Thursday, December 17, 2015

IRS Announces 2016 Standard Mileage Rates

The IRS announced today the Standard Mileage Rates for 2016. They are:
  • Business Mileage:  $ .54/mile
    • down from 2015’s $ .575
  • Medical & Moving Mileage:  $ .19/mile
    • down from 2015’s $ .23
  • Charitable Mileage:  $ .14/mile
    • unchanged for more than a decade
Of the three categories, only the charitable mileage rate requires an act of the US Congress to change!

Happy motoring!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Microsoft Resolves O365 Charity Licensing Issue for Churches!

I just released an article to the publisher announcing that Microsoft has resolved the non-discrimination language in its O365 charity licensing agreement. The Lord used MBS in that process, and we are excited to announce it!

Click here if you’d like to read a free pre-release of the article via the MBS website!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

New Article: The Challenge of Today’s Family Structures in ChMSes

I just released an article on this to the publisher...

There’s no doubt that family structures have changed dramatically in the last forty years. ChMS databases are struggling to cope with those changes, and that makes ministry more challenging because most ChMSes impose traditional family structures on today’s family structures. A change must be made! Here are some thoughts that may help.

To read a free advance copy, click here

New Article: Negotiating as Serpents & Doves

Jesus made an interesting statement in Matthew 10:16b, " as shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves" (NASB). I believe these words of His are good guidelines for Christians to apply in every aspect of doing business. We are to be shrewd, yet innocent.

What does all of this have to do with computers? Click here to read the article! 

New OSes: Windows 10, Mac OSX 10.11 (El Capitan), & iOS 9

Just a quick post about Windows 10, Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), and iOS 9.

Windows 10
  • We feel very good about this OS, but have not finished our worksheet on how to configure it yet.
  • If you're an MBS client, we recommend holding off upgrading until we complete our worksheet and can thus certify it, which we hope will be by the end of this month.
Mac OSX 10.11 (El Capitan)
  • It’s all about the apps; not about the OS (see my article on this topic).
  • So far we’re seeing more spinning color wheels (though the color wheel is much prettier!), some crashes, and a problem running Office 2011 in El Capitan.
  • The only current fix we’ve found for Office so far is to upgrade to Office 2016.
  • At this time we are NOT recommending this free upgrade.
iOS 9.x looks good to go!

I hope that helps!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Article w Tips for Supporting Better

Just released to the publisher! Geek Speak!

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Article: On Making Difficult Decisions

Sometimes we’re faced with having to make a difficult decision, where every option has a significant downside. How should we process those? And how do we handle the aftermath?

I wrote a brief article that may be helpful! Click here to read a free advance copy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

New Article: Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity

Most in IT recognize the importance of data backups, but there’s more to a good disaster recovery and business continuity strategy than having backups. What are those additional elements, and how do you set an appropriate budget to accomplish them?

I just released an article to the publisher on this important-- make that essential topic. You can read a free advance copy by clicking here!

Monday, June 29, 2015

New Article: Freedom!

Have you noticed that many in church IT are frustrated because they don't feel their leadership's support? I just released an article for publication that addresses this. If you'd like to read a free advance copy, click here!

Monday, June 8, 2015

New Article: OS Version Update: Windows, OSX, Android, & iOS

I just released an article to the publisher about these operating systems. I include a brief introduction to our thinking about Windows 10 too! If you'd like to read a free pre-release version on MBS' website, click here!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

New Article: A Surprising Discussion on Email to Staff in their Off-Hours

I just released this new article to the publisher; here's the opening:
Ministry staff is mobile, and most on the team feel called to their role. It makes sense, then, to make ministry email available to staff on their mobile devices so they can access it when not at work, right? Well, surprisingly, not always!
This will impact almost every ministry, and it's needed information! Here's a link to the free copy we posted on our website: .

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!