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Info Advantage has been serving the Upstate New York area since 1993 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Slow Computer? Upgrade Your RAM

Slow Computer? Upgrade Your RAM

Sometimes when your workstation feels bogged down, a relatively cheap and simple hardware update can make all the difference in performance. Adding more memory can be a game changer for your computer.

There are several factors that contribute to the speed of a PC:

CPU/Processor

The CPU handles all of calculations a computer performs. These days, consumer-class CPUs handle billions and even trillions of instructions per second. Dated processors can greatly influence the actual speed of a computer, but if your PC is fairly new (as in 1 or 2 years old, and possibly older for higher end builds) it's likely not bottlenecking your performance. Today, CPUs are equipped with two, four, or even more cores, which means the CPU can handle more calculations exponentially and consume less electricity.

RAM/Memory

Random Access Memory (RAM) is basically the short-term memory of your computer. When your computer is loading and running applications, they get stored in the RAM. The RAM is much faster than the hard drive, so your computer doesn't need to spin it's wheels looking for specific files and parts of applications. The more RAM you have, the more "stuff" that can be stored in it. The faster your RAM, the faster your computer can sift through the data that gets temporarily pushed into it. Once your RAM is full, your computer will depend on the hard drive to retrieve information, and that's where things get sluggish. Once you stop running a program, it will remove itself from the RAM to free up some space for everything else running.

Hard Drive

The hard drive is the storage device of a computer. For extremely high-end PCs, the hard drive is often the bottleneck. Hard drives, when compared to RAM, are very slow to access and write information. Once your computer needs to rely on your hard drive heavily for RAM, things are going to start getting slowed down. While it's great that your PC can rely on your hard drive in this way for those times it needs some extra memory, it is likely this is the cause of the slowdown. Unfortunately, because hard drives are mechanical and have moving parts, there's limitations to how fast science can make them perform. There are costly solid-state drives, but as a performance-improving factor on a standard workstation, typically solid state drives aren't the cost-effective answer.

There are software factors as well that can affect your PC speed. Malware and Spyware can bog down your system, and after a lot of use, temporary files can bog things down. Before upgrading hardware, you'll want to have a technician run a quick evaluation on your PC - it's possible a little cleanup can make all the difference in the world.

Otherwise, the next step is upgrading the RAM. RAM is usually relatively cheap, even to double or triple your existing RAM with faster, higher performance memory. Often the cost of the new RAM itself will be between $50 and $100, and more than likely less than that, and that's for a substantial increase, but it depends on your PC.

Is your computer running slow? Does it get bogged down by the time you have all of your day-to-day applications open? Contact us at (585) 254-8710 for a quick evaluation to see if a simple, cost-effective upgrade will help you perform your job more effectively.

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Job Automation: Robots Aren't Taking Over Quite Yet

Job Automation: Robots Aren't Taking Over Quite Yet

 

Companies are always looking to improve their operations by eliminating unnecessary costs. It’s a part of business, no matter how you look at it. However, as automation technologies grow more advanced, some of the more mundane (and even some professional) positions are at risk of getting replaced by cheaper, more efficient robotic systems.

We see this all the time in certain industries like manufacturing and retail, where there’s no longer a need for specific positions due to autonomous systems taking their place. While this trend is capable of increasing these organizations’ bottom lines, it simultaneously puts people out of work. Surprisingly, the quality of work by automated systems could be largely variable and unpredictable. So, until the details get sorted out, it’s likely that automated systems will have to be babysat, with humans jumping in to save the day should something go wrong.

This presents another possibility; rather than replacing workers, automated technology could be used to augment their capabilities. For example, there are writing programs that are capable of putting together articles much faster than the way the human mind can. However, these articles are often devoid of emotion and can’t connect on the same level as a human author can. So, for now, there are certain jobs that automation can’t touch, but how long will it take for automation technology to catch up?

Please keep in mind that we’re not insinuating that technological advancement is bad; we’re just trying to raise awareness for how it affects the worldwide economy and job market. It doesn’t matter if a specific technology can eliminate work for manufacturers and businesses if it puts hundreds of thousands of people out of work.

Yet, in many cases, technological advancement can be exceptionally beneficial. Consider, for a moment, how outsourcing can help your business. When you outsource to a third party, you’re essentially receiving a good or service from someone else. You’re purchasing their professional skills for the good of your business. So, in a manner of speaking, you’re augmenting your business’ IT with a valuable automated service in the form of our talented technology professionals.

At Info Advantage, we aren’t looking to replace your internal IT department. Rather, we want to work with them and help your business achieve its greatest potential. Regardless of your current IT’s role in management and maintenance, we can pick up the slack where they fall short. We’re firm believers in working together for the betterment of our clients. If your internal staff doesn’t have the time or skill necessary to perform regular IT maintenance, Info Advantage can step in and handle this responsibility for you. If the opposite is true, and your team doesn’t have time to implement new innovative solutions, we can perform this role for you.

Ultimately, our professional IT technicians are more potent and valuable than any robotic IT system can be. To learn more about co-managed IT, give us a call at (585) 254-8710.

