Is It Time to Clean Up Your Act?

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“Hey, there’s not a single clean coffee cup in the entire kitchen!”

“How long has that milk been sitting out on the counter?”

“Wasn’t someone supposed to empty the garbage on Friday night?

What a mess! Anyone who works in an office environment has certainly heard their share of those kitchen complaints. If regular maintenance is ignored, things can deteriorate quickly. The same goes for your computers. Except your computers handle your most important assets: accounting, financial records, communications and client information.

Establishing a Maintenance Plan for Your Computers

Last month’s Geeks On Call’s Blog offered tips on keeping the outside of your computers clean. This month, the Blog presents maintenance guidelines for the “nuts and bolts” of your computer with the following tips:

Step 1: Windows and Mac both release security updates for their operating systems. Generally, these updates are set to run automatically. Follow these directions if you aren’t sure if the updates are complete or if you have disabled the automated updates:

Mac: Open the Systems Preference menu and choose Software Update. Select the updates you want to install from the list.

Windows: At the Start Menu, click on All Programs, then click Windows Updates. See the status of your updates and check on the automatic updates settings. You can perform these tasks manually or set your computer to download and install updates.

Step 2: Most recent computers offer hard drive maintenance as an automatic task. It defragments and reorganizes data storage for enhanced efficiency. It also provides disk cleanup by deleting duplicates and unused temporary files. On a Mac, this process is typically automatic. With Windows, if your computer doesn’t provide automatic hard drive maintenance, use the Start Menu to open and run the maintenance program.

Step 3: Periodically you should clear your Internet history or eventually performance issues will occur due to data build up. Internet browser tools can handle the problem with the following instructions:

  • Chrome: Hold Control and Shift, then click Delete to clear data. A new menu will open where you can erase selected data. Click on Clear Browsing Data when you are done.
  • Firefox: See Firefox menu and open Options to click the Clear button. This will erase cookies and cache data.
  • Internet Explorer:  Go to Internet Options control panel and click Delete on the General tab under the Browsing History.

Safari: Use the Edit menu to clear the browsing cache then select Empty Cache.

Step 4: Now that your computer is running more efficiently, be sure that the computer has a reliable backup system in place. There are many different options for backup solutions that are both reliable and affordable. Geeks On Call can advise you on a reliable backup system.

Step 5: Guard against malicious viruses by having an antivirus program on your computer. Protect your computer against losing important data or and save yourself from expensive repairs. Talk to your local Geeks On Call about your security needs

Step 6: Malware creates security holes that will compromise the performance of your computer. There are a variety of paid and free programs that will erase both spyware and malware programs. Also, be on guard and never download anything that comes from an unfamiliar e-mail address. Beware and never open attachments from unknown sources.

Take Care of Your Computers so That You Can Take Care of Your Business!

Regular computer maintenance, service and updates will keep your machine working at optimal efficiency. Geeks On Call can help you with backup solutions, malware virus and protection. Contact your local Geeks On Call to establish a regular maintenance schedule for your computers.

How to Keep Your Computer Clean

Posting Date: 10/15/2014  |   Filed Under: Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Laptop on Kitchen Table with Cup of Coffee

Do you know how to keep your computer clean?

Office cleanliness can be a messy topic. A disastrous mess in the office kitchen generally brings on a scolding group email. People, clean up your act!

But what about your computers? Your computers are probably your office’s most valuable asset. Your computers are responsible for your business’ financial records, communications, book-keeping and customer data.

Keeping the outside of your computers sparkling clean isn’t meant just for aesthetic appeal. Computers create static electricity that pulls in dust that can inevitably clog the fan and other components. To clean the external surfaces of your computer, follow these cleaning guidelines.

Supplies:

Can of compressed air

Isopropyl (rubbing) liquor and distilled water

Microfiber material

Screwdrivers, Phillips-tip and flat-tip

Directions for Cleaning External Computer Surfaces:

Step 1: Turn off your computer and unplug all sources of power. Remove the battery is you are cleaning a laptop.

