Tip of the Week: How to Save Your Favorite Lock Screen Image to Your Windows 10 PC

Have you ever been taken aback by a stunning photo that appears when you lock your Windows 10 PC? While it’s nice to look at, you might notice that this photo changes every now and then. Have you ever seen an image so wonderful that you’ve wanted to download it and make it your desktop image? Well, with this week’s tip, you certainly can!

You may remember how in previous versions of Windows, the lock screen images were stored locally and pulled from a folder on your PC. However, Windows 10 operates a bit differently. It pulls its lock screen images through a feature called Windows Spotlight. This makes finding the files and downloading them rather difficult, but not impossible.

First, you need to open Windows Explorer and click on the View tab. You can find this to the right of Computer. Make sure that you check both the File name extensions and Hidden items boxes.

Next, you need to copy and paste the file directory we’ve provided into the Windows Explorer file path:
C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.ContentDeliveryManager_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalState\Assets

Notice the “username” in the above link? Make sure that you replace it with whatever your username is and hit Enter. This will bring up a window that filled with files. These files are the pictures that you’ve been seeing thanks to Windows Spotlight.

If you want to put these photos at the top of the list, select the Size tab.

The next step is to make a folder on your hard drive where you will be storing these images. For example, you could place it on your desktop or in Pictures. Once you’ve done this, open the new folder.

It’s now time to move all of these photos to the new folder. This lets you view them at your leisure. Select the files that are larger than 100KB, which you can easily do by selecting the file at the top of the list. You can then hold the Shift key and scroll down to the first file that is greater than 100KB. Once these 30+ files have been selected, you just copy the files with Ctrl+C, and paste them into the new folder using Ctrl+P.

Be aware that this move will bring up a prompt by Windows Security.

Don’t worry–it’s safe to click OK. These files won’t harm your computer at all; in fact, they’re already on it!
Now that your files have been copied to the new folder, just rename each one and add a file extension to them so you can view them. To do this, right-click the file and select Rename.

You can rename the file something simple like 1.PNG. Hit Enter and you’ll see the file’s icon change to a photo. If you’d like, you can click View > Large icons, which makes renaming the files much more manageable.

Now that the file format has been changed, double-click the file and open it to show the image. You can then name the file as you see fit. Since the file is saved on your PC, you can access this folder on a whim.

For more PC tips and tricks, subscribe to KiteTech’s blog.

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What’s the Government Doing to Protect Your Tax Returns?

During last year’s tax season for the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was breached and hackers used 464,000 stolen Social Security numbers to successfully E-file 101,000 fraudulent tax returns using false PINs. This incident should cause taxpayers to ask the question, “What’s the government doing to protect my tax returns?”

As reported by the IRS, the organization has made significant improvements over the past year in order to protect the identities of taxpayers from fraudulent returns “before, during, and after a tax return is filed.” From a November statement on irs.gov: “This is highlighted by the number of new people reporting stolen identities on federal tax returns falling by more than 50 percent, with nearly 275,000 fewer victims compared to a year ago.”

One new tool the IRS credits to dramatically combating identity theft is an annual Security Summit. This was a way for the IRS to begin identifying and implementing changes. According to the IRS, successful efforts of the summit have lead to:

  • Identity theft affidavits falling sharply: A decrease of 50 percent during the first nine months of 2016 compared to 2015.
  • More fraudulent returns stopped before processing: This factor also dropped by nearly 50 percent. From January through September of 2016, the IRS stopped 787,000 confirmed identity theft returns, totalling more than $4 billion.
  • A decrease in fraudulent refunds: Thanks to the number of bank partners increasing by 106 institutions since 2015, the number of suspect refunds stopped by banks and returned to the IRS dropped by more than 50 percent.
  • Shared information stopping more bad returns: This can be attributed to information provided by industry and state partners in order to improve IRS fraud filters, 57,000 bad tax returns were stopped that would have otherwise bypassed IRS processing filters.
  • Shared data elements helping to identify new areas: Adding new data elements on tax returns helped the IRS stop over 74,000 suspicious returns, preventing $372 million in fraudulent refunds from being paid.

