Oh Captain, My El Capitan

First it was Mavericks, then it was Yosemite, and now Apple’s latest operating system is finally here, promising Mac users a bunch of new features to make your computing life easier. Much like climbing the real-life El Capitan in California, you will need to prepare yourself for the journey to the new OS. Here’s a quick look at some of the features of El Capitan and how you can use them.

Mac users have another choice on their hands after Apple recently released OS X El Capitan. The company claims the OS will make tasks simpler but you, along with every other Mac user, are probably wondering just what has been done to make that statement a reality. Here is a quick look at some of El Capitan’s features and how you can utilize them.

Two for the view of one

One of El Capitan’s most anticipated new features is Split Views. By utilizing this feature, you can view two applications side-by-side simultaneously. Say you are working on a document but also need to communicate with colleagues via Skype; before, you would have to resize the windows yourself, and configure everything on your own. With Split Views, you can have both apps running next to each other in fullscreen mode, all in just two clicks.

To use Split Views, click and hold down the green button you see in the upper-left corner of any window you’re using. The current window will open in Split Views on the left half of your screen once you release the button. After that happens, thumbnails of non-minimized apps that are compatible with Split View will show up on your screen. All you have to do is click on the one you want to open. That app will then appear on the right side of the screen. From there you can adjust just how much of the screen each app uses.

Swiper, yes swiping

Apple has done its best to improve the Mail application with the release of El Capitan. The improvements aim to give the Mail app on your desktop or laptop the same functionality it has on your iPhone and iPad. The most notable of these changes to Mail is the swiping feature users can now utilize to delete or mark emails in their inbox.

A two-finger swipe to the left on the trackpad over a message header brings up the familiar red trash button, while a two-finger swipe to the right sees the blue button with Mark as Read or Mark as Unread appear.

Mail also has several new features in fullscreen mode, including the ability to create new tabs for emails you are composing. It works pretty much the same as any web browser; any time you hit the Compose button, a tab with a new blank email will open up at the top of the screen. You can switch back and forth between these by clicking each tab.

Make a list, check it twice

The Notes application has also received quite a few upgrades. The most useful of these is the ability to turn any list into a checklist with a click of a button. If you have an unformatted list in a note, highlight it, right-click, and click the checklist button to transform it. You’ll also be able to check each item off your list as you complete it.

Off the menu

Do you enjoy how the dock hides for most of the time and only appears when you scroll over it? Ever wish the menu bar would do the same? If so, there is some more great news for you. All you need to do is go to System Preferences and then to General Settings. Once there, you will see an option to Automatically hide and show the menu bar which, if activated, will see the menu bar disappear unless scrolled over.

No more cursing at your cursor

One of the features El Capitan users are so far enjoying the most is also one of the handiest. You can locate your cursor quicker than ever before by moving your finger back and forth on the trackpad, or simply by shaking your mouse.The pointer increases in size, allowing you to locate it with ease.

What are some of your new favorite features in El Capitan?

Google undergoes an A-Z reshuffle

Google Alphabet - IT Support Los AngelesIt has been difficult to keep track of all the business ventures of Google – if you’re into that sort of thing. So many people cannot imagine their everyday lives without Google’s omnipresent search engine and Chrome. How are those linked with driverless cars, delivering drones and longevity research? Google is undergoing restructuring in an attempt to bring some order into the organizational chaos.

And, voila – Alphabet. This parent company will take under its umbrella all the various interests and ventures of Google, bringing transparency into the structure. It is not expected that Alphabet Inc. will be a consumer brand. It will take over Google as a public trading entity, transforming Google into its subsidiary. Google stocks are going to translate into the same amount of Alphabet stocks.

Let’s have a look at all the fields Alphabet will be taking over. Apart from the loved search engine and the browser, there is the cloud based office suite, Google Drive, Gmail, the Chrome OS, the mobile platform for Android, Project Ara smartphone, the Nexus mobile and free music service. Ok, that’s all understandable, but this is where it gets wild: social network, robotics, Google glasses and life sciences. Talk about versatility.

By trimming the projects that are not compatible with Google’s focus on the Internet, the company leaders plan to increase financial transparency which would have positive results in a number of ways.

