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July 10th, 2014

Security_July07_ABYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is one of the most common business trends of the past couple of years. To many, the idea of bringing their own phone, tablet, laptop, or even computer to the office is ideal because it is a system they are undoubtedly familiar with. They may also view personal devices as better than the office models. Even if you don't allow your employees to bring their own devices to work, there is a good chance they do anyways. However, this could pose a security risk that needs to be dealt with.

What should I do about BYOD?

The first reaction of many office managers and business owners, worried about security threats that could stem from BYOD, is to impose an outright ban of devices. While telling your staff they are not to use their devices for work may seem like a quick and easy solution, you can be 100% sure that there will be employees who ignore this policy and use their personal devices for work regardless.

This could put your business at a higher security risk if the rule is ignored, especially if you don't implement any security measures to protect your networks and data. In order to minimize the potential threats BYOD can expose your business to, we suggest you do the following:

1. Consider embracing BYOD

Instead of simply banning personal devices in the workplace take a step back and look to see if there are any benefits BYOD can offer. For example, if you operate on razor thin margins and have not replaced hardware in years, there is a good chance your employees will have better systems at hand. This could help you reduce your overall tech costs.

The same goes for phones for your employees. Why not offer to pay for the plan and allow employees to use their own devices? Of course, you are going to want to implement security measures and usage rules, but if this is easily achieved then it may help reduce your overall operating costs. Before you do implement a system like this however, we strongly recommend you read the rest of this article and follow the steps below.

2. Set up separate networks for employee devices

Oftentimes, the main reason employees bring their devices to the office and use them for work purposes, especially when it comes to mobile phones, is because they can happily connect to Wi-Fi for free without using their data plans throughout the day.

Chances are high that because they use the work Wi-Fi on their device for non-work tasks, they simply keep using the device when they are doing work related activities. This could pose a security risk, especially if you run business-critical operations on the same network. You could nip this potential problem in the bud and simply install another Wi-Fi network for mobile devices and non-critical business processes.

It is usually quite affordable to simply purchase another line and the networking equipment to support this, not to mention the fact that it will keep business-critical processes secure from errant malware. As an added bonus, you will likely see increased productivity because the bandwidth demand will be limited, so important data will move quicker.

3. Educate your staff about security

In our experience, the vast majority of BYOD related security risks are exposed by mistake. An employee may have a virus on a personal phone and be unaware of it. When they connect to the network it can then be unintentionally spread to other computers resulting in a potentially massive security breach.

One of the simplest ways to prevent this is to educate your employees about proper mobile safety. This includes how to spot apps that could contain malware, sharing security threat updates, and teaching your employees how to secure their devices. You really need to stress just how important security is to them.

On top of this, contact an IT expert like us for a recommended anti-virus and spyware scanner for mobile devices that users can easily install. Encourage employees to not just install this but to keep it up to date too. Many of these mobile specific scanners are free and just as powerful as desktop versions.

4. Work with an IT partner to establish a solution that works for you

Beyond education and simple network establishment, it is a great idea to work with an IT partner like us. As experts, we keep tabs on the trends and solutions related to BYOD and will work with you to establish a program that works for your company.

It may be that you don't actually need to integrate BYOD but to update hardware or software to newer versions instead. It could be that there is a simple solution to employees feeling frustrated with slow performance of existing systems at work.

If you do implement BYOD, we can help establish security measures and policies that will ensure your networks and employee devices are secure. The best advice we can give however, is to do this before you start allowing BYOD, as it can be far more challenging to implement and enforce changes when employees are already using their devices at work.

Looking to learn more? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 9th, 2014

OSX_July07_AWhen it comes to new technology, there is always concern when integrating it into existing business systems. This is especially true for cloud storage, where one of the most common concerns is over the security of the data being stored. One of the best ways to ensure the security of a cloud storage system is to employ two-factor authentication. In an effort to make their cloud storage service more secure, Apple has recently introduced two-step authentication for iCloud.

What exactly is two-step authentication?

Two-factor or two-step authentication as Apple calls it, is a security method whereby you need to supply two different pieces of information in order to access your account. For the majority of systems this means your password and another piece of identification or a code that has been sent to say a mobile phone or generated by a key fob.

The reason two-step authentication has become so popular, and is being implemented in numerous systems, is that it is more secure than just using your password to access your account. Because the majority of platforms choose to use your mobile phone to generate the second code - usually through an SMS - there is a good chance that other people will not be able to access your account.

In the specific case of iCloud, you will need to enter this code when accessing iCloud or iCloud Web apps like Calendar, Contacts, Mail or Notes. When you try to access an app on a new system you will need to enter your password and a four digit code sent to your mobile phone over SMS.

How to set up two-step authentication for iCloud

If you use iCloud or iCloud's Web apps you can enable two-step authentication by following these steps:
  1. Going to the iCloud website and logging in using the username and password you would like to enable the extra authentication for.
  2. Clicking on your account name, which is located at the top-right of the page, and selecting Account Settings.
  3. Clicking on your Apple ID followed by Manage your Apple ID in the new page that opens.
  4. Signing in with your Apple ID again and clicking on Password and Security.
  5. Entering the answer to two of your security questions and then selecting Continue.
  6. Reading the information about two-step authentication on the three following screens and clicking Get started.
  7. Setting a phone number in the following screen. Be sure to use a number tied to a phone that can accept SMS or text messages.
  8. Entering the code that was sent to the phone number you set in the previous step.
  9. Selecting your phone from the list of devices and clicking Verify.
  10. Entering the code that is sent to the device you just selected and clicking Continue.
  11. Printing or copying the verification key in the window that pops up. You will need to keep this in order to access your account if you switch phone numbers.
  12. Re-entering the verification key and clicking Enable two-step verification.
  13. Checking the box to show that you acknowledge the two-step verification and understand what it means.
  14. Clicking Done.
The next time you try to log into iCloud, you should be asked to enter the two-step verification code that will be sent to the mobile device you established in the steps above. It's true that this is a bit of a hassle to set up, but it really does enhance the security of your account and should be enabled, especially if you have connected a credit card or uploaded sensitive information to your account.

If you are looking to learn more about enhancing the security of your Mac laptop or desktop, contact us today to see how our systems can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
July 8th, 2014

Web_July07_AOne of the hottest tech debates of the past couple of years is whether the cloud is a viable solution for businesses. For those business owners who have deemed that the cloud is a viable solution for their business, the first question they often ask is what workload, or existing system, should they move to the cloud.

Here is an overview of some of the more popular cloud solutions small to medium businesses might want to implement:

Email

All businesses, regardless of their size, rely on email these days. In the past, many businesses wanting individualized email addresses needed to host the email client on their own servers. This demanded an IT staff and investment into an email specific server, which many simply couldn't afford or manage themselves.

The cloud has changed all this for the better, by allowing you to move your email hosting to a cloud-based solution whereby you don't have to manage or invest in the hardware needed to run your email as the host is usually responsible for that.

What many business users enjoy about cloud-based email is that it is usually more affordable than an on-premise solution, especially if that existing set-up is an aging one. Switching to email in the cloud will reduce costs. On top of this, because these services are usually managed by a skilled IT company, you can guarantee that they are not only up-to-date but also secure.

File storage

Mention the cloud and many people automatically think of cloud storage services. These are a dime a dozen and are often the most popular type of cloud solution employed in businesses.

There are many business oriented cloud storage services that offer ample storage as well as the security needed to ensure that critical data is secure both on the service and when it is in transit between your systems and the cloud.

Much like email, many of these services are managed by IT professionals who ensure the system is up-to-date and secure. Also, some offer a storage rate that is on a par with, or less expensive than, physical hard drives, which can help you save money in the long run.

Hosting servers

Some businesses require numerous servers in order to support operations. A problem with physical servers is that they require in-house IT staff in order to manage them. They also can be quite bulky and resource demanding, which can lead to high IT bills.

