Best Practices, Productivity, Tips & Shortcuts

Ten Productivity Hacks

Rocket IT

With everything you can do from any of your devices, technology can sometimes be more of a distraction than a help. But there are several great tools and tricks to keep you on track with your tasks. From waking up early and engaging in regular exercise to attempting to manage all of your social media pages at once, here are ten ways you can increase your productivity this week:

1. Wake up early

Sleep Cycle can help you wake up at the right time so that you can maximize how much rest you are getting. By waking up during your lightest sleep stage you will feel energized and ready to take on the day, thus increasing your productivity.

2. Exercise

Research has shown that a midday workout can dramatically increase your productivity. Only have 30 minutes to spare? Check out the Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout app. All you need is a chair and (literally) 7 minutes to get your blood flowing.

3. Humin

This app was created to connect your phone, Facebook, and LinkedIn contacts, in addition to information pulled from your calendar, email, and voicemail to help categorize your contacts and give some context as to who they are and how you know them.

4. Strict Workflow

This Chrome extension uses the Pomodoro technique which breaks your work into 25-minute intervals with short, 5-minute breaks in between. One Pomodoro is a focused 25-minute working interval, with one 5-minute break; complete four and you can reward yourself with a longer break.

5. Roboform, LastPass, and Dashlane

These password managers help you save time from resetting your password for the third time this week. One of the nice features of LastPass is the password generator. Let it generate your password and then save it for you, all in one place.

6. To-do lists

Wunderlist has compatibility for almost all devices so you can have access to your list on your phone or computer. Easily turn emails into actions, set reminders, and share your lists with colleagues with this app.

7. Keep track of your notes

Stop searching for the notes from last week’s meeting and start using OneNote. This app allows you to keep everything organized and all in one place by simply clicking between various tabbed sections.

8. Rescue Time

This download tracks your computer usage to show you just how well, or not well, you are using your time. The premise is for you to understand your daily habits so that you can increase your productivity.

9. Social Media Management

If you are managing multiple social media accounts, I recommend Buffer. Not only does it post to all of your social media accounts from one place, it also helps you to schedule your posts for later so that you can share content at the best times possible.

10. Team Collaboration

Trello is the easy way to visually manage and organize your projects with all the team members included. From start to finish, Trello helps to outline each project, assign tasks, and see the progress that has been made along the way.

 

Do you have any other great productivity hacks? We’d love to hear about them! Join the conversation and tweet us @RocketIT.

 


 

About the Author – 

Bria Mays is the Office Administrator at Rocket IT. Bria has a BS in Psychology and is passionate about volunteering and blogging.

 

 

 

Nearly 77% of small businesses think they’re safe from cyber attacks, yet more than 40% have already been victims.

Join us to learn how to mitigate this risk and what comes next after being infected by ransomware on July 27th for our Security in the Age of Ransomware webinar presented by Rocket IT’s vCIO, Eric Henderson.

 

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

Sending Emails to Large Groups without Giving Away Your Address Book

Rocket IT

Have you ever received an email and winced when you saw the email addresses of about 25 other executives in the recipient line?

For those of you who have been the ones sending those emails, sending one mass email to everyone instead of many individual ones is certainly the fastest and most efficient way to get your message out, but there is a better way. To send an email to a large group of people without giving away your address book (and giving out the email addresses of people who may not be too keen on having them shared out to people they don’t know), use blind carbon copy for your recipients.

Using blind carbon copy (BCC) allows the people entered in the BCC field to remain concealed from the other recipients. Doing this can also prevent accidental Reply to All emails.

When you enter email addresses into the BCC line of an email, you don’t need to enter any recipients into the standard “To” line. Just enter all your recipients in BCC, include your subject and your message, and you’re good to go.

You can also use the BCC function when sending a meeting request to multiple recipients. Of course, this isn’t meant to trick people so they don’t know who else is attending a meeting. When inviting executives to a large event you’re having, you may have the same message for a large group of people, and many of them may not want their email addresses to be public knowledge.

To use the BCC function in Outlook when sending a meeting request, click on the “To” box next to the text area after creating the request and enter your recipients into the Resources field. This will effectively BCC those guests.

