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Fall is approaching rapidly, and besides the wonderful weather, falling leaves, and shorter days, it also means that students are returning to school.  In that spirit, we have compiled some of the best tech for college students.  We are not going to talk about dorms or apartments–these items are a matter of personal tastes and so many articles have covered them it is unlikely we could break new ground.  Instead, we have spoken with college students and ascertained what tech they cannot live without.  In other words, if you only buy a few things for your student this fall, these are the things to purchase.

Backpacks. No matter where you send your child to college, whether it be an urban campus like NYU or Georgia State, or a more traditional, insular college like Carleton College or Cornell, they are going to need a way to tote their books, notebooks, laptop, and tech to and from classes. Today’s backpacks aren’t like the old-school rucksack made of canvas and straps.  The best backpacks need to have compartments for cords and tech, need to be water-resistant, and need to be sturdy enough to protect the contents should the bag fall or drop.  Some of the higher end versions can even charge devices and include a hard drive. Here are the picks from the students we surveyed.  Co-alition and AMPL are both gadget-oriented picks if a bit on the pricey side.  Herschel backpacks are the college-student gold standard, and at a price of less than $100, can be replaced easily should they tear.  The North Face also has a wide variety of sturdy backpacks at all price ranges.

Laptop. Forget the tablets. They are hard to type on and remember that this list is about absolute necessity.  A well-made laptop with plenty of memory, options for gaming, and high functionality is a must.  Students will be doing everything from taking notes in class to researching term papers and coordinating their social lives on this machine. Even if money is tight, there are great options for every budget. If portability is the most important issue, look into an Apple MacBook Air. For creative types, the 2017 MacBook Pro, with its gorgeous display, is a great option. For a durable, powerful option with great features and 8G of memory, the Asus ZenBook UX330 is a fantastic option at a great price. If the price of tech is overwhelming for you, eBay has a great site with refurbished technology.

Headphones. For parents, this may seem frivolous.  They managed to get through their 4 years of college without them.  Bear in mind that Millennials and Generation Z are used to a barrage of constant white noise, what with people on their phones, typing on laptops, and watching videos. Every student we spoke with said that the ability to be able to block out distractions and listen to music or podcasts while they study is imperative. Headphones offer a portal to focus on the task at hand.  Audio-Technica has a great wired version at a good price, while wireless fans can find quality,  bargain-priced versions through BeatsX or SkullCandy.

Apps.  Many apps that are helpful for students are free, but if you do want to purchase one that you can be sure they will use, Amazon Prime for Students is probably the best choice. They have great deals on items that students would want, including textbooks. It also gives your student an option for entertainment when they need to unwind, because Amazon video has a staggering choice. For on-campus safety,  Circle of 6 is a great app to reassure nervous parents. To make the deluge of group projects easier on your student, try GroupMe.  To help with studying, Brainscape offers a nifty app to create flashcards. To facilitate and encourage your student to call home more often, make sure to install FaceTime or Google Hangouts. The list is endless, and many apps are either low- or no-cost, which is great for students (and parents) on a budget.


If you are a college student and need to amp up your resume and earn a bit of pocket money at the same time, Commercient is offering paid internships in a variety of positions.

Have you ever wondered what the world’s most successful CEOs do in their daily lives? Do they deprive themselves of sleep? Do they spend all of their time in the office?  We peered into the routines of world’s most successful CEOs and found that most of them have five daily habits in common. We’re not saying you have to emulate their habits exactly, but if you are trying to grow your business it might help to tweak a few of your habits.

They are early risers…

Unsurprisingly, we found that most, if not all, of the world’s most successful CEOs are early risers. For instance, Apple CEO Tim Cook “Wakes up at 3:45 every morning–yes, every morning”. He then does email for an hour, stealing a march on those lazy East Coasters three time zones ahead of him, then goes to the gym, visits Starbucks for more email, then finally to the office to work. ‘The thing about it is, when you love what you do, you don’t really think of it as work. It’s what you do. And that’s the good fortune of where I find myself,” according to Time.

Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, also starts his day early; he begins around 5:00 a.m. to “Workout, read, and tinker with the site, and hang out with his middle daughter,” according to the Guardian. And Ursula Burns, the CEO of Xerox, starts her day around 5:15 a.m. and uses the time to get caught up on emails or fit in a workout, according to Business Insider.

As studies show, people who start their day early are more proactive and more productive, so try learning from the pros and start your day early – you’ll get more things done.

…But they don’t deprive themselves of sleep

Many of the world’s most successful CEOs also make it a priority to get enough hours of sleep. For instance, Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of the Huffington Post, once collapsed from sleep deprivation because of her 18-hour work days. She now says,  “My single most-effective trick for getting things done is to stop doing what I’m doing and get some sleep. There is nothing that negatively affects my productivity and efficiency more than lack of sleep. After years of burning the candle on both ends, my eyes have been opened to the value of getting some serious shut-eye.”

Huffington is not the only one who considers a good night’s sleep a necessity for success. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, said in a Product Hunt AMA, “I sleep from 11-5a usually. Blackout shades help. Meditation and exercise!”

If you are staying up late every night trying to get more work done, you might want to reconsider that habit. Sleep deprivation can cause many issues, including depression, accidents, and a myriad of health problems. Take a lesson from Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo, who in 2014 missed an important dinner with top executives because she took a nap. At that point, she had been awake for 20 hours and felt that she would be ineffective without some sleep.

