Blog

September 9th, 2014

Office365_Sep08_AWhen it comes to purchasing and implementing public cloud solutions, such as Microsoft's Office 365, business owners know that they are getting pretty much exactly the same product as every other business that uses the same solution. While this uniformity and consistency is positive, users often look for ways to customize the platform so that it relates more directly to a specific company. To enable this, Microsoft has recently announced new customization options for Office 365.

Coming soon to Office 365 (if not already): Themes

In early September, Microsoft announced that in the following weeks the company would be rolling out a couple of new options that will allow businesses to personalize the look of Office 365. In fact, there are not one, but two new personalization options available for Office 365 users with business subscriptions.

Option 1: Company-wide custom themes

The idea of establishing company brand is not a new concept to business owners, who realize that one of the factors to success is creating positive brand recognition amongst stakeholders, including employees. One of the best ways to achieve this is to include identifiable visuals and colors repeated in as many places as possible. Almost every company has colors that they use as part of their corporate image and brand identity.

To help cement your brand with your employees, you can now customize the theme of Office 365 so that the theme is applied to all users in your organization. When it comes to customizing your theme Microsoft has noted that you will be able to:

  • Pick the color scheme, which includes a base color and text/icon colors. Set the base as blue for example, and the menu bar across the top will be that color. Set the text as yellow and all icons/text in the menu bar will also be yellow.
  • Set the color of the Office 365 logo. You can pick up to three colors for the Office 365 logo.
  • Upload a custom logo. You can upload your company logo and have it applied to the top-left of all Office 365 menu bars.
  • Make the logo a clickable link. Once you set a logo, you can also make it clickable by adding a custom URL. When a user clicks the logo, they will be taken to the predefined URL.
If you would like to apply your company's brand to Office 365, and have it automatically applied to all users in the company, you will need to be the admin, or to log in as an administrator. Once you are logged on, click on Admin from the main Office 365 screen. Then, click on your company's hyperlink located at the top-right of the Admin screen (right below the menu bar) and select Custom theming.

In the screen that opens, you will be able to set your desired theme, and when you are finished simply hit Save and the theme should be applied.

Option 2: Personalized themes

While company users can set a theme related to their brand, individual users in the organization can also select their own theme from a list of 22 provided by Microsoft. Each theme changes:
  1. The top navigation bar color scheme
  2. Menu colors
  3. Background
  4. Office 365 logo colors
You can change the theme of Office 365 by logging into your account, pressing the Settings cog at the top-right of the screen and clicking Change theme. Once you have selected a theme you like, press Save and it should be applied immediately.

If you are looking to learn more about Office 365 and how you can get the most out of it, contact us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 9th, 2014

GoogleApps_Sep08_AIf you are a Google Drive user, you may have noticed that Google has been implementing a number of changes over the past few months. First there was a change to the look of the file sharing service, then to how you accessed files. Now the tech company has announced that they have launched separate sites for their productivity apps.

About the recent change to Drive

In order to make users' lives easier, Google has decided to kind of spin off their productivity apps. What do we mean by this? Well, the company has announced that they are launching individual sites for Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Now, instead of going to Drive to open or create a new Doc, you can do so by going to the Docs site.

Each of the three major productivity apps - Docs, Sheets and Slides - now has their own site, and can be accessed here:

This isn't a full spin off because your files created and edited using the individual app sites are still stored on Drive. The idea here is that this separation is supposed to make it easier for users to interact with each different productivity apps and related files.

When will this shift happen?

Google has started to alert Drive users to the impending switch and has indicated that Docs will be the first to move over to the new system. That being said, you can actually access the three different apps now, or you can still use Drive to create your files for the time being, just be prepared for a shift in the near future.

Getting around the new sites

Each of the three new sites has pretty much the same layout, with the following elements being the most useful:
  • Plus button at the bottom-right: Pressing this will open a new Docs, Sheets or Slides file.
  • Three horizontal bars at the top-left: Will slide a menu in from the left with the options to open either the Docs, Sheets, or Slides sites, along with Settings and Drive.
  • File sorting icons at the top-right: The four horizontal lines button will switch files in between either List or Grid view. The button with A to Z is for sorting options which will allow you to configure how related files are sorted.
  • Folder icon at the top-right: Clicking this will open the File picker which will allow you to quickly navigate to different folders on your Drive, and also upload other files such as Microsoft Office documents or PDFs.
If you are a heavy user of one of the Google Drive apps, then these sites will likely be a welcome addition. The same can be said for those who use the mobile apps which were released earlier this year.

Looking to learn more about Google's systems? Get in touch and make a positive tech change today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 5th, 2014

HealthcareIT_Sep03_A

As of June 30, 2014, more than 1,000 data breaches affecting more than 500 patients each have been reported to the Department of Health & Human Services - for a total of roughly 32,000,000 people who have had their privacy compromised. And, according to the annual Redspin Breach Report, published in February of 2014, 7.1 million patient records were breached in 2013, a 137.7% increase over 2012.

And, the threat is getting broader. Once caused primarily by snooping or negligent employees, data breaches are now increasingly caused by cybercriminals who realize the potential financial value of medical records. Case in point: The Chinese hacker attack on the 206-hospital Community Health Systems which resulted in the breach of 4.5 million patient records, the second-largest HIPAA breach ever reported.

No physician practice should consider itself immune. While large hospital systems may be most attractive to hackers, Eric Perakslis, executive director of Harvard Medical School's Center for Biomedical Informatics, recently wrote in a New England Journal of Medicine article that 72 percent of cyberattacks have been aimed at hospitals, group practices and other provider organizations.

Perakslis recommends an "active learning approach” that involves real-time surveillance of emerging threats - and that includes an intimate knowledge of one's own network and vigilance at one's own practice. One of the most effective ways you can do this is to work with a company like ours who can help not only ensure security of your systems but also help teach you and your staff about common security issues.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 4th, 2014

Security_Sep02_AWith smartphones playing a larger role in today’s daily business, the need to recharge them while you are on the go increases. And when you’re nowhere near your charger, that public charging kiosk can look pretty promising. But what you might not know is that common traits in smartphone hardware and software design makes recharging phones through public chargers prone to juice jacking. If you're not sure what that is then let’s find out and also discover how you can avoid juice jacking too.

What’s juice jacking?

Regardless of the kind of smartphone you have, whether it’s an Android, iPhone or BlackBerry, there is one common feature across all phones: the power supply and the data stream pass over the same cable. This setup allows for juice jacking during the charging process whereby user access is gained on your phone by leveraging the USB data/power cable to illegitimately access your phone’s data and/or inject malicious code onto the device.

The attack can be as simple as an invasion of privacy, wherein your phone pairs with a computer concealed within the charging kiosk and information such as private photos and contact information are transferred to a malicious device. However, on the other hand, it can also be as invasive as an injection of malicious code directly into your phone. According to security researchers at this year’s Black Hat security conference, your iPhone can be compromised within one minute of being plugged into a harmful charger.

