Effective Tips That Will Help You Become Better in Metalworking

There’s this undercurrent of global culture that praises the movers and shakers of the world. People look to Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. They look to the super-elite. The reality is nothing gets done without the skills and the knowledge of the people on the ground. The pipes don’t work, the lights don’t flicker, and the structure fails without the men and women who dedicate their lives to their craft.

One such craft is metalworking. The ability to conceptualize, form, shape, and use the forged pieces of molten Earth as an end product for something bigger is, without a doubt, the core of our modern world. The ore and its supply ushered in the technological age. Without it, we’re centuries behind. Metalwork is, to this day, extremely important. It’s one of those professions that will not depreciate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lifelong professional or a new hire, there’s always something new you can learn. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge or hone your skills in metalworking, here are a few effective tips. 

Brush Up On Maintenance 

You may know the machines you work with like the back of your hand. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush up on maintenance and care. When you put your nose to the grindstone and get the tasks done, you invariably put some wear and tear on the tools that you’re working with. Since we’re not in an iron forge with a hammer and a kiln, it’s important to keep up with parts, too. It’s all well and good until we need to turn and mill metal parts on short notice. General upkeep and familiarity are good. It’s part of proper quality assurance. So to acquainted, or reacquainted, with your machines. It does not hurt to do a once-over read on the manual. It may be boring, but it’s a good idea. Check the parts and maintenance logs. Make sure that you can put out the best work with the best conditions you can facilitate. 

Adopt New Technologies

Adopting new technologies is another way to get better at metalworking. Fabricating is what makes modern tech move forward. There is no new model or cool product without fabricating. But what does improve is the techniques and the technologies used. Don’t be the only person stuck to old ways of thinking. Adapt, just like in any other industry. If there’s a means that completely contradicts your process, be open to letting some of that in. If there’s a detail you’ve noticed impedes on production, cut it out. The dirty secret is that there’s a lot of room for improvement in a lot of manufacturing and fabricating. Most professionals are set in their ways and avoid change. The ones that do ultimately get better, more confident, and attract better business. 

Stay Efficient 

People fawn over the lean/6sigma model of manufacturing. Yes, it’s important to keep things down to a predictable and quality assured science. But the belt thing is pretty odd. It reeks of Silicon Valley babble. That’s not to say the principles should not be followed. They absolutely can. But there are ways you can adopt them without the terminology. Simply put, you should know what the client is looking for and strive to get it done as simply as possible with virtually no waste. What’s the biggest thing clients are looking for these days? Lower cost and minimal lead time. How does one achieve that? Shorten setups. When you’re setting up, you need to have the software and the tooling to get things done as quickly as possible. Quick-change tooling on a press brake and turret punches, for example, can be outfitted with software that allows one to maintain precision—even in beginners. In terms of being a “better” metalworker, it will certainly seem like that to your clients. 

Keep In Touch With The Old 

Even with the advancements in technology, there is value in the older ways. There is so much to be learned when you do things with a more manual approach. Semi-automated means and less detailed software can be used on projects and jobs that don’t have the same sense of urgency as the others. Keep yourself knowledgeable the same way a doctor keeps a clinical eye. Don’t rely too heavily on new tech. Use them. Assure your clients you have them. But when push comes to shove, you should be able to work under the harshest conditions. That means without the new bells and whistles. 

Getting better at metalworking is part of an ongoing pursuit of excellence in the field. It’s part of being a better worker in general. If you apply the principles above and keep these words in mind, there’s no doubt you’ll improve. Stay strong. Stay hungry.

4 Reasons Payroll Software Supports Scaling Your Business

Are you still processing payroll manually? Do you use software only to track employee hours through a time clock? When you process payroll manually, you’ll certainly come to understand the process inside and out and hone your payroll processing skills. However, payroll skills won’t help you scale your business. 

If you’ve got 5 or fewer employees, you’ll survive with manual payroll for a while. However, to scale and grow your business, you’ll need to start using payroll software. 

1. Scaling your business requires simplifying processes and systems

Scaling a business requires simplifying operational processes and there’s nothing simple about a manual payroll process. It takes an incredible amount of time to manually calculate wages, overtime, and taxes, not to mention the lengthy process of cutting, signing, and delivering checks by hand. 

If you offer 401(k)s, benefits, commissions, bonuses, sick pay, vacation time, or retirement plans, you’re looking at a full-time job just processing payroll. When all your time is tied up, you’ll never scale your business.

