Blog

August 3rd, 2015

WindowsPhone_Aug3_AAfter introducing the Windows Insider Program last year, allowing Microsoft users to sign up for an early build of Windows OS previously only accessible to developers, the tech giant has now introduced a preview to Windows 10 with a new Windows Insider OS, the build 10149. To that end, let’s take a look at some of the new features in build 10149 to see if it’s worth installing.

Microsoft Edge

The first thing you’ll notice in this build is a brand new browser, Microsoft Edge. Microsoft Edge is set to replace Internet Explorer as the default web browser on Windows 10 PCs, smartphones and tablets. It is integrated with Cortana and OneDrive, and also includes annotation tools, reading mode, and the option to browse websites in either mobile or desktop view. Do note that Microsoft Edge has a new app ID, meaning favorites, cookies, history and reading-list items that you saved in the Project Spartan app will be lost after upgrading.

General UX improvements

Among the many refinements in this build is the clear and crisp Start screen. Visuals and icons such as volume controls are updated and are more responsive to use, and the navigation bar can now be hidden. Microsoft has also fixed issues like text notifications not appearing for incoming messages, as well as apps that couldn’t be installed or updated.

Cortana refinements

The build 10149 sees Cortana’s Notebook in its final stage, with combined Profile and Settings experience. You can now send an email by saying everything at once - such as who you want to email (you can give the names of multiple recipients), the subject of the email, and what you want your message to say. And with an Internet connection, you can also make corrections with your voice - though this only works for US English right now.

Flash to flashlight

One of the most popular requests of Microsoft from its users was to add a Flashlight “quick action” to allow you to turn your phone’s camera flash into a flashlight, and that’s exactly what they’ve added. To enable this feature, simply open Action Center and expand Quick Actions.

Improved Photos app

The update to the Photos app includes new capabilities such as support for animated GIFs (which works with phones with at least 16GB of RAM). Links to your saved photos, screenshots, and camera roll are also available on the Albums page.

Overall, the build 10149 looks to be an important turning point for Windows 10 Mobile. It is faster and more stable, and comes with plenty of improvements that enhance practicality for everyday use. To try it out, make sure you’re part of the Windows Insider Program by signing up here. Looking to learn more about the benefits of Windows Phone? Contact us today; we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 30th, 2015

164_Prod_ AYou may have heard of Managed Services, but are clueless as to how they can help your business. You may have heard of how they can boost productivity and increase profits, but are unsure of exactly how they do that. For those who need a better understanding of just how Managed Services can benefit a business, today we’re going to demystify it all. Here is the explanation you’ve been waiting for.

Managed Services essentially amounts to preventative IT maintenance. What this means for your business is that little IT problems are nipped in the bud as soon as they bubble up, and before they have a chance to compound into much bigger, more costly ones. But before we delve deeper into how this increases your business’s productivity levels, it makes sense to look at the history of this service and the role of “preventative maintenance” in our culture.

Why preventative maintenance matters

Managed Services have been around for decades. But despite this, many businesses have been slow to catch on. And really, is it all that surprising? Preventative maintenance is not exactly a priority in mass culture. Whether you hire a mechanic to replace a catalytic converter, a plumber to repair a leaky pipe or doctor to correct your coronary heart disease, many of these oftentimes preventable problems have been culturally accepted as commonplace. Yet people are so used to the mindset of thinking “everything is okay until it’s not”, which is really where the true problem lies.

Additionally, when preventable problems are ignored long enough to the point they explode into emergency repairs, your wallet almost always suffers. This is just as true for a network crash to your business’s IT infrastructure as it is for a trip to the emergency room for a neglected health problem.

Because Managed Services prevent catastrophic IT repairs that surprise you out of nowhere, your bottom line will enjoy long-term savings. Along with this, you’ll also get a significant bump in your productivity levels.

How does Managed Services boost productivity?

