Month: January 2016

What You Should Look for in Your Microsoft Office Support Package

sdvFor many businesses moving over to cloud computing options, the process can be daunting and present many potential hiccups. Regardless of this, there are many benefits to these new solutions that have meant that companies are making the leap anyway, reaping numerous rewards such as improved efficiency and greater collaboration in the workplace.

With that said, often a great level of support is required when initially migrating to these services and in the first phases of getting to grips with them. Furthermore, ongoing support can be considered extremely valuable in many instances.

One of the most popular cloud tools available today is Microsoft Office 365, which is a cloud based application including a variety of Office tools. This has numerous advantages, including the familiar Office applications in a more collaborative and accessible package that also feature frequent updates and improvements without the need to purchase an entirely new package.

Again, moving over to this collection of cloud tools can be stressful and difficult for some businesses, and investing in a support service can have untold benefits. Regardless of what your company hopes to achieve from implementing Microsoft Office cloud tools, here are several things that you should look for in your Microsoft Office 365 support package.

Firstly, look for training in using the tools and making the most out of the features. Many support packages will not include training, but the best options out there will. This is because your staff knowing how to problem solve when using their applications drastically reduces time spent on seeking outside help for difficulty using a tool.

In addition to this, those using this cloud solution may be familiar with the workings of Microsoft Office applications in software format, but might be completely new to some of the most beneficial features of the cloud version. For this reason, getting training can help a company really make the most of the features available to them, giving them a competitive edge in the marketplace.

The second thing that you should look for in your Microsoft Office 365 support is emergency support at all the times when your business is running, whether that is 24/7 or simply 9 to 5. Running into difficulties during the busy working day can cause huge problems for a business, and a great deal of time and profit can be lost.

Streamlining the problem solving process with adequate training and then reliable and fast emergency support will mean these hurdles are overcome in record time, with minimum negative impact on your company. This can lead to huge differences to your business success over weeks, months and years.

The key is to look for emergency Microsoft Office 365 support that is suited to your communication preferences and that works on the same timescale as you do. If you need someone to answer your queries as you work on important projects to be due before a midnight deadline, find a service that can offer just this, and do not compromise.

A third and final thing that you should look for in your Microsoft Office 365 support is the experience and expertise of the company that is providing you with the service. It very easy for an individual to assign themselves the label of cloud computing expert without any real accreditation, experience or passion for these particular solutions.

Instead, for the best support, look for a company whose expertise lies here, with a wealth of combined experience and proven problem solving abilities that can give your own business the best cloud computing experience.

Not only will these service providers be able to deal with your requests quickly and efficiently, but they will also be able to laser in on your issues and offer the most appropriate and intelligent solution every time.

5 Ways to Extend Your Data Communications Without Limits

dsYour network is only as effective as its reach – yet unbalanced signals such as USB and RS-232 can reliably transmit only up to 15 feet, and even balanced Ethernet signals are capped at 300 feet. With a growing range of connectivity platforms, modern data networks require not just compatibility and reliability but also flexibility and expandability. There are many ideal solutions to meet modern networks’ data distance needs such as converting unbalanced signals to balanced ones, deploying repeaters to boost signal strength, and implementing hubs for star-configured connections, while still taking full advantage of cost-effective and readily available copper wire. For large systems that go far beyond what copper wires can reach, fibre-optic converters can used to work in both conventional point-to-point and advanced daisy-chain / redundant-ring configurations, giving your data network a boost in distance, ranging from 3 miles to hundreds of miles, and additional flexibility, reliability, and expandability. The use of a Serial-TCP program is another ideal solution for merging serial communication protocols with modern TCP/IP communication, yielding benefits such as widely available infrastructures and greater distance, reliability, and speed.

Point to Point

Used mostly for one-to-one unbalanced signal (RS-232, TTL, and USB, etc.) extension, it can also be used for one-to-one optical fiber extension. Depends on the signal types, the extended distance ranges from 250 feet (70 m) to 4000 feet (1.2 km) on copper wire and 3 miles (5 km) to 40 miles (25 km) on optical fiber.