Why are people so reluctant to have their email addresses shared with others?

Well, some people use those emails that go out to a group of people to add to their own mailing lists without getting permission from the sender or from that individual whose email address they’re adding. Many executives prefer to not receive cold emails, and when they see their email address shared with a large group of people, it may negatively impact your relationship with them. Using the BCC function is a quick and painless way to preserve the privacy of your contacts.

Now that you know how to use the BCC function, we encourage you to go forth and use it wisely!

 


 

About the Author – 

Patrick Richardt is an Implementation Engineer at Rocket IT. He was born on Thanksgiving Day, and he currently resides with his wife and two children in Gwinnett County.

 

 

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Best Practices, Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

Upsurge in Phishing Activities: Don’t Take the Bait!

Rocket IT

We’ve recently seen an increase in sophisticated phishing e-mails that could have resulted in significant financial loss. To help you detect the attempt before taking the bait, we’ve pulled a great article from our archives and updated it for your benefit.

The Internet is full of friendly people. There are Nigerian princes who want to give us a piece of their oil fortunes, in exchange for some basic bank account information, or long-lost relatives coming out of the woodwork to wire us multi-million dollar inheritances. To say nothing of the generosity of strangers: just the other day, a kindly foreign national wanted to split his investment proceeds with us, even though we had never met him.

Chances are, your spam folder is full of these laughable “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities. They’re called “phishing” attacks in IT circles. The term refers to any attempt to acquire information such as usernames, passwords and credit card or bank information from the unsuspecting public through illegitimate emails, websites or other forms of communication.

While wayward Nigerian royals and uncles you’ve never heard of may sound like the Three Stooges attempting cybercrime, other phishing attacks aren’t as easy to detect and bear more of a resemblance to a criminal mastermind like Professor Moriarty than to Larry, Curly and Moe.

Advanced phishing attacks are highly organized, highly targeted and highly dangerous. They’re also on the rise. According to a recent study by Internet security firm IID, phishing attempts for Q1 2015 were up 8% when compared to Q4 2014; 2014 having been declared in their Q4 2014 report “The Year of the Breach.” The expert criminal minds behind advanced phishing attacks often try to bait an email recipient into “biting,” or clicking, on a link within an email. That link takes the user to a fake website that looks similar or identical to its legitimate counterpart. There, a user is prompted to enter a username, password or other piece of personal data, which is then sent to the malicious third party—who laughs all the way to (your) bank.

To protect yourself from these fake links and websites, it’s important to understand the two main parts of a link: what you can see and what you can’t.

Most email messages and all websites use a language called HTML in order to tell your email application or web browser what to display and how to classify the different elements of a message or a page. One of the fundamental components of both HTML email messages and web pages is the link, which is also referred to as a URL, or Uniform Resource Locator.

A link in HTML looks like this:

<a href=”http://www.rocketit.com”>Visit us at www.rocketit.com!</a>

 

In the example above, the only portion of this link visible to you is “Visit us at www.rocketit.com!”While clicking on this link would take you to the Rocket IT website, making the following changes to the link would result in sending you to an entirely different location:

<a href=”http://www.stealmyidentity.com”>Visit us at www.rocketit.com!</a>

 

The link above would also appear as “Visit us at www.rocketit.com” in the body of the email message or text of the web page. It’s easy to think that a link like this would send you to our actual website,www.rocketit.com. However, the link would actually send you to www.stealmyidentity.com, a site that could easily be malicious.

The easiest way to verify a link’s legitimacy is to hover your mouse cursor over the link. When you do this in your email client, a pop-up box appears that shows the destination URL. If you’re using a web browser, that URL should appear in the status bar at the bottom of the browser window.

For example, the email message below looks similar to the notification that professional networking website LinkedIn sends you when you’ve received a new message. But when you hover the mouse cursor over this link, the pop-up box appears—showing you that the link leads to an entirely different place.

