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Choice Stationery Supplies Blog - for all the chat on printer inks and cartridges

  • How to be more Productive at Work

    We can all be more productive whether we work at home or in the office. Concentration can be hard at times, especially in a world where there are so many other distractions. However, there are numerous things you can do to ensure that you can remain on task even when there’s a lot happening around you.

    Emails

    One of the biggest problems when trying to work is answering emails. A lot of us tend to flit in and out of email and this can lead to problems for us in terms of concentration. One of the best ways to stay on task and still answer emails in a reasonable time is to spend five minutes at a set time every hour doing so. This will ensure they are answered and you still get stuff done.

    Pomodoro

    One of the best timers out there and one that there are plenty of great apps for. Pomodoro is a routine, where you work 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. This is done in sections of four and then you take a break of twenty minutes. It has a lot of advocates and is well worth considering if you find it hard concentrating.

    For Work

    There are a number of programmes out there now that will block certain distractions such as social media on your phone and prevent you from seeing them when at work. During times when concentration is needed these can be turned on and then turned off when required. It’s a great way to remove distractions and ensure you get plenty done.

    Follow these tips and you can be sure that you enjoy more concentration at work.

  • Why Offices Need to Improve your IT Infrastructure

    Professional businesses understand that there are peak times in business and there are times when the business slopes down. During the down time, many companies utilise their time by implementing new marketing methods. However, in peak seasons the company’s efforts are focused on one goal and that is sales. Did you know that marketing campaigns rely on how your IT performs? During these peak times is critical, especially if your website is a necessary part of your lead generation, in which you should be anticipating a spike to your traffic flow.

    Using substandard services can be both costly and have a negative effect upon your business. An IT new analyst from Computer World UK wrote about how Oddbins ran into IT infrastructure problems during a national campaign that proved to raise challenges they hadn't even considered in contemplating. This was, could their I.T support cope with the marketing interest derived from their multichannel campaign?
    About ODDBINS I.T problems
    Oddbins, which is known for their calibre of high quality wines, is an eCommerce company which they have 45 physical stores with plans to expand to over a hundred by the end of the year. The company relied upon a weak eCommerce infrastructure which when a highly strategical national TV campaign went live resulted in costing the company great financial losses.

    The company was not prepared for the spike in traffic to their website. Therefore, when during this holiday season a particular bottle of wine was offered on television, customers were unable to place their orders due to a “traffic overload”. However, the clients did not understand that there were just too many people trying to access the eCommerce site. Instead the potential customers got a message that there was a problem, complained or resulted in leaving a sour taste in their mouth about the brand and website.
    What is Infrastructure?
    Infrastructure is the actual physical hardware that makes your company work. Ecommerce sites are on the internet, but somewhere there is a computer and software that has to process all the information and relate back to the client. The server which your company uses plays a huge role in the way in which your eCommerce site functions or fails. As seen with Oddbins, an infrastructure that is weak can have several negative effects on a company primarily:
    • A complete crash of your eCommerce site – If your infrastructure is not robust, than when there is an increase in your traffic, the system could overheat and information could be lost. In some cases this could mean that vital information about your site gets lost. If this happens your eCommerce site could crash or (as in the case of Oddbins) your clientele could get an error message.

    • A decrease in the overall reputation of your company - One thing that kills a company quickly is bad publicity. When your eCommerce site cannot cater to your clientele then the mentality which is sure to form in the potential client’s mind is that your company is insecure and unstable. The professionalism is also called into question.

    Oddbin’s Solution
    Upon having the unfortunate happen, Oddbin changed to a more secure infrastructure. Cloud business manager Andrew Flavell from Keytech commented on the Computer World review said: The new infrastructure will be a number of cloud based I.T solutions which may include hosting, load balancing, cloud monitoring. These services offer resilient security and faster performance and an overall, a better way of utilising their I.T.
    What can your eCommerce business learn from Oddbin’s mishap?
    Although Oddbin has switched their IT infrastructure and saved the company from more negative feedback, the damage will take time to recover. Those in eCommerce should take notes of the following lessons to learn from the Oddbin’s mishap:
    • Get an IT service that has a disaster plan – One of the things that we can see is that Oddbin’s framework did not appear to have a disaster plan. The traffic peaked and there was no back up or way to re-route traffic to ensure sales. Because of this, potential customers were not able to place their orders and finances where therefore lost. Examples are the KeyCloud I.T disaster recovery plan.

    • Test your infrastructure to simulate peaks in traffic - One way to ensure that your company’s infrastructure can handle peaks in traffic is to have the capabilities tested. Generally, it is a great idea to have your IT services on the cloud as well as on a physical server. This will ensure that information is not lost and that traffic is not stifled due to peaks.

