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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

How Women Can Get Ahead at Work: Develop Your Voice

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Dec 05, 2014 @ 10:51 AM

Pittman.headshotby Marilyn Pittman, Voice Coach at ScreenPresence

Women for the most part do not have the deep low registers that men do. In a professional setting, especially one in which women are a small minority, we sometimes have to fight to get heard. Yet when we raise our voices, we don’t necessarily get more respect or attention. Many of us don’t know how to use our voices to engage the listener and lead the team.

Developing your voice and your presentation skills of all kinds, for that matter, requires training and technique. Start with knowing your strengths and weaknesses and learn how to maximize one while you fix the other.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I remember to breathe when I’m making a speech or presentation?

  • Do I get people’s attention and keep it?

  • Do I sound nasal and high-pitched, or do I sound authoritative?

  • Do I speak with confidence? Do I feel confident?

  • Do I vary pitch and rhythm when speaking to sound dynamic?

woman speaking work resized 600

Photo by dfid (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Once you can identify your weaknesses, you can begin to chip away at fixing them. Recording your voice whenever you can and playing it back to yourself will help you hear your voice how we hear it.

Also, finding good public speakers to emulate will help you develop your ear so that you can be a better coach to yourself. Do they vary the pitch and rhythm and emphasize the right words? Do they seem authentic and engaged? Do they project the volume of their voice enough? How’s their diction, is it crisp? Paying attention to these variables helps your ear distinguish between what voice commands attention and what doesn’t.

When it comes to your own voice, notice how you talk when you leave voice messages. Experiment with playing them back before you send them if you can, and pay attention to the clarity of your speech and thoughts, as well as the tone in your voice.

When you’re preparing for a speech or presentation, or even just a meeting with a few people, make time in your schedule to rehearse it out loud, practice it, finding the pauses and the meaning of words. Record it and listen back, pretending you’re in the meeting or audience. Keep at it until you’re satisfied that you sound cogent, present, committed to the content, and confident in your manner. When it’s show time, do something fun or relaxing just before you go on or enter the room. Stretch out the facial muscles, do a few tongue twisters, sing, hum, laugh. That’s right, laughing helps you stimulate the endorphins or pleasure chemicals so you can present from a more relaxed and confident place.

Ready to use your voice more effectively at work? Contact Screen Presence for a consultation: bizpresence@gmail.com.

Resources & Workshops/Webinars

Topics: career, guest bloggers, leadership

4 Tips to Make Your Business E-mail Writing More Effective

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 @ 03:48 PM

describe the imageby Lynda McDaniel, Your Inspired Writing Coach, and People-OnTheGo Faculty Member

We love to use e-mail because it's fast and easy. We also complain about e-mail because it’s fast and easy. The speed of e-mail too often means irritating, typo-filled messages that don’t get to the point quickly (the number one pet peeve in surveys of e-mail recipients.)

What’s wrong?

Some problems with e-mail stem from the challenge of all written words: no gestures, no facial expressions, no eye contact or tone of voice to support the message. Without the twinkle in the eye or the pat on the back, the reader may misinterpret the meaning of the words.

The speed of e-mail also contributes to its problems. Because we can send it fast, we think we should write it fast, dashing off messages without editing or proofing. Otherwise, it's not fast, is it? As a result, huge blocks of sloppy, rambling copy clog our inboxes.

Only to be deleted.

describe the imageI was amazed when I learned that at least half my students and clients freely admit to deleting e-mails they don’t like the looks of. When I asked what they said if asked about the message, they shrugged and answered, "We just say we didn't receive it." Ouch! All that work, but no one reads it.

What's right?

Let’s look at how you can overcome these challenges to write effective e-mail that get the results you need.

-> Sign up for our Business E-mail Writing webinar on April 10, 2014.

1. Subject line

You have only 10 seconds to grab your potential readers’ attention, so be sure to craft subject lines from their perspective. Include benefits they can relate to. For example, which of these would you open?

Carpet repair today or Early closing today

The writer wanted her staff to leave at 2:00 p.m. because the office would close early for carpet repairs. She sent the subject line on the left and was surprised to see everyone still working at 2:10 p.m. Her subject line didn’t pass the “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM?) test.  No one read it. If she’d sent the second version, everyone would have left at 1:59 p.m.

2. Get to the point quickly

Make sure your first paragraph informs your readers about the reason for your e-mail. Summarize your topic and then go into detail.  Remember: everyone is asking WIIFM?

