May 9, 2013
Check out our May newsletter and see what's going on in the world of IRIS!
January 24, 2013
What are your thoughts on "tech talk?" We try to always make an effort not to use too much technical jargon when communicating with our clients. We understand how overwhelming and intimidating it can be to hear, especially if you don't understand exactly what certain words mean. While there may be some cases when we are required to use specific technical vocabulary, we do take the time to explain what we are referring to and break it down in a simple manner until the client fully understands. Afterall, if you are the one paying for our services don't you want to understand what is taking place?
If you ever have any questions regarding work we are doing or what something means, please don't hesiste to ask. We are here to make IT as simple and painless for you and your staff so you can focus on running you business!
August 6, 2012
One of our employee's mothers is a Department Head for a large medical practice in Georgia. Over a recent weekend one of the locations was burglarized and the thieves were able to get away with three laptops and a little cash, however because of the way the laptops were utililized, and the fact that the thieves were only able to gain access to a small, separate section of the office, no breach of Protected Health Information (PHI) occurred. The laptops were used in the office only and their primary function was accessing the server and the documents and applications contained on it. Everything was password protected and no documents or PHI were saved locally on the laptops. These seemingly small steps that were taken out of precaution when the laptops were initially setup and during use were enough to negate any sort of breach that may have occurred due to the theft of these devices; something that would have cost the practice an exorbitant amount of money and embarrassment.
Aside from not saving PHI and other important documents locally to prevent a breach from the standpoint of HIPAA, it is also not advised to save documents locally on machines that do not get regularly backed up in the event the information becomes corrupted or accidentally deleted. Servers are installed and configured to serve the purpose of centralized data storage for all business operations; however it is possible to place security parameters on certain drives and files to prevent unwanted access from others in the office.
Be smart with where and how information is saved so it is done in a manner to prevent unnecessary headache for you and your patients in the future.
July 31, 2012
When is the last time you took a minute to go unplugged? I mean completely unplugged without phone, text, email, Facebook, Twitter, cable TV, Netflix, or even Internet.
I am in the middle of a move and found myself without internet access, a television, access to a newsfeed or blog, and I was LOST. I am always connected to some type of device. I do still have my handy iPhone but I was shut off to the rest of the world.
Last night I went outside and sat down for about two hours with my family. We did not do anything but talk about our upcoming vacation and the next school year. It was really a nice thing to not be so attached. Had we not been in the middle of a move and been at home we would have been on the internet, Facebook, or just surfing channels on tv. After the two hours we of course found a way to get on Netflix and watch "Thor" but it was nice while it lasted.
Here is an interesting article about a college student's "Amish Project" to go unplugged.
Try it. You might find it liberating.
July 25, 2012
If you have ever purchased a house you have more than likely said, "In my next house I'm going to fix _____ problem." Well, software programmers do the same thing. Programmers are typically the type of people who get very excited about an idea, have spent an unlimited amount of hours getting this idea ready to go, and sometimes do not spend enough time in quality assurance. Software development companies, like Firefox for instance, are typically broken up into divisions such as programming and quality assurance to make sure the product is not only well thought out but also working as promised. The last thing a programmer ever wants to hear is bugs about a set of code they wrote in the past. The only thing a programmer wants is to focus on the newest puzzle they are working on to complete the application.
Consumers in the IT world get the same bug in them. Sometimes all we hear is "New Release" and we run out and get it. This can be a big problem. For instance, someone in your office went out and purchased Microsoft Office 2007 the day it came out and started creating files that could only be read by Office 2007. Maybe a better thought out approach would have been to evaluate the advantages of going to a new version before jumping in blind.
The reason for this discussion is due to the release of Windows 8. I have seen a few videos of the changes and it looks completely different. It may be great to go out and purchase Windows 8 for a non-production box but do not do it for a vital computer. Windows 8 may be great and could change the way we talk about technology but don't fall for the next version just now.
Just like anything, let the gamers, geeks, and nerds tell you how it is before you dive in.
July 18, 2012
This past week we had a virus attach itself to a computer and spread through an entire network. The virus was a strain of a virus that had been previously detected and caught by an anti-virus software, however this strain did get through. We called our vendor (Trend Micro) to see if they had a fix for this strain but they did not. As it turns out this is a known pattern but the virus changed to something different, now in the 15th different change, and the anti-virus could not stop it.
The infection was so widespread that every single device we plugged in to eliminate the virus got infected. I put in a thumb drive to install anti-virus software and the virus attacked files on my thumb drive. It was most definitely the nastiest virus I have seen since the original "I love you" virus from 1999.
I was telling my son about it and he asked the most common question, "Why does someone create these?" The answer is simple; MONEY. Let's say that you created a new cleaning solution to take grease off of a kitchen stove and you thought it was the best product ever. You would need to market this new solution by creating pamphlets, banners, radio ads, television ads, and even signs on the highway. All of this only gets you to your market in the local area. Now take that same thought and ask yourself if you could reach 20,000 computers in less than a week, would you do it? It is pretty simple. Viruses and spyware are out there now to market to you. The internet is nothing more than computers talking to other computers and requesting information from different ones. Why not infect a few computers to get your ad out there? This is the rational thinking of those who are creating havoc on our networks. Sure it is illegal but some people are willing to run the risk.
The heart of this entry is to keep your systems up to date always. Keep good perimeter protection as most viruses come in across the internet. This network was just unlucky as we did have all of this done and it still got through.
