By Bryan McNee at

Top 5 Reasons to use a MSP for IT

5 Reasons to Use a Managed Services Provider

One of the questions that I get over and over again is, “Why should we use your, or any, managed services provider?” Typically they ask this because they perceive that it would be better and more cost effective for them just to contact us as their technology issues arise (Break/Fix).

Unfortunately there is a common misconception that having their technology under a managed services agreement is like buying insurance… that they would be paying for something they may or may not use. Not so.

Here are 5 compelling reasons to use a Managed Services Provider.

1  A Managed Services Provider (MSP) will take a proactive approach to managing your tech infrastructure. No more break/fix putting out fires. While you can’t fix everything proactively a MSP worth their weight in salt will proactively identify most , if not all, issues and correct them prior to being a problem. Much easier on the nerves with employees being more productive. Ultimately, this will save your company time and money. A good thing.

2  One of the most important pieces of managed services is the Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA explains and promises how and when the MSP will respond to the customized needs of your company. On the other hand, with break/fix services there is not an SLA and typically no guarantee of when the service will be provided. You can easily see that not having a managed service agreement with a SLA could cost your company time and money in lost productivity.

3  This is where the rub is with most companies as a typical managed services agreement is based upon a consistent monthly fee. With that said, in reality, this helps your company keep costs in line and makes budgeting much easier. With an MSP, dealing with unexpected expenses goes away. They now can be handled and dealt with in a timely budgeted manner. Let’s face it the unexpected always happens at the worst time. An MSP can help you get that under control.

4  Partnering with a reputable Managed Services Provider can be far less expensive than hiring, training, and retaining your own IT staff. For the companies that do not have IT staff, do you really want your bookkeeper as the IT “go-to-person”? Really? Using managed services allows that staff member to focus on your company’s business, instead of IT, which is always better for the bottom line.

5  Even if your business has an existing IT staff it can still benefit from managed services. An MSP can complement the internal IT staff by off-loading some of the day to day operations and management of the network and software. What a benefit to your company by allowing your IT staff to focus on other needs. Another big bonus is it can eliminate the necessity of making a large investment in infrastructure management tools since the Managed Services Provider already has these in place typically.

To learn more about the benefits of managed services to your company, email me at bryan@mcneesolutions.com

By Bryan McNee at

YouTube Offering Live TV Streaming

YouTube is finally getting into the skinny bundle wars, competing against Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Netflix and a host of others looking to grab consumers who want great television, but don’t want to pay for what they don’t watch.

At $35 a month, consumers in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and two other cities (with more to come down the line) can now get access to 50 channels of all different kinds of content -- news, sports, entertainment and more -- to whet their whistles and cut down on expenses or grab people who would never have paid for television in the first place.

Even though the service doesn’t have as many channels in its bundle as its competitors -- something Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves said “would have appealed to a much bigger portion of the U.S. population” it does have something going for it that some of its competition doesn’t have -- access to the major broadcast networks.

Aside from Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC, Youtube has more than 1 billion people watching videos on the platform, something its competitors also can’t match.

But what else does it have?

For $35 a month, consumers can get channels like ESPN, USA, Fox News, FX, NBCSN, SEC Network and a host of others. (For every channel available, click here.)

After looking at the channels offered by the service, YouTube TV appears as if it is trying to appeal to sports enthusiasts, but there are some glaring omissions. There are no deals with Turner properties such as TBS or TNT, which have the MLB and NBA playoffs, March Madness and other sports coverage.

There are also channels that can be added on to the service, like Showtime for $11 a month or Fox Soccer Plus for $15 a month. Currently, YouTube TV doesn’t offer HBO as an add-on like other over-the-top streaming services do, but YouTube and Google said in early March they were hopeful they would get access to it.

It also comes bundled with unlimited DVR, the ability to share your membership with up to 6 accounts, no cancellation fees and perhaps most importantly, the ability to watch on any device (including a free Chromecast for signing up).

At $35 a month, it’s far less expensive than the traditional $100 a month cable bundle offered from companies like Comcast, Spectrum, Charter and others, who are working on offering their own skinny bundles as well.

