How the Microsoft Surface Studio won over this skeptical graphic designer

As a videographer and motion graphic designer for nearly 20 years, I’ve seen my fair share of new design tools –from the clunky Gateway I used when I was first starting out, to Boxx, Alienware, and my current HP Z640.

I’m always willing to try out the latest and greatest tools, but when it comes to my workstation, I am staunchly in favor of desktops over laptops due to their vast superiority in processing power, memory, and storage. Laptops have come a long way, but when you are working with HD video and graphics-intensive files in After Effects, inferior computing power can make a difference in whether you meet your deadline and also whether you meet your vision of how you want your video/design to look. (more…)

Quick cubicle hacks for a healthier, more productive you

They’re not physically demanding, but desk jobs take a toll on your health.

Sitting is the new smoking” is a common refrain of the ergonomic movement. Research shows that sitting all day has adverse health effects. Sitting for extended periods of time or completing repetitive tasks can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which account for approximately 33 percent of all worker injury and illness cases.

Having a more functional and ergonomic workstation isn’t just beneficial for your back, eyes, and circulation; it also improves your overall productivity. No one wants to dive into a challenging project when their eyes are strained and legs are asleep, right? (more…)

4 situations when leasing IT hardware makes more sense than buying

lease-buyIs it better to buy or lease IT hardware? It can be a dilemma for any company.

Buying gives you more control over your IT assets and can allow faster purchasing and maintenance. Leasing keeps your hardware up to date, creates predictable expenses, and helps you keep pace with competitors.

Over the years, we’ve fielded a number of questions about buying and leasing and have helped organizations work through the pros and cons for their employees and business. In some cases, the path is clear: Leasing can make more sense than buying.

If any of the following situations look familiar, your company should take a closer look at your leasing options – they may be your best bet. (more…)

Why SSDs are taking over in the data center

Intel SSDThe reports of hard disk drives’ (HDDs) death have not been greatly exaggerated. That’s because solid state drives (SSDs) continue their takeover in consumer devices and the data center.

Sure, HDDs and SSDs each have their own advantages, but the latter is the more modern technology that continues advancing. As prices drop, SSDs are proving their advantages to end users and IT managers.

But there’s another huge motivation for large organizations to pick SSDs over HDDs: complex data. I’ll explain. (more…)

The 7 questions you need to ask before starting a 1:1 initiative

one-to-one-initiativeHow can you ace a 1:1 initiative? It starts with doing your homework.

If your school district is planning a 1:1 initiative, you’re probably weighing your options against costs and security – and those are valid considerations (more on them later). But district officials might be failing to think about how devices will be used, the necessary storage, and durability. So what other hardware considerations should IT be thinking about?

For a lot of school districts, two hardware choices make the most practical sense: Chromebooks or Windows machines. Both choices are affordable and offer compelling features. But which one you ultimately choose depends on your students. Let’s study up on the questions you should ask when deciding between a Dell Windows device or Chromebook. (more…)

What ENERGY STAR and other eco-friendly labels actually mean

green ITRoses are red, violets are blue, your device is green – wait, is that true?

The largest hardware providers are building more energy efficient products while revamping manufacturing to generate fewer emissions and hazardous chemicals. But can you tell whether the laptops your organization is about to purchase are completely energy efficient? There’s no lie detector test, but there are eco symbols – and they’re everywhere. These labels offer a simple reference point for a device’s degree of eco-friendliness, from efficiency to manufacturing methods.

How can you determine if your laptop has environmental integrity? Look for one of these seven eco designations – here’s what they mean. (more…)

Here’s what you need to know before your business buys a drone

DRONELike the Pony Express 150 years ago, the Drone Express may change the way you get mail and packages. Of course, the Drone Express is still a few years away, but drones are allowing organizations to think up new ways to conduct business.

Insurance companies, for example, rely on drones to inspect houses for damage; government engineers use them to examine buildings, bridges, and railroads; utility companies check phone lines with drones; and law enforcement and fire departments employ drones to scope dangerous scenes like burning buildings or forest fires.

But as you consider how drones can help your own business, there are a number of issues and regulations around commercial drones to know and address before your first flight. Here are the most important ones to consider to ensure your drone launch lifts off successfully. (more…)

You asked, we answered: Explaining 6 questions about warranties

warrantyWarranties get a bad rap. The common – and often incorrect – refrains we hear are that warranties are too expensive, too weak, and just ineffective. Warranties, relegated to a subsection of a larger contract, are glossed over in many transactions.

But warranties are more than fine print. Organizations buying hardware – everything from laptops to networking components to servers – should pay close attention to standard and expanded warranty options. Are they always necessary? Maybe not. But warranties are akin to hardware insurance, protecting investments for organizations of all sizes.

Still, many IT professionals are unsure of what their warranties entail. We’ve assembled six questions we’re often asked about warranties below to strip the terminology down to the basics so you can easily decide what you need and what you don’t. (more…)

Keeping IT equipment safe from power outages

CyberPower on uninterruptible power suppliesSummer is power season, as demand for electric power spikes. Air conditioning and other power demands strain utilities, making brownouts (temporary drops in voltage) and blackouts as common as mosquito bites. Not to mention severe weather events like thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes that can knock out electricity.

For many, these outages are mere inconveniences. But organizations risk losing sensitive data when a sudden power outage knocks computers and servers offline, especially if the power remains out for hours. A surge protector won’t save you from these outages, no matter the time of year.

The first line of defense against brownouts and blackouts is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which provides continuous power during an outage. But different organizations and different hardware will need different power protections. By understanding power requirements and the types of UPS that are available, you can give your organization the protection it deserves. (more…)

What do you do when a virtual machine becomes a noisy neighbor?

Virtualized application performanceThe #1 pain point in the data center is poor performance. That’s what we found from our study of 1,000 data center professionals, who every day watch virtual machines (VM) conflict with databases, slow each other down, and eat up hours spent fine-tuning storage and tackling trouble tickets.

A huge contributor to this performance pain is what’s called “the noisy neighbor problem” — a VM consuming too many resources at the expense of others.

The problem stems from LUNs, the conventional storage groups made up of dozens or even hundreds of VMs. When one of them gets noisy, demanding more than its share of performance reserves, it slows down its neighbors and throws the entire LUN into chaos.

Because they’re built on that LUN architecture, most storage environments running VMs face this challenge. Stopping these rogue VMs is difficult because they’re nearly invisible to scrutiny and correction.

Here’s how you put the issue to rest and guarantee every VM’s performance: isolation. By eliminating the LUN and giving every VM its own neighborhood through VM-aware storage, you can more precisely control the resources apps can demand. (more…)