Thanks to all of our great clients, vendors, and associates for making 2011 another record year! We overcame some challenges (see: broken leg) to add some new small businesses to our brood of great clients.
VanceCoffman Computing expects to announce soon some new hires for Q1 of 2012; and we are also bringing some new vendors and products online.
We have just recently started offering managed internet-based backup services, so feel free to ask for a rate sheet next time you see us. We have a few other new tricks up our sleeves, so check back occasionally for product updates!
VanceCoffman Computing is happy to announce the immediate availability of our uptime monitoring program!
We have beta-tested this with a large group for over 2 years, and it is finally available as a service for your online applications.
- Can’t afford to have employees idling while your office file server is offline? We can get a dispatch email within a minute; often times making contact before you realize there is a problem.
- Does your web server throw fits? Get an alert when it’s offline, or better yet, send an alert to a technician for faster dispatch!
- Do you need to make sure your email server is always online, and prevent intruders? We can combine technologies to send instantaneous alerts of anything that seems out of place.
- Do you commonly use VPN, Remote Desktop, or VNC to access your machines at the office? Get notifications about their availability!
Uptime monitoring is a cost-effective way to get faster technician dispatch. Ask next time you see us, or call for a no-obligation qoute.
We consistently see clients using old computers that have outlived their utility. Most of the time this stems from an outdated sense of the cost of upgrading hardware. With hardware rapidly advancing (I’m typing this on an inexpensive quad-core machine) and prices falling every few weeks, there’s rarely been a better time to get more performance out of your technology dollar.
Check out this (now dated!) video, and if that kind of speed could help with your productivity, drop us a line. We do free no-obligation estimates inside the Des Moines metro.
VanceCoffman Computing is now happy to offer at-cost or discounted T1, Metro Ethernet, and DSL throughout the Des Moines Metro. We have partnered with local ISPs to leverage our client base for faster turnaround, local technicians, and faster Internet service. We do a free neighborhood assesment of your best business options, and give you rates at cost. Existing clients and new businesses are encouraged to call and explore their options.
…metaphorically at least. As some of you already know, TJ broke his leg on Friday 1/21/11 and will refrain from actually running for a couple of months. He’s out of surgery, out of the hospital, and back at home recuperating. He’d like to thank all of you for your kind words and support. What does this mean for the business? They say a picture is worth a thousand words.
Above is TJ helping a client while in the emergency room shortly after breaking his leg. He may be off his feet for a little while but the company is still functioning smoothly due to our well thought out business continuity plan. Most of our work can be done via remote support, and we have friends and colleagues that can step in to help out in a pinch. Sadly, many people only think about such business plans after something tragic has happened. It’s much easier to plan for the worst before it’s actually happened. Vance Coffman Computing leverages technology to take care of business needs during difficult times and we can help review your plans for anyone looking to do the same.
Much like the bone in TJ’s leg, our business is growing stronger every day. Where others see setbacks, we see opportunites. The show will go on, but you may not want to wish us luck by saying “break a leg.” Below is an x-ray of TJ’s leg version 2.0
Today’s news is fairly brief; There’s a new Adobe exploit in the wild, and the usual internet miscreants are already abusing it. Heavy users of Adobe products (Reader and Acrobat, especially) should take note and allow the Adobe updater to patch up to the latest versions.
Technical info is here .
We’re coming up on a very busy season around the office; June, July, and August see more of our small businesses shuffling spaces than the rest of the year combined. Whether you’re after more space, a more robust street-level presence, or just trying to get away from the old landlord, changes in space almost always require new technology considerations.
One consideration may be the office printer. Is it getting outdated? Do you need more features (like color,) higher page-per-minute or better resolution for printing? We’re coming across more intel every day that businesses who lease or may dispose of owned equipment may need to know.
Many, if not most, printers manufactured in the last decade have hard drives installed in them. This gave multifunction devices quite an edge in the early 2000s, but the software manufacturers at the time lacked foresight. Now there are hundreds of thousands of businesses with old multi-function printers with EVERY image that has ever passed through them STILL stashed on their hard drives. And this problem is raising a whole bunch of new concerns.
Steve Gibson of the Security Now podcast (grc.com) brought this to our attention late last week. We have several of these printers that have been decomissioned, and were amazed at how simple data recovery is from these devices. Even CBS News did a demonstration on air last week.
Think about it:
Every document you’ve scanned, copied, faxed, or printed in the last decade, sitting on a drive that you have no control over. Employee records, medical records, legal documents, confidential financials. There’s no way to delete these documents through the printer itself, AND the printer is useless without the harddrive. You’re in a Catch-22. Lawyers, Doctors, Government agencies, and (famously) hospitals aren’t immune. The data is ready for retrieval.
There are 2 very important points that we’re coming away with here:
Open-source software is saving the day yet again! We’ve successfully wiped data from several different printer manufacturers using cutting edge tools on our lab servers, making the printers ready for return after lease or resale down the road. Our use of open source technology to achieve these results is less than half of any price any quotes we’ve heard so far.
Technology is always changing, even suprising those of us who should know better. Be educated. In your next printer lease, ask the important questions. There’s no long-term benefit to using hard-drive based storage rather than a single ram chip, which would be erased on shutdown. Encryption technologies are being developed for printers that would give only members of your organization access to the drives. It may be a few months before we see promising change in the MFP arena, but with a bit of education and some foresight, maybe we can all avoid a big headache in a few years.
Around VanceCoffman, we like to work hard but make an effort to take ourselves lightly. That’s why we’re looking forward to April Fool’s day 2010.
