Archive for January 2013

Episode 63 – The NCSP Report Panel Discussion

We talk with three IT service providers and ask them if they think the data in the National Contractor and Service Platform Survey Report is a fair assessment of the state of the IT service industry.

TechPodcasts Promo Tag :10
Intro 1:18
Billboard :48

News and Comment segment 7:13
The FCC wants everyone to be on gigabit ethernet by 2015.

Makeuseof.com is offering a FREE Guide called Ubuntu: An Absolute Beginners Guide. This 30 page guide will tell you everything you need to know about Ubuntu, a free, open-source linux based operating system with 20 million users worldwide. The guide is free to qualified professionals.

Leap Motion announced plans to launch the Leap Motion Controller exclusively at Best Buy this spring.

Office Max and GoDaddy have teamed up to offer web site bundles to small and medium-size businesses in the retail marketplace.

Commercial Break 2:00
The Computer Business Kit

Intro to Topic 2:14
In the summer of 2012, The Force Field conducted a survey of IT service providers and asked them to rate the national contractors and service platforms from best to worst. The results were published in a 20 page The National Contractor and Service Platform Survey Report released in tandem with The Force Field Episode 62. Today we’ve assembled a panel of three IT service professionals who represent a cross-section of technicians who actively perform contract work in the field. Our three panelists are Parrish Reinhoel of Pathfinder Networks, Chris Tiffany of Sprinter Technology Services and Dave Hayden of Computer 911. We will ask them what they think of the survey data and if it paints an accurate picture of the techs, the nationals, the platforms, and the IT service industry as a whole. Download The Force Field 2012 National Contractor and Service Platform Survey Report.

The National Contractor and Service Platform Survey Report Panel Discussion 23:30

Wrap up and Close :46

Comments, questions or suggestions? Send them in to comments@theforcefield.net or post them in The Force Field Forums. Feedback on this topic will be read by the host and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at http://www.theforcefield.net!

©2013 Savoia Computer. All rights reserved.

Office Max partners with GoDaddy

Office Max and GoDaddy have teamed up to offer web site bundles to small and medium-size businesses in the retail marketplace.

What??

Yes, you read that correctly. In one of the wackiest partnerships ever, Office Max is going to be a GoDaddy reseller, offering domain name purchases and hosting solutions in retail stores across the country.

In a press release January 17, the office supply chain said this deal makes them “the exclusive nationwide retailer for Go Daddy websites and domain names”. Interestingly, this arrangement allows Office Max to offer GoDaddy’s domains and services in-store only; they will not offer them online (presumably to prevent direct competition with GoDaddy itself).

On the surface, it sounds like a match made in Wonderland. However, according to GoDaddy, 70% of their customers are small to medium-size businesses, which is also the market Office Max targets. Given that, such a partnership seems to make more sense. There’s just one little thing to consider. How does the market feel about this?

To the general public, this new arrangement probably means essentially nothing, except that they can now walk into an Office Max and buy a domain name build a web site instead of ordering it online. But would they do it? When you get the urge to check for an available domain name or build a web site, does it make sense to jump in your car and drive to the nearest Office Max, or just search around the Internet? Isn’t it more natural and a whole lot faster to shop for domain names and purchase hosting solutions directly online rather than walk into a brick-and-morter big box store across town?

Those are all interesting things to consider, but for those in the business of offering the same services and are part of the GoDaddy Reseller program, there is a much bigger question to ask. How does this new partnership affect existing GoDaddy Resellers?

Well, to put it simply, you may now have some serious competition from a bigger brand with a lot more marketing clout. A lot of IT service providers also offer web hosting and design to their local customers in the same SMB marketplace serviced by office supply companies such as Office Max, and some of them are GoDaddy resellers. if you are one of them, this Office Max and GoDaddy partnership is something to consider as a potential threat to your local business. if you are a GoDaddy reseller and offer domain names, hosting and web site design services to customers in your local service area, get ready. You’re now going to have a big box competitor in town, courtesy of your reseller partner.

However, there are a couple of questions about this big box partnership that can actually give you a competitive edge, if you can provide the right answers. The first was already asked. Does a walk-in purchase of a cloud-based product or service make sense? Since the GoDaddy Reseller program is Internet based, most of the resellers offer their re-branded domain and hosting solutions almost exclusively over the web, something that Office Max will allegedly not do. This may level the playing field somewhat and give the resellers who provide web site design and consulting services to their customers face-to-face a slight advantage. The success of this depends somewhat on the next item: the question of pre-sales support.

