Now that we’ve gotten our obligatory “Black Friday sales aren’t for businesses,” post out of the way we’re happy to bring you a deal from Costco that is worth every penny.

From now into December Costco is selling the latest Micorosft Surface 7 with 8GB RAM and i5 processor with the keyboard and pen for $999. This typically retails for close to $1,500.

The caveat: You won’t get Microsoft’s extended warranty, which we highly recommend on these and it includes Windows 7 Home instead of Windows 7 Pro. This is great the power-user at home, your IT department is going to frown on it if you bring it to work with you.

It’s our annual write of passage to remind the other small businesses out there: Black Friday deals on business-grade electronics are few and far between, you always get what you pay for.

Honestly, nearly all the deals are to drive consumer foot traffic online and in the door. The computers/monitors/other electronics are almost never rated for use in businesses, and typically come with a “Gotcha,” or lowered specs, shorter, warranty, etc. Save yourself a headache and either forgo the sale for your business, or ask us if it’s really a “deal.”

However, if you are looking for a new phone for the teenager, a bigger TV for home or that running wtach you’ve been eyeing for months then Friday is a great time to buy!

Every year massive fraud is committed around taxes. A lot of the fraud involves stealing your identity, filing a fake return on your behalf that shows a refund and then collecting that refund on your behalf.

This year Ars Technica is reporting that other phishing emails are on the rise right now.

  1. Remember that IRS uses snail mail, not email to get ahold of you
  2. Educate your employees on phishing, all the time
  3. You can protect your business from these types of scams using artificial intelligence phishing filters that are capable of catching these emails.

You can expect that these types of attacks will grow more common and more sophisticated as criminals continue to learn how to make more money off of… sending emails.

This week one of our employees had to call out because they had a sick kid at home. “Call out,” just meant, “join the conference call.”

From one end of our business to the other we have our tools and resources in reach — and secured — so that our employees can work from anywhere, from everywhere.

This winter, will snow and flu hold your workforce back?

One of the world’s biggest security vendors had hidden backdoors in their products that would allow virtually anyone to take over the firewall.

Your firewall is the security appliance that is supposed to separate your internal, secure, network from the outside world. This bug/backdoor essentially lets anybody into your network that would like to be there.

This hits East Tennessee hard for 3 major reasons

  • One of the biggest IT firms in the area standardized on this vendor’s firewalls years ago, smaller IT shops followed
  • The security required by firms that do business with DOE and ORNL mean a lot of these firewalls are in place in and around Oak Ridge and Knoxville
  • One of the areas biggest retailers also standardized on these, with 100s believed to be in production

What you need to do — today!

If you’ve seen the images below in your office, server room or computer call your IT firm — TODAY — and ask them if they’ve updated it to a version that no longer contains these bugs. Most IT firms are notorious for patching firewalls slowly, so things don’t break. But being behind on these patches means you are already broken.

This is a really big deal

It allows anyone, anywhere to reset any user’s password on the firewall.

60 seconds after midnight US tariffs on thousands of Chinese products more than doubled. How is this going to affect your business?

Costs are going to go up across the board. The supply chains of virtually every industry cross through China at some point. It’s impossible to get away from it. Even if you are a low-tech company, China played a role in producing the goods and services you use or that your suppliers use.

Two simple non-tech examples: if you have employees you reimburse for mileage you are likely to see the reimbursement rise due to increased repair costs, due to increased part prices sourced from China. (Crude oil has also had upward pressure put on it from tariffs). Second, the tariffs hit on materials such as aluminum and copper increase costs for any industry that depends on them as a core component. That includes oil, manufacturing and construction for starters. The result will be increased expenses for anyone with an office building.

Finally, the tech sector depends heavily on China. From computer chips to memory, to the raw materials used to create these, mass amounts of tech manufacturing happens in China. Even low-tech companies will feel the pinch as the underlying costs for vendors they depend on (phones, email) see their costs go up and adjust prices accordingly. For organizations with larger tech initiatives, such as replacing aging Windows 7 machines, the cost will increase.

At JM Addington Technology Solutions we don’t expect to see price increases immediately but rather ramping up over the rest of the year. The threat of tariffs are not new so a lot of companies have had time to either adjust prices or deal with increased costs already. However, there has been and is broad market expectations that a deal will get reached. The longer that takes to happen, the more you will see your costs increase,

Acer Chromebook, Amazon listing.

This time of year all the electronics seem to go on sale, except for Apple’s — why do you think that is?

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Ars Technica shows off a Japanese cell phone that can fit in your wallet.

The South China Morning Post, one of the continent’s premiere English newspapers, has an article out this week via Bloomberg on the Yuan’s (CNY) value against the US Dollar (USD) over the next 12 – 15 months. Why should you care?

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