Posted on December 21, 2017 by Dan Quick
Hello again from VirtualPBX! It’s that time of year again when we pause to look back and, like every year before, reflect on the great strides we’ve made over the past 12 months. This year has been significant in so many ways but there is one key consistent aspect of it that we are eternally grateful for, and that is our wonderful community of customers without whom none of this would have ben possible. This year, however, we were able to collaborate with our users in ways like we never have before and the result has been equally historic, as well.
Community Driven Success
Typically, we’ve worked on our newest projects by evolving and refining our internal processes, but this year marked the beginning of a new, more fruitful, path to product development. By introducing our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap, we were able to begin including the people most intimately involved with our products into the design process therefore. Our Product Roadmap does more than offer a glimpse into the future of our newest products and features. It’s also an avenue for our power users to offer feature requests, comments on our trajectory, and even gain valuable access to exclusive beta testing programs as all of these new technologies become available. Through this process, we’ve been able to boost our productivity, shorten development cycles, and improve the overall quality of our offerings in record time. The Awards and Recognition we’ve received from industry press and peer-review boards alike speak volumes about the results of this new process. Our truest success, however, can measured in the thousands of businesses that are getting more from their phone systems than ever before. To give just a few of those milestones another moment in the sun, we’ve outlined some of the highlights of our customer-centric product development process below.
Blacklisting Bad Actors
Spam callers are frustrating and can be a time-consuming irritation under the best of conditions. In more extreme cases, malicious callers and robo-dialers can even rake up costly call traffic and tie up your employees from doing their actual work. Our collaborative solution to that was the all new Blacklisting feature. This allows for businesses to collaboratively add, manage, and update all of the flagged spam numbers they encounter. Once uploaded, these numbers are blocked from ever reaching any extension or number across a business’ entire telephone system automatically and in perpetuity.
VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone and Salesforce CRM Integration
One of the biggest waves we made this year was the collaboration we had with one of the largest companies in the entire SaaS space, Salesforce. By delivering a VirtualPBX Desktop Softphone and Salesforce CRM integration, we brought to our customers a marriage of two of the most vital tools for the modern, sales-reliant organization. With the complete and complimentary integration of the mobile-first telephone system, Dash, along with powerful customer relationship management from Salesforce, sales teams everywhere are more capable, independent and profitable everywhere. Plus, for managers of sales teams, the integration also comes with entirely new data visualizations for all manner of relevant data points for contacts, conversions, and more.
Getting Caught by Webhooks
If you hadn’t heard of Webhooks before now, you’re not alone, because they were news to this author not too long ago as well. However, thanks to the work from our engineers and users alike, the need for more integrations and automations has become abundantly clear. Good thing, too, now that VirtualPBX supported Webhooks come with every Dash Basic, Pro, and Unlimited Plan. With hundreds of the most popular business application supported, the potential applications of Webhooks with VirtualPBX are limited by only the imagination of a company’s employees. Being able to have your business phone system communicate with the other critical applications for your business is great on its own, but considering that we also include the first Webhook for free on all of our plans, it doesn’t get any better than that!
The Second Act for SIP Trunking
SIP Trunking was another area that took an unexpected turn for the better this year thanks to the hard work of our UX/UI designers and engineering teams. For years, there have been companies that had locked themselves into long-term amortization and depreciation schedules by having invested heavily into on-site PBX hardware. Those companies still wanted to take advantage of the mobility and cost-saving benefits of a cloud-based PBX, however, but their options to do so were relatively antiquated compared to the intuitive and streamlined VoIP Plans available. Realizing this, we set out to deliver the solution and have been thrilled at the adoption of our entirely new SIP Trunking Solutions that combine the technological potency that is required to bridge on-site and hosted PBX systems along with the simplicity and performance that is desired by modern enterprises.
Bringing ACD Queues to Dash
No list of major 2017 milestones in telephony would be complete without the mention of one of our most anticipated releases, the entirely new ACD Queues that we rolled out into Dash Features earlier this year. The advancement of our call queue technology has been made possible by the fact that we’ve been offering call queues, hunt groups, and a variety of other creative departmental call routing solutions for nearly two decades. All of that experience, along with the invaluable insight gained from our beta testing period with our own customers, contributed to what is arguably the most capable and easy to use enterprise queuing system available in the cloud. Complete with all of the admin features of previous systems but with the added benefits of it being a hosted system makes the new ACD Queues on Dash a formidable service for organizations with high call volumes, tight budgets, and zero tolerance for mediocrity. Seriously, we’re really excited about how these are working for our customers, so if you are a growing business that needs more sophisticated routing and queuing, you should really check them out today.
