Maintenance is More than Computer Repair

When you think of downtime, you probably think about the power or your Internet connection going out and leaving you unable to do work. Unfortunately, these are anecdotes that seem benign, but are actually extraordinarily costly. When interruptions to your business’ computing infrastructure are constantly hindering productivity, you need to come up with a solution.

Technology-Induced Downtime

The way your technology functions is extremely important to reducing the amount of downtime your organization suffers. When your network and applications unexpectedly fail and crash, you will see substantial dips in productivity, a metric that is hard to quantify.

The best way to explain this is to look at how downtime affects large companies. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime in the enterprise sector is about $5,600 per minute. In fact, 98-percent of enterprises say that an hour of operational downtime can cost well over $100,000.

 

Now, as a small business owner, you may be thinking that downtime is bad, but at least we don’t see that type of loss…Well, think again. Percentage of loss is right in line all the way down to mom-and-pop businesses. If you were to have an hour of operational downtime because a server component fails, you are looking at a massive loss. Sometimes, these losses are fatal for businesses that are unprepared.

Other Problems

The largest problem with downtime of any kind is the money you are spending to get nothing out of it. No other place is this more evident than having situational downtime that affects a number of your employees. Say one workstation fails in your office and it results in one person troubleshooting problems with a break/fix or onsite IT administrator. Not only are you getting nothing from the employee, you are also paying the technician a premium rate to support that piece of technology. If you think about it, one failed computer in the peak productivity hours of the workday will cost you at least hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

 

Then you have to consider: what if that were my server?

 

You quickly will understand that it is completely untenable to not do what you can to avoid large swaths of downtime inside your business.

What You Can Do

There are a few things you can do to actively fight downtime. They include:

Proactively Maintain Your Technology

The best thing that you can do for your business’ technology is to get a managed services provider to actively monitor and maintain all of your network-attached hardware. With state-of-the-art technology, an MSP can not only see how all of your technology is functioning, it can typically fix issues these systems have before they can become downtime-inducing problems.

Keep Your Software Updated

Malware is a big problem for any business. As such, there needs to be an ongoing policy that keeps all network-attached software updated and patched for security vulnerabilities. An exploit of any holes in your software can turn into major downtime and even worse, so keeping software updated has to be a priority.

Isolate Problems

One of the best ways to keep downtime to a minimum is to use technology services to do so. A comprehensive help desk offering can keep downtime to a minimum by giving employees direct access to tech support. Most times the help desk technician can help resolve issues in minutes, and even if they can’t they can expedite situations to the proper maintenance channels.

Comprehensive Backup

Finally, every business that utilizes information technology to their advantage needs to protect the data and infrastructure by having a comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery platform. The BDR backs up data in-house, and in the cloud to give organizations the peace of mind that no matter what happens, their data is safe.

 

If you own a business, limiting downtime is a priority. If you would like to learn how Point North Networks helps minimize downtime, give us a call today at 651-234-0895.

Communication Tools Your Business Needs to Consider

The software you choose to use for your business largely defines the capabilities of it. When it comes to communications there are some very standard options that you probably already have and then there are some more innovative options that can have significant benefits for your staff. Let’s take a look at some of the standard communications options a business might use and how they can use technology to crank it up a bit.

 

Standard Communications Tools

Most businesses today give their employees multiple options on how to communicate with other members of the staff, prospects, and customers. Some are typical of every business, while others are a little more advanced and come with larger price tags. Some of the most utilized communications tools for business include:

 

  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Instant messaging
  • Documents

 

For most businesses, communications are split into two categories: Written and Verbal. Most businesses should have systems in place to cover both types of communication. As for written tools the most utilized, by far, is email. It presents you with an accepted and respected way to communicate with almost anyone that you would need to contact.

