Roy Pacitto achieves 20 years at Bryley Systems

Yes, Roy Pacitto, Director of Business Development, has made it through 20 years.

Roy started with Bryley Systems on May 22nd, 1995.  He initially provided service dispatch and management, but quickly moved to business development, where, over the years, he has transformed this group into a tightly-knit team.

Congratulations, Roy:  We’re looking forward to another 20!

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Winner of our monthly Service-Ticket Survey drawing

Monthly, we select a winner from all respondents to our service-ticket surveys.  Congratulations to DG of FCI, our survey-response winner from last month.

Our winner received a $10 gift certificate, compliments of Bryley Systems.

Selecting a Macintosh computer

Yes, the business world still thrives on Microsoft Windows; it remains the most-compatible platform for business-oriented applications.  However, we do have Mac users and they occasionally seek our advice.  Well, thanks to Laurie Lake of Macs at Work, a business partner of Bryley Systems located in Shrewsbury, MA, we can share these tips for selecting a Macintosh computer.

Basic steps in the decision process:

  • Define your preference – mobile or desktop
  • Make your choice and buy accordingly

Define your preference – mobile or desktop

Mobile workers will want a MacBook; Apple’s alternative to the Intel-branded Ultrabook, the MacBook is a sleek (13.1 mm), light (2.03 lbs.), mobile computer with an Intel processor, a 12” or a 13” Retina display, a 9-hour batters, and a full-size keyboard that can easily fit in a small carry-bag.  Prices start at $1,299.

The MacBook Air is a less-expensive, slightly heavier (2.38 lbs. to 3.48 lbs.) version with either an 11” (from $899) or 13” (from $1,199) display.  The processors are slightly faster than a comparable MacBook and storage can configure up to 1Tb, which is exclusively flash-based; electronic rather than mechanical.

The MacBook Pro comes with a 13” (from $999) or a 15” (from $1,999) Retina display powered by high-end graphics; it also has significant processing power (Intel dual-core and quad-core processors) with greater flash-based storage and the advanced, OS X Yosemite operating system.

If you are desk-bound and desire a larger display, a mouse, and a full-size keyboard with numeric keypad, you might consider an iMac.

iMacs come with quad-core processors and max-out with 3Tb of storage; the base units are of three basic types (measured by display size):

  • iMAC 21.5-inch (from $1,099)
  • iMac 27-inch (from $1,799)
  • iMac 27-inch with Retina (from $1,999)

All come equipped with at least a 500Gb hard drive, wireless keyboard, and mouse or trackpad.

Make your choice and buy accordingly

If you spend most of your time on the road, a MacBook variation makes a lot of sense.  If your eyes are strong and you wish to minimize weight in your travel bag, get the 11” MacBook Air with the 9-hour battery.  If you need a larger display with greater processing and can accept the extra weight, go with the 15” MacBook Pro.

For office-bound users; get the most you can afford in your budget.  Always buy the largest display, the most Random Access Memory (RAM) and the greatest amount of storage that you can justify; with computing, more is generally better.

Please view the article by Roman Loyola of Macworld Which Mac Should I Buy? and the article by Jesus Vigo of TechRepublic Apple’s MacBook lineup:  Which works better for business?

Alternatives:  Choose a PC or an Ultrabook

We have visited this topic repeatedly over the years, but here are two suggestions:

Firewall Trade-Up program for existing clients

We are offering a trade-up program to existing clients; we will rebate the cost of your current firewall plus provide low, fixed-price installation of a new Cisco ASA firewall/VPN appliance.

For details, please contact our Business Development team at 978.562.6077 option 2.  Or, email ITExperts@Bryley.com.

Bryley Basics: Microsoft Windows is not as vulnerable as Apple OS or Linux

Due to their size and complexity, it is difficult to completely secure a computer operating system, which leaves them vulnerable to attack.  With the number of reported hackings, most might consider Microsoft Windows to be extremely vulnerable, but Windows actually ranked less vulnerable than Apple Mac OS X, Apple iOS, and Linux.

