Top Trends At CES 2014

CES logoCES stands for the Consumer Electronics Show and it is the biggest show of the year when it comes to the latest in consumer electronics and innovation! The Consumer Electronics Show is held every year in early January at Las Vegas Nevada. It not only brings all of the largest consumer electronics manufacturers to one place, but also some companies you may not have heard of yet.

If you follow tech news throughout the year, then you can most likely predict what will be unveiled during CES. Despite the predictions and rumors, you still managed to be surprised. The two biggest trends this year were wearable technology and TV’s.

Wearable technology has absolutely exploded in the industry in the past 2 years. With such pieces like Google Glass and Pebble smartwatches, everyone is trying to get a taste of this “new” market. Companies such as Samsung, Epson, and Razer have also been featured with wearable technology. Check out some of the product links at the end of the article.

TV’s and other home entertainment devices are always a wonder to see at CES. This year was no exception. Two devices come to mind out of all others. Vizio’s 120 inch, Ultra HD (4K) “Reference” series TVs stole the show being the biggest and most vivid of CES 2014. Samsung brought something else to the game this year, a curved TV. Using bendable LED technology Samsung offers curved screen TV’s from 55″ to 110″. They even offer a TV that goes from curved to straight in a matter of seconds.

Check out the links below for more details of these awesome products:

Marketing And Its Relationship To Information Technology

Marketing Meets ITHow often does the marketing department of a firm need to understand and utilize tools of technology today?  The answer is-a lot.  In this day and age, marketers need to not only understand the customer through research and surveying, but they also need to hone in on information in an organized way.  Interpreting data requires many technical skills that often people do not realize. The ability to create graphs electronically, run data queries and utilize a slew of programs to assemble a perfect slide deck, are vital for marketers.  In turn, the marketing goals of the business inherently shape the overall decision makers.

You won’t find a marketing department in many of the larger firms without a CRM, or customer relationship management, software in place.  These programs are often heavily customized during use to extract the most pertinent data collected through research of populations/customer bases, and analyzed for trending.  A marketing professional must truly understand what information they are looking for and know how to get the information they need – i.e. know the software inside and out.  Successful analysis requires core knowledge of a company’s current situation and department-wide goals, as well as some detailed IT-related skills.

Currently, IT departments are working more closely with their marketing arms to understand the customer, as well as their separate channels and ultimate goals. By appreciating these factors, businesses can focus on how to approach customers and the most important products to invest time and energy creating. Organizing a unified goal among departments is key for businesses to prosper, and sharing this important information requires knowledge of technology and its programs.

For a great article detailing the relationship between marketing and IT, please click on the below link:

Solid State Drives

If you’re interested in computing technology, you’re probably already quite familiar with the term “solid state drive.”  Solid state drives, or SSDs, are a fairly new hard drive technology that stores your computer’s data on a stationary flash medium, rather than on a rotating disk like old HDDs.  SSDs are exceptionally fast, able to achieve data read and write speeds hundreds of times faster than HDDs, and are also more mechanically reliable since they contain no moving parts.  However, as a relatively new technology, they are still prohibitively expensive for many functions.  If you’re interested in upgrading your hard drive to an SSD, though, you have several options to reduce cost.

840PROThe first option is simply to wait.  As with most new technologies, SSD costs have been tumbling, decreasing by a factor of three over the past three years.  Currently, a 512GB Samsung 840 Pro can be had for $429 or a 256GB model for $214; these prices are sure to continue falling.  If your computer’s boot time and performance are fine as-is and you’re on a tight budget, waiting to upgrade could be your best bet.

If you’re using a desktop PC, a second option is to install a small boot SSD and keep the remainder of your files on a larger HDD.  Putting your operating system and core applications on a 64GB or 128GB SSD will significantly decrease your boot time and application start time, while avoiding the prohibitive cost of a larger model.  You can then store the rest of your files on your existing HDD and take advantage of the cheaper storage space.  Unfortunately, this solution is only really feasible for a desktop PC; very few laptops have the physical internal space to accommodate an additional hard drive.

Finally, a third option that will work for almost any PC is to upgrade to a fusion drive.  A fusion drive is a single hard drive that contains a small SSD partition and a larger HDD partition.  The drive firmware automatically moves your operating system and most frequently-used files and applications to the SSD portion, providing rapid access to the things you need most, and stores the rest on the larger HDD portion.  Fusion drives offer read/write speeds that can approach those of an SSD under optimal circumstances for a significantly reduced cost.  Additionally, fusion drives can be installed in laptops as well as desktop PCs, since both the SSD and HDD sectors are contained in a single drive enclosure and exposed to the operating system as a single hard disk.

