Tag Archives: Windows (Microsoft)

When is it Time to Buy a New Smartphone?

iPhone Original/3G/4/5

Who doesn’t want the latest and greatest technology? The push-back has always been the incredible costs associated with keeping up with 6-month refresh cycles.

It all boils down to some simple questions that can help you decide if it’s really worth locking yourself into another 2-year contract.

  1. Does your phone work? Does it do what you need it do to?
  2. Can you renew your contract to get a subsidized price?
  3. Can you get a discount? Has your employer negotiated a better deal than you can?  If you work for a big company, you can probably save some $$.
  4. When was the last version of the phone you want refreshed?  The big boys only refresh about once a year.
  5. Have you chosen a carrier? T-Mobile and Sprint have both come up with some great deals for new customers.
  6. Which is the right platform for you? If you need a dependable, secure phone with the most apps, you probably want an iPhone.  Apple has about a million apps, many of them business-oriented.
  7. iPhones aren’t as flexible as Android phones and even Windows phones.  However, if you’re a power business user you should probably avoid Android.
  8. Blackberries are out.  Long known as the business device, they no longer hold the lead on stability or security.  That goes to Apple.
  9. See if your chosen carrier will let you try the phone before you buy it.  Many of them have a 30-day no-fault program where you can return the phone if you don’t like it for any reason.  This will help you determine if the coverage is adequate and if you like the features.
    Remember that any Apps that you buy for the phone will belong to you, and you won’t get any refunds if you return the phone.
  10. Still need a new phone?  Really?  If you’ve got an Apple iPhone 4 or newer, you should be fine until somewhere around the iPhone 7, which should be circa 2015…  See you then.
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Is the PC Dead — Again?

The Windows family tree.

Mark Twain is reported to have said that “The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Now-a-days it seems to be Steve Balmer of Microsoft fame. No, I’m not talking about his actual death, but the death of their leading product and platform: the ubiquitous PC and Windows.

Microsoft itself seems to have cast the death blow to its foundational product last year when it introduced Windows 8 — an operating system that few like, and which  most people find confusing and cumbersome. Designed to work on both touchscreen tablets as well as desktops, it inevitably doesn’t work with either particularly well.

And this isn’t just some vague perception from the anti-Microsoft crowd. This is backed up with real data, most notably in the latest IDC report released this month that says PC sales are down 14% year over year.

And it’s doubtful that Microsoft’s rush job on a new version of Windows 8 (codenamed “Blue”) will fix things.  Having upset hardware vendors who were counting on hardware sales during the bi-annual “refresh cycle,” it’s likely that many of them will be looking to Android and other platforms to secure their places in the hardware world.

“While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market.” (IDC report)

 

Free software tools that add to your anti-virus protection

I constructed this image using :image:Computer...
Image via Wikipedia

From this week’s review and comment on the news.  Here’s some free software that can make a big difference on the security for your computer:

http://www.slimwareutilities.com/

  • SlimComputer – to turn off the unneeded programs, toolbars and promotions that come pre-installed on a new PC
  • SlimClearner –  is the world’s first software that lets you clean and optimize Windows systems using a crowd-sourced approach. SlimCleaner uses aggregated-cloud feedback to recommend optimal settings for programs, start-ups and services.
  • SlimDrivers – uses crowd-sourcing to spider and aggregate millions of devices to keep the device drivers up-to-date. Using a cloud-based system, SlimDrivers not only detects when a driver needs updating, but also identifies the proper executable for your system and initiates the driver install automatically.

https://browsercheck.qualys.com/

  • Checks and identifies security issues in your browser.  Very nice software.  It detected some plugins on my machine that were out-of-rev.

http://www.cloudmarkdesktop.com/

  • Protects your inbox from spam, phishing and viruses.
  • Filtering for IMAP, POP, Exchange and Web mail accounts

You’ve probably got enough information already, but if you’d like to read more:

Free software tools can add to your anti-virus protection

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Best Free Autoresponder

How do you get an autoresponder that’s free and provides the features that the big boys use? From Verizon through manufacturing firms, I’ve had dozens of clients ask me "What’s the best free autoresponder available?" over the years.

We should probably start by answering the question, "What is an autoresponder, and why would I want to use one?" In its most basic form, an autoresponder is an email program that automatically responds to emails that are sent to it. This type of system will automatically respond with things like FAQs , product information and vacation messages.

High-end autoresponders provide features which allow people to opt-in and opt-out of your email list and provide double opt-in (also called closed-loop opt-in) capabilities.  These types of features are absolutely necessary if you have a list of more than a couple of hundred names, or if you’re trying to run a real business.

One of the best free autoresponders available is open-source and will run on both Unix/Linux and Windows machines. It’s called phplist and can be found at their website .  This software isn’t the easiest to install, but does have good basic instructions and can be installed by most system administrators without much trouble.

Be aware that even though this is the best free autoresponder, it isn’t the best thing to use if you are sending emails that are time-critical or if you don’t have time to follow-up on sites that blacklist you.  Sending out emails to bad email addresses (old, or expired) or to mail trap boxes will cause you to be blacklisted very quickly, which means that your email will start bouncing in a big way.  I’ve seen cases where competitors have subscribed one of these mail trap boxes to a competitor’s email list so that each time email is sent to the list it is immediately rejected — something that can be avoided by using double-opt-in.

If you’re looking for something very simple and use Google Lab’s email features (it’s very easy to get a free account if you’re not using it right now), check out the "Vacation Time!" feature to get a free, simple autoresponder.  There is also a more advanced feature you can use:

"If you’re sick of typing out the same reply every time someone emails you with a common question, now you can compose your reply once and save the message text with the "Canned responses" button. Later, you can open that same message and send it again and again," explains Chad Perry .

After enabling "Canned Responses " in the settings page for Gmail Labs, you’ll see a new drop-down when composing a message. The "canned responses" option can be used to save a new message or to load an existing autoreply. It’s interesting that Gmail saves the messages as hidden drafts: you can find them if you search for label:drafts , but they’re not visible in the Drafts view.  This isn’t quite the same set of features and functionality offered by phplist, but it may do for you or your business.

If you’d like more information on any of these points, or anything else related to Marketing Technology, post a comment letting me know.