Gary D's Take

Your Internet Will Go Down!

Your Internet Will Go Down!

Feb 16, 2020

No matter who your primary provider is. No matter what product you have. At some point your internet is going to quit on you. For small businesses this used to be a risk worth taking when balanced against the cost of a secondary provider. That has changed….. VOIP telephone systems in the cloud, cloud based Point of Sale, credit cards over the internet and just the nature of our cloud based business models has made the internet a critical part of even the smallest small business. Two things that I ran across in my travels convinced me that even small businesses have a mission-critical need for internet access.

In little Samson Alabama population about 2000 (on a good day), the owner of the Piggly Wiggly has two internet services in his store. Why you ask? Because if he loses internet he can’t take credit cards which is 60% of his receipts. In the era of chip cards, there is no run the paper slip anymore. He can’t take EBT cards (which is 35 to 40 % of his receipts) and he really can’t take checks since he verifies them with an online service. He could take one but if its not good, he’s on his own. It’s actually really hard to take cash since his Point of Sale system lives in the cloud. He realized that if his internet was out he was done! Since at that time his was about the only grocery store in the area, his daily receipts were from 9000 to 15,000 dollars per day (albeit on razor thin grocery store margins). A day or two of that and he would be out of business, especially if it happened on his biggest day Saturday. This business owner is one of the smartest guys I have ever met. The extra monthly cost paled in comparison to what he would lose.

I have visited scores of small boutiques and retail stores over the years. Starting about 4 years ago, I noticed they all had some kind of an online, cloud based cash register. Once again, no internet……no cash register and no credit cards. Even Mom and Pop restaurants have gone cloud based. One particular customer of mine in Tuscaloosa only had to have his internet go out at high noon with 10 people waiting to pay for their lunch to get him on the band wagon. Of the ten,eight people said they would come back and pay when his internet was back on. I think he is still waiting on 4 or 5 of them to return. His average check is about 10 dollars so 40 or 50 dollars walked out never to return. That would just about pay for a redundant provider.

If you haven’t already, take a minute to estimate what no internet for a day or even half a day would COST you. When you do you will quickly see that the idea of a backup internet isn’t as crazy as it used to be. Then call me…I have some ideas for you.

Six simple steps to get control of your email address!

Six simple steps to get control of your email address!

Jun 18, 2016

What if you woke up tomorrow and your email address was suddenly yourname@bs.com?

If you use an email address that is controlled by your carrier it could happen. The operative word here being CONTROLLED. Entrepreneurs and self-employed people are well known for wanting to be the masters of their own destiny and the captain of their ship. There are tons of books and articles about how these kind of people struggle with being good managers because they have a hard time delegating because they can’t relinquish control. Yet every day, I see hundreds of these people putting one of the most critical communications and marketing tools of their business in the hands of a big corporation when their email address is something@yourcarrier.com. Why would you want to promote the telecommunications company you happen to be using every time you send or receive an email?

Three Reasons To Make This Change?

  1. Email may be the most important business communications tool of the 21st Century.

How many emails do you send or receive every day? How many important documents do you receive or send each and every business day? How many new customers do you start to interact with VIA EMAIL? How important are those emails going back and forth between you and your customer base to keeping them happy AND KEEPING THEM AS CUSTOMERS? COME ON PEOPLE, THIS IS A BIG DEAL! Why in heaven’s name would you want to entrust that to a company that it takes you 45 minutes to get on the phone?

  1. Sometimes YOU need to make a change!

    Nothing in our modern society stays the same for very long. Change is the only constant. All kinds of companies are merging and changing their focus. After being one of the first companies in the world in the PC business IBM decided that they needed to be OUT OF the PC business. IBM started the PC business and helped change the way we do everything but now THEY DON’T WANT TO DO IT ANYMORE! The email at bs.com is an example I used to use during the old Bellsouth days. Lots of folks had bellsouth.net email addresses, heck I had one. What if they had decided to shorten it? Shorter is better, right? Hence bs.com. The point is, companies you deal with sometimes do things that are not necessarily in your best interest. When this happens, you may have to look elsewhere for that product or service. If your email is @yourcarrier.com IT BELONGS TO THEM! The Number Portability Act federally mandated that you be able to take your telephone numbers with you to whatever carrier you chose, EMAIL ADDRESSES ARE NOT COVERED! The carrier OWNS that dot whatever domain and owns YOUR EMAIL. If you need to change carriers, you can’t take that with you. Even if you are not planning on going anywhere, why not go ahead and get this taken care of for all the reasons I have already mentioned above.

