Blog

August 28th, 2014

socialmedia_Aug26_AHave you ever looked at images and visuals posted by businesses and users on Instagram? While many users take photos using their mobile devices, there are many images that simply look way too good to be taken with a phone camera, especially the ones without filters. Many business owners want to know how they too can take quality images like these too.

The truth behind some of Instagram's best images

Those awesome Instagram photos we see aren't always taken using mobile phones. Instead, many users use digital cameras which offer much better image quality. You can capture some amazing shots with a higher end DSLR cameras with multiple lenses.

If you have one of these cameras and are looking to create high-quality images for Instagram, or any other social media site, you may be slightly confused as to how to get the images onto the platform - especially since many of us use this via the mobile app. To make uploading a little easier, here is a brief guide detailing how to get images from your digital camera onto Instagram.

1. Transfer and process images

Once you have taken photos with your camera, you will need to get them off of your camera's memory and onto your computer's hard drive. Most camera's have apps that allow you to do this, so be sure to follow the instructions in the app that came with it.

When your images have been transferred to your computer, you are likely going to want to process them a little bit. This is especially true if you have a DSLR or other high-end point-and-shoot which takes RAW images. These can be quite large and are not compatible with Instagram.

Most images taken with a camera are quite large in size, so you are going to need to use an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop, or free tools like Pixlr to process them. What you are looking to do is to crop your images so that they are square.

If you are used to the advanced photo editing features, then do your edits before cropping. When you crop your images you should crop or resize them so that they are 640X640 pixels. This is the size of all images taken using Instagram's camera app.

Also, be sure to save the images as JPEGs, as this is the image format used by most smartphone cameras.

2. Save processed images in their own folder

It helps to create a folder somewhere on your hard drive (we recommend in the same folder where you save all of your other folders) that is specifically for images you want to post on Instagram.

When you have processed and edited the images to your liking, save the images here. Try using an easy to use file name like the date and a letter or note so you can easily tell which images are which, so you know which to use.

3. Move the images to your device

You can move images using the cloud or by manually transferring the images to your phone. If you decide to manually transfer your files, you will need to plug your device into your computer.

For users with iPhones, you can open iTunes and click on your device followed by Photos. Then select the box beside Sync photos from. Select the file you created in the step above and then Sync to transfer the images over.

For users with Android devices, plug your phone into the computer and drag the folder you created in the step above into the Photos folder of your Android device.

For Windows Phone users, plug your device into your computer and open My Computer on your desktop. You should see your device listed in the window that opens. Open the file system for your device and drag the image files you created above into the Photos folder of your phone.

If you choose to use the cloud to transfer your files, use the operating system's cloud (e.g., iCloud, Google Drive, or OneDrive) to upload the files. Just be sure to use the same account as the one on your phone.

4. Add images to Instagram

Once the photos are either on your device, or in the cloud, you can now upload them to Instagram. This can be done by:
  1. Opening the app and tapping on the camera icon.
  2. Tapping on the button in the bottom left of the screen.
  3. Selecting where the image is located on your device. E.g., the Gallery app if you placed the photos in your phone's hard drive, or the cloud service you used.
  4. Editing them as you see fit.
Once this is complete, you should be able to post your images as you usually do with any other Instagram image on your phone. Take the time to add filters, and hashtags as well as a good description before you post.

If you would like to learn more about using Instagram to share your images then get in touch and we will show you the advantages of the bigger picture.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 28th, 2014

office365_Aug26_AAs a manager or business owner the chances are good that you spend a fair amount of time editing or compiling documents your employees have created. Many of us use ever popular Microsoft Word to do this, especially when it comes to writing reports or other content. A common issue you may run across when editing is overtype. While this might be your preference, you may also inadvertently toggle it, so it helps to be aware of this function.

Word's two editing styles

Every version of Word used in businesses these days has the same two editing styles or modes:
  1. Insert mode: This is the default editing mode where words are inserted where the blinking cursor is placed. All text that comes to the right of the cursor will be moved to the right with newly typed text coming before it.
  2. Overtype mode: This mode replaces text to the right of the blinking cursor. So when you type new text any existing text to the immediate right will be replaced with the new letters.
While the vast majority of users prefer to use insert mode, overtype mode can be useful when editing documents and replacing words, or rewording paragraphs and keeping track of what needs to be rewritten.

Turning overtype on and off

On some older versions of Word, and on some computers, overtype mode is already enabled, and simply hitting Insert on the numberpad of your keyboard will turn it on. You will know overtype is active by looking at the status bar at the bottom of your document. The words OVR should be visible in bold letters.

If you don't see a status bar, try clicking on File > Preferences > View. Once in the View window, scroll down to the Windows section and tick Status Bar. Finally, press Ok and the bar should pop up at the bottom of the window.

Managing overtype

If you find that overtype cannot be activated, or have received a document where it is already activated and can't figure out how to turn it off, you can manage overtype by:
  1. Right clicking on the status bar at the bottom of the document.
  2. Clicking on Overtype to add it to the status bar.
  3. Clicking on OVR in the status bar to turn it on or off.
You can also activate or deactivate overtype by:
  1. Clicking on File followed by Options.
  2. Selecting Advanced.
  3. Scrolling down to Editing options.
  4. Ticking or unticking Use overtype mode.
If you untick Use overtype mode you will disable the feature, meaning you won't be able to hit Insert to switch between the two editing modes.

Looking to learn more about using Word in your office? Contact us today as we specialize in this area and have great tips, advice and solutions for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 26th, 2014

Security_Aug18_AIt seems like nearly every week, and in some cases nearly every day, there is some security breach announced. The vast majority of these assaults tend to revolve around online user accounts, where password, account information, and even usernames are stolen. Over the years, there has been a general trend where the number of accounts breached or compromised is growing, and in early August news broke about possibly the biggest breach to date.

The latest big-scale breach

In early August, it emerged that a Russian hacker ring had amassed what is believed to be the biggest known collection of stolen account credentials. The numbers include around 1.2 billion username and password combinations, and over 500 million email addresses.

According to Hold Security, the company that uncovered these records, the information comes from around 420,000 sites. What is particularly interesting about this particular attack is that such a wide variety of sites were targeted when compared this with other attacks which tend to either attack large brand names or smaller related sites.

How did this happen?

Despite what many believe, this was not a one-time mass attack; all sites that were compromised were not attacked at the same time. Instead, the hacker ring - called the Cyber Vor - was likely working on amassing this data over months or longer. How they were able to amass this much information is through what's called a botnet.

Botnets are a group of computers infected by hackers. When the hackers establish a botnet, they attack computers with weak network security and try to infect them with malware that allows the hacker to control the computer. If successful, users won't even know their computer has been hacked and is being used by hackers.

Once this botnet is established, the hackers essentially tell the computers to try to contact websites to test the security. In this recent case, the computers were looking to see if the websites were vulnerable to a SQL injunction. This is where hackers tell the computers in the botnet to look for fillable sections on sites like comment boxes, search boxes, etc. and input a certain code asking the website's database to list the stored information related to that box.

If the Web developer has restricted the characters allowed in the fillable text boxes, then the code likely would not have worked. The botnet would notice this, and then move onto the next site. However, if the code works, the botnet notes this and essentially alerts the hacker who can then go to work collecting the data.

So, is this serious and what can I do?

In short, this could be a fairly serious problem. While 420,000 sites may seem like a large number, keep in mind that the Internet is made up of billions of websites. This means that the chances of your website's data being breached by this ring are small. That being said, there is probably a good chance that one of the sites related to your website may have been breached.

So, it is a cause for concern. However, you can limit the chance of hackers gaining access to your information and a website's information.

1. Change all of your passwords

It seems like we say this about once a month, but this time you really should heed this warning. With 1.2 billion username and password combinations out there, there is a chance your user name for at least one account or site has been breached.

To be safe, change all of your passwords. This also includes passwords on your computer, mobile devices, and any online accounts - don't forget your website's back end, or hosting service. It is a pain to do, but this is essential if you want to ensure your data and your website is secure from this attack.

2. Make each password different

We can't stress this enough, so, while you are resetting your password you should aim to ensure that you use a different one for each account, site, and device. It will be tough to remember all of these passwords, so a manager like LastPass could help. Or, you could develop your own algorithm or saying that can be easily changed for each site. For example, the first letter of each word of a favorite saying, plus the first and last letter of the site/account, plus a number sequence could work.

3. Test your website for SQL injunctions

If you have a website, you are going to want to test all text boxes to see if they are secure against SQL injunctions. This can be tough to do by yourself, so it's best to contact a security expert like us who can help you execute these tests and then plug any holes should they be found.

4. Audit all of your online information

Finally, look at the information you have stored with your accounts. This includes names, addresses, postal/zip codes, credit card information, etc. You should only have the essential information stored and nothing else. Take for example websites like Amazon. While they are secure, many people have their credit card and billing information stored for easy shopping. If your account is hacked, there is a good chance hackers will be able to get hold of your card number.

5. Contact us for help

Finally, if you are unsure about the security of your accounts, business systems, and website, contact us today to see how our security experts can help ensure your vital data is safe and sound.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
August 25th, 2014

Bora Bora

Bora Bora, the most beautiful island in French Polynesia – perhaps the entire South Pacific and maybe even the world – does not disappoint.

Simply arriving here by air (via a 45-minute flight from the international airport in Papeete) is a breathtaking thrill as the island’s towering jagged green peak, Mt. Otemanu, appears on the horizon, surrounded on all sides by the clearest, most captivating blue lagoon imaginable. It’s not just one shade of blue, but dozens, probably even hundreds. It is a sight one does not easily, if ever, forget.

The most photographed and written-about of Tahiti’s islands, Bora Bora has surged in popularity over the past two decades, resulting in a flurry of luxury resort development (which bordered on over-development, but building has now subsided after the boom years of 2003-2008).

From the air you can clearly spot Bora Bora’s resorts, with their long wooden walkways lined with thatched-roof overwater bungalows extending out over the lagoon.

Upon arrival, you’ll be whisked to your tropical enclave via boat (the airport and most resorts are located on small, sandy islets called motus) to begin what will certainly be one of the most relaxing and exhilarating vacations you’ll ever take – truly a trip of a lifetime.

From its pristine white-sand beaches to its tropical-fish-packed lagoons, Bora Bora’s natural splendors have enthralled visitors for centuries (from sailors to painters to poets) and vacationers (especially honeymooners) since the first overwater bungalows appeared more than 40 years ago.

Topic Articles
August 24th, 2014


Continental’s Augmented Reality HUD puts information on the road

Capture

Displaying your speed on the windshield can be handy for keeping under the speed limit, but Continental is taking things to the next level with its Augmented Reality Head-up Display (AR-HUD) prototype. In addition to showing your current speed, the system can overlay information on the road specifically where it is most relevant to the driver, such as the distance to the car in front, when to make a turn, or even upcoming driving conditions.

The system draws data from the vehicle’s camera and radar and combines it with the vehicle’s dynamics data, digital maps and GPS positioning, which is used to create a model of the external view of the car as seen from the driver’s perspective. This allows the system to project the augmented information onto the windscreen at the correct visual point for the driver.

Continental is planning to have a production-ready version of its AR-HUD available in 2017 for purchase by automakers for incorporation in their production model vehicles.

Topic Articles
August 23rd, 2014

Productivity_Aug18_AThese days many of us have integrated various apps and programs on our computers and mobile devices into our daily lives. The problem many of us face, however, is that apps and programs are all different and many don't work all that well together, so we need to take time to transfer information or even share the same content. To make things easier, there is a great app called If This Then That (IFTTT), that could help make your devices just that much smarter.

What is If This Then That?

IFTTT is a Web and mobile app that was developed to connect different Web apps like Google Apps, DropBox, Facebook, Instagram, etc, together into one general system. In general, the service runs on conditional statements - or recipes - that fit the IFTTT statement.

The service is set up on a number of different conditional statements that make up what the developers of the app call a recipe. Each recipe is broken down into two different sections:

  • This - Also referred to as a trigger. Each trigger in a recipe is kind of like a requirement in that the set trigger has to happen for the recipe to start working.
  • That - That refers to an action that happens when a 'this' condition is triggered.
Once you have set up a number of recipes, the app runs in the background to check for triggers and then will automatically execute the action when it notices a trigger.

Examples of IFTTT recipes

There are a wide variety of recipes out there that you can create. For example, some of the more useful IFTTT recipes for businesses include:
  • If a photo is posted on the business Instagram account, then it is shared with Twitter and Facebook.
  • If a Square payment is processed, then this creates a line in a specific spreadsheet.
  • If a contact is added to a phone's address book, then this information is placed on Evernote.
  • If an article is posted on a specific blog, then the post is shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
  • If an email is starred on Gmail, then a reminder is set on my phone to review starred emails.
  • If I enter the office, then my phone is muted.
  • If a client emails an attachment, then a copy is saved to DropBox.
  • If my device is in the office, then my office lights are turned on (if you have Phillips Hue bulbs).
There are a wide variety of supported apps that allow you to create recipes for nearly anything you can think of. The developers are constantly adding support for new channels (apps), including many from the Internet of Things.

How to sign up for this

Because you can access IFTTT from the Web and via an app on your mobile device, we recommend first thinking about how you are going to use it. If you are going to be using recipes for your mobile device, then we recommend downloading the app onto your device. Regardless of how you are going to use it, you can create an account by:
  1. Going to the IFTTT website (https://ifttt.com/)
  2. Clicking Join IFTTT.
  3. Setting a username and password and clicking Create account.
From there, you will be able to log in and start creating rules. If you do want to use your mobile device, you should then download the free app for your device - Windows Phone, Android, iPhone - and then log in using the account information you just created. When you first log in you should see a number of channels (apps) related to your system have been activated. This means you can now start creating recipes.

Creating recipes from your browser

  1. Go to the IFTTT website (https://ifttt.com/) and press Sign in.
  2. Press Create.
  3. Press This and select your trigger - try picking your app first, then click on it to get a list of actions.
  4. Press Create Trigger.
  5. Click That and select an action channel.
  6. Select Create Recipe.
You can also click Browse from the menu bar at the top to find and activate already created recipes.

Creating recipes from your mobile device

  1. Open the app.
  2. Press the mortar and pestle icon at the top-right.
  3. Press the + followed by the + besides If on the next screen.
  4. Select the app from the icons at the top of the screen, and select the related trigger.
  5. Tap the + beside Then and select an action or app.
  6. Press Finish to activate the new recipe.
If you are looking for a cool way to connect different apps, and even save yourself time, then this could be something worth looking into. And, if you are looking to learn more about how you can increase your productivity, contact us today to see how our systems can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
August 22nd, 2014

BValue_Aug18_AIn many countries around the world, businesses are required to meet the needs of all employees. For able-bodied employees, one system will usually be able to meet needs, but disabled employees may have different requirements. Therefore, businesses should ensure that they develop an accessible technology plan.

What is accessible technology?

Accessible technology, also commonly referred to as assistive technology, is the idea of creating or implementing technology and systems that cater to employees with disabilities. While not every company will have or require accessible technology, it is required by many countries that businesses meet the needs of disabled employees.

To that end, it is a good idea to develop a plan on how to implement accessible technology. To help, here are five steps you could take:

1. Defining your strategy

The accessible technology strategy should be the first thing you develop as it will be the foundation of the overall plan. When looking at your strategy you should define how accessible technology fits into your overall organization plan and how it will fit with your existing strategies.

What you are looking to do is to figure out how this form of technology will fit with existing systems and increase overall operating effectiveness. From here, you can define the overall objectives, budget, and vision for the plan.

2. Identifying requirements

In this step, you should look closely at existing technology in the organization and the needs of your employees. Because each company is different and the needs of employees are different you should be careful to also identify the technology needs of your employees.

When looking at both the needs and existing systems you can work to come up with an overall set of requirements, along with a general priority. For example, will you need to modify existing computers or purchase new ones?

The key idea here is that you need to figure out exactly what you need.

3. Picking the new technology

Once you have identified what changes you need to implement, what new technology you will need, and your budget, you can then begin looking for the best solutions. The most effective way to do this is to work with it experts like us who can help you find and integrate the best technology and changes that will meet your adaptive technology needs.

4. Implementing and training

Once you have defined the changes, and new technology to integrate, you need to implement it. This may include altering physical devices and machines where necessary, and then testing the systems to make sure they are working properly.

It is also be a good idea to train your employees who will be using the systems, and the team who will be managing the systems.

5. Maintaining

As with all tech systems, it is important to realize that the solution you implement will not work forever, and will eventually require maintenance, updating, or even replacing. You should take steps to audit systems on a regular basis to ensure they are still meet the needs of your company and employees.

This can be a time consuming and potentially costly step, especially if you neglect it. We strongly recommend working with a company like ours, who can help manage your solution and ensure that updates and any necessary changes are implemented when they are needed, and that should needs change, systems are subsequently updated to meet the new requirements.

If you are looking to implement accessible technology in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 21st, 2014

iPhone_Aug18_AFor many years people have been turning to their smartphones, like the iPhone, to store important contact information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. But the fact is, people move and change their numbers all the time. Relying solely on your smartphone as a memory bank for your contacts can be risky - you could lose it all if your phone breaks or gets stolen too. With that in mind, isn’t it time you started keeping your iPhone’s address book secure and up-to-date with some essential apps?

Five essential apps to boost your iPhone address book’s capabilities:

  1. Contacts+ (Free): This app lets you sort contacts into groups and import personal information from Facebook and LinkedIn. A quick tap lets you jump to a contact’s social networking profile, or even map a live route to their home or office. It also adds birthdays to your contact list.
  2. Sync.ME (Free): Sync.ME brings widgets to your iPhone’s Contacts app, adding a powerful set of tools that let you do everything from capturing business cards by photograph to recording some phone calls. This is particularly helpful when it comes to recalling previous conversations and connecting names with faces.
  3. Cloze (Free): Cloze compiles Twitter updates, Facebook posts, LinkedIn snippets, text messages and emails from each of your contacts, then combines all of it into one master feed, organized by person rather than by time. It automatically figures out who the most important people in your network are and puts their information at the top of the feed.
  4. ABBYY Business Card Reader (USD $5.99): Contrary to today’s digital world, old-school business cards are still an essential. And while transcribing cards into digital data is time consuming, ABBY does exactly that in a flash. Just snap a photo of each card and this scanning system instantly does the translation work, bringing contact information on business cards right into your iPhone’s address book.
  5. iCloud (Free): iCloud is Apple's cloud storage app that everyone with an Apple account has access to. Chances are high that when you first setup your device, you signed up for an Apple account in order to purchase/download apps from iTunes. On your device, open the Settings app and select iCloud. Enable it and login with your Apple account and you should be able to backup important data, including contacts. If you lose your device, or get a new one, simply log into your account again, and your contacts should pop right up.
While iPhone’s address book is a convenient tool for contact management, proofing it with these applications will not only make it more powerful but also more secure, so you won’t have to worry about losing your contact information or missing out on updated information again. Looking to learn more about iPhone and its features? Contact us today and see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
August 20th, 2014

Facebook_Aug18_ASince its release, Facebook has gone from a college-only network to international site that connects millions of people. With more than half of adult users having more than 200 friends on average, our News Feeds have become a highly congested and constantly changing collage of stories and posts. Many of these posts are links to articles that we find interesting. While we would love to drop everything and read a particular link there are times when this isn't possible. To help, Facebook has introduced the new Save feature.

About the Save feature

The idea behind the Save feature is that it allows users to save longer-form content like articles posted on a News Feed. So, if someone has posted a link to an article on your favorite blog and you would like to read it later, you can now save it.

While this feature is similar to various apps like Pocket and Readability, which allow users to save content on the Web to read later, Facebook's version goes a little deeper. In a blog article announcing the feature, the company noted that the Save feature allows users to, "Save items like links, places, movies, TV and music."

Let's say you are at work, and during your break you quickly check Facebook. You come across a post where your friends have shared a link to a restaurant's Facebook Page. If you don't have time to visit the page right at that moment you can save it to view later.

While this feature will prove useful for many users, it is worth noting that when you save content, e.g., an article, you will need to have an Internet connection to access it in the future. Knowing Facebook however, they may integrate a feature like this in the future.

How to save content for later

Facebook has integrated this feature into all versions of Facebook, including the mobile app and browser-based versions. You can save content and links by:
  1. Scrolling through your News Feed until you find an article, link, Place, etc. that you would like to save for later.
  2. Clicking on the downward facing grey arrow at the top-right of the post.
  3. Selecting Save 'content name'. Note: The name will be based on the name of the link in the post.

Accessing your saved content

If you are looking at Facebook in your browser, then you should see a tab called Saved show up in the upper part (the area just below your profile image) of the left-hand vertical bar of the page. For users who access Facebook via the mobile app, press the three horizontal bars at the top-right of the app (located just below the magnifying glass) and you should see a section called Saved under Favorites.

When you click on Saved you should see a new screen open with the content you have saved. It will be divided into different types including:

  • All
  • Links
  • Places
  • Music
  • Books
You can interact with each item by either:
  • Tapping on it - This will open the page, link, or content.
  • Sliding it to the left - This will allow you to archive the content or press More to review, share or Like the content.
If you are looking to learn more about the Save feature, or Facebook in general and how it can be used effectively in your business, contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 16th, 2014

Virtualization_Aug11_AVirtualization has become common place in small to medium size businesses. After all, the idea of moving physical systems to virtual ones that not only usually costs less but also allows owners to get rid of physical hardware, makes it an appealing option. While virtualization is popular, migrations are not always successful. Following are five of the more popular reasons why they can fail.

1. Migration is forced before it is ready

One of the biggest reasons virtualization fails is that it is pushed before the company is ready for it. For example, it could be that the IT team is forced to fast-track virtualization, resulting in staff being forced to drop all other tasks and focus on migration.

If you rush, the chances of failure and mistakes always rise. And when it comes to changing systems from physical to virtual, mistakes can be compounded, thus increasing overall migration time and costs.

To avoid this you should take the time to conduct research on solutions available, workloads, applications to the move, and your specific business needs. Once you are across this, you should also take the time to get to know your systems and test them before migration.

2. Trying to implement a management plan after virtualizing systems

Some companies decide to virtualize first, and then try to figure out how to manage systems after migration is complete. This will almost always result in inefficiencies and frustration as the pressure is on not just to learn how to manage but also how to use this solution.

In order to see a more successful virtualization, you should have a management plan in place before you migrate your systems. You should look at how virtual machines will be managed, who will be doing what, as well as what systems you are going to use, and more. One of the best times to develop an overall management plan is when you are in the testing phase, well before actual migration. This will give you an idea of how systems will work in reality and how you can manage them.

3. Virtualization without employee buy-in, or involving employees

We have seen companies implement a virtualization solution without having full buy-in from the employees who will be using and managing the system. What this results in is confusion, resentment, lost efficiency, and, in some extreme situations, sabotage.

In order to successfully introduce a virtualized solution, you should ensure that all employees who will be using the system are not only aware of it but are trained on how to use it and have been given a fair chance to air their opinions. If you can achieve employee buy-in, there is a better chance that the systems will be used more effectively, and employees will be more open to other solutions being implemented.

4. Assuming one solution that works for others will work for you

An easy mistake to make is to only consider solutions successfully implemented by other businesses. The fact is, every business is different, and you should be looking for a solution that meets your specific needs.

If you go with a ready-made solution, or one-size-fits-all solution, it will likely work to some extent. However, there is a good chance that it will not completely meet your needs. This will likely result in either lost efficiency or increased investment in order to get what you need.

We recommend looking for a provider who can meet your virtualization needs with tailor made solutions. This way you will get what you need straightaway and likely not need to invest more in the future.

5. Not managing your virtual solution after implementation

Unlike some tech solutions, virtualization is not really a 'set it and forget it' type of solution. You will need to manage it from the start if you want to be able to get the most out of your systems. This includes ensuring resources are being allocated properly; machines are created and shut down properly; apps and systems are updated; and more.

While virtualized solutions do require less management than their physical counterparts, they still require some management and you will need people to help you do that. One of the best solutions is to work with an IT partner like us who can help manage your systems and ensure that they are working efficiently.

In fact, we offer a wide variety of virtualization solutions. By working with us, we can help take some of the virtualization load off and allow you to focus on running your business. If you would like to learn more, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.