Grill out with the Latest & Greatest Techie Gadgets this 4th of July!

At Southern NetworX, we utilize the SNX Professor to share news and updates within the field of Information Technology, and to keep our customers and prospects alike armed with the latest information and tips & tricks in the world of IT! That applies to computers, hardware & software, smartphone applications, and the latest updates in the field of technology…including grilling gadgets.

With the 4th of July just around the corner, the majority of Americans will spend the day grilling, watching fireworks, and relaxing with friends and family. Technology has changed a lot in the past 65 years, and the products below are the proven result of that advancement. So, pick up one of these nifty tech gadgets before the 4th and grill out with the most up-to-date products on the market today!

The Vivino Wine App

The Vivino Wine App – Find that Wine!

During such social events as Independence Day, it’s not uncommon to sample a pleasing wine only to forget the brand soon afterwards. The fun, free Vivino app was created to help people remember great wines.

Vivino was launched in April 2012, and is the #1 wine app. With ease, the app helps wine lovers — novice or pro — discover and rate wines tasted. It allows users to do this by taking photos of wine labels using unique image recognition technology that matches scans against an ever growing database. Vivino connects wine lovers via a network of posted reviews and allows users to share their experiences through Facebook, Twitter and email. The app is available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry (BB10). To learn more, please visit http://www.vivino.com.

http://www.consumerelectronicsnet.com/article/Uncork-July-4th-Wines-with-Smartphone-Tech-2676257
 

iGrill

The iGrill with Bluetooth-enabled meat-monitoring

The iGrill lets your smartphone know in real time what the internal temperature of your meat is. This Bluetooth-enabled thermometer’s probe connects to a stand-up digital display, which communicates with your iPhone up to 200 feet to keep you up to speed on the meat’s real-time internal temp readings, as you already know your iPhone is 98 Degrees. In addition, it’s less than $100 on BestBuy.com.

The Lotus Grill – Smokeless and Portable

Looking to grill on the beach or other crowded location where smoke is frowned upon? Then the Lotus Grill is the grill for you! It features a built-in, battery-operated fan, which creates a bellows system that not only ensures the fire gets hot quick, but that there’s minimal smoke produced while it’s lit. It also works as a way to evenly distribute “thermal and radiant” heat across the grill, and thus only requires 10% of the coals you’d need in a regular, similarly sized rig.

The Grillbot

The Grillbot – A Roomba for your Grill!

While you won’t be able to order this in time for Independence Day (not available until September 20th for $99.95) we thought the Grillbot was still worthy of mentioning when it comes to the latest in grilling technology. It’s essentially a Roomba for grill tops; it moves around scraping the crusty sludge from grill rungs using three powerful, motorized wire brushes that conveniently activate at the press of a button.

Rechargeable and designed to scrub whether the grill is hot or cold, it’s equipped with an LCD timer for setting how long you want it to clean (a normal-sized grill should require about 5 minutes). In addition, when the brushes get overrun with gunk, they easily pop off and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

We hope everyone enjoys this blog and has a safe and fun-filled 4th of July! Happy Independence Day!

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How Information Technology is Helping Students in Elementary School…(reblogged)

Great video illustrating how the advancement of IT is positively effecting children in elementary school.

Follow their blog here: http://paton.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/interactive-whiteboard-in-action/

Interactive White Board in Action

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What Is Flat Design? | re-blogged from Gizmodo.com

We at Southern NetworX constantly strive to inform our clients and prospects of the latest in technological advancement today. Please enjoy the article below on “Flat Design”, hosted by Gizmodo.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog focusing on how to create a Help Desk ticket through Zendesk!

What Is Flat Design?– re-blogged from Gizmodo

With the release of iOS7 just around the corner, clamor over the changes Jony Ive will institute is growing. The general consensus—on this site and elsewhere—is that Apple is about to get a flat makeover. But for the uninitiated, “flat design” can be a confusing term. So let’s talk it out, shall we?

Flat design is shorthand for a design philosophy…

Think about your computer’s desktop. Or your iPhone’s calculator. Or your iPad’s newstand. Those things are designed to sound, and more importantly look, just like the real-life analogues they’re named after. Do we really need all of those visual cues and extra details? People who advocate for flat design don’t think so.

…that argues for simplicity, clarity, and honesty of materials in user interfaces…

Instead, flat advocates (flatvocates?) argue that GUIs—graphical user interfaces—should eschew style for functionality. That means getting rid of beveled edges, gradients, shadows, and reflections, as well as creating a user experience that plays to the strengths of digital interfaces, rather than limiting the user to the confines of the familiar analog world. In web design as well, “flat” pages rarely introduce dimensionality, shadows, or textures into the equation, relying instead on parallax scrolling and visual clarity to communicate.

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A great example of flat design is Google Now, which uses a card-like system to display information brackets. Rather than ghettoizing information inside of static icons, Now displays data on a standard-sized card that’s easy to read and easy to swipe away. Another example? Windows 8, descended from Microsoft’s Metro design language, which values typography—or the delivery of information—over graphics that help the user understand what type of content they’re reading.

…usually couched as a reaction to the problems of skeuomorphic design…

To understand flat design, you have to understand the thing it’s revolting against: skeuomorphism. Skeuomorphism boils down to visual trickery, or the use of details and ornamentation to make one thing look like another. In architecture, false facades are skeuomorphic. In car design, fake wood panelling is. Skeuomorphism in UI design usually refers to a digital element designed to look like something from the physical world. That can mean anything from Pinterest’s “pin board” to the rich leather stitching that boarders Find My Friends.

