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June 20th, 2014

Office_June18_BThough primarily used as an email application, Microsoft Outlook can also be used to handle a wide range of extra business matters. One such functions is the address book, which enables you to create a database of contacts with details which are deemed to be significant to your business. It is also commonly used to organize client details and sync to other applications that are compatible with Outlook.

Since Outlook's Address Book is the go-to application for many distribution lists, email addresses, and other important contact details, knowing how to use it can be really useful. However, before you create a new address book, it is a good idea to keep in mind that Outlook Address Book is NOT your list of contacts but a collection of different folders containing different sets of contacts.

This does sometimes confuse, so to help you understand more easily, here are the types of address books you can create in your Outlook profile:

Global Address Book

This can only be used in conjunction with a Microsoft Exchange account. Global address lists are a collection of all the names connected to your account in Microsoft Exchange Server.

Outlook Address Book

This is used interchangeably with Contacts although they are different in context to each other. Your Outlook Address Book is a collection of your contacts with details added in the e-mail and fax number fields.

Internet Directory Services (LDAP)

The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, or LDAP, is used to find email addresses that are not in your local directory. This can only be accessed with the use of a steady Internet connection.

Third-party address books

You can set up address books from third party service providers through their given setup program.

To create an address book for a specified list of clients you can:

  1. From the Info tab, go to File then click Account Settings.
  2. Two options will be listed in the dropdown menu – Account Settings and Social Network Accounts. Choose Account Settings and click Address Books from the pop-up window.
  3. Tick on New then Add Account.
  4. In the Add Account dialog box, more options will appear – Internet Directory Service (LDAP) and Additional Address Books. Choose Additional Address Books and click Next to continue.
  5. You will be directed to the next window with options Outlook Address Book or Mobile Address Book. Mobile address books will create a list of names with the mobile number field filled in. Choose between the two and hit Next.
  6. Your chosen type will be automatically saved to your Outlook profile and to be able to use this, you will have to restart your program first.
Outlook Address Book not only helps sync your business database to several applications but also makes the client database organization an easy task. Understanding how to work this to your advantage can really help streamline and organize your contacts.

We can help you apply better technology tools to your business, so get in touch!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 19th, 2014

androidtablet_June18_BThe growing number of work apps has led to an increased popularity of Android tablets. While most businesses rely on these apps to help boost productivity, it’s likely that little or no attention was paid to reading through the required permissions before installing them. To ensure safety, as well as to help maximize your Android tablet’s efficiency, it could be time you familiarized yourself with checking app permissions and understanding what common permissions you’re likely to come across.

Checking app permissions

Head into Settings on your Android tablet, go to Apps and then tap on any app and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the permissions that have been granted. Note that you are not able to switch individual options on or off, so it’s all or nothing.

However, there are various third-party apps you can install to give you a better look and more control over app permissions. One of those apps is SnoopWall, which once installed will set itself as an administrator to comprehensively audit and manage the security setup on your tablet.

Common permissions 101

Modify, delete, and read storage: This gives an app permission to access the storage on your device in order to save and edit files. Most apps will require some kind of access, if only to keep temporary logs on your device. Keep in mind that any app with these permissions can also access your public folders like your photo gallery as well as your music folder.

Find and use accounts on devices: Facebook, Twitter, and Google accounts are often integral to the way you use your phone, letting you send a Tweet from anywhere and upload photos onto your Facebook account at any time. This permission simply gives an app the ability to tap straight into these accounts to make life easier for you. Bear in mind that the app can potentially access any information stored in the account in question.

Full network access: Most apps require some kind of Internet access, whether it’s for software updates, syncing, or retrieving data from online sources. Full network access is used when retrieving adverts to display, but as with most permissions, you’re relying on the app in question to use this privilege responsibly.

Phone status and identity: This permission enables apps to recognize when a call comes in and gives you the chance to answer it by pausing the current app in the background.

Prevent tablet from sleeping: When your tablet goes into sleep mode, it can interrupt certain processes such as data being written to the internal storage. This permission enables an app to keep your device awake while important system tasks are being carried out. It can also be used by video players to keep the screen on.

Read and send text messages: There are countless apps that want to replace your tablet’s SMS functionality, and this permission is used to automatically scan your incoming texts for authorization codes (used where two-step authentication is involved). This is another classic example of a permission that can be very useful or very worrying. It is vital that you make sure that the app asking for this permission has a clear use for it.

