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July 13, 2012

While the weather seems to have cooled down a bit, it does seem like it continues to heat up in the IT world with all that's going on these days. It's hard enough to keep up with everything we currently understand and support while also pushing the envelope with all that's new and ever changing in our industry. Beyond updates to all the technology, we're now dealing with a landscape that includes concepts like the cloud, server virtualization, desktop virtualization, MDM (Mobile Device Management), BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), as well as the old standards (which are still new to many) of business continuity and managed services - the concepts just keep coming. Not that we're complaining. It's the reason we're in business. But still, sometimes I'd like to be able to catch my breath. Whew.

Now don't get me wrong - because the flip side of "having" to keep up with all of this is the "wanting" to. And that's what's so great about the staff that we have here. Everyone not only wants to learn and grow and push the envelope with the latest and greatest, but they thrive on it! Along with performing their day-to-day duties, all of our technical staff stay on the cutting edge of what's new. It's an innate part of our culture. Not only does everyone here have an individual training budget to spend on classes and certifications, but we also build in the time needed to spend on this training. This attitude and capability is what's helped us achieve our latest Microsoft Competency (see below) and is fueling future ones on the way. This is the attitude that ensures we know the technology inside and out so that we're most effective at all that we recommend, implement, maintain, manage, and support.

Later this month we'll be attending the annual CompTIA Breakaway (known as the premier education event for the IT channel) where we'll get to continue this quest for knowledge and learn more industry trends, meet with our vendor partners, and swap stories with our peers.

While this thirst for knowledge is inherent in many in our industry, I believe it's our approach that's unique. But, it's only one of the things that separates us from our competitors. "Good vs. Evil" (see below) is a recent blog entry where I describe a mechanism we use internally to communicate this concept and ensure we stay on track and deliver the high quality services we pride ourselves on.

While July is often thought of as the beginning of summer since June gloom is gone, today seems to be another story. At least it's a break from the heat. I hope you enjoy this month's newsletter and here's to a great and productive month!

Craig Pollack & The FPA Team

Yahoo Confirms 450k Voice Passwords Breached

A hacker group calling itself the D33ds Company has posted more than 450,000 login credentials online, claiming that the pilfered e-mail addresses and passwords came from an unnamed Yahoo service. The hackers say they were able to obtain the credentials through an SQL injection, a common attack method that gave Sony so much trouble in 2011.

“We hope that the parties responsible for managing the security of this subdomain will take this as a wake-up call, and not as a threat,” the D33ds group said in the text file containing the leaked credentials. The group said it did not reveal which Yahoo service the hacked credentials came from “to avoid further damage.”

Yahoo confirmed it was hacked and provided the following statement...

To read more, please click here.

Malware Feared to Knock Thousands Off Internet

Despite repeated alerts, it was feared that tens of thousands were going to lose their Internet service this past Monday. While the problem never amounted to the fear (can anyone say Y2K?), the problem still had an impact. It began when international hackers ran an online advertising scam to take control of more than 570,000 infected computers around the world.

In a highly unusual move, the FBI set up a safety net. They brought in a private company to install two clean Internet servers to take over for the malicious servers so that people would not suddenly lose their Internet. The temporary Internet system they set up, however, was scheduled to be shut down at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Monday.

To read more, please click here.

For information on how FPA guards against malware on your servers, please visit our Managed Services page.

LinkedIn Passwords Leaked by Hackers

Social networking website LinkedIn announced that some of its members' passwords were "compromised" after reports that more than six million passwords had been leaked onto the internet.

Hackers posted a file containing encrypted passwords onto a Russian web forum and invited the hacking community to help with decryption. LinkedIn, which has more than 150 million users, said the leaked passwords would no longer be valid.

To read more, please click here.

Will Microsoft's Surface storm the workplace?

In case you haven't heard, Microsoft (MSFT) unveiled its new "Surface" line of tablets at a press event in Los Angeles recently. Surface tablets come in two flavors: consumer and enterprise. The latter is powered by an Intel Core processor and runs on the full-blown Microsoft Windows 8 Pro operating system. More importantly, both versions of the tablet feature an innovative cover that doubles as a keyboard and a built-in kickstand -- which is why Surface actually stands a shot in the enterprise.

The bigger issue has less to do with the actual tablet itself, but more to do with the fact that Microsoft is clearly sending signals that it wants to be more than simply a software company. Clearly, they're going after Apple - and in more ways than one.

