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How the Digital World Has Changed Startups

Businesspeople today are so inculcated in the digital world they often do not realize the degree and the manner in which technology has not simply changed commerce but also greatly altered the way companies get started. Just 20 years ago, many businesses refused to have an internet presence, let alone put their sales online or have a website. 

Today it is virtually impossible to start up a new enterprise without a serious web presence. Those firms that have been around for more than 25 years had to catch up with the digital curve. Enterprises just coming into existence may not need a cash register but being able to conduct financial transactions over the net is an absolute must. Digital commerce is not just the latest trend. A major aspect of its prevalence is the series of benefits it offers today’s entrepreneur.

It Is Much Easier to Communicate

Not very long ago, landline telephone services were the default form of business communication. Businesses invested in 800 numbers to hold down the cost of “long-distance,” which was usually defined as any phone number you were calling outside of your area code. Apart from the major telephone companies—who incidentally all went into either the cellphone or computer business—no one misses the high charges associated with long-distance. Business landlines do have limited usefulness, though they have largely been supplanted by various options enabled by broadband and the internet. Every startup quickly discovers the need for “voice over internet protocol,” a VoIP phone system for small business. VoIP provides every-distance quality phone calls not just from your office but from any location.

You Do Not Have to Pull the Team Together

Assembling workers for every stratum of your business startup in the past meant months of finding and readying an ideal geographical location and office structure before any real business could be conducted. Today, thanks to video conferencing, the whole team may not ever be in the same place at the same time. A recent Entrepreneur article described the essential elements of creating a remote working team:

  • For starters, you do still need a central office. There has to be a headquarters where all plans and reports are processed.
  • Plan the team before you select the team. There will be a certain type of person you want for each position.
  • Set standards. Workers perform much better when they know the expectations your business has of them.
  • Keep everybody talking. Just because you are not in the same room does not mean anybody gets to skip the regular conferences.

Build Your Structure in the Cloud

For several hundred years it has been said that functional businesses are built “from the ground up.” Today it is clear that to be successful, a company must be constructed “from the cloud down.” In describing the necessity of utilizing cloud-based products and procedures from the developmental stages of a startup, Forbes analyst Satta Sarmah Hightower wrote, “…when it comes to building their company’s IT infrastructure, founders can dramatically reduce their risks and accelerate the development process by using flexible, scalable cloud services.” Most business software is designed to be accessed in the cloud with the resulting data stored in the cloud. That intention is proper for every startup.

Take Care of Customers Digitally

The truism that senior adults dislike tech and refuse to do business on the net has gradually become passé as more older adults realize that commerce has gone online and if they want the latest and best consumer experiences, they must as well. Of course, younger generations have never known a time without the presence of the net. Entrepreneurs have learned as well that quick, accurate, secure customer service can be developed by using tools on the net.

Every startup faces an uphill struggle against established competitors. If there is one advantage your new business endeavor possesses today it is coming into existence with full knowledge of the available digital tools you have to help you build.

Publish Date: December 1, 2021 12:26 AM


Don’t Forget These 6 Things on Your Next Business Trip

A business trip is an exciting opportunity. You get the chance to establish yourself or your company as an expert in your field, you get to network within your industry, and you may even get some time to yourself for exploring or relaxing. Any trip can come to a grinding halt when you forget something crucial, and you especially don't want to hit a snag when you're representing your company. To help make your work trip as successful as possible, here are 6 things you shouldn't forget when packing.

  1. Casual Clothes

Imagine you've just given a successful talk or presentation, enjoyed a wonderful networking lunch, and are ready to hit the down for the rest of the afternoon, only to discover you've only packed your suits and work shoes. Casual clothes and sneakers are a must, even if you don't think you'll use them. You never know when you'll just want to get back to your hotel room and relax. How are you going to sneak a workout in without your 7 inch shorts

  1. Business Cards

If you're on a business trip, you need your business cards. You may even want to get a separate business card holder to keep in your luggage for this exact situation. On the other hand, you should get used to carrying business cards on your person in general. There are plenty of chances to meet a random person on the street who turns out to be a valuable contact.

  1. Accessories

Your style is your first impression, and while playing it safe is never a bad idea, you don't want to be drab or forgettable. In addition to your work clothes, make sure you plan out all of your accessories to help you stand out in a professional way. This looks different for everyone. A nice belt and cufflinks can help you look more polished, but you may prefer some fun socks or a tie. No matter which accessories you choose, make sure you're comfortable and confident. If you wear a bright yellow tie and are embarrassed by it, everyone else will likely be able to tell. Likewise, don't wear the snazzy shoes if they hurt your feet. Work trips often involve a lot of walking, especially if you're at a conference or convention.

  1. Pens

How many times have you been in conversation with someone, only to need a pen that wasn't there? Have you ever been the hero to pull a pen from their pocket? You should be! Grab a pack of your favorite pens and keep them on you at all times. To really make a good impression, get some nice pens or even a personalized fountain pen. 

If you're going to pack pens, you should pack a notebook as well. You can bring something to take extensive notes in, which is a good idea if you're going to any classes or lectures, or you can bring something small and simple for reminders or those moments when others need a sheet of paper.

  1. Chargers and Cords

Make sure you've got an extra phone charger and any extra cords you may need. Many hotels and event spaces are sure to have an extra if you get desperate, but if you're presenting, you may be hard-pressed to find the right cords for your laptop.

  1. Mints and Hand Sanitizer

The way you look and how you present yourself is the first part of your first impression, so don't let your breath ruin it! If you're going to be around people, carry gum or mints to keep your breath fresh, and carry hand sanitizer to use between handshakes. You never know what kinds of illnesses you can pick up at business gatherings. 

Planning for a business trip can be stressful, especially since people tend to associate packing with a fun vacation. With a little extra effort, you can be the most prepared expert in attendance. 

Publish Date: November 30, 2021 11:57 PM


How Does a Computer Make Voices?