Historically, big box retailers are not known for their knowledge and experience with the products and services they sell. This isn’t merely conjecture, it’s a documented fact. Large retails sell tens of thousands of different products, items that they don’t design and manufacture themselves, and while some employees can be trained to learn the basic attributes of a few specific lines or items, it isn’t cost-effective or even feasible to learn them all. When it comes to tech-related items, most rank-and-file employees do not have training or experience in IT, which means they really aren’t qualified to provide the guidance and consultation to meet the individual requirements and needs of most customers who are shopping for tech. For this reason, big box retail chains are best suited to selling general consumables to the masses; they cannot deliver specialized IT related products and services to small businesses effectively. This is where a qualified IT consultant shines.

But it won’t stop Office Max from trying. According to their press release, “Trained OfficeMax store associates are available on-site to help each business select the Go Daddy website bundle that best meets their needs.” Sort of like their PC repair service, CTRLCenter®?

Uh huh. Well, We’ll see how that works out.

50 questions and answers about Windows 8

Windows 8: 50 Questions and Answers You Need to Make a DecisionLast week I told you why I think Windows 8 is the worst operating system ever. In the blog, I even publicly asked Steve Ballmer to recall Windows 8. Although a lot of you agreed with me, there were those who said I didn’t give it a fair assessment.

I want to be fair about this and give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt. I also want you to make up your own mind and not rely solely on one man’s opinion and rant.

Rather than write another long-winded blog post about all the features and attributes of the new OS, I will point to another source that does it all for me. It’s an e-book titled Windows 8: 50 Questions and Answers You Need to Make a Decision.

As you already know, Windows 8 introduced significant changes to the look and feel of Microsoft’s flagship product, presumably with the intention of supporting mobile devices/tablets and enhancing the overall user experience. Some of these changes, including a touchscreen capable interface, improved security features, and online services (including a Windows store) were considered somewhat radical, especially for an OS previously considered exclusively tied to the desktop.

These changes raised a lot of questions, and the Windows 8 e-book addresses fifty of them. This 105 page guide answers the basic questions about this new OS, such as: What is Windows 8? How is it different from Windows 7, XP and Linux? Can I dual boot my current OS with it? It also answers a few questions I had myself, such as: Why did Microsoft release tablets running on two operating systems? Should I upgrade from Windows 7? What if Windows 8 fails? This last question is a real doozy and it’s a great discussion no matter which side of the Windows 8 fence you sit on.

The e-book defines the features of Windows 8 in layman terms and provides enough information on the differences between other solutions and its previous versions to make an informed decision. If you’re considering an upgrade to Windows 8, this guide is capable of helping you answer your questions.

Windows 8: 50 Questions and Answers You Need to Make a Decision normally sells for $9.95. However, you can get it from The Force Field for FREE until midnight Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013.

Repeat: This is a limited time offer. I have the e-book and, yes, it does shamelessly promote the operating system, but it wasn’t written or published by Microsoft. It was created by a third party. The e-book was written by editor Onuora Amobi and published by Nnigma, Inc.

To be fair (and, for full disclaimer, possibly make a little something on the side), I am promoting the book. In fact, I think it’s a good idea, since it may help some of you who are on the fence about it to decide for yourselves as to whether or not Windows 8 is worth the time and effort of selling it to your customers or using it yourself.

It’s only fair.

Dear Mr. Ballmer, please recall Windows 8

Recently I purchased a laptop for my son. He needed a computer for school and the one he had was so old and slow that he was resigned to using my wife’s four year old netbook instead, which was also a little past its prime. He needed something portable for use around the home but wasn’t prohibitive in cost. Fortunately, there are laptops available that don’t cost an arm and a leg but are powerful enough for general use. So, I went shopping for laptops.

Most of the notebook computers we looked at were quite adequate for its intended use, and several were priced within my budget. There was just one problem. They were running Windows 8.

Now, I’ve been a Windows user since the days of Windows 3.1, and before that I worked in DOS. I wouldn’t call myself a Microsoft fanboy by any stretch of the imagination and if you’ve been listening to The Force Field Podcast for any length of time you already know it. I’ve used other operating systems including Linux and I own an iPad, which I really like and have come to rely on for a number of applications. However, I am most comfortable on a Windows machine and am particularly fond of Windows XP and Windows 7. This is what makes what I am about to say all the more painful.

I don’t like Windows 8. I don’t like it at all. I won’t go into all the reasons here, because they have already been expressed by a multitude of other Windows users who are of like mind and for all of those reasons collectively. I am just one more Windows user who has made it official: Windows 8 is a terrible operating system. It’s even worse than Windows Vista, which was previously considered the worst operating system since Windows Millenium, or Windows ME.

About five years ago I attended a Microsoft Partner event held at their Charlotte, NC campus. At the time, Vista had recently been released to market, and the Microsoft execs were eager (or should I say, somewhat desperate) to generate some real support for it from partners, because for the most part, there wasn’t any. They even gave away a copy or two in a drawing during the event, and somehow I wound up winning a full retail copy of Windows Vista For Business. Where is it now? Still sitting on the shelf behind me, still sealed in its original package, gathering dust. I disliked working with Vista so much on my customers’ computers that I never installed it on my own PC. I never even cracked open the plastic case.

Since then I have had an opportunity to check out Windows 8. It didn’t take long for me to form a new opinion of Vista: It is now only the second worst OS. In my humble opinion, Windows 8 is the worst operating system ever.

My son is no stranger to Windows. He has been around computers since he was old enough to walk. He spent his pre-school years in my computer store all day, often sitting at one of the demo PCs at the front of the shop. Customers would walk in while he played his games and watch him operate one of my branded, custom-built computers while marveling at the idea that such a young child could figure out how to operate a device that they themselves struggled with. Needless to say, my son helped me sell a few computers.

Since the new laptop was intended for my son, I thought it was only fair to let him decide which operating system he wanted to use. So, when shopping around, I took him along and asked him to try it out on the demo units in the stores. It didn’t take him long to conclude that he didn’t want one with Windows 8.

I had to hunt around for a laptop with Windows 7. Unfortunately, that was a difficult order to fulfill, thanks to Microsoft, who demanded PC makers pre-install all their new computers with Windows 8 and refused to allow customers to downgrade to 7. Essentially, Microsoft is forcing customers to buy Windows 8 instead of giving them a choice, something I resent. After searching around, I considered purchasing a Chrome based tablet for my son instead, but I realized that if I did so, most of the Windows-based software he already had would be useless.

He did get his laptop. When we drove down to Orlando at the end of the year, I found a Windows 7 notebook in stock at CompUSA (TigerDirect) and snapped it up right away. Now he’s happy, I’m happy and all is well. No thanks to Microsoft.

Now I need to upgrade my production PC. I need to be able to just build it, turn it on and start working on it. I have neither the time nor the patience to re-learn the operating system. I know Windows, and I like Windows 7. There is no learning curve and no lost productivity due to re-training. The operating system shouldn’t be the focus of my attention while at the computer. I should be focused solely on my work, because that is why I am sitting in front of the computer.

My attention should be on what I am creating on the computer, not on the operating system. The purpose of the OS is supposed to be the platform from which I can work, not the work itself. It is supposed to be somewhat transparent in that sense. Windows is not, and should not be, the reason I own a computer.

The Windows team at Microsoft, and Steve Ballmer himself, seem to be trying to make Windows the centerpiece of the computer instead of what it should be, just the platform from which to operate it. They seem to have completely lost touch with the original purpose of the operating system and all the reasons why Windows has been most popular OS in the world for over twenty years.

Windows 8 is a mistake, and everyone seems to realize this except Microsoft. The CEO is telling the world that users “get” and “like” this convoluted code while blogs are bashing it, Twitterers are tearing it down and the company’s stock is taking a dive. Windows 8 is a huge fail and Ballmer should acknowledge that obvious fact. He should admit it and back it up by doing the right thing: Either allow users to downgrade their new PCs to Windows 7 or simply recall Windows 8. Based on what has come from Redmond already, it is doubtful Ballmer and company will ever rescind their previous mandate demanding users have this horrible piece of junk shoved down their throats (for a premium price, I might add), so the only other choice is to issue a recall. Since they have yet to do it on their own, I formally demand one now.

Dear Steve Ballmer,

 

I find Windows 8 to be the worst operating system ever, and I formally request you recall it immediately. If you do not do so, and if I am not offered a choice to purchase a new computer with Windows 7 by this spring, my next computer may be running OS X.

 

Sincerely, A former Microsoft Partner.

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