Posts tagged with "computer"

dorm room illustration for use by 360 magazine

Ranking Benefits of Using a Foot Rest

Sitting daily at the office might cause discomfort, particularly to people sitting for several hours since many office desks and tables are somewhat raised. Unluckily, this has left several individuals hanging their legs from the chair with no support. Besides, when you purchase an ergonomic chair, you’re more likely to focus on your neck, shoulders, and back support. If your feet and legs don’t get enough support, this can negatively affect blood flow and cause long-term health issues. You may purchase exercise balls instead of kneeling chairs, desk chairs, standing desks, and more. However, some of these products can be too costly and might not offer adequate comfort. You’re advised to consider a footrest. Even if you’re utilizing the most recent standing desk, a footrest like Everlasting Comfort Office Foot Rest for Under Desk – Ergonomic Memory Foam Foot Stool Pillow for Work, Gaming, Computer, Office Cubicle and Home – Footrest Leg Cushion Accessories (Black) can still offer a much-required break for your feet and legs. If you’re asking how a footrest can help, check this page for the fantastic benefits of using a footrest.

More comfort

Shorter individuals find their legs slinging on chairs, causing a lot of discomfort to their tailbone and hips, resulting in fatigue and pain. Constant weariness and pain could lead to inferior quality of life because they injure your neck, backbone, and other body joints. Great stores, for example, Everlasting Comfort, offer quality footrests that help you feel comfier when sitting for several hours since they assist in redistributing the compressive force, shielding your body from wear and tear. Besides, this will also give you much comfort, thus allowing you to like your day at work.

Better blood flow

Ergonomic posture is vital in you being comfortable and productive. It also directly impacts your health. Whether seated or standing, a good posture aligns the body so it can function optimally. Footrests boost blood flow when attuned to angle the foot naturally. Research has shown that the angle of the footrests t is directly associated with swelling in the ankles and legs. When too steep or flat, less oxygenated blood travels to the toes. Additionally, dynamic footrests encourage movement all through the day, greatly enhancing blood circulation. All you need is to get a footrest you can adjust to find your ideal angle.

Removes strain on your legs

Any person who sits at a desk all day realizes this takes a toll. Ideally, you must often get up and walk around. Unluckily, that is not always possible. After some time, even the most comfortable desk seats might start to dig into the flipside of your thighs. Besides, if you are mandated to resort to using tiptoes to support your legs, meaning your hips and thighs are not level. This can strain your hips. However, quality footrests like Everlasting Comfort take pressure off your lower legs and feet.

Conclusion

An ergonomically designed office places your body optimally. Good cushions such as Everlasting Comfort Office Foot Rest for Under Desk – Ergonomic Memory Foam Foot Stool Pillow for Work, Gaming, Computer, Office Cubicle and Home – Footrest Leg Cushion Accessories (Black) can give a substantial boost of support and comfort, allowing you sit for long without experiencing any discomfort.

Bedroom illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Why Do I Feel Tired Throughout the Day?

Why Do I Feel Tired Throughout the Day?

Do you often feel like you are overly tired throughout the day? There could be several reasons for this, and you need to make sure that you address them so you can get the rest that you need. While it is natural to get a little tired towards the end of the day, it is not natural to feel tired throughout the entire day. Here are some of the reasons why you might feel a little too tired throughout the day.

Lack of Sleep

The most obvious reason as to why you might feel a little too tired throughout the day is that you had a bad night’s sleep the night before. Fatigue and sleep deprivation can hit us harder than we might imagine. You might think that you have managed to get enough sleep, but the reality is that you are not getting a good quality of rest, and this will contribute to your overall exhaustion.

We need to get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. The recommendation of 8 hours is a good starting point but some people need a little more, others a little less. It is better to work out how much you need and go from there.

You should also look at the quality of your sleep. If you feel like you toss and turn all night, or that you can lie for hours awake in the dark, you are going to feel the effects later. Taking steps to improve your sleep, possibly with the help of a sleep science app or some changes to your evening routine, could make all the difference in how tired you feel throughout the day. Get a better night’s sleep overall, and you should wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the new day.