Email

Today’s hosted email solutions tend to have a litany of great and useful features that can not only provide a construct to clearly get your message across, but also manage incoming and outgoing messages. Most modern business email platforms include the following features:

 

  • Daily backup of emails
  • Virus protection
  • Encryption
  • Spam filtering
  • Synchronization
  • Push mail
  • Archival

 

These options typically provide users with everything they need to do business using email. Not only do modern email platforms have features to make the process of sending and managing email easier, many of them have started to integrate a fair amount of security features. A business’ email system is extremely important and a well-maintained and managed email system can go a long way toward giving an organization a great business tool.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging is one of the more utilized written communications tools. Not every instant messaging application is created equal, that’s to be sure, but for the most part the convenience and speed of instant messaging can be a major benefit for any business looking to outfit themselves with one. Some hosted email platforms will come equipped with one, while other stand-alone IM platforms are also available. Recently, there has been a big shift in the development of collaboration tools that feature instant messaging as part of a larger platform designed to keep your people on the same page.

Documentation

One often overlooked communication tool your business may have is the ability to provide employees and customers with written resources like pamphlets, white papers, and other documents. Most businesses today want their staff and customers to be as educated as possible and creating a repository of useful information, whether they are in the form of pamphlets, FAQs, or some other useful documents can save time and be very valuable.

Telephone System

Probably the most important communications platform your company has is its telephone system. The traditional telephone system that you would get through a dedicated telephone provider has some functionality, but if you really want to make strides with your business’ communications platform, consider switching to a VoIP system. VoIP can be hosted onsite or in the cloud and can provide a lot of powerful features that the traditional telephone system simply cannot.

 

One of the features you can buy through any VoIP provider is seamless video conferencing. For remote teams, or even extremely busy teams, a powerful video conferencing solution will give you access to a tool that will allow you to spin up meetings in seconds and provide you with integrated options in line with standalone video conferencing tools. This will help you save money and standardize the entire calling experience. Some other VoIP features you can take advantage of include:

 

  • Automated attendant with advanced call management
  • Caller ID
  • Call queuing
  • Call following
  • SMS and MMS integration
  • Mobile device integration
  • Analytics

 

…And many more.

 

If your business needs help going over your communications options or if you simply need help getting the platforms you already have to function as you need them to, give the technicians at Point North Networks a call today at 651-234-0895.

 

The False Dichotomy of Smart Technologies

For years, we’ve heard about how machines are coming for our jobs. We may even know some people who have been replaced by machines of some sort. This has given workers an overarching fear that once the machines are smart and capable enough to do what they do, that they will be out on their cans with few real options. This is mostly a fallacy. Today, we will explore the notion that machines are out for our jobs and how they may actually work to make our jobs better.

 

The Correlation Between Automation and Downsizing

There is no secret that in order to run a business effectively you have to spend less than you take in. It seems like pretty simple math, but unless you’ve worked in management, you’d be surprised how little shifts in business make this possible sometimes. One regrettable way a company cuts their costs is to let their workers go. After all, payroll is still one of (if not the) largest expenses many businesses have. With new technologies being introduced that make it possible to replace the work of certain employees, it can cause some consternation and fear among the workforce.

 

Some workers are going to lose their jobs due to automation, that much is true. Some people–mostly those who had jobs that computer-based machines can do much faster and much better–will be casualties of their business’ shift in strategy. A good manager will find the resource that does the job that’s needed more effectively, and in today’s business environment, many times these are AI-driven smart technologies. That’s not to say that smart technologies don’t offer other opportunities for some workers, however.

 

Let’s take a brief look at one industry that is primed to be overtaken by automation: truck drivers. Today, several manufacturers are creating technologies designed to ship goods from one place to another using autonomous vehicles. This has been in the works for a while now, and it looks as if the technology is going to be a major disruptor in that industry. For decades, truckers were protected by unions, but as the unions started to lose their power, many became independent contractors. This leaves them no hope if the businesses they currently drive truck for start purchasing and using automated vehicles to move goods.

 

Furthermore, the aging truck driver may not have the skills necessary to compete for a similarly-paying job. The fear is that as technology becomes a disruptor in industries like this that the people that are cast out won’t have the resources to educate themselves for a new job; leaving those people to work lower-wage jobs, or worse yet, become dependent on the government. The business, which always wants to do more with less, can, but workers that are cast aside by this newfound efficiency become a cautionary tale. This is not ideal for anyone.

Strange, But True

This us vs. them story is the way of business. Competition is said to make the market economy possible. What isn’t often mentioned is that automated systems don’t have to replace workers. They will to some degree, of course, but the lion’s share of workers can thrive with the use of automated systems; especially the ones that learn as they go. Why is this narrative not observed more? It’s simple, the story of a person whose job responsibilities change with the deployment of AI isn’t as interesting as a story about swaths of workers that are displaced by corporate greed.

 

The truth is that many businesses will be using automation to make their employees’ work experiences better. There are a lot of procedural tasks that need to be completed, there are emails to be written and sent out, there are reports to be run. This is true whether you are a Fortune 500 company or a mom-and-pop pizzeria. The truth is that as it stands today there are a minimal amount of tasks that can (or should) be completed by smart tech. Automation can actually have an extremely positive impact on people’s ability to do work. It can allow businesses to cut costs while also providing a pathway to get their workers to focus completely on revenue-growing tasks. So the dichotomy between automation and the modern workforce doesn’t necessarily have to be disruptive, it can also be good for both the business and the worker.

 

For the company that is making the choice about increasing the prevalence of automation over the next few years, their workforce will be at the forefront of this shift, not left behind like many have projected. Let’s go back to the automated trucks. Every automated truck so far has required there be a passenger (driver) in the truck at all times to ensure things go smoothly. These shipping professionals may not be driving the truck as they did in the past, but they are still employed and with the benefits that automation brings to the industry, they will still be paid in line with what they were making when they were the operator of the vehicle. Companies will save money on logistics, fuel costs, and more, but as of this writing there aren’t many plans to cut out these professionals, just alter the job a bit.

 

What are your thoughts about automation and smart technology’s effect on the modern worker? Do you think that these smart systems will eventually replace the skilled labor fields, or do you think that people and machines can work in concert to provide better work environments and stabilize rising costs? Leave your thoughts about this issue in the comments section below.

 

Automation Any Business Can Fit In Their Business Plan

In modern businesses, automation can be implemented in a lot of ways, but for small businesses, it may be more difficult to find ways to incorporate time-saving automation. In this week’s blog we’ve decided to point out a few ways even the smallest business can use automation to their advantage and give their employees the freedom to focus on revenue creating processes.

 

Use a CRM

The efficiency of creating and sustaining leads can be troublesome for any business, but by utilizing the automated tools presented by a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system your business can improve your sales and marketing efforts quickly by automating some of the minutiae that comes with those efforts. By using a CRM you can improve customer satisfaction and completely manage your sales process. Most CRMs have the capability to handle the process of getting your business the right customers for the right products/services and then building that relationship without having to spend a lot of time and effort to do so.

Social Media Management

Social media is likely a big part of your business’ ability to attract new customers and interact with your current clientele. By using automated tools to schedule out your social media efforts, you can not only engage more people over more platforms, you can stay organized. Getting your message out over social media can be a fairly easy and repeatable process, a perfect environment for automation to help your business’ efforts in that arena.

Customer Support

The biggest problem for small businesses is typically that the amount of resources they can spend on support is lacking due to budgetary constraints. If the people that are responsible for the production of a business’ products/services are also given the responsibility of being the support system of those products/services, it can significantly reduce the advancement of those products/services. Today, there are many automated tools outfitted with artificial intelligence that can effectively handle a lion’s share of the customer support. Specifically, chatbots are a tool that can allow you to handle a series of customer problems without the need for workers constantly being available to provide support.

Meeting Scheduling

Having to constantly schedule meetings can be a time-intensive task as people have variable schedules that don’t always line up. This typically means meetings are held without people or serially rescheduled, reducing productivity and grinding workflows to a halt. Automating the scheduling of meetings and appointments normalizes scheduling and avoids conflicts while bringing enhanced efficiency to your business.

Procurement

With supply chains a mess, it can often be hard to get the components or products you need quickly. Today, businesses can use inventory management applications to automate the ordering of certain goods to ensure that goods are there when your business needs them. This can be something as simple as paper goods, but can also work on mission critical components as well.

