Lotus Secure Mail

You have a lot of choices for hosting your email in the cloud from Microsoft to Google. We have found that a few features are important to users…

  • Aggressive SPAM and anti-virus filtering to protect against phishing attacks and ransomware such as WannaCry.
  • Responsive support and management with the ability to customize features such as SPAM filtering, distribution lists, etc.
  • Always on reliability
  • Available from any device or client including web, Outlook, iOS, and Android
  • Single-Sign-On with Active Directory integration

After a lot of research into the best solutions available we have introduced LotusSecureMail.

We utilize the powerful SpamTitan filtering system with double antivirus protection. SpamTitan blocks 99.99% of spam, viruses, malware, and other email threats.

Since Lotus owns the servers we have complete management of LotusSecureMail. Our servers run CentOS Linux running Kerio Connect email server. We have complete access to setup your email experience so that it is perfectly suited to your business. You can also manage your own email server on our systems as well.

You need access to your email anywhere anytime. LotusSecureMail servers are housed in our Virginia datacenter operated by one of the nation’s largest co-location experts. We have multiple Internet connections to provide resiliency and a constant rSoft data backup. Uptime for LotusSecureMail is 99.99861%. The Lotus NOC monitors LotusSecureMail around the clock.

Even though we have chosen Linux due to its reliability, we have licensed Microsoft ActiveSync to provide access to any client. LotusSecureMail works with Outlook with easy setup. We also support mail apps in iOS and Android environments. If you do not want to purchase Outlook we provide a client that is available for Windows and macOS at no charge. A web access client is also available.

Many services require you to maintain two identities with two passwords to access your business network and your cloud-based email service. LotusSecureMail is available with Active Directory synchronization with any current version of Windows Server. No need for multiple servers or only certain versions of Windows Server. Your cloud-based email synchronizes with your on-site Active Directory server.

Sign up for a no-risk 30-day trial today. Lotus takes care of all setup including migrating your current email, calendar, and contacts to our servers.

3 New Windows 10 Features

  1. Win10logoThe Start Menu

For you Windows 7 users, rest easy, because this is here to stay. For the Windows 8 users, the start menu is back with its full functionality – and then some. The aesthetics of the new start menu combine the basics of the start menu from Windows 7 with the sleek tiles that were a part of Windows 8. The customization of this helps you to access what you need much faster and boosts productivity. Open the Start Menu, click on Settings, Personalization, and then Start. Make the Start Menu work for you. Microsoft created a helpful onboarding resource for this feature as well.

  1. Microsoft Edge

Although this is the new web browser, do not worry – Internet Explorer 11 will be available by default in your upgrade. It is worth noting that many business applications remain untested with Microsoft Edge. If you find that Microsoft Edge is popping up as your default browser, this article will help you with that. Remember that super awesome Start Menu we spoke about above? Click in the search bar right next to it, and type “Default Programs.” Open that up, find Internet Explorer on the left, and click on it. There will now be an option to click that states “Set this program as default.”

  1. Search Enhancements

Find anything on your PC. No, really. On the bottom left, to the right of the Start Menu, type a term in that search box. If it doesn’t automatically populate, click on the “My Stuff” icon on the bottom of that pop-up window. Your machine will be scanned for files, applications, pictures – just about anything – containing any or all of that search term within that file name. Don’t catch yourself drilling down through menus trying to find something. Don’t waste your time digging and trying to find that one file you thought you’d never need again. Use this search function to help save time.

3 Microsoft Office Hacks

  1. Edit PDFs

Microsoft_Word_2013_logo_with_backgroundYour PDF files open by default in Adobe. But, what if you want to edit them? You cannot do that within Adobe Reader, and the Adobe software that does let you make changes to PDFs is not cheap. Microsoft Word to the rescue!

Launch Microsoft Word. Attempt to open a document like you normally would by selecting “File” and then “Open.” On the bottom right of the window that pops up, click the drop-down menu. Choose “PDF,” and then browse to the file that you wish to edit. Once you open it, you can make your edits. You may lose some of the formatting in the process, but it’s nothing that you cannot overcome.

