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Friday, October 28, 2011
Scott Miller, Network Engineer
I have been using Windows 7 for a while. From the beginning, I have liked the “snapping a window” feature, which while simple, is pretty cool. With the feature, you can Snap windows to size by dragging them to the edges of your screen. Read more about snap at: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/snap.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Dave Mims, President

Sophicity was a sponsor for the 4th Annual Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade Golf Tournament held Monday October 17, 2011 in Dublin, GA at the beautiful Riverview Park Golf Course. The proceeds from the tournament will go toward the Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade charity event in December.

Yalonde Tanner from GMA summed it up best, “For the first time in 4 years Sophicity did not make last place”. Yes, a Cinderella story. Every year until 2011, we have driven, swung, swung, putted, putted, and putted our way into last place. But not this year! I chose to step aside and let Clint Nelms, Sophicity’s Network Infrastructure Practice Manager, and Michael Kappel, Sophicity’s Senior Network Engineer (aka Mr. Sophicity Golf) compete. Definitely a good move, one of improvement for the team… ;-)

Every year, the Mayors' Christmas Motorcade provides gifts during the holidays for patients at Georgia's mental health and retardation hospitals. The golf tournament is essential for raising money for the Motorcade, and Sophicity proudly supports GMA’s efforts to help Georgia’s less fortunate during the holiday season.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Todd Snoddy, Senior Software Developer
With the ongoing rise of mobile device usage even for non-technical users, many organizations are choosing to provide services to their customers or constituents through the use of mobile apps.  People who are responsible for making decisions about creating and deploying those mobile apps will likely face the decision about whether to provide native or web-based mobile apps.  I was recently evaluating both approaches for a customer’s project and came across a good summarized comparison of the two.  You can read more about it here.
In a nutshell, as technologies like HTML 5 continue to evolve and be supported by modern mobile devices, the feature gap between native and web based apps is growing smaller.  An organization needs to really consider what types of features their apps need to support, and who their target audience is, and then choose the best platform with those needs in mind.  Unless an app needs maximum performance for high speed graphics or access to specific device hardware, a web based app is likely to provide the most value for the development cost.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Dave Mims, President
Sophicity recently published Online Payments Can Reduce Cost, Increase Quality in the September-October 2011 issue of Minnesota Cities magazine. The magazine is published by the League of Minnesota Cities and focuses on a variety of contemporary municipal issues. We encourage you to read the complete article and also visit the League of Minnesota Cities online.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Dave Mims, President
Just returned from the IT Summit in Little Rock Arkansas. This was the 10th anniversary meeting of the SMC. What a great trip regrouping once again with the collective Municipal League ThinkTank from across many of our states. So much covered in three days spanning enterprise imaging, securing the consumerization of IT devices being pushed on our networks, cloud computing, VOIP, Office 365, cloud based backup and DR, and much much more. My head is still swimming from this very bright group of technology leaders... Good technology, good food, and very good conversations. :)
Friday, October 21, 2011
Clint Nelms, Network Infrastructure Practice Manager

As technology and hackers become more and more sophisticated, IT security teams have to keep a closer eye on their networks, making sure an electronic attack does not destroy their sites or important data. For state and local government agencies, it is critical that CIOs and other team members understand the security threats, and most importantly, how to keep the IT environments safe.

The question is, are you up to speed on your cyber-security essentials? I recently read an AT&T white paper, titled “Cyber-Security Essentials for State and Local Government” and was able to take away several key points about cyber-security on the state and government level:

·         Network and IT Infrastructure Security. A successful attack can cripple a network, compromise sensitive data, attract negative publicity and be costly to remediate. It could lead to fines and civil lawsuits. Guarding your network and IT infrastructure requires vigilance. How can you stay prepared?

o    Assess Your Needs

o    Assess Your Current Infrastructure

o    Classify and Evaluate Data

o    Evaluate Security Infrastructure for a Move to the Cloud

·         Vulnerability and Threat Management. Vulnerability and threat management requires continuous monitoring, collecting and analysis of security event data. It’s about knowing your infrastructure well, and knowing what attacks could do it harm. It’s looking at trends and identifying new types of attacks. 

How can you keep your network safe?

o    Proper employee training

o    Careful authentication and authorization of those using your network and resources, intrusion detection and prevention

o    Proper defense against DDoS attacks

These are just a few pointers. For a more detailed list, be sure to read the complete AT&T white paper here.

Friday, October 21, 2011
Quan Ouyang, Senior Software Developer
I recently participated in a discussion and hands on exploration of Code-First which is included in the Entity Framework 4.1 release. Code-First provides a convention over configuration approach to development that is very code-centric instead of existing Database First and Model First patterns. You simply define your database or object models by writing plain old classes. Radical, right? ;-)
For more info refer to the MSDN website for the latest on Entity Framework and Code First video tutorials (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/data/ef).
Friday, October 14, 2011
Dave Mims, President

There’s been a lot of rumbling about the cloud lately. In a June blog, I pointed out some stats on cloud usage and security issues in the cloud. And in August, TechAmerica Foundation formed a commission of industry experts on cloud adoption.

The Foundation’s commission, or CLOUD2/SLG (for short), was established as a resource for state and local government looking for recommendations on a variety of cloud issues, including procurement practices, delivery of services and deployment. Recommendations provided by CLOUD2/SLG will help municipalities rapidly access and deploy cloud solutions as a way to streamline their IT costs.

An important component missing from CLOUD2/SLG is SLG representation itself. When asked why SLGs weren’t included, TechAmerica officials didn’t have an answer. However, they did create an advisory board of government officials to work with the commission. The list of advisors was announced October 6.

Although the lack of SLG presence might not make sense, it’s good to see a commission that understands the value of cloud computing on the state and local level.

Thursday, October 13, 2011
Dave Mims, President

Will your IT costs remain within budget this year?  Did they last year?  What about the year before?

If your IT spending has not been within budget, you have a problem.

Predictable annual IT spending is possible. Our customers realize it year after year…

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Dave Mims, President

I read articles like this that have good recommendations, but I am of the opinion that there is more to it than just the need for policy. Especially when you consider that it is sadly too common for IT to be addressed reactively. Reactive implies neglect.

Neglect in an organization is allowed, or even driven top-down, by the decision makers (the leadership). If the leadership doesn’t feel it is important then it doesn’t get done. It gets neglected. But, when something breaks or is compromised, a rush is made to put out the fires. Therefore, neglect is an intentional decision to put our fires, potentially very costly fires... Following even the most basic of IT best practices will contribute toward a stable IT environment for municipalities and businesses to operate in order to provide their services reliably to customers.

What do you plan to do when your unsupported dated server crashes, no backups work, a virus outbreak is identified (after months), accounting data has been compromised, customer data has been compromised, and yes even an earthquake or devastating storm hits like what has been seen recently up the east coast.  Who will your citizens turn to?  Who will your customers turn to?

Be intentional, but not negligent…

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