« »

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Energy saving gadgets for the office

It is not just light bulbs and meters that can help you save energy, there are vast ranges of gadgets for the office that can help you save money on your energy bills.  As the office is one of the highest places that consume energy, these will not only save you money, but will really push the image of the ‘Green Business’ home for your employees. Here are a few gadgets that could really benefit your energy saving incentive;
Office energy savings
Small energy adjustments add up

1. Water Powered Calculator

Instead of using the tradition alkaline powered batteries, this can run off tap water. It uses moisture to activate the carbon particles inside the calculator to produce energy. The batteries can last two to three months and instead of replacing them; just fill them up with water again.

 2. Canon Pixma office printer

One of the tips for energy saving is to switch off appliances when not in use. People can forget to do this, but recent development in technology can help. The Canon Pixma has an auto-off mode when not in use. This can be adjusted on the printer and can even start up as soon as a job is sent to it. The printer can also give you CO2 readings and how much you use when printing. It is an effective gadget when it comes to energy saving management.

3. Adblock Plus

It may not seem like an obvious energy saver, but did you know that pop us use extra processing power and lighting on a laptop or computer? This will cause the device to use up more energy when it happens. Using a pop up program such as Adblock will prevent the increased power consumption caused by pop ups. 

4. Laptop saver

Keeping a laptop plugged in, even when it is fully charged can use up energy. This device will manage and check how much charge the laptop needs to be efficient. It will also charge the laptop to the needed amount.  The device will also extend the battery of your laptop. Using products such as the Eliminata laptop saver from Energy Reducing products can save you around £15 per year, per laptop.

5. Eco Kettle

This is for the coffee fanatics in the office. This kettle can save you an average of 30% of energy when used. The kettle comes with two compartments. The first chamber is the reservoir with most kettles holding around 1.5 litres of water. Releasing water into the second compartment from the first will let you boil the exact amount of water needed for coffee or tea, rather than boiling all the water in one compartment every time the kettle is used.

6. Eco Button

Another office gadget for the computer, this device won the Environmental and Energy Award in 2009. Costing between £5 and £10, pushing this button will put the computer into an economical mode. It can connect via USB and you can use it if you need a short break from the computer. Moving the mouse or pressing the keyboard will revive the computer. The software will also give you an indication of how much energy you have saved and can be used to help in an energy audit of your business.

Most of these gadgets are geared towards computer, compared to lightning; they are the next biggest users of energy in the office. Consult an Energy saving specialist for more advice.

    About the author: Harry Price is a writer, poker player and entrepreneur. He enjoys going to the gym and being a personal trainer.

    Image: 1. Riksanteri; US-PD;  2. Author owned and licensed

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Methods brick and mortar companies use to retain market share

    Ecommerce vs. brick and mortar business
    Online retailers can't offer in-store samples or fitting rooms
    As online shopping continues to increase e-retailers' market share, offline retailers or brick and mortar retailers have had to devise strategies to stay competitive and prevent their profit margins from shrinking.

    There are many examples of businesses that have lost business to online competitors. For example, in 2011, Borders Group filed for bankruptcy, in large part due to an increase in online sales from retailers such Amazon (AMZN).

    Another industry competitor, Barnes & Noble (BKS) is still struggling to compete with Amazon (AMZN), in part by establishing its online presence, but also through product line innovation.


    Enhancing services is a method implemented by offline retailers to prevent online shops from acquiring a larger share of industry revenue. For instance, according to the New York Times a majority of offline retailers surveyed are interested in implementing mobile point of sale solutions to improve their customer service. Integrating this and exclusively offline services such as product demonstrations into a retail operation not only adds value to the business, but also provides an additional incentive to visit the location. This in turn increases the probability of increased shares.


    Keeping demand high ensures an increased interest in goods and services. Demand is manipulated in various ways, one example being outlet malls that offer brand names at discounts. These outlets effectively increase demand for a product by attracting price minded shoppers. So long as the discounted prices lead to revenue that exceed costs by a margin equal to, or greater than standard business modeling, then discount outlets are a way to increase demand and compete with online retailers. Lowering operating costs via closing of non-profitable store locations is another way to increase profit margin. A recent example of this is Best Buy, which according to CNN Money, decided to close 50 retail locations.


    Interest in offline store products or services is increased via promotions and marketing that demonstrate the advantages of in-store shopping. Things like trying on clothes, touching and seeing a product in person, not having to wait for items in the mail and being able to interact with store personnel are all advantages for brick and mortar retailers. An online presence is also an advantage per Web Pro News, which states listing inventory online is an advantage to brick and mortar shops. Promotional offers such as sales that discount select items also help offline retailers compete by increasing the traffic flow of customers.


    Being on top of trends also helps offline retailers compete with online ones, and can even have customers lining up at the door before it opens. For example, exclusive offline distribution deals, or obtaining new and limited edition products ahead of general market release catches the attention of consumers looking for the latest great thing. This is illustrated by CBS, which filmed and interviewed customers lining up and camping outside a store hours and days before it opened. More specifically,  these customers were seeking a Nike shoe called the Foamposite Galaxy All-Star shoe.

