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Boost your Productivity with Focus@Will
Boost your Productivity with [email protected]

Many people listen to music while working. Personally, this is one area where I have had trouble mixing work and pleasure. Music is great, but I found it problematic to listen to my personal music library while working – it was distracting. I’d either get distracted by a good song or I’d be busy skipping stuff I was tired of. I did occasionally get in a zone as the right music blocked out the many other distracting noises around me.

Recently, I learned of [email protected]. This is a music service that shares music specifically engineered to address the issues I was having. There aren’t any words and it isn’t stuff that you would normally hear in your personal collection. You can choose from a wide variety of styles and even adjust the “Music Energy Level”. One of my favourite parts to the service is the simple timer that you can set. I like to give myself 25 minutes of focused time and then I take a 5 minute break (called the “Pomodoro Technique”, a technique we previously shared by the way). You can even rate your productivity after a session and you can see how your perceived focus changes over time. If that wasn’t enough, the site offers up a mix of (non-distracting) images. 

They offer a free trial and then a pretty inexpensive monthly and annual option. They even have a team account. If you do want to try it, use this link and I get a free year! Thanks!

 

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ManicTime
Track your Time with ManicTime

ManicTime is time tracking software that runs in the background on your computer. If you’re like me, you spend most of your day at your computer. ManicTime gives me lots of useful information about what I have spent my time on. Having this data, helps me stay productive.

ManicTime tracks things like:

  • When your computer was in use and when it was idle
  • What applications you were using at any given time
  • What documents you were working on at any given time
  • Your Day Start and Day End times

It’s great for individuals, even better for teams. For more information about visit http://www.manictime.com/

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Pomodoro Productivity
Pomodoro Productivity

Simple Pomodoro is a simple time management Chrome extension that allows you to quickly set a timer for tasks. Just install the extension here and set the timer (in five minute increments) while working on a task and it will pop up when your time is up.

The Pomodoro Technique® was created by Francesco Cirillo following his search to improve his own study habits. The concept is simple: use a timer to break your work into focused time blocks separated by a 5-minute break. Each 25-minute work block is called a “pomodoro.” After 4 pomodoros, take a longer break. Watch this video to learn more.

Will getting that report finished really only take ten minutes?  Need a little push to get through your email backlog in twenty minutes? Try Simple Pomodoro.

Pomodoro Productivity 1

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The Smart Dolphins Service Desk

The service desk is the most familiar area of the IT support business. A client contacts a service desk representative when they perceive a need, usually when something is broken or when there is a change in the business (i.e. a new computer is added to the network for a new hire). The mission of the Smart Dolphins service desk is to provide quality and comprehensive reactive support for our client’s IT challenges. It is just one of our five service delivery areas.

The Service Desk team is organized so that it can handle a large volume of “tickets” in an efficient and friendly manner. Customers can call and have their call answered by a real person or they can choose to email or electronically submit their problem through “Breakwater.” Breakwater allows our clients to create new service requests, attach screenshots, upload files, view their service history and more. It’s a service software designed to improve the overall customer experience.

Once a ticket has been submitted, it is then assigned to the appropriate technician and the client is notified. The technician follows up, troubleshoots and resolves the issue.

The success of our reactive team is determined by key metrics, such as tickets closed and our customer satisfaction score (CSAT). We receive very high feedback scores, which is a challenge given the nature of the work.

This team is also responsible for helping the proactive roles identify systemic problems and patterns to ongoing issues so that the root problems can be corrected by our proactive functions.

Service Desk

Daniel, Chad and Ross

Our service desk is made up of three tiers:

Triage/Level 1 Technical Support – Ross Speirs

Level 2 Technical Support – Danny Tew, Daniel Knippshild, Werner Baron

Level 3 Technical Support – Chad Ryan

There is no limit or additional costs associated to how much our Support Team is called on. You can even call the Dolphins up for “How To” questions!

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Get a Glimpse with Gympse
Get a Glimpse with Glympse

Meeting up with somebody and want to keep them abreast of your location and ETA?

Glympse allows you to share your current location in real-time with anyone you choose via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter.

Recipients don’t need to download the app to view and your location is shared for only as long as you specify.

No more confusion or sending multiple texts on your ETA. Let Glympse do the work.

Available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

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Dolphin Defenders to-the-rescue!

Most business leaders we develop partnerships with are new to the concept of proactive IT. They’ve usually had some experience with the hourly IT support company (i.e. reactive IT). A big part of our job is to educate leaders on the results of proactive IT and then, to deliver an IT support model that helps their company grow and succeed.

Dolphin DefendersAt Smart Dolphins we have a team dedicated to proactive IT…our Dolphin Defenders. They drive the proactive IT work that is often neglected by other IT support companies. They are the “boots on the ground” that bring to life our unique approach to IT. Their porpoise is to:

  • Develop best IT practices
  • Defend networks against unnecessary risk
  • Develop and implement new technology

Ian Bird

Ian Bird and Andrew Rivett make up our Dolphin Defender Team.

Andrew Rivett: Andrew has been with Smart Dolphins for 4 years. Andrew spent his early Dolphin years on the support desk and just recently transitioned into his new role. Previously focused on reactive work, Andrew now gets to focus all of his time on implementing IT solutions that drive our customer’s growth.