Being Here for You Around the Clock
We wish we could give credit to our customer feedback loop for our industry-leading commitment to service, but this is something we’re proud to say has been with us from the start. From our earliest days, we understood that if we were going to compete in the emerging market of VoIP providers, we were going to have win the battle for providing unparalleled Customer Support. We’ve been fortunate to have a great and dedicated team that has routinely put us on the short list for leaders in support in our industry, but when we unveiled our 24/7, 365 days a year Support for free with every VoIP account, we believe we’ve pulled ahead of the pack. We host telephone numbers for over 140 countries in the world and our customers represent business interests from every corner of the globe, so a simple 9-5 just never would have cut it. Because we understand that our success is directly related to the success of our customers, and because they are out there mixing it up every hour of the day, we’re committed to being there for them no matter what happens and no matter when it happens. Of course, ideally you’ll never have to speaks to our friendly folks in Customer Support, but if you happen to need them, they’re just a phone call away any time of the day.
What’s Next for 2018
If you haven’t noticed yet, the theme of transparency should be coming through pretty, um, clearly. We have the major plans for 2018 all outlined on our VirtualPBX Product Roadmap right now and are constantly adding to and updating them as we go along. A few of the highpoints coming up include text messaging, further integrations with g-suite, Slack, and other top business tools, along with a few other surprises that we’re keeping close to the chest. No matter what the topic, feature, or product may be, however, we’re always eager to hear your perspective on how it will impact your business. In the interest of keeping our efforts focused on improving that impact and increasing your productivity by reducing the clutter in your communications operations, please consider joining in the conversation either there or with us over social media. The premium value of your participation is the only certainty in our industry, and we’re honored to include it into every business decision we make.
There you have it, folks! As you can see, it has been quite a year indeed. We want to invite you to join us for the next adventure that’s hiding on the other side of the calendar. We have even more plans to include our communities, both around our various worldwide offices and our global digital community, in more events, promotions, and releases than ever before. Plus, we promise to have a little bit of fun along the way. Whatever the case may be, just know that we will stay steadfast on our course, committed to excellence, and willing to always go the extra mile for you every step of the way. Please accept our gratitude for being an indispensible part of our 2017, as well as our invitation to the front row of what is to come in 2018!
From all of us at VirtualPBX, may you all have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!
Posted on December 5, 2017 by Dan Quick
Success in a contact center for a business is one of the often overlooked but highly important factors to running a successful operation. Contact centers are often the nerve center for a company whereby the total sum of all customer contact is funneled to the appropriate departments. This means that everyone from a sales prospect to customer needing support and even potential media and PR contacts all can conceivably have their first impression of a company determined by a member of the contact center staff. The critical nature of creating a uniformly satisfying call experience for people reaching out to any contact center, therefore, cannot be overstated. And while there are plenty of pieces of advice on how to properly staff and train call centers, how a virtual call center can save businesses a great deal of money, and even on how to teach millennial workforces about proper phone call etiquette, there isn’t much help for businesses that are already operating a contact center and need to review its efficiency. Until now, that is. These 4 ways to review your contact center communications system address some of the biggest challenges facing call centers as well as offer suggestions on how to address them.
4 Ways to Review Your Contact Center Communications System
As we’ve mentioned, hiring and training the employees of a contact center is essential to making the most of the communications hub of a business. However, even the best, most well-trained employees are left with their hands tied if the systems they rely on are inadequate when it matters the most. That’s why these points of review are to assess the needs and abilities of a contact center communications system so that the team you invest so heavily in can always get the job done.
- Review Call Volume The number of calls a contact center receives is more than just a static number. Time of day, originating time zones, time of year, relation to promotions/advertisements, and a host of other factors all contribute to the overall call volume consideration. Tracking all of these nuances is more difficult than using a simple call count, but can be done with a modern cloud-based business telephone system that utilizes intelligent call tracking like DNIS numbers. Additionally, hosted telephone systems can provide real-time data visualizations that add insight into peak call periods over the course of a year or intraday. If these features aren’t available for free on your current plan, it may be time to shop for a new option.
