One of Google’s founding principles is, “Don’t be evil.” As the company grew and began to introduce more apps, including ones where a user’s data was stored on Google’s servers, it started to become apparent that it was tough to get this information off of the servers. In an effort to turn this around, Google has introduced the option for users to download their information. This service has been recently updated to allow users to download even more of their data from various Google apps.
In early December, Google announced that they have expanded their ‘Google Takeout’ service which allows users to download data stored on their Google account. You have been able to backup or download data from Google apps like Drive or YouTube for a while now, and this latest development expands your options.
The announcement introduces the ability to download your information and data from two popular Google apps:
- Google Calendar - You can now download data from your Calendar. This includes calendar info like appointments, etc.
- Gmail - Throughout the month of December and into early January 2014, Google will roll out the ability to download data from your Gmail account. What this means is that you will be able to download your email messages.
How is this function useful?
We see three main uses, or reasons, as to why users would want to download their data from Google:
- To back it up - Many users are relying on cloud-based services like Google Drive and even Gmail to store all of their important files and conversations. While the chances of these systems failing is slim, it’s still not a good idea to put all of your virtual eggs in one basket. Therefore, downloading a copy of the files stored essentially backs them up, making these easier to recover should something happen e.g., a file is deleted.
- Switching to another service - While Google may seem all encompassing, there are other services out there and businesses do occasionally switch. When they do, it can be a complicated process to remove everything you have stored with Google and transfer it over to another service. By downloading your information, you have it in one file that can then be easily uploaded to a new service.
- To retain ownership - Some users have a problem with who actually owns the files, messages and other data they have stored with Google. It used to be tough to actually reclaim the information you had stored, making it feel like you may not necessarily own what is rightfully yours and could only access it by using Google’s apps. Now, you can download it and have access to it without having to go through Google – in other words you own your data.
How do I download my data?
You can download your data from the various apps by:
- Logging into your Google account.
- Clicking on your profile picture in the top-right of the window. It is located below the URL bar.
- Selecting Account followed by Download your data and then Create an archive.
- Ticking the service information you would like to download. Click on Edit beside each service to configure what data to download and even the file format to use.
- Selecting Done if you change any format or download options.
- Clicking on CREATE ARCHIVE.
When you create the archive, the data from the selected services will be zipped together into one file and then downloaded to your computer.
If you are looking to learn more about using Google’s services in your company, please contact us today.
One common feature that can be found on nearly every major mobile operating system is the ability to use your voice to interact with your phone. This is a great feature for users who can’t interact with their phone, say when they are driving. With the release of Windows Phone 8 came improved voice control, which you may or may not be aware was also carried over to some apps.
If you have a phone running Windows Phone 8, there are apps that support voice commands. This feature is actually built into the OS through the Speech feature.
By using the Speech feature on Windows Phone 8, you can use your voice to launch apps, write an SMS, call people and more. You can also tell your phone to open apps and even navigate to a part of the app.
To access the Speech feature on your phone, press and hold the Windows icon at the bottom of your screen and it should pop up. In the window that opens, you should be able to just speak your command. If that doesn’t work, press the microphone icon, and you should see a message flash that says Listening…. You can then speak your command.
Some useful Speech voice commands
Here are five useful commands that you may find useful:
- “Call ‘contact name’” - This will call whatever person you say from your contact list.
- “Redial” - This will call the last number you called.
- “Text ‘contact name’” - This will start a new text message that will be sent to the contact you say. You can then dictate the the message without having to type it.
- “Start ‘application’” - This will open the application you say.
- “Search for ‘term’” - This will open your browser and search for the term you say.
How to tell what apps you can interact with using your voice
Not every app available on the Windows Store supports voice commands, and many don’t actually tell you the app does support them. Luckily, there is a way to see which apps you can interact with using your voice:
- Pressing and holding the Windows icon on your phone until the Speech feature opens.
- Saying “What can I say?“.
- Swiping right to the menu that says apps.
This will present you with a list of apps and pressing on each app will tell you what commands you can use while the app is open.
If you would like to learn more tips and tricks for the Windows Phone, please contact us today to see how we can help.
The smartphone is an amazing device that has revolutionized the way we communicate. However, it’s technology that many of us accept and welcome without question, often forgetting that these devices are really just computers that fit in our hands. Like their bigger cousins, phones will eventually freeze or programs won’t work properly. While this is rare with most devices, it does happen. If your Android freezes, do you know what to do?