Payroll software simplifies, automates, and streamlines virtually the entire payroll process. You can even get software that comes with advanced features that make life easier for you and your employees. For instance, Paylocity allows your employees to access a portion of their earned wages before payday. You can also monitor metrics and trends through a visual dashboard to make better hiring and budgeting decisions.

To make the right business decisions, you need access to the depth of insights only software can provide.

2. Payroll software eliminates careless mistakes

Careless mistakes are all too easy to make when crunching numbers by hand. Pushing just one wrong button on your calculator or misreading a number on a piece of paper can have devastating consequences. You might pay an employee or vendor too much or too little, withhold the wrong amount of tax, or misrepresent your available cash flow and overspend. 

Using a paystub creator eliminates the majority of oversights and careless mistakes. As long as the data is entered into the system correctly, the risk for mistakes is greatly reduced. With an automated payroll system, the majority of data will be retrieved directly from time clocks, electronic W2 forms, and standard settings. 

3. Payroll software makes it easier to open new locations

When your goal is to open new locations or sell franchises, you’ll need all the time you can get. Using payroll software will free up your time so you can get your new locations up and running. 

When you find good payroll software, you can also recommend that your franchisees use that same software to help them streamline operations. After all, when they succeed, you succeed. However, just make sure you don’t require your franchisees to use specific software or you risk creating an employer-employee relationship. Global Franchise Magazine explains this in detail and shares why it’s a good idea to simply “strongly recommend” specific payroll software and HR tools rather than require their use.

4. Payroll software creates consistency that keeps employees happy

Maybe you don’t make payroll mistakes all the time, but only every few pay periods. The moment those mistakes start to inconvenience your employees, they’re going to look for another job. 

For instance, say you have to short a future paycheck because you overpaid on a current check. Employees will generally be forgiving if this happens once. However, additional issues will be met with frustration. When small mistakes become a pattern, employees won’t stick around.

Consistency is a critical requirement for scaling your business and applies to every system and every aspect of your business. Creating consistency around your payroll practices is necessary to keep employees from getting frustrated and getting a job with your competitors. 

You don’t want to lose your best employees when you’re trying to scale your business. Dealing with turnover, interviews, on-boarding, and training will take your attention away from scaling your business.

Scaling your business requires a commitment to simplicity

Complex systems don’t scale easily. Processing payroll manually is a complex system. If you scale your business with a manual payroll process in place, you’ll multiply your payroll workload each time you grow a little bit. As you start forming new partnerships, you’ll increase the complexity as well. 

Hanging onto a manual payroll system will hold you back in your efforts to scale. Using payroll software will reduce complexity, increase simplicity, and create the foundation for smooth scaling.

What Google People API means for Apps that Sync Google Calendar with Outlook

In Spring 2020, Google announced that they will shut down Google Contacts v3 API in 2021. The Google Contacts API is the connection a Sync App uses to move Contact Data from Outlook to Google (Gmail) Contacts. Google released the Contacts API in 2006 and v3 around 2012, so it has had a six-year life span typical for Google data APIs.

Google Calendar and Contact Sync with Outlook

Nearly all Apps that Sync Google Calendar with Outlook Calendar include a link for Contact Sync. This sends data from Outlook Contacts to Gmail Contacts. Most people rely on Google Sync to share Contacts and Calendar from their Gmail account and smartphone.

Action Item – If you are using CompanionLink – You may be eligible for a free update for this change. Please check our Google People API Knowledgebase Page.

Microsoft Outlook lacks Google Sync Capability

Microsoft Outlook lacks a two-way sync facility for Google. You can set shared Calendars and Contact lists, but the method is arcane. More commonly, 3rd party apps like CompanionLink for Google provide an easy way of using Outlook and Google together. There are a range of products available, and they have varying capabilities. The critical thing to look for is whether real-time sync is supported. When you make a new appointment on your phone, does it come to Outlook automatically in just a few seconds? Also, are Outlook categories and calendar colors supported.

Google Contact v3 Deprecated

Google Contacts API v3 will shut down on June 15, 2021, five months away at the time of this writing. The Google People API, introduced four years ago, is replacing it. Most developers caution that the Google People API did not work well initially, so hopefully, Google has improved the API since that time.

