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Windows 11 – What you need to know.

It’s official, Microsoft has announced Windows 11. This is the first major upgrade to Windows since Windows 10 was released in 2015, and there are definitely important changes you need to know about before upgrading.

Similar But Different

If you’ve used Windows 10, you will see many features that you are quite familiar with. However, what Windows 11 brings to the table are optimized features that are all-around more useful than they were previously. Rather than building an unrecognizable OS from scratch, Microsoft has improved the product it already had. Here are the five things you should know:

1. The Iconic Start Menu Has Moved

Perhaps the most glaring changes in Windows 11 features is the relocation of the Start Menu, as well as the Task Bar itself. We have all become accustomed to the Start Menu being on the bottom right-hand side of the desktop, but this is no longer true. It now finds its home in the center of the screen, just like macOS and Chrome OS do it. If you find this one step too far, you can always move it back to its legacy placement.

To go along with the relocation of the Start Menu, Live Tiles that used to live in the center of the desktop are gone. In their place are apps and your most recent documents. As in Windows 10, there will be a search field atop the menu, helping you locate any documents, apps, or settings you are looking for.

2. Widgets Have Returned

Widgets are nothing new to Windows, yet they never quite caught on. Microsoft is giving it another shot to see if they’re going to be popular this time. To access them, there will be a button located in the taskbar that reveals them. Alongside these widgets will be features like a calendar, local weather, to-do lists, and more. This is another one of the new Windows 11 features that is a nod to a successful macOS feature.

3. Translucent Windows Have Also Returned

If you remember Aero from the Windows Vista and Windows 7 days, you may be surprised to hear this feature is making a comeback. Translucent windows still allow you to see what was behind a window before you open it. Given how advanced computers have gotten since the Aero days, this should finally be a functional feature.

4. Multiple Windows Are Easier To Use

In the past, using two different monitors on the same system proved to be a bit of a challenge. With unwanted resizing and shuffling of things on your screen always occurring, it was a bit of a mess to use. Microsoft has finally fixed these issues, making the use of multiple monitors much easier and more enjoyable.

5. Highly Demanding System Requirements

While it’s great to learn about all of the Windows 11 features coming, all of it will be useless to you if you’re unable to run the OS in the first place.

In order to run Windows 11, your computer or device will need to have an Intel Core process from 2017 or later, or an AMD Zen 2 processor from 2019 onwards. Not only that but Windows 11 also demands a minimum of 4 GB RAM, along with 64 GB of hard drive space. That is tall order, even today. Even some of the desktop computers Microsoft has out on the market right now will be unable to run Windows 11.

Microsoft explains that these beefy requirements are due to enhancing the security of the OS. While this may indeed be the case, the fact of the matter is that some people will be unable to use Windows 11 on their current hardware.

Conclusion

These are the biggest changes coming to the new version of Windows. If you have been anticipating the upgrade to Windows 11, you have a good idea of what you can look forward to. It’s not a massive overhaul of this legendary OS but there are enough features that make it appealing to upgrade. What’s even better is that it’s free to upgrade to if you already have Windows 10.

As promising as Windows 11 is with its new and updated features, you will want to make sure your device can run it properly so call Tri Tech today to get started on a quote to upgrade your hardware!

Losing Focus with too many Notifications?

With today’s instant notifications and over stimulation, there are days that it can cause you to lose focus on what you were… ding.. oh look, there is a new cute squirrel video!…. oh, sorry what was a typing again? Oh right… losing focus!

While there are times that these notifications can be important, there are also times that they can cause us to be unproductive in our day to day work. When you have a project or a slot of time that you need undivided attention, you can use the Focus Assist in Windows 10 to keep you on track.

This tool will stop all notifications for a specified time, and can be scheduled to repeat regularly or they can be turned on manually when you are sharing your screen with another person during a video meeting. If there are certain contacts that you need to receive notifications from no matter what, you can set them as VIP’s so that they will come through even if you have Focus Assist toggled on.

So, how do we turn on this tool to help us focus? Here’s how:

  • Hit the Windows key on your keyboard
  • Type “Focus Assist”
  • Click Enter

You will be presented with the screen below, and can set all of your parameters to suit your specific needs.

The IT team at TriTech is fully equipped to assist you in managing your IT even in small ways such as turning off notifications. Give us a call today for a network analysis to see how we can make your business more productive today at info@tri-tech.com.

How To Do A General Ledger Year End In Spire

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A Simple way to improve employee productivity.

Nobody would deny the positive impacts of regular exercise and a well-planned fitness plan. However, while the majority of these people are completely convinced that the power of exercise can only impact one’s physical health, we know better. What has come to light in various studies is that fitness and productivity are positively correlated! In simpler terms, the more your legs run, the more your brain runs!

This direct link between one’s physical regimen to their mental firepower is more than enough motivation to get started on your share of fitness. But you’re probably wondering, “What kind of productivity?” Well, we aren’t referring to being able to work for longer hours in one sitting. We’re referring to completing a lot more of your work in a much better quality in the same amount of time. All of this efficiency in exchange for a few hours of exercise!