 

LinkedIn_1

LinkedIn_2

If your email client or browser doesn’t show the link destination, there’s an alternate way to ensure that a link is safe by copying and pasting the link URL from the source message. Start by right-clicking on the link and selecting “Copy Hyperlink” from the pop-up box. If you’re copying and pasting from a browser, this option may be listed as “Copy Shortcut” or “Copy Link Location.”

Be careful you don’t accidentally click “Open Hyperlink” or “Select Hyperlink.” Both options will send you to the link’s destination.

RightClick_1

Then, open a safe application such as Notepad or Microsoft Word. Right-click and select “Paste” from the pop-up menu to copy the link to a blank document. You can also do this by pressing the “CTRL” key and the “V” key at the same time.

If the link shows any other destination than the one you expected, do not visit the link.

It is important to note that websites often use variations of their domain which are completely legitimate. For example, amazon.com might use the “sub-domain” wireless.amazon.com for their cell phone store. The end of the domain (amazon.com) is what is important.

But if the link contains a fundamental variation of the standard domain name, something like www.amazon12.com, it may be a fake form of the URL and could be designed to steal your Amazon username and password.

In addition to destination URLs that do not match the text of the link, there are two other dead giveaways that a link is malicious. If the link connects to a foreign domain, such as “.ru” or “.cn”, there is a good chance that the link is not safe. (Note that the link in the first example connects to the domain “golestangis.ir”, which is a domain for the country of Iran.) Many organized phishing scams originate from Russia (domain “.ru”) and China (domain “.cn”).

If a link includes an IP address, such as http://15.8.145.152, then it is almost certainly not safe. As a general rule, legitimate sites do not use IP addresses in the link text.

Always remain vigilant. Many different forms of phishing attempts exist-and these messages are designed to be compelling and indistinguishable from the sites they purport to represent. If you’re unsure of a communication’s source, it’s never impolite to directly contact the company or person being represented to verify a link’s legitimacy. You’ll be glad you did.

 

 


 

About the Author-

Matt Hyatt is the Founder and CEO of Rocket IT, the IT department for all kinds of organizations around Gwinnett. His award-winning firm provides both the strategy and support needed to help businesses thrive.

Matt currently serves on the Executive Board of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce as the Vice Chair of Entrepreneurship & Small Business, is an active supporter of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and is a member of several peer groups (like Entrepreneurs’ Organization) in addition to cofounding two of his own. In 2014, Matt was awarded the Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year. 

Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife, Maureen, and their two teenage children pursuing their shared passions for photography, travel, and food. He also regularly runs with a team in ultra-long distance relay races.

 

5-voices-giveaway-thumbnailWould you like the chance to win a copy of Matt’s favorite leadership development book, Five VoicesEnter our giveaway by 12:00 AM EST on January 15th, 2017, for your chance to win!

 

 

 

 

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Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

How to Clean Up Disk Space on Your PC

Rocket IT

Your computer is running slower, booting it up is now taking long enough for you to get yourself another cup of coffee, and then you see it. A message on your computer warning you that you’re running out of disk space.

So how do you clear more room without deleting the essentials?

Move Inessential Files to an External Hard Drive or Cloud Service

We all have files we want to keep that we haven’t opened in almost a year (or longer). Those files don’t have to stay on your computer; if you have an external hard drive or cloud storage, you can keep them there and access them that way when you need them again.

For those of you who want to keep the gadget and tech clutter down, I recommend using a cloud service. You might misplace an external hard drive, but you can’t misplace a cloud account. Having a hard time choosing the right one? Check out our article on personal backup solutions.

Run Disk Cleanup (Windows)

To gain back some of that disk space on a Windows computer, you can run Disk Cleanup. Search for it from the taskbar, and then select file types under Files to Delete. Clearing your temporary internet files, recycle bin, and other temporary files can free up a good bit of space, depending on how good you are about cleaning those out on a regular basis.

Doing this should clean out your Recycle Bin as well.

Clean Up Trash Cans (Mac)

Like Windows Disk Cleanup, you can remove temporary files that are unnecessarily taking up space on your Apple. Clear all your Trash Can folders. Keep in mind that iPhoto, iMovie, and Mail have their own separate Trash Cans on your Mac, so just clearing the one on your desktop won’t remove all the deleted files. While you’re in those programs, take the time to clear out the downloads folders as well.

Clear Your Browser Cache

Windows Disk Cleaner should clear out your browser cache already, but if you don’t want to run Disk Cleaner or if you have a Mac, going into your browsers, going to the History tab, and clearing the cookies, cache, temporary files, and downloads will clear up a little more space (but probably not that much).

Use a Program Designed for Quick PC Cleanup

Piriform’s CCleaner is a great PC optimization tool for beginners and up, with advanced features for the more tech savvy users.

This program comes in three different bundles. The free version works great to clear up disk space in a jiffy without having to go through a bunch of individual steps. CCleaner Professional allows scheduled cleaning, privacy protection, real-time monitoring, and support. The CCleaner Professional Plus bundles adds disk defragmentation, file recovery, and hardware inventory on top of the features of CCleaner Professional.

Ninite’s WinDirStat is also a great disk usage viewer and cleanup program, but can seem overwhelming at first glance due to its visual aid. Once you get beyond the giant rainbow chart, it’s actually pretty straightforward.

Uninstall Unused/Unnecessary Programs

Be very careful when uninstalling programs on your PC, as you don’t want to remove something necessary to the operation of your computer. But if you never play that Spider Solitaire game, it’s okay to uninstall that make more room for other files.

 


 

DCAbout the Author – 

Darnell Clarke is originally from New York, loves sports, and is a big trickster in the office. He has volunteered as a Big Brother for Big Brothers, Big Sisters in Metro Atlanta. Darnell is a Field Support Technician at Rocket IT. 

 

 

o365-ctaJumping into Office 365 is not as daunting as you think.

Ready to dive in?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

Getting the Best Flight Price Online

Rocket IT

In the time before online booking, before you could skim through flights on your phone and get text alerts for check-in times, you had to schedule flights and check availability either through your travel agent or through the airline directly.

Think double-booking seats is a problem now?  There was no guarantee you’d be able to get an immediate answer when you called in, as they had to check their logs, and they didn’t always have a linked computer system to make sure the seating chart was updated in real-time.

Now it’s less about getting any seat on a flight and more about getting the right seat at the right price. Technology has made booking flights far less painful a process for you, and here’s how you can make it less painful for your wallet too.

FareCompare

FareCompare helps you search deals on flights from around the world. Whether you have a specific travel schedule in mind or just want to find the best deals for a currently unplanned trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, FareCompare searches sites for the best price. The web version of FareCompare opens each search in a new tab for easy side-by-side comparison.

With FareCompare, you can save trips to your “My Trip” section and receive alerts when fares drop. This is great for anyone who likes to start planning early, so you can wait and see if you’ll get a better price. Unfortunately, cheap prices can change quickly, so be sure to stay on top of those notifications.

FareCompare also provides travel tips and tricks.

Google Flights

For those of you with dates in mind for your next trip, Google Flights helps you compare tickets for airlines and discount travel services around the web, all in one window. Like FareCompare, you can sort by price and set up alerts for price drops for your trip. With Google Flights, you can also sort through options by departure, duration, arrival, airline, and stops. The default search sorts flights by price and best fit (so they’ll automatically put those round-trip flights up top and then sort by price, unless you change it).

Google Flights not only alerts you when a price drops, but it’ll also send you a notification to warn you when a price may be about to rise. For those of you who are always keeping your eye out for a better deal and sometimes miss a great one by waiting, this is a great feature to have.

Skyscanner

For those of you who don’t have specific days you’re set on flying, Skyscanner shows you the lowest airfare available in a span of time so you can choose the cheapest days to travel. You can also select their “Flexible” search tool to mix and match airlines and look for other indirect routes. It may add to your travel time, but you’ll cut out some of the additional costs.

You can also search for cheaper flights out of other airports near you instead of picking one set airport.

 


 

About the Author –

Emanuel Purcar joined Rocket IT in the spring of 2015 as a Service Team Intern and is now a Remote Support Technician. He lives in Gwinnett with his wife and their newborn son, and he plays in a Christian band with his church. 

