Bob here.  Let’s start this show by setting the stage.  Come October 22nd, Microsoft is releasing its latest version of Windows, named Windows 7.  Can you say “Buh-bye, Vista?”  But not everybody is racing to embrace the new product.  Let’s break down the responses by pigeon holing people into stereotypes.  C’mon, it’s fun, it’s easy, and it doesn’t create carbon emissions!


Ø  IT folks:  “Wow, Windows 7 looks really cool!  I really hope they don’t install it throughout the company where I work!”


Ø  Business Owners:  “Wow, Windows 7 looks really cool!  I really hope they don’t install it throughout the company where I work!”


Ø  Home Users:  “Wow, Windows 7 looks really cool!  I really hope they don’t force me to buy it if I buy a new computer!”


Ø  MS Partners:  “Wow, Windows 7 looks really cool!  I’m not going to try to sell it to my customers!”


Ø  Hardware Manufacturers:  “Wow, Windows 7 looks really cool!  Can I still sell systems with XP installed?”


Ø  Microsoft:  “Wow, Windows 7 looks really cool!  Where is everybody?  Hello?  Hello??”


Ø  Apple:  “I’m a Mac.  I’m a PC.  We’ve still got it, baby!”


It’s kinda interesting, kinda sad.  After a disappointing 4th quarter of Windows sales (down 29%, according to Redmond Magazine), the folks in Redmond are really hoping that this product is going to help get sluggish hardware and software sales going again.


Here’s the most interesting part.


It’s actually pretty good.


Overwhelmingly folks are impressed with it.  It’s faster, more robust and more solid than poor li’l Vista.  And it handles running older XP applications much more elegantly than Vista did as well.


Blah-blah-blahhh.


Where’s my killer app?  Where’s the application that runs only on Windows 7 (or poorly on everything else!)?  Where’s the thing that when I see it, I want it?  That’s what the industry needs right now.


But unfortunately for Microsoft, most of the killer stuff is actually coming out away from the desktop.  The Social Engineering Tools (Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn) are all up in the cloud.  A lot of iPhone apps are cool, but they’re only on…um…iPhones.  Google, and yes, even Microsoft are busy concocting new applications that are hosted up on the cloud.


Which leaves us with Windows 7.  And no Killer App.


Somewhere out in the distance, Clippy is laughing through his tears.


Hey, gang!   Some Additional Notes:


Summertime means Picnic, BBQ and networking, here at Simplex-IT.  Join us on Wednesday, August 19th from 4-8pm at our office (5225 Darrow Rd).  Free food, networking, and a chance to ask the Simplex-IT guys and gals whatever you’d like about technology, including Windows 7, virtualization, Business Continuity or just stuff.  RSVP please (so we’ve got enough burgers and brats) by contacting Julie Dvornicky at JulieD@Simplex-IT.com or 234.380.1277.


Also, do you want to take Windows 7 for a spin?  DeVore Technologies joins Bob Coppedge and the Simplex-IT gang with 4 opportunities in August to get some free hands on experience with Windows 7, with Bob guiding the way.  If you’re interested (and seating is limited), contact Julie Dvornicky at JulieD@Simplex-IT.com or 234.380.1277.


 

Our most recent series of Lunchinars focused on business continuity and backup recovery.  Although it all seems like a big project to undertake, truly, the offerings of today allow you to easily protect your data and guarantee that things will continue to run as they should or be recoverable should disaster strike.


Even given the latest and greatest technological advances, it is amazing to see how little companies do to make sure that they can recover in the event of something debilitating. 


1,425 small and midsized businesses world-wide were recently surveyed regarding their IT security readiness and protection.  Here are the (somewhat concerning) results:


59% had no endpoint protection


47% had no desktop backup/recovery


42% had no dedicated IT staff


42% had no anti-spam solutions


35% had reported lost or stolen data devices


38% had no server backup/recovery


33% had no anti-virus protection


32% had security breaches due to out-of-date tools


25% had deliberate sabotage by employees

Ok, so I’m stretching a bit.  But just a bit.  Microsoft announced today that Office 2010 will have an online version that will be free (which means, of course, ads galore).  Word, Excel and PowerPoint will all be available, sometime mid-next year.

 

Of course, you’ll still be able to purchase a full function version for your desktop.  But now you’ll have some options.

 

This will be especially useful for those workstations that only need occassional access to these programs (speaking of Access…no word about the online availability of that package).

 

For more information, click here.

Having a solid backup system in house is absolutely imperative to business continuity.  From a sales perspective, there are many options out there and many vendors who provide them.  Simplex-IT has tested various vendors’ products and believes we have partnered with the best grouping of technology resources that is currently available.


