Contact Us Today!

Why businesses should consider IT Outsourcing

Information Technology is the backbone of business today. We consult with hundreds of businesses every year on IT and find that there are two scenarios that drive the need to bring in outside help to manage IT infrastructure:

Businesses that have internal IT support - In this scenario it is typical that the inhouse IT resource(s) are at capacity and need additional help to properly maintain the IT environment.

Lightning, Thunder, Power Outages…Oh My!


thunder2Summer storms always remind me that this is a good time to reflect on whether your home or office has effective power protection in place – against surges, sags , blinks and outages.

In a home environment, all of your important electronics should be connected through a surge protector (not a power tap!). In addition, phone lines, cable TV, and wired internet connections should also go through a surge protector. This is to protect the rest of your downstream devices from a possible surge over these lines. For the most important devices – computers, network hardware, security systems, backup drives, game consoles or other devices that could be damaged by power fluctuations, I recommend protecting them with a small uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This allows you an opportunity to gracefully power down devices instead of allowing the power outage to do it for you. (if you are at home)

In a business environment, UPS protection is even more critical, and complex. Battery backup is essential for critical devices like servers, NAS devices, tape drives, switches, routers, firewalls — all mission critical equipment should be connected to a backup battery, NOT just a surge protector. Devices that need to run 24×7 can experience data corruption if the power is cut off unexpectedly. Having a UPS to protect the devices is critical in preventing outages from short term power loss (15 min or less), blinks, or brownouts where the power level may not be sufficient or stable.

While not critical, smaller UPS units are recommended for protection of desktop PCs that run key business functions such as security software, credit card processing, financial applications or other systems where downtime due to hardware damage from a power surge could cause financial loss or prevent critical business processes from running.

For more information on UPS devices and related technologies see these resources:

http://www.apc.com

http://www.tripplite.com

Let Your Phone Take a Cue from a Cat Scanner

QRCodeBeringerAnyone remember the CueCat circa 1999 – a hand-held barcode reader that would scan codes in printed materials and would open a URL on your computer, that provided more information on the related item? Digital Convergence had a novel, and possibly prognostic, method for providing a reader with more or updated details about a something in printed materials. More details can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat  

This was a neato idea, but was sadly limited by the requirement to be at your computer (tethered by PS/2 or USB connection), while scanning the barcode. Also, there were concerns raised about possible invasion of privacy if the device collected user data.

The CueCat failed, but now we have even better technology that achieves, and exponentially leapfrogs, the intended purpose of that cute little device – Code Scanner apps that run on your cell phone!

You can find the codes nearly everywhere – in magazines and newspapers – taking the reader to nutritional information on a product, or coupons. At the recent Philadelphia Comic Con the schedule of Celebrity QA sessions of Photo Ops could be zapped from the info kiosk to your phone. Read the shipping code on packages you receive, if the sender’s label is illegible or ripped off. Wander in the produce section and scan a fruit or veggie for more info before you buy. Printed codes on T-shirts or other accessories – maybe a link to the wearer’s web site or social media page?

AT&T includes a code scanner app on their phones. Droid users can search on Google Play for “code scanner” and you will find many scan apps – some generic for several types of codes, and others specific to one retailer (Target, Walgreen’s, Weight Watchers) IPhone/Pad users also have similar options through the App Store.

Though not perfected yet – some of the mobile info sites are not well-formatted for reading on a cell phone screen – you can now use your phone like a basic sort of “tri-corder” to collect data from your surrounding environment.

If you want to generate your own code, there are sites and software available to do this: http://qrcode.kaywa.com  is one example. (Donate if you use your code for real!)

More info on QR codes can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code

Keep Your GAOTD Past its Expiration Date!

giveaway-of-the-day

Every wish you could reinstall your Giveaway of The Day applications again, after “the day” you downloaded them? Thanks to a GAOTD Setup Keeper, you can.

If you’re not already on the daily email list, go to http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/ and sign up for the daily email. The daily giveaway will be one of a huge variety of useful software items that you may not have ever heard about. These are applications from publishers who offer a free installation of their product, but each is only downloadable for a single day.

GAOTD Setup Keeper allows the user to install the program of the day when downloaded, and then a special configuration is saved on your computer so you can install the program again later on.

You can download GAOTD Setup Keeper here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/gaotdsetupkeep/ Follow the installation instructions carefully, especially related to the “missing” DLL files that you may need to install.

Once you install GAOTD Setup Keeper, you use its connection with the Giveaway of the Day site, to get the day’s giveaway, and then use it to complete the installation process. The setup configures the special registry entry that allows you to reinstall the application at a later time.

The lesson here — it IS ok, and possible, to keep things past the expiration date!

Save your Bacon with a Cracker – Recover Your Local Password!

lost-passwordHave you ever found yourself with a computer where the network login fails (and you already tried with cached credentials, disconnected from the network) and you REALLY need to get into the local administrator profile to fix something…you know how it happens… an employee left the company, was let go, or built the PC and simply forgot the local admin password?

One of my favorite bacon-saving utilities is the Offline Password & Registry Editor (some call it a password cracker) written by Peter Nordahl.

The source web site is: http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/ and there you will find the download, plus all of the details on what the program can do and how to use it. It works on almost all Windows versions – NT3.51 to Vista/Win7 32/64bit and 2008 server.

In a nutshell, you create a bootable media (CD/DVD or USB thumb drive) to boot the PC, watch some really Linux-y text scroll by, and then gain access to change any of the local account passwords (admin or others). It also has capabilities for editing the registry – for more advanced users.

Note that this only works for local passwords, NOT credentials in Active Directory, including the AD Restore password. (write it down next time!)

Sure, you could just rebuild the computer, or pull out the hard drive and pull the data to another device…but if you want to directly access the administrator’s profile or other local data, this a nice little utility that will take just a little work to get you in and get the admin password changed.