To answer this question, it makes sense to look at a fundamental principle of productivity - focus. Imagine if you’re trying to complete a new marketing strategy for the next quarter. You’re doing some research, compiling a list upcoming networking events and trade shows to attend, when suddenly you’re disrupted by an urgent phone call. After you’re off the phone, you return to your research, and then your secretary bursts in with an handful of vendor invoices you need to sign off on. As these disruptions continue to pile up, what happens if your IT breaks down and you’re unable to use your computer? Basically, you don’t get anything done during the day. You become stuck.

When it comes to IT, Managed Services take preventative measures to ensure your IT is always running at its optimal level, so that you don’t suffer technology breakdowns or distractions that blow your focus - preventing you and your staff from getting any work done. Smooth running IT won’t resolve all your productivity problems, such as your staff focusing more on Facebook or their phone rather than their work, but it will resolve all of those that relate directly to technology. No longer will your business be held down by daily computer disruptions and associated repairs, and instead you and your staff can move forward and focus on growing your business. That is the beauty of Managed Services. More productivity, focus and growth for your entire organization.

Have more questions about Managed Services? Give us a call today. We’re happy to provide you the information you need.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
July 28th, 2015

BusinessValue_July28_ATechnology has allowed businesses to get more work done with less time and expense. When properly implemented, it serves as a great tool that allows your employees to work remotely, collaborate more efficiently, and manage their time more effectively. If you want to thrive in today’s competitive marketplace, you need to make technology work for you. Here are some things you can do to make your employees more productive.

Change office communication

In order to increase efficiency, set up instant messaging software such as Skype on your employees’ workstations. This allows them to send instant messages to correspondents instead of having to get up from their desks to see whether the person is available. Of course, if you need to discuss big projects or issues, face-to-face communication is likely the best choice. But you can simply send a quick message for more trivial conversations, saving precious minutes and allowing you to get more work done.

Install video conferencing

Traveling to offsite meetings and training sessions takes time and, all too often, time spent on the road is time lost. Rather than commuting for hours outside your office, opt for a networked phone solution that offers video calls and conferencing. This way you can hold a video conference to discuss business matters from the comfort and convenience of your office. You can also take things up a notch and equip the conference room with tools to pull up documents and have them displayed on a big screen, so that everyone in the meeting can follow the conversation with ease.

Upgrade workstations

Outdated technologies and workstations limit your business’s progress, and are a hindrance to developing clued-up, efficient employees. Aging phone systems and slow networks can frustrate your team and bring productivity to a standstill. So it’s important to take the time to assess your current workstations, applications, hardware, and tools. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a set of entirely new workstations. But you should replace obsolete equipment with more up-to-date machines. In addition, make sure all software and applications are up-to-date to ensure maximum efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Implement ERP software

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is business process management software that allows organizations to automate processes and centralize data in order for employees to collaborate more efficiently. ERP software provides employees with up-to-date business information that they can easily access and make use of. What’s more, ERP also eliminates redundant data entry and reduces the number of spreadsheets that are used to record critical business data, by storing information in a centralized database.

To get the maximum return on your technology investment, it’s also important to partner with a knowledgeable and reliable service provider. Get in touch with our tech experts today to find out how we can implement technology to help your employees become more efficient and productive.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 27th, 2015

AndroidPhone_Jul27_AAt this year’s Google I/O, its annual software developer conference, the tech giant announced the Developer Preview of the next version of its Android operating system. Unofficially called the Android M, the latest OS is packed with many new features worth getting excited about. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the features you can expect to see in your next Android phone’s OS.

Custom Chrome Tabs

If you’re annoyed by having to switch to the Chrome browser while you’re in a particular app, you’ll be glad that those days are over. Android M delivers a better web experience with Chrome Custom Tabs that allow you to include Chrome web view within an app making it easy to multitask. The Chrome browser will run atop your app in case you click on any link within the app, and features automatic sign-in, saved passwords and autofill.

Android Pay

Android Pay is Google’s new mobile payments system designed to make the checkout process easier and faster. Set to be available at 700,000 stores across the United States, Android Pay will work at any payment terminal equipped with NFC. Using it is simple; just unlock your phone and place it in front of an NFC-compatible POS terminal.

