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Directive Blogs

Directive has been serving the Oneonta area since 1993, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Does Your IT Provider Practice Good Cyberhygiene?

I have a confession to make: it’s actually a pretty trying time to be in the IT business right now. A year ago, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement for IT and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) about an increased risk of being targeted by cybercriminals.

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An MSP is Helpful... Even if You Aren’t Ready for Full Managed Services

We spend a lot of time talking about managed IT services. That’s where you pay a monthly contract to have your technology taken care of for you. There are a lot of pros to this, especially for a business that values uptime and efficiency... but sometimes, you just need that certain computer working, and signing another contract isn’t in the cards. We get it. Here’s how we can still help.

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Your Business Can be Cyberbullied

While the issue of cyberbullying is often associated with young people, in reality it is a phenomenon which transcends age, gender, and class. The 24/7 online, anonymous, and always available without respite virtual environment has changed not only how we communicate with each other, but the mores of society - including the business world.

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Oneonta Employers Should Look to Local Schools for Prospects

Every summer, there is a new crop of recent graduates seeking employment opportunities. This is especially true here in Oneonta. Area businesses should be paying close attention to these young graduates and trying to entice them into employment, as they are likely to have fostered precisely the skills these businesses are seeking.

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Lessons from the Business World for Otsego Schools Dealing with Bullying

When it comes to addressing bullying in our schools, whether it is ‘traditional’ or cyber, communication is critical to not only support victims of bullying, but also to prevent it. We’ve been following debates held by the Cooperstown PTA to discuss how to handle bullying and wanted to share our thoughts. Although bullying and cyberbullying are very tricky subjects, we feel that we can learn a lot about how schools handle these sensitive issues and share these insights with other businesses.

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Five Reasons Managed Services Even Work Well for Small Businesses

Consider something for a moment: aside from their size and the resources at their disposal, what makes a small to medium-sized business so different from a large, enterprise-sized one? If you really consider it, there isn’t all that much. This is why many SMBs have turned to managed services… to receive IT support comparable to what the large businesses get.

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How to Prevent and Respond to Stolen Smartphones

b2ap3_thumbnail_cellphone_security_400.jpgIf you've ever had your smartphone stolen, you can attest to the frustration and potential risk that it brings. Many organizations and legislators are working to muzzle the issue, and there are steps that you can personally take to help prevent your device from being stolen. Let's take a look at how to prevent smartphone theft, and how to respond if your gadget is stolen.

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Can I Have My Email without the Spam?

b2ap3_thumbnail_atspam400.jpgNobody enjoys getting spam in their email inbox. It's annoying, it can take up precious time to sift through, and did we mention that it's annoying? Every email user is familiar with spam, but not everyone may know how spam got its infamous name. The answer may surprise you and make you chuckle.

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4 Reasons You Should Implement Company Lunches

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” – Luciano Pavarotti

While breakfast is commonly known as the most important meal of the day, lunch can be an influential part of the workday, especially where team building and morale is concerned. Here at Directive, we’ve long used our Crock-Pot Thursday lunches as a means of creating a more cohesive team.

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Should You Be Holding Your Staff Accountable for Failed Phishing Tests?

It can be a real head-scratcher when one of your otherwise well-performing employees routinely falls for the simulated phishing attacks that you roll out as a part of your cybersecurity awareness strategy. For all intents and purposes, the person is a great employee, but when it comes to acting with caution, they fail. If you’ve made a point to prioritize your staff’s working knowledge of phishing attacks, do you replace this employee? We’ll take a look at it today.

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In Cybersecurity It’s Fool Me Once, Shame on Me

In the course of doing business everyone has their own specific responsibilities. One overarching responsibility that all employees need to have today is a keen eye for detail. The health of a business depends on it. A staff’s failure to properly shoulder their load of security can have an immensely negative result for both the employee and the company. Today, we’re going to explain that when your organization gets breached by hackers, that fault is largely found in the mirror. 

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Tip of the Week: Using Digital Signs

If you walk into any office out there, chances are you’ll see signs on the wall indicating who is located where, as well as those that identify points of interest that visitors might need. With digital technology taking over many aspects of the office, it was a given that it would eventually impact signage. If it’s used right, digital signage can highlight important parts of your office and encourage employees to give it their all during the workday.

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Tip of the Week: Extremely Useful Tips

All Windows machines are capable of leveraging built-in shortcuts. While it might sound ludicrous, using keyboard shortcuts can eliminate the eight days that the average employee spends every year moving between the keyboard and mouse. Shocking, right? Keyboard shortcuts let you retake all of that lost time and use it to be more productive.

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The Shaky Future of the PC

b2ap3_thumbnail_tabcomp400.jpgThere's been a lot of talk lately about the seemingly bleak future of the PC due to the rapid growth of the mobile device market. Will the PC ever really be extinct, or will it find a way to evolve? How will the questionable future of the PC impact your business?