For one thing, it is hoped this reorganization will attract investments. Secondly, the visionary and explorative side ventures will gain more independence and proper management, allowing them to get better results.

An added benefit for the Google’s top management is that leading executives have got their own territories. Fewer management experts will be forced to leave in pursuit of a CEO position, and acquisitions will cause less executive drainage.

The diverse, and by many regarded as intriguing, enterprises are going to become more agile and free to take on risks from the safe distance of the other businesses.

Google is an incredibly successful business with a huge presence in the domain of advertising, both web- and mobile-based. However, the news in the recent times has seen a shift in attention to Google’s regular trips into the exciting and controversial, the area where they often aim high only fall low.

Alphabet Inc. is a corporate reshuffle which isn’t expected to affect the products in any way. Consumers can stay cool, as the search engine and Android are not planned to go anywhere.

And if you are interested in who’s going to head these divisions this is the deal. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who cofounded Google at the end of the nineties, are president and CEO of Alphabet, respectively. Sundar Pichai who used to be the vice-president responsible for Android, Chrome and Google apps, takes the position as the CEO of Google.

Lastly, all this moving around is hoped to have a positive influence on Google’s public image, as the web-based side of things loses the tight connection to the unpredictable and sometimes dicey explorations into new technologies.

Cloud storage for law firms

Cloud Computing For Lawyers In LA and OCCloud computing services are developing by the day and are getting more and more inviting for many businesses to use, law firms included. Some examples of useful services are web-based email and software as a service (SaaS). Saas in the form of customer relationship management (CRM) can make it easier for companies to manage the details of their customers and prospects. Cloud storage is a free or inexpensive way of keeping documents in one place and safe from loss due to hardware or software problems.

However, law firms have special issues to consider before signing up for cloud storage. These considerations are specific to their profession and relate to ethical rules which bind attorneys. Risks are also of a technical, physical and contractual nature. Cloud computing and storage are great when the agreements are carefully inspected and thought through.

Why is Cloud Computing So Good?

Let’s start with the money-saving aspect. The services cloud computing offers come at a low cost, because they don’t require in-house maintenance, capacities and infrastructure. With cloud computing, a law company can avoid using applications that would have to be on an in-house server. Moreover, cloud computing is often free or it costs quite little, especially when you consider which costs it avoids.

Documents stored on the Internet are available from any place and any device. Lawyers work round the clock and they need to be able to access information and files quickly, so they appreciate the constant availability of documents.

Purchasing cloud computing services allows the buyer to be flexible. A law company can buy a certain basic package for starters and later upgrade to a bigger storage space or some new features.

A law firm could also get more stability and security for their data if they choose a reputable cloud provider. Cloud companies which have been tried and tested with big clients, invest a lot into advanced security software and highly-skilled staff. Their staff is thoroughly trained and equipped with complex tools for managing permission, unauthorized access and disaster recovery. So, cloud computing could account for a better business continuity at a much lower price than firm-specific applications.

Ethical Rules

Ethical rules that apply to a certain law firm require due consideration. There are variations in these across jurisdictions, so the extent and nature of ethical rules should be researched, even though many principles coincide.

Ethical rules for attorneys commonly include duties of competence and confidentiality. The question here is whether the users of the cloud software will be competent enough to use the services without endangering the security and confidentiality of the data?

Duty to supervise would require a designated attorney to assign tasks to a non-attorney (for example, the cloud provider) and in that way make reasonable efforts to make sure the cloud provider’s practices are in accordance with the attorneys’ obligations.

It almost goes without saying that attorneys are obliged to safeguard the confidentiality of their clients’ information, files and documents. The firm should make sure that the cloud provider warrants a top level of security.

The duty to communicate with the client may require the law firm to inform its clients about firm’s decision to keep the files on a cloud storage or manage them through cloud computing. The law firm may even be obliged to ask for the clients’ consent.

What You Should Do Before Going Cloud

Conducting internal and external due diligence should help you get ready for the switch to cloud computing. These measures mean that, before a law firm transfers their database to cloud, they should ensure no ethical rules prevent them from doing so. Next, it should be checked whether the firm or some of its staff have a confidentiality or data use agreement that doesn’t allow transfer to a third party, in this case cloud providers.

