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Evernote Raises Prices and Removes Free Features

Evernote, the cloud note service that has been a mainstay on most peoples’ mobile devices for syncing lists, photos, and notes across all of their devices, has made some changes to its pricing structure. The Evernote team has minimized the usability of the free tier and raised the prices on both of its paid plans. Evernote Pricing
Since I learned about Evernote, around 2009, the free option was more than capable for my use. I would typically access notes from a phone, tablet, desktop and laptop. As I moved from student to professional, the amount of devices I found myself carrying only seemed to grow. Now I would need to buy the $35 annual plan which, while not objectively expensive, is a jarring change from functionality I used to get for free.

Having been a happy Evernote customer for a long time, this price change is making me take a look at what the Premium tier plan is really offering, and what kind of alternatives are out there. For both Android users, Google Keep offers almost all of the functionality of Premium Evernote for free, and it uses storage from your free Google Drive (15GB). Apple Notes paired with iCloud are built into pretty much every Apple device, and use iCloud storage to sync across devices. While some features of Evernote Premium aren’t built into either service, there are plenty of free apps on both platforms’ app stores that will match or exceed the functionality of the $70/year plan.

Any existing Evernote Plus and Premium members are being notified as their prices begin to change. Plus members will see a $10/year increase and Premium members will see a $20/year increase. If I were on either plan I would take that extra $20, throw it at more iCloud storage and say goodbye to Evernote. It will certainly be interesting to see the impact this move has on Evernote’s user data, as some free users simply won’t want to pay and won’t be able to use the free plan any longer.

Resource Cards Makes a Beautiful, Useful Dashboard for Designers

For designers, developers, Resource Cardsand artists, having a good pool of resources is essential to working efficiently. Some people like to use browsers’ bookmarking tools to help save their favorite sites, others simply rely on google searches. I’ve recently started turning to Resource Cards, a simple, no nonsense site with beautiful presentation and easy navigation to the content I need.

Resource Cards makes a nice homepage, with gentle yet distinct design. You are able to select from a large number of resource types, such as Photography (stock photos), Photoshop (PSD project files), and essentials such as fonts, icons, and color themes. There are also sections for WordPress, Bootstrap, HTML CSS & JS, and many more useful web tools.

When you select a category, Resource Cards pulls a list of reputable, mostly free (I haven’t paid for anything while I’ve been using it) providers of the files you’re looking for. You’re then taken to their sites so you can browse and look for exactly what you need, but Resource Cards is still just a back arrow away (much quicker than a new google search if you decide to go from Fonts to WordPress themes).

I set Resource Cards as my default homepage in my browser, so it’s always there when I start up a new window. check out Resource Cards at resourcecards.com and never waste time digging through search results for your design resources again.

Deer Valley Data Joins the Newtek Family of Companies

email_logoNTS

Greetings Deer Valley Data customers!

Newtek is pleased to announce that Deer Valley Data and its Atjeu brand have joined the Newtek Family of Companies.

If you’re not familiar with Newtek, you’ll be pleased to know that Newtek Technology Solutions is a leading managed technology and I.T. infrastructure company that has been around since 1997.

Newtek’s technology operations are based out of Phoenix, Arizona, and have a data center footprint — with redundancy and backup — in Arizona, New Jersey, Colorado, London, and Singapore.

Newtek is a profitable and publicly traded company that owns and manages over $350 million in assets, and has more than 100,000 business accounts in its portfolio. You may also find it refreshing that Newtek is a completely open and transparent company. You are invited to download and read Newtek’s financials by clicking here: Newtek Financials.

 

What Does This Mean For You?
First and foremost, we can assure you that you will only see an increase in quality of service, technical expertise, and innovation. Whether you are a Deer Valley Data, Atjeu, or Newtek customer, there will be no immediate change to the way business is transacted. You can continue to count on service and support from the same customer team and contacts that you currently have. In the coming weeks, we will keep you informed of our progress as the integration process evolves.

We will also be upgrading your co-located and hosted systems to our state-of-the-art, tier 3 data center facility. In short, your services will no longer encounter some of the power and network-attack issues you have experienced in the past.

 

Welcome to Our Team
A dedicated team from across the organization will ensure that the transition period is seamless for you while seeking new ways to improve overall service levels. Our customer relations representatives are standing by to explain our additional services and to assist you in getting the most from Newtek. You can reach us, day or night, at 1-866-820-8910 techsales@thesba.com.