 

Automation is giving small businesses the ability to compete with larger businesses in their markets through end-to-end advanced efficiency. If you would like to talk to one of our IT specialists about the integration of tools that allow you to save time and money, give us a call at 651-234-0895 today.

Employee Cybersecurity Efforts

Behind Employee Cybersecurity Efforts or Lack Thereof

Cyberattacks can cost businesses a lot of money. They’re also more prevalent today than ever before. It seems you can’t go a couple of news cycles without hearing about some organization that has been hacked or scammed and it’s resulted in the sensitive data the organization holds being sold online, vast operational downtime, or worse. For this reason, many organizations have deliberately built up their cybersecurity infrastructure, enhanced their policies, and invested in training to ensure that they aren’t the next victim. Unfortunately, this attention doesn’t always work.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has found that cyberattacks increased about 400 percent from 2019 to 2020. Doing what you can to keep your organization’s computing resources secure is extremely important. The cybersecurity outlays made by businesses and other organizations have been immense, and that has led to a sobering reality. Most of any organization’s security problems, especially relating to malware deployment, is due to their employees’ lack of conscientious decision-making when faced with problematic situations.

It doesn’t matter how much more secure or how much smarter you make your organization’s information system security, it can all be for naught if one employee doesn’t do what they should. This is extremely frustrating for IT people, since it is one of their core responsibilities to keep these systems secure. Let’s take a look at how employees fail to keep their credentials secure and what you can do to remedy this worrisome trend.

Employees as Attack Vectors

Increasingly, workplace strategies have been altered significantly. In fact, millions of workers are currently working remotely now, effectively distributing a business’ operational network. For the IT professional who is in tune with the current threat landscape, workers that don’t do everything they can to protect organizational data and infrastructure are typically viewed as ignorant; or worse yet, as a saboteur. Unfortunately for everyone, the driving factor is not negligence or a willingness to do their organization harm, it is out of workplace stress, a factor that is difficult to quantify, and harder yet to eliminate.

A study conducted by the Harvard Business Review found some interesting results about the role stress plays in maintaining their assumed role in protecting their organization’s cybersecurity. The study found that two-of-every-three workers failed to fully adhere to organizational cybersecurity policies at least once in the 10 workdays where the study was conducted. During the study, it was found that employees simply ignore the cybersecurity policies around five percent of the time. This may not seem like a lot, but if you consider that it only takes one non-compliant action to result in a major data breach, having dozens of such instances happen each day is putting organizations in jeopardy.

You may be asking yourself, “If they follow procedure 19 times out of 20, why don’t they follow it that other time?” Well this is where this seemingly clear issue gets cloudy. The study got the answer to this question. The top three were:

  • “To better accomplish tasks for my job.”
  • “To get something I needed.”
  • “To help others get their work done.”

In fact, of all the respondents, 85 percent that were non-compliant to their organizational cybersecurity policies responded with one of these three answers. These employees knowingly broke the rules and in doing so put their organization in jeopardy, but not because they were lazy or they just had it, it was because that was the only way they could efficiently get the work done. Situations where a person is damned if they do and damned if they don’t, they tend to pick the priority.

To most workers, they weren’t hired as cybersecurity professionals; they are hired to do a job and if cybersecurity policy gets in the way, they will choose productivity over security every time. If you consider that only three percent of policy breaches were acts of true defiance or sabotage, the 97 percent of the rest are likely perpetuated by dutiful employees. It’s hard to justify stern reprimand for a person who thinks they have the business’ best interests in mind.

Redefining the Importance of Cybersecurity

For the average employee, following procedure is typically going to be a distant second to maintaining productivity. After all, there are very few instances over time where someone was labeled as “great at their job” because they didn’t accidentally start a cyberattack. Moreover, most organizations’ IT support team can’t really give people the benefit of the doubt; most employees that don’t follow security procedures are looked on as negligent or deliberately working against their best efforts. The truth is most training platforms and policies (as they are known to the employee) don’t take into account that there are gray areas that don’t line up with the expectations put on employees by their managers.

