September 30th, 2016

2016september30_businessvalue_cIt’s been reported that Facebook is about to ship out its Oculus virtual reality headsets, and Google has its own version in the works. By taking all of this into consideration, it’s safe to say that the VR landscape is about to experience growth -- and small- and medium-sized businesses should take advantage of this three-dimensional shift. Besides gaining a competitive edge, here are some other reasons to compel you toward embracing virtual reality:

Create your own virtual product prototypes

With the help of virtual reality, you’ll no longer have to rely on manufacturing when you want to see what your product physically looks like and how it might work. These virtual products allow you to make any changes before going through with production. According to Abi Mandelbaum, CEO and co-founder of YouVisit, “Model creation in VR, for example, can save companies time and money, as these types of models or prototypes allow viewers to examine a product and make changes without the time or expense of building a physical model.”

Virtual designs for engineers

Especially beneficial for engineers, architects and other professionals that work with building or engineering large structures, virtual reality helps save both time and money. As an alternative to small models or 2D renderings, VR offers a more immersive experience that helps design and replicate structures.

Virtual tours

Let’s say that you’re a real estate agent showing houses to potential buyers. Your buyers might be in a different state or simply don’t want to spend time going from house-to-house. Virtual reality allows customers to see what the home looks likes in a three-dimensional setting without them having to actually be there.

Showing all the angles of a product

In order to entice buyers into making a purchase, they must first get an idea as to what it’s actually like, and they need to see as many angles as possible -- especially for products that customers don’t get to physically touch. With virtual reality, customers are given a better idea of what your product is like. Abi Mandelbaum says that “Virtual reality can allow current and potential customers to explore a product before they commit to making a purchase. Furthermore, VR completely immerses customers, helping place a product directly into their (virtual) hands or empowering viewers to see a product in action.”

Take customers on an adventure

If you are in any tourism or adventure-based business, you can use virtual reality to give customers a taste of what to expect from the attractions. Imagine that you have an amusement park and want to attract customers’ attention. You can opt to offer a short VR replication of one of your rides so people can see whether or not they’d like it. Or if you own a resort or campground, you’ll also be able to create reality versions of whatever activities you offer.

VR has the potential to take your small- and medium-sized business to the next level if done properly of course. If you have any questions about how you can mesh virtual reality with your company, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to assist with your queries.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic business
September 29th, 2016

2016september29_office_cOffice 365 is constantly evolving. What started as an online extension of Microsoft’s flagship productivity suite has evolved into one of the best pieces of cloud software currently on the market. Last month we saw the next stage in that evolution, and it came in the form of allowing guests to collaborate on your 365 projects. Interested? We thought you’d be, so let’s take a closer look.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Office
September 28th, 2016

2016september31_apple_cThose considering purchasing a new iPad may have been nudged a little closer to doing so by Apple’s most recent keynote. The new iPads now have more storage while retaining the price point of their smaller predecessors. If you’re looking for more information on all of the storage and price announcements for Apple’s flagship tablet, we’ve got all the details right here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Apple
September 27th, 2016

2016september27_androidtablet_cAlthough Apple gets all the attention, Android tablets have plenty of loyal fans to keep the gossip mill running. The most recent of these suggests that Google may be bringing back one of its most revered devices: the Nexus tablet. With a rumor that Google and Huawei will be collaborating to make this happen, we couldn’t be more excited. If you feel the same way, read on. People spend a lot of time looking for and comparing the best tablets on the market. Obviously, some prefer the iPad Pro 12.9 for its gigantic screen, but for those who just can't get enough of the customizations available for Android devices, a Google Nexus Android tablet is best.

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

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

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

Published with permission from Source.

Topic android
September 26th, 2016

2016september29_virtualization_cAs virtualization becomes a household name for small- and medium-sized business owners, more and more services are being introduced. Hardware virtualization, storage virtualization, and even network virtualization all aim to capitalize on the trend of creating virtual versions of physical technology. With VMware’s most recent announcement, we may soon be able to add virtualized endpoint security to the list. What exactly does it look like? Let’s find out.

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

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

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

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

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

Published with permission from Source.

September 23rd, 2016

2016september23_microsoftwindowsnewsandtips_cMicrosoft has equipped Windows 10 users with a comprehensive set of tools to get their action center settings under control -- even if most users don’t know it. Unfortunately, most desktops are coming with more software and features that result in more notifications, without ever providing users the opportunity to personalize their desktop and get the stream of information under control. If you’ve reached the point of oversaturation, we’ve got all the information you need to manage your action center right here.

Overarching action center settings

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

Settings for individual applications

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

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

Closing the blinds

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

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

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

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Windows
September 21st, 2016

2016september21_security_cEveryone, from doctors to lawyers, needs to continue learning to stay ahead of the times. Business owners might have it worst of all, oftentimes needing to stay on top of several industries to keep their company running. Keep reading for a refresher on all the latest trends and buzzwords used in the cybersecurity sector.


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


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

Intrusion Protection System

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

Social Engineering

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


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


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

Zero-day attacks

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


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

Redundant data

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

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

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Security
September 20th, 2016

2016september20_hardware_cUnlike getting a new pair of sweatpants, the process of buying new hardware isn’t as straightforward. Because there are so many choices out there, it’s hard to go with what your friend has to say or which ones are selling at 50% off. If you want hardware that doesn’t only fit but also compliments your computer, go through these five things every buyer should consider if new hardware is on the top of your shopping list.

Hard Disk Drive VS. Solid State Drive

Firstly, you have to know which type of data storage you plan to use: Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD).Capabilities of HDDs are on par with SSDs -- but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any pros and cons. An SSD is a type of drive that uses flash memory for storing data, as opposed to spinning metal disks found in the traditional HDD -- think of it like an extra large USB thumb drive.

On the upside, SSDs are faster at reading and writing data. They require less energy, are silent, and generally have longer lifespans. Downsides include small data capacities and a heftier price tag. It all boils down to what you're going to your needs. Go for HDDs if you have budget restrictions or are looking for a backup/external drive; go for SSDs if the drive will run frequently-accessed files and programs.

Physical size and interface

After deciding between an HDD or SSD, you now have to choose a form factor. Luckily there are only two choices: the 3.5-inch drive and the 2.5-inch drive. The right one will likely depend on your current setup. With traditional HDDS, data is stored on spinning metal disks, meaning that more disks will be needed to expand data capacity. Because of this, desktop HDDs tend to be 3.5 inches with a maximum capacity of 4 TB, whereas laptops are 2.5 inches with a maximum capacity of 2 TB. SSDs are made smaller since they don’t require any removable parts, meaning they’ll fit easily into the 2.5-inch form factor. Adapters are available if you need to use the SSD in a 3.5-inch connector.

Specifications and performance

Now that you know what kind of drive to buy, it’s time to narrow down the candidates and find the best one that suits your needs. Here are some factors you need to consider:
  • Storage capacity - HDDs come in various sizes, but due to physical limitations, they cap off at 4 TB. Whereas SSDs are much smaller and doesn’t exceed the 1 TB mark - some consumer-level SSDs rarely exceed 512GB.
  • Transfer speed - Performance of consumer-level HDDs are determined by multiple factors, and revolutions per minute (RPM) is an important one. Higher RPM means faster data transfer between drives.
  • Cache space - If a hard disk needs to transfer data from one section to another, a special area of embedded memory known as the cache is utilized. Larger cache enables data to be transferred faster (because more information can be stored at one time). Modern HDDs have cache sizes ranging from 8-12 MB.
  • Access times - HDDs have a couple of factors that impact their performance. One is the time it takes for the reader to start reading or writing data from the drive. For SSDs, you want to look for sequential read and write speeds (also known as sustained reading and writing speeds). Just as long as the speeds are within the SATA connector’s max speed, you'll be fine.
  • Failure rate - Though all things mechanical gradually wear and tear over time, not all HDDs are the same. Some models last six months where others make it past six years. You must do adequate research on a per-model basis before making a purchase.

External VS. Internal

The final step is to decide whether you want the hard drive to reside within of if it will get its own compartment outside. External drives are ideal for storage and backup purposes; they generally connect with a USB 2.0 that caps out at 480Mb/s -- newer models that support USB 3.0 boasts a max of 5.0Gb/s. Unless the model you get is USB 3.0 compatible, the speed will likely be insufficient when it comes to running an operating system.

Speed issues aside, they’re portable and can be shared with multiple computers. They can even be plugged into TVs and media centers for direct playback. If portability falls second to speed, or if your current system lacks a working data drive, internal is the best choice.

Now that you’re armed with the necessary information, buying your next hardware should be a pleasant experience, like a walk in the park. If you have further questions or would like to know more, feel free to contact us by phone or email; we’re more than happy to help.

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Hardware
September 16th, 2016

2016september16__browsers_cEverything is wirelessly connected nowadays. If you can purchase a refrigerator that sends you a message when your vegetables are going bad, why can’t you stream the audio and video of your phone or desktop to your TV? It turns out you can, and Google just made it a whole lot easier. Let’s take a closer look at how Google Chrome is working to connect all your audio/visual hardware together with Chromecast.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
September 15th, 2016

2016september15_socialmedia_cCatching up with your friends at your high school reunion is all well and fun before the conversation turns to work. It seems like all your friends have well-paying jobs, and you’re stuck with a demanding one that’s underpaid. What if there were a way you could land better jobs or further your career path? No sacrificial ceremonies needed. Instead, find out how LinkedIn’s Alumni Tool taps into your network and brings you one step closer to success.

Get started

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

The benefits of LinkedIn Alumni

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

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

Know how to contact the candidates

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

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

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

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

Published with permission from Source.

Topic Social Media