Private clouds for advisory firms usually have a silver lining. Other times, however, they don’t let the sunshine in and can hinder your firm.
Private clouds are nothing new. A private cloud is very often based on old “terminal services” technology that has been around for over a decade. This allows you to put desktop applications on a Web server and use it securely. So instead of keeping a server in your office, you might put it in a hosting facility.
When using this type of private cloud, you can derive some important benefits. Your apps are accessible from the Web and employees can access them securely from any Web connection. Plus your servers are safer in a hosting facility than in your office.
However, this type of private cloud is not the latest and best technology and has some big disadvantages versus other options for moving to the cloud.
A newer technology for creating private clouds uses “virtualization” to emulate a desktop experience in the cloud. This newer technology allows each user to have his own unique desktop, while the older type of private cloud set up means that all your users see the same desktop. The new private cloud technology makes it easier to manage printers and other peripherals and can offer better security.
But both types of private clouds offer disadvantages when compared with Web applications. Web applications are the most modern ecosystem and will almost always offer the best software and user experience. Software companies are not putting resources into improving desktop apps because Web apps offer much better economies of scale. They don’t need to be hosted in a private cloud and their features are much more easily updated and offer better security.
A4A is going to be offering a series of webinars beginning today to help advisors understand the benefits of private clouds, their drawbacks, and the different kinds of private clouds. The series will be tapping the expertise of IT consulting firms from around the country that focus on serving financial advisors.
We’re going to make this very confusing area of technology understandable and we’re going to tell you how much it costs to do these things right. We’ll explore the limitations of private clouds being offered to advisors by software vendors and explain how Microsoft Office and Exchange fit in with private clouds.
Financial advisors use a lot of the same documents all the time. Sure, you also create new documents, but you probably have a few Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher documents that you must refer to or update frequently. Here’s how to make them more easily accessible, assuming you are using Windows 7 or Windows 8.
First, some basics: At the bottom of the screen, your Taskbar displays which apps are open on your computer.
You may know that you can "pin" apps to make them always appear in your taskbar. Simply right click on an icon in the taskbar and choose "Pin this program to taskbar," as shown above, and that app will always appear in your taskbar.
You may also know that when you right click on any Office icon in your taskbar, a box like the one shown above pops up listing your most recently used documents in that Office application.
What you may not know, however, is that when you right click on any document in the recent documents list, you can pin it to the recent documents list. Just click on "Pin to this list" and the document will always show up atop of your recent documents list.
Password Meters That Tell You If You're Creating A Strong Password Really Do Work
Monday, May 13, 2013 21:01
Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and Microsoft are among the first to test the effect that the ubiquitous password meters have on real users choosing passwords. They found that meters grading the strength of passwords had a measurable impact in helping users pick stronger passcodes that weren't used on other accounts.
What's more interesting is Ars Technica's suggestions that sites ban the use of the one-million most commonly used words in the English language. In other words, password meters would reject dictionary and names.
11 Reasons Why Financial Advisors Should Consider A Windows 8 Ultraportable
Every week or two lately, another Windows laptop, tablet, or laptop-tablet is being launched. It's confusing. Since most advisors don't keep up with all the latest changes in computer hardware, here's a list of 10 reasons why a Windows 8 ultraportable makes sense for financial advisors.
1. A Good Way To Try Out Windows 8. Most advisors move slowly on technology adoption, and with good reason. Run what you know works well. An ultrportable is a great way to try out Windows 8 and Microsoft's touch interface. Before replacing or upgrading systems, try out one PC-tablet using Windows 8.
2. If you like the iPad, you’ll like this. The Windows touch interface is as good as the iOS interface on Apple’s iPad and other Apple touch products. If you like that easy interface, why not extend it to Microsoft products? Whatever you do on your iPad now, you’ll be able to on your Widows touch device. But you’ll have the added convenience of integration with Microsoft Office and other Microsoft-only apps you use.
3. One Less Device At Risk. Say you can eliminate your tablet by buying one of the new Windows ultraportables debuting nearly every week lately. It will be a laptop and a tablet for you. You may be able to do away with one of those devices by replacing it with a ThinkPad Helix from Lenovo, which is expected in the next three weeks. Security risk is lowered with one less device to manage and you benefit from integration of your mobile apps with your desktop apps.
