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How to Build Your Savings Using Technology
Posted by S2C Staff on 08 January 2019 12:25 PM

What's New in Technology January 2019

How to Build Your Savings Using Technology

How to Build Your Savings Using TechnologyAccording to a study by Cornell University, the human brain is wired to earn money more so than save it. As such, when we find we need more money in our lives, our instinct is to earn more and not spend less. In fact, this instinct tends to grow over time, and is one reason why people tend to spend more money when they receive a salary increase rather than save it.

However, researchers believe that by being cognizant of this fact, we can take proactive measures to develop effective savings habits. One way to do this is by using new technology to make saving easier. The following are a few high-tech examples.

  • Set up your bank account to make automatic transfers between your checking and savings account on a regular basis. When you are able to reduce or eliminate a regular expense, set up an automated transferal of that fixed amount. For example, if you start taking your lunch to work each day for savings of $50 a week, automatically transfer $50 each week from your checking to your savings account. That $200 a month in savings can build up quickly.
  • Go online to shop for a savings account at an internet bank. These virtual companies generally offer a higher interest rate on savings accounts since they have lower overhead expenses than a brick and mortar bank. This one move can help your savings compound faster.
  • Download an app designed to help manage your spending habits and automatically transfer money to a savings account every time you make a significant savings decision (like buy a washing machine for $50 less than the one you were considering). Consider popular apps such as Digit, Clarity Money or Saver Life.
  • Consider using an app that helps you delve into the world of investing with small sums of money. These apps offer information and tips to help you understand the basics of investing and make it easy to set up automatic transfers to an investment account. Consider popular apps such as Stash or Acorns.
  • Delete any credit card numbers you have stored at your favorite online stores or on your browser. While saved information is convenient, it is more likely to encourage impulse buying. The longer it takes to input your payment information for each purchase, the more time you have to consider whether or not you really need to buy that item.
  • Unplug your computers, televisions and cable boxes when you’re not using them, as they use energy even when they are turned off. One easy way to do this is to use grounded power strips to turn off several electronics at once.
  • Purchase and install a timer device that automatically adjusts your home’s thermostat. ENERGY STAR reports that reducing the thermostat by 7 degrees to 10 degrees, eight hours a day, can reduce heating and cooling costs by as much as 10 percent a year.

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ICFiles Downtime
Posted by S2C Staff on 08 January 2019 12:05 PM
ICFiles Notice:

This is to inform our clients of an unplanned maintenance we had to perform on the pod running your
Due to performance and stability issues we detected, we have performed a move of your VSI to a new host as a preventative measure.

We apologize for any inconvenience this is causing. 

Thank you,

Charles K.
Compute SRE
IBM Cloud
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6 Great Ways to Unplug and Feel Better
Posted by S2C Staff on 05 October 2018 01:19 PM

Tip of the Month October 2018

6 Great Ways to Unplug and Feel Better

6 Great Ways to Unplug and Feel BetterYou’ve just lost your phone and you’re in full-on panic mode. When you locate said electronic device, all is well. You heave a sigh of relief. All of this begs the question: Why and how have we become so dependent on our phones? Though doing without a phone entirely is probably not realistic or in some cases necessary, here are a few ways to ramp off your addiction – and why unplugging is so important for your overall well-being.

  1. Don’t Take Your Phone to Bed
    Research shows that blue light from the phone screen makes it hard to fall asleep. Wayne Conn, a sleep coordinator at Texoma Medical Center, claims that it wakes up the brain and causes it to be overstimulated, much the way exercising before going to bed prevents our bodies from relaxing. Idea: Put the phone down two hours before you retire for the evening, maybe in another room. If you need to make a call, use a land line. When you do this, chances are you’ll sleep better and wake up refreshed.
  2. Let Go of FOMO
    FOMO is the acronym for “fear of missing out”. In fact, Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind, told CNBC that most people check their phones every 15 minutes or less for fear of not being in the know about whatever local or world crisis might be in play. Truth is, if it’s that important, you’ll hear about it on TV, the radio or from a friend. Acquiescing to this phenomenon creates anxiety and interferes with your ability to focus. To avoid all this stress, let go and let live.
  3. Set Alarms to Wean Yourself Off
    Relegate your phone checking to certain times, which might be after work or after dinner. Next, set alarms on your phone during these times so that you can take one deep dive into your phone, respond to emails and comment on social media. Better still, Rosen suggests a radical idea: tell friends and family that you might not be responding to messages as quickly as you used to. Talk about liberating! No longer will you be a slave to the world.
  4. Remove Distracting Apps from Your Phone
    To avoid accidental time-sucks, remove apps that seem to lure you in and hold you hostage, such as social media sites and games. Instead, deploy apps for reading or learning a new language. If you really want to see who has had a new baby or been on a fabulous vacation, you can do it on your desk computer or laptop. The takeaway? Now when you’re interacting with your phone, you’ll be contributing to your mental health and personal growth, rather than taking away from it.
  5. Rely More on Smart Speakers
    Step away from the screen. Give your thumbs a rest. Use your voice to do the heavy lifting with smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google’s Home Products. These blue light-free devices can answer virtually any question you have, as well as turn on music or a podcast. When you’re not glued to your phone, you’ll enjoy life a whole lot more.
  6. Try Replacement Therapy
    Finally, instead of reaching for your phone, pick up a book. Talk to your coworker, spouse or neighbor. If we’re honest, human interactions far more satisfying than a tiny rectangular screen.

