Monday, December 13, 2010

Remain Calm

Nice blog post from my friend Beth Rosen on remaining calm when your technology fails you here

Friday, December 3, 2010

Top 5 Technology Dos and Don'ts when starting a business

I'm speaking to a group of students at Columbia Business School today about the basic IT needs when starting a business. Here's the summary

Top 5 Dos

  • Back Up and then plan your Disaster Recovery
  • Set it up so you can work from anywhere
  • Learn to fully use your tools
  • Monthly options are often better than outright purchased (for tech reasons, not just because of cash flow)
  • Proactively manage your technology. It’s not set it and forget it
Top 5 Don’ts
  • Underestimate the importance of security
  • Spend money just because it’s cool (unless cool is important to our business)
  • Assume just because it’s in the CLOUD it’s cheaper, safer and better
  • Skimp. Invest where you need to
  • Make all the IT decisions yourself. Use a professional. Your IT advisor is as important as your accountant and your attorney

Monday, November 29, 2010

Time to buy new equipment

It may be time to buy new equipment before 2010 comes to a close. The benefit of doing so is that one-hundred percent of your purchases this year (up to a maximum of $500,000) can be expensed. This means you can subtract the amount of money for the whole tax year instead of over several years. This is one of the new tax incentives for small businesses, according to IRS Section 179.

Qualifying purchases could be computers, servers, and accessories. While it is unknown what tax codes will look like in 2011, now seems to be a smart time to make a purchase. The current tax code is definitely appealing due to the dramatic increase in the amount to be written off.

To find out if your desired items are eligible and learn more, CMIT Solutions is here to help. We can assist with making recommendations and we suggest that you also consult with your tax professional.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spotlight Franchise

Spotlight Franchise: CMIT Solutions CMIT Solutions franchise network is a franchise company thats on the right track, helping small business owners to manage their technology needs.  In addition, this franchisor practices what they preach when it comes to supporting their franchisees. Read more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MS Web Apps vs. Google Docs

If you're looking for an inexpensive way to handle common business applications like spreadsheets, presentations and word processing, chances are you've looked into free Web-based services like Google Docs, says John Smythe of CMIT Solutions in Everett. What you may be less aware of is the fact that Microsoft has come up with its own free, Web-based competitor to Google Docs: Office Web more

Friday, October 1, 2010

Does Your Office Technology Need a Makeover?

Are your computer systems so out-of-date, slow, and just plain ugly that trying to fix them is as futile as putting lipstick on Frankenstein’s monster?

If you’re in the market for a serious technology makeover, you’re in luck! From now until November 12, CMIT Solutions is accepting entries for its $75,000 office technology makeover.
Tell us about what makes your I.T. setup so scary and you could win …
     • Dell server, laptops/desktops, and peripherals
     • Microsoft Windows 7 operating system and Office 2010 software
     • Desktop/workstation care, backup, email filtering, and security services from CMIT Solutions
Do it now while you’re thinking of it! Take 5 minutes to enter our technology makeover contest and you could win $75,000 worth of hardware, software, and services courtesy of Dell, Microsoft, and CMIT Solutions.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's Your 97 Year Old Technology?

This past week, the Long Island Railroad has had to cancel over 25% of their trains, causing hour long delays for their passengers. A rainstorm on Monday caused a 97 year old piece of technology to fail, the effect of which cascaded through the switching system of the Jamaica station.

Why am I blogging about this? Because it's a warning.

Was the LIRR surprised at what happened? I'll venture to say "No, they were not". At some point in the recent past, someone informed someone else that there was a critical system which was almost 100 years old. They knew the critical system was part of the switching system at their main junction and a failure would mean days of service delivery problems.

But the LIRR is lucky. They have no competition. No matter how much their service might suffer, commuters really don't have any other options (unless they want to drive the Long Island Expressway during rush hour). There are no other commuter companies that a disgruntled customer can go to, no matter how unhappy they are with the Railroad.

Unfortunately, the same isn't true of about your business and your customers. Unless you continually keep your customers happy, there's another company right next door just waiting to take their business.

So ask yourself two questions.

