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The first quarter of 2015 is almost done so let’s get straight into it.

Cloud Management Tips – Who Owns the Cloud?

cloudLast newsletter prompted a question of “Who owns the cloud?

The answer is it depends – on what sort of cloud you are talking about.

Common public cloud scenarios like drop box, or Flickr, or Office365 the infrastructure is owned by the company involved. The data is always yours. Always check the terms and conditions!

Common private cloud ones like all your online banking for instance are owned by the bank – but you can access your data – though I suspect it’s not actually ours.

And then you can own your own private cloud. For as little as a few hundred dollars, the right router and some hard drives you can create a private cloud structure where you can access your data anywhere – while it is stored right at your house or office. Mind you this is not a safe a scenario as using something like Office 365. For instance your encryption layers will not likely be anywhere near as good as Microsoft’s. Neither will physical access to your premises be anything like as secure as theirs.

We can sit down with you and talk about your current business technology usage and what cloud services you could be using that could benefit you in one or more of these areas – cost reduction, efficiency, data security and access, and business continuity. Call me to discuss today on 0414 770 002.

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10

windows8I think all of our customers are finally off Windows XP. Hopefully there are none left using Vista – please contact me if you are! We still have quite a few customers using Windows 7 and in some cases we have plans to migrate them to Windows 8.1 soon. However many people don’t like change and think Windows 8.1 is strange, scary or confusing. So this section is a little bit about why you should be thinking seriously about upgrading to Windows 8.1 now and Windows 10 soon.

First of all here are some of the major reasons Windows 8.1 is better than Windows 7.

  • Improved Start-up times – the same PC will boot up a LOT faster with Windows 8.1
  • Better Battery Life – laptops get longer battery usage with Windows 8.1
  • Faster PC – your existing PC will run faster with Windows 8.1
  • More stable – Windows 7 was pretty good – Windows 8.1 is even better
  • Synchronisation – Windows 8.1 synchs your data, settings and desktop through OneDrive – it’s the same on every PC you log into
  • More secure – Free antivirus and anti-malware built in
  • Designed for Touch – if you have a touch screen or device you will rapidly find speed gains over using the mouse – especially useful for tablets

We recommend Windows 8.1 Pro for all businesses as there are some significant additional features over the standard (consumer) edition including:

  • Join a domain – required to network to your company server
  • BitLocker – encrypt your hard drive against theft – very important with laptops
  • Remote desktop application – connect to another PC remotely
  • Hyper-V – ability to run virtual machines inside your computer

Windows 10

http://blogs.windows.com/business/2015/01/21/windows-10-an-exciting-new-chapter/

Office 2016

http://blogs.office.com/2015/02/04/next-chapter-office-windows/

Skype for Business

http://blogs.skype.com/2015/03/17/welcome-skype-for-business

Windows 10 builds on Windows 8.1and according to Microsoft “is their best enterprise platform yet enabling our enterprise customers to be more productive, simplifying management and deployment, working with all of their existing apps, and helping to protect corporate data better than ever.”

More on Windows 10 in another edition. Right now we are trialling the developer previews of Windows 10, Office 2016 and Skype for Business in a virtual machine and learning about them.

Typically we upgrade a computer to Windows 8.1 from Windows 7 for $150 plus the cost of the software - $189 for Pro and $129 for Standard. All your existing programs and data will remain in place.

Special Deal – mention this newsletter and get a 5% discount off our Windows 8.1 upgrade price. Call us and we will help you identify exactly what you need and what benefits you can achieve with an upgrade to Windows 8.1.

Using Paste in Excel

excelCopying and Pasting is an important PC skill to know and learn. Office 2013 has built on previous versions of Office and provides many options for pasting.

Some examples include just pasting the formats, just he values, just the functions or more esoteric things like column widths in Excel, and even utilising mathematical functions. This article gives you some great tips and information about pasting in Excel.

http://spyjournal.biz/pasting-office-2013-newsletter

If you want to know more about improving your spreadsheet design for more efficient use and ensuring your results are accurate then give us a call.

