My most recent post at AccountingWeb.com for K2 is linked here. It's a discussion of some issues associated with having to convert part of an accounting office to Office 2007 at the last minute and some related tools which can ease the burden of transition.
I had the privilege of getting an update from some software vendors yesterday, and I'm excited about the progress that many of the vendors are making in updating their products and otherwise finding new and innovative ways to meet the needs of the profession. Once much of the stuff is released from NDA's, I'm going to have a lot to blog about. One trick I'll recommend to those of you who spend much time in webinars is to set up your trusty LCD projector to display your webinar on the wall of your hotel room. I did this yesterday in Syracuse, NY for a day of webinars in the Doubletree here, and it really helped me keep from going blind staring at a tiny screen. I just closed in my garage as a home office (sorely needed - I was cramming about 300 sq ft of stuff into a 150 sq ft office. I now have at least 300 sq ft to work with, and I can pare down the stuff a little bit. I'll send some pictures once I get the desk thing worked out, pics hung, etc. It's a pretty nice little space, and it has 14 gigabit ethernet jacks in the wall.... it's nice to spend a little extra on the home network for a change.
[On a personal note, today my one year anniversary of my lap roux-en-y gastric bypass, and I would recommend it to any of you dear readers who have a BMI high enough to qualify (usually 36+). I'm down 130 pounds, and have started the walk-jog thing at the hotels so I can get ready for a possible run in the 2008 NYC marathon (yes, I am aware that the original marathoner dropped dead after running 26.2 miles - but it has to be done!). While it has a lot of ups and downs (the marathon), I'm looking forward to getting this done before I finish being 40 at the end of 2009. Thanks to all of you who have offered your prayers and support over the last couple of years of this journey - the trip seems to get better and better each year.]
I’m in the midst of moving my office to some new space (larger, nicer, more comfortable, etc.), and the process of building and moving to this new space has brought up a big technology issue that many of us don’t consider on a regular basis – electric power. Unless you live in Hawaii, you’re probably used to having a plug-in heater underneath your desk to keep warm. You may also be using a nice laser printer at your desk, and even be using fluorescent light bulbs to be more environmentally friendly (at least on the electricity). Since it was 12 degrees (yes, Fahrenheit) when I headed out of my driveway this morning in Knoxville, Tennessee, I’m guessing that many of you are using those heaters today.
Please stop, and check your desk now. If the heater, laser printer/copier, microwave, or fluorescent lights are on the same breaker as the computer, talk to someone about getting a dedicated circuit for the computer equipment. My experience dealing with technology (including my own bricked five year old PC) suggests that the hardware failure rate for systems which are on the same circuit as any of these devices is higher than that for people who are not on the same circuit as these devices. While this is anecdotal evidence only, many users in small offices may not be familiar with the issues that can be caused by these devices. Here’s what happens:
1. Heater or Printer draws large amounts of current during its warm-up or operation.
2. This drop in current disrupts, or "browns out" the power to the electronic equipment. While these brown-outs may not seem like that big of a deal, they cause big problems on the circuitry of computers and other electronic devices (for that matter, static electricity is an issue as well).
3. After hundreds of these "brown outs", the electronic equipment dies a painful death, and you and your people wonder why you seem to have so many issues with equipment, this may be the case.
Some solutions to these power problems include:
1. Dedicated breaker and separate outlets for all computer equipment. While this may be cost-prohibitive, this is the preferred solution. I had this done in my new space, and can’t wait to get all of my stuff over there so I can have my printers in the same room as my computers and my space heater.
2. Uninterruptable Power Supply. Filtered power with battery backup (e.g. a UPS) is a requirement for all server applications anyway, and a good idea for all workstations. Today I purchased a 1300VA/780 watt UPS for the low price of $165 (APC model BX1300LCD at Office Depot). Trust me – it’s cheap compared to the cost of downtime.
3. Surge protection for everything that touches the network. While it may seem paranoid to put surge protection on your cable TV wire, phone jack, electric power, and network cable, I’ve seen numerous situations where there was ONE device plugged into a network which wasn’t covered by surge protection, and a lightning strike used that unfiltered plug to push a huge surge through a network, taking everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) out.
While this isn’t a huge shock for most of you, I wanted to mention this today so you public practitioners can get your electronics separated out before the year-end surge hits for 2008