TechPublishing Now MS Certified

TechPublishing Now MS Certified
Professor Robert McMillen, MBA Microsoft Certified Trainer and Solutions Expert

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

VTech called me years before they got hacked

Being in IT consulting I never know who will call me out of the blue.
About ten years ago I got a call from VTech about their computer network. I was reminded of this when I read about VTech getting hacked recently.

Their US HQ isn't far from where my office is so I drove over to see them in Beaverton on Nimbus to review the problem.

At that time they were having tremendous problems with their Active Directory. I didn't sign any non disclosure documents with them but I won't give away too much of their setup either. They were having replication issues between their main office and all their satellite offices. This basically means that if they create a new user or computer object in active directory in one location it doesn't replicate to the other locations timely, or at all.

Over time this not only can cause problems with users and devices logging in, but if their domain controllers don't communicate on a regular basis they can go into a tombstone state. This means that they no longer recognize each other as being in charge and start fighting with each other.

On top of that they had DNS issues because they were using a Unix server to resolve DNS names instead of a Windows server. This required many changes to the Unix server they didn't want to do themselves. They also didn't want to move to a Windows DNS server because they didn't know the ramifications even though I explained it to them. I gave them the quote to fix their issues and they balked.

It was going to take weeks and some downtime to fix it right and they didn't like that either, so they declined. I assumed they found another consultant at some point but about a year or so later they called me back in. They had the exact same problems and needed me to re quote it all to fix it again. This time they were in even worse shape so the quote turned out to be even higher.

They once again declined and decided to try to figure it out themselves or just let it be.
I ended up never working on a single device or software issue.

I could tell they were very distressed over this but I couldn't help them if they didn't have the money or desire to fix it. Now it will cost them millions of dollars to fix their security, among other things, and they are facing jail time in Asian countries. They also have lost the customer's trust.

Let this be a lesson to all companies that your network and your security is more than just a couple of server boxes that sit in a dusty hot closet. Many companies go out of business by treating their IT like the trash.

They also make the mistake of putting everything in the cloud with companies that are getting hacked themselves. With some thoughtful planning, and spending a little money now, you can literally save your company from being destroyed.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Apple will stop making Macintosh?

Rumors are swirling around Apple as the Macintosh division is emptying out according to our sources. They are moving over to other new and exciting projects that actually make money, or will soon like the Apple car. That will likely mean the end of Macintosh. 

Apple has never really cracked the 10% saturation point with personal computers so it would make sense that it's time to stop making the Mac. Mac was my first personal computers in the days when PCs were called IBM clones and Apple computers were just Macs.
I loved it because I didn't have to be a programmer to use it.
I tried a short stint with Basic on a Timex Sinclair and hated it.

So why do I not have a problem with Apple killing off the Mac? Since I use computers in the enterprise clients with Macs drive us crazy. It is like putting a Chevy engine in a Ford car. Yes you can get it to work,  but it will never work correctly.

There are non stop problems with errors, timeouts, and the worst is that Apple locks down the speed to 20 Mbs no matter how fast your connection is.

If they want to keep it as a home computer that is fine by me, but I  hope it does a horrible death soon in companies that use them. Nothing can repay the hours of banging my head over Apple's incompetence. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

How about Dell buying HP's computer business?

Dell has done very well after going private. HP has not done so well staying public. Dell bought EMC which is great for EMC. EMC would have collapsed eventually otherwise. Why? because SMB and Mid Market are not buying them anymore. They are going to the cloud. Enterprise will still buy them if they have a compelling reason to not move to Amazon or Azure's cloud.

HP hasn't been able to figure out what people or businesses want in the computer industry since Fiorina took over Compaq.  They are only making money in the consulting business, so dump it like IBM did on Lenovo (which BTW Lenovo is doing horribly with that decision).

The thing is that Dell would be the perfect buyer. Michael Dell still knows how to sell computers and he would be the only one who could save it in America. Some Chinese companies could also keep it going but won't do it as well.

Now that IBM have figured out that service is the only way to go let's go back and find out how that happened. IBM bought the Management and Consulting services division at PriceWaterhouse before the merger with Cooper and Lybrand. They did that after Anderson Consulting was forced to split up their consulting practice from their audit practice after getting caught in the middle of the Enron scandal. They were burning the paperwork like Nazis at the end of WW2. I don't say that lightly either. The Nazis killed millions of people, but Enron, assisted by Anderson, ruined the lives of countless people and burned their retirement savings. This caused millions of people to die early deaths from stress and poverty. Yet we didn't hang any of them. Pity.

I am glad I was able to restore the email files from the Enron criminals that helped put them away. And that is your six degrees of separation for the day.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Don't feel bad for Sony

Months ago Sony was hacked and caused them a huge loss with the Playstation unit when it was taken down for over a week, again.
People started feeling bad for Sony and their PS4's started outselling the Xbox One.
I personally don't think you should feel bad for Sony. Their former CEO called Americans "Lazy" among other things.
They created a virus on their music CDs, when people used to buy that stuff. The virus would activate when you put the disc in your computer so you wouldn't copy their music. It was so good that many of the advanced virus threats we have today were built on that virus written several years ago.
Now they have purchased a a company that is a gaming service called OnLive. They are grabbing the patents and shutting down the service. Not only that but they have no plans to refund anyone for what they have prepaid for the gaming service. I think the FTC will have something to say about that.
No more feeling sorry for them. Their lax security cost millions of people their identities, and they are acting just like many of Putin's oligarchs.