Recently in Computing Category

INFOGRAPHIC: The importance of communication

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Valentine's Day is upon us, and as we text, email, PM, snapchat, IM and tweet our loved ones a special message, we realise the importance of communication in this technology-centric age. Many a relationship has failed due to lack of communication, and cloud-based communications provider j2 Global has made this special infographic to display how better means of communication could have saved these doomed movie relationships:

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Happy Valentine's Day!

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Huddle for Office - A new integrated experience

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It has been a busy year for Huddle, with its launch of the Huddle Note app for collaborative file sharing and its partnership with Tibbr for file sharing in the cloud.

Now, Huddle has announced that it is integrating with Microsoft Office to allow employees to collaborate on documents in the Huddle secure cloud via Microsoft Office applications.

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Users will be able to save their work directly into their Huddle accounts through Microsoft Office, and Office documents such as Powerpoints, Word documents and Excel files will have the Huddle comments stream alongside it to allow users to interact and collaborate on work.

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Huddle believes the next step for business is to move into the cloud, and provides content collaboration platforms for enterprises and governments. http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240212784/Barnardos-uses-Huddle-Note-for-collaboration-and-communication

Huddle for Office integration will allow users to save documents directly to the Huddle cloud, comment on files directly from Office applications, view recent files instantly and track changes, comments and updates via Huddle's full audit trail.

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Alastair Mitchell, Huddle CEO, said: "Skipping between the applications on your desktop and cloud service to share information and discuss files with people is time-consuming and disrupts your workflow. With Huddle for Office, you can continue working in the desktop tools you're used to, but all of your feedback, files and updates are stored and shared in Huddle's secure cloud.

Huddle's Office integration is available now. 

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Stephen Fry explains the evolution of technology

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Databarracks has teamed up with Cognitive Media to produce this neat little animation describing the journey of mankind through the ages of technology. And who better to narrate such a video than gadget-man Stephen Fry.


From the abacus to neural networks, Fry talks us through the business computing revolution, explaining how utility based computing has evolved into cloud computing, increasing the availability of powerful technology to even the smallest business.

Fry rounds up by explaining the key components that Databarracks provides for business success: communication, collaboration, customer relations, logistics, human resources, finance and enterprise resource software - described as the "lightbulbs of modern computing."

It's just a bit of fun, so if you have five minutes let Fry talk you through the revolution of business computing that is cloud technology. 

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British Airways deploys Panasonic Toughpads to help turnaround time for flights

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I was invited to take a flight to the Isle of Man with BA Cityflyer to see a demonstration of the Panasonic Toughpad, which is used for flights from London City Airport to keep tabs on flight data.

As our plane landed, a transfer of several paper documents occurred - one of the things this new innovation is working to reduce.

The Toughpad is essentially a more practical upgrade from the previous Panasonic Toughbook, and is used in combination with Electronic Technical Log (ETL) software from NVable to record and sign off flight and maintenance information.

The airline wanted something durable and practical. There can be no room for error of any kind during flights, especially hardware failure. The Toughpad meets these criteria, as not a single Toughbook or Toughpad device has been returned for repair in the years that BA has been using them. It also has better battery life and is 50% lighter than the Toughbook.

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Dave Cooper, line maintenance manager for BA CityFlyer, explained that there are mandatory documents that must be signed for every flight so that all of the people involved in the flight process know how many times an aircraft has flown and when checks need to occur.

The Toughpad and NVable ETL software allow this information to be entered via the tablet and immediately transmitted to the BA Cityflyer maintenance system so that engineers and flight crew can access the information. The quick availability of data has contributed to reduced turnaround times for flights, and also cuts down on mistakes made when information is transcribed from paper into digital systems.

When showing me the system, he pointed out the maintenance list for the plane we were on. Some of the items on the list had a bright yellow exclamation mark next to them - not the most comforting sight to see when in the air. He assured me that it just meant the plane would need examinations carried out later that day, information that had already been transmitted to the maintenance system.

Once we were safely back at City Airport, I asked the pilot Klaus Egge how the Toughpad had improved the data recording process. He admitted that the Toughpad method reduced human error, and that using the Toughpad in the cockpit is much more convenient than paper or the previous Toughbook.

He said that automatic functions, such as warning when inspections are due, are a great benefit of the new system. "In the past we'll have to check that manually by paper," he said. "It will be more accurate which is probably more important, the most beneficial part is that it will take away mistakes."

