Author Archives: Bob Daugherty

Tis the Season – Holiday wishes and email scams

Dec 13, 18
Bob Daugherty
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It’s the holidays again and along with the holiday wishes come a big bag of email scams.  Hers is a link to a good article from the Better Business Bureau about types of holiday scams.

Article by the BBB Article on Holiday Scams

Take a few minutes to review this article.  Be careful of email links. 

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season.

The Importance of Networking from a Self-Proclaimed Introvert

Nov 02, 16
Bob Daugherty
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Like most of us I get a lot of email with a lot of junk.  But occasionally there’s very interesting and sometimes insightful information buried in the mix.  I recently read an article by Erin Cheever, Project Manager at Boomer Consulting about the importance of networking.  Erin, like many IT professionals is a self-proclaimed introvert.

Sometimes networking and company events are stressful to those of us who aren’t naturally extroverted.  I particularly liked Erin comments about networking not being about sales.

Networking is Not About Selling

What is networking not? Selling. A large part of my realization about the benefits of networking was getting past the fact that it is not selling and it is not all about business. My background is not in the accounting profession, so I was often intimidated about talking to accounting professionals about those topics or ideas. But by looking at the conversation as a way to create a relationship and get to know an individual on a personal basis it became easier and more natural. I took selling out of the conversation, and it took the pressure away.

Making those contacts and building those relationships will benefit your career greatly.  It’s like presentation skills, (another great benefit to your career) it gets easier the more you do it.

Erin’s take on networking should put you a bit at ease.  You can read Erin’s full article at http://boomer.site-ym.com/blogpost/1330975/259385/The-Importance-of-Networking-from-a-Self-Proclaimed-Introvert and you can read her bio at http://www.boomer.com/?page=ErinCheever

Conference, User Groups and Networking Opportunities – why they are so important to your career.

Jun 30, 16
Bob Daugherty
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Blogger: Bob Daugherty,  IT Director at DMLO

I’m fortunate at my firm that they understand the importance of networking and learning from others in your field. CPA and most service firms understand this is beneficial for accountants, lawyers, architects and other professionals.  Not every firm understands how important network and learning is for IT professionals.

I recently returned from the AICPA Practitioners and Tech Conference. Great conference! If you’re an IT professional at a CPA firm, this is the conference to attend.  Tons of great information both on technology issues and running a CPA firm.  I spent my time on the IT track and met some really interesting people and learned some cool and helpful new stuff.

It’s just not possible these days for IT professionals to learn everything they need from manuals, web sites, self-learning tools and of course trial and error. Talking to my peers and other IT professionals has helped me tremendously over the years.  I go to every conference and/or event with one or more questions to I ask everyone I meet.  This conference it was about using the Surface Pro 4 as a laptop replacements. I was surprised by how many are making this work successfully.  Time to test it myself.  Watch for future posts about how this is going.

Attending conferences, user group meeting such as the ITMA gives me the opportunity to bounce ideas for projects off people who have already done them.   The owners of my firm are always asking about what other firms are doing.  At these events and meetings I hear about what other firms are doing, what worked and what didn’t, and sometimes I get answers to problems I haven’t figured out, or even didn’t know I was going to have.  Makes my job easier and saves me a lot of wasted time and frustration.

Plus, it’s nice to have people around who know what your struggles and frustrations are all about. And it’s fun to swap stories about end users and partners.  The only downside is that sometimes you wind up with an action list as long as your arm.  23 action items and counting from the conference I just got back from.  Next post – how to handle a task list that is out of control.

Why you need 5 email accounts, my personal views on email.

May 25, 16
Bob Daugherty
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Blogger: Bob Daugherty,  IT Director at DMLO

We all have an email address.  I have a few, five actually.  As an IT professional I’m always preaching about email clutter, junk, spam and protecting our end users.  For the most part I practice what I preach, but even the best effort gets your email account hacked.  Recently my personal email account was hacked.

Fortunately, it was only one of my five email accounts.  Why do I have five email account?  Crazy you say, maybe, but here’s what I think.  I use free emails accounts from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.  Don’t use the email account that comes with your internet provider for anything.  If you change providers, you may lose or worse you may have to pay to keep that account.  Now that’s crazy.

First you have your work account.  Only use this for true business communications that you would let your boss read.  If it’s a work email it belongs to the company. They can legally read every email, and they just might.  As IT professional we need to make sure our end users understand this and suggest they have at least one personal email address if not more than one.

