Please welcome our newest employee, Ronny, to the team!

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It is always nerve-racking coming into a new company and trying to break the ice. Ensuring that new employees feel comfortable is crucial to building a positive transition within a company. We thought it would be fun to ask Ronny a few questions to get to know him a little better.

Q: What is your official work title?
A: Systems Support Specialist
Q: Can you tell us more about your professional experience/history?
A: Most of my professional experience is as a Software Developer. My most recent job prior to this was as a back-end Software Developer at a startup called Clypd in Boston, MA. I enjoy working with computers and solving problems!
Q: What do you like to do outside of work?
A: I’m somewhat new to the city, so I’ve been enjoying exploring Chicago. Other than that I’ll enjoy relaxing at home and playing some video games.
Q: What is your greatest travel experience?
A: A couple years ago I wanted to travel somewhere different, somewhere exotic, and somewhere cheap so I could afford to live for a while. I flew to Thailand and ended up staying there for 5 months. I’ll never forget taking the water taxi up and down the river in Bangkok, walking around and exploring the city, and staying up late drinking with the locals at a roadside liquor stand.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: There’s almost too many to choose from, but one I really enjoy is Birdman with Michael Keaton.
Q: Guilty pleasure music artist?
A: Nothing quite like racing down the highway with your windows down, blasting Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
Q: What is something that inspires you?
A: Incredible human accomplishments. From the great pyramids of old to the skyscrapers of today, it is inspiring to know that if you set your mind to it you can build the world.
Q: What would you say your professional goal would be now that you are employed at Percipia?
A: To become incredibly familiar with our software so I can fix anything required, and to work on becoming a better Software Developer!
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The Support Gamble

 

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You spend money to save money

Annual support contracts and updating your End of Life products offer critical assistance in unexpected situations. Period.

Have you ever found yourself reviewing those yearly support contracts, struggling to sign that dotted line? Have you been overruled in your arguments for maintenance and forced to coast along without plans to replace or upgrade your EOL hardware or worse software versions?

I have, and it’s not an experience I’ll repeat.

 

Rolling the dice on support and expired equipment

A few months after my start date I was in the process of migrating to a full virtual shop, the company didn’t have support for several old servers nor their EOL Microsoft Exchange version. It’s a huge risk, one that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. In fact, today I’d quit before I’d let anyone managing the company purse strings walk me out onto this ledge again.

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It was the last week of December and the holidays were upon us. The office was closing early for last minute shopping, friendly cocktails, family gatherings, or some much-needed rest. I, on the other hand, was living the nightmare of a network outage. A “glitch” had just crippled MS Exchange, along with the company’s core database server.

Historically, during the first hour of any outage (after fielding countless help desk calls, calmly instructing your team, meeting with management, assessing the damage, and referring to your DR binder), I have continued to frantically google for help instructions, but this is serious, and the clock is ticking so I keep my head down, assess the magnitude of the outage, estimate downtime and get moving. Oh, but first I’m tasked with broadcasting the company-wide voice message stating there is an outage NO EMAIL, NO DATABASE so STOP trying to log in! –no one wants to attach their voice to this news but I kept the message calm, commanding, and to the point – the old “we will update you with the latest news as it becomes available”.

 

No means No. No support. Period.

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Without any support it’s a bleak picture: no helpline to dial, no magic wand, no soothing voice on the phone offering to take over, remote in, or walk you through recovery. Just me – or possibly that new network vendor that’s been after our business. Now, there’s an idea. I make the call and without the slightest hesitation, they prepare to step in. These situations are what they’ve built their business around, it’s why they succeed and survive. While all eyes are cast in my direction I announce to the management team that help is on the way. The look of relief that flashes across their faces tells me they too realize I’m out of my element. After all, I run the daily stuff.  This is beyond my scope and even they don’t expect me to steer this ship alone.

While awaiting the arrival of my new-found rescue team, I start to decipher if this is going to be a bare metal rebuild; or, fingers crossed, just a software reload. Pull all the power out of that server and start the rebooting – and praying, lots of praying. By the way, where are those install files? We needed to find the files and get organized; pull it together.

The once friendly-now nervous-faces are still “popping by” to check and see how much longer I think it’ll be before they can check email and that ginormous lifeline they call the company database. I’m 3 hours into this and the stress is building at a pace I hope to out-run.

Recovery and the weeks that follow

The disaster recovery process began officially at 3 PM, December 22nd, and although it would only be another 16 hours before employees could be logging in again, the deep dive of recovery would last another 3 weeks.

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Years later, my memory is a bit fuzzy and perhaps it’s best to forget. However, this I do recall: my stomach was a mess, my head was throbbing, I had a sense of constant panic, my Christmas shopping wasn’t completed, the Holiday was here, and the little money we saved on support was about to put me over the edge. I didn’t feel any Holiday spirit and the remaining days of family and friendly gatherings were a blur. All I could think of was…this could happen again at any time to any one of our servers…and again, it would be my responsibility to rebuild and keep the company connected and working. My first goal is now to sign on the dotted line and employ support.

Support Contracts provide added value for your internal IT staff

Typically, IT staff is in the business of connectivity, and break-fix events. Long days of keeping the organization connected: telephones, voice mail, faxes, printers, email, databases, data files, internet, WIFI, moves, adds and changes, and all things attached to a cable or a plug. That’s just the front of the house. The back of the house is the server room, the backups, the APC’s, the firewalls, the gateways, keeping things current, patched, running, secure, and even cooled. The days of paginating a word document, or helping staff use pivot tables in excel are few and far between. It’s all about connectivity. Downtime and loss of connectivity are not an option and not an option you should be willing to back.

There’s no hiding in IT

About 4 months later I’m at a company function, sitting with a large group of employees I’ve never met. Several people mention the time the email and database were down, and how inconvenient it was, they wondered too if the President and CEO knew how much money they lost during the incident. After all, they couldn’t sell a thing during those 2 days without email or the database. Since I worked in the IT department, they wondered too if I was or knew of anyone involved with the event –  I rose to excuse myself and replied simply “No”.

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Please welcome our new employee, Matt, to the team!

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It is always nerve-racking coming into a new company and trying to break the ice. Ensuring that new employees feel comfortable is crucial to building a positive transition within a company. We thought it would be fun to ask Matt a few questions to get to know him a little better.

Q: What is your official work title?

A: My official work title is Systems Support Specialist.

Q: Can you tell us more about your professional experience/history?

A: I was a Sr. Budget Analyst (in practice, this title was akin to Project Accountant) for 3 years at a regulated utility company.  As a Sr. Budget Analyst, duties included: routing invoices, opening projects, consolidating data from various applications, budget entry, SOX compliance, forecasting, accrual reporting, and variance analysis.  During this time I taught myself advanced techniques in Microsoft Office and VBA to help reduce workload and improve the quality of the reports that my team regularly provided.

Over time I came to realize that programming and process automation were my greatest passions.  I left my company and began to study programming full-time over the course of one year.  During this time I read several books, participated in courses on sites such as MongoDbUniversity.com, Codecademy.com, and Udemy.com, joined a local Slack technology group, experimented with 3 different microcontrollers, created over 26 software projects in various languages (~1,500 Github commits), and interned in China for a short period as a front-end ReactJS developer.  When I returned from China, I found Percipia!

Q: What do you like to do outside of work?

A: Learn code! Lately, I have been attending a number of technology Meetup groups in Chicago to meet new friends in the IT field and learn more about up-and-coming technologies. Sometimes I like to read philosophy books or visit Indiana Dunes.  I am also a registered open water SCUBA diver, occasional skydiver, novice smelter, occasional wood-worker, rock collector, and chess player.

Q: What is your greatest travel experience?

A: My greatest travel experience was a road trip to California that I took with my brother in July of 2017.  He was moving out to Los Angeles and asked me if I’d come along as support, though he insisted on driving most of the way.  Along the way, we stopped in Colorado and saw some amazing scenery including a pristine waterfall tucked away in a small forest preserve. Next, we stopped in Las Vegas to try our luck at a casino and see the fountains of the Bellagio hotel.  When we finally arrived in Las Angeles we hiked around the Hollywood sign which is something I had always wanted to do.  This was my first road trip with my brother and the most fun I had ever had on a vacation.

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Q: Favorite movie?

A: My favorite movie is likely Fight Club.  The acting is amazing, the main character’s personal struggle is very dramatic, and it’s a movie that offers new discoveries every time you watch it.  Other great movies I enjoy include La Femme Nikita, the Alien trilogy, and The Conjuring.

Q: Guilty pleasure music artist?

A: I really enjoy listening to Billy Joel, Steely Dan, and the Beatles.  Not sure if I should feel guilty but my friends have poked fun at me for my musical tastes :).

Q: What is something that inspires you?

A: I am heavily inspired by DIY sites such as Instructables.com and Raspberrypi.org.  I love to learn new things and these sites make it fun to explore new hobbies and technologies; they also affirm my belief that, with the right guidance, anyone can accomplish their goals.  

On that same note, I am heavily inspired by people who are self-taught.  I once read an article about a woman named Jennifer Dewalt who created 180 websites in 180 days in an effort to change careers and become a professional web developer.  By the end of her experiment, she was very knowledgeable in HTML, CSS, and Javascript, and was soon hired as a web developer.  Her experience, and the experiences of others like Jennifer, gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my own dreams.

https://leanin.org/news-inspiration/180-websites-in-180-days-how-i-learned-to-code/

Q: What would you say your professional goal would be now that you are employed at Percipia?

A: My professional goal as an employee of Percipia is to learn as much as I can and become the best Support Specialist I can be.  I am excited to work with Linux systems and hope that my experience in this position will assist me as I move forward with various hobby projects.  I am also very excited to be surrounded by a team of kind and experienced IT professionals that can lend guidance and talk shop.

Where’s Kal | The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club

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It has been a while since I have traveled to properties around the world. This time I have taken on a property that is rich in history and tradition. From the moment I drove into the valet area I knew this property was going to be a unique and memorable experience.

The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club has only been open since 1988, however it was named after an American Civil War solider Washington Duke, that later become an industrialist and philanthropist.

The property sits near Duke University and it was opened to serve the needs of the University’s growing community, however they are not officiated. The Duke family’s artifacts and photography are displayed in the halls of the hotel, and even make up the logo.

The golf course has been open since 1957 and was owned by Duke University. It features 18-holes and housed 2001 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship.

“The course has also received top rankings from Golf Digest, GolfWeek, Golf Magazine and the Zagat Survey, and was recently voted as the best public course in the Triangle by the Triangle Business Journal.” – Washington Duke Inn Website

The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club has gone under many additions to make it a full features inn and golf club.

Take a sneak peek at our most recent travels….

Last week our CEO, Michael Velasquez, and Business & Account Manager, Kal Matar, took a trip to New Orleans, Biloxi and Atmore to scout out the location for this year’s HITEC 2016 and visit some current and potential clients.

The first stop on their trip was New Orleans, Louisiana where they stayed at the Four Points Sheraton on Bourbon Street.

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The rooms are French Colonial inspired and the location is right at the center of Bourbon Street making it a prime location to stay this June for HITEC 2016!

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The duo had a great time taking in the culture and history of the city as they visited venue locations for a joint event to be held during this year’s HITEC 2016 in June.

Next, it was off to Biloxi, Mississippi. The team really enjoyed spending time with our Biloxi clients and were happy to see the properties first hand. Even more exciting, all were interested in our new product S.T.A.R.!

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The last stop on their trip before returning to New Orleans was to Atmore, Alabama to visit a new client. The team really enjoyed seeing the area and meeting our clients face to face!

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All-in-all the trip was a great success! Stay tuned for more travel updates coming soon!

The Five Best Hotel Phones from Cetis

Insight from the people who sell them.

Teledex, Telematrix, and Scitec

In today’s marketplace hotel telephones have grown increasingly competitive. Style, features and functionalities play an important part in why some phones are better than others, however what really makes a great hotel phone is the company behind the device. Cetis has long been recognized as the largest distributor of phones for the hospitality industry and there’s a reason for it – the longevity of their products. Whether it is Teledex, Telematrix, or Scitec – there is a very large chance you will walk into a hotel and find one of the three aforementioned products at the bedside table or desk. Here’s a look at the top 5 hotel phones from Cetis…

5). Coming in at number 5 is the Scitec Aegis Series Phones. These phones are extremely cost effective and reliable for any property. Scitec presents a simple design and comes with the trusted Cetis ingenuity, making this phone a perfect fit for economy style properties.

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4). Ranking at number 4 is the Teledex USB E Series phone. This is a very slick and compact device that allows your customer to have two point of, this device is perfect for hotels looking for a more modern vibe. The E Series is a great choice for upscale and upper midscale style properties.

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3). Sliding in at number 3 is the Teledex M Series Bluetooth phone. The M Series is arguably the most technology driven device that Cetis offers today. With Bluetooth capability, speakers that rival most iPod players, new-age design and USB ports for guest connectivity, this phone is the perfect fit for Luxury style hotels and resorts.

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2). Beating out the M Series for the number 2 spot is the legendary Teledex Diamond Series phone. This is the most popular phone from Cetis. With millions of these devices installed around the world, this phone is arguably the most solidly built phone on the planet. This device is perfect for every property, no matter the scale!

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1). Coming in at number 1, is the Telematrix 9600 Series Phone. This device is completely customizable. With multiple color inserts available to fit the style of every property, this phone is truly the best choice for any style property. With hotels and hotel owners trying to separate themselves from the competition, the Cetis Telematrix 9600 Series phone is the best device for you to stand out from your competition.

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No matter the style property, Cetis has something for all your phone needs! For all inquiries please email: cetis@percipia.com or call: 800.806.0408 ext. 105.