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August 26th, 2015

Browsers_Aug20_BEven the most fanatical Google fan has cause to use browsers other than Chrome from time to time. After all, while Chrome might have crept a long way up the popularity scale, there are still alternatives out there - among them Firefox, Safari and even Internet Explorer. Whether you prefer to use another browser on a particular device or just haven’t got around to installing Chrome on it, you’ll still want to have your Chrome bookmarks handy in order to speed up your work. Here’s how to go about accessing your bookmarks from elsewhere.

Whereas in the past it was possible to sync bookmarks saved in Chrome to your Google Docs account, this ceased with the transition from Google Docs to Google Drive. You can still save your bookmarks, but they are now only accessible on other devices if you use Chrome there too. Go online with Firefox or one of the other alternatives and you’ll be left without the easy bookmark access you rely on. The alternative is to use the Bookmarks Anywhere browser extension, which syncs your Chrome bookmarks to your other browsers and updates them live as you add to the list. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Within Chrome on the device that contains the bookmarks you want to sync, download the Bookmarks Anywhere extension from the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Once the extension has been added, a popup will appear. If you’re not already logged in, sign in to the Google account you use in Chrome; you’ll then need to grant Bookmarks Anywhere the browser permissions it requires.
  3. Your Chrome bookmarks will now be synced to the Bookmarks Anywhere site. To access them from non-Chrome browsers on your other devices, just sign in to www.bookmarksany.com using your Google account and a list of your bookmarks will appear. You can also manually add new bookmarks from this page, though these don’t appear to sync back to your Chrome bookmarks menu.
If you want to discover other simple ways to boost your productivity through better use of IT, give us a call and we’ll show you how.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Browsers
August 26th, 2015

Windows_Aug26_COne of the most underrated aspects of Windows 10 is Cortana. This do-it-all personal assistant is going to revolutionize the way you use your computer. Cortana operates in the same manner as Siri and other digital voice assistants, but on your laptop or PC. We’ll dig a little deeper to show you how to set up Cortana and what you can do to maximize her uses.

If you are using Windows 10, it’s likely you have come across Cortana at least once or twice. While you might fear that the effort involved in setting up the feature isn’t worth the time you will save once Cortana is up and running, you would be mistaken. Configuring her is quite simple and she is more helpful than you might realize.

Setup

For starters, you will want to have your microphone turned on if you plan on using voice commands, and all the privacy and locations settings enabled. Cortana will not work if these have not been activated. From there, she will give you a brief overview of her capabilities and ask you a few questions to get to know you better.

Once that is completed, you are going to want to spend a few minutes testing her out and seeing what she can do for you. This awkward, getting-to-know-you stage might seem like a waste of time but, once you have a good feel for Cortana, you’ll be more inclined to use her in the future.

Maximize Cortana

Now that Cortana is ready to assist you, it’s important to utilize her as a personal assistant. Here are a few areas she can really come in handy:

Find that document - Ever saved a document somewhere to later forget where it was stored? Simply ask Cortana to look for it by saying, “Hey Cortana, find (file name),” and she will bring it up for you. Let’s say you are looking for Word documents located in multiple folders on your computer; all you have to say is, “Hey Cortana, find my Word documents,” to have her pull up all your Word files.

Easily start tasks - Football season is nearly upon us and that means fantasy football season is here. Utilizing Cortana could give you the extra edge needed to win your league this year. If you want to check on Tony Romo’s status, say, “search for Tony Romo injury,” and the search results will pop up for you. Want to make a sneaky trade offer to John before your rivals? Say “email John Fantasy Football,” and a window with his e-mail address will pop-up. Of course, these features are universal and you don’t have to like or even know what fantasy football is to use them.

Answer your questions - One of the coolest features about Cortana is the fact that when you ask her a question she will not only show you the answer, but speak it as well. Want to know what the weather is like in Denver? Just say, “Hey Cortana, what’s the weather in Denver,” and she’ll give you the lowdown on it. Need to know when your next meeting is taking place? Ask Cortana and she’ll reply with the answer. This is especially nice when you’re in your office but away from the computer.

