15 Dec

Facebook Messenger Get’s Down to Business

With over 1.3 billion monthly active users, Facebook’s Messenger app is an unprecedented success. Facebook is now looking to fully utilize the potential of this monster user base and has therefore added a feature for improving connectivity between local businesses and consumers. Read on to learn how this feature could benefit you!

 

The How

 

By installing a plug-in called Customer Chat, retailers can integrate Facebook Messenger with their website, letting their customer support representatives carry on conversations with clients just like they would on Facebook.

Customer Chat also saves conversation histories, meaning a user can be talking to a customer representative on their website and then continue the conversation once they shift to Facebook — without having to start a new conversation. Customer Chat is now open to any business in the form of an ‘expanded public beta.’

 

Facebook’s Grand Plan

 

Like all new services, the success depends on the users. Customer Chat’s primary user base seems to be those who lack the time or confidence involved in sending a formal e-mail for a casual business inquiry.

Regardless, Facebook has long been developing its platform with an eye on chat’s broader benefits to tighten its grip on businesses. A recent stat indicates Facebook Messenger has surpassed 1.3 billion monthly active users.

 

So, What Next?

 

As Facebook seems to be monopolizing and clamping down on the communication realm — both private and business — with Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp, the plan is clear: They want to absorb even more of the communications that usually take place over phone calls and e-mail.

It is still an uncertainty if the new Messenger feature will have a large impact on Facebook’s grand plan, but it certainly could be an great way of communication for many businesses across the planet. Customer Chat opens up new avenues of integration, such as sending money, making video calls or even convincing customer service reps to give you a refund, thus making Facebook the go-to app for anything and everything, especially in this social media age in which we live.

 

Got any questions about Facebook? Let us help you understand the technicalities. Do you need a trusted company to manage all of your IT needs? Call us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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27 Jul

Amazon releases high-end virtual desktops

It’s nearly impossible to discuss virtualization without bringing up Amazon Web Services (AWS). It was one of the first big names in user-friendly virtualization services and it’s only gotten better over the years. With its latest release, AWS is providing customers with some serious computing power.

 

What are AWS virtual desktops?

 

If you have employees who need occasional access to lightning-fast workstations, hardware costs add up quickly. One way to tackle this problem is by providing users with low-end hardware that connects to a cloud service provider that delivers virtual desktops. These full-fledged desktops can be accessed over the internet and are far more cost efficient.

For quite some time, AWS’s “Standard” package has offered 24-hour access to virtual desktops with dual CPUs, 4+ GB of RAM and 130 GB of data storage for $43 per month. As long as you have a computer with an internet connection and are able to pay the subscription fee, you can run programs on an AWS virtual desktop that greatly exceeds your local machine’s capacity.

 

The WorkSpaces Power bundle

 

In June 2017, AWS introduced a new virtual desktop service for businesses that need a bit more capacity. The WorkSpaces Power bundle grants users access to machines with the power of four CPUs, with 16+ GB of RAM and 275 GB of storage.

Obviously, anything that requires such high-end hardware is going to be pretty technical work, but with the help of an experienced IT provider, you too can profit from the Big Data movement. AWS is advertising the Power bundle to developers, but it’s also great for businesses that want profitable insights from their huge databases.

The Power bundle virtual desktops have tremendous capacity, and that does come at a higher cost. The WorkSpaces Power bundle costs $78 per month for unlimited usage, or if you need it for only a couple days, $19 per month plus 68 cents per hour.

 

Faster data access for Standard and Power bundles

 

Regardless of whether you need the Standard or Power bundle, all AWS virtual desktops benefit from excellent data access speeds. The servers that host AWS cloud storage and AWS virtual desktops are in the same physical location, which means you don’t need to worry about lag when connecting the two.

 

Even if you’re “just a small-scale eCommerce site,” or a single-location office, every business can benefit from more affordable computing power. To find out what virtualization can do for your organization, call us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net.

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28 Apr

What is Virtual “Sandboxing?”

<Virtualization comes with several benefits for small- and medium-sized businesses. One of the most important is cybersecurity, but even within that subset are several strategies for protecting your organization. One of such strategy is referred to as sandboxing, and it’s worth learning about.

 

What is sandboxing?

 

Sandboxing is one of the rare concepts in virtualization that the average person can usually grasp in just a couple short sentences. Essentially, sandboxing is the practice of tricking an application or program into thinking it is running on a regular computer, and observing how it performs. This is especially useful for testing whether unknown applications are hiding malware.

