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Employee Training for Microsoft Office

Ask yourself this question…

How many of your employees are self-taught on the basics of MS Office applications? I’m talking about MS Word, MS Excel, MS Outlook, MS PowerPoint and MS Windows.

No surprises here. Most of us learn when a new task requires that we figure it out. Most of us learn by trial and error. Mail merge? Sales report? Financial reports? Download all your contacts from MS Outlook to your new email marketing service? Pivot tables? New sales presentation?

Now ask yourself this question…

How much time would you or your staff save if you received expert instructor-led training on just one of these daily applications/tools? Will your productivity increase? Would your stress decrease? Indubitably. 

This is why I am asking…

Employee Training Offered at Our Site or Yours

Employee TrainingThe Industry-Business Institute at Union County College can train your employees (and yourself) on ALL of these programs through workshops brought to your facility, on your schedule, at no charge. We provide this employee training service to businesses in the area AT NO CHARGE through a grant-funded program. Yes, it is the best kept secret of the county…but not anymore. We’ve trained over 7,000 in the last few years.

If you have fifteen employees to train, we can come to you. AND, we bring our laptops (up to 17 of them) to your premises if required, at no charge. If you have fewer than fifteen (15), you can partner with another company to host a class for employees from both. We also offer these same free programs at our campuses in Cranford and Elizabeth on a monthly basis. Your employees can enroll in one at a time.

All workshops are eight (8) hours long, can be booked for on premise classes for a single day or two half days depending on your requirements. Here is a link to follow to learn more www.ucc.edu/go/ibi – click on Ongoing Grant Funded Training.

Nancy Burke UCCI am always available to answer your questions, at 908-527-7207 or burke@ucc.edu.

Best always,

Nancy Burke
The Industry-Business Institute at Union County College

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Thanks Nancy for being a guest blogger and for providing such an amazing resource for businesses in our community.

Smart Office Solutions

Video Conferencing NJIf you are a business owner, you have enough to worry about without letting the technology of your business operations distract you from what’s really important. Control4 can help almost any business, large or small, create a competitive advantage by improving operating efficiencies and enhancing security. Doctors, dentists, architects, salon owners, designers, restaurant and bar owners, and even accountants need to impress their customers. But what’s really important is what the customer doesn’t see – the time and money you save using automation to keep your business running smoothly.

Automate Your Office

Set your lighting, music, temperature and video to greet your customers with the perfect welcome. All you have to do is set the “scene” and it can automatically activate at a time of day or when the first person arrives at the office.

Monitor your business from virtually anywhere. Set your office to alert you if anything out of the ordinary is happening. Whether equipment or lights are left on overnight or if unusual activity is detected over the weekend, you’ll always be in the know.

Give your customers an experience they will remember, whether it’s a personalized movie or concert during a root canal, a “concierge” button that summons personal service at a spa or hotel, or an impressive interactive presence in a design studio.

Employ the power of technology and automation to impress business associates in a conference room with integrated lights, shade control, and presentation equipment.

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Control4 certified technician Jesus Duque can guide you with choosing the best smart office solutions for your business. Call 908-240-4616 to learn more about automating your office.

How Can I Keep My Business Phone Number When I Move?

Many times clients ask me, “Donnie, how can I keep my business phone number when I move?” Well, I have good news! This is actually really easy to do.

In the old days, if you moved your business out of the area, it was not possible to take the phone number with you. The best option business owners had was to have the recorded message in the operator’s voice come on to say, “The phone number you have reached has been changed to…”

Today we have much better options. With VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), not only can you keep the phone number, you can have it ring to you wherever you go. Does it work for cell phone numbers? Yes! Does it work if the phone system doesn’t? Yes! Can you keep the number even if you move out of state? Yes!

It is so nice to be able to help business owners downsize their cost while upgrading their features. There are many situations we have been able to help with, for example:

– Barry started his business out of his home with his cell phone. The business has grown and now he has a team he wants customers to call even though he does not yet have an office. No problem, we just made the cell number the main company number. Calls are routed to whoever is available. Barry got a new cell phone and he can take calls on it when he wants to without giving out the cell number. Barry’s wife is happy he is not always on the phone.

– Tom’s business has changed over the years. With all the technological advances, he no longer needs an office and multiple phone lines. He set up a home office with a VoIP phone and purchased a second phone for his part time secretary, Jane, who works from her house. We set it up so all numbers ring to this one phone that can be answered by Tom or Jane. They can transfer calls to each other as needed, and customers do not need to know they are not working in the same space.

