VIRTUAL DESKTOP TOOLS
Velocity, A Managed Services Company | June 15, 2022
Velocity, A Managed Services Company that provides IT managed services through network management, voice and data connectivity, along with digital media displays and advertising networks, recently announced that the company will continue to allow its employees to work remotely as part of its continued employer of choice strategy, with the exception of essential workers who are part of repair and supply chain operations.
"As we continue to evolve our strategy around being an employer of choice, it was obvious that we could either fight against this post-covid remote work movement by bringing employees back in the office or embrace and seek to thrive in it. Remote work is now part of who we are, not something we do in response to the pandemic. We have an amazing group of talented people at Velocity. Why would we push them out the door to work somewhere else? We want to retain our current talent and provide them with flexibility, and we do that by letting them work from home,"
Mark Walker, President and COO of Velocity
Velocity made this announcement to its employees just days before the recent article posted in The New York Times, stating that some companies are still trying to hang on to the normalcy of working in an office pre-pandemic. These organizations generally assert that returning to the office is critical to preserving organizational culture. Still, employees have expressed a desire to keep the flexibility offered by remote work because their lives and priorities have shifted.
Remote work is and will continue to be a key element of Velocity's employee value proposition. This continued direction will consist of changes to strategies the company has in place, from a short-term to a long-term strategy. "I want team members to understand this is not a new Covid position that we will revisit every few months. Covid may have launched this new way of thinking about work, but it is no longer the driver of our remote work strategy – it's our team members," added Walker.
"We will continue to adapt finding creative ways to thrive in this new remote workforce era," said Walker. Velocity plans to do this by continuing to invest in tools to increase the effectiveness of remote work, such as enhanced virtual training and onboarding, managing productivity, and new ways of working that include remote team and culture building. "This is not to say we would never be in the office. We will have company and team-building events on-site. We will still have a place for team members to come into the office if they choose as we have many employees who enjoy the in-person experience; we will also support this."
The company will revamp its real estate portfolio in Toledo, Ohio, to embrace this combined remote and on-site workforce by consolidating the campus headquarters into its new 100,000-square-foot building near the airport at 11300 Crosswinds Drive. This will allow its on-site teams to be in the same building, truly fostering a One Team ethos.
At the start of the pandemic, Velocity had a small number of remote workers. As a young and growing company, its leadership team knew that it needed to make some cultural changes to continue growing. The surprise onset of Covid-19 accelerated this process, forcing Velocity to quickly revolutionize its culture and technology in ways that went beyond its original plans. In 2020, Velocity shifted 90 percent of its workforce to remote within a matter of weeks.
Over the past 17 years, Velocity has transformed from a regional telecommunications outfit to a full-scale managed service provider for Fortune 500 companies. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Velocity has continued to broaden its service offerings to include industry-leading VoIP and data services, digital signage, and a full array of hospitality services.
ABOUT VELOCITY MSC
Velocity delivers customized IT managed services such as IT support, network management, voice and data connectivity, multinational data networking, on-site repairs and service, field project rollouts and implementations, free-to-guest TV and Wi-Fi solutions, digital signage and DOOH media solutions, and more in the retail, hospitality, healthcare, and entertainment industries. Velocity is a privately held company with approximately 550 employees, 13 redundant data centers, 5,500+ certified technicians throughout the U.S., and 450 carrier agreements and is a CLEC in all 50 states.
NordVPN | December 15, 2021
NordVPN has officially launched the NordVPN extension for Microsoft Edge browser, available on all platforms compatible with Edge. The new extension is extremely light and fast so users can switch between locations within seconds.
Microsoft Edge browser is based on Chromium, which means users can install the NordVPN extension via the Chrome Web Store. With this release, NordVPN is unlocking full official support for people who were already using other NordVPN extensions on Edge.
