Wednesday, 31 July 2013

VLC Media Player's Return To The App Store Is a Relief!

After two years of its absence, the VLC media player has returned to the iOS app store on July 19th 2013! For many lovers of the VideoLAN player like myself, it is a huge relief to once again have the app on my iOS devices. The question I had in mind during the anticipation of my favorite media player was, what will be different about this app? Maybe being off the market for so long caused the new app development to become a little rusty?

I am no longer worried because my high expectations of the new VLC media player app were not only met; they were blown away! Compared to similar apps like Azul, flex player, and Good Player, VLC for iOS is smoother and more stable than ever. The performance and ease of use is remarkable for an app that is so useful and yet available completely free of charge. Creating an app that plays unconverted media files on an iPhone is not an easy task to accomplish for programmers and app developers. The struggle to achieve perfection in a media player is clearly seen in apps like Good

Player that have multiple unresolved bugs and crash reports that remain even after multiple updates. Simply download the Good Player app and you will understand my relief in being free of such a horrible application that costs so much for so little.
Having expressed my relief; what are some of the new features in the re-release of VLC media player? Here is a short list of my favorites:
  • Users can easily copy video files of any format onto the app through iTunes, WiFi upload, and Dropbox.
  • Change settings for subtitle text encoding in multiple languages including Russian and Spanish.
  • Pre-existing functions like having the ability to easily download videos from a webserver or open a network stream have become simple to use.
Overall the entire VLC media player iOS app is in very good shape for something that has returned to the market after being in underground mode for so long. The user interface is simple and straightforward; just the way users prefer. We can expect good reviews and high download rates on the apple app store surrounding the VLC player. Personally I would give this app a five star rating on the app store and gladly contribute to the VideoLan development team for all their hard quality work!

What are your first impressions of the re-release of the VLC media player? Let us know your honest opinions on the app at

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

iPhone 5 Review, 2013

Aside from the genius Steve Jobs' marketing, Apple has a multitude of benefits with its products and is able to satisfy even the most exquisite requests. iPhone 5 doesn't make such a technological outbreak as the one in 2008, it is just a worthy successor to the iPhone 4s.

Following the traditions of Apple quality and functionality, iPhone 5 is a sophisticated tool, which is not only used for calls and texting. It is your mobile assistant, scheduler, high speed Wi-Fi Internet access tool, camera and music player, TV and radio.

Let's take a closer look, shall we?

iPhone 5 mostly looks like its predecessor, long and thin with a large touchscreen. The default colors of the case are black and white, but there are also custom cases with original and exquisite painting available from many manufacturers. The screen is about 5 inches in diagonal, which allows to have an additional row of icons visible onscreen. The case is made of aluminum and is very smooth and convenient.

Stylish and convenient, the new iPhone 5 is perfectly shaped for one-hand writing; it doesn't feel bulky and you don't have to operate it with 2 hands. All the functions work rocket-fast, allowing you to fully enjoy the performance and superior quality of the Apple product. Browsing the internet, listening to music, keeping in touch with your friends online via Facebook or Twitter, performing any kind of entertainment is swift and easy.

The 8 megapixel front and back cameras allow taking photos and shooting films of unrivaled quality. Sound from the speaker is loud and clear both during the calls and when listening to music or radio.

Ear buds may look small; however they fit into your ears nicely and provide good sounding during long subway rides, etc. The ear bud cable is rather thin and the connector is rather short, so be careful when dealing with them as you normally would with such precious little masterpiece of high technology.

As there is nothing perfect in this world, there is one rather small flaw - the Google maps. They work, but the results they provide are somewhat awkward and inaccurate and it would not be honest from our side not to mention this, as many customers complain about this feature. It is recommended to not use this app until official Apple update on the matter.

iPhone 5 is truly a masterpiece, reliable and convenient, stylishly designed and masterfully produced. Choose it as your new mobile device and you will not be disappointed!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Using Technology to Achieve a Work-Life Balance - VPN and BYOD

The following article introduces some of the technologies that can be used to help us improve our work-life balance by being more efficient and flexible in what work we do and where we do it from. Many of the technologies help us to work from dynamic locations and make communications and the sharing of information speedier and more versatile - thus providing benefits to both employers and their employees with higher staff morale and higher productivity.


The term VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is used to describe scenarios and technologies that allow two disparate local computer networks (LANs) to be securely connected across public networks such as the internet. The exact technologies and protocols can vary with some VPNs using software programs and/or network configurations, but the basic principle is that the data that is transmitted between the two endpoints on each network or device is contained within encrypted packets, whilst each endpoint itself requires authentication to restrict access to authorised users. As the encrypted packets can only be decoded at these endpoints, the data cannot be intercepted as it travels across the public networks.

This secure system can be used, not to only connect two distinct LANs regardless of geographical location, but also to connect individual machines/devices to LANs. For businesses it can therefore be a valuable technology for connecting separate office sites or allowing employees to connect with centralised LANs when travelling or working from other locations. However, for individual employees looking to improve their work-life balance it can be a vital tool allowing them to work from home and still access all of the secure files and data stored on their office's servers, as well as running programs, such as email clients as if they were sat at their usual desk. The flexibility that this offers can, where the employer is obliging, massively ease time and travel pressures, preventing work from encroaching excessively on personal time. Moreover, employers using VPN are more likely to be obliging when it comes to changing working locations due to the security VPN offers, as well as the continuity, with employees able to contribute and work at the same capacity as if they were on-site.


