Apple iOS7 Is Here

ios7Apple, Inc. recently released the newest operating system for its mobile devices, including the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad. The new OS is a major overhaul to its predecessor. Long gone are the skeuomorphism design of the Steve Jobs era. The new iOS7 utilize the “flat” design UI to guide users through its new “swipe heavy” navigation. There’s also a new layer of transparency at different stages of the menu, allowing you to make sense of where we are at within the context. The 3D feel have also been replaced with flat colorful buttons.

The lock screen has been revamped to support a new control center and notification agendas. Double-clicking on the home button now launches a carousel of recently used apps. With a flick of a finger, you can effectively navigate between opens apps or swipe upward to close them.

Brand new is the iTunes Radio, which is very similar to Pandora Internet Radio. You can choose radio stations according to genres, and while the songs are streaming for “free” with limited skips, there’s always the $1.29 BUY button for you to download onto your device to listen offline.

This is only a few of the new features in iOS7, visit http://www.imore.com/ios-7-review for a thorough introduction. People who are used to the look and feel of iOS6 may need some time to get adjusted to the new interface, as it is a drastic change to the look and feel of the operation system. If you already upgraded to iOS 7, what’s your favorite new feature? Like it or Meh? Let us know!

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What’s Code Got To Do With It?

programmer_600Computers and Technology are moving at lightning speed. Every day there seems to be a new development in the tech industry. Have you ever wondered how technology is moving so quickly? Besides the hardware engineers who design the concept, what makes computers work are the developers and programmers. They are the  “coders”, who understand computer languages. They tell the androids to ‘make it work’.  From websites, to Windows applications, to Apple apps, all are made possible by a person sitting behind a computer, programming  a set of code. These codes are the brain and functionality of the software we use today.

There is a shortage of coders on the market. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and other major powerhouses are constantly competing to recruit the best coders/programmers and developers to join their team.  These most wanted jobs demand six figure salaries.

kidscodeYet schools across the country don’t introduce computer coding into the curriculum, not even as an elective. Colleges and Universities offer degrees on Computer Science, but by the time a child is 18, they have already been primed in other areas, which may not prepare them to enter into the field of programming.  

codeThere is a website, http://www.Code.org which was developed to help individuals interested in the field of programming. Whether you are 6 or 60, it’s a great website to visit. There are testimonials on the importance of computer programming, and they will guide you a level of understanding on how to start coding. Computer programming is not for everyone, but what is?  Visit www.code.org to get a feel of what computer coding is all about.  See if that may be a path worth taking!

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CS Technologies Plus – 30 Years of Offering Technology Solutions

CS Technologies Plus continues to stay in the forefront of technology.  2013 marks their 30th anniversary and business owner, Lisa Groner has been an employee since day one.  CS Technologies Plus (CST) was formerly known as Computer Showcase, CSOnline, The Learning Center and CSOnline Security.  anniversary

CST’s Computer Showcase division offers computer hardware and software sales, installation, diagnostic and repair, networking including wireless & cabling/fiber installation, AV and Digital Signage technical solutions and services. “If it is technology related, CS Technologies Plus provides the corresponding services” states Groner.

In May 2012, CST was awarded the desktop/laptop purchase and install contract (State Contract # 4900000208) with Clarion and Edinboro Universities, selling and supporting Dell hardware.  Also in 2012 additional manufacturers were added to the companies COSTARS Contract (Cooperative Sourcing to Achieve Reductions in Spending), which aids in the sales of technology products to public sector entities (schools and government agencies), without going through a collaborative bid process.

Windows 8 was released in the 4th quarter of 2012. Windows 8 offers Windows 8new levels of productivity, security and mobility without sacrificing performance or choice.  CS Technologies Plus is selling both Windows 7 and 8, realizing that some customers may not be ready to make the big jump to a new operating system. CST’s sales team seeks to find solutions for individuals, small-to-medium businesses or larger public sector customers; the team provides the best possible solution at the best price to customers in any arena.  At the end of 2012, CST became an ASUS reseller recognizing ASUS’s sustained growth in the laptop and tablet marketplace. customerservice

Located in Seneca PA, CST certified technicians cover a geographic area from Erie to the southern border of Pennsylvania from Johnstown to Youngstown, “We have the most knowledgeable technicians in NW Pennsylvania who are constantly upgrading their certifications”, states General Manager, Holly Berlin. “Our technicians value the customer relationship and strive to provide quality customer service every minute of the workday and beyond.”