You need a catch all account.  This was the account that got hacked and frankly I’m surprised it took this long.  I’ve had this account for years and I use it for every web subscription, survey or form that wants an email address and everyone wants one.  I know they are going to sell my email.address.  That can’t be helped these days. And I’m OK with that because that email can be easily dumped and replaced.

If you every buy anything online, you need a separate shopping account.  Again, I use a free one.  You will get some junk since they might sell you email address, but it’s nice to have your order confirmation, invoices and shipment tracking emails all in one place.   And you can “unsubscribe” from some of the junk.  Read their privacy statements about sharing your info and be careful of those checkboxes at the bottom of any on-line agreements.  You may be saying yes to more than you think.

Don’t use your shopping email account with any online banking or credit card accounts. Get a separate financial email for those sites. Never give this one out to anyone, including those in the next group.

Your friends and family email account is the hardest one to replace.  But only because it’s the one you’re probably the most emotionally attached to.  If you have family members and friends that email you pictures, holiday ecards and other stuff you just can’t part with or easily replace it’s going to be hard to give up this account.  Be stingy with this email account.  Tell your family and friends never to share it.  if you get junk in this accounts it’s probably because your friends and family only have one email account.  Send them this post.

That’s my 5 email accounts! It may seem excessive, but mobile devices can easily handle multiple accounts so it’s easy to keep up with them.   I actually have a hobby email account as well but that’s a different story.

If an account gets hacked or it seems like every junk mailer in the world has it, abandon it. Create a new one, stop sending from the old one and move anything you need over and forget it.  Eventually it will go away, well probably not, but it was free and now it’s full of junk anyway.

Microsoft or Linux. Pay or Free. Closed architecture or open source.

May 12, 16
Bob Daugherty
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Guest Blogger: Tucker Oldham, Business Development Manager / Technology Consultant at NDS (www.ndsit.net)

These are the traditional arguments IT personnel have wrestled with for years.   For the majority of businesses, the answer has always been Microsoft.   Although the ability to reduce cost has been intriguing, the thought of putting mission critical data on an operating system with poor or no support is simply not realistic for most IT directors of a small to medium business.

Still, in the corner of the data center there is the IP phone system that runs on a hardened version of Linux.   95% of the server environment is virtualized and runs on VMware using Linux.   The firewall has a proprietary version of Linux running IPS/IDS.

“If some of the best technologies in my datacenter already run on a version of it, why can’t I take better advantage?”   It is the question most IT directors ask as they spin up another Microsoft server and apply untold numbers of patches and wonder what on earth they are getting for their licensing, CAL and assurance fees.

When you consider looking at implementing open source solutions, I’d recommend using the following check list.

  • It’s not a rip and replace scenario. When considering an open source platform, don’t think of it as a forklift upgrade of your OS.   There is a reason Microsoft is the operating system leader in the server world.   Active Directory is an excellent solution for maintaining controls of your users and your environment. Many of your applications may not even be able to run on a Linux platform.
  • Think stability and security. There are reasons your firewall, phone system, and hypervisor is running on Linux.   Some of the biggest are stability and security.   Taking advantage of the open source community, Linux tends to be more stable, have less vulnerabilities, and patches come faster when vulnerabilities are discovered. At a minimum, when considering a new application, ask the vendor if they have a Linux version. If they do, chances are the security and stability of the application will be improved.
  1. The cloud changes everything.   In November 2015, Microsoft announced support for Red Hat Linux on its Azure Cloud platform.   It followed that announcement with an announcement in the spring of 2016 that SQL would be supported on Linux.   Red Hat and Linux enthusiasts will tell stories that this is because Microsoft is finally admitting an open source platform is secure and stable. The reality is Microsoft understands that the future is not at the OS layer because you won’t be hosting the OS.   The OS will be simply a part of the cloud service you purchase mitigating its importance. The reality is the days of a single OS are numbered.   The future has a mixture of both.
  • Think about the solution not the operating system. Apple recently moved from VMware to Red Hat’s virtualization platform reducing the costs of hypervisor licensing.   Casio Computer’s implemented Red Hat’s storage solution to reduce the cost of its backup solution. E*Trade used Red Hat’s JBoss middleware to develop its high volume trading solution.   Each of these enterprise companies did not start the process with “I want to look at Linux to reduce costs.” Each started with the idea of “what’s the right solution for the problem I’m having.”
  • Stop thinking it’s free. Even if the costs may be less, it’s not going to be worth it if the solution doesn’t work.  The popular misconception is open source = free.   To implement correctly in a business environment, the correct approach is using a Linux vendor, like Red Hat. These vendors supply you a tested and hardened version of Linux. They supply technical support, updates and upgrades on a regular basis.   They also provide your application vendors an operating system that can be certified for their software.

