Technology

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

Because lighting, heating and cooling represent 19%-25% of the cost of operating a commercial business, control of energy costs is essential to improving profit margins. A reduction of even 10% in these costs can produce a significant improvement. But, because Canada is located in a part of the world where temperatures can range from 40C below zero to 35C above, it is inevitably expensive to keep internal temperatures at levels needed to maintain comfortable working conditions through the changing seasons.

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

The use of cut-out and email coupons to create consumer awareness of your business and your products has been around for a long time, but their effect on your revenue and profit is notoriously hard to measure. Some marketers are now hoping to get around this problem by offering WiFi services to their in-store customers to get them to stay within the store environment. This idea is based on the well-tested principle that the longer a person stays in the store, the more likely they are to buy something. In fact, a recent survey has shown that 62% of customers will linger longer in shopping environments that provide free WiFi. The same study showed that half of those customers actually spend more money while they remain in the store.

By Klayman & Company 21 Mar, 2017

Our need for passwords to access everything in our life has become pervasive. Every agency, every computer, every credit card, every smartphone requires an exponential explosion of letters, numbers, and symbols to secure all information from hackers, whether it is personal data or corporate information.

To complicate matters, it is no longer permissible (or advisable) on many sites to use a simple password that is easy to remember, such as a word or name. Instead you must create a password with numbers, special characters, upper and lower case letters, and a minimum length.

One study suggests the average individual has at least 25 Internet-accessible accounts with passwords, while other sources suggest that number could be substantially higher. Is it any wonder that most individuals will, whenever possible, assign the same password to as many accounts as they can? Hackers know this and once they compromise one account, it often doesn’t take long to gain access to your other accounts.

Use Different Passwords

The best means of protecting your personal information is to use a different, unguessable password for every account. Most password management software includes the ability to generate passwords, and then store them for you. The beauty of using a password manager is that you only have to remember one password to access all of the passwords you need to remember.

High-end password managers support multiple languages and are able to tie in passwords with hundreds of websites. Two-factor authentication is usually required (and should be!) to protect data in the event someone finds your password and logs in on your device or tries to log in on a new device that is not registered.

Set Up

Setting up a password management app generally requires you to download and install the software and add browser extensions for each browser you use. If you use multiple devices, you will need to load the app on each one. To set up an account, you will use your email address and will need to come up with a master password or passphrase (i.e., one long, hard-to-guess password to rule them all).

One primary password gives you access to all your passwords.

After creating the master password comes the arduous task of entering data about the various accounts or sites you need to access.

Some password managers will import your user names, auto fill standard information, and pull passwords from your existing browsers, although, if you haven’t saved the passwords in the browser, the data will have to be entered manually. The password manager will typically assess the strength of your current password, and prompt you to generate a new, stronger password (typically at least 16 characters) for that site. Experts also suggest that you revisit your security questions and determine whether you want to change them as an added security measure.

Don’t Forget Your Master Password

Unlike a typical website with a “forgot password?” feature, the master password is often not recoverable in that way. There are very few password manager systems that provide a “hint” to enable you to try to rebuild your password. For most, you will have to start all over and rebuild the passwords for every site and every account keystroke by keystroke. Commit your master password to memory; do not click “remember my password” for your master password; typing it often will help you to remember it.

Cost Factor

Most of the providers of password manager software provide free trial subscriptions; several offer a limited version of their software for free, with the ability to upgrade for additional features and support for an annual fee. Freebie options aside, password manager services typically range in price from $20 to $60 annually.

In Case of Emergency …

If a person is incapacitated or dead it will be impossible for someone else to access the accounts. It is important to ensure that the software used provides the ability to set up an emergency contact to inherit your passwords. Some providers allow you to set a waiting period before a trusted individual can access the codes so that the accounts cannot be accessed while you are alive. If someone tries to access your accounts, you will be notified by email. Other providers allow you to designate specific accounts, such as the business account, that can be accessed by specific people, such as your business partner, or to designate personal accounts to a trusted relative or friend.

