Blog

August 25th, 2016

2016August25_Office_BMicrosoft’s Office 365 platform isn’t one of the most popular productivity suites in the world by luck. The company’s expertise in creating functional, innovative and easy-to-use business applications has won over thousands of users for decades even before the cloud. And today, Microsoft strives to remain ahead of the competition by rolling out new upgrades every quarter. So what does Office 365’s update have in store for you this quarter? Read on and find out.

Word

This quarter, Office 365’s upgrade will focus on cloud-powered intelligent services, designed to maximize productivity while saving time. And Office 365’s upgrade wouldn’t be an upgrade if there were nothing new in Word, the business application that put Microsoft on the map. To that end, Word is getting two new features called Researcher and Editor. As you may have guessed, Researcher is designed to help you find reliable sources of information by using Bing’s Knowledge Graph to help search and then cite sources in your Word document. In the future, Researcher’s body of reference materials will also include sources such as national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, and more. The feature will be available on mobile devices too.

Now that you have Researcher to help you start your paper, you can count on Editor to help you finish it. This new feature builds on the existing spellchecker and thesaurus, and in addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and wavy blue line under bad grammar, Editor uses a gold line for suggestions on how to improve your writing.

PowerPoint

Currently, when making a presentation, you’re forced to use the 1-2-3-4 linear method of showing your slides. The problem is that you can’t change your presentation order as needed without having to exit PowerPoint’s slideshow mode, and let’s face it, sometimes you do make mistakes and need to go back or move to a different slide. But thanks to PowerPoint’s new feature, Zoom, you can now present your slides in any order you want at any time without a hiccup.

Outlook

The time has come for Office 365’s Outlook to get the Focused Inbox which has been available for iOS and Android for some time now. If you’re not familiar with Focused Inbox, the feature separates your inbox into two tabs: Focused tab which includes emails that matter most to you and the “Other” tab for everything else. This makes it easy to identify email that needs your attention so you never miss anything important.

Not only that, but as you move email in or out of the Focused tab, Outlook learns from your behavior and adjusts to your priorities. You can also flag someone by typing the @ symbol in the body of the email and pick whoever you wish to flag. This will automatically highlight that person’s email and their email address will be added to the To: line. If you are mentioned, the @ symbol will show up in Outlook so you can quickly find all email where you are mentioned.

For now, Microsoft hasn’t set a release schedule for these new features, but according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President for the Office team, you can expect to use them soon enough! And as always, if you would like to find out how you can make the most out of Office 365 or Microsoft Office, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic office
August 24th, 2016

2016August24_Virtualization_BMicrosoft’s Azure and Citrix’s XenApp have done a lot to move virtualization services into the mainstream over the years. So, with the announcement that the two companies will work together to combine their platforms into a new cloud-based application delivery system, it’s understandable why there is so much excitement within the industry. Let’s dig deeper into this new service and what it means for your business.

What Citrix’s XenApp already does is deliver applications to users via a variety of methods and pathways other than local installations. The process starts with the creation of server-stored software containers that allow the services an application provides to be delivered to your staff members from a centralized server. XenApp enables you to set rules and procedures for when and how these features can be accessed, and it creates a multitude of versions of the software that can be delivered to different operating systems, devices, and locations.

In a press release back in May, Citrix made a bombshell announcement that it would create cloud-based versions of all its virtualization packages using Microsoft’s Azure as the foundation. While the two companies have been closely aligned for decades, this is an enormous boost to both their reputations. Fast forward to today, and we’re seeing the first rays of sunshine from this new team-up.

And much more than simply lending Citrix the foundation, Microsoft will be directly involved in the development and release of the new cloud-based version of XenApp. The two companies have promised to work together to combine the simplicity and scalability of Azure with the administration and performance improvements of XenApp, thereby creating the most comprehensive software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider on the market.

Because Microsoft’s RemoteApp already acts as an Azure SaaS platform, the potential for conflict means it will be wound down to its eventual sunset in August 2017. But fear not; for faithful users of this service, Microsoft has promised a clear transition plan to reduce the possibility of growing pains.

Cloud-based XenApp is just the first of many improved services to be born out of the partnership between these two titans of tech. Rumors are swirling that XenDesktop will get the same treatment and a release won’t be far behind. Regardless, the tech industry is moving ahead with the virtualization of everything it can get its hands on, and it's time to jump on the bandwagon. When you’re ready to make the leap, our experts are ready to pull you aboard. Contact us today for answers to all of your virtualization questions.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 22nd, 2016

2016August22_iPhone_BWhen most people think of the iPhone, an Excel spreadsheet isn’t exactly the first thing that springs to mind. Whether it was the smartphone’s form factor or a general aversion to working from a mobile device, most of us had no reason to search out iOS versions of Microsoft’s legendary productivity software. Nowadays, screens have more space, and working outside office hours has become commonplace. Along with these developments, Office apps have been steadily getting better, and the most recent update is another pleasant surprise -- let’s take a look.

Create OneDrive documents from your iPhone

Previous to the most recent update, iPhone users were forced to create documents in the native Office app, save them, and upload them to OneDrive to enjoy cloud storage. Otherwise, only preexisting documents were visible in the OneDrive app. This scope was extremely limited compared with what the software could accomplish in other mediums, which added several annoying steps.

By updating OneDrive on your iPhone, the simple addition of one button eliminates all those unnecessary steps. Proudly displaying itself in the upper-right-hand corner, tapping the ‘+’ provides you with a list of options for creating a new document. A word of warning -- when you select the type of document you want to create, it will still need to open the corresponding application (Word, Excel, or PowerPoint), so make sure those are already installed on your iPhone. But once open, there is no need to upload it manually; the document has already been created and saved in your OneDrive.

Drawing for Office documents

The updates covered here actually take place in two separate applications, and the second is within the Office for iPhone app itself. Let’s say you’re on the way to a meeting while reviewing a spreadsheet on a mobile device written by a colleague. You want to highlight an oddly shaped dataset and make a note on it for the presentation, but the only way to accomplish this is by changing the colors of the cell and typing the note in an adjacent cell. Sure, it works, but it ain’t pretty.

Similar to the function that already exists on iPad and Windows tablets, the iPhone now comes with a ‘Draw’ tab to add to a document as if you were writing on top of a physical using a pen or highlighter. Start by popping over to the Edit menu, click on Home, and finally Draw. From there, you have the option to select either a pen or a highlighter for the desired effect -- and you’re all ready to add a handwritten touch to the document!

The iPhone has proven time and again to be one of the best options for a workplace mobile device. However, appropriating it as such comes with a number of concerns regarding configuration, security, and efficiency. If you’re looking for help with these, or other new and exciting ways to beef up your iPhone productivity, call us today -- we’ll have you fixed up faster than you can handwrite ‘Sign me up!’

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic apple
August 19th, 2016

2016August19__MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_BSmartphones aren’t even ten years old, and they’re already one of the most essential pieces of our daily routines.In many ways they’ve actually surpassed desktop computers in their ability to keep us connected 24 hours a day. But they’re still a separate device, and that means awkward transitions when you get notifications while working on your PC. Those annoying interruptions were the impetus for Microsoft to introduce a new method for syncing Android notifications to your Windows 10 machine. Sound interesting? Here is how to make it happen.

The first thing you need to do is to wirelessly pair your Android phone with your Microsoft desktop. From the Google Play store, download and install the Cortana app and sign into the Microsoft account you use on your computer. Once you’ve signed in, select the Menu button in the upper-left-hand corner and select Settings. After that, select the option for ‘sync notifications’ and toggle which you would like to see on your desktop.

Notifications are broken down into four categories: calls, texts, battery alerts, and third-party apps. Although an option to answer the phone from your computer hasn’t been added yet, you can read and respond to text messages. When deciding on third-party app settings, remember the goal is to manage your interactions, not create more. Make sure to disable any notifications that will create annoying redundancies like doubled-up Facebook alerts between your Android pairing and previously-enabled desktop notifications.

And just like that, you’re all set. As long as you have Cortana enabled on your desktop, all your Android alerts will automatically display in your Windows 10 Action Center. There is no need to interact with the app on your mobile device, and we recommend removing the shortcuts from the clutter of your homescreen. Gone are the days of needlessly checking your phone every time it vibrates, just to find out it’s another telemarketer or unimportant Instagram notification.

As technology reaches the hands of more and more people, and hardware and software options increase exponentially, there are few problems that can’t be fixed with a little ingenuity. Our staff has that ingenuity, and they’re waiting to impart it on you and your business. Call us from your phone or text us from your desktop. Regardless of how you reach us, don’t wait for more problems to sneak up on you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Windows
August 18th, 2016

2016August18_Security_BAs the spectacle and competitive atmosphere of the Rio Olympic Games have drawn the world’s attention, hackers who use social engineering are inching closer to our private information. Although our systems may be prepared for the likes of malware and worms, social engineering is a different beast of its own. If used effectively, hackers can manipulate people into disclosing personal information, rendering security systems useless. So how exactly do they go about doing this? Below are five of the most utilized social engineering tactics you should be aware of.

Phishing Phishing scams are perhaps the most common type of social engineering attack. Usually seen as links embedded in email messages, these scams lead potential victims into seemingly trustworthy web pages, where they are prompted to fill in their name, address, login information, social security number, and credit card number.

Phishing emails often appear to come from reputable sources, which makes the embedded link even more compelling to click on. Sometimes phishing emails masquerade as government agencies urging you to fill up a personal survey, and other times phishing scams pose as false banking sites. In fact earlier this year, fraudulent Olympics-themed emails redirected potential victims to fake ticketing services, where they would eventually input their personal and financial information. This led to several cases of stolen identities.

Tailgating

What’s the best way to infiltrate your business? Through your office’s front door, of course! Scam artists can simply befriend an employee near the entrance of the building and ask them to hold the door, thereby gaining access into a restricted area. From here, they can steal valuable company secrets and wreak havoc on your IT infrastructure. Though larger enterprises with sophisticated surveillance systems are prepared for these attacks, small- to mid-sized companies are less so.

Quid pro quo

Similar to phishing, quid pro quo attacks offer appealing services or goods in exchange for highly sensitive information. For example, an attacker may offer potential targets free tickets to attend the Olympic games in exchange for their login credentials. Chances are if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Pretexting

Pretexting is another form of social engineering whereby an attacker fabricates a scenario to convince a potential victim into providing access to sensitive data and systems. These types of attacks involve scammers who request personal information from their targets in order to verify their identity. Attackers will usually impersonate co-workers, police, tax authorities, or IT auditors in order to gain their targets’ trust and trick them into divulging company secrets.

The unfortunate reality is that fraudsters and their social engineering tactics are becoming more sophisticated. And with the Olympics underway, individuals and businesses alike should prepare for the oncoming wave of social engineering attacks that threaten our sensitive information. Nevertheless, the best way to avoid these scams is knowing what they are and being critical of every email, pop-up ad, and embedded link that you encounter in the internet.

To find out how you can further protect your business from social engineering attacks, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 17th, 2016

2016August17_Hardware_BWhat part of your computer can be more hands-on than the keyboard? No pun intended. A keyboards is like a lover; you spend time with it, you caress it, and you fight with it. After kissing and making up time and again, it still types at a snail’s pace, and executing simple keyboard commands becomes virtually impossible. If the greatest act of loving someone else is to let go, then love yourself by letting go of your old keyboard and factoring in these four considerations when looking for a new one.

Connectivity

If the internet and computer mouse possess wireless capabilities, why should your keyboard be any different? This is debatable, depending on what exactly you use the keyboard for. Keyboards are normally plug-and-play devices that don’t require additional software installation (excluding certain gaming models); wired models draw power from the USB,eliminating the use of batteries altogether. Gamers tend to prefer wired over wireless because they won’t have to deal with lag and interference issues.

Looking to declutter? Wireless is the way to go. With wireless keyboards, data is transmitted to your PC via one of two primary means: either through an RF connection to a USB receiver or via Bluetooth. They might have their pros and cons, but they significantly reduce the number of cables on your desk while allowing you more flexibility to work -- lie down on the couch and type from across the room. Also, most wireless keyboards connect to the PC via a 2.4-GHz wireless dongle that are also used for cordless phones and Wi-Fi internet. Providing connectivity to multiple devices at once.

Type of Key Switches

This aspect of keyboard design is widely mentioned in reviews, yet many people overlook the importance of the type of switches used for individual keys. Although the intricate mechanisms that hide beneath the keys might not excite you, the difference you feel from each type will. The three main types of key switches include silicone dome, scissor switches, and mechanical switches. For example, keyboards that come with a new desktop PC generally use silicone-dome switches, whereby two dimpled layers of silicone membrane form a grid of rubber bubbles that acts as the switch for each key. This type also requires you to press the key right to the bottom in order for a letter to be typed, gradually diminishing its springiness and responsiveness over time.

Why have the newer laptops and ultrabooks ditched silicone domes for scissor switches instead? Scissor switches add a mechanical stabilizer that provides uniformity. Moreover, under each keycap is a plunger that allows for shorter key travel. This causes scissor-switch keyboards to have a shallow typing feel with enhanced durability when compared with silicone dome switches.

What keyboard enthusiasts can’t get enough of are the mechanical switch keyboards. Their intricacy lies in the spring-loaded sliding keypost beneath each key. Several variations are available, and each provides slightly different sensations or sounds. Mechanical switches generally provide enhanced tactile feedback, having more of the “clickety-clack” sound. Thanks to the sturdy switch mechanisms and durable springs, they last longer and are also easily repairable. Furthermore, each keystroke registers shorter travel, making them ideal for touch typists.

Ergonomics

In order to keep carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive stress injury at bay, keyboards are designed to allow your hands to remain in a neutral position while typing. Not only do ergonomic keyboards provide greater comfort, they also reduce joint and tendon stress, sparing you from relentless inflammation as well as pricey surgical procedures. Ergonomic features range from simple padded wrist-rests to elaborate curved and sloped keyboards.

Standard vs. Gaming Usage

Keyboard usage isn’t limited only to typing. That’s why gaming keyboards are designed for competitive usage, which allows for maximum specialization and control. Some are even customized to fit specific styles of game play, considering exact standards of durability as well as responsiveness. Others may also incorporate pulsing backlight and vibrant color schemes that cater to the gamer aesthetic. Certain premium models utilize high-grade mechanical key switches, sculpted keycaps, and numerous customizable features such as programmable macro commands and tweakable backlight intensity. Gaming keyboards are also equipped with the anti-ghosting feature that allows multiple keystrokes to be registered simultaneously -- something regular keyboards can’t do. Other goodies range from pass-through USB ports to audio connections on the keyboard. This simplifies the process of connecting peripherals to a desktop PC.

It won’t hurt to take some time to see if your current keyboard is delivering. Do not settle for anything but the best. If you need any help or have questions regarding the intricacies of finding the right keyboard, don’t hesitate to mail us or drop us a line. We’re more than happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
August 12th, 2016

2016August12_Productivity_BTheoretically, scheduling meetings should be virtually hassle-free. But in reality, simply agreeing on a mutually compatible time is often an impossible task. On top of hectic schedules, you have different departments that have their own time constraints. What if there was a tool that could take care of all that for you? That’s where Microsoft FindTime comes in. Find out what this tool can do for your next meeting.

Before any meetings take place, you’ll need to download Microsoft FindTime first. Fear not, because this Microsoft Outlook add-in is easily downloadable and is 100 percent free. FindTime was developed to help you and your guests do just that -- find time! Coordinating all attendees’ schedules, FindTime will iron out a time that works for everyone.

Just the thought of having to organize a meeting across your organization can stir up anxiety and elicit a huge sigh... Sigh! Why? On top of handling your own hectic schedule, you’re expected to juggle your attendees’ schedules as well. This would be the moment when telephone calls start to flood in and emails start to go back and forth, rarely heading toward a unified decision.

Bid adieu to all of that with Microsoft FindTime. Simply compose a new email or reply to an existing one and click the New Messaging Poll at the upper right hand corner. From there, choose the attendees, propose a couple tentative meeting times, and let the voting begin! Once a consensus is reached, a confirmation email is automatically sent to everyone attending.

What makes it even easier is that attendees can take a look at the visual summary that tallies all the votes, and who voted for what times. This lets you see what times the majority of people have chosen, giving you a chance to rework your schedule in advance if and when necessary.

Another plus is that to receive a Microsoft FindTime invitation, your friends and family don’t need an email address or even an Internet connection! Participants aren’t required to have Office 365 either; only the organizers need to access Office 365. This means that you can reach out to your friends, loved ones, and colleagues to organize your meetings, set up playdates, and even plan surprise birthday parties -- the possibilities are endless.

For more info about Microsoft FindTime, feel free to send us an email or give us a call! Our experts will gladly answer your questions. We believe that time is money, and money is the last thing you’d want to jeopardize. Allow us to help safeguard your assets by ensuring that all the time you spend on the clock doesn’t go to waste. Every minute counts.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Business
August 10th, 2016

2016August10_Virtualization_BAs difficult as virtualization may be to understand, it continues to march toward widespread adoption. Up until now, the service was mostly limited to making hardware and software resources better allocated based on needs. However, corporate bigwigs AT&T and Verizon are jumping into the game by adding the option to virtualize network services. We’ve broken down the key elements of this service to help you decide whether your SMB could benefit from it.

The overarching theme of virtualization is combining hardware and software resources into one large, communal pool where individual servers and workstations can pull as much as they need, rather than allocating them inefficient individual puddles that either go dry, or unused. In a workstation model, this is realized in the form of minimally equipped endpoints that access much more powerful software and hardware resource pools via web browser.

When it comes to network virtualization, it’s quite similar to virtual private networks, or VPNs. Developments in cloud and software functionalities allow administrators to eliminate time-consuming and micromanaged VPNs while achieving the same swift and secure connections between servers, workstations, and other network-enabled devices residing in physically separate networks. VPNs are like pumps between each of your network ‘puddles,’ individual pieces that require individual maintenance. Network virtualization is like installing one pump with on/off switches on each outbound pipe.

This means that setting up a VPN for the addition of a satellite office is as simple as inputting a few simple pieces of information to gain a world of seemingly local network possibilities. In another example, rather than recabling your office when one department becomes too cumbersome to fit on one switch or hub, connections and protocols can be expanded and redefined by a software client.

With the increasing popularity of any service with the word ‘virtualized’ in it, telecom carriers Verizon and AT&T have begun offering this service to clients. Whether it's because your business has a growing list of locations, or because your local network needs the flexibility to grow swiftly without waiting for costly hardware and software expansions, these services have you covered.

Both Verizon and AT&T will offer three ways to manage your virtualized network: locally, from the cloud, or a hybrid combination of the two. Once you’ve decided on a framework and deployment strategy, make sure to take time with the transition. Established networks are complex and messy ordeals, and it’s better to start migrating those puddles over time rather than all at once. Instead, move them one-by-one so any problems that arise can also be dealt with one-by-one.

Although consumer-level companies like AT&T and Verizon are offering this service, not just anyone can hop on and start getting the most out of a virtualized network. It takes expert configuration, deployment, and most importantly maintenance. With 24/7 coverage of your network, we eat, sleep, and breathe cutting-edge technology. Call us today and we’ll bring your SMB into the age of virtualization.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 5th, 2016

2016August5_Office_BWe all undeniably have hectic schedules, and they’re made even worse with unorganized meetings, impromptu playdates, and unscheduled yoga classes you were forced to attend. In order to move or cancel appointments, you’d generally have to pick up the phone and call someone, which can be a drag. But with Bookings, you can schedule appointments both for work and for play, and effortlessly manage them to ensure that you utilize your time efficiently. In case one isn’t enough, here are four more reasons to give it a go:

Visibility

Bid adieu to the days of scribbling on post-its and frantically going through your schedule to find out where you’re heading for lunch. Microsoft Bookings provides you with a unique webpage that is compatible on both desktops and mobile devices. Here, customers can select times and dates based on current availability -- simply enter contact information and then book it! The system fully automates the process of managing your appointments.

No more rain checks

Microsoft believes that “Businesses can avoid last-minute cancellations by controlling how much advanced notice is required to make a cancellation.” That’s why immediately after making the appointment, a confirmation email is sent to the customer along with a reminder email before the appointment time. The web page also offers a rescheduling service;simply click on the link on the confirmation email and pick a time that you’re more comfortable with.

Synchronization

Once completed, the booking is then synced to a centralized calendar where businesses are given the option to reschedule, cancel or re-assign the appointment to other staff members as they see fit. If you do decide to re-assign it to staff members, Bookings offers a nifty feature known as “split view.” This shows which staff members are booked at which times, and you can compare everyone’s schedules side-by-side. The appointments are synced not only to your calendar, but to the staff members’ calendars as well. Moreover, this versatile system accommodates Office 365, Outlook.com, and even Google Calendar, so users can keep whatever calendaring service they prefer

Double duty

Appointment-setting might be the primary goal of Bookings, but the system can also be utilized to build a company’s customer list. Once customers input their information into the system, it automatically creates contact entries for those customers. The contact card contains personal information such as name, address, phone number, and email addresses. As companies grow, they can add more staff members as well as create additional booking pages for free. Furthermore, staff members aren’t required to have Office 365 subscriptions to be a part of the service.

Efficient tech resources aren’t enough to maintain a successful business anymore; in order to really stand out from competitors, comprehensive appointment management is required. Feel free to give us a call if you need any questions answered or issues addressed We’re more than happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic office
August 4th, 2016

2016August4_HealthcareArticles_BHaving to “check the files” without the aid of computers can be quite cumbersome. In the healthcare industry in particular, patient files are practically libraries unto themselves with medical history, allergies, vaccine status, lab test results, personal statistics, billing info, etc. all kept on record. Thanks to EHR, though, hospital staff don’t have to handle bulging phonebook-sized files anymore.

EHR stands for “Electronic Health Record” and a lot can go into getting your practice ready for one of these data-sharing, network-connected, enterprise-wide information systems.

One of the primary concerns when it comes to the actual physical setup of your EHR system is the computer hardware. You and your IT department - or perhaps a Managed Service Provider (MSP) with experience serving healthcare organizations - will need to assess how users can best connect to the system and then access and input information.

This brings to the forefront the decision about what kind of workstations to install, so let’s have a quick look at the 3 options your team should consider for working in an EHR environment.

Desktops

The first option is to install desktop computers which will be fixed to one location, hardwired, and stationary. Since they’ve been used in business for so long, the main advantages with desktops are that they’re low cost, installation & support are relatively simple, and there are numerous well-established vendors to choose from.

The drawbacks with desktops are that they take up more space than laptop computers, usually require the purchase of additional equipment in order to enable voice- or handwriting-recognition programs, and, since they’re stationary, every room requiring access to the EHR software will require its own workstation.

Laptops

The second option is to employ laptops which give you and your staff more flexibility. The advantages include easy connection to both wireless and traditional local area networks, better maneuverability to allow patients to see onscreen information, and portability should you need to move with the patient from one area of your practice to another.

One distinct disadvantage of using laptops is that they can be quite heavy, especially when carried numerous times throughout the day. Also, in terms of maintenance, repairs tend to be a bit more expensive with laptops, and you may need to send them to an off-site shop to be fixed.

Tablets

Offering even greater mobility than laptops are tablets, which are just as powerful as desktops and laptops but in hip, hi-tech, handy portable form. With tablets, users can move from room to room easily, inputting data with a digital pen as if they were writing on a paper chart or dictating to an application that accurately transcribes speech directly to the patient’s EHR.

The shortcomings associated with using tablets in an EHR setting include the learning curve that comes with new technology, such as writing with a stylus; handwriting programs that may not recognize all medical terminology; touchscreens that are prone to scratches; and the additional costs from either repairing or protecting against damage.

An Electronic Health Records system can provide enormous benefits to your organization by allowing for easier data entry, quicker data recall, and improved data accuracy. So after you’ve gauged interest among your staff, created an EHR budget, organized an EHR leadership team, and established an implementation plan, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of hardware.

If you’re unsure about which direction to go with your EHR workstations, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Healthcare