Smart Phone

Tools of the Tech Trade: TechQuility’s Favorite Android Apps

TouchDownAs smartphones increasingly become cemented into our daily lives, more apps are created to help companies get work done. For every industry, there are probably at least a dozen or more apps that you can use to accomplish any number of important tasks. And then there are the apps that work across multiple industries.

But how do you know if an app is right for you and your needs? You don’t, at least not testing the app.

However, in lieu of that, we thought we’d share some of the top apps used by TechQuility’s principal, Chris Barber. While some of these apps are strictly tech troubleshooting tools, some of the apps listed are great tools regardless of your industry. Maybe there’s an app in here that is a great tool for your business too.

Barcode Scanner: This app was created to scan bar codes to research prices and reviews, scan QR codes and more. Great for when you’re out shopping, just scan an items barcode, and then access price information and reviews to make sure you’re getting a good deal. This app is available for free.

IP Info: This app allows you to view your IP address and other network information straight from your phone. It also allows you to cut information and paste it into other applications such as email, or your remote desktop session to your secure server. This app is free.

Remote RDP: This app allows you to access computers remotely using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) so that you can connect to your computer remotely, via your Android phone. One of the great features about this app is that it supports a Full PC keyboard and mouse setup, making it even easier to access items remotely. This app is not free, but is worth the price.

Smart Tools: An all-inclusive measuring app, Smart Tools features 15 measuring tools in one. This is a great app for

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any sort of building / home improvement / site setup project. While the app isn’t free, it’s relatively cheap, and worth the price.

Speedtest.net: This is a phone app version of the classic speedtest.net website, an internet speed testing website. Instead of running to the computer, you can quickly test your internet connection speeds straight from the phone. This can be helpful if

you’re troubleshooting wireless connection slowness. This app is free.

Square Register: Square is an app that allows you to accept credit card payments directly from your smartphone. You do need the app and the Square card reader to use the service, but both are provided for free from Square.

TouchDown: A robust email management app, Touchdown allows you to sync emails, contacts, calendar items, and tasks from Outlook to your Android phone, so that you can keep up with your schedule and emails, even when you’re on the go. While not free, TouchDown does offer a 30 day trial; however we’ve found the app is well worth the price. Requires Android 2.x or higher.

Wifi Analyzer App: As featured in our article There’s a Reason Your Wireless Might Be Slow (And What You Can Do About It), the Wifi Analyzer app is a favorite app for troubleshooting wireless congestion and slowness issues. This app is free to use.


Julie Strier is a freelance

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writer who likes to help you find smartphone apps you can actually use. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

4 Ways to Enable Your Employees to Work Remotely

Work from Anywhere

Image Credit: Ed Yourdon

If your business doesn’t allow employees to work remotely, it could be at a big disadvantage, especially compared to the competition. In today’s fast paced world of mobile devices and instant connections, the business that doesn’t take advantage of their technology is the one left behind. Will that be your business?

It could be, particularly if your current network configuration doesn’t allow for employees to access the office remotely. While there are many benefits to allowing your employees to work remotely, perhaps the greatest benefit of all is being able to access important information and records on demand, no matter where you are. By having access like this, you can instantly provide quotes, documentation, or any other item needed, without having to travel back to the office, saving both your employees and customers time.

There are quite a few ways you can enable your employees to work remotely, allowing your business to be as mobile and as flexible as your industry demands.

Allow Email Access on Cell Phones

Most smart phones today have the ability (and proper software) to access office email. If you are hesitant about allowing remote access to the office completely, consider starting with remote email access. At the very least, this will allow employees to stay updated on their email throughout the day. If your office communicates important information via email, this will also allow remote employees to get the memo long before they step foot in the office.

Provide Equipment – Laptop, Mini’s, or Tablets

One of the easiest ways to ensure your field employees have access to the office is by providing them with the equipment they need to be mobile. This includes providing a laptop or other portable computer so that employees have the right equipment. If equipment weight is a concern, consider going with a lighter, smaller device, such as a mini-laptop (aka netbook), or a tablet. If cost is a concern, consider issuing one computer to remote employees – a laptop – that they use both inside and outside of the office.

However it is important to note that providing equipment is just the first part of the equation, your network setup also has to allow for employees to access the office remotely.

Setup Remote Web Workplace

Depending on your edition of Microsoft Server, your business may already have the tools it needs to allow employees to connect remotely, using Remote Web Workplace. This Microsoft feature allows employees to access the office from any computer with internet access, by using a specialized website address.

From there they can access email, or log into a computer on the network.  Remote Web Workplace is particularly useful for allowing employees to work from home during a personal emergency, as they can use their own desktop computer which is already setup for their job duties.

Setup a TermServer

Another way to allow remote access is to setup a TermServer, which is a server that employees can log into using a remote desktop connection. One of the advantages of using a termserver along with Remote Web Workplace, is that you can have multiple employees logged onto same computer at once. Employees can access the termserver using a Remote Desktop Connection, or using the Remote Web Workplace, and selecting the server instead of their desktop computer.

These are just a few of the ways you can enable your employees to work remotely, allowing your business to stay ahead of the competition.

If you have questions about how remote access could work for your business, please contact us today so that we may discuss your options.

How to Clean Your Cell Phone

Germs on Keyboard

Image Credit: Sappymoosetree

Your cell phone is dirtier and more bacteria laden than you realize. Studies are finding that cell phones have more germs on them than toilet seats, and that up to 16% of all cell phones have poop on them. Eww. And we don’t think twice about placing our cell phones against our faces.

Instead of worrying about what, exactly, is living on your phone, take the time to clean it regularly and you won’t have to wonder any more.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for cleaning your cell phone. These tips can also be applied to most electronic devices (like your remote control, which is the most germ laden device you own).

Don’ts

To ensure you don’t grab the wrong product or cleaner, we’ll review the don’ts first.

Cleaning Your Phone

In order to clean your phone, you will need to gather a few items. Here’s what you’ll need.

Items to Gather:

  • Isopropyl alcohol or Disinfectant Wipes made for electronics
  • A Microfiber cloth (more than one if your phone is really dirty)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Can of air (optional)

To Clean Your Phone:

1. Mix the isopropyl alcohol with water to make a cleaning solution. You will want a ratio of 40 % alcohol, 60% water (or something similar). The point is to not use straight alcohol, or straight water. If you have disinfectant wipes made for electronics, you can also use those.

2. Spray the alcohol mixture onto the microfiber cloth. DO NOT apply the mixture to your cell phone directly. The cloth should be damp, but not wet. Wipe down the LCD, and any outside surfaces of the phone.

3. For hard to reach areas and crevices, dip a cotton swap into the cleaning solution, squeeze with a cloth to remove the excess moisture (again you want it damp, not wet), and clean those difficult areas. If crumbs or other crud is really stuck on there, try using a can of air to spray out any debris.

4. If your phone has buttons, use a cotton swab to clean around the buttons. It’s also a good time to clean around the charging port, as germs and other gunk can gather there too.

5. Allow your phone to dry thoroughly before using.

Other Tips

Use scotch tape to remove finger prints and other strange debris on your screen and phone. Note, this will not remove germs.

UV light is a great way to keep your phone clean, but is a more expensive solution. Some UV light solutions include a wand that you wave over your device, or a container that you put your device in to clean it. However, these solutions start at $50 on up, depending on the light.

Cleaning your phone, and other devices, ensures that you and anyone else who uses those devices, is safe from bacteria and other dangerous germs. Make it a habit to clean your phone at least monthly, and you’ll never worry about this problem again.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help others learn how to clean and maintain their technology. Email: julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website:www.mybusinesswriter.com.