Daisy Chain (Multi-Drop)

Typically used for multi-drop RS-485 / RS-422 networks, addressable commands from the Master can be sent to all Slaves, and the addressed Slave can respond to the Master through the same wires, thus reducing the system’s costs. The typical distance for a daisy-chain RS-485 / RS-422 network is 4000 feet (1.2 km), and with the RS-485 / RS-422 repeater, this distance can be extended by another 4000 feet (1.2 km).

Star Wiring

Due to the nature of the signals and the requirements of impedance matching, the RS-485 / RS-422 network must run on a linear, daisy-chain (multi-drop) configuration; however, star-wiring is inevitable in many places. With very well-engineered hubs, the star-wiring configuration is more than just possible; it makes the system much more robust and reliable.

Redundant Ring

Data networks are critical for production, security, and information exchange, any system downtime is very costly – and even deadly in some situations. With an extra self-healing redundant link, a system will not break down even if there is a breaking point in the system, as these redundant-ring networks work both clockwise and counter-clockwise. If the clockwise link is down, the counter-clockwise link will recover the system instantly.

Network

Legacy serial communication protocols such as Modbus have merged rapidly with modern TCP/IP communications, yielding benefits such as widely available infrastructures and greater distance, reliability, and speed. A suitable Serial-TCP program offers ideal solutions to bridge your existing Serial/COM port and TCP/IP without the need for changing protocol. It works seamlessly and transparently, just like a pair of passive repeaters; furthermore, instead of requiring installation of cables and converters with limited distance, it simply makes use of existing computers and networks with an unlimited transmission distance.

 

4 Types of Connectivity With Industrial Ruggedness

vConnectivity is crucial for all types of data networks. Data networks evolve over time as technology improves; it is often necessary to connect legacy copper-wired serial communications to modern TCP/IP communications through more advanced media such as optical fiber. Moreover, many different types of data formats, standards, media and connectors are often mixed and used together within a single data network. Examples of different types of standards and protocols include physical-layer standards, such as RS-232, RS-485, RS-422, TTL, USB, and TCP/IP, and higher-level protocols, such as Profibus, Interbus, Modbus, BACnet, and Modbus TCP/IP. Copper wires and optical fibers are typical examples of different media; and there are dozens of different connectors used for machine-to-machine (M2M) connectivity and data communication systems, including DB9, DB25, USB type A, USB type B, mini USB, micro USB, terminal blocks, RJ11, RJ45, and ST, SC, FC, and LC connectors for fiber optic products.

Data networks perform many important tasks, including industrial automation (production, processing, monitoring, etc.), building automation (heating, ventilation, air conditioning [HVAC]; security systems; surveillance systems; etc.), motor control, and motion control. The costs for data equipment such as computers, PLCs, and industrial manufacturing or data processing equipment, ranges from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars, but perhaps the most important cost is system downtime because this affects your profitability, product delivery times, and customer relationships. With robust, machine-made cables, connectors, patch cords, terminal blocks, and gender changers, you can enjoy the maximum uptime and drastically reduce repair and replacement costs for your M2M connectivity and data communication systems.

Serial Connectivity

Serial ports come in various forms (such as DB9, DB25 and Terminal Blocks) and with both female and male connectors; it is often necessary to convert from one form to another: DB9 to DB25, female to male, DB9 to terminal blocks, etc. To deal with all these situations, you will need to have the right types of cables and connectors to do the conversions.

USB Connectivity

Replacing conventional RS-232 / RS-485 / RS-422 ports, USB has become the norm for controlling computer peripherals, and it has now moved from the desktop to more challenging environments, including instrumentation, point of sales, factory & building automation, etc. Similar to serial connectivity, USB also comes in different formats, such as type A, type B, mini, and micro USB. With suitable USB connectivity products, including cables and conversion adapters, you will be able to connect your modern networks with industrial ruggedness.

Ethernet Connectivity

Data networks evolve over time, and the same applies to Ethernet cables; from CAT 3 to CAT 6, the requirements for twisted-pair cables have become more demanding for the sake of increasing network speeds. Modern 10 / 100M Ethernet requires at least CAT 5 cables, and Gigabit networks require CAT 6 cables for speed and reliability. With reliable CAT 5e and CAT 6 cables, you can organise your data networks confidently and systematically.

