Microsoft is ending support for major products. Are you affected?

We’re reaching another round of ending software lifecycles from Microsoft. Here is a brief summary of the following products that will no longer be supported in 2020.

January 14, 2010
– Windows 7
– Windows Server 2008 & 2008 R2
– Hyper-V Server 2008 & 2008 R2
– Exchange Server 2010 (all editions)

October 13, 2020
– Office 2010 (all versions)
– Office 2016 for Mac (all versions)

What does this mean?
When Microsoft ends support on products, they no longer give free or paid technical support but more importantly you no longer receive any updates from Microsoft. This includes further security updates as well, leaving you vulnerable to any security flaws that are discovered and exploited.

I already have a working Windows 7 computer, why can’t I upgrade to Windows 10?
The short answer is, you can. But newer operating systems require more system resources and your system may slow down dramatically to the point where it us unusable and problems usually occur with programs when you do an upgrade install from one version of Windows to another. This is why we recommend purchasing updated hardware.

I am still running on Office 2010, what do I need to do?
If you’re running on Windows 7, see above. If you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1, you can upgrade to Office 2013 or 2016 but Office 2019 is not supported on Windows 8 / 8.1 either. We recommend upgrading your computer to Windows 10 to support Office 2019 and later versions.

I’m running on Windows Server 2008/2008R2, what should I do?
You’ll need to purchase updated server hardware with a software license to Server 2012 R2, 2016 or 2019. We would recommend 2019 since it’s the latest version. Afterwards you’ll need to migrate from the old server to the new one.

My environment still uses Exchange 2010, what will it take to get us updated?
Unfortunately there is no way to jump straight to Exchange 2019 as it’s not supported. You would have to migrate to Exchange 2013 or 2016 first, then make the jump to 2019. You will most likely need new hardware for 2019 as well. The main reason being is Exchange 2019 can only be installed on Windows Server 2019 and requires a minimum of 128GB of RAM.

Along with this however, there are other environmental requirements:
– All domain controllers need to be running at least Server 2012 R2, 2016 or 2019.
– The AD functional level should be Windows Server 2012 R2 or higher.

How do we fix this?
For all instances, we recommend you upgrading your hardware and software to support all the latest technology standards, but you don’t have to do it alone. OmniSpear is here to help you with all your migration needs from a single computer to a multi-server, enterprise environment, we have the technical knowledge and experience to prepare you for the next generation of technology.

Give us a call today at (937) 643-4037 or (513) 834-8654 or contact us here.


Practice Making Money, Not Spending Money

Basecamp CEO Jason Fried talks about taking an “intentionally small” approach to building a business for the long-term on a recent episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher.

Listening to Basecamp CEO Jason Fried on a recent episode of Recode Decode, we’re inspired to think differently about our relationships with our custom software development clients.

In the interview, Fried talks with Swisher about being intentionally small and the risk of growing too big, too fast.  Losing money for years to fuel fast growth is accepted, even expected. Fried’s warning: “By the time you finally need to actually make money, you don’t have any skills. You don’t know how to make money because all you know how to do is spend it.”

Listen to the whole podcast or skip to minute 35:30 to hear the discussion about being intentionally small and focusing on intentional growth.

Whether you’re launching a new business or growing a small one, you’ll be spending money on infrastructure.  In today’s world, some or most of that will be invested in custom software — even if you’re not a technology company. How you schedule that investment can make a difference.

OmniSpear has experience growing profitably since 2001.  And we’re open to talking about scaling that giant custom software project into a series of smaller projects to fit within your intentional growth budget. Listen. Develop. Deliver.

Contact OmniSpear for your custom software development needs.

Outsourcing Custom Software Development

You’ve decided to invest in technology to take your company to the next level. Now what? OmniSpear shares its perspective about outsourcing custom software and mobile app development.

Eighteen years of custom software development experience provides perspective. The growth of cloud computing, the power of bandwidth and advancements in programming languages have increased the complexity of software development and created pressure for companies to invest in technology to remain accessible to their customers. A website is no longer enough. Both consumers and business-to-business customers are enticed by customized online and mobile connections tailored to their specific needs and interests.

Creating customized connections requires more than a CMS with a shopping cart plugin.  Many small and medium-sized businesses are investing in custom software solutions and mobile applications to create unique experiences for their customers.  And some have the opportunity monetize the connection through the creation of subscription-based services known as SaaS.

Embarking on a custom software development project is a very different endeavor than designing a website.  Website mechanics are pretty well set and the key to success is good graphic design and marketing content. A well resourced marketing department and website development partner can successfully launch a new website for a company.

With custom software, mobile apps and SaaS offerings, the development project will draw upon operational and technical experts within the company as well as marketing.  A successful development partner carefully listens to the needs of all company stakeholders and coordinates the differing perspectives as they relate to the project goals.