If your Android phone or an app on the phone has frozen, here are two things you can try.
Frozen app? Try to force close it
Oftentimes when people say their phone has stopped working, the phone is running fine, it’s an app that isn’t working properly or which may have frozen completely. Because this does happen from time-to-time, Android has a built-in way you can force close apps when they stop working. This can be achieved by:
- Hitting the home button on your phone to go to the Home Screen (If you are in the app).
- Sliding down the notifications menu (slide from the top of your phone’s screen) and tapping on the profile icon in the top-right.
- Tapping on Settings followed by Apps.
- Scrolling to the app that has stopped working and pressing on it.
- Pressing Force stop under the app’s icon followed by OK.
These steps will close the app and usually keep it closed until you reopen the app again. However, some apps are essential and need to remain open in order for your phone to operate properly. If you are unsure of what an app does, don’t force close it.
Did you try turning it off and on again?
There is a long-running gag on the tv show the IT Crowd where the techies in the basement answer every phone call by asking the caller if they have tried turning their computer off and on again.
While this may sound silly, and maybe even a little patronizing, restarting your device could be the solution it needs. In fact, many common errors are usually fixed by simply restarting your device. There are two types of restart you can execute:
- If you can still navigate your phone - Press and hold the power button for a second or two and the shutdown window should open. Tap on Power off and wait a few seconds. Your screen should go black and the device will be off. If you have low power, it may be a good idea to plug your phone in and charge it for a few minutes before starting your device up again. This type of shutdown/restart is the best because it allows your device to close all apps and stop all processes before it turns off.
- If your phone has frozen - This means you are not able to select apps and pushing the buttons does nothing. Android devices have different force restarts with most requiring you to hold the power button and volume down buttons for up to 10 seconds. Others require you to hold the power button and both of the volume buttons down. When the screen goes black, your device should switch off.
When a device has frozen, many people take the battery out – this should be an absolute last resort, as you could damage your device. If you can’t remove the back cover of your device to get to the battery, don’t try to remove it. Instead, try a forced restart. If this doesn’t work, try plugging your device in and letting it charge for a few minutes before restarting it.
Should the device still not work, the best thing to do is to bring it to a mobile expert like us. We may be able to help you. And, if you are looking to learn more about your Android device, contact us today.
For many businesses the most popular operating system in use is Microsoft’s Windows. The various versions of Windows have a great number of features that many use on a daily basis, often without thinking. There are a few however that we don’t use often but are nonetheless important. Take for example the ability to capture screenshots.
Here is an overview of how you can take screenshots on both Windows 7 and 8.
Screenshots on Windows 7
If you are using Windows 7 there are two main ways you can take screenshots. The first is by pressing Print Screen on your keyboard. This will take a screenshot of your whole monitor as you see it and store it on your Clipboard. You will then need to open a graphic editing program, like MS Paint, and paste the image by pressing Ctrl + V. It should be pasted into the open window and you will be able to resize the image and save it.
The second method is to use the Snipping Tool. This can be done by:
- Opening the window you would like to take a screenshot of.
- Clicking Start and selecting All Programs.
- Hovering over Accessories followed by clicking on Snipping Tool.
- Clicking New and clicking and dragging a square over the image or window you would like to capture.
- Editing the Snip in the window that opens.
- Saving the screenshot by pressing the floppy disk.
Screenshots on Windows 8 and 8.1
For those who are on Windows 8 or 8.1 there is a new keyboard shortcut that allows you to quickly capture a screenshot. If you have a window open e.g., a browser window, you can take a screenshot of that window by holding the Windows key + Print Screen keys down at the same time. This will take a shot of the window you have open and save the image in your Pictures Library on your Hard Drive.
If you would like to select a screenshot e.g., a picture from a window, the Snipping tool is also available on Windows 8. You can access it by opening the Start screen and typing Snipping tool. Once this has been searched for, click on the app and select New. This will allow you to select your screenshot and save it by following the same instructions as above.
Looking to learn more about using Windows? Contact us today to see how we can help.
The Internet browser has become one of the many indispensable tools at a businesses disposal. And, as cloud systems continue to increase in popularity, these will likely become the main way employees access various systems like email, document production, and even storage. Google’s Chrome is one of the most popular browsers and while great, it can suffer problems on occasion.
Here are seven tips on what you can do if Chrome isn’t working properly.
