Horse Sense #107

Toys for Techs (tm)

This e mail is NOT about the holiday consumer buying frenzy, but about your business needs (though some Toys for Techs (tm) make great personal gifts as well). Toys for Techs is not just for the holidays. You can do it any time and I encourage you to do so.

Horse Sense is meant to be useful for long periods of time and few ideas have proven more useful than Toys for Techs. Everyone who has implemented Toys for Techs has seen positive results in their business. It is fun, serves a legitimate business purpose, improves communications, and helps people understand what others are doing in their jobs.

If you are Ebenezer Scrooge, you can stop reading now. But, if you want to know more about how you can make Toys for Techs work for you and bring happiness to techy girls and boys, take a look at these older Toys for Techs posts going back 10 years! [We've been regaling our clients with Toys for Techs for even longer!] : (the rules on Toys for Techs) (more ideas) (still more) (restated rules and more ideas--Best to READ FIRST) (more toys and green ideas) (more ideas)

You may well be able to deduct your Toy expenses as business expenses. See

Here are some of my newer Toy ideas:

-Even if it is working now, you might want to ditch it. Old printers and computers actually cost you money in business. End of Life (EOL) products can be a real danger to you and your business. For example, Microsoft will cease supporting Windows XP [released August 24, 2001] entirely April 8, 2014. You will not get any security, reliability or performance updates after that. As of December, 2013, there are millions of Windows XP machines happily chugging away. Now is the time to think about upgrading not only XP, but Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 PCs to Windows 8.1. On the same hardware, Windows 8.1 boots at least 36% faster, gives you 13% longer battery life, uses 22% less memory, works better with modern hardware, and takes up less storage than anything pre-Windows 8. Exchange and Windows 2003 support dies shortly after XP support dies.

-HP, Xerox, and others have been raising their prices on their laser toner cartridges. Consider trying out recycled or third party (new) toners. You can save quite a bit of money by doing so. But, do not use just anyone's products. The ones we sell are guaranteed to work, guaranteed to satisfy, and guaranteed not to cause any problem with your printer or its warranty (or they will repair or replace your printer).

-Many "it would be nice" type toys can be real boons. Once you get them, you will wonder how you lived without them. Consider wireless noise cancelling headsets for those who talk on the phone or video conference via their PC a lot. Or ear phones for those who watch training videos. Or a better laptop bag for the employee on the go. Or a nice mouse for someone who mouses around a lot. Or a noise abatement enclosure for your servers and other equipment so you can put them anywhere and they will not drown out conversations. Or a fire extinguisher that not only satisfies code requirements but will not kill your electronic equipment if you have to spray the area. Or computer gaming glasses, tinting, or help paying for prescription computer glasses so employees can work at their computers with less eye strain. Or a charger for both the home and office so they do not have to carry the charger with the laptop all the time. Or a laptop cooler to put that laptop at the right angle for typing and keep it cooler so it will last longer and the laptop's little internal fan will not be making a lot of noise trying to keep it cool. Or a cell phone booster for the car or office so you can not only maintain that critical call but compute in what otherwise might be a "dead zone." Or...

-It is hard to beat a system tuneup for usefulness. I have made recommendations over the years for Ninite, FileHippo Updater, Diskeeper, and CCleaner with CCEnhancer. Removing old software is helpful. Sometimes rebuilding the machine is even the way to go. In any case, arranging for a tuneup is a great idea. Perhaps your network or whole computing environment could use a tuneup. When was the last time you had an outside professional look at and/or fix your computing tools? Most service their cars more faithfully than their computing tools yet they "drive" their computers more each day.

-Some great technologies still are not being used enough. Windows XP is way out of date and is costly to use and support versus newer versions of Windows. Gigabit Ethernet is a very inexpensive upgrade now and even 10 Gigabit Ethernet is quite affordable. Solid state drives are a "must have" for notebooks and a "seriously, you do NOT have one?" for servers. Large USB 3 flash drives are an affordable and fast way to move lots of data around without a network. Disk defragmentation software can keep your machines operating like new. Please do not use your old tried and true hand tools in your business when power tools are available, upgrades are cheap, and you can easily justify these business "Toys."

-Here is an easy one: Since so many people are using touch screen devices these days, keep a bunch of microfiber cloths and eyeglass and screen safe liquid spray cleaner around. Be careful NOT to use window cleaner which can remove anti-glare coatings.

Of course, you should always call the elves at Iron Horse. Heck, we don't even care if you have been naughty!

©2013 Tony tirk, Iron Horse