Read your contacts: While a whole range of apps ask for it, this isn’t something you want to give away without good reason. The ability to share content with your friends in some way is often the underlying purpose for this permission, but also so that the app can quickly auto-complete the names of your contacts whenever required.

Sticky broadcasts: This permission is all about the way apps communicate with each other. Android treats each app as if it were a separate user: broadcasts enable these apps to talk to one another (sometimes without your knowledge), and the stickiness controls how long they hang around in the device’s memory for. If an app wants to communicate something to other apps or to Android a long time after the event, it then uses a sticky broadcast.

There are plenty of other permissions to consider but these are the ones you’ll run into most frequently on your Android tablet. It’s important that you pay attention to app permissions in relation to new apps as well as apps you’re already using to ensure your tablet’s security.

Looking to learn more about app permissions? Get in touch today and see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 18th, 2014

osx_June17_BMac users who missed out on coverage of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014 will be pleased to know that Apple introduced their latest operating system; the OS X Yosemite. Although some features aren’t fully-formed, some of the most obvious changes in the OS X Yosemite are very present. With that in mind, it’s time you took a look at the most dramatic redesign of Apple’s operating system to date.

Design

Right from the start you can tell that OS X Yosemite is all about aesthetics. Apple manages to make the operating system look both vastly different yet not entirely unfamiliar. The button and icon design has been flattened so that there are no false contours, making everything look sharper.

For the first time ever, the operating system’s font has been changed from Lucida Grande to Helvetica Neue which is a little easier on the eyes. Finder window menus are now translucent, matching up with the image backgrounds on your desktop. The refreshed dock has gotten a slight makeover with newer flatter-looking icons as well as a new trash can. Yosemite also features a “dark mode”, which gives you the option to eschew translucency for dark gray toolbars.

Notifications

Notification Center has been updated with a new look that borrows its black transparent design from iOS’s pull down notification pane. Apple has divided its Notification Center into two different categories. One shows notifications as you were used to them before, the other shows a “Today” view with a combination of upcoming events, current weather, reminders and stocks. To swap between the two, Apple’s added in tabs at the top to let you minimize the information shown at a glance.

Spotlight

The new Spotlight search and file browsing in general have been greatly improved. Previews of animated GIFs now automatically animate in the preview pane. And if Spotlight is your default application and file launcher, you can hit Command + Space to pull up the search bar and pick out your query instead of hunting for the exact location of the file you’re using. When you go through this, the search pops up in a small pane directly at the center of your screen which makes more sense than the old search bar which was in the top right corner of your screen.

The new update isn’t just conveniently situated, but it could turn Spotlight into your default way of searching for information that you’d normally go to a browser for. You can now convert units, bring up full contact info, look something up on Wikipedia or even search for food nearby. Apple’s even worked Spotlight into the address bar of the revamped Safari browser to give users a one-stop shop for search across the web and local files.

Mail

OS X Yosemite’s Mail app gets a cleaner design as well as a slick new feature, Mail Drop. This allows you to bypass attachment size constraints by uploading files that are too big and sending the recipient a link.

Safari

Safari browser has been updated for continuity with the browser’s window carrying over the translucency seen in other areas of the operating system. Favorites are now hidden by default, but you can access these by clicking on the address bar.

Sharing links to social networks has been simplified with a one-click process and RSS feeds will show in the browser's sidebar.

AirDrop

AirDrop in Yosemite now works with iOS so iPhone owners can easily transfer files to the Mac and back. OS X Yosemite features the ability to recognize work being done in iOS that you might want to continue on the desktop. Once an action is detected on iOS, Yosemite will create an icon on the desktop to remind the user to complete the task. This sensing ability also extends to creating a tethered connection, as your iPhone will now appear as a connection option in the WiFi dropdown.

Make and receive calls

Once connected to your iPhone, Yosemite will prompt you with notifications to answer or ignore incoming calls, both audio and video. The OS will even allow users to click on a number within a website to dial it directly.

OS X Yosemite isn’t finished, but overall it demonstrates a more mature and subtle approach in its user interface as well as a more versatile operating system. For now, Apple is making OS X Yosemite available as beta for developers, but you can expect the full version this fall, when you will be able to download it for free. Looking to learn more about Apple and their products? Call us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
June 13th, 2014

security_June13_BThanks to rapid technological advancement over the past decade, businesses have been able to flourish with great tech tools at their disposal. But the widespread adoption of new, smarter technologies has also given rise to security issues and the ability to infiltrate networks. These threats, if not taken care of appropriately and at the right time, can have an adverse impact on the success of your company. Having a basic security system in place is no longer enough. Businesses need to act quickly to protect themselves and deploy the best security practices to ensure smooth business operations.

