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The tax man cometh, and things tend to get busy at SpireTech during November and December.  This year-end appears to be no different.  Oftentimes, equipment availability and delivery times get extended – so plan ahead!  If you are considering some year-end upgrades, please let us know soon so we can get your projects estimated, scheduled, equipment ordered, and installed. 


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used with permission from HP Tech@Work

How can SMB owners determine if workstations are right for them and, if so, how to select the best machines for their particular needs?

Workstations have been around long enough now that it’s safe to start talking about how modern versions of these machines are nothing like the pricey behemoths grandpa used back in the ‘90s.

Today’s workstations are vastly improved with processing, graphics and storage capabilities being enhanced on a continual basis. At the same time, they have become much more compact, mobile, stylish and affordable over the years, with prices on some models starting at less than $1,000.

Considering all these benefits, it should come as little surprise that small- to mid-sized businesses are starting to consider workstations as an alternative to the consumer PCs they’ve traditionally favored.

But how can SMB owners determine if workstations are right for them and, if so, how to select the best machines for their particular needs?  Read more...

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desktop computer with lcd monitor, keyboard, speaker and mouse,Sure, it’s enticing. You’ll save money right now if you run out to your local big box store or hop online and purchase that computer or that combo firewall/wireless router that’s on sale. But is that money saved really worthwhile for your business in the long run?

They say that a penny saved is a penny earned, but when it comes to your businesses technology, that penny saved may cost you a lot more later on down the road.

The main reason is that the majority of equipment sold at the big box stores are for home users and aren’t made for the higher demands of a small business. Think about it—is that combo firewall/wireless router really going to stop a professional hacker from accessing your critical business or customer data, or provide the security to protect your network? It’s not.

Let’s start by taking a look at the most widespread piece of technology throughout any business in the country—the computerRead more...

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money_colorNow is the time to have that chat with your CPA to see if spending any of your hard-earned profit this year may help lower your tax 2013 liability.  In our case, we “saved” about 1/3 the cost on our taxes by spending some of it this year.

The IRS ratchets up the percentage you must pay in a tiered fashion, starting at 15% for $50k to 39% or more for over $100k in profit. Of course, you need to add state, county, and city taxes on top of that.

If you need to do some upgrades before the end of the year, let us know sooner rather than later so we can get the work scheduled before the holidays!

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old-serverDuring the economic downturn, many of our clients deferred server upgrades for longer than is wise or recommended.  Now that the worst of the recession seems over, many companies are replacing aged file servers.  In addition to the usual Windows Server replacement options, we have a new option for you to consider: a Cloud-connected server appliance.

SpireTech’s cloud appliances from Ctera are less expensive than a comparable Windows Server replacement, and offer additional features, such as the ability to work from home or on the road without using a VPN, and easy file collaboration with outside partners and consultants. However, there are some things the appliances don’t do.

As you can see in the table below, there are still many good reasons to own a Windows Server. Many clients need to run specific applications directly on the Windows Server, or need Active Directory functionality for security and control of large amounts of users.  Read more...

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Microsoft Surface

The release of Microsoft’s tablet, Surface, has been causing a lot of ripples in the tech community. The first version is available now, but not many people have got their hands on it yet.  There have been more questions asked  about the different versions, RT and PRO. I’ll try and fill in some of the blanks to give you a better idea of what the differences are and what might work best for you.

Surface RT

The Surface RT is the first Surface (available now) from Microsoft. The major difference is utilizes the ARM CPU architecture, rather than an Intel CPU. This is great for battery life, size and weight, as ARM chips are smaller and require less power. On the other hand, they are not as powerful and cannot be used to run x86 applications. Applications must be designed with the processor architecture in mind, and x86 is the predominant architecture that is in use today, so you cannot install your existing software on a Surface RT.  Read more...

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More rumors emerge from the internet about Microsoft’s Surface tablet. At Microsoft’s TechReady15 conference, they stated all of the retail prices were laid out – the new tablet will become available on October 26th and start at $199. This comes as a pleasant surprise for consumers who were expecting something more in the $600 range. This has ruffled a lot of feathers as it also happens to be well below the likely cost to manufacture it. This mimics the approach seen with Microsoft’s gaming console, XBox, that is also sold below manufacturing costs. The difference is expected to be made up in software and media sales. Three partners (Acer, HP and Toshiba) have already dropped plans to produce competing tablets using Windows RT, the Windows 8 version built specifically for mobile ARM chips. Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Samsung are still on board.

Numerous complaints from manufacturers about the situation boil down to – not only would they would be in direct competition with Microsoft, but they would also still need to purchase licenses from Microsoft to produce the tablets.  Read more...

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The release of the Microsoft operating system, Windows 8, and tablet, Surface, has been announced. October 26th is the date that will set Microsoft’s fate, for better or worse. The backlash from the direction the industry giant is taking has already begun. Most of the flack comes from partner manufacturers that feel slighted by the Surface tablet and secondly by software developers that say Windows 8 is a ‘catastrophe’.

The ire over Surface comes from Partners that had previously enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with Microsoft; providing a hardware platform that allowed both Microsoft and hardware manufacturers to benefit from success. Now Microsoft will be competing directly with these manufacturers in the market place – similar to the model Apple has. This removes a lot of incentive to bend over backward to support the Windows platform.

Developers are also voicing their frustrations about Windows 8 and how difficult it is to provide a consistent user experience.  Read more...

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Both Microsoft and Google presented a new tablet in the last few weeks of June. Over the coming months we’ll explore the features and flaws of these devices as more detail is exposed.

There will be time to explore the differences as we highlight each of these devices but there is a large similarity to be seen so far – Cloud Storage. Both companies have seen the release of their own cloud storage networks for access to documents, pictures, and music on all your devices; these tablets are no exception. Both integrate their respective cloud storage to improve reliability and mobility.

Both will be struggling against the juggernaut, Apple, for user’s attention. There is no question that the iPad is the leader of the pack in the tablet arena. The question is – will Google and Microsoft been able to set themselves apart from Apple with their features. This is more of a larger surprise from Microsoft than Google as Microsoft has mainly stood square in the realm of producing software rather than physical appliances.  Read more...

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A relatively new startup in the bay, Leap Motion, has been causing a stir as they have unveiled the fruits of this last year’s labor – an affordable, fast, motion detection system for the PC and Mac. It has already been hailed as the final blow to the mouse. Since the release of Minority Report there has been a fascination with motion detection user input. Developers instantly saw it’s ability to change the way we interact with and control electronics. Nintendo struck the first blow with the Wii gaming console which detects the motion of a remote. Then, Microsoft released the Kinect for XBox, their gaming console, which can detect the motion of an arm or a leg. Leap Motion is 100 times more accurate, seeing details down to the movement of a single finger. They claim it will be the most accurate sensor available on the market.

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