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5 Easy Ways to Save Money and “Go Green”

Want to save money while simultaneously saving the planet? Then listen up…

We’ve come up with 5 easy ways to go green while still keeping adding to your bottom line profits:

1) Power down your servers and workstations at night. A recent Gartner study measured carbon emissions from a variety of IT devices and found that the top three are PCs/monitors, data centers, and fixed-line telecommunications systems, in that order. PCs and monitors alone contribute 40% of total carbon emissions, data centers around 23%.

In fact, PCs worldwide consume about 80 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. What’s more, as much as two-thirds of that is wasted, according to Kevin Klustner, CEO of Verdiem, an IT energy monitoring and management company, translating to $5.4 billion of energy waste each year.
However, thanks to our <> program, we can power down your PCs overnight and have them up and ready when you walk into your office in the morning, saving your electric bill and lowering your carbon footprint on the environment.

2) Stop Printing Non-Essential E-mails, Faxes And Documents. Not only will this save your company money on ink and toner, but you’ll reduce the amount of paper and ink waste clogging up landfills. We can also install software to make your faxes show up like e-mails. That way you can easily delete the ones that aren’t essential and save a ton of paper and ink. Plus, you won’t run the risk of losing the only paper copy you have!

3) Stop Wasting CD’s and DVD’s. CDs and DVDs can hold a lot of data, but most people only use a tiny portion of the space by burning small files. This results in a lot of unused and wasted space (it’s the equivalent of storing a postage stamp in a warehouse). CDs and DVDs are difficult to recycle so use them intelligently and conservatively.

4) Change Your Power Settings. Almost all computers have lower energy settings that will power down the computer (or parts of the computer) that aren’t being used. For example, after 10 minutes of inactivity, set your PC to power off the monitor, modem and spin down the hard disks. Most systems have pre-determined profiles that make it easy to set up.

5) Turn Off Peripheral Devices When Not In Use. Specialized peripherals like printers, scanners and bar code readers consume large amounts of energy and, in some offices, are rarely used. Keep them turned off until they’re really needed.

6) Recycle – Earth 911. This tip is two-fold. First, if you need to upgrade a computer, printer, or other electronic device, look for energy and earth friendly machines. Many manufacturers are selling “green” versions of their devices that conserve energy and use fewer resources to operate, such as printers and copiers that use ink more efficiently.

Next, don’t just throw your old equipment into the trash! First, computers contain components that require special recycling procedures. If not disposed of properly, they can sit in a landfill for YEARS. The federal government requires businesses to donate or recycle old electronic equipment that the EPA considers hazardous waste. If you are caught violating these laws, you could be fined.

If those aren’t reasons enough, you never want to throw your old electronic equipment into the dumpster because your identity could be stolen. So how do you get rid of them safely and without harming the environment?

Here are two ideas…

If the machine or device is less than 3 years old or otherwise in good working condition, consider donating it to your favorite charity, or look for charities that specialize in refurbishing old computers for charitable donations. One good web sites is www.earth911.org or www.youthfortechnology.org

If the machine is too old to give away or refurbish, then consider www.pcdisposal.com or www.1800gotjunk.com.

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Rebate Alert: Don’t Get Ripped Off

The offers are irresistible but misleading; retailers advertise after-rebate prices on hardware and software to grab your attention and get you to buy. But are you really getting the bargain you expected?

They’re Counting On You To Forget
According to the NPD Group, a global market research firm, almost one-third of all computer products and twenty percent of all consumer electronics are sold with a rebate. Manufacturers use rebates as an easy way to offer discounts without actually having to take the full financial hit; that’s because thirty to fifty percent of the buyers never attempt to redeem them and therefore end up paying full price for the merchandise.

Get Ready To Jump Through Multiple Hoops
To further tip the scales in their favor of not having to pay out, some manufacturers and retailers are imposing impossible restrictions, complicating the process to request a rebate, delaying payments, and creating other barriers that make it difficult to get your money. All of these are delay tactics to get you to give up on the idea of getting your rebate out of frustration.
New Laws Protect You
With consumer complaints to the FTC and Better Business Bureau piling up, regulators have tightened the rules around advertising rebates.
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission settled its first dispute with a Dallas-based CompUSA store for knowingly advertising rebates from computer peripherals manufacturer Qps Inc., even though they knew this manufacturer wasn’t fulfilling on the rebates advertised.
After this settlement, CompUSA was not only required to advertise the time frame for securing the rebates advertised, but also had to take financial responsibility for any rebates not paid during the promised time frame.
Event though the government is on your side, getting stuck in the middle of a rebate war is very frustrating and a huge waste of time. If you are going to try to cash in on a rebate, here are some tips that will help.

