June 26, 2017

Compute Sticks

In the spirit of keeping an eye on new technologies that can revolutionize business, this week’s TechTalkTuesday is about Compute Sticks.

This is a very interesting new technology that has been around for a little less than a year. Basically, it is an entire computer in a device only slightly larger than an USB flash drive. It connects to a TV or monitor via the HDMI plug. It includes WiFi to connect to the network, connectivity to a wireless keyboard and mouse, 2GB of RAM, 32GB drive with an MicroSD card slot for expansion storage on the device and it runs the regular Windows 10 operating system.  There is even an app so you can use your smartphone or tablet as the keyboard and mouse if you want.

This device is not like a computer, it is a computer, and it costs less than $150.

Obviously we probably aren’t going to replace desktop computers with Compute Sticks, but there are niches where this could be very helpful. Think about digital signage either for customers or for your own staff that can access and run any of your system dashboards or powerpoint or other programs. Think about the conference room TV (or projector) that could now become a fully functional PC.  Think about connecting a webcam to the USB port on the Compute Stick and you have a conference room teleconferencing solution. Think about a doctors’ office with a simple monitor in the patient room and the doctor has full access to any of the systems or files on the network. Or a dentists’ office with a monitor above the chair where you can show not only slide shows and videos but digital x-rays, appointment calendars, etc.

If you are interested in learning more about Compute Sticks or other new technologies that might revolutionize your operations, call Onsite Logic. We get excited about finding ways that new technologies can help you achieve and exceed your business goals.

You Need Dual Monitors

dual two monitor screen stocks programming coding web deskOver the past few years the price of computer monitors have continued to drop while their quality has risen. At the same time it has become standard on computer towers and laptop docking stations to include 2 video ports and operating system software has built in capacity to manage multiple monitors. Plugging in a second monitor is as easy as, well, plugging in a second monitor.

There are also a number of University studies that show a productivity increase between 29% and 74% from multiple monitor use. Granted, these studies were funded by monitor and computer manufacturers. However, you will be hard pressed to find anyone using multiple monitors who would switch back to a single monitor.

The key to the productivity boost is in the applications that you commonly use. If there is a main program you use, such as a business dashboard or accounting program (Quickbooks) or key website (stock prices) that you use throughout the day, dedicating a monitor to the application significantly reduces the time and effort of maximizing and minimizing windows.

What program that you use throughout your day would it make sense to dedicate a monitor to? If you need assistance, please call Onsite Logic.

Windows XP End-of-Life

cc468658.end-of-support(en-us,MSDN.10)We have approximately 8 months until the April 8, 2014 end-of-life date for Windows XP.  What does that mean and what should Onsite Logic clients do?

Windows XP based computers will continue to work after 4/8/14.  They don’t become disabled or experience any new issues on that date.  End-of-Life or End-of-Support means that Microsoft will no longer release any patches, updates or hot-fixes for the Windows XP system after that date.

Since most of the patches and updates are issued to close security vulnerabilities, the biggest risk of continuing to operate Windows XP machines on your local network will be security issues.  For some industries, such as financial services and medical services, this may translate into non-compliance.  For others it will simply mean that as time progresses and more security holes are left open (unpatched), your systems and data are more prone to being compromised through viruses and hacking.

Windows XP machines will also have compatibility issues with new software and websites.  Programs such as Microsoft Office 365 and Office 13 will not run on Windows XP after the 4/8/14 date.  This includes Hosted Exchange through Office 365.  Microsoft will also not upgrade the Internet Explorer browser in Windows XP beyond IE8 which means websites using features of the new browsers will either not open or not display properly.

The most important thing Small Business owners should be doing is planning.  Onsite Logic recommends planning for a maximum of a 5 year life-cycle for most of our client’s workstations.  This means that if you have 20 computers, you should be budgeting and planning to replace approximately 4 computers per year.  If you are using Hosted Exchange/Office 365, you’ll need to replace all XP machines within the next 8 months.  If you are not, we would still recommend a plan to replace them as soon as possible and no later than year end 2014.