Author Archives: cstechplus

CS TechBits – Applying “Text Effects” in Word 2010

Our trainers: Carol Smith, Holly Berlin and Chrissy Le will frequently be posting TechBits on our Tech Talk blog. This weeks video will show you how to apply “Text Effects” in a Microsoft Word 2010 document.

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The Need For Advanced Security Communication

The integration of security systems into the digital world has opened up many doors to create robust systems to allow us to stay connected to our home or business with a smart phone or laptop.  But there is another, critical advantage that has closed the door on serious security system vulnerabilities. Redundant Communication.

Over the years, systems were connected with standard telephone land lines, (POTS lines).  Many events have gone unreported to the monitoring station when the land lines were cut prior to the intruder entering the home or business, resulting in no communication to the central station and no response from authorities.  The loss is great. In addition, many businesses and some homes as well, have installed video surveillance camera systems in addition to security alarm systems to better enhance security and provide a visual record in the event of a break in to aid in the prosecution of would-be intruders.  But here is the problem:

The Scenario:

Intruder cases home or business and is aware of security system.  Then before breaking in, the intruder cuts all landlines to the premises, disabling communication from the security systems, and then proceeds to gain entry into the premises.  The Intruder sees a camera system in place and knows that a recording device such as a DVR is onsite recording the event.  After the intruder cleans out all the valuables from the premises, the recording device is located and taken from the premises upon exiting. When the home or business owner arrives to the premise, they find that they have been robbed, but wonder why the security system did not call authorities.  When they try to check the recording device for events, they realize it is missing.  Therefore, no video evidence is available either.

The Security System Solution:

With the addition of a cellular backup communicator, the system reports over both landline and cellular communication.  With the landlines cut, the cellular communicator is still able to report and the authorities are still dispatched.

A more recent technology has been added to security panels called Advanced Protection Logic, APL. This was developed to respond to the “Smash and Grab” action, where an intruder cuts phone lines, gains entry through a door that would normally have an entry delay and quickly disables any additional communication by smashing or removing the device from the premises.  Normally, no signals would be sent by either landline or cellular communication until the delay expires.  This is especially an issue with integrated security panels.  APL sends a signal to central station immediately when the door is opened, but it is stored in hold register, awaiting the correct security code to be received.  If the correct code is not received within the delay period, it is read as a valid signal and the authorities are dispatched.  If the correct code is sent in time, then the signal is dumped.x

The Video Surveillance Solution:

The advancement of network cameras has made a digital solution for video surveillance more affordable.  Up to 6 indoor or outdoor network cameras can be installed and managed through an IP Communicator.  Rather than video being stored on the premises, the video is immediately sent off-site and stored at the provider’s servers.  No recording devices are present on the premises and any events are captured and sent off-site for later review.  Nothing can be removed by the intruder to destroy the video evidence.

As the Information Technology world advances, the Security world will further integrate with it and the solutions and possibilities will advance with it.  We have come a long way since the conventional burglar alarm system and the need for advanced physical security will continue to grow.

Jim Welch – Technology Specialist

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IT Devices as Accessories?

I felt so totally stuck in nineteenth century technology during my trip to Seattle three weeks ago that I almost threw my business cards away. I didn’t want to admit I worked for a tech company. I now know that my next IT purchase has to be a tablet device. Seriously.

I expected to see a lot of new tech devices in Seattle, but the number in the Akron/Canton airport was amazing. People were walking around talking to their Bluetooth connected smartphones or tablets things. The only individuals who were lugging full sized laptops were the ones in business suits, looking both uncomfortable and out of place. And me.

Then there’s the issue of weight of device. This is a huge thing when travelling. I don’t care how light that laptop is, it’s still 42 times as heavy as a tablet when you finally manage to get to your boarding gate.

And the room it takes up in your carry-on? That’s the equivalent to two pair of sandals or seven souvenirs. I could have three different brands of tablets for the weight and room needed for a single laptop. (This is calculated without factoring in the weight of the power pack or battery.)

Mind you, I don’t expect a tablet device to have the capability of my desktop or even my laptop. That would be like purchasing a Smart Car and expecting it to carry the load of a half-ton pickup.

I do expect to look like I embrace technology, get online and never   miss a play in Words with Friends or check-in on FourSquare.

Yes, people, your IT device of choice now determines your level of tech literacy. People look with envy at the latest (but not necessary greatest). Once again, appearance is everything.

Past generations were advised to dress for success. In the 21st Century, we need to pick our IT items for success. In an era where your car can be started by your smart phone, open your garage, parallel park for you, and call for reservations at the George V in Paris, choosing the ‘right’ IT device to travel and be seen with is critical.

Oh, and for those of you who participate in dating? Tablet devices are the new pickup tools, better than babies and dogs.

Carol Smith, Training Manager

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A Basket to Catch the Apple

For as long as there were personal computers, Microsoft had been the leader in software development and engineering for operating systems, and they stood firm on that belief. Today they are going to build a basket to catch the apple.