Large Benefit for Small Cost

Strong passwords are a necessity for everyone, and we all tend to use passwords that are easy to crack; this makes us easy targets for nefarious people looking to steal our information, money or identities. Using a password manager is an inexpensive way of ensuring access to the ever-growing number of sites we must access in our interconnected world while making it difficult for anyone else to gain access to our personal and financial information.

By Ronald Klayman 13 Jan, 2017

Working while on the road, whether at nearby job sites or when travelling to distant locations, usually means taking a smartphone, laptop or tablet.

The ability to work almost anywhere in the world is marvellous; however, when we are working at a hotel, jobsite, vendor or client location, or even at the cottage, we often wish we had the same conveniences we have at home.

Before taking your next trip, you may wish to consider adding a few of these travel essentials to ensure that, if your makeshift workstation is more like your home office, you will be less fraught with concern about your ability to complete the project.

Productivity

  • For many, typing on the touch screens or keyboards provided on smartphones or laptops is inefficient and tiresome. Why not invest in a rechargeable portable keyboard that can be folded and placed into your briefcase? (Cost: approximately $20)
  • If you find your laptop’s built-in touchpad or pointing stick frustrating to use, try a miniature (travel-sized) wireless or USB mouse to make dragging and dropping a lot easier. (Cost: approximately $10)
  • Check your devices and determine what kind of battery they use. If any of your devices use separate disposable batteries, always ensure you have some spare AA or AAA batteries in the event your wireless keyboard or mouse dies at an inopportune moment. (Cost: approximately $2-5)
  • If you frequently need to enter numbers on the go, punching one number at a time into the top row on a laptop can be frustrating. An external USB numeric keypad will make this task go faster, be more efficient and less frustrating than one-finger typing. (Cost: approximately $10)

Always carry extra USB sticks to create backups or share data.

Communication and Storage

  • When you are on the road, Internet connectivity may not always be available, and even when it is available, there can be restrictions such as speed or port limitations. Before heading out on your trip, make sure you have copies of all the necessary files with you. Do not rely on the Internet to back up to the cloud or to transfer data to your office computer. Always carry one or two extra USB sticks to create backups or share data. Always check the USB stick for viruses after it has been plugged into any other computer. (Cost: approximately $10)
  • If you are using Skype or another video or audio conferencing app, have a high-quality set of headphones with a microphone to provide some confidentiality when addressing private issues. If possible, find a model that is compatible with all your devices, including your computer, mobile phone and tablet. (Cost: approximately $30)

Ready for Business

  • If you travel out of the office with any frequency, keep a dedicated power adaptor in your bag or briefcase. Grabbing your briefcase and heading out to a job site only to find that your battery is low and you have left the power cable at the office is not a good way to start a meeting or presentation. (Cost: approximately $50-100)
  • Changes in technology have created situations where devices are not always compatible with each other. It is best to have dongles to make sure you are covered for the most common ports that may not be built into your computer or device, such as VGA, HDMI and Ethernet. (Cost: approximately $20-30)
  • Older buildings were never designed to accommodate the proliferation of modern electronic needs and thus may not have electrical outlets close enough to be reached by your plug-in adapter. Consider a two-metre (six-foot) extension cord as part of your emergency kit. (Cost: approximately $5)
  • You would never think of plugging your laptop into a wall socket at the office without using a surge protector; yet, every time you plug in at another location, you are undoubtedly not using one. Perhaps it is time to carry a small and affordable wall-mount surge protector that will not only protect your computer or other device, but can also be used as a USB charging station. Quality surge protectors have swivel mounts to allow more adaptability, LEDs that verify the unit is working and provide surge suppression, low clamping voltage, shutdown technology, and EMI/RFI noise reduction. (Cost: approximately $15)
  • Many new vehicles have built in USB ports that allow you to plug in adapters to charge or run your devices. For vehicles that do not come with built-in USB charging ports, you can still take advantage of this “free” power source with a converter that steps down the 12 Volt output to the input voltage required by your device. Newer adapters will allow up to 4 USB plug-ins to allow additional units to be used or charged. (Cost: approximately $30)
  • If your vehicle does not already have a power outlet, you can plug a power inverter into the cigarette-lighter port to convert the 12 volt DC power into a 120 watt AC outlet like the standard electrical outlets you have at home and at the office. You can operate and charge your computer, or any other electronics using the standard plug without having to buy vehicle adaptors for each device. Read the specs or go online to ensure output amperage is compatible with the more sensitive devices being charged through the USB port. The downside of these units is that your vehicle battery will run down quickly unless the vehicle is running all the time. (Cost: approximately $60)

