MicroKnowledge, Inc.
21 British American Blvd.
Latham, NY 12110
Phone: 518.786.1181
Fax: 518.786.6221

MK Blog

What's new in Technology


ENTER KEYWORD

« Return to MK Blog

The One Heartbeat We Won’t Like
Posted: April 14, 2014


Last week brought us news of the Heartbleed bug.  A bug that acts the same way as a lull in a standard transmission between computer and a secure site such as a bank, sending what might seem like a hearbeat signal to verify the computers are attached to each other.  Once in, your confidential information, such as account numbers and passwords, could be stolen.

Although banks and other sites are rapidly dealing with this latest breach, you should still take some precautions of your own.  What steps can you take to feel more comfortable about your online data?

Change your passwords regularly.  Most businesses choose a schedule of 30 to 90 days.  Strong passwords are those of 8 or more characters compromised of letters, numbers and symbols.  Assume your passwords have been compromised due to this breach and change them.

Purchase virus protection software.  Once purchased, make sure you keep the software up to date, updating whenever you are prompted.  You should also plan on scanning your systems weekly.  This can usually be done unattended.

Run updates on your computers and other devices.  In addition to virus software updates, your business productivity software and operating systems, particularly on a PC, require updates to secure the device on which it runs.  These updates happen daily so make sure you update at least once a week.  If you have any computers with the Windows XP operating system, upgrade the operating system immediately to Windows 7 or Windows 8.  Security patches for the Windows XP software are no longer being sent.

Watch where you surf.  Although the Internet has a wealth of information, some sites were designed to spread malicious viruses and spam.  Watch for signs that show the site is secure.  When searching on the Internet your virus software may attach a logo to a search result indicating the site is virus free.

Following these four recommendations will help you keep your computer current and allow you to continue enjoying conveniences the Internet and technology have given you.

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

Category: What's new in Technology

The Power of the Cloud
Posted: March 6, 2014


Whenever we spoke of the cloud in the past, there were concerns regarding the security and safety of your files.  It seems that the security concerns have now been addressed and most of you are utilizing the cloud in one way or another.  Perhaps you are utilizing it for storage or sharing files and pictures.  Businesses are certainly taking advantage of all the cloud has to offer.  Business software has never been more affordable with both the software and the technology expertise needed to run the software available for a nominal monthly fee per user.  The cloud has offered a perfect way for small businesses to take advantage of some great technologies with minimal cost.

Software

Microsoft now offers Office 365, a subscription that provides the Office 2013 suite, an Exchange Server and SharePoint.  The software typically cost businesses thousands of dollars in software, technology and resources.  Now, smaller businesses can take advantage of the same technologies, utilize infrastructures only possible in larger corporations and save money doing it.

Adobe Creative Cloud also offers a subscription for its core applications, more than 15 of them as a matter of fact. This is a group of amazing software that helps small business be able to afford to become their own graphic artist, web designers and producers.

Google Docs Suite is a free software tool incorporating documents, spreadsheets, presentations and email.  It is great tool for those who want their items in one location, and you can’t beat the cost.

Storage

Dropbox is leading software in the business world for sharing and collaborating with files.  A free edition is available with the opportunity to upgrade if more storage is needed.  However, if you invite friends you get additional storage space when they sign up.

OneDrive is Microsoft’s version of cloud storage.  Similar to Dropbox, you start out with free storage with the opportunity to upgrade if you need more.  The benefit of a OneDrive account is that it will link directly to your Office products as a readily available option for storage.

Google Drive is another option for storage and sharing data and is a part of the Google Docs suite rounding out Google Docs free suite.

If you are interested in utilizing the cloud, the options outlined above are a great way to start.  As time goes on, more and more options will become available.  Are there any other cloud software and storage options you use?

