The Personal Assistant I Didn’t know I Needed

I’m fortunate enough to have not one, but two personal assistants.  Alexa, my first assistant, is fantastic.  She’s my personal DJ.  She tells me the weather.  She even adjusts the thermostat in my house.  Google, my second assistant, is also fantastic.  He’s my navigator.  He knows all the traffic spots to avoid.  He even gets people on the phone for me.  But recently, I was introduced to a third personal assistant that I didn’t even know I needed:  Cortana 

Cortana is Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) built into Windows 10.  A late comer to an already crowded space, Cortana often gets overlooked because of her lack of integration into other ecosystems, such as Amazon and mobile devices.  But Cortana has two very strong points in her favor: 

 

  1. She is deeply integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem 
  2. She has a monitor to show me things 

As a working professional, I rely heavily on Microsoft’s services.  My corporate data is stored in Office 365.  I use Outlook to check my email.  My computers are Windows 10.  And because Cortana is built in, she can help me manage it all. 

“Hey Cortana, what’s on my calendar?” 

Because Cortana *is* Windows 10, she uses the built-in Calendar app to retrieve this information, which takes a little setup at first.  She can read this information out to me, but she can also display it on the screen. 

“Hey Cortana, launch Outlook” 

Yes, I could’ve reached for the mouse and done this myself, but this way is much cooler AND I didn’t have to put my coffee down! 

“Hey Cortana, what time is my flight?” 

When I booked my flight, the airline sent me a confirmation via email.  Cortana is able to locate and provide me this flight information, even though I didn’t put it on my calendar. 

“Hey Cortana, how long will it take to get to BWI airport?” 

Sure, I could’ve asked Google.  But my phone is in the other room.  Cortana can provide that information immediately, and I can get back to work. 

Some of the best things, she does without me needing to ask.  Yesterday, I emailed a client promising to send them a report in the morning.  This morning, Cortana popped up to make sure I remembered to send that report.  If I have an appointment out of the office, she lets me know when it’s time to leave. 

Alexa’s and Google’s jobs are safe.  What they do to enrich my life cannot be replaced.  But when it comes to staying focused and getting work done, Cortana is my right hand! 

 

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Tip of the Week: Which Headphones are Right for Your Needs?

If your office is hectic, a pair of headphones is practically a necessity in order to get anything done. If they are wireless, all the better. When picking your own set of wireless headphones, you’ll want to keep a couple of factors in mind. Here are some of them for your consideration.

Specifications
First, you should ask if the headphones in question will be able to serve your express needs. You’ll have to do a little bit of research into the specifications of each of the potential models you plan on looking at, as well as reviews whenever possible to see what the masses think about them.

The first factor you want to look at is the sound quality. Will you be using this headset to talk on the phone? In this case, the quality of the microphone and sound quality is going to be particularly important. Bluetooth headphones are often limited in their sound quality, but they are still perfectly usable for talking on the phone. If you absolutely have to use one of these devices, you should make sure that it’s a headset designed specifically for this purpose. The headsets that are primarily used for listening to music tend to fall short of expectations when considering phone calls.

Next, think about how your headphones might restrict flexibility in the office. If you’re using a headset that has a dongle plugged into your workstation, you might be limited by the distance your headset can travel from the source of the call. Some headphones will also have battery life variables that will need to be considered, and you can’t have your headset powering down in the middle of an important call.

Lastly, you’ll need to determine just how comfortable each pair of headphones is. You don’t want to be uncomfortable while being productive, especially since this could put your productivity in jeopardy. In order to get the most out of your headphones, make sure that they don’t hurt your head.

Other Concerns
There are other questions that you’ll want to ask about your headphones, but they will be based on factors within your office. These include how the headphones are used and inter-office noise. If your office doesn’t have a lot of noise, you won’t need noise-cancelling headphones, but otherwise they might be a worthy investment. To this end, over-the-ear headphones will prove to be quite valuable, but it’s best to err on the side of comfort for the sake of your productivity.

 

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How to Identify If an Email is a Security Risk

There’s one major reason why email is the preferred method of spreading threats like ransomware and other types of malicious software. The sheer number of messages that can be sent through email on its own increases the odds that a user will click on the wrong link or download the wrong attachment. How can you know the legitimacy of any message you receive in your email inbox?

It all starts by being aware of the issue at hand and staying vigilant of any potential threats. You should actively look for reasons not to click on links in suspicious emails. You can never be too careful, especially when there is so much on the line. Here are three warning signs that you can look for to avoid a malware attack via email.

Spelling and Grammar Errors
Nobody has perfect spelling and grammar, and it’s forgivable if they make a mistake here or there, but when an email is filled with errors that make it hard to believe its authenticity, perhaps you’re staring a red flag in the face. Professional messages will at least contain passable grammar that makes them easy to understand, but a malicious message might be filled with all sorts of nonsense that urges you to click on a link or download an attachment. Sometimes you might encounter a phishing email that’s very discreet, but this is more of an exception than the norm.

