How Smartphones Change the Way We Live

iphone listen to music

With the launch of the first generation of the iPhone back in 2007 the world has changed more than you can imagine. First of all, the launch has put a small computer capable of accessing the internet into the pockets of a generation, forever changing the way we communicate with each other. But it has brought more subtle changes into our lives, changes that will become even more apparent in the future.

Smartphones have changed the way we play our favorite games

iphone play game

The first truly successful mobile game was Snake, created by a Nokia engineer in 1997. Almost two decades later mobile gaming has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. People play everything on their phones, from racing games to Euro Palace casino games, whenever they want and wherever they might be.

In the future smartphones will become part of our gaming experience on other platforms, too. Fallout 4, a recently launched RPG/shooter title, for example, uses an in-game device called the Pip Boy to display stats, inventory and other useful information. The game was released with a companion app, available for iOS and Android, allows players to connect it with the game they have installed on their computer, and using it in a way similar with the in-game device, bringing the gaming experience one step closer to the real world.

Smartphones have changed the way we listen to music

Music streaming is an increasingly popular service – no wonder that all the big names want a slice of the cake. Services like Spotify and Deezer have been around for quite some time. This year both Apple and Google have launched their music streaming services – Apple Music and Google Music. But Google has even gone one step forward – it has launched its YouTube Music service days ago, allowing users to listen to endless streams of their favorite tunes on the go.

Why is YouTube Music special? Because it leverages Google’s access to the users’ musical tastes and preferences. Consider this: as a YouTube user, you have given Google insights into what music you like to listen to. Using this data, Google can offer you a much more personal experience through YouTube Music.

YouTube Music offers the functionality of a radio station that always plays music you like to listen to. You can even tell it either to explore into genres you haven’t really experienced before, or make it a bit more restrictive and stick to what you like. Digging deep into the breadcrumbs you left behind while searching for music on YouTube and clicking through playlists Google can offer you an unparalleled listening experience out of the box.

How Going Green Can Save The World And Your Bottom Line

smart heating

Can we cut our electricity costs?

One website says it is possible through deregulated electricity companies which allow you to consume less electricity and slash costs at the same time. The reason the government has encouraged deregulation is because the world is running out of energy. Traditional fuel sources like oil and coal are non-renewable.

At the current rate of energy consumption, we are heading for trouble. We won’t have enough energy to light up our homes or run our businesses. The effort to find new sources of energy and to use our current forms of energy better is being called green energy.

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan is an concerted effort to go green According to the Department of Energy: “Responsible development of all of America’s rich energy resources — including solar, wind, geothermal, bioenergy and water– is an important part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and will help ensure America’s continued leadership in clean energy. Moving forward, the Energy Department will continue to drive strategic investments in the transition to a cleaner, domestic and more secure energy future.”

Your Role in The Green Energy Movement

How does all this apply to you?

As a small business owner, there are many things you can do to contribute to the green energy movement.

Essentially, there are three ways you can make a positive impact on the environment.

  1. Reduce heating consumption and costs.
  2. Reduce lighting consumption and costs.
  3. Reduce water costs.

By making better use of electricity and improving energy conservation in your business, you will save money, too.

Slash Heating Costs

Let’s start with heating.

First, set temperatures at about 66 degrees Fahrenheit (about 19 degrees Celsius) for your office, meeting rooms, and break rooms. Avoid wasting heat on unessential areas like storerooms. Leave your thermostatic radiator valve at position 3 to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Second, don’t let the heat escape by keeping doors and windows open. You not only let the heat escape, but you also let the cold air sweep into the room. This defeats the purpose of setting the heat in the first place.

Third, make sure the heat flows freely. One way of blocking it is to put furniture in front of the radiators.

Fourth, only heat your offices during working hours. Inform those in charge of the building about your occupation hours so that they can update their controls, too.  They may be heating up the corridors to your office.

Fifth, fix anything that is a source of energy leaks, like windows or doors that don’t shut properly. Repair could prevent heat loss, save costs, and make the office more comfortable for everyone.

Cut Lighting Costs

Businesswoman using digital tablet in office

Next, let’s consider lighting.

First, turn off lights when you leave the room. There is a strange misconception that it’s cheaper to leave the light on all the time. Second, use natural light when you can. It is healthier than artificial light and saves you from wasting money. Third, don’t light up the whole office during after hours when people have more than enough light in their individual offices. Use dimmer light if you still need to light up the reception area and corridors.

Fourth, use energy-efficient light bulbs. Commenting on the traditional light bulbs, Consumer reports says, “They’ve had a good long run, 134 years, but come January [2014] most screw-in incandescent light bulbs will have been phased out because they use too much energy. There’s no need to hoard bulbs. Our tests found that new LEDs and CFLs are light-years ahead of earlier versions.”

Stamp Out Water Wastage

Finally, let’s take a look at water consumption.

First, do routine checks of the washrooms. Think of a leak as dripping money. Water is wasted when faucets leak, urinal controllers don’t fit properly, or  cisterns fill up continuously.

Second, use the right temperatures in the breakrooms. When boiling, whether for coffee or food, heat water to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) to protect from Legionella bacteria. But when washing hands in the sink, temperature should be at about 109 Fahrenheit (about 43 degrees celsius).

What Else Can You Do?

