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October 8th, 2014

AndroidTablet_Oct07_BOn your Android tablet you likely have a number of messaging apps installed. One of the more common is Google Hangouts, which allows for cross-platform messaging, chatting, and even calling. In recent months, the app has been updated to not only increase usability and looks, but also implement new calling features.

Looking at the new version of Hangouts

In late September, Google launched a new version of Hangouts for Android devices. With it came a new redesign that reflects the upcoming Android L's Material Design look. When you update and launch the app you will notice that it has changed slightly, with a light green bar across the top and three to four icons:
  • A person: Tapping this will show you your connections, ranked by frequent contacts first, then alphabetical after that. Selecting a contact will open up either a new chat (if you have never messaged the person before), or will open up an ongoing chat (if you have messaged them before).
  • A speech bubble: Tapping this will open up existing chats and SMSs (if you have a SIM card for your device) listed in chronological order.
  • A plus sign: Tapping this will allow you to search for a contact to either start a new chat with, or continue chatting with.
  • A phone: This is a new connectable app called Google Hangouts Dialer (more on that below). It may not show up on some devices.
Tapping your name at the top of the bar will slide a menu in from the left with a number of options including: Invites, Archived conversations, Moods, Settings, etc. Overall, the new update makes the app look much better and even easier to navigate.

Looking at Hangouts Dialer

Since 2009, Google has offered VoIP-like calling features through an app called Google Voice. People who signed up for this could make low cost or free calls to anywhere in the US and Canada, and some other countries as well. Like most other VoIP services, they could also call internationally for low rates.

Users in the US could also pick a local number which could be used for incoming calls. When anyone dialed that number, as they would any other mobile or landline number, the call would go over the Internet or data connection. What is interesting about this is that the number was free, so anyone with an existing data connection or Wi-Fi could theoretically obtain a free phone number.

Earlier this year, rumor broke that Google was going to be getting rid of Google Voice. Instead, the company announced that they would be merging it into Google Hangouts, thereby bringing VoIP calling and Google Voice features into the already useful chat app.

In mid September, shortly after the main Hangouts update, the company introduced the Hangouts Dialer app which, when installed, essentially turns the app into a phone. For those with Google Voice accounts, you will be able to migrate your account into Hangouts and continue using the service as you ordinarily would.

Migrating Google Voice to Hangouts

This migration can be done by launching either Hangouts or Voice. You should see a box pop-up on Hangouts asking you if you want to turn on phone calling in Hangouts. If you select yes, you will need to download the Hangouts Dialer app. From here, open the Google Voice app and you should see a blue box at the top asking you if you would like to migrate to Hangouts. Pressing Turn it on! will start the migration.

Once this is complete, you can use either the Hangouts Dialer or Hangouts app to place VoIP or Google Voice calls. For those who don't have Google Voice, or who live in an area where it isn't available, you can still call other contacts using Hangout's VoIP functionality. Just open a chat, and tap on the phone icon at the top of the screen.

This feature, while currently limited to users in the US and Canada, is great for tablet users who are looking for a way to connect to the office, but don't want to shell out for both a tablet and a phone. If you would like to learn more about this app, or how Android tablets can fit into your organization, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 1st, 2014

BCP_Sep29_BWhen it comes to business continuity, many business owners are aware of the fact that a disaster can happen at any time, and therefore take steps to prepare for this, usually by implementing a continuity plan. However, the reality is that many businesses implement plans that could lead to business failure. One way to avoid this with your continuity strategy is to know about the common ways these plans can fail.

There are many ways a business continuity or backup and recovery plan may fail, but if you know about the most common reasons then you can better plan to overcome these obstacles, which in turn will give you a better chance of surviving a disaster.

1. Not customizing a plan

Some companies take a plan that was developed for another organization and copy it word-for-word. While the general plan will often follow the same structure throughout most organizations, each business is different so what may work for one, won't necessarily work for another. When a disaster happens, you could find that elements of the plan are simply not working, resulting in recovery delays or worse. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that the plan you adopt works for your organization.

It is also essential to customize a plan to respond to different departments or roles within an organization. While an overarching business continuity plan is great, you are going to need to tailor it for each department. For example, systems recovery order may be different for marketing when compared with finance. If you keep the plan the same for all roles, you could face ineffective recovery or confusion as to what is needed, ultimately leading to a loss of business.

