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March 23, 2012

Now that it's Spring, how is it the clouds return? We're supposed to be experiencing a new season - warmth, rebirth, and optimism. It's so interesting how something as mundane (and uncontrollable) as the weather can impact our outlook on things. Have you noticed the newscasts these days? It cracks me up when I hear, "coming up at 11:00 - Storm Watch." As my 10 year old says all the time, "Seriously?" It's just rain folks.

The same could be said for this "new" thing we keep hearing about - "The Cloud". "Are you in the cloud?" "You should move to the cloud." "Why aren't you in the cloud?" "Couldn't we save a lot of money if we were in the cloud?" Really? It's just a (slightly) different way of delivering technology. What's all the bruhaha about? It's something that some clients will embrace and leverage and something that others will only be affected by as a piece of their whole puzzle. There are service providers now who only deliver "cloud solutions". How is this in the best interest of their clients if this is all they do? How can they be objective about the "solutions" they provide if they only provide one solution?

One of my jobs here is to steer our company through the maze of all the different directions, options, and vendors that our industry constantly pushes to "sell" IT to the business community. I get tons and tons of emails selling the latest and greatest this, that, or the other thing. Among them are more and more "cloud" based solutions. Intel sells a "Hybrid Cloud Solution" which is nothing more than a server preloaded with software that you can turn on and off as needed. This IS a pretty cool solution. However, the only piece that's "in the cloud" is the management of the licensing. Yet, it's marketed as a "cloud" solution.

Now don't get me wrong - I do think this cloud thing has legs but more importantly has value. Significant value. There's nothing I'd rather see than our clients utilizing technology to its fullest and getting more and more value out of it so that they can grow their businesses more effectively. There are a lot of things that we are doing now to leverage the cloud more and more for our clients. Some of these ways include hosted Exchange, hosted spam filtering, offsite business continuity and Office 365 just to name a few. But, through all of this, the biggest takeaway needs to be that while the cloud is here to stay it really is just another way of delivering technology solutions. Remember it's all about business purpose. Business Before Technology - We Get IT!

Happy Spring - sunny or cloudy!

Craig Pollack & The FPA Team

Will a Standardized System for Verifying Web Identity Ever Catch On?

Passwords are often shared among family, friends and spouses, and people typically use the same passwords for everything. Many experts say passwords are cyber security's weak link. To minimize identity theft, the Obama administration is urging Internet companies to agree upon and adopt a standard, reliable identity-verification system that people can use for any website. Each person would choose one company, perhaps their e-mail service provider, to handle credentials for sensitive personal or financial information on other sites. In this hypothetical digital world, someone could buy...

For more on this story, please click here.

If You're Using "Password1", Change it Now

The number one way hackers get into protected systems isn't through a fancy technical exploit. It's by guessing the password. That's not too hard when the most common password used on business systems is "Password1." There's a technical reason for Password1's popularity: It's got an upper-case letter, a number and nine characters. That satisfies the complexity rules for many systems, including the default settings for Microsoft's (MSFT, Fortune 500) widely used Active Directory identity management software.

Security services firm Trustwave spotlighted the "Password1" problem in its recently released "2012 Global Security Report," which summarizes the firm's findings from nearly 2 million network vulnerability scans and 300 recent security breach investigations. Around 5% of passwords involve a variation of the word "password," the company's researchers found. The runner-up, "welcome," turns up in more than 1%.

To read more on this story, please click here.

Put Down the Phone and Learn to Be Alone

We constantly text and social network so we don't have to feel lonely, but while peering into our phones we’re ignoring the people and the world around us. That's a serious problem, one that should be addressed by technologists, regulators and norms, according to psychologist Sherry Turkle. Speaking at the TED conference today, Turkle said she wants people to make a personal commitment to live with each other and teach themselves to be okay with solitude. Turkle is a professor of the social studies of science and technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and she has done her own research on these topics and published a book about them last year called “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other”. Her talk clearly resonated at TED, where attendees in the main auditorium aren’t allowed to use their phones or computers, a rare occasion for the many technologists here.

To read more about this, please click here.

Facebook Timeline for Business Pages

If you have not yet converted your Facebook fan page over to the new Timeline design, your page will automatically convert on March 30th, 2012 which is coming up fast! This post covers the majority of basic settings and features you need to know. And even if you've upgraded, you'll find some good tips here!

For more on this topic, please click here.

Tips to Avoid the Most Common Leadership Mistakes

Most leadership mistakes start with the leader's own sense of identity -- or lack thereof. Even a good leader makes mistakes. But a good leader learns from each one, so we rarely make the same mistake twice. Or do we? In some recent research, I have been examining the mistakes that even successful leaders make, and the lessons they learn. I've come to understand that most individuals stumble over the same kinds of leadership tripwires, again and again. Even with the benefit of experience, reflection, feedback, data and coaching, they have made the same mistakes twice -- or more. Why? There’s an important missing link between recognizing our vulnerabilities and anticipating when we might fall victim to them again.

For more on this topic, please click here.

