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Why It May Not Be Worth It To Replace Your Server

Your Next Server Should Be a Cloud ServerWhen a business undergoes a hardware refresh, it often comes saddled with unexpected costs and downtime. This is sometimes caused by hardware failure, or from unplanned-for data migration. With the advent of virtualized servers, businesses now have a better way to recover from the woes of server refreshes. Rather than purchase new hardware, it’s more economically viable to go with a virtual server that’s hosted in the cloud.

Server virtualization is a great way to save costs and reduce operational expenses in the long run. Virtual servers can separate the computing resources of a server and allocate them within a cloud-like infrastructure. Server virtualization is great for businesses that have limited budgets and resources, since this is a responsibility that’s simple to outsource to a reliable third party service provider.

Here are three major reasons why you should go with virtual servers for your next IT refresh.

Virtual Environments
One of the biggest reasons to use virtual servers is that you can create multiple computing instances on the same virtual machine. For example, if you’re using a legacy application that’s only functional with a specific operating system, you can run a virtual machine dedicated to that application. This keeps you from investing unnecessary capital into an entirely separate server unit for the exclusive use of one application. Keep in mind that this also helps you limit the cost of operation and maintenance that would be needed for a dedicated server.

Save on Operating Costs
Another major benefit that virtual servers offer is the ability to host less hardware in-house. Servers use a lot of electricity and generate a lot of heat, making air conditioning a top priority for server longevity. High energy costs can put a damper on your budget, and server virtualization offers a remedy. You can consolidate your infrastructure onto one device with multiple virtual machines, rather than create a complex infrastructure of network components. This cuts down on your operational expenses.

Effectively Manage Resources
Virtual machines let service providers or IT administrators manage their workloads more-effectively. You can monitor and adjust workloads in a cloud-based interface in real time, allowing operations to progress unhindered. While it’s possible to have your own internal IT department handle this, it’s better to outsource these responsibilities to save internal time and resources for more important matters.

The next time you need a hardware refresh, be sure to keep your server infrastructure at the top of your mind. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.  We have a complete set of Data Center offerings to help you save money, add flexibility and work with a great team of engineers!


3 Easy Exercises Designed for Office Workers

Exercise to Feel Better at Work
You wouldn’t think that sitting at a desk all day could have many detrimental effects to the body, but the opposite is actually true: remaining stationary throughout the day, especially in a slouching position, can cause considerable stress and discomfort. This discomfort, in addition to decreasing morale, can be a distraction that cuts into the productivity of workers throughout the day.

If you’re experiencing the ill health effects of poor desk posture, try these exercises at home–you’ll see why in a moment–to relieve many of the negative symptoms by stretching out your cramped and compressed muscles.

Get rocking…
On all fours, carefully rock back and forth. When rocking back, your hips should move down towards your feet, extending your back for a stretch across the lower portion of your spine, relaxing the stretch when returning to the forward position. For an added bonus in your upper back and neck, nod your head as you rock, bringing your chin to and from your chest.

… and rolling.
Starting off by laying on your stomach with your arms above your head, alternatively lift your arms and use their weight to roll over a few times on each side. Be sure to use the weight of your arm to roll, rather than bracing against the ground and pushing yourself over.

Also, get back to the basics.
With remarkably few exceptions, human beings start moving on all fours. Use that as an inspiration during your next exercise and crawl forwards and backwards, focusing on moving your hips as much as possible. While moving backwards, get a good stretch in your neck by turning your head from side to side.

Hopefully, it is now clear why these exercises are better done at home. Unless your office has a dedicated exercise area, there simply is not space for employees to do such things, never mind how distracting such activities would be for the other employees to work around. Therefore, since these activities are intended to assist office workers in remaining comfortable and focused, this is a bit of work that people should really take home with them.

An uncomfortable employee is an unproductive employee–fortunately, the opposite is also true. Encouraging your employees to take care of their bodies will not only help them feel their best, but also help them remain more productive for your business.

For more office productivity tips, keep checking back to the Excalibur Technology blog.


4 Instances You’ll Be Glad You Had Disaster Recovery

Data Recovery Saves Your BusinessDisasters are commonplace in the business environment, especially when you work in a technology-heavy office. It’s not a question of if you’ll ever experience a hardware failure; it’s a question of when you will. Regardless of how your business functions or what sector you fall into, there will always be disasters that you should be prepared for.