2. Action plans that contain too much information

One common failing of business continuity plans is that they contain too much information in key parts of the plan. This is largely because many companies make the mistake of keeping the whole plan in one long document or binder. While this makes finding the plan easier, it makes actually enacting it far more difficult. During a disaster, you don't want your staff and key members flipping through pages and pages of useless information in order to figure out what they should be doing. This could actually end up exacerbating the problem.

Instead, try keeping action plans - what needs to be done during an emergency - separate from the overall plan. This could mean keeping individual plans in a separate document in the same folder, or a separate binder that is kept beside the total plan. Doing this will speed up action time, making it far easier for people to do their jobs when they need to.

3. Failing to properly define the scope

The scope of the plan, or who it pertains to, is important to define. Does the plan you are developing cover the whole organization, or just specific departments? If you fail to properly define who the plan is for, and what it covers there could be confusion when it comes to actually enacting it.

While you or some managers may have the scope defined in your heads, there is always a chance that you may not be there when disaster strikes, and therefore applying the plan effectively will likely not happen. What you need to do is properly define the scope within the plan, and ensure that all parties are aware of it.

4. Having an unclear or unfinished plan

Continuity plans need to be clear, easy to follow, and most of all cover as much as possible. If your plan is not laid out in a logical and clear manner, or written in simple and easy to understand language, there is an increased chance that it will fail. You should therefore ensure that all those who have access to the plan can follow it after the first read through, and find the information they need quickly and easily.

Beyond this, you should also make sure that all instructions and strategies are complete. For example, if you have an evacuation plan, make sure it states who evacuates to where and what should be done once people reach those points. The goal here is to establish as strong a plan as possible, which will further enhance the chances that your business will recover successfully from a disaster.

5. Failing to test, update, and test again

Even the most comprehensive and articulate plan needs to be tested on a regular basis. Failure to do so could result in once adequate plans not offering the coverage needed today. To avoid this, you should aim to test your plan on a regular basis - at least twice a year.

From these tests you should take note of potential bottlenecks and failures and take steps in order to patch these up. Beyond this, if you implement new systems, or change existing ones, revisit your plan and update it to cover these amendments and retest the plan again.

If you are worried about your continuity planning, or would like help implementing a plan and supporting systems, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 25th, 2014

WindowsPhone_Sep25_BApps are an integral part of all smartphones, regardless of the platform you use. Without them, our devices would be more or less useless. The issue with apps however is that because they are necessary, malicious people develop fake apps that they then try to get on to app stores. If say a Windows Phone user downloads this app, it can cause problems. Therefore, it is a good idea to know how to spot fake apps and what to do with them.

To begin with, we should make clear that app store hosts like Microsoft do have strict security measures in place that strive to keep malicious software off of stores and therefore users' devices. That being said, there is always a chance that an industrious hacker can subvert these security controls and get their app onto the online stores. To counter this, here's four tips on how you can spot fake or malicious apps.

  • Look at the name - If you are looking at an app on the Windows Phone Store, always look at the name of the app. Some malicious software that has made its way onto the Store has had a spelling mistake in the name. If in doubt, do a quick search on the Internet for the app and the correct spelling. Should nothing turn up, it may be a good idea to avoid it.
  • Look at the publisher information - All apps for Windows Phones require that the developer/publisher includes information about the app and themselves. If you are looking to download what seems like a popular app, take a look at the listed producer or developer, and then search on the Internet for their site. If the developer of the app appears to be different, or there are differences in the spelling, it is best to avoid installing it.
  • Look at social media stats - On the Windows Phone Store, below the install information, are counters for social media likes and shares. If the app information states it is a popular app and yet there are no social shares, then this may indicate it is actually fake. You should therefore err on the side of caution.
  • Look at comments - Lastly, look at the comments/reviews of the app. The Windows Phone Store uses stars to provide a quick overview of how much people like each app, but if you read comments you can quickly get an idea of exactly what people say about specific apps. If you see words like Fake, Doesn't work, etc. then it is a good idea to skip installing it.
While it can help to be able to identify apps, you should also know how to report apps that you believe are malicious or fake. You can do so by:
  1. Opening the app's page on the Windows Phone Store.
  2. Scrolling down and clicking on Report concern to Microsoft.
  3. Selecting from a list of complaints. Note: Pick the one that is most appropriate to the issue, for example if it is a fake app then select Misleading app.
  4. Pressing Submit.
The plus side of the Windows Store is that Microsoft does usually act quickly to remove identified apps, so the actual chances of you downloading one are fairly low. But, it is always better to be safe than sorry. If you are looking to learn more about Windows Phones and how they can fit into your organization, contact us today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 25th, 2014

