Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cloud for Small Business - Hot or Not? Redux (UPDATE 2/24/14)

Google Apps. Microsoft Office 365. What are they and why do we care?

Interesting questions. What does every modern office need? A productivity suite to create and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations. A messaging system, for sending email and enabling chat. A calendaring system, to facilitate time management and shared scheduling. A collaboration system, to corral projects, tasks, data and team members.

The classic solutions consists of the Microsoft Office productivity suite, Exchange Server for email and calendaring, and Sharepoint Server for collaboration. Why would we consider anything else?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"Badges? We don't need no steenking badges!"

All too often I've encountered a certain type of person in an enterprise, business or personal setting who questions the need for a secure network environment. Actually the word "questions" is too weak; this type of person actively opposes network security measures. And very often they're in a decision-making position for their organization. One otherwise intelligent manager that I once worked with recommended that we discontinue our enterprise antivirus and disconnect our firewalls.

What reasons are given for their opposition? "Security is too inconvenient." "We don't have anything a hacker would want." "Security is a waste of money." "I use (a Mac / Linux / Microsoft Security Essentials) and I'm not vulnerable." Despite all evidence to the contrary, such persons throw up obstacles to even the most basic of security measures. How does one deal with such deliberate, even prideful, ignorance?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ever what?

Many of my friends know that I recommend Evernote unequivocally. Evernote is my personal repository for all kinds of information, accessible from just about anywhere. Evernote runs on Windows & Mac, iOS & Android, and even as a web application (Windows Phone, PalmOS, BlackBerry, Windows 8 Touch, Safari, Chrome and Firefox too!). Regardless of the platform(s) on which you run Evernote, it keeps your personal information synchronized between all your devices and PCs.

Evernote is incredibly useful, but many first-time users have difficulty understanding what it can do for them and how to use it effectively. Lifehacker has published a great article that walks you through several uses that illustrate what it does and how to do it. Here's another article here that you may also enjoy.

What do I use it for? Keeping track of my web accounts, interactions with customer service reps, all the places I stash my money, scanned contracts and other important documents, project pictures, drawings & documents, tips & how-tos, manuals for my appliances and many, many other bits and pieces of information that I don't want to lose. It's fully searchable, quick & convenient to use and very portable. Try out a free account for yourself, install it on your portable devices and then see what you can do with it.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Plug those holes: web browser plug-ins

Courtesy of How-To Geek, here's a great article about browser plug-ins and how to disable them. You're probably already familiar with Windows and OS X start-up programs and the havoc they can wreak. Browser plug-ins and Internet Explorer's "add-ons" and "browser helper objects" ("BHOs") can be another source of vulnerability and frustration, just like the Java plug-in we've talked about in the last few weeks.

Plug-ins are supposed to add functionality and features to your online web experience. But often, because of poor programming or unforeseen interactions, they can break your browsing experience or worse, expose your PC to attack. How-To Geek has two more articles you might find helpful if you want to tune-up your web browser.

If you'd like an automated tool to help keep your Windows PC clean, try Malware Bytes (free version here). Keep it up-to-date and run it weekly as a complement to your current anti-virus solution. If you'd like a tool that gives you a bit more control over the details, try CCleaner. One caution, CCleaner is an advanced tool for Windows and OS X, so please be careful. I wouldn't want you to cut yourself  Smiley

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Java security problems, again

For the third time in a month, Oracle has issued a new Java security patch. If you use Java, you need to download and then install the new version. Once you've done that you should without fail disable Java in your web browser.

With that out of the way, my primary recommendation is still to remove Java from your systems unless you absolutely need it to run a critical application. For more background on Java security problems, please read my blog post from just a few days ago.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Break any eggs lately?

This is absolutely hilarious. PHB actually seems effective, but don't be fooled.


Dilbert 02-Mar-2013

Curious about Google Search?

Google has published a great article about the plumbing that makes their search engine work. It's pretty simple and straightforward; I'm sure that you'll enjoy it.

If you want to sharpen your Google search skills, take these free online lessons. If you'd just like a quick reference for search operators, you'll find a few good ones here, here and here.

And if you value your search privacy (you should!), use DuckDuckGo as a front-end to your Google searches.

Have fun!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dark clouds on the horizon?

To punctuate my previous two posts on cloud solutions, CIO Magazine offers up this observation:

Unfortunately, too often cloud applications and services are bought by people who really shouldn't be buying. Sure, they may have the budget ... but that doesn't mean they necessarily have the training to make good IT decisions, let alone the discipline or skills in their underlings to actually execute a coordinated technology strategy.

That's a juicy point. But I'm not trying to sensationalize the issue - cloud solutions are a necessary part of an overall IT strategy. The article goes on to make another important point:

Friday, February 22, 2013

Java - What, me worry?

There's an interesting article today on THE VERGE. Joshua Kopstein poses the question "Why won't Java just go away?" That leads to our question: "What is Java, and do I need to worry about it?"

Java is present on many PCs - Windows, Mac and Linux. It's a both a programming language and an application platform. It enables programmers to write software one time and then run it on any computer that supports Java. It also plugs in to most modern web browsers so that users can run a variety of web applications. But after reading today's article you might be wondering if you really need Java on your computer.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cloud for Small Business - Hot nor Not?

Last week I offered Rodney Roger's perspective on the place of cloud computing in the enterprise. His premise, with which I completely agree, is that current "enterprise" cloud offerings lack the breadth and depth of on-premise systems. To paraphrase him, Salesforce and Workday are not ERP. He's absolutely right. He also points to emerging cloud solutions that do fit well in the enterprise (Box and ZOHO). By the way, if you enjoyed his article, here's another.

But what about the SMB market? SMB is a broad category, and the smaller end of it has needs that are much different than the larger end of it. Do cloud services make sense?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cloud: sexy - Enterprise: not so much

I read this article several weeks ago. I've pondered it. I've read it over again. Here's a quote:

If you unnaturally extend or generalize cloud solutions to me, or if you pontificate cloud idealisms without providing tangible platforms that can service what I am, then you waste my time. When you waste my time, I discard you.

Please don’t misdiagnose this as me being slow to adopt your solutions.

The Simple IT blog has moved!

Good evening everyone. As part of an overall effort to streamline my professional infrastructure, I've moved this blog to a new home on Blogger. All my previous posts have been relocated; unfortunately your comments were not :-(

Wordpress has been great. It offers a whole lot in terms of features and capability. But that's not why I moved the Simple IT blog.

You can still find the original Wordpress blog at sagejohn.wordpress.com if you're feeling nostalgic. But I'm not sure how long I'll leave it there.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty in space:

Hello Kitty Astronaut

7th-grader's science fair project. Successful launch, ascent, descent and recovery. Watch the video here.

Read the story here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Interlude

Hosteria Del Mar

The view from the beach in Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Everyone needs to get away now and then.

Actually we were in PR for our son's wedding. We had a great time, enjoyed meeting new friends and seeing family. We had some wonderful meals too. The ceremony and reception went off without a hitch and the newlyweds jetted off for a honeymoon in Cancun.

But now we're back home. There's work to be done.

:-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Opportunities

Here I am, two weeks into the new year. I thought I'd have more time to write, but I've been busier than I thought. So what am I doing with myself? Well, there are always opportunities.

One thing I really miss is consulting. New places, new faces, new problems to solve. I've made some phone calls, met some people, had a few interviews. Can I land a job as a consultant, or shall I strike off on my own as I did almost twenty years ago?