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April 3rd, 2012

Today’s computers are a far cry from those of just seven or eight years ago. The average desktop computer rental has more RAM, a bigger hard drive and better graphics performance than the high-end models of 2005. Improved case design and modular components also make it easier for non-nerds to add memory, install additional hard drives and otherwise personalize their computers.

PC Computer MaintenanceIt is also easier to maintain computers today, which extends their lifespans. In addition to utilities that come with every new computer, there are low- and no-cost ones for both Macs and PCs to aid with preventive maintenance, routine “cleanup” and the occasional repair. Whether it’s your office iMac or your home PC, doing your own maintenance, upgrades and repairs is a big money-saver.

The regular stuff for computers

Regular maintenance helps keep the OS (Operating System) and the hard drive in shape, reduces clutter (seen and unseen) and protects your PC from attack. The Windows OS wants you to “clean the registry,” Mac OS X requests that you “repair disk permissions” – but both want you to defragment your drive (and leave 10% free space). Whether you have an office full of workstations or rent laptops for a conference, you may need to do some or all of these tasks.

While some utilities scour your hard drive and list files that (they think) are expendable, you could lose something important. For example, controlling recording gear and certain audio visual equipment rentals with your PC requires special plug-ins that often have cryptic names. Review any such list to ensure you don’t toss something you need. Your spyware/malware protection is likely automated, but if not, run a scan regularly (at least weekly).

Updates and patches

Windows Update sends patches, updates and “service packs” to your computer’s OS and Internet Explorer, with automatic installation if you choose. On the Mac it’s called “Software Update” and accomplishes the same thing. Having a clean, well-oiled machine (figuratively speaking, of course, so put down that oil can!) means you will get the best plug-and-play performance from your computer, even when using such high-end peripherals as render farms or RAID arrays.

Open source boosters would tell you to install Linux on your computer and be done with drive fragmentation, start-up applications running in the background and viruses. But using Linux brings you back into nerd territory, and if you’re not up to it, stay put with your Mac or PC and get whatever help you need to whip it into shape. There are plenty of help sites out there. You are not alone. You can do this!

Use our Quick Rental Quote form if you know what you need, but if you want advice on equipment, conference strategies or post-production solutions, a single call or e-mail will connect you with an expert Account Executive. We don’t charge a cent for brainstorming solutions and strategies with you. Call now!

October 26th, 2010

Along with all the amazing advances in computing and networking technology over the past decades have come some serious challenges. For whatever reasons, some people want to bend and twist technology to destructive purposes. Today’s computer users, both at home and at the office, are now faced with the never-ending task of protecting themselves against viruses, spyware, malware and even orchestrated “hack attacks” designed to crash your site. This is why CRE ensures that every one of our computer rentals is certified “problem-free” before you get it. We know the cost of overlooking security!

On staff or on call?

Companies may be targeted by competitors or even their own employees, who will try to hack into secured networks, spread damaging viruses or install various kinds of spyware. The removal of these “invaders” requires state-of-the-art knowledge of the threat as well as up-to-date software tools. IT Services from  CRE RentalsIf you do not have a security expert on staff, or a good IT generalist that can get (and stay) up to speed, you can always contract with a good networking tech firm that will possess both the know-how and the right toolkit.

There are also lots of companies offering Software as a Service (SaaS) that can handle any one-time, à la carte jobs such as spyware removal. You should consider, however, what an ongoing relationship with a networking company can offer. Some are leading the way to the world of the virtual office, and the cost savings for your business can be substantial when you entrust the entire network to the care of experts. The firm’s tech pros can keep your network running, handle all day-to-day operations, ensure critical uptime, perform all backups and take all the headaches from you. Essentially, you are hiring a freelance IT department.

Put money into growth

When you don’t have to keep buying new equipment, repairing it, maintaining it and replacing it every year or two, you have additional time, money and energy to do what’s really important. That means growing your business, of course. Along with spyware removal and threat mitigation, an IT pro (independent contractor or company) can secure your data and show you the way to leaner, more focused company operations.

This is the same rationale that makes CRE Rentals a smart move. You can stop “keeping up with the Joneses” (or Jobses) and always have state-of-the-art computing power like the potent Mac Pro rentals at the office, and the interactive kiosk rentals and other things that make your conference booth and/or breakout session(s) a hit. Let us help you stay current on technology, save money on hardware and hit your deadlines — fill out the Quick Rental Quote form today.