And finally, your complete satisfaction is our first priority! We are delighted that you are now a part of Newtek and we want to hear from you. Should you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please contact a member of the integration team by sending an email to techsales@thesba.com and we will respond promptly.


What You Can Expect From Newtek:

World-class facility features
  • Dedicated humidification system that creates optimal hardware operation conditions
  • Advanced temperature controls that ensure servers are always running cool
  •  Advanced cooling systems that handle high level heat loads, doing much more than AC alone
  • Onsite, third-party security with around-the-clock surveillance
  • Man-trap entry point that features bulletproof glass and weight-measurement technology to deter unauthorized “piggy-baking” into the facility
  • State-of-the-art biometric retina scanning
Enterprise-class network & network security
  • Multimillion-dollar network infrastructure with complete network redundancy at all key points, from peers, border routers, core routers, and firewalls to ensure your services are always online.
  • Multiple Tier-1 connectivity providers with redundant 20 GigE connections for a superior level of thru-put and uptime (in comparison, the Deer Valley Data facility has a 1 GigE connection)
  • An advanced DDoS mitigation infrastructure that can handle large-scale attacks, mitigating the issue before it impacts services in our datacenter
Other benefits you will receive at Newtek include:
  • As a public company that manages assets in the financial and payments sector, you immediately receive the added security benefits as a result of our heavy compliance requirements. Newtek is SOX compliant, PCI Compliant, and maintains a SSAE 16 certification.
  • Newtek’s support team is staffed by tenured system administrators. Put simply, Newtek doesn’t believe in help desk-level support. When you call Newtek for technical assistance, you will speak with a real system admin who is empowered to resolve any of your issues. If you have any questions, call us at 1-866-820-8910.
  • Newtek is a solutions-based company that is committed to helping you grow your business, reduce costs, and minimize risk. Newtek is Your Business Solutions Company: a provider of Business Financial Solutions, Payment Processing Solutions, Managed Technology Solutions, and Payroll & Benefits Solutions. You can learn more at www.newtekone.com.

Google Releases New Mobile-Friendly Test Tool

Google has been working hard to get website owners to Mobile Phone Friendlyswitch their sites to mobile-friendly design. Since the update that factors mobile friendliness in search engine results, it has become more important for small businesses to keep their sites up to this standard. Google has provided a tool for several years to allow you to check to see if a site was mobile friendly, but they recently released a material design-influenced reiteration of it.

 

Trying really hard not to turn this into a UX blog, but once again an updated UI has made it easier to use and understand the information provided by the service. The tool itself is now mobile friendly, and matches the design of Google’s other applications.

Mobile Friendly Test

If you haven’t, check your site’s design at https://search.google.com/search-console/mobile-friendly and if you aren’t sure how to make the changes suggested, contact our specialists at 877-323-4678.

I’m Obsessed with the New Instagram Update

Instagram has had a very similar UI since it was created. The tired old brown icon has occupied a space on the grid of my phone screen(s) for almost six years, but I’ve been using it less frequently over time. Simply put, I just got bored of it. The content became less interesting (blaming the friends I follow for that one) and the stagnant, dated UI didn’t compel me to check this drab feed of selfies and memes. Luckily, the update I got this morning for Instagram caught my attention immediately, and may have breathed new life into the application entirely.

Instagram ditched the brown and beige icon for a very eye catching gradient. The app itself has lost most of its color, opting for almost entirely black and white UI with a pink color for elements like notifications. It looks very “Apple”, and we’re expecting a similar look coming to Apple Music soon, which won’t matter to Android/Windows users, but there is definitely something that can be taken away from this update and the effect its having on users.

Instagram UI Update

Through exploring, I have found very few new features in the newest Instagram update, so it’s safe to say this is solely a UI update, and I’m so excited to use it again. As a developer or business owner, it would be worthwhile to take this into consideration for the systems your customers use. If adding new features or services isn’t having the effect you expected, or just isn’t something you’re doing right now, a new look can be enough to trigger more engagement.