In order to best protect your business from crippling downtime and data loss, we’ll go over four situations where you’ll wish you had disaster recovery for your data.

Natural Disasters
Your local weather channel might give you an idea of what the weather will be like throughout the day, but that can change in the blink of an eye. If your location is prone to floods and violent rainstorms, you could lose data due to water damage. Earthquakes can strike when you least expect it, destroying offices and homes and ending lives. Even something as simple as a power outage could bring about the destruction of your data. The point we’re trying to get across is that natural disasters can strike anywhere at any time, and your IT infrastructure needs to be ready to handle them.

Hardware Failures
Another recurring issue for organizations that rely heavily on technology is hardware failure. If you’re not monitoring and maintaining your hardware, it can be easy to let resource-intensive equipment get overworked, which inevitably leads to malfunction. Technology can’t last forever, so an untimely hardware failure could cripple your infrastructure.

User Error
In the same way as hardware failure, user error could cause your organization to lose data or bring down systems. The reason: people aren’t perfect, and you can’t expect them to be. People could accidentally lose track of files or hand over credentials for accounts which hold sensitive data, giving a hacker a clear path toward stealing your information. User error is a primary cause for data destruction, so it’s important that you implement data backup to account for this risk.

Hacking Attacks
Even if you don’t suspect that you’ll become a victim of a hacking attack, you’re a target. Any organization that collects sensitive data–be it financial information or personally identifiable information–needs to consider itself a target for hackers. All it takes is an installation of malware (like ransomware) to put your data at risk. Hackers usually either want to delete data or steal it for themselves, so it’s up to you to keep your systems backed up in the event that something happens.

Basically, the one thing that you have to remember is this: you need a way to recover your data, or you’ll suffer in the event of a disaster. We recommend that SMBs reach out to us at (877) NET – KING and ask about our onsite and offsite data backup options. You’ll have all of your bases covered… just in case.


Cubs Win!!!

Cubs Win World Series 2016

Congratulations to the World Champion Chicago Cubs!  Way to go Cubs!


3 Significant Ways The Cloud Can Grow Your Business

Make Business Work in the CloudHas your business moved to the cloud yet? If not, you’ve got some work to do–it’s only a matter of time before the need for the cloud completely overshadows your organization. Thankfully, it’s only challenging to move to the cloud if you don’t have a group of professional IT technicians helping you.

Here are three ways that the cloud allows your business to do more with less.

Anywhere Access to Applications and Data
If your business is new to the process of cloud computing, one of the best ways you can realize its value is by virtualizing applications and providing access to them over an online environment. You may already be using cloud-based applications in the form of Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps. These types of data storage and cloud solutions can help your employees stay productive from anywhere they have an Internet connection, which allows them to get more work done and improve efficiency.

You can also host other applications and solutions in the cloud, like a Voice over Internet Protocol system. It’s basically an online phone system, and some of the more dynamic VoIP systems have phone apps that allow your employees to use their company phone number on their smartphone.

Improved Budget
The cloud takes advantage of virtualized machines like servers and desktop infrastructures, which allow you to cut down on the amount of hardware stored on-site. The idea is to reduce workloads in-house and place these mission-critical services in the cloud, located in a virtual environment that can be scaled and managed online. This type of virtualization is important for limiting the amount of on-site technology that needs maintenance, which affords your business more opportunities for cost savings. Additionally, the fewer resource-intensive solutions you have in your office, the more you’ll save on energy bills like electricity and air conditioning.

Simplified Network with Room for Flexibility
A simplified network means that you’re hosting the bare minimum amount of hardware on-site, and that you’ve managed to virtualize the majority of solutions that your business relies on. For example, many businesses don’t take advantage of full-fledged workstations, and instead choose to use thin clients. Thin clients work by calling a desktop infrastructure from the virtualized server, as well as all of the necessary resources to function properly. Thin clients are less expensive and consume less energy, so they’re a viable alternative to the traditional workstation–when backed up by virtualization, of course. Furthermore, cloud-hosted solutions have the flexibility to change and adapt to your business’s specific needs. This helps by allowing you to allocate resources as they’re needed.