Start Filling Your Shopping Cart

The list of available technology to make life more bearable when you are working out of the office is almost endless. Putting together a travel kit of practical, inexpensive electronics can turn a potentially non-productive day filled with frustration and anxiety into a productive and successful venture — all for the low, low price of about $420.

By Klayman & Company 28 Nov, 2016

For the last 60 years, increasingly vast amounts of data have been stored primarily on magnetic hard disk drives (HDDs). Hard drives are capable of storing a huge amount of information, but they are mechanical devices and can be more delicate and a lot slower than more recent NAND (stands for negative-and logic gate) flash memory, which has no moving parts. NAND flash memory, sometimes called a solid state drive (SSD), has become ubiquitous as a storage medium since it is a compact, fast and fairly inexpensive alternative to the noisy hard drives currently used in computers, mobile phones, USB flash drives and memory cards, among other things.

While hard drives and NAND flash memory are great for data storage, mobile devices and computers also have a smaller amount of super-fast short-term memory called DRAM (dynamic random access memory). DRAM is quite a bit more expensive and, unlike your hard drive or SSD, the contents in memory are “volatile”, meaning whatever is stored disappears when you turn off your device.

But what if long-term storage could be as snappy as DRAM?

The new technology does not use transistors.

“You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”

Sometime in 2017/2018, a new memory and storage technology called 3D XPoint (pronounced 3D cross point), developed by Intel and Micron, will hit the market. The new technology is different from both NAND flash memory and DRAM in that it does not use transistors; instead, it uses a three-dimensional checkerboard structure that allows each memory cell to be addressed individually. The ability to read and write data in smaller increments is a huge advantage over flash memory, which is only able to store information in blocks of data.

How Fast Is Fast?

What makes this new technology so incredible and likeable is that it allows the user to take stupendous amounts of stored data and treat it as if it were in active memory rather than in traditional storage such as a hard drive or SSD flash drive. 3D XPoint memory is expected to read data three times faster, write four times faster and use 30% less power than NAND flash memory. That means it is not only faster than your current SSD or flash storage, but will help manufacturers to stretch the battery life a bit further once it is available in laptops and mobile phones.

How Much, You Ask?

We all know that those who purchase the newest technology pay the higher price and pave the way for those who wait for the technology to become mainstream. At the moment, a fixed price point has not been set in stone, but it has been suggested that 3D XPoint memory will cost about four or five times the current price of NAND flash drives.

Do I Really Need 3D XPoint?

For most owner-managers, today’s computers with their hard drive or SSD will be sufficient for everyday use. However, if your business applications require rapid data storage and transmission, whether for extensive analysis, high-performance databases, or simply for fast storage of immense amounts of data, this new technology is a game changer that will undoubtedly be worth the cost.

By Klayman & Company 30 Sep, 2016

Many owner-managers in their thirties and forties or even older not only have to run their businesses but also have to look after growing children as well as aging parents. These owner-managers are part of the so-called “sandwich generation,” trying to be successful business people but also caught between two levels of family responsibility. First, they have to cope with the physical and mental exhaustion of the job, then take on the responsibilities of caring for parents who might have reached the “critical-needs” point in their lives. Add to that the potential high costs associated especially with seniors’ residences and the time-consuming responsibilities of being power of attorney and it is little wonder the sandwich generation is looking for help. There are, of course, marginally beneficial tax breaks and social programs that assist, but these cannot meet the 24/7 on-call requirements needed by a concerned child of elderly parents.

New Software Available

Innovative software is now providing the means for many seniors to monitor their own activities without making a telephone call to their adult children. Most of these innovations require the seniors to have a properly installed computer or device with access to the Internet. An unlimited Internet service will avoid surprise overage charges.