Keeping your UI up to the current trends is critical to maintain and expand your user base. Unless you’re offering a highly specialized product, chances are there’s a competitor out there whose website or app has a cleaner, more user-friendly design. Users will gravitate towards interfaces that look simple, make it obvious where they should navigate to get their desired result. Using familiar elements to your design will make the user feel like they know what they’re doing, even if they’re seeing it for the first time.

Have You Updated to WordPress 4.5?

The newest core version of WordPress is 4.5.1, but a staggering 80.9% of users are on versions 4.4 and lower. Along with the advantage of having up-to-date security and bug fixes, WordPress 4.5 arrived with a variety of new features to make editing, moderating, and managing your site easier.
This article will detail some of the big features of the new update, so read on if you’re unsure about updating!

Note: to update WordPress, you can do so through Softaculous in cPanel (if you’re on a Linux plan and installed WordPress through Softaculous). You can also download WordPress 4.5.1 and install it manually here.

Theme Logo Support

Some WordPress themes have allowed users to import their logo, and the theme handled placement and sizing etc. In WordPress 4.5, this is a core feature and instead of paying for a premium theme, users will be able to import their logos through the theme customizer.
Logo Support
Themes still need to support logos, but having this as a core feature will likely encourage theme developers to include it in their themes. Bringing your logo over across themes will be easier as well, as they’re saved in WordPress’s menu rather than the folder that the theme uses.

Improvements to Visual Editor

WordPress’ new features in the visual editor streamline the writing process. There have been some new shortcuts and improvements to existing shortcuts to make creating content even more enjoyable.

Inline Link Editor

The CTRL+K shortcut allows you to create a hyperlink on the text your cursor is currently on. With the 4.5 update, the window that used to pop up to edit the hyperlink is being replaced with an inline link editor. This makes the experience less abrasive and, from my observations, a bit faster.

Old Link Editor:
WordPress Link Editor Old
New Link Editor:
WordPress Link Editor New

Improved Comment Moderation

Filtering through spam comments is just one of the many joys that WordPress users experience when they post content to their blogs/sites. When you receive a comment on WordPress (pre-4.5), you receive an email with a link that takes you to a screen that lets you see the comment details and either approve or reject the comment from being posted. The screen is rather unsightly, showing html formatting as the actual code rather than the formatted text.

 

Moderate Comment 4.4 and 4.5

The 4.5 fixes this with support for formatted text in the moderation screen. You may also edit comments if you’re concerned about a comment containing contact information, language, or links that you might not want displayed on your site.

 

Responsive Previews

With the world moving towards mobile devices, responsive design is becoming increasingly prevalent across all of the internet. WordPress 4.5 gives you the ability to preview your site’s design on 3 different devices while working in the customizer. You can switch between the (general) aspect ratio and screen size of a desktop, tablet, and smartphone with a single click.

Responsive Preview WordPress 4.5

Responsive Image Scaling Improvements

WordPress has had built in image scaling (for scaling a picture from desktop screens to mobile without reducing quality) since 4.4. The 4.5 update improves upon this feature by allowing images to be scaled to as little as 50% of the original image size without any noticeable loss in quality

The New Macbook: It’s Pink! … and That’s It.

The Original2016 Macbook

Apple’s 12” Macbook is a great travel laptop. It’s lighter than a Macbook Air and, unlike any iPad, can run full desktop versions of applications.

The complaints with the original Macbook were focused around the sometimes sluggish performance when working in processor-intensive apps. Its Intel Core M processor packs just enough punch to handle browsing, office document editing, and streaming, but is underpowered enough to leave a clear line for what makes a “Pro” user. The Macbook features a single USB-C port for data, power and video. While an awkward transition for people used to using several usb ports, dedicated power and multiple video ports like on the Macbook Pro, many users reported growing to appreciate the minimal approach to the laptop.

The Refresh

Here we are a year later and Apple has refreshed the Macbook with a new version of the same processor, yielding slightly better performance and battery life. Apple is also now offering the Macbook in rose gold, to match the new color of the iPhone 6s. Apple changed little else on the new version of the laptop, and made last year’s model available refurbished for about $200 less than retail.

The Verdict

If you already purchased a 2015 Macbook, the refresh doesn’t seem like a justifiable upgrade with only slightly improved performance. If you’re interested in picking up your first Macbook, unless you’re dead set on the rose gold one, maybe look at a refurbished model and save yourself a couple hundred dollars. It is likely that the Macbook will be replacing the Air entirely in Apple’s laptop lineup, so hopefully before that happens we will see a little more processing power from the machines in the coming years.

