The new iO7 – Is it any good?

September 18, 2013 marked the dawn of the latest mobile operating system from Apple – the iOS 7. To get a feel of what the next generation of apps might look like, you don’t need to look any further than this.

Since its debut in 2007, iOS has followed just about the same design blueprint, with refinements here and there. But what we notice in iOS 7 is a complete overhaul of the operating system’s look and feel, while still maintaining the easy-to-use interface. The unnecessary features have been stripped away, and now the design is flatter as compared to previous versions. The heavy bars at the top or bottom of iOS 6 screens, for instance, have been removed. So have functions such as Edit and Done, with just text being left on show.

Out with the Old, in with the New
Visually, almost everything has been modified in iOS 7 – from the lock screen to the Settings app. Apple gives us a lightweight, straightforward interface with an emphasis on high contrast and thin space-saving text in Helvetica. The richly textured icons have all but been eliminated, and in comes simple schematic-like designs with minimal shading and depth. Similarly, buttons in most of the places have been replaced with either text or icons. The remaining buttons are generally very basic; take the circular border with text in it, for instance.

Simply put, the iOS 7 design is clean and crisp, and regardless of whichever app you’re using, the interface doesn’t get in the way of requested information; be it Notes, Calendar, Safari or any other. What you’re getting is the information you want, as the interface pulls way back and puts the focus on the information on display. But love it or hate it, the new design will need some adjustment.

Locked on
The same key elements present on the iOS 6 lock screen may have been retained by Apple on the new iOS 7, but a thorough makeover has been done too.

Your wallpaper now fills the screen on the new design, personalising your device even the more, as opposed to the iOS 6 where whichever image you chose to embellish the lock screen with looked like an image stuck, a letterboxed one at that, between the unlock slider and the clock. At the top is a clock with the current date, along with a row of icons for carrier, signal strength, battery life, Wi-Fi, and others.

You can swipe your iOS device from anywhere on the lock screen; if there are any notifications and you happen to swipe one, it indents slightly, and the device proceeds to unlock into the app of your choice. Those with a passcode enabled can swipe to the right after which you’ll be directed to a screen with a numeric keypad – or a keyboard for an alphanumeric passcode – where you can input your combination.

Futuristic Feature-rich
The updated Notification Center now furnishes you with weather and your commute details, and what’s in store for you for the day. The new Control Center is a time-saver as it provides quick access to basic settings like brightness and Airplane Mode. It also boasts shortcuts for the timer, calculator, flashlight and camera.

The iOS 7 camera adds new filters and a square-photo option. The Photos app drops the map view and organises your images into events based on location and date.

In comes the AirDrop, a feature iCloud users will find useful as they look to simplify the process of moving photos and files between mobile devices and computers.

The Siri voice-search is now available in male voice, and those who couldn’t take instructions from a female voice now have no excuse. It also defaults to Bing in the case of Web searches and pulls in results from Wikipedia and Twitter.

Multitasking too just got a new meaning with iOS 7. The same Home button double-click now zooms you out to display a mini versions carousel of all your open apps.

Battery Life an Issue
Here are some of the changes you will need to make if you want to get more juice out of your battery.

Automatic Updates
It’s designed to be power-conscious according to Apple, and this is no doubt a time-saver as well because it keeps your apps up-to-date without your indulgence. But if you won’t be using the charger for some time, you might need to disable it.

Background App Refreshing
This is a welcome feature that allows you to multitask with the background apps still active. However, with the default setting allowing all apps to refresh, this is a contributor of battery drain.

Spotlight
As you may have guessed, Spotlight does suck up that battery. Searching for almost anything boosts productivity big time, which in itself means Spotlight is constantly crawling for new data before indexing it. Unless you rely heavily on this feature, you can cope just about well with a partially indexed phone, so consider un-indexing some items.

Frequent Locations
Location-based apps and services are a big battery hog. That might apply to mapping apps, but lurking beneath your Settings is a good number of location services that could be causing more damage than they are of benefit.

Conclusion
You won’t require a great deal of re-learning with the iOS 7. The basic functions and layout are similar; same as the gestures you’ve grown accustomed to, in addition to possibly new ones since the launch of iOS like a right swipe to go back or up a level (applicable in Settings, Mail, Safari etc). There is still an icon grid on the home screen, and at the bottom is a dock with your favourite apps.