Exposure to a malicious kiosk can also create a lingering security problem even without the immediate injection of malicious code. Once a device is paired to a computer, it can access a host of personal information on the device, including your address book, notes, photos, music, sms database, typing cache, and even initiate a full backup of your phone, all of which can be accessed wirelessly at anytime.

How do I avoid it?

The most effective precautions center around simply not charging your phone using a third-party system. Here are some tips to help you avoid using public kiosk charger:
  • Keep your devices topped off: Make it a habit to charge your phone at your home and office when you’re not actively using it or are just sitting at your desk working.
  • Carry a personal charger: Chargers have become very small and portable, from USB cables to power banks. Get one and throw it in your bag so you can charge your phone anytime you’re at the office or while on-the-go if you use a power bank.
  • Carry a backup battery: If you’re not keen on bringing a spare charger or power bank, you can opt to carry a full spare battery if your device has a removable battery.
  • Lock your phone: When your phone is truly locked as in inaccessible without the input of a pin or equivalent passcode, your phone should not be able to be paired with the device it’s connected to.
  • Power the phone down: This technique only works on phones on a model-by-model basis as some phones will, despite being powered down, still power on the entire USB circuit and allow access to the flash storage in the device.
  • Use power only USB cables: These cables are missing the two wires necessary for data transmission and have only the two wires for power transmission remaining. They will charge your device, but data transfer is made impossible.
Even the tiniest detail like charging your phone from a kiosk charger could affect the security of your device. While there are many substitutes to using a third-party system, ultimately the best defense against a compromised mobile device is awareness. Looking to learn more about today’s security and threats? Contact us today and see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
September 4th, 2014

Hardware_Sep02_AYou undoubtedly use computer monitors daily, whether at work, at home or both. So, you know that they are available in a variety of shapes, designs, and colors. What a lot of people might not know is, based on the technology used to make them, they can be broadly categorized into three types commonly used today.

CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors

These monitors employ CRT technology, which was used most commonly in the manufacturing of television screens. With these monitors, a stream of intense high energy electrons is used to form images on a fluorescent screen. A cathode ray tube is basically a vacuum tube containing an electron gun at one end and a fluorescent screen at another end.

While CRT monitors can still be found in some organizations, many offices have stopped using them largely because they are heavy, bulky, and costly to replace should they break. While they are still in use, it would be a good idea to phase these monitors out for cheaper, lighter, and more reliable monitors.

LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors

The LCD monitor incorporates one of the most advanced technologies available today. Typically, it consists of a layer of color or monochrome pixels arranged schematically between a couple of transparent electrodes and two polarizing filters. Optical effect is made possible by polarizing the light in varied amounts and making it pass through the liquid crystal layer. The two types of LCD technology available are the active matrix of TFT and a passive matrix technology. TFT generates better picture quality and is more secure and reliable. Passive matrix, on the other hand, has a slow response time and is slowly becoming outdated.

The advantages of LCD monitors include their compact size which makes them lightweight. They also don't consume much electricity as CRT monitors, and can be run off of batteries which makes them ideal for laptops.

Images transmitted by these monitors don’t get geometrically distorted and have little flicker. However, this type of monitor does have disadvantages, such as its relatively high price, an image quality which is not constant when viewed from different angles, and a monitor resolution that is not always constant, meaning any alterations can result in reduced performance.

LED (light-emitting diodes) monitors

LED monitors are the latest types of monitors on the market today. These are flat panel, or slightly curved displays which make use of light-emitting diodes for back-lighting, instead of cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) back-lighting used in LCDs. LED monitors are said to use much lesser power than CRT and LCD and are considered far more environmentally friendly.

The advantages of LED monitors are that they produce images with higher contrast, have less negative environmental impact when disposed, are more durable than CRT or LCD monitors, and features a very thin design. They also don’t produce much heat while running. The only downside is that they can be more expensive, especially for the high-end monitors like the new curved displays that are being released.

Being aware of the different types of computer monitors available should help you choose one that’s most suited to your needs. Looking to learn more about hardware in today’s world? Contact us and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
September 3rd, 2014

BCP_Sep02_AMany people wonder why it’s necessary to perform business impact analysis (BIA) when they’ve already invested a large amount of time on a risk assessment. The answer is simple: because the purpose of a BIA is different, and wrong results could incur unnecessary expenses or create inadequate business continuity strategies. To that end, let’s take a look at five tips for successful business impact analysis.

Five tips for successful business impact analysis:

  1. Treat it as a (mini) project: Define the person responsible for BIA implementation and their authority. You should also define the scope, objective, and time frame in which it should be implemented.
  2. Prepare a good questionnaire: A well structured questionnaire will save you a lot of time and will lead to more accurate results. For example: BS (British standard) 25999-1 and BS 2599902 standards will provide you with a fairly good idea about what your questionnaire should contain. Identifying impacts resulting from disruptions, determining how these vary over time, and identifying resources needed for recovery are often covered in this. It’s also good practice to use both qualitative and quantitative questions to identify impacts.
  3. Define clear criteria: If you’re planning for interviewees to answer questions by assigning values, for instance from one to five, be sure to explain exactly what each of the five marks mean. It’s not uncommon that the same event is evaluated as catastrophic by lower-level employees while top management personnel assess the same event as having a more moderate impact.
  4. Collect data through human interaction: The best way to collect data is when someone skilled in business continuity performs an interview with those responsible for critical activity. This way lots of unresolved questions are cleared up and well-balanced answers are achieved. If interviews are not feasible, do at least one workshop where all participants can ask everything that is concerning them. Avoid the shortcut of simply sending out questionnaires.
  5. Determine the recovery time objectives only after you have identified all the interdependencies: For example, through the questionnaire you might conclude that for critical activity A the maximum tolerable period of disruption is two days; however, the maximum tolerable period of disruption for critical activity B is one day and it cannot recover without the help of critical activity A. This means that the recovery time objective for A will be one day instead of two days.
More often than not, the results of BIA are unexpected and the recovery time objective is longer than it was initially thought. Still, it’s the most effective way to get you thinking and preparing for the issues that could strike your business. When you are carrying out BIA make sure you put in the effort and hours to do it right. Looking to learn more about business continuity? Contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 3rd, 2014

OSX_Sep02_AToday's operating systems offer a vast array of different features, some of which users find essential, and some that are deemed non-essential but are still handy. One such feature is the ability to take a screenshot. There is a good chance that you probably have taken screenshots before, but have you ever wished that there was a better way to take them? Here are four tips for better screenshots on OS X.

