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This is important. http://ow.ly/i/v18lf

This is important. http://ow.ly/i/v18lf

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Old article, still true. #Zoom.us

Why IT Admins Love Zoom

The link above, provided from the Zoom.us blog, explains the reasons why I, as an IT administrator, prefer Zoom over other alternatives, including Microsoft Skype for Business. H323 compatibility is a requirement for my environment, and Zoom was the most cost-effect of the options that offer that feature. The user interface is nearly ubiquitous across all platforms that I have tested, from Android to iOs, and from Mac OS to Windows 10, similar experiences have been had by all.

One area of improvement that I would like to see from Zoom is the capability to run reports that span the distance of more than one month. I would love to do a dump of all of my calls to a .CSV file for manipulation after the fact. I expect that as the product matures the reporting will improve.

The recording piece of Zoom is very easy to use, and produces a very manageable sized file. A one hour recording was approximately 45mb, and formatted as an MP4. It would be nice to see a little more flexibility within the recording, for instance, I would love to be able to dictate which streams are captured, and to be able to easily switch that based upon the needs at a given time. I believe this can be done by simply changing who is doing the recording, but this creates a headache for adjustments on the fly.

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Using your iPhone to Record a Phone Call

Last week, I was to perform a phone interview for a story I was writing about my job-shadowing experience. Unfortunately, the subject of my story was out of the office, and since I was on a tight deadline, I needed to get the interview done as soon as possible. I have an Apple iPhone 7, and I realized that I did not have a good way to record the conversation for reference at a later time. At one point I had a Samsung Galaxy S3 and it had the ability to record a phone call conversation, in 2011, six years ago, come on Apple. I digress. I toyed with the idea of doing a Zoom.us meeting because I knew it would allow me to record, but I did not want to force the subject of my interview to download a piece of software to complete what was already considered a favor to me.

It hit me that what I could do was to call my interviewee, and then call my cell phone (from my cell phone) and send it to voicemail; this would allow me to record the interview and listen later with it in my voicemail box. The interview was going to be approximately 10 minutes, so I knew that the voicemail option would work for this amount of time. I am happy to say that it did work, and it may be an option for you in the future. I will add a disclaimer that you must let anyone that is involved in a recorded conversation that they are indeed being recorded. In this instance, it was already discussed with my subject, and I knew that it was okay to record the conversation.

Thanks for reading! Please follow me on Twitter: @JoshuaJSimpson

Information Technology

Remove a Picture’s Background – Microsoft PowerPoint

Recently, I was working on creating a filter for Snapchat, and I realized that I did not have Adobe Photoshop on that machine. What I was looking to do would require me to remove the background from a picture, something I had done many times in Photoshop, but something I had never done without Photoshop. I quickly stumbled upon a feature within Microsoft PowerPoint 2016. After researching, it appears that the feature is available on any version of PowerPoint 2013 and newer.

 

The process works like this:

 

  1. Open Microsoft PowerPoint. Create a new document, and start with a blank slide.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 11.48.20 AM

  1. Click on the Insert tab and then click Pictures, and Picture from File.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 11.50.44 AM

  1. Click the Remove Background button.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 11.55.40 AM

  1. You may need to do some adjusting to get the background correctly, and entirely removed. You can continue to click on spaces of background that may have been inadvertently included with your photo. You can also click on the purple area to add pieces of your foreground image that you would like to keep, this will adjust the area that PowerPoint will remove from the photo.

Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 11.59.07 AM.png

5. Once you are satisfied with your adjustments, hit the esc Right-click on your photo, and click Save as Picture…Screen Shot 2017-04-16 at 11.59.26 AM.png6. Name the file as you desire, and you are ready to import it into the next step of your project.

 

I was amazed at how easy this was to do in Microsoft PowerPoint. You can also use this method in Microsoft Word. I find that it is not as precise as using Adobe Photoshop, but it does a good enough job to get by with in most cases.

 

 

Thanks for reading. Please follow me on Twitter: @JoshuaJSimpson

 

Information Technology

Everything is replaceable. Except data.

Being my first post, I want to lead off with some background on my thought process, and how I have come to think the way that I do. I speak from a position of experience on the things that I plan to share with you now, and in the future.

The most important lesson I have ever learned during my career, I learned this lesson approximately one week into my career working as a student technician for a university helpdesk. It was a slow day, and I was assigned to work the helpdesk phone line for the first four hours of the day. Someone from the Dean’s office called in a service incident (a computer problem) saying that the Dean was having an issue with “computer slowness.” A little background about “computer slowness” as it is typically reported, can mean quite literally, anything. It could be the network connection to the web, it could be paging files from a server or slowness during an application opening, or as I would find out, in this case it could be due to a failing hard drive.

I received the call, logged a ticket, and left my post on the phones to head to the Dean’s suite to troubleshoot the issue before the Dean had to go to her afternoon meetings. Being a rookie, I knew this was an important call, but I had no idea that I should have taken a senior technician with me on the call. A moment after sitting in front of the computer, I noticed that EVERYTHING was running slowly. I opened the email client – computer froze, opened a word document – computer froze, opened disk defragmentation tool – computer froze. At this time I should have disconnected the computer from the network, removed the hard drive, and used an interface cable to remove as many files as I could before trying to troubleshoot any further. I continued to press on, running any anti-malware software that I could find, a few hours later the computer gave me the BSOD (blue screen of death) and the hard drive had completely failed. My heart sank. After feeling defeated for a moment, I called my mentor, a senior technician who had worked for the university for over a decade. After giving me plenty of gruff for not getting him involved sooner, he said to me, while I was feeling at my lowest, “I received the same call yesterday, I ordered the Dean a new hard drive, and I performed a backup.”

Thankfully the Dean’s data had been saved, and I had learned a valuable lesson that I still carry with me to this day: everything on the computer is replaceable, except the data. I put myself into a position, by not backing up the Dean’s files immediately, that could have resulted in a catastrophic loss of data.

This is a long way of me telling you that you need to continually back up your data to a cloud service, network drive, or external hard drive. It is a simple task that can save you a lot of heartache.