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Massive Workloads Call for Multiple Monitors

b2ap3_thumbnail_dual_monitors_400.jpgWhen life throws you for a loop and you are contracted with much more work than you are used to, perhaps it is time to upgrade your workstation. One of the simplest ways you can do this is by hooking up multiple monitors. With too many windows open, your desktop becomes cluttered and your workflow impeded. Stop getting lost in your work and hook up an extra screen today!

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What’s the Secret to Multitasking?

b2ap3_thumbnail_multitask_400.jpgYou may think that you're awesome at multitasking, but according to cognitive psychologist Art Markman, "You are your own worst judge of how good a multitasker you are." This is because the same areas of your brain that monitor performance are the same areas activated by multitasking, which means that it's difficult to accurately evaluate your own performance.

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Stream Media Wherever You Go With Chromecast

b2ap3_thumbnail_chromecast400.jpgMillions of users from all over the globe would admit that Google has taken over their PC. For any major application that has been created, Google seems to have an answer for it. With the exception of television models that run "Google TV", they hadn't found a way to take over your TV.

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Wow That’s a Lot of Money - Otsego County Residents Lost Nearly $70k to Scammers So Far This Year

According to the New York State Police, Otsego County residents have been experiencing and falling victim to a slew of scams that have resulted in the reported loss of nearly $70,000 so far in 2019.

Let’s take a look and talk about how you can protect yourself and inform your friends, family, and coworkers of this threat that is definitely feeling too close to home for many of us.

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Oneonta Businesses Shouldn’t Write Off Older Workers

Let me ask you something… how would you describe your ideal employee? Many people would rattle off a list of qualifications and personality traits - dedicated, focused, and experienced - with little issue, but seem to never be satisfied with the experience level of their young applicants. However, another group could make a great source of promising candidates: older workers.

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There’s a Wealth of Young Talent in Oneonta... Here’s How to Keep Them Around

Here in Oneonta, we have not one, but two institutions of higher education… which means we have quite a bit of talent being developed locally. In 2016, 2,003 degrees were awarded by our local universities - and one of the most popular majors, Business & Managerial Economics, provides a resource that can assist in making educated business decisions. It only makes sense that businesses around Oneonta would want to keep this kind of talent around.

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Invest in Your Business By Investing in Your Staff

It only makes sense that you would want your staff to know what they are doing as they tackle their daily work responsibilities - otherwise, there isn’t really the chance for very much work to be done. This is why training your staff is so important - it’s practically a prerequisite for productivity.

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How to Properly Handle the Stars and Stripes

Old Glory, the Stars and Stripes, the Star Spangled Banner… whatever you call it, the flag of the United States of America is a symbol of this country’s history and its current unity. As such, there are proper ways to handle it… and many, many ways for it to be mishandled. Here, we’ve taken the liberty of outlining the proper etiquette for handling the flag, and how to properly dispose of it if necessary.

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You’re Training the Business’ Future, Not Your Replacement

Planning for your business’ future is a critical activity to carry out, and we aren’t just talking about next quarter. You need to be sure that you are ready to accept that today’s status quo  isn’t permanent. Your business or your position should grow, which means that you and your employees are going to need to embrace more responsibility and authority, exploring different roles.

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From the Law Office to the Courtroom: IT’s Role in Criminal Justice

With information technology touching nearly every part of modern culture, it isn’t a surprise that it is being utilized by sectors of industry where you may not expect. One of those sectors that may not register as one of the most IT-centric is the criminal justice system. This is largely because it is traditionally thought to be filled with jobs that seemingly haven’t changed much in centuries. Today, we’ll take a look at the technology that fuels today’s criminal justice system and see how municipalities and companies, alike, are benefiting from technology solutions.

 

Police

To start the journey through the legal system, we’ll start with the people whose job is defined by exercising moral authority: the police. The first thing that anyone needs to know about their investment in IT and their use of technology systems is that, since the police gets a majority of their funding from public money, IT budgets aren’t always in line with a private business’. In fact, some police departments don’t see the point in more IT when good cops are being laid off so they will deliberately cut their IT budgets in line with the budget they get from their municipality.

While IT isn’t always a priority for the police, it can be effective at providing exceptional departmental productivity gains. With the remote nature of the job, most police cars today are outfitted with laptops and Internet accessibility. This allows officers to access motor vehicle and individual information stored on useful databases, but since these machines are hardwired into a car dock, they only get a partial benefit of mobility. Innovative solutions are now being used where police are outfitted with department-owned smartphones and tablets so that officers can access relevant information from outside of their cars.

There are several parts of the job where police can benefit from new technology. Along with the in-car computer networking, and potentially mobile device networking, IT can compliment a lot of what a police officer does. The right IT solution can boost communication, augment (or completely run) operational capabilities, and effectively reduce costs by providing information faster and speeding up procedure. After all, a large percentage of effective policing has to do with having actionable information. As a result, by implementing IT solutions, the public welfare improves--which is the situation that any citizen can ask from their officers of the peace.

From a software perspective, here are three types the typical police department can’t do without:

  • Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) - An application that assists dispatchers route police resources to places of priority need.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) -  An application that provides in-depth geographic information to provide dispatchers and officers a comprehensive view of the landscape.
  • Records Management System (RMS) - An application that provides officers with access to reliable information to assist them in their duties.