Talking to Cortana is nice, but speaking with a person about your IT is better. Contact us today for all your technology needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 24th, 2015

164_Fbook_BSome people love them, others hate them. But the fact of the matter is that keyboard shortcuts can save you time. And if you find yourself on Facebook often, now you can use them to bounce around your beloved social media network quicker than ever before. Here’s the lowdown on how you can use keyboard shortcuts on Facebook.

There are two specific ways you can use keyboard shortcuts on Facebook. First is on the News Feed page, and second is to jump between the various pages of Facebook: Timeline, Inbox, Settings etc. Let’s look at the keyboard shortcuts for both below.

Navigating between Facebook’s different pages

Depending on your unique computer and browser combination, you must first enter in a unique base keyboard shortcut followed by a number that works on every computer and browser.

Start first with the keyboard shortcut unique to your browser and computer combo.

  • Internet Explorer on PC: Alt + #, then Enter
  • Firefox on PC: Shift + Alt + #
  • Chrome on PC: Alt + #
  • Safari on Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #
  • Firefox on Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #
  • Chrome on Mac: Ctrl +Opt + #
With your unique key combination held down, press the relevant number to take you to the specific section of Facebook you’d like to visit:

1 - News Feed 2 - Timeline 3 - Friends List 4 - Inbox 5 - Notifications 6 - Settings 7 - Activity Log 8 - Facebook About page 9 - Terms & Policies

News Feed shortcuts

Next up is the News Feed section. Unlike navigating between Facebook’s pages, you do not need a base shortcut that depends on your computer/browser combination. Instead you just simply enter in your desired keyboard shortcut:
  • j and k - Scroll up or down between News Feed stories
  • p - post a status update
  • l - like or unlike a highlighted story
  • c - comment on a highlighted story
  • s - share the highlighted story
Additionally, you can use the arrows on your keyboard to scroll up or down between stories on the News Feed.

Want more Facebook tips? Looking for an IT provider to relieve your technology headaches? Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook
August 20th, 2015

InternetSocialNetworkingandReputationManagement_Aug18_BOnline Reputation Management (ORM) is something ever more companies are investing in. Even small and medium-sized businesses are getting in on the act. In today’s world, a company’s online reputation is more likely than ever to make or break them. The good news is setting up your company’s ORM is probably easier than you think.

ORM is still a relatively new concept, and one that small and medium-sized business owners may not yet be familiar with. Simply put, ORM is the monitoring and protecting of your company’s reputation online. Not only are you looking out for what your company is producing, but also what other people are saying about you.

You only control a limited amount of your company’s message. Consumers using social media control the rest and can often times make or break your company. That is why more and more businesses are investing resources in ORM. While many companies choose to handle their ORM in-house, there are ORM service providers who can take care of the process for you.

Search for your company

Once you’ve determined who will be looking after your ORM, it’s important to see how your business stacks up. The first thing you should do is search for your company on Google. The results are often telling for your business. Being at the top of the search results is a good sign, and shows your website has strong SEO terms and social media presence. If your company doesn’t appear on the first two pages of search results, or the results that come up aren’t what you want people to see, it’s time for your ORM team to get to work.

Bolster your online presence

Creating quality content - to boost where your business shows up in the search results, or push down negative content - is the next step for your ORM. Remember, most people only bother with the first two pages of Google search results, so you want to own those. Other ways to bolster your online presence include registering with online business directories like Yelp or Yellowpages.com. These sites almost always rank very well in search results.

Another positive step would be to expand your social media portfolio to include sites you might not think of right away, like Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and even Tumblr. Being active on just a couple of these channels can further improve your exposure.

Set up a monitoring system

Finally, setting up a monitoring system will ensure your ORM is always up to date with your company's online profile. Signing up for Google Alerts can guarantee you are always informed of new brand or keyword mentions, while tools like Tagboard and TweetBinder will search various social networks for keywords and hashtags related to your business. These are valuable tools to ensure you’re on top of what's happening to your business online.