June 2021 Update: Google has now started throwing the error. The error text is:

Contacts API is being deprecated. Migrate to People API to retain programmatic access to Google Contacts. See https://developers.google.com/people/contacts-api-migration.

Update Needed for Continued Service

Consumers need to be aware that any Google Outlook Sync product created before 2016 lacks support for the People API. Most products did not begin shifting until 2020, when Google announced the older API’s sunset date. A general rule is that if you have not installed a software update in the last four years, you should plan to get an update in 2021.

Here is a List of Google Calendar Sync Apps with status:

In general, most products will be on new revisions to support Google’s API change. If you have a purchased product, and your purchase was more than three years ago, you would be safe to assume an update is available for a reduced price from your vendor. Free and Open Source products (FOSS) will undergo revisions and continue to be a compelling choice for people who can tolerate beta software and do not need tech support.

June 2021 Update – Google has Updated Guidance

Migrate your Contacts API to People API before June 15, 2021, to ensure error-free API calls; API calls will otherwise return 100% errors by December 15, 2021.

Hello Google Cloud Developer,

We are writing to remind you of, as per our initial announcement in August 2020, the deprecation of the Google Contacts API, effective June 15, 2021. All Contacts API clients should migrate to Google People API before that date.

What do I need to know?

Starting June 15, 2021, API calls will begin returning errors at a steadily increasing rate, until the error rate reaches 100% on December 15, 2021, as outlined below:

June 15, 2021 – September 15, 2021: 1% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors
September 15, 2021 – December 15, 2021: 10% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors
December 15, 2021, and onward: 100% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors

What’s changed?

The new People API has the same functionality as the legacy Contacts API for all features, but with a new scope, resulting in the following exceptions for “Other Contacts”:Clients have read-only permissions for “Other Contacts.”
• Since sending mutate or write signals back to “Other Contacts” is not supported, your users will have to add the Other Contact as a My Contact if they wish to update its data fields.
• Only basic contact information for “Other Contacts” can be read through the API (for example, full name, email address, and phone number).

Additionally, the old Contacts scope (https://www.google.com/m8/feeds) provided access to both personal contacts and directory information.

You can learn more in the People API documentation.

Please note that the Domain Shared Contacts API is not affected by these changes.

What do I need to do?

To maintain access to Contact data, you need to migrate all Contacts API calls to People API before June 15, 2021.

With the People API, you will also need to implement new scopes, to ensure error-free API connections. In doing so, you will need to use the appropriate scope, depending on which API feature you wish to access:
• To access personal contacts – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts
• To access other contacts – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts.other.readonly
• To access directory information – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/directory.readonly

Your projects listed below are Contacts API clients and will begin to receive API call errors unless you migrate to People API before June 15, 2021:

If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact Google Workspace support.
Thanks for choosing Google Cloud.

Sincerely,
The Google Developers Team

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Short Take

Google has a habit of changing their APIs every six years. If it has been a few years since you purchased or installed your Google Outlook Sync App, plan on doing it again in 2021.

How Architects Can Benefit from BIM in 2021

Introduction

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has given architects greater control of the surveying and modeling of projects. It has also further enabled greater collaboration between architects, engineers, contractors, and stakeholders helping make better decisions on projects. As more of what was perceived to be the traditional workspace is being moved to remote work ideals, that is to say in employees’ homes, BIM will play a greater part in architects’ lives. This article is dedicated to seeing how architects will further benefit from the technology in the coming year.

Improved Interaction

When Autodesk published their paper titled “Building Information Modeling” only the very optimistic would have predicted that the technology would be a foundation stone in a market expected to top over 16 billion USD by 2025, but that is the current trajectory for the industry. Initially, for architects, in particular, the technology didn’t promise much in revolutionizing how architects went about their business. Over 18 years later the same view can no longer be supported.

In general, the technology has improved workflow by streamlining processes. Collaboration has always been one of the great advantages of BIM but for architects, an improved ability to de-risk projects and deliver a higher standard of outcome has seen the technology adopted steadily by the profession.

Testing

Being able to host 3D structures will always have a use. BIM furthered this ability by being able to test structures using comprehensive physics engines which can be used to test the more mundane aspects of the design. Increasingly, these tools can be used to test how the building would respond in the advent of a natural disaster like an earthquake.

