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Why Fly When You Can Skype?

Posting Date: 04/22/2015  |   Filed Under: Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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shutterstock_171075893-300x200Ugh, air travel. It just keeps getting worse and worse. The combination of over-sold flights, cramped seats, lost luggage and weather delays have made business travel more frustrating than ever. Luckily there are great video communication alternatives to expensive and time-consuming business travel.

Microsoft Introduces Skype for Business

Each month, over 300 million people use Skype to communicate with long-distance family, friends and colleagues. Microsoft announced in 2014 that they were updating Lync, their business communications “chat” app. The update product is known as Skype for Business. It’s based on Skype’s design yet draws on many of Lync’s features. Here’s what you can expect from this new Microsoft business product that is scheduled to be available in April 2015:

  • Skype for Business features enterprise-grade security, compliance and IT control.
  • Users can search for and connect with anyone in the Skype network. Users can connect with others who are either inside or outside the same organization. Just use Skype’s directory to contact any user on any device.
  • Skype for Business doesn’t require any new hardware. Current Lync users can easily update to Skype for Business Server within their datacenters. For Office 365 users, service is easily available via the online version of Office.
  • Skype for Business is integrated into Microsoft Office and has built-in features that deliver IM, voice, video calls and online meetings.

Skype for Business – Give it a Try!

If you have used Skype only for family-friendly holiday chats with long distance family members, you might want to try video business conferencing. Plus, if you have been using Lync, it’s time to upgrade to Microsoft’s Skype for Business.

Geeks On Call can help you learn more about video conferencing or help with the deployment of a new product, Contact Geeks On Call today and one of their technology professionals can assist you.

Risky Business: Is Your Business Using Unsupported Products?

Posting Date: 03/10/2015  |   Filed Under: Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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GOCBlogAfter Microsoft XP’s demise last year, we hope that you followed the migration guidelines and are no longer using Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Office 2003. If you didn’t follow through on those important upgrades, you have a problem on your hands. If your business is using Microsoft Server 2003 your problems are about to get even more complicated. Continuing to use unsupported products such as Windows XP, Office 2003 and Server 2003 can be a risky business with dangerous consequences.

Don’t Ignore Microsoft Server 2003′s Deadline

Server 2003 is scheduled to join the Microsoft legacy list on July 14, 2015. Ignoring this deadline is not an option. Here’s why:

Compliance Issues:  The Department of Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team has been issuing alerts about the demise of Server 2003. Just the mention of Homeland Security indicates that this is an issue of major concern. Enterprises that are subject to regulatory obligations and are still running Server 2003 after July 14 are in danger. Any organization not meeting standard compliance requirements can face the suspension of certifications. This can lead to non-compliant issues and legal peril that can damage your business’ reputation.

Security Issues:  Homeland Security has issued warnings that continuing to run Server 2003 after the deadline will leave your business open to elevated cybersecurity risks. Your business’ data and customer information will be at risk to viruses, hackers and spyware. Don’t become a victim of cybercrime by leaving your most valuable assets at risk.

Upgrade Expenses: As a business owners, don’t try to save money by neglecting an upgrade. This is not the place to trim costs. You could end up dealing with problems that are significantly more expensive than the cost of an upgrade.

Consider Alternatives to Microsoft Server 2003

Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a long list of improvements over Server 2003 such as including better scalability, security, new operational roles and more.  Avoid Server 2008 because that product already reached the end of mainstream support in January 2015.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud hosted version of Office applications that is offered as a subscription service. The subscription format means you that won’t need to upgrade your Office products in the future. The subscription format enables a monthly or annual subscription fee that offers access to the latest version of the products you need.

Azure is Microsoft’s hosted server product developed for IT integrators. Azure enables applications and software to be deployed on an individual rather than a collective basis. A hybrid of Office 365 and Azure can be an alternative for industries that have developed applications that are reliant on 32 bit technology.

Avoid Risky Business!

Are you the owner of a small to medium sized business and are still using Microsoft Server 2003, Windows XP or Office2003? If yes, we strongly encourage that you take immediate action. Continuing to use unsupported products can place your business in serious jeopardy. Geeks On Call can help you understand your migration options. Contact Geeks On Call today and one of their technology professionals can work with you to develop an upgrade strategy.

New Year’s Resolution: Improve Your Financial Efficiency with QuickBooks

Posting Date: 01/07/2015  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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high angle view of a credit card on a laptopDid you make a list of New Year’s resolutions?

Does it include all of the usual items?

