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July 10th, 2014

Security_July07_BAs technology continues to expand and improve, many people have come to prefer to use their own systems over their office's tech offerings. This is largely because many of us have newer personal devices that allow us to do so much more than the computers we use at our office. As a result, the issue of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has become far more important, especially due to the fact that if left unchecked, BYOD could pose a security risk to your organization.

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_BThe cloud is one of the most popular tech systems businesses integrate, with many relying on cloud storage solutions for backup or day-to-day storage needs. One issue some users have with cloud storage however, is over how secure it is. In an effort to ensure maximum security, many providers implement two-step authentication. The latest company to adopt this heightened security is Apple, who have just enabled it for iCloud users.

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_BThe cloud has really taken off in the past five years. So much so, in fact, that almost every major business system has a cloud offering. From email to CRM and accounting, chances are good you will find a cloud solution you can integrate with your business. Because of the abundance of systems it is common for business owners and managers to feel confused as to which systems they can, or should, 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_BFor tech giants like Google and Apple, it has become a tradition to host an annual conference where they announce new products and services they are working on. Google calls their conference I/O, and usually holds it at the end of May or June. This year, it was on June 25 and 26, and the company did not disappoint, especially when it came to announcements beneficial to business users.

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_BWhether you are a bit Google fan or not, the tech giant is now one of the biggest companies on Earth. Each year they host an annual conference to highlight what you can expect in the coming year from the company that promises to "do no evil". Their annual conference, I/O, is usually held in late May or June, and this year was held on June 25 and 26. As with the past few years, the company talked about a new version of Android that they are working on.

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

AndroidPhone_June30_BAs Android devices continue their steady penetration into the business world, we are starting to see a wider number of business oriented apps arrive on the Google Play store. One of the latest apps released could be incredibly useful for business owners who use Google Apps. In late June, Google announced that they had released the Slides app.

What exactly is the Google Slides app? I thought it was part of Google Drive...

As many who use Google Apps know, productivity apps like Slides, Docs, and Sheets are part of Google's cloud storage app - Drive. If you have used the Drive app on your phone or tablet, you likely also know that you can create, edit, and share documents via this app.

This development is an effort to extend the capabilities of Drive, while simultaneously making it easier for users to access their individual files. For example, if you are a heavy user of Slides it can be a little annoying and time consuming to open the Drive app, search for the file you want, open it, and start editing. Now, if you have the app installed you can open it for immediate access to your related files, in this case Slides.

The key here is to think of the Slides app as a branch of the Google Drive App, as all of your files are still linked to Drive. Create a presentation using the Slides app and it will show up automatically on Google Drive as well as in the app. This app has all the same features as the Drive version, it is just that the app has been specifically written for mobile devices and designed for ease of use.

What can I do with this app?

As we stated above, the main focus of the Slides app is to allow you to create and edit presentations from your Android device. As such, there are a number of useful features:
  • The ability to create and edit presentations offline. As long as you have accessed a Slides presentation while online, it will be made available for you to open and edit offline as well. You can also save individual presentations to your device's hard drive and have the file updated when the presentation is.
  • Advanced sharing features. You are able to share your presentation from a mobile device and have users on their devices or computers collaborate on the same file.
  • Automatic saving of presentations created and edited on the Web. As long as you have an Internet connection, changes made to files via the app will be synced with Google Drive and reflect on all versions of the presentation. If you are offline, the changes will sync when you are next online.
  • The ability to open, edit, and save Microsoft PowerPoint presentations directly from the app. This is a big feature, largely due to the fact that many businesses use PowerPoint instead of Slides. What this means for you is that you can view these files without PowerPoint installed on your device.
  • Full editing capabilities. You are able to create slides, add text, edit slide order and the overall format of your text and slides.
  • Present directly from your device. You can run presentations on your device or connect to a projector using adapters that can usually be purchased for your device.

Where can I find the Slides app?

This app is available now on Google Play. To install it you can:
  1. Open the Google Play app on your device.
  2. Press the magnifying glass and type in Google Slides.
  3. Tap on the app and select Install.
  4. Open the app when it has been installed.
When you open the app, you should see all of your slides related to your Google account pop up in the app.

If you are looking to learn more about Google's apps on your Android device contact us today to see how we can help ensure that you get the apps your business needs most.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 2nd, 2014

Windows_June30_BHow did we ever manage without hibernation in the past? The feature was first introduced with Windows XP and is one of the operating system's (OS) most useful power functions. However, with Windows 8 this feature is not readily visible, so you need to find out not just what this feature is about but also how you can enable it on Windows 8.

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_BThere are numerous social networks a company can join, but if they are looking to connect to other businesses, colleagues or potential hires the network of choice should be LinkedIn. This powerful network is designed for professionals and offers many benefits that other networks, like Facebook and Twitter, don't or are not able to. As a result, many business owners attempt to build a profile that will work well for them on LinkedIn. The question many ask however is how to 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_BFor many businesses, the cloud and cloud-based solutions are becoming increasingly popular. Microsoft Office 365 is one of the most commonly integrated cloud-based solutions amongst small to medium businesses. With a suite of familiar and powerful apps, it offers a wide variety of features. In mid June, Microsoft announced a new program, the Office 365 roadmap, that allows business users to see what new features are coming soon.

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_BThe cloud has become one of the most commonly implemented IT concepts for small to medium businesses. While the type of cloud service put in place does vary, one of the more common is the collaboration and document production suite, of which Google Apps is one of the most popular. While useful and affordable, many business owners are still unsure about what it is and whether it can actually 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.