5 Benefits Of Help Desk Software

hds1Help desk software provides an exemplary customer service and better employee needs. However, apart from these benefits, there are variety advantages in having this kind of software. First, the software enables you to find the best person to solve any IT related concerns. All problems from user phone call, email, web interface and event management can be classified using the help desk. Through this, incident reports are prioritized well and assigned to the appropriate staff. Second, the help desk software lets you manage any problems well. Since you can get all the relevant information, you can easily identify the major causes of such incidents. An example product is here.

Third, the software lets you schedule, customize and send the reports accordingly. Every business requires having a constant monitoring of sales and through the software; reports are organized and created properly. Fourth, the software provides security as it limits the persons who can access the website. This avoids spams and other fraudulent activities that can ruin the business. Lastly, IT staffs that are living in remote areas can access the website through this software. It will be easier for them to access the site with uptight security. As long as help desk software is installed, the business will run through properly.

Importance Of Having Help Desk Software

Help desk software is created in order to eliminate the manual online processes and to provide an efficient work instead. The reason why several business owners are placing this software on their website is due to its numerous benefits. First, it allows a smarter multitasking. Rather than going through all departments and check the problems individually, the software allows you to identify any concerns and focus on it right away.  It prioritizes the problems and provides solutions in order to deliver the best services for the customers. Second, the help desk software customizes your needs accordingly. It allows you to gather information as possible, organize it and do something about it.

You will not have a hard time delivering reports because the software makes every task easier. Third, help desk allows you to auto assign a certain task to a group of people. You will not have a hard time passing the responsibilities because if a specific problem arises, it will be solved by the right people. For instance, if the customer has specific product complaints, he/she will be directed to the people assigned on it. These are the reasons why help desk software is beneficial to use in every business.

Planning An Anniversary In Style

Our years are punctuated by celebrations. When we gather together for special occasions, we should remember the good company, the beautiful setting, and the delicious food. And everyone should have a stress-free day – including the host and hostess.

glassesPLANNING THE MENU. Following the adage that you should never try out a new recipe when cooking for company, we looked through our “recipe file” and prepared some of our readers’ favorite dishes. based on those recipes, we created a seasonal menu that’s simple to prepare and easy to serve-even in the large quantities required to satisfy a crowd. With a selection of country breads, cheeses, olives, and other nibbles purchased from your local gourmet shop or supermarket and the addition of a spiral-cut ham that can be ordered by mail and warmed in your oven on the morning of the party, we’ve assured that there’s plenty of food on hand for everyone to enjoy.

CHOOSING A LOCATION. Although a vast expanse of lawn provides the ideal party venue for our informal buffet, a private backyard, a secluded patio, or an ample deck or porch can also be configured in a festive fashion. Give guests the freedom to help themselves to whatever they choose (no need to worry about spilling something on the rug), and offer them the convenience and conviviality of gathering around a well-laid table rather than balancing plate and glass as they eat.

SETTING THE SCENE. We coordinated the setting and service of our anniversary celebration. She offers the following tips for easy entertaining:

Use things already on hand in creative new ways. For our party, a variety of tables were pulled from the house and the barn to create a buffet that presented distinct “stations” devoted to finger foods, main dishes, desserts, and so forth. The mix of styles provided an interesting surface for the food, and the space between the tables made it possible for guests to serve themselves at their leisure, without standing in a long buffet line. The table used to present the cake even had a shelf beneath it that offered storage for the dessert plates and silver.

* A washtub on wheels (an antiques-show discovery) served as a portable ice bucket big enough to chill champagne for a crowd.

* A vintage bread box became a stylish bread server.

* The collection of baskets used to carry stacks of glasses, plates, and silver from house to backyard took their place right on the buffet.

* The covered glass jar used to chill the fruit compote made an attractive container from which to serve it.

Plan as far ahead as possible. If you have room to store them, buy useful things in multiples when you see them priced reasonably at flea markets, tag sales, or antiques shops.

(Today’s prices may seem like a bargain a year from now!)

* For wineglasses, we used basic barware by Libby. Simple and durable, these glasses can be purchased by the case and used time and time again.

* Our 16 matching bluegreen chairs were lucky finds, purchased from a sale at a New England inn several years ago with no special purpose in mind. A collection of mismatched sidechairs would do the job well, too.

Incorporate the best nature has to offer into both the menu and the decor. Always look at the overall view and take advantage of unexpected options.

