Printers in Space

The International Space Station is replacing its printer after 17 years in service.

Back in 2001, a couple of Epson 800 Inkjet printers were sent to the ISS. These printers have been used to print, on average, 1000 pages a month for the last 17 years. The printers are beginning to show their age and have reportedly been problematic for the last five or six years. 

HP, in conjunction with the ISS and NASA, have work-shopped, tested and developed a zero-gravity capable printer, with the ability to print no matter the orientation of the device itself. HP are looking to continue to outfit the ISS with printers for the next 10 years.

For the record, 10 years is an incredible amount of time for any printer to continue functioning without needing major repair.  You update your computer, tablet, and smartphone every few years to keep up with new technology, so why should your printer be any different? We'd recommend doing some research every 3-5 years to consider whether your printer is still able to tackle your workload and meet your needs – it’s possible your print needs have evolved, and you may just need a new printer that can keep up.  This is something a good managed IT department should already be on top of.

For more on HP's work to support the ISS, read here: https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/02/iss-new-hp-printer/

 

Keeping Your Technology Lean and Green

Recycling old hardware isn’t enough. Green tech policies are intended to mitigate or reverse the effects of human activity on the environment. This means approaching design and process from an environmentally conscious perspective. 

Take a close look at daily operations like printing policies, file sharing and securing data and change them to be cost-saving and energy reducing.

One of the easiest policies to adopt is reducing paper usage in the office to the bare minimum.  This can decrease waste and increase savings to the tune of roughly 10,000 sheets of paper per worker per year!  For documents that must be printed, the vast majority can be shredded and recycled.

Next, consider how your data and documents are stored. Paper-based forms are time-consuming, expensive, and easily lost. Electronic forms can save you time and paper as well as reducing storage and shipping costs.

Use scanners and cloud storage for archiving old documents.  Not only are electronic filing systems easier for multiple employees to access, they mean savings in your budgets for office equipment like fax machines or filing cabinets.

Going paperless is a good first step, but there are also energy-efficient hardware solutions.

Even servers can be updated to save space and energy through a process called virtualization. Several virtual servers can run on a single physical server at a fraction of what it would cost to purchase and maintain the same number of physical machines.

Another energy conscious option is to use a terminal server and “thin” clients. A terminal server is a network device that enables multiple connections to client systems, and “thin” clients are just what they sound like: lightweight computers purpose-built for accessing a terminal server which holds most of their computational power. The terminal server does all the “processing” while the thin clients require barely more power than a monitor to deliver necessary business functions. 

To explore more options for green IT options, contact us.

Should my business hire a technology management partner?

“Anything that is not managed will deteriorate”

–Bob Parsons, American entrepreneur, billionaire and founder of GoDaddy

The most important difference between outsourced technology management and hiring an in-house “tech guru” is the bandwidth each has available to correct little issues, so they never become big, expensive issues.  Technology changes quickly, so any employee charged with long-term network management needs to balance daily check-ups with pro-active maintenance and preventative care.

Unfortunately, we tend to see more technology problems in businesses utilizing a single employee to manage their network.  It could be that small businesses try to do everything themselves in the hopes they’ll save money and complexity.  In reality, the opposite is true.  When an entire network is managed by one person, the health of each part of the network is very dependent on that person’s mindset, availability, and areas of expertise. 

So, what happens when your tech person just isn’t meeting your needs anymore?

Gregg Landers, director of growth management at CBIZ MHM, a large accounting and business services provider, recommends outsourcing IT.  He outlines three categories of tasks that are better outsourced:

·       Specialized knowledge. "An example might be the IT support for your accounting system or your network. You may not be able to afford or need a full-time IT person, and it is easier to change to an outsourced provider with the right skill set as your IT needs change."

·       Highly skilled, or executive, expertise. “For example, you may not need to pay a CFO's salary, but you could have a CFO-level person to come in a few times each month to provide financial analysis and ensure that the bookkeeper is handling the books well”

·       Highly repetitive tasks. “Accounts payable, data entry and shipping inventory could fall into this category.”

Finding the Right Technology Provider

Before handing over the reins to your network, be sure you're working with the right partner. Consider how long they’ve been proactively managing hardware, software, and IT budgets for a business your size.  Find out where their help desk and remote support are located and how easy it is to access these services. 

Even more importantly, find out how available they are for onsite support, and for consulting with you on where the business is headed and how to leverage your technology to get there.  It may be a good idea to interview a couple of technology providers before deciding on which is the right fit for your company. Start with your own business network; ask other presidents, CEO’s and principals who they trust to manage technology issues and find out how long they’ve been with that provider.

