Blog Posts from the Helpdesk

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

SpaceX teams with Microsoft

SpaceX teams with Microsoft for Space Development Agency

A digital environment will allow the user to visualize an entire satellite architecture, test satellite designs and artificial intelligence algorithms. It was announced earlier this month that SpaceX won a $149 million contract from the Defense Department’s Space Development Agency to build four satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles. SpaceX teams with Microsoft Azure’s as they were interested in the orbital emulator.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief of operating officer, revealed in a pre-recorded interview released Oct. 20 that Microsoft is a subcontractor working on the SDA program with SpaceX.

Shotwell in the video spoke with Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure Global, about a new agreement to use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband to connect Azure cloud computing data centres deployed around the world. Keane also asked Shotwell to discuss the companies’ other partnership for the SDA contract.

SpaceX teams with Microsoft

Microsoft teams up with SpaceX to launch Azure Space to bring cloud computing into the final frontier.

The new space race

“We were pleased that Microsoft was on our team,” said Shotwell. “We will be delivering to the government a number of satellites that host a capability to protect against ballistic weapons. Microsoft will be doing quite a bit of work as a subcontractor which I think was kind of a funny twist to the relationship here.” Shotwell did not discuss what specific role Microsoft will play in the SDA program. SpaceX is vertically integrated and does not work with many subcontractors.

The SDA satellites will be delivered by September 2022. They will have a “wide field of view” overhead persistent infrared sensor capable of detecting and tracking advanced missile threats from low Earth orbit. The spacecraft will have optical crosslinks to pass data to relay satellites.

SpaceX teams with Microsoft forming the dream team

The orbital emulator “conducts massive satellite constellation simulations with software and hardware in the loop,” according to a Microsoft blog post. “This allows satellite developers to evaluate and train AI algorithms and satellite networking before ever launching a single satellite.”

The SDA satellites are being designed to process data on board and re-task themselves autonomously. The Azure emulator tool allows the user to see what the satellite sees, which helps model scenarios and simulate the architecture.

To infinity… and beyond!

Like Buzz Lightyear, we are huge fans of space adventures and new technology. We love helping our existing and new clients achieve their goals and stay ahead of the competition. Managed IT services do not have to cost as much as a space mission. Contact the LIS Help Desk for an IT Audit. We will make sure you avoid viruses and steroids. Stay on the correct flight path and make sure you have a safe landing.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#AzureSpace #Microsoft #SpaceX #Technology

New building frontage

New building frontage complete at LIS office

Lodge Information Services are pleased to announce we have just finished our new building frontage. We commissioned Plan B Garden Design to design and build our new building frontage.

A well-designed and well-maintained landscape strengthens the image of our business and helps our business attract new clients and retain existing clients. The final result guarantees a better and beautiful working environment for our employees and clients. Experienced and skilled landscape professionals understood the importance of landscaping for our business and knew how to improve the building’s aesthetic appeal.

Benefits of a new building frontage

If you have the benefit of an external area that you can control. Then we would highly recommend our clients and suppliers to investigate their outdoor areas and investgate a new building frontage.

Improved productivity

Many studies have shown that office workers are more productive around natural elements. A tranquil outdoor space will help your employees stay healthy and happy. Similarly, if employees are healthy and productive, they will focus on their work and finish it on time.

Eco-friendly landscaping

When you give attention to commercial landscaping and maintenance, it is a sign to your clients and competitors that your company cares for the environment. Commercial landscaping companies will help you improve the natural environment around your company by using native plants and other eco-friendly elements to beautify your office. The completed new building frontage will benefit your employees, clients and make your work a more appealing place.

Increase property values with improved landscaping

Investing in commercial landscaping services can help to improve the market value of your property. Therefore, it will help your business to stand out from competitors that do not see the value in making their outdoor space more attractive. You can experience an increase in revenue if your clients are attracted to your beautiful yard.

Safety and security

A well-maintained new building frontage by a landscape professional is considered to be safe, as well-placed plants and proper lighting help to keep the area safe. If your office’s surrounding has a secure environment, your employees can feel safe and stay comfortable. This will increase productivity and revenue.

Improved business prospects

Good and attractive landscaping design will help bring in new customers. People will be more interested in purchasing your products or services. People will walk by your business and see well-kept pathways, green grass and other aesthetic features. This will make your building more attractive and approachable to them.

With so many benefits achievable through commercial landscapes, it’s essential to work with the best landscape professional who will help your property gain all of these advantages.

Our happy and friendly team

Our team love our new building frontage. The next time you go past our office give us wave and a smile. Watch out for our spot the Santa competition. It’s the Thursday throwback (a blast from the past) take a look at build in 2014 of our office.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#BuildingFrontage #WellBeing #Environment

Museum losing millions

Facebook donates £1 million to help save a museum losing millions

Facebook is donating £1 million to Bletchley Park. The UK centre for Allied code breaking during World War II that now operates as a museum. This museum is losing millions of pounds during the pandemic. Rory Cellen-Jones the BBC’s Technology Correspondent takes closer look into this generous donation.

