The Next Gen of UC - Microsoft Lync - Live Seminar

"LYNC" up with us at the location nearest you to discover how your business can:
  • Lower operating expenses
  • Improve employee productivity
  • Increase customer satisfaction
EVENT DETAILS:

This event is focused on addressing your business challenges and will be interactive. Unified Communications Strategist, Marty Parker, will be our keynote speaker. This will be a great way to get the latest look at Microsoft Lync Server 2010: the next generation of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2.Lync Server 2010 offers:
  • A single interface uniting voice communications, presence, instant messaging, and audio/video/web conferencing.
  • A familiar user experience accessible through MS Office, SharePoint, and Exchange.
  • Interoperability with existing systems for smoother deployment and migration.
At each location, we will be raffling Jabra headsets, Polycom CX100 speakerphones and a UC Readiness Assessment valued at over $2000!  Lunch will be provided.

AGENDA:

December 6th, 2011

10:30am -11:00am - Registration, Coffee
11:00am -11:30am - Keynote – Marty Parker
11:30am -11:45am - Your Business Challenges
11:45am -12:30pm - Demonstrating Solution Applications& ROI Possibilities
12:30pm - 1:00pm  - Lunch & Connecting
 1:00pm  - 1:15pm  - Q & A and Wrap Up
 1:15pm  - 1:30pm  - Raffle for gifts

Seating is limited – Reserve your spot today!
  • Irvine, CA
  • Bellevue, WA
  • Santa Clara, CA
REGISTRATION LINK
We look forward to having you participate in this exciting event!

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:




Marty Parker
Prinicipal UniComm Consulting - UniComm ConsultingMarty is focused on helping enterprises improve their business results through Unified Communications. To achieve this goal, Marty recently co-founded UniComm Consulting, the industry's premier Unified Communications consulting firm.

HOSTED BY:



VOX Network Solutions, Inc. is a sole source provider for converged infrastructure (voice and data) converged applications, services including planning and design, installation and integration, optimization and evolution, maintenance and monitoring and network services.

VOX is a Microsoft Gold Partner for Unified Comunications. We are focused on helping our clients successfully deploy Lync, Exchange UM, or migrate Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007/R2 to Lync and to improve collaboration, speed to market, and customer satisfaction.

Extensis plug-in now supports Google Web Fonts

Do you use Photoshop® to design your website? Looking to spice it up with cool web fonts like Lobster or Dancing Script? Well, now you can do that and more (with over 280 font families) using Google Web Fonts right in Photoshop®.

That’s because, today, Extensis has added support for Google Web Fonts to their Web Font Plug-in for Photoshop®. Now, the entire catalog of Google Web Fonts is only a click or two away!


In addition to making the entire catalog of Google Web Fonts easily accessible, the plug-in takes advantage of the full power of Suitcase Fusion 3. This means that any web fonts you choose to use for your designs are automatically kept up to date, and fully activated as needed. For example, this makes it easy for you to send your Photoshop® files around to your coworkers and not worry whether they have the font(s) installed — it will "just work"!

The free Extensis Web Font Plug-in for Photoshop® can be downloaded now, from: webfontplugin.com

Posted by David Kuettel, Technical Lead, Google Web Fonts

Interview with Polish Type Designer Ania Kruk



Ania Kruk is a type designer from Poznan, Poland. She currently lives and works in Barcelona and Google Web Fonts is proud to include her first published typeface, Cookie.

Q: What is your background as a designer, and how did you become interested in type design?

Actually, I'm still a beginner in the world of type design: I have drawn letters for only 2 years. I've recently graduated from the University of Arts in Poznan, Poland. Originally, I studied product design, but after 3 years I found myself more interested in graphics than in furniture.

So I took a one year break and moved to Barcelona, Spain, where I worked as an intern in Estudio Mariscal (which was quite an experience, as they were working on the 'Chico y Rita' movie at that time), and did a one-year Masters in Typography and Editorial Design at Eina, Escola de Disseny i Art.

When I came back to Poland for my last year of studies, I was 100% sure that I wanted to focus on type design.
And here I am now, 3 months after my graduation, with my first typeface to be published: Cookie :)

Q: What is your favourite part of the type design process, and why?

Generally, I'm interested in complex, narrative projects that require creating a whole from various elements (meaning: editorial design, information design, typography). Type Design is not about designing one letter, it's about creating a system: the alphabet.

I like the moment when you can start writing words and sentences with your letters, because then you can actually work on the flow and on the balance between the characters. For example, to make some of them more 'normal', transparent, in order to make others more distinctive or decorative.

Q: Designing a new typeface is a long journey. What inspires you to keep motivated throughout all the different stages?

For sure, Type Design is all about details, that an average user won't even notice, so you need to be patient to do this kind of work. I'd say I'm quite competitive, so when I see other peoples projects and I think 'Wow, that's so cool!', it get's me motivated ;) I spend an awful amount of time digging through the internet, checking out blogs, personal websites, etc.



Q: Can you recommend how other type designers can learn the skills involved in making type?

It's hard to say, because I'm still learning myself. But I'd say that calligraphy and drawing are essential to understanding the construction of the letters.

Q: What do you think could be improved about the type design process?

For me the hard part is hinting ;)

Q: What inspired you to create Cookie?

Cookie is a script typeface, based on brush calligraphy. It has a little bit of the 1950s look, that makes you think about all the beautiful ads and pin-ups from this time. It's sweet and friendly - but not too decorative. I tried to keep it simple and legible.

Q: Did you try to accomplish something specific with this typeface design, and did you succeed?

It's my first script typeface, so the whole design process was like discovering a new way of working. I wanted to create a typeface with a nice flow between the letters, and I wanted the letters to join in a natural way - that's the tough part, if you think about all the possible combinations between 26 lowercase characters. I hope it works ok...!

Q: What kinds of uses are most appropriate for this font?

Its clearly a display typeface, suitable more for titles than main texts. But it can be used for short texts, if you're aiming for a hand-written look. It will look good on an invitation, menu, recipe... poster, flyer or as a header of your blog :)

Q: What are your favourite fonts, and why?

Well, I don't really have any favourites. It all depends on the context and what you want to communicate: a typeface can be perfect for one kind of a job, but look horrible when misused.

There are some surprises: I've always considered Mistral by Roger Excoffon as very kitsch and ugly, until I've seen it in on the opening credits for the movie 'Drive'. It looked just great, combined with the music and pictures.

Avaya's New ACE 3.0 for Microsoft Lync Offers the Best Integration

Provide users with a unified desktop experience by extending Avaya real-time communications to Microsoft Lync, Office 365 and other Microsoft applications. Tight integration keeps the client interface consistent and allows users to communicate from their preferred devices. Your enterprise can improve productivity while reducing costs, as Avaya client-side integration preserves existing communications investments and requires no Microsoft voice licenses or devices.

Avaya Agile Communication Environment (ACE) Microsoft Lync Integration allows users to control their Avaya or Cisco phones and view telephony presence from within the Microsoft Lync/Communicator client, Microsoft Office, and Internet Explorer. The Lync/Communicator client can be used as a soft phone to drive calls through the Avaya Aura infrastructure and both premise and cloud-based Lync integration options are supported. For off-the-shelf integration with Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce.com, users can add the Avaya ACE CRM Integration packaged application. Like other out-of-the-box Avaya ACE packages, these are quick to deploy and can generate high financial returns for enterprises seeking to integrate Avaya and select third party communication systems with business applications.

Reduces Costs
Protect investments in Avaya infrastructure and desktop phones with Avaya ACE Microsoft Lync Integration. Avoid investments in duplicate back end infrastructures and leverage Avaya Aura® to standardize on one voice, video, and unified messaging network with single dial plan, trunk consolidation, and centralized management and applications. Eliminate costs associated with Microsoft voice licenses and related devices, as Avaya integration requires only Microsoft Lync/OCS Standard client access licensing. Deploy the application to users quickly and cost effectively.

Improves Productivity
End users access a combination of Microsoft presence, instant messaging and Avaya enterprise-grade business communications in an intuitive, unified experience. The Lync client experience remains consistent and users continue to communicate from their preferred devices. Multi-modal communication from the desktop helps end users connect, communicate and collaborate to deliver projects without delay.

Key Features
Telephony presence integrated with Microsoft Lync or Communicator clients can increase productivity by giving users improved visibility into a person’s availability (e.g. not on a phone call) and how he or she can be contacted.

Click-to-call via the Avaya ACE call menu option from Microsoft Lync or Communicator, Microsoft Office, or Internet Explorer lets users control their Avaya Aura Communication Manager, Avaya Communication Server (CS) 1000, or Cisco Unified Communications Manager desk phones from these desktop applications. Microsoft Lync-controlled access settings enable users to configure which phone numbers colleagues, customers, and partners see. Enhanced resiliency helps ensure established phone calls continue even in the event of a Microsoft Lync reboot.

Premise-based or Office 365 Microsoft Lync support means organizations may deploy Lync/Communicator clients as part of a Microsoft on-premises system or as a hosted, “cloud” based service.

Escalate from IM to a phone call capability lets users transition automatically to an Avaya or Cisco controlled phone call from a Microsoft Lync instant message.

Conversation window for mid-call control provides easy access to Avaya telephony features from the Microsoft Lync or Communicator user interface, including call forwarding, hold and retrieve, transfer, conference and a keypad for entering DTMF tones, such as when using passcodes to enter a conference call. Volume and mute controls are also presented for calls made in computer mode. Likewise, calls originating from a desk phone can be controlled via the Conversation Window.

Toast pop-up enables easy call answering or incoming call diversion to an alternate device.
Multiple call handling* enables users to maintain one active call while having one or more calls on hold. Users can swap between active and held calls, transfer active calls to an on-hold user, join active and held calls to form a conference and add further held calls into the conference call. A toast pop-up shows any calls waiting (alternative call) and allows a user to answer the alternative call and place the active call on hold.

Computer and desk phone modes let users remotely control their familiar Avaya or Cisco connected desk phones or use the PC for calls. For computer calls, Avaya provides a desktop media engine that delivers calls through Avaya Aura® using open codecs: G.711, G.722, and G.729. When on the move, users are prompted to change modes. For example, switching from a remote network (such as a home office) to a corporate location prompts a change to desk phone mode, so the user no longer risks missing the first call.



Enterprise dial plan and E.164 support enables employees to use familiar internal extension number dialing as well as national and international number dialing.

Synchronized call forwarding across the desk phone and Microsoft Lync/Communicator client helps give the user complete control of call forwarding settings and avoid unintentional overrides. For example, if a user has cancelled call forwarding on his or her desk phone, the application prevents previous settings on Microsoft Lync from inadvertently re-establishing call forwarding during sign-in.

Single sign-in means users only need to use Microsoft Lync/Communicator sign-in methods to make calls using Avaya Aura®.

