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February 27th, 2015

Happy  Mature Man Using CellphoneWindows Phones may not have the biggest market share in the smartphone industry, but they have a number of useful features for business people. Whether you're seeking the ability to do business presentations, increase productivity or manage devices remotely, Windows Phones have the capability for this and more. So if you’re using a Windows Phone, you can improve business performance by taking advantage of these features.

Data Sense

Nowadays, telecommunication service providers restrict your Internet usage to a few gigabytes of data on a monthly basis. When you’ve exceeded this data limit, your Internet speed goes down drastically, and you might even have to pay extra to maintain speed. Data Sense allows business users to stay productive while on the go by monitoring their data usage. You can set a monthly data limit and Data Sense will help you control background applications and save certain downloads for when you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network. This way, you can save your precious connection speed for when you need it most.

‘Running late’ notification

At important business meetings, you don’t want to be the one seen as unprofessional for turning up late, especially if you haven’t been able to let people know what's happening. But even if you strive to be on time for every appointment, sometimes things are beyond your control. The ‘running late’ notification in the Windows Phone calendar app lets you send a quick message to your colleagues, to alert them to the fact that you’ll be late for a meeting. Simply do this by setting a default message, then choose a meeting in your calendar. The notification feature will pull contact information from your address book and send an email to attendees of your choice. Just make sure you have a good excuse when you do turn up!

Office Remote

This powerful application turns your Windows Phone device into a remote control for Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents. Business presentations are easier with Office Remote, which you can use to jump between PowerPoint slides and control a laser pointer to draw your audience’s attention. You can also use it to store your speech notes, and you can glance down to monitor your presentation time on the screen. Office Remote is simple to implement, requiring only Bluetooth and a small piece of add-in software that allows you to connect your Windows Phone and PC.

TeamViewer

What happens when you’re out of the office, and a client calls to request information stored on your computer? Well, the good news is you don’t need to rush to your desk. With TeamViewer, you can access your PC’s desktop right from your Windows Pphone device, as long as the computer is turned on and running the TeamViewer program. This can save you a lot of time when you’re outside and need to check a file or run a program on the go.

Mobile device management

If your business deals with confidential client information, then deploying Windows Phones to your employees can be risky. Microsoft has come up with Windows Intune, an application to centrally manage and secure your employee’s Windows Phone devices. Windows Intune allows the administrator to manage updates, control which applications can be installed, and protect the devices from viruses and malware.

If you want to integrate Windows Phones into your business, contact us today to get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 23rd, 2015

SocialMedia_Feb23_AHave you heard that social media can be used to skyrocket your business to unprecedented heights of success? You probably have; people like to talk. But unfortunately, not a lot of this talk is backed up with practical tips on how to go about it. So if you’re tired of waffling in the social media stratosphere, read on for some smart, focused advice that will breathe new life into your social media efforts.

Undoubtedly, the most important strategy to use in your social media plan is...to have a strategy to begin with. Know how much time you can dedicate to social media, block out the hours to focus on it and don’t waste that time checking out friends’ vacation photos or celebrity twitter feeds.

If you don’t have a strategy, you’re going to waste time posting irrelevant updates that won’t engage with your audience. To help you plan an effective social media strategy, here are three crucial tips to get you off on the right foot.

Initially focus on the big three

Most social media experts agree that the three platforms that generate the most business leads, engagement and brand exposure are Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. When you’re getting started, your efforts should be primarily focused on these three. After you’ve gained followings here, then you can start forging paths into YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest amongst others.

Post at prime exposure times

Studies have shown that around lunch and dinner time are ideal posting times (since everyone is uploading photos of their meals). As for which days, many marketers agree your posts are most likely to get noticed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So these are the times to deliver those high-impact messages you’ve been randomly shooting out.

Find the value in your post

On social media, you should always be focused on selling your services, right? Wrong. Only 15% of your posts should concern news about your business and its products. The other 85% should focus on providing fun, valuable and timely content.

When you create a new post, you should ask yourself what’s in it for the customer. What do they get from reading it? Seriously, why is someone going to share your post or talk about your business unless it adds value to their life? Think about the posts you share personally. Do they provide value to your friends and family? We’re guessing the answer is yes.