 

Lawyers

Moving on to the lawyers, we’ll find a professional that is torn between the past and the future. Many lawyers understand that IT can benefit them, but at the same time the simply don’t have time to monkey with technology that, for some, can do more harm than good. The average lawyer that works criminal cases, whether they are prosecutors, defense attorneys, or specialists, understands how to effectively utilize certain technologies to provide their clients the best service possible. After all, they deal with a lot of sensitive information, and have a responsibility to protect it.

Some of the technologies that law firms typically utilize come in the form of business-type solutions that enhance their productivity, efficiency, and data redundancy. Others, however, are best utilized by a business like a law practice. Most practices need strong collaborative systems that allow multiple people to share files, the ability to print off documents, and a central database that has access to documents. These requirements make computing solutions in the cloud a perfect fit for the modern law office. Cloud computing can offer these organizations a way to host all their necessary software, while also providing virtual hardware and redundant storage capabilities without having to pay huge upfront costs.

Lawyers typically use the following software:

  • Practice Management - An application that is designed to help lawyers and their staff manage the large quantity of work they are inundated with.
  • eDiscovery - An application that makes finding, collection, identifying, and sharing relevant information easy.
  • Video Conferencing - Lawyers are extraordinarily busy and often don’t have time for face-to-face meetings. Video conferencing helps fill the void by allowing them to meet with clients, colleagues, and staff from anywhere with an Internet connection.

 

The Court

Since its main purpose is to be a place to hear arguments, the courtroom doesn’t need all the technology that the police and lawyers use to keep things rolling efficiently along. In fact, most of the technology that is utilized in the duration of a criminal trial would be traditionally provided by the prosecution or defense. This simply isn’t so today. The courtroom of the information age is seeing a major shift, and changing the nature of litigation completely.

The biggest change to the modern courtroom is in the availability of data. Since data is now able to be securely broadcast from cloud servers to devices such as laptops and tablets, the notoriously slow court proceedings’ pace has quickened somewhat. Other technologies like wireless Internet connections and charging ports add to the connected courtroom effectiveness.

Along with the technology people bring in to the courtroom, there are major changes in the technology inside the courtroom itself, too. The modern courtroom features video displays--either in the form of a mounted screen and a LCD projector or smaller, individual screens in the jury box--to provide juries a resource to see evidence. Many courtrooms also have individual witness monitors and annotation monitors.

Since the courtroom only has a couple of static employees, software isn’t typically necessary to manage the staff or used for productivity, but some software is available. There are titles for court and case management, e-filing, and audio-visual that are all found in the modern courtroom.

Corrections

The criminal justice system ends with institutional corrections (prisons and jails) and community corrections (probation and parole). Like the other parts of the system, the corrections system has become dependant on the use of technology, especially for communication. Internet-based databases help corrections professionals track and maintain records on offender rehabilitation, while also helping provide an alternative to incarceration for nonviolent offenders. This provides the public significant cost savings, while also providing correction officers the ability to effectively monitor and manage offender probation.

Since budgetary considerations can really put a damper on the amount of acceptable innovation in corrections, the use of standard information technology is extremely important. It is making prisons and jails safer, and community corrections more effective. No better example of this than then the use of asset tracking technology through an automated offender management system.

The automated offender management system allows multiple users to access (and alter) an offender’s record simultaneously.with other users. This real-time information sharing improves efficiency, as the more information that’s available between multiple elements of the criminal justice system (and in this case, the corrections system) the better the entire system moves. Additionally, by providing real-time inmate information to corrections officers, it will reduce security risks.

 

If the technologically puerile criminal justice system is utilizing technology to improve operations, your business can, too. To see how Directive’s knowledgeable IT consultants can make technology work for your organization, call us today at 607.433.2200.

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Debunking the Myths of Syndicated Content

Lately, I have come across articles from friends and peers that have discussed a topic and presented inaccuracies that I find troublesome. There is some confusion that syndicated content is never worthy of respect or consideration. This seems especially true when it is compared to custom content. However, this may not always be the case, and so there are a few points that need to be cleared up from the get-go. Considering that my company provides syndicated, custom, and SEO content, I am an authority uniquely positioned to clarify this matter, which is what I intend to do here.

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Big-Business Solutions Also Apply to Oneonta Small Businesses

Enterprise businesses have historically had access to bigger and better technology solutions than their small to medium-sized counterparts, their sheer size allowing them to bulldoze any potential competitors who weren’t of their size or larger. However, with the changes to technology that we have seen, business opportunities for SMBs have become more accessible and affordable. This allows more businesses of all sizes, but particularly SMBs, to embrace solutions that can drive them to success.

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Why Oneonta Businesses Need Enterprise Cybersecurity

If you run a small business in Oneonta, you might assume that you don’t need to worry about the threat of a cyberattack. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

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Consumer Data Collection is Growing

b2ap3_thumbnail_getit400.jpgWith the holiday shopping season winding down, it's the busiest time of the for data collecting companies that compile information on the purchases you make. Are you aware of the extent that your purchases are being tracked? Knowing about data collection may make you want to buy all of your presents with cash.

