What’s the most frightening scenario for healthcare providers?

September 4, 2013

It’s the realization a HIPAA data breach could happen to them.

On September 4 of this year, the Chicago Tribune reported the second largest HIPAA data breach since the rule was enacted. The incident included the compromise of four million patient records; penalties for HIPAA violations are likely to make the consequences for this provider substantial.

Four million patient records, all compromised by the theft of four computers. Think it can’t happen to your practice?

HIPAA (the Health Information Portability and Accountablity Act) is intended to protect the private healthcare information of health consumers. For consumers, HIPAA and HITECH provide needed protection, because we want our health information to remain private and we want to control who has access to that information.

For healthcare providers and companies that provide services to them – such as lab services or IT companies – the penalties for failure to protect private health information, or PHI, can be severe. When HIPAA was first enacted in 1996, the maximum penalty for a HIPAA violation was $250,000. When the HITECH Act went into effect in 2010, the maximum penalty was changed to $1.5 million. As a result, healthcare providers take their obligations under HIPAA very seriously.

But HIPAA rules don’t apply only to healthcare providers, such as clinics and hospitals; these regulations also apply to businesses that provide services to healthcare providers. These supporting companies are called “Business Associates” and include medical billing companies, document disposal and management companies, and IT firms, to name only a few. Business Associates may have access to PHI in the normal course of their duties, and are required by federal law to protect health information.

At SPINEN, it is our privilege to serve healthcare providers throughout Georgia. For us, “HIPAA” is not a frightening word; it is an important protection for health consumers and a responsibility we take seriously.

How seriously? Every SPINEN employee is HIPAA certified, from the CEO to the Office Manager.

HIPAA certification is not required by law. SPINEN carries $2M in E&O/liability insurance with Lloyd’s of London. So why bother with certification?

Even though it is primarily our computer and network technicians who may be exposed to PHI in the course of their duties, we believe it is important for every employee to be cognizant of HIPAA regulations. And though we are properly insured, insurance is reactive, and we pride ourselves on being proactive.

Being proactive means discovering the fixing issues before they become problems. It’s why our web design team spends so much time with clients learning about their business goals. It’s why our infrastructure team uses software that constantly monitors and can even self-heal some network and computer problems. And it’s why we are all HIPAA certified … it’s a commitment to excellence, for our clients.

Want to know more about SPINEN services? Give us a call.

To learn more about HIPAA, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Health Information Privacy website.

Are You the Five-Star Systems Administrator We’re Looking For?

August 20, 2013

If you believe customer service is about meeting and exceeding the client’s expectations—and if you possess top-level skills in Windows Server Administration, you might be the person we want to hire.

We’re looking for a Systems Administrator who is a self-starter and who understands the phrase “world-class service.” That means someone with 3-5 years experience who knows how to ask a customer to define his or her needs and objectives, then deliver or re-align those expectations when it’s warranted. We need a team player who has razor-sharp trouble-shooting skills and who is detail oriented to a fault. Our ideal fit is someone who can juggle on-fire priorities and multiple deadlines every day in a fueled-by-rockets-fast work environment.

And, fair warning: We’re picky about our people. Spinen is committed to hiring and training professional and supportive staff who take extreme pride in their work, and you must be able to play well with others. Our environment is high-adrenaline but our team is tight-knit. A great attitude counts for a lot here—and, “here” by the way, is Macon, Georgia. So be prepared to work and live amongst your colleagues.

Here’s the skill set we seek:

  • Expert skills in Windows XP/7 and desktop administration.
  • Strong skills in designing, implementing and maintaining Windows Server 2008 R2, including Active Directory, IIS, DNS, DHCP and Group Policy.
  • Experience with Terminal Services, VMware and LAN/WAN components
  • Scripting/automation experience.
  • 3+ years of experience as a Server Administrator role for a company focusing on IT support for SMB (5-250 user networks).

