Chrome Extensions – Taking Your Web Browser to the Next Level

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Google_Chrome_icon_(2011).svgYour web browser is probably the most used piece of software on your PC, tablet, or phone. They are our chariot to a nearly limitless amount of information on the web. While finding information is their main function, you can supercharge your browser by using extensions or plug ins. Here are few examples of how you can get more out of Google Chrome. (Don’t worry if you are an Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox user: those browsers also have the abilities to take on similar-type plugins.)

YoWindow Weather

Weather extensions are pretty common, and there are a lot out there. But not all are created equal. This is one I recently started using. I like that it adds a little icon, which displays current temperature, to the right of your address bar. Clicking on the icon expands the extension, so you see an extended forecast, along with a ton of other information. You can change backgrounds, which also reflect current conditions, for an extra visual. Overall, YoWindow does a great job of quickly telling you what the weather is doing in one or multiple locations.

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Search by Image

This is great if you find an image and want to find others similar to it, one of better quality, or find out more about it whatever is in the picture. You simply right-click on the image and search Google (look for the blue camera), which will go out and bring back all kinds of related information. For example, I right-clicked on this picture, and the Search Image brought back a plethora of useful information about Albert Einstein.

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Momentum

This extension helps spice up a new tab when you open it — along with providing some nifty features — instead of just showing the plain white background with previously-visited sites. It will greet you, provide the time, temperature, a daily goal set by you, a to-do list, and an inspirational quote. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery!

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Of course, these  plugins only scratch the surface of what’s available. Extensions are easy to install and can usually be done in a click or two.  Head over to the Chrome webstore to check out all of the extensions, apps, and themes available. And remember, if you need help getting any of these installed on your work computers, give us a call at Everon (888-244-1748). We’re here for you, 24/7, 365.

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How to Get iOS Devices to Work with Windows Servers

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 Jeff's iOS devices and Windows servers blog-3

A while ago a client asked, “How can I use my Apple iPad with my documents at work?” 

Initially, it seemed like an easy question. Windows computers and iPads are both very popular products; of course there would be an easy solution. Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be.

These two large competitors are not very interested in working together. My client, who had his shares on a Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Server and wanted his Apple iPad to access those shares, had presented a challenge.

There were obvious solutions. You could use any number of remote desktop apps, such as Teamviewer, to get into your company’s terminal server, to work on the server’s desktop. But my client did not want to remote-in to anything. He wanted to access the documents without needing any device. He wanted to be able to use his domain credentials to authenticate and access shares.

I realized my solution needed to be broken out into a few parts. The first was to get an iOS device onto a Windows domain network. That’s actually the easiest part out of this entire process; every iOS device has a VPN tool built-in. As long as your network has RRAS (PPTP on port 1723), you can join the device to the network. If you are inside the network and have WiFi, even easier. To find the VPN tool on your iOS device, go to Settings –> VPN. It will request your information for connecting, simple as that. WiFi is in the exact same location (Settings –> WiFi).

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FileBrowser

Once connected to the network, you need to browse SMB shares. Unfortunately, Apple decided not to build this portion into their devices. You need a separate app. I tried out many, but the one I liked most was FileBrowser ($5.99). For any business looking to complete this task, it’s worth the price. FileBrowser allows you to set up locations in your iOS device, called Remote Servers, and connect to see all shares to which your domain credentials have access. For my example we joined a VPN, then mapped a “Remote Server” to an internal IP address where his file server existed, and then reviewed the various shares related to that file server.

If you have your shares locked down in the appropriate security groups, you will only see the shares to which you have access. (FileBrowser doesn’t get around any security flaws that could be present. It’s all based on your domain credentials.

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Google Docs

My client loved this, but he added one last piece to the puzzle. His company didn’t want to just view the files, they wanted to edit them, too. After much searching, I found the best tool for this job in another app (a free one) called QuickOffice, by Google (later replaced by a more powerful version of Office editing, Google Docs.) With Google Docs you can pull up any of the FileBrowser-searched documents, edit them with tools very similar to Microsoft’s Office suite, and then place them back on the server.

