August 2015 Newsletter

August 2015

Who Else Wants To Win A $75 Gift Card?

The Grand Prize Winner of last month’s Trivia Challenge Quiz is Jim Tracy from Neal & Associates! He was the first person to correctly answer my quiz question from last month: During which year did Congress pass a bill to make July 4th an official holiday? The correct answer was b) 1870.

The winner will be entered in a drawing for a $75 Gift Card that will be held at the end of each quarter. Now, here’s this month’s trivia question.

What is the hottest place on earth:

a) Wadi Halfa, Sudan
c) Tirat Tsvi, Israel

b) Death Valley, California
d) Timbuktu, Mali

Call us right now with your answer!
214-329-1349.

*Trivia winners are eligible to win again after 90 days of previous win.



Do You Keep Your Server In A Closet?

If So, You Need To Read This Important Summertime Warning

Confusion. Dizziness. Fatigue. Muscle cramps. These are some of the first signs of heat exhaustion in humans. But did you know that your SERVER can also suffer from heat exhaustion and “meltdown,” causing slowness, blue screens, random reboots and complete meltdowns? If you keep your server in a closed closet or other small, confined space, here are three things you need to address during hot summer months to avoid premature loss of your equipment and data.

Room Temperature. Server rooms should be kept between 68° and 72° Fahrenheit (20°-22° Celsius). If you keep your server in a closet with a closed door, the heat emitted will quickly elevate the temperature to levels that will damage hardware. Consider opening the door or putting in a good exhaust fan to pull the hot air out.

Ventilation. Good airflow is critical for maintaining a safe room temperature and reducing dust, the next culprit that causes damage to electronics.

Dust. Perhaps more dangerous than room temperature is dust. Dust acts as insulation, and traps the heat generated by your computer components. A regular maintenance routine to keep your components clean and dust-free is essential.

Computer hardware is expensive, and unexpected downtime is incredibly frustrating. If you want to extend the life of your equipment and avoid the sudden meltdown, make sure your server closet is set up correctly.

If you need help, give us a call for a FREE Summer Server Room Check at 214-329-1349. We’ll be glad to do a free evaluation on your server closet or room and let you know if you’re at risk of heat exhaustion and dust damage.


How To Avoid Runaway IT Projects That Empty Your Wallet

In 2002, McDonald’s decided to implement a system to provide their corporate executives with a bird’s-eye view of their 30,000 stores, to track, measure and monitor everything from profitability to cooking-oil quality. The project, named “Innovate,” was a massive five-year project with a billion-dollar budget. Two years into its implementation, McDonald’s executives abandoned the project and wrote off the $170 million invested, saying they needed to reduce capital expenditures.

Even though YOUR business isn’t a McDonald’s with a billion-dollar IT budget, chances are you’ve had at least one failed IT project that derailed, emptying your wallet and leaving you with nothing other than a grudge. And if you haven’t had that happen yet, chances are, as you grow, you will. So how do you avoid going down a rabbit hole of spending on an IT project? Here are five key strategies to keep you on track:

  1. Begin with the end in mind. The clearer you are on what “success” is for the project, the more likely you are to achieve it. Take the time to sit down with your executive team and decide exactly what the new system LOOKS like (including the interface, if you’re developing one), how it performs, what it does and how it works.
  2. IT projects need to be driven by an executive who understands the business need and outcome, NOT the IT department. If you and your executive team aren’t going to be heavily involved with the process, decisions and management of the project, don’t start it.
  3. Think in smaller, “bite-sized” projects. One of the problems with the McDonald’s project was that it was so complex, affected multiple business systems and had such an enormous scope, it was almost guaranteed to fail. If you have a major system to build or overhaul, break it into smaller, manageable chunks so that problems are contained and costs controlled.
  4. Manage the project hours. Scope creep is the biggest challenge to keeping your project on time and on budget. If your project starts to take on a life of its own and goes over your budgeted time frame and your budget by more than 10%, it’s time to start re-evaluating what’s going on. Excessive overtime is a red flag that the project was not thought through properly, that you have the wrong team working on it or that it’s being grossly mismanaged. Don’t ignore it.
  5. Missed milestones are a red flag. While it’s normal to miss a few milestones by a small margin, your IT team should not be allowed to consistently miss key milestones in the project. We recommend setting clearly defined milestones every two weeks or monthly versus monthly or quarterly. This allows you to keep a tighter control on the budget and deliverables.

Vulnerability OF THE MONTH: Ratter

A type of hacker known as a “ratter” is spawning faster than ever thanks to videos on YouTube, a new report shows....These hackers are named after their favorite malicious software, remote access Trojans, or RATs. Once in your computer, this type of malware enables hackers to take control of it remotely.

As the nonprofit Digital Citizens Alliance describes it in a press release: Your pictures, documents and personal information are all at the fingertips of the hacker, or ratter. Also, the ratter can take your “slaved” device and use it against you, turning on the webcam and following you when you don’t know it, sending emails that appear to be from you to your contacts, and even launching massive malicious attacks against hundreds of others.

DCA’s latest report... details how ratters use YouTube to teach more people to become ratters. The report is titled “Selling ‘Slaving': Outing the principal enablers that profit from pushing malware and put your privacy at risk.”

Using popular search engines, the nonprofit found people offering RATs to anyone interested. In nearly eight months of searches on YouTube, DCA also found thousands of RAT tutorials, many of which include victims’ faces.

The DCA criticizes YouTube not only for hosting the ratters’ videos but also for profiting from them...., the report states: YouTube’s parent company, Google, is positioned to get revenue from the sharing of these malicious tutorials that target innocents. By allowing advertising to remain next to these tutorials, YouTube also provides another stream of revenue for ratters. Using the partner program, ratters are poised to get a cut of advertising revenue from Google.

