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Author: Courtnie O'Donnell

14 October: International E-Waste Day – What Do We Do With Our E-Waste?

The 14 October is International E-Waste Day. This day is to raise awareness about the importance of recycling your electrical items safely and appropriately.

International E-Waste Day is organised by WEEE Forum, an international association of non-profit and sector-mandated e-waste collection schemes. WEEE Forum brings together e-waste stakeholders across the world to promote the correct treatment of electrical waste and electronic equipment to enable reuse and recycling.

According to the UN, in 2021 each person on the planet will produce on average 7.6 kg of e-waste, meaning that a massive 57.4 million tonnes will be generated worldwide.

Over the last year, there has been greater reliance on electronic and digital solutions. People rely on electronic products to keep them connected with work colleagues’ family and friends. This has led to greater consumption of e-products. It is even more important to make sure that people are aware of the options they have when discarding their e-waste.

How Does Zephyr Dispose of E-Waste?

At Zephyr, our Technology Services team take care of e-waste nearly every day.

The team encourage customers to recycle any type of e-waste rather than let it end up in the tip. E-Waste is collected from client sites, returned to the Zephyr office, and accumulated until they have a sufficient amount of e-waste for a free pickup. A Department of Defence (DOD) wipe of any data on devices is then performed.

Did you know that even if you delete files or format a hard drive the data is still accessible?

To ensure that the device is properly wiped a DOD wipe needs to occur. This will ensure there is permanent destruction of data from the storage device, leaving no traces behind, before the device is returned, reallocated, resold, or disposed of for recycling.

When Zephyr have collected a sufficient amount of e-waste from our customers and the DOD wipe has been performed, we contact the team at Recycling for Charity in Upper Hutt, Wellington and they come into the office about once a month and collect our e-waste and recycle it for us.

Recycling for Charity collects IT equipment that would normally find its way to the landfill and gives the device a new life by either refurbishing, using for parts or recycling it. A percentage of the sales is donated to charities. Refurbished computers are also donated to families in need within the community. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved which makes a difference for charities, the community and the environment.

We are proud to recycle our e-waste with Recycling for Charity as a percentage of the profits made from the on-sale of refurbished items go to one of the following charities: Wellington Children’s Hospital, Mary Potter Hospice, SPCA Wellington, Rimutaka Incline Railway, Wellington Free Ambulance, The Salvation Army, Helping You Help Animals and Life Flight Trust.

Where Else Can You Recycle E-Waste in New Zealand?

In New Zealand, there are many places where you can recycle your e-waste properly.

Currently, Noel Leeming is trialling a free e-waste recycling programme at 16 of its stores across the country until 31 December 2021. This trial is facilitated through the not-for-profit organisation called TechCollect NZ. During this trial, you can drop off e-waste to the following Noel Leaming stores: Whangarei Supa, St Lukes Mega Centre, Wairau Park, Manukau Supa Centre, Te Rapa, Tauranga, Rotorua, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Lower Hutt, Nelson, Moorhouse, Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill.

If you have an old cell phone collecting dust you can drop it off at over 400 locations where RE:Mobile will collect your phone regardless of the condition. They will take the phones away and clean them of data and either refurbish and on-sell the device or dismantle it and recycle it for parts.

RE:Mobile also works alongside their charity partner Sustainable Coastlines. Since 2016 the scheme has donated over $172,000 which has helped Sustainable Coastlines plant over 14,600 trees and plants along waterways around New Zealand.

If you are wanting to find out where your nearest TechCollect NZ or RE:Mobile collection point is visit: https://techcollect.nz/drop-off-locations/ or https://remobile.org.nz/drop-off-locator/

Identify Verification Made Simple with VoID

At Zephyr, we love solving problems that our clients have. Recently a client of ours approached us with a problem of how we could incorporate an identity verification of the user during the registration process within their iMIS Cloud application.

Currently, when a user gets to the identity verification process, they would have to upload documents like Passports, Drivers Licences or Birth Certificates to verify their identity and the organisation would then need to check these documents to confirm that the user is who they say they are. This process would extend the time it would take to register a user and the organisation would then have to store the identity documents within their systems. Identity documents are considered ‘gold’ to cybercriminals and could put a large target on their back as they would be worth a lot of money on the DarkWeb.

