Handle all of your messages in one place

Instant messaging is an increasingly competitive market and despite your best efforts to keep it simple and use a single app or platform, it’s hard to avoid keeping two or three apps around to keep in touch with different groups of people. In any given day I get hundreds of notifications from HipChat, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Slack, Workspace (Facebook) and our business’ Facebook Page.

While most of these clients are mobile-first nowadays, thankfully for my sake all offer some form of desktop counterpart — either a full blown native client or a web based one — so I can reply faster and more comfortably using an actual keyboard. However that doesn’t make switching between different app windows and browser tabs throughout the day any less annoying.

If this sounds familiar, there are a handful of all in one messaging clients that can save you the trouble by keeping all your chats under one roof, and best of all they are cross-platform. The concept isn’t new — remember Trillian, anyone? — but updated for today’s mobile messaging world.

Franz

I’ll tell you right away all three options we’re covering today work similarly as they are essentially wrappers for the web versions of all the supported messaging apps. But Franz is still my favorite of the bunch. It feels polished, fast and is presented in a clean, no-frills interface.

It covers a wide range of services, among them Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram, WeChat, Skype, HipChat, Google Hangouts, GroupMe, Steam Chat, and more. As of writing there are 34 different services in total and development is active so new ones are added regularly. The latest update introduced support for email (Gmail, Inbox by Gmail, and Outlook), Twitter’s TweetDeck client and custom HipChat servers for companies that prefer self-hosted solutions.

Moreover, Franz allows you to add each service many times, which is useful if you manage multiple business and private accounts at the same time. It’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Rambox

Rambox is an open source alternative to Franz that works pretty much the same but covers a lot more services — 74 and counting at the time of publishing this piece — and adds a few bells and whistles of its own. Each service you add is listed in its own tab in the Rambox interface, with notifications handled individually for each service and the option to mute all by enabling Do Not Disturb mode.

Like Franz, you can add each service many times, but a key feature that differentiates Rambox is the ability to add a custom service in case you are using an obscure or niche app that isn’t already listed. As long as the service is accessible via URL, which I tested by adding a tab for Chatra.

Other unique features include the ability to lock the app if you’ll be away for a period of time and setup a password for when you come back or when launching the app. If you use Rambox in different computers, you can synchronize your configuration between them, configure it to use a Proxy if your network blocks some services, and add custom behaviors via custom code injection.

Overall it’s a broader and more flexible alternative, though after using it for a few days it didn’t feel as polished as Franz, and I noticed a little lag while switching between clients. Rambox is also available for Windows, Mac, and Linux and since it’s open source you’re always free to check its inner workings.

All-In-One Messenger

If you’d rather have a solution that lives inside the browser then All-in-One Messenger will be more up your alley. It has a more limited list of supported services but not by much, and all the big ones are there. Like its desktop-based counterparts above, you can use as many accounts of the same messenger platform as you want. You can get desktop notifications with one-click reply and mute specific services if you are being distracted by one of them.

If you are a fan of hotkeys All-in-One supports a few, allowing you to quickly toggle between tabs or jump directly into one of them and reordering within the chat interface.

All-in-One is simple, stable, well designed and uses roughly the same amount of resources they would in a browser tab in Chrome. It’s available as a Chrome Web App, and while I prefer a standalone client, it still serves the purpose for keeping all your messaging clients accessible in a single place. It’s also the only of the three that will work on Chrome OS, so there’s that, too. You can download it here.