An abundance of health-tracking software and apps are available to monitor their health, remind them of medications, and even track their nutritional needs. Setting up an easy-to-follow, step-by-step repetitive regime makes them more aware of their health needs and provides an easy tool to permit them to take charge of their own wellness. Caregivers can also use the program to determine whether the parent is following the program or medication set out by health providers.

New software can dispense medication and monitor its use.

Medication Management Software

Medication management systems can remind the user, dispense the medication and alert you, the caregiver, whether medications are being properly administered. The program can be set up to be accessed remotely by the adult caregiver. The base unit is installed in the senior’s home and can dispense medication at the proper dosage. Medication is inserted by the caregiver or a pharmacist into the cartridge. As many as 13 medications can be dispensed either singularly or in multiple doses. Within each cartridge is a memory chip that permits the pharmacist to access and enter each customer’s medical information when the label is generated. At the predetermined time, the medication is dropped into a cup for the individual to take. The system alerts the caregiver so the caregiver can phone the senior to make sure the medication has been taken. As well as dispensing medication, the system records information on compliance (i.e., how much of each medication is left). This information is accessible by the caregiver through a secure Internet connection.

Monitoring Devices

Smartphones combine the ability to chat back and forth and even face to face through Skype or Facetime so that you can more readily determine their physical state. Apps are also available that monitor the senior’s movements and enable you to know where they are at any time. Indeed, you can set geographic boundaries within which you feel the senior should travel, which can be tracked with an on-screen map. Software can be programmed to email you when they exit the area and when they return. Similar systems exist that allow monitoring of text messages and telephone calls to determine whether the senior is being “scammed” by a con-artist. It goes without saying that it would be wise to seek consent before installing such a procedure.

In cases of extreme dementia, monitoring with a smart phone may not work if the individual does not remember to carry the device with them. There are GPS trackers that are embedded in wrist bands, watches or devices that attach to clothing. The latest device embeds a tracker in the shoe that allows you to set the perimeters of travel so that the individual can be tracked once the perimeter is breached.

Medical Alert Systems

Medical alert systems enable elders to live within their own environment knowing that at the push of a button, an operator will respond. These systems are relatively inexpensive, from $28 to $33 per month. Live, two-way communication is provided through “emergency buttons” that can be worn on a belt, as a pendant or on a wrist band. The more sophisticated systems are equipped with waterproof sensors that can detect when an individual may have fallen. If the senior is unable to respond to the call-centre enquiry, the call-centre can immediately contact the caregiver.

Living at Home in Old Age

The insertion of unobtrusive and easy-to-use technology into seniors’ regular patterns of daily life allows the sandwich generation to softly interact with the senior(s) in their life while constantly monitoring the elders’ degree of need. The instant feedback provides the caregiver with the ability to make decisions to assist a senior who may not remember appointments, bills to pay, medication to take, or even the date of your next visit. Because time and financial resources available from caregivers are limited, any technology that extends an elder’s ability to stay within their home and live a happier life not only alleviates their anxiety about leaving the neighbourhood but allows caregivers to monitor and participate in the lives of elderly loved ones without always being on their doorstep.

By Klayman & Company 29 Jul, 2016

Even though the amount of printing being done today is declining because so much data can be stored for instant retrieval on hard drives or the Cloud, every small business should still have a printer. Today’s multi-function printer (MFP) provides an owner-managed office with most of the capabilities offered by a printing company but at a starting price of about $1,300 for colour and between $500 and $600 for black and white.

If you are considering replacing the old printer or cancelling your lease contract, consider the features now offered on printers that support both Mac and Windows operating systems and are not much bigger than a microwave oven.