Fingerprint Support

Google aims to standardize support for fingerprint scanners on all phones running on Android M. This new function will allow fingerprint scanners to be used to unlock phones as well as for making purchases using Android Pay.

Google Now on Tap

With Android M, Google Now will become smarter than ever before. You’ll be able to get contextual information on anything you have running on your phone’s screen. For instance, if you’re watching a video on YouTube, holding down the home button will provide you with more information about someone in that video.

Doze Mode

This feature uses your device’s motion sensors, be it your phone or tablet, to detect when a device has no activity for a period of time, and to then automatically shut down certain processes in order to help save battery life. While in the Doze state, the system can still be activated by alarms and high-priority notifications. According to Google, Doze helped increase the standby time on the Nexus 9 by almost double when compared to the Android 5.0 Lollipop.

App Permissions

Currently, you have to accept all permissions when you install an app, which could lead to a security breach. With Android M, you can decide which permissions you want to allow or revoke, based on when those particular functions are used. For example, you can give WhatsApp access to your camera but not your microphone.

App Links

With Android M, it will be easier than ever to link from one app to another without having to land on a web page in-between. How? A special verification method ensures that app-specific links go to the right place; for instance, clicking a Facebook link in an email will take you directly to the Facebook app instead of a redirected Facebook web page that you’ll likely have to sign in to.

Direct Share

This new feature lets you share content with your most frequent contacts or apps with a single click. Android M will learn which app you share content with the most and place it at the top of a list, as well as letting you also share content with the people you contact more often. Everything will be placed directly in the share sheet for your convenience.

Simplified Volume Control

This new simplified volume control will let you independently change ringtones, media or alarm volume directly from the volume rocker instead of having to go into different settings.

Auto App Backups

Accidentally deleted an app? Not to worry; auto app backups allow you to download it again and set it up like it was before. For now, Google is limiting the backup size to 25MB per app, though this space is not counted towards the free 15GB storage space offered in Google Drive.

Android M is expected to be released later this year but you can download the Developer Preview here now if you have a Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 or Nexus Player. Interested in learning more about how an Android Phone could benefit you? Just give us a call; we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 24th, 2015

164_iPhone_AIf you’ve owned an iPhone for more than a few months, maybe even weeks, you’ve likely been caught in a situation where you need to charge your battery fast but have only a limited amount of time to access a power supply. While the obvious solution is to simply plug it into the nearest outlet and hope it powers up quickly, there’s actually a few simple steps you can take to speed up the rate at which your battery charges. Here’s what you can do.

Put your iPhone in Airplane mode

The key ingredient to supercharging your iPhone in the shortest amount of time is to switch it to Airplane mode. By doing this, you essentially shut your phone off from the outside world so it’s unable to receive calls, texts, push notifications or other information. Additionally, your iPhone will be unable to search for a wireless network or better signal while in this mode. And because it’s not wasting power with any of these processes, that electricity is instead directed to your iPhone’s battery which in turn allows it to charge faster.

Take off your iPhone case

Funny as it may sound, your iPhone case may actually be slowing down the speed of your battery charge. Apple’s consumer website notes that their products don’t do well in the heat. And when it comes to iPhone, certain cases can create excess heat - which can have an effect on your battery capacity. What does this mean for you? If you have a case on your iPhone, take it off when you’re charging it.

Use an iPad adaptor

An iPad adaptor, which is about twice the size of the small adaptor that’s included with your iPhone, reportedly charges an iPhone 40% faster than its native counterpart. Therefore, if you have an iPad charger, use it.

Turn off your display, and don’t use your iPhone

As already mentioned with Airplane mode, the more your iPhone is in use the less power it will have leftover to store in your battery. While Airplane mode prevents outside forces from sucking up power, you too can also not use your phone during this time to maximize the rate at which the battery charges. To do this, make sure you turn off your display, and then simply set your iPhone aside and leave it alone.