Obviously, it gets far more complicated once you delve into the details of how you implement a sandboxing technique, but the short answer is that it almost always involves virtualized computers. The program you want to test thinks it’s been opened on a full-fledged workstation of server and can act normally, but it’s actually inside of a tightly controlled virtual space that forbids it from copying itself or deleting files outside of what is included in the sandbox.

 

An effective way to quarantine

 

Virtualization is no simple task, but the benefits of sandboxing definitely make the effort worth it. For example, virtualized workstations can essentially be created and destroyed with the flip of a switch. That means:

  1. You aren’t required to manage permanent resources to utilize a sandbox. Turn it on when you need it, and when you’re done the resources necessary to run it are reset and returned to your server’s available capacity.
  2. When malware is exposed inside a sandbox, removing it is as simple as destroying the virtual machine. Compare that to running a physical workstation dedicated solely to sandboxing. Formatting and reinstalling the machine would take several hours.
  3. Variables such as which operating system the sandbox runs, which permissions quarantined applications are granted, and minimum testing times can be employed and altered in extremely short periods of time.

This strategy has been around for nearly two decades, and some cybersecurity experts have spent their entire careers working toward the perfect virtual sandbox.
 

Containers: the next step in this evolution

 

Recently, the virtualization industry has been almost totally consumed by the topic of “containers.” Instead of creating entire virtual workstations to run suspicious applications in, containers are virtual spaces with exactly enough hardware and software resources to run whatever the container was designed to do.

Think of the metaphor literally: Older sandboxes came in a uniform size, which was almost always significantly larger than whatever you were placing into them. Containers let you design the size and shape of the sandbox based on your exact specifications.

 

Quarantined virtual spaces fit nicely into the sandbox metaphor, but actually implementing them is impossible without trained help. Whether you’re looking for enhanced security protocols or increased efficiency with your hardware resources, our virtualization services can help. Call us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or shoot us an email at sales@eitnetworks.net.

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05 Dec

The Surprise Office 365 App

There is a new weapon available to business owners who subscribe to Office 365. It’s called Office 365 Hub, and it was recently released under the guise of the Get Office App in Windows 10. Learn more about the Hub program and how it promises to increase your company’s efficiency and visibility.

 

What does Office Hub Do?

 

Office 365 Hub is a dashboard management program that makes it easier for you to integrate all your Office 365 apps in one location and manage the different programs without the need to get on a browser.

 

Users can:

Manage their payment and subscription information
Optimize Office apps for mobile devices
Access files, programs and apps on the cloud drive from any device
Switch between a personal and business account
Office Hub, like other dashboard management programs, allows you to access multiple apps and programs in one place. Clicking on the Home tab displays a summary of recent documents accessed as well as your commonly used Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

 

For the business owner, this ease of access increases efficiency company-wide. Business owners can install new apps on the desktop without visiting an online browser, while administrators will have no problem moving between the different office applications.

 

What’s more, Office 365 Hub provides a Help and Training tab with links to online resources, tutorials and support forums to help new Office 365 users to quickly acclimate to the cloud. All in all, Office 365 Hub promises a stress-free and easily manageable cloud experience.

 

Reaching the Office 365 Hub App

 

Unfortunately, the Office 365 Hub is not yet visible to everyone who signs on to the Get Office App on Windows 10. It is only open to those who are Office 365 subscribers and members of their Insider program. They also have to be set as Fast Ring subscribers, members who receive builds before they have been completely debugged and updated. Otherwise, you can expect the general release of Office 365 Hub and its benefits in the first half of 2017.

 

If you want the latest updates on Office 365 Hub or any new Microsoft features, contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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25 Aug

New Features in Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 platform isn’t one of the most popular productivity suites in the world by luck. The company’s expertise in creating functional, innovative and easy-to-use business applications has won over thousands of users for decades even before the cloud. And today, Microsoft strives to remain ahead of the competition by rolling out new upgrades every quarter. So what does Office 365’s update have in store for you this quarter? Read on and find out.

 

Word

 

This quarter, Office 365’s upgrade will focus on cloud-powered intelligent services, designed to maximize productivity while saving time. And Office 365’s upgrade wouldn’t be an upgrade if there were nothing new in Word, the business application that put Microsoft on the map. To that end, Word is getting two new features called Researcher and Editor. As you may have guessed, Researcher is designed to help you find reliable sources of information by using Bing’s Knowledge Graph to help search and then cite sources in your Word document. In the future, Researcher’s body of reference materials will also include sources such as national science and health centers, well-known encyclopedias, and more. The feature will be available on mobile devices too.

