Master Mac’s Notification Center to increase productivity

App notifications can be equal parts helpful and frustrating. On the one hand, they make it easier to stay on top of work updates. On the other, they can become distracting and overwhelming. If you use Mac OS X, the best place to start is configuring the settings in your Notification Center.

Managing alerts within Notification Center

You can see everything from previews of new emails to reminders about upcoming meetings by clicking the three horizontally stacked lines in the upper right-hand corner of your Mac’s screen.

Selecting the Notifications tab will display all kinds of alerts that you can delete by clicking the X icon in the upper right-hand corner of the box. Alternatively, you can click the X to the right of Today if you want to clear all your notifications for that day.

How to customize what is shown in your Notification Center

If you would like to change which apps can display notifications on your computer:

  1. Open the System Preferences app.
  2. Select the Notifications icon.
  3. Click on the app that you want to modify.
  4. Choose which alert style you want that app to use and check or uncheck the boxes below it to configure things like whether or not the notification plays a sound or shows up on the lock screen.

At the bottom of the screen, you also have the option for notifications to be sorted by one of these three options: Recents, Recents by App, or Manually by App.

How to configure Do Not Disturb settings

From the Notifications settings in your System Preferences app, scroll to the top of the list and select Do Not Disturb. This will display options for automatically enabling Do Not Disturb at certain times of day, when the computer is hooked up to a projector, or during calls.

If you want to turn on Do Not Disturb at-will, just open your Notification Center, scroll to the top of the Notifications tab, and click the Do Not Disturb toggle.

Getting your Mac’s alerts to a manageable level shouldn’t be too difficult. But notification overload may be a symptom of a much larger problem. Give us a call today if your Apple devices are creating more problems than they’re solving.

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Put an end to annoying notifications on your Mac

Have you ever cursed your computer for inundating you with annoying notifications? Alerts about calendar events, new emails, and app updates are supposed to be helpful, but seeing too many may hurt your productivity. Thankfully, Mac users have a swift and simple tool to get everything under control.

Managing alerts within Notification Center

You can see everything from previews of new emails to reminders about upcoming meetings by clicking the three horizontally stacked lines in the upper right-hand corner of your Mac’s screen.

Selecting the Notifications tab will display all kinds of alerts that you can delete by clicking the X icon in the upper right-hand corner of the box. Alternatively, you can click the X to the right of Today if you want to clear all your notifications for that day.

How to customize what is shown in your Notification Center

If you would like to change which apps can display notifications on your computer:

  1. Open the System Preferences app.
  2. Select the Notifications icon.
  3. Click on the app that you want to modify.
  4. Choose which alert style you want that app to use and check or uncheck the boxes below it to configure things like whether or not the notification plays a sound or shows up on the lock screen.

At the bottom of the screen, you also have the option for notifications to be sorted by one of these three options: Recents, Recents by App, or Manually by App.

How to configure Do Not Disturb settings

From the Notifications settings in your System Preferences app, scroll to the top of the list and select Do Not Disturb. This will display options for automatically enabling Do Not Disturb at certain times of day, when the computer is hooked up to a projector, or during calls.

If you want to turn on Do Not Disturb at-will, just open your Notification Center, scroll to the top of the Notifications tab, and click the Do Not Disturb toggle.

Getting your Mac’s alerts to a manageable level shouldn’t be too difficult. But notification overload may be a symptom of a much larger problem. Give us a call today if your Apple devices are creating more problems than they’re solving.

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Don’t neglect Mac’s awesome Notification Center settings

Can you remember a time when you didn’t receive a few dozen notifications per day? Apps today send all kinds of alerts to our devices, some helpful and some not. It’s not difficult to customize how your devices send you notifications, especially if you use a Mac desktop computer or laptop.

Managing alerts within Notification Center

You can see everything from previews of new emails to reminders about upcoming meetings by clicking the three horizontally stacked lines in the upper right-hand corner of your Mac’s screen.

Selecting the Notifications tab will display all kinds of alerts that you can delete by clicking the X icon in the upper right-hand corner of the box. Alternatively, you can click the X to the right of Today if you want to clear all your notifications for that day.

