Saturday, December 23, 2017

Implementing Managed Network Services in a Law Firm

The first step to implementing any new system is always onboarding. When bringing on an MSP (Managed Services Provider) you will need to deploy a monitoring and reporting management console. This will serve as a window into your business environment so that your network administrator can see and accumulate aggregate performance, security, connectivity and availability metrics, 24/7. For most MSPs, this will be as simple as a remote care application on each PC/Workstation that will allow them to manage all hardware and software assets from anywhere in the world at any time.

While we're on the subject of monitoring. Your new MSP will set up defined thresholds on each device and configure RT (real-time) alerts, notifications, and receipts. This system of alerts will notify them of current (and possible) issues, in many cases before you are aware they happening. These thresholds will also keep them up to date on the status of an issues remediation. 

A short period of time after setting up monitoring, the MSP will take the aggregated data, interpret it, and make recommendations to align your technology with your business needs. This can include anything from security vulnerabilities to licensing or compliance issues. They may suggest new hardware or software, and proper configurations, etc. This phase of assessment will serve as your primary alignment for proactive services and give you valuable insight into the state of tech at your firm. 

Your day to day technology management may be delivered to you in a variety of ways. Some activities will be automated. Any task your MSP is automating, such as preventative maintenance, data backups, virus scans and other updates will lower your costs and free up your MSPs resources to schedule other activities. For anything that is not being automated you should have 24/7 support from the help desk. Any member of your staff can pick up the phone and get immediate remote support. If the issue cannot be solved remotely then, a technician will get in their car and drive to you for onsite support. There are a few activities that require physical onsite support. Some companies, such as TaylorWorks, schedule a technician to be onsite once a month regardless of any issues to check up on the productivity of your network. This ensures that small issues are not being swept under the rug and everything is maintained properly. 

By this point in the process, your network, software and all related processes and integrations should be fully stabilized. So your MSP will now ensure continued stabilization and peak performance by delivering a full line of security services. These will prevent viruses, malware, spam and other malicious content. The services will include hardware and software firewall management as well as uniform antivirus and external spam filtration. Plus any other additional security protocol that may have been evaluated as needed for your business. From one end to the other, all of your valuable IT-assets should be safe, secure and protected 365 days a year. 

MSPs perform system, bandwidth, equipment and traffic optimization to be sure that you are getting the best performance and comprehensive security during all hours. Therefore, they should be performing maintenance and continually be monitoring performance. At TaylorWorks you will have a dedicated VCIO meeting quarterly to go over personalized plans for optimizing your business's IT. 

The second to last step in your implementation has to be data backup. This ensures your entire network is backed up and rotated offsite. At TaylorWorks we do this using a Datto and optional cloud backup services. In the event of a data loss, comprehensive backup solutions will minimize damage, allowing data to be restored individually at the file level. Your MSP should be developing a custom disaster recovery plan for every level of breach. Whether it be a few misplaced emails, or n "Act of God".

Last but certainly not least, it's not good enough to simply tell you that an MSP is performing for you. We deliver custom monthly performance reports. These reports show you performance and security metrics and give you insight into your business' IT environment. Hand in hand with our VCIO they allow you to plan your next move. What gets measured, gets managed!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Productivity Tips for Office Managers

I think anyone who's worked in an office environment recognizes that Office Managers end up with an awful lot of work on their desk. Whether you are acting as an Office Manager or Executive Assistant, many of the challenges hindering productivity and organization can be similar.  In small businesses, the impact can be much larger since headcount may be limited.  However, these challenges can be easily overcome by taking a step back from the day-to-day craziness to "see the forest from the trees."

There are 2 approaches to trying to streamline your own productivity. One can be to create a long list of all the areas where productivity can be improved. That approach will usually leave you with even more work, and frustration. Instead, I suggest focusing on a few areas where increasing productivity will have the largest impact.

Based on my conversations with business owners and office managers the biggest frustrations come from:

  • Overflowing email boxes
  • Prioritization of tasks
  • Delegation & Follow-Up

While Email Inbox Organization can be extremely simple it is also very hard to get started. You need to implement archiving for older messages so they aren't cluttering your inbox, set up strong filters for spam, and then read and prioritize the remaining emails. A good IT company can make this a much simpler process. Bringing in an MSP to manage your email server and put the proper filtering in place can help streamline productivity here, after that though it's up to each individual employee to read through all the remaining emails, and either delete them or create a follow-up task. In reality, each email is asking a simple yes or no question: Is this information pertinent? If it's not, delete it. If the information is pertinent to your business is there an action that needs to be taken? Create a task with a reminder to follow up on that action item. Outlook 365, and it's multitude of plug-ins allow you to easily create and complete tasks daily. 

