7 Tech Mistakes Every Growing Business Should Avoid

The biggest 7 mistakes you could be making and how to avoid them with our handy checklist.

We count down some all-too-common tech mistakes – the kind that can damage a growing business, and even stunt its growth for good.

Buying tech for your business is pretty exciting. It’s a chance to drive faster growth and innovation. To do more, in cooler, smarter ways.

That said, it’s also absolutely terrifying. There’s the purchase cost, the hassle of implementation, the new security concerns – and the knowledge that if you make one big mistake, it could have a devastating effect on your bottom line.

So, be forewarned and forearmed.

Here are 7 tech mistakes too many growing businesses make…

1. Buying everything up front.

Getting a new server installed in your office feels good. You get a shiny new toy, a pleasant whirring noise in the background, and a number-crunching powerhouse. But, you also get a huge upfront invoice. And if your needs change, a huge paperweight. Oh, and by the way, you also have to pay to maintain it.

A better, more flexible alternative is to swap those big, one-off tech outlays for Cloud and as-a-Service solutions. That way, when change happens, it’s just a case of reducing, or – hopefully – expanding your existing contract. As an added bonus, you’re also reducing your upfront spend and moving it to an operating expense.

2. Not taking security seriously.

These days, every business is a potential target. So, make sure your firewalls are in place, your antivirus is up to date, your data and files are in a secure location and you’ve the power to shut down compromised devices at any time.

A security breach could bring your business to a halt, stunting your growth And even more damaging, if customer data is compromised, it could irreparably harm the relationships and reputation you’re working so hard to build.

When talking IT in the cloud, there’s a common misperception that it’s not secure because you can’t physically see where your data being stored. Don’t be fooled. One of the biggest benefits of cloud IT is that companies (think Google and Microsoft) can use world-class security experts (the kind only companies like this can hire) to protect their apps and servers.

3. Not keeping backups.

A burglary, a fire, a computer crash… any one of these is a headache for your business – but if you lose data that’s not backed up, it’s a potential catastrophe.

Whatever your size, it pays to pay attention to disaster recovery. Work out an efficient way of backing up your critical data before you need it. Better yet, consider cloud storage to make your data available on any device and ensure it will still be there if a disaster happens. Servers usually don’t survive floods or fires.

4. Not planning for the future.

Your set of Excel spreadsheets might seem like a fine way of tracking customers now, but what about in a year’s time when your customer base soars?

For the smaller business, not thinking about scalability is a big mistake. Whether it’s your business voice service, productivity apps, customer relationship management tools, wireless plans – whatever – you need to know your tech will grow with you, simply, quickly and without harsh penalties or capital investment.

5. Not doing your research.

There’s speed, and there’s carelessness. However agile your business aspires to be, research is a crucial stage in any tech investment.

Spend a little time analyzing exactly what you need, and exactly what each competing product or service will deliver – you’ll almost certainly save yourself a lot more time (and money) somewhere further down the line.

6. Not upgrading when you should.

When budgets are tight, tech upgrades can be the first casualty. Witness the number of businesses still on Windows XP – which retained an 11% market share in 2015, despite Microsoft dropping support for the operating system a year before, leaving it unpatched and vulnerable to new security threats.

Upgrading your tech may be a hassle, but it’s a whole lot easier than dealing with the fallout of a security breach. And that’s just one example. Eking more life out of any aging software and infrastructure than it’s designed for is a fast track to inefficiency and cost.

7. Trying to go it alone.

As you try to deliver the tech your growing business needs, it’s easy to grow a whole new department – which needs to be housed, equipped and paid.

But today – thanks to the cloud and managed services – there’s another option. You can outsource some or all of your tech burden to an expert partner, helping you keep your own business lean, even as its revenues swell.

How to avoid the mistakes – a handy recap…

1. Think Cloud and as-a-Service.

2. Take security seriously.

3. Backup. Backup. Backup.

4. Plan to scale.

5. Don’t skimp on the research.

6. Upgrade when you should.

7. Ask for help.

That’s it.

Watch out for these mistakes, and equipping your business with the tech it needs should at least be a little less scary – but no less exciting.

Choosing, and implementing the right tools for your environment can take a lot of research and time. We are here to offer our expertise, so that you can focus your time and energy on your business!

If you are in the market for a managed service provider that specializes in cyber security – CALL US!  We can assess your IT environment, identify areas that can be improved and implement inexpensive, effective cyber security measures to keep you safe.

Email us at or give us a call at 732.780.8615 to get more information, or to schedule an appointment with one of our trained professionals.

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MS Word hacks: 6 ways to supercharge this everyday tool

Most teachers remain unaware of the true power of Microsoft Word. Grainne Hallahan offers up six ways to improve your document-creating skills.

From spaghetti measuring holes on pasta scoops, to rotating the ring pull round on a can of drink to hold your straw – there are loads of everyday items we fail to get the most out of because we’re unaware of their full functionality.

And just as it is true for the overlooked holes designed to rest spoons on saucepans, so is it also true for poor misunderstood Microsoft Word. The chances are that you’ve not realised the full genius of this humble computer program – but that’s about to change.

Here are my six top hacks:

1. Converting PDFs

If you have a PDF that you’d like to convert to a Word doc, then this trick is for you.