- Review Call Routing Flow A frustrating or lengthy call routing experience is likely one of the most often-cited reasons for dissatisfaction by inbound callers. Receiving a lot of missed calls and voicemails? Using the right balance of Ring Groups and/or ACD Queues will streamline callers to their desired departments or parties in a way that expedites their needs and evenly utilizes all of the call center’s employees equitably and effectively.
- Review Call Queue Administrator Tools Admins are responsible for managing hundreds or even thousands of calls a day, so the tools they rely on are subjected to even higher expectations of simplicity than anything else. Being able to monitor calls, agent status, and call traffic is just the beginning. Ideally, call queue management will also include the ability to assign agent strengths, assign overflow or escalation queues before traffic volume becomes an issue, and even determine how long agents should have between calls to wrap-up notes and prepare for the next call. A modern cloud-based call center can provide call queue admins with details and functionality well above and beyond what is typically available from on-site telephone systems. Plus, being cloud-based, admins of modern contact centers can accomplish this all from the palm of their hands or from anywhere that they have an internet or data connection.
- Review Quality Assurance Procedures We’ve alluded many times to the importance of hiring and retaining the best people for your business, but using the contact center communications system is one way many companies forget to ensure those teams are the best they can be. For example, recording inbound calls for quality assurance is better than a live eavesdrop because it provides the opportunity to have agents listen to their performance with a manager or trainer. Nothing prepares a contact center employee to improve their next calls quite like the chance to hear a conversation played back to them for guidance.
Move From Internal Review to External Search
These are just some of the areas where a contact center communications strategy is desperate to perform if it’s going to keep pace with a growing business and an increasingly demanding consumer. If your business phone system doesn’t support these any of the above mentioned advanced configurations, reporting, or functionality it’s definitely time to put it through some closer scrutiny. Did you know that some businesses that switched their call center operations from a legacy, copper-wired telephone system to a cloud-based business phone saved as much as 40% on their monthly expenses? It’s true. By cutting the cords to the outdated technology that traditional phone companies rely on you do more than just save money, too. The added benefits of mobility, flexibility, customization, and the ability to always have the highest marks in all of the above categories makes cloud-based communications an essential technology for contact centers everywhere.
Posted on October 19, 2017 by Dan Quick
For our Partner Blog Series we like to highlight the relationships we have with our peers and business partners from across all areas of the telecommunications industry. We know that when it comes to relationships, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s why we want to share with you the wisdom, experience, and perspective of the companies we work with.
This edition of the Partner Blog Series comes to us from Don Harold of Dead Drop Software, the online collaboration tool that allows for safe communications and secure file-sharing. Here he covers some of the dangers of computer viruses, how they are commonly contracted, and ways to avoid letting one ruin your network.
How to Secure Your Company Data Without Expensive Antivirus Programs
What are you doing to protect your company data from the prying eyes of hackers? Are you confident enough to say that your data are well protected and nothing can ever break your wall of security? If you’re not sure, perhaps you should ask yourself these four questions-
- Does your company send files and images out to clients?
- Are Google Drive and Dropbox a common tool you’re using for exchanging documents?
- Do you frequently use email to connect with your clients, teams and other connections?
- Do you regularly download files sent to you via email?
If you’re doing even just one of the listed above, then it’s time to think twice.
To secure your data, it’s often believed that you need an expensive antivirus program. Many such programs aren’t the blanket protection you’d expect, however, much less are they the only way to combat malicious software attacks. In fact, you can actually live without an antivirus and still keep your data safe. Before we get into that, though, we should first examine some of the biggest attacks in recent history.
Here are some of the notorious viruses as listed by Sharon Weinberger, Executive Editor of Foreign Policy:
- ILOVEYOU In the year 2000, a Filipino man named Onel de Guzman launched this epic virus as an email message with a subject line “ILOVEYOU” with an attached file entitled “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs”. People fell into the trap and opened the file thinking it might be a love confession for them. The virus caused an estimated US$5.5 – 8.7 billion damages worldwide affecting 10% of all Internet-connected computers back then.