Other office 365 News and Updates

Office 365 continues to pump out updates, improvements and features.

The latest news is that OneDrive for Business comes to Mac and iOS devices

onedriveSometimes One Drive stops synching correctly. If you have One Drive folders that are not synching correctly try this Repair tip.

Right click the blue cloud in the task bar and click Repair. Follow all the prompts.

Social Media Tips and Information

Today we are just going to give you a list of some great information that has come across our desk in the last 2 weeks. If you want to get more regular updates, follow us on twitter, or our daily or weekly newspapers.

If social media seems like foreign world or nightmare to manage (and it can be) then try out sourcing it to us. Our global team of social media experts can work with you to successfully represent your business in social media with cost effective measureable results

Web Design - What should your website be trying to achieve?

Many websites are confusing. Why do I say that? Because if you stand back and look at the site there is no clear purpose or intention of the site. A businesses website should be very obvious. Either its purpose is to inform and educate, sell product, or provide a mechanism for the enquirer to quickly and easily contact the business. Sometimes it is a mixture, and when that occurs the separation should be clear. E.g. a blog should be used for the education and information component. It should be used as a tool to drive customers to calls to action either on the site or directly with your business. Sales and shopping pages should be obvious and easy to navigate.

When considering a basic website for a small business the primary purpose of the website is effectively marketing. It is to create a way to bring customers into the business and add sales revenue and profit. If the website does not do that it should be retrained or sacked just like you would with a non performing sales employee.

Spending sometimes several thousand dollars on a “brochure ware” site that contains some outdated historic information about the companies past, a google map and some very bland generic product or service statements is basically a waste of money. The first and foremost goal is to create a way for prospective customers to actually contact you. This should be done through sales messages, advertising images and text, calls to action and contact forms. Showcase your company’s offers, deals and discounts, provide easy access to virtual sales people, real world online chat or at the very least a telephone number and email address.

The first marketing action we perform is to first find out what exactly the clients goals are. We ask the client about what they want the website to deliver to the business in terms of sales, contacts or enquiries. We then do some market research – search keywords, audience insights from social, competitive analysis. This allows us to set the site up correctly for SEO analytic tracking and measurement. Finally the customer has something that can be used to effectively replicate them in an online world.

webdesign

Here are our basic design principles:

  1. Keep it simple stupid – KISS - Don’t make it hard to find things. One layer of navigation, front page calls to action, side bar enquiry forms and information.
  2. Clarity, Conciseness and Care - Short simple sentences work best. Say exactly what you mean. Spellckecha evyrething!
  3. Use The Correct Heading Hierarchy - Websites have structure. We use this because SEO loves it and it reads better.
  4. Limited use of colours - We use colour palette generators by much smarter people than us who have thought these things out already. Readability for vision impaired is smart as well as thoughtful.
  5. Keep people on your page - We use content sharing tools to recommend further content from within the site
  6. Keep people coming back for more - Regular updated content is extremely important for SEO, and keeps people coming back. It is a great driver for ongoing social engagement and interaction.
  7. Be Social - We use simple recognisable tools to make it easy for people to like and share your content as follow you on social media

Contact us today if you need help fixing your site, or for a whole new refresh! Mention this newsletter and we will provide a free site review – normally worth $199.

Follow us on Social Media

As always we are your web, cloud and technology specialists. I am constantly learning new things and spending time researching, playing and testing new systems and reading about other people in the IT world doing the same thing. If you want to follow along with what I share in various spaces then connect with me on these platforms:

Did you know that in a study of 200,000 ostriches over a period of 80 years, no one reported a single case where an ostrich buried its head in the sand? Yet we use that expression to describe people who want to ignore the future. In technology the future is in cloud. Most of the major growth that is occurring in technology (above industry trends) is in the various cloud services out there. We talked about that last newsletter and it has sparked numerous interesting discussions with a number of our clients.

As always I am available to respond to your requests, queries and provide you with information.

I don’t charge by the phone call – and as I often say “it’s cheaper to ask me then it is for me to fix something after its done wrong”.