10 Security practice guidelines for businesses

  1. Encrypt your data: Encryption of stored data, filesystems, and across-the-wire transfers is essential to protect sensitive data as well as to help prevent data loss due to equipment loss or theft.
  2. Use digital certificates to sign all of your sites: You should obtain your certificates from a trusted Certificate Authority, and instead of saving your certificates on the Web server, save them to hardware devices like routers or load balancers.
  3. Implement a removable media policy: Devices like USB drives, external hard disks, external DVD writers or any writeable media facilitate security breaches coming into or leaving your network. Restricting the use of those devices is an effective way to minimize security threats.
  4. Implement DLP and auditing: Be sure to use data loss prevention and file auditing to monitor, alert, identify, and block the flow of data into and out of your network.
  5. Use a spam filter on your email servers: Using a time-tested spam filter such as SpamAssassin will remove unwanted email from entering your inbox and junk folders. It is important that you identify junk mail even if it’s from a trusted source.
  6. Secure websites against MITM and malware infections: Start using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which creates a secure connection between a user and server, over which any amount of data can be sent securely. Through SSL, you’ll be able to scan your website daily for malware, set the Secure flag for all session cookies, as well as use SSL certificates with Extended Validation.
  7. Use a comprehensive endpoint security solution: Using an antivirus software alone is not enough to provide defense against today’s security threats. Go for a multi-layered product to prevent malware infections on your devices.
  8. Network-based security hardware and software: Start using firewalls, gateway antivirus, intrusion detection devices, and monitoring to screen for DoS attacks, virus signatures, unauthorized intrusion, and other over-the-network attacks.
  9. Maintain security patches: Make sure that your software and hardware defenses stay up-to-date with new anti-malware signatures and the latest patches. If your antivirus program doesn’t update on a daily basis, be sure to set up a regular scan and a remediation plan for your systems.
  10. Educate your employees: As simple as it sounds, this might be the most important non-hardware, non-software solution available. An informed user will more likely behave more responsibly and take fewer risks with valuable company data resulting in fewer threats to your organization.
Businesses cannot afford to take chances with security. Why? Because doing so can trigger a domino effect, causing a cascade of problems that can lead to operational outages, data loss, security breaches, and the subsequent negative impact to your company's bottom line. Looking to learn more about security for your business? Call us today for a chat.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
June 13th, 2014

osx_June13_BAsk many Apple users about the security of the devices they are using and they will likely scoff at the question, insisting that their computer or phone is secure and always has been. While it is true that there are fewer security issues facing Macs, there are still security threats out there and it is a good idea to know about them and also how to prevent them.

The Apple security myth

It is true that many myths are based on fact. However, the problem is trying to distinguish fact from fiction. Take a look at the most recent security threats, and you'll see that the vast majority are focused on systems running Windows, while there are few that seem to focus on Macs.

It used to be that this was simply because there were an exponentially larger number of Windows users compared to Mac users. This large user base makes it easier for hackers to exploit, therefore hackers usually go after Windows machines leaving Macs to the side.

As a result, this has created the general idea that Macs are more secure than Windows. In truth, Macs are really no less or more secure than other systems and devices and users need to ensure their systems are protected. There are a growing number of Mac users and if you throw into the mix the fact that Apple's mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone are among the most popular devices out there you can bet that it's only a matter of time before hackers start to really try and exploit these systems in increased numbers.

How do I ensure my Mac or Apple device is secure?

Talk to 10 different people and you will likely get 10 different answers as to what you should do in order to ensure the security of your computer and mobile device. To make things a little easier, here is our list of five things you should do.

1. Educate yourself about security threats

The first thing you should do is to keep abreast of current security threats. Many of the top mobile and security oriented companies have blogs that cover the most recent security threats that all users should be aware of. Of course, we try to keep this blog updated with these threats as well so be sure to check here as well.

You can take this even further and educate yourself about the most common ways systems are infected or hacked. For example, here are two of the most recent threats your device and computers face: (i) iPhones - At the end of May, news came out of Australia about how a number of iPhone users had been infected by ransomware. This style of malware hijacks a device and demands payment from a user before they can use their phone again. In this specific case, it appears that the hacker is compromising the user's iCloud accounts, then blocking the device using the Find my iPhone feature and showing a message demanding payment for the code to unlock it.