September 14th, 2010

The 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition (NCE) will be at San Francisco’s Moscone Center from October 2-5. The annual event makes Continuing Medical AAP 2010 Annual MeetingEducation (CME) a central focus, while industry leaders bring important new information about recent advances. For attendees, you cannot afford to miss the premier pediatric medical educational event.

The NCE pre-conference event, “Pediatrics for the 21st Century,” will key on Health Information Technology (HIT) and quality. Speakers will explain the importance of HIT for improved patient outcomes, while the newest technology will be displayed in a “Pediatric Office of the Future” exhibit.

If you are exhibiting, consider adding an all-in-one desktop touchscreen rental to showcase your products and services or rent an interactive kiosk to capture attendee information for later follow-up.

AAO 2010AAO 2010 is the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s annual meeting taking place at Chicago’s McCormick Place from October 16-19 with Subspecialty Days on the 15th and 16th. In addition to pre-conference programs ranging from exhibits and product demos to seminars, there will be plenty of discussions in the mini-lounges, as well as 100+ hours of free scientific sessions.

Free Wi-Fi access from the AAOasis booth allows attendees to get program info, view on-demand videos and visit the Virtual Exhibition. Real exhibitors of all kinds will be on hand so, grab their attention with a plasma rental to display product demos, infomercials and other presentations using various devices.

ASTRO 2010 Annual MeetingASTRO 2010, the 52nd annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation and Oncology, is being held at the San Diego Convention Center from October 31 to November 4.  The theme this year is “Gathering Evidence, Proving Value,” inviting participants to consider the changing realities of modern oncological medical practice and take part in the world’s premier educational radiation oncology event.

The Presidential Symposium will address the many challenges of medicine in an era of evidence-based practice. The meeting will highlight the latest advances in both research and practice. Of course, exhibitors are also an important source of information about new devices, technologies and practices. To make your most dramatic impact, CRE has an array of LCD monitor rentals and other displays that will stop people in their tracks.

Consider promoting your “green-ness” by incorporating some of these green ideas at your next conference. When you need to put your best foot forward as an exhibitor, CRE can help — we have decades of experience and can help you strategize an effective trade show floor presence. Simply complete our  Quick Rental Quote form and get a speedy reply.

April 29th, 2010

From the start, the educational potential of the Internet was a source of tremendous excitement. There is a wealth of online training available today, in every imaginable subject, with many top universities and even elite Ivy League institutions delivering courses, counseling, certificates and degrees on the Web. It’s even better for ongoing education and professional certification, as well as for people who want to learn specific skills or knowledge without a degree program.

At CRE, we support all kinds of businesses in every industry, but have a particular expertise outfitting creative people – designers, audio engineers, video pros, marketing mavens – with powerful media manipulators like our Mac Pro rentals. We know how much effort it takes staying updated on all manner of different software and hardware, with the ability to jump into one of our G5 with Kona card rentals and do your thing. Should you decide to take some online training to maintain and/or improve your professional standing and specialized skills, we would commend you for your work ethic – then share a few tips.

Always check training sources

You must always consider the source of online training because not all teachers and schools are created equal. Use your Web search skills, make some calls, ask questions, get references – anything to get some third-party insight. As you search for a source for training, you should consider the type of training that would work best in your specific situation. You can watch live online classes, or buy books and read online class notes, or use webcams to interact with others, and you can study on your own or in a group.

Rentals for in-house training

If you are looking for training for a group of people, perhaps for professional certification of some kind, you can buy the instructional materials on DVD. CRE has the projector rentals, as well as the audience response system rentals, that can make group training simple and effective. Especially in the IT and technical fields, where widely-regarded certifications are essential for a tech firm’s employees to have, using CRE laptop rentals rounds out a cost-effective training regimen. The more people you can get trained together, of course, the lower the unit cost for the preparation. Win-win.

With large enough hardware or software purchases, vendors can also customize a total solution for your firm and easily integrate online or offline training into the plan. You don’t need to tie up your workstations (which are making your company money) or budget a large hardware purchase when you use computer rentals for training. A room of iMac rentals and/or PCs, the right software, the right learning materials and the right amount of time, and you’ve got another group of experts in Excel, Exchange. Photoshop or InDesign – or Maya, C+, Logic, Pro Tools, Avid, Javascript, Ajax, Cisco, Microsoft, Novell or whatever else you can think of.

CRE has its share of experts, too. Our Account Executives know exactly what solutions will fit your particular challenge, whether it’s a post-production bottleneck, convention, presentation or training session. Call or send an e-mail, or fill out the Quick Rental Quote form, and we’ll get you that personalized training solution you need.

