Tech

#015: MS Teams Inline Translation: Testing It Out.

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What is Microsoft Teams Inline Translation

〉How to enable Inline Translation

〉Does it work and how accurate is it?

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Podcast, we share a little bit more information on Microsoft Teams Inline Translation.

Hey, welcome back to the Power Up Project podcast. My name is Ben Love. I’m your host for today.

Now a few episodes back, I shared some new features. Well, one particular new feature I want to touch on in Microsoft Teams, which was the Inline Translation. So just to recap, Microsoft Teams is a product from Microsoft, part of the Office 365 family that lets you do, amongst a lot of other things, a text chat so you type chat messages back and forth. So it’s a real head-to-head competitor with Slack, which a lot of people have been using and also Hipchat, which less people have been using, but still one of the big ones.

So what we touched on last time is that Microsoft released a feature which was inline translation within chats in Teams. So what that means is that if somebody in a chat enters some words there, a sentence or whatever in a language that is not your native language, Teams is able to translate that automatically for you into whatever your native language was.

Now, at the time that we mentioned with this, we hadn’t had a chance to play but, I have since had a chance to play and I just want to share a couple of things that I’ve learned. First of all, you need to enable this feature using some funky behind-the-scenes stuff called PowerShell. Now, for an IT person that’s pretty straightforward. For your average user, it’s probably not. So if you do want this feature enabled, get in touch with your IT person and I’m sure they can switch that on for you. I imagine at some point soon they will move that into a nice little on-off button somewhere in the settings. But for now, you need that PowerShell script run to enable this feature on your Teams, on your tenant.

The next thing is that this Inline Translation feature is not available in the newly announced free version of Microsoft Teams, so if you are an Office 365 user, you’re good to go, but if you are not and you’re taking advantage of the free Microsoft Teams version, apparently this inline translate is not part of that particular package. So be aware of that.

The other thing I wanted to follow up onto is how it actually works. So, we’ve done a little bit of testing here. The accuracy of the translation between a couple of different languages into English and vice versa seems really good actually. It’s using one of Microsoft’s cloud translate micro services, so that’s a micro service that is part of the larger Microsoft as your suite of stuff that you can actually use yourself, build it into your own software products and whatnot. It’s very cool.

But Microsoft are leading on that to provide this translation service within Teams, which makes perfect sense if you think about it. That’s what micro services are really intended for. The accuracy of the translation is really, really good subject of course, to some of the vagaries of how people use language colloquially and some of the different grammatical constructs that you can use in some languages to the other, but in terms of actually communicating and getting the message across, it’s actually really, really good. But, what you need to understand too is that in order to translate a line of text in a chat, you still need to click a button so it’s very easy to do. I mean, right next to the actual line of text you wish to translate, you just pop open a little menu and say translate, so it’s very quick and very easy to do, but it does not automatically recognise that a line of text needs to be translated. If that makes sense.

Now, I’m wondering whether they’re going to bring this automatic real-time translation into the product at some point in the future. I imagine they will, to be honest, but for now, it makes sense that this is the way it is, because there will be times when you don’t want this thing to decide that you want that translated, so I don’t see it as a problem the way it currently is. In fact, I had a quick chat with someone from my office whose familiar with WeChat, which is one of the other really big chat platforms on the Internet, but WeChat is very much a Chinese language thing predominantly, and it has offered this inline translation for a little while now.

Primarily between Chinese and English I believe, I haven’t used it myself. This is just anecdotally and with WeChat, you also need to click a button and say, “Please translate this line of text.” So that’s another interesting little thing there, WeChat, which is definitely ahead of Teams and came out with this feature well before Teams is still sticking with the manually translate this line of text option. So, interesting thing for us to learn there.

So, that’s really our recap on the inline translation feature in Microsoft Teams. Look, bottom line is it works bloody well. It’s really super clever. It’s very, very quick and easy to use. And if you do use Teams, which I would encourage you to have a look at, and you do communicate with people who speak another language, even if only just to have a play and test about I’d get in there, give it a go. It’s a fun bit of tech.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit-IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.

#014: Hosted Phone Systems: are they worth the hype?

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What are Hosted Phone Systems

〉Is it expensive to have a Hosted Phone System?