This week, Microsoft is expected to introduce a tablet computer to run their new Windows 8 operating system. It is the first time in the company’s 37-year history that it will offer a computer of its own. Google also has made waves in channeling the same plan as it announced plans to pay $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility, a maker of Android’s smartphones and tablets.

With the tremendous success of Apple, now the most highly valued company in the world, has shown rivals that in order to create superior technology was to “make the whole widget”. In the most recent  quarter, Apple’s revenue from iPad was $6.59 billion, more than Microsoft’s sales of Windows.

For Microsoft, making a tablet is a risky venture. Windows has a steadfast relationship with its hardware partners. The plan could erode the commitment those partners have to Windows since Microsoft will effectively be competing with them for sales.

Also, Microsoft has a mix track record. It makes the Xbox 360, but took years of losses due to manufacturing problems. They also failed with the Zune, which is a music player that was designed to compete with the iPod.

The Microsoft tablet is expected to use Windows 8 RT, based on a class of microprocessors called ARM chips. That is the same class of chips inside the iPad.

Let’s hope Microsoft will be successful in catching the golden Apple. Competition is always a good thing.  All comments are welcome for discussion!

Chrissy Le, Technology Marketing Specialist

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Tech and Pseudo Invasion of Privacy

We hear a lot about our privacy being invaded by such modern technologies as cell phones, Twitter, FaceBook, credit and debit card usage tracking, etc. I wonder, though, did we ever really have the privacy we’re claiming to have lost?

An immediate example that comes to mind is the telepathic communication between parents living in small communities and close-knit neighborhoods when their children do something wrong. I know I never got home before the news of my disgraceful behavior did. This happened even when we were living with no telephone.

Then there were the party lines. Do you remember them? Anyone could listen in. (How many times did you drop a handset when someone yelled, “I know you’re there listening, you get off right now or I’m telling your mother!”)

Of course, the parental communication zone had nothing on the school gossip-rumor incubation zone. Age never mattered. It began in kindergarten. I don’t think it ever stops. The topics may change over time – from who got a new bicycle to who was dating who or who got what job – but it is still gossip and rumor.

It’s a very active part of society. From co-workers talking to each other to the people who you see publically, news of what you think, do, say, wear and dress gets around quickly….although not necessarily accurately. I’m convinced when they complete translations of cave paintings, they’re going to discover they were the tabloids of the day.

What technology has brought to the mix is just a function of speed and distance. While it may have taken news of bad behavior about 15 minutes to reach your folks, today that same behavior announcement can travel around the world twice in about 10 minutes – in multiple languages – with multiple twists on hairstyles, companions, clothing, locations, money spent, and/or drugs consumed.

It’s still the same old same old gossip/rumor mill.

Only now it’s on steroids.

And satellites.

Carol Smith / Training Manager

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Holey Magnolias

Blogging this week about FotoFlexer, another online photo editing website. www.fotoflexer.com With FotoFlexer you can edit photos from photobucket, myspace, facebook, flickr, Picasa Web Albums, or by uploading a photo directly from your computer.
I uploaded a photo of my mom and dad’s Magnolia tree to FotoFlexer. Here is what the photo looked like before editing.  I love, love, love the pink and when the Magnolias are in full bloom, they are magnificent to look at. A true sign of Spring.

After checking out all of features of FotoFlexer, I decided to edit the photo making just a couple edits, I added the “Lomoish” effect to the photo and I then decided to turn this photo into a poster (which is a feature in FotoFlexer). Then I simply added a title to my poster and some text. Well now what do you think? This all took a matter of virtually minutes. How fun!


When you are ready, give FlotoFlexer a spin (be sure to experiment) and let us know what you think! We didn’t see any pricing on their website, so we will assume that this editor is free for the time being, but just note that could change at any time.

 Since we are on the search for photo editors that are as good as the retired Picnik, be sure to share any you are using with us, so we can in-turn share them with all of our followers. 

Happy Photo Editing!
Have fun and be creative!

-Holly Berlin, General Manager

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Well I’ll Be A Monkey’s Uncle!

Picnik pioneered online photo editing, but recently closed its doors. It did not take long for another online photo editor to be developed.

PicMonkey is a  new online photo editor which does a great job, if not better than what Picnik could have done.

The user interface is very intuitive and loads fast. The features range from the basic crop and sharpen to applying advanced effects, all with a click of a button. I decided to try out this new editor to see what it can do.

This is the control panel where you do all your editing. The creative options are located on the left hand side. I loaded a photo (taken by my manager, Holly Berlin), and played with some of the features.

In the Basic Edits, I tried my hand at recoloring this photo.  I tested out the saturation and temperature feature.  Next I worked in the Effects panel, which gives you a one-click effects ranging from Urban effects to Polaroid style coloration.  I decided to work with the “Orton” effects, which gives the photo a soft magical feel.

Here is the result:

According to PicMonkey, certain features are free for the time being, but may have a cost applied to them in the future. If you would like to try out this great new online photo editor, go here: http://www.picmonkey.com/.  Tell us what you think!

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