10 Apr 2019

How to Safely Migrate Away From Windows Server 2008 Before It’s Too Late

Windows Server 2008 is reaching its end. On January 14th, 2020, the highly successful and highly secure solution will no longer have support or patches in place. Microsoft released Windows Server 2019 last fall, but millions of enterprises are still relying on the 2008 version to meet their needs.

If you are among those millions, the time has come to think critically about alternatives. Loyalty to Windows Server 2008 still remains high despite its impending lack of security. This solution is deeply embedded in many daily office functions so naturally switching will cause interference. However, substantial complications can be evaded by choosing the solution that works best for your business.

Here is our guide to help lead your business through this major transition. We have addressed all the important issues to make your next steps logical, concise and, most importantly, unproblematic.

What Does The End of Windows Server 2008 Support Mean For My Business?

The termination of support means that adequate protection will no longer be provided for Windows Server 2008. The solution will continue to run, but without any fortification in place. Unless your business has a specific contract that allows for extended support, or you are willing to spend a lot of money to assure extended support, you will be left helpless. This occurrence invites in a host of problems never encountered before when using this solution.

Cybercriminals will suddenly have the ability to access sensitive data that, if breached, could trigger considerable trouble for your business. Agencies that handle vulnerable records (such as healthcare organizations) are particularly at risk and should be exceptionally proactive during this change.

What Should My Business Be Doing Now To Prepare For This Upcoming Change?

Start seeking a new solution right away. The deadline may seem far off, but the transition will likely be more difficult without sufficient planning. Review the magnitude of the migration, how many components it will affect and how it will impact your budget.

Work with a professional and knowledge technology partner to help properly direct your efforts. Just like any relationship, choose a partner that you can communicate and connect with. They should always be acting on your behalf, providing you with a strategy that is transparent and valuable. You want to pick a partner that promptly jumps into a task and works diligently to get things done on time and on budget.

What Alternatives To Windows Server 2008 Should I Consider?

A trusted partner will help evaluate your business needs in order to find the solution that is most sensible. Here are some common options that many organizations are contemplating:

Windows Server Upgrade

Another option is to migrate data to a more modern version of Windows Server that still has support intact, such as Windows Server 2016 or Windows Server 2019. Some businesses respond well to this solution. It all depends on your unique workspace and your long-term goals.

Our Final Recommendation

At this time, taking action is not optional. No business is immune to hackers. Operating on a completely insecure platform radically raises the risk of compromise.

Acting now gives your business time to make a thorough plan, navigate through obstacles and become familiar with your new or upgraded solution. Waiting will only up the odds of attack, so contact a trusted technology partner today to explore your options.

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10 Jan 2019

Exciting Changes We Can Expect from Joomla 4

Content Management Systems are Robust

Content management system, Joomla, is undergoing some exciting changes. Developers will soon be unveiling Joomla 4 which promises to delight users with inventive upgrades.

With 4.0.0 Alpha 5 already released, users are eagerly awaiting the announcement that Joomla 4 has arrived. The official launch date has not been confirmed, but details about new features are already circulating.

What Users Already Love About Joomla

Joomla has been around for nearly a decade. The award-winning CMS launched in 2005 and has established itself as safe, reliable and search engine friendly. Many developers choose Joomla for its world-class user interface, powerful performance and its multitude of extensions (over 7,000 to date).

Major Changes Unique to Joomla 4

 

  • A new and refined core User Interface
  • Faster loading pages that will reduce bounce rates
  • Layer improvements for Model View Controller (MVC) architecture
  • Service container implementation for global dependency management
  • A new media manager that delivers immaculate editing capabilities and makes organizing files incredibly easy
  • A cleaner codebase that allows developers to produce intense, hard-wearing applications
  • A completely refactored event dispatching system
  • Improved SEO features

 

The New Publishing Workflow

Joomla 4 also provides users with a feature that may transform content management. The new publishing workflow is a way of systematizing articles that are tailored to the needs of each user. This feature will replace static states (such as unpublished or archived) by facilitating the creation of custom states. This is an intuitive feature that was constructed to harmonize with how people work.

