Hacked clouds

Steve Wozniak predicts that the Cloud is going to be a “horrendous” place in the near future. We tend to agree, if Woz is referring to large players in the cloud market who attract ire.

Amazon, Apple, Dropbox, and Google have all been in the news cycle this week due to hacked or breached data that is stored in their secure clouds. The only Goliath spared the doom and gloom is, ironically, Microsoft. Mat Honan’s situation has become the talk of the town. But for every Honan, there are many others whose cloud security plight doesn’t reach mainstream news.

With this week’s dust-up, it’s clear that while the marketing departments at each of these companies want you to believe that you own your data and everything is meticulously watched-after, what they really mean is anyone with half a brain can own your account and data if a few security questions are answered correctly to a customer service “specialist” who also happens to be a college student. (No offense against college students.)

None of this is new. Hacked clouds and online security breaches have been happening since Salesforce.com made “cloud” armchair language. However, the more dust that flies due to breaches, the harder it becomes for business decision makers to move their enterprises to the cloud. Imagine how many companies were close to migrating their enterprise to the cloud last week, only to have pulled the reigns and wait for a better day when they can look their customers in the eye.

What we need is the emergence of private clouds that are not run by the Goliaths who have a financially vested interest to mine, sell, advertise, or otherwise disclose your data.

Small private turnkey clouds are too mundane to catch the ire of hackers. Think of the Windows OS virus magnet compared to the fledgling Mac OS X in the early days. Fewer hackers went after OS X because Apple wasn’t Goliath (oh the irony) and didn’t have the aura of world dominance. Our society thrives on small underdogs who fight to provide a more honest experience to people.

Where are the honest private clouds?

Business features of Palm OS on your Android

The Verge recently did an excellent write-up on StyleTap’s app that emulates Palm OS on Android devices.  CompanionLink pays much reverence to Palm OS because we got our start with that platform.  However, we’re a strong fan of adopting the new Android OS instead of fighting it.

Bringing business features from Palm OS to Android

Palm OS had simple and functional capabilities for business contact management, calendar scheduling, task management, and note-taking.  We have developed a PalmOS-like business PIM/CRM app for Android.  It’s called DejaOffice and is currently available for free on the Google Play store.  The existence of DejaOffice is rooted in transforming Android devices into business CRM tools that mirror the simplicity and functional themes of Palm OS.  As topping on the cake, we wish to also take advantage of the powerful features of today’s smartphones (GPS, location awareness, etc.).

More info on DejaOffice available at www.dejaoffice.com.

Why we can’t sync Windows Phone 7 via USB (Yet)

Edit note:  CompanionLink can now synchronize with USB and Windows Phones.

If you’re here, you’re not alone. Many people are looking for Outlook USB sync with Windows Phone 7. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t provide this feature. Windows Phone 7While CompanionLink does offer wireless sync options for Windows Phone 7, limitations with the Windows Phone SDK technology prevent us from offering direct USB sync. We want to offer it, but we can’t.

CompanionLink has a long history of offering direct sync with all major smartphone platforms including Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Palm webOS, and the previous Microsoft Windows Mobile platform. When Windows Phone 7 was announced, we jumped to be the first to offer PIM synchronization for the platform.

Unfortunately, we discovered there is no way to interface with the device using USB protocol. Also, we lack the necessary app permissions to write contacts, calendar, tasks and notes to the device. Double-whammy; our hands are tied in two ways. Unfortunately, this means that CompanionLink, as well as any other third-party developers, won’t be able to offer direct sync to the Windows Phone platform until the tools are provided.

We’ve asked Microsoft about this issue, but have not yet received a reply. It’s possible Microsoft may open more options for developers in the future. We eagerly await that day!

The World In Sync [Infographic]

Did you know that every two days as much data is created as was created since the dawn of civilization until 2003?

With that much data out there, it’s no surprise that sync has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s keeping your emails synced across devices, sending a file via Dropbox, or keeping up with your business by syncing your contacts, calendars, tasks, and more with CompanionLink, sync is nearly everywhere.

Take a look at the infographic below to see just how prevalent sync is in our everyday lives! Then, let us know what you sync in the comments below.

 

Android + Chrome OS: The Next Step in Mobile Computing?

We’ve talked about this before on our blog, but I felt it bears repeating as it inches closer to reality. In a post over at Droid-Life, we can see what the future of mobile computing might look like, from the Android perspective…

“…a good first step to resolving these problems with notifications and making lapdock and deskdock form factors useful would be to use Chrome OS. I think there will always be a place for a mouse and keyboard form factor because touch doesn’t always make sense. As computing continues to become more mobile and as technology improves, we may eventually be able to have one device that connects to different form factors.”

Read the full article over at Droid-Life, then swing back by our blog to share your thoughts in the comments!

How To Use Siri To Set Up Business Meetings In Outlook, ACT!, & More

Just the other day, Apple revealed their latest iteration of the iPhone – the iPhone 4S. One of the biggest new features comes in the form of Siri, Apple’s self-described “humble personal assistant.” Using voice recognition technology, Siri is able to take verbal commands and act on them, allowing you to check and compose messages, emails, calendar appointments, and much more.

Image Credit: TUAW

Currently, Siri is designed to work with Apple’s built in apps – it’s not clear if or when the technology will be opened up to third party developers. However, DejaOffice has the unique ability to connect with Apple’s built in apps. As such, DejaOffice is able to harness the full power of Siri and sync new or updated data back to your existing CRM solution.