Computers that people can have a conversation with have been a staple of science fiction stories for decades. Modern computers have not yet reached the stage of being able to hold a conversation; however, they can produce speech. How do they do it?

Speech Synthesis

The process of producing speech on a computer is called speech synthesis. Many modern computer applications, from automated GPS navigators to business VoIP services, take advantage of this ability. Speech synthesis is a type of computer output. The computer or other device producing the speech takes words input into the system and reads them back to the user. 

Speech Synthesis Step One: Pre-processing

Speech synthesis is a three-step process. The first step is called pre-processing or normalization. In this stage, the computer analyzes the different ways the given text could be read and determines the correct one for the context. Numbers, times, dates, abbreviations, special characters and acronyms are turned into words. Because computers don't have the same ability as humans to decide how to pronounce something based on context, neural networks or statistical probability techniques are used. For example, if a computer is trying to determine whether a number represents a year or a quantity, it may look for clues in the text, such as the word "year." 

Additionally, the computer must attempt to determine the correct pronunciation for homographs, which are words that look the same but are pronounced differently depending on what they mean. To accomplish this, the computer looks for context clues, such as whether a sentence is written in the present or past tense.

Speech Synthesis Step Two: Phonemes

In this step, the speech synthesizer determines which sounds make up the words that need to be spoken. These sounds are called phonemes. A basic approach to this step is to provide the computer with a list of dictionary words and accompanying phonemes; however, this method does not produce very natural sounding speech, because when humans speak sentences, the phonemes may sound differently based on several factors. This is a concept called prosody. 

An alternative method is to divide words into graphemes, which are the individual letters or syllables contained in a word, and produce phonemes based on a simple ruleset for each grapheme. This has the advantage of making it possible for the computer to read any word, including made-up words, words in foreign languages, proper names and technical terms. The main drawback is that some languages, such as English, have many words that are pronounced differently from how they are written.

Speech Synthesis Step Three: Sound

Computers produce speech sounds in three main ways. The first is to use a recording of a human speaking the phonemes. In the second, the computer generates the phonemes by using basic sound frequencies. Finally, some computers can mimic the human voice.

Speech synthesizers that use recordings of the human voice are preloaded with short clips of human sounds that the computer arranges to form words. This is called concatenative speech synthesis. This is the most natural-sounding type of speech synthesis; however, it is limited to a single voice and language. 

Formant speech synthesizers generate speech based on the 3-5 key sound frequencies generated by the human voice. These synthesizers can say anything because they are not limited to a pre-loaded library of sounds.  

Articulatory synthesizers model the human voice. This is the most complex method and should be capable of producing the most natural-sounding speech; however, computer technology has not yet reached the level where machines can model the human vocal apparatus well enough to produce natural-sounding speech.

New uses for speech synthesizers are being invented all the time and as the technology improves, talking computers are likely to become a more common part of everyday life. Today, even the most natural-sounding of computer-generated speech is usually distinguishable from the real thing, but someday that will likely no longer be the case.

Publish Date: November 30, 2021 7:10 PM


Hang Up the Phone and Look at the Virtues of Video Calls

“It is an ill wind,” a proverb holds, “that blows nobody any good.” Eventually some positives will come out of a largely negative situation. Likely, you saw this play out in real-time through the pandemic year of 2020. In particular, one of the newest technological advances came in the use of video conferencing. This practice made it possible for millions of Americans to work from home and for thousands of businesses to continue operating. 

Surely, any list of the benefits of video conferencing has to include the way people learned to lean on video platforms to conduct business and stay connected. Not only did video chats become a staple of business communication but they taught entrepreneurs and video developers creative new ways to utilize video. There were several important truths learned because of this business tool.

Bid Farewell to Old-Fashioned Conference Calls

Long before the pandemic, a shift away from landlines to cell phones had reduced the landline primarily to a business tool. In 2020, the virtues of relying not on a business landline but instead a virtual phone system became quite apparent. Executives learned some important distinctions between old tech and new tech:

  • A virtual system can turn a smartphone into a remote broadcast location.
  • High definition quality comes standard both for audio and video.
  • There is no such thing as long-distance when you use VoIP protocol.
  • You take your entire system and all its capabilities with you in your purse or pocket.
  • An unlimited number of people can be added to the network or to an individual event.

Enhance Accuracy and Comprehension

As you likely realized during your first video conference, using this technology creates equality for everyone in the meeting, permitting everyone to hear tones of voices, to see expressions and to evaluate the degree of engagement others are experiencing. Researchers have verified that video draws participants into the event to a greater extent than sitting around a conference table and far greater than being part of a traditional conference call. There are two immediate results of this. First, there are fewer misunderstandings about information and intent; colleagues come away with an accurate awareness of what was said. Second, there is far less uncertainty about what is expected. These sessions are sometimes termed “intimate meetings,” even though participants physically may be thousands of miles apart.

Increase Productivity

The greatest fear employers had about sending employees home to work in March 2020, was that productivity would drop like a stone. There was general astonishment that productivity actually rose notably. Experts have suggested several reasons for this. Certainly, one reason productivity increased was because, with everyone working from home, expenses dropped. Workers tended to respond to their new autonomy with greater job satisfaction. 

Perhaps the swell of resignations that took place in 2021 was in part the loss of this newfound liberty. Video conferencing contributed to the productivity boost in a couple of ways. The first was a better use of the work schedule. Instead of lengthy, droning meetings, everyone knew that the session would end at a specific time and therefore concluded promptly. Second, the issues and conditions of workers were more transparent when gathered in the video setting.

Build Collaboration and Community

Clearly, the humanity of someone participating in a video conference is more apparent than what is revealed through the impersonal medium of a telephone conference call. During the quarantine period, social media platforms and even network TV news regularly showed clips of funny and poignant happenings from video conferences. It is difficult to imagine any recording of a telephone call revealing humanity in this way. The clear, connected view of human beings on display during a video conference has been demonstrated to create an empathetic understanding that leads to deeper task commitments, willingness to collaborate and group cohesion.