“But how can, me trying to tone my abs, increase my work productivity?” Glad you asked! Regular exercise (about 5 days every week) sharpens memory! Your brain makes a chemical, namely, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) when you exercise which enhances your brain’s memory circuits. And since these aren’t found artificially and your brain can only make it via exercising, your answer to increase work productivity lies in your willingness to exercise!

There were two woodcutters in a forest; one followed the principle of hardwork and the other followed the principle of wit. The first would toil away without taking any breaks and would still under perform in comparison to the other. This secret was to take breaks and sharpen the blade! When you exercise, your brain cells increase in number and become a lot more active and this improves your concentration, prolongs mental stamina and allows faster learning. 

The idea of creativity increasing because of exercise may sound improbable but think about it. Whenever your flow of thoughts don’t go anywhere, a walk outside freshens your mind and gives you more to think about. It isn’t the air that gets the work done, it’s the exercise!

Since exercising increases your overall alertness, it reduces your stress which may have brought you down mentally. The stress in your brain can affect your entire body which means that your body can affect your brain too. Exercising produces endorphins, which tend to act as painkillers and kill your stress!

 

How Else is Exercise Beneficial?

People usually consider exercising as only a way to keep your body healthy. Exercising usually means lower blood pressure, a healthier heart, and a longer life in general.

Over the past decade, social scientists have quietly amassed compelling evidence suggesting that exercising can also bring about a more immediate benefit: its impact on the way we think. Yet not many really believe that exercising doesn’t solely have physical benefits as aforementioned, but also increases cognitive capacity and positively impacts mental health.


But how does mental health relate to work productivity? Workplaces always require hours and hours of work. It is no surprise that work productivity, hence, decreases by a fraction with every passing hour. But if you’ve followed your fitness regime, then your brain is far more active and alert. This also elevates your mood. This way, you won’t only be willing to work, but your efficiency won’t decrease as quickly.

In fact, an elevated mood is exactly what a workplace needs to build interpersonal connections and foster collaborations more effectively. An employee with a positive attitude and fresh demeanor is always appreciated. However, if you are drained and irritable, then your social connections fall through as well.

In fact, there is evidence suggesting that exercise during regular work hours may boost performance. Take, for example, the results of a Leeds Metropolitan University study, which examined the influence of daytime exercise among office workers with access to a company gym. Many of us would love the convenience of free weights or a yoga studio at the office. But does using these amenities actually make a difference?

Yes, yes it does make a difference! Within the study, researchers had over 200 employees at a variety of companies self-report their performance on a daily basis. They then examined fluctuations within individual employees, comparing their output on days when they exercised to days when they didn’t.

Here’s what they found: On days when employees visited the gym, their experience at work changed. They reported managing their time more effectively, being more productive, and having smoother interactions with their colleagues. Just as important: They went home feeling more satisfied at the end of the day.

Instead of viewing exercise as something we do for ourselves—a personal indulgence that takes us away from our work—it’s time we started considering physical activity as part of the work itself. The alternative, which involves processing information more slowly, forgetting more often, and getting easily frustrated, makes us less effective at our jobs and harder to get along with for our colleagues.

Make Excercise a Part of Your Regimen

Regardless of how you go about incorporating exercise into your routine, re-framing it by making it a part of your regimen and thinking of it as your biggest priority makes it a lot easier to make time for it. Remember, you’re not abandoning work. On the contrary: You’re ensuring that the hours you put in are of value and aren’t inefficient in any way. And after a month of regular exercising, it becomes somewhat hard to suddenly stop without your day feeling a little empty! Get exercising today and measure your level of work productivity!

Are your passwords secure?

When it comes to using computers and the internet we are challenged to create a plethora of user names and passwords to protect our information.  But how do you make up a username and password that will be easy for you to remember but impossible for anyone else to figure out?  Here are some suggestions:

First of all, there are good passwords and bad passwords.  If someone wanted to “crack” your password using computer software they would probably start with lists of common passwords.  For the dedicated “password cracker” there are actually huge lists of common passwords available online.  Also, when you hear on the news that the accounts of the XYZ Company or the ABC Website have been hacked those passwords can end up on websites like this one where other hackers can access them. Here is a list of the most common passwords used today:

1. 123456
2. Password
3. 123456789
4. 12345678
5. 12345
6. 111111
7. 1234567
8. sunshine
9. qwerty
10. iloveyou
11. princess
12. admin
13. welcome
14. 666666
15. abc123
16. football
17. 123123
18. monkey
19. 654321
20. !@#$%^&*
21. charlie
22. aa23456
23. donald
24. password1
25. qwerty123

So what makes for a good password?  Here are some basic suggestions but in the end it will be up to you to come up with something that works for you: 

1. Avoid common names, dates, phone numbers or things easily associated with you.

2. Avoid common words or phrases as they would be the first thing checked by password cracking software.

3. Use a combination of numbers and letters.  For example, substitute numbers for letters and letters for numbers in a word or phrase.