    Image license: Pixabay/PDP; US-PD

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

    Google's structured searches guide delivery of online information

    Google structured search
    Google uses complex algorithms to help direct search queries efficiently
    Google Knowledge Graph is used to enhance web query efficiency by adding additional information in the initial results page. This reduces the need to investigate individual websites for specific information such as facts about objects, places and people, statistics and additional search result data such as pictures, and related topics. An advantage of Google Knowledge Graph is it is not isolated to specific subject areas; this makes it useful for several purposes.


    Tourists have a useful tool in Google Knowledge Graph because in a single inquiry, site location data, other places of interest and facts about sites become instantly available. For individuals with mobile media devices that support Google searches, this can be particularly useful when touring new destinations or areas such as the Appalachian Trail or Mount Rushmore, and when seeking to find out more about them. According to PC World 40 percent of additional queries sought via the search engine are anticipated by the tool; this makes timely delivery of geographical information all the more useful when traveling.


    Research is also facilitated with Google's new search aid. This is because it benefits from what John Blossom of Shore Communications Inc. cites as “entity relationship mapping.” Moreover, because Google Knowledge Graph reveals interconnections between objects and things it is able to offer the conceptual equivalent of word suggestions or auto-complete by discerning information patterns. This is evidence that even if Google cannot provide the researcher with all he or she seeks, it certainly  does work on improving how it can help them accomplish their information gathering tasks more effectively.


    For the business that requires information, Google is a beneficial tool. Semantic Web makes this evident by illustrating how the enhanced feature yields structured search results relevant to business objectives such as seeking to acclimate with locations during business travel. Furthermore, investors can quickly gather corporate data with the tool by simply typing the company's name in the search bar. It does not stop there either, the same features can be used by a wide range of business such as art tour guides seeking to verify or incorporated data into their service, or paranormal investigators seeking local facts.


    Another way to use Google Knowledge Graph is for entertainment purposes. To illustrate, typing the words “rock and roll” into the Google search bar causes the search feature to return information on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Additionally, according to ABC News, the tool will incorporate its own social networking database, Google Plus, into search results. Another way the tool is entertaining is for those interested in trivia; for instance, typing in “baseball” or “golf” into a Google search provides information on prominent athletes in the sport.


    The enhanced search feature from Google is also a learning aid. According to Web Pro News, drawing information from databases while retrieving search results makes this possible. By gathering information more intuitively in this way, Google is also able to guide the information delivery process. In some instances, educators or students benefit from this as the tool is functional as an instructional aid that  reduces the need for additional searches, printouts, and manual demonstration via traditional instructional methods such as dry erase boards.

    Image: Simon/Pixabay; US-PD

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    Auto manufacturers are back in the driver's seat

    In 2014, U.S. auto sales are forecast to exceed 16 million vehicles.  Crossovers, large vehicles and large trucks have led the way per the Wall Street Journal. In the wake of the  General Motors Company and Chrysler Group bankruptcies, bailouts and restructurings, both these vehicle manufacturers, in addition to Ford Motor Company, have seen their revenue streams increase substantially. Yet even with positive industry data, the U.S. auto industry has had to bounce back from significant commercial obstacles. One such example is the vast amount of auto recalls GM has made in the recent past.


    In the first five months of 2014, monthly domestic retail auto sales have consistently been above 400 thousand units per month per the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. Year-over-year sales were 4.3% higher than the first half of 2013 according to Forbes. By comparison, in 2009, there were months were the number of units sold were under 300 thousand units. Toyota and General Motors are still the largest auto manufacturers in terms of global market share and sales of  electric vehicles have also been increasing indicating a trend toward fuel efficiency and a lower carbon footprint.

    Electric vehicle sales
    Electric vehicles produce lower carbon emissions and are more fuel efficient


    In the U.S. pickup trucks are a money maker for auto producers per Forbes. Despite strong competition from international companies, global auto industry sales from GM, Ford and Chrysler has averaged 44.45 percent of total global auto manufacturing market share since 2008 per Motor Trend. In 2014, GM and Ford hold approximately 34.5% of global market share. Moreover, of the five largest auto manufacturers, both Toyota and Honda have lost .6 percent more market share than U.S. manufacturers since 2008. However, combined U.S. Japanese and U.S. market share shrank from 74.6 percent in 2008 to 64.8 percent in 2011.


    In terms of the transportation trends among Americans, people are driving their cars for longer and drivers are seeking alternatives methods of transportation. For example,  in 2011, scooter sales rose 11.8 percent according to the Motorcycle Industry Council, and Q1, 2012 motorcycle and scooter sales rose 8.8 percent per the L.A. Times. Additionally, the average length of time passenger cars are driven rose to 11.1 years in 2011, from 8.4 years in 1995 per R.L. Polk and Co.


    Employment in the vehicle manufacturing industry has shrunk even though hiring has increased since 2009. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in February 2000, 1.33 million workers were employed in the motor vehicle and parts industry, whereas by May 2012 the number was 770 thousand. Automotive industry statistics also indicate the non-automotive components of the economy are growing at a slower rate. This is because the declining U.S. automotive industry in terms of market share has only declined 1.43 percent as a portion of total retail sales between January 2008 and May 2012 per the Commerce Department.

    Image license: Mariordo; CC BY-SA 3.0