Electronics for Beginners: Launching a Lucrative Hobby at Home

Electronics makes for a fascinating hobby. It’s not difficult to get started, nor is it too expensive, and you can soon find yourself creating all kinds of things either for fun or to use around the home. You could even turn it into a lucrative hobby by making a side business out of it.

So how should you get started?

Here’s a quick guide to the basics you need in place to get your electronics hobby off the ground and start making fun and useful things at home.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

You’ll need to get a lot of equipment and tools before you can start making anything interesting, but these are all easy to get and relatively affordable.

A soldering iron is one of the most basic tools you’ll need. You will use the soldering iron to solder parts onto the PCB or solder parts together. Start with getting just one, but if you get more serious in your hobby, you might want to invest in a couple, such as one for thicker wires and one all-purpose solder. And you’ll also want a de-soldering tool as well so you can remove components.

A prefabricated PCB is a necessity. This is easier than making one yourself and they are not expensive. You can use them for creating simple circuits up to about 100 components, which is perfect for getting started.

A Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is a semiconductor device made of Configurable Logic Blocks (CLBs). This allows you to change a design after the device has been soldered onto the PCB, and you can find a wide variety of these online at sites like RS.

A wire stripper is another essential tool. You’ll be stripping a lot of wires, so you’ll want to get yourself a good one. You’ll also want to get a set of pliers for cutting wires.

A VOM/DMM (which stands for Voltmeter Ohmmeter and Milliampere Meter and Digital Multimeter) is essential for any hobbyist. It is used to measures thinks like the ampere, voltage, and resistance.

You’ll also want to get a sharp knife, either a penknife or a cutter, which you will use regularly.

Take Your Safety Seriously

Before you start, always make sure you take safety precautions and learn about the risks. These can range from burning yourself with a glue gun to electrocuting yourself with a capacitator, so be careful. Also remember to turn off all your devices before you work on them.

Learn About Components

You will also need to learn about components to enjoy a successful electronics hobby. You can do this on a course, from books, or just from practice. The most common include capacitors, resistors, inductors, transistors, and diodes. Learn the basics, find out what they all do, and then start practicing with them.

Learn Some Useful Techniques

You will also want to learn a variety of basic techniques that you will use on a regular basis, and using a soldering iron is one of these. Read up about it, go on a course, or watch YouTube videos to find out how to do it properly.

Other techniques like using a breadboard (which involves constructing a circuit without soldering), how to use a glue gun, and how to use a multimeter are also essential skills.

Start Up Your Hobby from Home

These are some of the basics that you will need to know to start up a fun and rewarding electronics hobby. As long as you have an interest in making things and finding out how things work, you will love playing around with electronics. So find a suitable space to work, invest in the basic equipment, learn some techniques, and have fun.

Continue Reading

Power outages are temporary but the damage might not be- Insure the future of your property with a UPS system

power-poles-503935_640

 

Given the day and age in which we live, it is absolutely safe to assume that regardless of our occupations, we all have some type of electrically powered service that we would hate to lose. A lot of businesses today rely on data which is stored as digital information on large computers. Similarly, networks use large server rooms to house all the physical servers which host thousands upon thousands of ideas, notes, identity’s and overall information. Of course, it’s not all about computers. We could be talking about other power dependent gear  that can suffer a lot from a power outage.

Depending on where you’re sitting when a cut in power supply occurs, it could be a bummer, problem, or downright tragedy. If we’re talking about a large organization, a cut from electrical power can result in a sever loss of productivity that in the end translates to losing a lot of money.

Here’s where UPS systems come in. Just to clear the air, UPS stands for uninterruptible power supply or source. The purpose of these systems is to provide temporary backup for a power depended appliance/system/machine, so that virtually no downtime occurs in the case of a power cut from the main source. Keep in mind that UPS systems are different than backup power solutions in the sense that they are not designed to substitute a main power source, but rather to keep things going for a short period of time until the backup solution intervenes. Thus, UPS systems only hold enough power for a couple of minutes usually.

You can think of them as the hand you put over a leaking hole until you can strap a piece of tape in place, before cementing the hole. Or in other words, we are looking at the intermediate between the main solution and its backup. While it doesn’t sound all that critical the way it was portrayed just now, UPS systems have a crucial role in keeping systems running at all times. When the main power source goes down, it only takes the slightest instance before the UPS saves the day.

This both a productivity insurance mechanism as well as a safety precaution. When we say safety, we mean for both machine and potentially the user. Computer components often times get burnt due to power outages, while other situations make it dangerous to be left without a power source. When human lives are in danger.