1. Know the shortcuts

As a Mac user, you likely know that the system is shortcut heavy. From navigating, to switching screens, to even opening programs, there is a shortcut for almost everything, including screenshots. With OS X there are a number of shortcuts associated with screenshots, and it is worthwhile knowing them:
  • Command + Shift + 3: Takes a screenshot of the entire screen.
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 3: Captures the entire screen and copies it to the clipboard. If you select Paste in a program like a word processor, it should paste the image.
  • Command + Shift + 4: Allows you to select the screenshot area and save it.
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 4: Allows you to select the screenshot area and copy it to the clipboard.
  • Command + Shift + 4 followed by spacebar: Captures an open window, folder, menu bar or desktop icon and saves it.
  • Command + Ctrl + Shift + 4 followed by spacebar: Captures an open window, folder, menu bar or desktop icon and copies it to the clipboard.
With Command + Shift + 4, you can also press and hold the spacebar once you have drawn a shape to move it around and select a different area. Also, pressing esc will cancel the screenshot selection if you have say selected too big of an area.

2. Including the cursor

Sometimes you may want to capture the mouse cursor pointing at something within a screenshot. You can do this by:
  1. Opening the Utilities folder on your computer. The quickest way to do this is to hit Command + Spacebar and typing Utilities.
  2. Scrolling down to the Grab app and opening it.
  3. Selecting Grab from the top right of your screen, followed by Preferences.
  4. Clicking on the cursor you would like to show up in your screenshots.
When you take the screenshot, the pointer will appear where you left it when the screenshot was taken.

3. Using Preview to take screenshots

If you have documents or files that contain images or text stored on your hard drive that you would like to take a screenshot of, the shortcuts will work fine, but did you know that you can use the Preview app to take screenshots as well?

If you right-click on the file that contains the information that you would like to take a screenshot of and select Open with followed by Preview, you will see the file open in preview mode. Clicking on File from the menu bar along the top followed by Take screenshot will allow you to capture the image.

When using this feature, you can select either:

  • From Selection… - Will allow you to draw a box to capture the screenshot.
  • From Window… - Will save the whole open window.
  • From Entire Screen… - Will capture the open window plus anything else on your screen.

4. Using the Grab app

Did you know that there is actually an app already installed on your computer that allows you to take screenshots? Most users rely on the shortcuts listed above, but these are actually related to the Grab app which is located in the Utilities folder.

If you open Grab (press Command + spacebar and type in 'Grab', select Grab under Applications), you can manually take screenshots using the app by:

  1. Clicking Capture.
  2. Selecting the type of screenshot from the drop-down menu.
The types of screenshot you can take with Grab include:
  1. Selection - Draw a box around the area of your screen you would like to capture.
  2. Window - Allows you to select a window to capture. Simply open the window and select Choose Window from the pop-up box.
  3. Screen - Will snap a screenshot of your entire screen.
  4. Timed Screen - Will start a timer then take an image of the screen in 10 seconds.
Looking to learn more about using OS X? Contact us today!
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
September 2nd, 2014

Web_Sep02_AAt any given time there are a nearly countless number of technology related trends popping up. Many come and go, but one of the most important that many business owners are focusing on is the cloud. Owners and managers know they ought to be using "the cloud" but it can be confusing as to what exactly it is and the different types of services available. To help, here is an overview of three of the most common cloud service models used in small to medium businesses.

1. SaaS

SaaS, or software as a service, is a cloud service that revolves around, you guessed it, software. Easily the largest and most well known cloud-based service, SaaS uses the cloud to deliver software to users, which is then usually accessed via your Web browser. Unlike physical software that you install on your computer, SaaS solutions are hosted on a provider's servers.

This means that the provider is responsible for software maintenance and updates, which translates to the fact that users will all be using the same version of software and get updates at the same time. As a business owner this means that actually managing the software on all of your computers is made not only easier, but more affordable. Combine this with the fact that companies like us can manage these solutions for you and you can see why SaaS is highly popular with many companies.

If you are looking for a new software solution, many major types of software now also have SaaS options including: Office document creation suites, accounting software, email, HR solutions, content management, customer relationship management, and more.

2. PaaS

PaaS, or platform as a service, is a cloud-based service that provides users with computing platforms. Most companies who utilize PaaS do so to either host or develop their own software solutions, or to provide support for software used by employees.

The main reason many companies integrate PaaS is because it drastically reduces the costs and complexity often associated with buying, developing, configuring, installing, and managing the hardware and software solutions that are necessary for the custom-built applications that many businesses rely on.

While PaaS is gaining in popularity with many small businesses, most won't have a lot of first-hand interaction with this type of cloud, especially those who work with IT providers like us. Essentially, most providers will utilize PaaS in order to deliver custom applications and solutions to the end-user.

3. IaaS

IaaS, or infrastructure as a service, is essentially cloud-based computers and resources. The most popular and well known type of IaaS is the virtual machine which is a digital version of a computer or server that is accessed over an Internet connection. The infrastructure is physically kept off site, and usually managed by a provider, but you access and interact with it as if it is located on your computer or in your office.

In other words, if you are looking to virtualize your systems via the cloud, IaaS could be a good place to start as it allows you to move existing support systems into the cloud. Other solutions can then be migrated or introduced as needed.

While the cloud can offer a wide variety of benefits and solutions to companies, it can be a chore to choose the service which is best for your company's needs. We highly recommend that if you are considering a cloud solution, you get in contact with us. We can help find the best solution for the needs of your business and to also manage it, thereby ensuring proper migration and implementation, leaving you to focus on running your business.

Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web
September 2nd, 2014

GoogleApps_Sep02_AFor many Google Apps users Google Drive is among the most important and popular app. With a wide scope of features, including document creation, collaboration tools, and cloud-based storage, the app is highly useful for almost any business across any industry. However, like most similar systems, it can still be a challenge to find specific files or folders. One of the best ways to do this is by using the search bar at the top of the screen, but did you know that there are some search operators you can use to make finding your files even easier? Here are four.

Searching for files on Drive

Before we look into the different search operators you can use to find files on Drive, we should clarify that these operators are to employ in the search bar, which is located at the top of the Drive page. If you want to search for a file this works in the same way as the Google Search bar on google.com, only this bar focuses on Drive files, and anything related to Drive.

To use the operators listed below, simply click on the bar that says Search Drive and enter the operator along with the search term, or name of the file/item/keyword you are looking for. For best results you should put the operator before the keyword, however Google also allows users to insert it after the keyword.

1. title:

Sometimes when you are looking for a document, you want to search for the title only, but because of the way Drive's search works, if you enter a keyword it will search for all files that contain that particular word. This means that if you are looking for a document based on its title, you will also see results for documents that contain that keyword too. By using the title: operator you can filter results so that only documents that contain the keyword in the title are displayed.

For example, if you are looking for a document that you know has the words "TPS report" in the title, you would enter: title: "tps report". If you are looking for a title but know only a few keywords that aren't next to each other, you can enter the keywords with quotations around each of the keywords. This will tell Drive to search for files that contain each of the separate keywords in the title.

2. type:

Chances are that with Drive you have created and stored more than just one type of file. Many of us use it to store multiple file types, which can make finding the file you are looking for more challenging.

