Blog

April 30th, 2014

Productivity_Apr28_BIn a perfect world, we'd all be able to choose to do the tasks we love and leave any dull jobs for someone else. But in reality, few of us really have this luxury, especially when it comes to successful business. Tedious or not, certain tasks simply need to be finished with no excuses. However, even with the most mundane of task there are ways to inject some enjoyment if you know how.

Alternate what you love and hate doing

Finding motivation when placed in a difficult or dull situation can be tough. But, it’s going to feel even more arduous if lack of motivation leads to a poor result and you're forced to do the job again.

So what do you do when you’re in this situation? Simple. You incorporate the tasks that you do enjoy doing into the cycle.

This balances good and bad experiences so you are not constantly employed for long periods doing hateful tasks. Compared to a situation where you are repeatedly being pounded with tasks that you don’t like, this is way better.

Create a schedule for unwanted tasks

Goal setting and scheduling will allow you to mentally prepare for unpleasant tasks and see beyond them. If you've got a plan to get through your tasks and have something to look forward to, they won't seem so onerous.

Create a timeline of milestones to be accomplished. Evaluate your performance and accomplishments on a daily basis. Try your best not to procrastinate and always adhere to what you have initially planned. Delay merely means more annoying moments for you in the future. Be half-hearted about it or veer off-plan and you might have to redo a project because the quality of your work failed to meet expected standards.

Look at the bigger picture

Your perception has a great influence on your mindset. Instead of focusing on how tiresome and uninteresting an assignment is, you could try getting inspiration from focusing on the possible positive outcome. This might be recognition at work, monetary gains or increased productivity and business success.

Take baby steps

If you feel you have tried everything and yet stress and boredom keep growing with certain aspects of your time at work then it’s time to take a step back and reinvent. Forcing yourself to do something you dislike will merely increase the pressure that’s already keeping you from obtaining good results.

Break the job into smaller tasks. Set realistic goals every hour. You’ll be surprised at how taking baby steps can help you get things done - even monumental tasks that started out seeming impossible.

Take a break

Working on a job that you don’t enjoy is exhausting. It can be mentally draining and you might feel as if to achieve certain tasks you really are pushing until the last drop of your energy has run out. You might benefit from recharging from time to time. Take a break and listen to your favorite music. Relax and revitalize your nerves and muscles.

Reward yourself

Celebrate little victories. Whenever you accomplish a goal or target, no matter how big or small, reward yourself. Think of ways you could treat yourself, whether it be a grand gesture such as a weekend away or a meal out, or even a night at the movies. Find a reward that's worth looking forward to.

It’s also worthwhile asking for help from your colleagues and team at work. If you feel that tasks are insurmountable or you know you will struggle to complete them by yourself then reach out to attract the skillsets and interests of those around you. And after you've achieved what you set out to do you can reap the benefits of greater productivity.

Another option is to contact us to see how our services can help allow you to focus on running your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
April 25th, 2014

BI_Apr22_BBusiness Intelligence (BI) is quickly becoming one of the most integral functions for many small businesses. Owners and managers are increasingly finding that by implementing BI functions they can make better and more informed business decisions. While BI is popular, there are however many misconceptions that could actually inhibit the effectiveness of your efforts.

But many of these misconceptions are easily clarified and addressed. See how by taking a look at these tips.

1. Business Intelligence is all about reports and dashboards

One of the things that make business intelligence sound intimidating is the notion that businesses will be bombarded with daily reports and have to make use of complicated dashboards in order help to understand how it works and get it operational. While there are standard tools that small businesses will need to use to gather information that will help with their operations, these tools should not be seen as an inconvenience. The systems and processes in BI can be simplified in a way that it doesn’t limit resource gathering but actually enhances efficiency and profitability.

An executive, for instance, can easily look into the sales numbers of a given month, without having to go over other variables and metrics. Other models of BI can cater to more than just reporting stats and data, as analysis can be collaborative and interactive, thus providing more efficient solutions that will deliver the correct information to the people who rely on the data for their decision-making.

2. The tools are the same for all organizations

The assumption is that whether a company is big or small, the tools in business intelligence work the same. This is what makes small businesses hesitant to apply such concepts, thinking that it will not have any practical use in an organization of their size.