  • Choose the .pdf that you would like to convert from File Explorer
  • Once selected right lick > choose Open With > Word >
  • Word will present a popup: Choose OK

2. Avoid weird re-formatting

When you have a Word document that you want to continue working on, opening it up in different versions of Word when you move from different computers can result in the document reformatting and your text boxes moving all over the place. 

So often you’ll email a Word document with the caveat that it might look different on their version of Microsoft Office.

Get around this problem by using Google Docs and sending a link allowing them to either view, comment, or edit. Strictly speaking, Google Docs and Word are two different programs, but you can open all Word documents in Google Docs. 

3. Personalize autocorrect

Because I never, ever meant to write ‘ducking’ I changed my autocorrect settings to reflect my more colourful language. This is also super useful for more work-related reasons: MAD became Mother, any distance and g@ automatically fills in my whole email address. No doubt you’re already seeing the time-saving possibilities this could lead to.

Plugging in these text shortcuts can be done not just in Word, but in all your Microsoft Office applications too. Brilliant. 

To input them, go to File – Options – Proofing, and then select AutoCorrect Options.

Then you have a table with two columns, shortcut on one side, and the word you want to replace on the other.

4. Change from upper to lowercase (and back again)

Chunks of text in uppercase that you want to change to lowercase is often a problem when you’re trying to copy and paste text from other sources, but thankfully it can be easily fixed.

All you have to do is highlight the text, and hit shift and F3. Bish, bash, bosh.

5. Switch to PowerPoint and ditch Word

This is a bit of a weird Word/Powerpoint crossover suggestion – but it makes sense, trust me.

Anyone who has tried to input image boxes and text boxes into Word, and then quickly found their heart rate rising to dangerous levels and their fingers itching to lob the computer out of the window, will appreciate this hack.

My tip? Give up. Don’t even bother. And instead of making it in Word, use PowerPoint, and then print the single slide. It is so much easier to move the boxes around, and you won’t find all the text vanishing just because you resize the box by 2mm.

6. Use Word to make an analytical point 

If you have a long document, and you want to find a specific part of that document, instead of scanning through it, make use of the ‘Find’ function with Ctrl+F.

Obvious? Maybe. But for teachers who are illustrating a point about a document – perhaps English teachers who are looking at the motif of “darkness” in Macbeth – you can copy and paste the entire script into Word, and then use the Find tool to show the students how frequently darkness (and it will find derivatives of it too) occur. Whenever I’ve showed this to a class they’ve always been left amazed by the simple wizardry of it. 

Hallahan, Grainne. “MS Word Hacks: 6 Ways to Supercharge this Everyday Tool” 2019 September

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks, Productivity

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Phishing Campaign Hides Malware in Resumes

For many people, applying for a new job is a soul-crushing activity on a par with cleaning the bathroom in a six-person student dorm room. 

Landing a new role can mean spending hours searching for positions, rewriting your résumé and cover letter countless times and using LinkedIn to badger people you haven’t spoken to for years into giving you a reference. 

Now cyber-criminals have given job seekers a fresh obstacle to contend with after targeting companies with a phishing campaign that hides malware in résumés sent as email attachments.

The advanced campaign, which uses multiple anti-analysis methods to deliver Quasar remote access tool (RAT), was uncovered by phishing defense service provider Cofense Intelligence. 

Quasar RAT by itself isn’t dodgy, but this legitimate open-source remote administration tool that can be found on GitHub has a history of being abused.

“This campaign is concerning as the US-CERT identifies the Quasar RAT as a favored tool of advanced persistent threat actors. This means that the most dedicated cyber-criminals are seeking to utilize this tool to exploit networks,” said Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at Mimecast.

From the outside the campaign appeared simple but a closer looked showed that the threat actors had done their homework. First, they used an easily accessible tool that makes attributing the campaign to a specific threat actor as easy as teaching a rhino the clarinet. 

Second, they laced the résumé attachment document being used to deliver Quasar RAT with a multitude of measures designed to deter detection, including password protection and encoded macros. 

Announcing its find, Cofense said that “educating employees on new phishing trends is the best way of countering a campaign such as this.”

Wearn added: “I would urge individuals, particularly those working within HR departments and used to receiving résumés or CVs, to be particularly vigilant for this form of attack. Organizations should ensure they have an up-to-date antivirus solution that can effectively resolve and detect this form of attack.”

Cobel, Sarah. “Phishing Campaign Hides Malware in Resumes” 2019 August

Because employees are the core of any business, they will be the main target for cyber-criminals. Making sure your people stay up-to-date with cyber-security knowledge, and teaching them to recognize threats is imperative to the security of your business. The threat landscape is constantly evolving and so should your approach to defense.

We offer security awareness training and phishing simulations to test employees on how they would respond to a real-life phishing attack. For the best measurement of all employees awareness, we send mock attacks at staggered times, to avoid the “prairie dog effect” where employees warn one another of the email.

Through these test campaigns we track and measure your employees strengths and weaknesses and once a learning gap is detected, we deliver interactive educational videos to the most susceptible users.

One of our most important roles as a technology service provider is to protect the assets of our clients. No matter how big or small your business is, a single compromised credential could put your entire business at risk. Give us a call to further discuss how we can help in protecting your business against cybersecurity threats and how we can make technology work for your business. Call us now at 732.780.8615

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The Best News Aggregators

Keeping up with current events can be tough. To get the latest news on your favorite topics, you’re probably watching the news, reading your favorite blogs, and scanning your social media channels.

