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Face to Face, Phone, Email, or IM? Reevaluating Intra Office Communication

When you work with other people, interruptions happen. Having worked in numerous settings with a variety of people, I have experienced this first hand many times. One person has a question about a project. Another person asks the same question they asked me yesterday. Someone else just wants to chat. Still another person wants to know what I thought of last night’s game. Before you know it, I’ve wasted half an hour (or more!) and have forgotten what I was doing.

If you have lots of time to kill (hah!), then interruptions might not matter to you. But for those of us that have to get things done and meet deadlines, most of these interruptions are unwelcome. Even when they deal directly with your work they still disrupt your thought processes and workflow.

photodune-3550050-simple-communcation-xs

So what can we do to manage these interruptions? Are there alternative ways (and possibly better ways) to communicate things that are important, but not urgent? Can we teach people to gauge which messages are urgent, which are important, and which are neither? Would that change our communication strategy?

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The World is Overreacting to Facebook Messenger

There has been quite the hoopla over Facebook’s new Messenger app. The online community has accused Facebook of potentially stealing information, spying on users, and overstepping the boundaries they should be respecting.

While it doesn’t surprise me that the Internet is in an uproar, I do think that people are overreacting.

Android versus iPhoneAndroid Permissions for Facebook Messenger

First off, the complaints are almost all related to the Android version of the app. On an Android phone, the operating system will prompt a user for all the needed permissions right when the app is first installed. This means that a user will be faced with a prompt asking for all sorts of access to a user’s phone before they get to use the app at all. This can be disconcerting, mostly because there is no context for understanding why the app wants these permissions.

iPhone permissions for Facebook MessengerContrast this behavior to the iPhone experience. The operating system doesn’t ask the user to set the app’s permissions until the app needs them. When the app is first launched, there is no scary alert asking for all sorts of access. The user isn’t prompted to give the app permission until the app actually needs it. For instance, when the user tries to take their first picture, the app asks for permission to use the camera. When the user tries to record their first voice message, the app asks permission to use the microphone. Since the app asks for permission right when the user needs it, the user has a better context for understanding why the app needs to access their phone, camera, microphone, pictures, SMS, etc. All this leads to much less confusion.

App Permissions

Modern phone operating systems include protections to help prevent an app from accessing parts of the phone that are irrelevant to the app. For instance, a tic-tac-toe game shouldn’t need to access your camera or microphone. The phone operating systems will prompt the user for all the permissions that the app is asking for, and this allows the user to make an informed decision as to whether they trust the app or not.

Imagine installing an app you’ve never heard of that says it’s an alarm clock, but it asks for permissions to the camera, microphone, location tracking, and phone call history. You’d be wise to research a little before allowing the app to run and use these permissions. On the other hand, imagine installing an app you’ve never heard of that says it allows you to send audio messages to family, and it asks for permissions to use your microphone. This makes sense, so you’d probably allow that and not think about it again.

These things are referred to as app permissions. This is when the phone prompts the user and asks if the app can perform certain actions. The important thing to remember is that just because you give permissions for an app to (for instance) “use the camera anytime without my further permission” doesn’t necessarily mean the app is going to spy on you. It just means the app will be able to take photos without the phone’s operating system double-checking with you.

Imagine if you tried to snap a quick photo, but were interrupted by the phone saying “This app wants to take a photo. Is that ok?”. You’d probably be annoyed that you’re missing the moment you’re trying to capture. Instead of the phone prompting you each time you try to capture a photo, it simply asks you up-front if you’re comfortable with the app taking photos in general. That way, the app can snap the photo as soon as you ask it to.

Once you understand this, it’s not uncomfortable to imagine the Facebook Messenger app needing to use your camera (to send a picture), microphone (to send a voice message), SMS messages (to send a text message), etc.

App Terms of Service

I think it’s important to understand the difference between an app’s permissions and its terms of service.

