Blog

September 29th, 2016

2016september29_office_bIf you thought Office 365 couldn’t get any better, Microsoft was not of the same mind. Late last month the company announced a new feature that allows users to invite guests to interact with 365 groups and their content. Whether they’re international business partners, local customers, or infrequent clients, you can involve them regardless of their 365 subscription. Here’s a look at the nitty-gritty details.

This new functionality mainly centers around Office 365 groups. A 365 group is essentially an email address with Office privileges that several people have access to. For example, if you have an Editorial Group, each individual writer at your organization will receive emails, calendar invites, and document read/edit privileges sent to editorial@acme.com.

If you’re interested in adding a guest from outside of your organization to an Office 365 group, the process is simple. From the group administration dashboard, click “Add Members.” Then, all you need to do is enter the email addresses of whomever you would like to add, and voilà.

Guest collaborators will receive an email alerting them of their new addition and access to group files, emails, and calendar items -- all accessible via Office on the web.

Take note, however, of Outlook’s alert: “You’re adding a guest to this group. As a member, they’ll have access to group content.” This will grant new guests all the same read/edit privileges as other group members -- including privileges from before the guest was added.

There is no requirement for guests to have a Microsoft account, and by always labeling the new member as a guest, original group members won’t ever have to worry about forgetting who should receive confidential document privileges.

Unless the guest is a trusted partner, we recommend creating 365 groups specially designated for the purpose of outside collaboration to ensure the privacy of your cloud documents. Administrators can remove them at any time, or guests can volunteer to leave on their own.

Adding and removing collaborators from outside of your organization may be as simple as adding an email address to a list, but the possibility for improved teamwork is limitless. If at any point in your workflow you feel that your work is suffering from bottlenecks in creation, communication, or collaboration, there’s a good chance Office 365 has a solution. If there’s anyone who will know that solution, it’s us. Message us today about collaborating on all your productivity dilemmas.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic office
September 28th, 2016

2016september31_apple_bWith its most recent keynote, Apple has increased the storage capacity of iPhones and iPads. Minimum storage for these two devices have risen from the 16GB to 32GB, with iPad prices remaining the same. If you are thinking about buying a new iPad, stay tuned for the latest info about storage upgrades and the reduced price per gigabyte.

Hoping to lure customers back to their mobile devices, Apple has made a number of changes to its products. However, the changes aren’t as simple as they sound, and there are 21 total variations of iPad model and storage. For instance, the storage capacity of the iPad mini 2, the oldest and cheapest version, has been upgraded from 16GB to 32GB.

Both the new Wi-Fi and cellular models of the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 share the same price, and come in either 32GB or 128GB. These are the only two storage options available for these models as the mid-range 64GB model has been discontinued. While the mini 4 kept all its prices the same and simply added more storage, the Air 2 received increased storage capacity and price reductions as high as $200 for the largest model.

Previously, those looking to purchase high-end 12.9-inch iPad Pros had to shell out over a thousand dollars. But if you’re willing to stick to a Wi-Fi model, that’s no longer the case with the 256GB version coming in at $999. Cellular-enabled iPad Pros won’t offer a 32GB model, which means the cheapest option will cost you over a grand.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro offers the most variety in available storage, with 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB models for both the Wi-Fi and cellular versions of the tablet. Not excepted from price cuts, these models saw price reductions across each of the six configurations, which now cost anywhere from $599 to $929.

Originating in 1965, Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors in a circuit doubles every two years. This standard has held true even for digital storage, which has grown exponentially. However, what Moore’s Law doesn’t approximate is price. Yet again, consumers have the opportunity to purchase greater computing power at lower prices.

