Keyboard Shortcuts: Boosting Productivity a Few Seconds at a Time

July 8th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

mvi control keySimply put, a shortcut key, or Keyboard Shortcut, is a key or combination of keys that execute a specific function quickly and easily without the use of the mouse. For many users, especially those who haven’t been through any formal computer training, the use of shortcut keys has never really been embraced. It seems the time it would take to memorize the combination and re-train oneself to use them would outweigh any possible productivity gain. Let’s explore that a bit, shall we?

Shortcut keys are typically accessed by using the Alt key, the Cmd key(Apple), Ctrl, or Shift. The standard method for specifying a shortcut is to list the keys in the order that they should be pressed. (If you are new to shortcut keys, understand that you will not actually press the plus “+” key, but rather add the next listed key while holding down the first.) Example: CTRL + S would be instructing you to press the Ctrl key and, while continuing to hold it down, also press the S key.

Each time we remove our hands from the keyboard to grab our mouse or trackpad we lose a few seconds of time. Learning just one or two shortcuts, then, may not add up to all that much time savings overall. However, when a number of shortcuts are learned and put into practice, many users are amazed at the boost in their productivity. The time savings could even total 8 full days per year, according to Brainscape!

If you’re not already using shortcuts, you definitely should do so. Word processing, including email composition, is a great place to begin. Start by learning these 12 basics:

CTRL + A Select all text
CTRL + S Save current document file
CTRL + X Cut selected item
CTRL + C Copy selected item
CTRL + V Paste
CTRL + P Print the current page or document
HOME Goes to the beginning of the current line
CTRL + HOME Goes to the beginning of the document
END Goes to the end of the current line
CTRL + END Goes to the end of the document
CTRL + Left Arrow Moves one word to the left at a time
CTRL + Right Arrow Moves one word to the right at a time

Ready for more? Find a more extensive list of Windows shortcuts HERE.

 

 


Email: Effectively Manage the Monster with Batch Processing

June 24th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

For many of us, our day at the office starts the same each day. We greet our coworkers, grab our first cup of coffee, sit down at our desk, and log in to our computer. Next, it begins:  A constant flow of interruptions streaming from our Inbox. Sounds, pop-ups, and color changing icons, often arriving simultaneously on each of our devices, decimating concentration and demanding our immediate attention.

According to a study on email statistics by The Radicati Group, over 100 billion business emails are sent and received each day. That’s a lot of email interruption! What’s more, Gloria Mark, associate professor at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Irvine, estimates that it takes about three minutes on average to regain focus after a task shift, such as responding to an alert, occurs. Wow! That means just 4 email interruptions could erode productivity by as much as 20% of every hour of our day!

So what is the solution? For many, the answer lies in batch processing; setting clearly defined time frames for addressing emails. Turn off the alerts or close the program while you work. Then, schedule blocks of time for email just as you do your other tasks and projects. By spending just 20-30 focused minutes, two to three times per day, your overall productivity could increase by as much as 40%.  Additionally, by scheduling these email sessions in the morning and afternoon you will be able to schedule other work triggered by the emails, reply, and have that response acknowledged during the same business day.

Give it a try!


The Crypto Virus: Are your files safe?

June 11th, 2014 by MVI Team

You own a computer, so you’ve certainly become familiar with the threat of computer viruses; destructive pieces of software that work to negatively impact productivity and, in some cases, maliciously breech the security of your most sensitive data. For years we’ve worked to prevent the annoying pop-ups and slowed processing caused when these pests sneak their way onto our machines unknowingly attached to files or downloads. Today, however, a far more vicious threat is being used by cyber-criminals to make millions of dollars off vulnerable prey.

The Crypto Virus, also known as “Ransomware,” is a relatively new attack that works by locking down your machine or encrypting your files, rendering them inaccessible. They become password protected, at which time you receive a message similar to this:

Your files are now held hostage, with the password (or key) offered for a price. If you fail to deliver on the payment, your files are locked forever.

There is no perfect reaction to this kind of infection. Rather, being proactive and PREVENTING the attack is best. If you have the Securelink Essentials Anti-virus plan, you’re already covered. Other anti-virus and malware solutions may also prevent infection; speak with your IT resource for further details if you’re unsure.

If you DO become infected, here are some simple first steps to minimize the damage:

  • Do NOT give your credit card number to pay for your files release. Cases have been reported where, even after payment is made, files were not decrypted. In addition, you’ll have now exposed your credit card number to the added risk of fraud and identity theft.
  • Contact your IT resource(s). Let them know you think you’ve been infected. It may not be too late to seek help.
  • Avoid plugging flash drives/removable media into your workstation. The infection can lock down these files as well.

Again, the best defense against this type of attack is to prevent it. Additionally, faithfully performing scheduled backups can eliminate countless headaches should your important files be permanently encrypted or corrupt.

If you would like information on how Securelink Essentials can work behind the scenes securing your data and managing routine backups, please contact us today.

 


TechSpot Article – Google bans Chrome extensions that don’t originate from the Web Store.

June 10th, 2014 by Pamela Michael

If you regularly use extensions for your Chrome browser, you may want to check out this latest article published in TECHSPOT. Google is now only allowing extensions to be installed from the Chrome Web Store directly. The change marks an effort to cut down on the number of malware installations.

