Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hosted Spam Filtering: Why, How, and Why Now?

For many years I have been advocating the use of hosted spam filtering to make you life easier. There are three main reasons that hosted spam filtering makes your life easier:

1) It reduces the workload on your server

2) It reduces the network traffic on your router, firewall, and any switches between the Internet and the server

3) Having a hosted spam filter eliminates downtime when you move offices, replace the server, or switch Internet service providers

4) Having a hosted spam filter allows you to move from in-house email to hosted (cloud) email with zero downtime

Here are three videos to show you why this is true. First, here's a quickie on how to set up your hosted spam filter.

How to Set Up a Hosted Spam Filter

Second, here's a video on moving your email server when you have a hosted spam filter in place.

Moving Your Email Server with a Hosted Spam Filter

Third, here's a video demonstrating the steps to move your email from in-house to out-house. Um . . . well out-of-house anyway.

Moving from In-House Exchange to Hosted Exchange Mailboxes

Feedback always welcome!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Dental Integrators Association: A Great Niche Market

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Dental Integrators Association meeting in Las Vegas. The DIA is a wonderful example of a niche market. The people there all share similar challenges - an opportunities. They support the same variety of clients and the same software and hardware.

I interviewed Bryan Currier of Advantage Technologies ( Advantage has about 525 clients under managed service contracts in six states. In this interview, Bryan talks about the benefits of working in a niche.

Watch now to find out more about the DIA:

For more information on the Dental Integrators Association, visit


Friday, April 18, 2014

How to Stand Up After Working on a Computer

Here's a quick but simple formula that can save you a lot of tech support headaches.

What happens when you leave a client's office and the printers don't print?
What happens when you leave a client's office and the Internet goes down?
What happens when you leave a client's office and the email doesn't work?
What happens when you leave a client's office and the user can't see the server?

It's your fault.

Okay, it's not really your fault. But you've seen it a thousand times. You leave the client's office and some random thing that can't possibly be related to you happens. But you (or your people) were there.

The client doesn't understand technology. It's not their job to understand. So you sit down. And when you leave, you get blamed for every single thing that went wrong.

In our experience, 95% of what can go wrong falls into these four categories:
- Accessing the Internet
- Printers
- Email
- Accessing files on the Server

So here's a very simple checklist to make your life easier. Make sure that every single person who works for you checks those four things before they stand up from any client computer. It doesn't matter whether any problems are related to you or your staff. Even if the ISP randomly changed DNS servers while you are onsite, there's no point in in leaving until you find and fix the problem.

Remember, you're going to get the fallout from any problems that happen while your staff are onsite - whether you cause them or not. So you might as well take stock of what's going on and then address it. If your people caused the problem, they need to be honest and create a new service request. If your people did not cause the problem, they still need to create a service request.

The end result is the same. The problem is identified as early as possible and you begin working to address it.

I rarely do anything that's motivated by "CYA" or Cover Your Butt. In this case, however, it makes sense to create a very simple 4-point checklist. Ask your staff to verify the four items above. 99.9% of the time, any problems will not be related to the actions of your team. But if you find and fix things before the client knows there's a problem, that's good for you.

[Revision: In response to the comment below, here's a form:]
Click to Enlarge

- - - - -

Your checklist might be different from this. But no matter what it it, you should have a very simple three- or four-point checklist. Cover your bases. Make your team look like heros.

Your Comments Welcome.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Is There a Need for a Unified Interface?

Over on my Facebook page ( some folks are discussing the Windows 8/8.1 interface and Microsoft's initiative to use the same OS on tablets, phones, laptops, desktops, and even servers. Well, at least the same UI if not the same OS.

Michael made the point that Microsoft tried to do something innovative and forward thinking.

I think that's misplaced.

I don't think there's a need for the same interface on my phone, my tablet, my TV, and my laptop. In fact, I think the world is a much better place when all of these are different.

I'm (mostly) taking time off in Las Vegas for a few days. But I went to a small digital signage show yesterday. The coolest product I saw was the Bright Sign hardware. They are part of the Roku family so they care more about pushing hardware units than they do about what you run on their hardware.

Their basic interface is simply HTML 5 objects. See With that, you can create interactive menus, games, etc. There are dozens of examples of interactive interfaces created with their product.

On a similar vein, the iPad is flexible in a million places because of the simple and obvious usability of it's interface. The Kindle is popular and addictive because of it's excellent interface. The Android phone has taken over the world because of a very usable interface. Whatever Android hasn't take over is taken over by iPhone and Samsung - because of the interfaces.

And Windows desktop (Windows 7. Windows XP) completely dominates the world of business because it is easy and usable.

My point is: There is not ONE perfect interface for everything. I don't think there ever will be. I don't think that it's really even a good idea or a noble goal. There should be many different interfaces. Let each interface find success in the right product.

The only real argument for having a single unified interface is world domination. If you could create an interface so amazing and spectacular that it was the ONE right interface for tablets and phones and TVs and laptops and desktops, then everyone would love you and everyone would buy all of your stuff and no one would ever buy anything else.

... And you could never change it. Revving from one version to the next would have to be rolled out over years.

I think it is far more creative and innovative to have a different interface for each product. When a component (e.g., swiping with your finger) is clearly a better way of doing things, then everyone will integrate that.

And as new devices come into existence, new interfaces will come into existence. And maybe many common elements will be reused. But there will always be much great innovation and creativity without a unified interface than there would be with a unified interface.

So Microsoft needs a new plan.

"What do you want to do tonight, Satya?"

"Same thing we do every night: Plan to take over the world."