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Our Fix-It Guy: Steve Nowak

Friday, January 02, 2015

People profiles give you a chance to meet our staff - the folks you may deal with on a regular basis here at IT Resource. 

Official Title: Network Engineer II

What do you do at IT Resource, and what certifications do you have: I provide customers with IT services from ranging server configuration and maintenance, to software license management, projects, and network management. Providing customers with end to end service to fulfill any IT needs they may have is what I do. My certifications include Network Engineer - MCP, Cisco Unified Computing Technology Support Specialist, Cisco Data Center Support for UC Specialist, WebEx Design and Implementation, and VMware VSP.

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Build my dream home on the shores of Lake Michigan. 

Do you have any hidden talents?  I am pretty good at electrical and mechanical work. The repair of small engines and home projects of sorts come naturally to me. I love to work to improve my home and assist my family and friends on their projects.

What is the best part about working at ITR? Every day is an opportunity to learn about emerging trends and to apply those to new and existing customers.

How long have you worked at ITR? Since September, 2011

If you knew then, what you know now, what piece of advice would you give yourself? Add your gut feelings in to the decisions you make with logic. Your gut may be right.

What do you want to be when you grow up? I still would like to work for the US Forest Service in the Manistee National Forest or Yellowstone National Park as a park ranger, if money is no object. Can’t get enough of the natural beauty of either location.

What is the most interesting job you’ve ever had that was not IT related? Fieldman/Truck Driver while in college for a local farm Co-Op. I drove all over Michigan and elsewhere in everything from pickup trucks to tractor trailers. I worked with farmers, and companies like Meijer, Spartan Stores, D&W, and others to make sure that the Michigan farm products (apples, peaches, etc.) were delivered and staged in the stores. 

Tell us something your colleagues don't know about you: I almost joined the US Parks Service but then found out how low the starting pay was for the job of Ranger. I chose wiser.

24/7 Emergency Technology Support Now Available

Monday, December 08, 2014
Disasters don't always work the 9-5 shift and you can't see them coming. If you receive a call that your building has encountered a disaster after hours, if you're up late preparing for a big presentation the next morning only to find that you're printer won't work, or you discover a network failure over the weekend, we're here to help.

We're excited to share that beginning January 1, 2015 we will offer and staff 24/7 Emergency Support Services. Based on a recent customer survey, responses indicated that this was a service you would like to see made available, so we are happy to oblige. 

Taking care of our customers after hours is something we have always made great efforts to do, but this new service gives both you, and our engineers guidelines as to what you can expect, should an emergency arrive. For a monthly investment of $300, the ITR 24/7 Emergency Support Service will have a 2 hour Service-Level-Agreement (SLA), at $185 per hour with a minimum 1 hour commitment. Should customers choose not to invest in a monthly ITR 24/7 Emergency Support Service Agreement, we will still provide Emergency Support. However, customers can expect Best Effort Response with no SLA, at $280 per hour with a minimum 2 hour commitment.

As our customers’ businesses have grown, the demand for Information Technology up-time and availability is becoming even more critical. We are now proactively staffing with the same engineers you are comfortable working with on a day-to-day basis and guaranteeing response times in the event you have a need for Emergency Support. The ITR 24/7 Emergency Support Service Agreement does not apply to, nor is it required, for scheduled After Hours Time & Materials and Project service work.

Please let us know if you have any questions. We are excited to offer this additional level of support and guaranteed service. If you are interested in this investment, contact us today via email or at 616.837.6930.

2014 Holiday Gadget Gift Guide

Friday, December 05, 2014
Our holiday gadget gift guide is back by popular demand! We’ve asked our staff what gadgets they would recommend for this holiday season, or which made their very own Christmas lists this year. From safety to fitness, our gadget guide encompasses a variety of tech related items that caught our eye. 
Nest Protect
The Nest Protect is a smart smoke alarm that uses algorithms and knows the difference between steam and smoke, making it less likely to sound off alarms when a shower is running or food is cooking. The Nest Protect also doubles as a carbon monoxide alarm that speaks to you and tells you what the danger is so you can make your best judgment versus just sounding off an alarm. No more chirping noises either! It lights up green when everything is working correctly and lights up yellow to tell you the batteries need to be switched out in the near future. Like other Nest products, you can sync the Protect with your smart phone and instantly know when an alarm goes off or batteries are low, no matter where you are. $99
iRobot Roomba 630
This vacuum cleaning robot is ideal for any home or apartment of all sizes. It can clean carpet, tile, laminate and hardwoods and the best part is that it takes no effort on your part. Turn it on at night or when you’re away during the day and let it do it's thing! It has a patented cleaning system and uses AeroVac Technology making it a truly unique product. Plus, it can double as priceless cat entertainment similarly to what is shown here. $349

