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The Chromebook turns 10: Cheap, safe, powerful — and still gaining on Windows



A decade ago, I said the Chromebooks would be Windows PC killers. I got that wrong. But I wasn’t as wrong as you might think. Today, Microsoft is hard at work turning Windows from a standalone PC operating system into a cloud-based Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) with its Cloud PC model. Who had that idea first? Who proved that users would accept a cloud-based desktop? That would be Google with the Chrome OS. 

Back in the day, I thought Chromebooks would be winners for five reasons. The top of my list was that Chromebooks were far more affordable than Windows PCs. I got that one right. There are lots of great inexpensive Chromebooks for workers, people at home, and students

Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit. Thanks to the sudden leap in remote work and learning, Chromebook sales exploded. Since then, Chromebooks have accelerated like a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Chromebook demand has boomed for all the top PC makers, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Indeed, sales data analyst Canalys found Chromebook sales surged by 275% in the first quarter compared to a year ago. In short, Chromebooks have become mainstream. They just took longer than I thought they would.  

I also thought Chromebooks would be popular because they’re so easy to use. And that’s still true today. If you can use a web browser, congratulations, you can use a Chromebook. It’s that simple. Chromebooks are the ultimate grab-and-go computer.

That reminds me of another reason I love Chromebooks: You can’t lose data on one. Everyone’s lost important information at one time or another on a Windows box. You can run over a Chromebook with a bulldozer; leave it in a cab never to be seen again in Barcelona; or Junior can feed his school Chromebook a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You get another Chromebook and all your files and data are back as soon as you’re logged in. Yes, that’s a privacy problem, but short of secure Linux desktops, that’s a problem you have with any modern PC. 

In 2011, I also pointed out that thanks to the rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), you already had all the programs you’d ever need for your home use or work. Since then, that’s only become more true. Even Microsoft says SaaS Office 365 “crushes Office 2019.” While there are exceptions, such as video-editing programs, the future of end-user software belongs to SaaS. 

When you do need a program to run locally on a Chromebook, besides SaaS programs, Chromebooks now support Android, Linux, and, thanks to Parallels Desktop for Chromebook Enterprise or CodeWeavers’ Crossover Chrome OS, you can even run Windows programs on Chromebooks. In short, Chromebooks offer you the broadest possible selection of programs.

Chromebooks are also the most secure PCs out there. Chrome OS, thanks to its Linux ancestry, was designed for a hostile world filled with network threats. While every week brings a new Windows malware attack, there are still only a handful of Chrome OS security threats. 

When I got my hands on the first commercial Chromebook, the Samsung Series 5 with its 12.1-inch display and 1.66Ghz Intel Atom N570 dual-core CPU with 2GBs of RAM, and a 16GB solid-state drive (SSD), I liked it, but I wasn’t tempted to leave my Linux workstations behind. 

Since then I’ve used and reviewed about 100 Chromebooks, and I’ve bought almost a dozen. I’ll never stop using high-powered Linux desktops, but after Google released the i7 Pixelbook in 2018, I’ve been sold on using Chromebooks for my laptops. Today, I don’t leave home without my Google Pixelbook Go

Today, when someone asks for a computer recommendation — unless they’re a power user or programmer — I always recommend Chromebooks. Cheap, powerful, and as safe as houses. Chromebooks may yet outsell Windows laptops. They’re that good.

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4 Ways You Can Improve Your Business’ Credit Card Processing System



An ineffective credit card processing system can do a lot of damage to your business, especially if it’s a small business struggling to survive in this harsh economy. 

All businesses are now obliged to keep up with their big competitors and accept various forms of payments but there is more to it than meets the eye. If you’re not careful when choosing a credit card processing system, the recurring costs might be too much to bear.

Sure, it might sound easier to just stick to cash, but given that we’re quickly moving to a cashless society, contactless and mobile payments have become the norm.

You don’t want to miss out on potential sales just because the world of card processing systems sounds too complex and too expensive. 

It takes some research and careful comparison to pick the right system. Below, we talk about how to improve your business’ credit card processing system.

How does a credit card processing system work?

If you’re new to this, you might be confused by the process. Let’s simplify it: credit card processing systems allow customers to pay with their cards whether in a brick-and-mortar shop or online.

