Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tip of the Week: Provide Your Team With Additional Monitors to Improve Productivity

One of the many ways that businesses improve productivity is by issuing employees multiple monitors for work purposes. Just like any benefit, though, there are some disadvantages to watch out for when using multiple monitors. Here are just a few of them.
The major reason that any employee would want to use multiple monitors is that they will have twice the space in which to get work done, through multitasking. One classic example of this is to research a particular topic, and use that research in another tab or document. Another practical use for dual monitors is to have your email on one screen so you can stay in touch with the rest of your employees at all times. This helps you manage tasks more efficiently.
If you’re using a laptop, you can connect an external monitor, provided that your laptop has the required ports. This allows you to use multiple monitors in any situation, as long as you have the proper technology. To an extent, mobile devices, or technologies like Google Chromecast, can be used to add another screen to your desktop workstation. A smartphone can help you monitor your inbox, while allowing you to have one less tab open.
One of the biggest reasons your organization may not be going all-out and purchasing new monitors for your employees are the up-front costs. Good reliable monitors aren’t cheap, which can make it difficult for businesses to justify spending so much of their IT budget on them, especially if they aren’t necessary. It’s also important to consider how much space they take up, and whether or not your employees have enough space on their desks for an extra monitor.
Additionally, employees may be subject to the many distractions afforded by having multiple monitors. For example, an employee who grows disengaged with their current task may open YouTube on their second monitor as a means to pass the time while working; leading to a less productive workday, and a lesser quality end result. Even if it looks like they’re being productive, dual monitors, unless properly implemented, can lead to wasted time. It’s your responsibility to educate your employees on dual screen best practices, but a content filtering solution from Net It On can also influence your team’s work ethic.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Presidents Cup Army / Marist / Vassar 4-24-16

It was a great day on the Hudson, the river was a little sketchy causing a an hour delay but all the races occured. So proud of Vincent and the Vassar rowing team.

Friday, April 22, 2016

4 Proven Ways to Beat Office Distractions

Let’s face it; the office is a pretty distracting place most of the time. You have people in meetings, discussions happening around every corner, the phone ringing every thirty seconds, and emails hitting your inbox left and right. With so much happening around you, how in the world are you supposed to get anything done?
Here are four of the most distracting parts of working in an office environment, and how you can easily beat them to improve productivity.
Some of your employees receive countless emails every day, to the point where trying to keep up with their inbox is the most distracting part of the workday. In fact, you might even know for yourself how difficult email can be to manage. If you’re constantly replying to emails as they come in, how can you get any work done?
To beat this, try only checking your email three times a day. Doing so allows you to focus on your work and feel less stressed about immediate responses. This strategy affords you more time to get work done throughout the day. What you need to do is set aside time for doing nothing but reply to emails. Try doing this once in the morning, again around midday, and at the end of the day. You’ll be amazed by how much more work you get done and how freeing it can be. If something is really important, you should count on your co-workers to use a more immediate communication medium, like a phone call or IM.
People in Meetings and/or Collaborating
Many businesses have turned to the open office environment, where cubicles are removed in favor of a more open and collaborative workplace. While this can be great at times for teams that need to communicate with each other, the more autonomous departments will be distracted by conversations happening around them, regardless of whether or not it pertains to them. When employees can’t focus, they can’t get work done.
To fix this issue, your office needs dedicated meeting rooms that should be scheduled out and used as often as possible. This keeps the office relatively quiet for those that need to concentrate on their work. Or, if you have a BYOD policy and your team has laptops they can use, you can let them choose where they want to work in the building (or even outside). If they can find a nice quiet corner somewhere in the office, they’ll get more work done.
Chatter and Gossip
Every office has people who like to chat once in awhile, but sometimes this chatting can become a problem if left unchecked. People are easily distracted by nature, so even the most diligent worker can find it difficult to work when they want to offer their two cents in on a conversation. This trap is easy to fall into, especially in the open office environment where there’s no privacy for anyone.
The answer to this issue is simple; either separate yourself from the room, or get lost in a good noise-cancelling pair of headphones that are designed to help you keep to yourself. You can make this easier for your employees by providing each of them with a pair of comfortable, quality headphones.
The Internet
No matter how diligent you and your workers are, you’re all bound to get distracted by the wonders of the Internet at some point. Whether it’s social media, YouTube, or memes, your workers can, and will, get distracted by the endless possibilities that the Internet offers. Therefore, it’s your job to make sure that they are aware of how to manage their time and to indulge in these distractions sparingly.
If you’re still running into productivity problems, you can implement a web content filtering solution, which is designed to limit employees’ exposure to dangerous or time-wasting websites on the Internet. You can filter content on a per-user basis, so you can allow your responsible employees to indulge in casual browsing from time to time as long as they get their work done, while keeping the wasteful employees away from such sites.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tip of the Week: Creating a New Google Account? Here’s How to Transfer Your Contacts

