What On Earth Is "The Cloud?"
Written by Jay Petersen, Head Geek In Charge
Monday, 19 September 2011 11:25
I’m getting this question a LOT.
“The Cloud, Jay…what is ‘The Cloud.’”
“Jay, what’s all this about ‘to The Cloud’ and that stuff?” "And what do you, as a computer repair person and IT consultant in Fresno, CA know about it?"
Discussions about so-called “cloud technologies” and “cloud-based
applications” and just “The Cloud” in general are really getting to the point
where I think a lot of people are referencing “The Cloud” and not really
understanding how it applies to real life scenarios and what it means,
specifically for their businesses.
Before I get into all kinds of specifics, maybe I’d better
do my best to clue you in on what “The Cloud” is and what “Cloud” means. Simply put, “The Cloud” is the Internet. It’s what network administrators refer to as
“out there,” meaning, “the network of computers outside your organization”
versus the network of computers “in here” or “inside your organization.” Really, The Cloud is the Internet.
“Ohhhhhh!” you exclaim.
“So what’s the big deal? The
Internet has been around for a long time now.
Who cares?” A fair enough
question, so here’s the big deal. A lot
of software providers are moving to only
offering their stuff online. And I’m
not just talking about purchasing it
online, I mean that you can only access it with your web browser (Internet
Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc.). That
means no software to install, no software to patch, no software to upgrade or
get corrupted, and you can access your software from any computer with an
The argument is that you never have to worry about having
the latest version of the software again.
It’s always being updated, always the same for every user and always has
the same features as the guy next to you, regardless of when you started using
Have you ever been working in your office, and you have an
outdated version of say, Microsoft Word, but the other guy across the way has
the most up-to-date version? Or maybe
you’re the up-to-date one and it’s the other person complaining. What happens when the person with the “latest
and greatest” tries to send you a file?
You can’t open it, can you? Or it
looks funny or it’s formatted weird.
What about if they use fonts that you don’t? Same thing, right? The solution is for everybody to use the same
version of the software. Which means
upgrading everybody on a regular basis, and we know every company does that,
don’t we? Wrong. That’s one of the major benefits of using an
Internet based or “Cloud” version of the software, is that everyone is using
the same version at all times.
So, how do these guys make money? Well, they get you for a monthly fee for the
rest of your life. You end up paying for
the software like a utility (kind of like your phone bill, your gas bill,
electricity, etc.) instead of making a lump sum purchase every so often. And the software manufacturers have
discovered they will make a LOT more money off of you by getting you to
subscribe to their software than by purchasing a license and waiting until the
last minute to buy a new version.
So how does Microsoft get you? They get you to subscribe to Microsoft Office
365, at anywhere from $6.00 to $40.00 per month per user. They make it very affordable to get into the
software, but then they keep you on it for the rest of your life.
Is anyone out there using Microsoft Office 2003 still? Don’t lie to me, because I’ve been to your
offices and I know what you’re running.
Well, Office 2003 is eight years old now, but it still works great. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have upgraded by
now – you should have done that about 4 years ago. But 2003 still does what you need it to
do. So let’s do the math, assuming 3
users using Office Basic.
3 users x $200.00 per license = $600.00
over 8 years.
Purchasing Office 365:
3 users x $6.00 per user per month = $18.00 per month over 8 years = $1,728.00!!!
No wonder they’re trying to convince
everybody to move to “The Cloud!” That’s
an additional 188% to their bottom line for the same 3 users! And even you HAD moved to Office 2007 when it
was time, you still would have paid 44% more than if you had bought the
You COULD use Google Apps at $5.00 per user per month, but
they don’t have an offline mode, so you can ONLY modify documents you’ve
created if you’re connected to the Internet.
Office 365 allows you to modify your stuff offline and then synchronize
once you’re connected.
Short term low cash outlay; always up-to-date; lower maintenance cost.
Higher total cost of ownership for the software itself; many times not
available unless you are connected to the internet; many times minimal tech
support (email or online only).
Still, for a LOT of companies, moving to cloud based
software is a HUGE benefit. I’ll focus
on the benefits on my next article, but for now, let’s just say we should
probably get together and discuss how your business works and what technology
and software is “out there” to help your business.
