Technology News from the LIS Helpdesk

What’s new in WordPress

WordPress allows you to design and build a website that meets your unique needs. Start a blog, business site, portfolio, online store, or anything else you can imagine. We explore what’s new in WordPress 5.6.

With built-in optimization and responsive, mobile-ready themes, there’s no limit to who you can reach with your new website. Create a simple website for your family or sell products around the world—it’s up to you.

WordPress is often regarded as the easiest and best website builder if you’re looking to build something that you won’t outgrow in the long run. Most web hosting accounts now include a ‘1-click installer’ which will set up WordPress for you in seconds. Contact the LIS Help Desk to buy your domain name.

What’s new in WordPress: Five awesome new features

Like previous releases, WordPress 5.6 includes several versions of the Block Editor enhancing the editing experience for WordPress users who don’t have the Gutenberg plugin installed and updated on their websites yet.

Not everything is about the Block Editor, though. Several features have been added to WordPress Core, like a new default Twenty Twenty-One theme, auto-updates for major releases, better support for PHP 8.0, Application Passwords for REST API Authentication.

There is so much more in WordPress 5.6. You will see accessibility improvements, UI enhancements, tons of bug fixes and a huge list of changes for developers.

1. New default theme: Twenty Twenty-One

One of the major new features in WordPress 5.6 if the new default theme: Twenty Twenty-One. It looks awesome, plus it’s lightning fast, accessible and SEO-friendly. One of the coolest features is that you can quickly build a complex layout thanks to block patterns. These block patterns were introduced in WordPress 5.5 and this new theme uses them nicely. The theme comes with a couple of patterns, but you can make your own to suit your needs. The Twenty Twenty-One theme was designed by Mel Choyce-Dwan and built by a development team — consisting of several Yoasters — led by Carolina Nymark. You can read about how Twenty Twenty-One came to be.

What’s new in WordPress

Twenty Twenty-One comes with a number of great color palettes, plus support for block patterns

2. Automatic updates

Keeping your site and plugins up to date is a chore — but an essential chore to keep your site safe and secure. It’s one of the reasons why the WordPress team is working hard on making that process a little bit easier by providing automatic updates. Luckily, WordPress can already automatically update minor versions, but with 5.6, it can also update to major versions automatically. This is an opt-in, so you have to activate it yourself in the WordPress Updates screen if you want to make use of this. Remember, automatic updates of major versions has its pros and cons, so think before you activate.

Automatic updates

By turning automatic major updates on, WordPress can always update itself

3. Application passwords

Application passwords offer a new way of providing access to certain parts of your site. You can’t use them to log into your account, but you can use them to help give external sources access to your site without you having to give away your password. You can easily generate access keys and share them with your users. Keys are easy to understand and come in a familiar format like abcd EFGH 1234 ijkl MNOP 6789. Revoking access is just as easy. Simply hit the Revoke button. Keep an eye on this feature as many plugins and platforms will adopt this.

Application passwords

Application Passwords makes managing external authentication easier

4. Loads of Gutenberg updates

We’re big fans of the new block editor, but we know there are still a lot of naysayers out there. Luckily, the Gutenberg team keeps chugging along and put out great release after great release. In WordPress 5.6, you’ll find the results of not one or two Gutenberg updates — but no less than seven releases. Among many things, you’ll find improved support for video positioning in cover blocks, enhancements to the block patterns, better dragging and dropping of blocks, improved keyboard navigation, et cetera. It comes with many performance and accessibility improvements as well.

5. Beta support for PHP 8 in WordPress 5.6

PHP 8 has just been released and it is a huge deal for developers. It’s the latest version of the programming language in which WordPress is written and it brings a whole lot of cool stuff that will help developers use modern code practices and features. As of WordPress 5.6, the CMS is considered beta compatible with PHP 8. Still, there’s a lot of work to do to get WordPress fully compatible with PHP 8 and before developers can use all the new goodies that it brings.

New build or upgrade

Are you happy with your existing website? Is your website out of date? Do you need to upgrade to sell products online? Our clients benefit from working with us as we have a team of designers, programmers and IT support staff. We offer hosting, design and build of websites, email setup and SEO. We also offer training for the person in your team who will be updating your site. They will soon find out what’s new in WordPress and how it will benefit your company.