3. Write to your readers, not at them

Don’t just data dump. Tell stories, benefits, and results through your readers' eyes. Use the word "you" often to engage them. "You" is a proven magnet that keeps people reading.

4. End with impact

Leave a lasting impression and make your expectations known. E-mail offers fast calls to action—just tell your readers to hit reply, click a link, download a document. Finally, let them know what the next steps are—you’ll call, they need to call or RSVP. And include your contact information. No contact information is another high-ranking pet peeve.

We'll go into detail on all these points—plus many more in my upcoming Business E-mail Writing webinar on April 10, 2014.

-> Click now for more details on the webinar.

 

 Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: business writing, email etiquette, guest bloggers

4 Tips to Recharge: The L.E.S.S. Is More Approach

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Oct 18, 2013 @ 10:40 AM

describe the image

by Jennifer Weland, Owner of Evolve Fitness & Coaching, and People-OnTheGo Faculty Member

A day full of meetings and demands from boss and coworkers. The 7 p.m. dinner reservation. Picking the kids up from soccer practice at 5. Shopping for groceries. Keeping the house habitable. And everything else on the never-ending “to do” list. Trying to keep up with all of life’s demands can take a toll on your energy—physically and mentally.

Four simple practices—what I call the L.E.S.S. is more approach—can help you recharge and give your mind and body what it needs. So you’ll be able to accomplish more with energy to spare.

Log Off

Nature and road by Sed Brayton Creative CommonsTechnology is great for keeping us connected and managing our to-do lists. But the problem with always being connected is that you’re always connected. Which means that it’s much harder for you to separate your week from your weekend, or your workday from your evening. We need down time. When you don’t get enough, it can completely drain your energy, unravel your relationships, stymie your stress recovery and ultimately ruin your productivity, research suggests.

Not only can your devices drain your energy, they can also drain away time you could be spending doing other awesome stuff (like sleeping in, connecting with friends, or spending time with family). Can you go a day without getting on the computer, without picking up the iPad, and without constantly checking your phone? And did you ever notice how we’re sort of like Pavlov’s dog when we hear the ping of our device? We HAVE to check–we can’t help it! If you can’t leave your phone at home or in the car, one of my favorite tricks is to put it on silent so I’m not tempted to check it every time I hear the ping. Here’s a great article on why unplugging is good for our mental health.

I recommend turning off the TV, too. Television itself can be tiring, and the older you get, the fewer and fewer stress-reducing benefits you get from a session with the boob tube, a University of California, San Diego study says. Instead of numbing your mind as a way to rejuvenate, stimulate it.

  • Try taking a walk along a scenic trail. Spending time in nature can help restore your energy and focus.

  • Put on some music. Research shows it can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and decrease stress hormones, and that it may increase feel-good hormones like exercise does. Music + exercise? Even better! 

  • Or, just curl up with a good book.

Eat Healthy

649px Healthy SnacksThe food on your plate can be the deciding factor between a sluggish and a supercharged day. A few small adjustments can go a long way toward optimizing your energy intake, such as:

  • not waiting too long between meals (ideally, you would not wait longer than four hours between meals)

  • swapping simple carbs like those primarily made of white flour and sugar, for complex carbs like sweet potatoes, oats and whole grain bread. 

  • adding in “super foods” including salmon, blueberries and almonds since they can actually help you stress less.

Your goal is to keep your blood glucose levels steady throughout the day. You don’t want to be on the glucose roller coaster. Once you spike it, you go through the inevitable crash and the cycle starts all over again.

And if coffee is your energy pick-me-up of choice, you may want to rethink how much caffeine you’re getting. Being over-caffeinated raises cortisol levels, makes you jittery and anxious and dehydrates you. Limit yourself to two cups a day, and for every cup of coffee you have, drink a glass of water.

Stand Up and Move More

Getting up and moving more throughout the day can benefit you many ways. From increasing blood flow to muscles, boosting productivity and creative thinking, to improving your posture.  And it will help you beat back the effects of sitting disease, which zaps your energy and puts you at risk for a whole host of health problems.  

Expending energy on exercise actually creates MORE for you to use, because it releases a flood of chemicals in your brain, like dopamine, that create feelings of greater energy. Maximize that feel-good response by getting at least 30 minutes of cardio four or five times a week and at least two, 30-45 minute muscle-strengthening sessions each week. Yoga can also be restorative because of the type of deep breathing that’s incorporated into it. Download cardio and strength workouts to try from my blog.

