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Where the EFFFF Did That File Go?

December 18th, 2015 Posted by Best Practices, Newsletters, Services 0 thoughts on “Where the EFFFF Did That File Go?”

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

We’ve all been there, right?! Desperately scrounging, clicking, and searching for that file that you just saved on your computer last week. Panic starts to set in because you need to send it to your boss or your client in the next three minutes and you can’t find it ANYWHERE!

Here are a couple of solutions for you; one that is simple and one that will require a little more time and effort.

1) Use the Search Files and Programs function within the Start menu, and

2) Organize your computer file system better.

Here are a few suggestions on how to be a little more organized so you aren’t losing your cool trying to find that file titled “Atlantis.”

1. K.I.S.S. – Keep It Super Simple!

Use the default folder to store your documents. This is usually known as /My Documents or /username/Documents, no matter if you are on a Windows computer or Mac. Do not store some documents in these folders, some on the root of the c:/ drive, and some on your Desktop. Start with, and stick to, one, catch-all folder! Oh, and by the way, try not to store anything on your Desktop. Cluttering up the Desktop is a big no-no.

2. Hierarchy

Think about how you divide up your business or job into logical units and utilize the same hierarchical structure in your folders and sub-folders. Aaron Lynn with AsianEfficiency.com suggests thinking of it “as an organization chart for your job/company, minus the positions” in his article Organize Your Files, Folders, and Documents. An example of the high-level structure would be:
• /finances
• /legal
• /marketing
• /projects
• /technology

3. Be Specific

There might not be anything worse than opening up a folder and seeing four documents named “Document1,” “Document2,” “Document3,” and “Document4.” Rename your documents with specific information including dates, type, purpose, company, etc., but utilize abbreviations when possible to keep from having an overly-long name.

Figure out what works best for you and your mind’s way of ordering things and try it out. You may need to adjust it from time to time, but eventually you’ll find a system that is easy for you to work with and keeps you well-organized.

________________________________________
Think Network Technologies
3067 Main Avenue Durango, Colorado 81301
970-247-1885 Fax 970-247-0883
www.thinknettech.com

Think receives award from ColoradoBiz Magazine!

December 9th, 2015 Posted by Awards, Staff 0 thoughts on “Think receives award from ColoradoBiz Magazine!”
2015 Award

2015 Award

Think Network Technologies has been named one of the Top 250 Private Companies in Colorado, by ColoradoBiz Magazine. We are proud to represent Durango and the IT sector, and are grateful to our customers and employees for making our success possible! Looking forward to another exciting year in 2016. Onward and upward!

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

November 9th, 2015 Posted by Best Practices, Networks 1 thought on “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree”

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

It is a phrase I hear almost daily as an IT Professional: “What do you mean my Mac won’t work with ____?” Feel free to fill in the blank with pretty much any business application you have in your business’s technology environment. Why is it that your usually brilliant IT staff has such a hard time with Apple products? Clearly they need more training, right? Well, probably not!

The Apple vs. Windows problem is real

This is literally a global issue where end-users insist on buying an Apple product instead of a Windows-based product to use as their every-day business computer, only to find that the majority of the applications that they rely on to do their job does not work on their new Apple. IT departments and their customers are butting heads over the Apple vs. Windows discussion almost every company, and yet, those customers are almost always left wondering why.

The next sentence in this conversation usually goes like this: “But you can make it work, right?!” Unfortunately, usually not. You see, professional applications are usually developed for the sole purpose of providing a specific business service/functionality to a specific business niche. As a software development company trying to sell a business application to the greatest number of businesses as possible, they have to write that application with a standard list of requirements of the computer for it to run on.

Take a look around your office, and you will most likely see Windows-based computers on every desk. Software development companies know that this is the case, so they develop these professional applications to run on Windows-based computers.