- Code Red In 2001, a computer worm was launched. Computers running Microsoft’s IIS web server were attacked leading the worm to take down some websites, including the White House website. The virus caused over $2 billion in losses.
- Stuxnet Originally named as VirusBlokAda, this malicious computer worm was specifically created to cause real damage to Iran’s nuclear program, in the year 2009. It ruined about 1/5th of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges making the machines spin out of control and tear themselves apart.
- Other scandalous viruses include Conficker Virus, agent.btz, Zeus, and WannaCry.
Hopefully, you weren’t affected by any of these, but perhaps you’ve had run-ins with less prolific viruses. In fact, it’s very possible that’s the case because a virus is essentially any type of malware. Malware (malicious software) is software written specifically to disable, damage, or harm computers and computer systems. Common malware types are the virus, adware, spyware, worms, trojan, and ransomware. A computer virus is a malware type that is capable of cloning or replicating itself by modifying or changing computer programs and spreads over the system, destroying and corrupting data and the computer system itself. And viruses have the destructive ability to delete and corrupt files and change the way your computer operates. Viruses are lethal! They can cause you thousands of dollars, if not millions, of damages.
How Can an Antivirus Program Protect Your Data?
Antivirus programs protect a computer system from cyber attacks and computer viruses while online. They’re made for data security scanning and detecting viruses from files and websites. Antivirus programs can be run automatically or manually, making sure there are no viruses lingering on your computer and data. But, antivirus programs also come with a price, and some of the most commonly used antiviruses are truly expensive. Considering that antivirus protection may not be enough to keep you away from harm, is it really worth it?
Rob Verger, assistant tech editor at PopSci said on his PopSci article that:
Your antivirus software is not enough. “Prevention is the main function of an antivirus software. Some antivirus program can delete downloaded viruses, but not necessarily all viruses as some are other types of malware as mentioned above (adware, spyware, worms, trojan, and ransomware). One needs to acquire a malware remover to work side by side with an antivirus software.”
Learning the common culprits of this destructive malware is the first step to achieving maximum security. Rick Broida, writer of CNET’s Cheapskate blog listed these as the two main culprits of malware:
- Unsafe Links Email is likely doing your business more harm than good. In emails, most of the time, we receive phishing emails with unsafe links. For example, the groundbreaking ILOVEYOU virus came from an email spread over to millions of people worldwide. Similarly, links are largely sent through emails and when people click on it, it can run an installation of malware/s to a computer.
- Spyware-infested downloads Websites offering free software downloads are rampant. And that’s where some malware are secretly hiding and some are confidently joining with other download buttons, confusing innocent visitors. Once you click on the fake download button, the malware is downloaded. And you know what happens next.
How To Secure Your Data Without Using Antivirus
- Use Dead Drop Software Because some of the malware come from unsafe links sent via email, minimize email use. Consider using a different messaging system that can protect you from online attacks and malware. Dead Drop Software is an online collaboration tool that allows for safe communication, secure file-sharing, and easy project collaboration. With Dead Drop, you’re hitting not just two birds, but three birds at the same time! This cloud-based software was built with bank-level security using data encryption for both data in transit and at rest within the platform. You would merely need an internet connection and a web browser to securely use the software. Plus, it comes with other amazing features such as tasks and project management, document management, team collaboration and so much more.
- Practice secure browsing habits Always be vigilant before you click anything online and practice secure browsing habits. There are available tools online that would allow you to mouseover the link first and see a preview of its content first before you go click and go to the website. There’s SearchPreview for Chrome users and HoverSee, to name a few. Or use an ad blocker, Adblock for example, for Chrome and Safari users. It blocks and prevents advertisements from showing up on any websites, thus protecting you from culprit #2. From Lifehacker:
“Adblock Plus is one of the most robust browser extensions out there, and while its namesake is its most-used feature, it’s not just about blocking ads. In fact, you can do all sorts of things with it, including cleaning up Facebook’s interface and making sure websites aren’t tracking you.”
Also, be careful what you download and never click a link or open an attachment from someone you don’t know and always have second thoughts before you download or click forwarded emails with attachments or links.
- Backup, backup, backup If you’re using Dead Drop Software, you probably won’t need data backup since the software does not have storage and bandwidth limits. Anyone with an account can post and share as many files as they want. Make sure to always backup your data in the cloud and locally.