Features

Most MFPs have the following features:

  • colour and black and white capability
  • ability to print on various media of varying size and weight as well as labels and vinyl
  • LCD touch screens
  • ability to print from a USB and to scan to the USB
  • ability to scan and send to a personal computer
  • ability to print forms stored on a website
  • ability to scan on a flatbed scanner
  • automatic feeders allowing scanning of multiple documents as well as duplexing pages to cut back on paper costs
  • preview ability on the control panel allowing you to print only the pages needed
  • ability to join your wireless network (WiFi) and print right from your smartphone or tablet. (You may need to purchase this option separately.)
  • Ethernet ready (Check to be sure in case there are wireless communication issues within your environment.)
  • memory in off-the-shelf units: 512 MB or 1 GB, with expansion to 3 GB or more (more memory allows the printer to handle larger or more complex documents, such as images)
  • duty cycles up to 150,000 pages per month and eliminating the replacement of costly imaging components
  • rated to print from a low of 700 pages a month to 25,000 pages a month
  • printing speed for most printers in the range of 40 ppm in colour mode and 50 ppm or greater for mono
  • starting to print within five seconds if “on” and within 20 seconds if “sleeping”
  • resolution to 2400×1200 dpi if finer detail or richer colour saturation is required.

A monthly warranty can cost as little as popcorn and a movie.

Low-Priced Warranty Package

Up to now, small businesses could never afford a printer that offered all these features. Most small businesses leased a printer and paid a per-page charge for warranty and service. State-of-the-art MFPs from reputable manufacturers carry at least a one-year guarantee and offer extended onsite warranty packages from two to five years for a monthly cost equivalent of popcorn and a movie.

By Ronald Klayman 26 May, 2016

TeamViewer

Two similar and occasionally underrated tools for business are remote control of other devices and screen sharing. Screen sharing is a critical tool, not just for one-way meetings and presentations, but also for interactive collaboration among colleagues in different locations. Remote control is useful not only for troubleshooting and technical support, but also as a convenient way of using multiple separate computers or devices from a single workstation, regardless of where the computers are physically located.

In the screen-sharing camp, tools such as GotoMeeting, join.me and Skype for Business are also popular. For remote control, in addition to built-in or bundled options such as Windows Remote Desktop, Chrome Remote Desktop, and Mac OS X Screen Sharing, more feature-rich or cross-platform tools are also available, such as various VNC-based tools like RealVNC.

TeamViewer includes both functions, and supports a wide range of platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Chrome OS on the desktop, and Android, iOS, Windows and BlackBerry on mobile. This app is free for non-commercial use such as family and friends; one-time commercial licences start at CDN$759.

Scanner by JotNot Pro

Ever want to make a copy of a client quote or a sales document while at a remote location but had no photocopier or scanner with you? For simple tasks, the built-in camera app and email might be sufficient to snap a picture and send it by email. A dedicated scanning app, such as Scanner by JotNot Pro, may offer features like cropping and image processing to tidy up the picture and then save it as a PDF or JPEG.

Once the scan is complete you can send it off by email or into iCloud, Dropbox or a number of other storage facilities. The software allows you to password-protect files, sort data by name or date or rename or delete files on your smartphone.

By importing a Word or PDF document into your smartphone and entering the fax number, a fax can be sent to any U.S. or Canadian fax number by simply tapping the Send icon.

Consider a video conferencing app for your business.

Video Conferencing

Video and voice conferencing are useful business tools to connect colleagues, vendors and clients. Skype allows for video and audio communication and is widely available on nearly any platform including desktop operating systems, mobile devices, and even Xbox consoles.

Skype for Business (formerly Lync), however, is an internal business communications tool, generally for medium or large-sized companies, that now comes bundled with Microsoft Office 365.

Many other video conferencing apps can be considered for your business. Apple’s Facetime, included for free on Apple’s devices, may be suitable if most of the people you work with primarily use iOS or a Mac. Unfortunately, Facetime is not cross-platform compatible. Google Hangouts is a free Google platform alternative which, in addition to Android, is also available for iOS and most computers via a web browser.

Margin Calculator

Although fully functioning spreadsheet apps such as Microsoft Excel, Apple Numbers or Google Sheets can handle more than just margins and taxes. For quick answers to relatively simple problems, an app such as iMargin (iOS), or Margin Markup Calculator (Android) might suit your purpose.