Keeping your passwords secure and changing them may help prevent your device from being infected.

(ii) Macs - One of the latest ways Macs are being infected with malware is through programs that are installed when people download other apps. These programs can do any number of things, with the most problematic (for the time being) setting your browser's home page to the developer's own search engine. The engine will then show paid ads in results. While Google also features ads, it is up to you whether you use Google or not. This specific program doesn't give you a choice.

These are just two existing threats, there are countless more out there that you should be aware of.

2. Practice safe browsing

One of the best ways to stave off infections and security breaches is to be proactive. This is because the vast majority of security breaches happen when a user installs programs, knowingly or unknowingly, or clicks on links in emails or on the Web that contain malware.

These forms of intrusion can be nearly stopped in their tracks in a five ways: (i) Never open email attachments from unknown senders. This is especially the case if the file extensions are for programs i.e., DMG, This includes attachments in emails from large companies and financial institutions. If you are in doubt, try contacting the sender for verification.

(ii) Always hover over links before you click on them. Doing this should cause a popup to appear displaying the full address of the link's location. If for example you get an email from your bank with a link in it, hover over the link to see where it goes. What you are looking for is spelling mistakes, grammar issues or even straight up wrong links. Should any of these be present, the link location could lead you straight to malware which could then be installed on your system.

(iii) Don't automatically open any downloaded apps. It is a good idea to verify any apps first by looking at an app's name by right-clicking on it and selecting Get Info. Look at the source information for the app. If the site is weird or seems different from where you downloaded it from, you may not want to install it.

(iv) Be wary of installing apps from streaming sites. When you try to watch content many sites will ask you to download a plugin or video player. The links shown can sometimes be malware and you will find your systems infected before you know it. In fact, it's a good idea to avoid these sites altogether, especially since some of them are known to host malware that can install itself without your permission or even without you knowing it has been installed.

(v) When in doubt, don't touch anything. If you are unsure about a link or app you are being asked to download, simply don't click on it or download it.

3. Watch where you connect

Apple's products are almost all highly mobile. From featherlight laptops to tablets and phones that fit in almost any bag and pocket you can connect to the office from nearly anywhere. The way most do this is by connecting to their systems via an Internet connection. In many public spaces, shops, and even airports you are never far from a public connection. While this may seem like an ideal way to connect to the office, public connections are notoriously easy to hack.

Anyone with even a basic understanding of networking and tools can hack a public network, accessing data that goes in and out; data which could be sensitive. Once this is captured and possibly decoded, your systems could be breached and even hijacked.

Therefore, it is a good idea to never connect to public networks on any device. Of course, this may not be possible all of the time. So, if you do have to connect to a public network be sure to never enter any passwords or go to sites where you need to log into systems.

4. Install antivirus scanners

It really is amazing how many Mac users simply don't bother with an antivirus scanner. These tools are indispensable for keeping your systems secure and the data stored within them secure. Sure, the chances of your iPhone being hacked or your Macbook's data being exposed are less than other systems and devices but the threat is there, and very real.

There are a number of excellent scanners out there, just be sure to pick a solution that covers both desktop, and mobile devices to ensure optimal security. We can help you pick the best solution for your business, so be sure to talk to us before installing any scanners.

5. Work with an IT expert

Finally, possibly the best way to ensure the security of your Apple products is to work with an IT expert like us. We take the time to get to know how you use your devices to discover your security needs. From here, we can help integrate an effective solution that you can rely on. On top of this, we can also manage your IT, so should new security threats be found, you stand an increased chance of not only being secure but avoiding the threat altogether.

Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
June 10th, 2014

hardware_June10_BGo Mac or go PC? That has been an increasingly divisive question over the past decade with users from either side insisting their choice is the better one. While both have their positives and negatives, many people are still unsure of the real differences between the two. However, understanding what sets them apart can help ensure that you opt for the right platform for your business.

Design

Apple prides itself on its iconic design while PC design depends on which company is making them. Even with the first Macintosh, introduced in 1984, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and monitor were housed in one single unit thus reducing the number of cables necessary and creating a sleeker look. This design forward view has carried throughout the company's history and modern Macs are sleek, light, and designed to look cool.

PCs on the other hand, don’t come from one single manufacturer like Mac so there are countless designs available on the market. If you don’t like the design from one manufacturer you can simply look to others. With Mac, if you’re not keen on their design, you’re out of luck.