Prioritizing tasks can be a challenge no matter what industry or position you are in. One of the largest challenges here can be keeping up with tasks across a bunch of platforms. The first step I suggest is to choose one application or service to keep track of all your tasks. Whether you choose to do this in your CRM, email, calendar or third party software/application is up to you. A good IT company can help point you in the right direction for your business. For example, if you're using a CRM (like Salesforce) chances are there is a plug-in to push/pull your appointments and tasks from the cloud to your Outlook calendar. A little bit of research on yours, or your IT company's part could save a lot of time and headache down the line. 

Delegation can be a tough egg to crack for Office Managers who on top of their own jobs and tasks somehow always end up with everything everyone else is struggling with coming to their desk. It's important to ask yourself what is my job description? What is the job description of my colleagues and employees? What needs to be done, and whose job is it to complete it? How many minutes/hours a day are you spending on tasks that aren't really yours to complete? Are you spending time on server maintenance or computer upkeep? What is the value of those minutes and hours? Does it make sense to hire an assistant, an in-house IT person, an outside sales rep, or outsource your IT to a managed services provider? Or, is there someone/something in-house that needs to be fixed so that the employees you already have can be productive? Only you can answer these questions based on your business model, but it can be great to have 3rd parties consult on your ROI (return on investment) concerning specific aspects of your company.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Depression is... a monster in your head that whispers to you all day about how worthless you are. Who tells you that feeling happy would be a betrayal to the pain that lives inside of you. It can be sleepless nights, or days spent in bed. It is deafening silence. It is days of numbness followed by crippling pain. It is waking from nightmares only to find no comfort in your reality. It is a river of sorrow so deep and so wide that it seems like you can never cross it. It is weeks, months, years of drowning as you try to tread water, sputtering and gasping as you barely keep your head above water. 

Anxiety is... like being trapped in a glass box filling with water knowing no matter hard you punch kick and fight that you could never break free. It's like being trapped in one of those "Saw" movies, every day of your life. It can be terrifying, enraging and heartbreaking. It is a battle to do things that seem so ordinary to other people.

Mental illness comes in many forms, my experience is not the same experience as everyone else. There is still so much we don't know about the intricacies of the human mind. We will never have answers with the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I have fought against the monsters in my mind my entire life. There are entire years of my life that I wasted fantasizing about suicide. I am extremely lucky to have had friends and family who supported me through the roughest patches in my life. Who were there for me through the darkness. I owe my life not only to loved ones who never let go of me, even at my worst, but to musicians and artists who's work reached me at the right moment in time leaving me feeling less alone. 

May those of you who judge without knowing never know the pain of the darkness. I hope you stay blissfully ignorant all the days of your life. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Free Market Examples: Delivery Services

To start, let's define Free Market since I'm not sure I've actually gone into that here.

Free market refers to an economy where the government imposes few or no restrictions and regulations on buyers and sellers. In a free market, participants determine what products are produced, how, when and where they are made, to whom they are offered, and at what price—all based on supply and demand.

In the US, the majority of blockage to a truly free market comes from the government. They forbid producers from polluting, pricing below cost, or being a monopoly. In addition, they often require minimum safety standards, the disclosure of ingredients, licensing of certain professionals, and protection of original ideas, to name just a few. They even control the money supply to minimize the negative effects of natural economic expansion and contraction.

Some of these things may SEEM like a good idea. We all want the market to thrive, but time and time again it has been proven that the market thrives best, when it is left alone. When there is competition, consumers will choose the best available option for their goods and services needs. Factors such as time, distance, ease of use, customer service etc all effect companies well being in a buyer's market. When the government interferes with the market, buyers lose control. Here in the United States, there is a lot of favoritism for government sponsored programs that are supported by taxpayer dollars that would NOT survive in a free market.

The best example I can think of is USPS. Now, I don't know how your local postman treats you where you live, but I've gotten mail at 5 different addresses over the last 3 years. I can say with certainty that amongst the big 3 delivery services: UPS, FedEx, and USPS that USPS by far has the least reliability and the worst customer service. When I ship something with FedEx or UPS, it gets where it's going within the time frame I am quoted or in rare cases where it does not, I get a partial or full refund.

At my last apartment (the last one I'll live in, at least for the next 30 years, thankfully) USPS failed to deliver 6 packages in the short 9 months we lived there. When we called to talk to them, they insinuated that it was OUR fault, for not being home to receive the package and therefore it had to be rerouted. However, none of those packages required a signature. They could have left them at our door.

FedEx and UPS are typically a great deal cheaper than USPS, they have better customer service, a higher overall rating by consumers, a lower failure rate and from my experience, much nicer employees. So why does the USPS still exist? If overwhelmingly, the buyers PREFER other companies that provide the same services one would assume that they would take over the market. So why isn't that happening? Why do USPS employees continue to exist to complain about their employer (rightly so) on the internet?