To accept credit card payments, your business needs a credit card reader. When a customer buys a product or service from you, they can just swipe the card against the card reader (or tap it) and the transaction is instantly approved.

For online stores, you don’t require any equipment such as a card reader. You will only pay a gateway fee. However, you will pay a small fee for each transaction. There are also recurring costs (monthly or annually) as well as upfront costs for physical shops where a terminal is required.

1. Know What You Need

The first step towards improving your card processing system is knowing what your business needs. There are so many card processing providers out there with some great features but not all of them are right for your business.

There is a lot to be factored in including the upfront cost, contract, as well as hidden fees. 

Consider your priorities as well as your budget. Do you want to accept all the major credit card networks or just a selected few? Do you want the system to support contactless payments too? What about mobile payments?

Think about what your business needs and then see what other credit card processing systems offer. 

2. Pick an Efficient System

If your goal is to attract more customers with credit card payment options, then you should also consider a simple and speedy system. For the transactions to go smoothly, the card processing system needs to be straightforward and easy for your employees to handle. 

You also want a system that can be set up as quickly as possible so that you can start using the service independently almost immediately. 

Also, the speed of transfer is important here. Customers hate waiting (no surprise there!) so the faster a transaction is authorized, the better!

When shopping around for card processing systems, you also want to consider what payment options the system supports. Swipe/tap/contactless payments are essentially a must, especially now amidst COVID-19 when people are encouraged to pay without direct contact.

3. Compare the Prices/Costs

A credit card processing system with high recurring fees is hardly efficient for your business. With so many card processing companies out there with varying fees, it’s hard to tell which one’s is truly cost-efficient.

How so?

For example, a certain card processing system might require little upfront costs (you can purchase a card reader for as low as £19). However, their transaction fees or recurring fees might be too high. 

On the other hand, some card processing systems have higher upfront fees but the service turns out to be more cost-efficient in the long run as their payment processing fees are lower. 

There are also weekly or annual fees and other seemingly small fees that can add up and eat your profit.

The only way to know you’ve chosen the right card processing system is to compare the upfront costs as well as recurring fees. You can do so by visiting Cardswitcher to know more about price comparisons and selecting the right supplier. 

4. Read the Fine Print

Nobody really reads contracts all the way through, right?

Well, you should and here’s why.

The price may sound great and the setup might have been very quick, but reading the small print will really reveal whether a card processing provider will be right for you in the long term. 

The contract will tell you how to use the system and also what happens if you don’t use it as described. 

However, there is more. Some suppliers might require a 3-4 year commitment. This can be too long for a business as you never know when you might need to change something. Also, see if there are any cancellation fees in the contract that might prevent you from moving on to a better provider at some point.

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Over one in four men (27%) think flirting at work is appropriate: 93% of women disagree



44% of women take the phrase “bless your heart” to mean “you’re dumb”, compared to 77% of men who would think they were being told “you’re sweet”, a new study has found. The survey, by telecommunications provider, asked 1,000 American workers about communications at work, to identify differences in gender. 

The survey revealed the differences between men and women when it comes to communication and what is and isn’t appropriate in the workplace. The majority of women (93%) said flirting at work is always inappropriate, compared to well over one in four (27%) men who think flirting in the workplace is acceptable. Similarly, one in five (20%) men see no issues with discussing sex in a professional workplace – something most women (94%) disagree with.  

The study also found that women are more likely than men to perceive casual communication in the workplace as negative, with over half of women (51%) taking “with all due respect” as a negative communication, compared to only 32% of men. Further still, one in four (26%) men said they took the phrase “with all due respect” as a ‘very positive’ communication at work – that’s double the number of women (13%) who said the same.  

However, women may also be missing subtle hints when it comes to their work quality. Almost half of men (44%) would mean “this is awful and needs redoing” when they say they have a “few amends”. Only one in four women (26%) agreed with this meaning, with most perceiving this communication as “there are just a couple of typos”. 

Shouting, too, was an area in which the genders disagreed. Men are four times as likely to shout in a professional workplace, with one in five men (19%) saying they find shouting at work acceptable compared to only 5% of women who said the same. 