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Huddle partners with Tibbr to provide micro blogging for the enterprise

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Huddle and Tibbr have announced a strategic partnership to connect customers with each company's innovative cloud and social solutions.

This partnership will allow Huddle users to use Tibbr's social platform to connect, share and manage their content in the cloud, from within the Huddle environment. Tibbr customers will be able to attach Huddle files to their updates for information and feedback, while remaining in the Huddle cloud.

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Companies now realise they need apps - files for content and an interface which is connected to major file systems. "Users are demanding a seamless experience," said Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle, and they are looking towards cloud solutions such as Huddle, Box and Google Drive. 

Customers are also looking for social platforms to compliment their cloud offerings.

Mitchell said existing users of Huddle were asking the company to recommend a social platform, and Huddle was unofficially recommending Tibbr.

Now, new and existing customers of Huddle and Tibbr will be recommended the other platform and be given a free trial.

Mitchell said that before the partnership had even launched, Huddle managed to secure a major deal with a US federal agency, which has now moved entirely into the cloud.

"These are multimillion pound deals," he said. 

He said that companies are saying 'we're moving people into the cloud' but not completely committing, "Now they're moving ten thousand people into the cloud."

Tibbr had previously had a partnership with Box, and has now chosen to partner with Huddle for content collaboration. "This repositions our position in the market," said Mitchell. "And it shows are we are delivering solutions to larger and larger organisations."

Tibbr was launched by TIBCO the enterprise software company in 2011 as a social media system for the workplace which potentially allows a company to reduce and remove email. 

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MessagEase - the alternative touch keyboard

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We started off texting using a numerical keypad on our Nokia 3310s. Slowly and painfully keying out "How r u m8?" by repeatedly sequencing through a group of letters sharing a button with a number on your handset. 

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Next came predictive text, where our phones acted clever and would try to guess what you were typing through single key presses. But this didn't always go to plan. 

One of the decent things BlackBerry did was popularise the QWERTY keyboard, so we all went back to typing out full words on our smartphones, fingers frantically moving across the screens.

Now, there's MessagEase, a new text input technology designed particularly for smartwatches, smartphones, wearables, tablets, and smart TVs. The keyboard is designed for two finger usage - capitalising on new technology's small retail estate. 

The video below shows how the nine large keys can be used with only two fingers. It looks rather baffling - but so did predictive text messaging when it first came out.

Ready as an app for iOS, Android and Windows 8 tablets, the technology could revolutionise typing if it can get on the smartwatch bandwagon - a screen which is particularly smaller than what we are all used to. 
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REVIEW: The i-stay laptop organiser bag

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I've had an issue with laptop bags for quite some time. Either they're too bulky, heavy, not in anyway attractive, or look so much like a corporate laptop bag they should have been embroidered with "STEAL ME NOW" on the front in glitzy letters.

However, my main niggle with laptop bags is the way they weigh down on one shoulder and inevitably end up falling off your blazer-clad shoulder and awkwardly landing in the crook of your elbow mid commute.

What I hate most about travelling to America for work is the huge, heavy laptop bag that weighs on my shoulder in the hour-long queue for customs State-side. Especially in this scenario, it's never just your laptop and its charger, you have a multiude of travel items, as well as business paraphernalia to get you through the trip. I think it is the laptop bag, rather than the nine hour flight that makes me want to hit the hotel mini bar as soon as I've collapsed on my king size bed.

While i-stay doesn't magically reduce your ancient 6kg laptop into a feather light ultrabook, it does distribute the weight across the whole of your shoulder.

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In fact the College of Chiropractors has actually commended the i-stay for its potential to help users avoid musculoskeletal discomfort and to minimise the aches and pains associated with carrying a heavy shoulder bag.

The detatchable strap has two adjustment buckles which allows the special patented i-stay non-slip stap to stay in the centre and comfortably on your shoulder. The strap can be adjusted to a very generous amount, allowing it to easily slip over your head and across your shoulders which distributed the weight even better. However, a larger person might find this option a little snug.

I've been using the messenger bag for a few weeks now and I've found it incredibly useful - and not once has it slipped off my shoulder as I run for the tube.

Feather light on its own, the laptop organiser bag has five zipped compartments. The main one in the middle has a specific secure foam area for your device, while the other compartments allow you to store A4 notepads; magazines; tablets; and smaller items in the front two zipped areas.

