Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

October 16, 2020

I started in this industry in 1978, with a walking territory in “The City” (that’s what New Yorkers call Manhattan). But I have come to a point in my life where I need to say goodbye to “The Copier Industry”. After nearly 30 years working for a Large Independent Dealer in New England (NECS) I will be leaving this industry that I have loved. Some people have said that I have toner in my blood, and maybe that is true. Time will tell.

I have had the privilege to be friends with some Giants of the Industry. Charlie Tiernan who started NECS out of the back of his station wagon, and grew it to a major regional player with 7 offices and 2 Warehouses. Charlie is a real dyed in the wool “Copier Guy”, and he has a big heart. It was a privilege to work for him for so many years.

Charles Kelly, who ran the CSlist.org (Mailing) list for years. I met Charles at a Canon Technet conference and we immediately hit it off. He invited me to join his mailing list for Canon Systems Engineers. We had SEs from all over the world posting non sanctioned Canon Networking solutions. I learned and posted many “solutions” back in the day. The Canon “Grid” ended the need for the CSlist and it has since been moth balled.

Art Post, The P4PHotel.com has been a great industry resource. Art has reposted some articles from this blog, and he always has great, relevant, Industry news. Talk about a “Copier Guy”, Art defines the term. I had the pleasure of having dinner with Art one night when I was in New Jersey for training. We have and do talk on the phone from time to time, and I consider him a friend.

Ned Bannan is one of the best industry Systems Engineer on the East Coast, But sadly Ned is no longer in the “Copier Industry”. He is working for a Security Software Company and they are lucky to have him. He is the best Mac guy I know, and has a good working knowledge of Linux. Ned has forgotten more about Macs than most people will ever know. He was also a Fiery Color Expert. Ned could hack a PPD with the best of them!

I have known Mike Betsco for a couple of decades now. Back in the day when he was one of the driving forces behind Canon’s Technet. Which was the best SE training, in the most compact time frame, at a great location (Disney World or Disney Land). Mike did a tour at Samsung when they made a run at the Copier Industry but is back at Canon heading up their Solutions offerings. Canon is lucky to have him. Mike invited me and other key solutions people in the Independent Channel to join the Canon S.E.A.L. Team (Solutions Advisory Board). We had some great discussions during those meetings and continued them over some great dinners.

What can I say about Joe Lucas? If you ever get stuck with a complex UniFLOW problem Joe is the go to guy! He has helped me with major accounts more times than I can count. James Seager also gets honorable mention for NTware support!

Donn Clarke was my boss when I worked at (RBS) Ricoh Business Systems. I worked there for two plus years and Donn was the best boss I have ever had. He is a good man. That is why I brought him over to NECS where he is currently the Director of Sales.

Lynda Maglio is currently a Solutions Analyst at Konica Minolta. But I have most of my fond memories of her when she worked at eCopy (then it became Nuance). She would bird dog a problem until she got it resolved. For that reason she was one of my favorite Vendors.

Then there are the great Hunters (Sales People) that I have worked with over the years, John “Sully” Sullivan, Doug Moore, and Cindy Albano just to name a few. I am not leaving the rest out to slight them but to name all of them would be impractical in a blog article.

These are just some of the people I have come to respect in this industry. Time would fail to talk of each of the men & women I have worked with over the past 34 years. But you know who you are.

I have good memories from my time in this industry. I raise a family on the salary I earned as a Technician, Troubleshooter, Field Service Manager, Solutions Team Managers, Color Sales Specialist, and a Vice President. I will no longer be posting to this blog, but I will leave it as an archive as there is indeed some useful info that hopefully some people will still stumble across.

My apologies to the long running show M.A.S.H. for stealing their title of their last episode. But it seemed appropriate to me. They say by the time M.A.S.H. ended they had more episodes than there were actual days in the Korean war. Sometimes I feel like I have more stories than actual days for my career in this industry. Please know that I love this industry. It is going through some tough times right now and maybe the “Big Crunch” will continue. But the strong will survive. They always do!

Please contact me via my email if there is anything I can do for you.

This is my last $0.02

Vince McHugh


PS: I have never mixed my personal life with my professional life because it might alienate some of my Customers. But I feel like as I wrap this up I need to let those who have read this blog for so long know that I am a Christian. I have taught a Bible study for the past 40+ years. So if you have a question about the Bible or about life and want to talk, email me and I will be happy to talk to you about anything.


Is Your Managed Print Services (MPS) Program relevant? No? I can help you!

August 31, 2020

Is your MPS Program relevant? Are you struggling to break out from the MeToo MPS Offering? Then talk to me. I have a Secure MPS program that could overlay your base MPS program but adds value, especially in this Covid-19 Home Office challenge.

I can help you roll out a Secure MPS offering that would dovetail into the home office explosion without giving up your Commercial or Educational marketplace. I can handle myself or train and manage your Systems Engineers or MPS Specialists to be able to do both a security assessment and a Hardening of BOTH their A4 Printer &  A3 Multi-functional Devices.

MPS is great, but it is boring. Everyone is talking about their MPS program, how will you stand out?

What if you could:

1.  Bring down the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

2.  Harden BOTH the A4 (Printers) and the A3 (MFDs) Devices

3.  Keep your competitors OUT!

   Security Professionals know that their Printers & MFDs show up as vulnerable on every single Security Audit. But “THEY” have bigger fish to fry. What if YOUR Dealership or Branch could take this off of their plate and make THEM look like a hero when Their next Security Audit shows that they have hardened their Printers & MFDs.

Talk to me if you need to have YOUR MPS offering break out of the pack. I can help

Best Regards,

Vince McHugh


603-765-2767 Cell#


I have been laid off. What’s Next?

March 30, 2020

It has been a long time since I have uttered those words “I have been laid off”, But here we are. I have to say that my previous employer has been pretty cool to maintain my Health care indefinitely. But, Having said that, I have been laid off.

