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Lee Kirkby

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Windows 10 Getting Ready For Release

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

Many users of Windows software are waiting to see what the new proposed release, Windows 10, is going to be like.  Since the release of Windows 8 and its subsequent free upgrade Windows 8.1 was decidely under whelming there is a hope that Windows 10 will not disappoint again.  Windows10Logo_1

Since Windows 7 the long standing primary installation of this important operating system is getting pretty long in the tooth, especially with the advent of the growth of mobile computing a move to a new platform is certainly desirable for many users.  Of course anyone using Windows 8.1, even if they have become more comfortable over time, will be really looking to get new functionality and better comfort with the new release. Windows 8 for SMB businesses has not gained great traction so the changes here will be more consumer driven.  For Windows 7 there are many businesses who are ready for a change to a new OS.

To get a feel for what to expect with this new critical release for Microsoft, here are some comments you can review:

At this point much of the discussion around Windows 10 has been focused at IT professionals and those who are more technically inclined.  This is going to change once the general release comes out at the end of this month.  Millions of users of the Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 and 8.1 are going to be notified that they are eligible and on the list to receive the new operating system.  At this point they have one year to decide to install and activate it to be able to use it free for life of the computer.
Figuring out whether you wish to go ahead with the installation and start using Windows 10 right away is going to be something you want to check out.  Do some reading, check with some of those you trust about upgrading software, check the notices and most of all check with the suppliers of key software applications you count on.  Once the indicators show more potential for gaining performance or functionality go ahead and do the upgrade.  Windows 10 is going to become the new reality for PCs pretty soon and if you are eligible to join the ranks without new costs then it may just be a worthwhile thing to do in the next twelve months.
Lee K

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Topics: Windows 8, Windows 10

Windows Server 2003 Support Ended

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

The date has come and gone for the end of Microsoft support for Windows Server 2003.  July 14th was the announced last date for security patches to be provided for this highly successful server software.  It has been predicted that as many as half of Canadian firms still have at least one server operating with the 2003 server software.  

With the end of regular security releases the potential for some sort of breach on these servers to occur increases over time.  The warnings have been out for some time but now action is needed. Those players who seem to take joy in finding ways to hack people's systems or who wish to attempt penetration for nefarious purposes will put greater effort into find vulnerabilities in the Server 2003 platform since they know that those vulnerabilities can be long lived without regular corrections.

Since 2003 was such a popular installation the numbers of potential targets are still large, unless companies (you?) take action now to replace the 2003 Server with an alternative.

Of course this becomes a time for upgrade.  Given that 2003 Server is over twelve years old, a lot has happened since its release and therefore there are many potential gains to be had with installing newer server software to be the backbone of your systems.

Probably the best bet if you are able is to jump to Windows Server 2012 R2 the current release of Microsoft.  There are many robust new features available in this platform that you can use to enhance your operations.  Of course one of the first things you need to know is whether your other line of business applications are supported on the platform.  If not then you may have to consider other solutions.

It is still possible to install Windows Server 2008 which was the release after 2003 but obviously it is not going to offer all of the latest enhancements nor will that installation likely have as long a life cycle as moving to the more recent release.  The one benefit is that many more line of business applications are going to have been rewritten to match up with this version of the server software simply because it is so much later in its life cycle.  Most currently offered packages will have been upgraded to this level for some time now and any bugs or issues should be well ironed out.

The biggest challenge for some companies may be if they have custom developed packages requiring the 2003 server software and there may be the need to reprogram or find new alternatives to be able to move on.  Given the inevitability of eventually having to replace the server making the changes now as soon as possible makes a lot of sense rather than investing more effort in anything based on running Server 2003. Of course doing this is not going to be easy but it can be accomplished with effort and planning.

Part of the challenge for migrating is making the decision on what to go to.  For many companies this involves a decision on whether to remain on their own servers or to move to a hosted or cloud environment.  both of these options have value but bring a whole new set of concerns to address before final changes are made.  When the decision makers are less comfortable with IT needs or lack in house skills to conduct assessments it makes it even harder to decide.  Servers have become the core of many business operations and no one wants to gamble on their operation.  This is where knowledgeable help is often needed.

If your decisions are not made by now, you are already behind the curve and will have to put some real effort into catching up.  Unlike workstation operating systems, server operating systems have a much larger overall impact on a business and it is much harder to isolate them from the network environment. When XP support was ended some systems might be taken off the network and still used for a while.  For a server this is almost impossible since the whole reason for a server is to facilitate centralization and interaction between users on the network it supports.

Windows Server 2003 has done its work for a long time and with great reliability and results for thousands of users. Its time has come.  It is time for it to have a rest and be replaced.