Apple manufactures a lot more than just iPhones and iPads. As specialists in everything that runs iOS and MacOS, we’re your one-stop shop for all your Apple technology needs. Whether it’s hardware advice or Mac-only software solutions, we’re here to help. Give us a call today to find out how we can improve your Apple technology.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple
September 27th, 2016

2016september27_androidtablet_bIn a bombshell announcement for the non-Apple gadget geeks, reports are surfacing that Google plans to team up with Huawei to build its next Nexus Android tablet. Up until last year, Huawei’s relationship with Google has been limited to manufacturing the Google Nexus 6P phone. But with these new reports, the industry is abuzz with the possibility of a refresh of one of Android’s best tablets. Let’s take a closer look. People spend a lot of time looking for and comparing the best tablets on the market. Obviously, some prefer the iPad Pro 12.9 for its gigantic screen, but for those who just can't get enough of the customizations available for Android devices, a Google Nexus Android tablet is best.

But whether Google retains the ‘Nexus’ name remains to be seen. On October 4, the tech giant will host an event to release devices in their new ‘Pixel’ line and may add a Huawei tablet to this family. With its rumored 4GB of RAM and top-of-the-line specifications, the new device from Google and Huawei will enable users to enjoy an experience on par with that of a full-fledged desktop computer -- all while stripping the out-of-the-box model of any unnecessary manufacturer software and bloatware.

In 2015, Huawei manufactured Google’s Nexus 6P smartphone, which was lauded as "the most premium Nexus ever." That fact, combined with Huawei’s existing tablet prowess from its experiences with the MediaPad M3, make this an all-star team-up.

Although we only know a handful of specifics about this new tablet, we do know that we love the Huawei/Google smartphone collaboration and can expect good things. Being a leader in the industry means constantly keeping your ear to the ground for new and exciting releases. You can trust us to always be one step ahead of the competition with our insider knowledge. For all your Android and mobile device questions, we’re the authority. Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Android
September 26th, 2016

2016september29_virtualization_bFor the average business owner, a virtualized network may not seem groundbreaking. And until recently, even the team at VMware didn’t realize just what they could do with it. Now that they’ve publicly announced what they’re calling “Project Goldilocks,” we finally see how relevant it is. Every small- or medium-sized business is concerned with endpoint security, and that’s why you absolutely must read on to learn about this new form of virtualization.

A virtual network is a way to connect two or more devices that aren’t physically linked by wires or cables. From the perspective of machines on a virtual network, they’re essentially sitting in the same room -- even if they’re on opposite sides of the globe. The advantages of this setup range from ease of management to reduced hardware costs. AT&T and Verizon have begun offering these services, and small- and medium-sized businesses have slowly begun to adopt them.

Meanwhile, another sector of the IT world has been making its own advances. Cutting-edge hardware firewalls are beginning to offer internal segmentation as a method of separating pieces of your internal network to keep them safe from threats that spread internally. The more segments you have, the safer your network is from poorly protected neighbors. But there are limits to how much capacity one of these hardware firewalls has for segmentation.

Virtualization giant VMware has taken notice and developed a prototype to combine these two services. In the hopes of unleashing ‘microsegmentation’ from the limits of physical hardware, Project Goldilocks will essentially create a virtual firewall for every virtualized application. When one of these applications is created or installed, it will come with a ‘birth certificate’ outlining every acceptable function it can perform. When making requests to the operating system, network, or hardware the application is installed on, Goldilocks will cross-reference the request with the birth certificate and deny anything that hasn’t been given permission.

Segmenting virtual networks and applying them to individual applications rather than entire networks or operating systems could revolutionize the market for endpoint security. Not only would it be easier to block malware infections, but those that made it through could be quarantined and terminated immediately because of the virtual nature of their location.

While virtualization may be a complicated state-of-the-art technology, all it really takes is a helping hand. With our full team of specialists, we’re ready to pull you into the next stage of your virtualized infrastructure. All you need to do is reach out us -- why not do it today?