For more tips on how social media can create buzz for your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 18th, 2015

Security_Feb18_AWhether we use them for business or pleasure, we all want the confidence that the online services we use to store files, post life updates or check our email are given adequate security protection to safeguard our information. But since high-profile breaches such as the celebrity photo leaks of 2014, the security of Apple platforms has been in the limelight. So it is a welcome move that Apple has extended its two-step authentication feature to the popular FaceTime and iMessage applications.

After the fall-out from the celebrity photo leaks, Apple extended the two-step authentication process (also known as two-step verification) to iCloud, the online storage platform at the center of the scandal. The feature was initially introduced only to the user IDs for access to Apple accounts; the motivation for the launch of that extra security measure was the hacking of a journalist’s data back in 2013. But what is two-step authentication and how does it work to protect your data?

The premise behind two-step authentication, which experts recommend all businesses implement as part of their security strategy, is actually pretty simple. Usernames and passwords are all too easily stolen by malicious parties, whether by phishing emails or a more sophisticated hacking attack. So, rather than typing just your username and password to access your account, the password is teamed up with a four-digit verification code which is newly and uniquely generated each time you attempt to access your account.

The verification code is delivered by text message (meaning that to use the two-step verification feature, you’ll need to have a cellphone to receive the SMS on). As a result, even if a hacker manages to get hold of your password, unless they also have your phone by their side then they won’t be getting into your account. This authentication method is already used by organizations around the world including banks, mobile service providers and other companies who recognize the added layer of security that it brings. And now you can give yourself the same level of protection to ensure that only you can FaceTime your family and send iMessages to your friends.

Fear not, there’s a backup plan to ensure that you can still access your accounts if you happen to forget your password or if something happens to your phone so you can longer receive authentication codes. Apple also provides you with a 14-character recovery key that will get you back in if all else fails. To enable two-step authentication for your FaceTime and iMessage applications, login to your Apple ID account, select Password and Security and then click Get Started under Two-Step Verification.

To find out more about using two-step verification and other security measures to protect your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
February 13th, 2015

BC_164_AIt’s Monday morning, you’re the first one into the office as usual. You take your keys out and unlock the door only to find your office in complete disarray. Documents are thrown everywhere, chairs are knocked over and the worst part - all of your computers are gone. To your right, you notice a smashed window and a trail of keyboards and cables. Then it hits you. You’ve been robbed. Situations like this can happen to businesses of all sizes. The question is, are you prepared? Here’s how you can create a business continuity plan that keeps you open and making profits when the unexpected strikes.

The difference between disaster recovery and business continuity

While it’s easy to overlook the differences between a disaster recovery and business continuity plan, there are actually some key variations you should be aware of.

Disaster recovery is the restoration of business operations and IT infrastructure after a disaster has already occurred. Business continuity, on the other hand, is focused on maintaining business operations and profits throughout a disaster. While disaster recovery is mainly focused on the slice of time immediately following a disaster (how you replace your equipment and restore IT infrastructure asap), business continuity looks at the bigger picture - the continuity of the company as a whole. It ensures you can run your business and maintain profits during the process of recovering from a catastrophe. It generally includes a disaster recovery plan as part of it.

Creating your business continuity plan

The first step in creating your plan is to identify which of your IT assets are vulnerable to disaster. To do this, you need to ask yourself some important questions, starting with what might happen if you were to lose the functionality of a specific asset for a day, a week or even longer. Answering this question will help you identify your most critical IT assets; the ones that are integral to your business operations.

Here are some other important questions to ask when drafting your business continuity plan:

  • What is the purpose of my business continuity plan?
  • What disasters can affect my IT infrastructure?
  •  What are my key business areas?
  • Which different business areas, assets and departments depend on each other?
  • What is the longest amount of time I can go without functionality of IT assets?
Once you can answer these, it’s time to start planning. Write down your thoughts, and then contact an IT provider like us for assistance. We’ve helped countless businesses just like yours prepare themselves in order to remain operational throughout catastrophes. We can also help you identify potential problems that you may not have thought of.