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

Category: What's new in Technology

Keeping those Goals and Resolutions
Posted: January 7, 2014


Did you make any New Year resolutions?  If you did, you are not alone.  Approximately 45% of Americans do.  Your technology can help you keep those resolutions!  If you use Outlook (or any email/calendaring program) and a smartphone you have the tools on hand to succeed at several resolutions and goals.

Goal setting tips:

Be realistic.  If your resolution is to go to the gym every day but you have only gone to the gym to renew your membership, then set a goal of going a few days a week.  Consistency is the key to success so select set days such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Prioritize your goals.  Make a list of everything you want to accomplish in 2014 and then prioritize them.  Choose the top three or five, depending on their complexity, and go from there.

Bring a friend.  A friend becomes a fantastic accountability partner.  We tend to get things done if we know someone is waiting for us.

Use your technology:

The Outlook calendar and your smartphone can provide tremendous support for achieving your goals.

Setting a goal to get to the gym?  Create a repeating appointment on your calendar for the gym.  We tend not to break meetings and appointments on our calendar.  Set a reminder with enough time for you to get ready before you go to the gym.  If it take you 30 minutes to get ready before you head out the door, then your reminder should be set 30 minutes out.

Don’t forget your friends.  Make your appointment a meeting and invite them!  You will all be accountable to each other.

Schedule the things you don’t find time to do.  Want to eat healthier?  Then schedule an appointment to pack your lunch for the week (each evening) or prep your meals in advance.

Your children want to go to the park on Saturday.  Put it on the schedule.  If they have technology, invite them to a meeting or write it on the family calendar for all to see.

Don’t forget the goals that didn’t make the top of your list.  Make an appointment around December 30th of the new year (or a few weeks sooner) and list the goals you wanted to accomplish that didn’t make the list this year.

It’s not too late to create a new goal for the year!  Have fun, use your technology to help you succeed and Happy New Year!

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

Category: What's new in Technology

Best Gadget Gifts of 2013
Posted: December 18, 2013


Best gadget gifts of 2013

Looking for the perfect gift for your gadget geek?  Well, look no further because I have quite the list for you!  Whether your gadget geek needs these gifts for work or play, there is something here for everyone and every budget.

Let’s talk smartphones!  You have a variety of choices when it comes to purchasing a smartphone.  If you are looking at an android phone then look no further than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone.  A leader in the android industry, the Samsung Galaxy is so versatile it would make you dinner if it could (the smartphone can help you find dinner).

Tack on the Samsung Galaxy Gear and you have yourself a watch that keeps you connected at a glance.  Email, text and talk from your wrist.

Is your notebook computer weighing you down?  Try a tablet!  Whether you are a fan of android, Windows or iOS, you have options.  Try the Google Nexus 7 android tablet, the Microsoft Surface Pro as the best business Windows tablet and the Apple iPad Air as the newest option in the iOS offerings.

We all suffer from the lack of battery power when we need it most.  If you own an iPhone, then try the PowerPak+ High Capacity Portable Charger.

Need something a little more portable?  Try the Portable Power Pack External Battery with Back Cover for iPhone 5.  The portable charger slips onto your iPhone like a case and gives you extra battery power in a jiffy.

If you have access to an electrical outlet and own several different devices, try the Power Practical Meter and Fast Charge Cable.  With adapters from 30-pin, USB Micro and USB Mini, this cable adapter has built-in circuits to get you charged in no time.

Need a place to store your phone?  No desk would be complete without the Beanbag Cellphone Chair.  Even your cell phone needs a break every now and then.

We all take pictures with our cell phone.  Make them more professional with the Olloclip iPhone Camera Lens System.  This lens fits over your iPhone giving you fisheye, wide-angle, and macro lenses in a tiny and convenient package.

With all these gadgets at our fingertips, we can’t forget gadget friendly gloves.  Keep your hands warm while engaging with your technical devices.

Do you use your smartphone as a GPS?  I rely on my phone exclusively when I travel.  When you find the perfect phone, Pro Clip USA has a large range of selections for mounting the phone in your car.  And, if you are traveling, here are some great Bluetooth headset options.