Because they are supported by the US government. Because even though they have operated at a deficit for YEARS we continue to finance them out of our tax dollars. So, not only is the IRS stealing money out of my paycheck, they are stealing it to support a company that I purposefully DONT shop at due to rude employees and overall incompetence.

Friday, April 21, 2017

An Open Letter to Andrew McMahon

You saved my life. And I'm not just saying that in a figurative sense. I mean it literally. 14 years ago when I was in the darkest place, where the light seems to never reach,
Something Corporate (via my friend Cailin McLoughlin) crawled thru my Walkman and said "you are not alone". I remember it so clearly: as I was drawing a bath, and slitting my wrists, I popped "Leaving Through the Window" into my CD player. The first song that played was "I want to save you" and it was so good, so raw, and the message was so strong, that I had to hear more of your music. So I put the razor down, and I wrapped up my wrists and I sat with my headphones on, and listened to your album. Then I listened to it for weeks and months and years to follow. Konstantine to this day, is my favorite song, my go to when I feel isolated and alone. I listened to "punk rock princess" and I felt like maybe someday I'd meet my garage band king. Your words gave me hope. You shared your soul with me, and it was the first time that I was changed by music.

Since then I've been changed by music hundreds if not thousands of time. The right song always seems to find me when I need it. Music has shaped who I am in endless words, but if it hadn't been for you, I never would have heard the music of Conor Oberst, Chris Carrabba, Adam Lazarra, Jesse Lacey, Alexi Leiho, Francis Mark, Toby Morse, Aaron Gillespie or any of the others who have painted my soul the brilliant colors that make up who I am.

Peyton Sawyer (who yes I realize is a fictional character) once said "You know, I've got this theory: There are two kinds of people in the world. There are lyric people and music people. You know, the lyrics people to tend to be analytical. You know, all about the meaning of the song. They're the ones you see with the CD insert out like five minutes after buying it, poring over the lyrics, interpreting the hell out of everything. Then there's the music people who could care less for the lyrics as long as it's just got, like, a good beat and you could dance to it. I don't know, sometimes it might be easier to be a music girl and not a lyric girl. But since I'm not, let me just say this: Sometimes things find you when you need them to find you. I believe that. And for me it's usually song lyrics."

Well I'm the rare music and song lyrics person. Your lyrics have always touched me, but when the melody of Konstantine came together and I heard the way all the instruments synchronized and I thought, somebody WROTE this. Not Beethoven, or Mozart but someone who walks the earth with ME. So every time I feel alone, like no one could understand my pain, my isolation, I listen to konstantine, and I focus on the piano and I think to myself, someone is stroking those keys with my sorrow, my passion, my hope, my dreams, and I keep breathing.

You have saved me again and again. As a part of SoCo, as Jacks Mannequin and more recently as Andrew McMahon (& into the wilderness). I have followed you thru your dark days and your struggle and I have appreciated every raw emotion you've shared through your music. It has kept me going.

But the reason I'm writing this is because you (and massive shout out to Night Riots and Atlas Genius for also ROCKING) saved me again. More subtly this time because I haven't self harmed in years, and I wasn't drawing a bath with a razor. But I was dying, I just didn't know. I'm not sure if the people around me did either. We don't always realize how much we're struggling, that our light is going out, until it's almost too late. We forget the brilliance that is inside us and we allow ourselves to be silenced by our circumstances.

Life is funny sometimes. As a wife and mother I constantly sacrifice for my family. But months ago when I saw you were coming to town I thought "I have to see Andrew" so I bought tickets, and it was selfish. Because this is my husbands birthday weekend and this probably isn't how he would have chosen to spend it but, I just had to see you.

I came and I saw you as well as Night Riots and Atlas Genius and I FELT "it", something long dead inside of me that only someone screaming their heart out on stage can awaken. The visceral part of me that can empathetically feel what you feel. That knows the struggle and the pain in every word, in every chord.

So thank you, though you may never read this. And thank you to artists like you who put all that you have into every word. Somewhere, somebody is listening and they keep breathing because of you.

After I drafted the majority of this, I dragged myself upstairs (in a very long line) & about had a heart attack when I saw that I had WON, on a five dollar raffle something that will forever be unbelievably priceless to me.

Friday, February 24, 2017

An end to Florida red light cams?

If Florida repeals it's Red Light Camera law it will be a major win for Liberty! As crashes at intersections with Red Light cams rise, lawmakers may repeal the state's red-light camera law entirely. On January 11th  House members sitting on the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee heard an overview of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles report that found crashes at intersections with red-light cameras rose 10 percent in 2015. This could be the first step in repealing a law I consider to be unconstitutional. The report on increased crashes also found pedestrian-involved accidents dropped nearly 20 percent, and state representatives were unsure how to take the overall results.

However, the next time they discuss the law should be whether to repeal it. State Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Hialeah, has proposed repealing the law, and state Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, has filed a similar measure.

