I was reading an interesting article that asked the question “Is Bad Tech Costing Your Company” and it really brought home the reality of ‘old school’ IT thinking and the importance of having the right technology, AS DEFINED BY YOUR EMPLOYEES! Millennial workers are leading the way in the BYOD charge, as they have had the best tech available through school and life and are not particularly interested in your 2 year old low spec laptop you are asking them to work on. Efficiency has been hard wired into them, and many companies will find that they are actually lagging behind in what they offer as it relates to productivity needs of their workers. New, large screen mobile devices, tablets, touch enabled laptops… these are all things that many workers have available at home, and come to work to find out that they are handicapped by poor technology.

It is an interesting problem, and one that won’t wait. As the article states, 38% of all workers will be working on BYOD devices by 2016. Those clunky old laptops and old small screen mobile phones may not be worth re-purposing another year… Don’t step over dollars to pick up dimes when it comes to employee productivity, and don’t let old habits lock you into poorly thought out technology investments!

Otherwise, it’s fairly certain your team won’t be experiencing Happy Computing!
Richard Brunke

A lot of talk these days surrounds Mobile Device Management, why you need it and how you can use it to help control your mobile workforce.  But did you know that if you work with a recent version of Exchange server, you have some portion of the control for mobile devices that sync to your email server built in to the service?

Starting with Exchange 2003, Active Sync policies have allowed you to force devices to use a password and in extreme cases even wipe the contents of the phone when an employee has been terminated or the device was lost or stolen.
Starting in Exchange 2007, this became a self-service as well where end users could log into their OWA interface and perform basic management tasks on their own mobile devices.

Starting with Exchange 2010, mobile device policy has gone even further, culminating with some pretty sophisticated policies that are available in Exchange version 2013.

Here are 2 links which speak to the available options that you have when creating and applying mobile policies in Exchange 2010 and 2013:



Keeping Your Devices Secure

Part of keeping your device secure is making sure that if it is lost or stolen, other people cannot access your data. Both IOS and Android have built-in device encryption which renders the data on the device useless if the password is unknown.

  • To encrypt an iPhone or iPad (3GS or later):
  • Touch Settings, this should take you into the General settings area.
  • Touch the Turn Passcode On button
  • Type in your passcode (a 4 digit code) and repeat when prompted
  • Slide Siri to the off position when device is locked (otherwise Siri can bypass your locked device)
  • Slide Erase Data to the on postion (this will wipe your device if someone tries guessing your code over and over.
  • You will see at the bottom of the screen that “Data protection is enabled”

This method of encryption can be toggled on or off depending if you use a password or not – once enabled you’ll need to enter your passcode when you want to access these settings.

This is a good article which speaks to the security that is provided by enabling this feature on an iPhone or iPad: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428477/the-iphone-has-passed-a-key-security-threshold/

Most mobile cloud apps are aimed toward consumerism.  News organizations like CNN have mobile apps to get the latest headlines, Netflix lets you watch the latest movies, Pandora and Spotify help you enjoy music from wherever you have 4G.

It’s tougher to find applications that help you do your job in the same way.

We recently came across a great app that works with iOS (iPad and iPhone) and Android (although only with the JellyBean version at present).  CloudOn delivers a cloud work space which allows you to connect to some of the most popular cloud storage sites like SkyDrive, Dropbox and Box.net.  You can then create, open, edit, and save Microsoft office documents.   Word, PowerPoint, Excel – they are all there on your mobile device.  If saving to the cloud and grabbing the document from your PC isn’t fast enough, CloudOn even enables you to email from the app with whichever connected email account you have set up on your mobile device.

You can get CloudOn for free from either the AppStore on IOS or from Google Play Store on Android.

Read more about it here:  CloudON

See more top app lists from Business Insider and Information Week

One of the biggest frustrations we have run across with the release of Windows 8 is how to shut it down.   It used to be fairly simple, but now it takes a series of hot-keys or find some magical area of the lower right portion of the screen that will bring up the “Charms” menu.  From there you can click into settings and find the power button.