Work with industry experts for all your online requirements and to find out what’s new in WordPress. Let us take away the headache of dealing with several suppliers. Working closely with you, the client, we’ll provide product features based on actual end-user behaviour and deliver exactly what you require. Delivered on time and within budget. Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your online requirements.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#WordPress #Websites #Hosting #SEO #Marketing

Make video calls better

Whether for work or pleasure, virtual meetings just got a lot more popular. How can you make video calls better?

We can all accept by now, that video calls will continue to be a staple of business communications next year. However, did you know you can considerably improve your calls with just a few little tweaks? There are four key areas to pay attention to. There are four ways to make video calls better in 2021. We will show you what to do and how to do it, in our brand-new video.

The global pandemic has ground much of the world to a halt. Worldwide, likely tens of millions are working from home as part of social distancing. Sitting in front of a webcam for hours is now normal – for both business meetings and sharing a ‘quarantini’ during virtual happy hours.

Now that Zoom, Skype and other services have taken over our daily lives as we know it – including job interviews and dinner parties – many are wondering how to look as good on the internet as they do in person. That means figuring out how to flatter your face on your colleagues’ laptop screens, or the importance of a tidy living room in the background. It’s not just vanity: viewers could “make snap judgments, unfortunately, about you as a person,” says Sunny Lenarduzzi, a Vancouver-based online entrepreneur, former TV reporter and regular YouTuber.

We talked to people whose job largely features talking in front of a webcam all day. Here are their tips to look nice and professional on camera.

Fill your face with light

If you take away nothing else, focus on your lighting. Front-facing natural light is best. It evenly accentuates and brightens your skin and features, giving you a clear, flattering, movie-star-like quality. “It’s amazing for making your eyes pop and making you look really presentable on camera,” says Lenarduzzi.

Set up your computer in front of a window, and importantly, make sure that light is hitting your face straight-on. Because whether you’re snapping a pic for Instagram or dialling in for a video call, having that light come from behind you ends up drowning you out entirely, reducing you to an inscrutable silhouette.

Avoid low angles to make video calls better

It’s one of the cardinal rules in camerawork: keep the camera eye-level or higher. “You want to make sure your computer’s at least a little bit elevated so that you don’t have the double-chin effect [or] the computer’s looking up your nostrils,” says Lenarduzzi. You can easily give your laptop some lift by stacking a bunch of things just lying around. Cookbooks or coffee table books work well, Yara suggests. “Angles make a big difference,” she says.

 

Mind your skin

Make video calls betterIn our webcam-dominated situation, practising good skincare is even more important than usual. The camera can make bad habits “look ten times worse,” says Tang, as the computer screen tends to highlight things like oil on your face. She recommends blotting your face before you go live. Be on the lookout for uneven skin tone or chapped lips, too. (Zoom also has a filter used to even your skin tone.)

The experts recommend applying a tinted moisturiser to your face before booting up your video meeting. (Tinted moisturiser is filled with subtle pigments of makeup that help your skin tone appear even.)

Know what you’ll look like

Preparation is important to make video calls better. You don’t want to join a call using the webcam as a mirror to make any finishing touches to your hair, face or lighting you could’ve done earlier. “Take a phone call using your webcam to prep. The call can be on your phone, but make sure your webcam is on so you can practise seeing yourself and your mannerisms,” Tang says. “It won’t feel so foreign next time when you’re actually doing it for real.”

Pick the right background

Although our homes are inherently less equipped for professional meetings than your office boardroom, there are better places to take a call than others. Zoom isn’t the place to showcase your bookcases performatively filled with literary tomes or your enormous Basquiat print – particularly on a work call. Though tempting, that kind of home décor flexing takes focus away from who should be the star of the show: you. Yara recommends a plain, white background.

The right tech to make video calls better

When you combine all these tips you are better equipped to think about how you are presenting yourself as a person. It’s an important skill, especially when all people will have to go on is your face on a computer screen.

It is important that you remember when you are on a video call you are still representing your company. Contact the LIS Help Desk to find out how we can help you make video calls better. Have a chat with our experienced support technicians about your security as well as software and hardware upgrades. All our clients benefit from our monthly IT support contracts, business broadband and telecoms services.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#VideoCallFatigue #LookLikeAPro #Zoom

Five key IT areas

Five key IT areas you must address in your business’s 2021 growth strategy5 key IT areas guide. As we finally approach the end of – what we can all agree has been a difficult year – it’s likely that the last thing you want to think about is your IT next year. However, being the IT super-fans that we are, we’d suggest that now is the best time to do this. We’re about to begin a new year.

