Here's The Best Windows 8 Desktop Mouse I Can Find edit
Sunday, March 23, 2014 12:01

Tags: microsoft | windows 8 | Windows 8.1

A4A readers, as measured by hits, have shown high interest in stories about Windows 8. So here's look at my new mouse, the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic.


Windows 8, as confusing as it may be, is here to stay, and this complicated operating system has inspired a new kind mouse that has that blue Windows button in the picture below, which toggles to the Start screen, which is a nice feature for Windows 8 users.   

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But the Sculpt Ergonomic, which you can find on Amazon for about $42 plus shipping is different not just because of its Windows button. It's also different because its shape differs from conventional mice.


The larger Sculpt Ergonomic is much rounder and taller than a traditional mouse. So the way you wrap your hand around it different from a conventional mouse.


This is not a mouse you'd want to use with your laptop or tablet. It's big, beefy body is designed with ergonomics in mind. This is kind of like holding a softball in your hand--actually it's between the size of a software ball and hardball.


A big mouse, even for a small-handed man like myself, feels better than a small one. Plus, this mouse makes you rest your wrist naturally on your desktop. That's not hype. It really is more comfortable than the smaller Windows 8 mouse I use with my Surface Pro laptop, the Sculpt Comfort Mouse. You will naturally hold your wrist almost perpendicular to your desktop surface instead of holding your wrist almost parallel to your desk. Interesting.


The other big difference between the two is that the more portable Sculpt Comfort, which costs about $30 on Amazon, does not need a USB receiver to be plugged into your computer. It connects using bluetooth without the USB. The bigger Sculpt Ergonomic, however, does require a USB be inserted in your computer.


Both of these mice work on batteries -- two AAs for the bigger model versus two AAAs for the smaller one. If you'd prefer a rechargeable Windows desktop mouse, you'll have to wait. Logitech, the king of mice, does not manufacture one yet. If you use Microsoft's Sculpt Ergonomic mouse, you will need to shut off the mouse by flipping the switch on the bottom of the mouse to the "off" position. It's easy to do, but takes some training to remember to switch it off every time you leave your desk, which means you will need new batteries once every month or two. 


Should I feel guilty about not being more green? Should all of us good people be using rechargeable mice?

Confessions Of A Tech Junkie, And The Latest Computer Monitors For Making Effective Client Presentations edit
Thursday, February 06, 2014 12:35

Tags: advisor technology | client communications | client education | content marketing | productivity | Surface Pro 2 | Windows 8.1

About a week after I purchased an $860 27” a WQHD 2560X1440 touchscreen monitor, Lenovo announced a plan to release a UHD 3840x2160 touchscreen “smart” monitor in July 2014. My wife is going to kill me because I’ll probably buy the new one, too. Here’s why.

At the end of the year, I blogged about (and could not resist buying) the Acer T272HUL bmidpcz 27-Inch WQHD Touch Screen Widescreen Monitor. WQHD is the newest thing, and this is the only affordable WQHD touchscreen monitor you can find. It sells for just $160 over the price of a 27”-inch Dell touchscreen with a mere HD 1080p resolution. Put another way, a 2560x1440 monitor from (Dell U2713hm) sells for $700. So I was paying $160 for touch-sensitivity. 

For me, that $160 was well-spent because I can write about my experience with this monitor and telling you about the latest technology for making great presentations is so important to your success. You need to know to avoid

