Monday, January 18, 2010


Congratulations to Liz Welsh, President of Executive Communications who was the first one to respond to our charity donation request. I am not surprised that she took us up on the offer as she is committed to a number of charitable causes and is very active in the community. Please check out their website at to see what they do.

Because of the great response we received with our request, we decided to extend an additional offer. If we receive a check for $100 made out to Kosair Charities received by January 29th, we’ll credit your account for one free hour of support OR we will waive our set up charges (typically between $250-500) if you sign up for one year with our C-Now Advantage Maintenance Plan. For more information regarding the C-Now Advantage Plan, please contact David Ely at 502-253-4525 x200.

Thank you again for such a great response.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


One Client will Save $100 and Earn a Tax Write-Off too! CisCom Solutions is currently offering 4 hours of service for just $400 to the first client who accepts this offer. (Sorry, we can only offer one of these.) That is a savings of $100 off of our Services! Additionally, the $400 is a charitable contribution to Kosair Charities (verify this with your tax professional). It's all part of our participation in the 2010 CHARITY BOWL between the Prospect Area Chamber of Commerce & Lyndon Area Business Association held for the benefit of Kosair Charities. We are not great bowlers, but are entering the event for good fun and to help children in need. WE NEED PLEDGES! Payment for the above offer will be accepted as a check payable to Kosair Charities which will be pledged by CisCom for the event. Others can help too. Send checks and make sure to note that it is for the 2010 Charity Bowl. We appreciate your support! Submit inquiries to Patty Mason at

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Should I upgrade my computer to Windows 7?

This is a question that a lot of folks who have been frustrated using Windows Vista have been asking since Microsoft announced the new operating system was shipping. While I had tested beta version on a couple of computers, I recently decided to upgrade my working laptop computer because we are planning some Windows 7 seminars in the near future and I wanted to have something to show off.

Prior to Windows 7, when folks would ask me “is it worth the time and money for me to upgrade my computer?” I would respond with “just wait until you need a new system and just get it preinstalled.” This advice has changed with my experience upgrading my laptop to Windows 7.

My laptop is a Dell Vostro 1400, purchased 2.5 years ago. It has an Intel Duo-core processor and 2GB of memory and a 60GB hard drive. It was shipped with and running Vista Business very s-l-o-w-l-y. To be honest, I had a 5-year old laptop running Windows XP that I preferred using because it was so much faster. My hopes were that after this revamping process, my Vostro laptop would be much faster and usable.

The first task was to research if the laptop was Windows 7 compatible. I researched Dell’s support site only to find it was not officially supported. For most folks, this should have been a deal breaker. For a tech geek such as myself, I considered this a challenge. I knew that if it did not work, I could just reload Vista Business and go on.

I never, ever recommend doing an upgrade to an operating system. Rather, I recommend a new install. This keeps the registry clean and can prevent incompatibilities with older drivers, etc. So I stuck in my Windows 7 Business 64-bit DVD and started the process of installing the operating system.

To my surprise, the installation recognized all of the hardware in the laptop and everything installed without a hitch. Even the Bluetooth capability which I use with my iPhone tethering was enabled and worked properly. I could not believe how much zippier the computer seemed to respond. When I did this same thing going from Windows XP to Vista, the computer was noticeably slower. This was the exact opposite. It was much faster. Maybe Microsoft got it right this time?

After installing Windows 7, I needed to install my applications. Instead of using Office 2007, I opted to install Office 2010 Beta instead. WOW!! I could not believe how fast Outlook ran. In fact, everything ran much faster except Internet Explorer 8.0 which seemed to run about the same speed.

Not content with having my Internet experience slow me down, I decided to try out Google Chrome as my browser to see if it made a difference. I had tried Google Chrome when it first came out and was disappointed. After installing it this time, I was pleasantly surprised. It was much faster than IE 8.0 and the only limitation is that it does not support ActiveX which is required for us to remote control servers we manage. Not a problem, as IE 8 is still available to use for that purpose.

The final step in my re-install process was to encrypt my laptop. I needed to test this for a client and thought this would be a good opportunity. Microsoft offers encryption out of the box with some of the Windows 7 versions but it requires that the computer have a special feature built in to the system board. After researching the other options, I settled with Trucrypt ( a free, open source on-the-fly disk encryption software. I installed it and configured it per the instructions and all worked perfectly.

Now, back to the question, “Should I upgrade my computer to Windows 7?” My answer is: if your hardware supports it and you have at least 2GB of RAM, I would definitely consider doing it. After going through this process, my laptop runs much faster and more reliably. I feel I have increased the usable life of my laptop (pending any hardware failures) by a couple of years. Of course, your mileage may vary (YMMV) as all computers are different.

If you are interested in finding out more, please try to attend one of our upcoming Windows 7 seminars. We are planning them in conjunction with Microsoft and local Chamber of Commerce organizations. To get on the seminar list, please send an email to and we will keep you posted to upcoming events.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Over the Holidays Home Network Makeover

Every year at this time I try to get my life organized so I can start the New Year off on a good foot. So, this year I decided to spend my holiday vacation revamping our home network.

As you can imagine, we have a lot of computers in our household, even after moving all of CisCom’s servers to a data center this past fall, I count no fewer than 7 desktops, laptops, and servers still in use at our home.

Our biggest organizational problem was that we had data files scattered all over the place and no catastrophic disaster recovery process in place. I had a Nephew whose camera was stolen with all the photos of his son’s first year of life. My policy before my re-org would be to periodically copy all our photos from one computer. Not very efficient way of maintain backups.

Knowing a little about Microsoft’s Windows Home Server (WHS), I decided it was perfect for the job and I decided to take the plunge. Because we are a Microsoft Partner, I had access to the software via a special plan with have with them. For normal folks, you need to purchase a dedicated box with WHS pre-installed on it. You can purchase one anywhere from $350 up depending on how much drive space you will need.

After several failed attempts of getting the software installed only to have it fail, I came to determine I had a bad 1TB hard drive that was causing all the problems. I reinstalled it onto a 750GB drive I had laying around and all was well.

After getting the server software loaded, it was all downhill. I had to use a connector CD to connect all of our computers to the server, setup users, create backup schedules. Then I moved and reorganized all of our data files to the new server. Once all of the data was on the WHS, I then installed our own CisCom remote backup software to back everything up to our remote data center.

Another addition to our home network is a media computer. While there are operating systems and devices out there dedicated for pushing media content to your television, I opted to use Windows XP Pro since it was already loaded on the computer I was planning to use. Our television has a lot of inputs for connecting devices including a standard VGA port.

All I had to do was connect the XP computer to the television using a standard VGA cable then hook a cable between the audio port output on the XP computer and an audio input on the television. I changed the TV input to use the VGA and voila, we had a home entertainment media pc. Of course, the computer had to be hooked up to the network in order for us to access Internet content and other media stored on the WHS. One last note, I had to hook up a wireless keyboard and mouse in order to use the PC from across the room. I found an iPhone app to allow a mouse to be used through my iPhone but it did not work reliably.

My favorite sites to use with the media computer?,, and also downloaded content and personal pictures, music, and videos. I guess we could use the DVD player on the computer if we did not already have a dedicated one. gets our highest praise as they have a large amount of content - TV shows and Movies, that can be streamed free of charge. They offset the cost of their site with limited advertising which is much less intrusive as typical TV advertising.

All in all, I am feeling very organized starting off the New Year. Not only is my data organized and is getting backed up offsite, we also have expanded our viewing options by adding the media pc.