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Softphones and PABX 101

Softphones – software programs that allow you to make calls through the internet – can be a convenient way to communicate, but they can also pose security risks to businesses. Fortunately, softphones for PABX networks provide all the same conveniences but with more exclusivity and security. Technology has always had a profound impact on the way we do business, especially these days with the constant need to stay in touch with bosses, clients, and co-workers. A breakdown in communication often means a dip in productivity – so you always need to have the best and most effective means of communication at your disposal. One of these means is softphones, which are basically software programs that allow you to make calls in much the same way as you do using a telephone or mobile device, except it’s through your internet connection. The most popular softphones include Skype, MagicJack, or Yahoo Messenger’s call feature. However, there are also softphone technologies that can utilize your PABX (private automatic branch exchange) network, which – while more limited in a general sense – are much better for businesses because of the security they offer. Softphones on PABX work better for business purposes because of the nature of the PABX networks themselves. The privacy and exclusivity for your business communications are maintained, and PABX softphones make communication convenient without compromising security. If you want to know more about softphone technology for your PABX network, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss a detailed service blueprint that will work for you.

Important Update: President Signs Red Flag Clarification Act into Law

Professional service providers such as attorneys, accountants, and doctors no longer fall within the definition of a creditor under the Red Flag Rule. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) so-called “Red Flag Rule,” which requires all businesses that are potential identity-theft targets to develop plans to spot red flags and prevent theft, received much criticism for being too broad. But now there’s some relief:  S. 3987, the Red Flag Clarification Act, which President Obama signed into law in December 2010. To recap, under the Red Flag Rule, the FTC had been interpreting “creditor” broadly by including organizations that defer payment for goods or services and bill clients later. This led to widespread concern that the Red Flag Rule would be applicable to entities not typically thought of as creditors, including law firms and health care providers. The Red Flag Clarification Act exempts such entities by revising the definition of creditor to exclude creditors “that advance funds on behalf of a person for expenses incidental to a service provided by the creditor to that person.” Essentially, the Red Flag Clarification Act limits the scope of the Red Flag Rule to creditors that regularly and in the ordinary course of business obtain or use consumer reports in connection with a credit transaction; furnish information to consumer reporting agencies in connection with a credit transaction; or advance funds to a person based on the person’s obligation to repay the funds. The legislation does include a provision that would allow other types of creditors to be subject to the Red Flag Rule if the agency with authority over the creditor (such as federal banking agencies) determines that the creditor has accounts that are subject to a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft.

Virtual Private Networks—Do You Need One?

Learn how setting up your own private network can radically improve, if not transform, the way you do business. The world is flat. That is if you ask New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman, who wrote a book of the same name describing just how the world got flatter and flatter thanks to a whole host of factors, one of which is technology. Technology — most notably computers, telecommunication devices, and the Internet — has allowed individuals and organizations to create, communicate, and collaborate like never before. One question that always pops up, however, is how to maintain privacy and security in this brave new world of greater transparency and connectedness. Until recently, the only way was through cumbersome and expensive means. Companies, especially large corporations, previously resorted to setting up their own infrastructure (think miles and miles of cable, satellite uplinks, or large line-of-sight communication links) or leasing infrastructure from telecommunication companies, just to be able to set up and maintain their own private and secure telecommunication networks that can span large distances. With the advent of the Internet, however, setting up private networks has become much cheaper and easier. Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, allow companies to create their own secure, private networks within the public network using technologies such as encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorized users can access the network and the data within. The Internet is used only as the transport layer, radically reducing cost and time to set up because of its ubiquity, simplicity, and scalability. Examples of how a VPN can benefit your organization include the ability to: Allow your people to work anywhere at any time — as long as they have Internet access and VPN support. Link together your offices and employees anywhere in the world, securely and cost effectively. Extend your operations around the world — sell online, move goods across borders, recruit talent from anywhere! Can you think of other ways a VPN can help you and your organization? Let us know. Thinking of setting one up right away? Call us and find out how we can help.

