BTS Newsletter: WatchGuard Your Data Network

BTS Technologies Newsletter for June 2015



Holiday Reminder: Independence Day

Will your business be closed in observance of Independence Day?
If so, contact BTS Service as soon as possible!
In many cases we can record, activate, and deactivate your greetings for you…

or we can help you do it yourself.
Call BTS Service at (205) 290-8301 or email service@askbts.com today!

Independence Day

BTS Challenge: Find the Logo and We'll Bring Doughnuts to Your Door!

We have hidden a miniature BTS logo somewhere in this newsletter. The first three companies to locate it and send us an email telling us where they found it will get hot, fresh doughnuts delivered to their offices! Email kimr@askbts.com when you find the hidden logo.

Donuts

Technology at a Glance

WatchGuard Your Data Network
--Contributed by David Dick

Telephone Tips

BTS can help!

WatchGuard your data network. BTS has partnered with the finest firewall, routing, and internet traffic cop in the business: WatchGuard. WatchGuard delivers threat identification/ mitigation, traffic trend analysis, policy management, and secure wireless. These "administrative capabilities" show you what is happening and where it is happening on your network with the tools to manage the situation.

"Where is the virus?" "Who got the malware?" "My staff is spending too much time on social media." "I want to stop problems before they crash my office." WatchGuard helps you handle all of these! Call BTS—we will help you put some armor on your network.

WatchGuard

"Have You Tried…?"
--Contributed by Cory Simpson

WatchGuard

Ask a BTS technician how to fix a problem you are having with your Windows computer, and he will likely ask "Have you tried rebooting it?" This may seem like a flippant response, but rebooting a computer can actually solve many problems.

So what's going on here? Why does resetting a device or restarting a program fix so many problems? And why don't geeks try to identify and fix problems rather than use the blunt hammer of "reset it"? Bear in mind that this solution isn't just limited to Windows computers, but applies to all types of computing devices. You'll find the advice "try resetting it" applied to wireless routers, iPads, Android phones, and more. This same advice even applies to software — is Firefox acting slow and consuming a lot of memory? Try closing it and reopening it!

To illustrate why rebooting can fix so many problems, let's take a look at the ultimate software problem a Windows computer can face: Windows halts, showing a "Blue Screen of Death." The blue screen was caused by a low-level error, likely a problem with a hardware driver or a hardware malfunction. Windows reaches a state where it doesn't know how to recover, so it halts, shows a blue screen of death, gathers information about the problem, and automatically restarts the computer for you. This restart fixes the blue screen of death. Windows has gotten better at dealing with errors — for example, if your graphics driver crashes, Windows XP would have frozen. In Windows Vista and newer versions of Windows7/8, the Windows desktop will lose its fancy graphical effects for a few moments before regaining them. Behind the scenes, Windows is restarting the malfunctioning graphics driver. But why doesn't Windows simply fix the problem rather than restarting the driver or the computer itself? Well, because it can't — the code has encountered a problem and stopped working completely, so there's no way for it to continue. By restarting, the code can start from square one and hopefully it won't encounter the same problem again. While certain problems require a complete restart because the operating system or a hardware driver has stopped working, not every problem does. Some problems may be fixable without a restart, though a restart may be the easiest option.

WINDOWS IS SLOW: Let's say Windows is running very slowly. It's possible that a misbehaving program is using 99% CPU and draining the computer's resources. A tech could open Task Manager and look around, hoping to locate the misbehaving process and end it. If an average user encountered this same problem, they could simply reboot their computer to fix it rather than dig through their running processes.

INTERNET IS ACTING UP: In the past, Firefox has been the poster child for memory leaks on average PCs. Over time, Firefox would often consume more and more memory, getting larger and larger and slowing down. Closing Firefox will cause it to relinquish all of its memory. When it starts again, it will start from a clean state without any leaked memory. This doesn't just apply to Firefox, but applies to any software with memory leaks.

WI-FI/NETWORK ISSUES: If you have a problem with your Wi-Fi or Internet connection, the software on your router or modem may have encountered a problem. Resetting the router — just by unplugging it from its power socket and then plugging it back in — is a common solution for connection problems.

In all cases, a restart wipes away the current state of the software. Any code that's stuck in a misbehaving state will be swept away, too. When you restart, the computer or device will bring the system up from scratch, restarting all the software from square one so it will work just as well as it was working before.

In the mobile device world, there are two types of "resets" you can perform. A "soft reset" is simply restarting a device normally — that is, by turning it off and then on again. A "hard reset" is resetting its software state back to its factory default state. When you think about it, both types of resets fix problems for a similar reason. For example, let's say your Windows computer refuses to boot or becomes completely infected with malware. Simply restarting the computer won't fix the problem, as the problem is with the files on the computer's hard drive — it has corrupted files or malware that loads at startup on its hard drive. However, reinstalling Windows (performing a "Refresh or Reset your PC" operation in Windows 8 terms) will wipe away everything on the computer's hard drive, restoring it to its formerly clean state.

This is simpler than looking through the computer's hard drive, trying to identify the exact reason for the problems or trying to ensure you've obliterated every last trace of malware. It's much faster to simply start over from a known good, clean state instead of trying to locate every possible problem and fix it. Ultimately, the answer is that "resetting a computer wipes away the current state of the software, including any problems that have developed, and allows it to start over from square one." It's easier and faster to start from a clean state than identify and fix any problems that may be occurring — in fact, in some cases, it may be impossible to fix problems without beginning from that clean state.


Managing the Sales Staff's Calendar
– Contributed by William Wentowski

Book

Do you actively manage and review your sales staff's calendar? If you do, you don't need to read further; you already know how valuable this is. If you don't read, please read on.

At BTS and at many of our partner VARs across the country, the Sales Management takes two minutes of their day to review a salesperson's calendar for the week. The importance of such a simple little task cannot be overstated. It allows you to know:

  • Where salespeople are and what they are up to
  • That they are staying busy and have a funnel
  • That they maintain a regimen for success through time management.

And all it takes is a couple of minutes to review; ten minutes if you want to discuss it with the salesperson.

New-to-you or inexperienced salespeople need a little bit of handholding at first. They have to know the ins and outs of your products and services, target prospects, and a myriad of things specific to your industry. Keeping up with the where and what of a salesperson's schedule allows you to make sure they are keeping up with relevant training. Maybe they should be attending a webinar or in-house training. You can discuss their recent appointments and make sure that the prospects they are after actually fit your business. Veteran sales staff require less, if any, of this kind of review; but not everyone is an expert at the start!

Reviewing the salespeople's calendar allows you, their manager, to know that they are keeping up activity and generating new prospects and potential revenue streams. If a week is short on appointments, talk with the salesperson and discuss what is going on. Maybe they need more marketing support, training, better territories. It also lets management know if a new salesperson is a poor fit, allowing you to rid your organization of them.

Possibly the most important aspect of the review is time management. If a salesperson does not set aside time in their schedule to do prospect research, make cold calls, review/ask for leads from existing customers, etc. then they will not reach their full sales potential. Many sales people will jump from task to task, or run to return a call rather than do the things they don't want to do, i.e. cold calls. Scheduling time to take care of these tasks means there is accountability for finishing them. It is simple to say "I will do my cold calls later, but I need to take care of this report first," and the calls never happen.

Assigning time to these important activities greatly aids in a salesperson's success. The added layer of checking to make sure a salesperson completes those activities listed on their calendar forces accountability. As we all know, being accountable for putting in the time and effort leads to success, and helping your staff be more accountable leads to greater success for your company.


