Waypoint News

Which works better – a wireless or wired mouse?

03.23.11

Whether you’re a wireless mouse user or you’ve stuck with the wired version, you probably know that there are advantages to both. The debate between the two options has been going on for years. While it most likely won’t be resolved anytime soon, these facts may well help you better determine which one is right for you.

Wired

Just like wireless mice, wired mice have a lot of positives as well as negatives. These are a few of the major benefits:

  • Longer life expectancy
  • Quicker response time
  • More cost efficient
  • More accuracy – a big pro for gamers
  • No possibility of inadvertently gaining control of someone else’s machine

Although wired mice have been around much longer, they do lack in comparison to wireless mice in some areas. The biggest disadvantages include less freedom to roam and less overall convenience – both of which are of the utmost importance to some people.

Wireless

Despite the occasional dead batteries, wireless mice have a number of strong points. They offer a level of convenience that can’t be reached with a wired mouse, no matter how long the cord is. Some of the major benefits include:

  • Greater freedom – another favorite feature among gamers, who often control their TVs from the couch
  • Improvements in response time and accuracy
  • Fewer cords
  • Smoother movement due to the lack of a cord

Although there are plenty of advantages to wireless mice, there are several disadvantages as well. The two biggest problems tend to be the occasional bad signal and dead batteries – both of which can be extremely frustrating if they come at the wrong time.

Overall, there are pros and cons to both options, and the general answer is: it’s all about preference. If you need to ensure that your mouse is reliable and accurate at all times, then you are probably better off with wired. If you don’t care as much about accuracy and enjoy a little more freedom, wireless might be right for you. Either way, you will probably be satisfied with your choice.

For more insight into the wired vs. wireless debate, check out this website.

Take a look at the upgraded commenting feature in Google Docs

03.18.11

Google Docs is a fairly popular tool. A number of us utilize it on a regular basis – often in a business setting. Google has made some recent changes to Google Docs, which can help users become more productive

The popular commenting feature in Google Docs has recently received some big improvements – some of the most significant are:

  • Timestamps and profile pictures on comments
  • The ability to edit and resolve comments
  • Implementation of email notifications via @mentions

Email notifications are one of the handiest features that have been added as they let you bring people into the discussion that weren’t already.

The message that you send via the email notifications feature will always include the text of the comment, so that person does not necessarily need access to Google Docs in order to contribute. He or she can simply respond to the email and it will show up in the discussion thread.

These new features also make it easier to see what has been done and what still needs to be done. Instead of simply removing a comment once edits have been made on the document, you can now mark it as resolved. This allows you to go back and view which changes were made and if they were, in fact, done properly.

If distributed teams are working on a project, it can sometimes be difficult to make sure everyone is on the same page. Collaboration tools like Google Docs make it much less difficult. The email alerts will let your team members know as soon as you need their help on a project and keep everyone in sync.

Passing a document back and forth via email can be quite messy. If multiple people are editing at once, monitoring all of those edits and ensuring that they show up on the final version gets difficult. With these tools, since everybody’s version of the document is identical there is far less confusion around changes. For distributed teams, and remote workers, tools like this are quite valuable.

For more insight into the recent changes to Google Docs check out this article.

There are quite a few fantastic ideas emerging from SXSW

03.16.11

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a yearly event that unites people from film, music and new media. SXSW is all about creative content, and that is never lacking. SXSW is most known for its music festival – it is one of the biggest in the United States, but it has much more to offer.

SXSW Interactive is a popular event for web creators and entrepreneurs. The event lasts five days and focuses on the future of innovative technology. And, although the two-day SXSW Technology Summit, which includes presentations on technology and business, is still going on, a number of great ideas have already emerged from the conference. 

Every year, in addition to all of the conferences, there is a “Startup Bus” competition. The Startup Bus departs from Chicago, Cleveland, Miami, New York and San Francisco, and drives to Austin in two days. In those 48 hours, teams are assembled and they are given the task of coming up with an original idea, creating a demo and website, and then presenting their idea to a panel of judges once they arrive in Austin.

48 hours may not seem like much time, but it’s plenty for these teams. There were many great ideas that people came up with – so many that the panel of judges couldn’t pick just one winner. These are the two startups that came up with standout ideas and won the competition.

TripMedi

TripMedi is based around the quickly growing medical tourism industry. Medical tourism is essentially when a person needs to have a medical procedure performed on them and travels to a developing country in order to save money.

According to the TripMedi team, there is no clear way to navigate this market, making it an even more unnerving experience for medical tourists. So the team chose to create a Yelp-like service for the industry.