Stress Less

It’s ironic that one of the biggest energy consumers of our day has nothing to do with packed schedules or sweaty workouts. If you don't learn to manage your stress, little everyday stressors, like sitting in traffic, can cause a total energy meltdown. Not at first, because your initial reaction to stress is that your body starts pumping the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream, giving you an adrenaline rush. Your heart rate rises, your muscles tense, and your mind goes on high alert. But the rush is unsustainable, and before long your energy starts to crash, leaving you feeling foggy and unfocused.

Plus, when stress is always present, your body can’t get rid of the excess cortisol that builds up in your blood. It hangs around-sort of like the houseguest that won’t leave-turning your young fat cells into mature fat cells that stay with you forever. That excess cortisol can also increase your cravings for high-fat, high-carb foods because they cause chemical releases in the brain that make you feel good and counteract the stress side effects. Check out these tips to stress less.

Which tips sound like something you will try? What are your tips for recharging and reducing stress at work and at home? I’d love to hear what you tried and how it worked for you, or please leave your comment below.

Additional Resources & Webinars

Topics: wellness, guest bloggers, productivity, managing stress

12 Key Values to Powerful Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 @ 03:46 PM

Eugene DilanBy Eugene Dilan, Psy.D.

The verdict around employee engagement is in, and there is widespread agreement that an engaged workforce leads to higher retention, higher productivity, better customer satisfaction and yes, better overall sales and profitability. Consequently, there are many ideas about how to best create, optimize, and leverage engagement. These hypotheses range from the simplicity of Paul Marciano’s “RESPECT model” to Sirota’s “3-Factor Theory,” the work of Cathleen Benko in “The Corporate Lattice,” which focuses on the customization of how we build careers, do the actual work, and communicate—and let’s not forget Gallup’s “12 Elements of Great Managing,” among many others. So the critical question is, when it comes to developing powerful employee engagement, which model is the real McCoy?
EmployeeEngagement Quote
Unfortunately, there is no be-all and end-all model for optimizing engagement, and part of the reason for this is that individual employees, managers, executives, and organizations are not all alike. The strategies or levers that work with one person or place may simply not work with others. That said, if you look at a cross section of the research and working models, you might notice that some factors appear across all models—though the words used to describe them are all quite different.

I’ve made sense of the top engagement strategies across various models, and have provided them in the list below. The bottom line, however, is that true employee engagement interventions cannot be bought off the shelf and instead require time to assess and understand the specific and unique requirements for success within a specific sector, business, or individual.  We need to move away from thinking of engagement strategies as simplistic tools that once implemented can be forgotten, and instead work to intervene in a more holistic fashion. Here are the 12 key values that will get your organization on the right track to creating a powerful, engaged culture:

  1. Engaged leaders and managers. You cannot have engaged employees if your leaders are not engaged.
  2. Trust in leadership. Do what you say you are going to do. Make critical decisions based on what’s best for all stakeholders (internal and external).
  3. Timely, honest, and consistent two-way communications.
  4. Personable relationships with immediate supervisors. Research shows that knowing your immediate supervisor on a more personal level improves engagement.
  5. Respectful and collegial relationships with colleagues who are committed to doing great work.
  6. Fairness (compensation, workload, during conflicts, etc.)
  7. Pride in an organization’s mission, products, or accomplishments.
  8. Opportunities for professional/career development (within and across functions) that are appropriately developmentally challenging.
  9. Reward/recognition for progress or a job well done—however small. If you do not water the plants they won’t grow.
  10. Ability to influence or have some level of self-determination.
  11. Flexibility (when, where, and/or how the work gets done).
  12. Some level of accommodation to address personal needs as they arise.

To say it more directly, employee engagement is about culture. Culture is about values, leadership capabilities, policies, practices, and behaviors. How does one create a strategic culture? That is a very complicated question that is far beyond the scope of this blog post. However, we can begin by working to assess and understand whether the values and behaviors of our current culture are in fact delivering the performance levels we seek. If not, engaging other stakeholders to explore how the factors listed above can be optimized in the context of your strategy and culture will help.

Remember, Rome was not built in a day and that you need to employ all of the tools in your war chest. Values, leadership capabilities, policies, procedures, communication tools, learning and development, and performance management (including incentives) are all but a few of the many levers that, together, can help you create a coherent and powerful intervention that will move your organization from being mediocre or good to being best in class.