 

 

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Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

Selecting a Personal Backup Solution

Rocket IT

We all agree that backups for your business are mission critical (and if you don’t, you should head over to my previous article on backups). But when it comes to shelling out for a personal backup system or finding the right solution for your household, it just doesn’t go as high on your priority list as it should, and the options can seem overwhelming. Do you use an external hard drive? What happens if that’s destroyed in an on premise incident as well? Do you back up to the cloud? How do you know what solution will be secure and reliable?

I recommend two highly rated cloud backup systems for personal use. You don’t need a full backup server running in your closet to keep your family photos safe, secure, and up to date, and these cloud storage services get the job done well. Plus, if something happens to your home, your backups are off-premises, and you can do a full restore from anywhere.

 

Backblaze

b2-logo-backblaze-medium

Backblaze is an online cloud storage service that gives you unlimited storage space for only $5 per device. Plus, it allows you to back up anything plugged into it, so you can even backup your USB devices.

If you need to restore your files, you can download a free restore for one or all of your files. If you prefer to do it manually, you have the option to have a flash drive delivered to you for an additional charge. According to Backblaze’s website, if you do choose to have a flash drive sent to you, you can mail it back to them within 30 days for a refund.

 

Carbonite

12f40__carbonite_logoCarbonite is more mature and marks files with a green dot so it is easy to tell what is and is not backed up. I recommend this for less experienced users, as the green dot helps them know that their data is safely in the cloud.

Like Backblaze, your data is also backed up to secure cloud storage. The cost of Carbonite right now is about $42 per year if you sign up for three years ($59.99 if you sign up for one), and there are additional premium personal plans available if you’d like to include your external hard drive in your backups or select more advanced features like their courier recovery service and automatic video backup.

Carbonite also comes with free unlimited customer service support if you’re experiencing any issues backing up or reloading your devices.

 

One of the really nice things with choosing a cloud solution is the availability of your files on the go. If you leave the photos you wanted to share on family vacation on your personal computer, and you forgot that at home, you can still pull the photos up from any other device. You can’t really do that with an external hard drive, unless you normally carry that to the beach with you.

Both Backblaze and Carbonite provide additional security options if you’re concerned about the safety of your files. They use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to send your files from their highly secure data centers, and Backblaze will give you the option of using a personal encryption key that only you will have (the only drawback to that being even Backblaze won’t have it stored for you if you forget it).

Both of these are great options, so it really just depends on the skill level of the individual and how customized you’d like your backups to be when choosing which one might be a better fit for you.

 

 


 

JHAbout the Author-

Jason Hand loves making music, serving his church and getting people excited about technology tools. He currently lives in Georgia with wife and two adopted sons.  Jason is the Systems Administrator at Rocket IT.

 

1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.

 

 

 

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Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

Top 3 Mistakes People Make When Outsourcing IT

Rocket IT

Does this sound familiar?

Your IT company offers you an agreement that lowers their accountability and increases your exposure. The limited bank of included support hours, trip charges, and a long-term contract protect them, not you.

Some IT companies engage with you in a way designed to serve their best interests, not yours. Learn how to choose an IT company that puts you first by avoiding these top 3 mistakes people make when they outsource IT.

 

Mistake #1 – They assume too much risk

Many people just want to pay for ad hoc support, thinking that it will save them more money. In reality, this costs them more. Ad hoc support is totally reactive – and many of these issues could be prevented at a lower cost with some proactive care.

Agreeing to a fixed number of hours per month can also put more stress on your company than on your outsourced IT firm. In fact, they count on it. When you go over that time, you pay more. Usually much more. And, when you only buy maintenance, you pay extra when things break.

 

Mistake #2 – They hire “cheap”

What you pay for is what you get, and when you choose the cheapest option, you usually get the cheapest return. Going with a cheap alternative for IT can end up costing you more down the line in downtime alone. Choosing an IT company based off of the services they offer and how well they’ll support you instead of just going with the cheaper option can provide you with a 50% ROI. Don’t believe us? Shoot us an email, and we’d be happy to share our math with you!