But the truth is, every BI strategy is unique, and as a company, you can tailor these strategies to fit in with the way you operate. Before adopting any solution, however, you will first have to evaluate what specific needs BI must address using the data architecture, so that it will measure your requirements correctly.

3. It can only measure big data

Large corporations can maximize the tools to use in BI because they have larger needs to fill, and they also have all the resources. But what about small companies that may not necessarily need big data?

The thing is, any company that has data will have a use for business intelligence. Small businesses can start with simple and basic solutions, for instance Google Analytics, and then later on, expand to a more comprehensive tool as the organization grows. Business intelligence measures the quality of data, and not the quantity, so you can accomplish something even with very few resources.

4. It takes up IT resources

While BI used to be considered the responsibility of an IT team or expert, now small businesses, which may not have had the resources to in the past to outsource such resources, can use the tools for themselves. There are solutions out there that offer low maintenance, self-service systems wherein reports and dashboards are created and analyzed without the need for an IT expert whatsoever. There are some advantages to having professional IT help sometimes though, but for small businesses, a user-friendly BI system may be sufficient to cover most of your needs.

If you'd like to know about how you might be able to develop your business intelligence systems further. Consult a reputable IT services provider now.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 23rd, 2014

Office_Apr22_BMicrosoft Office 2013 is the newest version available for the Office suite. It still has the familiar features of the previous versions, but with added functions. Supported formats now include PDF, ODF and OOXML. Multi-touch devices are also supported. But one of the most useful features that remains is the research pane. It’s no longer in the review menu of Microsoft Word by default, but there’s still a simple way to launch it.

How to launch the research pane

The research pane lets you find the synonyms, antonyms, meanings and translations of various words. There’s no need to launch a separate application for these functions as Microsoft Office comes built-in with the research feature. If you’re connected to the Internet, it also creates a search on the web using search sites like Bing.

While the research pane can be easily launched in Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint from the review tab just like with the previous versions of the applications, this option is not present in MS Word. But as we've mentioned, there’s still a work around to launch the research pane even when the button is not available under the review tab of Word. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Open an existing Word document or create a new one.
  2. Press ALT on your keyboard and without letting go, click on the word that you would like to research.
  3. The research pane should open on the right side of the window.
  4. If you wish to make another research, type the word in the “search for” field.
  5. Below that field, click the drop down arrow and choose from the reference books and research sites available to be used for your search.

Add the research option to the review tab

If you prefer to place a research button on Microsoft Word’s ribbon, this can be done. Commands can be added on a customized group under any of the existing tabs or a customized tab. It’s not possible though to add a command to a default group. As a workaround, we’ll first create a group under the review tab, then add the research command there.
  1. Click the File menu.
  2. Choose Options and the Word Options window will pop up.
  3. Select Customize Ribbon on the left side of the window.
  4. Under Choose Commands From, choose All Commands.
  5. Click Research.
  6. Under Customize the Ribbon, choose Main Tabs.
  7. Click Review under the main tabs and click New Group.
  8. Click the new custom group and click Rename.
  9. Enter a name for the group, select an icon and click OK.
  10. Click the group’s name to highlight, and since Research is already selected on the other pane, click the Add button and the command will be added under the review tab on the group that you created.
You can also add a shortcut icon on the Research command on the quick access toolbar. Open the Word Options window once more and click on the Quick Access Toolbar, which is just below the Customize Ribbon option. Click Research under commands and click Add. If you are looking to learn more about using Word in your office, contact us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 23rd, 2014

SocialMedia_Apr22_BLinkedIn allows professionals to connect with each other through common acquaintances called connections. It opens new doors for business and job opportunities. So your profile is very important as this is what tells employers and other users who you are. Customizing the URL of your LinkedIn profile can be done so you can choose the name you prefer, instead of having a random one.

Why customize your LinkedIn URL?