BYOD, which stands for Bring Your Own Device, represents a fast growing trend in the workplace whereby employees are permitted, and sometimes encouraged, to use their own personal devices in place of those provided by their company. A BYOD policy has to tackle security concerns as 'untrusted' devices (with varying malware vulnerabilities and the potential to take private data off the network) are introduced to otherwise restricted workplace LANs. On the other hand, adoption can reduce a business's IT spend, introduce more IT functionality to the workplace and make individual employees more productive - as they work on devices with which they are more familiar. The adoption of BYOD and its benefits therefore relies on technologies such as VPN (above) to provide secure connections between devices and LANs (without necessarily bringing the device directly onto the LAN behind the firewall).

BYOD helps to improve the work-life balance because it blurs further the boundary between working from the office, on the road or at home so that there is a seamless transition between each; reducing the need to travel/commute in many cases. It can also increase the period and efficiency of output which, in turn, can mean that the working day eats less into personal time. All of which means more personal time spent at home. Furthermore, it can't be underestimated how a sense of morale at work affects the work-life dynamic and so using devices with which one is familiar, experienced and comfortable can be important.

© Stuart Mitchell 2013

To find out more about the uses of virtual private networks in the workplace you can check out what's on offer from an enterprise VPN provider.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Samsung's Galaxy SII and SIII - The Major Android Revenue Drivers

A Japanese social gaming company, GREE has recently brought to light that they make more than 40 percent of all of the revenue from users using Samsung Galaxy S2 and S3. GREE also suggested that Android developers only need to test their gaming apps for a selected number of Android powered smartphones.

This trend will continue to grow until other mobile device manufacturers do not succeed to place their products similar to Samsung. The company has received enough hype for its Galaxy series of smartphones. It has also been world's top mobile device manufacturer for last several months.

Samsung Electronics overtook Nokia in first quarter 2012 and became world's largest maker of mobile phones. An article of BBC News Business with the title "Samsung overtakes Nokia in mobile phone shipments" informs that in 2012, Samsung shipped 93 million phones compared to almost 83 million by Nokia. The article also revealed that apart from Nokia, other direct competitors of Samsung are US-based Apple and Taiwan's HTC.

Today the company has reached a position where it would be extremely difficult for competitors like Apple, LG, Nokia and HTC to play catch-up anytime soon. And there are several reasons behind this success. Two of them have been recently shared by in the article "Samsung success secret: Fast work gives customers just what they want". The first is that Samsung keeps paying close attention to what its customers are saying about its products and services. Second, it quickly develops new products or their new versions. It just took around five months to develop the S3 Mini.

When you think of an Android smartphone, the first mobile brand that comes into your head is probably Samsung. An Android Authority article of January says that Samsung sold 500 smartphones every minute in Q4 2012. And with the release of Galaxy S4, this figure is expected to grow further by the end of this year.

How the dominance of Samsung is helpful for Android developers?

The dominance of Samsung in smartphone market is helpful in multiple ways. Some of them are as follows:

• Mobile developers experience difficulty in creating such apps that support all the Android powered devices. Android is an open-source mobile operating system. Google allows you to customize its OS according to the hardware capabilities of a specific device. If you want to power a low-end device through Android, you can trim some of its features. This may sound an amazing capability of the OS but the same also creates fragmentation. If developers want their apps to run on all the Android powered devices, they will need to optimize these apps for more than one device. But if they have a dominating Android device manufacturer like Samsung, they will just need to build apps for a selected number of devices.

• There are some country-specific mobile manufacturers that are also using Android to power their devices. While developing devices, they mostly follow specifications and features of popular devices such as Galaxy S3 and S2. They keep the screen size, hardware support and other specifications same to stay in the market. This helps developers to make universal Android apps.

• The process of Android application development can be concluded in comparatively short period of time if there are fewer brands using Android OS.

• Leading Android device manufacturers timely send operating system updates that help developers timely update their apps.

Mia Klaus in her article has explained importance of expert android apps development who are developing custom mobile applications for every kind of businesses. software development company has come as saviour for businesses to lure their customers.

Friday, 26 July 2013

3 Outlook Features That Keep Me Organized

Quick question for you... Are you using Microsoft Outlook to its fullest potential in your business? The answer is probably not! Well here are a couple of simple things you can implement right away to get more organized using a program that's right on your desktop already. That is unless you are a complete rebel and went with a Mac.

Top 3 Features in Microsoft Outlook that I USE!

1. Folders

I love the folders in Outlook for organizing by topics. I have one for my coaches, one for clients, personal stuff, travel, etc. Here's why I like this, in the old days you needed a folder for everything and that got pretty cumbersome. The level of organization inside a Windows folder just flat-out rocks! For example, in my client's folder I can click on that folder and organize the view I am looking at by client name (From), by subject, date received, etc. My trick is that I collapse all the sub categories so I can scroll through them quickly to find the person I'm looking for. It's like having folders inside folders without all the mess.

2. Tasks

This is by FAR the hidden GEM inside Outlook. If you don't use anything else, USE THIS! I even have it setup in my view when I open outlook so I can see what tasks need to get done today and what I have coming up tomorrow. I use this for everything that isn't an appointment. That includes projects, follow ups, blog posts, etc. You can set it up to remind you or just appear in your view. One thing that I also love about this feature is the ability to add a category to each task. Categories are those 4 little colored squared in your task pane that most people have no clue about. Simply click on the 4 little colored squared to customize your categories. One of the ways I use this feature is to mark my blog tasks. That way at a glance, I can see how much writing I have scheduled. You see, I don't write every time I get an idea. I create a Task; give it a headline about the idea, jot down my thoughts and SCHEDULE IT!

One more cool thing about tasks is that you can click on the main view of this section and filter it by topics... So my most used topics are, Completed tasks, overdue tasks, and active tasks. It's a great way to remind yourself of all the things you have accomplished.