The exception here might be a computer-generated graphics company and applications written for this specific business niche. It is not a secret that Apple has the upper hand in the graphics business, therefore the software development companies within this niche are, in fact, developing their software with the standard list of requirements for an Apple computer.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

The guts and the skeleton of an Apple computer and a Windows computer are just different. And applications are developed with the specific guts of one of these computers in mind. Unfortunately, business applications continue to be developed to work on Windows-based computers because of a simple economic factor: supply and demand. There are more businesses running a “Windows Shop” than an “Apple Shop.”

I promise, your IT department is not part of some conspiracy to help Bill Gates conquer the world. That business application just REALLY does not work on your new Mac!

For advice and support on building a strong business network, contact Think Network Technologies.

Thanksgiving

Tom, the Turkey Technologist

November 9th, 2015 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Services 0 thoughts on “Tom, the Turkey Technologist”

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

Thanksgiving is around the corner. And shhhhh… don’t say it too loud, but Christmas is only SEVEN Fridays away. Ahhh, the holidays! A lovely time of year for families to get together, eat, and be merry. But, as with everything else, technology is changing even the age-old traditions of the holiday season.

Thinking back to my childhood holidays, the first word that comes to mind for me is “INTERACTIVE.” The second word… “FUN!” Remember the days when the entire family would participate in board games, cards, football in the snow?

Is it just me, or are these memories gone forever, stored away in the memory bank, never to be experienced again? Because that’s what it feels like with technology taking over our lives, even during the holidays. I dread the thought of 20 of us (many whom we only see once or twice a year), including the 2-year old, lined up on the couch, with the TV on, but all staring down at our phones or tablets in complete silence.

How to put down the phones

According to Keith Wagstaff from NBC News, “66 percent of Americans think checking phones at the dinner table should be banned during the holidays, according to a new poll conducted by Eventbrite” (2014, Put down the phone! How to break your kids free of technology on Thanksgiving).

Thanksgiving "Turkey Bowl"

Thanksgiving “Turkey Bowl”

Many of us have actually incorporated this challenge during all meals… not just holiday meals. But the key here is that every family member must be on board and commit. It ruins the whole plan when Aunt Bunny is uploading selfie pictures with the turkey to Facebook.

Experts suggest that if you are going to try this challenge, plan ahead. Speak to all family members ahead of time and get everyone’s commitment. Designate a phone drop-off place so people are not tempted by the buzzing in their pockets. And most importantly, prepare a distraction! Break out those dusty board games, air up the sports balls, and get everyone involved again!

Use technology to connect

But wait… Technology isn’t all bad, right?! Of course not, says Tom, the Turkey Technologist from Think! Technology can help improve your holidays as well. Pick up a fancy wireless thermometer for cooking that wonderful, juicy, perfect … HAM! FaceTime with your distant relatives who couldn’t travel this year. And avoid the ridiculous debauchery of Black Friday shopping by scoring all those unbeatable deals in the comfort of your PJs while sitting by the cozy fire and shopping online!

Happy Thanksgiving from Tom and all his pals here at Think!

November 2015 SB152 Ballot Question

October 6th, 2015 Posted by Community, Internet, Services 0 thoughts on “November 2015 SB152 Ballot Question”

La Plata County community citizens will have the opportunity to vote on an exemption from SB 152 later this month. Colorado Senate Bill 05-152 (SB 152) is a measure passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2005. Its intent was to limit governments from competing with the private sector.

Among other provisions, it requires local governments to secure voter approval before entering into the broadband partnerships or business. Without such approval, the law limits the ability of Colorado local governments to provide a wide spectrum of services, including:

  • free Internet service in city libraries, parks and community centers;
  • leveraging government infrastructure and partnering with private businesses to provide affordable and highspeed Internet service throughout the entire community;
  • direct provision of broadband services by municipal governments where needed.

A voter-approved exemption from SB 152 would restore local independence and ability to evaluate all possibilities for next-generation broadband services in La Plata County and our communities. An exemption supports local choice and options, allowing us as citizens to make the best decisions based on the needs of our own individual communities, without raising taxes.

To learn more about this ballot question for surrounding municipalities and county governments, please click here: SB152_E-Version_Inclusive.

