Actually, I’m passing this announcement on.  I first heard about it from Jim Evan’s monthly GCPCUG email:

“Getting Rid of Old Paper Documents & Computer Disks


 


If you’ve got sensitive documents you’re not sure how to dispose of, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2th, the Cleveland Better Business Bureau will offer free shredding at RadAir at 6221 SOM Center Road in Solon.


 


People can bring up to three boxes or bags of documents and computer disks for shredding. People are asked to remove documents from binders but can leave in staples and paper clips.”


 

Bob here.  Interested in starting your IT career or moving it forward? The first of possibly three events aimed at developing/maintaining your IT career has been scheduled for Wednesday, 6 May at the Hudson Public Library. Check out the LinkedIn Event for more information. http://events.linkedin.com/Care-Feeding-or-starting-Career/pub/61066. Again, this is not a fishing expedition for business. It’s a free, informative event aimed at helping all of us make the most of our careers. Please register if you plan on attending, or email me at Bob@Simplex-IT.com.&nbsp

Julie here….Just wanted to give you the latest and greatest update on our Lunchinars.  The third Wednesday of every month, we welcome folks to join us for pizza and a topic du jour.  We learn…we converse…we have fun!  Our lunches are definitely growing in popularity!  One attendee remarked to me “I’m amazed at just how interested I am!”


March’s Lunchinar focused on ‘The Constant Contact Way of Email Marketing’.  To a full house, we reviewed marketing in general, and ways to manage in an economy where companies are constantly trying to do more with less.


Constant Contact is an email marketing tool that has proven to be a valuable approach for Simplex-IT.  With just a hint of creativity, it allows us to instantly and effectively reach out to over 500 people with the click of the ‘send’ button.  It is a very cost conducive and extremely user-friendly venue and also includes a reporting feature that allows your company to track (among other things), who opens the newsletter, who forwards it on to others and who clicks on further links provided within your information.  Thus, you can customize the write-ups in your eNewsletter to appeal to the things in which your customers or potential customers seem to have interest.


You can view our eNewsletters via the link on the home page of our website.  Not on the list to receive ours?  Send me an email and I’ll add you!  You will enjoy the content…and be privy to upcoming Lunchinar topics.


Oh – and in case you are interested in subscribing to Constant Contact and the ability to create such marketing pieces for your own company, let me know!  We will both benefit from the referral via their incentive program.  They will give you a credit towards your online marketing campaign…just for signing up!


Happy spring!  Happy eNewsletter-ing!

Hi!  Julie here.  Another month is gone and we here at Simplex-IT continue to bring people together to talk about IT topics.  On February 18th, we hosted our second monthly Lunchinar.  This time, the focus was on IT security, and the information really proved to be an eye-opener to everyone in attendance. 


Things in computer-land aren’t as secure as they might seem to be and Bob (Bob@Simplex-IT.com) provided a great overview and explanation.   We discussed authentication versus authorization, certificates and encryption, even social engineering and how it comes into play.  Once the scare tactics were done, we then discussed different methods that all of us can adopt to protect our valuable information and identities.


Did you know that you should NEVER give out personal information via a cell phone?  That even shredded documents, if they are not cross-cut, could be pieced back together?  That gaining access to your computer password is as easy as someone calling and pretending to be your network administrator? 


It’s as simple as this…we are sure to lock our car doors when we go into the store.  We check and double check purses or pockets for our wallets or valuables.  Some even put their toddlers on leashes.  Such protective measures MUST roll over into our information technology world in order to be certain that our data is protected and our identities remain true – to only us.


So what’s on the menu for our next Lunchinar (besides salad and pizza)?  I’ll give just one little hint….it’s all in what we do to market ourselves that matters!  This presentation is sure to give you a great idea for getting your business some visibility. It’s one of the latest and greatest marketing trends and we’ll show you how easy it can be!  Watch our newsletter for more information.  Aren’t receiving our newsletter?  Let me know and I’ll make sure that you do.

Bob here.  Some folks from Microsoft recently asked members of the SBSC (Small Business Specialist Community) Certified Partners to discuss a bit their idea of “community” and the impact on business today.  I thought I’d respond through the blog, since it’s a critical issue with businesses today.


Everybody has their own definition of community.  I’m not going to get into the specifics.  Suffice to say that a community is an organization of entities (could be businesses, families, individuals, countries, squirrels…yes, squirrels) that are connected by one or more interests.


What’s the value of a community?  Economies of familiarity.  Familiarity of skills, of needs.  Familiarity of products.  Familiarity of what we do versus what other members of the community do.


Back in the day, communities were static.  People didn’t move around much.  It wasn’t uncommon for a person to stay with the same company, often at the same job, for their entire career.  Go to the same church, shop at the same hardware store.  Loyalty was a palpable thing, but it was often driven by convenience.  Companies used the same suppliers, provided the same product to the same customers.


Litmus test for risk avoidance:  Do you feel that environment is: a> safe or b> boring?


Well, truth is, it really doesn’t matter whether you liked it or not.  Because it’s all changed, baby.


Fast forward to now.  Communities are fluid, often value driven.  Customers automatically have many choices to go to for the product.  It used to be difficult to maintain a community separated by distance.  Now it’s a piece of cake.


And it’s often cheap, too.  The need to invest in a community to be part of it is gone.  Think LinkedIn, for example.  By just signing up, creating your profile and joining up to some individual groups, you now have the connections necessary delineated by geography (people in your area), topic (people worldwide interested in your product) to a combination (people in your area interested in your product).


As a company with a value to offer to our customers, we need to take advantage of communities.  Every chance we get.  Here at Simplex-IT, we never lose sight that our customers have choices.  Choices in whom they choose for their business.  Choices in how the find or connect with their partners in business.  It truly drives what we do and how we do it.