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One Call to Handle it All!

b2ap3_thumbnail_our_vendor_management_400.jpgConsolidation makes life easier. Your smartphone is a prime example of this; consolidating dozens of individual gadgets down to one easy-to-use device that can fit inside your pocket. Before smartphones, we had to travel with a carry-on bag full of electronics, but now, thanks to smartphones, traveling is much easier. This principle of consolidation also applies to IT services.

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Where Are They Now: Clippy

b2ap3_thumbnail_clippy400.jpgIt looks like you're trying to read a blog letter. Would you like help with that? If Microsoft's animated Office assistant Clippy were here, he would undoubtedly be on the corner of the page distracting you from getting anything done. The last time we saw Clippy was in 2003. What has Clippy been up these past ten years?

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The Virtual Hand that Terrorizes the Cradle

b2ap3_thumbnail_internet_connected_security_400.jpgIn today's connected home, Internet security needs to extend beyond the PC. Any device that's connected to the Internet needs to be password protected, secured with a firewall, and utilize available security apps. These precautions should be taken even with seemingly harmless devices like baby monitors. A family from Ohio recently learned this lesson the hard way.

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Reduce Your Technology Headaches Go with Managed IT

Does your business have trouble with managing and maintaining your technology? If so, you’re not alone. Many small businesses struggle with even the most basic elements of IT maintenance. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just take this responsibility and shift it off of your employees? The best way to approach technology maintenance is to implement managed IT services.

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You Better Upgrade Windows 8.1...or Else!

b2ap3_thumbnail_windows_eight_point_one_400.jpgWell, that didn't take long. Eight months ago Microsoft released Windows 8.1 and now they're sounding the alarm that users better comply and install the latest updates or lose security support from Microsoft. What makes this news peculiar is that it took 12 years for Microsoft to reach the same verdict with its popular Windows XP operating system. What gives, Microsoft?

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Work Smarter, Not Harder

turtle

Want to get more done in a days time? We all do. If you are a business owner, it is likely you'd love to see your employees get more accomplished during the course of the day. There is a lot that can be done to make your time more efficient (that is an industry all on its own!), but one very frustrating cause of lost productivity is faulty technology. The most overlooked culprit? Slow computers!

Hit the jump to see our analysis of what workstation slowness can cost your company.

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reCAPTCHA: The First Line of Defense

Security is paramount. These days, hackers are aggressive and relentless when it comes to using exploits to test your security. So much so that even when applying multiple layers of protection across a site, the server, and keeping everything patched, threats can sneak in. This is why it is critical to have a first line of defense; in this case, a CAPTCHA.

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Why Multi-Factor Authentication is Way Better Than Passwords

Time hasn’t been kind to the password. It’s continuously put down as one of the least secure methods of protecting systems. It’s not due to any fault of the password, though. People just have a hard time remembering long and complex passwords. To aid in security, it’s recommended that you use some sort of multi-factor authentication. While some users prefer easy SMS message two-factor authentication, there are actually many different types of multi-factor authentication available.

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A Happy Computer is Clean

dusty computer insides

Have you ever noticed that the vents around your computer seem to pick up a lot of thick dust?  Computers and Laptops house internal fans that keep the inside components from overheating, which essentially makes them mini-vacuums that constantly suck air and dust in.  Dust can act as an insulating blanket and prevent your hardware from cooling, causing damage over time and wearing down your computer faster.  Hit the jump for some more information and some ways to help keep your computer clean so it can live a long healthy life.

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CPT: When Faced With a Choice, We Have Twix Up Our Sleeve! [Video]

With all of the debate going on as to whether the left or right TWIX is superior in the media today, we decided to settle this for ourselves. The conclusion is that the Twix Cookie dessert recipe we had today is in fact the top Twix! Don’t get us wrong, the real-deal candybar is great... BUT when you don’t have to choose a side, start a debate, lose friends AND you get the entire gooey cookie to yourself; is there really a comparison?

Find out for yourself with the recipe below and let us know what part of the cookie was your favorite!

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The Causes of Network Crashes (and How to Avoid Them)

It should come as no surprise that a crash occurring in your computer network is a bad thing for your business. However, the real ramifications of such an event might not immediately come to mind. Fortunately, there are precautions that may be put into place that can help you to mitigate the chances of a network crash.

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World Backup Day Highlights the Importance of Backup Practices

March 31, 2018 is World Backup Day. Data is a commodity, but unlike other commodities--it can be replicated without hurting its value. As a result, data backup has become a critical need for the modern business. World Backup Day has been created to remind people to protect their assets by backing up their files.

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5 Ways to Make IT Security Top of Mind

The most significant resource any business has is their team. Yes, unfortunately, many companies view their staff as disposable cogs, to be worn down and tossed once every ounce of passion for their job has been drained away. Some of these businesses even manage to turn a profit.