What does that mean. In fundamental terms it means I am unemployed. So what does that mean to YOU? It depends upon who YOU are. COVID-19 has me currently unemployed. BUT, I know I can transform a Sales Organization from Box Movers to Solutions sales! How do I know I can do this? Because I have done this! I have done it at NECS, and I have done it at RICOH. I Assume that I am pretty good at what I do because I have had two past Ricoh Managers reach out to me, and I have heard from a couple of key NECS folks!

Here is what I know. I am VERY GOOD at Solutions Sales. I am good at bringing the chemistry of solutions sales to a branch that primarily knows how to move boxes. So If you need some one with my skills, then give me a call. and let’s see if we can work together.

What can I do for you? I can run and develop your Solutions team. I can run and develop your Production Print or Color Specialist team! And yes I can run a Branch if that is what you need. I am looking to get back to work. But I have Toner in my blood, sad to say but I do!

Having said all this, what do you need?  I am unemployed today. But I have already heard from two top industry managers. I say this to let you know, I won’t be unemployed for long. Do you need someone with My skills? If you do reach out to me with a reasonable offer. I know what I am worth, because I know what I bring to the table. So make me a genuine offer, and we can start doing Sales Training NOW, while we wait for this Corid-19 stuff to pass. So when we come out on the other side we will be READY TO GROW!!!! If You have the vision I May be YOUR GUY. But that is up to you.

On a final note if you are trying to build a great organization I have a history of bringing talent with me, So call me, let’s talk 603-765-2767.


The Corona Virus got me sent home to work. How do I fax from home?

March 11, 2020

I think the Corona Virus has sped up the adoption of “Work Anywhere”. As long as the work gets done does it matter where you are doing the work? Many tech & Knowledge workers can, and do, work from home, or from a Coffee Shop, or an empty desk at an office that they are visiting. Because for many of these workers all we need is a computer, a phone, and an internet connection! Except if I need to send a fax! Yikes! Don’t tell me if faxing is a critical part of your job even from time to time that this will stop you from working from home? No! It doesn’t have to! Not if you use the NECS Cloud Fax Solution! With Cloud Faxing you can send an email attachment to 6175551234@Faxcomanywhere.com and as long as we have registered the From email Address that attachment in the email you sent will be faxed to (617) 555 1234.

OK, cool but what about hard copy paper? What do i do if I don’t have a scanner? I can’t scan and email to Fax can I? Well, in a word, Yes, You can Fax by getting the Biscom Fax App for your phone. Do you have an IOS device go to the App Store. If you have an Android go to the Play Store and search for Biscom Fax. When you have it call NECS’ Help Desk and we will walk you through the set up. Then lay that hard copy down on a flat surface one page at a time and take a picture to add them to your documents that you are going to fax. Then Fax them off! With the Biscom Phone App you could even fax a document from the back Nine!

The Corona Virus is showing us that we don’t need to be in a particular place to get work done. This morning at ~ 7:20AM I picked up a 6 inch piece of aluminum bar in my left rear tire. I spent a good part of my morning at Town Fair Tire’s lovely waiting room. Me and another woman who I didn’t know worked on our respective laptops, her on her PC and me on my MacBook. We had cell phones, and Internet access and I think she was as productive as I was. And “The WORK” got done, because the work has to get done!

The Corona Virus will pass. And maybe it is serious or maybe it is a tempest in a tea pot. But what should not pass is the ability to work from anywhere. It is a business Idea whose time has come.


That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh




Selling software that never gets installed!

March 9, 2020

I hate to see a customer buy software that never gets installed. Or gets installed so poorly that the IT Dept refuses to work with that vendor any more. One of our larger UniFLOW installs was made at a customer that had previously thrown the Branch out and had banned UniFLOW from their network. When we took over we mentioned UniFLOW and got a less than positive response. I was floored. UniFLOW is good solid software. But the fault was in the support or lack there of. We eventually got them to allow us to put UniFLOW in their “Colo” (Server farm). Then they asked us to move it to their AWS Test environment. That went so well, we were asked to install it in their AWS Production environment. And from there UniFLOW went world wide in about 8 different countries. The point is it wasn’t UniFLOWs fault that it didn’t get installed well, or supported well.

I bring it up because I have an RFP that references UniFLOW and that they currently have a fleet of Canon MFDs (from the Branch). But We find out today UniFLOW has never been installed. Or they could not get it working. But the Customer wants Secure Print, and Follow me style of printing, and in general tighter security on their Canon MFDs. In a word they want all the things that UniFLOW is great at. But UniFLOW can’t do any of those things if it doesn’t get installed, or installed correctly. I bet that the branch was cheaper than us last time we competed. Well now you’ve seen what cheap looks like, how is that working for you? I don’t mean to be sarcastic but I don’t know anyone who goes out shopping for the cheapest car, or the cheapest suit, or the cheapest TV they can find. In all these things we want Value! Why then do we think the “cheapest” response to our RFP will be the best? It won’t. So do a little research and don’t be afraid NOT to award the bid to the Cheapest Vendor. Go with Value, and your life will be a little easier.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh




3 Hours in the life of a Pre Sales Technical Analyst (Or what do you do all day).

November 7, 2019

If you are a Pre-Sales SE you have probably heard these questions. What do you do all day? Your Calendar doesn’t seem very full. The problem is it is hard to explain to a non technical person what you do, or did in a day. Yesterday I started to write down each interaction. I got about 3 hours into the day before I had to hit the road. But I thought I would share a typical morning of my life.