It’s going to be another challenging one. So what greater way to start than with a clear strategy for the months ahead? A solid IT strategy is a critical part of your business growth plans for the year.

Download our new guide to find out the 5 key IT areas you must address in your business.

5 key IT areas you must address

How was 2020 for your business?

It didn’t take long for the optimism of a new decade to wear off. By the end of 2020, companies everywhere were reeling as they reckoned with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the impact of the virus was too much for many firms, leaving millions of workers unemployed and driving thousands of businesses to close their doors. Those companies that stayed afloat had to act quickly in order to enable their remote workforce and maintain operations.

Heading into 2021, there is little precedent for projecting the future. The economy is showing some signs of stability, but there are lingering fears over continued challenges or further surprises. Now is the time to investigate to see how five key IT areas can help your company in 2021.

Making sense of it all

Through all the confusion, though, there are still some basic concepts that will shape the year to come. Digital operations are more important than ever, with many transformative changes accelerating over the past year. Fair treatment for all is an absolute mandate, making diversity, equity and inclusion a top priority. The influence of technology is massive, forcing new approaches to regulatory behaviour. When is the last time you analysed your IT system? Have you locked the secrets behind the five key IT areas?

As the industry emerges from a chaotic year, it will begin a rebuilding phase, but this rebuilding goes beyond restoration. There is little opportunity to return to the old way of doing things. Thanks to changes that no one would have wished for and fuelled by the requirements of a digital society, the technology industry will doubtless take a new shape in the coming year. This isn’t rebuilding to reclaim the past; this is rebuilding for the future.

Book a FREE IT audit to cover the five key IT areas

All our clients benefit from our experience and knowledge. Our team have been working in the industry for over 25 years. We pride ourselves on delivering nothing but the very best customer service and solutions to our customers whatever the situation may be. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your FREE IT audit and discover the secrets of the five key IT areas to help your business. Our services include managed IT services, network support and telecoms.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#FreeGuide #ITStrategy #BusinessGrowth

New aircraft opportunities

New aircraft opportunities amid aerospace industry woes have emerged from Vertical Aerospace. Michael Cervenka traces his interest in engineering back to his grandfather’s influence. “He was an organ builder and had me sorting out screws on his workshop floor when I was 18 months old,” he says.

That interest literally took off. He is now the boss of Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace and has progressed to electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) machines. With the potential to be quiet and economical, these aircraft have been touted as the next big thing in passenger aircraft.

Vertical is working on the VA-1X, an aircraft intended to fly between regions. That regional emphasis matters as eVTOL machines have often been promoted as air taxis, whizzing around our cities under the banner of “urban air mobility” (UAM).

New aircraft opportunities

Michael Cervenka says pilot-free aircraft are a long way off

New aircraft opportunities could mean electric flight for everyone

Some even suggest these vehicles could scoop up passengers and whisk them along pre-arranged flight corridors without a pilot. Vertical dismisses this as a fantasy. “Our aircraft will be heavily automated,” says Mr Cervenka. “But both regulations and the public will require a pilot for years to come.”

An automatic response to an obstruction on a landing pad below will pull VA-1X up and away from a collision. However, people still want to see a highly trained aviator in charge of their flight. Using multiple propellers that point skywards for take-off and then rotate to tilt forward to fly horizontally, the VA-1X aims to carry four passengers and a pilot over short distances more cheaply than a helicopter.

Airlines operate within a framework of strict regulation, so how will this entirely new category of machine pass the scrutiny of international safety bodies? Mr Cervenka says he is working closely with UK and European regulators.

Excellence in engineering

The technology behind VA-1X has been tested at a remote airfield in Wales using a prototype called Seraph. This is a piloted black box surrounded by six arms mounting rotor blades. These new design ideas are helping create new aircraft opportunities that help climate change.

Seraph’s chunky appearance belies its role in proving the systems that should keep VA-1X’s eight electric motors pointing in the right direction. And if a motor fails Seraph can still hover and land.

With a winged design, as opposed to some of the wingless flying car proposals in the eVTOL world, Vertical’s VA-1X gains lift. So, the wings take pressure off its electric power source, which is derived from a car battery. Vertical employs 25 ex-Formula 1 engineers and a battery engineer from Jaguar Land Rover.

The company claims its aircraft will be 30 times quieter than a helicopter. In theory it will make more use of existing heliports where the frequency of landings is restricted by noise regulations.

It spies a market for travel between locations not served by high-speed rail networks and regional airlines. Regional connectivity is the name of this game.