Want more tips to get the most out of your iPhone? Curious to learn about the latest iPhone news and updates? Get in touch now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
July 22nd, 2015

164_Sec_AOver the decades of the internet’s existence, cyber threats have evolved at a rapid pace. When once there were only viruses and malware to watch out for, now you have to protect your business from worms, trojans, ransomware and dozens of other online threats. But what’s the difference between all of them? Let's take a look. Here are four of today’s most common cyber threats and the tips you need to protect your business from them.

Malware

Malware is the short version of the word malicious software. And this is a general term that encompasses many types of online threats including spyware, viruses, worms, trojans, adware, ransomware and more. Though you likely already know this, the purpose of malware is to specifically infect and harm your computer and potentially steal your information.

But how do the different types of malware differ from one another? How can you protect your business from them? Let’s take a look at four of the most common forms of malware below.

Virus - like a virus that can infect a person, a computer virus is a contagious piece of code that infects software and then spreads from file to file on a system. When infected software or files are shared between computers, the virus then spreads to the new host.

The best way to protect yourself from viruses is with a reliable antivirus program that is kept updated. Additionally, you should be wary of any executable files you receive because viruses often come packaged in this form. For example, if you’re sent a video file, be aware that if the name includes an “exe” extension like .mov.exe, you’re almost certainly dealing with a virus.

Spyware - just like a spy, a hacker uses spyware to track your internet activities and steal your information without you being aware of it. What kind of information is likely to be stolen by Spyware? Credit card numbers and passwords are two common targets.

And if stealing your information isn’t bad enough, Spyware is also known to cause PC slowdown, especially when there is more than one program running on your system - which is usually the case with a system that’s infected.

A common mistake many people make is they assume their antivirus software automatically protects them from Spyware. This is not always true as some antivirus isn’t designed to catch spyware. If you’re unsure if your antivirus prevents Spyware, get verification from your vendor. And for those that are already suffering from Spyware infestation, two programs that work wonders to clean it out are Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware.

Worms - similar to viruses, worms also replicate themselves and spread when they infect a computer. The difference, however, between a worm and a virus is that a worm doesn’t require the help of a human or host program to spread. Instead, they self-replicate and spread across networks without the guidance of a hacker or a file/program to latch onto.

In addition to a reliable antivirus software, to prevent worms from infecting your system you should ensure your firewall is activated and working properly.

Trojan - like the trojan horse from ancient greek mythology, this type of malware is disguised as a safe program designed to fool users, so that they unwittingly install it on their own system, and later are sabotaged by it. Generally, the hacker uses a trojan to steal both financial and personal information. It can do this by creating a “backdoor” to your computer that allows the hacker to remotely control it.

Similar to the other malware mentioned above, antivirus software is a dependable way to protect yourself against trojans. For further safety, it’s wise to not open up suspicious attachments, and also ensure that your staff members aren't downloading any programs or applications illegally at the office - as this is a favorite place hackers like to hide trojans.

Curious to learn about other common malware that can cause trouble for business owners? Want to upgrade your existing network security system? Give us a call today, we’re sure we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 17th, 2015

iPad_Jul17_AFor iPad fans, the most anticipated event of the year is when Apple holds their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Apple announced at WWDC this year in June the release of their new products and platforms, including the big update of iOS 9. There’s a lot to look forward to in the upcoming update, including design and interface changes, and exciting new features. Here’s the lowdown on the tech giant’s new release.

Design changes

There’s a minor change in the typography, where Apple has replaced the ‘Helvetica Neue’ system font with a font called ‘San Francisco’. Apple also deploys its typography in a clearer way, with more space around the lettering. Although these are subtle changes, the new font should be easier to read as well as remaining easy on the eye.

Interface changes

Following complaints from users, Apple has made a small modification to its ambiguous Shift key system. The former version is hard to use, since only a change in the Shift key’s color indicated the letter’s case change - when it’s on, it looks off and when it’s off, it looks on. When you press the new Shift key, however, all the letters on the screen will change to uppercase. This will put an end to the frustration at having to delete letters because you mistakenly type an uppercase letter instead of a lowercase one, and vice versa.