What would happen if you couldn't run 25% of your critical business functions for several days?
What is your "97 year old technology"?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Use Technology to Drive Revenue

Chase Bank released a great new app last month. With your iPhone and the QuickDeposit app, you can now snap a picture of an endorsed check and the check is deposited to your account. I'm old enough (just barely) to remember waiting on line at the bank and only during banking hours. When the ATM was introduced, we still had to go to the bank but we could at least do it on our own time. Now, you can make your deposits wherever you are and whenever you want.

This isn't some wildly creative, off the wall, earth shattering concept like the electric lightbulb or the iPod (remember when you had to carry a walkman and buy music at the record store). But it is a significant feature which, for now, sets Chase apart from their competition.

When most of use think of technology, we think of infrastructure and basics. Our network, our email, remote access, backup and disaster recovery and so on. Technology lowers our cost of doing business. It saves time and makes us more efficient.

But what about using technology to increase revenue? What about adding value for your clients? When was the last time you thought of your products and services and looked that them from the client's perspective? I'm not just talking about email newsletters and e-commerce stores. How can technology really set you apart and get you noticed? Chase's iPhone app doesn't advertise the services the bank offers or let clients check their balance while on the road. It goes right to the heart of how busy their clients are and makes their lives easier by saving them time. It adds value to the client in a way that no other bank yet does.

What can you do? Off the top of my head, here are some quick ideas:

Law firms - Create online collaborative workspaces which you and your clients can use for ease of information sharing. This would eliminate large email attachments, problems with not having the latest version of a document, waiting for FedEx, etc.

Architecture firms - same thing

Retail stores & Restaurants - Time sensitive promotions using social media, not only to drive traffic but also to create positive online buzz (bring over a netback and offer them free dessert if they post a review online while they're still sitting at the table)

Medical offices - Allow patients to schedule their own appointments using web based or smartphone appointment setting tools. Save both their time and your staff's time

Anyone in sales - slick iPad based demonstrations which you can show while at the client and web based tools to update and close the deal right then and there (As an aside, if you haven't tried the iPad yet you should. Call me and I'll bring one over. It's so intuitive, my 2 year old daughter figured out how to use it without anyone having to show her)

Not-for-profits - Web based applications to support your fund raising efforts (for example, broadcast a lecture live over the internet with links to "click her to donate and access special member-only material")

None of these are revolutionary. But they are all focused on the client and on driving revenue.

So where do you go from here? Set up a brain storming session with you trusted technology advisor (which would be CMIT, right?) and figure out how you can use technology to drive revenue. It's simpler than you think.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Security Risk Posed by Your Digital Copier

The Data Trove Hidden In Your Copier

While you’re busy making sure your data is safe by encrypting your wireless network, sending emails over a secure connection, and storing your backups in a highly secured remote location, what are the chances that you’re still putting your information at risk?

It turns out that nearly every digital copier made since 2002 stores scans of every image they copy on an internal flash or hard drive. These hard drives don’t have an endless amount of memory, so over time they’ll overwrite old files with new ones. But still, the fact remains that if you’ve recently copied confidential company documents, images of those documents are living inside your copier. And that means they’re available to anybody who buys your used copier through a warehouse or reseller that hasn’t bothered to wipe your drive.

So what to do about this problem? Just be aware that, before you retire or resell your copier, it’s your responsibility to get confidential information off its hard drive or risk the consequences -- which could be anything from having your data sold to identity thieves to finding your company in breach of major privacy regulations such as HIPAA.

According to CBS News, who did a big story on digital copiers back in April, "All the major manufacturers told us they offer security or encryption packages on their products." In other words, while data protection is your responsibility, manufacturers are trying to do their part to help (even if they aren’t always screaming it from the rooftops). The amount you’ll have to pay for security and encryption add-ons varies by manufacturer, of course, and there are also third-party security providers who sell software that will wipe your copier’s drive for you.