When you sign up for a LinkedIn account, there is a default URL set on your profile. It contains random letters and numbers that would be impossible for anyone but a savant to remember. The good news is that you can customize this URL and use something unique and memorable. Before going through the steps on how to do this, let’s first look at the reasons why it's a good idea to personalize your LinkedIn URL.
  • It’s easier to remember - This is one of the top reasons why you need to customize your URL. As we've said, the random line of letters and numbers you get on signing up can't really be remembered. So it you want to grow your connections and find more business or job opportunities, Having a more memorable URL is a very good idea. People can access your profile easily or recommend it to others if they remember it in the first place.
  • It can be used in your email signature and business cards - To increase your exposure even more, you may include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature and business cards. It would look unprofessional and, let's face it, slightly ridiculous if you print the default URL randomly onto a card. The name of your company or your personal moniker looks much more professional.
  • It’s more searchable online - LinkedIn profiles are not only searchable on the site itself. They also appear in the results when queries are made on search engines. You’ll have better chances of being found if part of your URL was searched.

How to customize the URL of your LinkedIn profile

Before customizing the URL of your LinkedIn profile, it’s best to ensure that all vital information is posted since it serves as your online resume. Think of the name that you wish to use in your URL. It must be composed of 3 to 30 numbers or letters. Special characters and spaces are not accepted.
  1. Log in to your LinkedIn account.
  2. Hover your mouse on “Profile”, which can be found on the top part of the screen, then click “edit profile”.
  3. Look below your photo and you’ll see your profile’s URL. Click the “edit” link next to it.
  4. Under “Your public profile URL” on the lower right side of the window, click the “customize your public profile URL” link.
  5. Enter your preferred URL name in the field.
  6. Click “Set Custom URL”.
That’s how you customize your LinkedIn URL. For instance, if you entered “SamJones”, your URL will be “http://www.linkedin.com/in/SamJones”. LinkedIn URL can only be customized up to three times within six months. If you’ve changed it three times in less than six months, you must wait for the said period to pass before you can change your URL again.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 22nd, 2014

Hardware_April21_BIf your company is reliant on computers, slow PCs can lead to delays, reduced productivity and even severe downtime that can rob your business of valuable resources. For this reason, you should take the time to improve your computer’s speed. The faster your computer runs, the more you can achieve which leads to higher profits.

While there are several ways to go about improving your computer’s speed, these five methods are some of the best:

Remove unwanted programs

Computers come with pre-installed programs that you may not really need. They use system resources like memory and often run in the background when you start up your PC. Freeing up system resources can give you more space, thus improving your computer’s speed. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Click the start button.
  2. Go to control panel.
  3. Click the program you don’t use and click uninstall.
  4. Repeat with all the applications that you don’t need.

Be careful not to remove applications that may be crucial for your PC to run properly. If you’re not sure about a certain program, research it to determine if it’s needed by the system or consult a technician.

Defragment your hard drive

The disk defragmenter is a tool that is a standard feature of all versions of Windows. It removes the bad sectors on your hard drive and optimizes file saving. It’s best not to do anything on your computer while running disk defragmenter to avoid interrupting the process. Furthermore, it usually takes time to complete so you may want to do this when you’re off work.

  1. Click the start button.
  2. Go to My Computer.
  3. Right click the hard drive icon.
  4. Click Properties.
  5. Select Tools.
  6. Click Defragment Now.

Upgrade hard drive size

Uninstalling unwanted applications can free up space and improve performance. However, if you need to use several programs and you work on lots of files that must be stored on your device, your hard drive can get full in no time. It’s recommended to have at least 15% of your total hard drive space free for the system to run smoothly.

If over 85% of your hard drive space has already been used, you’ll start experiencing slowness on your computer. To fix this problem, you may need to purchase a hard drive with more storage capacity. With this, you can store more files and applications without experiencing slowness due to an almost full disk.

Add more RAM

Another cause of slowness is low memory. Computers use RAM or random access memory to temporarily store data that you’re currently working on. Accessing multiple applications without enough memory will slow down your PC. To check if your memory is running slow, follow the steps below:

  1. Press ctrl+alt+delete on your keyboard at the same time.
  2. Click Task Manager.
  3. Go to the Performance tab.
  4. Under physical memory check if you’re already about to reach your memory’s limit. If so, you need to add more RAM on your system.

Run a virus scan

Virus infections can also cause a computer to slow down. If you have enough space on your hard drive and sufficient RAM, but are still experiencing sluggish performance, run a virus scan on your system as it could be infected. It’s recommended to keep your computer protected to prevent not just slowness, but other problems that can be caused by a virus, like corrupted files and system freezing.

