It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. 

Working Remotely. 

As the Corona Virus continues to become an ever increasing threat in the United States, provisions need to be made for the very real possibility of working remotely.  Even if we get lucky and not much happens here in Texas, it’s good to posess the ability for individuals to have the option of working remotely in the event of some other occurrence; a natural disaster or employee illness or injury.  

However, Remote Working has become a very real and ideal option for many of today’s businesses and has increasingly been replacing the traditional workplace environment.  Today numerous individuals work remotely full or part-time, or even while on business travel as a general practice.   

While Remote Work may allow an organization to spend less on physical real estate, it’s important to remember, where you save on physical space you need to invest in the appropriate technology infrastructure to allow for safe and efficient remote access.  In the long run, you may find that investing in infrastructure to allow individuals to work from home not only creates a better work-life balance, saves individuals time and reduces the traffic burden on our roads, makes for happier employees (who actually stay with a company as a result), but may even save an organization money. 

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If you’re considering starting up a new business, or even a spin-off division from your current business, there are a few things to consider from an “IT Perspective” and a general management perspective when doing your planning. 

Goals, Requirements and Your Budget 

The first step in getting your new business up and operational is identifying your business goals and the requirements necessary to support them. Feel free to contact your Account Manager at any point during this process. We realize that there are numerous decisions to be made when you’re starting out, we’ll work with you through the process of identifying the various requirements to ensure you can have a working budget in hand as quickly as possible. We’ll discuss all the options with you, including the pros and cons of choices like Hosted vs. On premises phone systems and In-House vs Outsourced payroll so that you can make the right choices for your new business. 

The Business of People. 

Human Resources (HR) and the accompanying Payroll can be managed, or even co-managed, from a cloud-based system.  You can utilize the Cloud-based system to “share your books” with your accountant, share policy and benefits documents with your employees, and even Temp Agencies, when required. 

When hiring and interviewing, Resume’s and CV’s can be uploaded directly from your website or even outside systems like Indeed or Linked In.  This will allow you to better and more effectively manage documents and information directly from your desktop or mobile device.   

Consider outsourcing some or all of the HR and Payroll tasks.  Many of the services traditionally handled in-house may be more effective, and affordable, if outsourced, especially when in the start-up phase.   

Consider Setting up a Virtual Voice System. 

A virtual Voice assistant is a Cloud-based application which can understand voice commands and complete tasks for a user. For example, dialing a phone, jotting down a note or information or ordering online.  Setting up and utilizing a Virtual Voice Assistant could eliminate the need for taking time out for rudimentary tasks.  Whether taking notes audibly or handling an online order, a Virtual Voice System is likely to speed up processes. Conveniently, Virtual assistants are available on most smartphones and tablets, traditional computers, and, now, even standalone devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home.  Though these home-based systems aren’t necessarily appropriate for the workplace, your UniVista Account Manager can help you identify the best systems appropriate for your business and your business goals. 

Co-Working Spaces. 

Rather than investing in a completely new business infrastructure when you’re starting out, consider taking advantage of Co-working spaces.  Essentially, Co-working spaces are shared workspaces. They are an affordable office space option for those looking to escape the isolation of a home office or coffee shop.  However, Co-working spaces are also ideal for start-ups because you can rent out only what you need, yet still take advantage of most of the amenities that a traditional office space offers.  

Many of these shared workspaces offer a suite of office-like amenities such as hot-desks, private meeting rooms, kitchens, coffee and more.  

Security. Security. Security. 

When considering a new business venture, it’s important to budget for security.  Not only will you need appropriate equipment, but you’ll need the appropriate Security Software technology to ensure your systems and your ideas are safe.  Talk to your UniVista Account Manager about appropriate equipment and adjunct services to keep your systems and intellectual property secure online. 

*Special Alert*: Power Outage in the UniVista Area

UPDATE: We are back up and running and here to help!

A power outage has occurred in the UniVista area. Austin Energy is estimating we’ll be up and running by 1pm CST. Our phones are still up and running. Feel free to call us if you need assistance!

We’ll keep you updated!

