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Latest Windows 10 Update Has Kindle Users Feeling Blue… Screen of Death

Windows 10 Blue Screen of DeathHave you have recently plugged in your Kindle and received a blue screen of death? Many Kindle users have found that Windows 10’s anniversary update is creating an issue in the way that Kindle transfers books and charges via a USB connection. Some users are reporting that connecting a Kindle to a Windows 10 device will cause the device to lock up and display Windows’ infamous blue error screen before rebooting.

Users who have experienced this issue have taken to the Microsoft support forums hoping to find a way to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, what happens seems to vary by the user–some claim that the problem is rooted in the anniversary update, while others seem to think that it’s due to the pre-release software testing service Microsoft Insider.

The fallout of the issue also seems to vary. Some reports claim that the device can be restored to normal functionality after the reboot, but the problem comes up again with the next reboot. Some users have found that leaving their devices asleep as they plug in their Kindle can prevent the error from happening. Yet, even this doesn’t prevent the crashing, as many users report that the issue happens regardless of what they do.

All of these issues are in response to what users did to troubleshoot their own individual problems, yet nothing that they did could resolve them, despite elements like the USB cable being used as variables.

Worse yet, this isn’t the first problem that Microsoft has had to deal with since they released Windows 10’s anniversary update. While the update brought an enhanced usability and interesting new features, it also brought a bug that has led to some Windows 10 users being unable to use their webcams.

So far, neither of these issues have been resolved, though Microsoft claims that the webcam fixes will be available in September. In regards to the Kindle issue, there have been no hints as to how long these issues will persist. Kindle users may have to avoid causing the blue screen error in the first place, and tolerate the problems until the official fix is issued.

For the latest tech news and tricks, subscribe to our blog.  For immediate help with any of your technology concerns or needs, call one of our friendly Technology Consultants at 877-NET-KING.

4 Reasons Why You Should Quit Stressing Out About Stress

Stop Stessing Out About StressStress is a natural part of the workplace. It’s almost impossible to make it through the workday without getting stressed out about at least one thing or another, especially when you’re a business owner. In these stress-filled circumstances, it’s important to remember that stress isn’t always a bad thing; it has some redeeming factors that are often lost amongst the cacophony of shuffling papers and constant phone calls.

However, this needs to be mentioned before anything else; stress created for the sole purpose of being stressed cannot possibly become a good motivator. Inc states that “stress that comes from not having enough information or that’s based on an irrational fear is a poor motivator.” Therefore, it makes the most sense to keep stress to a minimum whenever possible, as there’s no good reason to be stressed out all of the time. Remember, stress without control can be dangerous, and you can’t let it take over your life.

That being said, there are some benefits to be gained from the occasional bout of stress. Here are four of them.

Stress Provides a Much-Needed Energy Boost
We often think of stress as a draining factor that can sap energy right out of you, but it’s hard to argue that a sense of urgency comes from being in conflict with something or another. You’ll notice that you’re more aware of your surroundings, and you actually have the energy required to complete your work.

Stress Proves that You Do, In Fact, Care About the Project
If you’re stressed out about a certain project, at first you might hate yourself for it. You might fool yourself into thinking that you don’t care how it turns out, and that you just want to get it done. This is actually the opposite of what’s really happening. If you’re stressing about the project, you care about its outcome. Otherwise, why would you be stressed? Make this connection yourself and you can harness the frustration and channel it into energy.

Stress Teaches You to Enjoy the Times You’re Not Stressed
Imagine working outside in absurdly hot weather, under incredible physical duress and on an empty stomach. You then walk into an air-conditioned home with a delicious meal waiting for you on the dinner table. Working with stress can be absolutely awful, but it will teach you to enjoy the little things in life that much more.

Stress Inspires Quick Action
Stress is something that literally nobody wants to deal with, so naturally, people will move toward a solution in order to absolve themselves of the pain it brings. This doesn’t mean that you should make stress to create that sense of urgency; rather, you should think of the stress as an unfortunate advantage, like falling out of an airplane and into a giant pit of pillows.