But you can get it all in one place, without spending time individually visiting and scrolling through each website and service. That’s what news aggregator apps do. They compile news from a wide range of sources in one place for easy reading — and unlike reading the newspaper, a news aggregator customizes the selection of articles to your tastes.

Here are our top picks for the best news aggregator apps.

Best news aggregator: Google News

When you first open Google News, you’ll probably be surprised by how many articles show up that are relevant to you. That’s because Google automatically personalizes your feed based on your Google Search history and YouTube viewing history, bringing you the exact news you’re looking for without any setup. From there, all you have to do is read: Google News will continue to learn based on what you read.

The design focuses on text, with big headlines and small images. Instead of jumping from top story to top story, Google News gives you different perspectives on each topic, often with two to five stories on the same subject grouped together. That makes it a lot easier to get an in-depth look at the news from different perspectives. 

It’s also particularly good at finding local news. While most news aggregators will let you follow keywords for your hometown, they usually only dig up articles with the city’s name in the headline. That means they typically pick up stories about your hometown rather than stories from your home town. Google News, on the other hand, gives you a selection of stories from local newspapers and TV networks. Google News is the easiest way to catch up with what’s going on in your neighborhood.

Google News stands out as the best news aggregator for it’s ease of use, depth of content, especially local news, and the fact that it’s ad-free. 

Price: Free
Available on: AndroidiOSweb

Best visually driven news aggregator: Flipboard

Flipboard is a sleek news aggregator with an eye-catching magazine-style layout that focuses on the visuals. Each article in your virtual magazine shows a large image with a headline and source, and you flip through the articles by swiping — just like you’d turn the pages in a physical magazine.

Everything in Flipboard is arranged into smart magazines that you can customize to your liking. You can completely control what Flipboard shows you by giving it a specific list of publications you want to read, or you can give it an idea of your favorite topics and let it do out the rest. As you read, you can “Like” articles or indicate that you want to see “Less like this,” and Flipboard will gradually learn what you like and show you more of it.

Flipboard is completely free to use, and you can use it to access publications that require a subscription to read, like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and The New Yorker (just go to Following > Accounts). You just log in with your account. You can also access some of your social media accounts, including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. 

Price: Free
Available on: AndroidiOSWindowsweb

Best news aggregator for premium content: Apple News

If you use Apple products, there’s a good chance you use Apple News. This news aggregator is built into the latest versions of iOS and MacOS. It’s easy to get started: when you launch the app, you’ll be presented with a selection of news that’s been curated both by Apple editors and algorithms that tailor news to your tastes. As you read, you can Like or Dislike articles, publications, and topics to customize what you see, but the news you see is always a little random.

Though Apple News is free, it stands out for its huge selection of premium content. A $10/month subscription to Apple News+ gives you access to 300 publications that you won’t find included in any other news aggregator. The subscription includes big names like the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, People, the New Yorker, National Geographic, and a lot more. While Apple News+ is missing some big publications — the New York Times and the Washington Post are both notably absent — you won’t find as much content anywhere else. And, you can always add your existing subscriptions, if they’re missing from the News+ lineup. 

Another feature you aren’t likely to find in any other news aggregator is privacy. With Apple News, no information is sent to publishers, and advertisements can’t track you.

Price: Free, $10/month for access to more publications
Available on: Installed by default on iOS, MacOS

Best news aggregator for reading offline: SmartNews

Most news aggregators require an internet connection to read the headlines, which can be a problem if you want to read the news when you’re on the subway or on a plane. But SmartNews automatically saves every single story offline so you can read anywhere, anytime. The app will download the news specific times of day so you might set it to download in the morning before you leave for work and again in the afternoon before you head home. The schedule can also help you save bandwidth and battery life since you can download everything when you have a wi-fi connection and a power cable.

Beyond that, SmartNews works a lot like the other readers we’ve discussed. It uses AI to curate the top stories and hottest trends. Stories are organized by topic, with a row of tabs along the top of the app you can tap through to see the latest headlines on any subject. The app isn’t very customizable, though. You can add new tabs to follow publications you’re interested in, and there are tabs for local news (in some cities) — but for the most part, the app doesn’t tailor its content to specifically to you. You’ll find some personalized content in a small “for you” section under the day’s top stories, but that’s it. However, this could be a good thing, as it prevents you from getting stuck in a filter bubble where you are only see the news that shares your point of view.

Price: Free
Available on: AndroidiOS

Best news aggregator for manual control of what you read: Feedly

The news aggregator we’ve mentioned so far all focus on finding news for you, but Feedly focuses on following the blogs and publications that you specifically want to follow. While it can help you discover new stories, it focuses on picking up every story from sources you specify.

Feedly uses RSS feeds — a feature most blogs have, though you may have to search for it (here’s how) — to pull every story from a source and present it to you in a clean, uncluttered interface. You tell it exactly what you want to follow — including things like YouTube channels and Tweets — and arrange them by topics. Feedly will list each story in a neat row, with an image, a headline, and an opening paragraph. It’s a straightforward way to follow the headlines on all the sites you’re interested in, without having to check each site individually.

Feedly is free to use but requires a $5/month subscription for advanced features. Free users can access everything we’ve described above, but can only follow 100 publications — probably enough for most of us. Feedly Pro users get an ad-free experience and can follow as many publications as they’d like. Plus they can annotate articles, send them to Evernote or OneNote for reference, and get alerts for Google keywords. 

