Tag: internet

Why should you use Rent-A-Geeks for your disaster recovery drills?

Why should you use Rent-A-Geeks for your disaster recovery drills?

 

The pushback I get on this one topic is phenomenal.  Their IT people who know their boss better than I, always question the need for a disaster recovery audit in the first place.

“I Get it!  To them, that is synonymous with taking your shoebox full of tax information to the IRS and asking them for an audit. Please let me suffer through an audit because I love pain!”

So who in their right mind would do it?

I can think of no better argument than Puerto Rico.  That island was wiped off the map.  They have no power grid left.  They have no data communications and let’s face it; It will take years for them to recover.

I had customers there, but I bet that those businesses may no longer be viable.

They are requesting of all things truck drivers, among their many lists of needs.  Why?

Their truck drivers were affected by the buss’s called Irma and then Maria.

I am speaking to the owners of businesses with this next sentence. “Folks, your IT guy that tells you that you don’t need an outside firm or audit, is setting you up for disaster.”

Objectivity is essential.  You need an honest assessment by someone who does not have a dog in that fight.

If a team of rent-a-geeks cannot restore your company at a warm site, the DR plan that you think you have is worthless. It may satisfy the ISO folks or the other government or banking or insurance companies, but the sad truth is, in an actual Disaster your people may not be around to add their collective knowledge to the process.

One client did not even look at one I prepared for them.  When I asked if he wanted to go over it he shook his head.  “No, I just need something for the auditor to show that we have one.”

My reports go to you the customer, nowhere else.  My recommendations are put forth in a clear, concise manner that you will not need your IT guy to explain to you.  Read and understand my blogs on the topic and then ask the critical questions.  If you hold your SA’s feet to the fire or your CIO’s feet to the fire, you will far better off than most of the firms I deal with.

One firms CIO that I worked with was not suited for desktop wizard much less the end all be all guru of all things technology.  Now if numbers are what interested the CEO, this was his guy.  He could pinch a nickel with the best of them. “Penny wise pound foolish,” should be on this man’s card.

It does not take an Irma or Maria to sink your business.  It only takes a Ted or Bob or a fire of some small part in the computer room to decimate your company.  Assume nothing!  Do you have the right employees doing the job?

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, and if you have the ability, you might consider donating something to some of the excellent organizations who are working so hard to bring some relief to those affected.

Having lived through Alicia, I would not wish that on my worst enemy.

 

-Best

 

 

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Netflix Scam

Netflix Scam

 

No Netflix is not the problem, a phishing scam, however, is out that you should be aware of.

Since so many of us now receive our entertainment over the internet, it is a good gamble that you might have Netflix.

Again many of us have it set up to bill once a month from some sort of banking institution whether it be your bank, credit card or PayPal. The e-mail looks like it came from Netflix until you look a little closer at the sent from.

Netflix AT dallas180.arvixeshared.com  (don’t e-mail to it…)

You will notice it is not Netflix.com

The message is telling you that they were unable to get your payment info and if you don’t update the info soon you will lose Netflix.

Then, of course, there is a link that they want you to follow.

God only knows how many will fall for this. Considering it was sent to tens of thousands you can bet a percentage will click and update. Always check to see that the sending e-mail is legitimate. IE Netflix.com and, hover over the link and make sure it stays Netflix.com and not something like I posted.

If you question it at all, call the institution or get online, not following any link from an e-mail and check for yourself. Once they get money from your account, if that is indeed their ploy it will be gone. The ploy could simply be to get you to click so they can put some sort of virus or cookie on your computer. E-mail is an excellent way to get infected, and because the scheme requires input from you, your protection might just allow it.

Practice safe computing… -Best

 

How often Should I Change the Ribbon

How often Should I Change the Ribbon

 

 

By far this is the most often asked question when I am speaking with a customer.

First things first, however.  There are three different types of ribbon for your consideration.

rapidprint ribbon a

By “type of ribbon,” I mean what fabric was used.

  • Nylon
  • Cotton
  • Silk

Nylon, most probably the least expensive of the three has plusses and minuses.

Nylon takes more abuse but, does not hold as much ink as some others.

Cotton, also not the most expensive holds much more ink for a longer period. However, Cotton pulverizes much easier than Nylon.

Silk, the most expensive of the three holds together longer and is in the middle of the road as far as its ability to retain ink.

“Great, there are three types, which one do I need?”

There are a few different factors to consider.

Your average humidity.  The moisture in ink will evaporate much faster in Arizona, than Florida, for example.

“Why do I care about how fast the moisture evaporates?”

The medium for the ink is the moisture.  When the ribbon is dry, the quality of the print is diminished.  Also, it is my contention that the moisture from the ink assist in lubricating the type section allowing it to wear much slower than pure metal on metal.