The legality of the law itself has been in question for a while now. There have been conflicting rulings in state appeals courts requiring a review by the Florida Supreme Court. A federal class-action suit demanded the return of fines paid by motorists under the potentially illegal law and is on hold pending that review. With all the legal uncertainty, more and more cities are choosing to end their red-light camera programs once and for all.

The number of cameras in use in Florida has already dropped to 688 in 2015, down more than a hundred cameras from the year before. Despite the decrease in cameras, the number of citations has actually risen. Artiles and other critics call this evidence that the cameras are a revenue-generating system, not a public safety issue.

"The purpose of red-light cameras is not about safety. It's about money," Artiles said. "We finally have the proof we need."

Saturday, February 11, 2017

You down with NAP? Yeah, you know me

If you spend any time online amongst Libertarian groups you may see a lot of "TAXATION IS THEFT?" "AM I BEING DETAINED?" and "ABOLISH _______". While all of these things can be/are libertarian principles. They aren't THE basis of what I consider to be all things libertarian. For me libertarianism starts with the Non Aggression Principle, or NAP for short.

The Non Aggression Principle asserts that any act of aggression is inherently illegitimate. Anything that has to be imposed upon people by force is regarded as criminal in nature. This applies to government as well as our personal lives, and can be applied to almost any thing. There are few issues that fall outside the logical repercussions of this singular theory. Most of which, we as libertarians, rarely chime in on.

Aggression in this case refers to any initiation of a coercive relationship. It's easy enough to see how one could follow this theory to insert that taxation is indeed theft, or that many government programs are not legitimate since we, as citizens were not ASKED if we'd like to pay for them. Anything I am forced to participate in at threat of violence is a violation of the NAP.

Libertarians oppose the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals. They reject “first-strike” force, fraud or theft against others; they only use force in self-defense. Those who violate this “non-aggression principle” are expected to make their victims whole as much as possible. This “Good Neighbor Policy” is what most of us were taught as children. We were told not to lie, cheat, steal, not to strike our playmates unless they hit us first. If we broke a friend’s toy, we were expected to replace it.

Most of us still practice what we learned as children with other individuals, but we have grown accustomed to letting government assert aggression against others when we think we benefit. Consequently, our world is full of poverty and strife, instead of the harmony and abundance that freedom (i.e., freedom from aggression) brings.

There are many other ideas and concepts that surround libertarian principle, and it has even been suggested that we move away from the NAP as it is a somewhat limited philosophy, but I for one agree in entirety that it should be the basis of all our principles, and that anything that could be considered a violation of the NAP should not be supported by libertarians. If it can't be supported by this one principle I don't believe it should be a part of our platform. However as libertarians we are allowed to disagree and hold beliefs different than one another.

So what do you think? Should we abandon the NAP and build a more specific platform/philosophy?You

Why Libertarians NEED to Volunteer

In order for the Libertarian party to truly be the "party of principle" we, as libertarians, must practice what we preach. How do we prove we don't need the government to govern our morality? By being moral without their interference. By giving of ourselves, our time, and our money to better our society WITHOUT the threat of violence looming over our heads. So this is my not so subtle reminder to go out and better your world today.

Whatever is voluntary is ethical. The implementation of force (or the threat thereof) to achieve what we consider to be "right" bastardizes the nature of said "good deed". However, the argument many leftists make against a libertarian society is that we are incapable of governing our own moral actions. The best way to dispute this is to be living, breathing examples of voluntary charity.

Here are just a few ways to get involved in Central Florida, so that the next time someone tells you charity would cease to exist without government involvement you can be a living example of why they are wrong:

Junior Achievement of Central Florida

To Write Love on Her Arms

Hands on Orlando

Consider going to your local VA and asking what they need most right now. Check out a local animal shelter and spend time volunteering there. No matter your income, or talents somewhere there is someone who needs you, and you can find a way to help and change the world. Don't let libertarians be targeted as a "selfish" party. Let's stand together and show them who we are: The Party of Principle.

You can also Go Here to get matched with volunteer opportunities in your area.

Libertarian Must Reads

So first I really just need to throw it out there that I've been reading the Thinblade series by David A Wells and if you love fantasy with tons of libertarian philosophy thrown in I highly recommend it, and the first 2 books are free on Kindle so you can't really go wrong there.

Here is a list of a few more standard books I recommend:

The Libertarian Mind by David Boaz

You can also find Libertarianism a Primer by Boaz for free here.

Consider The Law by Frédéric Bastiat.

You can find it free here.

The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism by David Friedman

Find a second addition copy free of charge here.

My road to libertarianism admittedly started with this Dystopian fiction:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Found free online here.

Also try:

America's Great Depression by Murray Rothbard

The Road to Serfdom by Frederich Hayek

I'm sure I'm missing some on my list. What books do you recommend?