Initially, there may be some confusion as you come to grips with all the new icons, but the best thing about it is that everything will still be at the same place as it was before. Apple clearly won on this one, as they set a benchmark for future developments. Again.

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Why pay for staff, someone can answer phones for you?

In this day and age, we are seeing higher costs of employing staff. The growth pains of a company can be frustrating. You need staff to generate more time for yourself to promote the business, but then you need more money to be able to promote your business!

The risk is difficult to counteract because the cost of even a part-time staff member, can be expensive. Generally you wouldn’t be able to hire staff without having an office to have them work at also, although the world of home offices is expanding more and more every day.

So why not consider a Live Receptionist to answer calls for your business rather then hiring staff? You can have a live answer service in Australia for a fraction of the cost AND be able to terminate the service/cost at the drop of a hat, WITHOUT repercussions of legal systems and incorrect terminations!

Companies like Ozetel, provide virtual office packages for as little as $32 a month, including 20 calls per month so you can have someone answer the calls while you are out on the road drumming up new business and expanding your empire. The services can be set up as either;

- A standard answering service whereby a call centre agent will answer in your business name, prompt for name and contact number, take any further message details left by the caller and then email/SMS all the information to your points of contacts, OR

- An advanced answering service to gather more complex information or to direct messages to a particular department. You can even have a search by label (eg postcode or suburb or name of team member), that will allow multi levels of complex message taking and call flow.

The standard live answer services are charged by call also which allows you to have a strict budget per call. The advanced answering services are charged by the minute (in one second increments) because they are generally incorporating longer talk times. This allows for efficient costings to be applied.

So as a small business owner, if you are looking to free your time to focus on sales and marketing but simply cannot afford the cost of a staff member or office, the live answering services are a wonderful option that can be activated within minutes and for a very low entry cost.

You concentrate on sales and allow the live receptionist to take your calls for you.

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What happens when you do actually find yourself?

It’s that old adage, “what is the dog really expecting he is going to do when he catches that car wheel he is chasing?”

Bite it? Grab it and pick the this big metal animal up and shake it? Make it submit to him?

The truth is this canine friend of ours is actually not educated as to the reality of what it is he is chasing right? If he was actually kicked out of the illusion he would have a very quick and powerful realisation that that big metal animal he is chasing is way way way out of his league! I had this image in my head last night of one day turning the car around and chasing back! I want to see what he is going to do. Is he bluffing? Is it all just a bluff or does this beast actually think it can take on 5 tonnes of killing machine?

OK, yep so I have wondered down this tangent long enough, you are right. What’s my point?

Well, the common denominator when it comes to us and our search “for the self”, is the illusion. The thought that we are chasing after something that looks different to what the reality around it actually is. And we believe it! Like Fido. I need to be something else, or something is missing so I need to chase after what it is that will answer my question and give me peace, give me a “filled” sense of life. What are we chasing, what does searching for myself really mean? What do we do when we find us? Or a bigger question, if we don’t what we are looking for, how will we know when we find us?

It is a pondering time and I am beginning to think that doing something is far better then sitting stagnant. Answers come when we move in my latest experience. I haven’t always been a person who followed that rule because up til now many of my answers have actually come through waiting. But waiting has to have an end point and then “doing” is the next option. Even if we don’t know what or why it is we are “doing”, when waiting has failed, do something!

So, like the canine version of the chaser, I keep chasing after something. I keep trying to find the me that I think I need to catch.

AND, my answer to the question is, when I do catch, (me…), I will grab it with my teeth and shake it, make it submit and then get all the answers I seek, decommission him and take his existence.

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Fax to Email – Are You Up With It?

Many people may mock faxes, but it looks like faxing is here to stay. As much as many businesses still rely on paper trail due to its easy mode of filing, if organized well, the reality is you can still send and receive faxes through paperless solutions that don’t need an actual fax machine.

Fax to Email is a service where you use your email to send or receive fax, as opposed to using only phone networks with a fax machine. The good thing with this service is that you don’t necessarily need a landline phone number (traditional faxing), fax machine or fax modem card connected to your computer. All that you require is an account with a fax to email provider, Internet connection and email program.fax-to-e-mail

These providers charge a certain fee for use of this service, and if you are one of those that don’t send faxes that much often and would rather prefer a free service, there are a couple of online resources actually. Examples include GotFreeTax, FaxZero, PopFax, TPC Fax among others. The problem with these freebies is that they limit the number of faxes you can send in a day and some also allow for advertising on the cover page of your fax. That’s how they pay for it.