Video conferencing, in ways simply impossible to accomplish over an old-fashioned telephone, literally allows you to look into the eyes of your colleagues and see the future of your business.

Publish Date: November 23, 2021 10:55 PM


5 Skills And Traits All Leaders Should Strengthen

Being a leader in an organization means you need to consistently improve the skills and traits related to leadership. Doing so will help ensure your continued success in your leadership position. Here are five skills and traits all leaders should strengthen.

  1. Managerial Skills

The foundation of good leadership traits empahsizes being a good manager. You not only need to have the traits of a leader but the managerial skills to enact and back up those traits. One of the ways you can strengthen your managerial skills is by taking various management training courses. These courses will help you first learn and then brush up on your team leadership and project management skills. Different courses may focus on different types of managerial skills, such as creating synergy, delegating and executing goals.

  1. Decisiveness

Leaders are commonly thought to be decisive, and this isn't just a stereotype. To be an effective leader, you need to be capable of making decisions with a level head and critical thinking skills. Sometimes this means making decisions quickly or in stressful situations. Leaders may have to make many different kinds of decisions in a day, from routine things such as who to assign to a project and which projects get greenlit to more difficult things such as who to hire or promote. Of all the vital leadership skills, decisiveness is, in theory, the simplest one to strengthen. You simply need to start making decisions more often. In practice, this can be more difficult, so you should start small and work up to more consequential decisions.

  1. Negotiation Skills

To be a strong leader, you need to be capable of negotiating in many settings. You must be able to work with your team, advocate for your group with those above you in your organization's hierarchy and discuss resource allocations with other team and department leaders. Not only will this ensure your personal success in climbing the leadership ranks at your organization, but it will also help you ensure your team or department gets the resources it needs in order to succeed. Work on improving your skills in negotiating one-on-one and in group settings.

  1. Accountability

One of the most important traits of leadership you should work to strengthen is accountability or responsibility. You need to hone both your skills in proactive and reactive accountability. This means you need to take the initiative in tasks such as team building, performance management, proper resource allocation and ensuring projects run smoothly. It also means you need to be ready and willing to take responsibility and initiative if and when things go wrong. You need to prepare for potential roadblocks or issues, think of ways to effectively resolve them and avoid the temptation to shirk accountability. This also extends to advocating for and protecting your team. You need to be able to determine when you or someone on your team may be at fault and be prepared to work with related parties to come up with a solution. You should also be ready to defend your team if they aren't at fault.

  1. Communication Skills

Not only do you need to make sure your negotiation skills are sharp, but you also need to do the same with your communication skills. Communication informs negotiation as well as many other aspects of being a leader. You can utilize communication skills to navigate and resolve conflict, as well as to successfully delegate tasks and keep projects organized. Communication skills are uniquely variable. You need to be able to effectively communicate in writing, over the phone, via videoconferencing and face-to-face. You also need to be able to communicate with your peers, mentors, team members and your own manager.

You should focus on the skills and traits that you need to strengthen the most, as well as those that you feel would be most useful in your particular organization or leadership role. Strengthening them should be an ongoing process.

Publish Date: November 17, 2021 6:15 PM


How Secure is Your Share? Deciding What Information to Share Online

In an increasingly digital world, it can be hard to balance the convenience of online purchasing with the need to protect your personal and banking information. Even the best encryption can be hacked, and it's important to make sure you trust a website before entering any information. Different types of information carry different levels of privacy concerns. To decide what is safe for you to type out and what isn't, here is a ranking of the most common information you'll be asked for & their associated risks.

Email Address

 

Risk factor: 1/10. Your email address is an extremely common thing for websites to ask for, and sharing it comes with a very low level of security risk. After all, if you're using online security tools, or applying to higher education, chances are that they asked for your email address to activate your subscription. Entering your email address on websites will likely net you a flurry of marketing emails, which you may or may not be interested in, but you're unlikely to run into other problems. Be sure to never share your password with any website, and make sure that you have a secure password just in case.

Mailing Address

 

Risk factor: 3/10. Giving your mailing address is a necessity when ordering anything for delivery but it does come with a slightly higher risk than giving out your email address. If you use your home address to receive mail, you'll want to make sure that you trust the website that you are ordering from. Look for symbols and logos that certify the website encrypts your order data. You can also check online reviews from previous buyers to make sure that the site has a reputation for processing orders responsibly. If you receive mail to a PO box or similar, that gives you an extra level of protection against fraud.

PayPal, Venmo, Cash or Similar Address

 

Risk factor: 6/10. As you move into sharing financial information online, your risk factor starts going up exponentially. 3rd party payment processing services, such as PayPal, Venmo, Cashapp, and others, can offer a security blanket that you don't get when you share your direct credit card or banking information. These services often offer dispute processes and buyer/seller protection in the event of fraud. It's still a best practice to research a website or seller before agreeing to send any money, however.

Credit Card Information

 

Risk factor: 8/10. Sharing your credit card information, including the account number, expiration date, CVC code, and billing zip code, is a very risky thing to do online if you're not being very careful. Without the extra layer of security that a 3rd party processing service can offer, you're more open to fraudulent uses of your card. If the worst happens, you'll have to deal with the issuer of your card directly to rectify the situation. The good news is that most card issuers have a dedicated fraud department to assist. In fact, their usage monitoring may even help prevent fraud from occurring in the first place. Mitigate your risk here by choosing credit cards with excellent fraud protection policies, and by ensuring that you are only purchasing items through an encrypted service.

Bank Account Information

 

Risk factor: 10/10. Sharing your bank account information is one of the riskiest things that you can share online, but sometimes it's necessary. You may need to share it to register with a 3rd party payment processor, or to avoid paying the processing fees that come with using credit or debit cards. Making sure you trust the website that you are using is of the utmost importance here. You will also want to closely monitor your bank account information to ensure that your transaction (and only your intended transaction) processes correctly.