How to customize what is shown in your Notification Center

If you would like to change which apps can display notifications on your computer:

  1. Open the System Preferences app.
  2. Select the Notifications icon.
  3. Click on the app that you want to modify.
  4. Choose which alert style you want that app to use and check or uncheck the boxes below it to configure things like whether or not the notification plays a sound or shows up on the lock screen.

At the bottom of the screen, you also have the option for notifications to be sorted by one of these three options: Recents, Recents by App, or Manually by App.

How to configure Do Not Disturb settings

From the Notifications settings in your System Preferences app, scroll to the top of the list and select Do Not Disturb. This will display options for automatically enabling Do Not Disturb at certain times of day, when the computer is hooked up to a projector, or during calls.

If you want to turn on Do Not Disturb at-will, just open your Notification Center, scroll to the top of the Notifications tab, and click the Do Not Disturb toggle.

Getting your Mac’s alerts to a manageable level shouldn’t be too difficult. But notification overload may be a symptom of a much larger problem. Give us a call today if your Apple devices are creating more problems than they’re solving.

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Licensing issues with virtualization

Software developers make a profit by selling us the best product they can create. When selling pieces of their software in bulk, they offer licensing packages to businesses so you don’t have to buy 100 copies of the same CD. Now that an increasing amount of services and tools are moving into the cloud, it’s a lot harder to track how many licenses you’ll need and how much they’ll cost. Here’s a quick rundown on everything you need to know to make the right decision for your SMB.

Why are licenses an issue?

Virtualization is a complex topic, but here’s a quick overview of how it works and why licensing is almost always an issue. Most people are starting to work the concept of cloud storage into their everyday lives. Think of virtualization as a cloud where your server(s) store their hardware capabilities and your network computers can pull from that cloud as needed.

In this scenario, let’s assume employee A and employee B have two identical desktop computers with barebones hardware. Employee A needs to perform some basic text editing while employee B needs an in-depth scan of your client database. With the right infrastructure management, both employees will connect to your business’s server for the necessary physical processing power and server-hosted software. That means employee A will request the appropriate amount of processing power to edit text (which is likely very little) from the server, while employee B requests a much larger chunk of RAM, processing, and hard drive space for scanning the database.

It gets really tricky when we start asking how many licenses are required for the server-hosted software. Licensing models were originally based on the number of physical hard drives with installed copies. However, in a virtualized environment, that’s not an accurate reflection of usage. Using the most recent platforms, administrators can divide their CPU into as many virtual machines as the SMB requires.

What do current virtualized licensing models look like?

Sadly, virtualization and software industries are still deciding on the best way to move forward. The very vendors that sell the software required to manage the creation of virtual machines and segmentation of your server disagree about which model to use.

The company behind the popular VMware software has switched to a per-virtual-machine model after a huge response from customers, while other powerhouse vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have stuck with the per-CPU-core model that is based on server hardware capacity.

In any software selection process there is almost always the option of open source software. Under the open source model there are no licenses and usage is free, and just last month, AT&T committed to virtualizing 75 percent of its office under the OpenStack cloud computing platform by 2020.

What should I do?

In the end, software license considerations and total cost of ownership calculations should be a huge factor in how you plan to virtualize your SMB. When discussing the possibility of an infrastructure migration with your IT services provider, make sure to ask about the advantages and disadvantages of different virtualization platforms compared with their licensing models. You may find that paying more for hardware-based models is worth it, or that open source platforms provide you with everything you need.

No matter which platform you choose, remember to list every piece of licensed software in your office. Find out which licenses you can keep, which ones you’ll need to update, and most importantly, what the license migration will cost you in the short and long run.

The process of virtualizing your SMB alone is a real pain. Get in touch with us now to avoid the headache entirely and we’ll walk you through all of the steps necessary to guide your organization through this next step in modernizing your business model.

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Virtualization and licensing

For a successful virtualization project, it’s important to understand software licensing and support policies for virtualized and cloud environments. Today, many enterprises invest in software to track licensing compliance and vendor support policies because policies could differ substantially among vendors. For most, licensing concerns focused on deploying server applications to server virtualization infrastructures. Here are some things you need to know before you make a decision.

Why are licenses an issue?

Virtualization is a complex topic, but here’s a quick overview of how it works and why licensing is almost always an issue. Most people are starting to work the concept of cloud storage into their everyday lives. Think of virtualization as a cloud where your server(s) store their hardware capabilities and your network computers can pull from that cloud as needed.

In this scenario, let’s assume employee A and employee B have two identical desktop computers with barebones hardware. Employee A needs to perform some basic text editing while employee B needs an in-depth scan of your client database. With the right infrastructure management, both employees will connect to your business’s server for the necessary physical processing power and server-hosted software. That means employee A will request the appropriate amount of processing power to edit text (which is likely very little) from the server, while employee B requests a much larger chunk of RAM, processing, and hard drive space for scanning the database.

It gets really tricky when we start asking how many licenses are required for the server-hosted software. Licensing models were originally based on the number of physical hard drives with installed copies. However, in a virtualized environment, that’s not an accurate reflection of usage. Using the most recent platforms, administrators can divide their CPU into as many virtual machines as the SMB requires.

What do current virtualized licensing models look like?

Sadly, virtualization and software industries are still deciding on the best way to move forward. The very vendors that sell the software required to manage the creation of virtual machines and segmentation of your server disagree about which model to use.

The company behind the popular VMware software has switched to a per-virtual-machine model after a huge response from customers, while other powerhouse vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have stuck with the per-CPU-core model that is based on server hardware capacity.

In any software selection process there is almost always the option of open source software. Under the open source model there are no licenses and usage is free, and just last month, AT&T committed to virtualizing 75 percent of its office under the OpenStack cloud computing platform by 2020.

What should I do?

In the end, software license considerations and total cost of ownership calculations should be a huge factor in how you plan to virtualize your SMB. When discussing the possibility of an infrastructure migration with your IT services provider, make sure to ask about the advantages and disadvantages of different virtualization platforms compared with their licensing models. You may find that paying more for hardware-based models is worth it, or that open source platforms provide you with everything you need.

No matter which platform you choose, remember to list every piece of licensed software in your office. Find out which licenses you can keep, which ones you’ll need to update, and most importantly, what the license migration will cost you in the short and long run.

The process of virtualizing your SMB alone is a real pain. Get in touch with us now to avoid the headache entirely and we’ll walk you through all of the steps necessary to guide your organization through this next step in modernizing your business model.

Posted in General Articles B, Virtualization | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Software challenges for virtual environments

Since the very first software release, software licensing was already considered a challenge. In the past, many software licensing models were based on concurrent connections or number of installations. Today, virtualization and multicore CPUs add a new level of complexity, making it more difficult to track costs and how many licenses you’ll need. Let’s take a closer look at the following considerations to help you make a better decision.

Why are licenses an issue?

Virtualization is a complex topic, but here’s a quick overview of how it works and why licensing is almost always an issue. Most people are starting to work the concept of cloud storage into their everyday lives. Think of virtualization as a cloud where your server(s) store their hardware capabilities and your network computers can pull from that cloud as needed.

In this scenario, let’s assume employee A and employee B have two identical desktop computers with barebones hardware. Employee A needs to perform some basic text editing while employee B needs an in-depth scan of your client database. With the right infrastructure management, both employees will connect to your business’s server for the necessary physical processing power and server-hosted software. That means employee A will request the appropriate amount of processing power to edit text (which is likely very little) from the server, while employee B requests a much larger chunk of RAM, processing, and hard drive space for scanning the database.

It gets really tricky when we start asking how many licenses are required for the server-hosted software. Licensing models were originally based on the number of physical hard drives with installed copies. However, in a virtualized environment, that’s not an accurate reflection of usage. Using the most recent platforms, administrators can divide their CPU into as many virtual machines as the SMB requires.

What do current virtualized licensing models look like?

Sadly, virtualization and software industries are still deciding on the best way to move forward. The very vendors that sell the software required to manage the creation of virtual machines and segmentation of your server disagree about which model to use.

The company behind the popular VMware software has switched to a per-virtual-machine model after a huge response from customers, while other powerhouse vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have stuck with the per-CPU-core model that is based on server hardware capacity.

In any software selection process there is almost always the option of open source software. Under the open source model there are no licenses and usage is free, and just last month, AT&T committed to virtualizing 75 percent of its office under the OpenStack cloud computing platform by 2020.

What should I do?

In the end, software license considerations and total cost of ownership calculations should be a huge factor in how you plan to virtualize your SMB. When discussing the possibility of an infrastructure migration with your IT services provider, make sure to ask about the advantages and disadvantages of different virtualization platforms compared with their licensing models. You may find that paying more for hardware-based models is worth it, or that open source platforms provide you with everything you need.

No matter which platform you choose, remember to list every piece of licensed software in your office. Find out which licenses you can keep, which ones you’ll need to update, and most importantly, what the license migration will cost you in the short and long run.

The process of virtualizing your SMB alone is a real pain. Get in touch with us now to avoid the headache entirely and we’ll walk you through all of the steps necessary to guide your organization through this next step in modernizing your business model.

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Cooling tips for an overheating laptop

Aside from coffee spills, the greatest threat for your laptop is overheating. This can cause hardware failure and permanent damage to your device. To improve the performance and increase the lifespan of your device, follow these tips.

Causes of overheating

Laptops generate heat when in use. That’s why they have internal fans that blow out hot air and suck in cooler air. So when your laptop keeps shutting down or suffers some serious slowdowns, chances are it’s overheating.

Some causes of overheating are:

Damaged or malfunctioning fans are due to dirt and grime clogging up the fan, preventing it from rotating properly.
Blocked air vents prevents air from flowing into the laptop.
Old laptop battery rely on lithium, a chemical that naturally decays over time; as the battery gets older, it becomes less efficient and generates more heat
Running too many software programs in the background can cause your processor and fans to go on overdrive.
Bad habits when using your laptop, such as using uneven or soft surfaces as padding, can block the air vents, leading to overheating.

What to do if your laptop’s overheating

If your laptop starts overheating, the first thing you should do is turn your laptop off and check if the fan is damaged in any way. This can slow down its rotation. Next, inspect the vents and fan for any dirt, grime, or other possible causes of blockage.

Also, check how many software programs or apps run immediately after switching your laptop on. If your laptop is overheating or shutting down after a while, you may have to disable applications on startup.

Keeping it cool

Always make sure that there’s adequate airflow when you’re using your laptop. Avoid using your laptop in bed or on a carpet. And never use pillows as padding as they can block the air vents of your laptop. Better yet, invest in a cooling pad. They lift your laptop and have built-in fans that facilitate better airflow.

Other ways to avoid overheating are limiting the number of programs that run when you start your laptop, changing your settings to power save mode, and shutting down your laptop when you’re not using it.

Users often take their laptops for granted because they’re built as plug-and-play devices. However, with a little extra care and attention, your laptops can last longer. If you want to prolong the lifespan of your hardware, call our experts today.

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Prevent your laptop from overheating

An overheating laptop is not an uncommon thing. Unfortunately, this can lead to decreased laptop efficiency and a shorter lifespan. Here’s how to protect your laptop from damage due to overheating.

Causes of overheating

Laptops generate heat when in use. That’s why they have internal fans that blow out hot air and suck in cooler air. So when your laptop keeps shutting down or suffers some serious slowdowns, chances are it’s overheating.

Some causes of overheating are:

Damaged or malfunctioning fans are due to dirt and grime clogging up the fan, preventing it from rotating properly.
Blocked air vents prevents air from flowing into the laptop.
Old laptop battery rely on lithium, a chemical that naturally decays over time; as the battery gets older, it becomes less efficient and generates more heat
Running too many software programs in the background can cause your processor and fans to go on overdrive.
Bad habits when using your laptop, such as using uneven or soft surfaces as padding, can block the air vents, leading to overheating.

What to do if your laptop’s overheating

If your laptop starts overheating, the first thing you should do is turn your laptop off and check if the fan is damaged in any way. This can slow down its rotation. Next, inspect the vents and fan for any dirt, grime, or other possible causes of blockage.

Also, check how many software programs or apps run immediately after switching your laptop on. If your laptop is overheating or shutting down after a while, you may have to disable applications on startup.

Keeping it cool

Always make sure that there’s adequate airflow when you’re using your laptop. Avoid using your laptop in bed or on a carpet. And never use pillows as padding as they can block the air vents of your laptop. Better yet, invest in a cooling pad. They lift your laptop and have built-in fans that facilitate better airflow.