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The Monopoly of ISPs

Many of those in favor to end net neutrality focused not on the issues of technology, but on the principles of the 'invisible hand,' otherwise known as the free market. Their argument, as espoused by Ajit Pai, is that regulation - particularly that of net neutrality - stifled innovation, and it’s that lack of variation which is the cause of so many of us being stuck with crummy internet options. In fact, Mr. Pai has a valid point, states and countries with multiple ISP services, do seem to have better outcomes for their customers. The problem is most of us don’t live in those places and don’t have many, if any, choices but one or two.

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Credit Card Skimmers Are a Real Threat - Be On The Lookout

If you thought that small town Oneonta wasn’t at risk of cybersecurity attacks and scams that you see in the headlines, you might want to think again. Most of the time, smaller businesses (especially around upstate New York) feel that they’re not a viable target for cybercriminals. After all, these kinds of issues are just concerns for bigger companies in larger cities, they surely don’t happen here, in Oneonta... right?

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What Exactly Do We Mean by “Managed” Services?

Managed services - what are they? The short answer, other people managing the IT systems that you rely on every day to be productive and accomplish your tasks. In essence, they are a freedom from dealing with the troublesome and time-consuming parts of leveraging technology. You may have heard this much about managed services before, but have never been given a deeper understanding of what they entail. That is precisely what we aim to accomplish below.

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Your Emails Won’t Be Secure Without these Safeguards

Are your employees putting your organization’s security at risk due to poor email practices? This is a question that all business owners need to consider--especially if you deal in sensitive information. We recommend that all businesses utilize a two-pronged approach to email security, including both technology measures to secure communications on the technical side and training to secure on the human side.

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How to Ensure Your Business is Hurricane-Ready

As headlines shout about Hurricane Florence approaching the East Coast later this week, with Helene and Isaac also stirring in the Atlantic Ocean, it seems as good a time as any to discuss preparing your business for hurricane season; and, really any adverse weather effects that could negatively influence your business. Preparing your business for events like these is key to its survival, making it crucial that you know what your responsibilities are when awaiting a potentially devastating event such as a hurricane.

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October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

It’s October, and time again for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to bring extra attention to the issue of security. This year there is a focus on the personal and professional interactions that intersect in the virtual space. The more these two worlds become connected, the more likely the possibility of a hacker gaining access to one or both worlds, using access they acquired from one or the other.

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Investigating the Value of Managed IT Services

Managed IT services can present a lot of benefits for small businesses. Since not many smaller businesses can afford to staff expert IT technicians, managed IT services are an attractive alternative that allows an organization to get the IT support and management they need to keep their business running efficiently. Today, we’ll go over all the benefits a managed service provider can present a small business,and just how a MSP delivers significant returns on your IT support investments.

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Putting The Social in Social Media

Recently, we have been sharing insights on some best practices regarding social media. This time, we’re going to discuss the primary function of social media: engagement. Engagement is simply how you interact with your audience and whether or not you are able to develop a relationship with them. Engagement is also one of the most important and resource-consuming aspects of using social media as a tool for marketing and the promotion of your services.

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Why Should I Safely Remove Devices?

unplugging USB from laptopIf you've used a USB flash drive or other USB devices like cameras, smartphones, and external hard drives, you've probably seen Windows request you to safely remove the device as opposed to simply unplugging it from the PC when you are done. How important is this? Very.

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Windows 8 - An OS for Every Occasion

windows 8 dashboard

Windows 8? Doesn't it feel like Windows 7 just came out? Windows 7 isn't being replaced anytime soon; the latest operating system by Microsoft hasn't even been out for two years, but that doesn't mean Microsoft isn't cooking up their next incarnation. Microsoft has always kept small businesses in mind as well as the residential consumer, so will Windows 8 stick with the same trend?

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Why Small Businesses Need to Properly Manage Active Directory

Active Directory wordcloudThe purpose of a solid business network is to iron out the chaos of running multiple computers whose users need to access and share files and documents. With sharing comes the need to restrict some users from certain files, all while protecting your IT infrastructure from the inside and out.

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Your Company Social Media Policy Part 2

social media definitionLast time we wrote about the importance of having a social media policy for your business.  Let's go over some of the things you'll want to cover in your social media policy.

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Your Company Social Media Policy Part 1

social media collageSocial media has revolutionized the way people communicate online. Social media is where discussions are had and information is shared. Over the past few years, the world has seen a remarkable shift in the way people socialize and it is not going away.

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Would a Disaster put your Company out of Business?

building on fireNobody likes thinking or talking about this (except maybe if you are in the insurance business), but businesses are fragile entities. Enough hardship and loss will greatly weaken the foundation that keeps the business running smoothly. What if your business suffered from a fire, devastating flood, or even a misfortunate bolt of lightning that destroys your server? Would you be able to pick up the pieces and start over?

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World's Third-largest Botnet Brought Down, Global Spam Cut in Half

Delete Spam keyboard keyEveryone who uses e-mail has become accustomed to finding the occasional Spam e-mail. No matter how careful you are, it's only a matter of time before you receive a Viagra testing e-mail, the South African Inheritance Tied Up in Legal Battles, or the Winning of a Sweepstakes that you never signed up for. Where do those e-mails come from?