Don’t let a slow computer disrupt your work, if you are looking for an effective solution contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
April 22nd, 2014

BCP_Apr21_BAside from ensuring that business operations are going smoothly each day, companies, whether big or small, must have a solid business continuity plan or BCP in place. You never know when disaster might strike, thus it’s important that you’re prepared and have everything planned in advance. You may have insurance, which would cover some of your expenses, but a BCP is about how to keep the business operating in the face of adversity.

Why make a business continuity plan?

Having a BCP for your company has several benefits. One of the most obvious is that your business can continue its everyday operations, thus allowing you to keep making sales. Aside from this, there are other advantages:

  • Possible to work in remote locations - In the event that your office can’t be used because of disaster, you’ll know how to keep key business functions running by thinking ahead about how employees or key personnel can continue working from remote locations. You may also have a certain place ready to be used as your temporary office if needed.
  • Downtime can be lessened - When disaster strikes it can stop your business operations immediately. Without a business continuity plan, you have to figure out what to do next the moment it happens. However, if you have an existing plan in place, you can immediately start to execute what needs to be done so that you get your business up and running in no time. Time means money in every business and that’s why it’s important not to waste any time unnecessarily.
  • Continue to provide for your customers - If your business operations stop, your customers may start trying out other products or services from other companies. They may forget about you if they don’t feel your presence. Since a successful BCP will keep you up and running, you’ll be able to keep hold of your loyal customers and even continue to make new ones, especially if your competitors do not have a business continuity plan and are afflicted with adverse circumstances too.

Factors to consider when creating a BCP

Since every business is unique, there’s no single BCP that works for all. However, there are common factors that must be considered by every company when devising one.

  • People to manage a BCP - As with any project or program, there should be a committee to take over the management of the business continuity process. This is unlikely to be achieved by a single person. It is best being a collaborative effort, where people have specific roles such as appointing an executive sponsor that takes care of funds and coordinators who oversee the overall process.
  • Analysis of business impact - You need to determine which products and services are the most important to your business operations. Ranking your products according to how critical their impact to your business is will help you determine which products to prioritize during the recovery phase. With this in mind, you can prevent bigger losses and maximize the efficiency of your recovery process.

Plan creation

After determining which products, services, and functions are most vital to your business, you can start creating a plan on what to do in the event of a disaster. It should clearly tell the process that must be followed, as well as the specific roles of individuals. There are existing sample plans that you can find on the Web and you can follow the format of a business in the same industry and customize the plan to suit your individual company.

Plan review

Your BCP plan must be studied carefully for quality. Every area should be reviewed properly to ensure the plan is a success. Since the needs and processes of the company may change, it’s also important to review the plan once or twice a year to ensure that it’s still appropriate for your business.

If you are truly serious about establishing business security, a BCP isn’t a process that you can easily neglect. Remember, you never know when a disaster can strike! The sooner you get a plan of action, the better. Contact us today to see how we can help you develop a plan that will work for your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 11th, 2014

Security_Apr11_BThe Internet is an amazing thing, but being so big and accessed by so many people, it is never really 100% secure. There are always security issues being uncovered that could put your business and systems at risk. One of the latest flaws is possibly one of the biggest to be uncovered in years and could affect nearly every person and company on the Internet. Codenamed Heartbleed, this bug makes stealing data and viewing secure communication incredibly easy.

Background info about secure transmission of information on the Web

Most sites on the Internet rely on Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology to ensure that information is transmitted securely from a computer to server. SSL and the slightly older Transport Layer Security (TLS) are the main technology used to essentially verify that the site you are trying to access is indeed that site, and not a fake one which could contain malware or any other form of security threat. They essentially ensure that the keys needed to confirm that a site is legitimate and communication can be securely exchanged.

You can tell sites are using SSL/TLS by looking at the URL bar of your browser. If there is a padlock or HTTPS:// before the Web address, the site is likely using SSL or TLS verifications to help ensure that the site is legitimate and communication will be secure. These technologies work well and are an essential part of the modern Internet. The problem is not actually with this technology but with a software library called OpenSSL. This breach is called Heartbleed, and has apparently been open for a number of years now.