Good luck and as always, safe surfing!
November 18, 2011
What do you get when you have a room full of computer nerds for a conference? IT Nation.
Last week IRIS Solutions sent two people down to IT Nation (the annual partner summit hosted by our management software company in Florida) to help develop our technical skills. The conference was great for us and we got a good break from the day-to-day grind. While down there we were able to network with other IT shops like ours and talk about best practice.
We met with different vendors such as ConnectWise, SonicWALL, Firebox, Axcient, Kaseya, Symform, and LabTech. These may not sound like the types of companies you are used to hearing about, however they help shops like ours offer great solutions to our customer base. These companies build products that we can offer our clients at a smaller scale since so many of the products offered and built for IT from companies like Microsoft, Oracle, and Cisco are built for large platforms. The smaller channel driven providers like us help our deployment of technologies such as hosted Exchange, online backup, application performance, and other cloud-based services.
Overall we have made some significant improvements to our business. We have developed better policies for ticket flow and problem resolution and are going to start using something called "email connector" to help keep up with support-based emails better. We have also made improvements to our quoting system for faster turnaround on products and replacements.
As we talked to other business partners like us there is one thing for sure; IT businesses like ours have a lot to offer other small to medium sized businesses. The world of IT is changing so rapidly that it is hard to keep up, but in a small company like ours we can see a change coming and make immediate changes to our process and direction to overcome those obstacles. Have you ever seen IBM do anything fast? Think about this: IBM owned the computer market with the IBM XT in the mid to late '80s. Around this time a small startup called Dell came in and took over the delivery of computers to individuals and businesses. IBM could not change quickly enough and then Dell became the number one reseller.
IRIS Solutions is just the right sized company to help facilitate change for our evolving future in IT. We learned a lot during IT Nation and are continuing to make improvements to our company.
June 29, 2011
We field many calls requesting help with the user's "Microsoft." These calls can often mean Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or even the Operating System. So what is the difference?
The Operating System (OS) is the software that runs on the PC. The dictionary.com meaning is "the collection of software that directs a computer's operations, controlling and scheduling the execution of other programs, and managing storage, input/out, and communication resources." The OS is needed to run the other apps you use in your business. Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer run within the Operating System.
Microsoft Office is a collection of applications such as Word, Excel, Access, Publisher, Power Point, Outlook, and Info Path. This collection of applications gives you various functions from developing presentation materials, recording data and housing that data, to simply checking email and keeping up with contacts and your calendar.
Internet Explorer is the application you use to browse the internet. You can browse web pages and also access web applications via the web browser.
There are distinct differences in these Microsoft products. Being clear about the issue and which part of the Microsoft collection of applications is causing issues can be vital to a timlier fix to your problem.
June 6, 2011
One thing I see with surprising frequency is a business that does not understand the importance of maintaining valid and current backup data. On occasion we see backup drives that have been left unplugged, are filled to capacity, or software that has been improperly configured and does not run as scheduled. When we discover issues such as this during a new client assessment, the business owner will often admit knowledge of the situation or appear unconcerned.
To date, I have only had to assist one company with data loss coupled with a failed backup device. The amount of time, frustration, and manpower that this requires cannot be understated--- it is staggering. Any company that loses financial data can encounter further financial and time loss penalties when that information is needed by the IRS or similar organizations. For those businesses that are in any way involved with medical practices, HIPAA violations also become a serious concern. Recently we have seen the first instances of financial penalties from HIPAA for data loss:
- In February 2011 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services fined Massachusetts General Hospital $1 million for losing the medical records of 192 patients.
- Around the same time, Cignet Health of Maryland was fined $4.3 million for failing to provide patients a copy of their medical records upon request.
The danger of data loss and/or theft is very real and we are seeing practices suffering massive penalties as the associated agencies attempt to impose the full reach of their regulations. Some additional repercussions of sensitive data loss can include mandatory public announcements of the incident, requirements to directly contact all potentially affected persons and explain the situation to them, and increased audit scrutiny for several years thereafter.
Storage solutions today are far more reliable and far less expensive than ever in the history of electronic data storage. The related software to manage and monitor your data backups has become much more advanced as well. Not to sound cliche, but if you're wondering if you can afford a good backup solution the better question to ask is "Can I afford not to?"
IRIS Solutions offers several forms of data backup and monitoring services. Please take a moment to contact us with your questions and concerns on this very important topic!
May 23, 2011
You're planning a cookout at your house: do you visit Dean & Deluca for meat, Earth Fare for produce, and, if you have the energy and time, Harris Teeter for condiments, or do you like to get all items from one reliable source? Not everyone has the time or money to shop around at specialty venues for various items so why should you have to do the same for your IT services?
IRIS Solutions prides itself as being a "one stop shop" for all of your IT needs. Whether you're building a new office from the ground up or simply need assistance in selecting a new telecom provider or practice management software, we have the experience and expertise to guide you through the entire process.
As a managed services provider we do just that; "manage" our clients and their IT infrastructure to take the guesswork out of a sometimes scary and unsure element of your office. We work with countless vendors and local reps to ensure any transition is as seamless as possible. We also act as a liason between you and the third party provider to be sure you are getting the best solution for your environment.
Please contact us to see how we can better manage your IT services and solutions under one umbrella, and if you prefer to get your "meat and veggies" from different sources, we can provide assistance in those areas too.