We’re Coming…

Rugby players charging ahead on the field

Image from Flickr user phgaillard2001

From Los Angeles, California to Portland, Maine.

From St. Louis, Missouri to Denver, Colorado.

From Las Vegas, Nevada to Dallas, Texas.

From Boston, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California.

One hundred and twenty days after our merger we have banded together. Sixteen hundred strong. Best team, best services, best service.

We are coming to the aid of the enterprise customer who is seeking integrated and powerful hosted voice and managed services that span the country.

We are coming to deliver a premier partnership for all agents who are dedicated to getting the best for their loyal clients.

We are coming to recruit more seasoned A-Players to join the best team in the business.

Monolithic, consolidation-crazed incumbents – we are coming for your customers – who are tired of being ignored and taken for granted.

Who are we? You will soon know us by our new name. In the meantime, know that we are coming…

5 Tips to Successful Video Calling

With UCx, you have the power to instantly start an HD video call from your computer, desk phone, or mobile phone. But with great power comes great responsibility! Here are five tips to help you have the most successful video call possible.

1. Make eye contact.
Try to keep your eyes on your device’s camera, not on the screen, while speaking. This can be very difficult to do, since you’ll instinctively want to direct your eye contact to the person you see on the screen. But if you can pull it off, you won’t look like you’re staring off in to space!

2. Dress for success.
Now, I’m not saying you have to get your hair done or wear your finest suit every time you expect to be on video. But you can choose your everyday attire thoughtfully. Solid, muted colors generally look best on-screen. If possible, avoid wearing bright colors (including white) and busy patterns. I definitely recommend that you leave that neon plaid shirt at home.

3. Angle the camera correctly.
Make sure your camera is level with your face, especially if you’re using UCx on a laptop or smartphone. No one – I repeat, NO ONE – wants to see up your nose, and that’s the unflattering angle your callers will see if you angle the camera up towards your face.

4. Consider your background.
What will your callers see behind you? This may not be a concern if you’re in a conference room, but it will come into play if you’re calling in from your desk, at home, or on the road. So turn off those blinking Christmas lights that are hanging on your cubicle wall, because it’s going to be a huge distraction to your caller… and besides, the twelve days of Christmas are over now.

Screenshot of UCx video call

I didn’t follow my own rule. Maybe I should take that zombie warning sign down.

5. See the light.
If you’re near a window or a lamp, you may need to adjust them so you’re lighted properly. Too much light behind you and you’ll look all shadowy, like you’re in a witness protection program – and I’m sure that’s not a look you want to convey.

These five tips may seem trivial, but they’ll all add up to a professional appearance and a thoughtful demeanor. Practice these skills and everyone who calls you will be impressed with what they see on the screen.

2016 Was Not So Bad! It Brought Us These 5 Tech Breakthroughs

In the final weeks of 2016, it seemed like everyone wanted to lament about how it was the worst year ever. In fact, this has been such a widespread phenomenon that NPR weighed in by asking Should We All Just Stop Calling 2016 ‘The Worst’? Well, my answer to that question is an enthusiastic YES. Now that 2016 is officially over, let’s give it a proper send-off and start recognizing it for the good year that it really was.

Since DSCI is a technology company after all, let’s focus on just a few of the amazing tech breakthroughs that 2016 brought us.

    • Power over Wi-Fi. Imagine having a smart smoke detector that’s powered over wi-fi, so it never needs its batteries changed… that’s undoubtedly life-saving technology.
    • Transmit passwords through your body. Hold a doorknob with a smart lock in one hand, touch the fingerprint scanner on your smartphone in the other, and this technology will securely transmit your password through your body.
    • Augmented reality. There was far more to Pokemon Go than trying to catch an elusive Pikachu. This summer’s blockbuster game ushered in a new way for users and apps to interact.

Image from Flickr user ajturner

I have no doubt that 2017 will bring even more excitement and wonder! What was your favorite new tech from 2016, and what do you think 2017 holds in store for all of us?

The Most Effective Security Layer is Still An Educated User

business-collageMost end users in this day and age are considered savvy when it comes to basic computing in the workplace. Users are better able to do their work and manage through their days without assistance from the helpdesk.  Computers and software are evolving, but it doesn’t appear we as end users are motivated to evolve with them.

In the last 12 months, nearly every system I have seen infected by one of these threats has been allowed by a user that didn’t see the threat coming.  They believed they were just doing what their computer told them a million times to do: install a patch, a browser plugin, an app, or approve some security setting so they can proceed. Users are not looking at security as an offensive game.  Many still see it as the responsibility of their protective software and their IT teams.  We have been trained to expect to install things to allow us to continue doing what we were trying to do without question, and thus intrinsically trust the computer to take care of itself.

