As you may have seen in the news, last week the technology world was shaken by the disclosure of two vulnerabilities in modern processors, known as Meltdown and Spectre. These vulnerabilities are unusual, in that they target the CPU directly, which means that the operating system is not the source of the problem. In other words, any server, PC, mobile, or embedded device running an affected processor is vulnerable and will need to be patched.
Though these vulnerabilities are unusual in some ways, Meltdown and Spectre are similar to other vulnerabilities in the ways that they can be exploited. To exploit these vulnerabilities, an attacker must execute malicious code on a vulnerable system, via such means as an email attachment, browser plugin, or document macro. This means that normal digital hygiene practices apply very well to this situation.
To eliminate your exposure to these vulnerabilities, be sure to stay current on security patches for all network connected devices; including servers, PCs, and also network printers, firewalls, etc. Patches have already been released by Microsoft for Windows 10, and by Apple for Mac OS and iOS. Microsoft will be releasing patches very soon for the other supported versions of Windows, and other vendors are already rolling out patches, as well.
In addition to operating system updates, PC and Server hardware manufacturers have released their own patches that cannot be installed via typical operating system update procedures. These updates can be obtained via the manufacturer’s website and installed manually. Some manufacturers have their own automatic update mechanisms. For example, if you have a Dell PC running the Dell Command Update client, then you will automatically receive a notification when a BIOS update is available.
If you have any questions or concerns about your network security, please don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com or call us at 541-342-5531.
Imagine two hardware stores who share a parking lot; one hardware store is bright, welcoming, clean and well-maintained. The other has paint chipping off the building, a flickering ‘open’ sign and barred windows. Which one does the customer choose to enter?
The company website is the modern day store front. Now imagine there are two equally bright and welcoming hardware stores. How does one set itself apart from the other? The one who delivers the best customer experience.
Set your modern day store front apart with these strategies to improve your customer’s experience.
If a customer was in the hardware store checking out and the employee at the register asked them to write down their credit card information and proceeded to carelessly leave that sensitive information on the counter, how would the customer feel? Distrustful, not cared about. When a company website doesn’t have a SSL Certificate, it sends the same message to the customer; the company doesn’t care about securing the customer’s privacy and financial well-being.
In addition to assuring that the customer’s credit card data is secure, SSL certificates create a positive customer experience by preventing extra cookies and ads being injected onto the website.
Mobile is king. As of July 2017, 54% of users access the internet from their smartphones. It is absolutely necessary for a customer to be able to navigate a website effortlessly from their phone.
Let’s go back to our aesthetically equal hardware stores. Both of them are chains. One of them has the same layout in every single location. The customer walks in and knows exactly which aisle to find ceiling tiles without having to think about it. They are in the same aisle they were in at the location across town.
The same principle applies to mobile responsive design. A customer should intuitively know where to find what they are looking for across a website displayed on desktop, smartphone and tablet. This consistency builds familiarity and loyalty with the customer and allows them to focus on their purchase rather than everything the company is doing poorly. Consider asking your web designer to re-design your website using Mobile First Design.
Intuitive User Interface Design
Humans are hardwired to choose the path of least resistance. A customer should not have to work to find out what a company does, learn about their service or products, or how to purchase them. This is where user interface design is critical in creating a positive customer experience. Creating a website that is intuitive for the customer to acquire what they came to the website for is key. Here are a few principles to focus on to keep your potential customers from bouncing back to Google’s search results and retaining them on your website:
The three-click rule: Every destination on the website should be less than three clicks of a mouse away from the customer accessing it.
Simplicity: The #3 most visited websites in the world have one major thing in common, the simplicity of their website’s interface and purpose. See Google, YouTube and Facebook.
Usability: A customer should never have to pinch, zoom or slide. For mobile resolution, buttons should be big enough that they can be effortlessly activated with the tap of the thumb. Text should have high readability by using appropriately large font size and by selecting colors that have high contrast.
