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December 11th, 2013

Google In late September, Google quietly began offering HIPAA Business Associate Agreements (BAA) to businesses that purchase its premium Google Apps for business cloud services. BAA’s are available on request after you answer just a few basic questions. The Terms and Conditions for Google Apps for Business guaranty security of your information.

IMPORTANT! – Google is NOT offering Business Associate Agreements to those using their FREE Gmail Service. A medical or dental practice using free Gmail to send and receive electronic Protected Health Information is committing a HIPAA data breach because a) Google will not sign a BAA and b) Google’s terms and conditions allow them to share—even publish—anything in free Gmail.

Remember, Google has a unique ecosystem to generate loads of cash. Their two main customers are: you the “online searcher” (they want to deliver the most RELEVANT content, fast) and the Google Advertisers (companies that pay for keyword advertising) who Pay Per Click (PPC) for online traffic. In 2011,  Google posted revenues of $39.6 Billion and 96% of that came from Google Adwords PPC. So  – it’s easy to see why Google wants adoption of their free Gmail services.  It gives them full rights to “mine” and share your data so that they can provide feedback to their advertisers, who will then spend more money.  I love Google—don’t trust them, but love them—they’ve changed our world.  However, if you are covered by HIPAA, don’t use Gmail. If you have questions or need help getting HIPAA compliant, give Jennifer a call at 678-730-2703 or email Jennifer@mis-solutions.com

December 11th, 2013

LemonsAccording to Wikipedia, “Lemon Laws” are American state laws that provide a remedy for purchasers of cars in order to compensate for cars that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.”

No one wants to spend money for a car or other product that is defective or doesn’t meet expected standards. And no one likes to be disappointed by what they get for the money they spend. What if there were lemon laws for disappointing workplace performance?

As an employee who is paid by an employer to perform, what might get you disqualified as a “lemon”?   In the workplace, they’re not called “lemon laws”, they are called dismissal and termination and they’re bad for both the employer and the employee.

If you like your job and you don’t want to be replaced for being defective in the results you deliver, here are three ways to make sure your work won’t invoke the spirit of the lemon law:

1. Know what is expected:  Every employer has expectations when they do business with you. Unfortunately, some employees don’t find out what those expectations are until after they are not met. Meet with your manager to clarify your own job expectations.  That includes where you should focus your attention, what gets priority and what skills you need to develop or improve.  Priorities change, so regularly schedule a brief meeting for feedback on your performance to make sure you’re focused on doing the right things.

2. Meet standards and, if possible, exceed them:  The most valued employees are those who know how to add value to their work. To earn more, contribute more. The worst thing you can do, for an employer or a customer, is to over-promise and under-deliver. That’s a guaranteed strategy for disappointment.

Consider these questions: What are you doing to exceed expectations? Are you willing and able to do a little more than expected? Are you unique in a way that your company values, or are you interchangeable with anyone else who could do the job?

3. Commit to excellence:  Excellence begins with a mind-set. It is the commitment to focus your attention and skills to create something worthy of you, valued by your employer and worthwhile to your customer. Those who do only “just enough” often get by but they never get ahead. Employers appreciate not just the work that is done, but the attitude of the person doing the work.   There is an old and familiar saying: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That’s great advice for dealing with adversity and setbacks, but if you want to be a valued employee and move ahead in your career, make sure your work doesn’t qualify for any lemon laws of low performance. Instead, strive to be a positive example of superior performance.

4. Seek feedback:  One way to assure that your performance is as expected or better is to ask for ongoing feedback. Don’t just inquire about how you’re doing; specifically ask about what you could do differently or better to improve your work. A rational employer will appreciate your efforts to assure quality and get better at what you do.

If there were lemon laws for workplace performance, neither you nor I would want to invoke them with substandard work. Aim to meet expectations, continually improve performance and become an encore performer in your organization.

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international best-selling author and noted authority on leadership, team building, customer service and change. Mark is the author of eight books, including the bestseller The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary, which has sold more than 1.6 million copies internationally. Learn more about Mark at www.marksanborn.com

Mark Sanborn

December 11th, 2013

Read This Booklet To Discover The 7 Principles of IT Backup:Art of IT Back Up

Follow the path of an apprentice learning from his master, so that you can also learn the principles of backing up your critical data.

  • Learn what are the best practices that your organization should follow to protect your data
  • Learn what part of your data is critical to backup
  • Learn how often your backups should be scheduled
  • Learn where your backups should be stored
  • Learn how long you should keep your backups
  • Learn how you will know that your backups will work if you really need them
  • Learn what steps need to be taken to protect the security of your data backups
  • Learn if a disaster occurs, what needs to be done to keep your business operating smoothly
  • Learn how to make sure your organization can implement all 7 principles of IT backup

For more information call Jennifer at (678) 730-2703 or email at Jennifer@mis-solutions.com

 

December 11th, 2013

Liz Laqui

Born and raised in Manila in the Philippines, Liz graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Right before coming to MIS, she worked in IT for the Singapore multinational financial company Kim Eng Securities Pte. Ltd. She also was a help desk analyst for Lawson Software and a technical support representative for Dell Computer Corporation. She says she really enjoys working in a global and diverse environment — and providing great customer service to her MIS clients as a Systems Engineer. She sees working at MIS as a great opportunity to be exposed to a very wide range of IT infrastructure environments.

