Where technology experts at Endsight share their expertise on IT Management, the issues that arise for clients, and the benefits of technology for medical practices, biotech firms, law firms, financial services and other small businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I used to have a series of passwords that I used over and over. My log on for my bank account was the same as my log on for my credit card. My log on for my corporate network was the same as my log on for Facebook and so on.
That was until I found 1Password, a software tool helps me to create strong, unique passwords, remember them, and restore them, all from my web browser.
It uses strong encryption to keep my data safe and as a Dropbox user, I can leverage the cloud to access my password data from any of my devices.
Here are a few reasons why I really like this application:
One password rules them all:
1Password allows me to consolidate all of my log ons and passwords. It allows me to safely and securely save everything that I need and to quickly log on to the necessary website with a single click. This has the added benefit of helping me to head off any malicious key logging software.
The data store can only be accessed with my master password. This way I only have to remember one password and the tool take care of everything else.
Of course, the downside is that if someone were ascertained my master password they would have everything else that’s why it’s really important to make sure that the master password is highly secure. Fortunately, our latest quick tip is about creating highly secure passwords. I’ve embedded the video in this blog but you can also view it on YouTube by going to www.YouTube.com/Endsightit.
Easy to Remember Strong Passwords
Plug-ins to my favorite web browser:
1Paswored has integrations for most of the popular web browsers in the market that allow me with a single click to automatically paste the username and password for a particular web property into the logon field.
The exception is when I have not logged into one password for some time. In this case, one password will ask me for my master password before it will paste the web properties logon credentials into the logon form.
A password Wizard to help me create complex passwords:
Since I only have to remember one password, every other passwords can be incredibly complicated and 1Password includes a tool that helps me quickly create and store those passwords.
The downside to this of this feature is that it doesn’t provide an easy way to change the password on each specific Web property. This is still a manual process that requires specific workflow. I have to remember a specific series of steps to reset and save a new password. If I don’t follow the steps properly I could end up saving an incorrect password and lock myself out of the Web property.
Fortunately, once a web property’s log on is set to one of these highly complicated passwords, I don’t have to worry about resetting log on for some time.
For more information on one password go to https://agilebits.com/onepassword. The tool is available in Windows and Apple flavors and as I mentioned it has plug-ins for all of your favorite Web browsers. It also has an App for for iOS and Android. The desktop tool is priced in the $50 per user range. But for all the time and energy that it saves I think it’s totally worth it.
Have you ever made notes in Word, Excel, Outlook, or Notepad, and categorized them in folders, inside other folders … and then found it difficult to keep track of everything especially when trying to retrieve specific pieces of information? For note taking, there is a better way. It’s called OneNote. With simple organization, search capabilities, very intuitive text formatting, ability to copy emails, articles, pictures, screen captures, and more. OneNote is arguably one of the most powerful note-taking softwares.
So how does it work?
Let’s start by opening OneNote. If you are using OneNote 2010, you may see this page from the OneNote 2010 Guide. In fact, I’m going to use this graphic to explain that. OneNote mimics real notebooks in the way it’s organized. It’s broken down like this: You have your notebooks. Inside your notebooks are your sections. Inside your sections are your Pages. On your pages are your notes. Also just like real notebooks – there is no save button – everything is saved automatically all the time.
Let’s go through the steps together of creating a notebook, sections, pages, and notes.
First go to File, New. For this example, let’s store it on the local computer. Give it a name and a folder location. Now that we have our notebook let’s create a few sections. Double click this New Section 1 tab to rename this section. And this tab right next to it creates new sections. Sections will automatically start with a blank page which includes today’s date and time, both of which can be changed. And we title it here. Click this New Page button here to add pages.
Writing notes is easy. Anywhere you place your cursor on the page you can write a note. And if you go to the Home tab you get the familiar formatting options from other Microsoft applications. When you copy text from the web a webpage link is included below your note. You can also drag and drop any file from your computer onto your OneNote page and create a link to the original file, create a copy of the original which is actually housed in your OneNote section file, or if it’s a printable document you can insert a printed copy. Other items may respond differently, for example dragging in a folder creates a link to that folder and dragging in picture files or pictures from the internet recreates them.
