Low-Cost Upgrades for Your Office Systems

When an office system doesn’t seem to perform at the warp speed it once did, your instinct may be to replace it. We won’t call that “warped” thinking, but you can get more mileage out of your equipment. It’s been a good way to get off to a great start with new clients who come to us with a sense of desperation.

One client came to us after their server crashed. In discussing the problem, we learned that most of the company’s people worked from outside the office. They used GoToMyPC to log in, access their files and do their work. The limited access meant that employees had to schedule their time to access the server and their files, and that was grossly inefficient.

The client wanted to add more applications and files to the system, and they were ready to buy a new server to accommodate all they wanted to do. We showed them that it was unnecessary.

Our solution was to set up a Dropbox system. It eliminated the need to schedule server access, simplified the process for getting files and made life much easier. Dropbox is one of many applications that use off-site storage for files – aka The Cloud – but it’s the one that worked best in this situation.

We also made life easier for Michelle at another new client’s office. Michelle is not a person; Michelle is a desktop PC in a three-person office, and the problem was that the three people in the office couldn’t access files when they needed them.

Our simple solution was to install a network drive in Michelle. Now, everyone can work efficiently.

Of course, there are times when a new server – and little reorganization – can solve the problem. One client had a number of printers with identity crises. Some of the printers had the same names but served different functions, and some that served the same functions had different names.

By installing a new server and standardizing the nomenclature for all the printers, the server can assume administrative responsibilities, allowing all the technology to run as it’s supposed to.

By the way, if your office has Macs and Windows-based software, we can set up a virtual PC that can run the software faster than a regular PC.

Do you want to find less expensive ways to have a more efficient office? Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your current setup and your productivity needs. It might be an easier fix than you think.


Wear it…Do it

A really close friend of ours who crossed a trip to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas off his bucket list said wearable technology was the fascination for him. Will you want to trade a Rolex for an Apple Watch? It’s a fun trade to ponder.

If you have a Rolex, you know it’s an exquisite timepiece that speaks to the ultimate in quality and fashion. But Internet-connected watches are stepping up in quality as a timepiece – and let you do things like read and write emails and text messages, open your garage door. It’s a sign that a lot of functional apps are moving from your phone to your wrist.

Sony’s Smart Watch 3 and LG’s LG-W120L were two headliner smart watches at CES. But the prospect of the Apple Watch, most likely in March, is the elephant that’s not yet in the room but is walking to the door.

Is Apple going to be cutting edge? Only time will tell. But one thing about Apple is that its new products generally work well out of the gate. The company vets its developers and tests their work, and the result is a relatively bug-free application that’s as secure as you can get.

So, as the Apple apps move from the device to the wrist, Apple Pay is an indication of what we can expect. All you need to do is have your phone in your hand, put your thumb on the reader and go. It’s taken off so fast, that we’ve come across cashiers in stores who haven’t yet learned how it works. If you can transfer Apple Pay from an iPhone to an Apple Watch, you’ll be able to activate the reader and press your thumb in one motion.

Whatever we wear and use to access the Internet, 2015’s realities will be compared to the movie “Back to the Future II,” which looked some 25 years or so into the future. We don’t have flying cars or robots like Rosie from the Jetsons, but we have drones, and some companies say they are close on hoverboards and self-lacing shoes.

Once wearable technology becomes more commonplace, we are sure that app developers will quickly find ways to make it more usable. When Apple introduced the iPad, it seemed to need to justify its existence. Today, tablets are becoming replacements for laptops for certain types of applications, especially for people who travel or do a lot work from outside the office. Wearables are likely to take over many of the functions of mobile phones, and that means people will be walking into offices and homes and accessing our networks.

We’ve already talked about network security. In addition, you’ll need network stability to make sure all those new devices and technologies can work as you and everyone in your office or home expects. Nothing gets more frustrating or aggravating than the latest-and-greatest technology that doesn’t work. We can help you step forward to the future by analyzing your network and the load it will need to handle. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up an appointment. And, we’ll check out your security at the same time.

By the way, we still think automobiles have the longest way to go in the Internet of Things. Yes, there’s a lot of good phone integration, and you can use apps to send commands to your car. BMW is even testing a valet parking app. That will most certainly be a convenience – especially if all I need to do is talk into my watch.

Protect Your Networks as IoT Grows

What can’t we do over the Internet? Pretty soon, the answer will be: Practically nothing. We may not live like the Jetsons, but in the expanding age of IoT (the Internet of Things), we can do all sorts of things, from turning lights on and off to connecting with life-saving healthcare information and equipment systems. While the future is bright, you need your “shades” in form of network protection.

Here’s why it’s critical: Every device and every app that you use over the Internet exposes you to hackers who can get into your network and computer system and those of other people and businesses. Your network router or gateway is your first line of defense. There’s nothing magic about what you need to do to protect it.

The first thing is to turn on your router’s or gateway’s firewall. It sounds so basic, but we’re always amazed at the number of people who simply neglect it. You’ll need a password for it, and our advice is to make it long and to include at least of the four following characteristics: a lower case letter, an upper case letter, a numeral and a special character. If your computer has a firewall, turn it on, too, and make sure you have anti-virus and malware protection installed, updated and activated.

But network security is more vital than ever because the devices you use for a smart home, for example, may not have built-in security or a strong security system. Every time you turn lights on and off, lock and unlock a door or change your thermostat over the Internet, you can be vulnerable to a hack. If you are on a secure network, and if your network in your smart home is secure, you’ll be much better able to protect your system (and all of the data).

Network security can be even more critical for businesses. Some types of businesses depend on remote access to sensitive files than others, and those files could contain information on your business or your customers’ businesses that a hacker can use to monetize in any number of ways.

If you are buying and activating more smart systems as you expand your Internet of Things, we urge you to talk to us. We can help you understand the security risks you need to manage and help you select the security systems that can best manage those risks. No system is foolproof or perfect, but making yours as strong as possible will minimize your risk of getting hacked. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to strengthen your existing security system or find a new one.