Many companies prefer the tried and true way of physical (disk) back-up. Having the hardware and software onsite and being able to take the disk to a remote location offers a comfort zone that many of our clients utilize.  And, we are now able to offer both purchase and lease plans for this backup solution, making implementation more affordable and less of a capital expenditure.


One of the newest ways of backing up data is via the internet, or cloud storage.  This offers an effective solution that can be purchased via a monthly payment plan and is charged per device.  A few things you might want to consider when selecting an off-site data backup provider would be:


                How strong is the data encryption?   How easy is it for one to gain access to it?


                What is the response time for information restoration?


                Can the provider guarantee security at the backup site?


Your cloud storage provider should encrypt the data in such a way that only designated administrators can retrieve it.  The back-up site should be guarded and protected from every ‘direction’ and be timely in their return of information should disaster strike.


If your company hasn’t implemented any measures towards backup yet, be certain that you are looking at it from a ‘when we do’ perspective rather than an ‘if we do’.  Once your information is breached, there are a lot more cost factors and time involved in fixing a bad situation versus protecting against it in the first place.  And, it is a good idea to have a backup…for your backup.


Don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of any help as you gear towards business continuity by implementing a solid back up plan.

Bob here…


If you’ve been keeping up with your Buzzword Bingo card, the term “Disaster Recovery” isn’t as hot as it used to be.  Don’t worry, though, because “Business Continuity” has become the latest thing.  And, truth be told, there’s a reason behind it (for once).


Both terms deal with an organization’s ability to deal with a “Disaster Event.”  Something that happens, causing significant stress on your organization, threatening its ability to keep working.  “Disaster Events” come in all sizes.  From a tech pouring his soda into your mission critical server to “Wow, that asteroid’s coming close!”


For purposes of this article, we’re going to a> talk about the technical aspects of DR/BC, and b> leave the Asteroid scenarios to the Bruce Willis’ (and, to be fair, Robert Duvall’s) of the world.


 “Recovery” implies that something traumatic has occurred.  “Disaster” implies…well, that’s what we’re recovering from, right?  So the term Disaster Recovery essentially surrenders to the negative impact of an event, and focuses on what we’re going to do now that the disaster’s over.


 “Continuity” implies continuing, with minimal interruption.  So…


Disaster Recovery talks about what we’re going to do once the Disaster Event has happened.


Business Continuity talks about keeping the business functioning throughout the Disaster Event.


Ok, so why the change?


Well, for the SMB’s (Small to Medium Businesses) around, Disaster Recovery plans were usually pricy, hard to justify, and harder to maintain.  Yeah, we’ll back up our data and systems.  Ok, we’ll also keep a copy of our system backups off site.  And so on.


Recovery, however, can be time-consuming.  In our soda-sharing scenario, there’s damaged hardware.  So we have to wait for it to be fixed and/or replaced.  Most older backup software requires similar hardware for you to recover your data back on to.  So your server (or entire organization) could be down for days, waiting for the hardware that’s gone bad to be fixed.


Thankfully there’s new technology, where we can talk in terms of Continuity instead of Recovery.  Now:


Ø  For about the same price as an old tape backup strategy, you can have a virtual server, waiting to take the place of your soggy server.  In many cases, in less than one hour.  And with a minimal loss of data (as little as 15 minutes worth).


Ø  Worried about the data getting off site?  Cloud-based backups (where the data is automatically stored off-site) is cheaper than you think.


Ø  Failover servers are relatively simple to implement.  Server A gets the soda, Server B takes over automatically.


There are many other examples of these types of solutions.  They’re reasonable from a price standpoint, and perhaps more importantly, they don’t interfere with your business!


If you’re interested in learning more, Simplex-IT will be discussing some of these technologies at our monthly free Lunchinar, which will be on Wednesday, July 15th, at our office in Hudson.  It’s not a sales pitch, but a chance for SMB folks to learn more about IT issues facing them.  Contact Julie Dvornicky at JulieD@Simplex-IT.com for more information (seating is limited!) 

Bob here…and thanks to Eric Ligman of Microsoft for pointing this out on his blog.  It’s pretty cool, all things considered.


If you’re going to upgrade your browser to Internet Explorer 8, here’s a way you can do some good at the same time.  In Eric’s own words:


“It is simple, really. For every completed download of Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft’s Browser for the Better campaign (running today through Aug. 8, 2009*) will donate the financial equivalent of eight meals to Feeding America’s network of 206 local food banks, which supplies food to more than 25 million Americans each year. The ways you can help are:



  1. Head out to the “Browser for the Better” campaign site and download Internet Explorer 8.

  2. Spread the word about the “Browser for the Better” campaign to your peers and those you know through your word of mouth, blogs, newsgroups, newsletters, etc. After all, the more people who participate, the more of an impact we can have on helping feed needy people through this campaign.