You should be too, and to get you in the spirit, we’re going to help you keep pranksters and hackers out with a special on our pre-flashed DD-WRT wireless router for home and small business use.
- Fully PCI ASV complaint
- Enhanced Wireless Range
- Configurable for VPN or printer sharing
- VCC Managed Monitoring for network downtime
With enhanced security, speed, and range, we GARUNTEE you’ll find that this is the best router in it’s class.
$69 pre-flashed and ready to provision.
Regularly $99, we’ve ordered in bulk and we’re passing the savings along to you through April 9th. Call us at 515.309.2532 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve yours today.
Our news inboxes were lit up this morning with warnings on a new botnet named for the “Chuck Norris” internet meme. The botnet installs itself onto targeted machines through exploits and pre-existing malware on Windows based computers. The botnet then tries several different methods of attack on routers and modems within the local network. When the infection spreads to routers and modems, any computers on the same network will get redirects for facebook and google, etc. The redirects are most commonly used to install malware, but we can only assume similar methods will be employed over the next few days to create phishing attacks for email, social networking, ecommerce, and banking websites.
Lastly, always heed the warnings of the dying internet meme:
“If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can’t see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death.”
“Chuck Norris Doesn’t sleep. He waits.”
Mobile world congress is this week, so before we start pondering our next tech toys, we thought it privy to comment on the current state of affairs regarding “SMARTPHONES:”
Before my VCC days, I managed PALM and Windows Mobile implementations all over the state of Iowa. Inside of our roles at VCC, we’ve seen hundreds of devices in dozens of implementations, each with their own intricacies and user experiences. It’s always our goal to remain objective regarding client need within the mobile sphere, but we thought it time to weigh in on “SMART” phones as we’ve been getting more and more questions as to our preferences.
In the past, we have maintained and personally owned ALL of these types of phones:
- Windows Mobile
- Apple Iphone
- Android Devices
All of these phones have their audiences; Palm got an early start with devices like the Treo and recently the WEBOS series of phones. They had GREAT apps for their time on the older versions of the operating system, but don’t have as robust of a download catalog as Apple and Google Android at the moment. Windows Mobile used to be about power but compared to its recent rivals seems sluggish and is prone to the same pseudo-random issues most Windows users are used to. Blackberries are great for the enterprise; they integrate with Exchange REALLY well and have great app integration, but generally suffer from poor keyboards and lack of media support. Our 2 favourite contenders for Smart-phone (and yes, we do have a favourite) are the iPhone and the handful of recent GOOGLE ANDROID releases.
We’ll start with the iPhone. The screen is Great; the responsiveness and UI (That’s user interface to any smart-phone newbies out there) are right where you’d expect them to be. There are THOUSANDS of apps that you can download without ever touching a computer (although the distribution system is highly proprietary and riddled with controversies on stifling advancement). This is THE platform for casual gamers, as many tap and accelerometer based games really shine here.
Our iPhone concerns revolve around the proprietary app distribution system and a lack of multitasking support. While both CAN be circumvented (while simultaneously voiding your warranty) APPLE does NOT allow third-party (unapproved) apps to be installed on your device. That means your small company can not hire a developer to write a simple app and distribute it without Apple’s support.
The lack of multitasking on the iphone initially provided a performance benefit, but with new versions of the phone, and especially the recently announced iPad, critics are wondering why multitasking support was never added. Without daemons running in the background on your phone, for instance, email notifications are delayed, location aware apps will not function, and switching from app to app requires navigating back to a home screen.
That’s where Android comes in; simply put, Android is just an operating system for your phone. It’s free, open-source software (like firefox and openoffice) that doesn’t have any licensing restrictions to hardware manufacturers. You can run it on anything with a processor, and even our small shop has several internal Android installations on devices other than phones. This opens up the mobile space for a myriad of handset developers (motorola, htc, and samsung to name a few) whose only edge over each other will be the hardware features they can build into their mobile phones. Encouraging hardware evolution may be one of the platform’s greatest assets.
Furthermore, Android multi-tasks AND allows third-party app support. While modified iPhones also support these features, having the capability in a warrantied phone is preferable. Multitasking just makes your “smart-phone” smarter. Mine monitors my location by GPS and turns off my ringer when I’m at the movie theater. It tells me when my friends and family are nearby and gives us suggestions of where to meet up. It monitors the time and only allows certain people to call after hours. None of this would be possible if it were only allowed to fire off one application at a time.
Because of the licensing agreements and the open-source community, apps that simply aren’t allowed on iPhones become commonplace. We have apps installed (again without ever touching the computer) that allow for tethering to our laptops for wireless access on the road, Google Voice, and even the entire user interface can be replaced to meet your needs.
There are a few other REALLY cool google-only features at the moment; text-to-speech, enabling your voice to command the keyboard anywhere in the operating system; Google Goggles, which provides google searches based on your camera’s input, and Google Maps integration, with full GPS and free turn-by-turn navigation on most models.
One major downside to the Android platform is a severe lack of addictive games. We have card games, and some brick breaker clones, but have yet to see the big developers come along with puzzle games like Bejeweled and Paper toss.
It’s also likely that big enterprise will move from blackberry/windows mobile world any time soon because of their commitments with Microsoft licensing. While all the phone platforms allow varying degrees of Microsoft Exchange support, Blackberry and Windows Mobile seem to be a little more user friendly when accessing corporate calendars and shared resources.
No matter what you’re trying to do with a smart phone, there’s a good chance we’ve seen it before. Don’t be shy to ask us questions regarding your company’s situation, and we’ll provide you with 10 years of experience in data and phone support to make sure you get your best mobile roll-out possible.