〉What the benefits of a Hosted Phone System and why you would you need one

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we talk about hosted phone systems.

Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Dampney. Today we’re going to power up your business with a hosted phone system. A hosted phone system is a phone system that is hosted, funnily enough, on a remote service via in the cloud. We recently moved a client of ours from an old, digital, on-the-wall phone system to a new hosted phone system using the existing cabling infrastructure. We deployed a mix of IP handsets, which is a traditional desk phone. You are using your IP cabling or managed cabling. Also, soft phones. Now, a soft phone is a phone application on your desktop or laptop. It can also be on a tablet or a mobile phone.

Now, the beauty of this is that you can be connected through those devices using a headset or through the speaker and microphone natively to make and receive calls, which can actually dramatically reduce the cost of deploying these sort of solutions, without putting a handset on a desk so to speak. It also allows for hot-desking and travel, meaning you don’t need to be tied to the phone that’s on your desk. You’re actually able to use your device wherever you have your laptop, or potentially tablet or mobile phone with the application.

These hosted phone systems can lead to reduced call costs. They’re often traditionally very much cheaper than your big tier-one phone system guys, particularly the big T and others. It also gives you flexible provisioning, so you don’t have to buy 30 handsets if you have 30 staff. You can only deploy what you need at that time that you need it, particularly on the soft client side or the soft phone side. You just run up an extension when you need to use it.

Also, as I alluded to earlier, it gives you remote access to your phone system. A fantastic example of this was the phone system we recently deployed for someone. The business owner was overseas in Thailand for work, and he was able to work using the soft phone client on his iPhone and the hotel wifi where he was staying. He had the ability to make calls as though he was sitting in his office, which is incredibly powerful, but also his staff had the ability to see his presence. They knew if he was on the phone or available to take calls, so they could transfer incoming calls from the phone system on their main number, through to his soft phone client on this mobile phone. As far as his clients were aware, he was working and available as though he was in the office, which is a really powerful tool.

Hosted phone systems also are incredibly easy to programme these days. They give you so much variability in call flows, as in how a call moves through your business. One of the key factors we find people taking them up for is that they would like to more directly get calls to the people that need them, rather than going to reception and then through the accounts and then to one particular person. Automated systems can be used to get calls directly to the people that need them answered more quickly and more efficiencies and cost-savings in your business.

Voicemail to email is another fantastic feature of hosted systems or virtual PDXs, in that you can receive a voicemail via email, meaning you get the voicemail immediately on whatever device you have. If you’re out of the office, it gives you some powerful ability to more easily and quickly react to someone’s query. We all know these days people like to get information or be able to contact you as quickly as they can.

Call presence I also talked about earlier, but it’s a powerful feature as well. It gives you the ability to know where your staff are and who’s on or off a call, if they’re in a do-not-disturb status. Some of these features are in traditional systems, but certainly widespread across hosted phone systems.

Listen, I’d encourage everyone to explore the opportunity of a hosted phone system. There’s trials out there that you can take up. They’re very easy and simple to deploy. You can have your existing, traditional, primary phone number be diverted through or ported across to a phone system so you don’t lose any of your existing customer base due to a phone number changes. Look, I think they’re great for cost savings, great for efficiency, and I would recommend you go out and try it today.

Thanks for listening to the Power Up Project, brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT. Please remember to leave a review for us, wherever you found this podcast. Until next time, keep powering up.

#013: The Latest Apple Updates You Might Actually Care About

This episode is brought to you by The Small Business Download, live at The Loft, on 18 October 2018. Click here for tickets.

In this episode, we talk about:

> two recent updates from Apple you might actually care about

> the ‘screen time’ feature to help keep control of time spent on screens for you (or your kids)

> the Apple Watch 4 which comes with heart-monitoring

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we talk about two new features from Apple that you may actually care about.

Hey, welcome to this episode of the Power Up Project. I’m Ben Love your host for this episode.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a little bit blasé about all the new announcements that continually come out from all the tech companies. Now, Apple is one of those tech companies that has their big annual event about this time of year where they have this massive keynote and it’s all very flashy. They release all of these amazing new products and new features.