Cloud Management Tips – Where is my data? Is it safe?

clip_image002We are going to keep writing tips on cloud management as there is just so much misunderstanding out there as to what the cloud is and how to leverage it in your business safely and effectively.

One of the biggest fears our customers have is storing their data off their PC. There are various questions around who has access to it, if it’s safe, and so on.

Let’s bust a myth but also add some words of caution.

Is it safe? The easy answer is not only a resounding yes – but also its much safer. Your PC has a single point of failure – the hard disk. And they fail all the time – in fact more than any other PC component. We deal with them all the time – I have two clients pcs here right now with failed drives from the last week. So storing your data on your hard drive is not safe. Even having a local backup may not ensure your data is safe if that gets destroyed, e.g. in a fire or theft.

The cloud is designed to be always accessible, always backing up and constantly redundant.

Different organisations do different things but the big ones (Microsoft, Google Amazon etc.) all have geographic redundant storage duplication ensuring your data is spread all over the world for safety sake.

clip_image003Security. Now don’t be alarmed by that last statement. The word document you just made with all your user names and passwords in it cannot be seen by technicians in data centres all over the world. Microsoft Office 365 data duplication is done at a very basic level – way below encryption. No one could steal drives from a data centre and recover your data. It’s just not physically possible. Physical access to centres is tightly controlled and access is never given to physical entry as well as user information. In fact user access is only ever granted to an engineer with your specific permission. Any other technician can only ever see data as encrypted information for which they have no access.

If you want to read more about Microsoft’s security then check this website. Other storage providers have similar security in place. Check their sites if you want to know more.

http://products.office.com/en/business/office-365-trust-center-cloud-computing-security

We can sit down with you and talk about your current business technology usage and what cloud services you could be using that could benefit you in one or more of these areas – cost reduction, efficiency, data security and access, and business continuity. Call me to discuss today on 0414 770 002.

PC Patches – managing your computers’ security.

clip_image005Many of our customers wonder why they constantly have to patch their Windows PCs. Often they think that Apple Macs don’t have patches. They find it frustrating and confusing.

Hopefully I can explain some points here.

Microsoft has committed to delivering an operating system in Windows 8.1 that is extremely flexible, and has world class security levels (e.g. hackers find getting access to these systems very difficult compared to previous OS (Windows XP for instance). However with millions of lines of code there are always going to be flaws. Code is written by programmers with not enough sleep and too much caffeine after all. Someone once said a programmer is just a tool that converts caffeine into code! As hackers look for flaws and ways to exploit them so Microsoft is constantly releasing patches to resolve those flaws. However that’s not all. They also release patches to provide updated driver lists to pcs for ease of adding new hardware, provide upgraded options, speed and performance updates and new features.

For individual users running patches once a month (Microsoft have what is called Patch Tuesday when the bulk of patches are released) it isn’t too onerous. By the way Apple also releases patches for Macs and their other products. See this website https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT1222

However for business users with more than one pc on premise – and particularly those with upward of 5 – who haven’t implemented a pc management strategy will definitely notice their internet slow to a crawl as 5+ machines simultaneously attempt to download and update.

Businesses with multiple computers should either be using WSUS – a patching tool that resides on a local server and downloads the patches once and then distributes them to the pcs on the network, or a cloud delivery service called Intune that is the new way of doing this. Both options also have many other features and benefits that business users can take advantage of to improve their users’ productivity.

Special Deal – mention this newsletter and get a 1 hour PC Management consultation free. We will help you identify exactly what you need and what benefits you can achieve with either an on premises server or Intune Subscription.

Using SUM in Excel

clip_image007 Have you ever used Excel? It is the most used business intelligence tool in the world. It is an extremely powerful spreadsheet tool but often people use it as little more than a glorified back of the envelope scratchpad.

We have hundreds of articles on www.spyjournal.biz relating to using Excel in many scenarios.

Today I want to show case just how to use the Sum function and the Sigma short cut in the ribbon.

The article was written for Office 2010 but is still current to 2013. http://spyjournal.biz/excel/SUM

If you want to know more about improving your spreadsheet design for more efficient use and ensuring your results are accurate then give us a call.