    • Communicate with your IT service frequently – eCommerce businesses have a tendency of setting up an IT service which manages their infrastructure and then leaving those professionals to do their job without ever contacting them to see how their business is performing. The folly in this is that a business needs to understand how to make the site run smoother and quicker frequently in order to maximize potential sales. I.T should not be kept at arm’s length until a problem arises. Doing so will surely result in negative publicity and an increase in financial losses.
    Get advice about your I.T choices
    Ensure that your company’s infrastructure is secure, stable and that your I.T services are working to their fullest by simulating the peak times of your business. It is one thing to have your business running smoothly during the down or slow season. Test your structure before the peak season so that time can be allocated to areas that will greater enhance your company. In the case of Oddbins, the switch to a new I.T management company has allowed them to have the around the clock support needed for companies who employ tactical marketing campaigns.

  • How to Decide on a Photo Paper Finish

    One of the most important parts of creating great photos that last the test of time is in the paper. Choosing the right sort of printer paper makes a massive difference to the quality of the print.

    The traditional form of matte paper that we use in our printers doesn’t tend to provide the high quality finish that many of us want, or for that matter are used to in our images. Even in a world where an increasing number of our prints are digital, we still need proper paper for printing.

    So, we found a great printer infographic that shows the best way to make the most of the paper you’re printing with – take a look and let us know what you think.

    How To Choose Photographic Paper Finish Infographic

  • Amazing Tech Shown at TED Vancouver

    A 3D printer that’s capable of using light and oxygen has been showcased at the TED conference in Vancouver. The device, which is made by 3DCarbon is a gam changing device that could be used to manufacture cars, parts of planes and even shoes.

    The device, which bears a resemblance to the technique used to create the robot T-1000 in Terminator 2 is an amazingly impressive one with huge potential. Of course, the device has to live up to its potential, but if it does then it’s quite a piece of technology.

    On stage at the show the device made a plastic ball from a piece of resin within 10 minutes – far faster than any current technology possibly could. It would usually take around 10 hours to print the same thing according to Carbon3D chief executive Prof Joseph DeSimone.

    The device uses the technology to produce materials at a rate that’s 25 to 100 times faster than the traditional manner and could be 1000 faster potentially. The device works by applying different levels of light and oxygen to the pool of resin. In turn, this light hardens the resin and the oxygen stops the hardening.

    There are all sorts of uses for technology like this and specialists hope that it can be used for objects such as medical stents, teeth and items of automotive firms and clothing companies. Of course, it will need to show it can work – but if it can then it is a big leap for the technology.

    See it in action here.

  • Improve Employees Out of Office Morale with these 5 Tips

    The world of a travelling employee isn’t easy. Working away from home, travelling and then having to work in strange spaces outside of the usual office one is quite the task. However, there are plenty of things that a business can do to improve employee’s morale and keep them on top of their work – here are some ideas.

    Access to a Car

    Whether it’s a rental car for the period they are there, or alternatively a permit to use the like of Zipcar and others to get around, this is a good idea. Providing workers with something to get around with when in a strange place gives them the freedom to do things and explore and is a good idea.

    Serviced Office

    If they’re there for a while, then provide them with a serviced office with all their needs and wants. This will ensure that they have no problems and have all they need at hand. Additionally, it also gives them a space in a different place that they can call their own and this can help with productivity.

    Serviced Apartment

    Hotels are all well for short periods of time, however if you have workers in a city or place for a period, it’s nicer to have your own space. A serviced apartment can provide this and means that they have all their amenities in one spot – something that can really help improve happiness and contentedness according to portlandbrown.com . It’s nice to have home comforts when away for a period of time.

    Services

    Providing the individual with cutting edge IT services and organisational and managerial tools makes a big difference to the quality and ease of their work. There are numerous tools out there and types of infrastructure that can help an individual to a smoother time when travelling and working. The addition of these and a Wi-Fi hotspot can take a lot of the pressure off a travelling worker.

    Flexibility with Time

    Working away from the office or in a different nation or time zone can pose all sorts of challenges, so a little flexibility with time can make a big difference.

    Follow these tips and you can be sure you make your employee’s life a whole lot easier when working away.

     

  • HP X551DW Review

    Printers tend to be reactionary to other technologies in a lot of ways. Printer manufacturers tend to add extras to their machines in reply to the changes around them.

    Even the differences and changes of inkjets and laser have remained relevantly stable when the world around it turns and turns. Printers have been the same for a long time and will most likely be for a long time too.

    However, the HP X551DW is a machine that has changed things a little for the better and is a printer that can create rich colour images and great content at a very fast rate – the Holy Grail for printers.

    The device also comes with HP’s Page Wide technology, which sees the inkjet move around the piece of paper rather than the traditional mechanism. The printhead in these devices is much wider which allows it to cover the whole page uniformly instead of moving and adding ink one row at a time. This means that you can produce inkjet quality at under a page a second in a draft mode – quite impressive.