AndroidPhone_Sep22_BMobile operating systems like Android have a wealth of features that users can take advantage of. However, many of these features are often hidden or not well represented. For example, did you know that on Android devices you can create folders on your home screen for your apps? Here's five tips on how you can create and manage these folders.

Creating folders

On most devices, when you install a new app the icon will be automatically added to your home screen, or onto a screen where there is space. While this is useful, many of us have a large number of apps installed, and it can be a bit of a chore actually finding the icon you are looking for.

The easiest solution is to group icons together into a folder. This can be done by:

  1. Pressing and holding on an app on your device's home screen.
  2. Dragging it over another app and letting go.
You should see both of the icons moved into a circle and kind of hovering over each other. This indicates they are now in a folder. It is important to note that these folders only appear on your home screen. If you combine say Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn apps into a folder on your home screen, they will not be put into a folder in your app drawer.

Naming folders

When you create new folders, you will notice that there is no text below the icon as there is with other icons. This is because you need to name the folder, which can be done by:
  1. Tapping on the newly created folder.
  2. Tapping on Unnamed Folder in the pop-up window.
  3. Naming the folder.
  4. Pressing Done at the bottom of the keyboard.
The name you assign to the folder will show up under each icon on your home screen. If you are going to use different folders, it is a good idea to pick names related to the apps they contain. For example, if you put all of your email apps in one folder, call the folder 'Email'. This will make your apps easier to find.

Adding/removing apps from folders

You can easily add apps to folders by either dragging them from the home screen over to the folder and letting go, or:
  1. Opening your device's app drawer (usually indicated by a number of squares).
  2. Finding the app you would like to put into a folder.
  3. Pressing on it, and holding your finger down until the home screen pops up.
  4. Dragging it over the folder you would like it to be placed in.
  5. Letting go.
If done right, the app's icon should be automatically dropped into the folder. You can also remove apps from folders by tapping on the folder where the app is, pressing on the app, then dragging it up to Remove, which should appear at the top of the screen. This will remove it from the home screen, but will not uninstall the app. You can also tap on the app and move it out of the folder to an empty place on the home screen.

Moving folders

You can move a folder's location the same way you do so with an app: Tap and hold on the folder until the screen changes slightly and drag it to where you would like it to be. On newer versions of Android, the apps should all move to make room for the folder.

Deleting folders

Finally, you can delete a folder by either dragging all of the apps out of the folder, or pressing and holding on the folder until the screen changes and dragging it up to Remove. This will remove the folder and all the stored app icons, but it won't delete the apps.

If you have any questions about using an Android device, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 24th, 2014

SocialMedia_Sep22_BSocial media has become an integral part of many business strategies, with an ever increasing number of companies adopting a variety of platforms. However, many business owners and managers are often unsure as to exactly how they can, or should, be using these platforms. In order to make things a bit easier, here is an overview of the three most common ways businesses use social media.

1. To be a resource for existing and potential clients

This approach is by far the most popular used by businesses of all sizes. The main idea here is that social media is used as essentially a two-way street where you can pass information about the company, products, and industry to your followers. In turn, they interact with the content and eventually start to turn to your profile and page when they are looking for information.

One of the best ways to be successful with this approach is to provide your followers with information about the company, facts, tips about your products and industry, and links to other relevant content.

By sharing content, users will generally interact with it more and begin to see your company as a reliable source of information. This often translates into enhanced brand awareness and potentially sales.

The downside with this approach however, is that it can be time consuming to constantly develop new content. Most companies eventually reach a point where what they produce and share is pretty much the same, and overall payoffs begin to decrease. One way around this is to work with professionals to come up with dynamic and different content.