8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees

Great employees are reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, great leaders and great followers... they possess a wide range of easily defined - but hard to find -qualities. A few hit the next level. Some employees are remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on performance appraisals but nonetheless make a major impact on performance.

Here are eight qualities of remarkable employees:

1. They Ignore Job Descriptions. The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.

2. They’re Eccentric. The best employees are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a really good way. Unusual personalities...

For more on this topic, please click here.



Spring is Finally Here!

Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and customs, but for us here it occurred March 21st. At the spring equinox, days are close to 12 hours long with day length increasing as the season progresses.

While we like to say "the days are getting longer", the reality is - they're still only 24 hours long.

IT Management Services

Strategic Planning & Guidance

How are you addressing your strategic IT needs? Do you have a Technology Plan in effect? How about an annual budget? Do you have a Computer Use Policy in place?

FPA provides a wide array of strategic IT and business consulting services tailored to the specific business needs of our clients. Our outsourced CIO and CTO services offer the highest level of IT experience and expertise at a fraction of the cost of having one in house. We provide many clients with strategic planning and budgeting services to address their technology needs while helping plan for future growth.

FPA works with clients to develop and manage annual capital and operating budgets ensuring that these budgets are met on an ongoing basis. For our larger clients, we also assist with planning and managing their technology staff. While we can assist in the hiring process, we also offer training services to enhance the technical abilities of their existing IT staff.

For more information about our Strategic Planning & Guidance services, please contact us at info@fpainc.com or by phone at 818-501-3390.

Staff Spotlight - Matt Spero

As our Implementation Services Manager, Matt's primary responsibility is to ensure that our network SWAT projects are performed at the highest level. This means the solution is correct, the interruptions are minimal (if at all), and they're brought in on time and within budget.

Matt has been with FPA for over 6 years and as one of the technical leaders of our team has seen a lot of technologies come and go. As a result Matt brings a unique perspective to his role at FPA. He's "touched" more of our clients' networks than most and as such truly understands our "Business Before Technology" approach.

Outside of work hours, these days Matt’s favorite thing to do is to play with his 3.5 month old daughter and spend time with his wife.


Charity Spotlight

A free world-class education for anyone anywhere. This is the Khan Academy's mission. They're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better.

All of the site's resources are available to anyone. It doesn't matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. The Khan Academy's materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.

For more information check out The Khan Academy at: www.khanacademy.org

Client Testimonial

"I wanted to mention that I have been impressed with the work I have seen Rick produce since we started this project. Your communication has been clear, concise and linier which has been refreshing."

Emblem Enterprises




Cloudy with a Chance of Murkiness

When they came up with the word the "Cloud", I'm thinking they (whoever "they" are) were looking for a way to package this nebulous thing that would be accepted easily as opposed to something more appropriate - like the "Swamp" or the "Sandbox" or "that place that we can't quite describe where we want you to store everything you have and never have to worry about anything IT again". I can only imagine the guys from Amazon, Google, and Microsoft behind a mirrored window watching focus group after focus group trying to come up with some lovely adage so that they could get everyone to buy into it. The Cloud. Close your eyes and imagine a white, puffy, soft, and warm place. It certainly evokes a positive image (not that there's anything wrong with it)...



FPA Partners with CompTIA in Troops-to-Tech Careers Program

FPA Technology Services, Inc. (FPA), the leading full service IT Consulting Firm in the Los Angeles area, announces today that it has partnered with CompTIA in their Troops-to-Tech Careers program. CompTIA created the Troops-to-Tech Careers program to provide opportunities and resources for veterans and their spouses interested in working in the IT field. Within this program, FPA will work with CompTIA to show its commitment to prioritize the hiring of IT certified veterans.

FPA Announces Promotion of Alex Kazmin to Director of Consulting Services and CTO

FPA Technology Services, Inc. (FPA), the leading full service IT consulting firm in Los Angeles, is proud to announce the promotion of Mr. Alex Kazmin to Director of Consulting Services and Chief Technology Officer.
Mr. Kazmin has been with FPA since 1998 and most recently was in the role of Consulting Services Group Manager guiding the service delivery of FPA’s network infrastructure practice area. In his new role...

FPA, Twitter, and Facebook

Just a reminder that you can keep in touch and see what's going on with FPA on a regular basis on Twitter and Facebook. Check us out!

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Recommended Reading

The 5 Levels of Leadership

by John C. Maxwell

True leadership isn't a matter of having a certain job or title. In fact, being chosen for a position is only the first of the five levels every effective leader achieves. To become more than "the boss" people follow only because they are required to, you have to master the ability to invest in people and inspire them. To grow further in your role, you must achieve results and build a team that produces. You need to help people to develop their skills to become leaders in their own right. And if you have the skill and dedication, you can reach the pinnacle of leadership - where experience will allow you to extend your influence beyond your immediate reach and time for the benefit of others.

Careers @ FPA


Looking for a career change or know someone who is? We're always on the lookout for talented people to join our elite team. Please contact us if you know of anyone.

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"The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities."

- Stephen R. Covey
Author (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)




Copyright 2012 FPA Technology Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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