The new features

Apple has revealed a number of new features in the WWDC, and has released a public beta of iOS 9 for developers to test drive its capabilities. Here are some of the new features that Apple users can benefit from.
  • Split View - This long-awaited feature is exclusively available on iPads. iOS 9 finally allows two applications to coexist on one display, making multitasking possible. You can activate Split View simply by swiping inwards from the right hand side, and you’ll be offered a range of apps that can run in the activated sidebar. You can have your email stay on the side while you browse for information in Safari, or catch up on the latest news. The possibilities are endless!
  • Picture in Picture - While using a live video chat or watching a video, you can press the Home button to activate this feature and scale down your video screen to a corner of your display. You can now chat with your friends or watch your favorite shows while you reply to emails. What’s more, you can move the video screen to wherever you prefer with a swipe, adjust the size by pinching, and close the screen by tapping the close button.
  • On-screen Trackpad - The default keyboard that pops up when you type on-screen is now equipped with an extra function. Now you can hold two fingers down on the keyboard to turn it into a trackpad, which allows you to easily navigate through the text without having to tap the exact spot on the screen. This makes document navigation much faster, especially when writing or replying to emails.
  • News app - This fresh addition will draw news stories from various sources that you can choose, from Daily Mail to Bloomberg Business, CNN, The New York Times, and more. The News app is intelligent; it is able to learn about your interests based on what you are reading, and will show you articles from sources you didn’t select if they match your interests. So basically, the more you read, the more personalized your news becomes.

When will it be available?

For Apple fans, and especially iPad users, the new features alone in iOS 9 are worth waiting for. The first public beta testing version of iOS 9 is available now, and Apple will most likely release the final version of the software in September 2015.

With the new iOS 9 release, iPad business users can be more productive than ever. Want to learn how to best implement the iPad in your business? Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
July 15th, 2015

164_Prod_AIt’s easy for anyone to speculate about what the top productivity killers are for today’s workforce. What may come to mind first are distractions such as email, social media, or the personal problems of employees. But last month in a new survey of 2,175 hiring and human resources managers, CareerBuilder revealed what some of the real issues are. The results are a mix of obvious distractions and surprising revelations.

Here are the top 10 productivity busters according to CareerBuilder’s June 2015 survey.

  1. 52% - Cellphones & texting
  2. 44% - Internet
  3. 37% - Gossip
  4. 36% - Social media
  5. 31% - Email
  6. 27% - Coworkers chatting
  7. 26% - Meetings
  8. 27% - Snack and/or smoke breaks
  9. 17% - Loud coworkers
  10. 10% - Sitting in a cubicle

Why are these findings a big deal?

According to the managers who took the survey, the consequences of these distractions can be pretty severe. A few examples they gave were lower quality of work, dissatisfied employees who have to pick up the slack of lower performers, missed deadlines, and even loss of revenue.

So how do you prevent these productivity killers from disrupting your business?

The chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder mentioned that one of the most effective ways to increase productivity is to simply take a break, which may come as quite a surprise since “Snack and/or smoke breaks” is listed as number 8 for productivity killers.

However, it should be noted that not all breaks are created equal. Listening to loud music or getting caught up in gossip on social media may not actually give employees the sense of rejuvenation they need when they return to work. They key is for staff members to take a break that will re-energize and give them a fresh focus. Some suggestions are to simply take a walk or perform some form of light exercise or stretching.

On a more humorous note, the survey also revealed some of the more unusual non-work activities employees partook in while on the clock. Employers reportedly found their staff doing everything from taking a nap on the CEO’s couch, searching for a mail order bride, and even taking a sponge bath in the restroom sink.

Want more tips on how to boost employee productivity. Curious to see how technology can help? Send us a message today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
July 10th, 2015

Facebook_Jul10_AWhen it comes to social media marketing, most businesses would think of Facebook before all other platforms. Over the past few years, the number of Facebook users has been growing at an astounding pace, and many businesses are advertising on Facebook, allowing them to better target their audiences. Yet plenty of Facebook advertisers have been burned by low engagement, high costs, and negative feedback from followers. With that in mind, you need to watch out for these Facebook marketing mistakes.

