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Info Advantage has been serving the Upstate New York area since 1993 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Avoiding Back Pain and Eye Strain in the Office

Avoiding Back Pain and Eye Strain in the Office

Working at a desk is a fairly inescapable for the modern office worker. The trouble with sitting at a desk for long intervals is that it causes physical issues, especially if the workspace isn’t properly set up. Fortunately, you don’t have to invest in specialized equipment; it’s fairly simple to establish best practices that will ensure employee comfort and productivity.


Chair Specifications
While this may not be the first issue to enter your mind as you consider sources of discomfort in the workplace, it only makes sense to assure that the office chairs are as comfortable as possible. After all, it is where the employee will spend most of their day. A good office chair will have a cushion (preferably with breathable fabric) as well as armrests for the times the employee stops typing. The arms should be bent at 90 degrees and resting on the arms with relaxed shoulders. As for the backrest, height and angle should both be adjustable to keep posture upright - and the best will include some form of lumbar support.

Desktop Hardware Positioning
Ideally, the keyboards should line up to your employees’ positions so that there’s a straight line from their navels to their “B” keys; mouse at the same level, and as close to the keyboard as possible. Heightwise, the keyboard and mouse should be at a level where the typist will bend at the elbows, not the wrists. The monitor(s) should be positioned so that the top edge of the monitor is about two or three inches above the user’s eye line. One last note concerning monitors: glare should be eliminated as much as is possible. Here is a handy chart for determining ideal desk proportions.

Using the Right Equipment
Of course, using properly-sized equipment is only half of the battle - it also must be used properly. Posture is key to minimizing soreness and discomfort. Beyond the arm positioning and eye level of the monitors, leaning and slouching will cause stiffness. You should suggest that your employees position themselves to be sitting up straight, shoulders relaxed, and avoid reaching for items on their desks.

Be Sure to Take Breaks
It is also recommended that those working with computers and screens take frequent breaks to reduce the strain on the muscles and eyes. Stretching, getting up and moving around, or at least looking away from the screen are all highly recommended.

One might ask why they should invest time and resources into assuring that their employees sit properly. The simple answer: a comfortable employee is a productive employee. Without the distraction of physical discomfort, a team will accomplish more, treat your clients better, and generally improve the environmental experience of the workplace.

So, how else could some small environmental adjustments improve office productivity? Let us know in the comments below!

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Guest — Kevin Hicks
Good blog post !!!!Thanks for sharing these useful information! This is one of the best posts I found so far. The contents are ver... Read More
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Four Power Tips for Windows 10 Users

Four Power Tips for Windows 10 Users

Windows 10 is almost one year old, and people have found all sorts of ways to best leverage Microsoft’s great new operating system to their business’s advantage. Yet, some folks tend to forget some of the most basic new features that got everyone so excited about Windows 10 in the first place. Have you taken advantage of these Windows 10 features yet?


Virtual Desktops
Have you ever used a virtual desktop before? Basically, it lets you open up multiple desktops on your machine, which can be used for different things. This is helpful if you want to spread out your use of apps and windows, rather than cram them onto one desktop screen. To open a new virtual desktop, click the Task View icon next to the Cortana search bar in the taskbar. Then, select the New desktop feature in the right corner of the screen. If you want to move an app to a different virtual desktop, just click it and drag it like you would a file.

Advanced Screenshots
In Windows 10, you can take screenshots quickly and efficiently. One shortcut that you can use is to hold down the Windows key and press Prt Scn. This will capture the entire screen and place the file in a Screenshots folder. Alternatively, you can use Alt + Prt Scn to copy the screenshot to your clipboard, for use in an image editor. You can then use Windows 10’s built-in Snipping Tool to customize your screenshot.

We want to add that this is particularly useful for communicating with tech support, as more often than not, a visual representation of what’s happening on your screen can be beneficial toward resolving whatever your problem is.

Record Your Screen
Windows 10’s new Xbox app allows users to record their screen, perhaps to give a tutorial or simply to record whatever you’re doing for later review. Launch the Xbox app and open the app that you’d like to record. Once you’ve done that, all you have to do is press Windows + G. You’ll be shown the message, “Do you want to open the Game bar?” Check the “Yes, this is a game” option, and hit the record button. Whether it’s a game or not is irrelevant; it’s just a cheap and easy way to record something on your computer.

Battery Saver
If you’re using a Windows 10 laptop or tablet, you can customize when the Battery saver mode turns on. Normally, it will kick on once the battery has reached 20 percent, but you can set your own preference. To do so, go through Settings > System > Battery saver.

If you can’t take advantage of these Windows 10 features because you don’t yet have Windows 10, we want to remind you that it’s not too late to claim your free version from Microsoft. You have until July 29, 2016 to claim it, but only do so if you’ve already thought about the migration process. Otherwise, you could accidentally bring about downtime and incompatibility with legacy applications.

By using these four tips, you can take full advantage of Windows 10 and perhaps even take advantage of your operating system in new and unprecedented ways. What are some of your favorite Windows 10 features? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for more great tips and tricks.

