Your 2018 New Year’s TECH Resolutions!

Say goodbye to 2017 and make some changes to protect your Technology

As with all New Year’s Resolutions- my advice is not to make them SO insurmountable that you set yourself up for failure. On the flip side, don’t make them so easy that they do nothing for you, or that you feel no sense of accomplishment.

1. ORGANIZE!

That being said, my number one Resolution is to Organize. Now this is an incredibly broad word and in its entirety, is way easier said than done. My point here is just focus on ONE part of your life. Your desk, your bedroom, your kitchen. Likewise, maybe just your EMAIL, your to-do list, your daily routine, etc.

My focus here is related to a conversation I had with a friend last night. They were searching everywhere for their medical card (NOT a Medical marijuana one). I asked them if they use Dropbox. She said “yes, it’s great for all my pictures!” I used to do that too. It is so one dimensional though that I was missing the point. When I came to LA Creative Technologies I found a big EMPTY file cabinet. I asked Josh where all his important documents were- like the one I had at my last business that overflowed with papers and junk and mismatched files?

He said- “they’re all in the cloud”. Assuming that he didn’t just throw them all in a bonfire I asked questions and found that he kept scanned copies of EVERYTHING- contracts, tax returns, legal documents, leases, warranties, etc. etc. in a cloud application like Drop Box. Anywhere we go in the world we simply sign in to that app, search for the folder (or even the name of the document, like “copy of Driver’s license”) and Viola! there it is!

So, guess what? No more frantic searching for documents or ID cards that you need once a year and can never remember the “clever” spot you put them in! Try this and you will NEVER look back! AND you will never look for those documents either!

2. UPDATE your software!

Some of the most damaging Cyber-attacks in 2017 involved Ransomware.  In May, the ransomware known as WannaCry affected more than 200,000 Windows computers in 150 countries. Security experts believe the malware spread through machines by getting people to download it via email.

This is the incredible part: Microsoft had already released a security update that would have prevented the WannaCry malware from infecting machines. But the hacked computers were behind on downloading the updates. This episode was an important reminder that keeping your software up to date is crucial.

3. Read Privacy Policies

Amid Uber’s laundry list of scandals, which included sexual harassment accusations and an undisclosed security breach, there was an important revelation that everyone can learn from. It involved Unroll.me, a free service that unsubscribes you from junk mail.

To gather intelligence about its competition, Uber bought information about its main rival, Lyft, from Unroll.me. How did Uber do that, exactly? Unroll.me scanned the contents of its users’ inboxes and sold anonymized data, information that did not have individuals’ names attached to it — in this case, emailed Lyft receipts — to Uber.

You may be shocked to learn about Unroll.me’s business model. But the truth was always there in the fine print: the company’s privacy policy clearly stated that “we may collect, use, transfer, sell and disclose non-personal information for any purpose” and that data can be used “to build anonymous market research products and services.” Still, people were understandably outraged by the misleading nature of Unroll.me. A company that promised to rid you of spam mail scanned your inbox and sold information about you to other companies, including marketers.

So, make it a habit to read a company’s privacy policy. As boring as it sounds, a bit of reading will go a long way.

4. Delete Unnecessary Apps

The Unroll.me episode also raised awareness of the sheer number of third-party apps that may be leeching off your personal information. There are probably apps and web services you don’t remember downloading or subscribing to, and they could still have access to your data.

THIS year do an audit on your third-party apps. On your smartphone, delete apps that you have not touched in several months. For a clean break, in some cases you will also have to visit the company’s website and request that your account be deleted entirely.

Also check your primary online accounts, like Facebook, Twitter or Google, to see which apps are hooked into them. Chances are you have used those accounts to quickly sign up for a web tool or app. The ones you never use may still be leeching off your personal data, so you should disable them.

On Facebook, go to the settings page and click on the Apps tab to see which apps are connected to the account. On your Google account page, you can find a similar apps list labeled “Connected apps & sites.” And on Twitter, go to the Apps page under “Settings and privacy.”

5. Use a VPN

In April, Congress voted to overturn privacy rules that would have made it more difficult for broadband providers like Comcast and Charter to track and sell information about your browsing history to advertisers. The stronger privacy rules never went into effect, meaning nothing changed. But the privacy repeal underlined the sheer magnitude of data that internet service providers can collect and share about you. Subscribing to a virtual private network, or VPN, is a meaningful safeguard for your online privacy.

