The Connection, Inc Blog

The Connection, Inc has been serving the New Jersey area since 1992, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Tip of the Week: Taking a Screenshot

Tip of the Week: Taking a Screenshot

Screenshots can be one of the most effective ways to share information, as it gives the people you are communicating to first-hand knowledge of what you’re seeing. Of course, different platforms have different means of capturing a screenshot. Let’s go over these methods to ensure that you can do so efficiently and easily.

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Technology Making it Possible to Go Back to School Online

Technology Making it Possible to Go Back to School Online

2020 has provided a stark new reality when it comes to education. While many schools across the country are trying their hardest to get students back in the classroom, the situation with COVID-19 is making it extraordinarily difficult. Students of 2020 are going to be doing some of their schooling online, there is no way around it. Today, we’ll take a look at some of the technology that is making this distance learning possible.

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Tip of the Week: Managing Your IT Inventory Management

Tip of the Week: Managing Your IT Inventory Management

IT inventory management is the process of making sure that your information technology resources are maintained to be their most effective, such as what needs to be updated, which licenses need to be renewed, and whether your resources are helping you accomplish your organizational goals. It is essentially a fancy way of saying asset management, specific to your IT - and it is a very important process for any business.

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Tip of the Week: Usability of the Taskbar

Tip of the Week: Usability of the Taskbar

If you take a look at any computer in an office environment, there is a solid chance that it is running the Windows operating system. Whenever we have the opportunity, we like to share tips and tricks to help both normal and power users alike get the most out of their operating system. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to make navigating your computer just a little bit easier.


Highlight Your Folders

More often than not, most people won’t need to access more than a handful of files or folders at any given time. If you’re annoyed enough by accessing these files, you can add direct links to important files right in the taskbar. Here is how you can do it:

  • Right-click any unused space in the taskbar. This will open a menu of options.
  • Hover over the Toolbars and select New toolbar.
  • Find the folder that you want, select it, and click Select Folder.

The folder you’ve selected should now appear in your Taskbar, along with any files it holds, readily accessible for you.

Quickly Access Websites

Some organizations depend on the Internet in order to maintain operations. The quick-access URL field can give you the ability to access websites. Here’s how you can set it up to do so.

  • Access your Taskbar options by right-clicking in any unused space
  • Hover over Toolbars and select Address

A URL field will appear in the Taskbar. If you type a URL into it and press Enter, you can open that website in your default browser.

Like these tips? Get even more by subscribing to our blog.

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Tip of the Week: Easy to Remember Windows 10 Tips

Tip of the Week: Easy to Remember Windows 10 Tips

Windows 10 calls on the success (and failures) of previous versions of the operating system to deliver a truly dynamic solution to users. To get the most out of your Windows 10 workstation, we recommend following these five tips. They are simpler than you might think, and you can get unprecedented value out of them.

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Tip of the Week: Extremely Useful Tips

Tip of the Week: Extremely Useful Tips

All Windows machines are capable of leveraging built-in shortcuts. While it might sound ludicrous, using keyboard shortcuts can eliminate the eight days that the average employee spends every year moving between the keyboard and mouse. Shocking, right? Keyboard shortcuts let you retake all of that lost time and use it to be more productive.


Here is a list of the most helpful shortcuts we could round up, though it’s certainly worth mentioning that there are countless keyboard shortcuts out there that you can leverage to your advantage.

Rotate the Screen

This is more for the office prankster rather than for practical use, but we’ll share it all the same. You can rotate your screen by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + Arrow Key.

Switch Between Windows

When you have to frequently switch between windows, you might find yourself wasting time getting lost in them. You can use the keyboard shortcut Alt + Tab to cycle through your layover window that displays all of the open windows and select the one you want to open. This is handy for when you want to see which windows you have open, as well as close any unneeded ones.

Snap Windows

Windows gives users the ability to provide split-screen functionality simply by snapping application windows to the edges of the screen, dividing them equally. While it might be easy to click and drag them to the side, you can always use Windows Key + Left/Right Arrow Key to make the same thing happen. You can snap the window to a specific corner as well, dividing the screen into quarters, using the Up/Down Arrow Key immediately after the Left/Right Arrow Key.

