Blog

February 26th, 2013

Office365_Feb26_BWe all know that the tech industry is fast paced, always changing. The same goes for software; it's often released before it's 100% finished and updated with new features at a later date. This is the way the software industry functions, and will continue to do so well into the future. For example, Microsoft Office 365 was released in 2011 and has since seen numerous updates. There's a small update coming in March which will make it even easier to use.

The Office 365 update will focus largely on the sign-in process, and making it not only more efficient, but simpler. While this won't be a massive change, users who access their accounts on more than one device will find it much easier to do so.

Possibly the most intriguing thing about this redesign is that when you navigate to the login screen, the window will automatically resize to the resolution of your monitor or device. If you are on a handheld device like your tablet, the sign-in screen will now fit the screen size, instead of you having to zoom in to be able to see what you are typing.

This new layout will be best viewed on machines and browsers that are up to date, so be sure to keep the device/browser you use to access Office 365 updated.

Microsoft has also noted that this update will extend Single Sign On (SSO) for Office 365 capabilities. SSO can be boiled down to logging in once in order to access all services related to that software. For example, you can login to Office 365, and also be able to access SkyDrive, Lync or other Microsoft based services without having to individually log in to those sites. The update will expand the SSO capabilities, so employees won’t have to log in to multiple Microsoft programs once they have logged in the first time.

While not a huge update, it is one that makes the Office 365 system even more user friendly, which is great for those in your company who may not be the most tech savvy. You should notice this in early to mid March, or may have already been asked if you would like to try the new layout. You will have to opt-in on an individual basis.

If you would like to learn more about Office 365, or are interested in how it can help your business, why not contact us? We are happy to sit down and discuss your options with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
February 26th, 2013

Google_Feb26_BThe cloud is here to stay, and one of the of the popular cloud services is Google's Drive. Drive not only allows users to store files, but also create documents, presentations and spreadsheets. You can also share these files and collaborate on them in real-time. To further extend Drive's capabilities, you can install some pretty cool apps. A recent update makes these apps even more useable.

Starting in mid-February, you might have noticed a slight change to the layout of the drop-down window when your press Create in Google Drive. Now, you see all apps in a list, regardless of if they are Google's apps (Document, Spreadsheet, Presentation, etc.) or from another companies. You can add apps to Drive by:

  1. Opening Drive and pressing Create - located in the left-hand side of the window.
  2. Pressing Connect more apps.
  3. Selecting an app you would like to add to Drive from the pop-up window.
  4. Hovering your mouse over the picture of the app should show more information. Press Connect followed by Ok. You should now see the app when you press Create.
Most of the apps you connect to Drive will allow you to open files, edit and save them directly from Drive. If you connect an image editing app, you can right-click on any image in Drive and tap on the app's icon to open it using that app.

An app for everyone If you browse for programs to connect to Drive, you will see that there some really great ones that enhance what you can do with Drive. You will find these by pressing Create in Drive followed by Connect more apps. You can search for them by name, but you should see them all on the first page. Here's five that may help your business:

  • Gantter - For project scheduling, it allows you to open, edit and save Microsoft Project documents directly from Google Drive. While it is free, there are a number of user permissions that are required that could go against your security plan, so be sure to read the permissions carefully. Free.
  • SlideRocket - While Drive does have Presentation, it can be a little plain at times. If you want presentation software that rivals PowerPoint, and is even easier to use, this is a good choice. Free for the basic app, subscription plans start at USD$24 per user/month.
  • HelloFax - The fax machine isn't as popular as it once was, but you will likely need to occasionally fax documents. This app allows you to fax documents directly from Drive, and you can also attach a signature to any document. Plans start at USD$9.99 a month for 500 faxes, and an unlimited number of users.
  • Pixlr Editor - If you need to edit photos, and require something with more advanced features like those found in Photoshop, Pixlr has them. This app can open and save files directly into Drive. Free.
  • Lucidchart: Diagramming - This focuses on one thing: diagrams. Create and collaborate on professional looking flowcharts for projects, visual work processes, etc. Free 14 day trial, monthly fee from USD$2 to $5 per user/month thereafter.
While many of these apps aren't free, they are affordable, especially since you can use them directly from Drive, which means there is no need to purchase extra programs. If you find that you don't want to use apps you have installed, you can remove them by clicking the cog at the top right of the Drive window and selecting Manage Apps. Find the app you no longer want and press Options followed by Disconnect from Drive.

If you would like to learn more about how Drive can help improve your company's ability to collaborate, why not contact us? We may have a plan that fits your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
February 19th, 2013

GoogleApps_Feb19_BDid you know that February 5 was Safer Internet Day? This initiative hopes to make the Internet a safer and more responsible tool for all users. While based in the EU, many companies are supporting the initiative, including Google, who released some great Internet security tips that all users should follow.