Although it sounds complicated, all the apps worked together seamlessly to allow my client’s company to review and edit files in their Windows environment, thus allowing them to integrate Apple devices into their Windows domain. And in the end, my client was happy.

For more information on how you can integrate your Apple products into a Windows domain, call Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

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Why You Might Want to Turn Off Your Phone’s Location Services

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How well do you know your Facebook friends? Would you want any — or all — of them knowing where you are, at any given time? Chances are, they can. Your smartphone logs everywhere you go, via location services. These are usually defaults in applications. If you don’t manually turn them off, others can find out where you are. Or where you’ve been. Common ones are Apple’s “Find My Friends” and Android’s “Locate My Friends!” apps. Your Facebook friends can use these to track you. Additionally, there are so many sub-services to location services that there are many, many more apps like these, which can “find” you and invade your privacy. (Note: this is different from the GPS tracking services used by maps, or methods the Feds can use to track criminals, etc.) Here’s how to turn off location services (and any sub-service) on Android, iPhone, and Windows phones.

Android/ Google Users:

If you’re an Android user, Google’s location services is broken down into two features:

  • Location Reporting is the feature that gives apps like Google Now, Google Maps, Foursquare, Twitter, and even your camera app access to your position. Whenever an app shows you something nearby, suggests local businesses, or helps you find the closest gas station, it’s using Location Reporting.
  • Location History is the feature that keeps track of where you’ve been, and any addresses you type-in or navigate-to. It’s how Google figures out where “Home” and “Work” are, so Google Now can estimate your commute time or give you traffic information for those places. Turning it off will still give you traffic information, but it means Google won’t try to guess where you’re going based on your previous searches.

To disable Location Reporting or History in Android:

  1. Open the App Drawer and go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap Location.
  3. Scroll down and tap Google Location Settings.
  4. Tap Location Reporting and Location History, and switch the slider to off for each one.
  5. To delete your phone’s location cache, tap “Delete Location History” at the bottom of the screen under Location History.
  6. Repeat this process for each Google Account you have on your Android device. 

iPhone Users:

To disable location services in iOS:

  1. Open the Settings App.
  2. Scroll down to Privacy, and select Location Services.
  3. Disable all Location Services by swiping the slider at the top, or scroll down to disable location services for specific apps, including Google and Google Maps.
  4. Select System Services to deny location data from specific features, like location-based advertisements, turn off Frequent Locations, or disable the “Popular Near Me” feature

Windows Phone users:

This is for Windows Phone 8.1. If your phone is running Windows Phone 8, some options and features may not be available.

To turn Location Services on or off

  1. In the App list, tap Settings –> Location.
  2. Turn Location services on or off.

To turn the Location icon on

You can see when an app is accessing your phone’s location information by looking for the Location icon. To make sure this icon is turned on:

  1. In the App list, tap Settings –> Location.
  2. Select the Show icon check box.

For more help with your smartphone, or for other computer help with your small-to-medium business, please contact us at Everon: 888-244-1748 or info@everonit.com. We are your virtual IT department.

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Everon & Datto: The Future of Backups

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I used to be scared of backups and their processes. I never trusted them. When clients called and needed a restore, I was nervous that somehow I wouldn’t be able to get the backup. These fears weren’t due to my lack of knowledge about backups — they’re relatively straightforward. Rather, they were due to the software that was commonly used to back up the client’s data. Restores weren’t easy, and I wasn’t comfortable doing them. Until I met Datto.

Datto is a product line provided by Everon. It is considered the go-to for total data protection. The basic overview is this:

We put a device in your network. That device is based off the Linux OS and connects to network devices utilizing proprietary software called Shadowsnap. When your server begins a backup, Shadowsnap  makes a “snapshot” of the various partitions on your machine. You can set the frequency of the snapshots, based on how often you want this done. For example, you could set it up to run every 15 minutes, 24/7, 365 days per year.

Those snapshots can all be mounted within minutes, and we have the ability to browse the partition structure, grab any files/folders off of the mount point, and put them onto your server. The whole process is so quick and easy it eliminates the stress of losing or corrupting a file or folder, and it gets a client up-and-running quickly.

But here is where the Datto product excels:

VIRTUALIZATION!

