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1st Quarter 2013 - February Issue

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Computing Trends in 2013

Every year, the computer industry advances in interesting and unpredictable ways. To start our first newsletter of the New Year, let’s take a look at some changes that will affect you now and in the year ahead – Windows 8 and MS Office 2013.

Windows 8 - How's it doing?

Released to general retail at the end of October, 2012, Windows 8 had reached 60 million sales by early January. Even so, rumors are that Microsoft is disappointed in the adoption rate, having expected Windows 8 to boost PC and laptop sales over the holidays. That didn’t quite happen.

Two main factors seem responsible for Windows 8’s solid but unspectacular sales. The first is that it represents a radical shift in the look and feel of Windows. Windows 8 is all about large, colorful tiles, touch screens, and gesture control (like pinching your fingers together on the screen to zoom out, or closing an app by dragging your finger down from the top of the screen). The old familiar desktop is gone, or at least buried sufficiently to be difficult to reach.

Windows 8 Surface TabletThe second reason is that, while available, touch screens for PCs and laptops didn’t show up in the numbers Microsoft expected. Manufacturers stayed focused on the still expanding market for tablets instead, so that’s where Microsoft is focusing its ads for Windows 8. If you’ve seen those snappy commercials for Microsoft’s Surface Tablet, that’s Windows 8 strutting its stuff. (www.Microsoft.com/Surface)

Should you adopt Windows 8 for your business? It’s likely a moot question. Microsoft is moving quickly toward its next operating system. Rumors are that 2013 will see yet another Windows revision. It may be marketed as a Windows 8 update or as a major refresh called Windows Blue.

Whatever the next Windows is called, Microsoft will continue with the key revolutions of Windows 8: an operating system that works across and unifies PCs, Tablets, and Smart-phones, one that uses interactive touch as a key component, and leaves behind our old familiar desktop as if it were an archaic left-over of the 20th Century.

MS Office 2013 - What should I know?

MS Office 2013Released to general retail in late January, MS Office 2013 works only on Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers. It comes in four versions: Office 365 Home Premium, Office Home and Student, Office Home and Business, and Office Professional.

Office 365 is the most unusual of the offerings. It’s a web-based subscription service that allows you to use Office on up to 5 PCs/MACs plus select mobile devices. Because Office 365 is online rather than on your computer, it will always be kept up-to-date with changes to Office. Included in the $99/year subscription is 20 GB of online storage and 1 hour of free Skype calls. Of course, should you drop your subscription, you have no software.

Licensing Changes

The Student, Business, and Professional versions still come on DVDs, but with dramatic changes in licensing. To start, each license purchased installs on only 1 PC, without exception.

Downgrade rights (the ability to use a previous version until you are ready to switch to the new version) are not available for the OEM or retail version of Office 2013. Downgrade rights will still be available through Microsoft’s Open Licensing (which costs more but can be thought of a little like an insurance program covering downgrades, upgrades, and transfer of licenses from an old computer to a new one, etc.)

Did They Make It Better?

Claiming that “the professional standard has evolved” in Office 2013, Microsoft reworks some of our favorite office tools from Word and Excel to Outlook and PowerPoint. Here are a few of the highlights.

MS Word 2013
  • In Read Mode, text flows automatically into columns for easier on-screen reading.
  • Reduced menus for less confusion. See only the tools you need, when you need them.
  • Open a PDF in Word and edit content just as if you created it in Word.
MS Excel 2013
  • Now, each workbook has its own window, making it easier to use two workbooks (or two monitors) at the same time.
  • Using charts is easier than ever with a new Recommended Charts button that helps you choose the right chart for your data.
  • Expanded math, trig, statistical, engineering, logical, and lookup functions beef up Excel’s power in the office.
MS Outlook 2013
  • People Cards collect key details about your contacts all in one place.
  • Add your local weather forecast in Calendar view along with current conditions.
  • Integrates with email, appointments, and contacts from Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail).

Which flavor of MS Office 2013 is right for your business? Contact your Shiloh Service Consultant today, and we’ll help you make the right choice the first time.


Far Future Trends - Data Storage on DNA

Data Stored in DNANow let’s take a peak a few decades ahead to an advance no one saw coming.  In late January 2013, the science journal Nature published a study showing how two geneticists, Nick Goldman and Ewan Birney, were able to encode data into DNA molecules and then read the data back.

The information stored in DNA included an MP3 recording from Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and a PDF version of the 1953 paper describing the structure of DNA.