At the end of the day, your online reputation needs to be not only robust, but sterling as well. That is why dedicating resources to ORM can not only protect your business, but help it grow as well. Clients will find your business easily when they search for it, and the results they do find will be the things you want them to see.

Want to know more about ORM or anything else internet-related? Contact us and we can help your business today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 19th, 2015

Businesses everywhere are embracing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to communicate more effectively with colleagues, clients, and suppliers. Do you have a VoIP phone system in place? When it comes to transitioning your business from traditional phone lines over to VoIP, preparation is vital to seamless and successful implementation. Here are the key components you need to examine in order to properly prepare your business for VoIP.

Network

Implementing a VoIP phone system presents challenges of its own. For one thing, VoIP service cannot tolerate any kind of network interruption. You need to ensure you have alternative physical links to carry all of your VoIP traffic in the event that you lose your primary path. An uninterrupted power supply (UPS) should also be installed. This way your Ethernet switches and VoIP devices won’t lose connection and go offline in case of power failure.

Security

As with other networks, VoIP is susceptible to cyber security threats and breaches. If you don’t have reliable and preventative security measures in place, you could fall victim to information theft and malicious attacks. Your best bet is to deploy a dedicated internal firewall to monitor the traffic flow and protect your systems from security threats.

Bandwidth

VoIP is dependent on the bandwidth of your Internet. Therefore, an accurate estimation of bandwidth consumption is crucial for proper planning in order to accommodate VoIP traffic. You need to perform tests to ensure you have enough bandwidth to handle the inbound and outbound call traffic. Relevant information includes the number of users, the number of handsets, the duration of calls, and data usage levels.

Budget

VoIP is no doubt a long-term money saver for your business, but switching over from a traditional phone system, or a fresh installation, involves a cost. You need to take into account the expenses of purchasing the equipment required for VoIP installation, such as VoIP phone cables, external power supplies, and routers. Installation costs may vary greatly, but it is worth the investment if you’re looking to take your communication systems to the next level.

Staff

Employee involvement and understanding is key to a seamless and successful VoIP integration. You can assign one, or a group, of your staff members the responsibility of learning about and managing your new VoIP systems. They can be the go-to person for any enquiries from other staff members. It is recommended that you ask a dedicated specialist to equip your staff with the information needed to utilize VoIP to its fullest potential. While most people are already familiar with video conferencing software such as Skype, it helps to create user guides and manuals to educate those that aren’t as tech-savvy.

VoIP implementation can often be a hassle if you undertake it alone. With the help of dedicated professionals, however, the whole process can become much easier, less expensive, and more rewarding.

Get in touch with us today and we’ll answer any questions you have on preparing your business to embrace this groundbreaking technology.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
August 17th, 2015

164_SM_BThe coveted email list: it can be the difference between a growing business and one that sputters out before it gets off the ground. So what can you do to grow yours? Although it’s often less talked about, social media can be an instrumental tool to gain subscribers. Here are three tips on how you can use it to grow your email list.

Post and share your emails publicly

If you create great content for your email list and no one sees it except your subscribers, how are your non-subscribers going to know what they’re missing out on? They won’t, which is exactly why you should give your social media fans and followers a taste of the valuable content that awaits them after sign up.

Now let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you should share every single email you send out to your list. If you did, there would be less of a need to subscribe. Instead, try sharing or posting an email once every few weeks or once a month.

Make it easy to sign up

Let’s face it. Many of us will take the easier, simpler path whenever possible. This is just as true in marketing as it is in other more primal aspects of human nature. Take eating, for example: if you’re short on time and have a choice between two restaurants for lunch, and one delivers and the other doesn’t, which one are you going to take? Likely the delivery. Even if you prefer the one that doesn’t deliver slightly better, you’d probably still take the delivery for the simple fact that they’ve made it easier for you.

In the online marketing world, the same concept works for gaining subscribers. This is why you need to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up after they’ve read your publicly shared email. To do this, simply add a sign-up link to the emails you share.