Despite its advantages, stress is still something that must be properly managed if you want your team to succeed in their endeavors. One of the main reasons why employees might be stressed in the workplace is thanks to using outdated or dysfunctional hardware and software solutions. Think about it; if you weren’t able to work in multiple browser tabs at once, or open your mission-critical apps, you would probably be in a tight spot, and may actually begin to feel stress.

Excalibur Technology’s managed IT services can make it so that you never have to feel stressed about your technology or IT budget ever again. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

3 Expert-Level Search Tips To Help You Find Exactly What You’re Looking For

Expert Google Search TipsThese days, being able to find the exact information you need online is a valuable skill. However, sometimes a website’s search capabilities aren’t robust enough to be of much use. For this week’s tip, we’ll show you how to combine a website search feature with your browser’s search tool so you can easily find exactly what you’re looking for.

To begin, let’s go over one of the most valuable tools for online searching, quotation marks. If you need to locate a specific phrase, then enter it into a search engine like Google Search and bookend the phrase with quotation marks. Google will then show you results meeting your criteria exactly, word for word, instead of giving you a bunch of random results pertaining to each individual word of the phrase (which would be the case if you didn’t use quotation marks).

While using a major search engine like Google Search to find what you’re looking for is one thing, using the search feature of an individual website is completely another. For example, not every website allows you to use quotation marks to narrow down a search within its pages.

If you run into this problem, try instead using the website’s search feature to look for one of the two keywords, like “email,” and then use your browser’s search function to search for a second keyword, “hosting.”

To access your browser’s search function, simply select Ctrl+F. A drop down menu will then appear where you can enter the second word you’re looking for. Next, hit Enter and the browser will automatically highlight every instance of the second word you’re looking for that’s located on the open webpage.

When these two searches combine, you’ll essentially be able to weed through all the irrelevant search results provided by the website and use your browser to find exactly what it is you’re looking for.

Another Way to Search: One way that you can skip having to use a website’s search tool altogether (and keep in mind that not every website offers a search tool) is to search the content of an individual website using Google Search.

To do this, type into the Google Search form “site:” followed by the website URL, minus the “http://” and the “www.” Following this entry, add what it is you’re searching for. So the form should read something like this: email hosting

Add Quotation Marks: To help narrow down your search even further, Google allows you to search individual websites this way and use quotation marks so you can find an exact phrase. For example, “email hosting” will provide much more specific results than email hosting.

Ultimately, utilizing Google this way may be more effective than combining the website search and your browser search as previously suggested. Although, you’ll still want to keep this double search tip in mind for when you do use a website’s search tool and find that it’s not working for you. Also, keep in mind that not every website makes its content available to Google Search; using a website’s search tool for a site like this will yield results that Google won’t.

If you’ve found this tip helpful, let us know in the comments and check back with Excalibur Technology’s blog every week for more great tips!

According To Hackers, Windows 10 Security Passes The Test

Hackers Hate Windows 10Windows is perhaps the most common workplace computing tool, and hackers have been trying for decades to uncover holes in its security. In some cases, like with unsupported operating systems, they’ve succeeded. However, Microsoft’s latest addition to their OS family, Windows 10, seems to have exceptionally potent built-in security measures, many of which have the hackers at the Black Hat conference scratching their heads and scrambling to find threats to talk about.

During Black Hat, the annual hacker convention in held in Las Vegas, Windows 10 was lauded as perhaps the most secure Windows operating system in decades. It was agreed that Windows 10 is much more difficult to break into than its older brethren, but like any software, nothing is impossible with enough funding and research. The Black Hat presenters discussed potential ways that Windows 10 could be hacked, and how Windows 10 makes it more difficult for attackers to breach its systems.