  1. You probably already have it.

Just about every company and organization today has a presence on the internet. You probably have some kind of a website at a descriptive domain name. yourcompany.com or ifixyourfaucetts.net or something else that helps promote what you do. Almost every web hosting company on the planet INCLUDES email at your domain in their packages at no extra cost. You probably have this and you are not using it. You are wasting money that you have already spent.

Hopefully you are on board with this idea now and are ready to make it happen. 🙂

Here are the 6 simple steps to changing your email:

  1. Get your new email up and running

Contact your hosting provider and get your new email set up. One of the benefits of email at your domain is you get to get rid of all the crazy extra stuff that you have to add because you aren’t the only John Smith on the system. Instead of being johnsmith154mz8911@whatever.com now you can be johnsmith@ifixyourfaucett.net or just john!

  1. START USING IT NOW!

Forward your old email to your new one so that when you respond to email, they get your new email address. Change your printed materials and all your other advertising to reflect your new email address. Remember the old one is forwarded so you still get those.

  1. Set up an autoresponder on your old email.

Auto responder is something every email has. It just basically sends an email to everyone that sends you an email an important message like “I will be on vacation all week.” Or “We got your message and will respond to it promptly” Just set this up on your old email to tell people that your address is changing.

  1. Send an email to everyone you normally market to via email and let them know you are changing.

If you don’t have a list of emails that you regularly send information to you should. Most folks do. Send those people a message that your emails are changing. BTW send it from the NEW one and the old one.

  1. Talk about the change.

Put it in your newsletter Post it on social media. TALK to your customers about it during your normal conversations with them. “Oh by the way Mr. Customer, we are changing our email addresses to whatever@yourcompany.com . “How hard is that?

  1. Put up a sign in your office that notifies people about your new email address.

If you have foot traffic to your business put up a sign in the lobby or on the door or at the checkout counter or all the above.

If you follow these simple steps you will be surprised at how easy the change will be.

Great Article from Reuters-Apple: The slaying of a tech hero

Great Article from Reuters-Apple: The slaying of a tech hero

Dec 23, 2015

from http://blogs.reuters.com/edgy-optimist/2013/01/25/apple-the-slaying-of-a-tech-hero/

By Zachary Karabell

January 25, 2013

Apple’s quarterly results this week drew a flood of reactions – almost all negative. Given how well the company did under almost any absolute measure, this is odd, though, for Wall Street, not necessarily surprising.

But the arc of Apple’s rise and temporary fall tells a more troubling story about our current inability to maintain positive momentum about any aspect of our culture. We slay our heroes with casual abandon. Then we wring our hands about the absence of positive catalysts in our world today.

Apple’s stock, already in relative free fall from an all-time high of more than $700 a share, plunged nearly 12 percent on the news. The company has now lost 35 percent of its value in four months – which represents an astonishing $235 billion. This decline alone is larger than all but three companies in the S&P 500, and larger than the gross domestic product of more than 140 countries.

That equity collapse was echoed by deeply pessimistic analysis of the company in the financial and tech media. Jim Cramer of CNBC railed against the post-Steve Jobs management under chief executive officer Tim Cook for failing to communicate a compelling vision. Others were less kind, dismissing the company as having no pipeline, no vision and little growth. “I think this is a broken company,” said noted investor Jeffrey Gundlach.

Apple matters on multiple levels: it is still (barely) the world’s largest company by market cap; it has been cited as a beacon of American innovation, led by a rare visionary, Steve Jobs, who resurrected the company he’d founded in the decade before his death; its products have been more than just hardware devices – consumers view them as a talisman, defining identities and allowing people to manifest their personal and professional lives as they chose. In the past few years, its stock price has been a proxy for that enthusiasm.

So what happened? What’s most stunning about Apple’s stunning and sudden fall is that it is unfolding in the context of still stunning actual results. Not only has the company not ceased growing, it is expanding at an astonishing clip. Its revenue in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $54.5 billion compared to $46.33 billion a year ago – which is a rise of 18 percent. Eighteen percent in a world economy that is barely growing 3 percent. It sold 47 million iPhones in the quarter compared to 37 million a year ago, and 23 million iPads compared to 15 million a year ago.

Yes, Apple earnings were flat, and stock market mavens point ominously to declining margins and shrinking earnings as telltale signs of trouble. But that isn’t a sign of shrinking market share – which has been nearly fatal for former leaders such as Blackberry and Nokia. No, Apple increased its global share of smartphone sales in a market that is hardly robust – as Samsung, Apple’s main competitor revealed as well. And issues of tight margins and spending more money to produce and market the same products are hardly Apple-specific and often given a pass by investors for companies such as Amazon or LinkedIn.