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Cyberattack Prevention Planning
Posted by S2C Staff on 07 September 2018 01:01 PM

What's New in Technology September 2018

Cyberattack Prevention Planning

Cyberattack Prevention Planning

Every year we experience new challenges in the world of computer hacking – as well as new solutions. Cyber hackers have become aggressive, and so business owners must be more vigilant. Because clients are the source of your revenue, it is critically important to ensure their data never gets into the wrong hands.According to a recent survey conducted by the Better Business Bureau, more than half of small business owners reported they would no longer be profitable just one month following a data breach.According to Bill Fanelli, the chief security officer for the Council of Better Business Bureaus and co-author of the report, a primary vulnerability for small businesses is the carelessness of its employees. In fact, Fanelli observed that one of the most cost-effective prevention tools – employee education – is used by less than half of the companies surveyed. All it takes is for just one employee to click on a nefarious link or open an infected attachment for a cyber attacker to walk through an open door to your business.In many cases, business owners simply need to make employees aware of the types of behaviors that enable hackers to breach system security. To this end, the easiest prevention plan is to periodically conduct brief training sessions to reiterate the importance of:

  • Choosing a strong password
  • Changing the password often
  • Installing software updates as soon as alerts are received
  • Avoiding opening suspicious emails or online links
  • Never downloading unauthorized software or apps on company computers or smartphones
Firms should conduct a full assessment to protect their business from data breaches at least once a year. Also, it is recommended that business owners ensure all transactions are secured through solutions such as:
  • Automated Clearing House payments – an electronic network for financial transactions
  • Secure Point of Service terminals – an electronic device used to process card payments
One way to help protect your financial transactions is to consult with your small business banker for a review of your current transaction management services to ensure you’re doing all you can to protect your business and your customers.How to Develop a Cybersecurity PlanConsider using this five-step approach to help prevent your firm from being vulnerable to a data breach:
  1. Devise a step-by-step written communication plan detailing how your firm will conduct ongoing monitoring and maintenance, and recover normal operations should a cyber attack occur
  2. Identify at-risk assets, such as systems, data and financial operations
  3. Protect each asset by using tools such as IT security, off-site/cloud backup and vendor protection measures
  4. Develop an automatic alert system to detect incidents that indicate current or imminent threats to system integrity and lost or compromised data
  5. Create a response plan that encompasses worse-case scenario and contingency planning, staff training, written procedures, reporting and outreach communications to staff, vendors, customers and the public, if necessary.
Cybersecurity might not be your area of expertise, but your customers rely on you to keep their data safe. It’s important to take precautions to minimize your risk from this ever-growing danger.

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Negative Effects of Social Media on Young Minds
Posted by S2C Staff on 03 August 2018 01:56 AM


August 2018

Negative Effects of Social Media on Young Minds

While social media can be an easy, wonderful way to keep in touch with friends, a means of support and a window into what’s going on in the world, there are downsides for kids of which parents need to be aware. Here is a snapshot of a few of the negative effects:

1. Promotes Addiction

According to a 2016 survey from Common Sense Media, half of the teens surveyed felt addicted to their smartphones; 78 percent checked their devices at least hourly. In 2015, a Pew Research report found that 73 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds not only had access to a smartphone, but 24 percent reported that they were online “almost constantly.” This is not surprising, given a project conducted by researchers at UCLA. During their study, they scanned the brains of a few dozen adolescents as they watched what looked like an Instagram feed. When teens saw that their own pictures had received lots of “Likes”, they showed a greater activation in an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, part of the brain's reward circuitry and one that’s particularly sensitive during adolescence. It’s easy to see how this vulnerable age group – easily influenced by what others think – would crave approval on social media.