3. Quick Parts

Quick Parts are super cool for several reasons and occasions. For me, I like to use this feature to keep an easy record of my canned email responses or email campaign content. This one is easier to understand once you see it.

So click on "New Email". In the new email message, click on the "Insert" tab at the top of the email. Toward the right of the window you will see a "Quick Parts" drop down menu. Click it. That will show you what you have in the Quick Parts section already.

To use this feature...

Type up an email that you want to save. Highlight the text that you want to save and then click on the Quick Parts drop down menu. Click on "Save selection to Quick Part Gallery". That's it. You are done.

Next time you want to use that quick part, just open an email and click "Insert", and Find the quick part you want to use.

I hope these quick tips help you get more organized in your business...
One last note... If you don't know how to set up your Outlook, find a 12-year-old and ask for help. A 6 pack of red bull, mountain dew, or copy of halo is all it will cost you...

To learn more about this topic, visit

You can also connect with Michael on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

New Features and Design of IOS 7

Apple has recently launched its latest OS the iOS 7. It is said to be a total overhaul of the old design. Let us find out more about it and the additional features that it has bought to Apple users.

Design and features

The font of the entire iOS is tweaked and now bears additional schematics in big size. The addition of Control Center is yet another part of the ecosystem. You will be able to swipe upwards to the screen for performing functionalities like Airplane Mode including Flashlight. You will also be able to adjust the brightness of the screen without exiting any app. The inclusion of torch/flashlight is a much-welcome change in the design.

The notifications bar available in a full screen view will also appear on your lock screen. Now you need not unlock your phone to check for notifications.

Control Center

Control Center is a major addition in this latest version of OS. To reveal the options and the hub, you need to swipe from the bottom to up. The look resembles a translucent sheen of updates like before. However, with the latest enhancement, the brightness controls and music player now have more display space. Features like AirPlay and AirDrop now sit at the bottom of the tray for easy access.

The feature of Airdrop is available across all iDevices. This feature gives you the freedom to share any program from within an app via Share Sheet. Remember this feature only works wherever Share Sheet is supported by an app.

iTunes Music Integration

The Music app is enhanced on iOS 7 that enables in adding your stored music in the library on iCloud. This integration of Music app with the cloud enables accessing music from any of your iDevices. You will also be surprised with the automatic change of screen orientation as soon as you turn your iPhone. Your landscape mode will reveal album art tiles that are easy to slide sideways. If you want to zoom into an album then simply tap on the album icon.


Safari has enhanced visuals that give you the freedom to resize your browser URL bar. This gives you a clear and spacious view of the page on the screen. You can easily slide in and out of the browser history. The bookmark now is available on the start screen of your device. This enables in coalition of links that are related to Twitter for viewing in one place. You can view what your Twitter friends are posting without going into the app.

The Tab system allows you to add more tabs with 3D rendering giving you the freedom to add more than 8 tabs in one go. These tabs can be synchronized on your other accounts for easy accessibility.

Camera and Photo Gallery

The camera app includes various lens shapes such as circle, square and panorama. iOS 7 gives you the benefit of auto-picture arranging based on locations in various groups this functionality called Moments.

Pinch to zoom in and out of the gallery. The Photo app gives you the option of re-drawing the collections in your library. This app is capable of intelligently categorizing your pictures according to your destination and the time it is taken. This helps in automatically organizing these pictures in various groups automatically. To view year wise overview of your albums zoom out. You will also be able to see the location tags upon each album created. To view an individual image hold down on a thumbnail of an image, release to view the picture full screen.

iOS in the Car

iOS 7 gives the opportunity of using the iPhone with built-in screens in your vehicle. Additionally, the full support of Siri enables in giving eyes-free usage while driving. Now you car will read out your messages and even send a dictated response. However, you will only be able to use these if you own a Volvo, Honda or a Nissan.

Multi tasking

Multi-tasking is now visual that is there at the bottom of your screen. The new version gives you a neat and organized look that is different from the older UI. All you will see is an app icon that is located at the screen bottom.

In conclusion, to all, you need to wait and watch what Apple has to add to its iOS 7.

As a senior tech support engineer at Brandon Malcolm Smith has been offering online tech support to global customers for issues related to laptops, desktops, Mac and devices including iPods, tablets, iPhones and more. Moreover he is an avid writer of articles and blogs that are aimed to help Internet users. His areas of interests include computer support, tech support, emerging technologies and awareness on tech support scams.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Network Cabling Installation - For Better Security and Information Flow

The data and communications network that runs through your business entity is the lifeline of the company. Without a strong communications flow and information highway a company's progress is quite uncertain. You should also take a lot of care to see that the necessary precautions are taken to ensure the integrity and the reliability of your organization's crucial data and information. The digital network that runs throughout a modern day business organization is used by all forms of technologies that include the likes of video, energy, and voice. Therefore it is very important to hire a Structured Cabling Service Company to take care of all your physical wiring and network needs.

Review infrastructure

As more and more technologies today rely on the business information and communications network to perform their daily functions, it is very important to conduct periodic reviews of the network system to make sure that it is functioning properly and without any snags or problems. The entire must be kept entirely free from errors and must be strong enough to take on extra work as and when it is required. A Structured Cabling Service Agency or company will be able to install a system that not has the physical strength but also the digital integrity to withstand any intrusions from within and from outside the system.

Latest developments

As a business concern, one of the main challenges you will face is keeping your employees and your staff connected and consolidated all over your organization. This is where wireless services come in. This latest development in the field of communications technology makes it possible for people within the network to stay connected and communicate with each other all the time, without the need for any physical network. There are experienced and reputed companies that offer wireless support and advice on how to maintain this sort of a network.