 

All of this innovation will be available for instantaneous installation thanks to a faster downloading process. Dynamic colours and beautiful typography also accompany the new Joomla. These improvements and design elements deliver a website that looks as smooth as it functions.

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18 Dec 2018

WordPress Launches 5.0: Discover The Changes Affecting Your Website

WordPress has been upheld as the easiest and most effective system of web content management for many years. What started as a basic blog creation platform has catapulted into an enterprise that powers over 32% of the internet! Now it is taking on a new form with the December release of the brand new update – WordPress 5.0.

WordPress 5.0 promises to deliver more than other major updates. Of course, getting to play around with fun new features is always exciting. However, the developers have a little more up their sleeves with this rollout.

Substantial buzz is being created around the new blocks-based editor, known as Gutenberg. We will be exploring this feature in an upcoming article. For now, let’s take a look at the other big changes happening to our favorite blogging site:

Rest API

5.0 has made some improvements to elements such as the REST API. API stands for Application Programming Interface and primarily permits two applications to connect. Representational State Transfer (REST) is a type of API that has been formed with a specific set of guidelines that dictate its behavior.  This allows developers to connect WordPress with nearly all other web applications. It enriches the creation process, increases the exchange of data and generates an abundance of opportunities for developers.

Security Updates

The popularity of WordPress makes it a viable target for cybercriminals. 5.0 addresses security concerns and aims to strengthen safeguards for its users. Keep in mind that while every update promises better security, the best way to protect your website is to work with a trusted provider and employ multi-factor authentication.

Twenty-Nineteen

The new default theme, Twenty-Nineteen, reflects the Gutenberg vision. It introduces custom styles and a minimalist, type-driven layout. It is intended to be adaptable and unrestricted. Twenty-Nineteen lacks a sidebar but does contain an area in the footer to place widgets. It is highly responsive to screens of all sizes and notably optimized for mobile use.

Before You Click That Button!

Before diving into the newly deployed WordPress 5.0, remember to create a backup of your current website. You do not want to risk losing any of your data.

This update will completely change how you manage your website. It is important to know that you can take time to fully understand all of its intricacies before installing it. Don’t feel pressured to update immediately. There is no harm in waiting a few months to ensure all of your plug-ins are compatible.

 

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07 Nov 2018

Artificial Intelligence Explained: Can It Transform Your Business?

We have entered the age of the thinking machine. In a very short time, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and its subset, machine learning, have gone from mere science fiction to the imperative puzzle piece that is successfully streamlining our lives. It can trade stocks, analyze genetic code, write software, drive a car and help you bake the perfect peanut butter cookies.

This force, while still technically in its infancy, is continuously outperforming humans at many tasks. With the list of A.I. accomplishments growing by the day, it begs the question: What even is A.I.? How does it work? And how could a small business owner harness its power?

What Is AI? How is Machine Learning Defined?

Artificial Intelligence is the development of a computer system that is capable of completing sophisticated human tasks. Machine learning is an application of AI that provides computers the ability to learn. They do so through frequent repetition.

Initially, humans set up an algorithm for which the machine can begin acquiring knowledge. Performing a high volume of monotonous computerized tasks helps deepen the machine’s neural networks. An incredible load of data is required to teach these digital brains.

How Does It Work?

Over time, the algorithm becomes self-learning. It becomes capable of making evidence-based predictions without relying on a predetermined equation. It can spot natural patterns in data that allow it to acutely comprehend.

Whether building a shopping list or conducting an MRI, an A.I. algorithm can dig deep into its data supply and operate with razor-sharp accuracy. Machines can’t do everything, but they are built to accomplish a range of singular tasks very well.

