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Tip of the Week: Practical Ways to Make Your Smartphone Distraction-Free

b2ap3_thumbnail_no_distraction_celly_400.jpgMobile devices like smartphones and tablets are marketed as powerful productivity tools. However, some workers may find their device’s time-wasting apps to be more of a distraction than an aid to productivity. What’s a distracted smartphone owner to do?

According to a study by mConceirge, 90 percent of Americans actually use their smartphones for work purposes. This is why many businesses are adopting a Bring Your Own Device strategy so that personal devices can be used safely at work and for work. Unfortunately, not every worker has the willpower to forsake a mobile device’s time-wasting apps. For Jake Knapp, blogger and design partner at Google Venture, the struggle is real.

After spending time fighting a losing battle against the distracting power of his smartphone, Knapp began to look for a way out. He told of his experience on the sharing website Medium:

My iPhone made me twitchy. I could feel it in my pocket, calling me, like the Ring called Bilbo Baggins. It distracted me from my kids. It distracted me from my wife. It distracted me anytime, anywhere. I just didn’t have the willpower to ignore email and Twitter and Instagram and the whole world wide web. Infinity in my pocket was too much.

To remedy this problem, Knapp came up with a simple solution; dumb down his smartphone. According to his logic, if he got rid of the most distracting apps and only kept what’s absolutely essential, his phone would no longer have a hold over him. Here are four helpful tips that Knapp came up with in order to make his smartphone less distracting.

  • Disable Safari (or your phone’s Internet browser). For Knapp (and most of us), the Internet is one of the biggest sources of distraction because it’s, as he puts it, “a limitless universe of, y’know, everything.” Most smartphones don’t give the option to delete its Internet browser. However, you can disable it.
  • Delete the email app. Email on your desktop is distracting enough; having your inbox in your pocket is another level of distraction entirely. It’s the nature of email to not be the most urgent form of communication. For example, if someone truly needs an instant response from you, they would call you. Therefore, we think you can get by just fine by only checking your email on your PC.
  • Delete “infinity” apps. Knapp categorizes infinity apps as the apps that one can spend an “infinite” amount of time using. For example, all things social media and even games have a tendency to grab a hold of our attention and never let go. By deleting the worst time-wasting apps on your phone, you will find yourself spending less time glued to your tiny screen.
  • Only keep the apps that you need. Taking a minimalist approach to your smartphone is the best way to keep the distraction levels to a bare minimum. Accomplish this by only keeping apps that have practical value, like your GPS app, text messaging, calculator, etc. If there’s an app on your device that’s designed to waste time in any way, shape, or form, delete it for a happier, healthier, and more focused you.

Can you identify with Knapp’s smartphone addiction problem? What are some ways that you minimize your smartphone’s hold over your life. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Should You Upgrade to Windows 10 On Launch Day?

b2ap3_thumbnail_this_is_windows_10_400.jpgWho’s excited about the release of Windows 10 on July 29th? We sure are! After all, Microsoft’s new OS provides features and improvements that have many users planning on upgrading as soon as possible. However, as cool as Windows 10 looks to be, we don’t recommend that businesses blindly upgrade.

Given the nature of software, it’s typically a good idea to upgrade as soon as you can in order to take advantage of the latest security measures. Although, when it comes to upgrading to a completely new operating system, the rules are different and you need to take a more cautious approach.

Microsoft has made this cautious-to-upgrade approach difficult to abide by, due in part to its marketing strategy of sending Windows 7 and 8.1 users a notification that Windows 10 is now available for pre-order, and that the upgrade is free to licensed users. Check your System Tray if you’ve not yet seen this notification.  systraywin

Microsoft even goes so far as to give users the option to upgrade with one click of “Yes” or “Go!” This is a far cry from the days of waiting in line for the midnight release of Windows 95.

If a Windows user hasn’t done their homework about the new OS, they may be shooting themselves in the foot by blindly upgrading. Worst-case scenario: You’ve got a mission-critical app that isn’t compatible with Windows 10, and you don’t find this out until after you’ve installed the new OS. While Microsoft makes upgrading to a new OS easy, downgrading to an older OS is a very difficult and time-consuming task that you don’t want to experience.

Additionally, the new features of Windows 10 can potentially displace existing workflows if one isn’t prepared. Here are four more reasons why you may want to hold off on upgrading until the dust settles on Windows 10.

  • Internet Explorer has been replaced with a new web browser, Microsoft Edge. While this new browser likely has advantages over IE, it’s important to keep in mind that its new interface may befuddle longtime IE users. Plus, it’s rare for a 1.0 product to be error free upon its release.
  • While consumers will often jump on a new OS download as soon as it’s released, it’s a safe move for enterprises to wait until the first service pack comes out. A conservative move like this will prevent your business from being a beta tester for Microsoft.
  • In addition to having compatibility issues with older software, you might see issues with the compatibility of older peripherals, like scanners, printers, optical drives, etc. If Microsoft has deemed these devices obsolete, then your previously-functioning equipment will now be a paperweight.
  • Then there’s the potential to lose data and settings. Shield Watch explains, “Just like the browser upgrade, an entire OS upgrade comes with the potential for data loss. If you’re one of the brave to venture early we suggest you have a complete backup of your computer including system state, files and settings since there may be no going back!”

