Stories by Zack Stern

Process credit cards anywhere: Five smartphone tools

Whether you work as an in-home massage therapist, operate a taco truck, or run some other small business, you're missing sales if you can't process credit cards. However, a number of mobile payment tools now let you accept credit cards on an iPhone, an Android handset, a Windows Phone, or a dumber handset. You just need to sign up, attach credit card reader hardware, and navigate the fees.

How to take screenshots on an Android phone

You're probably used to pressing PrintScreen (Windows) or Command-Shift-3 (Mac OS X) to capture occasional computer screenshots. But the operation is not so easy on an Android phone. What if you want to taunt a friend with proof of an online game victory, record a strange error message, teach a relative how to perform a task, or capture an image for your blog? You can still do it, but you'll have to walk through a few more steps.

Samsung Q430 cuts corners, still feels nimble

The Samsung Q430 has the specs required to zip through work and play. Aside from those internal components, parts of the laptop feel like Samsung isn't trying very hard; a dull display, pointless and annoying software extras, and a few cut corners hold the Q430 back from excellence. Even with this missed potential, the underlying performance makes the laptop worth considering for general-use, mid-range buyers.

How to clean a dusty PC

If your desktop PC's case gets dirty as time goes by, grime can clog the fans that keep internal parts cool. If airflow is blocked, those parts could overheat.

10 great ways to get more from your iPad

The iPad is loaded with all kinds of features you've probably heard about, but look a little deeper, and its extra abilities might surprise you. Some of these secrets are enabled through apps, while some are built into the device already.

Work smarter with online collaboration tools

Budget constraints and limited technical support make it critical for most small and medium-size companies to work as efficiently as possible. An important first step in getting more and better work from relatively few people is to enable them to work together in real time, no matter how distant they actually may be.

Fact or fiction? 8 HDTV myths demystified

If you're buying your first HDTV or an upgrade from a starter set, your new television may deliver a better picture than the one you're used to. But picking the right HDTV can be confusing, especially when your favorite blue-shirted salesperson may be steering you in a certain direction in hopes of a bigger commission.

Set up your home network, Windows 7 edition

With Windows 7, you can more easily share files and printers across a network via the new HomeGroups feature. HomeGroups lets you connect to files and printers with a group password - if all the PCs have Windows 7. But I'll show you how to get your Windows 7 PC to play nicely on a network that also has Macs and XP/Vista PCs.

Free online invoicing tool boosts productivity

Invoice management is crucial for any business. But especially if you're just starting out, you might be tempted to save a few dollars on an invoicing application by submitting bills as Word docs or other text files. Don't waste your time trying to invent your own payment system. A free, server-based tool could be all you need.

E-mail campaign services can save costs

You could spend a lot of time creating e-mail newsletters and promotions, only to take even longer trying to manage lists and send everything out. Forget trying to send to Outlook groups; spend a little extra, and go with an e-mail campaign service. You'll make up the difference in your labor costs and valuable tracking results that can hone your next mailing.

Automated tool tracks business hardware and software

If you can lovingly call your small- or medium-sized business IT department "scrappy"--maybe you're both company president and network administrator--the right tools can make the most of your resources. Inventory auditing software can keep track of company hardware and software without taking your time from other tasks. You'll be able to keep track of assets, plus you'll gain valuable troubleshooting clues, such as an always-current list of software version numbers.

Smartphone tool improves IT response time

Medium-sized business IT support can be critical. When your website, network, or employee PCs are down, you're wasting money. If your IT staff is away at these tense moments--especially off-hours--it might take extra time for them to get in front of a PC to fix the issues. Instead, mobile administration software lets your IT staff manage infrastructure anywhere from a smartphone.

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