– Tami has taken her business on the road. She has always wanted to travel, and since most of her business is done by phone and internet, she does not need to stay in one place. Tami’s graphic design clients know she is only available during “office hours” and if they call when she is not working, voicemail messages are recorded and sent to Tami via email. She picks up the messages on her cell phone and calls clients back according to her work schedule. Some clients know that Tami is out gallivanting around the country and others assume she is still working out of the same space she was years ago.

As long as you own the number (you have not yet let it go or canceled the account), and your phone bills have been paid, your number can be moved to VoIP services. Call me if you have any questions: 908-240-4616.

Cyber Security – What You Can Do Now

Cyber SecurityWe have had many requests to support and address the growing concerns of protecting and securing business and personal data. The following links are easy to read and understand.

HIPAA Compliance: Best Practices to Apply to Your Industry

This article explains quite well the set of standard best practices we recommend to clients in all industries:

5 big myths surrounding computer security and HIPAA compliance

I especially enjoy the “Microsoft Office 365 is a no brainer” statement which we’ve been beating the drum about for quite some time now!

Cyber Security for Your Organization

In this one I really like the clean, easy to follow and ready to use checklists:

Top 10 Tips for Cybersecurity in Health Care

“While the tips were developed to help small health care practices apply cybersecurity and risk management principles, they are applicable to any type of organization.”

If you have questions/concerns or would like support implementing best practices in your business, call me at 908-240-4616.

Reminder: Support for Windows Server 2003 Ends in July!

Microsoft has previously announced that extended support for Windows Server 2003 will end on July 14, 2015. After the said date, Windows Server 2003 will no longer receive security patches, assisted technical support, and software updates from Microsoft. All systems running on this Operating System will be exposed to greater risks of Malware Attacks, Security Breaches, Data Loss, and Compatibility Issues.

Windows Server 2003The good news is that in the age of virtualization and the cloud, the migration options are more than ever before. In the past it might have been necessary to buy new hardware for every server upgrade, but it could be the case that you already have the capacity to replace existing servers running on legacy hardware with virtual machines, either in a public or private cloud, or on a virtual host you have on premise. Experts alike list Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft Office 365 as good upgrade paths after Windows Server 2003. They also recommend to start migrating now to avoid a stressful and risky force migration.

It is good practice not to delay upgrades until the very last second when panic sets in. Technical Adventures is equipped to deal with and migrate customers with little to no downtime. With a dynamic team of professionals, we provide a level of TLC received only from boutique experiences, while providing enterprise grade efficiencies and expertise.

Please contact us immediately so we may discuss the best option for your business!

Danny SoaresDanny Soares
Business Development & Technology Advisor

908-240-4616

sales@technicaladventures.com

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Thanks to our Technology Advisor, Danny Soares, for keeping us up to date about migrating from Windows Server 2003.

Easy Backup Solution

At Technical Adventures we’ve always been committed to only offering the best products and services in the industry to our clients. And for file and folder backup on individual devices, Carbonite is it! We are very impressed with Carbonite’s offering — backup is all they do. Their software backs up your files continually, and recovery is a snap!

To check out our offerings through Carbonite, click here: Carbonite Easy Backup Solution

Now is a great time to make sure all of your critical data is backed up. Everyone who signs up for Carbonite this month will automatically be entered to win fun tech prizes!

Carbonite Tech Pack Giveaway

Contact us before you buy and we will help you choose the best easy backup solution for your needs, install the software remotely, and configure the backup software to include all your files. Call 908-240-4616.

Windows 10 – Peering into the Future

We are officially a few weeks away from Microsoft’s specialized event, wherein they plan to unveil much more about the highly anticipated Windows 10. We saw a sneak peak a couple of months back, however, that was more geared towards enterprise and to provide fundamental information about the new operating system. Since then, they’ve released Windows 10 Preview, it’s been downloaded millions of times, and it is being actively used by over 500k on a daily basis.

This will no doubt be their most ambitious release ever, and not just from a design standpoint (Windows 8 takes the cake with that one). Think of Windows 10 being the best of Windows 7 and 8 fused together in a more elegant, less jarring kind-of way. The spirit of this release is all about the unification of its varied platforms. A single operating system that can ‘magically’ (thanks Apple) drive your traditional PCs, tablets, phones and Internet of Things. It’s said that even Xbox One will run on it with a future update. The underlying goal here is to attract every possible developer to this ecosystem. I call this DODM, [D]evelop [O]nce [D]eploy [M]any, a little play on “HORM” for you embedded guys. Essentially, developers can code an entire app and with minimal modifications and deploy it across a multitude of devices. It completes the universal app approach that Microsoft introduced a while back. This is huge!