Keep an eye out for my “Business Technology”
workshop series, and register early. We
talk about a lot of different technologies and how they can improve your bottom
line. The key is finding a responsible,
knowledgeable firm to work with to help you incorporate these things, rather
than wasting time and large amounts of money figuring it out on your own. Please – when you start to investigate this
stuff, CALL US AND LET US ADVISE YOU. It
is money well spent, believe me.
Think Your Tape Drive Is A Smart Way To Back Up Your Data?
Written by Jay Petersen, Head Geek In Charge
Monday, 16 May 2011 14:07
You won't after reading this!
FACT #1: The average failure rate of disk and tape drives is 100%! Incredible, isn’t it? Most people don’t realize that ALL tape drives fail at some point. But what’s really dangerous is that most companies don’t realize that their tape drives have failed until after they try to recover the data stored on them. Only then do they realize that the backups stopped working long ago or that the data is corrupt and can’t be restored.
FACT #2: Having a copy of your data on a tape backup or in some other format does NOT – and I repeat does NOT – guarantee a fast recovery of your data or network. Most people don’t realize that a data backup doesn’t include all your software and settings. If you had to restore your server using your backup data, you would first have to re-install all your software programs and configure the settings. Only then could you install all the data – the entire process can easily take several days.
FACT #3: If you keep your backup onsite, it could be worthless to you in the event of a fire, flood or even a power surge. Smart business owners ALWAYS keep an offsite copy of their data.
Free Report Gives You Additional Facts, Information And Smart Advice On Data Backup
If your data is important to your business and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for days – even weeks – due to data loss or corruption, then you need to read this report and act on it. This report will outline the most common and costly mistakes that small business owners make with their data backups. You’ll discover:
- What remote, offsite or managed backups are, and why EVERY business should have them in place.
- 7 critical characteristics you should absolutely demand from any remote backup service; do NOT trust your data to anyone who does not meet these criteria.
- How tape backups fail and give you a false sense of security.
- Frightening trends, cases and questions every business owner should know and consider regarding data security.
- The single most important thing to look for in a remote backup service provider.
Call For A Free Copy Now At: (559) 485-GEEK
Free Report Reveals 12 Little-Known Facts and Insider Secrets Every Business Owner Should Know About Backing Up Their Data and Choosing a Remote Backup Service
If your data is important to your business and you cannot afford to have your operations halted for days – even weeks – due to data loss or corruption, then you need to read this report and act on the information shared.
Secure Your FREE Copy Now:
Call: 559-485-GEEK (4335)
Blogging Is Hard
Written by Jay Petersen, Head Geek In Charge
Monday, 09 May 2011 09:44
| Getting off your proverbial duff and writing a blog is hard. I get it. I'm an offender. I haven't updated my blog as regularly as I preach, and I certainly will back burner the discipline for more "important" or "pressing" issues. It's hard to blog. Especially if you don't enjoy writing. Especially if you don't enjoy getting up before you have "other things to do." Especially if you're a parent. Especially if you're a small business owner. Especially if you're short-handed. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...etc.
Here's the hard, cold, truth. Blogging is good for your web site's health, just like good exercise and a proper diet are good for your personal health. And, just like diet and exercise, it's hard to stay motivated. This is especially true if you don't have any good role models, or you're not surrounded by hard core bloggers all day long.
Putting off your blog is one of the worst things you can do. The Internet is a "right-now" media. If you are not writing your blog "right now" you just missed your window for staying relevant. That is to say, you shouldn't wait to begin writing your blog.
Here's a HUGE reason to write your blog daily - IT HELPS YOUR SEARCH ENGINE RANKING! The trick is to pepper your blog entries with the search engine keywords most used by your customers. That's why you'll find me mentioning computer repair in Fresno, CA or network repair in Clovis, CA, or maybe even website administration in the Central Valley. It all helps my search engine ranking.
There are a LOT of other things you should be doing, but writing your blog is one you should be doing all the time.
Here are some tips to help you with your blog writing:
1.) Create themes for each day of the week. If you own a restaurant, maybe Monday's theme is always, "How to get great service at a restaurant," and Tuesday's theme is "Tips for cooking the perfect steak at home," and Wednesday's theme is, "Great deals." Get the drift?
2.) Make yourself do your blogging at a specific time each day. Even if it's just for a few minutes, even just a paragraph, make sure you write something in your blog.
3.) Be sure that same time each day is a time you will stick to, and will not interfere with your other activities. In fact, put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door and don't take any phone calls for 15 minutes. Gain control of this time.
