About Wayland Bruns

Wayland founded CompanionLink in 1987 as The Jorf Company, a maker of shareware 4gl products. As a leading maker of CRM Add-On products, the company started with Sync Products in 1996 for the PalmPilot. As CEO of CompanionLink, Wayland strives to balance quality customer service, products with good value, low prices, and a positive workplace..

Kaseya Ransomware Attack – 5 Things to Do to Protect your Business

Ah, lovely holiday weekend. We closed early on Friday. All the staff is enjoying family time. Many are out of town. The ideal time for a horrific ransomware attack to shut down hundreds of businesses and cost millions of dollars. Happy Independence Day!

In my 30 years of running our business servers, I have noticed that system penetration attacks, denial of service attacks, and brute force email spam increases at the times and dates when US staff is away from their server. Clearly the attackers hope that people are not watching the server messages that hint that a system has been compromised.

Starting mid-afternoon on July 2nd, an nefarious group succeeded in compromising a network security reseller named Kaseya. Through Kaseya’s VSA management tools, they hit IT related businesses with ransomware. Ransomware is software that locks a server or data files and then demands a ransom to unlock them.

Kaseya Underwhelms in Response

True to holiday mode, the response from Kaseya has been underwhelming. They claim to be the victim. They claim only a few customers are affected. They state they had complete control of the attack within two hours. They offer a solution to turn off any server using their service. Meanwhile, because of the attack, a chain of 500 stores is closed in Sweden, paralyzed 200 US Companies, and caused thousands of network technicians to return to work to mitigate the damage. What is missing in Kaseya’s response is a sense of responsibility and scope. It is clear that Kaseya’s management is still by the barbecue and not in the office.

Is your Business Affected? Is your Business Next?

The year 2021 has been awash in cyberattack and ransomware news. If you are not now taking steps, then you should think about it. Like any disease, these attacks are like a virus, and you can take steps to avoid your company getting sick. This may save you thousands of dollars. Here are five steps you can take this month to lower your risk.

1. Recognize Phishing Email in all its Forms

Hillary Clinton would have become president if it wasn’t for a mistake made by Democratic Chairman John Podesta. The campaign was a target, and they already knew there were emails sent their way for information. John clicked twice and entered his email credentials. Within minutes, 50,000 campaign emails were in Russian hands, and Hillary’s campaign was toast. How could any high-level manager fall for a simple spoof?

The spoofs are getting pretty good. It takes an effort not to click. We all get them. What is typical now is they come in a short email, with no explanation and a simple and logical attachment. The only clue is that the sender is not known.

Sometimes the sender is known or even a known vendor. Here at CompanionLink, a quick view of our publicly available DNS reveals that we use Rackspace for business emails. You can guess we get many messages that claim to be from Rackspace. Things like “Phone message from Rackspace” (we do not get phone service from them), or Mailbox Full, or Mailbox Corrupted. My favorite is the ones that make you panic – “Your credit card has been billed for $6,533.32” or “Your bank account has been closed for fraud.”

Avoid the panic. Tell your staff to forward all odd messages without clicking. Then, if needed, log into your Email Portal or Bank to ensure there is no actual problem.

2. Train your Staff – Really – to Recognize and Mitigate Risks

We all know the drill. You have a 30-minute meeting with your Vice President to underscore the importance of security for your business and your customers. He tells the tech manager in 4 sentences and maybe sends an email to all. Your team managers respond upstream in glowing terms, and then behind your back, convey a “don’t screw up” message downstream. The line staff gets the message: “Please don’t leave food in the refrigerator more than 3 days, remember to buy a secret Santa gift, and do not take down the entire company with an insecure password.” Unfortunately, the line staff just treats it as another empty command from from the top.

The most common method of attack is phishing emails

The SolarWinds attack vector is not known. What is known, however, is that for five years, certain SolarWinds systems were available using the password Solarwinds123. While the company CEO claims they immediately locked out the password after being notified that it was publicly available, others dispute both the timeline and the extent of the password use.

This goes beyond simply choosing a good password. And it goes beyond any automated system that forces you to change passwords frequently. The best hygiene is to ensure every system you have has a different password and your passwords are stored securely. These are opposing goals but worthy of taking time to get it right.

3. Do not use Unnecessary Vendors

SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange, and Kaseya show the vulnerability when an IT vendor becomes the source of a security breach. A company whose only fault is to purchase services from a vendor is suddenly left with a million-dollar mess.

For the most part, you can identify your IT vendors by looking at the bills you pay. If you pay for a service, your company may be vulnerable to a breach of that service. Keep a close eye on payments large and small because instead of paying them, they may cost you. Be sure the service is necessary and justified. Check your emails for unpaid providers like Facebook and Google, since these notices mean that you are paying by having your information sold (advertising) rather than from your bank account.

4. Do not Trust the Cloud

People who trust the cloud are the same ones that sign agreements without reading them. Their trust is misguided. You can be sure those click-through agreements have huge loopholes for data breaches. Your best security is not to be a target. Staying small and anonymous may work better than making waves and becoming a victim.

The Microsoft Exchange attack targeted corporations that run their own private Exchange servers. The problem was not systems that were up to date but systems that were lagging in updates. These were companies that made the best effort to run secure servers but that had fallen a bit behind on maintenance, which was not surprising during the COVID era. Most companies focused on how to pay staff and not on whether to install routine security updates.