A new exercise regimen and a diet plan? De-clutter your basement and attic? Do better at recycling? Volunteer? Spend more time with your family?

Beyond those noble efforts, have you thought about improving the efficiency of your financial processes?

 

Improve the Efficiency of Your Financial Processes with QuickBooks

If overhauling your business’ financial processes didn’t make your list of goals for 2015, perhaps you should reconsider your list of resolutions. Maybe reorganizing those financial processes just seems like too much of a headache. Think again and consider QuickBooks. Many small business owners use QuickBooks to handle their daily finances, record-keeping and tax preparation.

QuickBooks Features:

  • With one quick click, you can see where your business stands by checking on your balance sheet. It’s easy to stay on top of your profit and loss statements.
  • Automatically download and categorize bank and credit card transactions. It’s easy to stay in sync with your bank and streamline your banking processes.
  • At tax time, it easy to track your expenses plus you can use mobile apps to photograph receipts with your smartphone.
  • Manage employee payroll and file payroll taxes.
  • Create customized professional-looking invoices with company branding.
  • Set up mobile payment processes.
  • Record and pay bills from vendors. Set-up and schedule recurring payments.
  • Your data is automatically backed up with bank-level security on a daily basis.

Give QuickBooks a Try in 2015

Geeks On Call can help you increase the efficiency of your business’ financial processes. Now is an ideal time to reevaluate your business’ financial systems. Contact your local Geeks On Call office for help with QuickBooks and other technology solutions.

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.

 

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.

Are you Suffering from Technology Overload?

Posting Date: 06/25/2013  |   Filed Under: Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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It seems to be a fact – the world has never been more digitally connected and less physically connected. Our daily lives are saturated with digital devices including mobile phones; tablets; in-car DVDs; headsets; GPS; touch screens at the supermarket, airport and hospital; gaming consoles; and entertainment screens at the gas pump. The list seems endless. A recent survey revealed that one third of Americans interviewed indicated that they prefer texting to talking and 84% say they absolutely cannot function for more than one day without their smartphone. Just think of that YouTube video showing a person falling into a fountain while checking FaceBook or the commercial that depicts a bride walking down the aisle while texting. There are even apps that block your on-line usage when you simply can’t disconnect yourself. It’s funny – to a degree.

For some people, it’s all about Social Media, podcasts, music and news and for others it’s about the ability to work increasingly longer hours. Today’s tablets and smartphones have created a situation where everyone should be on, available and entertained 24/7. Our constant dependence on technology has reached a point that for some users it’s clearly an unhealthy obsession. For others, the continuous digital overload becomes draining both mentally and physically. Whatever the situation, the ability to periodically unplug is important for your health, creativity and relationships.

Assuming you don’t feel the need to undergo a professional “digital detox”, spend top dollar at anti-digital spa resort or use an app that shuts off your digital access, here are some simple steps you can take to periodically unplug.

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    1. Start your day, then your phone: Does your morning routine consist of waking up, checking your phone and then getting out of bed? Start your day before you start your phone. Enjoy some time to yourself before opening your brain to the interruptions of the outside world. This is especially important if you have breakfast with other family members. Checking your email can help you to plan your day, but see if you can fit in a shower and a coffee before switching to thoughts of your schedule.
    2. Airplane mode on the ground: If your phone is also your morning alarm clock, turn on Airplane Mode before you go to sleep. This will turn off your data connection and mobile phone signal, preventing late night social media notifications and wrong number calls. If you must be available to take phone calls after business hours, turn off just your mobile data connection and your Wi-Fi. If you are having a day off and still want internet access, just turn off the connection to your work email account, so you’re not tempted to check that new message beep.
    3. Leave it behind: It may be too difficult to go one entire day without your phone, especially a working day, but do you really need it in your hand every minute? When you have a mental break and step away from your computer, leave your phone at your desk too. Tell your colleagues that you’ll be back in ten minutes and go for a walk without your electronic device. Calls can all be returned when you’re back at your desk.
    4. The amnesty box: Create an amnesty box in each meeting room for phones & tablets to be deposited into at the start of a meeting. Talk to one another and write any main points or action items on a whiteboard. At the end of the meeting, you can grab your phone and enter any new tasks or take a photo of the entire whiteboard. This prevents people from becoming distracted by social media and applications. Adopt this box at home too and include everyone’s iPods/MP3 players when some technology-free time is needed, especially at mealtimes.
    1. Time out: Set some time schedules for ignoring the internet. This could include “no technology before 8 AM or after 8 PM” or “no phones for one hour after getting home.” Resist the temptation to check work emails before going to bed. Work-related anxiety might interrupt your sleep. If you need to stay available, place your phone on a shelf or in a nearby room with the volume set loud enough for you to not miss any important calls.
    1. E Mail Sabbatical: To truly enjoy your vacation or holiday, stop checking your e-mail. Even if you empty your in-box, it’s probably filled up again by the next morning. Constantly checking messages keeps you on the “hamster wheel” of anxiety. Let it go – the e-mails will be waiting for you when you return from the holiday.
  1. Healthy Alternatives: The best way to forget about your “digital ball and chain” is get outdoors and exercise. Getting out into nature is the best way to digitally disconnect, wipe your slate clean and re-charge. Go hiking in a location where there’s no cell service so you won’t be tempted. Go swimming. Spend uninterrupted time with your family and friends. Walk the dog. Visit the museum where you must turn-off your phone.

After taking a digital vacation, maybe you would like to consider new solutions for mobility and flexibility. Perhaps it’s time to find a better way to manage your e-mail. Contact your local Geeks On Call about connection settings, e-mail options, apps on your phone or for any of your technology needs.

Best Practices for Disposing of Old Computers

Posting Date: 05/29/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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Newer and faster laptops, phones and tablets are being released every day it seems, but what are we supposed to do with the outdated devices we no longer want to use? The security of proprietary and personal information and environmental issues are the primary concerns when disposing of unwanted computers. Here are some guidelines we recommend when phasing out computers from your business or home.

Deleting a File Does Not Actually Erase Information

When you delete a file from the hard drive, the operating system only deletes the information deletethat describes where the file is located. Simply deleting files, emptying the recycle bin or reformatting the hard drive is not enough to cover your digital tracks. In addition to documents, photos, videos, and private information that is accessible on your computer; there is also your Internet browser’s cache, cookies and history; email contacts and messages; and the recycle or trash folder.

Don’t take a chance with the security of your business and personal information. A Geeks On Call technician can complete any of the following strategies when trying to secure your personal information on an old device.

  • The most cost-effective and commonly used strategy is the use of a software utility that overwrites the hard drive with random characters and binary data anywhere from three to more than 30 times. These utilities are typically referred to as data destruction software, hard drive eraser software or disk wipe software.
  • Another effective but more costly solution is degaussing. This is the erasure of information through the use of a powerful magnet. Degaussing disrupts the magnetic domains on the drive, which erases your data while also rendering the drive permanently unusable.
  • The physical destruction of a hard drive is the only way to absolutely and forever ensure that the data is no longer available. There are contractors who will perform this task on site, using the appropriate tools and safety precautions. We do not recommend this type of hard drive destruction by consumers.

Donate or Recycle Your Old Computer

Extending the computer’s lifespan through re-use provides the highest environmental benefit. There are many donation programs that bridge the digital divide by providing schools, non-profit organizations, military personnel, low-income families and students with needed recycletechnology.

When you donate or recycle an unwanted computer, there are a lot of details you will need to be concerned with such as; maintaining the security of information that was stored on the computer, locating local technology recyclers and refurbishers, and tax guidelines for charitable donations. Don’t feel overwhelmed by all of these details. Let your local Geeks On Call take on the burden. One of our professional technicians will be happy to explore the various options available to you when deciding how best to dispose of an unwanted computer. Here are some considerations when donating or recycling a computer:

  • If your computer is less than five years old chances are it can be put to good use. Most organizations have specific technology needs, so inquire in advance regarding donation guidelines.
  • Most charitable contributions are tax deductible and computers are no exception. Business donors can generally deduct the un-depreciated value of the computer and individuals can deduct the current market value of a computer. Remember to retain your receipt for tax records.
  • Consider donating your unwanted computer to a refurbisher who is equipped to repair and upgrade older computers. Certified refurbishers ensure that equipment works well and will pass on ready-to-use equipment at little or no cost to individuals and organizations. It is recommended that you remove your hard drive from any system that you donate to a refurbisher to ensure the security of your data.
  • Even if a computer cannot be reused or refurbished there are reputable technology recyclers that can ensure valuable raw materials are recovered from old computers and that any waste is disposed of in an environmentally-safe and responsible manner.

Let your local Geeks On Call do all the work for you. Our technicians are trained experts in making sure your personal information is secure and responsibly disposing of unwanted devices.