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Five Bad Tech Habits to Break in the New Year

In New Zealand internet & technology surrounds us - at work, at home, as we travel. Most of us use a computer, smartphone or tablet every day, multiple times a day. Although this technology can be enormously useful - connecting us with friends and making our jobs much easier, it also leads to bad habits. Since it's a new year, it's a good time to look at some of these habits and see if we can't break them. Here are five of the most common bad tech behaviours and some ideas to end them.
1. Put the phone down! Most of us carry our phone with us at all times - and when it's a smartphone, it's all too easy to go online to check Facebook or Twitter. This piece of technology can be very disruptive to our IRL (in real life) relationships with our friends and family. Put the phone down when you are having a meal with someone and don't use your phone for conversations on the bus or other confined public spaces. Be friendly with your phone usage.
2. Sit up straight! How many of us sit for hours in front of a computer - at work or at home - in a position that's comfortable but not the best for our backs? Sitting slouched in front of a computer with a poorly positioned screen, an unsupportive chair and a desk that's not the right size and shape is a recipe for body aches and pains. Reassess your sitting position in relation to the technology you use. Visit your local furniture store and see if they can suggest chairs and desks that would be more suited to your body.
3. Back up your data! This is a simple one, but you'd be surprised how many people aren't backing up their most important data. Make sure you get an external hard drive or USB and copy your most significant data to this device. Check that you can restore from this external device so if the worst happens and your PC crashes, all your important information is safely stored and retrievable.
4. Go to sleep! As technology becomes smaller and more portable, we're increasingly bringing our devices to bed with us. Although this is convenient, it's terrible in terms of disrupting our sleep. The light from these devices stimulates our brains and bodies into thinking it's daytime - making it harder to fall asleep. Plus, the activities we use this technology for engage our minds and keep us awake. Try not to take your smartphones and tablets to bed - your body will thank you for it. 5. Secure your stuff! With so many devices and applications requiring passwords these days, it's easy to use the same password for multiple gadgets - and choosing a simple, easy to remember phrase for these. If your password is `password' or 12345678, you are at risk of having your technology hacked. Chose a complicated password and change it for different applications - this way you can be sure of being safe and secure.

Written by James on the 16/01/13

Small Business and the Internet

It's hard for most of us to imagine living without the internet - using Facebook, communicating with email or banking and shopping online. Despite this, only a third of New Zealand small to medium businesses have websites. Not having a web presence means many small businesses are missing out on trade, since 8 out of 10 Kiwis search online before making shopping decisions according to internet giant Google. So how exactly can business internet help SME's and why should they get online?

One of the very obvious benefits of the internet for small business relates to its accessibility (and updatability). Most small businesses have limited opening hours due to such constraints as staff numbers. With the internet, these constraints no longer apply and businesses have the ability to extend hours to 24-7 without a physical presence. Moreover, the internet gives a business the ability to display a catalogue of products and services and to instantly update information which can be viewed internationally. This raises small businesses' status to that of more affluent companies, providing easy communication with current and prospective customers. Generally this communication generates sales leads, while keeping present customers aware of new products and services.

For small businesses retailing products (and in some cases services) the benefits of having business broadband and being on the internet are massive. The ability to offer safe and secure transactions over the internet means businesses can engage in immediate online sales. As well as this, one big incentive to having an internet presence relates to customer service. When customers have easy access to product details and technical support solutions, their satisfaction levels tend to increase. It also reduces the costs for small business since fewer staff is needed to handle customer enquiries and in some cases complaints.

Finally, there is practical value for small businesses in having a web presence. For example, a digital map can provide a businesses' local location while statistics on who is visiting a site can determine where businesses should allocate resources. If a small business sets up a website with feedback forms, customers can directly interact with an operation and stronger relationships will be fostered. Really, there are multiple reasons why small business and the internet go hand in hand - more and more there is an expectation that a business will have some sort of presence on the internet.

Written by James on the 22/11/12

Are landlines soon to be a thing of the past?

Do you find yourself using your landline less and less? Compare that with your smartphone - when was the last time you used your mobile? The truth is the landline telephone is a form of technology that is rapidly becoming extinct - especially amongst younger people and students. Let's face it, all you can do on a landline is make calls, you can do this on a smartphone and so much more - text, use Facebook and Twitter, play games and access the web. However, one major factor in favor of the landline has been the cost of making mobile calls. With new VOIP smartphone products coming out, this factor may soon be extinguished.

Recently internet service provider, Woosh, has introduced new naked broadband plans to tempt more people to do away with their landline and use smartphones for all home calling. This scheme works by linking a smartphone (with downloaded app) to local, mobile and international calling networks via a home's landline. It allows people using `naked' broadband - hooking up internet access without a rented landline - to make calls on their smartphone as they would using a landline.

For students this could be a particularly attractive option - especially in a flatting situation. Rather than having the hassle of dividing up the landline bill amongst a household, students in a shared living environment can simply take responsibility for their own smartphone costs. Of course cost is the key reason to make the switch and eliminating the landline option should save about $40 dollars per month - depending on the plan.