Now that we know how to create Notebooks, Sections, Pages, and Notes, get started on your own notebook. And don’t worry about not being able to find a note because this search bar allows you to search any word or phrase within all of your notebooks, so you can easily retrieve information.
And that’s it. Whether you take notes for professional or personal use, now you know the basics of OneNote and should have enough to start using this powerful note taking tool.
Have you ever wanted your colleagues to review a Microsoft Word document, but were unsure how to keep track of the changes that your reviewers have made to the document? The “Track Changes” feature in Word is a simple way to identify these changes. It allows a document to be edited collaboratively, with changes made by one reviewer visible to all subsequent reviewers.
You’ll find track changes in the Review tab.
I suggest making sure you have an appropriate user name for your colleagues to see when you are making tracked changes as well as adding notes to the document. Go to the track changes pulldown and select Change User Name.
Now you are ready to start track changes. Click on the pull down and select Track Changes. By default when you edit this document Microsoft word will strike through deletions and underline added text.
Let’s say we made our edits to the document and sent it to the next reviewer.They would find the original edits in one color and their own edits in another. This will continue to change from reviewer to reviewer to reviewer. That’s basically what the “red and blue by author section” means in the “track changes options.” Simply that the tracked changes color will alternate from reviewer to reviewer. This is usually the default.
The reviewing pane is a great way to see every change that has been made to the document and identify which reviewers made those changes. It can be viewed vertically on the side or horizontally.You can also see who made edits and when they were made by simply hovering over the edited text.
If you want to see what the original document looked like before any changes were made, click on the pulldown and select “Original”. If you want to see what the final document will look like if all of the changes are incorporated, click on the pulldown and select “Final”. Individual changes to the document can be confirmed by choosing “Accept and Move to Next” or “Reject and Move to Next”, or simply right-clicking on an edited item and making your selection.
Now you know how to use the “Track Changes” feature in Microsoft Word.
In 1987 I got my first real job as a paperboy for the Akron Beacon Journal. My paper route taught me early on that everything costs something. Advertisers were paying the paper for access to my subscribers, the subscribers on my rout were paying the paper for access to the news, and the paper was paying me to deliver every morning to the subscribers. And it didn’t stop there.
I quickly learned that I could make more money in the form of tips if I made sure that I delivered the paper to certain subscribers a certain way. Mr. Gore would pay more if I didn’t walk across his lawn. Mrs. Johnson would pay more if I tucked the paper in-between the storm door and her front door. Mr. Smith would pay more if I put his paper inside a plastic bag and then place the bag on the mat in front of the door. Everything costs something, and then one day it didn’t.
That day was in the spring of 1999 when I signed up for my first "free" e-mail address. It was my first encounter with a free Internet service and as I look back I can’t remember being at all skeptical about the offer. Why is that? I think it was because everything about Internet and the World Wide Web was new and different. The old rules were being re-placed or so it seemed by a new set of rules.
But as this article demonstrates, that notion was wrong. The Internet is bound by the same rules that bound that old paper rout. Everything costs something.
I’ve re-posted the article below, but you can read that original article, by clicking here
Published March 01, 2012 | Associated Press
Google says the changes will make it easier for consumers to understand how it collects personal information, and allow the company to create more helpful and compelling services. Critics, including most of the country’s state attorneys general and a top regulator in Europe, argue that Google is trampling on people’s privacy rights in its relentless drive to sell more ads.
Here’s a look at some of the key issues to consider as Google tries to learn about you.
Q: How will Google’s privacy changes affect users?
A: Google Inc. is combining more than 60 different privacy policies so it will be able to throw all the data it gathers about each of its logged-in users into personal dossiers. The information Google learns about you while you enter requests into its search engine can be culled to suggest videos to watch when you visit the company’s YouTube site.
Users who write a memo on Google’s online word processing program, Docs, might be alerted to the misspelling of the name of a friend or co-worker a user has communicated with on Google’s Gmail. The new policy pools information from all Google-operated services, empowering the company to connect the dots from one service to the next.
Q: Why is Google making these changes?
A: The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., says it is striving for a "beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google." What Google hasn’t spent much time talking about is how being able to draw more revealing profiles about its users will help sell advertising — the main source of its $38 billion in annual revenue.
