Tools / Articles
- Ever been at a loss for the right word or phrase ?
If you want a quick way to look up that pesky missing word, check out Writefull (writefullapp.com). Just type in the phrase surrounding the word you’re looking for. Writefull instantly offers suggestions from a vast database of commonly used phrasing. Not only that, if you’ve ever wondered how to use a word or phrase in context, Writefull can help. For instance, it can show you examples of where the phrase “less people” vs. “fewer people” is more commonly used. What makes Writefull different from similar apps is that it goes beyond basic grammar to actually improving your writing. It’s available for Windows, Mac or Linux devices or as an extension to Google Chrome. LifeHacker.com, 01.23.17
- Bragi’s Headphone earbuds stand out for sound, comfort and price.
Apple has “cut the cord” by pulling headphone jacks from its iPhones. And, unfortunately, their EarPods just don’t cut it for quality if you crave sweet sounds. Other Bluetooth earbuds offer high-fidelity sound – at a high price… Enter Bragi’s Headphone. For just $150 you get earbuds that “scratch the sonic itch in all the right places.” They’re lightweight and fit in the ear comfortably. And in testing, they kept a consistent connection with paired devices. What really sets them apart, though, is the six-hour battery life, almost unheard of in earbuds. So what’s not to like? Well, unlike Apple’s EarPods, the Headphone’s storage case doesn’t charge them without plugging in. You’ll need a USB connection for that. DigitalTrends, 01.30.17
- Here’s good news for Chromebook lovers.
Chromebooks made in 2017 and beyond can now run over a million Android apps. So why is that important? It means Chromebook has grown up from having limited support for a handful of apps to full support for over a million apps. Google now also supports a long list of older Chromebooks, good news if you own a pre-2017 model. While many Android apps aren’t as robust as full-blown desktop programs, you can still do a lot with them. All said, the Chromebook now stands out as an easy-to-use power tool at a low price. A variety of manufacturers offer Chromebooks, including Samsung, which wowed crowds at the 2017 CES with its Chromebook Plus and Pro. DigitalTrends.com, 01.23.17
- Imagine a giant vacuum cleaner for smog…
A 23-foot-tall tower, built in Beijing last year, sucks in smog, filters out dangerous particles and purifies surrounding air at the rate of 1 million cubic feet per hour. Carbon particles filtered from the smog are then compressed and turned into jewelry. Air around the tower is now reported to be 55% cleaner. Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, famous for design and architecture solutions to worldwide waste and pollution problems, came up with the idea after seeing kids in Beijing playing indoors due to the area’s notorious smog. The tower’s low-energy ionization technology is borrowed from indoor air filters. A similar tower in Rotterdam, Netherlands, runs on no more electricity than a water boiler. Mashable.com, 01.23.17
- A new type of app installs instantly, with zero effort on your part.
Google is working on a new breed of app. They’re calling them “Instant Apps,” and you may start seeing them soon. The idea is for the app to kick in as part of the UI on a web page. Let’s say you’re shopping for a camera bag… You google it on your Android phone and find one you like. Tap the “Buy” button and it’s in you cart. Android Pay already has your info, so you don’t need to go through the ordeal of pulling out your card, typing everything in and hoping you didn’t get even one digit wrong… Just hit “Add to Cart” and your bag is on its way. TechCrunch.com, 01.23.17
- Want More Customers? Use This FREE Google Marketing Trick
If you want your business to show up first when potential customers are searching for you or for the services and product you provide, you MUST claim your business on Google. This free service allows you to enter data about your company, products, services and location that will greatly improve your search-engine ranking. Make sure you enter COMPLETE data and information, including hours of business, your phone and photos of your location. You can even post internal photos of your store or office, but you must hire a Google certified photographer (a simple search with Google will allow you to find one in your area). Remember, Google displays search results based on relevance, so the more specific information you can provide on what you do, the better your chances are of coming up in search-engine rankings. For more information, just search “Google My Business” to get started.
- The Latest Way Hackers Are Stealing Your Identity That You Won’t Believe
Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Informatics report that fingerprints can be easily reproduced from photos without using any advanced technology. If the image is clear and well-lit, fraudsters can mimic your fingerprints. Swiping biometric data is nothing new. In 2015 a famous hacker recreated German chancellor Angela Merkel’s iris from a photo to unlock a test. The problem is, once biometric data is resold on the dark web, the risk it will be used against you persists for life. New technologies, such as a scanner that also analyzes underlying tissue and pulse, promise to “go deeper,” making this type of theft more difficult. Until then, however, think twice before flashing that peace sign on your next selfie. Telegraph.co.uk, 01.17.17
- How Businesses Hurt Sales And Their Reputation On Social Media
If you have any type of social media presence – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube or others – one of the things you must be on CONSTANT alert for is customer complaints. According to a study conducted by Edison Research, consumers post their complaints on social media in order to solicit a FASTER response than going through the normal channels. That’s because smart companies don’t want an unhappy client’s comments hanging out there for the world to see, unanswered and unaddressed. So IF you are going to have a presence on social media, make sure you or someone on your team is constantly monitoring it for client complaints.