* A field of corn serves as the backdrop for our long dining table, and fresh-cut hydrangeas from Peri’s garden were used to make the simple, yet elegant, centerpieces.

* When Peri opened the barn doors, the building’s functional contents became a decorative element.

* The buffet of seasonal dishes was served in abundance on a natural surface of cabbage leaves, in “bowls” made from seasonal produce, and on simple trays. No extra flowers were needed.

When planning a party for friends and family, you can feel free to use your imagination, relax, and have fun. After all, anniversaries are times for reflection, occasions for remembering, looking forward, and celebrating with the people we care about most. Happy anniversary, and enjoy the party!

Porch Partyin’

In Louisiana, spring presents the ideal time to dine on the porch, and Vikki and Bryan Colwell take full advantage of the season’s inviting weather – as well as the gardenias, hydrangeas, and agapanthus abloom in their garden – by entertaining outdoors often. The secret to their success is to keep things as simple as possible. For this elegant porch party for six, that meant ordering in food from their favorite restaurant, the Dakota, in Covington, La.

Chefs Kenneth LaCour, Jr. and Kim Kringlie collaborated with the Colwells to plan a menu centered on local specialties: festive icebreakers, a garden-fresh salad, and an abundant seafood buffet featuring crawfish, oysters, shrimp, and blue crabs. The easy-to-prepare entree, Baked Red Snapper, paves the way for a dessert cart filled with classic Southern-style temptations: pecan pie, strawberry shortcake, and decadent pralines.

You can re-create the mood of the Colwells’ party on your own porch, patio, or balcony by using the recipes that follow and supplementing the buffet with favorite dishes prepared for you by a favorite restaurant or seafood market near you. Whatever menu you choose, there’s something inexplicably satisfying about eating a meal outside: Somehow the food just seems to taste better, and you always want more.

freshmintSo relax, enjoy these mild evenings of spring and the milder ones of summer to come, and open your back door to your friends, your imagination, and your appetite. The only rules are to relax, take things slow, and enjoy the lovely view.

The Dakota Bloody Mary

Flavored with ground nutmeg and canned “olive juice,” this Bloody Mary has become a favorite with customers at the Dakota Restaurant, in Covington, La.

MAKES 1 SERVING

2/3 cup vegetable juice cocktail 3 tablespoons vodka 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 1/2 teaspoon grated horseradish 1/2 teaspoon “olive juice,” reserved from can of green cocktail olives 1/8 teaspoon celery salt 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper Crushed ice 1 lemon slice or pickled asparagus spear

1 In an old-fashioned glass, combine vegetable juice cocktail, vodka, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, olive juice, celery salt, nutmeg, and pepper; stir well.

2 Add ice to fill, garnish with lemon slice or asparagus spear, and serve.

Nutrition information per serving – protein: 1 g; fat: .2 g; carbohydrate: 8 g; fiber: 1 g; sodium: 673 mg; cholesterol: 0; calories: 130.

Banana Daiquiri

Corn syrup may be substituted for the simple syrup.

MAKES 1 SERVING

1 small ripe banana, unpeeled 1/4 cup crushed ice 2 1/2 tablespoons light rum 2 tablespoons banana-flavored liqueur 1 1/2 teaspoons Rose’s lime juice 1 1/2 teaspoons Simple Syrup (see Note)

1 Cut a 2-inch piece from the stem end of the banana and reserve. Peel remainder and cut into chunks.

2 In blender, combine remaining banana, the ice, rum, liqueur, lime juice, and syrup; blend until smooth.

3 Pour into decorative glass, garnish with reserved banana, and serve.

Note: To make Simple Syrup: In 1-quart saucepan, heat 1/2 cup water to boiling over high heat. Add 1 cup sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool 5 minutes. Store in airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Makes 1 cup Simple Syrup.

Nutrition information per serving – protein: 1 g; fat: .6 g; carbohydrate: 51 g; fiber: 2 g; sodium: 8 mg; cholesterol: 0: calories: 331.

Mint Julep

Mint juleps make many a May get-together in the South memorable.

MAKES 1 SERVING

6 leaves fresh mint Crushed ice 1/4 cup bourbon 1 1/2 teaspoons simple syrup or corn syrup (see Note on this page) 1 sprig fresh mint

1 Place mint leaves in mint-julep cup. Using an iced-tea spoon, mash the mint.

2 Add ice to almost fill glass. Add bourbon and syrup. Stir to combine and pour into decorative glass, if desired. Garnish with mint sprig and serve.