Information architecture: Scanning is how people read content on the web and 55% of all page views get less than 15 seconds of attention. Use hierarchy to help your customers quickly locate the information they are seeking. This is achieved by breaking up information into readable chunks, organizing it using subheadings, and optimizing for skimming with bullet points.
The shortest distance between a brand and a customer is a conversation. Chatbots are poised to become the standard that websites are for businesses in the near future. Using Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots can be programmed to suit the customer needs of any industry. They allow website visitors to ask questions as they would if they were talking to a knowledgeable customer service representative at the hardware store. The customer is provided on demand support and the automated service gives the company more efficiency to be productive and grow.
Creating a great customer experience in a store or on a website is subtle. The customer shouldn’t even realize why it is a great experience, it just is because everything works seamlessly.
With the end of the first quarter of 2017 swiftly approaching, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on the year behind us as well as share a bit about our direction in the coming months.
Last year we made a concerted effort to focus on consistency as a theme, and while we experienced new and exciting opportunities – shifts in the industry, our expanding presence in Portland, the adoption of new technologies, and beyond – ultimately our concentration on consistency allowed us to grow alongside these changes. As a result, this growth has molded Feynman Group into a more mature, conscientious company.
Our dedication to community engagement continued in 2016 with our partners at Kids’ FIRST. Together, we raised over $50,000 at our annual 1 Day 100 Holes Charity Golf Marathon to aid children in Lane County. We are eagerly preparing for this year’s marathon in September, and we look forward to serving our community throughout 2017.
As Feynman Group moves forward, we are excited to continue building off of the positive growth we have diligently fostered. Alongside this effort, we are proud to launch our new logo which we feel reflects the progression and evolution of our brand. Finally, carrying us through 2017 is our concentration on acting deliberately and attentively as a company in order to best meet your technology needs. With that in mind, I sincerely thank you for the opportunity to serve you and your organization. Our partnership allows us to do what we love every day by helping your business thrive.
You walk into a conference room with your laptop and a 55-inch tablet on the wall automatically recognizes you through ultrasonic wireless pairing technology. If you thought you were sitting in a meeting with George Jetson, I’d believe you.
The all-in-one cloud-based digital whiteboard, videoconferencing, and collaborative presentation platform, Cisco Spark Board allows for your team to have a shared and productive workflow experience onsite or on the road.
The Spark Board features an elegant aesthetic, integrating real-time visual, audio, and connectivity components into one sleek device. Connected through the cloud and secured by encryption, Spark Board makes it possible for any user with a Spark app-enabled device to be interactively present in a meeting from virtually anywhere. With intuitive navigation and flow, the Spark Board’s capacitive touchscreen operates nearly identically to smart phones and tablets. Additionally, it uses two-point multi-touch technology that allows two people to work on the board simultaneously.
The 55in Spark Board features a 4k video camera that captures everything from an entire room with an 86-degree wide angle mode, to focusing in on a presenter with its short-range setting. With 12 embedded microphones that use beamforming, a form of 3D audio technology, Spark Board isolates and amplifies the active speaker in a room of 8 to 10 people while suppressing background noise.
Between its sleek industrial design and ultimate collaborative capabilities, Feynman Group is ready to help your business team collaborate more effectively with Cisco Spark Board. Please contact us for more information.
The end of the year is always a natural time for reflection, and as 2015 comes to a close, I’d like to share a bit of what the past year looked like for Feynman Group. One of the tenets we focused on this year as an organization was strength; strength in our actions, remaining strong through change, and of course strength in the services we provided. We also chose to concentrate on the ways we communicate, both in terms of the technological tools we use as well as how our communication helps us relate to each other as people. In these respects, Feynman Group has grown significantly over 2015 as an organization and as a team of skilled individuals.
With that said, the heart of our strength of course relies on our partners. We say our job is to give your business superpowers, and we truly value the opportunities you have presented us with to help you prosper through technology. On behalf of the whole Feynman Group team, I’d like to thank all of our partners, both new and familiar, for the chance to collaborate over this past year!
