Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tips to manage employees working from remote locations

Operating in a highly competitive global environment, companies today strive to provide the best of services leveraging the best talent, irrespective of the talent’s location. Increasingly, companies are adopting the concept of remote working, including ‘Work from home’ to engage and retain talent. Technology has also helped in propagating this concept through various new tools/applications and sophisticated communication media.

Where, employees working from home have the opportunity to achieve a better work-life balance. At the same time, some associates can easily feel distant and de-motivated when they are in an isolated environment. This can happen for a number of reasons, including the lack of direct/face-to-face interaction with the manager, co-workers and clients.

Here is lists out important factors which play an important role while managing associates working from home or remote locations:

• Reward & recognition
: Recognising an associate for doing something special and applauding his/her efforts, acts as a motivator for associates. This helps in developing a culture of appreciation.

• Communication
: Regular communication with remote associates makes a big difference in keeping them motivated. Communication channels (conference calls, video calls etc.) blended with enabling technology (webcams, secured and high speed network) play an important role in involving and engaging remote associates. Scheduling face-to-face meetings (video calls) at regular intervals paves way for interpersonal interactions.

• Building trust
: Motivating associates, who work from home/remote location is as good as expressing our faith in them. Associates need to know that they have their manager’s trust in terms of work ethics and ability to make decisions without direct supervision and micro management.

• Regular feedback: Seeking associate feedback on what's working for them and what's not in terms of performing their duties from a remote location helps them feel connected and develops a ‘caring organisation’ approach, which in turn helps to keep associates happy at work.

• Right technology for remote associates
: Companies need to ensure remote associates have the right technology to get their job done, i.e. high speed data cards, latest laptops with web cam, secured communication tools (RSA token), BlackBerry or smart phone etc. Providing the right technology and open lines of communications enhances greater productivity from everyone.

• Assign a dedicated technical support lead/ manager to promptly address technical problems for remote associates
• Give them full and transparent access to the office systems/applications (using secured tools)
• Establish regular log-on times to help them better plan their day
• Guard against making unreasonable demands from remote associates and ensuring that they have a balanced life
• Ensure remote associates are part of regular email groups, so that they are fully updated in terms of company policies and other communication

• Do not focus on pampering your remote staff, rather focus on engaging them
• Don’t micromanage to the last extent, as being in a remote location; trust is the most important factor for them
• Refrain from being judgmental about the behavior of an associate from his/her emails. Written communication can go miscomprehended at times
• Unless you have a specific reason, don’t question them on how they spent their day, just because you aren't there to monitor them
• Don’t schedule ad-hoc meetings at short notice. This disturbs their work schedule and impacts their productivity

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ten essential tips for searching the Web

inding just the right page among the billions on the Web requires not only a search engine but also a bit of know-how. Here is a selection of my favorite tips for searching the Web.

1. Search for a phrase

To search for an exact, complete phrase and not just its constituent words, put it in quotation marks. For example, instead of typing at sunrise on my birthdaytype ”at sunrise on my birthday”. The number of hits will shrink dramatically, as you’ll see only pages that include that exact phrase.

2. Be more specific

If you want to find articles about managing bookmarks in Safari on an iPhone running iOS 7, don’t search for just manage bookmarks. Throw all those terms in: manage bookmarks safari iphone ios 7. The more information you provide, the more useful your results are likely to be.

3. Exclude a word

To make sure your search for information on the connector your iPhone uses doesn’t return matches about an atmospheric phenomenon or a fictional race car, put a hyphen (-) in front of terms that should disqualify a page from appearing in Google’s results—for example, lightning -thunder -storm -McQueen.
Get more specific by excluding certain words from your search.

4. Use your own words

If you visit in Google Chrome, you can click the microphone icon on the right side of the search field and speak your search terms out loud. As soon as you finish talking, Google displays matching results and sometimes offers a summary aloud.
In Google Chrome, go to the Google homepage, click the microphone icon (top), and start talking. Whatever you say appears on screen (bottom), followed shortly thereafter by matching search results.