Times have changed. We cannot trust the computer or the anti-virus software to protect us. We need to be active participants in protecting ourselves from being exploited.  As IT professionals, we need to take the extra step in re-training our users to recognize threats in their many forms. As users, we need to recognize that, for better or worse, it is in our best interest to not trust that what’s in front of us is true, needed, or necessary.

Talk to people about all the different ways a computer can be compromised.  This will help put them into a defensive posture and might just help spot a rogue link or unexpected email.  Empower them to verify when they are being asked to install things until they are able to recognize friend from foe.

Educate them on what protective software is installed and how it works.  Help them understand what popups are supposed to look like for your company’s IT products and services. Show them what some of the common tricks are to get them to click on things they shouldn’t.

Show people how malicious code impacts their lives. Most of the time we are removed from the impact by the IT team that dutifully works to recover from the infection. Do a post mortem to really understand the time and money lost each time something gets through.  Put a value on it in terms people will understand, whether it is a dollar value, the number of hours spent, or even the bitcoin you have had to pay to recover irreplaceable data. Find a way to help people understand the true cost of infections.

One great example was a company that had a simple infection of a crypto virus from a now shut-down ransomware network. It encrypted 20,000,000 files over a long weekend.  Had they not been able to recover from backup, it would have ended the company. The total price tag would have been tens of millions of dollars lost along with 200 jobs. Happily, since their re-training efforts a year ago, they have not had a single infection since.

Our Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016

Image from Flickr user joannapoe

2016 is drawing to a close, and you know what that means… time for another end-of-the-year countdown! Here are DSCI’s top five blog posts of the year. Did your favorite make the list?

  1. It’s Unified Communications

“I am really getting tired of hearing people talk about Unified Communications (UC) as if it is some kind of PBX replacement product! It’s really a collection of communication software applications that can all share common connectivity, user information (such as identity and user availability/presence), and reach methods.”

  1. DDOS is No Match for DSCI

“What is the best kind of Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack? The kind you don’t even know happened.”

  1. Back to Vegas

“Vegas always attracts the risk-takers, but these folks are different. They challenge the status quo not by playing baccarat in the high-stakes lounge, but by continually reinventing themselves and their customers with the latest in technology that solves business problems.”

  1. DSCI Introduces ITx for Coffee Machines

“Your coffee maker is the foundation on which your business is built. If this critical business asset is not properly monitored and maintained, productivity can plummet due to car naps and coffee runs.” Did we mention this one was an April Fool’s joke? 🙂

  1. The Verizon Strike and You

“As you may be aware, the unionized wireline workforce at Verizon went on strike on April 13th due to an inability to reach an agreement on a new contract. If you are a DSCI customer, you might be wondering: how does this impact me?”

P.S. – For a trip even further down memory lane, check out our top blog posts of 2015, 2013, and 2012. (Not sure what happened with 2014!)

Don’t Let the Toll Fraud Grinch Ruin Your Christmas!

Toll fraud impacts companies of all sizes, from small businesses to multi-million dollar corporations. According to the Communication Fraud Control Association, the estimated global fraud losses in 2015 were $38.1 billion. United States based businesses are the #1 target globally for toll fraud.

A company’s biggest vulnerability to toll fraud is the company’s own employees. Weak user passwords are the #1 cause of unauthorized toll usage.

To help our customers combat toll fraud, DSCI can provide our UCx customers a security scorecard on demand which identifies users with vulnerable passwords.

security scorecard

The Grinch

Image from Flickr user PhelanRiessen

Users with a weak password are marked with a red circle. Users with an acceptable password are marked with a green circle.

To get your security scorecard, you can contact our support team at 877-344-7441 or open a request via our online portal at dash.dscicorp.com.

Protect your company from the toll fraud Grinch and get your security scorecard today!

Redundancy, Network Failover, Continuity and Redundancy Planning

istock_000006168188smallAs services continue to become more cloud-based, the importance of accessing these services becomes more critical. If you only have one Internet connection, your business is extremely reliant on that connection. If something happens to take that connection down, whether it be weather-related (like snow, sleet or ice) or due to human error (like crashing into a pole or digging up conduit), your business suffers. Getting a secondary Internet connection, even if it is only to be used in the event of a primary circuit failure, is a good business decision and will help ease your mind.

DSCI offers and supports many different types of failover configurations. We offer SRV failover for our MPLS voice customers, which allows our phones to register over our MPLS connection primarily and failover to a public SBC if there is an MPLS connection failure. We have Adtran routers configured with track and probes to monitor connection status and offer failover routing. We do the same thing with IP SLAs on Cisco routers. Our ITx for Managed Firewalls product offers multiple flavors of failover options. One of our newest products is SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) through VeloCloud. We believe this is the future of connection optimization, failover, and carrier agnostic QOS. We are looking forward to rolling this out to more of our customers so we can make their networks more efficient as well as more fault tolerant.