Leaders of the UK’s cultural sector warned the industry is facing possible devastation. A potential loss of more than 400,000 jobs and up to £74 billion in revenue to the end of 2020. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to new research from Oxford Economics commissioned by Creative Industries Federation. The research suggested museums are losing millions of revenue. As well as, theatres, galleries, will experience twice as much economic fallout from the pandemic as the overall economy. This also includes the industries of music, film, TV, Architecture and publishing.

Donation helps museum losing millions

The Bletchley Park Trust, a registered charity, announced in August that the site was facing a revenue shortfall of £2 million because of falling visitor numbers caused by the coronavirus. Because of the drop-in revenue (95% of annual income), the park announced it was considering 35 redundancies, constituting a third of its workforce. Facebook’s donation will save some of these jobs, but it’s not clear how many.

Museums lose millions

Former Bletchley Park employee, Jean Valentine, handles part of the Turing Bombe — an electromechanical computer
used to crack Nazi Germany’s Enigma code during WWII. Photo by Rui Vieira / PA Images via Getty Images

An ongoing legacy

Facebook said it made the donation in recognition of Bletchley Park’s “ongoing legacy as a birthplace of modern computing.” The park’s code breakers and mathematicians cracked the Enigma codes used by the Nazis. An achievement that some historians say shortened the length of the war by two to four years. They also made key theoretical and engineering breakthroughs. These include the creation of Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital computer. With the help of Alan Turing’s work, the English mathematician who is seen as the father of modern computer science and artificial intelligence. At its height, the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park included some 10,000 employees, with women constituting roughly 75% of the workforce.

Bletchley Park Quote

 “The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefited all of us greatly, including Facebook. We are thrilled to help preserve this spiritual home of modern computing,” said Steve Hatch, Facebook’s vice president of Northern Europe, in a press statement. The UK is Facebook’s biggest engineering hub outside the US, home to more than 3,000 employees, with more than half working in engineering roles.

In a press statement, Bletchley Park CEO Iain Standen said the site was “very grateful to Facebook” for its donation. “With this significant support, the Bletchley Park Trust will be better positioned to operate in the ‘new world’. It will keep its doors open for future generations,” said Standen.

Helping businesses in these troubled times

Museums are losing millions and all of the creative industries are experiencing difficult times. If ignored, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country.

LIS client benefit from support for workers from home. Our team provide remote IT support and make sure your team have the correct access and security to enable them to work as if they were in the office. Contact the LIS Help Desk to find out how we can support your company.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technews #bletchleypark #funding #facebook

Google Assistant Features

Google Assistant is a capable helper but adjusting these options will protect your privacy and put you in control. We have put together a short guide of five Google Assistant features you should turn off right now.

Business Insider take a look how to turn off or limit Google Assistant Features, if you don’t want it listening to you all of the time.

Make life easier with Google Assistant Features

You can use Google Assistant Features to set timers, call friends or restaurants for takeout and so much more. It’s certainly convenient to have Google around to answer quick questions. It will even report on the day’s weather or control your smart home. Still, there are some things you might want to disable on your Google smart speaker or smart display. After all, every feature of Google Assistant won’t be a good fit for everyone.

Whether you’re worried about privacy or just want a more natural conversation experience, here are five things to toggle off to get a simpler and safer Google Assistant experience.

Google Assistant Features

One of Google Assistant’s most powerful features is its ability to act as the hub for your connected smart home of office.

Voice recording settings

Google recently announced changes to its voice recording privacy settings. Unless you opt in, Google won’t save your audio recordings or share them with its human analyzers to improve Google’s algorithms. However, if you opted in or have previously saved audio recordings, you can choose how long Google keeps them or manually delete them.

To adjust these settings, visit your Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. There, you’ll land on the You tab. Select Your Data in the Assistant and scroll down to Audio Recordings. Tap to see options for saving, reviewing and deleting recordings.

Continued conversation

Continued Conversation helps Google listen for follow up questions without you having to say “Hey, Google” a second time. While this is handy, the extra listening can sometimes be less than seamless, especially when you don’t have a follow up question or you’re just asking a question of someone else in the room. Luckily, you can turn off this feature.

To turn off Continued Conversation in the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. In the next screen, navigate to the Assistant tab. There you’ll see several options including Continued Conversation. You’ll be able to toggle off Continued Conversation and see which speakers it will affect.

“Hey Google” sensitivity

If you feel like you’re always waking up your smart speakers accidentally, the “Hey Google” sensitivity may be too high. You can adjust how well your Google Assistant responds to its wake word if it isn’t hearing you well enough or if it mistakes other words for its wake word.

To adjust the sensitivity in the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. In the next screen, navigate to the Assistant tab and you’ll see several options including “Hey Google” sensitivity. There you’ll be able to adjust the sensitivity for each individual speaker in your home. Select the speaker you’d like to adjust and choose from five settings from “least sensitive” to “most sensitive.”

Ask Google

You can ask your Google Assistant for info and help with everyday tasks. Ask it questions and tell it to do things.
It’s always ready to help you get things done.