Eugene Dilan, Psy.D., is the founder and president of Dilan Consulting, Inc., and has over 25 years of experience providing direct clinical care and organizational consulting from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan to healthcare facilities, the aerospace industry, IT, and many more. More information at www.dilanconsulting.com, or contact eugene@dilanconsulting.com.

Topics: guest bloggers, business results, team work, webinars, leadership

Five Easy Ways to Kick-Start Your Book or E-book, by Lynda McDaniel

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 @ 07:58 PM

describe the imageDid you know that only a fraction of the people who want to write a book ever do? Why?

Even those who normally breeze through a blog or article often freeze when faced with the challenge of 200+ pages in a book. Add in hectic schedules, and the idea of writing a book gets more daunting.

Sound familiar? You can overcome these mental obstacles and start enjoying the business-boosting benefits of a book/e-book with these kick-start techniques:

1. Imitate to innovate: Find a book you love, a book that’s similar to the one you want to write. Often, what you admire is what you aspire to. Now deconstruct its style. Study how the book starts, finishes, and everything in between. You’ll quickly have a blueprint for your book.

2. Write 100 words for 100 days: If procrastination holds you back, this could be your breakthrough tool. Psychologically, you know you can fit 100 words into your schedule. And many days, you’ll write much more because once you’re on a roll, the words tumble out.

3. Write fast first drafts: Don’t worry about the quality of the words—and don’t edit as you go. Just get your ideas down as fast as possible. (This also increases your creativity.) Capture that jumble of thoughts so you can turn it into something great—later. You can fix a messy first draft, but you can’t fix a blank page.

4. Plunge in: Start wherever you feel passionate. Jump into the middle or end—you don’t have to start at the beginning. You’ll find your creativity is super-charged when you’re excited about the section you’re writing.

5. Take breaks: This may sound counterintuitive, but it works. As Pierre Khawand describes in Accomplishing More With Less, work on your book (or any task) for 40 minutes and then take a brief break. That’s 10 or 15 minutes longer than other performance studies, and here’s why in Pierre’s own words: “… while 30 minutes is reasonable and achievable, after 30 minutes of focused work, the ‘engine’ is now fully warmed up and functioning optimally, so those extra 10 minutes are ‘pure’ performance.”

Why not start your business-boosting book today? If you need one more nudge, just think about what it’s costing you not having a book/e-book to promote your business and expertise.

describe the imageLynda McDaniel is a writing coach and co-founder of The Book Catalysts. www.bookcatalysts.com/writing-class

 

 

Additional Resources

Topics: business writing, guest bloggers, productivity

I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. by Kyle Wiens (Harvard Business Review, 7/20/12); summary + commentary by Lynda McDaniel

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Sun, Jul 29, 2012 @ 04:23 PM

Haven't heard about our summary+commentary (s+c*d) format? Learn more!

Guest blog article by Lynda McDaniel

Summary

SpellingGrammar Summary and Commentary People OnTheGo

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Kyle Wiens calls himself a “grammar stickler.” He explains that everyone applying for a position at either of his companies, iFixit or Dozuki, is required to take a grammar test. With the exception of a couple of extenuating circumstances—dyslexia and English-language learners—he has a “‘zero tolerance approach’ to grammar mistakes.”

The difference between “too/to,” “its/it’s” and “their/they’re/there” is important, especially at his companies where the main products are user manuals and technical documentation. But grammar matters at every company, he explains. Whether in blogs and articles, e-mails or company websites, Wiens believes “your words are all you have. They are a projection of you in your physical absence.”

Commentary

Wiens comments echo my own efforts to elevate the quality of writing in the workplace. I appreciate his insights about people judging us with the clues they have—which today are often only our words. Fortunately, people seem to be increasingly interested in refreshing their grammar and punctuation skills. So I question Wien’s rigidity about a single mistake. Excellence is an honorable goal, but not perfectionism. I find perfectionism makes my clients quiver and quake when facing a writing project. It shuts down their creativity and actually causes errors.

Discussion

How are your  grammar and punctuation skills? What is the quality of writing in your workplace? Do you ascribe to a “zero tolerance approach”? Where do you stand on the difference between perfectionism and excellence?

Additional Resources

Topics: business writing, email etiquette, guest bloggers, summary-plus-commentary

What is the soul of Chromebooks?

