How To Make The Modern Day Office Work For You

Computer desktop workspace setup

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As businesses strive to keep up with technology, they’re allowing more and more flexibility in how an employee works. And thanks to developments in technology and the internet, the modern day office now comes in all different kinds of shapes and sizes.

Naturally, one office space is never as effective as another. Each one generates a different atmosphere and environment that directly affects how you work. Fortunately, there are many ways to optimize your workspace no matter where it is.

We decided to take a look at 3 common types of the modern day office with a few basic tips on how you can improve your productivity at each one.

Personalize And Fine-Tune Your Desk

This standard office space is slowly being traded in for alternative working methods. It’s no mystery that your environment has a direct impact on your well-being. In most cases, we’re used to sitting an average of up to 8 hours in front of the desktop, which can take a toll on your health. From incorrect body posture and eye strain to carpel tunnel syndrome and back aches, the computer desk can be full of health risks over the long run.

Ergonomic office desk setup

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But, you can improve them. While your office space might not be able to equal those of Google’s,  whose creative workspaces are geared to keeping their staff inspired, you can still try to get it suited to your own comfort level.  Try changing and practicing a few small things to improve your overall productivity like:

Create A Distraction Free Home Office

This is usually the office space for freelancers, outsourced or online workers, work at home moms, pro bloggers, and employees who live too far to commute. This type of office comes with great benefits. You save on gas, traveling time, money spent on lunch, and you can easily fit in personal appointments or schedule home deliveries.

Unfortunately, a ton of distractions exist. Working from the comfort of your own home doesn’t give you the same busy feeling of a productive business office.  Instead, you have easy access to your entertainment system, a cozy bed, and your spacious backyard.

Home office computer station

Image Credit: Nico Kaiser

How do you keep your worker hat on? For starters, try to:

  • separate your work area from your relaxation areas  like your living room or bedroom
  • work in a place where you’ll be the least distracted
  • set up times for taking breaks around the house and follow them
  • keep the TV and other entertainment units off
  • set up your workstation just as you would have it set up in a regular office
  • keep your desk minimalistic and neat

Get A Tailored Set Up For Your Mobile Device

In a post-PC world that’s focused on mobile gadgets, the concept of the “mobile office” is now more widely accepted. Many companies in fact are turning to a mobile workforce, which makes sense as it saves time, increases productivity and reduces overhead costs. And you can get your work done from wherever you are.

Mobile smartphone keyboard

Image Credit: Johan Larsson

Despite this, working on a mobile device does have some drawbacks. You’re restricted to a small screen size, a touch-screen keyboard, and limited hardware resources.  Under those conditions, you need to find the right set up and the perfect balance to working effectively on a single device.

As a mobile worker, consider a few adjustments like:

  • getting a separate keyboard for your device
  • using a device with an adequate screen size
  • working on your device to get the small things done
  • getting mobile versions of desktop tools you use daily, like PDF converter apps and word processors
  • backing up your work and data to one central location (desktop, online or removable storage)

There are a dozen of little tweaks you can make to keep your productivity levels up.  These are just a few. So start taking careful stock of your workspace and figure out if your current set up is helping or hindering your work.

Back-To-School Tech Advice: 6 Things Every College Student Should Consider

Studying with Technology

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The end of summer is near, and that means students will be heading back into the classroom in a couple of weeks. That being said, it’s time to sit down and think forward about the upcoming school year.

On top of the back-to-school shopping list and registration chaos, it’s a good time to start thinking about how technology will factor into your daily routine.  We’re talking about the nitty-gritty routine spent on studying, researching, writing, and sitting in class.

So in case you haven’t thought about it yet, we’ve hammered out some basic tech advice on 6 things you should consider.

Map Out Personal Tech Support Resources

No matter how well you know your tech tools, there will always be a random issue you can’t fix in a hurry. Knowing where you can go for help is key. There’s only so much Google can do for you with 10 million results.

Do yourself a favour and get your resources mapped out ahead of time.  Scout out, follow, and bookmark a good range of How-To sites, forums, and even basic support pages for your device.  A few that will help get you started: How-To Geek, GoogleGuru,  MS Office supportTech tips and resource lists on Twitter,, Asian Efficiency,

Find Textbooks  Online 

When it comes to textbooks go digital wherever possible.  Digital textbooks can be significantly cheaper than original hardcopy or photocopied versions, and you won’t have to lug around heavy volumes.

As a starting point, sites like Project Gutenberg offer a vast selection of books in a variety of formats. You can also take advantage of Google’s latest textbook rental and purchasing offer from Google Play Books.  There’s also the iBooks app, whose iBookstore offers text books from notable publishers, such as McGraw-Hill and Pearson.

Flatworld Knowledge Online Textbooks

If those don’t pan out, you can check out FlatWorldKnowledge, an online catalog of textbooks where you can personalize textbook content according to your needs.

Shop Around For Free Software

You’re used to hearing of big name software applications like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop that are above your price range.  But you can just as easily get free software that offers the same functionality as other paid programs.

Search for open source software alternatives. There are a ton of free tools out there. You can also find apps for your device like productivity suites, note takers, and mobile converter apps.  In addition, desktop suites like OpenOffice and LibreOffice are great alternatives to Microsoft Office you can get for free.

Organize Your Gadgets & Devices By Task 

Mobile Devices

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If you have more than one device, you should try getting them organized according to task.  You may think this is counter-productive, but different sizes, apps and OSes can actually make working on multiple gadgets inconvenient.

Think about how you’ll be dealing with your school work this year.  Will you be typing up your papers on a laptop in a coffee shop? Does research work better for you on a desktop? Or will you be on a tablet for on-the-go convenience? You get the idea.

Some devices are more practical than others for certain tasks.  Figure out your studying habits and get a gadget strategy and workflow in place.

Adopt Different Study Habits For Online Classes

Some of your courses may be offered online or have an online bulletin board component set.  Keep in mind that online learning environments have different dynamics and hence, need a different approach.

Tip? For starters, keep focused.  It’s all too easy to get distracted with opened browsers, the comfort of your own room, and online networks. Moreover, we’re all used to scanning stuff online.  So when it comes to in-depth reading, you’ll need to really shift gears once you log in. Remember that a lot of it is about independent learning.

Also, timeliness is a big factor that can possibly affect your grades. You want to be one of the first ones to submit a discussion response. Remember there are others who can possibly cover the same points you want to make. Don’t let them steal your thunder by posting it up first. In short, constantly scout out other minor adjustments you can make to your studying habits.

Always Have A Back Up Plan

Google Docs Revision History

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All too often does a program crash on us in the middle of a paragraph, a USB gets lost, or we quickly close that 1,500 word paper without saving. But a few things can help prevent that.

Create a copy of your papers every few drafts to different storage media. Use cloud storage services like Dropbox to save a copy of your last draft.

Or conversely, create your original copy online with Google Docs. It will save your changes automatically. In addition, it will create a back up of the file’s revision history. Let’s not forget that you can always send a draft to yourself as an attachment!

Once the year starts, a solid routine will be the only thing keeping you on top of things. So make sure you plan out your tech strategy well!


Exploring PDF Conversion On the Enterprise Level: Absolute PDF Server 3.0

Absolute PDF Server

We talk a lot about productivity and PDF conversion on the desktop, mobile, and cloud platforms. However, we never really covered the server platform where PDF conversion and productivity can occur at an even higher, much larger scale: the enterprise level.

At that level, the key point for companies is to manage resources, data and processes across the entire organization. Because it can be expensive and inefficient to have individual PDF applications for each employee, organizations typically turn to enterprise software as a solution.

What is Enterprise Software?

Enterprise software is different from what you’d normally experience from a program you buy, download, and use on your own personal computer. Enterprise software solutions are capable of catering to a large amount of users over a network, and are usually handled on the company’s backend servers.

Unlimited Users and ConversionsEnterprise software applications usually handle business-  or data- oriented tasks, such as info management, billing and accounting, order processing, and database management. Enterprise software is developed and offered  by companies like Oracle, Sage, Microsoft, and IBM.

Moreover, enterprise workflows can differ and range from businesses and governments to schools and financial institutions. Naturally, each sector and organization has different needs. Thus,  managers have to ensure that the enterprise software they choose works for their employees, the company’s IT system, and existing workflows.

Exploring An Organization’s Needs

In most cases, organizations can customize their enterprise software solutions “a la carte” according to their software strategy. Oftentimes, companies choose to use enterprise level software for tasks performed on a regular basis by the majority of its employees. Organization-wide solutions can offer workflows that are extremely effective at speeding up and controlling the task at hand.

PDF Document Conversion For The Enterprise: Absolute PDF Server 3.0

With PDF conversion, for instance, your IT managers can effectively automate a high volume of file conversions in one standardized framework. All they need is Absolute PDF Server.

Absolute PDF Server 3.0 is the first enterprise-level document management solution to offer both PDF extraction and creation.  It gives organizations the ability to perform both functionalities in one streamlined process.

Absolute PDF Server integrates technology from our Able2Extract PDF Server  (used to convert PDF files into several other formats) and Sonic PDF Server (used to convert different file formats into PDF file format). As a result, you get quick PDF conversion to multiple formats and a tailored PDF creation process in one single location.