Continue Reading

Tech Success: Top Apps for Managing Your Workers, No Matter Where They Are

tech-success

Not long ago, businesses only needed remote employee management plans when they employed traveling sales reps, site-repair crews, delivery drivers and other road warriors. Today, with the Internet enabling desk workers to work out of home just as effectively as they might out of the office, telecommuting is common. Remote work has grown 80% over the past decade.

Every business that allows such flexibility needs a plan; telecommuting employees still need to be managed, and they still need to collaborate. If you’re beginning to set up a telecommuting program at your business, it could be a challenge in the beginning to find the right tools. There are apps that every business with remote employee management needs should explore.

Remote desktop software

When members of a team are spread out as they work on a project, nothing can bring them together as effectively as a shared screen. Many businesses make do, rigging up videoconferencing apps for the purpose. While these allow passive screen-sharing, however, participants on call are unable to make changes on shared computer screens. This is where apps such as TeamViewer come in.

TeamViewer works on every major mobile and desktop platform, and allows participants to actually use a shared computer as if it were their own. Not only does TeamViewer help make teamwork efficient, it helps with troubleshooting needs, as well. An employee with a computer issue can always call on support from colleagues headquarters. A tech who is able to look at and operate a device remotely is able to offer effective help.

Meeting software

Skype for Business is often improvised for online business meetings. Businesses employing these non-specialized software applications, however, miss out on a great deal. There are better ways to go about meetings, when one has access to custom-built applications. Specialized meeting apps such as Click Meeting offer features that businesses need — offline messaging, reliable connections, and webinar ability, among others. Multilevel meeting features are an important plus — they allow higher management in the middle of large, mixed meetings, to retreat for discussions.

Cloud storage

Just as remote desktop software helps employees who are geographically spread out, to get together and share their work in virtual conferences, cloud storage allows them to bring their resources together. When employees routinely save everything that they do to the cloud instead of a local drive, every piece of work that employees may create, or every file or resource that they may need, is always within reach. From Amazon Cloud to Dropbox, several cost-effective alternatives available.

Apps that help with logistics

When telecommuting workers need to actually travel to the office, a number of mobile apps help smooth the process. Weather Live Free, the weather app by Apalon Apps, helps foresee weather problems, Parking Panda helps find and reserve parking spots, Gas Buddy helps locate cheap gas, Card Munch organizes business cards, and Sign Easy helps with document signing needs.

Innovative technological solutions such as these help businesses realize the productivity efficiencies promised for telecommuting.

Jordan Greenwood runs a tech company and has remote workers dotted all over the globe. He writes about how technology has changed the world, running a business with it and much more besides.

Continue Reading

The importance of digital backups in modern business

The importance of digital backups is demonstrated by sudden disasters such as fire
Photo by CC user 60026579@N00 on Flickr

Big data is the new competitive advantage so it is crucial that you manage your critical assets effectively by archiving and backing up data to the cloud. Data and technology are now woven into every aspect of modern business and the global economy. It enables enterprises to drive value and revenue via analytics and business intelligence and informs key decisions across every industry, day in, day out.

However, as the importance of data to business grows, so does the impact of errors, fires, floods, failures and other disasters that result in data loss. As a result, the importance of digital backups cannot be overstated.

Digital backups

Digital backups are an essential component of any effective IT strategy, especially in today’s data-driven business world. It is vital for business continuity as you will be able to access important files and sensitive information if the original copy is lost. Digital backups are hugely popular with small and medium enterprises and large organisations as they enable CIOs to transfer data in an encrypted format to a data centre.

Simple and intuitive

Digital backups are always fully automated, which means there won’t be any user intervention and you can decide whether to make a full backup or restore single files via a few simple clicks on a connected device such as a desktop computer or mobile. Recent research by McGladrey & Pullen shows that more than half of the enterprises that suffer a major data loss do not recover and have to shut down within two years so it makes sense to prioritise a digital backup plan.

Class-leading tech

Building an onsite data centre and server room will give you full control over your data and provide the best possible security for it. It will also enable the enterprise to leverage data more effectively and support your critical daily IT activities. Other benefits include additional data visibility and accessibility plus reduced latency and failures. A server room fit out could transform your data analytics and digital backup capabilities.

Digital backups benefits

Cost: Digital backups eliminate the need for time-consuming methods such as tape, which are not feasible for the fast-paced digital age.

Compliance: Digital backups can help you to meet increasingly stringent regulatory and compliance regulations related to data.

Mobile: Digital backups can be completed anywhere, at any time at work or on the move.

Protection: Fully encrypted backup, storage and recovery provide the highest levels of protection for data for enterprises.

Recovery: Data can be recovered via any device with an internet connection and you will get access to it immediately, which reduces the impact of downtime.