After work, Liz hangs out and plays with her “spoiled” Shih Tzu named Luigi, helps her parents run the family bakery business and shops.

She loves travelling both locally and overseas every year — and relaxing at her idea of a great beach, which, of course, is on the Philippine island of Boracay!

 

December 11th, 2013

Ditka Football

Lliam and I had the opportunity to share the stage with Mike Ditka in April. At that time, I asked him to autograph a football for charity. We auctioned the football at this event and raised enough money to send 25 kids from the Gwinnett Children’s’ Shelter to a Movie Night. Thank you to all who contributed! The lucky winner was Alice Thomas of Thomas and Williams.

December 11th, 2013

Tech ExchangeIf you missed Tech Exchange or want a quick refresher, here are some highlights from the event. This year was about “skate to where the hockey puck is going to be—not where it’s been”. Well, the proverbial “technology hockey puck” is moving to the cloud and mobile computing.  But doing so requires a strategy: be informed, understand your risks and evaluate opportunities for your specific business.

*  In 2015, studies predict that world population will hit 7.6 billion people and a record 25 billion connected devices (smart phones, tablets, PCs, smart devices etc.). With everyone having more than one device AND connections to the Internet being so inexpensive, the question has become: How do you have access to everything all the time….seamlessly? The device is no longer important– it is all about the “experience”.

*  Cloud computing is a subscription model that allows you to pay only for what you use without ever having to worry about buying new servers or Microsoft software (Windows or MS Office). It is a scalable “Pay As You Grow” strategy. Below is a quick reference guide designed to help you compare cloud computing to on-premise networks. Of course if you have questions about your particular business needs, call Jennifer at 678-730-2703 or email Jennifer@mis-solutions.com.

Cloud vs On Premise Network

*  Mobility and Cloud Computing –It’s not all sunshine, rainbows and skittles—there are real dangers of mobile computing.  Thus, you need a mobile device policy and a multi-layered security approach to securing your data, network or cloud computing environment. Remember security is only as strong as the weakest link. If you need help evaluating your firm’s data and network security, call or email Jennifer to inquire about a network security assessment. If you use mobile devices, this is “a must” to protect your firm. Consider using a Unified Threat Manager to help secure your network.   Travis of Sophos, one of our event sponsors, awarded Lin Schneider of Hamilton Financial a FREE one year subscription to a UTM service.

*  The Death of Windows XP and Office 2003—Windows XP still accounts for 30% of all desktops and laptops. Gartner predicts it will be under 10% by 2014. Support ends for these programs on 4/8/2014 meaning no more security patches will be released. Threat: new viruses or exploits will NO LONGER be fixed in Windows XP.  If you have not implemented a strategy to migrate away from these systems, start now.  At Tech Exchange, we provided all attendees with a list of systems they should consider replacing as a way to tighten up and prepare for these changes. If you own any of the following, create a plan to upgrade or replace since their support will end on 4/8/13: Windows XP, Microsoft Exchange 2003, Microsoft Office 2003, Windows Small Business Server 2003.

*  Cool Mobile Devices: at our event, we had demo units of popular tablets and devices.  If you’d  like a demo or want to evaluate devices, call  Derek at 678-730-2706 or email him at dwynegar@mis-solutions.com.  He’ll get you all “tricked out” for 2014.

*  iPad Awarded To One Lucky Winner—You Could Be Next.  As you know, we run a referral contest a few times a year.  Carolyn Burton was our winner so she snagged a new iPad from Team MIS. If you know a business owner or executive that is frustrated with unacceptable levels of network disruptions, refer them to Jennifer. If we get an appointment or phone call with your referral, you win a $25 referral reward for you or your favorite charity and a chance for a new Lenovo Twist Laptop. Contest period: now until 12/31/2014.  Details are at: www.mis-solutions.com/about-us/referral-program.

*  Fun Factor—If you are a friend or customer of MIS, you know we love to have fun.  We raffled off a new Lenovo Twist and John Fry was the winner. Congrats John!

*  Lenovo Really Stepped It Up and Made Some Sweet Deals.  They awarded 10 $100 gift certificates for Lenovo purchases and offered some special event-only discounts.  If you didn’t take advantage of these, but still need year-end purchases, reach out to Derek for this month’s promotions. We’d like to send a big Thank You to Brandon at Lenovo for offering some great deals for Tech Exchange Attendees!

*  If you have any questions or to register for next year’s event, call Jennifer at 678-730-2703 or email Jennifer@mis-solutions.com

December 11th, 2013

Thanks to a recently updated Section 179 Tax Deduction, the Federal Government now allows you to buy up to $500,000 in machinery, computers, software, office furniture, vehicles, or other tangible goods and thereby REDUCING your taxable income on your current year’s tax return. This is due to the passage of H.R.8: American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (The “fiscal cliff / fiscal crisis” bill).

