Time-Saving Tricks for Microsoft Outlook 2016

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Microsoft Office 365 offers a number of useful tools for today’s busy professionals including some new shortcuts for Outlook 2016. With so many companies now using Outlook as their major email program, Microsoft works to improve its operation with each annual update.

A number of the great features in this program are also found in other MS Office programs. For instance, if you’re familiar with Word, then learning how to use Outlook will be much simpler.

New Changes for Outlook 2016
Using Outlook 2016, you can do a lot more than send and receive emails. You can also manage your calendar, set appointments, schedule meetings, and create/ manage groups.

In addition to being able to set up various types of groups, you can set up groups in Yammer. Yammer has become a central place where teams can exchange files, get updates and have conversations with others. [Read more…]

Easy And Common Steps To Resolve Internet Issues

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

The Internet is key in almost all that we do on computers. A computer without Internet would have limited use — not only because of the browser, but because many programs require the connection to function.

That’s why when we are right in middle of working and we lose Internet, we can get very frustrated very quickly. Luckily, there are a few things you can try to potentially restore your Internet with minimal time and effort.

Calling your Internet service provider or your IT techs can result in an issue taking longer to resolve as someone may have to drive out to your business or you have to wait for the next available phone representative. Why wait when, most likely, you can fix your own Internet in about 15 minutes or less with minimal experience?

However, before we talk about how to bring back the Internet, we must talk about terminology and devices.

The first device that handles your Internet from the outside of your building is the Internet modem. Your modem usually has your Internet provider’s logo on it and is plugged in by a cord going outside (usually through a wall). You also need to know what a router is. A router plugs into all the computers with either wired or wireless connections. Sometimes, the modem is also a router when it’s a two-in-one device.

Finally, you should know what a firewall device is. Firewalls are usually a box that is plugged in between the router and modem, protecting your network. That said, not every business has a firewall.

Now that you have the basic terminology, we can potentially fix the Internet. First of all, if you lose your connection to the Internet, try a reboot of your workstation.

If the reboot does not work, see if anyone else has Internet. If it is just you that’s lost connection, try to see if you can push your Internet wire (Ethernet cable) into your computer. Sometimes, the connection can become loose and that’s all there is to the problem.

If you are using a wireless connection, turn off your Wi-Fi with a button on your computer and turn it back on. If your Internet is not back, you might have to contact your IT. If no one has Internet, take a look at the modem. The modem usually has lights showing the status of the Internet connection. If it shows that there is no Internet, try to unplug the power from it and wait 15 seconds and plug it back in.

The modem will take time, potentially 10 or 15 minutes, but you will see if the Internet connection comes back. If the modem does have Internet, try to unplug the firewall (if you have one), then plug it back in after 15 seconds. If the Internet still is out after 15 minutes, try to do the same thing with the router by unplugging and plugging the power back in. If the Internet is still out for everyone, you probably have to call your Internet service provider as there could be an outage in the area. Most of the time when the Internet goes out, following these steps can likely bring back the Internet connection. This is especially true if you are at home.

Hopefully, following these steps can resolve your lost Internet connection. Sometimes, your equipment essentially needs a restart to get things back into working order. Should you need further help, we at Tech Experts have you covered!

What Are The Signs Of A Failing Hard Drive?

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

As a network engineer by day, I can say that have seen a lot of hard drive problems and, if they’re not taken care of properly, they can cause a severe technical headache. It is important to notice the signs that are present to you and, fortunately, there’s several to note.

Sluggish performance of your workstation is one of the main issues. This can occur without warning and it can even seem like a virus or cause a blue screen of death (BSOD).

Another sign is your PC or workstation making clicking or grinding noises. This can cause a read failure to occur and cause the drive to be inaccessible, which in turn causes data loss. [Read more…]

5 Effective Lead Generation Strategies To Consider In 2017

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Looking to grab new leads? Forget the more traditional marketing approaches. The majority of them are no longer as effective as they once were. Instead, try something new.

Here are five extremely effective lead-generation strategies for 2017.

Blogs
Although the suggestion to start a blog is hardly groundbreaking, it remains one of the best methods of generating leads and one that is all too often overlooked, even today.