    The device is also able to produce imagery clearly and quickly and text comes out uniformly and crisply and on par with the quality you would expect from the best printers.

    Installation is easy and the device feels sturdy. It’s not tiny at 51cm by 39cm by 41cm, however it’s still small enough for a small office. The HP also comes with a 4.3inch touch screen and this is responsive to use and also comes with an array built in apps. There’s also connectivity to a variety of sources for printing.

    The only chink in its armour is the fact it doesn’t have a memory card slot. Other than that it’s a very good printer that is quite the evolution.

  • Canon Pixma iP100 Review

    The Canon Pixma iP100 is a portable photo printer that’s capable of printing text documents as well as business cards to A4. It’s power comes from a battery, so it’s ideal for travelling.

    The printer isn’t cheap, however it offers great quality and is a rare find, especially when you look at the clarity of the 10x5inch photo prints.

    Unlike many other photo printers which have been created solely with the point of printing images, this device is a fantastic small printer that’s capable of also creating great text copies. The text we printed was clear to very small point font size and the only inconvenience was the speed when compared to a desk version. However, it’s still quite fast and can print a document in 20 seconds or so on boths sides and a 10x15cm print takes under a minute. Battery life also lasts for over 300 prints.

    The quality of the device is good too, which is very important if you’re going to be carrying the printer around. There are only two buttons on it too, so it’s a no fuss machine. There are two USB ports, though no Bluetooth for wireless printing, however a dongle can be purchased.

    One of the only real problems with the Canon are the lack of camera slots or a LCD display to see what’s being printed. Other than that it’s a great device for printing once you pack your USB.

    It’s a cool little device overall and one that offers speed and quality in its output.

  • What if All Offices Went Green?

    The office is a place that a lot of us spend a large proportion of our lives and as such a large number of the items and things we consume are there too. This means that the office can have a notable environmental impact.

    This great infographic shows what would happen if all offices went green - so take a look - you're in for a treat.

  • Reasons to buy a Mobile Printer

    Most of us have an inkjet or a laser in our phone or our office, but few of us have a printer in our pockets. The latest ream of little gadgets for your phone includes the mobile printer. The little device is around the size of a mobile phone and prints 4x3 inch photos usually via heat reactive ink. The little printers tend to be focused towards a younger market and there are plenty of reasons they may become popular and people would like one – here are a few.

    Losing out with Digital

    You do have to ask if we’re losing out with digital only materials. The reality is that we don’t tend to have physical items of media anymore and a lot of us consider it a shame. When we throw out our phone or stop using a cloud service we often forget about images. These little devices make it easy to print out some of the more cherished photos from a phone.

    Small and Portable

    The size of the devices is tiny and few are much bigger than mobile phones – which are ironically getting bigger. This means that it’s easy to carry these little items to wherever you wish. This makes it easy to take photos and print them on the go – which is quite cool

    Tech

    Of course, they’re also great because they’re one of the latest and coolest pieces of tech out there and that’s a red rag to a geek to get one. The portable mobile printer is an impressive little piece of kit and something we can understand people loving.

    Instant Camera

    Additionally, the print out these little images in seconds – something we all love. They’re certainly the spiritual descendent of the Polaroid cameras we were all used to in our youth – very cool!

  • HP LaserJet Pro M201dw Review

    HP’s LaserJet Pro M201dw is comes in a quite low cost for what it is, offering plenty of spec for the money and an attractive design.

    The HP’s angular shape is slightly tilted forwards and has a control panel mounted on the front of it – this is fixed in position. The printer also has an output tray which is fixed on a balcony which overhangs with a 250 sheet tray. The feed tray is a hinged cover and you can load individual sheets of envelopes and other different shaped items in there.

    The top lid of the device gives access to a drum and toner cartridge which slots down in a few seconds. The cartridges are sold in 1500 and 2000 capacities and the printer comes with a 1500 cartridge to start.

    Connection comes in the form of a USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi. This allows a range of different printing options including AirPrint and Android print. The device can print labels, booklets and a range of other items.

    Print speeds are around the 25ppm mark, though when you take processing times into account it’s around 18ppm – which is still quite good. The device is slower by this degree as it spends around 18s preparing a print.  A document with graphics will slow printing down to 11.5 per minute and a 4x6 photo takes around 20 seconds to print.

    The quality however is very good and it is smooth and well defined. The Graphics are also very good and there’s plenty of differentiation between the gray scale. Print costs are around 3.5p a page including paper. This is slightly above the 3p average for a printer in this class.

    Overall, the HP’s LaserJet Pro M201dw is a good printer and perfect for home office use thanks to duplex printing and versatility of the wireless connection. It’s not cheap, however it’s still a good device.

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