If you know the type of document you are searching for, enter the operator type: followed by the file type (spreadsheet, document, pdf, presentation, drawing, image, and video) and then add keywords to direct Drive to only display these filtered, related results.

So, if you are looking for a presentation with the keywords "sales team" then you would enter: type:presentation "sales team". Be sure that when you are looking for a file type, there is no space between the operator and the type of file you are searching for.

3. owner:

Drive is highly collaborative and files that you have access to may not be stored on My Drive, or even owned by you. If you are looking for files that you know are owned by other team members try using the owner: operator.

When using this, Drive will present files owned by the email address that you enter beside the operator, and which have been shared with you. If you are looking for a file that is shared with you/on your Drive that is owned by sally@company.com, then you would enter: owner:sally@company.com. You can add keywords before or after the operator (as long as they are separated by a space) to filter results down even further.

4. is:starred

One of the more useful Drive features for users who deal with a large number of files is the ability to star important ones. By simply clicking on Starred on the left-hand horizontal menu bar, you can view all of your starred files. The issue many run across however is that that list does grow over time, making it less useful in finding important files - which kind of defeats the purpose of the feature in the first place.

If this has happened to you, then you can easily search for starred files by entering: is:starred along with keywords in the search field. This will tell Drive to only search for files that contain the keywords and are starred.

These are just a few of the more useful search operators available to Drive users. Do you have one you can't live without? Let us know! And, if you have any questions about Drive for your office, please contact us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 27th, 2014

socialmedia_Aug26_AHave you ever looked at images and visuals posted by businesses and users on Instagram? While many users take photos using their mobile devices, there are many images that simply look way too good to be taken with a phone camera, especially the ones without filters. Many business owners want to know how they too can take quality images like these too.

The truth behind some of Instagram's best images

Those awesome Instagram photos we see aren't always taken using mobile phones. Instead, many users use digital cameras which offer much better image quality. You can capture some amazing shots with a higher end DSLR cameras with multiple lenses.

If you have one of these cameras and are looking to create high-quality images for Instagram, or any other social media site, you may be slightly confused as to how to get the images onto the platform - especially since many of us use this via the mobile app. To make uploading a little easier, here is a brief guide detailing how to get images from your digital camera onto Instagram.

1. Transfer and process images

Once you have taken photos with your camera, you will need to get them off of your camera's memory and onto your computer's hard drive. Most camera's have apps that allow you to do this, so be sure to follow the instructions in the app that came with it.

When your images have been transferred to your computer, you are likely going to want to process them a little bit. This is especially true if you have a DSLR or other high-end point-and-shoot which takes RAW images. These can be quite large and are not compatible with Instagram.

Most images taken with a camera are quite large in size, so you are going to need to use an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop, or free tools like Pixlr to process them. What you are looking to do is to crop your images so that they are square.

If you are used to the advanced photo editing features, then do your edits before cropping. When you crop your images you should crop or resize them so that they are 640X640 pixels. This is the size of all images taken using Instagram's camera app.

Also, be sure to save the images as JPEGs, as this is the image format used by most smartphone cameras.

2. Save processed images in their own folder

It helps to create a folder somewhere on your hard drive (we recommend in the same folder where you save all of your other folders) that is specifically for images you want to post on Instagram.

When you have processed and edited the images to your liking, save the images here. Try using an easy to use file name like the date and a letter or note so you can easily tell which images are which, so you know which to use.

3. Move the images to your device

You can move images using the cloud or by manually transferring the images to your phone. If you decide to manually transfer your files, you will need to plug your device into your computer.

For users with iPhones, you can open iTunes and click on your device followed by Photos. Then select the box beside Sync photos from. Select the file you created in the step above and then Sync to transfer the images over.

For users with Android devices, plug your phone into the computer and drag the folder you created in the step above into the Photos folder of your Android device.

For Windows Phone users, plug your device into your computer and open My Computer on your desktop. You should see your device listed in the window that opens. Open the file system for your device and drag the image files you created above into the Photos folder of your phone.

If you choose to use the cloud to transfer your files, use the operating system's cloud (e.g., iCloud, Google Drive, or OneDrive) to upload the files. Just be sure to use the same account as the one on your phone.

4. Add images to Instagram

Once the photos are either on your device, or in the cloud, you can now upload them to Instagram. This can be done by:
  1. Opening the app and tapping on the camera icon.
  2. Tapping on the button in the bottom left of the screen.
  3. Selecting where the image is located on your device. E.g., the Gallery app if you placed the photos in your phone's hard drive, or the cloud service you used.
  4. Editing them as you see fit.
Once this is complete, you should be able to post your images as you usually do with any other Instagram image on your phone. Take the time to add filters, and hashtags as well as a good description before you post.

If you would like to learn more about using Instagram to share your images then get in touch and we will show you the advantages of the bigger picture.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 27th, 2014

office365_Aug26_AAs a manager or business owner the chances are good that you spend a fair amount of time editing or compiling documents your employees have created. Many of us use ever popular Microsoft Word to do this, especially when it comes to writing reports or other content. A common issue you may run across when editing is overtype. While this might be your preference, you may also inadvertently toggle it, so it helps to be aware of this function.

Word's two editing styles

Every version of Word used in businesses these days has the same two editing styles or modes:
  1. Insert mode: This is the default editing mode where words are inserted where the blinking cursor is placed. All text that comes to the right of the cursor will be moved to the right with newly typed text coming before it.
  2. Overtype mode: This mode replaces text to the right of the blinking cursor. So when you type new text any existing text to the immediate right will be replaced with the new letters.
While the vast majority of users prefer to use insert mode, overtype mode can be useful when editing documents and replacing words, or rewording paragraphs and keeping track of what needs to be rewritten.

Turning overtype on and off

On some older versions of Word, and on some computers, overtype mode is already enabled, and simply hitting Insert on the numberpad of your keyboard will turn it on. You will know overtype is active by looking at the status bar at the bottom of your document. The words OVR should be visible in bold letters.

If you don't see a status bar, try clicking on File > Preferences > View. Once in the View window, scroll down to the Windows section and tick Status Bar. Finally, press Ok and the bar should pop up at the bottom of the window.

Managing overtype

If you find that overtype cannot be activated, or have received a document where it is already activated and can't figure out how to turn it off, you can manage overtype by:
  1. Right clicking on the status bar at the bottom of the document.
  2. Clicking on Overtype to add it to the status bar.
  3. Clicking on OVR in the status bar to turn it on or off.
You can also activate or deactivate overtype by:
  1. Clicking on File followed by Options.
  2. Selecting Advanced.
  3. Scrolling down to Editing options.
  4. Ticking or unticking Use overtype mode.
If you untick Use overtype mode you will disable the feature, meaning you won't be able to hit Insert to switch between the two editing modes.