- Up to date systems Updates on applications are mostly to fix bugs and for performance improvements. One way to keep safe is to maintain an up-to-date system by updating your applications, hardware, and software regularly. Danny Stieben, from MUO (Make Use Of) says:
“The next step is to make sure that all your software, especially your browser, is up to date. Newer versions will fix security bugs that may be present in older versions, and updates could also bring support for new security technologies. That way, it will be much harder for a hacker or virus to exploit a security hole to compromise your system.”
Create strong passwords Creating complex and strong passwords will not only help you secure your data but will also protect you from hackers. Also, do not reuse your passwords across different accounts. Once an account has been hacked, if you’re using the same or similar passwords for other accounts, the hacker can easily see a pattern and eventually hack your critical data. Gary Davis, a Chief Consumer Security Evangelist suggested this:
“… check to see if your online accounts offer multi-factor authentication. This is when multiple pieces of information are required to verify your identity. So, to log into an account you may need to enter a code that is sent to your phone, as well as your password and passphrase.”
- Use a firewall A firewall is a network security, categorized as either software and hardware, that protects and monitors outgoing and incoming network traffic establishing a wall or a barrier between trusted and unauthorized communication on computer hosts or networks. Other software firewalls are built-in in some operating systems. If you have a built-in firewall, make sure to always turn it on. However, if you don’t have one, you might want to consider buying a hardware firewall. It is wise to use a firewall to keep you invisible on the internet, blocking unauthorized communications from untrusted sources.
- Make sure to overwrite your deleted files Because data that is deleted from a computer isn’t ever technically gone forever, the best way to really ensure that your old data is gone forever is to overwrite it. Or if you’ve decided not to use the old hard drive and utilize other means of data backup instead, you may want to opt on totally destroying the device physically like using a chainsaw perhaps.
- Spread the news Teach and educate your employees about the suggested ways above. Data security cannot be achieved by only one person’s efforts, but everybody’s efforts. Educating your employees will not only protect your company from data breach and cyber attacks but will also build a team effort protection. Plus, a bit of education is always less expensive than paying for the repair of virus-infected systems.
Acquiring and using an antivirus software to secure your company data is never a bad option as it vastly reduces chances of suffering malware attacks. But, it is always wise and smart to be vigilant and incorporate using the tips above to get maximum data security even without using antivirus. So while the threat of viruses is about 100% likely to be an insufficient deterrent to keeping people from going online, it persists nonetheless. That’s why you’ll want to make sure you follow these tips, keep safe distance between your connected devices and bad actors, update all of your hardware and software, and most importantly, if you have questions about network security that you can’t answer internally, contact a Network Monitoring expert to see what your situation is and how to improve it.
What do you think? Do you feel secure using an antivirus program? Or are you not even using one at all? Let us know by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and make sure to stay tuned for more from the Partner Blog Series.
Posted on October 12, 2017 by Dan Quick
Home based receptionist jobs are on the rise thanks to the increase in hosted telecommunications that allow businesses to have employees who work remotely. How to land one of the virtual receptionist jobs from home isn’t as simple as knowing how to transfer calls, though. Being a work at home receptionist is about how to be the most efficient employee you can be and without allowing the many distractions that come from your home environment interfere with your productivity. That’s why we’ve tapped our massive amount of experience with remote workers, distributed workforces, and digital nomads to bring you these tips on how to land one of those coveted at home receptionist jobs.
How to Become a Work at Home Receptionist
We’ve been pioneering the technology that powers remote workers for over 20 years, so we’ve seen what does and doesn’t work for most companies when they try to hire for their at home receptionists. Also, because we’re huge advocates of work from home policies, we have the entirety of our workforce working all or part o the time from their homes, ourselves. It’s with these combined areas of expertise that we’re able to provide the following tips on how to be the most attractive candidate for your next at home receptionist job.
- Ensure That You Can Maintain a Professional Image at Home One of the first things that gets lost in the mix when people consider working from home is that you still need to project professionalism for your employer. Being an at home receptionist often times includes video conferencing with inbound callers as well as fielding phone calls, so designing the ideal home office with a separate space that is conducive to healthy productivity is as important as not rolling out of bed and right into your desk chair.
- Remember Business Telephone Etiquette Even if you design the ideal home office, an at home receptionist job can be difficult to keep the lines drawn between any commotion going on in the home and the conversations you’ll have with customers. Remember to keep the background noise to an absolute minimum and always follow these steps on good telephone etiquette to make sure you’re keeping your callers, and employers, happy.
- Respect Your Working Hours Another way that some people can stumble in their search for the ideal at home receptionist job is by failing to respect the hours of operation. Though certainly some flexibility is afforded to at home workers, drawing and enforcing healthy boundaries about your working hours is just as important for at home employees as it is for those who visit an office everyday.
- Ensure That Your Home Office Can Support Remote Work Honestly, most employers will provide the technical assistance necessary to establish the workstations for their at home receptionists, but it’s always good to review your own tech thresholds, too. Competing for an at home receptionist job won’t hinge on being able to say your home meets all the network requirements for VoIP, but it’s definitely going to make you an more attractive candidate.
Let Us Know How Your Search Goes
Hopefully these tips will help you land the at home receptionist job of your dreams, but they’ll make your remote work more productive and rewarding either way. Also, if you can think of any other essential tips for aspiring work from home receptionists to follow, let us know on Twitter or Facebook, and maybe we’ll include them in the next set of tips on how to be a work at home receptionist.
Posted on September 21, 2017 by Dan Quick
We’ve all been reminded recently exactly how unpredictable life can be. The recent surge of hurricanes that have battered the Caribbean and United States is proof enough, but additional forest fires all over the Pacific Coast states and into Montana are stark reminders that even without low pressure systems, natural disasters can strike in an instant. Nowhere has that been made more apparent, however, than in the capital city of our neighbor to the south. Mexico City has been literally rocked to its core by a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit the most populous metropolitan area on the continent on Tuesday. Now, with emergency crews scrambling to free survivors from tons of rubble, the world is looking on in anticipation and with a desire to find a way to help.
What Makes The Mexico City Earthquake So Significant
First, a little background on what makes this week’s earthquake so significant. Not only was the Richter Scale tipped on Tuesday so much as to cause such pervasive destruction, but the timing of this quake came at a particularly significant time, as well. The quake on September 19, 2017, came exactly 22 years to the day after the catastrophic tremor in 1985 that leveled Mexico City with an 8.0 on the Richter Scale. In the wake of that event, the city was ill-prepared with a formalized response to such widespread carnage. What they didn’t lack, however, was a willingness to act. Therefore, the minutes following the historic quake saw the almost immediate formation of a group of volunteers who began to unearth survivors and clear debris. This group, which is now known as Los Topos, was barely formed before it was dispatched to nearby El Salvador following an earthquake there. Since then, Los Topos have been fixtures all over the planet in helping emergency responses to all manner of natural disasters where there are massive impacts to infrastructure. And while the group has been instrumental in helping save countless lives the world over, they remain relatively unknown, even during this moment of their greatest need in the most auspicious of circumstances and setting; Mexico City on September the 19th. We’d like to help change that.
Los Topos, The Moles, To the Rescue
We’re typically quite deliberate in avoiding an overt endorsement one way or another on a lot of topics. There are some agendas, however, which we feel obligated to work towards advancing. From our philanthropic endeavors, to our focus on service, and commitment to personal wellness, we have no qualms with asserting some positions. We believe that supporting Los Topos in our neighbor’s time of need is one of those times. In the vacuum of more well-known agencies and NGO’s that we typically direct our donations and support to in times of domestic disasters, we’ve seen that many people want to help Mexico City but don’t know exactly how to do that. Therefore, we’ve pulled this information below on exactly how to donate to the rescue efforts of Los Topos.
Los Topos is a professional non-profit Mexican rescue team. They need our support more than ever. If you can spare a few extra dollars this week, please support them via the following methods:
Bank: Santander Cuenta, #92-00070929-4
Reference: Brigada de Rescate Topos Tlaltelolco, A.C.
From Anywhere Else:
No matter how much or little anyone gives to Los Topos, we believe it’s important that we recognize their efforts as they rush to save lives in their own backyard. For an organization that has given so much to so many around the globe, we are humbled to give our thoughts and prayers to them, the people of Mexico City, and anyone who has been affected by all of the recent natural disasters around the globe.