Here's are five tips Google recommends:

1. Use a good password Your password serves a dual purpose, it identifies you and also allows access to your information, websites, etc. If you have a weak password, or use the same one across different accounts, you are at a higher risk of being hacked. Google recommends that you use an unique password that's long and contains numbers, symbols and letters.

The main idea here is to use unique passwords. You shouldn't be using the same password for your work computer/accounts for online banking or personal accounts. This advice doesn't just pertain to you, as your company's systems should also have strong, unique passwords. If you don't adopt this advice, the chances of someone being able to hack into different systems once they have one password increases.

2. Practice password common sense Having a strong password isn't enough, you also need to take steps to protect it. You should never send your password over email or share it with others if it can be helped. If you receive emails from your bank, service companies, friends, etc. asking you for your password, they are likely phishing emails, and should be deleted.

It would also be beneficial to change your passwords on a regular basis. There is no set limit, but once a year at the very least is a good idea. If you have trouble remembering long passwords, Google suggests that, "Writing down your passwords isn’t necessarily a bad idea. But if you do this, don’t leave notes with your passwords in plain sight, on your computer or desk."

3. Monitor security settings Almost every website that you have an account with, Google included, upgrades their security policies on a regular basis. This means that your security settings could change, or more powerful settings could be introduced without you being notified. Therefore, you should periodically review your security settings to see what, if anything has changed, and to update them if new settings are introduced.

4. Be socially responsible When it comes to online presence, nothing is more powerful for a company's brand than social media. While a great tool, it's all too easy to post something inflammatory, offensive or inappropriate, which could negatively impact your business. Before you post something on either your business or personal site, be sure to look over it and ensure it isn't embarrassing or harmful to your business reputation.

5. Log off/lock it It's advisable to either turn your computer off after you're done using it, or at the very least log off. This will prevent unauthorized users from being able to gain access. If you use a mobile phone and are constantly signed in to different services/apps, it's a good idea to set your phone to lock itself after a certain period of time. This can be done by going into the security settings on your phone.

These are just five recommended tips from Google's security experts which are well worth taking note of if you want to ensure you and your company's data is safe. If you would like to learn more about how you can make the Internet safer, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
February 12th, 2013

Office365_Feb12_BThere is little doubt as to the most popular office production suite. Microsoft Office has been the program of choice for almost two decades and shows no sign of giving this status up in the near future. In late January Microsoft officially released Office 2013, and as usual released numerous versions aimed at meeting the needs of different users.

Here's a brief overview of the different versions of Office 2013 released last month.

A tale of three Offices There are three different types of Office: Standalone, Subscription and RT. The standalone versions are similar to older versions of Office, as you will be able to buy these in stores. You pay once, and have access to the software that comes in that bundle, as you would with older versions. The only difference is that older versions came on CDs or DVDs, while the newer versions are really a code that you enter on the Microsoft website to download Office.

Subscription based versions are referred to as Office 365 for home, and are sold on a per month/year basis. You will be able to buy a year subscription in stores, which will come with an activation code you can enter in the Office site to download the software. This option is heavily integrated with the cloud and users will be able to store and access documents by signing into their SkyDrive account. You can also store files on your computer.

The RT version of Office is a tablet specific version engineered for use with touchscreen devices. This version comes installed on all RT tablets like the Microsoft Surface. This will only work on tablets running ARM processors and will only be available to users who buy a specific tablet. You won't be able to buy the software in stores, or online.

Office 365 versions

  • Office 365 Home Premium - This version has two pricing schemes: USD$9.99 a month or USD$99.99 a year. Users who chose this option will be able to install it on five different computers, and will be able to use: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access and Publisher. You will also get 20GB free storage with SkyDrive and 60 Skype minutes a month. Office on Demand - a 'streaming' version of Office that you can access over the Internet is also included.
  • Office 365 University - This version is the same as Home Premium but is for university students and staff. The subscription costs USD$79.99 for four years, and can be installed on two different machines. If you are doing a part-time course, you should also be eligible for this.
Office 2013 standalone versions
  • Office Home & Student 2013 - This is the more traditional version of Office which costs USD$139.99 and can be installed on one computer. Users who purchase this version will get Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote, but won't have the cloud based Office 365 extras.
  • Office Home & Business 2013 - At USD$219.99, this version comes with the same software as Office Home & Student, and also includes Outlook. It can be installed on one computer. This is the likely version small businesses will purchase if they don't want to pay for a subscription.
  • Office Professional 2013 - Like other versions of Office 2013, this is a single install and costs USD$399.99. Primarily aimed at businesses, this version comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access and Publisher.
It should be noted that the standalone versions of Office have a perpetual license which means that you can use them for as long as you like.

