iPhone X Brings Man to Tears

Standard

A little iPhone humor for your Wednesday morning, albeit at Apple‘s expense.

A good friend of mine from the UK shared this today and I could not resist sharing it here on my blog.

No doubt many will have strong feelings about the new iPhone X and iPhone 8‘s announced yesterday.  What are your thoughts?  Please let me know, I’d love to hear them.

I’m gathering data for a more complete post about the new iPhone’s which I hope to post over the next couple of days, so stay tuned.

Warning: The linked article contains some profanity, so please don’t click through if this may offend you.

Here’s the link to the article.  For the record, like the subject in this article, I also have a year old iPhone 7.   WowEmoji

disgusting_iphone

September is National Preparedness Month

Standard

National Preparedness Month 2017 Logo [JPG]One the heels of yesterday’s post about hurricane preparedness, I wanted to also share the following timely information and resources.

Every year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) together with the Department of Homeland Security declared September National Preparedness Month.  This years theme is “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”

From the Ready.gov website, National Preparedness Month is defined as follows:

“We should all take action to prepare! We are all able to help first responders in our community by training how to respond during an emergency and what to do when disaster strikes — where we live, work, and visit. The goal of NPM is to increase the overall number of individuals, families, and communities that engage in preparedness actions at home, work, business, school, and place of worship.”

Each week has a plan and this weeks plan is “Make a Plan for Yourself, Family and Friends.”

Here is a brief, 60 second, video on the topic:

Use the following links to download the latest versions of these helpful planning guides:

For Inidividuals:

Family Communication Plan for Parents and Kids-Ready Kids

Emergency Supply List

“Prepare for Emergencies Now: Information to Get Ready”

“Prepare For Emergencies Now: Information For Pet Owners”

“Prepare For Emergencies Now: Information For Older Americans”

“Prepare For Emergencies Now: Information For People With Disabilities.”

“Commuter Emergency Plan”

For Businesses:

“Prepare For Emergencies Now; Information for Businesses”

Ready Business Poster

Business Continuity Plan

Business Impact Analysis Worksheet

Continuity Resource Worksheet

Emergency Response Plan

Emergency Response Plan Resources

Insurance Discussion Coverage Form

Program Coordinator Committee Worksheet

Risk Assessment Table

Be sure to check back next week for next weeks National Preparedness Month theme.

 

 

 

Be Prepared for Hurricane Season

Standard

bridge-hurricane-121029On the heels of Hurricane Harvey and the impending landfall of the powerful Category 5 Hurricane Irma, it appears we are in for a very active hurricane season.  Is your business prepared should a hurricane strike your location?  What about your family?  It’s important to plan now, before a hurricane is imminent.  As Irma is showing us, the path may be unpredictable and the warning time may not be as long we would like, to properly prepare.

I heard Harvey referred to as a once in a thousand year storm.  Some reports are saying Irma could be even more devastating, making that once in thousand look more like twice in three weeks.  Our weather patterns continue to change and unfortunately, are seeming to become more dangerous.

I have gathered several resources for your reference, to help you be as prepared as possible, should you find yourself in the path of hurricane this season.  While these resources are all focused on hurricane’s, they also lay out prudent steps to take, regardless the threat.  Hurricane’s, windstorms, blizzards, tornado’s…potential damaging weather events goes one.  Take time now to make your plan and be prepared.

  • The first resource comes from my friend and colleague Chuck Poole of PalmTech Computer Solutions in West Palm Beach, FL.  Chuck and his team are potentially right in Irma’s path.  Chuck has published a very informative checklist for his clients, which you may review here.
  • The Ready.gov website of the Department of Homeland Security has a great hurricane resource page at this link.  On the right hand side, you will also find links to all manner of additional threat resources you may need to consider being prepared for.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) together with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains a hurricane preparedness site here.  This site has several links that will take you to valuable information and resources.
  • The American Red Cross publishes an excellent Hurricane Safety Checklist that is primarily geared to families, but is useful for organizations as well.  You may download the checklist from the linked title.
  • Finally, FEMA also runs a program called America’s PrepareAthon! which is a community based campaign to raise awareness and help individuals and organizations be prepared.  This program has published a playbook titled Prepare Your Organization for a Hurricane, which you may download from the linked title.

It’s still too early to know for certain if Irma will hit the United States, though all indications are that it will.  The resources above are all excellent and I recommend you review them all and develop your plan, regardless of Irma’s final path.

As I’m sure you suspect, I have a personal plan in place that absolutely includes safeguarding my digital assets and critical equipment, as well as my family and home, to the extent it is possible to safeguard a home.  Onepath, the company I work for, also maintains robust plans for all manner of situations and assists our clients doing the same.  If your business needs help developing a robust plan, don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about how Onepath can help you prepare, maintain and recover, should you be impacted.