Fiber Optic Connectivity

Fiber optic patch cords provide convenient connections between fiber-optic converters and patch panels. When choosing a quality fiber optic patch cord or cable, it is advisable to get one that has LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen). The LSZH fiber-optic patch cords are more fire-resistant than other type of cables, such as PVC-jacketed cables. Should they catch on fire, burning LSZH cables give off little smoke and no halogen substances, which is important not only for the environment but also for the health of people near the cables.

Protect Your Assets With Optical Isolators and Surge Protectors

dsvThe world of data communication is busy, even noisy. Industrial communication systems, such as balanced RS-485 / RS-422, often require transmission between multiple devices over long distances. While having many devices communicating with each other on the same twisted-pair cable is robust and cost-effective, it also introduces two major challenges:

    1. Because of the long distances and the surrounding electrical devices/equipment, RS-485 / RS-422 networks are often exposed to electrical noises, remote lightning, and line surges, which can cause transient voltage to run across the serial communication system and the valuable equipment.

 

  1. Because multiple devices (nodes) are connected, the ground potential at different nodes could be different, which can cause ground currents to flow through “the path of least resistance” via either the common earth ground or the ground wire.

Both voltage and current surges can cause serious damage to valuable, mission-critical equipment such as computers, PLCs, and industrial manufacturing and data processing equipment; these surges can even endanger human lives. Ground loop problems also exist on unbalanced signals that rely on the ground pin being zero volts, such as RS-232 and USB.

There are a few methods of voltage and current surge protection in the industry, and the most effective are Optical Isolators and Surge Protectors:

Optical Isolators

An optical isolator (or opto-isolator) is used to block high voltages and transients so that a surge in one part of the system will not disrupt or destroy other parts. Optical isolation uses an LED (Light Emitting Device) and a photosensitive transistor to transfer data across the isolation barrier – typically an air gap; in other words, data is transmitted using light instead of electrical signals, so there is no physical connections between the grounds and the data lines, thus removing the ground loop problems and effectively preventing electrical surges and spikes from destroying other parts of the system. Furthermore, because optical isolation uses light to transmit data across the isolation barrier, it also gains the advantage of immunity from electrical- and magnetic-field interference. This makes optical isolation an effective solution in industrial areas where strong electric or magnetic fields could be present.

Surge Protectors

The main function of a surge protector is to limit the voltage introduced to an electrical device by either blocking or shorting to ground any voltages above a safe threshold. Surge protectors are mainly used for protecting power and data lines against electrical surges and spikes, including those caused by lightning. However, it is important to note that solely relying on surge protectors could be insufficient or even do more damage than good, as in the cases of improperly installed or poorly selected surge protectors. In many applications, surge protectors are used in conjunction with optical isolators to provide much more effective protection.

 

The New Era of Computers

asafThe new era of computers has changed the way people communicate versus decades ago. The digital age has shifted from a traditional industry to an economy that is based on computerized information. The World Wide Web has existed since 1969, and is now globalized, accelerating the flow of information and pushing older forms of media into obsolescence. A computer is an electronic device used for storing and processing data. Almost, everything that is an electronic is made or run by computers. These devices have become a popular way to permanently accumulate collaborative information. Businesses have become dependent on this type of digital machine to store their files, complete daily task, and keep track of payroll. Practically, every home is equipped with some type of computerized mechanism. People are now using these types of electronic devices to share or exchange information, versus the traditional way when people had face to face conversations. The new era of computers has caused people to interact and facilitate relationships by using online dating, social media, and video conferencing.