Sharing your personal and banking information online can come with risks, but it can also be done safely. At all times, make sure you trust the website or seller that you are dealing with before entering your information. Then, only enter the information that is absolutely necessary. When in doubt, it's best to not share.

Publish Date: October 18, 2021 6:28 PM


Ideas That Can Help Your Business Grow In a Big Way

If you're a business owner, then you know what a complex task running a company can be at times. There can be a wide range of challenges that crop up on a daily basis, and can make it feel difficult to navigate generating more business growth.

Even though it may not always feel easy to see the path ahead, especially when you are trying to expand your business in a big way, the reality is that it doesn't have to be a stressful task. If you are looking for some straightforward ways to help your business develop and grow, here are some things to look into. 

Try Out Different Forms of Technology

Something that can be highly beneficial when you are trying to expand a business is giving new forms of technology a try. From vehicle camera systems to digital time clocks, there are lots of different forms of technology that can help streamline processes at your company.

Some may think that introducing new forms of technology might slow them down, and therefore might not be worth it. While it is true that introducing a new way of doing things may slow you and your employees down initially, the reality is that once everyone has adjusted to the new tech it can often improve the efficiency of your business. 

Keep Doing Research Regularly

While you are trying out new tech, you also need to make sure that you are keeping up with doing new research, as well. This is especially important in the age of the internet, when consumer trends and tastes are changing more rapidly than they ever have before. 

Even though there are those that think it is fine to quit doing research after the initial stages of launching their company, stopping or even slowing down on your research can actually be detrimental overall. The more research you do to clarify and understand your place in the market, the easier it will be for you to develop products and marketing strategies that will allow you to truly stand out against your competition.

Beyond that, it is also essential that you keep doing the research to understand who your target audience is, and what they want. The more that you do this, the easier it will be for you to zero in directly on those who are the most likely to make purchases from you. 

Hire Candidates That Will Help You Get Ahead

Another thing that is highly important when you are trying to grow your company is making sure that you are hiring the right candidates. This is something that is important no matter the size or age of your business, but that is particularly important for smaller and newer companies. This is because when your company is smaller, each employee you have has a huge impact on how your business functions. 

To make sure that you are hiring the best employees for you, you need to learn to be open minded about who the best candidate would be. It can be a good idea to keep your company culture in mind, and make sure that you are hiring those with personality types that would fit into that, but beyond that it may be better to loosen your standards.

This is particularly important when it comes to experience levels. Lots of business owners only want to hire the most experienced candidates available. However, those who are new to their field may often be a better bet, especially for a new business. This is due to the fact that they are often more eager to show of their skills, learn new ones, and go above and beyond for their company. 

Some Parting Considerations

Growing your business may not always feel like a simple task. The good news is that while it can come with some challenges, there are stress-free ways that you can help your business to grow effectively. 

Publish Date: October 14, 2021 5:47 AM


The Technology Your Business Needs to Get Ahead

 

 

To succeed in the modern world of business, you’ll have to employ all of the advantages you have at your disposal. These advantages increasingly take the form of high-tech solutions to the various problems plaguing companies of all shapes and sizes. Small businesses lack the fiscal resources of larger corporations and therefore face harsher consequences for their missteps, but these tech tips can help your business stand the test of time and compete with the best.

Cloud Computing 

 

Easily one of the most impactful technologies to emerge in recent years, cloud computing does much to reshape not only business models, but also computing as you know it. Cloud computing is, on the surface, a style of networking. While it meets the brief in that respect, it has far more to offer than initially meets the eye. One of the signature features of cloud computing is that it specializes in connecting devices regardless of spatial constraints and hardware connections. The basis of cloud computing and cloud storage services is that they provide additional assets to users through the internet, rather than on-site hardware.

 

Cloud storage provides remote storage space to users, and this has a few advantages that make it a ubiquitous service for businesses and consumers alike. It provides additional storage space, and that space can be expanded further when and if the need arises for an additional cost. The ability to scale services and features to meet increasing demand is one of the defining aspects of cloud computing as a whole that make it a force to be reckoned with. Scalability also makes cloud cost management more flexible, which is important for smaller businesses in particular. Furthermore, this protects essential files from being lost due to hardware malfunctions, and cloud storage platforms offer essential cybersecurity features to keep your information out of the wrong hands.

 

Cloud computing is an important part of big data infrastructure, as well. By leveraging the full weight of the network against a single task, businesses can cut down on the time cost and memory usage otherwise involved in data processing. This essential task bridges the gap between data collection and data analysis, and the reduction in iteration time greatly strengthens a business’s output.

Smart Office Technology

 

Another essential tool for business spaces is internet of things (IoT) technology. IoT is not a monolithic technology but, rather, a wide array of devices and software that share some underlying properties. Namely, IoT devices are those that use a connection to a wi-fi network to provide users with additional functionality, including remote control and monitoring. These devices and apps can also be chained together, culminating in a smart home or smart office, and this has several major benefits associated with it.

 

First and foremost, the concept of the smart office has found a foothold in today’s businesses largely due to its uses for data management. Big data is an integral part of the modern commercial landscape, and IoT technology excels at collecting data and storing and sorting it automatically. This kind of automation helps businesses to achieve cleaner data that aids in producing more effective strategies from the ensuing processing and analysis of data.

 

The automation of data management is also integral to e-commerce, because it provides consumers with 24/7 access to a business’s services without the need for ‘round the clock labor. Even data management alone reduces the need for menial, clerical labor, and this can save businesses money otherwise spent on labor costs while improving the morale of workers transferred out of administrative positions into more engaging and active roles.

