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Increasing Productivity, Simply

Recent studies have shown that having a potted plant can significantly increase a worker’s productivity and creativity. The findings harken back to a theory first published in 1980, called “attention restoration theory.” The gist of this theory is that our brains expend a lot of energy on tasks that require direct attention. This type of mental fatigue is only restored when that concentration stops. There are multiple ways to do this—meditation or a nap is ideal, though not always practical on the job. When we're awake, direct attention can be refreshed by shifting focus to something indirect. In the potted plant study, nature offered just this type of absorbing, restorative distraction.

While the basis for this theory lies in spending time observing nature, similar benefits are seen when individuals engage in other activities, such as playing games and playing with toys. That’s right—playing with toys. We’ve all heard tales of the Google and Facebook corporate campuses, where arcade games are common, and extracurricular activities abound (including gardening at Google’s London HQ). This is attention restoration theory at work.

Most businesses don’t budget or have the space for ping pong tables or pinball machines; fortunately, smaller games and puzzles also provide the rejuvenation that employees periodically need. Simple items that allow for tactile engagement offer similar benefits to restore the overworked brain and lead to high productivity and happier employees.

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Online Security Measures for Individuals

It often starts out small – a five-dollar purchase that shows up on in the bank statement, a strange email notification, a hacked social media account. Day in and day out, personal information is scattered around the web, in places you might not even realize. From broadcasting our location on Facebook and Foursquare, to extolling our professional credentials on LinkedIn, and expressing opinions on Twitter and Wordpress, our lives are more of an open book than ever before.  So how, as individuals, can we ensure our information is safe? Kinetik I.T. President Josette van Stiphout offers some suggestions. 

The most fundamental step, she explains, is making sure no one is spying on you. “For individuals, let's start with something simplistic – really making sure that your computer doesn't have spyware installed. What can happen ‑‑ if you're an individual, and you do online banking, and you're not aware that there is spyware on your computer, they can obtain your bank account numbers, your personal information, and they can access your online financial data.” Take these steps in verifying the security of your computer and accounts:

Computer safety: Make sure that your computer is clean before you do any online transactions related to banking or personal information – install a good anti-spyware software and regularly download the anti-spyware definition updates, or set up automatic updates. 

Create a strong, complex password. Microsoft suggests that the stronger your password, the more protected your computer will be from hackers and malicious software. Create an effective password following these guidelines:

·      At least twelve characters long.

·      Does not contain your user name, real name, or company name.

·      Does not contain a complete word.

·      Is significantly different from previous passwords.

·      Contains characters from each of the following four categories: Capital letters, lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. 

Ensure data security: When online, only deal with secure and encrypted websites that are from a credible source. For this final step, van Stiphout explains that simply looking for the https in front of the domain will indicate if your data is encrypted. “Especially when making online purchases, you want to make sure that https prefix is there, and you should see a little lock on the bottom of the toolbar that shows that the session is encrypted,” she said.

She adds, “If you do online purchases, never order from a company that doesn't have a name or address that is verifiable. I always research the company before I do any online transactions with that company.Verify that the company indeed has an address, contact information, that's all verifiable.  You should also find out the safety rating of a web site before visiting it. Norton and TrendMircro are good will have safety ratings.  When in doubt, don't visit the site.  Better safe than sorry. Spyware and viruses can be hard to get rid of.  Your personal information can be compromised and you could lose date if your computer has to be rebuilt with no adequate data backup.  This all takes time and can be very costly. 

Last but not least: Be aware of phishing emails/scams, where you make receive fake notifications from an organization that is posing itself as a legitimate company. These notifications are designed to encourage you to click on links and steal your identity by acquiring information such as your username, password etc. 

Kinetik Information Technology is a premier provider of internet and information technology solutions and resources that move our clients forward. Kinetik I.T.'s mission is to design and develop world-class web sites, internet marketing strategies, web, database, custom software & online shopping cart applications; as well as to provide the resources and network technology that move our clients forward, enabling our clients to reach their full business potential.

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Never Give Up.

Search the internet for the phrase, “Never give up,” and you’ll come across several eponymous images.  Undoubtedly, the most well-known is that of the frog who, while cradled precariously in the craw of a bird about to eat him, is doing his best to wring the neck of his winged opponent.  Another image is that of a mouse wearing the tiniest helmet, perched in front of an ever-so-enticing cheese-loaded mousetrap.  In both instances, the underlying message is that hard work comes naturally when you’re passionate about what’s at stake.

Working in the information technology arena has never been smooth sailing, at least not for any extended period of time.  Since its inception, the industry has weathered its share of booms and busts, followed by more of the same. “I would say, our biggest accomplishment is that in 24 years we've been through the ups and downs of the technology bubble, 9/11, economic downturn,” says Josette van Stiphout, President of Kinetik I.T. “We've had several highs and several really lows and within that 24‑year period. Nonetheless, during the trying times, we did not choose the easy way out, resorting to lay-offs or salary decreases. Instead, we did whatever we had to do to keep our staff employed. We believe our staff is better off not having to worry about having a job or not. We want them to focus their energy positively, such as on exceeding our clients’ expectations.” Our business philosophies and loyalty to our employees are quite different than what is the norm for corporate America.

Working in such a volatile industry, the key to Kinetik I.T.’s 24-year longevity has been in the passion and commitment of our people to deliver high-quality custom desktop and web-based software systems and long-term I.T. solutions for our clients.  We do this by first uncovering, then catering to the client’s most important needs.  Because our employees embody both efficiency and passion for their work, bridging the gap between marketing and technology and revolutionizing the way our clients do business is more than just work to us – it’s our goal, our mission. And we’ll never give up.

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