Information Technology related posts

When was the last time you cleaned out your laptop bag or briefcase?

By Jason Terry, talking about spring cleaning your laptop bag or briefcase. Especially if it’s been years.

I was at a client’s office recently and I needed an HDMI cable to connect my laptop to their wall-mounted big screen TV. I’ve kept an HDMI cable in my bag for years, but it was only 6 feet long. And bulky. And it wouldn’t reach the TV from the conference table we were at.

Blue Gurus: Spring Cleaning Laptop BagI went to my trusted source for just about everything… Amazon.com. And I found a 15 foot slim HDMI cable that was about $10 bucks. Kansas City is one of those lucky cities that can get same day or next day delivery from Amazon.com for free. And the next day, my shiny new cable showed up.

When I started putting the new HDMI cable in my laptop bag, I realized there were a couple of other cables that were past due to be replaced or upgraded. And that’s when I knew it was time to really take stock of what was in my bag.

Time to purge the bag.

I took every single thing out and arranged the items on a table. There were some really old cables that needed to be upgraded. The in-ear headphones had been in my bag for more than 5 years… so time for some new Sony Extra Bass headphones. USB-C is a new cable used with newer devices… and I had none in my bag. Oh, and I remember loaning a client a CAT-6 cable and hadn’t replaced it. And then wondered why the heck I’ve been carrying around a mini LEGO Star Wars tie fighter set in my bag… for years.

I ended up getting rid of almost two-thirds of what was in my laptop bag. Some items were given away… and some thrown away. And I made a list of things that would be useful to have in my newly reorganized bag.

The Shopping List

So for a little over $100, I have all the cables I need when I’m on the go. And better sound. And a little breeze.

When was the last time you went through your laptop bag or briefcase? If it’s been a while, maybe this story will inspire you to go through the same process… and if you do, please tell me about it! I hope my shopping list has given you some good ideas of things to keep in your bag or briefcase.

How WhatsApp Helps Me Build Personal and Professional Relationships

Post written by Mic Johnson, talking about how WhatsApp helps build personal and professional relationships

WhatsApp Mobile

WhatsApp is a FREE, quick, easy-to-use secure messaging (and calling) application available on Android, iPhone, and more.

According to their website: “More than 1 billion people in over 180 countries use WhatsApp to stay in touch with friends and family, anytime and anywhere. WhatsApp is free and offers simple, secure, reliable messaging and calling, available on phones all over the world. And yes, the name WhatsApp is a pun on the phrase What’s Up. (also data charges may apply.)”

WhatsApp lets you send texts, photos, videos, documents as well as make voice calls. Even better, messages and calls are secured with end-to-end encryption, meaning no third party can read or listen to what you’re doing.

I’ve really enjoyed using WhatsApp over the last several months. It’s really helped me build on some of the personal and professional relationships I have and keep in touch with some of the people and topics I care most about.

I Have Three WhatsApp Groups

1. YITB

This is a group of 12 friends of mine, which includes some friends from college and even a few guys I’ve known since grade school.

We talk about all kinds of things, from the Chiefs to the Royals to the Jayhawks…to pictures from vacations…to using the app to get the group together to watch games, play TopGolf, and more.

I’ve been the “unofficial social chairman” for my group of friends for years and WhatsApp, hands down, has been the best thing that’s ever happened to our group. We stay in touch and feel more connected to each other now than we have in years. This is especially true for the out-of-town guys.

To date, we’ve shared 1,321 messages, links, pictures, etc. using WhatsApp.

Jeff Pelaccio WhatsApp

2. Introducing Awesome 2

This is one of my peer advisory groups. We meet in-person once a month to talk about business and life, but I wanted a way for us to stay connected in between meetings, so I pitched the idea of using WhatsApp.

There are 10 of us using the app to stay in touch. We share success stories in business and life, pictures, videos, and one of our members, Jeff Pelaccio, shares inspirational or thought provoking quotes with the group every morning.

We’ve only used it for a few months now, but everyone agrees it’s nice to have an easy way to have “touch points” in between meetings and share what’s going on in our lives and careers.

3. JAYTALKERS

As many of you now, I’m a huge Kansas Jayhawk Basketball fan (though it’s been pretty rough over the last couple of weeks with back-to-back losses for the first time in a long time.)

So this group has five guys who love to talk about Jayhawk basketball as much as I do. We just got started using the app after years of back and forth emails that cluttered up our inboxes.

It’s been great to have passionate fans to ride the ups and downs on the games with and sharing any “inside scoop” we get about the team.