The company’s training division, The Learning Center, is a private licensed school in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  They offer classes via a public schedule and also customized/corporate classes based on a business or public sector’s training needs.  The Learning Center also teaches high-end technical courses for two Technology degree programs offered at Venango College of Clarion University.  Venango College teaches the general education courses and The Learning Center teaches the technical courses. Students not only learn through classroom instruction but they also get real world experience by working with CST staff in our technical service department.  In addition, CST trainers are teaching some of the computer courses for Clarion University through their Continuing Education Department.

The Learning Center will provide more cloud computing application training in 2013.  Cloud computing allows users to save files and documents on the web and to access them from any PC, Mac or Phone at any location at any given time.

Security Alarm technology trends continued to change in 2012.  The Security/Surveillance Division, CSOnline Security,camera1 has kept current with the changing technologies, giving area residents and businesses state-of-the-art management and control with their security systems offered.  Smart Phones are playing a major security role in keeping the customer notified and in control of their home or business with most systems offering Apps to manage and receive notifications of alarm events, and to access video cameras for remote live view. Wireless solutions have opened up new possibilities as well, making the installation more efficient and the interface with existing networks a snap. With the diminishing of the standard telephone land line, CST has moved to offer 4G cellular and Internet based communication for alarm system monitoring.

CCTV systems, that were generally more popular with businesses, have become more affordable for residential home centerowners. The cost between analog, HD and network camera systems is shifting in favor of HD and network based systems as the HD and network IP camera systems become more affordable.  CST now offers Cloud based CCTV and access control management systems which give medium to large scale businesses an overall cost benefit, ease of system management and worry-free data storage.

The expectations of the security industry in 2013 is continued growth, with emphasis in video surveillance and access control systems, as businesses, schools and universities move to tighten security for personal safety as well as controlling access to facilities.  “Despite the negative impact on our economy, CS Technologies Plus is seeing an increase in the demand for security and video surveillance solutions. Unfortunately with higher crime rates, there is a greater need for protecting assets and property”, states Jim Welch, Security/Surveillance Specialist.Follow CS Technologies Plus Blog

The staff at CST continues to operate their blog called “Tech Talk” which is updated monthly versus weekly with articles that cover a wide range of technology topics.  Staying up to date with changes in technology is a little easier when you read their Tech Talk blog. Sometimes silly, sometimes fun, always informative, this blog sifts through technology’s impact on our daily lives to give our readers usable stuff.  Best of all, it’s free, no fees, no cost, no sales.  “Tech Talk” can be found at http://cstechplus.wordpress.com.

The Internet division, CSOnline, continues to be a local Internet Service provider offering Internet connectivity, web Internet-Advertisinghosting and design services on a regional level since 1996.  In 2012 the company upgraded their webhosting technologies enabling them to create and offer more modern day search-engine friendly websites with clean permalink structures, integrated link management, a user-friendly back-end, and the ability to support plugins, widgets, multi-user blogging and incorporate social media.

In 2013, CS Technologies Plus looks forward to new products, services and opportunities.  “Thirty years of continual business is a huge milestone for any company, but even more for a technology based company”, states Groner.  “I am really proud of our longevity, our employees and our technical capabilities.  The past 30 years has thrown many significant challenges at us, as there is always on-going learning and certifications when technology is involved.”  Groner adds, “2013 and beyond won’t be any different.”