To implement a cloud solution that’s right for your business, reach out to Excalibur Technology at (877) NET – KING.


Access Old Clipboard Content With ClipDiary

Save to the clipboardThe Copy and Paste feature has long been a staple of computing, but it’s easy to lose something that may have once been stored on the clipboard. Most people who have used a PC understand this pain and will be happy to hear that recovering the lost “copy” might be easier than they thought. A third-party tool called ClipDiary allows users to retrieve information lost in this way, but without it, it’s notoriously difficult.

The Copy/Paste Conundrum
Let’s say that you copy some important text to your clipboard with the intention of using it somewhere–perhaps a username or password. You close the app containing this information and open the app that you need to enter it into, but then you get distracted by the Internet. Maybe it’s a cat video or a page of memes. Regardless of what it is, all you know is that you want to share it with the world via social media. You copy the URL of the page, and that’s when it hits you: you have copied over the information on the clipboard that you needed to use elsewhere.

Now you have to go back into the app you’ve already closed and copy the original information, or worse–completely rewrite the whole thing. Depending on your situation, you might realize that this is a bigger pain that it needs to be. Think about it like not saving the progress on a favorite video game, or forgetting to put a bookmark in a novel.

The unfortunate reality is that there isn’t a “secret” file within Windows that holds your copied content, so there’s no way by default for you to access any deleted copied content. Instead, you can install an app called a clipboard manager, like ClipDiary, which allows you to retrieve your copied content.

Introducing ClipDiary
If you’ve experienced the aforementioned Copy/Paste dilemma, or it’s a mistake that you can see yourself making in the future, try installing ClipDiary: http://clipdiary.com/

ClipDiary lets you dodge this bullet. Just enter the keystroke Ctrl+D to open ClipDiary. The app will display your clipboard history and allow you to copy items back to your clipboard.

The problem we explained in detail is just one of the ways which Copy/Paste woes can translate into missed productivity, and how ClipDiary can help. For some other similar tales, check out this blog from ClipDiary’s website:

http://clipdiary.com/clipboard-articles/using-clipboard-history-and-clipboard-manager.php

ClipDiary also comes with some pretty useful features:

  • Insert saved data directly into any application
  • Fast copy data back to the clipboard
  • Paste text without formatting (as plain text)
  • Find data you once copied to the clipboard
  • View the list of clips in the clipboard history viewer window
  • Recover data accidentally replaced in the clipboard
  • Improve your productivity and save lots of time with the clipboard manager

If you choose to check out ClipDiary, let us know what you think. It might turn out to be the most useful tool you’ve never heard of.


What Volkswagen Is Doing To Prevent Hackers From Controlling Your Car

Volkswagon Protecting Cars From HackersToday’s cars are equipped with more complicated computer systems that allow users access to cutting-edge technology and services. Due to the increasing number of cyber attacks on computerized cars, Volkswagen has chosen to team up with three Israeli cybersecurity experts to equip advanced vehicles with the proper security solutions.

Ownership and investments made by both parties haven’t been made public yet, the new partnership has adopted the name Cymotive, and its goal is clear. Its chairman, Yuval Duskin, formerly sat at the helm of the Israeli Security Services, and said: “Together with Volkswagen we are building a top-notch team of cyber security experts. We are aware of the significant technological challenges that will face us in the next years in dealing with the cyber security threats facing the connected car and the development of the autonomous car.”

It’s dangerous to assume that a hacker can’t get to you in your own car. Bluetooth connectivity and computerized dashboards have given criminals brand new ways to infiltrate connected cars. Researchers have recently discovered a way for an intruder to hack into Volkswagen vehicles using nothing but an inexpensive radio kit. This flaw affects vehicles sold since 2000, so there’s huge potential for this to cause trouble for millions of owners.

Volkswagen is far from being the only car manufacturer that produces systems that are at risk. Check out this YouTube video where two seasoned hackers use a laptop to control a Jeep Cherokee. They connected the laptop to the controller area network (or CAN bus) and were able to take complete control of the vehicle’s brakes. While this is a local hack, it could very well become a threat that could be controlled remotely.

