Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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Making the case for EHS software

Making the Case for EH&S SoftwareDeveloping a business case for environment, health & safety (EH&S) software can be a challenge, especially when C-level executives focus on “hard” numbers like Return on Investment (ROI) and not “soft” benefits.

If you need to prepare a business case for an EH&S software investment, read Making the Case for EH&S Software to learn

  • What drives software investment decisions,
  • Why prepare a business case?
  • Critical business case components, and
  • Five (5) tips for preparing a business case.

This column is part of the IT Insight archives, a collection of more than 75 articles on EH&S and sustainability issues and the information technology (IT) that supports them.

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Five simple things we can do to reduce our environmental footprint

Today we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Earth Day in the U.S. On the first Earth Day(s) in 1970, 20 million people celebrated in the U.S.; in 1990, 200 million celebrated globally: in 2014 the number is even greater.

In honor of Earth Day—and every day—we can reduce our environmental footprint.

Image of Earth from space

Image: NASA

Each of us can do five simple things for a more sustainable environment.

  1. Drive less. Walk, share a ride, or combine several errands on a single “run.” Work from home 1-2 days a week, if your employer allows it, and if you can be productive.
  2. Conserve electricity. Turn off lights when you don’t need them or install switches that  automatically turn off the lights if there is no motion after a few minutes. Replace light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones.
  3. Conserve water. Install low-flow shower heads and efficient toilets. Use the dishwasher—when full—rather than hand-washing items under running water. If you have lawn sprinklers, use a timer and don’t over-water.
  4. Mimimize waste. Forego shopping bags and packaging that you don’t need. Employ washable, reusable shopping bags. Select food and consumer products with reduced or recyclable packaging.
  5. Recycle. If you must drink bottled and canned beverages, recycle the containers. If you read newspapers, recycle them. At our home, we recycle about two to three times as much as we discard.


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With Windows XP End of Support, Chromebooks are a popular option to Windows PCs

Now that Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, organizations that still use the 13-year-old operating system (OS) must face reality–at some point, they must upgrade their OS, and likely their computer. When Microsoft released Windows XP to market, more organizations provided desktop than laptop computers. Using a laptop meant sacrificing features and forking over more dollars to gain mobility.

Those who have yet to “sunset” Windows XP no longer need to be tethered to their desks (See: Windows XP Sails into the Sunset… Maybe). A world of technologies became available (and affordable) since 2001, notably:

  • Wireless networks (WiFi) and Mobile hotspots (MiFi)
  • Lightweight notebook computers
  • Smartphones, tablets and apps
  • Social networks, Cloud applications and data storage
  • More power-efficient chips and hours of operation between charges
  • Solid state “flash” drives
Image: hp

Image: hp

Windows XP End of Support lets organizations rethink their IT strategies. Businesses and educational institutions alike can consider alternative Windows , Mac and Google OS and hardware. Chromebooks are a popular option, with their simplicity and low entry cost of $275 to $300 USD.

Read 10 Reasons Today’s Chromebooks Look Like a Smart Mobile PC Buy.

 


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Microsoft Pulls Plug on Windows XP Support

Just last week—08 April 2014—Microsoft stopped supporting the tremendously popular Windows XP operating system. They will provide security updates/patches for another fifteen months, through July 2015.

Loyal XP users need to decide if “I’d rather fight than switch” or “I’d rather switch than fight…” and they need to decide soon, since upgrades in large organizations can take 12-18 months.

pull-the-plug-square

Windows XP Sails into the Sunset… Maybe speaks to the impacts and unintended consequences of the long-announced end of support.

End of support impacts millions of users. Where does that leave the millions of business and consumer users still on that operating system? Will they fight upgrading to Windows 8.1, or switch to an alternative operating system. What challenges will people face when upgrading to a new OS?