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WQHD monitors and wait until the Lenovo ThinkVision Pro 2840 debuts in July 2014. If you're a financial advisor, you need to know that, if you're looking for a new monitor, the best monitor for advisors to use for making presentations in their office is going to be this 4K touch screen Lenovo monitor that will serve as a desktop touch-controlled display for use with Windows 8.1 and also be a fantastic display for making presentations in-person or over the Web.
Do Not Buy A WQHD Monitor. For advisors upgrading hardware, it's no longer the Acer 27" WQHD touchscreen is no longer a great deal. Don't do what I did and buy the Acer touchscreen monitor with the 14440p resolution. I’ve been using it for over a month now and I’m satisfied, kind of. It’s a decent display and 1440P is a big improvement over 1080p high definition panels. But just a week after taking delivery of my WQHD touchscreen monitor, Lenovo announced a plan to launch in July 2014 the UltraHD Lenovo ThinkVision Pro2840m — boosting resolution by about 50% over my now-obsolete 1440p Acer T27HUL and doubling the resolution over a 1080P HD monitor.
And the shortcomings of this Acer monitor do not end there. The display is too shiny and reflections are hard to avoid in a bright room. Light sources emanating from behind you will be reflected onscreen. I have to draw my blinds behind me and cannot use certain spotlights in my office.  You can work around these peccadilloes but a less shiny display is sensible. Also, its ergonomics are not quite perfect, as mentioned in detail below. But enough complaining.
Lenovo's ThinkVision Pro2840. This new Lenovo monitor isn’t just a 2160p touchscreen but it also comes with an NVIDIA® Tegra® processor that runs Google’s Android operating system (OS) for serving up movies, music, and other content on-demand. Think not of the Lenovo ThinkVision Pro2840 as a mere Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) touchscreen monitor, but as an all-in-one computer serving up content from the Web running the Android OS, which powers more cell phones than any other OS being sold today.
Why touchscreens are good for advisors.  A big part of your job is explaining complicated charts and graphs to people, client education. Using a touchscreen for live and online meetings will make you a more effective communicator. The unique characteristics of touchscreens enhance financial advisor-client communications.
A big reason why iPads are popular with financial advisors is because iPads are great for making presentations and sharing information. Now imagine making a presentation on a 27-inch monitor, which is about six times the size of your iPad.
A touchscreen enhances the ability of most people to consume information. You can ask the client or prospect to circle important numbers on screen in your spreadsheet as you deliver your advice. The client engages in an overt act to consume the information you are presenting, and you can rest assured your ideas are understood. This is especially effective with that large part of the population who consider themselves math-challenged.
I am not equating the use of a touchscreen in client meetings with showing up with a gun at a knife fight. But you would be sporting nunchuks.
Involving clients or prospects in your presentations to them by asking them to circle a number on a spreadsheet onscreen that best illustrates what your are speaking about assures clients will understand what you are saying. Asking a client to circle a number or bullet point you covered that they do not understand assures people learn what your are presenting. When you show a client how much they must save monthly to retire at age 65, they will understand it if you have made them circle that number five times in a three minute presentation. Epic Pen, a free drawing program covered previously, enables you to draw circles or arrows on any touchscreen in any program anytime. It’s always available on your screen. When you activate pen mode, you can use your finger or a stylus to draw anywhere onscreen. That’s a big idea for financial communications.
I’m not saying that buying a 27-inch touchscreen is going to double your fee-income, but it will make your presentations more engaging. And there is the “cool factor.” PowerPoint presentations are beautiful when delivered live using a touchscreen. When you are presenting, waving your hand across a screen to advance to the next slide is so much better for a presenter than the undemonstrative mouse click. Different energy. When you're in front of a 27" monitor controlled by your touch, you're performing and not just clicking a mouse.
Let’s Get Physical: The Touchscreen’s Ergonomics  
When I bought my 1440p touchscreen, I was excited because using a touchscreen on your desktop computer requires the screen be situated just 12 or 15 inches away from your eyes. When you want to touch the screen, that’s about how close it needs to be.  You must comfortably be able position the display no more than 15 to 20 inches away from your eyes when you are typing and then lean forward toward the monitor when you want to use touch controls. When sitting, you will naturally want the monitor just 12 inches away from you when you are touching the screen. At that point in your physical relationship with your touchscreen, because the monitor is so close to your eyes, you need, at a minimum a 1440p resolution to use a 27” touchscreen comfortably on your desktop. WQHD is the minimum acceptable resolution for using a 27” touchscreen monitor as a desktop as well as a presentation tool. Put another way, the touchscreen controls with WQHD resolution will leave you feeling a little too close to use them routinely on a desktop computer. Touch control boosts effectiveness of presentations for practitioners, but touch control at a 1440p resolution situates a user just a little too close for touch controls to be used routinely throughout the day in desktop navigation. However, the new UltraHD Lenovo ThinkVision Pro2840m could change that. Its 50% boost in resolution from 1440p to 2160p, should be just about the perfect resolution for a 27-inch multi-touch desktop monitor using Windows 8.1 to make you want to use the touch controls routinely as a desktop tool. The desktop, at 4K resolution, should be small enough so a user can be just 12 inches away and see the whole desktop without feeling like it’s “Land of The Giants.” Reading and writing documents and viewing Web pages as well as content you create in PowerPoint will not strain your eyes and also not feel too large at close range.
How Practitioners And Business Users Might Use An Android All-In-One
Lenovo points out that the Android OS and Tegra processor makes the Lenovo Pro 2840m a practical family computer and entertainment device. This monitor can serve as home entertainment hub. On-demand content can be streamed. Meanwhile, its 10-point multi-touch screen ensures a fully interactive experience for the family when looking at photos, playing games, and surfing the Web. Those features are not the applications an advisor would likely find useful — unless….
An RIA could use this monitor in a self-service reception area that greets clients and gives them Internet access while in your waiting room. Marketing and educational presentations about your firm could be looped in your reception room and they would be touch-driven. For instance, give an intern a 10-question financial management IQ test to insert into PowerPoint. Ask the intern to make it a touch-driven quiz, with all the answers at the end. When clients come to your office, they sometimes are driven by younger family members and other people who wind up waiting in your reception area. Why not market your services there?
Bottom line: Touch-control is an excellent tool for making presentations and the Lenovo Thinkvision Pro 2840 is worth waiting until July for because I have been using the next best thing, a WQHD touch monitor that is still ergonomically off-kilter for Windows 8.1 desktop use. Though the Lenovo Pro 2840mis being marketed as a monitor for graphic design professionals, financial advice professionals should be able to use it make more artful presentations.