The permissions an app requests when it’s first installed setup a sort of technical “fence” in which the app lives. The fence is the phone’s security measures to be sure the app uses only the phone features that it’s allowed to use.

The terms of service for an app, on the other hand, is the legal agreement entered into between the user and the app publisher. These dictate what the app can do with the data collected by the app. For instance, an app might ask for permissions to use the camera, but the terms of service may state that the app cannot use those pictures for commercial gain.

The Facebook Messenger App is one of several gateways to the Facebook platform. You can also access Facebook on their website, their mobile app, and through third party apps. All the parts of the Facebook platform are governed by the same terms (read them for yourself here). Just because their app asks for technical permissions to use your phone doesn’t mean the app is going to spy on you. They still have to abide by their legal agreement with you.

Don’t Be Afraid

You shouldn’t be afraid to install the new Facebook Messenger App. Although I may be in a minority on the Internet (probably because fear gets clicks), there are plenty of others who agree with me (here, here, and here).

Top Advantages of Voice Over IP for Small to Medium-Sized Businesses

Many business owners tell us they’re confused by new technologies like VoIP. In essence, VoIP uses the internet to streamline both internal and external communications. Besides its ease of use, there are many attractive advantages why small and medium sized businesses should consider making the switch to VoIP. Over the past few years, voice over ip technology has progressed by leaps and bounds; making it one of the most desirable communication solutions currently available.

VoIP has a wide range of advantages over traditional switchboards sans complicated equipment and networking. For small and medium sized businesses, VoIP has vastly improved in-house as well as external communications. With a growing need for usable, mobility enhanced communication platforms for the mobilized steadily increasing, its easy to see why VoIP has taken the forefront as the most comprehensive and affordable solution. 

Top Advantages of VoIP

  • Keeping Your Top Earners Mobile: In today’s market your mobilized workforce must have the tools they need to keep in touch and gather valuable business intelligence. Your VoIP services can be used from multiple office locations as well as handheld devices all from the same localized platform without sacrificing any VoIP package features.
  • Enhanced, Professional Performance: Depending on which type you choose, VoIP features can include auto attendant, virtual conferencing, email to text transcription, and music on hold. Whether you employ 1 or 100 employees, your communication features will be top notch.
  • Detailed Reporting: Analytics are the lifeblood of any industry. With VoIP you can monitor and analyze call information and reports.
  • Adaptability: The ability to adapt to any situation is crucial to your business’s continued success. In the event of an emergency, you can stay connected with staff and customers from any area with an internet connection. This can prove a serious asset during turbulent times.
  • Cost Effectiveness: One of the best advantages of VoIP implementation includes its ease of use and installation. In most cases, you will be able to use your current office equipment to run your VoIP communication systems. 

If you are interested in learning more about how your company can benefit from VoIP, please contact the experts with Rezitech, Inc.

Get your head in the Cloud.

Smart is the key to any business strategy, but smart is not what every business does. Smart means trusting a service with a proven background to save and protect your data in the Cloud. Smart does not mean trusting the office “tech gofer” to save and protect all of your work. So why are so many companies not doing things smart?

Choosing just any company for your data needs, simply wont work. There are several key features one should look for when picking a company that offers to host your data to the cloud. More and more people are switching to cloud based hosting, it is becoming the way any company should do business.

Find a company with minimum downtime. Minimum downtime is not standard with every company that offers to host your data in the cloud. Some do not guarantee it. How will you do your work if the network goes “down”? That is a question that should be important to you. Remember the emphasis on smart. Smart means picking a company that offers to host your data in the cloud with reliable “up time”.

24/7 support takes the worry off of you. Similar to the importance of dependable systems, 24/7 support means if there ever is a problem you can reach a person who will help you. We all know the frustration. We call, and call, and sometimes no one answers. When picking a company that offers to host your data in the cloud, you should not have to worry about round the clock tech support. It should come with it.