I would remiss if I didn’t mention the perfect app for your Smartphone.  An iTunes gift card can be your best go-to gift this year, but pair it with a list of the 50 Best Free Apps of 2013 and you will help your gadget geek save money and still be productive.

Happy shopping!

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

Category: What's new in Technology

iOS7 Battery Saving Tips
Posted: November 7, 2013


I still love iOS7 but, like you, I am dealing with trying to extend the battery power of my apple devices for as long as I can.  I have tried these latest tips and thought I would share them with you.

Background App Refresh

This lets apps run in the background while you are multi-tasking and continually refreshes content when running on Wi-Fi or a cellular network.  You can either go into Settings, General Background App Refresh to turn if off completely or choose which apps you want to refresh.

Location Services

Even apps such as the iOS camera are tracking your location.  Turn Location Services off completely in Settings, Privacy, Location Services or pick and choose the applications to track.  You should keep tracking services on apps such as Find my Phone, etc.

Siri

Even if you find Siri helpful, unless you constantly pick up your phone and ask Siri a question, you might want to turn off the Raise to Speak feature.  To turn off the feature, choose Settings, General, Siri, Raise to Speak.  

AirDrop

A great feature when you want to share files with others but AirDrop discovery mode is battery drainer when you’re not in the sharing mood.  To turn off AirDrop, swipe up from your home screen to enter Control Center, tap AirDrop and select Off.

Wallpaper

iOS 7 has added animated wallpapers.  Although they may add a little pizazz to your phone or iPad, they drain your battery unnecessarily.  Change to a static wallpaper by choosing Settings, Wallpaper & Brightness, Wallpaper.

Screen Brightness

Your apple device is probably bright enough (probably too bright) so lower the brightness to save some battery power.  Change the brightness by either swiping up from the home screen or choosing Settings, Brightness.

Hope these help!  Do you  have any iOS 7 tips to share?

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!


Category: What's new in Technology

iOS 7 Friend or Foe
Posted: October 15, 2013


Last month I wrote about Siri’s abilities and then only days later iOS 7 was released.  Not only did Siri get an update, but there are also some hidden treasures or at least ways to turn off some of the features you don’t like.  I upgraded all my devices and for the most part, I like what I see.  Like you, I am puzzled by some features so naturally I had to do a little research and have found some cool tricks that I would love to share.

Battery

Save your battery power.  iOS 7 definitely has more bells and whistles which means more battery power is being used regularly.  Here are a few tips:

Does the floating appearance of the apps on the background make you queasy?  This is called Parallax effect.  You can easily turn this setting off.  Choose Settings, Accessibility, turn on Reduce Motion.  You’ll save a little battery power, too.

Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth using the new controls.  You will save battery power if you don’t need these features immediately.  Slide up from the bottom of the screen to display the controls.  To turn on/off Wi-Fi or Bluetooth features tap the feature graphic.  While you are there check out the Do Not Disturb feature.  Although this feature is not new, you can control when you hear your myriad of tweeps, bells and buzzes.

Background Updates are automatically being installed on your devices.  Some might consider this a great feature; however, if you are low on battery you might want to control when this occurs.  To turn off the automatic updates feature choose Settings, iTunes and App Store, turn off Updates.  This will also stop new purchases on another device automatically downloading on your device.

Siri

You now have a new and improved Siri.  Siri can now be a “he” if you prefer.  Choose General, Siri, and Voice Gender.

If you have a contact whose name is tricky to pronounce, you can teach Siri. Start by saying, “That’s not how you pronounce <name of person>’s name.”  Siri will then ask you to pronounce it and she/he should then get it right from then on.  Check here for more tips on Siri and see what other features have been added.

New Features

Wanting the tap share that came with the Samsung Galaxy, Apple responded with AirDrop.  AirDrop allows you to share files with other iPhone users (almost all iOS 7 users except a Mac computer).  As long as the app is AirDrop capable, you can share away.