When you’re ready to maximize a window again, using Windows Key + Up Arrow Key will do so.

Quick Shutdown

Clicking through menus can slow things down, especially when all you want to do is shut down the computer or log out. Windows shortcuts let users take advantage of the Quick Access Menu with the Windows key. You can use Windows Key + X and any of the below keys to complete a variety of processes:

U - Shut Down
I - Sign Out
R - Restart
H - Hibernate
S - Sleep

Create Your Own Desktop Keyboard Shortcut

If there isn’t a keyboard shortcut for your favorite folder or application, you can make your own. Right-click on the desktop icon and select Properties. You’ll see an empty field labeled Shortcut key. All you have to do is click to select the field and press your desired shortcut key. This will map your new shortcut to the following: Ctrl + Alt + Whatever Key You Chose.

What are some of your favorite keyboard shortcuts? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe for more great tips and tricks.

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Tip of the Week: Navigating the Taskbar in Windows 10

Tip of the Week: Navigating the Taskbar in Windows 10

Computers are great tools to get work done in the office, but only if they are used effectively. Employees looking to get more out of their Windows workstations can utilize the taskbar to get around faster. We’ll discuss some of the ways your business can take better advantage of the taskbar, as well as what it’s capable of.

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Managing Millennials May Be Challenging, But Worth It

Managing Millennials May Be Challenging, But Worth It

Generation Y (or Millennials, as they are more commonly known) have a rough reputation in the business world. Whether they’re being blamed for the death of entire industries or mocked for their fondness for avocado toast, it isn’t often that millennials are taken seriously - especially in the workplace. However, if nurtured correctly, this group has the potential to produce some of your top performers. Here, we’ll get into how to do so.

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Tip of the Week: Basic IT Tips for Your Benefit

Tip of the Week: Basic IT Tips for Your Benefit

Look, we get it. All you want is for the technology your business relies on to just… work. While that may not always be possible, there are quite a few things you can do to help prevent issues. For this week’s tip, we’ll go over some basics that will help make your use of your computer much less stressful.

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Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work (and What to Do Instead)

Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work (and What to Do Instead)

In the business world, productivity is everything, which means that many will try to boost their productivity however they can. Many swear by multitasking, or the practice of juggling tasks to keep themselves fresh and productive. However, evidence shows they are mistaken. We’ll go into why, and offer a few more effective alternatives.


The Fallacy of Multitasking
Many people believe that multitasking is the art of working on two things simultaneously. You may even be one of these people. If so, I have some bad news for you: multitasking is a myth.

Seriously, it doesn’t exist. Let’s try a brief experiment. Start fiddling with something on your desk as you read this blog:

The human brain isn’t wired to work that way, no matter what you might believe. It isn’t that men or women are better at it, or younger people are more practiced at it… it just isn’t a thing, at least, not in the way a lot of people interpret it.

When you ask someone what multitasking is, they’ll probably summarize it as some variation of “doing multiple things at once.” The problem is, science has shown that the human brain literally doesn’t work that way - it is designed to commit to a singular cognitive task at a time. What is perceived as “multitasking” is simply the brain switching from one task to another.

One of the reasons we’re so inclined to defend our multitasking habits is because we appear to see so many examples of it in real life. After all, Billy Joel made an entire career out of singing and playing the piano at the same time, didn’t he? It also feels good to multitask, quite literally. As we “multitask,” we’re likely switching between many, bite-sized tasks. Between checking email, updating social media, planning where to go for lunch, and all the other easy decisions we make everyday, there’s a release of dopamine.

This hormone is the brain’s reward for a job well done… and it wants more.

Due to this, we are spurred to continue jumping from mini-task to mini-task, and we feel like we’re accomplishing a lot (when we really aren’t). This is why social media can be so addictive, and why so many of us compulsively check our emails.

Why This Doesn’t Work
There are assorted reasons that multitasking isn’t exactly good for our productivity, or even our physical well-being.

Multitasking isn’t actually any more productive.
In fact, your tasks can ultimately wind up taking longer.

Let’s say that you need to accomplish two tasks, A and B, which take 45 minutes and 90 minutes respectively, or 135 minutes, or 2 hours and 15 minutes in total. Now, consider how these tasks would break up if we multitasked and switched between each task every 15 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively.

