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Advanced IT News

Stickboy announces free remote work prep services for affected businesses!

Is your business ready for remote work? Stickboy is donating FREE IT lockdown prep. Let us configure your work computers so you’re ready when the mandatory work-from-home order comes.

Your business will be back online with a simple flip of the switch. Same computer, different chair.

Contact us to learn more. 239-206-1193 | hello@stickboy.ai

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Advanced IT News Software Development Stickboy Creative This Week From Stickboy Tips

Free Services Your Business Needs Right Now. Here’s a list of FREE and discounted services for your school, church, or business

With so many people now telecommuting from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and organizations around the world are scrambling to adopt remote-work practices. Whether its video conferencing, remote team collaboration, virtual classrooms, or other activities, there are free and discounted services available to you. We’ve put together a curated list to help you sort through the chaos of work-from-home!

Google Hangouts Meet

Focus: Video conferencing service and online productivity tools.

Offer: Google Cloud has announced free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet videoconferencing capabilities for all customers of its G-Suite and G-Suite for Education services. This enables calls of up to 250 people and also allows meetings to be recorded and saved on Google Drive.

Loom

Focus: Video messaging service.

Offer: Loom is scrapping a limit on the number of videos that a user can access under its free plan through July 1 (previously the limit was 25) and extending the free trial period of its premium Loom Pro service from 14 to 30 days. It’s also making Loom Pro free for students and teachers at K-12 schools, universities and other educational institutions with no time limit.

Microsoft Teams

Focus: Team collaboration and communication platform.

Offer: Microsoft Teams, the company’s collaboration and communication platform, is scrapping the user limit on its free version, which was previously restricted to 300 people. Microsoft has also announced it is making the basic version of its Office 365 enterprise suite of productivity tools such as Word and Excel free for six months to organizations, which gives users access to the premium version of Microsoft Teams.

Slack

Focus: Team collaboration and communication platform.

Offer: Slack is offering free upgrades to paid plans for organizations working on coronavirus research, response or mitigation, as well as to local media organizations and scientific publications covering these areas. The company has also removed the 250-user cap on its Standard Plan service for all nonprofits for three months.

Zoom

Focus: Video conferencing service.

Offer: Zoom has removed a 40-minute meeting limit on its free Basic accounts for students and teachers at K-12 schools in America. The company has partnered with Clever, the most widely used single sign-on service used by U.S. school districts, so that schools who don’t have access to its service can get it quickly. It has also scrapped time limits on meetings for K-12 schools in a growing list of other countries impacted by COVID-19.

And as always, Stickboy

Focus: Technology Partner

Offer: With a flip of a switch any of our clients can have remote access to any of their workstations inside their office as long as they have internet access.  We are giving away two months FREE of our services to get you through this time.

If you need any help implementing these or other remote-work solutions, please contact us today.

239-206-1193 | hello@stickboy.ai

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News Tips

The Art Of Running A Productive Business When Your Team’s No Longer In Arm’s Reach

Anxiety, worry, and uncertainty. These are three feelings plaguing the workforce in these trying times. Luckily, you have us, so worry no more! We’re going to review for you some quick tips for maintaining an excellent and amiable corporate culture remotely so your team can continue to be the rock stars you hired them to be.

The secret ingredient in our secret sauce? Meetings. Hold internal meetings. Already holding internal meetings? Hold more. You want to aim for (at a minimum) daily standup meetings. To keep things productive, focus on these tips.

Turn On Your Webcam

A photo says a thousand words. A video could fill a novel with words. The easiest way to replace face-to-face contact is to encourage cam-to-cam contact. Seeing your team (and letting them see you) will build trust and reassure your team. There are tons of video conferencing options out there (Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, etc), so just pick one and run with it!

Provide A Dial-In Option

Video conferencing is great, but it does have some hardware requirements (webcam and microphone). Additionally, with an increase in remote work, some cities are reporting slowing internet speeds. To combat these issues, ensure your video conferencing solution allows for your team to participate via phone. Make it clear to them, however, that video-first is the new norm.

Test It, Then Test Again

In times of crisis, your team will be looking to leadership for guidance. You have the solemn responsibility of appearing calm and composed at all times. To that end, make sure your technology works before the meeting starts. Nothing derails a meeting quicker than technical difficulty. Simply hop on the call 5-10 minutes early and make sure video’s coming in clear, audio is working, and all the bits-and-bobs are in place. Most video conferencing software has a quick “mic check” you can run before the meeting.

