MDL Technology reviews disaster recovery planning
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Posted By T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology
Tornado season is here and if you are a business owner or IT professional without a disaster recovery plan, your company runs the risk of losing its data, thousands of dollars in irrecoverable revenue or even going out of business. Here are some quick tips from Business2Community.com about disaster recovery planning:
By Matthew Ramsey
The survival of your enterprise depends heavily on an IT disaster recovery plan. Companies weather all sorts of difficulties, from a slow economy to staffing troubles to market fluctuations. A disaster is one thing that can put the breaks on hard; potentially no part of your organization will survive without a plan. While a comprehensive initiative set up beforehand can be effective, the days and months following an event can be a time of reflection and forward looking.
A hard look at your best practices involves several steps. Depending on how the plan worked, you might find your IT teams, management, and executives starting from scratch. Supposing you need to completely revamp the enterprise’s disaster recovery plan. It could be as tough as the initial migration to the cloud. There are a few best practices to follow to get the ball rolling before the next challenge emerges:
- Start reviewing every detail of the previous disaster recovery plan. The basics can easily be arranged into a checklist. Get all stakeholders in your IT department to discuss elements such as data backups, server locations, telephone systems, and other network infrastructure. Address how prepared these systems are whether they are at the main facility or located off-site. Extended periods of no power are possible with any disaster, so it’s important to fill loopholes making your business vulnerable.
- After a disaster, you should thoroughly document what occurred as a result, but also before and during the event. An outline of backups performance and the quality of system reboots will help your teams conduct a full assessment. Ongoing health checks provide details on performance issues. Also, any documentation on these aspects should include the structure of communications with stakeholders, vendors, carriers, and customers.
- If your organization is like many, consolidation may have come into the picture recently. Redundancy, however, can save your business from failure, especially when a virtualized network allows employees, managers, and valuable IT staff to work from home or in another location. A multi-vendor approach to cloud, voice, and data infrastructure also helps to protect your business. If you haven’t implemented these, starting from scratch will likely make you reconsider.
- Incorporate all departments into the planning process. Sure, IT needs to be in there, plus management and accounting. Often left out is the human resources department. Revamping your plan to be most efficient may require a look at how employees will be fed, be transported to the office, or how they will access the network.
- Testing is what makes disaster recovery plans most effective. If you are indeed starting from scratch, do not leave anything out. Servers, power supplies, generators, and communication systems should be subject to test runs sooner than later. Any operational issues can be isolated and corrected with enough time to spare before the next storm or other disaster hits.
Depending on the type of disaster, the effects may be different. These consequences should be incorporated into a disaster recovery plan assessment as well. Hurricanes are much different from fires, for example. Regardless, do not become complacent at any stage because the very survival of your enterprise is at stake without a rebooted IT disaster recovery plan.
Do you need help recovering from a data disaster? Give MDL Technology a call today at 816-781-3006.
Let Your Computer Relax! Happy National Stress Awareness Month from MDL Technology!
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
Your computer or laptop carries a heavy burden, from emails to work documents, each day is very stressful for the system to operate quickly and run well. If you’re a business owner, CIO, CTO or IT professional, you probably run the risk of making significant investments in your IT infrastructure such as buying new computers year-over-year. Well, the good news is that you can take some steps to de-stress your computers at work by following some of these easy, low-maintenance steps provided by Gear Burn.
So let your computer relax in honor of National Stress Awareness Month. Don’t forget to call MDL Technology 816-781-3006, if you need extra help de-stressing any of your computers or even your IT department.
By Angela Freeman
The death of your PC or laptop may be closer than you think, especially if you’re guilty of not taking proper care of your precious portal to the internet. Computers need loving care and bad user habits are the top reason they go to tech heaven. Are you guilty of these nine bad habits?
1. ALWAYS USING SLEEP MODE
Many PCs and laptops have a sleep mode where after a set time limit, the screen goes dark and your machine seems peaceful and relaxed. Unfortunately, sleep mode still uses electricity so your computer isn’t really “off.” Rather follow the steps to turn off your machine and then perform a cold boot when it’s time for use again. Furthermore, if you always rely on the sleep mode, your computer never gains the chance to reboot (a necessary option for updates).