Pulverization

As the solenoid under the type section rises to strike the type section, it places the imprint on the document of the date, time and whatever other information you may have on your individual plates.

Each time it does this, it breaks the bonds in the fabric a little, which is the ribbons substrate or media which holds the actual ink.

During the ribbons life cycle, the spooling mechanism rolls the fabric back and forth as it nears the end.  Several passes of the ribbon are possibly before the ribbon should be replaced.

I tell customers to make an imprint right after they change the ribbon.  Take that example hang it by your machine somewhere.

Much like the brakes on your car, you have no idea that from the get go they are performing less efficiently until one day you hear the ubiquitous squeal from a metal warning indicator telling you to service your brakes.  Each day they wear just a little bit more and stop just a little less efficiently.

Your ribbon from day one slowly loses ink, and before you know it, you are not able to clearly see the imprint.

“Why is this a problem, I want to get the most out of the ribbon I can!”

“No, no you don’t.  Most of you are scanning or imaging your documents.  That means that the original text must be legible.  Since most scanners do not get 100% of the original “value” or the image darkness, the original needs to be as dark and definite as possible.”  Secondly using a ribbon too long will cause pulverization of the substrate.  If you have ever looked inside your Rapidprint or Widmer file date stamper and seen “gunk” in the wheels or plates. That is from ribbon fragments and paper dust bound together with ink as the glue.”

Do not try this at home!

Many of you have attempted to clean this yourself.  Once you try this, quickly you will see the error in your way.  Using an old toothbrush and alcohol should be an easy task!  There is a reason that I do very little service in the field.  One customer did this and told me of the experience.  I did not mean to laugh but, the walls appeared as though an inkwell blew up.  Her clothes, desk and anything within proximity was spotted with ink.

Never mind the mess that this process makes here is the real bugaboo.  When cleaning the machine, you take the oils and other chemicals away which lubricate the wheels and mechanism.

I disassemble each machine after cleaning it replacing the worn parts, and then I replace the lubricants.

For these to function properly the tolerances are critical.  Some have tried to replace parts by themselves to find they got into more than they bargained for.

If the machine full of gunk is left untreated, the mechanism will wear faster, and the imprint will not be clear but smeared as the letters like “O” will be filled in and appear as a large dot instead of an “o.”  The same applies to the numbers 0 or 6 or 8 or 9 and any other letter than has a closed circle of some sort.

Since these machines can cost up to $1000 each, it is a super good idea to have them serviced occasionally.

Changing the ribbon when the print starts to get too light is also a good idea.

At TimeDok we sell and service these machine and have done so since 1995.

If you purchase a dozen or more ribbons from me at one time, I pick up the shipping.

In summary, Silk is the most robust ribbon for those of you who don’t like to change them as often as you should.

Cotton will render the best print image but will pulverize and needs to be changed when the print gets too light.

Nylon is less expensive than Silk and does hold up better than cotton but will not last as long as cotton or silk.

One of the other things I see too often is this.  “The spooler is not working!”

Go here and check this out before you send me your machine

http://www.timedok.com/Support.html

The other guys won’t tell you that…

While I actually want your business, I don’t want it under false pretense. Many times the ribbon was installed improperly, and it will not spool if it is.

Follow me on Linked In or check out my website at www.timedok.com.

“Is it feasible to use Timedok for my service as I am not in Texas?”

If you can get UPS to come to your location then yes.  I currently have customers in all 50 states and in some of its territories.

Call or write for details.  Many times a machine will just show up with no advanced warning from a new customer.  That is ok too but, a heads up would be nice so I can get to know you a little and vice versa.

http://www.timedok.com/contact.html

 

 

 

The digital Era

The digital Era

The digital Era

One of my neighbors was talking via a group regarding cable and internet and what have you.  Since I took the time to write this to them I thought that I would also share this with you my “virtual” neighbors. 

Shopping Saves Money

I had Time Warner for years.  The bill had eventually reached $300 a month, the picture was hardly HD and often pixelated and too often went out.  The service technicians had been over too many times to fix it and I was over paying that kind of money for interference and snowy pictures. The Internet was slow 6mgb I think and, the two phone lines of course went down when the cable went down.

Truth be told, we don’t recognize the up time, we only really recognize and pay attention to the down time!  So when it went off or they had issues, it was an issue.  As things are “bundled” it is a real problem!

Howdy Neighbor!

Because the e-mail is also through Time Warner, now all of the communication other than the cellular is dead, if it dies for whatever reason.

While I would argue that this is a good time to pick up a book, or go sit on the porch with a glass of tea and say howdy to the neighbors, as we hardly ever meet our neighbors anymore.  We are too happy with our gadgets, and our air conditioning, another story.

Un-Bundle

The old adage about not putting all of your eggs in one basket is salient advice, and germane when it comes to communication.