Scalable: Digital enables you to scale your backup requirements depending on your particular needs and requirements.

Support: Management and monitoring of digital backups can be completed via an intuitive interface in a quick and simple manner.

Data governance

Data governance and digital backups are intertwined as the latter enable enterprises to ensure that their data assets are managed effectively throughout the enterprise. Data governance is essentially a quality control discipline for all the data you have access to and how you manage, monitor, maintain and protect it. Establishing a digital backup strategy is a critical means of supporting these endeavours and ensuring data won’t be lost or stolen.

Continue Reading

Does a Small Business Really Need IT Support?

Does a small business really need IT support? They might.
Photo by CC user Marko Puusaar on Wikimedia Commons

If you are running a small home business, the chances are you still have an accountant. Most new entrepreneurs realise quite quickly that keeping their accounts and filling out there tax return accurately is not as easy as it seems on paper. Many try to manage in the first year, by which point they see the wisdom of hiring a professional to take care of this aspect of their business. Does a small business really need IT support? In many instances, they could badly use the assistance of third-party tech specialists.

IT support firms do offer packages that are suitable for SMEs

Yet when it comes to IT support, most small business owners never give it a second thought. Unfortunately, it takes a disaster to make most of them see things in a different light. Many entrepreneurs struggle on looking after all of their technology themselves.

This is partly because they do not realise that they can actually get help, for a low cost. Many business owners wrongly assume that because they only have a small network that IT support firms will not be interested in supporting them.

In the past, this would have been true. However, these days it is easy for a small business owner to find IT support in Leeds, and other large cities.

The IT support industry woke up many years ago to the fact that by focusing only on big companies they were ignoring a huge potential market. In the UK, a phenomenal 99.3% of private companies are classified as small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs), employing between 1 and 49 people. As a result, a lot of IT support firms now target small businesses, and tailor their service and prices to meet their needs.

Why you need IT support

Letting someone else look after your IT needs brings many benefits to a business. Top of the list is improved security.

By keeping your hardware and software up to date, and following proper protocols you can keep your data and that of your customers safer. A good IT support package will include regular updates, and help with setting up robust and safe protocols for your network and equipment.

There is a tendency for small business owners to believe that a cyber attack could never happen to them. Sadly, these attacks are becoming more common, and shockingly some firms never recover after an attack. There are profitable businesses out there that are folding following data attacks. You can read more about the level of the problem, and the terrible affect being hacked has on a small company on this page.

More time for you to invest in your business

Letting someone else take care of your IT needs can really free up time. There is no longer a need to take the morning out, to set up your new laptop, or update your kit. Someone else can take care of all of that for you, leaving you free to focus on growing your business, and serving your customers.

Help when things go wrong

The other great thing is that you can get expert help when things go wrong. There is no longer any need to spend hours digging around the internet trying to work out what is wrong with your system.

You just have to pick up the phone and talk to an expert who will know immediately what the issue is, and how to fix it first time. This allows you to get back to doing what you need to serve your customers, as soon as possible.

Continue Reading

Identity Theft Can Prove Quite Taxing

Identity theft can tax your well being ... protect yourself against it.

Photo by CC user Brian Ronald on wikipedia.org

With identity theft a noticeable problem on many fronts these days, what exactly are you doing to protect yourself and/or your business?

It should not come as a major surprise that tax season is one of the biggest targets for identity theft thieves.

Stop for a moment and think about all the financial information that is sitting around out there when consumers and/or business owners are compiling their tax information. For identity theft thieves, this can seem like Christmas morning, with oh so many gifts to open up.

That said there are means by which consumers and business owners can protect their personal and financial well-being online and when not using the Internet.

Thieves Want to Tax Your Well-Being

When was the last time you did a full review of how you protect yourself both online and off when it comes to your finances?

With tax related identity theft a growing problem, it is important that you not give identity theft thieves an open pass to your personal information.

Among the ways to go about this:

  • Protecting your Social Security number – Never for a second think about giving out your SSN unless it is required for an official document or other matter that you fully trust. There are times when you may be asked to provide your SSN, but make sure you can verify those times. If an identity theft thief gets ahold of your number, he or she can use it to tap into your financial and personal life, setting off a chain of negative events;
  •  

  • Protecting your bank account/s details – Whether you have just one bank account or multiple ones, keeping that information locked up (so only you and your significant other have access to it) is imperative. Along with keeping it safe online, avoid accidentally (or sometimes purposefully) giving it out over the phone (unless you can 100 percent verify the requesting source) or leave it sitting around in public. Identity theft thieves just need the slightest of gaffes on your part to strike, a strike that could leave your finances in peril. One such example is when you go to the bank to conduct financial transactions. If you fill out a deposit slip for instance, don’t leave it unattended for a minute or two. Also avoid having it in plain sight of others who could copy your account information down in a matter of seconds. Practicing extra caution is worth the time, especially given the alternative of having the information swiped from you;
  •  