Price: Free, $5/month for access to advanced features
Available on: AndroidiOSweb

Best news aggregator for news hounds: Inoreader

Like most news aggregators, Inoreader will curate content for you based on your interests, plus it lets you follow specific sites by their RSS feed. Articles are arranged in a neat list of headlines with images, and a quick scroll is all you need to browse the latest news. And you’re just interested in reading through one topic, you can select that topic folder from your list of subscriptions. Click on any headline to see the article in full in Inoreader’s minimalist interface. The free version saves articles to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, OneNote and more, which makes it easy to store articles for later reference — a feature that requires a subscription in Feedly.

If you want to fine-tune your reading, Inoreader Pro costs $4/month. It adds notifications, and the ability to follow social media feeds and track search terms to catch news before it even hits your favorite blog. Best of all, there’s an offline mode. With offline mode, you can pick a specific folder and all articles in that folder will be saved offline so you can read even when you don’t have an internet connection. And though it isn’t available on the mobile version, if you use Inoreader on the web, subscribers can add filters and mutes to completely customize their reading experience.

The result is that Inoreader is perfect for giving you precisely the news you want without other distractions.

Price: Free, $4/month for premium features
Available on: AndroidiOSweb

Harper, Elizabeth. “The Best News Aggregators” 2019 May

Posted in: Business, Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to Create Microsoft Office, Google Docs Files From Dropbox

You can create Microsoft Office and Google Docs files directly from Dropbox; create, edit, and save documents all without having to switch to another app. Here’s how.

You create documents in Microsoft Office and Google Docs, then use Dropbox to back up and store these files online. Bouncing among all these different services to create, save, and share can be slow and clumsy, which is why Dropbox now offers a way to create Office and Google Docs files without leaving its site.

With the new integration, Dropbox users can directly create Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides files. Dropbox takes you to the right website for creating each type of file, and from there, you build, edit, and save the file in one seamless process. Let’s check it out.

Create a File From Dropbox

You’ll need a Microsoft Account if you want to use Office on the Web or a Google account if you want to use Google Docs and other Google apps. Go to the Dropbox website, and at the main screen, click Create new file. You can then select between Microsoft and Google file types.

Create a Word Document

If you select Microsoft Word from the drop-down menu, Dropbox hooks you into the free online version of Word where you can now create your document using all of Word’s tools, features, and commands.

Name the document by clicking on the default title at the top of the page and typing the new name. After you name your document, the file is automatically saved to Dropbox. Once you complete the document and want to close it, click the link at the top to Save and return to Dropbox.

Create an Excel Spreadsheet

Click Microsoft Excel, and Dropbox links you to the web-based edition of the program. Create your spreadsheet, and remember to give it a different name to automatically save it. Click the default title at the top of the page and devise a more descriptive name. When you’re finished, click the link to Save and return to Dropbox.

Create a PowerPoint Presentation

Create a presentation by selecting PowerPoint. Rename it by clicking the default title and writing the new name. Once the presentation is named, the document will automatically save. Click the link to Save and return to Dropbox when you’re done.

Move Documents in Dropbox

By default, a document is saved in the root folder of Dropbox. But you can easily move it to another folder one of two ways: Drag and drop the document into the folder where you want to store it, or click the ellipsis icon () next to the document, select Move, and then choose the destination folder. Click the Move button to finalize.

Create New Dropbox Folder

Let’s say you don’t have a folder in Dropbox to store your freshly created documents. Click the ellipsis icon () next to your new spreadsheet and select Move. At the Move window, click the link to Create new folder. Name the folder and click the Create button. At the “Move item to” window, select your new folder and click the Move button.

Open Document in Microsoft Office

Now you have some Microsoft Office documents stored in Dropbox. To open and edit one of them in the web version of the corresponding Office app, select the file in Dropbox you want to edit. Click the “Open With” button and then select Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, depending on the file type.

Automatically Open File Types

At this point, a message may pop up asking if you want to associate this type of file with its Office app. This means that any Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file you launch in Dropbox will automatically open with its corresponding Office app.

To do this, click the button for Yes, set as default. Otherwise, click the Not now button. Make any needed changes or edits in the file you opened and then click Save and return to Dropbox to close it.

Create a Google Doc

If you choose one of Google’s apps you may need to sign in with your Google account to continue. At the Google Docs screen, create your document. To name the file, click the box for Untitled in the upper left and enter the new name for the document. When finished, close the tab for the spreadsheet to return to Dropbox.

Create a Google Sheets Spreadsheet

Select Google Sheets to create a spreadsheet with Google. Create and name your spreadsheet by clicking the default title in the top-left corner and writing in a new name. Your changes are then saved automatically. Simply close the spreadsheet tab when done.

Create a Google Slides Presentation

Create a new presentation by selecting Google Slides from the Dropbox menu. Make sure you rename the document by clicking the title in the top-left corner and typing in the new name. The document will then save. When you’re done, close the tab to return to Dropbox.

Saving Google Files

Any Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides files will automatically save to Dropbox. When you’re finished with it, you can simply close the tab for your document to return to Dropbox, where you’ll see your new file being stored. Once files are saved to Dropbox, they can be opened again in their respective programs at any time.