To solve this problem the development team at Zephyr have created an application called VoID (Verification of Identity).

VoID is essentially a ‘bridge’ between iMIS Cloud and RealMe. In non-technical terms, VoID is basically a translator as RealMe and iMIS Cloud are written in different languages. For the verification of identity to work the information needs to be read in a language that both iMIS Cloud and RealMe can understand.

By creating this ‘bridge’ between iMIS Cloud and RealMe it means users can complete the registration process immediately online, removing the ‘pause’ in the registration process. It also eliminates the need and risk of storing identity documents within the organisation’s systems.

If you have a spare 5 minutes and would like to watch a short presentation about VoID that was shown at the NiUG Asia Pacific 2020 Virtual Discovery Conference watch this video below, you are guaranteed to laugh!

If you are in the same boat as our client and need to verify a person identity using iMIS Cloud, please feel free to contact Dempsey Woodley on how VoID could help your organisation with the identity verification process.

iMIS support the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners

As soon as COVID-19 hit New Zealand’s shores the Royal NZ college of GP’s website became overloaded with information in response to COVID-19 questions from GPs. With the necessity to get timely and accurate information regarding government policies and procedures to GPs, it became obvious to the Zephyr team that the current website was not providing the best platform and that easy access to COVID-19 guidance could be given through a separate website.

In collaboration with College staff, the Zephyr iMIS team created an iMIS website within a week. The website began with an “out of the box” template. College branding, fonts and colour palette were introduced to the site followed by the relevant content.

iMIS is a very flexible and powerful tool that allows responsive microsites to be created very quickly. We were very happy to be given the opportunity to combine iMIS and our expertise and collaborate with College staff in a project that contributed in a small way to New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.

Clear Signs You’re About To Get Hacked … And What To Do NOW

Do you use the same password for everything? If you do, you’re not alone. We all have bad cyber habits, whether it’s reusing passwords or connecting to unsecured WiFi. These habits can make it easy for hackers to steal our personal information and use it for their own purposes – or they can sell it on the dark web for an easy profit.

These are habits you have to stop right now – and habits your employees need to stop too. After all, good cyber security practices are a group effort! But using the same password for everything or using simple passwords aren’t the only things that are going to get you into trouble. Here are three more clear signs you’re setting yourself up for a breach.

Sharing Your E-mail
Countless websites want your e-mail address. Sometimes it’s not a big deal if you’re sharing it with a vendor or e-commerce site. You want to ensure you receive invoices and shipping confirmation. But other websites just want you to sign up for special offers, notifications, e-mail newsletters and other inbox clutter. It sounds mostly harmless, but what they fail to tell you is the fact that they’re going to sell your e-mail address to advertisers and other third parties.

To make matters worse, you have no idea where your e-mail address will end up – or if it will fall into the wrong hands. Hackers are constantly on the lookout for e-mail addresses they can take advantage of. They use e-mail for several different kinds of cyberscams – most notably phishing scams. Hackers can even make it look like an e-mail is coming from a legitimate source to get you to open it.

Whenever possible, avoid using your work or personal e-mail. If you need to sign up for something and you don’t completely trust the source (or just want to avoid spam), create a “burner” e-mail address you can use. It should be something different from your work or personal e-mail and not associated with business or banking.

Not Using HTTPS
Most of us are familiar with HTTP. It’s short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is a part of every web address. These days, however, many websites are using HTTPS – the S standing for “secure.” Some web browsers, like Google Chrome, will open the HTTPS version of the website automatically, giving you a more secure connection. Of course, this only works if the website was made with an HTTPS option!

Why is visiting an unsecured HTTP website dangerous? Any data you share with an unsecured website, such as date of birth, passwords or any financial information, may not be securely stored. You have no way of knowing that your private data won’t end up in the hands of a third party, whether that’s an advertiser or a hacker. It isn’t worth the risk.

