A Different Way of Introducing Ourselves

If you follow amshot (and you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this), you may have noticed something new amid our technology- and IT-related posts. To commemorate amshot’s tremendous growth over the last four years, Oklahoma City-based artist Sam Washburn is developing 40-60 sketches for an amshot-themed art project whose overall connectivity will be revealed upon completion of the last piece. Each week we’ll reveal another way amshot helps its clients. Each drawing will stand on its own while contributing to the larger image, just as each of amshot’s services contributes to the company as a whole. We want to show what makes us unique.

Sam Washburn art

If this sounds a bit unusual, it is. amshot isn’t your typical managed services company, and the way we celebrate our anniversary shouldn’t be typical, either. Although we have been around since 2004, when our founder, Michael Thomas, began installing wifi hotspots around Norman, we have turned a corner over the last year. We are young as a development company, but we’re growing up quickly. We continue to add developers to our team and are equipped to handle anything we encounter, from a ground-up software project to embedding our developers in clients’ companies to save them the expense and headache of staffing an IT department.

Sam Washburn art

As anyone who has tried to do so knows, recruiting developers and IT professionals is hugely challenging and the market for them is always hypercompetitive. A company first has to find qualified developers and then assess their skills — skills that often difficult for non-developers to assess — or hire a recruiter to find candidates instead. Companies must provide attractive compensation and benefit plans. They must know what they need from these highly technical staffers. And they must do all of this when the unemployment rate for them is less than 1 percent. Let us worry about IT and software development so you can focus on your business’ core activities.

Through this project, Sam sought to add some levity to the serious business of improving and protecting clients precious IT resources. Each piece of his collage will illustrate a small part of amshot — culturally, professionally and personally. The result will be equal parts Wes Anderson and Where’s Waldo. We’re anxious and excited to see what our highly talented collaborator comes up with.

Sam’s first three installments focus on understanding clients’ businesses and helping to improve them; protecting clients from threats and helping clients make correct decisions in today’s difficult and confusing environment.

At amshot, our employees aren’t cogs, and our clients aren’t, either. We hope Sam’s work demonstrates this.

Sam Washburn art

Why You Should Outsource Your IT

Growing businesses face certain universal milestones: seeking outside investment, professionalizing human resources, and, perhaps to the greatest chagrin of business owners, figuring out what the heck to do about information technology.

Does a business bite the bullet and hire an IT manager? Can it afford to hire a good one? How does it even find a qualified person with the shortage in the workforce?

Does a business hire somebody’s brother-in-law who “knows about computers” or that guy who built a website for a friend?

Does a business seek bids on a freelancer website?

If this sounds familiar, you’ve probably started a business. Figuring out what to do about your computing needs seems daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Rather than gambling with your company’s valuable data or hiring a technical staffer you may not need, consider managed IT services.

Managed services close the gap between setting up a single workstation and having an entire department on call. Many can set up a PC or laptop and configuring email or WiFi access. A much greater skill level, however, is required to network machines securely; set up virtual protected networks for secure, remote access; connect mobile devices securely to the network, both at the office and everywhere else; and troubleshoot when something goes wrong.

Business owners typically don’t think much about IT until something goes wrong — and something always goes wrong. Employees download viruses that compromise the system, or the company grows enough that it taxes the IT resources in place. Something will always happen.

We call this the “break-it-fix-it” model of IT management. Rather than plan for security, growth and future IT needs from the beginning, businesses wait for a fire and then call an IT professional to put it out. This is not only costly, as anyone who has had to hire a consultant to respond to an IT-related emergency can attest, but also very inefficient. Just like it makes more sense to keep a room clean rather than wait until it’s filthy, designing your network with future needs in mind will save many headaches years later.

When a business uses managed services, it hands off IT responsibility to firms like ours. When we do our job, our clients not only won’t have to worry about putting out IT-related fires; these emergencies are few and far between because the system will have been set up correctly and meticulously planned.

Outsourcing IT makes sense for many businesses, but there are several things to consider. Typically, businesses outsource tasks that are time-consuming and don’t relate to their core competencies. Potential outsourcing clients should consider what they want, with specific, agreed-upon metrics, and whether the partner is a good fit. Businesses often overlook the need to have a designated person to manage the relationship. To really make outsourcing shine, it’s not enough to hand over the work and forget about it.

