3 on-the-go security gadgets

Sometimes it can be hard to keep your belongings safe while you are on the go. Luckily, there are many tools that make it easier. Things like notebook locks and personal safes are extremely handy and portable enough that you can take them with you wherever you go. These are some of the coolest tools that can help protect your things.

Laptop privacy screens
Privacy can be quite tricky when you’re working in a public place like a coffee shop or an airplane. There is always a nosy neighbor who wants to see what you’re working on. Unfortunately, if you’re working on something with sensitive data, there is not an easy way to keep your neighbor from spotting it.

Laptop privacy screens get rid of the need to crouch over your screen and constantly minimize windows by obscuring any view from an angle. Viewing the screen from an angle results in a seriously darkened screen, which makes it challenging to really see anything.

Handheld paper shredder
Shredding documents is an easy way to prevent others from getting a hold of sensitive information, but it becomes a lot less easy when you are traveling. Handheld paper shredders are small and portable, and they make shredding documents a simple task no matter where you are.

Mandylion Password Manager
Strong passwords are vital to our security. They are one of the best ways to protect your sensitive information from hackers and evildoers. Strong passwords aren’t always so easy to create and keep track of, however, which is why we often need a little help.

Fortunately, the Mandylion Password Manager quickly and easily comes up with unique and incredibly strong passwords. It touts “military-grade password protection” and can help you manage up to 50 logins. With this, the only password you need to remember is the one for the Password Manager.

Anyone who works outside of the office every once in awhile knows how tricky it can be to really secure your belongings as well as information. These tools, and others like them, make the security much easier to attain.

For more security gadget ideas, check out this Mashable article.

How to manage your email inbox

Your email inbox is probably one of your primary connections to the world but, if it goes unattended for just one day, it can quickly become too much to handle. Missing emails can mean overlooking important details or missing out on opportunities. Luckily, there are plenty of tricks that can help prevent your inbox from becoming untamable. Here are three of them:

  1. Set up folders
    Setting up folders, tags or labels in your inbox allows your email client to sort out emails automatically. You can commonly set filters according to email address, so emails from your Aunt Hilda will go into their own folder and won’t clutter your inbox.This makes it easier to decide which emails need to be addressed immediately and which ones can be put off. Fortunately, most email clients and services make creating folders, labels or tags easy to do.
  2. Enable conversation view
    Enabling conversation (or “threaded”) view in your email client reduces the number of visible emails in your inbox. Emails that are related to one conversation will all be found under one “email” instead of taking up several spots in your inbox.With conversation view, whenever you deal with one email in a conversation, you are taking care of them all – an easy solution to a cluttered inbox.
  3. If it will take less than 5 minutes to address, deal with it right away 
    Any time an email will take five minutes or less to address, it’s counterproductive to put it off. If it must be done, it will have to either be done now or later, so why not do it now? As you continue this habit, these simple emails will start taking even less time and it will become like second nature to address emails as they arrive.

These tips are only three of many that can help simplify your email inbox. They’re easy ways to manage your email and help make it less stressful, so why not try them out?

For additional tips on email management check out this article from Business Insider.

Are wired mice better than their wired counterparts?

Whether you’re a wireless mouse user or you’ve stayed with the wired version, you probably know that there are benefits of both. The debate between the two options has been happening for years. While it probably won’t be resolved anytime soon, these facts might help you better determine which one is right for you.

Just like wireless mice, wired mice have plenty of positives as well as negatives. These are a couple of the major benefits:

  • Longer life expectancy
  • Quicker response time
  • More cost efficient
  • Better accuracy – a big pro for gamers
  • No chance of inadvertently gaining control of someone else’s machine

Some of the primary drawbacks to wired mice include less freedom to roam and just a lack of convenience.

The argument for wireless mice is quite strong. They may require you to purchase batteries from time to time, but they also offer a great deal of convenience that just can’t be found with a wired mouse. These are some of the key benefits: 

  • Greater freedom – another favorite feature among gamers, who often control their TVs from the couch
  • Improvements in response time and accuracy
  • Fewer cords
  • Smoother movement due to the lack of a cord

There are a number of negative aspects of wireless mice, which is why many people still haven’t converted. One concern is the occasional bad signal, which can be really aggravating when you need to work quickly. A dead battery can also be detrimental if it comes at the wrong time.

Overall, there are advantages and disadvantages to both options, and the general answer is: it’s all about preference. If you need to make sure that your mouse is reliable and accurate at all times, then you are probably better off with wired. If you don’t care as much about accuracy and enjoy a little more freedom, wireless might be right for you. Either way, you will probably be satisfied with your choice.