Benefits of Artificial Intelligence for Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises

A.I. can morph into the realm of small business very easily. It can undoubtedly improve the e-commerce experience for customers. Commercially accessible chatbots have become commonplace on websites in recent years. They engage users browsing your site and help expedite customer service. Machine learning can intelligently recommend extra items based on user behaviour. For example, when a customer goes to complete their purchase of a scarf, a suggestion is made that they may like a matching set of gloves.

Experts have declared that machine learning will be the future of marketing. It is currently allowing companies to analyze unbelievably enormous amounts of data in real time. It can churn out actionable insights instantly.

So What’s in it for My Business?

What can you do with instant insights? Deliver highly optimized interactions because you now have an in-depth customer profile at your fingertips. Assemble better marketing campaigns because you now know exactly who your target audience is. You know what they love, loath, fear and anticipate. Create better ads that speak to your audience like an old friend. Finally you can give customers what they want before they even realize they want it.

This technology prevents you from throwing money at educated guesses. Smaller scale businesses can put their precious dollars towards something they know is going to pay off. Automated emails and social media scheduling can free up your staff’s time so they can focus on important projects. Machine learning’s precision can also pinpoint supply chain issues and determine the most effective channels to use.

Computational learning has come a long way from the 1950s when the technology was first imagined. We may not be that far away from simulating a human brain in digital form. These incredible complexities of computer science may await us down the road. For now, the advantages available to the average business could improve productivity and present a distinct competitive edge.

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19 Oct 2018

Martin Sherris, Former CEO of Kingston Chamber of Commerce, Joins Response I.T.

Welcome to Response I.T. Martin!

Response I.T. recently announced that it is opening a new satellite office in the West End of Kingston. Improving response times in surrounding communities is essential for growth, especially in the fast-paced world of information technology. In addition, former Chamber of Commerce Kingston CEO, Martin Sherris will join the team as Business Development Leader. Martin is a longstanding resident of Kingston and is most proud of his aptitude to develop professional relationships and advocate for local businesses in our community.

A Fitting Background

Martin’s involvement in the community is a testament to his belief in practicing service above self. Most recently, Martin held the position of CEO for the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce, and did so for four years. During this time, he also served as an active member of a local Rotary Club. Previous to this, he was a founding member and President of a local Civitan Club, and spent 20 years in Sales Management and General Management for the waste and recycling industry.

What’s in Store

Martin not only looks forward to the opportunity to work closely with Response I.T. and sister company, Website Design Kingston, as their Business Development Leader, but also to bringing his many years of local business savvy and expertise in order to demonstrate the value of this growing company.

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02 Oct 2018

How Managed Services Can Save Small Businesses Money

It is a commonly held belief that I.T. management is an amenity for larger-scale businesses that have a great number of staff, clients and locations. Having the proper tools and expertise at their disposal is all part of being a major organization and small businesses certainly couldn’t access such services without breaking the bank. Well, we are here to disprove this assumption.

The benefits of using managed services are substantial, scale-able and affordable. No budget is too small to reap the benefits with a Managed Service Provider!

Your Options

As a small to medium-sized business, you essentially have two options. You can wait until something goes wrong and hire outside help. During this latent period you may feel that you are saving money. But when something does wrong (as it often does), suddenly you are shelling out big bucks to deploy a solution. You may even find yourself spending more money to fix one problem, one time, then what you would spend on preemptive system maintenance.

Your second option is implementing Managed Services. A great MSP has expertise, tools and processes to maintain your system. Many use innovative cloud technologies that sound remarkable and boast an array of capabilities. However, they are only truly effective when employed by a solid team of experts that have your business’s best interest at heart.

The Benefits

MSPs such as Response IT get to know your system as they monitor it. So if trouble strikes, they have an intricate understanding of its complexities and how to fix them. This increases the pace at which problems are diagnosed and solved. For small to medium-size businesses, less downtime means shorter lapses in service and fewer irritated customers. Being back in action quicker helps you to rival large-scale competition.

