Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why in the world am I writing this?

You will see what I mean in a bit.

It received a subscription to Popular Science for my birthday and I got my first issue recently.  It was pretty interesting.  This was the February 2007 issue and I came to page 74 with a section called Ask a Geek, the article was called "How can I guard against spyware?"  The article is written by Ben Edelman which they say is a doctoral student at Harvard University, where he researches spyware, Internet advertising and online fraud.  I thought "This should be interesting". 

It was a very interesting article but not in the way I expected.  I expected a few product tips or computer setting tips, and there was a little bit but what is said was so simple and I thought intelligent.  Why did I find it so insightful?  Because it is exactly what I have been saying for a long time.

First of all he says that according to a recent study (not sure from where) that 89 percent of consumer PC's are infected.  Wow can you believe that?  I don't think I do but still it is a big big problem. 

So next he lays the wisdom on us and says, "Normally, you can clean your computer with programs like Microsoft Windows Defender (free;, but it easier to avoid getting infected at all." 

Next he says (paraphrased but not much) before you install free programs find out how they make money.  And don't trust a site that has a logo that says "we are safe".  I also add to this advice that if you do want to load a program make sure that you test it on a computer that isn't important to your daily function (non-production).  If you load any program from any source on your daily used computer you risk loosing a couple of days of productivity.

If people would follow this simple advice of doing a little research first and then test in non-production environment they would lower their support bills.

Did you hear what I said?  Why did I just say that.  What you should know is that I make money by supporting computers so why in heck would I give you any advice that would lower my income?

Here is why as much as I would LOVE to make all kinds of money fixing computers people screw up by loading stupid programs I have experienced the opposite.  If I am in charge of a network, even if I have given people this advice they still seem to blame me when it goes wrong.  So even though my last post was on a very similar topic about prevention rather than cure, I thought I would say it again just to make sure it gets through all those layers of brain matter. 

Fact is I will probably have to say it 100 more times within this next year but because I don't like the results after the fact I am going to keep saying this blog and to my customers directly. 

This is one step in something I feel is very important in Network Administration and that is Policies.  This would be one policy and there should be many more.  I will probably write about more of them at some point to give you more details.  After all another very important part of Network Admin is Education of users (all people).

Hope you enjoyed the education and now it's not just coming from me but also from a Doctoral student at Harvard.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ounce of Prevention or a Pound of Cure

You know the old saying right?  An Ounce of Preventions is worth a pound of cure.  So since it's an old saying you would think that people would agree with it and live by it. 

I have been trying to apply this old saying to new services that I wish to provide in the area of Computer Network Administration.  Today I have become a little discouraged about that possibility.  I had a few struggles with some prevention tactics I have implemented. 

Because of this I did a little deeper searching and tried to apply the same concept to other fields beyond computers.  What I came up with isn't that encouraging.  I thought about the medical field and the automotive fields in particular.  In both cases people usually wait for the breakdown before they do anything.  Many it seems would rather get a triple-bypass heart surgery than control their diet and exercise.  That's one that got me for a long time but then I decided to do something about it.  But I am guilty of the car issue. I often wait until something starts making a sound (or stops making a sound) until I get that car into the shop. 

So for some reason even though we know the costs most of us choose to pay for the pound of cure rather than opt for the cheaper ounce. 


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Create PDF anywhere

I have been doing some research lately and this blog will benefit from it.  Here is the first item that I am kind of excited about.

Create PDF Online (by Adobe the creators of PDF)

I have a customer that needs to be able to create PDF's they have an old version of Adobe Acrobat which is the program used to create PDF, but only have one copy.  They need more but it's kind of expensive and as I say the copy they currently have is old because they don't always have the money to keep upgrading that.  So I went searching for solutions.

I found printer drivers and they are pretty reasonable but still you pay per install.  Also I didn't recognize any of the companies that do this so that worried me. 

I then looked for being able to do it online, thinking hopefully I don't have to install anything and possibly multiple people can use it in the office.  There are a few people that offer that and Adobe is one of them.  For $99 a year that's pretty good, I thought.  I haven't yet played with it but hopefully soon and when I do I'll try to review it here.

Side Note:  If you are using Office 2007 or will use it there is a free add-in for Office 2007 that will allow you to create PDF files.  Cool huh?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Busy Bee - Big Dreamer!

Following up on thoughts about Time.  Is your goal to stay busy?  As I look around I believe that this is the goal of many people.  Put in their time and stay busy.  I think this is business Quick Sand.  It's a popular trap and if you make some decent money you can even justify that this is what should happen.  Maybe it's because I'm not as young as I once was???  I don't know.  I have observed that often when a person reaches my age they are either actively engaged in a career or they have failed at attempts toward greatness and settled for what they can get buy with.