5. Try an advanced search

If you want much more control over your searches, such as specifying which geographic regions to search in, how recently created a page should be, or the page’s reading level, go to Google’s Advanced Search page or, after performing a basic search, click the gear icon in the upper-right corner of the results page and choose Advanced Search from the pop-up menu.
Google’s Advanced Search page lets you fill out a form with options for a detailed, specific search.

6. Convert, calculate, and more

You can also use Google to find all sorts of information besides lists of webpages. Google can handle calculations (try 104 * 36.8), currency conversions (185 dollars in euros), time-zone conversions (time in Paris), weather forecasts (weather San Diego), word definitions (define: pedantic), and a great many other things.
You don’t need a calculator (or a calculator app) if you have a browser open.

7. Learn from the source

A great place to learn dozens of additional tips for using Google is Google itself. For example, Google’s “Basic search help” and “Tips & Tricks” pages have loads of tricks and shortcuts you can use.

8. Simplify Google URLs

One thing I’ve come to dislike about Google, however, is that the links on its results page are all Google URLs that redirect you to the original page. For example, if you search for macworld, the first hit is for However, if you try to copy the URL, it’ll look something like this:
And, depending on your browser, this sort of URL may also throw off your browsing history, making it difficult to see which sites you’ve been to.
Luckily, you can solve this problem with a browser extension. My pick for Apple’s Safari is Shaun Inman’s free Detox. (It was originally designed for Twitter, but it works great for Google, too.) For Google Chrome, first install the free Tampermonkey, and then add the script Scrub Google Redirect Links. For Mozilla Firefox, try Wladimir Palant’s free Google/Yandex search link fix.

9. Use another search engine

Even the best Google search won’t help you find pages that Google hasn’t indexed, or items that are on page 5987 out of 28,001. If Google isn’t cutting it, you have alternatives. Competitors, including Bing, Yahoo,, and DuckDuckGo, may point you to sites that don’t show up in Google. And because each search engine prioritizes search results differently, the page you’re looking for may be more prominent in one than in another. If you get stuck, trying the same search in another engine may do the trick.

10. Try a metasearch

If you frequently need to search across multiple engines (and, perhaps, on highly specific databases that store information not indexed in general-purpose public search engines), you might be a good candidate for DevonAgent Pro (4 out of 5 rating), which can query many sites and services at once and summarize search results in a way that exposes connections between related concepts.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TOOLs for Editing photos

A good camera is not all that's required for fantastic snapshots. Some  free apps and software for it...
These simple tools will let you crop, rotate, and retouch your pictures, and will even let you add that extra tadka - photo frames and special effects - to your snapshots with a single click of your mouse button.


Professionals might swear by Adobe Photoshop, but there are a whole bunch of users who've discovered the magic of an internet-based photo editor called Pixlr. This online tool, like any advanced image editor, comes with the layers option; over 25 graphic filters (blur, sharpen, diffuse, pixelate, emboss and engrave), a complete tool-set (stamp-clone, ink, eraser, magicwand, gradient-fill ), and even photo adjustment options (levels, curves, hue and saturation, brightness and contrast). All you have to do, is open the picture you want to edit in the app, work on it using the tools at your disposal, and then save the finished image back onto your machine.

Now, in case you're a first-timer, and find Pixlr too daunting, you could try out the simpler Pixlr Express or Pixlr-o-matic .

Express uses simple onetouch buttons to make adjustments in contrast and colour, to auto-fix your snapshots, and even rotate and resize them. Using this tool you can apply photo effects, add digital frames to your pictures and even overlay your images with text. Pixlr-o-matic simplifies things even further. Import a JPEG from your computer and you can apply readymade effects to your images. Simply select the effect you like and you're done. Pixlr Express, Pixlr-o-matic are also available as free apps for Android and iOS.

Picasa 3.9 

If you have a dodgy internet connection, then editing images online might not work out in your favour. Instead, it would be better if you made changes to your pictures using software on your PC before posting them to your web album or social network.