Silent install lets IT install the Avaya ACE-Microsoft Lync client and Avaya UC desktop engine for computer mode calls in a single step without end user intervention.
Localization support for simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Lat-Spanish, and Brazilian-Portuguese is also available.
Requirements
Avaya ACE™ Lync Integration requires:

• Avaya Aura Communication Manager 5.2.1, 6.x with Avaya Aura Application Enablement Services 5.2.3 or higher (phone mode and computer mode) and UC desktop licenses
     Or
• Avaya Communication Server 1000 6.0 to 7.5 with TR/87 and AST licenses (Avaya ACE 3.0 phone mode only, computer mode requires ACE 3.1)
     Or
• Avaya Communication Server 2100 release SE13 (Avaya ACE 3.0 phone mode only)
     Or
• Cisco Unified Communication Manager 6.0+ (Avaya ACE 3.0 phone mode only)
     And
• Avaya UC Engine 6.1
• Avaya ACE:
     »» ACE Core Service 3.0 or later on Linux (Red Hat 5.4 with WAS 7.x)
     »» ACE AIE 3.0 or later running on Win Server 2008 R2

NOTE: Avaya System Platform support enables a single server to support the Avaya ACE Base Server and Avaya Aura Application Enablement Services. A second server is required to deploy the Avaya ACE Application Integration Engine.

Microsoft Lync
• Microsoft Lync Server 2010 and Microsoft Lync Server 2010 Client
• Client PC on Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or later or Windows 7 SP1
• Microsoft .Net 3.5 SP1 or later

Microsoft OCS 2007 R2
• Microsoft OCS 2007 R2 and Microsoft Communicator Client R3.5.6907.196 or above
• Client PC on Microsoft Windows XP SP3 or later or Windows 7 SP1
• Microsoft .Net 3.5 SP1 or later

Microsoft Desktop
• Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 to 9.0
• Microsoft Office 2007 / 2010

For more information contact VOX Network Solutions at: http://www.voxns.com

Kickstart new fonts!

Google Web Fonts is proud to announce a new funding experiment, using Kickstarter - a popular way to fund creative projects.

Each month there are many typeface designs proposed to our team for publication and financial support. But we can’t support everything! Even with the best quality proposals, it can be hard to decide about those that are quite similar to ones already published. Really the best judge of which web fonts you want to use is you!

So we invited the designers of three recent proposals to try out Kickstarter and see how it works for font projects. There are some fun rewards for pledging a contribution so click through to see the details!

Folk





First is Marcello Magalhaes’ Folk, which transforms the vernacular lettering of Sao Paulo into a font. Already popular as web font, it has been used by The Independent Film Channel and Mozilla - but it only includes an uppercase set of glyphs, and not all the symbols and accents that Google Web Fonts requires. For this project, Marcello will complete the font to the Basic Latin character set, and has designed a poster to go with the new release.

Fast Brush Script





Fast Brush Script is the working name for a font by Pablo Impallari. Pablo's first font, Lobster, is one of the most popular Google Web Fonts, having been served over 2 billion times.

Pablo is offering a very unusual reward - choosing the name! Normally the name of a font is sacred to the designer, but Pablo is opening up the opportunity for corporate patronage of his work. The development name 'Fast Brush Script' reflects the core concept of the typeface. This font is currently in an early development stage with the lowercase letters now fully prototyped, as you can see above, and you can download the current develop version from the Kickstarter project page.

Montserrat





Montserrat is an extremely high quality sans serif text typeface by Julieta Ulanovsky. Advancing substantially during her studies at the prestigious University of Buenos Aires' Masters degree in Typeface Design, the design revives the historical type of the Montserrat neighbourhood where Julieta lives and works.

This genre of type has been a popular trend in recent years and this typeface in particular stands out with its excellent quality. Setting it apart are the set of alternative caps, which add a little fun to a very functional text typeface.



The Google Web Fonts team has already contributed directly to these Kickstarter projects, and we hope you will also become a backer for all three projects as well - let's hope the type designers will be paid far beyond their minimum funding goals!



Update: When fonts are made available in Google Web Fonts, all their source files are also available from the 'Google Font Directory' Google Code Project in a Mercurial version control system, under a free, libre and open source license - typically the SIL Open Font License.

Posted by Dave Crossland, Font Consultant, Google Web Fonts

Scary Fonts For Halloween

Halloween is here - what a fun time of year! The pumpkins are carved and the seeds are roasting in the oven, a chill is in the air, and all the little monsters are busy planning their best tricks and hoping for excellent treats. With all the trick or treating & costume planning, why not add some Halloween spirit to your website as well? We're happy to publish 4 new, fun, and scary fonts this week that are sure to provide a spoooooky feel for your website!



We would love to see how creative you can get with these fonts - please let us know where you are using them in the comments of this post, and we'll send out a Google Web Fonts T-shirt for our favorite!



Creepster by Sideshow





Its ghastly! Its gory! Its gruesomely gleeful! It's Creepster Caps, the blood-curdling new font from Squid and Sideshow. This fright-filled font has so many alternates its like stitching together your own monster every time you use it. Creepster Caps: perfect for all of your grisly graphic needs!



Eater Caps by Typomondo





Eater Caps is a display font infected by the darkest of rare disease that slowly spreads at night while the webfont user sleeps.



Nosifer Caps by Typomondo





Nobody knows where Nosifer Caps comes from. It emanates a dark stench as it drips from the internet.



Butcherman Caps by Typomondo





Butcherman Caps is a zombified display font, hacked and chopped and left for dead, yet still crawling!



Posted by Posted by Dave Crossland, Font Consultant, Google Web Fonts

What is Avaya's Social Media Manager Solution?

Many tools are available for monitoring social media conversations. But you still need to sift through the thousands of posts provided by these listening engines to discern the really important conversations — ones that are actionable in a measurable way. Without such a capability today, you have a significant blind spot in your customer intelligence. Or, if you’re having your teams manually review those thousands of posts, you’re wasting valuable resources.

Avaya Social Media Manager addresses this challenge head-on. With it, you can connect seamlessly to social media channels and detect social media conversations that relate to your products, services, customers and prospects. But what really sets Social Media Manager apart is:
• You can filter, distill and analyze social media posts, identifying those that are most important and actionable.
• Those messages are automatically distributed to the contact center agent or specialist anywhere in your organization who is best qualified to respond.
• And, best of all, those mentions and responses are tracked and reported on through your Avaya Aura® Contact Center reporting tools.