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Tech Tip Tuesday – How to Show icon in Windows notification area

How to Manage and Hide Notification Icons on the Windows Taskbar

Manage and Hide Notification Icons in Windows 10

The steps and interface to hide notification icons in the Windows taskbar are a bit different between Windows 7, Windows 8, and the upcoming Windows 10, so we’ll highlight the differences below. However, all operating systems share a common starting point, and that is to right-click on an empty space in your desktop taskbar and select Properties.

windows 10 taskbar properties

In the Taskbar and Navigation Properties window, find the section labeled “Notification Area” and click Customize.

windows 10 taskbar and start menu properties

Manage and Hide Notification Icons in Windows XP, 7 and Windows 8

In Windows 7 and 8, you’ll see a new Control Panel window appear, called Notification Area Icons. This lists all of your currently installed apps and programs that offer taskbar notification support. If you wish to show every icon all the time, check the box at the bottom of the window labeled Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar.

windows 8 hide notification icons

For most users, however, this is overkill. Instead, make sure that box is unchecked, which will let you set individual visibility settings for each app separately. Simply browse through the list of applications, which will differ from our screenshots based upon your unique software, and use the drop-down menu to set a “behavior” for each. Options include:

Show icon and notifications: This setting will always show the notification icon in the taskbar, even if there are no active notifications to display. Note that while some apps and system icons will always show up, the notification icons for other apps, such as Skype or VLC, will only show up when those apps are open and running on your PC.

Hide icon and notifications: This will always hide the icon, even if the app has notifications to display. You’d generally only want to set this for applications that are bugging you with too many notifications, or for apps which aren’t crucial to your workflow. An example would be your graphics card settings, or a secondary file sync service.

Only show notifications: This setting will hide the icon unless the corresponding app has an active notification to show you. For example, if you configure your network icon to this setting, it will hide the icon unless you lose connectivity.

To manage or hide system icons — clock, volume, network, power (for laptops and tablets), action center, and inputs — click Turn system icons on or off, which will display a new “System Icons” window. Unlike normal app notifications, however, this window has a simple “On/Off” selection for each icon.

windows 8 system icons

In general, it’s best to configure your critical or most-used apps and system settings to always show their notification icon, ensuring that you’ll never miss an important alert. For other apps, the best setting is to show notifications only, which will keep the icons from cluttering up your desktop unless you need to be alerted to something important. Finally, only hide notifications for less important apps, as you’ll want to know if your OneDrive is encountering sync issues, if someone has invited you to a Google Hangout, or if you lose your network connection.

Manage and Hide Notification Icons in Windows 10

When you select Properties from the taskbar in Windows 10, you’re taken to a new Notifications section of the Windows 10 Settings interface. Here, click Turn system icons on or off.

windows 10 notification settings

The interface here is a bit different from that in Windows 7 and 8, but the concepts are the same. If you’d like to always show all icons, turn the designated slider at the top of the window to On. Otherwise, set it to Off and then designate a status for your individual apps.

windows 10 hide taskbar notification icons

Unlike Windows 7 and 8, however, there’s no option to hide a notification icon completely. By setting an app to “Off,” you’re configuring it the same as the “Only show notifications” option from Windows 7 and 8. That is, Windows 10 will hide the icon most of the time, but will show any notifications it produces. Conversely, setting an app to “On” means that the icon and notifications will be visible in the taskbar all the time.

The reason for this change is that Windows 10 handles all notifications through the new Notification Center, which combines traditional app notifications for desktop apps with modern app alerts, alarms and reminders, and social media updates. You can obtain more control over exactly how and when you’re alerted to all of these updates via the Notification Center Settings, which is the first window that appears when right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting “Properties.”

windows hide notification icons

In all of the above-mentioned versions of Windows, you can still access your “hidden” notification center icons by clicking on the upward-pointing arrow to left of the notification area. This will reveal a pop-up with all hidden icons, and you can also click the Customize button (in Windows 7 and 8) to jump right back to Control Panel and make further changes.

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Have all of your texts show up on your Mac

The Mac Messages app has long had support for sending and receiving iMessages, and now the latest versions of Messages for OS X support a new feature which allows you to send and receive SMS text messages as well. This basically means that you can talk to someone using an Android, Windows phone, ancient flip phone, with the standard SMS texting protocol right from your Mac Messages app.


Setting up SMS Relay is pretty easy but it requires a particular set of software and hardware requirements to work. First, the Mac must be running OS X 10.10 or newer, Messages must be configured on that Mac, there must be a nearby iPhone with iOS 8.1 or newer using the same iCloud ID as the Mac, and the texting feature must be enabled on the iPhone and confirmed on the Mac through Messages app. That may sound like a lot but it’s really not, basically it requires that you have modern versions of OS X and iOS with the Messaging feature enabled on both. Assuming that you meet the software and hardware requirements just outlined, let’s go ahead and add traditional texting support to the Messages app on the Mac.

Enable SMS Text Message Support in Mac OS X Messages App

You’ll need both the Mac and iPhone handy to finish the setup:

    1. From the Mac, open the Messages app if you haven’t done so already
    2. From the iPhone, open Settings app, go to “Messages” and then go to “Text Message Forwarding”
    3. From the iPhone Text Message settings, locate the name of the Mac you want to enable send/receive SMS Text Message support for and toggle the switch next to the Mac name to the ON position (in this example it’s called Yosemite Air)

Enable SMS Text Messages on a Mac from iOS

    1. From the Mac, wait for a popup to appear that will say something like “To send and receive your iPhone text messages from (phone number) on this Mac, enter the code below on your iPhone”

SMS text relay code

    1. From the iPhone, enter the six digit numerical code shown on the Mac screen exactly, then tap on “Allow”

Confirm SMS texting relay to send and receive text messages from a Mac through the iPhone

  1. The Mac will now verify the iPhone and Mac are authorized to communicate and send SMS texts through one another, and texting support will work in a moment

When finished, you can now both send text messages out from the Mac, and also receive text messages on your Mac in the Messages app. This makes it really easy to communicate with every possible mobile phone user out there right from the desktop of OS X, since SMS is the standard text messaging protocol and supported by quite literally every cellular phone and cell phone provider.

Remember; a blue chat bubble in Messages app indicates the recipient is using iMessage (an iPhone, Mac, iPad, etc), whereas a green bubble indicates the recipient is using SMS Text Messaging (any other cell phone, Android, Windows phone, Blackberry, iPhones without iMessage, an old flip phone, an ancient brick phone, etc).

Do be mindful that text messaging fees vary per provider, whereas iMessage is free, so you probably don’t want to bombard someone with a green bubble with a million and one texts from your computer. And yes, media messages (MMS) will also arrive to the Messages app for Mac, so if your Android phone texts you a picture it will come across to OS X just like any other picture message would, visible in the chat window and then to be found within the Messages attachments folder.

 

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We have added an additional video conferencing platform!

As we strive to be on the leading edge of technology we have added the Room.co video conferencing service to our existing video conferencing platforms.

Room.co allows users to easily conduct video conferencing without the new to download or register – just access our assigned link.

To access us through Room.co, continue with the following:

  • Notify our office of you request for video conference:
    • Email: Andre@ChoquetteCo.com
    • Phone (lower mainland): 604-463-8202
    • Phone (interior BC): 250-447-9255
    • Toll-Free Phone (North America): 1-800-667-9254
    • Look for the We on online, chat with us is the bottom right hand corner of this and any page within the ChoquetteCo.com website to chat live with us.
  • Then proceed to https://room.co/#/ChoquetteCo

At Choquette & Company we are your forward thinking accounting firm.

 

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Upgrade to Windows 10 for free and maybe a free Dell notebook

Microsoft Canada and US are offering an awesome deal!

160714-Windows 10 logo

Schedule an appointment at the local Microsoft store (within the lower mainland would be Metrotown in Burnaby) and take in either computer and the Microsoft technician’s will upgrade your operating system to Windows 10 and for how much? How does free sound.

Not only is this a great deal, but if Microsoft is not able to to upgrade your computer by the time the store closes that day they will give you a brand new Dell Inspirion 15 notebook (which of course will have Windows 10 installed)!

160714-laptop-inspiron-15-3551-mag-S7-mixedset

So what’s the catch? All you need to do is make sure that your existing computer is at the Microsoft store by noon!

Best case you get to go home with your existing computer is upgraded to Windows 10 for free along with an awesome brand new Dell notebook!

In order to obtain this deal from Microsoft – click here (opens in New Window)

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Encryption – Are you Safe on the Internet

privacy

When you open your web browser and head out into the Internet, is your information safe?

Our site uses 256 bit encryption which means when you are within our site, your information is completely secure including any transmission of information from our website.

How do you know when a website is secure? Look for any of the following:

Padlock ChoquetteCo
Figure 1
  • The padlock appearing before the website address at the top of your browser (note Figure 1).
  • Look for the web address starting with https: (encrypted) instead of the standard http: (not encrypted).

Mozilla whom is a non-profit group has a great video which you can watch a great video which explains the encryption and how to make sure your information is secure.

You can also view this view from our Beancaster – (click to open) website (which provides a library of helpful Tax, Finance and Technology video’s. The link to the specific video on Beancaster – (click to open) is here – (click to open)

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We want to make sure we won’t miss you :)

With the personal income tax season just around the corner we are getting ready to send out our annual  Personal Income Tax email and reminder. We  send this Personal Income Tax reminder by email to the email address that we have on file.

If  you have changed your email in the past year or if you’ve added an additional email such as an email for your spouse or children,  send us a quick email and tell us to either replace the existing email address that we haven’t file or to add an additional one.

As well,  we will certainly take a referral from you so you can forward this post to your family, relatives or anyone else that you would like to refer to us.

We don’t want to miss you and we are all getting ready for the busy personal income tax season. This includes our official mascot Dixie!

160205-Post-Dixie

Dixie also wants to let you know that she is all ready to keep you company as we work on your Personal Income Tax returns. If you happen to have a dog treat in your pocket – Dixie will certainly help you with that!

We want to send out the annual Personal Income Tax checklist in the next couple of days, so please take a moment and send us an e-mail address with your email address change or additional email address (please let us know if replacing or adding the email address).

See you soon 🙂

Andre and Dixie 160205-Dixie Paw Heart

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Need help – we are only a click away :)

So maybe you are having a computer problem or have a question about an entry in your bookkeeping. Maybe you have a question about using Excel, Simply Accounting, Quickbooks and you are almost pulling out your hair….

160121-remote_cartoon

We are only a click away! Simply click here to open the Remote Access instructions page in which in about 2 mins you can have us remotely access your computer in order to assist you.

160121-TeamViewer02

The protocol is completely secure and will allow us to see your screen as well as navigate and even allow us to send you required files or for us to maybe take a backup or copy of needed files.

Basically, it is like you have an accountant in your computer.

You can also setup this remote access software to allow you to securely access your computer when you are away and even with your tablet or smartphone.

Quickly, we can solve your issue. But remember, we also can always come and see you in person! Just give our office a call 604-463-8202 or 1-800-667-9254.

 

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President Obama – Final State of Union Address

160113-State of UnionAs provided by the United States Government – White House Press Department here is the complete final State of the Union speech from President Obama

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

Tonight marks the eighth year I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.

I also understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we’ll achieve this year are low. Still, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families. So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse. We just might surprise the cynics again.

But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I’ll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing. Fixing a broken immigration system. Protecting our kids from gun violence. Equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.

But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond.

I want to focus on our future.

We live in a time of extraordinary change — change that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.

America has been through big changes before — wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we did — because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril — we emerged stronger and better than before.

What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nation — our optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our diversity and commitment to the rule of law — these things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.

In fact, it’s that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible. It’s how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations. It’s how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector; how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love.

But such progress is not inevitable. It is the result of choices we make together. And we face such choices right now. Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?

So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answer — regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress.

First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?

Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?

Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the ’90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.

Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. What is true — and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious — is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit and haven’t let up. Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.

All these trends have squeezed workers, even when they have jobs; even when the economy is growing. It’s made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start on their careers, and tougher for workers to retire when they want to. And although none of these trends are unique to America, they do offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot.

For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that works better for everybody. We’ve made progress. But we need to make more. And despite all the political arguments we’ve had these past few years, there are some areas where Americans broadly agree.

We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we’ve increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.

And we have to make college affordable for every American. Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower’s income. Now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year.

Of course, a great education isn’t all we need in this new economy. We also need benefits and protections that provide a basic measure of security. After all, it’s not much of a stretch to say that some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher. Americans understand that at some point in their careers, they may have to retool and retrain. But they shouldn’t lose what they’ve already worked so hard to build.

That’s why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn’t weaken them, we should strengthen them. And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we’ll still have coverage. Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far. Health care inflation has slowed. And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.

Now, I’m guessing we won’t agree on health care anytime soon. But there should be other ways both parties can improve economic security. Say a hardworking American loses his job — we shouldn’t just make sure he can get unemployment insurance; we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business that’s ready to hire him. If that new job doesn’t pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills. And even if he’s going from job to job, he should still be able to save for retirement and take his savings with him. That’s the way we make the new economy work better for everyone.

I also know Speaker Ryan has talked about his interest in tackling poverty. America is about giving everybody willing to work a hand up, and I’d welcome a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers without kids.

But there are other areas where it’s been more difficult to find agreement over the last seven years — namely what role the government should play in making sure the system’s not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations. And here, the American people have a choice to make.

I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy. I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there’s red tape that needs to be cut. But after years of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts. In this new economy, workers and start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The rules should work for them. And this year I plan to lift up the many businesses who’ve figured out that doing right by their workers ends up being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America.

In fact, many of our best corporate citizens are also our most creative. This brings me to the second big question we have to answer as a country: how do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?

Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon.

That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. We’re Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. We’re Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. We’re every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world. And over the past seven years, we’ve nurtured that spirit.

We’ve protected an open internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online. We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.

But we can do so much more. Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.

Medical research is critical. We need the same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy sources.

Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.

But even if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record — until 2015 turned out even hotter — why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?

Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average. We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy — something environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. Meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.

Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either.

Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.

None of this will happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, and the planet we’ll preserve — that’s the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.

Climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world. And that’s why the third big question we have to answer is how to keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation-build everywhere there’s a problem.

I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us.

As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. But that’s not because of diminished American strength or some looming superpower. In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states. The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition. Even as their economy contracts, Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria — states they see slipping away from their orbit. And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.

It’s up to us to help remake that system. And that means we have to set priorities.

Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.

But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. That’s the story ISIL wants to tell; that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions. We just need to call them what they are — killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.

That’s exactly what we are doing. For more than a year, America has led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology. With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we are taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons. We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.

If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America’s commitment — or mine — to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.

Our foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can’t stop there. For even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world — in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees. The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.

We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That’s not leadership; that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It’s the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq — and we should have learned it by now.

Fortunately, there’s a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight.

That’s our approach to conflicts like Syria, where we’re partnering with local forces and leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace.

That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. As we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.

That’s how we stopped the spread of Ebola in West Africa. Our military, our doctors, and our development workers set up the platform that allowed other countries to join us in stamping out that epidemic.

That’s how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia. It cuts 18,000 taxes on products Made in America, and supports more good jobs. With TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in that region, we do. You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it.

Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere? Recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo.

American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world — except when we kill terrorists; or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right. It means seeing our foreign assistance as part of our national security, not charity. When we lead nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change — that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our children. When we help Ukraine defend its democracy, or Colombia resolve a decades-long war, that strengthens the international order we depend upon. When we help African countries feed their people and care for the sick, that prevents the next pandemic from reaching our shores. Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria — something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.

That’s strength. That’s leadership. And that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example. That is why I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo: it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies.

That’s why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.” When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.

“We the People.”

Our Constitution begins with those three simple words, words we’ve come to recognize mean all the people, not just some; words that insist we rise and fall together. That brings me to the fourth, and maybe the most important thing I want to say tonight.

The future we want — opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids — all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.

It will only happen if we fix our politics.

A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.

But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.

Too many Americans feel that way right now. It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.

But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task — or any President’s — alone. There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting elected. I know; you’ve told me. And if we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.

We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families and hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections — and if our existing approach to campaign finance can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution. We’ve got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now. And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do.

But I can’t do these things on my own. Changes in our political process — in not just who gets elected but how they get elected — that will only happen when the American people demand it. It will depend on you. That’s what’s meant by a government of, by, and for the people.

What I’m asking for is hard. It’s easier to be cynical; to accept that change isn’t possible, and politics is hopeless, and to believe that our voices and actions don’t matter. But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future. Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure. As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.

We can’t afford to go down that path. It won’t deliver the economy we want, or the security we want, but most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.

So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.

It won’t be easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I’ll be right there with you as a citizen — inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word — voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.

They’re out there, those voices. They don’t get a lot of attention, nor do they seek it, but they are busy doing the work this country needs doing.

I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours. I see you. I know you’re there. You’re the reason why I have such incredible confidence in our future. Because I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time.

I see it in the worker on the assembly line who clocked extra shifts to keep his company open, and the boss who pays him higher wages to keep him on board.

I see it in the Dreamer who stays up late to finish her science project, and the teacher who comes in early because he knows she might someday cure a disease.

I see it in the American who served his time, and dreams of starting over — and the business owner who gives him that second chance. The protester determined to prove that justice matters, and the young cop walking the beat, treating everybody with respect, doing the brave, quiet work of keeping us safe.

I see it in the soldier who gives almost everything to save his brothers, the nurse who tends to him ’til he can run a marathon, and the community that lines up to cheer him on.

It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught.

I see it in the elderly woman who will wait in line to cast her vote as long as she has to; the new citizen who casts his for the first time; the volunteers at the polls who believe every vote should count, because each of them in different ways know how much that precious right is worth.

That’s the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

President Obama

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Stock Market Down? – Do you run?

160107-StockMarketDrop

If you own a mutual fund, RRSP, RESP, RDSP or self directed account that is tied to the stock market chances are you notice on the news when the market is either up or down with most reporting being the doomsday down reporting as we like to call it.

The big question is whether it is time to sell, cash out and take your money and run?

Well before you pickup the phone, send the electronic mail or execute the sale trade ask yourself why you have this account. Is this investment account for short term or is part of an overall financial picture in the future.

Statistically, the stock market does well in the long term. Look at Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and other famous stock market players. You can actually find out for example exactly what stocks Warren Buffett invests in. However if you look at the investment strategy of Warren Buffett and most all other well known investors they invest for the long term. Warren Buffett has some stock in his portfolio that he has held for 15 years plus.

We are not saying whether it i time to sell or move into a different investment instrument but instead take a deep breath, ask yourself why is the drop in the stock market occurring. It is instability overseas, a drop in oversea markets, reported employment rates – the vast majority of stock market drops are clearly connected to a major event of some sort. Then ask yourself is this a correction. When you look at how this drop effects your specific portfolio because even though the Dow Jones index may be down by for example 10% maybe it is only effected your specific investment portfolio by only 2%.

You can also be looking at the drop in the market as a time to buy more stock as this will may lower your average cost price – things to think about.

Two words be informed. And if you hold the portfolio in a mutual fund or with a broker rely on the advise they provide (taking into consideration that fee’s and commissions will apply so if your are down 2% but the fee’s are 3% well actually you are still up 1% if you do nothing).

If your investment portfolio does not have an overall financial plan attached, you need to known where you are going to be heading, how much you need to get there and how much you are going to need to stay in that lifestyle.

Where can you go to get a financial plan? Our firm does provide fee based financial planning, meaning that we charge a fee – not a percentage or commission meaning that our financial planning is non-bias in any way which results a clear financial plan solely based on your success.

Little is really told that some mutual funds pay higher commission then others to the broker whom is also trying to act as your financial planner. How do you know. If the broker/financial planner is suggesting a specific investment ask about what the broker/financial planner makes on that investment.

However for advice on buy or sell, brokers/financial planners who do receive commissions or fee’s do work for you and are payed based on your performance – use them for some insight.

Three things to remember:

  1. Take a Deep Breath
  2. Be Informed
  3. Have a Financial Plan

 

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