Set Default Apps

Finally, you can control which apps open which files. To do this, click your profile icon at the Dropbox screen and select Settings > Connected apps. Scroll down the screen to the section for Default editing apps. Click the Open with drop-down field next to each of the three Microsoft Office apps. You can now set the default editor to Dropbox, Microsoft Office, or Google Docs.

Whitney, Lance. “How to Create Microsoft Office, Google Docs Files from Dropbox” August 2019

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Google Keep Notes: 10 tips and tricks to become a master

Unlock it’s full potential.

Google Keep Notes might be the most underrated of Google’s services. It’s more than just a place to jot down your thoughts—it’s also the missing link to bring Docs, Calendar, Photos, and the rest of Google’s services together. Here are 10 tips and tricks to unlock the full potential of Google Keep Notes:

Take a voice memo

While most people use Google Keep Notes to type quick notes to themselves, you can actually get your thoughts down even quicker by using your voice. In the bottom menu on the main screen, you can tap the microphone icon to speak your note to Google Keep. It’ll both record and transcribe everything you say, so even if Google’s dictation engine misses a word, you’ll still have a record of it.

google keep notes audio
You can dictate your notes to Google Keep.

Transcribe text from a photo

Audio isn’t the only thing Google Keep Notes can transcribe. If you import a photo with words on it, Keep Notes can grab that text. Tap the photo to open it, and then tap the three-dot menu in the top right corner and select Grab image text. Go back to your note and you’ll see the words that were in the pic pasted below it, in the proper order, capitalized appropriately, and ready to edit.

Draw on (or off) your photos

Transcribing text isn’t the only thing you can do to a photo in Google Keep Notes. You can also highlight, color, and draw on them to your heart’s content. Just import or snap a pic and select the paintbrush icon to be taken to the mark-up screen. There you can select your pen style and annotate the image without affecting the original file. And if you just want to doodle on a note, you can do that too, by choosing the paintbrush icon in the main menu.

google keep notes draw
Scribble, doodle, and mark up notes with ease in Google Keep Notes.

Sync with Google Docs on your PC

If you’ve ever emailed yourself the text of a note just so you can use it in a document or a presentation, this will save you some time: Google Keep Notes is fully integrated into Google’s office suite. And it couldn’t be easier to get them in sync. When you have a file open in Docs or Slides, just tap the Keep logo in the sidebar at the right to see a list of your saved notes. Tap one to open it, and you can copy, cut, or edit anything that’s inside. Of course, any changes you make will be synced back to Keep Notes on your phone. And if you simply want to create a Google document out of a note, just long-press on a note and select Copy to Google Docs.

Collaborate with a friend or colleague

Most of your Google Keep notes will probably be for your eyes only, but it’s also easy to invite someone else to collaborate. First you’ll need to turn on sharing inside the Settings in the sidebar. Just tap the three-dot menu at the bottom of the screen when you’re in a note and select Collaborator. From there you’ll be able to select anyone from your address book to link your note with their Google Keep app. Whenever it’s edited, you’ll be notified (and vice versa).

google keep notes colaborate
You can invite a collaborator into any of your notes, as long as you enable sharing in the settings.

Get the Chrome extension

While any browser will let you log into Google Keep Notes to get work done, only the Chrome extension will let you use it like a digital locker. Download it from the Chrome Web Store, and it will put a small Keep icon next to your address bar that provides a direct link to your account. While you’re browsing or working in Chrome you’ll be able to save URLs, photos, and text, and of course take notes.

Organize your notes with labels, colors, and pins

If you take a lot of notes, your Google Keep home screen can quickly get as cluttered as your inbox. But just like Gmail, you can easily organize it. If you long-press on a note, you’ll bring up a series of options to help you find it later, including the ability to color-code it, pin it to the top of the list, or apply a custom label. 

google keep notes labels
Color-coding and labels will help keep your notes organized.

Set a time or location reminder for a note

Google has a dedicated reminders app called Tasks, but if you don’t want another app on your phone, you can set alerts for your notes so they act like reminders. Just tap the bell icon when you’re in a note and you’ll be able to set a reminder for a specific date and time, or a location, like if you want to remember to pick up milk at the grocery store.

Recover a deleted note

OK, this isn’t exactly a hidden feature, but you might not have noticed it before. If you accidentally delete a note—or just realize you needed something in it—you can still recover it from the trash within seven days of deletion. Or, if you’re unsure whether you’ll need a note later but still want to get it off the home screen, you can just use the Archive feature instead of delete. That will remove the notes from your library and store it in the Archive folder, which is accessible in the sidebar.

google keep notes trash
You don’t have to use the trash, but if you do, Google Keep Notes gives you seven days to change your mind.

Create a note out of an email

If you want to create a note out of an email, you can either copy the text and paste it into a new note, or use the handy shortcut in Gmail on the web. Here’s how to do it: After you open an email, click the Keep Notes icon in the sidebar to the right. Then click the Take a Note button, and your email will appear as an attachment inside your new note. Give it a name, select Done when you’re finished, and you’ll be able to jump right to your email with a tap.

Simon, Michael. “Google Keep Notes: 10 tips and tricks to become a master” 2019 July

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Productivity, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How To Charge Your Phone Faster

We’ve all been there: You hail an Uber, only to notice you’re at 2 percent battery power. You applaud yourself for remembering to bring your charger but then realize you’ll be lucky to reach 3 percent before you have to unplug your phone and leave.