Is this Office 365 for business? The new versions of Office, including Office 365 Home Premium are technically for home use. While this new version contains the name 'Office 365' it is actually different from the Office 365 used in businesses. If you currently use the business offering in your company (email servers, instant messaging, SharePoint, etc), there are new versions coming February 27. If you don't use Office 365 in your business, and are just looking for a new version of Office, Home Premium could be a good option.

Looking to upgrade to a new version of Office, or would like to learn more about how they can help your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
February 12th, 2013

GoogleApps_Feb12_BOne of the most popular features of the office suite is the ability to print documents. This is an essential requirement for all businesses that many take for granted. When you switch from a physical system to one hosted in the cloud, it can be a little challenging to set up your documents to fit your printing needs.

If you use Google Apps to create your documents you can easily optimize them to meet your printing needs. Here's how:

Before printing You can do a number of things, before you hit the print button, to ensure your document will meet your needs. The following formatting options can all be selected from Page Setup which is accessed by clicking File followed by Page Setup from the drop-down menu.

  • Set your margins - By default, the page margins are 1-inch for Top, Bottom, Left and Right. If you want to fit more text on the page, decrease the margins. Be sure that you don't go below 0, as anything outside 0 will not be printed. If you want to save paper, or won't be printing documents, reducing the margins is a good idea.
  • Select your page size - You can adjust the page size to meet your requirements. If your company uses A4 paper, you can select relevant page size by pressing the up/down arrows under Paper Size.
  • Select your document's orientation - There are two orientations you can apply to your documents: Landscape and Portrait. Portrait is the default orientation with the doc being longer than it is wide, while Landscape is wider than it is tall. If you are creating pamphlets or documents you plan to fold, landscape is the better choice, while documents like contracts are better suited to portrait.
If you plan to keep the same format for all documents, you can press Set as default and all future documents will follow this same formatting.

Printing When you go to print a document you can do so by pressing File followed by Print. This will open Google's print panel. You can select the destination printer if there is more than one on your network under the Destination field. Under Pages you can select to either print the whole document or pick the pages you would like to print.

You can also set the Margins and review how the document will look printed on the page. Finally, if you want more options, select Print using system dialog... to open the printing program your printer uses. You should be able to set different page sizes, change print quality, choose black and white, etc.

If you would like to learn more about using Google Apps in your office, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
February 5th, 2013

Before the increasingly heavy adoption of cloud based office apps like Google Drive, many businesses had issues with the different versions of Microsoft Office. Users of older Office versions had trouble reading documents created on newer versions. When Google Docs, later renamed Drive, was introduced users could export documents in older Office formats. That's recently changed however.

When using Microsoft Office you often run across two file types. There are  files created using Office 1997-2003 (.doc, .xls, .ppt), and files created using newer versions of Office (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx). Many companies are still using the older versions of Office and until January 31 Drive users could view these files.

As of February 1 Google will stop supporting the exporting of Google Docs as older Office file types. This means that if a Drive user wants to download a document as a file that Office users can read, they can no longer download as a file with a .doc extension i.e., File.doc.

This change only affects exporting of documents from Drive. If you want to import older file types, you should still be able to do so. Just be warned that the formatting may be off, so you will likely have to reformat documents, and rebuild tables/charts/graphs.

Businesses who use newer versions of Microsoft Office (Office 2007 and beyond) are in the clear as Google Drive now can read, edit and export .docx, .xlsx and .pptx files. If you are a Drive user who frequently works with other parties using older versions of Office, you may run into a slight bit of trouble. Don't worry however, there is an option for you.

One workaround you could employ is to ask users of the older versions of Office to install a compatibility plug-in from Microsoft's download page, which allows users of Office 2003, Office XP or Office 2000 to open, edit and save files as the newer file type. Most users should already have this, as it is highly likely that they work with others who use newer versions. This should pretty much eliminate the issue, as files from you can still be opened. You don't need to worry about asking users to change the Office file type, as Drive can still read the older versions.

If you would like to learn more about Google Drive and other Google Apps in the office, please get in touch with us, we are happy to sit down and go over the options with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
January 29th, 2013

It's highly likely that the most popular software program is Microsoft Office. With numerous variations to the Office platform, including Office 365 - the largely cloud based version of Office - it's easy to see why. A common complaint of Office users is that it can be tough to share documents and collaborate with other employees. Microsoft has a solution: SharePoint.