Bottom line: it will cost you some money to make sure you’re not giving away data along with your old copier. But when you consider the alternative – allowing digital scans of paycheck stubs, employee social security numbers, bank routing numbers, and the kind of information that digital thieves could resell for top dollar – it’s worth it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

When and How to Upgrade to Windows 7

It has taken Microsoft 9 years, but a good, stable, usable replacement to Windows XP is finally here.

Should you upgrade from Windows XP (or Vista if you went that route) to Windows 7? Actually, Microsoft has already made that decision for you. Sometime within the next two years, Microsoft will End of Life (EOL) Windows XP. That means they won’t be issuing any more fixes, technical support and most importantly, security patches. It also means that the vendors of the applications that you use to run your business will also be ending support for their Windows XP versions. New features, fixes and technical support will no longer be available.

The Gartner Group and other industry analysts are recommending that you plan to be off of Windows XP by the end of 2012.

There are a few different approaches you can take to make the switch.

Option 1 – Buy all new PCs with Windows 7 pre-installed. You’ll be off of XP on 7 and you’ll have all new hardware to boot. It’s a good approach. The downside is that you’ll have to buy all your new hardware which can be expensive. Using a leasing company will enable you to finance the purchase over 2, 3 or 5 years.

Option 2 – Replace your old PCs, upgrade your newer ones. Chances are some of the PCs that you’re purchased in the past few years will run Windows 7 just fine. If that’s the case, the best approach is to buy new PCs with Windows 7 pre-installed to replace the older ones as they need to be retired (a good guideline is to retire your desktop PC after 4 or 5 years). Once all the older ones are replaced, purchase upgrade licenses for the remainder and upgrade them in place. This will take a bit longer than the first approach but it will cost less.

Which ever approach you take, you’ll need to be completely on Windows 7 by the end of 2012. That give you 2 and 1/2 years to make it happen. Figure out which approach you’re taking and spread the upgrade out into 5 sections of 6 months each. Every 6 months replace or upgrade the next 20% of your desktops. Don’t wait until late next year to get started or you’ll be looking at a large upgrade all at once.

And, whatever you do, don’t just expect Windows 7 to work perfectly right out of the box. Test all your applications first. More on that next month.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So What Is SharePoint, Anyway?

Many small businesses have huge problems when it comes to managing processes and sharing information. With every worker wearing multiple hats, it’s often difficult to keep track of who’s in charge of what, to say nothing of where all the information on a particular project is stored. So what do people do? They either have a short conversation by the water cooler, or they say, “Shoot me an email with the status update and your newest version of that contract.”

These approaches will get the job done – and for your average small business struggling to stay on top of a growing workload with limited staff and resources, just getting the job done is an accomplishment in itself. But if you want to get ahead by actively managing your work processes and sharing information efficiently, you’re probably going to need something like SharePoint.

What it is: In a nutshell, it’s the guts behind a good intranet (which is an inhouse website on a company's local area network (LAN) that serves authorized members or employees). Think about your ideal company intranet. It would probably include:

•  Information sharing, so that common documents like time-off request forms or expense forms were all in one place;

•  Document management, so that you could all work off the same version of the employee manual instead of the sixteen revisions you have floating around the office;

•  Collaborative capabilities, so that people could discuss individual projects or business issues in an open forum;

•  Client access, so that clients could review contracts or other documents online instead of trading endless emails.

SharePoint gives you all of that in a single package. And it’s highly customizable to fit in with your company’s structure and work processes.

What it does: It centralizes all that information that’s been floating around in email, on hard drives, on various servers, and on paper so that everybody in your organization can find what they need in one place. It helps preserve institutional knowledge so that you’re not left in the lurch if a key employee leaves your organization. It can serve as the go-to bulletin board for company announcements. And it can foster lively discussions and the exchange of ideas.

What it won’t do: Like any collaborative tool, SharePoint thrives on participation and suffers when it’s ignored. In other words, it won’t work if you don’t use it. You have to actively post documents and participate in discussions. People may resist using SharePoint at first, preferring to just email documents or do whatever their old work habits dictate. But the more you can steer people toward it, the more they’ll use it, and the more value they’ll build into it.