2. Causes Depression

This is sobering. A study by the American Psychological Association found that adolescents who spent less time on non-screen activities (in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) and more time on electronic communication and screens (social media, the internet, texting, gaming) had lower psychological well-being. Conversely, teens who spent a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest. In particular, it was found that teens who spent five hours per day using their phones were almost twice as likely to exhibit depressive symptoms than their peers who spent only one hour on their phones.

3. Contributes to Sleep Deprivation

Research has shown that teenagers need 9.5 hours of sleep each night, but on average only get 7.5 hours. But this is no surprise. According to the CDC, teens who spent three or more hours a day on electronic devices were 28 percent more likely to get less than seven hours of sleep. Further, teens who visited social media sites every day were 19 percent more likely not to get adequate sleep. Furthermore, an article in The Guardian stated that teens are so addicted to social media that one-fifth of secondary school kids will wake up at night to check social media to make sure they don’t miss out. This “fear of missing out” (aka FOMO) is another detrimental consequence of kids spending too time on social media.  

4. Might Lead to Identity Theft

An article on stated one of the big problems with social media sites is that many times kids don’t read or understand the privacy settings of their accounts. They are clueless about the risks of disclosing unnecessary personal information. According to a recent survey referenced on this website, 20 percent of youth think it’s perfectly safe to post their personal information and photos online. Identity theft, anyone?

5. Cyberbullying

This is more widespread than you might think – and it extends beyond the borders of the United States. In 2014, a South Korean survey of kids between 11 and 14 found that 9.7 percent were involved in cyberbullying, either as victims (3.3 percent), perpetrators (3.4 percent) or both (3 percent). In 2009, a Finnish study discovered that out of 5,516 adolescents, 10 percent of the boys had been victims, 10 percent had bullied and 10 percent had witnessed cyberbullying. Among girls, the stats were higher: 11 percent, 9 percent and 16 percent, respectively. For parents, it may be time to think twice when you see your kids glued to their smartphones.

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How To Write Bot-Friendly Copy for Your Website
Posted by S2C Staff on 03 August 2018 01:55 AM


August 2018

How To Write Bot-Friendly Copy for Your Website

How To Write Bot-Friendly Copy for Your WebsitePeople are spending less time “Googling” for information on where to shop, where to eat, where to vacation and where to get the best rates. Instead, many are using bots such as Amazon’s Alexa and iPhone’s Siri to do the browsing for them.

Artificial intelligence (AI) bots do not just conduct data searches, they assess information and make recommendations to consumers based on variables such as location and key phrases. For example, a local search for restaurants might reveal a laundry list of the closest venues. However, a search for a trendy or hopping bar could extend the search further out both geographically and look for those specific phrases.

That’s why it’s important not just to write copy that describes your organization, but use specific words and phrases that appeal to the types of consumers most likely to be interested in your service or wares. Small business owners need to optimize their website copy for today’s bot-friendly search landscape.

Speech Patterns

New AI bots usually are given search instructions via voice commands. For example, “Siri, find a nearby Thai restaurant that has takeout and accepts Discover.” This voice command reflects actual speech patterns, which are different from choosing select keywords that you would type into a search engine. Therefore, the top search results tend to yield websites that use similar phrases with prepositions, questions and comparison words. To provide copy most likely to get picked up by a bot search, consider writing, for example, a FAQ section with questions phrased the same way a customer would ask them.

User Reviews

Bots pick up review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor because the comments provided may closely mimic the initial search question. Consequently, it’s important to stay on top of customer comments about your business. Even if you get a bad review – either on your website or one of the popular social media sites –respond to the commenter and try to resolve the issue in a positive manner. It’s also a good idea to respond and thank each good review. Not only does this project a positive experience for the commenter and readers, but additional comments make it all the more likely that copy will be picked in a bot search.

Establish Credibility

Credibility is established in numerous ways. You need to ensure your website is secure with a safely encrypted HTTPS connection. You should encourage high levels of engagement – comments, reviews and testimonials. You also can establish credibility by sharing external links with high-quality websites. For example, if your products are featured in a national news article or even a local newspaper, quote from or share the article or link and be sure to credit the trustworthy source.

Mix Copy Lengths

There’s a time to be long-winded and a time to be brief and snappy. A well-designed website knows when and where to offer each type of copy. When a consumer browsing for information through a bot or search engine lands on your website, the copy should make it clear that he’s found what he’s looking for. However, those keywords or phrases may be buried in a long-form article meant to be educational or entertaining. Use side copy boxes to highlight brief product or service copy, cite pricing or make similar recommendations in order to give the reader additional quick information in a side glance.

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