  1. Collaborate in Real Time

With Microsoft Office, you and a colleague can edit the same document or spreadsheet at the same time. This feature is actually built into Office 2013. No magic needed. It’s a little bit of a process, but will pay off once configured.

First, save your document, spreadsheet, or presentation – whatever it may be within the Microsoft Office suite – to OneDrive. Once the document is saved, select “File,” “Share” (on the left side of the screen), and then send out your invites.

If all goes accordingly, your colleague on the other end will now be able to review and edit your work in real time. You may need to adjust your Microsoft Office settings in order to do this, but you can always request help from your IT department or an IT services company, if you have any trouble.

  1. Ignore Reply-All Email Annoyances

Logo_Microsoft_Outlook_2013Have you ever been included on one of those spam email threads that have absolutely nothing to do with you, but someone (or multiple people) keep on hitting the reply-all button? Ignore these frequent annoyances with Outlook!

Select the chain of messages. Then, in the top of the Outlook window, to the left of the “Delete” button, you will see “Ignore.” By choosing this command, any future messages will now be sent straight to the Deleted Items folder, helping you cut down on inbox clutter.

If you use Microsoft Office at home and at work every day, these time-saver tips may be just what you need to kick productivity into high gear!

 
If you use Microsoft Office at home and at work every day, these time-saver tips may be just what you need to kick productivity into high gear!

Convertible Notebook Computers

x1-yoga-4-2Cars with convertible roofs have surged and waned in popularity over the years. There have been a variety of soft top and hard top varieties. Some have impacted the market and others fizzled. Convertible notebook computers have suffered the same fate. They haven’t caught on yet as computer makers have tried different approaches.

A convertible notebook computer has rotating/detachable touchscreen so that it can be used as a traditional notebook computer, tablet, or something in between. The something in between can be called tent or presentation mode.

We wrote a related article recently about replacing your notebook computer with an iPad pro.

There seem to be a few challenges for convertible notebook computers. The biggest is the bulk of the machines though it is improving. An iPad Pro weighs in at 1.57 pounds versus the Apple Air 2 which weighs in at 0.96 pounds. Other entries in this category carry a similar amount of heft.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S 1.53 pounds
Microsoft Surface Book 1.6 pounds
Lenovo Miix 700 1.7 pounds
Microsoft Surface Pro 4 1.73 pounds

These are all considered tablets with keyboards. Moving into a true convertible adds at a minimum of an additional pound.

Lenovo Yoga 3 11 2.6 pounds
Dell XPS 12 9250 2.8 pounds (detachable)
Lenovo ThinkPad X260 2.86 pounds
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 260 2.9 pounds
Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 2.90 pounds

By the way, if you’re looking to just save weight there are some 14” and 15.6” laptops that are very svelte.

Model Screen Size Weight
LG Gram 14 14.0” 2.16 lbs
LG Gram 15 15.6 2.2 lbs
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4th gen 14.0” 2.6 lbs

 

Construction and Durability

A convertible has more complicated moving parts than a standard clamshell notebook computer and much more so than a tablet. In our experience, we have not seen more issues with the complicated hinges or detachable screens. We still see far more standard clamshell notebook computers with hinge issues. That being said, the lower-end clamshells tend to have more structural issues versus the more expensive clamshell notebooks or convertibles in our experience.

Replacement batteries can also be a challenge in convertible notebook computers. Most clamshell notebooks, but not all, have user-replaceable batteries. Many convertible and tablet-based computers have batteries that need to be replaced by opening the case.

Usability and Processing Speed

The internals of convertible notebook computers are nearly identical to their clamshell counterparts. They all use the same memory, storage, and processors. You will not find any usability differences between a convertible and a clamshell with the same specifications. One caveat could be cooling. The larger case of a clamshell computer does allow more active cooling so ostensibly there could be slightly higher performance.

Final Verdict

Ultimately it comes down to personal choice and how you use your notebook computer. If you find yourself in a situation where a tablet or presentation type situation a convertible can be highly useful. A great application for a convertible is if you are in a standing position and you need to access information. Another is when you are meeting with an individual or small group and you need to present data on your screen. A convertible can provide a less awkward presentation than a typical clamshell notebook computer.