Now, they’ve just had that over in the U.S. and yes, they announced a lot of new products and new iPhones and whatever else. But, to be honest, I don’t really care much about that. It’s a phone, you do a lot of cool stuff with it. The new ones have got bigger screens, they cost more money, etc. But you know what? There are two features that Apple did announce at this big keynote that I actually think are really cool and actually very useful. I wanted to take you through those two if you’re an Apple user.

Now, the first of those is a feature that comes in iOS 12, so that’s the operating system that runs on an Apple iPhone or, I guess, an iPod if they’ve still got those, the iPod Touches. This feature is called screen time, and what screen time does is basically measures how much time you use your screen, or in this case, obviously, your Apple iPhone. It gives you a great little breakdown of what applications you’re using, how much time you’re spending on each, how many times you’ve picked up your phone over the course of a day, whether your time is being spent on social media or productivity apps or what have you. They give you pretty graphs and all sorts of interesting information.

It’s actually pretty useful because if you’re anything like me, if you’re anything like my wife, if you’re anything like my children, then you probably spend a little bit too much time with your screens. This is a great app giving you some insight into how much time that actually is.

Now, apparently, this thing has also got some parental controls in there for those of you may need to control yourself or maybe control your children’s use of screen time. You can actually restrict that screen time. I haven’t had a chance to play with those features yet, but being the proud father of two, I have plenty of opportunity coming up, I’m sure. I will report back when I learn more about how screen time parental controls work in the new iOS 12.

Now, the second cool thing that Apple announced is the new Apple Watch 4. Now, I’m not so fussed about the fact that there’s a new Apple Watch out. I actually don’t wear a watch to be honest, I haven’t worn a watch in many years. The fact that there’s a new one out, meh, you know what. Probably a better screen, probably costs more, all the usual things. But interestingly enough, there is a feature on there, which is a real standout. That is the fact that the Apple Watch 4 is actually an FDA approved ECG device. What that means is that this thing can produce an electrocardiogram … Well, this thing can monitor your heart and produce electrocardiogram charts and analysis and whatever of what’s going on with your heart.

Now, this is pretty amazing because the potential of this thing is that you can use this device to monitor your heart, it can alert on, well, abnormal findings if you’ve got an abnormal heartbeat, what have you else. I’ve also seen it written that it will be able to alert third parties, so for example, friends and family, if it detects and abnormal heartbeat, and also detects that you’ve had a fall. Now, this is pretty amazing to me. This means that we’ve now got a consumer device that you can wear on your wrist at all times, and it’s a watch and it does all the other cool stuff, but if that health issue is a problem for you or someone in your family, someone you love, this device can also keep an eye on that particular risk for them and alert if this problem does occur. I think that’s amazing.

Now, in the fine print, the ECG feature does not ship with the brand new iPhone … I’m sorry … the brand new Apple Watch 4. From day one when these things physically start shipping, it will not have that feature in the software. However, the feature is slated to be released with a software update just a little bit further down the track. So, don’t go rushing out on day one to buy one of these things for that ECG functionality. But if that is of interest to you, then, you know, stay tuned to that piece of tech. It could prove to be interesting for you.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts, and until next time, keep powering up.

#012: Backing Up Your Xero Data is Probably a Good Idea.

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What is Xero?

〉Why should you back up your Xero data?

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we’re going to talk about whether you should be backing up your Xero data.

Hi, welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host for today’s episode, Ben Love. Today we’re going to be touching on the topic of whether you should be backing up your Xero cloud accounting data. Now, I’m going to touch specifically on Xero in this case but the same discussion holds true for any other cloud accounting system you may be using. You might be using MYOB Online, you might be using QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks. There’s a few of them out there but Xero is definitely one of the more popular ones around at the moment. It’s the one we use here, at Grassroots IT, so it’s certainly something that I can talk about and that I’m familiar with.

Xero is a cloud-based accounting package. We put all of our financial information in there. Some us invoice from there. Some of us, it’s our CRM, where we keep our client information, supplier information. It’s pretty fundamental to running our business. So are we confident that that data is safe up there in the cloud? Look, I’m confident that the data is secure, that Xero themselves are doing a fantastic job of making sure that their platform is reliable and no one can access my data without my authorization. I also am confident that they’re doing a good job of backing up that data, right. So they take their own backup, so if they have internal failures within their system, they know that they’ve got copies of that data everywhere.

