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It Is World Data Backup Day 2021

World Backup Day is March 31 – Treat data backups like a fire drill – practice being safe before the real thing happens so you can get your files back

Tips to Get Hard Work Done

Getting hard work done has been made harder with COVID-19 pandemic but there are some strategies that can help us stay focused to to get hard work done

8 Ways to Fight Zoom Anxiety

After a year of COVID lockdowns Zooming is a part of everyday life but not everyone has overcome Zoom anxiety here are some solutions for Zoom anxiety

McAfee Selling its Enterprise Security Business

McAfee is selling its enterprise security business to PE firm STG for $4.0B in an all-cash deal

8 Hacks to Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill

What is the most important hack to reduce your cell phone bill?

It Is World Data Backup Day 2021

It Is World Data Backup Day 2021The tenth annual World data backup day is March 31, 2021. World data backup day is a time to remember to backup the data on your computer, your phone and other mobile devices. Data backup is a not-so-hard way to avoid a disaster because your chances of losing your data are pretty good.

Consider the following:

  • 30% of people have never backed up
  • 113 phones lost or stolen every minute
  • 1 in 10 computers are infected with a virus every month
  • 31% of PC users have lost all of their files due to events beyond their control
  • 140,000 hard drives crash in the US every week
  • 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down with 6 months of the disaster

World backup day


Your data is worth more than your devices

Hardware is cheap and getting cheaper. What is the value of the new business plan you spent three months writing? The music and movies you have on your devices? The cute video of your kid’s trip to the beach or your puppy being a goof? You can get a new computer or phone, but you cant replace those important files without a backup.

Why you should have a data backup plan

There are several scenarios that could take place where having a backup of your data would be useful:

  • Your phone gets stolen, and you lose all your pictures and videos.
  • An external hard drive crashes, deleting your home videos.
  • You forget your laptop in a cafe and you’ve lost all your homework.
  • A virus holds your data hostage until you pay to remove the restraints.
  • You accidentally delete something important,

What to do?

backup your dataThe advantage of having your important data backed up off-site, away from your home or office, is that it’s safe from theft, fire, and other local disasters. When you backup your data, you’re making a second copy of files you don’t want to lose. Should something happen to the originals, you can restore the data backups to your computer or mobile device with a backup.

Technically, a backup just refers to any piece of data that exists in two places. The primary purpose of a data backup is to have a recovery plan should the primary data become inaccessible. It is common to keep backups offsite like online or, at the very least, on a second hard drive, even another internal one.

Your data backup options

There a 2 types of cloud services to hold you data backups. The first is a cloud storage service for keeping your data safely backed up online. A cloud storage service a place to selectively upload important files that you need to keep off of your physical device.Your data backup options

If you are a Microsoft 365 customer – OneDrive cloud back up is included in most plans.

If you prefer Google, Google Drive is a cloud backup option to investigate.

iCloud is cloud storage for Apple devices.

There are lots of other cloud storage services to pick from.

Some argue that using these services gives the tech-titans more access to your data. If that concerns you there is a second option.  Cloud backup services let you backup data automatically and on a schedule. There are many Cloud Backup services to chose from as well.

encryptionWhen backing up to the cloud be sure you understand level of encryption they offer. When you encrypt data, you encode it so only authorized people can read it. It is up to you to keep your backup secure. Use a strong password and choose the 448-bit option, the maximum encryption offered by many providers. It would take a computer millions of years to crack the encryption and gain access to your data.  

Don’t forget to test your data back up

Remember that you haven’t really backed anything up unless you can restore it.

Many people are unable to restore their data backup because they forgot or lost their decryption password – Keep it somewhere secure – But not in your back up. Or they never did a practice restore so they simply weren’t practiced enough in using their tool to use it reliably – when the pressure was on.

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Whether to a USB drive, an external drive, the cloud or a private server, backup all that important data somewhere safe. Do this often.

Treat restoring data back ups like a fire drill – practice being safe  before the real thing happens and you aren’t fighting against both fear and unfamiliarity at the same time.

Stay safe out there !

Related article

Ralph Bach has been in IT long enough to know better and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow him at LinkedInFacebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

Tips to Get Hard Work Done

Tips to Get Hard Work DoneDoing hard work is hard. Hard work can frustrate us and cause anxiety and stress. We can struggle to maintain focus on our hard tasks, including the ones we enjoy. We often postpone work on hard tasks. We often choose quick wins from easier tasks, like email, social media or watching videos. COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder to get hard work done. Everyone experiences bouts of procrastination or work-avoidance, and the guilt that comes with not getting work done. There is no avoiding these experiences entirely.