One option many small businesses are embracing is the cloud-based server. The idea is that the same capability is delivered over the Internet, without the need for a server to be located at your physical business. This frees up space, while allowing for easier management.

When many business owners do due diligence on different server solutions, they quickly find out that cloud-based servers are often more economical in the long run, especially if the business is running older hardware or operating on a lower budget.

Ecommerce

Ask any business owner who runs an ecommerce business how resource intensive it is, and they will be quick to tell you that managing an in-house solution is not only costly, but can be inefficient, especially when you try to scale your store.

Over the past few years, a number of powerful cloud-based ecommerce platforms have been introduced that not only allow you to easily manage an online store, but also scale without the costly hardware investment. Beyond this, because the servers that host the cloud solutions pool resources, you can be sure that your store will always be available online, even if you are experiencing heavy traffic. This could crash on-premise solutions found in many small businesses.

Like many of the other cloud solutions, ecommerce cloud solutions can be managed by an IT team, leaving you to focus on running your business.

Document creation and collaboration

A common trend in many businesses is the increasing reliance on remote workers. If your company employs remote workers there is a good chance that you have run into at least some productivity issues. If you are using a traditional document creation system, time will have been lost passing different versions of documents back and forth and ensuring everyone is using the same version.

There are a number of great cloud-based document creation services available to businesses. These services offer features that ensure that documents are always up-to-date on all systems, while promoting collaboration.

Because these services are accessed over the Web, you don't need to purchase expensive licenses for each user, but pay a minimal monthly fee instead. In general, companies that have moved to a cloud-based document suite have seen a ROI in excess of 300% and an overall increase in productivity.

Backup and recovery

Believe it or not, your business is constantly facing disaster. Not every disaster will be enough to wipe your business out, but even a small one, like a hard drive crash, could be enough to put a damper on your overall business success and profits. It therefore pays to be prepared with a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity Plan in place.

One of the most essential elements of these plans is a backup of your data. Because cloud solutions are off-site, you can backup your data and systems so these backups are available, should disaster strike and you can't access your data.

Many of these backup solutions can be automated to ensure systems are backed up regularly, and also offer speedy recovery time. Some businesses have seen their critical systems back online in as short as half an hour after re-establishing network connection.

If you are looking to move your business into the cloud, contact us today to learn more about our products and cloud services.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web
July 8th, 2014

GoogleApps_July07_AIt has become somewhat of a tradition for the big tech companies to hold an annual conference where they talk about trends and products the company is working on. For Google, this is I/O, which is held annually at the end of May or June. This year, it was held on June 25 and 26, and as usual, Google has some big announcements that business owners will be interested to know about.

During I/O, Google announced a ton of new products and features, while also holding seminars and sessions all related to developing programs and solutions using Google's various programs and devices. The most popular event however is the keynote, where the company provides a high-level glance at the most exciting developments to come in the next year or so. Here is a brief overview of the five most business-relevant announcements.

Android L

Overall, Android has grown immensely over the past five or so years. It's now the world's most popular mobile operating system and there are a wide range of businesses using Android devices. On an almost yearly basis, Google has announced a new version of Android, but over the past few years there hasn't really been a major overhaul to the system. Google aims to change that this year with Android L.

The next version of Android will feature a redesigned User Interface that is not only more modern but also smarter and more colorful. Using a new layout system, called material design, Android L aims to provide a consistent look across all apps and devices. For example, the Gmail app will look the same on a tablet as it does on your phone.

Aside from a new look and interface, there are also a number of features introduced with Android L, including:

  • A new way to display notifications - These will also be displayed on your locked screen.
  • Increased dependence between apps - Google is aiming to make it so that apps work better together. The example showcased at the conference displayed a Google search for a restaurant using Chrome, and a search result allowing you to book a table directly from another app, without having to close Chrome and open the table booking app.
  • Faster operation - Google has developed a new way to put the OS together, which will allow apps to run faster, smoother, and more efficiently on the same hardware.
  • Better battery life - A new mobile project Google is working on, called project Volta, will allow app developers to track and easily see where their app is using increased battery power. This can then be investigated and changes implemented wherever possible to limit this energy drain. This will help ensure better battery life overall. There will also be a new power saving mode, allowing users to lengthen battery life by up to 90 minutes when their device's battery is low.
There are also likely to be a slew of new and improved features introduced when Android L is released which, according to Google, should be sometime in the fall - likely late September or October.

Android Wear

The company noted that they were going to get into the smartwatch game earlier this year, and at I/O they introduced a number of new smartwatches and an Android Wear app you install on your phone that gives these watches functionality. Think of these watches as an extension of your phone; showing relevant information and notifications. In other words, they are really kind of like Google Now on your wrist.

In the demo we saw, your watch will show upcoming events and information related to your location. So, for example, if you have a flight in three hours, you will be able to access your flight information, boarding pass, and even receive updates about the status on your watch, without having to look at your phone.

It can also function as your notification center. You can set your phone to buzz when you receive a new email and read it without looking at your phone. You can even interact with it using your voice. For example, you can dictate emails or even Internet searches.

There are currently two watches available to order, with a third coming later this summer. Because these devices are new, it's not easy to tell whether they will be useful for all business users. However, if you spend a lot of time on the road or out of the office, this could prove to be a good way of keeping track of your day and important notifications.

Android Auto

Governments around the world are increasingly implementing tough laws regarding the use of mobile phones whilst driving. While safety is paramount, the restrictions can be tough for those who spend a lot of time traveling with work.

In an effort to make things safer, Google has introduced Android Auto. This system is designed to be integrated into new cars and connect to your phone. With Android Auto you will be able to access your phone's music, notifications, contacts, and messages while on the road. The idea is that these will show up on your car's navigation screen and can be interacted with via steering wheel controls or your voice.

In the demo shown at I/O, the driver received a text message which was read to him aloud, and he then responded using his voice. He was also able to set reminders, play music and find directions - all without picking up his phone.

Generally speaking, when this system starts to show up in cars later this year, it should allow you to interact with your phone while still focusing on driving and not breaking any distracted driving laws of course.

New features for Drive

I/O wasn't all about Android however, Google also talked about a slew of new features and an overhaul to their popular cloud storage and collaboration platform, Google Drive. In the new version, the overall platform is quicker. You will be able to see file information at the click of a button, and open new files by double clicking on them. You can also select multiple files, just as you do on your computer, and easily add these to one folder or action the files as a group.

Possibly the biggest, and most useful, feature in the new version of Drive. This version will bring enhanced editing options, which are available in the three main collaboration apps - Slides, Sheets and Docs. In the new version, you should see a pencil icon in the menu bar above the document. Click on this to access the new editing options. For example, Suggesting will allow you to edit the doc, but instead of the edits being made, they will show up as comments that need to be approved to implement the suggested change.

With the update, a common issue with Drive was also fixed: The ability to add and edit Microsoft Office documents. Now, Google says, you will be able to add Office files and edit them directly from Drive, without having to convert them to their Google equivalent. These features should be available now in Google Drive, or will be within the next month or two, so be on the lookout.

A premium option for Google Apps

Finally, at the I/O keynote, Google talked about a new version of Google Apps they like to call Google Drive for Work. This package, aimed at getting businesses to move over to the paid version of Google Apps, is a premium version of the basic version of Google Apps.

For USD 10 a month, users get unlimited cloud storage, enhanced audit reporting and security controls. For companies with less than five users however, the storage amount is set to 1TB per user. If your business is seeing an increase in the amount of data you need to store, this new premium account could be right up your alley.

Looking to learn more about the products and updates announced by Google? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 3rd, 2014

AndroidTablet_June30_AEach year, usually in late May or June, Google holds I/O, their annual developers' conference. At this conference, Google highlights what they are working on and what you can expect from the tech giant in the coming months. This year's I/O was held on June 25 and 26, and at the keynote the company talked at great length about their upcoming version of Android.

