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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Tech Tips 

Special to the Clarion Content from guest columnist, Neil Berman, Helper-in-Chief at TheONbutton.

Summer's coming y'all! The weather is warming up nicely here, so here are my Summer technology tips to help you get the most out of your vacation, or staycation...

Don't let your smartphone lose its mojo

"Honey I forgot to print the flight confirmation!!" Don't worry, it's probably in an email on your smartphone, along with your hotel confirmation, rental car details, camera app, music collection, newspaper app, weather app, sudoku game...and phone app (yes phones still make phone calls!). Your smartphone needs juice to keep your Summer running smoothly! Invest in a portable charger because Great Lakes, national parks and beaches are notoriously lacking in wall outlets. Here's a solar model which can charge all manner of fancy gadgets. Other models charge up a portable battery from a wall outlet or an in-car charger. Approximately $20-50 from various retailers.

AirPlay: The new CD changer for Summer parties

Oh how we miss CD multiplayers! You could spend a whole afternoon programming it with a playlist of music from five CDs before a party! Fortunately Apple gave us Airplay which will play a playlist from iTunes on your computer to every room in your home. One of the specialities at TheONbutton is setting up AirPlay enabled homes; it's the simplest, most reliable and cost-effective way to get wireless music throughout your home. Plus you'll wow your friends when you pull out your iPhone or iPad to control your entire music collection. All you need is iTunes, a $99 Apple AirPlay music receiver in each room connected to speakers. An iPhone, iPod touch or iPad acts as the remote control. Get in touch for more info.

If you can't go on vacation, work outdoors

Hmmm...technology and the great outdoors don't always mix so well. Dust, sunlight and soda spills are all bad news for our favorite laptop! Fear not, fresh air fans can still enjoy working outdoors with a rugged laptop that is designed to have a daylight readable screen, be more resilient to the elements and withstand the occasional minor drop to the floor. In fact that also sounds perfect for families with small children! Check out Dell's Latitude ATG range, which is a hardened nature-ready version of Dell's popular Latitude E6420 laptop. You can even boast to friends that it meets military specs for dust, temperature and other environmental tolerances.

Backup your data, especially before traveling

In my recent talk at the Chapel Hill Leads Group about safeguarding data, "Sleep Well At Night", I held up a small Lenovo ThinkPad pin-pad protected backup drive. A great feature of this external hard drive is that its contents are always encrypted and easily accessible without the need for special software. It also has a built-in USB cable and travel pouch for convenience. A good choice if you like to carry a copy of important files when away from home or work. If it gets lost or stolen, then the only way it can be used is if someone reinitializes the drive, which will cause the contents to be completely wiped. Neat. Lenovo ThinkPad 750GB Secure USB hard drive, $199.99 from Lenovo.

Neil Berman is the owner of TheONbutton in Durham, which helps clients with computers, websites, smartphones and audio-visual technology at home and at work. Neil founded TheONbutton because he loves technology and understands that not everyone feels the same way! Neil previously spent twelve years in the corporate IT industry with Deloitte, Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank. TheONbutton serves business and residential clients across the Triangle area and can be reached at 919-695-3899 or by email at contact@theonbutton.com.

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