With these capabilities, you reduce the risk of missing vital customer posts. You maintain a more consistent customer experience through all customer touch points — voice, e-mail, Web or video chat, and social media channels. And, you can identify new revenue-generating opportunities while measuring the impact of social media on your organization. Social Media Manager effectively becomes a focal point for all your social customer interactions, helping you elevate the customer experience across the board and quickly identify sales and service opportunities.

Social Media Manager effectively becomes a focal point for all your social customer interactions, helping you elevate the customer experience across the board and quickly identify sales and service opportunities.

Ready to make customer service a competitive edge by managing your social media opportunities in an entirely new way? We offer more than just software. Understanding both the business and technical aspects of social media is critical to your success, and we can help.
Contact us today:
VOX Network Solutions - www.voxns.com or @voxns
Avaya Social Media Manager Demo:

Avaya & Sipera SBC's - What You Need to Know

Avaya Acquires Sipera - This Enables Avaya to Accelerate Development of Integrated SIP-based Security Capabilities for Unified Communications and Contact Center Environments.

 
Avaya’s Sipera solutions provide enterprises and service providers with comprehensive VoIP/UC security solutions that protect, control and enable real-time unified communications. The Sipera IPCS products combine VPN, Firewall/SBC, Intrusion Prevention, Anti-Spam, Compliance and Troubleshooting functionality for VoIP systems in a single device. This securely enables IP PBXs, VoIP remote users, SIP trunks, data/voice VLANs, hosted VoIP services and IMS or UMA-based networks. Comprised of top vulnerability research experts, the Sipera VIPER Lab concentrates its efforts towards identifying VoIP vulnerabilities, while Sipera LAVA tools verify networks' readiness to resist attacks.

 


 
"Sipera's broad portfolio of open, enterprise-focused security technologies strongly align with our own Avaya Aura unified communications architecture. Together, we will help customers simplify deployment, management and maintenance of secure, multi-vendor UC and contact center environments while providing them with greater flexibility to support remote and mobile employees using the device that best suits their needs."
Dr. Alan Baratz, Senior Vice President and President, Global Communications Solutions, Avaya

 
"Integration of our solutions with Avaya Aura is a significant milestone in the evolution of unified communications. With the combined offerings, users enjoy rich, responsive communication experiences that span multiple channels, applications, devices and networks. These communications incorporate security and compliance features that ensure mission-critical information and resources are safeguarded. Together, our solutions simplify and streamline deployment and management of enterprise UC, improving communications flexibility, accelerating user adoption, and maximizing return on investment."
Jim Timmer, COO, Sipera

 

The Sipera IPCS solutions are already Avaya compliant with key components of the Unified Communications for Teleworkers solutions from Avaya. The Sipera IPCS product suite's integration with Avaya SIP-enabled telephones helps businesses comprehensively secure VoIP/UC remote and mobile workers by offering threat prevention, policy compliance and secure access in a single, real-time appliance.

Looking for the Avaya-Sipera Application Notes for integration? 
  •      Application Notes for Configuring the Sipera Systems IPCS 310 in an Avaya SIP Telephony Environment - Issue 1.0 - Apr 06
  •      Application Notes for Configuring Sipera IPCS 310 with Avaya SIP Enablement Services and Avaya Communication Manager to Support Remote Users with NAT Traversal - Issue 1.0 - June 07
  •      Application Notes for Configuring Sipera IPCS 310 with Avaya SIP Enablement Services and Avaya Communication Manager to Support SIP Trunking with NAT Traversal - Issue 1.0 - July 07
  •      Application Notes for Configuring Sipera IPCS 310 with Avaya SIP Enablement Services and Avaya Communication Manager to Support SIP Trunking - Issue 1.0 - Oct 08
  •      Application Notes for Configuring Sipera IPCS 310 with Avaya SIP Enablement Services and Avaya Communication Manager to Support Remote Users with NAT Traversal - Issue 1.0 - Dec 08
  •      Application Notes for Configuring Sipera IPCS 310 with Avaya SIP Enablement Services and Avaya Communication Manager to Support Remote Users with NAT Traversal - Issue 1.0 - Apr 09
  •      Application notes for SIPERA UC-Sec 4.0 Remote User Enablement Solution with Avaya Multimedia Communication System 5100 release 4.0 - Issue 1.0 - Apr 10
  •      Application Notes for Configuring Sipera Systems UC-Sec Secure Access Proxy with Avaya Aura Session Manager and Avaya Aura Communication Manager to Support Core Enterprise Users - Issue 1.0 - Mar 2011
  •      Application Notes for Configuring Sipera Systems UC-Sec Secure Access Proxy with Avaya Aura Session Manager and Avaya Aura Communication Manager to Support Remote Users with and without NAT Traversal - Issue 1.0 - Mar 2011
 Contact us for more information or to receive the free Sipera for Avaya Application Notes:
     http://www.voxns.com or @voxns
 

What is Avaya Support Advantage and the New Avaya Maintenance Program?

The Avaya Support Advantage portfolio provides service options designed to maintain and support net new sales and upgrades of Avaya Enterprise Solutions. It includes support for Enterprise Customers' IP Telephony, Contact Center and Unified Communications solutions. This portfolio of services is tailored to meet a wide range of customer needs, by providing a solution-centric approach and delivering increased value in a flexible and modular support model. These new offers introduce a simplified quoting and pricing methodology based on license/server/gateway SKU's.

Support Advantage consists of the following offers:

  • Essential Support: 24x7 remote software and hardware support, access to service packs and access to web services.
  • Essential Co-Delivery: is available to channel partners who meet certification requirements as defined by the Avaya Connect program.
  • Preferred Support: Includes the entitlements of Essential plus EXPERT Systems(SM) monitoring, off board alarming and centralized management for remote access policies.
  • Parts Next Business Day (NBD): Replacement of parts on a next business day basis. Customer must purchase Parts NBD with Essential, Essential Co-Delivery or Preferred if an Onsite option is not selected. Additional delivery options for parts available, including 8x5x4 and 24x7x4 expedited deliveries (where available).
  • Onsite Support: Provides onsite technical support and parts replacement. Customers must purchase Essential, Essential Co-Delivery (through a Partner) or Preferred Support before purchasing Onsite Support.
  • Upgrade Advantage: provides customers with a subscription for major software upgrades which results in substantial savings and investment protection.
  • Advanced Services: an array of advanced service that can be added on with either Essential or Preferred Support. Examples include: Enhanced Monitoring, Software Release Maintenance and Product Correct Support. Please see the appropriate offer pages on the Enterprise Portal for details, availability and prerequisites.
To find out if Avaya Support Advantage is for you or what options you have, check out the new Avaya Maintenance Program at http://www.AvayaMaintenance.com.

NEW Avaya Maintenance Program Launched!

Looking for options when it comes to your Avaya Maintenance agreements?  You're not alone.  Here's a new program that provides customers with at least two quote plans to compare at one place. 

See more details at:  http://www.AvayaMaintenance.com

Save Big Money in Three Easy Steps:
  1. Get Easy Quotes - It only takes a few minutes to get started.
  2. Compare the NumbersSee two quote plans in one place.
  3. Choose & Save - Pick the best option and start saving.













It's a free service and there is no obligation to get pricing.


Why Your Future is About Getting There Yesterday

Today, time-to-market really means time-to-success — Which is exactly why you should look to VOX to accelerate your ability to leverage the latest innovations.

While we pride ourselves on offering excellent, leading-edge products and services, it's the quality of the long-term relationships we form that really sets us apart in the industry. We know that our business is dependent upon how our people deal with your people. It's just that simple.
At VOX, we're in the business of taking our clients to the next level of voice and data solutions, and transforming network products, services, and support into tangible, tailored, and seamless business-critical solutions.

Find out more at: http://www.voxns.com or @voxns

Data Backup - Can you continue to ignore it?

Data Backup. The 400lb gorilla in your IT strategy that nobody wants to talk about. Data backup is one of the single most critical aspects of any IT strategy and it is often overlooked, ignored, misunderstood and mismanaged. Perhaps most businesses don't pay attention to it because it isn't something we use on a daily basis. When the e-mail goes down or when we can't access a critical application we notice immediately, but backing that data up is something a lot of people just assume is being done properly. Sadly, we see businesses every week that have major backup and recovery problems. The hidden costs for managing a tape or hard disk based backup solution are unbelievably high. Backup is critical and it is not an overstatement to say that a successfully recovered backup could save your business.

What you need to know about your data backup and recovery strategy

  • It’s not about the Backup. It’s about the RECOVERY - You can backup every spec of information on your computer but if you can't recover it then you may as well have not backed it up in the first place. Regular testing of your backups to recover files is critical. We suggest testing miscellaneous files every 30 days and full server/system recoveries twice a year (you are doing full server backups right?)
  • Affordability - The IT world is growing and evolving quicker than any other industry. New technologies are constantly coming out that may lower operational costs or open up formerly cost prohibitive techniques. We suggest an annual review of your IT strategy as a whole, including your backup and recovery process.
  • Lose the Tape Drives - If ever there was an outdated technology that deserves to be put out to pasture it's tape drives. We see 3-4 times the number of problems with tape based backups as compared to alternative solutions and consequently, a much higher cost to maintain a tape based system. The tapes themselves have a relatively short shelf life (6-12 months) and are affected by environmental conditions like heat, humidity and magnetic interference.
  • Local as well as remote backup - The best backup and recovery strategies include the use of local backup for quick, easy recovery as well as offsite or remote backup in the event of a catastrophe. Offsite and secure copies of your data should be readily accessible in the event of a disaster situation or in the event a critical server failure.
  • Are you backing up everything you need and is it recoverable - Too often we are called to restore data only to find out that it is not recoverable because backup procedures were not followed; often because of lack of training or expertise. This is especially prevalent with SQL (and other) data base products as well as Exchange and other email systems. These systems typically require specialized backup procedures in order to ensure complete backup and recoverability of data.
  • What if a server goes down - For some of us, each hour of down time comes at a high cost. In some backup plans, even in the best of circumstances, the company can expect a day or more down with the solutions they have in place. Technologies such as server virtualization can often be used to get your systems back up and running in a few hours or less, as opposed to a day or more. Some companies even feel the need to implement a spare server on site.
  • Data Retention and Archiving - How long are you retaining your data for and how many copies of that data? We've seen some companies that implement a backup solution that simply overwrites the previous backup but what if you need an older copy of a file? Proper solutions should maintain numerous instances of your data and allow you to select which specific instance of a file or files you would like to restore. Additionally, many businesses require archiving of older data as well. Certain businesses may be required to retrieve data that is 10 or more years old. Understanding the rules and regulations that may affect your data retention policies is critical.
  • Is once a day enough - Many businesses follow a very traditional procedure of "nightly backups". For some businesses this may be perfectly acceptable but what happens in the event of a power outage or a failed backup? Is a full day's worth of data loss going to affect your business? Many new technologies can allow for files to be backed up within minutes of changes taking place to them, assuring your business of up to the minute data backup.
  • Backed up data needs to be secure (encrypted) - Maybe your business is regulated by various government policies that mandate your data be secure and encrypted or perhaps you're simply concerned that the private information on your system be kept private (and you should be!). In the event of a lost or stolen tape or drive, it is imperative that the information on that medium stays safe and secure, especially if your backup data contains information which is considered protected (i.e., name and social security number or patient health information
  • Write it down - Any process or procedure is only as good as the paper it is written on. Your backup and recovery policy needs to be clearly documented included a list of who is responsible for everything from backing the data up, monitoring the backup to ensure that it is taking place and testing the recovery process on a regularly scheduled basis.