To learn more about this ballot question for surrounding municipalities, please click here: www.swccog.org/projects/telecom.

More links:
http://www.durangotv.com/video-detail.php?ID=505
http://www.durangoherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?aid=/20150803/NEWS01/150809876

All information provided by the La Plata County Economic Development Alliance (www.yeslpc.com) and Southwest Colorado Council of Governments (www.swccog.org).

WEAR is Your Data Going?

October 6th, 2015 Posted by Best Practices, Security 0 thoughts on “WEAR is Your Data Going?”

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

No, this is not a grammar lesson – Today we are taking a look at the biggest technology fad since smartphones. Wearable technology, or wearables, continues to gain momentum in the sports, technology, and fashion industries. Everyone has something that tracks something that syncs up with something! I’m talking about the Fitbits, Apple Watches, Google Glasses, and other wearable gadgets that have gained more popularity than the zombie apocalypse. These exciting new “toys” are a lot of fun and provide some interesting information about yourself, but have you ever thought about who else has access to YOUR data? Wearables provide an unencrypted look into our lives for hackers, data miners, and even burglars.

Remember watching TV back in the day and seeing the special agent actually speak into his wrist to his partner that was in another country? That was so cool! And then you’d run outside to play and you would pretend to speak into your wrist like it was a secret phone. That science fiction craziness is REAL now! Smartwatches that sync up to your smartphones provide quick glances into your daily life with features such as calendaring, email, instant message, and even phone calls. Activity trackers, such as Fitbit, provide detailed reports on your daily activity levels. But they also track things such as sleep patterns, heart rate, calories, and even location reporting if they have GPS.

LifeGlogging_cameras_1998_2004_2006_2013_labeled
While having instant access to all of this information on a tiny screen that fits on your wrist, finger, neck, or face (Google Glass) is super cool, it is important to be aware that one in five wearable gadgets are sending unencrypted data (http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/02/05/tech-wearables-privacy/22955707/). Maybe you just read a work-related email on your Apple Watch, or your activity levels and location tracking were just sent to an app on your smartphone. And maybe you aren’t the only person looking at YOUR information! Without encrypting the data, these wearables are leaving your world wide open. Hackers are reading your emails, data miners are gathering the information you gave when setting up your profile (address, phone number, credit card number, maybe even social security number), and burglars are paying attention to your location and/or sleep patterns to determine the best time to enter your home.

We live in a technological world where data is worth more than gold. Take a minute to do your research, read the privacy policies, learn about the security on your new gadget, and always be aware of the personal information you are inputting when setting up your accounts. You can’t prevent companies like Target or Home Depot from losing your data, but you can certainly do your best to prevent from giving it away yourself!

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October 6th, 2015 Posted by Best Practices, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “National Cyber Security Awareness Month”

By Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

Happy National Cyber Security Awareness Month – or NCSAM for those who love their acronyms! October was declared NCSAM by President Obama in an effort to engage and educate the people on the importance of cyber security awareness. Each week for the month of October, a new theme presents an opportunity to educate others and get involved with national Twitter Chats using specific hashtags.

NCSAM also presents a great opportunity for you to revisit the importance of cyber security within your own organization! Get creative in ways in which you can educate your employees on cyber security. Some companies setup a Security Awareness booth every Friday in which they hand out flyers and/or swag with a NCSAM theme. Another option is to challenge your employees with mock phishing emails and publish generic results with a challenge to improve as a whole.

Do your research, get creative, and make it happen! However you decide to take advantage of NCSAM and promote cyber security, there are some basic recommendations for your security awareness programs out there. In 2014, Dan Lohrmann wrote the following Do’s and Don’ts for government technology in his article Ten Recommendations for Security Awareness Programs.

The Don’ts:
1) Don’t stay with your status quo – Update your security awareness content!
2) Don’t rely on videos or PowerPoint slides as the primary channel for awareness programs.
3) Don’t confuse cyber awareness programs with security training.
4) Don’t forget anyone, and don’t make security awareness an optional extra.
5) Don’t focus solely on compliance or make awareness just a “check the box” exercise.