Social Media Tip – image sizes and advertising for Facebook

Facebook is the world’s largest advertising platform. If your business is not active and advertising on Facebook then you are definitely falling behind your competitors – they are!

However there are some tips and tricks to advertising effectively in Facebook. As a Facebook Agency account we have access to be able to help you manage your advertising, and if you have a budget of over $1500 per month then we can get you access to a Facebook account representative to assist you to maximise your results.

For the rest of you – there are some tips and tricks.

clip_image009

Links

https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay

https://www.facebook.com/business/ads-guide

If you need us to manage this for you just give us a call. We would be happy to assist you with your advertising, graphic design and photography needs and questions.

Web Design – are your contact details easy to find on your website?

One of the most frustrating things about websites is not being able to contact the company. Having an easy to find phone number, email address doesn’t seem too hard. But many business websites do not display them at all or hide them away in multiple menu layers.

If your website doesn’t have an easy way to contact you – then we can guarantee you are sending your potential customers away. And your opposition with a clear phone number and a fast response time on emails sent is happy to have them! See out site for an example of an easy to find phone number, email and multiple ways to contact us. www.jethroconsultants.com

Contact us today if you need help fixing your site, or for a whole new refresh! Mention this newsletter and we will provide a free site review – normally worth $199.

Follow us on Social Media

As always we are your web, cloud and technology specialists. I am constantly learning new things and spending time researching, playing and testing new systems and reading about other people in the IT world doing the same thing. If you want to follow along with what I share in various spaces then connect with me on these platforms:

Twitter https://twitter.com/spyjournal technology, cycling, social media, management, business, and web

Linked In http://www.linkedin.com/in/jethromanagement

Delicious https://delicious.com/jethrocon saved links

Blog http://spyjournal.biz/ all sorts of stuff including personal and family updates

Spyjournal Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spyjournal.biz tech, cycling, and other stuff

Jethro Management Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JethroManagement business, management, web

Jethro Marketing Facebook https://www.facebook.com/JethroMarketing social media, marketing

Dreamcoat Photography Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DreamcoatPhotography

Dreamsport Photography Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DreamSportPhotography

Red Hot Snapper Facebook https://www.facebook.com/redhotsnapper roller derby

Jethro Consultants is a partnership owned by Tim & Judith Miller.
We are based in Brisbane on the East Coast of Australia in sunny Queensland. Jethro Consultants and Jethro Management work together to provide solutions in the areas below.

 

Innovation in software development is in creating customised solutions for our clients. We develop Excel based reporting solutions using Excel and VBA. Our web design and hosting portfolio is growing fast with lots of new Websites being designed and hosted by Jethro.

 

 

 

Collaboration is a big part of what we do. Training in the Office suite including SharePoint, along with work in knowledge management is provided to our clients. We have written a full suite of cooking eCourses available from www.rasita.biz. Our hints and tips website www.spyjournal.biz, contains hints and tips on Excel, blogging and website development and technology.

 

 

 

Technology is something we love! Big fast computers, software and gadgets fill our office and we are always learning how better to deploy hardware solutions to our clients. We offer a full service install option with PCs being lovingly assembled, installed and configured to your exact requirements. We transfer data from your old PC and set up your email, browser, peripherals, wireless network and broadband and other personal settings for you.

 

 

 

Support. We provide basic business support, book keeping and basic accounting to numerous key clients. If you need help with bank reconciliations, payables and receivables then contact us now.

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What people say..

Deciding to start a web based business was nerve wracking. With absolutely no experience in website construction or operation I was very lucky to be introduced to Jethro through a friend. Jethro developed our initial web sites for us in a very cost effective way – making sure that we understood the implications of all our design and functionality requests along the way. Tim Miller who handled all of our development and later upgrades, was always available in short order to answer questions, fix things I broke and suggest later improvements as new, better versions of web based technologies emerged. Their integrity allowed us to focus our attention on building our business and not worrying about building our website.

— Mike Biasatti - EMS Flight Crew

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