Even without these agreements some documents and files are so delicate and confidential that uploading them on cloud might be a bad idea, or the upload would necessitate additional safety measures.

A law firm considering cloud computing services should also inspect the agreement with the cloud provider. Special attention should be paid to servers – their location, whether they host one or several clients of the cloud provider, the amount of security they guarantee and whether the network can switch to another server in the case of outages, so that continuous data access is ensured. The firm should carefully review disclaimers of liability, confidentiality, intellectual property and security provisions.

Computer Designs Are Not Inclusive of Women

Gender discrimination - IT support LAThe National Science Foundation (NSF) has put more than $300,000 in projects that set out to build a “feminist theory” for human-computer interaction (HCI) in order to make the area of computing more sensitive to gender.

A scientist of Drexel University has put forth a view that the meager number of women in computer sciences is the result of the fact males make computers.

A grant for this project explains that the researcher’s aim is to establish a theory that would influence HCI practices in design, so that more egalitarian designs incorporate the values of all users. She hopes that her feminist HCI theory will bridge the gap that pushes women out of computing fields. She also points out the questionability of current designs when they are evaluated in the feminist theory. Feminist scholars maintain that women are further put off from building a career in computing because there are so few women in that field now. Moreover, the technologies and designs, they argue, are made by men and for them.

This project also looks into “gender and technical identities” and the hypothesis that computer design contributes to the alienation of women.

The project grant adds that the Principal Investigator states that design practices don’t just exclude women, they alienate them. Her approach to this problematics is to draw on learning sciences that haven’t previously been connected – human-computer interaction, gender studies in science and technology and the results of a longitudinal ethnographic study that investigates the technical identity of girls and how that identity informs their career choices.

The goal of the project is to instruct teenage female students to design technologies in line with their identity as females.

The text of the grant continues that this teaching is expected to find out what the girls need and thus provide the informing material for the researcher to outline gender-sensitive computing design that promotes equality in access. By connecting previously unrelated sciences, the project will redefine the problem of unequal representation of men and women in computing and offer better design and evaluation practices in HCI.

Other aspects the project wants to explore is how girls build their identities in relation to gender and technology, what attracts them to careers in technology and how technology items obtain symbolic gender.

It was in 2013 that the project started and studies will continue through 2019. The government, or more precisely, taxpayers have already paid $345,019.

Jennifer Rode, a teacher at Drexel University, is the Principal Investigator of the project. She is also in charge of the “rainbow lab”, directed to fight against gender inequalities and encourage feminine expression in the field of computer sciences.


Cybercriminals Now Have A Bull’s-Eye On Small Business… Is Your Company’s Data At Risk?

In a December 2014 survey by the National Small Business Association, 61% of small businesses reported being victims of a cybercrime within the past 12 months.

The average cost to recover from a cyber-attack skyrocketed from $8,699 per attack in 2013 to $20,752 per attack in 2014. And, of the businesses targeted, 68% said they’d been hacked more than once.

Experts agree, as cybercrooks become ever more sophisticated, the threat to small businesses is going to get worse before it gets better…

So what can you do to beat the bad guys?

Here are three common ploys used by hackers – and how you can fend them off:

Phishing – A really legitimate-looking e-mail urges you to click a link or open a file that triggers a malware installation on your computer.

Best Defense: Don’t let anyone in your company open files or click links in an e-mail unless they’re certain who it came from.

Cracking Your Password – Hackers can run programs 24/7 testing password combinations. The easier your password is to guess, the more likely it is they’ll crack it.

Best Defense: Consider using a password manager that generates and stores tough-to-crack passwords. For extra security, use unique passphrases for financial accounts in case the manager gets hacked.

Drive-By Download – You visit what appears to be an innocent site; yet when you click, your device gets hacked – and you may never know it, until it’s too late.

Best Defense: Make sure your browser is up-to-date, or use one that updates automatically, such as Firefox or Chrome. Internet Explorer users have been found to be most vulnerable to these attacks.

Unfortunately, these three examples are just a small sampling of the dozens of ever more ingenious ways cybercriminals are breaking down the doors and destroying unprepared businesses.