Need help creating your business continuity plan? Contact us today to see how we can help you stay running and turning profits when disaster hits.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 12th, 2015

SocialMedia_Feb12_AWhen it comes to social media, most of us have privacy concerns at the forefront of our minds. Who can see what we post? Who owns the photos we upload? It even comes down to wondering what happens to our social media identities when we die. It is part of the reason for the emergence and subsequent popularity of apps like Snapchat, which allow you to send a photo to a friend and at the same time specify when it will self-destruct. Now, a new entrant to the app marketplace is taking things a step further - it wants to protect your privacy by filling Facebook with pictures of cats.

But there is more to it than that: the team behind social messaging app Wickr aren’t looking to post images of our furry friends just for the fun of it. In fact, the feline factor is just one feature of the app, known as the Wickr Timed Feed. Wickr actually promises to offer greater security and privacy controls than similar apps like Snapchat - but whereas Snapchat simply lets you set your images to self-destruct once they have been seen by the recipient, Wickr takes an alternative approach.

As well as allowing only pre-approved friends to see your photos within your Wickr feed, the app lets you share each photo through Facebook and control which of your friends can see it. So where do the cats come in? Well, when you first share to Facebook, no-one will see your photo - instead, they’ll see a decoy image of a funky-looking cat. However, Facebook users then have the option to click through to Wickr and, if they are one of up to 151 people you have pre-approved to have access to your real photo, it will be unlocked and the cat will disappear - at least, until the photo automatically self-destructs 24 hours later, as do images on your feed in the Wickr app itself.

If it all sounds a bit like security overkill, then that’s probably because it is. Sharing Wickr photos to Facebook also sounds a little cumbersome, and even more so the process for unlocking a cat-guarded photo, and this could have an adverse effect on widespread take-up of the feature. But it does address genuine concerns surrounding the far and often uncontrollable reach of images and information we post online. What’s more, it appears to be a way to prevent Facebook from claiming ownership of the photos we upload - as much a concern for professional photographers and companies using Facebook for marketing purposes, as for individuals using the platform to keep in touch with friends. Wickr claims that, because the cat photo is all that will be publicly visible unless the bona fide picture is unlocked, that will be the only thing to which the social network could claim to have ownership or reproduction rights.

Whether it catches on or not, the emergence of apps like Wickr is telling of the growing pressure for the usability of social media networks to be balanced with protection for their users’ privacy. It acts as a reminder to businesses to be aware both of potential issues with usage rights for corporate images shared online, and of the need to keep consumer concerns about data misuse in mind when designing social media marketing strategies.

To learn more about how to effectively put social media to work for your business, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 10th, 2015

Virtualization_A_164You’ve likely heard of virtualization. It’s the ability to move both hardware and software out of your office to a vendor offsite - therefore freeing up office space and cutting costs. This likely sounds like a dream come true for small businesses, whose overheads need to be kept to a minimum. But with the ability to virtualize almost everything from networks to server hardware and operating systems, you may feel overwhelmed and have no idea where to start. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some tips that’ll take you by the hand into the world of virtualization.

The key to successful virtualization is to not virtualize too much too quickly. Choose one or two items you’d like to test out, and then give it a go. By only focusing on virtualizing a few assets, you’ll be able to accurately measure how much your business is benefiting from virtualization.

Once you’ve decided to make the jump into virtualization, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Don’t virtualize for the sake of virtualizing

If you have 20 PCs running on an older operating system, but they are still producing results you’re happy with, it may be best to save your money and hold off on virtualization until you really have a need for it.

On the other hand, if you’ve been thinking about buying a new server, it may be smarter to consider getting a virtual server instead since the need is already there.

Understand the risks and challenges of virtualizing individual assets

Server, desktop and application vendors have unique and evolving licensing rules concerning virtualization. With vendor licensing audits becoming more and more frequent, you may be in for a major financial penalty if you’re not following the rules.

It’s been reported that one company saved $4 million in hardware expenses through virtualization. However, they lost $52 million for not remaining in compliance with the software licenses.

Try virtualizing more than one asset

If you start out only virtualizing your server and it doesn’t show immediate benefits, that doesn’t mean you should just give up on virtualization completely. The fact of the matter is that virtualization does save businesses millions of dollars every year in IT expenses, giving them a productivity boost in the process.

You can virtualize many physical assets of your business besides servers. This includes applications, laptop hardware, operating systems and more. All the virtualization process does is deliver these assets to you via the internet instead of having the physical product in your office. So if the server virtualization doesn’t work for you, maybe virtualizing another asset will.

Or it could simply be that your IT service provider is the real problem. Maybe you haven’t found the right virtualization vendor that works best for your business. The only way you’ll ever find out is if you don’t give up the first time you encounter a failure.

For more information about virtualization and how to effectively integrate it into your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 29th, 2015

Security_Jan28_AAs far as viruses, worms and other security infections go, there are probably none quite as frustrating as Poweliks. While most threats can wreak havoc on your computer system and cause untold damage to your business as day-to-day processes are interrupted by unstable IT, information leaks and data losses, the majority at least leave a trace of their work that enables them to be detected and ultimately removed. Not so with Poweliks - this nightmare of a malware completely hides away in your system and is pretty much invisible. Here’s what you need to be aware of and how you can protect yourself against Poweliks.

What is Poweliks?

Security firm Symantec describes Poweliks as a trojan horse that performs malicious activities on the compromised computer. But it’s no ordinary trojan - unlike the majority, which infect your computer with malicious files, Poweliks is a silent and invisible threat that hides away in the memory registry of your system. It’s not entirely new for a virus to seek to cover its tracks by making itself "file-less" but, in contrast with Poweliks, most are wiped when you restart your computer and its memory is cleared. Worse still, Poweliks hijacks the legitimate processes and applications running on your network, inserting its code into them where it can largely evade detection.

First discovered back in August 2014, Poweliks has therefore created something of a headache for firms behind conventional security solutions like anti-virus software. Symantec and others have admittedly managed a number of updates to their protection in response to the threat posed by Poweliks. But although very minor records of the presence of the trojan are left behind by way, for instance, of registry logs, the signs of its destructive presence are much lower key than the computer world is used to, meaning Poweliks is unlikely to show up on most system scans.

Poweliks has links to Kazakhstan, the home of two servers the malware connects to once it is up and running from within your computer. The servers in Kazakhstan then send commands to the bug to tell it what to do next. In theory, this then makes way for the tool to be used to download other undesirable programs that could infect your system without your knowledge. It could equally be used to steal and disseminate data from your network.

How can I best protect myself?

As well as the anti-virus updates that have gradually been released - but which are still likely to have only a limited impact on threats of this type compared with those of the past - a number of Poweliks removal guides are now available online. Nevertheless, prevention as ever, remains better than cure. One method reported to have been employed in the distribution of the Poweliks infection is embedding it in a Microsoft Word document, which is then sent as an attachment to spam emails, and which the attackers hope your curiosity will lead you to open. Among the senders that these spam messages have masqueraded as being from are the United States Postal Service and Canada Post. Of course the best advice remains to be suspicious of any and every email attachment you open, particularly if you weren’t expecting mail or it's from someone you don’t know.

Should I be concerned?

In fact, revisiting your everyday security precautions is probably pretty good advice all round, since experts predict that this type of threat is likely to become ever more common as attackers seek to exploit the techniques of Poweliks in order for their infiltration to remain unnoticed for as long as possible. Sure enough, a number of copycat threats have already been detected by security specialists as of the start of 2015.

General awareness around web sites you choose to visit is also recommendable in particular, since others have also reported the bug making its way onto their systems thanks to so-called ‘drive-by download attacks’ - whereby simply visiting a malicious web site is enough to trigger the infection, and actively downloading a file isn’t even necessary. As a result, organizations may wish to consider more comprehensive filtering of internet access, or at the very least reactive blocking of known malicious sites, in order to prevent employees from inadvertently infecting a company network.