Windows 10 Uses Built-In Anti-Malware Tools
Windows 10 has what’s called the Antimalware Scan Interface (AMSI), which is designed to identify and capture malicious scripts in its memory. Your applications can access the information stored in the AMSI, and can use it to protect your systems. For example, Windows Defender and AVG use AMSI. The primary reason why the AMSI is a huge problem for hackers is because most of their attacks utilize some sort of script. Of course, the AMSI is a valuable tool, but it still needs secondary security protocol (like antivirus or remote monitoring and maintenance) to keep your network safe. While it’s great for detecting scripts executed in PowerShell (since PowerShell records logs), it still requires someone to regularly monitor the logs in order for it to be most effective.

Active DirectoryActive Directory has long been a critical part of how Windows administration works, and recent innovations have allowed for the management of workloads through the cloud and identity and authentication management on in-house networks. Microsoft Azure puts Active Directory to good use, allowing for quality security for any Azure-based cloud platform. The problem with AD, though, is that any user account can access it unless the administrator has limited these permissions. Your IT administrators need to restrict access to AD and control authentication procedures for it.

Virtualization-based security features a set of protocols that are built into the hypervisor of your Windows 10 OS. Basically, Hyper-V can create a virtual machine that stands separate from the root partition. This machine can then execute security commands as needed. Hyper-V creates a machine that can’t be compromised, even in the face of hacking attacks that target the root partition. It’s a way to minimize the damage done by data breaches, but it only works if the credentials aren’t found in the root partition. IT administrators, therefore, need to ensure that these systems cannot be compromised.

Eventually, there may come a day when Windows 10 experiences a dangerous flaw that’s exploited in the wild. Hackers are always trying to undermine security measures, but Microsoft engages these attacks with patches of their own, so it’s an endless cycle. Hackers will inevitably find ways to crack Windows 10’s innate security, so it’s your responsibility to complement your OS’s security with your own solutions.

To secure your business’s devices, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Hardware Management Is Difficult – Here’s How To Do IT Right

Hardware Management How To Do It RightYour business relies on intensive and expensive technology solutions, which are designed to keep your staff productive and provide them with the tools they need to perform their daily duties. Yet, small organizations often run into trouble when managing their mission-critical hardware systems. How does your business maintain its technology? Chances are that there’s a better way to do it, and it all starts with managed services.

Consider this scenario: Your server is experiencing technical difficulties, but you don’t suspect that it’s a major issue. The problem persists, but eventually, the symptoms escalate, and you’re left with a slow, dogged piece of hardware that’s holding your business back. Just when you get the idea that you need to upgrade to a new server, the old one crashes, and all of your data is lost. Now what?

Depending on how much data was stored on the server, you’ll be in varied degrees of trouble. If your entire infrastructure was stored on it, it’s safe to say that the data is likely gone, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to restore it. This means that your business will lose client data, contact information, employee records, and other important documents and information. In most cases, businesses that cannot recover their data will go out of business within one year of the data loss incident.

Plus, even if you can get back on your feet, you’ll have to collect all of your data, explain the circumstances to your clients, and hope that they still see you as a reliable business worthy of their patronage. After you carelessly lost their data, what do you think the odds of that are? We’re willing to bet that you’ll see at least some budget problems due to replacing hardware solutions and losing customers. Combined with the frustrations of downtime and productivity loss, it’s enough to dig even the most reputable enterprise’s grave.

The solution is to take care of your hardware and resolve issues before they can become major problems, but the small or medium-sized business may not be able to identify these subtle changes in operation. Managing hardware takes time, which is a rarity amongst business owners and organizations that don’t have internal IT departments. Furthermore, it requires an expertise that not many people, besides trained technicians, can muster.

The solution, therefore, should be to find an outsourced provider for your hardware maintenance and management; one that’s competent and conscious of your business’s specific needs and goals. You want them to be able to remotely monitor and maintain your systems, and to limit on-site visits whenever possible. You want to keep issues from becoming major problems, and you want to do it without breaking your budget.

Ordinarily, you’d be asking the impossible; but we’re not just any old service provider.

You don’t want to go with any typical break-fix IT service provider. All they will do is bleed your business dry and welcome any problems that are associated with your organization’s technology. You need assistance from a provider that’s ready and willing to help you save time and money – one that considers your success, its own success. You want an organization like Excalibur Technology by your side.