Step 2: Open the computer by removing the screws or utilize the sliding board. Clean the vent with the can of compress air. Use the air to blow dust, hair and crumbs from the vent. Always spray compressed air in short bursts while keeping the nozzle several inches from the components. Never shake the computer to remove dust. Shaking the equipment can loosen delicate parts. Refer to the computer manual or check online resources if specific directions are required.

Step 3: Clean the computer keyboard with compressed air. Use the spray nozzle to blow debris from the keyboard’s crevices. Never use a vacuum for cleaning your computer. A vacuum cleaner will create a static charge that can damage your machine.  Use rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip to carefully clean all of the computer seams. Never spray cleaning fluids directly onto the screen. Permit everything to dry completely before powering up the computer, then reattach any peripherals.  Every few month, follow this cleaning regimen. If your work environment is more inclined to grimy dirt, dust and hair, such as a manufacturing business or a salon, more frequent cleaning is recommended.

Your computers are an important asset to your business. To keep your computers running efficiently, we suggest regularly scheduled maintenance for both the internal workings and external surfaces. Contact your local Geeks On Call office and one of our technology professionals will be happy to discuss this service with you.

Are You Using the Right Tool for the Right Job?

wrong-technologyDoes it seem that your employees are not being as productive as you had expected? That might be true, but let’s not jump to the assumption it’s entirely the fault of the employees. Office inefficiencies are often caused by outdated or misused technology. In other words, the wrong tools can actually be at the root of the inefficiency problem. The 1907 slogan, “The Right Tool for the Right Job,” is still completely significant in today’s digital work environment.

 

Is Your Current Technology Really Working for You?

Here are several technology solutions that could significantly enhance your business’ productivity with little to no investment.

  • Productivity: Add a second screen to a computer and that employee’s productivity can be increased by as much as 50%.
  • Flexibility: Add an inexpensive solution (some solutions are even free!) that will keep data secure on your office computer while you can access it at any time from any location. Don’t waste time by continuing to email files to yourself. Are you still dealing with the confusion of multiple versions of the original file?
  • Communications: Add a client relationship management (CRM) solution that can enhance efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. You could link your CRM to your current phone system.  Also, consider upgrading your phone system. Remember that lost messages and missed phone calls lead to losses in revenues and missed opportunities.
  • Data Security: Add an automated online backup solution and secure your business’ critical data. Your business can save as much as 10 hours per week with an automated online backup solution.

It’s Time for a Technology Assessment

A yearly assessment of your business’ technology is important. Many business owners avoid this assessment based on the assumption that improvements will be prohibitively expensive. Trust us, not all improvements are costly. Sometimes even small and affordable changes can deliver profits to your business’ bottom line.

Geeks On Call can help you make an informed decision about your business’ technology. Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to work with you and develop a customized plan for your business.

 

You Can Transform Your Business with Office 365

Posting Date: 08/08/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Most computer users are well acquainted with Microsoft Office. Office includes popular applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access. By 2012, Office had become such an enormously successful product that it had reached over one billion users.

Microsoft has presented Office 365 as the successor to the highly popular Office product. Office 365 is built around the Office product platform and is capable of running on Windows, Macs and portable devices such as iPhones and Android phones. The biggest innovation with Office 365 is that it is structured around a cloud delivered subscription service plan. Generally referred to as “software as subscription,” Office 365 represents the shift away from buying software. With cloud access, Office 365’s subscription plan eliminates the perpetual licensing structure associated with software purchases.

Office 365 provides users with some additional features. Microsoft has created Office 365 editions designed for various types of clients. For the business market, there is Small Business, Small Business Premium, Pro Plus, Midsize Business and Enterprise. For the consumer market segment, Office 365 is available in Home and the new Personal edition for the individual client.

 

The Advantages of Office 365

In you are working from a home office or own a business and are managing a team of employees; Office 365 offers the following advantages:

 

  • Work Wherever and When Ever: Your Office tools can be accessed from virtually anywhere. Use PowerPoint, Word, OneNote and Excel via cloud access. You can easily share files with team members, plus there is great data storage capacity.

