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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Infographic: 2018 IT budgets are up slightly; spending focus is on security, hardware, and cloud

In a recent Tech Pro Research survey, 39 percent of respondents said their 2018 budget would increase between 1-10 percent over 2017. This infographic has more information about how that money will be spent.

By Amy Talbott

In July and August, ZDNet's sister site, Tech Pro Research, surveyed tech workers about the IT budget for the 2018 fiscal or calendar year within their organization. Over half said that in terms of funding, their organization would dedicate more to IT.

However, another interesting trend emerged from this survey with regard to organizational IT spending. In this year's survey, 48 percent of respondents said they felt executive management at their organization valued IT funding as much as other departmental budgets. Last year, 65 percent of respondents said the IT budget was given equal importance within their organization. The portion of respondents who felt that their organization values the IT budget less than other departmental budgets was up to 36 percent this year, from 21 percent in last year's survey.

Within IT departments, a premium is being placed on security spending. Fifty-three percent of respondents said security will be a top priority in the 2018 budget. This isn't terribly surprising after high-profile events in 2017 like the WannaCry, or WannaCrypt, attacks and the Equifax consumer data breach. Respondents listed hardware purchases, cloud services, and software purchases as other high priorities for IT funds.

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Image: Erik Underwood/TechRepublic

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Windows 7 update guide: How 'security-only' and 'monthly rollups' differ

Microsoft in 2016 changed the way it rolls out updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, leaving many IT admins and users confused. Here's how to sort out what the company is doing.

By Gregg Keizer

Senior Reporter, Computerworld

 

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It's been more than a year since Microsoft ended the decades-old practice of letting customers

choose which patches they apply, and instead instituted a cumulative update maintenance model for Windows 7 and its shadow-of-a-sibling, Window 8.1.

And yet some users still don't grasp the new scheme.

"There are plenty of people who don't know which kind of update they should use," Chris Geottl, product manager with client security and management vendor Ivanti, said in a recent interview. "'Which one should I do? What non-security features are included in the monthly rollup? There's still some confusion."

No wonder there.

Microsoft asked for a lot last year. It asked enterprise IT administrators to upend ingrained patching practices. It asked them to make radical changes to how they maintain Windows 7 deep into its lifecycle, when there were just three years and change remaining before retirement, a phase most admins probably thought they'd be coasting as they prepped for Windows 10. It asked customers to absorb new terminology. And it changed the rules more than once after the new process debuted.

In return, users had questions - ans still do. The top query may seem among the simplest - what's the difference between the two types of Windows 7 updates now offered - but as Computerworld found out, appearances are deceiving.

What's in the security-only update? Just as the name implies, this update includes only security-related fixes, the kind that Microsoft has issued for 14 years on the second Tuesday of each month (aka "Patch Tuesday").

Just as important, though, is that the security-only update contains this month's fixes, and nothing more. (Again, that characteristic is what has defined Windows patches for years.)

What's in the monthly rollup? The Windows 7 and 8.1 monthly rollups include not only this month's security patches, but also all past security and non-security fixes, going back to at least October 2016, and possibly further. In other words, a monthly rollup is a superset of the month's security-only.

Side note: "Rollup" is a term Microsoft has used for ages to label catch-up updates, those that bring a program or operating system up to current status by bundling all past fixes. (Usually from a specific point in time, say, the last major release, which in the past were called "service packs" and abbreviated to "SP" as in "SP1" to designate the first such collection.)

Microsoft has touted rollups as a customer convenience, because they allow a long-out-of-date PC to be made current with just one download and install, rather than being forced to retrieve scores, maybe hundreds, of individual updates. That's exactly how the company described what it dubbed the "Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup" it issued in May 2016.

"Install this one update, and then you only need new updates released after April 2016," Microsoft said at the time of the convenience rollup, which preceded and presaged the monthly rollups announced three months later.

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5 Ways To Market your Prototype

After spending so much time and energy creating an amazing prototype that you are excited about, you may be eager to take it to market and to start generating a profit from it. As simple as this sounds, it actually is more complicated than you might think. After all, the prototype should be carefully analyzed and tested before it is mass produced. Furthermore, you have to understand market requirements, competing products and even how your customers may actually use the product. The prototype is only the first step in the full production process. However, you may be able to start marketing your prototype quickly through several different strategies.

Create a Prototype First
Before you start marketing the prototype, ensure that the prototype is the best version possible. It should be very detailed and prototypemade of high-quality elements. At one time, creating a quality prototype was cost-prohibitive for inventors and smaller companies. However, 3D printing is now easily accessible and affordable. Prototypes made from this type of technology may even the playing field and potentially increase the number of great inventions that are brought to market. With your prototype in hand, you can market it in these ways.

1. The Teaser
A teaser is a website that is specifically designed to promote your prototype. Your website should use Google Adwords and SEO strategies to bring visitors to it. Once on the teaser website, visitors can see the prototype in detail. They can also learn about its features and uses. However, avoid stating all features and benefits. This website should be akin to a movie trailer. You want to entice visitors to contact you for more information so that you can customize your sales pitch specifically to them.

2. The Funds
To effectively market your product on a wider scale, you generally need to have access to a substantial amount of capital. You can fund this endeavor through your own personal funds if you have access to that amount of capital, or you can raise money from friends and family members. Your teaser website may be useful in this situation. You can also raise funds through venture capitalists, angel investors, silent partners and others.

3. Offer Early Purchase
Your product may not currently be available for sale, but that does not mean that you cannot accept orders for it. A pre-order is a great way for you to raise the revenue needed to bring the product fully to market. It also can show your potential investors that there is a strong market for the product. However, if you do accept pre-orders, try to deliver a product that is as close to the prototype as possible. You do not want your first few customers to be unhappy with the product they received because it is different than what was promised to them.

4. The Tryout Period
Another idea is to offer a free trial of your product. Some customers who are interested in your product and who may be uncertain about buying something seemingly new or untested may be eager to try a product without strings attached. This is also a great way to get feedback that is necessary to further refine your product. A smart idea is to offer these initial customers a discount to encourage them to make a purchase after the trial period ends.

5. The Power of Social Networks
There are many free or cost-effective ways to promote your product online. For example, social networks like Facebook and Instagram are free for you to use, and you can spread the word about your product to your followers. They can share the information with others. This potentially lets you expand your reach to a significantly larger group of people than you otherwise would have access to on your own.

Important: Ideas and Patent Protection
If you have a truly great idea, there is always a chance that someone else will mimic or outright copy your idea. In order to protect your rights, you need to have a patent on your product. You may seek legal assistance with this process if you are not familiar with it, or you can contact the U.S. patent office yourself to begin the process.

You could try to bring your product to market immediately on your own, but there are ways to promote your prototype that may be more effective and affordable. These alternatives may give you time to work the kinks out and to further refine the product before it is mass produced. Explore these various concepts to identify the most effective strategies for your unique prototype.

Author’s Bio:
Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. You can reach her on Twitter.

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Bitcoin hits $15,000

Will anything stop this rocket to the Moon?

By James Vincent @jjvincent

 

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llustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Bitcoin’s value crossed the $15,000 threshold for the first time today, marking another milestone in its dizzying ascent. In recent months, the cryptocurrency has undergone a staggering increase in value; surging from roughly $3,500 in mid-September to its current price. And at the start of the year, a single Bitcoin was worth less than $800.

What happens next is anyone’s guess, and most analysts are united only in their uncertainty over the cryptocurrency’s future. Bitcoin long ago stopped being useful for actually buying things (partly because of its rocketing value and partly because of achingly-slow transaction times), so the questions facing speculators are: is this a bubble? And if so, when will it burst?

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Bitcoin’s price earlier today when it crossed the $15,000 threshold. Not long after it fell, back to $14,800. Image: Coindesk

Some traders figure we’re getting close, and are preparing to short Bitcoin; that is, make bets that its value will decrease in the future. “[It’s] one of the greatest shorting opportunities ever,” cryptocurrency Lou Kerner told Bloomberg earlier this week. “You have a lot of zealotry, and a lot of people, including me, who think it’s the greatest thing to ever happen in the history of mankind. You have a lot of people who think it’s a bubble and a Ponzi scheme. It turns out both of them can’t be right.”

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4 Reasons Small Businesses Fail at Local SEO

Local SEO is the wave of the future. People are glued to their mobile devices 24/7 and are looking for services near them more than ever. Those who are still stuck in the pre-mobile-first era are bound to be left behind unless they ramp up their local SEO efforts. Unfortunately, many small business owners have absolutely no clue how local SEO works and end up making mistakes that can set them back. Find some examples below:

Incorrect or Outdated Information

One of the most important things with local SEO is the consistency of your contact information. If your SEO Failinformation is all over the place and is inconsistent across platforms, your rankings will be affected. Make sure that you double check every outlet where your address is listed, whether it is a business directory, Facebook page and, of course, your Google My Business address.

Not Having a Google My Business Page

For those of us who are familiar with local SEO, we may take our Google My Business page for granted, but there are still a surprisingly high number of businesses who don’t have one setup. Whether it’s by ignorance, or simply because they don’t see the benefits of it, many business owners still are absent from Google’s business directory.

Others wrongfully believe that the information generated by local searches comes from their website. However, all listings in local results come from Google My Business page information. So, if you don’t have one, you have no chance to rank locally. You should create one immediately; it only takes a few minutes to complete. Just make sure that you don’t skip the verification at the end as it will be used to authenticate your address. 

No going the Extra Mile to get Reviews

Reviews are another crucial aspect of local search rankings. Sites at the top not only have more reviews on average, but also good reviews. If you have bad reviews, you’ll have no choice but to address recurring problems and commit to quality. Don’t be afraid to interact with negative posters and don’t make the mistake of coming off as defensive. Sincerely show that you’re listening to your customer's concerns and are ready to make some changes.

If you don’t have enough reviews, you’ll have to be more proactive in getting reviews from your clients. One of the great ways to get reviews is to add it as part of your packaging. For instance, if you’re in the restaurant business, something as simple as a message that prompts your visitors to review your restaurant on Google could make the world of difference.

Conclusion

Local SEO should play a central role in any marketing strategy. It’s one of the most effective marketing methods out there and is completely organic, allowing you to reap the benefits over time.

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