It is good to get your hands on a convertible notebook computer or at least watch some in-depth YouTube reviews. If your purchasing a fleet of convertible computers for your team a Lotus salesperson can setup a demo for you at your site and possibly even provide a test unit to your personnel to test drive.

Lotus WannaCrypt Ransomware Worm Statement

WannaCry-Wanna-Cry-Logo-White-on-BlueLotus personnel have been closely monitoring the WannaCrypt ransomware worm since Friday. Once it was understood that the worm was taking advantage of Windows systems via a flaw in Server Message Block we reviewed the patch status of systems we manage for this specific patch.

As of Friday, 100% of systems managed by Lotus were patched to cover Microsoft bug MS17-010. Most workstations had been patched by early April after we had tested this patch that been released in March. The few exceptions were workstations that had been refurbished after early April.

As a WebRoot amabassador we were also able to join an early conversation with their engineers to confirm that they had developed definitions to identify and stop the malware as well. WebRoot is installed on 98% of the systems that we manage. Others are monitored by another appropriate solution.

Lotus does utilize automated systems to monitor system patching, but a standard operationg procedure dictates that a human reviews patch status across all servers and workstations every Thursday. At that time we schedule manual patch installation with our team during the next patch window that it is unique for each client based on their work schedule.

In more than five years Lotus has not experienced a widespread malware or virus infection on our client’s managed systems. Our system of bug review, patch testing, installation, and installation review is well honed and works very well.

If you would like more information about WannaCrypt review these articles…
Webroot blog – https://www.webroot.com/blog/2017/05/13/wannacry-ransomware-webroot/

The Register article – https://m.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/13/wannacrypt_ransomware_worm/

To view live infections via Intel – https://intel.malwaretech.com/botnet/wcrypt/?t=24h&bid=all

Thank you for your business. We take our role as your computer security expert very seriously and strive to maintain a thorough system for prevention and protection.

Maria Partridge
CEO
Lotus Management Services, Inc.

Trouble with Static IP Addresses

The Trouble with Static IP Addressesnetwork-cable-ethernet-computer-159304

A recent experience with a bad IP address was an eye opener. It caused a considerable financial loss for the business.

First let me explain what is an IP address…

Every device you have that is connected to the Internet or a network has an IP (Internet Protocol) address. Whether it is a smartphone, computer, printer, surveillance camera, etc. it must have an IP address to be joined to a network. On any given network, your IP address must be unique. A common IP address of home routers is 192.168.1.1.

Most of the time IP addresses are assigned by a device called a DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) server. For home users, this is embedded in your router. Many businesses use this function in a server. Your home or business network is also assigned an IP address by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The address handed out by your ISP usually changes every day or so, but sometimes it can be more or less frequent.

IP addresses on your local devices in your home or business such as on your computer or printer are called private IP addresses. The IP address assigned to your business or home on the Internet is considered a public IP address.

Why would you need a public static IP address…?

Sometimes you need to have a public IP address that never changes. You need a static IP address. A static IP address allows you to host a web site or email server or security cameras. A static IP address allows your web site or email server or security cameras to be found on the Internet.

You have a fixed mailing address for your home or business. The combination of our business address (6900 Tavistock Lakes Blvd, Suite 400, Orlando, FL 32827) is truly unique. Your full business or home address is truly unique as well. Enter your full address into Google Maps and you only get one choice. That is how to think of a static IP address.

Because there are a finite number of public static IP addresses available so your ISP will charge for a static IP address. Typically, the cost is $10 a month, but that can vary. You can buy one public static IP address or a block of a few up to several. There are currently 588,514,304 static IP addresses available.

Here is where the trouble starts

We had a business that needed to implement an in-house email server. We were on a tight deadline. The first task we completed was ordering a public static IP address from the business owner’s ISP. The next day the ISP sent a technician on site to setup the static IP address. We proceeded with the email server setup and all was good.

Or so we thought. The business owner started getting email messages that bounced back. We checked our work and confirmed we had done everything correctly in regards to email server setup and email domain settings.

We quickly figured out that the public static IP addressed was blacklisted. This means that the address was on a list referenced by email providers to check for SPAM email.

