Return on Technology

ALTOM: Why Microsoft Word has so many questionable features

January 29, 2011
Tim Altom
The out-of-the-box, standard interface wasn’t primarily for boosting productivity, but for giving demonstrations. It was marketing, and not usability, that was driving interface design.
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ALTOM: How to measure seemingly 'incalculable' risks

January 15, 2011
Tim Altom
My goal in life isn’t pushing technology, but applying appropriate technology to workplaces. Every decision about replacing or updating equipment or software has both a cost and risk component.
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ALTOM: Does Bing have a chance of catching Google?

January 1, 2011
Tim Altom
I can’t help it; every time I see the Microsoft search engine “Bing,” I hear Bing Crosby’s voice crooning in my head.
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ALTOM: 2010 meltdowns, missteps and breaches ... oh my

December 18, 2010
Welcome to the annual Christmas snafu edition of this column. This year’s crop of meltdowns, missteps and breaches reminds us once again that technology is a fickle friend and unreliable ally.
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ALTOM: Just because it's on the Web doesn't mean it's free

December 4, 2010
Tim Altom
Surfing the Web is like being the parent of multiple kids. You hear the rowdiness in a far-off room all day long and learn to take it for granted, but once in a while there’s a great crash and a howl that sounds like a civil defense siren.
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ALTOM: Why the maddening duplication of doctor forms?

November 20, 2010
Tim Altom
In every successive medical office—every single one—we have to fill out the very same data, over and over and over again. Name. Occupation. Medical history. Insurance. They always tell us on a first visit to arrive at least 15 minutes early so we can fill out all this stuff. It’s infuriating to me.
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ALTOM: When is it OK to connect with someone on LinkedIn?

November 6, 2010
Tim Altom
I never thought of online business networking site LinkedIn as having an ethical dilemma attached to it, until one day when I received an invitation from a client to connect to him.
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ALTOM: Can new technology make a toilet cleaner?

October 23, 2010
Tim Altom
In a previous issue of IBJ, another columnist wrote that technology can raise the productivity of toilet cleaners. It wasn’t a central part of his argument, but as you might imagine, it caught my eye. I couldn’t resist looking into bathroom technology.
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ALTOM: Office defibrillators are worth the expense

October 9, 2010
Tim Altom
Few pieces of business technology can lay claim to saving lives. One gadget can, but odds are you don’t have one. It’s called an “automated external defibrillator,” or AED.
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ALTOM: Think before selling your old software

September 25, 2010
Tim Altom
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has made it official: You don’t own your software if the software maker says you don’t own it.
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ALTOM: Praise the unsung device ... the ubiquitous paper clip

September 11, 2010
Tim Altom
To me, the most versatile piece of equipment in an office isn’t the computer. It’s the paper clip.
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ALTOM: Do I need a cell phone that's hardy or handy?

August 28, 2010
Tim Altom
It’s time to change my cell phone, and that’s causing me a big problem. I have conflicting needs, and like everybody else in the business world, I can’t seem to reconcile them.
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ALTOM: What can business learn from techies?

August 14, 2010
Tim Altom
There have been some technical materials that have taught me a great deal about how business should be conducted. I’d like to share a few with you.
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ALTOM: Bar-coding could help your business for as little as $200

July 31, 2010
Tim Altom
Years ago, when technology was just starting to classify and count all of us, we worried we’d become merely numbers. Now we may not even be readable numbers, but just ink on a bar code. And that’s a good thing, as it turns out.
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ALTOM: How long will our 'Net neutrality last?

July 17, 2010
Tim Altom
Cable giant Comcast has fanned a typical smoldering Internet grumble-fest into a major screaming match, complete with a lawsuit and cries for federal intervention. The outcome may affect how much it costs you and me to do business across the ’Net.
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ALTOM: Is Pac-Man robbing your workers of productivity?

July 3, 2010
Tim Altom
When Google users stumbled on a surprise gift from the giant search company, it was inevitable that in business offices everywhere, the long-forgotten sounds of Pac-Man would come to life again.
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ALTOM: Beware of inciting online vendetta from clients

June 19, 2010
Tim Altom
It started as a dispute over towing a car, and it’s now a cause célèbre, thanks to Facebook.
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ALTOM: Securing your Wi-Fi is worth your trouble

June 5, 2010
Tim Altom
If you’ve got a wireless (Wi-Fi) router, you could be in some serious hot water if it’s not properly secured.
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ALTOM: Is your computer being commandeered under your nose?Restricted Content

May 22, 2010
Tim Altom
Around the world, tens of millions of computers are infected with sly viruses that invisibly take over a machine, letting it continue working but redirecting part of its time to doing nefarious things, like storing ill-gotten data or sending out spam ads for improbable enlargements of body parts.
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ALTOM: Are you disaster-ready, dust-induced or not?

May 8, 2010
Tim Altom
You know you should back up your data for redundancy. But you can’t back up an entire airline industry. That’s a lesson we learned recently when a volcano with the cat-crossing-the-keyboard name of “Eyjafjallajökull” exhaled tons of volcanic dust into the clear skies over Europe and brought aviation worldwide almost to a literal grinding halt.
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ALTOM: Is your smartphone good for business use?

April 24, 2010
Tim Altom
I love smartphones. No other form of biz-tech allows me so much opportunity to be so curmudgeonly about something so popular.
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ALTOM: Going green here may not be going green thereRestricted Content

April 10, 2010
Tim Altom
The idea behind the green office is to have a slightly smaller damaging effect on the environment in general. That sounds great, but I never forget that you can’t make ripples in only one part of a pond.
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ALTOM: Do your company data files belong in the 'cloud'?Restricted Content

March 27, 2010
Tim Altom
The “cloud” is a relatively recent word to describe the Internet, but it has a rather specific connotation. It refers to the Internet’s ability to take individual objects and break them into pieces so they can be stored and retrieved without your knowing exactly where they’ve been.
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ALTOM: Who knew YouTube had potential as a free university?Restricted Content

March 13, 2010
Tim Altom
As much as I love and happily use technology, I come from a different age and time when, as they say, life was simpler. I have students who are aghast that I’d rather use a folded paper map to get around town than a GPS and Google Maps in a smart phone.
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ALTOM: U.S. slow to get on broadband bandwagonRestricted Content

February 27, 2010
Tim Altom
The country’s old, tired cabling was never designed for such high-transmission speeds.
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  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

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