If all of this sounds like a lot of information, it is. The fact of the matter is that implementing a proper backup strategy requires planning, expertise, monitoring and testing. If you are unable or unwilling to commit the resources to do it properly then consider having someone do it for you. Most Managed Service Providers (MSP's) can handle the entire process including providing offsite storage, encryption and more. Typically the monthly cost for this type of service are probably less than you would pay an employee to handle all of these tasks and you have the peace of mind of knowing that the procedures are being performed by trained experts. Most MSPs can provide weekly and monthly reports and reviews that document their monitoring, backup and recovery tests performed.

If you would like to know more about data backup procedures and Managed services in general give us a call at 888.748.BLUE (2583) or visit us at www.shopblueline.com.







Patch Management - Who's Minding Your Network?

A patch is a piece of software designed to fix problems with, or update a computer program, operating system or its supporting data. This includes fixing security vulnerabilities and other bugs, and improving the overall usability and performance. Though meant to fix problems, poorly designed or improperly managed patches can sometimes introduce new problems.

Patch management is the process of using a strategy and plan of what patches should be applied to which systems at a specified time. The key works here are Process, Strategy and Plan. Without all of these in place you aren't performing patch management, you are simply installing (or not installing) patches without knowing what effect they will have on your network. A typical patch management strategy should look like this:

  • Detect. Use tools to scan your systems for missing security patches. The detection should be automated and will trigger the patch management process.
  • Assess. If necessary updates are not installed, determine the severity of the issue(s) addressed by the patch and the mitigating factors that may influence your decision. By balancing the severity of the issue and mitigating factors, you can determine if the vulnerabilities are a threat to your current environment.
  • Acquire. If the vulnerability is not addressed by the security measures already in place, download the patch for testing.
  • Test. Install the patch on a test system to verify the ramifications of the update against your production configuration.
  • Deploy. Deploy the patch to production computers. Make sure your applications are not affected. Employ your rollback or backup restore plan if needed.
  • Maintain. Subscribe to notifications that alert you to vulnerabilities as they are reported. Begin the patch management process again.

Unfortunately most businesses and even many IT Service Providers have no formal process for patch management.

A critical step in our process when we evaluate a company's IT infrastructure is a complete Network Assessment. One of the things we look at during this assessment is how the patches are being managed. The two most common methods we see are "download and install automatically" and "do not download or install patches and updates." Sometimes it is hard to determine which of the two methods is worse! 

Potential clients will often tell us they don't download the updates/patches because "everything worked fine when the server/workstations were setup so we don't want any changes". New bugs, threats and vulnerabilities are discovered everyday and applying patches and updates to protect against these is critical. Ignoring them and allowing your system to go unpatched is a recipe for disaster. We also have potential clients that simply allow updates to be installed at random, as they are made available. Doing this on a live system can often result in problems when patches do not install properly or worse, when a patch or update is not compatible with an application that you may be running or when servers reboot overnight during an update and fail to come back online in the morning.

Patch management is one of the most critical and most overlooked and misunderstood aspects of maintaining a stable network environment. Most Managed Service providers offer a basic patch management program as a stand alone option (as well as bundled with more complete services) that is very affordable. When properly performed, patch management will provide you with a safe, secure and stable network environment. We encourage all of our clients and potential clients to periodically evaluate their patch management process and make changes where they are needed.


Integrate Google Web Fonts selection into your apps

We’ve received lots of requests from developers for a dynamic feed of the most recent web fonts offered via Google Web Fonts. Such a feed would ensure that you can incorporate Google Web Fonts into applications and menus dynamically, without the need to hardcode any URLs. The benefits of this approach are clear. As Google Web Fonts continues to add fonts, these fonts can become immediately available within your applications and sites.

To address this need, we’ve built the Google Web Fonts Developer API, which provides a list of fonts offered via Google Web Fonts. Results can be sorted by alpha, date added, popularity, number of styles available, and trending (which is a measure of fonts growing rapidly in usage). Check out the documentation to get started.

Some developers have helped us test this new API over the last few months, and the results are already public. Take a look at TypeDNA’s photoshop plugin as well as Faviconist, an app that makes generating favicons as simple as can be, and Google Web Fonts Families, a list of Google Web Fonts that have more than one style.

We look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Posted by Jeremie Lenfant-Engelmann, Engineer, Google Web Fonts

Managed Services vs. Traditional IT Service

Traditionally, computers and printers get fixed after they are broken. Typically, while you or your staff is busy working, a problem occurs that prevents someone, or everyone, from doing their job. You place a phone call to a local IT Service provider and hopefully they are able to get out there in the next few hours, but you may have to wait until the following day...

The technician shows up and begins working on resolving the problem. In the meantime, your business is not being as productive as it should. With luck, the technician had things back together in a few hours and you get a bill for the work that was done. In most areas this will range from $100-150 an hour but could be more or less, especially if it was an emergency or priority response.

So to recap things, something on your network broke, it cost you time and labor because employees could not do their jobs and you also had to pay someone to come out and fix it. It really is a strange scenario when you think about it. Each day you hope nothing goes wrong so that you don't have to pay a technician to come out, and each day they plan on something going wrong so that they can make a living...

Why not think differently?

When you get in your car and head to work, or to the store, your car warns you of potential problems. If you're low on oil, the check oil light comes on. If your coolant system isn't doing the job the temperature light comes on. Even that old smoke detector in your basement beeps when it senses that the battery is low. Your computer systems on the other hand, they just fail with no warning and leave you scrambling for a solution.

