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Switch to VoIP Phones for your Business

Switch to VoIP Phones for your business and reap the benefits of using a unified network for voice and data. Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) is basically technology that allows you to make and receive calls over data networks. Instead of traditional phone services which channel analog signals such as the sound of your voice over copper wires, VoIP converts these sounds to digital form first — so that they can be sliced, diced, packaged, and routed over a digital network. Because VoIP technology uses the same ideas behind data networking, and allows the use of the same networks used by computers, voice traffic can also be routed through the Internet as well. Suddenly you can now dramatically reduce the cost of voice communications, as well as achieve creative combinations of both services to create new applications for use. With today’s advancements in technology, and the constant lowering of prices as technology achieves mass adoption, VoIP is now within easy reach for most businesses — even small ones. In fact, many have already made the switch to an all-VoIP infrastructure, using a combination of VoIP phones and VoIP communication systems. Here are ten reasons why you may want to consider switching to VoIP for your phone and office communication systems: VoIP can allow you to dramatically reduce the cost of communications, especially for interstate or international communications, since everything can go through the Internet instead of having to go through expensive long distance toll charges. You can make and receive calls from multiple devices — for instance, on a dedicated phone, your PC via a software-based phone, or even a mobile phone with VoIP capabilities. It’s easier to add extensions to your phone. You can provide a local number or extension for all your staff without additional costs or cabling. VoIP allows companies to maximize investments already made in their network infrastructure. The same network that handles the flow of data such web access and email can now accommodate voice as well — no need to add and maintain additional wires and devices. VoIP allows your employees to be more productive and efficient by giving them the ability to receive and make calls anywhere with a data connection. VoIP reduces the complexity associated with having to manage multiple networks and devices for communication. A company can potentially set up their office network so that each employee can use a single device such as a computer or a smart fixed or mobile phone to handle everything from email, chat, messages, faxes, and more. You can use VoIP as a tool for real-time collaboration along with video conferencing and screen sharing. You can potentially unify your communication channels, streamlining communications and information management — for instance, marrying email with fax and voice in one inbox. You can employ presence technologies that come standard with VoIP phones and VoIP communication systems. This technology can tell colleagues about your presence or give you info on the status and whereabouts of your staff. You can employ intelligence into how your calls are handled, such as: providing automatic call routing based on the number, time of day, etc; providing an interactive voice response when a call comes in, such as voice prompts that guide callers; call reporting; and more. VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It’s cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use. Interested? Contact us and we can help you make the switch to VoIP for your business today!

iPads in the Office

Citing numbers released by Apple recently, it has been reported that nearly 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the US report deploying or testing the iPad . Many large companies are clearly looking at the iPad as something not just for leisure or entertainment but also for business. Are you considering doing the same? Read on to find out how you can put the iPad to work for your business. The iPad for many is a revolutionary device in that it brings the full power and experience of computing into a form that is easy to hold, easy to transport, and easy to use. Manufactured by Apple, the device uses the same operating system as its earlier iPod Touch and iPhone devices. And just like its smaller brethren it does away with conventional input devices like the mouse or keyboard, instead requiring just the user’s fingers to touch, navigate, and interact with the operating system and installed applications. Key to the success of the device has been the availability of thousands of applications from third-party software vendors – in fact, nearly a hundred thousand of them . These applications range in categories from entertainment, media, education, and even productivity and business. Using these productivity and business applications for the iPad, you can effectively use these devices in the workplace. Here are some specific work scenarios in which you may want to consider the iPad in your business operations: For presentations. Because of its portability, the iPad makes a great device for showing and sharing presentations. Applications like Apple’s Keynote allow you to import and edit PowerPoint presentations. Accessories allow you to connect the device to a monitor or projector. If you’re thinking of doing virtual presentations, there are iPad apps that allow you to do that as well — letting you stream your presentation via the Internet. For Communication and Collaboration. The iPad has built-in applications for emailing, plus more can be added to support audio and even video conferencing. If you want to manage meetings, the iPad’s built-in calendar and address book apps make it a great replacement for a planner, while its larger screen makes it easier to read and manage than your cellphone or smartphone. It has built-in support for third-party mail and calendar applications like Microsoft Exchange, Google Mail, and Calendar. You can also download and use additional applications to help you manage your tasks, monitor projects, share files, post and read stuff in your social networks, and much more. For field assignments. The iPad’s light weight and portability make it a great companion while out on the road. You can install and configure VPN clients to securely connect to your office network when in the field, or use any of the business applications you use in the office — especially cloud-based ones. Again, using the built-in productivity tools you can use the iPad to manage your itinerary while on assignment. For travel. As a travel companion the iPad is unmatched, with a wide breadth of apps for managing flight and hotel booking information, expenses, and more. Use the built-in tools to manage your travel itinerary, and use the communication and collaboration tools to check on progress at the office. During lulls, breaks, or after office hours, easily shift modes and use the iPad as a media viewer or news reader for information and entertainment. Industry-specific apps. There are dozens more business cases in which the iPad can be put to work. For example, as a store or point-of-sale display, or even a point-of-sale device. Companies are using it to replace manuals, and schools are using it to replace stacks of books. There are many more ways the iPad can be used for business. Are you considering using it for your business as well? Do you know of other uses? Let us know!

Save Files Directly to the Cloud

Do you ever wish you could save files you find online directly to a cloud storage service provider? With this handy new free tool called Cloud Save you can. Cloud Save is available for the Google Chrome browser at the Google Chrome webstore. After you install the extension in Google Chrome, you will find a new menu item when you right-click or try to download files in your browser. The menu item allows you to send the file (without having to download to your harddisk) directly to popular web-based services including Dropbox, Google Docs, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, and more. Simply right-click a file, then decide where you’d like to send it. Related materials: Google Chrome webstore

Pause a Powerpoint Slideshow Easily with Handy Keyboard Shortcuts

When presenting in front of an audience, sometimes it’s necessary to pause your PowerPoint slideshow for a few minutes to highlight a point, answer audience questions, or to simply take a break. Instead of leaving the presentation or covering the projector lens with a piece of paper, you can press “B” to show a black screen or “W” to show a white screen.

New Flaw Called “Cookiejacking” Allows Hackers to Hijack Cookies in IE

Users of Internet Explorer beware: security researchers have found a new flaw in the popular Microsoft browser that allow hackers to commit something called “cookiejacking”, which enables them to steal information and data from IE cookies from any website. Despite a few flaws, Internet Explorer remains one of the most commonly used browsers in businesses today, making it a ripe target for hackers looking for security flaws to exploit. One such flaw has been discovered recently by a security researcher in Italy. Dubbed “cookiejacking”, the flaw allows hackers to hijack a cookie of any website, thereby allowing them to gain access to passwords, credit card information, and various other data stored in the cookie. The flaw is found in any version of Internet Explorer in any version of Windows. However, users must first drag and drop an item before the exploit can be activated. It might sound like a bit of a stretch, but hackers are known for their creativity, so expect that a seemingly appropriate situation will be presented in which you will find it perfectly normal to do a drag-and-drop action. Microsoft responded to the threat by labeling it as “low risk”, citing the level of user interaction required for cookiejacking to occur. It did, however, encourage users to be more vigilant and alert, as well as to refrain from clicking suspicious links and visiting dubious websites. Regardless of what platform or OS you use, there is always the constant threat from cyberattacks – all it takes is one attack to break through and put important business data at risk. It is essential to always educate users on how to avoid being victimized by scams and hacks, and to have the right security software to ensure that your company’s information is safe and secure. If you are interested in user training for security and / or better security protocols, please give us a call and we’ll be happy to draw up a custom security blueprint that’s tailor-made to meet your needs.

Find out your IP Address

Sometimes you need to find out your IP address for networking, troubleshooting, gaming, or tech support purposes. There are two IP addresses you may need to consider — your “external” IP address (the IP address the rest of the world sees to locate your computer or network) and your “internal” IP address (which identifies your particular computer in a shared network). Finding your external IP address is easy. If you are connected to the web, just launch your browser and type: “whatismyip”, and your browser should redirect you to the website whatismyip.com which will provide you this information for free. To find out your internal IP address, just go to the Windows command prompt, or go to the Windows Start Menu and click on Run, then type “cmd”. Next, simply type “ipconfig” in the command prompt and then look for the string of numbers right next to “IP Address.”

User Education in the Fight Against Malware

With the security software of many businesses becoming more and more advanced these days, cyber-thieves are resorting to socially engineered cyber-attacks to bait unsuspecting employees with scams like phishing to infiltrate IT systems. This is why it is important to train your employees against becoming victims of such underhanded strategies. One of the things many people fail to realize is that securing business data from malware and other sorts of cyber-attacks doesn’t stop with implementing the right security software. These days, cyber-criminals also use all sorts of tricks to bait unsuspecting employees into being catalysts for malware entering your system. Reports cite that as much as 60 percent of cyber and malware attacks on businesses are done through social engineering – meaning that instead of a direct attack on your system, hackers are using ploys found on email and social networks to get people in your organization to unwittingly introduce malware into your IT infrastructure. This is why it’s equally important to put emphasis on training your employees to recognize common cyber-attack strategies such as phishing, or how to use proper virus scanning software so any external or thumb drives they plug into their computers are malware-free. Remember, it only takes one mistake from a gullible employee to open the gates of your system to keyloggers and other sorts of malware and viruses. Keeping your company’s IT system safe is an investment. Getting the right security protocols and then training your employees to not only use and respect these protocols but also be more aware about security risks goes a long way in keeping your data safe and your operations stable.

New MacDefender Virus puts the ‘Mac = No virus’ Myth to Rest

Security experts have recently discovered a new threat to Mac OS X systems. Called the ‘MacDefender’, this malware is designed to fool users into downloading a fake anti-virus program, which informs users that the system is ‘infected’, and then tries to dupe or bully them into buying another fake anti-virus program. It is a widely held belief that one of the reasons Macs are superior to other systems is because of their ‘invulnerability’ to viruses, malware, and similar threats. All well and good, except for the fact that a recent rogue anti-virus malware that specifically attack Mac OS X systems has been discovered. So much for the ‘Mac = no virus’ myth. Called the ‘MacDefender’ and also known as Mac Security and Mac Protector, this malware tricks users by having them think that their system is under attack. It begins when users visit a malicious website where the program automatically downloads itself to the computer. If you have the “Open safe files after downloading” option selected, it automatically installs itself onto the system. The original installation package is then also automatically deleted. Next, a new menu item appears on the Mac OS X menubar. You’ll see a small orange shield that becomes red, which supposedly means that there are viruses in your system. You’ll then be prompted to “register” – which involves giving out your credit card information – to a website to clean the virus. If you don’t, the malware will then direct your browser to porn sites to ‘encourage’ you to register and pay up. To know more about how MacDefender works, check out this video . While Macs are certainly targeted less than Windows systems, the threat of getting infected by viruses and malware is very real, especially if myths like Macs being impervious to viruses persist. To know more about protecting yourself from threats like these, please contact us so we can draw up a plan to keep your system safe and secure.

Google Wallet: Google’s New e-Wallet Service

Google may soon find itself going head to head with services like PayPal as it debuts a new service called Google Wallet, which enables users to transform their smartphones into virtual credit cards. Simply swipe over a participating outlet’s cashier to pay for your bills and earn loyalty points and coupons at the same time. Smartphone technology has grown by leaps and bounds these past few years, and having a smartphone these days is almost synonymous to being online all the time. Software giant Google has decided to tap into this phenomenon with a new service called “Google Wallet”, which enables users to make purchases and payments from their smartphones. Partnering with Mastercard, Macy’s, Subway, American Eagle, Citibank, and Sprint, Google assures users that their e-wallet service is safe. The service requires that smartphones have a special chip that allows the user to simply “tap” or “swipe” the phone at participating stores to pay for merchandise or services. When you swipe your smartphone’s e-wallet, you also earn coupons and points for rewards. The technology is also designed so that the user can turn the chip off when Google Wallet is not being used, making it safe from hackers. If the smartphone is lost, the data can also be wiped remotely. A similar system to Google Wallet has been operational in some countries including Japan for some time now, but its use is limited to only certain areas and stores there. While the concept of Google Wallet has great potential, there are still several limitations to the system as Google continues to look for more partners for the enterprise before its official launch, which is slated for within a month or two.

Modify the Page Margins in Excel While in Print Preview

Have you ever struggled with fitting the contents of your Excel spreadsheet on one page? There are several ways to get around this, one of which is to use the Print Preview option in Excel. While in Print Preview mode, click the Margins button or tick the Show Margins checkbox to display the margins in Excel. You can now drag the right, left, top, and bottom margins just the way you want to be able fit the data onto the page.