Chamberlain MyQ Garage
MyQ Garage is a garage door opener that lets you open, close, and check on your garage door from anywhere using its app available via IOS or Android. It’s quick and easy to install and works with many different garage door manufacturers. The app is free and it has no monthly service fees. Once you buy the device, you’re good to go! $130
Fire TV Stick
This streaming media stick plugs directly in to your TVs HMDI port and from there you have the ability to stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, music such as Pandora or Slacker, games, PBS Kids, news programs and much more. It comes with 1GB of memory and a free 30 day Amazon Prime trial if you’re not already a prime member. Another unique feature is its instant streaming with ASAP which automatically learns what movies and shows you like so they start instantly with no buffer time. This is your best bet for streaming TV, games and music. And for the price, you can’t go wrong! $39
Moto 360 Watch
The Motorola Moto 360 Smart Watch has the classic wristwatch design but offers much more than just the time. This watch designed for Android devices doubles as an activity tracker with a built in pedometer and heart rate monitor and it displays mobile notifications to let you view new messages from your phone. It also has a built in microphone allowing for hands free communication. It’s water resistant and comes with 4GB of internal storage, a perfect gift for the special techie in your life! $299
Pen-Ultimate 5-in-1 Geek Pen & Stylus
The perfect inexpensive gift for the road warrior or sales presenter. It’s of course a pen and also a UV light, white LED light, laser pointer and stylus. All of this crammed into one small pen that will fit easily in your laptop bag or purse. $10
Bryn Leather Tech Touchscreen Gloves
These sheepskin leather gloves by UR Powered feature micro conductivity leather on the palms which allow you to use your mobile devices seamlessly with your gloves on. No more sacrificing style or warmth for being able to utilize your device in the winter elements. Give someone this perfect mobile fashion accessory, available in a variety of colors and in men’s sizes as well. $68
Plantronics Backbeat Fit Headphones
These Bluetooth headphones are rugged and sweat proof with P2i coating. They'll provide you with top quality sound to maximize your listening experience while you’re on the move.  They come with an armband for your device that secures it in place while you’re in motion. These are a must have for the gym goers and outdoor trainers. They also have a safety eartip design that lets you be seen at night and provide the ability to hear things around you. $129
Drobo Mini
The Drobo Mini is an on-the-go storage solution that allows you to safely access your data wherever you go. It includes a battery backup system that protects everything in your memory or cache. Weighing in at just 3 pounds, it’s perfect for protecting and storing data from anywhere with power fail protection. The Drobo connects to your computer and provides redundant data protection with a capacity of 36TB. Included are 3 drive bays, 2 Thunderbolt ports and 1 USB 3.0 port. It allows for up to 4 2.5” SATA hard drives or solid state drives. $529
Fitbit Charge
An older version of this device made our 2013 gadget guide and we just can’t get enough! The recently released activity and sleep wristband is the Fitbit Charge. This device tracks distance, steps, calories burned, active minutes, sleep and even includes caller ID with compatible mobile devices that will show incoming calls right on your wrist. It comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts 7-10 days and we can attest that Fitbit offers quality, durability and simplicity in all of its products. $129

Comment below and tell us which tech gadgets made your list this year!

Happy Holidays from IT Resource

Thursday, December 04, 2014
As we celebrate this time of year, we’d like to take a moment to offer cheers to you. We’ve been blessed with the best friends, customers, and vendors - and for that, we’re thankful. May this holiday season find you feeling thankful too!

Happy Birthday IT Resource

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Aw shucks, you're making us blush. But really, the only thing left to say is thank you. Thank you to our wonderful customers, vendors, friends, and team members who have supported us throughout this journey. We wouldn't be here today, without all of you. Let's all raise a glass and toast to the last 14 years. The best is yet to come! 