Because these solutions are subscription vs. license and maintenance based, they are often times cheaper.   This doesn’t necessarily mean the overall solution is guaranteed to be cheaper.    The savings your enterprise gains on the middleware side may be better utilized on the hardware side when implementing the solution. After all, it’s all about giving your enterprise and end users an even better experience through a faster more stable solution.    Every IT Director knows the solution never just stops on the software side of things.   Don’t get caught up in the idea that just because the software, middleware or operating system was less expensive that you can cut corners on the hardware its running on.

 

Tucker Oldham,  toldham@ndsit.net

How to tell if you’re infected with malware.

May 12, 16
Bob Daugherty
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Blogger: Bob Daugherty,  IT Director at DMLO

Convincing end users that they need to be doing regular virus/malware scan can be like telling yourself you need to eat more vegetables.  You know you should, but if you don’t listen to your own advice, how can you expect them to listen?

The problem is understanding the issue; how good vegetable are for you and how important regular scans are. Like you, I get lots of email articles on every topic related to IT.  I just got one from Malwarebytes that does a pretty good job explaining the symptoms of being infected.  It might just help your end users understand this problem better.  And maybe they will do more scans.

https://blog.malwarebytes.org/101/2016/05/how-to-tell-if-youre-infected-with-malware/?utm_source=double-opt-%20in&utm_medium=email-internal-b2c&utm_campaign=EM-May-1st-2016newsletter&utm_content=infect-with-malware

If you’re not familiar with Malwarebytes, you probably should be. They have a free product that does a pretty good job of cleaning things up that your regular anti-virus application might miss.  It’s a handy tool to have in your utility belt.

Backup at home like you do at the office.

May 12, 16
Bob Daugherty

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Blogger:  Bob Daugherty,  IT Director at DMLO

This post is kind of in line with my last one about using the same great enterprise tools at home (Manage your home computer protection the same way you manage it at the office).

For those of us, and I’m assuming this is most of us, that are using virtual servers and possibly virtual desktops you’re probably familiar with Veeam. It’s a great backup solution for your virtual network and if you haven’t looked at it, you might want to.

The problem with backup at the office has always been the workstations. Do you, don’t you, should you, could you…. You get the idea.   But we also have the same problem with the home computers we manage.  It’s a real pain to back them up regularly and there’s so many options and tools.

Now there’s one more and it might be the solution for both. Veeam Endpoint Backup Free.  Yes its free and its Windows 10 compatible.  If you’re a Veeam user you will really like this product, I’ve been testing for a couple weeks now on my home and office laptop and it seems to do everything it says it can.  The install is simple you get the same options you get with Veeam.  I haven’t tested multiple USB drives as my destination yet but that’s next.  It doesn’t give you a centralized management for multiple machines (you need to go to the paid version for that).  But you can backup multiple machines to the save storage location.

One of the things I like best about Veeam is the file level restore and the option to restore or copy to which is great when you don’t want to overwrite the original file. Veeam EndPoint Backup Free has this.  Full system recovery is also easy but you will need to create the bootable media that’s part of the initial setup to get to the Veeam tools.  The recovery media also contains some Windows recovery and repair tools which is nice to have.  If you’re worried about keeping track of your recovery media you do have the option of creating them as iso files.  Add some shared storage and you should be ready to go.  However, I haven’t figured out how to use one of my many free cloud storage account as of yet.  Easily backup all your home computers to the cloud and make it free.  Wouldn’t that be great?  I’m working on it.

So whether you want to backup your home computers or a few workstations at the office this may be the right tool. Check out the info on their web site.  https://www.veeam.com/endpoint-backup-free.html

March 16th meeting

Mar 17, 16
Bob Daugherty

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Blogger:  Bob Daugherty, IT Director DMLO

The topics were Skype for Business, One Drive for Business and new video conferencing.  Daniel Gray from Dean Dorton has just implemented new video tools in several of his conference room.  He has promised a preview to the group in the near future.  Melanie Bunger from Stratapoint says her firm uses Skype for Business for all their phone calls, IM and even screen sharing.  James Osborne with OTC has a client who is using the 1 TB storage with One Drive as a replacement for a server drive.

The rest of the meeting was a discussion of the upcoming Techcon 2016.  We are in full swing and it looks like it’s shaping up to be a great event.  Be sure to mark your calendars for August 17, 2016.  Look for more info soon.