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 23rd, 2016

2016september23_microsoftwindowsnewsandtips_bRegardless of the app, platform, or operating system, digital notifications are a tricky business. Our devices are overcrowded with software of varying importance, and without proper customization the stream of information can become overwhelming. Thankfully, Windows 10’s action center is built atop a solid foundation -- it just needs a bit of help. If Windows notifications are driving you up a wall, try out the three steps we’ve listed here to get them under your thumb.

Overarching action center settings

The place to start is customizing system-wide notifications settings. To view these, click on the Cortana icon on your taskbar, type ‘Notifications,’ and click ‘Notifications & actions settings.’ From here you can turn off alerts entirely, adjust those on the lock screen, or customize the alerts for core functions such as alarms and incoming calls.

Settings for individual applications

If you’re interested in taking a far more nuanced approach to your notifications, there are options to create rules on an app-by-app basis. At the bottom of the ‘Notifications & actions settings’ screen is a section titled ‘Get notifications from these senders.’ At first glance it may look as though you can only turn alerts completely off or on for these apps, but that’s not the case.

By clicking on any of the items in this list, you can open a new window full of more graded notifications options. From here, users can specify lock screen, sound, and priority settings for individual software.

Closing the blinds

For users who have no interest whatsoever in the Windows 10 action center, there is a way to banish it entirely. Open Cortana again and search ‘Notification area.’ Halfway down the page, click the menu titled ‘Turn system icons on or off.’ Toggling the Action Center option (third from the bottom) allows you to remove the icon from your taskbar altogether.

While you’re at it, why not take this philosophy one step further? Click the back arrow to return to the ‘Notification area’ window and this time choose ‘Select which icons appear on the taskbar.’ Here you can choose which apps to remove from your taskbar entirely, eliminating any annoying icons that change to alert you of distracting notifications.

Everyone is different. If artists have tools unique to their style, why shouldn’t the tools of your trade be tailored to your preferences? Our paintbrush is technology, and we’d love to show you how we work by helping you achieve new levels of productivity and efficiency on your Windows machine. Get in touch with us today to speak with one of our tech-savvy specialists about your technology goals.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic windows
September 22nd, 2016

2016september22_google_bIt’s undeniable that we hide skeletons in our closets, your search engine history included. Users might not know this, but Google keeps a full record on EVERY search you have ever made, removed searches as well. If you thought you deleted all your secret searches, think again. Luckily there are things you can do to prohibit Google from collecting more data, ensuring that your most private, My Little Pony-related inquiries aren’t ever brought to light.

It’s estimated that Google currently processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. It begs this question: How does Google manage to keep tabs on such a jaw-dropping amount?

It’s not like Google is a superior being capable of seeing and hearing all. It’s only when you log into your Gmail or Google account that Google will be able to record it all -- removed items included. See your very own search history by using the link: history.google.com/history. In that history page, Google even has its own specific audio page as well as meticulous records of every single place you’ve been to on the Internet.

You can even analyze the information with the handy “search my searches” tool. Image searches and watched YouTube videos are also recorded. Previous Google Maps searches can also be reviewed, and if you feel like it, you can download your entire history and browse through it in your spare time.

For those wishing to delete certain files or certain search records, the Independent advises you on exactly how to do it: “To delete particular files, you can click the checkbox on the left and then move back to the top of the page and select ‘delete.’ To get rid of everything, you can press the ‘More’ button, select ‘Delete options’ and then ‘Advanced’ and click through. The easiest way to stop Google recording everything is to turn off the virtual assistant and never to use voice search. But that solution also gets at the central problem of much privacy and data use today – doing so cuts off one of the most useful things about having an Android phone or using Google search.”

Another method would be to head over to the top left of the screen where you’ll find a drop-down menu that includes the option “Activity Controls.” Select this and then switch off the slider marked “Web & App Activity.”