4. Make it something you can remember all by yourself.  Don’t write it down anywhere!

5. Don’t use naturally occurring keyboard sequences (like “qwerty” for example)

6. Try to make it at least 8 – 16 characters long.  Obviously the longer the better.

7. Plan on changing your password often.  Experts suggest changing your passwords at least every 6 months. 

Whether it’s about protecting the money in your bank account or just restricting access to your email, you’ll need to have good usernames and passwords to protect yourself.  Choose wisely.

Is it time to move away from RDP for remote users?

One of the most convenient ways of working remotely is remote desktop access. It is a widely known fact that opening a hole in a firewall in order to get a direct RDP connection is risky as it entails a weak encryption or VPN. Because it is convenient and so much quicker to set up a direct RDP rather than a VPN or a gateway proxy, most users tend to ignore the risks associated with it. Additionally, it is also considerably cheaper.

However, there are numerous disadvantages that accompany the use of direct RDP for remote users and perhaps the most important one is the concern for security. Because RDP makes use of port 3389 which is an open port, the security and safety of the user is at stake. The server can be immediately attacked by hackers through countless attempts of authentication in the hope that at least one of them would work.  It is best to rename your user account from ‘administrator’ to something different, as well as have a strong password and enable auto-lock on your account when there has been three attempts on entering the incorrect password.

The biggest problem concerned with the use of direct RDP is performance. Because of the aforementioned attempts to log into the server by hackers from all around the world, there are thousands of sessions created every minute which require the system to respond to them. Consequently, the main functions you are trying to perform on your server are affected through slower processing and unnecessary lags. There are some steps you can follow to ensure that your slow performance of the system is not because of a brute force attack; one of which is checking the session numbers to see whether they are insanely high or not.

While these can be temporary solutions, they are not always effective and the whole setup will still be a big threat to the safety of the user. Perhaps the best solution is to use a VPN or an RDP gateway proxy. These help secure the connection through the establishment of an encrypted tunnel in the network which prevents middle-man attacks and also helps provide a better network with better performance. A convenient and cheap as direct RDP sounds, it can be a source of a great deal of trouble in the long run and therefore it is advised to always take the safer route in order to avoid easily preventable costly incidents in the future.

Our technicians at TriTech are well informed and can help you get setup in a more secure environment. Send us a quick email to support@tri-tech.comand we’ll help you out right away.

Protecting your small business from fraud

For many small business owners, fraud has become an increasingly important issue, from both a risk management and legal perspective. By failing to take the right steps to secure your business from both internal and external threats, small business owners could be exposing themselves to both financial and legal risk.

Internal Threats

Although it can be hard to imagine, there are plenty of ways that your own employees can commit fraud without you even realizing it. One of the most popular ways is by padding employee expense reports. A lack of receipts accompanying an expense report could be a red flag that costs have been artificially inflated, with employees pocketing the difference between the real costs and the reported costs. As a result, be sure to put into place a way to monitor employee expense reports.

The same logic applies to vendor invoices. Business fraud experts warn that some employees may collude with vendors to submit falsified invoices in the hopes of splitting any profits from paid invoices. And some employees might take this type of fraud a step further by completely making up a “false vendor” and making sure that any vendor payments go to bank accounts that they control.

It is important to set apart your employee’s duties.  As an example, the person responsible for collecting cash, should not also be responsible for reconciling the receipts.  As a business owner, your accounting software should make it easy for you to spot check your accounting processes.  Spire allows you to do this by running a quick report, or by instantly viewing your entire GL at a glance.

External Threats

With the fastest-growing type of external threat being ransomware, it is important to secure your IT infrastructure. In the classic ransomware attack, an email sent to employees at your business will encourage them to open up an attachment or click on a malicious link. Once the link is opened, malware will get installed on the computer and spread to the network and the company will receive a ransom letter demanding that a payment be made or the data will be deleted forever.

Many of the most common fraud threats can be avoided with these steps:

  1. To prevent phishing attacks, employees should be told to check the source of incoming emails to make sure they are legitimate. That’s because many hackers try to “spoof” the name or identity of a legitimate business in order to get people to open their emails.
  2. Make sure all of your computers are up to date with the latest version of the operating software.
  3. Use reliable antivirus products
  4. Make sure all passwords are at least 15 characters using numbers, upper and lower case letters and symbols.
  5. Clear internet temp files on a regular basis.
  6. If you are connecting through an RDP connection, make sure it is through a gateway.

Despite all precautions, nothing is guaranteed.  It is best to be prepared by having automated backup in place so that you can essentially “reboot” your system from data stored in a third-party location.

If you have been an unfortunate victim of fraud, it needs to be reported.  To find out how, please visit the Canadian Office of Consumer Affairs.  For help in recovering your data, the Tri Tech service department can do their best to assist you.