2. To provide customer service/support

These days, when someone has a problem with a company's services or products, the first port of call for complaints is often social media, largely because it's the most convenient place to vent where you can get instant reactions.

It therefore makes sense to create support or customer service presence on these channels. Some companies have even taken to launching support-centric profiles, where customers can contact them about anything, from complaints to questions, and receive a personal answer. For many companies this is ideal because it eliminates the hassle of customers having to call a support line and dealing with automated machines.

This approach can prove useful for businesses because it often makes it easier to reach out to disgruntled customers and track overall brand satisfaction. The downside is that you will need someone monitoring services 24/7, and to respond in a timely manner which may be tough to do for many smaller businesses.

3. To sell something

There are an increasing number of businesses who have launched social media profiles with the intent of selling a product or service. The actual sales may not take place through social media but the information on these profiles and platforms channels potential customers to an online store or to contact a company directly. Social media's instantaneous nature makes for a tempting platform, especially when you tie in different advertising features and include content like coupons, and discounts.

While this hard sales line can be appealing to businesses, many users are seemingly put off of companies with profiles that only focus on selling via their platforms. The whole idea of social networking is that it is 'social'; this means real interactions with real people. Profiles dedicated only to trying to sell something will, more often than not, simply be ignored.

What's the ideal use?

One of the best approaches for small to medium businesses is to actually use a combined approach. Most people know that ultimately, businesses with a presence on social media are marketing something, but focusing solely on this could turn customers off.

A successful split that many experts have touted is the 70-20-10 rule. This rule states that you should make 70% of your content and profile focused on relevant information to your audience. 20% of content should be content from other people and 10% of content should be related to selling your products or services e.g., promotional.

If you want to use social media for support as well, it is a good idea to create a separate profile dedicated just to this end. If complaints are lodged or noticed using your main account, direct them towards the support account.

As always, if you are looking for help with your social media strategy, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
September 17th, 2014

BusinessValue_Sep15_BMany business owners and managers are well aware of the fact that if they really want to maximize their customer base they need to have a presence on the Internet. It used to be that having a website was enough to satisfy this, but now many customers are looking for businesses that are active online. One of the best ways to demonstrate this activity is through content marketing. The question then is how to ensure your efforts are successful.

What are the benefits of content marketing?

Before looking into ways you can implement content marketing that works, it is a good idea to look at the benefits of this type of marketing for businesses. One of the biggest pluses is that it boosts online engagement between you and your customers. If a customer sees that you are producing quality content that appeals to them, they will be more likely to interact and consider you when they need your products or services.

The other major advantage of a good content marketing strategy is that it helps show search engines like Google that your website and online presence are active. Because of the way search engines work, more active sites are usually ranked higher in results. If your website and overall Internet presence is seen to be active on a regular basis, you could possibly reach the first page of search results, which can lead to a boost in site visits, inquiries, and even sales.

If you have been considering implementing a content marketing campaign, or are looking to improve your existing efforts, the following four tips could help.

1. Always have a goal

The main thrust of many successful content marketing initiatives is that they tell a story. As with any narrative there needs to be an ending and in the case of content marketing this endpoint is a goal - something you want the reader to do. What do you want to achieve? Do you want customers to call? Do you want them to learn how to use your product?

By working backwards, you can then determine the right voice to use and best way to reach those customers who are most likely to react positively to the content. This also makes it easier for you to separate your campaigns and even launch multiple strategies at the same time.

Beyond this, having a goal can really help you narrow down the type of content you need to create. If for example, you know what customers you want to attract and how you want them to ultimately act, you can create content that is more appealing to them.

2. ABT

One of the most popular sayings amongst content marketers is to, "Always Be Testing (ABT)". When developing content you should be striving to test your content. Consider if certain images work better than others, as well as headlines, layouts, and content types, etc.

This could be as simple as developing three different social media posts and testing them with different market segments, or locations. You can then take what you have learnt from the tests and apply this to future posts.

The same can be said for more advanced content like blog posts or white papers. If you create different versions and layouts, and track the general downloads and interaction with the content, you can usually figure out how various people are reacting in different ways to a variety of content.

It is important to note here that content marketing is not a quick payoff style of marketing. You need to invest time, money, and effort into this and be willing to always be tweaking content. It takes time to pay off, but the time invested in testing what works and what doesn't work will help you develop better, more useful content.

