Tech Tip – Alexa Skills Commands That Could Help At Work

Amazon’s Echo speakers may be used mainly in the home, but putting the listening / privacy fears aside, they can be useful in a business setting, particularly in small business settings / home offices. With this in mind, here are four skills commands that could help you:

Create Reminders – Alexa can act like a personal assistant. For example, you can tell Alexa exactly what you need to remember e.g. business appointments on certain days / times and it will remind you of that task and time. To create a reminder, say the task and its time such as, “Alexa, remind me to review customer accounts 10 a.m. every Monday”.

Create Distinctive Voice Profiles – By setting up voice profiles, Alexa can distinguish who is issuing the command e.g. different people in the office can ask “Alexa, what’s on my calendar?” Ask Alexa for details of how to do it.

ChatBot Skill – By enabling the ChatBot skill, workers can audibly request Alexa to post on their behalf. This can aid productivity. It can be achieved by linking an Amazon account to a Slack account. Users can then post to a specific channel by asking simply Alexa.

Find Your Phone – You can use Alexa to help you find your phone by using your voice. This is a free skill available from Amazon here: The phone should ring even if it is on silent. It may not work if your phone is in Do Not Disturb mode, but you can add multiple people by name to call different phones instead of just one.

Tech Tip – Create ‘For Follow Up’ Folder In Outlook

If you use Microsoft Outlook and you don’t want an important email that you need to follow up with to get lost among the deluge of each new day’s emails, you can keep track of it by creating a ‘For Follow Up’ folder. Here’s how:

– Click the Folder tab on the top of Outlook: File > New > Search Folder.

– The New Search Dialog Box will pop up.

– Select the ‘Mail Flagged for Follow Up’ option from the ‘Reading Mail’ dropdown list.

– Click ‘Ok’, then right click ‘For Follow Up’ in the Navigation Pane.

– Right click, and then click ‘Show in Favourites’.

– You will now have a ‘For Follow Up’ Folder amongst your other folders.

n.b. If you hover above the time-stamp in the message, you can click the follow up flag to add it to the list, instead of having to choose it from the Follow Up drop-down from the tool bar.

Tech Tip – Prevent Travel Bag Laptop Battery Wake-Up

Sometimes your laptop can spring into life while still in your travel bag. This can drain the battery. Here’s how to prevent it from happening.

On a PC running Windows 10, change the behaviour of the system so that closing the lid causes the system to hibernate instead of sleeping. This means that the system won’t start-up until you instruct it to.

  1. Open Control Panel (or use the search box on the taskbar).
  2. Search for Power Options – this will open the dialog box.
  3. From the list of links on the left, click ‘Choose what closing the lid does’. Every modern laptop should have the option to define settings for 'When I close the lid'.
  4. Change the behaviour under 'On Battery to Hibernate' and then save your changes.

Tech Tip – Find Files By Date

If you have produced and stored many files on your computer over time, in multiple folders, it can sometimes be difficult to find the file you need. One way to narrow the search in Windows 10 is to search by date. Here’s how:

  1. Choose the folder, drive, or library you want to search.
  2. Click in the search box (upper right corner of the File Explorer window).
  3. Type datemodified: operator (doesn’t matter if there’s a space after the colon), followed by a date / date range.

The format for the date range can be e.g. a single date in any standard date format, a range of dates e.g. 20/1/2018 .. 20/2/2018, a month or year or both, or a relative term e.g. last week, last month. Alternatively :

  1. Click in the search box to bring up the Search Tools tab on the ribbon.
  2. Click the Date Modified button.
  3. Choose one of the available options.

Tech Tip – Windows 10: Near Share

One helpful feature to look out for in the Windows 10 update this Spring will be ‘Near Share’ whereby nearby Windows 10 devices can share files and URLs with you via Bluetooth.

This feature is similar to Apple’s AirDrop, and it works in the following way:

  1. Apps e.g. Photos, Microsoft Edge and File Explorer display a Share icon.
  2. Click on the icon to see and chose local devices to share with by Bluetooth.
  3. The recipient gets a notification via the Action Centre.
  4. Acceptance of the notification by the recipient allows the transfer to take place.

Tech Tip – Windows 10: Keep Unwanted Software Off Computers You Support

If you help support your business and / or home computer, and you want to keep things secure and tidy by stopping other users from downloading unwanted software from sources you don’t trust onto the computer, here’s how…

To lock down Windows 10 so users can’t install new software unless it comes from a trusted source:

  • Go to Settings > Apps > Apps & Features.

Look for the Installing Apps setting at the top of the page. There should be three choices:

  1. Allow apps from anywhere (the default).
  2. Warn me before installing apps from outside the Windows Store. Selecting this option will mean that any standard user accounts will need your permission to continue.
  3. Allow apps from the Store only. Select this option if you don’t want users to be able to install apps from anywhere except the trusted Windows Store.

Desktop programs that you’ve already installed before enabling this restriction will continue to run.

Using these restrictions, you can set up a PC with a selection of trusted apps and then lock it down so nothing changes without your permission.

Tech Tip – Timeline For Windows 10

Currently being tested and likely to come out soon in an update is a browser history for your Windows desktop known as ‘Timeline’. This feature will allow you to search through files, apps and sites you’ve previously had open, and jump back and pick up what you were doing.

What’s more, it will extend to PCs, Android handsets and iPhones running Microsoft’s Cortana. This means that you will be able to resume what you were doing on another device. Cortana will also suggest tasks to continue.

How it will work:

  1. An icon will be added (bottom left, next to search) on the Windows 10 desktop.
  2. Clicking the icon will show the running applications.
  3. Timeline activities will be displayed below this, plus a vertical dated timeline will be shown on the right-hand side of the screen. You will be able to see activities you were working on in the past and quickly click back to them.

Keep an eye out for this helpful feature in the next update.

Tech Tip – Malware Protection With Windows 10

As the Malwarebytes annual State of Malware report shows, malware is a popular tool used by cyber criminals. With this in mind, “Windows Defender” on Windows 10 can help you to adopt a multi-layered approach to protect your systems. Windows Defender is a security tool that can be set up to block malware attacks in real time, or it can perform a scan when you need it.

To use it:
Type “Windows Defender” into your taskbar.
Select Windows Defender app.
Make sure Real-time protection is on.

Tech Tip: Windows 10 – Create Multiple Desktops

If your work involves having different jobs that need different sets of apps, or if you need to have lots of different things open and you only have one monitor, you may find that it helps to create multiple desktops.

To create multiple desktops:

  • Click on the task view button next to the search bar on the taskbar.
  • Go to the button at the bottom-right corner of your screen labelled ‘+ New desktop.’
  • Click on this to create a new desktop.
  • To switch between desktops, click on the task view button and then, click on either of the thumbnails at the foot of the screen.

Tech Tip – Windows 10: “Print” Documents Straight To PDF

Windows 10 finally lets you “print” documents to PDF, which means that you no longer need to install a third-party app to save a web page or document for use offline. You can now simply select PDF as a printing output option.

To Print to PDF in Windows 10:

  1. Open up your document e.g. in a text editor like Microsoft Word (this actually works from any program that lets you print, not just Word, and not just with a text document).
  2. Click File > Print.
  3. Under Printer or Destination, choose Print as a PDF.