Examples of skeuomorphic design.

…which uses gradients, textures, and other details to make digital objects look “real.”

Skeuomorphism in digital space dates back to Apple’s first consumer GUI, from 1984, which introduced the concept of a “desktop” and icons that looked like folders and pieces of paper. Back then computer interfaces were a totally foreign concept to most users, which made skeuomorphism a valuable tool. It let designers create visual metaphors between old, familiar objects (a manilla file folder) and a new, confusing tool (a digital file). Skeuomorphs helped us learn.

An Apple Lisa desktop in 1984, image via.

But as personal computers became ubiquitous, fewer and fewer people needed those visual cues to understand the function of an icon or button. Skeuomorphism became an overwrought style—a kind of digital Potemkin that cluttered screens and overburdened the user with unnecessary details. And so it became a pariah for a new generation of designers—most of whom don’t remember a world without computers.

This should all sound pretty familiar. Modernists have argued these same basic ideas since the turn of the last century: don’t add extraneous details that don’t support functionality. Do be honest about materials and structure. Don’t create a fake front just to make users feel safe. It’s the same basic war cry of every modern designer since Le Corbusier came screaming into the world. In a way, “flat design” isn’t anything new—it’s just the contemporary shorthand for modernism with a capital “M.”

And what’s after flat?

Though the world is definitely going flat, it won’t be flat forever. We can glean where UI and UX are going, after flat design runs its course, by looking at the last century—during which each wave of modernism revolted against the one that had came before. For example, after the strict modernism of the Bauhaus and the International Style took the world by storm in the 1930s, a second generation of designers introduced the concept of Critical Regionalism into the discussion, arguing that one-size-fits-all credo of early modernists was sort of… reductive. It’s likely that the same thing will happen with interface design. After radical flatness, we’ll probably see designers carefully reintroduce dimensionality where it’s really needed.

But that’s all a few years down the line. For now, we’ll wait and see whether Jony Ive takes the flat design bait, or if he revolts—in which case, things are about to get a lot more interesting.

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How Southern NetworX Has Avoided Financial Over-Leveraging

Dollar SignThe business philosophy followed by Southern NetworX is somewhat different than those followed by most small businesses. Jeremy Anderson (CEO) and Michael Petri (CTO) have similar backgrounds in technology, and both have worked for a few companies in the past that might have had a good thing going (as far as products/services offered) but ended up failing due to poor management at top levels. This is something we strive hard to avoid at SNX.

The problem is actually quite simple, and it translates from the routine of our everyday lives and how we do things nowadays vs. how things used to be done in the past. Starting and growing a business has always been a big part of the “American Dream,” and entrepreneurs continue to pursue that dream every day. Unfortunately, a huge number of start-up companies fail very quickly and many fail much later while seemingly doing so well. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, over 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. Why?

We believe a large part of this is due to the fundamental change that has occurred in the way people choose to financially fund and develop their businesses. Without a doubt, technological development over the past couple of decades has made us more connected than ever. The Internet has allowed us to gain access to information and data like never before, and it’s made us more productive in so many ways, so why are so many businesses failing? Some would argue that the same technology that has connected us and made information so easily accessible has also made us much more short-sighted, and infinitely reliant on instant gratification. This is especially true when it comes to funding our business ventures.

So, what does all of this mean for a small business? Here’s an example of how things used to work, vs. our current “have it all now” model that provides us with instant gratification:

1960’s: A small mom-n-pop auto repair shop in a small town has no other franchises, no debt, and is considered profitable. They keep their books in the black and enjoy life.

Today: Same business scenario in today’s economy would be considered unsuccessful unless they can now open 20 new franchises in neighboring towns, all within the first 12 months of start-up, on borrowed money, from banks or investors or what have you. This means that while the single repair shop may have started back in the ’60s and continued to be profitable and self-sustaining decades later, the same shop started today, using the wrong mentality, could easily over-reach too soon while at the same time being financially over-leveraged and end up having to close its doors because it can’t pay its bills.

Jeremy and Michael have witnessed too many of the companies that they used to work for go under, either going from true profitability to loss (due to waste) or never being profitable at all and only surviving because of investor funding, which was all based on promises to the investors that there was some magical return on their investment in the very near future.

At Southern Networx, what we have tried to do is learn from all these different failed companies and build ours based on what we would have done differently. The main thing that we always took away from the past experiences is this: to make sure that the company is always self-funded. At SNX we are not dependent on outside funding, which means that we do not answer to any investors or any other outside parties who may NOT have the company’s best interests in mind. This allows us to make our own decisions as to which direction the company goes, and allow us to ensure its survival and profitability.  Thus far, it has worked beautifully.

What businesses do you know of that have used financial over-leveraging to start out? Has it worked for them, or have they ended up closing their doors?

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Remember the clunky 1980’s cell phone?

Technology has changed so much in the past 65 years, and the images below speak to that fact. From 8 pound clunky cell phones that offered 30 minutes of phone time and made your face sweat, to computers as big as a house. The past 65 years in the Information Age have seen extreme technological advancement. Computers that once took days to calculate the correct answer to a simple math equation now fit in the palm of your hand and perform without delay, and cars will soon fly.

Southern NetworX is proud to be a part of the advancement and evolution of information technology. Enjoy these interesting images of technology from the past, and where we hope it goes in the future.

What do you think is the most interesting image in the gallery above, and why?

 

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