Looking to learn more about using Word in your office? Contact us today as we specialize in this area and have great tips, advice and solutions for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 26th, 2014

VoIP_Aug18_AVoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, has become one of the main forms of voice communication used in businesses of all sizes. Because the system uses an Internet connection, many companies often experience decreased costs while being able to do more with than they could with their traditional phone line. While almost every business can benefit from VoIP, there are a few important issues businesses who are considering switching over should be aware of.

1. Faxing can be tough with VoIP

Fax machines were designed on an analog system and therefore may have trouble working with a digital system like VoIP. This is especially true for businesses who are using older fax machines. We aren't saying faxing is impossible, but you likely will not be able to simply plug your fax machine into a VoIP line and start sending/receiving faxes.

What you will most likely need is to install a few extra components such as an adapter that supports T38 protocols. The T38 protocol was developed specifically to change analog fax signals into a digital that can then be sent via VoIP.

Therefore, if you use fax machines in your office, you should be sure to ask potential providers if their systems support faxing, and if your machines will be supported, or if there are any extra components needed.

2. Credit and debit terminals may not be compatible

Many business owners who look to move to VoIP systems often forget to also look at how their payment systems work. If you are using older credit or debit terminals on a landline they may actually be dial-up based, which means they will not work with VoIP. While most businesses already use newer models that support ethernet connections, and therefore VoIP, some are still using older systems. If this is the case, then you will need to contact your terminal provider for an upgrade, or new IP-terminals.

3. Older alarm systems may not work

Businesses with physical storefronts likely have alarm systems in place. The problem with this is that many older systems rely on traditional phone lines in order to signal emergency services should the alarm go off. If you are planning to upgrade to VoIP, you should make sure that the alarm system you have is compatible, or can be connected to VoIP.

If this is not the case, you may need to upgrade to a more modern alarm system. We strongly recommend checking with both the alarm provider and your VoIP provider if your alarm systems will still work.

4. VoIP requires broadband connections

We have seen cases before where businesses have invested in a VoIP system only to find out they don't have a broadband connection that is strong enough to support VoIP effectively. In order for VoIP systems to function, you need to have a broadband connection with a fairly strong amount of bandwidth. This is especially important for businesses in rural areas where broadband speeds can be limited based on distance.

It can be tough to figure out if your broadband connection will support VoIP, but you can test the connection before you agree to purchase it. Asking a potential provider for help testing your line would be a good idea. Should your connection prove to be too slow, then you will need to contact your Internet Service Provider in order to upgrade your speed.

5. VoIP needs to be managed

Like every other tech system, you will need to manage your VoIP solution. This includes adding new lines, upgrading equipment, ensuring systems are compatible, etc. For many business owners this will require extra time they don't necessarily have. One of the best solutions we can recommend is a managed VoIP solution.

We offer VoIP solutions, so if you are looking to learn more about VoIP in your business, and would like to avoid the common mistakes made by others, contact us today to learn more about how our expertise can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
August 26th, 2014

googleapps_Aug25_BWere you aware that when signing up for a new Gmail or Google account, users can only use a specific set of characters and numbers? While this is not an issue for many users, there are some who work with clients or suppliers who have email addresses that do not use these characters, making sending them emails via Gmail difficult. Google has recently announced a change to the characters supported by Gmail, one which could pose a bit of a security issue.

Google's recent character announcement

Until early August, any user who emails from a Gmail account had to use latin characters and numbers e.g., A-Z, and 1-9. While this fits for some users, there are a great number who have names and email addresses that use characters not in the standard English alphabet like 'É' or 'à'. In an effort to make things easier for a greater number of Google users, the company recently expanded support for different characters.

This means that Gmail will now understand addresses that use different scripts from the standard basic Latin alphabet (letters A to Z and numbers 0 to 9). According to Google, "This means Gmail users can send emails to, and receive emails from, people who have these characters in their email addresses."

Some of the scripts now supported include Katakana, Hong Kong (traditional Chinese), accented Latin characters, etc. While users with email addresses can send Gmail users emails, and vice versa, they are currently not supported by Google's account names. In other words, users who want to sign up for a Gmail account still need to use the basic Latin alphabet.

Why is this a potential security risk?

At first glance, this may not seem like the biggest security risk. Especially because many businesses have email addresses that use the basic Latin alphabet. But there is a security threat here, especially when you start to look at the characters used in other languages. Take for example the greek letter for lowercase omicron (ο) which looks a lot like our o.

When we write these letters on paper, they look the same to us, and there is no real harm. But when they are online, computers will read them as different. This is because of what is called Unicode. Unicode is a universal standard that dictates the difference between characters.

To us, the lowercase omicron and our letter 'o' look the same. But to computers, lowercase omicron is represented by the unicode: U+03BF, while the letter 'o' is represented by the unicode: U+006F.

Smart hackers will likely quickly figure out that they can replace basic Latin characters with others, and generate email addresses that take advantage of this. For example, you could see an email come into your Inbox from facebook.com, where one of the characters is actually an omicron. To us, there is no visual difference, but to the computer, the addresses are completely different. The email could have links to malware or tracking software that could lead to a breach in security.

Is anything being done to stop these characters from being exploited?

According to a post on the Google blog, the tech giant realizes this could be a potential security issue. "The Unicode community has identified suspicious combinations of letters that could be misleading, and Gmail will now begin rejecting emails with such combinations. We're using an open standard—the Unicode Consortium's “Highly Restricted” designation—which we believe strikes a healthy balance between legitimate uses of these new domains and those likely to be abused."

According to the Consortium, when applied to Gmail addresses, Highly Restrictive requires that characters must be from a single script, or from the combinations:

  • Latin + Han + Hiragana + Katakana,
  • Latin + Han + Bopomofo,
  • Latin + Han + Hangul
In other words, the overall security and legitimacy of addresses and sites that use other characters should be ensured..

What can we do?

To take it one step further, we also recommend that if you use Gmail, you look carefully at all email addresses. We can often spot the difference between letters and similar symbols used by other languages. If an address looks suspicious, it is a good idea to simply ignore or delete the email.

As with most other security measures, if you receive an email from large companies or institutions, such as banks, with what looks like a legitimate email address, always read the content closely. Almost every business and institution will never ask for you to provide passwords or login information in an email.

Essentially, ensure to be vigilant with email addresses, and if you have any further questions or concerns, contact us today to for our support solutions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 25th, 2014

Security_Aug18_AIt seems like nearly every week, and in some cases nearly every day, there is some security breach announced. The vast majority of these assaults tend to revolve around online user accounts, where password, account information, and even usernames are stolen. Over the years, there has been a general trend where the number of accounts breached or compromised is growing, and in early August news broke about possibly the biggest breach to date.

The latest big-scale breach

In early August, it emerged that a Russian hacker ring had amassed what is believed to be the biggest known collection of stolen account credentials. The numbers include around 1.2 billion username and password combinations, and over 500 million email addresses.