In Summary

I LOVE WhatsApp because it helps me stay in touch with people I care about and offers and easy and secure way for us to share and discuss things we all care about. It’s just one more way to build quality personal and professional relationships.

If you have a group of people you’d like to stay in closer contact with, I highly recommend giving WhatsApp a try today!

Tech Tip: Want to know where your phone or keys are at? Use Tile trackers.

By Jason Terry, talking about Tile Trackers for keeping track of your stuff!

Blue Gurus: Tile TrackersIt’s been a while since I did a tech tip. The first thing that came to mind that’s helped me out recently are Tile trackers. I initially heard about Tile from my friend Andrew Kneisler, and then from my wife Trista. It had come up enough that I decided to buy one to see what the fuss was all about.

If you haven’t heard of Tile before, they are small devices that you can attach to your keys or anything else that you want to keep track of. A mobile app on your phone allows you to connect to these trackers through a Bluetooth connection.

With the tap of a button on the mobile app, you can make your Tile ring. This lets you find whatever it’s attached to. The only requirement is that your phone needs to be within Bluetooth range of your Tile for this to work. Depending on the version of Tile you buy, the range is somewhere between 30 and 200 feet. (In my experience, the range is good with the basic tracker.)

The Bluetooth connection works both ways. You can also click the Tile to make your phone ring. What’s great about that is you can find your phone or your keys as long as you haven’t misplaced BOTH of them.

Phone & Keys

I’m pretty disciplined when it comes to keeping track of my phone and keys. But every so often, I can’t find my phone. And sometimes I have no idea where I left my keys. It usually happens when I am distracted doing other things when I get home.

Now that I have a Tile on my keys, and the Tile app on my phone, I never have a problem finding either! It’s happened enough that I appreciate the simple functionality the Tile gives me.

Luggage

Recently, Trista and I went on vacation. She’d read that people use Tile trackers in their luggage. So we decided to try it out. It worked really well! We knew when our luggage had made it to the plane we were on. This worked for each leg of the flights. We also knew when our luggage was coming out of the baggage carousel. Nifty. From the picture below, can you guess where we went?

Blue Gurus in Rome

Tile trackers cost around $35 each or $25 when you buy a multi-pack. The battery is not user replaceable, so once it stops working, you have to buy a replacement. (The app lets you know when it’s time to replace your Tile.) But Tile offers discounted pricing for replacements and the battery life is guaranteed for a year. For me, it’s worth it.

Do you use Tile? Let me know if you try one out!

Tech Tip: Wi-Fi Calling Next Time You’re At The Lake!

By Jason Terry, talking about Wi-Fi Calling

Recently I went to the lake with some of my business friends. We’re part of a peer advisory group together and go to the lake a couple of times a year. The goal is to have more focused time together. To strengthen our relationships. But most importantly, to have some fun.

One of the challenges when going to the lake is that cell reception is spotty at best. In many places, there’s no service at all. I mentioned this to Jason Moxness and he gave me a solution to my problem. (Kudos to Moxness for inspiring this blog post!)

Wi-Fi Calling

Blue Gurus: WiFi CallingDid you know that newer phones can make and receive calls and texts using an internet connection? Normally, your phone is using a cellular connection to handle calls and texts, but everything stops when your cell coverage is low or non-existent. All you need to make this work is a phone that supports Wi-Fi calling and a Wi-Fi internet connection.

The house we were staying at had great Wi-Fi, so once I made the setting change in my phone, I was able to call and text like normal. Awesome.

It was a bit embarrassing that a banker taught me something technical.

I am usually the technical one solving his problems. Case in point, he had an email sync problem that involved IMAP settings and Google Email Folder view settings that I fixed for him earlier that day. It’s a good reminder that nobody has all the answers and it’s important to ask for help when you are struggling with something.

911 Calls

The only thing that’s a bit weird about switching from cellular calling to Wi-Fi calling is how 911 calls are handled. Normally, when you make a 911 call and you’re connected to a cell tower, the operator has a very good idea of where you are physically located. That changes drastically when you are calling over Wi-Fi because your location depends on your internet service provider network. In layman’s terms, I could be calling from the Lake of the Ozarks and it look like I am calling from St. Louis.

As a result, when you switch to Wi-Fi calling on your phone, you have to accept some terms and conditions related to 911 calls. You also have to specify the physical address that you would want 911 responders to go to in the case of an emergency. It’s something to be mindful of and understand if you start using Wi-Fi calling a lot.