To this end, it is more important than ever for employees to be involved in the creation and development of workable cybersecurity policies that take into account that business moves fast and sometimes a person that is focused on doing the best job they can, isn’t going to be focused on maintaining network security. Managers also need to ensure the members of their team know what they need to do and what those actions accomplish to reinforce the importance of their cybersecurity efforts.

Most businesses celebrate employees that excel at their jobs. Today, their job is actively changing and they have to know why straying from procedure is a major problem. The problem is that one wrong move and the company is dealing with malware and reputation troubles, and loss of revenue. While it might be ridiculous to celebrate adherence to corporate cybersecurity policies, people have had cake for less.

If your business needs help balancing productivity with their cybersecurity policies, give the IT security professionals at Point North Networks, Inc., a call today at 651-234-0895.

 

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Impacting the Healthcare Industry in Interesting Ways

Healthcare is one industry that consistently operates under an immense amount of pressure, and as such, professionals in the industry are always trying to find new and innovative ways to make things more manageable. The latest technology to aid in this trend is artificial intelligence, or AI, and it has proven to be a considerable asset for the industry. Here are some ways that AI has changed the way healthcare manages particularly stressful situations for the better.

AI Can Efficiently Analyze Vast Troves of Data

No matter how often (or not) you go to the doctor, chances are that your provider only has a fragmented version of your health records, the reason being that it relies on you manually updating them every time you go in for a checkup. Unfortunately, this lack of information can mean that your doctors don’t get the birds-eye view they need to provide the best care possible. AI makes sifting through data like this much easier and more practical, and machine-based predictions can catch things that the human eye might miss. AI could be used to predict health issues before they even appear, meaning that preventative care can be administered promptly (much like addressing issues on your IT network before they become major problems).

AI Can Make New Medicines, Cheaper

When you consider the amount of time and research that goes into crafting effective medicines, you start to realize that there is a reason why it’s not cheap. However, through the same technology that allows automated self-driving cars, databases of molecular structures can be considered and tested through simulations. With this technology, time spent on research and development can be significantly reduced, as evidenced by the 2015 ebola virus outbreak, where analysis and treatment were developed far more quickly thanks to it. AI can also be used to study existing medicines or find new ways for them to be used. If new use cases for existing drugs can be identified, companies can save money and make their offerings more diverse.

AI Can Make Healthcare More Secure

Healthcare providers are responsible for storing and securing a lot of sensitive or personally identifiable information, as well as financial data. Considering that many patients’ lives depend on this data, it becomes incredibly important to keep it all secure, especially with the rise of cybercrime. It might be possible for humans to prevent some of these threats from coming to fruition, but it’s not possible for them to prevent all of them. AI might be able to aid them, though, by powering automated security solutions designed to keep records safe from malicious activity. After all, many threats are using AI themselves, so why not turn the tables on the attackers?

AI Can (Potentially) Help Eliminate Bias

There is an inherent bias in the healthcare industry with factors like race, gender, and ethnicity playing a part in how accessible healthcare is to some. This bias has seeped into research. AI programs can help to eliminate some of this bias, as it is separate from human deliberation and can remain impartial throughout the entire process. AI can effectively identify the objective truth and prevent factors like these from influencing research or access in healthcare.

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VoIP

Explaining VoIP and Its Immense Benefits

Communication solutions are especially important in today’s world of remote and hybrid work, and we are here to tell you that the traditional telephone solution you’ve known and loved for all these years is simply not viable in today’s business environment. Thankfully, a viable replacement is widely available, and it’s all thanks to Voice over IP technology.

What is VoIP?

Your traditional telephone solution involved working with your local telephone company to run lines and cables all over your business’ office and installing handsets for your employees to use. There was a lengthy implementation process that heavily relied on the physical setup of your office and the number of employees your company employed.

VoIP, on the other hand, uses a service you already have—your Internet connection—rather than your traditional telephone infrastructure. Through the use of smartphone or desktop applications, VoIP helps to eliminate barriers of entry for telephony solutions and instead focuses on making services accessible to all types of businesses, regardless of infrastructure or current setup. Since VoIP is a software solution rather than a hardware solution, it is more dynamic and flexible than your traditional telephone system.