Switching From iPhone To Android? Or From iPad To An Android Tablet Or Chromebook Ultraportable? Here's Help edit
Sunday, December 29, 2013 21:24

Tags: android | iOS | Operating Systems | Tablets

If you're an Apple iOS user moving to Google's Android operating system, here's a a guide to making the transition.


Android becomes more attractive as everything you do on computers moves to the Web. While it's unlikely advisors will be moving their desktops off of Microsoft, you might move from iPhone to Android or from an iPad to an Android tablet or Chromebook ultraportable.

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Geek.com says you wil not regret leaving iOS. "Both platforms are mature these days, but there are a few things you’ll be missing after moving from iOS to Android," says this very practical story about switching from iOS to Android. "Of course, there are also some new features in Android that should help you cope with that."

With Monitors, What You Get Is What You See, And This 1440p 27" Touch-Capable Display Looks Like A Good Deal edit
Saturday, December 21, 2013 16:49

Tags: monitors

If you want to buy yourself a holiday gift, check out this monitor. Its price has drifted lower in the last six weeks by about 10%, and it’s starting to look irresistible—although my wife will kill me if I buy another piece of electronic gear.


What makes this monitor so special that I would risk physical harm?


It’s a 27” display with 2560 X 1440 resolution and—most importantly—it is touch-sensitive. If all this resolution mumbo jumbo is confusing, here's a plain English expanation of why this Acer looks like a good value.

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If you spend most of your day in front of a computer screen, an ultra-high definition (UHD) display could significantly improve your computing life. (Tip: Anyone with a “computing life” needs a 1440p touchscreen monitor.)  
High-definition monitors display 1080 pixels across a screen, while UHD monitors—also known as Quad HD or WQHD—display a picture in 1440 pixels. That’s four times the resolution of the 720-pixel displays you might have purchased just five years ago.
A 1440p monitor would be good for you if you use three or more applications all the time. (At the bottom of this post is a link to a big image showing the difference between 1080p and 1440p)   The higher resolutions will allow you to run a spreadsheet side by side with a PowerPoint presentation and have plenty of room on the side and bottom of your screen for your calendar, portfolio management software, CRM and Skype. To be clear, if you use multiple applications all day are are now using a 1080p monitor, you will appreciate the extra workspace of a UHD monitor.
What’s really cool about this monitor is that it is touch-capable. The Windows 8 operating system is touch capable, of course, but most first-time touch computers people are buying are tablets, ultra-portables, and laptops. You just don’t see a lot of people using Windows on desktops. Not yet.  
There is almost no mass market for UHD touch displays. Even Dell, which is known for making good displays, doesn’t offer a 27” UHD touch screen monitor. You can find plenty of 1080p touch screen monitors but 1440p QHD monitors just are not yet being mass-produced by many manufacturers.
A big reason touch displays have not caught on among Windows 8 desktop users is that the user experience on a 1080p touch screen display is problematic. Objects on your screen are too large. A screen should be 12 or 15 inches from your nose if you are going to be able to reach out and touch it to draw, scroll, answer the phone, and navigate.    
A 1440p touchscreen monitor is much easier to look at than a 1080p touchscreens because you can work close enough to touch the screen and the items displayed 15 inches from your nose are 25% smaller. When you sit in front of a touchscreen monitor, you want to be able to use a stylus to write or draw. You will still use a mouse for many apps, but page turning and scrolling on a touchscreen just 12" away is more visually comfortable with UHD.
So be good to yourself, and take a look at Acer T272HUL bmidpcz 27-Inch WQHD Touch Screen Widescreen Monitor, which is just $860.
Remember, with monitors, what you get is what you see for hours every day. So why not have the coolest monitor available.
Upgrading from a 1080p monitor to a 1440p monitor is something all advisors should do because it is a great enhancement and inexpensive--just $250 at this very excellent deal at NewEgg.
But if you are willing to pay an extra $600 or so for the touchscreen feature to get the coolest monitor available for Windows 8 right now, you’ll probably find ways to use the touch feature to conduct live client presentations in your office, webinars, Skype meetings, reading on the Web, and many other routine computing tasks.
Touch screens make you move your arms, which is good physical actitivity. The physicality changes a user's experience is different from using a mouse to control a computer. Having another choice in the way you communicate ideas using a computer is a good thing that some people will love.
27 inches is still probably not the optimal size for a touchscreens. Higher resolution will be better. But it's not commercially available and 1440p is a comfortable size if you want to display multiple apps on one screen and write, draw or tap the screen to make commands.
Two caveats: If you use two 1080p monitors now, plan on buying a second 27” UHD display to replace the 1080p display you’re using now. Once you have one 1440p monitor, you won’t want to look at the 1080p display anymore. Your second monitor does not need to be touch-capable and you can find one for as little as $250.   
In addition, I have been watching for new UHD monitors to be released for many months and I'm disappointed that there have been no new entrants in this category in 2013. Once Dell and the other big manufacturers start offering UHD 27-inch displays, prices will probably drift yet lower, of course. That's why I've been holding out. Much to my dismay, however, I have not seen any pre-announcements or reports of upcoming releases for January, and I actually do look.
Prices have dropped sharply on 1080p displays recently, which likely means manufacturers are beginning to clear out their inventory of 27" 1080p monitors to make room for UHD models, and more touchscreen UHDs. Let's hope so.