Not Enough Food

We need food to power our days. If you feel like you are overly tired, it might be because you are not consuming enough calories to keep moving forward. After all, a calorie is a unit of energy. You need to make sure that you are eating enough to have the energy to do whatever your day needs from you.

Different people will require different amounts of food. As a rule, men usually need to eat more calories than women to feel full and able to take on their goals. However, there are some who might need a little more still. If you have a particularly physical job, such as if you are in the emergency services or an athlete of some sort, you will often find that you need to eat more so you have the energy to be able to complete the tasks that you might have to undertake each day. Starting the day with a good breakfast and then continuing with other meals and snacks should provide you with the energy that you need to get through your day.

The Right Quality of Food

Eating enough food is only half the equation here – you also need to make sure that you are eating the right quality of food too. There are certain foods that will be better for you nutritionally, and will help to deliver energy to your body in just the right way.

Let’s go back to the idea of a good breakfast to start your day with. You need to pick something that is packed with energy that will release slowly throughout the morning, especially if you know that you are not going to be able to eat again until much later in the day. For this reason, oats are a great option. You could have a good bowl of porridge, or you could try making overnight oats. Both are fantastic options that will break your fast and should provide you with energy throughout the day.

Try to avoid junk food and anything with too much sugar. Sugary foods are good in a pinch if you need something that is going to pick you up and get you through the next little bit. However, too much sugar could cause a crash a little while later and could leave you feeling worse than before. Try to stick to food that is of a good nutritional value – it will be much better for you throughout the day.

Too Much Time with Screens

You might spend all of your time at work glued to a computer monitor, only to browse social media for your entire commute home, then to sit down in front of the TV all evening. This will result in too much time on your screens, and could lead to eye strain and other issues.

If your eyes are a little bit strained, you could very well feel like you are tired because of it. It might be a good idea to invest in some eyedrops and practice a few little exercises to help your eyes refocus and calm a little if you can’t step back from the screens.

You should also try to cut down on your screen usage as much as you can. If you stare at your phone during a commute on public transport, consider swapping this out for a podcast or audiobook. You won’t be severing your connection to your phone entirely, but you won’t be looking at the screen. These patterns can also be extended at home. Instead of watching your favorite TV show all evening, think about reading a book or trying some other activity that does not involve a screen.

An Underlying Medical Issue

Of course, it is worth mentioning that you might have a yet undiagnosed medical condition that could be causing your fatigue. While there are many different ones, one of the most common is anaemia, usually caused by a lack of iron.

If you feel like you have tried some of the points above and still feel like you are overly tired and fatigued throughout the day, you should think about speaking to your doctor. They might be able to give you a blood test to find out if you do have some sort of underlying medical condition that could be affecting your energy levels. Even if you are sleeping poorly, they might be able to refer you on to a sleep clinic or some other trial where you could get the help you need.

Take Steps to Improve Your Days Now

While it is normal to wake up feeling a little groggy and disorientated, it is not normal for that feeling to continue throughout the day. You need to make sure that you address any issue that might stopping you from enjoying your days to the fullest. Make sure that you get the rest you need so you can push forward and take on whatever your day has in store for you to the best of your abilities.

It could be a really simple fix, like the need for a higher quality of food, or it could be something that needs a little more work on your part. However, you should take the time to address any concerns you might have. Before you know it, you could be getting out of bed fully energized and ready to take on the day!

By Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE

IDTechEx Shares Unexpected Trends in Electric Vehicle Data

Unexpected Trends from IDTechEx’s EV Data & Tools Portfolio

2021 is cementing the electric car’s dominant position in the future of the auto industry as OEMs have increased electrification targets, announced more battery-electric models, and planned new technology adoption strategies. To properly understand these trends, granular, high-quality data is essential. IDTechEx’s portfolio of electric cars and powertrain materials research is driven by data, and includes two new spreadsheet-based products: Electric Car Sales, Models & Technologies Database and Scenario Forecasting: Materials for Battery Cells and Packs. Both underpin two IDTechEx research reports Advanced Electric Cars 2020-2040 and Materials for Electric Vehicle Battery Cells and Packs 2021-2031, and form part of a wider portfolio which can be found at IDTechEx’s website.

