Thursday, March 19, 2015

iOS Hotspot Issue Could Cost You!

We noticed in the last few months extra charges on our cellular bills-- more than $200!-- for excessive data usage. In looking into the cause, we found that it was because we had apparently overused our data plan by leaving our iPhone Personal Hotspots on. Or so we thought.

The first time it happened we paid the bill and said, "Shame on us. Everybody remember to turn your Personal Hotspot off when it's not needed." Then it happened again. To me! And I've been very intentional about only turning that feature on when I need it, and turning it off when I don't.

Here's what I've learned: if you have devices that have the same AppleID as your iPhone, they can turn the Personal Hotspot on without you even knowing it! This is true for iPads, Macs, and more!

Imagine the scenario:
You're walking through a park where there's no public WiFi. Your iPhone is in your pocket, and you're carrying your WiFi-only iPad. Because the iPad can't find a WiFi to connect to, it automatically tries to connect to your iPhone, turning on the Personal Hotspot without you even knowing it! And it does not turn off the hotspot when it's done. And that's where the potential data overuse fees can kick in.
Talking with Apple engineering, these are currently the only ways to prevent that from happening; do one of the following:
  1. Turn off Bluetooth on your devices (other than the iPhone) and WiFi on your Macs, or
  2. Sign out of iCloud on your devices and Macs, or
  3. Have your devices and Macs forget the network password for your iPhone hotspot.
The problems with those are, respectively:
  1.  If you use Bluetooth on your devices (like your iPad), you will need to manually turn it on to do so and then must remember to turn it off when done. But what if you forget to turn off your iPad's Bluetooth?
  2. If your devices get lost or stolen you won't be able to use 'Find My Device'.
  3. If you use a strong password for your hotspot, remembering and entering the password is cumbersome at best.
What Apple agreed was that the best solution would be to add a control to iPhone iOS where the default setting would be to not allow other devices to automatically turn on the hotspot, but allow the user to change that if desired. If the user changes that setting, the liability for cost would be on the consumer.

What started out as a great idea by Apple needs just a little tweaking-- hopefully soon-- to make it truly good. If I were an attorney and discovered this issue, I would be seeing dollar signs and think class action lawsuit, which only the attorneys really benefit from.

Monday, March 16, 2015

New Article on Improving IT Support

True confession: My greatest IT challenge is not keeping up with technology! It's not budgeting the next upgrade! It is keeping my tone as warm and human as possible. And I think I may have a lot of company, so I wrote an article about it! Here's the link:

I hope you find it helpful!

New Article RE: Mandated Credit Card Terminal Updates

On October 14, 2014 President Obama signed an executive order "encouraging" faster adoption of the EMV standard for credit and debit cards in the U.S. It requires updating transaction terminals, and has some potentially stiff fines for non-compliance!

Here's a link to a brief article I write about it:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

MBS Datacenter Maintenance Window Announcement (1/16/2015)

In the tradition of Tim Allen's Home Improvement character, we need to add more power to our rack! To date we have been on a 20amp circuit, and are changing over to a 30amp circuit. The circuit's been installed for us, so it's just a matter of putting new power distribution units (PDUs) in our rack and moving all of the equipment's plugs to them.

We decided to do this 'live' to test our power redundancy strategy. Because we have designed full redundancy into our rack's power (two circuits with all devices being plugged into both), we anticipate zero downtime for our clients. But we thought we should let 'em know-- just in case!

We plan to begin the cutover at about 3pm Pacific time (6pm Eastern, etc) on Friday, January 16th.

We chose Friday hoping that it would minimize the possible impact on the more than 100 servers we host and those who depend on them. If you are one of our hosted clients, please let your user community know of the planned maintenance window so they can anticipate it. And we welcome your prayers!

Thank you again for the privilege we have of serving you and your team! We are very thankful to be partners with you in ministry.

New Article: All Data Is Vulnerable

I just released a new article for publication addressing how vulnerable our data is, and some simple steps to improve that. Here's the opening paragraph:
Sony. The US government. The news is often filled with 'the latest' cyberattack. It seems like all of our data is vulnerable. What should we do about it? What can we do about it?

I put a copy of the article on our website, and you can read it for free; just click here!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Article: Protection from Ransomware

There’s a lot of talk going around about the newest type of malware called ransomware. I just released an article for publication that addresses how to make certain you are protected from this potentially costly nuisance, and you can see a copy of it on our website here:

I hope you find it helpful!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

2015 Standard Mileage Rates Announced by IRS

Today the IRS announced the 2015 Standard Mileage Rates for 2015. They are:
  • Business Miles:  $ .575  (up from $ .56 in 2014)
  • Medical & Moving Miles:  $ .23 (down a half-cent from 2014)
  • Charitable Miles:  $ .14 (unchanged)