According to Hold Security, the company that uncovered these records, the information comes from around 420,000 sites. What is particularly interesting about this particular attack is that such a wide variety of sites were targeted when compared this with other attacks which tend to either attack large brand names or smaller related sites.

How did this happen?

Despite what many believe, this was not a one-time mass attack; all sites that were compromised were not attacked at the same time. Instead, the hacker ring - called the Cyber Vor - was likely working on amassing this data over months or longer. How they were able to amass this much information is through what's called a botnet.

Botnets are a group of computers infected by hackers. When the hackers establish a botnet, they attack computers with weak network security and try to infect them with malware that allows the hacker to control the computer. If successful, users won't even know their computer has been hacked and is being used by hackers.

Once this botnet is established, the hackers essentially tell the computers to try to contact websites to test the security. In this recent case, the computers were looking to see if the websites were vulnerable to a SQL injection. This is where hackers tell the computers in the botnet to look for fillable sections on sites like comment boxes, search boxes, etc. and input a certain code asking the website's database to list the stored information related to that box.

If the Web developer has restricted the characters allowed in the fillable text boxes, then the code likely would not have worked. The botnet would notice this, and then move onto the next site. However, if the code works, the botnet notes this and essentially alerts the hacker who can then go to work collecting the data.

So, is this serious and what can I do?

In short, this could be a fairly serious problem. While 420,000 sites may seem like a large number, keep in mind that the Internet is made up of billions of websites. This means that the chances of your website's data being breached by this ring are small. That being said, there is probably a good chance that one of the sites related to your website may have been breached.

So, it is a cause for concern. However, you can limit the chance of hackers gaining access to your information and a website's information.

1. Change all of your passwords

It seems like we say this about once a month, but this time you really should heed this warning. With 1.2 billion username and password combinations out there, there is a chance your user name for at least one account or site has been breached.

To be safe, change all of your passwords. This also includes passwords on your computer, mobile devices, and any online accounts - don't forget your website's back end, or hosting service. It is a pain to do, but this is essential if you want to ensure your data and your website is secure from this attack.

2. Make each password different

We can't stress this enough, so, while you are resetting your password you should aim to ensure that you use a different one for each account, site, and device. It will be tough to remember all of these passwords, so a manager like LastPass could help. Or, you could develop your own algorithm or saying that can be easily changed for each site. For example, the first letter of each word of a favorite saying, plus the first and last letter of the site/account, plus a number sequence could work.

3. Test your website for SQL injection

If you have a website, you are going to want to test all text boxes to see if they are secure against SQL injection. This can be tough to do by yourself, so it's best to contact a security expert like us who can help you execute these tests and then plug any holes should they be found.

4. Audit all of your online information

Finally, look at the information you have stored with your accounts. This includes names, addresses, postal/zip codes, credit card information, etc. You should only have the essential information stored and nothing else. Take for example websites like Amazon. While they are secure, many people have their credit card and billing information stored for easy shopping. If your account is hacked, there is a good chance hackers will be able to get hold of your card number.

5. Contact us for help

Finally, if you are unsure about the security of your accounts, business systems, and website, contact us today to see how our security experts can help ensure your vital data is safe and sound.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 22nd, 2014

Productivity_Aug18_AThese days many of us have integrated various apps and programs on our computers and mobile devices into our daily lives. The problem many of us face, however, is that apps and programs are all different and many don't work all that well together, so we need to take time to transfer information or even share the same content. To make things easier, there is a great app called If This Then That (IFTTT), that could help make your devices just that much smarter.

What is If This Then That?

IFTTT is a Web and mobile app that was developed to connect different Web apps like Google Apps, DropBox, Facebook, Instagram, etc, together into one general system. In general, the service runs on conditional statements - or recipes - that fit the IFTTT statement.

The service is set up on a number of different conditional statements that make up what the developers of the app call a recipe. Each recipe is broken down into two different sections:

  • This - Also referred to as a trigger. Each trigger in a recipe is kind of like a requirement in that the set trigger has to happen for the recipe to start working.
  • That - That refers to an action that happens when a 'this' condition is triggered.
Once you have set up a number of recipes, the app runs in the background to check for triggers and then will automatically execute the action when it notices a trigger.

Examples of IFTTT recipes

There are a wide variety of recipes out there that you can create. For example, some of the more useful IFTTT recipes for businesses include:
  • If a photo is posted on the business Instagram account, then it is shared with Twitter and Facebook.
  • If a Square payment is processed, then this creates a line in a specific spreadsheet.
  • If a contact is added to a phone's address book, then this information is placed on Evernote.
  • If an article is posted on a specific blog, then the post is shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
  • If an email is starred on Gmail, then a reminder is set on my phone to review starred emails.
  • If I enter the office, then my phone is muted.
  • If a client emails an attachment, then a copy is saved to DropBox.
  • If my device is in the office, then my office lights are turned on (if you have Phillips Hue bulbs).
There are a wide variety of supported apps that allow you to create recipes for nearly anything you can think of. The developers are constantly adding support for new channels (apps), including many from the Internet of Things.

How to sign up for this

Because you can access IFTTT from the Web and via an app on your mobile device, we recommend first thinking about how you are going to use it. If you are going to be using recipes for your mobile device, then we recommend downloading the app onto your device. Regardless of how you are going to use it, you can create an account by:
  1. Going to the IFTTT website (https://ifttt.com/)
  2. Clicking Join IFTTT.
  3. Setting a username and password and clicking Create account.
From there, you will be able to log in and start creating rules. If you do want to use your mobile device, you should then download the free app for your device - Windows Phone, Android, iPhone - and then log in using the account information you just created. When you first log in you should see a number of channels (apps) related to your system have been activated. This means you can now start creating recipes.

Creating recipes from your browser

  1. Go to the IFTTT website (https://ifttt.com/) and press Sign in.
  2. Press Create.
  3. Press This and select your trigger - try picking your app first, then click on it to get a list of actions.
  4. Press Create Trigger.
  5. Click That and select an action channel.
  6. Select Create Recipe.
You can also click Browse from the menu bar at the top to find and activate already created recipes.

Creating recipes from your mobile device

  1. Open the app.
  2. Press the mortar and pestle icon at the top-right.
  3. Press the + followed by the + besides If on the next screen.
  4. Select the app from the icons at the top of the screen, and select the related trigger.
  5. Tap the + beside Then and select an action or app.
  6. Press Finish to activate the new recipe.
If you are looking for a cool way to connect different apps, and even save yourself time, then this could be something worth looking into. And, if you are looking to learn more about how you can increase your productivity, contact us today to see how our systems can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
August 19th, 2014

Google_Aug18_AEmail is one of the most important communication tools for almost every employee and business. The problem many of us face however is sorting the non-important from important emails, or even separating personal and work emails. One solution most major email providers offer, to allow people to separate email types, is the alias. Did you know that Gmail has an alias feature that could be helpful?