Connecting people with places

“We will offer an ability to connect places that are not well connected today,” says Mr Cervenka, who is eyeing up a London-to-Brighton service, a route notorious for rail delays and traffic jams.

Covid has slashed airline passenger numbers. It is important for the aerospace industry to investigate new aircraft opportunities. So, Mr Cervenka reckons new purchases of large airliners are off the menu. But airlines might use eVTOL flights from a major airport into the centre of a city to attract business or first-class flyers as part of their fare.

The 150mph (240km/h) VA-1X will need a full battery recharge every 100 miles, but a 25-mile short hop from an airport to city centre would allow for a fast recharge and quick turnaround.

Pilot free aircraft

Vertical Aerospace is testing technology on its Seraph aircraft

The legal view about new aircraft opportunities

David Tait, a lawyer studying emerging technologies for the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, says he expects eVTOL craft to gain regulatory approval for certain services. However, he also pours cold water on the wilder promises of flying taxis.

“Consumer on-demand services are a long way away,” he says, citing the air traffic management challenges of putting too many machines into the air above a major city.

Designs such as the octo-engined VA-1X have no single point of failure, unlike a helicopter where the loss of rotor blades or power can be catastrophic.

“Our view is that eVTOL should be at least as safe as existing vehicles,” Mr Tait says. “Our expectation is that these will be quieter, cleaner and safer.”

Approximately 300 eVTOL projects are under way around the globe and Germany’s Lilium is one of the most advanced, attracting engineers from Boeing and Airbus.

New aircraft opportunities are the future of air travel

Its distinctive eVTOL machine has 36 electric engines buried inside slender white wings and tail planes. These are ducted fans, sucking in air and blowing it out in the manner of a jet engine but without mixing it up with fuel. This mass of fans creates a strong current that will push the little five-seater jet to 300km/h (186mph) and give the pilot control over direction.

Remo Gerber, its operational chief, says that despite this radical design Lilium is “following a classic aviation approach”, with safety dictating design features such as the Kevlar shell around the fan blades, ensuring that if a blade flies off it will be contained within the tough material.

A technology demonstrator flew at its base outside Munich in 2019 and the larger production machine is intended to carry four passengers and a pilot like the VA-1X. These light passenger loads reflect the power limitations of electric motors.

Mr Gerber shares the view that UAM has been oversold: “We struggle with UAM. We don’t see the benefits.” He argues that very short distances make no sense for eVTOL. The final section of the trip still will have to be made by road. Lilium is also focussing on the regional transport market.

European ideas

Lilium plans a regional network based around Dusseldorf and Cologne airports in Germany’s densely populated North Rhine-Westphalia area. The idea is to connect smaller cities such as Aachen and Munster to the airports via Lilium aircraft by 2025.

It is also designing eVTOL airports – what it calls “vertiports”. With a relatively small footprint these present an affordable alternative to airports and railway stations. These could link up a region with hundreds of daily flights and multiple high-frequency flights from different locations, and would carry more passengers than rival first-class rail services at equivalent fares.

Vertical say, manufacturing will see components such as the VA-1X’s cockpit displays arriving to be integrated in a final assembly. So, Mr Cervenka’s very early experience putting many parts of a machine together may still pay dividends.

IT support with business development in mind

We are not experts in new aircraft opportunities. Where our clients benefit working with us is future planning. What do we mean by that? We are nearly at the end of the year. What are your plans for 2021? Are you moving office? Are you opening a new branch? Do you need to upgrade your systems? Are your systems secure?

Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our Support Technicians. We will undertake a complete IT audit of your business. Work with you on your future goals and make recommendations to improve your systems. Whether you need IT Support, Telecoms, cloud services or security, we are here to help. We can’t fly planes, but we can help you get to your business destination and achieve your goals.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Aerospace #PassengerAircraft #LooksABitTerminatorToUs

Covid Ready Gadgets

You know we love a gadget!

So here are some new Covid ready gadgets just for you. The world is being reshaped by Covid-19, and that includes the sphere of tech. The annual IFA Berlin tech fair is the biggest platform for new tech releases in Europe. This year it attempted to carry on as close to normal as possible. The exhibition looked a little different to what we are used to.

The 4,000 attendees had to wear masks and social-distancing measures were in place. The class of gadgets on display were also different to usual. Best known in recent years for giant sized TVs and virtual-reality headsets. This year IFA saw exhibits of a new class of pandemic-inspired gadgets. Here are some of the Covid ready gadgets available.