When visiting any website, look in the address bar. There should be a little padlock. If the padlock is closed or green, you are on a secure website. If it’s open or red, the website is not secure. You can also click the padlock to verify the website’s security credentials. It’s best practice to immediately leave any website that is not secured. And never share your personal information on a webpage that is not secure.

Saving Your Passwords In Your Web Browser
Web browsers make life so easy. You can save your favorite websites at the click of a button. You can customise them to your needs using extensions and add-ons. And you can save all your usernames and passwords in one place! But as convenient as it is, saving passwords in your browser comes with a price: low security.

If a hacker gets into your saved passwords, it’s like opening a treasure chest full of gold. They have everything they could ever want. Sure, web browsers require a password or PIN to see saved passwords, but a skilled hacker can force their way past this hurdle if given the chance.

Use a password manager instead. These apps keep all of your passwords in one place, but they come with serious security. Even better, many password managers are designed to suggest new passwords to you when it’s time to update your old passwords. LastPass, 1Password and Keeper Security Password Manager are all good options. Find one that suits your needs and the needs of your business. If you want Keeper installed in your business give Tony Dorman a call as Zephyr uses and supports this password manager for its MSP clients.

Working from Home

We hope this short collection of links will help you through the experience of working from home. It’s important to note that remote working is improved when the people doing the work feel as good as they can, in the circumstances they are in.

The Technology and Physical Environment
While we are sure that your employer has provided you with guidance and support on what technology you need to work at home successfully, there are some priorities that we think you should consider. Firstly, if you are used to using a monitor at work, you should have one at home too. The monitor along with and ergonomic keyboard will improve your productivity and make working from home much easier. As for the office chair, by the time you read this you may not be able to go out and get a chair and are now reliant on a dining room chair and table. This is a good article on how to make this environment as comfortable as possible using things you have at home.

Managing your Day
The first advice from Buzzfeed is “Get out of your pyjamas and dress for the day”. Reasonably important if you have a 9.00am Facetime appointment with the Boss. This site also has some good advice about structuring your day, creating a workspace and signing off at the end of your workday. I like the one about putting on your work shoes, somehow it makes the work environment more real!
The Buzzfeed blog is informative and fun.

Managing the children while Working
The New York Times have an interesting article on working from home with children. This was written in 2019, did they have forewarning we would all be working from home in 2020?
There are also many on-line options from setting boundaries, difficult for a three-year-old! Then making sure you are blocking out the noise. Children are naturally noisy and telling them to be quiet every ten minutes is never going to work.

Managing Stress
Working in the office is sometimes very stressful, so often we think it will be easier to work at home. Sorry, but for some the stress of working from home, can make the office seem like a dream. From 7-minute workouts to meditation, these apps may help make work life at home a little easier.
Computerworld article.

Splitting the Internet

Various headlines around the world have been focused on the future of the internet over the next few years.  As countries and companies try to manage the vulnerabilities of the internet, the concept of a “world-wide” web is being slowly eroded. 

Global connectivity has been all we’ve known of the internet, it has meant that you can shop and buy products from around the world, and for the most part, you can get content from almost anywhere.  A segmented internet would skew the information available to certain populations, and potentially make it harder to connect and access foreign sites.

Here, in NZ many are largely unaware of the development of a Chinese based internet and the evolving of an American led internet environment.  Meanwhile Europe and Russia are considering how to manage the internet environment within their physical borders. 

The other perspective is the development of an accountable and secure internet layer to protect our digital lives.  It seems that the internet as originally designed can’t overcome the vulnerabilities which can have major impacts on society and the economy.  The challenge is to address the needs for anonymity and privacy while managing the social and financial needs for security. 

It seems that the split between a Chinese led and American led internet environment is the end of the internet as a unified environment for the transfer of knowledge as we know it.  

So, given that the internet is in the process of splitting, what should we be doing?  Some commentators are saying the landscape of the internet won’t be so dramatically changed that it’s unrecognisable. This will be a slow, gradual transition, so you should have plenty of time to prepare for it. Hopefully they are right.