10 Must Have Kitchen Gadgets

Monday, November 17, 2014
Thanksgiving is just a week away, and let’s face it, no one wants to be stuck working in the kitchen all day when you could be cheering on your favorite football team or spending time with family and friends. So, the team at IT Resource has put together a list of our favorite cooking gadgets that will make your life just a little easier. With items like a high powered blender to a simple scale, we’re giving you the 411 on the gadgets that saved us the most time and provided the best value. Let us know what your favorite gadgets are too, by commenting below.
OXO Good Grips Digital Food Scale with Pull-Out Display
We love this scale because it’s easy to use, easy to read, has an 11 pound max and the display extends out for when you are weighing larger objects. Using this scale makes weighing food more accurate and quicker than using measuring cups, especially for dry ingredients. $50
Ninja Master Prep Blender
This blender is extremely affordable and it won’t bog down when it’s full of ice and liquid. While there are plenty of blender options out there, we agree that the Ninja Master Prep is the best for your money and a must have for daily smoothie makers, we even have one in the office kitchen at ITR! $51
Presto Pizza Pizzazz
This gadget is a huge timesaver when cooking foods like pizza, appetizers, quesadillas or garlic bread. Just plug it in and it’s instantly heated and ready to cook. Its rotating base ensures even baking so you never have cold spots and it’s more energy efficient than using a conventional oven. It’s great for warming up leftover pizza, making it nice and crispy. $60
OXO Good Grips Digital Instant Read Thermometer
This thermometer is durable and accurate, displaying a digital number which makes it easy to read, and it’s super easy to clean. For your convenience, it even has the recommended cooking temperatures for various meats right on the thermometer. $20
Chef’n PalmPeeler
This tool makes peeling vegetables or potatoes quick, easy and safe! One side has a soft rubber grip that fits right in the palm of your hand while the other side has a stainless steel blade. Your hand is covered while you peel eliminating the risk of accidentally cutting yourself. $10
Cuisinart Smartstick 2 Speed Hand Blender
This hand held blender stick is an efficient kitchen staple! Making creams, sauces or dips of all kinds has never been so easy. You can even stick it right into a heated pot on the stove to thicken up the sauce. The wand comes apart for easy hand washing or it can go in the dishwasher. $35
OXO Good Grips Salad Spinner
This salad spinner is durable and works like a charm every time. It keeps your leafy greens dry and crisp which helps prevent premature spoilage and wilting. The spinner, which also doubles as a colander, dries out the leaves leaving them crisp and delicious for salads. You can even throw in herbs or berries that need drying, making your salads perfect for dressing. $30
All Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker with Cast Aluminum Insert
This top of the line crock pot has all the bells and whistles. The aluminum insert can be removed and placed directly on the stove top to brown ingredients prior to slow cooking or even sear the meat right in the pot. It has a programmable timer that allows you to begin cooking at one temperature, then change to a different temperature at a different time. $249

We certainly can’t create this list without recommending some of our old time vintage favorites! Both available in mint condition on
Tupperware Steamer and Strainer
This 1970's gadget will quickly steam your vegetables right in the microwave. No need to boil hot water for fresh steamed veggies anymore. This item also acts as a strainer and bun warmer too! $15
Tupperware Pickle or Olive Keeper Storage Container
This gadget will keep your pickles and olives fresh and the built in strainer allows for easy access without having to fish your pickles out with a fork. $13

Technology Tax Savings

Friday, November 14, 2014
Are you looking for ways to save on your business taxes? Aren't we all! Well, now is the time to start thinking about the Section 179 tax break that can be applied to your businesses computer software and hardware year end purchases. This deduction will only be available through December 31, 2014 and can be used to deduct the full purchase price of leased or financed equipment from your gross income instead of requiring the cost to be depreciated. This tax code also allows up to a 50% bonus depreciation on these purchases in the first year and the remaining 50% to be taken during the normal schedule.

Use this handy calculator to see how much you could be eligible to save.
Limit Extension Waiting on Senate Approval
The only question that still remains is the actual limit on how much can be deducted (see our update below). In previous years, the deductible amount has been $500,000 but this amount expired on January 1st, 2014. Right now, the amount that can be deducted has been reduced to $25,000. However, provisions are in place and a bill to extend the $500,000 limit is awaiting Senate approval. Because the midterm elections are now over, we are hoping to see the Senate approve this extension any day now.

What Should You Do Now?
Schedule time to talk with your financial advisor or accountant to determine how your business can best utilize this tax break on your year-end technology hardware and software purchases.