See below for a link to the article in it’s entirety.

CALL US at 616.776.0400 if you are having trouble accessing any of your favorite extensions, or for more information about keeping your office secure.

TECHSPOT  – In an effort to cut down on the number of Chrome malware installations, Google is now only allowing browser extensions to be installed directly from the Chrome Web Store. It’s a move the company says will help keep its users safe as they browse the web.

The change will also affect extensions that were previously installed. Google tells us that some may be automatically disabled and cannot be re-enabled or re-installed until they’re hosted in the Chrome Web Store.

Google will, however, continue to support local extension installs during development as well as installs via Enterprise policy for the developer community. Those with a dedicated installation flow from their website can also make use of the existing inline installs feature. As such, Windows developer channel users are unaffected by these changes.

It’s worth pointing out that these changes only apply to Windows users and only to those using the stable or beta builds of Chrome. It has no impact on Chrome for Mac, Linux or Chrome OS.

If you do notice that some of your favorite extensions are now shut down, there really isn’t much you can do about it (short of changing browsers or operating systems) except hope that the developer gets them approved by Google and added to the Chrome Web Store.

Google already employs a number of features to keep the bad guys out. For example, Safe Browsing alerts users if they’ve stumbled upon a potentially dangerous site or download while a reset button has been implemented in the event your settings get hijacked.


Looking for additional FLEXIBILITY and SAVINGS? It might be time for Office 365.

June 5th, 2014 by MVI Team

Micro Visions, Inc. Office 365 Email Certainly you’ve heard of Microsoft Office. In fact, you’re probably a user of the 2010 or 2013 version of the software. But are you familiar with Office 365?

Office 365 is a version of the Microsoft Office Suite that runs in the cloud. Meaning, it runs on a host of servers out on the internet. Though still a relatively new way to use software, cloud computing is quickly gaining traction in a variety of business environments, mostly due to the many advantages that being in the cloud offers.

First and foremost, Office 365 does not use local Exchange servers for email; it is all hosted in the cloud. What this means is that instead of your single local Exchange server, there are a cluster of Exchange 365 servers handled by Microsoft. This eliminates your company’s need to host and maintain an Exchange server. Not only does this save on energy costs, but backups and fail-overs are all done on Microsoft’s end; you don’t have to do a thing. This allows you to keep focused on the task at hand, and leaves the day-to-day maintenance to Microsoft.

The rest of Office 365 Suite functions much like its locally-installed counterpart, with virtually no differences in daily operation. Additionally, from an ownership standpoint, Office 365 brings with it one significant benefit; the ability to recover and recycle users. To explain, let’s use a hypothetical scenario: Tom has been working at your company for several years and is getting ready to retire next month. Tom is an Office 365 user, and has the software installed on both his laptop and desktop. Tom’s replacement, Nancy, is starting the week after Tom departs. You want to make sure Tom no longer has access to his account once he leaves, while also guaranteeing that Nancy can easily log in. With Office 365, the only thing you would need to do is remove Tom’s old account from your Office 365 licenses and replace it with Nancy. No additional purchases are required, no bothersome disc management, and no change in your monthly costs. You are merely swapping out Tom for Nancy.

Wondering if Office 365 might be a good fit for your company? Call us for a free consultation.

Micro Visions can walk you through the decision process, answer any additional questions you may have, and help develop a plan for a seamless migration.


Computerworld Article – Microsoft: We’re serious this time; XP’s dead to us

May 14th, 2014 by MVI Team

Screen shot 2014-05-14 at 1.10.55 PM“That rush fix last week? Just forget it ever happened”

In Computerworld’s article about the obsolescing of Windows XP by , Microsoft reminds users that it’s really really finished supporting XP… read on and follow the link for the full story (which will open in a new tab or window), or CALL US at 616.776.0400 for help upgrading and securing your office.

Computerworld Microsoft today reminded customers still running Windows XP that they would not receive security updates from the Patch Tuesday slate shipped to newer operating systems, or for that matter, future fixes of any kind.

“With today’s Update Tuesday, if you are still on Windows XP you will not receive any security or non-security updates through Windows Update or Microsoft Update,” said Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc on a company blog. “Because support has ended for Windows XP, we are no longer releasing updates to the general public for Windows XP going forward.”

LeBlanc’s missive was little more than a reminder that Microsoft has absolutely, positively, no-ifs-ands-or-buts retired Windows XP. The firm has been pounding the XP-is-dead drum for years at varying beats.

Microsoft served XP with its last Patch Tuesday collection on April 8, making today’s set the first sans security updates for the 13-year-old operating system.


Micro Visions Inc. Nominated for Epic Award by Grand Rapids Chamber

May 14th, 2014 by MVI Team

header-EPIC-Awards-625x250

Micro Visions Inc. is honored to have been nominated for a Grand Rapids Chamber EPIC award under the category of Women-Owned Business of the year.

The EPIC Awards celebrates those businesses and people who are doing great things in the business community by being Entrepreneurial, Progressive, Innovative and Collaborative.

Six categories of awards recognize businesses and individuals supporting the community, demonstrating growth, finding ways to innovate, and are working with others as mentors and collaborators.

For more information about the event, please visit the Epic Awards Event listing.