Internet.org, Net Neutrality, and Your Business

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Mark_Zuckerberg_TechCrunch_2012

Photo by TechCrunch [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s venture, Internet.org, was scrutinized, amid claims that it does not support net neutrality. Various Indian companies  have withdrawn support for the project. Zuckerberg responded, saying that the two principles “can and must coexist.”

If you’re not familiar with it, Internet.org is an interesting concept where unmanned drones are being tested to provide Internet access to users on the ground in developing countries, where access otherwise wouldn’t exist. The service allows users to connect to specially-created apps, such as health sites, Wikipedia, and Facebook. The drones have already been tested in the UK. The goal is to expand to 100 developing countries, giving Internet to some of the world’s poorest.

The catch (here’s where the net neutrality debate comes into play) is that this venture only allows users to connect to apps that are specifically designed for this package — they can’t go just-anywhere on the Internet. Furthermore, Zuckerberg is hoping that by bringing on large companies, such as Microsoft and Samsung, they can provide a premium service, where users pay for more content.

Net neutrality is a fairly new term, but it is something every business should be aware of. The idea is that the Internet should be free, in the sense that Internet Service Providers should allow access to all content, regardless of where it comes from. They should not allow any favoritism, even to someone willing to pay a higher price. However, if net neutrality fails, and ISPs are allowed to block content, or if they provide favoritism, then your business could have its bandwidth throttled in order to allow service to your neighbor, who might be able to pay a better fee.

The ACLU notes:

“In the past, telecom companies were always forced – formally or informally – to adhere to net neutrality principles…. All that changed in January 2014 when a major court decision stripped the FCC of its power to enforce network neutrality protections under the regulatory framework it was using. This decision provides an opening for the telecom companies to begin exploiting technologies by monitoring and controlling data sent via their networks.” -source

So Mark Zuckerberg’s comments that he would like to see premium services added to his Internet.org package seem to contrast with the concept of net neutrality. Zuckerberg’s idea would not only prevent unlimited, unfiltered access to the Internet for the developing countries’ users, but it would put a price on the content he allowed to be delivered to them.

Net neutrality is something businesses cannot ignore any longer. The decision will come to a head soon and it will affect every single Internet user in the US and all over the globe. (Global ISPs are starting to take note of what is happening in the US.)

For a further overview of net neutrality, visit: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/moyersonamerica/net/neutrality.html. 

And if you need tech support for your small-to-medium business, give us a call at Everon: 888-244-1748, or info@everon.com. We’re here to help you, 24/7, no matter your company’s needs.

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Quick Tip: Clear Your Screen with Windows’s Shake Feature

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jelloMy exorbitantly talented coworkers are bursting with knowledge of all-things tech. Last week a co-worker showed me the coolest hack with Windows 7. It was so simple and silly I laughed out loud. It’s a fun way to clear your screen of all other windows, except the one you are working on. Microsoft calls this feature, “Shake.” I call it “the wiggle-jiggle trick.” In any case, the name says it all:

Go to the top bar of the window you want to leave open. Left-click and hold on the bar. Now wiggle, or shake, that window around by jiggling the mouse. All of your other open windows will downsize. (You’re trying it right now, aren’t you? Cool, huh? ;) )

In addition to knowing neato-fun tricks, the Everon team has the most depth of any group of techs I’ve ever met. I’m constantly amazed at how well they function together to keep our wide array of customers happy, and their computers up and running. If you’re not yet an Everon customer, do yourself a favor and give us a call. 888-244-1748. (Or email us at info@everonit.com.) The best trick these guys do is making the headache of your computer systems go away. ;)

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IoT SMB: The “Second Mover Benefit” for Small Business

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There is yet another storm brewing where mobile left off, with a new world called “The Internet of Things” (IoT). Twenty-six billion new devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020 (Gartner Group). IoT homes, known as smarthomes, or Connect Homes, are, and will be, the first adopters of these new devices. Small businesses will be the second.
McKinley IoT article-2Small business owners are also home owners, many of whom will try out new IoT devices in their homes. The decision process is much quicker for SMBs, and if decision makers like what they see, they can quickly translate, implement, and deploy new things in the workplace.

In order to gain a “second mover benefit,” however, you need to know what technologies will migrate from home to business. You also need to understand which ones will provide a high ROI (return on investment).