Online dating sites are now playing a prominent role when it comes to partaking in romantic relationships. Online dating is the practice of searching for a romantic or sexual partner on the Internet. This will usually begin with a flurry of emails. However, the modern way of dating was to introduce people to one another or meet a person at a sports bar. Majority of people states that online dating is a good way to meet others. People in this period of time have become comfortable with expressing themselves with words contrary to their physical appearances, eliminating the likelihood of judgment and bias. Fifteen percent of U.S. adults report they have used online dating sites or mobile dating apps (Smith 2016). Websites like Match.com and eHarmony.com are number one trusted, online dating sites for singles. These websites will allow a person to join their network for free to begin looking for the love of his or her life. People have a natural instinct for companionship, and the Internet has made the process of falling in love quicker than it used to be centuries ago. Research has shown that online dating is becoming more accepted over time and that attitudes towards it have become more positive (Smith & Duggan, 2013). It is also argued that the convenience and accessibility of Internet dating will stimulate increased usage and will help develop Internet dating into a social norm (Brooks, 2011).

Social media sites have revolutionized the way people communicate and socialize on the Web. Social media is a website or an application that enables a user to share, create or participate in social networking content. Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular, social media websites of this new era. Facebook allows registered users to create profiles, upload pictures, share pictures, and upload videos. Accepting a friend request is the first step to initiating a friendship with another Facebook user. Once the friend request is accepted, socializing can begin between the two users. According to Abutaleb (2015) Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users as of Sept. 30, up 14 percent from a year earlier. Of these, 1.39 billion used the service on mobile devices. Facebook has affected the activity and social life of people in various ways. Facebook allows people using computers or mobile phones to share photos, stay in touch with friends, relatives and other acquaintances wherever they are in the world, as long as there is access to the Internet. It has reunified lost family members and friends. Similar to Facebook, registered Twitter users can post and read tweets. Twitter is a good way to keep in touch with friends and promote student interaction. According to Hanna (2011), Companies and organizations are looking to online social marketing programs and campaigns in an effort to reach consumers. However, the challenge facing many companies is that although they recognize the need to be active in social media, they do not truly understand how to do it effectively, what performance indicators they should be measuring, and how they should measure them. Further, as companies develop social media strategies, platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are too often treated as stand-alone elements rather than part of an integrated system.

Video Conferencing is not excluded from the new era of computers. The invention of the webcam has allowed people to communicate in ways that were not imaginable centuries ago. People no longer have to travel an extreme distance to have a meeting or discussion. Video conferencing have also become an alternative way for teachers and their students to communicate, contrary to the traditional way when face to face in the classroom was mandatory, this provides students and teachers with the opportunity to learn and teach by participating in two-way communication forums. Furthermore, teachers and lecturers worldwide can be brought to secluded or otherwise isolated educational facilities. Students from diverse backgrounds can learn about each other. Sometimes it is simply not possible to have direct meetings with two or more people. However, video conferencing adds another possible alternative, and can be considered when a live conversation is needed; the parties of the conversation can’t physically come to the same location; or the expense or time of travel is a consideration. For example, Facetime is a program on the iPhone that will allow iPhone carriers to communicate using video conferencing. According to Abdelkader (2014), it is a powerful alternative that educators can use to deliver instruction across distances. It can reduce barriers such as travel safety, costs, and time that can impede trips designed for intellectual exchanges as it offers a viable means to develop a platform for addressing social and work place changing.

In conclusion, computers are here to stay, and we can expect more inventions of new technology in the future. Apple Inc., Microsoft, and Dell are all major developers, designers, and sellers of computer electronics, computer software, and online services. Apple Inc. introduced the new all-in-one desktop that has all of its components, except the keyboard, built into the monitor. Contrary to Apple Inc., Dell is the developer of computers and software and not cell phones. On the other hand, Microsoft is best known for its software products. Some of the operating systems that are developed by Microsoft includes, but is not limited to, Windows XP; Windows 8; Windows 10; and Microsoft Office. In fact, Microsoft introduced a new browser in the year 2015 called Microsoft Edge that has an intelligent personal assistant named Cortana.

These companies are major contributors to the new computer era. Our society has grown to a culture that is connected through the Internet. Remote access will allow a person to control all Wi-Fi enable devices from his or her smart phone, Apple pay has capabilities to make purchases at a store using an iPhone or an Apple watch, and a car can be started and unlocked through a program called Onstar. These are all examples of the new revolution of technology. Things like electric cars, smart televisions, and other computerized machines have proven that computers are intelligent, and the world has become dependent upon them. Computers are an effective way to communicate and this can have a positive result on a person’s expectations and opportunities.