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December 2013 
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Data Dispatch:

IT Updates for Small Business Owners


 

The End Of An Era...Take Action By New Year's Eve 2013!


"As a business owner, you don't have time to waste on technical and operational issues.  That's where we shine!  Call us and put an end to your IT problems finally and forever!"  
-Robert E. "Chuck" Bell, III, President & CEO, BEL Network Integration & Support
     
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 antivirus 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 our office at 804-796-2631.
 

 Shiny New Gadget

Of The Month:

 
 
Lockitron: Keyless Entry Using Your Phone
 
Hate taking your keys with you on a run? Have friends coming to visit and can’t be there to let them in? No worries…
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 (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.
  • WiFi built in – Lockitron connects to the Internet, thanks to built-in WiFi. 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 ATMega microprocessor.
Pre-order your Lockitron today for only $179 @ https://lockitron.com/preorder
 
 
 

Workplace Lemons (How Not To Be One) 


According the 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, 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’re 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.
 

Free Microsoft Office 365 Cloud Software For Non-Profits?
As part of its “Technology For Good” program,  Microsoft has recently announced that it is giving away Microsoft Office 365 software licenses for free to qualified nonprofit organizations. Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud-based software solution that allows users to run office applications, e-mail, calendars, video conferencing and more all through the web.
 
The Office 365 donation program is part of Microsoft’s larger giving program where it hands out $2 million worth of software each and every day to nonprofits around the world. This specific program donates the “cloud only” Web Apps version of Microsoft Office 365, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, online cloud storage and more, to qualified organizations. Nonprofits can upgrade to the cloud/desktop hybrid version of Office 365 for a reduced rate of over 75% off the normal price.
 
See If You Qualify: Eligible nonprofits must hold recognized charitable status and must have a mission to benefit the local community in areas such as providing relief to the poor, advancing education, improving social welfare, preserving culture, restoring the environment, promoting human rights and establishing a civil society.
 
If you’re a nonprofit organization or have a nonprofit organization in mind that could benefit from this free program, you can check for availability online at:  http://www.microsoft.com/office365nonprofits.
 
 FREE IT Assessment
Takes Approximately 2 Hours to Complete &
Provides 
An Executive Summary Containing:
  • Design of the Current IT Environment or Systems 
  • Security Requirements
  • General Control Review
  • Vulnerability Test
  • Risk Assessment (identified assets, threats, vulnerabilities, impact & likelihood assessment, and risk results analysis)
  • Recommended Actions 
CALL 804-796-2631 or CLICK Below Today!!      

Things You Probably Didn't Know About December


December is known around the world as a family time of celebration honoring cultures, religions and traditions that have been with humanity for hundreds of years. See below for a mix of the weird and wonderful facts about this magical month! 
1. An almanac prediction states that if snow falls on Christmas Day, Easter will be warm, green and sunny.
2. The name December comes from the Latin decem for “ten,” as it was the 10th month in the Roman calendar.
3. December 12th is Poinsettia Day.
4. Saint Nicholas, who would eventually be called Santa Claus, was originally the patron saint of children, thieves and pawnbrokers!
5. December 28th is considered by some to be the unluckiest day of the year.
6. The first artificial Christmas tree was made in Germany, fashioned out of goose feathers that were dyed green!
7. Spiders and spiderwebs are considered good luck on Christmas.
8. “Jingle Bells” was composed in 1857, and not for Christmas – it was meant to be a Thanksgiving song!
9. In 1647, Oliver Cromwell, English Puritan leader, banned the festivities of Christmas for being immoral on such a holy day. Anyone who was seen celebrating was arrested! The ban was lifted in 1660.
10. An ancient legend states that forest animals can speak in human language on Christmas Eve!
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