Customize

MSPs have a variety of affordable packages that cater to small businesses. Response IT offers a basic package of managed services that includes a set number of hours per month where the team updates your system and checks that everything is as it should be. Comparatively, we offer an “all-you-can-eat” style of package that gives our clients who are experiencing technical issues a priority status as well as a larger monthly set of hours. Our experts can evaluate your unique needs to determine the package that is best suited for you.

Remember: don’t wait to deploy when a crisis hits! Instead, employ a team of experts who will get to know your system and ensure it is operating successfully.

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18 Sep 2018

After 2020 Using Windows 7 will cost you

Windows 7 Pro & Enterprise = $

In a recent blog post Microsoft announced it will no longer provide security updates for Windows 7 as of January 14, 2020. Many businesses still use the popular operating system, some estimates put it at 38.65% according to StatCounter.

Microsoft didn’t provide pricing but stated the “extended support package” will be sold on a per-device basis and will increase every year. It will be available only for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise – not home versions of the OS.

Microsoft has used this tactic before when they encouraged users to ditch Windows XP. They offered a free upgrade again last year to Windows 10 when it first became available but that offer has since expired.

Now you must either: 1) Pay to upgrade to Windows 10, or 2) If you are running a business with the specific OS’s mentioned pay to receive ongoing security support. This also encourages (forces) all laggards to update and get on the latest versions of Windows under the guise of “Helping customers shift to a modern desktop”.

With so many systems running Windows 7, mainly for its ease of use and familiarity, it will be interesting to see how businesses react appropriately. If internal I.T. departments are proactive to execute a simple OS update they will experience a short drop in productivity immediately after updates. Of course, as staff become accustom and familiar they will experience improved security and increased productivity.

Don’t delay an update and risk possible security breaches or worse, complete loss of data. Upgrade your systems to Windows 10 now and ensure your company is utilizing the best possible software for your business. Contact your local I.T. professionals, Response I.T. at 613 549-5568 or email us here.

 

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11 Sep 2018

Pay for Google Maps on your Website?

Google Maps Severe Price Jump: What It Means for Your Business

On June 11 2018, Google launched the biggest upgrade that the Google Maps API has seen in years. Not only did the Internet giant change the name of the products to Google Maps Platform, it also reconfigured how users will be billed. This sneaky pre-GDPR move has left many people fuming.

Google Maps API or “Google Maps Platform” is an application programming interface that returns helpful data about places and locations. This technology allows maps to be embedded on websites so visitors can easily locate your business.

New Changes

Among the fundamental changes, the 18 APIs that formerly existed are now combined into Maps, Routes and Places. Maps offers static and dynamic views of locations. Routes offers transit, biking and walking directions. Places provides addresses, reviews, contact information and even atmospheric insights about the researched business.

Cost?

The new Maps Platform offers a seemingly innocuous pricing structure. The first $200 of monthly usage is completely free. This credit is generally enough to cover the cost of having a static map embedded in a website.

So what’s the issue? Well, if you venture into using a Dynamic Map with custom content and imagery, suddenly that $200 will only cover about 28,000 monthly page loads. Users under the old pricing structure received 25,000 free page loads per day!

Credit Card Information

Another kicker for users is the fact that they won’t even be able to take part in this 1400% price surge unless they hand their credit card information over to Google. Maps Platform stipulates that users must have a billing account. This applies to all users – even a small business using a basic map locator.

Google is clearly attempting to capitalize on the popular functionality of Maps, while leaving small enterprises at its mercy. Employing Managed Services from a trusted I.T. provider is the best way for businesses to assuage outrageous costs. A provider will ensure that your website adapts to all changes and remains a valuable tool for visitors.

Changes are unavoidable, but a trusted I.T. provider like Response I.T. can effectively manage the hassles they bring. If you have questions or concerns about the recent changes to Google Maps Platform, and how they could effect your website experience please contact our experts at 613 549-5568.