Though the video seems proof enough that this trend is a problem, upon submitting their findings to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles–the manufacturer of the Jeep brand–their findings were swiftly dismissed as invalid and inappropriate, claiming that sharing “how-to information” could put the public at risk. They further claimed that the attack required considerable technical knowledge to use, and that the flaws had already been addressed.

Granted, hackers are always trying to find new vulnerabilities and exploits to test their mettle against. Whether it’s a vehicle computer or a corporate workstation, you can bet that in the near future hackers will find ways to infiltrate and exploit them. This race won’t end anytime soon, so it looks like hackers and cyber security professionals will be trapped in an endless cycle of hack or be hacked.

Will your next automotive purchase include a computerized system, or would you rather keep it simple? Let us know in the comments.


Do Memes Have A Place In The Professional Business Environment?

Memes In The WorkplaceWhether we like it or not, memes have had a profound effect on how the world’s population views current events and popular culture. In part, this is thanks to the prevalence of the Internet, which has fostered these absurd images and provided them an outlet to flourish. Due to how viral they are, it would be foolish to dismiss them as inconsequential; in fact, when leveraged properly, memes can make a statement about your business and its specific brand.

The term “meme” is actually much different from what we’ve come to know over the past few years. Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, coined the term in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. Its official definition is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” It was originally meant to discuss the way that ideas and values are passed on and adopted by people within a society. The evolutionary idea of a meme is based on sporadic and random change, but the Internet meme spreads in a much different way. Basically, what happens is that an Internet meme “hijacks” the original intended purpose of an image or video, and changes it to mean something else.

In other words, the Internet meme takes something popular that was originally used somewhere else, and transforms it. Many memes use images from popular culture. Take, for example, the “Futurama Fry” meme. It uses a funny picture of the show’s protagonist in deep thought, and uses it to explain a situation filled with confusion or indecision.

ib meme 1

Another classic example is the “Matrix Morpheus” meme, which places text over an image of Morpheus from The Matrix to describe a revelation. According to KnowYourMeme, this meme often “belittles futile or petty behavior.”

ib meme 2

Some memes are often funny simply because they aren’t funny. For example, the “Anti-Joke Chicken” explicitly aims to find humor out of something that’s honestly not all that funny. The beginning text often tells the beginning of a joke, but instead of a hilarious punchline, it regresses into an obvious statement–usually something that makes logical sense, or something unexpected.

ib meme 3

It’s funny because it’s not funny. Or, maybe it’s not funny at all. We’ll let you decide.

Making memes that you can use for your business is easy and free. In fact, it can even be fun, if you’re doing it right. There are plenty of meme generators online that you can use to make silly pictures. However, you should take these thoughts into consideration when making memes to either share on social media, or to send to your coworkers.

Stay Relevant to Your Goods or Services
If you want to use memes for your business, you need to first figure out what theme you want it to follow. It should be aligned with the services that you offer.

Use the Right Image
Once you’ve figured out the theme for your meme, you can proceed to find the right image for it. We recommend doing some research and looking at examples of previously existing memes, but be warned; the Internet has many memes, many of which may be offensive.

Keep the Audience in Mind
Your memes should appeal to your target audience, especially if that audience consists of young people that frequent the Internet.

Be Funny
At their very core, memes are meant to be funny and humorous. If they aren’t, you’re not doing it right.

Share it on Social Media
The point of a meme is to bring light-hearted attention to your brand and to be shared. You can do both by exposing it to many followers on social media.

For an example of how you might apply a meme to the real world, we’ve made this one using the “Disaster Girl” meme character:

ib meme 4

Two notes: 1) Get your point across by finding a meme character that’s relevant to your goods and services, and 2) Use a combination of humor and a call to action to inspire action from the viewer. If you found this on your social media news feed, would you laugh at it? We hope so.

So, have we managed to pique your interest in Internet memes? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog. Also, leave your favorite memes; we like a good laugh.


Take Commuting Out Of The Picture And Watch Productivity Soar!

Commuter Stuck In TrafficCommuting to and from the office is a regular occurrence all over the world. In the United States alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute for the everyday worker is around 25 minutes. Even if this commute is necessary, it could be holding your business back from achieving its full potential.