But you know what? I still want a copy of my Xero data for myself, because what does happen if Xero themselves do have a catastrophic failure? What happens, perhaps, if maybe some of that data in there gets corrupt? What happens if it’s human error, even? Perhaps I have a trainee bookkeeper come and join my organisation here who makes a heck of a mess of my books and we don’t discover that for a day, or a week, or a month later. How do I roll back to a previous backup or how do I look and see what the books are meant to look like? Interesting question, isn’t it?

Well, the good news is that there are options for backing up your Xero data. I actually had to reach out to some of my professional peers on this one. I’ve got friends who specialise in the world of cloud accounting, and the answer they came back with was a little product called ControlC. You’ll find it if you Google it, control-c.com. It’s a New Zealand-based company and they provide a product which does exactly this; it backs up your Xero accounting data.

It does some really interesting things, too. So it’ll take the daily backups, it gives you full access to historical data, so it keeps all of that history of those backups so if you need to go back and reference a particular point in time, you can. It gives you the option of local storage so you can actually store it in New Zealand data centres, and they also have other options in other countries if that’s of interest to you. But one of the really interesting things here is actually about the restoration or the restore if you actually need to get into one of those backups to get some information out. The way ControlC works is that they have an app and it gives you full access on your computer, in your office there, totally offline, you don’t need an internet connection once you’ve obviously got the backup down, to go through your historical accounting information and get access to what you want.

It’s also very cheap. It starts at about $5 a month, so for a little bit of peace of mind around your Xero accounting data, if that is something that interests you, I’d encourage you to go and have a look, control-c.com, but obviously, Google it, or of course, talk to your IT people. See if they’ve got any other products they suggest to do this job.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please, leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts, and until next time, keep powering up.

#011: Schedule a Skype Meeting Directly in Outlook

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉How to set up virtual meeting in Outlook.

〉How Skype helps in making a scheduled video conference call happen.

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project we talk about turning your Outlook meetings into video conference calls.

Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Love, and today we’re going to power up your business by using Outlook, and those Outlook meetings that you’re already using there and with one click turning them into video conferences for all of your attendees.

So, there is one assumption that I’m working from here and that assumption is that you are using Microsoft Office 365 for your email and as part of your Microsoft Office 365 subscription that you have Skype for Business. Now, in most cases, you’re going to have all those bits of the puzzle and so many people are using Microsoft office 365 these days for these pieces of their IT infrastructure it’s almost a given.

So let’s get straight into it. We’re going to be short and sweet today.

We all know Microsoft Outlook, and we all know that Microsoft Outlook has got the calendar section in there. This is where you can keep track of all of your upcoming meetings but what you can also do is you can create new meetings in there and invite other people. Now you probably already know this, so you would go to your calendar in Outlook, you would click on the area you want and click on new meeting or new appointment and up comes the little appointment window. You can type in the subject and location, you can invite attendees.

There is a button at the top there that says invite attendees. This is where after you click that, you type in the names, or the email addresses of the other people who you would like to join you at this meeting, and they will get an email in their inbox with all the details of this meeting. And on that email they can click on accept or decline, whatever the case may be.

And Outlook with all of its magic will track who has accepted your meeting invitation and who has not. Now, what we are going to do today is take that one step further though, and what we’re going to do is we’re going to use that meeting or that appointment invite and Outlook to coordinate a Skype meeting. And when I say a Skype meeting I mean a video conference. So if you’re trying to coordinate a meeting here between multiple people who are not in the same office, but they’re all sitting at a computer and ideally they’ve all got a web cam on their computer, then what you can do is you can click the little button at the top of that meeting request page that says Skype meeting.

It’s literally as simple as that. Now there is a whole lot of magic that’s happening behind the scenes right now when you click that button but what you will actually see is that within your meeting invite there, some blue text is going to appear there, which is actually a link, which says join Skype meeting.

Now, really simply, when the time comes for this meeting to actually occur all of your meeting attendees will be able to open their meeting invite from their calendar, and they will click on the blue link. A whole lot of tech-o magic behind the scenes is going to happen. Skype for business is going to open on their computer and on your computer and you will all be automatically joined into the one meeting with one click of that little button.

