Sunday, January 22, 2017

Using cloud-based software to improve teamwork in the workplace

By Toni Tantlinger | News and Experts

Most businesses recognize that employee collaboration is a must for a productive and efficient workplace.

But many companies aren’t set up properly to take the greatest advantage of one of their best tools for promoting that collaboration – technology, says Mayur Ramgir, founder and CEO of Zonopact Inc.,, creator of the Clintra cloud-based software platform that allows businesses to store and access all their data in one location.

“What I’ve found is businesses often have their data segmented,” Ramgir says.

“One department has client information stored in a particular location, but other departments either don’t have access to it or can’t easily find it. That deters rather than promotes collaboration.”

While there can be reasons to limit access to some data, business leaders need to understand that they are missing out on effective ways to let technology encourage teamwork in the workplace.

“Employees become frustrated if there’s a file they need, but they have to spend too much time searching through a disorganized system to locate it,” Ramgir says.

When used the right way, though, technology helps strengthen existing communication channels and identify new collaboration opportunities, he says.

“Some companies do get it,” Ramgir says. “For example, when we were developing Clintra, we kept hearing from businesses about their need for an integrated system to manage projects, sales, clients and prospects more efficiently. So sometimes business leaders know what they want from technology; they just aren’t always sure how to get there.”

He says there numerous ways technology can help businesses improve teamwork among employees. A few additional ideas are:

Email and videoconferencing. These are a couple of the most basic ways technology can be used. They are especially helpful when employees who need to work together are scattered at remote locations. Sometimes people criticize the use of email when a face-to-face conversation would be just as easy – and email is overused at times. But it’s also an efficient way to quickly share important information with several co-workers at the same time without calling everyone away from their desks. Videoconferencing, such as Skype, is especially helpful when there is visual information that needs to be shared, such as demonstration of a new product.

Centralized work groups. Even email and Skype have limitations, especially when different departments within a business are involved, Ramgir says. Developing centralized groups to make sharing client information easier can greatly improve both communication and collaboration, Ramgir says. With the right technology, teams can brainstorm, share ideas, create and manage projects, and divide tasks and activities.

Online training courses. Teamwork requires that everyone understands their role and the goals of the company, which means employee training is essential. But handing employees an imposingly large training manual may not be the best way to accomplish that goal. They may not read it. Even if they do, they may not retain much of what they read. More effective, Ramgir says, is to make use of online training courses that are interactive, requiring that the employees be engaged. A quiz at the end can help ensure employees learned the key lessons.

“When you use technology to improve teamwork,” Ramgir says, “you’re very likely to see a boost in productivity, performance and profitability.”

About Mayur Ramgir

Mayur Ramgir ( is founder and CEO of Zonopact Inc., creator of the Clintra cloud-based software platform. He has more than 14 years experience in software engineering and holds a Computational Science and Engineering degree from Georgia Tech. He also is author of “Unbarred Innovation: A Pathway to Greatest Discoveries.”

Article courtesy of News and Experts, a division of EMSI

Sunday, November 20, 2016

UAG case offers ultimate impact resistant protection for iPhone 7

As soon as the iPhone 7 was available, the case manufacturers were out of the gate with their offerings for protection against slippery hands and other mishaps.

I have been testing an impressive case from Urban Armor Gear that offers the utmost protection from impact and shock, such as accidental drops and all an around rough and tumble lifestyle. This feather-light case from UAG's Monarch Series is built to military specifications and should handle any mishaps from urban warriors.

Coming out of the packaging, you'll notice how light the case is at around 1.4 ounces and how sturdy the design feels in your hands. There are no less than four textured rubber grips in strategic locations around the edge of the case to help guard against slipping from your hands. On the back side, you'll find more innovative design touches in the polycarbonate shear textured material, an embossed UAG logo and other alloy metal design elements to help you maintain a good grip, as well as maximum protection from impact. A rubber lip around front of the case will raise your smartphone slightly off the surface when placed face down. In the area of protection, UAG seems to have hit all the bases.

