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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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New Dolphin Hunt

Christmas. Birthdays. Blue moons. These things don’t come around all the time. Career opportunities at the best dang company to work for on Quadra street (hint: Smart Dolphins), they also don’t come around all the time.

New Dolphin Hunt 1

We have just started our hunt for our next Dolphin (hint: employee) and we need your help to spread the word.

We’re looking for a well-disguised geek. In other words, we need someone who has the super powers of a geek, but isn’t outwardly an obvious geek in the stereotypical sense. We want someone who LOVES TECHNOLOGY AND PEOPLE and loves helping them to behave well together. Read all of the details on this career opportunity on our careers page.

Our recruitment process is a little different than many companies. We like to start by having an interested Dolphin-to-be apply online and then by actually coming down to our office to have an informal meet and greet.

Hopefully that is a good balance of enough information to allow you to help and not too much information that you stopped reading three paragraphs ago ;). Thanks in advance for your help with our Dolphin-hunt! And I’m sure the person we choose will end up thanking you if they feel like Ty Hedden:

Ultimately, working for Smart Dolphins means being able to do all the geeky things I would be doing at home anyway. It means getting paid to be myself and do what I love every day.

P.S. With this expansion in our Dolphin resources, we’re looking again to expand our client base. Can you think of a company that could use us? How about a professional (say a lawyer or accountant) that has had technology problems recently? Connect us and do us all a favour!

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Convert Text-to-Speech with Speakit! for Chrome 1
Convert Text-to-Speech with Speakit! for Chrome

Busy but want to get an article read? Need to do some multi-tasking while staying productive? Have an article read aloud to you with SpeakIt! for Chrome.

Simply install, highlight the text that you want read on any web page, right click and choose SpeakIt! You can even pause playback.

To change SpeakIt! settings, right click on the SpeakIt! icon and select options. Set your default text to speech engine, volume, speed of playback, etc.

Now, get back to work!

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CamelCamelCamel - Price Tracking Tool
CamelCamelCamel – Price Tracking Tool

Have you ever been browsing for online purchases and wondered if you’re getting the best price possible?  Double-check that price using CamelCamelCamel.com first. Just follow these simple steps:

CamelCamelCamel

  • Install the browser add-on for CamelCamelCamel from this page: http://camelcamelcamel.com/camelizer
  • Browse to the page for your desired product (works best with Amazon.com).
  • Click on the Camelizer icon () to see a graph of the price history. You can even set an email price alert based on the highest price you’d be willing to pay.  If the icon is not in colour then there is no information for that specific product or website you are using.

Lifehacker fans #1 price tracking tool. Go save some $$$!

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Smart Security

Kaspersky Labs recently reported a 17.7% global increase in ransomware between April 2015 and March 2016. This steady spread and rapid evolution of ransomware means businesses today require a multi-layered approach to IT security.

What security essentials does your organization have in place?

Smart Security

Weak IT security increases your organizations’ network to risks which can result in:

  • Downtime (lost business, frustration and stress);
  • Costly, disaster recovery plans;
  • Lost customers or valuable employees due to IT hassles;
  • Data loss;
  • Breach of privacy and;
  • Litigation.

Managed service providers can help organizations prevent ransomware. But it’s equally important that businesses and their employees remain educated on what to look out for in a ransomware attack.

Want to learn more about the Smart Dolphins approach to network security? Download a white paper or join us for a lunch and learn.

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Emerging Technologies

Nearly all organizations benefit greatly from today’s technology. Getting to tomorrow’s technology is a huge challenge and is becoming extremely complex. The speed of change continues to accelerate while our options widen.

Navigating the Cloud

IDC expects a 11 per cent shift of budget dollars in Canada toward cloud technologies by the end of 2016. Further, the launch of Canadian Microsoft data-centres earlier this year will inevitably drive more Canadian businesses to the Microsoft cloud.

While the trend toward adopting emerging technologies is clear, many Vancouver Island business executives that we meet with struggle to understand how they can best align their business goals with specific technologies that will boost their productivity. Our experience resonates with another study by IDC that reports that only 17 per cent of Canadian firms consider the digital transformation as a key part of their business strategy.

Have cloud services been adopted in operations or your IT plan? Are you aware that cloud computing may lower the cost of your IT? What is the opportunity cost of ineffectively integrating future technologies?

Reconsider your approach to IT! Contact Smart Dolphins to arrange a complimentary IT assessment.

Did you miss our Cloud Computing Lunch & Learn? Read the slides here.

 

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android keyboard shortcuts
User-created Dictionary Shortcuts on your Mobile Device

How many times a day do you type your email address or physical address with your mobile device keyboard? Too many to recall? Well, here’s a tech tip for you. Save yourself a bit of time by adding frequently used strings (i.e. email addresses, postal codes, URLs etc.) to your personal dictionary and then use auto correct functionality to create shortcuts.

For example, I added [email protected] to the dictionary, and then set the shortcut to ‘js’. If I ever want to type my email address, I just type ‘js’ and it auto corrects.

Populate your own personal dictionary with a few simple steps:

Android

  • Language and input section of settings
  • Locate and tap the personal dictionary entry and select your language option
  • Add words to your dictionary and shortcuts by tapping the plus sign [+]

iPhone

  • Tap settings, general, keyboard, text replacement
  • Add words to your dictionary and shortcuts by tapping the plus sign [+]
  • Tap save!

All set? Give it a try!

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Smart Backup & Disaster Recovery

Weather disasters, fires and power outages can all result in data loss. Data backup is one of the most common examples of risk oversight in businesses today. These days, nearly all organizations have some kind of solution. This gives confidence that  the  organization  is  bulletproof  against  disasters. This  is often  not  the case.

We regularly meet with local executives whose businesses have inadequate backup systems that are unreliable or completely neglected. There  might  be  a  copy of  the  data  some where, but it is often not tested on a regular basis. The only time those systems are tested are when data has been lost and needs to be recovered. At that point, it’s usually too late.

A solid backup should be monitored, tested, reported and reviewed regularly.

When was the last time your organization reviewed its backup?

We discovered this great infographic courtesy of EMC that outlines 10 Things you need to know about Business Data Backup.

Contact us to schedule a FREE back-up analysis.

10 Things You Need To Know About Business Data Backup [Infographic]

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