One important subject matter we touched on last year was budgeting. Improper budgeting, or even a lack of, can delay and even halt important projects that you as a customer want to prioritize. And no one likes surprises. Budget development is an intricate task, but it is one of the many added features with UniVista Core and Comprehensive Agreements. General budget planning starts with the Q1 quarterly business review meeting, assuming your fiscal year starts in January. For government or other verticals, budgeting starts in the spring, it is pretty well developed by August, and it’s finalized by Oct 1st. An IT budget is most useful if it is a true representation of what is necessary for your maintenance, repair, replacement, and one time “project” expenditures. We work with you to put all of this on paper and allow for proper planning. Let’s touch on a few topics that are very important components of budgeting.

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Within the IT community the term Cybersecurity is often thrown around with little to no explanation. Cybersecurity can be defined as “the protection of computer systems from theft or damage to their hardware, software or electronic data, as well as from disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.” – Wikipedia. Cybersecurity attacks can affect both people and businesses alike. To get a better understanding, let’s discuss some different approaches to cyber threats. What you can do to help prevent yourself from falling victim to these types of attack?

 

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It’s a hard world online in 2014. There was a time when all you needed to be safe online was a good antivirus program. Those days are now gone because new viruses come out too fast for security vendors like Symantec to keep up with. The 100% best way to keep yourself virus-free is to have good habits: 
1. Stay away from the wrong websites. Many links to images, particularly the ones with nudity in them, will infect your PC. Some websites will automatically play code that will infect your machine as soon as you open the page in your browser so be careful.
2. Make sure that the Windows or Mac user account you do your day to day surfing in does NOT have admin rights. This will help limit the spread of a virus if you do happen to stumble across anything malicious.
3. Be wary of e-mails that contain web links or attachments that you weren’t expecting. If it’s from a friend call them and ask if they meant to send it to you. If it’s from a stranger then delete the message.
4. Keep your Operating System, Antivirus Program, and all your web plug-ins updated. If you have an agreement with Univista that includes Limited or Comprehensive Desktop Support then we do most of this for you already.
5. DO NOT CLICK ON OR IN ANY POPUP WINDOW THAT YOU ARE NOT EXPECTING! Clicking in or on the popup may give the virus permission to install on your PC and then you’re in for a potentially expensive recovery. Instead bring up your Task Manager (CTRL-ALT-DELETE keys and then select Task Manager) in Windows or your Task Manager (APPLE-OPTION-ESC) on your Mac and then end your web browser processes until you see the popup disappear.
Unfortunately, even with the best habits you will never be 100% safe because the bad guys are busy every day creating viruses like CRYPTOWARE.
CRYPTOWARE is the latest in ransom ware technology. It encrypts the files on your computer, asking you to pay a ransom to have the files decrypted. To learn more specifics please see: http://www.symantec.com/security_response/writeup.jsp?docid=2014-061923-2824-99.
Once infected, your files are held hostage until you pay a ransom. The only way to recover your files is to restore them from backup.
Rest assured that we are doing our best to keep you from getting infected. We are in the process of testing measures to prevent CRYPTOWARE and other viruses like it from infecting you. If you are our customer, we will be rolling it out to you very shortly. 
As always, please do not hesitate to call us at 866-832-6209. We’re here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have.

The concept of Network Security can be pretty daunting. There are lots of rules and regulations that talk about security, how to enforce security, and what you should or shouldn’t do. Well, my brain is pretty full of stuff that is important, like passwords and account numbers, and not so important, like the name of Pink Floyd’s keyboard player, so I have to simplify everything I have to remember. I’ve had to do this for network security too.

Here are the six simple rules I use when I’m thinking about security. I based my rules off every regulation I’ve ever read (and I’ve read too many!) and something I found online by Marcus Ranum and Fred Avolio called the Seven Tenants of Good Security.

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I know, this has nothing whatsoever to do with IT, networking, or security but if you live in Williamson County this is a big deal. Round Rock has officially become the epicenter of the burger world. The new in-n-out burger will be located within walking distance of Mighty Fine Burger, Five Guys, and a couple other really decent burger places. http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/blog/morning_call/2012/07/round-rock-approves-zoning-for.html?ana=e_aus_rdup&s=newsletter&ed=2012-07-26

Who will Dell buy next? Who is Dell trying to become? Should I, the owner of a small IT Var, be worried that Dell is trying to push me out of business? Do all their recent acquisitions make Dell the consumer’s new best friend? Check out this article on Channelnomics and let me know what you think? http://channelnomics.com/2012/04/06/what-will-dell-buy-next/