RATs are often spread through phishing — sending phony emails intended to trick recipients into clicking on malicious links... The malware is such a problem that the DCA report warns the report’s readers not to click on links on any of the cited YouTube pages.”

Hackers Using YouTube to Teach Others to Spy on You. (2015, August 3). Retrieved August 3, 2015, from
http://www.moneytalksnews.com/


How Great Leaders Inspire Their Employees To Higher Commitment And Performance

It’s probably true that most people who work with us will never care as deeply as we do about building our business. If they did, they’d probably be working for themselves! Yet there’s a great deal we can do to raise the commitment level and inspire them to peak performance. The operative word here is INSPIRE. You can demand that people who work for you be punctual, or that they perform at a certain production level. Yet real commitment can only be INSPIRED. And inspiring people is what great leaders do best.

How do great leaders inspire others to commit themselves to their goals? It’s not just their charismatic personalities, or that they give a lot of high-powered motivational talks. They communicate their vision so forcefully that other people adopt it as their own.

For example, Lee Iaccoca stepped into the ailing Chrysler Corporation and said, “We’re going to turn this company around!” With clear goals, a solid plan of action and a strong conviction, he was able to inspire enough commitment from the US Congress that he secured the largest loan ever made to a private company. Then he inspired enough commitment in thousands of Chrysler workers to enable the company to pay back the loan ahead of schedule.

And that’s the formula for any leader to inspire commitment – clear goals, a solid plan of action and a strong conviction. Communicate that to the people who work with you, and you’ll have the kind of loyalty that makes them go the extra mile – if that’s what it takes to get the job done.

Of course, it takes more than inspiration to run a successful organization. The people who work with you have to perform consistently at very high levels, and to get that kind of performance, you have to gain their trust. They have to believe that you will always be fair in your dealings with them, and that you are concerned about their best interests.

One of the most helpful insights I ever learned about leading others is that people do things for THEIR reasons, not for YOURS or MINE. So the goals, the plan of action and the strong conviction have to be communicated in a way that directly answers the question “What’s in it for me?”

When people honestly believe they will benefit directly from their efforts, and that the more they give, the more they benefit, they perform at peak levels. So it’s crucial that you show people how they will grow as they work individually and together to make the company grow, and then back up all your promises with solid actions.

People respond to clear opportunities for personal and professional growth. If I may paraphrase the Hallmark slogan, when people care enough, they’ll give their very best!

It takes a lot of patience and effort to build a solid team of people who will share and help you fulfill your vision, but the results will be well worth all you put into it.

dr-nido

Dr. Nido Qubein is president of High Point University, an undergraduate and graduate institution with 4,300 students from 40 countries. He has authored two dozen books and audio programs distributed worldwide. As a business leader, he is chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company, with 220 stores in 43 states. He serves on the boards of several national organizations, including BB&T (a Fortune 500 company with $185 billion in assets), the La-Z-Boy Corporation (one of the largest and most recognized furniture brands worldwide) and Dots Stores (a chain of fashion boutiques with more than 400 locations across the country). As a professional speaker, Dr. Qubein has received many distinctions, including the Golden Gavel Medal, induction into the International Speaker Hall of Fame and as the founder of the NSA Foundation in Arizona.


Shiny New Gadget Of The Month:

Navdy Rocketbook: A Super-Convenient Way To Store And Organize Handwritten Notes

If you’re like me, you still like taking notes with a pen and paper. Problem is, note pages can pile up, get lost and be a pain to organize. But thanks to a special notebook called Rocketbook, you can still take notes the “old-fashioned” way of pen and paper, but then file, organize and store your notes digitally for quick access and retrieval!

Rocketbook looks like an ordinary pad of paper. To use it, simply take notes as you would on any pad of paper, using the Pilot FriXion pen. When you’re done, the built-in app creates a high-quality JPG image of your notes and files it to the folder of your choice inside Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs or OneNote. You indicate which folder each note goes to by marking clever little icons at the bottom of each page.

When the pages are full, simply microwave the notebook for 30 seconds to completely erase and reuse. Rocketbook currently comes in two sizes and is available at indiegogo. Just search on, “Rocketbook.”


How To Back Up Your Smartphone

You regularly back up your computers (or at least you should), but do you do the same with your smartphone? Given the massive amounts of contact information, photos, videos and other data we all carry around on smartphones, it’s critical to back them up or risk losing all that data forever. There are two basic ways to back up your phone: automatically to the cloud or manually to your computer.

To The Cloud. Cloud backups are secured with your password-protected account. They can easily be configured to run automatically so you can “set it and forget it.” Apple users can use iCloud to back up photos, contacts, calendars and other data. Turn on and configure iCloud Backup by going to Settings > iCloud. Android users can back up to Google servers in much the same way, using a Google account. Configure your preferences by going to Settings > Backup.

To Your Computer. Both Apple and Android users also can back up data directly to a computer manually. Generally, connecting the phone to the computer by cable is the quickest way to do this. Apple users can also use iTunes Wi-Fi Sync to wirelessly back up phone data to a computer. Remember, though, when backing up your smartphone to a computer, your data is only as safe as that computer. Be sure to back up the computer regularly as well.


The Lighter Side:
Are You A Walking Dead Fan?

Then you’re going to LOVE this! There’s a great way to prepare for the next zombie apocalypse while getting in shape and losing weight – it’s called the Zombies, Run! app. This app combines gaming and audio adventures to make losing weight interesting. It works by giving you tasks and goals to reach in a zombified universe, like reaching humanity’s last outpost or gathering supplies to live. Each mission is tied to a fitness goal, like running 5k in a session, so you’re getting fit while you find out what happens next. Zombies, Run! is available to download on both iOS and Android.