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March 13th, 2014

WindowsPhone_Mar10_BThe Windows Phone - Microsoft's mobile operating system - is one of the very first platforms to ever power intelligent mobile phones. Considering how strong of an impact it’s brought to the mobile world, it’s no surprise that business owners are slowly shifting to the Windows Phone platform despite how Android and Apple are currently dominating the industry. The features that Windows Phones can offer to the businessmen just makes it impossible to resist buying one.

While there’s a plethora of reasons as to why business owners are moving to the Windows platform, these three powerful ones will give you a good idea of why people are making the shift.

Office apps, Lync and Outlook

Windows Phones have access to a number of Windows apps including the powerful Office suite which can turn your phone into a mobile office. By using the various Microsoft Office apps, you can share, access and edit your office documents all in one place. You can then sync all of the documents to SkyDrive, Office 365, or SharePoint sites after you’re done editing.

Are you a huge fan or avid user of Outlook tasks and calendar? If you are, then you’ll love how you can sync your Outlook tasks with your Windows Phone and have access to all of your messages, tasks and calendars at the touch of a button.

Beyond the core Office apps, there are also apps like Lync which allows for voice and video communication. Using Lync Mobile can be a game changer for your business. You can view your colleague’s availability, chat with individuals or groups through Instant Messaging, all from your phone.

Encryption and security

Viruses, hackers or malware can put you in a lot of trouble if left unchecked. Not only is it a good idea for business owners to make sure that their system is well optimized, they need to also make sure that their security is robust as well.

The Windows Phone has a trusted boot process that ensures only validated software runs, meaning that if software hasn't been validated by Microsoft, it won't be allowed to run. It’s also the only phone with native support for Information Rights Management that you can use for your business to protect critical and sensitive data.

Have you misplaced your phone before? If you answered yes, then you won’t have to worry as much if you misplace your Windows Phone as it has several layers of protection against that.

Here are some of the features that you can use:

  • Password or Pin
  • Remote wipe
  • Tools that you can use to find lost phones included in the Windows Phone management site

Have all of your contacts in one place!

The Windows Phone allows you to see all of your contacts on Hotmail, Messenger, Outlook, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google and all other compatible email accounts. If you’re a Skype user, you can also see your Skype contacts. The neat part is, you can customize your phone to show from which source the contacts are coming from. So if you want only the contacts from Facebook and Skype to display on your phone, you can customize your phone to show just that and disable the other sources like LinkedIn etc.

Once you tap a name, you can then see a consolidated contact card showing all of the information you have about that specific contact. This includes all the methods to communicate, conversations, recent calls and even their social media activity.

This feature is especially helpful when building relationships with thought leaders and the influencers in your niche. You can easily be updated on what they’re doing giving you some more insight on how you can implement their techniques in your business. Using this to study your competition’s activities is another effective way of using this feature for your business.

A lot of business owners are shifting to the Windows Phone platform and they’re right in doing so. The features mentioned above can give an advantage over the competition and help boost business to greater heights. And the best part is - we’re just on the tip of the iceberg with all the features that Windows Phones have to offer.

Do you want to know more?

If you want to know more about how you can use your Windows Phone to better your business, then give us a call now and we’ll help you.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 13th, 2014

AndroidPhone_Mar10_BThe smartphone is really more mobile computer than actual phone, especially with the ever increasing number of apps and features available on many models. That being said, they are still the main communication tool for people. Many businesses rely on the SMS or text, and with Android phones, especially new ones, it may be tough to figure out where exactly you can find these messages.

On the vast majority of Android devices there is more than one app that supports text messages. Here is an overview of the apps and how you can find text messages on your Android device.

The stock 'Messages' app

On almost all Android devices, especially those that use what's called an overlay (the device manufacturer's take on Android), there is the stock Messages app. When you first set up your phone, this is the app that will allow you to view and send messages by default.

Most devices already have a shortcut to this app on your device's home screen, usually in the drawer at the bottom of the screen. It usually looks like a speech bubble or an envelope with the words Messaging below it.

  1. Tapping on this app will open your text messages allowing you to read, send and reply to any messages. If you can't find this app, try:
  2. Clicking on the Apps icon on the bottom of your phone. It is usually represented by two rows of grey dots.
  3. Looking through the apps that come up. You are looking for an app with any of the icons listed above, or is called Messaging or SMS.
  4. Tapping on the app once you find it.
If you like, you can press on the app's icon for a second or two and then drag it to your device's Home Screen in order to place a shortcut there.