As my mother always said, “Better to have a plan and not need it than need a plan and not have it.”

 

Technology Lessons from Hurricane Harvey

Standard

The following was published in today’s Foster’s and Seacoast Sunday.

The devastation to Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey is truly heartbreaking. The news reports continue to tell a story that is unfolding moment by moment. I have colleagues, family and friends in harm’s way and I am so grateful to know that they are all safe.

My cousin, Jonathan Siger is a rabbi in the Houston area and a chaplain to the local sheriff’s department. Watching his videos from the rescue boats and hearing the scene’s he has been on, brings a very different perspective to what we see and hear on the news. I hope by the time this article is published on Sunday Texas and Louisiana will have emerged from the storm and that things will be improving. They will need a lot of patience and support as they work to rebuild their communities.

The outpouring of support and inflow of donations is showing the best of what this nation can muster. I’ve seen so many initiatives, even within my own IT industry. CompTIA, the global IT trade association, has launched an initiative encouraging all of its corporate and individual members to make a donation to hurricane relief and CompTIA will match $2 for every $1 donated up to $200,000. You can participate by going to http://bit.ly/CompTIACares and entering CompTIA as the company to match.

HarveyOpsLeading up the arrival of Hurricane Harvey, technology companies across Texas were issuing recommendations to safeguard the digital assets of an organization. Cloud computing has played a major part in ensuring business continuity throughout the storm. This was mainly accomplished through having company data safely backed up to the Cloud. However, as more and more companies move applications and in some cases, entire infrastructures to the Cloud, these businesses are able to maintain complete operational effectiveness through something as catastrophic as a hurricane.

This does not mean there were not challenges. Certainly, the widespread loss of power and the heavy flooding impacted people’s ability to work. The cellular networks were stretched to their breaking point, but held in most cases. I have been in touch with colleagues in the greater Houston area and they have all made it through thus far. Most have suffered water in their homes and needed to evacuate. Fortunately, of the people I have been able to contact or get updates on, their businesses have not experienced any catastrophic losses of data.

The key to being able to bring your business through an event like this is planning. The last thing you want to do is figure out a plan while the storm is bearing down on you. As I already mentioned, backing up your data to the Cloud is a must. When you can leverage the Cloud to actually run your business applications and even your critical infrastructure, you are that much better prepared. Be sure your most critical infrastructure components are attached to Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS), which will provide backup power should the power go out and most importantly, properly shut those infrastructure items down should the battery run low. All other computing devices should be connected to surge suppressors. Many people do not realize the restoration of power can be as much of a threat as the loss of power. I have seen situations where building and individual pieces of equipment have caught fire when power was restored after a sudden power loss. UPS and proper surge suppression will protect against this in almost all cases.

Obviously, if you are facing the risk of flooding, you want to secure as many of your electronics away from likely locations susceptible to flooding. This isn’t always possible, but sometimes even just moving computers away from window areas can make a big difference.

Even though I am focusing on technology, don’t forget about your low-tech assets too. If you are maintaining paper files of any value, be sure you have a plan for them. While I would recommend you scan all important documents and store them electronically, I know nearly all businesses still keep some of their critical data in paper form. Be sure you have a plan to secure those files before a storm hits. Consider watertight storage containers, even if just to see them through the storm.

While you may have your data and your critical applications covered, don’t forget that you need to think about how your team will function if they are not able to get to the office and also, if they have to leave their homes. In some cases, it just won’t be possible to work for several days. I experienced that this week, with one of my clients who has an office in Houston. They were able to get back in to their office and all of the preparation steps we recommended, including shutting everything down, paid off. We were able to help them remotely bring everything back online and they are fully functional.

Throughout the storm, they maintained communication with their entire team, so staff knew when it was safe to return to the office and get back to work. Hopefully, you have a plan like this for your business. If you don’t, put one together now.

Congrats to Team Onepath! – Inc. 5000

Standard

inc5000_num_2594We learned this morning that Onepath has been named to the Inc. 5000 list for the 9th time!  Talk about awesome!  While I’m new to the team, I already feel like I’ve been part of the team forever and feel a great sense of pride in this distinction.  It’s pretty cool to be able to say that you work for a company that’s on the Inc. 5000!

You can read our news release on the Onepath website here.

Congrats to the entire Onepath team!  The next time will be even more meaningful for me, as I will have been part of the team for far more than the four months it’s been since Onepath acquired us.  Excited times for sure.