For Email that is internet-based, you are safer using IMAP protocol that does not connect to LDAP logins which may allow system-level passwords. For in-house systems, like CRM, there are still many vendors that can supply an on-premise CRM that is a fraction of the cost of a cloud system and that ensures that even if your internet is down – your customer data is safe within your corporate firewall.

5. Beware of Security Dominoes

A security domino is any system that, when breached, leads to other systems that may be breached. Password vendors Lastpass and 1Password are targets for bad players. And it would be best if you kept in mind that Yahoo and AOL have been breached multiple times, as have Facebook and Twitter. Even Apple, who sticks its finger in Microsoft’s eye on viruses, has been found guilty of sickening silence when 128 million iPhone users were hacked.

For corporate servers, ensure that your logins are qualified not just by password, 2FA, and 3 Dimensions, but ensure their IP matches a minimal set of known IPs. Do not use IP location since any VPN user easily spoofs location. You need to limit access to the specific IP network that your team uses. Primitive firewalls like Iptables can sometimes block better than sophisticated ones that allow anyone to get to a login screen. The networks your team uses are limited and known. Strength lies in simplicity.

Ending

To the management of Kaseya, your company got attacked. Start your message by taking responsibility – until known otherwise – your company was vulnerable to an attack. If you did your job right, this attack would not have happened. Start by owning that fact.

Hundreds of IT workers got their holiday ruined. Reach out. Tell them that Kaseya management is called back at the office and will stay full-time to ensure the fastest possible response.

Finally, reach out to your customers – who have been damaged – to help mitigate their future losses and explain what you are doing to make up for their current losses. You have insurance. They do not.

For everyone else – sit down on Tuesday with your monthly vendor bills, and go through one-by-one. Make sure you are protected if that vendor is breached. The year 2021 has seen an unprecedented rise in successful ransomware attacks, and the trend is not in your favor.

New Way to Sync Google Calendar with Outlook – Automatic and Free

It takes just five seconds for DejaFlow to update Outlook when you change Google. CompanionLink has delivered a low-cost PC app with this amazing speed for nearly a decade. Today CompanionLink is launching DejaFlow. DejaFlow is a low-cost online service that connects Google with Outlook online, for free, without needing to install anything on your PC or Mac.

Businesses need a Simple Connector

Thousands of services are tied to Google Calendar, but most business people use Outlook. Outlook has a primitive ability to subscribe to a Google Calendar.  However, this requires you to publish the calendar on the open world-wide-web which is hardly private.

Existing Tools are Expensive and Complex

So there is a pressing need to connect the two. Microsoft Power Automate is an expensive, complex tool that cannot do the simple task that customers need; Add, Change and Delete Appointments and Recurring Events, with two-way sync between Outlook and Google.

Everyone has just one calendar. You may keep it on Outlook or on Google. You place your appointments on it. You depend on your PC or Phone to ring alarms to notify you of places to be and things to do. Having a phone that uses Google and a Computer that uses Outlook makes it hard to schedule and plan.

Vendors like Zapier and Power Automate have tried to make a toolkit to handle this task. But 95% of business customers do not need a toolkit; they need something that works.

Free, fast and automatic connector for Google Calendar, Contacts and Tasks with Outlook 365, Microsoft Teams and Outlook.Com

The Experienced Pioneer of Calendar Sync

CompanionLink understands your needs. We have created products to fulfill this need for 30 years. We know all about how calendars work with each of the vendors, both Microsoft and Google. And we are good at it which keeps our costs low. As a result, we can reflect these low costs to our customers with low service fees.

DejaFlow connects Calendar, Contacts and Tasks from Gmail and Google workspaces accounts.

These can be connected to any online Microsoft account, including Office 365, Corporate Exchange, Microsoft Teams, and Free Office.Com/Hotmail Accounts.

Planned updates will add a direct connection to Apple iCloud, Act! CRM, Pocket Informant, and DejaCloud.

POP3 and IMAP Solution

For Outlook customers who use IMAP and POP3 folders, the calendar information is not stored online. For you, CompanionLink offers CompanionLink for Google for windows-based PCs and CompanionLink for Mac for macOS computers. The installed software will automatically synchronize from our local calendar to the online calendar.

Online Calendar Solution

DejaFlow is a SaaS website to connect Outlook Calendar with Google Calendar. Setup is a simple three-step process; Create a DejaFlow account, identify your Outlook and Google Calendars, and press Sync. The initial connection takes about two minutes for most people, and DejaFlow automatically matches any duplicate entries. Once Connected, any change in Google Calendar, and any change in Outlook Calendar, will flow to the other side within about 10 seconds.

You can use DejaFlow for Free! As long as you have 500 records or less, you can use the service forever without a charge. Most people have under 500 records in their calendar.

Affordable Pricing

Most businesses will have more than 500 records. Companies should plan on paying $1.50 to $5 per month per user for the DejaFlow service, which is still just a fraction of the cost of competing services.

For 2 Connectors up to 5,000 records, DejaFlow costs $4.95 per month or $39.95 per year.

For 5 Connectors (5 users) and 30,000 records, the cost is $11.95 per month or $99.95 per year.

Both Free and Paid customers can take advantage of CompanionLink’s email and telephone technical support.

CompanionLink for Google
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About CompanionLink Software

CompanionLink® Software, Inc. is a pioneering developer of data synchronization solutions for mobile phones and CRM software and services. They also develop a DejaOffice® for Outlook® App which runs on Android, iPhone®, iPad®, Windows Phone®, and BlackBerry® devices. For 30 years, CompanionLink has helped mobilize information across devices, computers, applications, and web-based services. For more information, please visit www.companionlink.com and www.dejaoffice.com.