Create valuable content

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”. However, whoever came up with this catchphrase left out a very important keyword. It should instead read “valuable content is king.” If you’re shelling out dozens of blog posts, emails, podcasts or videos a month but the content is useless to the reader, you’re not going to make any traction with your email list.

When trying to gain subscribers, always ask yourself, “what’s in it for them if they sign up?” If you simply have a signup box on your website or social media page, but no valuable content to go along with it, why would someone sign up? Would you sign up? The point is that there needs to be a reason for someone to subscribe to your email list. And valuable content is a very good reason.

Lastly, don’t forget to demonstrate why it’s more valuable for your future audience to subscribe rather than simply follow you on social media. To do this, give them an incentive to sign up. This could be in the form of an exclusive offer or a free ebook, course, report, or something similar.

Want more tips on leveraging social media to grow your business? Send us a message today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 13th, 2015

GoogleApps_Aug13_BNobody wants to arrive at the office in the morning to an inbox full of hideous emails, and then to have those same messages staring at you all the way through the day - it’s a certified motivation and productivity killer if there ever was one. But it’s the reality for most of us, and all too often inbox zero feels more like a distant dream than an achievable goal. Enter the Streak plugin for Gmail and, crucially, its snooze feature. This handy extension has the capacity to bring a clear and uncluttered inbox back within reach - grab it.

Streak is a full-on customer relationship management tool that allows you to track emails and carry out plenty more tricks to streamline your client engagement workflow - but it’s the snooze feature that has the real potential to get you to that inbox-zero nirvana.

The premise is simple. When you receive an email that you can’t instantly file away forever - as you ought to with the likes of updates and notifications from colleagues and clients, which don’t require a reply - but which you can’t take action on right now, with one click of a button you can snooze it for as long as you need to. The email is stored away in a specially created Gmail folder, and resurfaces at the top of your inbox when the snooze time elapses. You can opt for the snooze period of your choice and even enter it in plain, human-speak text (like “in 30 minutes” or “tomorrow at 11am”), which the ever-intelligent Streak understands.

Additional options include the ability to only activate the snooze alarm if nobody replies to the email thread - making it perfect for getting sales enquiries out of your inbox, by prompting you to follow up if the client doesn’t get back in touch (and if they do, their reply will force the email back into your inbox, and onto your radar, anyway). Any time you need to, you can review a list of the emails you’re holding in snooze mode, and pull back to your inbox any that you’re ready to work on sooner than you had initially expected.

Snooze, along with the rest of the Streak plugin, is simple to understand and easy to use, and has the potential to help you better manage your email - and stop it from managing you instead. If it feels like you’re constantly waging war with a never-ending barrage of messages, this is one more tool you might want to consider adding to your productivity arsenal.

If you’re ready to take on the inbox-zero challenge and regain control of your workday, contact us to find out how Google Apps and other innovative tools could help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 12th, 2015

164_Virt_BData centers can be expensive, and they can suck up large amounts of energy fast. With that said, do you know how much yours is costing you every month? You may be afraid to find out the answer. Not to fear though, there are specific steps you can take to get your data center costs under control. Here are a few to get you started.

Perform an energy audit

There’s a good chance your IT staff has never once thought about how much energy your server room and data center are consuming. So, the first step to rectifying this problem is to identify just how much power is being sucked up.

To get you started, here are a few questions to ask:

  • How much of the data center’s power budget goes to support systems?
  • How much goes to IT systems?
  • How much IT output do you get for every kilowatt/hour of power sucked up by your data center IT systems?
Answering these questions will help you determine just how efficient, or inefficient, your data center actually is.

Decrease the IT workload

When you save a single watt of energy at the server level, it can result in a total saving of nearly three watts in your data center costs.

So how do you decrease the IT workload? Virtualization is a common and effective tactic. Instead of wasting money on cooling your own servers in your data center, with virtualization you can have them hosted by your IT provider and then their technology delivered to you through the Internet. This allows you to eliminate some of your servers from your office and therefore reduce cooling costs.