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The bag also has two handles which are comfortable to hold, even for longer periods of time. I found myself swiftly picking up the bag by these handles while commuting on the tube, and using the longer strap while out in the open air.

It's black. It's not particularly attractive, but yours will stand out next to the other array of bags out there with its red target-looking logo.

The company also sells a traditional laptop bag, and a rucksack version, as well as 10-inch bags for notebooks or tablets, and a messenger bag.

The laptop organiser bag from the review is £49.99, but the non-slip straps can also be bought individually for £12.99 making a healthy spine affordable.

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Top five BYOD problems and app solutions

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Since the advancement of mobile technology, an office environment has become less and less important in business. Everyone would rather use their mobile or iPad to do their work and the need for corporate issue devices has become less important.
 
But Bring Your Own Device schemes aren't without their problems; employees often overwork or compromise the security of office data. So here's a list of common B.Y.O.D issues, and apps that can help to fix them. 
 
1.      Mobile device management and data protection

Security is the top priority for firms when considering external devices to be used for company business. If mobile device management is not handled properly, this can lead to stresses such as restricting the apps that employees can use on their own phones, which could lead to discontent.
 
This can be resolved by an app that acts as a virtual machine to allow the employee to connect to the office network within a secure environment, such as AppSense's MobileNow or the VMWare Mobile Secure Desktop. This allows the corporations a level of control over security and the device being used and the employee can still use their device as normal; safe in the knowledge that they can do whatever they want with it.

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2.      Device and data loss

Losing your device can be stressful enough without the added possibility of comprising any company data. That's why it is always handy to have an app that will help you find your lost device, such as Find My iPhone. There is also a risk of losing data. Corporations have many safe-holds in place to ensure that work is easily recovered if it is lost; something that many home-users don't consider. If you don't have a device that allows automatic cloud backup then looking into a way to keep data safe is highly advised, even if that is in the form of something as simple as SkyDrive.
 
3.      Over or under working

Bring Your Own device schemes work well for companies, as they allow employees to utilise their time and ensure that they are working whenever possible. But this can cause issues when the employee feels that they are putting more than their fair share of time, especially as the ability to work anywhere often means time spent at home is also spent working.
 
Similarly, when using your own device at work instead of a company-issued machine, there's the temptation to check personal e-mails and get sidetracked by whatever you might use your device for at home. An app such as HoursTracker can easily resolve this, as you can log the hours that you have been working, and what you have been working on, so that you can find out exactly how much time you spend working, and how often it exceeds the amount of time spent in the office.  

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4.      Lack of structure

Merging work life and home life can make it difficult to keep track of projects and tasks due to the lack of re-enforced work structure. As they say "Tidy desk, tidy mind" so understandably if half of your work is done away from the desk, it wouldn't be unusual to find it hard to organise your workload. Applications that already exist on most phones can help with this, such as a calendar. For a more project-oriented app, there's the LiquidPlanner, which allows projects to be planned, and scheduled amongst users, and notes and documents to be shared, to ensure that both employees and corporations are maximising their productivity.
 
5.      Lack of monitoring

Companies will want to have as much control over devices as possible, especially as data exchanged via devices brought from home could lead to a security risk if misused. But this can be an issue with employee owned devices, as they will want to have the freedom of using their device without interference from the company that they work for.

Innovations such as the Samsung Knox and the Blackberry Balance could be the future of B.Y.O.D technology, allowing one device to act as two separate devices, using an app that provides a complete work space which is separate from any personal use of the device, providing the perfect work and home balance. 

Perhaps this is a glance into the future of business?
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Inspect-a-Gadget Logitech competition

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We have a Logitech Business BCC950 Conference Cam up for grabs. 

We reviewed this nice little bit of kit last year and were suitably impressed...

Logitech claims that its ConferenceCam bridges the "small meeting gap" in the market. It accommodates groups of 3-4 people without them having to sit each other's laps. This removes the need for a large scale meeting room video system which can be very costly. It is also surprisingly light; weighing 568g it can easily be picked up and taken into a meeting room.

Additionally, this device would suit home workers, enabling employees to have meetings using software such as Skype in full HD clarity.  

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All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning the prize is come up with a caption for the following image:

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We've all been there, so hopefully there will be plenty of inspiration. Make sure you comment on this blog post below (make sure you register with your email address so we can contact you if you win)

Closing date for the competition is midnight on the 30th of June and the winning caption will be chosen by the Computer Weekly team. Judges decision is final

This competition is open to UK residents only.

