Welcome to InterconnectNow - Interconnected Technologies' blog about technology and other items of interest to small businesses and individuals.

The topics here will usually deal with productivity-enhancing technologies of interest to small businesses and individuals, but are often of broader interest.  Productivity is the goal of all of this technology that we use. Enabling productivity through refining or adding technology-based capabilities is what we're obsessed with at Interconnected Technologies, and so this blog is dedicated to discussions of all things related to that.

Enjoy!

Entries in Tools (24)

Saturday
Aug112012

And the winner and still champion is . . .

. . . the Droid Razr Maxx! Yesterday I bought a Samsung Galaxy S III (SGS3) phone from Verizon. Few of you will be amazed at that since many of you know that this will be about the 20th phone I’ve tried over the past 2+ years (I’ve lost count).

The SGS3 is really quite something – fast, huge beautiful screen, typical Samsung Android excellence – and against any other phone it would be a strong competitor. However, I’ve gotten spoiled by one big thing and a couple of small things about the Droid Razr Maxx:

  1. Battery life. There isn’t another smartphone that’s even close to the Maxx. I have become accustomed to getting a whole day’s use out of my phone without running for the charger during the day. The SGS3 is good, but in using it today I got the awesome and terrible low battery warning by about 3pm. Before the Maxx I really had no choice – they all run out of juice well before the end of my day.
  2. Universal search. Searching on the Maxx searches Google and also several other things on the phone such as the address book, Google Drive, Music, Facebook, etc. Very handy, and removed from the SGS3, apparently as a result of the Apple suit against Samsung.

Really, the other differences are pretty trivial. Address book sync doesn’t work as well as the Maxx with my car’s Bluetooth system; the SGS3 is slightly more difficult to hold than the Maxx. There are a few other minor areas in which the Maxx wins that I can’t even recall now. On balance, though, Motorola really got things right on the Razr Maxx, especially with the recent operating system update. The SGS3 is a great phone, and so is the Maxx.

With HTC’s recent difficulties, on any other carrier the SGS3 is the clear frontrunner. On Verizon, if you care about battery life as I do, the Maxx still comes out on top!

Saturday
Jul142012

Outlook Connector update

If you are using Windows Live Mail, Hotmail or MSN mail for your email (really, these are all the same thing), and using the very functional (and free) Outlook Connector to sync email, contacts and calendar with Outlook on your PC – good for you! This relatively little-known combination can deliver, for free, almost the same experience with webmail, Outlook and mobile devices that the non-free Microsoft Exchange delivers (and did I mention it’s free?). The overall experience is superior in many ways to the more trendy Gmail.

This add-on, the Outlook Connector, will from time to time demand to be updated. I use the word “demand” advisedly. Unlike most maintenance, the Outlook Connector will stop functioning if not updated.

The message: do the update when asked!

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Saturday
Jun232012

Friends (and I/T consultants) don’t let friends run cleanup/optimization tools!

Why? Because they’re unduly risky and end up costing you money!

Finallyfast.com, PCMatic.com; Registry Mechanic and others; half a dozen “keep your PC’s drivers current” tools. They’re everywhere, and you might think you’re saving money and time by using them, but you’d be wrong. These tools make money for I/T service providers. Now, Interconnected Technologies is in business to make money - but not this way. We want to make money by helping clients implement technologies that improve their productivity, enable new capabilities, and simplify things; not by spending hours repairing the damage done by these types of tools. Sure, we fix things when they break, but self-inflicted wounds are the easiest to avoid – just don’t even think of using one of these things!

It is very simple to get a PC to the point where it’s running optimally. It’s not simple to know how to do that – it takes decades of experience to know how to spend 30 minutes getting a computer running its best. That’s where we start, when working with clients. Once that’s done, we can move on to all the rest of the work we do together – to make sure that these optimally-running computers are then providing the capabilities that can improve people’s business and personal lives.

That’s why we buy these things, remember?

And yes, that’s why Interconnected Technologies is here!

Friday
Jun012012

XFINITY EasySolve: just because you can do a thing . . .

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Comcast is sending out emails announcing a new service called EasySolve. It’s a self-help tool that purports to help resolve multiple types of issues that users may face. While this may be a good and valuable tool, the first question should be: “Is it necessary?” For Interconnected Technologies clients the answer is, for now, “no”.

Just as with the ConstantGuard offering from Comcast, EasySolve may or may not ultimately be a part of what we recommend to clients. For now, though, there is enough concern about stability and function to cause is to advise staying away from both offerings, with one key exception, which we’ll discuss below.

The Comcast home and Business internet service remain rock solid, and we recommend them. It’s just the add-on products of which one must be wary. Not because they’re bad, but because they’re new, relatively untested, and at least for now largely unnecessary. They may prove to be useful, or they may prove to be at best unnecessary, and at worst potentially destructive (like Registry Mechanic, Driver Detective and other well-meaning but overly-invasive programs).

One principle on which we base our service is that we should obtain services from the best specialists in each area, bundling those services only where it makes clear sense. Comcast is an excellent Internet Service Provider, and their phone service is quite good, but as they grow into other areas: product provider, Exchange provider, support provider, backup provider, etc., those other areas must be evaluated individually: are they the best provider of that service?

The one exception? Norton Security Suite, which is at the core of the ConstantGuard offering, is absolutely necessary, which is why our Comcast residential clients use that one piece of the ConstantGuard suite of products.

Navigating all this can be complex and fraught with difficulty, unless you have Interconnected Technologies guiding you through it!

Monday
Apr232012

Address books in Outlook

We get contacted all the time about the topic of addressing email using Outlook.

Outlook, depending on how it’s used, has several different methods of addressing emails:

  1. Typing in an email manually.
  2. Using automatic fill in of previously-entered email addresses from the Nickname File (pre-Outlook 2010) or Suggested Contacts (Outlook 2010).
  3. Using automatic fill in from Contacts.
  4. Using the To... or Cc... buttons.

This article addresses the 4th of these. We’ll address the other three later.

If your contacts are in your Outlook Contacts folder, as they should be, you can use the To... button or Cc... buttons when sending an email to view and select addressees from your Contacts folders. By default, if you are using Outlook as an internet email client, the Outlook Contacts folder will be what’s shown when you select the menu or toolbar button to view address books. If, on the other hand, you use Outlook with a hosted Exchange account (an option chosen by many Interconnected Technologies clients because of the additional capabilities available through doing so), by default you will see the Global Address List (the list of all addresses in your company who also use Exchange) as your first choice for selecting email addresses, and have to use the pulldown menu to select your own Outlook Contacts folder.

Most non-corporate users of this configuration would prefer that their Outlook Contacts folder be the first choice.

This can be changed as follows:

  1. Open the address book (in Outlook 2010, this is done by selecting the Address Book button on the Home Ribbon Bar).

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2.  Select Tools, and then Options, and you will see the following:

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3. In this windows you can specify which Contacts folder is selected by default when choosing email addresses.

Choose the behavior you wish, and enjoy!