Archive for July, 2012

Relay for Life – Brown County

Each spring and early summer, the Citizens Bank Minnesota Relay for Life team begins its fundraising efforts in support of the American Cancer Society and the fight against cancer.  Through a variety of events, including lunches, acting as guest servers at area restaurants, a crafters’ retreat and donations from friends and family, the Citizens team continues to make sizeable donations each year to the American Cancer Society to help find a cure for this dreaded disease.

Relay for Life fundraising events occur throughout the year in every part of the country. The Citizens team has been involved in the Brown County event since 1996.  This year, the Brown County Relay for Life event will be held on Friday, July 27 at 5:00 p.m. at the Brown County Fairgounds. Let’s create more Birthdays! Please join us and see what we can do together!

By: Barb Marti, Receptionist/Administrative Assistant

Tablet Talk

The smartphone has been around since 2007 when Apple released the first iPhone.  These devices have matured into powerful pocket computers, but in my experience, the smartphone still has one flaw – its screen size.  The tablet computer has arrived to fill that void.  I am surprised how little I actually use our computer at home these days.  We own a laptop and desktop computer, but I really only use a computer when I need:

  • to type something longer than a few sentences
  • to print something

I feel that it is now possible for a person to own ONLY a tablet.  There are even ways to print, but with everyone going “green”, maybe this is a way to cut back.  The tablet is taking over and connecting people in new ways.  Here are the reasons I own a tablet:

  • Tablets have incredible battery life.  The device can hold a charge for days depending upon usage.  Tablets can “sleep” using almost no battery.  For example, our laptop can run for about 3 hours on battery while the tablet can run for 5 days on the counter.
  • Tablets run cool and silent – no fans needed.
  • Tablets are lightweight.
  • Tablets are affordable and there are numerous devices out there.  Amazon’s Kindle Fire is $200, the iPad 2 is $400, the iPad 3 is $500, and there are powerful Android devices from many manufacturers for $125 up through the iPad price points above.
  • Tablets are intuitive.  The experience is book-like.  My 4-year-old could run our tablet after watching me for 5 minutes.  The youth, the elderly, and everyone in between can use a tablet.
  • Tablets have cameras and microphones.  Connect to your family with ease using Skype or other methods of video communication.
  • Tablets have “apps” that make using email, Facebook, Skype, Weather, and much more very simple.
  • Tablets have good web browsers and can access the Internet like a computer, except for the iPad, which doesn’t support Adobe Flash.
  • Tablets can be used like a book.  The Amazon Kindle app is available on most devices along with other reading apps.
  • Tablets are durable.  No keyboards to spill into and a simple design.

What is a tablet?

Both tablets and computers run an operating system, but the operating system is designed differently.  The tablets I have recommended run either Google Android or Apple iOS.  This can be a source of confusion because Apple also manufactures the only device that runs iOS.  So other than the iPad, that means that Google Android is running on pretty much everything else you hear about, including Amazon’s Kindle Fire. 

Microsoft has officially dropped off the face of the earth in this regard.  Windows is the overwhelming choice amongst computers, but we have to wait until Christmas time in 2012 for the first Microsoft tablets to appear running Windows 8.  I speculate they will be priced at or above the Apple iPad, but they will do everything that Windows does well today plus the tablet features above.  Barnes and Noble just signed a HUGE deal with Microsoft regarding Windows 8.

What are the gotchas?

  • You need some sort of case and it is nice to have a stand in that case. 
  • Tablets don’t replace computers or books, but they are powerful stand-in devices. 
  • The on-screen keyboard can be a learning curve, but you can also buy keyboards and stylus “pen” devices to connect to the tablets. 
  • The screen is also not the same as the pages on a book, but it is still a good experience. 
  • There are some REALLY cheap Android devices out there.  Some use lower quality “resistive screens” and others may not even have the Google store.  Capacitive screens are a necessity along with a “real” app store. 

If you have any questions about a device, feel free to send me an email at jwieland@citizensmn.com

Here is the Apple iPad:

http://www.apple.com/ipad/

Here is the Amazon Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/Kindle-Fire-Amazon-Tablet/dp/B0051VVOB2

Here is a solid Android tablet – the device I own and enjoy:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004U78J1G

Here is a new series of affordable Android devices:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Coby-Android-4-0-Touch-Tablets/ci/19136/N/4106338708

By: Jason Wieland, IT Manager

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