About the Gmail alias

When you first sign up for a Gmail or Google account you are asked to pick an email address or username. Your username becomes the first part of your email address, and is what you will likely give to most people. There are times however where you may not want to give out your email address, but are still required to e.g., signing up for a newsletter.

What many email providers have done is implement an alias feature that allows you to set up a separate email address that can be managed by your main account. When an email is sent to your alias address, it shows up in your main account's Inbox. Google doesn't offer this feature in the traditional sense, instead the company has opted for a slightly different take on aliases.

With Google, you can add a suffix to the main part of your email address to essentially create an alias. The way this works is you add '+alias' to the main part of your email address. Any emails sent to this address will show up in your Inbox, but to the sender they are being sent to a different address.

Setting up an alias in Gmail

With Gmail you don't have to create a completely different account, you can create an alias email address instead. Let's say you are starting to sign up for an increasing number of email newsletters, what you can do is add a suffix like +newsletter to your email address, so it will look like: user.name+newsletter@gmail.com.

You can then use this email for when you are signing up for newsletters, and they will be sent to that address. The key here is that you can create as many +alias addresses as you want, and the emails sent to that address will show up in your Inbox.

Why use an alias?

At first thought this may seem like a bit of a non-feature, after all who really wants to create an alias like this? Well, the main reason this is a useful feature is because of Gmail's Filters and Labels. You can use these two features to sort and automatically action emails sent to a specific email alias. When you combine the +alias feature with these, you have a pretty powerful way to manage your Inbox.

Here are a few examples of how people are using this feature:

1. For newsletters and other non-essential emails

We all get these emails and while they aren't overly important they might contain useful information we want. The problem is that these emails can be annoying and always seem to be multiplying.

One solution is to use a +alias, like +news or +newsletters, when signing up for emails like this. Then, go into Gmail and create a filter that automatically labels all emails sent to the address with something like Updates, or even archive them. To be most effective, try setting the filter so that these emails automatically skip the Inbox, meaning you won't get a notification when you have a new email.

2. For VIPs

If you have a number of clients who you work closely with, or you want to make sure you don't miss anything from them, they why not set an alias like user.name+vip@gmail.com that you can then give to them.

From there, set up a filter in Gmail that automatically marks emails sent to this address as important and top priority. If you set it to automatically add a bright label as well, you increase the chances of seeing the email more quickly and will know it's important right away.

3. For impromptu reminders

We have all been in a situation where we want to send ourselves a reminder to do something later. One thing we can do is to email an alias like user.name+reminder@gmail.com with the reminder.

In Gmail, set up a filter to automatically label every email sent to the above email address with a label like Reminder. These emails can also go right to the archives and skip the Inbox, but when you click the Reminder label, they will still show up. If you are diligent in deleting these emails, this could work as a great way to send yourself important reminders - especially because we already look at our email so much; it will be practically in front of us.

If you are looking to learn more about Gmail and how it can be used in your business, get in touch with us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 19th, 2014

Facebook_Aug18_ASince its release, Facebook has gone from a college-only network to international site that connects millions of people. With more than half of adult users having more than 200 friends on average, our News Feeds have become a highly congested and constantly changing collage of stories and posts. Many of these posts are links to articles that we find interesting. While we would love to drop everything and read a particular link there are times when this isn't possible. To help, Facebook has introduced the new Save feature.

About the Save feature

The idea behind the Save feature is that it allows users to save longer-form content like articles posted on a News Feed. So, if someone has posted a link to an article on your favorite blog and you would like to read it later, you can now save it.

While this feature is similar to various apps like Pocket and Readability, which allow users to save content on the Web to read later, Facebook's version goes a little deeper. In a blog article announcing the feature, the company noted that the Save feature allows users to, "Save items like links, places, movies, TV and music."

Let's say you are at work, and during your break you quickly check Facebook. You come across a post where your friends have shared a link to a restaurant's Facebook Page. If you don't have time to visit the page right at that moment you can save it to view later.

While this feature will prove useful for many users, it is worth noting that when you save content, e.g., an article, you will need to have an Internet connection to access it in the future. Knowing Facebook however, they may integrate a feature like this in the future.

How to save content for later

Facebook has integrated this feature into all versions of Facebook, including the mobile app and browser-based versions. You can save content and links by:
  1. Scrolling through your News Feed until you find an article, link, Place, etc. that you would like to save for later.
  2. Clicking on the downward facing grey arrow at the top-right of the post.
  3. Selecting Save 'content name'. Note: The name will be based on the name of the link in the post.

Accessing your saved content

If you are looking at Facebook in your browser, then you should see a tab called Saved show up in the upper part (the area just below your profile image) of the left-hand vertical bar of the page. For users who access Facebook via the mobile app, press the three horizontal bars at the top-right of the app (located just below the magnifying glass) and you should see a section called Saved under Favorites.

When you click on Saved you should see a new screen open with the content you have saved. It will be divided into different types including:

  • All
  • Links
  • Places
  • Music
  • Books
You can interact with each item by either:
  • Tapping on it - This will open the page, link, or content.
  • Sliding it to the left - This will allow you to archive the content or press More to review, share or Like the content.
If you are looking to learn more about the Save feature, or Facebook in general and how it can be used effectively in your business, contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 15th, 2014

Virtualization_Aug11_AVirtualization has become common place in small to medium size businesses. After all, the idea of moving physical systems to virtual ones that not only usually costs less but also allows owners to get rid of physical hardware, makes it an appealing option. While virtualization is popular, migrations are not always successful. Following are five of the more popular reasons why they can fail.

1. Migration is forced before it is ready

One of the biggest reasons virtualization fails is that it is pushed before the company is ready for it. For example, it could be that the IT team is forced to fast-track virtualization, resulting in staff being forced to drop all other tasks and focus on migration.

If you rush, the chances of failure and mistakes always rise. And when it comes to changing systems from physical to virtual, mistakes can be compounded, thus increasing overall migration time and costs.

To avoid this you should take the time to conduct research on solutions available, workloads, applications to the move, and your specific business needs. Once you are across this, you should also take the time to get to know your systems and test them before migration.

2. Trying to implement a management plan after virtualizing systems

Some companies decide to virtualize first, and then try to figure out how to manage systems after migration is complete. This will almost always result in inefficiencies and frustration as the pressure is on not just to learn how to manage but also how to use this solution.

In order to see a more successful virtualization, you should have a management plan in place before you migrate your systems. You should look at how virtual machines will be managed, who will be doing what, as well as what systems you are going to use, and more. One of the best times to develop an overall management plan is when you are in the testing phase, well before actual migration. This will give you an idea of how systems will work in reality and how you can manage them.

3. Virtualization without employee buy-in, or involving employees

We have seen companies implement a virtualization solution without having full buy-in from the employees who will be using and managing the system. What this results in is confusion, resentment, lost efficiency, and, in some extreme situations, sabotage.