One reason Google has become such a big advertising network: Its search engine analyzes requests to figure out which people are more likely to be interested in marketing pitches about specific products and services. Targeting the ads to the right audience is crucial because in many cases, Google only gets paid when someone clicks on an ad link. And, of course, advertisers tend to spend more money if Google is bringing them more customers.
Q: Is there a way to prevent Google from combining the personal data it collects from all its services?
A: No, not if you’re a registered user of Gmail, Google Plus, YouTube, or other Google products. But you can minimize the data Google gathers. For starters, make sure you aren’t logged into one of Google’s services when you’re using Google’s search engine, watching a YouTube video or perusing pictures on Picasa. You can get a broad overview of what Google knows about you at www.google.com/dashboard, where a Google account login is required. Google also offers the option to delete users’ history of search activity.
It’s important to keep in mind that Google can still track you even when you’re not logged in to one of its services. But the information isn’t quite as revealing because Google doesn’t track you by name, only through a numeric Internet address attached to your computer or an alphanumeric string attached to your Web browser.
A: No, a few products, such as Google’s Chrome Web browser and mobile payment processor Wallet, will still be governed by separate privacy policies.
A: The company has no doubt about it. That’s why it’s repeatedly rebuffed pleas to delay the changes since announcing the planned revisions five weeks ago. But privacy activists and even some legal authorities have several concerns.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy rights group, sued the FTC in a federal court in an effort to force the FTC to exercise its powers and block Google’s privacy changes. A federal judge ruled the courts didn’t have the authority to tell the FTC how to regulate Google. The FTC says it is always looking for evidence that one of its consent orders has been violated.
Earlier this week, the French regulatory agency CNIL warned Google CEO Larry Page that the new policy appears to violate the European Union’s strict data-protection rules. Last week, 36 attorneys general in the U.S. and its territories derided the new policy as an "invasion of privacy" in a letter to Page.
Q: What regulatory power do government agencies have to change or amend the privacy changes?
A: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission gained greater oversight over Google’s handling of personal information as part of a settlement reached last year. Google submitted to the agreement after exposing its users email contacts when it launched a now-defunct social networking service called Buzz in 2010. The consent order requires Google’s handling of personal information to be audited every other year and forbids misleading or deceptive privacy changes.
Google met with the FTC before announcing the privacy changes. Neither the company nor the FTC has disclosed whether Google satisfied regulators that the revisions comply with the consent order.
I remember when I got my first dual monitor set up. I’ve always been a mobile worker and so I was surprised when I found the 2nd monitor sitting in my cube. Up to this point, the only people I’d seen with multiple monitors were the response center guys. They’ve always had at least three monitors so that they can run a remote session on one screen and research and document issues on the others.
I didn’t know what I’d use my 2nd monitor for. But I got the hang of it. Now a days, I would be really limited without it. I thought I’d detail how I use the extra real estate.
The email task and calendar views are key applications for me. As I’m talking on the phone I’m constantly referring back to my calendar to schedule meetings and then checking my inbox to reference email. With two screens I can eliminate the toggle between email and calendar. I do this by right clicking the calendar tab and selecting open in a new window. Outlook becomes much easier for me when I can spread it’s different views across two screens.
Research / Reference is a breeze:
I often use multiple resources to research a company or topic. Again, the extra space gives me the ability to read Webpage content on one screen, open a link to a reference page in a new window on the second screen, read that content and quickly switch my attention back to the previous page and continue reading. It’s a huge de-hassle and time saver.
I never need to find my soft / phone
I’ve blogged about my VIOP phone system before. As I wrote in that posting, One of it’s most useful features is its softphone. A softphone allows me to take calls on a wireless headset that’s connected to my computer. I can be anywhere and take calls just like I was in the office. Dual monitors allow me to have always-on access to the smart phone console.
Editing documents is easier:
John Grover, Endsight’s VP of Client Strategy, found a neat trick that helps him to create Microsoft Word documents. He inverted his 2nd monitor and configured the view so that he can see more vertical space on the document. This saves him the time of scrolling down a page.
How to set up dual monitors:
I’ve included a link to an article I came across on how to set up dual monitors. You can check it out by clicking here.
Dual monitors are just one example of the many ways hardware / software configurations can de-hassle the work day. At Endsight, we’re constantly looking for things like this. When we find a useful tip, we try to make sure we share it with our Outsourced IT clients.