Prices for plans fluctuate - and as competition has increased costs have come down. Currently, Vodafone's 60GB naked broadband plan costs $95 a month, Slingshot offers an unlimited data naked plan for $90 and TelstraClear offers 60GB for $76. Woosh's top-tier Unzipped plan offers 80GB of broadband data for $94 while Telecom's Total Home Mobile plan costs $99 for 40GB, including landline rental. So it's clear by eliminating the landline customers can save on costs and increase their data allotment.

There are a few reasons why some people might keep a dedicated home phone. Firstly, obviously you need a smartphone. Smartphones are expensive and if you don't already have one, it may not be worthwhile getting one for this purpose. Secondly, call quality might suffer particularly in rural areas and this may be an issue for people who make a lot of calls. Finally, some people may wish to retain their landlines for security and emergency purposes - it's important to remember that landlines were the only communications available soon after the major earthquakes in Christchurch and some parts of New Zealand still don't get mobile coverage.

Despite these reservations, for many people, choosing to use a smartphone for all home calling seems like a good option and in future it looks likely that this will be taken up by more and more consumers.

Written by James on the 23/10/12

The Rural Broadband Initiative

The agonies of rural broadband, once experienced, is hard to forget. On a bad day, looking at a simple image may have its annoyances ? when an overseas cousin emailed a photo of himself, the whole family gathered around the desktop to watch the picture display a mohawk, a forehead, an eyebrow at 30 second intervals, until we decided to come back after dinner.

With 13% of New Zealanders living in rural areas, Internet service providers are facing the challenge of satisfying rural customers with the same Internet privileges as urban customers. Internet is not always a central component in these areas, and my rural-dwelling parents would proudly (and somewhat stubbornly) proclaim that good Internet is not needed for them to go by their daily lives and stick with their 2GB per month. Although this may be true for the older generation, students, businessmen, and professionals have a rather different story.

The government?s ?Rural Broadband Initiative? proposed in 2010 plans to satisfy the needs of rural schools, hospitals, businesses, and homes with a specific rural broadband. The aim is to increase Internet speed in at least 86% of rural areas to 5Mbps (currently rural homes deal with 2Mbps or less while urban use 10Mbps) by the end of 2015 and extending area coverage by building towers and expanding on existing fiber network. Vodafone and Telecom are in partnership for this project and it is now possible to purchase rural broadband for $80 per month for 5GB of data at 5Mbps. At first glance, this looks immensely mean, since urban broadband costs about $80 per month for 30 ? 50GB of data at 10Mbps.

However, considering the cost of setting up towers and fiber networks to make this a possibility, it makes sense in the long run. Just as those living far away would be expected to pay for more fuel, the distance from the destination cannot always be compensated. Yet with the requirements of Internet increasing in our generation (and beyond), a sturdy rural broadband is necessary. In other words, the expensive equipment, the high price plans ? it has to start somewhere, and the Rural Broadband Initiative is a realistic first step.

Written by Sam on the 15/09/12

Internet Provider for the Students

As students looking for an Internet provider, our priorities are simple. Internet must be affordable, because not many of us work. It must be reliable and fast, because a bunch of us are gamers and seeing our army beaten up because of lag is greatly upsetting. Although most students by now are able to grit their teeth through temperamental disconnections (we are not as impatient as you think), serious lag does trigger the occasional tantrum (we are not as mature as you think either). This may sound superficial but when students asked whether they would consider changing their Internet provider for the sake of a smoother game, most of them nodded eagerly. Internet must also provide us with sufficient data so that we don?t beat our flatmates up when we find out we?ve reached the data cap by the second week.

(By the way, if you are wondering how much data you should buy per month ? the average customer used up 9GB of Internet in 2011, however by the end of the year, most subscribers were switching to 20-50GB of data per month. 20GB of data is approximately 100 hours of streaming video, which is around 120 sitcom episodes.)

The most popular Internet service providers for New Zealand tertiary students seem to be Telecom, Slingshot, Orcon, and Woosh. Although each offers their own type of special packages and deals, Telecom, although known to be more expensive, was thought to have the fastest connection speed with good reliability. Slingshot is cheap for the data is provides, and Orcon?s ?Genius? deals are suitable for students. Woosh is another popular Internet provider, and has been rated the top broadband provider in New Zealand by CANSTAR.

In short, Internet providers that university students look for are cost-effective companies that are reliable enough for them to achieve schoolwork, social activities (including gaming, whether you see that as socialising or not) and students wanting to sit on our revolving chairs watching countless episodes of ?The Big Bang Theory? or ?Doctor Who? without wondering why it is taking ?2 years, 3 days and 54 minutes? to download.

Written by Sam on the 06/08/12

*Disclaimer

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Woosh Wireless LTD or any subsidiary companies. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within these articles are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.
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