Ian Bird: Ian joined the POD just under a year ago with an impressive background in computer science and IT support.  Like Andrew, he’s passionate about proactive IT and focuses much of his time addressing technical inefficiencies that prevent IT problems and headaches!

If you think your Vancouver Island organization could benefit from a Dolphin Defender, please contact us to arrange a network assessment.

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Meet our vCIOs

While enterprises have had Chief Information Officers (CIO) for decades, the Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is fairly new for small to medium-sized organizations. For organizations with less than 15 employees, the cost of employing a dedicated CIO is too much to justify. That’s where we come in. Smart Dolphins becomes your IT department, and our vCIO is your IT consultant.

“Think of a VCIO not so much as a technician but as a trusted IT consultant, who has years of experience, aligning business objectives with IT Systems.”

The role of the vCIO became permanent at Smart Dolphins following our switch away from reactive IT support to managed IT services in 2010. The VCIO works closely with the leaders in a company, helping them to plan, budget and strategize their IT with the overall goal of aligning IT with business goals.

Here’s a list of our vCIOs core duties:

  • Create and present budgets (short and long term expenses)
  • Quote hardware and software
  • Identify and propose projects
  • Create a strategic technology plan and design
  • Hold annual technology reviews
  • Consult and onboard new customers

Victoria vCIOs

Smart Dolphins employs two full-time, vCIOs, Joe Payne and Ty Hedden.

Joe Payne: Joe has been with Smart Dolphins for over 10 years. Joe maintains an intimate understanding of our customers and their needs, and uses that understanding to guide and plan their technology decisions. From what types of workstations and software licensing best serves a customer’s needs, to planning entire server and network replacements, with Joe’s expertise you’ll have someone managing your technology for today and into the future.

Ty Hedden: After 7 years as a Smart Dolphins Network Admin, Ty became a VCIO in 2015. Ty’s focus is on proactive maintenance and risk management. Ty is also a cybersecurity advocate and he frequently gives talks on safe computing to members of Vancouver Island business community.

If you think your Vancouver Island organization could benefit from the results of having a VCIO, please contact us to arrange a network assessment.

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Typeracer
Improve your typing speed with Typeracer

If you’re anything like me, you tap a lot of keys in a day. I estimate I type for 403,653,395 hours in a year. If I were able to improve my typing speed by just 5%, I’d save like a few hundred hours a year. Math.

But have you ever tried some of those typing tutor things? BORING!

It’s time to race! If you’re anything like me, competition brings the best (worst) out of you. Hop on www.typeracer.com. Typeracer is a great, simple website where you can race other users at typing a short blob of text. The interface looks like:

Just beware that it is kind of addicting!

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The Rise of Ransomware

Ransomware is generally defined as malicious software that infects your computer and denies you access to your computer or files until you pay a ransom. Millions of ransomware infections are reported every year. Organizations today, require a multifaceted IT security program that is regularly evaluated and re-adjusted.

The Rise of Ransomware

The Challenge

Smart Dolphins manages the IT networks of over 50 businesses, the majority of which are small businesses with limited resources for network security. Our challenge was to deploy an automatic multi-layered security solution across a large group of companies.

The first layer of our security approach includes these six essentials:

• Strong gateway security (firewall and routers designed to protect against ransomware)
• End-point anti-virus and anti-ransomware group policy settings
• Anti-malware DNS services
• Regular software patches and OS updates
• Rock solid backup and disaster recovery system
• Ongoing user security training

In early 2016, we added another layer of defense against ransomware. We now leverage the power of Microsoft’s File Server Resources Manager (FRSM) to detect ransomware at work and stop its spread through network server shares. FSRM accomplishes this by stopping all server shares when it notices suspicious file access, thus stopping the ransomware from further encrypting file resources on the network. It also notifies us that an active infection has been found. By minimizing the damage ransomware can do, and ensuring that we become aware of infection promptly, business impact and recovery time can be greatly reduced.

While adding FSRM as a protective layer is a routine security measure, what is noteworthy is the automated, scalable way in which we have applied it. Without automation, we could not deploy it across our entire customer base and keep it up-to-date as new threats emerge.

Results

Since the implementation of these various layers of network security we have not had one threat across our entire customer base. Our approach to network security is proactive, as is our approach to all aspects of IT. We don’t wait around for problems, but instead we have configured our computer solutions and network operations to greatly reduce problems before they happen.

If you are concerned about your organization’s network security, contact us to set-up a free security and backup audit.

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Secure your Facebook with Two Factor Authentication
Secure your Facebook with Two Factor Authentication

It’s October, Cyber Security Awareness Month so we thought we’d share a security tip. Facebook accounts get hacked everyday. Secure your Facebook with Two Factor Authentication.

Here’s how to enable Facebook’s built-in authenticator:

  1.     Login and click on account settings
  2.     Select security
  3.     Edit login approvals
  4.     Select require a security code to access my account from unknown browsers
  5.     Click the get started button
  6.     Select the phone type, then click continue
  7.     Follow the instructions in the pop up window to turn on security codes, then click continue
  8.     Type the code that is generated into the window to finish the activation process

Now nobody can log in to your Facebook without access to your mobile phone, which would mean they need to physically have your phone, know your phone’s passcode, and your Facebook email/username and password to hack it.

Interested in learning more security tips from the POD? Join us for lunch next Thursday. Visit our events page for more details.

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