1) Emailed Major Account to explain why their Sydney Australia Office Couldn’t grant System Manger Rights to their Canon that has UniFLOW (Wed 11/6/19 7:53 AM)

2) Prep’d for a mid-morning Papercut call researched Papercut \ Canon configuration for a sale (7 Canon MFDs on Papercut with Fax Server) (Wed 11/6/19 8:34 AM)

3) Researched an RFP for best and most cost effective Follow Me Print, Guest Print, and Reporting solution for HP / ROAM (Wed 11/6/19 9:01 AM) or Canon / UniFLOW Online

4) Responded to a Major Account Rep’s email on how to answer a question of a Facility Management Manger at his biggest Account asking about Airprint, Print Via Email, Guest Printing.(Wed 11/6/19 9:07 AM)

5) Walked a Senior Systems Engineer (Over Phone) How to find where the PPDs are stored in Mac Wed ( 11/6/19 9:49 AM).

6) Account Manager walks into my office at (11/6/19 9:58 AM) and asks if there is a way his major account can lock down their Canon IR-ADV C525IF. UFOLX (14 locations 36 MFDs).

7) Conference Call to supply the technical answers to the RFP. (11/6/19 10:00 – 10:40AM)

8) Drive to Customer Location to finish setting up a Canon 45XX with Papercut & Fax Server & SSO integration (11/6/19 10:40am->)

The rest of the day I was on the road and too busy to document just what I do on a given day. It is these small interactions with Account Reps, Post Sales SEs, and Customers that a Sales Organization benefits the most from a good Pre-Sales Analyst. But because they happen in the course of an average day they don’t get noted on a calendar or mentioned when the Sales Paperwork is submitted. I have seen several companies release Systems Engineers or Analysts because they had to “run leaner”, and I understand that is a business decision. But it might be beneficial to have the people receiving the technical help to find a way to mention it to Management. Not because the SE or Analyst needs a pat on the back. But because Management needs to find a way to quantify the impact when they make these business decisions. Too often they learn what the SE or Analyst “use to do” when they are no longer there to “do”. And that is unfortunate!

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh



Advancing the sales process

October 11, 2019

Selling is a process that includes many variables. Among them the transfer of knowledge.

The primary contact during the “Sales Process” is of course the Sales Person, or Account Executive. S/He is the Quarterback of the team. But if all you have is a QB on your team you may be in trouble. That’s why I believe in Team Selling, where each member of that team excels at their job and each brings something unique to the table. A vital part of the team is the Solution Sales Analyst. What S/He brings to the table is a wealth of Knowledge and with that knowledge comes confidence. Instead of a Sales guy saying “I think we can do that” Or “The Brochure says its supported” He turns to the Pre-Sales Solutions Support person who tells the Customer about a time when they did JUST that. And well done is better than well said. I remember getting brought into a school district at the 11th hour. They were just about to make a vendor selection when a neighboring school district said “You really need to talk to NECS before you make a decision. These guys really know their stuff”! Nothing I or my sales guy could have said that would have made as much of an impact as his peer in another school district did. They will trust their Peer over anything we say. Thankfully we had taken care of our customer and they gave us a glowing review (Mouth to Mouth Selling). When we came in we talked about AirPrint, and Chromebooks, and how to reduce the cost of printing through Follow Me printing. The head of IT looked at me and said those were the questions I was going to ask you about. This knowledge transfer gave them the confidence in NECS. Because not only did we say we could we gave them examples of other places we had already done it.

This is maybe the most dramatic way we advance the sales process. But a good Pre Sales Solutions Engineer answers dozens of calls and emails a day. I think I get an average of 45 – 50 emails a day, not counting junk emails. About a third of them require a thoughtful response. These are question from a Customer or from a Sales Person who is asking about a deal or for a customer to keep the Sales Process moving forward. It may be about a feature, or function or protocol, of a device or Software. It maybe a Security question that needs to be researched to be able to give a correct answer that moves the sale forward. It’s hard to quantify the impact these responses whether verbal, phone call, or email have on the sales process other than to say it moves it forward. What does this process look like without a knowledgeable Pre Sales Solution Engineer to answer these questions and to keep the sales process moving forward. Well maybe the Sales Guy makes something up and hopes he doesn’t get caught. Or maybe he reads the brochure and says “The Brochure says it works”. How confident would you feel hearing that answer? In short a Good Pre Sales Solution Engineer is like Yeast in your bread. You most notice it when it is not there and your bread or your sales numbers go flat!

It doesn’t matter so much what you call them; Pre-sales Solutions Engineers, Solutions Analysts, or just Systems Engineer. You may not be able to see what they do every day on a Calendar, or in SalesForce. After all how do you document that you gave a technical answer to a sales guy who sits next to you that kept the sales process moving forward? So if you judge them just by their Calendar activity you may think you don’t need them. And then you wonder why did our sales numbers drop? Ricoh Business systems (RBS) dismantled their Solutions team, and predictably their Sales Numbers dropped. To their credit this branch recognized what they’ve done and hired me to reconstitute their Solutions Team. At the end of the second year the Branch hit its Triple Crown Numbers. The branch had never done that in the history of the branch and no other branch in the country did it that year. They rewarded us by again dismantling the Solutions team. I left RBS shortly there after. I get a call about 6 months later from a buddy of mine who was a Sales Manager at RBS, and he said my name came up in a conversation. I said oh really, about what? He said to the best we can calculate YOU have cost us about a Million dollars in deals since you left. I asked if I could get that in writing on Ricoh letter head, and he laughed. One Million dollars in 6 Months. Hmm? I guess you notice a good Solutions Engineer the most, when he’s not there!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh

PS: Special thanks to Greg Dalton of EFI. This blog started with a conversation about what a good SE does to “move the sales process along”.


Who would want to hack into my printer?

July 1, 2019

I often hear from customers “Who would want to hack into my printer”?

We’ve done such a good job securing our Servers, PCs, and routers that hackers who are trying to get into your network every day and they are looking for easy ways to get a foothold. HP did a great short Video on Youtube with Christian Slater called “The Wolf”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3QXMMV-Srs

HP has really pushed the “copier industry” on Security. HP says that they have “the most secure MFD”. They even put out a $10,000.00 bounty if someone could hack into their MFD. That’s Ballsy! I love that! But we still haven’t fully answered the question Why would anyone want top hack into my printer? Here comes the answer, are you ready?
Hacking your printer isn’t about the printer! There are two things a hacker gets when they successfully take control of your Printer.

1. They get access to your documents!

2. They get a foothold in your network, behind your firewall.

I know of a town here in New England that got their MFDs hacked. And from that the Hackers were able to take down four of their Servers. Remember it’s not about the printer.

Think about the documents that pass through your printer. Are they encrypted? Probably Not. A Man in the middle attack would copy all of your print jobs to the hacker before sending them on through to your printer and you would not even notice. Maybe you’d notice that it is taking a little longer to get your prints. But not long enough for you to suspect a hacker. Hackers don’t announce themselves. They often go undetected for months.

Did you know that there is a wiki site dedicated to show hackers how to hack your printers? Or how about this web site that shows the “Default Password” of your printers or MFDs? Does your printer or MFD still use the default password? If it does you are making it too easy for a hacker to take control of your Printers and MFDs.

NECS has a Professional Services offering to Harden your Printers & MFDs. HP makes it easy with Sure Start, Inspection Detection, white listing, and runtime intrusion. These are the big four! But there is more that you can do to harden your HPs!

I know an Security Manager at a regional hospital that walks around with his phone looking for Printers that are broadcasting Wi-Fi. When he finds one, and he often finds one, he shuts off Wi-Fi! Why? Using the Funtenna software this hacker turned a Printer into a broadcast radio and listen in on a network connected phone. The Printer hacked the phone??? How did they hack the printer? By embedding the malware into a Resume that maybe an IT manager or HR person printed. Holy Cow???? As one law firm that I presented this information to, said “You have me sufficiently freeked out, now what do I do about it”?

The answer is you take Printer / MFD security as serious as you do your PCs. And why not a Modern MFD has more in common with a PC that it does with your Father’s Copier. It has a hard drive, an OS, Ram Memory, even a Keyboard and a touch screen instead of a mouse. It also has Apps, lots of Apps that can be loaded on this Smart MFD to extend and enhance its capabilities.

This is an end point, a node on your network. And as such it deserves, no demands your attention on its security. The Security Manager from that same hospital said to me. We know our printers are not secure. They fail the security audit every time we have it, BUT we have other more pressing matters that always take precedence over securing the Printers and MFDs. That’s when we can help! Farm the work out to a professional who has been trained by both HP and Canon on Security, Printer security.

Do you know that Most security Scans avoid the Printers and MFDs. Do you know why? They consider them fragile devices. Nessus or even Nmap if not set correctly can knock a printer right off the network. I have seen Nmap cause a check printer to start printing garbage on random checks until it ran out of paper. There are ways of scanning a printer \ MFD without causing a disruption (generally speaking). But even if you choose not to scan to see what ports are open \ listening you can still decide to harden your printers and MFDs.

You could set up one Canon (For Instance) and make that the Master image and clone the other Canons from it. But you better change the default password or someone else could easily turn on what you have turned off for security reasons. NECS can also set your Canon MFD to update firmware automatically. We can install HP’s Smart Device Services (SDS) and schedule the update of all your HP Printers & MFDs at off hours (1 – 4 AM).

HP also offers Jet Advantage Security Manager or JASM that can apply and enforce YOUR Secure Policy on every HP. There is even a way to set it up so new printers will reach out to HP’s JASM to get YOUR security policy as soon as they come online. Like I said HP is leading the pack in enhanced Security for Printers & MFDs, or as they like to call them A3s and A4s.

Is your copier dealer talking to you about security? Or do they just want to know what speed you want your new “copier” to be? A modern MFD needs a modern Dealer who can support you in all your endeavors, and that includes Security!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh

PS: You are never going to make your devices completely secure, security is a moving target. But that doesn’t mean you should do nothing to harden them. It’s like the two guys who see a bear and the one guy puts on his running shoes. The other guy says you can’t outrun a bear. He says I know, all I have to do is out run you. 😊 Security is like that. Make your devices less attractive to hackers so the go somewhere else.


Jamf, JumpCloud, & UniFLOW

February 5, 2019

NECS has a long term (Technology Company) customer that has a large MAC population, as well as PCs, and Linux Workstations, We did a demo at our Boston Office and there was a lot of interest in UniFLOW Secure Printing, Follow Me Printing, and Scan to Myself. But they were concerned about implementation because of their large Mac population and because they use JumpCloud as their LDAP server. JumpCloud is a very cool cloud based LDAP Server. They were also concerned about how they would push out both the direct and the secure printers to their MACs. But they use JAMF to manage their MACs so we said no problem. NECS will provide the files you need and show you how to set the defaults to B&W & Simplex as you requested,

NECS offered to do a proof of concept at their Headquarters. We did some preliminary work testing JumpCloud integration with UniFLOW on our own UniFLOW Server. Thanks to Ned Bannan for opening up a trial JumpCloud account and figuring out the syntax that we would need before we even walked through the door. So we were off and running with a UniFLOW trial license in hand we went onsite and set up the UniFLOW Server, easily integrated it with their JumpCloud LDAP Server as well as their SMTP server and did some testing. We asked them if they would like their JumpCloud LDAP server to also be their LDAP Address book on their Canon MFDs. They thought that this was a great idea. Since we already new the syntax and tricks to make it work on UniFLOW it wasn’t too hard to adapt it to the Canon LDAP Address book. They were pretty happy about that!

When it came to registering their RFID cards they did not want to have to have their people login at the Canon MFD \ Copier. They also didn’t want us to run a task that would send out an email blast to all users because they felt that most users would ignore or delete the email. So we set up the UniFLOW Secure input printer to email a TIC (Temporary Identification Code) to users when they first print to it. The user experience was pretty cool. They would send their first print job and immediately get an email from the UniFLOW System. The End user would go to the nearest UniFLOW Enhanced Canon with their RFID code and their smart phone, tap their card and the Canon screen would ask them to enter their TIC Code. They would read it off the email on their phone and enter it, when they hit logon it married their RFID card with their JumpCloud LDAP account on the UniFOW Server. End Users and IT Staff really liked how easy it was for Users to do this!