Seeing QR Codes, But Don’t Know What They Are?

As smartphone technology continues to improve in terms of providing connectivity, it follows that your internet marketing strategies must be able to accommodate these advances. One strategy you can employ is using QR codes, a simple and effective way to market yourself. Smartphones are becoming more and more popular these days, as both hardware and software developers add features to phones and operating systems that make them much more appealing to potential buyers. And as smartphone technology continues to improve in terms of providing more connectivity to the user – not only through the mobile network but to the internet as well – it follows that your internet marketing strategies will need to incorporate the smartphone factor. One simple strategy that you can employ is using QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes, which are simple 2D barcodes that can be scanned using a smartphone. Numerous scanning applications are available to read these barcodes, and once read the code will redirect the user to any link you set up. QR Codes are also fairly easy to create, making them a great on-the-fly strategy if you want to market something quickly and easily. An additional strength of QR Code-driven marketing lies in the volume of people who use smartphones today – which gives you a large audience from the get go. For such a small piece of code, there are countless options for how you can use them to your advantage. If you are interested in learning more about using QR Codes, give us a call and we can come up with several strategies that can cater to your specific needs.

Life’s Little Truths

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a mechanic. If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you’ve never tried before. My idea of housework: Sweep the room with a glance. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity. No husband has ever been shot while doing the dishes. Junk is something you keep for years then throw away 3 weeks before you need it. By the time you can make ends meet, they’ve moved the ends. Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused. Don’t forget Daylight Saving Time Begins Sunday, March 13 th . Spring forward! Be sure to set your clocks an hour ahead when you go to bed.

Can Criminals Use Your GPS To Burglarize Your Home?

The Story: A couple of weeks ago a friend told me that someone she knew had their car broken into while they were at a football game. Their car was parked on the green which was adjacent to the football stadium and specially allotted to football fans. Things stolen from the car included a garage door remote control, some money and a GPS which had been prominently mounted on the dashboard. When the victims got home, they found that their house had been ransacked and just about everything worth anything had been stolen. The thieves had used the GPS to guide them to the house. They then used the garage remote control to open the garage door and gain entry to the house. The thieves knew the owners were at the football game, and they knew when the game was scheduled to finish, so they knew how much time they had to clean out the house. It seems they even brought a truck to empty the house of its contents. True Or False? While there are cases in which GPS devices have been used in crimes against their owners, this particular story is a “friend of a friend” e-mail legend according to www.Snopes.com . That said, there is a valuable lesson here: Don’t leave valuables in the car! GPS devices, like cell phones and laptops, are expensive electronic devices that are attractive to thieves. Plus, you should always make it a habit to lock your electronic devices using a strong password (one that contains upper and lowercase letters and numbers).

The Lighter Side… Funny And Odd Quotes On Computers:

“To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.” – Farmer’s Almanac “Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded when you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers and nobody thinks of complaining.” – Jef Raskin “Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.” – Rick Cook, The Wizardry Compiled “To err is human – and to blame it on a computer is even more so.” – Robert Orben “If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would cost $100, get a million miles to the gallon and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.” – Robert X. Cringely “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps weigh 1.5 tons” – Popular Mechanics Magazine, 1949

Shiny New Gadget Of The Month: www.rescuetime.com

This month’s “Gadget” is not an electronic device. It’s an online tool I’m sure you’ll be interested in checking out. RescueTime is a web application that tracks where you spend your time while working on your PC and then reports how productive you are based on what you consider productive time. Want to know how much time you REALLY spend checking e-mail, watching YouTube videos or on Facebook? RescueTime will tell you. After you’ve let it collect some data, you can go back to the site and tag various activities such as “work” or “fun time” to better track where your time is going every day. You can also set goals for yourself on how much productive versus unproductive time you should be spending every day and get notifications when you aren’t hitting your goals. They offer a free version you can download or a paid version that will track the productivity of your employees or a team of people.