2. SKIPPING THE UPDATES
Speaking of updates, you need to allow your operating system to reboot and update. It’s true that you can change the options for automatic reboots for updates or choose to ignore them altogether. But doing so can cause conflicts with websites, email and web pages you often visit. It may also make it difficult to download images or documents. Update when urged to do so and avoid unforeseen problems. Some software updates like those from Adobe and Flash are necessary to ensure viewing of certain sites or documents.
3. YOU BELIEVE EVERY EMAIL IS SAFE
We’re “blessed” with an internet full of hackers and spammers. Check out your inbox’s spam folder and you’ll get the idea. It’s just too easy to get a million dollars from Nigeria. Or, worse, you open an official-looking email from a website you trust and use, complete the instructions and find you’ve been hacked. Avoid this by never opening emails or email attachments from senders you don’t recognize. Read commonly used website policies on how they contact you. If you have been hacked, use your anti-virus or security software to help you find, quarantine and delete any malware.
4. YOU ONLY USE ONE BACKUP OPTION
Whether you use a DVD, external hard drive or thumb drive, you shouldn’t rely on just one backup option. All of these backup devices may get damaged. Remember to keep your backup solutions in a safe place and pay attention to manufacturer storage directions including recommended storage temperatures. Do use these (or a combination of them) but also look into cloud backup services from Google or affordable cloud storage offerings from places like Carbonite.
5. NEVER MAINTAINING YOUR COMPUTER
If you’re a laptop user who consistently leaves your computer on a dusty floor, allowing it to mix with hair and dust, never checking the fan or ignoring overheating or weird sounds, you’re probably not performing computer maintenance. Every PC or laptop manual (online, CD, DVD or booklet) has manufacturer maintenance suggestions. Find them and follow them. If you’ve lost your manual, you can find it online via your laptop manufacturer. These manuals will also tell you how to check your fan for blockage and how to clean your laptop or PC screen safely. Failing that, for every problem you’ve ever had on a computer, there’s a forum thread about it. Go into the forums and see what the community has to say about your computer’s issue.
6. YOU’RE SKIPPING THE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE
Just because you have a secure internet connection doesn’t mean that your PC or laptop is safe from malware, virus, worms and spyware. Most PCs and laptops come with preloaded security (anti-virus) software but many of these are in the form of a trial period which means you need to renew these or find a different solution. If you can’t afford the anti-virus software renewal, CNET offers free and safe anti-virus download for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Also, it’s never recommended to turn off your firewall for any reason.
7. DON’T MAKE OFFICE PCS AND LAPTOPS YOUR PROBLEM
Most of us utilise a PC or laptop at work and our employers pay well for IT and network support. If you find an issue with your work computer and ignore it, that doesn’t mean it will go away. Report any issues (online or offline) you experience with work computers to your IT personnel or manager as soon as they appear. Treat your office computers as you would a home PC or laptop because you do need to rely on these machines each and every day.
8. YOUR PASSWORDS ARE POORLY SELECTED
There are a few common passwords people use all the time. What are they? Believe it or not, the most over-used are “password,” “qwerty” and “123456.” These are well-known by hackers, so choose passwords wisely with a mix of upper and lowercase, characters and numbers. It’s also not a good idea to use the same password for everything. Choose different passwords for online banking, social media and email, for example. Here’s the full list of the most common passwords used today.
9. YOU KEEP RARELY USED SOFTWARE
As we ride the information superhighway, we see all sorts of offers for cool software for just about everything. “Make templates and newsletters or create a legal document in three easy steps.” Or, a software package you purchased isn’t what you expected it to be, so you never use it. Uninstall old or barely used programs on a consistent basis and remove those that say “rarely used.” This will free up space on your laptop or PC. Never delete a program that may be required to operate your computer. If you don’t know what a program does, Google is your friend.
Being guilty of one of these nine bad habits that may be killing your computer are easily changed by setting up a computer management plan. Following these steps and obtaining the advice of IT professionals will save you time and keep your laptop or PC safe.
PCMag.com Reviews Best Holiday Technology Gifts: Electronics Will Account for 2/3 of Holiday Spending
Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Posted by: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology, LLC.