We knew many users were installing the NordVPN extension for Chrome on the Microsoft Edge browser. That's why we decided to improve their experience by releasing an official NordVPN extension designed for Edge. In terms of functionality, the new extension works exactly the same way as the ones for Chrome and Firefox, giving users a seamless experience across browsers."
Vykintas Maknickas, Product Strategist at NordVPN
Apart from Edge, NordVPN has browser extensions for both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
"We're constantly looking for ways to enhance our user experience. For example, we recently added M1 Mac compatibility and increased our bug bounty program to $50K for all Nord brands, including NordPass, NordLocker, and NordLayer. As part of a broader effort to shift Nord Security and our brands into a broader cybersecurity suite, pushing all of these initiatives brings us closer to doing exactly this," says Vykintas Maknickas from NordVPN.
To stress the importance of privacy online, NordVPN recently released the findings of its research on browser cookies and how browsing habits create different privacy and security risks.
NordVPN is the first brand in the Nord Security family of products and was established in 2012. NordVPN became the premier VPN solution of choice worldwide throughout the years, now serving more than 14 million users. Nord Security has also expanded its scope to include security solutions for businesses and advanced encryption tools for consumers, including NordPass, NordLocker, and NordLayer.
NordVPN is the world's most advanced VPN service provider used by over 14 million internet users worldwide. NordVPN provides double VPN encryption, malware blocking, and Onion Over VPN. The product is very user-friendly, offers one of the best prices on the market, has over 5,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide. One of the key features of NordVPN is the zero-log policy.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Haslam College of Business | February 14, 2022
On a Thursday morning in fall 2021, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville seniors weren't sure what to expect from the next session of their capstone marketing course at the Haslam College of Business. As they took in the scenic view of a desert landscape surrounding them, they watched their fellow students fill the class space, where instructor Mark Collins stood at the front of a futuristic-looking auditorium.
These students weren't on a field trip; they were in their apartments and dorm rooms, attending an experimental hybrid section of Marketing Strategy (MARK 460), which Collins, distinguished lecturer of marketing at Haslam and director of the college's Office of Technology-Enhanced Education, believes to be the first class at UT to utilize virtual reality as a regular delivery modality.
Engaging Marketing Students in a New Way
VR technology has become common in fields like medicine where training involves high risk or high price tags, but Collins was inspired by marketers who had begun using the related technology of augmented reality, enabling users to view their physical surroundings through a phone or tablet and see computer-generated content such as a brand mascot overlaid on the space. With the encouragement of the college's leadership, he obtained Oculus Quest 2 headsets to interface with the VR platform Spatial, which provides high-quality audio and video and integrates easily with smartphones and Microsoft Office.
For this hybrid section of MARK 460, Collins planned for six or eight class sessions in the middle of the semester to be delivered via VR and the rest face-to-face. In the same semester, he taught another section of the course that was completely face-to-face. He says that while both sections achieved the required level of learning for the class, he believes the VR class absorbed the material at a higher level.
"Because it was so different, it made them focus and pay attention a lot more," says Collins, who makes a clear distinction between VR and other types of remote learning. "The interaction and engagement by the students in VR is night and day compared to if we only had met on Zoom. Part of it, I'm sure, is the fact that they're an avatar, so they don't feel that self-consciousness."
Bridgette Liederbach, a Haslam marketing major scheduled to graduate in May 2022, agrees.
Having an avatar makes the classroom experience feel personal and like we are all in the room together but also makes it less intimidating. Zoom sometimes makes me uncomfortable to have my camera on and [unmute myself] because I know everyone will see my face pop up on their screen, but using Spatial makes talking in class easier."
Bridgette Liederbach, a Haslam marketing major
Potential for Teaching Across Disciplines
For future sections of the course, Collins wants to take his entire class on a virtual field trip to a store, using VR footage of retail aisles that has already been shot.
"I want to stand there with them in front of that and say, 'OK, what's happening here? Why are there 13 different types of Cheez-Its?'" he says. "Then we can go down the aisle and see how the competitors are reacting, and what they're doing that kind of matches up with what Cheez-It did."
Other Haslam faculty members have approached Collins about the feasibility of using VR in their courses, and he is enthusiastic about the possibilities, especially as more units, apps and software become available at lower price points. While he doesn't recommend teaching full courses exclusively via VR yet, he imagines financial reports in which students could reach out to pick up information and place it where it belongs, or a VR supply chain where they could identify and manipulate bottlenecks.
"Across all disciplines, there are moments where we want the students to understand something at a really deep and meaningful level, and we can use VR to make that engagement and interaction happen," he says. "I can see using it in a focused, short time span, to keep it really powerful rather than just becoming the new normal."
Supernatural | December 23, 2021
Supernatural, the leading virtual reality fitness experience, announced that actress, comedian and producer Tiffany Haddish will be its next guest coach. The breakout star will lead workouts in virtual reality as part of Supernatural's second annual This Year, Be You campaign that will kick off on January 1, 2022.
Supernatural is a connected fitness app that uses the power and benefits of virtual reality—through the Meta Quest 2—to provide members with immersive health and wellness experiences. With workouts that integrate both mind and body movement, Supernatural creates an experience that is focused on making fitness fun. Supernatural offers members an industry-leading music library with the most expansive collection of major-label music with more than 1000 songs from the world's biggest artists, and awe-inspiring photoreal workout destinations that make working out a joyful experience.
"I became addicted to Supernatural last year,"
saidTiffany Haddish. "I've never felt so powerful or had so much fun working out. I can travel the world from my living room, move to music I love, and feel like a superhero every day. My mission in life is to spread joy and empower people and, as a Supernatural Guest Coach, I get to spread that goodness in a way that also gets people sweating and smiling as they get a great workout."
Tiffany Haddish will lead Supernatural members through the start of their 2022 fitness journey, encouraging everyone to make a resolution to embrace their true selves this year, all while breaking a sweat and having a great time. Throughout the month of January, she will coach four Supernatural sessions: Boxing, Flow—Supernatural's original cardio workout—guided meditation and a stretch session.
Tiffany is not just a force for joy, she is a force for good, breaking boundaries and expectations with everything she does. With this series, we're proud to have her share her unmatched energy with the Supernatural community through a series of workouts that invite you to take on the most welcoming, positive and joyful new years resolution possible."
Chris Milk, Supernatural Co-Founder and CEO
Haddish has been very open about her own fitness journey, and already has a keen interest in the world of virtual reality. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Haddish started incorporating virtual reality into her workout routine and became hooked on Supernatural, losing over fifty pounds in the process.
Supernatural members will have access to This Year, Be You with Tiffany Haddish starting on New Year's Day. Each Supernatural membership includes access to the full and ever-expanding catalog of integrated fitness offerings plus a curated selection of Supernatural Programs and Collections designed to help members meet individual fitness goals with results that benefit both body and mind. Sign up for a free trial followed by $18.99/month or $179.99/year. Membership automatically begins and renews monthly after the free trial ends. Cancel at any time.
Supernatural launched in April of 2020 as the world's first subscription-based, full-body fitness service for virtual reality. Designed for Meta Quest and paired with your smartphone, Supernatural provides users with expertly coached daily workouts, detailed fitness tracking, an expansive catalog of music and a chance to exercise in the world's most beautiful locations without ever leaving home.
About Tiffany Haddish
Tiffany Haddish is a comedian, actress, and producer who was the breakout star of the smash comedy Girls Trip, where she appeared as the scene-stealing "Dina" alongside Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, and Regina Hall. Her additional film and television work includes The Last O.G., Night School, The Carmichael Show, Keanu, and a turn as host of the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards. Her debut stand-up special, Tiffany Haddish: She Ready! From the Hood to Hollywood, debuted on Showtime in August 2017. In November 2017, she made history by becoming the first black female stand-up comedian to host Saturday Night Live. She currently lives in Los Angeles.