Keeping records might come in handy when you want to look back for something, but for those who enjoy their privacy, there are ways to prevent Google from going through your search history. For more information, please give us a call or send us an email. We are more than happy to help in any way we can.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Google
September 21st, 2016

2016september21_security_bEveryone hates jargon. It’s ostracizing and off-putting, but somehow we just keep creating more and more of it. For those who have adopted an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy, we have just the list for you. Let’s take a look at some of the most relevant cybersecurity terms making the rounds today.

Malware

For a long time, the phrase ‘computer virus’ was misappropriated as a term to define every type of attack that intended to harm or hurt your computers and networks. A virus is actually a specific type of attack, or malware. Whereas a virus is designed to replicate itself, any software created for the purpose of destroying or unfairly accessing networks and data should be referred to as a type of malware.

Ransomware

Don’t let all the other words ending in ‘ware’ confuse you; they are all just subcategories of malware. Currently, one of the most popular of these is ‘ransomware,’ which encrypts valuable data until a ransom is paid for its return.

Intrusion Protection System

There are several ways to safeguard your network from malware, but intrusion protection systems (IPSs) are quickly becoming one of the non-negotiables. IPSs sit inside of your company’s firewall and look for suspicious and malicious activity that can be halted before it can deploy an exploit or take advantage of a known vulnerability.

Social Engineering

Not all types of malware rely solely on fancy computer programming. While the exact statistics are quite difficult to pin down, experts agree that the majority of attacks require some form of what is called ‘social engineering’ to be successful. Social engineering is the act of tricking people, rather than computers, into revealing sensitive or guarded information. Complicated software is totally unnecessary if you can just convince potential victims that you’re a security professional who needs their password to secure their account.

Phishing

Despite often relying on face-to-face interactions, social engineering does occasionally employ more technical methods. Phishing is the act of creating an application or website that impersonates a trustworthy, and often well-known business in an attempt to elicit confidential information. Just because you received an email that says it’s from the IRS doesn’t mean it should be taken at face value -- always verify the source of any service requesting your sensitive data.

Anti-virus

Anti-virus software is often misunderstood as a way to comprehensively secure your computers and workstations. These applications are just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle and can only scan the drives on which they are installed for signs of well known malware variants.

Zero-day attacks

Malware is most dangerous when it has been released but not yet discovered by cybersecurity experts. When a vulnerability is found within a piece of software, vendors will release an update to amend the gap in security. However, if cyber attackers release a piece of malware that has never been seen before, and if that malware exploits one of these holes before the vulnerability is addressed, it is called a zero-day attack.

Patch

When software developers discover a security vulnerability in their programming, they usually release a small file to update and ‘patch’ this gap. Patches are essential to keeping your network secure from the vultures lurking on the internet. By checking for and installing patches as often as possible, you keep your software protected from the latest advances in malware.

Redundant data

When anti-virus software, patches, and intrusion detection fail to keep your information secure, there’s only one thing that will: quarantined off-site storage. Duplicating your data offline and storing it somewhere other than your business’s workspace ensures that if there is a malware infection, you’re equipped with backups.

We aren’t just creating a glossary of cyber security terms; every day, we’re writing a new chapter to the history of this ever-evolving industry. And no matter what you might think, we are available to impart that knowledge on anyone who comes knocking. Get in touch with us today and find out for yourself.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
September 19th, 2016

2016september19_voip_bRecently, a story circulated amongst industry insiders of an official in a hospital’s records room who couldn’t customize her legacy phone system’s hold messages. The upshot was this particular platform restarted the hold message each time a caller was placed back on hold. Her provider - a reseller with little control over the system’s functionality - was unable to help, and the “on-hold caller” hang-up rate increased 35% over a 3-month period.

When an operator asks a client for permission to put them on hold, what they’re really saying is “Can you wait there a short time not talking to anybody?” It’s a small window of speech-free standing-by that occurs at different times throughout a call, and for different durations.

And, it can result in two distinctly different outcomes: an untroubled customer who will stick around to finish their business, or a disgruntled one who will most likely quit the call and come back another time. With a VoIP phone system, a mix of engaging music, constructive messages, and interesting information can put the kibosh on finicky fleeing clients.