The top two types of devices on which SMB owners should educate themselves – and implement in their homes as a trial – are energy and security devices. Ten percent of US households with broadband have at least one smart device with energy-related functions, including eight percent with a smart thermostat and six percent with smart lighting (Parks Associates, Feb 2015).  Canary is one of the first smarthome security devices ($249 USD). It tracks motion, temperature and vibrations. http://canary.is/ SMB will move faster than enterprise companies, and they will have an immediate, positive ROI by implementing solutions which reduce energy consumption and increase security.

To further learn which technologies are best suited for both your home and business, look at solutions that address these key areas: smart thermostats, smart locks, smart light bulbs, smart smoke detectors, smart energy management devices, smart alarms, surveillance IP cameras, and smart hubs. You should note that some solutions are still in their infancy, but manufacturers have already begun to identify vital opportunities to improve both product and business continuity.

Then, regardless of the device you select to migrate to your business, after evaluating your potential ROI, it’s important to examine the security risk of exposing more of your network and critical data to yet another device that is linked to the Cloud. Work with your managed service provider or internal IT department to assess the exposure. An experienced tech team, like Everon, can ensure you have the best protections in place to be able to safely implement home solutions in your small business.

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Is Your Backup Plan Obsolete?

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Just because it’s still functional doesn’t mean it’s the ideal solution. Right? [Photo credit: Sunstarfire, on Wikimedia Commons.]

 

Technology is ever-evolving. In a blink of an eye, what was the latest and greatest is now unsupported and obsolete. Do you know anyone who uses a cell phone older than 3 or 4 years? Have you seen one recently and thought, “A flip phone, I can’t believe they still have one of those!” Or, “That old iPhone is too slow to do what I need to do.” The first iPad came out only 5 years ago, but tablets have become mainstream in that brief time. Now everyone not only seems to have one, but they’re on their second or third. It’s easy to recognize the benefits of improved/better/faster/safer machines.

In fact, you probably apply that same thought process to your Mac, PC, or server for your business.

You know that moment when you drop your phone in water? Or when your hard drive fails in your computer? The first thing that probably comes to mind is, “Shoot! I hope I can recover my pictures, contacts, documents, (etc.)! I don’t know what I will do if I’ve lost those.” You quickly realize that it doesn’t matter that you had the latest and greatest. If your data isn’t backed up properly, you now have bigger concerns than shelling out some money for replacement or hassling with a warranty repair. Data loss can be a huge inconvenience to your personal life.

But it can cripple your business.

Backup solutions, like every other technology, are also ever-evolving. What you bought back when it was considered cutting edge may have now fallen behind times. There may be new solutions out there that better fit your business. It’s a good idea to evaluate your backup plan as often as you do your smart phone or computer. Of the many options out there, it’s important to strike a balance between cost, features, and your business’s current needs.

For instance, one of our vendors, Datto, has a line of products called TDPs (total data protection) with scalable solutions that not only provide local backups every 15 minutes, for speedy recovery, but also sync offsite for disaster recovery situation, like a building fire, so your data is still safe. Another solution is the Datto NAS, in the event that you don’t have a server but need a central and reliable place to store files. (Think dedicated file server, plugged into your network, without the big cost.) The NAS, like its TDP brethren, also backs-up automatically offsite.

Everon monitors all of the backup devices we offer, 24/7. If a problem arises, we quickly address the issue to ensure your data remains protected. Monthly plans start at only $169, hardware included. Contact us today if you would like to discuss finding the right backup solution for your business! 888-244-1748 or info@everonit.com. We’re here for you.

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How to Open Multiple Windows in Excel, on Multiple Monitors

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 Excel monitors

Recently, a colleague taught me a neat trick in Excel. We’re both huge fans of the program, and we get strangely excited when we acquire new tips and tricks. Normally, the tricks we seek have something to do with complicated formulas or pivot tables. But this time it was something as simple as “How to open multiple windows in Excel, on multiple monitors.”

I’m sure anyone who has used Excel before knows that you can’t open two separate spreadsheets in two separate windows. I find that extremely frustrating because my job often requires me to compare data between different spreadsheets.  As a user with two monitors, I want to be able to compare those files side by side on each of my screens. Are you in the same boat?

Well, I have the answer to our problem. Behold! How to open multiple windows in Excel…

Step 1: Open up your first Excel spreadsheet (in the way that you normally would).

Step 2: Open your start menu and locate the Excel icon.

Step 3: Press and hold the “Alt” key and select the Excel icon with your mouse.

Step 4: BOOM! You now have two separate files open in two separate windows.

Excel

(Note: This process also works with more than two windows.)

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