Free Friday is here!
You can download Google's worldwide reports to "See how your community is moving around differently due to COVID-19". It's free.
From the web site:
" What’s a Community Mobility Report?
Each Community Mobility Report is broken down by location and displays the change in visits to places like grocery stores and parks."
The result is a PDF that connects all the data from Android users who leave their location tracking on. (There are instructions on how to turn off tracking. That's free advice.) I sincerely hope that this does some good now and will be discontinued in the future. Google has used it's tracking program for other projects in the past, however, so it probably won't.
Looking through the data, I now understand why there are arrests at parks and beaches. That's where the spread is happening.
For specifics on where we live:
Tioga County, NY/Bradford County, PA
For the folks who are setting up Zoom for communication and Ellen Degeneres' Game of Games show, please read.
I noticed a lot of people using the app and decided to test it out today on my Windows computer and Android phone. Of course I did a search to check out what other tech sites had to say and found this article from Bleeping Computer.
The app can still be installed and used safely on a Windows computer, but there are extra steps that you must take when installing the program. Bleeping Computer details them in the article.
Unfortunately, Zoom Video Communications doesn't seem to mention any of this on their web site, or their Facebook page. I did a search for "unc path injection" and came up blank on their support page. In addition there's this from BleepingComputer:
"BleepingComputer has contacted Zoom about this vulnerability but has not heard back at this time."
So, yeah. There are better options out there for Windows users. I'll be experimenting today and let you know what I find.
Lots of you are working from home for the foreseeable future during the COVID-19 pandemic. I've scratched together some bits and pieces together some advice for both employers and employees.
If you are interested in help setting up a secure WAH environment, give us a call. 570-882-8851
Ensure Secure Networking and Communication - This is probably the first thing to ensure when employees are working from home. Please see our post from Friday about companies making it easy to communicate securely and enable people to store and share company documents safely.
Have the proper technology. By this I mean:
Have a properly working computer that has been scanned and cleared of any suspicious apps or programs. This should be a deep dive into the computer, ensuring that there are no rogue processes or unwanted programs that keep track of the user's activities.
Secure your internet connection. Wifi is not as secure as a wired connection. Use a wired connection. Clip that computer directly to the internet.
Make sure that you have a decent webcam and microphone for communication and meetings. Laptops generally have good enough webcams and microphones, desktops generally do not. Generally, you can pick them up at a local super store or order them online with shipping in a couple of days.
Ergonomic workspace The kitchen table or the couch won't do the trick for long term work at home. Getting a good chair with support features is essential. Using the touchpad on your laptop isn't as comfortable as a mouse; Neither is scrunching over to look at the screen from your couch. You might feel comfy on the couch watching Netflix, but it's not going to transfer to work. Bad posture will result in sore backs and aching joints. Your mother was right. Sit up straight.
Privacy within the home. Ensure that kids or pets aren't going to interrupt when meeting with outside customers or co-workers. Yes, you might be able to work in pajama bottoms and a work top, but that's discoverable when you have to stop and chase the barking dog out. You can ensure privacy by something as simple as closing and locking the door. Clear out a room and make it your own.
In addition to all of this, employers should have a policy in place for employees that must work from home or want to work from home during the Covid-19 outbreak. It doesn't have to be fancy, just a simple list of your expectations for communications, security, computer maintenance, and programs/apps that are to be used for work.
The *most important* thing that employers and small business owners can do at this time is to trust your employees. Set a time policy that stresses both not working enough to get things done, or working too much because there is no separation between work and home. Both are detrimental to WAH employees.
Here's a longer list of tips for employees working from home for an extended period of time. The article is at PC Magazine. It was probably written before this crisis began, but it is a very good list.
"Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households."
Click on the image to read the story at MyTwinTiers.
Hello Friday! What a week, huh? 🙃
The world is a little weird right now because of COVID-19. Our small towns here in The Valley (and a bit beyond - Looking south down 220 and along our scenic NY border!) aren't feeling the full weight of what's happening in larger cities. Frankly, that's one of the reasons that many of us choose to live here. We don't have the personal space problems of overcrowded cities.
But, we know that it could and probably will reach us eventually. The danger of the disease itself is a worry for older and compromised people, as well as our local hospitals. You can stay updated by checking in with local authorities on Facebook or Twitter. Our local newspapers and television/radio stations will also have updates on their websites.
For our part, we can help local businesses set themselves up for employees working from home. We are developing a short checklist of things that a small business should take into consideration when employees are at home communicating and working from networked computers. We will have that available over the weekend and will post when it is ready. It will not be all inclusive as each business has individual needs.
Here's the free stuff for Friday.
Right now both Google and Microsoft are offering free versions of their enterprise collaboration software. Slack has always had a free version.
Microsoft Teams is highly recommended by us. It is also a favorite of some of our current enterprise clients. It's secure, easy to use and will blend well with any business already using Microsoft products. Obviously, you need a Microsoft account to sign up.
It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It is also available for iPhone and Android. Click on the image to learn more.
Google is offering a limited version of their GSuite service for free for a limited time. I use GSuite and have always found it a bit confusing, but usable. There is extensive documentation available. The free software as a service they are offering is basically secure teleconferencing for small to large groups.
It is Software as a Service, so it is available for all platforms. Click below to learn more.
Slack is one of the most used collaboration apps online and they have always had a free version for small teams, but it is very limited. You can view what their free/paid software does here. You can also learn how Slack works by clicking the logo below. It is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.
Give us a call today for a consultation. (570-882-8851) As always, we here at Sayre Computer are here to help all the small businesses here in the The Penn-York Valley (and beyond, south on 220, east and west along the NY/PA border and north into the Finger Lakes) get through this thing and help people stay safe and healthy by working at home.