SharePoint is a great way for companies to enhance Microsoft Office 365's capabilities. It has many benefits that small to medium business owners can take advantage of. Here's five of the best.

1. Office Web Apps SharePoint can be linked with Office Web Apps (the browser based version of Office), which will give your employees access to their documents anywhere they have access to a Web browser with an Internet connection.

2. Easier sharing of documents When working with different Office programs, some files can become so large that they can't be shared over email, or take too long to upload and send. SharePoint provides users with a central location they can save their documents to. This makes it easier for parties to access and share information. Tools like PowerPivot, for example, make it possible to share massive spreadsheets.

3. A collaborative environment When you have multiple employees working on the same document, keeping updated can be tough as each user will likely have different versions saved on their computer. This makes updating a hassle. It's even harder when users are located in different locations and rely on email or teleconferencing to work together.

With SharePoint's central file system, users view the same document. If changes are made by one person they will immediately show on the document. This coherence promotes and makes collaboration more effective, while also making it easier for managers to collate, view and make changes to ensure all users are on the same page - quite literally!

4. Simplified way to find documents SharePoint supports many different file types beyond the ones used by Office. For example, there are media plugins that allow videos stored in the library to be streamed from anywhere in SharePoint. This central library, if used by all employees to store necessary files, is easily searchable and employees will be better able to quickly find the information they need. No more having to ask Jim from HR about where to find tax forms, just search on SharePoint.

SharePoint's server based software also makes it easier for businesses to combine different systems into one central system where information is accessible.

5. It's manageable SharePoint also provides tools that make it easier for content managers, team leads, etc. to coordinate documents and user activity. This program has been designed with administration, deployment and use in mind, giving companies a convenient way to stay on top of all the information they generate. If you have employees leave the company, the information and documents they worked on are already on SharePoint, so you don't have to worry about not being able to find files on hard drives.

SharePoint brings a lot of functionality to Office 365 users and can be the key to not only efficient document creation but management as well. If you would like to learn more about how you can extend your business capabilities with Office 365 and SharePoint, please call us.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
January 29th, 2013

Probably the most useful tool on the modern computer is the Web browser. It's our window to the online world and the main way many of us access modern communication. One of the popular browsers is Google's Chrome. Many users have what's called the Stable release (it's the version that Google has said is largely finished). When Google wants to introduce new features, they release a new version of Chrome for Beta testing by users. In January, Google released the latest Beta version of Chrome, with some really interesting new features.

The latest Beta version of Chrome is Chrome 25, and it has some cool features that could bring about a change in the way we interact with our Web browser and ultimately surf the Internet.

Here's two that might entice you:

Web Speech API API stands for Application Program Interface and is a set of tools and rules developers can use to make programs. Many companies like Google write code around a central idea that then becomes something akin to software building blocks. Developers can take these blocks, combine them how they like, and create an application, program, etc. from this.

The recent Beta release has a Web Speech API,  that allows users to interact with the browser using their voices. Developers who download this version can take this code and start to write programs/features into existing programs that allow you to use your voice to interact with Chrome and therefore the Internet.

An example provided by Google shows an employee using their voice to compose an email. You can view the video here. As of now, this is not a useable feature of Chrome, but you can expect Google to fully integrate this into the browser in the near future. Imagine browsing a webpage and coming up with an idea, you will probably be able to simply hit a button, say your idea and Chrome will send you an email. All without leaving the current page.

Developers have now got their hands on this, so you can expect some pretty cool voice related features in the coming months/year. What's really exciting about this API is that if quality programs and apps are developed, you could see a change to the way we interact with computers. Imagine a Star Trek style scenario where you simply tell your computer to search for the latest blog update from us, and then to share it on a social media service. This could be really amazing.

Disabled silent extensions Extensions are a popular feature of Chrome because they allow users to customize the browser to their needs. For Windows users, developers of these extensions had the ability to silently install these when their program was installed. As with most things on the Internet, this was taken advantage of by many third-party developers who wrote programs that installed extensions without the user knowing, or providing the user with specific knowledge of what the extension did.

This obviously poses a bit of a potential security risk. With the new Beta version of Chrome silent extensions have been disabled. When an application wants to install an extension to Chrome, users will now get a prompt and be able to either allow or deny it. For users who already have these installed these will also be disabled, and they will also be shown a one-time prompt which allows them to either allow/deny these extensions access.

Should we update? While these new features may sound like something you would like to use, Chrome 25 is a Beta product. This means there will be bugs, and a potentially heightened security risk. If your company relies on browsers that are solid, don't crash (often) and mostly free of bugs, you are better off waiting until these features are released for the normal version of Chrome. Knowing Google, these will be made available in the coming months.