When you browse the web, a broadband provider helps route your device’s internet traffic to each destination website. Every device you use has an identifier consisting of a string of numbers, also known as an IP address. When you are on the internet, a service provider can see which devices you use and which sites you visit. You must realize that this information is used extensively in marketing and advertising to YOU among other things.

VPNs help cloak your browsing information from your internet provider. When you use VPN software, your device connects to a VPN provider’s servers. That way, all your web traffic passes through the VPN provider’s internet connection. So, if your internet provider was trying to listen in on your web traffic, all it would see is the VPN server’s IP address connected to the VPN service.

VPNs have their drawbacks. They often slow down internet speeds significantly, and some apps or services don’t work properly when you are connected to a VPN. I also wasn’t able to buy my 5th Groupon in a row during a sale because they found I was using a VPN from a different state (we’ll leave that story for another time…). But everybody can benefit from using a private network, especially in certain situations, like connecting to an open Wi-Fi network at a cafe or an airport.

BONUS Resolution!

For the love of Pete (Or any other person or Deity you choose), get a case and screen protector for your phone!! Just because you got it FREE or only $199 (with an MSRP of $999) after agreeing to pay $30 extra dollars a month, DOES’NT mean that it will be free again when you drop it.

Newer phones are made more and more out of glass and are even more susceptible to damage. For someone who worked in the cell phone industry over 18 years, this author doesn’t leave the store without a case and screen protector in hand (or at least an order placed on Ebay/Amazon for one)

 

I hope these help you to enter 2018 more aware of Internet Technology and how it can and WILL improve your life. People say technology is doing damage in some ways to society, but I feel it’s all in the hands of the users. Literally. Let it IMPROVE your life, not take it over.  I wish you all a Wonderful, Happy and Healthy New Year!

See you in 2018.

 

Some of this information was quoted from New York Times writer Brian X. Chen’s article “5 New Year’s Resolutions to protect your Technology”

 

How to Auto-Post your Blog Posts to your Social Media!

Tonight I was wondering how to get the posts from this blog to automatically post on my social media pages. Since a pretty consistent theme for me is not remembering to do anything on Social Media that doesn’t happen on its own  these days 🙂

Since this is a WordPress blog, I looked for WordPress Auto-Posting plugins and came back with a pretty obvious winner: SNAP Auto-Poster.  This thing can log into Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, etc and syndicate your content so it looks like YOU actually posted it. The plugin is free, but you have to pay $49/year to use certain sites (Google+ for one) and get additional flexibility in posting. Since Google+ is really important for search rankings, I think this is worth it.

This thing is really easy to set up! I’ll walk you through it below:

  1. Log into the admin panel of your WordPress blog.
  2. Click “Plugins” on the left-hand side menu -> Click “Add New
  3. Search for “Snap Auto-Poster” and install the plugin when you find it.
  4. Click “Plugins” on the left-hand side menu -> Click “Installed Plugins
  5. Click Activate under Snap Auto-Poster
  6. Click Settings under Snap Auto-Poster
  7. Now you’ll be using the “Add Account” button to add your various accounts
    1. Facebook:  there’s a number of steps that involve making a “Facebook App”. This means that your posts will look like your company legitimately posted them, rather than seeming to be syndicated by a re-posting app (this is a good thing). Follow the guide here.

 

 

Employee Engagement

It’s not unreasonable to think that a happy employee will be a more productive employee.  That’s kind of human nature, isn’t it?  If you’re recognized for your hard work and you’re praised for something that you’ve done well, that typically makes you feel good.  If you’re completely ignored, no matter how hard you work, or if you feel like your ideas aren’t heard- then you probably won’t experience a sense of self-worth in your position.  This is relevant in all aspects of our lives, not just when it comes to employment.  It’s easy to forget these simple truths of life when we’re caught up in the daily chaos and hubbub of work, so we’ve compiled a list of things that you should keep in the back of your mind to promote the type of engagement and productivity that you’d like to see from your employees and coworkers.