March 25th, 2010

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is serious about environmental leadership. He is also serious about being seen to be serious, as this makes for good public relations. However, having a business motive for making “green” upgrades does not negate all the good that they will do. Even before his latest announcement, Apple had already eliminated, by the end of 2008, such toxic chemicals as lead and arsenic (in displays), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants.

With the introduction of LED technology in its displays, like the 30-inch Apple Cinema HD Display rentals from CRE, the Cupertino firm also took the lead in eliminating mercury from its products. The latest iMac rentals also have mercury-free components, and arsenic-free glass, and represent the future of “non-toxic tech.” CRE also checks the manufacturing processes of the other companies whose products it rents, as CRE is committed to its own sustainability strategy, as outlined in its corporate “green statement.”

A little history

Recycling Computers Apple began a serious recycling program in 1994 and by 2007 it operated recycling centers in the countries where upwards of 80% of all iPods and Macintosh computers were sold. By the end of 2009, that figure had increased to over 90%. Hewlett-Packard, whose powerful HP8600 is one of CRE’s top computer rentals, is similarly committed to recycling and non-toxic manufacturing, and a critical mass of industry leaders has coalesced around a number of excellent standards and practices that are having great success.

Presently, there is no industry-standard way to assess the effectiveness of these recycling programs. Dell Computer has proposed a simple measure that projects a seven-year product lifetime, and measures the percentage of total weight recycled each year against the total weight of what was sold seven years earlier. This is a sensible proposal, with the added benefits of simplicity and transparency.

The way forward

For its part, Apple recycled 13 million pounds of e-waste in 2006, almost 10% of the weight of all products the company sold seven years prior. Apple executives expect this percentage to grow and, by 2010, project that the company will recycle 19 million pounds of e-waste, or nearly 30% of product weight sold in 2003 (seven years earlier). Apple’s high-end models, like CRE’s MacPro rentals and the iMac line, are not part of the Apple trade-in program yet, but the company offers 10% off a new iPod when a customer brings in an old one to recycle.

Whatever you need in the way of Apple products, potent PCs, plasma rentals or conference capabilities, it takes just a quick phone call or e-mail to get a CRE Account Executive working on a solution for you. If you know what you need, our Quick Rental Quote form is the way to go. CRE is proud to partner with Apple and other industry leaders in the “greening of technology,” and we will keep you updated on the progress!

March 18th, 2010

Today, companies of all kinds need to consider security. It used to be large firms or retail stores that used video surveillance and other tools, but with lawsuits concerning hostile workplaces, harassment and on-the-job injuries, more and more companies are equipping their properties with security cameras. Originally, systems were clunky and hard to control, but with the continuing progress in computing and communications,Security Systems new technologies emerged to combine the speed of computers with evolving camera and motion/heat sensors capabilities.

First things first with security systems

Do not go too fast when you decide to get a CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) system for your business. Approach the decision as any other, with research, study and plenty of poking around the right Web sites. You need to learn about pan/tilt/zoom cameras, wireless technology, DVRs and NVRs (Digital Video Recorders and Network Video Recorders), and the ways in which they work with computers as a central “command post.”

As with many first-time projects, it might behoove you to get one of the CRE Mac Pro rentals to use for your first setup, so you don’t have to ‘borrow’  other workstations from their current and ongoing duties. If you have PCs, you have even more choices of software, as Windows is far more widespread than the Mac OS. In that case, consider one of the CRE desktop rentals like the HP 8600, a powerful computer that can accommodate any surveillance setup.

Security offers multiple benefits

When you do decide to make the move to installing a system, remember that even the sight of a few pan/tilt/zoom cameras outside your business has a deterrent effect. You should not gamble on dummy cameras for an entire installation, but you can add a few in non-critical areas to buttress the message sent by the real ones. Software from commercial packages to freeware are available, and there is a particularly high number of shareware specialty programs for the Windows platform. Mac users have multiple options, too, as do users of Linux PCs.

A CCTV system, in fact, can safeguard your business in many ways. You can document accidents or other incidents involving customers, employees or both, and simply having the cameras can reduce your insurance premiums, too. Of course, having a safe, secure store environment – or office building, warehouse or studio – can be used as a selling point when promoting your business, too.

If you want to do a “test run” for a new computer-based security system, or need high-tech help for any kind of project from animation production to audience polling, our expert Account Executives will get you set up right. Call or e-mail for assistance, or fill out our Quick Rental Quote form, and you will be assisted swiftly and effectively. We’re here to support you, every day, in every way.