Pre installation surveys

An experienced company that offers Wireless Support will always conduct a pre installation survey before it commences work on your network system. The pre installation survey is done so that the company can find out what exactly the needs of your business are. They will check the flow of information and the technologies that will tap into your digital network. These wireless systems are designed mainly to support and relax critical functions that relate to your business. While providing full network capabilities, these systems also offer the same level of high security as that offered by wired systems.

Tommy Mc Grath is an experienced Content writer and publisher for Business Development. Visit at to know more about Network Cabling Services and Technology Project Management.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

5 Ways You May Already Be Using the Cloud

The cloud has been something of a hot topic for the past year or so in the technology world, with many articles and news pieces heralding how everyone and everything will soon 'make the move' into the cloud. Despite this almost constant tech-news coverage many people are still confused about what 'the cloud' actually means and can feel unsure about how it can be of benefit. Research has even shown that some people think that cloud computing is something to do with the weather! This confusion and reticence about the cloud in many people's personal lives can carry over into the business world and can, in some cases, create barriers to implementing and benefiting from the cloud in a business setting. If you are a regular internet user it is very likely that you are already using the cloud in one way or another. Understanding how you may already be using the cloud can be help to show how 'the cloud' can be translated to the business sector.

1. Collaboration

The internet has revolutionised how we are able to work together and share things with each other. With the click of a button we can share presentations, documents and files with friends, family and colleagues whether they are sitting at a computer next to you or on the other side of the world. If you have used a document sharing service, like Google Docs, or a file hosting service, like SkyDrive to share files and documents with people you know then you have been using the cloud. Services like Google Docs and SkyDrive store your files and documents in the cloud so that they can be accessed from anywhere and so that you can allow other users to view them and make changes.

The cloud can also be particularly useful for accessing your own files when you are on the move or on a different computer. You can also make use of the cloud to access your bookmarks and preferences. Bookmarking websites like Delicious or Google Bookmarks will store your favourite websites in the cloud and let you login to view and edit them from anywhere. Equally some browsers have the functionality to keep your bookmarks, history and even current tabs in the cloud so that they are at your fingertips if you use a different computer.

2. Storage

One of the key uses of the cloud is for storage. There are a large variety of storage options to choose from with new options appearing each month. Sites like Dropbox, Google Drive and MediaFire allow you to store your files and access them from anywhere through the cloud. Many of these options will allow you to store a number of gigabytes of data for free. Utilising cloud storage can be a great way to store your files and to free up space on your own computer. Files, especially music and video, can take up a large amount of space on your hard drive and can be difficult to fit on a USB stick. Storing files in the cloud means you can view and use them whenever you like. Many people also use the cloud and storage services as a backup for their data - keeping a copy of your data in the cloud in case anything goes wrong with your computer.

3. Entertainment

You may not have realised how many forms of entertainment now use the cloud to reach new audiences. A large proportion of internet users will spend time catching up with their favourite TV shows online or watching films on demand. Services that offer TV programmes and films to watch over the internet, like Netflix, iPlayer or 4oD make use of the cloud to bring these services to a wide audience. Music streaming websites like Spotify or internet radio stations like Pandora are also cloud-based services. The cloud means that large amounts of data and files can be stored and can be accessed by a huge user-base - a perfect solution for media-streaming websites and services.

The gaming industry is also making a concerted move towards the cloud. Many online games are already hosted in the cloud and are played through the internet but console and computer games are following closely behind. A number of cloud gaming services have been set up in the past few years and may be closely involved in changing the gaming industry. With cloud gaming you can benefit from more powerful processing speeds and better graphic rendering without needing your computer to have top end specifications. More information about cloud gaming can be found here.

4. Communication

One of the simplest ways of using the cloud that you may not have realised is email. Most web based email programs, such as Hotmail (now Outlook), Gmail and Yahoo Mail, are effectively a form of cloud computing. Your emails and contacts are not stored on your local machine, instead they are stored in the cloud, which enables you to check your email from anywhere. The cloud is a key part of many forms of internet communication. Skype, the popular video-chat and instant messaging service, makes use of the cloud so that its millions of users can all inter-connect with each other. Other unified communications platforms are also utilising the cloud to deliver their services, for example Hosted Lync is Microsoft's unified communication platform hosted in the cloud.

5. Social Networking

Many social networking sites are reaching millions of users and making use of the cloud is a sensible way for them to keep their services available and reliable. So every time you like a post on Facebook or write a tweet, you are using the cloud. In a similar vein photo sharing websites like Instagram and Flickr are also cloud-based services. It is down to the cloud that you are able to share your Instagram snaps with your friends from your mobile and as a result of cloud storage that you can back up and display your pictures through Flickr. If you pin something to a board in Pinterest, the image is part of a website that is hosted in the cloud. You may not think that you are using the cloud in your day to day life but it is highly probable that you are even if you don't realise it.

© Izzy Evans 2013

There are many different ways to use the cloud, these can include using a SaaS solution, a public cloud or a private cloud.

Monday, 22 July 2013

What Is 2-Step Authentication?

With most of use using the Internet for many different applications such as online banking, shopping and social media to name a few, security of our authentication credentials are becoming increasingly important. Many organisations such as Google, Microsoft and Apple are turning to 2-Step Authentication so solve the problem of compromised username / password combinations.

The problem is that many people use the same username and password combinations on multiple sites, click on links in unsolicited emails and download all manner of documents and emails from the Internet. Passwords can and are stolen due to our use of the Internet and we must be more careful. Imagine having your password and personal details stolen while online shopping, only to find later that your online banking has been compromised.

The basis of 2-Step Authentication is the addition of information that only the intended user could possibly know. It could be a pin number, or it could be a physical item such as a smart card and in some cases it could be physical attribute of the user such as a fingerprint or cornea recognition. Some of these things may not always be possible or indeed appropriate for logging on to a website remotely over the Internet, but the addition of secret information to the username and password increases the probability that a genuine user is logging in.

Some secure authentication systems often used by financial institutions use an electronic token. Probably the most common of these used a time-based token where the token device requires the user to press a button which generates a time code which in turn is used to create a new passcode. This form of authentication is normally in addition to the normal username and password which prompts the server to challenge the user for the correct passcode.

Recent use of 2-way authentication includes the Google method where following successful entering of the username and password, Google send a text message containing a passcode to a registered phone number which the user has to enter to be allowed access. Google even give the option not to be asked for the code again when using the same computer to log on. If it is detected by Google that a different computer is being used then another passcode will be generated and sent to the same registered device. Obviously if the password has been stolen, the thief should not be in possession of the mobile phone to receive the text message.

Apple succumbed to pressure to tighten up security by introducing 2-Step authentication for users wishing to make purchases via iTunes and the App Store back in March 2013.

Microsoft are now using the same 2-Step Authentication method by sending out a security code by either email, text or phone call which the user has to input following the original username and password. This one time passcode method requires the user to have registered contact information including a landline telephone number or mobile number.

This article on 2-Step Authentication was written by David Christie, MD at NSTUK Ltd, Website NSTUK Ltd offer a range of Data Networking Instructor-Led Training Courses including VoIP and SIP, and deliver those courses within the UK and throughout the World.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

How to Accelerate Cloud Applications

As long as you have an Internet connection, cloud applications and cloud-based services are supposed to be just a few clicks away - and they usually are. However, the public Internet isn't necessarily the fastest delivery option out there. Not only can service be spotty, sluggish and inconsistent Internet performance means sluggish and inconsistent application performance. Fortunately, it is possible to accelerate cloud applications by using a third party acceleration service provider.

The Problem with Basic Cloud Application Delivery

In general, cloud services are typically set up using a client-server model with data flowing back and forth between the client and cloud-based server over the public Internet. Like all network traffic, this data is broken up into packets and transmitted over various nodes before being reassembled into usable form. While the Internet certainly works, it's not optimized for maximum performance.

How Cloud Acceleration Works

What if you could create your own private pipeline directly from the cloud application server to the client? If you could do so, you could avoid many of the issues associated with using the public Internet as a delivery path. For example, you could control the amount of network traffic using your network infrastructure and tweak various protocols to handle the demands of specific types of content including dynamic, constantly changing data typical of cloud applications. However, building your own private acceleration network would be cost prohibitive.

Cloud Acceleration Services

Third party acceleration service providers solve this problem by creating their own privately controlled networks that are optimized for speed, performance, and reliability. They use a variety of techniques such as traffic shaping, data compression, data de-duplication, data caching, data tunneling, network monitoring and troubleshooting, and network latency to optimize their wide area network (WAN). From there, they offer cloud acceleration as a service. These accelerated networks are privately controlled, optimized, and maintained by the service provider. The service provider then allows its clients to access the optimized WAN for a fee.

The provider has much greater control over the traffic that travels through its network infrastructure and can immediately intervene should a bottleneck occur. The service provider is also responsible for all network performance metrics including network load management, quality of service, and TCP/IP optimization. The entire delivery network can be fine-tuned and tweaked to improve performance, reduce latency, and enable the most efficient routing of dynamic content and data.

Choosing a Cloud Accelerator

Building a private cloud accelerator isn't an option for most companies, and it isn't necessary thanks to the availability of optimized WANs as a service. Several well-known and emerging cloud acceleration services exist, each offering superior performance for cloud-based applications.

Which is right for you? Start by comparing claimed application performance improvement rates, bandwidth consumption reduction figures, and guaranteed uptime. Next, look for providers that look like a good fit. For example, if you use Amazon Web Services, consider a cloud acceleration service provider that integrates with the Amazon Cloud and provides a meshed, optimized environment for accessing global and enterprise resources. Finally, sign up for a free trial and experience the thrill of an accelerated cloud!

Maxwell Pierce has been providing cloud acceleration for enterprise looking to improve their application and networking performances.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

How to Choose a Third-Party Service for SSD Testing

An overview

SSD testing is an important factor that OEMs and manufacturers need to employ in assuring SSD performance. Third-party SSD testing provides the added proof that an SSD functions according to its original design specification.

SSD testing should be performed during all phases of the manufacturing process and you should expect your third party storage testing company to offer test script suites for:
  • JEDEC Certification - Tests can be carried out to ensure that the SSDs adhere to the Client and Enterprise application class endurance ratings of the Joint Electron Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC).
  • Engineering Verification Testing (EVT) - Engineering verification testing helps you detect deviations from problems in the set design and engineering goals at an early stage, and address them. In addition to saving money, it helps reduce your to-market costs.
  • Design Verification Testing (DVT) - These tests are carried out to establish any anomalies in design that might affect product-to-market time and budget layouts.
  • Reliability Demonstration Testing (RDT) - A special set of tests is capable of calculating Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) so as to evaluate the specified life of the storage device.
  • Ongoing Reliability Testing (ORT) - This random SSD testing technique picks out samples from production batches for burn-in testing to ensure that the original quality parameters have remained consistent in subsequent batches.
The importance of utilizing Testing as a Service (TaaS)

HDDs and PCIes also benefit from third party testing. The two major advantages of engaging the services of a third-party testing service are:
  • It enables manufacturers and OEMs to market their product based on the results of comprehensive tests that prove the quality and reliability of the device. This will give your drives an edge in a competitive marketplace.
  • Companies that offer storage device test solutions and services boast a significant degree of specialization and knowledge. In addition to possessing state-of-the-art test hardware, these companies have also developed advanced software and highly evolved production test scripts. These scripts can be customized based on the requirements of the manufacturer or OEM.
Storage device testing is a comprehensive process that needs to be carried out by experts. The detailed reports provided by such firms inspire confidence among your customers.