Conclusion

 

Today’s businesses have more and greater advantages available to them than ever before, and this allows even small businesses to guarantee a certain level of efficacy and commercial viability. While you can’t simply buy success in the form of the latest and greatest gadgets, these tips illustrate the tangible value of the most important business tech available.

Publish Date: August 5, 2021 4:41 AM


Want a Pool But Your Spouse Doesn't? Here's How to Change That

pink inflatable ring on swimming pool

When the weather heats up, are you wishing you had a pool just a few steps away? Do you wish your spouse had the same feelings? If you're finding yourselves at odds over making a pool part of your home's landscape, don't give up just yet. Here are some ideas for convincing your spouse that a pool is not only a good idea but a valuable addition to your home as well.

Present the Facts

One of the best ways to present your case for a pool will be to do your homework before bringing it up. Not only will having facts on paper prior give the discussion a realistic tone, but it will also ideally cut down any unknowns or questions your spouse has. To start, enter "Pool builders near me" into your search engine. Remember, once you connect with a professional, rest assured the process should be a smooth one. This will also give you a better understanding of different sizes and shapes, as well as an idea of pricing.

Paint a Beautiful Picture of What Could Be

Even though you already know how much more fun those hot days will be with a pool, making sure your spouse shares the same vision is a must. This might be tricky, especially if they're stuck on the financial or logistical aspects of it. However, it can still be done. For instance, maybe your spouse hasn't considered the opportunities that a swimming pool offers.

While pools are great for cooling off on a hot day, they're also the perfect environment for getting excellent exercise. If you have kids, focus on the fun and convenience a pool will offer. Gone will the days be of schlepping everyone to the community pool, because you'll have your own in your backyard. There won't be any more worrying about securing deck space, no more paying pool fees, or having to swim within a certain timeframe. They're also perfect for family or neighborhood gatherings, birthday parties, or weekends with the grandkids.

Put Everything Into Perspective 

It's no secret that a pool is a large investment. What's important here is to put things into perspective. Maybe this means suggesting swapping a vacation for a staycation, where your new pool is the shining star. Pools might also increase property value, which is never a bad thing. It's also a great way to keep your kids closer to home; to make your house the place for the kids to gather. You can also approach it from the idea that a family vehicle could run in the same ballpark pricing-wise, but chances are you'll have the car for far less time than you'll have your pool. Focus on situations that relate to your situation for the best impact. 

Have a Plan

In a perfect world, pools would simply take care of themselves. Unfortunately, this isn't the case. And when you have a spouse who isn't quite on board with purchasing a pool, chances are its maintenance is part of the uncertainty. This is why making sure you've got a maintenance plan is a must, even if it's just a collection of reasonable ideas to think about. Be sure you have a realistic idea of what it entails. Fortunately, pool maintenance has come a long way over the years, making it easier than ever to perform proper care.

Additionally, if you're able to budget it, consider contracting with a pool maintenance company to make things even easier. Having a pool built in your backyard will open up years of fun and healthy activity for everyone. And if your spouse isn't as sure of doing this as you are, just remember that the way you approach it can make all the difference in the outcome. 

Conclusion 

By being prepared with facts and painting a positive picture of what to expect, you can have a frank and productive discussion that will ideally end up with a pool in your backyard.

Publish Date: July 23, 2021 2:43 AM


3 Ways to Improve Your Online Gaming Experience

person sitting on gaming chair while playing video game

 

Online gaming is a great pastime for millions of people. Online games can provide a competitive arena to test your skills, a social medium to meet new people and hang out with friends, or a brand-new world in which to immerse yourself and accomplish goals. With so many reasons to hop into an online game, it makes sense to want the best experience possible. Here are three ways to improve your online gaming experience.

Keep Your Information Safe

It is in the very nature of online games to interact with other players. The vast majority of people you will meet online are strangers. While most of these strangers will be harmless, it is nonetheless important to protect your accounts from bad actors. First, make sure the information you want to keep private is truly private. Check your account's privacy settings to review what information is available to the public and what information is only known to you. Ensure that you have adequate network security to protect your IP address and connection with the game server. Finally, enable two-factor authentication on all your online accounts to increase your accounts' overall security. These simple tricks will help you always stay safe online.

Upgrade Your Internet

Lag can destroy your online gaming experience by making the game virtually unplayable. As such, a low-latency, high-bandwidth internet connection is essential to having a great online experience. Fiber internet offers some of the best speeds and reliability that you can buy, however it is only available in certain geographic areas that have upgraded their internet infrastructure. If a fiber connection is not available in your area, a cable connection will still be great. Keep in mind that faster speeds will always be better for your online gaming experience, however, there will be a point of diminishing returns. Finding that point for yourself depends on how many people are using your internet connection at the same time, and what they’re doing on the internet. In most cases, you won’t need to pay for gigabit internet because a 100 Mbps download speed will be plenty.

 

Having fast internet is only half of the battle. It is also important to have a good connection from your network router to your computer or gaming console. The best option is always to use a wired connection directly from your router into your gaming machine. A wired connection, using an ethernet cable, will provide you with the full speed of your internet without any losses. Wi-Fi can be perfectly sufficient, but this depends on a few factors, namely your router’s antenna, your gaming device’s Wi-Fi chip, and the distance between your router and your gaming device. The antenna and the Wi-Fi chip are two sides of the same coin. Your router must have a powerful antenna to send out as powerful of a Wi-Fi signal as possible. Your gaming device must have a good Wi-Fi chip in order to receive as much of that wireless signal as possible. Distance and obstacles play a huge role in receiving good Wi-Fi. It is important to be as close to the router as possible to ensure as little signal loss as possible. The more walls, furniture, and other objects that the Wi-Fi signal must pass through to reach your device, the weaker the signal will be. A weak signal will result in a poor online experience. If you must use Wi-Fi and be distant from your router, a network extender may be a good option to consider. A network extender will essentially amplify the Wi-Fi signal on its way to your device, making it stronger and more reliable in the process. To have the best online experience possible, it is important to have the best internet connection possible.

