Pointless emails

They’re not just irritating; they have a massive carbon footprint. Above all, more than 64 million pointless emails are sent in Britain every day. Along with clogging up our inboxes they are also damaging the environment.

Stop! Don’t send that pointless email

Don’t offer thanks or send a jokey message. If you do, you will add to your carbon footprint. Be rude, say nothing – and save the planet. An article published by David Molloy, BBC Technology Reporter, explores the effects of pointless emails on the environment.

A new study commissioned by energy company OVO reckons Brits send more than 64m unnecessary emails every day, and that if every adult in the UK sent one fewer “thank you” email a day we would save more than 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – equivalent to 81,152 flights to Madrid or taking 3,334 diesel cars off the road.

These are the sorts of stats beloved of green energy companies trying to get a bit of free publicity. But it’s all true, according to Mike Berners-Lee, a professor in the environment centre at Lancaster University, author of How Bad are Bananas: The Carbon Footprint of Everything, and brother of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the web. True in very general terms anyway: he probably won’t vouch for all those flights.

Pointless emails

Do you really need to send the next email? Inside Facebook’s Lulea data centre in Sweden.
Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Think before you click send

How can one little pointless email destroy the planet, I ask Mike Berners-Lee, who advised OVO on the research. “When you are typing, your computer is using electricity,” he says. “When you press send it goes through the network, and it takes electricity to run the network. And it’s going to end up being stored on the cloud somewhere, and those data centres use a lot of electricity. We don’t think about it because we can’t see the smoke coming out of our computers, but the carbon footprint of IT is huge and growing.”

The electricity I grasp; the cloud is a bit beyond me. “It’s made up of enormous data centres all over the world,” Berners-Lee explains. “They are burning through huge amounts of electricity.” Super-efficient communication and storage is killing us. Every silver lining has a cloud.

In addition, Berners-Lee admits the numbers are “crude estimates”, but says they are a useful way of making a general point. “When we take a small action to cut carbon,” he says, “it’s a message to yourself that you care about the climate emergency.”

Does he blame his brother for all this? He laughs. “Many good things have come out of the web,” … but only if we use it selectively.

Top 10 most pointless emails sent

  1. Thank you
  2. Thanks
  3. Have a good weekend
  4. Received
  5. Appreciated
  6. Have a good evening
  7. Did you get/see this?
  8. Cheers
  9. You too
  10. LOL

How LIS help with email support?

Email support is one of the main channels of customer support for most companies today. The majority of customers say that email support is a preferred way to communicate with clients and suppliers.

Do you have a new member of staff? Has a team member left? We support our clients by setting up new email addresses and removing old email accounts. Fed up with receiving junk mail? Our clients benefit from our anti-spam service. Control who you wish to block and make sure junk mail is a thing of the past. Are you secure? We provide anti-virus solutions that help stop outside attacks.

In conclusion, make sure your email systems are set up efficiently and are kept secure. Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options or to book an IT audit.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Emails #ITSupport #AntiSpam #AntiVirus

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is perfect for video calls. Have you been using Zoom for your video calls? Microsoft Teams is a better business solution and keeps all your activity with your staff in one place. Here’s our round-up of the latest video call features added to Teams.

Joel Khalili from TechRader asks what is Microsoft Teams? How it works, latest features and top alternatives.

8 reasons your business should be using Microsoft Teams

It enables effective communication

One of the key features of Microsoft Teams is its threaded conversations. Microsoft Teams allows group and private messaging with threaded and persistent conversations.

Users are able to create different channels to organise their communications by topic. This real-time chat function allows you to store brainstorming sessions, conference calls, and other meetings into one, easy-to-find place.

  • You can also integrate audio and video chats
  • You can @mention individuals to bring important messages to their attention
  • Group conversations are visible to the whole team to view, like, share and add to
  • Newly added members can easily get up to speed as everything is archived

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams can be used anywhere, anytime, on any device

As a Cloud-based platform, Microsoft Teams is accessed anywhere via the desktop or mobile application and is supported on Windows, Mac, as well as iOS and Android. All you need is a connection to the internet.

Your productivity is increased

If you use traditional email to work on a project, you can often lose crucial information in ever-multiplying email threads. With Microsoft Teams everyone receives the same message at the same time. As a result, people can collaborate and keep the discussion flowing, helping you reach solutions faster. If a new team member joins, they can access prior conversations with instant access to all project-related files.

It’s fully integrated to Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Teams is fully integrated to Microsoft Office 365. This includes Word, Excel, Skype for Business, SharePoint and PowerPoint as well as newer tools such as OneNote, Planner, Power BI, Yammer, and Sway.

