Posted on October 9th, 2011 No comments
I was referred to a new client last week. A retail business with two stores about 5 miles apart from each other. Their problem, at least from my point of view, was that the technology was not simple. As I have found and will always stand firmly on the statement that no one is to blame and yet everyone is.
Especially now, in a time when budgets are ‘tight’ and the need to squeeze more productivity out of each dollar spent on our employees. Technology was created to help businesses get more done. It was not created to do this without maintenance, upgrading and training.
My case in point today is that the new client’s server was taken over by a hacker who is using it as a file repository when people can be directed to down illicit content from. The hacker setup some very nasty protections to keep the business owner’s technical consultant from easily removing the unwanted processes. The server was configured in such a way as to put up barriers to resolving this problem. Why? It usually points to a client with a small or unrealistic budget. (which is not their fault)
This all started out with a custom made server being used for the business owner. I for one have a lot of respect for anyone that can build a server for use at a business. My problem arises when the licenses become invalid, because the company did not keep up with his volume licensing agreements. Then take into consideration why the custom built server was used in the beginning… it was cheaper than one from DELL, Fujitsu, IBM or HP. The reason why it was cheaper is because the custom built server did not use the same quality parts that were used by the corporation built ones. Nothing inside the computer is standard, where the corporate built ones, everything is. You can easily get additional memory for a DELL whether from DELL or Crucial.com 5 years after you originally purchased the computer, where it is very unlikely that you will be able to purchase parts for the custom made server due to the fact that the manufacturer of the parts either went out of business, was bought out by someone else, or just didn’t have sufficient parts made or kept in stock to be available when you needed it 5 years later.
So now they have to purchase a new server, or stick with the problems that you are operating under. So now, did the IT provider drop the ball when it came to setting up this network? I never judge anyone on the work they have done. I never point fingers at anyone because it never resolves the immediate problem at hand which is getting the business back in business.
I, like most IT Professionals, will 9 out of 10 times create proposals that include only new equipment from corporate manufacturers. I use best practices during the creation of these proposals and continue to use them thru the purchase, implementation and follow-up maintenance of their computer networks.
What are ‘Best Practices’?
Simply said, quality computers, servers and network equipment; sufficient UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supplies) for all computer equipment, internet security/anti-virus solutions for all computers and servers, a backup solution that includes sufficient number of tapes, that are taken off-site, and stored safely, and that said backups are restored from time to time to ensure that the backups are good and not corrupt; security measures that meet their needs; and instructing the user-base in how to use everything correctly.
Lastly but most importantly, talking with the users, managers and owners at length to find out what they really want and need their networks to do and to be able to do in the future. Planning, Planning, Planning!
Please post your comments, concerns and questions.
Make My Technology Simple
Posted on February 2nd, 2011 No comments
As a small business owner myself I can relate to everyone that runs a business. Whether it is a sole proprietorship, LLC, or an S-corp. We all have the desire to see our companies do good, by providing great services to our customers and by earning enough to be able to live her on Long Island.
Sometimes when I get stressed out from wearing all the hats I have to on a daily basis, both as a business owner and a Dad and home owner, I close my eyes and I see the guy from the Ed Sullivan Show trying to keep the 15 plates spinning on the end of the sticks! As he gets one going, three others are slowing down and he has to give his undivided attention to them, only to get them going and seeing another one-two-three or four other plates starting to wobble and need him to run over to them. At best, there is no one to help him perform these tasks except the assistant who is handing him more plates! But like the performer who won’t allow the plates to fall, I won’t let my ‘plates’ fail either!
To try and stay ahead of my ‘plates’ crashing, I have created a system using Microsoft Outlook to help me keep an eye on my ‘plates’. I find that by creating tasks and appointments and reminders using MS Outlook, I can plan my days better and get more done and not let much of anything get by me!
Microsoft Outlook for those who might not be ‘up’ on computer applications is an Email application created by Microsoft. It is a part of the Microsoft Office Suite of applications which depending on the suite you buy will include WORD, EXCEL, POWERPOINT, ACCESS, PUBLISHER, ONE NOTE, amongst others.