Clinical psychologist, Robin Rosenberg, spoke of the results, explaining why women may be more cautious with actions such as flirting and shouting at work, as well as why they may tend towards negative perceptions in communication: 

“Historically and currently, women have been the recipients of bias and discrimination in the workplace. One possible explanation for this gender difference is that women are more likely than men to be on the “alert” for possible negative actions toward them. Being more likely to see a negative subtext (an “obstacle”) may help women better navigate around such obstacles. To use a different metaphor, it’s important to know where the landmines are so that you can step around or over them, but not on them.” 

Jason O’Brien, COO of said of the findings:  

“With this study, we set out to find out if there are any clear differences in how we communicate between genders. It’s obvious there are differences between men and women with how we communicate at work and how we perceive communications, with men more likely to engage in behaviours such as flirting, shouting and discussing sex, women more likely to see negative subtext in casual statements, and men more likely to miss subtle insults. 

“It is important in any workplace to be able to communicate effectively with a variety of different people. This study just highlights the importance of clear, professional communication at work, so that what we say is taken the way in which it is intended.”  

You can find more data from’s research on their blog.  

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Preparing for Freedom Day and managing a hybrid workforce



As the UK counts down to the delayed ‘Freedom Day’ on 19th July 2021 many employers are concerned about what the workplace will look like after Covid-19 restrictions lift, with many anticipating hybrid working will become the new norm says Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director at Activ Absence.

A recent report from Envoy revealed that 70% of UK workers believe a hybrid model—involving the flexibility to choose when and where to work—would result in personal benefits, with 34% saying it would improve their mental health, and 41% stating it would benefit their work-life balance.

Other research from Instant Offices[i] found that nearly two-thirds (59%) of respondents wanted flexible hours to cope with the mental health impact of working remotely, and nearly half (45%) wanted a four-day week.

Firms such as Nationwide[ii] have said they will allow 13,000 office staff to choose where they work under a new flexibility scheme, whereas Goldman Sachs told its bankers to be ready to return to the office in June, when the government was meant to lift legal limits on social contact in England[iii].

Adrian says, “There is a lot of uncertainty about what the workplace will look like once restrictions have ended and employees in theory could all return to the office. Hybrid working seems to be getting a lot of attention, especially since many employees recognise the benefits it can have.

“But some firms are also considering a four-day week, flexible working and even working from home permanently. With the Government also proposing legal changes preventing employers forcing staff back to the office unless they can prove it is essential – there are likely to be challenges ahead for employers.

“Employers need manage people’s different needs and expectations – some will be anxious about returning to the office, whereas others can’t wait, and ensure it’s business as usual no matter where an employee is working, with no dip in productivity.

“Keeping on top of where staff are working, monitoring who is in the office and who is at home and getting teams working effectively together will be more challenging than if everyone was in the office.  It will also potentially add a whole layer of administration to the daily lives of HR as it may fall to them to monitor this.

“Culturally there are major risks too. There is a danger that a company will become split between those in the office and those at home and if it isn’t managed carefully, resentments between colleagues could creep in.

“Companies will have to rethink how they communicate and bring teams together and how to maintain a sense of camaraderie, as well as other issues such as looking after employee health and wellbeing. Mental health is also a concern, with the pandemic exacerbating many issues such as stress, anxiety and depression.”

In June, there were calls on the UK government to give employees a legally binding ‘right to disconnect’, with some employees and trade union, Prospect calling for a ban on out-of-hours emails as the Covid-19 pandemic has already made work more stressful[iv].

Adrian adds, “Technology such as absence management technology gives employers a simple way to overcome many of these challenges. It gives complete visibility over the workforce, so managers know if employees are working at home, off sick or on holiday.

“It can also support mental health – enabling managers to spot patterns in sickness behaviour and ensure back to work interviews are done, which offer a confidential and safe place for people to discuss any issues. The software records annual leave too so if workers fail to take their allocated holidays they can be encouraged to do so, which helps their wellbeing.

“The software is cloud based so easily accessible and it can help employers facilitate hybrid or flexible working, a four-day week or even working at home permanently. As Freedom Day approaches, investing in this technology can ensure employers are prepared for what the new normal way of working may be post pandemic.”

For more information on absence management software visit





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