Let us help! Through October 31, call our office and receive a FREE 15-Point Cyber-Security Audit to uncover gaps in your company’s online security.

Our highly trained team of IT pros will come to your office and conduct this comprehensive audit. We’ll then prepare a customized “Report Of Findings” that reveals specific vulnerabilities and a Prioritized Plan Of Attack for getting any problems addressed fast.

To take advantage of this limited-time offer, fill out the form to the right or contact Allison at WAMS directly (714-582-1624, afoelber@wamsinc.com)

This is something to be scared of…

Your Computer Network Is Being Haunted!

(And It’s Worse Than Ghosts And Goblins)

Your small business is under attack. Right now, extremely dangerous and well-funded cybercrime rings are suing sophisticated techniques to hack into thousands of small businesses to steal credit cards, blackmail you to recover data and swindle money directly out of your bank account.

82,000 NEW malware threats are being released every single day and HALF of the cyber-attacks occurring are aimed at small businesses just like yours. You just don’t hear about it because it’s kept quiet for fear of bad PR, lawsuits and sheer embarrassment.

The National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 1 in 5 small businesses have been victims of cybercrime in the last year and this number is growing rapidly as businesses continue to move to cloud computing, mobile devices and store more information online.

Here are 7 critical security measures your business must have in place to have any chance of fending off these criminals:

  1. Train Employees On Security Best Practices. The #1 vulnerability for business networks are the employees using them. If they don’t know how to spot infected e-mails or online scams, they could infect your entire network.
  2. Create An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) And Enforce It! An AUP outlines how employees are permitted to use company-owned PCs, devices, software, Internet access and e-mail. Having this type of policy is critical if your employees are using their own devices to access company email and data.
  3. Require STRONG passwords throughout your company. Passwords should be at least 8 characters and contain lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols and at least one number.
  4. Keep Your Network Up To Date. New vulnerabilities are found almost daily on common software programs you use all the time; therefore it’s critical you patch and update systems frequently.
  5. Have An Excellent Backup. A quality backup can foil even the most aggressive ransomware attacks, where a hacker locks up your files and holds them ransom until you pay up. If your files are backed up, you don’t have to pay to get your data back.
  6. Don’t Allow Employees To Download Unauthorized Software. One of the fastest ways to access your network is by embedding malicious code in seemingly harmless apps.
  7. Don’t Scrimp On A Good Firewall. Your firewall is the frontline defense against hackers, so you need a really good one with monitoring and maintenance done regularly. 

Want Help In Implementing These 7 Essentials?
During the month of October, sign up for a FREE Cybersecurity Audit (a $497 value). To claim your Cybersecurity Audit today, simply fill out the form to the right or contact Allison at WAMS directly (714-582-1624, afoelber@wamsinc.com). This offer is only valid during the month of October 2015.

Halloween Webinar

The Chilling Fears About Cloud Computing & Why It May Not Be As Scary As You Think

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It’s not secure! It’s too new to work right! It’s unsafe! It’s too big of a change! It won’t work! It’s just downright scary!!

We hear plenty of terrifying fears about Cloud Computing all the time, and since it’s the month of Halloween, we’re going to silence all of the blood curdling suspicions that you or your managing partner may have about Cloud Computing in our upcoming webinar to condemn once and for all that Cloud Computing truly is an excellent solution for many law firms (but not all…).

Some of the menacing and hair-raising fears we’ll be addressing are:
• Is the cloud really secure?
• How do I know my data is protected and safe?
• How do I know that no one else can see my data?
• What happens if the cloud provider goes out of business?
• Will I be stuck in a never-ending contract with the cloud provider who will hold my data ransom?
• How will they even support my firm?
• Will I be shelling out tons of cash to go to the cloud?

Join WAMS for this spine-tingling webinar where we will be sure to focus on all of your chilling fears about the Cloud.

When: Thursday, October 29 at 11:00 am PST/2:00 pm EST

Register: Click here to register

Who should attend: Administrators, Office Managers, Managing Partners, Attorneys, IT Directors, and whoever else may be involved in making decisions about IT in the firm

*BONUS: Trick or treat! One lucky attendee of the webinar will be randomly selected to win a surprise treat that will be delivered to your office!

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