IDTechEx’s New Electric Vehicle Model Database

IDTechEx’s extensive Electric Car Sales, Models & Technologies Database is spreadsheet-based and covers unit sales for popular BEV and PHEV cars in China, Europe, and the US between 2015–2020 (containing data on 145 distinct models plus variants). Alongside sales data, IDTechEx also reveals battery capacity, cell format, battery supplier, cell chemistry, cell and pack energy density, thermal management method, motor technology and power output. The granular nature of the data, split by model, enables technology trends to be analyzed in detail in addition to an industry-level overview.

Considering battery chemistry, it is well known that manufacturers have been trending towards higher nickel content cathodes such as the 811 variant of nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC). Perhaps less expected is the significant resurgence in lithium-iron-phosphate, or ‘LFP’, batteries. The lower energy density of LFP batteries saw them fall out of favor with Chinese policymakers and rapidly lose market share up to 2019, but in the past year, BYD announced the Blade with LFP prismatic cells and Tesla introduced the Chinese manufactured Model 3 with LFP. The trade-off comes down to price, raw materials, safety, and supply-chain dynamics with regional specificities.

Moreover, the Electric Car Sales, Models & Technologies Database also looks at electric traction motor trends. Many have voiced concerns around the supply of rare earths for the magnetic materials used in most electric car traction motors. However, China controls the majority of the world’s rare earth supply chain, creating risk and potential price volatility. The database reveals the quiet adoption of non-permanent magnet-based variants – induction motors and separately excited wound-rotor motors – which are still being introduced in new models and may become essential technologies if permanent magnet prices spike.

This database underpins IDTechEx’s research on Advanced Electric Cars, which is further summarized in a report covering regional detail, powertrain technologies, and autonomous vehicles.

Example charts obtainable through the IDTechEx Electric Car Sales, Models & Technologies Database

Materials for Electric Car Battery Cells & Packs

Lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles present very different material demands at the cell- and pack-level compared with the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles they replace. Whilst ICE drivetrains heavily rely on aluminum and steel alloys, Li-ion batteries also utilize many other materials such as nickel, cobalt, lithium, copper, insulation, thermal interface materials, and much more at a cell- and pack level. The IDTechEx report on Materials for Electric Vehicle Battery Cells and Packs 2021-2031 identifies and analyzes trends in the design of EV battery cells and battery packs in order to evaluate the materials used for their assembly and production. The report also provides granular market forecasts for over 20 key material categories in terms of demand in tonnes in addition to market value.

To complement this research, IDTechEx’s new Scenario Forecasting Spreadsheet: Materials for Electric Vehicle Battery Cells and Packs provides quantitative forecasts and assumptions in greater depth, and allows EV forecasts to be customized based on different scenarios. This is a spreadsheet-based tool that lists IDTechEx’s assumptions for several material intensities at a cell- and pack-level for BEV and PHEV batteries in the car market. It also provides a forecast for the multi-metal and other materials demand in tonnes from 2021-2031. In addition to these forecasts, this tool allows you to use your own forecasts for BEV and PHEV unit sales and battery capacities to see how these variables impact demand over the next 10 years. A scenarios tool is also included which allows for several sales forecasts to be compared simultaneously for individual materials.

Examples for the material demand for battery cells and packs segmented by material. Source: Scenario Forecasting Spreadsheet: Materials for Electric Vehicle Battery Cells and Packs

IDTechEx Electric Vehicle Research

For more information on the portfolio of data available on this topic, please visit their website. This research forms part of the broader electric vehicle and energy storage portfolio from IDTechEx, who track the adoption of electric vehicles, battery trends, and demand across land, sea and air, helping you navigate whatever may be ahead. Find out more at their website

About IDTechEx

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its Research, Subscription and Consultancy products, helping you profit from emerging technologies. For more information, visit IDTechEx’s website.

statistics illustration via Maria Soloman for use by 360 Magazine

Micro:bit and Raspberry Pi: What’s the Difference?

