Horse Sense #136

Toys for Techs (tm)

This e mail is NOT about the holiday consumer buying frenzy, but about your business needs (though some Toys for Techs (tm) make great personal gifts as well). Toys for Techs is not just for the holidays. You can do it any time and I encourage you to do so. [Of course, we think you should call Iron Horse to get your Toys!]

Our Horse Sense Newsletters are meant to be useful for long periods of time and few ideas have proven more useful than Toys for Techs. Everyone who has implemented Toys for Techs has seen positive results in their business. It is fun, serves a legitimate business purpose, improves communications, and helps people understand what others are doing in their jobs.

If you are Ebenezer Scrooge, you can stop reading now. But, if you want to know more about how you can make Toys for Techs work for you and bring happiness to techy girls and boys, take a look at these older Toys for Techs posts going back over 10 years! (the rules on Toys for Techs) (more ideas) (still more) (restated rules and more ideas--Best to READ FIRST) (more toys and green ideas) (more ideas) (more ideas, like getting a tuneup and "it would be nice..." Toys) (more ideas and how to be a Scrooge and still look nice)

You may well be able to deduct your Toy expenses as business expenses. See

Here are some of my newer Toy ideas:

Under $50:

Think of upgrading to USB 3.1 on newer motherboards or add in cards or buy new items that support USB 3.1. This backward compatible standard, also called SuperSpeed+, is capable of 10 gigabit/second data rates, twice that of USB 3.0. USB 3.1 is also likely to use the new USB C connector. This connector does not have an up or down orientation like current USB connectors do. USB C can handle the 10 gigabit/second data rate of USB 3.1 and power devices that need up to 100 watts, which is enough for a notebook. USB 3.1 and USB C are so capable and necessary, they are rapidly entering the market.

These days, it seems you can never have enough chargers and cables for your devices. Wired and wireless charging station and extra cables can bring benefits all year long!

Under $100:

Fairfax County Public Schools had to replace thousands of iPad screens lately. Are you risking your equipment unnecessarily? Make sure you get good protective cases, carry bags, and other useful accessories to keep you productive. There are a wide array of choices, so many are surprised when we recommend "seriously ugly" cases for phones and tablets. Call us and we will tell you why.

Under $200:

Plug an Intel Compute Stick ( into your large HDMI display and you get a large screen computer! [You will need to have a keyboard, mouse, and wireless router to use with it.]

Under $300:

Presenters should take a look at Intel WiDi technology ( It allows you to connect large monitors or projectors to notebooks, tablets, or cell phones without using wires. Regular WiDi is great for small businesses and/or home use. Imagine playing Candy Crush on your living room TV. Pro WiDi coordinates the use of the display with all the devices various presenters in a meeting may have and adds security and management features. The Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro for Business adds Pro WiDi capabilities to displays using HDMI ports so you do not have to wait for WiDi to be built into your systems or displays. At less than $300 to get started, why should you wait? That said, newer displays, laptops, tablets, and phones are shipping with WiDi capabilities already built in.

Many People Will Want This as a Toy. It Is Expensive and Probably Not Worth it for Most Businesses!

4K video for the office sounds enticing, but....4K video is up to 4096x2160, more than 4 times 1080p HD video. Standard mechanical hard drives will have difficulty delivering video fast enough for good display quality, especially if you are thinking about editing as well. We recommend NVME (PCI based) SSDs (4x faster throughput than SATA SSDs). 4K video also is unlikely to work well on anything lower than a mid to high end CPU made within the last year or two. You might also need a newer 4K capable graphics card as well. If you want to start working with high resolution video, it is time to upgrade your machine. The newer machines have 4K video capability baked into the hardware.

Great Toys for the Whole Organization:

If you want to make everybody in the business happy, think about upgrading your network to 10 gigabit Ethernet. Or get an enterprise class solid state drive for your server. These drives are designed for 24x7 operation, very high performance even under high loads and higher security requirements. They can better withstand power outages and hold on to that data even when powered off for a long time. A few small changes can make a world of difference in how well your network responds.

If you are worried about the safety of your data in other ways, think about an IoSafe. These drives and arrays are built in fire, water, and crush proof cases and IoSafe even offers data recovery if a disaster happens. Yes, it *is* like locking your hard drives in a safe.

Of course, you should always call the elves at Iron Horse about your favorite Toys. Heck, we don't even care if you have been naughty!

©2015 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse