How to use technology to preserve your important documents

With easy availability of internet and a plethora of free to use softwares and other net based technologies it is possible and hence highly advisable to preserve your important documents. The other goal is to have them available any time, any where as long as you have access to internet.

Some of the documents which are commonly required are PAN card, Election card, Driving license, Adhaar Card, Insurance Policies, Birth / Death / Domiciliary certificates etc.

The idea is to scan these documents and convert them to either image files or PDF files. These files are then uploaded on free net based cloud services like Google drive or Drop box. Once this is accomplished you can access these documents with an internet connection, download them or print them.

Cloud based services give you free storage space on their servers. The size of free space is between 5 and 7 GB which is more than sufficient to store a whole lot of your documents.

Storing documents on cloud services could pose security issue as theoretically anyone who has access to the cloud gets access to your documents (access to cloud itself is restricted by password protection). To take care of this aspect we add a second layer of  security to our documents. Prior to uploading to cloud, we encrypt our scanned documents with encryption software, again freely available on the web. The encrypted files cannot be accessed without the password which you have assigned to them at the time of creation.

Once this is done your documents will remain in the cloud storage as long as you want and will be available to you 24×7 with an internet connection.

Summary of these simple steps is:

a)  Storing document on cloud
Identify document -> Scan to PDF or image file -> Encrypt the scanned file -> Upload encrypted document to the cloud service.

b) Accessing document on cloud
Open your cloud service account -> open the required document using your password

Some of the free resources available on internet are:

Cloud storage providers:
1) Dropbox – http://www.dropbox.com
2) Google drive – https://tools.google.com/dlpage/drive
Encryption software – Axcrypt download from http://www.axantum.com/axcrypt/

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TV selection….. Simplified.

A few years back a trend started in India, mainly promoted by Korean brands like LG and ImageSamsung to replace then existing CRT based bulky TV sets with slim, less power hungry LCD type TVs. Because of their slim size and lower weight the screen sizes too grew to over 30 inches against the popular size of 21 inches for CRT TVs. Now the market offers vast range of technologies for flat screen TVs so much so it confuses average buyer who is then forced to take his decision based on sales talk and marketing jargons. Recently one of my friends spoke to me on this topic and about his confusion in making a right decision to buy his new TV.

Here is a summary of choices available in market today which may help people like my friend to make informed decision about making their investment in right type of TV technology.

Plasma TV

These offer the best colors and widest viewing angles, and in fast-moving pictures, motion blur or ghosting is almost non-existent. However they consume three times as much power as LED and LCD TVs.  Also repairing such TV can get costly and problematic since they are not very common. Moreover Plasma TVs come in sizes 42 inches and higher, not very much suitable for average Indian viewing room.

Price range – Rs. 55000 to Rs. 3,50,000(approx).

Full LED/True LED/Full-Array LED

The LED TV is basically a LCD TV with LED as the source of illumination.

These are the different commercial terms used by different manufactures to describe LED TVs than have rows and rows (array) of LEDs arranged at the back of the display panel. Compared to edge LED they show consistent brightness throughout the entire display. But the real advantage of full array backlighting comes from the feature called ‘localized dimming’  where individual LEDs or group of LEDs can be dimmed as per picture requirement to provide deeper blacks and much higher contrast ration as against ‘global dimming’ where the entire array brightens or dims together. These technologies however come at a price.

Price range – Rs. 1,50,000 to Rs. 2,50,000(approx)

Edge LED TV

These are LCD TVs that have LED light sources only in the four edges of the display screen. Though inferior to full-array LED TVs in terms of picture quality, they are much sleeker and most power efficient. Edge-lit displays can be prone to minor brightness “hot-spotting,” which results in some non-uniform light intensity on really bright images, or patchy, un-even blacks on dark movies scenes. Still, these drawbacks are minor, and in practical use they’re seldom noticeable. However if looks are not the prime decision maker for you, then their picture quality is not enough to  warrant the additional monies they demand.

Price range –  Rs. 25000 to Rs. 1,50,000(approx).

LCD TV

These are the cheapest flat-panel television sets you will find in the market. They have fluorescent lamp as their illuminating source. They consume a little more power than LED based TVs and are prone to ghosting especially while watching sports or playing games.

Price range – Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 70,000(approx)

Other TV technologies

Full HD and HD

HD stands for ‘high definition’ which in turn means the ability of the TV to display a sharp picture with fine details. While full HD is definitely superior, the question is whether you will need it or even notice the difference.

For most viewers, HD (or 720p) is perfect if all they watch revolves around serials and sport or watch movies on DVD players. But if you are a gamer or plan to buy Playstation3 or Xbox360 in future you must have full HD (1080p or1080i). Also it is required to watch full HD movies.

Smart TV

A smart TV is one that can be connected to the Internet to access content like streaming video, music, and entertainment apps. They have built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, which let you access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or browse the Web on your big screen. However it can be hard to navigate with the regular remote controller. Basically Smart TVs aren’t good enough to be your primary PC yet. Also be aware that  some devices have only Ethernet port and no wireless capabilities.

3D TV

There are two variant of 3D TVs: Active 3D and Passive 3D. Active TV is better of the two and it is usually recommended for videophiles and gamers due to lack of motion blur. On the other hand this technology is rather expensive and requires viewing glasses that use batteries. If you are going to watch sports or movies in large groups, passive 3D TVs are better because the glasses are lighter, they require no batteries and are definitely cheaper. It should also be noted that 3D TVs are not recommended for those who suffer from chronic migraines, epilepsy, eye disorders or even pregnant women.

OLED TV and Ultra HD TV

These technologies provide far better picture quality but are still under development stage. There still issues like low life and high cost of OLED display, super high cost of UHD technology are still to be resolved.

Lastly a quick guide on selection:

  • Size – A simple formula to calculate the right TV size for your room. Measure the distance your usual watching position to the TV location and devide it by 2.  That is good size to go with. So if you sit 5 feet away from your TV, then a 30 inch is a good TV size. Of course a few inches either way is not going to be much of a difference. If a slightly bigger TV is going to fit in your budget, go for it.
  • Plasmas tend to look best for darkened, theater-like rooms; LCD displays perform better in bright rooms.
  • When it comes to energy efficiency, LCD TVs (and particularly LED-lit LCD TVs) typically outperform plasmas.
  • Full-array backlit LED TVs use local dimming to achieve better contrast levels and have very good picture quality, but usually come in at the top of the price range.
  • Edge-lit LED TVs have thinnest form factor possible, but don’t look quite as good as full-array models.
  • Plasma displays don’t get any smaller than 42 inches, LCD TVs are available in almost any size.
  • There is hardly any noticeable difference in picture quality of edge LED and LCD TVs
  • There is no noticable difference in picture quality of DVD movies and digitally broadcasted content viewed in HD (720p) and full HD (1080) modes.

Cloud Computing and it’s implications on IT careers

Cloud computing models are changing the way organizations procure and manage their IT services and at the same cloudtime expect to bring in deep changes in IT careers.

More and more public sector bodies and private enterprises are gyrating towards cloud based technologies as they mature and some of the main objections to cloud adaptation are addressed.

Drivers to move to the cloud are same for all – to eliminate wasteful IT spending and deliver innovative services beneficial to clients. Lower costs of managing cloud is attracting more and more SMEs to cloud based solutions.

Cloud will fundamentally change the way systems and services are procured and managed. This is the most relevant issue for the future of IT recruitment and employment because it involves radical shift of in-house technological skills, away from development towards integration and procurement of external services. As current mundane operations like data center cooling, security and maintenance of physical servers become less relevant, IT departments of the future will be required to understand how technical and software solutions  can be applied to streamline the process of the organization and expect to see their job roles change accordingly. In short, future IT personnel will no longer be the ‘geek’ category but will need to have much more domain knowledge about their industry. Purely software development and maintenance skills may become redundant to the industry and even for the cloud as some of the skills required are very different within the cloud.

Another new area to open up is in certification side as the new cloud based enterprises will be required to certify themselves to specific security norms. At present the most basic level of security confirms roughly to ISO27001 specification.

Though the idea that the cloud reduces the need for high-level IT skills for customers is false, it definitely means retraining in different kind of skill mostly in the area of certification, integration and procurement.

The decisive shift to cloud may be 2/3 years away thus it gives sufficient time for our future IT professionals to identify and get relevant skills to operate in cloud environment.

This article is based on article in ‘Engineering & Technology’ March 2013 issue and other resources from the web.

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