Camera settings

If you use a Google-enabled smart display like the Nest Hub Max, Lenovo Smart Display or JBL Link View, you may want to keep your camera disabled when you’re not making video calls. Each display does this a little differently. While JBL and Lenovo offer physical shutter options, you don’t get a built-in shutter with Google’s in-house display, the Nest Hub Max.

Instead, there’s a toggle button on the back of the display to disable the camera and microphone. An indicator light beside the camera lens shows the current status. This is a tough one, because you’ll need to remember to switch it on and off each time you use a camera feature. Still, having the option to make sure your camera is off when it needs to be is important.

Activity controls

Like voice recordings, Google saves information on the sites and apps you use with your Google account. If you’re concerned about privacy, adjusting these settings offers some peace of mind.

In the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. Tap the three dots on the top right of your screen and select Google activity controls. There, you’ll see a page with options for controlling which information Google gathers from your online and mobile app activity. You also can turn on auto-delete and choose how often your data is removed.

Whether you adjust one or all of these settings, personalizing your voice assistant can make the entire experience much more pleasant. If you live in a large household, features like Voice Match and Household Contacts can help everyone live in harmony with the same devices.

“Hey LIS”. How can you help me?

Technology is always changing; upgrades need to be managed and don’t forget about security issues. LIS customers benefit from our years if IT knowledge. We managed their IT systems to allow them to concentrate on their business. Consider us like you PC doctor or Virtual IT PA.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options and found out how easy it is to keep your systems up to scratch.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#GoogleAssistant #ITSupport #Upgrades #Security

Upgrade your software

How Excel may have caused loss of 16,000 Covid tests in England? Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software may have led to Public Health England misplacing nearly 16,000 Covid test results. Due to the fact that the software has a million-row limit.

The story published yesterday by the BBC written by Leo Kelion (Technology Desk Editor) investigates what went wrong. This highlights that if you upgrade your software and talk to your IT provider, you will avoid nasty surpises. Are you using out of date operating system and software? Upgrade your software to make sure your business operates more efficiently and stays secure.

The data error led to 15,841 positive tests being left off the official daily figures. In addition, 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers and were not told to self-isolate. PHE was responsible for collating the test results from public and private labs.

Rapid development of the testing programme has meant that much of the work is still done manually. Individual labs send PHE spreadsheets containing their results. However, the system has improved from the early days of the pandemic and it is still far from automated.

Upgrade your software

More than 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers after
15,841 positive tests were left off the daily figures. Photograph: Simon Leigh/Alamy

Excel spreadsheet error caused a huge spike in Covid cases

The weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases has soared in dozens of areas of England. Nearly 16,000 cases were left unreported because of a technical error with an Excel spreadsheet.

Manchester now has the highest rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to 1st October. The equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 223.2 in the previous week.

The problem has led to a delay in efforts by NHS Test and Trace to find the contacts of those who tested positive for the virus, in some cases by around a week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unable to say on Monday morning how many contacts of positive coronavirus cases had been missed.

IT experts ‘surprised’ at PHE use of Excel for Covid-19 data

IT experts have questioned why Public Health England used Excel for a scheme as large as NHS Test and Trace. Once the technical error led to nearly 16,000 cases going unreported. Computing experts and academics said it is “very surprising” that Excel was used for something of this scale and not adequately tested” they said.

“It is very surprising to hear that an enterprise scale system, presumably developed by professional technologists, is expected to run on Excel,” said Adam Leon Smith, fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and chair of BCS’s special interest group in software testing.

“Many large organisations refer disparagingly to Excel-based applications as ‘end-user driven architectures’. They spend lots of time trying to decommission them for reasons relating to security, control and stability”.

“This is mostly because Excel is designed for end-users not complex systems. It has well-known scalability limits. Excel can’t handle unexpected situations in a way that interacting systems will be able to recognise”.

“It sounds like these limitations have manifested in real problems in this case. This is exactly why databases are normally used in enterprise applications”.

“Even if presented with a system that did rely on Excel, one of the first things that should have been identified through a testing process was a limit to the data volume it could process.”

Covid Testing

A sign in Bolton, UK reminds people of the need for testing Credit: Adam Vaughan/Shutterstock

Excel has limitations

Dr Peter Bannister, executive chair for the Institution of Engineering and Technology Healthcare Sector, said limitations of commercial off-the-shelf products such as Excel for medical uses are well-known.

“It’s disappointing to read that a lack of awareness around the limitations of a consumer software product has led to such a negative impact for all those who are relying on the Covid testing programme,” he said.

“It’s widely known within medical device development that the use of commercial off-the-shelf products, such as Excel, requires additional testing to ensure that they are able to meet the stringent requirements of use in a healthcare setting.”

The Excel spreadsheet reached its maximum file size. New names could not be added in an automated process, he advised. The files have now been split into smaller multiple files to prevent the issue happening again.

Consider file size

Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of communications systems from the University of Cambridge, said file size is a “basic consideration”.

