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Office 365 Licensing Change | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Computer Consulting Experts

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Later this month, Microsoft are rolling out changes to the way it manages your Office 365 license. According to their official update notification “These changes will help simplify activation management and streamline the Office activation experience for users.” Most people will probably not notice a difference, but if you happen to run your 365 on multiple devices, you may see the change.

Subscribers can use their Office 365 account on up to 5 computers, 5 tablets and 5 smartphones. Currently, if you reach the device limit, you are asked to deactivate one of your installations before activating Office on a new device. Once the change comes into affect, you won’t have to anymore! Office will simply log you out of your least-recently used device when you reach your login limit.

As before, you will still sign-in to activate Office on your devices, and Office will automatically pick up the credentials and activate Office, if single sign-on is enabled.

For subscribers on the Monthly Channel, this is expected to start in late August, (although no specific date has been announced yet), and like all other updates, will just happen automatically.  

Switching Phone Systems to VoIP | Fraser Valley Technology Consultants

cloud hosted cell phone

Is VoIP for you and your business?

cloud hosted cell phone

The traditional business telephone solution is showing its age. With the Internet and online technologies powering more and more business functions, organizations are finding it difficult to justify keeping the good ‘ole traditional phone line for their communications solutions. When you add to that the consideration of the initial cost of implementation and how difficult it is to scale a traditional PBX phone system to accommodate for growth, more and more businesses are looking for a more dynamic, and more flexible, solution that’s in line with their needs.

This is where cloud VoIP solutions are coming to the rescue. VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and is a type of phone that uses the internet to make a call! It can either connect to someone else who is also on an internet-capable system or switches to the conventional phone line at one end if needed.

A More Flexible Option

VoIP systems are, cheaper to implement and to manage, often allowing rapid changes to your phone system configuration on-the-fly. With all your staff on the same system, they can work from anywhere and still take advantage of the VoIP phone System.

Plenty of Features… if you need them!

Telephone service providers may often bundle services together in an attempt to offer consumers the opportunity to get more for their money, but these “cost savings” may not actually be worth it if you do not fully use all the services the package provides. With cloud VoIP, you get exactly what you pay for - no more, no less. This helps you build a solution to best align with the specific needs of your business. Plus VoIP systems still have an abundance of fancy features for you to choose from, if you need them!

Adjustable for Growth

The traditional PBX phone system is often difficult to work with, especially if your organization is constantly growing. For each new user, new phone lines and extensions have to be added to your telephony infrastructure. With a cloud VoIP solution, the phone infrastructure is much more dynamic and new users can be added easily. You don’t have to lay new phone lines or remodel your office every time you add users!

To add to that, it is very portable - meaning you can still answer your phones from wherever you have a good Internet connection. (And many VoIP providers also allow you access through mobile apps!)

Some Cons

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution and not everything in life is perfect. There is almost always the odd con with most systems, and VoIP is no different. VoIP systems are completely reliant on your internet bandwidth (even though they are smart enough to work out when you are not speaking and not use bandwidth in those moments) - so a good internet connection is vital. Our team have become experts in properly assessing your connectivity and working with your ISP to get the best connection.

Along with an Internet connection, the system is also completely reliant on a power source, so power outages can cause a problem. We implement batter backups to reduce this issue.

Also, if you dial 911, emergency services may not automatically be able to locate where your call is coming from, so they can divert you to the nearest dispatcher, like they can with traditional phone calls. You can, however, register an address with your number to aid this.

Fully-hosted and Maintained

Managing and maintaining a telephone system can be complex, especially if you already have other priorities, like managing your day-to-day business operations. Implementing a new system can also be daunting… however, that is why we are here! Wild Frog Systems can advise you on the best system for you and provide the care needed to ensure that you get the most out of your telephone system.

To learn more about how cloud-hosted VoIP can benefit your business, give us a call at 778-771-0184 or email info@wildfrogsystems.com.

Is AI as scary as it sounds? | Fraser Valley IT Consultants

AI (or artificial intelligence) is such a big buzz word/phrase, right now, as more and more new products are claiming to use the technology, with plenty more predicted to come. AI is everywhere… from transportation to healthcare. This year’s CES even featured a few products claiming to be AI-infused, although how many of these products are actually AI? Should we be worried about the rise of the machines? Well, it really depends on what your definition of AI is.

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To many of us, you say AI and you immediately conjure up scary images from movies like Terminator or iRobot, with a real fear that one day machines will eclipse mankind and relegate us to some form of servitude or post-apocalyptic society. In reality, the version of AI that we are now seeing is actually a subcategory called machine learning. It is really a form of coding that is allowing a machine to finish its programming by learning from various patterns and behaviours that it observes. It really doesn’t have an awareness of self or independent thought beyond the given task. (Big sigh of relief there!)

