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.

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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

Which printer should you buy?

Which printer should you buy for the office?

Inkjet or laser? Black and white or colour? To find the best printer that will deliver high-quality prints at a pleasingly low cost, read our expert guide about which printer should you buy?

The most important question to consider when buying a new printer is: inkjet or laser? Other key questions include whether you want to scan and copy as well as print? Are happy with just black and white or do you want to print in colour? And do you want wireless printing features, such as Apple AirPrint?

“Computers I can live with, but printers I hate from the bottom of my heart” says Adrian Chiles in his opinion computing column of The Guardian.

Which printer should you buy

Looking for the best printer to suit your needs? The abundance of choice is good – it means no matter what type of printer you need, you’ll be able to find one that’s perfect for you.

Which printer should you buy?

Do you need printouts fast, or is quality more important? What sort of documents will you print the most? Will you print from one computer, or lots of devices? How much do printing costs matter to you?

Printers can generally be split into two main categories, based on the ink technology they use: inkjet or laser.

They’re also referred to in terms of their features – such as wireless printers, or the tasks their best suited to – such as home office printers. Below you can find out the characteristics of the different types of printers to decide which will suit you best.

How much should I spend?

You can buy a new inkjet printer for less than £50 and you don’t need to spend much more to get a good one. For around £150, you’ll get a high-quality all-in-one, colour laser printer.

The more you spend, the more features you’ll get from your printer. But, these days, even an all-in-one printer/scanner with wi-fi and Apple AirPrint could only cost you £40. For more than £100, you’ll get home-office features such as an automatic document feeder, or automatic double-sided printing.

What is an inkjet printer?

Inkjet printers are great all-rounders. They can handle text-heavy documents such as a student’s coursework or minutes from a meeting, but they can also print photos – and do a better job of it than a laser printer. They’re quiet and unobtrusive, and they also take up less desk space than a laser.

However, inkjets are usually more expensive to run than laser printers, costing you more in ink per printed page than you would pay for laser toner. That’s not necessarily the case with a few business-focused inkjet printers, but as a rule of thumb, inkjets cost you less up front, but more in the long term.

  • Pros: Smaller and cheaper than laser printers, can produce good-quality colour prints
  • Cons: More expensive running costs, slower to print black text pages than a laser

What is a laser printer?

Laser printers shine when it comes to printing a lot of black text, and while colour models are more expensive than colour inkjets, they also produce professional-looking business graphics. They’re normally faster than inkjets when it comes to this kind of job and can handle a heavier workload if you’re planning to print a lot of pages every month.

What’s more, while the toner cartridges are expensive, each one prints a lot more pages than an inkjet cartridge, so the actual cost per black-and-white or colour page is usually much less. However, laser printers are usually bulkier and noisier than the equivalent inkjet printer and will take up more space on your desk.

While they can produce good graphs and charts, colour laser printers aren’t much good at printing photos. Stick to an inkjet if you’re likely to print off your holiday snaps.

  • Pros: Fast prints and good-value printing for black-and-white pages
  • Cons: More expensive to buy, bulkier and often noisier than inkjets.

What is an all-in-one printer?

You can buy straightforward inkjet or laser printers, but a device that scans and copies as well won’t cost you a whole lot more. Most have wi-fi connectivity so that you can print from several PCs or laptops, not to mention tablets or smartphones. Some include a fax function, too.

Some all-in-one printers have an automatic document feeder (ADF) on top, which is handy for scanning and copying multi-page reports.

  • Pros: Can scan, photocopy and fax as well as print
  • Cons: Tend to be larger models that take up more space

What is a photo printer?

The term ‘photo printer’ covers a wide range of devices. To some, it’s an A4 all-in-one that’s really good at printing photos. To others, it’s a dedicated compact photo printer that only prints small photos. Or perhaps you want an A3 specialist model with dedicated photo cartridges and high-resolution print heads for lab quality photo prints.

Photo printers usually have memory card slots and a USB connection on the front, so you can plug in your camera’s memory card or connect the camera itself and print away, with or without a PC.

  • Pros: Optimised for photo-sized prints
  • Cons: Can’t guarantee better print quality than a more flexible regular printer

What is an A3 printer?

If you want to print large office documents, posters or photos to hang on your wall, then an A3 printer is the one for you. They cost more money and take up more desk space, but they can print on larger sheets of paper than a standard A4 printer. Some have a strong photographic or design focus.