5 Tips To Collecting Your Promised Rebate
1. Follow the rebate instructions carefully. Many manufacturers will reject a rebate over a tiny technicality. That means reading the small print and following the instructions to the letter.
2. Make a copy of all the paperwork, receipts, and documents before mailing them off. Some manufacturers may request the original receipt; if you mail in your only copy, you could be out of luck if it gets “lost” in the mail. Which brings me to tip #3…
3. Mail your rebate via certified mail to have proof of delivery.
4. Schedule a reminder to yourself to call the company if your rebate doesn’t show up within the time frame promised. Most companies will have a web site or toll-free number to call to track your rebate.
5. If the manufacturer rejects your rebate or is holding your check, let them know you plan on contacting the FTC or the BBB. Ask the people you speak to for their names and ask to speak to their supervisor.

As a final word of advice, only purchase things you can afford without the rebate.

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Do You Roll Out The Red Carpet For Identity Thieves?

Just about every web site you visit these days wants you to register and choose a password, especially when making a purchase.

However, if you do this carelessly, you may be setting yourself up as an easy prey for online criminals.

Although we know we should choose unique and hard to decipher passwords that contain both numbers and letters, most people still use easy to remember passwords and words for their convenience.

Below are the top 10 passwords used online according to PC Magazine. If you are using any of the following, you’re putting a big red bullseye on your account for identity theft:
1. password
2. 123456
3. qwerty
4. abc123
5. letmein
6. monkey
7. myspace1
8. password1
9. link182
10. [your first name]

If you want to avoid having to remember dozens of hard-to-remember passwords, Robo Form is a great FREE software you can download without having to fear adware or spyware.

RoboForm was named PC Magazine Editor’s Choice, and CNET Download.com’s Software of the Year. After you download the software, it memorizes your passwords and logs you in automatically to every web page with one click.

Best of all, it encrypts your passwords and generates random passwords that hackers cannot guess. You can even back up your passwords so you can copy them to another computer.

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24 Signs That Your Life Is Going Too Hi-Tech

1.You try to enter your password on the microwave.
2.You have 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
3.You consider “mouse elbow” a sports injury.
4.Your daughter is selling Girl Scout Cookies on her Web site.
5.The concept of using real money is becoming foreign to you.
6.Cleaning up the dining area means getting the fast food bags out of the back seat of your car.
7.The only jokes you “hear” come by e-mail.
8.Your cereal box says, “visit us online”, and you do.
9.You consider 2nd day air delivery painfully slow.
10.The reason you don’t keep in touch with some of your family: They don’t have e-mail addresses.
11.You chat with a stranger from South Africa, but you haven’t spoken to your next door neighbor in more than a year.
12.The computer you bought last week is now outdated and selling for half price.
13.You instant message your son in his room saying dinner is ready. He replied back to ask what you’re having.
14.You consider naming your daughter “Dot” and your son “Com.”
15.You order take-out food online.
16.Your family pet runs on batteries.
17.You can have more meaningful conversations with your car than your spouse.
18.You start calling telemarketers “spammers”.
19.You’ve never actually met your spouse in person.
20.You can turn your lights on, open the garage door, turn up your stereo, and see your back yard without leaving your computer.
21.You have 5 remote controls in your living room to operate one TV.
22.Your dog has an e-mail address.
23.Your idea of a great first date involves a cup of coffee and a chat room.
24.Your legs have fallen off from lack of use.

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Is It Legal For Employers to Monitor Your Computer?

Courts have ruled that an employer’s monitoring of its employees’ e-mails and other computer related activities during work hours and/or on company-owned equipment, Internet, and e-mail accounts is not illegal.