Mistake #1: Treating Facebook like a one-way communication tool

The content you post on Facebook should encourage followers to express their thoughts. Think of it this way - Facebook is a social media network, which means that people use it to connect with friends and communicate with family members. They don’t want to be showered with advertising messages! Instead of speaking at customers, create dialogues that promote engagement and feedback. Try asking probing questions, sharing fun quizzes, or posting images and videos that get your followers talking. Remember that engaging content has a better chance of going viral and attracting more followers to your profile.

Mistake #2: Ignoring follower metrics

There’s no telling whether your content is going to appeal to your followers or not. All audiences are different, and the only way to find out what’s going to work for them is to head over to Facebook Insights in your admin panel. Take a look at the metrics there to determine if your posts are resonating with your readers. Some of the best insights include your top posts, where you can find the types of posts that rank high on the list (they can either be text, links, images, or videos). You can analyze the statistics and pick up things from there.

Mistake #3: Targeting ads poorly

It is true that Facebook has more than one billion active users. But guess what? Most of these people don’t want to see your ads! So don’t waste time and money to show them ads when you can use Facebook’s powerful set of audience targeting tools. Facebook allows you to choose potential ad viewers based on their location, age, education, interest, and more. You can easily weed out people who are unlikely to click on your ads. You can create multiple ad groups to be displayed at different times to various audience groups. This is a method to test and see which ones work best.

Mistake #4: Abandoning your audience

This is probably one of the worst things you can do. When it comes to Facebook marketing, consistency matters. People won’t be very impressed if they visit your page and see that your last post was a few months ago. When you post at regular times, on the other hand, your followers will get into the habit of expecting posts from you - they’ll even look forward to them if the content is really good! If you find it hard to stick to a schedule, try using tools that can automate your posting for you like Hootsuite.

If you’re not using Facebook to expand your online business presence, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. Want more tips on how to expand your business through Facebook? Get in touch today and our experts will be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 8th, 2015

164_Sec_ALog on to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or even simply take a walk in a city park, and one thing is clear: the selfie revolution is upon us. And now it looks as though this contemporary pastime is becoming more than just a social media trend. Major industry players are now using facial recognition technology to replace passwords as the new method of online identification. MasterCard is the most recent corporate bigwig to join the party.

At the beginning of this autumn, MasterCard will acquire the help of 500 customers to test out a new application that enables people to verify their identity and authenticate online transactions with a facial scan. What does this mean? Instead of using a traditional password at the online checkout, MasterCard wants to give you the option to snap a selfie instead. According to the credit card giant, they’ve partnered with every smartphone company in the business to make this mode of identity verification possible.

Why is this happening?

A quote from Ajay Bhalla, security expert at MasterCard, suggests this is an attempt by the credit card giant to appeal to a younger crowd of digital natives. "The new generation, which is into selfies...I think they'll find it cool. They'll embrace it," Bhalla recently said.

That said, the “cool” appeal to youth is likely not the only reason for this change. The firm is likely attempting to make online purchases both more secure and more convenient.

How it works

To use this technology, users will have to download a dedicated app, which they can then use to take a photo of themselves at checkout. But how does MasterCard prevent a thief from using a photo of you to fake your verification? Simple - the app requires you to blink to prove that you’re a living, breathing human being.

However, it’s been noted by critics that, in today’s technological world, even a blink can be animated on a static photo. This leaves those of us with security concerns wondering whether MasterCard will make this app more secure before it’s released.

Note as well, though, that MasterCard is not getting rid of traditional passwords completely. Users will still have the option of the more conventional method of verification, as well as the choice of fingerprint scanning to check your identity.

Is this where the future of online security is headed?

With the release due later this year of a similar Windows 10 security application to identify users using biometrics, it appears that this is where the future of online security is headed. And with ever more applications and online services requiring a password, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average web user to create one that is both unique and secure for each individual service. So whether it’s facial recognition, a fingerprint scan or some other technology that’s yet to be perfected, it seems as though some sort of more advanced security solution is inevitable.

Want more of the latest security news? Looking to implement new security to protect your IT infrastructure from cyber threats? Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security