If your phone is a newer model and you don’t use it much, it may last the day anyway, but features such as voice navigation and video streaming will put a major dent in your battery life. If you’re nowhere near the end of your day, being left with a dead phone or having to wait while you charge up can be a drag.

Enter rapid chargers, which can charge a drained phone battery at least twice as fast as standard chargers.

Battery basics

Batteries work by holding a charge of electricity to power the phone. In theory, the larger the battery, the longer it should last, but battery life is strongly influenced by the power requirements of the phone. Bigger screens, for example, use more power.

A battery’s capacity, measured in milliampere-hours (mAh), indicates how much charge it can hold. The term amps refers to how much charge (or current) a charger can deliver, while voltage refers to how quickly it can be delivered. The device’s overall power — how quickly and how much charge is delivered — is measured in watts.

Standard chargers that come with iPhones and older Android phones carry 1 amp of current and put out 5 watts of power. New rapid chargers with technology such as Quick Charge support 2 amps and 12 watts or more, potentially charging your phone up to four times faster.

How Quick Charge works

Android phones such as the LG G8 and HTC U12+ that support Quick Charge 3.0 technology can be charged to 80 percent in 35 minutes. (Quick Charge 4+,  which will enable five hours of battery life from five minutes of charging, will be rolling out to devices this year.) Samsung says its fast-charging wall charger with Quick Charge 2.0 tech can deliver five hours of battery life in 10 minutes — still impressive, and a godsend on a night out or long day.

Quick Charge 3.0’s optimization feature charges your phone very quickly when the battery is close to empty and then slows down when it’s about half full. This helps prevent overheating the battery and damaging its long-term lifespan.

Find out if your phone supports Quick Charge, and check your manual to see what type of charger was included with your phone.

Fast charging without damage

Not every phone can support the full power of a rapid charger. For example, the iPhone 6 supports 1.6 amps and comes with a 1-amp charger. A 2.2-amp charger like the charger for your iPad will not charge your iPhone twice as fast; you’ll only charge as quickly as your phone can handle. Older iPhones that support only 1 amp can’t be charged faster at all.

To find out your phone’s amperage, search online for your model. If your phone’s battery can be removed, pry open the case and check the fine print.

To avoid battery damage from rapid charging, use only authentic chargers, says Joe Silverman, CEO and owner of New York Computer Help. Fast charging from certified chargers (from your manufacturer or a third party) will not damage your phone’s long-term battery life. What might hurt your battery are knock-offs or generic chargers made from cheaper materials that don’t ground electricity properly, which causes a leaking charge that can damage the battery — a problem for about 10 to 15 percent of customers who come in with battery issues, Silverman says.

Even if you use a higher-amperage charger on a lower-amperage phone, remember that certified and in-box chargers are designed for particular devices. They will not let through more power than the phone can support. 

How to charge your phone faster

Whether or not your phone supports fast charging, you can boost how fast your phone powers up.

1. Use the wall plug

Got a USB cable? Forget charging from a laptop. Stick your cable into the AC plug that came with your phone and plug that into the wall. Standard AC plugs deliver 1 amp of current, twice what’s possible via the USB 2.0 socket found on many computers. Third-party AC plugs may support higher amperage up to 2.4, although you’ll be limited by the amperages of your phone and your USB cable.

2. Use a faster-charging wireless charging pad

Popular phones, including the iPhone Xs and Samsung Galaxy S10, support wireless charging. Wireless charging is slower than wired charging, but if you want to go wireless, make sure the charging pad supports the Qi charging at 7.5 watts.

3. Use a higher amp car charger

Just like you’ll want a higher amperage wall charger, you’ll want a car charger with Quick Charge and/or the ability to deliver more than 1 amp. You’ll find car chargers that support Quick Charge 2.0 and 3.0 as well as regular chargers that deliver up to 2.4 amps

4. Use a quick charge portable battery charger

Like wall and car chargers, you can pick up a portable charger with Quick Charge and/or the ability to deliver a faster —charge wired or wireless. Look for the same standards: Quick Charge 3.0 and Qi 7.5-watt fast charging.

5. Upgrade to USB 3.0

The USB 3.0 standard supports up to 1.5 amps of current when charging without data transmission. Using a USB 3.0 cable in a USB 3.0 port charges your phone faster, assuming your phone supports 1.5 amps or more.

If you charge your phone from a USB 3.0 port on your computer, turn on Airplane Mode to ensure your phone won’t try to sync or interact with the computer. Otherwise, the allowable current is capped at 0.9 amps. Check online to find out if your computer model has USB 3.0 ports.

6. Use your iPad charger for your iPhone 6 or newer iPhone

The standard iPhone 6 1-amp charger can take the phone from zero to full in around three hours, and the 2.1-amp iPad charger can halve that, says Silverman. Or pick up an Apple-certified third-party wall charger.

7. Turn off your phone while it’s charging

Without Pokemon Go or email sucking up processing power, more juice goes where it’s needed sooner. The difference in charging speeds, though, is small. So weigh the inconvenience of turning off your phone with slightly faster charging.

8. Lock the screen   

If you can’t live with a turned-off phone, let your screen go black to get more power to the battery.  

9. Leave low power mode on

When you hit a certain battery level, this handy setting for iOS and Android devices automatically dials back screen resolution, animations, background app refreshing and other battery drainers. It’s an impressive extension of battery life, and Silverman says this feature doesn’t affect how fast your phone charges. 

