Top 5 Trends for Small and Medium Businesses

Where to go in 2012I was reading some forecast reports by IBM about Small and Medium Business (SMB) trends for 2012, and it’s reassuring to finally see an agreeable roadmap. In fact, here at TOAST.net we’ve been saying a lot of the same things as IBM for a few years now. SMB’s have under-invested in technology over the last 3-4 years, and in doing so have lost a lot of the edge needed to compete. Technology generates efficiency, which in turn lowers costs. Things that were preventing SMBs from expanding their technology base have been expense and the economy — understandable factors. However, 4 years ago nobody could have predicted the huge drop in tech costs due to cloud technology. It’s an exciting time for SMB owners because new advancements are allowing them to outmaneuver larger corporations and bring a competitive edge back to the marketplace. Here’s the top 5 areas SMBs should be focusing on for 2012 to stay ahead of the game: Read more of this post

PC Maintenance: Using Band-Aids When You Need Stitches

I don’t want to be a doom-and-gloom promoter, but it gets frustrating. It’s a tough economy out there. We all know that. There’s so much uneasiness in the business climate that everyone’s cutting back because of fear of the future. I just read a report saying companies are sticking hoards of cash under their mattresses because they’re afraid of investing it and never getting it back. A lot of this cash is coming from cost cutting, and it seems one of the first things that gets cut when times are tough are IT resources. Getting rid of the maintenance people leads to putting Band-Aids on problems…never really fixing them, but just doing the minimum to make things work for one more week. Read more of this post

Windows 8: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

A hybrid cold/bubonic plague bug hit me last week. While sitting at home and throwing back doses of NyQuil, I had a chance to try out a preview of the upcoming Windows 8. Microsoft released a “preview” version through its testing channels to get some feedback on its progress. We’re in for some big changes — mostly good ones from what I could see, and a few annoyances to make things interesting. It seems Steve Balmer finally decided to get rid of the Windows 95 coding team and get some fresh talent as this new version is showing off something you don’t normally associate with Microsoft: polish.

Windows Vista, Google, and Apple all smacked some sense into the Redmond headquarters over the last few years. They managed to prove people don’t want a bulky and overloaded operating system. Consumers want an OS that starts instantly, navigates quickly, and shows relevant information. Windows 8 is the fruit of these hard-taught lessons, and has the potential to bring Microsoft back into the limelight. Read more of this post

HP and Amazon Are Shaping Your Computing Future.

Did everyone get their $99 HP Touchpads before they sold out?

No?

That’s OK, neither did most people. Apparently, HP’s fire-sale price of $99 for a 16GB tablet (or $149 for the 32GB version) is the price point at which everyone notices tablets — even if it’s a discontinued product. In the last two weeks, over 500,000 Touchpads were sold, with another 200,000 on the way. People that previously never gave a thought to using a tablet are now suddenly very interested.

On the other side of the coin, Amazon recently announced they were going to start selling a new tablet (probably associated with its popular Kindle). The pricing is supposed to be $249 or less, making it one of the least expensive offerings on the market, and it’s already generating a lot of buzz. In fact, the Amazon tablet is already being hailed as the “iPad Killer”, even before it’s being released.

Why all this hype over tablets when they’ve been available for years? One simple fact: they’ve been way too expensive, and hardware manufacturers are just now catching on. Read more of this post

Offline Google Mail is Back — Finally!

At the beginning of 2011, Google announced it has given up on Google Gears,  its work-around gadget that allowed offline access for Google Mail services. Gears worked, but was a bit clunky so I can see why it was discontinued. Google wanted to shoot for a better solution based on HTML 5, and it looks like they’ve just about completed their task…with a catch. Read more of this post

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