About Heartbleed

OpenSSL is an open-source version of SSL and TSL. This means that anyone can use it to gain SSL/TSL encryption for their site, and indeed a rather large percentage of sites on the Internet use this software library. The problem is, there was a small software glitch that can be exploited. This glitch is heartbleed.

Heartbleed is a bug/glitch that allows anyone on the Internet to access and read the memory of systems that are using certain versions of OpenSSL software. People who choose to exploit the bugs in the specific versions of OpenSSL can actually access or ‘grab’ bits of data that should be secured. This data is often related to the ‘handshake’ or key that is used to encrypt data which can then be observed and copied, allowing others to see what should be secure information.

The problem with Heartbleed

There are two major problems with this bug. The first being that if an attacker can uncover the SSL handshake used by your computer and the server that hosts the site when you login or transmit data they will be able to see this information. This information usually is made up of your login name, password, text messages, content and even your credit card numbers. In other words, anything that gets transmitted to the site using that version of SSL can be viewed.

Scary right? Well, the second problem is much, much bigger. The hacker won’t only be able to see the data you transmit, but how the site receiving it employs the SSL code. If a hacker sees this, they can copy it and use it to create spoof sites that use the same handshake code, tricking your browser into thinking the site is legitimate. These sites could be made to look exactly same as the legitimate site, but may contain malware or even data capture software. It’s kind of like a criminal getting the key to your house instead of breaking the window.

But wait, it gets worse. This bug has been present in certain versions of OpenSSL for almost two years which means the sites that have been using the version of OpenSSL may have led to exposure of your data and communication. And any attacks that were carried out can’t usually be traced.

Am I affected by this?

What makes this so different from other security glitches is that OpenSSL is used by a large percentage of websites. What this means is that you are likely affected. In fact, a report published by Netcraft cited that 66% of active sites on the Internet used OpenSSL. This software is also used to secure chat systems, Virtual Private Networks, and even some email servers.

We have to make it clear here however: Just because OpenSSL is used by a vast percentage of the Internet, it doesn’t mean every site is affected by the glitch.

The latest versions of OpenSSL have already patched this issue and any website using these versions will still be secure. The version with Heartbleed came out in 2011. The issue is while sites may not be using the 2011 version now, they likely did in the past meaning your data could have been at risk. On the other hand, there are still a wide number of sites using this version of OpenSSL.

What should I do?

This is a big issue, regardless of whether a website uses this version of OpenSSL or not. The absolute first thing you should do is go and change your passwords for everything. When we say everything, we mean everything. Make the passwords as different as possible from the old ones and ensure that they are strong.

It can be hard to tell whether your data or communications were or are actually exposed or not, but it is safe to assume that at some time or another it was. Changing your passwords should be the first step to ensuring that you are secure and that the SSL/TSL transmissions are secure.
Another thing you should be aware of is what sites are actually using this version of OpenSSL. According to articles on the Web some of the most popular sites have used the version with the bug, or are as of the writing of this article, using it. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Gmail
  • Yahoo
  • Yahoo Mail
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Amazon Web Services
  • GoDaddy
  • Intuit

It would be a good idea to visit the blogs of each service to see whether they have updated to a new version of OpenSSL. As of the writing of this article, most had actually done so but some were still looking into upgrading. For a full list of sites, check out this Mashable article.

If you have a website that uses SSL/TSL and OpenSSL you should update it to the latest version ASAP. This isn’t a large update but it needs to be done properly, so it is best to contact an IT partner like us who can help ensure the upgrade goes smoothly and that all communication is infact secure.

Contact us today to see how we can help ensure that your company is secure.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 10th, 2014

BusinessValue_Apr07_BWhen it comes to Web design many business owners and managers work with a Web designer or developer. These Web experts often use terms that you may not be familiar with and which in essence sound like another language. This can make it difficult to communicate and to ultimately get your point across to achieve the website you want. To make dialogue easier, it might be helpful to learn some of the common Web design terms.