For more information about how we can help your business protect its data, call us today at (877) NET – KING.

5 Easy Ways To Overcome the Doldrums Of The Workday

Zen at WorkWhile working all day in an office setting may be good for your wallet, it can take quite a toll on the body. However, remaining productive while taking care of one’s well-being sounds tricky, doesn’t it? Fear not, maintaining your health while simultaneously maintaining your quality of work is easier than it sounds, especially with these five handy tips to guide you.

Get Up
While sitting all day has been clearly documented as unhealthy, the office environment doesn’t exactly encourage frequent motion, as moving about tends to cut into productivity and can be distracting for your fellow workers. Therefore, it is best to stand up at least every half hour and to do your best to move about every hour and a half as much as is possible.

It’s Okay to “Stair”
Just like the first tip, electing to climb the stairs overriding the elevator has metabolic benefits to it. Who doesn’t want to burn a few extra calories? To encourage stair use, try propping the door open with a fire release magnet, along with signs describing the health benefits of stair-climbing over elevators.

Go Outside
Have you been having trouble sleeping? It may be because spending long work hours inside has put your body into a state of light deficiency, and has therefore thrown off your circadian rhythm. The best fix? Take a walk outdoors whenever possible to reset yourself and get some better sleep.

Stay Home, Sicky! 🙂
If the goal is to keep a workspace healthy, it doesn’t make much sense to introduce more germs than are already introduced through a normal office setting, does it? A single worker can easily cause an outbreak within the office that could kill productivity. A much better decision would be to stay home. If you are incredibly concerned about lost work time, a work-from-home policy may be wise to implement.

Avoid Junk Food Like It’s Junk Mail
Too many office break rooms heavily feature snack options that are less-than-healthy. Do your best to avoid the caloric, sugary options that are available in favor of the healthier choices offered, or bring your own healthy snacks from home. If possible, try to encourage an environment where healthier options are displayed more prominently than the junky stuff.

Implementing these tips can help your workspace become a healthier place. Let us know what other initiatives your office has implemented to promote a healthier lifestyle in the comments below!

Delta Air Lines “Grounded” For Not Adhering To Best Practices

Delta Airlines Technology IssuesNobody likes being delayed at the airport, forced to sit in uncomfortable chairs as the minutes slowly pass, each signifying that an important event or deadline is that much closer to being missed. Events that cause such delays cause headaches for passengers and airlines alike, just ask Delta, who recently suffered from such an event when a power outage struck Atlanta, GA, and with it, Delta’s computer system.

As a result, over 1,500 flights were cancelled outright, with far more experiencing delays. What’s more, in addition to the costs Delta will incur through providing their stranded travellers with travel waivers, their reputation as an airline has been tarnished and will likely continue to be, as the put-out passengers are not likely to stay quiet on the issue to their families, peers, and coworkers.

Delta has been regularly updating those affected with plans and protocol they’ll follow to make amends and to ensure such an outage never happens again. We feel, however, that some important lessons may be learned from this event that may help others never encounter such circumstances in the first place.

As stated by the airline, Delta has been attempting to “rest operations,” but is also experiencing difficulties in returning to full operations, as a senior vice president posted:

“We were able to bring our systems back online and resume flights within a few hours yesterday but we are still operating in recovery mode.”

However, if Delta had properly-implemented, functional backups in place, which they did not, the airline could have potentially avoided any downtime at all, saving themselves the ripple effect that the power outage caused the airline. Furthermore, Delta failed to act after similar circumstances befell Southwest Airlines a just a few short weeks before, neglecting to defend themselves against the potential repercussions of an outage.

Of course, there are measures that business travelers may put into place to help mitigate a few of the consequences that they would incur thanks to a grounded or delayed flight.

If a traveler’s flight is changed or cancelled for any of a variety of circumstances, a virtual private network put to use with a mobile computing solution and a VoIP solution would allow for a stranded traveler to communicate with clients and coworkers alike, preventing the loss of productivity one would usually associate with being trapped in a terminal.