Stokes, Natasha. “How to Charge Your Phone Faster” July 2019

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5 Tips To Help You Identify A Phishing Attempt

With the number of spam emails sent daily expected to increase to almost 190 billion a day through 2023 [1], it’s increasingly important to be able to spot the tell-tale signs of a fraudulent email and protect your personal and business data, and your tech from malicious viruses and malware.

1. Confirming Personal Information

Often you will receive emails disguised to look authentic. They might mimic the style of your current company or an outside business such as a bank or credit card company. These emails may have requests for personal information that you would not usually provide, such as banking information or login credentials. It is important you don’t click on or respond to these emails. Before responding, determine the legitimacy of the email by contacting an organization directly or searching on the internet

2. Fraudulent Email and Web Addresses

Phishing emails often come from an address that appears to be legitimate, but at a closer glance can have some discrepancies. These emails may contain the names of genuine companies and might be made to replicate the company’s personal sites or email accounts. Brand logos and trademarks do not guarantee that an email is real. Hackers can use these images or download them from the internet to mimic an existing company. Even antivirus badges can be inserted into emails to persuade victims into thinking an email is from a legitimate source.

3. Grammar

Phishing emails can sometimes contain poor language in the body of the message. Grammatical errors and conflictive sentence structure are common in these fraudulent emails. A legitimate company would have constructed an outbound communication professionally and checked for spelling errors and other mistakes. While poor grammar is a giveaway, not 100% of phishing emails will have sloppy grammar, so it is important to keep on your toes.

4. Scenarios

Many phishing emails tempt to instill a sense of worry into the recipient. The emails may give a scenario that depends on you entering your credentials to solve it. For example, an email may state that your account will be closed if you don’t enter your personal information and act now. If ever unsure of what an email is asking of you and why, be sure to contact the company through other methods.

5. Attachments

If you receive an email from a seemingly random company you do not affiliate with, and the email references something unexpected, the attachment might include some malicious malware or virus. These attachments may contain a URL or trojan horse designed to compromise your system, if opened. Send these emails to your security team instead of attempting to open them yourself.

Because employees are the core of any business, they will be the main target for cyber-criminals. Making sure your people stay up-to-date with cyber-security knowledge, and teaching them to recognize threats is imperative to the security of your business. The threat landscape is constantly evolving and so should your approach to defense.

We offer security awareness training and phishing simulations to test employees on how they would respond to a real-life phishing attack. For the best measurement of all employees awareness, we send mock attacks at staggered times, to avoid the “prairie dog effect” where employees warn one another of the email.

Through these test campaigns we track and measure your employees strengths and weaknesses and once a learning gap is detected, we deliver interactive educational videos to the most susceptible users.

One of our most important roles as a technology service provider is to protect the assets of our clients. No matter how big or small your business is, a single compromised credential could put your entire business at risk. Give us a call to further discuss how we can help in protecting your business against cybersecurity threats and how we can make technology work for your business. Call us now at 732.780.8615


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10 Hidden Tricks Inside of Windows 10

Windows is a vast operating system with plenty of features you might never stumble upon. Make the most of Windows 10 with these expert tips.

Microsoft’s Windows OS isn’t any one thing; it’s an interwoven patchwork of features built atop other features that trace all the way back to the beginning of the time-tested operating system. Each individual feature is, in turn, the result of a team of dedicated engineers who create the best (often customizable) experience possible.

With such a complex piece of software, it makes sense that there are little tricks and UI flourishes most people don’t even know about. We’ve compiled a list of useful tips that will help you get more out of your Microsoft Windows 10 experience. Or, at least, teach you some things you may not have known about.

Secret Start Menu

If you’re a fan of that old-school (i.e. non-tiled) Start menu experience, you can still (sort of) have it. If you right-click on the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner, it will prompt a textual jump menu with a number of familiar popular destinations (Apps and Features, Search, Run). All these options are available through the standard menu interface, but you’ll be able to access them quicker through this textual interface.

Show Desktop Button

This desktop button actually dates back to Windows 7, but is handy nontheless. On the bottom-right corner of the desktop is a secret button. Don’t see it? Look all the way to the bottom and right, beyond the date and time. There you’ll find a small little sliver of an invisible button. Click it to minimize all your open windows.

There’s also the option to have windows minimize when you hover over this button versus clicking. Select your preference in Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Use peek to preview the desktop.


This feature actually debuted in Windows 7, but I’ve found a lot of people don’t know about it or use it (but they should—it’s cool!). If you have a display full of windows, clear the clutter by grabbing the top of the window you do like and “shaking” it to minimize all the other windows. Suddenly having shaker’s remorse? Shake again and the windows will come back.

Rotate Your Screen

This tip won’t be useful to most, but you can rotate your screen by simultaneously pressing Ctrl + Alt + D and any of the arrow buttons. The down arrow will flip it upside down, the left or right arrow buttons will turn it 90 degrees on its side, and the up arrow will bring you back to standard orientation. If you use multiple displays, this feature allows you to orient just that display in a particular way.

Alternatively, you can right-click on the desktop background > Graphics Options > Rotation to turn your page around in all sorts of ways. This feature is available on Windows 7 and 10.

Enable Slide to Shutdown

This trick is complicated and probably not worth the effort for what you get out of it, but here you go: Right-click on the desktop > New > Shortcut. In the ensuing pop-up window, paste the following line of code:


This creates a clickable icon on your desktop, which you can feel free to rename. To shut down via slide-down, double-click on the new icon to prompt a pull-down shade. Then use your mouse to drag it down to the bottom of the screen. Keep in mind, this isn’t sleep, this is a shutdown.