Across eighteen years, OmniSpear has been in the trenches with hundreds of clients.  Won some. Lost some. And through these experiences, OmniSpear knows what it takes to succeed. Listen. Develop. Deliver.

Contact OmniSpear for your custom software development needs.

Delivering Value for Clients

New relationships begin with excitement and optimism about the future.  In custom application development, new client relationships are no different.  Clients start out with clear goals and management consensus to invest in growth or efficiency for their company.  Development teams commit to aggressive timetables and provide glowing references from previous clients.  Over the course of a project, maintaining open lines of communication and building trust are key to sustaining that initial optimism and excitement through the inevitable rough patches and to building momentum necessary for successful project delivery.

OmniSpear works with start-up and seasoned businesses to develop custom software applications.  Successful projects deliver real value to the client.  Depending on the client’s goals, value can mean expanded customer reach, improved efficiency, increased functionality, greater competitiveness, more security and much more.

software developers Ohio

 Most importantly though delivering value to a client means completing a project to spec and within the time-frame and budget agreed upon by both client and development team.

Read about OmniSpear’s work with Intellicasting, a start-up that began in 2015 and is still going strong today.  Find out how OmniSpear delivered value by designing and developing a cloud-based SaaS mobile and web application launching Intellicasting from start-up to profitable online subscription management system for the quick-service restaurant industry.

Coding Standards & Reviews – Our Motivation

Developing “clean” code is very important for any web / mobile application development firm, and making maintainable, readable, and documented code helps OmniSpear keep a competitive edge and a superior product. Our team has a strong focus on coding standards and cleanliness. This disciplined approach gives both our developers and our clients the benefit of clean, robust, and maintainable code.

Our Motivation

As a firm focused on its clients and developers, OmniSpear prides itself on delivering clean, robust, and maintainable code. This is the drive that led us to introduce our own set of coding standards, following best practices as well as some additional “secret sauce”.

Image result for coding standard memeCoding Standards are important for a number of reasons. Some reasons include:

  1. The cost of maintenance is directly affected by the cleanliness and the amount of documentation in the code
  2. Code sometimes changes ownership, and the cost of cross-training can be expensive. With documented code, there is less training
  3. And obviously, coding standards improve the quality of code by making it easier to understand and improving readability.

 

Code Reviews

Like any set of rules or guidelines they have to be enforced. Our internal process requires all new code to be checked for standards compliance by another team member before being made live to the customer / world. The time and money spent on doing code reviews has proven time and time again to be well worth it. Some of the core benefits include:

  1. Another set of eyes on the code / project is insurance for us and our clients. If one our developers goes on vacation or gets hit by a bus, the other developer(s) that did the code review will be able to pick up where they left off.
  2. We catch all kinds of things! After all we’re human and make mistakes. Two or more sets of eyes is always better than one.

 

Spotting Fake Profiles on Facebook

Facebook’s social network now consists of over 2 billion users. Not all of them are real people and not all of them have your best interest in mind. Facebook attempts to weed them out automatically using advanced algorithms. Many fake accounts still get through. In the first three months of 2018, Facebook cleared out 583 million fake accounts.

Why is it important to spot fake accounts and what is the motivation for them? Generally speaking, fake accounts are attempting to either gather your personal information, to direct you to sites full of clickbait, or to sell you other services. So how do you spot them and what should you do about it?

Spotting fake accounts is getting more difficult as the perpetrators’ techniques become more advanced. Some accounts are quite convincing, but there are a few tell-tale signs you can look out for..

  1. Profile Photos – Many fake accounts have only one or two profile photos available. Often times there will be a caption with an external website link – this is a dead giveaway. Take a look at when they uploaded the pictures and if it was within a few days of the request, chances are the account is not real. Also look to see if there are any likes or comments on the pictures. It’s very rare that a user will upload a profile picture and not have any friends respond to it.
  2. Friends – Most fake profiles only exist for a short time before they are reported. Therefore, it’s rare for those profiles to gather many friends – especially ‘Mutual Friends’. If an account has only one or two mutual friends, proceed with caution and dig a bit deeper into the publicly visible information. When in doubt, ask your mutual friends to see if they know the profile personally.
  3. Profile Activity – Even the most locked-down private profiles will have some activity visible to someone who has been sent a friend request. Take a look at their timeline. If it goes from their automatically generated birthday post directly to the post showing their profile pic, chances are very high that you are looking at a fake account.

fake facebook profiles

This is a good example of a fake account profile. Notice that Ms. Smith was born in 1956. In all that time, there is no public activity on her timeline. Also, she is extremely young looking for someone supposedly 60+ years old!