Picasa, which is a 14.3MB free download, lets you straighten and crop photographs, and then even lets you use filters, effects and quick fix tools like Auto Contrast, Auto Colour and Retouch. Creating a collage or a poster is just as simple, and takes just a few clicks.

People in group photos can also be tagged: tag a person in one snapshot, and Picasa's brilliant built-in face-detection algorithm takes over, identifying the same person in other images.

Additionally, this software comes with a 'batch edit' feature that lets you automate repetitive tasks across multiple files. Once you are done, images can be uploaded directly to your Google+ account (with the face tags intact), or exported to another folder, with a watermark.

Be Funky 

What is life without options? If you're looking for a tool that's simpler than Pixlr, but more advanced than Pixlr Express and Pixlr-omatic, you might want to try Be Funky. This web tool simplifies the process of photo editing by offering users a ready-to-use library of special effects - nearly 30 of them - and you can even fix common photo problems like bad lighting, digital noise, fuzzy colours and details with a single click. Additionally, it lets you share your edited images directly on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr and even print if you have a printer at hand. The best part, you can take this tool with you on your smartphone - Be Funky has a fully-functioning app for Android and iOS devices.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

New discovery dubbed as ‘Li-Fi‘ to replace Wi-Fi in China

Chinese scientists have successfully developed a new cheaper way of getting connected to internet by using signals sent through light bulbs instead of radio frequencies as in 'Wi-Fi', a move expected to radically change process of online connectivity. 

Four computers can be connected to internet through one- watt LED bulb using light as a carrier instead of traditional radio frequencies, as in Wi-Fi, said Chi Nan, an information technology professor with Shanghai's Fudan University. 

Under the new discovery dubbed as 'Li-Fi', a light bulb with embedded microchips can produce data rates as fast as 150 megabits per second, which is speedier than the average broadband connection in China, said Chi, who leads a Li-Fi research team including scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

The term Li-Fi was coined by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh in the UK and refers to a type of visible light communication technology that delivers a networked, mobile, high-speed communication solution in a similar manner as Wi-Fi. 

With Li-Fi cost-effective as well as efficient, netizens should be excited to view 10 sample Li-Fi kits that will be on display at the China International Industry Fair that will kick off on November 5 in Shanghai. 

The current wireless signal transmission equipment is expensive and low in efficiency, Chi said. 

"As for cell phones, millions of base stations have been established around the world to strengthen the signal but most of the energy is consumed on their cooling systems," she said. 

"The energy utilisation rate is only 5 per cent," state-run Xinhua news agency quoted her as saying. 

Li-Fi was touted as a boon to China netizen community, the highest in the world with about 600 million connections. 

Compared with base stations, the number of light bulbs that can be used is practically limitless. 

Meanwhile, Chinese people are replacing the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs with LED light bulbs at a fast pace. 

"Wherever there is an LED light bulb, there is an Internet signal. Turn off the light and there is no signal," Chi said. 

However, there is still a long way to go to make Li-Fi a commercial success. 

"If the light is blocked, then the signal will be cut off," Chi said. 

More importantly, according to the scientist, the development of a series of key related pieces of technology, including light communication controls as well as microchip design and manufacturing, is still in an experimental period.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FEW supercool USB gadgets

There is no computer port more versatile than the USB. You can use it to connect external storage, a DVD drive, mouse and printer, but did you know that you could also use this amazingpiece of technology to keep your coffee warm and launch surface-to-air missiles? Savio D'Souza and Ashutosh Desai list some...

Zooming in...

Do ants have black eyes, or brown? What is nail gunk made of? Is that really fungus on my motichur laddoo? It's true: you'll never know when you'll need a USB microscope. Like professional magnifiers, these nifty gizmos are equipped with a focus ring; come with white LEDs to ensure the images are clear and bright, and you also get software that lets you capture videos at 30fps - and still images at 640x480px resolutions.

Depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can pick these thingamajigs that promise you magnifications of up to 800x. Connect one to your laptop, and you're promised hours and hours of insect watching (if you can get them to pose under the lights, that is).

