Free Virtual Summer Camps from Microsoft

From Coding and Gaming to Virtual Travel, Museum Tours, Office 365, Cybersecurity and more – Microsoft has put together free online workshops that include something for everyone. A sampling is below and you can find many more courses and dates here.

  • A chance to travel! Virtual Travel: US National Parks Road Trip, ages 8+, Monday August 10, 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM Register
  • Computers for beginners! Virtual Workshop for Students – Beginners fun with computers and coding, ages 6+, Monday August 10, 10 AM – 11AM, Register
  • Gaming Opportunity! Virtual Workshop for Students: Hour of Code Minecraft | ADVENTURE! ages 8+ Register, Tuesday August 11 1 PM – 2 PM Register

And for the “young adults” who may think they’re too old for summer camp, Microsoft has workshops for professionals which include building skills on LinkedIn, Starting your own business,  Microsoft Teams, Outlook and more. A sampling is below, and you can find many more courses and dates here.

  • Improve your online presence! Virtual Workshop – Rock your LinkedIn Profile, Tuesday August 11,  11 AM – Noon, Register
  • Learn about Teams! Virtual Workshop – Empower your small business with Microsoft Teams, Thursday, August 6, 11 AM – Noon, Register
  • A great overview! Empowering students of all abilities with Windows 10 and Microsoft 365, Monday August 17, 1 PM – 2 PM, Register

Selecting the Laptop of Your Dreams

In our last blog “What Does it Cost” we provided budgetary numbers for various office configurations. We’re following that up with a list of criteria to consider in buying a laptop, as well as some opinions on the best way to go:

Operating System

Get Windows 10 Pro if there is any chance this computer will be used in your work environment. Many tools that businesses use won’t run on Windows Home.


Dimensions – a 12 or 13 inch screen is great for stowing in your bag and getting to your next meeting, but if your most important issue is a bigger screen for viewing space, then you should consider a 14 or 15 inch laptop.

Weight – this is related to the size above, but also depends on whether you use a traditional hard drive or an SSD (Solid State Drive). As a result, more expensive laptops also tend to be lighter as they can use more expensive but very strong materials.

Ports and Connectivity – Think about what you need to connect and check out the ports. Then consider your needs as traditional USB ports are often not included in small laptops, moving instead to USB Type-C. Thunderbolt, Ethernet and HDMI are also options many people find desirable and useful.

DVD Drive – we still get this question, so here’s the answer – not anymore! Therefore, if you need to use DVDs get an external drive. Most drivers and software are now available for download online.

Camera and microphone – unless you really don’t want them, always best to include.

Processor – buy at least an i5 processor. However, if you do a lot of graphics or intense spreadsheets, consider an i7 or better.


Screen Resolution – we always go for 1920 x 1080 or better. We’ve all gotten used to very crisp and clear.

Touch Screen – Do you need it? This adds cost, but many people get addicted to this feature, especially with the ubiquity of touchscreen mobile devices and tablets.

Backlit Keyboard – this is one of our favorite features and is not expensive. It is so helpful if you are sitting on the couch trying to sneak some work in during a movie!

Battery Life – most laptops today have pretty good battery life, but make sure you compare. And remember that the numbers they quote are usually under “ideal” conditions.

WiFi and Bluetooth – these are standard, but there some laptops without so it can’t hurt to verify. You definitely want Dual Band Wifi.

Memory and Storage

Memory/RAM – unless you are using the laptop just for internet access, get at least 16 GB of RAM. 8 GB will be fine for cloud-based applications, but if you want to run Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint you’ll be glad to have more.

Storage/Hard Drive – we like SSDs and prices have come down. They are lighter, faster and more reliable than traditional (SATA) hard drives.

Don’t Forget the Warranty!

Warranty – we always buy a 3 year ProSupport warranty or equivalent, because then the vendor will come onsite to do any warranty work. Unless you have an extra laptop, sending it away for service is very inconvenient and takes at least a week. The ProSupport enables BEI to do initial triage and troubleshooting, saving our clients time.

How Our Engineers Secure Their Home Networks

Hear from real-life BEI Parents on how they secure their home networks. This can be a scary time for your family’s designated IT guru, and we’re here to help.  How do you protect your professional work life from your family (hey—it really can be that dramatic), ensure you have the bandwidth to do your job, and also make sure all of the family computers are operating as safely as possible?

Fathers and one mother contribute their thoughts about topics ranging from wireless networks to the use of the cloud, router setup, passwords and sometimes just saying No! Here are a few of the favorites, but check out the link above for more details:

  • We have a guest network for any friends who come over.
  • The broadband router is also configured to use the Cloudflare DNS servers for faster DNS resolution as well as malicious content filtering.
  • I limit bandwidth usage while I am working, mostly manually by restricting the kids from streaming any shows on TV.
  • All PCs have antivirus/malware protection.
  • Files and documents are hosted in cloud shares such as OneDrive with photos/videos in both OneDrive and Google.

CMMC Update

We had a great discussion with Katie Arrington (CISO at DoD), James Goepel (Officer with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification), and George Bills (Owner of Logical Security Services and BEI’s Chief Auditor).  The group discussed the current assessment schedule and shared some insights about what the rest of 2020 and beginning of 2021 will bring with CMMC.  If you missed it, you can check out the video HERE.

For more CMMC resources and the most recent updates see or contact us for a phone consultation.

Lunchtime Webinars

If you have 15-30 minutes to spare at lunchtime, we’d love to have you join our monthly lunchtime webinars. Targeted toward end user (translate – not technical!) these are designed to help you conquer technical issues and save time. Upcoming are:

Secure Your Workplace

Tuesday, August 25 at noon REGISTER
Join BEI Partner Ken Kocher, President of Force Security, for this informative webinar on physically securing your workplace. Ken secures everything from federal agencies to apartment buildings to banks to office suites. He will discuss layers of physical security from access control to camera systems. Bring your lunch and get ready to be engaged!

Lunch at desk

Cybersecurity Insurance

Tuesday, September 22 at noon REGISTER
Andrew Beardall, Senior Partner/General Counsel, The Capital Group will give an overview of the risks and considerations involved with selecting a Cybersecurity insurance. Andrew will cover questions such as:

  • when applying for cyber insurance, are there deal breakers or conditions/history that really raise premiums?
  • what are the most critical safe guards insurance providers are looking for?


We record all of the webinars and have posted them for you to watch at your leisure!

Contact Us