So, that’s it. It really is as simple as that. If you’ve ever struggled to coordinate multiple people, getting them all in the one video call, inviting other attendees, losing the original attendees, you know the song and dance, then try doing this. Use Microsoft Outlook, create a meeting and in that meeting click the button at the top that says Skype meeting and Outlook will automatically do all the coordinating behind the scenes to coordinate that video conference call.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.

 

#010: Does Microsoft Backup Your Office 365 Data? Well, Yes and No

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉Should you be backing up your Office365 data?

〉Can you trust Microsoft to protect your data?

〉How to back up your Office365 data.

Transcript:

Today on The Power Up Project, we’re going to ask the question should I be backing up my Office 365 data?

Hey, welcome back to The Power Up Project. My name is Ben Love and I’m your host for this episode, where we’re going to be checking in on the question should you be backing up your Office 365 information? Fantastic question.

Office 365, just to recap, is Microsoft’s big platform in the cloud there, which these days is really where all the focus is going for hosting our email and our file storage and our team communications, and our phone systems and video libraries. You name it, all that sort of stuff. We are putting so much of our vital corporate knowledge and content up in that cloud and we’re putting all that trust in Microsoft, that they will keep that information safe. The question? Is our trust being put in the right place? Are we right to trust Microsoft with this? There are two parts to the answer. Well, it depends specifically what the question is that you’re asking, I guess.

Can we trust Microsoft to actually protect all that information in a security sense? The answer is yes. Microsoft do an incredibly good job of security around Office 365. Can we trust Microsoft to protect all of that information in terms of a backup? What happens if Office 365 itself fails or crashes? Could we lose all of that information that we’ve stored in there? The short answer on that is theoretically yes, but in practise I’m confident that the answer is no. Microsoft have invested so much money and have designed an architecture around Office 365 that is so massively redundant and resilient that there is no chance that that information is going to be accidentally lost. However, does that mean that we should not backup that data ourselves? On that point, I’m going to say no, it does not mean that.

For example, when Microsoft backup and protect our data in Office 365, they’re not doing so for archival purposes for example. When we delete a mailbox or we delete some data out of our Office 365 tenant, that information will be deleted from that Office 365 tenant. Now, Microsoft will hold that for maybe 60 days or 90 days, or something or other. You may be able to get it back, you may not, during that recovery period. The point is, at no stage there has Microsoft failed in what they were intending to do. They protect your live active data, and they do that very well. But, there are definitely scenarios under which you would be advised to have your own backup of your Office 365 data. It’s not because Office 365 is going to crash, it’s for other situations.

How do you do that? The answer, thankfully, is very easily and also really quite cheaply. There’s a number of products on the market at the moment that are getting very, very good. There’s currently various tussles for leadership of which is going to be the better product. They leapfrog each other every few months, as these things tend to do until they all settle down. The product that we’re using at the moment with a lot of our clients, which is doing a fantastic job, is one called Backupify. There are absolutely other alternatives out there on the market that also do a very good job. By all means, google it yourself, or of course, touch base with your IT people, but these solutions themselves are also cloud based. They’re based in other data centres somewhere, not in the Office 365 cloud, for obvious reasons. You subscribe to them on a monthly basis or an annual basis and you pay a certain amount of money based on how many users you have in your Office 365 tenant that need to be backed up.

The pricing is not expensive. It could be $10 or $100 or something, depending on how many users you need to backup. Very easy to set up. It’s a very simple subscription to put in place and it’ll give you that peace of mind and that confidence that your Office 365 data is actually being backed up. So, if something does accidentally get deleted and you don’t discover that deletion for a long period of time, you will have those backups in place.

Thanks for listening to this episode of The Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts, and until next time, keep powering up.

#009: What is your Office 365 Secure Score (and why you should care)

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What is Office365 Secure Score?

〉How does Office365 Secure Score work?

〉How to increase your Office 365 Secure Score?

 

Transcript:

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we talk about the Office 365 Secure Score.

