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

As we continue on our discussions around BYOD, one topic that comes up time and again is the potential issues around these mixed use devices. The mixing of personal and professional data creates some questions and issues that really do bear some analysis and discussion before making any final decisions regarding BYOD in your business. Last month I mentioned one such issue, access to ex-employees by customers. This is one fairly critical question for anyone in a business where your staff is the key point of contact, and the staff is providing the service the client is paying for. If an employee leaves with their own phone and phone number, and perhaps goes off to a competitor to continue in the same line of work, you may have just enabled a customer to take their business over to the competitor by granting them easy access. Something to consider!

But, there are certainly other considerations, and some of them are far more employee centric. What about personal privacy for the employee? What about data integrity of their data in the case of a remote wipe done upon termination? How will they feel if dozens of important pictures are lost forever? How will you feel about having to do that to maintain security?

There are some legitimate reasons why business devices and personal devices are kept separate. What people do with their own device is their business, but there are HR considerations that could come into play when your favorite employee has a screen saver on their laptop that is wholly inappropriate for work.

And of course, there are viruses… and there are web behaviors that most people deem appropriate for personal equipment that they would not deem appropriate for a work asset. And those riskier behaviors generally lead to more occurrences of viruses and other issues which cost your company time and money.

Again, these are YOUR decisions to make as a business person, and they are business decisions, not technical ones. The key is to have a plan, understand the risks, and put in place steps to remediate those risks.

All business concerns, not technical ones. All things to think about outside of the worries of the IT group.

Happy Computing!

Richard Brunke

BYOD Considerations

BYOD. Bring your own disaster? Bring your own disruption? 

The fact is, when it comes to bring your own device, resistance isfutile, and most of the concerns we hear about can be remediated with a little planning.In reality, BYOD is not a technology challenge so much as it is a businessquestion, and I think that fact is overlooked far too often due to theoverwhelming noise in the space regarding security fears, viruses, CONTROL,etc.  

The purpose of IT teams is to enable your people to be productivewhile protecting the security and data integrity of the business. BYOD is not anew set of rules, just a slight addition of complexity. So, the question I poseis 'what are your business needs and how will BYOD impact them, positively andnegatively?' If we assume technology challenges are, and forever will be areality, then we can move on and simply figure out the impact of people usingtheir own devices. Looking at BYOD from this perspective opens up the chance toreally look at how the use of personal devices will impact your employees andyour customers. 

Examples:

  1.  Willyour BYOD policy replace equipment broken on the job, and if not, are you limitingthe quality of devices your employees may be able to afford and will thisimpact productivity?
  2.  WillBYOD impact your long term customers ability to connect with your businessshould a key employee leave with their device (and of course their phonenumber)?
  3.  Willyou potentially create negative scenarios by having to impose what may beviewed as draconian requirements on personal devices, leaving employees feelingunhappy?
  4.  Willyou be less likely to uphold basic security protocals because of the potentialnegative impact on an employee's personal data (such as doing a required remotewipe of device)?
  5. Arethere reasons you would NOT want your customers to reach out to ex employeesshould they leave with their phones and phone numbers? 

There are many more examples that may be relevant to yourbusiness, but I think you get the point. Item #2 is a big concern in mybusiness, where consistency of contact information can be the differencebetween a customer getting support in an emergency when they need it versushaving to hunt down new information. That could reduce our ability to keepcustomers productive, therefore BYOD could have a negative impact on customerservice as long held contact phone numbers move outside of the company. Also,in some businesses having customers retain contacts with ex employees couldcreate competitive issues that would otherwise be contained should the contactphone numbers belong to the business, and be consistent. 

All business concerns, not technical ones. All things to thinkabout outside of the worries of the IT group. 

Just a few more points of consideration in your continued journey to experience

Happy Computing

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 itcomes to cloud computing is that it has not changed the goal of computing, justsome parameters. The goal of all computing is to produce valuable informationand data in as efficient and cost effective a manner as possible.

Cloud computing is the approach du jour to meeting the abovegoal.What makes cloud computing compelling are those specificparameters of operation that are native to its nature. The key characteristicsof 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 howit can create rapid and unlimited scale for your business.

In cloud computing, capabilities (think new users, newservers, new applications) can be almost instantly provisioned at any scale. Atthe business consumer level, this is virtually unlimited as you can purchaseany 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 yourbusiness rapidly, add users, spin up new servers, adjust to projects orseasonal variations without having to extensively plan hardware and softwarepurchasing and the labor to roll them out. The vast majority of that complexityand the time associated with it becomes eliminated as services can be spun upin real time using existing shared infrastructure 'out in the cloud'.

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

And that certainly is a recipe for Happy Computing!

Richard Brunke

Will The Cloud Save You Money?

Everything in the cloud. Everything marketed as cloud.Everything about cloud.

Can't avoid the ever ubiquitous marketing and real worldcloud references. Cloud computing, however, is still just computing, and at theend of the day, we invest in computing infrastructure as a means to an end -and that end is enhanced productivity and profitability.

Cloud applications are not fundamentally more productivity enhancing,however, they can be more easily used in multiple locations and situations,which may indeed enhance productivity in some cases. Cloud applications are notfundamentally less expensive either. Have you ever heard of any industrycreating ways to make LESS money?

What cloud computing does is enhance access, control andscalability. Cloud computing also enables a reduction of capital outlay in someinstances, and allows alignment of real time costs with specific needs. But,more to the point, cloud computing enables a re-alignment of IT spend away fromsome of the more mundane IT tasks (such as buying, rolling out, managing andmonitoring a server or application) allowing you to focus those dollars on morevalue added IT investments such as really understanding how IT can support thecritical business processes and work flows within your business and integratingthe many complex technologies and solutions that are part of your business.

I don't see the cloud as an answer to a problem, but anapproach to various solutions. It is a tool set that can enable certainintegrations and applications to be used more efficiently.

Think about when you first started using computers at work(well, for those of you who were there then as I was). Adding computers did notreduce labor costs at work, it changed the way we go about work and allowed usto re-align our time towards higher value work efforts, enabling certain menialtasks (such as accounting) to be done much more quickly. That is an apt analogyfor the cloud. Cloud computing is not 'an approach to saving money' but more ofan approach to reducing some maintenance costs to enable productive resourcesto focus on other higher value activities – much like my computer example. Itis a paradigm shift, and although many will try to validate expenditures oncloud computing with strict ROI ratios, the reality is the value is not indollar savings, but in the focus away from low value tasks towards higher valueones.

That is part of what makes this transition so hard – theanswer is not as clear as simple ROI. IT costs are not going down due to cloudcomputing, although maintenance costs may. IT costs will be aligned towardshigher value activities focused on achieving higher productivity and profits.

At least that is how I see it!

Happy Computing!
Richard Brunke