Specifications

While both Mac and PC have similar internal parts like RAM, hard drives, and graphics cards, their speed and capacity varies. Macs generally outperform PCs because of better hardware optimization, but tend to skimp slightly when it comes to RAM, hard disk space, and USB ports. PCs offer a wider range of customization, and you can add almost any parts you want.

Connections and optical drives found on Macs and PCs are different too. Mac offers standard selection of features including a Superdrive, audio in and audio out, USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, and Ethernet. PCs on the other hand offer comparable features but with added bonuses like Blu-Ray players, TV tuners, touch screens, and HDMI ports.

The main difference here is that with Macs you have generally limited customization options, while PCs usually allow for a much wider range whilst supporting different kinds of hardware.

Operating System

Most PCs today come preinstalled with Windows 8.1 while Mac runs OS X Mavericks with users having the option to upgrade to the new OS X - Yosemite - this fall. OS X is generally thought to be more user-friendly, while Windows PCs generally see a more comfortable user base and a higher number of programs that work with the OS.

However, with the increasing adoption of virtual desktops and cloud systems, the idea of a separate OS being better is quickly falling to the wayside. This is especially true if you use a virtualized desktop solution where you connect to a server which delivers your desktop.

Software

One of the biggest reasons as to why Mac hasn’t captured a larger share of the market is due to the lack of software for its OS. This is most obvious in business computing where many applications are standardized for Windows but are not available on Mac. That being said, the major programs businesses use on a daily basis are all available for Mac too, so it's more the customized software you will need to look into.

User interface (UI)

While many computer users will proclaim one or the other superior when it comes to user interface, or UI, this is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Highlights of the UI in Mac include Launchpad which is a screen full of app icons for easy access, hot corners that can be customized for various types of views, a dock featuring your favorite apps, full screen mode for apps, and spaces that create as many desktops as you like to help minimize clutter.

With PCs UI, highlights include a touch-friendly interface which contains live tiles or rectangular boxes on the screen that represent an app and which is refreshed with the latest app content. Above all, Windows has the familiar desktop which almost every computer user is comfortable with using, and may even prefer.

There are more components that set Mac and PC apart. Find out more next month where we will dig into security, selections and customer satisfaction between the two.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
June 10th, 2014

ipad_June10_BApple's yearly WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) is one of the most eagerly anticipated moments of the year for fans of the company's products and systems. This year, as with others before, has proven to be an interesting one. Perhaps most attention-grabbing of all is the announcement of a new version of iOS.

The new iOS

At 2013's WWDC, Apple introduced a new and completely overhauled version of iOS - iOS 7. Now, one year on, the platform has proven to be a hit with users. This year the company has announced iOS 8, which is being set up as rhwfsfcssxasaqaan improvement over the previous version.

In fact, Apple has taken the success of last year's version of iOS and added a number of new features and updates that aim to improve on the platform while making mobile devices even easier to integrate into your daily routine.

6 Features business users will benefit from

During Apple's announcement on June 2, there were a number of great new features and updates introduced, all of which will be available when iOS 8 is released. Here are six features business users will enjoy:
  1. Enterprise features - The iPhone and iPad are devices commonly used by businesses and it can be difficult for IT departments to manage these devices or for users to easily share files using company centric clouds. Apple noted that iOS 8 will come with enhanced management tools to make it easier for IT to manage devices and will also make it easier to share information and files through company clouds.
  2. Better Mail app - Many Apple users simply stick with the standard Mail app for all of their email needs - linking various accounts to one platform. Mail will receive new features and updates with iOS 8, with one of the most useful being the introduction of gestures. For example, you will be able to swipe gently to the left on a message to reply, or swipe hard to delete it.
  3. Improved Notifications Center - The biggest update to this feature is that you can now reply to a notification right from the screen, even if the device is locked. So instead of merely seeing that you have an email, you can reply. The bigger update is that the Notifications Center will support widgets from third party apps.
  4. Continuity - One of Apple's main goals is to have a seamless user experience between their devices. With iOS 8, Apple will introduce Continuity which is a feature that will allow you to start doing something on your phone and then, at the click of a button, pick it up on your laptop and carry on without a disruption. For example, if you are on your laptop and your iPhone rings, you will be able to answer it from your computer. You will also be able to call from your Mac using your iPhone.
  5. QuickType - Possibly one of the biggest complaints about the iOS centers around the keyboard. To begin with, you could only use the native keyboard and installing third-party offerings was complicated or just plain impossible. With iOS 8 you will get a new keyboard that is context sensitive, meaning it will suggest the next word based on what is already typed and the person you are texting. You will also be able to install third party keyboards like Swype.
  6. Improved messaging with iMessages - In order to make messaging easier iOS 8's version of iMessages will allow you to edit a group chat's information, name, and participants. You will also be able to share audio messages and set messages to self destruct or delete after a certain amount of time.