Back in 2016, the BBC delivered its first mini-computer to one million school children in the UK. Originally unveiled in the summer of 2015, the plan was for the computer to “…change the way children think about their ability to make things happen digitally,” according to then BBC director-general, Tony Hall. 

At the time of the BBC micro:bit’s launch, schools across the country had already been using Raspberry Pi in the classroom for a few years. The Pi was first launched in the UK in 2012 and in the nine years that have passed, this single-board computer has become part of a market that’s grown rapidly, with an estimated worth of $3.8 billion by 2027.

So, what’s the difference between the two? Read on to find out how they compare and what they offer. 

The BBC micro:bit – computers for curious kids

The BBC micro:bit was developed to help children master basic coding and give them the opportunity to gain an interest in programming early in their education. It is known for being basic – but that’s the point. Its purpose is to offer a user-friendly approach to coding for young people. 

This palm-sized mini-computer has a 25-LED matrix screen, two buttons, compass, accelerometer and Bluetooth. It also has 3 PINs so that it can be connected to external inputs and outputs like thermometers, lights, and buzzers. Last autumn, it received an upgrade, with new models featuring a speaker, microphone, and AI capability.

Crucially, it’s a microcontroller. This means that it has no interface that’s accessed by hooking it up to a monitor. Instead, you write a program on it computer and the code is uploaded to the board. 

The Raspberry Pi – computers for everyone

The Pi is a very different device to the micro:bit. This is a credit card-sized single-board microcomputer. Unlike the micro:bit, which is a microcontroller, the Pi has an interface that can be accessed by plugging it into a monitor. While the Raspberry Pi Foundation launched its first microcontroller – the Pi Pico – earlier this year, it’s still known for developing microcomputers. This is significantly different to the micro:bit. 

Another major difference is that the Pi is more advanced. It offers access to a range of applications that suit children and adults alike, with Scratch being a popular option among schoolchildren. 

However, the Pi can be used as a desktop, too. The latest model, the Pi 4, comes is fast enough to operate as a desktop replacement that works well for internet browsing, writing notes, and other basic functions. 

What’s the difference? 

BBC micro:bit was never meant to rival the Pi. In fact, it was designed as a steppingstone for children to learn the building blocks of coding before moving on to the more advanced Pi. 

It’s worth keeping this in mind if you’re trying to decide between the two. If you’re starting out in the world of coding and programming, the micro:bit has what you need. But if you’re planning a bigger project and have already laid the coding groundwork, the Raspberry Pi could be ideal. 

DIY illustration

DIY

By Vaughn Lowery × Armon Hayes × Emmet McGeown

“Environment is your incubator to flourish; nurture growth and manifest success.” – 360 Magazine

The design story of interior designer Justin Lowery proves that the environment you’re in is as important as the company you keep. His latest renovation of a Bronx live workspace demonstrates both balance and practicality. According to Lowery, these are necessary components to any multi-functional space that exists to entertain and foster productivity. As working from home becomes more commonplace, many are motivated to effectively utilize the space of their residence. Yet doing so, especially when dealing with limited room sizes and budgets, can be challenging. Thus, many are turning to interior designers or technicians, usually found on AngelList, to inject an aura of panache and pragmatism into their homes.

You ought to begin with a purge; creating a clean slate and space enabling you to establish a clear direction and plan for your environment’s layout and purpose. This spatial cleanse is, perhaps, the most difficult part. But, it is necessary to confront your inner hoarder and to permit the creation of a new space. We all hold on to things that we no longer need which results in clutter that can weigh heavily on the energetic composition of a room.

Following this, liven your environment by making subtle yet effective changes such as swapping out dresser hardware for $5 champagne brass handles for a soft and polished finish. Continue this innovative spirit by purchasing some elegant glass bowls, plates, and wine glasses from Amazon as well as new silverware and a glossy copper pot set.