The Do’s:
1) Ensure executive support and management buy-in.
2) Make it fun – use gamification and interactive content, if possible.
3) Include posters, newsletters, email tips, blogs, and reminders.
4) Focus on changing behaviors. Relate cyber awareness to personal life, family, and home.
5) Solicit end user ideas, encourage feedback, measure success and growth of program.

For help security your organization’s computer network, contact Think Network Technologies today.

UneducatedEmployees_IG_554

Would the Real Slim Shady Please STAND UP… At Your Desk?

September 9th, 2015 Posted by Best Practices 2 thoughts on “Would the Real Slim Shady Please STAND UP… At Your Desk?”

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

Let’s face it. It is not a secret that we Americans are more dependent on the luxuries of living a comfortable life. From our luxury cars with plush, leather seats, expansive houses with overstuffed recliners and memory foam mattresses to our sophisticated offices with ergonomic chairs and leather couches. Billions of dollars have been made in the market of making you so comfortable while sitting that you never want to get up! And because of that special niche, a healthy, fit, trim, and slim person is far and few between these days. Working the once-coveted desk job is killing us!

What do you sit on?

Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen a number of different “fads” to try and counter-balance the negative impacts sitting at a desk 40+ hours a week has on our bodies. First it was simply improving the adjustability of your chair. Then came the chairs with just a seat – no back support and no arm support, basically forcing your body to support itself. And let’s not forget the Swiss Ball chair – you know, that giant inflatable exercise ball that you would randomly lose control of your core muscles and roll right off the side of it… usually in the middle of a meeting or conference call. Speaking of core muscles, another weapon of choice was office yoga! That was just a little awkward walking in on the boss enjoying the stretch of an upward dog just a little too much. And now we are all being pressured into the newest trend of standing desks or even treadmill desks!
office yoga ball chair
The fact is, scientists have proven that a body in a constant state of rest is actually killing us. According to Time.com, “Studies have long connected sedentary behavior to poor health, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. (Park, A. Sitting is killing you. 2014.).” But the kicker in today’s findings is that these health risks are not just related to a lack of daily exercise, as was once thought to be the case. Instead, researchers are finding that people who exercise regularly but still sit for longer periods of their day are still at risk!

Standing Desk and Alternatives

So why not try a standing desk – you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for one. Veridesk.com has adjustable height stations for under $400, or you can easily prop your monitors and keyboard up on a homemade standing station for much cheaper. If a standing desk is not doable for you, then you can also try out these tips recommended by Time.com:

  1. Every hour try to walk around, whether it is down the hall and back or for a quick stroll in the fresh air
  2. Stand, rather than sit, when using public transportation to commute
  3. Get rid of the wheely desk chair so you have to get up and move around your workspace

Sure, there will always be the naysayers who are against the standing desks and argue that people’s standing posture is worse than when they are sitting so they are doing more damage to their skeletal structure. Posture is important, whether you are sitting or standing, but the important lesson here is to try and MOVE more than you SIT! Stand up, walk around, do office yoga. Whatever it takes, get that body in motion!

Is Your Security Layered Like Your Bean Dip?

September 9th, 2015 Posted by Best Practices, Security 0 thoughts on “Is Your Security Layered Like Your Bean Dip?”

By: Alicia Hernandez, Think Technical Writer

So there’s this simile… Stop me if you’ve heard this one… That says you should layer your security like a seven-layer burrito. Sounds like a logical thought to me! If you prefer burritos over bean dip, you are welcome to sign up for The Seven Layer Security Burrito: How it All Stacks Up, a live webcast with Channel Expert Hour and Open DNS on September 15, 2015. Otherwise, let’s talk about my favorite: bean dip!

No matter the simile that you prefer to use, the layered security approach is a simple concept to grasp. The more hoops a hacker has to jump through, the less likely they are to be successful. Of course, the tricky part here is not creating a bean dip so thick that your chips keep breaking off in it. In other words, while you want your hackers to have a hard time breaking into your systems, you still want to keep it simple and [nearly] seamless for your users to access the information they need.

