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Welcome 2016 :: Information Technology Resolutions for the New Year

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Photo via Statistic Brain
According to Statistic Brain, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, yet only 8% are successful in achieving them. Of the resolutions made, 47% are for self-improvement, 38% are weight related, 34% are money related, and 31% are relationship related. This got us thinking: What are your New Year’s IT Resolutions and how can IT Resource help you successfully achieve those goals?

We've found that the top IT concerns for most organizations this year are increased security, compliance requirements, business continuity and disaster recovery planning and cloud strategy. Is one of your IT resolutions to enhance your network security, meet your compliance requirements, update or create your disaster recovery plan or develop a cost effective cloud strategy? We can help achieve your resolutions by conducting a Business Review. Understanding your organization’s plans and resolutions for 2016, coupled with where you have been from a technical point of view, helps us make the best, most cost effective recommendations possible for your Information Technology needs.

So what else does it take to make those resolutions achievable? Nancy Anderson recently shared in Forbes, Six Ways to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick. Specifically, she mentioned the following tasks:
1. Set Short Term Goals
2. Write Down Your Goals and Share Them
3. Create Momentum
4. Pick Your Game-Changer
5. Get Some Skin in the Game
6. Nudge Yourself

Contact your sales rep today to setup your IT Business Review. Working together, we can help you set short term goals, create a plan and get some skin in the game to help you achieve your New Year’s IT resolutions.

2015 Gadget Gift Guide

Friday, December 04, 2015
The results are in! We asked our very own IT professionals what tech gadgets they’re hoping to receive from Santa this year. If you have a gadget lover in your life, these are some great gift ideas!


Nest Protect
The Nest Protect 2nd Generation is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector that sends alerts to your smartphone when the device identifies smoke, carbon monoxide, a low battery or a sensor failure. For true piece of mind, it tests itself over 400 times a day and a green color on the device indicates it’s working correctly. $99

Tool Pen Mini
Originally on Kickstarter, this handy multi tool is both flexible and useful! Gone are the days of carrying around an entire tool belt or a variety of different screw drivers, the Tool Pen Mini gives you up to 5 different bits all in one simple pen. Interchange bits while storing the unused bits in a barrel inside of the pen. It’s perfect for working on small electronics, jewelry and watches. $89

Amazon Echo
This gadget has been getting a lot of attention and it’s well deserved! The Echo is an interactive device that’s entirely controlled by your voice using far-field voice recognition. Alexa, the “brain” behind the Echo, is a cloud based voice service that can hear you from across a room. Alexa will answer your questions, give you the news, music, weather, traffic, tips, etc. $179.99

Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit
This gadget is perfect for extra peace of mind when you’re not at your residence. The Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring kit gives you immediate alerts on your smartphone if there’s any entry or motion in your house. It can also secure specific areas of your home and even control electronics and appliances. This will help assure that while you are away, all is well at your home. $249

RFID Blocking Wallet
Specifically, the Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. RFID Blocking Wallet, is a product that protects your personal identification cards and banking cards. The RFID Blocking Wallet has a built in faraday cage to block RFID transmissions. It’s an inexpensive way to ensure that the information in your wallet doesn’t get picked up by a laptop, recorded, and saved onto a cloned card. $19.99

Moto 360
The Moto 360 is a smart watch that keeps you connected to endless applications, email, music and it even includes a built-in activity tracker with fitness coach. Its Wi-Fi connectivity allows you to use the apps on your watch even when you don’t have your phone, now that’s convenient! It’s also entirely customizable so you can create a style that’s unique to you. $299.99

Fitbit Charge HR
We have a handful of people here who already own the Charge HR activity tracker and they love it. If you’re on the fence about which activity tracker you want, we say go with this one! The ease of use and 5-day battery life is truly what sets Fitbit apart from the competition. Another advantage is that it has a built-in heart rate monitor and SmartTrack technology which automatically recognizes when you exercise and records it in the Fitbit app. $149.95

BackBeat Fit Headphones
Ditch the old ways of plug-in headphones and make it easier to stay active with these wireless headphones. They’re water (and sweat) proof and have an 8-hour battery life! Another nice feature, if they accidentally get lost, you can view the location using the Find MyHeadset application. This is an excellent gift for the fitness gadget lover. $129.99

Remix Mini
An Android desktop PC computer that can be used to browse the web in HD and also fit in your pocket. Priced at only 69.99, you’re getting a computer that’s fully configured with Remix OS 2.0 with 16 GB internal storage. This product was originally a Kickstarter and made as a super quick and easy system that just plain works. A great gift for the Android fan! $69.99