Accent pillows can be the finishing touch that tie the look of a room together. They offer comfort while incorporating different hues or a fun pattern. Throw pillows like Pillow Pops by Shani Moran serve as an easy way to change the style of your space without breaking the bank. The Pillow Pops come in a variety of designs, shades and textures, so there are options to fit anyone’s taste. These pillows are also versatile, with a hidden zip enclosure to change the pillow cover based on the occasion or season. 

When attempting to promote the entertainment aspects of a space, consider the Roku soundbar. It’s dynamic bass and crisp audio allows sound to permeate through a room. This exceptional reverberation is accentuated by the cinematic presence of a Roku 50” Westinghouse TV whose built-in voice assistant allows for an obedient and malleable audio environment. When eager to intensify the sound quality, you ought to contemplate the Altice Amplify speaker by Optimum whose curved and sleek characteristics offer a 360° immersive experience. The addition of a Roku Express streaming player attached to a versatile BENQ 32” monitor will create a smooth and versatile mood available for both entertainment and work. 

Another great addition is the Ninja Air Fryer. Getting another appliance may seem unnecessary; however, the Ninja Air Fryer is a must to make meals easier. Whether you’re air frying, air roasting, reheating or dehydrating the Ninja has got you covered.

Additionally, consider practical changes like a new coat of paint or a fresh pop of color on focal areas within your space. Benjamin Moore offers a plethora of ways to refresh things and create the illusion of larger space, making your home office inviting and open. In order to add an exciting new dimension to the room, use contrasting colors. “Black excellence” is a contrasting option to consider if protecting the natural molding details are a concern such as the outline of doors and base boards. If you have pets and young children, then this option is a no brainer.

Adding a tasteful artistic piece or a floral arrangement freshens the décor and will positively impact any space. Consider updating light fixtures and window treatments to bring your full vision to life. If your budget permits, then adding texture with a tile backsplash to your kitchen might facilitate a lighter atmosphere. Repositioning is one of the cheapest manner to renovate your space; finding new areas to move existing furniture will allow new perspectives to manifest. Make this renovation process fun – it’s a great time for bonding with friends, family, or maybe an expert. 

DIY, 360 Magazine, Pillow PopsDIY, 360 Magazine
360 MAGAZINE, BUSINESS, ILLUSTRATIONS ,rita azar

How to Increase Productivity Quickly and Efficiently 

So much to do, so little time. It is a common feeling amongst many, leaving us feeling like we never get round to completing the tasks that we need to. Being more productive doesn’t just happen overnight; it does require making some adjustments to how you manage your time. Maximizing productivity isn’t simply putting all your time into the tasks at hand, but managing the way you go about handling them. 

Remove Distractions from the Situation

Distractions could be anything from your smartphone, the TV, or anything around you that is taking away your full ability to focus. Switch everything off so you can think clearly about what it is you need to put all your attention on, decreasing chances of your mind wandering to other things. 

Don’t Multitask too Much

Multitasking often causes more stress than is realized and makes tasks take longer, and sometimes can affect how well assignments are completed, making your workload even bigger than when you started. It is much more productive to keep your full attention on one responsibility at a time, rather than trying to do multiple things at once. If you really struggle with managing your time, you can get support with the use of lots of different time management tools. Setting an alarm on an alarm clock is also a simple way to keep track of your time. 

Plan Your Day

There is no need for long lists of what you need to get done. Determining the most important things you would like to achieve by pinpointing 2 to 4 main objectives that are important is a straightforward way to make a to-do list. To-do lists are a productive way to help you stay organized and keep track of things you need to complete and have completed. Preparing this the night beforehand is the best time to do it, as it will eliminate any stress of sorting it out in the morning. 

Tidy Your Work Environment 

Whether it is where you do most of your work in your home or in your work environment like an office, keeping your workspace tidy and organized is scientifically proven to help your brain focus and feel less irritated. Removing clutter from the space you are working in or living in will benefit your mental health and increase the ability to be more productive. Although knowing where to start can be difficult, there are many simple ways of how you can declutter your environment quickly and efficiently. 

Complete Similar Tasks Together

Save time by bundling similar tasks together. Things you need to do like writing emails, making phone calls or similar forms of housework should all be put into one bundle to complete one after another. 

