Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Local Admin, or Not?

While at the Church IT Roundtable today we got into a spirited discussion on whether or not users should be local administrators when they login. I'm a strong proponent for letting them be, as long as the network has desktop and notebook images (via Ghost or some similar program) to overcome problems that could arise.

A question was asked by one of the church IT directors: Why do we feel so strongly like we need to lock systems down?

Here's my response:
  • While not wanting to knock Microsoft, we do need to recognize that their operating systems (Windows) have a lot of security holes. They know about many of them, and there are apparently many they don't know about.
  • Microsoft has taught us to engineer our networks to make up for those holes. By teaching us to not give users administrative security rights, Microsoft is teaching us to restrict our users to make up for their limitations.
  • Using programs like Ghost to image systems eliminates the issues that a user with local admin rights might experience because they allow you to re-write the local hard drive in a matter of minutes.
The reasons I prefer to give users admin privileges are:
  • It empowers users to do what they need to when IT is not available to help,
  • It allows updates to be installed as needed without IT help, and thus
  • It reduces the workload of the IT team.
I see it as a win-win. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Automating Online Forms

A colleague wrote me asking what the best solution is for automating the myriad of fillable forms there are on websites. I have wrestled with this too, and have come up with the solution that works most consistently for me, but am always looking for new ideas that work!

My Solution
The best system I've come up with so far is a twofold approach:
  1. I use eWallet to keep a secure copy of all my credit cards, etc on my PDA and notebook so I can access and copy anything I need easily.
  2. In addition, I use Firefox as my browser, and it does a pretty good job of maintaining fillable form information for fields that are similarly named (IE has never performed well for me in this area).
Though not a perfect solution, it works. What are you using that works?

Monday, September 24, 2007

So, What Would Jesus Do?

While working on a desktop computer today Microsoft confronted me with the error message at the left. Being a believer, feeling challenged beyond my understanding, and wanting to honor Christ in all areas of my life, I asked myself, "What would Jesus do?"

Well, choosing yes or no produced the same results... the question would re-appear after about five minutes. Time to re-image this system!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Vendor or Team Member?

I often talk with hardware and software providers on behalf of The Church. Along with Chris Booth at CCB, we have been a force in helping them understand the importance of The Church as a niche and motivate them to reach it.

The Three Sides of My Role
I find myself presenting three facets of my drive and motivation when talking with hardware and software providers:
  1. I'm fortunate to be a widely published author with some influence in the marketplace.
  2. I'm a vendor representing a large number of churches and ministries.
  3. Functionally, I act as the CIO (Chief Information Officer) for many churches and ministries.
It's the last one that's hardest for them to understand, but it's what really drives me in my decision-making process. Since our firm has, from its beginning, chosen not to make any money on hardware and software recommendations, even as a vendor I really act more as a CIO than anything else.

Like any CIO, I'm interested in best practices and strategies for my organization. My organization happens to be more theoretical in that the decisions I make impact many churches and ministries. I'm good with that, and consider it a sacred trust. More than that, I see it as part of my calling to serve The Church as God called me to many years ago.

Maybe that's what has helped to set apart our firm, MBS, from so many others. We never try to sell ourselves when speaking at a conference or writing an article. Instead, we share knowledge to help others make wise decisions. We're about serving; plain and simple. Doing anything less would be in defiance of God's call on our lives.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tempting Internet Content

Hardly a week goes buy where I don't hear of someone in ministry who has resigned or been let go because of porn addiction. This is a serious problem, and it's not personal! We simply have a very smart enemy who knows what we respond to, and who knows that many will respond to the lure of online porn.

We Need To Do Something!
Maybe my faith is weak, but I believe this is not an area we can clean up. What we need to do is to protect ourselves and those with whom we work.

I just released an article detailing many of the ways we need to protect our computer systems and team members. This is one of the areas I spotlighted in that article.

Can We Talk?
Let's face it. We see this problem with both male and female computer users. We can filter web content, but the smart folks can figure ways around our filters. The best solution our firm has found is Covenant Eyes-- an accountability solution that works very well. It doesn't slow Internet use or access, it simply records every website a user visits, scores them, and lists them on reports sent to the user's accountability partners. There's no way around it, and uninstalling it sends an email to the accountability partners too!

Covenant Eyes took their name from Job 31:1 in which Job says, "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl." They are all about helping us in this area. And if you ask, they'll tell you about their special pricing for ministry teams.

I Implore You!
Please check this out and make it a part of your system policy. It will save lives! Really!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Great Perspective!

Today I had a doctor's appointment at our region's Veteran's Hospital. Nothing to worry about... just a follow-up on something that is a service-connected disability (it's been around for a LONG time). Whenever I go there, I always wonder if God is going to speak a word of encouragement to someone through me. But today was different!

While leaving there today, a guy in a wheelchair was rolling himself in my direction. I said, "How's it going?" His reply was stunning in that usually depressing place. He said, "Man, I am good. In fact, I'm blessed!"

Attitude Makes Such a Difference
The unit he was entering is the one where people go for treatment who will be in wheelchairs the rest of their life. Usually they have blank stares or a hardness they've adopted as a coping mechanism. But this guy was different! He was shining a light that was burning bright!

As I walked out to my car, I couldn't help thinking about how easy it is to feel the "burden of the day"-- but I was walking! Today I was surprised. Instead of God working through me by speaking a word of encouragement, he encouraged me through this fellow who I may never see again. But I was definitely ministered to.