Apple has also responded by allowing calls and texts to be blocked from certain callers.  Certainly a great feature for those of you who disconnected your land line and have gone solely to your cell phone.  There are a number of articles for blocking callers.  Here is an article from Techhive.

As you can see, there are a number of new features that could make your life easier.  What is your favorite new feature?

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

Category: What's new in Technology

My Digital Assistant
Posted: September 13, 2013


I have a digital assistant.  Her name is Siri and she is incredibly helpful.  You may know her, too; she came with your iPhone.  Do you use Siri?  Siri is an intelligent personal assistant available on various iPhones and iPads.  I wanted to explore her functionality more and was excited by what I learned.

I have always found Siri to be invaluable when I want to make calls, send texts and get driving directions.  Recently, I have begun using Siri to update my Facebook status, use Face Time with my family and find my friends.  In addition, I recently associated my family members with their names so I can say things like, “Call my sister” and Siri will make the call.  Love it!

I know Siri isn’t perfect.  I have had my share of difficulties with Siri not hearing my request correctly, but when she does understand, she has been spot on.  When she hasn’t , the results have been quite funny.

If you have difficulty getting Siri to respond well, here are a few tips:

  • Speak in a normal voice.  As long as you have good cell reception, Siri should understand.
  • Try to make a request in one step.  Too many requests may lead to interesting errors.  Use run on sentences, Siri will get it:  “Make an appointment on Tuesday at 1 p.m. for a haircut.”
  • Associate your friends and family members so you have a shortcut to the folks you call the most.  For example saying, “Call Mom” should trigger Siri to ask you who Mom is.  Once the association is made, your calls are as easy as, well, “Call Mom!”
  • If some of the names in your contact list are difficult for Siri to understand, use the Nicknames field in the contacts to enter the phonetic spelling of the name so Siri understands.

I’m still exploring.  I’ll let you know if I come up with anything unique.  What are some of your requests to Siri?

Here are some more tips and fun articles regarding Siri:

Siri Tips

Funny things Siri Says

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

Category: What's new in Technology

3D Printing
Posted: August 13, 2013


Last month, I blogged about wireless printing. Although this kind of printing is not new, the technologies being adapted through wireless printing, such as AirPrint and ePrint, are becoming more mainstream.  So you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that we have had the ability to print in 3D for many years.  Typically, 3D printing was reserved for commercial printers that had the space, time and stock polymers for the printers.

Today, commercial 3D printing is being used to create larger and more usable items, from car parts to prosthetics.  The benefit of 3D printing is items incredibly expensive to make — starting at $10,000 — can be “printed” for less than $100.  Huge inroads are being made in the medical community and in manufacturing through 3D printing, to the point where we are seeing major changes in these industries.

Although 3D printers are still a bit pricey for the average person (starting at more than $1,500), they are becoming popular with hobbyists. Desktop 3D printers can be used to create small parts and small functional objects.  Hobbyists can now print their own figurines and small parts, paint and put them together for a fraction of the cost (not including the original cost of the printer).  3D printing kits are available for iPhone cases, napkin holders, and toy parts, to name a few.

Doesn’t the technology sound exciting?  However, even if money were not a concern, here are a few reasons you might be better off waiting to make your 3D printer purchase.

  • Too pricey.  Although you don’t have to take out a mortgage to buy a 3D printer, the cost of the printer filament (similar to a specially made plastic strip) and other printer accessories can add up.  Although a toy part may only cost $1 to print, you may have had an initial investment of $3,000 to do it.
  • High maintenance.  Printers need to be cleaned after each use to get the best object.
  • Too slow.  Desktop 3D printers may take several hours to finish printing your model.  If your time were money, we are back to the pricey item.
  • Too dangerous.  You are basically printing with melted plastic in your home.  As a matter of fact, as I write this post a co-worker mentioned an article just released on how 3D printing is hazardous to your health.

