While email is without a doubt one of the most useful communication tools out there, it can be challenging to master. Sure, you probably write many a day, but because emails lack face-to-face communication, it’s easy for these messages to be read the wrong way, literally. One of the most troublesome areas people have is with the sign-off. Have you ever struggled with choosing the right words and deciding which is the most appropriate way to end your message?
When it comes to signing off in an email, you could use the same words over and over again but, it may not be correct for certain situations. A client who has made a complaint in an email, for example, may not appreciate an informal ‘Cheers’. This will likely come across as highly unprofessional.
So, what makes a good sign-off? If you pause to think about it for a minute, you probably use only a few sign-offs again and again. While there is no major problem with this, you might be sending out the wrong message. The key to a good sign-off actually depends on a number of things:
To make things a little easier, here are six of the most popular sign-offs and when they should be used, and where possible the greeting they should be used with.
What message does the way you use technology convey to other people? Do you need to make the most of email communication? Get in touch and we’re sure to get back to you with just the right message.
Have you ever bought something online? There is something compelling about browsing an online store, filling a virtual cart, checking-out and having it arrive on your doorstep a few days later. E-commerce is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of shopping, but like everything else on the Internet, there are security issues you could run into.
Below are five ways to ensure that e-commerce transactions remain secure:
1. Watch what you share Many security experts continually want about this for social media usage, but it is also relevant to e-commerce. Often, when you make an online purchase you will be asked to provide some personal information. This might include your shipping and billing address, birthday, etc. Did you know that many sites will often ask for more information than they really need to complete the order?
The reason companies ask for this additional information is often so they can get to know you better, and provide more relatable, targeted product recommendations. Some dubious sites may ask you for this information and later sell it to a third party. When purchasing online, you should be aware of what information that is required – usually indicated by an asterisk – and what isn’t. In order to remain as secure as possible, only share information that is absolutely necessary.
Beyond that, if you are planning to link a digital wallet to your mobile phone, you should be careful who you share or lend your phone to. These services are set to take off in a big way, and there has already been instances of people with digital wallets being duped by strangers asking to borrow their phones in order to find their wallet. It is a good idea to restrict wallet access and not store any valuable information on your phone’s hard drive. Instead, store it on a password protected cloud storage site.
2. Watch how you connect People are using their phones, tablets and laptops for online shopping in an ever increasing number. This is largely because the devices are convenient and portable – you can shop from wherever you may be. But, what many people fail to realize is that they are connecting to public Wi-Fi if they are on the go. Sure, it is cool to be able to buy your groceries on Amazon from the coffee shop at lunch, but if you have connected to public Wi-Fi, your information is likely wide-open – anyone with the right tools can access it.
You need to be careful when you shop. Don’t enter any valuable or important information like passwords and credit card numbers while connected to public Wi-Fi. If your mobile device has a data plan, switch to that instead. Or, wait until you are connected to a secure network.
3. Verify all sites When you are shopping online you should verify that the site is in fact legitimate. The easiest way to do this is to take a look at your browser’s URL bar, and more specifically the website’s address. You are looking for it to start with, https://. What this indicates is that the website has been authenticated as being legitimate. Most websites like Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. all have https protocols. If you don’t see this in the address, you may be looking at a fake website.
If you are unsure, try entering https:// before the Web address and hitting Enter. You should also take note of this URL when you are checking-out, because if there is no https://, the site may be sending unsecure information and if that information is your credit card number then you really don’t want that to be the case.
If you are shopping from a new website, you should take time to look through the extra information like the About Us and Contact pages. Take note of the address and company names, then search for the company on say Wikipedia or Google, taking care to see if the address is the same. Another trick is to search the various social media services like Facebook and Twitter for accounts related to the website.
4. Don’t pay with your bank account One of the benefits of e-commerce is that it is easy. Because of this, the number of users buying stuff online is growing exponentially. Banks are aware of this trend and have launched services that allow you to pay for transactions with your debit card. The problem with this is these cards are directly linked to your bank account, often with higher limits than credit cards. It can be incredibly tough to get money back if something happens, largely because as soon as you account has been debited, the money is gone.
Many people who shop online use a credit card. The main reason for this is because most banks and card issuers offer online shopping protection, which makes it easier to get money back should anything untoward happen. The best solution could be to sign up for a credit card that is only used for online purchases, and even linked to a separate bank account. This could minimize your losses should something happen. A debit card for an account that has a limited amount of funds in it at any one time can also be a way to protect your main money pot.
5. Don’t link accounts For convenience, many online retailers like Amazon, Apple, etc. offer to store your credit card number. It is highly recommended that you don’t allow these sites to store your credit card numbers, especially if you use the same account name or email address as other accounts.