Publishing regular articles provides you with an opportunity to reach your audience and establish your expertise.

In addition, you can encourage readers to sign up for your newsletter or input their email address to access some high-value content. [Read more…]

Why Rebooting Your Computer Solves Many Issues

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

If you have ever had IT help you with a computer issue, you may have noticed that one of the first things we usually recommend is rebooting the computer. That means shutting down the computer completely and turning it back on. This usually resolves most issues the computer could be having, but why is rebooting so effective?

In our day-to-day life, we are accustomed to our computers working all the time, consistently running programs with little to no faults. It comes as a big surprise when our computer does have an issue – especially when it seems like it should never have an issue in the first place. It may not seem like it, but computers are indeed machines and can have an occasional hiccup, like a car making a strange sound for a brief time. There are many hardware reasons why a computer may act up. Sometimes, the computer receives too much voltage for brief second.

Sometimes, the CPU – while operating under a heavy load – may mess up a bit or two, causing a program to not function normally. Or the hard-drive could have been directed to the wrong sector.

More common than a hardware hiccup is a software hiccup, where a program uses too many resources (or not enough resources) and can cause some processes to freeze or be unusable. The data with the program information is unreadable to the computer, but the program does not know this. When these sort of hiccups occur, it seems there is nothing that can be done to have the program run normally.

This is where a reboot can solve an issue. Turning off the computer forces all of the stuck and misread data to be flushed out. When the computer starts up again, the data that was being mismanaged has another chance to be read properly by the program and hardware.

Programs are usually very good at starting up and making sure that everything is running as it should after a fresh boot-up. If the reboot does not resolve the issue, then the issue is typically not a hiccup on the computer’s or software’s end, but another issue that needs to be investigated more closely, usually by a technician.

This is why IT techs are very likely to have you reboot your computer before continuing looking into the issue further: we want to make sure the computer didn’t just have a hiccup. This saves time on both ends, as well as prevents any unnecessary purchases or vendor calls.

In short, computers are prone to little glitches. While annoying, the plus side is that these minor bumps in the road are often pretty easy and quick to resolve.

When it doubt, reboot. You would be surprised by how many problems this can fix, such as a program not opening, and you can return to your work as soon as possible.

When a reboot doesn’t work, then it’s time to call your techs to investigate and get the problem under control.

Six Tips For Making 2017 Your Most Productive Year Yet

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Want to up your game in 2017? Ready to hit the ground running? Here are some great tips for making 2017 your most productive year yet.

Squeeze everything you can out of your day
Get to work on the tasks that are hanging over your head at every opportunity. Long commute? Catch up on the latest industry news, draft a few emails or start to plan your tasks for the day ahead. Work remotely? Use any downtime you have, like waiting on hold to speak to the doctor or standing in line at the bank, to tackle the tasks you haven’t yet found time to accomplish.

Become more efficient at completing routine activities
It’s highly likely that you spend a significant proportion of your time on unproductive tasks that do nothing to enhance your achievements. Take a look at your weekly tasks and identify which of them add no value, which can be better managed, and which you can delegate. Make sure you are spending your time on the tasks that really matter. [Read more…]

Avoid These Five Email Annoyances

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Email is a primary form of communication in the business world because it allows people to work within their own schedules and time-management styles.

With its ease of use, however, we may be sending more messages than necessary, contributing to a general email overload that can mask which items are most important.

Here are some common pet peeves in regards to this lightning-fast communication that may help you refine your email practices:

Sending/Responding to All
Before you send a mass email to all of your contacts or reply to all on an email, ask yourself if each of those people really have a need to know the information within your message.

While this may cover all bases, it is disrespectful to the recipients of your message that aren’t an essential part of the conversation by wasting their time and clogging their inbox. [Read more…]

Beware Of These Tax Return Scams

In the online world, it seems that there is always a new threat cropping up on the horizon. There is one, however, that has been returning year after year following the onset of online tax filing.

This is the prime time for tax phishing scams, and it is important to recognize the signs of a cyber-criminal going after your identity and holdings.

Since tax season is often a mystifying time financially with ever-changing laws that directly affect your pocketbook, it isn’t far-fetched to believe the IRS or a related government agency may need to double-check your data or ask for additional information via email or text.