Now that you have Researcher to help you start your paper, you can count on Editor to help you finish it. This new feature builds on the existing spellchecker and thesaurus, and in addition to the wavy red line under a misspelled word and wavy blue line under bad grammar, Editor uses a gold line for suggestions on how to improve your writing.

 

PowerPoint

 

Currently, when making a presentation, you’re forced to use the 1-2-3-4 linear method of showing your slides. The problem is that you can’t change your presentation order as needed without having to exit PowerPoint’s slideshow mode, and let’s face it, sometimes you do make mistakes and need to go back or move to a different slide. But thanks to PowerPoint’s new feature, Zoom, you can now present your slides in any order you want at any time without a hiccup.

 

Outlook

 

The time has come for Office 365’s Outlook to get the Focused Inbox which has been available for iOS and Android for some time now. If you’re not familiar with Focused Inbox, the feature separates your inbox into two tabs: Focused tab which includes emails that matter most to you and the “Other” tab for everything else. This makes it easy to identify email that needs your attention so you never miss anything important.

Not only that, but as you move email in or out of the Focused tab, Outlook learns from your behavior and adjusts to your priorities. You can also flag someone by typing the @ symbol in the body of the email and pick whoever you wish to flag. This will automatically highlight that person’s email and their email address will be added to the To: line. If you are mentioned, the @ symbol will show up in Outlook so you can quickly find all email where you are mentioned.

 

For now, Microsoft hasn’t set a release schedule for these new features, but according to Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President for the Office team, you can expect to use them soon enough! And as always, if you would like to find out how you can make the most out of Office 365 or Microsoft Office, contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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04 Mar

Geek Speak Decoded

If you’re not an IT professional or have an in-depth knowledge of technology, computer terminology can seem like a foreign language. While you certainly don’t need to be fluent in geek speak, having a basic understanding of it can help in a number of ways. For example, it can help you purchase the right equipment when searching for new hardware or more clearly explain a technical issue you’re having to your IT provider. Here are a few computer terms that can help you along.

 

App

– These days when someone hears the word “app”, they usually think of a program for their tablet or smartphone; however, the word “app” actually has a much more broader meaning. Apps, which is short for applications, have been around since the birth of computers, and the word really refers to any type of computer program. Some examples of common apps used today include Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop, and Symantec Antivirus.

 

Browser

– Your window to the Internet, a browser enables you to access all the information there is online. In fact, the Internet is virtually inaccessible without the use of a browser, and you’re likely reading this article on a browser right now. Google Chrome, FireFox, and Microsoft Edge are a few examples of common browsers.

 

Search Engine

– Not to be confused with a browser, a Search Engine is a page you visit within your browser that allows you to search and find what you’re looking for on the web. You type keywords or phrases into a Search Engine, press enter, and then the web pages and files that contain those phrases and keywords are presented to you. Google, Bing and Yahoo! are a few of the Search Engines available.

 

Hard drive

– A hard drive is essentially a storage unit for everything on your computer. Everything from your operating system to applications, such as Excel and PowerPoint, are stored on your hard drive, and it allows your computer to access these files and programs for your use. The more hard drive space you have, the more applications, videos, documents and various files can be stored on your computer.

 

Motherboard

– If your computer had a heart, the motherboard would be it. The motherboard is a circuit board that powers your RAM, CPU and hardware, enabling it all to communicate with each other. If the motherboard is taken out of the equation, your computer will be unable to operate.

 

CPU/Processor

– If the motherboard is the heart of the computer, then the CPU, or Central Processing Unit, is the brains. A CPU carries out the instructions it receives from the different hardware and software operating on the computer. At one point or another, everything on your computer goes through the CPU. And the more powerful it is, the faster it will be able to operate and the more advanced applications you’ll be able to run.

 

RAM

– Random Access Memory stores all the temporary programs and data that your computer is currently using so they can quickly be accessed by your computer’s CPU. For example, if you are running Microsoft Word, Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, and Skype all at the same time, RAM enables you to access them fast – without having to reopen them every time. The more RAM you have the quicker these programs will run. Once your computer shuts down, it will no longer store these programs in the RAM, but instead in the hard drive.

 

These are just a handful of terms a layperson may come across when asking for technology service or talking about computers. If you’d like to learn more about the tech talk that is native to us IT professionals, or have any concerns with your current IT, don’t hesitate to get in touch at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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08 Feb

This Android App is a Resource Hog

Most of us know that apps can drain battery and slow down your phone. But what if there was a single app that was eating 20% of your battery and potentially slowing its speed by 15%. For Android phone users, this looks to be the case. And, unfortunately for all those social media lovers out there, the app responsible goes by the name of Facebook.