February 25th, 2010

Google WaveThe easiest way to explain Google Wave is to call it an “online collaboration platform”.   Various features of chat, texting, e-mail, Wikis, photo-sharing, blogging and instant messaging are brought to bear on a “hosted conversation,” or “wave.” Created by the Google brain trust, it is an open source product that will be integrated in zillions of ways with Facebook, Twitter, other Web sites and other software services. The software is in beta testing and will be released to the public sometime in 2010.

Wave has the potential to be a great tool for conferences and events by offering a  collaborative environment.  The “waves” — discussions, pictures, drawings, audio notes — can be “threaded” separately and can help event organizers, booth staff and conference attendees manage meetings, develop agendas, share content, capture data, record audio and video, and interact with one another in both planned and improvised ways.

Using the Wave with technology rentals

Google Wave is, of course, a computer tool and users will need good internet access and the right hardware, like CRE’s  tablet PC rentals, to make the most of it. With the ability to capture handwritten notes, audio and even video with a small, USB Flip camera, tablets are perfect for staying plugged-in while strolling about a convention or meeting facility.  In a seated seminar, laptop rentals would integrate perfectly with your “mobile tablet team,” and your booth in the exhibit hall can be “command central” with a computer rental.

As Wave matures, it is likely that mobile applications will emerge to make “waving” (perhaps there’s a better verb available) possible on cell phones, PDAs and iPads (here is our take on the iPad). During this process, Google will also have to address the various criticisms of Wave, which are to be expected in any new software product. There is a fairly stiff learning curve, although there are a lot of online tutorials from Google and third parties. With the plethora of options and tools, Wave can be a bit daunting at first glance, and there is no way to master it without jumping right in and devoting the time needed.

When you have questions about new technology – especially tools that can help you work more cost-effectively – give our Account Executives a call or send an e-mail. They stay abreast of all new products and services that can help you get your jobs done better. If you know what you need, use our Quick Rental Quote form. It may take time for everyone to catch this Wave, but it looks like it promises to be quite a ride.

February 23rd, 2010

Those of you who read Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, not to mention all the specialty TV-biz newsletters, know that the last six weeks or so have seen a lot of action on the TV pilot front. ABC gave the greenlight to two dramas and a comedy in one day, with Fox, NBC and CBS spreading out their action over a bit more calendar space. Fact is, though, that the pilot season is in full swing, which means companies great and small will be doing title sequences, post-processing, digital effects and other work for the producers of the shows. CRE, of course, specializes in supporting the entertainment industry with the best computers and other high-tech equipment.

Entertainment Industry Rentals

It was not that long ago that it took a room full of computing power to produce a single four-minute cartoon. Now there are independent films being created on single Macintoshes. Even the 17-inch iMac, for example, has a Core 2 Duo processor and a gigabyte of RAM, an unthinkably powerful combination that would have seemed otherworldly in the 2001 TV season (remember The Lone Gunmen?). It is muscular enough for audio/video chores and provides a potent platform for Adobe’s Creative Suite, too.

Technology rentals for the  entertainment industry

Running hither and yon to meetings, day and night? If you take along one of the CRE laptop rentals, like the HP NX9010 with a 3GHz Pentium, you will power your way through them all. You will be in constant contact with its WiFi, and the 1GB of RAM will keep you multitasking with notes, video clips, audio addenda and everything else that is likely to come up. Staying put at your desk? Offload your extra work to your assistant or pilot-season temp, outfitted with an HP/Compaq D510, a desktop rentals star with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4. This rental package comes with a 17-inch LCD monitor, too.

CRE covers you no matter what your production needs. From 30″ Apple Cinema Display rental for a big-screen work window, to powerful video and post solutions like the PowerMac G5 with Kona card rentals, we have it all. No matter what you have to do, we have the equipment to help you get it done, and everything arrives to you tested, double-checked and ready to rock, every time. Even more, we can provide the office equipment rentals to tie everything together – whether it’s an HP 4000N B&W laser printer or an all-in-one printer/fax/scanner. CRE has got you covered.

Need some help configuring a system or figuring out a solution for your pilot season workload? Our Account Executives know what you need and have been helping entertainment industry professionals of all kinds for a long, long time. We know what you’re up against, and we know how to help. Contact us today, or fill out a Quick Rental Quote form if you already know what you need, and we will get on the job for you, right now. We do our best to help you do your best, which is the kind of win-win formula we like.

January 15th, 2010

Technologies to Watch in 2010

Anything that affects your firm’s long-term plans and ongoing operations is called “a strategic consideration,” like the 2009 buzz phrase “going mobile.” New technologies always fit that description. No matter what industry you are in, you must start factoring new technologies into your strategic planning now. You must determine how to approach each of the top five new business technologies for 2010 that are presented here (in no particular order). We start with a “big buzz holdover” from 2009.