End of support has unintended consequences. First, it resulted in a resurgence in Windows 7 laptop sales and Windows 7 OS upgrades. Second, it resulted in the purchase of Windows-alternative hardware and software. End of support gives organizations a reason to evaluate whether they need laptops into the future, or if other technologies (cloud, mobile, and social) are better alternatives.


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Too much email? This company offers a solution…

Has email taken over your life? Do you have so many email accounts, and receive so many messages that it seems you spend all day on email? Do you wish that it would all stop?

The average person receives over 100 emails a day, and many people in large organizations receive many more than that.

As the author of an IT column–and this blog–I read lots of tech publications and blogs. This takes me in interesting directions. A couple of days ago I read about SaneBox, an application that claims to help users save hours each week normally spent sifting through hundreds of Inbox messages.

laptop with email spilling out of mail slotSaneBox triages incoming emails into three folders:

Inbox – important 

BlackHole – spam – junk mail

Later – bacn – read later

What’s intriguing is that SaneBox takes a first stab at what goes into each of these three folders. Then you review SaneBox’s choices and “train” the application if you want to move emails from certain senders elsewhere. This is something that none of my email client apps can do. In MS Outlook, I can make rules, but it would be time-consuming to create a new rule each time I receive email from a new contact. In Apple mail and with Web versions of most common email providers, rules don’t exist.

SaneBox works with Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange, IBM Notes (fka Lotus Notes) and IMAP email accounts. By default, the application adds two new folders (@SaneBlackHole and @SaneLater), and you can add a couple more–but start with the default to keep things simple.

This is a subscription service. You can register for a free 14-day trial and $5 in SaneBox credit if you click here.

Email is here to stay, at least for a while.

Since email is here to stay, at least for the immediate future, it may be worth your time to  look at this application.


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Companies bet on the streaming media market

A couple of weeks ago we canceled our cable TV service after our fourth cable box in as many years malfunctioned… again. We decided to give streaming video a try. This is how to watch TV and movies in the 21st century without the constraints of cable or satellite TV—as long as you do not need to watch TV shows on their broadcast dates.

Several tech companies bet that there is an unfulfilled market for streaming TV and movies and gaming. And that the market will grow.

Decades ago many households started to record their favorite TV shows and not watch them live. They used video cassette recorders (VCRs) and Sony BetaMax machines. Many later upgraded to CD/DVD, and then to digital video recorders (DVRs).

Photo: Google

Photo: Google

Today there is no need to record videos. Streaming video technology and “cloud” storage allow nearly instant access to tens of thousands of videos. A subscription service keeps track of the videos you watch, as well as your wish list. All you need is a High Definition (HD) TV and an Internet connection. If you have a “smart TV” with a built-in Internet connection, you can use a USB stick, a game player (e.g., Microsoft XBox, Sony PlayStation or Nintendo) or a small “box” device. If you lack a smart TV, game player or box will do.

A remote control, smartphone or tablet lets you choose what to watch. Some services even allow voice commands—in direct competition with “on demand” cable services. Streaming video services charge a nominal subscription fee and/or “pay per view” fee, the total cost is more affordable than cable or satellite TV.

Photo: Roku

Photo: Roku

Amazon, Roku, Google and Apple all offer small streaming video connection devices (USB sticks or small boxes) and streaming content libraries. Amazon’s Fire TV and Roku’s Streaming Stick are the latest market offerings.

Read CNET’s take on how these four device/service combinations compare.

 


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Microsoft releases Office for iPad

Office Mobile on iPad

Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft just released a slimmed down Office suite for iPad–Excel, Word and PowerPoint join an updated OneNote app. Advertised as “free,” it’s not, except for OneNote. If you subscribe to Office365, then all of these iPad Office apps are free. You can download Office Mobile for iPad from the iTunes store.

Non-subscribers can use the apps to view documents only. For now, this leaves out those with personal and corporate desktop licenses. Bummer!

An interesting read on how Office for iPad will impact enterprise mobility.

The Office Mobile suite also includes communication and collaboration tools designed for Window 8 phones. Visit the official Office Mobile website here.