3. Share and share alike

Creating content and just putting it on existing sites or sharing it with existing clients is not the most efficient way of making your content marketing show returns. Combine this with the fact that you will likely be using platforms like social media which are constantly changing and adding new content, and there is a good chance your content won't even be seen.

What you should aim to do is to share the content as much as possible. Share it on all of your social media platforms, link to it on your site, add it to emails, use the various social media content promotion features, and most of all: Share it again.

If you truly believe content is useful to your target market, you should aim to post it at least three to four times on social media. One of the most effective strategies is to share it on different days at different times, usually with a space of at least a week or two between posts. This can help maximize the numbers who see it.

4. Be prepared to fail

Failure is a part of business, and coincidently, it is also a part of content marketing. Face it, you might create content that just simply won't click as you intended. If this happens, your first reaction might be to pull the content and try something different. This may not be a good idea.

Sure, if the content is stirring up trouble, or has offended people, then it is likely best to remove it. But even if you aren't seeing the results you had hoped for, stick with the content for a bit. Try reposting it, and promoting more vigorously. It could very well be that users just didn't see the content.

As we stated above, successful content marketing takes time and effort. Once you realize this, and combine it with the fact that not everything will work, you should see a viable strategy surface over time.

If you are looking to learn more about content marketing and how our systems can help support it then get in touch and we can share our thoughts on how to be proactive and get results.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 17th, 2014

iPhone_Sep15_BSeptember 9 was a day eagerly anticipated by many Apple fans, largely because it was the day the company held their nearly annual announcement of new devices. This year the company announced not only two new iPhones but also a new smartwatch and some new iOS 8 features. If you missed the news then here is an overview of the new devices introduced at the event.

The iPhone 6

Before the September 9 event, rumors were flying for months about a new iPhone that Apple was working on. The company did not disappoint and announced a new version of their staggeringly popular phone. Here's an overview of the iPhone 6 specs which business owners and managers will want to know about.
  • Screen: The iPhone 6 will have a 4.7 inch screen (measured diagonally), and will sport Apple's new display, Retina HD, which has more pixels for a much improved image quality.
  • Size: The phone will be 5.44 x 2.64 inches and .27 inches thick. The device's shape has also been changed slightly with a more rounded body (compared to the iPhone 5's squared body) which should make it easier to hold.
  • Processor: This device will have what Apple calls the A8 processor. This is an improved processor over the one found in previous devices like the iPhone 5, and offers 25% faster speeds and 50% better efficiency. In other words, the device will be able to do more than previous versions, and do it faster.
  • Storage: You can choose either 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage space.
  • Battery life: Apple has noted that the iPhone 6 should have the same, or slightly better, battery life than previous models. While this may not seem like an improvement, you need to take into account the bigger screen which requires more power to run.
  • Pricing: In the US, the iPhone 6 starts at USD 199 for the 16GB of storage. It should be noted that this is the price on a two year contract. If you want to purchase the model outright, prices start at USD 649 for the 16GB. Both the on-contract and outright purchase prices go up USD 100 for each increase in storage.
  • Availability: You could pre-order your device starting September 12, with it being available in many stores September 19. Chances are, the device will sell out quickly, so you may be put on a waiting list if you decide to purchase right away.

The iPhone 6 Plus

Alongside rumors about the impending iPhone 6, there were also rumors that Apple would be introducing a larger version of the iPhone 6 that is designed to compete with the various "phablets" (small tablets with phone capabilities) which are immensely popular these days. They did indeed announce a new, larger version of the iPhone 6 called the iPhone 6 Plus. Here is an overview of the major details that will benefit business owners and managers.
  • Screen: The iPhone 6 Plus will have a 5.5 inch screen (measured diagonally), and will sport Apple's new display, Retina HD, which has more pixels, meaning image quality will be much improved.
  • Size: The phone will be 6.22 x 3.06 inches and .28 inches thick. The device's shape has also been changed slightly with a more rounded body. It may take time to get used to the screen size and some users may not be able to use the device comfortably with one hand.
  • Processor: This device will have what Apple calls the A8 processor. This is an improved processor over the one found in previous devices like the iPhone 5, and offers 25% faster speeds and 50% better efficiency. In other words, the device will be able to do more, faster, than previous versions.
  • Storage: You can choose either 16GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage space.
  • Battery life: Apple has noted that the iPhone 6 Plus will have a larger battery that supposedly offers 24 hours of talk time. Because this device hasn't been fully tested yet, it's difficult to tell what the actual battery life will be like, but it will likely be enough to get you through a day of moderate use.
  • Pricing: In the US, the iPhone 6 Plus starts at USD 299 for the 16GB of storage. It should be noted that this is the price if you get the device on a two year contract. If you want to purchase it outright, the device starts at USD 749 for the 16GB. Both the on-contract and outright prices go up USD 100 for each increase in storage.
  • Availability: Pre-orders for the device started September 12, but it was quickly sold out. Apple has noted that it should be in many stores as of September 19.

The Apple Watch

Apple wasn't done with just two mobile devices however, they also proved rumors true and announced a new device - the Apple Watch. This is Apple's take on the smartwatch that appears to be gaining traction with many users.

The Apple Watch is a rectangular device that is worn on the wrist and, as the name implies, is a watch. Well, a watch with numerous features that many users will no doubt enjoy. The device has a knob at the top-left which Apple calls the "digital crown", that you use to navigate the device. For example, pressing it opens the device's home screen, while turning it will zoom the face.

You can also interact the device via touch. For example, you will be able to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to open a feature Apple calls Glance. This provides you with useful information like the date, weather, notifications, etc.

Because typing on a device that is on your wrist is pretty much impossible to do accurately, the device supports voice commands and even interaction with Siri. The Apple Watch also has a multitude of sensors including health related ones like a heart rate sensor.

So far, it appears like this device is mainly aimed towards individual users, but business users who are looking for a way to interact with their devices or a different way to keep track of their most important information like calendars, etc. may find it useful too.

If the watch sounds interesting, you are going to have to wait for a while, as Apple has said it won't be released until the spring of 2015. While this may seem like a long time to wait, it could prove to be positive, as it gives the company more time to perfect the device. When released, Apple has noted that the Apple Watch will start at USD 350.

New iOS 8 features

New devices weren't all that was introduced at the event, Apple also talked about some new features that will be introduced in iOS 8.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) and ApplePay - Both the new iPhone 6s and the Apple Watch will ship with NFC chips in the device. These can be used in conjunction with Apple's new pay service, ApplePay. Like other similar apps, you will be able to use your phone as a wallet, and swipe it over pay terminals to pay for items. Your payment information is stored in Passbook which creates a unique ID for each credit card, but does not store your credit card information.
  • Enhanced navigation - With bigger screens on both of the new iPhones, many users will want to hold the phone in landscape (horizontal) mode for easier viewing of apps. iOS 8 will enable this.
  • New gesture - Reachability - Reachability is a new gesture that will allow users to quickly switch the content at the top of the screen by tapping twice on the Home button.
For those of you who have an existing iPhone or iPad, you should have been asked to upgrade to iOS 8 when it came out September 17.

If you are looking to learn more about the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, Apple Watch, or iOS 8, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic iPhone
September 16th, 2014

Facebook_Sep18_BDid you know that as of the end of the first quarter of 2014 there were 1.28 billion active (users who log in once a month) Facebook users? That's right, about a fifth of the world's population is on Facebook. This large population base makes a pretty big target for spammers and other malicious users. Because of this, it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the most common spam and malicious tactics used on this social media platform.

1. Statistics on Profile visits

Spend enough time on Facebook and you will likely see this type of post on your Timeline. The post usually shows itself off as an app that allows users to see who has been viewing their personal profile, or the statistics related to profile views. There is also a link to click to either go to a site or install an app.

These posts look legitimate, but Facebook doesn't actually allow these apps, so clicking on them usually leads to malicious apps or sites. As some of these posts contain links to Facebook apps, you will be asked to allow the app permissions like access to personal data, friends lists, etc. These apps won't work, but they do give the developer access to your information which could then be used to start other malicious hacks.

2. Changing the color of your Profile

With the wide number of apps, devices, and other tech available to us, developers are often keen to offer users the ability to customize how their app looks. For example you may have applied your own themes or changed icons with your browser. Therefore, it makes sense that some users might want to change the color of their Facebook Profile from the standard blue that everyone uses.