As little time as it takes to mount a restore point for file/folder access, it is just as quick to mount any of those restore points and create a virtual server on the Datto! Many years ago this process took me two weeks. If a client had a disaster recovery event happen, I would have to keep them offline for a while so I could try to create the virtual drives, rebuild the array, etc.

Now with Datto, a virtual server can be up and running in minutes. The virtual will boot with all properties/settings that the physical server had; users are able to connect to it as if nothing had happened to their main server. The virtualization technology runs off of Virtual Box, which is another component of the software installed on the server. Not only can you virtualize any mounted restore point, you can also export the following formats:

  • VHD -virtualization technology for Microsoft’s Hyper-V
  • VMDK -virtualization technology for VMWare

You can also complete a bare metal restore, if needed.

The backup engines operate with one of two flavors: VSS application-aware, or STC. This is VERY handy for any database applications, such as Exchange, Active Directory, or SQL, as it will truncate the logs for you, keeping the databases healthy and happy.

The virtualization is tested frequently, with test virtuals and screenshots taken automatically, per a schedule — set by you — which you can opt to do alongside every restore point.

All Dattos are managed in a nice, compact portal with Everon. We receive tickets upon any failures, so we can look at them and resolve quickly. Most failures we receive are usually just one-off issues that resolve themselves quickly. The device is rarely ever offline.

With a product like Datto in our arsenal, I now feel comfortable supporting and completing restores, even to the point to that I can give a guarantee on client’s data. For more information on this amazing product, contact Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

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Microsoft to Stop Making Windows OS: How this will impact your business

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windows 10 - last osIn a recent conference speech, Jerry Nixon, a Microsoft exec, announced that Windows 10 will be the software giant’s last operating system. Instead of creating an entirely new OS after Windows 10 is released (widely rumored to happen in July), Microsoft will continue to make improvements to Windows 10 through regular updates.

This type of OS-updating is already seen to some extent with the Apple OSX architecture. Nixon stated that a big reason behind the move was due to how the development team would lock themselves away for three years to create the next operating system… but their end-result would be a product the world wanted three years ago. Given how quickly technology changes, this new process will be a welcome departure.

Microsoft has not yet determined what it will call its iterations, post-Windows 10. However, we will not see the continued numerical names to its OS. Microsoft also mentioned that this will help sales, as the idea of selling end users on entirely new operating systems has become increasingly difficult. This way of thinking can be somewhat attributed to the failures of Vista and Windows 8.

Windows 10 will have some version of the Start Menu, which is what seemed to be a stopping point for many businesses. You can download a free preview of the operating system here. (For information on how to create a virtual Windows 10 preview, see my previous blog post, found here.)

Of special note, if you are a small-medium business: you can rejoice in the fact that you will no longer have to have a test machine in your network, to test all of your applications and specialized network setup, every time Microsoft releases a brand new OS. Once your company moves to Windows 10, you should not need to worry about having a new operating system, preventing your company from moving to the latest version. (Although you will want to ensure you are getting the appropriate updates, as they will be critical for keeping your computers protected, and allowing Microsoft to patch security flaws.)

Microsoft’s updates to Windows 10 will likely be free, similar to the way Apple handles its updates to OSX. In fact, if you own Windows 7 or later, and you update within the first year of Windows 10′s release, you will get Windows 10 for free. (Details for that can be found here.) The Windows 10 free upgrade is also free for users who have pirated software as well. (Details for that can be found here.) Microsoft is allowing this to happen to help combat piracy and ensure their OS is patched and in the hands of as many end users as possible.

Microsoft’s idea of giving away their OS for free is a departure from their old way of thinking. It is a strategic move, as Microsoft continues to battle Apple for the OS user base.

Microsoft has made some other bold changes lately, including a decision to discontinue its popular web browser Internet Explorer for its new product, Spartan. Spartan will reportedly be lightweight and very similar to other popular lightweight browsers on the market, such as Chrome and Firefox. The new browser will appear on Windows 10.

Our engineers at Everon are constantly staying on top of the tech-trends that affect small to medium businesses. If you have any questions about Microsoft or Windows 10, feel free to call 1-888-244-1748.

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