IT for Donuts is our regular weekly feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.
This week, learn some Microsoft Windows keyboard shortcuts that help you move application windows around the screen. These are particularly helpful if you use more than one screen with your computer.
These shortcuts work in Windows 7 and 8.
If you’re working in a window but want to show another window alongside it, a simple shortcut will ‘tile’ that window to the left or right of your screen.
This means the Window will snap to the left or right of the screen, and resize itself to take up half of the width of your monitor. You can then move another window into the space next to it.
To make your window ‘tile’ in this way, Hold down the Windows key (it’s the key in between Ctrl and Alt on the left side of your keyboard) and tap the left or right arrow keys.
If you have two monitors connected to your computer (like in the image, above), there’s another easy shortcut to move windows between the two monitors.
Hold the Windows and shift keys together, then tap the left or right arrow keys. This will move the window to your left screen or right screen.
Just over a week ago, Apple presented its new smartwatch to the world. This computer-on-your-wrist is Apple's first new type of product since the iPad. It'll be interesting to see if it has the same impact.
Wearable technology has been lauded as 'the next big thing' for a while. For instance, Google Glass went on sale in the UK earlier this year. And in March, a wearable technology show took place in London.
The Apple Watch might be the most mainstream piece of wearable tech yet. But that simply highlights the fact that plenty of strange gadgets have gone before it. Here are five of the most unusual:
Easily the most ridiculous pair of jeans we've ever seen, these trousers double up as a drumkit.
Well, to be precise, they're a set of electronic pads that you can wear under your clothes. When you tap them, they make noises. Prices start from $99 for a basic kit.
Have you ever felt the urge to wear a USB cable on your wrist? Last year, eBay teamed up with the Council of Fashion Designers of America to create bracelets that also work as USB phone chargers.
Practical? Almost certainly. Fashionable? Well, would you wear one?
Just check out how cool Brazilian football star Neymar looks wearing the Panasonic HX-A500 camera. You barely notice it's there:
Actually, this camera can go underwater and shoots at the latest 4K resolution (that's much better quality than your high-definition TV). So while it might not be subtle, it could be useful to extreme-sports fans.
These days, the crowdfunded Oculus Rift is picking up the VR mantle. Watch this space, then...
Hate expressing your feelings honestly? You'll be wanting the Ger Mood Sweater. It uses sensors on your hands to read your 'excitement level', then lights up the collar with colours that are supposed to reflect how you're feeling.
Yeah, whatever. This thing makes wearing even Google Glass seem pretty normal.
From multinational corporations to one-person businesses, it seems everybody’s moving to the cloud.
The numbers certainly confirm this trend: 69% of global data traffic will shift to new-style ‘cloud data centres’ by 2017, according to the Cisco Systems Global Cloud Index.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is at the forefront of the cloud boom. Up to 40% of CRM systems sold in 2013 were cloud-based, according to Gartner. So, if you’re still lagging behind, is it because you’re unsure about some aspects of the cloud?
If so, here are the four biggest myths about cloud CRM systems:
Small and medium-sized businesses often lack the internal resources to implement adequate security measures. However, the same companies are often concerned that the cloud will expose their data to greater threats.
Moving to the cloud does mean putting your faith in a third party. However, cloud providers are able to implement sophisticated firewalls, security protocols and data encryption. It’s unlikely that most smaller companies could protect an in-house system to the same level.
A survey conducted by Maximizer Software in 2013 revealed that 71% of small and medium-sized businesses fear outages and disruptions if they move to the cloud.
In reality, however, a large, dedicated service provider is much less likely to suffer breakdowns than a small, in-house IT department.
It’s not just large corporations that can afford cloud technologies. Operating in the cloud can also cut costs for many small and medium-sized companies.
This is because no expensive infrastructure is required, security is largely handled for you — and costs for IT staff, power and maintenance are reduced.
Many companies fear that moving to the cloud will affect their business for the worse. While it might take a little while to adapt to a new cloud system, over time it can pay dividends.
Improved collaboration, easier data access, convenient offsite working and new ways of tapping into business intelligence can all result from moving to the cloud.
So yes, you have to change some processes. But those changes should be for the better.
Of course, it pays to be cautious before adopting any new technology platform. However, sooner or later the cloud will become a reality for most of us. Why lag behind?
Copyright © 2014, Mike Richardson, managing director for EMEA at Maximizer Software.
Last week’s celebrity hacking news showed just how easy it can be for hackers to gain access to sensitive or personal data.
And you don’t need to be a well-known personality to be targeted by hackers. Many hackers target small businesses, because these companies are less likely to have invested in strong security measures.
Someone hacking or compromising your system could be your worst nightmare. But there are some simple ways to prevent it from happening. Here are some steps you can take to make your system safer.
Two-step verification is a good way to add another layer of protection when staff log in to company systems.
Typically, two-step verification requires your staff to sign in with something they know (a password), plus something they have (often a one-time code that’s texted to their mobile phone or shown on a digital key fob, pictured).
Two-step verification provides significant extra protection, especially if your company uses its systems to store and share sensitive documents.
Most people know they need to use strong passwords. But most people still don’t do it.
Make it company policy to use strong passwords. Mixing uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols makes it much harder for someone to gain unauthorised access.
Sharing usernames and passwords is a big no-no. If everyone uses the same details to sign in to your shared workspace, if something goes wrong then you don’t have an audit trail to a specific user.
It also creates potential risk when an employee leaves the business. They probably won’t do anything malicious, but are you willing to take that risk?
Encryption scrambles data so it can’t be read, even if a hacker gets their hands on it.
Windows 7 and Windows 8 both have encryption tools built in. There are plenty of other encryption tools available too —many are free.
Copyright © 2014 Ian Cowley, managing director at Cartridge Save.
IT for Donuts is our regular weekly feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.
This week, are you forever having to locate wires that have slipped down the back of your desk? This tip might just change your life.
If you work from your laptop, you probably have cables for a mouse, keyboard, monitor and power on your desk.
You might also have charging cables for your smart phone, tablet, and Bluetooth headset. Oh, and don’t forget your network cable.
That’s a lot of wires to keep track of. And if they slip down behind your desk, you can be faced with a nightmare tangle to sort out, just so you can plug in and charge up your phone.
If we’re honest, this tip has been posted on various advice websites before — most notably, Lifehacker. But it’s so simple and handy that it’s worth sharing again.
This picture — from the laptop stand on my own desk — tells the story:
Yes, it’s that simple. Run the cables through the ends of a Bulldog clip or two (you might need to unclip them from the main meta springy bit), then clip them to a solid item on your desk — or to the desk itself.
You’ll never lose a cable behind your desk again.
You can’t have missed last week’s news that hackers gained access to intimate photos belonging to celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence (pictured).
The story has raised important questions about what data individuals store in the cloud. Many of those questions have implications for businesses too.
After all, cloud services play a pivotal role in many companies. They’re used for all kinds of tasks, from backing up data and sharing files to enabling remote working and reducing the need for expensive in-house equipment.
The cloud certainly has significant advantages, and it’s here to stay. There’s a strong argument that overall, the security risks of using the cloud are lower than storing data in your own business.
But with cloud technology still developing, could this breach be the spark that forces cloud providers and their users to confront some key questions?
Although full details of the iCloud breach have yet to emerge, it seems likely the celebrities were victims of some kind of brute force or social engineering scam.
This means hackers used techniques to work out log in details, rather than exploiting a technical breach.
With cloud security, much of the focus is on measures systems like firewalls and backups. However, if all that stands between a hacker and your data is an easy-to-guess password (like ‘password’, ‘123456’, or your company name), that’s how criminals are most likely to access your data.
An interesting piece from Wired argues that we’ll all benefit if some of the affected celebrities try to sue Apple over this case.
I won’t go into all the arguments, but one key point is we often start using cloud services without completely understanding what we’re getting into.
For example, Apple’s iCloud terms of service are over 8,000 words long. When you sign up, you agree to them, almost certainly without having read them.
As we use these services to store and share sensitive information, perhaps providers should make more of an effort to really communicate what they do to protect our data, and what we need to do, too.
If you don’t understand what a cloud service is going to do with your data, do further research before signing up. A local IT supplier might be able to help.
Don’t commit everything to begin with, either. Start by moving non-critical data to the cloud. You can shift more of your business across as you gain confidence.
If you’re an A-lister, you can guarantee you’ll get attention when your cloud services get hacked.
But if you’re an ordinary business just trying to get on with work, are you confident you’ll get a response from your provider when something goes wrong?
Services like Apple’s iCloud and Google Apps are designed to be automated. You can sign up and start using them without having to speak to anyone.
Most of the time, they work flawlessly. But if something goes wrong and you can’t figure it out yourself, it can be hard to find someone to help with the problem.
Look for cloud providers that offer comprehensive support and have a good reputation. Search online for reviews and make sure they’re well established.
Often, a local IT supplier can help you find the most appropriate cloud services as well as providing support and help when you need it.
Blog by John McGarvey, editor of the IT Donut.