Managed IT services have the potential to save money and free up personnel to grow the business. It makes sense for many small to medium-sized businesses. Does it make sense for yours?

Quick tip – HTML signatures for iOS6

iOS6Before iOS6, email signatures on your iPhone/iPad have been limited to just plain text, and one signature for all accounts.

In iOS6 you can add logos, links, and styled text to you email signature. You can also specify different signatures per account.

If you already have an HTML signature that you’d like to use, here is what you need to do:

 

  1. Start by sending yourself an email with the HTML signature in it.
  2. Next, go to your iPhone (or iPad) and open that message.
  3. Tap and hold the signature text.
  4. Select all the text and images of your signature.
  5. Copy the selected block of content.
  6. Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Signature
  7. In the text field, tap, hold, and paste your signature.

[box type=”info”] Note: This will copy only plain or styled(bold, italic, or underlined) text, plus images and links. It won’t copy text colors and font sizes.[/box]

If you have multiple accounts on your iPhone be sure to select the “Per Account” field at the top of “Signature”.

[jcolumns]Plain text signatures on 3 email accounts:iOS6 Signature area

[jcol/]For business, something a little more jazzy:20130206-132623.jpg [/jcolumns]

 

I.T. Solutions for the Tush

I.T. problems? We like to solve them, but we have an I.T. issue of our own.

Idle on the Tush

The problem is – Office work is hard on the body!

If you don’t sit at a desk for hours every day, you’re probably scratching your head and saying to yourself, “How can office work and sitting be so bad for you?” Well, it’s not just bad, it’s a serious health issue. Here are a few reasons why.

 

James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D.  Answers the question: What are the risks of sitting too much?

“Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including:”

[jcolumns]

  • obesity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • increased blood pressure

[jcol/]

  • high blood sugar
  • excess body fat around the waist
  • abnormal cholesterol levels.

[/jcolumns]

Those of us whose jobs require 6 to 8 hours a day sitting at a desk need to perk up your ears and listen to your body. It’s probably telling you that something isn’t right. Are you’re knees stiff when you stand up? Does your backside feel numb? Are your shoulders aching and full of knots? How about your eyes, are they tired of staring at a computer screen? Then it’s time to get UP!

 

 Amshot found a really great solution – tech stlye: It’s called “UP” by Jawbone

“UP is a wristband and app that tracks how you sleep, move and eat—then helps you use that information to feel your best.”

up-by-jawbone-lowres-002One of the features of the wristband is that it lets you know when you have been idle too long. It will vibrate on your wrist, letting you know that you haven’t moved in an hour. So get up, stretch your legs, take a walk, go get some fresh air, MOVE!

All features include:

[jcolumns]

  • Sleep and nap tracking
  • 24/7 activity tracking
  • Food and drink tracking
  • Mood tracking

[jcol/]

  • Insight engine
  • Idle alert
  • Smart alarm
  • 10 day battery

[jcol/]

  • Water resistant design
  • Day and night form tracker
  • Power nap
  • Simple Sync

[/jcolumns]

Amshot Solutions is already using UP and committed to becoming more aware of sitting too long in our office. We think that every desk sitting, computer pounding employee should do the same.

Information found at mayoclinic.com & Jawbone

Break out the Blue Beanies, let’s celebrate web standards.

Today is the 6th Annual International  Blue Beanie Day! Let’s celebrate Web Standards, Best Practices, HTML, CSS, and all the other languages and technologies that make up the fantabulous “WWW” – the Internet!

Web standards guru, Jeffrey Zeldman, wore a blue fuzzy fez on the cover of his book, Designing With Web StandardsWorn on this day, it symbolizes that you support the Web Standards Project and the ongoing effort to wrangle every one else to comply with these standards as well. It also makes a statement that you agree and are willing to design websites using best practices.

“Standards keep the web from fragmenting into tiny fiefdoms best viewed with a particular browser or plug-in only. Web standards keep our content portable and accessible across platforms, devices and operating systems. Each November 30, we celebrate. You wonderful people can help spread the word.”