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

If you do not get enough sleep, your productivity levels are more likely to drop. Lack of sleep causes less energy, affects your ability to focus, and makes it more difficult to be creative and solve problems. Getting sufficient sleep isn’t easy for everyone, with many common problems causing sleep deprivation. Just a few of these problems could be sleep disorders like insomnia, stress, or discomfort. To improve your sleeping habits, you could consider investing in a better mattress for your body, as this is often the reason that can cause insufficient amounts of sleep. There are several good options to choose from when purchasing a mattress that suits you to enable a better night’s sleep. 

When it comes to increasing your productivity in an efficient way, take time to think about the steps you will take and what will suit you best. Don’t worry about rushing everything and feeling stressed about managing everything all in one day. 

NYC, Vaughn Lowery, 360 MAGAZINE

5 Questions You Should Ask When Hiring a Web Development Team

Pretty much anyone can call themselves a web developer nowadays, and it is important that you do your due diligence before working with anyone. Make the wrong choice, and you could end up with tons of hidden costs, unfinished work, or in the worst case, never hearing from them again. 

However, by asking the right questions and doing your research, you should be able to find a great team that will be able to understand your vision and execute it. Here are some questions you should ask when hiring a web development team.

Have You Ever Worked on Projects Similar to Mine?

All websites have very different needs and have to be approached differently. For instance, building an e-commerce store and a portfolio site will be very different. If you need some of your employees to be able to access log in functions, for instance, or need an extensive database to be installed, not all web developers will have this kind of expertise. You may need some illustrations, graphics, or logo designs for a one-time project, in which case your best bet may be to hire a freelance graphic designer.

This is why it is very important that you know your objectives for your website, and make sure that they can show you work similar to it. Don’t take their word for it. Some will say yes to everything, only to take twice as much time once they realise how much research they have to do.

How Long Will the Project Take from Beginning to End?

This is also something that needs to be clear from the get-go. If you have a deadline for this project, then you want someone who’ll be able to get the job done within that time period. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should go for rushed work. Some people might take a little bit longer, either because of conflicting schedules or previous engagements. Make sure that you look around to check the average completion time, and go for someone who can deliver the best work as fast as possible.

What Kind of Services do You Offer?

Different development teams will offer different packages, so it’s important that you know what their actual scope of service is, and what you can expect to pay. For instance, some companies will also offer some marketing and SEO services. Some will offer social media management and promotion as well.

That’s why you should make a clear list of the services you want to be included. This way, you’ll be able to eliminate those who can’t provide a crucial service that you absolutely need.

What About Your Employees?

You want to know what type of employees they work with. Do they outsource some of their work? If so, what do they outsource?

While outsourcing is not always an issue, it’s always better to go with a web development company that has their own in house employees. Teams like Appetiser, for instance, personally hand pick their programmers and have them go through a gruelling hiring process to make sure that they’re up to par. As a matter of fact, only 1.7% of the applicants coming from major tech firms are able to make it through their coding challenges.

You want a team that will be self-sufficient so you won’t have to suffer delays. Another thing is if you need some follow up work done, it’s better if the programmer who previously worked on your website performs it. Working with another programmer will require some additional troubleshooting that you may have to pay out of pocket for.

What Technologies Are Your Specialty?

This question allows the developer to talk about what distinguishes them from the competition. If you haven’t decided what technology you’re going to use, still ask what technologies they’re specialised in. If they’ve adapted to new technologies well, they are probably qualified to help you migrate to a new one.

Ask how many developers they have that work with these technologies. You don’t want to hire a software firm that specialises in a specific area, but if that expertise resides with one person who may leave the firm at any time this is also a problem. Ask how much time it may take to scale up the team to handle your project. If you may need to accelerate your schedule, you want to know you won’t have to wait a few weeks for key people to be available.

A related question to ask is their seniority. If their entire expertise in an area is within a group of junior developers, they may not be capable of the quality of work you need. Conversely, a mixed team of junior and senior developers is certain to be able to handle any challenge. 

Conclusion

Hiring a web development team is essential if you want to have a website that will show your business in the best possible light as possible. Make sure that you take your time, shop around, and find a team that can align with your goals and expectations.