Still, Apple is not just another story of the bizarre way that Wall Street can value a company. It is that, but it’s more as well. It seems like only yesterday that Apple was being hailed as the great company of our age, with its dying founder lionized in a best-selling biography as a genius not just of our time but of any time. It seems like only yesterday because it basically was only yesterday.

And before its recent image travails, Apple’s sharp ascent was equally stunning – written off as dead by the late 1990s, it emerged as the tech innovator par excellence by the mid-2000s, invested with every virtue. Now, it is regarded as a has-been, hocking commoditized phones that any Chinese manufacturer can produce and tablets that every company in the world seems to be making, led by a CEO whose expertise is rationalizing the supply-chain. Hardly the stuff of dreams.

It’s fair to say that Apple was never as transformative a social and technological force as myth would have it. And the slaying of heroes is hardly unique to our era. But the speed of lionizing and then annihilating is enough to take your breath away. It’s the cultural equivalent of creative destruction. But unlike the economic version, it’s hard to see where the creative element creeps in.

It is true that Apple functions in a ruthlessly competitive industry that is both fickle and short-term. Phones and tablets are ever-more essential but command about the same consumer loyalty as fashion: Cool one day, tired the next – even if you are a juggernaut like Apple.

Perhaps the market and the media are simply accelerating an inevitable process. You only get to be on top for a while, before the buzz and the business move elsewhere. In that sense, Apple is just an oversized corporate ingénue, with its brief moment fading and someone else soon to take its place, before the cycle begins again.

But the cultural message embedded in tearing Apple down is more pernicious than doing the same to a fading starlet. Beneath the furor, Apple continues to do its business exceedingly well and continues to give people what they need and want. For now, it is largely media and Wall Street that are writing Apple’s obituary – not customers.

The message may prove to be correct, or it may not, but the complete lack of perspective about how hard it is to create something of worth compared to how easy it is to tear something down does not send a constructive signal or engender the better angels of our nature.

Apple was always likely to decline from its heights. But not because it failed, simply because others succeeded. In the story of Apple, and how we tell it, we have a metaphor for the story of the United States in recent years: a tendency to see the end, and then hasten it. Apple’s success was an example of what the United States can do brilliantly. The recent reaction to it shows that we can also excel at self-immolation.

Better to nurture the former instincts. The other will lead nowhere, and fast.

PHOTO: A customer is helped by an Apple employee while looking over the iPad mini after the device went on sale at Apple’s retail store in Palo Alto, California November 2, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Prejudice…..against low bandwidth

Prejudice…..against low bandwidth

Dec 4, 2012

I like to share my personal technology journeys with you. My latest is the switch from wired to wireless internet at my home. I have now gone from beta testing to full blown usage. It kind of sucks.  For most things its adequate but some things you just can’t do. Some web sites that rely heavily on Web 2.0 technology, just won’t load or run right. Back in the covered wagon days of web development (when I first started) we used to test sites on dial up. We even offered sites for people who had low bandwidth connections that cut out a  lot of the frills. Obviously nobody does this anymore.

The problem for me is two fold. 1. I live out in the sticks and my options are limited. 2. My current carrier’s nearest tower is about 5 miles away and that’s too far for a decent data connection. The light at the end of the tunnel may be Verizon. After some research , I found that the tower I can see from my kitchen window (about 1.8 miles) has Verizon on it. According to their website, I am in their 4G coverage area. I have ordered a data stick from them that should be here this week. More to come.

Another interesting tidbit that came to me today is Republic Wireless. Republic is a HYBRID carrier. Hybrid means that they use a device that runs on a 3G network (Sprint) EXCEPT when Wi-Fi is available, then it switches. Republic’s unlimited plan is $19 a month! Unfortunately they have one of those Web 2.0 sites that I mentioned earlier so I have not been able to complete my research. Stay tuned for more information.

IPhone 5–what does it mean?

IPhone 5–what does it mean?

Sep 5, 2012

The much predicted , highly anticipated and over “punditized” September 12 media event by Apple is predicted to be the rollout event for the new IPhone 5. According to The Wall Street Journal’s article Click Here For Full Article 

“The new device is likely to be dubbed the iPhone 5, which will have a slightly larger screen.”

Other than the obvious publicity and the expected “bump” for Apple’s stock , why is this a big deal? Apple has always been a revolutionary leader in the smartphone industry, blazing trails and setting the bar for everyone else. Suddenly they appear to be playing catch up. The “slightly larger screen”  has to be a reaction to the bigger screens found on phones made by HTC and Samsung. The current trend towards larger screens and more tablet-like functionality in Android smartphones seems to have gotten Apple’s attention. The expected rollout of a smaller 7 inch version of the I Pad goes right along with this theory. This is the first time that we have seen Apple react this strongly to ANYTHING other manufacturers have done.

It’s hard to always be at the front of the pack and always be the innovator. Is being a reactionary instead of an innovator a symptom of being without the leadership of Steve Jobs? Clearly Apple may be suffering from the lack of Job’s crystal clear vision of the path they need to follow. So Apple, maybe you need to ask yourself , “What would Steve do?”

SOMEBODY-SOMEWHERE……

SOMEBODY-SOMEWHERE……

Aug 26, 2012

James Gregory, the famous southern comedian (and a personal favorite of mine) has a bit he does about labeling on packaging. Along with the part where he talks about how some  laxative labels say “Works while you sleep” and him saying, “I don’t want that!” (Me neither!) , he mentions the part of the labeling that says “ Warning! This is a medicine and is to be taken for medicinal purposes only. This product is not food or candy.” Gregory’s explanation for that is they put that on there because “SOMEBODY- SOMEWHERE” ate it like candy and were not pleased with the results.That hapless person then sued the laxative company and thus was born that part of the labeling. This leads into a whole segment about crazy warnings on products that are there because “SOMEBODY-SOMEWHERE” did that.

Adopting that mind set…when I got ANOTHER email from the “lawyer” in Nigeria who is representing the estate of that long lost relative who has been living in Nigeria and recently passed away leaving me a ton of money. I thought, “why do they keep sending these?” The answer , ala James Gregory, is “SOMEBODY—SOMEWHERE” has fallen for that scam and sent them five thousand dollars via Western Union to cover the “costs” of getting all that money from the non-existent dead relative they never heard of.

My family has always been very active in rescuing animals , particularly dogs. My wife was approached one time , via email, by a “missionary” family on a mission trip to Kenya that was looking for a “home” for their Papillion that “couldn’t stay in Kenya with them”. All the “missionaries” wanted was twelve hundred dollars to cover the air freight for the dog…in advance via Western Union. Then all we had to do was pick up the dog  at the airport. When we offered to pay the airline directly…our pseudo missionaries immediately lost interest. Once again I thought “Why do they do this ?”…the answer…”SOMEBODY-SOMEWHERE…”!

Interestingly enough, an article on spam and phishing by Owen Linderholm entitled “Keep Organized Crime out of Your Network” on http://www.itsecurity.com/features/mafia-2-protect-yourself-it-security-060707/says that “yes, the Mafia is getting involved.” WHY? Back to James Gregory…SOMEBODY-SOMEWHERE!

Spam has become a BILLION (with a capital B) dollar per year industry and the reason why is very simple, SOMEBODY-SOMEWHERE falls for this stuff….everyday….three hundred sixty five days a year! As P.T. Barnum said , “There is a sucker born every minute.”

I am sure you are saying to yourself , “I would never do something that stupid!” Granted if you are reading this you are probably in the top ten percent of savvy technology users..so what has this got to do with you? Simple , although YOU would never be sucked in to a scam , who do you know that is less techno-savvy who might? The answer to that is probably more than one person. So how can you help? Obviously when our less savvy brethren call us and say “Hey I got this email from……..” We always advise them to delete it and warn about the dangers….that’s a given. As we all well know, most of the time, they call us AFTER they click on that suspicious link or open that bot laden attachment. So what do we do? Do what I am doing now, write about ittalk about itkeep sounding the alarm….ALL THE TIME!

A famous member of the governmental war on drugs once said , “It’s not really the SALE of illegal drugs that is the real problem…it’s the BUYING of them that really cause the problems. If no one bought them, the problem would go away overnight.” If that SOMEBODY-SOMEWHERE that falls for the phishing stopped falling for it….. If sales of fake Viagra didn’t rise after a spam campaign…. if sales of bogus stocks DIDN’T go sky high when the spammers sent out those “stock tips”….. THEY WOULD STOP!

I remember a quote I read by a famous con-man who had gone straight and was working for the law. “ You can’t con a truly honest person. All cons have an element that appeals to the larceny in someone’s heart. If you truly believe that you can’t get something for nothing and are not willing to compromise your principals , NO ONE can successfully con you.”

So , my brothers and sisters in technology, keep preaching the gospel about spam and phishing. Do not shirk your task or waiver from your purpose! The soul you save from spam will be one less SOMEBODY-SOMEWHERE!