Storage devices that are tested throughout the manufacturing process help manufacturers and OEMs locate defects at an early stage giving them the opportunity to correct any faults and get their product to market faster. Moreover, when your devices are validated by a third-party evaluation SSD testing service, your product gains an additional advantage over products that have only been tested by the manufacturer.

I have many years of experience in technology manufacturing industry. I am passionate to share my knowledge on SSD testing systems for reliability and performance. Check out the advantages of engaging the services of a third-party testing service.

Friday, 19 July 2013

The Power of VOIP

While not everybody knows VOIP by name, chances are the majority of people online are at least familiar with the technology and have used it in the past (if not regularly), as many instant messengers and webcam applications come with Internet telephony capabilities, and many portable devices already have the hardware needed by default (a microphone, a speaker, and Internet connection).

What is VOIP?

VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and as its name implies - it enables voice calls via the Internet, instead of relying on cellular signal. Naturally, it makes a lot of mobile operators wary of the technology, except in cases where they also have data services (which allows them to offer VOIP plans, riding on the benefit that it will free up their cell towers while still retaining subscribers.)
Due to the individual successes of wireless networks and voice over IP, it was only a matter of time before the two compatible technologies come together in order to give birth to wireless links for voice over IP calls: VOIP over Wi Fi.

The main pull of VOIP over Wi-Fi (or VoWI-FI) is that it can reduce telephony costs (the main benefit of VOIP) while also freeing employees from their desks. Additionally, mobile workers will be given access to make cheap calls via the growing number of public WiFi hotspots. Basically, VOIP over WiFi is a way cheaper alternative to providing employees with roaming cellphone accounts.

The biggest draw of VOIP, besides cost savings, has always been convenience, and while that convenience usually meant that users are tied to a desktop with a mic and headset combo, but with the advent of wi-fi capable phones, the sweet spot has finally been reached and VOIP can now be used on the road.

Advantages Over Conventional Phones

As mentioned above, the main advantage of VOIP is cost efficiency. Unlike traditional calls over cellular technology, voice calls that use the Internet are not metered. This is why many businesses have chosen to migrate to VoIP systems from their traditional copper wire telephone systems. In 2008 alone, over 80% of all new PBX lines that were installed were VoIP.

Skype is one of the more popular names in the VOIP industry, and it saw the potential firsthand, as they were originally marketed only towards people who want to talk to their friends overseas for free, but it eventually started catering to businesses, offering free of charge connections between their employees over the skype network.

Quality of Service

It used to be that VOIP was perceived to be less reliable than circuit-switched public telephone networks, since there's no fundamental network-based mechanism to ensure that data packets are not lost and are delivered in the right order. However, the advancements in the technology, coupled with a general increase in available bandwidth these days has completely negated all the flaws, and VOIP nowadays is every bit as reliable as conventional phones. While traditional cellular phones still have a place and a use, it can't be denied that VOIP will work as great supplements that will allow businesses and individuals to save on call costs and provide a much more convenient means of communication wherever you are.

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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Data Center Cooling - Within Your Rack - The Do's and Dont's

Rack Cooling: Within the Rack

One of the biggest issues in any high-density server environment is keeping the equipment at safe operating temperatures. This issue grows even larger when the equipment spreads from a small number of racks into the much larger numbers commonly seen in data centers. There are two main areas to be addressed here: the issue of cooling within each individual rack, and the facility-level issue of cooling the floor space the racks occupy. Let's look at cooling within the individual racks first; we'll save the facility-level issue for a future article.

Cooling within a rack starts with the rack itself. It's important to have a rack that allows for good front-to-rear ventilation. That means you want a rack with perforated doors - or no doors at all - and not a rack with solid steel or glass doors. Some racks will also have fans mounted on the top that may help depending on the type of installed equipment in the rack. Once the rack has been selected, the equipment should be laid out properly within the rack. It is advisable to install larger and longer equipment near the bottom of the rack and leave the top area for the smallest devices. This helps to ensure that the upper-level equipment does not trap a pocket of hot air within the central area of the rack where it is most difficult to remove. Next, ensure that all your equipment is setup for the proper front-to-rear airflow pattern. This is usually not an issue with commercially manufactured servers, but it's a common problem with servers that are assembled from individual components by the end user. Some network devices - notably Cisco ASA firewalls - use a "backwards" airflow pattern and should be mounted backwards in the rack to allow the proper airflow. You can think of it as "cold in the front, hot out the back" airflow.

Do you still see equipment running a little too warm? Especially near the top of the rack? There are two possible solutions to this problem: First, if the problem is only near the top of the rack one of the top-mounted exhaust fan options may help. Second, if you have a lot of unused space in the rack it may help to use blank rack plates to fill any unused spaces in the front of the cabinet. Open spaces between servers can sometimes allow for hot air from the rear of the rack to recirculate into the front of the rack resulting in the equipment running hotter than it should. The old trick of leaving a space between each installed server frequently results in hotter-running servers than if they were all installed together in a solid block!