Hackers Covet Your Identity; 5 Ways To Thwart Their Efforts

Each day people take a virtual trip through the internet to do their banking, make hotel reservations, shop for a new car, or engage in a myriad of other activities important to them.

It’s so routine that it’s easy to forget that you need to be just as careful about protecting yourself on those virtual journeys as you would on an actual one. “Hackers are creative about dreaming up new ideas for stealing your identity, so it’s important that you stay vigilant even if you already have taken action to guard yourself and your data,” says Chris Hoose, an IT consultant who works with small businesses.

Hoose says a few steps you can take to protect your identity include:

Use a password manager. One problem with passwords is that people often use simple ones that are easy to remember, but also easy to hack. A password manager  provides an encrypted database where you can store unique, long, complex passwords for each of your online accounts, and access them when you need them. “With a password manager, you can have better passwords that are harder to hack, and you don’t have to memorize them,” Hoose says.

Do your online activities with a VPN. Worried that your online browsing will lead identity thieves right back to you? One solution, Hoose says, is a virtual private network (VPN), which lends you a temporary IP address and hides your true IP address from every website or email you connect with. “It also prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location,” he says. “You just need to remember to connect to it when you want to use it.” A VPN usually costs about $40 to $50 a year, he says.

Be wary on social media. Most people check in on social media routinely to catch up on family news, connect with college buddies, or perhaps to share photos of a new puppy. Unfortunately, cyber thieves lurk in the background. “They know that social media platforms are an excellent source for personal information and information about your contacts, which makes identity theft that much easier for them,” Hoose says. To stay safe on social media, he suggests you check to see if you have already been compromised; avoid password reuse; update your security settings regularly; and limit your connections because the more you have, the more potential for a fraudulent or compromised account to send you a malicious link.

Keep tabs on your credit report. One way to make sure no one has taken on debt in your name, and damaged your credit in the process, is to request a full credit report from any of the three major agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. You can get a free copy from any of them through the site. Also, it might be time to get off the mailing list for all those credit offers you receive that say you are pre-approved. “Those offers are a gold mine for identity thieves,” Hoose says. You can opt out of pre-approved credit offers by visiting.

Be sure to install anti-virus/malware software. Your first and best line of defense against identity theft on your computer remains anti-virus software and anti-malware software, Hoose says. When choosing one, he suggests making use of the trial period most companies offer. “That way you can try them out and decide which one works best for you,” he says.

“The more people try to foil identity thieves, the more sophisticated those thieves seem to get in their methods,” Hoose says. “But by being watchful and attentive, you can stay safe and enjoy your time online.”

About Chris Hoose

Chris Hoose  s the president of Choose Networks, an IT consulting firm for small businesses. Hoose started the company in 2001 to give large-scale solutions and support to businesses that can’t afford their own in-house IT department. He earned a Master of Information Systems Management from Friends University.

5 Tech Trends For Businesses

5 Tech Trends That Businesses Can’t Afford To Ignore

With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, some business owners are left digitally disoriented as they try to figure out which of the latest innovations they need to invest in and what they can ignore.

It can make for confusing times.

All that bewilderment aside, though, these fast-developing advances also create opportunities that can help small and medium-sized businesses become more competitive – if they understand how to seize them.

“Technology exists today that at one time was available only to large corporations with huge technology budgets,” says Chris Hoose (www.choosenetworks.com), an IT consultant who works with small businesses.

“Every year, technology becomes even more accessible to companies of all sizes.”

Hoose says businesses that want to stay on top of their games should make sure they invest in these technological trends, if they haven’t already:

The Internet of Things. Many Internet of Things-connected devices, such as smart refrigerators and thermostats, are designed for home use, but there are also applications for small businesses, Hoose says. Some examples: smart locks use digital keys that can’t be lost or stolen, and log a record of who uses a door and when; RFID tags on merchandise can prevent theft and automatically update inventory; and mobile-card readers can replace cash registers.