If you get hacked, and the hacker finds that you have say an Amazon account with the same username and password, they will likely go on a shopping spree, which could cost you time and money.
Taking precautions while shopping online is a good idea, and could help mitigate the risk of having your identity or money stolen. If you are looking for more information on how to be safe online, or how to ensure that your company’s online store is secure, please contact us today.
For many countries, August through to October is severe weather season. From wildfires in the western US, to typhoons in Asia, many regions see a rise in disasters during these months. In an effort to increase awareness FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Association) has named September as National Preparedness Month. Are you prepared for a disaster that affects your business though?
When it comes to preparing for a disaster, especially a natural disaster, there are so many things you need to plan for and prep. Frankly, it can be overwhelming. We found that a good place to start is to prepare two aspects of your business: Your employees and your physical assets.
Tips for preparing your employees Many business owners view their employees as the most valuable assets. If a disaster strikes you will rely on them to not only execute any plans you have developed but to also help keep the business running. Unfortunately, if the disaster is big enough your employees will also be affected. With this in mind, you need to ensure that you prepare your staff as well as your business.
Here’s four tips on how you can do that:
Tips for preparing your business and physical assets While your employees are your most valuable asset, they likely aren’t very productive without a physical place to work – your office or business premises. In order for any disaster-oriented plans to truly work, it’s a good idea to take steps to secure your physical assets and safeguard your company. Here’s four tips on how:
If you would like to learn more about how to prepare your business for disaster, why not check out these excellent resources on FEMA’s Business Preparedness site. Or, you could always contact us to see how our systems can help ensure you remain operational during any disaster.
Productivity software can be found in pretty much every business. While there is usually a bundle of software available, the most useful is arguably the spreadsheet. Google users have a solid spreadsheet program in Google Drive. However, at first glance you may think this is missing some key features, such as the ability to transpose data. In truth, it actually is there, just slightly hidden.
If you are unfamiliar with Transpose, a popular feature found in other spreadsheet programs like Microsoft’s Excel, it allows users to switch, or flip, selected rows and columns quickly and easily. While this may seem like a feature that you wouldn’t use too often, it can be a big help, especially when it comes to graphing and creating charts.
If you have ever painstakingly entered information into columns and rows, then gone to visualize it in a chart or graph and realized that it looks terrible, and it would look better if it was reversed, transpose can make this process easier.
How to transpose rows and columns To transpose rows and columns in Spreadsheet, you first need to have data entered. From there you can:
It is a good idea to be aware of whether you need to flip cells with text, say label cells, as well. Simply select these cells, along with the data cells, and Spreadsheet will take care of the rest.
If you want to copy the data from the new cells into the old cells, don’t simply copy and paste the cells, as this will actually delete all the information. Instead, select the new cells and copy them as you usually would. When you go to paste, right-click on the first cell, hover your mouse over Paste special, and select Paste Values Only. This will paste ONLY the numbers and words, but it won’t take the formatting. You should then be able to go and delete the transposed cells you previously created.
Transpose can be a useful feature, especially if you need to quickly flip data in cells. If you would like to learn more about Google Spreadsheets, or any of the other Drive products, please contact us today.
A popular trend related to data is the increasing use of infographics and visualization. While it is true that a visual representation of data can be helpful, it doesn’t mean that every bit of data collected needs to be represented visually or turned into an infographic. So, when exactly should data be visualized?
In order to know when data visualization should be used, it’s a good idea to start with why we even use it at all, and what makes it work.
Why visualize data The whole point of taking data and turning it into more understandable information is so that we can utilize it to make a decision or take action from what we learn. Data visualization is just another way of turning data that we can’t read or understand and turning it into something that we can see and use. In other words, creating information with visible insights.
In general there are three reasons why you might want to visualize data:
What makes a good data visualization There are three main aspects of information that make up good effective data visualizations:
If the visualization fails to meet any one of these three aspects, you will end up with an outcome that doesn’t provide value and will likely be ignored or viewed with skepticism. In this case it is probably not worthwhile trying to visualize it. If you would like to know more about how you can visualize data, or how you can harness the data in your organization, contact us today to see how we can help.
Since the release of the iPad, tablets have seen a near meteoric rise in popularity. One of the reasons for the continued success of Apple’s iPad is usability – the tablet is simple to use, and many users can just pick it up and be on their way. Almost all Apple systems have shortcuts built in to make use and navigation easy, and the iPad is no different with some pretty powerful keyboard shortcuts.
Here are three keyboard shortcuts for the iPad you may find useful.
Separate the keyboard A common complaint of many users is that the keyboard can be too big, taking up way too much of the screen, and even making it tougher to type. Did you know that you can separate the keyboard? If you pinch open the keyboard (use two fingers from one hand, and separate them as long as they are on the keyboard), it should pop apart and hover with each half on the left and right side of the screens.