Let’s say you have 50 employees in your company, and your email is down. If you pay your employees on average $45k each, then that downtime costs you $1,300 each hour or $10k per day that your email isn’t working (because your employees can’t work either).

With an IT company that focuses on proactive service, just a 5% productivity gain from less downtime due to technical issues will save you $135k each year. If you recoil at spending on IT, you need to ask yourself this: do you want to save money on IT or with IT?

When you choose the right IT partner that provides you with an in-depth strategic roadmap to reduce risk, decrease cost, and increase revenue, the numbers look even better.

 

Mistake #3 – Signing a Long-term Contract

When you sign a long-term contract with an IT company, you’re assuming all the risk. If their service doesn’t measure up to what you thought you were getting, you’re stuck. An IT service like this may look less expensive at first glance, but it can cost you a fortune in productivity when your employees can’t work efficiently because of an IT firm that isn’t incentivized to keep your business because they know they’ll have it for the next two years. And, chances are, it will cost you a fortune in unplanned field service trip fees when they finally do come out to fix things. Don’t get locked in an agreement with a company that buries you in hidden fees.

When getting your technology up and running efficiently comes at a high cost from your IT company, employees will often wait until small problems that could have been easily solved (or prevented) become very big problems. When you sign a long-term contract, your outsourced IT is only incentivized to work on break/fix issues… They don’t provide the proactive strategy and care your business needs to thrive.

Look for outsourced IT that won’t lock you into a long-term service agreement. You should stay with them because you want to, not because you have to.

 


 

RBAbout the Author-

Ryan Bonilla is very active both professionally and personally in the Gwinnett community. He is a Gwinnett Chamber ambassador as well as serving on several committees and boards related to leadership and education. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Sugar Hill, GA.

 

 

1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.

 

 

 

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Technology, Tips & Shortcuts, Uncategorized

An Essential Guide to Computer Cables

Rocket IT

At first glance, most computer cables look pretty similar. When you’re not familiar with each cord, it can be easy to mix them up. So we’ve compiled a guide to common cables you should know along with their differences and their uses, all in one place!

HDMI

Cords-0009Your HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) cord is pretty standard. Unfortunately, it can be easily mixed up with a display port cable. You can tell the difference by looking at the corners. An HDMI cable has two full corners, and two inverted ones.

HDMI cables are used to connect digital audio/video devices, i.e. your laptop to your monitors, your game console to your TV, and more.

This cord is the most common connector for most televisions, but your resolution via HDMI can be limited depending on the device.

 

Display Port

Cords-0017Display port cables are primarily used to connect computers to monitors. Unlike with HDMI cords, most televisions do not come with a display port.

You can easily tell the display port apart from the HDMI cable once you know what you’re looking for. As you can see here, a display port cable has three full corners, whereas the HDMI only has two.

 

USB

Hold onto your hats, folks, because we’re about to go on a wild tour of USB (universal serial bus) cables.

USB Type A or 2.0

Cable Guide-0020The USB cord is probably the most universally used and recognized, but it actually comes in multiple shapes, sizes, and colors.

This USB, the standard USB cable, is called USB Type A.

USBs are typically used to charge low-powered electronics like your phone or tablet.

 

USB Type B

Cords-0019Yes, this little guy is also a USB cable.

USB Type B is typically used to plug into peripherals (printers, copiers, etc.).

 

USB Type C or 3.0

Cords-0007This USB cable looks a lot like the ones we usually see. It’s main defining characteristic is the little blue bar (as opposed to the typical white bar).

Whether you’ve got a USB 3.0 or the standard USB 2.0 doesn’t really matter much to the typical user in that they use the same ports and have equal compatibility to most devices.

The USB 3.0, however, is approximately ten times faster than the USB 2.0.

 

USB 3.1

Cords-0021This is the latest and greatest iteration of the USB cable series. One of our engineers predicts the USB 3.1 will become the new standard within the next three years.

What’s so great about this one?

It fits into your smaller devices like your phone, tablet, and more, but it’s just as capable as the larger USBs. You typically see a USB 3.1 paired with a USB 3.0 on the other end.

