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September 2nd, 2015

iPad_Sep2_BFor millions of happy users all over the world, the iPad is fantastic just as it is. It’s easy to use, and there are literally over a million apps to choose from and enjoy on the App Store. But there are also people who want to escape Apple’s restrictions. They resort to jailbreaking, a process of altering Apple’s software to remove the limitations placed upon it. Jailbreaking can open up new tweaks that allow for more flexibility in how you use your iPad, but it can also present a myriad of problems, including security concerns. Here’s what you need to know about jailbreaking, and why you should never attempt it on your iPad.

What is jailbreaking?

In a nutshell, jailbreaking is the act of removing hardware and software restrictions on Apple’s iOS, or otherwise making modifications to the device without Apple’s authorization. When you jailbreak your iPad you can install third-party software from external sources, and also manually download files from the Internet. You can change your iPad’s default look, too, and feel, as well as make a number of system tweaks that render your device more useful.

Why you should NOT jailbreak

We advise against jailbreaking. But this is not just our opinion - even Apple says the same in its technical support base articles addressing the issue. Here are some of the reasons jailbreaking is a bad idea.

1. Third-party apps are dangerous - Apple closely monitors its App Store for good reason: because malicious apps can wreak havoc on your device. Downloading and installing applications that haven’t been approved by Apple is risky in many ways. Unofficial apps may contain malware that could slow your device down, steal your sensitive information, eavesdrop on private communications - the list goes on.

2. Say goodbye to warranty cover - Although it’s perfectly legal to jailbreak your iPad, Apple has made it clear that jailbroken devices will no longer be protected under their warranty service coverage. If you mess up the process and can’t restore the device yourself, you’re basically on your own.

3. No more iOS updates - When you jailbreak your iOS device, you’re unable to update to the latest iOS versions. Technically you can, but you’ll lose your jailbreak, meaning you have to re-jailbreak your device and then re-install all your jailbroken apps and extensions. What’s more, if you decide to update your iOS you may have to sit out and wait for an updated jailbreak version to become available, which could take days, weeks, or even months.

4. Device instability - This is one of the biggest reasons why you should stay away from jailbreaking; it can lead to random reboots, and devices not working properly. You may find that your iPad crashes more often, that certain key features and apps no longer work as they normally would, and that your battery life becomes much shorter.

5. The need for jailbreaking is diminishing - The main benefit of jailbreaking, in most cases, is to modify the system in ways which Apple wouldn’t normally allow. But as Apple adds more features to iOS, the same need for jailbroken apps which provide those features is no longer there. For instance, some jailbreak tweaks allow for inter-app data sharing and split-screen multitasking, both of which are being introduced in the latest iOS version.

The detrimental effects of jailbreaking far outweigh the benefits, so why jailbreak your iPad for some minor tweaks when you can wait for Apple to release a more stable update? If you want more iPad tips, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPad
September 1st, 2015

164_B_MacDo you ever worry you may be leaving private information exposed on your Mac when you leave to grab a drink or use the bathroom? What if a nosy employee or thief jumps on your computer and sees or steals your confidential information? It may sound unlikely, but it can happen. So if you’re looking for an added layer of security, here’s how you can lock your Mac easily whenever you leave your desk.

The problem with normal password lock

As you know, the normal way to lock your Mac is by either shutting it down or logging off. So if you’re simply stepping out of your office to use the bathroom, you probably don’t want to waste time doing either of these to keep your desktop secure from a snooping passerbyer. So what’s to do? Set up a password lock. This allows you to lock your Mac by simply putting it to sleep.

How to set up a password lock

One of the best parts about setting up a password lock on your Mac is that it’s incredibly easy. To do so, click on the following:
  1. System Preferences
  2. Security & Privacy (located under the “Personal” group of icons)
  3. General tab
  4. Check the box that reads, “require password after sleep or screen saver begins”
Once you’ve done this, choose “immediately” from the box that lights up. Now, your Mac will lock every time it goes to sleep, and to use it again your password will need to be entered.

So, that leaves one more question. How can you easily put your Mac to sleep?

How to make your Mac go to sleep on command

There are several easy ways to do this. The first and probably the one you’re most familiar with is to simply click on the Apple icon in the upper left hand corner of your screen, and then click Sleep.