Computer Tips

Eye Strain

Ten Tips for Reducing Computer Eyestrain

  1. Get a comprehensive eye exam once a year. Don't forget to tell your eye doctor how often you use a computer and the distance betwen your eyes and your screen. If you have issues with focusing or coordination that are improved with corrective lenses, you may want to look into optometric vision therapy.
  2. Use proper lighting. Did you know that when you use a computer, your ambient lighting should be about 50% as bright as that found in a typical office? Eliminate exterior light by closing curtains or blinds, and reduce interior lighting by using fewer or lower-intensity light bulbs or fluorescent tubes. You may also want to turn off overhead fluorescent lights and use floor lamps instead. Here's a test: Look at your monitor and cup your hands over your eyes like a baseball cap. If your eyes immediately feel better, your lightning needs to be adjusted.
  3. Minimize glare and reflections. Cover the windows, install an anti-glare screen on your monitor, and if you can, paint your walls a darker color with a matte finish. If you wear eyeglasses, make sure the lenses have anti-reflective coating.
  4. Upgrade your display. If you have an old tube-style monitor, think about replacing it with a flat-panel liquid crystal display. Look for the screen with the highest resolution possible and choose a display that has a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches. The monitor should be kept clean, as dust can decrease screen sharpness and make your eyes work harder.
  5. Adjust your display settings. Adjust the brightness so it's about the same as the surrounding workstation. Adjust text size and contrast so that you are comfortable, and reduce the color temperature of your display.
  6. Blink frequently. In Huis Clos, Jean-Paul Sartre extolled the relief blinking gives: "Un clin d'oeil, ça s'appelait. Un petit éclair noir, un rideau qui tombe et qui se rélève: la coupure est faite. L'oeil s'humecte, le monde s'anéantit. Vous ne pouvez pas savoir combine c'était rafraîchissant. Quatre mille repos dans une heure." When people are working at a computer, they tend to blink 75% less often than normal, and they often close their eyelids only partially. Make a conscious effort to blink more often, and every 20 minutes, close your eyes very slowly ten times to help keep your eyes hydrated. It may also help to use a humidifier in your office.
  7. Exercise your eyes. Constantly training your eyes on your screen causes focus fatigue. Try to look away from your computer at least every 20 minutes and gaze at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Or, look at a distant object for 10-15 seconds, then at something up close for 10-15 seconds, and repeat ten times.
  8. Take frequent breaks. Don't limit yourself to two 15-minute breaks from your computer each day; try adding four additional five-minute mini-breaks throughout the day. Stand up, move around, stretch, and talk to people during your breaks. At the very least, do something for a few minutes that doesn't involve looking at your screen.
  9. Modify your workstation. Ideally, your computer screen should be 20-24 inches from your eyes, and it should be positioned directly in front of your face, not off to the side. Additionally, the center of your screen should be about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes. If you need to refer often to written pages, put them on a copy stand next to your monitor, and light the stand properly. Look into ergonomic furniture, and always use good posture.
  10. Consider BTS computer eyewear.Contact lens wearers tend to experience more problems working at computers than those who don't need corrective lenses or wear glasses. You can even have your eyeglass prescription modified to create customized computer glasses designed specifically for looking at computer screens.

End User Training Opportunities

End User Training Opportunities

Upcoming Webinars and Onsite Training

At BTS, we know that any technology is only as good as your ability to use it. To this end, we offer both web-based and onsite training on many different topics to help our customers get the most out of their technology investments. Whether you need to familiarize a new employee with your phone system, would like a quick refresher class for current employees, or need pointers on a specific topic, BTS is happy to help. Please email kimr@askbts.com to discuss or to schedule a training session specifically tailored to your needs.

Please note that training is always free of charge to our contract customers!


You Need to Know!

Kim Reynolds

BTS Employee Spotlight: Kim Reynolds

Kim has been with BTS since 2007, starting out as Systems Trainer/Project Manager and later moving into Customer Relationship Management. Kim has experience training on the NEC, ShoreTel, Total Voice, and Zultys phone and voice mail systems, and if you call BTS, she is almost always the person who will help you. Kim studied English, Spanish, and French at Birmingham-Southern College and has a graduate degree in Romance Languages from the University of Alabama. She enjoys reading, writing, embroidering, and watching horror movies. Kim lives in Irondale with her husband, Scott, her 17-year old daughter Sarah Kirstin, and their three needy dogs: dachshund Duke, Golden Retriever Gretta, and dachshund-miniature pinscher-chupacabra mix Khloe.

Job Opportunities

Job Opportunities

At BTS we are always interested in talking to industrious, enthusiastic people with a passion for the technology industry. If you think you might be a good fit for our excellent team, please feel free to send your resume to hr@askbts.com.

If there is a job opportunity at your organization that you would like us to advertise in our newsletter, please let us know!



Make Me Smile!

Make Me Smile!
Make Me Smile!
Make Me Smile!
Make Me Smile!

What Do You Think?

If you have any questions or comments, or if there is anything you would like to see in our newsletters, please don't hesitate to contact us! Please call or email Kim Reynolds at 205-290-8430 or kimr@askbts.com.


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