Doing so is simple. First, you’ll need to ensure that DejaOffice is set to sync with the native databases. To do this, just launch DejaOffice on your iPhone 4S, tap “Settings,” then “Sync.” From there, select “Sync with Apple’s Calendar” and “Sync with Apple’s Contacts” to enable syncing with the native databases.

Once that’s enabled, press and hold the home button on your iPhone 4S to activate Siri. Say something like “Schedule lunch with John Smith at noon on Friday” and Siri will comply. The next time you sync DejaOffice via CompanionLink, that appointment will be transferred into Outlook, ACT!, Salesforce, or whatever CRM solution you’re using. It’s that easy!

Understanding Android Contacts [Infographic]

Confused about how Android Contacts and Accounts work?  We’ve created an infographic that helps explain the chaos!


Update: Now that Motorola’s DROID RAZR and Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus (featuring the next generation of Android – Ice Cream Sandwich) have been announced, this infographic is even more relevant. These two phones are sure to draw many users over to Android for the first time!


Coming to Android from a “feature phone,” a BlackBerry, or even iOS, there are a number of new features to get used to. One aspect that we’ve seen a lot of uncertainty about is exactly how Contacts work on Android.

As such, we’ve created an infographic to help visualize how Android Contacts work and hopefully eliminate some of the confusion. Check it out below:

(Click the graphic for a larger version)

Android Contacts Infographic

Zoho vs. Salesforce – A Quick Guide on How to Decide

If you’ve been searching for an online CRM solution, there’s no doubt you’ve come across both Zoho and Salesforce. Initially, they are hard to compare – the pricing is vastly different and neither of them offer any sort of comparison chart. After some research, however, you’ll begin to notice some clear similarities and differences.

As far as the basic components of CRM are concerned, both Zoho and Salesforce offer what any user will need. Accounts, contacts, campaigns, Outlook and Office integration, collaboration tools, etc. are found in both services. And, of course, CompanionLink works great with either Zoho or Salesforce! So how do you decide which is right for you? Let us help by highlighting the unique benefits each service offers.

Zoho: Affordable, Quick, Easy

The most obvious benefit Zoho has to offer is its pricing. At $12 or $25 per user per month, it’s $100 less than Salesforce’s most popular offering. Zoho even offers a free version for users who need a very simple CRM solution.

Of course, price isn’t the only benefit Zoho offers. Zoho is designed to be quick and easy, allowing even the smallest businesses to jump in and get started right away. Zoho also offers integration with their complete suite of Zoho Apps, providing access to chat, docs, invoicing, projects, meetings, and much more.

In the end, you’ll want to look into Zoho if you’re a small to medium business looking for a full-featured, yet affordable CRM solution.

Salesforce: Powerful, Customizable, Expandable

Salesforce generally gets accused of being more expensive than Zoho or other CRM options. With its most popular edition going for $125 per user per month, this may seem to be the case. However, Salesforce accounts start at just $5 per user per month for their more basic CRM solution.

That said, most users generally opt for one of the higher priced plans. The question then becomes, “What do I get for my money?” In addition to all the benefits you’d expect from a CRM service, Salesforce offers the ability to customize your experience via custom apps and websites, a developer sandbox, and integration via a web services API. All that may sound a bit technical, but it essentially means that, with a little technical know-how, you can make Salesforce do exactly what you need it to do for your specific setup. To make customization even easier, Salesforce hosts a cloud-computing marketplace called AppExchange where you can find over 1,000 different apps that will help make Salesforce work for your setup!

Generally speaking, if you’re a medium to large business with custom CRM needs, Salesforce is a great option.

Hopefully this has helped narrow your search. In our experience, there isn’t a bad choice here.

Choosing the Right Android Phone and Carrier Combination

Image Credit: HemisphereGames.com

Choosing the phone that’s right for you involves many things: camera quality, speed, screen size, keyboard features, and much more. What carrier the phone is on is not usually something people give as much thought to. In fact, many people simply limit their options to the network they’re currently on and pick a phone from there. When it comes to Android, however, choosing your carrier is an important step in choosing your phone. The question then becomes, “What carrier has the best selection of Android phones?”

The fine folks over at the popular Android blog, Phandroid, have taken it upon themselves to help answer that question! They write:

“It’s been three and a half years since Google introduced the very operating system we write about everyday – Android – and every major (and many minor) United States carrier has phones running it. Some more than others, of course, but who has the best lineup? I take a gander at offerings from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, US Cellular, MetroPCS and more and at the end I’ll let you know who I think has the best Android lineup.”

Curious to know what carrier has the best selection? Need some information on the best phones for each carrier? Hit the “Read” link below and head over to Phandroid to get all the details! An be sure to let us know who you think has the best Android phones in the comments!

Read…

RIM Introduces BlackBerry Balance

Image Credit: RIM

Just the other day, Research In Motion (RIM) announced a new feature coming to BlackBerry smartphones: Balance. Balance is a technology that allows companies to define what’s work and what’s personal, then act on that information. For example, Balance can be setup to restrict a user from copying text from a business email into a social networking app. The ultimate goal, of course is to give the company more control over secure data while allowing employees to use one device for both work and personal needs.

At CompanionLink, we’re big fans of keeping your business data separated from your personal data. We’ve written recently talking about how you can use CompanionLink and DejaOffice to do just that, making it much easier for you to use your phone at work and at home. Balance does not appear to offer the same types of features as we discuss, but rather focuses on making a personal device more secure. Initially, the direct benefit to the employee may seem low. However, it is important to remember that, for many, Balance will be the key that finally allows them to carry just one device!

How do you keep your business and personal data separated? Will Balance change things for the better for you? Let us know in the comments!