Some of the easiest things to do is get another e-mail account that is not tied to your provider. Gmail, or some other freebie is a good start.  Yes there are security issues with this so don’t broadcast your banking information through un-encrypted e-mail.  I would argue not to put anything on there that you would not put on social media, but that too is another topic.

Next, as someone pointed out, who needs a land line.  POTS lines or ‘plain old telephone lines” are a thing of the past, much like pay phones.  If you really want a phone line that looks like a regular line, there are options.

First and the cheapest I have found is “Magic Jack.”  Yep, looks cheesy but for $100 for 5 years, pick your number and exchange, which is an easy choice.  Phone lines through your cable provider have all sorts of taxes and fees including *“universal fees” , which are fees tacked onto your phone line to pay for someone else’s phone.

I personally like to choose who I donate to and I don’t like to have it extracted from me, so that too was an easy choice.  No fees or other hidden theft of money with Magic Jack.

There are devices that you can get that utilize the Cell phone service and hook up to your home wiring that actually use a cell phone number as a home phone thus not doing business with the cable company in that regard.  More expensive and fees and other hidden charges will be there.  It still might be less expensive than the cable company.

There are other options for entertainment as more and more services are streaming online as someone else pointed out.  I still like the TV services offered by Verizon but, if that price gets too high, I will switch again.

Broadband is changing constantly and some say that you should get the fastest around including the company that sells it via some upgrade by some carriers on some channel.

Since most companies are using something called QoS (Quality of Service) they can actually throttle certain types of packets so, streaming video may be fast but other types of files may crawl.  This is what the whole net neutrality argument is all about.

Should NETFLIX for instance be able to pay the FCC or some other government entity to have priority traffic over some other streaming service?  Those that have a business like this lobby for it as it would make them more successful and those that think the internet should be unencumbered from government regulations lobby for neutrality.  Your online game packets should have the same priority as VOIP.  (Voice over IP)  I would argue that some companies are already doing it to some degree with or without regulations but proving it would be difficult.  Verizon has in its “fine print” an option to slow the traffic to your MAC address of your router, if you violate any of the rules on the internet such as downloading copyrighted stuff so trust me when I say this, they can do it easily.

My point to this is that I would not pay extra for faster or more bandwidth in that your “cable speed checker” may say that you are blazing but, in fact the traffic that you are interested in may be throttled back for something else.  There are other issues that could also slow down the traffic to your particular site that you are interested in so, before you buy a racecar, make certain you can use it.

Should your Internet be sold to you like water, or electricity?

There are, and have been arguments by greedy politicians and others who believe that you should pay for what you use or cause to move or transverse the internet.  Not only should you pay for your connection to, and the speed thereof, but you should also pay for the amount of data downloaded or uploaded much like cellular providers already do.  Even if the price was negligible, once they got the camel’s nose inside the tent, you would quickly find the whole camel inside the tent.  I would fight this at every turn of the road.

Network cable is not wire

Start with the basic and see if it is acceptable. Ramp up slowly and this is a biggie, make sure that the slowness that you are experiencing is not on your own home network.  Often I see companies that have paid big bucks for superfast internet access and have placed their network cables on top of fluorescent lights, or other em emitting sources.   Another huge mistake that I see often is the use of zip ties to keep them all neatly bundled.  Like building a home, make certain that your networks foundation (physical layer) is solid and installed per specifications.

Too many companies hire some handyman to install network cable thinking it is like any other kind of wire.  IT IS NOT.  There is a reason that there are so many different standards of cable and it has to do with shielding and something called TPI or (twist per inch.) Along with all of that, there is a spacer inside the cable that actually holds the different pairs at certain distances from one another as to not adversely affect the impedance of the cable.  Hire a cable specialist to do this for you; as not only does it need to be routed correctly, but it must be terminated correctly.

Threaten to Fire them

When the cable company gets too pricey call and tell them that you are going to “cancel” and change providers.  They will most probably send you to a “retention specialist” who is authorized to cut your bill, or offer you some free something or other for some amount of time.

Be prepared to cut the cable.

If you are just un-happy with the service and the retention specialist tries to low ball you, simply tell them no; and come get the stuff, or write the letter as some require etc.  I see many people bringing cable boxes and Satellite boxes and what have you to the UPS store or to the FED EX store as those folks have a contract with the provider to wrap the stuff up, and ship it for them.  Read and understand your contract before you engage the company and certainly before you terminate services.  The fine print in some of these contracts is ambiguous at best.  If I need a lawyer to look it over that is a red flag for me.  If I cannot within a few moments read the contract, and understand it completely; I am uninterested in the product.  That is sage advice that 40 years of dealing with vendors has taught me.

Important Information

A note about Magic Jack and or other VOIP services.  911 may not be a function that you have with it so remember if there is an emergency, use your cell phone.  911 is an emergency number (obviously) and when there is an emergency people often forget things like (that phone does not have 911!) when seconds count, you don’t have time to call 911 on a line that will not do you any good!