At Onepath, we bring more horsepower, more commitment and a more complete game plan to our clients and partners.  We help design, deploy, support and maintain our clients technology from cable to Cloud.  It’s all about showing our clients the easier way to get hard things done.

Here’s to our bright future and our next listing on the Inc. 5000!

P.S. Don’t forget to follow Onepath on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Good Business Partners are Critical for Success

Standard

It should come as no secret that the information technology business is a complex landscape.  From ever evolving technological innovation and change to the critical shortage of a qualified and diverse workforce, this business has many challenges, just as most do.

One strategic advantage that has proven successful over the years is picking the right business partners and working so closely with them that the lines between the two organizations are at times, almost non-existent.

I’ve spent the past week in several strategic meetings, talking with various business partners about taking our collective businesses to new heights of success.  It’s been exciting and energizing and I’m looking forward to building even closer relationships that bring clear benefit to our clients.

One such example of this is our partnership with Barracuda Networks and their Intronis MSP Solutions business unit.  The video below is a great testament to a wonderful partnership that directly benefits our clients.  Pete Peterson, our VP of Sales, Zach Leffler, one of our Account Executives, Allison Mascolo, my team lead for Client Engagement and Nick Thomas, one of our Technical Account Managers do a great job explaining why good business partners like Barracuda/Intronis are key to our success.

You’ll also get a great view of our Onepath New England office 🙂  Enjoy.

Are You Taking Advantage of Office 365

Standard

The following was published in the August 20, 2017 editions of Seacoast Sunday and Foster’s.

Most small and mid-size businesses have or are moving to Office 365 for various reasons. Mostly, this is to deliver more reliable email, but Microsoft continues to bundle more software and features into the subscriptions, yet most people think it’s just email.

Microsoft offers a range of subscriptions from as low as $5 per month per user to $35 per month per user.

Office 365The most basic business subscription, Office 365 Business Essentials, offers a complete online experience for email and collaboration. If you already own Microsoft Office software for your computer, you can connect your desktop software to some of the services included in this subscription. What you get for $5 a month is impressive. A 50-gigabyte email box and web versions of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, allow you to work with and create files using the popular Office applications in your web browser. You also receive 1 terabyte of storage in OneDrive, Microsoft’s online file storage and sharing service. You also get SharePoint Online, a web-based collaboration platform you can use to create a private Intranet site for your business.

You also have a subscription to Skype for Business, which may be used for internal and external instant messaging and hosting online meetings. You even have access to team-based services like Microsoft Planner and Yammer, which allow you to manage team tasks and cross departmental collaboration. All this comes with 24/7 phone and online support.

This subscription level is valid for companies with up to 300 users.

The Office 365 Enterprise E5 subscription includes everything in the basic level, plus the following. The most noticeable addition is the inclusion of the Microsoft Office software for up to five devices per person. This includes PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets. You get the latest versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Access. The available OneDrive storage is unlimited at this level. Skype adds Skype Meeting Broadcast, which allows you to host online meetings for up to 10,000 participants. Email gains advanced eDiscovery with search, legal hold, export and analytics.

Also added are retention and deletion policies for email and advanced threat detection. Advanced Security Management provides insight into potential threats to your data, including data leakage. Another major benefit of this subscription is Skype calling via a Cloud PBX, which allows you to use Skype to replace your existing phone system. You have the option to use Microsoft for your local, long distance and international calling or use your existing services with Skype.

Finally, there is Microsoft Power BI, a robust analytics tool that allows the average user to create meaningful dashboards to track metrics that matter for them. There is no limit to the number of users. For $35 a month per user, this is absolutely the best value. Most businesses will pay significantly more to come up with this powerful a set of benefits through any other means.

There are several subscription options between these two that offer more and more features on top of the basics. If one subscription doesn’t offer quite enough and another too much, I’m sure there is a subscription between that will be right for your business. Challenge your company to take full advantage of Office 365, whichever subscription you may have. Chances are you are not.

One final item: You will notice I have a new title and company name this week. In late May, Internet & Telephone, LLC was acquired by Onepath. This past week, we completed our rebranding and are now known as Onepath and I have a new role that provides me with increased opportunities to work directly with our clients. We have the same local New England-based team with our New England base of operations in North Andover, Massachusetts, and our offices and data centers in Boston and Portsmouth. We add our corporate headquarters and other offices in the Southeast. It’s an exciting time for our clients and our dedicated team of technology professionals.

MJ Shoer is director, client engagement and vCIO at Onepath, with offices in New England and the Southeast. Onepath is the one source for all things to do with designing, deploying and supporting technology – from cable to Cloud. He maintains a blog about IT at www.mjshoer.com and may be reached at mshoer@1path.com.