For more information on the debate between wireless and wired mice, check out this website.

Check out the modified commenting feature in Google Docs

Many of us are familiar with Google Docs as a tool for quick and easy document creation. What many people don’t know is how great of a collaboration tool it can be, especially due to its recent updates.

The commenting feature in Google Docs saw some significant changes this week. Some of the most substantial updates include: 

  • Timestamps and profile pictures on comments
  • The ability to edit and resolve comments
  • Implementation of email notifications via @mentions

Email notifications are one of the coolest features that have been added as they allow you to bring people into the discussion that weren’t already.

The notifications always include the comment associated with it so the recipient doesn’t necessarily need access to Google Docs in order to contribute. They can simply reply to the email with their comments, and it will show up in the conversation thread as if they were logged in.

Email notifications aren’t the only new feature that works well for collaborative teams – the ability to resolve comments is very beneficial. Being able to go back and look at comments is vital in order to make sure everything has been done. This feature allows you to mark a task as resolved once it has been completed, instead of simply deleting it.

Collaboration tools like Google Docs make it much simpler to be a part of a distributed team. Features like email alerts let your team members know immediately when you need their help. Staying in sync is not as tough with tools like these.

Passing a document back and forth via email can be quite messy. If multiple people are editing at once, keeping track of all of those edits and ensuring that they show up on the final version gets difficult. With these tools, since everybody’s version of the document is identical there is far less confusion around changes. For distributed teams, and remote workers, tools like this are quite valuable.

For more insight into the recent changes to Google Docs check out this article.

A few of the best ideas to come out of SXSW so far

Every year the South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) takes over Austin with its many festivals and presentations. It connects some of the greatest thinkers from music, movies, and new media. Creativity and innovation are the themes of the conference, and their presence this year has been apparent.

SXSW Interactive is one of the biggest conferences at SXSW that encompasses all of the new media, and it has already unearthed some great ideas. Although the SXSW Technology Summit, which is full of great ideas and presentations on technology and business, has just begun, some standout startups have already emerged.

Every year, SXSW includes a “Startup Bus” competition. The Startup Bus takes off from 5 cities: Chicago, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Cleveland. These buses are bound for Austin, and take two days to get there. Within those 48 hours, teams are formed and they are tasked with coming up with a startup idea and then creating a website and prototype. They then present their idea to a panel of judges when they reach Austin.

48 hours hardly seems long enough to come up with a business idea and actually create a demo for it but, for these people, it’s plenty of time. Great ideas are practically always born on the buses, and this year was no different. These are the two winners of this year’s competition.

The medical tourism industry is difficult to navigate, and TripMedi is hoping to solve that issue. Medical tourism is when somebody travels to a developing country for a medical procedure in order to save money.

According to the TripMedi team, there is no clear way to navigate this market, making it an even more unnerving experience for medical tourists. So the team chose to create a Yelp-like service for the industry.

People can now go to one place to find a list of locations, doctors, and procedures and pricing available, making the process far less daunting. With 1,300 unique visitors and 44 sign-ups in just four days, TripMedi is sure to do well.

WalkIN looked to solve a challenge that everyone can relate to – waiting for a table at a restaurant. We all know how aggravating it is to cram into a restaurant lobby waiting for your name to be called.

WalkIN eliminates the cramming, but not the waiting. With WalkIN, you can come into the restaurant and scan a QR code, which will automatically put your name on the waitlist. You are then free to wander until you are alerted via your phone that your table is ready.

People no longer have to carry around big, clunky restaurant pagers that vibrate incessantly until you make it back to the host stand.

As these startups demonstrate, SXSW is a melting pot of progressive thinkers and always produces stellar ideas. There are bound to be more exciting ideas emerging from SXSW, so stay tuned.

If you’d like to learn more about SXSW, check out their website.

Where do search engine results come from?

For the majority of us, online search engines are the first place we turn when we’re looking for information. We trust them to provide us with the most relevant results, but those results are not always consistent.

The reason for that inconsistency has a lot to do with the constant evolution of search algorithms. Google and Bing have both been making big updates to their algorithms that affect the search results you get. What are those updates?

Google’s search algorithm has undergone a great deal of changes in recent weeks. The biggest and most recent change to the algorithm is the suppression of results from what Google refers to as content farms.

Content farms are companies that employ a large number of writers whose job is to produce lots of content that is designed to satisfy search algorithms without much actual or factual content. The main goal of these companies is to generate ad revenue by gaining more page views.