Your meetings are synced

Microsoft Teams syncs with your calendar and pulls in all your existing appointments. It suggests times when all the other attendees are free. It gives you the option to choose if the meeting is private or open (particularly useful if you are hosting voluntary training or brainstorming sessions). Once created, attendees can post about the meeting in a separate chat thread, set agendas and upload relevant documents. You can also schedule and join meetings using Skype for Business with HD video, VOIP and additional dial-in audio options.

Work better together

With Microsoft Teams everyone can work on the same document at the same time. You can all view the same Word document; edit the same Excel spreadsheet; collaborate on the same PowerPoint presentation while logging persistent chat around that content. It combines chat, meetings, notes, and attachments allowing teams to seamlessly interact with each other wherever they are. Calendars, files and emails can also be shared. The scalability means it is easy to add new users as your business grows.

Customise your workspace with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams allows you to integrate third-party tools as well as your favourite Microsoft apps. If Twitter updates are just as important to your marketing team as a message from the Director, you can customise your workspace to reflect this.

Faster processes

Microsoft Teams lets you speed through common tasks faster and share files easier with a helpful set of slash commands.

Want to get Microsoft Teams for your business?

Lodge Information Services is an accredited Microsoft Partner and can advise you on Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscriptions. We will find the best solution for your business needs, licence it and install it. Our friendly support technicians are always happy to help. Contact the LIS Help Desk.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL YOUR WORLD

#MicrosoftTeams #NewFeatures #MoreProductiveMeetings

Salesforce upgrade

Salesforce upgrade the Work.com platform

The recent Salesforce upgrade has new tools that help workers stay productive from anywhere while also enabling safer in-person experiences. Salesforce has released a number of upgrades to its Work.com platform in an effort to help organizations grow. This will help businesses while returning to the office safely.

Work.com is already being used by cities and companies around the world. Your team will be safe with technology for employee wellness, shift, management manual contact tracing and more. In fact, Salesforce recently announced Work.com for Vaccines to help orchestrate the “largest vaccination campaign in human history”. Governments and healthcare organizations are still preparing to distribute a Covid-19 vaccine, once found.

TechRadar take a closer look at the best CRM software of 2020: Customer relationship management solutions. TechRadar have also compiled some other articles that will help businesses

Salesforce upgrade

Salesforce announced multiple updates to its Work.com solution this week designed to
help companies adjust to the new normal (Image credit: Salesforce)

Employee Workspace is a central digital hub where employees can access the tools and resources, they need to work remotely including productivity apps like Google Workspace, learning platforms such as myTrailhead, payroll systems and more. The workspace also provides personalized communications, embedded collaboration apps and notifications.

Salesforce’s new Employee Helpdesk uses Einstein AI-powered chatbots to provide employees with quick and easy access to knowledge articles and escalation paths across any department. Employees can even use the helpdesk to ask questions about IT support or HR policies and benefits.

Safer in-person experiences with the Salesforce upgrade

While Twitter and other companies have said that they will allow their employees to work from home indefinitely, other organizations are now preparing to return to the office which is why Salesforce has added new communication apps to Work.com to enable safer in-person experiences for both customers and employees.

Brick and mortar businesses can use the company’s Queue Management software to minimize physical lines by creating virtual queues to protect customers and manage onsite capacity. Using the service, customers can easily reserve their place in line from anywhere and get updated on queue status via SMS to avoid having to wait outside for long periods of time.

Communicating updated hours of operation, new appointment times and safety reminders can be done using Saleforce’s Broadcast Messaging. Organizations can use the service to communicate with their employees and customers. They can use their preferred channels such as text, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Businesses can also use Broadcast Messaging to manage follow-up questions or service requests with automated chatbots and personalized service communications.

Finally, Digital Trust Cards allow local store employees to quickly update websites and apps with safety protocols specific to their location. Such as social distancing guidelines and cleaning policies to help build customer trust and confidence that they will be safe when vising in-person businesses.

EVP and GM of Platform, Trailhead and AppExchange at Salesforce, Sarah Franklin explained in a press release how the company’s latest upgrade to Work.com will help businesses thrive in the new normal, saying:

“The pandemic has accelerated everything, and every company is re-imagining work in the new all-digital world. The  new technology helps employees be productive anywhere. It will create a safe in-person experiences for customers, Work.com is helping companies get back to growth and thrive in the new normal.”

The IT doctor will see you know

With so many choices available for a CRM system, which is the right one for your business? We invest time going down the gym, eating the right food and trying to stay healthy. However, how healthy is you IT system?

Winter is on its way; some people are having their flu jab. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your IT audit. We will make sure you have the right security in place to stay healthy. Upgrade your software to stay efficient and prescribe any other long-term treatment to make sure your business stays fit.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Salesforce #CRM #Business #ITsupport

 

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