CompanionLink, DejaOffice and DejaCloud are registered trademarks of CompanionLink Software, Inc. Other product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

How to USB Sync Outlook to iPhone now that iTunes has Dropped it

Did you panic when you saw this message?

"Support for the synching calendars and contacts has been deprecated and will be removed in a future version of itunes".

Do not worry! There is a 3rd Party product that has supported secure USB sync from Outlook to iPhone and iPad for more than a decade.

USB Sync is Secure and Safe

Face it, the reason people use iPhones is because Apple Devices are more secure than the competition. The most secure way to move your valuable customer information and schedule is to use USB Sync. Information on the Cloud is subject to hackers and man-in-the-middle attacks. While iCloud itself has not had a massive breach, individual iCloud accounts are commonly hacked and the data distributed by rogue players. Once your account is known, everything you store on iCloud is visible to the cybercriminal.

For years, iTunes has had good support for Outlook Contact and Calendar sync to iPhone. You simply connect your phone, let iTunes Sync run, and your phone list and calendar are populated with your Outlook data.

It is worth remembering that Apple, masted in Cupertino, California, is still frienemies with Microsoft based in Redmond, Washington. While they publicly support each other, they continue to be competitive in many markets including Gaming, Streaming TV, Streaming Music, and at one time Smartphone Operating systems. Apple has also had a longstanding war with cables, seeking to free their phone from any sort of connection that may carry viruses or breach the security of the phone. By focusing on iCloud and internet-based connections, Apple feels they can better serve people who desire security.

CompanionLink to the Rescue!

CompanionLink shares the value of ensuring that your Contact and Calendar data is secure. A company strongly rooted in the Palm Pilot days, CompanionLink has supported Outlook Sync from the first-month Outlook was released. Their strength is that they work with any type of Outlook Folder, POP3, IMAP, Exchange and Office 365 folders, and with all versions of Outlook.

The CompanionLink for Outlook supports USB Sync to Apple iPhone and iPad. It can easily synchronize your Contacts and Calendar to the native iOS Contacts and Calendar. It can do this securely and easily. CompanionLink is easy to set up, with only a few settings screens needed to establish the sync system. After that, you just hit a button whenever you need your data updated.

Dedicated App for your Outlook Data

The CompanionLink system features DejaOffice, which provides Tasks and Notes support. Apple iTunes has never fully incorporated Tasks or Notepad. CompanionLink also can preserve Outlook Calendar colors on appointments, something that not even Microsoft’s Outlook App can do. You can download DejaOffice from the Apple App Store today. This is a free app.

The task of switching from iTunes to CompanionLink is simple, and takes about 15 minutes. Follow this handy guide.

CompanionLink offers Secure Wi-Fi Sync as an alternative – in case you are ready to ditch the cable connection. They also provide an internet based Cloud sync called DejaCloud which is useful for offices that update your schedule while you are traveling since the data moves from your office to your phone without regard to what state or country your phone is in.

You can download a free 14-day trial of CompanionLink for Outlook. If you need help, the company provides free technical support by calling +1(503)243-3400 or by emailing support@companionlink.com.

CompanionLink for Outlook
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Best Productivity App for Task Management

You definitely need to try nTask. Primarily an online task management software, designed and developed primarily for teams, this tool gives you all the options to live life as productive as it can be.

Loaded with a comprehensive and sophisticated feature set, this free productivity app presents itself with a simplified interface, easily learned and used by homemakers to freelancers and teams to enterprises to get more productive.

nTask is a simple all-in-one task and project management app that provides its users with comprehensive seven natively built modules including tasks, projects, risks, issues, and meeting management.

This means you don’t have to juggle between multiple apps for getting things done hence making you more productive. These modules facilitate the teams to avoid paying for third-party integrations or constant switching between multiple tools for numerous projects and multiple workspaces.

You can keep notes and use it as a simple to-do list app or create an idea or chore as a task. It helps you to create projects and assign multiple tasks to them. This helps you to easily track ideas, monitor task status, and project progress through Gantt charts.

Plus, with resource planning and budget allocation, you can keep your teams productive and project implementation effective throughout the project development cycle.

According to Lucid Agency – an award-winning agency specializing in digital marketing, advertising, and user-focused web & app design, “This is a great option for small development teams that have a need for free bug-tracking or task assignment.”

This top Productivity app also helps you stay in sync with updates and keeps you and your team on track through reminders and alerts.

#1 free productivity apps - nTask

Key Features:

With so many features nTask has to offer, here is a glimpse of its key features:

  • Two-Factor Authentication for extensive security
  • A simple user interface with access to a wide range of modules.
  • Team specific workspaces that can be managed and monitored simultaneously.
  • Create, assign, organize, prioritize and share tasks
  • Create and assign projects
  • Comment on and assign tasks to projects or structure them independently
  • Convert comments to tasks using Slack
  • Select from multiple statuses for a task
  • Extensive project management resources including project reports, Gantt charts, and project timelines to manage and monitor project progress
  • A dedicated timesheets management and time tracking module with the option of creating and managing team-specific sections for employee task efforts and payroll.
  • A detailed meeting management feature to help teams stay in sync. You can arrange and schedule meetings, be it one time or recurring meetings. Plus, it lets you send invites to attendees, add meeting details, and specify follow-up procedures.
  • Issue management module to facilitate the identification and listing down of issues related to multiple tasks. You can list the issue along with the Issue owner and relevant details to track issue maintenance.
  • Risk management helps you identify and keep track of potential risks. You can list down the risk and assign a risk owner in order to track risk management.
  • Powerful search and filter tools that help you search for tasks, projects, meetings, issues, and risks. You can even save more frequently used filters.
  • Alerts, notifications, and reminders to keep teams on track.
  • Third-party access
  • nTask is one of the best iPad Productivity Apps and Best Android Productivity Apps

Pricing Plans:

  • Free and Pro (starting at $1 per month per user with annual billing) plans.

nTask

Average User Rating:

Average rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 14 reviews.