What Benefits Does It Bring?

VoIP is notable because it offers comparable services to your traditional telephone system but without the limitations that come with it. Here is just a short breakdown of what you can expect from a VoIP phone system:

  • All the features you know and love:

    VoIP is capable of all the features you use for your traditional telephony system, plus some that you might not normally get, such as video conferencing and instant messaging.

  • Quick setup:

    Instead of running cables and knocking down walls, you just download an application and set up your accounts. Because of this, it’s an easy and efficient way to leverage telephone solutions to your benefit.

  • Accessibility and flexibility:

    Since VoIP applications can run on smartphones or desktops/laptops, you have control over how you choose to use VoIP.

  • Cost savings:

    Oftentimes you might encounter telephone providers who try to lump together services in an attempt to squeeze as much out of their customers as possible. With VoIP, you don’t get any of this—you purchase the solutions you need and nothing more.

  • And more!

Don’t Wait Any Longer!

If you are ready to take your business’ communications infrastructure to the next level, we are confident that VoIP will help. To learn more about what VoIP can do for your business, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.

The Highest-End Smartphones Right Now – Foldables

For the past two weeks we have looked at some of the best phones and some that bring the most value. This week, we turned our gaze to a form factor that is only a couple of years old, but seems to be the future of mobile technology, foldable screens. The different form factors made possible by foldable OLED technology make the future of mobile devices more exciting. Let’s take a look at three of the top foldable devices right now.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

A couple of years ago Samsung came out with their first foldable device, the Galaxy Z Fold, and while the device itself wasn’t anything to really write home about, it did usher in a whole new era of mobile computing. The Galaxy Z Fold3, the third iteration of the line, is by far the most notable of the foldable devices.

 

The Z Fold3 is built on an aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass Victus front and back. When the phone is folded, it has a 6.2-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 832 x 2268px display that has a booming 120 hertz refresh rate. Basically they put a high-end, mid-size smartphone screen on the outside cover of the phone. This means that it can ostensibly be used folded up most of the time, but unfolded it gives you a nice tablet-like experience. The larger screen is made from plastic, but it’s remarkable how it doesn’t lose any effectiveness.

 

The rest of the phone has flagship specs. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chip, and comes with a whopping 12 GB of RAM and 256 or 512 GB of onboard storage. The device runs Android 11, but is able to be upgraded to Android 12 and Samsung’s One UI OS. More and more applications are being designed to take advantage of the foldable screen and the flexibility it gives users.

 

The Z Fold3 features a 12 MP wide-angle lens with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), a 12 MP telephoto lens with 2x zoom and OIS, and a 12 MP ultra wide-angle lens. The front-facing camera on the large display is a 4 MP in-display wide-angle lens, while the cover camera is 10 MP wide-angle lens. Overall, the Z Fold3 presents a pretty impressive cache of cameras to do most anything you would need a smartphone to do.

 

The battery is pretty small at 4,400 mAh, but comes with 25 Watt fast charging to offset the lowly 75 hour endurance rating. For security, there is a side-mounted fingerprint sensor. Other features include a iPX8 water resistance rating, Samsung’s DeX capability and 5G capability.

 

This ingenious device is available in Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, Phantom Green, Thom Browne Edition, and an exclusive Wooyoungmi Edition, the Galaxy Z Fold3 costs nearly $2,000 from Samsung and most major cell carriers.