1. Cloud computing

Here it is again, waiting to be crowned As Important As The Wheel, which proponents insist will occur any day now. It does look promising, as cloud computing promises to deliver a huge menu of IT options to cost-conscious companies (and everyone else, eventually). Fact is, with an XServe rental from CRE you could create a cloud or two of your own, as well as educate your employees on the change that’s “right around the corner.”

2. Client computing

“Virtualization” means using computing applications in such a way that hardware and operating system (OS) considerations are not deal-killers. Companies need to look at everything from device specifications, ownership/support of hardware and software selection to management structure and security. Getting a powerful desktop rental can help you discover the difference between running your current, aging hardware and the new generations of Macintosh and PC computers, especially in terms of the new Internet standards heading your way.

3. Flash memory

Flash memory is increasingly important for storage solutions. The kind of semiconductor memory device found in USB “thumb drives” and digital camera cards, flash memory is smaller, sturdier and faster than hard drives. Flash memory will come to dominate embedded systems, personal electronics and mass storage, and laptop rentals will include units with solid-state flash memory soon after they hit the market. Flash memory provides advantages in space, heat resistance, power consumption, ruggedness and speed.

4. Advanced analytics

A variety of analytical tools help companies investigate alternative scenarios and manufacturing/marketing outcomes. Fixed rules and inflexible policies are being replaced by informed decision-making based on “the right information at the right time.” Since advanced analytics provide overlapping, real-time alternatives and predictions, not just dry data, it may take a widescreen LCD monitor rental to keep everything in front of you at once while you make some very important decisions.

5. Mobile applications

Some 1.2 billion people around the world will be using devices capable of truly interactive, mobile commerce by the end of 2010. In an environment where mobility is converging with wireless and the Web, a huge number of new applications will pop up. There are already almost 100,000 programs for the Apple iPhone and Google-ized Droid, even with the high prices and unique coding for each device. Newer software programs will operate on both mobile computers, like tablet PC rentals, as well as a range of mobile systems – netbooks, phones, PDAs and even portable media players.

Did we miss any technologies that should be watched? We’d love to hear from you.

January 12th, 2010

NetbookThe only thing constant is change, right? This past year proved that the computer industry still had product niches left to develop and exploit. The rise of the “netbook” – a low- to medium-power, small-format computer with a bright screen, built-in WiFi, and basic productivity software that will never be confused for a rootin’ tootin’ laptop, like the new MacBook rental – proves the computer companies are still thinking about their product lines (and bottom lines, of course).

The move to “pocket computers” follows the trend to smartphones, of which the iPhone and the new Google-powered Droid are prime examples. The phones are truly pocket-sized, can run tons of “apps” that are easily downloaded for low or no cost, and are great for quick messages as well as long talks. The netbooks, most with keyboards between 60-80% the size of a normal PC laptop, offer real e-mail interaction, a normal Web experience with a real browser, memory card slots, USB ports, Ethernet — wow, just like a real computer!

Critical mass for netbooks

Interestingly, it was the niche players — companies like Acer and Asus that were more business- than consumer-oriented, and also sold motherboards and other components — that drove the development of netbooks. Soon enough, major players like Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba and Hewlett-Packard which makes everything from netbooks to high-power desktops (available as a rental), were in the game.

You won’t be doing Vegas Video editing on a netbook, and forget Final Cut Pro as Apple, despite persistent rumors, has steadfastly refused to enter the fray with a “Mac netbook.” The processors, although Intel, aren’t quad-core, dual-core or even hard-core (like some tried-and-true Pentiums). More powerful CPUs will not be possible until better battery technology is available, and dissipating heat is always a problem in small spaces where fans don’t fit.

“Phone-replacement” computers?

Businesses may find a use for netbooks as smartphone replacements, but they are simply not fast enough, and the screens are too small, to be true laptop replacements. If you need a powerful HP or Mac laptop in your line of work, an Atom-powered HP Mini is just not going to cut it. In fact, if you need a few laptops for your department to stay in touch at a conference, take notes, send e-mails and browse prospects’ (or competitors’) sites, you’d be pushing a poor little netbook into a nervous breakdown.

As always,  get the right tool for the job. If you need help figuring out just what that is, call one of our expert Account Executives today. If you like, explain your situation in an e-mail or, if you know what you need, just send us a Quick Rental Quote form. We will make sure you have exactly what you need to do the job right.

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