For years, small businesses only had one real choice for business productivity software: Microsoft Office.But that may change as web-based applications, delivered via the cloud, flood the market.
For many, Google Apps represents a viable alternative.However, before a firm chooses to shelve its investment in Microsoft Office there is a lot to consider.
To begin with, software packages evolve over time to accommodate the customer’s requirements.As a relatively young software solution, Google Apps is less complete than the more established Microsoft solution.It is extremely difficult for any company, even Google, to anticipate the real-world requirements for a full-featured solution right out of the gate.
The “completeness” of Google Apps may be less important because of the way its software is delivered.Google Apps is “cloud based”, allowing popular feature requests to be rapidly developed, tested and deployed without the end user having to upgrade his or her software.Once deployed, the new features just appear the next time the user logs in.
Microsoft Office has its benefits too.For example, it has been around for a very long time.A benefit best illustrated by a story I recently read in Network World about Microsoft Windows turning 25 years old.I am including a link to the full article here.
Network World also included a cool slideshow with screenshots of the different versions of Windows through years.To view the slideshow click here.
Just like Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2010 inherits all the lessons learned from the previous decades of end-user feedback, research and development.However, a large number of users do not use or need many of the more advanced features offered in Microsoft Office.
Regardless of whether your organization chooses to use Microsoft Office or Google Apps, end user training is a real key to success.
Google Apps is not a “Webified” version of Microsoft Office.It sorts and presents e-mail differently, key function buttons are positioned in different places and working within a web interface takes some getting used to.
Microsoft Office 2010 has made several user interface changes that will take some getting used to and many of the advanced features that can help business users become more productive need to be pointed out and configured.Once that is completed, end users need to be trained on how to utilize the new features.
As the technology changes and as we get more sophisticated as technology users the way we use our core productivity software will evolve.Firms that embrace this change and seek to apply it in creative ways will gain real-time savings.Time that can be refocused on finding new customers, making current customers happier and finding new ways to more efficiently operate the business.
We spend a lot of time analyzing our client’s productivity needs as part of our outsourced IT service.If you feel like it might be helpful to discuss your needs, click here and we can schedule some time to talk in person!
I am including a brief survey about productivity software.If you have the time, I hope you will complete it.We plan to publish the survey’s results in a future blog posting.
I’ve used Microsoft Excel for years as a way to analyze a sales pipeline or as a way to clean up customer lists. I’ve even used many of the rudimentary functions and calculation tools to help me total the cost of a marketing budget or to calculate percentages. But that has really been the extent of my use of this tool.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. In fact, I’d bet that most of us only use a small percentage of the features and capabilities available in this tool. But as Endsight’s outsourced ITbusinesses has grown, it has become more and more important for us to analyze our business data and use that analysis to help us make good business decisions based on what we know instead of what we feel.
For example, as a sales and marketing professional it’s important for me to know where our best new business leads are coming from. On the surface that seems like a pretty simple question, but the answer requires a detailed analysis of Endsight’s historical sales and marketing data. My traditional methods for sorting and filtering data were inadequate and so I set out to learn some of the more advanced features available in Microsoft Excel. The feature that really helped me with my specific issue was pivot tables.
Pivot tables allow me to organize long lists of incomprehensible data into a concise dashboard view. It took me a few hours to learn how to create a pivot table, but once I got it down I’m certain it literally saved me days of work.
If you have a difficult question that you need to answer and you suspect some key insight to the question might reside in your historical business data, A pivot table could be useful in helping you smoke the answer out. If you feel like you might benefit from a more intensive training on Microsoft Excel it might make sense to consider signing up for a training class.
Endsight does some simple end-user training but it does not do intensive, classroom-based training for advanced users. We do however work with some great partners that can provide that service. If you’d like an introduction, e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll be happy to connect you.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows an organization to converge its voice network with its data network. It is technology that’s been around for some time and, in fact, most of the small business owner’s that I speak with already have a VoIP network.
From an architectural standpoint, a VoIP phone system makes good sense: why build two networks if you only need one? But instead of spending a lot of time writing about all of the organizational benefits of VoIP technology, I am going to spend a little time describing three of the features that I personally find most valuable:
One Touch dialing:
I spend a tremendous amount of time talking with people on the telephone. Before my company implemented a VoIP phone system I would sometimes have to dial the same person several times because I miss dialed the telephone number. With our VoIP system, I can dial anyone in my CRM system by clicking a telephone icon next to the contact’s phone number. One touch dialing saves me a lot of time and assures that I get the phone number right every time, assuming the telephone number is entered correctly into my CRM system. (Data quality will probably be another topic for another blog posting at another time.)