 2013 Deduction Limit = $500,000

2013 Limit on Capital Purchases = $2,000,000

2013 Bonus Depreciation = 50%

    Please note the above limits are as of 1/1/2013, and are for tax year 2013. In addition, 2012′s old limit ($125,000 deduction) has now been raised to $500,000 as well. This means qualifying purchases you made in 2012 can now take advantage of the new, higher deduction limits.

Section 179 Deduction is available for most new and used capital equipment, and also includes certain software. Bonus Depreciation can be taken on new equipment only (no used equipment, no software). When applying these provisions, Section 179 is generally taken first, followed by Bonus Depreciation – unless the business has no taxable profit in the given tax year.

If you want to see how much small businesses love the Section 179 deduction, take a little peek inside any office furniture or equipment store between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Chances are you’ll see lots of buyers racking up some year-end deductions!  For more information, visit www.section179.org.

December 11th, 2013

Have friends coming to visit and can’t be there to let them in? No worries…December Tech Times 2013 Lockitron

Now you can lock your door from anywhere in the world. Any smartphone can use Lockitron through its intuitive two-button app. With Lockitron you can instantly share access with your family and friends.

In addition to the convenience, Lockitron gives you peace of mind. Lockitron lets you see if your door is locked when you’re gone. It will send a notification when someone unlocks the door using a phone or key.

Here are some of the key details (no pun intended):

• Any phone works – Lockitron is compatible with any smartphone, thanks to our mobile web site. Older phones can use Lockitron through simple text-message commands.

• Wi-Fi built in – Lockitron connects to the Internet, thanks to built-in Wi-Fi. You can control Lockitron and receive notifications from Lockitron anywhere in the world.

• Keyless entry – If you use an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5, you can enable Lockitron to sense when you walk up to the door and unlock for you using Bluetooth 4.0.

• Powerfully smart – Thanks to intelligent power management, Lockitron’s batteries last for up to one year. Lockitron will even send you a notification when they are running low.

• Easily customizable – You can control your Lockitron through our incredibly simple API endpoints or program it directly, thanks to its Arduino-compatible AT Mega microprocessor.

Pre-order your Lockitron today for only $179! https://lockitron.com/preorder

December 11th, 2013

Most business owners know that it is important for their server(s) to be backed up. But what about your computers (desktops, laptops, Macs)? Though it’s true that quite a bit of your data is stored on your servers and backed up by your network, your computer itself (your icons, your background, all of your settings, your local files, music and pictures you have stored, and all of your software applications) is NOT being backed up.

If your computer were to crash, get a virus or simply die, all of that information could be lost. The company data that you’ve saved to your server would still be there IF you are saving everything to your server (a big if for many companies), but everything else would be gone. You would have to recreate that computer by reloading all of the software and settings. And if you’ve ever had this happen to you, you know it can take a significant amount of time to do. What a pain!

 So, How Do You Solve This Problem?

Simple. You use imaging software on your computer that automatically takes periodic images of important, irreplaceable machines and sends them off-site or to your server for safekeeping. For travel laptops, this can often be done via the cloud. Imaging software takes a “picture” or “snapshot” of your computer, recording it exactly as it is, with all of the software, settings and local files you have on it. This way, if your computer ever crashes, there is no need to reload everything onto it and reconfigure the computer. Simply restore your last “image” from before the crash and your computer can be back to its old self again. This is a huge time-saver and can be a lifesaver when something goes wrong.

 Protect Your Desktops And Laptops!

How are your desktops and laptops currently being backed up? Take action today. You’ll be amazed at the peace of mind you find when you are completely backed up!

Call Jennifer Holmes at 678-730-2703 or e-mail jholmes@mis-solutions.com to find out more details.

December 11th, 2013

As you may have heard, Microsoft has long ago announced the retirement of its most successful software platform of all time, Windows XP.  Effective April 8, 2014, Microsoft will no longer support the Windows XP platform in any way, shape or form.

                What this means if you are currently running XP

This means any computer or server with Windows XP installed will be completely exposed to serious hacker attacks aimed at taking control of your network, stealing data, crashing your system and inflicting a host of other business-crippling problems you do NOT want to have to deal with.

This is such a serious threat that all companies housing financial and medical information are being required by law to upgrade any and all computer systems running XP because firewalls and anti-virus software will not be sufficient to completely protect them (or you).

Unless you don’t care about cyber criminals running rampant in your company’s server, you MUST upgrade any servers or workstations running these programs no later than April 8, 2014.

The Time To Act Is Now

As Windows XP comes to the end of its life, businesses with software applications dependent on XP will feel the effects. Not only will Microsoft stop supporting XP, so can any other company that still has software built for XP that they are currently supporting. The writing is on the wall and these companies will follow. Companies producing antivirus and firewall software will also have no reason to continue releasing updates for something considered to be dead.

Don’t wait until the last minute to plan for an XP-free business existence. We fully expect to be extremely busy now through April 8. Schedule your Microsoft XP Risk Assessment and Migration Planning Consultation today by calling Jennifer at 678-730-2703 or email at Jennifer@mis-solutions.com.