Coming soon: A new version of Android

It's true that you can pretty much guarantee a new version of Android to be announced at I/O. This year, Google was true to form and spent the better part of the whole keynote speech talking about the upcoming changes expected with the next version of Android - Android L. Why Android L? Well, the latest version of Android to date is 4.4, codenamed: KitKat. It makes sense that the next big release of Android will start with the letter L. At this time however, it has not been assigned a dessert related name like the other versions of Android because it is still in development.

Names aside, there were a number of interesting changes talked about by the Google staff. Here are five that business users of Android devices will be interested to know about.

1. Material design - A drastic change to the UI

Practically one of the first things talked about, regarding Android L at least, was a newly designed UI or User Interface. In fact, when released, this will be the biggest change to the look of Android since the Ice Cream Sandwich update in 2011. Powering this change will be a new look Google calls material design.

Material design creates a drastically different look from existing versions of Android. This will bring a flatter design with lots of rounded elements and softer edges that will extend to all versions of Android - tablets, phones, Chromebooks, and even Google's apps themselves. From this, it appears that Google wants to extend Android to other devices and it will do so by implementing a card-based design. These cards will play a front-and-center role with Android L, and according to Google they will be able to scale to meet screen size and dimensions. This means that one app will be able to work on different devices, without the need for a specific tablet, or phone version.

From the demo of material design that Google played, the new UI looks great. It looks clean, modern, and more colorful than ever before. If you are wondering what this design will look like when it comes to apps, take a look at the latest version of the Google+ app for Android, it has already been switched over to reflect the upcoming new style from Google. Or, check out this YouTube video from Google that highlights what the material design UI will look like.

The company also showcased a number of new changes to the UI that will make Android even easier to use. One of the biggest was how the apps interacted. Using the new version, the presenter searched for a restaurant and one of the search results was to an app installed on the phone. Tapping on it opened the app, without you having to close the results, to be able to then search for the restaurant. Overall, this will be a big change in the way Android looks and interacts with other apps.

2. Improved notifications

While a drastic change to the UI is pretty big news, Google wasn't content to just redesign the look of Android. They also showcased an improved notifications function. In current versions of Android, you need to unlock your device and swipe down from the top of the screen to view your notifications which are displayed in chronological order.

In Android L, your notifications will be viewable, and actionable from your locked screen. For example, if you get a new SMS, you can read it directly from your phone's screen, without having to unlock the device and open the relevant app or notifications center.

The other big change will be to how your notifications are displayed. Google is going to take a different approach to this and instead of showing these chronologically, it will display notifications sorted by relevance and importance.

Finally, Google will fix one of the biggest annoyances with Android - if you are working in an app, say giving a presentation, and you receive a call your device will no longer close the presentation and open the phone dialer. Instead, it will show what Google calls a 'Heads Up Notification'. This is a small notice displayed on top of the app that you currently have opened. In the example shown, a game was being played when someone called. Instead of the game closing, you saw the call info hover on top of the app. You could answer, hang up or even send a quick auto-reply SMS (e.g., I am busy, will call you back later) without the current app being closed.

3. Trusted environments

Having a screen lock on your device, such as a pattern or number lock, is essential for all users. This is one of the best ways to ensure that others can't physically access your device and the data within. While screen locks are a security must, there are times when they are more of an inconvenience than anything.

Take for example during a presentation. If you are using your Android device to show a slideshow, and pause for a time on one slide, long enough for your phone's screen to switch off, it is a hassle to unlock the screen and reopen the app.

Google's fix for this is a feature which establishes a trusted environment or device e.g., an Android smartwatch or your Office Wi-Fi. When you are in range of the watch, or the Wi-Fi connection, your device will automatically be unlocked and accessible without having to enter your PIN or code.

Move out of range however, and your device will lock, requiring the PIN or swipe code to unlock. This could be a useful feature for many businesses, especially those who use Android devices on a regular basis.

4. Deeper ties with Chrome and the Web

Many Android users utilize the recent app button on a regular basis. With one tap of the button, usually located on the bottom right of your device, or by pressing the home button, you can open previous apps. With the introduction of Android L, this will also show tabs that you have open in Chrome. This could be useful, especially if you use Chrome on your desktop and want to quickly access the same page on your device.

5. Business oriented APIs

The API, or application programming interface, is an essential part of the mobile device. It is the API that specifies how different apps should work together. With Android L, Google will include some business oriented APIs, with the most important being a set that allows both personal and business data to exist on the same device, without being mixed. In other words, you will be able to use a personal device for work, likely without mixing accounts, something which the BYOD crowd should find incredibly useful.

When can we expect Android L to arrive?

As of the writing of this article, there is no set release date for Android L. During the keynote numerous mentions were made of it being released sometime in the fall. Bear in mind that this is for Nexus, Google Play, and likely new devices released just after Android L. When, or if, it will be made available for other users is unknown, but likely won't be until early next year.

In the meantime, keep reading our blog for updates. And, if you have any questions regarding Android in your business please give us a shout today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 3rd, 2014

HealthcareIT_July03_AThe compliance date for ICD-10 is farther away than it once was, but it’s still coming — and health-care practitioners should be moving forward with preparedness plans, if the results of a recent survey are any indication.

The survey — which questioned physician practices, hospitals, payers, vendors, and others — was conducted by eHealth Initiative and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

It found that most health-care organizations are using the extra time afforded by the delay of ICD-10 compliance to October 15 to invest, train, and test. Most organizations said they're ready for testing, but some are more prepared than others. Around 40 percent of respondents said they'd start end-to- end testing by the end of 2014, and 25 percent reported that they’d begin by the end of 2015. And, to minimize productivity loss, 68 percent of respondents said they will conduct additional training, with 31 percent hiring more coders to help with the transition.

Concerns about ICD-10 remain, however. One pertains to preparedness, with 45 percent of respondents reporting that they don't have a good sense of their partners' readiness. Another pertains to financial impact, with 38 percent of respondents saying they thought their revenue will decrease, and 14 percent saying they think it will stay the same. Only 6 percent think it will increase.

Clearly, while the ICD-10 transition seeks to improve accuracy of claims and quality of care, not everyone has a clear plan to derive value from it. But now, it seems, is the best time to prepare. We recommend that you contact us today to learn more about how we can help ensure that you are ready for ICD-10.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 2nd, 2014

Windows_June30_AMicrosoft's operating systems (OS) have seen additions of several highly useful features throughout the evolution cycle of the OS. The hibernation feature, first introduced with Windows XP, is a solid example of one of the most useful power features. Ironically, with Windows 8 the hibernation feature is not readily visible but it is still a part of the OS. So, let's take a look at how to enable hibernation on Windows 8 and consider how useful this feature can be for your business.

What is Hibernation mode?

Hibernation allows you to power down your computer while retaining its current operating state e.g., leaving programs open. In other words, with hibernation, your computer saves the contents of its Random Access Memory (RAM) to your hard disk or other non-volatile storage, so that when you want to resume your work you can start where you last left off. Available on every Windows OS, hibernation can usually be set in your power settings manually or even automatically so that it activates when your laptop's battery is low.

How to enable hibernation on your laptop or computer running Windows 8:

  1. In your system tray, click the battery icon and select More power options from the panel that pops up.
  2. In the Power Options window, select either Choose what closing lid does or Choose what the power button does from the left panel.
  3. In the power options window, click on the blue text that says Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  4. At the bottom of the window, a new set of options will become available. Check the box next to Hibernate and click Save changes. Voila, the hibernate feature will now show up in the power options window that is displayed when you press the power button on your computer or laptop.
This feature allows you to resume work from where you left off within seconds, since you don’t have to boot up your computer nor re-open programs you were using. Not only that, but hibernation saves more battery power than sleep mode and uses no power while hibernated, a feature most laptops can really benefit from.

Hibernation is also useful if hardware maintenance has to be performed which requires powering down the hardware. For servers which need to be started up as quickly as possible after maintenance, hibernating and getting going again can be much quicker than shutting down and restarting the server applications.

