

However, you can give yourself an edge in at least one area – how you manage people. Inc. magazine reviewed some of the best apps for managing employees. By using these apps, smart business owners can reduce the time they spend on making sure that their employees are as productive as possible.

If you’re not using the apps listed below, then, you’re not giving your small business its best chance to succeed.

Here is a look at three key apps for best managing your small business’s employees.

Labor Time Tracker

As Inc. says, it seems a bit old-fashioned to have your employees punch in and out using physical time sheets. A better option is Labor Time Tracker, an app that costs about $4.95 a month for every employee.

With this app, employees punch in their hours on a virtual card. This lets you see immediately who is working and who is out for the day. Labor Time Tracker also tracks overtime hours and pay. It will work, too, in multiple time zones.

Trello

As Inc. notes, Trello is one of a large number of organization apps designed to keep business owners on task, but Trello does differ in one important way: It lets business owners add employees and contractors to their various to-do lists. This way, everyone in a company can see these lists and keep track of what needs to be done throughout the day.

Trello also lets business owners assign tasks to their employees and send them messages related to the business’s various to-do lists.

TribeHR

TribeHR ranks among the best human-resources apps out there. Even more importantly, it’s inexpensive – just $2 a month for each user.

As Inc. says, the app allows business owners to track employee time off, schedule performance evaluations, manage recruiting efforts, and update employee profiles. In short, it does just about everything you’d expect a full-fledged human-resources department to do at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re trying to build a small business in today’s challenging economy, you need all the help you can get. Take a look at the people-management apps available today. You might be surprised at how powerful they are.

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Four Options for Sharing Big Files

We’ve all faced the same problem: we need to send large photos, complex PDF reports or videos to friends, family members or co-workers. Unfortunately, these files are so big that they can clog even the fastest e-mail system.

There is good news: There are plenty of programs – many of which are free – that you can use to send large files with ease.

Here are four of the most popular:

YouSendIt

YouSendIt’s cloud-based online storage allows users to share everything from gigantic pictures to videos for free. The service is known for how easy it is to use.

YouSendIt also gives users control over their large files. For instance, they can set expiration dates for these files and control who can and can’t access them.

DropSend

DropSend operates in much the same way as YouSendIt. DropSend, though, offers file-sharing programs in a variety of option.

For instance, you can choose DropSend Lite, which is free. This version allows you to send five files a month. The basic version of the program costs $5 a month, and allows you to send 15 files a month. The business version — $99 a month – allows users to send an unlimited number of files each month.

SugarSync

SugarSync has grown in popularity along with the rise in smart phones and tablet computers. That’s because users can create a SugarSync account that instantly saves their files on all their devices at once – everything from their smart phones to their desktop computers to their tablets.

SugarSync also allows users to provide access to these large files to specific users. It’s an easy way to allow family members or co-workers to view movies, pictures and other big files without the use of e-mail.

Dropbox

Dropbox, too, has become a must-have program for mobile computing. Like SugarSync, it allows you to instantly store files on all of your devices at once. It also comes in both free and paid varieties.

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Avoid the Most Common PowerPoint Mistakes

PowerPoint presentations are the vacation slide shows of the business world: we’ve all sat through boring ones that seemed to last forever.

Fortunately, there are several tips that you can follow to avoid creating a PowerPoint presentation that bores your co-workers. This is important: You create PowerPoint presentations to spread your message, promote products and achieve results.

You can’t do this if no one’s paying attention to them.

Don’t Forget the Creativity

As the writers at Microsoft’s Business Hub say, PowerPoint doesn’t give you permission to get lazy. You still have to be creative if you want to develop a winning presentation that grabs the attention of your audience.

This means that you can’t let PowerPoint’s ease of use trick you into thinking that you don’t have to come up with compelling content. Just because you can create an endless series of text-filled slides doesn’t mean that you should.

So don’t. Come to your sales pitch or company meeting armed with interesting and useful information. Don’t just slap some sales numbers on a series of slides. Instead, explain what these numbers mean.

Come with Solutions

You’ll also want to come armed with ways in which your company’s employees can improve these sales numbers.

Another fault of many PowerPoint presentations: they provide information. But they don’t provide useful strategies for how employees can use that information to better the company’s performance.

If your PowerPoint presentation shows that sales are down, make sure you follow up with your own suggestions on why sales have fallen and what the company can do to boost them. If sales are up? Provide information on how your company can maintain its momentum.

Don’t Get Too Fancy

As TrainSignal Training says, it is possible to get too creative with PowerPoint. Many managers clutter their slides with unnecessary photos and graphics. Others stuff charts that are too small to read on their slides. Still others add moving images that do little other than distract.

Don’t fall into this trap. The best way to convey a business message is to do it as directly and simply as possible.

And don’t simply fill your PowerPoint slides with the same words that you’re going to read aloud to your audience. You’re not in the first grade. Your audience doesn’t want to read along while you repeat every word that’s on your PowerPoint slides.

PowerPoint remains a powerful business tool. But it’s one that is easy to misuse. Don’t make the mistake of creating a PowerPoint presentation that turns off your audience.

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Squeeze More Life Out of Your Aging Servers

Companies today rely heavily on the power of their servers. Unfortunately, servers have relatively short life spans. This means that businesses must frequently make the difficult, and costly, decision to junk their old servers and replace them with newer, faster versions.

However, if your company is running short on dollars, there is some good news. Even old servers often have more life in them than we suspect. By taking some fairly simple steps, companies can squeeze some extra years out of their aging fleet of servers.

The technology Web site TechRepublic listed some tips for managers hoping to prolong the lives of their servers. Following these tips won’t prevent you from ever having to replace your aging servers, but they will help you put off the replacements for as long as possible.

Turn old servers into network-attached storage devices: TechRepublic points out that businesses can purchase inexpensive software that can turn their old servers into network-attached storage devices that businesses can use as back-up servers.

The only products that your IT pros will need are that software, NASLite-2 CDD, and some large drives. This combination can transform that aging, inefficient server into a powerful back-up server.

Old servers and disk imaging: IT professionals know how important it is to have up-to-date disk clones, known as ghost images, of important machines. However, as TechRepublic points out, it can be challenging finding storage space for these large images.

This is another area in which an old server can come in handy. By adding large drives to an old server, your company’s IT professionals can easily store images in your business’ old servers.

Testing, testing: Finally, consider transforming your aging servers into test servers. As TechRepublic says, your IT professionals won’t the most current specs when they’re using a server strictly for testing purposes. With just a bit of extra RAM, IT pros can use old servers to test new applications or new server offerings.

In today’s challenging financial environment, companies are looking for a variety of ways to save money. Squeezing more life out of aging servers is one very powerful way to cut costs.

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