Price $2.99

Notable mentions:

  • Skyrocket team productivity with nTask, it’s free! Manage all your tasks, projects, meetings, timesheets and more in one place. Sign up today!

Switch from Exchange to MAPI and Still get an Outlook App on your Android and iPhone

Suddenly, there is an overwhelming reason for corporations to change from Exchange to MAPI. The Hafnium hack of Microsoft Exchange has hit more than 30,000 US corporations. The Zero Day Hack hits an exchange vulnerability that has been in the code since it was written ten years ago. More than anything else, this tells us that storing data in The Cloud is not secure.

What is IMAP

The first Email Protocol was known as POP – Post Office Protocol, and its most popular implementation is POP3. IMAP was created in the late 1980s as an alternative. For Email handling, IMAP has proven to be a simple and durable protocol that allows you to consume Email on multiple devices, like your PC and your phone, and answer it from either device.

Is MAPI Safer than Exchange

Exchange is written by Microsoft and is intended to be a more sophisticated mail handling system. Indeed, it introduced Push protocol which at the time made it faster than IMAP. While both IMAP and Exchange store Contacts and Calendar information, IMAP was more closely tied to Microsoft Outlook and had a better implementation. Microsoft removed IMAP handling for Outlook Contacts in 2010.

Microsoft has a new agenda to merge Exchange and Azure services and wrap many tools under a single security protocolTherein lies the weakness exposed by Hafnium. Microsoft’s many corporate mergers expose them to the shift from Pareto Principle to the Peter Principle. In wrapping Exchange, Microsoft allowed exchange logins full access to Azure services on a Corporate Server. The hack involves accessing the logins, and taking a minor user and giving them Super Admin privileges. Because Microsoft now allows Echange Users to access non-exchange resources, the new Super Admin might enable full access to the entire corporate network.

Microsoft Cumulative Updates

Many corporate Exchange sites have run into a secondary issue. The Hafnium Patch issued by Microsoft assumes your Exchange is fully up to date. For many sites, Exchange updates have been deferred to focus on maximum utility by the company. Suddenly, years worth of updates have to be applied. Updating complex and customized software is never easy, and many sites have been brought down because the cumulative update process fails. It leaves the corporation unable to receive or send Email, share data, or update their Outlook on PC and Phone.

IMAP to the Rescue

Switching the Corporation back to IMAP is a quick and easy way to get the corporate Email back flowing again. At least on this level, emails from customers, vendors and leads can be exchanged. The IT department then gets time to consider the options. Any sites that are truly hacked need to rebuild their servers from scratch. Sites that only got cumulative update failure might install fresh Exchange and try to import past data into it. Either process can take days or weeks to implement.

Replacing Outlook App on Android and iPhone

With Email restored using Outlook, the next thing a corporation needs to look at is replacing the Outlook App on their iPhones, iPads, and Android Devices. The Outlook App has three main functions; Email, which is already handled by the phones, Contacts and Calendar. Luckily there are many alternatives.

Setting up IMAP Email on your Cell Phone

To set up Email on your Phone, you go to the Email App and enter your IMAP credentials. As soon as you do this, your Email will come to the Phone. You can also do this on your PC Outlook, and then your IMAP email comes to your Phone and your PC.

Sync Outlook Contacts and Calendar to your Phone

The next task is to restore the Contact database and Calendar from Outlook to your Phone. Exchange handled these by storing the contacts and calendar on the Exchange Server. This server is not available with an IMAP mailbox. So it is required that you install some soft of Sync Software to your PC. Here is a Guide to switching Contact and Calendar Sync from Exchange to MAPI. The requirement is that this software sync from the local Outlook IMAP folder directly to your iPhone, iPad or Android Phone.

A common and inexpensive product that synchronizes from Outlook IMAP Folders to iPhone and Android is CompanionLink for Outlook. CompanionLink is very easy to set up and offers many options. The primary method for sync is DejaCloud, which is like Exchange in offering Realtime Push sync. The CompanionLink solution requires DejaOffice on your Phone. DejaOffice works like the Outlook App but mirrors more features of Outlook. DejaOffice fully supports Outlook category colors, tasks and notes on your Android and iPhone, none of which are handled by the Outlook App. But the most prominent feature is DejaOffice does not use Exchange protocol, which is unaffected by either the Hafnium hack or the cumulative Exchange update issues.

Share and Schedule Outlook Calendars in your Office

CompanionLink also offers an Outlook-based CRM product that can share Outlook calendars between users, even when using IMAP folders. This product is called DejaOffice PC CRM Pro, and it costs just $40 one-time-price per user. The key is that DPCP can store everyone’s data on a central server, allowing Calendar sharing on many PCs.

Multiple Calendar Sharing with Remote PCs

DejaOffice PC CRM also can share the database with remote offices. It uses the same push sync system to allow people to see their tasks and schedule changes instantly. So this is a robust system that replaces many of the multiple user facets of Microsoft Office and Sharepoint without engaging the Exchange server vulnerabilities. The DejaCloud sharing cost is low; about $20 per user per year, and the first year is free when you purchase the Professional DejaOffice license for your office.