Lee K

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Photo:  Windows Server 2003 logo trademark of Microsoft Corporation.


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Topics: server software, IT network, network security

IT Technology Impacts Pan Am Games

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

Last week the Pan Am Games got started in Southern Ontario including Toronto, Milton, Hamilton, St. Catharines and Welland.  As a precursor to the the games starting IT World Canada published an interesting slide show featuring innovations in technology that have affected various sports.  These first time uses have morfed into regular part of the sports shown.  

One of the features of the slide show included what components of computer technology the games require.  How about 2400 workstations (desktops and laptops), 2300 monitors, 50 servers and  storage solutions spread across the 40 venues?  That's is a pretty massive collection of tools which are assembled just to keep a short but big event running.

What other things are affected by the Pan Am?  How about the drivers who now have to deal with more and less accessible HOV lanes?  Will the GPS technology that provides real time traffic data to users help them get to work or to event parking be a help?  This is something that gets taken for granted but the technology behind it is pretty impressive.  Google offers similar capability through Google Maps for cell phones.  The system of highway cameras run by MTO will also help. Of course there is also the temporary camera system being used to police the busiest highways to ensure people are following the rules as well.  Watch for the solar panels and the orange boxes along the HOV routes.

Employers are being encouraged to provide flexible work rules so that employees are not forced to be on the roads at the same time as Pan Am fans.  Flexible starting times, closing times and the ability for people to work from home are some of the steps being taken. Each of these has a technology component (information sharing systems, remote computer access, email, chat) that can help facilitate activity and keep people connected even if not in the office at the same time.

Of course public transit is a big part of dealing with the potential crowd issues and we all know that schedules, system operations and consumer information require big technology components to make it possible to handle the volumes of users.  There is a tool available called Triplinx that can help you plan public transit use.

Then there is the ticket process.  Most of those who will attend the many events and venues for the Pan Am Games will have accessed some information site to obtain information, buy tickets or get directions to their chosen sport.  Technology drives the ticket process from beginning to end.

Most of us take the underlying technology that helps our modern society to function for granted.  When major, short term impacts are created like the Pan Am events we can definitely be thankful that it is all there and functioning (usually very reliably) in order to keep our daily activities flowing inspite of the potential increases in volume of people moving.

Enjoy the games.

Lee K

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Photo Credit:  Pan Am Games Toronto 2015


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Topics: Computer, business processes

Matching IT Support Needs To Vendor Delivery

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jul 8, 2015 @ 07:07 AM

One of the most challenging things for businesses looking for IT support is matching their needs to vendor's delivery capabilities and models.  There is a lot of discussion in the IT industry around how best to deliver I.T. services in a cost effective and efficient manner.  Whether this is being done well is always a question to consider.

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Topics: IT support

Encryption For Cloud Data Security Canada

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

One of the biggest issues that many companies deal with when they consider cloud data security is becoming comfortable that their information will be secure and not subject to unauthorized access. 

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Topics: Software, business processes, data security

Is A Paperless Workplace Not Doable?

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 @ 14:06 PM

For many years businesses have been told that they can improve their processes by reducing paper use and going digital in their information flows.  For some reason the paperless workplace still does not seem to have traction in most businesses.  

Certainly there have been steps taken to reduce paper, often in places like invoicing and issuing of account statements.  Sometimes it has been in correspondence since the email has definitely overtaken the formal paper letter for much of the daily correspondence of most operations.  Even with these changes the paperless workplace does not seem to be entrenched however.

I sometimes talk about the less paper office instead.  It seems to me that this is achievable in most operations and with some effort it can lead to a substantial reduction in costs and also it can lead to a reduction in time expended carrying out daily transactions.

In a recent blog article John Mancini asks the question, "Is a paper-free workplace possible?". 

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Topics: business processes, Less paper office, office technology

Canadian SMB Firms Not Aggressive In IT & Technology Adoption

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jun 17, 2015 @ 11:06 AM

Recent reports indicate that Canadian SMB firms could benefit from being more aggressive about adopting new IT and technology as a means to improve productivity and gain from leveraging these types of investments.

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Topics: technology tools, business processes, digital tools, office technology

Microsoft Announces Canadian Cloud Data Centres

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jun 10, 2015 @ 07:06 AM

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Topics: cloud computing, business processes, Canadian Legislation

Lenovo Expands Laptop Battery Recall

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jun 3, 2015 @ 09:06 AM

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Topics: Computer, Lenovo

IT Security Remains A Key Issue For Canadian Business

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 08:05 AM

One of the publications I follow regularly is IT World Canada.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I refer to some of their articles frequently, partially because they take a broad view of what constitutes I.T. and that helps me to see a wide variety of issues which can affect office environments. 

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Topics: IT network, network security