Layer #1: Response Plan

So let’s look at this layered approach as if we were making a bean dip. The first layer along the bottom (the furthest inside your business) is your RESPONSE plan. In the event you have a breach, having a response plan laid out ahead of time will help you ensure that you address all of the necessary pieces of remediation. Without a plan, you are more likely to miss something as you hastily try and patch your holes, leaving your company still vulnerable.

Layer #2: Monitoring and Alerting

The second layer includes MONITORING and ALERTING. Without a solid monitoring and alerting system in place, you may never know that a hacker has infiltrated your systems, much less be in a position to take immediate action and reduce the damage to be done.

Layers #3 and #4: Data Encryption and User Permissions

The next two layers are kind-of like your lettuce and tomato – they just go together as one layer. Probably the most important piece of your business is your data – whether it is PII customer data, secret family recipes, or engineering blueprints – so we need to do what we can to protect the data. On the other side, hackers are out to get the data, so DATA ENCRYPTION in conjunction with user PERMISSIONS are very important layers!

Layers of Security

Layer #5: Applications

Logically… See I told you this was a simple-to-understand approach… the data lies within APPLICATIONS, so this is where our next layer of security falls. Again, ensuring access to the applications is accurate and limited, and practicing secure coding methods will help protect your application layer.

Layer #6: Operating System

The applications are usually accessed from a user’s desktop PC and/or laptop, so we want to ensure this is secure as well. Antivirus software, security policies, and patching are all methods to secure the OPERATING SYSTEM.

Layer #7: Network Security

And, finally, everyone’s favorite part of the bean dip, the cheese…or from a layered security perspective, the NETWORK! Setting up firewalls, intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, and user authentication technologies are just a few of the ways to protect your business from the bad guys.

While the following papers aided in the writing of this article, I recommend reaching out to Think Network Technologies for a layered security bean dip specific to your business!

Peters, C. Layered Protection for a Mobile Business
SANS Institute: Layered Security: Why It Works
TechRepublic: Understanding layered security and defense in depth

Are your POS Devices EMV Ready?

August 13th, 2015 Posted by Best Practices, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “Are your POS Devices EMV Ready?”

What is EMV?

If you are a retailer, financial institution, or a regular old Joe who accepts credit cards for payment, you should be well-aware of the “Payment Network’s Liability Shift associated with EuroPay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV)” (para. 1). October 2015 is the highly-anticipated date in which you and your POS devices will need to be EMV-compliant.

This is a global effort to reduce financial fraud by embedding smart chips within new EMV-compliant credit and debit cards, allowing financial transactions to work across many cards and devices around the world. With over 15.4 million POS terminals in use internationally, these chips will allow interfacing with the various POS terminals possible (para. 2).

How could EMV compliance affect you?

credit card terminal

Credit card terminal (source: Wikipedia)

So what’s the big deal and why do you need to jump on this train? Two words: LIABILITY SHIFT! You, as an issuer or merchant accepting payments made with EMV-compliant cards using a non-EMV compliant device, are now assuming all liability for any transaction found to be fraudulent. The term “issuer” refers to banks, credit unions, and any other financial institution issuing credit or debit cards (para. 6).

Spending $1,000 on a new POS device seems pretty cheap compared to the price of fraud mitigation. In the U.S. alone, an estimated $10 billion in card-fraud related costs is anticipated for the 2015 calendar year (para. 3). Believe it or not, October is just a short two months away, and poor planning on your part could potentially lead to a very heavy liability price tag.

Protect your customers and yourself and be EMV Prepared! For more detailed and specific information related to your individual business EMV requirements, please contact your credit card device vendor or your bank, as they will have the best information for you.

Resources

Citations in this article reference Will Retailers be Ready for EMV by Oct 2015? by Payments Leader. Another recommended read is EMV: America, What Took You So Long?

 

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