So far, the build released to the public has only showed one side of the OS. The interesting part, the part they need to nail down, is the consumer side of it. This is the part that millions will use across varied screen sizes, in a more hybridized fashion. We’ve seen bits and pieces through leaks about some of these features but nothing like what we’re going to see at this event. Microsoft calls this ‘Continuum’. Think about it as an automatic transformation of the OS which intelligently detects whether or not a mouse and keyboard is being utilized. This should work particularly well for 2-in-1 and Surface like devices. This should alleviate issues that ‘corporate’ has while simultaneously addressing the pitfalls of the worried consumer who either bought or feared moving to Windows 8. Of course, the addition of Cortana and its voice-based integration is a big deal and offers a completely new way to interact with your PC.

With offerings such as Office 365, OneDrive, Azure, and a reimagined Skype (with Star Trek-like language translations), these are exciting times if you’re a PC fan or looking for reasons why you should buy back into one. Windows 10 is rumored to be released in late 2015 and until then we have at least 3 more events and a slew of beta releases which are sure to quench our impatience.

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Thanks to our Technology Advisor, Danny Soares, for keeping us up to date about Windows 10.

5 Technology New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Owners in 2015

As a business owner you have a lot on your plate, so you may not have gotten around to setting your technology New Year’s resolutions. To make things easier for you, we put together this list of 5 things you can do to ensure smooth sailing throughout 2015 and beyond.

1. Be creative with your passwords.

According to SplashData’s annual most popular passwords list for 2014, ‘123456’ and ‘password’ are still the top two most popular passwords. Know what number three is? 12345678! Having secure passwords is many times the first and last line of defense from those that would compromise or steal your data. Review your passwords on all of your machines and make sure none of your employees are falling into the trap of lazy passwords. Make sure that all your passwords have both capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

2. Give your printers some love.

If you are like many small business owners, you only pay attention to your printers when they don’t print! Like anything else, printers benefit from preventative maintenance. Open them up and do some spring cleaning. Remove the paper trays and get rid of any small bits of paper, dried ink and dust that has built up. Make sure the print cartridge moves smoothly and your paper rollers don’t need replacement. Check for firmware and driver updates from the manufacturer. Do these every three months this year and your printers will thank you.   

3. Make sure you have the latest and the greatest.

Almost all small business owners know the importance of keeping their computers updated but what about your network equipment? Outdated firmware on critical network hardware such as modems and routers are often the most vulnerable part of your network and a frequent target for hackers. Oftentimes, the firmware on these devices is never updated after installation! For the New Year, make sure that ALL of your hardware assets have their latest updates installed.     

4. Become a master of disaster.

Review your backups and disaster recovery plan. Don’t have one yet? Don’t put it off another year! Most small businesses have backups for their critical data in place (hopefully testing them on a regular basis) but have no recovery plan for getting their business back up and running in the case of a major disaster. Ask yourself, if your office building burned to the ground, would that mean the end of your business? If the answer is yes, it doesn’t have to be! With the cloud technology era in full swing, there is no reason that with the proper technology in place, your business cannot survive a major disaster like a fire, flood or hurricane and be back up and running immediately. If you do not have a disaster recovery plan for your business, consider that your first order of business in 2015.

5. Take the road less travelled.

Create your IT Roadmap for the New Year. An IT Roadmap is typically a three year plan of the hardware upgrades, software upgrades and new technology investments you plan and when they will be completed. It also includes a budget and an evaluation of your current IT environment. By developing a technology roadmap and budget you can see exactly what you can expect for the New Year and your employees can get excited about implementing the new technologies they have been missing!

If you have any questions or would like support with your 2015 IT adventures, call me at 908-240-4616.

Online Safety Tips

Last month we told you about online shopping safety. Here’s some more information to keep you and your business safe.

Travel Email Malware

These types of phishing emails are designed to appear as if they come from major airline, car rental and even hotel chains. Many people travel over the holidays so it is no surprise that scammers would target malicious emails at these providers. The sample email below is another example of the scammer trying to get someone to download or open a malicious file on their computer.

