Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cheesy Holiday Poetry, IT Style

Twas the night of the deadline
The systems were choking
I had twelve programs open
My computer was smoking
Emails wouldn’t send
Excel wouldn’t add
My desktop had blue-screened
Someone stole my iPad
From down the hall “Just reboot it”
Someone shouted aloud
But there’s no server here
We had moved to the cloud
But then on my screen
The cursor did fly
A Log Me In session
It was the IT guy
He wiped out the virus
And patched Windows 7
Upgraded my iTunes
While Jobs smiled down from heaven
And I heard him tweet loudly
As he ended our call
“Whether Mac or PC
Happy Holidays to All”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tax Rule Offers Nice Savings on Hardware and Software

Congress has extended IRS Section 179 to cover the 2011 tax year. That means that qualifying business equipment purchases (including most computer hardware and software) can be deducted at full cost on your 2011 business taxes, instead of being amortized over several years. From section179.org:

“The Section 179 Deduction limit increased to $500,000. The total amount of equipment that can be purchased increased to $2 million. This includes most new and used capital equipment, and also includes certain software.”

Translation: Now is a great time to purchase hardware and software! You effectively receive a discount equivalent to your tax bracket on the purchase.

For example, if you were to purchase $100,000 of IT equipment by December 31st and were in the 35% tax bracket, you could write off $35,000. That’s the price of a new car! The equipment’s net cost to you is $65,000.

If your plans for 2012 include any hardware or software purchases or upgrades, do it now! The Section 179 provision is scheduled to expire at the end of 2011.

Disclaimer: We are neither accountants nor tax lawyers. This should in no way be construed as tax advice. Talk to your CPA or visit www.irs.gov for details.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Kind of Monster is Lurking Under Your Desk

Ever rush home with your latest greatest coolest new thingy for your home entetainment system, then spend the better part of an afternoon working through that tangled maze of cables and wires trying to figure out how it ever got this way? Wouldn’t it have been better if everything had been neatly organized and labeled? Read More

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are your online accounts secure? 5 tips for making sure

If you are working with a good managed service provider, then you should already be in good shape, or at least on the path, to having proper security for your business network. But there is one aspect of security that only you can do for yourself: strong passwords for your network and internet accounts...read more

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dropbox breaks their security for 4 hours

Be careful in the cloud. For 4 hours yesterday, a bug in Dropbox's code allowed any user account to be accessed with any password. Read more

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Six Tips for Securing Your iPad and Everything On It

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that just because the iPad isn’t a typical computer, it isn’t a security risk. The iPad, and it’s Android and Blackberry kin, are all very much computers. They store both your private and business information. They store your emails messages, server information, passwords, contact lists, browser history, cookies, and so on...Read More

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When Technology Doesn't Help Customer Service

I'm sitting on a slow and ocassionally not moving NYC subway right now. Every few minutes, there is a friendly automated announcement informing me "we are being delayed because of train traffic ahead." That's all well and good and it's somewhat better than the previous situation of no information at all.

But what is it really telling me? What I mean is, am I getting any useful information that will help me on the rest of this trip?

What I really want to know is how far up the line does the traffic extend and should I consider transferring at an upcoming station to a line that's moving better. It wouldn't be difficult to implement since all the trains are already monitored. Simply calculate the delay and update the announcement to include that information.

But the MTA hasn't done that (at least not yet). They installed new technology but didn't actually provide any additional value.

Don't fall into that trap with your technology. There are always new and exciting things out there. But just installing a new system doesn't necessarily give you an advatage. What has to be done with that new system to improve you business, sales, revenue, customer experience, etc.

The iPad is cool. But it can be more than just the slickest way to check your email. What should you do with it to drive sales? Same for Facebook. And Windows 7.

Don't take the easy way out and then wonder why you spent all that time and money. Take the next step and use technology to drive your business.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Amazon Cloud Down for 12 Hours. What's the Lesson for a Small Business Owner

I love Amazon EC2. I love the concept. I love the technology. And I love the service it offers. Many, many, many companies that we're all familiar with and probably use frequently would never be if it wasn't for EC2.

Foursquare, Hootsuite, Quora, Reddit and many others all reply on EC2 for part or even all of their back end technology.

So when EC2 when down yesterday, everyone of these sites went down with it. Embarrassing, yes. Bad for business, yes. A pain in the butt, absolutely. But everyone one of these companies will survive and do fine, even though they were down for most of not all of the day. They'll do fine because they have pockets deep enough to absorb the loss. They'll do fine because they hire big PR firms to run damage control. They'll do fine because they've got millions of customers who use their services daily.

But what about your business? Where would you be if you were down for an entire day? No orders. No client service. Perhaps no email flowing. How easy would it be for your company to absorb a loss like that.