Improve Your System Performance

Improved system performance will help in many different online games. For fast-paced, competitive games, improving your system performance will result in higher FPS, which gives you an edge against your opponents. In slower games that might not be competitive, such as RPGs, improving your system’s performance will produce a higher degree of detail in your world, boosting your immersion and enjoyment of the game.

 

There are many ways to improve performance. The most obvious solution is to upgrade the components inside of your system. This generally isn’t an option for console gamers, but it can be a gamechanger for PC players. If you’re on PC, upgrading your storage to an SSD will result in blazing fast loading times. Upgrading your GPU will result in greater gains in raw FPS output. Upgrading your CPU can help to ensure your GPU isn’t wasting performance due to a bottleneck in processing capability. Upgrading your RAM will result in snappier system performance overall and will allow you to run more applications at the same time. Upgrading the parts inside of your PC is a great way to see massive improvements in your online experience if you have the money to spend, but not all performance upgrades require a cash investment.

 

For console players and PC gamers on a budget, simply tweaking the video settings inside of your games can provide huge FPS gains. Turning down excess visual effects like shadows, raytracing, anti-aliasing, and graphic quality presets can significantly boost online game performance all without affecting your overall resolution. For some competitive titles, lowering graphics settings can have the added benefit of removing certain objects in games like grass and bushes that other players can hide inside, letting you spot them very easily. Of course, lowering your graphics settings will make your games less beautiful. It will be up to you to decide how you want to balance performance and visualizations.

Conclusion 

 

From first-person shooters to massively multiplayer online role-playing games, there are online games that appeal to everyone. No matter what kind of game is being played, everyone wants to have the best experience possible while they play it. If you follow these three simple suggestions, you will be well on your way to owning noobs in no time.

Publish Date: June 2, 2021 9:13 PM


What To Watch When You Need A Good Cry

Sometimes life throws so many lemons your way, all you can do is sit and cry. When these moments hit you, don’t be afraid to let the tears fall. In fact, you may just need a little nudge in order to open up the damn. Here are some movies you can always count on to help you have a good, ugly cry.

Titanic 

Although it may seem like a movie you already know the ending to, there’s something about the Titanic that will call you to watch it over and over again. Watching the entire movie, knowing what’s coming…make sure you have the tissue box close by.

Bambi

It may be considered a child’s movie, but Bambi can make even the most grown-up man cry. Watching a child lose their parents and making them live seemingly on their own will rip the heart of anyone.

The Notebook

The Notebook is filled with steamy romance and shattering heartbreak. This movie tells the story of a never-ending love that fights to the end to survive, causing the watcher to think about his own life.

Up

You won’t be able to make it through the first ten minutes of the movie Up without sobbing. While the rest of the movie will begin to cheer you, you’ll never forget what happened at the beginning.

A Walk to Remember 

Whether you watch it on a big screen or a rugged laptop, make sure you’re ready for a good cry when you put on A Walk to Remember. Every time it looks like the road may get a little bit smoother in this movie, it's got a few more turns to take.

A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born is one of those movies that will give you hope before ripping your heart out. For a moment it looks like all is well, yet in one moment everything will change. You definitely won’t be expecting this ending.

Les Misérables 

Watching history unfold in the musical Les Misérables can’t help but be cried over. What happened is nothing short of misery, which only helps the tears fall faster.

Saving Private Ryan  

Saving Private Ryan tells of one family’s tragedies yet leaves room for them to have a little bit of hope. That hope will come at the expense of others though. The fact that this movie could hit home with so many war-torn families only causes one to cry a little more.

The Fox and the Hound  

Nature has a funny way of existing sometimes, and The Fox and the Hound will make you cry about it. An honest friendship that’s forced to turn into a hated enemy will hit hard every time you watch it.

The Christmas Shoes 

Christmas is a time filled with joy and happiness, yet when you watch The Christmas Shoes, you’ll never look at a pair of odd-looking shoes the same again. Your eyes won’t be able to help but water, when those shoes are danced in one last time.

Gladiator 

It may never be proven whether or not the Gladiator is based on a true story or not, but the fact that things like this movie did happen in the past can cause one to sit down and lose it. Bad things happen to good people, but you’ll find that good people don’t always stay silent about those things.

Finding Neverland 

While the story of Peter Pan is commonly known around the world, not many know what it was that caused the tale to come to be. Finding Neverland takes you on a journey that will help you understand why Peter Pan was born and what made him decide to never grow up.

The Last of the Mohicans 

The shocking ride that The Last of the Mohicans will take you on is comparable to none. You’ll have to be made of steel if you want to make it to the end without shedding at least a few tears along the way.

Hamilton 

One of the most recent Broadway plays to hit the movie world was Hamilton. Although it may be named one of the greatest musicals ever made, one can’t help but cry when they watch Hamilton himself die at the end.

Sometimes all you can do is cry. If you’re struggling to do so though, consider pressing play on one of these movies.

Publish Date: February 23, 2021 4:37 AM


How Businesses Can Help the Environment

closeup photo of silver iMac

Making efforts to operate more sustainably can enable businesses to help the environment while also increasing profitability. A growing number of individual consumers are becoming increasingly conscientious about the environment, and it’s informing their habits as consumers. People will be more likely to want to work with a company that accepts its responsibility to conduct its activities in a way that has a minimal negative impact on the environment. While a business’ focus on becoming more environmentally friendly may vary depending on the nature of its operations, there are several things that virtually every type of business can do to help address the climate crisis.

 

Use a Renewable Energy Source

Businesses can save on their monthly energy costs by incorporating a renewable energy source into their power supply. Many types of affordable solar panels for home use can also be used in a small-business setting at a small or medium sized facility. In addition to providing savings on energy, solar panel installation may also entitle you to a tax deduction or a rebate from a state energy incentive program. Solar panels are a great visual demonstration to customers or clients who visit your facility that you care about your environmental impact. You can create a solar paneled system to power some or even all of your business’ operations.