Microsoft Outlook can save the day and stop you from missing appointments and deadlines! I especially like it as I am the owner of an LLC and have to pay my LLC registration fee to NYS every year on time. If I miss it by one day, I have to pay a fine. Which before I started using Outlook seemed to be the norm! If you have similar ‘pay on time or else’ bills in your business or personal life, then you know the stress of finding that letter from that missed deadline indicating you are late and must now pay the fine!
Enter in Outlook and reminders! Create a task and then set the reminder for 7 days. When the reminder comes up, I usually say, “Wow I forgot all about that payment!”. Then I click snooze and like the alarm clock it will go off again the next day to remind me again! Now I pay it because I know how bad my luck is and if I don’t pay it now, I will probably forget all about it!
Other great ways of using Outlook are to keep track of your business contacts. There is another part of Outlook called Business Contact Manager which can help you keep track of your business contacts. I set up my call list for the day, then enter the info that I got from each contact and enter it into BCM. I can then set reminders to call one of them back, send a letter to another and finally invoice another one. And all of this is kept in BCM so that when I go back to look at the clients, I can see my history with them and the notes I have written for each one.
This is just one of the hundreds of ways that technology can save you time! Here at Make My Technology, we try to take the mystery out of technology and give the smaller companies the IT Muscle of the big boys!
Posted on June 23rd, 2008 2 comments
For most of us this phrase would mean that they are down in the dumps. To others it might mean that a concert. The key here is that we should not assume anything when it comes to our computers and their protection.
Case in point… a client calls me up saying that one of his office PCs is acting ‘weird’. So anyone that has sat in front of a computer can tell you that ‘weird’ is not good. So I get on over to the client’s office and discover that this computer has has been infected with a few viruses. I discover immediately that the PC does not have their anti virus software up to date. When I ask him about this he says that a message came up a month or so ago and said that it wanted him to buy something to continue his protection. I told him that that was normal. That the program itself would continue to do scans, but that you had to pay for the up to date ‘signatures’ that tell the program how to detect all the new viruses.
Well to make a long story short, we activated his anti virus account, downloaded the ‘signatures’ and then did a full scan. The scan found 17 new viruses. One of which was noted to send information to someone else’s email account!
We will never know if that virus did in fact send any information out to another email account [this is one of the ways identity theft occurs]. But we have agreed that I would return the next business day to ensure that all his computers had up to date accounts and that they were doing full scans every night.
So the moral of the story… never assume your computers are safe! You just might end up with the Summertime Blues…
Posted on April 16th, 2008 3 comments
’Is there some way for me to keep my friends and associates up-to-date on what is going on in my life, business, and/or organizations?’
As hard as it may be to believe, as a solutions provider, I hear this line more times then you would think. Because after all, I am in the business to provide ‘simple’ solutions to my clients. Sometimes it is not easy, but other times it is a ‘piece of cake’!
A company called Constant Contact is that ‘piece of cake’ I am referring too! A low cost subscription of $30 per month for less than 500 email addresses gets you an account with them. Now what you say? Take the great online tutorials! Learn! Play! Create emails and send them to your family and friends to announce your birthday! Your new baby! Create groups that consist of contacts related to different things. You don’t want to announce to the whole email list that you are having a baby shower! Or maybe you do!
There are tons of templates that only add to the excitement of creating your own emails and then blasting them out to friends, relatives, members of your associations, whether that be the girl scout troop that you are the Den Mother for, or president of your Civic Association.
Need help?! As a Constant Contact Authorized Business Partner I can do that! From a little hand holding to creating professional looking emails, from setting up your account to setting up your groups and uploading your contact lists. Need a little help or a lot, I am your partner.
For more information, click on the ‘Build a Mail List with Constant Contact’ under the Use Links section on the bottom right hand corner of my website. It will bring you to my Co-branded website with Constant Contact and you can read up on how you to can ‘Make Email Blasting Easy!’
Have thoughts or questions about this or any other of my blogs? Please post a response! Let me know what you are thinking.