Pretty straightforward, and pretty cool.                       

Bob here…I was asked by one of our Partners who was reading our latest lunchinar invite (it’s this Wednesday, by the way…only 4 openings, so contact Julie if you’re interested in learning about Backups).  The question asked was:


 


I understand the knowledge transfer, trusted advisor and so forth but what are some of the things you do to prevent this meeting from turning into a sales pitch?


 


Now, understand what we’re talking about.  Every month, we sponsor a free lunch at our world-wide international headquarters.  We serve Pizza, pop, cookies…nothing special.  And we do a relatively quick presentation on a topic that we think is important to folks in the Small-Medium Business world.  But it’s not a sales pitch.  And it’s not even necessarily something that we sell/service.  But we do think it’s important.


 


My first thought?  “This is so going to be a blog article”


 


First of all, it’s a trust thing.  A percentage of people who will attend (we’ve got 6 RSVP’s for Wednesday so far.  I know 1 out of 6) know me and know that I don’t blow sunshine in places where sunshine doesn’t belong.


 


Second is that I’m going to be careful and discuss topics that are outside of our scope, and point them out.  In other words “Ok, this is something you don’t need any consultant partner for…”.  The challenge is that there has to be a balance, and it needs to look natural.


 


Third is that I’m not going to draw attention to the topics that are within our scope.  In my humble opinion, it’s more important for folks to walk away thinking of us as the content experts, not as the guys who want to sell you something.  We also try to identify who among the attendees do we want to either talk to individually or follow up with.  My Marketing/Sales person attends, and it’s her responsibility to be “hostess” (cuz I sure ain’t polite<g>) and also to keep an eye out for who we really want to impress.  That said, we really do want to give everyone a great experience.  But some folks are the ones we want to focus on.


 


Finally, we keep it light-hearted.  We want people to be relaxed, not feel intimidated or that they’re being “talked to.”  We ask people up front what they’re looking to get out of it, and try to address their issues, whether they be advantageous for us or not.


 


My goal with these lunchinars are four-fold:


1>     Establish Simplex-IT as content Experts;


2>     Establish Simplex-IT as approachable with your technology issues;


3>     Establish Simplex-IT as an organization that you enjoy having a relationship with;


4>     Establish Simplex-IT as a good corporate citizen.


 


I remember a salesman at the company where I was CIO (a Sunroom Manufacturer/distributor with 45+ locations).  One of the most laid back, laziest (and successful) guys I knew.  One of his “tricks” was to run a “How to construct your own sunroom” evening seminar through local Adult Education classes.  “I’d give them the information, absolutely straight, no sales pitch.  All the complexities, some shortcuts, some ideas.  By the time I was done,” he said “half of the attendees didn’t want to go through the hassle.  And since they already had a connection with me, half of my sales process was done!”  That’s stuck with me for some time.


 


Thoughts?  Drop me a line!

Bob here.  If you’re like me, you’re probably a rather strange individual.  But more importantly (for this entry, anyway), you’ve been a bit curious about when Windows 7, Microsoft’s answer to “I’m a PC, and living a Vista marketing nightmare” will end.


Well, we wait no longer.  For the release date, anyway.  Now the waiting for the real thing begins.  Microsoft announced this week that Windows 7 will release on October 22nd.


Yup, so those pesky trick-or-treat kids in your neighborhood can get a new OS instead of a candy bar.  It’s better for them (we hope), after all.


Of course, Microsoft would really, really like to get it out in time for the holidays.  So would just about every hardware manufacturer on the planet (well, maybe except Apple).


And, of course, the fun secret is…it’s still Vista.  A heck of a comb over, of course.  Here’s a great blog article that goes over many of the new features (as well as some nagging issues).


We’ve been looking at it here at Simplex-IT.  So far, so good.  How good?  We’re planning on having that as a topic of our upcoming Lunchinar (probably August or September).  Email Bob if you’re interested in hearing more.

Can we talk?  Can we Tweet?  Can we Link?  Can we email?  Can we text?  Can we chat?  Can we IM?


Tell you what.  I’ll blog, you RSS.  Then I’ll read your web page.  Then we’ll connect on LiveMeeting.  Or we can start a Webex session.  The file is on my SharePoint site.  Or is it on my Wiki?  Anyway, there’s a training video on YouTube.  We could always set up a GoToMeeting.  Then we’ll Groove.