Artificial intelligence. Don’t be fooled into thinking that AI is something only the big organizations can afford to use, Hoose says. “It’s making inroads into technologies accessible for businesses of all sizes,” he says. “AI can help you offer increasingly personalized experiences to customers by maximizing your time and automating manual tasks, like data entry.” AI also can be used to improve decision making, Hoose says. Essentially, AI will help you take that jumble of data most businesses have and analyze it in a way that allows you to make better-informed judgments on the actions you need to take.

Telecommuting. The office world is changing and more workers spend at least a portion of their work week telecommuting. “In many cases remote employees use their own equipment, which can eliminate some of the company’s costs with purchasing and maintaining computers, printers and mobile phones,” Hoose says. Video conferencing, instant messaging and other advances are helping to make telecommuting a viable option, he says.

Customer-relationship-management (CRM) software. Any application that a business uses to interact with customers, analyze data, or recommend products and services to customers is “part of the CRM family,” Hoose says. “This type of software helps your team manage, control and build customer relationships,” he says. “It can log your team’s touchpoints with prospects, including emails, phone calls, voicemails and in-person meetings. You can have a complete record of your team’s interaction with a prospect that’s easy for anyone to access.”

Voice search. Consumers increasingly are making use of such AI assistants as Siri or Alexa to help them do internet searches using their voices. “Voice search is changing the way people find information because these queries are structured differently than when we type terms into a search engine,” Hoose says.

“Organizations of all types can benefit from optimizing their content to improve where they fall in a voice search.”

“To help propel your business going forward, it’s important to stay abreast of technology innovation,” Hoose says. “These technologies will help you expand your customer base, create more efficient in-house processes, and increase engagement from both customers and staff.”

About Chris Hoose

Chris Hoose (www.choosenetworks.com) is the president of Choose Networks, an IT consulting firm for small businesses. Hoose started the company in 2001 to give large-scale solutions and support to businesses that can’t afford their own in-house IT department. He earned a Master of Information Systems Management from Friends University.

T.I. Launches Tech Cypha

This February, Hip-Hop Entrepreneurs are making black history by advancing the technology industry. Clifford Harris Jr, known as “T.I.,” launches a new syndicated investment vehicle called Tech Cypha with business partner Jason Geter and Brandon “BL” Lewis; son of late great boxing promoter and entrepreneur Butch Lewis. Leveraging technologies such as Airbnb, Lyft and Lime through the eyes of hip-hop culture, the team also launched a Los Angeles-based entertainment startup called Culture Genesis. Together, the new collaborative investment strategy allows high-net-worth individuals to participate in trending tech startup deals.

The strategy evolved when Geter and Harris made their first investment 12 years ago into a company called Streetcred.com, a site that allowed fans to go online and share opinions about street culture. While that first deal didn’t work out, Geter and Harris maintained interest in the technology and startup scene to create opportunities for their networks and promote new businesses.

“We learned a lot,” says Harris. “Now, we know where our demographic is.”

For Geter, that demographic is taking advantage of Atlanta’s surging position as a cultural and technological mecca in the United States. Indeed, Atlanta-area startups raised roughly $1.15 billion in 2018, a record for the region, according to data from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association.

“Being in the city of Atlanta and with Georgia Tech producing so much talent, and coming from us being within the hip-hop culture, which is always influencing and promoting things, we saw an opportunity,” says Geter. “In the past, we were always looking through the glass window and looking at ways we can participate earlier. And that’s by coming together to pool our resources so we can invest more.”

Through informed mentorship programs and partnerships, Tech Cypha will include using influencers in various fields. Currently, the syndicate includes Lil Duval, Killer Mike, Tamika ‘Tiny’ Harris, Tai Green, Korey Roberson, Stephanie Shirley, and BJ Kerr among others. As an industry leader, Lewis is known for his talent in branding, marketing and partnership deals.

“Often times, we drive technology like social media and apps, but we are never apart of the ownership,” Lewis continues, “Tech Cypha is going to be an investment vehicle looking for promising, early and late-stage startups to invest capital in, assist with marketing and give branding directions. It’s our way of bridging the gap between the culture and technology.”