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Work Hard? Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself

woman doing yoga while on laptop

We talk a lot about business and technology and all of that good stuff here on the Directive blog, but believe it or not, there are (at least) a couple things in life that are more important that that. One of the big ones is personal health. This goes double for all you hard workers out there who put in long stressful hours trying to run and manage your business - it's easy to forget or skip over the routines for proper health maintenance. Unfortunately, we don't offer a flat-rate remote monitoring and maintenance service for humans, but here are a few tips you can do to keep yourself in tip-top shape while on the job.

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What's New in Firefox 13

Firefox logoFor those who use Mozilla Firefox as our web browser of choice, you may have noticed that there have been a large number of updates over the past year, leaping from version 4 to the now current Firefox 13. Mozilla has been following an aggressive roadmap to improve performance and features.

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What's Bogging Down your Network?

snails racingDoes it seem like all of your technology is running a little slow at the office? Does it take longer than it should to copy files over, synchronize your inbox, and open up documents? It might not be your computer, but your entire company network causing slowdown for your entire staff.

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What to do when your Data is Breached

thermostat

This has been a pretty common topic for us on the Directive blog. We've seen a lot of Upstate New York clients and customers suffer the consequences when online retailers and other account providers experience a security breach. It is equally vital for consumers to know what to do in the event of a security breach as it is the company that is actually breached.

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What Office 365 Can Do for Oneonta Small Businesses

microsoft icon

At the beginning of the month, Microsoft officially launched Office 365. What makes this Office different from the other Office suites that Microsoft has released is that Office 365 doesn't run on your computer, it runs on a cloud server. All of your data is stored securely in the cloud on Microsoft's servers. This is great for smaller Oneonta businesses that need to access their files from anywhere but don't currently have the infrastructure in-house to make it happen.

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What is your Identity Worth to You?

man holding question over face

Your identity has quite a lot of value, especially in the wrong hands. Security firm ZoneAlarm put together some numbers in 2011 concerning identity fraud, and it even shocked us. Let's talk about a few of these statistics and what it means.

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What is Pinterest and Why It Matters to Upstate New York Businesses

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Social Media is a tough industry - the only way a good social network can succeed is by being extremely popular, and it takes a lot of criteria for that to happen. A social network site either has it or it doesn't, and Pinterest apparently has it in massive quantities.

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What is Desktop Virtualization?

computer, laptop, and smartphoneDesktop virtualization is a method in which one machine can run more than one Operating System at the same time regardless of architecture requirements. There are two models of Desktop Virtualization that will be discussed here: Local Virtualization and the Client/Server Virtualization Model.

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Virtualization Simplified

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Controlling and managing a big network with multiple servers is no small endeavor, especially keeping them maintained. On top of that, software licenses, warranties, user permissions, and security all need to be managed and controlled. As your business expands, you may need more servers in order to perform certain tasks ranging from email, file distribution, specialized software, and security management of various levels. Pretty soon your server room is beginning to look like a cramped mini data center and you need to worry about controlling the heat and maintaining multiple high-priority, mission critical machines. There's got to be a better way, right?

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Upstate New York Small businesses need Managed Technology Services

Sfrustrated businessmanmall business owners and Entrepreneurs wear many hats. They have certain strengths and a drive to make money using the skills that they have. But there are many facets to running a business. Someone needs to do the accounting, the networking, inventory, manage employees, do sales calls and more. Then, someone needs to manage the technology.

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Understanding the True Cost of Downtime for Upstate New York Businesses

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In today's IT industry, downtime can have a huge impact on your company's bottom line. When system downtime occurs, whether it affects an individual employee or the entire company, it means lost money. The definition of the term "downtime" is very ambiguous, although at Directive we consider any issue where an employee can't do their job properly due to technology not being available to be downtime. Even though an application may be up and running, it is essentially "down" to a user if the application can't be used no matter the reason.

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Understanding the Costs of Data

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If you've been using computers for a while, then there has probably been at least one point in your life that you've lost data. Maybe it was something you were working on when your computer crashed, or maybe a disk failure wiped out some data. Does this bring back memories of frustration and angst?

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Twitter Twits: 10 Epic Fails

Twitter bird shoutingWhile it may seem difficult to imagine embarrassing oneself in the space of a 140 character message, Twitter has been responsible for the downfall of companies, politicians and entire institutions. No one can deny that Twitter has been a boon for communication, politics and economics, but some people seem determined to prove that one cannot have Twitter without the word "twit." Here are a number of prominent examples from the recent past which demonstrate how Twitter's logo can swiftly become the bluebird of unhappiness for some.

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Tutorial: Master the Art of the Mail Merge, Part 1

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Want to send out a large number of documents that are almost the same aside from a few specific areas? One example would be a letter to all of your existing clients about a new product or service, but you want each letter to address the recipient's name and company. This looks like a job for the mail merge!

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Top Ten Keyboard Shortcuts To Get Things Done

typing on keyboardMicrosoft Office and Windows 7 provide many keyboard shortcuts that can improve your ability to multitask and get things accomplished quickly. Most of these shortcuts will work in previous versions, like Windows XP, Vista and the Microsoft Server Operating Systems as well. Give them a try, and the next time your tech comes by, be sure to show off your new skills.