CompanionLink for Outlook
Average User Rating:
Average rating: 4.86 out of 5 based on 538 reviews.
Free 14 day trial. Price $14.95 3-Mo Subs - $49.95 One-time License.

If One Bitcoin is Worth 60 Cars, Should I Buy Bitcoin Now?

Recently BofA analyst Francisco Blanch issued a report called “Bitcoin’s Dirty Little Secrets”. The long-form-pdf file states “there’s no good reason to own bitcoin unless you see prices going up.” And A “single Bitcoin purchase at a price of ~$50,000 has a carbon footprint of 270 tons, the equivalent of 60 [internal combustion engine] cars. So that becomes the question of the day. Is one bitcoin worth 60 cars?

Is Power Consumption an issue with Bitcoin

Keeping in mind that this same investment advisor has also stated Bitcoin is “exceptionally volatile”, “impractical,” and an environmentally disastrous asset that is useless as a store of wealth or an inflation hedge. Of course, none of these statements address the fundamental question – Should I buy Bitcoin now?

Argument For Deferring Bitcoin Investment because of Power Management

The nature of Bitcoin is that the currency is based on a computational hash. Any commodity is priced according to its rarity. Gold is more expensive than Silver because it is less common. Diamonds are more expensive than Amethyst because it is less common. Bitcoins are “rare” because there is an intentional computation that makes new bitcoins harder to find. This process is called mining, and Bitcoin miners use power to create more bitcoins.

Worldwide Bitcoin mining uses a huge amount of computational power and needs electric power to run. The total power consumption is balanced against power price – as it would be impractical to mine if the cost of electricity exceeds the cost of Bitcoin. So as the price of Bitcoin goes up, more people mine it, and the more power is consumed by Bitcoin mining operations.

The Argument Against Deferring Bitcoin Investment because it Wastes Power

Unless you live in a tent, everything else in your life is balanced by this same power management discussion. For instance, your ability to travel on vacation is directly tied to airline tickets’ price, which is tied to the airline’s fuel cost. If fuel is cheap, you go far away, and if fuel is expensive, you stay close to home. I have never heard someone say they will defer a vacation because it would increase worldwide power consumption. The Bank of America analyst will not turn down the AC in his office because he is concerned about worldwide fuel consumption. To mix a personal choice with some over-arching goal is privileged thinking. Why not point out that the entire investment industry misuses computational resources to effect fast trading because slower trading would use less power? Newer computers use less power, so why does Bank of America still use old computers in their operations?

What is the True Argument?

The author points out that the bulk of the Bitcoin Power Consumption problem is because Chinese miners use Coal Based power which is cheap in their area. Suddenly privilege markers abound because he mixes ethnic bias and nationalism into his discussion. The implication that power usage by Chinese people is bad leaves unstated that power usage by privileged Americans, which one a per-capita basis is four times higher.

The author is simply pulling out garbage arguments to save his privilege and his job. Bitcoin is just as valid an investment as S&P 500 index funds. No one knows if it will go up today or down tomorrow. What people know is that over the past 20 years, it has consistently gone up. Past performance is not an indication of future results.

Is Bitcoin a Worthy Investment?

If you invested $1000 in Bitcoin in January 2017 (1 bitcoin), your investment would be worth approximately $60,000 today. If you invested $1000 in the popular S&P ETF called SPY – (4 shares), your investment would be worth $1558 today. So over four years, SPY has returned about a 50% rise in value. Bitcoin has returned a 6000% rise in value  Bank of America’s investment advisors charge approximately 2% per year to manage your account. So over four years, they would charge $80 for your SPY investment, lowering the net gain to only $300 for the four years. On the other hand, no advisor charges for Bitcoin, so you get the full rise in your pocket.

You can see that Bitcoin is a far better investment than Bank of America advisors can offer you. That is why they write garbage-filled misleading points that one Bitcoin will feed Chinese Menace Coal Miners and destroy the world.

You can easily offset the problem after Bitcoin makes you marvelously wealthy by donating a portion to the University of Sichuan to help disadvantaged Chinese youth. Do not forget to donate to the Unemployed-Investment-Advisor’s Children’s College Fund.

How to buy Bitcoin

Bitcoin is not easy to buy. It takes many forms. The more you learn, the more lost you can feel. There are also many investment rules to follow. You can buy Bitcoin or any alternative like Ethereum, or Dogecoin, or Stellar Lumens. US Tax rules mean you cannot easily hold Bitcoin in an IRA.

One easy way to invest in Bitcoin is to purchase an ETF that holds Bitcoin. As an ETF, you can do this with your IRA. Also, the tax consequences are clearly defined since you are simply holding an ETF. The common EFT for Cryptocurrencies are Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) or Grayscale Etherium Trust (ETH).

You can also purchase stock in companies that operate as miners like RIOT, or Bitcoin Exchange platforms like Coinbase. The stock movements in these companies follow the price of Bitcoin. Finally, there are hybrid bitcoin plays like Overstock (OSTK), which use to sell goods but became a big player in Bitcoin, PayPal (PYPL), and even NVDIA (NVDA), which makes chips that optimize bitcoin mining even though they are trying to get out of this business.

Bitcoin is an Easy Investment

You should never invest all of your capital in a single investment. Bitcoin is volatile. At worst, it has at times dropped more than 90% of its value. That means a $1000 investment today might become $100 tomorrow. But over the past ten years, Bitcoin has proven to be a durable asset with explosive value. If you can spare some play money today, perhaps in four years, you will again see something that matches past gains.