Nutrition information per serving – protein: 0; fat: 0; carbohydrate: 8 g; fiber: 0; sodium: 5 mg; cholesterol: 0; calories: 155.

Does Sex Really Sell?

In nearby North Carolina, a man sneaks a sidelong glance at his neighbor as they stand at a row of urinals–”See how you measure up”–in a call-for-submissions poster for the Piedmont Triad Advertising Federation’s Addy competition. The theme reflects the contest’s rigid judging standards, and the Burris Agency in High Point was proud to have offended “the suits”: “If it doesn’t make someone nervous, you shouldn’t do it, because it will just be part of the general clutter,” reasons copywriter LeAnn Wilson-McGuire. Modestly accomplished, the poster delivers the informational goods while ridiculing awards as a yardstick by which designers measure their self-worth–and unlike the Virginia version, it skewers male vanity, letting women in on the daring, if dated, joke.

Let’s move up to the alleged urban sophistication of New York, where the Addy Club promotion emphasizes designers’ obsession with the work, not the prize. A call-for-entries poster depicts a deep blue Manhattan night, a distant apartment with a well-lit window, and a nearly naked man and woman on the verge of a tender embrace. In the foreground, a guy with a scruffy beard gapes through a pair of binoculars–not at the pre-coital couple but at a three-story image of a yellow rubber duckie on the side of a building. (The duckie, with the Mercedes-Benz logo imprinted on its eyes, was the winning entry from last year’s contest.) The image, by New York agency Hill Holliday, attempts to convey that advertising can be more compelling, more stimulating, than sex, and the Club is pleased with its “irreverence.” Its execution, however, is about as funny and racy as a Playboy cartoon circa 1958.

Jumping over to stiff-upper-lipped Britain, the London Association of Designers & Art Directors hoped to reposition itself as a youthful, hip organization when it assigned Saatchi & Saatchi and Farrow Design to promote its world-wide competition. One resulting ad shows a harsh Polaroid-style photo of a man’s black nylon briefs bulging with the contour of D&AD’s Yellow Pencil award; another equally artless ad shows the Pencil standing amidst vibrators and dildos in a medicine cabinet. And a graphic for the call-for-entries brochure imprints the Pencil on individual Viagra tablets–as if one prize-as-potency-pill ploy wasn’t already one too many. D&AD’s chief executive David Kester says that those who take offense are simply missing the point, but there isn’t much of a point here, other than the one on his Pencil. The concepts are so trite, their presentations so dry and reserved, that any irony in using this stubby writing utensil as an icon of sexual ecstasy is easily lost. And so we’re left with a campaign that somehow is both stiff and limp.

whatsex

Cheeky ad, right??

Back in New York, we have a promotion for the international competition held by the locally based Art Directors Club. The ADC, also intent on shaking its over-the-hill image, had MTV’s off-air creative group design its call-for-entries mailer. The teaser copy, “By yourself,” unfolds to a Seussian “With the TV on. In a group. On the Web. In the dark. With a magazine.” The full poster depicts a computer-generated illustration of a gigantic pulsating vibrator, dubbed the “creative stimulator,” glowing in brilliant yellow with an acid-green handle; bulbous, rubberized protrusions on its pink neck; and missile-shaped extensions on its silver metallic head, ribbed for who-knows-whose pleasure. The payoff: “However you get off, get it in by January 15, 1999.”

Its visual treatment isn’t particularly innovative, echoing the macho cybergraphic style demonstrated throughout the 1990s by Thirst, Me Company, and the late P. Scott Makela. And the sexual entendres are puerile. Yet the poster proved popular among its intended audience, many of whom displayed it in their studios like a high-tech tribal totem. It also unleashed a Pandora’s box of vitriol. Critics denounced the ADC’s creative stimulator as ugly, obnoxious, demented, and “obviously designed by a male with a very small penis”; one former ADC president threatened, in a scathing letter to its board of directors, that he would “do everything to see that you will not get an opportunity to produce more crude junk.” Even D&AD Pencil-pusher Kester considers it “disgusting and obscene.”

But the ADC claims to be unfazed, citing “scintillating” responses as proof of the psychedelic power tool’s ability to excite. Indeed, the Vibrator From Another Planet succeeds by the sheer force of its out-of-control lunacy. Its execution is so patently absurd as to parody the notion of the creative process as a source of self-gratification, and its self-consciously sophomoric stance takes a well-deserved poke at venerated views of high design and refined taste. While the creators of most of the other designs are relatively clumsy and restrained in their approach, this team is not only having comfortably uninhibited fun itself, it’s also sharing the fun with its “partners,” the audience that appreciates the poster’s subtext. And this is what brings the work beyond sex into something resembling love.

Max Bruinsma, former editor of the British magazine Eye, recently wrote about D&AD’s Pencil and ADC’s vibrator without drawing much distinction between them. He admonished designers to spend less time “getting off on their own work” and more time listening to the needs of their clients. But ironically, both pieces fulfill their creative briefs perfectly; their clients credit them for marked upswings in submissions. And their functional success is to be expected: With jaded, cynical creatives as their target, sex-as-sales-strategy is an effective approach for appearing transgressive while assuring bang-for-the-buck results.

Bruinsma also blasted both campaigns as masturbatory and products of male-centered egoism, “just too phallic to be trusted!” His broad-stroke condemnation and strict equation of aggression with masculinity misinterprets the ADC’s stimulator–it’s tongue-in-cheek, not hand-on-crotch. But countering the argument may be futile; considering his apparent scorn for graphic self-pleasure, it’s unlikely he’d ever heed the humbling advice often meted out to those who can’t take a joke.

While most of the work here fails to satisfy esthetically, the ADC’s–and, to a lesser extent, the Piedmont Triad Advertising Federation’s–calls-for-entries demonstrate that, properly handled, the male organ (and bad taste) have a place in graphic design. This isn’t to say that the profession isn’t capable of producing a much higher caliber of design. Perhaps a future wave of promotions using female iconography would generate even more controversy, but they also might be smarter, subtler, and more sophisticated.

A Great Man

Polymath and iconoclast P. Scott Makela, who died suddenly on May 7 at age 39, seemed to be the pure embodiment of his time and place. He was a digitally-based designer whose highly charged graphics, film, and video work for such corporate and cultural clients as Nike, Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records, Propaganda Films, MCI, MTV, and Kodak pushed the boundaries of traditional design and perfectly expressed the excitement of new technology and global communications that characterizes the 1990s.

makelaDesign was both a religious and a sexual experience for Makela; his designs tapped into base emotions and elemental concepts. A typical Makela poster or composition reveals hierarchies of information. Juxtaposing bold typography with strong visual images, he created new levels of meaning from the raw materials of each assignment, going beyond what clients expected, to produce work uniquely his own.

Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, Makela received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Minnesota, a BFA in 1985 in graphic design from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and an MFA in 1991 from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where, with his wife, Laurie Haycock Makela, he served as co-chair of the 2-D design program from 1996 until his death.

Katherine McCoy, a mentor of Makela’s and former co-chair of the Cranbrook design program, describes his attraction to technology as inherent. “Scott was the most fearless of design students,” she recalls, “plunging head-first into each new technological opportunity and making it his own. His optimistic passion and inclusiveness led him to harness the power of digital media to animate everything from traditional print to a broad range of electronic communications that included motion and sound.”

Makela’s fascination with the potential of the computer began in art school, where he struggled to bend the machine to his will. Jan Jancourt, associate professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and a close friend, recalls Makela’s time at the school: “He was one of the first to really force the computer to go beyond the commercial norm of its capabilities. He spent hours and hours trying to push its limits, to make it do exactly what he wanted it to do.” According to Makela’s brother, Eric, Makela claimed to be the second person in the Twin Cities to purchase the first generation of the Macintosh Computer–very costly at the time–as soon as it became available.

It was his facility with computers that attracted the attention of graphic designer April Greiman, a visiting artist at MCAD during Makela’s undergraduate days. She encouraged him to visit California after graduation. And so, with no apparent hesitation, upon graduation Makela left immediately for Los Angeles with MCAD classmate Paul Knickelbine and set up a design practice, Makela+Knickelbine Design. “We went out there in a rusted-out Chevy with just $300 to our name,” says Knickelbine, a graphic designer now based near Milwaukee. “It wasn’t too long before things started to happen. We had every kind of client you could imagine: plastic surgeons, drycleaners, hardware stores, microbreweries, printers.”