If losing productivity to forces beyond your control concerns you, the professionals at Excalibur Technology can help you establish a solution to mitigate or even circumvent the consequences. To find out what solutions would best fit your needs, give us a call at (877) NET – KING.

It Pays To Outsource Your IT

It Pays To Outsource Your ITTechnology can be fickle at times. When it’s not working properly, it can hold your business back from reaching its maximum potential. Therefore, in order to maximize your bottom line, it becomes common sense to ensure that your technology is in proper working order at all times. The problem lies in the fact that you may not necessarily specialize in technology management, and don’t have the time or budget to perform maintenance yourself. What’s the SMB to do?

In the past, break-fix IT services allowed users to get the technical support they needed, but at a steep cost. IT companies would tell the user what was wrong with the technology, and offer a price for what it would take to fix it. By nature, this type of IT maintenance is designed to thrive off of the user’s technology failing to work properly. Therefore, from a break-fix IT company’s point of view, there’s no real reason to put preventative measures in place that would save the user money in the long run.

In stark contrast, managed IT services do the exact opposite of their break-fix counterpart, and that’s to save businesses money by preventing issues from developing into costly and downtime-causing problems. This helps organizations keep their IT budgets intact, even if they don’t have a dedicated in-house IT department. Preventative maintenance detects small issues and resolves them in a timely manner, preventing them from becoming major problems.

Here are some examples of effective managed service offerings that can save SMBs money in the long run:

Server Hosting
Your server units are the hardware responsible for the safe storage and distribution of your organization’s digital assets. Therefore, it makes sense that you would want to guarantee that they’re being cared for properly. The problem here is that server maintenance and hosting requires a specific skillset that only a professional technician can provide, and that the SMB typically has a limited IT budget that doesn’t necessarily accommodate hiring new staff members for this purpose. This is often why organizations outsource this responsibility to a managed service provider that can guarantee consistent uptime and the prolonged health of server units.

Network Security
If your business doesn’t know the difference between viruses, malware, trojans, phishing scams, and other common threats, it’s a good idea to have a trained security professional on-hand to manage your network and endpoints. Businesses can outsource the responsibility of maintaining and managing solutions like firewalls, antivirus, spam-blocking, and content-filtering components, that are capable of mitigating threats and limiting exposure to dangerous situations.

Remote Maintenance and Management
There are times when technological issues aren’t immediately known to the user, and they can become disastrous problems later on if ignored. Technology professionals can identify these issues by remotely monitoring statistics like CPU usage, RAM consumption, and other critical factors, in order to prevent them from escalating into major unavoidable disasters. These issues can then be resolved remotely, without the need for an on-site visit from a tech, helping you keep your budget under control.

Backup and Disaster Recovery
Small businesses might be agile enough to respond to threats and disasters promptly, but this is only the case if they’re taking measures to keep their data safe. It’s been shown that businesses that fail to recover their data following a data loss incident, will likely go out of business within one year of the incident. Therefore, you need a comprehensive solution that’s designed to limit data loss and practically eliminate downtime.

If your business has difficulty managing and maintaining its technology infrastructure, why not reach out to Excalibur Technology to ask about what we can do for your business? To learn more about backup and disaster recovery, network security, and more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

4 Ways To Make Sure Workplace Instant Messaging Enhances Productivity

Work Chat ProductivityInstant messaging has changed the way that individuals communicate with one another, both in their personal lives and in the workplace. Just as email threw a wrench in traditional mail’s plans, instant messaging threatens to jump start a new method of instantaneous communication, one which can be seen as a great benefit, but also an immense annoyance.

As reported by ITProPortal, over half of the respondents to a survey by BetterCloud believe that instant messaging will overtake email in the office; an impressive feat, especially considering how commonplace email is in today’s professional environment. However, this also means that businesses need to improve their instant messaging practices if they want to reap the benefits it provides, and to use instant messaging in such a way that it’s not a major workplace distraction.

If you want to improve your business’s instant messaging practices, try these tips.