While Chrome is still working
If you haven’t had a problem with Chrome, the time will come. Before it does, you should first ensure that Chrome is set up to re-open tabs when the browser restarts. You can do this by:
- Clicking on the three horizontal bars in the top-right of the browser.
- Selecting Settings.
- Ticking Continue where I left off under the On startup section.
This will save open tabs when you close Chrome, and reload them when you next start Chrome.
First – Check that Chrome is up to date
If Chrome stops working, you should first check that you are running the latest version. Take a look at the three bars at the top-right of the window. If they are dark grey, Chrome is running the latest version. If there is an update the bars will be green (new update), yellow (Chrome hasn’t been updated to the newest version in a few days) or red (Chrome should be updated).
Click on the bars and select Update Google Chrome. This will restart your browser and install the update. It should also be updated if you restart Chrome.
Second – Check Chrome’s task manager
You have probably used Window’s Task Manager to close programs that are frozen, or to check what programs are open and how much memory they are using. Did you know that Chrome also has a Task Manager that is specific to just Chrome?
By pressing Shift + Esc you will open the Chrome Task Manager which presents information on open tabs. You can see how much memory each tab is using and even close those that have stopped working.
Third – Close the tab
Often times when Chrome stops working, you will get a blue page with a file that has an unhappy face. This error message is shown when the page crashes or something goes wrong when loading the page.
If this happens, select the URL, copy it using Ctrl + C and then refresh the page. Most pages should work again, but if the error is shown again try closing the tab, opening another and pasting the URL.
Fourth – Restart Chrome
Sometimes the problem isn’t with Chrome but with a plugin that has stopped working. You will usually see a yellow error message across the top of the screen saying something has stopped working. The majority of the time this will happen when a media codec or plugin like Flash or Shockwave has crashed leaving you unable to load videos or similar media.
The best way to fix this is to restart Chrome. If you have already set Chrome to reopen tabs when the program is launched again you can simply quit Chrome by pressing Alt + F4 on Windows. If you are on a Mac, this can be done by right-clicking on the Chrome icon in the tray at the bottom of the screen and selecting Close.
Fifth – Delete your Cache and other browser data
There is a chance that the problem may be caused by another installed app or some data that Chrome has stored. The best way to fix this is by deleting the Cache – where Chrome stores data for future use, making it quicker to access – and other browser data including your history and cookies.
This can be done by:
- Clicking on the three horizontal bars in the top-right of the browser.
- Hovering over Tools and selecting Clear Browsing Data.
- Selecting what data you would like to clear and how far back you would like to clear it.
- Pressing Clear browsing data.
- Restarting Chrome.
Sixth – Checking your computer for malware
If the problem still persists after trying the above steps, it would be a good idea to scan your computer for viruses and malware. Often, the problem probably won’t be with Chrome and may be due to some form of malware that causes Chrome to either slow down, crash, or even work differently.
Seventh – Call your IT partner
The final option we can recommend is that you contact us. Our experienced and knowledgeable team may be able to help you fix your problem or even offer another option that could work even better.
Microsoft has many programs that business users find useful. One is SharePoint which provides a web-based infrastructure whereby you can create portals, manage files, enable collaboration, create social networks, and more. Generally sold as a part of the Office 365 platform, users that subscribe to Office 365 and SharePoint also have access to SkyDrive Pro.
What is SkyDrive Pro?
SkyDrive Pro is a cloud-centric library that allows you to store documents. Pro is available for users of Office 365 and companies with on premise versions of either Standard or Enterprise SharePoint 2013.
Users of the Office 365 version get 25GB of storage which is hosted in the cloud and accessible through an app or your Web browser. Companies that have SharePoint hosted on premise can set how much storage each user gets.
Because this is a business-centric product, collaboration and sharing is a large part of this platform. Initially, files uploaded or stored in SkyDrive are private, but there is a shared folder you can store files in which allows all users on the network to access them. You can also choose to share files with individual users or groups.
SkyDrive Pro can be accessed from your Office 365, SharePoint portal by clicking on SkyDrive, which is usually at the top of the page you are looking at.
The best way to think of this app is as similar to the hard drive on your computer – you can open, add, move, and delete files – only the files, or ‘library’ as Microsoft calls the structure, are stored on a server that is usually stored within or managed by your company through SharePoint.
How does it differ from SkyDrive?