You will be asked to:

  • Design and implement new deployments.
  • Monitor, maintain and troubleshoot existing client’s network infrastructures both remotely and onsite.
  • Provide complete documentation in company help desk system including problem issue, diagnosis and resolution.
  • Assist support team as needed for pre-configuration and onsite deployment of new computer systems.
  • Participate in a 24×7 on call rotation to support clients with after-hours contracts and emergencies.

In return, we can offer you:

  • Salary that is commensurate with your experience.
  • Full-coverage health and vision insurance.
  • A company-paid smartphone.
  • Expense/travel reimbursement.
  • Paid time-off for vacation and personal days.
  • This coffee mug.

Interested? Email your resume and cover letter to this guy (he’s the CEO, and a Laravel 4 fanatic, by the way), or send your info to this guy (he’s the HR director, CFO, and a Crimson Tide fan).

The Latest Web Site News: Good(ie)s & Services

April 20, 2012

There are so many Web sites we are proud of, it’s hard to choose favorites. But here is a small sampling of of some of the Web goodness we’ve been weaving lately:

Striplings General Store – Striplings is no secret to many Georgians – it’s the place to get some of the best sausage, jams & jellies, and other goodies this side of the Mason-Dixon! When they needed to update the look of their site and upgrade the capabilities of the online store, Striplings turned to SPINEN to make it happen. Our design and programming teams made sure the shopping experience is user-friendly and the design is as inviting as a visit to Striplings General Store.

Altera Payroll – Altera Payroll is a premier provider of payroll, human resources, and other services that help businesses run smoothly. When the time came to update their Web site, they asked SPINEN for a design that is as unique as Altera itself. SPINEN’s design team created a bright, bold, “retro” design that provides visual impact and brand recognition. We carried the design over into printed marketing materials to provide a consistent corporate identity in both electronic and print media.

Overhead Door Company of Macon – Overhead Doors of Macon has long been known as the place to go for garage and warehouse doors for residential and commercial uses. When the time came to create a Web site, OHD of Macon turned to SPINEN. The challenge was not only to provide a stylish showcase for OHD products, but also to comply with the standards for franchisees mandated by the Overhead Door corporation. We worked with the corporate office to make sure the new Web site met all corporate requirements as well as providing an engaging online “showroom” for Web visitors.

Managing costs with managed services

April 5, 2012

It’s not news that technology has become more and more important to businesses of all types. Seeing a construction supervisor with a tablet PC or iPad is no more surprising than seeing one in the hands of your family doctor.

With our increasing dependence on technology in business, the cost of maintaining computers, networks and phone systems has also increased – and trying to manage these costs can sometimes be a bumpy ride.

Here’s an example we’ve seen all too often: a business purchases computer and network equipment, has it professionally installed, and things are just ducky for the first year or two. There are, in fact, so few problems that little cost is associated with maintining the technology infrastructure.

Then the unexpected happens – a component fails in a critical server, bringing operations to a crashing halt. Is the server still under warranty? Are there up-to-date backups? How long will the network be down? A catastrophic event like this can blow up your technology budget very quickly.

To avoid this scenario, many of SPINEN’s clients take advantage of our maintenance and monitoring services.

When you think of managed services, you may think “Oh, that means for a flat monthly fee I can call a technician to fix my PC when it breaks.” That’s only a small part of the picture.

Managed services and monitoring is not just about being reactive – that is, fixing problems when they occur. It is about being proactive and actually identifying and eliminating potential problems before they become major problems, or in some cases before they even happen.

We not only provide regular maintenance for your technology infrastructure, we can deploy automated solutions that check key network components such as servers, PCs, phone systems, and network devices daily to ensure your business technology is operating reliably.

What are the advantages of managed services and network monitoring?

  • Normalize your technology budget: flat monthly fees based make budgeting simple
  • Increase reliability: Automated 24/7/365 monitoring helps identify potential problems before something goes wrong
  • One vendor to call: SPINEN tracks your warranties, and works with third-party vendors (specialty software vendors, Internet service providers, etc.)
  • Fast response: Many needs can be solved in minutes via remote connection; when you need a technician on-site, business week and 24/7 options are available
  • Scalable: Managed services can grow with your business

Give us a call today to find out more about the advantages SPINEN managed services can offer you!