 

Switch to LED Lighting

Many businesses that have traditional incandescent or fluorescent lighting end up paying a lot more for it than they would for newer LED lighting. While LED bulbs may cost a little bit more than the old ones, they need to be replaced far less often. Moreover, LED bulbs use significantly less electricity and they can help you realize considerable savings on your monthly energy bills. In addition, LED bulbs typically don’t tend to emit any noise in contrast to the fluorescent ballasts used in commercial settings.

 

Embrace Green Transportation

If any element of your business requires that your workforce use a company vehicle, consider providing vehicles that don’t create unnecessary emissions or fuel waste. A compact gas-efficient or hybrid vehicle is the best choice for an eco friendly business. Electric trucks are not yet available on the consumer market, but they are expected to be launched by several manufacturers within the next few years. Consider leaving a little room in your upcoming annual operating budgets to transition to an electric vehicle.

 

Reduce Waste

Minimizing the volume of waste that your business produces can be achieved in a few different ways. First, decrease your usage of disposable supplies and opt for permanent reusable solutions. A few small and simple steps such as eliminating plastic utensils and Styrofoam cups in your breakroom can make a significant difference over time. In addition, making a concerted effort to go paperless more often can help you produce less paper waste while also saving you money on your monthly printer costs. Lastly, changing how you store the trash that is being collected for pickup can reduce your total volume of waste. A baler or compactor can shrink the size of your trash considerably, and it may result in fewer pickups being needed.

 

Install Programmable Thermostats

Being able to set your facility’s thermostat to a schedule can prevent unnecessary overuse. Rather than having to leave a system running when nobody is there to assure a comfortable temperature when people arrive, you can set a system to come on in advance of employees arriving for work. A set schedule will assure that you won’t have to worry about forgetting to turn off a thermostat. You can also feel comfortable about restricting access to thermostats to locked access because they’ll be programmed to come on when they need to.

 

Ultimately, some small changes can be very effective in making a business’ operations more sustainable. These changes are good for the environment, and they can also lower overhead expenses and thereby increase a business’ profitability. Environmentally conscious operations reflect good management practices, social responsibility, and a keen eye for savings.




 

Publish Date: August 27, 2020 9:32 PM


6 Tips for Keeping Your Call Center Functional During a Pandemic

Like many call centers around the world, your operation was most likely damaged by the pandemic. When you rely on a significant number of workers to offer excellent customer support, it’s challenging to guarantee efficiency and safety during an ongoing crisis. Although your current outlook may seem grim, you can implement a series of safety measures to maintain a healthy workplace and remain productive.

1. Sanitize Your Workplace

The first step to providing a safe environment is to enact an extensive cleaning session that will eliminate the virus on all contact surfaces. Your office space, break room, conference areas and restrooms should be thoroughly sanitized. There are several things you and employees can do to improve conditions during a crisis, but cleaning your building should only be performed by professionals. Choose a trusted contractor for coronavirus disinfection services that follows CDC guidelines and employs effective, state of the art techniques. The best times to disinfect your business are after the employees leave and before they come to work.

2. Quarantine Infected Workers

Employees that test positive for the virus must be quarantined to avoid further infections. Mass infections have resulted in numerous shutdowns across the globe, and although a scaled-down workforce is less productive, a closed business nets zero profits. It’s essential to find out if the sick worker had close contact with any other employees, and if they did, further quarantines might be warranted. However, the only way to be sure that the other employees are unaffected is to have the entire staff tested for the virus.

3. Reorganize Your Workspace 

Your call center cannot operate effectively in the same office layout that existed before the pandemic. Desks or cubicles must be spaced at least six feet apart in all directions, and conferences or employee meetings should only take place online. Most call center owners had minimal problems with socialization among employees before the crisis, but it’s wise to reiterate the seriousness of the current situation and forbid your workers from socializing in the office or break room. Persuade your people to use video chats or phone calls to chat during the breaks and downtime and mandate a strict mask policy around the office. Most states and municipalities have mask mandates for public areas, and you’re not asking too much of your workers to follow the same guidelines at work.

4. Eliminate Sharing

To avoid any potential for contamination, you can eliminate all of the shared items in your office and break room. If you use silverware or plates in your break area, you can replace them with disposable, single-serving items. Your refrigerator can no longer accommodate employee’s personal food, but you can suggest that each employee brings a small cooler for their perishable lunches. You can also discourage large groups from forming during lunchtime by staggering the lunch periods and limiting the number of people in a single room or cafeteria.

5. Offer Remote Work Options

Furloughs and layoffs are an unfortunate result of the pandemic’s economic effects, but you may be able to retain more workers by developing a remote work option. Remote workers can maintain your center’s productivity and reduce the number of workers in the office. When you determine how many workers can safely work in the office, you can estimate how many additional online employees you’ll need. Most call center employees can adapt well to online work if they have the necessary equipment, but it may take you a few days to become comfortable managing remote employees.

6. Use Chatbots

If your center is unable to handle a surge of calls with a reduced staff, you can temporarily use AI chatbots to assist callers. Several large firms have recently employed chatbots to accommodate simple requests from customers, and AI has drastically improved compared to the robot callers of five years ago. With increased demand, companies like IBM and Google have developed intelligent chatbots to help companies during the crisis. Although it’s challenging, you can continue to provide excellent support to your customers, provide a safe working environment and maintain employee productivity during trying times.

 

Publish Date: August 26, 2020 1:00 AM


7 Tips for Creating a Successful Online Business

Today’s consumer and business owner are connected like never before. While the internet has been around for decades, faster speeds and more connective devices have changed the way business is conducted. The prevalence of smartphones and shopping apps have customers sitting at home ordering their favorite products, and the use of social media has replaced word-of-mouth referrals and traditional advertising challenges. If you want your online business to succeed, here are seven things you should include in your operating strategy.