Accurately Represent Your Current Online Status
You need to give your team a proper representation of whether you are currently available or not. If you don’t, they could be wasting valuable time trying to reach out to you when, in reality, you’re nowhere near your computer. Make sure that you change your status to indicate that you’re away from your computer, or logged off for the night; that way, your team can know that they would be better off contacting someone else who is available.

If It’s Going to Be a Long Conversation, Try a Different Communication Medium
Long IM conversations can waste time, especially if they aren’t particularly relevant to the task at hand. In this case, it’s better to simply pick up the phone and call the person you need to communicate with or arrange for a face-to-face conversation. This way, the details get ironed out and you don’t waste valuable time getting to the point. Plus, emotions are somewhat difficult to express through instant messaging, while voice chat and in-person meetings are easier to get a feel for.

If You Have a Short, Specific Request, Try to Put It at the Beginning of the Conversation
There’s no point in drawing out a conversation when all you need to do is ask a question. Doing so isn’t just wasting your time; it’s wasting the recipient’s time too. Be courteous and respectful of your colleagues’ time and ask questions as soon as you can.

Take Full Advantage of Your IM System’s Features
Many instant messaging platforms also allow for several other functions. If you fully take advantage of these features, your team can be more productive with your IM solution. For example, if your system allows for voice chat, using it can be a great way to clear up confusion or explain a particularly difficult concept. If you need to rope in another person, try adding them to the conversation when they need to be there. The idea is to play around with what works and what the limits of your IM system are. This way, you can help your team better understand how to take advantage of the features.

By following these best practices, your organization will see a more fruitful use of instant messaging features. What are some of your favorite ways to use instant messaging, and do you have any specific practices that you follow at your organization? We’d love to hear about them. Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for more best practices and tech tips.

For NATO, Cyberspace Is Today’s Frontline

Cyber Security WarIt’s clear that security professionals have waged war with hackers since the Internet’s inception, but NATO has reaffirmed that cybersecurity is not just a localized problem; it’s a nation-state-wide issue, and one that needs to be addressed. Just like land, air, and sea, cyberspace is now an operational domain, a place that can be considered a battlefield.

NATO has declared that cyberspace qualifies as an area where conflict can occur, (it surprisingly took this long). While many cyber attacks tend to be limited to only data infrastructures, there are plenty of instances where attacks have moved from the cyber realm to the physical world. Some examples include a Ukrainian electrical grid hack from just last year, as well as a supposed Iranian hack of a United States dam control system. In other words, technology systems have the capabilities to cause quite a bit of damage, like blackouts or shutting down critical systems.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made a valid observation concerning the decision to add cyberspace to the list of operational domains: “Cyber defence is part of collective defence. Most crises and conflicts today have a cyber dimension. So treating cyber as an operational domain would enable us to better protect our missions and operations.”

Technology has become such a commodity in today’s world that even warfare is assisted by it, through providing access to important data and applications. Networks that are used to deploy this data could be hacked, causing important information to be either lost or stolen; thus, putting real-world lives at risk. Plus, if a hacking attack rendered citizens without heat, electricity, and other necessities, it could redefine what the world thinks of as a war of attrition.

NATO plans on securing networks and focusing on helping other countries secure their own. Additionally, NATO wants to help others identify where attacks come from, and what can be done about them. In 2014, NATO changed its policies to allow them to respond to any attacks against nations involved with the organization, so this shows that cyber warfare could potentially become a major factor in ongoing conflicts in the future.

Granted, measures that could be put into place are easier to talk about than to actually implement. Cyber security is generally handled on a state level, and while the US and UK have invested heavily in cyber security, other countries tend to think of it as a low priority, or don’t foresee it affecting them in the near future.

This decision by NATO should drive the importance of cybersecurity in the workplace, and reaffirm that your organization needs to take a cautious and proactive stance. Additionally, you’ll need to use best practices in order to minimize the risks of working online, as you’ll probably realize far too late that you’ve been infiltrated by hackers. It’s in your best interest to take a preventative stance on network security, regardless of how much risk you feel your business is at.

To learn more about IT security, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology
Excalibur Technology