In order to successfully introduce a virtualized solution, you should ensure that all employees who will be using the system are not only aware of it but are trained on how to use it and have been given a fair chance to air their opinions. If you can achieve employee buy-in, there is a better chance that the systems will be used more effectively, and employees will be more open to other solutions being implemented.

4. Assuming one solution that works for others will work for you

An easy mistake to make is to only consider solutions successfully implemented by other businesses. The fact is, every business is different, and you should be looking for a solution that meets your specific needs.

If you go with a ready-made solution, or one-size-fits-all solution, it will likely work to some extent. However, there is a good chance that it will not completely meet your needs. This will likely result in either lost efficiency or increased investment in order to get what you need.

We recommend looking for a provider who can meet your virtualization needs with tailor made solutions. This way you will get what you need straightaway and likely not need to invest more in the future.

5. Not managing your virtual solution after implementation

Unlike some tech solutions, virtualization is not really a 'set it and forget it' type of solution. You will need to manage it from the start if you want to be able to get the most out of your systems. This includes ensuring resources are being allocated properly; machines are created and shut down properly; apps and systems are updated; and more.

While virtualized solutions do require less management than their physical counterparts, they still require some management and you will need people to help you do that. One of the best solutions is to work with an IT partner like us who can help manage your systems and ensure that they are working efficiently.

In fact, we offer a wide variety of virtualization solutions. By working with us, we can help take some of the virtualization load off and allow you to focus on running your business. If you would like to learn more, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 14th, 2014

The amount of data both available to, and generated by, a company is increasing exponentially. While some smaller to medium businesses are coping fine with the growth, many are struggling with managing their data, let alone leveraging it to help make better decisions. If you find that your business isn't coping with data, one solution may be to implement a data warehouse.

What is a data warehouse?

A data warehouse is a system used by companies for data analysis and reporting. The main purpose of the data warehouse is to integrate, or bring together, data from a number of different sources into one centralized location. The vast majority of the data they store is current or historical data that is used to create reports or reveal trends.

Possibly the biggest benefit of a data warehouse is that it can pull data from different sources e.g., marketing, sales, finance, etc. and use this different data to formulate detailed reports on demand. Essentially, a data warehouse cuts down the time required to find and analyze important data.

While not every business will need one right this minute, a solid data warehouse could help make operations easier and more efficient, especially when compared with other data storage solutions. That being said, it can be tough to figure out if you actually need one. In order to help, we have come up with five signs that show your business is ready to implement a data warehouse.

1. Heavy reliance on spreadsheets

Regardless of business size, the spreadsheet is among the most important business tools out there. Used by pretty much every department in a company, they can be a great way of tracking data. The problem many business owners run across however is that spreadsheets can grow to immense sizes and can become unwieldy.

Combine this with the fact that each department has spreadsheets that you will likely need to pull data from in order to generate a report. If this is the case, you are creating manual reports, which can take a lot of your time.

If you are struggling to find the data you need because it is spread out across different sheets, in different departments, then it may be time to implement a data warehouse.

2. Data is overwhelming your spreadsheets

Spreadsheets are designed to operate with a set amount of data (rows and columns). Reach, or exceed this limit, and you will find that the file becomes sluggish or will downright prevent you adding more data.

While it can take a while to get to this point, companies will reach it if they keep adding to their data. At this point you will see a drop in productivity and overall effectiveness in how you use your data. Therefore, a data warehouse that can combine data from different sheets may be a great solution.

3. You spend too much time waiting

If you set out to develop a report, only to find out that you need to wait for colleagues to provide the information on their spreadsheets, or to analyze their data, you could find yourself waiting for a longer than expected time.

This makes you highly ineffective and can be downright frustrating, especially if employees are too busy or just can't provide the information needed. Implementing a data warehouse can help centralize data and make it available to all team members more effectively. This cuts down the time spent actually having to track it down and communicating with colleagues.

4. Discrepancies in data and reports

Have you noticed that when team leaders or members in different departments create reports that the data or findings are different from yours, or other reports? Not only is this frustrating, it is also time consuming to sort out and could lead to costly mistakes.

This can be amplified if some departments have data sources that they don't share with other teams, as this can throw doubt into the solidity of your data and other reports. If you have reached this point, and realize that there are discrepancies in your data, it may be time to look into a data warehouse which can help sort out problems while ensuring mistakes like duplicate data are eliminated.

5. Too much time spent generating reports

Ideally, we should be able to generate a report using existing data almost instantly, or with as few clicks as possible. If you find that when generating a report you have to keep going to different sources to check if the data is updated, or to keep manually updating other sources, you could quickly see the amount of time needed to develop a report grow.

Because data warehouses consolidate data, you only have to turn to one source for data. Combine with the fact that many data warehouses can be set up to automatically update if source data is updated or changed, and you can guarantee that the data you are using is always correct.

Looking to learn more about data warehouses, or about the different data solutions we offer? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 14th, 2014

iPad_Aug11_AApple prides itself on producing products and systems that simply work. This has proven to be a successful concept, as is evident with the sheer number of Apple products out there. The iPad, for example, is arguably the most popular, and useful, tablet with many business owners and managers owning one. These devices rely on apps but a common issue is that we often have so many apps it can be difficult to see what we have installed. Here are three ways you can figure out what apps you have installed on your iPad.

1. Finding installed apps via Settings

While there is no set section of the iPad's Settings that allows you to view installed apps, you can actually view installed apps by looking at the Usage section. This section tells users how much storage space installed apps are using, therefore giving you a list of installed apps.

You can access the Usage section of Settings by:

  1. Opening the Settings panel on your iPad.
  2. Tapping on General.
  3. Selecting Usage.
This will list the apps you have installed, organized by how much hard drive space they are using. What's great about this method is that you can not only see the apps you have installed but also see if there are apps you aren't using, or apps that are taking up valuable space. You can also select apps to learn more about how much memory they are using and even uninstall an app should you not need it anymore.

2. Finding installed apps via Spotlight

If you have iOS 7 on your iPad you can view all installed apps via the Spotlight feature. Spotlight allows you to search your iPad for files, folders, apps, and more, and can be accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen when looking at the Home screen.

You can see what apps you have installed using Spotlight by:

  1. Opening Spotlight by sliding down from the top of your iPad's screen.
  2. Tapping on the blank spot beside the magnifying glass.
  3. Typing "." (period/full stop) without the quotations.
You should see a list of your installed apps come up, though there is no apparent way they are organized. If you tap on an app name, it will open.

3. Finding installed apps via iTunes

The other way you can find out the apps you have installed is via iTunes. You can do this by:
  1. Plugging your iPad into your computer via the cord that came with the device.
  2. Opening iTunes, if it doesn't open automatically when you connect it.
  3. Clicking on the device's name under Devices.
  4. Selecting Apps.
You will be able to search for apps, or you should see a full list of installed apps. The great thing about this feature is that if you search for apps, you should see where they are on your device's screen. From there you can move the apps around, or even delete them.

If you are looking to learn more about using the iPad, please contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad