Updates are being made to everyone’s favorite: Amazon Echo.
Voice calling and messaging are now becoming a possibility straight from Amazon Echo. On May 9th, Amazon announced the launch of the touchscreen Echo Show, which will have features that work on the standard Echo speaker and Echo Dot.
This feature includes everything such as asking Alexa to call someone straight from your contacts, which will result in their Alexa device to begin ringing. Fortunately, Amazon is increasing this update to both iOS and Android users with the Alexa app.
With the new update, Echo Show will also have features such as video calls, which will also be included and work with the Alexa app for both, iOS and Android uses too. This feature, however, will add something unique: Drop In. This will allow approved contacts to automatically start a video call, which also include automatically turning on the recipient’s camera and mic which is perfect to check on elderly relatives or your little ones.
The next additional cool feature is voice messaging, which allows your friends and family members to interact with you and each other through messages. This is a bit more useful because you are able to send a voice message without actually calling someone first. Instead, you simply ask Alexa to message whoever you like about whatever you want. Messages can be sent and received through the Alexa app, or from Echo devices, which will have a green light glow on the device when new messages are unread.
These cool updates will make Amazon Echo much more useful and easier to use. Leaving you completely hands–free in voice calling and voice messaging.
Among several new projects and updates that Microsoft has in the works, they recently released a major new update. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is set to have a release this September.
The Fall Creators Update will be the official debut of Microsoft’s Fluent Design System, previously known as Project Neon. This interface allows building apps that can work across several devices and input types. Although, there are more features to come, this update will bring a new focus to bring Windows experiences to Android and iOS devices.
With this new update, it is including four key new additions:
- Timeline – Timeline is a feature that helps improve the task view area to provide a list of apps and workspaces that were in use previously in your device or on your devices as well.
- Pick up where you left off – This new feature combines with Timeline, as it allows you to resume apps and sessions on multiple devices. This feature will specifically be useful and helpful on mobile devices.
- OneDrive files On-Demand – Similar to Microsoft’s placeholder files, this feature will let you easily fetch files from OneDrive without having to sync them or download entire folders all at once. Instead, OneDrive allows users to pick out data from the cloud whenever it is needed–making it faster and easier. With this feature, it will help decrease the amount of space required for the files, as you’ll mostly use this feature while online and only meant to pull out the files that are needed at the moment.
- Clipboard – Similar to Apple’s universal clipboard, the clipboard feature will help roam across Windows, iOS, and Android as it will allow users to copy content from a PC and paste it straight on a phone.
Majority of these features work and compliment each other as it makes experiences for users much easier and better to use. However, more features will continue to be developed and released as the release date gets closer.
Hacking incidents are inevitable and one can never know if you or someone you know will fall victim to it. There are, however, several different ways to stay safe and stay on top hackers before the hacking is even done.
A few of the best ways to do so are:
- Stay suspicious of emails – Email is used as a great communication platform, but this also makes it a huge security risk. Many cyberattacks happen through email. Phishing sends innocent emails that are meant to trick their victims. It leads them to a fake website asking for updates on their personal information. The best way to stay aware of emails is to check the sender and make sure it is someone you know. You can also check the IP address of the sender.
- Link locations – Link locations is a huge one. Unknown messages always contain links to unknown sites. When visiting an unknown site it can have major consequences and it usually tends to mimic a familiar site, or it can also simply be unsecure and infected with malware the minute you visit. The best way to know where it is taking you is to copy and paste the link location into a new browser to check what site is on the other side. It is important to know that encrypted sites are always the safest one to visit. You will see HTTPS in the URL, as well as a lock icon on your browser.
- Two-factor authentication – Two-factor authentication requires users to help enter several entry confirmations such as a code texted to a phone, before entering your password. This is a great way to stop attackers from stealing passwords. Most places now have made it as a standard for logging in.
- Sharing personal data on Wi-Fi – It is best to stay away from checking your personal information such as checking your bank account, or buying a plane ticket when using internet in coffee shops, libraries or any free public Wi-Fi.
With these helpful tips you will be well prepared to in case of any phishing attack that occurs.
Early last month, Google fell under attack in a huge phishing operation.
Many received an email that looked similar to an invitation to join a Google Doc from someone they knew on their mailing list. However, once they clicked the link to open the file, you were then directed to grant access to an app that looks like Google Docs. Instead, this was actually a program that sends spam emails to everyone you have previously mailed.
Specifically, this spam email included the following:
- Used the name “Google Docs”
- Used the existing Google login system
- Bypassed any 2 factor authentication or login alerts
- Only detectable as fake if you click “Google Docs’ while granting permission
- Replicates itself by sending itself to all your contacts
This process of sending an email to trick someone into granting access into their personal information is called phishing. It is usually done for malicious reasons, just like stealing a credit card information or tricking someone into sharing their password.
Google released an official statement in which they mention they did indeed resolved the issue. They have removed the fake pages, updated all of their Safe Browsing preferences and system. As a result, they continue to encourage their uses to report phishing emails within their Gmail.
If you have or ever do receive an email like this, do not open it. Always remember to:
- Change your password every three months
- Make sure your passwords are long with lower and upper cases letters, as well as special characters such as several symbols and/or numbers
- Make yourself familiar with the style and fonts and specific uses of Google Docs as it can be incredibly helpful when needed to detect a fake.
Do you enjoy your regular wrist watches just as much as you enjoy your smartphone? Do you find that Android watches are more stylistic than Apple’s Watches? Well, you are in luck because Android Wear 2.0 is here!
Google recently confirmed that many of their watches will have the Android wear update between April and late May 2017. With this new update comes the introduction to use it on LG smartwatches, and now, iOS system.
Some of the new features for Android Wear 2.0 include:
- Google Assistant – Google assistant was first used in Google’s Pixel smartphones, but now, this helper is ready to respond to a simple ‘OK Google’ command or press of a button on your watch. Assistant can help make reservations for you, provide you with the weather report, and will also work with smart home devices, leaving you completely hands–free.
- Complications – Initially, complications are features that provide more than just the watch face information of hours and minutes. Android wear adds support for third-party complications. This means Fitbit, Spotify and similar apps will be able to integrated directly to your watch face.
- Notifications – While some of us love to receive notifications, even if it does cover the whole screen, Android wear will have small icons that can easily be tapped to expand on the specific notification such as a text content or email.
- Standalone apps – Android wear apps work independently with phone apps. In other words, the app will work perfectly even if your phone is nowhere near you.
There are several watches that can support Android wear 2.0 and are perfect for any style. As more smartwatches will be added to the list, here are some of the watches available:
- Asus ZenWatch2, Asus ZenWatch 3
- Casio WSD F10
- Fossil Q Founder, Fossil Q Wander, Fossil Q Marshal
- Huawei Watch, Huawei Watch Ladies
- Michael Kors Access Bradshaw Smartwatch
- LG G Watch R, LG G Watch Urbane (1st gen)
- New Balance RunIQ
“Siri, what time is it in London right now?”
“Alexa, access the audio of last nights conference.”
“Echo, shut the shades for the presentation.”
If you thought that artificial intelligence is not a trend in 2017, think again. AI is all around us, on our smartphones, in our cars and in Amazon dots that sit on our countertops. Automation has been around for decades but slowly that automation has taken on more of a role in our business and home lives. Automation has made work easier, in some cases to the point of replacing the human factor. Automation has also become more intuitive and accurate. Where this trend is going has experts wondering just how far artificial intelligence will play a role in the business world.
Most expert in AI agree that the presence of artificial technology is not going anywhere and will in fact increase in its use. Here are just a two ways that AI may begin to impact the business world within this year.
- Data Sorting – One area that artificial intelligence is thriving is sorting and organizing big data. AI can gather and analyze massive amounts of data in short periods of time. It can then deliver insights and recommendations based on what it learns, and act on those insights without relying on a human to intervene or guide it.
- Supervising – While the idea of a machine supervising work may seem a little too “out there,” it is in the realm of possibility. Many automated processes in companies can be switched over to AI technology and leave employees to handle more subjective jobs. Human employees can then oversee the technology handling the software.
Keep an eye on AI in the workplace and return to our blog to find out more as the year unfolds.
Virtual Reality seems more like the plot of a sci-fi movie that anything that could help you in the business world. Well, more and more businesses are coming up with new and different ways to integrate virtual reality into their businesses in ways that could benefit their customers, clients or even employees. Virtual Reality may be able to help your clients access content in a way that is not always possible in a two dimensional setting. The year 2017 may be the time that VR explodes in the business world. Let’s take a look at just a few of the ways that virtual reality may benefit your company.
- Prototypes – For many businesses that have products that are in development, VR could allow clients or employees to create, use or rework a virtual model of your product and make necessary changes before actually paying for production.
- Designing – If part of your service or product requires designing, VR may help save time and energy in engineering plans or designs. Replications of structures can make this work easy and allow a better viewpoint that can troubleshoot any design flaws.
- Tours – For businesses that want to show off their showroom or workshop VR can allow for virtual tours even from a remote location. For example, in real estate, a buyer from another state could easily see a property hundreds of miles from home without leaving their home.
- Training – Many businesses require training on equipment that may mean hiring a specialist. VR can allow employees to get their hands on equipment in the virtual world where there is no fear of breaking equipment.
Wondering how VR could be useful to your business? Give M&H a call.
Communication is key in the business world whether it is relaying critical information to employees or staying up-to-date with clients. In order to maintain adequate communication, no matter who with, having a proven method or protocol can assist greatly at work. In this blog, let’s continue examining how technology can help you communicate better.
What type of communication do you use now: email, instant messaging or phone calls? Is it working or does it need to be streamlined to make communication more effective? If you are looking to enhance your communication or develop new strategies to stay in touch, consider these advancements on technology to help guide you along the way.
- Slack – This app is one of the most popular ways for internal teams to collaborate. Slack features chat rooms organized by topic, private groups, and direct messaging. Files, groups, and members are all completely searchable, making it easy to pull up previous conversations. It’s available for web, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. [slack.com]
- BaseCamp – If you need to maintain regular communication with clients BaseCamp may be a viable choice. It is designed to make it easy for people in different departments within a company to share files and collaborate on projects. By consolidating internal communications, project management, and client relations in one place, it provides an efficient and streamlined solution for managing a variety of internal communication and collaboration needs. Basecamp’s discussion boards eliminate the need for complex, hard-to-navigate email chains by consolidating discussion about a subject in one place. It also manages tasks and to-do lists for staff members. [basecamp.com]
- DialMyCalls – If your business prefers to alert customers of upcoming events, appointments or due dates DialMyCalls may be the method for you. Many businesses use DialMyCalls to send out important notifications to employees, or to remind staff of upcoming events, meetings, or due dates. It’s also useful for reaching out to employees to cover shifts when someone gets sick or needs to miss work because of a personal emergency.
In our last blog we began looking at technology solutions for busy business leaders and managers. We explored organization and how advancements in applications can help you get organized and stay organized. In this blog we will continue to look at technology, but shift gears towards time management applications and tips.
There are hundreds of apps out there, mostly free, that can help you keep track of your precious time whether you need to bill clients per hour or just as a way to stay productive and on task. Using your time wisely can become a little bit easier if you try to track and monitor how your time is spent and where it may be wasted.
- Project Tracking – Ever wonder at the end of a large project how many hours were spent on the actual work? It would be great to know if the end justify the means or if possibly you wasted time somewhere along the way. Toggl is a great app that can help you track how much time you spend on different projects. Effective time management starts with being clear on exactly how much time you actually spend on your projects and tasks, and then analyze how you can manage them more effectively.
- Staying on Task – If you or any of your employees have trouble staying on one project at a time or get caught up multitasking an app that helps them focus may be helpful. Focus Booster is an app that us based on the pomodoro technique, that helps employees maintain focus and manage distractions.
- Planning – Part of time management is planning ahead on what needs to be done on each project you are tasked with. Mindmapping is a great productivity technique, and Mind42 is the best free mind mapping app. It helps you to get more organized by focusing your thoughts thereby gaining clarity on what needs to be done.
Mid-May of 2017 saw one of the largest global cyber-attacks ever. Ransomware has become all too common and computer hackers took advantage of a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows in what is being called the WannaCry attack. The hackers managed to affect computers worldwide. Thus far, the impact has been felt on over 230,000 computers in over 150 countries. The ongoing cyber-attack of the WannaCry ransomware computer worm targets the Microsoft Windows operating systems and seems to originate from an anonymous source but first was seen in April, 2016 by the hacking group Shadow Brokers.
The damage of WannaCry seems to be fairly widespread and has hit companies that use Telefonica, a Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider with operations in Europe, Asia, and North, Central, and South America. The attack has come down especially hard on hospitals and medical facilities in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. While anyone who hasn’t updated their Windows PC recently is vulnerable, the good news is that attempts to contain the attack’s spread have paid off. The number of infected computers did not increase the week following the attack as many had expected.
If you are looking for ways to avoid being a victim of this attack take the advice of your IT Department or IT Consulting company. According to security company Bitdefender, follow these five steps:
- Disable your computer’s Server Message Block service.
- Install Microsoft’s patch.
- Backup your data on an offline hard drive.
- Install all Windows updates.
- Use a reputable security software to prevent attacks in the future.
Stay tuned for more updates on this attack and follow our biweekly blog at M&H Consulting.