The software instantly calculates the markup or margin to keep a reasonable profit when negotiating the sale. If you want to determine a markup based on a selling price, enter the cost and the selling price, and the markup amount and percentage are displayed. Selling to a foreign entity? Some apps offer an upgrade for an additional fee to include a currency converter, although there is always the free option to convert currency via a separate app.

AirDroid

Big fingers, little keyboard, make typing, dragging or accessing items on your smartphone a productivity nightmare. Enter AirDroid 3, an app that allows access to everything on your Android phone through your Windows or Mac computer or web browser.

The free app can be enhanced with other features such as unlimited file transfer by remote transfer with one GB for Windows or Mac and 100 MB with Web. You also have the ability to connect six devices to the software using one AirDroid account. The app also allows you to see through the lens of your camera remotely and will take pictures of individuals attempting to unlock your smartphone. And it also permits dialing phone numbers remotely from the Web and talking on the phone. The premium app costs US$1.99 per month or US$19.99 annually.

If you use an iOS device and a Mac, there is no need for an app like AirDroid since many of those capabilities are already included for free, such as Handoff, AirDrop, AirPlay and iCloud.

Android Device Manager/Find my iPhone

Anyone who has lost their wallet or handbag knows the gut-wrenching panic that sets in knowing the problems that arise with lost identification. Magnify that 100 times when your smartphone, with all client contacts, emails, and calendar data is lost. Both Android Device Manager (for Android devices) and Find my iPhone (for iOS devices) are a free-platform solution. For peace of mind, you should install this app on your smartphone as soon as you get it. Both apps allow you to locate the devices tied to your Google or Apple account, respectively. For a selected device, you can lock the screen (requiring a password), display a message and, if necessary, erase all data on the phone. Both services allow tracking via the app, which is useful if you have another device on the same platform, such as from a tablet; both can also be accessed on a PC via a website.

By Klayman & Company 31 Mar, 2016

It may sometimes seem that nearly every aspect of our lives is recorded. Although we may choose to record and share some of our moments on social media platforms, many more typically mundane moments are captured by security cameras that monitor the public and private spaces of our society. If you think your business could benefit from a surveillance system, take care to consider your options before making a purchase.

Advantages

There are two key elements to a video surveillance system: the recording system and the cameras themselves. As an owner or manager of a business, there are plenty of advantages to considering a video surveillance, or closed-circuit television (CCTV) system as a part of your business’ security. Some of the benefits may include:

·      deterring crimes such as theft and vandalism

·      protecting employees

·      monitoring key entry points, areas and assets

·      monitoring machinery and production processes

·      providing evidence in the event of an incident

Cameras

A higher resolution camera, such as high definition (HD) 1080p will produce much more detailed images than a lower resolution camera. The ability to make out a face, or a licence plate clearly could be quite important. Many security camera models capture 15-30 frames per second (fps); a higher frame rate will provide smoother video. While a higher resolution and frame rate are clearly better both require more storage capacity.

If you have a large area to cover, you might consider cameras with a wide-angle lens. You may also want to consider zoom lenses to allow close up videos when required. Be sure to use outdoor cameras for outdoor installation; indoor models may not be sufficiently resistant to the elements, or durable to vandals.

Recording System

Secure storage of the recorded images is the heart of your surveillance system. Security images can be recorded using a dedicated appliance such as a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) or Network Video Recorder (NVR), a PC or even in the Cloud. The number of cameras the system can support may be limited by the hardware, software or even licences; whichever type of system you choose, be sure to leave room to expand.

Traditional CCTV systems are simpler to set up and more secure than their networked cousins because they use dedicated analogue coaxial cabling to transmit their images. A DVR receives the camera signals, processes the images and stores them in a compressed digital format that can be retrieved for later playback. A PC with both video-capture hardware and recording software can also perform the same task. In both cases, the hardware physically limits the number of video feeds that can be recorded.

Digital IP-based cameras can be more complex to set up, but the use of Internet standards provide for greater flexibility; IP cameras use Ethernet cables, or even WiFi, just like the other devices on your network. Aside from technological differences, an NVR serves much the same purpose as a DVR; the hardware may, however, limit the number of video signals it can receive and store. A PC with the right software can also be used to receive, store and play back video from your IP cameras; specialized hardware is not required. Many IP systems also allow live or stored video to be retrieved remotely, commonly via a web interface or even a mobile app.