Will I be able to get it? If so, when?

iOS 8 was officially announced on June 2, and as of the writing of this article is heading into a beta trial period. This means that it is technically available to some iPhone users who sign up to test the new version. However, we would recommend against this, especially if you use your phone for business, as there are likely bugs that could expose information on your phone.

Apple has noted that iOS 8 will be made available in the fall. If the past few years are any indication, this should be in early to mid September. Once iOS 8 is available not every mobile device will be supported. For example, the iPhone 4 will not receive the update. The same goes for the original iPad.

If you are looking to learn more about Apple's products, or iOS, and how the systems can be used in your business contact us for a chat today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
June 9th, 2014

businesscontinuity_June9_BHistorically the months of June, July, and August are when the vast majority of natural disasters strike. Regardless of your location, there is a chance that your business could be facing a real challenge if something bad happens. In order to limit the potential damage a disaster can create, it helps to be proactive and introduce a disaster strategy. One essential element that you might find useful is utilizing your mobile device, and looking at the benefit of disaster apps.

Both Android and Apple mobile devices offer a wide variety of apps that users rely on daily. Because of this, these devices have become an integral part of our lives and would no doubt be on hand if disaster struck. The upside to this is that there are apps that can help you and your employees whatever the disaster. Here are four of the best types of disaster related apps you and your colleagues should download in order to prepare.

Weather apps

It is always a good idea to know what the weather forecast is for your local area. This can help you predict what could happen and even prepare your business should say a big storm be rolling in. There are a wide variety of weather apps out there and it can be difficult to actually pick which is the best to use. We recommend:
  1. The NOAA Weather Radio - Available on iTunes for iPhone and iPad users, this app is the official app for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. When installed, you can receive local weather forecasts based on your location and storm or severe weather warnings pushed directly to your device. The app can be found on iTunes and costs USD$3.99
  2. Weather Underground - This app is among the most powerful weather apps out there. Using a wide variety of weather stations and user submitted weather it is up to date and able to offer accurate forecasts. With a Weather Radio feature, and push notifications of weather alerts, you can easily track potential storms. There is also the WunderMap which has radar, reports and IR Sat views as well. The app is available for free on Google Play and iTunes, and is rumored to be coming soon for Windows Phone.
  3. Local weather apps - Many TV stations and weather organizations have localized weather apps that focus on just local conditions. If you live in a disaster prone area, it would be a good idea to see if your local TV station has a weather app, as this could be the quickest way to receive updates.

American Red Cross apps

The Red Cross has a number of excellent survival oriented apps that could really come in handy for when a disaster strikes. These apps provide tips on how to prepare yourself and your family, as well as buildings for disaster, and what to do during and after a disaster strikes.

The best part is that most of the information is available offline, so you will have access to it even if cell networks are down. Some of the apps even provide weather alerts that will sound even if the app isn't open, alerting you about any impending danger.

These apps are all available for free on Google Play and iTunes. The best thing to do is to visit the Red Cross website and look for the apps that are relevant to your local area e.g., if you are in the mountains the Forest Fire and First Aid apps may help. The apps are all free and can be downloaded by clicking the links for your device's app store on the Red Cross site.

Social media apps

Social media services could prove to be a good way to connect and communicate during a disaster. Try setting up a group for your employees to communicate and encourage them to use it when a disaster strikes to share information and enact plans. One of the biggest added advantages to using social networks is that the servers that host the service are located around the world, so the chances of the service being down is fairly slim. If you have Internet access, you will be able to access the service.

It would be a good idea to define which social network you want to use and establish your pages and connections ahead of time. Have each employee sign up for and join the group you have created and also download the app onto their mobile devices.

Google Public Alerts

Google Public Alerts is the company's alert platform that allows for the distribution of emergency messages and notices like evacuation notices, public alerts, and storm warnings. For users in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia alerts will appear in Google Searches, Maps and if you are an Android or iOS user, from Google Now.