 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

Body:  Aluminum Frame, Gorilla Glass Victus front and back, plastic large display

Display: Closed – 6.2-inch Super AMOLED 2X, 120 Hz,  832 x 2,268 (~374 ppi); Open – 7.6-inch Super AMOLED 2X, 120 Hz, 1768 x 2208

OS: Android 11; upgradable to Android 12, One UI 4.0

Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

Memory: 12 GB RAM; 256-to-512 GB onboard storage

Expandable Memory: No

Cameras: Rear – 12 MP, 26mm, OIS; 12 MP 52mm 2x optical zoom OIS; 12 MP 123º ultrawide. Front of device – 10 MP 26mm; Front of folded display – 4 MP under-display

Sounds: Stereo Sound

Battery (battery endurance rating): 4,400 mAh (75 hours)

Security: Side-mounted fingerprint sensor

Miscellaneous: Samsung DeX, IPX8 water resistant, 24W fast charging

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3

Samsung is definitely the leader in foldable devices. As the Z Fold3 is an engineering marvel, the Z Flip3 brings back one of the most popular form factors in smartphone history. The Z Flip3 is Samsung’s best folding phone for people who want both a compact device and a large smartphone experience. The Z Flip3 is effectively a flagship smartphone that folds in half for safekeeping.

 

The device is made on an aluminum frame, it has a plastic front and a back made from Gorilla Glass Victus. The screen is made from plastic and houses a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display that comes in at 1,080 x 2,640 pixels and sports a 120 Hz refresh rate. Not bad for a phone that folds in half. When folded there is a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED screen for quick view of time and notifications.

 

The device runs Android 11 (upgradable to Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.0) on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 FG chip. It comes with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB or 258 GB of onboard storage. For security it has a side-mounted fingerprint sensor.

 

The camera on the Z Flip3 has a 12 MP wide-angle lens and a 12 MP ultrawide angle lens, while the selfie camera is a 10 MP wide-angle lens. The battery is a paltry 3,300 mAh offering that allows for 15W fast charging. At a 69-hour endurance rating, the device is at the low end of the premium smartphone market…but it folds in half.

 

Available in a litany of colors including Phantom Black, Green, Cream, Pink, Dream White and more, the Z Flip3 runs about $1,000 from your friendly neighborhood cell carrier or from Samsung directly.

 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3

Body: Aluminum frame, plastic front, Gorilla Glass Victus back

Display: 6.7-inch Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120 Hz, 1,080 x 2,640px

OS: Android 11; Upgradable to Android 12, Samsung One UI 4.0

Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G

Memory: 8 GB RAM; 128 GB-to- 256 GB of onboard storage

Expandable Memory: No

Cameras: Rear – 12 MP 27mm OIS; 12 MP 123º; Front – 10 MP 26mm

Sounds: Stereo sound

Battery (battery endurance rating): 3,300 (69 hours)

Security: Side-mounted fingerprint sensor

Miscellaneous: IPX8 water resistant, 15 W fast charging

Microsoft Surface Duo 2

Samsung might have superiority over the foldable device space, but other manufacturers are creating some pretty useful devices, too. Microsoft is one of them and their newest folding smartphone is a big upgrade over the first Surface Duo. Well, it has cameras this time at least.

 

The Surface Duo 2 has great build quality, what you would expect from a Surface line product. There is no outside display like you would find on the Samsung devices, but when closed there is enough of the wrap-around screen to show the time, notifications, and other information. When the device is open there are effectively two 5.8-inch AMOLED panels that add up to a total of an 8.3-inch screen when it’s completely folded out as it functions with large bezels.

 

The Surface Duo 2 runs Android 11 on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chip and has 8 GB of RAM and can go up to 512 GB of onboard storage. It comes with a side-mounted fingerprint sensor for security. The battery of the Duo 2 is a 4,449 mAh power cell with available 23W fast charging.

 

Microsoft decided to put a full suite of cameras on this year’s model, a feature that was suspiciously left off of last year’s. The rear mounted cameras have a 12 MP wide-angle lens with OIS, a 12 MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and OIS and a 16 MP ultra wide-angle lens. The front-facing camera is a 12 MP wide-angle lens.

 

Available in Glacier and Obsidian, the Microsoft Duo 2 is currently being sold for $1,500 online and at microsoft.com.