Google Hangouts

On new Google Nexus devices - especially the Nexus 5 - you probably won't find a messaging app. That is because Google has eliminated it, instead turning Google Hangouts into the new text messaging app.

Hangouts started as the instant messaging platform of Google+ and was then introduced as the new version of Google Chat, and finally the messaging platform on Google devices. In other words, Google Hangouts is the one app for instant messaging and texts across Google's platforms.

If you have the Hangouts app installed on your device, your text messages should show up when you open it. If you can't find your messages/would like to use Hangouts as your SMS app you can do so by:

  1. Opening Hangouts and signing in (if you need to) using your Google account.
  2. Pressing the three vertical squares at the top-right of the screen.
  3. Selecting Settings followed by SMS.
  4. Tapping on SMS Enabled followed by Default SMS app in the window that opens.
  5. Selecting Hangouts.
Your text messages should show up within a few seconds in the main hangouts messaging screen.

Which should I use?

This is a question some users have asked, as it can be slightly confusing as to which app they should be using. The true answer to the question is either! The stock apps, and Hangouts both offer full text messaging capabilities, it really comes down to which you prefer. Some apps present SMS messages in a clear and easy to read manner which some people prefer over Hangouts, while Hangouts is preferred by others, especially Google users.

If you are looking to learn more about the features of your Android phone, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 12th, 2014

Facebook_Mar10_BFacebook is well known as a company that embraces change, introducing them on a regular basis. Many of these changes are often related to the Terms of Use or other policies Facebook has for users. Over the past few months, the company has integrated a number of changes to the Pages policy, more specifically to the Promotions section. It is these changes that businesses should know about.

Background on Facebook Promotions

Business that have Facebook profiles orient the majority of their activity around their Page. Much like a user's profile this is where all the content and information about and from the business is posted. When business Pages were first launched many companies started to join and run promotions, often to the point of spamming or at least annoying users.

To curb this, Facebook implemented a series of regulations as to how companies can run promotions. Break these regulations and you could see your posts and content punished in the form of showing up lower on user's News Feeds, or not at all. This is obviously something many companies don't want, so it would be a good idea to keep up with the rules supporting how you can use the platform for promotions.

The problem with this is that it's easier said than done especially since Facebook is known to change regulations on a regular basis, often making it hard for businesses to know whether the promotion they are running meets regulations or not. In recent months, Facebook has actually changed their Page guidelines around promotions, actually eliminating some that you should be aware of. Below are four of the old guidelines along with the recent changes made.

Old guideline 1: Promotions on Facebook must be administered within Apps on Facebook.com, either on a Canvas Page or a Page App.

This guideline meant that if you wanted to run a promotion, you had to use an app from facebook.com, usually on your Page. Facebook dropped this rule in the summer of 2013, and now allows businesses to use third party apps (not developed by Facebook) to host a promotion on their Timeline.

Old guideline 2: You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.

This guideline stated that you could not have a promotion where people can enter by using Facebook features, for example liking a post or commenting on it. With the removal of this guideline, you can now encourage people to enter a promotion by liking a post or commenting on it.

You can't however ask your fans to enter a contest by sharing the promotion on their timeline.

Old guideline 3: You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.

In conjunction with the change above, Facebook had to also allow users to vote using the established features. The most common example of this is a promotion that encourages users to comment which counts as an entry. Then others vote on the comment they like by pressing Like. The comment with the most likes at the end of the promotion wins.

Old guideline 4: You must not notify winners through Facebook, such as through Facebook messages, chat, or posts on profiles (timelines) or Pages.

This has been removed and Facebook is now allowing businesses to contact promotion winners through a status update or a direct message. You can also use other methods such as direct email, an update on a blog or even another social media service like Twitter.

While Facebook has removed some of the guidelines, they didn't get rid of all of them. It would be a good idea to read their guidelines for Facebook Pages which cover not only how to use promotions but your Page properly.

If you are looking to learn more about using Facebook as a part of your marketing strategy or to represent your business, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 12th, 2014

Windows_Mar10_BSo we’ve all heard about how amazing keyboard shortcuts are and how they can help you with accessing your apps in a snap, right? But the question is, are we using them? An even better question would be, how do you create keyboard shortcuts to open apps on our desktop? This article details the steps to creating keyboard shortcuts to open apps on your Windows 7 and 8 desktop.

These steps will help you create keyboard shortcuts which allow you to open apps on your Windows 7 or 8 desktop.

Windows 7

  • Right click on the desktop shortcut of the application.
  • Click Properties and a popup will appear.
  • Click the Shortcut tab.
  • Scroll to the section where it says Shortcut key. Enter a Shortcut key followed by a combination. They key combination should either be ctrl + alt + a number or a letter OR ctrl + shift + a number or a letter.
  • Click the Apply button on the lower right part of the popup box.
Once you have established the shortcut, go to your desktop and give it a try. Be sure that when you establish the shortcut you take note of the key strokes in the section. If you want to use another key aside from Ctrl, press it instead. We recommend Shift or Alt.

Windows 8

  • Go to the start menu
  • Right click and a menu at the bottom will appear. Click the Start Apps button on the lower right part of the page.
  • Right click on the app that you want to assign a keyboard shortcut to and click Open File Location from the menu at the bottom.
  • Right click the shortcut and select Properties.
  • Enter a combo key in the Shortcut Key box. They key combination should either be ctrl + alt + a number or a letter OR ctrl + shift + a number or a letter.
  • Click the Ok button to assign the shortcut.
Keyboard shortcuts used to open programs may not seem to be a big deal to some, but for business owners, knowing these simple tricks can help us focus on the more important things like growing our business.

If you have keyboard shortcuts or tricks for Windows 7 and 8 that you find very useful, please share them in the comments section below.

You can also call or email us for any inquiries, we’d be more than happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 12th, 2014

Imagine walking into your office one morning to discover your computer network was breached by a hacker, exposing not only YOUR company’s data, but also your clients’. Imagine the embarrassment of having to notify your clients that, because of you, their personal information may now be in the hands of cyber-criminals. And hopefully that’s the only damage done

     Operations could be halted or severely limited for days, possibly weeks. Your data corrupt to the point of being useless. Clients lost. Potential lawsuits and government fines for violating data-breach laws. The exorbitant emergency IT fees to get everything restored to working order fast. Then there’s the risk of your bank account being drained dry – and because you’re a business, you are NOT protected by the banks in the same way individual consumers are.

You’re At Greater Risk Than You Think

     With St. Patrick’s Day this month, I want to take a moment to remind you that just because you’ve been “lucky” enough to avoid an incident like this in the past doesn’t mean you’re not at risk – in fact, that’s exactly what cyber-criminals want you to think.

 

     That’s why I’d like to offer you a FREE comprehensive Cyber-Security IT Audit that will reveal your exact risk score on over 7 common security loopholes cyber-criminals use on a regular basis to get around firewalls and antivirus software to gain entry to your computer network. Normally we charge $397 for this service, but we’ve decided to give it away to the first 5 companies who request it before March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day). All you have to do is call our office at 203-268-5947 x101 or go online to www.CrestviewIT.com to find out more details.

March 7th, 2014

Productivity_Mar03_BWhen it comes to productivity, many business owners rely on to-do lists. However, writing an effective to-do list can be quite a challenging task. Though a lot of people jot down their tasks for the day or week ahead they don't always fully realize the benefits of their list because it is either poorly crafted or even missing items. The result is decreased effectiveness. Hopefully our tips will help you create an effective way forward to boost productivity.

Here are 5 tips which will help you devise an effective to-do list:

Add a notes section

A notes section is a general area for all the tasks in your to-do list. Its main purpose is to provide you with space to add notes about your tasks. Or, instead you can use this area to type in challenges that you encountered when handling specific tasks.

On the flip side, it could also contain the best practices that you employed which enabled you to finish the task effectively and efficiently. These notes are important because by revisiting these jottings you can learn from them and be better able to optimize your way of doing things and your approach.

Prioritize

Ignoring client meetings because you're supposed to be fixing your cabinet, for example, based on what’s written in your to-do list, is a sure fire way of negatively impacting your business.

Your to-do list needs to be devised in such a way that there is a clear sense of priority. The most important tasks should be added to the top most part of your list just to make sure that you don’t miss these and they are tackled and completed first.

Break down your tasks to bite-size activities

Can you imagine writing down 'work' in your to-do list? Having a to-do list with broad topics like this won’t help you in the slightest bit.

You need to break down your lists into more specific tasks so that they provide the clarity that you need to achieve. Here’s a good example of a well-constructed list:

  1. Send 20 outreach emails to prospects.
  2. Discuss with the team the concept of having a systems' mindset.
  3. Review the offer of client X and decide whether to accept it or not.
Notice how the examples above are more tangible compared to simply writing down 'work'? With a list like the one above, you should be able to comfortably tick each task with a clear idea of when it has been completed.

Add a deadline whenever possible

Adding a deadline helps you gauge your output. By being able to see whether you’re lagging behind you can make any necessary changes.

A deadline also prevents you from procrastinating since you’ll be more conscious of time and a definitive end point.

Be realistic

Adding a week's worth of tasks to your daily to-do list will just discourage and frustrate you. Be as realistic as you can when writing up your list. If you honestly think that you can’t finish all of the tasks within one day, then add some of them to the next. That way you won’t be frustrated with a long list of tasks that you haven’t completed at the end of each day.

If you are faced with productivity issues and are struggling to get the kind of output you're hoping for in your business, then put giving us a call at the top of your to-do list.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
March 7th, 2014

Recently, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of local businesses suffering significant financial and productivity losses due to employees inappropriately using their Internet access during work hours – and much of this is fueled by social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube. Studies have shown that between 60 and 80 percent of people’s time on the Internet at work has nothing to do with work!

     What makes this situation so dangerous is that the majority of business owners don’t even realize that it’s going on until it’s too late. By then they have found themselves in the middle of a costly and embarrassing lawsuit because an employee posted something inappropriate online OR downloaded a virus.

     In other cases, the owner NEVER finds out, but is inadvertently losing THOUSANDS of dollars because employees are spending 2-3 hours a day to goof off online – and you’re footing the bill.

     And age of the employee doesn’t affect an employee’s ability to waste time on the Internet. Older employees do things like managing their finances while younger employees check social media.

A Company Internet Policy Is NOT Enough

     A recent study showed that the presence of a strong Internet policy at work was not enough to curb activity, as many employees don’t think it’s wrong to surf the web and a policy was not going to change their minds. Unfortunately, the only way to curb this activity is not only to threaten consequences, but to actually take action and reprimand employees.

     Our Free Internet and E-mail Usage Audit gives you the answers to whether you have a problem on your hands. Schedule your Internet and E-mail Usage Audit today by calling our office at 203-268-5947×101.

 

 

March 6th, 2014

VoIP_Mar03_BIt’s widely known how the benefits of having a VoIP system greatly outweigh the costs or of simply not having one. Not only are you able to utilize the great variety of features that it offers, but the fees are also usually very manageable too. The only question many have regarding VoIP is, whether they are getting the best system.

Consider these tips when choosing a VoIP system and you'll stand a much better chance of ending up with the best one for your business:

The cheapest ones aren’t always the best

Just like bidding for projects, you need to be wary of those systems that offer full services at incredibly low prices. Don’t be tempted with how low the fee might be, as in the long run, you might end-up with a system you're not happy with. You don't want dissatisfied customers because they won't be able to reach you, or a system that's not a good fit for your business.

A good way of going about this is to test the service to see if the quality is in fact on a par with what you’re looking for. Another factor to consider is how seamlessly the new VoIP system will integrate with your business

Think about what your phone system’s key roles are

When you have a clear idea of the “what”, your “how”, “when” and “whom” will be a lot easier to determine. This is where you determine what kind of features you’ll need your VoIP system to have. Consider whether you need voicemail, auto-attendant or voicemail to email capabilities (among many others). Once you have a clear picture of what you need, you’ll have a better idea of which package or provider to obtain your VoIP system from.

Review different packages

There are many packages that are packed with features, making them seem incredibly appealing. Don’t get carried away with how seemingly amazing these packages are though. Instead, focus on what your business needs are and stay within the bounds of these demands. There is no point in having unlimited calls to Canada or other countries when your customers are based in the US, for example.

Look for excellent customer support with an almost zero downtime record

Regardless of how seemingly perfect and tailor-made your system is to your business, if you’re experiencing a lot of downtime from your provider it just isn’t going to work. You need to do a background check on your provider to make sure that their system has a near zero downtime.

Another factor to look into is their customer support. You’ll always encounter situations where you have a question about the system, such as a technical issue or maybe even to ask about upgrades. In cases like these, your provider must have an excellent customer service so you know that your questions and issues are going to be dealt with properly and quickly.

Work out what the real costs are

Don’t just think about the package that’s being sold, think about the equipment you’ll need and the manpower needed to get the system up and running. As your company grows, you’ll have to add more users to your system too. You have to think about the costs relating to upgrades and purchasing add-ons.

If you only consider the upfront payment and neglect the upgrades, maintenance, and any other factors of operating with a VoIP system, chances are you might end-up spending more than expected.

If you are looking for the perfect VoIP system, then we can help. Contact us now for our expert advice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic VoIP General
March 6th, 2014

Security_May03_BEnsuring the security of your systems and computers can sometimes seem like a full time job and an uphill battle, especially with the increasing number of security issues being discovered. From bugs in software to malware, there is almost always some attack challenging the system security and potentially leading to a security breach. The other week a number of articles highlighted a bug in Apple's systems that poses a potential security flaw.

About the bug

News broke on many security websites mid-February about a potentially critical security flaw in Apple's systems following the company releasing an update to their mobile operating system, iOS.

The update notes released by Apple noted that the patch "provides a fix for SSL connection verification." This is a fairly common update as it is aimed at improving the security of communications between websites and the device. However, security experts found out that without the update attackers who can connect to a network are able to capture sensitive information being sent in banking sessions, email messages, and even chat messages using what's called an SSL/TSL session.

What exactly is SSL/TSL?

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TSL) are used in networks to essentially establish an encrypted link between a server and your computer. They are most commonly used to secure websites and the transmission of data. Take a look at some websites and you may see a padlock on the URL bar, or https:// in the URL. This indicates that the website is using SSL or TSL encryption to protect the data that is being transmitted e.g., your bank account information on a website.

In other words, SSL and TSL are used to ensure that information is exchanged securely over the Internet.

What was the problem and what software was affected?

It was found that there was a bug in the code Apple's software uses to establish a SSL connection which causes the whole SSL system to fail, potentially exposing data that should have been encrypted to anyone connected to the network with the right tools.

According to security experts, this bug has been found to affect devices running older versions of iOS 7, OS X 10.8 and newer, Apple TV, and possibly iOS 6. It is important to note that the bug is only found in Apple's SSL technology. Any app that uses Apple's version of SSL could be affected.

Has Apple solved this?

Luckily, Apple has released updates to all of their devices that should solve this security exploit. If you have not updated your device or computer since the middle of February you could be at risk.

How do I prevent my systems from being affected?

The first thing you should do is to update all Apple related apps and devices, including all mobile devices. If you are unsure about whether your apps are secure enough, try using another app, especially another browser. The reason for this is because browsers like Chrome and Firefox all use a different SSL technology and are unaffected by this bug.

You should also remain vigilant and not connect to any open or public Wi-Fi connections or even secured Internet connections that could be easy to break through. Basically, as long as you update you should be fine. However, it may be worthwhile using another browser if you are really worried about whether you have a secure connection.

If you are looking to learn more about this security flaw, or how you can secure your business from threats like this, contact us today. We can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
March 5th, 2014

iPhone_Mar03_BWhether it’s for business reasons or your own personal daily tasks, knowing how to take screenshots with your iPhone can be really useful. If you’re one of the many people who aren’t familiar with how to do this, then we'd like to teach you how. You can also learn about how you can really benefit from this feature.

How exactly do I take screenshots on my iPhone?

To start taking screenshots just follow these simple steps:
  1. Hold down the lock button at the top of your iPhone.
  2. Double tap your home button as you hold the lock button down. You should see the device snap a picture of your screen.
  3. Open your camera roll by going to the home screen and tapping on your photo gallery, and you should see the image there.

How are screenshots useful?

There are several benefits of taking screenshots, but here are just a few:

Product reviews

If you have a product, or are looking to share a review about one that you have downloaded to your phone, take a screenshot of it so that you can use this to greatly enhance your product reviews. This works best for something on your phone that can be hard to capture by a camera.

For example, if you own a product (like software or a mobile app) and your team put a lot of effort into improving its UX (user experience), simply describing it in text won’t justify how amazing your product really is. You can take screenshots of the open app so readers can better appreciate the qualities of your product.

Tutorials

Aside from videos, what better way to demonstrate tutorials than using screenshots and combining these with descriptive texts.

An example might be teaching an employee how to send an email on their iPhone. Can you imagine creating a tutorial on that with text alone? Imagine the difference if you have screenshots along with this texts.

Highlighting something

If you are reviewing a document or image on your phone and would like to highlight a problem or point that you see on the screen, try taking a screenshot and attaching it to an email where you describe what you are seeing and the changes. This helps the recipient visually see what you see and maybe even fix it.

Troubleshooting or showing errors.

Instead of writing down any problems you’re seeing on your iPhone and describing it to your support team through text, wouldn’t it be much better for both parties if you showed them a screenshot of the error?

Not only can this save time but it also zeroes out the chances of misinterpretations or false assumptions, since your support team can see the actual error themselves.

Contact us if you have any inquiries or even suggestions. We look forward to hearing from you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone