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Intro to the iPad: Pros & Cons

The Apple iPad. It is the device that has acted as the paradigm for an entirely new genre of technology. However, it is a relatively large investment. It is also an investment that, given Apple’s recent trends, will be deemed “outdated” in about a year or so. That being said, if you’re ready to dive into the tablet world, there are some things you must know about an iPad before purchasing. What Does an iPad Do Well? Simply put, Apple made the bold statement that the tablet would replace PCs within a matter of years. Whether or not that will happen is yet to be seen, but you can bet that the iPad has undeniable benefits when statements like that are being thrown around. 1. Apple’s App Store: The App Store is undeniably the most attractive feature of an iDevice. As of 2012, there were over 1 million approved applications on the App Store. There literally is “an app for that”: some are pointless, some are mind-numbing, but many have implanted themselves into our lives as must-haves. 2. The iPad will become your go-to entertainment device: Perhaps more than any single thing, the iPad has revolutionized the entertainment industry. Through the aforementioned App Store, the iPad has changed the way we manage media. Take television for example. Through the iPad (and other tablet devices for that matter), cable companies and television networks are being forced to rethink the way they distribute their media. The monopoly that cable was running is, for all intents and purposes, over. Applications such as Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu all had humble beginnings as Internet streaming services. This was nice, but it required you to sit at your desktop or lug your laptop around in order to watch your favorite programming. With the iPad, however, your programming is truly portable. Sure, you could have used your phone or iPod, but who really wants to watch an episode of The Walking Dead on a 3.5” screen? Now, every Sunday, a new episode of The Walking Dead is purchased through Amazon and instantly available on my iPad. I have the perfect, portable solution to getting my zombie fix every week (commercial free!). Other television networks are catching on with their own applications. Channels such as HBO, Showtime, A&E, NBC, and others now offer “to go” services so that you their shows are available anywhere, any time that is convenient. (HBO, Showtime, and any other subscription-based service do require that you have a subscription with your cable provider.) It doesn’t end with television and movies. Music apps such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Spotify turn your iPad into a portable music library. Also, your iTunes library is available on your iPad. However, if you have a massive library you may not want to eat up all of your available memory with Black Keys and Beatles albums. However, Apple offers iTunes Match ($25 annually) that stores your library in the cloud. Everything you own will be able to download onto your device on an at-need basis. Your iPad also serves as a great e-reading device. If you have a Kindle or Nook account, you can download their apps to access all of your e-books on your iPad. Many popular publications also offer their papers or magazines on the iPad. There are a couple of apps (Pulse and Flipboard to name a couple) that put your favorite news sites, publications, and blogs in a one-stop format.   3. The iPad will become your favorite way to browse the Internet: I mean why not? It’s just so dang portable. You...

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Getting Started with Microsoft Outlook

The Internet has been growing rapidly for nearly thirty years now and email providers have been a big part of that expansion. These days, it is not uncommon for an individual to have two or more active email accounts. Using a tool like Microsoft Outlook allows users the ability to consolidate all of their email accounts into one convenient location. Outlook is not just an email tool, however. Outlook also integrates useful features such as a fully integrated calendar, task manager, and contact manager. As it is with almost any Microsoft product, knowledge of the toolbar will help any user with ease of use. In Outlook, the toolbar is context based, meaning the toolbar will change based on whatever task you are currently working on. Managing your email is simple in Outlook. To compose a new email, simply select the email option from the toolbar. Email composition is pretty straightforward in outlook. From the composition screen, you will find options such as file attachment and inserting photos. You will notice that the blind carbon copy (Bcc) is conspicuously absent however. If this is a feature that you use regularly, it is very simple to add. Simply go to the options tab in the toolbar and select Bcc from the Show Fields Group. The Bcc will now be visible beneath Cc. Outlook’s “Contacts and Recent Addresses” feature comes in handy when you are emailing multiple contacts or if you are having hard time remembering your contact’s email address. As soon as you begin typing the contact (either email address or name), Outlook will begin to either auto-populate or give you a drop-down list of predictive contacts. Creating your own unique “signature” is also simple within Outlook. Under the “Options” menu click the “Signatures” button. From here, you will be able to create as many signatures as you like, as well as set up whether you would like the signature to be attached to any outgoing message or you can have set so that you will need to manually insert it. Outlook offers several features that help users organize and maintain their Outlook inboxes. The first and easiest option is to create folders in which you can store your most important emails. You can take this organization one step further with Rules in Outlook. While the menu may appear tedious at first, it is actually quite simple to set up. Rules allows you to set up certain parameters that automatically forwards your incoming emails to a specified folder if they fall within those pre-determined parameters. For example, if you would like all emails from your boss to be forwarded to a specific folder, simply create the folder that you would like to have the emails forwarded to and set the parameters so that any email from your boss is forwarded there. If you are looking for a travel deal to Palm Beach, you can have any email that contains the words “Palm, Beach, Deal” forwarded to a folder that you had created previously. Sometimes you just do not wish to be bothered. With Outlook, you can easily set up an “Away” message so that people know to not expect a reply right away. Microsoft has simplified this process by creating the Out of Office Assistant Wizard. You can access this set up menu by going to File Tab> Info> Automatic Replies. Creating parameters allows you to customize when automatic replies are sent out and what message goes to whom. You can do this by setting specific time/date ranges that you wish to have automatic replies sent out. If you do not...

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