Think about it this way; if your employees are on the road for an hour every day, that’s an hour that’s not being used for work, and an hour that the employee doesn’t have to themselves. It effectively adds an hour to the workday, but it doesn’t benefit either your business or the employee. This knowledge can be disheartening, but there are plenty of other reasons why a commute can put a damper on your bottom line.

Commuting Eats Away At Your Energy
How much time do you spend sitting in traffic every day on the way to work? This can be exceptionally frustrating and rage-inducing if you live in a metropolitan area. Any positive energy that you had when you left for work in the morning is completely gone by the time you get to the office, and when you start the day on a bad note, it can only get worse. Plus, longer commutes can cause health problems due to increased stress.

Commuting Causes Exhaustion and Sleep Deprivation
Even if the average commute for the United States worker is about 25 minutes, what about those who are on the higher end of the spectrum? If you have workers commuting 45 minutes or more, they could be losing out on precious sleep. When your team isn’t well-rested, mistakes can be made, and on a long commute to the office, they could even be putting their lives at risk.

Some organizations believe that remote workers are a liability and that they cost more than they’re worth, but the reality of the situation is that remote workers aren’t costing you money, and they aren’t decreasing your bottom line. If anything, they’re helping your business; remote workers don’t use your technology or your electricity, which means that you don’t have to provide them with the hardware required for the job, and your energy costs decrease. In an interview with Inc, Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of the job platform Flexjobs, states that 47 percent of her workforce works remotely, and this has saved her organization around $78 million. Even if you’re a small business owner, you can benefit from immense cost savings associated with remote workers.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by allowing your team to work remotely. As long as you have the technology solutions to make it a productive environment, your workers and your business can flourish remotely. Not only will your employees be happier and healthier, but this improvement can lead to greater productivity and employee satisfaction that’s crucial to retain talent.

To get started with remote technology solutions, give Excalibur Technology a call at (877) NET – KING.


Alert: New ATM Scam Can Steal 32,000 Card Numbers Per Machine

ATM Scam Can Steal Your Card NumberBanks and companies that manage automated teller machines, better known as ATMs, have been warned against another method thieves have been utilizing to commit identity theft–by no less than the Secret Service.

Machines in Connecticut and Pennsylvania have been found to have periscope skimmer devices attached inside, especially in those machines with openable lids that provide relatively easy access to the inner workings. The device is placed in such a way as to allow the probe of the device to read the magnetic strip on the card as the machine’s user makes the mistake of utilizing that particular ATM.

Estimates place the device’s battery life at 14 days per charge, with enough storage to collect 32,000 card numbers. Fortunately, the device doesn’t seem to collect PIN numbers, but that is also unfortunate, as it indicates that these devices were possibly part of a practice run in preparation for a real robbery.

Despite the apparent lack of a PIN collection device on this version of the periscope skimmers, it is a good habit to cover the entry pad with your free hand as you input your number on most ATM devices, just in case the thieves have placed a hidden camera on the device, or accessed the native camera, which can capture your credentials as you type.

The new use of chip-based cards won’t help you much, either, as many ATMs still require the magnetic strip in order to accept the card as legitimate.

Unfortunately, as these skimmers are placed internally, there isn’t much of a method of identifying these devices by sight. The best advice to protect yourself from these scams, therefore, is to think a bit like a criminal trying to place a device. Is the ATM in a busy place with lots of potential eyes on it, or is it set aside, secluded and solitary? Is the top accessible, allowing for a cybercriminal to access the machine’s inner workings through the lid? Be on the lookout for all of these suspicious traits.

As a precaution, do your best to utilize ATMs in high-traffic areas, with plenty of eyes around as to serve as witnesses for as many hours of the day as possible. Also, avoid ATMs where the body of the machine may be accessed easily, and use those that are embedded in a wall as often as possible. Those well-lit ATMs that are embedded in the walls of banking institutions are the ideal ones to use, as the high surveillance banks utilize will protect the machine (already well-defended on three sides by the building’s construction) from tampering, as well as you from a cash-machine mugging attempt. Plus, most ATMs also have a built-in camera.

Of course, if dealing with finances pertaining to your business, it may be most advisable to utilize the tellers that aren’t automated, or to handle your banking online behind the online protections that Excalibur Technology can put in place for your business.

Call (877) NET – KING to discuss the security improvements that we can provide.



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