Microsoft's TV Ads Make Me Want To Try A Chromebook edit
Saturday, December 07, 2013 13:09

Tags: cloud | google | microsoft

Microsoft's TV ads often mock the competition, but it's making me want to go out and buy a Chromebook. 


Microsoft is running a negative ad campaign promoting its ultraportable laptops at the expense of Google Chromebook. It actually names Giigle and Chromebook, which is a pretty bold and cocky move for any company.


The ad features "man on the street" interviews conducted in Venice Beach, Cal., by a Microsoft spokesman.

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He approaches two women holding a Chromebook and asks, "What kind of stuff do you do on your laptop? What do you guys use it for, for schoool and for work?"



One of the two women responds, "PhotoShop, Illustrator," and her friend chimes in withwith "Word."


The Microsoft spokesman holds up the Chromebook. "This is a Chromebook and Google says it is everything you need in one laptop," and then the spokesman adds, "Doesn't run Photoshop." 


"It doesn't seem practical," responds one of the women.


The next people walking interviweed are a mother and her teenage daughter. The mom says she uses her laptop for Excel, PowerPoint, and Word.


"Can't install it on this one," Microsoft Guy says hoisting the Chromebook.


"Then that wouldn't work for me," says the mom.


Microsoft must really be worried or it would not be trying so hard to discredit Chromebook.  Tom Warren, writing for The Verge, recently posted quotes from software industry executives saying Micorosft is shooting itself in the foot with these negative ads.


To make matters worse, however, this latest negative Microsoft ad mocking Chromebook is downright misleading and dishonest because you can run Microsoft's Office productivity suite on a touchscreen Chromebook using a browser without installing Office.


For Microsoft to mislead makes me distrust the company and want to try a Chromebook. 


IIf you  run a virtual desktop in the cloud, you can access all your apps remotely, using a server to run apps requiring  serious processor power,  like a desktop portfolio reporting app, graphic design programs or big PowerPoint or Excel documents.    


Chromebooks are inexpensive ultra-portable computers running Google's operating system, ChromeOS. Everything you do on a Chromebook runs inside Google's Chrome browser.


Almost all of the reports in the tech press say Chromebooks can do most of the tasks most people need, but it can't please all the people all the time. What that exactly means is never really clarified because it will vary depending on how you use your computer. Wihch is why I might buy one and see for myself.


Compared to Microsoft Office, Chrome offers a less complicated, less powerful office productivity suite for  word-processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. The Chrome browser can now do all sorts of cool things and you can run a touch-driven version of Microsoft Office on a Chromebook from a browser.


Acer's $300 C270Pis set to be released this month. I just might get myself one. It's being compared to previously-released touch Chromebooks that cost $1,200.

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