Begin planning your technology purchases for the current $25,000 amount and be prepared for this amount to go up. Stay tuned to for updates as they become available. Also, keep a look out for our December newsletter as we will include a Section 179 update. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call your IT Resource sales rep, we are here to help you!

The House of Representatives voted last Wednesday to approve a package of tax breaks which included expanding the Section 179 tax deduction to $500,000. Their approval has been sent on to the Senate where it is expected to be voted on later this week. Please remember if you haven't already, make an appointment with your financial advisor or accountant to see how your business will best benefit from this tax break. It's very likely that the $500,000 expansion will pass later this week, however for now, you can count on deducting the full cost of qualifying computer hardware and software purchases from your 2014 taxes for up to $25,000. Don’t wait until the last minute to make these purchases as the equipment must be purchased and put into use by December 31, 2014. Make sure to check this week for the official announcement and check out the 2014 Section 179 Tax Deduction Calculator to calculate your potential dollar amount savings.

Backup and Disaster Recovery Lunch and Learn

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

 What would happen if you lost all your data?

It’s not a question of IF, but WHEN. Downtime, human error, server failure, disasters and security breaches leave small to midsize businesses at a greater risk, and more susceptible to IT failure. With fewer resources available to prevent a data loss and combat the outage, the odds of a profitable comeback after a failure are not on your side.

Join us for a lunch and learn
We'll be discussing the benefits of Intelligent Business Continuity – a more reliable backup service that is less expensive - versus Traditional Backup methods.

Wednesday, October 15 from 11:30-1 at Bistro Bella Vita, where lunch will be provided. PLUS, registrants can bring their business cards for a chance to win a free Fitbit!

Bistro Bella Vita is located at 44 Grandville, downtown Grand Rapids. If you have any questions, contact Kim at 616.837.6930 or via email.

Cisco SMARTnet Services :: Important Information on Program Changes

Monday, September 29, 2014
Is Your Network Smart?
How do you keep your network available, secure, and operating at peak performance? With SMARTnet Services, of course!

Cisco SMARTnet Service is a technical support service that allows you to have direct access 24x7x365 to Cisco experts and resources, ongoing operating system updates (including minor and major OS releases), hardware replacement (options for 2-hour, 4-hour and next-business-day) and even onsite support. As you can imagine, these services are crucial to keeping your business up and running at an optimal performance rate.
Getting Technical
There are several types of Cisco SMARTnet Service agreements, distinguished by the type of Cisco products the agreement covers: Hardware Maintenance and OS Software Maintenance, identified by CON-SNT-XXX, CON-SNTP-XXX; Software Application Support, identified by CON-SAS-XXX, CON-SAU-XXX; Services for Intrusion Prevention Systems, identified by CON-SU1-XXX, CON-SU2-XXX, CON-SU01-XXX; System-level coverage on Unified Communications Hardware and Software (CallManager, Unity Connection and Unity), identified by Essential Operate Service (CON-ESW-XXX) and Unified Communications Software Subscription (UCSS).

End-of-Life...So, What's Changing?
Earlier this summer, Cisco announced its End-Of-Life for Essential Operate Service (ESW) and Unified Communications Software Subscription (UCSS). These two offerings for Cisco Collaboration software and Cisco Prime software will combine into one service called Cisco Software Support Service (SWSS) pronounced “swiss”. SWSS, identified as ECMU, will replace ESW and UCSS and launched September 22nd. It will be sold as a single service offer and conveniently include both software maintenance and software upgrades.

Previously, ESW was for software updates and sold as a service while UCSS was for software upgrades and sold as a product, two contracts that were sold separately. This was often confusing for both the partner and customers. After Cisco received considerable feedback for improvements, they made the choice to combine ESW and UCSS into SWSS. The new SWSS offering means one less contract for you that will be easier to purchase, manage and renew. Everything that came with ESW and UCSS is included with SWSS. This consists of, but is not limited to, 24x7x365 phone and remote access to the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC), minor updates, hot patches and bug fixes, access to Cisco Online Knowledgebase and application software maintenance for minor and major releases.

What should you do now?
If you currently have an ESW or UCSS contract you will remain covered on your contract until it expires. Your contract will be renewed to ECMU (or equivalent) upon the expiration date of either ESW or UCSS, whichever comes first. To learn more about SWSS contact your IT Resource sales rep at 616.837.6930 or email us.