 

  • Mobile Apps: You can use PowerPoint, Excel and Word files on your mobile device when you are working on the go. When you return to your office, you can quickly reconnect to these files from your office computer. Save time by picking up where you left off. Even the formatting stays intact.

 

  • Easily Manage Your Website: With easy-to-use DIY tools, you can quickly make changes to your website. Take charge of your marketing efforts with an up-to-date website. Without any web-hosting fees, you can add your existing website to Office 365.

 

  • Email and Calendar: With Office 365 you can sync your email and calendar. Private and secure communications via a hosted business class e-mail system. Anti-spam and anti-virus protection is provided in addition to instant messaging. Never forget another appointment again.

 

  • Online Conferencing: Take advantage of HD conferencing features. Save time and money by replacing business travel with online meetings that also include real-time note taking and desktop sharing.

 

  • Subscription Benefits:  Save on upfront expenses through Office 365’s subscription plan that enables users to pay on a monthly basis. With a monthly payment plan, you can easily cancel the subscription at any time. You can also upgrade your subscription to another edition within the same customer segment.

 

Is it Time to Reshape Your Business?

Office 365 offers you the ability to reshape the way your business operates. As a business owner, you can reshape your workforce into a more efficient team that is capable of being productive anywhere and at any time. Geeks On Call can help.  Contact your local Geeks On Call office and a technology professional will be happy to show you how Office 365 can benefit you and your business.

Conquer Your Customers’ Online Security Concerns With These Measures

Posting Date: 07/15/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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We live in an era where online privacy is dwindling. But it’s also an era of consumer empowerment, where average people are taking control of their online behaviors and protecting themselves against unnecessary outside intrusion. Consumers are concerned in light of the recent news of the National Security Agency’s snooping, the Heartbleed bug and other cyber security issues.

The 2014 Internet Security Threat Report suggested targeted attacks increased 91 percent in 2013 and 552 million identities were exposed to breaches. E-commerce businesses have started feeling the pressure to provide more secure sites to protect customers’ data. Companies that have access to their customer’s credit card numbers and other personal information online should take extra care, given the recent data breaches, to make sure customers are safe.

Block Hackers

E-commerce sites are easy targets for hackers. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable, as oftentimes, the budget for a highly sophisticated data security system simply isn’t there.

CIO.com says that an e-commerce platform should use a “sophisticated object-orientated programming language” Open-source platforms can be made inaccessible to hackers based on the strength of that language. CIO.com has two other key suggestions: 1. Use a secure connection at checkout, and 2. Avoid storing sensitive data. Online purchases should be protected by Secure Sockets Layer, more commonly known as SSL, which authenticates transactions and encrypts the data; this is most commonly where hackers breach the system, so storing credit card numbers and similar information could be catastrophic in the event of a breach.

Server Message Block technology, or SMB, is also a popular tool for e-commerce businesses that applies “more modern and nimble applications that allow them to move quickly” when securing data, according to Heather Clancy of Small Business Matters.

Even WordPress has similar solutions for small businesses. The Krux SMB plugin, for example, is designed to authenticate and secure data sent through your site via social media channels.

Promote Online Safety

Any of these security measures could easily be explained via your company’s website to increase consumer confidence; it’s actually pretty common for wary shoppers to verify your platform’s security before entering any personal information. By providing resources to your customers on staying safe and secure online, you’re also advocating that they take control of their personal data and prepare for the unexpected. For example, Aol has partnered with identity theft company Lifelock to offer a complimentary protection advantage plan benefit for Aol members. Lifelock also caters to businesses of all sizes to protect internal data.

Like the security features noted above, some companies are listing their protection measures for customers to learn how they can fully secure their online information. As an online merchant or e-commerce business, it’s important to engage conversation with customers about how your company is protecting their data. Be transparent about the security measures you’ve taken and encourage customers to seek additional assistance from outside companies. In the end, concerned customers will see your company as open, honest and allied in the fight against online thieves.

Remote Monitoring and Maintenance Can Help Your Business

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz around RMM meaning Remote Monitoring and Support otherwise called Proactive Monitoring. Let’s  investigate what this term implies and how it can enhance and profit your business.

Remote Monitoring and Maintenance – What is it?

RMM is watching your technology 24/7. It keeps an eye on your network and servers to get a perspective on the overall status of your technology. This technology checking creates alerts on a real time basis with the specific end goal of identifying issues that require remedial attention. This type of corrective action can take place rapidly before the problem can even affect the business.

How Can Your Business Benefit From Remote Monitoring and Maintenance?

Early Identification of Problems: When you have measures set up to proactively identify problems within your technology system, you have the chance to amend the issues before they can negatively impact your business. Additionally, RMM can draw your attention to problems that could negatively impact customer satisfaction, productivity by your employees and ultimately the financial bottom line of your business.

Manage Costs: Being proactive about your business’ technology systems enables you to get a handle on the life expectancy of your equipment. If equipment is reaching the end of its life span, a business owner can start budgeting in advance for the inevitable replacement of aging technology. Planning in advance will pre-empt expensive emergency repair bills from an IT service provider. Furthermore, you can manage your expenses and work flow when you plan for the update of technology and systems.

Manage Productivity of Employees: As a business owner, consider how your employees use their time. Keep your employees’ workflow maximized by handling upgrades to the equipment after work hours. RMM’s proactive alerts will let you on how an employee’s equipment is functioning and will let you know when a problem is brewing. This will help you maintain a strategic distance from technical fiascos.

Start Advancing Your Business and Stop Just Surviving: Does your IT Service professional spend all of their simply putting out fires. This leaves no to execute new innovations and produce real results. Change and innovation are critically important to the success of your business. This is what is going to enable your business to move to the next level. When you stop putting out technology fires every day, you can redirect your efforts to discovering new approaches that will develop and enhance your business.

Enhance Your Business Knowledge:  Enhance your business management skills by understanding how all of the equipment and supplies function within your business. When RMM is implemented into your business, a thorough technology appraisal is activated. The results enable both the business owner and the IT professional to have a comprehensive understanding of how the technology is functioning. This provides a snapshot of how the technology is serving or actually thwarting your business processes and objectives.

Now you are armed with a reasonable understanding of RMM’s capabilities and how it can profit your business. Contact your local Geeks On Call expert and ensure that you are being proactive with your business’ technology.

Is Your Business Taking Advantage of a Remote Support Solution?

Posting Date: 07/09/2014  |   Filed Under: Technology, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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Not that long ago the term “remote” generally referred to something far removed in space or time. The term was used to describe anything from distant cousins to someone living in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. Definitions certainly change over time. Currently, the term remote is most commonly used in the context of technology. Nearly all household gadgets ranging from our flat screen entertainment units to garage doors openers are operated via hand held remote control devices. In the realm of computers and smartphones there is remote access; remote support; remote desktop; remote iPhones; remote backups, remote monitoring and management; etc. Many of these services and features have enhanced the efficiency of daily life to the point that it’s hard to remember a time before remote technology.

Let’s review what remote support is and how it can benefit your business.

What is Remote Support?

Remote support enables a technical support representative to access an end-user’s computer via a secure internet connection. The technician who is working from a remote location could be sitting in front of a computer across town or on the other side of the country. The end-user permits access to their computer and this enables the technician to diagnose problems, perform repairs and handle updates. Using remote support, the computer never moves and no one even needs to get up from their chair.

Another facet of remote support is screen sharing. Screen sharing enables both the technician and the end-user to have access to the desktop at the same time. On the shared computer screen, the technician types the next steps in the process that guides the end-user through the repair session. It’s almost like sitting side-by-side with a technician who is explaining why you are having a particular computer problem and how it’s going to be fixed. Frequently, the end-user actually makes the repair under the guidance of the technician who supervises the process via the screen sharing function. As consumers, most of us are familiar with on-line “live chat” sessions that help us through a variety of technical questions with products and accounts. You can think of remote support as having a friendly co-pilot onboard helping you with the navigation details.

How a Remote Support Solution Can Benefit Your Business

Remote support offers businesses several key benefits that include the following:

Cost savings can be achieved by accessing IT support only when it’s actually needed. A full time IT staff member is no longer needed. You can eliminate the salary, employee benefits, sick days and vacation time of a full-time IT staff member. You can trade that expense for working with a skilled IT technician as needed. This can be a serious cost savings while receiving top quality on-demand technical service.

Efficiency will be enhanced by using remote support for certain types of repairs. Not every computer problem requires a technician traveling to your location. When a computer problem arises, contact a technician via remote support and the troubleshooting session can begin promptly. This can eliminate appointments, travel and downtime while waiting for IT assistance. Remote support is also easily available when you are working from home or traveling. Don’t get stuck struggling with computer problems during an important business trip. As long as you have internet service, you can take advantage of real-time remote support.

Flexibility is critical because many employees are using not only their office desktops, but also laptops and a variety of mobile devices. The “bring your own device” movement has created greater needs for technical support that is skilled across a variety of platforms. Remote support offers flexibility and convenience, while also delivering secure service and support session audit history.

Is Your Business Ready for Remote Support?

Business owners need to be aware of new IT solutions that can save time, money and resources while increasing the efficiency of their business. Remote support is a strategy that can deliver results and help your business stay competitive. Take control of your business with a remote support solution.

Give your local Geeks On Call office a call today and one of our technology professionals will be happy to show you how remote support can help your business become more efficient.

3 Ways to Extend Your Smartphone’s Battery Life

Posting Date: 06/25/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Social Media, Technology  |   No Comments
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You’re in the middle of an important phone call, getting a high score in Flappy Birds, or trying to use the parking finder app to find your car in the music festival parking lot when your battery decides to die. Battery life, or lack thereof, can cause real anxiety among smartphone users. Veloxity discovered smartphone owners experienced anxiety over running out of a charge, resulting in 2.6 charges per day. Battery technology is lagging behind other smartphone advancements, such as a large screens on devices like the Galaxy Note and improved graphical rendering chips on higher end phones. While you wait for an all-day battery to come standard issue on smartphones, consider a few ways to keep consumption down.

System Settings

Turn your screen brightness down, as displays consume the lion’s share of your battery. However, your phone has other system settings that greatly improve battery life. One of the primary settings to target are those that keep your phone constantly active. Wi-fi and Bluetooth features scan for appropriate networks and devices to connect to, resulting in a major battery drain. Additionally, using 4G instead of 3G also contributes to battery drain. Keep your GPS feature turned off unless you’re actively using geolocation and keep your phone plugged in when you use it as a navigation unit if you can. Vibrate and haptic response on a touch screen are also battery drains. Turn them off manually or use an eco mode feature or app to handle that for you.

App Avoidance

Check for offending apps. The primary culprit here are those that push notifications to your phone on a constant basis, or are sending and receiving large amounts of data. Facebook is one app in particular you want to disable to conserve battery life, as it uses GPS and sends notifications to your phone. Tethering apps like FoxFi are another major drain on your battery, even if you use USB tethering instead of Wi-Fi. Consider buying a dedicated hotspot device if you find your battery is draining too quickly when using its data. Most apps allow you to control notifications and GPS settings on an app by app basis, so look through the options available.

Portable Chargers

You don’t want your phone give out in the middle of the day, but you also don’t want to invest in a second smartphone battery. A portable mobile charger is a great alternative, as these units typically give you at least 2,000 mAh, with particularly hefty units going up to 11,000 mAh to charge your compatible devices. You have a wide selection. For example, Mimoco’sBatteryBot is a portable charger that has a cute appearance instead of the black, clean line standard style that many chargers come in.

Smartphone Battery Life

Smartphone Battery Life

Should Your Business be Worried About HIPPA Regulations?

Posting Date: 06/18/2014  |   Filed Under: Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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The response is most likely yes! In fact many businesses and industries have to comply with HIPPA standards and regulations.

Unsure what HIPPA is and why it’s important?  Here is a quick review:

HIPPA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  HIPPA was sanctioned by Congress in 1996 with the objective of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care system.  It also determined the guidelines for the security of vital and sensitive patient information known as protected health information (PHI).

PHI makes each of us rapidly identifiable based on our name; social security number; address; birth date; payment information; and our past, present, and future physical and mental conditions and treatment procedures. Shielding this kind of extremely sensitive information is of the utmost importance for any business that handles PHI including healthcare providers, insurers, financial services, and other health related service.

HIPPA built strict guidelines with the HIPPA Privacy Rule and the HIPPA Security Rules characterizing how this delicate information must be protected. Most healthcare providers and organizations work with a HIPPA compliant hosting provider and data center to safeguard information that is online or transmitted over the Internet. The HIPPA Security Principles fall into three classifications:

•Administrative Safeguards requires the assignment of a privacy offer; an annual risk assessment; employee preparation; workforce security and observance to information access standards for all involved with PHI.

•Physical Safeguards oversee four areas of compliance regulations that include facility access controls; workstation use; workstation security; and device and media controls.

•Technical Safeguards outlines the five areas of technology that defend PHI.  Technology must comply for access control; audit controls; integrity; authentication; and transmission security.

The punishment and penalties for HIPPA non-compliance can be extreme.  The financial ramifications can be as high as $50,000 per violation or more!   If you are concerned about your business meeting HIPPA’s strict standards for technology, please give your local Geeks On Call office a call for a consultation.  We have many owners that specialize in HIPPA compliance and regulations.  While we are not giving legal advice, we can certainly help with your technology.

What is your computer doing during while you are taking a summer vacation?

Posting Date: 05/22/2014  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Technology, Tips  |   1 Comment
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Your computer gave you a great deal of support and guidance during the planning of your summer vacation.  The time spent looking at travel websites to find the ideal vacation location, the hours of price comparing to find the best deal, the moment of exhilaration when you found those airline tickets for $200 less.  You couldn’t have planned this amazing vacation without the help of your computer, have you taken the steps to protect it?

The Ideal Vacation Experience: Suitcase, Sunscreen and a Computer with reliable backup solution.

Summers are the time many of take a break and enjoy the weather, but it can also provide unpredictable weather situations!  Summer brings extreme heats, hurricanes, heavy rains and flash floods that result in power failures and technology system break downs.

In the event that you leave your computer vulnerable to these weather situations, consider this a warning and a time to get your computer’s backup solution in order! On the off chance that you are truly able to have a worry free vacation, then make certain to protect your machine before you leave.  The last thing you want on the vacation that you spent weeks planning and month’s day dreaming about, is word from home that severe weather has destroyed your computer and you can’t recover any of your information!

Be ready and make a move to ensure you are protects and able to enjoy your summer vacation with these backup suggestions: 

  • Backup for Business: A dependable backup solutions is essential for the security of your business information. Your business information is the most important asset to your business. Imagine how you would run your business without financial, client, and inventory documentation.  Over half of businesses don’t survive after a major data loss, make sure you are not one of these and can easily get back up and running quickly when a data loss occurs.
  • Home Backup Solutions: How are you ensuring the safety of your personal files, information and photos?  Is it with flash drives that are thrown in the back of a drawer, external hard drives stashed next to your computer, have you ever really given it much thought?  Flashes drives and external hard drives are not acceptable backup solutions, and it is something you need to think about!  If you home floods or catches fire, hard drives and flashes drives will also be destroyed.  You need to protect your personal and financial records, and your cherished family photographs with a reliable and backup solution.
  • Work Flexibility: Backup solutions can provide more than just sense of security; it can also provide you greater work and life flexibility.  In the event that you are on beach somewhere or having a fun filled “staycation”, you may need to weigh in with your office at some point. You can stay joined with business data, financial information, or customer matters by means of remote access. You will not have to stress about missing out on your vacation or family time, you can stay up to date and connected to the office and everything you need from anywhere.

 

In the event that a backup solution is not in place at your business or your home, use your impending summer vacation as a target date to aim for and get prepared!  Contact your local IT expert to help you determine and implement a backup solution that meets all of your needs.  With this crossed off your to-do list you can spend your summer relaxing – anywhere!