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Tips for Keeping Your Email Accounts Secure

Tips for Keeping Your Email Accounts Secure

Think about how many emails you write a day, transferring messages back and forth between coworkers, clients, partners, and anyone else you may need to share information with. Now, how many of them can you say for sure were secure and protected from the prying hands of a hacker? Many employees assume that their email is secure, and can become very comfortable with sending potentially sensitive information through their work email app. This misconception of safety can result in data leaks, unauthorized data access, and invasion of you company’s network. Here are a few tips to ensure that any and all emails being sent out are safe from unwanted intruders.

Encryption

One of the major issues with email is how it is delivered to the recipient. Even though the information might be protected by an internal server, once the email leaves that server it may be at risk while traveling the public internet. However, an encrypted email will be protected even after it leaves a secure network. Encryption works by allowing you to create an identity verification between sender and recipient. Those without an approved cipher will be unable to read the email, or know where the information is being sent from. This is one of the best ways to ensure that the only people who can access sensitive information are those who the data is intended for.

Separate Accounts

Typically, people tend to try and stick to one email account when signing up for new things. In many cases, employees may use their work email to sign up for personal accounts on the internet. As a result, their inboxes become flooded with marketing information from various websites and stores. Not only does this mean a likely increase in phishing or scamming attacks, but it also means that an attack on your email may put more than just an employee’s personal data in danger. By separating your email accounts, you will boost your security and be able to manage sensitive data much more carefully.

Stronger Passwords

While this may seem like a given, there are many email accounts that have surprisingly predictable passwords. This includes simple codes ‘123456,’ ‘qwerty,’ or even ‘password.’ Even if your password is a bit more secure, you may be surprised how easy it can be to guess the things you may think no one will know, such as a birthday or maiden name. Instead of making something easy to remember (and easy to guess,) try creating a password with a mixture of upper and lower case, letter, and symbols. Try to avoid using the exact same password for each account just in case. This will ensure your other accounts are safe if one gets hacked.

Watch Out for Email Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common types of scams, and are constantly improving in order to trick email users into giving up their personal information. A phishing scam is where a hacker sends a user an email claiming to be a representative from a well-known organization, such as Facebook or Amazon. Typically, they try to convince the user that there is an issue with the users account, and ask them to provide their login credentials to fix the issue. Remember, no company should ever ask for your password or any personal information, especially not through an unsecure email. Before responding to an email, make sure the sender is legitimate and not asking for anything that might put your information at risk.

 

Worried that your sensitive data might be leaked due to an unsecure network? Call Info Advantage at (585) 254-8710 to speak to a qualified security professional about how you can boost your email security.

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3 Exercises to Offset the Pain of Working From a Desk

3 Exercises to Offset the Pain of Working From a Desk

Welp, we’re all doomed. It turns out that sitting all day at your desk is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Alternatively, numerous studies have shown the health benefits of trading your traditional desk in for a standing desk. One study even goes so far as to claim that standing at work is the best anti-aging technique you can do!


This standing/anti-aging study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It links aging with the chromosome “telomeres” that protects one’s genetic code. This chromosome shortens when a person sits, and lengthens when a person stands. Longer telomeres are better at protecting genetic code by keeping it from wearing and tearing, whereas shorter telomere have been linked to premature aging.

The study even makes the claim that standing is better than exercise, seeing that exercise doesn’t have any impact on telomere length. In fact, a top medic from the study claims that, “Standing up for three hours a day is the same as ten marathons.” Scientific research like this is groundbreaking for anybody trying to live longer by dieting and exercising.

To further make our case against sitting at a desk all day, consider these statistics from the Harvard Business Review:

  • As we work, we sit more than we do anything else. The average person sits for 9.3 hours a day, compared to 7.7 hours of sleeping.
  • After one hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat declines by as much as 90 percent. Extended sitting slows the body’s metabolism affecting things like HDL levels in our bodies (good cholesterol).
  • Research shows that this lack of physical activity is directly tied to 6 percent of the impact for heart diseases, 7 percent for type 2 diabetes, and 10 percent for breast cancer or colon cancer.

In the biggest blow to the practice of sitting at a desk, further research shows that if you sit for more than 23 hours a week, you are 64 percent more likely to die from a heart attack.

What’s a health-conscious office worker to do? If you’re able to switch to a standing desk, then this simple move may literally add years to your life. Another helpful activity you can do to somewhat offset the negative health effects of sitting is to incorporate regular stretching exercises into your daily routine. To help you out, here are three easy exercises that virtually anybody can do.

Get Down and Stretch
Get down on all fours and slowly rock back and forth. When rocking back, your hips should move down towards your feet, and make sure to extend your back across the lower portion of your spine. Also, make sure to relax the stretch when returning to the forward position. If you’d like to make the stretch more impactful, nod your head as you rock, bringing your chin to and from your chest.

Roll Around on the Ground
Start by lying on your stomach and then lift your arms above your head. Next, lift your arms and use their weight to roll over a few times on each side. Make sure you’re using the weight of your arm to roll, instead of using the ground to push yourself over.