-Jeffrey Zeldman

I won’t bore you with all the boring, nerdy details of what web standards and best practices are exactly. All you need to know is that it’s all good, but if you really want to find out, have a look at Zeldman’s page. There are a lot of good links to check out.

If you really want to show off your support for web standards,  Take a self-portrait wearing a blue beanie (toque, tuque, cap) and upload it to the Sixth International Blue Beanie Day 2012 – flickr pool! on Flickr.

And maybe Jeffrey will favorite you’re  photo like he did me last year!

janell gets a zeldman favorite

You can also upload your photo to Instagram, and announce it on Twitter using the hashtag #bbd12. For extra fun, add a blue beanie to your social network avatar on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, etc.

Thanks for supporting web standards!

http://www.zeldman.com/bbd/

 

Awesome Video on Oklahoma During 1960-1970

All new iPhone, MacBook Pro and Airport Express

Just yesterday Apple released a whole new line of products. Including the all new iOS6 iPhone with control over which calls you receive. The new features include….

Rejection at its finest – Just because we can be reached on the moon or in the jungle doesn’t mean its the right time or place to pick up. Now you can reject a call with a reminder to call someone back or even with a pre-programmed text letting them know you will get back to them. The hardest part about this new feature will be coming up with your crazy excuses as to why you didn’t pick up.

Facetime over 3G – Tested over AT&T it reportedly worked great! Although it will hurt your wallet unless you have a unlimited data package.

Siri – With a new and improved Siri that provides movie times, sports scores, restaurant ratings and table reservations its defiantly received a face lift.

Facebook – You can directly post photos from your photo album to Facebook, update your status from the notification center, and sync your contact list with each person’s corresponding Facebook account.

Maps – Apple gave Goolge the boot and created its own Map. Were not quite sure how everyone feels about it just yet.

Music App – Nothing to jump for joy about, its works the same with an updated look.

iOS6 won’t be here for a few months, but if you want to try and jack some of the features before they hit check out this cool article iOS6 NOW

 

MacBook Pro

with Retina display

Next to the iPhone we are freaking out about the new line of MacBook Pro’s. This thing is crazy, I could go on and on about the new retina display, but what’s the point. Basically all you just need to know is that it has a 2800 x 1800 resolution on a 15.4-inch screen—that’s well over 5 million pixels, smashing your HDTV. If I were a photographer editing photo’s this would be a must have for me.

Did I mention they are about at thin as your iPhone4S weighing in at 4.5 pounds, and consists of Intel’s fastest new Ivy Bridge processors—Quad-Core 2.7 GHz of processing. Including Nvidia’s Kepler GeForce GT 650M. A gamers dream for someone that is on the go.

Capable of packing 768GB of flash storage. With two Thunderbolt ports, HDMI, an SD card, USB 3.0, and “MagSafe 2.” No ethernet port or optical drive, but who cares that’s old anyway. Starting at $2200 with a 2.3 GHz Ivy Bridge processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 SSD. Ships today!


 The new AirPort Express supports simultaneous dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. That means it transmits at both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies at the same time. So no matter which band your wireless devices use, they’ll automatically connect to the best available band for the fastest possible performance.

To learn more about the new airport express and all of its features refere to Apple site.  http://www.apple.com/airportexpress/ 

 

 

iTunes Missing Movies

Recently we had a client purchase a new Apple TV. Anxious to curl up on the couch to watch one of their previously purchased movies they were confused when it was no where to be found. Through researching the issue amshot discovered that not all movies were available from iTunes in the cloud. Although, there were no articles to support the issue we did come across a movie within iTunes letting us know that there are in fact movies that cannot be accessed via iTunes cloud. Take a look at the lovely message in the image below $14.99 Buy Movie.

 

 

Google Drive

What Is Google Drive?

Google Drive is another option for storing your stuff in the cloud. But what is it, exactly?

The Dropbox-dominated cloud storage space has become increasingly crowded. Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Apple’s iCloud, Evernote, and Box are all contending for your content. But Google Drive might just stand out from the pack.