While these improvements are indeed significant, any concerned taxpayer will take away from all of this that, though improved, the IRS still isn’t batting 1,000 when it comes to protecting citizens against identity theft. Therefore, continuing to be mindful of best security practices when it comes to handling sensitive data for all aspects of your business is still highly recommended.

To help businesses out, the IRS has prepared a list of critical steps you can take to protect yourself and your clients from identity theft:

  • Assure that taxpayer data, including data left on hardware and media, is never left unsecured.
  • Securely dispose of taxpayer information.
  • Require strong passwords (numbers, symbols, upper & lowercase) on all computers and tax software programs.
  • Require periodic password changes every 60-to-90 days.
  • Store taxpayer data in secure systems and encrypt information when transmitting across networks.
  • Ensure that email being sent or received, that contains taxpayer data, is encrypted and secure.
  • Make sure paper documents, computer disks, flash drives and other media are kept in a secure location and restrict access to authorized users only.
  • Use caution when allowing or granting remote access to internal networks containing sensitive data.
  • Terminate access to taxpayer information for anyone who is no longer employed by your business.
  • Create security requirements for your entire staff regarding computer information systems, paper records, and use of taxpayer data.
  • Provide periodic training to update staff members on any changes and ensure compliance.
  • Protect your facilities from unauthorized access and potential dangers.
  • Create a plan on required steps to notify clients should you be the victim of any data breach or theft.

When it comes to implementing many of these best practices and securing your network to protect against identity theft, KiteTech is here to help. Call us today at 410-356-3113 for your IT security assessment. Keep in mind that, while death and taxes are both guaranteed, identity theft can be prevented by taking the right precautions.

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A Crash Course in How Web Servers Work

While many, many people use the Internet daily, for work, leisure, and communication, very few of them actually know how their devices are able to access the Internet in the first place. How does information from miles away make its way to your device? The answer is something called a web server. Let’s take a moment and examine how they do it.

Using the Internet seems simple enough: after typing in the URL (or uniform resource locator), your web browser displays the associated page–but how does this really work?
Well, let’s examine how you got to this article. Let’s assume, for a moment, that you are doing so on a workstation. When you saw the link to this blog and clicked it, your browser took the associated URL and analyzed its three parts.

The HyperText Transfer Protocol, or the part of the URL that says “http,” is how your machine reaches out to the web server that holds this website’s data. The middle part of the address, starting with “www” and ending with “.com,” is the server name that represents that particular IP (Internet Protocol) address. The rest of the URL is made up of a particular page’s filename, to inform the website what content needs to be viewed specifically.

Once this website’s host server received the request from the HTTP, it returned the HTML text for this requested page. Your browser then took that HTML text and converted it back into a viewable webpage, allowing you to read and understand these words.

Web servers are also responsible for managing the stored credentials that are allowed to access password-protected pages. Any time you’ve had to log into a website, you’ve essentially had to prove yourself to the web server before you were allowed access.

Of course, this is all assuming that the website is static, which is a technical way of saying that the site is only changed if the creator goes in and manually changes it. Dynamic pages, or ones that change based on input (for an example, think about Google’s results pages) operate on a different level, usually using things like CGI scripts… but that’s for another time.

If you have any other questions about the technology behind your business, or perhaps need some help with your solutions, reach out to us at Kite Technology Group.

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Tip of the Week: 7 Ways to Get Your Team to Collaborate More

Workplace collaboration is a great way to improve employee productivity, especially when you make it known that you both expect and encourage this type of behavior. Your business benefits when employees work together on a common goal, such as working on a project or creating a new product for consumers. There are countless ways that workplace collaboration is great for your organization, and in many ways, the latest technologies can be of great help.

Increased Efficiency

As a wise man once said, two heads are better than one. When you have multiple people working toward a certain goal, you’ll move forward at unparalleled speed. This helps you finish projects more quickly and achieve a greater return-on-investment.

 

Greater Engagement Between Employees

When your employees work together, they become more engaged with their work. Even if they’re not in the office, through the use of remote technology, even employees who don’t make the daily commute can still work together with your in-house team. For example, an employee with both VoIP telephone and other video conferencing software can easily meet with your in-house team on demand.

In fact, greater engagement for your in-house team can benefit your employees by building camaraderie and using each other’s successes as stepping stones toward improving their performances.