Fake accounts are rampant throughout social media and most are used for unethical marketing purposes. When one crosses your path, do everyone a favor and report the profile using the tools provided within Facebook. Look for the three dots on the profile picture and select the ‘Report’ option. Follow the instructions and help clean up the network for all of us real users!

Do You Even Petaflop Bro? The USA Now Has the World’s Fastest Supercomputer!

As of June 8, 2018 the fastest supercomputer in the world is now active at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Developed by IBM, the OLCF-4 or Summit supercomputer has been clocked at 200 petaflops. That’s 200 quadrillion operations per second! The Summit is 8 times more powerful than the previous system called Titan. This advanced computing technology is currently being used by the ORNL and also the US Department of Veterans Affairs for clinical research.

The Summit’s advanced architecture is helping them understand the genetic factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease, suicide, Alzheimer’s disease and more. Along with medical research, the Summit will also assist in our understanding of the universe, bolster US economic competitiveness and contribute to a better future.

ORNL has created a great infographic that helps illustrate the scale of this machine!

Summit Infographic

Star Trek Tech That Actually Exists?

As members of the tech community, we are always on the look out for the newest gadget or emerging technology. We are also fans of the science fiction genre, so occasionally our worlds collide and fiction starts to become reality. One of our favorite franchises is Star Trek and many of the items in that series have begun to appear in real life. Here’s a short list of some of our favorites:

1. Tablet Computers

The PADD or Personal Access Display Device is a hand-held computer interface used throughout the space-faring organizations within the Star Trek universe. PADDs are often used for a variety of functions including crew manifests, duty rosters, diagnostics, personal logs and more. In 2010, the PADD became a reality with the introduction of Apple’s iPad. This lightweight and powerful computing tool has worked its way into our daily lives with its ability to take photos, video, play music and support countless applications and games. As of March 2016 the App Store hosted over one million apps for the device.

2. Personal Communicators

Throughout the Star Trek series, whenever a crew member was away from the ship, they had the ability to phone home using their communicators. These handheld devices would flip open revealing an antenna, controls, a speaker and microphone. In later series this device was scaled down to fit as a badge worn on the uniforms of the crew members. In 1996 Motorola introduced the StarTAC, a clamshell design often referred to as the first ever flip phone. This device was almost identical in looks and functionality to the original series communicator, but of course, was not able to call any starships as that would require additional satellite technology. Bluetooth technology, however, has advanced to provide us similar interfaces for our mobile phones that work similar to the com-badges found in the later Trek series.

3. Replicators

One of the almost magical devices found in the Trek universe is the replicator. It has the ability to reproduce nearly anything from just a digital blueprint. Today, we have 3D printers which may not be at the same level as their fictional counterparts, but still offer a surprising amount of practical functionality. The cost of 3D printing has dropped dramatically in recent years making them commonly useful for printing replacement parts or prototype models.

Star Trek may not have inspired the development of all these devices but the show certainly popularized the concepts. Many scientists have certainly been inspired by the adventures of Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. We look forward to seeing other Trek inspired technology develop into the real world.

The Benefits of Providing a Quality Mobile Experience

Mobile web traffic surpassed desktops back in late 2015. Since that time, mobile device usage has skyrocketed with 57% of all web traffic now mobile. More than ever before, people have a higher expectation of their mobile experience with brands on their phone. Every experience matters and with users primarily interacting on their phones, it’s more important than ever to get it right.

We have a few observations and tips that you should focus on to help your users have a quality mobile experience. One of the biggest complaints from mobile users is that they have a ‘slow experience’. Google provides a testing tool to address this and will report how well your site performs in a mobile environment.

Finding the information that a user is looking for is also critical for having a successful mobile presence. Simplifying the site navigation on mobile devices is part of the solution. Incorporating a ‘hamburger’ menu with direct links to important information is something we incorporate into all our responsive web sites.

Interrupting the mobile experience should be done with great caution. Pop-ups and full-screen ads that block people from seeing your content contribute to a negative mobile experience. On a desktop it may be easy to just ‘click off’ an ad but on mobile is may completely lock the viewer out of seeing any relevant information. The Coalition for Better Ads provides some good insight into the least preferred ad experiences for desktop and mobile web.

With rapid advances in technology and users spending more and more time on their smartphones, providing a quality mobile experience is key to your online success.

Welcoming a New Member to the Team…

Desktop support DaytonIt’s a bit of a tradition for us to shower gifts upon newborns in the office. When we heard the news that a baby was on the way, we scrambled to get some custom gear printed immediately!

Our go-to vendor for short-run custom printing is Zazzle. The people at Zazzle are equipped to customize nearly anything you can think of using their state-of-the art equipment and technology.

We added something special to this onesie and t-shirt combo since the father is one of our support techs. There’s nothing wrong with teaching them early!