Finally, we were asked to help their very competent IT person to configure Linux to print both directly and securely via UniFLOW. The fact that their CIO used a Linux workstation made this a pretty important part of the UniFLOW \ Canon solution. NECS sent some instructions to their Linux support guy and followed up with a conference call where he said “I’m all set”! “I followed your instructions and we are working in Linux too”. Great! NECS is very comfortable with Linux and CUPS printing. And we were able to use this expertise to make UniFLOW enabled Canon MFDs (Copiers) work in this very diverse network.

If your organization has any of these challenges give us a call or drop me an email. We can do for you what we did for this very cool Technology Company.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
VP \ Network Solutions


Using Shell Scripts to make Mac Printing easier

June 12, 2018

Mac printing has never been as easy as Windows printing. Some people say that is because Mac users don’t need as much support, and that may be true. But they will also say that the Printer Manufacturers don’t treat them as well as their Windows brethren. The Mac drivers are too often treated like an afterthought. They may not have all the features that the Windows Driver has for the same exact printer. The other thing that makes it harder is that Macs don’t typically print through a Print Server and if they do it is simply a pass through. The Windows Server doesn’t enhance the printing experience for the Mac user like it does for the Windows Users.

I did not set out to learn Unix Shell Scripting. I set out to be able to make configuring the defaults and options on a Mac printer easier. I have known about the CUPS Web Interface ( ) for many years. I learned about CUPS from my Unix and Linux training. When the MAC OS X was released we learned it sat on top of Darwin Unix. Originally Apple used LPRng as the printing subsystem but moved to CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) when they released 10.2. This broke Mac printing for most users. But because of my familiarity with CUPS I was able to help my customers get their printers back up and printing. We knew how to get into the CUPS Web Page and modify the printer or set the defaults for that MAC, but it was just for the MAC you were on. If you have a large or even a moderate size group of Mac Users that could be a lot of work. That is what got me looking at shell scripts.

The first clue for me came from a System Engineer that I work with, Ned Bannan. He had a customer that had modified a ppd in CUPS and then compared it to the original to see what & where the changes were reflected in the ppd. He used the fc (file compare) command. I thought that was pretty cool. Then I found that I could use the lpoptions command to display all the options a ppd had, and JUST show me the options. We used to open the ppd with a text editor to find what options were available but then you get the entire ppd not just the options. It was shall we say “busy”. With the lpoptions command we got a neat and clean list of options.

Now that I can clearly see what options can be set and modified I began to test this with the lpadmin command. lpadmin, lpoptions, lpstat are all Unix commands. This is where we really begin to leverage the power of Unix to make Mac printing easier. lpstat will show me the printers that are installed on a particular Mac, lpotions show me the options and defaults that I can set in the ppd. lpadmin lets me not only set the options but also create a printer and its port on a Mac OS X. This is all great, but it is still a lot of typing on each Mac.

That is what led me to Unix Shell Scripts. Shell scripts are not that different than DOS BAT files. I remember years ago creating a BAT file for a customer that wanted to transfer files we had scanned in a remote office to a folder in their home office across a dial up connection. My BAT file worked so well that the next time I visited the customer the Company that sold them their Document Management System (DMS) had put their own Icon on my Bat file. They should have at least kissed me first, don’t you think? You could argue that Shell Scripts are more powerful than BAT files but they both do the same function on different OSes. They allow you to string together different commands to accomplish a task that otherwise would require a lot of typing. They are a godsend!

Unix Shell scripts make MAC printing easier for IT Managers.
Now I can create a Shell Script that configures an existing printer. I can create a Shell Script that can add a printer, an lpr port, and pull the ppd from an smb share. This script actually asks the End User two questions. What do you want to name your new HP Printer (or Canon, etc.) and What is the IP Address of the Printer. You could put this information along with a zip copy of the script in an email blast to your end users. It is amazing what you can do with Unix Shell Scripts!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Vince McHugh, Of the Internet?

March 29, 2018

vm of the internet.jpg

About two weeks ago I had a heart attack. It is something that gets your full attention, at least it got mine! During my recovery one of my Post Sale SEs sent me this picture to cheer me up. It had the desired effect as it represents a funny story from my past.

We were trying to win back a long term customer that went to Ricoh. When they came into our demo room I introduced my self saying “Hi, I am Vince McHugh”. One of the visitors asked “Of the Internet”? which took me aback. I said I guess you’ve read my blog? She told me she read my blog regularly. We had a good laugh, the demo went well and a long term customer came back to NECS.

I have been off recovering for the last few weeks and I am hoping my doctor will let me get back to work soon. The time off has reminded me that I like what I do. So hopefully you will see me back in the trenches before too long. Who knows I may even get inspired to write a blog article.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh

PS: Thanks to Kevin Lumenello for putting together the picture and sending it to me!


25+ Years at NECS (Labor Day Thoughts)

September 4, 2017

It seems rare today for someone to spend a quarter of a century at the same company. But it is the norm for people who work for NECS. NECS has been in business for over 50 years. I am by far not the most tenured person at the company. There are those who have been there for 30+ years. In the spirit of full disclosure I will say that I took a 2+ years break to work for Ricoh Business Solutions (RBS). I came back to my current position nine years ago.

