CBTech Tip: buying a computer for school

Can you believe it is almost time for school again?!?! Normally, schools require computers to complete classwork, homework, and research. With everyone attending school remotely to complete this past year, and the uncertainty surrounding in-person classes in the fall, a decent computer is necessary.

When deciding to buy a new computer for school, or for any purpose really, the question you should ask is, what am I going to use it for? Some common answers are:

  1. browsing the internet
  2. email
  3. specific applications
  4. attending class remotely
  5. video conferencing

For 1 and 2, the specifications are not demanding. You can get by with a stock computer from any local computer sales store. However, we would still recommend that the processor be an Intel Core i5 or i7. The RAM (or memory) used for browsing the internet will depend on how many browser tabs or windows you have open at one time. The more tabs or windows you anticipate opening the more RAM you should have in your computer. We would recommend at least 8GB.

A computer used for specific applications will need to meet the requirements of the vendor who made the application. All vendors will list minimum and recommended system requirements. You should review those requirements for each and any application you plan on using before buying the new computer. Just as with browser tabs and windows, the more applications you run at one time the more RAM you should have in the computer.

The last component that should be considered when buying a new computer is the hard drive type and size. You have two choices for type: traditional spinning drives (often referred to as SATA) or Solid State Drives (often referred to as SSD). We almost always recommend SSD drives because the performance is much better versus traditional spinning drives. The size of the hard drive all depends on how much data you plan to save on your computer. If you are using the computer to browse the internet and/or use email, then the size of your hard drive doesn’t need to be large. However, if you are saving images or video (which are the largest file size consumers) then you should get a larger hard drive.

Happy shopping!

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How to work from the beach

It’s summer. You’re at the beach (observing physical distancing guidelines of course). You need to finish up some details to close a last-minute deal. You need to access that critical file because you’re the only one that can handle it. You’re out of luck, right? Not so fast! There are many ways to remotely, and securely, access business resources outside the office.

The first rule of thumb is to ask your technology services provider what methods are available to you. They should be able to help you implement something that fits your needs, budget, and security concerns, if they haven’t already.

The next rule of thumb is that the ways to get to what you need are as varied as the types of resources you want to get to. It all depends on what you need to get to: files like documents or spreadsheets, or applications like QuickBooks. And each business is going to have different requirements, regulations, and budgets, et cetera, that will determine what method or methods can be used. This brings the first rule of thumb back in to play: your technology services provider will know what methods fit your situation best.

Enjoy your summer!

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Insert Excel Data in a Word Document

Sometimes you may want to display an Excel data table in a Word document. Did you know you can create/format the table in Excel and then insert it into Word? Here’s how:

  1. On the Insert tab, in the Text group, click Object.
  2. In the Object dialog box, on the Create from file tab, choose Browse, and locate the file you want to insert in the Word document.
  3. Choose one of the following: To add the file as a linked object, select the Link to file check box, and then click OK.

Now that you have the table in Word, how do you make it fit on one page you ask? Follow these steps:

  1. Click somewhere inside the table so that the Table Tools tab appears at the top of the window.
  2. Click the Layout tab under Table Tools.
  3. Click the AutoFit button in the Cell Size section of the ribbon at the top of the window, then click the AutoFit Contents option.

Now what if you want to have any changes made to the table be updated in the Word document? Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Open the Word document where the spreadsheet will display.
  2. Open the Excel worksheet that contains the data you want to link to the Word document.
  3. In Excel, select and copy the range of cells you want to include. If you plan to insert more columns or rows into the worksheet, select the entire worksheet.
  4. In the Word document, position the cursor where you want to insert the linked table.
  5. On the Edit menu, select Link & Use Destination Styles or Link & Keep Source Formatting. Destination Styles uses the default Word table formatting, which usually results in a better-looking table. Keep Source Formatting uses the formatting from the Excel workbook.

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CBTech Tip: Password Managers

So many *choose your own explicative* passwords to remember with different requirements!!! Ugh, there must be a way to remember them all without writing them on post-it notes!! Hello Password Manager!

What is a password manager and why should I use one? According to Wikipedia, a password manager assists in generating and retrieving complex passwords, potentially storing such passwords in an encrypted database or calculating them on demand.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Install the Password Manager
  2. Enter all your passwords you want it to remember
  3. When visiting a website, the password can be pulled from the password manager and automatically filled in to the fields.

When you are required to change a password, you can use the password generator, built into most Password Managers, to generate a long complex password. Now, you can be secure and compliant without having to remember that password.

When selecting a password manager, you should ensure that it *does* store your passwords in an encrypted format and has multi-factor authentication. For the top Password Managers, including complete features and reviews, check out this article from PC Magazine: https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/300318/the-best-password-managers

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How to identify phishing emails

A phishing email is an email scam designed to trick the recipient in to clicking a link, opening an attachment, or giving valuable information to a hacker. Have you ever received invoices claiming money owed, unsolicited UPS or FedEx shipping notifications, or emails claiming your online bank password needs to be reset? These are phishing emails trying to reel you in by imitating legitimate businesses and their communications; once you click the link or open the attachment the hacker has set the hook. Here are some Google Image examples of phishing emails: http://bit.ly/2qkHAOU.

It’s more important than ever to be vigilant, with the enormous amount of misinformation, disinformation, and scams permeating the web during this crisis. How can you protect yourself? The best way to stay protected is through education. Knowing what to look for in an email to determine if it is legitimate, being suspicious of any communication that seems out of the ordinary, and verifying the authenticity of an email through another means like phone or text are all ways to avoid getting caught on the hook. Take our phishing quiz to test your knowledge: http://bit.ly/2zw0wiC. There are also many technologies available to assist in protecting you. Email systems with anti-spam components, security software with anti-phishing link tracking, and spear-phishing pattern detection and testing systems are all available to help keep you safe. This infographic from one of our partners has some great tips on what to look for in an email to determine if it is legitimate or not: http://bit.ly/2HKaGzP.

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How to avoid tax-time scams

It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again: Tax Time! And along with all the fun gathering of documents, numbers, and other records, comes the usual spike in malicious email and phone calls. Each year, the IRS keeps a list of the top 12 tax scams that it calls the “Dirty Dozen”. Here is 2019’s list: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-concludes-dirty-dozen-list-of-tax-scams-for-2019-agency-encourages-taxpayers-to-remain-vigilant-year-round.

Being a technology company, we’re going to focus on the technology-based scams, specifically email and phone. The usual email/phone advice applies: if you don’t recognize the sender/caller and they initiated the conversation, delete it/hang up. Now on to some of the scams that made the 2019 Dirty Dozen!

Phishing Schemes:

Phishing is nothing new (especially if you’ve been following/reading our blog). However, there was a twist back in 2018 that saw scammers using information stolen from tax professionals to file fraudulent tax returns and direct deposit refunds into the real taxpayer’s bank account. The scammers then pose as a collection agency or IRS agent to trick the taxpayer in to sending them the money, thinking they are returning the fraudulent refund. You can read more on the IRS’s website here: http://bit.ly/2Fy3W8r.

Fake Charities:

No one wants to say to no to someone in need, and tax time offers the added advantage of being able to help someone in need and get a little help in return. Of course, scammers like to take advantage of our benevolent nature, so the IRS put together a website where you can check to make sure a charity is legitimate and qualified: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search. If you receive an email or call from a charity soliciting a donation, feel free to look it up before taking any action. You can read more about this specific scam on the IRS’s website: http://bit.ly/2W2yHHo.

Remember, the IRS will never (taken from their website: http://bit.ly/2AQf8cF)

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill to any taxpayer who owes taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving taxpayers the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • Call you about an unexpected refund.

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Start off 2020 with a bang!

Over the past year, we’ve read a lot of business books. We thought we’d switch it up a little and start off 2020 talking about business plans. There is a myriad of books on the subject, and just as many philosophies about how to plan. We’re not here to say if one book is better than another, or way is better than another; we simply want to share what we’ve found in the hopes it might help you too.

One of our favorite books is The E-Myth (Revisited) by Michael Gerber. It’s an easy read and has lots of great information. Another good book is Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish (and Scaling Up, which is a revision of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits). We also like Mike Michalowicz’s books. The common theme between all the books we’ve read is that having a business plan is a great way to start setting goals and reaching them. Even if it’s just jotting down a few goals along with activities to reach the goals, that’s great; it doesn’t have to be a multi-page complicated document. The important thing is to get started. Once you get in a rhythm, it becomes habit.

Taking the time to sit down away from the whirlwind and create a plan is important too. We start our planning in late November and try to set aside at least half a day of uninterrupted time. The key is to be uninterrupted while working on your plan, whether it’s for 15 minutes or an entire day, so you can truly focus.

If you would like to discuss this topic further, would like introductions to business coaches, or would like more book recommendations, fill out our contact form: bit.ly/2pPj4C8

Best of luck in the new year!

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Password Managers

So many *choose your own explicative* passwords to remember with different requirements!!! Ugh, there must be a way to remember them all without writing them on post-it notes!! Hello Password Manager!

What is a password manager and why should I use one? According to Wikipedia, a password manager “assists in generating and retrieving complex passwords, potentially storing such passwords in an encrypted database or calculating them on demand”.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Install the Password Manager
  2. Enter all your passwords you want it to remember
  3. When visiting a website, the password can be pulled from the password manager and automatically filled in to the fields.

When you are required to change a password, you can use the password generator, built into most Password Managers, to generate a long complex password. Now, you can be secure and compliant without having to remember that password.

When selecting a password manager you should ensure that it *does* store your passwords in an encrypted format and has multi-factor authentication. For the top Password Managers in 2019, including complete features and reviews, check out this article from PC Magazine here.

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National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. What is cybersecurity? Google defines cybersecurity as “the state of being protected against the criminal or unauthorized use of electronic data, or the measures taken to achieve this”. The technology industry uses it as an umbrella term to cover anything from the anti-virus protection on your home computer to corporate policies that define how to respond to a data breach.

So what can you do? Education is key. The most common way to be affected is through email based scams called phishing attacks. Here are a few examples of these fake emails: http://bit.ly/2qkHAOU. You can also take advantage of a wealth of information available online such as:

Making sure you are backing up your data, and using multiple layers of security, like firewalls and anti-virus software, are other ways to minimize your risk. You should also make sure all your software is up to date; this includes Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and any Adobe products.

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