4.Runs Desktop Apps. Professional software for financial advisors is made by small companies catering to a small audience, and older desktop programs that have no Web version may never get a web version or run on an operating system other than Microsoft. Examples include large programs like Advent Axys and Schwab PortfolioCenter as well as little known apps used for analytics, IRA distribution planning, and tax management. You’ll be able to continue to run those vintage programs, some of which are very powerful, by sticking with a Microsoft PC.
5. Lighter Than A Laptop. An ultraportable could weighs half as much or less than your current laptop.
6.Battery Life. The Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, which is expected to debut by the end of this month, will have a six-hour battery-life in tablet mode and a 10-hour battery-life in laptop mode. That’s with an i7 2GHz processor that runs at a 3.2 GHz top speed, which in laptop mode is fast enough and powerful enough for a user who regularly creates spreadsheets or runs desktop portfolio management software. So you get better battery life than on most laptops and the option to use the device as a tablet. At the end of 2013, new processors in ultraportables will significantly improve battery life.
7. Inexpensive. Knowing advisors, this should be at the top of the list of requirements. Ultraportables cost half as much as your last laptop but give you as much professor power, RAM and storage or more.
8.Live Tiles. The main page of the Windows 8 operating system (OS) is comprised of 30, 50 or 60 square and rectangular tiles. Each tile is a window into information in your life and business. Some tiles are “live,” streaming Web news from your social networks and displaying news feeds from your favorite sources. That’s nice. Your portfolio management app can create a live tile showing you prices of your largest holding. Your financial planning app can write a live tile displaying how many clients are off plan or have seen a lower net worth than last year. It’s a great way of streaming information.
9.Cooler Presentations And Videos. Since Windows 8 operates on a touch interface as well as mouse navigation, you can use a stylus or your finger to draw on presentations. Dr. Craig Israelsen this past Friday was speaking at a webinar when he circled some key statistics using his mouse to make his point. The circle was crooked because he did it with a mouse. With touch computer, you can draw on slides during a presentation.
10.SkyDrive. SkyDrive is Microsoft’s answer to Dropbox and Google Drive. You could use Dropbox, Google Drive, or some other online storage center, but Skydrive will be better integrated than any other document storage system you’ll choose.
11.The Enemy You Know. We all grew up hating Microsoft for its dominance and, at times, incompetence. It’s the enemy you know. If you’ve stuck it out with Microsoft this far, switching to Apple’s iOS operating system at this stage makes little sense. While iOS is great, Windows 8 is about as good and merges touch interface with a mouse-driven one. Google’s operating system, Chrome, and its ChromeBook devices, simply do not offer the Office suite and off-line capabilities most businesses demand—not yet, at least. While Microsoft is far from perfect, you know how to use it, you know its limitations.
The Nokia Lumia 928, the best Windows phone ever offered by Verizon, the nation’s most reliable 4G wireless network, debuts next Thursday. It’s a big deal.
Windows phones have never been cool and became more and more irrelevant over the last decade. This is expected to be the first cool Windows phone ever, and it’s a major step in Microsoft’s mobile strategy.
What’s almost too good to be true is that the Lumia 928 will cost just $99 after a $50 mail in rebate, as long as you sign new two-year service agreement. It will be available on May 16 at Verizon stores and VerizonWireless.com. In addition, for a limited time, you’ll get a $25 credit for Windows Phone apps and games with the purchase of the phone.
The tech press is all caught up with the camera on this phone. While the camera is cool, what advisors care most about is the Windows 8 touch interface and the phone’s integration with your office.
This phone runs on the Windows Phone 8 operating system, which means your phone can use many of the same programs you use in your office, like Word, Excel, and Outlook. You can access your private cloud and run it from your phone. With Windows 8 integrating touch devices with desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones, your technology gets standardized and, thus, easier to manage and use.
For advisors, using the Windows Phone operating system makes your strategy for moving to the cloud less confusing. It’s still confusing, but less confusing because all your computers are using the same operating system and apps. Hallelujah!
The Lumia 928 supports wireless charging, near-field communication, near field communication for electronic payments and exchanging data with other devices, and a great camera.