In conclusion, we think that Windows 10 has a lot going for it, but like any major business decision, it’s not a new venture that you want to blindly take on. Total Networks is here to help. We can assess your IT infrastructure so that you’ll know for sure if everything is compatible with Microsoft’s latest OS. We can even do the upgrading work for you so that you’ll know that it’s done right. Call us at (602)412-5025 to make the smoothest transition possible to Windows 10.

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The Best Way to Keep Your IT Infrastructure Operating at Maximum Efficiency

b2ap3_thumbnail_happy_it_user_400.jpgIt’s the goal of every IT administrator for every part of their network to run smoothly. Achieving this level of IT perfection is a beautiful thing that makes the job of everyone in the company easier. Unfortunately, all it takes is one component to fail for this dream of IT utopia to come crashing down.

If you’re lucky, the problem is nothing more than an IT hiccup that’s caught and resolved before it can cause any downtime. In a worst-case scenario, your network is slammed with an unforeseen problem that takes everything offline. When it comes to running an IT network, the rule is to hope for the best (IT utopia), while being prepared for the worst (an all-out disaster). Total Networks can help your business with both of these IT goals.

Hope for IT Utopia
The way we see it, IT utopia isn’t beyond reach. With proper implementation and oversight, an IT network can perform perfectly. When it comes to IT equipment, everything works flawlessly when it’s new and installed correctly. However, given the imperfect nature of technology, it won’t be too long before the newness wears off and an unforeseen error ruins IT utopia for everyone.

In situations like this, there are two approaches that can keep your business in a state of IT utopia. The first approach is to wait for something to go wrong and then fix it. Once the problem is taken care of, your business is returned to IT paradise. This approach is typical for break-fix IT companies, and while this break-fix approach will get a business back to IT utopia, paradise will come at a great cost that’s billed by the hour.

Instead, we’ve discovered that the best way for businesses to enjoy IT utopia is to never let it slip away in the first place. Total Networks achieves this for you with our proactive approach to IT maintenance. Using our managed IT services, we can monitor your network in order to catch and fix issues before they become downtime-causing problems able to “expel you from IT paradise.”

Be Prepared for the Worst
Just because you’ve achieved IT utopia, it doesn’t mean that you’re immune to losing it. In a worst-case scenario, IT utopia comes crashing down due to a totally unforeseen disaster, like a fire, flood, earthquake, hacking attack, and whatever else in the apocalypse category that your imagination can conjure up. While it’s impossible to totally prevent utopia-destroying events such as these, you can return your company to IT paradise as quickly as possible if your network is backed up with Total Networks’s Backup and Disaster Recovery solution.

Our BDR solution is the ultimate guarantor of IT utopia, thanks to its ability to take snapshots of your data multiple times throughout the workday. This ensures that minimal work hours are lost when your files are recovered. Additionally, BDR has the ability to act as a virtualized server so that your business can keep working in a virtualized version of IT utopia while your downed server is being repaired.

When it comes to safeguarding your company’s state of IT utopia, there’s no greater way to go about it than being proactive with Total Networks’s managed IT services and BDR solution. What’s it take for your business to obtain IT utopia? Call us at (602)412-5025 and find out.

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Posted in: Business

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Tip of the Week: Use Ctrl+F to Become a Search Master

b2ap3_thumbnail_find_what_you_want_400.jpgWith an endless amount of content available on the World Wide Web, a person who’s skilled at Internet searching is a valuable asset to any company. Knowing how to use search engines like Google is a huge help, but there’s another tool that allows you to narrow down a search even further: Ctrl+F.

Ctrl+F is one of the most useful keystrokes that you’re not using. In your web browser, upon selecting Ctrl+F, a form will appear that you can use to enter whatever word it is you’re looking for. After doing this, it’s easy to locate your searched-for word because it will be highlighted.

If you don’t see your word, just scroll down a bit. It’s likely hiding off screen. Additionally, a browser like Chrome makes it even easier to locate a word because Chrome will display below the form how many searched-for words there are total on the page, as well as allow you to cycle through each word with an up and down button.

find one

One of the greatest advantages of using Ctrl+F in conjunction with an Internet search is that it helps you to hone in on the exact word you’re looking for after you select the page from the search results. This is a great way to solve a common mystery when searching the web: “What in the world does this page have to do with what I’m looking for?” By opening the page and selecting Ctrl+F, you can very quickly find an answer to this question.

Thinking beyond web searching, locating words using Ctrl+F works in virtually any application that displays text. The next time you’re working in a Microsoft Office app, Adobe PDF reader, or any other application, give Ctrl+F a try and see what happens.

Bonus Tip: When working in a word processing app, use Ctrl+H to locate your word, and replace each searched-for word with another word of your choosing. This is a quick and easy way to make a bunch of edits in one fell swoop.

By making Ctrl+F a regular tool in your keystroke arsenal, you will save yourself a lot of time and easily find the exact word you’re looking for in virtually any program. For more tips on how to get the most out of your technology, subscribe to Total Networks’s blog for one great tip every single week!

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