Wires. I HATE wires.

by Rachel Racanelli on April 10, 2014

urlWires are ugly and usually everywhere.  They make your shiny new electronics look terrible.  When my fiancé hung our new TV, it turned into a 3-hour project, because we hid all of the cords in the walls.  He was not happy with the work, but I was happy with the finished product! That’s all that matters, right?

If snaking wires through walls for a few hours is not your thing, I’ve listed some helpful tips to keep the cord madness to a minimum.

  1. Don’t be afraid of wireless.  Mouse, printer, keyboard, you name it.  Use as much wireless technology as possible!  Yes, you may be going through quite a few batteries for that mouse and keyboard, but if you’re a neat freak, do it.
  2. No hard wiring allowed.  Don’t be afraid of using a wireless router.  This is an easy one—and is probably something you’re already doing.   Try to phase out that one last hard wired computer you have and make your home a wireless mecca.
  3. Apple lover?  Want a giant monitor? Get an iMac.  Talk about limited wires.  If you have a wireless mouse and keyboard, you’re basically working with one power cord.  I repeat, one power cord.
  4. Be organized.  If your home is a technology fortress, try to have everything in one place.  My sister and brother-in-law have an “electronics closet” where everything is nicely hidden, labeled, and organized.  If you’re not technically inclined, but have some funds, hire someone to get you organized!  Cartwheel can do it for you!
  5. Bluetooth is your friend.  It’s pretty great.  Bluetooth speakers, for example, will connect to your smartphone or computer and play anything you want.  No wires!  Last year, Rafi and Josh bought all of use Jawbone wireless speakers.  They are compact, and pack a punch!
  6. Say bye-bye to your landline.  Do you really need a landline when everyone has a cell phone in your house?  While this isn’t the largest source of wire clutter, every little bit helps.  Seriously.

Not everyone can afford a professional to come in and make our homes look pristine and wire-free; so a little DYI should really help!  If you can afford it, it’s totally worth it to have someone come in and organize your technology—not just for vanity, but for safety as well.

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i-forgetHmm, I think I remember what I put, but did I capitalize the name? Or was it the other teacher? Why isn’t this working!!??

Those “security” questions you’re often asked when setting up an online account are called Knowledge Based Authentication, or KBA for short. Specifically, most web sites use static KBA, which means you choose the questions AND the answers. Many online services, including banks, use KBA either when a password needs to be reset, or for certain high-risk online actions (e.g. money transfers).

From a security perspective, it’s unclear how useful KBA really is. Many of the answers to questions can be found publicly or in social networks. In addition, many people need to write down the answers to these questions somewhere, which is in itself a security risk. Finally, some of the answers themselves, a mother’s maiden name for instance, are valuable to hackers if they become exposed.

From a user perspective, KBA is a disaster. It’s hard enough to remember all your passwords, but remembering the answers to some of these questions is impossible. It also makes signing up for a new account painful.

Some online services have moved away from static KBA and now use two-factor authentication (TFA) based on a text message they send to your mobile device. This type of authentication is more secure, and a lot easier for the user. Evernote, Twitter, Dropbox, and many other services already offer TFA. I’d love to see more.

Oh, and by the way, my favorite high-school teacher was the late Senor Millones, my Spanish teacher. Even though I can barely speak a word of Spanish today, he taught me quite a few things about life.

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First Look: Microsoft Office for iPad

by Rafi Kronzon April 7, 2014 Alerts

As you may have heard, Microsoft finally released some of its Office applications for the iPad. Specifically, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, OneNote (why??) and OWA (more about this later). We decided to take them for a test drive. Below are our impressions, specifically as they relate to small businesses. Our goal is to evaluate whether we […]

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Five Steps to Secure Your Business like a Pro

by Rafi Kronzon March 10, 2014 Alerts

In our line of business, security is paramount to our clients’ trust. Whether you’re protecting your clients’ data, your own proprietary information, or simply storing credit card numbers in Quickbooks, a strong security policy will go a long way in protecting your business. Below are five key steps that will get you started on your […]

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When will wearable tech actually be wearable?

by Rachel Racanelli March 6, 2014 Articles

You’d be hard pressed to find a tech blog that doesn’t post at least once a day about wearable technology.  Whether it’s watches, glasses, or necklaces, it’s out there and being improved upon daily.  But when will it actually be wearable?  As far as I’m concerned, we’re not there yet. While the concept of wearable […]

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Is the Personal Computer era over? The answer is in the clouds

by Rafi Kronzon February 18, 2014 Articles

In 1977, Apple, Commodore, and Radio Shack (yes, Radio Shack) launched the first mass-market personal computers. Last year, there were approximately 300 Million PCs sold. There are close to 2 billion personal computers in use around the world. These are mind-blowing numbers, but they don’t tell the whole story. In 2013, global PC sales declined […]

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