A quick call to the ISP netted the business a new static IP address. A follow up check while we were still on the phone revealed that the new address was also blacklisted. This process went on for nearly an hour. The ISP would issue a public IP address and it would fail a blacklist check.

Ultimately we ended the phone call and the ISP emailed us when they had found a good IP address. This process took a few hours.

The moral of the story…

What can cause a seemingly new static IP address to be placed on a blacklist? One cause could be that the former owner of the IP address was up to nefarious deeds such as sending SPAM. Another cause could be that the previous owner had an infected computer on their network that was sending out SPAM as part of a botnet.

We researched the cause of our problem. The ISP had previously only provided Internet service to home users before branching into business service. They had a policy of not allowing home users to host email servers. They submitted all their IP addresses to a SPAM database as addresses not allowed to send out email. Now that they are providing service to businesses they do allow the use of email servers, but they haven’t removed their IP addresses from the SPAM database.

We now have a process of checking an IP address issued from an ISP before we place it into use. If you are ordering a public IP address for your home or business give us a call and we can assist you with checking if it has a clean bill of health before you accept it. Even if you don’t plan on hosting an email server it is still important to have an IP address with a good reputation. You can check an IP yourself by using these tools.

MX Toolbox Blacklist Check

DNSBL.info

Robtex IP Reverse DNS and Blacklist lookup

Management by Walking Around

Everyday can seem like a grind if you’re a manager. Your dealing with conflicts and issues in your office with an endless stream of appointments, visitors, and tasks. Occasionally it is good to get out of your office to manage by walking around. If you manage multiple sites you may need to hop on Travelocity and get some tickets.

Abraham Lincoln is likely the first leader that practiced this by frequently visiting the union troops. Other managers such as Bill Hewlett and David Packard of HP are remembered as wandering around the company. Steve Jobs not only walked and talked with employees, but he was known to have picked up the phone and call customers that had complained.

Make it Part of Your Routine

If you need to block time out on your calendar, try not to make it a fixed schedule. If you do it every Tuesday at 10:00 employees will begin to prepare for your not so impromptu visit. The more often that you do it, the more beneficial it is.

Don’t Bring an Entourage

This is a solo project. Don’t bring your assistant or the department head. People can feel like you are ganging up on them or at the least self-conscience.

Visit Everybody

You may have a favorite department. If you came up through the ranks of sales you may feel more comfortable hanging out in that department, but it is make the rounds to everybody. Even if you can’t see everyone in one session then pick up where you left off on your previous rounds. Spending too much time in one area or department can create the wrong kind of buzz.

Ask for Suggestions

Ask each employee for their ideas to improve products, processes, or service. If you implement an employee’s idea be sure to give them credit. A pad of paper and a pen are a great idea or you can jot a note on your smartphone.

Follow up on Questions

If an employee has a question and you don’t know the answer right away be sure to note the question and follow up later with an answer. This will help build trust and rapport with employees.

Not Time for Corrections

If you do happen to find someone who is not performing correctly avoid the temptation to correct the issue, there and then. Make note of the issue then address it either in private later or via the person’s supervisor.

Business advisor Dave Ramsey has a great short video on how he manages by walking around…https://youtu.be/_65aFRcqUfg

Can an iPad Pro Replace Your Laptop?

You have no doubt seen the ads from Apple the last few weeks proposing that you can give up your notebook computer for an iPad Pro.

There are some obvious advantages right out of the box. A tablet is thinner, lighter, and generally has a longer battery life. My 3 ½ year old iPad Air can still go for days on a charge with heavy usage. What makes an iPad Pro – Pro? The magic is in the pen. These are more than just rubber-tipped stylus you find at the office supply store. The pen available for the iPad Pro is much more accurate than a traditional passive stylus. It also works with any app versus some Bluetooth styluses which generally work only with certain apps such as the Evernote family of apps.

File storage is likely one of the largest challenges in replacing your notebook computer. Even if your MAC or Windows you are likely used to a robust file storage system. On the iPad, you are stuck with a few cloud-based services including iCloud that may or may not work with some or all apps. Each app developers seems to focus on including some but not all cloud sharing services such as Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. It is also impossible to transfer files via a USB thumb drive on an iPad.