There must be something easier!   Turns out there is – you just have to create a shortcut, which you can place on your desktop or in your taskbar.  Here are the steps:

  1. Create a new shortcut by right-clicking on your desktop and selecting “new shortcut” from the list.
  2. In the wizard that launches, type in the following into the location of the item (exactly as shown here): c:\windows\system32\shutdown.exe /s /t 0
  3. Click next, then give the shortcut a name – I like “Shutdown” as it is to the point
  4. Click finish then find the icon on the desktop
  5. Right click the icon, and then select “Properties”
  6. Click the “Change Icon” button – click OK when the pop up tells you that no icon has been associated with the shortcut.  Choose from the list an icon that best visualizes powering down a PC (I like the one that looks like a power button)
  7. Click OK and you’ll now have a button that when pressed, will shut your PC down immediately!  Make sure you save your work before pressing!

You can add a button that restarts your system too, by following the same procedure but replacing the item location with this text: C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe /r /t 0  You can name it restart and choose a different icon if it helps differentiate between the two.

No more searching for the OFF switch!

For further reading on optimizing Windows 8 see this great article from PC World.

Richard Brunke

There are many conversations regarding the Cloud these days, seemingly endless chatter on why to move to the cloud and why not to.

The first and most important thing to understand when it comes to cloud computing is that it has not changed the goal of computing, just some parameters. The goal of all computing is to produce valuable information and data in as efficient and cost effective a manner as possible.

Cloud computing is the approach du jour to meeting the above goal.

What makes cloud computing compelling are those specific parameters of operation that are native to its nature. The key characteristics of a cloud model are:

  • On demand self service
  • Broad network access
  • Resource pooling
  • Rapid elasticity
  • Measured service

This month we are keying in on the rapid elasticity, or how it can create rapid and unlimited scale for your business.

In cloud computing, capabilities (think new users, new servers, new applications) can be almost instantly provisioned at any scale. At the business consumer level, this is virtually unlimited as you can purchase any number of additional servers, seats, etc. at any time.

And that rapid elasticity works in both directions, increases or decreases. Think about the power of being able to grow your business rapidly, add users, spin up new servers, adjust to projects or seasonal variations without having to extensively plan hardware and software purchasing and the labor to roll them out. The vast majority of that complexity and the time associated with it becomes eliminated as services can be spun up in real time using existing shared infrastructure ‘out in the cloud’.

This ability to match (and pay for) only what one needs in real time, is one of the most compelling and easy to understand characteristics of cloud computing. The fear of adding capital ahead of growth, or the cost of planning mistakes (from an IT infrastructure standpoint) are vastly reduced, allowing you to focus on the realities of growing the business, adjusting labor, or taking on huge one time projects instead of focusing on the realities of buying or leasing hardware and rolling it out.

And that certainly is a recipe for Happy Computing!

       Richard Brunke
COO, ISOutsource

We recently received an email from a reader asking what seemed a relatively simple question:  “How do you perform a complete system backup in Windows 8?”

The immediate answer that came to mind was, “click on the Windows key, and type ‘backup’ and it should be there!”  But as you may have found, when you do, you get a backup dialogue that is only for files and folders, not for the whole system.

It seems that Microsoft is really pushing the convergence between the mobile device (tablet and smart phone) and the PC.  Because of this, why would you need a system image?  You don’t typically backup an image of your phone or tablet –  You sync your photos to the cloud, your email is stored in the cloud or on a server and if you need to reset the device, just do it and all of the apps can be obtained from the app store.

Well, as you might agree, the PC is quite there yet, and Microsoft seems to be showing that they agree.  This, perhaps, is why they left the system imaging software in place, but made it less than obvious.

If you do bring up the backup dialogue, you can find in the lower left hand corner of the pop up window, a link that says “Windows 7 File Recovery”.  This will take you to another window that lets you create an entire system image. Then, if something goes wrong with your PC, you can restore it, apps and all, to a working state!  You can also set a regular backup schedule so that you’ll be sure to have recent copies of files that you have created.

The quick way to access the recovery tool:

  • Click on the Windows Key
  • Type the word Recovery
  • Click on the “Settings” link below the search box
  • Choose “Windows 7 File recovery” from the list of settings

For further reading on backing up your Windows 8 PC:  http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/12/using-windows-8s-hidden-backup-to-clone-and-recover-your-whole-pc/

If you have been working with Windows 8, use Outlook.com or have a Windows phone or Surface tablet, you might be familiar with a service from Microsoft called OneDrive.  It is a cloud application built into Windows 8 that allows you to store up to 7GB worth of documents or pictures and have them be accessible with any web browser or mobile device that has the OneDrive app installed (it is available for iOS, Android and Windows phone)  You can upload and share pictures, and all kinds of documents and folders with others or between devices.onedrive

The built in SkyDrive features allow you to open the app and choose files to upload – but wouldn’t you like to just right click and add a whole folder to SkyDrive?  Or have the ability to right click a file and be able to “send to” SkyDrive, like you can do with email or a CD burner?

Jan Hannemann, an app developer has written a little app that adds that functionality into Windows.  Follow these links and download the app for your version of Windows (32bit or 64bit) and once installed, you will be able to right click files and folders right into OneDrive!

Here is a short tutorial on getting started with OneDrive: OneDrive Tutorial.

Last week, a group of hackers were all over the web for taking Forbes staff reporter, Andy Greenberg, on a joy ride in a Ford Escape and Toyota Prius (check out the video below).  The purpose of this joy ride: To highlight the security vulnerabilities found in many of the most common cars.  And the more that are connected, the more this will become a critical issue.  An issue that has been mostly ignored by the auto industry.

Last year, Vanity Fair highlighted what they called “Microsoft’s Lost Decade.”  While Apple, Google, and Facebook were generating excitement in media, social networking, search, music, etc., Microsoft had “fallen flat in every arena it entered.”  But, some in the industry pointed out one of the biggest things Microsoft got right during this time: Security.

For those of us in the industry for any time, we remember the days of dozens of spyware/adware infested toolbars in Internet Explorer 6.  We remember Slammer and Blaster and Code Red.  All of which were preventable if there was a concerted effort by Microsoft towards real security.  Microsoft, the immovable behemoth, responded: regular patch cycles, full disclosure, advanced notification networks with partners, partnerships with the white-hat community, and more.  The bad press was enough of a concern to the bottom line, Microsoft had to act.  And they did by putting a substantial investment towards security their platforms and applications.

The auto industry has yet to receive the same treatment.  But it is coming.  And it will be interesting to see how the whole industry responds.  Their industry doesn’t have a single entity with 90% market share like in Microsoft’s case.  Also, in this case, human lives are actually at risk.  This is going to take a serious industry effort.

Security requires a balance between usability and safety.  It requires businesses and stakeholders working together to find the proper balance and ensure systems are in place to keep data, property, and in this case, lives, safe.

Talk to your ISOutsource team today about how we (can) help you minimize the risk of vulnerabilities to your business.  Or give us a call to find out about our Business Technology Assessment Plans to assess the risk to your business.

In the world of technology, the methods of delivery change over time as technology evolves, but the goal has remained the same – to produce valuable information and data in as efficient and cost effective a manner as possible. The goal of workplace computing is enhanced productivity. Cloud and mobility are simply tools that further enable this goal. But, as with all seemingly simple concepts comes complexity.

For most of us, it all started with a Blackberry. We could see email and our calendar while out of the office for the first time, and we like it. A lot.

Our IT departments knew what to do! They installed another server that specifically knew how to drive information to that device. It cost money, had to be managed and upgraded, but it was a server. They knew how to manage those! The device was simple and took little management, the server did it all!

Then we discovered the iPhone. It played music, surfed the internet AND did email. We all wanted one… but our bosses didn’t let us… at first. The IT guys said NO WAY!

But they kept coming, adding more functions, more complexity, more value, and NO WAY was not acceptable. But unlike the Blackberry, these things were little computers all to themselves, and adding them to the network created concerns…

And ultimately mobile computing creates a ‘wall of complexity’.

You have a device OS – Android, bada, Blackberry, iOS, S40, Symbian OS, Windows Phone, etc.

Then layer in Device Hardware – iPhone, iPad, Surface, Asus, Vivo, Lenovo, Acer Iconia, Blackberry Playbook, Windows Smartphone, Samsung Galaxy, LG Optimus, HTC One, Pantech and hundreds of others.

And of course, you finish it off with applications! – Email, music, maps, Facebook, reminders, calendar, IM, browser, notes, doc readers and THOUSANDS more.

Can’t you practically smell the fear from your IT department? Well, this is the new reality, and mobile device management (MDM) is the theme of the month in our newsletter (contact us using the quick contact form if you would like a copy emailed!) . I hope we can give you some helpful ideas and open the door to further conversations!

Again, the entire purpose here is to extend your practice of happy computing to anywhere and anytime using mobile devices!

Richard Brunke