 

Microsoft Surface Duo 2

Body: Plastic frame, Gorilla Glass Victus front and back

Display: 8.3-inch AMOLED, 90 hz, 1,832 x2,688 (~401 ppi)

OS: Android 11

Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

Memory: 8 GB RAM; 128-to-512 GB onboard storage

Expandable Memory: No

Cameras: Rear – 12 MP 27mm OIS; 12 MP 51mm telephoto 2x optical zoom OIS; 16 MP 13 mm; Front – 12 MP 24mm

Sounds: Stereo sound

Battery (battery endurance rating): 4,449 mAh

Security: Side-mounted fingerprint reader

Miscellaneous: Stylus support

 

The foldable phone, or some other form factor using the incredible OLED foldable panels, is definitely not a fad. Once manufacturers can roll out these devices for less, you will see more people snatching them up.

 

3 Things that Start to Happen When you Outsource Tech Support

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The decision to outsource tech support can sometimes be a hard concept for IT departments or business owners to grab. It comes with trusting the chosen IT partner on a great level and being willing to let go of some control. But, with that transition comes a lot of positive gains. At Point North Networks, over our many years of providing IT support to great companies all over Minnesota, here is what we have observed tends to happen to those who we have helped make this transition.

Your team becomes smarter

Of course, your team was already made up of smart people, or else they wouldn’t be on your team! But, when employees have the right IT partner, they become a lot smarter about topics like cybersecurity and how their technology works. At Point North Networks, we take the extra step to make sure your team is empowered through self-improvement, personal protection, and engaging training that is relatable, not demeaning. This results in a lot of positive gains, such as fewer questions and confusion and an average of a 64% improvement in phishing click rates.

You save money

Of course, cost savings is one of the most well-known benefits of outsourcing your tech support. The right IT partner will also be on the lookout for opportunities to streamline your current contracts and costs and provide you with customized solutions.

Fewer headaches for all

Anyone who works in an office knows how overwhelming it can be to experience technical issues and not be able to find a solution. Your employees can spend time Googling tech solutions all they want, but that’s not their job. They deserve a trusted IT support team to guide them through those frustrations that come with failed technology or potential cybersecurity threats.

Contact Point North Networks to receive a free cyber security assessment for your business.

remotely monitoring

Looking In at the Benefits of Remotely Monitoring Your Business’ Technology

For small businesses with limited budgets and workforces, getting the type of maintenance needed to keep complicated pieces of machinery and technology in tip-top shape seems like a tall order. Sometimes it might be a budgetary issue, where it costs too much to hire in-house staff to handle this burden. Other times it might seem like you just can’t find any talent in your location. Thanks to modern technology—remote monitoring and management technology, in particular—you are no longer stuck by these limitations

We would be poor technology consultants if we told you that not having the resources to properly care for your technology is a good excuse. Thanks to remote technology, this type of maintenance is easier and more accessible than it has ever been before. Here’s what you can expect when you work with Point North Networks for remote monitoring and maintenance services.

Improved Accessibility

If nothing else, RMM tools promote accessibility for small businesses by breaking down the barriers of entry that have traditionally stopped them from leveraging this type of technology. By this, we mean things like price and talent pool. For price, RMM services fall into the operational costs category, meaning that they are the equivalent of a monthly payment compared to adding additional salaries to your expenses. As for the talent pool, since the majority of services can be administered remotely, physical location is not as much of an issue unless you need on-site maintenance.

Proactive Maintenance and Monitoring

It’s not easy to run a business while also keeping an eye on all of the little things that could go wrong at any moment, be it hardware hiccups or security discrepancies. When you implement RMM services, you have your outsourced provider keeping a close watch on your network for all of those small things that might fly under the radar normally. When your network is monitored in this way, we can catch small issues before they spiral out of control.

Prompt Resolutions

Sometimes issues need to be resolved quickly, and in these situations, you cannot wait for a technician to travel to your office. Remote desktop solutions allow technicians to remote right into the system itself, see the issue first-hand, and resolve the issue quickly and efficiently without the need for an on-site visit.

Implement a RMM Tool Today!

Ultimately, RMM services are incredibly beneficial for all businesses, big or small. They save time, money, and resources that you can then spend elsewhere for your business, such as growing your customer base or innovating with new ideas or services. Point North Networks, Inc., can provide your organization with remote monitoring and maintenance services; all you have to do is reach out to us at 651-234-0895.