The holidays are just around the corner and trying to come up with the perfect gift can be a hassle, but one gift idea that you can’t go wrong with is a new electronic gadget. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, electronics will make up 2/3 of all holiday spending this year. Here is an article from PCMag.com about which technology gifts will be the most popular this year.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, two-thirds of all holiday spending will be on electronics, particularly wireless devices like tablets, laptops, and e-book readers. The average shopper will spend $246 on electronics, up 6 percent from last year.
Gift cards might seem like a rather impersonal selection, but what’s a Kindle without some e-books or an iPod touch with music? As a result, one in four shoppers plan to give gift cards for digital music, while one in three will opt for e-book gift cards.
What are some of the big-ticket items this holiday season? The just-released Apple iPhone 4S will likely be high on many peoples’ wish lists. But if Android is more your style, there is plenty to go around, from the Ice Cream Sandwich-enhanced Samsung Galaxy Nexus to the Motorola Droid RAZR and HTC Rezound.
Not surprisingly, the iPad will likely remain the most sought-after tablet his holiday season. A September report from Strategy Analytics found that the iPad has 80 percent market share in the United States. But if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, the Android-based Kindle Fire tablet from Amazon makes its debut on November 15 for $199, with a free month of Amazon Prime. Back in August, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps predicted that the Fire will be “the only credible iPad competitor in the market,” and the next few weeks will put that theory to the test.
Education Technology to Increase According to IT Directors: Schools Expected to Have Six Students Per iPad in Next Five Years
Friday, November 4th, 2011
Posted by: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology, LLC.
Mobile devices are becoming part of the standard classroom environment. If we continue to educate students on newer technology, classrooms will need to enhance their IT budget, support and even provide newer technologies. Here is an article from AppleInsider.com, written by Neil Hughes, that reviews IT directors’ thoughts on increased technology to educate.
A new survey of technology directors in U.S. school districts found that all of them are testing or deploying the iPad in schools, and they expect tablets to outnumber computers in the next five years.
Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray revealed the results of the small survey of 25 educational technology directors at a conference on the integration of technology in the classroom. The poll found that all of them were utilizing Apple’s iPad in schools, while none were testing or deploying Android-based tablets.
“While this may be expected due to limited availability of Android tablets early in the tablet cycle, we also see it as evidence of Apple’s first mover advantage,” Munster said. “We also see a trend in education (which is mirrored in the enterprise) that familiarity with Apple devices among students (or employees) is causing a demand pull within institutions to also provide Apple devices.”
IT directors who spoke with Piper Jaffray indicated that within the next five years, they expect to have more tablets per student than they currently have computers. And since the iPad represents 100 percent of tablets seen in schools, Munster said the word “tablet” might as well be synonymous with “iPad.”
He noted that Ron Johnson, Apple’s outgoing head of retail operations, recently indicated that the current crop of students may be “the last generation with backpacks,” as students use iPads to replace their books. The 25 technology decision makers in education indicated that devices like the iPad allow for individualized learning better than a traditional computer.
USAToday.com Reviews Best Halloween Mobile App Technology
Thursday, October 27th, 2011
Posted by: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology
Halloween is changing as we know it with the help of technology. Mobile apps such as Pumpkin Pal, which allows you to carve a virtual pumpkin, are making it easier to get in the Halloween spirit. Here is an article from USAToday.com on apps to make Halloween safer and more fun!
While these apps are certainly no replacement for an attentive — and physically present — parent, they can help provide ease of mind for those with trick-or-treaters old enough to venture out on their own.
An app for Android smartphones called Trick or Tracker, when installed on both a parent’s and teen’s smartphone, can keep the parent updated on the teen’s location.
The parent selects an interval of time — say, 15 minutes — and receives a text message as each interval passes with the kid’s location.
Parents can also set up a geo-fence and get an alert if the phone leaves a defined perimeter.
The information will, of course, be accurate only as long as the smartphone remains at the ghost or goblin’s side. A phone stashed in a neighbor’s mailbox will broadcast that same location for as long as it sits there.
The Trick or Tracker app costs $4.99 for each download and can be downloaded at www.trickortracker.com.
There are also some everyday apps that perform some of the same tasks and are free.
Apple’s iPhone 4S Becomes Best-Selling iPhone Ever: 4 Million Sold During First Week
Thursday, October 20th, 2011
Posted by: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology, LLC.