Written by:
Holly Lynn Berlin (Gibbons), General Manager
Jim Welch, Security/Surveillance Specialist
Lisa Groner, President/CEO

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A Smart Approach to Campus Security

Most colleges have several emergency platforms in place to protect their students and faculty.  This includes access control systems that control access to buildings, classrooms, offices, etc.  Also in place are powerful CCTV systems that canvas the campus as well as emergency call stations that are dotted all over the campus.  But one challenge that colleges face is, how to get emergency and event notifications to students as well as to visitors and Alumni who are not in the campus database.  Laws in place state that everyone on campus must be notified of dangerous situations, 24/7. How is this done?

smartphone

Some universities have turned to GPS cellular notification systems that utilize the most widely carried notification device, the Smart Phone.  (Currently it’s estimated that 52 percent of the population of universities have smart phones.  By 2016 it is expected to be at around 90 percent.)

 These systems will signal a smart phone and alert users of any emergency incidents or even non-emergency events happening on campus. This technology creates a geo fence around any sized area and alerts anyone with the app downloaded. Inside the geo fence, you receive the specific alerts.  Outside the geo fence, you do not receive the alerts.smartphone2

 An alert can be sent campus-wide of an emergency or to a single building that may just be without hot water, for example.  In the event of a crime, the app will also send a photo or video of a suspect.

leftAnother hi tech approach to campus safety is using the smart phone in conjunction with campus security systems to create mobile alerts both to and from the students and faculty.  The student or faculty member registers with the campus security to use the system with their personal information, cell phone and picture.  In the event of an emergency, security can be notified via cell phone.  Even if the caller cannot speak, the campus police have the GPS location of the caller, the picture registered with the caller and can respond.

Another example of how this works is as follows:  A student is working late on a project.  Its dark and they may be afraid to walk to their dorm or to their vehicle.  They just log into the system, enter their location, destination and estimated time to arrive to the dorm or car, etc.  The student can set a specific “alarm time” that if they do not check in when they arrive something is wrong.parkinglot

If the student is late arriving at their destination, the security officer operating the CCTV system turns a campus Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera in the correct direction to locate a student in the route that may be having trouble. Larger universities have well over 100 PTZ cameras and can have over 600 stationary cameras in place!

camera1The system will even check in with the student with a text, half way, to verify all is well.  When the student arrives, they check in and log out of the system.

camera2Unfortunately, the need for campus security will increase.  Integrators will utilize every technology possible to increase safety and speed up emergency notification and response.  In the years to follow, the Smart Phone will be the personal device of choice to accomplish it.

- Jim Welch, Technology Specialist

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by | December 19, 2012 · 2:46 pm

Before you buy that Windows Surface Tablet!

With the recent release of Microsoft Windows Tablet, you may be consider purchasing this tablet, …BUT before you delve into this class of tablet, let’s do a little bit of surfacing, shall we?

The new Microsoft Surface Tablet is being offered in two configurations/specs.   The current released version contains Windows RT, which runs on an ARM Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, which is the standard processor found in many Android tablets.  This is important because it means that you will not be able to install any legacy windows applications into this Windows RT tablet.  You must visit Microsoft Store in order to download exclusive apps which will tailor to this particular operating system. The starting price for the Windows RT tablet is $499.

The other version of Surface tablet, and soon to be released, will have Windows 8 Pro operating system. This will have the familiar Intel Processor (Ivy Bride, Core i5), allowing the device to run previous windows application as far back as Windows XP. This version will also allow installation of RT applications as well as third party software.  My prediction is that the Windows 8 Pro version will have a much higher price tag than that of its RT cousin.  I would guess the price will be around $999 w/ 4GB RAM  (RT version has 2GB RAM). The keyboard option will mostly like be an extra $99. Think super “portable laptop with touchscreen”.

For more information, visit Microsoft’s Surface Tablet website.

 

Chrissy Le
Technology Marketing Specialist

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Need to Re-Direct A Website?

html redirect

One of the most requested items we get is “How do I make an html redirect page”.

Strangely enough this is one of the easiest things to accomplish, but then anything is easy when you know how to do it!

Here’s the code:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN”> <html> <head> <title>Your Page Title</title> <meta http-equiv=”REFRESH” content=”0;url=http://www.the-domain-you-want-to-redirect-to.com”></HEAD> <BODY> Optional page text here. </BODY> </HTML>

Code Description:

<meta http-equiv=”REFRESH” content=”0;url=http://www.the-domain-you-want-to-redirect-to.com”> is the part that actually does the redirecting.

The number preceding the url (in this case zero) tells the browser the number of seconds to wait before redirecting to the new url.

You could set this to 5 and add some optional text to your page – something like:

“Please wait while we redirect you to our new site”.

That’s it! Just copy the code, save it (i.e. save as index.html) and your html redirect will work perfectly.

Our web designers know I don’t like working in code, I am more of a “What you See is What you Get” kind of a Gal. So, If I can follow this procedure so can you.

Happy Coding!

Holly Berlin, General Manager

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Video Surveillance: Thriving Well In the Cloud

With the rush for developers to move integrated services to the “Cloud,” Video Surveillance found itself at home, seeing the benefits of becoming based as Software as a Service, (SaaS).  As IP based cameras find the tipping point, as it is called, where they are fast becoming more affordable, compared to analog cameras, new opportunities introduce themselves.  This IP revolution has spurred the integration of video surveillance into the IT world and with all its bells and whistles, has moved seamlessly to the Cloud.  This technology is being realized both in the residential market as well as the commercial market.  Residential video is commonly being offered as an addition to intrusion systems, utilizing the digital communication technologies of both IP and cellular alarm communicators.

Why the Cloud?  What are the benefits?

For starters, cloud-based systems include lower and more consistent costs. Using a cloud-based system decreases the need for the huge initial investment.   Instead of a one-time pay-out and ongoing maintenance charges, a company is invoiced on a monthly basis. There is no upfront investment in complicated servers, NVRs or software licenses.  This creates a much lower cost of entry. Setup is much easier and the system becomes much like a plug-and-play peripheral. IT responsibilities for the system shift to the Cloud’s particular vendor, which reduces the need for on-hand technical staff and potentially eliminates the need for backup systems, issues that are especially helpful to smaller companies. Web-based access also provides easy management for key personnel, working offsite anywhere in the world.  In the world of video surveillance, a Cloud-based system would provide video management software (VMS) and allow access to video views from any of the home or company’s IP cameras, all connected securely to the system via Internet.

How About Video Storage?

Video storage is another Cloud-based service crucial to the surveillance industry. Archived video from a company’s cameras is stored in the Cloud; in actuality on a server in another location with remote access via Internet.  The customer does not need to purchase and maintain their own physical data storage devices.  The Cloud video system providers have massive data centers around the world that provide the necessary capacity and 24/7 access. This approach is a fast, accelerating trend in the video surveillance arena because of the simple advantage of lower costs. Cloud-based video storage is a fraction of what Network Video Recorders, (NVRs) cost when measured per gigabyte. The security of video images stored off-site is never a cause for concern as security is a top priority for Cloud-based system providers.

With storage residing in the Cloud rather than on a local server with analytics firmware, the capabilities of “edge-based” devices like cameras become very important. Video Analytics processing that takes place inside the camera reduces the need to send vast quantities of raw data over the network, sparing bandwidth. Smarter cameras at the edge can also provide video analytics such as virtual tripwires, vertical movement, object left behind, etc. Variable image resolution technology would enable an unnecessary part of an image (such as the sky) to be coded at a lower resolution to save data file size. In effect, this new camera technology will do more out at the “edge” of the network. These features will make network cameras efficient and an even more valuable system component to systems that utilize Cloud-based services.

Analog cameras have served the industry well, and still find applications in the market today.  But The Internet has been changing this. Cloud based video surveillance gives us the method to stay efficiently connected, efficiently staffed, and in the know, all while not breaking the bank.  Cloud-based services will open up new possibilities for customers utilizing IP video systems. Many of these customers will be smaller businesses that are not able to invest in a large on-site network infrastructure, but will benefit immensely from the technology.

By:  Jim Welch, Technology Specialist

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