David Badre, professor of cognitive sciences at Brown University published a book, On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done, about the neuroscience of cognitive control. Cognitive control is the mental function that allows us to connect our goals and plans with our actions. In the book he provides some suggestions to get hard work done.

Make space to get hard work done

BrainTo get hard work done, Professor Badre explains that the brain needs ready access to a task set. A task set is the information, plans, procedures, and knowledge you will use to get the hard work done. However, the task set is not instantly available. We can’t hold it all in our working memory’, all the time.

For example, when planning a complicated project, we must collect lots of information related to schedules, budgets, resources, plans, stakeholders, and the results. However, if we have just been at a meeting on a Betty Jo’s retirement party, and then return to work on the project plan, the necessary information will not be in the forefront of your mind.

working memoryThe project information must be mentally retrieved and organized in your working memory before you can start planning again. In practice, returning to a hard task in this way comes with the author calls a ‘restart’ cost. Restart costs are the time and mental effort spent getting back into your task set, rather than making progress. For this reason, it is important to create time and space to work on hard tasks.

Create time to get hard work done

Set aside large blocks of time – We all know how easy it is to fill our workdays with Zoom meetings, junk email and social media. These can leave only small gaps of time for getting hard work done. Long blocks of time are needed to get hard work done for several reasons. They require intense thought and work, but also because we need time to re-establish our task set. Switching frequently between tasks makes producing quality work harder.

Be consistent – The author suggests you should reserve a consistent time and place to get hard work done and be protective of it. Ideally, you should block this time and place every day. Even if you do not make progress one day, that time should be spent on your hard task rather than other tasks, even if it’s just reviewing your work.

Consistency aids memory. Memory retrieval is context dependent. It helps to have the same sights and sounds available when you learn something as when you try to remember it. Thus, working on a task in the same context repeatedly might aid retrieval and help us to re-establish our task set when we restart.

Never multitask

your performance efficiency and quality will sufferWhen you do two or more tasks at once, your performance efficiency and quality will suffer. This happens partly because each task occupies the working memory. As a result, they will compete for that shared resource and interfere with one another. When doing a hard task, it is important to minimize this interference from multitasking.

Remove cues to other tasks. It helps to put away e-mail, social media, and phones. Just seeing the phone on your desk, will distract you. They are distractions that pull you off task. The cues will create multitasking costs, whether you do the other tasks or not. Mr. Badre recommends, keep our space and time for hard work clear of other distracting tasks.

Beware of easy tasks. When you decide to perform a task, your brain does a cost–benefit analysis. Your brain will weigh the value of the outcome against the projected mental investment required to be successful. As a result, people often avoid hard tasks in favor of easier tasks. Sending some e-mails or straightening up the desk are worthwhile tasks and feel productive, but they add multitasking costs and prevent you from getting hard work done.

How to get hard work done

problem-solvingTo get hard work done, you must structure the problem or task in a way that will allow you to succeed. For example, a hard task such as building a budget might involve a structured process of retrieving, selecting, and checking a set of facts from the general ledger, department budgets, corporate calendars policy and procedures. The better you know these facts, and the more effectively you can evaluate them and produce your project budget. As you do more budgets, they get easier to do. In general, you can get better at structuring hard problems with experience. This is one reason that practice makes us more efficient and successful getting hard work done, and that experts outperform novices.

Engage in good problem-solving habits

Stay with it. Finding the right structure can take time. You may not make progress on a hard task every day, but it is important to keep trying. Be kind to yourself when you don’t make progress.

Be open to a change in plans. Often, your first plan does not work and leads to dead ends. When you get stuck, be willing to change your plan and look for new ways to address it.

Take breaks. It’s not helpful to insist on trying to get everything done at once. It is important to take breaks from difficult work. This keeps the mental costs low, and you can consider new ideas. Mr. Barde says there is evidence that incubation of this kind helps problem-solving.

see a problem in a new wayInteract with others. Just like taking a break, interacting with others can help see a problem in a new way. Talking to people with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and viewpoints that differ from your own can be a powerful way to break out of a rut and make progress, as well as get some perspective. Moreover, working with others whose company you enjoy makes it more fun to get hard work done.

This social aspect of getting hard work done has been challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has prevented the spontaneous interactions that are often helpful. Professor Badre suggests it is useful to make time for informal discussion over work, to recapture these interactions with others and avoid isolation.