Insurable services, means your data is protected. Disasters and problems happen. Usually without warning. No company on this planet can prevent 100% of all possible problems. That being said, you would think that all companies would offer to insure your data against loss. But you would be surprised to learn that not all of them do. Having the option to insure your data is also something that is smart to do.

Dependable customer service. Customer service is as important to you as it is to your customers. Having someone there who is helpful and does not treat you as a bank account figure is something that can be appreciate greatly. Having a person there to walk you through any problem you have, every question, every idea, is the core of great customer service. You are sending your data to a server somewhere. Knowing you can talk to someone who understands that, is important.

Companies that offer to host your data in the cloud, are becoming the smart, standard solution for business. What we offer surpasses the standard.

Simply backing up isn’t any good, and you actually need a disaster recovery plan. Here’s why.

Perhaps, like many people, you’re still manually backing up your data. Perhaps you believe that this is all you need to do in the event of a disaster. But there are several reasons why just backing up isn’t any good, and you actually need a disaster recovery plan.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. There are the major ones such as a fire or burglary. And there are the minor ones such as a virus, a hard drive failure, or even an employee error. Regardless of the disaster, though, it generally means that not only is your data lost, but your infrastructure is lost, too. Manually backed up data is only as current as the last time you backed it up. And you can’t access that data without your infrastructure.

A good disaster recovery plan focuses first on rebuilding infrastructure. This means either securely backing up the entire server — including data and email, server settings, configuration, user names, passwords, desktop wallpapers and more — or, in some cases, it means clear documentation of the settings needed to quickly restore the system. Back ups are done automatically and continuously so that your data and your system are always up to date.

Planning for a disaster means ensuring that your infrastructure can be rebuilt quickly and your entire system can be back online just as it was before. Don’t leave your business to chance and don’t leave yourself open to liability due to lost customer data. Let us help. Contact us for more information about disaster recovery and business continuity planning from Rezitech.

How Cloud Services Can Help Small Business Owners in Orange County

photodune-2620182-cloud-xsOwning a small business comes with many responsibilities. One of the biggest responsibilities you have, is how you handle your system and data updates and security. Many small businesses in Orange County are turning to cloud services for their business needs.

Cloud services can help your business in several key areas.

Mobility- With cloud services you can access all of your companies data from your mobile device, home computer, or a laptop while you are on vacation. You have access to your information anytime you need it.

Custom built for your business- You are in control of how the system is set up. Our IT professionals will design the system per your companies needs. As your company grows, updates can easily be made to allow your business to grow.

Ease of updates- All updates are done through the server. Each computer that is set up on the system will automatically be updated. This eliminates the need to update and license each computer one by one, and will save you time and money by eliminating the downtime associated with these updates.

Security- All information stored on the cloud is secured, ensuring that your sensitive company data is safe. In addition, with your information stored on the cloud it also protects your data should a natural disaster or fire occur. In the event of a disaster, you would still be able to access the company data through the cloud.

Collaborate with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange- Easy access to clients, contacts, calendars, and email using Microsoft Exchange. Then manage your sales, marketing, and customer service by using Microsoft Outlook.

We understand the importance of growing your company. Our experienced team will help get you up and running, giving you more time to focus on your business. For more information about cloud services, please contact us.

Outsourced IT: You Stick To Your Game, We’ll Stick To Ours

TeamWithout a doubt, technology can make your life and your work easier. However, unless you own a technology business, you probably don’t want to think about it too much. You certainly don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to troubleshoot and maintain something that is supposed to make your life easier. That’s where outsourced IT services come in.

Since 2002, Rezitech has been providing reliable IT support and managed services to small businesses in Southern California. Technology is our job, and we focus on it 24/7 so that you don’t have to. Think of how much more proficient your business can be if you don’t have downtime due to tech issues. Think of how much peace of mind you could gain by knowing that your data and network are safe, and your technology is running smoothly. Think of how nice it would be to simply focus on the business you’re passionate about while knowing that someone who is equally as passionate about your technology is focused on that.