  • Pros: Ideal if you need to print at poster-size
  • Cons: Take up significant space compared to regular printers

Black-and-white or colour: Which printer should you buy?

Black-and-white inkjets are now pretty much extinct, but you can still save a little money by opting for a ‘mono’ (black-and-white) laser printer. These are cheaper to buy than colour models, and if you’re mostly printing black text on white pages, you’ll also find them nice and cheap to run.

Colour makes your printer much more versatile, however. On the off chance you ever need to print a photo or colour document, a colour printer is worth having.

Should I consider a wireless printer?

Wireless internet, or wi-fi, is an excellent feature to look for in your new printer. It enables you to connect it to the internet without needing a cable. This means you can place your printer where you like in your home.

Once you have connected your wireless printer to the internet, you can access a range of online services, such as the free mobile printing apps offered by the big printer brands – HP, Epson, Canon and Brother.

Other online features to look out for include Apple AirPrint, enabling you to print from Mac, iPhone and iPad devices more easily, and Cloud Print, enabling simpler printing from Google programs and services.

Still undecided?

Technology can be a mine field. Do you buy on price, make and model or recommendation? Which printer should you buy? Let us take the stress away from you. Contact the LIS Help Desk and speak to one of our friendly advisors. We spend time finding out about your business and requirements. We will then recommend the best option to suit your needs. When you speak to a LIS technician, you can be sure to receive, honest impartial advice.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technology #printers #hometech #officetech #ITSupport

Best tech for the home office

It looks like working from home is still going to be big in the future, with many of us staying at home indefinitely. So, we need all the right tech, don’t we? The Financial Times have suggested some of the best tech for the home office.

Best tech for the home office

Transforming your bedroom, living room or spare room into a home office space until further notice?
These are the top best tech for the home office picks worth investing in now

Working from home brings its own set of challenges but having the right tools on hand can help you stay productive. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is setting up a home office with the right tools. However, once you have got everything in place, it’s easier to get your work done.  

Even if you do not have a ton of space or a dedicated room to turn into a home office, you can still have a comfortable and productive work-from-home setup. All you need is a table, chair, and a few key pieces of tech.

Best tech for the home office: The essentials

We have compiled this handy list of the best work-from-home tech to help you increase your productivity. The main tech essentials everyone needs to work remotely are reliable internet and a laptop, but we also recommend getting a monitor, so you have a bigger screen to work from as well as a decent keyboard and mouse. With these gadgets, you will feel much more comfortable working than you would if you had to squint over your small laptop screen all day.

Beyond those main tech gadgets, you may also want to get a few more accessories, so we have added others that are enjoyable to have, including everything from headphones and speakers to webcams and smart lights.

Wireless mouse Wireless mouse

Logitech’s MX Master Wireless Mouse is our top pick for the best computer mouse for good reason. With an ergonomic design that is comfortable to use for hours on end and you can customize the functions of its buttons and the speed of the scroll wheel. It helps limit the amount of wrist and hand fatigue at the end of a day. It’s also wireless, so it’s an excellent mouse to have in your home office

Bluetooth keyboard Bluetooth keyboard

Logitech’s K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard has a compact design and the keys are responsive for typing. It does not have a number pad as this is a no-frills option. It is wireless, too, so for the small home office setup doesn’t look cluttered by a bunch of cables.

Gel wrist rest for your mouse Gel wrist rest

To limit wrist fatigue use Kensington’s ErgoSoft Wrist Rest. It is essentially a small gel-filled wrist pad that you can position exactly where you need it. The sticky underside keeps it from shifting around on the table. Ideal to have the option to angle it or remove it as needed throughout the workday.

A conference speaker phone conference speaker phone

Unless it is a quick call, using headsets or a phone against your ear is not ideal. Terrible sounding speakers on a phone or laptop is also not great. Use the PowerConf Bluetooth Speakerphone from Anker. Designed for group conferences and is portable. Due to the sound quality it produces and that has six microphones, it can pick up voices clearly regardless of where in the room.

A comfy office chair to plant your bottom office chair

Are you dealing with back pain? Long sitting hours in your office chair could be a killer. Why don’t you think about something else?.

It’s entirely too easy to spend a fortune on an office chair. An affordable option is the Space Seating Professional AirGrid.