From our perspective, there’s nothing more rewarding than helping a business double in size over five years by keeping their technology costs predictable and issues to a minimum.  If you have additional questions about how to manage your technology network responsibly, visit us at www.myzenit.com

Technology Costs: More Like Your Vehicles than Your Office Furniture

For vehicles driven 15,000 miles a year, average ownership costs added up to about $706 a month or $8,469 a year in 2017, according to AAA. This study didn’t include fuel or the monthly car payment, only the cost of interest on that loan. If you’re a business owning five or more vehicles, that’s closer to $43,000 a year.

Just like the cost of transportation includes more than the sum of each SUV’s sticker price, the cost of business technology includes much more than the cost of new machines.  There are initial, ongoing, direct and indirect costs.  Gartner, Inc. defines the total cost of ownership (TCO) as the total cost of using and maintaining an IT investment over time.  Whether your business needs PCs, notebooks, tablets, servers or other network hardware, you will need to consider that a computer’s base price typically represents less than 20% of its TCO.  Technical support, maintenance, and labor costs account for the remaining 80%. 

How is that possible? 

A server or employee workstation is at least as complex as the average vehicle. Just like cars require regular oil changes, tire rotations, filter changes, etc.  Computers require constant configuring and maintenance.  Ongoing costs related to security measures, software updates, computer repair and general support are unavoidable.  Consider the case of an architecture firm hiring a new employee:

The initial investment in the desktop, monitor, and MS Office might start around $3,000.  If the employee stays with the company for four years, that firm will need to budget approximately $3,700 a year for software subscriptions to Autodesk, Sketchup, and Bluebeam plus a Cloud Storage solution at $80 per user per month, or $900 a year. That employee’s workstation and first year of productivity costs approximately 7,600.  Years two thru four cost closer to $3,700 per year since the company renews its software licenses and stores its data in the cloud. That still doesn’t account for the cost of maintaining the computer, or teaching the employee how to use it! We can estimate the cost of just maintenance at around one hour per machine per month, or an additional $1200 assuming $100/hr. for computer service.

A typical hardware lifecycle is about four years, the total cost of ownership (so far) for one employee workstation is $23,500 conservatively.  Now imagine this firm has 5 architects with the same setup.  That’s an investment of $117,500.  We haven’t accounted for any servers, printers, or other accessories yet.  It’s easy to see why this firm includes technology maintenance in its yearly IT budget.

In the above case, five workstations are being maintained proactively with patches, backups, and security checks, and a 24/7 helpdesk at a yearly cost of $9000. This same company used to pay between $150 and $200 per hour every time something needed attention and spent more than $9000 in the first 6 months of the year.

Don’t let tight budgets and limited expertise keep your organization from making effective IT decisions.  Understanding hidden technology costs can actually help you reduce unnecessary expenditures and allocate resources to more important business functions. 

ZenIT helps businesses simplify IT infrastructure and management processes, which will increase efficiency, expand productivity and significantly reduce the total cost of ownership for any business network.  For more information about what we do, contact us.

When your Tech Support Team includes those who Love Technology!

So what does it mean, when you have a problem, to be on the phone, or in an online conversation, or face to face with someone who loves technology?

First, realize that we who love technology have probably taken apart our own computers, laptops, phones, tablets to see how everything fitted together.  We are the ones who have pushed our computers to the ultimate performance.  We are the ones who crave to find just how much more we can get out of any technology platform, application, or program.

Second, realize that we who love technology have, in our explorations and tinkering, run into the same problems, made the same mistakes as you.  But because we love technology, we have worked and worked until we found the solutions to the many problems we had; and can share that experience to help address your problems.

Last, when you invite someone who loves technology in to help you with your technology issue, concern or problem, you are inviting that person to once again engage in the subject, the actions that they dearly love and over which they are passionate.

Think about this the next time you need tech support.  Do you want a person just holding down a job or just answering a phone; or do you want someone who loves technology and just waits for the opportunity to make that technology work better for you?

ZenIT loves Technology and we love seeing our customers succeed.

My Bank Never Asks for my Password! What's Up?

Spoofing an email address is pretty easy, and there are multiple ways to do this that require little to no technological savvy.

That email you got last week from BillMasterson@mybank.com most likely wasn’t from Bill the Bank Manager himself, more than likely the email address was spoofed. Since the most common vector for malware infection is now a carefully crafted, spoofed phishing email, how is a user to spot these fake email threats?

Resort to common sense first. Often a spoofed email will contain a request for a wire transfer, or an ‘unpaid invoice’ of some sort. Many times it is just a seemingly harmless link to a Dropbox file with a funny name.

Is your bank really going to send you an attached PDF transfer order when you don't usually transfer money? Of course not – resist opening the attachment!

 Is your Facebook friend with the hotmail address really going to send you an urgent appeal with a goofy link that doesn't seem to go to a relevant website? Maybe so – refrain from clicking the link and double-check with your friend! 