An IP-based camera system can be recorded in the Cloud for a subscription fee.

If you prefer a more hands-off solution, an IP-based camera system can be recorded in the Cloud for a subscription fee. Keep in mind that this may require a lot more Internet bandwidth than if you just store your video locally. IP-based systems do require extra security – like the rest of the computers and devices on your network, they can be hacked.

Regardless of whether you choose CCTV or an IP-based system, storage capacity is an extremely important consideration. The video resolution, frame rate, number of camera feeds and length of time you need to keep your recordings will dictate the minimum amount of hard drive space you need. When the storage runs out, older recordings will be replaced by new ones; more capacity to start with is better.

Do Not Do It Yourself

The many technical, mounting, transmission and security issues that accompany installation of surveillance cameras suggest hiring outside experts to install the equipment is the preferred way to go. When one considers camera requirements, weather conditions, positioning for maximum transmission and recording along with wiring, DVR/NVR placement, not to mention a service contract and warranty, spending a few dollars for installation is a smart expenditure.

Legal Issues

Even though the use of surveillance cameras in the workplace is quite common, Canadian courts are not in favour of the frivolous use of surveillance that infringes upon an employee’s right to privacy. The key question that must be answered before installing surveillance cameras in the workplace is: “Should the employee have a reasonable expectation of privacy?” As such, constant monitoring in the workplace may be frowned upon. Where cameras are installed in general areas, consider posting notices in conspicuous places to indicate the area is monitored. Such signs remove any doubt as to the expectation of privacy. If in doubt, it may be prudent to seek legal advice before installing a new surveillance system.

Plan Ahead

Before making a decision to buy a surveillance system, consider the needs of your business, your budget limitations and the legal aspects of installing cameras. If you decide to proceed, get equipment designed for commercial use. Avoid consumer-grade components which may be less durable and provide less flexibility. Buy the best you can afford.

By Klayman & Company 27 Jan, 2016

According to Transport Canada, automobile collisions in 2013 resulted in 165,306 personal injuries, of which 10,315 were serious and 1,923 were fatal. These statistics do not take into account the thousands of fender-benders that are not included in Transport Canada’s data. According to the Allstate 2015 Safe Driving Study, rear end collisions accounted for 25% of all accidents while turning at intersections was a close second at nearly 24%. Interestingly, almost 14% of reported accidents involved a parked vehicle.

Owner-managers have need to be concerned about accidents in company-driven vehicles. It may be worth considering outfitting your company-owned vehicles with an onboard camera, better known as simply a dashcam. Typically, a dashcam is used to continuously record video through the windshield. Having a dashboard camera in your vehicles could provide evidence regarding an accident which may help to mitigate legal or settlement costs, as well as to provide detail to establish the driver’s responsibility.

Must-Have Features

Get the best video resolution you can afford; for better results consider models that record in at least 1080p High Definition (1920 x 1080 pixels); additionally, quality night recording capability is a must.

The viewing angle (i.e., how much of the world the camera can see) is an important consideration. A wide-angle lens such as 160-degrees may capture more in the frame but may produce a more distorted image; narrower lenses are more likely to pick up sharper details.

Loop recording automatically overwrites the oldest footage.

Almost all dashcams should have loop recording that automatically overwrites the oldest recording when the storage card becomes full. Choose a dashcam with a G-sensor . The G-sensor automatically indicates when the vehicle is involved in a collision or if there is a need for emergency braking. This specific footage will not be deleted by the loop recording. Given the number of claims involving a parked vehicle, a motion detector feature may prove handy. Upper-tier dashcams should incorporate a buffered parking mode that continuously records what is happening while the vehicle is parked but does not record to memory unless stimulated by the G-force sensor or by the visual motion detector program.

Auto start should be standard. Every time the vehicle is started the dashcam should start recording automatically so that the driver does not have to remember to turn the device on. On the flip side is the need for automatic shut off to avoid draining the vehicle’s battery.

Battery drain is a problem with some dashcam models because they run off the vehicle’s power. Consider models that either contain their own battery for when the car is off, or can automatically shut off when they detect the vehicle’s battery is getting too low to start the engine.

You may wish to consider a unit with a GPS option . Having GPS support most likely does not include any navigation assistance, but it can record the exact speed and position of the vehicle. Some units have the GPS built in and others can connect to an existing GPS device to receive that data.

Date and time stamp are a must. That said make sure the date and time are set up properly. Check the settings occasionally and recalibrate as necessary.

Forward-looking cameras are great, except that when one considers that 25% of accidents happen from behind, it makes sense to consider a Dual Channel model: in addition to the forward-facing camera, some units include a second camera that can be used to look through the rear-view mirror or be mounted in the rear-window.

In that dashcams are mounted at the top and near the centre of the windshield ensure that the power cord is long enough to permit concealment in the vehicle’s window seals whether or not the device is plugged into the dash power source or directly mounted to the vehicle power source.

Memory is extremely important. The more memory available, the longer the camera can run without having to over-write older video. Some units may include a smaller memory card than the maximum they can support. Because memory cards are relatively inexpensive, you may wish to consider maxing out the memory. Do not settle for less than a 64 GB SD card; 128 GB would be even better.

WiFi ranges from a useful feature to an absolute must, depending on the model. Some models include a built-in LCD screen to view and replay recordings right on the device. However, for models that do not include a screen, you may be able to view and download videos from the dashcam to a smartphone or tablet using a WiFi connection. WiFi also allows an easy way to retrieve videos from the dashcam without having to remove the physical memory card.

Check Provincial Regulations

It should be noted that at least one manufacturer combines a radar-detector product with dashcams, which can help users share information on radar and red light cameras, as well as other traffic issues. Before purchasing these devices, check with your province as to whether the units are legal. Further, if vehicles will cross provincial boundaries it would be prudent to determine which provinces discourage or have outlawed radar detectors; the penalties may range from confiscation of the device to stiff fines.

Expensive But Worth It

Inexpensive dashcams can be found for under $100; however, feature-rich models will likely cost about $400-500 per vehicle. Having a recording from a high-end dashcam can go a long way to providing evidence in the event of an accident or a fraudulent insurance claim. As well, they will provide information to monitor employees’ driving habits and check the routes being driven.

Can your business afford to be without a dashcam?

 

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

Because lighting, heating and cooling represent 19%-25% of the cost of operating a commercial business, control of energy costs is essential to improving profit margins. A reduction of even 10% in these costs can produce a significant improvement. But, because Canada is located in a part of the world where temperatures can range from 40C below zero to 35C above, it is inevitably expensive to keep internal temperatures at levels needed to maintain comfortable working conditions through the changing seasons.

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

Setting the price point for your product or service is not simply the process of determining the cost of production then adding a mark-up. It is more a matter of understanding the price the consumer will accept as the value of your product or service and keeping the costs of production to a level that will give you a profit at that price.

By Klayman & Company 16 Aug, 2017

The significant rise in the cost of equipment, vehicles, real estate, and inventory has prompted many businesses to increase business debt. Low interest rates, combined with the ability to obtain larger loans with extended payment terms, have allowed businesses to operate in a “business as usual” mode with less consideration for the actual cost of borrowing.

To give some idea of the effect of even low interest rates on an owner-managed business, the following key elements of most businesses have been put forward as an example of the effect of interest costs on a business. The effect of domestic borrowing has been added to show the full impact of current interest rates on the owner-manager. Since lending rates vary widely depending on a variety of factors such as risk, item to be funded and the term, and are usually negotiated, the interest rates used below have been chosen at random from Internet sources; calculations are approximate and for illustrative purposes only . All loans have been made effective June 1, 2017.

  • Commercial mortgage: $600,000 over 25 years at 3%
  • Two work vehicles: $120,000 financed over five years at 6%
  • Equipment loan: $200,000 financed over five years at 5%
  • Operating line of credit: $50,000 at 3% a year
  • Credit card debt: $10,000 at 15% a year on the outstanding balance

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