Did you get my eNewsletter?  It talks about the Webinar going on later.  Remember, you can always watch it on your iPhone.  Or your Android?  I can’t remember.  Your Blackberry has the details, which I sent you from my Windows Mobile Phone.


Confusing?  Yup.  Are you expecting me to now say “it doesn’t have to be,” or “let me explain it all to you” or some other comforting piece of nice-nice talk?


Sorry, not today.  The problem is that companies are introducing new products, services, delivery methods at a frightening pace.  And many of them work in a quasi-cooperative way, so you can almost…almost…work them seamlessly.


Our (Simplex-IT’s) monthly free Lunchinar in May featured an overview of the popular LinkedIn site.  We had over 25 people attending, all looking for ways to use this tool.


And here’s the key.  All we’re trying to do is connect (under the curiously named banner of “Social Networking”).  Period.  Why we’re connecting, what level of connection, the number of connections, and the implicit or explicit value of the connection can change dramatically with the tool.  But we’re almost panicking at our need to connect.  Part of it’s the economy, to be sure.  But part of it is also this fear of being “Left Out.”


Dan Hanson (www.GreatlakesGeek.com), a quasi-friend and blogger, recently interviewed Matt Dickman (http://technomarketer.typepad.com/), who I’ve never heard of before.  One of the comments Matt makes is that if you can’t/won’t commit to 2 hours each day for Social Media, don’t even bother.


Oy.  1/12th of my life?  Seriously?  Sorry, but I don’t think so.


The goal of Social Networking is…entirely up to you.  My number one recommendation (and I’m not even close to a professional on this) is to answer these questions:


“What is the goal of using Social Networking?”  (ie, get a job, customer, establish expertise)


“Who is your audience?” (local, national, worldwide?  Strangers, customers, friends?)


“How do you want to be perceived to people who see you exclusively on this medium?”


And tailor everything you do in this medium based on your answers.


Let me know how it turns out, ok?  Email me at Bob@Simplex-IT.com.  Don’t forget Twitter (twitter.com/Simplex_IT), my web site at www.Simplex-IT.com or my blog at www.Simplex-IT.com/BizBlog.  Or you could check me out on LinkedIn (Bob Coppedge).


Heck, just give me a call.  That’s what they did in the old days, right?


 

The scrambled eggs, introduced as they were at the last minute to a modicum of cheese, glared at me with their traditional yellow stare.  The sausage links, daring me to guess their animal of origin, framed the eggs, protecting the wheat toast nearby.  “Too organized,” I thought to myself.  But right before I used my fork to apply a level of destruction to the plate not seen since…well, since the last time I ate…my attention was interrupted by a squeaky voice nearby.


“OHMYGOSH…I just accidentally deleted the Power Point file…and we meet with the client in 15 minutes!”  I used my peripheral vision to glance to my left.  There, looking at a laptop with a palpable fear was a middle-aged business-type guy.  He was frightfully glaring at the laptop on the table sitting next to his food, noticeably untouched.  From the look on his face, he hadn’t trusted a computer since he found out back in 2000 that the “I Love You” title of the email supposedly from his boss was actually misleading.


“No problem.  Gimme your laptop.”  Hearing that voice brought back a flood of memories.  My mom telling me not to touch the hot stove for the fifth time.  My first grade teacher reminding me that the tongue, winter, metal pipe combination is funny only in movies.  My wife telling me…oh, where to begin?  “Shadow Copy will make backups of all your files several times a day, and you just right click on the folder to recover.  It’s built into Windows Vista.  It’s easy to use and configure.”  She sat across from Squeaky-Voiced-Guy (or SVG, as I now considered him).  Four mouse clicks, and she handed the laptop back to SVG.  She had the look of kindly patience on her face.  She’d dealt with this guy before.  “It’s back.  It even works if you make changes to a document that you didn’t mean to.”


SVG’s look took on one of personal injury.  “I never make…”  But his Guardian Angel wasn’t taking any tweets from that twitter.  “Ah, remember how last December after the holiday party you did a global search and replace on the Corporate Power Points and replaced all the photos with pictures of…”


“Alright, alright…”   SVG waved his hands in the air.  If was a futile effort of his, trying to deflect the arrows of his Guardian Angel.  Every one of her points hit home.  But SVG didn’t care.  He had his Power Point file back.


She knew her stuff.  Whether it be a desktop or server, you can give yourself (or your users) virtual Do Overs.  Your laptop, desktop or server could keep track of all the changes or deletions you make, giving you a way to recover if you accidentally change or delete a file.  And it’s free, and pretty easy to set up.  A nice walkthrough for setting it up on Vista is at http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/howdoi/?p=145.