In the back of the rack, it's important to ensure that the cabling does not block the airflow any more than necessary. We generally recommend to our customers that they NOT use the cable management arms that some manufacturers offer for their servers. While these arms make the servers easy to slide out for maintenance, they also severely restrict the airflow in the back of the racks resulting in much less airflow for the servers they support. Cables should be routed from the back of each server to the side of the rack and then vertically along the side of the rack.

Properly handling cooling within a rack well help to ensure your equipment operates reliably over a long period of time. In the next part of this two-part article we'll discuss some of the facility-level cooling issues involved with groups of multiple racks.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What Are the Most Common Server Failures You Could Encounter?

Some businesses are happy to rent space on a shared server rather than having one of their own. However if your business expands into a much larger going concern, you may find it is easier and more cost effective to have your own servers. Once you reach this stage you will be responsible for managing them and maintaining them as necessary.

As with everything in life, servers can develop faults and go wrong just as the hard drive on your computer might. If you do have your own server, here are some of the failures that can occur, followed by a suggestion on what you can do to resolve them as quickly as possible.

* Your server fails to boot up
This is basically very similar to the experience we've probably all had with our computers at one time or another. For one reason or another, it fails to boot up properly.

* The software is corrupted
Software can be corrupted in a variety of different ways. Sometimes this can happen by accident or by a combination of things, or it might happen through malicious means.

* Conflicting hardware
In this situation you may install one item of hardware that conflicts with some hardware that is already in place. It is not always easy to see what the conflict is, or how to resolve it.

* Upgrades to the operating system or to one or more software items
This is another fairly common incident to occur. Again, the issue may not always be self explanatory.

As you can see when a server experiences problems or stops working altogether, it could be due to a multitude of issues. Working out what the problem is and how you can resolve it can be very difficult indeed. This is why it is best to call in the experts to solve it for you. In many cases people have managed to make a bad situation worse, simply by trying to take the easy route and opting to resolve it on their own. This rarely works unless you happen to have significant knowledge of the server(s) and the ability to troubleshoot whatever problem you have. Put simply, experienced knowledge is what is required.

It does however illustrate how important it is to have access to a service that can assess any problems you may have with your server so they can be rectified as quickly as possible. The sooner this happens the sooner you can get on with running your business.

If you are experiencing problems with one or more servers, you can contact Data Clinic for assistance now. They offer server repairs and hard disk repair so you can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Cloud: An IT Vision You Can Really Look Up To

Tired of expensive IT upgrades? Really, doesn't that just drive you nuts? There just seems to be no end to the need for new servers, new PC's, software upgrades, etc. And do you really need a full-time IT person or department? It's hard to tell, isn't it? After all, what do you really know about IT and how it works, how to best make it serve your company, and how best to control costs?

Most business people, in an honest moment, will admit they know little or nothing about IT, and yet it remains one of the most vital aspects of your operation and its relative productivity. And then just think about the competition. What if they're just more savvy about IT? Does this give them a competitive advantage? Oh yes, most decidedly it does.

This is not to say there are not businesses lucky enough to be run by savvy IT people with varying levels of expertise. But the vast majority find it to be one of the most impenetrable areas of their business. Consequently they are forced to trust, willingly or not, their IT advisor, whether than an employee or a vendor. This can definitely cut both ways and the key here is trust. But still, doesn't this seem like a less than ideal situation?

I felt so during the years I operated my company as first a break-fix, and then later as an MSP or managed service plan IT operation. When I was first introduced the cloud as a potential business network something clicked and I could see it contained the answers to so many IT problems. I set out to master the cloud and leverage it's radical departure from the now old fashioned hardware networks.

From the beginning, the cloud offered an ever-increasing list of benefits for my clients. I had to stop at times and marvel at how much of an upgrade for my clients the cloud represented. It was amazing. It really amounted to a near complete shift of the hardware risk from my clients to me. I would now be responsible for all server functions and I would own and maintain the servers.

To replace the problems the PC's caused, I use what I call Cloud Access Devices, or caddys. These are small, about the size of a paper back novel, and have no moving parts. They allow a user to connect via the internet to their network which is now located in a highly secure data center where I've installed Dell super computers. We deliver one of these for each user and they're just part of the package. We maintain ownership and responsibility for these and replace them instantly if there's a problem.

By storing your data on our cloud and by replacing your PC towers with caddys, we remove all the moving parts from your network sparing you the labor and hassle it takes to maintain all of that stuff.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Look into the future and you can see a vision of a network with ninety-five percent of its problems gone. But it gets better, much better. Of the remaining five percent of problems ninety-five percent of those can be handled remotely.

So here's where you are with your new cloud network. You now experience one quarter of one percent of your previous problems. That's one out of four hundred, for the record. Your cost is a fixed monthly fee that doesn't change for three years. Your electric bill goes down. Your in-office CO2 output drops dramatically. You've gained a ton of time you used to spend, and your staff as well, waiting for a server to warm up, or a PC to fire up; all time now spent doing what you need to do.

So my vision's complete and here's the bonus. You're now taking IT for granted as you focus almost exclusively on the business at hand. You're more productive, your company's more productive and that pays dividends forever. You are out of the IT business for good and can now view it more as a utility, something to plug into than something you need to generate.

Now do you see why I'm so enamored with the cloud?