Does your organization use Google Apps for Business? It’s likely you use Google Contacts to store contacts. It’s an ideal tool for business professionals who are constantly on the move, but the real value that it presents is its instantaneous access to work contacts through Android devices. For this week’s tip, we’ll walk you through how to import and export your Google Contacts to a different Google, Outlook, or Apple account.
Export Your Google Contacts
To get started, make sure that you’re signed into the account for which you want to export your contacts from. If you’re signed into Gmail, you will see your contacts by clicking on Gmail in the top-left corner, and selectingContacts from the drop-down menu. You’ll be shown the Google Contacts interface. Next, look at the center menu and click More > Export.
Next, choose which contacts that you want to export. You should select either individuals, specific groups, or all of your contacts. You’ll then need to choose the format that you want to use. Depending on where your contacts are going, you’ll need to choose a different file format. For a Google account, use the Google CSV format. For a Microsoft Outlook account, use the Outlook CSV format. For the Apple Address Book, use the vCard format. Click Export and save the file.
Import Your Contacts To Another Google Account
All you have to do to import your contacts is select the CSV file that you just saved, and upload it to your Gmail account. Here’s a quick guide for how it’s done:
  • Log into your Google account where you want your contacts to be.
  • Access Google Contacts.
  • Above the contacts list, click More > Import.
  • Choose the file you want to upload. In this case, it’ll be the CSV file that you just created.
  • Click Import.
Once you’ve done this, you should see your contacts appear in the app.
You can also import your contacts into Outlook, and any CRM solution that lets you import from a CSV file.
The most important thing to remember is that you can do this process easily on your Android device. Doing so allows you to change the Google account on your Android smartphone without wiping data from your device; contacts included. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

This Computer Software Can Probably Write a Better Story Than You

Artificial intelligence is still a long way off, but this doesn’t stop people from trying to make major advancements in how AI thinks. Take, for example, a Japanese novella (a short novel) co-written by AI that almost won the Hoshi Shinichi Award literary prize. That’s the key word here, though: almost. It seems that AI still has quite a bit of progress to make before it can effectively replicate human creativity.
The story, aptly titled The Day a Computer Writes a Novel, tells a tale of a computer that grows tired of serving its human masters, and instead devotes its time and effort into writing and other art forms. If it sounds like a plot that’s too good to have been created by artificial intelligence, that’s because it wasn’t. Humans created the premise of the plot and the characters, while the AI itself handled the bulk of the writing.
Ironically, the story itself was relatively decent, and received praise from established Japanese sci-fi author Satoshi Hase, citing that the plot was well-done but lacked character development. Granted, this shouldn’t be surprising. A computer might be able to get from point A to point B, but it almost always falls short in regards to understanding human behavior. While this incident shows that computer AI has certainly made great strides toward becoming autonomous, it still reveals that there’s only so much that it can do, at present, without human interaction.
Humans may be flawed, but computers have a dangerous tendency to lean toward logistics rather than appeal to natural, or “human-like” reasoning. This is why they’re so great for accomplishing goals that have an end in sight. For example, an artificial intelligence program created by Google was able to beat a world-class player of Go, an ancient Eastern strategy game that resembles chess. The common trend amongst these is that they rely on a certain set of possibilities, and they will take the course of action that presents the minimal rate of failure. Speaking of Google, the same ideas are going into their self-driving cars.
What we would like to know is whether the people creating artificially intelligent programs fully understand the ramifications of doing so. What happens if computers are capable of creating and interpreting art, like the written word? Is it wise to create computers that can think and feel the same way that humans do? Even if it’s for the greater good, a computer that can think for itself could be a dangerous investment. Anyone who has watched a cheesy sci-fi movie knows how this innovation can go horribly wrong.
We see another example of how AI can go off the beaten path in the form of Microsoft’s Twitter chat bot, Tay. Tay was designed to replicate the “conversational understanding” of a teenage girl, but it wound up being taught by Internet trolls in a way which wasn’t foreseen at all. Tay was supposed to get smarter and engage in conversation with Twitter users, but in only a few short hours, the bot was spouting off misogynistic and racist quotes from well-known controversial figures. The Verge describes Tay as a “robot parrot with an Internet connection,” which presents an interesting and somewhat scary possibility: how can we implement AI that learns from society, while also sheltering it from the hate, ignorance, and troublemakers?
What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence? Do you think it’s a trend that can be beneficial for humanity, or do you think that it will eventually overtake and eliminate what makes us truly human? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog.

Why You Should Consider These Alternative Security Measures Over Passwords

As time goes on, the password has proven time and again that it’s not going to be enough to keep hackers out of online accounts and other sensitive parts of your IT infrastructure. One of the most valuable responses to this development was two-factor authentication, which is part of a more complex overarching trend that involves much more than simple two-factor authentication.
That’s not to say that two-factor authentication doesn’t play an important role in data security. In fact, it’s one of the most important parts of doing so. By providing a secondary layer of credentials that are required to access important data, you’re effectively making it much more difficult to access critical information. This means that hackers will be less likely to attempt to get in. Taking simple steps like two-factor authentication to keep them at bay can have incredible results.
Other types of multi-factor authentication include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Biometric scanning: Fingerprints, iris and retina scans, facial-recognition software, voice recognition software, hand shape, and other physical variables.
  • Location factors: GPS tracking, used in many smartphones, can be used to ensure that logins are occurring from legitimate devices rather than from illogical IP addresses.
  • Possession factors: If a user has specific devices on their person, like a key card or a smartphone, they have access to several forms of multi-factor authentication procedures.
Multi-factor Authentication Technologies
There are several different types of technology that utilize multi-factor authentication, many of which require either a hardware-based or software-based security token. This can come in the form of a small piece of hardware, like a USB dongle, while others can automatically generate a single-use login credential that’s sent to a smartphone. These are by far the most popular versions of multi-factor authentication, primarily due to the fact that so many business professionals own a smartphone.
Other security practices that can be considered include employee ID cards or GPS technology from smartphones to verify physical location. There are also embeddable smart chips that some of the more dedicated people in the world plant in their hands, but that’s a story for another day. The main idea here is that you want to take advantage of technologies that can keep hackers and trespassers out of your office, and its infrastructure, whenever possible.