Price: Rs 2,700 to 4,700

Keeping it top secret
Those fun memos shared between office cronies had best be kept a secret. We wouldn't want the office snitch to get his grubby paws on those. Well, he can't and he won't . Not if you have one of these nifty paper shredders. Feed all incriminating documents into this gobbler. Then, distribute the shreds between four to five wastepaper baskets. Hah!

Price: Rs 1,399 (wastebaskets not included)


Nice and bright
Now you never have to type in the dark. Simply switch to USB-powered lamps once the lights are out. From boring night lamps that illuminate your keyboard, to hipster lava lamps and geeky plasma balls that endorse your avant-garde lifestyle, you'll find all of these - starting at a few hundred rupees - on the interweb. The world started with a 'Let there be Light' . 'Amen,' we say.

Price: Rs 200 onwards

Protect your airspace 

Offices are dangerous places, and who knows what the bloke in the cubicle next to yours is plotting. It therefore makes perfect sense to invest in a USB Missile Launcher. Install the software that comes with this SAM launcher, and you can control your strikes from the control panel that appears on your laptop screen. A launching sound gives your target fair warning of an imminent strike, but not enough time to dodge what's coming his way. With one of these by your laptop, everyone will know who's boss. Yeah, we meant you.

Price:Rs 2,700

Fan, boy
Let them say what they want, but sitting at your desk all day - whether you're sweating it out over Facebook, or keeping abreast of the latest videos on YouTube - can be a lot of hard work. And what's the use of slogging at your keyboard if you can't treat yourself to some creature comforts? The AC might be ON at full blast, but having your own personal fan in the office is cooler still.

Depending on your tastes, you can pick from a range of designs that fit in with your sensibilities and budgets.


Price: Between Rs 200 and 3,000

Some like it hot...
Time flies when you're vegetating at your computer, and it's only when you put that coffee cup to your lips you realize it's been a while since you had settled down with it. Instead of heading to a microwave oven, go online and buy yourself a USB Cup Warmer. It does not require batteries and includes an ON/OFF switch. It will perform the simple job of preventing hot beverages from losing their warmth and you from losing your cool.

Price: Rs 499

... and some like it cold 
If you like your lager chilled, then you must get the USB Mini Fridge. Besides, it lets you keep your beer right where you want it: Within reach. Just like the cup warmer, it does not require any driver installation. Plug it in and let it chill. And since it can accommodate just one can at a time, it will also keep your consumption within limits... probably.

Price: Rs 1,999

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

7 best laptops within Rs 30,000

Could you suggest a laptop within a budget of Rs 30,000.

For those who've asked, all notebook PCs that we've suggested below are equipped to handle basic computing tasks: internet browsing (research, social networking, e-mail ), office productivity (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint), basic photo-editing work (Photoshop, Gimp) and even for watching videos and listening to music.

A notebook without Windows
In this category, you can expect the best kind of hardware within your budget. These machines do not come with the Windows OS, but some manufacturers will give you a PC preinstalled with Linux/DOS. Here, our choices would be the...

Toshiba Satellite C850-X 0011: 15.6-inch screen, 2.5GHz IntelCore i5 (3rd Gen) processor, Intel HD graphics 4000, 2GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD Drive, HD webcam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, (2x)USB 2.0, (1x)USB 3.0, Rs 30,000

Fujitsu Lifebook AH532: 15.6-inch screen, 2.4GHz Intel Core i3 (3rd Gen) processor, Intel HD graphics 4000, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD drive, HD webcam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, (1x)USB 2.0, (3x)USB 3.0, Rs 25,750

Alternatively, you could also look at

Samsung NP300E5V-A 02IN (Rs 29,000), the Dell Vostro 2520 (Rs 29,000) and the Lenovo Essential G580 [59-358346 ] (Rs 30,000). 

With Windows
These machines come with a licensed copy of the Windows OS, and they're ready to use straight out of the box. But since some of the budget is utilized for the operating system, you are presented with a slightly older processor.