Pretty soon, Makela began teaching at Otis-Parsons Institute of Design and at the California Institute of Arts. It was while teaching at Cal Arts that he met Laurie Haycock, whom he later married. “I was in charge of the graphic design program at Cal Arts when I hired Scott to teach a graphics class,” recalls Lorraine Wild, graphic designer and Cranbrook graduate. (Wild also hired Laurie.) “He was so ebullient and full of energy, so extraordinarily generous, even though he was only a few years out of undergraduate school himself. His willingness to explore new ideas, his interest in technology at an early stage of the computer age, and his forays into music were all really very exciting and of interest to students.” According to Wild, the Makelas would assign students a project that required them to engage the environment, to put themselves out on a limb by favoring personal expression over conventional graphic design refinement.

The late ’80s was a period of severe questioning of all graphic design, brought on by the advent of new technologies. Traditional designers were unwilling or afraid to use computers, decrying their tendency to compromise technique, while new-wave designers were quick to embrace the liberating, rule-breaking qualities of the machine. It was a perfect time for experimentation–and the perfect time for Makela.

I met him in 1989 at a transition point between his West Coast period and his student life further east at Cranbrook, where both he and Laurie completed their MFAs. We were both teaching in the design department at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design–he taught graphic design and I, design theory. I distinctly recall that after every conversation with him I would come away feeling a bit anxious. I didn’t know why this was so–I just knew that here was a man who exuded exceptional energy and light. His enthusiasm was contagious.

At first I thought it was a California thing, something picked up on the West Coast. Makela’s speech pattern was so rapid-fire that he had trouble getting complete sentences out, as if a completely phrased thought would die of boredom if allowed to hang in the air. New thoughts crowded out old ones as his brain hurried to get to the next interesting idea. But this was Makela’s way of inhabiting the territory before others got there.

This was his design approach as well: Layer upon layer of images and type are built up until the composite almost overwhelms you–to many people, the visual equivalent of speaking in tongues. However, in a Makela composition, all the layers have meaning. Makela worked hard to create a rich and complex message that relied as much on the emotional content of images as on the sense of words.

Despite their unconventional nature, Makela’s potent mixtures seem ideally suited to today’s commercial enterprises, especially in light of growing interest in e-commerce. And the name of his graphics and interactive media company–Words+Pictures for Business+Culture–perfectly expressed this trope in the dialectical shorthand he’d come to favor.

After graduate school at Cranbrook, Makela returned to Minneapolis so that Laurie could assume the duties of design director at the Walker Art Center. He once expressed to me his frustration at not getting any in-town clients, and at being the stay-at-home dad whose primary responsibilities were to take care of his and Laurie’s infant daughter, Carmela. (Being a father was something he accepted willingly and without regret–family meant a great deal to him. Besides Carmela, now 9, the Makelas have an infant son, Nikolai.) As with most men (and women) who are dependent on their spouses to carry the breadwinning load, Makela suffered the egodeflating experience of being cut off from professional contacts. But this quickly passed after he was commissioned by MCAD to design its new recruitment catalog. Perhaps more than any previous work, Makela’s provocative, controversial design opened the door for his subsequent client work and numerous invitations to lecture.

Makela’s approach to design was as a fine artist; each graphic problem was a unique solution or reflected his particular way of seeing. In recent years, he was most proud of his work on the Communications Theatre at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, a multimedia project that introduces visitors at a very experiential level to how the earth and its living creatures evolved.

Makela also designed animated title sequences for videos and films, including music videos for Miles Davis, 10,000 Maniacs, and Michael Jackson’s “Scream,” and, in collaboration with Jeffery Plansker and David Fincher, opening titles for Fincher’s films The Game (1997) and Fight Club (1999).

The connections between print, film, video, music, and interface design were always present for Makela. He was adept at creating and producing original musical compositions, first through a progressive Christian rock group called Manasseh, for which he played bass and sang, and later, through a family-based effort, “post-industrial rock” music, called “AudioAfterBirth,” distributed through Emigre.

“Scott’s message,” says Katherine McCoy, “would seem to be that the more virtual and mediated our lives, the more hyper-physical we must be. The further his work moved into electronic media, the more it seemed the natural expression of his forceful physicality. The body, its parts and processes–including his, his wife’s, his daughter’s–provided him with powerful imagery. He found meaning in physicality and poetry in biological processes, even those that many might find distasteful or shocking or just too personal.

“All of living informed his work and his enthusiasm compelled him to use it all as raw material for his subject matter, embracing the moment and hyper-conscious. Horrible or beautiful, but never neutral. Always in overdrive.”