Amazon Fire
The Amazon Fire is a tablet with a 7 inch display, Wi-Fi, 8GB of internal storage and we’re not even to the best part – it’s only $49.99. As far as tablets go, this is money well spent. Enjoy movies, shows, music, apps and games all at your fingertips. Stay connected with email and web browsing including calendar support. $49.99

HP Spectre x360
This notebook has lighting fast speeds, an extended battery life and a 360-degree hinge, allowing you to turn or flip it any way you want with seamless transition. Included is Windows 10, a vivid display, a solid state drive, and an Intel Core i5 processor. Its slim design makes it versatile and portable, weighing only 3.17 lbs. Add on a 1 or 2 year CarePack to protect against accidental damage and you’re good to go! $899.99

Apple Watch
The Apple Watch is a smart watch that runs apps via Wi-Fi, tracking your activities, displaying notifications and it even allows you to answer calls if your iPhone is within range. Also included is a heart rate sensor and ambient light sensor. It comes in a variety of different bands and editions so you’re sure to find one that matches your style. Note: it’s only compatible with iPhones. $549

Did we forget something? Let us know what gadgets are on your list by commenting below or posting on our Facebook page!

Here’s to New Traditions

Thursday, December 03, 2015
This year we decided to switch things up. During the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, our office collected nonperishable food and household items for our local charity, Coopersville Cares. We were so pleased with the turnout and it’s really motivating to see many ITR staff and their families stepping up to the plate to donate a variety of items. We received many kitchen and household staples along with many Thanksgiving food favorites. It’s a busy time of year for many people but we think it’s important to take a moment out of your day to do something that supports your local community and give back to the people around you.

We’re also delighted to announce that IT Resource will be adopting a local Coopersville family for Christmas this year. Our employees are collectively raising money and in a couple weeks, that total will be matched by the owners of IT Resource. All of our donations will go towards the needs and wishes of each family member. We're helping a family who is right in our back yard by making sure they receive warm clothing, new toys and food items for the holiday season.

SQL Server 2005 : End of Support

Wednesday, December 02, 2015
Update: April 12, 2016 marks the official End of Support date for SQL Server 2005. If you’re still running this database, you will no longer receive security updates and may face potential compliance concerns. This also means increases in maintenance costs and leaves your network vulnerable to security attacks. Bottom line: the clock is ticking and you need to upgrade your systems ASAP.

If you have applications that are still relying on SQL Server 2005, it’s crucial to get those moved as soon as possible. You have upgrade and migration options to newer databases or the cloud.

Benefits to upgrading to the latest version of SQL Server include:
· Proven 13x higher performance for traditional OLTP ((On-line Analytical Processing)
· Additional performance gains from in-memory technologies for OLTP, data warehousing, and analytics
· Simplified updating and maintenance as well as more online processes
· Easier than ever high-availability
· Supported, compliant database platform with security patching and maintenance updates

We have the engineers, tools and experience to migrate your systems in a timely fashion. Contact us via email or call 616.837.6930. Our technical team can determine what your migration requirements are and provide a timeline for implementation. Every day you spend without support and updates from Microsoft is a risk to your business. There’s no time to waste.

_______________________________________

As you begin planning for the end of the year and finalize budgets for next year, please take into account Microsoft SQL Server 2005 End of Support (EoS).

End of Support for SQL Server 2005 is forthcoming on April 12th, 2016. After this date, businesses will no longer receive hotfixes or security updates which can lead to major breaches of sensitive data. It will be especially problematic for those businesses that are required to be PCI and HIPAA compliant as SQL Server 2005 will not be compliant after April 12th, 2016. Along with these risks comes the inevitable rising costs of maintaining an aging database. That being said, upgrading to a modern database is shifting from a recommendation to a requirement.

If your business is running SQL Server 2005, talk to us. We can show you upgrade options and give you a timeline of implementation to ensure your business is safe and compliant before the drop dead date.

What should you do now?
Plan and budget for your upgrade now. Contact us via email or call 616.837.6930 and we can provide you with a clear upgrade and migration path. Our technical team can determine what your migration requirements are while minimizing your security risks.

15 Years and Counting

Tuesday, December 01, 2015
This holiday season we would like to say how truly grateful we are for our wonderful customers, partners, vendors and team members who support us. As we’re nearing the end of another great year, IT Resource is celebrating a special milestone. November marks our anniversary of 15 years in business and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Since November, 2000, we’ve been providing IT consulting, project-based and long-term engineering services, on-site, remote and 24x7 help-desk and support services to a growing number of industries and verticals. Being your trusted advisor for 15 years is quite a big accomplishment and we’re excited for many more years of business ahead of us.