Music

We’d all agree there’s no accounting for taste when it comes to music, but there are some things you definitely DON’T want playing while a potentially agitated or impatient customer is on hold. So how do you choose the best sounds for them to hear whilst waiting?

With a VoIP system’s easy-to-navigate dashboard, you simply click a tab called “Hold Music” or something similar, and then upload your audio. Focus on trendy, easily recognizable music that suits your brand, and takes your clientele’s demographics into account.

You can also enter through your VoIP user interface freely to schedule how frequently a particular track plays and for how long, and to configure whether it restarts or continues where it left off when a caller is placed back on hold.

Marketing Messages

Your VoIP system’s audio files aren’t restricted to music, of course. There is a world of opportunity there to keep your on-hold customers not only engaged by sound, but marketed to, too. Remember, your goal isn’t just to eliminate silence, it’s to do so with a purpose.

“Hold message” scripts that riff on your company’s TV and radio ads might elicit an “I think I’ve heard this somewhere” response. Conversely, you could put a totally new spin on the usual tone and style of your marketing messages and really get creative with humorous mini-commercials that make your customers chuckle (and a little bit of levity never hurt nobody!).

You could also create files that catalogue your company’s services in unconventional ways, such as in alphabetical order; highlight seasonal promotions or other new specials; and announce upcoming product launches -- or simply hint at them to coax your customer into a bit of standby sleuthing. Whatever the case may be, your VoIP system’s interface makes it easy to have multiple messages at the ready.

Facts & Figures

Why is your customer doing business with you in the first place? Try to remind them while they wait, perhaps by telling them about your company’s founding fathers’ esteemed histories or about some of the innovations you’ve brought to your industry’s marketplace.

New information and intriguing anecdotes will take their minds off of the fact that they aren’t being served, so you could also pose a playful trivia or “Did you know?” kind of contest where providing a correct answer once the call resumes wins them a prize.

Or, tailor-make announcements that make it clear you’re doing your best to solve the customer’s issues: whether they went through the “internet service” IVR menu or they’re there to “renew membership,” program your VoIP system to play an upbeat, service-appropriate message that makes them feel like they’re getting personalized care.

VoIP functionality actually gives you an opportunity to turn the on-hold experience into a positive customer service experience. So if you’re looking for a way to make sure the window of speech-free standing-by doesn’t slam shut, get in touch with us today and we’ll help you increase the odds that your clients hold the line happily.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP
September 16th, 2016

2016september16__browsers_bGoogle’s Chromecast device has been around for a few years now. The simple and inexpensive flash-drive-sized screen broadcaster has earned itself a faithful following, but it’s not stopping there. With the newest update, you might even be able to ‘cast’ your desktop or mobile screen to a nearby device before the end of this article. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, we have all the details right here.

In its earliest stages, ‘Casting’ allowed users to stream a device’s screen to a TV with a Chromecast wireless adapter plugged into the HDMI port. Soon after, Google released a second, updated model that added the possibility of connecting to audio-only devices via stereo cable and faster internal hardware to improve streaming to both TVs and stereo systems.

Regardless of which model you had previous to last month’s update, individual apps needed to include Casting functionality, and even Google’s own Chrome browser required downloading and installing an extension before users could get the most out of the service. As an industry leader in user experience and design, the engineers at Google knew this had to be fixed. Their solution was a no-brainer, and may even be sitting in your browser this very moment.

The Cast feature is now built directly into every updated version of the Chrome. Just click the three stacked lines that act as Chrome’s File menu and select Cast halfway down the menu. Click the arrow to the right of ‘Cast to’ and choose desktop, followed by which Chromecast device you would like to broadcast, and voilà -- your computer’s desktop will be duplicated on your Chromecast-enabled TV.