  • Share the wealth. First and foremost, we all go to work every day to make money to provide for our families and ourselves.  Do not lose sight of the fact that each and every person in every organization is primarily there to earn a living.  Don’t be too stingy.  Evaluate your employees regularly and understand if they’re underpaid or are lacking in benefits.  One of the quickest ways to alienate employees, lose their respect, and eventually have them leave you is by neglecting raises and promotions, especially if it’s obvious that business is on the incline.
  • Listen. When it comes to implementing new processes or considering going after new markets, get the ideas from your employees.  The people that actually do the processes every day are the ones that really want to be heard.  They want their ideas to be put in motion and they don’t want to be completely ignored.  Likely the easiest way to earn respect and increase employee pride and production is simply by hearing them!
  • Keep it fun. Even though we’re at work, we don’t want it to feel like work.  While that might be a wish and a pipe-dream in some situations, it shouldn’t be hard to offer some sort of fun incentive to promote internal competition.  Simply putting a gift card or convenient, dedicated parking spot on the line each week or month is an effective method of increasing production and employee participation.
  • Comfortable climate and atmosphere. Where possible, keeping working conditions comfortable in temperature and humidity can go a long way in promoting employee happiness.  If you’re in a 90 degree, 70% humidity environment for any length of time, you will likely feel hot, drained, and annoyed.

These are in no way the only ways to promote employee buy-in or engagement within an organization.  They’re just some of the easiest and most effective ways to build a good working relationship with your employees.  This guide is an excellent document to better understand the science behind employee happiness and the reflection that moral has on engagement and production. Happy employees are more productive employees – so put it at the top of your priority list.

10 ways traditional IT is hurting you

Traditional ITIs your I.T. adding real value to your operations – or holding you back?

“Traditional” I.T. providers are detracting from their clients’ business goals by narrowly focusing on their client’s tech infrastructure. Without a business-first I.T. strategy developed by a Virtual CIO (VCIO), many companies are missing out on the opportunity to leverage technology in the pursuit of streamlined workflows, successful projects, improved marketing & sales, and much more

Here are 10 ways your traditional I.T. provider is holding you back:

  • Hardware Focus – A focus on only the workstations and servers of your I.T. environment ignores both the unique ways our users work and also the broader strategies of your business that can be served by technology.
  • Collaboration Catastrophe – Lack of a properly defined collaboration policy results in mismatched files versions, insufficient access controls and files missing when they are needed most.
  • Lack of Accountability – Without properly implemented task & project management systems, employees experience lack of ownership and accountability in their daily work.
  • Islands of Isolation – When new systems are chosen and implemented without the proper strategic planning, business departments are isolated from each other, resulting in lack of clarity and missed opportunities for automation.
  • Data Leaks – When basic access is all that is necessary to discover and steal confidential information, security is at risk and executives never know when their sensitive data will be exposed for all to see.
  • Online Marketing Road Block – Online marketing is not a priority for traditional I.T.: analytics, email, and landing pages are tools that cannot be ignored in a successful growth plan for a modern business.
  • Lack of Business Intelligence – Various business systems (Quickbooks, CRMs, Marketing & Web Apps) are gathering data about your business and its customers, but without dashboards and reporting this data gets lost and you aren’t’ able to act on it!
  • Sluggish Productivity – Constant errors, applications that don’t work, and employees without the proper productivity training are wasting minutes and hours every day, chewing up huge amounts of payroll while getting nothing done.
  • Zero Executive Control – Companies without the proper automation in executive workflow & reporting lack the data need to make decisions and grow their company to the next level.
  • Chewing Up Capital and Operating Expenses – Traditional I.T. focuses on CAPEX, selling software and hardware upfront and missing out on tax savings and convenience of ongoing OPEX models. Explore these options to increase convenience and save money.

Don’t let these common mistakes hold your business back from exceeding all of your goals. Let {company} add real value to your operations with strategies, support, and innovative I.T. solutions that align uniquely with your needs and objectives. Contact us at {email} or {phone}.

Tricks to Use to Protect Your Computer From Vulnerabilities in QuickTime

There are at least two known vulnerabilities in QuickTime for Windows. While this is not the first time vulnerabilities have been found in this video playing program, it is the first time that Apple will not be patching them. Apple’s support for QuickTime for Windows ended in January of this year, though they did not inform any consumers of it. Instead, those who are using QuickTime on Windows PCs were left to find out about it through other sources online, or in tech magazines. Some people may not have heard about the issue with QuickTime yet at all.