Here are 20 of the most used Web design terms that could help you communicate effectively with designers and developers about what you want from your website:

  • Alignment - The position of the various elements on your page. Alignment can be focused on the borders of the page, or positioning of elements based on other elements – e.g., aligning all images to the left side of the page, and making sure the text is aligned to the right of each image.
  • Banner - A form of advertising that is usually at the top of a page and goes from one side to the other. On many sites, the banner also contains links that can be clicked through to reach other pages.
  • Below the fold - The point on the page where viewers will begin to scroll after the page has loaded. Generally you put the most important information above the fold (what the visitor sees first) and supplement information below it.
  • Color wheel - A circle of colors that allows designers to easily pick out primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, as well as complimentary and contrasting colors – e.g., on most wheels red is opposite green because they complement one another.
  • CSS - Cascading Style Sheets allows designers to dictate the look and feel of a page. These are usually codes that dictate the font, color, and layout of a Web page.
  • DPI - Dots Per Inch is the resolution of an image or monitor. The higher the DPI, the higher the resolution or quality of the image.
  • Entry and Exit pages - This indicates where a viewer enters your page from an external source, and where a viewer will usually exit your site from. The vast majority of entry pages are the homepage, so these should be designed to capture and maintain interest. Exit pages can be the homepage, or perhaps a signup form.
  • GIF - Pronounced Jif, is an image format that is best suited for small images with few colors. These can also be animated.
  • Header - This is the absolute top of any page.
  • HTML - Hyper Text Markup Language, is the main language used to write webpages. For example, the bullet points in this article would be written as < ol><li>HTML – Hyper Text …</li></ol>. Browsers read this code and translate the directions given.
  • JPEG - An image format best suited to pictures and images with a large number of colors. The vast majority of images on the Internet and websites are uploaded in the JPEG format.
  • Lorem Ipsum - Placeholder text is used by developers when creating mockups of pages or layout so they can see how the text will look when the page is finished. This can be any form of text and is usually nonsensical, like ‘Lorem Ipsum Dolor’.
  • Orphan - A word or short sentence that appears by itself, below the text on a page. Generally these should be avoided, and can be easily ‘adopted’ by adjusting spacing between letters and words, or editing content.
  • Parent/Child elements - With HTML and other Web languages there is a relationship between elements (parts of code). Parents dictate elements that will be inherited by other codes (children) that are within the main parent group. For example, if you assign a headline a certain style this style becomes the parent. Any other elements like a bolded word within the headline will be a child. The child will take the same style as the headline and have the added bold format as well.
  • Pixel - The smallest element of any image and your monitor. It is essentially one dot of color. The resolution of images and monitors (how clear the image is) is often displayed in pixels. The higher the number of pixels, the higher the resolution and quality.
  • PNG - An image format that is most commonly used for images that have large amounts of uniform color or transparent backgrounds.
  • Script - A small bit of code that enables browsers to do more than just displaying text. If you’ve ever watched a video while on a website or downloaded something directly from a page, you have interacted with a script.
  • Watermark - A mark of ownership which is usually applied to the background of images or content. This is used to highlight ownership and deter theft of visual content. If you plan to post images on your site that you create, you might want to consider adding a watermark as protection.
  • White space - Space that surrounds text, images or other parts of the page. It is generally believed that the more white space there is, the easier it is to read content and draw attention to important aspects of a page.
  • Wireframe - A visual representation of a website’s layout with directions for visuals, location of content, and style for each page. This is usually constructed before the site is built and is more or less a road map for developers.

Of course, these are just a few of the terms designers and developers use on a regular basis. If you want to understand how to get the best out of your website and technology then we’re here to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 9th, 2014

SocialMedia_April07_BAre you searching for tools that can help you create striking visuals for your social media campaign? Let’s admit it, not everyone is a Photoshop expert, and for many of us, it can be really challenging and perhaps even intimidating to use. Furthermore, the cost of a program or designer may be out of your budget. Luckily, there are other options that could really help.

In this day and age where compelling visuals are possible online, it is extremely important to learn how to create attractive visuals to aid your social media marketing campaigns. You at least need a working knowledge of how to enhance your photos and make them more attention-grabbing. There are a number of free or highly affordable tools out there that can help you do just that.

PIXLR - This advanced photo editor works like Photoshop, only it is easier to use and therefore ideal for beginners. You can create images from scratch or perform advanced image editing. Using fairly simple tools can maximize the potential of images. For quick editing, there’s PIXLR EXPRESS or PIXLR O-MATIC, which are free to use. Visit the PIXLR website to learn more and start use these programs.