4.) Maintain a positive attitude. Being grumpy or a sour puss won't get the blog written. Tell yourself, "I can commit to 15 minutes." Commit to however long you're able to commit, and not a minute more.
You'll feel better about yourself, and you're search engine rankings will thank you. And don't forget, just like a good diet, you'll see results over time, not instantaneously. Keep at it, and you'll soon be blogging with the best of them.
Email Etiquette Will Win You Friends at Work
Written by Jay Petersen, Head Geek In Charge
Thursday, 05 May 2011 15:54
| The computer repair business means dealing with people. I get that. After all, it's people that have problems with machines, not the other way around. And while all of us here at The Geeks are used to that, it seems a few of our clients have gotten used to NOT having to deal with people. It appears that everybody, (even in good old friendly Fresno and Clovis, CA) is getting more and more impatient with each other.
This leads me to an observation about email. More and more people are using email and other electronic communications means as a way to keep from interacting with each other personally. It's like we've all become a bit more antisocial because of the convenience of typing up our requests and hitting "SEND" instead of actually getting involved with one other face-to-face (or even ear-to-ear by telephone!).
One of the first problems is that they don't teach email etiquette in schools. Electronic communication is such a basic part of business life; you'd think that email standards instruction would be a no-brainer. I mean, it isn't like it would take much more to communicate these standards than it does to communicate other basics of English composition, right? What I'm saying is, it isn't your fault nobody knows how to write an email - teachers never taught any of us properly, so we've been left to figure things out for ourselves. Blame your high school English Comp teacher. She was mean anyway.
Well, now that we're adults and we're responsible for ourselves, we have to realize that in order to make our emails better, we're going to have to stop making up the rules as we go along and follow some basic rules of thumb. We have to do this for one major reason - TO KEEP PEOPLE FROM WANTING TO SKIN US EVERY TIME THEY SEE US. Yes, folks, writing emails properly will win you friends and influence people.Here are some email rules to keep in mind:
1. Use sentence case. USING ALL CAPITAL LETTERS LOOKS AS IF YOU'RE SHOUTING. Using all lowercase letters looks lazy. Using capitals at the beginning of sentences, capitalizing "I" instead of "i" when referring to yourself, and using case structure the way you were taught in school is just good business sense.
2. It's okay to be informal, but not sloppy. Maybe your business and your coworkers use abbreviations from time to time, but when you're communicating with clients, you should be using a standard writing protocol. Your emails reflect your company (and YOU!) and nothing erodes your reputation like your incapacity to form a sentence. So pay attention to your grammar, spelling and punctuation. Put those rules Mrs. Smith taught you into effect!
3. Get to the point. You can be grammatically correct without being a windbag. Long emails just make your reader angry if that message is twice as long as it should be. Concentrate on what's relevant without putting in all the fluff.
4. Don't use email as an excuse to avoid personal contact. Don't forget that there is no substitute for a drop by the cubicle or a phone call. You can get a lot more done if you can hear someone's tone of voice. While we're at it, don't use email to communicate really personal or emotional subject matter. First, this is your company's time, so personal stuff should be kept personal. Second, emotional messages get lost in translation with email, and are best handled person-to-person. Avoid the annoyed "Well I sent you an email."
5. Use CC: and BCC: appropriately. Don't overuse CC:. It clutters up inboxes. Only CC: somebody if that person is directly involved in the conversation. Use BCC: if you're sending an email to a larger list, so recipients don't have to fuss with a big list of names.
6. Group email is sometimes useful, but mostly annoying. Only send group email if it's relevant to every recipient. Use the "reply all" button only if you have something important to add. Recipients get really annoyed when they open an email that merely says "Got it!" or "See you there!"
7. Remember that email isn't private. Face it - people get fired for their inappropriate use of email or company messaging. Email is considered company property and can be retrieved, examined, and used in a court of law. I know - I've helped many lawyers retrieve this info for legal matters. Even with encryption, just assume email over the Internet is not secure. Never put in an e-mail message anything that you wouldn't want seen by the general public. Email can be forwarded, so someone else might see what you've written. Don't count out the fact that you might "fat-finger" an email and send it to the wrong person. Uh oh! Was it the person you were just throwing under the bus! Oops!
8. Use the subject field to indicate content and purpose. Don't just say, "Hi!" or "From Tina." Worse yet, don't just leave the subject line blank! Use a subject that will allow the reader to quickly scan his or her email box to find the email that is needed. This will also win you friends around the office because your recipients will know that you care about their having to open up every email to see what it was about!
