1051 NW 14th St., Suite 165
(UM mail routing R-26)
Miami, FL 33136
Hours: 830am - 500pm, M-F
Help Desk: 305-243-5999
General fax: 305-243-6417
Admin. fax: 305-243-2622
Computer power management
Good for it, for you, and for us
The Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program estimates that using effective power management for personal computers can save from $25 to $75 per year in electricity costs.
The Medical Center is home to some 10,000 PCs. You can do the math.
Why are there such potential savings? Because research shows that most PCs are not being actively used during the vast majority of the time that they are kept on.
There are two ways to do power management:
First, set your computer to "sleep" or "standby" when it's been idle for a prolonged period -- say more than an hour. Computers and monitors use from one-quarter to one-tenth as much power in standby modes. Because the electronics are kept "warm," it takes very little time to restore a PC to full operation from a standby state.
On Microsoft (Windows 2000/XP) systems, use the Power Options section of the Control Panel.
On Apple (OS X) systems, use the Energy Saver selection under System Preferences.
Second, turn your computer off at the end of the work day. If you want to make sure you're consuming no power whatsoever, switch off power at the surge protector after you've shut down the system.
Powering your computer off does more than reduce electricity consumption (and lessen the environmental damage inherent in electricity generation). It can:
Make your hardware last last longer. Cool downs and rest for moving parts are beneficial. It's a myth that turning your computer off and on is harmful, unless you do that many, many times every day.
Keep your software more current. A reboot of the system takes place when power is restored after a full power off. Many software patches and upgrades require a reboot to be fully functional.
For more information about power management, including a calculator to estimate your or your organization's savings, click here.
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Do you want to learn the basics of a software application like Excel or Word? Or know the basics, but want to learn how to do more? You can take a course, of course. Many are offered at the Coral Gables campus, and we aim to have classes at the Medical Center starting later this year. But what if you don't have time for that, or just feel comfortable learning on your own?
Training books abound for every major software product -- "Step by Step," "Missing Manual," "Inside Out," "Bible," "for Beginners," "for Absolute Beginners," "for Dummies" and "for Complete Idiots" series, to name but a few.
If you shop for a book on-line, be sure to read the descriptions and reviews carefully, to get one that matches your level of interest and experience. If you go to a bricks-and-mortar bookstore, spend some time paging through the alternatives to make the same assessment.
Another option is to use the free online materials offered by most major software vendors. Microsoft, for example, provides collections of training materials for the Office suite and everything else in its product family. Apple also provides extensive online resources for its products. Adobe/Macromedia does the same.
You can find links to a selection of these online resources on the Medical Information Technology Web site, in the Web Resources section. (Suggestions about links that should be added are welcomed.)
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What do Aetna Insurance, Ameriprise Financial, Deloitte & Touche, Fidelity Investments, Ford Motor Company, Hewlett-Packard, Providence Health Care and Verizon have in common? All have suffered losses of employees' laptop computers in the last several months -- resulting in potential exposure of personal information on more than 500,000 of their customers and business associates.
Most of these data losses could have been avoided if the companies' security policies for laptops had been followed, or if the laptops' guardians had just used more common sense.
Such data risks are not only a private-sector problem. On May 22, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that an employee may have compromised the personal information of some 26.5 million veterans by violating policies about mobile data.
Many states now require notification to all affected persons when data has been exposed, and Congress is considering several "identity protection" bills that would do the same. (Florida enacted such a law in 2005.) So beyond the damage to confidentiality, there is now the near-inevitable bad publicity and loss of customer confidence.
Carrying around a laptop containing large amounts of sensitive data generally isn't a good idea. If the data is not protected by encryption or other security measures, it's an extraordinarily bad idea. If you use a laptop or other portable computer -- or just a high-capacity storage device like a flash drive -- take the time to learn the basics of computer security on the move. Or you might be in the news too.