This is a situation that sophisticated thieves are well aware of, and they do not hesitate to exploit citizens’ lack of knowledge of how the revenue service actually conducts its business.

In fact, approximately 25,000 phishing emails (messages asking for personal data like Social Security numbers and the like) and 611 scam websites were shut down during the last tax season. It is probable that far more efforts went unreported.

Fortunately, it is easy to thwart criminals’ efforts to gain access to your personal information and financial holdings when you are on the alert.

First, no government agency will ask for such information through an unsecured email or text. If the tax agency, tax-preparation company, or related organization needs additional sensitive information from you, you will be contacted by mail, phone, or directed to a secure website.

In the case you are suspicious of a particular communication, double check that the email or physical address matches that of the legitimate organization.

Also, beware of messages that do not use your full name with something generic, such as “Dear valued customer,” or warn that there will be dire consequences if you do not reply right away.

If there is any doubt whether an email or text is a scam, report it to the organization in question or law enforcement agencies.

Tips For Your Next Tablet Purchase

Now that tablets have become ingrained in the techie lifestyle, it’s hard to believe the first Apple iPad arrived on the scene just four years ago. In the time that has passed since then, tablet sales and development have skyrocketed.

Consequently, there is a much larger variety to choose from today than just a single brand and its incarnations.

For those looking to upgrade their tablet or try one out for the first time, navigating the sea of tablet possibilities can be a daunting prospect. Here are a few tips to demystify your purchase choices:

Choose the right operating system for you: Apple’s iOS gets the most attention by far, likely due to its length of time on the market, general ease of use, and plethora of applications available for download.

Android’s OS is also competitive in the availability of apps, and it merges seamlessly with all of Google’s applications.c332562_m

Finally, the Windows OS is growing in popularity with users looking for a PC-like experience and aren’t as concerned about installing various applications.

Get enough storage and a screen size you can work with: Just as if you were PC shopping, a huge concern is having enough space to store your files and a screen that is easy to read.

After all, it’s no fun squinting to decypher text or choosing which applications to keep or ditch due to insufficient storage space.

Also, consider the screen resolution when choosing between models – it can be equivalent to the difference between a regular television screen and HD.

Decide if a WiFi only or cellular version fits your needs: There are two ways you can get online with a tablet – connecting via WiFi networks around you or using cellular service to gain entry.

WiFi only versions are typically cheaper, and you always have to option of turning your smartphone into a hotspot for on-the-fly connections. A cellular version is a tad pricier and requires additional service fees, but the advantaage is you will always be able to get online wherever you go.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Five Great Google Search Tips

If you have ever felt discouraged when trying to find something specific on the web but Google search lists a ton of sites that aren’t relevant, you’re not alone.

Try these handy tips to hone your search terms and help Google locate precisely the information you need:

Tabs
Sometimes, the most obvious things are the most overlooked, and tabs at the top of search results are no exception. Get closer to your desired results simply by clicking the tab that best describes what you want.

If you need a picture, for example, select Images, and you will see nothing but images. The same holds true for news and more.

Quotes
Word order is often crucial to finding the right information, but Google search doesn’t naturally take this into account.

For example, you may want to locate information about the movie Simon Birch, but your search turns up results for a guy named Simon talking about birch trees. Simply put quotation marks around your term to search for a precise phrase.

Hyphens
There also may be words or phrases you wish to exclude from your search results. In this case, put a hyphen in front of the term to indicate you don’t want to see information that contains that term.

For example, if you wish to learn about antique dolls but are not interested in Barbie dolls, input antique dolls -Barbie.

Colons to Search Specific Sites
If you need to restrict your search results to a specific site, add a colon followed by the site address after your search terms to let Google show results only from that particular website. When you want to read news about the ebola virus just on CNN, for example, type in ebola virus: cnn.com.

This is also useful to search your company’s website. Simply use the word site, a colon, followed by your company’s website address. This will display all pages Google has indexed from your website.

Related Sites Search
Sometimes, you want to discover similar sites to ones you already enjoy. Let’s say you like the types of articles on Elephant Journal but have already read everything there. You can find new and similar reading material by searching related: elephantjournal.com.