How Absolute PDF Server Works

How Absolute PDF Server Works

How the process works depends on how your administrator sets it up. Essentially, you will either be able to email their document to a specified email address for conversion, or you can simply place your file into a watched folder (organized based on input format) which is monitored by Absolute PDF Server. In both cases, Absolute PDF Server will convert the files emailed or found within the folder, and the converted files will be sent back to you.

Converting via Absolute PDF Server Interface

You get your file properly converted while your IT administrators get full control over the process. They can manage, configure, and process the conversion queue from one user interface, ensuring that the conversion jobs are completed.

What Does Absolute PDF Server Have To Offer?

Although Absolute PDF Server is geared towards high volume conversion jobs for an entire company, it can still cater to individual conversion needs with the following features:

  • Convert and Create PDFs: Convert all native and scanned PDFs into MS Word, MS Excel and more; Create PDF from any printable Windows application
  • Customize PDF Creation: Brand your PDFs with watermarks;  Manage fonts and colors; Combine multiple PDFs, split or join them.
  • Secure your PDFs: Set passwords, editing and printing permissions and choose from 40 or 128 bit encryption levels.
  • Schedule PDF Tasks: The server can be set to operate at specific times and dates. Files can be processed in middle of the night if desired.
  • Set Up Monitored Folders/Sub Folders: Automate PDF creation by specifying a folder for placing input files.
  • Email Integration: Converted files are processed and the result is emailed back to the sender.
  • Job Ticket Creation:  The Job Ticket Editor is used for specifying PDF creation and extraction settings.

Given the features above, using Absolute PDF Server naturally comes with a few fringe benefits:

  • Increases Productivity. Improve the enterprise’s productivity and efficiency by managing processes on the backend.
  • Creates A Standardized System.  IT Administrators can schedule, monitor, and keep track of tasks from one location. Document management is streamlined organization wide.
  • Unlimited Number of Users & Conversions.  That’s right, unlimited. This means multiple users can convert as many files as they need, when they need.
  • Cost Effective.  Absolute PDF Server is sold on a  per license, per server basis. No individual licenses or subscriptions required. There are no extra modules or add-ins to buy later on.

So is enterprise-level PDF conversion right for your company? Find out.  Get your IT manager to test out Absolute PDF Server’s  features before taking the plunge! We offer a free 30-day trial for organizations.

For more details, check out our Absolute PDF Server brochure, or contact our support team directly. 


How To Work More Efficiently On Your Desktop With 4 Simple Tips

Computer Desktop with Shortcuts

Image Credit: Anders Sandberg

We all spend a good part of our time on the computer, and as paperless workers, we’re conditioned to find the fastest way to get things done. But are we ever working as effectively as we could? Probably not.

And it’s not because we don’t try. It’s just that we often overlook the most common place where we can tweak our routines to make them even more efficient. It’s the one place where we all start from: the desktop.

With a few simple changes and customizations, you can eliminate the seconds you spend on extra desktop clicks, searches, and toggling.  Take a look.

Audit Your Shortcuts

First thing to deal with is icon clutter. Everyone suffers from it. It’s easy to rack up stray shortcuts over time via software installations and quick saves to the desktop. If there are ones that you don’t need on a regular basis, delete them. Shortcuts are only good for tasks or software you access on a daily or weekly basis.

Desktop Shortcut Icons

Image Credit: jeanbaptisteparis

Second, consider the type of shortcuts you create. Ones that help you perform repetitive tasks are the most efficient.  Consider email reports you send on a daily basis. If they all contain the same formatting and the same outline, create a template for it and then generate a desktop shortcut to quickly call it up (right-click on the template file and select “Create Shortcut”). A desktop trick like that can shave minutes off your routine.

Organize Your Desktop(s)

Dexpot Virtual Desktop Thumbnails

Did you know that you don’t have to stick to just one desktop? Dexpot is a handy tool that will let you set up multiple virtual desktops. It’s perfect for anyone working on more than one project at a time. Each desktop is kept separate, but easily accessible via hotkeys, thumbnails and across different monitors, as well.

Fences Video Demo

You should also consider putting your desktop real estate to good use. Categorize and organize your icons. Tools like Fences and Nimi Places keep your desktop shortcuts organized into different zones for quick access.  Both tools come with customization features like filtering options that can keep your work area in order at all times.

Or you can take things up a notch by cleaning up your desktop completely.  RocketDock can give you a minimalistic work area by keeping all your favourite shortcuts, folders, and applications in one neat and tidy dock you can easily access when you need it.