Right now the entire process is slow and expensive; it can only be done in a lab. But isn’t that the way things always start? What has scientists excited is that this may become a very real data archiving process in the next few decades.

The major advantages of encoding data in DNA include enormous storage capacity (all the world’s information might fit in your closet). Secondly, DNA can be stored without using electricity and remain readable for tens of thousands of years, as long as it’s kept in a cool, dark, and dry place (like your closet). Finally, as long as we remain a scientific civilization, DNA will never go out of style, like floppy disks, VHS players, and 8 tracks.

As late as the 1980s no one saw the reality of a computer in every home, and now computing has come to dominate every aspect of our lives. How will things change when all the world’s books fit on a postage stamp and everything else, well, it’s in the closet.

Backup for Today's Businesses

While we’re waiting for the DNA storage revolution, your business has real data, today, that needs to be protected from loss. What’s the best way to do that with current technology?

At Shiloh, we work hard to stay on the cutting edge of data backup and information recovery. We know that your business relies on information today more than ever before.

RDX Hard Drive Backups

With the cost of hard drive storage continuing to decline, Shiloh offers RDX removable drives as our primary data backup for both Network Servers and PCs. The advantages are:

  • Low cost allows for multiple drives, one of which can always be off-site when a proper drive-swap protocol is established.
  • Data recovery is faster than with traditional tape backup systems.
  • Disaster recovery is faster too. If a machine goes down completely, a system image including operating system and data can be transferred to a new machine (even to unlike hardware) in a mere 4-5 hours.

Tape Backups

Without the flexibility and speed of hard drives, the use of tape backups is declining; however, tape backups still have a place for the long-term archiving of data. When the goal is to put important records in storage for years or decades, tape backups still have an edge in longevity and reliability.

Online Backups

In the last few years, a number of online backup services have become popular. Services like Mozy Pro and Carbonite allow you to set up a daily routine where your computer or network storage is backed up continually over the Internet. Where does it go? It ends up safely stored in a state-of-the-art data center using the highest security standards, including SSAE auditing and ISO certification.

Online backups usually work best for small companies and limited amounts of data. The speed of your Internet connection is a factor and storage can be limited compared to an on-site solution. Also, if your computer actually dies, having your data backed up online only solves a small part of your problem.  Data recovery is not the same as disaster recovery.

Which backup strategy is best for you? Ask your Shiloh Service representative to recommend the system that best fits the way you do business.  Contact Us today!

Does Anyone Visit My Website?

Website StatisticsIf you are like most small businesses with a website, you’d probably like to know if anyone visits your site and if there is anything you can know about their behavior.

At Shiloh Service, our new website was launched late last year and we also wanted to know how it was doing. Our hosting service provides some statistics, so we checked there first.

A quick look showed that our unique visitors for January 2013 were higher than any previous month in 2012, up by as much as 45%. All the other stats were up too. That’s good, but is there anything else we can know?

Google Analytics

Today, Google provides a FREE tool that goes way beyond traditional web statistics and is capable of giving you deep insight into the success or failure of your site.

To use Google Analytics, you have to sign up online and have your webmaster install a bit of code on the pages of your website.

Google Analytics DashboardOnce this is done and Google starts to compile data about your website, a world of useful information opens up.

For example, at Shiloh Service, we found that in January, 2013

  • We were found for 73 different search phrases, including “computer maintenance and repair plan.” Google also showed that this was a new visitor who stayed on the site for over 12 minutes.
  • Mainly our visitors came from Pittsburgh, Carnegie, Glenshaw, Greensburg, Irwin, Cranberry Township, and other local municipalities, but we had international interest too (although we probably can’t help the visitors from Mumbai, Hong Kong, and New Dehli).
  • 85% of our visitors were new visitors, 15% were returning visitors.
  • We know our Contact page was the second most visited page (after the Home Page) and that our service plans were in the top 10.
  • We found that 185 other websites link to ours, including the Post-Gazette and Washington Post.
  • In January, 25 visitors used Smartphones or Tablets to visit our website, and on average they stayed twice as long as visitors using desktop computers.

Detail like this can be important over time. Is your website attracting visitors from the right service area and for the right things? Do you have new visitors or only those who already know about your website? If smart-phone and tablet visitors are increasing but your website is a pain to use on smaller devices, you may need to take some action. And remember, Analytics is FREE from Google.

For small businesses that want to know how their website is doing, Google Analytics is an exceptional answer.

Need to learn more? Contact Shiloh Service today.


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