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Fri, Oct 28, 2011 @ 04:00 AM

Guest blog article by Steve Loosley, Tech Blogger

Google Chromebooks fly under the banner “Nothing but the web.”

The tagline continues, “Chromebooks are built and optimized for the web, where you already spend most of your computing time. So you get a faster, simpler and more secure experience without all the headaches of ordinary computers.”

Is “Nothing but the web” the soul of Chromebooks? Is the heart and magic of Chromebooks a “faster, simpler and more secure [web] experience without all of the headaches”?

In what follows, I argue that the web experience is penultimate. Something more fundamental and deeper ultimately shapes the soul of Chromebooks.

The soul of Chromebooks is freedom.

Whether you were raised on Windows PCs, Macs, or flavors of Linux, the story is the same: the machines control the users; and the users serve the machines in order to have their needs met. Users install, troubleshoot, download, upgrade, repair, re-install, scan, and backup all in order to use the machines to accomplish tasks.

In the old way of computing, the machines control the users, and users serve the machines. Ironically, with control comes power and the power to create culture. Apple user groups, iPhone queue lines, and WWDC participants exemplify the power on an Operating System to create a culture where users are enslaved and controlled by machines.

Chromebooks unmask and upend this paradigm. With Chromebooks, the users control the machines, and the machines serve the users.

The machines upgrade, download, install, improve, and backup themselves. If machines need to be repaired, there’s nothing to reinstall: just power-up, log-in, and go to work. All of your settings are synced. All of your data is backed up.

Chromebooks transfer control to users. Users are set free to get on the web fast. Users retain power over their machines. Machines serve the users. Chromebooks create culture, but now the culture is centered around the interests of users, not the machines themselves. 

Chromebooks bring freedom. Users are set free from serving computers, free from updates and upgrades, backups and set-ups, repairs and restores, and viruses and malware. Users are set free from worry or concern if Chromebooks die or disappear.

“Nothing but the web” is penultimate. The web is the means, but not the soul of the Chromebook experience. Put an SSD (digital hard drive) in any laptop and you’ll get on the web fast in less than 30 seconds, but boot times alone are not enough. Fast on the web by itself will not transfer power and control back to users.

Chromebooks, unlike any other operating system, offer something more than fast web access. Chromebooks offer freedom.

The soul of Chromebooks is freedom.

Additional Resources

Google Chromebooks - Google Chromebook Website

Accomplishing More Virtually-in Second Life - Upcoming Popular People-OnTheGo webinar

People-OnTheGo Complete Webinars Schedule and Registration (Q4, 2011)

Topics: guest bloggers, Technology

Google Chromebooks: I'll show you how to make the move (part 4)

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Oct 26, 2011 @ 04:00 AM

Guest blog article by Steve Loosley, Tech Blogger

If you’ve been with us, you’re an expert on Chromebooks, Google’s fast-on-the-web, super secure, continuously improving notebook computers. In this post, I want to help you make the move to a Chromebook, by showing you what I did.

Email

My first step to prepare for a Chomebook was moving my email to Gmail. Importing my Mac address book was straightforward, and to my surprise, I could even use a custom domain with Gmail. Today, I use Gmail in a web browser, along with its many features from labs to filters.

Images

Like many of you, I had a large library of photos, most of which were stored on my hard drive. I knew this had to change. After exploring many good options, I settled on SmugMug. I uploaded my entire library to SmugMug, where all of my images are now stored.

Documents

I began creating all new documents and spreadsheets in Google Docs, and over time, I created new web-versions of existing, highly used spreadsheets. Also, I uploaded my archive of old documents, which was a breeze thanks to recent enhancements in Google Docs.

Music

Coming from the Mac world, I had purchased music through iTunes. Although my music library wasn't large, I didn’t want to give it up, so I uploaded my music to Amazon Cloud Drive and to Google Music Beta.

I prefer Google Music because of the seamless integration. More recently, I’ve been testing web-streaming services, ranging from Pandora to Sky.fm, and from Grooveshark to Rdio, all of which I’ve come to enjoy.

Checkbook

One of the most difficult steps in my transition has been our personal checkbook. We had years of data stored in a desktop application. I found the online, cloud-checkbook services lacking, so imported the data into a Google Spreadsheet. Amazingly, I can sort and filter the 2,000 row spreadsheet with ease. Since we pay most of our bills online, we don’t need to print checks. Google Spreadsheets is more than adequate for our needs.

GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting, which requires Java, won’t run on a Chromebook. I tried running the service by accessing a desktop computer with LogMeIn and Teamviewer, but neither worked satisfactorily. Two weeks ago, Google introduced Google Remote Desktop beta, a cross-platform application that enables you to connect any two computers with a Chrome browser. I’m excited to report that this app looks especially promising, and now I can work around the Java limitation by connecting to a traditional computer.

Current Status: Continuous Improvement

Over the last 10 months, my experience with Chromebooks has been one of continuous improvement. The Chrome operating system is a hundred times better than it was when I first booted-up a Cr-48 pilot Chromebook, and I’ve learned to overcome the apparent limitations. Today, a Samsung Chromebook is my laptop of choice.

Is anything holding me back?

No, but. A Chromebook fits my needs, but .... It’s easier to review and comment on a long Word document with Microsoft Office than Google Docs. I haven’t figured out (yet) how to scan using a Chromebook. Although I can attend a GoToMeeting using Remote Desktop, to be honest, it’s easier on a traditional computer. (Hopefully, Citrix will abandon Java.) Lastly, I’m involved in a business that uses QuickBooks, and although QuickBooks offers a cloud version, the other users are reluctant to make the move.

Will I go back?

Nope. Not a chance! I’ve spent hours and hours updating, backing up, and restoring traditional computers. Chromebooks are a dream-come-true. Someone called them “throw-away computers.” One Google employee remarked that she’s literally given hers away when asked by a co-worker.

Chromebooks have changed my computing. Yesterday, the means was often the end: keeping computers working was the work. Today, Chromebooks are the means. Without the need to worry about updates, backups, and crashes, I can focus on my work, not on keeping my computer running. In short, I’m totally sold on Chromebooks.

Now that I’ve shared my story, I want to hear yours. Will a Chromebook work for you? What's holding you back?

Additional Resources

Google Chromebooks - Google Chromebook Website

Accomplishing More Virtually-in Second Life - Upcoming Popular People-OnTheGo webinar

People-OnTheGo Complete Webinars Schedule and Registration (Q4, 2011)

Topics: guest bloggers, Technology

Google Chromebooks: drawbacks and limitations (part 3)

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 @ 04:00 AM

Guest blog article by Steve Loosley, Tech Blogger

A Google Chromebook is a fast, secure notebook computer that runs only a Chrome web browser. In our first post, we learned that it boots in 8 seconds, updates itself, and delivers unparalleled security. In our second post, we learned the key differences between Chromebooks and traditional notebooks. 

Since a web browser is a Chromebook’s only application, there are some limitations.

Connectivity Limitations

Arguably, connectivity is the biggest drawback: no Internet; no work. Without Internet, you can’t do much.

I say “arguably” for two reasons. First, some models come with 3G, in addition to the standard WiFi, which broadens access. Second, late this summer, Google began rolling out offline Gmail and Google Apps. Functionality is limited, but quickly improving. Chromebooks will soon work offline, all of the way from San Francisco to Beijing.

Software Limitations

The most significant drawback is software. Since standard programs won't run on a Chromebook, some tasks are more difficult than others. Let’s examine this limitation for three groups of users:

Corporate Users

  • Legacy Office data. Longtime Microsoft Office users often have countless Word and Excel files archived, and moving these to the cloud comes at a cost. Unless your a Google Apps customer, a Chromebook may not be for you. 
  • Desktop access. Citrix recently announced beta testing for its Citrix Receiver for Chrome OS, but it requires a server-side host. Google just introduced Chrome Remote Desktop, which looks especially promising! 
  • GoToMeeting. Chrome OS does not support Java, so apps like GoToMeeting will not run on a Chromebook. 
  • VPN. VPN connectivity is limited but developing. 

Higher Education Users

  • Word-centric institutions. If you are required to submit your work as Word files, then you must export from Google Docs, where formatting preservation is improving, but not trouble-free. The same is true for documents with comments. 
  • Word power-users. If you rely on custom keyboard shortcuts and auto-everything, Google Docs may be frustrating.
  • Academic papers. Reference and citation management software, such as Zotero, Mendeley, or RefWorks, currently do not integrate with Google Docs. Formatting lengthy Word documents with MLA or Chicago can be difficult. 