There are apps out there that supposedly allow you to do this. However, Facebook doesn't allow users to customize the color of their Profile - it's blue for everyone. Therefore, the apps and links that supposedly allow you to change the color are fake and likely related to spam or malicious content. It's best to not click on the links in these posts, or install apps that say they allow you to do this customization.

3. Check if a friend has deleted/unfriended you

This post seems to come up every six months or so on Facebook. Like the statistics on Profile visits, apps claiming to allow you to check if you have been unfriended are fake. The biggest giveaway that this is a fake app or post is the wording. When someone doesn't want to be connected with you on Facebook, they will 'unfriend' you, not 'delete' you as these posts often claim. Needless to say, it is best to refrain from clicking on these links and apps.

4. Free stuff from Facebook

If you are a Facebook fan then you might like a free Facebook t-shirt, hat, water bottle, etc. There is a known post that shows up from time-to-time declaring that Facebook is giving away free stuff, and that if you click on the link in the post you too can get hold of some freebies.

Facebook does not usually give away stuff via network posts. Those people you see walking around with Facebook apparel usually either work for the company, had it printed themselves, or attended a Facebook event. Therefore, if you see these posts, don't click on the link.

5. Revealing pics or videos of celebrities

With all the recent leaks of celebrity photos and videos, you can be sure that the number of posts popping up on you News Feed with links to these types images and videos will become increasingly popular.

Not only is this obscene, the posts are 100% fake. Clicking on any of the links will likely take you to a site with 'files' that you need to download. The issue is, these files are actually malware and can pose a serious security risk.

As a general rule of thumb: Don't click on any links in posts connected to celebrities and revealing images or videos.

What can I do about these posts?

These tips are mainly for individual Facebook users as this is whom hackers and spammers are targeting the most. How is this an issue for your business? Well, if an employee is browsing Facebook at work and clicks on one of the links in posts like the ones above, there is a good chance they could introduce malware into your systems and networks.

Therefore, you might want to educate your employees about common Facebook security threats like the ones above. Beyond this, you should encourage everyone to take the following steps when they do come across content like this:

  1. Click the grey arrow at the top-right of the post.
  2. Select I don't want to see this.
  3. Click Report this Post.
This will ensure that the post itself is deleted and that the content is reported to Facebook for followup. Usually, if there are enough reports, Facebook will look into the content and likely ban the user.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 11th, 2014

BI_Sep08_BWhen it comes to the success of your business, you likely rely, at least in part, on predictions made off of existing data. While simple forecasts are easy enough, it can be more difficult to set down long-term theories about what the future may or may not entail. That's why many businesses employ predictive analytics. While long used by enterprises, many smaller companies are also now starting to use these methods as well. At first glance, predictive analytics can be overwhelming, so, to help, here is an overview of the three main components.

Together, these three elements of predictive analytics enables data scientists and even managers to conduct and analyze forecasts and predictions.

Component 1: data

As with most business processes, data is one of the most important and vital components. Without data you won't be able to make predictions and the decisions necessary to reach desired outcomes. In other words, data is the foundation of predictive analytics.

If you want predictive analytics to be successful, you need not only the right kind of data but information that is useful in helping answer the main question you are trying to predict or forecast. You need to to collect as much relevant data as possible in relation to what you are trying to predict. This means tracking past data, customers, demographics, and more.

Merely tracking data isn't going to guarantee more accurate predictions however. You will also need a way to store and quickly access this data. Most businesses use a data warehouse which allows for easier tracking, combining, and analyzing of data.

As a business manager you likely don't have the time to look after data and implement a full-on warehousing and storage solution. What you will most likely need to do is work with a provider, like us, who can help establish an effective warehouse solution, and an analytics expert who can help ensure that you are tracking the right, and most useful, data.

Component 2: statistics

Love it, or hate it, statistics, and more specifically regression analysis, is an integral part of predictive analytics. Most predictive analytics starts with usually a manager or data scientist wondering if different sets of data are correlated. For example, is the age, income, and sex of a customer (independent variables) related to when they purchase product X (dependent variable)?

Using data that has been collected from various customer touch points - say a customer loyalty card, past purchases made by the customer, data found on social media, and visits to a website - you can run a regression analysis to see if there is in fact a correlation between independent and dependent variables, and just how related individual independent variables are.

From here, usually after some trial and error, you hopefully can come up with a regression equation and assign what's called regression coefficients - how much each variable affects the outcome - to each of the independent variables.

This equation can then be applied to predict outcomes. To carry on the example above, you can figure out exactly how influential each independent variable is to the sale of product X. If you find that income and age of different customers heavily influences sales, you can usually also predict when customers of a certain age and income level will buy (by comparing the analysis with past sales data). From here, you can schedule promotions, stock extra products, or even begin marketing to other non-customers who fall into the same categories.

Component 3: assumptions

Because predictive analytics focuses on the future, which is impossible to predict with 100% accuracy, you need to rely on assumptions for this type of analytics to actually work. While there are likely many assumptions you will need to acknowledge, the biggest is: the future will be the same as the past.

As a business owner or manager you are going to need to be aware of the assumptions made for each model or question you are trying to predict the answer to. This also means that you will need to be revisiting these on a regular basis to ensure they are still true or valid. If something changes, say buying habits, then the predictions in place will be invalid and potentially useless.

Remember the 2008-09 sub-prime mortgage crisis? Well, one of the main reasons this was so huge was because brokers and analysts assumed that people would always be able to pay their mortgages, and built their prediction models off of this assumption. We all know what happened there. While this is a large scale example, it is a powerful lesson to learn: Not checking that the assumptions you have based your predictions on could lead to massive trouble for your company.

By understanding the basic ideas behind these three components, you will be better able to communicate and leverage the results provided by this form of analytics.

If you are looking to implement a solution that can support your analytics, or to learn more about predictive analytics, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 11th, 2014

MobileGeneral_Sep08_BOur mobile devices are quickly becoming so highly integrated into our lives that it can be difficult to imagine life without them. But, there will come a time when you decide to upgrade to a new device. When this does happen, you may consider selling your old device. If you do decide to do this, one thing you should ensure you have done is to deauthenticate your apps.

What exactly is deauthentication?

Some apps, although not all, require that you authenticate your device in order for them to work. Many developers who ask users to authenticate their device do so in order to either prevent copies of the software from being created and utilized, or to ensure that the device and app can communicate securely.

Some examples of apps that ask for authentication include those that use multi-factor authentication, password managers, and apps that require a subscription or credit card information, etc. On some devices you even need to enter a code or key, much like installing software on a new computer, in order to activate all the features of the app.

The main reason many developers require authentication is connected to security. As security is becoming an ever more pressing issue, there is a good chance that we will see more apps asking users to authenticate their devices in the future.

The issue with this is that when you go to sell your device you will likely need to purchase the app again or the buyer of the device won't be able to set up their own account.

Common apps you should deauthenticate

Apps with subscription services: This includes apps like Google Play Music, Spotify, Office for iPad, cloud storage apps that you have linked your device to, etc. These apps are usually either linked with your device or your phone number so it is a good idea to deauthenticate them.
  1. Kindle app: The Kindle app is actually linked to your device and users who want to use the app will likely not be able to if the device is linked to your account. You can unlink devices by going to the Amazon site, logging in and selecting Manage your Content and Devices when you hover over your account name.
  2. Password management apps: These apps usually require that you authenticate your device to use a particular service. If you try to log in on a new device, these apps may not work properly.
  3. Chat apps: Some chat apps like WhatsApp or Line require that you register for the service using your phone number. If you are keeping your number, you shouldn't have to deauthenticate, but if you are getting a new number, you should go into the account settings of each app and unlink your number. WhatsApp for example has a feature that allows you to move your number to a new device.
  4. Any app or service that you have linked credit card information to: While you ordinarily don't have to physically deauthenticate these apps, as the information is usually linked to an account and password, it is a good idea to unlink your credit card with any app on your phone before you hand it over. This will help ensure that credit card information is not stored or accessible.
When it comes to the major app stores, e.g., Windows Phone Store, Google Play, and iTunes, you will often see that your device has been linked to your account. If you are going to sell your device, the best course of action is to reset using the factory reset option. This will delete all data and installed apps on the device. This will often be enough to deauthenticate all apps.

If you are looking to learn more about getting rid of your older devices, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.