Re: Your Flight Order N590-5507130

Dear Customer,

FLIGHT ELECTRONIC NUMBER 8532856 DATE & TIME / NOVEMBER 28, 2014, 11:17 PM ARRIVING: NEW YORK JFK TOTAL PRICE: 478.02 USD

Please download and print out your ticket here: (harmful link removed)

Thank you,

American Airlines Customer Support

The largest airlines targeted by these types of fraudulent emails such as Delta, American Airlines and US Airways have posted warnings on their respective websites concerning these types of emails:

American Airlines http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/phishingEmailExample10.jsp

Deltahttp://www.delta.com/traveling_traveling_checkin/flight_status_updates/advisories/scheduled_maintenance/index.jsp

US Airways http://www.usairways.com/en-US/contact/scamalert.html

Fake Online Giveaways

One of the most common online scams is the giveaway. There are, of course, legitimate giveaways and promotions, but these are much rarer than the scams. For example, check out this “Free iPad” giveaway:  

Online Safety TipsOnce the customer goes to the website and clicks to claim their “free” iPad, they are offered an online coupon code (which does nothing), but before they can get it they are asked to provide personal information which can include credit-card details, passwords and other financial data. Apple does not really like promoted giveaways of their products and so they have stiff guidelines about them, including a restriction that the word “free” is not used to promote the giveaway! So anytime you see something like “free iPad” or “free Macbook Pro” posted in bold letters, you know it is a scam. The best way to avoid these scams is never participate in them. The risk outweighs the rewards most of the time. However, if you believe an online giveaway is legitimate; do your research! If the giveaway is from a well-known company, go to that company’s website to confirm. Be sure to type in the web address directly into your browser. Do NOT click on a posted link on Facebook or Twitter no matter how official it looks.

Online Safety – Tips to Protect Yourself

Most of the time, it is fairly easy to protect yourself from these different types of fraud. Make sure you have business-class active antivirus protection installed on your computer and that it is fully updated. (If you have a free antivirus program, you DO NOT have business class AV protection.) Be vigilant when reading and responding to emails. No financial institutions will ask you to confirm your account details over an email. No government offices will request personal information via email. No court system in this country issues summons or judgment notices through email. Ignore these emails or contact directly (not over email) the party in question to confirm the email message. Watch out for “too good to be true” type offers on social networks like free iPads or airline tickets and never reveal your personal information just to participate in an online promotion. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know in real life. Common sense like this will protect you from most of the frauds you will encounter online.

Happy (and safe) online adventuring!

Online Shopping Safety

Dear Valued Clients and Friends,

The holidays are here again and for most of us, that means… shopping! And due to the popularity of online shopping, it also means packages. Unfortunately, this results in an explosion of the phishing email scams we have warned you about before. The difference is they are much more effective during the holiday season because, as you’ll see below, they prey on the fear that our gifts sent through our favorite delivery service won’t get there. See this example email below:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Unfortunately we were not able to deliver the postal package you sent on 7/1/2014 because the recipient’s address is not correct. We attempted to return the package on multiple occasions but were unsuccessful. Please print the attached claim form to collect the package at our warehouse.

Thank you,

UPS

Needless to say, when you download the attachment to print it, you will be inadvertently installing malware onto your system that can damage you in a number of ways such as encrypting your files and holding them hostage, accessing or logging sensitive information such as your financial information, to simply just hijacking your computer’s resources to send more phishing email! These emails are designed to look as official as possible in every respect, and so can be hard to spot. Another tactic is to provide relevant information concerning a package delivery with links sending you to a malicious website AND attaching hidden malware! Check out this example:

Dear client,

Your package has been delivered. Your tracking number is: RT094860142HK. You can track your package at: http://www.canadapost./cpotools/apps/track/personal/findbyTrackNumber?execution=e9s1

The shipping invoice may be downloaded from: http://www.canadapost./catools/apps/track/personal/findInvoiceByTrackingNumber?track=RT094860142HK

The most popular parcel services such as FedEx, UPS and USPS have posted warnings on their respective websites about these types of emails. They are linked below:

UPS – New Fraudulent Email Circulating

USPS – Beware of SPAM! Bogus Emails Sent to Postal Customers

FedEx – Defending Against Fraud

A simple suggestion for online shopping safety

If you receive an email like the examples above and you have any doubt, don’t open it! Either contact the parcel service in question directly to confirm the email was sent by them, or contact us directly for assistance. Have a happy and safe holiday season!