Let’s take a look at the better, paid option.

Getting Started

First and foremost, carry out a search to determine which fax to email provider offers the solution that suits you best. Examples of companies in Australia include Mbox, Ozetel, UTBox, Ozefax, just to mention a few of the established ones.

Sign up and the service providers will give you a fax to email number depending on your location. It’s also possible to get a 1300 or 1800 if you prefer. All faxes will be stored on your online account that you create. All that you need is a device that can send and receive emails (computer, tablet, smartphone etc), a registered account and an Internet connection, of course, and you are good to go.

Sending your Fax

Sending a fax is as easy as sending an email only that in this case you have to attach a document every time on the outgoing email. The best document format is usually in pdf format. After attaching your document, the fax to email service proceeds to send it as a standard fax.

It is also possible to send faxes directly from applications like Microsoft Word with services that are compatible with the Windows Fax Printer Driver.

Benefits of Fax to Email

Fax to email offers your business many benefits. For one, it is offers mobility in that you can access your faxes from any device with an Internet connection, no matter the time or location. You no longer need to wait by the fax machine to send pages or receive the transmission receipt, no paper jamming or going someplace else to send a fax.

Fax to email is simple to set up and use within just a few minutes. You can transfer your fax number or get a local one in no time. You don’t need a fax machine, telephone line or software. You are able to send faxes to numerous countries straight from your mailbox-Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail or any other.

Fax to email is far cheaper than traditional fax. You don’t need to rent a phone line, buy a fax machine, meet costs associated with paper, ink, cartridges, toners etc.

Environmentally friendly-in a world that is changing and going green, it is only wise to shift from the traditional mode of faxing to the digital era that requires less paperwork as we strive to save our flora.

These are just a few of the numerous benefits fax to email can offer.

 

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1300 Numbers Improve Your Business

1300 and 1800 NUMBERS CREATE A LARGE PRESENCE FOR ANY SMALL BUSINESS – The Ozetel Promo Video from OzetelTV

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Healthy Mind, Healthy Business!

The success of your business depends on you!

You are your business’s greatest asset. Essentially, if you are not at your best, neither is your business. That is why it’s so crucial that you take good care of yourself, so you can be the successful business person that you always knew you could be.

There are several different areas that you should focus on:

- your personal well-being,
- emotional health,
- health of your mind and,
- successful relationships with the staff.

Once all of these are performing at their optimal levels, you will see how your business can truly take off.

When your personal well-being is involved, you have to make sure that all of your affairs are taken care of appropriately. On a personal level, you want to be sure that you are physically well and healthy. Get sleep, eat nutritious food, drink water, exercise – these basics will make a huge difference in your life and thus extend to the life of your business.

Your family life should be rewarding as well. As a businessperson, you want to make sure that you don’t have any pressing family matters that can distract your attention away from your business. Make sure that you are keeping the lines of communication open with your loved ones to resolve any issues before they take a toll on your business.

Your emotional health is just as important, if not more important than your physical health – when it comes to running your business. Your emotional well-being must be attended to and maintained at all times. If your emotions are out of whack or if you are too emotional, you aren’t able to make the rational and reasonable decisions that are needed to run a successful business.

Basically, you need to keep your “stressors” to a minimum to ensure a productive business. For example, if you have a particularly stressing day, you need to look for ways to combat that stress. Take a long walk, take a hot, relaxing bubble bath, or go to the movies. The key is to find an activity that will help put you in the right frame of mind.

You can’t forget that the health of your mind is intricately linked to your business. There is no doubt about this. If you want positive business health, you want to make sure that your mind is clear and not littered with negative thoughts. You want to ensure that your mind is focused on your business as much as possible. To achieve and maintain a clear and healthy mind, you might want to focus on activities and items such as quiet breaks, meditation and green tea. You want to avoid too much caffeine, which can leave your mind racing.

Finally, a business is only successful as its people. Once you’ve assembled the right cast of people, you need to work on connecting with them and maintaining healthy, lasting relationships with staff.

A business won’t go anywhere if there’s too much friction or discourse. Get to know your workers. Find out what their interests are, their family life, anything that helps you connect with them. Return the favour. Allow your workers to get to know you. Once you all feel connected to one another, you will be surprised at how much easier it is to work together and get along since you all know each other on a personal level.

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The phone lines will be gone!