For more information go to the LA Times

Why We Hired a New Graduate

New Graduates, they finished Universities all around the country last November and suddenly here they are the ‘Uni Army’ of new graduates popping up on job applications at a work place near you.

New ‘grads’ (lumped in with Millennials) have been given a bad rap, branded the snowflake generation, as well as lazy and job hoppers. Marketing guru and Millennial expert Simon Sinek thinks they’re an entitled generation – struggling with unmet expectations because they have been given everything.

So why would anyone want to hire – not only a new graduate but a Millennial to boot?

We are ‘noobs’ to the world of the new grad, having never hired one before – we don’t know how this will turn out. We hadn’t considered a new grad and didn’t target our job advertisement for one. What we originally wanted was someone with several years of experience, fully trained up and ready to go; that person either didn’t exist or simply just didn’t apply. Our new grad applied anyway – on the off chance and we really liked that initiative. We were impressed that she had worked while studying, had great references and her can do attitude.

Hiring a new grad doesn’t mean they have no work experience or life skills (most have had holiday jobs, volunteered and had part-time jobs while studying). New grads/millennials are already comfortable with new technologies, are seasoned collaborators, keen and grateful, and are still in the mindset of learning.

We hope it’s a win win situation. We eventually get a great consultant, skilled in what we do – trained the way we like and they get trained with ‘up to the minute’ ‘in demand’ skills, and a fantastic work experience in a fast-moving consulting business.

We think there’s much more to the next generation of Millennials coming out of University – they seem motivated, socially aware, and tech savvy. There are no guarantees whomever you decide to employ. Sinek can worry, if he wants about what happens to them “…the instant they find out they’re not special, and their mums can’t get them a promotion”! We think their success will be directly related to the amount of support they are given.

We don’t expect to see our new grad’s mum anytime soon!

‘Presenteeism is Making Me sick!

Amanda Hanan – Zephyr Consulting Social Media Producer

Sickness ‘presenteeism’ is the act of working while sick – a workplace disease perhaps of epidemic proportions!

I was at my son’s dentist when the hygienist started coughing: great loud chesty coughs, heard all over the surgery – honestly I could not have been more horrified if she lit up a cigarette and blew a smoke ring over the chair.

You see, I’m not a fan of the ‘soldier on’ brigade. There’s nothing worse than sitting next to the contagious as they spread their infected droplets throughout the office, whooping, sneezing and wheezing over us all. There’s always that one work mate, turning up, no matter how close they are to death’s door: nose red, eyes streaming, box of tissues, bottle of cough mix and chicken soup in a thermos; I can’t help think (rather cynically) they are saying “look at me! I’m so dedicated”. Dedicated to making me sick! And does the boss really love their “dedication”? I mean, would you bake a cake for the office morning tea and add a good dose of something that may make your work mates seriously ill?
On the days, the sick come into work, I want to ask if we the ‘healthy’ can stay home and then the sick can knock themselves out at their desks, in a giant whirlpool of their various viruses, bacteria and ‘germy mcgerm’ faces.

There are many reasons why workers come to work sick: a sense of obligation, not wanting to burden co-workers, feeling a duty to clients, meetings, not feeling sick enough and not wanting to appear weak to other co-workers or seniors. If you look at these reasons logically – bringing your germs to work is in fact burdening your co-workers and ends up creating more work as more of the team becomes infected.

When I suggested to the hygienist perhaps it was not appropriate for her to be at work – she said, “You should have heard me last week”! A fact that gave me no comfort whatsoever. She then said she would be wearing a mask, again, no comfort what-so-ever.

In 2015 a NZ Wellness in the Workplace Survey, said if people are coming into work sick you need to change the work culture that says coming in sick is acceptable. You should start by implementing a workplace sickness policy. Changing that ‘soldier on’ culture means your workplace prefers sick workers to stay home, and you will send sick workers home. Workplaces should also allow the flexibility of working from home while sick. One of the best ways to improve the well-being of staff is by providing paid flu vaccinations – at around $25 per employee it’s money well spent, when the flu could possibly take someone out of action for ten days or more.