9. Tone-of-voice can't be heard in e-mail. Ever written a sarcastic email that someone took the wrong way? I have. Even when you use the little emoticons like ;-) or :-P you'll start really appearing unprofessional. A smiley face won't make things all better when you joke about what a slobbering drunk the recipient was at the company party.
10. Don't send chain letters, virus warnings, jokes or junk. Check with your IT firm (hopefully that's us!) and make sure the virus warning you just got is legitimate. We get this stuff from well-meaning clients all the time, but better than 90% of the time it's some false alarm that has been going around the Net for years and crops up every so often. Keep jokes to yourself and if your coworker is always sending them, ask politely for them to remove you from their list or send it to your personal email. And if you're sending chain letters, you're just a jackass. Stop it. Internet voodoo never works anyway. Why do you think Bill Gates is still alive?
11. Use a signature that includes contact information. To ensure that people know who you are, include a signature that has your contact information, including your mailing address, Web site, and phone numbers.
a. DO use graphics in signatures for initial contact.
b. DO use shorter signatures for replies.
c. Name, Email, Phone
f. DO NOT use graphics in reply signatures.
g. DO NOT use long signatures for replies.
With these rules in mind, you too can be the life of the email party, win friends, influence people, and write the documentation on proper communication for your company handbook. Maybe the boss will reward you with some E-tickets to your favorite show or sporting event! Just make sure you get the email!
You Will Inherit A Large Sum of Money
Written by Jay Petersen
Tuesday, 01 February 2011 09:13
I received this fortune cookie following this week's lunch visit to the Chinese food place up the street (The Golden, in Tower District - best chow mein in town!), and at first I became very excited.
YOU WILL INHERIT A LARGE SUM OF MONEY
Joy! Huzzah! and Hurray!
How much would it be??
How long would I have to wait?
Would it be cash? stocks? bonds? policies? ownership in a gold mine?
And then, as I looked down at this fortune, I started to become sad.
I became sad, because, as the fortune cookie foretold, I would soon be losing a very rich relative.
I must be close to this person, otherwise why would I be inheriting anything? I mean, I began pondering and pondering, and wondering who, from my long long list of rich relatives, would be the next to keel over?
And then, it hit me. I don't have a long list of rich relatives. All of my relatives are quite middle class. Plus, they're mortgaged out just like most everybody in the middle class. So that means, if I inherit a large sum of money, I'll probably inherit a large sum of debt too.
"Great!" I thought to myself. "Now I have to clean up one of my relatives' post mortem finances." And I became very angry.
So here I am, sitting over an otherwise pleasant meal, starting at my gone-cold-cup-of-green-tea and two fork-full's of broccoli beef and a bill for $27.00, wondering how my life could get much worse.
All at once, however, relief began to wash over me. A smile appeared on my face and my relief turned to a pure sense of gratitude. My shoulders began to relax, and suddenly I began to laugh out loud, right there in the middle of the Chinese food place. It was a deep chortle at first, and then it was full on, tear-filled hysteria. The other patrons began to stare, and one woman reached into her purse and dialed what I suspect were the numbers 9-1....as she waited to see if I would pull an automatic weapon from inside my sport coat.
You see, I had never paid $27.00 for a lunch special in my entire life...much less here. The Golden is known for its high quality food, appropriate decor, and excellent value. Only a mad man would pay $27.00 for a plate of noodles, especially during the noon hour! This became the basis for my relief - for I had, quite clearly received some other poor sap's bill, and along with it, HIS fortune cookie, and along with that HIS fortune!
"God IS merciful..." I said to myself, as I stood on the booth bench and began my declaration to the onlooking noodle-gobblers.
"I don't know which one of you poor unfortunates spent 27 bucks on some orange chicken, special chow mein, and a couple of Tsing Tao's, but whoever you are, I just read your fortune - and you're pretty much screwed!" I shouted. The look of nervousness spread throughout the establishment as they all tried to determine who the unlucky schmo might be.
I descended from my perch, put on my derby and my scarf, and left a crisp $10.00 bill on the counter as I was accustomed to, leaving there that day with a new spring in my step. If I was going to come into big bucks, I could think of no worse way to ruin me than with a handout. I would EARN my large sum of money all by myself, thank you very much!