Articles and How To's

Yahoo Lay-offs 

The well known online company Yahoo today confirmed that it will be cutting about 600 jobs, showing the recently circulated rumors to be true. Overall this would mean a reduction of about 4% in yahoo's workforce, though what jobs were being cut specifically was not being mentioned. In a recent email statement a spokesperson said "personnel changes are part of our ongoing strategy to best position Yahoo! for revenue growth." Its no surprise that in the post Google era Yahoo! has been struggling to find a niche that could reinvigorate its user base as well as keep its die hard fans happy.
in a final statement a spokesperson from yahoo said "(we will) continue to hire on a global basis to support our key priorities," and laid-off employees will receive severance packages and outplacement services."
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The end of faxing? 

Every so often, an app comes along that makes you wonder how you got along without it. Case in point: RightSignature (no affiliation, despite the similarity in name; besides, it's free!). For years now, I've been able to fully realize the promise of the paperless office, with one annoying exception: documents requiring a human signature. You know the drill - print the document, dust off the ancient contraption known as the fax machine, wait for a return fax, rescan, etc.

With RightSignature, you email the document to the recipient (or vice versa), and the entire signing and notification process is handled online, digitally and securely. It's free, legally binding, and best of all, you can do it from your iPhone:

Create a free account (there's no account requirement for recipients, by the way), download the free iPhone app, and you're on your way to fax machine freedom!
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Right Brain Consultants at San Mateo Apple Store 

This Wednesday, September 16th, from 7 - 9 pm, Right Brain Consultants will be at the San Mateo Apple Store, located at the Hillsdale Mall on 31st Ave. We'll be on hand to help present a special workshop entitled 'Running Your Business on Snow Leopard,' so if you're interested in finding out what Apple's new OS can do for your business, then come on down. Hope to see you there!
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Contact Management: Getting There, Slowly But Surely 

It seems like such a simple task: maintain a digital address book that's with you wherever you go. But the devil is in the details, as most of us can attest. Although we've come a long way (remember tapping addresses into your Palm III?), some obstacles remain, mostly in the areas of standardization - the use of universally compatible, standards-based contact management tools - and synchronization - maintaining 100% consistency across multiple devices. However, 2009 (OK, let's be realistic - 2010) looks to be the year that we achieve some extremely workable solutions, regardless of what computing platform you're on.

As for standardization, Microsoft's Exchange-based model has been the de-facto standard for contact management (as well as other data types) in the workplace; it's a system that works well, but has left non-compliant platforms and devices out of the action. Apple has taken a major step forward in closing the standardization gap by (finally) including full Exchange support in their new operating system, Snow Leopard. In Snow Leopard's Mail, Address Book, and iCal apps, users can now directly add fully-functional Exchange accounts, just like their Windows counterparts do in Outlook. In the Address Book application, you can add an Exchange account by going to the Address Book menu, then choosing Preferences -> Accounts -> (plus sign) -> Exchange 2007:

At the same time, Microsoft has stepped up to the plate, releasing a new Entourage for Mac, Web Services Edition - which vastly improves Exchange connectivity on the Mac - and promising a version of Outlook for the Mac by 2010.

In yet another move, Apple has developed it's own contact-serving protocol called CardDAV, which is based on open-source standards. CardDAV shows up in the the Address Book Server feature of Apple's new Snow Leopard Server, and nicely handles server-based shared and private address book management, a la Exchange. To add a CardDAV account to the Address Book app, follow the steps listed above, but choose 'CardDAV' as the account type:

And, lest you think that CardDAV is destined to become just another island of exclusivity, many options are springing up that allow CardDAV functionality on Windows, such as this one, which allows a Windows PC running Outlook to connect to a Mac OS X Address Book Server.

Finally, advances in standardization help drive advances in synchronization. As decentralization (the process of moving contacts from local devices to centralized locations such as Exchange, Snow Leopard Server, MobileMe, and Yahoo/Google contacts) becomes more and more viable, the process of contact synchronization across multiple devices yields better results, resulting in far less duplication, "out-of-sync" data, and incompatible contact standards.

If you have any further questions regarding contact management, don't hesitate to contact us. Our technicians are highly-skilled in the administration of Mac OS X and Windows servers, as well as third-party solutions such as Kerio, Zimbra, and Daylite. We'll help you determine the right product for your needs.
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Snow Leopard: Should You Upgrade? 

It's that time again - the every-few-years push by both Apple and
Microsoft to wow users with their shiny new operating systems. This time
around, both offerings (Apple's OS X 10.6 - or Snow Leopard - and Microsoft's Windows 7) aim to scale back on the eye candy and focus mainly on under-the-hood performance.

Should you upgrade? We'll look at Windows 7 in another posting, but Snow Leopard looks to be a compelling upgrade for the Mac faithful, particularly on the server end. (Note that we've been testing both client and server versions of Snow Leopard over the past few months, and have found the following to be empirically true. What follows is not merely marketing gibberish!)

For any business currently running Mac OS X Server, Snow Leopard server represents a huge step forward. Here's why:

1) Address Book Server. It's hard to believe that it's taken this long, but the Mac server platform finally has it's own shared contact solution, just like it's Windows/Exchange counterpart.
2) iCal Server 2. Though it's been plenty buggy in recent years, Apple's calendar server is finally ready for true enterprise usage. Push notifications, global meeting invitations, hassle-free iPhone sync, and actual stability are all present.
3) Mobile Access Server. Secure, encrypted connections to server-based services are now available to remote users, without the need for VPN connections or network configuration changes.
4) Push notifications. Emails, contacts, and events, all "pushed" out to your mobile devices regularly, with little need for end-user interaction.
5) Mail services. A completely revamped mail server, scalable to corporate use, and now including additions such as vacation messages and out-of-office replies.

On the client side, here's what to look forward to:

1) 64-bit computing. Translation: today's 32-bit apps and OS's can access a maximum of 4 gigabytes of memory, while their 64-bit counterparts can access up to 14 terabytes (!) of memory. The result: speed.
2) Grand Central Dispatch. Translation: more efficient multi-core CPU usage, in the form of "delegating" tasks to parts of the CPU that currently go neglected. The result: performance boost.
3) Faster, smaller, and smarter OS installations. For example, the "future you" has upgraded to the hypothetical 10.6.5 version of Snow Leopard, but now you need to reinstall the original 10.6 OS. After reinstallation, you'll still be at...10.6.5!
4) Built-in support for Microsoft Exchange servers via revamped versions of the Mail, iCal, and AddressBook apps. (Coincidentally (or not?), Microsoft is also rolling out full Mac-Exchange functionality with their upcoming Mac Business Edition of Microsoft Office.)
5) Numerous other performance enhancements, such as faster Time Machine backups, faster boot and wake times, and an updated QuickTIme engine for better multimedia handling.

Snow Leopard client and server will ship "sometime in September," according to Apple, but we may see them as early as the end of August. Contact us to find out how Right Brain Consultants can help make your transition to Snow Leopard as seamless as possible. And, click here to win a free 5-user "Family Pack" of Snow Leopard Client! Please put the phrase "Snow Leopard Contest" in the Comments field.
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