Tips for Windows 8/8.1: Save Time and Energy with Hibernation

July 29th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

mvi hibernate button

Throughout its evolution, Microsoft has continually added features to the Windows operating system to help users save time and money. One of the most useful features, designed primarily for laptops, is the Hibernation Feature. Hibernation started with Windows XP, and allows the user to power down while leaving programs open.

Once activated, Hibernation puts all current work on your hard disk before turning the computer off. This is incredibly convenient, because when ready, you can start back to work almost immediately. There is no need to boot up your machine or re-open programs. Additionally, because your computer uses no energy while in hibernation, you’ll be extending your battery life.

The hibernation feature is available on every Windows OS, and can usually be set in your power settings. Many versions also have it set to automatically activate when the battery is low.

If you’ve recently upgraded to Windows 8/8.1, you may have noticed that the Hibernate option isn’t readily available in the Power Menu. To easily add it, follow these steps:

1.  On your Start page, begin a search for “power.”

2.  Select SETTINGS on the right side.


4.  A new window will open, in which you’ll want to select CHANGE SETTINGS THAT ARE CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE. (It should be in blue text at the top.)

5.  Scroll down to the bottom and locate SHUTDOWN SETTINGS. Check the box next to HIBERNATE and then SAVE CHANGES.

You’ll now have the option to save time and money each time you log off. Remember, however, that it is a good idea to power down completely from time to time. Temporary files, disk caches, pages files, etc. tend to accumulate over time and, if not refreshed, can slow your machine.

Interested in learning more about Windows 8/8.1 and its features? Give us a call at 616.776.0400 or CONTACT US  for a consultation.

Neck and Shoulder Pain? Your Monitor Could Be To Blame

July 22nd, 2014 by Pamela Michael

MVI Monitor AdjustmentConsidering how much time we spend at our computers, it’s no surprise that injuries resulting from an improperly set up workstation are on the rise. Strain to arms, neck, shoulders and back are all common complaints. What might surprise you, however, is the importance monitor placement plays in workstation ergonomics. By simply adjusting our monitors appropriately, we can improve posture and thereby eliminate the strain that causes many of these aches and pains.

To ensure that your monitor is properly adjusted for maximum comfort, sit at your desk and follow these steps:

  • Move your monitor so that it is directly in front of you. Continually turning your head, even slightly, places unnecessary strain on your neck.
  • Hold your arm directly out in front of you. Your monitor should be positioned at the tips of your fingers.
  • Raise or lower your monitor so that your eyes are just above the center of the screen. If you cannot accomplish this by adjusting your monitor, you may want to consider raising or lowering your chair. Additionally, if your monitor does not have height adjustment capabilities, you might consider purchasing a monitor stand.  Your local office supply store should have these available in a range of styles, with price points as low as $20.
  • Tilt the screen of your monitor upward slightly, which will allow you to view the entire screen and display more clearly.
  • Finally, match the monitor’s brightness to the area directly behind it. Drastic differences in your screen and the rest of your view can lead to headaches and vision issues. Remember, you may need to do this several times throughout the day if you are working in an area affected by natural light.


3D Printing: How Does This All Work?

July 15th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

MVI 3D printingI recently read where one of the big box home improvement stores is now selling 3D printers both online and at select stores. Initially, I was surprised that they felt this would be something that would appeal to their “Do It Yourself” market. But as I continued reading, I understood just how amazing this new innovation is. You see, just this past weekend one of the little plastic shelf pins in my pantry broke. Not wanting to head to the hardware store, I searched all over the house and garage for a suitable replacement, and finally ended up fixing the situation with a giant screw. It’s ugly, but it does a good job stabilizing the shelf. Imagine, though, if I had previously purchased a MakerBot Replicator. Using one of my intact pins as a model, I could have easily generated a replacement. Far more attractive than that screw, perfectly matched to the others, and all without leaving the house!

For a price tag of about $1500, a 3D printer can now be acquired and used to start manufacturing needed items right at home from a digital image. Also known as solid imaging and additive manufacturing, the process was invented back in 1983 by Chuck Hull, utilizing the technique he called stereolithography. Though the innovation has evolved over the years, the end result is still the same; 3D printing allows a three-dimensional solid object to be made from a digital design. Here is a general overview of how it works:

The intended item (in my case a small plastic shelf pin) is layed out using a scanner, animation modeling software and/or computer aided design. The software then creates a virtual blueprint of the object, divided into digital cross-sections. These cross sections are paper thin—typically between .1 and .2 mm thick. Next, the blueprint is sent to the printer for “assembly.” Depending on the type of 3D printer, many different types of materials can be used to “print” the item, including plastics, metal, rubber, and a hundred different other additives. One by one the very thin layers are added to the printer’s platform, working bottom to top. The layers are automatically fused together until, finally, a single three-dimensional item is created in DPI resolution. For a quick demonstration, check out this video by Computerworld.

3D printing is poised to revolutionize countless industries. Medical professionals have already begun using the technology to create implants, hearing aids, custom prosthetics, and a number of other things. China built a giant 3D printer capable of cranking out up to 10 small houses per day. Even the food industry is getting in on the action. By using sugar or chocolate, a number of sweets are being created, including these delightfully shaped sugar cubes.

For a complete history of Chuck Hull and his miraculous invention, check out his company website.

Keyboard Shortcuts: Boosting Productivity a Few Seconds at a Time

July 8th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

mvi control keySimply put, a shortcut key, or Keyboard Shortcut, is a key or combination of keys that execute a specific function quickly and easily without the use of the mouse. For many users, especially those who haven’t been through any formal computer training, the use of shortcut keys has never really been embraced. It seems the time it would take to memorize the combination and re-train oneself to use them would outweigh any possible productivity gain. Let’s explore that a bit, shall we?

Shortcut keys are typically accessed by using the Alt key, the Cmd key(Apple), Ctrl, or Shift. The standard method for specifying a shortcut is to list the keys in the order that they should be pressed. (If you are new to shortcut keys, understand that you will not actually press the plus “+” key, but rather add the next listed key while holding down the first.) Example: CTRL + S would be instructing you to press the Ctrl key and, while continuing to hold it down, also press the S key.

Each time we remove our hands from the keyboard to grab our mouse or trackpad we lose a few seconds of time. Learning just one or two shortcuts, then, may not add up to all that much time savings overall. However, when a number of shortcuts are learned and put into practice, many users are amazed at the boost in their productivity. The time savings could even total 8 full days per year, according to Brainscape!

If you’re not already using shortcuts, you definitely should do so. Word processing, including email composition, is a great place to begin. Start by learning these 12 basics:

CTRL + A Select all text
CTRL + S Save current document file
CTRL + X Cut selected item
CTRL + C Copy selected item
CTRL + V Paste
CTRL + P Print the current page or document
HOME Goes to the beginning of the current line
CTRL + HOME Goes to the beginning of the document
END Goes to the end of the current line
CTRL + END Goes to the end of the document
CTRL + Left Arrow Moves one word to the left at a time
CTRL + Right Arrow Moves one word to the right at a time

Ready for more? Find a more extensive list of Windows shortcuts HERE.