 

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2 Free Tools that Will Read Documents and Web Pages to You

2 Free Tools that Will Read Documents and Web Pages to You

These days, who has time to read? For busy business owners, reading is a luxury. This is what makes audiobooks such a valuable tool. They allow busy people to consume information while accomplishing a mindless task like cleaning the house. While this arrangement works wonders for titles found on Audible.com, what about the documents you must read that haven’t been made into an audiobook?


For example, what if you have to read a long Word document about a project, or a blog article about an important development in your industry, but, dang it, you just don’t have the time? Thankfully, there are some great text-to-speech tools available online that will do this heavy lifting for you. Granted, the narrator comes off sounding a bit robotic, but when it comes to helpful freeware, beggars can’t be choosers.

SpeakIt!
SpeakIt! is an extension for Chrome that reads text on a webpage back to you. With the extension downloaded, all you have to do is highlight the text you’d like read to you and then click on the SpeakIt! icon in the upper-right corner of Chrome. Then, just like that, it’s storytime.

SpeakIt! boasts of a few handy features, like the ability to adjust the playback speed 10x faster or slower than the standard 330 words/minute, as well as the ability to translate text and utilize different languages.

On the downside, a quick read through of the reviews reveal that some users experienced bugs after using SpeakIt! for more than a few minutes. Additionally, while SpeakIt! works great for static web pages, playback is painfully slow for pages in Chrome that allow for text to be edited, like apps in Google Drive, Gmail, Adobe Reader, etc.

@Voice Aloud Reader
For busy audiobook aficionados on the go, @Voice Aloud Reader for Android is a great mobile solution. It’s available for free on the Google Play Store. The app also has plugins available designed to enhance the functionality of reading specific files, like @Voice PDF Crop Plugin.

@Voice Aloud Reader works by uploading text to the app, then, with the app open, select play and it will be read aloud to you. The app does a good job at retaining the formatting of the uploaded article. Additionally, while the text is being read, the app highlights the current sentence that it’s on, making it easy to follow along. Like Speak It!, @Voice Aloud Reader lets you adjust playback speed, and it’s compatible with a variety of files, like PDF, DOC, TXT, EPUB, FB2, and more.

Overall, @Voice Aloud Reader is a highly-rated app. The biggest annoyance may be advertisements, but you can make these go away by upgrading to the pro version. Plus, the fact that the advertisements only show up in the display and they don’t interrupt the audio playback, makes this a non-issue.

So go ahead and download these two free text-to-speech tools, knock out that list of assigned readings you’ve been putting off, and then share your review with us in the comments below!

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Guest — Chad
SpeakIt! is no longer available.
Sunday, 22 January 2017 02:18
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4 Ways Stress Can Be Good (and Bad) for Your Business

4 Ways Stress Can Be Good (and Bad) for Your Business

Stress is one of those things that you can’t escape, no matter how hard you try, and it can takes a toll on your workday. Despite this, there are (surprisingly) some redeeming factors to stress to be considered.


When talking about stress, there’s one important detail that cannot be overlooked: stress created for the sole purpose of being stressed is not a good motivator. Inc states that “stress that comes from not having enough information or that’s based on an irrational fear is a poor motivator.” In other words, it’s important to keep stress to a minimum whenever possible, as there’s quite literally no reason to be stressed about everything and everyone around you. You need to retain control if you want to harness the power of stress.

That being said, there are some benefits to be gained from the occasional bout of stress. Here are four of them.

Stress Provides an Energy Boost
Stress is often draining and is known to sap energy from you, but if something urgent comes up, this stress can become a motivating factor that provides energy. With this kind of stress, you’ll become more aware of your surroundings and find that you’ll have the energy needed to get your work done.

Stress Proves That You Care About Your Work
If you’ve been stressed out about a project, you might go through a couple of stages where you initially hate yourself for it. Eventually, you might claim that you just don’t care and that you want it to be over with as soon as possible. However, the stress is a signal that you do actually care about how the project turns out. If you’re stressing about a project, take solace in the understanding that you do actually care.

Stress Can Teach You to Enjoy the Little Things
There’s something to be said about a hard day’s work. Imagine if you had a job where you had to be exposed to sweltering weather all day, under incredible physical duress on an empty stomach. Now imagine going home after the day’s work to an air-conditioned home with a delicious meal sitting on the dinner table. It’s the little things that make working with stress bearable. If you understand this concept, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the time that you’re not stressed.

Stress Can Inspire Quick Action
Stress is something that nobody wants to deal with, so it’s only natural that they move toward the solution: eliminating the stress. This means that people will work swiftly and efficiently toward removing the stress factor from their lives, regardless of what that entails. This doesn’t mean that you should go out of your way to stress yourself out; instead, it means that you’ll work with urgency when it’s required.

While there are advantages to stress, it’s still something that needs to be managed and mitigated whenever possible. While you might not be able to do much for stress caused by problems outside the office, you can assist them with managing their workplace issues. One of the ways that you can make your employees’ lives easier is by providing functional, working technology that helps them perform their jobs to the best of their ability.

Our managed IT services are just what the busy business owner needs to eliminate frustrations caused by dysfunctional technology solutions. To learn more, reach out to us at (585) 254-8710.

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