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is someone who thinks differently about your network. The break-fix mentality of the past is turned upside down and instead, an MSP makes money by keeping your network running smoothly. In this scenario an MSP charges a fixed monthly fee to service your network. The value of this service is far greater than simply fixing a computer when it goes down.

 A quality Managed Service Program is a proactive service, not a reactive one. This means that the smoother and more efficiently the MSP can keep your systems up and running, the more profitable they become.  Typical MSPs provider constant 24x7 monitoring of your entire network, monitor and deploy security and application patches in a safe, controlled environment, provide virus updates, maintain firewalls and user permissions and many can even monitor the amount of toner in a printer and tell you when to order.

As a business owner or manager, your overall IT costs are reduced and put into a single, manageable monthly fee. Your staff is more productive since your network and systems are healthy and maintained. Servers, desktops and network components are kept updated and security threats are significantly reduced. A recent study determined that an average business class desktop computer costs 60% less to have managed through an MSP than it does to have fixed when it breaks. Typical benefits of implementing a managed Service Program also include:
  • Lower Total IT Costs: Through a regular monthly fee that covers all preventative and proactive maintenance for client machines, total IT costs are lowered.
  • Reduced Hidden Costs and Increased Staff Productivity: Because client PCs and servers are stable and secure, with fewer disruptions or breakdowns, your staff will have more time to be productive. Additionally, incidents such as data loss, failed backups and corrupt database files can be virtually eliminated.
  • Greater IT Cost Predictability: With a fixed monthly fee that covers monitoring, preventative maintenance, and unlimited remote support, clients know their exact IT costs per month and can budget accordingly.

Not sure if Managed Services are for you? Perhaps your business is too small? Think again, Eric Goodness, Vice President of the Gartner research firm predicts that by 2014, 90% of all North American companies will be using a remote infrastructure managed service. The size of your company will directly determine the price an MSP charges, a company with 10 computers is going to pay significantly less than one with 50 computers.

If you'd like to learn more about Managed Services or if you're simply in the market for some new computing equipment, visit our website at www.shopblueline.com.


Power Supplies - A Blueline Advantage

To the average consumer, the power supply is probably the single most overlooked and misunderstood component. We all look at "ram" and "storage" and "gigahertz" and we assume that's all we need to know, but when it's all said and done, your computer is only as good as the power supply it is using.

What's the difference?

Most large computer manufacturers use extremely low end, low cost power supplies in an effort to increase profits. A low quality power supply, or PSU, can significantly impact your computer's stability and overall longevity. They can contribute to excessive heat, unstable voltages and lack of appropriate power while performing more demanding tasks. Additionally, if you ever upgrade your computer you may find that the power supply is incapable of handling the increased power requirements. A high quality PSU provides good clean power to the system even under full load, runs cooler and helps exhaust excess heat out of the computer and leads to a more stable system with fewer "crashes" and a more pleasant user experience.

Don't larger PSU's cost more to run?

This is a very common misconception. Your computer will require a certain amount of electricity in order to run. This will vary depending on if you are simply browsing the internet or performing a more demanding task such as watching a movie or playing a game. While a larger PSU is capable of providing more power, it only provides the power required by your computer at the time. So if you have a 400 Watt PSU and your computer needs 200 Watts, the PSU delivers 200 Watts.

What about efficiency?

Power supply efficiency plays a huge role in terms of your cost to run the computer and as a general rule, the quality of the PSU. Typical computer power supplies are in the 60-65% efficiency range. What this means is that the power supply transfers 60-65% of the power it takes from the outlet into your computer. In other words, a computer that requires 250 Watts of electricity to run will actually use 384 Watts of electricity if it has a 65% efficient PSU. That same computer, using an 80% efficient PSU will require roughly 312 Watts to run.

Blueline Power...

At Blueline Network Solutions we're in the business of making sure our customer's systems are running optimally at all times. We firmly believe that a quality PSU can have a huge impact on your computer's stability and overall computer experience. That's why all Blueline "P Series" computers (Sapphire P-400 and Cobalt P-500) as well as Blueline Servers and Indigo gaming systems include high quality, 80 Plus Certified power supplies. The 80 Plus certification is an independent, ENERGY STAR rating for computer power supplies. Furthermore, many of the optional, more powerful power supplies that we offer are even more efficient. What this means to you is that a Blueline P-Series, Server or Indigo gaming computer cost's less to run than similarly equipped machines from other manufacturers. It also demonstrates our absolute commitment to delivering the finest quality computing solutions to our customers.

To learn more about Blueline Network Solutions and the quality computing solutions we provide visit our website at www.shopblueline.com

The new Google Web Fonts - Now fully launched

At the end of June, we announced an experimental interface for the Google Web Fonts interface. Today, we’re pleased to offer this new interface to all users, by default. From now on, you can simply visit www.google.com/webfonts to use the new layout and functionality. The old interface will no longer be accessible.

There are a few things we’ve added since we initially launched the interface. We’d like to call attention to one of those features in particular. We’ve added the ability to bookmark your collection. Simply click the “Bookmark your collection” link from the top right of any page. This will give you a link that you can share with friends or coworkers to quickly share your selection.

There’s more to this than meets the eye. The bookmark will depend on which page you are currently on. For example, if you grab the bookmark link from the Review step, your link will forward to a page that displays your selection in the Review step. Similarly, if you grab the link from the Use step, the link will forward to the Use step. In this way, you can selectively choose which step in the font selection process you’d like to link to.



We hope you enjoy this new interface. We’re grateful for all the feedback we’ve received over the past 2 weeks, and we aim to continually improve the Google Web Font selection experience based on everything we hear. Keep it coming!