Customizing WindowsTaskbar

Then there’s your Taskbar. You can adjust and customize it through the Control Panel. Auto-hide it, group similar buttons together, or show window preview thumbnails. Make it work with your everyday tasks. For example, if you take a lot of tutorial screenshots, you may want to auto-hide the taskbar completely so you don’t have to crop it out later on.

Customize Your Desktop Wallpaper

A desktop can also be effective in other ways.  Starting on a new task? Create a flow chart or cheatsheet reference image of the process and set it as your wallpaper. Or download a motivational image for those times when you need an extra push. Your desktop can be more than just a dumping ground for shortcuts and files.

Make Programs Instantly Accessible

Having quick access to programs is a necessity. While the desktop allows you to avoid the hitting Start menu button, you can get even more efficient with a desktop app like Launchy. Like its name suggests, it will let you launch applications from it just like you would with the Start button, but it can also launch documents, files, bookmarks, folders and more.
Chrome App Launcher

You can launch your daily web browser apps right from the desktop. Browser apps usually require an opened browser to access them. However, a tool like Chrome App Launcher, will not only let you access Internet based Chrome web apps directly, it will also let you access packaged Chrome apps that “run as separate, standalone software that can also be used offline, unlike traditional browsers,” according to PCWorld’s review.

It may seem like an insignificant thing to reorganize your desktop. You may even think that small details like desktop shortcuts won’t matter. But it’s the little things that add up. So keep your desktop in order. It can either make or break your productivity!


6 Handy Google Tools For Travelers

Google Travel Logo

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Summer. A perfect time for traveling. With summer well underway, there’s still time get your annual vacation in.

Thinking about relaxing on a beach somewhere? Sightseeing for hours on end? Who wouldn’t?  But before that can happen, you’ll need to put in a little leg work and get your traveling plans together.

Whether it’s a trip for work or a trip for pleasure, the research process is always a major hurdle. What’s the most direct flight? Are accommodations affordable? What’s on the itinerary? Thanks to Google, you can figure those questions out and thoroughly research your trip.

You may not even know it, but Google already offers a handful of efficient search tools that can dig up the travel information you’re looking for. And with the help of a few common apps, Google can keep your trip running smoothly.

1. Google Maps

This popular Google tool is first on the list for a few good reasons. The first thing anyone does when planning a vacation, is to look up where they want to go on Google Maps. Type in a city name and Google will give you a good starting view of the place.

 Google Street View Collection

From there, Google Street View can give you up close and personal look at the city or attraction you’re interested in.  On a side note, having this app on your smartphone is a good idea. While you’re out and about, the app can help you find your way around the city and, moreover, will let you contribute your own photos to their Street View Collections on the main site.

While still in Google Maps, you may also want to plan how you’ll be getting from place to place within the city. You can easily look up the best routes via driving, biking, transit or walking with Google Transit. Once you have a list of places to visit, simply enter your destination and starting points and click on “Get Directions.”

2. Google Explore Flights

While this tool may not replace a travel agency completely, Google Explore Flights is a good place to start narrowing down your search for the best flight. Just type in your destination, trip date, price range, and it will give you quick results on what options are available.

3. Google Calendar

Who doesn’t use Google Calendar? This is a great tool to schedule your trip, keep your itinerary running on time, and more. Plan your trip day by day, set up alerts, and organize your time efficiently. A tip? Share your calendar with everyone else on your trip. So even if you’re all off exploring on your own, everyone is still in sync and on the same page.

4. Google TripsTravel Mobile App

Image Source: Google Trips

If you are looking the way to plan and organize your trip, Google Trips is the tool for you. It’s now easier than ever since it automatically maps various suggestions for you to see and do. Also, you can customize everything by tapping the “magic wand” since each tap of the wand gives you a fresh set of nearby attractions. The app shows you tons of new cool things, so you can find your next destination quicker. The app is available offline so your info will be available wherever you go.

5. Google Translate Mobile

Exploring a different country and don’t speak the language? Google Translate can act as your personal translator (also available for iOS). It has the ability to translate over 50 languages, whether typed, via voice input or an image of words captured by camera. You can hear translations aloud and switch into full screen mode for others to read easily. Learn a few phrases in advance or right on the spot—the app will help you break through the language barrier.

6. Google Keep

Using Google Keep App

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For the bloggers and social networkers out there, Google Keep will be a must-have tool. The app can document and keep track of everything on your trip. You can add voice note reactions, save pictures on the spot, quickly jot down thoughts, or create and check off items on your “things-to-do/see” list. The app will keep a running log and updated resource of material on your Google Drive for blog posts or Facebook albums you’re looking to create.

Any we missed? Tell us how you use Google to plan out your trips!