(I decided to turn Wi-Fi calling off when I got back to Kansas City. In the event of an emergency, I don’t want responders going to my house!)

Setting Wi-Fi Calling up on an iPhone

Go to Settings | Phone | Wi-Fi Calling. Drag the little slider to the ON position and follow the prompts.

Setting Wi-Fi Calling up on Android Phones

Open the Settings app on your Android phone and tap the “More” or “More Settings” button under Wireless & network. You’ll see a “Wi-Fi Calling” option on the next screen – activate it to enable the feature. If you don’t want to use Wi-FI calling, you can disable it from here, too. This option won’t show up unless you’re using a phone with Wi-Fi calling support..

I hope this was a helpful tip… I’ve asked quite a few people if they knew about this capability on their phones. Based on a survey of about 20 people, more than half of them were aware this was possible. I was in the minority that DIDN’T know. It was really useful to learn that Wi-Fi calling was available on my iPhone!

P.S. If you were wondering how my step discipline is going, I’m still walking at least 10,000 steps every day. I walked a total of 36 miles last week.

A Little Story About LinkedIn Training and FreeConferenceCall.com

Post written by Mic Johnson, Blog Coach | LinkedIn Trainer | WordPress Website Guy | Rational Optimist | Jayhawk | Sushi Lover | @MJMeetings Husband

This past July I was invited by my good (and totally awesome) friend Jamie Gagnon, National Sales Manager at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, to do several short LinkedIn presentations for 70+ Meeting Planners for their annual Wynn Forum event.

diane-goodman-liDuring my time in Vegas and leading up to the event, I’d heard the name Diane Goodman several times because she and her team booked several of the other speakers for the event.

Diane is the owner of Goodman Speakers Bureau and they’ve been booking keynote speakers for events since 1979.

Unfortunately (and a NetworkingFAIL on my part), I saw Diane a couple of times but we never had a chance to talk to one another. Thankfully she saw my LinkedIn Presentation and it sparked her interest. About a week or two after I returned to Kansas City, I got an email from Diane asking what it would take to train her team on how to utilize LinkedIn more effectively.

We had a phone conversation where I laid out how we typically deliver our LinkedIn Training. I let her know that we typically do these training sessions in person for a wide variety of reasons…primarily because in-person training allows us to read the room and engage and interact with the participants.

goodmanspeakerslogoDiane understood but asked if I could do the LinkedIn training virtually. I told her what it would take to get it done, she signed the proposal, and we were on our way.

The only thing I needed to figure out next was which free service I could use that would allow me to do a conference call, screen sharing and maybe even video if I needed it.

So I did a little research and the one I landed on for this training session was FreeConferenceCall.com. It was super easy to set up an account and I was impressed by the several great free features they offered.

Diane and I did a “test run” of the service a few days before the training and everything worked great. A few days later, I did a 2-hour virtual LinkedIn Training session covering just about everything I know about LinkedIn, including what makes a great LinkedIn profile, how to personalize LinkedIn invitations and more. FreeConferenceCall.com worked like a charm.

The audio was clear, the screen sharing worked perfectly, and I was even able to pull myself up on video at the beginning of the session to introduce myself to the team. (I then quickly turned the video off because I didn’t want my big smiling face to be a distraction during the training session.)

freeconferencecall-comDiane said the training went well and that her team would be working on their profiles and using LinkedIn more regularly going forward.

I was happy that she and her team felt the training was beneficial and now they know how to leverage LinkedIn better for themselves and for the business.

And while my preference is still to do LinkedIn training face-to-face with organizations and their teams, FreeConferenceCall.com worked perfectly for this situation.

When I told Jason about this virtual training session, he found the following article online: Top 10 Conference Call Services of 2016. Each has their own features/benefits/limitations and it’s a great list if you find yourself in a similar situation where you’re looking for a free or cost-effective solution.  

Have you used FreeConferenceCall.com or any similar service? Let me know what you think and share your comments below so that we and our readers can learn from your experience.

If you and your team are interested in learning how to better leverage LinkedIn for your business, email me at mic@bluegurus.com or call me at 913-645-6650.

iPhone User? You’re Going To Want GBoard

Post author: Mic Johnson

micanddougI recently received a tweet from my good friend Doug Seaberg with a link and the words…

“I installed it and it is terrific.”

When I clicked the link, it took me to an article with a video that talked about a sweet new keyboard called GBoard for iPhone users. In short, GBoard:

-Allows you to easily glide across the keyboard to type.

-Provides a Google Search bar right above the keyboard that lets you search for restaurants, pictures, GIFs and more. And you don’t have to leave whatever app you’re using to do it.

-Let’s you easily share your search results with people you’re texting or chatting with. This is particularly useful when you’re wanting to share an address, an article, video, etc.

Personally, I’m a big fan of sending GIFs and images when I’m communicating with others via text, social networks, etc. I think it’s just a fun way to humanize interactions…and this app makes it super simple to do.

Major kudos to Google for doing what they do best…finding a way to save people time and make something that already existed even more functional and easy to use, all while incorporating what they’re best known for (SEARCH). Now if I could just get them to abandon that darn Google+ experiment.

Watch this short and simple video to see how GBoard works and, if you’re an iPhone user, you can download it here.

{P.S. – This is a perfect example of what we talk to our clients about all the time…Thinking Like A Blogger. This was a simple scenario from my daily life that provided value for me. Doug took the time to help me by sharing the article with me on Twitter. Then I turned around and wrote a blog post about it because I thought it may help some of our readers. This is what social business is all about. Consistently providing value and HELPING PEOPLE. If you and your company are blogging, you should be thinking this way…ALWAYS. If your company isn’t blogging yet but thinking about it, this is the mindset you need. Finally, if you want an accountability partner to help you get your blog up and running like a machine, email me at mic@bluegurus.com.}

 

Jason’s Thoughts on Google Fiber

Hi there! It’s Jason with this week’s blog post and I decided to write about my recent experience getting Google Fiber installed at my home. Some of this is going to be technical… I will try to put that in little sections that you can skip if you don’t care about the technical stuff. :)

Google Fiber VanI had Google Fiber installed on Monday, May 10th. Two Google Fiber vans showed up a couple of minutes before our scheduled install time of 8am. [+1 happy]

My primary tech was John. He had me walk him through the house to understand where I needed the Google TV tuner boxes to be and where I wanted the main Google network box to be installed. He put on protective shoe covers to make sure he wasn’t tracking anything into the house. [+1 happy]

The installation took about 3 hours which is the expectation that Google set with me before the appointment. My install was a bit more technical than most because I have a TV on every floor and a somewhat complicated network with lots of connected devices. (Things like wireless lighting, SONOS speakers, etc.) Also, one of the TV tuner boxes wasn’t working well out of the box and had to be replaced and the new one configured. I loved that they caught that and took care of it for me with a smile. [+1 happy]

The only thing I could complain about during installation is that John’s backup technician forgot to close the access to the attic and cleaned mud off his shoes on my front concrete step. [-1 happy] But those are minor things considering everything else went so well.

How Does Google Fiber Work?

Google Fiber Speed TestGoogle Fiber is basically ten times faster than most internet connections in people’s homes around Kansas City.

When I was up and running, I ran a speed test on my internet connection. My download speed was 921 Mbps and my upload speed was 942 Mbps. That and HD programming on 3 TVs for $130/month. [+136 happy]

My previous internet service provider was giving me 85 Mbps download and 6 Mbps upload for $140/month. And it was a crappy, latency filled connection that could barely stream Netflix without buffering. [-467 happy]

What Does It Mean For Daily Use?

The simple answer is that everything works so much better. When I click “play” to watch a YouTube video or Netflix show, it starts almost immediately and never buffers. When I download or upload large files, the progress meter moves so much faster.

I decided to try and “break” the bandwidth. I started streaming Netflix on 2 different devices while downloading a 3 Gigabyte movie from my Vudu account and playing Rocket League at the same time.

IT. ALL. WORKED. FLAWLESSLY. I was amazed.

Technical Stuff

I have a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 wireless router. It’s a top of the line WiFi router that gives me complete coverage on any floor in my house. When Google Fiber is installed, they typically use their network box to provide WiFi to the house, but it is wireless N and doesn’t have the range or bandwidth capabilities that my Nighthawk does. I had to configure my Nighthawk as an Access Point in the router admin and then connect it to the Google Network box. The GNB assigned it an IP (that I could see when logging into http://fiber.google.com and clicking the Network tab.) I then had to use that IP address to log into the router admin for additional setup of Wireless settings.

So Trista asked me, “what about all the people that aren’t technical? What are they supposed to do?”