Apple introduced the world to the original iPhone in 2007 and since then people have been scrambling to get the latest and greatest versions of the smartphone. So is it surprising that in less than a week, Apple’s iPhone 4S has become Apple’s best-selling iPhone ever? Here is an article from www.pcmag.com about how the 4 million iPhone 4Ses have made Apple history.
Apple’s iPhone 4S has been unleashed, and it’s already a bona fide hit. We all knew this was going to happen (it’s an iPhone for crying out loud), but the magnitude of the success is unexpected, especially to those who were hoping for a full-fledged, completely redesigned iPhone 5.
Since its launch at 8 a.m. Friday, Apple has sold 4 million iPhone 4Ses (including preorders). That’s more than double the 1.7 million iPhone 4s Apple sold during the its first weekend that phone was available last year. The 95,000 Kindle Fires that Amazon is said to have sold on the first day of preorders looks like a pathetic drop in the bucket when put up against the iPhone 4S. Apple’s Phil Schiller is already calling it the best-selling phone ever, and he’s probably right.
Clearly, demand for the iPhone 4S is extremely high. But why? At launch, more than a few people called it a letdown (including me), since the form factor is almost identical to the iPhone 4, and many of the rumored features—like a bigger screen, NFC, and a tapered design—failed to appear. The new AT&T model doesn’t even have the HSPA+ 21 connection that was predicted.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think everybody’s running for the iPhone 4S because they want to get to know Siri, the much-buzzed-about voice-control app. As with most complicated events, the causes aren’t as simple as anyone one thing. Here’s how the iPhone 4S became one of the fastest-selling pieces of technology in history:
Carriers Matter: For the first time, an iPhone launched on no less than three U.S. carriers. Importantly, it was a new iPhone, with AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint all getting it at the same time. When Verizon iPhone 4 appeared earlier this year, it came mid-cycle, blunting its impact since everyone interested in buying one knew they could get something better if they just waited a little longer. Now that time has come, and the dam’s been burst. Getting the iPhone at the beginning of the product cycle is key to anyone who cares about upgrading year over year, and for the first time they can do it without shackling themselves to AT&T.
On top of that, we have the new species of Sprint iPhone. Sprint may be the third-tier carrier in the U.S., but it still has 52 million customers, and it’s the only carrier to offer true unlimited data for phones (we’ll see how long that lasts now that it has the iPhone, however). Sprint also came in first place when we asked readers which carrier they were choosing for the iPhone 4S. It’s pretty clear that Sprint’s contribution to those numbers was significant.
InformationWeek.com Reviews Mobile App Development for SMBs: 98 Billion Mobile Apps by 2015
Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
Posted by: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology, LLC.
Mobile app development has played a critical role in how companies reach out and connect with consumers. A recent study by Berg Insight estimated that by the end of 2015, there will be 98 billion mobile apps available, so making an app that stands out is a necessity, especially for small to midsize businesses (SMBs). Here is an article from InformationWeek.com that provides SMBs with tips on entering the mobile app development industry.
The apparently insatiable appetite for mobile apps presents small and midsize businesses (SMBs) with a big opportunity to connect with prospects and customers. But it’s far from an if-you-build-it-they-will-come proposition.
If you’re developing an app for smartphones and tablets, your potential audience is certainly huge. The world will have downloaded 98 billion mobile apps by the end of 2015, according to a recent estimate by telecom researcher Berg Insight. So how will your app stand out?
I turned to Appsbar founder Scott Hirsch for his thoughts on what goes into a good app. Appsbar is a free Web-based tool that enables SMBs to create mobile apps with no development know-how and publish them on the major marketplaces. Since its April launch, the service has signed up 35,000 users and launched 5,000 apps. Here is his advice for SMBs taking the app plunge for the first time–a leap he said should generate organizational excitement rather than fear.
1. Give it away. Unless you’re actually in the mobile development business, give your apps away for free. Treat them as a way to augment your business model rather than a business model itself.
“If you want to make the next Angry Birds or some unbelievable app that can coach a surgeon through brain surgery–absolutely, that should be charged for,” Hirsch said in an interview. “If you’re like most [companies] and you’re just looking to enhance your business and get into this app revolution, you’re better off not charging.”
2. Think beyond marketing. Marketing might be the most obvious business case to offer an app, but it’s far from the only one. Hirsch recommends SMBs consider functions such as market research, customer service, and customer relationship management (CRM), too. He also mentioned forms–as in mobile versions of the various forms that businesses use online or on paper–as a growing use case.