In addition to the hardware and configuration decisions, there are many other factors to think about when developing your disaster recovery plan. Carrier diversity, circuit path diversity, and transport diversity are just a few of the items that should be discussed. You should also work to minimize or eliminate single points of failure. Our ITx team is full of experts ready to assist you with a customized solution that fits your unique business needs.

Please give us a call at 866-GET-DSCI (866-438-3724) so we can assist with making your business more efficient and more durable. Bonus points go to anyone that calls in and notes how comical this redundant title is. 🙂

Time to Give Thanks

autumn-road

Fall has flown by! The leaves have fallen in New England, and most mornings there is a frost. We are getting accustomed to the time change. It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is this week – it kicks off the 2016 holiday season. For me, it is a time to reflect and enjoy time with family and friends, plus share some family stories with the kids.

It is so for all of us at DSCI. It has been a whirlwind year. The exciting TelePacific adventure began months before we were acquired in September. Teams have been collaborating to create new processes and workflows. We have learned a lot and continue to focus on the customer’s experience. Each team member is growing and learning. We are not bored and have stretch goals to meet and exceed.

We have so much to be grateful for over the past year. We added new customers to the DSCI family and continue to provide great service for our customers. We have received feedback on how we are doing and use it constructively. The team has grown and expanded into a new space. In September, we expanded our training from on-the-job to include an official trainer or Learning Consultant. This is a new experience for us and something we are very excited about.

Gratitude is simple to do and can be internal or involve others. Today, I learned that one co-worker had bought a coffee for the person behind her in line at the coffee shop this morning. Someone else had purchased groceries for someone ahead of them in line when the person couldn’t find her credit card. It is easy to do – makes someone’s day and makes us feel good, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fun with Announcements, Greetings and Hold Music

sheet music

Photo from Flickr user digitalphotographyhobbyist (www.digitalphotographyhobbyist.com)

As a DSCI customer, you can set up your own sound files on the Auto Attendant, Music on Hold, Call Center and other places.

This sound file has specific characteristics, as follows –

  • WAV
  • size of no more than 4.7MB
  • 8 bit
  • 8 kHz
  • Mono
  • μ-law compression
  • G.711 codec

What a pile of settings!  Luckily, you have a tool available that creates files in this format – your phone!

Using the voice mail to email service, you can use your phone’s mail box to record files. You’ll receive the message as an email with a sound file attached.  The sound file is in the format above.  Save this file to your computer, and then upload it to an Announcement Repository.  Once uploaded, you can use the file in various places around the system.

Basic steps –

  • Have a script ready for what you want to record
  • Be sure you’re getting voice mail to email on your phone
  • Set your phone to Do Not Disturb (DND)
  • Go to another DSCI phone in a quiet area, somewhere you won’t be disturbed
  • Call your phone
  • It answers with your voice mail greeting
  • After the beep, read your script
  • If you make a mistake or want to do another take, don’t hang up.  Just hit #
  • Hang up when done

Now save the file from your email to your computer, log in to the DSCI Web Portal with your administrator account, and go to one of the many Announcement Repositories.

Click Add, upload the file.  The system will test your file to be sure it fits the parameters.  If not, you’ll get an error.  Go back and retry the recording.

Sometimes you’ll get errors if you call in on a mobile phone.  Please use a DSCI phone to call your DSCI phone. This way the file is in Hi-Def and will sound great!

Finally, from within the DSCI Web Portal, go to the place you want to use the file and apply it there as a custom setting.

The different Repositories contain files for different uses and are located in various places:

  • Auto Attendant Announcements are in the Auto Attendant Announcement Repository
  • Group Music on Hold is under the Group level Announcement Repository
  • Meet-Me Conference Custom Greeting is under the user’s Announcement Repository
  • Voice Mail Busy Greeting and No Answer Greeting are under the user’s Announcement Repository
  • Call Center Entrance Message, Call Center Comfort Message, Call Center Music on Hold, Call Center Whisper are under the Call Center Announcement Repository

These files can be applied to –

  • Auto Attendant Announcements are applied to Auto Attendant Menus
  • Group Music on Hold is applied to Music on Hold under Services
  • Meet-Me Conference Custom Greeting is used in the user’s Meet-Me conference
  • Voice Mail Busy Greeting and No Answer Greeting are used in a user’s Messaging Greetings
  • Call Center Entrance Message, Call Center Comfort Message, Call Center Music on Hold, Call Center Whisper are use in Call Center queues

More information is available on the DSCI Support page at www.dscicorp.com/support or by calling DSCI Customer Care at 877-344-7441.

Enjoy!

A Zombie Double Feature

What’s better than zombies on Halloween? MORE zombies on Halloween! 🙂 Check out our “double feature” of zombie-themed videos for our UCx and ITx services.

At DSCI, we’re dedicated to eradicating the “office zombies” that are roaming your halls – whether they’re the employees that that are unreachable, or the “ghosts in the machine” that could impact your IT systems. Our team of experts will keep all of those zombies from attacking your business and stealing your productivity!