 

Initiating New Employees

When you onboard a new employee, one of the best ways that they can learn how to do their job is to work with an experienced coworker who can show them the ropes. Another way to do this is by just throwing them into the fire, forcing them to think about how they are going to solve problems. With the right collaboration solutions in place, you can encourage the employee to do a little bit of both, allowing them to try their hand at an issue and ask for assistance when it’s needed.

These are only a few samples of how your company benefits from employee collaboration, but the real question is how you foster such a thought process in the first place. Here are a couple of options to get your business moving in the right direction.

 

Lead By Example

Employees expect that their direct supervisors adhere to the same protocol that they must follow. For example, if you recommend certain ways of cooperating with other employees, but you don’t necessarily follow the recommendations, they might see little value in doing so themselves. Therefore, by showing them first-hand how this type of collaboration benefits your business, they’ll be more likely to fall in line.

 

Know When to Step Aside

One of the most important parts of being a leader is understanding when it’s best to leave the job to your employees and trust them to accomplish their goals. Nothing good comes from micromanaging a project and forcing collaboration. This can often result in wasted time and reduced morale. You should be able to trust that your employees will be able to perform the jobs that you hired them to do.

 

Encourage Employees to Speak Up

Employees want their voices to be heard, so you should allow them to share their thoughts and opinions whenever possible. Create an outlet that they can use to share thoughts, where employees can suggest ways to improve the organization and its workflows. Taking the opportunity to work together and resolve common issues can bring the team closer together and create a better place to work for all those involved.

 

Demonstrate the Benefit of Collaboration to the Employee, Not Just the Company

Your workforce is made up of people that likely want to know what collaboration has to do with their role in the office. They want to know how they individually will benefit from collaboration. Instead of showing how the company benefits from collaboration, explain how the users themselves will benefit from it, both personally and professionally.

How do you optimize workplace collaboration? Let us know in the comments.

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These Technologies Prepare Kids for a Bright Future in Robotics and Coding

Teaching children a skill can be a difficult job if they’re not having any fun. Therefore, turning kids on to lucrative careers in technology can be challenging, especially since tasks like coding can seem rather dull compared to say, fighting fires and driving race cars. This is why educational apps and tools have been created to make learning about technology fun!

If you’ve got some kids in your life that you feel may have a knack for technology, then try introducing them to the following educational tools. Hey, seeing as you could have the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg on your hands, it’s worth a shot.

Littlebits

What young child has never dreamed of building their own working robot? While many activity kits can do just this, Littlebits offers a variety of kits that allow kids to create many assorted devices, including: security devices for their bedroom, Internet-connected devices for their home (with their Cloudbit device), or any of the assorted projects on their website with other components. Able to also integrate with other playthings, Littlebits allows a child to see the qualities of technology as their world seems to come to life, thanks to them – instilling a deep appreciation for technology at an early age.

Arduino/Genuino

For a more advanced option, better suited for those future tech gurus who may be a little older, Arduino makes for a great educational tool for young minds. Arduino, its sister brand Genuino, or others like them, can offer a solid introduction to electronic work and programming with their open-source electronics platform. Kids can create and program systems to light LEDs, start motors, or other mechanical functions. Arduino may also serve as an introductory system before one graduates to utilizing a Raspberry Pi to program their creations.
For those who are a little more hands-on, there are projects available on other websites, such as those developed and run by Make Magazine. Make: allows kids to design IoT projects (such as a working electric piano made out of fruit, or a homemade version of the game Operation) and share them online with other kids for them to make.

Minecraft Education Edition

Most parents have probably, at least once, asked their child to do their homework instead of playing Minecraft. Well, now with the Education Edition of Minecraft, young minds can learn about programming and other subjects with one of the most popular video games of all time. With various lessons like creating boolean logic gates to urban planning. In fact, many schools are starting to use Minecraft to leverage various lessons and social development.

That said, this is a little different than the version of Minecraft your kids are playing, but the shift from game to education tool might keep them engaged and interested in diving in deeper.

You never know what a kid is capable of until you give them the tools they need to succeed. Can you think of any other ways to get kids into technology? Let us know in the comments.

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