The Benefits of Crawling
It’s surprising that something so basic as crawling can double as such a good exercise. When crawling on all fours for exercise purposes, be sure to move your hips as much as possible. At the same time, stretch your neck by turning your head from side to side while moving backward.

Between standing and stretching, you may be able to offset the damage done from years of sitting. What about you? Would you identify as someone who spends way too many hours sitting on your keister? Have we convinced you to sit less and stand more? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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How to Craft an Irresistible Email Subject Line

How to Craft an Irresistible Email Subject Line

We think that it’s safe to say that nobody enjoys their inbox receiving incredulous amounts of emails on a regular basis. Yet, the business owner must maintain their inbox every day, and if a message doesn’t strike them as important, they’ll probably either ignore it or delete it completely. Here’s how you can prevent this from happening.


Depending on who you’re addressing and the context of the email, there are a few different ways you can approach your email heading. One surefire way is to make the subject line relatable and personable.

According to Unbounce, a message with the subject line, “Steve, where are you?” achieved a 43 percent open rate, compared to a Mailchimp report citing the industry average to be 24 percent. This is due to both the personalization of the subject line, as well as the perception that, by not reading the email, the recipient will miss out in some way.

Another great way to reach your email recipient is to include a detail about their recent activities with you. You can use the subject line to catch their attention. For example, you can ask them how their experience was, and customize it to make sure that the message doesn’t get identified as spam. You can do this if someone has recently purchased a new product or service from your company. Doing so establishes a personal connection, and can inspire the recipient to take further action.

Offering a special benefit, like a limited time offer or important information, can also inspire a reader to open the email. Perhaps you could try educating them on how best to perform a certain task, or even a surprising fact. Whatever you decide to include, make sure that it’s either useful or interesting.

On the other hand, if your email is conveying bad news to the reader, it’s best to be honest at all times, as well as authoritative. If the service that you provide is disrupted, it’s best to let them know about the issue, as well as any plans that you have to resolve it.

Basically, the thing to remember is that your message, including the subject line, should be tailored to meet the expectations of the recipient. No two people are the same, and you will have varying purposes in reaching out to them. Your mission should be to make all of your recipients feel like they’re special; otherwise, they’ll suspect that you’re emailing everyone in your contacts, and assume that the message isn’t genuine. This can cause them to put your message in the back of their mind (or in the spam folder).

What are some of your favorite ways to get your emails read? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for more great technology tips and tricks.

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4 Ways Stress Can Be Good (and Bad) for Your Business

4 Ways Stress Can Be Good (and Bad) for Your Business

Stress is one of those things that you can’t escape, no matter how hard you try, and it can takes a toll on your workday. Despite this, there are (surprisingly) some redeeming factors to stress to be considered.


When talking about stress, there’s one important detail that cannot be overlooked: stress created for the sole purpose of being stressed is not a good motivator. Inc states that “stress that comes from not having enough information or that’s based on an irrational fear is a poor motivator.” In other words, it’s important to keep stress to a minimum whenever possible, as there’s quite literally no reason to be stressed about everything and everyone around you. You need to retain control if you want to harness the power of stress.

That being said, there are some benefits to be gained from the occasional bout of stress. Here are four of them.

Stress Provides an Energy Boost
Stress is often draining and is known to sap energy from you, but if something urgent comes up, this stress can become a motivating factor that provides energy. With this kind of stress, you’ll become more aware of your surroundings and find that you’ll have the energy needed to get your work done.

Stress Proves That You Care About Your Work
If you’ve been stressed out about a project, you might go through a couple of stages where you initially hate yourself for it. Eventually, you might claim that you just don’t care and that you want it to be over with as soon as possible. However, the stress is a signal that you do actually care about how the project turns out. If you’re stressing about a project, take solace in the understanding that you do actually care.

Stress Can Teach You to Enjoy the Little Things
There’s something to be said about a hard day’s work. Imagine if you had a job where you had to be exposed to sweltering weather all day, under incredible physical duress on an empty stomach. Now imagine going home after the day’s work to an air-conditioned home with a delicious meal sitting on the dinner table. It’s the little things that make working with stress bearable. If you understand this concept, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the time that you’re not stressed.

Stress Can Inspire Quick Action
Stress is something that nobody wants to deal with, so it’s only natural that they move toward the solution: eliminating the stress. This means that people will work swiftly and efficiently toward removing the stress factor from their lives, regardless of what that entails. This doesn’t mean that you should go out of your way to stress yourself out; instead, it means that you’ll work with urgency when it’s required.

While there are advantages to stress, it’s still something that needs to be managed and mitigated whenever possible. While you might not be able to do much for stress caused by problems outside the office, you can assist them with managing their workplace issues. One of the ways that you can make your employees’ lives easier is by providing functional, working technology that helps them perform their jobs to the best of their ability.

Our managed IT services are just what the busy business owner needs to eliminate frustrations caused by dysfunctional technology solutions. To learn more, reach out to us at (585) 254-8710.

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