So I’d just like to say to you, If you have any of these symptoms: a temperature over 38 degrees, a hacking productive cough, diarrhea and/or vomiting or if you have a contagious eye infection, don’t come into work stay home in bed – otherwise, you make me sick!

 

 

I Saw the Future and I liked It!

I saw the Future and I liked It!

Amanda Hanan Social Media Producer

Like a lot of Gen Xs, I can remember back in the 1970s writing an essay in school about what the future would look like in the year 2020. Most of us were convinced there would be flying cars, robot maids and food would only be pills. The Jetsons had a lot to answer for, and to be honest I’ve always felt a little cheated. So, I was excited, as part of 2017 NZ Tech Week to check out the Future Realities conference in Wellington; and I wasn’t disappointed – an amazing event; and as they say, I have seen the future and I liked it! It was all about Mixed Reality, – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and the Internet of Things.

With business revenue projections of Mixed Reality expected to be at around 120 billion dollars by 2020,  it is going to be big and the best part is the real world solutions mixed reality can provide to real world problems -without those it’s just a bad movie you once watched.

The new big thing is the growth of the ‘smart city’ and work being done right here in Wellington with the building of our own smart city is amazing. The real-world applications of 3D mapping and being able to ‘fly’ using AR through downtown Wellington, in real time, to check which buildings (by highlighting colour) are the most earthquake safe, or which street bins get the most rubbish, or which parks are high crime areas – has real world importance; but the greater applications for me is being able to highlight a free car park at peak times – not exactly a flying car but virtual to real car parks – my kind of reality.

Virtual reality promises much – the training opportunities for doctors with hologram cadavers, virtual courses for athletes to practice on, and for day to day life: the use of highly immersive simulations means the retail market is also a winner with its virtual supermarkets, personal experiences in home improvement and imagine a virtual you in 3 D, trying on clothes – with out ever leaving the lounge.

Without wanting to rain on anyone’s virtual or real parade – what about the headset? I mean apart from being heavy and kind of awkward there’s only so silly one can look at work (thinking hair people). I mean if the government can’t get people to wear a bike helmet to save their lives, because they don’t like helmet hair, imagine what chance your boss has?

New technology can often create as many problems as it solves – what to do with all that big data, or as it was called a ‘Tsunami of Data,’ – had no easy solutions. Do we just run the risk of data for data’s sake? How do we store it all?

There’s a few things to iron out, but the future it seems is already here and the way forward promises to be all about collaboration, immersion and empathetic computing (hearing and seeing together) and that AR and VR will be bigger than desktop publishing was, back in the day…

All Aboard the iMIS Train

All Aboard the iMIS Train

Dempsey Woodley – Certified iMIS Professional

My first experience with iMIS was within an organisation where iMIS was a train wreck. Staff were frustrated, cynical and had lost faith in the ability of iMIS to deliver any value. But the problem was that they were looking for value in all the wrong places and didn’t appreciate the end to end engagement that iMIS provides.

I think the real value of iMIS for member organisations is that it covers pretty much all the business functions that a membership organisation needs from member management, accounts, certification, communication, event, websites, through to sales. Because it does it all it’s potentially a one stop shop seamless engagement experience for end users, and a data smorgasbord for organisations.

Organisations that I’ve walked into where all staff have an understanding of this high-level overarching value are invariably very happy with iMIS, embracing all of its tools, getting regular training and looking for ways to use the data to improve their services, revenue and their members’ experience.

Organisations that have lost sight of or have staff that are unaware of this value are often not so happy. Organisations that aren’t connected in a common goal or vision can easily fragment into silos of business processes. iMIS is not at its best when its parts are scrutinized in isolation.

I like the analogy of a train for iMIS because it’s like a powerful engine coupled with carriages. It’s solid, steady and can do the heavy work to bring you the goods, where as a carriage by itself offers little value.

A successful journey on the iMIS train requires several things to happen. First, everybody needs to get on board (have an understanding of the overarching value). Second everybody needs to know where everything is and how it works (training) because the iMIS train has its own way of doing things and is constantly evolving for the better, so you need to keep up. Finally, the iMIS train needs a driver to keep it on track. Sometimes the iMIS train track goes a different way than staff are used to so organisations will need a champion iMIS driver or conductor (preferably a decision maker in the organisation) reminding them that it’s the sum of the parts that matter. This invariably means an adjustment in business processes or even staff roles to pull it all together.