Other ways to avoid overheating are limiting the number of programs that run when you start your laptop, changing your settings to power save mode, and shutting down your laptop when you’re not using it.

Users often take their laptops for granted because they’re built as plug-and-play devices. However, with a little extra care and attention, your laptops can last longer. If you want to prolong the lifespan of your hardware, call our experts today.

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How to keep your laptop from overheating

More employees are opting for laptops because they’re compact and easy to carry around. However, small frames mean less space for computer chips, transistors, RAM, hard drives, and other hardware components. This leads to overheating.

Causes of overheating

Laptops generate heat when in use. That’s why they have internal fans that blow out hot air and suck in cooler air. So when your laptop keeps shutting down or suffers some serious slowdowns, chances are it’s overheating.

Some causes of overheating are:

Damaged or malfunctioning fans are due to dirt and grime clogging up the fan, preventing it from rotating properly.
Blocked air vents prevents air from flowing into the laptop.
Old laptop battery rely on lithium, a chemical that naturally decays over time; as the battery gets older, it becomes less efficient and generates more heat
Running too many software programs in the background can cause your processor and fans to go on overdrive.
Bad habits when using your laptop, such as using uneven or soft surfaces as padding, can block the air vents, leading to overheating.

What to do if your laptop’s overheating

If your laptop starts overheating, the first thing you should do is turn your laptop off and check if the fan is damaged in any way. This can slow down its rotation. Next, inspect the vents and fan for any dirt, grime, or other possible causes of blockage.

Also, check how many software programs or apps run immediately after switching your laptop on. If your laptop is overheating or shutting down after a while, you may have to disable applications on startup.

Keeping it cool

Always make sure that there’s adequate airflow when you’re using your laptop. Avoid using your laptop in bed or on a carpet. And never use pillows as padding as they can block the air vents of your laptop. Better yet, invest in a cooling pad. They lift your laptop and have built-in fans that facilitate better airflow.

Other ways to avoid overheating are limiting the number of programs that run when you start your laptop, changing your settings to power save mode, and shutting down your laptop when you’re not using it.

Users often take their laptops for granted because they’re built as plug-and-play devices. However, with a little extra care and attention, your laptops can last longer. If you want to prolong the lifespan of your hardware, call our experts today.

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Evaluating the total cost of VoIP systems

When investing in VoIP phone systems, cost is always an important factor to consider. No matter what features it’s bundled with, a phone system that easily puts you over budget isn’t worth investing in. That’s why it’s important to evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of VoIP systems.

What is TCO?
TCO is the overall sum of procuring, deploying, and operating a VoIP system over its life cycle, which is typically five years. An experienced VoIP expert should be able to give you an informed approximation.

Upfront costs
Upfront costs are largely determined by whether you buy a VoIP system outright or rent it from a reputable third party. Although the former carries a steep upfront cost, payment will not continue indefinitely. This makes sense for large, fully staffed corporations with massive budgets. Meanwhile, the latter option is better for small- and medium-sized businesses that prefer to pay a small monthly subscription rather than make a huge investment.

Beyond the price of the VoIP package, upfront costs also include additional costs like headsets, webcams, and a stronger network connection to ensure crystal-clear calls.

Implementation costs
A majority of implementation costs goes to the fees of the consultant or managed IT services provider (MSP) that will design, deploy, and configure your VoIP system.

But since you’re installing a completely new phone system, you’ll also need to factor in costs associated to training employees on how to use the VoIP system effectively and securely.

Operational costs
This covers monthly recurring costs of voice and data plans. For example, some service providers charge local and long-distance calls per minute, while others offer unlimited local calls for a fixed monthly cost.

If you’re managing your VoIP infrastructure yourself, you’ll also have to take into account the monthly power, cooling, and maintenance fees. If you opt for hosted VoIP services, however, you’ll only be billed for maintenance.

Upgrade costs
You should also set aside some room in your budget for VoIP upgrades. For instance, to improve customer service, you may need to integrate customer relationship management (CRM) software with VoIP, but that requires a certified CRM expert to facilitate the entire integration process.

Evaluating all the costs that apply to your business will give you a clear idea of how much you can expect to pay for your VoIP system. If you’re having difficulty calculating the real costs of VoIP, call our experts today. We’ll help you figure out which VoIP solution is most ideal for your business and budget.

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