Assuming you’re currently connected to a trusted wireless network, we invite you to give it a try right here and now. If you’re confused about why we would suggest such a thing when you haven’t had a chance to go out and buy the necessary hardware adapter, that’s because several big-name TV brands are now installing this functionality directly into their televisions. You may have had this feature all along without even knowing it!

Once you’ve mastered casting your screens and audio wirelessly, why not check out all the apps Google has highlighted specifically for this Chrome feature? From NFL streaming to slideshow production, the Play Store has everything you’re looking for to step up your casting game.

It’s amazing how something so useful and so accessible could go relatively unnoticed for so long. There are tons of wonderful and exciting features lurking around, even in software as ordinary as your internet browser. For IT solutions big and small, there’s only one number you need to know -- and it’s right at the bottom of this page. Give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
September 15th, 2016

2016september15_socialmedia_bAside from having an up-to-date LinkedIn profile, there seems to be more waiting around than getting job interviews or receiving promotions. Why so? You’ve given all the relevant information needed to land a job, or to convince your boss that it’s time for you to step up the corporate ladder -- but what else is missing? Your network. Knowing how to fully utilize your network will help advance your career by leaps and bounds. All you have to do is start using LinkedIn’s Alumni tool.

Get started

Access the Alumni tool by going to the homepage and hovering over “My Network.” Then select “Find Alumni.” From there, you are free to perform any search for individuals who have attended your school. You can apply one or more of the following filters:
  • Where they live (geographic location)
  • Where they work (company)
  • What they do (job function)
  • What they studied (major)
  • What they’re skilled at (LinkedIn skills)
  • How you are connected (first- and second-degree connections, group members, etc.)
On top of that, you can also identify alumni by the year they attended school, or you can conduct a text search for specifics that don’t fit in any of the listed filters.

The benefits of LinkedIn Alumni

Imagine that you’re looking for work in a new city. Let’s say you're looking for a marketing job in Texas. With the Alumni tool, select “Dallas/Fort Worth” area under “Where they live” and “Marketing” under “What they do.” If you are interested in a specific area of marketing like social media, you can refine your search by selecting “Social Media Marketing” for the “What they’re skilled at” filter. The more you target your search, the more relevant your results will be. From there, you can sift through profiles and send messages to those you want to have an actual conversation with. You can dip your toes into the water first by setting up an informational interview or exchanging questions via email.

If you’re looking to change careers but don’t know anyone in your new sector, all you need is filter for your alma mater. It shouldn’t be hard to reach out to anyone who went to the same school as you, because going to that school is what you both share in common. If you want to know how others made the leap toward where you’re headed, you can use the “What they studied” and “What they’re skilled at” filters for further information. You might also be able to find an individual with a nontraditional background, but who’s nonetheless working in the industry you want. This person may have insight into how to land the job without possessing the typical required experience.

Know how to contact the candidates

After narrowing down your search by utilizing the appropriate filters, you now have a list of individuals you wish to connect with. Technically, you’re just about done with the “Alumni Tool” portion of the process, but you’re not at the finish line just yet. All that’s left is to reach out to the people in your list and make the most out of the search.

If you have a first-degree connection with certain people, message them by clicking on the envelope icon found below the job title. Without a first-degree connection, you’ll see a silhouette and plus sign below the job title. From there, look to the bottom right of the profile photo; if there’s a Venn diagram, hover over it to see the connections you share. If you have a good relationship with one of these mutual connections, you should consider reaching out to see whether he or she would be willing to make an introduction.

There are a few ways to connect even without mutual connections. One option is to leverage your school’s alumni database to find contact information. Another is to send a personalized connection request. In the message, politely and briefly explain your reasons for wanting to connect. That should do it!

When used properly, networks truly are the keys to success. Like any other untapped resource, you must proceed with caution and know how to fully utilize it. If you have questions or concerns regarding LinkedIn’s Alumni tool, don’t hesitate to call in or send us an email. Let us be a part of the success that awaits you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media