“One would think that a software engineer would have considered a worst-case test scenario for any system design – on paper before you even get to writing code – just to make sure it wouldn’t blow up in any way like this,” he explained.

“The limitations of Excel in terms of big data, which is generally a very decent piece of software, are well-known – if you look at how many people are expressing astonishment at this online, you can see that.”

He continued: “There are many big systems in Government (e.g. DVLA’s or HMRC’s) that work at this scale so there’s no excuse.

“Also, a simple sanity check on the data or error checks in the system might have told them when they hit this limit instead of discovering it after the event.

“This sort of thing is standard in sixth form or undergraduate computer science training too.”

Upgrade your software for efficient business

Has your organization been considering an upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 from on premises Office/Exchange? Perhaps you’re holding back because the word, “upgrade” is enough to scare anyone away. Most companies upgrade software when they are forced to. But in the case of Office 365, the benefits you’ll get from upgrading are delightfully easy and without doubt worth the commitment.

Contact the LIS Help Desk about how we can upgrade your software to Office 365. Take advantage of tools like Intelligent Edge, PowerApps and Flow. These tools ensure  your data is tied to the same cloud system. This enables you to access your email addresses without additional setup and configuration, as well as other benefits.

Office 365 Security Package
Our Office 365 Security Package is a bundle of software tools. The package works continuously on Microsoft Office 365 accounts. They provide genuine protection benefits that EVERY business ought to have. We manage EVERYTHING for you. It’s all in our hands, which is exactly how it should be. However, once we upgrade your software, you will have peace of mind to allow you to focus on your business.

Download our Office 365. A Risky Business? booklet to find our more.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Excel #Covid #Office 365 #ITSupportEssex

Driving test website

Driving test website for England and Wales crashes shortly after reopening. DVSA portal had almost 7 million visits in 12 hours when it reopened after several months of suspension.

Driving test website crashes

The BBC reported millions of people were unable to access the site at all or losing their booking part way through the process.

Learner drivers will be unable to book a driving test until Wednesday. Urgent maintenance has started on the website after it crashed at a time of unprecedented demand.

Driving test website

The DVSA said 210,000 driving tests had been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Alamy

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said its driving test booking service had almost 7m visits in 12 hours. It reopened after several months of suspension during the coronavirus lockdown.

It said on Saturday that it had taken the service offline until 8am on Wednesday. Increased demand on the site led to essential maintenance to keep the site running.

Gareth Llewellyn, the DVSA’s chief executive, said: “Coronavirus has severely impacted our business-as-usual operations, including by stopping driving tests in March. Since then DVSA have only been dealing with applications for emergency driving tests for critical workers.

“Following unprecedented demand for the driving test booking system with almost 7m attempts to book a test when it opened, we need to carry out urgent maintenance so people can book tests. DVSA have closed the booking service until Wednesday 26 August and are sorry for any inconvenience.”

When will the driving test website re-open?

The DVSA driving test booking service for England and Wales reopened again at 8am on Friday after being closed since 20 March. The service received 7 million visits by 8pm. This left candidates unable to complete their bookings. Users received an error message when attempting to access the bookings page.

210,000 tests had been cancelled and tens of thousands more were delayed because of Covid-19, said the DVSA. Learners whose tests were cancelled during lockdown were first invited to rebook in July.

Driving tests in Scotland are due to restart from 14 September, but people are not yet able to book a slot.

IT does not have to drive you mad

Don’t let your IT system drive you mad. We are the IT recovery service for when your website crashes and/or you experience computer problems. Contact the LIS Help Desk today and our friendly team will be glad to offer you assistance.

We can fix your problems, suggest upgrades and manage your back up solutions. With a monthly IT contract, the benefits are endless. Can you afford not to work with an efficient, reliable and knowledgeable IT company. We are only one click or a phone call away. With our help you can drive towards your goals without tests getting in the way.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Websites #Internet #ITSupport #Security

Realistic robotic pets

The realistic robotic pets are designed to give seniors some companionship, without all the responsibility of an actual animal. Your elderly parents can comfort, cuddle and care for these lifelike cats and dogs. The realistic robotic pets help the elderly battle with loneliness, dementia and mental wellbeing.

Realistic robotic pets

Thanks to built-in sensor technology, the robotic pet responds to petting and motion much like the cats you know and love.

Realistic robotic pets comfort the elderly

Without a doubt, the hardest thing about getting older is watching the people you love get older, too. Your aging parents or loved ones deserve to spend their remaining years with as much love and warmth as possible, especially if they are battling an illness.

That’s why, over the last few years, pet companions have become so popular, particularly for older adults who are feeling lonely or have dementia. In fact, a 2017 study revealed that the interaction between aging adults and animals — whether real or robotic — can help lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, reduce feelings of loneliness, and improve overall quality of life. Some nursing homes even offer pet therapy for dementia patients to ease any unintended agitation and aggression.