Looking ahead, I’d like to concentrate on consistency as a principle in the coming year. Consistency can be a nebulous concept, however to us, this stands for maintaining our high standards for superiority in service, staying present to ensure every detail is thoughtfully considered, and dedicating ourselves to following through on our word. And so my promise to you, as our partner, is to maintain consistency in 2016 as we continue to give your business superpowers!
President and Co-Founder
The clock is ticking for those still using Windows Server 2003. As a matter of fact, the literal clock is ticking on Microsoft’s website as they count down to July 14th, 2015, the day Microsoft will cease to support any version of the popular Windows Server 2003 server operating system.
What exactly does this mean? Consider your other devices. Most likely, your computer prompts you periodically to install updates for various reasons; bug fixes, stability improvements, and security updates are some common cases. Mobile phones are similar. Apple releases minor iOS updates every few months, and even individual apps get updates frequently (glancing at my phone, I see Twitter was updated March 28th noting, “This update includes minor improvements”). All of these regular updates are made by the developers at their respective companies in an effort to continually improve their software and keep users safe from security exploits.
Unfortunately, software companies can only continue to update older versions of their products for so long before it’s no longer viable to do so, forcing users to migrate to more modern versions. Just as this is the case now with Windows Server 2003, the very same scenario occurred with Windows XP when Microsoft terminated support for the computer OS in April 2014 (though XP had a valiant 13-year run).
It is highly recommended that all present Windows Server 2003 users migrate to a current version before July 14th, 2015 in order to protect their infrastructure. Continuing to use Windows Server 2003 puts your data at serious risk. The lack of security patches paints a big bulls-eye on these machines for those looking to exploit holes in their defense. While it’s possible in some cases to restore data post-hack, it can be difficult if not impossible to fully recover after a security breach. In addition to security concerns, Microsoft will no longer provide technical support or warranty claims for Windows Server 2003 users, and many applications, including modern 64-bit standards, will no longer support the dead OS.
Perhaps the gravest consequence will affect users in industries which are regulated or handle regulated data, as they may fall out of industry compliance. In this case, Windows Server 2003 users may be legally required to migrate. For a more in depth analysis, this International Data Center white paper provides an excellent summation of the situation as a whole.
In light of the announcement, many commentators are suggesting Windows Server 2003 users migrate directly to Windows Server 2012 R2. In addition to a host of improvements and added features, 2003 users will appreciate 2012 R2’s high application compatibility, meaning the migration will be relatively straightforward. And for those considering taking the interim leap to Windows Server 2008, you may want to note that Microsoft ended mainstream support in January of 2015, and extended support is slated to end just five years from now in January of 2020.
All in all, when faced with the end of a product lifecycle, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and evaluate our use of technology. While it may be tempting to write off this announcement solely as a tech giant’s latest money-grubbing scheme, it’s important to remember that technology drives innovation just as much as innovation drives technology. If Microsoft continued to hold the hand of an aged software until the last user replaced it, who would be working to improve and expound upon it, to pioneer new technology solutions far beyond what anyone thought was possible? Windows Server 2003 had a good run after all. Twelve years ago, Chicago won 6 Academy Awards and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was published. Twelve years from now, there’s no telling how far technology will have advanced, and so we continue moving forward right along with it.
If you’re still using Windows Server 2003, Feynman Group would like to help you through your migration. Contact us to learn more and discuss your options.
“Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”
If you needed any more reason to optimize your website for mobile devices, Google will begin penalizing websites that do not offer tablet and phone users a seamless experience. Since November 2014, Google has already been distinguishing mobile-friendly sites in search results, however the latest changes will specifically rank mobile-friendly sites higher than non-mobile-friendly pages when users search from their phones or tablets.
Willamette Valley Outfitters specializes in salmon and steelhead fishing on Oregon’s coastal rivers and the southern Willamette Valley.
Founded in 2002 by Kyle Buschelman, Willamette Valley Outfitters has earned a name that evokes visions of beautiful Oregon scenery, day-long drifts down the Valley’s best waters, and of course, more salmon and steelhead than you can shake a stick at, if you’ll pardon the pun. Kyle is a master fishing guide who strives simply to provide his clients with an incredibly enjoyable yet completely professional experience.