To find out more about IT security solutions and protecting your technology from attack, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
January 27th, 2015

iPhone_Jan27_A

Is finding time in your busy schedule to visit a doctor getting more and more difficult? Do you wish it could be easier and quicker to stay on top of your and your child’s healthcare? If so, the Apple iPhone’s new health apps and accessories may just be the answer you’re looking for. From diagnosing ear infections to virtual doctor appointments, the iPhone is revolutionizing the way patients will be treated in the future. Read on for 3 new ways the iPhone may forever change the way you receive health care.

At-home ear infection diagnosis

If you have a young child, you'll already know that ear infections are a common nuisance. By the age of 3, roughly 80% of all children have suffered from this affliction. And this problem alone costs the medical industry roughly 3.5 billion dollars annually.

In today’s world, full of long work hours and overloaded schedules, it can be difficult to find the time to visit a doctor. And if you live in a remote area, the challenge is even greater. But when little Johnny’s ear infection means you're waking up at night to deal with a screaming toddler, you know that something needs to be done. The iPhone’s new Oto Home device could be your solution.

For $79 you can bring the technology of an otoscope (the device your doctor uses to look into your ear at a checkup) directly into your home. Not the whole thing of course. Instead, the Oto Home is just the small black cone-like part at the tip of the otoscope that the doctor inserts into your ear. Now you can attach this tool to your iPhone’s camera, and use it to take a video of the inside of your child’s ear, which can then be sent to your doctor via email. For a $49 fee, your doctor can diagnose and provide a prescription almost instantly.

At this time, the device is only available in California, but will likely be approved for use in more states soon.

Medical history for quicker doctor appointments

Whether you need to keep a close eye on a sick relative’s temperature or want to have a record of your own medical history, iPhone’s new Swaive app can help. Like the Oto Home device, the Swaive also involves your ear. But instead of diagnosing ear infections, the Swaive acts as an in-ear thermometer.

In combination with Apple’s Health app, the Swaive can keep track of your temperature over weeks, months or years. With this app, you can also record any kind of recurring physical symptom or medication you’re taking. This information can then be sent to your physician.

Even better, the next time you pop in for an in-person doctor visit, this info can speed up the process as it acts as a recent medical history.

Virtual doctor appointments from anywhere

But if you’d rather not visit the doctor at all, now you can make a virtual appointment through an app called Amwell. This allows you to Facetime with your physician at anytime, with no appointment necessary.

The way Amwell works is simple. A patient can open the app and scroll through the physicians who are part of the Amwell network. Just like other online health databases, you’ll be able to see the doctor’s years in practice, education and patient rating. Once you’ve made your choice, you can sign up for a $49 virtual visit where a doctor can provide instant feedback, diagnosis and treatment. Best of all, Amwell visits are covered by some insurance providers. So once you get your printable receipt, you can still get reimbursed.

Looking for more tips on how your iPhone can make life easier? Contact us today and learn how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
January 22nd, 2015

socialmedia_Jan20_ASocial media has been increasing in popularity amongst business owners more than ever before. From LinkedIn to Twitter and Facebook, social media has enhanced ways in which businesses communicate with one another, leading to quicker connections and even stronger relationships. Is it time you took a look at different ways social media can help drive your business development?

In most cases, a business development manager already has an idea of the kind of company with which to partner. Their next step is to contact that company via a phone call or email. However, this can be an unreliable way to reach out, especially when your potential partner has never heard of you. Social media speeds up this process by identifying the best person to contact, as well as determining if you have any mutual connections.

Simply put, social media lets you understand the background of different companies and gives you an idea of the different players involved, before you even engage in a dialogue. With this in mind, let’s take a look at four ways you can utilize information available on social media to enhance your business development success.