You get to work on task A, and then B, and then A again, switching back and forth until each task is completed. Since multitasking doesn’t make you work any faster, you still take 135 minutes to complete both tasks. Strike one against multitasking.

Now, for strike two, let’s examine how these tasks would have progressed during that time. Doing these tasks one at a time would mean that A would be done in 45 minutes and B done 90 minutes after that, totaling 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Multitasking, on the other hand, changes things. If you switch between them the way we established above, by the time the 45 minute mark rolled around, you’d have only worked on task A for 15 minutes and B for 30, meaning that each would only be one-third done in the same amount of time it would take to complete one task if focusing on it exclusively. Continuing this pattern, instead of completing A in 45 minutes, you’d be done with it by minute 105, a full hour later than it would have been finished otherwise.

Multitasking stresses us out.
Switching our trains of thought so violently is exhausting, much like most anything violent tends to be. This is largely because switching tasks in such a fashion encourages the production of cortisol in the brain, otherwise known as the stress hormone. More specifically, cortisol is the stress hormone that lingers for extended periods of time in the body, as opposed to short-term hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine (which are what trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response). As a result, not only are we tiring out our brains, reducing our ability to handle stress, we are actively producing the hormone that produces it.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, that’s hardly the half of it:

Multitasking is actually bad for the brain.
Research has repeatedly shown that attempting to multitask could potentially be the source of assorted mental health issues, or at least have some correlation to them. For one, multitasking can greatly diminish cognitive abilities. One study demonstrated that multitasking dropped the IQ scores of adult subjects enough to bring them to the level of an eight-year-old, much like a sleepless night has been shown to do.

It gets worse - other studies have shown that there is an association between multitasking habits and a less dense area in the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. This area is responsible for a few key human functions: empathy, as well as cognitive and emotional control capabilities. While the jury is still out on whether multitasking causes this damage, or those with the lack of brain density are simply more prone to multitask, neither is a good sign for the habit.

Furthermore, in addition to one’s intelligence quotient, one’s multitasking habits have also been shown to stunt one’s EQ as well, or their emotional intelligence. EQ covers key considerations in the office environment, including awareness of oneself and social relationships. Testing the EQ levels of over a million people, emotional intelligence training firm TalentSmart found that over 90% of industry performers have high EQs.

In short, multitasking actually makes our capacity to do quality work suffer, as our stamina, cognition, and memory are all affected. Without peeking, can you remember which musical artist was referenced earlier in this blog? If you can’t, is it possible you may have been multitasking?

The Difference
The reference, by the way, was to Billy Joel’s ability to sing and play piano at the same time. However, this isn’t multitasking in his case (or in many other cases). He has simply learned to sing and play the piano as a single skill, not to sing while he plays the piano… see the difference?

Fortunately, like any habit, multitasking can eventually be broken through the adoption of better, healthier habits. These habits include:

Avoiding Free Time: Or, in other words, resisting the urge to dive into another project while you’re waiting for a response on one you’re currently working on. This may feel like a squandered opportunity to be productive, but you need to remember the example we went over above: switching back and forth restricts progress from being made on either task in a timely fashion.

This is not to say, of course, that you should sit and wait until you get a response for hours on end.

Instead, you should take the moment to run through your project and evaluate where it stands. Is it set to accomplish what it is supposed to? Once you’ve spent some time doing that, you might consider moving on to something new, but only so long as you resolve to drop it the instant your original task can resume.

Communicate With Your Team: Let’s face it, the majority of your work distractions are going to come from others within your organization, or at least other business matters. Your productivity will require you to discourage and/or ignore these distractions. Whether you communicate to your team your intentions before you begin a task or simply put on a pair of headphones (music or white noise optional) to discourage interaction, make sure you communicate that you are unavailable at the given time.

Disconnect: On a related note, try minimizing the other distractions that may come in. Email, for all its benefits, is a notorious source of distractions in the office. The best approach is to silence your email notifications if at all possible, and schedule out set times to check your inbox. If someone really needs to contact you, they’ll find another way to do so. Your mobile device works the same way: the compulsion to peek at it can be considerable.