This kind of longevity at a single company seems to be the exception and not the rule. My daughter had worked for a company for 4 years. When she began applying for new jobs she was twice asked “Why she had been so long at one company?” She was told that it is common for people to change companies every 2 to 3 years. I can understand that only if each change is a change upwards and not just a horizontal move. When I look at a resume and I see someone changes jobs every year or so it is a red flag. I wonder why they could not keep a job for more than a year. When you look at my daughter’s resume it shows her taking on more an more responsibility at the one company she worked for those 4 years, when I see that on a resume it tells me that this is someone I can invest in with an expectation of a return on that investment. This may explain why so many people have stayed at NECS for so long. There has always been opportunity to grow and move up to greater responsibility within NECS. We often have Service people become Sales People, or Dispatchers become Operations Managers. I started in NECS as a Trainee (in 1989), learning to work on Copiers. Then I became a certified Technician, a Troubleshooter, a Field Manager, then I moved into Systems Support, became the Manager of the Team, and then became the Color Sales Specialist. After a short stint at RBS I returned to become the Vice President of Network Solutions. I am not that unique at NECS. Our VP of Service has been in Sales, and has also run Operations and the Shop. Our Service Manager ran the Parts Department for a time.

So the lesson that comes from this is IF you want people to stay at your company for decades you need to make sure that you promote from within, not just within each department but across departments. Sometimes it will not work out, and you may want to allow that person to go back to what they were good at. But even if that happens they will be grateful for the chance, and they will have learned a little about how that other part of the company runs. A real WINN WIN!!! NECS’ example of longevity should be more the norm than the exception. How is it at your company?

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh




CUI – Confidential Unclassified Information

August 22, 2017

I had one of my Sales people bring me in to see a customer who wanted to solve their Confidential Unclassified Information issue. They are a Federal Government Contractor and need to be able to demonstrate that they are in compliance with 32 CFR Part 2002, Controlled Unclassified Information. The IT Manager correctly identified that they only need to add a cover sheet to alert users to CUI documents in the printer or MFD tray. The Cover Sheet needs to have specific information on it to identify CUI and show how it is to be handled.

I told him that I could definitely modify a Banner \ Separator Page that could have all the CUI identification and instructions to print out on top of each document that prints to a particular printer or print Queue. A nice low tech solution!

But I have a passion for solving my Customer’s Business problems by combining software, hardware, and know how! So I asked him if he had any concern that someone might simply lift the cover sheet either accidentally or on purpose and see the CUI Document. He asked what else we could do and I told him if the documents get marked “CUI” anywhere in the name of the electronic file, we could use that to trigger a workflow that would re route that CUI Print Job from the Printer Queue the End User selected on the Print Server to a Secure Input Queue and then send the User an email that would tell them that their print job had been re routed and where to pick it up. It doesn’t matter what application they are printing from. If it has CUI anywhere in the name it triggers the CUI Secure Printing workflow. Using this Rules Based Routing workflow with Secure Follow Me type printing they can pick up their CUI print job at any MFD in their company by logging in and releasing the CUI job from the Secure Print Queue, A real nice high tech solution that requires no change in the printing behavior on the end users part!

Let’s take this a step futher and combine the low tech with the high tech solutions and get the best of both. By adding the CUI Separator page to the secure output printer that receives the re routed CUI print job you have the CUI print job inaccessible to anyone except the person who printed it. And even when THEY release the CUI print job it prints with an appropriate CUI Banner \ Separator Page over it. So even after the Authorized User picks it up no one else can casually look at the information in passing. I am now comfortable that we have done everything we can to help our Customer meet their Federal requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh






Nuance & Canon

July 31, 2017

Apparently Nuance and Canon are fighting. How do I know? I can’t get eCopy Sharescan embedded on some of the newest Canon MFDs. Each of these large companies will undoubtedly blame the other, but My customers are the ones that are getting hosed.

I will say that Sharescan isn’t as popular as it once was, because now there are many other scanning solutions that have very similar features. Even the built in scan features that come standard on most MFDs have some of the features that eCopy ShareScan was known for. So many people don’t require, or don’t want a scanning solution that requires a back room server to support it. But eCopy Sharescan still has a terrific Connector Catalog and for customers that have standardized on a solution it is a pain in the butt to ask them to change one or all of their MFDs.

To Nuance I will say “If you force me to change scanning solutions you will never get that customer back”.

To Canon I will say “If you force me to sell a different brand of MFD to a customer that refuses to leave Sharescan we will eventually swap out the rest of their fleet to the new brand of MFDs.

Now Nuance will read what I said to Canon and Canon will read what I said to Nuance. To which I will say READ YOUR OWN MAIL!!! You two need to figure out how to work together so that our shared customers don’t suffer. This has gone on long enough. Stop embarrassing yourselves. You are starting to look like Congress! And you know how low their approval ratings are.

  • That’s My $0.02
  • Vince McHugh
  • vince.mchugh@yahoo.com



Is Ricoh Circling the Drain?

June 23, 2017

While Toshiba’s financial troubles have been front page industry headlines, Ricoh news has only recently come to light as to how much trouble they are in. It’s hard to hide the massive layoffs, or selling all your “down the street” business to your Dealers. This has been a boon to many local dealers, not just Ricoh Dealers, as they hire some very talented Sales people. The stories they tell is that no one’s job is safe at Ricoh. That kind of uncertainty makes Ricoh not a good place to work! It’s Sink or Swim Time for Ricoh!

But this is what happens when you sales organization is focus solely on Market Share and not profit. It has proven to be an unsustainable practice. According to the article in the URL link above “President and CEO Yoshinori Yamashita in the middle of April began visiting Ricoh’s sales outlets in Japan, the U.S. and Europe, urging senior officials to pursue profits instead of more market share.” But this will take a culture change in your Sales Force. If you have trained your sales people to “give it away” and always be the lowest price than that is the only way that they know how to sell. Simply asking them to stop doing that and focus on selling for profit doesn’t train them on how to sell for Profit. It is a tall order. Time will tell if they can actually shift their sales focus. But if they don’t the future of Ricoh is bleak! Yamashita went on to say “We will incur a loss of tens of billions of yen three years from now if nothing is done,” he said. “People around me warn that our survival will then be questioned.” So yes, Ricoh is circling the drain (More Evidence of the Big Crunch). Whether or not they go down the drain will be determined by how well their sales force makes this transition to selling for profit.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh




The Big Crunch Continues!

April 9, 2017

I first wrote about “the big crunch” in 2012 on the Copier Network as a guest blogger. Back then it was Sharp that looked like it was on the verge of insolvency, now Toshiba seems to be the lead candidate for that fate. While 5 years may have changed the landscape of the Copier Industry, the more things change the more they seem to stay the same. Clearly the big Crunch continues.

Ricoh just purged more than a thousand loyal employees and turned over their down the street business to a handful of large Independent Dealers. While this has not made the small to midsize Ricoh Dealers happy, they should see RBS (Ricoh BS Branch) leaving the SMB market as a gift! Other manufacturer’s dealers could only wish that their _BS Branches would disappear.

The Big Crunch seems to also be affecting Xerox. Splitting the company in two, has not seem to have helped Xerox.  They too are engaged in layoffs. One report I read that was posted last month said ~ 50 system analysts were let go across the country. This is especially short sighted on the part of Xerox’s Management team. I personally have seen this move before. Firing an SA (Systems Analyst) or an SE (Systems Engineer) is low hanging fruit, and seems like a quick fix, but it is a trap. SAs and SEs are well paid, and for good reason. But too often the Suits who run these large companies (and have great skills in many areas) don’t understand what the SA / SE really does. After all why do you need a Systems Engineer? SA / SEs are like yeast! You only notice them when they are not there! And you know what happens to bread with out yeast, it goes flat! So does your sales numbers without SAs or SEs! How do I know this? When I was first approached by Ricoh Business Systems the person interviewing me told me that they wanted me to reconstitute a “Solutions Team” to do technical Pre Sales work with the New England Market Place’s Sales Force.  I asked him what had happened to the previous Solutions Team? He said it was disbanded by Ricoh Corporate in a cost cutting move. They didn’t see the value of it. After two years of watching the branches miss their sales numbers they went back and studied what had changed and to their credit they recognized it was the firing of the SA’s and SE’s.

I thought that they had learned their lesson but after the Ricoh \ Lanier merge they did it again! They moved my Solutions Team to the Service Department. This was after my branch had a banner year. We hit our triple crown numbers. We were the only branch of 13 branches to hit these 3 goals and my branch had never done it before in it’s history. But Ricoh Corporate rewarded this excellent performance by dismantling what we had built. I resigned shortly thereafter. I did however see history quickly repeat itself. I go a call six months later from a Sales Manager at RBS. He told me that my name came up in a conversation among the Sales Managers. He stated that as best that they could figure I had cost the Branch a Million Dollars since I left. That is ~ $2 million a year. I asked him if he would mind putting that in writing on Ricoh letterhead, but he politely declined.

That is the problem with firing SA / SEs is you get a small and quick positive impact on your bottom line, as you try to figure out why your sales numbers tank! Xerox is now heading down this perilous downward spiral. And so the BIG CRUNCH continues, but it is not all bad! The Independent Dealers are thriving! It’s good and getting better on this side of the street. We see the Big Crunch as a culling of the heard. We seem to be seeing the dying off of the weak. Maybe a return of the 70s and 80s when the Independent Dealers were large and in charge! We shall see!

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh




HP has a real opportunity with the Samsung MFDs, I hope they don’t screw it up.

November 9, 2016

I have been in the Industry for 30 Years. 25 of them I have spent at NECS which has been in business for 50 Years. This gives me a unique perspective of our industry. I was invited by HP to go Idaho with a fellow SE (Bill Peacan) many, many years ago to take a look at the Mopia and  to see if our dealership wanted to take it on. HP has a great name in the Printer industry. IT people love HP, and while we REALLY liked the idea of having the HP name on our Business cards, we did not take on the Mopier, because it was clearly not ready for prime time (it was a scanner mounted to the top of a printer connected by wires but not really integrated. Our neighbor to the North decided to take on the Mopier and their “challenges” with the product proved to us that our decision to gracefully decline was the correct decision. I will say HP treated us very well during our visit to their Headquarters.

When I first heard that Samsung sold their Printer Division (including MFDs) to HP I was upset with Samsung. They came in with a roar, and much pomp and circumstance, talking about how they planned on being #5 in 3 years, and #3 in 5 years. But Samsung became impatient. Our industry has a way of doing that to companies that think they will bend it to their will. I remember one manufacturer setting up shop (Direct Sales _BS Branch) in our back yard and directly competing with one of their largest dealers in the country. They also came in bragging that they would crush NECS and take our business as well as the Canon market share that IKON and Danka had. Not so much! Why? Because MFDs require support after the sale. When I say support I mean good service and network and solutions support. The Direct Sales offices have never been good at supporting what they sell. They have one good line “We are the Manufacturer, why would you want to buy from a Dealer when you could buy from the Manufacturer?” To which I reply “Who do you know that buys a car directly from GM or Ford?” Why don’t they? Because a car like an MFD needs service after the sale. That is how the large regional dealers have NOT ONLY SURVIVED, BUT THRIVED during the rise and fall of IKON, DANKA & GLOBAL, as well as the rise of the Direct Sales (_BS) Branches. Because they have shown that they CANNOT do what we do. All they can do is be cheaper. And I don’t know anyone who goes out to buy the cheapest Suit, or the cheapest Car, or the cheapest TV that they can find. When it comes to their personal life they demand value. It seems like even some purchasing departments are starting to look beyond who is the cheapest price. Because the sweet taste of a cheap price soon turns bitter in the face of bad service and support. How long is our lease (3, 4, please don’t tell me we have to put up with this terrible service for 5 years).