As SSD prices continue to fall, this exciting new technology will become affordable for more and more computer users.  Here at Omnispear, we’re always staying on top of the latest technology to provide top-quality IT support to our clients.  For quotes or inquiries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Photoshop Tutorial – Using Clipping Masks

One of the most common techniques used in Photoshop is masking. It is used to show or hide different parts of an image, usually based on either a color or shape. Clipping masks are handy when a specific shape area needs to be revealed. We use them often when creating buttons or teaser elements that have rounded corners or special shapes that require an image as a background.

In this tutorial we will demonstrate how to create a set of teaser buttons using the clipping mask technique. We often encounter a page element that has a repetitive design or shape but requires different backgrounds to represent its unique purpose. The main benefit of this technique is that once the mask is created it may be applied to as many layers as needed to accomplish your design goal.

Our example represents a simple teaser element that has three unique categories: dining, entertainment, and fitness. Our site or application would take the user to each specific area once the element is selected. We will now demonstrate how to quickly create this example and show how it scales to as many images as needed.

Teaser Images Clipping Mask

Our first step is to create a new project with our required settings. Since we generally design for the web our image will be sized to 200 x 200 pixels at 72dpi with a transparent background.

New Photoshop Document

Once the image is created, we will create our button shape on the first layer using the “Rounded Rectangle” tool. It is located under the standard “Rectangle” tool, accessible by clicking and holding the small black corner and selecting it from the additional tools list. The radius has been set to 15px which makes for a nice and clean rounded edge. Now that our button shape has been created we will proceed to adding an image to it.

Photoshop shape layer

Although there are many ways of adding an image layer, we are going to go step-by-step. We will manually create a new layer by using the menu: Layer->New->Layer… This will add the new layer above our button shape. Then we will select the new layer and go to: File->Place… This will open up a browser window where we must hunt for our desired image to be “placed” on the new layer. Once it is placed, we will size it appropriately using the handles then we hit the “Enter” key to apply the transformation.

Image placement Photoshop

Now that our image is placed approximately where we want it, the next step is to apply the clipping mask. Our image layer should still be selected so we go to: Layer -> Create Clipping Mask. The result should be an image with perfectly rounded corners. One of the benefits to using clipping masks is that we may now move or re-size the background image as needed and the shape will stay the same! We may now repeat this technique for as many unique images as required. Keep placing new images above your shape layer and they will end up with a similar result.

Multiple layers in Photoshop

We will continue to use this technique to add the titles to each of our unique teaser elements. This is a simple design so we will add a 50px tall rectangle on the lower part of the box. We place this element above our images and our initial shape. Once positioned, we will create a clipping mask once again creating the rounded corners. Afterwards we add a text layer and our desired title to each element, save them out in the format we need and call it a day!

Completed teaser button

Subliminal Marketing

James Vicary in the late 1950’s performed an experiment in front of moviegoers (unbeknownst to them) flashing two messages: “Drink Coca-Cola” and “Eat Popcorn”. His finding shows there was a substantial increase in the sales of soda and popcorn. When Vicary was asked to reproduce his findings, he admitted he had falsified the data.

Nearly 50 years later, Vicary’s hoax is still in use (and still fine-tuned) by many companies practicing subliminal advertising and marketing. Can a logo of a company build trust and loyalty with consumers (as subtle as shifting a character within a company name)? Definitely something to consider when you are debating between buying an Apple product versus Dell, Lenovo, or the many PC makers out in the market.

Do you see the arrow in FedEx’s logo? The arrow is pointing to the right (parked between the two letters E and X), possibly hinting at “wanting to move something forward”.

Further reading for your consideration:

15 Corporate Logos That Contain Subliminal Messaging

Small Business Marketing Advice: Should You Use Subliminal Advertising?

Subliminal Messages Motivate People To Actually Do Things They Already Wanted To Do

Subliminal advertising really does work, claim scientists

UCL study: subliminal messaging ‘more effective when negative’

The Importance of Software License Management

As businesses grow and purchasing of software is spread across multiple people, it has become increasingly difficult to manage and keep track of the licenses for this software. There are several reasons why keeping an up-to-date inventory of software licenses is important. First it ensures that you are in compliance with the software company’s terms and conditions. Secondly, this inventory will help assist you in the process of showing proof of purchase in case of an audit done by a software company. Lastly, keeping an up-to-date inventory allows you to easily and quickly access license serial keys for software reinstalls in case of a computer crash.

Many companies use basic Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheets to manage their software licensing. This solution is okay, but the major issue with using any type of manual entry inventory is making sure your data is up-to-date. After purchasing several licensed software titles and forgetting to update your inventory results in the data becoming out of date and eventually unusable.


OmniSpear has a solution to this problem. Currently in beta now, AMS (AllMySoftware) is a web and cloud-based solution that will manage all of your IT infrastructure licensing needs by small software agents deployed on all computer systems that will securely transmit data to a web management portal in the cloud. This portal will display all licenses across several groups, locations, or clients (for MSP’s) and will allow multiple users in your organization to manage this data. This system will always keep an up-to-date listing of software licenses on all systems.

For more information please visit