  • Protecting your credit cards – Even though more consumers are going to debit cards and using mobile devices to pay for items, the credit card industry is still huge. As a result, identity theft thieves know it is a lucrative gold mine for them when they gather one’s credit card information. Along with never giving out your card information (unless for legitimate purposes), be careful not to leave your card unattended for even a minute. Per example, you go to a public setting (library, coffee shop etc.) and use a computer to order and charge an item. Perhaps you want a copy of the transaction, so you step away briefly from your computer to print out the receipt. While at the printer retrieving your receipt, and identity theft thief sitting next to you at your computer glances over and copies your credit card information down. If this happens to you, you could be opening the door to a world of trouble. Also be careful not to leave credit card receipts sitting around at restaurants or other facilities where you may charge something. Lastly, be sure to shred any credit card receipts once you no longer need them in checking your financial records.

 

Today’s digital world offers so many opportunities to make your financial life easier.

That said it also provides identity theft thieves with an open invitation to cause trouble in your financial world.

While taking a few extra minutes to err on the side of caution may seem time-consuming, it is well worth it.

Remember, the identity theft thief can be patient in waiting for you and others to make a mistake.

The question then becomes, will you make that mistake or will you outwit the bad guys?

Continue Reading

Don’t Let Identity Theft Fraud Cloud Your Life

Do you have enough to worry about in life?

If the answer to that question is yes, why then would you want to add the possibility of becoming an identity theft victim to that list of concerns?

Unfortunately, countless individuals find themselves becoming just that on a yearly basis.

Whether by pure fate or by putting themselves in a precarious situation to begin with, many people end up having their identity stolen over the Internet, leaving them scrambling to get it back.

With that being the case, what are you doing to protect your online identity?

7557181168_d2969d167f_o

Educate Yourself on Online Safety

For starters, don’t leave yourself vulnerable whenever you go on the Internet, even if it is just for a minute or two to look something up or check your email.

As many identity theft victims have discovered in the past, it only takes that one slip-up to open the door up to trouble.

That said use these tips to better protect your online experiences:

  • Use commonsense – Your first line of defense against identity theft thieves is simply using commonsense. Cyber-criminals are hoping that you let your guard down even just for a minute, allowing them to swoop in and get the personal and/or financial data they need to cause you problems. When you go on the Internet each and every time, don’t do it in a hurried state of mind; that is generally when people make mistakes. Don’t download any attachments (see more below) appearing suspicious. Also make sure you do not share your log-in details with anyone outside your immediate family. Even then, family members are better suited having keeping their own log-in information to themselves;
  • Have a plan – What are you doing to protect your online time in the first place? By looking into identity theft protection plans, you can choose one that is best suited for your online needs. Whether you buy a provider’s standard plan or go with the best upgrade available, it is important to have one that all but eliminates the chances of an identity theft thief breaking through. When searching for the right plan provider for your needs, see not only what plans they offer, but how long they have been in business. Do they have a good track record of success versus failure? How good is their customer service outreach? Finally, do they offer deals and other rewards for current members when it comes time to renew a plan? With the right plan in place, you can feel better about your time spent on the Internet;
  • Test the system – So that you can be as sure as possible that you have a formidable firewall against identity theft thieves, test your system from time to time. Are you able to penetrate it? Do you recognize any cracks in the wall and/or weaknesses that an expert criminal could very well exploit? Keep in mind that online criminals are likely testing your site and hundreds and hundreds of others on a daily basis. Beat them to the punch by making sure your system is as impenetrable as possible;
  • The business of identity theft – Identity theft is bad for everyone (except of course the perpetrator of the crime). If you run a home business (or any business for that matter), having your business or personal data breached can lead to all kinds of trouble, especially from a financial standpoint. This is why it is important for business owners to protect the personal and financial data of all their customers. In the event there is a data breach, be sure to alert your customer/customers that you are working on rectifying the problem ASAP. The biggest mistake you can make is taking your time to address the problem. When you do that, the impacted customers may totally lose faith in your ability to guard their personal financial data.

Falling victim to identity theft can be something that has a negative impact on your finances for a long time to come.

While you may never feel 100 percent protected against online criminals, do everything possible to limit the options they have to breach you and your personal and/or business data.

