Bagels & Bytes Meeting Notes – February 2015

Front door and view of the Children's Museum buildingThis month, we met in the spacious conference room at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  Our thanks to George, Luke and the CMP staff for hosting us and providing food and beverages!

Here are the meeting notes for this month:

  • PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance was discussed at length. One attendee described their organization’s experience with following the steps to become compliant. PCIstandards.org was listed as a good resource for information.
  • Migrating database to the cloud was discussed. Pros and cons of moving to cloud were brought up. People also shared their experience with using SalesForce CRM. Also, Veeam for virtual server backup.
  • PC life cycles and depreciation were discussed. Some groups shared thoughts on using warranty as guideline for equipment lifespan.
  • Squaretrade.com was mentioned as a good resource for buying equipment.
  • Keeping Wi-Fi secure. Managing access points.
  • Migrating to Office 365 including the pros and cons of having cloud based email.
  • Other suggestions included:
  • Using www.yournerdybestfriend.com blog.
  • Asana for free project management software.
  • W3.org and wix.com were mentioned as good resources for web development basics.
  • Fing Android app for network analyzing in regards to wireless networks.
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Bagels & Bytes Meeting Notes – March 2014

A group of smiling Bagels & Bytes attendees standing under the colorful oversized Crane (water bird) in the Children's Museum lobby.

Bagels & Bytes attendees posing under the large Crane in the lobby of the Children’s Museum.

Thank you to all for attending Bagels & Bytes this month at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh!  George and Mercy were, once again, our gracious hosts.

In April and May, we are at the Frick Art & Historical Center in the East End. By that time, we should see some spring blooming and enjoy the lovely grounds there!

Here are the meeting notes for this month.

Technology Staffing

Windows 8

  • User experience – good, once you get past the new “top layer” it is stable and functional.
  • Vista scared a lot of people/vendors, so people still shy of upgrading.
  • The desktop environment is similar to 7, except for the touchscreen features and “charms” menu.
  • There are known compatibility issues with Terminal Server.
  • Reminder that Windows XP support expires next month.
    • Johna shared an informative email re: XP she recently received from NET Xperts:
      • Click on the link to see if your PC is running Windows XP.  http://www.amirunningxp.com/
      • For anyone who is not a computer techie, the announcement by Microsoft about discontinuing support for Windows XP may not mean much. However, from a HIPAA perspective, this is very important information because Section 164.308(a)(5)(ii)(B) of the HIPAA Security Rules includes an ‘addressable’ requirement of Protection from Malicious Software where covered entities need to implement “procedures for guarding against, detecting, and reporting malicious software”.
      • Officially, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available. This means that there will be no more automatic updates protecting your PC and even though your computer will still work, the problem is that without these updates, it becomes more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.
      • Even if you have encryption and anti-virus software on your Windows XP computer, it won’t help because the problem is related to the flaws in the operating system itself. Encryption protects communication to and from the computer, but not the computer itself. Anti-virus can help protect a computer, but that depends on what security flaws might be found in XP after Microsoft no longer supports it.
      • Here’s what happens from the ‘hacker’ perspective. Microsoft releases an update (patch) for a supported operating system. Hackers review those patches and see if that same vulnerability exists in the old operating systems that are no longer supported. If so, then your old, faithful, reliable XP computer becomes a prime target no matter what encryption or anti-virus you have installed on it. If you have a security breach on that XP computer, you have not implemented appropriate safeguards to meet the HIPAA requirements.” ~ NET Xperts

Google Apps vs. Office 365

  • Between the two programs, file conversion and sharing can be an issue.
  • Moving to these clouds-based productivity apps requires a degree of change management, regardless of which you choose.
  • Office 365 changing name of cloud storage from SkyDrive to OneDrive. Business subscriptions start at $5/month per user.  Here’s the announcement from Microsoft.
  • Outlook 2013 – no more Public Folders, everything is a Mailbox now.
  • Mail merge feature in Google Docs has improved somewhat over time.

Responsive Web Design

Local IT Providers That Serve Nonprofits

Backups

  • Cloud vs. local backups (see extensive notes from our last meeting).
  • How to pay for?  An in-house backup device can be labeled a capital expenditure and depreciated while cloud-based solutions fall under operating expenditures.
  • General consensus wishing that funders and management understood that the world is slowly moving to the cloud and we’ll need to re-think how we fund our IT.

Book Mention

Virtualization

  • There was a request for a “101” document.  Here’s a video instead.

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Bagels & Bytes Meetings Notes – February 2014

Bagels & Bytes attendees sitting around a conference table having a lively discussion about technology.We held B&B-Allegheny at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh this month. Thank you to George, Mercy and the CMP staff for hosting us!

We will return to the Children’s Museum for next month’s meeting on Wednesday, March 5 (8:30-10 am).

Windows XP Migration / Upgrading to Windows 8.1

  • Support to be ending for XP in April 2014
  • Some not wanting to go to Win8
    • Desktop vs. main screen
    • 8.1 upgrades sometimes fail
    • Still feel like Win 8 is buggy
    • Can revert – make 8 look like 7
  • TechSoup has Windows 7 upgrades available (32 and 64 bit)
    • TechSoup also has the Software Assurance program – a 2 year window where you can obtain licenses for updated versions of software you’ve purchased through TS
  • What about giving old Win XP PCs away to staff or otherwise?
    • Recommend sign off a hold harmless agreement
    • Make sure wipe hard drive properly
  • RAM mostly going to be issue – many times can upgrade
  • Win 7 wipes old operating systems, does a fresh install
  • Window Easy Transfer tool is helpful
  • Don’t see value for 8 if no touch screen
  • Can add a program called Classic Shell to revert Win 8 to older look and feel
  • general consensus that IT staff are still getting numerous help desk calls about Win 7 – there is concern that upgrading to Win 8 will only increase help desk calls
  • Win 8 seems more geared to personal users
    • Win 8 has a different method for connecting to a network – Map Drives no longer there
    • No more file paths, have to search
    • Geared more toward the non-techie, it seems

File Transfer & Cloud Storage

Donor Management Databases

Social Media

  • Should/does it fall under Marketing or Tech?
    • Content support – marketing function
    • IT – for integration w/ website etc.
    • If small shop, sometimes have to do both
    • Different skill set for each side, content and technical
    • Facebook and other Ads – should come from marketing’s budget
  • Social media policies are a good idea (sample policies available here)
  • Social media committee also useful way to manage it
  • Google places – have to get verified
    • Can “claim” address etc. & include logo & keywords

Office 365

  • Desktop component
  • Online component
  • Office 365 info sheet for nonprofits (thanks, Johna!)
  • 2013 “Cartoonish” looking
  • Exchange 2013 lacks public folders (mailboxes instead)
  • NPOs get discount ($4.50/user per monthly)
  • Can access apps offline
  • Get bigger exchange mailbox
  • Better collaboration included in 365, but easier for tech savvy folks
  • Capital vs. operating expenditures (Always a concern)

Backups

Document Management Systems / Board Portals

B&B Meeting Notes – Feb. 6, 2013

We had a great time on Wednesday morning at the Children’s Museum of Pgh. and a productive, informative meeting!  A big “thank you” to George, Mercy and the Children’s Museum Cafe for hosting & catering our meeting.

Meeting Topics and Resources

  • Social media questions
    • What networks? Linkedin? Facebook? Twitter? Blog?  (Find out where your audience is.)
    • Personal vs. professional – a persistent question.
    • Slideshow: 10 Social Media for Business Myths.
  • Virtual servers
    • Is one physical server/computer that has been partitioned at the hard drive level to function as two or more separate servers (they share hardware resources, but have separated disk space and operating systems).
    • VMware:  “How Virtualization Works.”
    • It’s good to have a second server (physical, not virtual) to back up the virtual one(s).
    • Benefits – you can allocate hard drive space as needed, assign disk space “on the fly,” upfront costs are a little higher but the overall long-term costs are lower (less servers to replace).
    • VMware has a feature – ability to move servers to another server easily.
    • When should you virtualize?  Generally if you have three servers or more, you should begin to consider it.
    • Backups / disaster recovery – people typically use external hard drives or cloud-based backup.
    • Sonic CDP (stands for “Continuous Data Protection”) is a good backup tool.
    • Mobile app for remote access called 2X Client.
  • Internet service providers (ISPs)
    • Connectel is a local isp/phone broker, they get paid in commission by telecom companies, so orgs pay nothing to get their assistance.  Local rep is Doug Dembiczak / ddembiczak@connectelinc.com.
    • Considerations: having a redundant internet line, shared vs. dedicated, up/down speeds.
    • Free online speed test available.
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) issues
    • Agency-owned vs. personal?
    • Who pays?  For equipment?  For data plans/service?
    • Important to have a policy for this.
  • Data/file system housekeeping policies
    • If your org has a document retention policy, use that for guidance on digital files.
    • Ok (and frequently necessary) to set limits on staff’s storage space.
    • A method for archiving email must be found.  Gmail is easy, Outlook and other programs are trickier.
    • 7 years seems to be a standard timeframe for keeping most docs, but check with your org’s solicitor for guidance.
    • Duplicate File Finder – free software that will go through your file system and find/display duplicate files.  Can be installed on a PC, doesn’t have to be the server.
  • SharePoint

Our next meeting will be at the Children’s Museum, Wednesday, March 6 (8:30-10 am).  Hope to see you there!

The 2013 Bagels & Bytes Meeting Calendar is here.