Mobile users who have Google Now installed should see relevant alerts pop up when something happens. While you won't see alerts for absolutely everything, Google does a pretty good job at broadcasting useful information. On mobile devices, these alerts will usually pop up in your Notifications Center where they are easy to see.

To get these notifications on your Android device, you will need to download the Google Search app and activate it on your device. You can find it for free on the Google Play Store, and on iTunes. Android users can also download the Google Now Launcher which will add Google Now to your device's home screen, and can be accessed by swiping to the right from your Home Screen.

Tips for using your mobile during an emergency

Here are six tips to help you leverage your mobile device during a disaster.
  1. Install relevant apps - In order to be prepared, you should install the apps necessary to communicate during a disaster, along with a weather app and if necessary a survival app.
  2. Ensure your contacts are up to date - To be sure, you should periodically update your contacts. Should anything happen you will know how to contact people and have a higher chance of being able to get in touch.
  3. Ensure your employees have devices that work - Even if you don't allow mobile devices in the office, or employees to use their own devices, it would be a great idea to ensure that your employees have devices that are in working order so should they need to contact you, or vice versa, you will have a better chance of being able to.
  4. Establish procedures to follow during a disaster - This is arguably the most important preparation you can do. Take the time to establish procedures you and your employees should follow during an emergency. Include where people should meet, backup plans, contact suggestions and the roles you expect your employees to take.
  5. Keep your batteries topped up - Mobile devices rely on batteries to operate, and during a disaster you may be without a power source for an extended amount of time. Therefore, Minimize use during a disaster. Ensure your batteries are full, or charges as often and has high as possible.
  6. Invest in a good power bank - Power banks are useful tools that are essentially big batteries. You can charge them up then use them to charge your devices. Take a look for one that is at least 9000 MHZ, or higher. The higher the number the bigger the charge.
If you are looking to learn more about using mobile devices during a disaster, or how your company can prepare, contact us today. Learn about our services and how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 5th, 2014

WindowsPhone_June02_BSoftware has long been Microsoft's bread and butter, but over the past few years the company has been branching out and introducing more hardware products. One of their newest being the Surface tablet. The first two versions of Surface were met with largely mixed reviews, but now the company has introduced Surface Pro 3 - which looks to be the best one yet.

About the Surface Pro 3 tablet

Officially announced on May 20, this newest version of Surface brings about a number of changes to the platform. First and foremost, there is a change in the device's positioning. While previous versions were designed to be direct competitors to the Apple iPad, the new version of Surface Pro 3 is being marketed as a highly mobile device that is meant to replace your laptop.

In fact, Microsoft has noted that they are targeting users, especially business owners, who have both a tablet and a laptop. The company is billing Surface Pro 3 as the device that will allow users to ditch the two, and instead replace it with one.

In pursuit of this goal, Surface Pro 3 has a larger screen and some advanced tech specs that provide it with laptop-level power, while keeping the overall portability of the modern tablet.

Technical specs business owners will find useful

Surface Pro 3 comes in five different versions, with the models being separated by which 4th generation Intel processor is included and the amount of storage space they have:
  • 64GB Intel i3
  • 128GB Intel i5
  • 256GB Intel i5
  • 256GB Intel i7
  • 512GB Intel i7
Aside from the processor, RAM and storage space, all versions share the following specs:
  • Size - The Surface Pro 3 is 11.5 inches wide by 7.93 inches high and weighs 1.76lbs.
  • Memory - The 64GB and 128GB models have 4GB of RAM, while the 256GB and 512GB models have 8GB of RAM.
  • Screen - There is a 12 inch screen with all models and a resolution of 2160 x 1440. This equates to a high resolution screen that should be more than enough for every user.
  • Connectivity - All models can connect to Wi-Fi, support Bluetooth 4.0, and have a full-size USB 3.0 port, along with a microSD card reader, and Mini display port.
  • Operating system - Surface Pro 3 runs a full version of Windows 8.1, which comes pre-installed on the device.
  • Accessories - There are a number of cases you can buy including the Surface Pro Type Cover which includes a full keyboard and trackpad built into the case. Combine this with the built-in multi-function hinge and you can use the device almost anywhere.
  • Battery life - Previous versions of the Surface had average, or slightly below average battery life. Because this device isn't out yet, we can't give an accurate number as to how long the battery should last. That being said, this is a powerful device so battery life will likely be closer to most laptops rather than tablets - anywhere from four to eight hours.