Continue Reading

Groupon’s now offering big discounts on Harmon Audio gear

Many travelers spend lots of time traveling on planes, trains, buses and automobiles, and it can get pretty dull while doing so. We all love to travel, but the actual ‘going there’ part can be quite boring.

To keep you from dying of boredom it’s important to have some sort of entertainment, or at least have some music to listen to. Luckily for you, we’ve got a great tip. Harmon Audio has just teamed up with Groupon.com to offer a range of discounts on its best audio gear, including MP3 players and other items. Check out their page today!

harman audio

Continue Reading

The Countries With The Fastest Internet

Countries With The Fastest Internet

Thinking about living the life of a digital nomad? Or maybe just need to get some work done while on vacation? Well check out this list to see the countries with the fastest internet. While it is often hard to determine who has “the fastest” internet due to many variables such as averages, cities, and wireless; these a few nations that stand out for the outstanding and cutting edge dedication to high speed internet connectivity.

Countries With The Fastest Internet
The United States
Let’s start out with the big one. The U.S. has at average speed of over 8.6mbps per second. This is only getting faster as plans for massive fiberoptic are being completed including ambitious plans by Google. Wifi is also abundant and often “free” with purchase at most bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. Due to America’s massive size and diversity, the accessibility and speed of internet can vary greatly depending on your specefic location. Some cities have even began implementing city wide free wireless Internet.

South Korea
South Korea has possibly the fastest average speed at an astonishing 22.1 mbps. This blows away most other countries and sets up an infrastructure to allow for massive economic growth. With close to 95% of the population using the internet, South Korea makes good use of the high speed bandwidth. South Korea’s reputation as one of the countries with the fastest internet is credited to a hybrid approach including  governmental planning, private section competition, a dense urban populace, and a culture thirst for the information, online games, and live streaming YouTube celebrities.

Denmark
This northern European country boats some of the fastest and most widespread high speed internet connectivity in the world. Despite lack of competition, the danish broadband market provides excellent speed and accessibility. Denmark is also leading the pack with wireless broadband with a recent promise of  99% of the population to be covered with 4G (10mbs) in 2015. Denmark also repurposes existing infrastructure such as out of use smoke stacks as antennas.

Northern European and and North East Asian countries  are consistently ranked  to have the fastest internet. The commonalities seem to be small prosperous  nations with urban populations. It is much easier to get all your citizens on a single high speed network when they all live in same city, other developed countries such as China, Australia, and the United States face a more difficult time keeping up due to their size. Also it is important to know these numbers seem to be increasing by the year, so a country with limited internet access today could have wide spread broadband by next year. Also the amount of high-speed cellular data networks is rising exponentially and it is not hard to a imagine an entire world connected by a 4G network.

Continue Reading

What Can Virtual Assistants Do For You?

Virtual Assistant

No, a virtual assistant is not something out of a science fiction movie. A virtual assistant is often a freelancer working from home (virtually) who can help you with your business. So what can virtual assistants do for you? Well, they can do just about anything a physical assistant could; often at a fraction of the cost. Here are some ideas:
Virtual Assistant
Presentations
Last minute meeting and you don’t have your presentation ready? Your virtual assistant can help you with this. Maybe you have all the content ready to go but you don’t have the time or expertise to put into a shareable format. This is a great task to assign to your virtual assistant, simply provide some instructions and wait for the results.

Research
Is your business set to expand into a new arena? Do you need to do some research on potential clients or competition? Give this job to your virtual assistants and let them loose. They will scour the world wide web and bring back a well written data driven document on the topic of your choice. This is not only time saving but can be crucial in making your next big move.

Emails
Out of control inboxes are far to common these days. This is something your virtual assistant could help with. Imagine waking up Monday morning to a single email from your assistant telling you the highlights and must does from the weekends messages. I couldn’t think of a better way to start your week.

Chasing Clients
Maybe you know there is business out there but you don’t have the time to chase up all those leads in your Rolodex (or digital equivalent.) Share these ideas with your digital assistant and have them send personalized email or physical mailers. Instead of using a mass email service you could be having your assistant write customized personal messages geared at each client. These emails could pay off big time and you will be thanking your virtual assistant.

Vacation Planning
Its not only business, you could also have your virtual assistant help with something more fun. A digital assistant is the perfect tool for planning your and your families next getaway. Your virtual assistant can look up the perfect hotels, restaurants and flights. They can also find unique things for you to do while on vacation. Imagine having your next trip all sorted out before you even leave home, so all you had to think about are the waves rolling up on the beach.

These are only a few of the possible things your virtual assistants can do for you. The sky is the limit on what tasks you can assign your virtual assistant. Once you get used to your virtual assistant you will be wondering how you ever lived without one.

Continue Reading