 

VGA

Cords-0011Cords-0012VGA (video graphics array) cables are pretty old-school. These cables use an analog signal, so the pictures aren’t as sharp when you connect your television to your devices.

Most monitors come with a VGA cable because it was the most common cable on a global scale for quite some time. And these cords are pretty cheap to buy (we have minimum 15 of these floating around in our equipment room right now).

If you’re using LCD monitors, you don’t really want to go with a VGA connection. It just won’t display as well as other options because it’s an analog signal, despite its capability for relatively high resolutions and frame rates.

 

DVI

Cords-0016Cords-0015There are two different types of DVI (digital visual interface) cables. DVI-D and DVI-I. The one pictured here is a DVI-D. With a DVI-D, you have that horizontal line next to the series of dots. In DVI-I cables, the horizontal line has two dots above the line and two dots below it.

This cable has several other iterations, but these two are the ones you’re most likely to encounter.

A DVI cable is primarily used to carry video signals. Not all DVI cables do audio, so if you’re looking to hook something up to your television, you should go with a different option like HDMI. If you want to connect monitors to your computer, DVI cables should work just fine.

We’ve found, however, that these display drivers can use up a lot of your computers’ processing power, especially when paired with an adapter to dock it with newer computers.

 

Ethernet

Cords-0013An Ethernet cable connects two wired network devices. I have one currently connecting my desk phone to my laptop’s dock, allowing my phone to access my computer (gotta love those soft phones) and my computer to access the internet through my phone, so I only have to use the wireless as a backup. Another connects my phone to our network. Chances are high that you have more than one at your desk too.

Ethernet cables are arguably the most popular type of networking cables, and they’re pretty easily identifiable.

For those of you who still remember landlines, an Ethernet cord looks very similar to your old telephone cords. Ethernet cables, however, have a wider plug.

 

 


 


BC-1About the Author-

Billy Chea collects Star Wars mugs and likes wearing unusual socks. His current favorite pair features alpacas. Billy is a Remote Support Technician at Rocket IT. 

 

 

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Best Practices, Leadership, Productivity, Tips & Shortcuts

Five Ways to Get into Fifth Gear in the Office

Rocket IT

At Rocket IT, we’ve adopted the Five Gears practice created by our friends at GiANT Worldwide to help us communicate better with each other in the office. If you’re not familiar with the tool, the five gears represent different modes any one of us is in at any point throughout the day. Each gear represents a different level of openness to distraction and interruption. For the sake of brevity (and not to give away too much of the book!), we’ll focus in on the fifth gear.

Fifth Gear is the mode you aim for when you buckle in to tackle tasks and get things done. When you’re in this gear, interruptions are the last thing you want, unless it’s an absolute emergency. When you tell someone not to interrupt you while you’re working on a report for a client later that week unless someone or something is actually on fire… That’s when you’ve already planned to enter the Fifth Gear.

Entering into this gear can be exceptionally difficult depending on your personality, habits… And on your office environment. We’re big fans of the open office environment on Rocket IT, in part because we’re also big proponents of collaboration and teamwork. So how do you get into Fifth Gear when you have distractions surrounding you?

  1. Communicate to your team that you’d prefer not to be interrupted and what ways they can send you questions they have without having to break into your workflow. Have you read our blog post about evaluating the medium through which you approach someone with a question based off of priority? This article will help you with this step.  Many people are really understanding and respectful of your desire to focus in without interruptions for questions that could easily be answered in an email or an IM. But they’re not mind-readers, so remember to express how you’d like to be approached.

  2. Come up with a system to indicate when you’re in Fifth Gear that all of your coworkers know. Whether it’s putting a red flag up on your desk or wearing a thinking cap, come up with your own best way to visually communicate when you’re not open to interruption. Since everyone in the office here is familiar with the Five Gears, we began holding up our hands to indicate when we’re in Fifth Gear and might need others to lower their voices. Keep in mind that there may be an adjustment period to this, and some people might end up with high-fives instead on accident.