Welcome back to The Power Up Project. I’m your host, Ben Dampney, and today we’re going to power up your business by increasing your Office 365 Secure Score. So this episode is for the Office 365 users out there. Specifically, we’re talking about Microsoft and it’s Secure Score which they give you on your Office 365 service. This score is based on a number of best practise factors. The idea is that you set a score that you’d like to achieve, up to 470 points, and Secure Score can give you an action list to help you achieve this. So to get there you go up in Office 365 and go to the Security and Compliance Admin Centre. Alternatively, you can actually go directly via the securescore.microsoft.com website.

Now, at the Security and Compliance Admin Centre you can view lots of different reports and dashboards about your Office 365 tenant. But more specifically, we’re looking at the Secure Score on that home page, there. Now, there are two components to Secure Score – the dashboard and the Score Analyzer. The dashboard gives you your account score. It allows you to set the target score that you’d like, whether it’s basic, balanced, or aggressive. And then you can view the recommended actions in the queue and compare your score.

So the target score can be set to your specifications but it’s starting at balance will be a reasonably achievable setting for many businesses. Aggressive would take a rather in-depth configuration and basic, I think, probably doesn’t cover many of the things that I would consider to be critical for your Office 365 security. Now, the actions in the queue that you have there are basically open activities for you to complete to progress your score. So some examples might be, multifactor authentication, which is the subject of another Power Up Project podcast. There’s mailbox auditing, reviewing malware detections, or reviewing mailbox access, to give you an example.

Now, you can compare your score, which shows how you compare to other 365 users of a similar size to your business and also against others in your industry. Now, this could be important, for instance, if you’re in the medical industry and you’d like to know how you compare against other medical practices, how secure you are in comparison to them. The Score Analyzer shows your score over different time periods and also your completed and incomplete actions. Now, by selecting an incomplete action, you can apply that setting. So, for example, one might be Enable Client Rules Forward Block. A bit of a mouthful but if a user has a client-created email forward, so, therefore, a rule in Outlook that automatically forwards an email to an external email account, to a Hotmail account as an example, you can disable this at a system level. So you’re able to apply exceptions to this rule, also by clicking Learn More, it tells you what you’re about to change and how it will affect users so you can say, “Okay, do I actually want to do this? Is this relevant to my business?”

And then once you apply the change it tells you the points increase, but more importantly, what was potentially affected by the change. So in my example, when we enabled Client Forward Rules Block, it told me that there were potentially three rules that it affected and in this instance it didn’t actually have an effect on those. So we didn’t have an adverse effect to what was already in place. So, look, that’s a really simple explanation of how that works. There is a More option on each of those actions or activities that gives you the Microsoft website link where you can go into greater detail. But I’d like to encourage you to check out Microsoft Office Secure Score. If you have any questions around it, please contact us to discuss how we can implement some of these strategies for your business and how we can improve your overall Microsoft Office 365 Secure Score.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts. And until next time, keep powering up.

#008: Network Issues Cause Nationwide Closures at Coles

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉What lesson can we get from the “minor” network error on Coles that kept the supermarket chain closed until late morning?

 

 

Transcript:

Welcome to the Power Up Project. In this episode we talk about Coles’ nationwide outage.

Ben Dampney: Welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your co-host Ben Dampney, here with Ben Love. How are you, Ben?

Ben Love: Mate, I’m really well. But I tell you what, I’m glad I was not planning on doing the shopping this morning.

Ben Dampney: That’s right. So, it’s a Sunday morning here in Australia. And we saw, came across a news article that was quite interesting about one of the very large supermarket chains having some problems. Tell us about it, Ben.

Ben Love: [00:00:30] Well mate, this is directly from the ABC News homepage, “Coles supermarkets open after early morning technical glitch kept stores shut across Australia.” So, Coles supermarkets across the country were unable to open on time this morning due to a network error. Ouch.

Ben Dampney: Indeed, ouch indeed. Yeah, that’s a massive outage for every store in the country to be closed. It obviously shows the widespread effect that their particular network outage had. What’s the lesson here for us, Ben? As business owners and IT consultants?

Ben Love: [00:01:00] Mate, the lesson here I think, is that outages can and probably will happen, even if you’ve got the resources behind you of Coles, bad stuff can still happen. So, in our businesses, we certainly don’t have the resources of Coles to keep everything running and nor do all of our clients, but there are ways to be ready for when this does happen, and that’s called business continuity.

Ben Dampney: [00:01:30] Yes, indeed. So having a plan in place to make sure your systems are functional to some degree. Whether or not that’s … hey, even back to paper. Having something that you can rely on to do your business and your trade is really important.

Ben Love: Absolutely. Hey, I’ve got a quote here from a Cole’s spokeswoman. And I love some of the lessons this brings to us. “Earlier this morning we had some minor IT problems, in some of our supermarkets, which were out of our team members control.” So just think about all those key words that that spokeswoman has put in there. This was not a major problem. This was not a catastrophe. This was nothing in their control. But look at the flow an effect, their stores have been closed for a period of time. Can you imagine the money that did not go through the cash registers for Coles. And this was ‘minor’ IT problem that caused that. Anyway, we’re talking in circles here. The lesson for your listeners though, is that bad things do happen, no matter how prepared you might be or how many resources you throw at this. So, move your thinking a little bit sideways, away from purely technology and think more about business continuity planning. If or when your technology does fail, how are you gonna keep your business running?

Ben Dampney: [00:02:30] Good question. Something worth thinking about. All right. Thanks Ben. And thanks for listening guys, we’ll catch you on the next episode. Bye.

Ben Love: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.

#007: Let’s Talk about Multi-Factor Authentication (again!)

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉Recap on Multi-factor Authentication(MFA) topic.

〉Reasons why you need to enable MFA.

 

 

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Project, we are going to talk about multi-factor authentication again. 

Hey, welcome back to the Power Up Project. I’m your host for this episode, Ben Love. Today we’re going to retouch on multi-factor authentication. Now, we have touched on this before across many channels. We’ve spoken about this in blog posts, in podcasts, in YouTube and Facebook videos. We’re gonna touch on it again, because this is a really … this is low hanging fruit, folks. This is a really powerful way of improving the security of your systems and it’s easy to do.

So what I want to do, first we’re gonna recap. What is multi-factor authentication? Multi-factor authentication can otherwise be known as MFA, two factor authentication, 2FA, so on, you get the idea, is an additional layer of security on your user accounts that you use to access things such as e-mail or your accounting system and so on. Normally you would use your username and your password to log on to these systems. When you have MFA enabled, there is a third step.

Now, usually that third step will be a randomly changing numeric code that you get from a little key fob or an app on your smartphone and you enter that code in and then it allows you to log on to the system. What I want to talk you through today, three reasons why you need to enable multi-factor authentication. First of all, it is free. Pretty much every modern application, especially the cloud based ones, which obviously we’re all moving towards in a big way, have MFA functionality built in. All you need to do is turn it on. Simple as that.

If you are using older legacy systems, MFA functionality may not be built in, so you may need some sort of a third party product on top of that to give you MFA functionality. If that has to happen, there will be cost involved because of the third party application. But we are seeing less and less of those legacy systems around these days. Most of your systems, you will probably find, have some MFA support in them. Ask the question. Go to Google. Search for the name of your application and then MFA. See what you can find.

Point number two. It is super easy to use. It really is. Most MFA on cloud apps, for example, is provided via an app on your phone. Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator are the two main ones that most of the platforms seem to choose between. It is very easy. You go to log on your application exactly the same way you normally would. You may enter your username and password the same way you normally would. But then there will just be this extra step. All you need to do is open the app on your phone, it will give you a code, normally about six numbers. You type that in as part of the login process and you’re done. That’s it.

With a lot of the Microsoft stuff it’s even easier. When you go to log on to your application, the app on your phone will simply pop up a message saying, “This login is in process, would you like to approve it to proceed,” and you just tap the button on your phone saying, “Yes, approve this authentication attempt.” Very, very easy to use.

Point number three is that it is massively effective at increasing the security of your user accounts. Now, security needs to come in many layers. We need firewalls, we need anti-virus, we need best practise configurations, we need all of these things. There is no silver bullet. There never will be. But MFA is an extremely effective way of protecting those user accounts, because those user accounts are the keys to the front door of all of that important information and all of that authority and power that happens within your organisations.

MFA is a very, very important piece of the whole security picture. Please, have a look at MFA if you haven’t already. We will keep harping on about this.