The case fits tightly around the phone and the cutouts are precise for the speaker, Lightning connector and mute switch. Upon close examination, you'll see no visible gaps for dust particles to get inside case, which is a problem I've had with other lesser-quality cases. The rocker switch for the volume and the on/off button are also covered with a textured rubber material and function just as well as the original controls without a case.

According to UAG, special attention was given to the cutout around the camera lens and flash to eliminate glare. The overall attention to detail in this case is remarkable and worth consideration.

If you're shopping for the ultimate protection for your iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, or 6 to 6s Plus, around $60 would be a good investment for the UAG protective case with a 10-year warranty. They are available in Graphite and Platinum for the iPhone 7 series.

With the UAG Monarch Series cases, you'll get provides military-grade protection and a stylish appearance.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Jackery Jewel Lightning Power Cable offers charging, spare battery

Anytime you can combine two functions into one is a plus in the technology world. That's why having a charging cable and battery together is probably going to be a big hit.

The Jackery Jewel 2-in-1 Lightning Power Cable with an integrated battery is being pitched as the first ever Apple certified product to have this capability for extending iPhones' and iPads' battery power.

The innovative cable from this Silicon Valley company can be charged from any USB outlet and also can be used to transfer files to computers or other devices.

If you have an Apple device low on power, the Jackery Jewel can muster up an additional 20 percent of extra power and is rated at keeping an iPhone 6S charged for up to three extra hours of standby time.

The cable is 39.4 inches in length, with the battery and circuit board inside a rugged plastic shell. A built-in LED gives battery information with red, green or blue levels, while also flashing in charging mode until completely charged.

The cost is a reasonable $19.99 from a company whose mission includes "empowering people on the go" and is available now on Amazon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Knock twice for a quick look inside this LG InstaView refrigerator

The technology of kitchen appliances is certainly not going to take a back seat to smartphones and smartwatches. Smart-refrigerators are on the way.

LG Electronics is pushing kitchen technology forward with their InstaView feature on four new refrigerators coming soon to select retailers.

Using a sleek glass panel that illuminates with two knocks, you'll be able to take a peek inside without opening the door.  If you see something enticing, the item can be accessed without opening the entire refrigerator. To prevent the loss of cold air, LG has incorporated a barrier between the interior compartment and the rest of the refrigerator.

Although the door-in-door feature has been around for a while, LG's InstaView technology adds another level of innovation. Shoppers can start knocking on LG's hi-tech refrigerator doors in September for around $4,500.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Toddy Cable to bring jazzy design, personalization to charging

When it comes to charging your smartphone or tablet, it’s just another mundane task with a skinny cable. There is not much to see there and certainly nothing to get excited about.

But the Toddy Cable, a new charging cable coming down the pikes from Toddy Gear, Inc., is about to add some spice to charging your electronics.

The idea behind the Toddy Cable includes personalization options to make your cable unique and less likely to be borrowed and not returned. Getting personal with the design for a Toddy Cable is easy enough by simply choosing from a selection of popular patterns and colors created with a 3D modeling process. You can also add a name, favorite quote or logo. For even more creative possibilities, you can upload your own design.

The cables I’ve been testing has an eye-catching design with alternating shades of purple, blue, green and orange colors, intertwined with white slashes and has my name engraved on the flat USB connector. It’s quite jazzy and there are hundreds of designs to choose from, with names like Princess, Blossom and Steel Will. In an office environment, it stands out on my desk and everyone knows it’s my charging cable.

"It's time for cable to catch up to our personal style, said Todd Gabel, Founder, Toddy Gear. "Phone cases are available in fun patterns and are customizable, it's time that cables to join these ranks."

The Toddy Gear team, based in Chicago, Illinois, has all the bases covered with a cable for Android micro USB devices, Apple devices that use the Lightning connector and a combination Android cable with Apple MFI Adaptor. With the latter cable option, you’re set for charing Android smartphones as well as other Micro USB devices, such as my Windows HP tablet. For iPhones and iPads, just slip on the Apple Adaptor.

The cable seem to be well constructed and feels like a quality product in your hands. According to the company it has a flexible outer jacket of PVC material and aluminum connectors that are friendly with most cases. Under the hood are high-quality wires protected by shielding and braiding and high-resistance insulation. With a flat design, the Toddy Cable is about twice as wide as my Apple charging cable, but is still flexible and can roll into a compact package for storage.

The Toddy Cable is about three feet in length and falls about an inch and a half short of the length of an Apple Lightning charging cable. But in my opinion, that’s not a deal breaker.

I expect the Toddy Cable to sail through the Kickstarter campaign started in early April and be in retail outlets soon. Look for it and apply your personal style.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Martian Notifier provides a good smartwatch experience

I had been thinking about purchasing a smartwatch for a while and had decided on the Apple Watch to match up with my up other Apple devices. The Pebble, Samsung, Sony and other brands didn’t appeal to me,so my shopping list was short.

Then I discovered the Martian Notifier and that’s what I’m wearing on my wrist. I’ve had this smartwatch for about a month and I’m liking the features more and more each day.

It was easy to get the Martian smartwatch paired with my iPhone using Bluetooth 4.0 wireless technology. But the company does recommend a battery level of at least 50% before pairing for the first time. You’ll use a Micro USB Cable for connecting to the Martian and to a computer or a USB wall adapter.

According to Martian, a full charge can be reached in 2-3 hours from a power outlet and 3-4 hours when charging from a computer.

One tip is that the watch crown on the right side is shipped with it pulled out to “save the battery while shipping.” You’ll need to set the time and press it back in until you hear a click.

The pairing process was quick and painless; turn on Bluetooth on your phone, download the Martian Notifier app, open and insert a six-digit code generated by the Martian and you’re ready to roll. While in the Martian app, you’ll also select the notifications you want to receive and assign custom vibration patterns for alerts and phone calls. Once the two devices are paired, you should have functionality with a 30-foot range.

While you’re in the downloading mood, you might as well connect the Martian smartwatch to your computer via the USB cable and check for any firmware updates.

At first glance, the Martian smartwatch looks like a traditional analog timepiece, with a large dial, hour and minute hands, traditional crown and roman numerals for the twelve o’clock position. Short silver bars mark the remaining hourly positions.

Then you’ll notice an OLED digital display tucked away in the lower left corner, about where the six and seven o’clock positions would be. Although the display is only about half an inch in width, it packs a lot of punch for displaying notifications from your smartphone.

The OLED display shows incoming calls, text messages, emails and other notifications that you might have selected in the Martian app. It also shows battery level and other information. Another unique feature is tapping the glass to recall a notification received in the past five minutes.

A small LED light resides just above the eight o’clock position and glows red while the watch is charging and solid green green when fully charged. The LED light also flashes blue for incoming notifications and green for incoming calls.

You’ll also notice two buttons on the left side for managing notifications received on the smartwatch. The top button launches voice commands on your phone or tablet and scrolls the notification history forward. The bottom button turns the smartwatch on and off, as well as scrolls through the the Notifier menu and scrolls notification history backward.

I’m loving the battery life of the Martian Notifier. The company claims seven days of battery life and I’m getting at least five before needing a charge. This means I can charge up on the weekend and go for a week before plugging in again. The Martian is unique it that the time piece is on a separate battery from the rechargeable battery used for digital functions and is rated to run for two approximately two years.

The Apple Watch I had in my cart for a while was going to cost around $400. The Martian Notifier retails for around $130 and if you shop around, it can be picked up for around $90. You’ll have a choice of different color combinations for the watch face and bands. It is compatible with iOS and Android devices.

I didn’t like the black silicone band that shipped with the Martian smartwatch. So purchased a black metal band, which dressed the smartwatch up quite a bit and made it easier to put on and take off. Any aftermarket band with a 22 millimeter width (where the band attaches to watch) should work just fine. After removing a couple of links, I had a perfect fit. Just be mindful removing the pins in the band links with the included removal tool is kind of fussy and you might need a better pin-removal tool or a trip to your favorite jeweler swap out the band.

Getting my text messages and alerts with Martian is certainly less of a hassle. I don’t have to dig my iPhone out of my pocket as much now. Just a quick glance at the Notifier is all it takes when a notification comes in.

My smartwatch cravings have been fulfilled for a while, or at least until the two-year battery runs out.