Reducing heating, lighting, and water consumption will go a long way in contributing to the environment and lowering your business costs. But another thing you could do is to switch electric office equipment off when leaving. This prevents heat from building up in a room. While many offices just leave equipment in standby mode, it still wastes power for no good reason.

Top 5 Websites to Get Your Game On

Visitos use keyboards to play computer games during the EGX gaming conference at Earls Court in London, U.K., on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. Sony Corp. will begin selling its PlayStation TV set-top box in the U.S. and Europe next month with almost 700 games available, including select Angry Birds, Borderlands, Lego and FIFA soccer titles. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Are you on the lookout for some new apps to get your game on? Look no further. We’ve done the (not so) hard work for you and tested the best apps on the internet to keep you distracted, get your adrenaline going, and your heart pumping. Whatever you’re in the mood for, we’ve covered all the bases.

Let’s face it, the reason most of us play games is to fill in commute time or distract us in waiting rooms. Bored has got you covered for everything from classics such as Monopoly to the weirdly addictive Earn to Die where you have to quickly unlock vehicles and escape across the city from swarms of zombies. As well as games, Bored is a great way to while away time on the internet with funny clips, links, and videos on the site to keep you amused for hours.

Looking for a great mix of really well-produced games to keep you entertained for hours that also let you connect with friends so you don’t have to game alone? Then Zynga is your best bet. Connect with friends and play Words with Friends, or try your luck on the slots on Hit it Rich. Tried and tested games like Farmville are sure to please, but new addition Empires & Allies is a heart hammering way to pass the time allowing you to connect with friends, make allies, develop military strategy and engage in a never-ending battle to control the world.

pc gamers

Titanbet is a one-stop-shop for all your gaming needs: enjoy playing in the world of big-name characters such as Thor, the Avengers, and the Pink Panther, or find the best betting tips for your favourite team through the different categories of sports, adventure, and arcade amongst others. Try your hand at winning big on jackpot games such as Deal or No Deal and Jackpot Giant where you’re always just one move away from a windfall. A great site for people looking for good graphics, good gambling, and top sports games.

Miniclip is great for passing by a minute or two here and there. With addictive and absorbing games like Cut the Rope and Cubis that you can tap in and out of, Miniclip is the place to find games that you’ll find totally engrossing whilst you play them but not too hard to leave when the time comes. This site is perfect for puzzle lovers: not one to try if you’re looking for gambling or sports.

Popcap is home to a lot of the big name games in recent years. Indulge your inner child with Plants vs. Zombies and enjoy the quirky, cartoonish characters. Or, try your hand at a Bourne-identity style mystery in Hidden Identity: Chicago Blackout where you wake in a hotel room with amnesia and have to race against the clock to piece together memories and items from your past to form a sense of your identity.

Hopefully that’s given you some ideas to keep you entertained for now: check back next time for more gaming sites, apps, and tips to keep you tapping!

Keeping Your Team In Form And Proactive

Coworkers at workstations in high tech office

However big or small a company is, it’s essential that all of the contributing parts work together smoothly as a whole. In order to hit targets and achieve goals, your team needs to consistently hit a certain expected level of productivity. When standards slip below that level, problems start to arise. Productivity and performance drop and the company as a whole suffers, which can ultimately lead to an end-of-year loss, redundancies and closures.

With this in mind, it’s important to keep your team operating at peak form and on its own initiative, adapting to new challenges and rising to meet situations as they come along. Even minor personal problems can affect staff morale, which in turn affects productivity. On the other hand, an employee may just need guidance to adjust wasteful working practices and up their game.

Issues that affect productivity

There’s an old saying that you should leave your problems at the door when you come to work, but the modern office manager knows that this isn’t always possible. There are many personal issues that will unavoidably impinge on concentration and focus at work. These could include relationship problems, money worries, depression, illness or drug and alcohol dependency.

team photo office

A good manager needs to take a proactive approach to solving these problems. The first step is regular one-to-one sessions with your staff. If their work is slipping, try to find out why and offer to help them rectify the problem, rather than issuing threats of demotion or dismissal. They may tell you their marriage is in trouble, or they’re worried about a sick relative, in which case it could be appropriate to offer counselling sessions.

Keeping the office healthy

Your office should be a healthy environment if you want the best for your staff. No one does their best work in a damp, stuffy or freezing cold room. Extra employment benefits could include gym membership or private healthcare insurance, and healthy eating should be encouraged, with regular lunch breaks rather than snacking in front of a computer.

Looking after your employees also means looking out for substance abuse issues. Let your staff feel they can talk to you, and if they admit to a problem with drink or drugs, try to help them get over it with counselling or rehab instead of immediately sacking them. Many won’t admit they have a problem, even to themselves. Mandatory drug testing can help these individuals and shouldn’t necessarily be seen as draconian. An oral fluid lab test is simple and effective and will bring any problems to light, which is the first step to dealing with them.

Setting goals

An incentive programme can encourage employees to take responsibility for their own productivity. Targets and goals should be appropriate to the individual. If the bar is set too high, the stress and worry of trying to meet it could cause an employee’s work to deteriorate still further. Set reachable goals and consider lowering them if necessary.

Keeping a team proactive involves earning their trust and helping them to help themselves. It’s better to put time and resources into helping them solve problems rather than having them waste time and lower collective morale. Set goals and expect high standards, but also help those who stumble along the way.