Sign me up: Not so fast. First you need to decide whether you’re going to go with a server-based, in-house SharePoint solution, or if you’re going to go with a hosted option. Both have their benefits and drawbacks. Talk with CMIT Solutions about which option is best for you – whichever one you choose, we can help you set up and customize SharePoint to fit your business.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fend Off A Facebook Hack Attack

A colleague recently wrote on her blog about her own father’s experience getting hacked on Facebook – and it serves as yet another useful reminder of why and how we can take measures to keep our online identities secure.

It appears in this situation that the hacker found his victim’s profile on Facebook, submitted a lost password request, and then answered the security questions with information that was easily found on Google. After taking over his Facebook account, the hacker repeated the process to gain access to the victim’s Gmail account and started emailing all of his contacts asking for money.

If this sounds vaguely reminiscent of something that was in the news a few years ago, it’s because a very similar technique was used by a college student to access Sarah Palin’s Yahoo account. One password reset request later, and Sarah Palin’s emails were all over the Internet.

The take-home here is simple: make sure that your security questions don’t ask about details that are available with a little digging (mother’s maiden name, city of birth, high school mascot). Go for more obscure ones like your first pet’s name or the name of the best man at your wedding (as long as you didn’t blog about your wedding!).  Also, take a good look at the privacy settings on all of your social networking profiles and don’t divulge more information than you have to. That will minimize the amount of damage a hacker can do if they do gain access to your profile.

Don’t assume that a social networking company is as worried about your privacy as you are. The Google Buzz debacle -- in which Google effectively used people’s personal email accounts as a platform for public social networking – illustrates that, for many social marketers, they’re more concerned about building a large and open network than they are about protecting the personal information of individuals. That means it’s up to you to stay on top of things and adjust the necessary settings when, for example, Facebook revises its privacy policy.

And remember that the more you share about yourself online, the more ammunition you’re giving potential identity thieves. That doesn’t mean you should shut down all your social networking profiles because someday somebody might hack into your Facebook account. It does mean that you should be careful about what details you share, where you share them, and with whom.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Five Nice Features of Windows 7

Windows Vista never quite caught on the way that Microsoft had hoped. The User Account Control (UAC) feature, which was supposed to enhance security by prompting users before allowing many programs to open, instead proved such an annoyance that users simply shut it off – leaving them more vulnerable than when they started. The “simplified” User Interface (UI), with its ribbons and tabs, mystified die-hard devotees of the old drop-down menu system. And the System Tray’s myriad of unused applets that acted, as one reviewer put it, “like belligerent squatters,” only added to the frustration (

The Windows 7 OS, in contrast, has had a much more favorable public reception. Here are a few key changes that have reviewers cheering:

1. Faster feel -  Users find that applications in Windows 7 open more quickly, and they don’t spend as much time waiting for processes to complete.

2. Libraries - It’s much easier to find documents in Windows 7. The new Libraries function in Windows Explorer lets you create a virtual location that can aggregate content from several locations at once. You can put network folders, SharePoint documents, and regular folders in your Documents Library, giving you quick access even to documents that are tucked away under several organizational layers.

3. Easy switching between Wi-Fi networks - Just click on the Wi-Fi adapter in your system tray to bring up a menu of available wireless networks, select the one you want to connect to, and you’re done.

4. User Account Control (UAC) without annoyances - You can now tweak UAC so that it’s actually helpful. Instead of just an on/off, where your choice is to be forever pestered by repetitive prompts or leave yourself open to the perils of the Internet, you can adjust the level of security you want. Two intermediate levels now exist between the “Always notify” and “Never notify” settings.

5. A simpler System Tray - The big problem with the System Tray in Vista was that software installers could just dump applets in there without your approval. This led to cluttered System Trays and flurries of word balloons every time you accidentally moused over the area. In Windows 7, applets (except for the clock) don’t go directly into the System Tray; they land in a holding pen and have to be dragged to the System Tray. And they can’t float word balloons unless you permit them.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Alert: Quickbooks Scam

We have had a report of an email scam that has been circulating, asking users to download an Intuit certificate that will verify your identity. This email has the Intuit logo/trademark attached and at first glance seems to be legitimate.