Completing hard work is an essential part of success. Professor Barde concludes that there are no simple tricks or get-smart-quick schemes that will instantly make getting hard work done effortless. But, if you make space for our work, avoid multitasking and pursue good problem-solving strategies, can be more successful at getting hard work done.

Stay safe out there !

Related article

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT long enough to know better and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers, and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow him at LinkedInFacebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

8 Ways to Fight Zoom Anxiety

8 Ways to fight Zoom AnxietyAfter a year of the COVID-19 pandemic and  working from home until September 2021, video conferencing has become a fundamental part of everyday life. However, not everyone has overcome Zoom anxiety. Zoom anxiety is defined as “a feeling of panic when asked to jump on a video call.” For some people, the prospect of a video call can bring up a deep feeling of dread, especially if required to present. Combined with other stressors linked with the pandemic, lockdown and job insecurity, Zoom anxiety can prove debilitating to some people.

Zoom anxietyAccording to a study from presentation specialist Buffalo 87, “Zoom anxiety” has become a serious problem for many.  Zoom anxiety afflicts people, for many reasons. James Robinson, Marketing Manager at Buffalo 7 says 73% of respondents reported struggles with Zoom anxiety, “…it’s clear that for many video calls bring their own set of challenges.

Who has Zoom anxiety

The study published at TechRadar identified a number of reasons for Zoom anxiety. 83% of Zoom anxiety sufferers worried that a potential technical glitch that cannot be easily fixed might occur. They expressed concerns about holding up clients and colleagues, as well as revealing their incompetence. In addition:

  • 67% worried about the inability to read body language effectively.
  • 56% were concerned they haven’t been heard.
  • 41% fretted about insufficient time to prepare appearance.
  • 34% stressed about the unprofessional nature of the background.

A study out of Stanford University identified four reasons why so many people suffer from Zoom anxiety.

1- Too Much Eye Contact

Emma Russell, a senior lecturer in occupational and organizational psychology at the University of Sussex explained. “We are attending to a number of faces staring right at us, and our face is also on screen for all to see.” 

faces staring right at usGéraldine Fauville, a researcher at Stanford explains, “During video conferences, you have this impression that everyone on the screen is staring directly at you, so you have this feeling of being constantly the center of attention and that is just stressful in general, especially for long periods of time.

The size of other participants’ faces is often large on our screen. Professor Fauville says,  “ … Generally, if people are very close to each other, that’s a very intense situation that could lead, for example, to mating or conflict.

2- Self-Evaluation

being able to see ourselves causes Zoom anxietyCharlotte Armitage, a media and business psychologist, reports that being able to see ourselves causes Zoom anxiety.  Being able to see ourselves causes Zoom anxiety because our reflection on-screen provides an added level of focus we wouldn’t have in real life. “The additional psychological processing involved in attending to one’s own behaviour and actions … adds an additional level of stimuli that you wouldn’t have had in a face-to-face meeting.” 

Professor Russell says,”It can be very draining to be paying attention to how people see us and how they view our reactions.

3- Lack of Movement

During in-person meetings people move around. Professor Fauville says that is not true during a Zoom meeting and it impacts outcomes. “Studies have shown that motion and movement are very important for creativity … for performance in general, so suddenly with video conferences, you are stuck in this box in view of the camera.

4 – No Nonverbal Cues

Zoom meetings increase the “cognitive load” on participants. Video conferences require people to interpret virtual gestures and other nonverbal clues. Ms. Fauville says.

During face-to-face meetings, … we have a lot of ways to communicate … the intonation we use, the pauses we use in our sentences… information that most of us understand naturally … With video conferences, the only information I have about your body language is your head and your shoulder, so suddenly I have to second guess what you mean behind your words.

the only information I have about your body language is your head and your shoulder

How to calm Zoom anxiety

Here are some tips for Zoom users that feel awkward when asked to speak on camera, to reduce Zoom anxiety.

Limit calls
Video calls may not always be the most efficient option. Ask if this call is really necessary. It may be easier to add notes onto a shared doc, for example. 

Cancel cameras
Cameras cause stressAfter starting the camera use the “hide self” function. Bosses should be open to turning off cameras because of the stresses it can cause. Standord’s Fauville suggests,  “… using cameras only when it really adds something.”  If your boss insists cameras are required on every call, try putting your camera on a side angle not face-on. You will focus less on yourself.