 

The flaw with the Facebook app was first reported by a tech writer, Russell Holly, from androidcentral.com. Here’s what he had to say about it…

 

“Recently I noticed some performance issues on multiple phones, and had started paying closer attention to what exactly was causing these problems. When Facebook turned out to be one of the more egregious resource hogs, I uninstalled it to see how things improved…Not only did my performance issues go away entirely, but I discovered I didn’t actually lose any of the Facebook features I cared about by uninstalling the app.”

 

Russell Holly, however, is not the only one who’s noticed a difference in Android performance after uninstalling Facebook. Since his finding, there have been numerous reports from tech writers and Android users across the globe. Furthermore, some users have also noticed a 15% boost in speed once they uninstalled Facebook and the Messenger app.

 

Alternative methods to get your Facebook fill

 

As one of the Android’s most popular apps, whether or not to install or uninstall Facebook can be a tough decision. However, the battery benefits are so big that it’s worth exploring alternate methods to get your Facebook fill. One is to simply uninstall Facebook and keep the Messenger app. This will not give you the full 20/15% boost, but will provide a noticeable difference in both speed and battery life. Alternatively, you can also access Facebook via Google Chrome or your other Internet browser. By doing this, you can still use most of the same Facebook features (with the exceptions of a few such as location-based functionality and Instant Articles, among others) and still get the max boost to your battery and speed.

 

As for Facebook, this isn’t the first time the app has been accused of slowing down a phone. Last October, the app was found to drastically drain the iPhone’s battery as well. Facebook promised to work on correcting that issue, and have a similar response to this, “We have heard reports of some people experiencing speed issues stemming from our Android app…We are looking into this and will keep [users] posted. We are committed to continuing to improve these issues.”

 

So while you’re pondering whether or not to uninstall Facebook on your phone, feel free to shoot us any of your IT-related concerns. Call 1-866-BIT-WISE or email sales@eitnetworks.net

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29 Jan

Virtualization Types Defined

Virtualization has become the cornerstone for almost all businesses today – and for good reason. It is basically a process of creating a virtual version of a physical IT device. This, in turn, enables businesses to utilize their resources more effectively, while also reducing costs that come with managing and maintaining their infrastructure. Virtualization can be done in many different ways. In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what can be virtualized, and how it can benefit your business.

 

Application Virtualization

 

This is a process where applications get virtualized and are delivered from a server to the end user’s device, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. So instead of logging into their computers at work, users will be able to gain access to the application from virtually anywhere, provided an Internet connection is available. This type of virtualization is particularly popular for businesses that require the use of their applications on the go.

 

Desktop Virtualization

 

Similar to application virtualization mentioned above, desktop virtualization separates the desktop environment from the physical device and configured as a “virtual desktop infrastructure” (VDI). The major advantages of desktop virtualization is that users are able to access all their personal files and applications from any location and on any PC, meaning they can work from anywhere without the need to bring their work computer. It also lowers the cost of licensing for installing software on desktops and maintenance and patch management is very simple, since all of the virtual desktops are hosted at the same location.

 

Hardware Virtualization

 

This is perhaps the most common type of virtualization today. Hardware virtualization is made possible by a virtual machine manager (VM) called the “hypervisor”. The hypervisor creates virtual versions of computers and operating systems and consolidates them into one large physical server, so that all the hardware resources can be utilized more efficiently. It also enables users to run different operating systems on the same machine at the same time.

 

Network Virtualization

 

Network virtualization is a method that combines all physical networking equipment into a single resource. It is the process of dividing bandwidth into multiple, independent channels, each of which can be assigned to servers and devices in real time. Businesses that would benefit from network virtualization are ones that have a large number of users and need to keep their systems up and running at all times. With the distributed channels, your network speed will increase dramatically, allowing you to deliver services and applications faster than ever before.

 

Storage Virtualization

 

This type of virtualization is very easy and cost-effective to implement, since it involves compiling your physical hard drives into a single cluster. Storage virtualization is handy when it comes to planning for disaster recovery, since the data stored on your virtual storage can be replicated and transferred to another location. By consolidating your storage into a centralized system, you can eliminate the hassles and costs of managing multiple storage devices.

 

Integrating virtualization into your business can be a complex and confusing process. Ideally you will enlist the help of experts to get the job done right. If you’re looking for top-quality and reliable virtualization solutions, why not get in touch with our professionals today. We’ll make your virtualization experience a quick and painless one. Contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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