Want your own cloud?

April 2, 2012

You’re a heart center with clinics in multiple locations. Thousands of patients and their families depend on your services. Phone and network services are critical – outages are not an option. When your satellite locations depend upon access to data and telephone services on equipment in your main office, one guy with a backhoe can ruin your whole day. How do you plan your technology infrastructure to maximize efficiency and minimize interruptions to critical services?

You head for the clouds … or more specifically, you have SPINEN create your own private cloud.

When we designed and depoyed the network for this central Georgia medical provider, we placed critical equipment, includiing data and medical records servers as well as the telephone system in a secure colocation facility rather than in the main office. This provides secure “from-anywhere” access to critical data and phone services, minimizing the effects of catastrophic events such as weather damage or Internet access interruptions.

Because this is a private cloud, SPINEN’s solution helps the practice comply with the stringent privacy and security requirements for medical providers. Another advantage of cloud technology for the growing business is that phones and workstations (PCs, laptops) can be added at any new location and that location is instantly part of the network – no need to move servers and other main equipment.

This was an installation in a new facility, so we selected gigabit VoIP phones from Cisco. This allowed a single network cable to provide network access to both phone and computer at each desk location, cutting the cabling expense by nearly 50%. The heart center completed its technology infrastructure by adding SPINEN’s spam filtering solution.

At SPINEN, we don’t just install technology solutions; we help you determine which solutions to purchase to help maximize the return on your technology investment. With SPINEN’s assistance, the heart center was able to select the best solutions for its reliability, security and efficiency requirements.

Control costs with peace of mind

July 6, 2011

One of the toughest things about computer support for the business owner is cost – how do you contain costs and carry out effective strategic planning? There are two answers to this question. First, you need a technology partner that takes the time to understand your business.

The second is to normalize costs. If you pay for network support services on an as-needed basis, you are playing the odds. In a well-designed and configured network, you may go months without a major issue. However, when a critical component goes down due to hardware failure, that downtime can translate into time and money lost while waiting for the problem to be resolved, in addition to the cost to fix the problem.

Managed services for your network offers a flat, budgetable cost for your computer support services. If your server – where your critical files and financial data reside – suddenly fails, it could require many hours of night and weekend work to resolve. With managed services, you can rest easy knowing that the professional services cost is the same month-to-month, even when an emergency happens.

Other advantages that managed network services offer are ongoing preventative maintenance, so that your equipment is regularly checked and maintained, and warranty expirations are anticipated. Consultation and planning assistance are also part of the managed services package, so that your technology resources can grow as your business grows.

Tired of trying to remember who to call for your Internet connection, that specialized software you use, or computer repair? Let SPINEN be your one-stop call for your network support needs.

Shaving with a buzz saw

June 29, 2011

If you give the average person a circular saw, he doesn’t feel the need to try to shave with it. In fact, s/he may even wear safety equipment and take the time to learn how to use the tool properly. But in the current climate of using social networking as an advertising venue, some businesses seem to throw common sense to the wind.

Individuals have been embarrassed by Facebook’s “Groups” function, many businesses have felt the sting of social networking gaffes, and even law enforcement has learned hard lessons about thoughtless public comments. Misunderstanding the use of social networking as an advertising tool can be as entertaining for the general public as it is embarrassing for the creator: Chevrolet’s® 2007 “create your own Tahoe ad” campaign is perhaps one of the earliest examples.

One problem stems from the blurring of the boundary between personal and business communication. Many people use social networking venues such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace as an informal method of communicating with friends and family. The problem arises when that informality is carried into the business arena.

Your parents or grandparents – particularly those who were small business owners – probably conducted themselves in a formal, professional manner at work, in public venues such as church and theaters, or whenever in view of the community they served. At home with family and close friends, they had little worry that their clients would ever learn about personal opinions or statements intended to remain private. The distinction is no longer as clear today’s business owner.

