Blog

July 12th, 2016

2016July12_Hardware_CRemember in movies, how the villain’s lair is home to an abundance of newfangled tech, gadgets and monitors that stretch as far as the eye could see? Some may attribute it to superb set design but the message behind this was that the road to success (or blowing up your enemies) calls for not one but two monitors. If total world domination doesn’t sound enticing to you, here are six more reasons why you should work with dual monitors:

Enhanced productivity

Published studies conclude that by working with dual monitors, overall productivity increases by 20-50%. Computer programmers, for example, can use one screen for source coding and the other for programming; by using dual monitors, they no longer need to toggle back and forth between tabs. This reduces error and frees up time to complete more projects.

Better multitasking

Efficient multitasking requires adequate screen space to keep multiple applications simultaneously visible -- a view that single monitors alone simply cannot accommodate. Workers who require computers, like customer service reps and web designers, would no longer waste time switching between tabs and resizing windows to fit the limited space; they could now focus on completing their tasks accurately and efficiently. .

Easier cutting and pasting

This reason resonates with jobs that call for creating newsletters or PowerPoint presentations. Dual monitors would eliminate the need for alternating between tabs and scrolling up and down as you work. Also, the enhanced visibility reduces chances of making mistakes and thus losing more time fixing them.

Image and video editing

With dual monitors, the days of stacking numerous editing tools on top of the image or video you're working on are long gone. Instead of your screen looking like a game of Mahjong, you can put the editing tools on one screen and leave the image on the other. With better visibility, you’re less likely to commit errors and more likely to be finessed, and you’re not sacrificing valuable working time in the process.

Product comparison

You want to buy a camera, and you have two models in mind. It’s time to make a decision, so you have to compare their specs. If you had only one monitor, you’d need to go back and forth from one tab to another. But if you had two monitors, you could view the models side-by-side to help you clearly see their differences and make an informed purchase.

New gaming experience

Working hard means you get to play hard -- what’s better than a gaming session? The answer is a relaxing gaming session on dual monitors! With more screen space, you can see enemies from afar, anticipate their actions, plan your retaliation, and attack!

Dual monitors benefits almost every industry because of the enhanced visibility, larger screen space, and how you can briefly nap behind them without getting caught Using dual monitors can enhance even your leisure time activities as well.

Broaden your horizons by getting in touch with us. We’ll answer any questions you have.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
July 11th, 2016

2016July11_SocialMedia_CWhen it comes to technology news, breakthroughs, innovations, and what-to-do’s, we’ve always got our eyes peeled for the latest and greatest. Paying close attention to what’s trending is critical not only to our success, but to that of our clients as well, which is why we’re taking a look at 5 popular SEO and Social Media tactics happening now.

Everyone knows about death and taxes, the two most famous certainties that we must endure. If there were a third, surely it would be that without robust up-to-date search engine optimization (SEO) and social media strategies, your business will fall behind.

And since there’s no time like the present, we’d like to put forth some of the things that your business should consider taking into account this year in order to increase awareness of your brand, drive more traffic to your websites, and ultimately boost conversion rates.

1. Conversational search

With the success of digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, and the relatively recent roll outs of Amazon Echo and Google Home - two virtual helpers for the home - voice recognition is becoming much more prominent. For businesses, this means adapting your site’s content so it’s detectable by spoken phrase searches in addition to simple short keyword searches.

2. Social publishing

There’s tons of content published on social media, but what’s changing is the convenience with which it can be consumed. Users are ever more at ease with the videos and full-length articles dropping into their feeds - and with not having to leave the comfort of their favorite social apps to see them. The new challenge for companies will therefore be to publish high-quality content through social channels first.

3. Real-time customer interaction

Having interesting videos on your social media channels is practically old hat. Nowadays, given our speedy and seemingly omnipresent internet connections and our on-demand expectations, the move is towards live, streaming, “in-the-moment” interplay with customers, which has been shown to capture users’ attention for longer periods of time than recorded video content.

4. Increasing emphasis on apps

Mobile users spend nearly 90% of their time in mobile apps and just 10% on mobile websites. It’s not surprising given their relative ease of use, and this disparity could become even greater as social media platforms continue favoring apps and search engines like Google continue developing a “web of apps” - something that just might mean the end of traditional websites in the mobile environment.

5. More rich answers

“Rich answers” are Google’s attempt to provide search results that are sufficient enough to eliminate the need to click through to a website for more information. Their prevalence is on the rise, which could significantly reduce the amount of visits to your site. But it does provide an opportunity to use “structured markup,” a protocol that allows search engines to display your site’s data in more creative ways.

As always, the fast-moving advance of ways to optimize your internet presence is keeping us on our toes, and these 5 trends will likely make a difference for you in 2016 and beyond.

So if you sense a need to enhance your company’s SEO and Social Media strategies - but you’re not entirely sure about what to do first or how to do it - remember what Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

We’ve got the knowledge, call us today and start collecting on those dividends right away.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
July 7th, 2016

2016July7_Web_CMost people will tell you that clouds can be only be found in the sky. But in the IT world, clouds are more grounded: the latest of which are a combination of private clouds and public clouds, appropriately dubbed “hybrid clouds.” This innovation allows SMBs to have the best of both cloud worlds while minimizing IT expenses, optimizing scalability, and improving security.

Hybrid clouds, as the name suggests, are a version of cloud computing that are made up of two different components. They are a combination of private clouds (where data and applications that require tighter controls are hosted either internally or privately in the cloud space); and public clouds (which are operated externally by third-party providers with the express purpose of reducing a company’s IT infrastructure).

A recent “State of the Cloud” report indicates that 71% of all cloud users are now implementing hybrid cloud solutions, mainly because the ways in which they benefit small- and medium-sized businesses are so numerous. Here we’ve highlighted what we consider to be the 4 most significant benefits of hybrid cloud solutions.

Cost efficiency

Does your industry go through seasonal workload increases? With a hybrid cloud solution, you’ll be able to easily handle spikes in demand by migrating data from maxed-out on-premise servers to scalable, pay-as-you-go “servers in the sky” whenever needed, without incurring any extra hardware and maintenance costs.

Adaptability

Having the ability to choose between on-site/privately-hosted cloud servers and ones on the public cloud gives you more than just cost flexibility. It also gives you the capacity to pair the right IT solution with the right job, like keeping smaller projects on your local or private cloud, while utilizing the more robust computing resources on offer from the public cloud for your bigger projects.

Scalability

What exactly does this common IT buzzword mean for your organization? In a nutshell, it means that the hybrid cloud allows you to “scale up” or “scale down” on an as-needed basis. So if there are last-minute demand increases that your hardware can’t support, or if you’re simply planning for future expansion, hybrid cloud solutions allow for on-demand increases or decreases in capacity.

Security

Last, but certainly not least, are the security advantages of a hybrid cloud solution. SMBs are able to host within the private cloud their more sensitive data such as an e-commerce website or HR platform, while using the public cloud space for less sensitive data where it’s more cost effective and there is less likely to be major problems should there ever be a security breach.

SMBs can set up their hybrid cloud model in a few different ways, depending on their precise needs and the types of providers available to them:

  1. By employing one specialized cloud provider who offers soup-to-nuts hybrid solutions
  2. By integrating the services of a private cloud provider with those of a public cloud provider themselves
  3. By hosting a private cloud themselves and then adopting a public cloud service which is incorporated into their infrastructure
So as more of our customers' IT infrastructure moves to the cloud, we’re adapting and developing innovative ways to maintain hybrid cloud environments. What this means for you is we’ve got the know-how to provide outright cloud solutions, or at the very least the expert consultation you need, to ensure that your day-to-day operations transition to a hybrid cloud solution without interruption and in a cost-effective manner. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits that the hybrid cloud can bring to your business.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Web & Cloud
July 5th, 2016

Security_2016_July_5_CWordPress is an amazing open source platform that is favored by individuals and business users worldwide due to its ease of use, simplicity and flexibility. However, given that it is the most widely used content management system, it is also the most vulnerable platform out there. Recently WordPress has released an update that addresses security issues for all previous versions. Check out exactly what the update entails.

What’s new in WordPress 4.5.3?

The latest WordPress version includes fixes for more than two dozen critical vulnerabilities, including:
  • Redirect bypass in the WordPress customizer API
  • Two separate cross-scripting problems via attachment names
  • Information disclosure bug in revision history
  • Denial-of-service vulnerability in the oEmbed protocol
  • Unauthorized category removal from a post
  • Password change by stolen cookies
  • Some less secure sanitize_file_name edge cases
All vulnerabilities were found by members of the WordPress community. In addition to the security issues listed above, WordPress 4.5.3 fixes 17 maintenance issues from its predecessors 4.5, 4.5.1 and 4.5.2 (See full list).

WordPress update process

Many sites have an automatic background update, meaning that website admins will receive an email, confirming the update. If your website doesn’t support this feature, you can trigger manual updates by logging in to your WordPress dashboard and click on the ‘Please update now’ link, which is clearly visible on the top of the page.

Before you perform the update, however, we highly advise you to make a backup of your website. This is so that you can quickly restore your site in the event that something goes wrong. Once you have your backup ready, you can go ahead and update your site with the push of a button. Alternatively you can download WordPress 4.5.3 here and install it via File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

It’s important to update to the newest versions of WordPress to ensure that you have access to all of its functionalities and to keep your data and website visitors safe from potential security threats. Google will also demote websites that are running old versions of WordPress in its search results pages - all the more reason why you should regularly check for WordPress updates. If you have any questions about WordPress security, feel free to get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
July 4th, 2016

Security_Aug31_CThe Internet is a powerful platform that brings people together on a global level while giving them access to a wealth of information anytime they please. With the good, comes the bad - some utilize their skills in committing cyber crimes from the comfort of their own homes. Case in point, the recent Cerber ransomware attacked that ravaged millions of Microsoft Office 365 users worldwide. Here’s what a security expert and Microsoft had to say about the matter:

Steven Toole, a researcher for the cloud-security firm Avanan, detailed that his company experienced the first attack at 6:44 a.m. on June 22nd. Another interesting fact is that at least 57 percent of all Microsoft Office 365 customers on Avanan’s platform received at least one phishing attempt that contained the infected attachment. While Avanan did extrapolate the number of Office 365 users involved, the exact number has yet to be revealed.

This is particularly interesting since according to Microsoft’s first quarter reports in 2016, there are over 18.2 million Office 365 subscribers worldwide. On top of the global scale in which the attacks took place, it took Microsoft over 24 hours for the attack to be detected and for any attempts to block the attachment to be made.

Microsoft’s side of the story shares many similarities with slight differences on the detection and actions made about the ransomware attack. In an email to SCMagazine.com, the spokesperson wrote:

"Office 365 malware protection identified the attack and was updated to block it within hours of its origination on June 22. Our investigations have found that this attack is not specific to Office 365 and only a small percentage of Office 365 customers were targeted, all of which have been protected."

The point is Office 365 was compromised, regardless of how quickly it was detected - many people were asked for a ransom and were told that their files have already been encrypted. Still wanting to come across as polite, the ransom came with an audio recording that detailed what the attack was and what measures must be taken in order to regain access to the files. The unknown attacker asked for a ransom of 1.4 bitcoins or an equivalent of $500 in exchange for the decryption key.

Toole noted that “This attack seems to be a variation of a virus originally detected on network mail servers back in early March of this year," He also added that "As it respawned into a second life, this time Cerber was widely distributed after its originator was apparently able to easily confirm that the virus was able to bypass the Office 365 built-in security tools through a private Office 365 mail account.”

This proves that cyber criminals go to great lengths to not only use their tools but to improve on them and eliminate flaws. So no matter how many firewalls, passwords or fire-breathing dragons you have to guard your servers and networks, without the right network security measures in place, chances are they’ll manage to find a way to overcome the hurdles and wreak whatever havoc they can.

Network security isn’t something to be taken lightly, if you are unsure about how safe or how capable your systems are in fending off cyber threats - get in touch with us. Our experienced and friendly staff will help you with any ransomware or security-related issue you have.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office
July 1st, 2016

2016July1_Windows_CIt started out being called ‘bloatware’ but as consumer’s patience wore thin it was eventually replaced with the title ‘crapware’. In short, it’s the software that manufacturers load onto new hardware before purchases in an attempt to drive customers to new products. And in most cases it’s totally superfluous and burdensome to your system. Since Microsoft is releasing a useful tool for gutting all of these annoying apps in one fell swoop, it’s time to take a closer look at just how it achieves that.

If this software isn’t trying to drive you back to the manufacturer's sales stream, it’s paid a hefty chunk of change to be included on off-the-shelf hardware. Regardless of which it is, it’s not there to help you -- it’s there solely to increase the manufacturer’s bottom line. So if you think bloatware just isn’t enough of a concern to waste time refreshing your Windows install, consider that PCs without it start up 104% faster, shutdown 35% faster and have approximately 30 more minutes of battery life.

Because this isn’t a new problem, we’ve seen similar removal tools in the past, but they didn’t offer the same level of usability. When using Windows 8’s ‘Refresh and Rest’ the bloatware either wasn’t removed, or if it was, Windows required the reentry of a license key and a lengthy install completely from scratch. ‘Refresh’ Windows swiftly replaces everything on your hard drive with a fresh version of the OS as if it came straight from Microsoft.

Although this tool is best suited for clearing unwanted programs off of your machine right after you’ve purchased it, there’s no reason that you can’t use it further down the road. You might be thinking, “No way, I’ve got way too much important information to sacrifice it all just for a clean install.” Well depending on the extent of your data, that isn’t a problem.

When you open the ‘Refresh Windows’ client there’s only one option you need to select before moving forward, ‘Keep personal files only’ or ‘(Keep) Nothing’. Selecting the former will keep everything stored in your ‘Music’, ‘Pictures’, ‘Videos’ and ‘Documents’ folders. Remember that documents (in these folders) created or edited using Microsoft Office will be kept but the Office suite itself will be removed. Make sure you still have the licenses and installation disks for every piece of software you plan to use after the refresh.

This new feature will accompany next month’s Windows update, but users who just can’t wait to squash annoying ‘crapware’ can find the tool here. Simply download, open, and choose if you want to keep any personal files -- one, two, done.

You may be able to adequately navigate your way around a Windows machine, but there are often shortcuts that insiders use to speed up otherwise mundane management tasks. For any Windows projects or problems you have, drop us a line, we’ll have them fixed faster than you can uninstall that CD-burner utility that you never asked for.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
June 30th, 2016

2016June30_BusinessIntelligence_CIt's astounding how celebrities manage to amass millions of followers and gain thousands of likes for posting a photo of their shadow. Companies of all sizes would go crazy for that kind of exposure, but rarely do their wishes get granted. But not all hope is lost, start small and take baby steps with the help of Instagram’s recently-announced tools that help make the process of establishing your company’s presence an easier one:

Business profile pages

Previously, it was hard for Instagram users to distinguish an account belonging to a business from one that is dedicated to cats, but with the Business Profile feature, that’s a problem of the past. By taking advantage of this, you are giving customers directions to your business with just one tap - and on top of that, you can also establish a contact call to action with choices that include: text message, phone call or email.

The posts themselves are identical to those from other accounts, but as previously mentioned, the major difference is the account’s profile page itself. Especially when customers are given directions and various channels for communication with just a single tap. This fills in the void many business owners experience: converting the interest sparked on Instagram and converting it into action.

For example, if you stumble upon something you like on the page of a clothing boutique, you’ll be able to initiate contact with a single tap to inquire or to make a purchase.

Insights

Inspired by Twitter and Facebook, Instagram will now offer analytical data that tracks how the content is performing. Business owners will get to see reach and impressions data along with demographics (ex. On location and age) for each post.

This data won’t be available on Instagram itself, to access it you’ll need a business Facebook page that is linked to the Instagram account. By analyzing user demographics and behavioral data, you’ll be able to create Instagram content geared towards users that are more likely to engage with it.

Promote, promote, promote

Both the Business Profile and Insight features are free, but companies with a generous advertising budget can utilize the Promote feature to enhance top-performing posts through paid advertisements. Instagram will also suggest which posts should be promoted, and you can use the data gathered from Insights to designate top-performing posts based on your target audience.

Plus with customizable targeting options, you are in control of how little or how much you want your content promoted. Promoted content also comes with a call-to-action embedded in the post, for example: triggering a phone call or redirecting traffic to your website.

Both Instagram and Snapchat are emerging as the most popular social media platforms to date, and before these features are released later this year, you should consider establishing an Instagram presence for your business as soon as possible. For any further questions, feel free to contact us. #wereheretohelp

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
June 29th, 2016

2016June29_Virtualization_CVirtualization allows you to eliminate dependency on physical hardware limitations and software requirements. Exactly how you achieve that comes in a number of different solutions with even more confusing lingo and acronyms, but before you can tackle any of that it’s a good idea to go over the different companies providing the services. Below is a list of 5 popular vendors offering reliable virtualization platforms.

VMware

Any conversation about virtualization for small and medium-sized businesses usually starts around VMware. Although it wasn’t necessarily the first, VMware was the company that really put office virtualization on everyone’s action item list. The company offers a number of different solutions for different sized businesses with a wide variety of needs. Its ease of use and robust security features have secured its reputation as one of the best options for virtualization at SMBs.

Citrix

An average user may not recognize the company name, but has a good shot at previous knowledge of their popular remote access tools, GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting. Citrix has specifically geared their virtualization software, XenApp, XenDesktop, and VDI-in-a-box toward SMBs and even claims that non-IT staff can easily manage and administer the services. They even provide a free trial to prove it.

Microsoft

Although it may be a little more difficult to manage without an in-house or outsourced IT staff, Microsoft’s Hyper-V option is hard to ignore considering its integration with the popular cloud platform Azure. Whether you’re a Microsoft loyalist or you just want to minimize the number of vendors in your network, Hyper-V offers everything you need from a virtualization service.

Oracle

This company just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Specializing in marketing software, they also offer database management, cloud storage and customer relationship management software. If you’re using any of their services already, there could be benefits to enlisting their virtualization services as well. Oracle does everything, server, desktop and app virtualization, and they believe that consolidation of all of these into one solution is what sets them apart.

Amazon

And since we’re on the topic of household names, let’s talk about Amazon’s EC2 platform, which hosts scalable virtual private servers. The ability to scale and configure capacity is definitely EC2’s biggest draw for SMBs, who are preparing for the possibility of rapid growth. Although almost any virtualization service is rooted in scalability, Amazon is leading the pack in how quickly and finely you can adjust your solution to your individual needs.

Virtualization is a really hard topic for most SMBs to tackle. This list only covers the most popular vendors, and there are plenty more out there. Choosing one based on its application possibilities and management requirements is not a subject for the lighthearted. Get in touch with us today so we can break down all of the technobabble into easy-to-understand advice and expertise.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 28th, 2016

2016June28_AndroidTablet_CIn today’s modern world, the reliance on only one powerful tech combo might not be enough to cut it. The Mac/iPhone combo has enjoyed its long reign but another descendant to the throne comes in the form of an Android phone and Google Chrome combo. Both deserve the crown but for what reasons exactly? Here is a quintet of uses every Android phone and Google Chrome union does for your computer:

Before getting started, you must make sure that Google Now is activated on your Android phone and the same account must be logged in for both the phone and for Chrome.

Send directions from Google Maps to your Android phone

You’re taking your time looking up directions for a restaurant on Google Maps, but your friends called to tell you everyone’s already there; fear not. You can send the location details directly to your phone. Start by typing in the destination on Google Maps and look for the Send to your phone option in the center left, click on that and click on your phone’s name. Et Voila! Co-ordinates should appear in your phone’s notifications.

Sync your computer’s Chrome tabs to your phone

This is especially useful when you are working on or researching something on your computer and need to continue on your phone after work or when heading outside. Tap on the Settings icon (3 vertically aligned dots) on the top of right of the Chrome App in your Android phone, go to Recent tabs, and you’ll see all the devices when you’re logged into Chrome.

Finding your phone

Simply typing “find my phone” in the Google search bar prompts Google to look for the last known location of your phone. On top of that, you can also ring your device in the hopes that someone will pick it up and tell you where you can come pick it up.

Use your phone to control your computer

Start off by installing the Chrome Remote Desktop app from the Google Play Store on your Android phone and the Chrome Remote Desktop app for Chrome on your computer. With this you can see and work on your Mac via Android phones as if you were sitting right in front of your desktop. This also works for Windows computers as well!

Set reminders for yourself with Google Search

If calendar entries aren’t doing the trick, this alternative is perfect for you. After activating Google Now, type in “remind me X to Y” in the Google search bar then click the blue “Remind on Google Now” nestled at the bottom of the reminders box. Google Now will then remind you of whatever you need reminding at that time - you can also set reminders to alert when you reach a certain location as well.

Now that you know that Android has more than just cute names for operating system updates, you should look into investing on a new device for yourself. Especially when there are so many things it’s capable of doing when paired with Google Chrome, expand your tech horizon and make the most of both Apple and Android. For any questions regarding the Android/Chrome combo, feel free to give us a call anytime!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic android
June 27th, 2016

2016June27_HealthcareArticles_BManaging and monitoring medical data is incredibly complex, especially for the layman who won’t be able to understand the terminology. With the iOS 10 update rapidly approaching, both consumers and healthcare industries will have something to be excited about - the Apple HealthKit. The built-in health app allows you to save and manage medical records with just a simple tap of a button. But as you’ll soon find out, it has even more practical applications. Here are the capabilities that we can expect with the new update.

Medical records stored on your phone

With HealthKit, patients will be able to request and store their health information in the HL7 format, which is the standardized format used between healthcare providers and patients. While storing your own medical records in your phone isn’t new, the app will allow you to directly save your physician-created electronic medical record (EMR) data into the app.

This means you will have an updated version of your EMR with you at all times, which can be handy, especially if you are changing hospitals or physicians. Patients can simply share their standardized HL7 formatted records with another healthcare provider and upload the necessary data digitally to their physician, so they’ll be up-to-date on your medical history or any health issues. This also eliminates the need for you to coordinate between hospitals on the migration of your medical records.

By having an automated log of accurate medical information, healthcare providers can track patterns in the patient’s medical history that will allow them to quickly diagnose existing health issues.

Interpret cryptic medical data

Unlike other apps in the market, this built-in app is designed as a medium through which all your relevant medical data can be synced. Since your medical records are given to you in a raw XML file, the content stored within the document can seem intimidating. However, with data stored in a standardized format, applications can simply tap into the data, share information between different apps and display them in a format that you can easily interpret. For example, a fitness app like Nike+ Running will be able to accurately calculate calories burned because it has up-to-date information about your weight, height, body mass index, as well as other statistics. These apps can also take your EMR and display them on a chart to show any significant developments in your health.

Wearables

With the Apple Watch built-in pedometer, health records can also be automatically and consistently updated. This means things like blood pressure and heart rate can be easily monitored and applied to your EMR, without having to go to the doctor’s office for a checkup. At the end of the day, the potential for this new technology is still unknown, but it seems to be heading towards a clear direction - making EMR management more convenient for patients.

Contact us today if you are interested in learning more about the latest developments with Apple and their healthcare app.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare