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)!

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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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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….

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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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Losing stuff – Not an excuse anymore

Everyone one of us has lost an item or two – or three…. From our keys to wallets to glasses and purses….

Technology now allows you to clip on a tiny device (called a Trackr) – size of a .25 qaurter and if you loose that device grab your smartphone and it will guide you through both a map and a “your getting warmer” method until you find the lost device.

Now what happoens if you have lost your smartphone? Just grab anything with the Trackr device (that qaurter sized item clipped on it) and press it and it will then make your smartphone ring (even if it is forwarded to somewhere else).

Have a hard time finding your car? Stick one of the Trackr devices in the car… Worried about losing your notebook computer, stick on on the back of it….

Any if you happen to lose an item, notify Trackr and it will track your device (behind the scenes) using all the other 2.5 million plus Trackr users apps and will only notify you when it has found the item. For example lets say you take the train to work and leave your wallet on the train. You don’t realize this until you are two bus rides away. So you notify Trackrand it will utilize the 2.5 million plus Trackr users apps (behind the scenes) to search for your wallet (without anyone knowing you have lost your wallet).

So when one of the Trackr user gets on the train in the afternoon for the return trip it notify’s you that you lost wallet has been detected and provides it location so you can either retreive it or let the train conductor know….

So how much this Trackr device cost you… how does under $30 sound? And discounts are applied for more that you buy so you can keep two and maybe give some out as they make great gifts.

Click here to get more information and to order and yes they do ship to Canada in time for gift giving!

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