Fujitsu Lifebook AH532 (alternative config): 15.6-inch screen, 2.3GHz Intel Core i3 (2nd Gen) processor, 1GB nVidia GeForce GT 620M, 4GB RAM, 750GB hard drive, DVD drive, HD web cam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, (1x)USB 2.0, (3x)USB 3.0, Windows 8, Rs 29,000

Samsung NP300E5C-A 0CIN: 15.6-inch screen, 2.2GHz Intel Core i3 (2nd Gen) processor, Intel HD graphics 3000, 2GB RAM, 500GB hard drive, DVD drive, HD web cam, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, (3x)USB 2.0, Windows 8, Rs 27,400

As options you could consider the Sony VAIO SVE1513ACNB (Rs 29,000) or the Toshiba Satellite C850-I 5213 (Rs 28,000). The latter, however, has the older Windows 7 pre-installed . Before you finalize a model, we would advise you to physically check the build quality of the device for durability, check its display for viewing angles, and its keyboard for typing comfort.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fake online reviews

Fake online products reviews have been around for years, fuelled by unscrupulous marketers seeking to boost sales. 

But a recent crackdown by authorities in New York could be the shock needed for the online sector to clean up its act. 

The New York state attorney general's office recently ordered 19 companies to halt these practises and pay fines totalling $350,000 to settle charges of manipulating online reviews for sites such as Yelp, Google+ and others. 

The settlement stemmed from an undercover investigation in which officials created a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn and sought help in marketing from so-called "search engine optimization" firms that work to boost a company's online presence. 

The investigators discovered online ads such as this one: "Hello... We need someone to post 1-2 reviews daily on sites like: Yelp, Google reviews, Citysearch and any other similar sites. We will supply the text/review... We are offering $1 for every post." 

"Consumers rely on reviews from their peers to make daily purchasing decisions on anything from food and clothing to recreation and sightseeing," state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. 

"This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution. " 

A 2012 report by the research firm Gartner concluded that between two and six per cent of online reviews are "fake or deceptive," and predicted this will grow to around 10% by 2014. 

The Gartner report said some 31% of consumers use online review because they find the opinions of a person like themselves to be more credible than advertising. 

Gartner said studies from a number of university researchers suggest that positive reviews can provide a shot in the arm for many kinds of businesses, from hotels to restaurants to doctors or lawyers. 

"In the hospitality industry, you are more likely to see bookings go up when you have better ratings," said Jenny Sussin, a Gartner analyst and co-author of the report. 

"For restaurants, a half-star increase in the review average can cause 7:00 pm bookings to go up 30-49%." 

She said the review business has turned into a cottage industry, with writers in places such as India or the Philippines paid as little as $1 to $5 per review. In other cases, some employees or customers are offered incentives such as gift certificates for reviews, which is also considered deceptive or illegal.

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

All that you need to know about your camera

Getting good snapshots is pretty simple if you follow the basics. Javed Anwer explains camera jargon and helps you with a few tips to...

Know your camera

On any camera lens, its Focal Range is denoted in 'mm'. For example, most DSLRs come with an 18-55mm stock lens. You can also use these two numerals to arrive at the optical zoom on your point-and-shoot by dividing the larger value by the smaller value. For instance, an 18-55mm lens has an optical zoom that's a little over 3X. A lens with a 50-150mm focal range also has a 3X optical zoom. The difference, however, is that a 150mm lens will give you better depth (crisp foreground with a soft, defocused background). So if you're shooting a close-up of a flower, or even a portrait, use the maximum focal length at your disposal for better depth of field. When clicking a picture, most people tend to just press the Shutter Release Button. Instead, half press the button and hold it there. This allows the lens mechanism to adjust itself for proper focus. Once focus has been acquired, press the button all the way to click your photograph. The whole process takes a moment or two, but will result in better snapshots. The Camera Flash is a boon as well as a bane. In low light, it artificially illuminates the scene you are trying to capture. At the same time, it also distorts colours and may add too much light to photos and ruin the ambience. Wherever possible, try and shoot without using a flash. Your pictures will appear more natural. The Aperture (or in non-geeky words, the lens opening) is from where light enters the camera. A bigger opening means more light. Keep in mind that bigger aperture values means smaller lens opening. So in low light, an aperture of F3 is preferable to F5. Aperture also affects the sharpness of the image. Lower aperture values make everything (except the subject) appear softer. This means, you can use lower aperture values to highlight your subject.