I don't feel that way at all.  I have new dreams, new desires and see many possibilities in life and in business.  But as I say I'm not as young as I used to be and I think to myself do I really want to work day and night to make these things happen.  Well, yes I do but not the inefficient way I have done in the past.  It's time to put some of those younger people to work helping me do this thing.  Mostly because that is what I should have done all along.  See any really good dream or business idea probably is too big for one person to handle.  If one person can handle it the dream probably isn't big enough.   Also if you kill yourself or destroy your relationships trying to make it happen then you aren't very smart and looking at the end game.

My point is look at the end game.  What do you want to achieve?  The whole thing not just part.  Do you want to have a successful business but loose your marriage and alienate your kids?  I doubt many people start out thinking that way.  They just begin the process and start working in the wrong way and then that's what they get.  Well, either they get the successful business or the successful family but not both.  Usually I bet that happens because it is hard to let go.  So if you look at the end game also think some about how you want it to happen not just what you want to happen. 

So now do that out-of-the-box thinking we hear so much about.  Case in point and I will say more about this in the future but I wanted to change my business.  I wanted to make more money, spend less time doing it and not spend so much time putting out fires as they say.  Sounds good right?  But that's not all I want to provide a better service to my customers, for less money and help them to achieve less down time on their networks.  IMPOSSIBLE!  Yeah but I don't think so.  I'm testing my plan and will be announcing it here when it is ready.  Life is so full of possibilities...keep the dream alive!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Time is Money...or is it?

I have been thinking about this concept a little bit in the recent weeks.  Not exactly this catch phrase but eventually this phrase came out of the argument I was having with myself.  It's popular in business to say this.  I don't believe I agree with the phrase any more.  After much thought process I have come up with "Time is time...Money is money".  The confusion is that in our culture time can be spent on a variety of things and so can money so they can become confused.  In addition we can spend time and money both on an activity so it becomes very confusing.

So is time the same as money?  I hope not!  When it comes to my personal life I really hope not but this blog is about my business life an in that I also hope it is not true.  One reason I hope it is not true is because I have little money to show for my time right now.  I have risked and lost and risen to risk another day which we call an investment and an education. 

If time = money then there is no excuse for wasting time.  I should only spend my time on business matters and for that matter only on business matters that produce revenue, and furthermore only on those business matters that can produce the highest revenue...right?

Well, in a word yes!  That is exactly what I should spend my time budget for business matters on.  However I believe that I need a time budget for other things than money.  What else could be important?  Well, let's be real selfish here and admit that I would like to live to be at least 100 years old.  Actually that is a kind of boring number I would actually like to hit closer to the 120 mark. 

In order to do that I am going to have to spend more of my time budget on things other than money.  Let's talk health.  I need to spend some of my time on exercise and some on nutrition education and on actually taking time to prepare healthy meals.  Yes, if time were money and I still operated like that I would eat many of my meals at fast food restaurants (and I have in the past).  But if I want to live to 120 I better give up the fast food and maybe even be a lot more careful about all restaurant eating.  To eat healthy so I can live to 120 it is going to take a little more time.  (Here is a link to the nutritionist my family meets with)

If I want to be alone in my older years then I could spend the rest of my time on making money but I don't, SO - I better spend some time on my relationships.  My Wife and Kids are one of the most important relationships I have and you guessed it...they take time. 

So there are some other things I want to budget time for like the fact that I want to develop myself as a moral person and as a creative person and as an intelligent person. Throw in some rest or sleep and I have spent a lot of my time, and I can't go out and buy more time. 

Time <> Money (a programmers way of saying time does not equal money) but in order to have some money I will have to spend some of my time on making money.  I wish to spend some of that time in financial education so what I have left better be pretty darn productive.  Without a financial education I will (and have) waste a lot of my time allotted for making money.

I don't suppose there are any answers here, only questions but this blog is hopefully a way for my customers and potential customers to get to know me as well as for fellow business people to hear what somebody else is going through.  I often wish I could read someone's reflections on such matters, but I figure I can start by sharing my reflections.  I personally read thoughts from other people and enjoy those of many, one that I have enjoyed is Bob Parsons of GoDaddy.  He writes a business blog about issues he has gone through. 

This whole time thing could be overwhelming but remember I have the same exact amount of time in my day as a Billionaire.  So obviously all I have to do is figure out how to better spend my time to reach my financial goals (as well as my other goals).  My wife and I have been thinking a lot about this and are trying to develop new services and ways of doing business that maximize our efforts, while increasing service for our customers at a lower cost.  Sounds impossible.  To understand where we are going it helps to begin with an understanding of my realizations of this subject...Time.  I know it sound impossible but because I have run out of time for blogging I will share more about that at a later time.