They exercise their minds…

In addition to starting the day early and getting enough sleep, the world’s most successful CEOs also have voracious reading habits. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, for example, reads every night and makes his way through about 50 books every year. He wrote on his blog, “Reading books is my favorite way to learn about a new topic. I’ve been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading.”

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet also finds time to read. He would read up to 1,000 pages a day when he started his investing career and still dedicates about 80% of each day to reading.

If reading seems like a waste of time to you, consider this: studies show that people who read a lot are more likely to be successful. The next time you make your to-do list, try adding a book to the list. You might learn something valuable.

…and they exercise their bodies regularly

The average person does not get the recommended amount of exercise each week. However, the world’s most successful CEOs make sure they include exercise into their daily routines. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said during a Q&A session on Facebook, “Staying in shape is very important. Doing anything well requires energy, and you just have a lot more energy when you’re fit.” Zuckerberg likes to work out at least three times a week. He claims that it’s the first part of his morning routine.

Like Zuckerberg, CEO of Virgin Group Richard Branson also includes exercise into his daily routine. Branson begins each day at 5:00 am and starts it with exercise. He is devoted to both running and cycling and told FourYourBodyPress, “I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit. It keeps the brain functioning well.”  

A study published in the Journal Labor of Research shows that employees who work out regularly earn 9% more than those who don’t exercise at all. If you add exercise to your routine, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll have more energy to complete your daily tasks.  It may also help you be more productive than your less active co-workers.

 They know when to unwind

Managing a company can be stressful, and you’ll find that the world’s most successful CEOs find time to meditate. Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff, for instance, started to meditate because he says his job at Oracle was so demanding.

He told the San Francisco Chronicle “I enjoy meditation, which I’ve been doing for over a decade — probably to help relieve the stress I what as going through when I was working at Oracle.” Meditation can not only help you relieve stress, but it can help you sleep better, and improve the quality of life for you and those around you, and much more. Marc Benioff, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Dorsey, Arianna Huffington and many other business leaders utilize meditation to great effect.

They take advantage of technology

Successful CEOs know they can’t do it all. With technology, now it’s possible to automate many on-going, time consuming tasks in order to dedicate valuable time to what matters: get more business and keep customers happy. They take time to find out what’s out there, give new technologies a try (such as the cloud and IoT) and make the most out of them to help their companies grow.

Have you upgraded your daily to-do list yet?


SYNC Demo integrate CRM ERP

Are you heading out on vacation? Keep your electronics, and your secure data, safe with these 5 tips. Here is our weekly tech blog, with a summer-inspired twist.

For folks in the United States, this past weekend was Memorial Day, which is the unofficial beginning of summer. Almost 700 million North Americans go on vacation between late May and September. If you reside in the Northern hemisphere, summer is starting in just a few weeks.  This means balmy days and lazy nights,  barbecues, and of course, vacations.

Many of you will be taking trips to celebrate the long days and beautiful weather. Wherever you and your family decide to go, make sure that your electronics, and the information that is on your devices, stays secure. Here are some tips to keep your technology safe while you are away from home; or if disaster strikes, how to keep erstwhile thieves from getting access to sensitive information.

  1. Password protect everything. This should be common practice for all devices anyway, but it’s worth saying again. In addition, don’t be lazy and come up with a password that could be cracked by a toddler. If you have trouble remembering your passwords–and who doesn’t–a password management app like LastPass can help without compromising your data. I cannot stress this point enough, but a great password can keep most hackers from access to your data at least long enough for you to locate your device and do some damage control.
  2. If the worst happens, and you need to do damage control, there are several solutions available to you. If thieves do get your phone or laptop, there are remote-wipe apps available, like this solution from ESET. If using a third-party app makes you nervous, Android’s Device Manager (ADM) or Apple’s iCloud remote services can help.  I recommend setting these features up before you leave so that you can get the device’s sensitive information erased instantly. Let’s face it, if your device disappears, you are not going to be thinking clearly. You need something that is going to keep your information out of the wrong hands.  You will also not be responsible for any charges that might accrue.
  3. Consider going electronically “naked”. Yes, I know that the very idea of putting away your devices is anathema for some of you. But hear me out. If you are heading to paradise, you should relax and enjoy the scenery, not spend hours on your phone. In addition, cell service might be sparse or nonexistent in really remote places anyway. Places like Russia or China are both notorious for hackers, so why set yourself up for a security issue? If you absolutely need a cell phone for safety reasons, why not get one of those temporary plans with the cheap phones that come with it? That way, if it goes missing you are out less than $100 and nobody can get access to your bank accounts.
  4. Avoid public access wifi. You have several options here. Set up a VPN, if possible. You can also use your phone as a wifi hotspot. If none of these ideas works for you, at the very least, avoid doing any shopping or banking on hotel or airport wifi. Again, this should be common sense, but if your iPad is the only thing that calms a snarky toddler, any parent can lose sight of cybersafety.
  5. Don’t make yourself a target. Be aware of your surroundings; if someplace looks sketchy, it probably is. Keep your devices locked up in the hotel, and don’t show off your possessions by having them out constantly. You should be looking at the view around you anyway, not at your phone. Be aware that pickpockets are rampant in places like Prague, Hanoi, and Barcelona, so having expensive electronics in easily accessible spots is like having a big neon sign saying, “iPhone here” hovering over you.

Travel can be stressful, but using common sense and protecting yourself from the outset can make it less so. Enjoy your trip and stay safe!