- New 360 video cameras let you deliver a whole new customer experience.
360 video lets your customers visit a location without actually being there. How you use it depends on your business, but the sky’s the limit – literally. Realtors and property managers, for instance, can give prospective buyers or renters a view from the kitchen where they can look in all directions and get a feel for the place that they just can’t get from 2-D shots. 360 video cams consist of two back-to-back fish-eye lenses and software that “stitches the seam” between them. Just be sure to position the camera where viewers can see everything all around them. With the right camera and headset, you can now put your customers “on location” – virtually. Wired, 02.24.17
- Stanford scientists have created an air conditioner that cools by beaming heat into deep space.
The journal Nature recently published a paper describing a whole new way to cool and refrigerate. A device called a thermal emitter sends heat through the atmosphere without being radiated back. It works because the atmosphere surrounding the earth is “transparent” to heat emissions at a frequency of 8-13 micrometers. And, at about -454 degrees Fahrenheit, deep space is “very” cold. By beaming heat energy into deep space, researchers reduced the temperature of an experimental device by 42 degrees in relation to its surrounding environment in just half an hour. Practical uses include cooling of buildings, harvesting renewable energy and carrying out refrigeration in arid parts of the world. Digital Trends, 12.21.16
- Recent Firefox changes are bringing it up to par with Chrome and Internet Explorer.
There’s a lot going on inside your Internet browser that you may not aware of. Firefox has lagged behind other browsers in being able to run a diversity of extensions so none of them can invade and manipulate other parts of the browser. However, in 2015, Firefox introduced a new extension system that allows it to catch up with other browsers. Mozilla, maker of Firefox, says that in Firefox version 50, browser responsiveness has improved by 400% due to the changes. This upgrade has been a long time coming, but when it’s complete, Firefox will be able to offer the same kind of performance and safety offered by other major browsers. ArsTechnica.com, 12.21.16
- Russia has erased LinkedIn from app stores.
In November 2016, Russia ruled LinkedIn to be in violation of a 2014 law requiring all data collected on Russian citizens to be stored within Russian borders. The law has been widely viewed as a first step toward more aggressive surveillance measures. For that reason, many web companies are declining to relocate data centers in order to comply with the law. While Russia’s data localization laws are among the most aggressive, it’s far from the only country with such requirements. Apple caught flak earlier this year for pulling its New York Times app from China due to similar measures. And even the US requires that Department of Defense partners store data within US borders. TheVerge.com, 01.06.17
- Getting fit (and relaxed) just got easier with the Fitbit Charge 2.
If you’ve ever needed to stop during a tracked exercise, you’ll like the Fitbit Charge 2’s new workout pause function. It also now lets you view on-screen exercise summaries for an hour following your workout. There’s a new on-display battery indicator and a function that lets you see your heart-rate zone on the display screen so you can monitor how close you are to your max HR. The new Fitbit Charge 2 also sports vibration prompts for breathing in and out, handy for keeping your eyes closed while getting your dose of mindfulness. It’s even added a “Do Not Disturb” mode that helps cut stress by letting you stop incoming notifications. Wareable.com, 12.21.16
- Security company? Activists? Or cybercriminal gang…
A group calling itself OurMine prides itself on hacking the social media accounts of high-profile people and companies. They’ve taken over the Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest profiles of well-known businesses, including Netflix, Forbes and BuzzFeed, as well as noteworthy high-tech CEOs, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai. They use their victims’ accounts to post messages like “Hey, it’s OurMine, Don’t worry, we are just testing your security, contact us to tell you more about that.” When contacted by Mashable about what they planned to do with the Netflix Twitter account they’d hijacked, OurMine replied, “We are not planning to do anything with the account.” Evidently, they just like the publicity. Mashable, 12.21.16http://mashable.com/2016/12/21/netflix-twitter-hacked/ – RXkdsmeALmqh
- 4 E-mails You Should NEVER Open
No matter how “bomb-proof” we make your network, you and your employees can still invite a hacker in if you click on a link or open an attachment in an e-mail sent by a cybercriminal. Some spam is obvious (can you say, “Viagra at a discount”?) but others are VERY cleverly designed to sneak past all the filters and trick the recipient into opening the door. Known as a “phishing” e-mail, this still is the #1 way hackers circumvent firewalls, filters and antivirus, so it’s critical that you and your employees know how to spot a threatening e-mail. Here are four types of e-mail ploys you should be on high alert for.
The Authority E-mail. The most common phishing e-mails are ones impersonating your bank, the Australian Federal Police, Australia Post, the ATO or some authority figure. The rule of thumb is this: ANY e-mail that comes in where 1) you don’t PERSONALLY know the sender, including e-mails from Australia Post, Microsoft or your “bank,” and 2) asks you to “verify” your account should be deleted. Remember, ANY important notification will be sent via old-fashioned snail mail. If it’s important, they can call you.
The “Account Verification” E-mail. Any e-mail that asks you to verify your password, bank information or login credentials, OR to update your account information, should be ignored. No legitimate vendor sends e-mails asking for this; they will simply ask you upon logging in to update or verify your information if that’s necessary.
The Typo E-mail. Another big warning sign is typos. E-mails coming from overseas (which is where most of these attacks come from) are written by people who do not speak or write English well. Therefore, if there are obvious typos or grammar mistakes, delete it.
The Zip File, PDF Or Invoice Attachment. Unless you specifically KNOW the sender of an e-mail, never, ever open an attachment. That includes PDFs, zip files, music and video files and anything referencing an unpaid invoice or accounting file (many hackers use this to get people in accounting departments to open e-mails). Of course, ANY file can carry a virus, so better to delete it than be sorry.
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- How To Get Your Employees To Commit To Achieving BIG Goals
by Dr. Nido Qubein
How do great leaders inspire others to commit themselves to their goals? It’s not just that they have charismatic personalities, or that they give a lot of high-energy motivational talks. What they do is communicate their vision so effectively that other people adopt it as their own.
Inspiring people is what great leaders like John F. Kennedy did best. In the early ’60s, President Kennedy set his sights on putting a man on the moon and told the American people, “We can do it!” He said it with such conviction that people believed it and committed themselves to making it happen. And, sure enough, we made it to the moon. That’s the formula for any leader to inspire commitment: clear goals, a solid plan of action and a strong conviction.
Of course, leadership takes more than inspiration. One of the most insightful tips I learned about leading others is that people do things for their reasons, not for your reasons or for mine. So how can you move past the empty rhetoric and translate your vision into concrete actions your people can identify with and get excited about? Let me suggest seven proven techniques for building a solid team:
Recognize outstanding performance.
Everyone likes to look good in the presence of their peers. When you find someone doing something right, make sure you give them public recognition. If they do really well, throw in a tangible benefit, bonus or gift. It will boost the whole team’s mood and productivity.
Constantly ask for input and ideas.
People are usually much more enthusiastic about supporting decisions and plans they helped create. So get ideas and input from any person whose job will be affected by any upcoming decision. When your team quits talking about the company, and starts talking about our company, you know you’ve got a team.
Give them proper coaching and training.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have one or two people who can plow into almost anything with little to no instruction from you. But most people need a lot of training, mentoring, coaching and guidance in the beginning. Without that, people can become frustrated quickly and lose interest in hitting a big goal.
Just be a nice person.
Make people feel valued and important by treating them with dignity and respect. If you have to correct someone’s mistake, do it privately, and counter it with a sincere compliment. Attacking someone and belittling them is never a useful way to get the most out of a team member.
Get rid of underperformers fast.
You’ve heard the phrase “Hire slow and fire fast.” This is a piece of advice we all need to keep in mind. Make sure you weed out the bad apples before they spoil your culture. That’s because keeping someone on the team who is not performing, is not trying and is clearly not doing their job sends a message that it’s okay – which is incredibly demotivating to high performers who are striving to hit big goals.
It takes a lot of patience and effort to build a solid team of people who will share and help you fulfill your vision, but the results will be well worth all you put into it.
- 4 Must-Have, Low-Risk Cloud Solutions
Let’s face it, your business has more competition than ever. And they’ll eat you alive if you fall behind in today’s technology “arms race.”
Maybe your network needs greater security. Or you haven’t yet taken advantage of new cloud-based apps that help your team get more done in less time. Today, the action is in the cloud. And if you don’t know what’s out there, it’s just that much easier for competitors to pull ahead.
To help you stay on top, here’s a quick survey of four ways to put the cloud in your corner, along with examples of each.
As devices on your network become more diverse and mobile, monitoring them in real time is absolutely critical to averting cyber-attacks. A good network-security tool probes for weak points and alerts you to potential threats. It can employ both hardware and software technologies. And today’s environment demands a bevy of checkpoints, from access control to WiFi-intrusion monitoring.
But how do you protect against threats that evade your monitoring efforts? Due to the recent spread of “fileless” malware, no antivirus program is 100% “bullet-proof.” However, you should be able to find basic software protection for around $40 per user. Look for features such as e-mail security, data loss prevention, network segmentation and behavioral analytics. And ideally, it scans quickly, takes up little space on your devices and may even be able to recover files encrypted by ransomware.
Giving your team the right cloud collaboration tools can be almost as good as giving them steroids… (Except, of course, it’s legal.) With the wide array of apps available today, the trick is finding the best one – or the best combination – for your company. Top contenders include Asana, Slack, Teamwork, Trello and Google Drive. These and similar apps can improve efficiencies in areas like project and task management, team communications and collaboration, brainstorming, document processing and storage, and more. And with cloud collaboration, you’re no longer restricted to bringing aboard talent from your local area alone.
Contracts & Accounting
Contracts and proposals that get bogged down in logistics can hurt monthly revenues. Is your sales team still asking customers to sign and fax back important documents? If so, they’re losing precious minutes every day. Then there’s the cost of storing and managing physical files. It all adds up. It’s no wonder so many companies now use electronic signature apps, such as DocuSign, Adobe Sign and RPost. They’ll let you manage the signing of important documents entirely online, and will encrypt and store files for you. Some are even court-approved and create a full audit trail.
For small business accounting, industry veteran QuickBooks, now with an online version, and upstart Xero can help you keep the books with relative ease. They both offer a clean, intuitive UI and affordable pricing with a comprehensive set of features. And, of course, being cloud-based, they can be accessed from a variety of locations, adding flexibility to your workforce.
Does your company need to prove its mettle to investors? You’d be hard-pressed to find a better all-in-one planning solution than Tarkenton GoSmallBiz. Created by NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton, it’s specifically built for small to medium sized businesses. You get highly customizable and detailed data fields to help simplify your planning process. It then lets you create financial statements and projections without external spreadsheets. And as a subscriber to GoSmallBiz, you also get access to business-planning experts who can help you tweak your plans and proposals.
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In Your Company’s Cloud Technology
If you’d like to know how well your company is (or isn’t) taking advantage of today’s cloud, I’d like to offer you a FREE Cloud Utilization Audit, through the end of this financial year only. This customized report could be worth thousands to you in both cost savings and increased efficiency for your business. We’ve helped dozens of companies set up and run cost-effective, powerful and secure cloud networks. For your FREE Cloud Utilization Audit, at no cost or obligation to you, contact us at +61 2 8197 9400 or email@example.com TODAY.
- Network Abuse: Don’t Push Your ‘Luck’
Look around your office. Isn’t it great to see your team hard at work on their computers? Yet if we take a closer look, let’s see what’s really happening…
Joe, your new sales rep, is poring over last weekend’s game stats…
Amy in marketing is looking for a new job, surfing your competitors’ websites, chatting with their HR people…
Wes, over in customer support, just bogged down your entire network by downloading a video file of Metallica in concert…
Guy, your new hire in shipping, is on hotdate.com, viewing questionable photos…
Bob in accounting is browsing stock-investing sites, in search of a hot tip…
Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad at your company. But this type of behavior will happen to some degree if you don’t proactively prevent it. The real problem is, unfiltered content often links to malware and other threats. Ignore it and you risk productivity losses, legal liabilities, extortion, blackmail and fraud. And not only that, the resulting data loss and corruption can cost your company big-time. Cyberthreats stemming from unfiltered content aren’t something you can count on your lucky leprechaun or four-leaf clover to protect you from.
In today’s mobile environment, content filtering has becoming a greater challenge than ever before. Your company may already be doing some filtering at the network level. However, when was the last time you checked the number of mobile devices linked to your network? As your workforce goes mobile, your network is exposed to a rapidly expanding “attack surface.” With BYOD (bring your own device) now the norm, the old rules of content filtering just don’t cut it anymore.
Are You Making Any Of These Mistakes?
Old content-filtering models presume your network has a safe “firewall.” But now, with BYOD, you need a different way to protect your data. And that’s where endpoint security comes into play. Endpoint filtering keeps devices on your network safe from infection, no matter where they hook into the Internet.
But make ANY of the following mistakes with endpoint security and your network could be a sitting duck:
1.Missing even ONE endpoint. This applies to tablets and smartphones as well as home-based machines that VPN into your network.
2.Skimping on security policies, protocols and training. Believing that tech tools alone will keep your network secure is a recipe for breaches. In fact, no technology can keep a network safe if users cut corners.
3.Leaving endpoint filtering out of your overall security plan. Ad hoc security invites disaster. An improperly designed system exposes holes that hackers love to find.
So, What Exactly Should You Filter?
Forrester Research states that companies whose users access the cloud should:
- Detect and intercept unusual or fraudulent activities related to data in the cloud.
- Detect, neutralize and eliminate malware in cloud platforms.
- Detect and monitor unsanctioned cloud applications and platforms usage.
- Protect against leaks of confidential information.
- Encrypt structured and unstructured data in cloud platforms.
- Investigate suspicious users and incidents.
Between BYOD and ever more complex cyberthreats, you simply can’t afford to run around putting out fires. You absolutely MUST proactively defend your network in depth with endpoint content filtering.