Let us assess your network's cloud readiness. We work with firms from 5 to 300 PC's and help you analyze the cost and operational benefits. If you do decide to explore a cloud network we can show you how you do it with much less expense that an old fashioned hardware network. Shift the hardware risk to us, you'll end up with a permanent network upgrade that will make you more productive and more profitable. Email me at or call me at 1-855-CLOUD65 ext. 2100 today.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Careers in IT Beyond Development and System Admin - Project Management

There is no doubt that the for those looking to switch their career paths, the world of IT, or information technology, can provide an attractive option because of the basic fact that the world's demand for IT solutions is only going to increase. Whether it's the production of computing devices and software for the personal retail market or the creation and maintenance of IT infrastructures within the enterprise space, the demand keeps rising as we become more and more dependent on technology to underpin every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

When many people think of IT careers they may well think of writing code for software programs, or maintaining the hardware on which those programs run, however, there are a myriad of essential jobs which don't require you to touch a line of code or tinker with a server. The following piece highlights some of the primary but alternative skill areas that anyone looking to kickstart a career in IT should investigate.

Project Management

Perhaps the most salient example of an IT career beyond development is project management. Every IT project, for example the deployment of a new in-house administration system, the building of a new website or the release of a software package, requires the guiding hand of a Project Manager to:
  • bring all of the project members (developers, network administrators, testers, marketers) and other stakeholders (clients, company boards) together in collaboration
  • keep communication flowing
  • scope and plan the project - including project objectives, scheduling and defined completion criteria
  • track and report the progress of the project
  • manage risk
  • determine the methodologies and tools that the project will employ to meet its stated aims
Project Managers (PMs) are often required to become familiar with a variety of different technologies between projects however, they rarely need to be hands on with creating IT elements themselves. It is therefore beneficial to have experience in IT, but any suitable individual with the ability to learn quickly and build a good team around them - i.e., good interpersonal and other soft skills - will be able to succeed. It is often a lone role within a project team and therefore requires that the individual is capable of working effectively on their own as well as within a team; with the skills to organise (and lead) both themselves and their team. In short, it requires a multi faceted skill set incorporating and combining soft skills with a strong technical awareness.

One attractive benefit of a Project Management role is that the skills employed are largely transferable, especially between different areas of IT such as software developments and systems deployment, but also beyond the IT sphere into other areas of business. Often the only limiting factor will be the individual's ability to pick up the specifics of their project's subject matter, as mentioned above.

There are a number of other similar roles, which can take on the title of project management, but where some of the responsibilities and levels of control are diluted, including project administrators and facilitators. Sometimes these may work alongside a project manager and can present an opportunity to gain valuable experience about what the role can entail.

The next installment in this series of articles will look at =testing/quality assurance roles in relation to both software and hardware.

© Stuart Mitchell 2013

To find out more about training and qualifying to become a project manager you can check out this organisation offering ISEB (British Computing Society) examinations in London.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Common Creativity: Understanding the Rules and Rights Around "Free" Images on the Web

The proper protocols to deal with infringement of authored images and content online has become a minefield of misinformation, some of which can land webmasters in big trouble with copyright law. 

Protect yourself by understanding what's at stake, and why.


Fair usage and image copyrighting in the age of the internet is a complex and ever-changing expanse of updated and upgraded copyright laws designed to net the various thefts that can occur on a frontier like the World Wide Web.

It's more important now than ever before for webmasters, small business owners, and other online users to understand their present day rights with an eye for the overriding legislation that is quickly gaining momentum in the war against online infringement.

The Goalposts Have Moved

The old adage about images needing an explicit copyright notice has vanished, and as far as the current laws are concerned, the moment a private creation is invented it receives an instantaneous copyright that positions it legally to seek out and shut down anyone who fringes upon the automated systematization of copyright in the modern world.

Most of the famous copyright sayings, in fact, have become outdated by the quickening pace of legislation. People could once use images freely so long as they did not charge for the image, or construe any implicit profit from the image's use, but now the courts in most countries will accept damage lawsuits regardless of whether or not an offender made any profit.

Fair Use?

The fair use shield that internet users once wielded against potential copyright claims has been broken down and discarded; the fair use exemption applying only to necessities in news and commentary. This excludes the vast majority of personal blogs and websites that have been bandying about the claim under false impressions of protection from the infringement they are committing.

Copyright Legislation

This is an increasingly difficult problem for many webmasters, who need to rely on the internet's vast portfolio of images to fill their blog with aesthetically pleasing content but no longer have any leg to stand on when it comes to protecting themselves against infringing on the natural copyright allowed to the owners of those images.

In order to successfully maneuver these muddy waters, it's necessary to understand the workings of copyright, and how to circumvent them. The copyrights themselves are automatic upon the creation of any original work of authorship, so first and foremost webmasters must always assume that any image they find online is copyrighted.

Attribution and Creative Commons

Another misunderstood reaction to copyright has seen many bloggers and website owners linking back to the original content or author in an assumption that this acknowledgement frees them from infringement, but unfortunately, that's not accurate either; giving credit where credit is due is polite, but it does not give anyone license to display anything.

Photo websites like Photo8, Morgue File and Flickr do provide sections of legal fair use images that everybody can pick and choose from, and Creative Commons licenses are alternative solutions from the non-profit sector that can release copyright licenses to allow the owners of said content to reserve the right to dictate who can use their image, including waiving their copyrighted ownership for public usage.

Attributions are still few and far between for the majority of users and bloggers, necessitating some higher protocols for mainstream internet users to use when receiving express written or acknowledged permission from the author of the image before using that image under any circumstances.


Trademarks and recognizable © symbols for copyright are no longer indicative of protected content, and in an online frontier of excessive protections it's important for webmasters to play by the rules so they do not become the targets of an online take-down.

People should familiarize themselves with the actual definition of 'fair use' as it applies to the online world, the way in which they intend to use the image, whether or not the image has been altered from its original version, and make a final appraisal on the potential risks associated with the image usage.