However, each time we do, there goes our focus. Unless you’re expecting a truly urgent call, power down your phone and keep it stashed away, out of sight. You may be surprised by how much can be accomplished without the interruptions or temptations.

Getting Organized: There’s a reason that people use to-do lists: they are effective. By mapping out your goals for the day and arranging them by priority, you will be able to accomplish more - especially if you schedule brief breaks periodically throughout the day. By remaining mindful throughout your process, you will be able to better focus on what you need to accomplish, rather than the distractions around you. These habits will help you instill a predisposition to monotasking, multitasking’s more effective cousin.

As its name suggests, monotasking is the full dedication of your time to a single task until no more progress can be made on it. Monotasking enables tasks to be completed more efficiently and effectively, ultimately bringing greater progress towards your goals.

However, just because you can’t multitask, doesn’t mean your technology can’t.

The Connection, Inc can help you implement solutions with automation capabilities, giving your team less to worry about and less to take their focus away from their productivity. Call us at (732) 291-5938 to learn more.

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Tip of the Week: How to Speed Up a Windows PC

Tip of the Week: How to Speed Up a Windows PC

The personal computer is a remarkable tool, allowing us to accomplish levels of productivity and efficiency at speeds that were once only dreamed of… at least, that’s how it feels at first. However, it doesn’t take very long for a computer to seem like it drags on and on before performing the task requested of it. Why is that, and how can this be resolved?

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Power Off, or Leave It On?

Power Off, or Leave It On?

At the end of the day, do you shut down your computer or do you put it into sleep mode? Depending on what you need from your device the next day, you might want to consider which option benefits you the most. Here are some of the pros and cons of both approaches so that you can pick which one best suits your situation.


Understanding the Difference
Before you can identify which one suits your needs, you should first understand the difference between what they do. When a computer shuts down, it will first turn off any software that might be in use before the hardware itself shuts down. Your operating system will send a message to any open programs to stop reading and writing files so that they can be prepared for the hardware shutdown. Once all of the software has shut down, the physical components can now start their shutdown processes. Most notably, the physical hardware gradually loses power, which keeps your workstation safe from surges and other types of damage. This is also why you should never turn off your computer by holding down the power button.

On the other hand, a computer in sleep mode will use its RAM to store open files and run in a low-power state. It also limits which software and hardware are running so that limited resources are being used. These can then be reactivated at any time.

The Benefits of a Full Shutdown
One of the greatest benefits of a full system shutdown is that your operating system will have a chance to restart itself, so to speak, by getting rid of minor OS problems. If you go too long without a reboot, these issues could increase and become a major impediment in the future. In fact, many updates to the Windows operating system require a full restart in order to install properly.

Power issues can be reduced considerably by following the proper computer shutdown process. A computer uses less power when it’s off compared to when it’s on, even in sleep mode. However, as long as a computer is left on, there will always be a chance of a power surge hitting the device and doing damage. A complete shutdown can potentially limit this risk.

The Benefits of Sleep Mode
The first and arguably most convincing benefit of sleep mode is the convenience that it provides. You won’t have to wait for your device to boot up again the next time you plan to use it. One instance of this might not merit much of an increase in productivity, but repeated instances will certainly be of value. Another benefit of placing your computer in sleep mode is that it can run basic maintenance when it’s needed. This could include security updates and other types of general upkeep that your device won’t take advantage of when it’s turned off.

Why to Consider Both
Keeping all of this in mind, it would make sense to customize your approach to system shutdown and sleep mode based on your specific needs. One of the best ways to do this is by shutting down your computer at the end of the day, and only putting it in sleep mode when you walk away from it for a few moments. This approach allows you to remain productive during the workday while also ensuring your device is still maintained during the off hours.

However, if you want your devices to be upgraded during the office’s quiet hours, it’s crucial that you leave your workstations on. This allows for the automation of security updates and patching, which is a valuable asset in its own right.

Do you typically leave your computer on or off? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.

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Tip of the Week: Closed a Tab Accidentally? Here’s How to Restore It

Tip of the Week: Closed a Tab Accidentally? Here’s How to Restore It

Everyone has accidentally closed an important web browser tab before they were finished with it. What can you really do about it, though? You might expect that you have to search for the page again, but there’s a much easier way to do it. In your Google Chrome browser on a PC or smartphone, you can reopen closed tabs relatively easily.

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Tip of the Week: 3 More Useful Microsoft Word Features

Tip of the Week: 3 More Useful Microsoft Word Features

Microsoft Word has long since established itself as the primary word processing software in the business world, but even some power users don’t necessarily know about all of the hidden features that exist in it. Here are three of the best Word capabilities that you’ll be sure to use next time you’re in a pinch.

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Tip of the Week: Did You Know About These Windows Features?

Tip of the Week: Did You Know About These Windows Features?

Does your business use Windows 10? If so, there are all sorts of hidden tips and tricks that can help you gain even more value from your workstations that are running Windows 10. Here are a few of these secrets and how they can help your staff save time.

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Forget Sherlock Holmes, IBM’s Watson Can Solve the Mystery of Your Tax Refund

Forget Sherlock Holmes, IBM’s Watson Can Solve the Mystery of Your Tax Refund

In 2011, the world was introduced to IBM’s supercomputer Watson after it handily won the television quiz show Jeopardy!. Since then, Watson has been utilized in a variety of helpful ways, including customer service for Macy’s and Geico, as well as medical research. Today, Watson is being tapped by H&R Block to assist the public with an issue that affects every American, their taxes.


To be clear, H&R Block isn’t replacing its 70,000 tax professionals with Watson, but rather, Watson is being utilized to assist H&R Block’s staff best serve its 11 million customers.

In a statement, Bill Cobb, a chief executive of H&R Block, says that he hopes the partnership with IBM will “reinvent the retail experience for taxpayers.” For IBM’s part, they’re looking to showcase how AI technology can benefit corporations--a profitable market that has yet to be fully realized.

Learning Tax Codes is Elementary, My Dear Watson
As you can imagine, turning Watson into a tax expert took some teaching on H&R Block’s part. In order to prepare Watson for the tax season, the supercomputer first needed to process and learn 74,000 pages of the federal tax code, as well as the thousands of tax-related questions accumulated by H&R Block over six decades of tax preparation. As is the nature of AI, every question and interaction processed by Watson makes it more knowledgeable of the given subject, so it will be interesting to see how valuable Watson proves to be in a real-world tax scenarios (which tend to be rather unpredictable).

In Watson’s case, the supercomputer is specifically designed to handle such a task, seeing as its primary function is to process and classify vast amounts of data using natural language. During the training period, H&R Block’s tax professionals from nearly 100 locations worked with Watson by correcting the supercomputer when it provided irrelevant information to tax questions, and responded positively when it gave an appropriate response. This is a process known as machine learning, and it’s sure to be a topic you’ll hear more about in the near future.

Here’s Your Chance to Talk to Watson!
With Watson now online and accessible to H&R Block’s clientele, you can access the supercomputer/celebrity yourself by creating a user account with the tax service. You’ll then be able to ask both Watson (as well as a boring old human tax professional) questions about your tax forms. To assist with your progress, your tax credits and deductions will be available for you to see, as well as suggestions to help you best navigate your tax return.

It’s the goal of H&R Block to utilize Watson in such a way as to make the tax process interactive and engaging, and of course, to increase the chances of a favorable tax refund and a reduction in tax liabilities. Although, Cobb is quick to point out that Watson won’t achieve this with computer processing alone. Why, at the end of the day, “the tax pro is only as good as the input they get from the taxpayer.”

Will Watson help H&R Block achieve its business goals? Only time will tell, seeing as success for a tax company comes in the form of retaining its customers for the following tax season. Would you feel comfortable having a Watson file your taxes? Can you think of ways that AI can enhance the operations of your company? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.

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Tip of the Week: 3 PC Maintenance Tips Every User Should Know

Tip of the Week: 3 PC Maintenance Tips Every User Should Know

Owning any piece of technology in today’s day and age is like a playing with fire. While it’s a great tool that has allowed civilization to grow and make great strides toward a better future, there’s also significant risk involved with owning such an expensive piece of technology. If it breaks down on you, you’ll be left with both a dent in your pocket and possibly even a chunk of your data missing. Here are three ways that even the average PC user can improve the performance of their technology and extend its life cycle considerably.