Reflecting on the organisation I mentioned at the beginning of this story I realise now that most of the staff were not on board, there had been no real investment in training and nobody was driving. The train wreck was inevitable. But don’t despair, the train can get back on track, and if the elements I’ve talked about in this blog are put in place there is a good chance you can convince the doubters that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t another train.

Z office 261 – April Fools 2017

Z Office261

The revolutionary new software freeing up your weekend

By Aprile Tonto


The new Z Office261 package gives you the Z Office365 experience, just without weekends or any hours from 5pm to 9am weekdays. This brand new version of Z Office261 is fantastic for those businesses wanting a cheaper version of Z Office365 but still with access to the latest Z Office applications. Whether you need Z Office for home, school, or business, there is an Z Office261 plan to meet your needs.

Why Z Office261?

Well we listened to our customers when they said ‘why should I pay for the full Z Office 365 when my employees don’t work 104 of those days’! and we listened when you ‘hippie we love the world types’ said let’s treat employees like they are humans and make sure they don’t ever have to work weekends or overtime ever again. Z Office261 will never let you down – guaranteed just like many of your employees to never work overtime or weekends! Rest assured not one email will be sent out out of hours, not one Skype call and definitely no tech support from our Answer Desk experts, by phone or chat – at anytime after you leave work for the day.

When a new version of Z Office261 is released, you’ll get instant access to it – as long as it is a weekday and between 9am and 5pm, and in this way your applications are nearly always up-to-date!

Z Office261 – It just works… (well these days and times only) Monday to Friday 9 to 5.

Find out more about Z Office 261

Are You in Love with Your Job?

You May Love Your Job, but are You in love with Your Job

Many people fall in and out of love with their job over the course of their career. Just like a relationship – the butterflies in your stomach at the beginning, the excitement of email notifications, waking up with a smile on your face knowing that you’ll be in your happy place for the next 8 hours, you even put thought and effort into what to wear. But then time passes, the honeymoon phase wears off, and it can get a little monotonous.

How engaged are you in your current role? Ever wonder if you’re in the right place? Does it really matter?I think most of us would agree that we should find enjoyment and fulfillment in our day jobs. Doing so is very valuable.

Here are some ways to keep motivated and pursue meaning

  • Know your why

    – As the old saying goes “choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” It’s so easy to forget why you do the work you do and only focus on how you do it. We place more attention on the resolution of something rather than the passion behind it. Take some time to focus on your why and discover passion for what you do.

  • Invest in your skills

    – How can you master the art of what you do? Skills are why people get hired and why people get promoted. Investing in your own skills may also mean investing in those around you. Everyone wins when companies create structures that promote knowledge sharing. If we approach our careers with a goal of upskilling and helping others, we will successfully build a community of people who have our backs, and in turn, find job satisfaction and fulfillment together.

  • Keep your work fresh and focused

    – Let’s face it, working in the same office, doing the same thing, day in day out can get boring. Be creative, challenge yourself to pursue new opportunities. Step up when the opportunity presents itself.

  • Don’t wait for permission to find meaning in your current job

    – Don’t wait for an invitation to start loving your job, make it happen yourself. Be proactive and ask your boss. If there’s a project that aligns with your purpose or something that gets you excited, do it. If there’s an initiative you want to be involved in, get involved.

The grass is greener where it’s watered

You may be thinking about leaving your current job but remember that your next job will have its own set of problems. You may not necessarily need to leave your job to create a better one. If you want to get a better job, first and foremost, take charge of your own lot. You can fall back in love the one you are with but it starts with you.

If it turns out that you are more likely to create fulfillment by pursuing a different path at another company or starting something of you own, that’s okay. Unsure which step to make before taking a leap? Perhaps you might even want to give contracting a go? Feel free to chat to us here at Zephyr to explore if becoming a contractor is right for you.