TripMedi compiles information on where people can have procedures done, prices, and physicians. And with 1,300 unique visitors in just four days, it seems like it will do just fine.

WalkIN

WalkIN deals with the all-too-common problem of cramming into a restaurant lobby while waiting for a table. Dozens of hungry, grumpy people are stepping on each others toes, hoping that their name will be called next.

WalkIN gets rid of one of the biggest pains of waiting for a table by allowing you to roam while you wait. You can simply go into the restaurant, check in using a QR code, and then wander around until you are alerted via phone that your table is ready.

This is a big improvement from many restaurant pagers that are big and clunky and only work within a certain radius.

This year’s SXSW conferences, like all other years’, has already brought us some truly innovative ideas, and is sure to bring us even more.

For additional information on SXSW and its origins, check out the website.

How flash storage works

03.11.11

Whether we are aware of it or not, many of us employ flash storage gadgets every day. Cell phones and laptops are two gadgets we use on a regular basis that typically contain flash memory.

What exactly is flash storage?

Flash storage devices make it a breeze to store data and transport it from one machine to another. Flash memory qualifies as a solid storage device, meaning it is electronic, not mechanical like data CDs.

Other features that are common for flash storage are:

  • A non-volatile storage chip, meaning it doesn’t need a constant flow of power to maintain the information stored in the chip
  • There are no moving parts
  • Allows for easy electronic storage
  • Data can be easily erased and the device can be reprogrammed
  • Allows for quick access to data
  • Extreme durability, particularly when coming in the form of a memory card

All of these features make flash storage a popular choice, especially for portable devices, such as cell phones. Many people use their smartphones or iPods as external hard drives by hooking them up to their computers and transferring data to them. This makes for extremely easy access, as these are devices that many people carry with them at all times.

If you’re interested in learning more about flash storage, check out this article from HowStuffWorks.

Are you getting different results from different search engines?

03.09.11

We utilize search engines to help us answer almost any question we may have. If these search engines are giving us the most relevant results, why do those results vary so much?

Search algorithms are always changing, and each search engine uses different criteria to determine what is relevant. How do Google and Bing, the two biggest search engines, stack up?

Google

Google’s search algorithm has undergone a great deal of changes in recent weeks. The biggest and most recent change to the algorithm is the suppression of results from what Google refers to as content farms.

Content farms are companies that employ a large number of writers whose job is to create lots of content that is designed to satisfy search algorithms without much actual or factual content. The main goal of these companies is to generate ad revenue by gaining more page views.

Google hopes the change in its algorithm will yield more quality results that will be more relevant and helpful to searchers. Google is also utilizing Twitter posts to come up with relevant, real-time results.

Bing

Bing calls itself a “decision engine,” meaning instead of searching for results that could be relevant, it claims to know what you’re searching for and finds it.

Although Google has started to integrate more real-time results, Bing is a step ahead. Bing highlights listings that your friends have “liked” or shared on Facebook as well as gives the most current posts on the topic.

Searching the same topic on two different engines, or even from two different locations can yield quite different results, although all of them may still be relevant.

For more information on the latest changes to Google’s algorithm, check out this New York Times article.

The top ideas emerging from the DEMO Spring conference

03.02.11

The DEMO Spring 2011 conference, the “launchpad for emerging technology”, is going on this week and, already, many great ideas have emerged from it. One of the major focuses of the conference is social technology. These are some of the best products so far, social or otherwise:

Websense’s Defensio for Facebook

Defensio for Facebook is an application that lets companies better monitor their Facebook Pages. The application keeps pages spam and clutter-free, making them much more appealing to prospects as well as current customers.

This application lets you set preferences so that you can moderate posts on your Page. You can also prevent your Page from showing links to certain sites.

Nimble

Social relationship manager Nimble allows users to connect all of their contacts, calendars and communications. It currently integrates email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to bring all of your connections to one place. 

Nimble hopes to make it easier for companies to maintain a dialogue and improve interactions with their customers. Once it is integrated with more social networks, it will become even more useful.

mSignia’s Dynamic Device Identity

mSignia works on Android devices to make access to cloud services easier. It secures your smartphone while eliminating the need to enter passwords on every site.

If you stop using that device, there’s no need to worry. mSignia eliminates all of the credentials associated with your accounts so that your information can no longer be accessed from that device.

All of these products, along with many others being presented at the conference, offer great, time saving solutions that can really boost productivity. The DEMO Spring conference is still going on, however, so there are sure to be many more interesting ideas.