  3. Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones or earbuds. This can also double as a method for indicating when you’re not open to interruption, but it really goes a long way in cutting down on the distraction noise. You don’t even need to play anything if that will pull you out of your task. It’s incredible what a little more silence can do for your focus.

  4. Use white noise playlists or device to reduce the amount of distraction noise around you. “Have a blast!” is our fourth company value at Rocket IT, and we do have a blast every day. But sometimes others having a blast around you can be a little distracting. And sometimes just normal work conversations can be distracting, especially because the urge to participate and help solve issues or join the fun can be so strong!If you’re not a huge fan of wearing headphones or earbuds for extended periods of time, this can be a great alternative for you.

  5. Reserve a quieter space in which to work. If your company has the option of open offices or conference rooms that are available for you to reserve time slots in during the work day, move yourself in there and close the door to really focus in on that big project.If your company doesn’t have that option, try finding a quieter corner or empty office you can borrow for an hour or two. Some employers will let you work remotely, and some studies find that remote workers can actually be more productive at home because they don’t have the same distractions as they do in the office.

Not all of these are an option for everyone, but we hope you’ll find one that works for you. And if you find any really great deals on noise-cancelling headphones, definitely let me know!

 


 

JM-2About the Author-

Jacque McFadden is the marketing specialist at Rocket IT. She graduated from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, and returned to Georgia after spending a year in Austin, TX. 

 

1200x627- vCIOHave you found that you need the expertise of a Chief Information Officer to help you make strategic decisions on how to leverage technology to meet your unique business goals, but aren’t ready to commit to hiring a full-time executive to fill that need? Learn about our virtual CIO services.

 

 

 

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Technology, Tips & Shortcuts

How to Delete and Turn Off Your Audio Search History on Your Phone

Rocket IT

With Android and Apple recording and filing every voice search and audio command you make, it can feel little bit too much like Big Brother is always watching. Of course, unless you turn off Google Now and Siri completely, Android and Apple will probably still have those files for data collection to improve their services unless you disable that service entirely, but you can at least avoid others accessing your phone having access to the information. To remove the files on your phone from your voice commands, follow the steps below. This isn’t just for the overly cautious among us; this is a good idea to do to clear personal data from your phone if you’re recycling or selling it.

 

Android:

Every voice search you run on your phone is saved to your Android in the Voice & Audio Activity section. You can even play them back, if you ever feel like reliving the time you frantically googled how to stop a dishwasher from spewing bubbles everywhere after your child slipped dish soap in there instead of dish detergent. If you want to delete them instead, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your Google account (you can do this from a computer too)
  2. Go to Your Activity or your Voice & Audio Activity History
  3. Click the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner
  4. Select “Delete Options”
  5. From here, you can choose to delete your audio history from today, yesterday, or further with “Advanced”
  6. If you selected “Advanced” then you should have the option to choose between the past four weeks or all of your audio history
  7. The audio history from the dates you’ve chosen will be deleted once you select “OK”

To stop your phone from recording your voice searches going forward, you’ll have to disable that service entirely by turning off Google Now.

You can do this by going to your Activity Controls page.

 

iPhone:

You have two ways to delete your Siri search history, one of which includes disabling the service entirely. If you want to keep using Siri and just clear your past history, follow the first set of steps. If you would like to delete all of it and turn off Siri, then follow the second set of instructions.

To clear the search history, but not deactivate voice search entirely:

  1. Quit Safari on your iPhone if you currently have it open
  2. Go to “Settings”
  3. Scroll down to Safari and select it
  4. Click “Clear History”

This will clear all of your search history, including your audio searches.
To clear the search history and deactivate Siri:

  1. Go to “Settings”
  2. Select “General” and scroll down to “Siri”
  3. Disable Siri by tapping on it
  4. Go back to “Settings”
  5. Select “General” again
  6. Tap on “Keyboard”
  7. Disable the “Dictation” option

Disabling Siri will clear your voice search history as well.

 


 

 

About the Author-

Steven Morgan is a Field Support Technician at Rocket IT. Steven used to teach whitewater kayaking, canoeing, sailing, lifesaving, and swimming. He also enjoys winter hikes. 

 

 

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