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Blog Posts from the Helpdesk
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…
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.
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
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.
- Skype – Automatic captions, not always 100% accurate, but helpful. Multi-videos can crash more.
- Zoom – Captions can be enabled, but someone has to be assigned to type them.
- Google Hangouts – Automatic captions/subtitles, we haven’t tested these yet.
- Gotomeeting – Offers transcriptions after the meeting, but possibly not live. Caption info for
- 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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.”
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!
#ITexperts #fastercomputers #nosweat
The top email marketing software, tested and reviewed by PC Magazine. Call LIS to help with implementation if you feel tempted!
Office 365 or Office 2019
What’s the difference between Office 365 and Office 2019? Microsoft explains it quite well.
In general, the different ways you can buy the Office suite from Microsoft are what we might politely call confusing. The devil is in the detail. Do you need the online and/or offline access, software and/or services, multiple devices or just office pcs, rights to use older versions for compatibility, additional cloud storage and so on. If you want professional unbiased advice talk to LIS . For immediate support click on the green chat phone icon.
#tech #IT #software #microsoft #office365 #office2019
Hardware security risks happen obviously. But we all trust our phones, tablets, PCs and laptops to be fundamentally secure. Built that way. Right?
Well maybe mainly hardware is secure but some recent news does beg the question as to whether we are right to assume all is well. Perhaps we are reaching the point where we need some mechanism to check and warrant and continually prove that we are secure and not open to unexpected risk. Recently we have had 2 big cases where fears have been raised but there is precious little fact to go on.
The first is the Huawei issue. Essentially, cutting through the technobabble, this boils down to political risk. If the Chinese Government put pressure on the company would they and could they use their power as a supplier to do something we would not want. All this is masked in “are there backdoors” or exploits they could use. These are technical questions but largely irrelevant. The products could be squeaky clean today and tomorrow a new driver update might change all that. So the fundamental question is do we trust the company and can we prove nothing underhand has been done?
The second recent issue is the Intel VISA bug. This is nothing to do with a well know credit card company by the way! The key facts here are that Intel buried a little monitoring and debugging tool into their chips so they could run internal tests. Unfortunately whether by accident or design they left it turned on in production systems. The result is that someone could plug a USB stick into many current PCs servers and laptops and gain access to just about everything. It wouldn’t be simple but it would be possible. Interestingly it is quite a hard problem to fix because, well, it is in the hardware! The only saving grace for this fiasco is that physical access is required to exploit the bug. As far as we know any way!
Can We Trust Manufacturers?
What both these cases have in common is that we live in a very complicated technical world. The average user cannot be expected to even understand the hardware security risks let alone mitigate them. So we have to rely on trust. Trust that we are safe. But trust is built on the premise that someone is checking to make sure that no-one is trying to be naughty. And that someone can put it right if abuse is found.
But is anyone actually looking? Well, Intel have a department whose only job is to deal with this stuff. Not sure they are sufficient protection for us given that the VISA bug slipped out. Huawei offer all the assurances in the world but Mr Trump is not falling for that one (allegedly). A cynic might suggest that this is more to do with trade wars with China than any technical concern!
But surely any manufacturer supplying the military or 5G infrastructure or your phone is just as much of a risk? Do we trust Cisco or any of the other big players? Just because the political risk is this side of the fence does that make it less risky? Just because AMD hasn’t fallen victim yet does that mean a bug isn’t there latent in the hardware.
Is there anything to be done. Well yes, its not actually that complicated to solve hardware security risks but it does require political will, technical knowledge and worldwide agreement. Does that seem likely in these fractured political times? In a word, No! So it’s time to keep your fingers crossed, backup like mad and make sure you encrypt everything that leaves your sight. Right? Ok, but then there’s the Whatsapp bug. Even encryption isn’t perfect!
Might be the right time to find a nice warm sandy beach and dig a head shaped hole and pretend nothing is wrong for a year or two! If that’s you and you need someone to keep an eye on your IT security the do contact LIS. It’s what we do!
This could change the Internet forever… What you need to know about Article 13 (“the meme ban”), the new copyright directive and Article 11 (“the link tax”).
MEPs approved Article 13 in a vote in the European Parliament. This went unnoticed by many camouflaged by the Brexit excitement. However this is no minor issue, it is going to be a sea change for the Internet. Now the vote has been passed, the next step is for the laws of individual European countries to be changed to enact the new rules. Countries are free to interpret it and legislate as they see fit. So the only certainty right now is that there is going to be a lot of heat generated. Small businesses, bloggers and all users of the web are likely to be caught in the fall out one way or the other. You do need to be aware if you publish or link to content online. Who doesn’t?
If your business is going to be affected start planning now and contact LIS to assist.
#copyright #internet #business #brexit #memeban #linktax #article13 #article11
Never waste a car journey! The business podcasts you should be listening to in 2019
#biz #podcasts #business
Building a business that people want to work for
8 lessons on building a business that people enjoy working for: a TED Talk from Patty McCord. She created the culture at Netflix.
Getting the tech right is key whether you are a one man band or a budding world player. Nothing is more frustrating than “the system” stopping you from delivering your vision. Contact LIS to help get the tech right and keep your people happy.
#tedtalks #business #netflix
Coughs and sneezes spread diseases … and so does poor internal cyber security. Find out about how computer viruses work in this handy article, and then talk to us about keeping your systems secure. Our managed antivirus system with a managed firewall, managed antispam and managed DNS keeps you as safe as it is possible to be. Oh and then backup, backup , backup! Contact LIS for more information.
#cybercrime #viruses #computers #IT
Support Posts from the Helpdesk
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.
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.
Apologies for the inconvenience. The issue has now been resolved.
We have been made aware of problems getting through to the helpdesk by phone. We are working on it urgently!
Email or skype while we get it resolved.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
It’s the first of April and past noon….so we can safely post again and be believed!
In March our antispam service peaked at 200,000 blocked email per day. 0 false positives.
Our antivirus service peaked at a heady 0 virus outbreaks (plenty blocked though!).
All systems running normally as we head into uncharted Brexit waters.