Thursday, December 15, 2016

2017 Standard Mileage Rates Announced

The IRS published the 2017 standard mileage rates on 12/13/2016, and here they are:
  • $ .535 for business miles (down from $ .54 in 2016)
  • $ .17 for medical and moving expenses (down from $ .19 in 2016)
  • $ .14 for charitable mileage (this rate can only be changed by the U.S. Congress, and hasn't changed for years)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

2017 ChMS Article Released to Publisher!

The research is done, and I've just released the 2017 ChMS article in final form to the publisher! It amazes me that this simple, objective article has become the most referenced dataset for churches and ministries... to see a free advance copy, click here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New Article: What Churches Should Learn from the Recent DDoS Attack


Late last month, the world saw a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack of historic proportions. Anyone who uses a computer, tablet, smartphone, or web-enabled technology—including many churches and church leaders—needs to understand the significance of this attack and what they can do to minimize their vulnerabilities when future attacks occur.

Want to read a free copy? Click here! 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

New Article: Nick's Printer Picks & Tips

I just released an article to the publisher on this topic... see a free version of it by clicking here!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mac OS Sierra - Caution!

Apple has released Mac OS Sierra (version 10.12), and folks are asking questions!
  1. Should I upgrade?
  2. Are there incompatibilities with some of the apps I use?
  3. How do I un-upgrade?
Here is the answer key:
  1. Be cautious! Read the answer to question 2 before upgrading.
  2. I've been running it a couple of weeks, and find it mostly good. In our configuration we have found two incompatibilities so far: Bria (our VoIP softphone app) and Thirtyseven4 (our anti-malware app). So, to answer question 2, check with the developer of your must-have apps to be sure there are no incompatibility issues before proceeding.
  3. Apple calls it a rollback, and another common term is downgrade. There are steps to do this that work; I recommend Googling downgrade sierra to el capitan to get the steps.
 I'll post updates as I have them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

New Article: IT Security Essentials

IT security is an important piece of the IT puzzle that many in church and ministry leadership don't understand. I wrote a brief article that covers some of the most important, easy-to-fix, and affordable-to-fix issues. The article has been released to the publisher, but you can access a free copy on my firm's website by clicking here!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How NOT to Do Tech Support

Today's call to support of an app is a perfect example. Because I've probably been just as guilty, the company name will not be mentioned.
  • MBS: Since upgrading our Macs to MacOS Sierra, your app crashes a few times throughout the day with no identifiable pattern. Is it because of Sierra?
  • App Support: Let's have you uninstall the app, delete a bunch of hidden files and folders in the system library, then restart and reinstall the app.
  • MBS: Okay, we did all that. It still crashes.
  • App Support: That's because the current release isn't compatible with MacOS Sierra. We'll be releasing an update in a few weeks.
Two thoughts:
  1. Wouldn't it have been better to tell us of the incompatibility up front and encourage us to wait for the coming update? (Their website still doesn't warn of MacOS Sierra incompatibility...)
  2. Three weeks? Really? Did the MacOS update catch them by surprise? Perhaps they're appropriately embarrassed and that's why they had us do a bunch of things most wouldn't do (deleting hidden files and folders in the system library). Or, at least, they should be.

Friday, August 26, 2016

We Finally Moved Our Last Netware Client to Microsoft

There's no doubt that everyone in IT owes a debt of thanks to Novell. They standardized networking with their core product, Netware. Eventually Microsoft saw the opportunity and won the battle, but Netware was a terrific Network Operating System.

This week we finally got to move our last client who was using Novell Netware to a Microsoft Windows Server network! They had been using their most recent version of Novell Netware for over a decade, and it just kept working! 3-4 years ago we moved them from Novell GroupWise to Microsoft Exchange. And this week we finally got to move them to Novell Netware to Microsoft Windows Server.

Thank you, Novell, for helping to get IT moving in such a good direction! You served well... rest in peace...

We just received this pic from the client...

Monday, August 22, 2016

2 New Articles: Nicks Software & Hardware Picks

I've released two articles to their publisher, one on software and the other on hardware picks. They are available to preview for free on MBS' website; here are the links:

Friday, July 29, 2016

New WiFi Spec Promises 7gps Connections!

The May 13, 2016 Kiplinger Letter had an article that has attracted the attention of many. It was about WiFi that uses a portion of the air waves that is otherwise 'little-used' to transmit data at 'lightning-fast' speeds. I did a bit of research and found the following facts about this new technology spec:
  • The WiFi spec, referred to as WiGig, operates in the 60ghz frequency range, compared to today's WiFi specs that operate in the 2.4ghz and 5.0ghz ranges. The higher broadcast frequency of WiGig means it has a shorter distance range… probably maxing out near 30 feet. This effectively eliminates it as a replacement spec for current WiFi in business and, especially, church buildings. You can imagine the number of access points that would need to be purchased and configured to cover an office or sanctuary… it would definitely be prohibitive.
  • The WiGig speed tops out about 7gps (gigs per second), which is way faster than the connections speeds of current WiFi (the fastest of which tops out at about 1gps).
  • Very few of the required chips are available at this time, but that may change in the near future.
Given that the range is so small (less than thirty feet), but that the speed is so high, this technology will likely be limited to consumer solutions such as connecting home media equipment without wires, etc. I don't believe it will replace the need for Ethernet cables in buildings--at least not this spec. But it may encourage the thinking and momentum behind other specs that are yet to be announced.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New Article Inspired by Apple Store Experience RE: IT Support

Yesterday's unusual experience at the Apple Store inspired an article on how we can improve the way we do IT support; here’s the link:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

New Article: Confessions of an Arrogant Man

I just released a new article to publisher: Confessions of an Arrogant Man. Click here to read it now!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Sometimes God Needs to Get My Attention

On Friday February 26th I caught the flu while in South Carolina. That sounds like no big deal, I know, except that I can not remember ever having the flu before! And because of that, I never got flu shots. (Not very smart, right? Perhaps understandable, but not smart.)

I got home very late that Friday night/ Saturday morning, and beginning the next day slept almost constantly for the next 4-5 days-- fever and chills included. Then I went to see our doctor (on Thursday), who said I had developed pneumonia. He prescribed some antibiotics and said if things didn't improve after a couple of days I should probably go in for more help.

On Saturday I was still feeling bad, but wanted to wait to go in for help. By Sunday I felt like I was fighting for every breath. So we took me to the emergency room where-- amazingly-- there was no waiting line! They immediately took me in, and a team of 5-6 doctors and technicians and nurses began taking complete control of me. They put me in an airtight mask that started managing my breathing for me (I wept with relief), gave me lots of IVs while they tried to understand what they were fighting, and ordered numerous tests. They had to cancel a CT scan because my kidneys were
shutting down; they had to wait.

The next stop was second-level ICU, where I would be given extra attention by a team of doctors, technicians, and nurses. We learned that my influenza A with H1N1 had developed into the worst kind of pneumonia; taking over both of my lungs. I was on a CDC watch; everyone who entered my room had to suit up to protect themselves. Later in the week they told us that had just dealt with a 21-year old with my exact symptoms. They immediately put him on a breathing tube and induced a coma; within 2 hours he was dead.

There is a lot to tell about what The Lord took me through over the next few days, and I'm considering writing an article about what I learned. Here's the summary of the actual events:
  • I was within an hour or two of death when we checked me into the ER.
  • I had a terrific team of professionals taking great care of me.
  • Grace was coordinating communications via both of our phones letting many around the country know my situation and keeping them updated.
  • All at the hospital who knew of me were shocked when, four days later (Thursday), I was discharged-- at least 2-3 days earlier than they ever anticipated if I survived! I attribute that to great care empowered by the prayers of many and the mercy of God. I believe he touched my lungs and cleared them up!
So, today I'm back at trying to work into my daily work routine. I don't have a lot of stamina yet, but am praying for complete restoration and effectiveness.

To those who prayed for me: THANK YOU! If you didn't know and thus didn't get to participate in this minor miracle by praying for me, please join in the prayer for complete restoration and health.

Thank you,


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tested: Apple's Airport Extreme

We have many clients whose team members bringing "solutions" into the office in an attempt to extend the WiFi network. Many times, those are Apple Airport Extremes. So we decided to try replacing our office wireless access point with one; here's a quick summary of our findings.
  • The setup was quick and easy.
    • We were surprised that the 5ghz broadcast radio does not come enabled by default!
    • You have to find it in the app's Wireless Options and turn it on.
  • The signals were good and strong, enabling good WiFi connections to every device we connected.
  • We use multiple SSIDs that segregate WiFi traffic into different VLANs, just like most of our clients do.
    • There is not a way for the Airport Extreme to recognize VLANs in its configuration.
    • Thus, all access is the same, with the exception of setting up a guest network in the device configuration; but the guest network does not accomplish what we need and accomplish via VLANs.
The bottom line is that it's an elegant wireless access point, but is only suitable for consumer-grade applications (like at home) vs enterprise applications (like at work).

Monday, January 18, 2016

New Article: Microsoft O365 - What You Need to Know

I just sent an article to the publisher on issues related to migrating to Microsoft's O365. It includes some good news, details some of O365's limitations, and concludes with a creative way to save money!

Interested? Click here to read a free copy!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The 2016 ChMS Article is Now Available!

Over the years The Lord has helped me develop a tool that has become the most referenced set of data on church management software. It is completely objective (does not try to persuade you to contact a sponsoring ChMS provider), is simple and easy to use, and it is free!

If you'd like to see this year's article, click here!