Companies typically monitor employees’ online usage for the following reasons:
1. To avoid claims based on sexual, racial, ethnic, and other forms of harassment.
2. To protect against an employee sending or posting confidential information.
3. To reduce exposure to intellectual property infringement claims.
4. To decrease the likelihood that an embarrassing message attributed to the employer will be sent.
5. To guard against computer viruses.
6. To improve productivity.

It is recommended that employers create an AUP (acceptable use policy) that outlines what is and isn’t acceptable use of electronic media and communications.

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5 Smart Tips for Mobile Device Use

1. Protect your devices from thieves. All mobile devices should be passcode-protected and loaded with apps that will help you track and find them in case they get lost or stolen. These apps allow you to remotely wipe the device if it falls into the wrong hands; you definitely don’t want to expose yourself to identity theft or allow someone access to your company’s network and client data. Also, never leave your device anywhere you wouldn’t leave your wallet.

2. Backup. Mobile devices get lost and destroyed more often than desktop computers because you’re dragging them around from place to place and exposing them to non-gadget-friendly environments; therefore, make sure you are backing up all the data to the cloud. All it takes is a spilled cup of coffee to erase those precious family photos and videos; and most people don’t think about backing up their phone.

3. Take caution when connecting to free public Wi-Fi. Hackers with routers and readily available software set up rogue hot spots for spying and serving you fake websites. They often name these hot spots something generic such as “Coffee Shop” or “Linksys” to fool you into thinking they are safe. You think you’re connecting to the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi, but you’re actually accessing the web through their portal. If you are going to use public Wi-Fi, simply use it for general web surfing, not shopping, banking or accessing critical data.

4. Turn off sharing. If you use a laptop, you might have it set to share files and folders with other computers at work or home. However, you don’t want those settings “on” when connecting to a public network. When connecting to a public hotspot for the first time, Windows will ask you for a location type; choose “public” and it will automatically reset your settings to turn off sharing.

5. Carry your own connection. If you’re going to access your bank account, go shopping online or retrieve critical data when traveling, invest in your own personal Mi-Fi connection. If you don’t have one and you need to make an emergency balance transfer or an immediate purchase to save a significant amount of money, it’s safer to use your cell phone. When banking, use your bank’s official app and sign up for any extra security they offer. For example, Bank of America’s SafePass program sends a text message with a 6-digit code to authorize a transaction. The code expires as soon as you use it.

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International Traveling: How to Cut Phone Costs

If you have ever traveled internationally, whether for business or pleasure, and talked on your cell phone, you may have received a shock when you returned home. Most people don’t realize just how darn expensive it is to communicate with people back home while they are gone. If you are going to do it via phone, it is going to cost you! But the good news is that there are things you can do to help curb that expense.

Know what you are up against. If you want to use your cell phone while traveling, first find out what you will be paying for international calls. Making international calls on your cell phone can range from $1 to $2 per minute, and it’s easy to lose track of the time. So before you go, get in the know by calling your cell-phone provider and finding out what it will cost you.

Use the WiFi connections to make calls. Depending on the type of phone you have, it may be possible to place free calls and texts if you use the WiFi connection available in certain spots. In order to take advantage of this, however, the conditions need to be right, including having a WiFi-enabled phone system and being at a location where free WiFi is offered at the time you need to take or make a call.

Screen your calls. At home, you probably just pick up every call that comes through on your cell phone. But if you are traveling abroad and answer an unnecessary call, you may end up paying a couple of bucks per minute as you try to get off the phone again. If you don’t know who is calling you, or whether or not you need to answer it, let the call go to voice mail and then determine whether you need to call them back.

Look into the available apps. There are some apps available that can be helpful for making international calls and saving money. Check to see which ones would work for you and whether it would be worth it. Usually, such apps are under $10 and may save you a bundle in the end.

Consider using Skype or VoIP. Consider alternative methods of making calls, such as using Skype or VoIP. With Skype, you can make the calls online or with your phone, and it is much cheaper per minute than using your cell phone. Also, VoIP providers offer a variety of plans that allow people to pay one low fee for making international calls. They are both worth checking out.

Respond via e-mail. If you get a message from someone and you can easily address their issue via e-mail, just respond that way. Most likely you will have your laptop with you anyway, so while you are in your hotel room you can catch up on communication that way.

