July 30, 2008

NFL training camps are open for business... I'm not going to talk about Brett Favre... the 49ers are going to struggle on offense early, but the defense is going to be even better when Manny Lawson gets back up to speed... Patrick Willis is my favorite 49er now (BY being retired)... not a Mike Martz fan but hey, can't be worse than last year... I'm cautiously optimistic about this season.

The baseball trading deadline is tomorrow... Teixeira for Kotchman? If Angels don't sign Teixeira this was not a good deal... Phillies now have too many pitchers (none that I'd stake my life on except Hamels and Moyer) - JA Happ would be nice in the bullpen (he's a lefty) but I think he has a starter's mentality... so for the first time in forever, pitching doesn't seem to be the issue - Phillies might need another bat.

"The Dark Knight" exceeded my highest expectations... viewing #3 is tonight (again on IMAX).

"Dracula" by Bram Stoker (Irishman)... I didn't think in this day of in-your-face gore that passes for horror that this book would still be able to induce shutters and chills... I was wrong.

Heavy metal isn't for everyone, but if it's your style and you want to hear a great live album, highly recommend Slipknot.

Take responsibility.

I HATE humidity... yes, Virginia, there is a difference between dry heat and humid heat. Give me 120 and 10% humidity any day (much prefer 15 degrees F and any level of humidity).

July 24, 2008

Rising office rent rates. Gas prices that show no signs of an appreciable drop. A recent boon in technology capabilities. Evolution of workers’ roles and responsibilities. For these reasons and more it’s no wonder employers are adopting “remote office” environments for employees. Salespeople, customer service reps, data entry agents; these are just some of the positions that are steadily migrating to home-based workers. JetBlue offers an excellent example of how remote workers can be effectively utilized for certain departments (in this instance, customer service).

SMB’s looking to tap into the efficiencies of remote workers face any number of issues, from technology to oversight to pay and benefits. Not being HR experts we’ll just focus on the technologies available to enable your remote workers to access required applications and data.

Voice services: Voice over IP (VOIP) is the simplest solution. With high-speed Internet connectivity any remote user can be part of your voice network (whether you have a hosted VOIP service or a premise-based PBX (that is VOIP capable)). In our experience, cable provides the most consistent stream with minimal impact on the VOIP traffic over the public Internet.

Data & Systems: Here’s where the fun begins. There are options aplenty in this area, and most depend on how your remote users operate. Are they fixed (such as home-based workers) or are they just consistently working out of the office (such as salespeople)? For the sake of brevity and minimal complexity we’ll focus on two distinct options: a virtual private network (VPN) and web-based or hosted applications. (Note: We won’t talk about Citrix here. The cost of the infrastructure and support make Citrix a prohibitive option for many small businesses.)

A virtual private network, or VPN, is essentially a secured tunnel through the Internet to a corporate network. These tunnels are created via software- or hardware-based solutions. These VPN connections provide remote users with access to data and systems. It’s a simple process to connect, though users much have the required applications on their local computers to access your data. Also, so programs don’t function well over VPN; in fact they make it impossible to work remotely. This will require testing to determine if your remote users can access all necessary data.

Web-based or hosted applications provide you with tremendous flexibility when it comes to remote users accessing necessary data and systems. A browser is usually all that’s required on the user side. You hosted the services and data on your own servers or with a provider. Even more than the software-based VPN, these applications are available from virtually any machine with an Internet connection. Plus, since processing is done on the servers and not the users’ machines, there is minimal degradation of performance. You do have to be cognizant of a hosted solution in that the data will not be sitting on your servers; and if you host the solution yourself you must provide for redundancy, backup, and fail over inbound connectivity.

Don’t let the potential complexities of having remote users throw you – these are now standard technologies and are capable of providing everything a user would find in a traditional office environment.

July 16, 2008

1996. Last year the National League won an All-Star Game. Very disappointing that our new $38MM man took the loss but it was an OK game. Volquez should know better than to throw down and in to JD Drew, though he almost go away with it. Still, 34 strikeouts? I know great pitching beats great hitting, but the rest of that saying goes "and vice versa." Hope this is how Uggla performs every time the Phils and Marlins play.

If Brett Myers is so enamored with being a closer then the Phils have to find a trading partner with a good No. 2 starting pitcher and decent middle reliever. If that happens I'd move Chad Durbin back into the rotation at the No. 5 slot. Adam Eaton can't take the hill again for the Phils (at least not as a starter). Then there's Burrell. Pat the Bat has been very good this year (deserved an All-Star spot), which just happens to be his walk year. I'd shop him to an American League team looking for an excellent DH. I'd hate to lose him - he's a good influence off the field - but they're not going to re-sign him and I hate compensation picks.

Well, my big day is fast approaching. "The Dark Knight" opens Friday morning at 12:01a. I have tickets to a 12:30a showing and then 6p on IMAX. If you can't tell, HUGE Batman fan. A good time will be had by all.

Reading a compilation of PJ O'Rourke's writings (no direct relation, unfortunately). Agree or disagree with his points of view, the man knows how to turn a phrase on its head until tears stream down your face and you cramp up from laughing so hard. My only concern - if he unveils truths and absurdities about our government, why do we passively accept them?

Maynard James Keenan... if you know Tool, A Perfect Circle, or Puscifer, then you've been treated to MJK's distinctive vocalizations. You either love these bands or you don't; I fall into the former category, though haven't quite warmed to Puscifer. One of the best live shows I ever saw was the 2004 APC show in NJ. "Tilling my own grave to keep me level" - that lyric gives me chills.

Nine days till the first 49ers practice. Shows how fast 5 1/2 months can fly by.


July 14, 2008

On July 30, 2008, Syzygy 3's CTO (and one of my business partners), Cameron Niles, will be part of a panel discussion on disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) strategies for small- and mid-sized businesses (SMB's). The topic is "Strategies for SMBs: Keeping Costs Down." This panel is part of a virtual tradeshow focusing on DR and BC for SMB's. The tradeshow kicks off at 11am ET; you can participate in Cameron's panel starting at 3pm ET.

Check out the show's site: http://presentations.inxpo.com/Shows/ZiffDavisEnterprise/VTS/07-30-08/Website/program.htm.

July 10, 2008

From what we've seen and experienced with clients, it’s easier to recover from the loss of a key employee than it is the loss of key customer/business data. So securing those data is paramount to maintaining business integrity.

For most of our clients we eschew tape or external hard drive storage options. The point of the data backup is to ensure the data is protected in the event a server or desktop is unavailable, or if the place of business becomes unavailable. On site physical storage options also requires a great deal of human interaction to work (changing tapes, securing the external drive, moving storage off site on a regular basis); data backup should be as automated as possible to minimize potential errors, while also providing easy recovery of data regardless of physical location.

Small- and mid-sized businesses now have the option of employing remote data backup services that mimic the off-site infrastructures deployed by enterprise-level firms. These services have proven invaluable to clients (and us) in enabling data retrieval with just Internet connectivity. We don’t normally push a particular solution, but this is one instance where we do.

There are numerous providers out there – be sure you get one with a fully redundant setup of their own (minimum two (2) data center co-locations), plus a tertiary setup with physical media. You also want support for the service so as to maximize its value and enable troubleshooting issues with a backup. Cost – be sure the more you store the less you pay per GB; beware the special offers or really cheap rates.

July 02, 2008

Time speeds by when you're not paying attention to it.

You have to listen to Mindless Self Indulgence (adults only please). The brevity of The Ramones, with a touch of speed metal and punk, with a good dose of electronica. Unique is overused in music, but these guys qualify.

Hieronymus Bosch (painter and fictional character) are dark individuals, but you are captivated by both. Highly recommend discovering both (painter at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hieronymus_Bosch and fictional detective at http://www.michaelconnelly.com/).

Sixteen days and counting until "The Dark Knight."

What happens to relatively intelligent people when a microphone is put inches from their mouths? The English language is a powerful weapon, but it's a double-edged sword. Think before you speak folks. Don't listen to the producer - a pause is not a bad thing (neither is silence).

Good column today regarding the Phillies current lack of a leader (and a lament Aaron Rowand was let go; disappointing, yes, but I wouldn't have guaranteed him $60MM over 5 years either). A lot of lead-by-example guys but this team needs someone who will bust some egos and complacency.

Mere weeks now until NFL training camps open.

Happy 232nd birthday USA! Here's to many more.