Allow recharge time
Limit the number of Zoom calls. If that won’t work for the boss try to get a break between calls to recharge. Failing those accommodations, Professor Fauville recommends shrinking the size of your video conferencing window so it’s not taking up your full screen. It can also be a good idea to periodically focus on something other than your screen. This way, she says, “You focus on what you hear, you don’t have to think about the body movement and so on.

Give notice
Never drop anyone on a call without telling them in advance. If people have time to prepare, they’ll be more organised and less anxious. 

Communicate concerns
Communicate! Talk to bosses, talk to teams – if there’s an issue, you never know who else is facing it too. Encourage conversations. Ask your boss for a private chat. 

Move

Get up from your chairGet up from your chair, stretch, water your plants, pet your dog or cat. Give your brain a chance to switch gears between meetings. Set up your camera further away from you. It will captured more of the room so you can stand, pace or stretch without fear of going off frame.

An external keyboard can help you sit further away from the camera. Being further way can encourage movement as fidget during the call. It also puts more distance between you and your screen. This will decrease the intensity of the eye contact your brain perceives from other participants.

Focus on Physical Health
Dr. Hallie Zwibel, the director of NYIT’s Center for Sports Medicine recommends,  “… an ergonomic chair, making sure your keyboard is ergonomically designed. We also recommend taking a standing break at least every 45 minutes.

Limit glareIn addition Dr. Zwibel recommends “Make sure you’re limiting glare, that your screen is eye level, with a certain amount of distance between you and your screen.

Staring at a screen for hours on end can cause “pseudo-myopia,” meaning nearsightedness. It’s easy enough to avoid. Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen for 20 seconds at an object 20 feet away. (There’s are several apps for that.)

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For many of us video calls are  like standing up in front of the classroom. It’s just going to feel uncomfortable for that reason alone.

Stay safe out there !

Related article

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT long enough to know better and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers, and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow him at LinkedInFacebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

McAfee Selling its Enterprise Security Business

McAfee Selling its Enterprise Security BusinessMcAfee is back in the news again. The often sold antivirus vendor is selling its enterprise security business. McAfee and private equity firm Symphony Technology Group (STG) announced on 03/08/2021 that the PE is buying McAfee’s enterprise security business for $4.0 billion in an all-cash deal. The deal is expected to close before 2022. McAfee is keeping its consumer security software business.

Selling its enterprise security business

$4.0 billion in an all-cash dealThe McAfee website touts that the enterprise business serves 86% of the Fortune 100 firms, and generated $1.3 billion in net revenue in fiscal year 2020. Despite these numbers, it is clear why McAfee is selling its enterprise security business. For FY2020 the company reported $2.9 billion in total revenue, up 10% YoY. Techcrunch says the overall revenue broke down to $1.6 billion from the consumer side. with a up 20% increase. The entreprise side brought in $1.3 billion in net revenue, an increase of just 1%.

Increased competition

One of the reasons McAfee is selling its enterprise security business is increased competition. McAfee’s enterprise business has struggled in recent years against fast-growing endpoint detection and response (EDR) software companies — such as CrowdStrike and SentinelOne. CrowdStrike’s revenue was up 86% YoY in 21Q3. SentinelOne is preparing an IPO that could achieve a $10 billion valuation. Also major technology companies such as Cisco Systems, Microsoft and VMware’s  Carbon Black have pushed deeper into McAfee’s market space.

We have seen this before

We have seen this beforeAfter the sale the enterprise security business, it will re-branded. Once the deal closes, the McAfee consumer business will be know as McAfee. The STG-McAfee deal is similar to Symantec’s breakup. As I wrote about in 2019, Broadcom acquired Symantec’s enterprise security business for $10.7 billion. Symantec’s consumer business, now known as NortonLifeLock, remains publicly traded.

Legacy Synergy 

SynergySTG’s purchase of McAfee’s enterprise security business should pair well with another STG enterprise-focused security holding. The PE firm purchased RSA from Dell last February for $2 billion. STG did not point directly to the RSA acquisition, the two investments create a large combined legacy security business for the firm. Both firms have strong brand recognition, but have lost some of their edge to more modern competitors in the marketplace.

Stay safe out there !

Related article

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT long enough to know better and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers, and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow him at LinkedInFacebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.

