Archive for September, 2010

Large or dual monitors mean happier, more productive employees

September 26, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]The NEC commissioned University of Utah study shows increased productivity, job satisfaction and an incredible return on investment. It is not surprising that a monitor manufacturer would recommend larger and multiple monitor arrangements, but what do users think? There are two trends. The first is for smaller, lighter, mobile devices for on-the-go professionals and the second is for more screen real estate for the stationary worker.

On-the-go professionals need access from anywhere, anytime so they can stay connected.  The screen sizes of mobile devices are definitely trending up, but in general they are still much, much smaller than desktop monitors.  Most mobile users don’t need multiple windows. They can switch between applications or use tools to work more efficiently. Mobile devices are great for staying connected and having information at your fingertips.  They are not efficient for programming that requires in-depth analysis or complicated tasks.  Many types of IT systems do not allow access or control from a mobile device because of the chance of errors and security concerns.

Stationary users benefit from larger or dual monitors depending on the work they do on the computer.  If a user has two or more applications that they cut-and-paste between, dual monitors are a great for increased productivity and error reduction. You don’t have to stop with a dual arrangement.  Triple and quad monitors are used in many situations, like control monitoring, that give the user needed information at a glance without having to switch between windows.  But size does become a diminishing return and if the monitor is too big it can be a productivity drain.  The NEC report shows single 26 inch and dual 20 inch as the upper limit.

Desk space is important.  With flat panel monitors, desk space is not a problem as with CRTs.  Usually you can comfortably place two monitors or a larger monitor on a desk without obscuring view.  If you want to be accessible to your customers, co-workers and employees, don’t sit with your back to the door or with a monitor hiding your face.

There is a good bit of research on monitors and productivity that you can use. Read the NEC Study or do some Internet research for more suggestions on how to be more productive with your computer monitors.  Make a list of what tasks cause you and your staff the most irritation and solve them first. 

If you have suggestions or comments, please contact me at: mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

Twitter Prank

September 22, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]Twitter users were hit yesterday with tweets and sometimes offending pop-ups that originated from exploiting a programming flaw.  Twitter defines this as a prank rather than an attack or a hack.  They also have assured Twitter members that no personal account information Twitter Wormwas compromised.  But this does raise the point of what defines a malicious attack, prank or just a mistake.

In the 1960’s, Cap’n Crunch cereal put thousands of toy whistles in their boxes.  Children all over delighted in the whistle design, color and sound. There are many reports of children excitedly calling friends and grandparents to tell them about the wonderful whistle.  But when they would blow the whistle into the phone, they would get disconnected.  The connection between the whistle and the phone disconnect was discovered and exploited. 

The whistle emitted a precise 2600 Hertz tone, the same frequency used by AT&T to tell the switching equipment that the trunk was ready for a long distance call.  Lots of free long distance calls were made by exploiting this feature.  AT&T has long since fixed the flaw, but in the 1970’s one of the exploiters was charged and convicted of toll fraud. Cap'n Crunch Whistle

Mistakes, like programming flaws, can be innocently uncovered like children blowing their Cap’n Crunch whistle into the phone.  Those innocently uncovered flaws can be turned into pranks where some amount of disruption, like disconnected phones or pop-up windows or worms, can occur. But when malicious disruption or fraud evolves from the original mistake, it becomes a serious legal issue.  What will happen with the Twitter “prank” – we will just have to wait and see.

Microsoft Office 2010: The best new features in PowerPoint

September 10, 2010

[tweetmeme source=”LANSystems” only_single=false]For anyone that has ever presented to a group, you know it is essential to be well prepared and have the right props.  For many, PowerPoint is the prop of choice. 

Creating your presentation in PowerPoint allows you to gather all your thoughts and ideas in one tool.  You have many slide choices and can move, cut, paste and organize to create a coherent flow of information without leaving the program.  Adding graphics, diagrams, video and sound is easier than ever. With just a little time investment, PowerPoint will make you look like a presentation guru!

When creating the perfect presentation, be sure not make your slides too busy or add too much glitz.  If you want to use sound and video, make sure to add at a place in your presentation where it will complement your message.  Video can be a great introduction or it can be used to clarify your points.  Don’t use sound or video in parts of your presentation where you need the attention of the audience.  Don’t let text dominate your presentation.  Use pictures and graphics liberally as people remember points made through visuals much better than they remember words.

Create interesting presentations

Use built in video power tools – Create extraordinary presentations by embedding video that was created using tools that give a professional multimedia experience.  You can fade, add formatting effects, bookmark scenes, and trim your videos with ease.  Sharing is easy because the embedded video is part of the PowerPoint presentation. You only have to share one file.

Embedded videos can now become part of your PowerPoint presentation

Picture editing made easy – Use new and improved picture editing tools—including versatile artistic effects and advanced correction, color, and cropping tools—to fine-tune every picture in your presentation to look its absolute best.

Built in graphic effects – You don’t have to be a design expert to create professional-looking graphics. Use dozens of additional SmartArt® layouts to create organization charts, lists, and picture diagrams. Transform words into impressive visuals that better illustrate your ideas. Create diagrams as easily as typing a bulleted list or convert text and images to a diagram in just a few clicks. All the tools you need to create stunning graphics are built into PowerPoint.     

PowerPoint 2010 SmartArt Example

3-D transitions and improved animations -PowerPoint 2010 offers new, dynamic slide transitions and animation effects that look similar to graphics you’d see on TV. Easily access, preview, apply, customize, and replace animations. You can also use the new Animation Painter to easily copy animations from one object to another.

Quick and easy presentation management 

Microsoft Office Backstage view – This is the tool palette you see when you select File. This is where you manage your files and the data about them — creating, saving, inspecting for hidden metadata or personal information, and setting options. In short, it is everything that you do to a file that you don’t do in the file.

Compress video and audio – Select File and then Info to compress video and audio in your presentation.  This reduces the file size and can increase playback performance.  Select the quality option from the drop-down choices.

The option to compress media is one of many new features available from the new Backstage view

Customize the Ribbon – Use customizations to personalize the ribbon the way that you want it. For example, you can create custom tabs and custom groups to contain your frequently used commands.  Note:Ribbon customization is specific to the Microsoft Office program you are working in at the time. Ribbon customization does not apply across the Office programs.

Work together from anywhere

Live broadcast – Broadcast your slide show to people in other locations, whether or not they have PowerPoint installed. Create a video of your presentation—including your transitions, animations, narration, and timings—to share with virtually anyone, any time after your live broadcast.

You can broadcast your slide show to people remotely, whether or not they have PowerPoint installed

Microsoft PowerPoint Web App is an online companion to Microsoft PowerPoint which enables you to extend your PowerPoint experience to the browser. View a high fidelity version of your presentations, make light edits, or view your presentation slide show. Use the familiar PowerPoint interface and some of the same formatting and editing tools, from almost any computer with a Web browser.

Microsoft PowerPoint Mobile 2010 enables you to do light editing for your presentations and is especially designed for easy use on your Windows phone. You can even run your slide show right on your phone.

For more technical notes and information go to: www.lansystems.com/technotes.html 

If you have any questions or need help with the instructions, email me at: mary@lansystems.com.