With Magic Jack they sell it with a network cable that plugs right into your router.  The problem is the cable is “flat.”  A flat cable picks up EM “electromagnetic” interference too easily and effects the performance and quality of the device.  Toss it and use a regular cat 5 or cat 6 jumper cable.

Alarm systems can be dicey with VOIP and certainly with some cable providers.  There are companies that offer cellular connected alarms and while I would not want that exclusively, I would want that as an option.  Crooks can be smart so one must be a step ahead of and smarter than them.  A good alarm company should have specialist that can make certain that if there is an issue that the police or fire or other emergency services will indeed get the call.  One other small pearl of wisdom I would pass on regarding this is simply to test your alarm once a month at least.  When you pay the bill, go test the alarm.  Make it a habit.  You don’t want to find out that it does not work, when or if you need it.

-Best

(c) All Rights Reserved 2015

Buying a car….

I finally decided it was time to replace the 12 year old mini-van with something newer.  Started shopping at the place where I purchased my last 3 vehicles.

 Upon parking I was greeted by two sales people.  My guess is that they were taking turns.  The weather was a balmy 33 degrees with a strong wind out of the north with scattered drizzle;  so it was probably not the best day to be walking all over a car lot. 

 I test drove a couple of vehicles; the first one was a two seater so the sales guy could not go with us.  The next was larger, four seats so he hopped into the back.  Immediately I noticed an odor from the back, this guy either had really bad breath, or whatever his diet consist of came right through his pores.  The issue with this is that I was not so much focused on the car as I was getting it parked so we could get out of that smell!  I digress…

 I really liked the second vehicle and the price was within my budget.  As a returning customer I expected a little better treatment than someone off the street.  He assured us that he would make us a great deal!  While he cajoled us and said we were part of the family, the numbers did not reflect any discount what so ever.  As the matter of fact the final price is what was on the sticker with an interest rate of 6.9% . 

 We thanked him and left.  Talking about it; we felt as if that was a slap in the face as this would have been the fourth automobile we had purchased through this dealer.

 We then went to a different dealer this time, to look at another brand.  Found a vehicle with 9 thousand miles on it via the internet and the price was less than the first.  The sales guy was nice enough and he was a “top performer.”  We spent about two hours there.  The vehicle we were looking at was in “like new” condition.  The difference in price between that vehicle with 9000 miles on it and a new one was 3000.  The color options were limited and there were no whistles or bells to speak of.

 We thanked him for his time and were about to call it quits for the day until we decided to try the place where I had purchased 4 cars before.

 Once there we asked to see the vehicle that we found on the internet.  There was some sort of pending deal however; we managed to get the keys as there was some issue with their credit.  After just looking at the car I noticed that it was really in great shape.  The factory tires had been replaced with new Michelins (about $800  worth)  The inside was pristine and the outside was the same.

 

While there was no navigation package there were enough whistles and bells to interest me.  The original driver had purchased it there 3 years prior and put 22K on it.  The depreciation on the car was $15k for 22 thousand miles and three years.  That is not counting the extras that he had included.

 

Normally I buy new cars however; I know that the depreciation is horrific so I decided to save a few $$.  The people were very nice, answered all of my questions and I did not have to haggle the price, as the internet price is what it is.  They discount them on the internet to the rock bottom to get people to come to the dealership.  A quick look at Edmonds and Kelly’s and a call to my trusted mechanic, I knew that I was being treated right.  Easiest purchase of a car in my life!

 

The point to this diatribe is this.  There is much information on the internet regarding what the car cost, what it should sell for, and interest rates that you should expect to pay.  Pushy sales people are a sign of desperation and the “game sucks!”  Each and every time we had to wait several minutes while the sales person went to talk with his manager “under the guise of getting us his card.”  My time is valuable so playing games is not my thing.  Some people enjoy it however; you are on their turf, they have all of the Ace’s and unless you do your research you will be getting screwed.  With the prices and information available to you today, you have a fighting chance of not getting taking advantage of.

 

This was my fifth vehicle purchased from these folks and I would imagine that it won’t be my last.  In retrospect I think that the day of the car salesman may be coming to an end.  I am not sure that this is a bad thing as up until this purchase I have always left with a bad taste in my mouth knowing that I had been screwed.  I don’t mind someone making a living for what they do however; taking advantage of people to the point of obscene is, well… obscene.

 

One of the reasons that I shop for my techie stuff at Best Buy is they are not commissioned, they are straight salary.  I don’t want to be directed to something that they make more money on, I want to be directed to something that fits my needs the closest and is in my price range.

 

Do your research whether it is houses, cars, or computer equipment.

 

Best to you and those that you care about!