The NBN has been a buzz word for quite some time now and most of us are really just coasting along with it, not aware of what the outcomes will be in the next 10 to 15 years.

It has been rolling out for the past 3 to 5 years and is becoming more and more established in many areas around the country – you can have a look at that roll out, seeing how much has been done and how much is happening in the near future. NBN SO FAR.

One of the things we need to take in pretty seriously is that the existing copper phone network WILL be gone. Once the NBN is established in a particular area, the existing copper lines will be taken out. There will be no copper lines and we will have to set up our phones over the NBN at that point. It isn’t the case of choosing not to go with the NBN! No, we will be forced to take up the NBN if we want to maintain a phone line – business and home.

An article written by NBN Co, the company set up by the government to administer the implementation throughout Australia – Did you know that our copper network is being switched off?

It is a positive thing. It is the way we need to go to keep up with the world of telecommunications. If we are to keep up with the world then we need to allow this change and embrace it in my view. This new network will accomodate a quality phone service as well as dramatically enhance our internet speeds and efficiency.

One of the benefits I see is that the monopoly of phone companies in Australia will be greatly lessened. If we want a fixed line currently we really only have 2 solutions- Telstra and Optus. And really we only have one carrier that has the infrastructure, namely Telstra.

With the advent of the NBN, this increases dramatically – there will be a host of companies with wholesale relationships with NBN Co and therefore a host of choices for the consumer when it comes to setting up the phone lines (over the internet or NBN). Competition increases and thus pricing will reduce. It is a great story for the end consumer, both for the price of the service and the enhancement of the service itself.

So mark my word – you will not be able to stay on the fence! The phone lines as you know it WILL be gone and you will have to keep up with the trends. Once the NBN has been established in your neighbourhood, you will need to get on board the train and set up the NBN and the phone lines you require.

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Employee V Employer – A view from both sides.

So in my 25 odd years of being in the workforce and business world, I have experienced what it is like to be an employee and an employer. The roles in life are very different from many aspects, financially, emotionally and from a sense of responsibility.

So why do we choose to be an employee?

Well I guess there are two main reasons;
- we are that character of person who wants the security of being an employee or,
- we are made to choose by our financial situation.

As an employee, I remember knowing that I had security and that my employer took the financial risk. Of course, if push came to shove, I would be let go to ensure financial longevity for the business owner, but generally I knew that I could move to another situation to accommodate my needs. There was no risk to me other then the slight stress of having to search for another job.

At early time in my life of course, I wanted to experience money and the quick way to do that, was to get into the workforce and get a salary. I didn’t have the time (well emotionally anyway) or nouse to plan and implement a business. I wanted the car, I wanted the lifestyle etc etc.

But the same is the case for later years also. I didn’t actually decide to build a business and go for “freedom” (I will speak more of this later), until I was 35. Up and til then I really didn’t have the financial backing to be able to set up a business. It would have meant taking a big risk and forfeiting alot of lifestyle.

It wasn’t until I had experienced nearly 20 years of being an employee that I then realised that the risk was worth it.

See the downside with being an employee is that you do not have the control of how much you can earn. Your employer has that control because they choose what wage you will be paid. Once you have a business, you an potentially remove that ceiling of income and take back control over how much potential earnings you can achieve. So once I realised this, and life presented a wonderful opportunity, I took the risk, lived on the vegemite sandwiches and pumpkin soup and well, went for it!

Choosing to become an employer.
As I mentioned, it was a case of experiencing one side of the equation over 20 or more years that led me to decide to experience being an employer. I was offered a great opportunity and took it – perhaps the first step that you need to take when looking to make the change. Life will present you the opportunities, it is what we choose to do with them.

The benefits of being an employer;
- freedom, open up your life and lifestyle,
- open up your potential earnings,
- be the regulator not the regulated…

The last point, while a little bit tongue in cheek, I guess the basis of the point is it feels much better to have control of your own destiny. And this point extends to the potential earnings discussion. When I moved to building a company, I knew that I was also moving to controlling my own destiny from an earnings point of view. As an accountant, the potential for was probably a maximum of $80 to $100K salary and this would take a long time to achieve because I was not specialising in any particular area of tax or accounting. If I had specialised say in tax then maybe $150 to $200K but still, it’s a ceiling that I have no control over.

As a business owner, this was completely different. Of course it would take time to build but the potential really is unlimited. The company was and is the hand that feeds me. Nurture and build it and it can feed more, and more. As long as I understood the mechanics of company structure (which I thank my accounting background for), then I can potentially smash that ceiling and pay myself higher incomes.