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The Top Two Tablets On the Market Today

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Over the past couple years we've seen a huge shift in the reliability and functionality of the tablet PC. What was once was a struggling market of just a few overpriced, bulky, devices that were neither practical nor stylish has become the next big consumer product. Tablets have been making it into the business world, supplementing smartphones as a new addition to mobile arsenals. We're going to highlight the best two tablets on the market that you can buy right now.

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The Tech Predictions of 2012

2012

Granted, growing up we were made to believe that by now we'd have flying cars and robot butlers, but technologically speaking we're in a pretty great era of gadgets and conveniences that aren't just giving us cool toys to play with, but are changing the way we communicate, learn, and work. Let's look at what's in store for the world in 2012.

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The Sky is Blue, but The Cloud is Green

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Cloud computing is the new way to get things done for small businesses.  It's easy, it's secure, and it is great for the environment.  According to a report put on by the Carbon Disclosure Project, cloud computing can potentially reduce the world's carbon emissions by millions of metric tons.  The differences are wildly significant compared to running your own in-house data centers, even if you just have a server or two.

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The Many Frustrations with Relying on Tape Backup

broken tape backupIt's evident having a solid backup solution for your business data is not just important, but crucial in order to ensure the survival of your company in the event of a disaster. One backup solution involves using a magnetic tape medium to store data. Unfortunately, tape brings some inconveniences that make other solutions more appealing.

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The iPhone 4S Hits Stores Today

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The mobile smart phone market is certainly a healthy one, and powerful devices are getting into more hands (for both consumers and businesses). There are a few great selections to choose from; RIM's BlackBerry, Microsoft's Windows 7, Google's Android OS, and Apple's iPhone. The latest incarnation of the Apple iPhone hits store shelves today, although from first glance it looks the same as the previous iPhone 4. Let's take a look at some of the differences.

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The Best Defense: Universal Threat Management

UTM superheroProtecting your business network from the threats lurking on the Internet is crucial for a small business. Threats of all shapes, sizes, and severities are out there and if they get into your network you could be looking at some serious issues ranging from data theft to extended downtime. Fortunately, there is a single solution available that can deliver a total security package to protect your business from virtually any outside threat.

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Taking Microsoft OneNote With You

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Recently we mentioned Evernote as a great note taking app that is supported across multiple operating systems and mobile devices. We compared it to Microsoft OneNote as a lighter alternative that is easy to set up and sync across a plethora of devices. However, diehard fans of OneNote probably don't want to make a switch to a whole other platform. Today we're going to talk about ways to mobilize your OneNote notebooks as well as some other features that are exclusive to OneNote that you might not know about.

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Tablet Cage Match: Nexus vs. Kindle

Nexus and Kindle tabletsWhen making a tablet purchase for your business, there are many factors to take into account, such as portability, battery life, screen resolution and more. However, the most important factors are whether or not the device will actually help you get more done. Here are the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire tablets side-by-side for your comparison.

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Stolen NASA Laptop contains Space Station Control Codes

NASA spaceship

We've been blogging a bit about ways to prepare for laptop theft and what to do if a company laptop is actually stolen.  Laptop and mobile device theft is a widespread issue for businesses and can lead to data theft which can be extremely costly; much more than the mere price of the hardware. This issue is all too familiar with NASA, which admits that thousands of mobile device theft incidents have occurred over the past few years.

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Stolen Laptop Contingency Plan

thief holding laptop

We've been talking a bit about the benefits of going mobile, especially for business owners who want to get more done. One of the best benefits of a laptop computer is portability, which leads into its greatest weakness; it's easy to steal. According to the FBI, over 1 million laptops are stolen each year. If you are using your laptop for business, you'll want to take action ahead of time and employ some protective countermeasures to keep your business safe. We'll even go over some ways you can recover your stolen laptop.

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Steve Jobs and His Impact on the Tech World

Steve Jobs holding an apple

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has resigned from the consumer electronic company. Leaving behind a legacy that has made Apple considered ahead of the curve technology-wise several times, and has changed the game in the industries that he's touched. While Microsoft still rules the personal computer market globally towering over OSX's 8.3% market share, Apple has certainly played a major roll in paving a path to high-end electronics and devices over the past decade that has raised the bar for companies, and has even created a few new industries to boot.

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Speed Things Up in Outlook 2010 with Quick Steps

outlook 2010

Like any Microsoft product, Outlook 2010 has a lot of neat features that get stepped over. One of these is the Quick Step box, which is found along the top on the Home tab in Outlook 2010. Utilizing Quick Steps can shorten the time it takes you to manage your inbox.

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Spam: The Art of Deception

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If you use email, you've probably seen spam. If you think we're talking about a canned meat product, and are wondering how it relates to email, then we envy you. For everyone else, saying your inbox probably has a little spam is a dramatic understatement. Spam comes in several different flavors; ranging to inappropriate solicitations to unwanted gibberish to carefully coordinated scams. We're going to go over one of these tricky spoofs that is known to fool users.