You should be able to move these halves up and down to position them where you like. You can merge the keyboards back together by pinching closed (use two fingers from one hand and move them together while over the keyboard).
There is actually another way to do this: If you tap and hold on the keyboard button (the bottom right of the keyboard), you should see a popup window asking you if you want to Split or Undock your keyboard. Undock means you will be able to move it, while Split means separate the keyboard.
Quickly add a full stop/period Tired of always searching for the period? You don’t actually have to find it on the iPad’s keyboard. All you have to do to add one is quickly tap twice on the spacebar, and it should be added in automatically, along with a space. This should make it faster and easier to type.
Activate alternative letters At first glance, the keyboard is lacking special characters used in writing and other languages. They are actually there, just hiding. You can activate them by simply pressing and holding for a second or two on a key, you should see a box pop up above the key with different options. Here are two popular ones:
To find all of the options, it would be a good idea to take a few minutes pressing on each key to see the different characters available. You’ll be surprised as to how many are actually hiding.
Believe it or not, Apple has actually put alternative keys in the number section of the keyboard as well. When you switch to this mode, pressing and holding on the keys will give you more options. For example, pressing on the dollar sign will bring up the currency symbol for up to five other currencies.
If you are looking to learn more about the iPad, contact us, we may have a solution for you.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems have become commonplace in businesses of all sizes. By using an Internet connection, instead of traditional phone lines, companies can realize potentially high cost savings. One issue with VoIP systems is that during heavy use call quality and stability can suffer. This is usually caused by what experts call ‘packet delays’.
So what exactly are packet delays and what you can do to minimize any issues and ultimately improve the quality of your VoIP based calls?
What are packet delays? Before we look into this, it is a good idea to know what a packet is. In digital communication, data goes back and forth between a sender and receiver. This data can be anything from a file, information or even a VoIP call. In practice, this data is too large to actually send as one chunk. As a result, it is broken down into smaller pieces that are called packets.
These packets are then transmitted to the receiver and reassembled into the original piece of data. The time that these packets take to get from one source to another is called latency. However, because digital transmission lines can only handle so many packets at once, they occasionally become overloaded. This means it takes packets longer to get to their destination, causing higher latency, or in other words, packet delays.
When this happens, you will likely notice a drop in call quality, echoes and even delays.
What causes these delays? In a perfect world, all networks and VoIP systems would be able to essentially organize their packets so as to minimize delay and offer high quality calls with zero issues. Unfortunately, this is not possible all of the time.
Packet delays are actually a normal part of VoIP, and providers have integrated systems and buffers to minimize their impact, offering call quality on a par with, and often better than traditional landlines.
There are two main reasons why delays occur:
How to minimize the effect of packet delays As the end-user of VoIP systems, it may seem like there is little you can do to actually reduce packet delays. This isn’t true. There are actually several steps you can take to decrease delays:
VoIP is a valuable communications system, and if you are looking to integrate it into your business, or speed up and improve the quality of your calls, why not contact us today? There will be no delay in us looking for a solution you might just need.
The amount of data available to a business is exponentially increasing, and many are starting to realize that they can harness this for help making decisions, predicting trends and outcomes of other business initiatives. This capture and analysis of data is commonly referred to as Business Intelligence (BI) can be incredibly useful, however it isn’t easy, many businesses make mistakes that could be costly.
Here are four of the most common mistakes businesses make with their Business Intelligence efforts.
1. Not involving all stakeholders When developing BI initiatives, companies will often forget to talk to all of the stakeholders who are involved in, or affected by, the initiative. You should take steps to consult with the parties and end users involved. Get to know their problems, desires, and what they plan to do with the data and information gained.
Once you know what the users need, you can look into developing and implementing the tools that will get the desired result. It is especially important to involve the people who will be implementing BI tools as they may have insight into what is needed, or how existing systems will fit/work with the intended systems.
2. Unclear goals As with almost everything else in business, you need to have a set goal as to what you want to achieve with the project, tool, initiative you are implementing. If you don’t know what you want your BI to do, how it is to be presented or even why, you will likely run into problems that could lead to the wrong decisions being made, or even lost profits.
It would therefore be a good idea to sit down with the teams and stakeholders to see what they want, and set goals as a group. Then look for a solution that will meet these needs and goals.
3. Using the wrong tools Just because other companies have implemented BI, or a specific tool, and have had success, doesn’t mean you will. Some companies have done excellent work getting buy-in from all teams and user needs and goals are clearly defined, but when they start looking for tools, settle for something that is merely good enough.
This will hurt them because the tool may be missing key features that parties want. Also, like everything else in business, BI will change over time and if your company’s goals change and the tools can’t keep up with it or support it, you could be looking at costly changes, or inefficient decision making support.