Our Thanksgiving Food Drive

Thursday, November 05, 2015
Tis the season for giving and as a team, we feel it is our responsibility to help those who are less fortunate than us. This year we will be collecting non-perishable items to deliver to our local food pantry for the Thanksgiving holiday. We'll have a box in our front lobby and if you would like to contribute, feel free to drop by and add your items to the collection. We feel that together, we can make someone's holiday season a little brighter!

How Safe Is Your Mobile Security?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Zix Hacker Series continues with hacking expert, David Kennedy. Join Zix on Wednesday, November 11 at 2 p.m. ET as they talk with David about modern threats to your mobile security.

With 41 percent of employees admitting they would wait a few hours to over a week to report their lost or stolen phone, you may not even realize when your corporate data is most vulnerable. IT Resource has partnered with Zix to address your secure email needs.

Join Zix to learn more about the threats to your current mobile device strategy and how you can protect your corporate data while keeping your employees productive and happy.

David Kennedy is a developer, security evangelist and distinguished industry speaker and author. Bottom-line, he's got the inside scoop when it comes to all things mobile security. We hope you can join the event!

Register for the Mobile Security event Now!

What To Do With an After-Hours IT Emergency

Wednesday, November 04, 2015
Don’t forget! Our office will be closed all day Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27 in observance of Thanksgiving. We wish all of our customers, vendors and partners a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving with your families!

We know that emergencies and disasters can strike at any time and that’s why we’ve got your business covered. Our knowledgeable support team will be staffed and available for those who currently have a 24/7 Emergency Support agreement with us. This means you can call us any day of the week at any time and we’ll be here for you – even on holidays with guaranteed SLAs. Our team can be reached by calling our 24/7 hotline or sending an email to our help desk. Please note, 24/7 Emergency Support rates will apply.

If you have any questions regarding our 24/7 Emergency Support Services, please see our service page or send inquires via email.  

Ways To Reduce Your Taxes for 2015

Monday, November 02, 2015
As we’re nearing the end of the year, it’s time to start thinking about the Section 179 tax break and how it can be applied to business purchases. This is a great opportunity to maximize your purchasing power by taking a large tax deduction on qualifying equipment.

The current limit for 2015 is still $25,000 with no bonus depreciation. However, considering past years, this limit will likely increase in mid-December. In 2014, the limit was reinstated to $500,000 with just 12 days left in the year. Since this has been the case for the last 5 years, It’s best to plan for something similar to happen this year.


How does it work?

The Section 179 tax code allows business owners to deduct the full purchase price (up to $25,000 as of this posting) of purchased or leased equipment from your gross income instead of requiring the cost to be depreciated. Once the equipment is purchased, you will complete a special IRS form and you’re all set!

What qualifies for the deduction?

Any physical equipment or software that is purchased for business use and put into production between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. This includes computers, associated hardware and “Off-the-Shelf” Software. Off-the-Shelf is any software without a custom code, that is available for the general public and is used in your business as an income producing activity.

Use it or lose it!

This tax code is not guaranteed next year and can change without notice. It’s important to take advantage of this offer while you can. If you plan on purchasing business equipment including computer hardware or software, it’s financially in your favor to make those purchases before December 31, 2015. Use this handy calculator to see how much you could save.


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
  • Bookmark the Section 179 website and check for updates throughout December. Also watch for the December IT Resource newsletter for an update (if there is one available)
  • Contact your sales rep or our sales department and we can begin planning these purchases

Team 'Run IT Faster' Did It!

Monday, October 26, 2015
Our very own relay team “Run IT Faster” finished the Grand Rapids Marathon last month for the second year in a row. This year’s team included Leo, Carrie, Carolyn, Andrew and Richard. This was Carolyn and Richard’s first time ever running a race and they were both surprised by how well they did and how much fun they had. It proves that with a willingness to try, motivation, and peer support, anything can be accomplished.

Let’s Get Moving Together!
Our next big race will be the River Bank Run on May 14, 2016. This is an all ages, co-ed race with four events, a 5K Walk, 5K Run, 10K Run and 25K (15.5 miles) Run. The 25K has a relay team option for teams of 2-3 participants. We would love to field multiple teams and have our customers run with us. If you’re interested in the River Bank Run or other upcoming races let us know! You don’t have to be experienced and there’s lots of resources available for training. A quality training tool that we can attest to is the Gazelle Run Camps, they have a variety of different levels for beginners (couch to 5K) and experienced runners (25K training programs).

We also have to give credit to Northern Physical Therapy who put together our corporate wellness program last year. The program really kicked off healthy habits around our office and we’ve all been making positive lifestyle changes since then. Shortly after our wellness program ended, our first marathon relay team was fielded and a tradition began.

Finally, we'd like the thank our team of "supporters" who came out to cheer our team on at the Grand Rapids Marathon.