Make video calls better

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

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

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

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

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

Fill your face with light

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

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

Avoid low angles to make video calls better

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

 

Mind your skin

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

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

Know what you’ll look like

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

Pick the right background

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

The right tech to make video calls better

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

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

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Digital Transformation

Misconceptions Surrounding Digital Transformation

Most people in the business sector are talking about digital transformation (DX). An example of this is Uber’s quick rise from a mere mobile phone app, putting a longstanding black cab industry at threat.

Because of its simplicity and how effective it is, a lot of businesses are rethinking their models. A lot of the time they are completely restructuring their own IT infrastructure, bettering their processes and redefining their team. They’re doing this to prepare themselves for an economy where everyone is using digital services. As well as thriving off applications instead of physical products.

On the contrary, amongst all of this excitement, there are a lot of myths surrounding this topic. This causes confusion for business owners and their staff. It’s for this reason; the wrong approach is often taken.

Digital Transformation

One aspect of digital transformation is the concept of going paperless

5 myths about digital transformation

People are desperate to see change

Generally, people react in one of three ways to digital transformation. They either pushback, have a sense of fear or try to bid so they can increase their power.

In an interview with CEO world, the management guru Cheryl Crann stated that the ones who limit digital transformation are the employees. The reason being is due to the extra work and aggravation before benefits can be detected.

It’s recommended for a successful migration to a digital-first model; businesses should make the necessary improvements to employee’s workflows and processes. Such modifications should begin with the major stakeholders and then to the rest of the organisation.

Digital transformation is only just for the technology

There’s more to change than just digital. There are other variables such as culture, objectives, processes and more. In today’s digital world, we must shift our attention from the technology to the outcome of the technology.

The best way to do this is to consider what you want to achieve first and then reverse-engineer the systems and processes. It’s not about merely acquiring the newest and most efficient technology. If you’re going to transform, you need to embrace change not just focus on the status quo.

If you fail, it’s classed as bad 

McKinsey and Co estimated that even in the highest tech firms, only a mere 25% succeed. Moreover, if you’re in a field such as manufacturing or energy, it could be as little as 4%. However, you can learn a lot from failure.

Conversely, if the company’s organisational structure is strong, the process should be smooth to absorb and review feedback, come up with improvements and implement them. After that, it’s just a case of repeating the same method and getting an optimised workflow.

In this report, it’s also mentioned that effective and successful projects have a focus on the latest product and service launches in markets not being opened. Again, success only arrives after the amount of transformation comes from hitting a specific limit with multiple business functions and business units.

Everyone is undergoing digital transformation

According to Telstra, around 21% of experienced and senior decision-makers, class their organisations as “digitally mature”. At the same time, those who haven’t started transformation are at 30%.

Telstra believes that this is a great and clear opportunity for businesses to enhance and increase their way they approach digital transformation. Even though there is room to do more for digital transformation, a clear strategy for the company needs to be there for them to follow it effectively.

Digital Transformation is the same rules for everyone 

Depending on your industry, digital transformation can vary a great deal. It can even change between organisations and subunits within a particular organisation. To effectively undergo digital transformation, you need to have a flexible ecosystem. The experience can be optimised and it is achieved within an organisation.

However, problems must be recognised and be solved using digital transformation. After this, you must customise the change and realise that it is not a one size fits all method. Similarly, this is an ongoing process which gets refined as part of the business model. While it evolves through time, it addresses challenges, goals and outcomes.

Ultimately, digital transformation is not a walk in a park, and you can’t predict the results. However, if you’re a business, you can only survive and change or become extinct. You must change alongside the market requirements. However, if there is an option between slow and expensive, or quick and cheap, fewer consumers like the former.

LIS, your IT partner

Lodge Information Services is one of Essex’s longest-standing IT partners. With over 25 years’ experience, we can assist you with IT support, consulting and cloud computing needs. We’re proud to be local, offering remote and on-site support. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your FREE IT Audit.

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#Digital #Business #ITSupport #Technology

How to clean your laptop

Welcome to our guide on how to clean your laptop. Given how our hands are the easiest means of bringing germs and viruses into our homes, and how our tech is touched by us every day, it’s vital that we go about cleaning it properly.

So, we’re going to show you how to clean your laptop. It is important to get rid of debris that’s been residing between your keys since ancient times. As well as sanitizing it so you don’t need to worry about spreading bacteria between your hands, your tech and around your home and office.