Despite the benefits of hibernation, it is important to note that your computer does need to be shut down every once in a while to avoid performance degradation. Moreover, you should avoid hibernating your computer when you know you won’t be using it for a long period of time.

Hibernation mode can help boost productivity, decrease boot-up time, as well as help save your computer’s battery time. Interested in learning more about Windows 8/8.1 and its features? Contact us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 2nd, 2014

SocialMedia_June30_ALinkedIn, while lacking some of the clout of Facebook, is still one of the most powerful social networks for business owners and managers who want to connect with their peers. Like many other networks however, in order to be noticed you should not only simply have a profile, but create one that is strong. The question many ask is: How exactly do you go about achieving this?

In this article we will go over eight important steps you need to take in order to build the perfect LinkedIn profile. In fact, we came across a great infographic on Link Humans that could be a big help when following these steps. We strongly suggest you take a look at this when building your profile.

Step 1: Establish your profile

While you don't have to join LinkedIn, it is a good idea if you are looking to connect with other business owners and colleagues through a more professional, business style networking oriented social network. If you do want to connect at this level, the absolute first thing you need to do is to create a profile. This can be done by:
  1. Going to LinkedIn's website (linkedin.com).
  2. Clicking on Join Today.
  3. Entering the relevant information on the following page. We recommend using the name the majority of your customers and clients know you by and your work email address. Personal email addresses are fine if you don't want to fully represent your company.
  4. Selecting Join LinkedIn.
If you use your Facebook account for business, you can also sign up using your Facebook account. Just follow steps 1. and 2. above and click Sign Up with Facebook. You will be asked to log into your account (if don't already have Facebook open in another tab on your browser) then approve the account access rights. Once you've done this you should see your basic profile pop up.

Step 2: Select an appropriate picture

LinkedIn is a work-related network, and to that end you will need to present the right corporate image; this means uploading a professional profile photo. This image should clearly show your face and be cropped to show mainly your head and upper body. The background should be clear or unobtrusive, allowing you to be the main focus.

If you don't have any professional head shots, it might be a good idea to get some taken. Most photographers can snap a few for you, and will be able to provide you with information about how to pose and dress for the shots.

You can add an image to your profile by:

  1. Logging into your profile.
  2. Hovering over Profile which is located in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  3. Clicking on Edit Profile followed by the camera icon at the top of your profile.
  4. Pressing Change photo and then selecting the image you would like to use as your profile picture from a file on your hard drive.
  5. Ticking Save to set your picture.
The reason a good picture is more important than on other networks is because it has been proven that profiles with professional looking pictures are easier to find and also enhance the potential that other members will want to connect or even recognize you.

Step 3: Fill in your basic information

Once you have a great picture set on your profile go back to the editing screen and add your basic information. This includes your name, role, location, and company. Also, click on the Edit Contact Info tab to the right-hand side of your basic information section. Add as much contact info as you feel comfortable with; we recommend your email address and company website at the very least.

Step 4: Determine who your main audience will be

Before you begin to fill in your profile, you should take time to determine what the purpose of this profile will be. Will it be used to find new colleagues? Or will it be used to connect and communicate with your colleagues? Or, will it used to find prospective clients? Each reason will determine what information you should include in your profile along with the relevant keywords.

For example, if you would like to find new employees you can tailor your profile to show what you do in your job and what makes it so great. You can then also come up with more relevant keywords to use in your content. For example, using the words 'career' and 'job' and including in your summary information about who you are looking for will definitely attract prospective hires. However, this profile likely won't attract colleagues or clients.

Don't feel that you have to limit yourself to one set function however. For example, there are many crossover terms that both clients and prospective employees will search for. So, if you want to use your LinkedIn profile for more than one reason, take some extra time and try to figure out which keywords and ideas you think will work well. The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can always edit everything at any time. So, if you want to switch your audience, you can easily do so by simply editing parts of your profile and changing keywords.

Step 5: Write a solid summary

The summary of your LinkedIn profile is a place where you highlight who you are. Take time to craft this so that you can showcase what you do and your main strengths. Be sure to use relevant industry and position specific keywords and terminology that you believe your audience will be searching for, as this language will make your profile easier to find in searches.

The key here is to write a summary that not only explains what you do and your experience, but showcases who you are. Use active language like 'I', 'my', and 'me', and be sure to include a way for people who don't have a LinkedIn profile to contact you - usually an email, link to your website or a phone number.

Step 6: Add your past and present positions

Once your summary is finished, you should move onto your current and past positions. This section should reflect your resume and highlight the experience you are talking about in your summary. It would be helpful to try and work in some of the keywords you used in the summary or identified earlier in order to really make your experience really stand out.

Chances are you aren't looking for work, so you can deviate a little from your resume here, and highlight what you do best, or how you can help your audience best. Feel free to leave out points that may not be 100% relevant or interesting e.g., how many people you manage, sales goals, etc.

Step 7: Start connecting

Once your profile is mostly complete with experience and a summary, you can start looking for people to connect with. Start by searching for people that you know or work with on a regular basis and inviting them to connect.

Next, join a few groups that are related to your position and industry. These can be found by hovering your mouse over Interests which is located in the menu bar near the top of the window. Select Groups from the menu that drops down and then select Find a group from the right-hand side of the page that opens. Some groups are private and will require you to ask to join them, but don't be afraid of sending in your request.

Once you have joined some groups and started to make connections be sure to be active on the network. It will help to join in on conversations held in your groups and post content on a regular basis. And, if you meet new clients or people don't be afraid of looking them up on LinkedIn and asking to connect with them!

Step 8: Work on your awards and recommendations

Finally, start recommending people that you know. You can do this by going to a colleague's profile and scrolling down to their Skills and Endorsements section. Find skills that you know they possess and press the + Endorse button beside the skill. Most people will also do this for you as well.

If you have won awards in the past, be sure to include these as well, especially if they are relevant to your intended audience. Just be sure to pick the awards that really highlight your skills, as an Employee of the Month award may not be the most relevant.

From here it's really just a matter of tinkering with your profile on a regular basis. Be sure to be active and ensure that your profile really reflects who you are. Doing this will create a stand-up profile you can be proud of.

Looking to learn more about LinkedIn and how to use it for your business? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
July 1st, 2014

Office365_June30_AMicrosoft's cloud-based Office 365 is quickly becoming the go-to solution for many business owners looking for a familiar yet feature rich office suite. The great thing about Office 365 is that there are almost always updates being introduced that you don't have to buy or even install. One downside with this however is not knowing what updates are coming in the near future. In mid June, Microsoft set about changing this with their Office 365 roadmap.

The Office 365 roadmap

Earlier in 2014, Microsoft announced that they would be moving to a faster rollout schedule for their popular software solutions like Office 365. This means that we can expect to see updates for some software being introduced on a fairly regular basis.

Because of this, it would help to know exactly what Microsoft is working on and when you can expect an update or introduction of new features. To cover this, Microsoft has recently announced an Office 365 roadmap that covers what the company is doing in relation to the business oriented version of Office 365.

You can view the roadmap on this Microsoft website which has been designed to showcase the status of features based on:

  • Launched - Features that have been completed and implemented in various Office 365 apps. These features should be accessible to all Office 365 for Business users.
  • Rolling out - Features that have finished development and are ready to be implemented to the various apps but are not accessible to most users at this time, but will be in the near future.
  • In development - Features that Microsoft developers are working on or testing, but aren't ready to be implemented.
  • Canceled - Features that have been canceled; developers are no longer working on these, and they won't be implemented into Office 365 apps.
When you visit the roadmap site, you can click on the different sections and see the recent features that are relevant to each. For example, if you click on Launched, the recently launched features will drop down. Click on one to see a brief overview of the feature, along with a link to learn more.

This can be a useful site for businesses, especially if you rely on Office 365's features and are interested in which new ones will be introduced. We should stress however that the features listed on the site are relevant only for Office 365 for Businesses and Enterprises. Private and Home users may not necessarily see these features introduced.