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Spam, Seriously?

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Ever sift through all that junk mail and wonder if you are in the wrong line of work? Obviously the spam industry is working for somebody, or else it wouldn't still be running your inbox rampant with unsolicited junk, right? Spam is more than just a nuisance for small businesses. Hit the jump to find out why.

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Solid State vs Hard Disk

hard disk driveThere comes a time when you are looking at a new laptop and you are asked the question: Do you want a Solid State Drive, or a traditional Hard Disk Drive? Well here is a quick run-down of both technologies in the hopes of shedding some light on the issue. By the time you are done reading this article, you will be better able to answer that question.

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Smartphone for Business Buying Cheat Sheet

multiple smartphonesThe consumer electronics market is inundated with countless mobile devices with flashy interfaces, sleek profiles, and names that are more ridiculous than most car makes. Understandably, it's hard to keep up and when picking out a smartphone for yourself or your business, the demos at the store don't give you much of an insight.  Here's an extensive cheat sheet on what to look for when making a new smartphone purchase.

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Slow Computer? Increase your memory to boost computer Speeds

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Sometimes when your workstation feels bogged down, a relatively cheap and simply hardware update can make a huge difference in performance. Adding more RAM (Random Access Memory, often just referred to as memory) can be a game changer for your bogged down PC.

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Slash Power Costs and Boost Performance with SSD

SSD cardsCompanies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon are switching to Solid State Drives (or SSDs for short) in a push for greater performance with reduced operating and hardware costs. Reduced hardware costs? Yes, while Solid State Drives are more expensive than traditional hard drives, they afford certain advantages over the legacy storage hardware.

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Simple Math: Less Focus on IT Equals More Focus on Your Business

2 + 2 chalkboard

You are an expert in your field, right? Whether you sell a product or commit to a batch of service offerings, you know your job and you know it well. We're guessing you have some great employees who know their job well too, right? You hired them because of their drive, interest, and possibly knowledge in the field (or you spend plenty of time teaching and training them). So when someone's computer goes down, why should they waste their time trying to fix it?

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Should Your Upstate New York Business Virtualize?

computer serversServer Virtualization sounds like a phrase from late 1990's science fiction, but it plays a big role for small and medium-sized businesses that want to cut down on the costs of housing and maintaining multiple servers at their location. What is it and how does it work?

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Securing your Wi-Fi is More Important Than Ever

data lockDoes your Wi-Fi require a secure password to allow users to access your network with their mobile devices? And no, the word "password" is not a suitable password. If your wireless network is easy to gain access to, you are opening up your sensitive data to anyone within range.

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Scareware - The Latest Trend in Cyber Frauds and Malware

laptop that says danger

Computer viruses and malware have been around for a long time, and cybercriminals have always tried to package their malevolent doings under a veil of deception. One method that has been in place for a while now is called scareware. Often disguised as something that appears to want to help your computer, scareware will scam users into paying for a service that isn't beneficial.

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Running Business on the Road

person's desk set up on beach

Business owners and executives aren't always chained to their desk. Sometimes opportunities take you out of the office, out of town, and on the road. Traveling to vendor shows, conferences, training, expos, or even hitting the greens for a few days doesn't mean you need to be totally inaccessible. It's becoming increasingly simple to for the traveling business person to stay connected and get things done even when not at the office.

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Resize Image Attachments in Outlook

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Most digital cameras produce very high resolution images, which is fantastic for printing, but higher quality image files means larger file sizes, and these days images aren't quite as portable as they used to be. Fortunately, Outlook has a great feature to reduce the size of image attachments for you.

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Removing the Hidden Data in Microsoft Word

magnifying glass over bookMost people might not realize this, but a Microsoft Word Doc can retain a lot of information pertaining to the history of the document, your personal information, annotations, and other invisible elements. This can be a huge security risk! Read on to learn how to remove that extra information.

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Remote Support Improves Everything

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For some small businesses around Upstate New York, administrative IT tasks and computer support are done the old fashioned way; either over the phone or on-premise. These traditional methods are a major waste of time and money, and can lead to plenty of unproductive behavior very quickly.  Today we're going to examine how remote technical support can benefit businesses.

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Remember Everything from Everywhere with Evernote

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Are you the kind of person who takes meticulous notes? Do you carry around a pen and pad with you so you never forget a single line item from meetings, presentations, or your grocery list? Enter Evernote, a free application that gives you an easy-to-use note taking solution that syncs your notes across multiple devices.

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Ransomware Wants You to Pay Up

suitcase full of moneyEver since the Internet became a household commodity, many viruses and malware have donned a social mask; causing harm to computers and data but doing so by deceiving the user. One form of this is ransomware, a type of malware that locks users out of their computer until they pay a toll.

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Quick Tip - Generate a Sum or Average in Excel 2010

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Microsoft's Excel may look daunting, but it can be incredibly useful for presenting and organizing massive amounts of data. While it is capable of letting you put together advanced formulas, much of the time it's just nice to see a sum of a column of figures.

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