To read more about the Surface tablets, please click here.

Server Uptime and How It Can Affect Your Business

Recently users of Google Mail experienced issues as the service was either completely down or available only intermittently between 1 - 2 p.m. Eastern Time on a weekday. Countless Gmail users went to Twitter to complain about the downtime and lost productivity. Google has over 350 million users worldwide, so this means that approximately 35 million people couldn't use Gmail for about an hour!

Downtime for your email service or website is not something that should be taken lightly, especially in an economic climate where every sale is important. What’s important then is how your website and email host handles potential downtime, because unfortunately, it’s going to happen at some point. If it can happen to Google, it can and will happen to the company you trust to host your business’ website and email. So what should you look for in a host in regards to service uptime?

Read more about server uptime here.

For information on how FPA helps prevent unnecessary downtime, visit our Backup & Disaster Recovery solution page.

If You Don't Prioritize Your Life, Someone Else Will

"A 'no' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble." So said Mahatma Gandhi, and we all know how his conviction played out on the world stage. Saying "yes" when we should be saying "no" can seem like a small thing in the moment. But over time, such compromises can create a life of regrets.

Read the full article here.

Power Outage Highlights Infrastructure Vulnerability

One of the consequences of the recent storm complex was the loss of commercial cloud computing services, mostly Amazon's elastic compute cloud (EC2), which affected high-visibility firms Netflix, Instagram, and Pinterest, among others. The disruption came as an unwelcome reminder that the illusory curtain of our virtual world can be ripped away at any moment. It is probably healthy, though, to relearn that there is more to life than our place on the digital merry-go-round.

But for serious commercial interests, this was a wake up call. Firms that have shifted their systems over to cloud services suddenly realized that they haven't diversified their risk enough. What's changed? Storms are more severe, the infrastructure is less regulated and stable, and we are more dependent on the infrastructure.

Read the Forbes article here.

Do you have a solid backup technology and process that can help minimize risk in a severe outage? Visit FPA's Backup & Disaster Recovery solution page for more information.

Twitter Cuts Off Service to LinkedIn, API Changes Draw Ire

Twitter, the micro-blogging site, has cut off tweets on the professional social network LinkedIn, ending a two-year partnership. LinkedIn users will still be able to post updates to Twitter from LinkedIn, but not the other way around. The new requirements are meant to encourage developers to build apps on Twitter's website.

"If you had previously synced your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, and selected the option to share Tweets on LinkedIn, those Tweets generated from Twitter will no longer appear on LinkedIn. There will be no other changes to your LinkedIn experience," said Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn head of content.

Read more here.


Good vs. Evil

In one of our early training classes here at FPA we have a section called "Good vs. Evil". In it we explore some of the more blatant differences between how we operate (Good) vs. how many of our competitors operate (Evil). Things like - "being on time" vs. "showing up late or not showing up at all", "teaching the client to fish" vs. "hoarding knowledge", "over-communicating" vs... Our "Good vs. Evil" comparison really helps put things into perspective for our staff. It's easy to comprehend and easy to live by. The cool part is this concept is used by our staff all the time...


How Cloud Computing is Like a Drug Company Ad

I recently attended an IT planning meeting with a client. And in the midst of all the back and forth, it struck me that while the client was nodding their approval that they were understanding our conversation, it was clear that they actually weren't. In mid-sentence, I stopped the conversation and bluntly asked the...



FPA Drives Increased Performance, Reduced Risk, and Improves Business Continuity for a Local CPA Firm

Kirsch Kohn & Bridge is a prominent local CPA firm, consistently ranked as a top 50 accounting firm in LA County by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Although its existing network was stable, their management team wanted to be proactive and preempt any potential issues before tax season began. Read how, with FPA's assistance, the firm moved to a new virtual server environment offering improved uptime and reduced risk while providing significant cost savings in the long run.

Read the Case Study...

FPA Achieves Microsoft Silver Midmarket Competency

FPA Technology Services, Inc. (FPA) the leading full service IT Consulting Firm in the Los Angeles area, announces today that it has been recognized as a "Silver Midmarket Solution Provider" by Microsoft. The Midmarket Solution Provider competency demonstrates partner expertise in the most current infrastructure solutions based on Microsoft desktop, business-management and server technologies. According to Microsoft, the Silver Competency in the Microsoft Partner Network is designed to help midmarket clients more easily identify services and solution providers that have demonstrated proof of their capability to deliver quality outcomes and customer satisfaction.

Read the Press Release...



Amelia Earhart Day - July 24, 2012
Amelia Earhart Day

July 24th is Amelia Earhart Day, to honor the 1897 birthday of the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. As most of us know, Earhart mysteriously vanished somewhere over the Pacific Ocean during an attempted flight around the world. Her two-engine plane, Lockheed Electra, was never found and neither was Earhart or her navigator, Fred Noonan.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of Amelia Earhart's disappearance, The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) just this month set out to search for Earhart's plane, the Electra, at Nikumaroro, an island in the western Pacific Ocean, where they believe Earhart was stranded and later died. This could be interesting.

Backup and Disaster Recovery

Backup and Disaster Recovery

FPA's Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution addresses your concerns and removes your worry. More than simply another way to backup, our BDR is truly a business continuity solution.

Data and information are the life blood of most businesses. Studies show that 50% of companies who lose their data for just 10 days file for bankruptcy immediately while 93% file within a year.

Do you know how secure your data is if disaster strikes? Can you recover quickly from data loss? Are you willing to take the chance that this won't happen to you?

Our Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution provides a highly reliable and cost effective way to address any organization's backup, online storage, and server disaster recovery needs.

For additional information about how to protect your data, please contact us.

Staff Spotlight - Margie Talkington

Margie Talkington

Margie Talkington, FPA's Business Systems Project Manager, is responsible for managing software development and business system implementation projects. She brings years of project management and training to her role at FPA, where she provides software installation and configuration, report writing, QA, testing, user training, and acts as the liaison with clients when customizations are needed.

Three key factors contribute to Margie's success in her eight years at FPA: her ability to quickly learn new software, think like a programmer, and maintain a positive attitude while doing so!

Margie's thirst for learning applies equally to her time outside of work. In her "spare" time, she likes to hike, cook, travel, motorcycle, bowl, and spend time with her friends and two cats. She loves to try new things and has recently traveled through Yosemite on a motorcycle, snorkeled with sea turtles and zip lined in Hawaii, flown an ultra light, and gone whale-watching from a helicopter.

Margie's words to live by? "Enjoy life and be optimistic!"

Charity Spotlight

Jericho Road Project

Jericho Road Project Pasadena

Many nonprofit organizations have over-extended staff and little time or resources to identify, let alone take on, critical strategic and operational challenges that will allow them to sustain and improve their services.

The Jericho Road Project bridges communities by matching the professional talents of volunteers with the needs of community-based nonprofit organizations and businesses to promote community development, strengthen social services, and enrich the lives of volunteers.

For more information about their organization or if you'd like to donate your services, visit jerichoroadproject.org.

Client Testimonial

"I wanted to thank FPA and congratulate you for a smooth migration (to Office365). I personally experienced a smooth changeover and didn't hear of any major issues. Well done and thank you!"

Matt K.
The Search Agency, Pty. Ltd.

FPA Backup & Disaster Recovery Service

Recommended Reading

Checklist Manifesto

The Checklist Manifesto

By Atul Gawande

What do piloting a plane take-off, performing surgery, and providing IT services have in common? All are mission critical, having to do with preserving lives, saving lives, and ensuring business continuity and profitability.

In his New York Times Bestseller and Amazon Best Book of the Month (December 2009) Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande differentiates errors of ignorance (mistakes we make because of what we don’t know) and errors of ineptitude (mistakes we made because we don’t use of what we know). He suggests that a tool to help us with the latter is always a simple checklist.

At FPA, all of the work we do for our clients is performed using checklists and we've been doing this for years (if not decades). This ensures we're efficient, effective, and successful. We recommend this book as a great read!

I.T. 101

There are a lot of acronyms and terms tossed out in IT and we forget that not everyone knows our secret shorthand like we do. So, we thought it might be helpful to define some of them...

What is a Bare Metal Restore?

A Bare Metal Restore is a data recovery process in which backed up data is available in a form which allows restoration of a computer system onto its "bare metal." Usually, a restore needs to have the operating system installed first and then the files need to be restored after. A "bare metal" restore removes this requirement and allows the whole image of the backed up hard drive to be restored onto that "bare metal" computer.

Usually the hardware receiving the restore needs to have an identical configuration to the hardware that was the source of the backup, but virtualization techniques and careful planning on the part of your IT services provider can enable a bare-metal restore to a hardware configuration different from the original.

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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"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction."

- Bill Gates
Former CEO and Current Chairman of Microsoft




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