  1. Social media is an extra pair of eyes Social media allows you to see first-hand what potential partners, competitors, and customers are doing, which is a major asset when it comes to your business development and performance. This can also reveal business-relationship possibilities or even warn where it is best to stay away. It’s crucial to position yourself and your company as industry experts by sharing mind-blowing content as well as highlighting recent successes.
  2. There’s no universal message in social media The way people behave and connect across different social media platforms varies, therefore it is important to adjust accordingly. For instance, you might use Twitter to promote ongoing marketing campaigns, share content, and direct customer service requests. You may use Facebook for larger marketing initiatives, such as showcasing a company’s culture and resources. It’s important to remember that there’s no universal rule to utilizing social media and that it is beneficial to be flexible. Think about what your individual goals are and work out which social media platform is the best avenue to explore.
  3. Leverage employee relationships If you’re looking to connect with an individual in a specific company, make it a habit to check and see if anyone in your company has a pre-existing relationship with that person. Social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn make it fairly easy to spot mutual connections, so it is a good idea to get into the habit of checking. Whether you ask your colleague to help make an introduction or to arrange a meeting, a mutual connection gives you the competitive edge in effective business development.
  4. Use social media as a touchpoint Social media is not only essential to business development, but also complements other more traditional practices, such as when you’ve sent an email or voicemail to a business prospect that has gone unanswered. It’s understandable that people get so busy they can delay, forget or pass over an inquiry, but instead of passively waiting for a reply, why not make it standard practice to follow up separately via LinkedIn or other social media platforms? This way you can build additional opportunities with potential partners, increase the likelihood of a response, and even forge a future business relationship.
The fundamentals of business development are strong relationships with a partner or companies with a good reputation, who will have a positive impact on your business, such as marketing an initiative collaboratively. Social media can get this whole process started, so the next time you’re looking to contact a business prospect or potential partner, start by visiting their social media channels to get the heads up to help you in your quest.

Looking to learn more about the benefits of social media in business? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 20th, 2015

AppleMacOS_Jan16_AThe New Year is a great time to brush up on skills that can drive greater productivity and efficiency, or just save you time in completing routine IT tasks. Whether you are a long-term Mac user or have recently converted to the Apple way, it can be easy to fall into a rut of thinking you know your way around your system, when in fact there is always something new to learn. So by learning these tips, your Mac will be taking you to increased work effectiveness in no time!

Make searching easier

Need to hunt down a file? You can make the process easier by not searching for just one word, or even a series of words in sequence, but by instead searching for a logical combination of terms as a Boolean expression. Boolean expressions combine search terms with conditions like ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ to specify whether you want results that contain all, or only some, of your search terms. These expressions are supported by native Mac apps including Spotlight, Mail and Calendar, and by plenty of third-party apps too.

For instance, if you wanted to track down client invoices that have not yet been marked as paid, you might begin by searching for files containing the word ‘invoice’. This term alone would bring up plenty of results you had no interest in, but by using a Boolean expression which takes the terms ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ to create a logical statement, you could run a search for ‘invoice NOT paid’.

Protect your passwords

We’ve all heard the recommendation that our passwords should be long, difficult to guess and full of unnatural-feeling characters like mixed-case letters, numbers and punctuation - easier said than put into practice. Add to that the fact that, if we want to be truly secure, we shouldn’t use the same password for more than one account, and suddenly creating hack-proof passwords becomes a real challenge. Even once you’ve invented them, how on earth are you supposed to remember all of these different passwords?

Well, there’s an app for that. Or several, to be precise - the Apple-specific iCloud Keychain syncs your passwords across your devices and then fills them in when necessary, remembering what you can’t. On other operating systems, 1Password and LastPass are good alternatives.

Simplify your coding

Does your day-to-day work involve writing of some kind? You can make your job simpler by forgetting often difficult to read HTML code in favour of much friendlier, more attractive and easier to work with Markdown code. Based on plain text, Markdown is compatible with almost all word processors, meaning you don’t need to worry about using a specific text editor for fear of risking the corruption of your code. Simplified codes, such as Marketing to create a hyperlink, are transformed into formatted documents by a converter that takes the effort out of writing.

Numerous versions of Markdown have expanded upon the original idea to add additional features and bring further design richness to your finished document, but all of them offer the basics you’ll need to produce in your writing. Examples of apps that act as dedicated Markdown editors are Marked 2, iA Writer and Editorial.

If you’re looking to learn more about productivity tips or other Mac features, get in touch today and see what we can do to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS