Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Die Hards are Christmas Movies!

The first three movies in Bruce Willis' Die Hard series take place at Christmas, just like the Home Alone series. People feel comfy identifying the Home Alone series as Christmas movies, but not the Die Hard series! Why? What's wrong with Christmas movies guys love to watch!

MBS Has Job Openings!

We're expanding our team as we grow in our ministry opportunities, and so we have some part-time job openings! Do you know anyone in Southern California that would be a good candidate? Click here to see our current openings!

Please help us! Our growing client base needs us to add to our team!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gift Recommendation for Your Mac Users

I've been using Apple's Magic Mouse for less than a week and already love it!

I've tried many bluetooh mice over the years, and this is the first I'm willing to trade my wired mouse for! It tracks smoothly and works terrifically!  It's surface is like a notebook touchpad that can read gestures; very nice for scrolling and zooming.

You can get one from the Apple Store for about $69 by clicking here!

Visio Helps Make Sweet IT Documentation!

While working on a project earlier this month we developed this one-page Visio diagram that tells almost everything someone would need to quickly know to get a sense of how the network works!

New Article About IT Policies

Computer technology’s effect on our lives has grown so big and so fast! To keep folks from getting hurt by technology, our government is busy adding laws and regulations, and we need some policies to ensure we’re in compliance. We also need policies to help us get the most reliability and service from our systems!

Click here for a free download of my article on IT Policies in PDF format!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

IRS Announces 2010 Standard Mileage Rates for 2010

Today the IRS announced the 2010 optional standard mileage rates in bulletin ir-2009-111.

They are:
  • Business Mileage: $ .50
  • Medical & Moving Mileage: $ .165
  • Charitable Mileage: $ .14
The IRS sets business, medical, and moving mileage reimbursement rates; the charitable mileage reimbursement rate is set by Congress who has not acted to increase the rate for years.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

MBS' Major Network Revamp

The Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving we began a 2.5 day project to completely revamp our network. Though our staff is small, we serve and provide services to church and ministry clients nationwide, so our network needs are much larger than they might be for a company our size.

Here's what we did:
  • After shuffling our data off our Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers (one was an ESXi host) we erased their drives and installed VMware vSphere (ESX 4 Enterprise) on both, naming them vh1 and vh2 (virtual hosts 1 and 2).
  • We created two RAID5 datastores on vh1, and one on vh2, then created our servers that run as guests on the hosts: 2 domain controllers, 2 terminal servers, a mail server (we upgraded to Exchange 2010), an SQL server, a secure IM server runing OpenFire, a print server, an endpoint security server running Sophos, a WSUS server, and an ftp server our clients use to send us backups of their databases nightly.
  • We still have three hardware servers (Asterisk VoIP, database which will be converted to our new SQL server, and backup), but will soon have two of those (Asterisk and database) virtualized.
  • We started with seven servers on five boxes, and now have fourteen servers soon to be running on just three boxes!
  • Our servers are all Windows 2008r2 and 2003r2 (due to license counts). Of our two terminal servers: one is 2003r2 and one is 2008r2.
  • We upgraded our electrical protection to an APC unit with a network card so we can properly shut down our virtual servers. We have more than an hour of blackout runtime, and we have a generator that can easily power the network for an expended outage.
  • Our network also has two Internet connections to entirely different backbones (Verizon FiOS and TimeWarner Cable) to ensure our hosting of SPAM Firewall services remains up at all times.
The best part was that we accomplished all that with less than two hours of downtime to the team, and less than ten minutes of downtime on the SPAM Filtering service! The month before we upgraded all of our desktops and notebooks to Windows 7 Pro and my Mac to Snow Leopard, so it's been a fun couple of months around here!

Cute Resume & Cover Letter!

In these more challenging economic times and high unemployment rates, we all get some interesting resumes! We have an open position for a part-time assistant bookkeeper, and received a cute email and resume yesterday. Reading through the resume I didn't see any bookkeeping experience, so I went back to the cover letter email and enjoyed the cute innocence of what she said.
Hello, my name is Rosie [changed name] and I would like to apply for the Assistant Book Keeper Position. I've always wanted to work in a book store because I think it is a great place for me to work for a few reasons. I love to read and usually spend my free time reading, and since I would be working in a bookstore it would be a quieter environment and I'd actually be able to hear while I'm working. Also I would love to be in a position where I am helping/serving God in a way that I can.
Rosie's cute, and I loved her spirit! You can be sure I sent her a very kind email.

Monday, November 16, 2009

New Article: Five Things To Do This Month

I’m asked to write a ‘five things to do this month’ annually for The Clergy Journal. Click here to download a free PDF copy of the quick sidebar article... I hope you find it helpful!

Friday, November 13, 2009

New Article: Annual Church & Donor Management Software List & Feature Chart

I get the privilege of publishing an annual article listing those leading the field of church and donor management software and their product's features. We found 62 software companies focusing on the church and ministry management market this year, but only 34 qualified to be included in the article (remember, these are supposed to be market leaders, so we qualify them three ways: actively marketing, minimum growth, and an update released in the last two years).

You can get a free advance copy in PDF format by clicking here!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

IT Proves King Solomon Was Right!

"Cloud computing" is the latest concept to capture Information Technology (IT)’s minds and imagination. Many are embracing it even though it is still in development; others are looking at it cautiously and with concern. Over the next few years we will all be basing our IT strategies on cloud computing. But what is it, and what does it have to do with Israel's third king who lived nearly 3000 years ago?

Click here to download a PDF of the article!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac

I've written a number of posts about Office 2008, and thought it could be helpful to list them for easy reference. Here are their links (I suggest right-clicking and opening them in separate tabs or windows):
Happy reading!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Amazing 1-1/4 Minute Video Worth Watching

We know that the media is distorting our perspectives in a lot of areas. This short video is a must see!

Click here to watch it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Article About Twitter-- Should Your Church Use It?

I just released a new article for publication on whether churches should be on Twitter. Click here for a free PDF download!

Gmail Hacked!

This morning I got an email from a church administrator forum I monitor. The email said it was from a church administrator that is traveling in England who got robbed at gun point and needs some money to satisfy his hotel bill and get home.

It was SPAM.

An email just came from the church administrator saying his Gmail account had been hacked by someone in Nigeria and the phishing SPAM was sent to everyone in his contact list.

I did a little research and found there are many articles and tools available to help people hack into Gmail accounts. My guess is that the same exist for Yahoo, AOL, and others. A word to the wise: be cautious about using online or hosted email systems! Check their website to see what you can do to protect your account with high-quality passwords and security.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Entourage EWS Attachment Limits

We've been wrestling through an Entourage attachment-size issue that's been maddening. Today we finally got to work with Microsoft's Product Support Services technical lead. He and his colleague were helpful, and we got through it, but it took more than an hour! It was about as straight-forward as San Francisco's Lombard Street, but here's what we learned:
  • Entourage file attachment limitations are managed by the Exchange 2007 server in the EWS folder.
  • There's no easy-to-use checkbox to say someone has no limitation on attachment file size.
  • Assuming that when you don't impose an attachment size limitation on a user-- presumably because you don't want there to be a limitation on their attachment sizes-- is enough won't work. Exchange applies its default limitation of 5mb!
  • When setting a higher limit to allow someone to send attachments larger than 5mb, don't base the new limit on the actual size of the attachment files. Mime will expand attachments about 1/3 larger than their original file size. But don't base the new limit on that size either, because Exchange expands the attachments even larger! Set the limit to about double the original attachments' file size.
Many Mac users work on media files. While email isn't the best way to send large files, some will want to quickly send large (25-50mb) attachments. Microsoft will be wise to simplify this process.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SmartPhone Bondage

A friend recently posted on his Facebook that his iPhone being broken that day was, "probably the single most liberating experience [he's] had in the last 5 years. Serious!"

That's not an uncommon comment! The reason, I think, is because we allow those SmartPhones to keep us over-connected, resulting in less time to focus on those around us or ourselves! It's a real problem! Those little devices that are supposed to make our lives better and more productive are sometimes more like a virtual leash! When I posted that as a comment on his Facebook, he responded, "They are more a bondage than freedom." He's right.

Who's In Charge?
My approach to technology has always been a little different than most. Just because technology can do something doesn't necessarily mean I want it to. So I rarely use every "feature", choosing instead to manage technology.

If we don't manage technology, it will manage us.

For Example
I don't turn on email synchronization on my SmartPhone. I can hear some reading this gasping for air at that thought, but it's true! So I am less interrupted and better able to focus on those who I'm with or on personal time.

I can still get to my email via the browser if I want to (me being in charge of the technology), but rarely do. If it's that important, I'll get a call soon enough.

Also, I don't run a Twitter client on my SmartPhone. (Those previously gasping for air may want to dial 911 for help). I only have Twitter notify me of direct messages. The rest I'll see when I check my Twitter 2-4 times daily... usually enough to keep current with my relationships there while still allowing me to have a life.

So let me encourage you to manage your use of technology in a different way too! If you're not sure whether this is a need, ask those closest to you how they feel when you're reaching for your SmartPhone to read email or Twitter. Relationships are important, and those God has given us that are closest to us (spouse, kids, neighbors) want our full attention. It might even make the difference in their sense of how God prioritizes them!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Article on Mac Software Recommendations

In 2007 I began using a Mac for a research project. When that project was finished I decided to stay on the Mac! Some say if you try a Mac you’ll never go back; I stayed with it because it helps us support many of our clients who use them. The switchover has been a little challenging, however, because I’m used to using business-class software. In this article I’ll share what software I use to keep me as productive as I was on the Windows platform, which may help the Mac users on your team.

Download the article (updated on 8/25/2009) here for free in PDF format!

Friday, August 14, 2009

I'm a CTI Your Church Contributing Editor!

The folks at Christianity Today's Your Church magazine and I have been talking for a couple of months about something they officially announced today! I have joined their team of contributing editors, and am very excited about it! I have had great respect for the Christianity Today family of magazines since the late-1970s.

This doesn't change my contributing editor commitment for Christian Computing Magazine or The Clergy Journal, but gives me the opportunity to help/ serve more churches and ministries.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mac Office Gets Essential Entourage Update

Microsoft announced today they have decided the next release of Office for Mac will include Outlook instead of Entourage! That's great news for enterprise Mac users whose companies use Microsoft Exchange for their mail server!

There are many who are mis-stating that info, though, as though the new version's release is imminent. It is not! My sources at Microsoft tell me it will be released in late 2010 or early 2011. So, what should those Mac users do in the meantime?

Microsoft released today the next update for Entourage that includes EWS (Exchange Web Services). It's a free upgrade for Entourage 2008 users (make sure your Entourage 2008 is currently patched before installing!), and it delivers vastly improved Exchange integration for the Mac. This is also very good news for Mac users and should not be put off while waiting for the next release of Office for Mac in a year or two.

You can download the free upgrade to Entourage 2008 EWS right here:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kid's Allowance w/an Impact

We started giving our daughter an allowance when she was seven years old. We wanted to accomplish a few things with it:
1. Teach her about being responsible to contribute to the household.
2. Give her the satisfaction of earning her own money.
3. Teach her how to handle money.
4. Build a foundation for success in a capitalistic system.

The image to the left is her checklist from when she was eleven. Looking at it, you'll notice a few things:
  • There were a a total of 38 possible checks
  • We set "Good Achievement", which earned "Full Allowance"-- 76%, which is a C in schoolwork. In other words, she earned her full allowance if she was average. We wanted her to know that we neither demanded nor expected perfection.
  • We allowed her to perform at a higher level if she wanted to bonus up! She could earn as much as 50% more if she was willing to do better than average.
Our daughter has learned that working harder brings more rewards, whether at home or school or work. Though sometimes she only earns a hug (we always accept and love her), she often earns a bonus!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Is Your Church on The Internet?

While cleaning out some old files this morning I ran across my 51-slide PowerPoint (before its ability to build slides line by line) of a workshop I presented at many national and regional conferences in 1995 - 1997 called Should Your Ministry Be On The Internet? My, how far we've come! Some of my slides titles were:
  • What Is The Internet?
  • What Is Email?
  • What Is A Web Page?
  • Online Service (AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy) vs ISP
  • To Host-- Or Not To Host
So... is your church on the Internet? ;~)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Article: Nick's Software Picks

Our team has had the privilege of serving many hundreds of ministries nationwide as network engineers and consultants. In those roles we have found that some software works better in church and ministry offices than others. We have also found that some software seems to be more trouble-free than others. It is with that perspective that we make the recommendations in this article.

Click here for a free PDF download!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Office 2008 12.2.0 Update Problem

Entourage will not run on some Macs after installing the Office 2008 12.2.0 update. Microsoft has not yet acknowledged or addressed the problem. All of the other Office programs run, just not Entourage. (This is not due to running the EWS beta; it was not installed.)

To get back up and running, I had to restore the MS Office application folder from Time Machine. After doing so I tried running the update installation again and had the exact same problem, so restored 12.1.9 again. I think I'll stay there until MS figures this one out.

A thread has begun in the Mactopia forum, click here to access or add to it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Solar Power Bummer!

Primarily to save money on power, but also because it's a good thing to do, we contracted with SolarCity to install a solar power generating system on our roof. We contracted for a fairly large system: 5.25kw! It was to be installed by the end of this summer.

SolarCity's engineer came to do his field work in preparation for drawing up the plans for the city permit. While here he observed that our roof-- which is in great condition and has many years of life left-- was installed on top of the previous roof. Because the previous roof was wood shingles, SolarCity later told us that unless we re-roof, they won't install a system for us. The engineer told us this is a new company policy that was set in place after we signed our contract.

Our choice was to re-roof, or cancel our contract with them.

Our roof is not uneven or wavy... it is very flat. In fact, we didn't even know that the asphalt shingles are on top of the old wood shingles! Buyer beware! This felt like an up-sale, we felt ripped off.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tired of Bein' Angry

Our church began a new series last night, and the first topic was Managing Your Emotions, taught by Harold Bullock. It was very good (thanks, Harold!).

Even before it began I realized that I'd been angry for awhile. As I thought it through, I identified two primary things that were getting me so mad: the economy and recent directions made by our federal government.

The economy is hurting most of us. Blame whomever you'd like; it doesn't matter: most of us are feeling it and making changes in our lives to accommodate less cash flow. I've been going out to eat much less, putting off buying a replacement pair of Levi's, checking books out from the library instead of buying them, riding my bike as much as possible, etc. These are all good things, and I'm not complaining... but changes in lifestyle always meet emotional resistance, and are thus not comfortable.

Our country is spending like there's no end to the money supply (something that's true if you can print as much as you need, I guess), and nearly all of what they've spent has been benefiting a few rather than stimulating the economy. As I've researched the issues, I'm astounded at what the truth is in what they're doing, and I believe it is really hurting the U.S.' future. In fact, I don't believe we'll ever be able to recover; that's how bad what they're doing is.

Both of these combined to make me a very unhappy guy. And that meant my anger was always barely below the surface of my heart. Trust me: that is exhausting! Exhausting to me, and to everyone who has spent much time with me recently.

So I've changed a couple of things:
  • Regarding the economy: I decided to focus on God's provision and manage positively rather than focus on the negative economy. I can already feel the difference that decision is making.
  • regarding politics: I decided to stop focusing so much on politics. If I'm going to be an activist on behalf of my citizenship, I'll do so based on my heavenly citizenship rather than on my U.S. citizenship. That doesn't mean I won't be a good U.S. citizen... it's just not going to be my driving focus.
Decisions like that need to be put into practice as soon as possible. So today while on a short bike ride I picked up a couple of small I love you gifts for my wife and daughter-- the two ladies in my life. It felt good to prime the pump! Maybe I'll even get that pair of Levi's!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Working in Paradise

Our family often finds itself amazed that God chose to plant us in such a fun place as Huntington Beach, CA. It's a hugely unchurched community, so the ministry opportunities are big. But it's also a fun place to live!

This morning I had to wrestle through some challenging work/ management issues. When I was done, I desperately needed to clear my head. So I hopped on my bike and headed out for a ride-- first to church to help our pastor with something, then to our downtown library and lunch.

One of my favorite lunches is on Main Street at Pacific Coast Highway. I like to get a couple of Wahoo's fish tacos and a Jamba Juice smoothie. Today I also had my notebook computer with me, so I checked my email while eating outside just yards from the beach. I answered some emails, made some client phone calls, said hi to some of my favorite locals, and IM'd with my team. All in all, it was a productive time down there at the beach on a perfect day!

Working in paradise is cool. It's also a privilege to be part of a church leadership team that is heavily focused on reaching the unchurched in our community. Thank you, Lord!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

New Nicholaou.com Website!

We've had a family website since the late 1990s, but it hadn't been updated in sometime and was built on very dated technology. Today I re-published the site and think I like it! It still has some polishing to do (like the picture files are a bit too large), but it's up! Let me know what you think!

Click here: Nicholaou.com

Friday, June 26, 2009

Economy May Help Churches?

A colleague, Mark Willie, shared a thought about one the effects of the current economy that could be helpful for young churches. He observed that the closing of many automobile dealerships may provide an opportunity for churches looking for new facilities! He suggested a few reasons why closed automobile dealership locations may be good for churches to consider:
  • They are currently well priced for lease or purchase
  • Lots of parking
  • Large building for services
  • Offices above the open space for church staff
  • Well located near freeways
  • Typically on a busy street with good visibility for evangelism
Those are all great reasons! A few observations I would add:
  • Most dealerships are in areas that are zoned in such a way to make it easy for churches to qualify for use without running into lots of neighborhood opposition
  • Be cautious about the zoning requirements that may require significant building upgrades to qualify for assembly usage
  • Be sure to check for soil contamination that could be costly to resolve
Maybe, as Mark said, this is a gift from God that can help many newer churches!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Some Store Managers Just Don't Get It!

I went to a store today to return a defective product they manufacture and sell. This is a chain that spends millions to get folks like me to buy from them. I like the chain, and I shop there often, so their marketing worked on me!

The store manager today insisted on negotiating with me. He only wanted to give me credit for 75% of what I spent on the defective item. Even though I had a receipt! I had to verbally wrestle with him for some time to convince him that his strategy was unwise and could cost them a customer.

In the end he agreed to give me full store credit (remember that I had my receipt!), but I couldn't help wondering why so many store managers and customer service people don't get it. Their supposed heroics cost their company so much in lost sales and lost customers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Star Trek Movie-- A Must See!

We saw the Star Trek movie today, and it was great! The movie has enough ties to the original TV show to make it interesting for those of us who grew up watching the original show, but not so many that it became corny. The story was terrific, as were the effects. This movie is a must see!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Article on Cloud Computing

I just released a new article on cloud computing for publication. You can get a free advance copy of it in PDF format by clicking here!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is the U.S. a Christian or a Muslim Country? President Obama Weighs In!

While on his last trip to the Middle East President Obama told the world the U.S. is not a Christian country. That surprised many in the U.S. because our roots are definitely Christian. Then in an interview yesterday with French television's Canal Plus, President Obama said:
"...one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."

So, I'm trying to understand his message. It almost sounds like he's saying we're not a Christian country, we're a Muslim country! Can I possibly be understanding this correctly? What do you think?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Priceline Negotiation Tips

A colleague, Jason Powell, finds amazing travel rates via Priceline. I've tried and not had his success. Almost as though he was reading my mind, he put together a 15-minute video detailing how he does it! It's worth watching... especially in this challenging economy.

Happy travels!

Monday, May 4, 2009

National Church Administrator Day

Phill Martin of NACBA announced today at the Regional Metro CBA Roundtable that the third Thursday of October is National Church Administrator Day. A great opportunity to support those who serve our churches so well!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bonding with Microsoft Support

Today I spent the afternoon being tortured by Microsoft Customer Care, located in the Philippines. Specifically, Robert (alias v-2robev) tortured me and got me as frustrated and angry as I can remember being in years. He toyed with me, asking meaningless questions in a well-rehearsed polite voice while promising me no hope whatsoever. It was only after more than 30 minutes as his victim that he told me they don't have access to the database that shows our team is a Microsoft Partner. He then said I'd have to call a different number. I did, they verified that we're a MS Partner, then they transferred me back to Robert's unit for care! It was very painful.

I confess that I had to pray afterward, asking God to forgive me for hating Robert in my heart and asking him to bless Robert with the joy of salvation. What a day.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Nick's Hardware Picks

Every few years I publish an article about the hardware we find most helpful and reliable, and where to buy it. I've just posted a free copy of it on our website in PDF format, and you can download a copy by clicking here!

I hope you find it helpful!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who's Responsible for Application Success?

I'm at the annual Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA, formerly Christian Management Assoc) Ministry IT Summit in Atlanta. At yesterday's roundtable session someone said something that I found helpful.

The discussion was about who in the organization is responsible for the success of applications used by the team. Most of the time it seems like it is IT's responsibility. But really, it's not! It is the responsibility of the part of the organization that needs it to work for them! IT's role is to make sure it works on the system; not to ensure it's success.

That means that the database folks are responsible to make sure the database works for them; the accounting or finance department is responsible to make sure the accounting system works for them; communications and media are responsible for their applications; and nearly everyone is responsible to learn and use the productivity suite (like MS Office) well.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

College Hunting is Fun!

This week is Spring Break for my daughter's high school, formerly known as Easter Vacation . She's a 17 year old junior, so this is our turn to look for colleges with her.

We've toured three so far this week (UCLA, UCSB, and UCI), and have one more tomorrow (CSULB). It is so fun to see her begin to think through what she likes and doesn't like about each campus! What a great time of life she's going to be entering soon.

I did peer counseling when I was in college, helping fellow students cope with various academic issues. The most common was the concern many had about changing their major. Very few people know at 17 or 18 what they want to do for the rest of their life; yet requiring someone that age declare their major suggests otherwise.

Our daughter is, like most, not exactly sure what she wants to study. We're okay with that, and are encouraging her to start her college career with the understanding that she'll likely need a couple of years to figure that out. We want her to enjoy those years of self-discovery, and to do so guilt-free. What a fun time of life!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Windows XP Lives! Again!!

Thanks to some heads-up research by Michael Pietroforte, also knows as 4sysops in the Twitterverse, we got word today that the life of Windows XP has been extended again! (Good job, Michael!)

He points to an eWeek story which says Microsoft will allow HP to ship computers with XP on them through April 30, 2010. That's good news for many network administrators who want to delay hardware and software changes that may be necessary when updating systems from XP.

Speaking of Windows OS updates, BTW, I've been using Windows 7 beta as my exclusive PC OS since early January this year, and have found it to be solid. I'm looking forward to seeing the final release candidate!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tyrone Wells @ Seabreeze Church!

I'm so excited about the free concert our church is having tomorrow night (4/4/09) by Tyrone Wells and his band! I've heard his stuff on the radio, and thought it was very good-- but had no idea he's a Christian! Here's a YouTube promo video of a couple of my favorite songs by Tyrone... I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Preparing for Conficker.c

Today’s the last day to make sure your computers are protected from a worm program that will impact many Windows PCs around the globe tomorrow, April 1st. The worm is called Conficker.c, and we don’t really know exactly what it will do.

Here’s an excerpt from CNN:
Remember the dire predictions surrounding the "millennium bug?" The doom-and-gloom scenarios bandied about by security analysts on how computers could act when their clocks turned to January 1, 2000?

Well, researchers are hoping that a potential April Fool's time bomb -- the Conficker.c that is supposed to hit computers on April 1 -- turns out to be equally unfounded.

But realizing that hope alone is not a prudent option, here is a primer on the worm so you can adequately prepare yourself -- and your computer.

What is Conficker.c and what do analysts fear it may do?
Conficker.c is a worm, a malicious program thought to have already infected between 5 million and 10 million computers.

Those infections haven't spawned many symptoms, but on April 1 a master computer is scheduled to gain control of these zombie machines, said Don DeBolt, director of threat research for CA, a New York-based IT and software company.
Here’s a link to the Microsoft security bulletin: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS08-067.mspx .

What should you do? First, know that this worm only affects Windows systems. Then, take the following steps:
  1. Make sure your PC’s virus program’s definitions are up to date.
  2. Make sure your Windows operating systems are currently patched, especially including patch MS08-067 (KB958644). If you participate in our WSUS patch management service, you can look at your WSUS server and tell which computers don’t have this patch. If you don’t participate in our WSUS patch management service, you should check every Windows PC and server. You can check by going to the Control Panel and clicking Add/Remove Programs. Click the box that says Show Updates, and look for patch KB958644 under operating system software updates.
  3. Scan your PCs and servers to make sure they’re not already affected.

Monday, March 30, 2009

You Know You're In Trouble When...

There are moments in your life when you know you're in trouble. Some of those are personal moments, and some are professional. Today I had one of those moments.

We're working through the redundancy/ failover settings of our two Internet connections. One of the ISPs had a modem that wasn't behaving. So they sent a tech out to replace it.

What was your first clue?
The first thing the tech said was that he wanted to know why level 3 support wanted the modem changed. That's not a good thing... field techs are not often as knowledgeable as level 3 techs. We got through that one.

Then, after finally agreeing to replace the modem with the make/ model detailed by level 3 support, the field tech wanted to document our static IP addresses. I knew we had really been in trouble when he said to the person on the other end of the phone connection, "Subnick?" For those not in IT, the person on the other end of the call was trying to give him a very basic piece of our setup called a subnet.

Phew! I'm glad that's over!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Is It Time for the 2nd American Revolution?

I don't know who put this video together, but it is awesome! It's definitely worth 6-1/2 minutes of your time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Were We Warned?

A YouTube video was reportedly pulled from U.S. sites, but is still available from Canada that shows Congress was warned multiple times about the impending crisis in the U.S. mortgage market. Here it is:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Recycled Acronyms

There has been a move in the last couple of years to change the acronym for Church Management Software (CMS) that was coined by Steve Hewitt in the 1980s to ChMS. The reason given for the needed change is that many now think of something different when they hear "CMS". Other meanings of the acronym CMS:
  • Content Management System
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (I know, it has two Ms, but only one in the common acronym!)
  • Convention on Migratory Species
  • Compact Muon Solenoid
  • Comparative Media Studies
  • College Music Society
  • Clay Minerals Society
  • Course Management System
I'm sure there are more, but when I recently learned about Course Management Systems I couldn't help grinning. In today's push to reduce our carbon footprint and recycle, maybe using the same acronym to mean many different things is a good thing!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I've been thinking about why I sometimes respond to others or situations as I do, and I think I've put a finger on one of the issues. Rejection. It is painful for me... and I need to change how I let it affect me.

Here's the Root of It
I was born into a home that was created because of the pregnancy that carried me. I was born a blond, and my hair didn't change to dark brown until I was five. Both my mom and dad, however, were Mediterranean-featured brunettes. Not good. I grew up hearing those first five years from my dad, "You're not my son." In later years it became apparent that I was, but the damage was done.

When I was fourteen my folks divorced. Divorce was a rare thing in those days, and like many kids, I took it hard. It wasn't much later that I left home to avoid being given to the courts as an incorrigible child (they had the papers ready to sign)... another rejection.

Rejection Hurts
When I feel rejection, it brings something up in me that almost takes over. I find myself responding in ways I haven't understood… though now I think I know why.

When we say things-- things that are hurtful-- people are impacted. I am purposing here and now to turn this over to the Lord and ask him to heal me and help me to deal with the pain of rejection when I encounter it. And I'm also asking him to help me not say things to others that could impact them in any way other than positively. My hope: that my words would be as apples of gold in settings of silver (Solomon in Proverbs 25:11)… isn't that a great word picture?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Google's Server Strategy

A colleague and I were having lunch today (sushi!), and we were talking about the concept of IT 'best practices'. While there are a number of items that should be in place in every IT environment (backup, security, etc), we eventually found ourselves talking about cloud computing and Google.

Simply said, cloud computing means placing all your data outside of your firewall and on servers-- most likely virtual servers-- you access via the Internet. That led us to Google, and what he recently learned about Google's server strategy. Here are some pics, early and current... hardly what you'd likely call 'best practices'!

What do you think? It obviously works for them, but would you use a similar server strategy?