Blog

January 25th, 2012

Thinking about setting the “usual” New Year’s resolutions of losing weight, being more organized and getting out of debt, but have a feeling deep down you aren’t going to follow through? We’re here to help! Below are 5 common New Year’s resolutions and simple techie ways to keep you on track.

#1: Be More Productive
If improving your time-management skills is one of your New Year’s resolutions, this will be a BIG help: Turn off the automatic send and receive for your e-mail (I can almost hear the gasps of horror). Admit it, you’re addicted to email and if you’re like most people, you’re checking it constantly. In fact, there’s a good chance it’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night. If you want to stop the constant temptation to lose focus on your work, simply turn off the automatic send and receive function, forcing you to click on the “Send And Receive” button at set times. If that’s too “cold turkey,” you could at least turn off the sound and icon popup so you’re not distracted by it while working.

#2: Save Time
After e-mail, checking social media sites can be another huge time suck. If you (and possibly your staff) are wasting a lot of time on Facebook, good content filtering software can keep you in check by preventing you from accessing these sites from your work PC. You can also allow certain people in your company access while blocking others; so if you have a web manager or marketing manager who needs to access these sites for work but find it too tempting for YOU, we can configure the system to assist you with that temptation.

#3: Get Out Of Debt And Start Saving More
If you feel like you can’t get a handle on where your money goes, check out www.Mint.com. This site automatically compiles all your bank statements, retirement and credit card accounts to give you one snapshot of where you’re spending money – and it’s FREE! Best of all, you only need to set it up once and it will automatically update your finances and put them into easy-to-read graphical reports – and since Mint.com connects to almost every US banking and financial institution with internet banking capability, you won’t have to manually enter your information over and over again. The site offers ways to save money, allows you to set financial goals and keeps track of those goals automatically.

#4: Lose Weight
Pearson’s Law states that anything measured improves, and anything measured and reported upon improves exponentially; so if you want to lose weight, you might sign up for www.MyFoodDiary.com and start tracking everything you eat. This site allows you to set and track your weight loss goals by allowing you to post what you ate and then counting calories for you. If nothing else, it will help you think BEFORE you eat because you need to track the calories!

#5: Get Organized!
If you’re like me, you’ve got a million things going on – from business, family and everything in between, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget tiny (but important!) details. Using OneNote or Evernote can help. Either allows you to capture and organize any files, notes, web sites, audio or hand written notes in one easy-to-learn interface. And with the mobile app, you can capture a to-do item or reminder at any time without the fear of losing it.

Topic Tech Tips
January 25th, 2012

The web and cloud computing is to storing and processing data what the electrical grid and electric company is to plugging in your coffee maker: a more convenient, more reliable and less expensive way to access the “computing power” and resources needed for the tools you use.

Traditional computer networks are undergoing the same technological revolution the one that altered our use of electric generators in the early 1900s.

During the industrial revolution, factories were required to produce their own electric power to operate the machines they used to produce their wares. In 1851, the man leading the pack was Henry Burden, an industrial giant who built the largest and most powerful electricity-generating water wheel in the world. At top speed this 600 foot, 250 ton machine could produce 500 horsepower, generating enough electricity to power the tools in his factory. This invention made Burden a very powerful and wealthy man.

Fast Forward 50 Years…

However, by the early years of the twentieth century, this once-world class, cutting edge technology was abandoned, left to rust in a field of overgrown grass. Why? Because Thomas Edison and his Pearl Street electricity generating station had realized the concept of providing electricity as a utility. . It caught on like wild fire because it eliminated the large cost and complexity of running a factory, and within a very short period of time it became a competitive necessity for factories to tap into the cheaper electrical grid instead of produce their own electricity.

The Same Technological Revolution Is Happening Today With Cloud Computing

If you think about it, there’s a good chance that MOST of the software applications you use every day are SaaS applications, or “software as a service.” In other words, you don’t have to install it on your server or PC – you simply access it as a pay-as-you-go model for only the licenses, space and features you use. This gives you, the user, the ability to access highly sophisticated software and functionality at a fraction of the cost – or even for free – and without long-term commitments.

For example, Google is a massive, free cloud application – the power required to search billions of web sites and content in seconds and deliver the relevant results to your screen far exceeds the capacity of your PC. Facebook is another free cloud application that allows you to post pictures, play games, and connect with your friends in real time without having to install those applications on your computer. Of course, there are also the applications such as Salesforce, Constant Contact, Zoomerang, etc., that you pay to use..

With the introduction of cloud-based office applications like Office 365, Google Apps and thousands of other SaaS applications, it’s becoming unnecessary for some businesses to purchase and maintain an onsite server. Now we can host one or more of your applications, data, e-mail and other functions “in the cloud.” That simply means it’s stored offsite in a highly secure, high-availability “utility” company that has far more power and resources than you could ever logically have onsite as a small business. And with devices getting cheaper and Internet connectivity exploding, cloud computing is suddenly a very smart, viable option for small business owners.

What Are The Benefits?

  • Eliminates the need for expensive server upgrades and allows you to use cheaper devices (PCs, etc.) to get the same work done.
  • Frees you to access applications from any device and any location. All you need is an Internet connection.
  • Built-in disaster recovery and business continuity.
  • Only pay for what you need and use (utility pricing).

Is Cloud Computing Right For You?

While there are a ton of benefits to cloud computing, it’s NOT right for every company. Some applications don’t play well in the cloud. You need commercial-grade Internet connectivity, and some functions, like working with big graphics files, are better kept local or the slowness will make you crazy. However, in almost every case, parts of your computer network (functions) can easily be put in the cloud to save you money and give you better service. So before you donate your server and sign up for Google Apps or Office 365, it’s important you talk to someone who can honestly assess your unique situation and tell you the pros and cons of making the switch to cloud computing.

That’s why we’re offing all clients a FREE Cloud Readiness Assessment. At no cost or obligation, we’ll come to your office and conduct a complete review of your computer network, data, software, hardware and how you work. From there, we can provide you with insights and helpful answers as to how you might benefit from cloud computing. To claim your free Cloud Readiness Assessment, visit our website at www.pcmiracles.com or give us a call at 248-620-2201. Offer ends 1/31/12.

November 28th, 2011

Here are a few simple things you can do to prevent your server and network equipment from overheating and crashing:

  1. If you have more than one server, arrange them in a row so that the cold air comes from the front and is expelled out the back.
  2. Keep the doors to the server room closed and seal off the space.
  3. Make sure cold air reaches all the equipment
  4. Have a redundant A/C that is specifically designed for computers.
  5. Buy a rack enclosure where the cooling is built in to the bottom of the rack.
  6. Keep the temperature at no more than 77 degrees.
  7. Use blanking panels over any empty spaces on your server rack.
  8. Consider virtualization or hosting in a cloud environment so you are generating a lower amount of heat in the first place.