Note: The author has been long GBTC since Bitcoin was $400, and often smiles broadly.

What Google People API means for Apps that Sync Google Calendar with Outlook

In Spring 2020, Google announced that they will shut down Google Contacts v3 API in 2021. The Google Contacts API is the connection a Sync App uses to move Contact Data from Outlook to Google (Gmail) Contacts. Google released the Contacts API in 2006 and v3 around 2012, so it has had a six-year life span typical for Google data APIs.

Google Calendar and Contact Sync with Outlook

Nearly all Apps that Sync Google Calendar with Outlook Calendar include a link for Contact Sync. This sends data from Outlook Contacts to Gmail Contacts. Most people rely on Google Sync to share Contacts and Calendar from their Gmail account and smartphone.

Action Item – If you are using CompanionLink – You may be eligible for a free update for this change. Please check our Google People API Knowledgebase Page.

Microsoft Outlook lacks Google Sync Capability

Microsoft Outlook lacks a two-way sync facility for Google. You can set shared Calendars and Contact lists, but the method is arcane. More commonly, 3rd party apps like CompanionLink for Google provide an easy way of using Outlook and Google together. There are a range of products available, and they have varying capabilities. The critical thing to look for is whether real-time sync is supported. When you make a new appointment on your phone, does it come to Outlook automatically in just a few seconds? Also, are Outlook categories and calendar colors supported.

Google Contact v3 Deprecated

Google Contacts API v3 will shut down on June 15, 2021, five months away at the time of this writing. The Google People API, introduced four years ago, is replacing it. Most developers caution that the Google People API did not work well initially, so hopefully, Google has improved the API since that time.

June 2021 Update: Google has now started throwing the error. The error text is:

Contacts API is being deprecated. Migrate to People API to retain programmatic access to Google Contacts. See https://developers.google.com/people/contacts-api-migration.

Update Needed for Continued Service

Consumers need to be aware that any Google Outlook Sync product created before 2016 lacks support for the People API. Most products did not begin shifting until 2020, when Google announced the older API’s sunset date. A general rule is that if you have not installed a software update in the last four years, you should plan to get an update in 2021.

Here is a List of Google Calendar Sync Apps with status:

In general, most products will be on new revisions to support Google’s API change. If you have a purchased product, and your purchase was more than three years ago, you would be safe to assume an update is available for a reduced price from your vendor. Free and Open Source products (FOSS) will undergo revisions and continue to be a compelling choice for people who can tolerate beta software and do not need tech support.

June 2021 Update – Google has Updated Guidance

Migrate your Contacts API to People API before June 15, 2021, to ensure error-free API calls; API calls will otherwise return 100% errors by December 15, 2021.

Hello Google Cloud Developer,

We are writing to remind you of, as per our initial announcement in August 2020, the deprecation of the Google Contacts API, effective June 15, 2021. All Contacts API clients should migrate to Google People API before that date.

What do I need to know?

Starting June 15, 2021, API calls will begin returning errors at a steadily increasing rate, until the error rate reaches 100% on December 15, 2021, as outlined below:

June 15, 2021 – September 15, 2021: 1% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors
September 15, 2021 – December 15, 2021: 10% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors
December 15, 2021, and onward: 100% of Google Contacts API calls will return errors

What’s changed?

The new People API has the same functionality as the legacy Contacts API for all features, but with a new scope, resulting in the following exceptions for “Other Contacts”:Clients have read-only permissions for “Other Contacts.”
• Since sending mutate or write signals back to “Other Contacts” is not supported, your users will have to add the Other Contact as a My Contact if they wish to update its data fields.
• Only basic contact information for “Other Contacts” can be read through the API (for example, full name, email address, and phone number).

Additionally, the old Contacts scope (https://www.google.com/m8/feeds) provided access to both personal contacts and directory information.

You can learn more in the People API documentation.

Please note that the Domain Shared Contacts API is not affected by these changes.

What do I need to do?

To maintain access to Contact data, you need to migrate all Contacts API calls to People API before June 15, 2021.

With the People API, you will also need to implement new scopes, to ensure error-free API connections. In doing so, you will need to use the appropriate scope, depending on which API feature you wish to access:
• To access personal contacts – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts
• To access other contacts – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/contacts.other.readonly
• To access directory information – https://www.googleapis.com/auth/directory.readonly

Your projects listed below are Contacts API clients and will begin to receive API call errors unless you migrate to People API before June 15, 2021:

If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact Google Workspace support.
Thanks for choosing Google Cloud.

Sincerely,
The Google Developers Team

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Short Take

Google has a habit of changing their APIs every six years. If it has been a few years since you purchased or installed your Google Outlook Sync App, plan on doing it again in 2021.

Want to Optimize Your Website’s Speed? Here’s How

People tend to spend more time online these days. With almost everything we need are provided on the internet, it has become more of a necessity than just a pastime or leisure. Along with this, the amount of websites and online businesses on the web has risen too, and this caused major traffic and slowing on other sites. Fortunately, today’s internet speed has coped with this, and it’s still improving up to this day.

Studies show that in 2019, an average person spends almost 6 hours and 42 minutes on the internet. This is almost half of the time that we are awake, assuming that we are getting 8 hours of sleep. Because of this, one of the problems that remained is the speed of the websites themselves. Due to faster internet connectivity, people have become less patient while waiting for a page to load. 