Before starting, remember to wash your hands (and dry them, of course!). Now turn off your laptop and unplug it from the mains.

How to clean your laptop

Businessman cleans and disinfects his laptop in the office, using disposable wipes. Credit: Getty Images

Vacuum-clean your laptop

Hoover your laptop

To get rid of dust you should vacuum-clean every part of your laptop apart from the screen using the brush end of the vacuum cleaner. LCD screens are fragile and would be scratched by the brush bristles. They need to be cleaned more gently than the rest of your laptop. We’ll get round to cleaning the screen later.

Make sure you use the vacuum cleaner on a low setting. You’re just picking up dust and small bits of debris here and setting it too powerful may damage your keyboard keys.

As well as the keyboard, make sure to vacuum any speaker holes and vents on your laptop. These can build up a lot of dust that’s been pushed out from inside your laptop over the years. Keeping them clear is vital to your laptop running nice and cool.

Clean your laptop keyboard

Wipe your keyboard

The next step to a clean laptop is a clean keyboard. Now that you’ve vacuumed your keyboard, it should be dust-free and ready for more thorough cleaning. You could start by using some cleaning putty. A sticky, rubberised substance that you roll over your keyboard to pick up stubborn particles and debris stuck between your keys. You should also roll this putty over the speaker holes on your laptop.

Once the putty has worked its magic, lightly dampen (not drench) a microfibre cloth and wipe your laptop keyboard down with it. Apply more pressure to any stains or crusty bits that may be stuck to your keys.

Clean your laptop ports

Clean your laptop ports

Cleaning putty is also great at cleaning your laptop’s ports, which are another hotbed of debris and easily overlooked dirt. Squish the cleaning putty into your laptop’s various ports to pick out the debris from them. Whether or not you used the cleaning putty, you should also get a Q-tip or cotton bud stick. Moisten it in isopropyl alcohol, then stick it into your ports and swab around inside them.

The alcohol-moistened stick will serve the dual role of pulling debris out of the ports and sanitizing them. Don’t worry about moisture in the ports, as isopropyl evaporates almost instantly.

Isopropyl is one of the most widely used solvents for sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces. You don’t necessarily need to use the 99% strength stuff either. 75% isopropyl can be just as effective at killing bacteria. Because the purified water it’s diluted with acts as a catalyst in breaking down microorganism cell wells. It also takes longer to evaporate, increasing the exposure time between it and the microorganism.

Clean your laptop screen

Wipe your screen

The screen is one of the more sensitive parts of your laptop. So slightly different rules apply when it comes to cleaning it. Moisten a microfibre cloth with some isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe the screen in circular or straight-line motions.

Note that if you have a screen with an oleophobic layer (generally touchscreens), then you shouldn’t use isopropyl as this may deteriorate that layer over time. For these kinds of screens, use a mild non-alcoholic screen cleaner instead.

Once the isopropyl has evaporated, give your screen an extra wipe with a screen cleaner like Ecomoist or WHOOSH! Both are alcohol-free screen cleaners designed to get rid of smudges. They also have anti-static qualities that will help the screen repel dust for longer.

Sanitize your laptop

That isopropyl isn’t just for your screen. It’s an all-round surface cleaner that you should now use to wipe down the rest of your laptop. Moisten a microfibre cloth in isopropyl and wipe down your laptop all over – keyboard, speaker holes, vents, ports, you-name-it.

The high alcohol content in the isopropyl will help remove stubborn stains and smears on your laptop’s surface. Rub a little harder on tougher stains and the alcohol should help them come away. The isopropyl will evaporate soon after wiping and once it does you can rest assured that your laptop is clean and germ-free.

It’s a good idea to clean your laptop regularly, particularly in these uncertain times. As an extra precaution during the covid-19 outbreak, you should always wash your hands before sitting down at your laptop. Especially after coming in from the outside world and wipe it down with isopropyl alcohol at least once a week.

Spring clean your IT system

We can help you keep your IT system free from bugs and viruses. Our clients benefit from our anti-virus and anti-spam solutions. Keep your office systems secure and up to date with Office 365 and our Security Package. Are you fed up with your old technology or slow Internet speeds? It may be time for an upgrade.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our knowledgeable support technicians. We are more than your IT partner, consider us your IT doctor!