When Kyle initially met with Feynman Group, his website, like many others’ in his industry, was basic, if not sparse, offering only the essential Willamette Valley Outfitters information. The site served its core purpose; to inform customers what WVOdoes and how to book a trip. With that in mind, Feynman Group and Willamette Valley Outfitters partnered up to develop a brand new site that would reflect Kyle’s distinct professionalism, while highlighting the entertainment and sport of his line of work. Alongside development, Feynman Group sought to incorporate best SEO practices in the new site and concurrently roll out a complete strategic social media campaign.
Feynman Group designed the new WVOsite to be responsive, meaning the site provides an optimal user experience on any device. The site actually adapts to the different screen sizes of devices such as computer monitors, tablets, and phones, and necessary navigational changes are made accordingly, all without interfering with the primary front-end user experience.
Willamette Valley Outfitters’ site incorporates a lot of eye candy to bring the site to life. Vibrant photos and images catch the eye, a seamless, content-saturated homepage adds an interactive experience, and features like rolling video and detailed maps give the site added character. Getting it all to look right was half the battle, the other being to verify everything functioned correctly in all browsers and devices. While this posed a serious challenge, Feynman Group’s developers exhaustively tested each feature for quality assurance.
Another unique feature Feynman Group incorporated in WVO’s new site was extensive copy-writing. Coming from a point where there was previously very little written content, Feynman Group worked closely alongside Kyle to produce natural and authentic copy, incorporating extensive research on the subject matter. The result is an informative resource on WVO and fishing in Oregon that’s also easy to read and digest.
At Feynman Group, we understand effective collaboration hinges on strong communication. Our company requires simple, reliable connection between team members, which can be difficult internally as well as between office locations. When our technicians are out of the office for an on-site visit with our clients, communication is particularly crucial.
Utilizing advanced video collaboration techniques, we’ve been able to increase our efficiency and streamline our processes.For example, one of our technicians is on-location configuring some new network hardware for a client and needs to consult someone back at the office. Given the nature of the service call, it can be difficult to communicate solely over the phone. In cases like this, our techs are thankful they’re equipped with the same video communication tools on their mobile phones as the rest of the team is in the office. Communicating via video is as simple as placing a call to an internal extension at home base.
The best part about our solution is that we are able to seamlessly communicate across all devices, regardless if the user is mobile, at home or at an office workstation. We have the tools to communicate effectively in the office, outside of the office, and when we are on the go.
If you think your business could benefit from streamlined communication, let’s chat about Cisco’s Unified Collaboration platform. Call one of our knowledgeable account representatives or send us an email, and we’ll get you all set up!
With the New Year upon us, now is a great time to consider your business’ collaboration needs going forward. From video conferencing, to instant messaging, to paging and beyond, you’ve got a lot to consider! Here at Feynman Group, we are happy to introduce Cisco’s new Business Edition 6000S (BE6000S) Packaged Collaboration Solution! The BE6000S is purpose-built to deliver core collaboration capabilities along with integrated routing and gateway functionality in one small form-factor platform. The package is a complete, affordable collaboration solution, which makes it a great choice for small businesses. Here are some key features and highlights:
This solution delivers essential collaboration for up to 150 users and 300 devices.
It’s an easy to manage, all-in-one platform with 5 fixed, preconfigured core applications:
Cisco Unified Communications Manager
Cisco Unity Connection
Cisco Unified Instant Messaging and Presence Service
Cisco Prime Collaboration Provisioning
Cisco Paging Server
Supports point-to-point video collaboration
The industry’s first “office in a box” solution based on the Cisco ISR 2921V and UCS E160D M2 blade server, with routing, gateway, wireless, security, and collaboration services all together in a single chassis
The BE6000S is a simple and scalable solution with seamless migration path to higher-end platforms. What does all this mean? Your business can act with greater efficiency, clearer communication internally as well as externally, and you can rest assured knowing your service is supported by Feynman Group’s most knowledgeable techs!