So, looking at real world examples, take the self-driving car. It uses the data, rules and parameters that it was given (highway code laws, maps, your chosen route, collision avoidance rules) to navigate roads it hasn’t travelled on before and get you to a destination. It may use AI to make an instant decision to avoid a collision or choose a better route in a heavy traffic situation, but it doesn’t actually think spontaneously for itself and only seeks an outcome to arrive at a predetermined destination in one piece. No sudden distracted diversions because of its personal opinion that it thought the little red hatchback was cute and wanted to see where it was going! (On the very rare occasions when these cars have been involved in an accident, reports have shown that 94% of those cases were, in fact, as a result of human error, not the technology).

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It really does have some great benefits, as a computer’s black or white “thinking process” can see patterns that the human brain can miss, leading to better results. The learning process also means far less initial programming, as you are not giving it every single scenario or piece of data to work out its results – it is figuring that out on its own. Used right, machine learning can make more accurate predictions, so companies can make business decisions based on that data-driven outcome.

Machine learning technology can save lives –medical tech that requires action when it knows body chemistry isn’t correct (eg an insulin pump that uses data to know when to deliver a dose). It can save time and money – predicting a product’s performance success & making design adjustments in the early development stage, rather than having to spend more time finding those flaws at the prototype stage. The benefit list goes on.

Of course, research and development into AI is still very much ongoing, and its definition (& role in our society) will definitely change over the next 10, 20 or 50 years. It may replace the jobs of some, but it will create jobs in other areas. For now, though, it is very much at the forefront of current technology development trends and is something to embrace rather than fear.

Time to Upgrade To Windows 10? | Chilliwack IT Consultants

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If you or your company are still running windows 7 on your desktop(s), now is the time to start planning an upgrade to Windows 10. The clock is ticking as Microsoft begins the one-year countdown to when they cease support for Windows 7.

Whilst mainstream support has already ended, the extended support will come to an end on January 14, 2020. That may sound like a long way away, but for many companies that are running multiple terminals with little to no down-time available, time to upgrade will need to be planned very well… and very soon.

You may be thinking “why do I need to upgrade at all? My computer is working ok”. Well, here are the top reasons to upgrade…

Computer screen with the word security on it.

Computer screen with the word security on it.

1. Better security. No system is 100% secure but upgrading to the latest version means far more defense against the nasties of the internet, in its varied forms, whether it is online browsing or just accessing your terminal and files. Plus, you get more regular (and better streamlined) updates as improvements or new threats pop up.

2. Speed! They say time is money, so why do you want to waste time on slow boot-ups and browsing? Windows 10 starts faster, works faster and is more efficient.

3. Compatibility. As new hardware and software is developed and released, it will only work with the latest versions of Windows. Staying with an old version will just limit your ability to keep up with any such advancements.

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4. New features and better functionality. Not only is Windows 10 more user-friendly (and takes consumer feedback into account for future upgrades), but it also comes with better and more powerful media and productivity apps, and more flexibility on how and when you can use them.

If you need help or advice on how to upgrade your business to Windows 10, the tech team at Wild Frog Systems is ready and happy to help! Send an email to info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.

The Top 3 Digital Storage Solutions | Chilliwack Business Technology Consultants

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Hands up all those people who love clean spaces! There’s something very zen-like and peaceful when you work in a minimalist environment. You see the photos in trendy magazines, of the clean white desk, with just a computer, a book and a trendy looking succulent… but the reality is that the clutter-free work environment is more productive and becoming more common, thanks to the wonderful digital age we work in.

In the good ‘ole days, a cluttered work desk was a familiar sight – a pile of files or paper in the “IN tray”, another (smaller) pile in the “OUT tray”, pens, diaries, reference books, filing cabinets, sticky notes… I could go on! Now, almost everything has gone online, and hard copies are becoming a thing of the past. Your diary is on your device (synced to your computer), business is done on websites, records are scanned, interactions are made via email and you can even digitally sign contracts online.

We may be saving some forests, and filing-cabinet floor space, but everything still needs to be stored somewhere, and that’s where a different challenge comes. As the digital revolution has boomed, so has storage needs. Thankfully, technology has evolved to keep up…so, what are your options?

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Local Servers

These machines are a common solution for larger businesses and have been for some time now. Like all storage devices, servers have adapted and grown, as technology has advanced. They are powerful, adaptable devices that can do a lot more than just storing files. They allow employees access to whatever they need, from anywhere in the building, whenever they need it, and working with large documents is only restricted by the speed of the network, so less waiting for things to load or save.

