Weekly business rail, with tips to simplify your tech life, the top careers for this year and more.

Tip of the Week


There are plenty of ways - some low-tech, others cutting-edge - to simplify your tech life.


- More than half of us use both a Mac and PC, either at home or work, according to a recent survey by Lab42. If given their choice, 53 percent of us would prefer to use a Mac that also runs Windows PC applications without rebooting for work, the survey revealed. Getting Windows applications to work on a Mac used to be a complicated, technically arduous process. Many users got around the issue by running a PC and Mac side by side. Today products like Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac simplify the task.


- For many of us, functioning without our smartphones and mobile apps would be impossible. Apps that stream up-to-date news and weather information can be handy, but the rock stars of today's apps are ones that make our communications, shopping and financial transactions even easier. You can download apps that let you block unwanted calls, connect to Facebook and Twitter, shop at Amazon, and access your bank or brokerage to view balances, deposit checks or trade stocks.


- You wouldn't dream of traveling without your laptop, but isn't it great to know if you don't want to carry a computer that you actually don't have to in order to use it? It's no longer necessary to tote around a Mac or PC to capture all your communications and any changes you need to make to files that normally live on your desktop at home or work. Remote access software allows you to connect to and work off of your Mac or PC at home or work as if you were actually there using it.


- Most of us have multiple email accounts, from ones we use only for work to personal accounts associated with the various social media we use. Managing multiple email accounts can be easy if you use a desktop email client such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, which can do the task for you. You'll need to remember your email addresses and passwords just once - when you enter them into the tool. After that, you'll be able to easily check all your email accounts from just one place.


- ARA


BBB Watch


Customer service showed itself to be the most important element for shoppers according to a post-Christmas poll by the Better Business Bureau.


In the 10 days following the holiday, More than half (51 percent) of visitors to the BBB website picked customer service over price (33 percent), product selection (11 percent) and location (5 percent) as the key concern in making purchasing decisions.


"These results show that consumers continue to place a very high value on customer service," said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and northern Illinois.


The BBB president noted that while price usually is usually highlighted in advertising and promotions, stores may be missing what is truly important to the consumer if they do not make the buying experience pleasing to the customer. 


"Most store owners will admit that while price may pull customers into the store initially, it is the customer service and experience in the store that makes them into a repeat customer," Bernas said. "And repeat customers are what every business wants."  


For more consumer advice, visit www.bbb.org.


The List


According to Yahoo, here are five hot careers for 2012:


- Medical and health services manager


- Teacher


- Accountant


- Network and computer systems administrator


- Social worker


Number to Know


$788.6 million: Fourth-quarter profit reported by online seller eBay.


Tech Talk


Not long after Yahoo Inc. made former PayPal executive Scott Thompson its CEO, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang has left the company. Yang said in a letter, “The time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo.”


GateHouse News Service