Office 365 First Release program

For those users who look at the Rolling Out section of the roadmap site, and would like to have access to fully tested and supported features that are just about ready to roll out, Microsoft has also introduced a new program called First Release.

This program allows Office 365 for Businesses and Education users to sign up and gain access to upcoming features two weeks or more before they are introduced. If you would like to sign up for this program, you can do so as long as you are the admin of your account. If you are the admin for your Office 365 accounts, you can enable First Release by going into the Service Settings area from your management console. You should see an option to enable First Release, which you need to tick to turn on.

Once this is enabled you should be notified within a month letting you know that the first batch of early features is ready to implement. Microsoft has noted that the features implemented early via First Release will apply to the Office 365 user experience, SharePoint Online and Exchange Online. At this time, other apps like Lync Online will not be part of the program, but you can probably expect this program to expand to cover other apps in the coming months and over the next year.

Both the roadmap and First Release features could prove useful for power users of Office 365. If you are looking to learn more about these concepts and how Office 365 can be used successfully in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 1st, 2014

GoogleApps_June30_AAs cloud-based technology continues to become increasingly advanced, companies of all sizes are quickly finding that virtual or Web-based solutions are becoming increasingly viable. One example of a popular solution that businesses are turning to is Google Apps. While this solution is useful, some businesses are wondering what exactly it is and whether it can help.

What exactly is Google Apps for Business?

Google Apps for Business is a specifically designed bundle of popular Google Apps that are meant to be used to support your business online. Every business that signs up for Google Apps gets access to a variety of crucial apps like Gmail for email; Drive for document production and storage; Hangouts for instant messaging and video calls; and Calendar for integrated business calendars. All of these apps are easily managed from a central admin platform, and are delivered at a cost that is highly affordable, even for the smallest of businesses.

Possibly the biggest draw to this solution is that you don't have to invest in expensive office related software and hardware. Because all of Google's solutions are delivered over the Web, all you need is a device that can connect to the Internet and you will be able to access your systems and files. This makes it ideal for companies with lower budgets, as well as for companies with remote workers who can access Google's Apps from anywhere on almost any system.

When looking at Google Apps, there are three main reasons companies select this solution:

1. It offers good value

To some, this may sound a bit like it's almost too good to be true, while other business owners question whether there really is a value to switching over to Google Apps. Well, according to a recent report published by Forrester Research, on behalf of Google, Google Apps can yield an average ROI of 329% over three years and, on average, pays off in slightly over 1.4 months.

This is evident largely because the service starts at USD 5 per user/per month. Compare this to other offerings, including already-in-place physical solutions and it is easy to see that Apps is often the more valuable solution.

2. It allows employees to work better

According to the Forrester Research report mentioned above, companies surveyed listed four main ways switching to Google Apps has helped improve their overall business and how their employees work.
  1. All apps are in a single place - Almost every app you could need in business is accessed online, using one account. Log in and your apps are all available at your fingertips, at the click of a button. This means you no longer have to close or switch programs, which helps improve productivity.
  2. You can access it from anywhere - As we mentioned above, you access Google Apps via your browser. This means as long as you have an Internet connection, you will be able to log into your email and productivity suite and work.
  3. There are strong collaboration tools - Google Drive and the included productivity apps like Docs and Sheets come with powerful collaboration features, including the ability for users to edit files at the same time. This increases collaboration while decreasing the overall amount of time needed to edit and work on documents.
  4. There is efficient email - Email is an essential tool for businesses and with Google Apps, you are able to use Gmail. As an added feature, you can add your own domain to get personalized email addresses that are accessed through Gmail. As you probably know, Gmail is quick and simple to use and comes with a number of built-in security features like spam protection and filtering.

3. It decreases IT load

Finally, the third most popular reason companies choose Google Apps for Business is that it makes IT jobs easier. The companies who participated in the Forrester Research survey noted three ways Google Apps can help lower IT spending by as much as 38% per year.
  1. Anyone can manage it - With simple to use admin panels and programs, it is easy for business owners, even those without tech experience, to pick up and manage the different apps.
  2. They are low maintenance - Because the apps are hosted on Google's servers, there is no need to ensure that your software is up-to-date and compatible with your existing hardware, or with new solutions you are considering. This means there are no servers or software to install and manage.
  3. It has simple licensing - Apps for Business is delivered on a per-user, monthly fee. All you do is pay the per-user cost, and you will have access to your programs. There are no set contracts or expensive licenses to maintain which is not always the case with many on-premise solutions.
If you are looking to learn more about Google Apps for your business, contact us today to see how we can help get you started.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 26th, 2014

VoIP_June23_AThere are many different ways technology can help businesses increase efficiency and save money. One increasingly popular system is Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), which moves phone communications to your network connection, allowing you to access communication services from anywhere. Despite its growing use, many business owners are still unsure whether VoIP is the right choice for them. To help make the decision easier let’s take a look at the major benefits of VoIP to see how well it fits your business needs.

Quality improvement

Since its inception, the quality of VoIP service has come a long way. Today’s VoIP services allow you to make and receive calls using standard phones. Sound quality has improved tremendously, to the point where many businesses have abandoned traditional phone systems in favor of VoIP.

Reduction of telecommunications costs

Operating costs for the majority of VoIP service providers are significantly lower than traditional phone companies. This allows VoIP providers to charge customers - you - much less than their competitors, both in calling rates and monthly fees. With VoIP, businesses no longer have to maintain separate networks for phones and data which also helps save money.

And while some businesses do pay their current phone company extra for features like call holding, call display, and call forwarding, most VoIP providers include these features in their product, meaning you don’t have to pay extra for the features you need.

Easy to set up

With most VoIP connections, there’s no need to install switching boards or phone connections. Some systems can be installed easily by downloading an app to your computer, while others might require that you install an adaptor that converts voice signals into digital signals using your existing phones. These adaptors are small and in most cases all you have to do is plug the phone’s cable in before plugging the adaptor into an Internet connection socket.

More than just voice calls

Many VoIP programs also allow for chat capabilities, video calls, video conferencing, and even screen sharing. Not only that, but you’ll be able to see if your employees are available through presence technology, as well as giving them more ways to stay connected.

Highly flexible phone systems

VoIP systems allow you to do far more than is possible with traditional phone technology. You can:
  • Take your phone system with you: As long as you have access to a broadband connection you can use your VoIP system anywhere.
  • Talk on your laptop: Many VoIP systems include telephone software that enables you to send and receive calls using a headphone unit connected to your computer. This helps eliminate the risk of you missing an urgent call when you’re on your laptop.
  • Receive voicemail and faxes via email: Many VoIP services allow you to have voicemail and faxes forwarded to your email inbox. You then receive all your messages in one place, and your voicemail and faxes can be easily archived or forwarded.
  • Have virtual phone numbers: Your phone number can have any available area code, meaning you can have a business based in one place but can have a phone number with a different area code; advantageous if your business has, or wants, customers in specific areas.
  • Increase productivity: Many VoIP phone numbers can be configured to simultaneously ring on multiple devices, such as your cell and landline phones. This eliminates time-consuming phone tag. According to a recent survey conducted by Sage Research, the increased productivity enabled by Internet telephony added up to 3.9 hours per week, per employee.
No matter what industry you operate in, VoIP is a surprisingly flexible, affordable, and continuously evolving technology. Interested in implementing a VoIP system into your company? Contact us today to see what we have to offer and how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 26th, 2014

Security_June23_ABusinesses are relying increasingly on virtual machines to handle more critical data and tasks than ever before. Still, many are misguided about their security needs in a virtual environment. There are several myths that if believed can have serious consequences; leaving your organization vulnerable to an attack. Understanding these issues is key to helping you make better and safer decisions about the virtual environment of your business.

Myth No.1: Existing endpoint security will protect our virtual environment

Most traditional endpoint security solutions are virtual-aware and provide low levels of protection. This simply isn’t enough. Depending on the virtualization platform used (VMware, Microsoft, etc.), your traditional endpoint security suite can probably recognize virtual endpoints. However, this physical software often can’t bring its full tool set of anti-malware to the virtual world, meaning it can only perform basic tasks such as on-access scanning.