Some of the best Covid ready gadgets from the show

Covid REady Gadgets

Daan Tech’s Bob the mini dishwasher

Dishwashers are reputedly big and ugly. That’s what this small and autonomous dishwasher called Bob attempts to get away from. Designed by France’s Daan Tech, Bob sits on a kitchen worktop. It takes just 20 minutes to run a cycle and comes in one of 24 colours. All great stuff, but where’s the Covid-19 link?

Bob also indulges in UV-C sterilization. Using ultraviolet light to warp the structure of genetic material, effectively killing bacteria and viruses. So, alongside your dirty plates, mugs and  glasses, Bob can also work its magic. Great on disposable masks plus your dirty wallet and keys. It sells for £267 and is now available for pre-order.

Wearable air purifier: The best Covid ready gadgets to keep safe

Electrostatic technology could well be the “disinfectant of the future”. With Covid-19 it was inevitable that we’d see a wearable air purifier at IFA 2020. Designed to be worn around the neck, this Covid ready gadget is one of the best ideas from the show and will protect millions of users.

The improved surface coverage is the result of the electrostatic technology. As the chemical exits the electrostatic sprayer, it is atomized and given a positive charge. The positively charged spray droplets are attracted to and travel toward negatively charged objects, creating a 360-degree wraparound effect on the targeted surface.

However, its three-layer electrostatic filter works to rid the bubble of air around you from bacteria and viruses, alongside pollen and air pollutants. From Japanese company Creative Technology  the air purifier is already sold in Asia.

Covid Ready Gadgets

GoBe Telepresence Robot

Anyone suffering video-call fatigue? Not surprising, given that telepresence has suddenly become a way of life for many of us. However, interacting remotely doesn’t come close to being there in person. The answer is to use a remote-controlled mobile robot. Designed in Denmark to replace travel, GoBe is all about putting someone “in the room”.

At its core it’s a 21.5-inch “face screen” on wheels, with its robot pilot being fed real-time images via a zoomable 4K camera. It also has a wide-angle front camera for a view of an entire room. “During the pandemic, we have seen significant growth in orders,” says Peter Juhl Voldsgaard, CEO of GoBe Robots.  “Telepresence robots have now become a standard technology that everyone can understand. Our technology gives each person a unique experience.” He added.

Neato Robotics’ D10 robot vacuum

So, any improvement to your sourdough bread-making skills? If half the flour you hoarded over lockdown regularly ended up on your kitchen floor, then maybe you should consider the Neato D10 “intelligent robot vacuum”. It promises not just a clean but an ultra-clean. It is important in the world of Covid Ready Gadgets that they make life easier.

Robot vacuums have become one of 2020’s biggest must-have gadgets. They’re lightweight, easy to use, and they require literally zero effort.

Announced at IFA 2020 and claiming to be able to suck up dirt from all types of flooring. The D10 features a True HEPA filter to capture “up to 99.97%” allergens and particles as small as 0.3 microns. The D10 runs for 2.5 hours and is programmed via the MyNeato app.

Fauna Audio’s Memor Havana audio glasses

Are your efforts to work from home productively being hampered by kids or noisy housemates? Then it’s likely you could benefit from some beefy noise-cancelling headphones. If that isn’t a major concern, consider these blue light-blocking glasses with built-in sound.

Fauna’s Memor and Levia models feature standard blue light filter lenses to reduce blue light exposure from computers and phones. Prescription lenses can also be fitted  and MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) micro-speakers. This will not block sound in the manner that earphones and headphones do. As a result,  have one ear listening to audio from your computer, music, virtual meetings and so on. Whilst the other can listen out for the arrival of the courier with your latest Amazon purchase.

Fauna has integrated Bluetooth and microphones for taking hands-free calls. It also works with voice assistants and boasts touch control via two touchpads on the temples. It sells for £178.

Stay ahead with the latest tech

Whilst the world is worrying about Covid Ready Gadgets, have you thought about your IT systems? Our clients benefit from the latest tech, upgrades and support from our Support Technicians. With remote access, regular checks and security, our clients have peace of mind. With everything going on in the world, how great would it be to work with an IT partner that is responsive?

Contact the LIS Help Desk for your FREE IT AUDIT. We will take the time to find your business goals and make sure your systems are set up efficiently. Upgrade to the latest hardware, software and security. This will ensure in a happy and productive team, and happy business owners!

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#CovidGadgets #GadgetPost #TheyKnowWhatWeWant