We’ll continue this conversation later this week with how we choose to work with communities.


 

Earlier this week I waxed philosophical about the value of LinkedIn as a social networking tool.  My closing line questioned a bit the value of online relationships versus actual human interaction.

 

I guess I was overheard.  Because Lewis Howes and Frank Agin, authors of “LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website” are embarking on a worldwide (if you consider the world to be encompassed in Illinois, Missouri and Ohio) tour in March, which will include both Cleveland and Akron.  Their expectations (theirs, not mine) are to have 500+ at the evening gigs, and over 100+ for the afternoon ones.  You can find more information about these events (Akron is March 4th at noon, and 5:30pm is when Cleveland gets going) by clicking here.

 

Are these things worth going to?  Hey, if you read their articles, absolutely!  Of course, they do seem to include pics of some of the other events that they’ve sponsored, so this might be true.

 

I guess the bottom line gets back to the question, what’s the value of networking?  In this economy, the answer is pretty straightforward.  It’s critical.

 

Bob here.  Social networking is all the big rage.  Partially because it’s inexpensive (although time-consuming), and of course partially because it’s “the latest thing.”  And LinkedIn is arguably the most successful of the online networking tools, with lots of members.

Simply put, LinkedIn lets you define yourself online, in terms of interests and relationships (think “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” if we could all be Kevin Bacon.  And by that, I’m not talking about the Footloose Kevin Bacon.  If we could all be the Footloose Kevin Bacon, the world would be a weird place.  Especially if we drove tractors, because our shoelaces would get caught up in the tractors all the time, making farming an even more dangerous occupation.  But I digress).

If you’ve signed up with LinkedIn (which you can do for free, although there are some fee-based levels you can do if you’re so inclined), you’re about 1/3 of the way there.

First of all, you need to identify yourself (not to be confused with being seen on “Cops”).  This can be done by creating/maintaining your online profile.  With this, you define your current and past employment, skill sets, organization and educational histories. Sound like an online resume?  Keep that thought in mind!

You still need to create connections with other members (Person A knows B.  Person B knows C.  So Person A can ask Person B to introduce them to Person C).  That way, if you’re looking to make a connection with a specific person (or company), you might find a connection pipeline that works for you!

You should also investigate groups, which are focused on specific interests.  Some are geographically constrained (ie, “LinkedWorking Cleveland”), others are more interest-oriented (ie, “Microsoft Office SharePoint Server MOSS”).  Membership in the group is free.  Each group has their own discussion area, and members of the groups share insights or queries on a variety of topics (employment, or lack thereof, seems to be an understandably hot item these days).

Ok, now then.  Here’s the fun part.  LinkedIn gives search capabilities where someone can actually look for people with specific qualifications.  There are also jobs posted.  So there’s a certain matchmaker functionality that’s going on here.

Does this work?  Well, I’ve made some useful connections here, to be sure.  Simplex-IT was looking for an IT group to partner with for POS applications.  LinkedIn gave us the connection we were looking for.

But it takes time.  And honestly, it sometimes seems like we’re “networking for networking’s sake.”  Which, at the end of the day, might not be what we actually need.

Especially, if at the end of the day, we know more people through LinkedIn than through, oh, say human interaction?

Sophos is #1!

No comments

Bob here.  When it comes to desktop/server level protection, we’re pretty sold on Sophos.  Sophos isn’t well known, but they focus specifically on the business side of things.  So they’re product isn’t a desktop that’s been upgraded to enterprise level.  Also, their distribution model is through partners only, and their support is excellent (having suffered through Symantec and McAfee more than once).

Anywho, InfoWorld just released their review of endpoint security products for enterprises, and Sophos took the #1 spot!  For details, click here.

Sigh…it’s nice to work with the best.

Bob here.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big believer in the User Group concept.  From my days waaaaaay back as President of the Cleveland Chapter of the Data Processing Management Association (DPMA), to the glory days of the Greater Cleveland PC Users Group to today, I’m a big believer in the value of folks networking to share information.

And believe it or not, there are still a lot of great groups out there for the professional IT person to take advantage of.  So I’ve taken the first step of creating a monthly newsletter that will just list the various meetings that I’m aware of happening in the area.  Sorry, but I’m going to focus on meetings for the IT professional, and only meetings that are free and open to the general public.

If you’d like to get the newsletter, email me here.  If you’d like to get your meeting on the list, email me here.  And if you’d like, we’ll include you on the mailing list for Simpex-IT’s monthly eNewsletter.  Just let me know!

No promises on the accuracy or timeliness of the announcements.  Nor can I promise that there will be pizza, or that the pizza would be warm, cold, or moving.  But this will hopefully keep people in the know about what’s going on in the area!

Bob here…just read an article on InfoWorld quoting an interview with Steve Ballmer (Microsoft’s CEO).  He was talking about how the corporate world might have a problem explaining to their co-workers the lack of Microsoft Vista or Windows 7 on their desktop.

“If you deploy a four or five-year old operating system today, most people will ask their boss why the heck they don’t have the stuff they have at home.” Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO.  (quoting from the article which can be found here)

Ummm…yeah.  Even though there’s some potential from truth here (I use Vista at home and work, and would not willingly give it up), I wouldn’t push it.  The fact remains that Vista, appropriately or not, remains the Albatross around Microsoft’s neck.  Between issues of misleading (or at least confusing) hardware requirements during the kickoff to a brilliant (and lucky) marketing scheme by Apple, the credibility of Microsoft in terms of promoting Vista is, shall we say, challenged.  And don’t get me started about the UAC.

That’s not to say that ultimately he won’t be right.  Windows 7 is actually getting a very positive response from most people playing with it.  Of course the proof will be in the final release.  I just hope Microsoft won’t push it too soon to get out from under the shadow of Vista.