Therefore what you need is a solution that has been designed to keep both virtual and physical computing environments secure. There are a wide-number of solutions out there, and the best one for your business will depend largely on the virtual environments you employ. We strongly recommend talking to IT experts like us, as we can help determine, or even offer, the strongest security based.

Myth No.2: My existing anti-malware doesn’t interfere with my virtual operations

Performance issues can create security gaps that don't exist in your physical environment. Traditional endpoint security uses an agent-based model where each physical and virtual machine has a copy of the security program’s agent on it. This agent communicates with the server while performing security tasks. This is fine for physical machines, but if you have 100 virtual machines running off of one main environment that has been infected with malware, you’ll also have 100 instances of malware running on the machines.

This high level of duplication can cause massive performance degradation and waste tons of storage capacity. Therefore, you should make an effort to ensure that all of your systems including the main ones are without malware. This not only makes every system secure, but can also speed up overall operations.

Myth No.3: Virtual environments are inherently more secure than physical environments

Sadly, this just isn’t always true. Virtualization is designed to allow software, including malware, to behave as it normally would, and malware writers will target any and all weak points in a business’s network to accomplish their goals. An attacker who compromises one virtual machine and finds a way to jump to the hypervisor - the system that enables the virtualization - then has access to every virtual machine on that host.

Therefore, malware scanners on both the user and main systems would be a good idea. If it does happen to get on a system, the chances of it spreading are drastically reduced.

Myth No.4: Using non-persistent virtual machines effectively secures a network

In theory, any machine that encounters malware is wiped away and recreated cleanly. However, we are now seeing malware that is designed to survive teardown of individual machines by spreading across the virtual network. This allows it to return when new virtual machines are created.

Additionally, being too eager to create new machines on demand can result in virtual machine sprawl, which happens when virtual machines are created but then forgotten. This leads to an unmaintained virtual endpoint operating without your knowledge. Even if the rest of your virtual machines are secure, it’s possible for one machine to eavesdrop on the traffic of another virtual machine, leading to privacy and security risks.

The best solution to this is to employ an IT manager who can track and maintain systems. Many IT partners offer a solution like this, so experts like us may be able to help ensure your systems are secure.

Myth No.5: Specialized virtual security programs are more or less the same

There are various approaches to virtualization security and your network will probably need a blend of available options. This all depends on what you’re trying to protect.

A non-Web-connected server is going to have entirely different security needs than a virtual desktop of a server that manages customer information. Implementing one without the other simply just won’t do in today’s world, where attackers are set on getting their hands on your data.

Proper security is vital in making virtualization a critical component of your business IT infrastructure. Looking to learn more about virtualization and its components? Contact us today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 25th, 2014

Productivity_June23_AOne of the most frustrating tech issues a business faces is slow Internet connectivity. Despite today’s technological advancement, many businesses suffer from lowered productivity as a direct result of a slow Internet connection. If this is a daily annoyance for your business too then it's time to learn some ways to help fix your slow Internet connection and speed up business performance.

5 ways to combat a slow Internet connection:

1. Control devices that interfere with the connection:

Wireless devices can be one of the reasons for a slow Internet connection. It’s wise to talk to us about a wireless network analyzer so that you know the sources of interference. Believe it or not, most of these sources might be coming from the company kitchen!

Good examples include the microwave, cordless phone, security alarm, and other wireless devices which use the 2.4GHz band. These can interfere with 802.11g or single-band 802.11n routers. The best solution is to reposition these household electronics to either help solve the problem completely or at least minimize the chances of interference.

2. Control applications that hog bandwidth:

Without your knowledge it’s most likely that employees are using applications that are hogging the bandwidth. It’s vital that you are aware of these applications, especially ones that have video conferencing and streaming abilities which tend to be responsible for weak bandwidth in corporate environments. Other applications such as torrent and gaming apps can also be responsible. It is best to make sure that these apps are not installed on your company computers, of if they are, make sure their use is regulated.

Believe it or not, one of the biggest bandwidth hogs is YouTube. Some companies, when they audit their network usage, have noticed that streaming services like YouTube can take up more than half of their total bandwidth. While in some positions, video streaming may be necessary, it's likely not for the majority of roles. Therefore, it would be a good idea to implement a rule about the use of YouTube during business hours e.g., it should only be used for necessary tasks.

Some would recommend blocking services like this, but if your business uses Google's other services, blocking YouTube could actually end up blocking access to other Google services. It would be a good idea to consult with us as to the best way to limit use.

3. Reposition your router:

As simple as this might sound, your router might also have to be repositioned to help increase your Internet speed. You might want to try raising your router so that broadcast range can be more effective. If this doesn’t work, which sometimes it doesn’t, try placing your router in the center of your office for a more equal signal distribution. The best solution however, is to place your router as near to computers and other receivers as possible.

4. Consider an upgrade:

If your wireless networking equipment is old then it probably needs an upgrade. Keep in mind that technology moves at an extremely fast pace and your wireless network might be outdated in just a few years.

We strongly recommend talking to us, as we can help recommend the best upgrade solution. For example, the two most common upgrades include installation of a new repeater or wireless amplifier and replacement of your current antenna. Because antenna's are so varied, we can help make sure that the antenna being installed is compatible with your router.

5. Use the latest network technologies:

As mentioned earlier, technology moves fast which is why it is essential that you become familiar with its recent advancements, particularly in the area of wireless networking. There are countless apps, software, and hardware out there that can help boost the speed and performance of your router, some of which can even be downloaded for free. Our networking experts can help ensure your business has the latest and greatest, so be sure to consult with us first.

Dealing with a slow Internet connection can be a huge pain. If not taken care of right away, it can have immense impact on your overall work output. Looking to learn more about ways to improve your Internet connection for maximized productivity? Connect with us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
June 24th, 2014

GoogleApps_June23_ASocial media has become such an integral part of so many organizations and their marketing initiatives. Many companies go so far as to use social media platforms like Google+ as an in-house solution for modern communication and team building. In order to make Google+ even more viable for businesses, Google has recently announced a number of key updates aimed at enabling this.

In mid June, Google announced that they had implemented a number of new premium features for Google Apps users who use Google+. These so-named 'Google+ premium features', could prove to be just what businesses are looking for, especially when it comes to establishing internal social networks that are for your employees only.

About Google+ premium features

If your business uses Google Apps and Google+, and you are the admin for your business, you may have noticed an extra option in the past half year or so labeled premium features. These features were tested by select Google Apps users, and proved to be successful. So much so in fact that Google has announced that premium features are now turned on for all new Apps users, with existing users getting them by mid July at the latest.

The goal of these features is to enable a more customizable social media platform for businesses who may want to create and maintain a secure internal social network with users who can also join an external network or work group.

In a broad sense, these features influence two key aspects of Google+:

  1. Control options - With these features admins have greater control options over employee accounts. For example, you can set it so that all posts are shared only with your domain and made inaccessible to outside users. You can also set it so that certain employee profiles will not show up in public search results. Essentially, these features give you better ability to tailor how your business uses Google+, and the overall security of the network.
  2. Hangouts - The biggest boon this set of features offers is the ability to host larger hangouts and video calls - up to 15 users on the same call (instead of the normal 10). Users can also initiate or join a Hangout right from Google Calendar, email invitation or a URL. You can also set the privacy level of Hangouts to ensure that they can't be accidentally opened to the public, ideal if you need to discuss sensitive information or projects for example.

Activating premium features

If you are an administrator for your company's Google Apps account, then you can enable these features by:
  1. Signing into your Google Admin panel. This can be accessed by typing 'admin.google.com' into the URL bar in your browser.
  2. Clicking on Other Google Services followed by Google+.
  3. Scrolling down to the premium features section and clicking on Enable Google+ premium features.
  4. Clicking on Sharing Settings and modifying or enabling the different premium features.
If you are looking to learn more about using these features or Google+ get in touch with us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 24th, 2014

Facebook_June23_ASocial media platforms have become a useful tool for businesses to increase reach, as well as draw in potential customers, whether through advertisements or online campaigns. One of the most popular social media platforms, Facebook, is starting to roll out extended video and frequency buying capabilities to help businesses achieve better market penetration. The real question is: What is it and how does it work?

What is Video Views Objective?

Following the introduction of video metrics and Premium Video Ads, Facebook has now introduced expanded video capabilities, called Video Views Objective. This feature will enable businesses running video ads to choose video views as an objective for their campaigns. In short, this allows businesses to take advantage of two solutions to direct Facebook users to additional content. All businesses will be able to plan their campaigns using the traditional broadcast model of reach and frequency.

Video Views Objective (VVO) will be added to Facebook’s Ads Create Tool, Power Editor, and its ads application-programming interface. Ads created using VVO will automatically be optimized to be shown to targeted Facebook users who are most likely to view videos across devices. This will allow businesses to take people on a deeper journey with their brand by encouraging them to take action right after they have watched a video, and sending them a targeted brand message later on.

How does this help businesses?

As mentioned earlier, you will be able to encourage those who have viewed your videos to view additional content with two new solutions. Firstly, businesses who work with a Facebook account representative can create audiences of people who have already watched their videos. Ads can be created for those specific groups to help move them from awareness to affinity and consideration of the brand’s product or service.

A second way businesses can encourage increased engagement is by adding a call to action, which invites people to learn more and visit a specific destination, such as a page on their website, after viewing a video.

You can also gain more control over the number of people who will view your videos by utilizing reach and frequency buying. This will predictably manage audience sizes and the number of times your ads are shown to these audiences. Traditional broadcast ad campaigns are planned and bought by focusing on the number of people you can reach and how many times you can reach them. This helps align Facebook media delivery with the reach and frequency levels that deliver business results.

Facebook is a versatile tool in that it can be used to exhibit a business's core values, as well as enhance customer engagement and experience. Looking to learn more about Facebook for business? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 19th, 2014

androidtablet_June18_AOver the past few years, the rise of Android work apps has led to an evident increase in the number of Android tablet users. But when you’re eagerly installing apps like Evernote or Skype, how much time are you likely to spend reading through the required permissions before you accept them? Probably not enough. To ensure safety, as well as to help maximize your Android tablet’s efficiency, it’s time you familiarized yourself with checking app permissions as well as knowing about common permissions you’re likely to come across.

Checking app permissions

Head into Settings on your Android tablet, go to Apps and then tap on any app and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the permissions that have been granted. Note that you are not able to switch individual options on or off, so it’s all or nothing.

However, there are various third-party apps you can install to give you a better look and more control over app permissions. One of those apps is SnoopWall, which once installed will set itself as an administrator to comprehensively audit and manage the security setup on your tablet.

Common permissions 101

Modify, delete, and read storage: This gives an app permission to access the storage on your device in order to save and edit files. Most apps will require some kind of access, if only to keep temporary logs on your device. Keep in mind that any app with these permissions can also access your public folders like your photo gallery as well as your music folder.

Find and use accounts on devices: Facebook, Twitter, and Google accounts are often integral to the way you use your phone, letting you send a Tweet from anywhere and upload photos onto your Facebook account at any time. This permission simply gives an app the ability to tap straight into these accounts to make life easier for you. Bear in mind that the app can potentially access any information stored in the account in question.

Full network access: Most apps require some kind of Internet access, whether it’s for software updates, syncing, or retrieving data from online sources. Full network access is used when retrieving adverts to display, but as with most permissions, you’re relying on the app in question to use this privilege responsibly.

Phone status and identity: This permission enables apps to recognize when a call comes in and gives you the chance to answer it by pausing the current app in the background.

Prevent tablet from sleeping: When your tablet goes into sleep mode, it can interrupt certain processes such as data being written to the internal storage. This permission enables an app to keep your device awake while important system tasks are being carried out. It can also be used by video players to keep the screen on.

Read and send text messages: There are countless apps that want to replace your tablet’s SMS functionality, and this permission is used to automatically scan your incoming texts for authorization codes (used where two-step authentication is involved). This is another classic example of a permission that can be very useful or very worrying. It is vital that you make sure that the app asking for this permission has a clear use for it.

Read your contacts: While a whole range of apps ask for it, this isn’t something you want to give away without good reason. The ability to share content with your friends in some way is often the underlying purpose for this permission, but also so that the app can quickly auto-complete the names of your contacts whenever required.

Sticky broadcasts: This permission is all about the way apps communicate with each other. Android treats each app as if it were a separate user: broadcasts enable these apps to talk to one another (sometimes without your knowledge), and the stickiness controls how long they hang around in the device’s memory for. If an app wants to communicate something to other apps or to Android a long time after the event, it then uses a sticky broadcast.

There are plenty of other permissions to consider but these are the ones you’ll run into most frequently on your Android tablet. It’s important that you pay attention to app permissions in relation to new apps as well as apps you’re already using to ensure your tablet’s security.

Looking to learn more about app permissions? Get in touch today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 19th, 2014

GoogleApps_June18_AToday's businesses work with multiple gadgets; utilizing modern technology to create smooth running operations and keep corporate systems going. Often a company will store reports and maintain a client database digitally, whilst working remotely and also using a computer to send and install applications to mobile phones. The question many Android users have is how can you install applications on your device remotely?

How Google enables you to control your mobile phone via a computer is often overlooked by many users. This tutorial will show you how you can download, send, and install a new app to your Android device without even touching it. Sound like magic? It’s the marvel of technology.

To begin, make sure your phone is logged into your Google account. This account is an all-inclusive one, with which you can access your email, blog, Google+ account and even Google Play, Android’s marketplace for all its mobile apps. Your Google account is also your gateway into the installation of a new app from your desktop.

To log into your Google account from your smart phone, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Accounts > Google > Add Account.
  2. Type your email address and password to connect through the sign-in page.
  3. On your computer go to Google Play and check the upper right corner of your display and click Sign in.
  4. Sign in again to your Google account to be able to connect with your mobile phone.
  5. Check the left panel of your display and click Apps.
  6. Go to the Categories section and choose from the option that suits you in the drop down menu.
  7. A number of apps will be displayed, so choose the one which you would like to instal on your phone.
  8. Click Free (or the price of the app). Remember not to click the app itself but the underlined price under each application.
  9. You will be directed to a list of devices logged into the same Google account. Choose from these devices where you want the app to be installed. Hit Install for free apps and Buy for paid ones to install directly to your mobile device.
  10. Voila! You have just downloaded an app from your computer to your phone. Keep both devices logged in for easy access anytime, anywhere.
The continuous development of technology means that we should strive harder to learn and be acquainted with new tools we can use to improve business. This can yield big benefits for your company and enable you to accomplish more tasks in a shorter span of time.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 18th, 2014

virtualization_June17_AServer virtualization has been with Windows computing for over 10 years. During that time, many small businesses have embraced the technology to improve storage efficiency and get more bang for their server buck. Despite its growing popularity, many organizations are still doubtful about whether or not to virtualize their servers. With that in mind, it’s time you explore the option to see if server virtualization will help save money for your business.

10 ways to identify if server virtualization will save you money:

  1. Expert IT personnel: Some small businesses don’t have an IT person on the payroll, or if they do, that person deals with tasks such as security or desktop management which often means they are ill-equipped to deal with the technological sophistication that virtualization demands. If you don’t have an IT expert, virtualizing might not be right for you.
  2. Technology as core competence: If your company’s core competence is technology, or if you have lots of servers which require abundant storage and skilled IT veterans, server virtualization is sure to help save your company money. Not only will you improve on storage efficiency, but you won’t have a payroll replete with lots of IT personnels.
  3. Busy servers: If your servers are taking up floor, rack or shelf space, or if they are dedicated to particular applications; your business is likely to save money through server virtualization. Moreover, if your server equipment is aging, server virtualization might help with significant server consolidation, meaning fewer servers, lower power bills and more floor space, too.
  4. Sensitive applications: Note that not all applications do well in virtual environments. Some critical or sensitive applications require a lot of processor or memory resources and you don’t want them sharing those resources with other virtual servers. Find out about your applications performance needs, if they’re not sensitive they may be ripe for a virtual server.
  5. Shared storage: Some people will tell you that virtual servers must have a virtual storage, however those themes usually come from vendors whose livelihoods are tied to virtual storage. If your business focuses on having a centralized storage that is shared between users, virtualization can be very beneficial.
  6. Speed of deployment: Some businesses need to be able to provision servers rapidly since failure to do so is a distinct competitive disadvantage. If thats the case in your business, virtualization is a must. Ordering a physical server and deploying it can take days if not weeks; unlike a virtual framework which once in place deployment can be done in no time.
  7. Server virtualization test drive: Why not try virtualization on a small scale before deciding if you should go all virtual? You can buy inexpensive tool such as VMware Workstation which costs around USD$199 for your IT staff to try out and see the potential value of server virtualization.
  8. Do research: Even if you think you know all the basics about server virtualization, be safe than sorry by doing more research before implementing anything. A good place to start is Virtualization for Dummies. It provides a thorough basic understanding of the idea as well as what it can do for your business.
  9. Ignore server virtualization hype: With so much hype around virtualization these days it would be easy for some businesses to rush into. Don’t do that! Instead, do some research and analyze your business’ components and needs before deciding to go all virtual.
  10. Get help: Server virtualization can be quite complicated, the good news is that vendors are making it much easier to deploy. If you decide to virtualize your servers, getting help from a reputable vendor can pay off in the long run. Most vendors offer solution bundles which include servers and storage pre-installed virtual servers for turnkey operation.
While server virtualization proves to be an efficient and cost-effective solution for many businesses, the most important thing here is to not rush into a virtual server. Take a little time and go through a checklist to see if your business is right for the idea because if not, you’re likely to be losing both time and money. Looking to learn more about server virtualization? Call us today for a chat.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 18th, 2014

osx_June17_AOne of the highlights at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014 was undeniably Apple’s unveiling of the new OS X Yosemite. Perhaps one of the most dramatic redesigns of Apple’s operating system to date, a lot of users are wondering what’s new in OS X Maverick’s predecessor. And although some of the features aren’t fully-formed, the most obvious changes in the OS X Yosemite are very present.

Design

Right from the start you can tell that OS X Yosemite is all about aesthetics. Apple manages to make the operating system look both vastly different yet not entirely unfamiliar. The button and icon design has been flattened so that there are no false contours, making everything look sharper.

For the first time ever, the operating system’s font has been changed from Lucida Grande to Helvetica Neue which is a little easier on the eyes. Finder window menus are now translucent, matching up with the image backgrounds on your desktop. The refreshed dock has gotten a slight makeover with newer flatter-looking icons as well as a new trash can. Yosemite also features a “dark mode”, which gives you the option to eschew translucency for dark gray toolbars.

Notifications

Notification Center has been updated with a new look that borrows its black transparent design from iOS’s pull down notification pane. Apple has divided its Notification Center into two different categories. One shows notifications as you were used to them before, the other shows a “Today” view with a combination of upcoming events, current weather, reminders and stocks. To swap between the two, Apple’s added in tabs at the top to let you minimize the information shown at a glance.

Spotlight

The new Spotlight search and file browsing in general have been greatly improved. Previews of animated GIFs now automatically animate in the preview pane. And if Spotlight is your default application and file launcher, you can hit Command + Space to pull up the search bar and pick out your query instead of hunting for the exact location of the file you’re using. When you go through this, the search pops up in a small pane directly at the center of your screen which makes more sense than the old search bar which was in the top right corner of your screen.

The new update isn’t just conveniently situated, but it could turn Spotlight into your default way of searching for information that you’d normally go to a browser for. You can now convert units, bring up full contact info, look something up on Wikipedia or even search for food nearby. Apple’s even worked Spotlight into the address bar of the revamped Safari browser to give users a one-stop shop for search across the web and local files.

Mail

OS X Yosemite’s Mail app gets a cleaner design as well as a slick new feature, Mail Drop. This allows you to bypass attachment size constraints by uploading files that are too big and sending the recipient a link.

Safari

Safari browser has been updated for continuity with the browser’s window carrying over the translucency seen in other areas of the operating system. Favorites are now hidden by default, but you can access these by clicking on the address bar.

Sharing links to social networks has been simplified with a one-click process and RSS feeds will show in the browser's sidebar.

AirDrop

AirDrop in Yosemite now works with iOS so iPhone owners can easily transfer files to the Mac and back. OS X Yosemite features the ability to recognize work being done in iOS that you might want to continue on the desktop. Once an action is detected on iOS, Yosemite will create an icon on the desktop to remind the user to complete the task. This sensing ability also extends to creating a tethered connection, as your iPhone will now appear as a connection option in the WiFi dropdown.

Make and receive calls

Once connected to your iPhone, Yosemite will prompt you with notifications to answer or ignore incoming calls, both audio and video. The OS will even allow users to click on a number within a website to dial it directly.

OS X Yosemite isn’t finished, but overall it demonstrates a more mature and subtle approach in its user interface as well as a more versatile operating system. For now, Apple is making OS X Yosemite available as beta for developers, but you can expect the full version this fall, when you will be able to download it for free. Looking to learn more about Apple and their products? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
June 17th, 2014

office365_June16_AMicrosoft promised to bring analytics to a billion screens last February when it launched Power BI for Office 365, a collection of features that enable you to visualize and share data. Now, Office 365 users will be able to do both data mining as well as looking into the future behavior of their products and businesses with Power BI’s latest upgrade, which features predictive forecasting.

Predictive forecasting uses a variety of statistical techniques, from modeling to data mining, that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about the future.

The predictive forecasting function of Office 365 provides users with the skills to generate reports, interactive charts, and 3D visualizations of business performance. Simply put, users can perform advanced forecasting without the complexity that usually accompanies these kinds of processes.

The new forecasting tool utilizes built-in predictive forecasting models to automatically detect seasonality in the data. It also enables users to see how results are affected by adjusting the parameters of the time or confidence interval assigned to be analyzed.

Power BI’s predictive forecasting can also help fill in gaps with data. Power View, an interactive data exploration and presentation tool, fills in missing values from a data set before carrying out a forecast for a more accurate result.

A few things you need to keep in mind before using the feature:

  1. The line chart has to have one line as multiple line charts won’t work.
  2. The line chart has to have fewer than 1,000 values.
  3. The x-axis value needs to have a date/time format or be a uniformly increasing whole number. It cannot contain text or decimal numbers, and the interval between values has to be at least one day.

How to use predictive forecasting in Office 365:

  1. Simply upload a workbook with a Power View time series line chart to Power BI for Office 365.
  2. Open the file in Power BI and switch to Power View in HTML 5 by clicking Try the HTML 5 version of Power View in the lower-right corner.
  3. Click on the forecast arrow or drag the forecast dot in the line chart and you’ll see the forecasting options appear in the analysis pane to the right of your report.
Do keep in mind that Power View automatically detects what appears to be the seasonality of the data. In other words, a complete cycle of peaks and drops. Note that this works best if the chart has at least four times more values than the data cycle.

Here’s how to override automatic seasonality detection:

  1. Start a forecast by dragging the forecast handle in a line chart.
  2. The Analysis pane will automatically pop up on your right hand side. If you can’t find it, look for Analysis in the upper-right corner.
  3. In the Analysis area, manually set the seasonality to 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 24, 52, or 365.
Predictive forecasting, if used properly, can immensely help with the overall strategic planning, market penetration and operation of your business.

Looking to learn more about Office 365 and its features? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.