8 Hacks to Reduce Your Cell Phone Bill

8 Hacks to Reduce Your Cell Phone BillAre you spending too much on your cell phone bill? The average cell phone bill for a family of four on unlimited data can reach up to $2,670 a year. One of the reasons your cell phone bill is so high is the data plan. All those video chats, streaming services, and data-hungry apps, means you are using a lot of data on your cell phone. Statista says that the average smartphone user will use almost 9GB of data per month in 2021. All this cellular data usage comes with unexpected overages bills, too. No one likes sky-high cell phone bills. Here are some easy-to-follow tips to help you find ways to reduce your data uses and reduce your cell phone bill.

the average smartphone userThe first step to reduce your cellphone bill is to now what you really need. Research says that 66% of Americans with unlimited cell phone plans consume less than 10 gigabytes of cell phone data monthly. These cell phone user could reduce their cell phone bill by an average of $268.44 a year without running out of cell phone data.

Wi-Fi helps you reduce your cell phone bill

Consistently connecting to Wi-Fi networks will reduce the amount of cellular data you use, and reduce your cell phone bill. This is important because watching a Netflix movie while using cellular data will eat up anywhere between 1GB to 3GB per hour. Wireless carriers divert cellular traffic to Wi-Fi to save money – so should you. Here are some tricks to reduce your cell phone bill.

Turn on Wi-Fi to reduce your cell phone bill1 – Turn on Wi-Fi – Make sure your Wi-Fi settings are turned on, and you are connected to an available Wi-Fi network.

2 – Turn off Wi-Fi Assist (iOS) and Smart Network Switch (some Android models). These built-in settings try to boost a spotty or slow Wi-Fi connection by using your cellular connection. These settings can use a lot of data.

  • Android devices, go to Settings > Connections > Wi-Fi. Tap the three dots, select Advanced, and tap the slider for “Switch to mobile data.”
  • Apple device, go to Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Data. Then scroll down and tap the slider for Wi-Fi Assist.

Limit your data usage

3 – Cap your monthly data usage – Android has a built-in feature that allows you to limit your cellular data to a set amount based on your billing cycle. Here’s how to set that up:

  • Go to Settings > Network & internet > Data usage > Data warning & limit (or Data limit & billing cycle) to set your maximum amount of data you want to use for the month.
  • Or, tap “App data usage cycle” to set the first day of your billing cycle.

Apple devices don’t include the same built-in feature to restrict your data usage. To keep an eye on your cellular data use on your Apple iOS device go to:

  • Settings > Cellular or Settings > Mobile Data. (On an iPad, it may be Settings > Cellular Data)
  • You can also reset your data usage for the “Current Period” here every month so you know how much you’re using each billing cycle.

4 – Update apps over Wi-Fi only – If your apps are set to update automatically, they may be draining your data over a cellular network.  You can set your device to update apps over Wi-Fi only to reduce your cellphone bill. Once you do that, the apps will only update and use data when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.

  • Android, go to the Play Store and tap Menu > Settings > Auto-update apps, then select “Auto-update apps over Wi-Fi only.
  • iOS, go to Settings > App Store > scroll to “Cellular Data” and toggle “Automatic Downloads” to the off position.

Disable background app data

5 – Disable app data in the background – Some apps will continue to gather data in the background while you’re not using your phone. This may be a good feature for a news app, but not every app needs this feature. To turn this feature off for your apps

  • Android, go to Settings > Data Usage to see which apps are using the most data. Tap on the app you’d like to restrict and disable background data.
  • iOS, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. Here, you can choose whether you want this feature on or off completely, or just WiFi only. You can also toggle this on and off for individual apps.

6 – Disable display ads for your browser. Display ads auto-play videos that stream to your phone, so if you have a browser that helps you disable these ads, you save plenty of data and reduce your cell phone bill.

Turn off your phone

7 – Turn off your phone while asleep. It is likely that throughout the night, data will be used on the phone, especially if applications are running. You could save a lot of data and money over time by trying out this hack.

8 – Compress your updates. There are applications that can make your data usage around 5 times more efficient by compressing it. Take a look at the apps.

The downside, however, is that the company will be aware of the data you’re accessing. It all depends on if that is a price you’re willing to pay.

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If these hacks fail to reduce your reduce your cell phone bill, you have the option to change to a plan with a data limit in order to reduce your cell phone bill.

Stay safe out there !

Related article

 

Ralph Bach has been in IT long enough to know better and has blogged from his Bach Seat about IT, careers, and anything else that catches his attention since 2005. You can follow him at LinkedInFacebook and Twitter. Email the Bach Seat here.