My answer is that a lot of people won’t know that they aren’t taking full advantage of Google Fiber speeds. What they experienced with their previous provider was so bad when compared to Google Fiber that it’s going to feel like things are a lot better, even when using the Google Network box for everything. I did a speed test from my iPad connected via WiFi to the Nighthawk and was getting around 275 Mbps. A friend of mine in our neighborhood did the same test connected to the Google Network box WiFi and was getting less than 100 Mbps. But it worked as good or better as before, their wired connections to computers were super fast and their TVs worked great. So their overall impression was good.

Conclusion

Google Fiber is awesome. I love it. It’s available in lots of neighborhoods in Kansas City and is becoming a decision factor for people looking to buy or rent a home (I know this from working with my good friends at Home Rental Services.)

If your neighborhood doesn’t have Google Fiber yet, you should really pay attention to when it becomes available. Click here to see if Google Fiber is available at your address!

Do Not Disturb: The Life Changing iPhone Setting

Post author: Mic Johnson

GroupTextHave you ever been added to a group text and found yourself in “group text hell” when person after person responds back with “Awesome!”, “Great photo!”, “Cool!”, etc. and then your text notification goes off again and again and again and again and again?

(You know what’s REALLY fun? I typically have my phone on vibrate and my text notification is actually a series of 4-5 vibrations…so take that, and multiply it by the number of texts in a typical group text, and it sounds like I’ve got a bunch of bees having a party in my front right pocket.)

If you’ve ever found yourself in this annoying scenario, I’ve got great news for you. THERE’S A WAY OUT! (This is for iPhone users. It also has to be done on each specific group text. It doesn’t remember the setting for all future group texts.)

1. Click on the group text message.

2. In the upper right hand corner, you’ll see “Details”. Click on that.

DoNotDisturb3. You’ll see the list of all of the people included in the group text. Scroll down.

4. Get really excited as you realize that your life is about to change.

5. There it is…DO NOT DISTURB. Move the little slider over and you’ll get no more audio or vibrate notifications for the group text!

6. Compose yourself.

7. Wipe away the tears of joy.

8. Get on with your day!

LifeChanged

 

It’s Official. If Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly, Google Won’t Like You.

Hi friends!  It’s Jason with this week’s blog post.

I hope the title of this post got your attention.  Because it should.  It’s official.  Google is going to start penalizing you in search engine results if your website isn’t mobile friendly.

April 21, 2015 – The clock is ticking.

Here’s a quote from Google’s blog that I think you should read… (for the whole blog post, click here.)

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

You may appear on the first or second page of Google search results today.  Once Google changes their ranking system, it’s likely your position will drop if your site isn’t mobile friendly.  If your competitors have a mobile friendly site, there is a good chance they’ll appear higher in the results than you do.  Keep in mind, this is going to apply to searches done from a mobile device.  That said, we typically see between 25% and 50% of traffic to our client sites done from a mobile device when reviewing Google Analytics reports.

I talked about this back in a blog post in February, but wanted to follow up now that it is official.

Companies are getting notices from Google that their website isn’t mobile friendly.

Have you gotten an email from Google like the one below?

NotMobileFriendly

Google is doing their best to let companies know there’s a problem before they make the changes to search rankings.  If not, your website developer probably hasn’t hooked up Google Webmaster Tools for your site.  (And if you’re a current website client, you haven’t gotten this because your site is already mobile friendly!)

Test Your Site

If you didn’t test your site back in February when I first mentioned it, this is another reminder for you to do it.  Simply click on this link, type in your website address and click Analyze.  You’ll know in less than a minute where you stand.

If you need help getting a new site in place that’s mobile friendly, give me a call or shoot me an email!

It’s 2015. Is Your Website Mobile Ready?

Post by Jason Terry

Mobile Ready 2015Did you know that more people use a mobile device to access the internet than a PC or Mac?  Do a search on Google for “website traffic from mobile higher than desktop” and you will see about 259 million results with more information.

I did you a favor and grabbed three of my favorites from the first 50 results:

What Does This Mean For You?

The fact that more people use their cell phone or table to access the internet has been missed by many businesses.  Pull up ten websites of companies that you do business with… I’d be surprised if more than two or three of them are mobile friendly.  You can test their sites as well as your own with the free tool from Google that I link to below.  Odds are your site isn’t mobile friendly either.

Potential Penalty in Google Search Results

There are rumors that Google is going to start giving more credit to mobile friendly sites when presenting search engine results.  In other words, if your competitor’s website is mobile friendly, it could be listed before yours just because it’s mobile friendly.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I think it makes complete sense, especially if the search was done from a mobile device (and Google knows that when it happens.) Read more