Archive for December, 2009

Tech Gems for 2010

As we inch closer to 2010, HouseCall remains committed to keeping our clients informed on ways to ever improve efficiently by utilizing the best technology on the market.  In this effort, we would like to share with you a few gems of technology that may make your workday more efficient in the New Year.

Flip Video Camcorder

This is not your father’s camcorder. The Flip is small, super-portable, and very easy to use. The Ultra HD model ($199.99) allows for up to 120 minutes of HD quality video. It’s perfect for on the fly captures of speeches and presentations, yet has high quality video that looks perfectly professional.

Uploading videos with the Flip is easy. The Flip plugs directly into your computer with USB and comes with software for easy video editing. The software also makes it simple to upload videos directly to YouTube.

Plantronics Wireless Headset

The Plantronics CS55 Wireless Headset ($255.00) is perfect for anyone who spends a great deal of time on the phone. Holding the receiver to your face is painful after a while and doing work one handed can be difficult. Wireless technology and battery life of up to 10 hours allows you to talk on the phone while roaming around up to 300 feet. You can even answer and end calls while you’re away from your desk.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Plantronics headset feel free to contact us.



Having a Kindle from Amazon ($259.00) is like having an entire library (up to 1,500 books!) that weighs only 10.2 ounces. Not only can you read books on the Kindle, but you can also subscribe to newspapers like the Washington Post. The Kindle will even read text to you. Best of all, there’s no glare or backlight so it’s more like reading from a page than a computer screen.

Going Green: Consume less paper by reading important PDFs on your Kindle instead of printing them out.


LaCie iamaKey

Flash drives (also known as thumb drives or USB drives) quickly made floppy disks obsolete by allowing people to easily store and transport more data in a smaller item. The only downside to the small size is how easily it can get lost. The LaCie iamaKey (starting at $21.99 for 4GB) solves that problem by creating a flash drive that is key-shaped so you can attach it to your keyring. Now all you have to do is remember where you put your keys!


Acer Aspire One Netbook

Netbooks are perfect for computing anywhere. It’s small enough to take with you on a plane, on the metro, at work, and at home. The Acer Aspire One is our top choice with the solid hardware necessary for on the go use. With a 10.1” WSVGA CrystalBrite LED backlit LCD screen and a Intel Atom processor N270 you can do anything anywhere. Choose from one of four colors to match your style.


CardScan Executive

Where are all the business cards that you’ve collected over the years? If you’re like most people, they’re probably in a box on your desk taking up space and waiting for the day when you’ll have time to enter each contact into Outlook. If your job is like most jobs, you know that day will never come. CardScan Executive ($259.99) will scan your business cards, extract the important text, and with a click of the mouse transfer that information straight to Outlook. CardScan will process up to 15 cards a minute in color. No one can type that fast! CardScan is also available for Mac.


Adobe Premier Elements

Sometimes free video editing software such as Windows Movie Maker and iMovie isn’t quite enough. Adobe Premier Elements ($99.99) is a popular and affortable software for editing and perfecting videos. This software gives you the opportunity to create clean and professional videos easily: add titles, automatically remove bad footage, include transitions, create picture-in-picture effects, add animations, and more.


Apple Magic Mouse

Adding the scroll wheel to the top of a mouse was smart, but the Apple Magic Mouse ($69.00) is brilliant. It brings the multitouch experience from the iPhone to your mouse. Instead of manipulating the scroll wheel you just slide your fingers on top of the mouse to scroll in any direction. The rest of it works like a regular mouse–you just move it around with your hand and click.

Interested in getting a new Mac to go with the Apple Magic Mouse? Contact us and we’ll see what we can put together!


Sharing Media with YouTube and Flickr

Sharing media has come along way since slide projectors that had to be setup and transported. Today media sharing is free and easy and can be done online. The most popular video sharing site is YouTube. You’ve probably watched funny videos of cats on this website before. Individuals, businesses and other organizations use YouTube to share information through videos. Flickr is the most popular photo-sharing site, and you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take advantage of the amazing service it offers.