For alternate ways to decrease server workload, you can also:

  • Eliminate unused servers
  • Consolidate servers
  • Purchase more energy-efficient technology

Mind your humidity and temperature levels

Because many non-IT personnel are terrified of the data center and simply don’t understand it, often they falsely believe that the room must be kept as cold as the North Pole in order to protect sensitive data. This is simply not true. While it is true that excessively high temperatures, humidity or dry conditions can harm your data, most modern-day data center equipment is incredibly durable and can tolerate a much wider range of humidity and temperatures than in decades past. Because of this, it is highly likely you can get away with a lot less cooling and dehumidification than you thought possible. That said, it’s wise to consult with an IT professional before doing this to ensure you don’t damage your data.

Another innovation that can help you cool down your data center more economically is utilizing an economizer system. This technology uses cool air from the outside to provide “free” cooling cycles for your data center.

Want more tips on reducing your overall IT bill? Curious to learn more about virtualization? Call us today to learn from one of our experts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 11th, 2015

Office_Aug11_BMicrosoft has released Office Mobile apps as part of the worldwide rollout of Windows 10. Tablet users with Windows 10 can enjoy free access to the mobile versions of Microsoft’s popular Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications. The mobile version of these applications is designed with a “touch-first’ interface to improve functionality for tablet users while providing all the Office features you would find on your desktop computer.

One of the biggest complaints about trying to edit a Microsoft Office file from a tablet is usability, or lack thereof. That has all changed, at least for Windows 10 users, with Microsoft’s recent release of Office Mobile apps. The tablet-friendly versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote have been built from the ground up to improve touch functionality.

Even if you don’t have Windows 10, you still might be intrigued about the potential of having Office apps that are touch-friendly. Here are some of the new features you can enjoy when using Office Mobile apps.

Word

Microsoft Word Mobile has all the tools and features of the PC version including more nuanced tasks like being able to track changes and add footnotes. The Read mode, a mobile exclusive, improves the way documents appear by making them flow better on the smaller screens of a tablet while also letting you zoom in and out with a simple tap of the screen.

Excel

Recommended Charts is the prominent feature of the Excel Mobile app. It allows you to quickly show off your data using a stylish chart or graph with only a few taps. You will also find that reordering columns, adding formulae, changing chart types and the majority of Excel’s other core functions are easier than ever before.

PowerPoint

Of course Office wouldn’t be Office without PowerPoint. The mobile version of the app allows you to edit slides with new touch gestures. This makes it easy to insert and edit pictures, tables, shapes and SmartArt. But the real star here, and of the entire Office Mobile setup, is the Presenter View. This mode gives you full control over what your audience sees on the big screen during a presentation while still letting you view your speaker notes on the tablet.

OneNote

Windows 10 comes installed with OneNote, so you’re probably already using it. Tablet users will notice that changes made by anyone working in the notebook are automatically saved and synchronized for everyone to see.

The release of Office Mobile apps is just one of three big launches to come from Microsoft in 2015. Both Microsoft Office 2016 and Office Mobile for phones are slated for release this fall. Yet, while these tablet applications represent marked improvements for Windows 10 tablet users, they are probably not quite enough to warrant the switch from other operating systems just yet. In fact, even if you’re in love with the idea of having user-friendly, mobile versions of Office, you might want to hang on in there - it’s likely Microsoft will release them for iOS and Android in the near future, too.

Want to know what hardware and software is best for your company? Want to increase productivity in your office? Get in touch with us and we’ll show you how to do it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_BEnsuring the implementation of effective business continuity planning (BCP) is an essential requirement for organizations today. Disasters strike at the most unexpected times and, when they do, you need to be prepared for the worst. While most organizations recognize the importance of BCP, their ability to execute a successful implementation is limited by certain challenges. With that said, we’ve listed some issues you need to be aware of, and what you can do about them.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option - it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike - all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today - we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.