Despite the same name and essential idea, there are two major differences between SharePoint and SharePoint Pro
- SkyDrive is personal - This personal cloud-based service is free to all users with a Microsoft or outlook.com account. Microsoft suggests that users store personal files like pictures, movies, personal documents, etc. Users are free to decide how they use it, and what they store on the service.
- SkyDrive Pro is for business - This service is similar to the personal version of SkyDrive – it’s an online storage system – but this is managed by your company and is business oriented. The company sets what you can do with your account, from collaboration to how much storage space you receive. It also requires either SharePoint 2013 or an Office 365 business account.
The key point to note is that with SkyDrive, you own your files and can control how they are stored and used. With SkyDrive Pro, you upload files to a library that the administrator allows you to access. Sure, these may be files you have created, but they don’t ‘live’ on your computer and if you leave the organization, they will still be available to other users.
If you would like to learn more about SkyDrive Pro or how Microsoft SharePoint combined with Office 365 can help your company, contact us for a chat today.
Once you have narrowed down the ERP solutions that will fit your needs, it’s time to find the right solution provider to help you implement. Finding the right ERP solution is important, but finding a business partner who will help you get more value from it can transform your business.
Breaking old habits is hard
The value from any business management system comes from productivity gains and increases in customer satisfaction. When you and your employees have been working the same way for years, it’s hard to think outside the box. An ERP implementation partner with a good understanding of your industry’s best practices, can help you modernize business processes to be more competitive.
While there are plenty of ERP implementation partners who list industry expertise on their website, it’s important to ask questions to make sure they really know the business. Six questions that will give you more insight into your potential implementation partner’s expertise include:
- What are the top trends affecting my industry today?
- Why do businesses in our industry choose the ERP system we are considering?
- What best practices make the most difference for high performers in our industry?
- What business process improvements have you recommended to support those best practices?
- How many companies in our industry have you worked with?
- Have the consultants who will work on our project implemented other businesses in our industry?
Best practices build profits
While it is important to work with an implementation partner who knows the ERP solution well, gaining insight into industry best practices can be even more valuable to you. There are likely to be companies in your industry that have developed more efficient business processes than yours. By working with a technology partner who has seen multiple operations, they can share the best of what they have learned.
Build on the knowledge of people with insight into how other businesses like yours operate. A great implementation partner will ensure that you get the highest returns from your ERP investment.
January is a common time for many people, business owners included, to set goals and resolutions for the year to come. This year, as with years in the past, many business owners and managers will likely have a resolution centered around productivity. Being more productive has obvious benefits, but to become more productive, we often need help. One option is mobile apps which can play a key role in boosting your productivity.
Here are five great mobile productivity apps that are free, or cheap enough where they won’t break the bank.
Most small to medium businesses have team members working in different areas that often come together to work on projects. Managing who does what in these projects, and collaborating on tasks can be a chore. What Asana does is allow users to schedule and assign tasks within projects.
Each user’s tasks are presented in a to-do list with due dates clearly divided, so each person knows what they need to focus on, and when the work is due. Other users can also see each of the tasks so they too know what each member is doing. If you are a project or task oriented business, this could be a great tool to help you and your teams stay on track.
While many businesses use the Web based version, there are mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices that could help if you or team members are often out of the office. It is free for teams of up to 15 members. Check out Asana’s website for more information on pricing for teams with more than 15 users.
Many working in smaller businesses often find themselves filling more than one role. This means they are likely constantly thinking about another task, often coming up with ideas, questions and even answers. The problem with this is many of us forget that one all important idea by the time we actually get around to switching our hats and our focus. Evernote is an app that allows users to jot down notes and ideas more readily.
Because this is a mobile app, you can share notes with your colleagues – kind of like a brainstorm – or even record images and sounds to keep something like a dictionary or wiki. What really sets this app apart from other note apps is that all of your notes are synced with an account, which makes them available on nearly every platform you use.
The basic version of Evernote is available for free on nearly all mobile platforms, and a full-featured business edition is available for USD$10.00 per user, per month. Visit the Evernote website to learn more about the program, and to download it for your device.
Part of the Any.do family of apps which focus on tasks, Cal is an extension that makes your device’s calendar easier to focus on. At a quick glance, you can see your whole day’s activities and events. This is really designed to be a calendar app that is used for both work and personal life, giving you a better idea of what your full day looks like – not just a part of it. In an effort to highlight or promote better work/life balance, it will also show you your free time.
The Internet is one of the best productivity boosters, yet it is also one of the best ways to waste time too. Because so many news outlets and stories are now online, you can spend literally hours of your day reading various articles and blogs. While these articles may be useful, reading them when you should be working instead is not the best for your productivity.
That’s where Pocket comes in. This app allows you to save articles and blogs you come across in your browser or email for later reading on a mobile device. So, if you are at work and come across a really interesting article, don’t stop to read it, save it to Pocket and read it on the way home or while on a break.
Pocket is free and works as an extension to your Web browser. First you need to go to the Pocket website and sign up for an account, then install the browser extension (click on Your Web Browser under Ways to Pocket). After that, install the app on your Android or iOS device.
While the name suggests a drawing, Doodle is actually a scheduling app. It allows you to set a number of potential times and dates for a meeting and then ask all participants to select what works best for them. This makes it easier for you to schedule meetings with different people, while also reducing the number of back-and-forth emails that inevitably come about from setting up meetings.
When you pick the times, the participants tick what times or dates work best for them, which you can then view and pick the time that works best. What sets this app apart is that it syncs with almost all other major calendar apps like Google Calendar and Outlook. It’s available on both the Apple App and Google Play stores for USD$2.99.
With each new year comes resolutions, goals and trends. One popular goal of many small businesses is to ensure that their systems are secure for the year to come. Often, the first step to take is to look at current trends, but when it comes to security, you should be looking at threats. If you know what potential threats may arise in the year to come, you can better set security plans in motion to limit these from adversely affecting your company.
Here are four security threats businesses should be aware of in 2014.
Increased attacks on cloud end-points
Cloud-based systems saw solid growth throughout 2013, with numerous systems being introduced and older systems reaching new levels or maturity. Small to medium businesses in particular were heavy adopters of these systems. Because of this, we expect to see an increase in attacks against cloud providers.
Providers know this and take steps to ensure security of systems on their end. Hackers know this too, so will be likely going after the weaker points – end users. It is expected that hackers will begin targeting users of cloud systems with various schemes that try to gain control of computers and mobile devices. Once access is gained, they will go after their main target: Corporate or personal clouds and the data stored within.
This could pose a problem for many companies, especially those who access cloud systems from their mobile devices. January and February would be a good time to look into the security of all of your systems, ensuring that your cloud-based systems are secure on all devices.
Mobile malware will continue to gain popularity
Take a step back for a minute next time you are in public and look at how many people have smartphones or tablets in their hands. Chances are, at least 60% or higher will. It is fairly obvious that the mobile device is the most popular trend in tech at the moment, and whatever is popular is also a target.
We predict there will be an increase in mobile malware attacks throughout 2014. This could see either an increase in the number of apps that have malware in their code, or websites that host malware. When you visit a site with this malware, you are informed that you need to update an app, and when you agree to this the malware is downloaded and installed.
This could prove to be a tough for companies to manage, especially since the number of mobile users will likely grow. If you haven’t started looking into how to secure mobile devices, now would be a good time to start.
Growth in social engineering scams targeting mobile users
Social engineering is the act of essentially tricking people to give away confidential information. Hackers have been using this for years – for example, emailing users telling them their bank account has been compromised, and that if they click on the link in the email and enter their account info, the account will be secured. In reality, the link is to a fake site that captures information which can then be used for any number of illegal activities.
As we mentioned above, the number of mobile users is steadily increasing. This means that it is highly likely that hackers will begin to target these users with mobile specific social engineering. This could be tricking them into downloading an app which then steals information stored on the phone, or simply targeting those who use just their tablet.
In order to prevent this from happening, you need to brush up on how most social engineering schemes work. You should also encourage your employees to look where the links in emails lead to and be aware that generally, most major businesses like banks don’t email customers asking for passwords or user names.
Windows XP will become a big target
Microsoft will stop support for Windows XP and Office 2003 in April of this year. What this means is that they will no longer be offering security updates, software updates or support for these products. It is a sure thing that these programs are about to become a big target, and that new security loopholes and exploits will be found on a regular basis after the cessation of support.
For businesses that are using a newer version of Windows like 7 or 8, you should be secure from these exploits. If you are using XP on the other hand, you might want to upgrade as soon as possible. Contact us, we can help with that.
From the overall looks of things, we think this year will see a drastic increase in mobile based security threats, along with attacks on older versions of software. Now is a good time to review your strategies regarding both mobile and the software/hardware you use, to ensure that it is secure. If you would like help with this, please contact us today for a chat.