The best advertising campaigns are built on an understanding of the audience/client base, comprehensive market study, thorough intelligence on the competition, and a fine-tuned feel for ever-changing public tastes and attitudes. Advertising is strategic.

The average post to your Twitter or Facebook account is not.

Compounding the problem of a poorly-conceived message is the way that social networking has expanded the definition of “community” – your mistake is now available for anyone to see … worldwide.

Which brings up a second point about social networking, and the InterWebs in general: everything is connected.

You may work with a stellar advertising firm that has helped you craft an effective campaign using Facebook and YouTube to sell your new product or service. Everything is going great until your prospective clients find those photos or video of that bachelor party, or those somewhat profane remarks you made on a public forum five years ago, and tie your name to your company. It is a mistake to assume anything you have ever done in a public online venue cannot be found, or that business and personal statements will remain separate in the minds of your clients.

By now, you may have decided never to use social networking to advertise your business. Don’t give up just yet. A reputable marketing firm can help you determine if social media fit your business and your target clientele. A well-conceived advertising campaign that includes social networking components can potentially be a boon for your business. Just be prepared to do it responsibly.

You wouldn’t take a dog home and then forget to feed it. An important issue for business owners is “feeding the beast.” Social networking is about fresh content. Create a Facebook page or Twitter account for your business and then don’t update for 6 months and you have done worse than just waste your time – you may have actually negatively impacted the importance search engines attach to your Web site. Make the commitment to regularly update your content.

And finally, make sure you can measure it. A good Web design firm will be able to help determine where your Web traffic originates – whether it is an electronic newsletter, or your business’ Facebook, YouTube or Twitter account. Leveraging tools such as Google’s Analytics, you can measure the effectiveness of online advertising efforts.

In the current economic climate, you cannot afford to end advertising efforts. And for many businesses, the advantages of online advertising – through Web sites as well as social media – are many. Just be sure to follow some basic rules:

1. Think.
2. Any statement you make online is there forever (see #1).
3. If you bring the dog home, feed it.
4. If you can’t measure it, why bother?

I got an iPad! Now what?

January 19, 2011

So you got a new iPad for Christmas, and it’s just the best thing since your first 5-lb cell phone: gorgeous display, the friendly familiarity of your iPhone, thousands of apps available, and that intangible “cool” factor that sparks interested questions and envious glances from friends and co-workers.

But the holidays are over, this lovely piece of technology is laying on your desk at work, and you find yourself wondering, “OK, so what can I do with this thing?”

The iPad is not a laptop replacement, nor is it meant to be. The laptop/notebook computer is great if your primary workday task is creating or editing data – think creating documents or spreadsheets or using your accounting software. In these examples, you are creating new data, and the laptop or notebook has software installed such as Microsoft Word and Excel, or financial software such as QuickBooks or Peachtree Accounting, that allow you to create and manage data. These devices also have plenty of storage space for the new files you are creating.

If your workday involves lots of data review, however, the iPad can be quite useful. If a majority of your time is spent reading email, reading/reviewing documents (Word, Excel, PDF, etc.), reading/researching content available on the Web, or presenting documents to clients or prospective clients, then the iPad may be a great tool for you.

Following are just a few of the ways we use the iPad here at SPINEN. You can find the apps listed below in the iTunes store online, using iTunes software on your desktop, or from the “App Store” app on your iPad or iPhone.

Review & Research: Instapaper, Evernote, Pages, Numbers

Instapaper

Throughout the day, most of us are doing several things at once – sometimes to the point that the workday feels like a never-ending juggling act. Those things that take more than a few minutes often get pushed aside. Here at SPINEN, one of those things is reading; we constantly find blog entries, articles, whitepapers, etc. on current and emerging technologies that fall into our “must read” category. Other times we conduct research for a client, and make note of resources available online pertaining to our research.