To recap, it’s free in most cases. Number two, it is super easy to use. Number three, it’s massively effective at increasing the security on your user accounts.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Power Up Project, brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep Powering Up.

 

#006: Power Up Your Staff Training with Video

In this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉How to power up your business with videos for staff training.

〉How you can power up your process of knowledge transfer.

〉Powerful tools for uploading and streaming your training videos.

 

 

Transcript:

In this episode of the Power Up Podcast, we talk about powering up your staff training with video.

Welcome back to the Power Up Podcast. I’m your host, Ben Love, and today we’re going to power up your business with two fantastic tools that we use here at Grassroots IT all the time. One of them is called Snagit, and the other one, Microsoft Stream. What am I talking about here? What I’m talking about is developing a library of video content that you create yourself in your business to help with staff training, knowledge retention and that knowledge transfer. The reason this came to me that this was such a good thing to talk about is that I was meeting with the client early this week. Lovely group of people. Simply because of the nature of their business, they have a fairly high staff turnover. One of the things that they always have to pay attention to is the onboarding of new staff, training, and really not losing that organisational knowledge as that knowledge walks out the door as staff turnover, just through the course of business.

One of the points that we discussed was using video to capture a lot of this knowledge to pass on to newer staff members. How do we do that? There are two parts to this. The first part is using a little tool on a Windows computer called Snagit. It is a commercial tool you need to pay for but it’s not very expensive. Do a Google search for Snagit and you’ll find it. If you’re working on a Mac, then you can actually just use the QuickTime player that’s built in and it will do exactly the same job. What Snagit and the QuickTime player can do is record your screen. Everything you move around on your screen, the mouse clicks, the applications you open, et cetera, can be recorded into a video. If you have a microphone on your computer, I suggest a headset just for the quality of the audio there. You can record a running commentary on what you’re doing at the same time.

What you can do, let’s say you have a particular process that you need to follow to create an invoice for a client. Oftentimes, writing that down step by step in written language can be quite laborious and as such, often doesn’t get done. It gets put in the too hard basket. With a tool like Snagit, all you need to do is click the record button on Snagit and then actually start doing the process. Actually generate an invoice for a client and talk out loud into your microphone while you’re doing it. All that knowledge will be recorded into a video. It is very easy to do. It’s remarkably easy to do. At the end of all that, you’ll have a file saved on your computer which is the recording of that particular process or workflow you’ve just stepped through. But what do you do with it now? How do you make sure it’s available to all of those staff members, the rest of your organisation? This is where the second piece of our puzzle comes in.

This is a little tool called Microsoft Stream. Essentially Microsoft Stream is part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite of products and services. If you use Office 365, which most people seem to be doing these days, you probably already have Microsoft Stream. Go and have a look for it. Essentially Stream, it’s like a YouTube, if you will, in that you can upload videos to it and then people can browse them, search them, play them, so on and so forth. It’s private and secure for just your organisation. If you’re recording some confidential information in your videos, you don’t need to worry about that information getting outside the organisation. Upload the video to Microsoft Stream. It really is super simple. You just need to go to Microsoft Stream and you can access it through your Office 365 portal or from any other Office 365 apps using the app chooser button in the top left. When you go there, you’ll see a very clear sign where you click to upload a new video and you just really follow the steps. Super easy. You can drag your video file on top of the Stream web page or you can click the button to browse for a video to upload.

When it’s uploading, you can give it a nice title, which is very descriptive of what it’s all about. You can add various comments to it. You can even get fancy and start filing your videos into different channels or categories to make them easier for people to find and access. We use this a lot here at Grassroots IT for a lot of internal training materials so when we have a particular process to work through that can be a little complex in some cases, we’ll record one of these videos and save it up there so that anybody else who needs to follow through afterwards and do that same process can very easily see how we’ve done things, listen to our commentary as to how we’re doing things, but also oftentimes listen to our commentary on why we do things a certain way.

There you go. That’s this episode’s tip on powering up your staff training and knowledge transfer using Snagit, QuickTime player, and Microsoft Stream. Thanks for listening to this Episode of The Power Up Project brought to you by Grassroots IT and Digit IT. Please leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts and until next time, keep powering up.