How to remove Windows Security Alert from status bar tray

Follow the procedure to turn off automatic windows updates and to remove Windows security alert from status bar tray.
Hold WINDOWS key and press R or go to START and click on RUN to open RUN window. Type
" MSCONFIG " without doubles quotes and press ENTER key or click OK button to open SYSTEM CONFIGURATION UTILITY
 Click on SERVICES tab and in the list look for the name SECURITY CENTER and deselect.
Now click OK. You will be asked to RESTART the computer for changes to be affected.
To remove Windows automatic updates:

Hold WINDOWS key and press R or go to START and click on RUN to open RUN window. Type
" MSCONFIG " without double quotes and press ENTER key or click OK button to open SYSTEM CONFIGURATION UTILITY.
 
Click on SERVICES tab and in the list look for the name AUTOMATIC UPDATES and deselect.
Now click OK. You will be asked to RESTART the computer for changes to be affected.

How to create backup and restore registry

To SAVE or EXPORT or BACKUP registry.

Go to START and click on RUN or hold WINDOWS key and press R to open RUN window. Type 
" REGEDIT " without double quotes and press ENTER key to open REGISTRY EDITOR.
Go to FILE menu and click on EXPORT.
Give a name and path and click on OPEN to save the registry file.
To RESTORE or IMPORT the existing backup registry file.

Considering you have already taken backup of the registry to a file, go to FILE and click on IMPORT.
Now go the location of the saved registry file. Select the backup registry file and click on OPEN to restore the previous stored registry settings.

How to create desktop icons, files and folders without any name in Windows XP

If you want to remove the names placed under the icons on desktop do the following procedure.

Right click on the icon  and click on RENAME or select the icon and press SHIFT + F3 to open right click mouse button and select RENAME or just select the icon and press F2 to RENAME.

Now delete the existing name and type 255 holding ALT button and press ENTER key. You can see no name under the icon.

Note:
  • This works only with alphanumeric keypad numbers and not the numbers placed in the second row of the keyboard.
  • This method works even for files and folders placed on desktop.

How to restrict shutdown of Windows XP

There are many ways to shutdown Windows XP.

  1. Press WINDOWS key and press U twice to shutdown computer
  2. Go to START and click on TURN OFF COMPUTER and again click TURN OFF
  3. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL and select SHUTDOWN and click OK
  4. Go to START and press R to open RUN window. Type " SHUTDOWN –s " without double quotes to shutdown the computer
Procedure to remove the option of shutting down the computer
You have to login as ADMINISTRATOR to make any changes in the GROUP POLICY

Hold the WINDOWS key and press R or go to START and click on RUN to open RUN window. Type 
" gpedit.msc " without double quotes and click OK or press ENTER key to open GROUP POLICY window.

In the left window go to USER CONFIGURATIONADMINISTRATIVE TEMPLATES and double click on  STARTMENU AND TASKBAR.
Now in the right window double click on REMOVE LOGOFF ON THE START MENU and select ENABLE
Now just below REMOVE LOGOFF ON THE START MENU double click on REMOVE AND PREVENT ACCESS TO THE SHUTDOWN COMMAND and select ENABLE.
 
Now in the left window go to USER CONFIGURATION ADMINISTRATIVE TEMPLATES double click on SYSTEM. In the right window PREVENT ACCESS TO THE COMMAND PROMPT and select ENABLE.
If you want to allow the person to shutdown who has already logged in. Go to COMPUTER CONFIGURATIONWINDOWS SETTINGSSECURITY SETTINGSLOCAL POLICIES and double click on SECURITY OPTIONS. In the right window double click on SHUTDOWN: ALLOW SYSTEM TO BE SHUT DOWN WITHOUT HAVING TO LOG ON and select DISABLED.

How to build a desktop computer (part 5)

Once all the hardware peripherals are connected to cabinet, the most important and final part of assembling computer is providing proper power connection to the motherboard and other hardware peripherals.

Power connections from SMPS to motherboard and other hardware peripherals is very crucial. The 20 or 24 pin power connector and one 4 pin power connector which comes from SMPS has to be fixed to motherboard. 
Both 20 or 24 pin and 4 pin power connectors have a lock.
Not all motherboards have 24 pin power connector. Some motherboards will have only 20 pin power connectors. 
Look for the 20 or 24 pin power connector on the motherboard and connect the 20 or 24 pin power connector from SMPS to motherboard as shown in the below image.
Now connect the 4 pin power connector from SMPS  to the 4 pin connector of the motherboard as shown in the image.
Note that some older motherboard will not have the option of providing 4 pin power connector.

All CPU cabinets will have a set of cables or wires such as power, reset, hard disk LED and power LED, speaker, USB and sound which has to be connected to motherboard.
The USB and sound cables are provided only if you have a provision for connecting USB devices and sound from the front of your cabinet.

Look for the name F_PANEL or FRONT PANEL or PANEL1 on the motherboard. All motherboard manufacturers name the front panel connections differently.
The F_PANEL is a 10 pin connector.
In the F_PANEL you find some times RST for reset, ON/OFF or PWR_BTN or PWR_SWITCH or PW for power, SPK or SPEAKER for speaker, HDD_LED or HD_LED or HLED or HD for hard disk drive LED, POWER_LED or POW_LED or PWR_LED for power LED.

Usually in 10 pin front panel power connector you will find only 9 pins as shown in the above image. The 9th pin as shown in the above image should be always free. Meaning you should not connect able wire or cable to the 9th pin. The two pins next to the block without pin is for power connection and the two pins just opposite to two power pins is for reset and two pins next to reset is for hard disk drive LED and two pins opposite to hard disk drive LED is for power LED. Not all motherboard manufacturers will have the above said front panel power connections design. Always refer motherboard manual for the power connections.

After all the power connections to the motherboard is over cross check once again with the motherboard manual for front panel connections. Then plug the power chord from SMPS to the main power supply.