Planning ahead with Microsoft

Some of us are natural planners.  Everything we do is on a schedule and planned well in advance.  Others are not.  The last minute or beyond is good enough.  We've found that keeping computer technology up-to-date is good for your productivity and security—as well as the bottom line. 

Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) and Office 2003 will be reaching end of support in April 2014. That's not quite two years from now!   We want to help you avoid the risk of running an unsupported version of Windows & Office, and to assist with your IT planning for 2012. The objective here is to highlight the potential risks involved with the upcoming end of support of these products and to outline the options available to mitigate these risks.  


Apple Macintosh viruses reported

April 1st – the day when all sorts of jokes, stories, and elaborate hoaxes are played on the public by venerated news organizations, manufacturers, the government, and of course from the Internet.  Our friends at Google launched a fantastic new product based on Morse Code.  NOT!!

However, this past April, an issue that has been around for a while created quite a media stir and wasn't a joke.  Apple Macintosh computers getting viruses or more precisely a thing called a “Flashback Trojan Horse”.   Thousands of words were written about over 600,000 Mac computers being attacked by malicious malware code.  We had quite a few clients call us and bring-in their Macs – just to check.

So, is this real, a big deal, or not?  Some facts and suggestions:

The first thing to understand is yes, this particular issue is real.  However, the infection of 600,000 computers is actually quite small.  There are literally millions of Apple OS X licenses out there.  Not as many as PCs, but as these things go, this infection is pretty minor.  Our shop checked a number of client Macintoshes and we checked all of The Computing Center’s own machines.  Not one of them had the Flashback Trojan.


HP combines PC & Printer divisions

The Computing Center has been doing business with Hewlett Packard (HP) since 1984.  We began by selling a desktop computer called the HP-150 and shortly thereafter began selling and servicing the first Laserjet which began the printing revolution.   We now sell, service, and support, virtually the entire line of HP network servers, desktop and laptop computer, printers, plotters, switches, and routers. Over the years, HP has greatly expanded its business to become the world’s largest computer company by sales volume.  Not a bad legacy for a couple of engineers who started out in a garage in Palo Alto, CA building audio oscillators and who’s early customer was Walt Disney Studios.

Large companies typically have many divisions and it’s common for each of those divisions to have separate profit and loss financial statements.   HP is no exception.  Many of us in the computer business have gotten used to HPs “alphabet soup” of ESSN, PSG, IPG, EB, etc. and exactly which division handles particular products, services, and programs.  Most of our clients don’t care…they care about getting the right product and services, appropriately designed for their needs.  

This past week, HP announced that PSG and IPG (printers) would be combined into a single division as a way to reduce some of HP’s internal complexity.  From our client’s perspective, there will be virtually no changes.   Inside, HP, the “merger” will allow overhead expenses to be trimmed, a gain operational and manufacturing efficiencies, and hopefully build on the successes inside the printer division.  


2011 year-end tax planning

Ho ho ho…the last month of the year is coming up!  Time for our annual year-end appeal to our small business clients to take a look at your technology acquisition plans.  Depending on your tax status, there might be an opportunity to save some real tax dollars by making a purchase in December 2011 rather than waiting till January 2012 or later.  In 2011, there is a bonus depreciation provision written into the tax code.  You might qualify for a 100% bonus depreciation deduction for purchases of new equipment for your business of up to $500,000.

As our friends in the car business say…”your mileage may vary”, so PLEASE contact your accountant or tax advisor to see how these rules may affect your business.   We can give great advice about which technology to purchase and how best to integrate it into your business, but we are NOT tax advisors and no one at The Computing Center plays one on TV that we’re aware of.  So, talk to the experts about your company’s situation. Then speak with us about which technology will best fit your needs.

Disk Drives scarce & computer pricing fluctuating

It's hard to believe that the devestating typhoon in Thailand occured last August.  Over 30% of the land mass of the country was flooded by the typhoon.  What does a flood in Thailand have to do with computers and technology in Ithaca, NY?  Thailand produces 25% of the world's complete disk drives and its component parts.  Annually, the world production of disk drives for computers, laptops, servers, game consoles and other devices is something over 700 million units, so this is a very significant loss of production.  

Since the beginning of November, we have seen a dramatic reduction in the availability and a significant spike in prices of all typesof  disk drives.  Two major disk drive manufacturers, Western Digital and Seagate both have plants in Thailand  along with Hitachi, Samsung and Toshiba. Western Digital's plants have been essentially shut down while Seagate's plants have mostly been spared. Below is an updated statement on the situation that we've received from Seagate.  Although Seagate is increasing its production, overall demand is going outstrip worldwide supply by over 60 million units per quarter for at least six to nine months.

This shortage of disk drives is causing us difficulty in obtaining computer products and has dramatically driven up the prices of many server, desktop and notebook computers.  Prices have increased as much as $500 per unit for some models so far.


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