Google Drive is a cloud storage service…

Essentially, it’s a beefed-up version of Google Docs. You can store your documents, photos, music, videos, etc. all in one place. It syncs with your mobile devices and your computer, so if you make a change from one gadget, it will automatically show up if you were to access it elsewhere.

It tracks your changes too, so if you make an edit to the document and hit save, you can still look back at all your revisions from the past 30 days. Of course it relies heavily on Google search, with image recognition for browsing your photos and some OCR capabilities for sniffing out text in pictures.

Like its competitors you can get up to 5GB of space for free, after which you can upgrade. It’s $2.49/month for 25GB, $4.99/month for 100GB, and $49.99 a month for a whopping 1TB. If you move to a premium account it also automatically expands your Gmail storage to 25GB.

Google Drive Site

Hundreds of thousands of people may lose Internet in July

For computer users, a few mouse clicks could mean the difference between staying online and losing Internet connections this summer.

The problem began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of infected computers around the world. In a highly unusual response, the FBI set up a safety net months ago using government computers to prevent Internet disruptions for those infected users. But that system is to be shut down.

The FBI is encouraging users to visit a website run by its security partner, http://www.dcwg.org, that will inform them whether they’re infected and explain how to fix the problem. After July 9, infected users won’t be able to connect to the Internet.

If you have any questions or think you might need helping checking out your system please contact one of our agents at amshot solutions.

 

Is your company working off of the “Break-Fix” Philosophy?

New alternatives to the “break-fix” scenario began to emerge

The break-fix IT scenario continues to be the way the majority of small to medium sized businesses manage their computer networks. They go about their business every day waiting for something to happen, and when it does, they call in their “computer experts” to save the day…or at the bare minimum, fix the problem.

Today, no business can really afford the risk and uncertainty of relying on a “Break-fix maintenance service” because your business is too dependent on having a reliable IT system. Furthermore, having separate suppliers responsible for different parts of the system puts you in the difficult position of trying to decide who should be delivering the service you require. You simply do not have time for this

The truth is, there is a much better and cost-effective way to manage your network. Technology solutions for your company have drastically changed over the past 5-10 years. Can you remember a time when there wasn’t a computer on everyone’s desk? When the only thing available was a tape backup, or when all employees didn’t have access to the internet?

The times change, and technology usually changes with it…not always for the better, but in most cases the solutions that stick around – stick around for a reason. And of course the first companies that benefited from these changes were the ones with money – the Fortune 500 companies…

Managed Services: A break through for fortune 500 companies

At the same time, the hardware and software vendors were adding new and better ways for the systems to signal problems as early as possible. Simple Network Management Protocol had been developing since the early 90’s and was being applied to PC’s. The first systems that could watch these tools and turn all the data into usable information were complex to manage, were geared only to large networks, and were prohibitively expensive for small business.

In 2005, systems started to mature that allowed smaller companies to take advantage of the same features and benefits as the large companies. This technology started the “Managed Services” movement. Once all of the large Fortune 500 companies incorporated “managed services” into their IT worlds, it was only a matter of time before the service would be available and affordable to small to mid-sized businesses.

Exactly what is managed services

Every day more and more businesses are turning to a Managed Services Company to service their computer and technology needs. But what does managed services actually mean and how can you tell if an IT Support company is not just using the word as a marketing tool, but is in fact only offering “flat rate” services packaged as “managed services’?

As a definition, managed services allow a business to offload IT operations to a company known as a Managed Services Provider. The managed service provider assumes an ongoing responsibility

for 24-hour monitoring, managing and/or problem resolutions for the IT systems within a business.

Just like larger companies, small businesses need technology to operate efficiently and to compete effectively. But as reliance on IT grows, the resources needed to support this increasingly complex IT environment may not. In many small businesses, IT resources are limited and can be quickly overwhelmed.

If you fall behind in keeping up with things such as backups, patches and security, the odds greatly increase that you’ll face an IT outage or another problem down the road that will negatively impact your business. For instance, if your Email server, customer relationship management system, financial application or network goes down, you will likely face substantial productivity and revenue losses as a result.

Want to learn more about managed services please contact us at Amshot Solutions