Enable ‘God Mode’

Are you a power user who wants access to your PC’s nitty gritty? “God mode” is for you. Right-click on the desktop > New > Folder. Re-name the new folder with this bit of code:


To enter the “God Mode” window, double-click the folder and go nuts.

Right-Click on Tiles

Want to personalize those tiles quick? Just right-click on them to prompt a pop-up menu. This menu will give you various options like the ability to un-pin from the Start menu, resize the windows, or turn that live tile off.

Right-Click on the Taskbar

Here’s a handy menu that will allow you to quickly access a number of presets for the toolbars, Cortana, and window schemes. There’s a lot there, and it’s just a click away.

Drag to Pin Windows

This feature was available as far back as Windows 7, but has some extras in Windows 10.

Grab any window and drag it to the side, where it will “fit” to half the screen. In Windows 10, you have the option of dragging the window to any corner to have the window take over a quarter of the screen instead of half. If you’re using multiple screens, drag to a border corner and wait for a prompt signal to let you know if the window will open in that corner.

You can prompt similar behavior by using the Windows key plus any of the directional arrow buttons

Marvin, Rob. “25 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10″ PC July 22, 2019

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7 Things You Didn’t Know Google Search Could Do Until Now

Google is way more powerful than most people realize. Regular searches are helpful, but they don’t even scratch the surface of Google’s abilities. Sometimes, your basic search inquiries may not be enough or you need a tip to get the best results.

There is a range of cool Google tricks you can use to narrow your results even further. It’s high time you learned what your search bar could do.

1. Get more options on your Google search results page

With rare exception, Google will spit up thousands of links for any search. This is great, in theory, but most relevant information shows up on the first couple of pages. So what happens if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the first few seconds? You get annoyed, and you wonder what the issue is – bad search, or Google being weird?

One way to mitigate this feeling is to expand the number of results on the first page, so you don’t have to click through as many individual pages to find what you’re looking for.

Simply click Settings underneath the right-hand side of the search bar on your results page and you’re taken to a page where you can adjust the number of results you see. Move the slider in the direction you want, but note that the more results you select per page, the slower Google will appear to run.

2. Search verbatim for more refined results

Sometimes Google doesn’t exactly “get it” when it comes to your search terms. The search engine tends to rely on context, after all. If you want more literal search results, all you’ll need to do is activate Verbatim searches.

This makes it that all search results must have your search terms included exactly as they appear. To activate Verbatim searches, click Tools on your results page, then hover over All results and click to select the Verbatim option. Alternatively, you can also type your search terms in quotation marks for the same effect (“like this”).

3. Remove old searches from your search history

To make the change, visit Google’s Delete activity page. When you follow Google’s instructions and click the Try it link, you’ll be able to search for specific topics and delete them by clicking the three dots symbol.

Now you’ll have cleaner results and more relevant ads when you browse.

4. Search for books, news, and movies

Most people know how to find images and videos, using the tabs at the top. But Google knows how much the internet loves different kinds of media, so the search engine has curated specific topics to bring you more relevant results about what you’re looking up.

Take Books and News, for example. Right under the search bar (if you don’t already see Books), you can click the menu item that says more to search among books and news articles specifically – much like you would with an image search. This prevents you from seeing results that aren’t related to what you’re looking for.

Take Books and News, for example. Right under the search bar (if you don’t already see Books), you can click the menu item that says more to search among books and news articles specifically – much like you would with an image search. This prevents you from seeing results that aren’t related to what you’re looking for.

As for movies, Google handles its searches without any extra work on your part. Simply type in the name of a movie, and you’ll be greeted with cast info, links to Wikipedia, and even showtimes and tickets if it’s a movie that’s still in theaters.

5. Plot directions right from your Google search bar

You’re probably already familiar with Google Maps, but did you know you can get directions without even needing to open Maps itself? All you need to do is type in “directions to (destination) from (location)” and the search engine results will take care of the rest.

You can switch between car, public transportation, and walking directions if you choose to.

6. Instantly translate in your search bar

Google is fluent in multiple languages, and its abilities improve every day. You can quickly convert text from one language to another – and with astonishing accuracy – by adding one word to your search: type Translate (phrase) into (language of choice).

This is extremely handy in case you come across an unfamiliar bit of language on social media, or want to send a greeting to a friend in a foreign language.

7. Search within specific websites

This is one of the handiest features that Google offers. Sometimes, you want to find something specific on a certain website – but let’s say it doesn’t have a search feature of its own. Wouldn’t it be convenient if every website had its own Google search bar?

add site:(website) to the beginning of the search, and you’ll quickly narrow down your results from the world wide web into just what you’re looking for. Happy hunting!

Most people know how to find images and videos, using the tabs at the top. But Google knows how much the internet loves different kinds of media, so the search engine has curated specific topics to bring you more relevant results about what you’re looking up.

Take Books and News, for example. Right under the search bar (if you don’t already see Books), you can click the menu item that says more to search among books and news articles specifically – much like you would with an image search. This prevents you from seeing results that aren’t related to what you’re looking for.

Komando, Kim. “7 things you didn’t know Google Search could do until now” USA Today July 25, 2019

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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