For these very reasons, more than 1,300 Amazon shoppers have left five-star reviews for Ageless Innovation’s Joy for All Companion Pets. Perfect for dog or cat lovers, these plush animals have built-in sensors, “vibra purr” or “bark back” technology, and brushable fur, making them surprisingly realistic. In other words, they look, feel, and sound exactly like the pets that your loved ones grew up with (minus the litter box or backyard clean up). Insert four batteries, and the cats, which come in four different shades to mimic real breeds, can open and close their eyes, lift their paws, and move their head and body. If you pet them in the right spot — like on their belly or back side — they’ll let out a “purr.”

If your loved one is more of a dog person, you can also buy a stuffed golden puppy, accessorized with a red bandana, that will bark if he’s feeling happy, sad, or needy. At only four pounds, the stuffed pup is easy to play with and won’t weigh down even the most fragile frame.

Is it worth the price?

The price of Ageless Innovation’s toy is steeper than other stuffed animals on the market. Glowing reviews prove that these lifelike robotic pets are worth every penny, especially when gifting them to a loved one. “My family recently had to place my mum in a nursing home for long term care. She has dementia and my 88-year-old father could no longer care for her. We worried about the time she would spend there when no one was visiting. Because of this, I got her one of these cats. I am happy to say that this was one of the best purchases I have ever made. It is truly remarkable what this cat can do. It is very lifelike and although my mother knows it isn’t real, she enjoys it nonetheless,” one Amazon shopper wrote.

One reviewer who has a wife with dementia shared a similar sentiment. “My wife of 72 years has been diagnosed with rapid onset moderate dementia. She always wanted a dog. However, I knew that in our situation a real dog would demand more than we would be able to provide. When searching for robotic dogs as a novelty gift, I came across this companion pet and purchased it, if for no other reason than its realistic appearance. She has since spent hours with it every day since. “It has a heart” she says, reacting to the beating mechanism inside. Anything that can bring such joy and happiness is something to be truly grateful for.”

A company with a human touch

Here at LIS we can guarantee you will not have to deal with robots or automated telephone systems. When you contact the LIS Help Desk you get to speak to an experienced and friendly IT Technician. We are able to help with security issues, cloud-based back-up solutions, upgrades, IT support and telecoms. Call today to arrange your IT audit. It is FREE and there are no obligations to buy.

Realistic robotic pets are perfect for older people in need of companionship. As well as anyone who wants a cat but can’t be bothered with litter trays and tins of cat food. So why not work with an IT company than can give you peace of mind. Allowing yourself more time to focus on your business!

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Robotics #Pets #ITSupport #Security

Accessible tech revolution

The Coronavirus has been around for several months and has started an accessible tech revolution. Many people have changed the way they work during the Coronavirus pandemic, but for some disabled people this has brought some specific challenges.

Improvements in accessible technology has seen artificial intelligence software provide real-time, on-screen transcriptions of what someone is saying in video calls, but there are concerns that some video calling platforms and apps are not as accessible as they could be. BBC Click’s Paul Carter find out more.

The accessible tech revolution begins…

Accessible tech revolution

Business are now staying in touch with their teams and clients through video conferencing. How accessible is the technology to the disabled community? An accessible tech revolution is beginning.

What is The Social Model of Disability?

The Coronavirus crisis means that many of us are now working remotely and using videoconferencing platforms and tools. But how do we use them in an accessible way?

Drake Music have been researching and learning about accessibility in video conferencing/ online meetings/ remote music sessions. Here are some of the solutions to assist businesses with the accessible tech revolution.

PACE

A group conversation can move rapidly. This can be inaccessible to some people. In video calls there can also be an overwhelming amount of information to process (audio, visual, chat text etc). Check in with your group as to their requirements.

Some suggestions to support accessible conversations would be:

  • Assign a moderator who checks in on people’s understanding and reiterates key points at regular intervals.
  • Ask participants to speak one at a time.
  • For large groups consider controlling participants’ audio to allow them to chat to everyone, or just the host. (Note: in Zoom there is a ‘raise hand’ function to allow participants to signal that they wish to comment/ask a question.)
  • Use the chat function to record key points, giving each a title to separate key info out from general chat.
  • Record the meeting and share it afterwards to let people listen to important sections again.
  • Offer an option for people to switch off cameras.
  • Offer to record the meeting and send the video and a transcript of the chat to participants after.
  • If you/your participants are new to video-conferencing here is a useful guide to Zoom from Copronet Wales

Audio

A large meeting may be noisy and hard to follow. This will make it more inaccessible. Some suggestions to improve the experience for the end user could be:

  • Ask everyone to mute their mics when not speaking to limit extraneous noise.
  • Consider using an external mic if you are hosting a meeting, to improve sound quality.
  • Use a video conferencing system which supports Subtitles/Captioning – this can be beneficial for everyone and is especially important if you are using screen sharing and participants can’t see you while you are speaking.
    1. Skype – Automatic captions, not always 100% accurate, but helpful. Multi-videos can crash more.
    2. Zoom – Captions can be enabled, but someone has to be assigned to type them.
    3. Google Hangouts – Automatic captions/subtitles, we haven’t tested these yet.
    4. Gotomeeting – Offers transcriptions after the meeting, but possibly not live. Caption info for
    5. Teams – Microsoft’s service offers automatic captions/subtitles. We haven’t tested it yet.
  • For captions, speak clearly, slowly and into the mic. Limit background noise and try to avoid everyone speaking at the same time. Also allow for extra time to transfer captioners into breakout rooms, or to get set up at the start of an event.
  • If you are using slides consider sharing your speaker notes alongside them, so that people can read along if needed.
  • If you share videos, ensure they are captioned.
  • Headphones may be useful

Please note: Automatic captions may work reasonably well for smaller conversations and one-to-one discussions, but that for training, livestreaming or bigger group meetings it is not always the best option.

Sign Language

When hosting a remote meeting which involves sign language there are specific considerations needed in order to ensure it is accessible – e.g. turn-taking, the visibility of the speaker to the interpreter, the tiring nature of watching signing in 2D.

There is an excellent post on The Limping Chicken blog by Jo Wootton which covers this topic in depth and which we recommend reading.

Access to Work support can be used to pay for a captioning service or BSL interpreters if the video-conference is for work and that support is required to allow you to fully participate in meetings.

Stay accessible within your business

We understand the challenging times facing business at present. It is not easy to have some of your team working from home and some in the office. A company must make sure that they supply all the right equipment to all their staff. This will make sure no employee is disadvantaged when doing their job.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your concerns and/or requirements, Our experienced team will be able to advise you on the correct software, hardware and systems to assist your employees. Take advantage of our security and back up solutions. As well as the latest telecoms and video conferencing systems to enable you clients and team to stay in regular contact.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

Twitter accounts hacked

The news broke recently that major US Twitter accounts were hacked in a Bitcoin scam.

The Twitter accounts of notable billionaires were hacked, on Wednesday afternoon. These included Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Tesla founder Elon Musk, rapper Kanye West, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Politicians’ accounts, including Joe Biden and Barack Obama, were also affected soon after. “I am giving back to the community,” the tweets read. “All Bitcoin sent to the address below will be sent back doubled!”. The link to the Bitcoin wallet is consistent throughout all the tweets, suggesting a cryptocurrency scam.

The bulk of the messages have been deleted, though screenshots remain of several affected accounts:

Twitter has acknowledged the problem, but we are still very short on detail. The Biden campaign stated that the platform locked his account immediately after the breach, and removed the tweet. As part of the Twitter’s effort to solve the problem, verified accounts were restricted from tweeting for several periods on Wednesday night. The internet was alive to rumours of the removal of the verification badge.

Twitter accounts hacked

What’s the scam?

Hackers broke into the high-profile Twitter accounts and sent fake tweets offering $2,000 for every $1,000 sent to an anonymous Bitcoin address.

For instance, the message sent from  Elon Musk’s account said, “All bitcoins sent to my address below will be sent back double the amount. If you send $1,000, I will send back $2,000.” Likewise, information spread from Bill Gates’ Twitter handle said: “Everyone is asking me to give back, and now is the time.”

How did they do it?

Whilst there has been no official announcement of the method the hackers used, there are strong and consistent rumours originating from those who should know the truth. It appears that high level administration accounts were compromised, possibly through some form of social engineering, phishing or some say an ex-employee. Doubtless the truth will out. Either way this is a timely remind to lockdown your admin accounts!

Lessons for us from Twitter accounts hacked

There are no free lunches and no easy money. As an investor, you should always doubt information or schemes that offer to you an opportunity to make quick money in a very short period. The financial victims were just greedy. The other victim is the end user who places their trust in a large organization that we should be able to be rely upon to secure our data.

“Hackers had complete access to Twitter. They could post anything from any account. But they chose to seek bitcoins through false promises. People should be more careful. Most crypto giveaways that ask for contributions are scams. We hope this brings awareness, and Twitter users do not fall for these kinds of scams again,” said Arjun Vijay, Co-Founder and COO, Giottus Cryptocurrency Exchange.

Emergency response

Twitter earlier had to take the extraordinary step of stopping many verified accounts marked with blue ticks from tweeting altogether. Password reset requests were also being denied and some other “account functions” disabled. You may be sure that behind closed doors the Twitter investigation with the assistance of the FBI will be exhaustive. The reputational damage from the Twitter accounts hacked can not be over estimated.

Does your business also need an emergency response?

We would strongly urge you to review who has adminstrator rights to your world. Are you immune to this cyber threat? At the end of the day Twitter suffered from poor house keeping by a large corporate.

Protect your business with LIS

With immediate effect, we will add our Office 365 Security package to all our customers, at no cost. Amongst other benefits this gives you a monthly review of all users with administrator access and alert/approval for any changes that may occur. Irrespective of whether the change came about through staff action, hacking or some form of social engineering. We would offer it to Twitter but that horse has bolted 😀.