This is NOT legitimate.

If you click on the download link provided in the body of the email, it will take you to a webpage where you are prompted to download the “certificate”. This is actually a virus that will install on your system and cause a chain of infections that will render the machine useless.

Please advise all QuickBooks users NOT to download this so called certificate, and have them report any suspicious emails/alerts they may receive.

If you have any questions or concerns please call us at 212-923-CMIT

Below is a portion of the actual scam email:

Valued Customer. 

In order to access Intuit after 1 of March 2010, you shall get a valid Digital Certificate installed on your PC.

Creating and installing your Intuit digital certificate it is a quick and automated process.

Knowing with whom you are communicating, it is a basic principle to the security on internet operations. only encrypt is not enough, as it provides no proof of the identity of the sender of the encrypted information. Without special safeguards, you risk being impersonated online. Digital certificates provide an electronic means for Intuit to verify your identity. Used in conjunction with encryption, digital certificates provide a more complete security solution, assuring the identity of all parties involved in a transaction.

The Intuit server has its own digital certificate to assure you that you are actually calling with Intuit and not with an swindler.

To generate your own Digital Certificate, you need to download Digital Certificate generation tool. For security reasons, download is available only once. Please download Digital Certificate generation tool direct to your Microsoft Windows PC. It is important to note that: Your Intuit digital certificate is not valid after of one year. You will be prompted to enter an automatic renewal process 30 days prior to certificate expiration.

System requirements :
  • Mozilla FireFox 2.0 and above
  • Internet Explorer 6.x, 7.x, 8.x
  • Windows XP, Vista, 2000, 2003, Seven
ATTENTION: You will not be able to use our service without update from 1 of March 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Emerge Stronger with Microsoft Business Intelligence Webinar - Jan 26

Join rdq, Inc. for part four of the four-part Emerge Stronger series on how the total Microsoft Business Intelligence solution can enable you to maximize your technology during the economic downturn. This presentation builds on the overview in the first webcast by providing a detailed look into how you can strengthen your customer base while also finding new sources of revenue.

Click to Attend

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Internet Explorer vulnerability exploited in attacks on U.S. firms

New IE hole exploited in attacks on U.S. firms | InSecurity Complex - CNET News

A vulnerability in all popular versions of Internet Explorer running on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 is being exploited by a targeted attack, originating in China. The attack appears to be in response to the possibility of Google pulling out of China because of Internet censorship. This vulnerability will allow the attacker to take over the computer if the user is duped into clicking on a link in a web page, email or instant messenger chat.

Microsoft is working on a fix which they hope will be ready by next Tuesday.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A World Class Franchisee

Franchise Research Institute ranks CMIT Solutions a World Class Franchise

YouTube - CMIT Solutions

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Email Archiving 101

In the past few years, we've seen tremendous advances that allow people to communicate more effectively -- from smartphones to collaborative workspaces to content management systems, it's easier than ever for people to record and share ideas. And yet still, if you ask someone what communication technology is absolutely essential to their business, chances are they'll say email.

Email not only serves as many companies' preferred communication tool, but also as an informal repository of institutional knowledge. And that in turn makes it vital not only to the regular flow of business, but also as a component in the legal discovery process.

Email serves as evidence in many business-related legal proceedings nowadays and can be subject to subpoena just like paper files. If your business ended up in a legal dispute, would you be able to easily access and search several years' worth of archives in order to produce evidence requested by a lawyer or judge?

That's the idea behind email archiving -- making sure that all the content contained in email communications is readily accessible and searchable. You don't need to be involved in a lawsuit to recognize what a benefit that can be. An email archive can help you track down years-old communications and documents. It can also help you start operating again, quickly, in the event of a disaster.

CMIT Solutions is holding a webinar on email archiving -- what it is, why it's important, and how it works -- Friday, January 22, at noon Central Time. Learn how your business can structure its email services so that you can locate, recover, and ensure continuous access to email from anywhere. Go to to sign up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Google Caffeine and What’s New in Page Ranking | NY Report

Google Caffeine and What’s New in Page Ranking | NY Report:

Google Caffeine and What’s New in Page Ranking

Google will be introducing its new search engine named Google Caffeine. It is going to be more like double espresso if they have things working the way it is intended. More than just an updated engine, Caffeine is really a spanking new search engine with all new formulas and calculations and factors that affect your site. In other words...