If you prefer keyboard shortcuts, you can use one of the following:

  1. Control + Shift + Eject - this makes only the screen go to sleep
  2. Command + Option + Eject - this makes the computer go to sleep
Probably the easiest way of all is to activate Hot Corners, which allows you to put your monitor to sleep by simply moving your cursor to a specific corner of the screen. To activate this, click on the following:
  1. System Preferences
  2. Desktop & Screensaver
  3. Screensaver
  4. Hot Corners (in the bottom right hand corner)
Then choose the corner you would like to use to put your monitor to sleep, and select “Put Display to Sleep”. Every time you navigate your cursor to that corner of the screen, your monitor will go to sleep and your Mac will be locked.

Looking for more Mac OS tips? Curious to learn about our Mac services? Call us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Apple Mac OS
August 31st, 2015

The Ashley Madison hack is simply the latest case of a big time company having valuable data stolen. It’s a trend that shows no signs of subsiding, so you would be foolish to not pay attention to it. Want to know what your business should learn about security from this scandal? Here are three important takeaways from the Ashley Madison hack that your company should take note of.

1. Make sure your company’s security data is actually secure

You probably tell clients their information is secure, but just about every company makes that claim. One of the biggest mistakes made by Ashley Madison was the failure to know if its data was truly secure. The company publically lauded its security, but it now seems like those claims were rather hollow. In fact, it appears as if no one at Ashley Madison knew a whole lot about its security practices until it was too late.

Don’t simply pass off your business’s security to the IT department. Being involved will allow you to see how it works. You don’t need to be a tech expert to understand how your data is being secured. Your security provider, whether it be in-house or via a managed services provider, should be able to explain security practices in layman’s terms. This will allow you to ask questions and be proactive because chances are if you see a weakness, others will notice it as well.

2. Beware of your employees and their email and Internet activities

Another takeaway from this scandal was the fact many employees, both from private companies and government offices, were using business email accounts to sign-up for Ashley Madison and office Internet connections to access the site. Putting the ethical questions aside for a moment, public sentiment is undoubtedly negative and companies with employees who used Ashley Madison at work have been exposed to the scandal’s backlash.

By placing the appropriate email and Internet security solutions in place at your business, you can reduce the amount of risk your company is exposed to by employees. No one really wants to put restrictions on their employees’ Internet and email access, but it is important to be smart. Being connected to scandals like this can bring unwanted publicity to your business. Worst of all, your employees might not even realize they are putting your company in harm’s way when they access this type of content at work.

3. Be prepared for data loss

As the Ashley Madison case has shown us, massive data theft or loss can be the end of your business. When clients trust your business with their data, they are confident in your ability to protect it. Of course, things do happen and if your data does go missing, it’s important to have a plan of action ready. While it’s unlikely your company’s data breach is unlikely to garner the attention of Ashley Madison, it means a whole lot more to you, your company and your employees. Just because your company isn’t big doesn’t mean it’s invincible.

A disaster recovery plan can help your company ensure it has backups and even backups of your backups. If you believe your data has been stolen by hackers, it is important to act immediately. You’ll need to quickly assess what information has been stolen and inform the appropriate parties so they can take the necessary steps to protect themselves. From there, you will want to re-secure your company closing any security loopholes that have been found. Finally, access your backups and make sure your business continues to operate as close to normal during the crisis.

Worried about your security? We can show you how to protect yourself. Contact us today for more information on how to keep your company safe.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 26th, 2015

Browsers_Aug20_BEven the most fanatical Google fan has cause to use browsers other than Chrome from time to time. After all, while Chrome might have crept a long way up the popularity scale, there are still alternatives out there - among them Firefox, Safari and even Internet Explorer. Whether you prefer to use another browser on a particular device or just haven’t got around to installing Chrome on it, you’ll still want to have your Chrome bookmarks handy in order to speed up your work. Here’s how to go about accessing your bookmarks from elsewhere.

Whereas in the past it was possible to sync bookmarks saved in Chrome to your Google Docs account, this ceased with the transition from Google Docs to Google Drive. You can still save your bookmarks, but they are now only accessible on other devices if you use Chrome there too. Go online with Firefox or one of the other alternatives and you’ll be left without the easy bookmark access you rely on. The alternative is to use the Bookmarks Anywhere browser extension, which syncs your Chrome bookmarks to your other browsers and updates them live as you add to the list. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Within Chrome on the device that contains the bookmarks you want to sync, download the Bookmarks Anywhere extension from the Chrome Web Store.
  2. Once the extension has been added, a popup will appear. If you’re not already logged in, sign in to the Google account you use in Chrome; you’ll then need to grant Bookmarks Anywhere the browser permissions it requires.
  3. Your Chrome bookmarks will now be synced to the Bookmarks Anywhere site. To access them from non-Chrome browsers on your other devices, just sign in to www.bookmarksany.com using your Google account and a list of your bookmarks will appear. You can also manually add new bookmarks from this page, though these don’t appear to sync back to your Chrome bookmarks menu.
If you want to discover other simple ways to boost your productivity through better use of IT, give us a call and we’ll show you how.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Browsers
August 26th, 2015

Windows_Aug26_COne of the most underrated aspects of Windows 10 is Cortana. This do-it-all personal assistant is going to revolutionize the way you use your computer. Cortana operates in the same manner as Siri and other digital voice assistants, but on your laptop or PC. We’ll dig a little deeper to show you how to set up Cortana and what you can do to maximize her uses.

If you are using Windows 10, it’s likely you have come across Cortana at least once or twice. While you might fear that the effort involved in setting up the feature isn’t worth the time you will save once Cortana is up and running, you would be mistaken. Configuring her is quite simple and she is more helpful than you might realize.

Setup

For starters, you will want to have your microphone turned on if you plan on using voice commands, and all the privacy and locations settings enabled. Cortana will not work if these have not been activated. From there, she will give you a brief overview of her capabilities and ask you a few questions to get to know you better.

Once that is completed, you are going to want to spend a few minutes testing her out and seeing what she can do for you. This awkward, getting-to-know-you stage might seem like a waste of time but, once you have a good feel for Cortana, you’ll be more inclined to use her in the future.

Maximize Cortana

Now that Cortana is ready to assist you, it’s important to utilize her as a personal assistant. Here are a few areas she can really come in handy:

Find that document - Ever saved a document somewhere to later forget where it was stored? Simply ask Cortana to look for it by saying, “Hey Cortana, find (file name),” and she will bring it up for you. Let’s say you are looking for Word documents located in multiple folders on your computer; all you have to say is, “Hey Cortana, find my Word documents,” to have her pull up all your Word files.

Easily start tasks - Football season is nearly upon us and that means fantasy football season is here. Utilizing Cortana could give you the extra edge needed to win your league this year. If you want to check on Tony Romo’s status, say, “search for Tony Romo injury,” and the search results will pop up for you. Want to make a sneaky trade offer to John before your rivals? Say “email John Fantasy Football,” and a window with his e-mail address will pop-up. Of course, these features are universal and you don’t have to like or even know what fantasy football is to use them.

Answer your questions - One of the coolest features about Cortana is the fact that when you ask her a question she will not only show you the answer, but speak it as well. Want to know what the weather is like in Denver? Just say, “Hey Cortana, what’s the weather in Denver,” and she’ll give you the lowdown on it. Need to know when your next meeting is taking place? Ask Cortana and she’ll reply with the answer. This is especially nice when you’re in your office but away from the computer.

Talking to Cortana is nice, but speaking with a person about your IT is better. Contact us today for all your technology needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 24th, 2015

164_Fbook_BSome people love them, others hate them. But the fact of the matter is that keyboard shortcuts can save you time. And if you find yourself on Facebook often, now you can use them to bounce around your beloved social media network quicker than ever before. Here’s the lowdown on how you can use keyboard shortcuts on Facebook.

There are two specific ways you can use keyboard shortcuts on Facebook. First is on the News Feed page, and second is to jump between the various pages of Facebook: Timeline, Inbox, Settings etc. Let’s look at the keyboard shortcuts for both below.

Navigating between Facebook’s different pages

Depending on your unique computer and browser combination, you must first enter in a unique base keyboard shortcut followed by a number that works on every computer and browser.

Start first with the keyboard shortcut unique to your browser and computer combo.