4. Team members lack skills Technology is always changing and companies are always implementing new systems. Because BI is tool based, you will have to add new technology, and guaranteed the users won’t know all of the ins and outs. Therefore, they will need to be trained on how to use them.
If the users don’t know how to use the tools, data could be collected inefficiently, the wrong data may be collected and analyzed or the wrong outputs could be produced. What this means is ultimately lost profits for you.
These are the common mistakes made by business in regards to their BI. If you are looking for a solution that will help ensure that you avoid these mistakes and get the data and answers you need, contact us today to see if we have the right one for you.
Cloud based storage and productivity solutions are among the more popular cloud-based services. Google’s offering – Google Drive – has been gaining popularity with businesses around the globe. While Drive does have built in word processor, spreadsheet and presentation apps, many are unsure as to whether there is a file size limit for these.
With Google Drive, it’s important to firstly qualify that any limitations relate to individual files. Google actually allows users to have an unlimited amount of Google files (documents, spreadsheets, drawings and presentations), but limits the file size of each.
Presentations If you create a presentation using Google Slides, each file can be a maximum of 50MB. This equates to roughly 200 slides with an average amount of content. Uploaded files, like those created using PowerPoint, that have been converted to a Google Presentation, can also be a maximum of 50MB.
Drawings There is a file size limit but Google has noted that they have never seen a drawing actually reach it.
Documents For documents created using Google Docs you have a limit of 1,024,000 characters, regardless of the number of pages or font size. If you import a document, say a Word document, and convert it to a Google Doc, you have a file size limit of 2MB.
Spreadsheets Google Spreadsheets can have a maximum of 400,000 cells across the workbook and 256 columns per sheet. If you upload a spreadsheet created in programs like Excel and convert it to a Google Spreadsheet the file can be a maximum of 20MB, and under 400,000 cells and 256 columns per sheet.
Other files If you upload files, but don’t convert them into a Google Doc, Spreadsheet, Presentation, etc. you have a limit of 10GB per file. The only downside with this, is that you may not be able to open or edit the files from Google Drive.
Google gives every individual user 15GB of storage space while Business Apps and Education accounts get 30GB. This limit is shared across your Google account and includes Gmail, Google+ photos and Drive files. If you require more storage space, you can purchase more by going to the storage settings of your account, or talking to your account administrator.
Looking to learn more about Google Apps and how it can be used in your business? Please contact us today.
Internet browsers like Google’s Chrome are always changing and introducing new features and ideas. One of the more popular in recent memory is the tab. Tabs allow for different webpages to be open in one window, and have definitely made browsing easier. As with almost everything tech related, there is more than one way to use these tabs. Do you know how to optimize your use of Chrome’s tabs?
This article looks into how you can get more out of Google Chrome’s tabs.
Open a new tab There are three different ways you can open a new tab in Chrome. The first is by pressing the gray parallelogram with the curved edges above the URL bar. You can also open a new tab by hitting Ctrl + T on your keyboard (Command + T on Mac). Finally, if you right click on any tab, you can select New tab to open one beside the tab you just clicked on.
When you open a new tab and navigate to any website, you will notice that the website’s name is in the tab along with an icon. You can click on any tab to open it, and if you left-click and hold on a tab you will be able to drag it to a new location (move the mouse left or right) or pull the mouse down to open the tab in a new window.
Close a tab As with opening a tab, there is also a number of ways you can close tabs. The easiest thing to do is to look at the right-hand side of the tab you would like to close and hit the X. You can also right click on the tab and select Close tab. Finally, you can hit Ctrl + W (Command + W on the Mac).
Reopen closed tabs Did you know that you can reopen recently closed tabs by hitting Ctrl + Shift + T? You can also right-click on any tab and select Reopen closed tab. You can hit the Ctrl + Shift + T again to reopen the previously closed tabs in the reverse order in which you closed them (most recent first).
If you open a new tab, look at the bottom of the new tab screen (it has a bunch of Google icons in the middle) and click on Recently closed to see a list of tabs that have been closed. You can click on any of the site names to reopen the tab.
Choose what to do with tabs when Chrome starts By default, when you close Chrome all of your tabs will also be closed. This means that when you open it again, you will see the blank tab or home page you have chosen. If you would like to change what happens to your tabs when you close and open Chrome, i.e., make it so your tabs from the previous browsing session open the next time you open Chrome, you can:
If you select Open a specific page you will be able to set a page or pages you want opened when you open Chrome. Continue where I left off will save your tabs and reopen then when you next open Chrome. Open the New Tab Page on the other hand will open a blank tab with icons for various Google apps in the middle. Clicking on one, e.g. Drive, will open the app.
Looking to learn more about using Chrome in the office? Contact us today to see how we can help.