Put On Your Best Face

Avoid minimal distractions on your video feed. Remote workers should attend the call in a designated spot. The background should be clean and their faces should be visible. It lends the meeting the professionalism and seriousness it deserves.

Have An Agenda, And Keep It Short

Before every meeting assemble a clear agenda and distribute it to the team. Keep the meeting short (this is a touchpoint, not a seminar). Keep presentations to a minimum, and (again) keep them short. You want to keep everyone interested and on task.

Break The Ice

Incorporate small icebreakers into your meeting. The hokier, the better. Small activities like this remind your team that they are indeed a team. Encourage participation. Strive for laughter. They may seem silly, but they make a difference.

Put Someone In Charge

Keeping in-person discussions on-topic is hard enough. Virtual ones can turn into a circus quickly. Assign each meeting a facilitator who’s in charge of guiding the conversation. This will allow your team to focus on the content of the meeting without being thrown off-course by idle chatter.

Call On People

Video conferences can be intimidating, and it’s commonplace for one or two voices to take control of the conversation. Make sure everyone has their voice heard. If they don’t speak up, call on them. When it comes to decision making, try to “go around the table” before the decision is finalized.

Tackle The Tough Issues

It may seem natural to wait to discuss tough issues until everyone is in person, but that may not be an issue. So don’t shy away from the controversial topics. It is better to address it now rather than regret it later.

That Wasn’t So Hard, Now Was It?

Not being able to work together in the same room with colleagues will become a major hurdle in the coming weeks, but with small adjustments you can quickly overcome this challenge. Meeting virtually is a learned behavior, and you’ll be amazed how much you can get out of it once you and your team begin to be comfortable working this way. 

Remember, a small investment in preparedness now will have a huge impact on your business’s profitability and longevity.

Need help with getting a remote work solution in place? Get in touch today. We’ll help you out!

hello@stickboy.ai | 239-206-1193

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News

A Message From Our CEO: How Can We Help Amid Coronavirus?

Watch The Video Here

As the CEO of Stickboy and a longtime resident of SWFL, I wanted to reach out to my fellow business owners to offer some help.Coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting us all, and it’s important to me that I do what I can for my community.

We’re all in this together. With the nature of your business, working from home may not be an option for all of your employees, but if you could keep a number of employees productive and work from home, would that help you?

If this is something you are interested in getting help with, my team is standing by to assist. Call today for a friendly consultation. I have instructed my team to give all new business clients 50% OFF their setup of these remote employee work configurations.

Please call the Stickboy team today at 239-206-1193 to get the help you need.

May we all get through this challenging time safely and profitably.

Sincerely,
Matt Bernhardt
CEO of Stickboy

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Advanced IT News

Survivor’s Guide To This New (Remotely Connected) World

Let’s be honest. No one wants to be having a conversation about remote work right now. However, with the fears surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19) rapidly growing, now is the time to talk. Now is the time to ensure the continuity of your business. If you don’t, you may not have a business to go back to.

Did you know:

Boy, those businesses must be in a scary position right now. Luckily, you have us.

Start With The Basics

Preparing for a remotely-connected world can be a daunting task, so we’ll focus on bite-sized tasks. Your first step: ensure you have all the physical hardware required.

Workstations. Does every employee have either a portable workstation (laptop) or a viable home computer? If your business uses a Desktop-as-a-service system already (can’t recommend it enough!) then do all employees have a suitable client device?

Remote Connection Software. Do you own any on-site hardware such as servers or network storage devices? If so, you’ll need to put in place a software for connecting to resources from outside your business’s local network.

Workstation Peripherals. If your team isn’t equipped with laptops, you’ll likely need mice, keyboards, and monitors as well. Don’t forget the cables to connect it all, too!

Communication Devices. We can’t emphasize this enough. Remote workers need to communicate. It helps productivity. It helps morale. It keeps the gear moving. Make sure all team members have access to webcams, microphones, and a phone.

Inventory Your Software

If you’re picking up new computers, you have a little bit of set up ahead of you. Take this time to inventory all the software necessary to run your business. Using web-based software? You’ll need an internet browser. Does your accountant need Quickbooks installed? What about an office suite and other productivity software? Write it all down and keep that list somewhere safe.

Audit Communication Lines

During a remote work situation, communication is key. Your team needs to be able maintain an unprecedented level of communication in order for this work-from-home experiment to succeed. To that end, you have some homework.

Phones. Do all of your workers have a phone? If not, bite the bullet and issue them a corporate phone. This will grant you guaranteed access to your team and allows your team to reach each other.

Phone Directory. Document all employee phone numbers and email addresses (leadership included) and distribute a phone directory to all employees. 

Email. Ensure your corporate email is sending and receiving reliably. Are your emails going to spam? Now is the time to address this issue.

Communication Plan. Document in writing who reports to who. When will team meetings be held? How is progress being communicated? How are delays and issues being communicated?

Talk To Your Lawyer

Finally, the uncomfortable bit of advice: talk to your lawyer. Remote work and telecommuting raise a number of unique legal concerns. Ask your lawyer:

These are questions that have no easy answer, but should be addressed before they cause greater issues for your business.

That’s Nice, Now What?

We’re doing everything in our power to spread the word about business continuity in this remotely-connected world. We won’t let coronavirus wreck your business. Download the free Emergency Remote Work Checklist and get started future-proofing your business. Too much work? Get in touch today, and we’ll make the process a breeze!

 

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News Software Development

Preempting & Resolving Health Crises Through Artificial Intelligence

 

We’ve got two quick thoughts for you:

In 2018, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia estimated that the development of a single vaccine takes more than 10 years.

A vaccine for COVID-19 is projected to begin human testing in Q3 2020, less than a year after the initial infections were first reported.

A.I. is powering that.

The 2021 White House budget allocates $249M to go towards the research and adoption of artificial intelligence technologies, and with good reason. A.I. is everywhere, and its domain is ever growing.

A.I. has been popularized as a tool for growing sales, improving customer retention, and driving product innovation; but non-commercial organizations are turning the power of artificial intelligence to new and greater problems.

Ye Olde Disease Control

The first academically recognized vaccination was performed in 1796 by Edward Jenner. He immunized a young boy from Smallpox by infecting him with an equally nasty (but less deadly) version of the disease: Cowpox. And how was this vaccine discovered? The ever popular guess-and-check method.

Let’s fast forward. One of the most widely hailed vaccines, the Polio vaccine, debuted in 1955. It’s creator, Jonas Salk, became a national hero. The vaccine works by injecting “dead” Poliovirus strains into the recipient, triggering an immune response. And how was this vaccine discovered? Guess-and-check again, but with monkeys this time.

(Not-so-fun fact: over 9,000 monkeys were forced to contract poliovirus during the course of mankind’s research into this disease.)

West Nile Virus? Guess-and-check, but with horses. Ebola? Guess-and-check with mice. Then more monkeys. Prion diseases? More mice, more monkeys, and a smattering of guinea pigs. 

You get where I’m going with this, right? There’s a better way.

Enter Artificial Intelligence

It’s a whole new world. With the explosive growth of cloud computing, A.I. has gained traction and is quickly expanding outside the bounds of corporate America. Particularly exciting and impacting humankind as a whole, the healthcare industry has made a whole-hearted embrace of these emerging technologies.

Which brings us back to Coronavirus and our quick stats. With over 3,000 deaths and 93,000 infected, we do not have the luxury of waiting 10+ years for a vaccine to be developed by traditional means. Luckily, we don’t have to.

Innovative research labs are utilizing A.I. to fully synthesize and digitally test vaccines before animal or human testing even begins.

From a high level, the process is really quite simple.

  • An artificially intelligent “chemist” synthesizes medical compounds. (Sounds difficult, but it’s a process we’ve been doing since 1832.)
  • Another A.I. (this one a “doctor”) administers the compound to digital “patients”.
  • The results of the compound’s application are documented fed back to the synthesizer.
  • New compounds are synthesized by mutating and cross-breeding previously generated compounds.

The best part? It’s already been done. In 2019 Australian researchers announced a new flu vaccine that was developed entirely by artificial intelligence.

And that’s just the flashiest use. When you dig down deeper, A.I. has made great splashes in pandemic management.  Data company, BlueDot, has been using A.I. to predict outbreaks for community and zoonotic diseases. Epidemiologists are using A.I. to determine common disease “features” and target outreach efforts. The field of genomics is exploring the use of deep learning to identify genetic diseases well before they begin to express symptoms.

A Whole New World

We live in a scary world, but we have an exciting future. We are face-to-face with a technological revolution. Innovation is taking us to a brighter horizon. Artificial intelligence is saving the monkeys.

Want to keep your business on the forefront of this new wave of emerging technology? Get in touch today.

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Advanced IT News

Quick Bites: Propelling Business Growth With Technology

Let’s not get bogged down in the details. It’s simple. Technology is about innovation, and business technology is about growth through innovation.

Savvy business owners (and if you’re reading this, you must be one yourself) know technology is more than simple automation. It’s not about mending or repairing your current business. It’s about growing your business in new and exciting ways!

For today’s Quick Bite, we’ve got two simple ways technology can immediately help grow your business.

Improve Productivity and Capacity

As a business owner, you always want your team working to their pay grade. Every minute your team spends on mundane or routine tasks is minute lost that they could be spending on more specialized and profitable tasks. Chasing emails, filing paperwork, redundant data entry. These are all tasks that–to be frank–are beneath you and your staff.

Business technology is about automating the mundane so that your team has more time to shine on the tasks they’re uniquely qualified to complete. Tasks such as sales, customer relations, business development, and more.

The size and scale of productivity technology has grown considerably in recent years with the advent of mobile and cloud technologies. Most of the problems you face today are actual problems of yesterday. You just need the right technology team to get you through to your goal: a business running smarter.

Whether its putting you in a brand new operational software, migrating your sales team to a customized CRM, or simply integrating multiple existing softwares to reduce duplicate entry. The answers are out there, you just need to be pointed in the right direction.

Work Remotely, Expand Globally

The growth of cloud computing and remote work go hand-in-hand. With advancements in mobile technology, your business needs to be able to operate outside of its brick-and-mortar office.

Mobile and accessible technology promotes a positive workplace atmosphere as staff enjoy an improved balance between work and life. Happy workers are more productive, work harder, and generate greater profits. It’s a no-lose situation!

But it’s more than just morale.

Mobilizing your workforce allows for a more agile business. Emergencies and priorities are easier to manage when your workspace expands outside of your physical office. Collaboration becomes a breeze and the world becomes your oyster.

So what’s next?

Investing in technology pays dividends when you have the right team backing you. Is your business ready for explosive growth? Let’s talk today.

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News

Stickboy managing partner Reema Bhatia voted SWFRTP’s Technology Woman of the Year!

Reema Bhatia was recently recognized as the 2019 Technology Woman of the Year by the Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership. After moving to SWFL in 2006, she launched three digital companies and is currently the managing partner of Stickboy CreativeVectra Digital and The Ignite Partners.

“I love technology because I believe in progress. Technology increases efficiency, helps spreads knowledge, and ultimately improves lives,” said Bhatia.

Bhatia specializes in blockchain systems, artificial intelligence (AI) and emergent technology convergence. She hopes to effect lasting and purpose-driven change through emergent technologies and encourage women and minorities to aspire to STEM careers.

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News

Stickboy welcomes software developer

FORT MYERS — Stickboy has announced the addition of Aaron Christiano to its team of award-winning software developers.

“Aaron brings a fresh set of skills and perspectives that will propel our custom software solutions and services to new heights,” says Bryant Jackson, Head of Software Development at Stickboy.

Christiano, a 2018 honors graduate of Hodges University, works with backend technologies that include Django Frameworks and Python and front-end technologies such as AngularJS and Angular2. As a software developer at Stickboy, he will have a close relationship with clients while creating code and building software that uses artificial intelligence and blockchain.

“It’s not every day you come across a person with Aaron’s ability to not only develop at a high level, but also be an exceptional communicator and great team member,” says Matt Bernhardt, CEO of Stickboy. “He’s a wonderful person, exceptionally talented  — and a U.S. Marine veteran with a lot of hardware experience. We couldn’t be happier to have him join our family.”

Stickboy is at the forefront of custom business technology in Fort Myers with its focus on artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, and machine learning. Stickboy was founded in 2007 by Reema Bhatia, a member of the Forbes Technology Council and 2019 Technology Woman of the Year award recipient. 

Christiano, who brings extensive experience in networked communications technologies and application-based suites to Stickboy, lives in Naples with his wife and two dogs.

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News

‘Game of Thrones’ AI: White horses & coffee cups, oh my

Once we saw the horse, nothing made sense anymore. For fun, we ran it through the AI to see what we would we get, along with our character predictions for the end of Season 8. We’re looking forward to the “Game of Thrones” finale tonight to see how they wrap up the craziness of last week!
Here is a link to our character predictions: http://blog.stickboycreative.com/stickboy-uses-artificial-intelligence-to-make-game-of-thrones-predictions/