A strong defence against cyber-crime is essential for your business. Protect your business data and sensitive information as it flows across your organisation. Our solutions enable us to understand where you are vulnerable. We can take proactive steps to help prevent and respond to threats, in order to reduce the potential risk to your business.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to migrate to Office 365 if you don’t already subscribe. Take advantage of our Office 365 Security Package special offer. Make sure your data and email are fully protected.

Our Office 365 Security Package is a bundle of software tools, that includes:

Finally, if you need them our managed anti-virus and anti-spam protection services can be deployed within minutes. LIS provides essential protection for your business, defending you from email viruses, spam and malware.

Do not gamble with your business security – we give you peace of mind!

Digital Trends for 2020

Digital is changing everything. The way your customers behave. The expectations they set. The speed at which they act. We take a look at the latest digital trends for 2020. You just have to look around you in a café, on the train, on the street… life is going mobile. This is just the start of a whole new era.

Winning in the new digital landscape is all about creating and continually optimizing flawless user experiences. That means staying on top of ever-changing trends. There are a ton of useful stats about internet usage here. Even though we knew it was huge, it’s still surprising to see some of the numbers. Trying to engage with your customers online? Then read this article.

Digital Trends for 2020

The rise of digital is one of the biggest revolutions in human history. It’s often easy to overlook how advanced digital technology has become in recent years, especially when the first mobile phones only got released less than 40 years ago in 1984.

Top five digital trends for 2020 and projections on the horizon

Video Marketing is King

Only 20 years ago, the presence of a camcorder was enough to clear a room. Now? Every person with a monile phone has a video camera. The universal shyness about videos is altogether a behaviour of yesteryear. People love videos and businesses are picking up on it.

In fact, 85% of marketers use video marketing for business, helped 72% of brands increase their conversion rates, according to a study by Wyzowl.

How can you harness the power of videos to market your business? People watch videos to get information and learn. Your first step as a small business marketer is to outline what relevant information you can share that will help your target customer. Then you can start creating compelling, informative videos.

Use Schema Mark-ups and Rich Snippets

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should be a core component of your marketing strategy. While trends change from year to year, organic search is consistently one of the top drivers of B2B website traffic.

Keyword research, high-quality content, and on-page SEO form the foundation. From there, the projection for 2020 is cantered on schema mark-ups and rich snippets. Focusing on these expands your potential to grow web traffic, increase brand awareness, and convert new visitors into loyal customers. What are they and how can they bolster your marketing efforts?

  • Schema mark-up is a webpage snippet that’s been optimized into a rich snippet.
  • A rich snippet contains all the pertinent details to an optimized page, including images, pricing, ratings, descriptions, etc.

Share Bite-Sized and Informational Content

Just as it’s powerful to share informative videos with your target audience, the same principle applies to other visual content you create. You don’t need to produce Tolstoy-length articles and blog posts to garner credibility and results. In fact, people often favour short, insightful and digestible information. Perfect example? Infographics are educational, concise, and easy to digest.

The Future is A.I., and it Wants to Chat

Artificial Intelligence isn’t a robot in an action film or a digital nucleus overthrowing humanity: it’s simply a dynamic marketing tool that makes managing a small business more efficient. While it’s not as glamorous (or scary!) as in the movies, it’s much more effective. That’s likely why in 2020, 80% of companies will use A.I. to increase sales, according to Single Grain.

The New Facebook Ad Marketing Trend For 2020

Facebook has encountered peaks and valleys, but the platform is still relevant and even necessary for many marketers. Regardless of privacy concerns and other issues, Facebook still has billions of users, and they like to shop. That’s why 67% of social media marketers rely on Facebook as their primary platform.

While it remains an effective strategy, Facebook marketing will change in 2020. Paid ads are a must. Organic reach on Facebook is perhaps 6% of page likes. But with Facebook ads, you have the potential to reach 2.45 billion active monthly users.

There are several ways to use Facebook ads to market your business in 2020, but one of them reigns supreme: Stories ads. Facebook rolled out its Stories feature in March of 2017, and now 500 million users watch Stories every day.

Instead of spending all your budget on newsfeed ads, allocate part of your funds to Facebook Stories ads. Incorporate video in your Stories ads to inspire viewers to take action.

How are we able to help your business?

We do not have a crystal ball and are unable to predict future digital trends for 2020. However, one thing is for sure, the digital age is not going away. Businesses need to compete and make sure they have the latest technology. This will ensure market presence and hopefully increase sales.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your requirements. Our team will advise you on the most appropriate system for your business. Whether you require, IT equipment and support, software and security, networking or telecoms – we are here to help. Giving you peace of mind to allow you to concentrate on what your good at.

#Digital #Internet #BigNumbers

Virtual Pub Quizzes

Lockdown virtual pub quizzes have surged in popularity. Thanks to technology, family and friends are able to take part in virtual pub quizzes from around the world.

It’s nearly the weekend, why not brush up your general knowledge with a virtual pub quiz?

We are reliant on technology for everything from exercise classes to speaking to loved ones. To help metal wellbeing, it is also been key in keeping one British tradition going – the pub quiz. Fire up your PC or device for House Party, Google Hangouts, Zoom or Messenger and test yourself.