Keep it Clean
Keeping your PC clean is important to prolong its life cycle, as dust can build up and prevent critical airflow. Furthermore, when airflow is limited, heat can build up within your machine, which could damage the components and lead to overheating. Just be sure to keep your workspace clean and to keep the fan vents clear of obstruction, and you should be fine.

Monitor RAM Usage
RAM is one of those things in your PC that you don’t know you need more of until it’s already an inconvenience. Basically, it’s the memory in your computer that allows you to perform multiple tasks at the same time. If your PC only has 2GB of RAM in it, good luck having multiple videos open or performing other resource-intensive tasks. If your computer is running slower than normal, you can use your Task Manager app to see where your PC’s resources are being eaten up. This might hint that your machine has a security problem, too, so address any issues by contacting your IT service provider.

Install Updates and Patches
It’s important that you implement the latest patches and security updates. As without them, you’re leaving your devices exposed to potential security threats. Hackers are always creating new ways to infiltrate networks and infect systems with their malware, and many of these problems can be resolved by simply keeping your devices as up-to-date as possible. It’s a simple way to ensure that your devices won’t be compromised by developing threats.

If you’re a business owner, you’ll notice that these are also three tips that we would suggest for you to keep your IT equipment in working in proper working order. After all, your organization depends on it to stay running efficiently, so you’re only helping yourself by taking good care of your technology. If you’d rather just not worry about your technology maintenance, The Connection, Inc can handle this responsibility for you. Our managed IT services are designed to provide New Jersey businesses the hands-off technology maintenance you need to ease your workday and concentrate on your business.

To learn more, reach out to us at (732) 291-5938.

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Tip of the Week: Prevent Phone Calls From Interrupting Your Meetings With Volume Scheduler App

Tip of the Week: Prevent Phone Calls From Interrupting Your Meetings With Volume Scheduler App

Cell phones: as much as they’re needed for business purposes, there are definitely times that they shouldn’t ring and interrupt what is going on around you. However, turning a phone’s volume up or down isn’t always the first thing on a user’s mind. Fortunately for Android users, it no longer has to be.


It’s an all-too-familiar scenario: you’re sitting as an audience member while the demonstrator--be it your boss, a coworker, or your child’s school chorus--is suddenly interrupted by the sound of your phone going off after you forgot to kill the volume. Or, you miss a crucial phone call from your boss or coworker because you remembered to silence your phone when it was appropriate, but forgot to reactivate the sound later. Either way, you don’t look very good, and your professional reputation and performance could suffer as well.

However, there is an app available for download that can help to avoid these issues automatically: the aptly-named Volume Scheduler.

This free app allows Android users to preset their volume adjustments based on the time of day. As a result, if a user knows that they will be in an important meeting from 1:30 until 3:45, they can tell Volume Scheduler to silence their phone between those times. On the flip side, if they know that they’ll be in a crowded terminal between 9 AM and 3:45 PM where they can answer their phone at any time, a user could make sure their phone was scheduled to be at full volume.

What makes this app an excellent option is how budget-friendly it is, in all senses of the word. Not only is the app free to download, but since it works based on time, it will not eat up data charges or even battery life. As a result, a phone can be set to a pre-established schedule and relied on to be quiet when necessary.

What are some of your most embarrassing phone volume-related stories? Feel free to share some in the comments!

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Tip of the Week: Download All of Your Google Account’s Content in One Fell Swoop

Tip of the Week: Download All of Your Google Account’s Content in One Fell Swoop

An active Google user will inevitably accumulate a stockpile of photos and videos via their account’s Google Photos app. For this week’s tip, we’ll show you how to download all of this media to a local device.

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Tip of the Week: What it Takes to Prepare and Deliver a Dynamic Presentation, Part 1

b2ap3_thumbnail_tips_for_presentation_400.jpgPresentations are always an important part of being a business owner, be it for a trade show, webinar, conference, or sales demonstration. If they scare you to death, don’t worry; you’re not alone. In fact, up to 74 percent of people suffer from speech anxiety (glossophobia), meaning that they have a tough time getting in front of a crowd and showing off their knowledge. Despite this fact, you can kick glossophobia to the curb by being proactive about your preparations.

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51 Village CT
Hazlet, New Jersey 07730