Rezitech will work with you to develop tailor-made technology solutions for your business. Some of the services we offer include managed services, business continuity planning, IT consulting, cloud services, VoIP, virtualization, email and spam protection, hardware as a service, and hosted solutions. If your budget is tight, our cutting edge flat-rate per-month billing contracts allow you to plan out your exact information technology expenditures.

Regardless of which solution or billing plan you choose, you can feel good about Rezitech’s dependable consultants and engineers and our round-the-clock technical support. You stick to your game, we’ll stick to ours. Together, we’ll make success.

Why “secure” WiFi is not enough

wifiIf your business is like most businesses, it would be safe for me to assume that your business, or rather your office, has wireless network access. It would also be safe for me to assume that you hopefully have a password or encryption of some kind to protect it. Am I right so far?

Let’s assume, for the sake of this piece, that I am. When was the last time you had a visitor in your office? A month ago? A week ago? Yesterday? They may have just been dropping off a parcel or document or they may have had a meeting. Either way, as far as your employees are concerned, that visitor has been allowed access and is conducting business on the premises. If asked by said visitor if they could check their email or download their presentation chances are an employee of yours would oblige the visitor with the wifi password… And in that moment your security is now defeated. It is often said that the weakest link in digital security is in fact people. And in this particular case one of your employees just gave unrestricted access to your network and possibly, more importantly even, your server and the information on it.

Chances are if your business has a wireless network there are a plethora of devices connected to it from printers to desktops and laptops to mobile phones and the aforementioned servers. So, what if that person has a virus or what if they are there with the intent of stealing data from you? Unfortunately, the moment they connected to the network, your security became nothing more than an idea. That is to say that if they had a virus, or they were actually there to siphon data from you, it would be child’s play.

This is because their device, and by extension, they themselves, can now communicate with all the other devices on the network virtually unrestricted. It is also worth mentioning that they will have this access until the day the wireless password is changed – assuming something nefarious doesn’t occur first. They could be the unwitting participant in corporate sabotage or espionage and neither them or you would ever know until it is too late. At this point the message should be driven home to you: that level of security is not enough. Not when it can bring your business to its knees.

So, network security is hopefully now as important to you as it is to us. The simplest and by far the most widely used method of preventing such breaches is the creation of a secondary network. A guest network. This may sound familiar to you as many off the shelf routers now come with this feature built in for home usage. We can do this for you and your business on the enterprise scale, without hindering on your productivity or making things confusing for your employees. We can take your security a step further by putting a half-life on the passwords they receive. So, upon your choice, we can make it so when a visitor or guest needs to use your internet, they will only have access for the amount of time that you deem necessary. It is a win-win setup as it keeps your network of devices safe from malicious intrusions while also catering for your visitor.

If your network is not secure, or you’re afraid that guests and visitors may have full access to everything on your corporate network, get in contact with our team immediately. Then allow us to do a free “no obligation on-site” analysis of your network security. Our engineering team can then tell you what security issues your network may or may not have. We can then help you to make it very secure so you can sleep well at night and know that visitors don’t have full access to your network.

 

What is the “Cloud”?

It’s a common term, but many business owners don’t know what it means. The “Cloud” is here to stay, and it’s important that you understand what we mean when we say something lives in “the cloud”.

It used to be common for businesses to buy servers and install them at their office to host their email, store their files, serve their website, and run their business. When there were black boxes in the corner making noise and using electricity, it was easy to understand that the email, files, or websites “lived” inside that box. It didn’t take much imagination to comprehend that your computer was reaching out over the short network cable and talking to the black box in the corner every time you checked your email or saved a file from your desk.

With the proliferation of the Internet, the black boxes in the corners of our offices are gone, many replaced with only a connection to the Internet. We no longer buy and setup servers to handle our office technology needs. Instead we use services that are built and managed by companies with vast expertise in the field of centralized hosting of these services. We can no longer touch, feel, or even see the physical machines that perform the business critical functions that used to live inside the black boxes in the corners of our offices.