PicMonkey’s Online Photo Editor - This photo editor can transform ordinary images into fantastic photographs in just a few clicks. Select the image that you want to modify and add special effects such as fancy text, or simply crop and re-size. The photos edited using PicMonkey can be uploaded on Facebook and other social media platforms. PicMonkey is free to use so you can just go to the website and start editing away. For added frames and special effects there’s a premium version you can upgrade to for USD $33.33 per year.

LiveLuvCreate - This website can be used without any charge and offers a variety of design layouts and graphics. Using this platform you can edit your own images and there are also a ton of images created by users on its library that can help give you inspiration. Among the tools available are borders, filters, and photo effects, as well as fonts, colours, and styles. Visit the website to set up an account and start editing your images today.

Canva - If you want to create your Facebook cover photos from scratch, or if you want to design some blog images, this is a free application that might prove useful. This tool is very convenient and can be used to create business cards, invitations, posters, and presentations. Visit the website today to start creating your own visuals.

Quozio - If you are into quotes, Quozio lets you upload famous and favorite quotes, visualize them, and then share them on your social network. Simply enter an interesting quote and then select a background image. Instead of simply posting what’s on your mind, you can make a quote more attractive and appealing by transforming it into a visual using this free app. Visit the site today to visualize your next quote.

Whether you are posting on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network, your content cannot come alive without the use of quality graphics and images. If Photoshop does not work for you, these other tools are ideal substitutes for creating appealing graphics for a variety of social media platforms.

Make sure to share your own list of top photo tools for everyone to see! And, if you would like to learn more about leveraging social media in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 4th, 2014

Security_March31_BA malware infection is an attack that you do not want invading your business systems. Malicious software can often make its way on computers without your knowledge, causing various disturbances. What’s even worse, is that vital information saved on your computer or data that you access online could be stolen. Computers must have proper protection. In the event that malware infection is detected an immediate response is required.

Signs of a malware infection

Before proceeding with the steps on how to respond to malware infections, we first need to learn about the signs and symptoms of a malware infection. These include:
  • Several pop-ups appear even when not browsing the Web.
  • Unusual slowness of the computer and Internet connection.
  • System hangs or freezes.
  • Corrupted programs.
  • Antivirus is disabled.
  • E-mails sent to or from your account which you did not send.
  • High network activity, even when not using large programs or accessing huge data.
  • Redirected access to some sites.

How to respond to a malware infection

In case you experience any of these symptoms, the first thing to do is to ensure that your antivirus and antispyware program is updated. This is to make sure that they detect the latest known threats on their database. You should then run scans to see if an infection is detected. If it is, the programs usually have a way to remove the infection. You then need to follow the steps the program recommends.

If this doesn't work, disconnect the infected computer from the network to prevent the spread of the malware. Furthermore, avoid accessing the Web and using vital information such as bank account and credit card information. Let the technical department or your IT partner handle the concern since they are trained in determining and eradicating system malware infections.

Once the problem has been pinpointed, a tech specialist will go through the process of eliminating the infection. This includes backing up data on the computer and restoring the system to its original state. Depending on the extent of the infection, the computer may need to be wiped clean, or reformatted before restoring backed-up files.

After the whole process, the computer must be tested to ensure that the infection has been totally removed. Moreover, further investigation and studies must also be done to determine where the problem started, as well as to create a strategy as to how to prevent this from happening in the future.

How to prevent a malware attack

Prevention is better than a cure and this definitely applies to malware infections. It’s best to arm yourself with knowledge on how to avoid malware attacks and prevent your systems from being infected.
  1. Ensure that security protection is always updated and that you run system scans on a regular basis.
  2. Avoid downloading attachments or clicking links from unknown sites or senders.
  3. Enable firewall protection.
Malware can hugely affect business operations and the security of private information. One of the best ways to prevent this is to work with an IT partner, like us, who can help recommend and install protection systems. You might want to think about getting help in managing these solutions too, to ensure that your systems are secure at all times.

If you have questions or concerns with regards to malware prevention and resolution, feel free to call us. Our support team is always ready to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security