During a typical (i.e., hectic) day, it’s hard to find adequate time to read these items – and that’s why we love Instapaper. This simple application gives you a “Read Later” bookmark that you can use to note items you have found online and flag them for later review. You can also email links or forward long email messages, such as newsletters, directly to your Instapaper account. Each account has its own secret email address; anything you send to that address gets added to Instapaper.

The available iPhone/iPad app lets you see a list of the items you have flagged and read them as you have time. We find this a great way of making use of “down time” – while traveling, waiting for appointments, etc. An Instapaper account is free, as is the special bookmark folder for your Web browser on your PC.

At the time of this writing, the iPhone/iPad app is free (with ads) or $4.99 for the Pro (no ads) version.

Evernote

Where Instapaper helps you remember things you need to read, Evernote helps you remember everything. Evernote lets you capture almost anything – snips from Web pages, photos you have taken with your phone, emails, notes and to-do lists you create on the fly, voice memos, and more. You can organize the information you collect into multiple “notebooks,” allowing you to create notebooks for home and work, or for different projects and clients. You can view info you have collected in Evernote in the Evernote software on your (PC or Mac) computer, or using the apps available for iPhone/iPad, as well as Android, BlackBerry and other platforms.

One of the fascinating features of Evernote is that is incorporates an automatic OCR (optical character recognition) function. For example, at a meeting, you take a picture of a whiteboard full of handwritten notes with you iPhone, and send it to Evernote. Evernote will automatically try to recognize the handwritten text in the image, and turn it into editable text (you may be familiar with scanners that have this capability). We have tested this function and were pleasantly surprised at its accuracy.

For individual use, the desktop and iPhone/iPad applications are free. Evernote does offer a “Premium” account, which offers a larger upload allowance each month, allows more file types to be uploaded, and permits collaboration among multiple users.

Pages & Numbers

For you Windows users, Pages and Numbers are the Apple equivalents of Microsoft’s Word and Excel applications, respectively. You do not have to have these apps to read and review documents – right off the shelf, the iPad will allow you to view Word and Excel documents (as well as other common file types, such as PDF). If you need to edit these documents, however, you will need Pages and Numbers.

Most of you will probably prefer the comfort of your desktop keyboard, or even a laptop keyboard, to the iPad’s touchscreen version. Not that the iPad onscreen keyboard does not work well – it is great for taking quick notes or dashing off a reply to that urgent email – but for long editing sessions, a regular keyboard is more comfortable for many users. But if you need the ability to do light editing of Word or Excel documents with your iPad, these are the apps for you.

Pages and Numbers are $9.99 each.

Next: Meetings & Collaboration

I got an iPad, Part 2: Meetings & Collaboration

January 18, 2011

In the second part of our look at the iPad in the workplace, we’ll consider ways to get the most from this device as a tool for meetings and collaboration. The fast power-up and portability of the iPad make it a natural for carrying to meetings and presentations – and with the right apps, make it a useful tool for online collaboration, also. Following are a few we find useful; you can find the apps listed below in the iTunes store online, using iTunes software on your desktop, or from the “App Store” app on your iPad or iPhone.

Notetaker HD

It’s ironic that in the 21st century, the era of the “paperless office,” so many of our electronic resources are still based on the paper paradigm: we have “folders” on our computers, Microsoft Outlook offers us “Notes,” the electronic equivalent of the familiar yellow sticky note, our email has “signatures” … the language we use to describe much of our electronic data is still based on the use of paper. But there are some of us still given to more traditional ways of creating data.

If you are an inveterate note-taker, and prefer to take those notes by hand, then Notetaker HD is for you. Notetaker HD allows you to create handwritten notes with your finger or an iPad-compatible stylus (we recommend using a stylus such as those offered by Boxwave). Tend to draw lots of diagrams in your notes? This app will accommodate you more easily than a cocktail napkin.

The host of features offered by Notetaker HD make using paper positively archaic: you can organize notes by tags (labels that you create), by the date the file was last modified, by title, and more. You can change “ink” colors and line thickness with a single tap (goodbye, overloaded pocket protector!), use a “highlighter” with several color choices, and easily erase anything. You can also group multiple pages into a single note to keep important data organized.

One of the features we like most about this app is that you can email a PDF of any note you create. This allows us to attend a meeting, make notes, and send a PDF copy of those notes to other attendees even before the last person has left the meeting room. Notetaker HD also allows you to import PDF files for annotation.

Notetaker HD is intended for the iPad only (not iPhone), and is currently available for $4.99.

Keynote

Keynote is Apple’s equivalent (some would say more powerful) of Microsoft’s PowerPoint presentation software. If your office is a dedicated Microsoft shop, don’t worry: Keynote can open files created in PowerPoint, and also has the capability to save files created in Keynote as PowerPoint files, so you can maintain compatibility with your PowerPoint-using colleagues.

The quality of the iPad’s display make it perfect for showing off your products and services using Keynote, or you can connect your iPad to an LCD projector (using the optional adapter) and use your iPad to give a presentation to larger audiences. For you road warriors used to lugging around a laptop and assorted accessories needed to give presentations, the iPad is a lightweight alternative for your “road show.” Additional features include the capability to export a presentation to QuickTime movie format or as a PDF file. Those of you who leverage social networking to advertise, your business may be interested in Keynote’s ability to export a presentation directly to your YouTube account.

Keynote is $9.99.

WebEx & GoToMeeting

Many of you have attended online meetings, or “Webinars,” as an alternative to face-to-face meetings. Online meetings have risen in popularity in the last decade because they eliminate travel costs, provide collaboration tools, and simplify the task of coordinating meetings. Two popular applications for virtual meetings are WebEx and GoToMeeting, tools from Cisco and Citrix, respectively. Both these respected online meeting services are now available for your iPad.

At this time both the WebEx and GoToMeeting apps offer the ability to join meetings hosted by others, and include all the important features you have come to expect on your desktop or laptop.  If you host online meetings, however, you should note that hosting meetings is not yet fully implemented (though the WebEx app does offer some limited hosting functionality).

So why would you care about the WebEx/GoToMeeting apps? If you only attend online meetings from your desk at work, maybe you won’t. But if the idea of being able to attend an online meeting from anywhere (especially if your iPad is 3G-capable!) using an extremely lightweight, portable device is appealing, then these apps may by quite useful. With the increasing usage of online meetings – for staff meetings across geographical boundaries, sales presentations, training, etc. – the ability to attend meetings on demand can be appealing indeed.

Both the WebEx and GoToMeeting apps are free. Subscriptions are required to host meetings; see the WebEx and GoToMeeting Web sites for more information.

>>Next: Business Integration
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I got an iPad, Part 3: Business Integration

January 17, 2011

In the third and final chapter in our series about using the iPad effectively in the workplace, we’ll examine some of the ways your iPad can be integrated with existing systems and software.  The ability to tie the iPad to systems you already use is perhaps one of the most powerful ways you can leverage the iPad in your business. From Web site statistics to accessing your phone system or even your desktop PC, the iPad has apps to suit your needs.

Remember, you can find the apps listed below in the iTunes store online, using iTunes software on your desktop, or from the “App Store” app on your iPad or iPhone.

Business Integration: Analytics, Switchvox, iTap RDP, Dropbox & Filer

Analytics

If you have a Web site created by SPINEN, you probably have Google Analytics already configured for your site. If you don’t already have access to your Analytics account, contact us and we can help you get started using this powerful tool for analyzing your Web site’s performance (even if you don’t have an iPad!). For those businesses that use their Web sites as integral parts of the overall marketing strategy, constant review of usage data is critical. While you can access Analytics from any Web browser, the Analytics HD app gives you the ability to see your site’s information on your iPad in a well-designed, easy-to-use interface.