Communication

Before even the thought of ground being broken for a foundation, BIM can help pitch ideas to clients. This ability is being further advanced through the incorporation of virtual reality technology. This can allow potential clients or property investors to “walk” through the designs in the virtual design. Another technology that can further help when the construction process begins is augmented reality which can be used on-site to address needs or update clients on how the final project is completed.

Lower Cost

Greater collaborative ability can foreseeably improve creativity amongst teams. This is a hard parameter to measure; however, one that is not hard to quantify is cost. Those employing BIM architecture principles have been able to reduce costs and be more competitive in the marketplace. Much of the reduced cost is a result of the design process taking far less time, resulting in cost saving. Cost reductions have also been noticed when mistakes are detected early and can easily be rectified before a contractor has even laid cement. 

Conclusion

In the coming years, the BIM uses in architecture are expected to be further improved with the incorporation of AI and machine learning technologies. These are expected to further reduce error and promote higher levels of information transfer without the need for human intervention.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Artificial Intelligence

The past half a century was pivotal in our growth as a species in many ways. Many of the once-fictional concepts are being materialized by the day, and gone are the days where technological innovations moved forward at a slow pace. Nowadays, when we go on social media and on to our favorite tech pages, we’re sure to see the many changes brought to our lives because of our fast technological growth.

The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) has lately been used by nearly every scientist in all of the possible fields. This is because AI isn’t just your average innovation but one that needs special attention due to its vast impact on our lives now and its potential future consequences.

In a nutshell, the term “artificial intelligence” is used to describe a computer program (or algorithm) that has the ability to learn and think, in essence, emulating human behavior. In theory, every task that is done by humans can be done by AI.

The general consensus on AI is divided. Some believe that it is the missing key element of our technological progression that’s been holding us back from unleashing humanity’s full potential. Others are of a more conservative opinion and believe that the annihilation of humans is AI’s last destination and that we should put a lid on it while we can. Stick around to learn more about the two sides of the coin.

Digital Assistance

We now use digital assistance in every aspect of our lives. Why assign a laborious task to a human being, if AIs can provide the same quality of work, if not better? Think of the last interaction you had with any customer service worker. Have you ever wondered how much of that interaction could’ve been done by an AI? We’re here to tell you that perhaps all of it can be replicated by an AI specifically created for that task.

In fact, many companies now take to AI to cut down on costs allocated to tasks that can be done by a machine program. For instance, an AI that converts text into speech is one that could replace the many positions filled by humans in the customer service department. Instead of having a real-life human interaction with a worker, you’d be interacting with a custom AI. Chances are that you wouldn’t even notice any difference between the computer and the real deal.

Work Efficiency

As humans, we’re bound to make mistakes, hence the term “human error.” Many of the tasks out there (especially those in the manufacturing industry) can easily be replaced with machines that can do the same job much more efficiently, without having to worry about human errors.

Unlike humans, machines don’t get tired, and if you give it any repetitive task, the machine will do it with ease. Employers around the world have already started capitalizing on this, eliminating the need to deploy two or three sets of employees working night and day shifts.

Less Risk for Humans

An AI robot is one without physical limitations, or at least less physical limitations compared to us. Many tasks now done by robots were once performed by humans, often at the risk of their own lives. Whether it be going to Mars to collect soil samples, or heading deep down into the ocean, AI machines can do a much better job than their human counterparts.

An example of a disaster that could’ve been controlled had we had the right means is the Chernobyl incident in Ukraine. Instead of using workers to make matters less chaotic, AI robots could’ve been deployed to control the fire right from the get-go or even prevent the disaster in the first place.

Risks Associated with AI

Much like anything else, AI has its own disadvantages, and the following are the ones currently being discussed in the industry.

  • We’re susceptible to getting addicted to the many automated works done by AI which can in turn makes us lazier than before.
  • With robots filling in the positions assumed previously by humans, the unemployment rate would eventually skyrocket.
  • Robots are incapable of exhibiting emotion, thus making it hard to use them in the management department where the human bond is essential.
  • As of yet, machines cannot think outside the box and are only able to perform the tasks they’re programmed to do.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, AI is merely a tool. Like any other tool, it can be used for good causes just as it can be used for bad ones. So far, the world is in a much better place compared to times where people had to resort to doing tasks that were detrimental to their physical health and mental well being.

Surely we’re all worried about the fact that one day, machines may rise against us just like it’s been portrayed in many fiction movies. But until then, it is best to keep an open mind and treat AI like any other technological innovation—with caution and respect.