There are a few reasons why using Flickr and YouTube to share media instead of merely adding it to your website is a good idea:

  1. Uploading photos and movies is incredibly easy. YouTube accepts eight different common video formats including those used by iMovie and Windows Movie Maker. Flickr automatically resizes large photos into reasonable sizes and creates thumbnails.
  2. Embedding movies from YouTube is a lot easier than manually adding them to your website. Once your video is uploaded to YouTube you just have to paste the code provided on your website. Flickr offers a few options for adding photos to your website, including badges that display your most recent photos.
  3. Using Flickr and YouTube increases exposure to your photos and videos. People that don’t know about your website might find your video on YouTube or your photo on Flickr and visit your website from there. For instance, if someone were looking for videos of sailboats, they might go straight to YouTube and search for sailboats instead of going to a sailboat related website and searching for videos.

To sign up for a Flickr account, you will need a free Yahoo account. If you don’t have one already, sign up here. Once you have your yahoo account, click the “Create Your Account” button on Flickr’s website and follow the simple instructions. Once you’ve signed up you can start uploading photos right away. The Flickr Uploader is software for PC and Mac that makes adding photos incredibly easy. Take the Flickr tour for more information on the features Flickr offers.

YouTube requires a Google account to sign up. You can sign up for your free Google account here. With your Google account ready, click here to create a YouTube account. Once you’re done, uploading videos is easy and adding your videos on your webpage is simple, too. All you need to do is find the “embed” link in the information box to the left of the video. You can see the imbed link at the bottom of the screenshot here:


Just copy what’s in the box and paste it where you would like the video to appear on your website.

That’s all there is to it! YouTube and Flickr make uploading and sharing photos and videos easy and much more fun than a slide projector.

Outlook Rules and Alerts

Having an organized inbox is just as important as keeping a clean workspace. But, if you’re getting hundreds of emails daily, it can be difficult to find time to sort through your many messages. Outlook and other email applications can help you keep your inbox tidy and highlight the important information with rules.

In Outlook, rules are a set of conditions, actions, and exceptions that process and organize messages automatically. Rules are completely customizable to your specific needs and can do many functions that help organize, customize and clean your mailbox. To create a rule for your mailbox, look in the tools menu bar for “Rules and Alerts” and open it. Here, Outlook lets you decide whether to create a rule using a pre-created template or to create a new rule from scratch. While the pre-created templates can be useful, creating a rule from scratch gives you the most flexibility and is what we recommend.

Since there are countless options for creating a rule, we will use an example to explain the process:

Say you want to create a rule that will automatically put all the emails you receive with the word “finance” in the subject into a folder labeled “Financial Information” in your personal folders. Find where it says “Start from a blank rule.” Then choose “Check messages when they arrive.” This tells Outlook to check the emails you receive as opposed to the ones you send. Click next. Check the box next to “with specific words in the subject.” Here you’re telling Outlook to look in the subject line for a specific word or phrase. Other options include looking for emails sent from a specific person, or sent to a certain email address—if you want to sort out emails that are sent to a distribution list you’re on. By clicking the blue underlined “specific words” at the bottom of the page it will let you customize which words you want to specify. Type in “finance” and click add. Now this rule will run on any email that arrives in your inbox with the word finance in the subject. Click OK to return to the previous box and click next.

Now you will designate what you want done with the emails. Check the box next to “move it to the specified folder.” You will need to specify which folder to send it to by clicking on “specified” at the bottom of the dialogue box. Choose the folder in the personal folders labeled “Financial Information” (you will need to create the folder you want the messages to go in beforehand) and click OK to set that option and then click next. This brings us to the exceptions. For the example, we’ll say that you would like this rule only to apply to those messages sent directly to me, if you are being CC’ed they will stay in your Inbox. Choose the box next to “except where my name is in the CC box” and hit next. The rule is now set up! You can now decide whether to run this rule on the emails in that are already in your inbox. This will move any emails in your inbox that follow the rule into the specified folder. You can also choose to turn on or leave it off for the time being. Rules and alerts are only active if they are checked in the “Rules and Alerts” box and the rules you set up will only be active when your Outlook is open.

There are many rules and alerts to customize and we suggest that you utilize this feature to improve efficiency and minimize your workload. For more information and tips on using rules, check out Tips for Managing Your E-Mail Using Rules from Microsoft Office Online.

Please contact us for assistance or further information for other email applications, including Entourage, Apple Mail, etc.