Sticky Notes

Blockchain Technology – The Next Internet Revolution?

Understanding Blockchain Technology

Block what?

Blockchain technology. Get used to this phrase, because it sits before us all on the technology curve.  It’s so new that while typing this blog, spellcheck is declaring “blockchain” a typo. Spellcheck notwithstanding, blockchain technology will likely be one of the most influential technology changes for generations to come.

When you vote, have you ever wondered whether your ballot is actually counted? When you meet someone online, how do you know who they really are? When you buy an autographed baseball, what makes you so certain of its authenticity? To be certain about any of these questions, ideally you would need a system where ongoing verification would take place in real time, where records could be stored, facts verified, and security guaranteed. Nobody could cheat such a system by altering records, because everyone using this system would be watching. Welcome to blockchain. Blockchain makes this system real, and it’s currently being used.

You may have heard of blockchain’s first glocal success: a form of digital cash called Bitcoin, which allows you to send anyone cash, even a complete stranger. Bitcoin is much different than credit cards, PayPal, or other ways to digitally send money, because there is no bank or financial “middleman” involved. Instead, people (or “verifiers”) from all over the world help move (or verify) the digital money by validating other Bitcoin transactions with their personal computers, earning a small fee in the process. Bitcoin uses blockchain by tracking records of ownership over the digital cash, so only one person can be the owner at a time and the cash can’t be spent twice, like counterfeit money in the physical world can.

Blockchains store information across a global network of computers, which makes them distributed and more important, decentralized.  This means no single individual or company owns the system, but everyone can contribute to running it. This is crucial, because it means it’s almost impossible for any single user to take down the network or corrupt it. Those who run the system use their computers to hold several records submitted by others, known as “blocks”, which are in a chronological chain.  The blockchain uses a form of math called cryptography to ensure that records can’t be counterfeited or changed by anyone else, similar to encryption technology.

Bitcoin is only the beginning. As this technology advances, blockchains that manage and verify online data could enable us to make digital transactions more secure, or create algorithms to make self-driving cars safer, help us protect our online identities, and even track the billions of devices on the Internet of Things. This technology will change our future and how we interact with each other and digital technology – and this is all just the beginning.

 

Office Technology Tips – What are Macros and Why are they Useful? 

What is a Macro, Anyway?

Simply put, a macro is a series of steps & instructions that you group together to create a single command which can accomplish tasks with the press of a single button.   Here is an actual example of how you can use a macro.  Let’s say your CEO holds you responsible for a monthly report that includes merging 5 Excel spreadsheets together, plus 3 Word documents; then reformatting them, editing, and resizing; and then the ugly task of printing these reports to ledger-sized paper so they can be distributed at the monthly board meeting.

Just the sound of those steps would make most people cringe. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could wave a magic wand and have them done for you,  automatically? This is why macros are amazing. All you need to do is set up your task by doing it once, and the macro tool will record every step and build a program which, when finished, will launch again when needed by the press of one single button.

How to Create a Simple Macro

In this exercise we’ll do something as simple as printing mailing labels. This is a repetitive task that involves opening a Word document, choosing labels and a template, and then setting up which printer it will go to, changing the media type to labels, sizing and then printing it.  When counting the steps involved, it takes 18 mouse clicks to accomplish. But with the macro we will create, the steps will be cut down to one click – and it is literally this easy.

In any program when your documents are ready, just follow the steps below:

  1. Click View > Macros > Record Macro.Recording a Macro command
  2. Type a name for the macro.Macro name box
  3. To use this macro in any new documents you make, be sure the Store macro in box says All Documents (Normal.dotm).Box for choosing where to store a macro
  4. To run your macro when you click a button, click Button.Click to assign the macro to a button
  5. Click the new macro (it’s named something like Normal.NewMacros.<your macro name>), and click Add.The macro and the Add button
  6. Click Modify.Modify button in the Customize the Quick Access Toolbar box
  7. Choose a button image, type the name you want, and click OK twice.Button options in the Modify Button box
  8. Now it’s time to record the steps. Click the commands or press the keys for each step in the task. Word records your clicks and keystrokes.

    NOTE:  Use the keyboard to select text while you’re recording your macro. Macros don’t record selections made with a mouse.

  9. To stop recording, click View > Macros > Stop Recording.Stop Recording command

The button for your macro appears on the Quick Access Toolbar.

Macro button on the Quick Access Toolbar

To run the macro, just click the button!  You can do this with almost any task within Microsoft Office.

Do you have any good macro tips? Please share them with us!

Heart Health Tips, Part 4: Nutrition

Healthy-office-eating-720x340

In our first blog of this series, we noted lifestyle factors to improve heart health: quitting smoking, avoiding obesity, an increase in physical activity, a healthy diet, and stress reduction. In that post we discussed quitting smoking; in Part 1 we offered mindfulness techniques easily accomplished in the workplace; in Part 2 we offered the opportunity to get your own heart-shaped stress ball, a mindfulness tool to keep on your desk; and last week, in Part 3, we shared a list of exercises to help get you moving at your desk or on your break. While exercise can play a huge role in avoiding obesity, having a healthy diet is likely to make the most difference. Thus our final post of the series focuses on nutrition: what should you snack on, add to your packed lunch, and order at restaurant lunch meetings to help keep the pounds off – and keep the heart (and taste buds) happy.

1.) Nuts: A handful (or 1oz) of nuts consumed daily can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 30 percent. Among the best are walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, and pistachios. Opt for a raw/unsalted variety to ensure you’re not getting any unintended additives.

  • If you prefer the flavor of roasted nuts try preparing some at home: preheat your oven to 250, measure 1 cup of raw/unsalted nuts, add 1 tbsp of avocado or coconut oil, mix together in a bowl with seasoning, then spread on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet and roast for 1 hour. Seasoning variations: Sweet: ¼ tsp sea salt + 1 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp coconut sugar. Salty: ¼ tsp sea salt + ½ tsp garlic powder + ½ tsp onion powder.
  • Nut butters are also a tasty and versatile desk snack: stick to 1 tbsp at a time, opt for a brand with a lesser amount of ingredients, and try to avoid anything with added sugar and salt.

2.) Fresh Fruit: Along with nuts, apples showed up on almost every list of heart-healthy snacks we encountered. They’re high in antioxidants and pectin, which both help to reduce cholesterol levels. Try dipping apple slices in nut butter!

  • Other heart-healthy fruits include blueberries, grapes, melon, avocado and grapefruit.

3.) Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas): All beans are a good choice when it comes to heart health, but garbanzo beans are a standout. They’re packed with soluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol; and they contain antioxidants, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

  • Grab some hummus or snack on garbanzo beans right out of the can. Opt for brands that contain only these three ingredients: garbanzo beans, water, and sea salt. Try this recipe for a delicious crunchy, roasted version. Don’t be scared to switch up and alter the seasonings to suit your personal taste.

4.) Tips for when eating out: (1) Avoid sweetened beverages; opt for water or unsweetened tea. (2) Salads are always a great option but avoid high-calorie toppings, such as bacon, croutons and cheese. Plus ask for oil and vinegar instead of salad dressing. (3) Be mindful of portion size. Ask for a takeout box and separate your meal in two, putting away half for the next day. (4) Don’t snack on pre-lunch appetizers.

RECIPE SUGGESTIONS: Avocado Toast, Detox Salad, Buddha Bowl, Rainbow Slaw

If you found value in our American Heart Month inspired workplace heart health blog series, please let us know by adding a “Paper Clip” comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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