Another challenge is what we call legacy apps or software. Maybe your company uses a proprietary software package or something that is older that is not cloud-based. You could be stuck not being able to access data in these legacy apps if they have developed an iOS app and cloud connectivity. A work around some use is connecting to a remote desktop either provided by your company or yourself. You can connect to most corporate remote desktop services via an app such as Microsoft Remote Desktop client. Beware these desktops are not touch optimized and can be challenging to use in a touch-based world even with a pen.

What about cost? A standard 15.6” notebook computer with 4 hours of battery life running an i5 processor will run around $750 with Windows 10 Pro and a good warranty. A 12.9” iPad Pro with 256 GB of storage and Cellular connection will cost about $1129. If you can live with Wi-Fi only and just 32 GB, you can get out the door for $799. The Apple Pencil is not included and will set you back an additional $99. The smart keyboard costs an additional $169. If your following along at home that runs from $1067 to $1397. That high-end price is in the neighborhood of convertible computers such as the Lenovo Yoga line.

It comes down to convenience versus functionality. A lower-priced iPad can be a great road warrior, but we are not sure if it can replace a notebook computer for everyone. Of course, if you fly a lot it might be worth not pulling out your device for the TSA bag scan. They make you pull out notebook computers but not tablets.

There are other options such as convertible notebooks and tablets that run Windows 10. We will cover those in the next few weeks.

Tech Support via Chat or Facebook Messenger

Sometimes you don’t have time to make a call or tech support. You get help via chat or Facebook Messenger.

Just visit http://lotusmserv.com/support and look for the Live Support icon in the lower-right-hand area of the screen.chat_support

If your logged into Facebook you can also start a Messenger session from this page as well.

Either option works on your computer or your mobile device.

Five Work Habits That Could Be Causing You Trouble

Many of us show up every morning ready to work. We keep our nose down and do our job to the best of our ability. As the old saying goes though; the devil is in the details. Here are five things you could doing at work that can cause you trouble.

  1. Not socializing

We all have a lot going on today in our modern workday, but socializing is important. We pass up on those group lunches to work and eat at our desks or rush from meeting to meeting or task to task. Not only can taking a break to socialize help your career by building emotional bonds with your co-workers, but it can be better for your well-being including fighting burnout.

Dr. Kristen Lee Costa author of RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress says, “the CEO who told me he was almost completely burnt out before implementing the RESET principles.”

Start by scheduling time on your calendar for short coffee breaks to catch up with your co-workers.

  1. React badly to sudden change

Like everything else in life, balance is good. It is important to stay the course, but if you react badly when your boss asks for your help on a last-minute project you could be hurting your career. You could be seen as difficult or rigid.

Everyone is busy with their current task list and one more request feels like it could break the proverbial camel’s back. One trick is to stop and take a deep breath and let your mind wrap itself around the request. Then give your answer. This technique can keep you from regretting your initial answer.

  1. Office gossip

While socializing is a plus, be sure it doesn’t swerve into gossip. What is gossip? The simple definition is when a negative issue is discussed with someone that can’t help you with the problem.

How do you back out of a dish session with a co-worker? You can shift the discussion to a more positive subject, but sometimes that is easier said than done. A great exit strategy is to say something like, “I understand your frustration, decompress a bit and let’s talk about it later.”

Financial guru and business leader Dave Ramsey has a great rant about office gossip. https://youtu.be/pTiyy21Np_4

  1. You don’t shy away from your opinions

This can include sharing your opinions about your co-workers, politics, or even how to correctly make the coffee in the breakroom. What might seem like passion to you can come off as confrontational to others. Take more time to listen and look. Watch people’s body language when you speak. If you tend to jump in right away in meetings take a moment to write down your idea, then make your point when the time is right.

  1. Office complainer

It’s easy to complain at work. We typically are facing a lot of challenges from customers, co-workers, and the bosses. What can seem like a good way to vent can become a habit that turns you into the negative ninny or Debbie downer.

Reframe your mind-set, looking for the positives in your work, life, and co-workers. It is all right to occasionally push back on something you care about, but do not let your frustrations be a mantra. If you feel insecure in your position at work, try to find a good mentor to give you insight and more confidence.