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It's not business as usual.

If you're a typical small business leader, you've got an impressive list of goals and objectives. Unfortunately, you're lacking some or all of the resources to make it all happen in a timeframe that you need for your business to remain agile and competitive. Larger competitors have entire departments dedicated to winning your customers with expensive advanced tools for business. Alpha-Resource is your bridge over the gap between small business shortfalls and enterprise class analytics, media and technology options. Solutions for your business without costly commitments to over-reaching services.

Systems integration, Data Analysis, Cost Control, Information Governance, Information Systems & Technology
Photography and video for your business. Art Creative. Media Conversion
Social Media Strategy, CRM Integration, Web Design, SEO/SEM

The work was excellent, quick and affordable.

Keith Emerson

What Went Wrong? Phone GPS Nav Apps that Mislead Us

We chuckled at the Facebook post that told of how the popular navigation application, Waze, somehow thought it was ok to make a run for it at 100+ mph to work, because, I guess it was in a hurry to get there.  The driver wisely decided not to make the 59-mile journey in the 39 minutes he was informed it could be done.  But, what can we expect?  As these navigation apps become even more useful, they may become even less trustworthy.

We’re not sure exactly what went wrong in the work commute above, but our guess is that there was bad data for the application to process..  We’re assuming the developers of the widely distributed program used to make a very simple mileage-speed-time calculation that many people can do in their head, tested it for accuracy.  Incorrect data in the backend of the system led the program to produce incorrect information for the user.  “Garbage in garbage out,” is the old saying.

It’s not always incorrect data that happens to be there by some mistake, however.

Interactive GPS navigation is a growing business.  Google Maps, Waze, BackCountry NavigatorHERE WeGoMapQuestPolaris NavigationScout GPS (formerly: Telenav), are just a few of the popular ones.  As the applications rely more and more on independent data sources, the integrity of the data itself will come more and more into question.

An in-depth article by Auto Connected Car News explains how apps that allow users to provide feedback on routes for drivers is designed to help drivers avoid accidents, obstacles and heavy traffic, but that’s not always the case.  Residents of thickly settled areas will falsely report accidents or log in false reports of heavy traffic to the driving apps to keep other drivers away from their quiet neighborhoods.

So, just like anything else, use common sense, and don’t trust everything you see on your smart phone.


When to Stop Focusing on Price

Copyrights and Live Performance Video

While organizations such as BMI make sure musicians get paid, there are other rights apart from whether or not artists are compensated that are often overlooked.  Sometimes the people in photos and videos unintentionally infringe upon the rights of the artist behind the camera – the photographer’s rights.

Copyrights and Live Performance Video Recordings

You own the rights to your music and your performance to be sure, and anyone with video recordings of you would require your permission in order to publish your performance.  But, it works the other way around, too – if you want to publish their video recording.  To the best of my understanding, here is how it has been explained to me by legal experts regarding photography and video…

With live performance video recordings there are three elements:  (1) A person’s image, persona, likeness;  (2) The music, performance, artistic expression; (3) The recording – the actual media, digital video file or film – raw or finished.  There are separate rights involved with each of these things.

Whenever I record anything in my camera, I own it.  I can make creative edits, use it in other works, replay it for myself in private over and over again to my hearts content without restriction.  When I decide to make it public, then there are conditions.

Let’s say you put on a live performance, and I make a video recording (with your knowledge and permission).  From that moment, I then own the exclusive rights to that video recording.  HOWEVER, you are the subject, your music is recorded in it, and you own the exclusive rights to your image and your music.  So, although I have the rights to the video recording, and I can play it over and over again for myself, I would have to have your permission to publish it.  By the same token, although you own the rights to your image and your music, I own the actual video recording, so you would also require permission from me to publish it, even though it’s your image and your music in the video.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, so this is just my somewhat-educated opinion of how the legal rights of live performance recording should be interpreted.  If you have anything to add, then please let us know!

Which IT Maintenance Strategy is Best?

computer maintenanceWhich IT maintenance strategy is best for your computer systems and your business?

Computer systems are a significant investment, and an integral component to your business processes. What kind of maintenance is required to keep your information safe and your systems running in optimal condition?  Upon reviewing the different maintenance strategies listed below, consider what your business is currently doing.  Every organization utilizes one or more of these strategies.


Corrective Maintenance: This is the “default” strategy for Information System maintenance. Many business leaders will wait until they have a problem with a computer system before they will take any action to correct the issue. Corrective maintenance is only performed after a system or component has failed. This behavior is most common, and whether intentional or not, it is a strategy. Just as, when you choose to do nothing, you still have made a choice. This strategy is used in an effort to achieve economical efficiency – in theory, spending is only required when corrective action is required (but, this is not necessarily true in every case).  While this method may fit for some systems or components, it is not recommended as an overall strategy for your critical business systems.

Predictive Maintenance: When we are given signs that something might fail soon, we replace the item. In this case, we have performed predictive maintenance. For example, if a hard drive in a 4-year-old PC begins to make an odd noise or speeds up and slows down while running, we replace the drive before it has a chance to fail.

Preventative Maintenance:  Updating or replacing a system, component or application before any signs of failure appear.  Information systems are routinely evaluated and updated for security, productivity and effectiveness to your business plan.  Preventative maintenance is most commonly performed on software and data applications, but is also done for hardware. Let’s say the PC in the above hard drive failure example has a practical life of 3 years.  So, we replace the PC as it becomes 3 years old, even before it shows any signs of component failure, also mitigating downtime and preventing productivity loss due to aging hardware.  A much more common example is when we update your security software with the latest releases from the developer in an effort to prevent a harmful attack on your system.  Some preventative maintenance is required under Massachusetts information protection laws.

Scheduled Maintenance: Scheduled maintenance is simply planned preventative maintenance.

Operational Maintenance: Operational Maintenance involves tasks that can be performed by the users of the computer systems. This helps keep the system running properly in between scheduled or preventative maintenance. An example of this might be when a Microsoft Outlook user routinely runs the archive function of this e-mail application. It doesn’t require any special skills to do this, and it helps to conserve file space and improve the application’s performance.

Choosing Your Strategy

Many businesses are operating mostly in the Corrective Maintenance mode, simply because this is the default strategy and requires no effort to plan. The business leaders utilizing this strategy are usually relying on their past history of not experiencing many problems, or perhaps not evaluating the cost of the problems they have encountered. The upside to adopting this strategy is that, in most cases, it requires little maintenance spending in the short term. However, the downside to this strategy is the fact that all hardware will fail at some point, and systems will lag behind productivity requirements, develop security risks or become compromised by malware. This strategy does not enable the business to effectively plan for the associated costs, productivity and potential opportunity losses.

A good maintenance plan will usually involve each of the above strategies. Carefully choosing the correct combination of strategic maintenance fitted to the various systems in use will provide your business with the most optimal performance and cost effectiveness. Your maintenance strategy should compliment your business plan and open up opportunities to gain productivity, increase profits and enhance your competitive advantage in the marketplace. If you have any questions about your strategic maintenance, consult an IT expert when developing your plan.

– Bill