I’m looking forward to the progression of 3D printers and will leave the printing to the professionals for now, but in five years, who knows.

Want more?

Guide to 3D printing

Is 3D printing Overhyped?

3D printing a time consuming luxury

Top 3D printers

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

Category: What's new in Technology

Wireless Printing
Posted: July 7, 2013


Although printer sales dropped when tablets and smartphones hit the market there was still a need to print.  Wireless and more specifically, wireless with AirPrint technology has become a necessity.

Wireless printing is a convenience and cost savings to businesses.  With wireless printing there are no extraneous cables, purchasing one or two printers is enough to run a small business, and the ability to locate printers in centralized locations are some of the draws for business owners.  Wireless printing is still common in businesses due to their convenience factors and the ability for most to be able to fax, copy, and scan.  Is your business looking to purchase a wireless printer? If so, take a look at Toptenreviews.com for the 2013 top 10 wireless printers.

Air printers became important as more and more business integrated iPads and iPhones.  Businesses needed the ability to print from all devices and air printing filled the need.  AirPrint, first introduced by Apple in iOS 4.2, is now available on over 200 printers.  Air printing is possible as long as the devices are on the same wireless network.  If you are in need of an AirPrint capable printer, review the article from PC Magazine regarding its list of Top 10 Best AirPrint Printers.

In addition, most HP’s capable of AirPrint also are capable of ePrint. ePrint is the ability to print using email which means you can print from anywhere!  However, if you do not have an AirPrint capable printer, Lantronix xPrintServer may have a solution.  Lantronix has created a device that plugs into your printer to make your printer capable of AirPrint.

Want more from your printing devices?  Look for my upcoming blog on 3D printing.

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

Category: What's new in Technology

What’s New in Operating Systems?
Posted: June 25, 2013


I have written several posts on smartphones and how the operating system was the deciding factor when I went to make a purchase.  I eventually went with an iPhone 5 and am happy with my choice.  My choice was fairly simple, iOS and Android.  Now there are several operating systems, giving us not only great smartphone options but also matching tablet and computer options.  Love that one OS fits all solutions, making life simpler!

Let’s take a look at your options now:

Apple’s iOS is a popular operating system primarily because Apple was at the forefront of innovations that changed how we worked and where.  The touch enabled OS was and is still cool and convenient.  One of the biggest complaints is that the OS is not flash enabled, meaning that interactivity with video, websites and apps could be limited.

Google’s Android operating system has been gaining in popularity and has been giving Apple a run for its money in recent years.  Google has been keeping its OS and name out there through great tools such as Google Apps, Chrome browser and Google, its invaluable search engine.  In addition, the tablets hosting the Android operating system, such as the Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Note, seem to be doing well.

Windows 8 was Microsoft’s attempt at getting into the tablet world and since Microsoft has a large business following it is looking as though Windows 8 will be a viable smartphone and tablet option.  Carving a niche out of the market with its Windows smartphone and the Surface tablet, Windows will make a great choice, particularly if you rely on the popular Office suite of productivity tools.  Looking forward to seeing what this software giant has in store for us.

FxOS is Mozilla’s operating system.  The newest OS to the market, Firefox OS is luring fans of its popular Firefox web browser with promises to allow users to run applications developed entirely using HTML, JavaScript.  Even if you don’t understand these technologies, the progress will be exciting to watch.

As you can see there are quite a few options.  Your preference will most likely be based on a multitude of factors including function, convenience and cost.  Which OS is your favorite and why?

Author:  Lisa Ryan lryan@microknowledge.com

Remember, if you are a MicroKnowledge customer and have a software question to ask, feel free to contact us at any time by using our Support link at the top of the site. Your question might be featured in our next blog entry!

 

Category: What's new in Technology


microknowledge.com is proudly powered by WordPress | Design by Trampoline-Design | Follow Us on Google + Google+ | Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to RSS