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An Easy Way to Remember Your Passwords

One of the hardest habits we struggle to get our clients to break is writing down their passwords on sticky notes by their PC. Obviously this is a security risk. Another bad habit is choosing really easy-to-remember passwords such as “password.”

But admittedly, it CAN be hard remembering all of those darn passwords that are always changing. To solve this little dilemma, we’re suggesting to our clients to stop using passwords and use “pass-phrases”.

What is a “pass-phrase” you ask? They are letters and numbers put together in an easy-to- remember phrase such as “GoEagles09!” These are MUCH easier to remember than a random cluster of letters and numbers, which means you won’t have to write them down on a post-it note anymore!

Pass-phrases can be built from anything, such as favorite quotes, lines from movies, sports team names, a favorite athlete’s name and jersey number, kids’ names and birthdates, pets, and so on.

All you need to do is be a little creative to get numbers, letters and punctuation into the phrase. Since introducing this to our clients, we’ve found (believe it or not) they actually have fun doing this! Just don’t get so proud of your pass-phrase that you share it with others!

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Is Your LinkedIn Profile Hurting Your Reputation?

Quick: Do a search on your NAME and see what comes up. Chances are your LinkedIn profile comes up in the top one to five SERPs (search engine results pages). Because of this, it’s critical you have a professional profile; prospects WILL search on your name before meeting with you or doing business with your company. If your LinkedIn profile is poorly done (or nonexistent), it sends up a red flag. At a minimum, here are five things you need to do to create a positive impression.

1. A professional photo with emphasis on the word professional. If you don’t have a head shot, get one. According to Forbes Magazine, profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be viewed than those without photos. In fact, about 19% of recruiters only look at your image. Make it current and dress for the job you want to have. Remember this is your professional image , not a time for a cute pic with your pet, unless your career is about animals. And if you’re the CEO, it’s critical that you look like a consummate pro.

2. An Eye-Catching Title: Your LinkedIn title appears below your name and is the first thing someone will see. This is an opportunity to put in keywords that you want people to use or you expect they will use to find you. You can use it to list the position you want, the skills you possess, or some of your achievements. Use this space wisely. Unless you enter something here, it defaults to your current position and current company.

3. An Enticing Summary: This is your chance to highlight your professional experience, expertise and other credibility-building information. It also allows you to express your voice and personality. You’re not restricted by page size but you don’t need to write a book either; usually two to three brief paragraphs touching on your strengths, passion and experience.

4. A Solid (And Complete) Work History: If you’re looking for a job, you definitely don’t want gaps in your employment; and your LinkedIn profile IS your online résumé. If you’re a company CEO, you want to highlight the companies you’ve led and previous positions you’ve held to build a profile of how you got where you are today. Since job titles can mean different things in different companies, be sure to list the function of your role and key results you achieved, such as, “Saved the company $10 million,” or “Increased sales by $100K.”

5. Endorsements: Nothing you say about yourself is as powerful and believable as what someone else says about you – especially clients. If your profile is missing endorsements, reach out to a few happy clients and ask them to write a sentence or two about you. If you’re a job seeker, ask previous employers and managers to write an endorsement for you.

Local Advertising Network

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Are Your E-mail Messages Egocentric?

New research shows that when most people communicate via e-mail, they’re not thinking about how the other person will process the information, but are communicating egocentrically.

According to the article, “Think your e-mails are clear? Maybe not,” by Johnathan Silverstein on the ABC News website, egocentric means that people are approaching an e-mail purely from their own viewpoint, and not that of the recipient.

Justin Kruger, an associate professor at NYU and Nicholas Eply, an associate professor at the University of Chicago, are the authors of a paper on the subject recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that says people are not as good at expressing themselves and their emotions via e-mail as they think they are. The world of e-mail communications is chock full of horror stories of misunderstandings and miscommunications. According to Kruger, it’s hard for most people to get beyond their own perspectives and realize how impoverished our communications can be for the recipient.

So, the next time you send an e-mail, take a moment to stop and think about how it might come across to the other person.

Additionally, when you receive a harsh-sounding e-mail, don’t jump to the conclusion that the sender is angry or being hurtful. They might just have an “egocentric” style of communication!

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