Analytics HD includes the dashboard view familiar to Google Analytics users, as well as more than 50 reports, data displayed as charts, and customizable date ranges. While there are several apps available for accessing your Google Analytics account, Analytics HD appears to be one of the better-designed tools available. Whether you’re running an e-commerce site or measuring the success of an advertising campaign, you should be reviewing your Web performance data regularly. For iPad users, Analytics HD is one way to do that easily.

Analytics HD (the iPhone version is called Analytics App) is available for $6.99.

Switchvox

If SPINEN has installed a Digium Switchvox business phone system for you, you may want to take advantage of the Switchvox Mobile app available from Digium. With an old analog-based phone system, about all you could do was call in and check your voicemail. New digital (aka “VoIP”) phone systems add far more features than ever before, and the  Switchvox Mobile app allows you to take advantage of those capabilities from wherever you may be – construction site, client’s office, or even a golf course or beach.

Using this app, you can access the company directory, get notifications about new voicemail and access those messages, and manage call rules (for example, if you have a rule to route incoming calls to your mobile phone, you can turn it on from within the app). Don’t want to give clients your mobile number? This app allows you to place a call through your office phone system, so your mobile number does not show up in the caller ID of the person you are calling.

The application is free and works with your Digium Switchvox phone system.  Though the app is designed for the iPhone, it will work just fine on your iPad.

Don’t have a Switchvox phone system? The Switchvox Mobile app has a demo mode with sample voicemails, contacts and other data so you can see how it works.

Using iTap RDP with the iPad’s built-in VPN

Many of our clients take advantage of VPN (virtual private networking) to connect to their office networks from home, or from laptops when traveling. VPN technology allows you to access network resources such as shared drives and even printers when out of the office, so that you can virtually take your office with you. Combined with Microsoft’s Remote Desktop software, an employee of your business can be anywhere in the world with Internet access, and connect to his or her own desktop computer at work.

Now you can have that same capability from the iPad. The iPad comes with built-in VPN capability, so all you need to access your work PC from your iPad is a remote desktop app, and that’s where iTap RDP comes in. From any wireless hotspot (or anywhere there is 3G service if your iPad has this capability) you can connect to your business network using VPN and control your PC as if you were sitting in your office.

Of course, you can do the same thing with a laptop, but at 1.5 lbs (vs 5-8 lbs for the average notebook/laptop computer), you’re a lot more likely to have the iPad with you. The app has also incorporated gestures well (movements of your fingers on the touchscreen) so that you won’t miss your mouse after using iTap RDP for only a short while.

iTap RDP is available for both the iPhone and iPad (the iPad’s larger screen makes it easier to use), and costs $11.99.

Dropbox & Filer

The need to transfer large files – movies, CAD files, high resolution photos, large ZIP files – to other people and locations has increased exponentially in the last few years. Email can be used for this purpose up to a point, but there is a practical limit to emailing files as attachments (normal limits are between 10-20 MB). What happens when you need to transfer a 100 MB file to someone, and putting it on a DVD or flash drive is not an option? How to do access your beautiful, full-color sample catalog when you’re in the field without carrying it around on a flash drive?

Moving large files (and keeping them in sync across multiple devices) is what Dropbox is all about. This free service offers 2 GB of secure online storage space (more is available with a paid account). By installing a free application on your computer, you can easily upload files for access anywhere–including from your iPad or any Internet-connected computer. Dropbox offers other nice features such as the ability to place files in a public folder so that others can access them, or to share folders with other Dropbox users.

Filer is an app for the iPhone/iPad that lets you manage, view and share files. The app lets you store files, so you can download them when you have a network connection, and view them when you don’t.  Filer works seamlessly with Dropbox to access the files you have stored in Dropbox. The app will also let you open files into other apps such as iBooks, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Have a lot of photos? Images can be viewed as a mini-slideshow to quickly find the photo you want.

Filer is available in two versions, Filer Lite which is free, and the full version of Filer, which adds the ability to create a passcode to protect your files, the ability to email files, and the ability to upload to Dropbox (free version only offers download capability). The full version of Filer is $3.99.

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