Have Your Web Assets Organized

 

Every business has assets, but when operating online, these assets include things like your website, your web host and your social media channels. Don’t think for a minute that these items can’t be controlled and organized. You do have some power of the content, design and delivery of your product and online presence. Everything should be optimized for promoting your brand. For those that don’t have the technical skills to make this happen, you should definitely turn to the experts at https://www.onthemapmarketing.com/locations/miami-fl/website-design/ for help. Website designers and social media managers should have a strong understanding of SEO content, and they should integrate relevant keywords into your content. At the very least, always keep your company’s information current.

Prioritize Customer Safety

 

Online traffic and transactions are fraught with risk. Many consumers are worried about their private information and the potential of having it hacked. Not only do you have a moral obligation to protect your customer’s records, but you have a legal obligation as well. All information should be stored on separate devices, with secure backups stored in separate locations. Very few people should have access to the controls and systems that both collect and store information. Use secure transaction software and destroy credit card information securely once it is no longer needed.

Watch the Competition

 

Even though you are operating online, you need to know your prime competitive threats. It may be another website or a product that compares well when valued against yours. You can start by looking at the marketing channels your competition is using successfully. Check out there social media campaigns and interactions with consumers. How engaging and diverse is their content when compared to yours? Carefully inspect their keywords. Google has a number of resources that let you track keywords and trending word searches.

Guard Your Online Reputation

 

There is saying that it takes a lifetime to build a good reputation and one mistake to ruin it. In the online business world, your reputation is crucial to your success. One mistake could destroy all faith in your brand forever. There are tools that keep you informed of when your brand is mentioned, allowing you to take immediate action to correct misinformation or thank a customer for a good review. Be sure to establish interaction guidelines on your social media page. All visitors and those who comment or interact should know what you expect, and you need to quickly handle any complaints or negative expressions that are posted.

Have a Strong Internet Connection

 

Nothing is more frustrating than logging in to your computer only to find your internet is down. Don’t sacrifice speed and consistency for a cheaper bill. You can’t address customers, fill orders or buy new products without a fast internet connection.

Watch the Trends

 

The online world is constantly changing, but so is consumer behavior. Social media is a prime example of how quickly things evolve. You need to stay on top of what is going on if your business is going to implement change effectively.

Stay Patient

 

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your online business. Patience and persistence is the key to a successful company, no matter where you are operating. Consistently making smart choices and being flexible improves your chances in the online environment. Be prepared for years of hard work.

Know When Enough Is Enough

 

Even though you may try your best, you may not experience the success you want or need to make money. Your idea might be better suited for a different sales approach or it may be ahead of its time. Don’t push on if there is no hope of success. Sometimes it is best to cut your losses and move on to something else.

An online business carries a lot of responsibility, but there is a lot of potential for success. Memorize these tips to give your business a better foundation.

Publish Date: August 21, 2020 6:26 PM


3 Ways to Make Your Business More Productive

Employee morale has been a common talking point in recent years, as it can have a profound effect on productivity in the workplace, for better or for worse. This means that the well being of employees should be a priority in any company, but it can be difficult to ascertain what changes may need to be made in order to achieve higher morale around the office and higher productivity as a result. Here are some recommendations on how to approach employee well being.

Health Consciousness

A healthier body is a happier body, and that means that physical well being is an important component of workplace morale. However, it’s simply not feasible for an employer to be able to guarantee that their employees are taking care of themselves. That being said, promoting physical wellness is certainly within the realm of possibility. For starters, you can install an on site gym or give employees access to gym memberships at no cost or a reduced cost in order to give them more affordable access to the means with which to take care of themselves effectively. Likewise, you can supply your employees with health and wellness oriented gifts periodically to encourage better life choices. High impact whey protein ingredients can help your employees make better use of that gym membership, or even to simply pursue fitness on their own time, and the same can be true of weight loss.

Mental Health

There is a notable relationship between physical health and mental health, and that’s a relationship that goes both ways. Taking care of one’s body helps to improve one’s mental health, as well, so even simple exercise can drastically improve an individual’s mood. However, poor mental health can cause bodily repercussions, as well, so it’s important to tackle well being from both angles. For example, a couple of known symptoms of depression are fatigue and random aches, so it’s important for your employees to be mentally stable in addition to physically fit. One way that this can direct changes within the workplace is simply taking mental health emergencies seriously

 

Panic attacks and dissociation are mental in nature, but it’s not all in your employees’ heads. Panic attacks have physical symptoms not dissimilar to those of a heart attack, hence the similar nomenclature, and dissociation can prevent the victim from accomplishing basic tasks. Work itself can play into mental illness, as well, as it can often seem fruitless to work 40 hours a week without some kind of personal attachment to the work you do, so it can also be helpful to make the work itself more meaningful to employees by sharing the positive effects that their efforts are having.

Incentives

As mentioned above, incentives can be used to bolster the morale around the office, but it can also be in a less targeted form. For example, one great way to incentivize workers is to offer bonuses. This tactic is common around the winter holidays in many businesses, but it can be applied more liberally in smaller, more frequent doses to bolster the effect. However, it can also be used as an incentive specifically for meeting certain performance thresholds, motivating workers to give the job their all. Another potential incentive is paid vacation time. While this is again something that some businesses already utilize, it can be discouraging for many workers to not have vacation time as a result of not being able to take time off of work in which to enjoy such a thing. Paid vacation time can alleviate this problem, giving employees much needed time away without the need for them to sacrifice their much needed income.

 

Creating a productive environment can be difficult, at least conceptually. However, there are proven strategies that can help you do just that by improving the working experience of your workers in small ways here and there. Using these recommendations, you can improve employee morale immensely and cultivate a more motivated workforce in the process.

 

Publish Date: August 20, 2020 7:39 AM

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