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

These are similar to, but less powerful than, servers. They have many of the same advantages, but are cheaper, smaller and just built primarily for file storage. These are a great solution for smaller companies that need a file server without any bells or whistles. However, backing up these devices can be trickier.

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Cloud Storage

Storing on the cloud is a newer, popular choice for companies with people in multiple locations, or anyone who wants more flexibility without the hardware headaches. Of course, the major advantage to cloud storage is the ability to access it from anywhere at any time – the world has now just become your office!

At the end of the day, all 3 methods have their pros and cons… and like many things, the perfect solution for your business depends on your individual needs. If you are thinking of changing or upgrading your data storage, our team would be happy to point you in the direction of the best plan for you.

Alternatively, if you are still working in that paper mountain, and would like advice on how technology can simplify your workflow and free your desk space, you can ask us that too! Send an email to info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.

5 Ways to Help Your Business Be More Cyber-safe! | Chilliwack & Abbotsford IT Support

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and the need for awareness has never been higher! The stats are alarming...

stats about cyber security threats

For businesses, the situation is just as scary.

50% of small businesses don't think that they will be targets of cyber crime.

BUT 40% of all cyber attacks in 2011 were on small to medium sized businesses.

The cost of cybercrime is about to reach $6 TRILLION, with no signs of slowing down!!

Put simply, EVERYONE is a target for cyber crime - the bad guys are not picky about size of business or the industry. As with so many things in life, prevention is much better than cure... but in the business world, cyber crime prevention can save hassle, time AND a LOT of money.

This month, we are sharing tips and advice here and on our Facebook Page ... but to start, here are 5 ways you can help make your business a #cybersafebusiness !

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1. Secure personal devices. Personal devices allow us to do business "on the road", but limit how much you use them, avoid public wifi for work use when you can, and make sure employees follow a security policy.

2. Train employees on the threats. If your staff are online at your business, include training on the latest threats, such as email scams, viruses, phishing and malware.

3. Teach smart clicking. Make yourself, and your staff, familiar with what a suspicious link and email looks like. Things to look out for include hyphens, numbers, spelling mistakes and symbols replacing regular characters. (We have a blog post illustrating some ways to safely spot bad links.)

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4. Use strong passwords. Make your passwords obscure, long and a good mix of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. Use different passwords for different places and do not write them on scraps of paper where they can be taken or copied.

5. A have a good plan in place for when employees leave. When an employee leaves, make sure their account passwords are changed immediately, and documents are secure.

To celebrate Cyber Security Awareness Month, and to help give local businesses a leg-up on getting #cybersafe, we are offering 30% off our Tech Health Check-ups!  These check-ups do cover way more than just your security vulnerabilities. We look at all of your technology and the way you use it, to see where you can avoid future problems, and find out how you can work smarter while saving money.

Is Flash dead? (The Adobe one... not the super-speedy DC Comics one!) | Chilliwack Computer Support

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Whilst you may occasionally still come across a website using Flash to dazzle you, the only real time you see it, these days, is when you get to a site that uses it to run video... and too it often tells you can’t view the video unless you update your version. Of course, if you have surfed there on an Apple device, you will have seen the even bigger brick wall of “This device does not support Flash”! So, is Flash dead then? Not quite yet, but it is living on borrowed time now, so I think we can safely say that it is NOT something to consider if you are building your business a shiny new website.

Flash always had a number of drawbacks to start with, like its many security issues, the need for your viewer to have a player installed to see the content, and its ability to eat up your device’s power and memory. It was also starting to get on the nerves of prospective consumers. One expert in an interview with Marketing Sherpa compared it to taking a performer to your local supermarket and, when a customer tries to enter, having your performer stage a 2 minute show all about the shopping experience they are about to have. In today’s busy world, how many customers would stop and watch the show, compared to the ones trying to push past him as quick as possible. (How many times, when watching YouTube, do you hastily click on the Skip Ad button? Same thing!)

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A few years ago, spurred by the power issues on mobile devices, Steve Jobs announced that Apple products would not support Flash at all… and so the first massive blow was given to this Piñata. The beating continued from other directions like Chrome and Safari, and last year, Adobe finally announced that it would finally pull the plug on Flash at the end of 2020.

The end of Flash may be coming, but that doesn’t mean the end of flashy websites. There are other ways to make your site look slick – whether it is just picking a great, straight-to-the-point design, or by using HTML5, which has replaced a good deal of flash functionality but without most of the cons (particularly the power issue). Your customers will definitely appreciate your site’s ease on their device batteries!