I'm not saying don't move to the Cloud. Cloud based technologies offer huge advantages to small businesses. But when you do make the move, do it smart. Get yourself a trusted advisor, one who knows 1) the Cloud, 2) your industry and 3) your company.

Get into the Cloud properly. Manage your risk, prepare contingencies, and use it to grow your business.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Internet Explorer 9 Officially Released

Was Internet Explorer 6 so much of a turn off for you that you've dropped IE never to return? Well you may want to reconsider. IE9 is here and from what we see so far, it's worth a look. Check out LifeHacker's screenshot tour at http://lifehacker.com/#!5638885/internet-explorer-screenshot-tour-the-best-new-features-in-ie9

Saturday, January 29, 2011

False IRS Threat Email

A email appearing to come from the IRS is making the rounds. The email is a scam and clicking on the link will subject your computer to infection.

If you receive an email like the one below, be safe and ignore it


From: "Internal Revenue Service" update@irs.gov.us
Date: January 21, 2011
Subject: Important W-2 form update

We would like to inform you that as of the 21st of January you are late in updating your W-2 form submission with the new updated version. Please send us your completed W-2 update form by 2/1/2011. For the updated version of the W-2 form please click on the link below


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Make the most of Outlook

Make the most of your Outlook!

Did you know Outlook 2010 can be used to keep track of your customer sales pipeline and marketing campaigns? Learn how to turn your Outlook into a sales tracking tool to increase your sales and effective manage your customer thanks to a new CRM option. And you'll be the first to get an EXCLUSIVE Sneak Peek at it BEFORE it launches globally!

Date: January 19th
Time: 8-10am
Location: Microsoft Office, NYC
  • Umang Vasa, Microsoft
  • Melanie Gass, CenterPoint Solution
30-min of networking is included, so be sure to bring business cards!

Sponsored by: Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Smallbiztechnology.com, Microsoft

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tech Things I'm Thankful For

As 2010 wound down, a snowstorm blanketing the Northeast gave me a few extra quiet days to reflect and plan for 2011 (it also gave me an extra day on the slopes but that's a post for a different blog).  Some of that reflection brought me to thinking about what "tech things" I was most thankful for in 2010. Here's my list. Add your own thoughts below.

My Droid 2 - I made the switch from 5+ years of various Blackberries to a brand spankin' new Droid 2. Emails, calendar and contacts are still great and thanks to ActiveSync, they're seamlessly sync'ed to my mail server, Entourage and Outlook. I'm a heavy user of DropBox (www.dropbox.com) and Evernote (www.evernote.com), which have always been great on my Mac and are now great on my Droid too. Google Maps and Navigation have saved me from getting lost and also from getting stuck in traffic. The interface is so intuitive by 2 year old figured out how to scroll through photo and paint pictures in the Dora Coloring Book app without any help from me. Voice Commands work pretty well and have no doubt made me a safer driver. And, oh yeah, I've got Flash on there too (Steve Jobs, you're going to have to give on that one day soon).

Smart Tech Support People - specifically, my engineers at CMIT. I used to be the smart tech guy. I'm still somewhat smart and somewhat of a tech guy. But I'm the last person you'd want standing up your new Windows Server 2008 box. Technology is so integrated into our lives now. It's more complicated than ever yet we need it to be as simple and painless as possible. Smart Tech People are the ones who make that happen.

Facebook - I know this isn't a new 2010 thing. But what did happen in 2010 is my family and friends discovered Facebook. I don't care what cereal you had for breakfast. I'm not crazy about some of those 20+ year old pictures of me that have surfaced. But I do like knowing what my family, friends and their kids, all of whom have scattered around the globe, are up to. I like knowing that my 17 year old cousin in California got his drivers license. I like seeing pictures of my college friend's newborn baby. And I like that I can find all of this out on my own time (usually at 10 pm, on my couch, while trying to not watch annoying reality TV shows).

Evernote - You won't know how useful Evernote is until you start using it. Every note, every bit of information, every detail of every active project, every fact that needs to get filed away in case you need it one day. PDFs, Word docs, Excel, pictures, mp3, free form text, you name it. Handwriting recognition, easy searchable, available to me on my laptop, Droid, any web browser, sharable if I want it to be and most importantly, easy to get the information in to and out of.

Kindle - I'm reading again. And I'm reading for pleasure. I read 12 books in 2010. That may not seem like much but it's more than I read in the last few years combined. I read trashy sci-fi, business books and my friend Jeff' Berg'ss novel Miller's Tales (shameless plug...buy it here). I haven't compared it to a Sony Reader or Nook and what I love about it is probably just a relevant on those devices as well.

What tech things are you thankful for? Let me know.