We are all using technology a lot more right now- see how much you really know about it!

https://www.techradar.com/news/join-us-and-play-the-techradar-quiz-on-facebook-and-youtube-today

Virtual Pub Quizzes

Starting to feel like the old grey cells are getting rusty? There are virtual pub quizzes for everyday of the week.

History of the pub quiz

Renowned the world over, the great British pub is not just a place to drink beer, wine, cider or even something a little bit stronger. It is also a unique social centre, very often the focus of community life in villages, towns and cities throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Yet it appears that the great British pub actually started life as a great Italian wine bar, and dates back almost 2,000 years. For more information visit The Great British Pub article published in History Magazine.

An article in The Times 15th December 1990 mentioned “The quiz has been part of pub life for many years. Tetley’s, the Leeds brewery, has run a league for 22 years.” This suggests organised pub quiz leagues since 1968. Tetley are now part of Carlsberg and to be honest it is a tricky to Google as each search term brings up lots of pubs with quiz leagues.

The Times article also mentions “Burns and Porter, Britain’s biggest quiz organisation, runs 600 leagues for 16 breweries, supplying questions for 6,000 teams. After 14 years in the business, the company has just celebrated its two millionth quiz night”. Burns and Porter are much better documented and this is strong evidence that organized pub leagues were around since at least 1976.

Would you like any help to set up you next social or business online idea? Having trouble with your IT systems? Then contact us and we will be glad to help. Happy quizzing!

#YouTubeQuiz #Technology

Technology supports NHS

AUS-based Starship Technologies believe their robots will change food and package deliveries. They offer people a convenient new service that improves everyday life. The technology supports NHS workers who can have supplies delivered by robots using Starship’s mobile app.

Did you know that automated delivery robots are a common sight on the streets of Milton Keynes?
Technolohy supports NHS

Takeaways benefiting from contactless deliveries and make use of technology.

Starship Technologies have completed over 100,000 deliveries and NHS workers can use them for free. This is also available to the general public  and has proved popular with residents that are having to isolate and social distance during the virus.

Henry Harris-Burland, VP of Marketing at Starship Technologies, commented. “We want to make life a little bit easier for people in these stressful times. NHS staff work 80 hour weeks and they don’t have time to go to the local grocery store. So, they use our robots for their shopping and we are honoured that we can be part of that solution.”

He added: “The residents have been reaching out to us online asking us to deliver to their neighbourhood. We are doing everything we can as quickly as possible. We want to expand and offer this service to more people, especially at this really important time.”

Starship Technologies have been operating robots in the Milton Keynes area since 2018. The company have been trialling the use of its robots with Tesco and Co-op to deliver grocery orders to its customers.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-robots-in-milton-keynes-deliver-shopping-to-nhs-workers-11978670

Technology supports NHS

Co-op deliveries in Milton Keynes are now being made each week using the delivery robots.

The Mayor of Milton Keynes, Councillor Sam Crooks, said. “The robots have become an iconic sight in the town. Everyone’s excited at the prospect of them delivering in the town centre. The technology supports NHS staff and for the 180,000 people who work in the centre of Milton Keynes. This new technology can deliver lunch easily and save time during their working day.”

Bleeping Computers!

Can you hear your staff shouting at their computers all day? Don’t let them suffer. We can help. Let’s have a no obligation chat and get your business back on an even keel!

Bleeping Computers! Frustrated with your IT support?

Does your IT support make you feel like this?

#ITexperts #fastercomputers #nosweat

Support Posts from the Helpdesk

LIS Woodham – Planned Outage

Our helpdesk and support office will be closed for essential electrical work on Wednesday 16th September from 6pm to 8pm.  This is to improve reliability of our office supply.  Our email and phone systems will not be available during this time.  No client systems will be affected except offsite backups to our Woodham data centre. These are fully self recovering once the connection is restored.

In the event of an emergency our normal out of hours mobile support will be available to contract customers.  Any non-emergency messages should be submitted by email to support@lisltd.co.uk in the usual way. No email will be lost during this process.

Apologies for any disruption this may cause. Please contact us if you need more information.

 

Phone Lines Down

Currently all lines in to LIS Woodham are down. The fault is due to a failure in the BT exchange presumably due to the heat. Engineers are investigating.

We have routed outbound calls through our fall back circuits but inbound calls have not yet failed over. Engineers are investigating that too!

Please contact the helpdesk by email to support@lisltd.co.uk while we work to resolve the situation. Many apologies for the inconvenience.

Power Failure

Following an earlier power failure at our Woodham office, calls to our helpdesk have been failing. We are now back online and apologise for the interruption to service.

Networking Problem – Resolved

We are receiving reports of network issues affecting some broadband and leased line customers. Engineers are investigating and we will update this notice when we have more information.

Apologies for any disruption.

The issue was related to LINX (the London Internet Exchange), which has now been resolved and would have potentially affected several Internet providers in the UK. We are awaiting a full RFO from them to confirm the cause.