To avoid such a dilemma, it’s necessary to know how to optimize your website to handle traffic and gain more enjoyable visits. 

Basic Things About Website Speed

How Fast Should a Website Be?

The recommended website speed by Google is under 2 seconds, at least for most eCommerce sites. Webpages load piece by piece and it differs for every site. There is a high probability that users will leave a page if it loads for more than 3 seconds

In the U.S., the average loading time is 15 seconds. It is even slower than the recommended time but still does the job. Having a website load slower than that can cause less traffic, and users won’t have the time for the page to load. This may result in a drop in ranking and other competitors will take this chance to take your spot and push you lower in the search list. 

What Affects Website Speed

Every element affects the speed of a website. The website size, which usually includes a lot of unique characters, may result in slower loading time. It is the same case for large files. They tend to be slower to download, and therefore may contribute to the occurrence of a problem in the process.

Sometimes, the problem is not the website, but your device’s internet speed. Still, a good website can withstand such circumstances and can still load despite the said issues.

How to Assess Website Speed

There aren’t many ways on how to determine the speed of your web pages other than using website speed evaluators (aside from the slow responsiveness whenever you try to load it). Here are some of the best tools to help you determine the improvements needed in your website’s speed:

Pingdom

This is a great tool for analyzing web speed. It determines the history of a website, makes directions on the optimization, and releases easy to understand reports. It is free to use, and they also have apps that you can use on your Android and iOS mobile phones.

GTmetrix

GTmetrix determines the elements that make your website slow, which is a good thing because you will know what you can do to improve the situation right away. It also provides accurate data results. You can even set alerts that will automatically inform you if your website begins to work slower.

YSlow

YSlow also summarizes every component of your site and gives you a report that includes recommendations on how you can improve its state. 

How to Improve Website Speed

Here are some of the ways you can do to improve the speed of your website:

Shrink Images

Images, especially the ones in larger sizes, can be a very heavy component for a web page to load. This often results in others not being able to view the pictures depending on the device and internet speed they have. You can still show pictures in HD but in lower sizes. This way, it will be easier to load and it won’t take that much for it to be seen by your visitors. 

Delete Cache

Caches are prearranged storage that stores temporary details to help websites, apps, and browsers to load at a faster rate. You will encounter it in almost every software. It expires after a certain amount of time and does not add to the loading process of a page. If it ever reaches beyond the recommended data, which can happen at some point, you can delete it without any consequences and make browsing at a faster rate.

Create an Intuitive Web Page Design

Yes, an excellent web design also helps in optimizing the speed of a website. For example, choosing the right font to use on the interface helps a page to load faster. In this case, Open Sans loads the fastest. According to the folks at somethingdesign.com, intuitive web design determines the visitor’s experience on the page. It also contributes to the increase in traffic and the speed of the page. 

Quality of an Intuitive Web Design

Responsive

A great web design responds to the user’s preferences. Whether it is the flexibility in terms of the orientation of the device or the screen size like in mobiles, it must be adaptable. The elements need to shrink or grow depending on what the situation is asking for. A great web design is versatile and can accommodate various users and visitors.

Consistent

Harmony is pleasing to the eyes. Consistency creates a distinct character in a website that the users will remember. It is the brand that will linger in most people’s minds after they visit the site. The limitation of the design to one common set also helps in a faster loading process. The less unique individual designs, the faster a page can process data.

Easy to Use

Complex web design is not attractive to users at all. It only creates confusion and this usually results in them not coming back to the website. This also means less traffic, fewer sales (for eCommerce websites), and less reliability for people seeking immediate results. 

Engaging

People have different preferences when it comes to the structure and design of a web page. Some like it more to be minimalistic, while some appreciate patterns and loud colors. Whatever design you choose, it is important to consider what is pleasing to the eyes of most users. Be creative and try something new. 

No one likes waiting, and that applies to websites as well. Every single second is important to keep your page in demand to visitors. Even if your website is informative and engaging, if it is slow and takes too much time to load, it will not attract many users. Keeping your page at a stable speed will not only be accessible and fun to visit for most people, but it will also increase the traffic that you need to be successful.

6 Reasons why Small Business does not Trust the Cloud

Small Business people live by the seat of their pants. They sole entrepreneur knows exactly how hard it is to build a customer list and market to those customers. Middle managers of large companies are hired into their position, maintain it for a period of time, then move on for career growth. This is an entirely different process than a small business owner who is fully invested in building the business from the first day.

One durable trait of small business people is that they do not trust external vendors to handle their core customer management functions. As shown in the chart by Forrester Research, despite 30 years of Cloud Based CRM products, a vast majority of small business still use a PC or On-Premise CRM solution for their core Contact and Accounting functions.

1. Not Sorry I’m Sorry Letters

Every small business owner has used an AOL or Yahoo account, and knows that online vendors are merely a target for hackers. What is worse, the online vendors take advantage of bias consumer protection laws and legal agreements that leave them with no responsibility for anything they do. Anyone who has spent years building a customer list gets completely frustrated to learn from an “I’m Sorry” letter that their customers were stolen and being marketed on the dark web.

2. Insatiable Costs

There is not a single SaaS product that is less expensive to own than a PC based product. Microsoft Office 2010 cost $199 for a perpetual license, Microsoft 365 costs $99 per year for the same features. QuickBooks 2012 cost $190, and QuickBooks Pro in 2020 now costs $299.99 per year. There is not a single common product that is less expensive as a SaaS than it was as a perpetual license. SaaS never saved anyone any money – it was used as a cover to provide less service for a higher price.