 

 

 

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23 May 2018

Increase Security and Productivity with Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

    The newest Windows 10 update has officially arrived! Hailed as one of Microsoft’s most expertly crafted operating systems, Windows 10 presents the spring creators update. If you haven’t updated your system recently, now is a great time to strengthen security and take advantage of fresh, enhanced features.

    New Privacy Settings for a More Transparent Experience

    • Privacy Settings: The spring creators update allows you to scan through a convenient list of your installed apps and set up permissions for each one. This replaces the complicated process of sorting through your privacy settings.
    • Data Delete Button:  Microsoft has added an easily accessible delete button to erase the data it has collected on users. This is part of the company’s efforts to establish a more open rapport with customers.
    • Password Privacy: This update allows users to set three security questions for a local administrator account, which can be used to gain access if their password is ever forgotten. Previously, Microsoft pushed users to link their Microsoft account with their Windows 10 desktop. But after a major push back from users, the company now delivers local account recovery.

    Innovative Features for Increased Productivity

    • Timeline – This feature showcases a timeline of tasks that you were previously working on, allowing you to easily recall documents you were writing, links you were browsing and messages you were responding to.
    • Near Share – This feature is Apple’s AirDrop for Microsoft users. It lets you share files with nearby computers and has amplified security to prevent spam.
    • Focus Assist – A “Do Not Disturb” feature for when users need to answer important emails or Skype calls.

    Cool features aside, the most imperative reason for running a software update is safety. Older software will continue to have weak spots that cyber criminals can override, while new software helps to safeguard your important documents from these threats. The free spring creators update can save your system from a costly attack.

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    09 May 2018

    Things You Should Know Before Building a Smart Home or Office

      Fantasy has become reality for those who have always dreamed of a digitally powered living space. “Smart” homes and offices are equipped with network-connected products that control features such as temperature, lighting and security. “Smart” homeowners can turn off the coffee maker and check on the pets from anywhere, simply by using their internet enabled device.

      What was once a frill for the tech-savvy wealthy is now a viable option popular with families and business owners. There are some key points to consider when creating your own smart space. Here is our guide for optimizing this technology to meet your needs.

      Is a Smart Space in Your Budget?

      Home and business owners must first figure out how much it will cost to create their AI-based ecosystem. Consider the essential items that your space needs and the extras that you might want but don’t require. For example, an air quality sensor will likely surpass a smart tortilla maker on a list of necessities.

      Google Home vs. Amazon Echo

      Is it Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa who can manage your calendar, order a pizza and set the thermostat the fastest? Both of these AI-powered smart speakers are flying off the shelves and have different designs and skill sets to offer. Google Home is a better option for regularly answering questions. Amazon Echo is better for controlling in-home devices.

      Making the choice between the two comes down to personal preference. Do you use Gmail and Chromecast often? You may pair well with Google Home. Do you like Amazon Fire TV? You may prefer Amazon Echo.

      Home or Office Compatibility

      Before building your smart space, ask yourself if your peripherals are compatible. Is your office already equipped with app-operated smart lights? Products such as Philips Hue lights have built-in Alexa support, making the transition to Amazon Echo a breeze.

      Smart Space Privacy

      When you connect your space to a smart system, your daily habits and those of your co-workers or family are being shared with tech companies. Amazon and Google make money by selling you things and understanding your lifestyle helps them to do so.

      If you want to minimize the amount of data collected on you, start by making shrewd choices about which rooms your smart technology will be located in. Get into the routine of regularly scrubbing voice command data and turning off your device’s microphone and camera.

      Smart Space Security

      A major concern for smart space creators is preventing the loathsome home hack. Sprinklers and smart fridges are more susceptible to hacks when they are connected to a vulnerable network. Encrypting your wireless router and implementing virtual private network (VPN) software can help protect you.

      Have more questions about building your ideal smart space? Contact our experts!

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