Individual Users

  • Applications. Many applications don’t run in a web browser — Skype, Spotify, and Photoshop, to name a few. Fortunately, this is easy to work around, using web-apps such as Google Talk, Rdio, and Picnik.
  • Standalone email. Email must be read on the web. Stand-alone email applications, such as Outlook or Apple Mail, won’t run on a Chromebook. 
  • Music. Those with large music libraries must either upload their music to cloud-storage services such as Amazon Cloud Drive or Google Music Beta, or they must utilize a web streaming service such as Grooveshark or Rdio. 
  • Video. If your an iMovie-producer, the new YouTube editing features may be inadequate for your needs. 
  • Image editing. Although an image editor is built into Chrome OS, it will never satisfy Photoshop gurus accustomed to working with brushes and layers. 
  • Image storage. Those with large image libraries will want to move their images to cloud-storage services such as Picasa, Flickr, or SmugMug.

To sum-up, if you produce movies, manipulate images, or write technical manuscripts, you probably need more than a web browser. Also, if you run custom desktop applications, web versions may not be offered.

In spite of these limitations, I am convinced that the Google Chromebook is a compelling choice for many today. More and more applications are running in a web browser, and Chromebooks are continuously improving and will soon work even offline. 

The Google Chromebook has a strong future, both for individuals and for corporate and education users. Join the revolution and say, “Goodbye,” to updates, backups, and viruses. What’s holding your back?

What do you think? Does the Chromebook have a future? Who will use it? Will it work for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Additional Resources

Google Chromebooks - Google Chromebook Website

Accomplishing More Virtually-in Second Life - Upcoming Popular People-OnTheGo webinar

People-OnTheGo Complete Webinars Schedule and Registration (Q4, 2011)

Topics: guest bloggers, Technology

Google Chromebooks vs. Traditional Computers (part 2)

Posted by Pierre Khawand on Wed, Oct 19, 2011 @ 04:00 AM

Guest blog article by Steve Loosley, Tech Blogger

In our first post, we said that a Google Chromebook is a fast, secure notebook computer that runs a Chrome web browser.

In this post, let’s contrast a traditional computer, whether Windows, Mac, or Linux, with the new Chromebook.

Overview: where's the action? 

Data Storage. On a traditional computer, the data, whether documents, spreadsheets, images, or MP3 files, is stored on your computer. On a Chromebook, the data is stored on the web, or as one person commented, "Google Docs is your hard drive."

Applications. On a traditional computer, you install and run applications on your computer. On a Chromebook, the only application that runs on your computer is a web browser. All other applications run on the web.

Maintenance. On a traditional computer, you maintain the software, and you backup your data. On a Chromebook, you sign-in and the web does the rest. The web updates your Chromebook, maintains your applications, and stores and protects your data.

iCloud vs. Chrombooks 

If you have an iPhone or Mac, you may be familiar with iCloud. iCloud keeps your data in-sync on your Apple mobile devices. iCloud does not make a Mac into a "cloud computer"; you must download documents to your hard drive in order to edit them. You cannot edit iCloud documents in a web browser, nor can you collaborate or share them with others. On a Chromebook, the data resides in the cloud where it can be viewed, edited, shared, and stored. 

SkyDrive vs. Chromebooks 

Microsoft's SkyDrive is similar to Google Docs; documents can be created and edited in a browser, and stored on the web. SkyDrive, however, differs from Google Docs, because documents can also be downloaded and edited in Microsoft Office on a user's computer. SkyDrive can also sync data stored in the cloud across multiple Windows devices. A Windows computer can function as a Chromebook-like cloud-computer, but fundamentally, it's a traditional computer. 

Security: is the web safe?

An interlocutor would relish the chance to ruin our fun by asking, “What about security? You want me to store my data on the web? Ha! Not a chance!”

Chromebooks use the principle of “defense in depth,” claims Google. Through sandboxing, verified boot, data encryption, recovery, and guest mode, Chromebooks are designed to be more secure than your present computer.

Hardware: who makes Chromebooks? 

Two vendors offer Chromebooks, Samsung and Acer, and both are similarly spec’d:

  • dual-core Intel Atom N570 processor
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 16 GB SSD
  • screen size - 12.1 in (Samsung) or 11.6 in (Acer)
  • full-size keyboard
  • WiFi only or WiFi + 3G

Chromebook 3

Chromebooks cost $300 to $500. Education and business users can lease Chromebooks for around $28 per month, which includes updates, tech support, and hardware replacements.

Do you think that a Chromebook would work for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. 

Additional Resources

Google Chromebooks - Google Chromebook Website

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Topics: guest bloggers, Technology

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