3. Unexpected Downtime

The promise of SaaS is that since they take care of the equipment, they will responsibly ensure there is no down time. The reality is that every service has down time and aside from pestering you with message about it, unexpected downtime is a serious cost to business. Whether it is a network backbone or local internet issue, a business that relies on internet service has a real vulnerability to uncontrolled downtime. A business based on in-house software may have a failed computer, but this is a fixable problem. Anyone who has sat for hours waiting for some uncontrolled event knows this.

4. Poor Technical Support

The past days of PC Software gave us a time when you called for technical support and received it. There was no guarantee of quality, as Franklin Covey learned when they outsourced their entire product team to India, and lost their product position in the market. But for the most part, you knew if you needed help you could get it on the phone. Today, no SaaS product provides adequate support. They merely listen to what you say and blandly tell you to try a different browser. It is impossible to reach someone who cares.

5. No Loyalty to Customers

Customers are often loyal to a product, but that loyalty is not reciprocated by SaaS vendors. They treat customers as throw away goods in their constant effort to charge more for less service. This comes in the form of email marketing that shows little concern for small business priorities, cost management or offers for the best price. Every small business knows the frustration of making a large purchase, only to see it go on sale shortly after – without any way to get credit for the sale price. To buy the wrong product and be told you cannot refund it (Apple -I’m looking at you!). SaaS vendors take zero responsibility for mis-information on their website.

6. Blackmail

Years ago, Blackmail was a crime. But with SaaS, every vendor has their moment where they inform their customer to cough up money now, or you will never see your data again. The heart of this is the ambiguity over who owns the data on the SaaS service. The customer has carefully curated and added the data, but the vendor may not reciprocate and provide robust tools to extract it or migrate it to another platform. This leads to a standoff where the SaaS vendor literally blackmails the customer when the customer attempts to regain control of their on contact and opportunity lists.

Blackmail is compounded by the short half-life of SaaS vendors. Every few years, a vendor change hands, and their careful customer support policies of “We will never sell your data” or “We pride ourselves on our service” changes overnight to a very cold “If you object to this you can end your service but never see your data again.” Check out Sunrise Calendar, SwiftKey Keyboard, or Picasa.

Summary

DejaOffice has disrupted CRM by introducing affordable On-Premise Customer Management. Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, History, Deals, Follow Ups and Sync to Android and iPhone built into a product that costs just $59 per user. Compare this to similar “low cost” SaaS products that are six times more costly and you cannot even call them if you have a question. If you run a small business, and have experienced any of the frustrations above, you will save time, money and frustration by switching to DejaOffice today.

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Growing your Business Beyond the End of Hope

It is easy to forget the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was the first event of the Great Depression that peaked three years later in 1932.  As we hit the 120th day since the Virus shut us down on March 19, 2020, it is time to wonder, are we anywhere close to a turnaround, or are we merely four months into a three-year crisis?

Where we are now.

One month ago, things seemed to be controlled well enough that it had become livable.  Wall Street was discussing a V or U shaped recovery.  Now, in mid-July, talk turns to a W or L shaped recovery; that is, more hard times ahead.

Everyone I talk to is nervous.  The virus counts today are bad. The death counts, which generally lag virus counts by three weeks, are going up. There is nothing on the horizon to suggest these counts will get lower soon.  One Percent of the US Population has become sick and of those people 3.8% have died. At the current rate, by November, six million more Americans will have been sick, and another 200,000 will die of it. That is 1000 times the deaths on 9/11.

What Comes Next?

The Senate is stalled giving aid while Renters and Mortgage holders reach the end of their grace period.  I know of more than one person selling their house this month because they cannot afford the payments.  These trends portend a banking crisis ahead of us that will make 2008 look small.  Earnest Hemingway writes; “How did you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

Our Next Step.

This is a time to focus, to think clearly about the parts of the business that are working, and to leverage that to cover expenses.  Focus is difficult when self esteem is low.  Self esteem is low because the world is filled with difficulties that are beyond our coping skills.  It becomes easy to loop back on worry and become unable to plan.

Growth despite Obstacles

We need to grow our business.  We need to do it because that is what we do.  The world does not end just because we think the world is ending.  Our customers will continue on, and so should we. The best thing too remember is that all the obstacles we face in business, are being faced by our competitors. Our goal is to stay one step ahead of them.

Gaining focus

Focus is hard right now.  The distractions become an overwhelming fog of confusion. How can you plan business growth when the business conditions cannot be predicted?  But this is the same as the day you started your business, you had no idea what would happen.  The difference between then and now is your self-esteem and drive to succeed.

There is a saying; “To build self esteem, do esteemable things”.  I have found this to be true.  By helping others and by generously contributing, we gain back self respect, and the ability to focus.  In the big picture my finances are a disaster and there is no hope for the future.  But this month, and this week, I am doing fine, and the small amounts of time and money I can give out will mean a great deal to those I can help.

Toward Rebuilding

The foundation of recovery will be built on the small steps we take today to help other people, to help our customers, and to help our vendors.  Mutual help will bind us into a functioning economy.  Focus on this economy comes from being whole and being a contributor.

My Dad’s parents were married October 14, 1934.  It is hard for me to imagine two teenagers meeting, falling in love and getting married during the depths of the hardship years. The grim black and white pictures and the distant commentary do little to capture he meaning from that time.  But then, like now, every day ordinary people ate, and worked and slept.  The world recovered from the Great Depression and became 50 years of Pax Americana and prosperity.  The world will do it again. It is our choice now to become a leading participant.