Facebook’s Messenger Bots are Simultaneously Ingenious and Useless

Facebook has launched a Messenger Bot system to allow businesses to provide an “instant” point of contact to people looking for general information. The idea behind the service is to eliminate the need to call a 1-800 number, as stated by Zuckerberg. Facebook released the API to allow businesses to set up their own bots, so you can round out your customer service and sales strategy by automating your Facebook messages.

The platform is not without its faults, and one of them makes the service seem almost pointless. Both third party bots and Facebook’s own “M” bot take an uncomfortably long amount of time to reply initially. Most users have to wait about 4 minutes before getting an initial reply, and those replies usually ask for more clarification. One of the biggest complaints about 800 numbers and phone queues is those automated menus that seem to never understand you properly. This  MADtv segment, while obviously satirical, feels far too familiar for people who have had to deal with these kinds of menus.


What Facebook has done with the messenger bots is effectively slowed down these menus and brought them into an IM format. While I’m sure these bots will become a must-have for businesses in the coming months, unless the response time and efficiency improves, you’re probably better off just sticking to Google, or looking up information on the company’s website.

You can learn more about the Messenger Bots and Facebook’s 10 year plan on NeimanLab’s summary of F8 here.

Virtual Reality is Going to Change Retail Forever

Virtual Reality (VR) has been on its way, but not quite here, for whatVirtual Reality feels like an eternity. Similarly to how 3D TV’s were hyped up for months before they ever came to market, gamers, developers, and technology fans have been foaming at the mouth over VR since the Oculus Rift was announced. It seems like every phone manufacturer out there is trying their hand at a VR headset as well, with Samsung being the obvious frontrunner with their Gear VR.

None of this should be news to anyone who follows the pulse of technology, but there are plenty of people who simply don’t keep up with the latest tech trends. VR is a big one though, and for small business owners, Virtual Reality is about to be your biggest game-changer for the way customers experience your store.

When people think of retail, they think about getting to see, touch, and possibly even use the product. For some people this offers a resounding sense of confidence when making their purchase. For several years, however, these experiences have been passed up by the convenience of online shopping. For consumers, same day deliveries and the convenience of placing orders from your smartphone regardless of your location simply beat out the perks of retail shopping. If you’re a small business, chances are you’ve noticed this change and are looking for a way to make the experience of being in your store more appealing. That’s where Virtual Reality comes in, to put the power of a unique, immersive shopping experience in your retail store.

Let’s say you do flooring for houses, and offer consultations in an office where customers come to meet you. Instead of looking at 1”x1” slabs of materials on a posterboard, they put on a headset and see the entire floor covered in those same materials. Virtual Reality can demonstrate different lighting, furniture, spill and scratch tests in a way that retail stores never could before.

Remodeling companies, furniture stores, clothing companies, and more will be able to apply to their businesses this groundbreaking technology that maybe only originally appealed to gamers and geeks. Even if your experience isn’t as immersive as some of the work Oculus, Samsung, and Microsoft have been working on, having some sort of VR experience will get people talking about your store and make more people want to stop by.

 

Google to Discontinue Google Wallet Debit Cards.

Google Wallet CardGoogle Wallet is the longstanding mobile payment platform that brought NFC payments to the masses in 2011. Google has been heavily restructuring their payment applications recently, turning Google Wallet into a peer-to-peer payment service (a la Venmo, Paypal, SquareCash) and putting NFC payments into their new app Android Pay.

As of May 1st 2016, users will no longer be able to add money to their Google Wallet debit cards. On June 30 the cards will be fully cancelled by Google. The Wallet service will still work, and Android Pay is growing in support and adoption rapidly. Google has yet to say whether they will be creating an Android Pay card, or if they’re ditching the idea of replacing debit and credit cards altogether.

Because of the low adoption rate of NFC terminals, Google started offering a Google Wallet physical card that worked with ATM’s and traditional swiping terminals. The cards launched in 2013 and functioned by loading up your balance in the app, and spending with the card.

If you’re a Google Wallet card user looking for a convenient way to replace the plastic in your wallet, we have written about our pick for a replacement card previously. Of course there still isn’t anything wrong with actual bank cards, but many people out there are looking to simplify their wallets.

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