If we no longer keep servers in our offices, then where, exactly, do our emails, files, and websites live?

I’m sure you’ve heard it said that many business-critical functions have moved to the cloud. That’s true, but I want to explain a little more detail about that.

When someone says something is in “the cloud”, it’s all a matter of perspective. From the consumer’s perspective, “the cloud” simply means a server that’s somewhere in the Internet, and the consumer doesn’t have any visibility into the actual physical location of that server.

If you have a Facebook account, for instance, your perspective is that all of your posts and pictures are in “the cloud”. From the perspective of an engineer who works for Facebook, though, your pictures are likely stored on a hard drive inside a server mounted in a rack of servers located in an air conditioned data center with thousands of other servers. A Facebook engineer would know exactly where the server is located, and could even walk to the server and point to it and tell you “your picture is stored right here”. From your perspective as a user, though, your pictures are just “out there”, somewhere. You’ve relinquished the control and responsibility of storing the pictures yourself (even though you may keep copies of them), and you’ve entrusted the smart engineers at Facebook to store your data and keep it safe for you.

So what does that mean for business?

When a business decides to move some (or all) technology to “the cloud”, it’s usually motivated by costs or performance. By trusting experts to store data and keep it safe, a business owner no longer has to worry about physical server security, power failures, data security, backups, etc. As long as you have an Internet connection, you’ll be able to get to your data.

Obviously, you want to know that your data is safe and secure, and that only comes from working with a reputable, trustworthy partner to host and support these services.

If you’d like to take advantage of the cloud and your company is located in or around La Habra, Brea, Fullerton, Anaheim, Yorba Linda, Placentia, or Buena Park, CA, give us a call! Our team of cloud experts would love to help your business take advantage of the performance, security, reliability, and cost savings found in the cloud.

Still running Office 2003? Your business’ security depends on you upgrading … soon.

If your business is still running Microsoft Office 2003 it is getting very close to the time when you will want to upgrade. Many Windows users over the years have been reluctant to give up their version of Office 2003 because it is lacking many of the sluggish qualities found in other Office releases, namely Office 2007. Fortunately, Office 2010 has overcome these qualities, and is a great platform.

But another main reason why you may want to start looking at an upgrade is that Microsoft has announced that they will no longer be supporting the 2003 version of their popular office suite of programs after April of 2014. There is no need to worry though if your business is a supporter of Microsoft Office products and you do not want to switch to something entirely different.

In 2002 the Microsoft corporation implemented their support lifecycle policy based on feedback from their customers. What this simply means is that any given product in their arsenal will receive a maximum of 10 years total support. The reasoning for this is simply so that newer products are updated regularly while the older ones are allowed to retire to make way for the new technology.

Microsoft has determined through their data that an average enterprise migration from an older product to the newer one can take anywhere from 18 to 32 months. This means that if your company has not yet started the migration process you may be behind, and will want to get going as soon as possible.

Why Do I Need To Upgrade Office 2003?

One of the major concerns is that the older version of Microsoft Office will no longer receive any security updates. Any issue with security within an organization will not be able to be addressed because there will not be any type of continued support available for the older office suite.

In order to keep up-to-date and relevant with your office applications Rezitech Inc. can figure out a custom plan for you and your organization to migrate to newer versions of Office that will continue to be supported for several years to come. Our knowledge in complete I.T. solutions and our commitment to make transitions for our customers be a flawless as possible means that your journey toward staying current will be one that is hassle free.

Rezitech will work closely with you to ensure that the overall objectives of your organization are met so that after your migration is complete you will be in the best possible shape to continue functioning not only at the level you were previously, but even better.

To find out more about how Rezitech can help your organization step forward into the future with new technologies that are supported and updated on a regular basis, contact us and let us help you get rid of the headache that can often times come with a company wide software migration.