  • Internet Explorer on PC: Alt + #, then Enter
  • Firefox on PC: Shift + Alt + #
  • Chrome on PC: Alt + #
  • Safari on Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #
  • Firefox on Mac: Ctrl + Opt + #
  • Chrome on Mac: Ctrl +Opt + #
With your unique key combination held down, press the relevant number to take you to the specific section of Facebook you’d like to visit:

1 - News Feed 2 - Timeline 3 - Friends List 4 - Inbox 5 - Notifications 6 - Settings 7 - Activity Log 8 - Facebook About page 9 - Terms & Policies

News Feed shortcuts

Next up is the News Feed section. Unlike navigating between Facebook’s pages, you do not need a base shortcut that depends on your computer/browser combination. Instead you just simply enter in your desired keyboard shortcut:
  • j and k - Scroll up or down between News Feed stories
  • p - post a status update
  • l - like or unlike a highlighted story
  • c - comment on a highlighted story
  • s - share the highlighted story
Additionally, you can use the arrows on your keyboard to scroll up or down between stories on the News Feed.

Want more Facebook tips? Looking for an IT provider to relieve your technology headaches? Get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook
August 17th, 2015

164_SM_BThe coveted email list: it can be the difference between a growing business and one that sputters out before it gets off the ground. So what can you do to grow yours? Although it’s often less talked about, social media can be an instrumental tool to gain subscribers. Here are three tips on how you can use it to grow your email list.

Post and share your emails publicly

If you create great content for your email list and no one sees it except your subscribers, how are your non-subscribers going to know what they’re missing out on? They won’t, which is exactly why you should give your social media fans and followers a taste of the valuable content that awaits them after sign up.

Now let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you should share every single email you send out to your list. If you did, there would be less of a need to subscribe. Instead, try sharing or posting an email once every few weeks or once a month.

Make it easy to sign up

Let’s face it. Many of us will take the easier, simpler path whenever possible. This is just as true in marketing as it is in other more primal aspects of human nature. Take eating, for example: if you’re short on time and have a choice between two restaurants for lunch, and one delivers and the other doesn’t, which one are you going to take? Likely the delivery. Even if you prefer the one that doesn’t deliver slightly better, you’d probably still take the delivery for the simple fact that they’ve made it easier for you.

In the online marketing world, the same concept works for gaining subscribers. This is why you need to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up after they’ve read your publicly shared email. To do this, simply add a sign-up link to the emails you share.

Create valuable content

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”. However, whoever came up with this catchphrase left out a very important keyword. It should instead read “valuable content is king.” If you’re shelling out dozens of blog posts, emails, podcasts or videos a month but the content is useless to the reader, you’re not going to make any traction with your email list.

When trying to gain subscribers, always ask yourself, “what’s in it for them if they sign up?” If you simply have a signup box on your website or social media page, but no valuable content to go along with it, why would someone sign up? Would you sign up? The point is that there needs to be a reason for someone to subscribe to your email list. And valuable content is a very good reason.

Lastly, don’t forget to demonstrate why it’s more valuable for your future audience to subscribe rather than simply follow you on social media. To do this, give them an incentive to sign up. This could be in the form of an exclusive offer or a free ebook, course, report, or something similar.

Want more tips on leveraging social media to grow your business? Send us a message today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 11th, 2015

Office_Aug11_BMicrosoft has released Office Mobile apps as part of the worldwide rollout of Windows 10. Tablet users with Windows 10 can enjoy free access to the mobile versions of Microsoft’s popular Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote applications. The mobile version of these applications is designed with a “touch-first’ interface to improve functionality for tablet users while providing all the Office features you would find on your desktop computer.

One of the biggest complaints about trying to edit a Microsoft Office file from a tablet is usability, or lack thereof. That has all changed, at least for Windows 10 users, with Microsoft’s recent release of Office Mobile apps. The tablet-friendly versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote have been built from the ground up to improve touch functionality.

Even if you don’t have Windows 10, you still might be intrigued about the potential of having Office apps that are touch-friendly. Here are some of the new features you can enjoy when using Office Mobile apps.

Word

Microsoft Word Mobile has all the tools and features of the PC version including more nuanced tasks like being able to track changes and add footnotes. The Read mode, a mobile exclusive, improves the way documents appear by making them flow better on the smaller screens of a tablet while also letting you zoom in and out with a simple tap of the screen.

Excel

Recommended Charts is the prominent feature of the Excel Mobile app. It allows you to quickly show off your data using a stylish chart or graph with only a few taps. You will also find that reordering columns, adding formulae, changing chart types and the majority of Excel’s other core functions are easier than ever before.

PowerPoint

Of course Office wouldn’t be Office without PowerPoint. The mobile version of the app allows you to edit slides with new touch gestures. This makes it easy to insert and edit pictures, tables, shapes and SmartArt. But the real star here, and of the entire Office Mobile setup, is the Presenter View. This mode gives you full control over what your audience sees on the big screen during a presentation while still letting you view your speaker notes on the tablet.

OneNote

Windows 10 comes installed with OneNote, so you’re probably already using it. Tablet users will notice that changes made by anyone working in the notebook are automatically saved and synchronized for everyone to see.

The release of Office Mobile apps is just one of three big launches to come from Microsoft in 2015. Both Microsoft Office 2016 and Office Mobile for phones are slated for release this fall. Yet, while these tablet applications represent marked improvements for Windows 10 tablet users, they are probably not quite enough to warrant the switch from other operating systems just yet. In fact, even if you’re in love with the idea of having user-friendly, mobile versions of Office, you might want to hang on in there - it’s likely Microsoft will release them for iOS and Android in the near future, too.

Want to know what hardware and software is best for your company? Want to increase productivity in your office? Get in touch with us and we’ll show you how to do it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_BEnsuring the implementation of effective business continuity planning (BCP) is an essential requirement for organizations today. Disasters strike at the most unexpected times and, when they do, you need to be prepared for the worst. While most organizations recognize the importance of BCP, their ability to execute a successful implementation is limited by certain challenges. With that said, we’ve listed some issues you need to be aware of, and what you can do about them.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option - it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike - all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today - we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 6th, 2015

MobileGeneral_Aug04_BSiri, Google Now and Cortana are just three examples of the growth in the use of artificial intelligence that has come about in recent years. They are powered by one element of artificial intelligence, known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP involves a computer turning verbatim human language into useful analysis, and its role in the various devices we now use is increasing all the time. Here’s what you need to know about NLP.

There’s more to Natural Language Processing than voice recognition

Voice recognition might be among the most well-known practical uses of NLP in the technology we encounter in everyday life - but that likely has more to do with the popularity of the services that employ it, like Siri, Google Now and Cortana, than the merits of voice recognition in comparison to other NLP functions that tend to stay out of the limelight.

Truth be told, there’s a whole lot more to artificial intelligence than NLP. In fact, NLP is more effective in analyzing text data than it is sounds, which is precisely why digital assistant apps first use voice recognition to turn your commands into text data, and then use other NLP capabilities to search online for related information.

Natural Language Processing has already moved beyond its infancy

It’s tempting to believe that elements of artificial intelligence like NLP are still in the realm of the sci-fi movies, and that they are a long way from being useful to the technology we use in our everyday personal and business lives. It’s tempting, but further from reality than you might realize. That said, it’s true that to date there has been no commercial use of NLP that has truly exploited its full capabilities; even its deployment in a recently launched project to automate customer service only really scratches the surface.

What is clear is the shape that future uses of NLP will need to take. We already know that NLP alone doesn’t always judge context well, since it needs to learn about its environment first - without turning to other sources, for example, one app employing NLP would struggle to differentiate between providing traffic information and diagnosing a health complaint. The key, at least for now, is to restrict the scope in which NLP operates - by limiting its use to a travel app, for instance, NLP could learn about the various travel arrangements you make and then devise itineraries for you.

It works with more than just large-scale data

While it’s undeniable that NLP can be put to great use in analyzing vast swathes of aggregated information, for example taking masses of social media data and being able to assess the feelings of users towards the subject in question, that’s not the limit of its capabilities. Contrary to popular belief, NLP can also be used to interpret much smaller-scale data in real time. This is where its true value comes into play in terms of being able to take natural-language user input, in an app setting for example, and make decisions that add value to our mobile experience.

Whether for automated customer service or comprehensive sales applications, it’s clear that Natural Language Processing - and other aspects of artificial intelligence - hold the potential to be of value-adding benefit to the business world in the near future. It’s an area that’s very much still in development - and so even more exciting, and important to watch - but now is the time to discover how best to implement NLP technologies into your company. By getting ahead now, you can offer a customer experience that truly sets you apart from the competition. To find out how we can help you achieve just that, and at the same time maximize the value you drive from mobile technologies more generally, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.