This ranking was made by GFI Software in 2014, which reviewed popular operating systems and the number and rating of reported vulnerabilities.  GFI reported these top-5 results:

  1. Apple Mac OS X – 147 vulnerabilities; 64 High, 64 Medium, and 16 Low
  2. Apple iOS – 127 vulnerabilities; 32 High, 72 Medium, and 23 Low
  3. Linux – 119 vulnerabilities; 24 High, 74 Medium, and 12 Low
  4. Microsoft Windows Server 2008 – 38 vulnerabilities; 26 High and 12 Medium
  5. Microsoft Windows 7 – 36 vulnerabilities; 25 High and 11 Medium

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, however, was ranked as the most-vulnerable application followed by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Adobe Flash Player, and Oracle’s Java.

See the article from Swati Khandelwal of The Hacker NewsWindows?  NO, Linux and Mac OS X Most Vulnerable Operating System in 2014.

Recommended Practices: Basic training for IT end users

This is a multi-part series on recommended IT practices for organizations and their end-users.  Additional parts will be included in upcoming newsletters.

End users receive the benefits of IT, but usually with some pain involved, which they are glad to share with the IT administrators and technicians.  Oftentimes, the pain comes from not knowing the correct way to do something or from enabling malware; these can be avoided (or at least reduced) through proper training.

Training is usually considered optional, but the increased emphasis on security and compliance, along with the potential gains from trained users that are comfortable and knowledgeable with their IT assets and systems, can provide significant return on investment.

Training can play a critical role in the satisfaction of end users and in the security of the computer network.  It can provide end users with the knowledge to safely browse the Internet, reject harmful emails, and avoid trouble.  It is also important to define appropriate-use policies and demonstrate how to enter timely data into information systems.

Training topics

Generally, IT-oriented training occurs in these areas:

  • End-user equipment
  • Network resources
  • Applications
  • Policy
  • Security

End-user equipment

End-users have a myriad of devices, ranging from desktop PCs to terminals, tablets and other mobile devices; some have specialized items like hand-held scanners or terminals tied to a specific application.

The fundamentals are important:

  • Simple maintenance (cooling, ventilation, etc.)
  • How to operate the user interface (touch display, special keyboard, etc.)
  • Basic usage at the operating-system (Windows, Android, iOS) level

Ergonomics should also be considered; ensure that the equipment is optimized to the user’s body in the placement of displays, keyboards, mouse, etc. and that ergonomically correct accessories (gel-based wrist pads, comfortable seating, etc.) are provided and aligned properly.  (See Ergonomics Made Simple from the May 2014 edition of Bryley Tips and Information.)

Network resources

Resources available to end-users should be identified and demonstrated:

  • Printer features (b&w/color options, duplexing, etc.), location, and use
  • Multi-Function Printer (MFP) functions (faxing, copying, scanning) and use
  • Server names, basic purpose, shared folders, and access privileges
  • Conference-room display and wireless keyboard/mouse
  • Login credentials to Wireless Access Points (WAPs)

Labeling these resources makes them easier for end-users to identify.

Applications

Software applications fit a variety of functions, including:

  • Productivity suites:
    • Microsoft Office
    • Google Apps
  • Organization-wide:
    • Customer Relationship Management ((CRM)
    • Professional Services Administration (PSA)
    • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
  • Utilities:
    • PDF readers and writers
    • Password managers
    • File compression
    • Storage
    • Backup
  • Prevention:
    • Email protection
    • End-point security
    • Web filtering

(Software applications are discussed in the September 2013 through January 2014 editions of Bryley Tips and Information.)

Policy

Usage policies focus on the organization’s permissiveness (and lack thereof); they are designed to specify proper use and discourage improper behavior.

Most organizations have at least these IT-related policies:

  • Authorized use of computer network and its resources
  • Internet, email, and social media use and etiquette
  • Information Security Policy

Security

Security relies heavily on policies, training, and protective applications; the human element is the largest security risk in any organization.  Policies and training should encourage end-user behavior that minimizes security risks; protective applications help to enforce policies and to detect and remove problems when they occur.

Security training should include, at a minimum:

  • Anti-virus/anti-malware protection
  • Preventing phishing attacks
  • Password guidance
  • Safe web browsing

Many organizations will provide continuous training and reminders; some setup internal honeypots designed to lure end users into inappropriate behavior so that this behavior can be addressed and corrected.

Training process and related factors

The training process:

  • Set training goals
  • Assess end-user needs
  • Tailor the delivery methods
  • Create the training program
  • Scale the program to the audience

Trainers should factor in these items:

  • Budget training at the beginning of the project
  • Consider the needs and learning styles of the end-users
  • Marry the business context of the need to the IT training

References