 

 

Terms and conditions

  • This competition is open to all UK residents aged 18 or over except for employees of TechTarget and Logitech and their immediate families.
  • The competition closes on July 30th 2013 at midnight.
  • Each participant can only enter the competition once.
  • The prize will be awarded to the individual that comes up with the best caption for the photograph.
  • The winner will be chosen by ComputerWeekly.com.
  • The winner will be notified by email.
  • No cash alternatives are available.
  • Entering the competition is free. No purchase is necessary.
  • The ComputerWeekly.com's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • The name of the winners will be posted on Inspect-a-Gadget and will be contacted by email within 30 days of the competition deadline. All email notifications will be sent to the email address provided by participant entering the competition. The participant must respond to email notification within 14 days of the email notification. Unclaimed prizes will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen.


Entrants can contact ComputerWeekly.com with any questions at the following email address: cbaldwin@techtarget.com with the subject of the email 'Logitech COMPETITION.' But all competition entries must be submitted via commenting on the blog post.

By entering the competition, entrants are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions.

 


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New PCs enter the market at Computex

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Dell, Acer and Asus have all unveiled various PC models at Computex in Taiwan this week. In a midst of a PC market crash, the computer manufacturers have taken a leap of faith and revealed new designs the safety net being of course the hybrid tablet devices.

Dell

Dell announced its XPS 11 model, a 2-in-1 convertible Ultrabook. This hybrid device has a 360 degreed rotation design in order to hide away the keyboard and flip into a tablet device. At 14.9mm and 2.5 pounds this product could be utilised within an BYOD environment, which has seen many of these types of devices in recent months.

Additionally, Dell launched an OptiPlex 9020 and All-in-One machine. This commercial desktop will be available in four different form factors, an all-in-one computer, as well as three different sized towers, all powered by Intel Core i7 processors.

Dell also launched a 4th-gen Intel business laptop, including swappable batteries. The Latitude E6540 will feature comprehensive file-level encryption, advanced authentication and malware protection.

The XPS 12, OptiPlex 9020 desktop, and Latitude E6540 will be available in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the computer manufacturer added two printers to its portfolio of peripherals. The B1165nfw and B1265dfw claim to provide affordable printing options, wireless networking capabilities and document management software. The two printers will have the ability to print, scan, copy and fax within the single device.

Acer

Acer announced its new Iconia tablet, the Iconia W3, which claims to be the first 8.1-inch tablet running Windows 8. The company believes that this is the "optimum size for productivity and entertainment, while comfortable enough to sit in one hand". It will be available pre-installed with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013.

The company also launched a "phablet" device - the 5.7-inch 1280x720 screen Liquid S1. It offers an option to insert two SIM cards, and runs Android Jelly Bean and a 1.5 GHz processor. Additionally, it has a few functionalities to boost productivity: The Acer Float User Interface, which allows several apps to stay open at the same time so users can multitask; the Auto Profile which supports predefined network settings, which will adjust settings such as brightness, volume and connectivity as users visit frequent locations.

Acer also launched its flagship ultrabook, the 13.3-inch Aspire S7. The ultrabook boosts a longer-lasting battery for "all day computing" as well as a updated cooling fan which makes less noise. It also offers wireless display technology for sharing on a big screen wirelessly. Like its previous model, it will include a 10-point WQHD display with 2,560 x 1,440 resolution taking full advantage of the touch capabilities of Windows 8.

Asus

Probably, most interesting from all the launches at Computex, was the Transformer Book Trio from Asus. This 11.6-inch clamshell tablet with a detachable display, consists of two operating systems. It can switch between Windows 8 notebook, Android tablet and Windows 8 desktop PC.

The Transformer series has been a success of Asus in the consumer space in recent years, the ability to switch between app stores, synch data and apparently "continue to surf a webpage when moving from notebook to tablet, could be a game changer for the device in the business space also.

The PC station dock has its own 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor, keyboard and 750GB hard drive and it can also be hooked up to a monitor to be used as a desktop PC. Additionally the screen can be removed from the station dock to be used on the go as a tablet with a 2.0 GHz Intel processor , 64GB and full HD display- taking the meaning of "hybrid" one step further.

Intel

Intel also had a presence at Computex, revealing a 22nm low-power, Atom system on a chip design, which it claimed would offer faster graphics and twice the CPU performance of the current generation. According to Intel, the new chip would power Android and Windows 8.1 devices for up to eight hours.

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