Quicktime

Apple will continue patching security vulnerabilities in QuickTime on Mac computers, as well as updating the software. Windows users will need to find new software programs to play their videos. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to protect your computer from the vulnerabilities in QuickTime for Windows while you look for a new video player.

1. Do Not Open Any Unknown Videos in QuickTime

The main way hackers can gain access to your computer through the vulnerabilities in QuickTime for Windows is by getting you to play one of their videos on it. If you are emailed a strange video from someone you do not know, or if you come across a video on a website you don’t trust or that is new to you, do not open it in QuickTime. With videos sent to you by strangers, it is probably better to not play the video at all. If you must play it, use a different video player that you know is secure, and make sure your computer’s anti-virus and anti-malware software is turned on when you do it. There are still a good number of well known video players that are supported by Windows computers, so you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding an alternative video player to QuickTime.

2. Go Back to an Earlier Version of Windows

Apple stopped supporting QuickTime on Windows 8 and 10 a while ago. In fact, they never supported it on these versions of Windows, but no one knew it, as QuickTime kept being offered with those computers. If you are able to reinstall an earlier version of Windows on your computer until you get a new video player, you may be able to use QuickTime more safely. This will only work if you had an earlier version of Windows on the same computer you’re currently using and upgraded with QuickTime on it. QuickTime was being supported until January on earlier versions of Windows, so if you previously had an earlier version, going back to it may mean being able to use QuickTime more securely. As you want to be using the most recent version of Windows, this should only be a temporary solution until you can get a new video player.

3. Uninstall QuickTime From Your Computer

The best way to protect your computer is to avoid the possibility of accidentally using QuickTime at all. This means uninstalling it from your computer. This is what all the tech magazines and websites are recommending anyone with a Windows PC do. Whether your Windows PC is used at work or for personal use at home, it needs to go. You can easily uninstall QuickTime from your computer by going into your control panel and selecting the software icon. From there, locate QuickTime in your list of software programs, select it, then click the install/uninstall link at the top of the page. Once the uninstall feature completes its work, you will no longer have QuickTime on your computer, and your computer will be protected from its vulnerabilities.

Do you know the true power of LinkedIn?

Everyone in the business world knows that LinkedIn is a powerful tool. However, many businesses have neglected to maximize its potential for marketing success. There is far more to LinkedIn than just connecting with some users and joining a few conversations. As LinkedIn continues to evolve, an increasing number of valuable features are being made available to users to help them reach new clients and valuable business contacts.

LINKEDIN

Unfortunately, many of the people that could be benefitting from LinkedIn’s many features have written it off. While it may not be as new and exciting as other social media platforms, LinkedIn provides a key advantage: Users are defined by their role in the business world, which makes networking with others a simple matter. 

LinkedIn is a simple and free way to grow your business through networking initiatives. By expanding your business circles online, your business is promoted through demographics and communities you’d likely never reach otherwise.

The key is in how you use LinkedIn. Remember: It’s not Facebook or Twitter, so you can’t always post the same type of content, or in the same way. Similarly, LinkedIn isn’t your business’ website, so you can’t expect it to directly generate revenues. It’s a lot to keep in mind, so consider these keys to success when developing your business’ LinkedIn presence:

  • Remember your audience. This is LinkedIn; not Facebook. As such, it’s best to keep your posts professional. The people you have connected with are far more interested in your opinions on the latest business news than they are in seeing a photo of your daughter eating her first plate of spaghetti.
  • Don’t hesitate to reshare the good stuff: A good article is a good article, simple as that. Even if you shared it on a different social media platform that may have an overlapping audience, don’t be afraid to update it for your LinkedIn network. Most of your LinkedIn connections will not have seen the article before, so sharing it again will, at worst, only serve to refresh the idea.
  • Let go of the hard sell: One way to diminish your audience is to post articles that scream “buy my product or service!”. In the “in your face” world of online marketing, subtle is always better. You can casually mention what you do, but remain focused on providing valuable information to your audience.
  • Stagger your posts: It’s always great when you have a lot of things to say; what isn’t so great is saying them all at once. Do not inundate your audience with a barrage of posts. Set up a posting calendar or, at least, try to limit your posting to a set number per day or per week. Not only do you want to get your message across, but you also want to give them time to think about it before you present your next idea. This will give them time to understand what you’re saying and respond if they so choose.

Above all else, just keep at it. You may not see a return right away, but keep in mind that as a free service, LinkedIn will always be cost-effective, so don’t get discouraged.

{company} is the trusted choice when it comes to staying ahead of the latest information technology tips, tricks, and news. Contact us at {phone} or send us an email at {email} for more information.

5 Tips & Tricks For Using Google Photos On Mobile

Google’s new photo application is changing the way people store, organize, and share pictures. The app has got lots of great features like automatic backup, link sharing, collaborative tools, and much more. We’ve hunted through every aspect of Google’s overhauled photo management platform to bring you the best features and tips that you might not have discovered yet.

Google Mobile

Share:

One of the best parts of Google Photos is how easy it is to share images through a link. Anyone with the link can see the selected pictures though, so make sure to go through them regularly and delete the ones you don’t need anymore. All you need to get the link is go to Shared links on the web menu.

Send Videos to YouTube:

Google Photos has some awesome video features too. It will store an unlimited number of videos and even upload them to You Tube. Head to the YouTube upload page and there’s a new option to import clips straight from Google Photos into your YouTube channel, where you can title, tag, and share as much as you want.

Backup:

Google Photos sends every picture you take to your smartphone, tablet, or to the cloud. You can even do the same for apps like Instagram and WhatsApp on Android. All you need to do is open the app menu then go to Device folders to choose which folders to include or exclude from the back up process.

Create Stories:

Google Photos lets you create albums out of your photos with captions and a particular flow. All you need to do is go through the mobile apps. Just tap the Create icon (a plus symbol) then choose Story, then select the pictures you want, add captions and locations, and even change the cover photo.

View photos and videos in Google Drive

Go into the Google Photos settings on the web and you can choose to view photos and videos stored in Google Drive through the app. It is super useful if you already have a lot of your content stored in Google Drive.

For more tips and tricks on using your favorite app, give {company} a call at {phone} or send an email to {email}.

Top 10 Tips for Better Cyber Security

Data security is not just important to big data firms, it’s important to everyone. Every day, hackers, cyber thieves, and cyber terrorists are looking for easy targets- and all too often- those targets are innocent and hard working people like you.

Cyber Security

Here are the top 10 most important ways you can secure your data and fend off electronic attackers.

1. Use your debit card as a credit card

It may take a bit longer, but running a debit card as a credit card offers somewhat more protection for your financial data. It’s best to use this tip when shopping online or while traveling. For more security, use it as a credit card at all purchase points.

2. Vary your passwords

It can be inconvenient to use different passwords on different sites, but it’s very important that you do so. Using the same password on more than one site more than doubles your security risk, and it does do with each additional site where you use the same password. It’s best to keep a notebook with your passwords in it.

3. Do not click “Unsubscribe”

Clicking on these links sends a clear signal to spammers that you are a live email address. Clicking unsubscribe will attract even more spam. It’s better to block sources of unwanted emails.

4. Beef up your passwords

Using random capitalization and inserting numbers will make an average strength password practically uncrackable. Throw in an odd symbol in the middle and even a block of NSA supercomputers wouldn’t be able to beat your password without reading your mind.

5. Password protect mobile devices

This is the main way accounts get infiltrated. Most people also have few protections set up on these devices. You may rarely let them out of your site, but all it takes is one slip up in the wrong place and you might as well hand your password diary over to a stranger.

6. Don’t leave computers unattended and unlocked at work

Most people have at least one person at work who would like to sabotage them in some way. Leaving a computer unlocked and unattended at the office is a good way to have personal or sensitive info spilled in the workplace.

7. Don’t fall prey to phishing scams

Emails from strange places with bizarrely attractive offers of free money or cheap goods are always fraudulent. Always. Flag them. Ignore them. Delete them.

8. Make sure people on your networks know how to stay safe

You may be all buttoned down when it comes to security. But it only takes one person on your local network making bad security choices to ruin all your security provisions. It could be an employee or coworker fooling around on social media, it could be a teenager buying games from untrustworthy sites- or any number of sloppy behavior by those on your local network. Make sure people using your system know your rules and abide by them.

9. Use a password management system

Passwords are your first and best line of defense. But using them well can quickly become confusing. Changing them regularly can make you invisible, but mistakes happen. A password management system can take care of all this for you, eliminating the need for a password diary, or the need to dedicate passwords to memory.

10. Update your software

It can be annoying when update requests come up on your system, but the security updates should be allowed and accepted almost without exception. At every big software company, there are teams of code writers working every day to defeat the latest weapons invented by cyber attackers. Security updates contain these newest and best security measures. They are free, most of the time. There’s no reason not to accept them gladly.

Apple’s iPhone Trade-in Program Just Got a Little Sweeter

iphone trade inApple’s new trade-in program might just help cut-down costs for those who have bad luck keeping their iPhones in perfect condition. They are hoping to achieve an increase in sales by allowing iPhone users to trade in their damaged iPhones (5s and up) for an upgrade rather than a standard screen repair.

Apple has stated that they might see a decrease in revenue for the first time in approximately 13 years. This is your chance to take advantage and get that upgrade you’ve wanted for less.

Their current Reuse and Recycle program only allows you to trade in older models that are in good condition, no cracked displays, broken cameras or buttons. But now, that’s about to change.

With the new iPhone 7 being released this fall, many will want to jump on the bandwagon and upgrade their phones, and now even if they have damage, you can still be eligible for credits towards the purchase of a newer model:

  • $50 for damaged iPhone 5s,
  • $200 for damaged iPhone 6,
  • $250 for damaged iPhone 6s, and
  • Up to $500 for undamaged 6s.

In some cases, your trade-in can result in cheaper subsidies and financing plans with your new credits. Note, these trade-ins do not apply to online trades. Apple is also jumpstarting a new program that will allow Apple retail stores to install plastic screen protectors on iPhones in the back of the store.

If the machine results in an error placing the protector on your iPhone, they will offer you a free screen protector replacement and re-attempt the installation.

{company} keeps your business successful with well managed information technology that works for you. Book a consultation to find out more. You can contact us at {phone} or email us at {email} to speak with one of our IT specialists.

Stay One Step Ahead of Hackers with These 4 Network Security Tips

We know that when it comes to your business networks, regardless of industry or the size of your operations, security is essential. You don’t just need peace of mind knowing that your data is safe: you also need assurance that your workforce won’t be plagued by downtime and disruptions.

computer security

Proactively planning for the health and security of your network allows you to stay one step ahead of the game – and following these 4 simple tips will help keep you protected.

Stick to The Basics

Keeping your network safe is about strategy – and sometimes, the simplest idea is the best one. The basics of network security are essential and shouldn’t be overlooked. That means utilizing complex and frequently changing passwords on all of your devices, accounts, and important applications.

It also means investing in reliable anti-virus software and firewall protection to ensure that you have proactive defences against hackers other online threats.

Plan Strategically

Working with an experienced IT partner is ideal. Security can’t just be reactive – you need reliable and strategic solutions set up to protect your sensitive data and resources. By assessing your network, devices, and processes, a great IT partner will be able to provide unique security solutions that are aligned with your needs.

Educate Your Workforce

Too many businesses invest money in comprehensive security solutions but then skip an important step by never investing time in educating their team. It’s crucial that your workforce understands how to safely navigate online, including their Email inbox.

Simple tips like avoiding unexpected downloads or attachments (cyber criminals pose as trusted sources to infect your network), staying away from free Wi-Fi spots (often set up by scammers), and checking the default security settings on devices, will keep your business network safer.

Never Let Your Guard Down

Security isn’t a one-time thing. Threats are constantly evolving – hackers look for new ways to exploit vulnerabilities and steal information. But with a persistent, strategic approach, you’re able to keep your network protected against intrusions. It’s critical to stay up-to-date on security trends, so employees don’t fall for avoidable new scams or tactics being used by hackers.

Protecting your network doesn’t have to be such a headache. By following a few simple tips staying conscious of security and processes throughout your organization, your business network will remain healthy and secure.

Reach out to {company} to speak more in-depth about network security solutions and the most effective ways to keep your operations running without disruptions. Get in touch with our team of IT professionals at {email} or {phone} to learn more.