Other signs to look out for include different reply-to addresses, attachments with strange names, links in an email you weren’t expecting, and in general, anything that seems even slightly odd, including bad grammar and misspellings.

Another way to see if an email address is being spoofed is to check the header of the email itself. The header contains vital information that ensures the email gets where it needs to go successfully, as well as other components of the email.

Instructions for checking the email header in Google Webmail are here, for Microsoft Outlook click here; or you can analyze any email header here.

Are you worried about your employees’ email habits creating security risks for your business?  ZenIT can eliminate that worry.  We offer managed Network Security solutions starting at as little as $149 a month for up to 5 computers.  We also offer comprehensive managed service solutions including automated backup and workstation management as well as server maintenance.  We work with small and medium-sized businesses in the greater Austin area to eliminate security risks, optimize IT infrastructure and in general, build technology solutions for business harmony.

Contact us today for a free consultation and quote. www.myzenit.com.

 

 

 

Do you run WordPress? If so, you better run to Update it!

Millions of websites running WordPress are being strongly urged to update to the latest version of the popular content management system as soon as possible, after a serious security vulnerability was uncovered.  The vulnerability is a SQL-Injection is still an issue for all versions of Wordpress 4.8.2 and older.   

The newest version 4.8.3 plugs that SQL-Injection hole.

Do not assume that since your website is signed up for automatic updates that is indeed has been updated to the latest and the greatest.

If you are in doubt, contact your hosting company and ask; or if you host yourself, here is how to find out:

1.  Login to your admin area of your WordPress Site.

2. Look for the "Thanks for creating with Wordpress" line and next to it you will see the Wordpress version number.

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 2.00.09 PM.jpg

You can also go to your website and look at the "readme.html" page.  This should also show your version number.

Http://www.example.com/readme.html.

wordpress-version-readme-html.png

 

If you need additional instructions on how to install a new update for Wordpress, you can find it here.

https://codex.wordpress.org/Updating_WordPress


Are you worried about your network security or data storage solutions? ZenIT Offers file management and data security plans that flex to accommodate business growth. Contact us to learn more.

 

What is wrong with this picture?

Sometimes security isn't about just how data is stored, backed up, transmitted or received.  In fact the majority of data breaches happen because the worker does not follow their security policies in their offices and cubicles and common work areas.

The most common points of physical data security failure include the following:

1.  Having passwords written and posted somewhere in a personal or public workspace.

2.  Having physical business mail accessible to the public.

3.  Client data left on fax machines, copiers, and printers which are accessible to the public.

So with this in mind, when you look at the picture below, you tell us what is wrong with this picture.

What is Wrong with this Picture.jpg

ZenIT offers managed, automated, secure file backup for small businesses starting at as little as $150 per month for up to 5 machines.  We offer file management and data security plans that flex to accommodate business growth and infrastructure changes.  Contact us to learn more:

https://www.myzenit.com/contact/

        

 

Reducing the Risk of File Loss

When working on files, especially in a Server environment, it’s not uncommon to open the file you’re working on directly from the server. This is not always the best practice if the file server is overburdened, or if the document is prone to instability, as this increases the risk for file loss or corruption.

If you are working on large design files of more than several hundred megabytes in a Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Quark Xpress, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Publisher, Autodesk AutoCAD, Autodesk Revit, or other disk intensive software, working on a local copy is recommended. Indesign, AutoCAD, Powerpoint and other complex document creators can build a file that is “unstable,” and a font, linked or embedded graphic can cause the document to crash frequently, leading to corruption and lost work. Saving multiple revisions locally allows you to “wind back the clock” and discover what the bad element could be. 

While working on your local copy, we recommend saving every 15 minutes during periods of heavy productivity. This means you will have the most current copy on your machine, and an older known good copy on the server. Working this way reduces the I/O load on the server and the network as a whole, and gives the program the fastest performance possible.

Rename the file every few saves using filename shorthand so you can keep track, and save the end of the day’s version the server so nightly server backups will capture daily versions.

Big_Client_Project_110817_v1

Big_Client_Project_110817_v2

Big_Client_Project_110817_v3 ->Save to server

Big_Client_Project_110917_v1

Big_Client_Project_110917_v2 ->Save to server

Big_Client_Project_111117_v1

Big_Client_Project_111117_v2, etc.

Of course, saving files locally does present risk if you don’t put versions back on the server and don’t have a local backup, but such limitations should be taken into account for any and all workflows.

ZenIT offers managed, automated, secure document backup for small businesses starting at as little as $150 per month for up to 5 machines.  We offer file management and data security plans that flex to accommodate business growth and infrastructure changes.  Contact us to learn more:

https://www.myzenit.com/contact/