Should my business invest in this technology?

From the specs alone, the Surface Pro 3 looks to be a good investment for users who are looking to merge their tablet and laptop. Also, because this is a Microsoft tablet, users of the company's other systems and software, especially Office 365 and Windows 8, will be at home with this device.

If you or your employees are looking to be productive while on the go, and use Microsoft or cloud systems, this device could be the perfect business tool. The major downside to Surface Pro 3, as with previous versions, is the price, which starts at USD$799 just for the device, so you are looking at almost USD$940 per unit. The most powerful version - the 512 GB/ Intel i7 starts at USD$1,949.

Should you be about to replace your tablet and laptop, this could be a viable solution as the cost of replacing both could be more than, or at least similar to, the cost of a Surface Pro 3. That being said, this is still a new device so it may be worthwhile waiting a few months to see how people who purchase the unit like it, and how it can be integrated into your business better.

Where can I find one?

Because this tablet was just announced the other week, it actually isn't available to purchase just yet. You can go to the Surface website and pre order one now and as of the writing of this article, the i3 and i7 devices will be shipped August 31, 2014 while the i5 devices are scheduled to ship June 20, 2014.

If you can wait until the release, you should be also able to pick up the device from most major retailers and Microsoft partners who carry hardware. And, if you would like to learn more about this device and how it can integrate with your business contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 4th, 2014

AndroidTablet_June02_BOne of the basics for Android tablets is that they connect to the Internet. While every tablet can connect via Wi-Fi, an increasing number of models are also able to connect via data networks. For those who have tablets that connect with data networks, you likely have a set amount of data each month, meaning you run the risk of exceeding this amount, which could prove costly.

Here are three things you can do in order to minimize and track the amount of data you are using on your tablet.

1. Turn off your data when you aren't using it

All modern tablets have the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network, and many of us have these in the office and at home. While many tablets have the ability to switch between connection types automatically, there is always the chance that you may loose connection and switch to a data network without knowing.

If this happens, you could see your data allowance quickly drained. Therefore, it's worthwhile turning off your data when you aren't using it. On most devices, you can do this by:

  1. Going to your device's home screen.
  2. Swiping down from the top and either selecting Settings or tapping on the profile image (usually a person icon) and tapping Settings.
Under Wireless & Networks tap on Data usage. Next, slide the tab Mobile data from On to Off. On some devices you may see Mobile Data right on the Settings menu, and sliding it to Off will turn off your device's data connection.

If you are going on vacation or out of your data provider's service area this is useful thing otherwise you may incur roaming charges which are usually costly. Note, that when you do turn your data off you will still be able to connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi.

2. Set a limit on the amount of data used

On Android devices using newer versions of Android there is actually a built in data tracker that allows you to see how much data you have used in a given period. You can access it by:
  1. Going to your device's home screen.
  2. Swiping down from the top and either selecting Settings or tapping on the profile image (usually a person icon) and tapping Settings.
  3. Selecting Data usage.
Note, this may be in a different location on your phone, it depends on the manufacturer. It can be found in the device's settings menu, just take a look at the options related to mobile and data.

With Data usage open, you should see a graph that displays the amount of data you have used during the current month. If you tick Set mobile data limit you can manually set a limit for your data. If you go over that limit, your device will automatically disable mobile data. We suggest setting it for around 10-20MB below the limit on your contract. You can also set a warning limit that will let you know when you are approaching a certain amount of data.

If your billing cycle doesn't begin at the start of each month, press Data usage cycle and select Change cycle… to set the dates to fit with the monthly charge cycle.

3. Audit the amount of data your apps are using

If you open the data usage part of Settings and look under the chart that displays the amount of data you have used you should see a list of apps that have used data, ranked by the amount each app has used.

You can see which app is using how much data and from here you can adjust how you use an app. For example, if you see that YouTube has been using a high amount of mobile data, it may be a good idea to restrict viewing videos to when you are on Wi-Fi.

If you see that apps are using data despite the fact that you aren't actually using the apps you can restrict the app from using data in the background. Many apps use data to keep their content up-to-date or available for the next time you open them. Try tapping on the app names in the list below the graph and a new window will open.

Take a look at the pie graph and you will see two sections: Foreground and Background. Foreground indicates how much data the app is using when it's open while Background shows how much is used while the app is closed.

If you tick Restrict background data at the bottom of the window, the app will not be allowed to use data while it isn't open.

Looking to learn more about your Android tablet? Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.