VoIP technology turns the phone system into a software application. The handset that sits on my desk is far less like a telephone and far more like a computer. The handset routes calls and accesses my voicemail just like an analog handset can. But the VoIP handset can work from anywhere I have an Internet connection. If I wanted to, I could simply unplug the VoIP handset and move to any desk in the office.
I frequently work away from the office and need a way of connecting to my VoIP system when I am not sitting at my desk. Carrying around a bulky office phone is inconvenient and not much of a solution. Instead of using a handset, I have a piece of software loaded on my laptop called a soft phone. This software turns my laptop into a mobile office phone. The soft phone application allows me to maintain an in-office presence from anywhere that I have an internet connection. I can then pair my laptop with any Bluetooth headset and I am able to make and receive calls from my work extension.
You’d think that with anywhere any time access to the phone system a guy like me would never miss a phone call. I only wish that were true! I do spend a lot of my time on the telephone; however, I also spend a lot of my time meeting in person with people. During these times, when I am not available to take telephone calls, the VoIP system will automatically route my caller to my voicemail. This is familiar to anyone who has used voicemail in the past. However, the VoIP voicemail system shines because after the voicemail has been left, the system converts the message to an audio file and forwards it to my e-mail in box. I receive the email on my BlackBerry and am able to listen to the voicemail at my earliest convenience.
These benefits are just a few of many that I see on a daily basis. VOIP phone systems are highly specialized software applications that require a great deal of expertise to deploy and utilize properly. Endsight partners with trustworthy phone system providers to meet this requirement for our clients. If you are interested in looking into your options for phone systems, send me a quick note and I would be happy to help you find a good phone system and partner for you work with. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My father worked in corporate America before everyone had a personal computer.Instead, my Dad had a tray on the left side of his desk that acted as his in box and a tray on the right that acted as his out box.
He traveled to Asia on multi week business trips and upon his return, he’d be greeted by a giant stack of memo’s, directives and other inter-office correspondence.His solution was to take the stack of paper from his in box and move it directly to the trash can.“If it’s important, they can call me,” he would say.
Dad’s approach to managing his data (paper) wasn’t glitzy or fancy, but it worked and I think it has some application in the digital world.
I’m pretty sure that if I deleted everything in my email store that was more than 6 months old, I’d probably never miss 99% of it. But I know to my core that 1% of that email data set is vital, and so the whole thing lingers on the mail server.That data is then replicated to Endsight’s off-site back up cloud and so now, this blob of mostly useless data exists in two places.
In his article entitled, “The big data addiction” Matt Prigg shares some of his insight into how this very issue is impacting organizations of all sizes today.In it Prigg says, “In a cruel twist of fate, our dependence on ever-expanding digital data has created a feedback loop that fuels its own growth. Within the past 10 years or so, we’ve grown more productive by using business technology. As a result, we’ve created even more massive mountains of data, and we rely upon those mountains to such a degree that we need to duplicate them – multiplying the problem again.”
In addition to email, Prigg is writing about business system data, file shares and a litany of other administrative and back up data sets.In a large organization, this data grows and duplicates at a much faster rate than in a small organization, but a small business isn’t immune to the problem.
For file shares, I think one of the prime culprits for expanding data is the fact that no one is really responsible for the files stored on the file share.For example, Endsight had a file on its sales and marketing drive called “2003 archive.”It hadn’t been opened since 2004.Every time I saw the file I thought to myself, “I should just right click & select delete.”But I didn’t create any of the files and so I couldn’t say for sure that someone wouldn’t go looking for a file housed in the archive.
I think the best solution for this problem is to create and publish a document retention policy.For an example of one click here: http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/sampledocretentionpolicy.pdf .This can help to eliminate any guess work and replace it with simple policy enforcement.You can even use technology to set rules and automate the document retention / purge process.
More and more of Endsight’s outsourced IT clients are encountering data store limit issues.We expect these issues to increase as firms move their on-premise computing systems to cloud computing.