However, the biggest pull to step into building a business – freedom! It was more the case with the industry and business model that I was able to get into, but I was suddenly opening the ability to have a free lifestyle. I could work from home, from different states in Australia and indeed from anywhere in the world. As long as the internet is good, effectively the Telco model can be run from anywhere.

The freedom to choose times that I worked also. I could choose, if I wanted to, to start work at 11am and work 2 days a week. It was completely up to me because I had that freedom. Of course I didn’t because it was very exciting and (I still do), I really enjoy working in the industry. I also wanted to build security and achieve financial freedom as soon as possible.

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How Do I Choose My 1300 Number?

Hello everyone and a Happy New Year to you all!

One of the most common questions posed to us in my company is how to choose a 1300 number when setting up a new number for a business.

Well, once you have chosen to use a 1300 or 1800 number, there are basically 3 options to deciding which number to use.

Pick a number from the Public Available List.
This is a large list of numbers (usually in excess of 3000 numbers for 1300 and 1800), issued to every telecommunications company in Australia on a regular basis. It is a list given to us by the controlling body in the Australian government that manages “inbound numbers” or 1300 and 1800 numbers. That company is called Industry Number Management Services Pty Ltd (INMS).

The benefit with this list is that numbers are free with respect to a capital cost. A business will simply choose 4 numbers in order of preference and submit them in their application.

The current available list can be found at The Ozetel 1300 numbers page.

Buy a number from the government auction.
If a business wants a number that spells a word or doesn’t find the number they want within the free available list, then they will need to purchase the number from the government auction system called smartnumbers. This will come at a cost in that the public reserve price for auction numbers is $250 and can extend to any price based on the premium nature of the number they are looking at. Of course once they have purchased the number, they own it and it is theirs for ever.

Lease the number from a Phoneword company.
Finally, if the number has already been purchased by someone else, the business owner will be forced to lease that number off the owner. It is a quite a large business in Australia now with Phoneword companies purchasing 100′s of numbers and leasing them back to Australian businesses at a monthly fee, again ranging from $100 a month to 1000′s a month, depending on the number.

That is a brief run down of how a business owner would go about choosing their new 1300 or 1800 number. Getting the number you want is much more difficult then 5 years but following the steps will get you the desired result.

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Business Will Fall, It’s Part Of The Game

Business is a volatile world and it cannot be taken for granted. There is a series of reliances on multiple people, be it customers, staff, suppliers etc etc.

Things that effect those people can inevitably effect us as business owners and that is something we cannot change. We can prepare but we cannot influence the paths chosen and the decisions made by those parties that we interact with and rely on. It is not a reason to shy away from the business world but it is a reason to;

1. Be prepared,
2. Take action to adapt.

It may be that a customer uses your services for a long period of time and build to a certain level that they do not need you anymore. Bypassing you and going to the source is simply an economic decision and one that any business owner would make. It is difficult because the emotion around the loss of client that you depend upon may make you lose the clarity that it is simply business and that this is always going to happen.

Be prepared for these downturns and losses. Make sure that you have in depth knowledge of your cash and what is available to you. If you rely on this client excessively or they are a large part of your turnover then take the time to consider the implications of them leaving. Knowing where the cash is will help this. And this is not on a basis of having the figures in “your head”, you must have it on paper and know the calculations are real and absolute. Consider all possible debt such as BAS commitments, Tax Provisions, Wages until next income receipt, Bad Debts levels etc etc.

An added consideration if this is the type of situation you find your business in is, enjoy the cash flow of this large client, BUT always keep in mind that building a lifestyle or reliance on this income will be a bad idea and create pain if they leave. Build a buffer, use a portion of the profit and don’t get greedy because this is not the client to rely on too heavily. In the end, if they can achieve a large saving in their business, they will not maintain the profits in yours.

Take action to create safety in the event that the bad thing happens. Create marketing strategies to boost the customer base, use part of the buffer you have created to increase sales elsewhere. A part of the focus should be on ensuring that the bread butter for the business are the multitude of small business customers and not one large carrot. Losing 50 small customers out of a database of 1000 would not hurt as much as losing the one big fish so ensure that a strategy is to boost the bait fish and then go for the big one.

Being prepared and informed is the key to making it through the troughs and smack on the chin – and I assure you, the punches will come eventually but you can get through them.

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