Links Leading to Suspicious or Unfamiliar Targets
Let’s say that you receive a message from your bank. When you hover over a link in the message, it shows that the link doesn’t lead to any site you’re familiar with. This is a clear indicator that you might be looking at a very well-orchestrated phishing scam. Before clicking on any link, just hover your cursor over it without clicking on it. In a bar at the bottom of your browser, you’ll see the target of the link. If it looks suspicious, you can easily disregard it or report it to IT.

Messages from Unknown Senders
Who did you receive the message from? If you know who sent the message, then perhaps the message is legitimate. However, it’s easy for hackers to spoof an email address and make it appear that someone else is sending a message. Remember, suspicion is better than falling into a trap. In a worst-case scenario, even a CEO or upper-level employee could have their account spoofed in a phishing or whaling scheme. If you suspect that this has happened, notify your IT department immediately so that measures can be taken against these efforts.

Thankfully, with a little bit of thought and caution, you can avoid most fraudulent emails, but it would be nicer if you didn’t have to worry about seeing these messages in the first place. An enterprise-level spam filter can keep fraudulent and spam messages at bay. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

 

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Making the Switch from Apple to Android? Be Prepared!

With so many options that don’t cost $800, the Android mobile OS gains more customers every day. If you were a dedicated iPhone user that is looking to switch to Android, you have to be cognizant of the things you will need to ensure that you are able to transfer the information you need, and be able to seamlessly pick up your new device without missing a beat. Here are some issues you should consider:

Applications
Apps are a big part of mobile computing; and, are surely important to you. Fortunately for the new Android user, they feature two of the largest app stores going. Both Google Play and the Amazon App Store feature thousands of useful Android applications, many of which are virtually the same as the app found on the Apple App Store. You will want to go through your phone and make a list of the apps you use the most and make certain that when you do switch, that the app is available for Android phones.

This may even give you the chance to consolidate the apps you use on your device. Since you will have to purchase all your paid apps that you want on a different platform, it becomes important that you have a strategy in mind when you switch as to not put too much financial pressure on yourself.

The Deactivation of iMessage
Once you’ve got your phone set up and your apps installed, you have to ensure that your messaging is on point. Since Apple’s iMessage utilizes a Wi-Fi connection (which isn’t the case with Android), you will not be able to receive texts from iPhones until iMessage is completely deactivated. Fortunately, Apple provides a tutorial(https://selfsolve.apple.com/deregister-imessage/) on how to accomplish this. Once this is finished you should be fine to get SMS from people with iPhones.

Transfer Your Information
Transferring your data from one platform to another isn’t very easy, but users going from iOS to Android can make it simpler by using Google Drive. Here are the steps you have to take:

Install and sign into Google Drive on your Apple device.
Go to Menu > Settings > Backup and save all the data you need from the Apple device to Google Drive.
You can then back up everything by clicking Start Backup. It will give you options on what you want to take and what you don’t mind leaving behind.

It seems simple, but this is an extraordinarily lengthy process, so keep the iPhone plugged in, and Wi-Fi on. Once you have your new Android device, all you have to do is sign in to Google Drive and you’ll have all the information you need. Simply download it and you are ready to roll.

 

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Tech Term: Virtualization, Defined

Virtualization is a topic that a lot of people might hear about frequently, but not necessarily understand. It has a lot of details to keep in mind, but the concepts can be remembered easier by simplifying these details. We’ll take a closer look at some of the finer details of virtualization and what it means for your business’ infrastructure.

Defining Virtualization
Virtualization is the replication of a physical resource on your infrastructure (like a server, desktop, operating system, or storage solution) and its placement into a cloud-based infrastructure where it can be deployed in a scalable manner. By using a type of technology called a hypervisor software, a physical resource called the host can be divided into virtual machines called guests.

The guests draw on the resources provided by the host as they’re required, which gives them more functionality than any single piece of hardware can offer. Virtualization is the best way to get the most out of your technology, and it can even decrease the capital you spend on your business in the long run.

The Types of Virtualization
There are many different types of virtualization, and all of them have their own uses in a business setting:

Data virtualization: This type of virtualization allows your business to collect information and place it in one location where it can be dispersed.
Operating system virtualization: You can host multiple operating systems on a server.
Desktop virtualization: You can replicate desktops to open them as needed.
Server virtualization: One server can act as multiple servers through the use of virtualization.
Network virtualization: You can use virtualization to transform one network into multiple isolated networks.

Does your business need to better understand and implement virtualization? Kite Technology can help. To learn more, reach out to us at P855-290-KITE.

 

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