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How Technology Has Changed the Presidential Election

Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Back in the good ol' days presidential candidates relied on solid handshakes, kissing babies, and heartfelt speeches to win votes on election day. But those days are long gone as candidates strive to reach each and every voter by means of social media, e-mail lists, website advertisements, and analyzing analytics. Each of these strategies relies solely on the internet - making technology one of the most, if not the most, crucial way to connect to the American public. 

Over the last decade we've seen a shift in the way politics and elections are discussed. What used to be common banter at casual dinner parties has turned into conversations over social media and the internet. Here are a few ways technology has shifted the way we support, discuss, and view our political candidates; and how they're reaching out to the public:

Social media
A platform that was barely a consideration when Obama initially took office has become a commonplace for conversation and debate on the respective parties. While Facebook and Twitter have allowed many Americans to seek advice and news they may not have gotten otherwise, it's not necessarily all good. Social media isn't controlled, and at times allows views and stories that aren't necessarily truth to spread like wildfire.

Targeted campaigning
Gone are the days of waiting until the polls came out to see how you're doing in the race. The data and analytics that are available on the internet make it easy for a candidate to see what campaign tactics are working, and which aren't. This allows for smarter campaigning, better use of time and funds, and a better understanding of where voters are and what turns them on and off.

In day's past candidates would have to rely on voters to be present during televised debates or radio announcements, but with the internet we can easily stream the debate or watch it at a later date, whenever it's most convenient. This also allows for a greater number of voters to be reached. Candidates can send a message to a broader audience in less time and with less cost - and it's more convenient for the American public.

New technology issues to debate
Cybersecurity and global technology threats are just a few of the topics that must be covered when candidates square off. Hackers are getting more sophisticated and the threat of a compromise on a local and national level could wreak havoc on business and government. Americans need to know where candidates stand on these topics and what they're going to do to help keep security threats at bay.

All is seen and heard
Candidates have to assume that no matter what they say or do, there's always going to be someone with a smart phone near by. Any conversation, comment, or physical gesture can be posted to the internet in a matter of seconds and the time it takes to go viral is even quicker. Candidate's families are no exception, they're oftentimes scrutinized just as much as the candidates themselves. Being under a constant microscope and knowing that every slight move can be documented changes the way a candidate carries themselves, speaks, and acts.

This will be an interesting conversation to pick up in another 4 years. As technology continues to evolve we're going to be witnessing new trends in how candidates campaign and how voters seek information. Stay tuned, as no one can really predict where technology will take us in the future.

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!

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

Now Offering 24/7 Emergency Tech Support

Monday, June 15, 2015
We understand that IT problems don’t always happen during normal business hours and that's why we offer the option of around-the-clock support to our customers. Our 24/7 emergency support service gives businesses peace of mind, knowing that no matter what day or time it is, they can receive support with guaranteed response times and reduced after-hours rates.

Many of our customers already know that after-hours support is something we have always made great efforts to do, but this service gives us and the customer clearly defined guidelines to follow, should an emergency occur. It holds us accountable and the customer knows exactly what to expect.

The 24/7 emergency support agreement is available for $300 per month and entitles the customer to a 2 hour Service-Level-Agreement (SLA), at $185 per hour with a minimum 1 hour commitment. The support line is staffed entirely by IT Resource employees living in Michigan, the same folks that you’re already familiar working with. The only prerequisite to signing up for this service is that you must have a Remote Monitoring and Reporting (RMR) Agreement. This is required so that we can troubleshoot in a timely manner and avoid any delays.

The 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 and check out our 24/7 emergency support data sheet here. We are excited to offer this additional level of support and guaranteed service. If you are interested in this service contact us or call 616.837.6930.

The Future Connection Standard: USB Type-C Connects All Devices

Monday, May 11, 2015
We’ve all experienced the frustration of having a different connection and cable for basically all of your devices – your laptop connection is different from your tablet, which is different from your cell phone. And, if you’re like most people, this tends to lead to messy drawers full of tangled up cords. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a go-to all-in-one cable that’s compatible with all of your devices? Luckily, these days may be coming to an end with a new connection standard USB Type-C. 

 The tech industry is finally making advances to standardize cables and have one universal connection that will work with any device. These all-in-one cords will definitely make your life easier and you can say goodbye to incompatible connections. The USB Type C is similar to the familiar USB cable but it comes with a few significant differences:
  • It can transfer data and power – meaning you can use it to power a device or use it with multiple peripherals such as a HDMI, VGA, or USB cable and transfer data. 
  • It’s much smaller than the standard USB cable. This means future laptops will not need the bulky power adapters and will be able to charge via the small USB port, similar to a tablet or phone. 
  • It’s more powerful and faster than most cables on the market with an expected top speed of 10Gbps and a power output of up to 100W. 
  • It will have identical ends so you won’t have to worry about plugging it in upside down.
  • It’s backwards compatible with the cables you have now, so long as you have an adapter. 

What can you expect right now?
Apple and Google products are already using these ports and cables in their products and other manufacturers are expected to follow suit beginning heavily in 2015. Hopefully by this time next year most hardware will be shipping with this port. At the very least you can expect to switch out your old cables for ones that are USB Type C compatible.
Additional information can be found here.

Our Digital Diva :: Carrie Borchers Talks Sales and Technology

Monday, March 09, 2015
Digital Divas is a new podcast that focuses on women in all stages of technology - from CEOs to "scrappy entrepreneurs." They recently chatted with our Director of Sales, Carrie Borchers, about her career journey in sales and technology.

Carrie shared how she started out with a degree in liberal arts and eventually became the second woman, and first sales person, at IT Resource. She also references her interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it relates to business. You can check out Carrie's podcast here.

The masterminds behind the Digital Divas project include Nicole Johnson, Cisco Systems Engineer; Amanda Lewan, founder and editor of Michipreneur and co-founder of Bamboo Detroit; and Kathleen Norton-Schock, co-founder of ardentCause. The Digital Diva podcast was created to highlight women who are making a big impact in technology.

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!

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.