It’s still early days for these over-the-top services, but YouTube is hoping that by appealing to sports fans and making it easy to get access to the broadcast networks, it will differentiate itself from the competition enough to hold onto subscribers.

By Craig Collins at

Reasons to choose Serendipity blogging framework

  • Robust Editing Interface

    Featuring an integrated image manager, extended entry support and a host of other features. Write with a WYSIWYG editor or use any markup language you like, including Markdown and Textile.

     

  • Anti-Spam

    Fight spam in comments and trackbacks with Akismet, Honeypots, word filters, a local learning bayes filter, captchas or full moderation. Those means are provided by and extensible with plugins.

     

  • Dynamic

    You don’t need to constantly wait while your weblogging system regenerates pages. Caching is dynamically managed, so you don’t need to worry about it. Optional advanced URL rewriting rules and customizable permalinks are available.

  • Trackbacks and Pingbacks

    Serendipity can accept, send and autodiscover trackbacks and pingbacks. You will be noticed when you react to articles in other blogs, and you will be notified when another blogger links to an article of yours. It is not a CMS, but a real Blog.

  • Plugins

    A robust plugin system allows you to modify Serendipity without digging through the core source code. Sidebar plugins allow easy customization of your blog with dozens of features. Event plugins can hook into any place in s9y to make it one of the most flexible APIs available.

    Powerful plugins exist for maintaining static page content, displaying galleries, making rss aggregators, ldap authentication, customized template view, multilingual content and much more.

  • Themes

    Several themes are included by default, making it easy to everyone to change the look of the blog. For advanced users, the full flexibility of the Smarty templating engine allows to change every aspect of the Serendipity look.

     
  • Online Repository

    Both plugins and themes use our online repository Spartacus, installing them takes a few mouseclicks and no manual file upload! Spartacus also takes care of plugin updates.

  • Internationalized

    Serendipity is available in English, German, Danish, French and many more, and adding new translations is a snap.

  • Catalogue your entries

    Nested categories and posting to multiple categories are supported, and so are tags.

  • XML-RPC Editing

    Support for both the Movable Type and Blogger XML-RPC API.

  • Multiple Databases

    Serendipity supports MySQL, PostgreSQL and SQLite database backends.

  • Multiple Users

    Multiple users can edit and administrate the weblog. A permission system controls which user is allowed to do what.

  • Standards Compliant

    Serendipity supports HTML5, CSS3, RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0. Supports conditional GET for caching RSS feeds on the client-side. It also supports UTF-8 environments.

  • Shared Installation

    You can use Serendipity as a single installation to serve multiple and independent weblogs, but only maintaining a single codebase.

  • Easy Upgrading

    An easy and automatic upgrader helps you in the process of upgrading between Serendipity versions.

  • PHP-powered

    To fulfill the needs of ever-growing PHP-enabled websites and easy integration with support of embedding Serendipity into your webpage.

  • Open Source

    Serendipity is licensed under the BSD License. You get the code and are free to modify it and to do whatever you want with the result.

  • Actively maintained

    By some skilled and open-minded developers who give support on the Forums as well as listen to every new user suggestion.

 

By Craig Collins at

Integrating Serendipity Blog Framework with Codeigniter

s9y's Serendipity blogging framework supports an embedded mode so that it can be inserted into your existing web site.  But what about a site using CodeIgniter's MVC framework?

Embedding the Serendipity blog is explained fairly well here. We modify that method slightly so that the blog.php file that you create contains the following:

<?php
   ob_start();
   chdir("../www/blog");
   require("index.php");
   global $contents;
   $contents = ob_get_clean();
   chdir("../");

Next, the controller name matches the subdirectory that the blog is installed in. For example, a site which uses /blog would create a controller named Blog. This controller would contain the following code OUTSIDE of the the class definition (but within the file)

global $contents;
require_once("[Path to your blog.php file]");

Lastly, the serendipity contents can be accessed within your controller by accessing the $contents global:

    public function index() {
       global $contents;
       global $serendipity;
      

You will notice I also have a reference to the serendipity global variable. The serendipity global is used to pass information around within the serendipity blog framework and with the method above it is then completely accessible within your controller.  The result is an integration that works unexpectedly well...not just on the surface but within the PHP code, as well.

 

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