9 Apps That Will Increase Your Business Productivity

Have you ever felt as if all your energy left you at once? This happens when you are exhausted and have no power to go on and achieve your goals. We are humans and feeling tired is a normal thing. However, it should not prevent us from living our lives and reaching the established goals.

Lots of new things are being developed to ease our lives. Similar to numerous study help platforms that are designed to ease the academic burden, a few useful apps can help executives boost their productivity.

If you wonder what these apps are, we’ve prepared a review for you in a similar fashion that we do our EssayService review on the best writing services. Read on to find out more about these apps.

Evernote

The app is well-known among business people as a note-taker, but it can actually help in other ways, too. It is hard to memorize all the stuff that needs to be done. Actually, it is often beyond learners’ abilities. Evernote is a great app to take notes and set notifications of important events.

Just write a short note on your smartphone and it will never get lost. Also, Evernote allows for creating to-do lists, agendas, and writing memos right on your smartphone. If it’s not a productivity saver, we don’t know what really is.

Zoom

Zoom has really become an app of the year, allowing millions of businesses to survive the lockdown and continue their operation. However, this app has also saved lots of office workers from procrastination.

Thanks to this app, you can continue your normal business activity wherever you are. With a stable Internet connection, you can discuss the project details with your teammates, attend online video classes, and so on. 

At the same time, Zoom allows you to save time, money, and energy since you can connect with other people in the blink of an eye.

RescueTime

We often feel as if we need to rescue our time from being ruthlessly consumed by social media and the Internet. RescueTime is one of those apps that track the time we spend on our mobile devices.

Actually, RescueTime does more than that. It has on-screen reminders and website-blocking features that help you stay busy with the stuff you really need. You can monitor your Internet activity, read the analytics, and program the app to help you prioritize your goals.

Asana

To successfully manage your projects and keep all your assignments easy to track, consider Asana. This app works both for students and business people. It is a perfect calendar of all your assignments and tasks due, so you can plan your days and weeks better.

Asana is great as it can connect several team members working on the same project. Also, each project gets its work progress report that is easy to share with other partners. To boost your productivity and not miss anything, you can program Asana to send you notifications and reminders.

Trello

Another project management app that can help you organize, manage, and update all your assignments and tasks is Trello. This is a very useful and simple app that allows you to create boards with the tasks and invite other people who work on them too.

This app is ideal for those who want to have all their assignments due within a week, month, or year clearly visible on one board. You can also tag these tasks using different colors that help in prioritization. A drag-and-drop feature contributes to the user-friendly and easy-to-navigate interface Trello has.

Todoist

This app is great if you need help in creating a perfect to-do list. Using it, you can create great plans for days and weeks in a digitized format. It also has a user-friendly interface that makes your task planning process a lot more comfortable.

Also, Todoist is great if you need to organize your older or newer tasks and add deadlines. It is useful if you need to prioritize your tasks, leave comments, and even create a step-by-step to-do list.

Pomodoro

Pomodoro is the best app to organize your working time. If you feel distracted or if it is too hard for you to put yourself together and start working, Pomodoro could be of great help.

This app helps you separate your time, splitting it into activity periods and breaks. For example, you can program the app to notify you of a 5-min break each time when a 25-min activity period ends. Thus, you’ll have time to work, while keeping a healthy balance between your work and rest.

Focus@will

If you are looking for something unconventional to boost your productivity levels, it can be Focus@will. This app is built to create a personalized sound profile for each user. It tailors productive music to your musical tastes, helping you to focus better.

The app creates your profile based on the analysis of the way you think, how you approach challenges, and what distracts you. This is an ideal app for people working in common or shared areas with lots of noise.

IFTTT

This amazing app can boost your productivity at once by connecting various apps and programs and turning them into a perfect environment for work. For example, you can download IFTTT if you need to command your email attachments to be saved to Google Drive.

The scope of this app’s functions is immense. It actually helps to reach for deeper integration between different apps. Thus, you save your time and improve productivity while benefiting from the automation of a new level.

Wrapping Up

Today, business executives must work harder than ever, and that often ends with procrastination and exhaustion. Fortunately, lots of new things and time tracking software are being developed to ease our lives.

These nine apps are not the exclusive list of tools that can improve your productivity. Yet, they surely rank among the top apps for boosting your working energy while saving your precious time, each doing it in a different way.