“Utilize it to its fullest,” Hirsch said, adding that SMBs should consider their particular business and specific goals and then develop an app strategy that actually supports those goals.
3. Get the word out. Just like websites, apps don’t just magically find an audience. They need to be marketed like any other customer-facing aspect of your business. This could be as simple as a sign in a physical retail location, links from an email or your website, or a mention at the end of a TV or radio spot.
“Apps are cool, apps are new, apps are fun,” Hirsch said. “At this point, it’s a very easy transition to get people to use your app–it’s just a matter of letting them know it’s available.”
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook Reviews the New iPhone 4S
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
Posted by: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Technology, LLC.
Yesterday, Apple’s Tim Cook took the stage for his first product launch since he was named CEO. The Apple’s Let’s Talk iPhone event brought in much anticipated news of the new iPhone 4S. I wanted to share an article from Mashable.com about the history of the iPhone in lieu of the launch.
In a scant few hours now, we’ll dive into chapter five in one of the most compelling stories of our digital-dominated era: The Life And Times of the iPhone. So for those of you who haven’t been paying attention, and even those of you who have (hands up if you remember the ROKR iTunes phone), here’s a recap — courtesy of Thinglink, a startup that makes interactive photos and ads.
Hover over the infographic to reveal pictures, videos and links from iPhone history. (The launch date of each phone is at the top of its screen.) Take note of the chips used in each iteration, and find out more about the real genius behind the iPhone’s design. Wax nostalgic in the comments about your favorite moments. And get ready for a whole new chapter Tuesday morning, whether it’s the iPhone 5, the 4S or both.
United States Ranks #1 in Information Technology:Leads Categories for Research and Development, Human Capital & Support for IT Industry Development
Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Posted by: T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL, LLC.
The United States has always prided itself on being a leader in information technology. According to a study done by the Business Software Alliance and the Economist Intelligence Unit, the United States once again ranked number one for IT, making it the world’s most competitive nation. Here is an article from Businessweek.com on the study and the United States’ information technology position.
“Countries that have seen continued investment in key competitiveness enablers such as the R&D environment, talent and skills are notable gainers” in the global comparison, according to a study released today by the Washington-based Business Software Alliance and the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research unit of The Economist magazine.
Countries at the top of the list had “sustained investment” in IT from industry and their national governments during “the leanest financial times IT producers have known in a decade, and for many governments in at least a generation,” according to the study, which is conducted every two years.
With an overall score of 80.5 out of 100, the U.S. placed 12.5 points ahead of second-ranked Finland, to maintain the top spot it held in 2009. Singapore, Sweden and the U.K. rounded out the top five.
The U.S. led in three of the five categories, including research and development environment; human capital such as the education system’s capacity to train technologists; and support for IT industry development, which includes government policies that support the technology sector as a whole, rather than specific technologies.
White House Aimes at Using Innovative Technologies to Transform Education in the United States with Digital Promise
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
Posted by T.J. Bloom, COO of MDL Tech, LLC.
Merging technology into education has become a hot topic as of late, with many people discussing the pro’s and con’s of the matter. This article from CIO.com discusses Digital Promise, the new nonprofit orginization created by the government in collaboration with private breakthrough technologies to transform and improve students’ education.
White House Targets Innovative Education Technologies
Digital Promise, a collaboration between the government and the private sector, will identify breakthrough technologies to improve student performance.
The White House has formed a nonprofit organization aimed at creating innovative learning technologies to transform education in the United States.
The National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies, aka Digital Promise, will engage exclusively in research and development (R&D) to use the most advanced technology to improve learning at all educational levels, according to the organization’s website.
The organization’s ultimate goal is to equip American students better to compete in the global economy, already a key focus of the Obama administration through the Educate to Innovate Campaign. That campaign–also a partnership between the federal government and private sector– is specifically aimed at increasing the competitiveness of American students in science and math.
“If America is going to continue to succeed in the global economy, it is vital that we transform the use of educational technology,” said U.S. secretary of education Arne Duncan in a White House blog post. “With technology, we can more rapidly increase opportunities for excellence and equity, as well as provide a world-class education for America’s students. And that’s a promise we need to keep.”