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Laptop #CleaningTips #GermFree

 

Wi-Fi connection

Does your Wi-Fi connection keep dropping whilst working from home?

There often seems to be no reason behind Wi-Fi connections that randomly drop off or weaken. However, there are actually several common scenarios where an otherwise strong Wi-Fi connection can become unreachable. When that happens, there are a few things you can try to get your Wi-Fi back up and running again in no time.

Harriet Meyer a contributor for forbes.com takes a look at some solutions to dropped or lost Wi-Fi connections.

Insufficient Wi-Fi network range and power

Your wireless access point is going to reach only so far. When you’re accessing the internet on the outer edges of the range limit, you’ll notice the Wi-Fi connection start and stop, probably over and over. Of course, as you move even further away from the router or modem delivering the Wi-Fi, your connection will stop permanently.

You might be suffering from weak Wi-Fi access if your router is buried in a closet. It may be stuck in the corner of your basement, three rooms away, or is simply old or nearly broken. The solution might be as simple as moving closer to the router or moving the router closer to you. As you lessen the distance between the router and your device, you strengthen the odds of a good connection.

If you’re on a wireless device like a phone or tablet, it’s easy to move where the Wi-Fi strength is the strongest. On the other hand, relocating your computer or other gear isn’t always a practical solution.

Another option for improving Wi-Fi strength is to consider an antenna upgrade on your access point or on your computer, if possible. Similarly, mesh networks and range extenders are other common solutions to Wi-Fi range problems — but you don’t need both.

Wi-Fi connection

When a wireless device is experiencing an intermittent connection, it can be quite frustrating.
You want to fix it as quickly as possible so you can continue to work.

Wi-Fi connection radio interference

Radio signals from various consumer electronic products around your house can interfere with Wi-Fi network signals. For example, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices. As well as garage door openers and microwaves can each take down a Wi-Fi network connection when they’re powered on.

So, if you notice that your phone stops getting Wi-Fi when you’re right next to the microwave, chances are this is your problem. It’s best to look into what that new device is and how it works since the way it transmits wireless signals might be what’s interfering with other devices in the house.

Reposition your network equipment to improve your Wi-Fi coverage. Another solution, which might be easier, is to turn off those other devices that could be interfering with Wi-Fi. If you’re in the kitchen when Wi-Fi drops, move away from the microwave or avoid using it if you need to also use your phone, laptop, or other device.

The network is overloaded

Your hardware and home might be set up perfectly to accommodate Wi-Fi signals and avoid interference. However, if there are too many devices using the network, the available bandwidth for each device is limited.

When each device lacks enough bandwidth, videos stop playing, websites won’t open, and the device might even eventually disconnect and reconnect from the network, over and over, as it tries to hold on to enough bandwidth to keep using Wi-Fi.

You can test your internet speed to see if you’re getting the speeds you were promised. If the test shows a significantly slower speed than you pay your ISP for, there’s either a problem with your modem or router or you’re using too many devices on your network at once.

Take some of the devices off of the network. If your TV is streaming movies, turn it off. Someone gaming on your network? Ask them to take a break. Multiple people browsing Facebook on their phones? Ask them to disable their Wi-Fi connection to free up some of that bandwidth.

Cloud storage updates could affect your Wi-Fi connection

If someone’s downloading files onto a computer, see if they can use a program that supports bandwidth control. Less bandwidth will be used for that device and more will be available for your Wi-Fi device. In particular, Microsoft OneDrive tends to use all available upload bandwidth when it syncs large files. Temporarily pausing OneDrive could free up immediate bandwidth for other people.

If your network is still slower than you think it should be and Wi-Fi isn’t stable, restart your router. Sometimes, the router’s memory becomes full and needs flushing in order to work properly.

Keeping you connected

There is nothing more infuriating than trying to fix your own Internet and IT problems. Especially I you are not tech savvy. All you want to do is have the problem fixed so you can continue to do your work. Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our support technicians. We will remote into your PC and will be able to diagnose the problem.

Our clients benefit from our monthly IT support and security packages. We can also help you with your telecoms providing you with super-fast broadband, phone lines and mobile services. Think of us as you IT partners.

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#tech #internetdown #troubleshooting #remoteworking

 

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.

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#AzureSpace #Microsoft #SpaceX #Technology