A mid-back managers chair is upholstered with an AirGrid mesh-back with black eco-leather seat. Features built-in lumbar support, pneumatic seat height adjustment, and 2-to-1 synchro tilt control with adjustable tilt tension.

Advice from the experts

Some of the best tech for the home office you need to work effectively from home is obvious. Powerful laptop: check. Reliable printer: check. Fast broadband: check. But there are other gadgets that, while you can get the job done without them, will make a difference to how effortlessly you breeze through your to-do list.

However, how do you choose the best option to suit your needs? What do you do when your tech stops working? Have you got the right solutions in your office to keep you work effectively and securely? Contact the LIS Help Desk to discus the best options for your business. With 25 years’ experience, we are here to help, advice and listen to our clients. Le us be part of your team and help you run your business.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#WFH #AnywhereOffice #TopTech

Work from anywhere

Technology started allowing us to work from anywhere remotely in the early 2000s. Laptops, VPN and increased Internet bandwidth set this trend in motion, allowing people to connect to corporate networks from home to access email, servers or other systems. Employees depended on this way of working to perform their daily duties.

What it didn’t address at the time was the human element. People’s desire to work on their own terms, anytime, anywhere and on any device. In the early 2000’s technology didn’t readily support this paradigm of “remote work”. Most workers didn’t even know what they were missing in terms of flexibility or convenience.

Work from anywhere, any device and any time

More and more large companies are realizing the benefits about working from home. Why stress your employees out with the expense and commute in to the office. Business Insider explores some of out largest companies working from home.

We’ve put together a brand new guide to show you the most important things to consider with a permanent flexible working arrangement for your people.

Work From Anywhere

The future is now… YOUR desktop, anytime, anywhere, any device! IT does not need to be complicated. Business owners need to concentrate on what they do best, running their business.

Top technical desires

Working 0nline or offline: Back in the late 90’s, for those old enough to remember, Lotus Notes pioneered this concept. Notes had the ability to replicate databases locally between servers and users’ local desktops. Today many technologies do this seamlessly to access emails, files or other corporate systems.

Instant gratification: Today users want access to information immediately and from any device. A mere 15 years ago expectations were very different. Employees had to be logged into a PC at the office to gain access to data. Expectations have taken a monumental shift thanks to new technology. Now smartphones, tablets, broadband, WiFi, and 4/5G all make information accessible at our fingertips.

Advanced communication: Recent advances in infrastructure and hardware have enabled new ways to communicate and collaborate. The use of these new platforms differs based on age, culture and social boundaries. There are so many choices available that employees can communicate via more channels than ever before. Document sharing, enterprise social media, gamification, instant messaging, phone, text, email, video, video or voice chat, screen sharing.

The new normal

Work anywhere you have an internet connection and often where you do not. There are many closed based back up solutions. We would recommend OneDrive.

With the ability to synchronise your OneDrive and your machine, you can now save your documents to a local folder. They will synchronise to the cloud in the background! Start a document at work and save it. The file will fly off gently to the cloud without human intervention. You can then pick up where you left off in a coffee shop or at home, working locally or in your browser. It does not matter which browser either, it works in Edge, IE11, Safari, Chrome or Firefox.

Work anytime

Well you can work anywhere, on any device so it follows that you can also work at any time. Now you may see this as a blessing or a curse. A blessing because you are not tied to your office and the opening times of the building. Which means you can get that report finished no matter where you are or what time it is. However, that is also a curse because you could work all night if you wanted to or even if you do not. Great for night owls!

As we adopt a more mobile workforce and many professions now run their business from a home, the office or even a coffee shop. We would recommend using Office 365 and take advantage of our Office 365 Security Package. It is easy to use and collaboration with clients and colleagues is now much easier.

Review your IT infrastructure. Enable your team to work from anywhere

Moving to Office 365 has huge benefits for productivity and collaboration. Because Office 365 has many security features built in it can be achieved safely. The extensive compliance manager gives controlled access to your data. You can remain in control and as an added benefit you quickly achieve full GDPR compliance. Have you moved to Office 365 yet and has it transformed your working life? Is your IT system set up and ready for your workforce to work from anywhere, any device and any time?

Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our experienced IT technicians. We carry out an IT audit to enable us to what recommend the best hardware and software solutions. Find out how we can make your workplace mor efficient and productive.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

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