Read More here

Newest IRS Phishing Emails

  Stay Alert to the Newest Tax-Related Email Scams

Phishers and Internet scammers are always coming up with innovative new ways to separate victims from their money. One of their favorite tactics is to prey on victims' fears about taxes by posing as the IRS. It's natural to worry if you get an email from somebody purporting to be the IRS, particularly in the month of January when you're probably receiving a lot of legitimate communications from your employer and the IRS about filing. Here are a couple of tax scams that at first glance might seem official.

Don't be fooled!

The "underreported income" threat. This scam features an email accusing the recipient of having underreported their income. The sender attaches what they say is a copy of their relevant page of their tax return. The "attachment" is actually an executable file that downloads a malicious file to the user's machine.

The "Making Work Pay" scam. This phishing email uses the Making Work Pay provision of last year's stimulus package to entice people into giving up their personal information. The email asks the recipient to go to a website and fill out a form so that the IRS can deposit money into their bank account. In reality, the Making Work Pay provision does not directly provide funds to taxpayers; instead, it gives wage earners a tax credit in the form of reduced withholding. This is nothing but an attempt by identity thieves to get your personal information.

The "refund" scam. This oldie but goodie promises the recipient a quick and easy tax refund if they provide their personal information and details about their financial institution. Instead of getting a tax refund, the victim risks serious damage to their credit by identity thieves.

Note that all of these scams arrive by email. Many of them will direct the victim to a web page or form that looks official and credible. Don't fall for it! The IRS never discusses official tax matters over the Internet - they use the good old-fashioned US Postal Service if they want to reach you. If you get an email that purports to be from the IRS, do not open any attachments or click on any links. Forward it to, then delete the email from your inbox. And if you have any doubt about an email's legitimacy, you can always send it on to us at to get our expert opinion.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

5 New Year's Resolutions

Five Easy Steps for a Safer, Happier Year in Technology

Get a good start on 2010 by embracing a few simple principles that can do wonders for your safety and productivity:
Run your backups - Everybody says they’ll back up their machines, but how many of us actually do it? And even if your workplace is running automated backups, you should still get in the habit of backing up your own work to an external hard drive or to the corporate server. That way you won’t have to bother your IT guy if you’ve been working for several days on an important project that suddenly vanishes from your machine.

Update your virus definitions - This is another task that people promise to do periodically, rarely actually get to, and are generally safe anyway because the service runs automatically. However, if you have your antivirus software set to update and scan during the day, it can slow your machine down to the point where you’re constantly suspending or cancelling the update just so that you can get some work done. That leaves you vulnerable to new virus attacks. So to be on the safe side, make sure your antivirus software updates regularly at night or during hours when you’re usually not working.

Clean your keyboard - Have you ever dismantled your keyboard and seen what’s floating around in there? Enough said.

Empty your temporary files - Temporary files are backup versions of open files created automatically by many programs. In the event that the program unexpectedly crashes or quits before a user has a chance to save their most recent changes, the temporary file will offer the most up-to-date version of the file. They’re handy for that reason, but over time, temp files can take up a lot of space on your hard disk. Look for the Temporary Files folder on your hard drive. Verify that you don’t need any of the files, and simply move them from the recycle bin.

Change your passwords - Even the most foolproof, uncrackable passwords should be rotated out once in a while. Just make sure you remember the new ones!

Identity Theft: CMIT Solutions Offers Advice During National Awareness Campaign | Press Releases @ Your Story

Identity Theft: CMIT Solutions Offers Advice During National Awareness Campaign | Press Releases @ Your Story

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Identity theft is a serious issue, no matter who the victim is, but the situation can be more complicated when somebody tries to impersonate someone’s business, says Jeff Connally, president and CEO of CMIT Solutions. That is why CMIT Solutions is offering tips and advice to small business owners for Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month this month."

Read More