If you do download the new Beta version, you likely won't notice much of a change in day-to-day use, as most of the API features are mainly for developers at this point. When the developers do release products, they will likely only work for Chrome 25, so you will be able to use them when they are released.

Most users however, should stay with the versions of Chrome they have installed. If you would like to learn more about Chrome and any other Google product please let us know, we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
January 23rd, 2013

Google is one of those tech companies that always seems to be in the news. For the last quarter of 2012 the news was almost all about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigating Google for suspected antitrust activities. The case looked at many issues, the largest being whether Google tampered with search results so that their services featured higher than competitors. In early January, the FTC came back with their verdict which has left numerous managers wondering if their company will be affected.

Much to the chagrin of Microsoft and Yahoo, the FTC voted to not take action against Google when it came to the issue of search result manipulation. This doesn't mean Google is off the hook though, as FTC Chairman, Jon Leibowitz, noted that there was some evidence that suggested that Google did in fact use its search engine to push competitors out of the game. Action wasn't taken on this evidence because the primary purpose of the search algorithms Google uses to rank search results were written to make the user experience better, not to snuff out competition.

With the FTC's ruling came news that Google had reached a settlement. The search engine giant agreed to eliminate restrictions to the AdWords platform - their online advertising feature - and to stop using competitor content in specialized searches without approval.

What does this mean for my business? Before the settlement, Google didn't exactly make it easy for online marketers to manage multiple online advertising campaigns from one central program. Essentially, if you wanted to get the most out of AdWords, you had to use the platform's tools. This is an extra step many would rather do without. These restrictions will now be removed, meaning you now have the ability to run advertising on multiple channels through one central program. You should see software begin to emerge in the next quarter to half year that makes it easier to manage these efforts.

The use of competitor content in specialized searches comes from Google pulling information, such as review scores, to improve Google Local and Shopping. What this will do is make similar platforms like Yelp more viable places to market your business. For example, if you own a restaurant your customers will be using various websites to review your business. Before the settlement, these showed up on your Google Local page (you and your customers could view them all from one platform). Now, they will have to go to other platforms to find the same content.

These two changes are, for the most part, low impact, and you shouldn't see much of a change to your overall online presence, or business for that matter. Bigger businesses may see a slight drop or increase in their pagerank, but not enough to register as a massive problem/gain. This means you can continue using Google's excellent services and not have to worry for the time being. If you would like to learn more about using Google for your business, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud
January 15th, 2013

Microsoft Office 365 - Microsoft's largely cloud based version of Office - is a popular Office product for many reasons. One advantage is the sheer number of features across the suite which allow you to do almost anything. There are some lesser-known features which are just as useful too, one of which integrates your mobile phone into an Outlook notification center.

Did you know that Outlook for Office 365 can send you text message alerts? To achieve this you need to first establish a rule for Outlook Web Access/App (OWA) - Office 365's webmail (browser) version of Outlook.

There are two classes of notification you can set up: Notifications for calendars, or notifications for email. When you create a rule, you will receive a text message whenever the rule's parameters are met.

Here's how you can set this feature up:

  1. Open Outlook Web Access in your browser. The standard address is usually: https://mail.yourcompanydomain.com/owa. It's important to note that you need to go to Outlook Web Access.
  2. Log in using your Office 365 username and password.
  3. Select Options - located in the top-right of the window - followed by See All Options.
  4. Click Phone from the list on the left side of the window and then Text Messaging.
  5. Pressing Turn on Notifications, selecting your Locale: and finally your Mobile Operator.
  6. Press Next and enter your phone number with the area code, and without the country code.
  7. Click Next again and check your phone. You should get a pass code in a text message that you will need to enter. After you receive this, press Finish.
Setting up rules After you have set up OWA to send you text messages, you can look into the two different types of alerts. As mentioned above, the first are calendar alerts. Pressing Set up Calendar notifications will allow you to establish rules related to your calendar. For example, you can create a rule where you will receive a text message when you have a meeting scheduled with a specific client or employee.

If you would like to receive text message alerts for your email, you can click on Set up email notifications using an Inbox rule. You have many different rules you can set up. For example: You can make a rule to receive a text whenever you get an email that contains the words: Update.

To get the most out of these features we suggest you play around with them and come up with something that works for you. Don't go overboard though, as you probably don't want to be receiving text messages every few minutes. Also, it's important to be aware of how your mobile carrier charges for texts. If you get charged for incoming texts, this feature could cause your mobile bills to skyrocket. Interested in learning more about what Office 365 can bring to your business? Give us a shout, we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Cloud