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February 24th, 2013

nullNow that Office 2013 is available for purchase, what if you have recently purchased Office 2010? Does this mean that you missed out and have to purchase the new release if you are looking for the latest features? The good news is that for a limited time Microsoft is allowing people to upgrade their Office software for free. All you have to do is go online and download the new software after validating your recent Office 2010 purchase.

To be eligible for this upgrade offer you need to have purchased your existing Microsoft Office 2010 software after October 19, 2012. For any licenses that were purchased after that date you will need a copy of the software product key which will need to be entered into the website offer page. Once that has been done you will be able to download the new software and install it on your computer. We would also recommend that you save this download file and the new product key in case you ever need to reinstall the software in the future. One thing to note is that this free upgrade must be redeemed no later than May 31, 2013.

For complete details see the following page on the Microsoft site http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/offer/ Feel free to contact us with any questions or assistance with this upgrade.

October 23rd, 2012

The summer was a busy time for PCM and it quickly became apparent that more resources were needed to serve the growing client list. As we switch over to the fall season we are excited to announce that our team has expanded again with another experienced consultant.

Hette Feenstra joined our team at the beginning of October and has been busy getting up to speed on our support tools and best practices. Previously Hette worked for a school board and was responsible for a network that included 35 different locations with over 600 computers. We look forward to having his expertise on our team and expect that the extra capacity will help us to be more responsive to our client support needs. Our expectation is that Hette will be both on the road and working in house on client networks as the need arises.

Did you know that PCM currently looks after over 650 computers and 70 servers? It’s something that we take seriously and by adding experienced resources to our team we hope to maintain the service level that our clients expect.

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January 30th, 2012

At the beginning of the year, we moved to a new office in Stoney Creek. Our previous office in Hamilton had served us well for 11 years, however we had run out of space and it was time to move on to something larger. This new location has more than twice the space and allows us to continue to add more staff in the future. While the new office may be a little farther away from some clients, the location offers excellent highway access and an office layout that will allow us to work more efficiently.

Moving an office is always a challenging operation, however we made it through the process and so far everyone is really enjoying the new place. Overall the process went extremely smooth, with only a couple minor technical issues on the first day. One unfortunate result of the move was that we had to change our business phone number as we have moved a few kilometers outside of the core city exchanges. Our toll free numbers have remained the same, as well as all of the staff extensions and email addresses.

1040 South Service Road, Suite 105
Stoney Creek, ON L8E 6G3
Phone: 289-656-1100

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December 21st, 2011

As our network monitoring and IT management tools continue to evolve, so does our back-end professional services automation (PSA) system. As many of our clients know, PCM has an advanced PSA system in place to track your client details, service tickets, agreements and billing information.

We are happy to announce our new client portal, available to all clients that are on our Sentinel IT management service plan.

You can now log into your portal to get real-time updates on any service tickets in the system. In addition to viewing existing service tickets, you can also initiate new tickets from this portal and view other account information like invoices and scheduled activities.

To gain access to this new online portal you will need to first request a password by emailing support@pcm.ca Once your account and password have been created you can access this portal at any time, day or night, by clicking on the “Client Portal” link on the top right corner of our website.

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December 21st, 2011

As we come to the end of another great year and start our planning for 2012 we are excited to announce that we will be moving to a new office! Our current office has served us well for 11 years, however we have run out of space and it’s time to move on to something larger. As much as we have enjoyed being in the downtown Hamilton area, we have decided to move our office to Stoney Creek right along the QEW highway. This new location has more than twice the space and allows us to continue to add more staff in the new year. While the new office may be a little farther away from some clients, the location offers excellent highway access and an office layout that will allow us to work more efficiently. The official move date has been set for Monday, January 2nd which will allow for minimum downtime and will allow all of our servers to be operational by the time most clients open for business on the following day.

Effective January 2nd our new address and phone number will be:

1040 South Service Road, Suite 105
Stoney Creek, ON L8E 6G3
Phone: 289-656-1100

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August 3rd, 2011

If you use Window XP, it might just be the time for you to upgrade (or at least start planning to upgrade) as Microsoft has announced plans to pull the plug on Windows XP support in 2014. While that may be a couple of years away, it never hurts to start assessing your options so the eventual move to newer Microsoft OS will be as smooth and efficient as possible.

Part of using any sort of software is the inevitable need to upgrade. Most if not all software needs to either be replaced and upgraded as the demands of the market entail more efficient processing of the various data and information a business handles.

Such is the case with Windows XP. While many continue to use this proven straightforward operating system, Microsoft has decided to stop support by the year 2014. Microsoft further recommends upgrading to its latest OS, Windows 7, in order for users to continue to receive OS support.

While there are some lines of business applications that have not been upgraded to work with Windows 7, most have and there are alternative approaches. Also, your business needs the security and protection that only a current, up-to-date operating system can provide.

We understand that changing your OS will entail some expense, including new licenses, hardware, and some training. Fortunately, these things are designed to help you operate more efficiently and increase your productivity in the long run. But such change will take time, and if you are interested in starting to plan for an upgrade now, we’ll be happy to sit down with you and develop an upgrade process that meets your specific needs.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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June 23rd, 2011

For some time now, Microsoft has allowed charities to purchase software at substantially discounted prices. A few years ago this program was changed and restricted to only a few national resellers. Microsoft was concerned about licenses being sold to organizations that didn’t technically qualify and they needed some time to re-organize the channel.

This month PCM was informed that we have been accepted as an authorized reseller for charity licenses. This new authorization is in addition to our status as a corporate license and educational license reseller.

To be eligible for charity licenses organizations must provide a valid charity registration number assigned by the Canada Revenue Agency. The organization then needs to go through an approval process before being registered for future license orders.

Contact us if you are a registered charity and would like more information on this program.

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May 24th, 2011

Hackers continue to target online banking transactions as many SMBs do not realize the vulnerabilities in their current arrangements with their bank. Left unaddressed, you run the risk of allowing cyber-criminals to steal tens of thousands of dollars right from under your nose.

In a recent attack, cyber-thieves managed to get away with $63,000 after they exploited vulnerabilities in the online payroll system of a small business with its bank.

First, the crooks managed to infiltrate the company’s system through a piece of malware called the Zeus Trojan. This gave them access to the company’s data, including the password and username used in transacting with the company’s bank. The thieves then created several new ghost employees and created payroll accounts for them, which they sent to the bank and authenticated using the company controller’s username and password. And to cover their tracks, the hackers erased the confirmation emails regarding the transaction.

This incident highlights the need for better security systems in both the business and their bank as security experts cite online banking transactions as one of the favorite targets of cyber-criminals. Cyber-attacks such as this one exploit weaknesses in many existing systems that rely on very simple and automated authentication procedures to confirm transactions.

A direct threat to your business finances is not something to be taken lightly. You not only need to review your current online banking system, but also the current security protocols you have installed, since hackers and cyber-criminals are constantly updating Trojans and other malware to adapt to changing IT protection systems.

We encourage you to have us take a look at the systems you have in place to determine if you are at risk for attacks like these. Please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to draw up custom security solutions that address your specific needs.

References:
Sold a Lemon in Internet Banking
Cybercrooks Drive Away With $63,000 from Car Dealership

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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April 13th, 2011

clear padlockInitiatives such as WebBlaze and BitBlaze from the mind of IT genius Professor Dawn Song are setting the bar high for security, constantly providing solutions developers can use to create better security for their clients.

If you think hackers are the only ones doing their research to release newer and scarier viruses and malware on the web, think again. It is comforting to know that there are also very capable people doing what they can to make the internet a safer place like Professor Dawn Song, associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley and MacArthur Foundation fellow.

In a nutshell, Professor Song has been looking at different ways to make the internet experience more secure. Her two initiatives WebBlaze and BitBlaze are aimed toward developers who want to create better and much more secure programs and applications.

WebBlaze is a compilation of different strategies from Song and other like minds who tackle different problems and solutions in all sorts of platforms, and BitBlaze is an analysis tool for malicious software. While we won’t go into too much detail (it involves very complicated math), the gist is that Song and her colleagues are drawing up some very solid solutions to constantly evolving security issues on the web.

It’s exciting to see developments like these in the security industry. As threats continue to evolve, so does the means through which they are fought. The more we use the internet and the more the online experience becomes integral to the day-to-day operations of businesses big and small, the more important securing your data and information becomes. And because of efforts such as Professor Song’s, we can expect security programs to be much more effective and efficient as time passes.

Know more about BitBlaze and WebBlaze

Learn more about Dawn Song here

If you are looking to assess and beef up your security systems, we’d be happy to sit down with you and take a look at improvements that can make your business and your data much more secure.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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January 13th, 2011

unfriendThe drive to be more intimate can benefit your business. If you have a tighter circle of customers, you will establish yourself as a channel for consumption. This will make your next sale easier compared to the first.

November 17, 2010 was declared by Jimmy Kimmel during his television show as “National Unfriend Day”, the opportunity for all Facebook users to declutter their Facebook pages by “unfriending” people in their friends’ lists. He claims that Facebook has been “cheapening” the idea of friendship. To many the idea was hilarious, but others are seriously considering the wisdom of unfriending.

Is Kimmel on to something here? Can unfriending benefit your online business?

Research shows that as social media gets bigger, we’re getting smaller. Brian Wong, a network marketer says it simply: “With the growth of social networking, I am finding it increasingly difficult to separate business connections and personal connections.” He says that having almost 1,000 friends on Facebook has made it difficult for him to see the feeds and updates of his “real” friends and important business partners.

Lately there is a growing trend of de-scaling on the internet. People have started “pruning” their social lives online. For example, the popular Farmville app lost 30 million players this year, and people are beginning to realize that conversations and comments are more important than a huge number of blog hits.

So how can de-scaling and unfriending help your business? The drive to be more intimate can benefit your business by allowing you to form a tighter circle of customers, more successfully establishing you as a preferred channel for consumption.

Luckily, there are tools that can help you descale your social networks:

  1. Path Offers small-scale communities where people feel more comfortable sharing personal information. It controls who can view your information and does not include features that make your content viral.
  2. Letter.ly A subscription-based newsletter for bloggers who feel that public posts decrease the quality of conversations. This newsletter opens discussion only to people who pay, or who are privately invited to read a blog post.
  3. GroupMe A texting app which limits your group text participants to only 14, to ensure that meaningful dialogues take place.

What about the flip side of unfriending and descaling? While you’re considering who to eliminate from your social circles, your contacts are likely doing the same. Here are some tips to help you make their cuts:

1.       Be selective in your communications.
Of course, your product is important to you. But not every little detail is as important to your audience. Be sure to focus on key features and benefits from your audience’s perspective.

2.       Stay on topic.
Always give relevant communications to your customers, and never rant or badmouth competitors. This is a sure way to lose customers.

3.       Provide value.
In addition to talking about your product or service, find ways to provide value to your circle of friends. Understand topics and pain points important to them, and provide valuable information and advice to help them succeed. You’ll soon come to be considered as a valuable resource to your contacts one that they want to keep in their online social groups.

One thing is clear: quality is still more important than quantity, especially in the current economic downturn when people are downsizing everything. Start “pruning” your social network and take steps to avoid being pruned and you’ll reap the benefits of having a tight circle of loyal friends and customers.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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