Google hopes the change in its algorithm will yield more quality results that will be more relevant and helpful to searchers. Google is also utilizing Twitter posts to come up with relevant, real-time results.

Bing calls itself a “decision engine,” meaning instead of searching for results that could be relevant, it claims to know what you’re searching for and finds it.

One of the big steps Bing has taken was to integrate social media results. Bing highlights items that your friends have shared or “liked” over Facebook. Doing this gives users the opportunity to find what’s most relevant to them as well as their friends.

Using two different search engines can yield different results. All results should be somewhat relevant, the specific results just depend on what the search engine’s algorithm accounts for.

To learn more about the recent changes to Google, check out this New York Times article.

Flash storage – what precisely is it?

Flash storage is something that is prevalent in many of our daily lives, whether we are aware of it or not. Plenty of the gadgets we use on a daily basis, such as smartphones, and laptops, have flash storage built in.

What exactly is flash storage?
Flash storage is ideal for storing data and transporting it from one computer to another. Flash memory is a solid state storage device, meaning it is electronic, not mechanical like a data CD.

Other features that are common for flash storage are:

  • A non-volatile storage chip, meaning it doesn’t need a constant flow of power to maintain the information stored in the chip
  • There are no moving parts
  • Allows for easy electronic storage
  • Data can be easily erased and the device can be reprogrammed
  • Allows for quick access to data
  • Extreme durability, especially when coming in the form of a memory card

All of these features make flash storage a popular choice, especially for portable devices, such as cell phones. Many people use their smartphones or iPods as external hard drives by hooking them up to their computers and transferring data to them. This makes for extremely easy access, as these are devices that many people carry with them at all times.

If you’d like more information on how flash memory works, check out this HowStuffWorks article.

The greatest innovations being showcased at TED 2011

The TED Conference, taking place this week, brings together people from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design. TED lets people from these three fields showcase their knowledge and ideas, and gives them only 18 minutes to do so.

This year’s TED Conference showcased several innovative and potentially life-changing ideas. These companies exhibited two of the biggest game-changers.

Ford Motor Company
Population growth is an issue that Ford is beginning to prepare for. Based on predictions, the number of cars on the road will go from 800 million to 2-3 billion in the next 40 years. Ford believes it has a plan to deal with the issue.

Ford sees a future filled with cars that can communicate with each other in real-time.  SYNC, from Ford, is the first version of this technology. It performs many functions, such as 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Reports and is onboard about 3 million vehicles.

Ford sees the future iterations being even more robust, with cars being able to re-route you based on real-time traffic information being transmitted from other cars.

Bluefin Labs
Bluefin Labs co-founder Deb Roy’s presentation was centered on the round-the-clock surveillance of his house during his son’s first 90,000 hours. The company created machine-learning systems that traced and analyzed his son’s learning process.

Roy hopes that this technology can be expanded to analyze even more things. Currently, the technology is being used to analyze the intersection between TV audiences and their online reactions to programming and advertisements.

This system could be a great way for businesses to better understand their audiences’ impressions of them.

These are just two of they many profound ideas and products that have been presented thus far at this year’s TED Conference. If you’d like to take a look at some other cool ideas, check out this Inc. article.

These are the major trends emerging from the DEMO Spring conference

The DEMO Spring conference is the “launchpad for emerging technology” and it is full of excellent ideas. Social media is the primary theme of this week’s show, with three sessions entitled “Demofocus on social on media technologies.” These are some of the best ideas, social or otherwise that have emerged thus far:

Websense’s Defensio for Facebook
Defensio for Facebook is an application that allows businesses using the social network to better protect their Pages. Pages full of spam comments and posts turn off potential customers. Defensio eliminates that clutter by preventing unwanted content from being posted.

This application lets you set preferences so that you can moderate posts on your Page. You can also prevent your Page from showing links to certain sites.

Nimble is a “social relationship manager” that enables you to connect all of your contacts, calendars and communications from multiple social networking sites. You can integrate your email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts with Nimble so you can view all of your communications in one place.

Nimble hopes to make it easier for companies to maintain a dialogue and improve interactions with their customers. Once it is integrated with more social networks, it will become even more useful.

mSignia’s Dynamic Device Identity
mSignia works on Android devices to make access to cloud services easier. It secures your smartphone while eliminating the need to enter passwords on every site.

If you stop using that device, there’s no need to worry. mSignia eliminates all of the credentials associated with your accounts so that your information can no longer be accessed from that device.

These products, along with many others being presented at the DEMO Spring 2011 event, make conducting business simpler and more seamless.