Understand your camera display

The dots are Focus Points. If you are using a DSLR in manual mode, you can choose between the different focus dots. In most cases, it is advisable that you keep the centre dot as your focus.

Did you ever face a situation where you pressed the shutterrelease button, but your camera didn't snap a picture? Well, you should have kept an eye on the Focus Status (green dot). It turns solid when you've acquired focus. If it doesn't turn solid, your camera won't capture an image unless you are using manual focus (which is different from manual mode). In point-and-shoot cameras, or on smartphones, the focus status is generally denoted by a square around the subject. It turns green if the subject is in focus, and red or orange if it isn't.

Increase the ISO Value on your camera to make it more sensitive to light when shooting in low-light settings without a flash. Higher ISOs, however, result in grain and artefacts in photographs. So use this setting judiciously. Most point-and-shoot cameras can't handle an ISO of more than 800 or 1,600, regardless of what it says on the box. With most entry-level DSLRs, don't go above 3,200.

Shutter Speed, which is measured in fractions of a second, controls two things: the speed at which shutter closes to freeze a frame, and the amount of light that enters the camera.

If you are shooting fast-moving subjects, like an athlete in a sporting event, your pet dog, or even jumpy kids, always use fast shutter speeds. This will give you sharper images. Slower shutter speeds generally result in blurry snapshots. For best results, keep your shutter speed above 1/100. If you are going below 1/30, use a tripod.

This brings us to the connection between light and shutter speed. The faster the shutter speed, the lesser light the camera captures. So, if you are shooting in a dimly-lit area, use slower shutter speeds. But not slower than 1/30, or you'll require that tripod.

The figure preceded by the 'F' denotes Aperture Value (see camera section for aperture).

Metering shows you the balance of light. For ideal images, this value should be zero. 'Plus' indicates the camera is capturing more light than required. 'Minus indicates the light captured is less than optimum. More light means washed-out images. Less light means dark images.

Battery Status graphically indicates how much of juice you still have in your camera.

Although we've used a Nikon DSLR here, you will find similar controls in almost all brands of cameras. Besides, most of these tips and tricks can also be used to click pictures with your point and-shoot.

Tips & Tricks

Hold the camera steady: Regardless of what type of camera you use, hold it steady when shooting, and if possible, for a few extra seconds after taking the snapshot. You will get sharper photos. Isolate the subject or subjects: Click pictures where your subjects are highlighted and stand out from the rest of image. To do this, position your subjects against a background that doesn't overshadow them. This is the reason why photographers use plain backgrounds for passport photos. Also, make sure that your subject is wellilluminated. Strong lighting behind your subject will put them in the shadows. As a rule of thumb, shoot photos where the sun/light source is behind the camera and not in front of it.

Make it large and focus on the eyes: For portraits, fill your frame with your subject and focus on the eyes. This will create an intimate snapshot - and result in better photographs. Shoot twice (or thrice): Make it a habit to snap at least two or three pictures every time you press the shutter release button. Click, click, click... That's it. You will find that, out of five simultaneous shots, the second or third will be the sharpest. Use camera modes: All cameras come with pre-defined modes - portrait, outdoor, indoor, landscape, night, macro, etc - for different types of photos. Use these for best results.

Most importantly, compose your photograph: Don't shoot a photo. Compose it. Decide on how much of the scene you want to capture, the angle from which you want to capture it. Consider your light sources. Initially, it may take you a few minutes to compose an image, but with practice, you will soon be able to picture a composition within seconds.

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