But what does all this have to do with HP buying Samsung? Perspective! Having seen HP struggle time and time again trying to gain a foothold into the MFD market only to fail time and time again. If you work for HP and you are reading this please don’t get offended as I am simple recounting the facts from the Mopier to the Edgeline to re labeling actual MFDs you have to admit that HP has struggled in this space. Again you ask why? Because HP’s model is a drop ship model. It works great for Printers and you can survive on slim margins because you don’t have to do much of anything when you drop ship a product. MFDs do not lend themselves to a drop ship model. MFDs require infrastructure. You might have 6 to 9 Printers for every one MFD. If a printer goes down, no problem, you simply print to the next closest printer, and you can wait a couple of days or a week to get it fixed. Maybe it is a throw away printer (cheap) and you swap it for a new one rather than fix it. Of course the new one takes different toner and supplies so you end up with a closet full of orphaned supplies. But when your MFD goes down, and you can’t scan, fax, copy or Print in Color the office goes into a panic. That is why MFD dealers have to commit to a 4 hour response time. Those that constantly miss this goal are typically replaced no matter if they are the “cheapest” price next time around.

HP can get something that they wanted when they tried to sell the Mopier, that they have never really had; and independent dealer network to sell and support the Samsung / HP MFD. Their was a time that HP saw the value in this. I fear that they will let the arrogance that has been their hallmark in all their dealings with the Independent Dealer community push them to cut their nose off to spite their face. Samsung has done a good job putting together a National Dealer network. HP could leverage that to continue to sell and support the Samsung / HP MFDs. But they have to do a better job working with the Independent Dealers. HP needs to see it as a symbiotic relationship and not look at the dealers as subservient to the great HP. We are not. We have been successful for decades without you, and we will be successful if HP decides to take the Samsung / HP MFD away from these dealerships. But you know who won’t be successful; HP. Not without a National Dealer Network who can and has done a terrific job supporting MFDs after the sale. HP is another manufacturer or in this case a reseller of a product that the Dealers have had success and growth with. We have done it already and well done is better than well said.

I am not saying that HP couldn’t also sell this product but if they try to do it exclusively like they have done in the pass, and cut off the dealer network well….. Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. I understand that this may be a bitter pill for HP to swallow. But Pride goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction. If they understand that there could be a great relationship between the current Samsung MFD Dealer network and HP and we could work together to help make each other more successful than either of could be on our own. We would have common ground to move forward on. But if they stay true to form, they will try to be heavy handed with the INDEPENDENT Dealers and they will lose their support and market share. The choice is yours HP. Chose wisely!

What would an Independent Dealer like to see from HP? First hire some “Copier People” to handle this channel. Maybe keep the Samsung people and allow them to keep working this channel for you. Secondly, what would be IDEAL for HP and the Dealers is to allow the Independent Dealers to continue to sell the Samsung MFDs (with their Android OS and large Touch Screen unchanged. If HP wants to add their own interface and OS to make it more compatible to the rest of their HP line that’s fine for their sales channel, but allow the DEALER network (Which could be HPs MFD Dealer Network) to keep selling the Samsung either as Samsung (to differentiate themselves, dealers LOVE to differentiate themselves) or if you MUST relabel them as HP (we could live with that) as long as you leave the OS and the Large Touch Screen in place for these dealers. This Independent Dealer network has been successful and will continue to grow IF, and only IF HP embraces the Independent Dealer channel for what it is, a Partner. The ball is in your court HP, don’t screw this up!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


Not All “Copier” Dealers can support Software Solutions!

October 12, 2016

We typically don’t refer to ourselves as “Copier Dealers” anymore unless you have been in the industry for a long time. But there seems to be 3 types of Dealers currently operating in the “Copier Dealer space, with the third type being more rare than the first two.

The first type is the old style Box mover. Their sales people think “solutions” only slow down the sales cycle, but doesn’t understand why his \ her margins keep shrinking. All he wants to know is speeds and feeds. How fast is your current Box (Copier) and can yours do double sided single pass scanning, because my new one can. When they run into competition selling a Solution (see Def of a true solution) they typically drop their price or become dealer type #2.

Type # 2 Dealer relies on the Manufacturer or Software Provider to provide Solution Support. Many Direct Sales Organizations, Branches and smaller Dealers don’t have the resources to provide in house installation or support for a software solution. Far too often I have seem this lead to a software sale that NEVER gets installed or NEVER gets truly up and running. We lost a deal for a school that we had done a real good job supporting over the years. But they asked us to also quote a Document Management System. We had in house folks trained to install & support the DMS Solution and some support from the manufacturer for specialized Workflow. Our competitor was a Global Xerox Company that came to the school in force, made great promises but had a terrible demo, according to the customer. But they “said” it would work great once the new fleet was installed, it didn’t. We were told that we didn’t need to demo our new equipment because they knew us and our equipment and service & support had been constantly good. We thought that it was ours to loose, But they also asked the Xerox \ Global company to propose a Document Management System. They came in $10K lower than we did. The Customer thought that we were “screwing” them so they gave the entire deal to a slick talking sales person from an untested dealership that had never actually done anything for them. My sales person was beside himself as this had been a decent size customer that he and we had taken good care of. His first instinct was to send a nasty email but after he cooled off and we talked he sent a very nice email thanking them for the past business and letting them know to please contact us if there is anything we could ever do (That is how a professional sales person handles this kind of situation). They called him SIX MONTHS later asking if there was any way he could get them out of their lease with the Xerox Global equipment? He said yes, in about 2 more years! And he did. They told us about the terrible experience they had with this Global Xerox Dealer. This school is 99.5% MACs. All you have to do is walk around, or walk into the IT Dept and there are MACs everywhere. Even their Windows OS run on MAC hardware. The Global Xerox Sales Person had the nerve to ask them “When they became a MAC house?” This Clueless Sales person apparently didn’t notice or didn’t want to know because as soon as they did an upgrade tot heir MAC OS all of their printing broke. And the Global Xerox Sales Person said that this was the School’s fault because they never told him they were a MAC house???? Really???? He must have been wearing blinders. We also found out that this Global Xerox Dealer paid to have an SE fly in from Florida to do the installation, configuration and training for the new Document Management System (DMS) that they sold to the school. But at the end of the week, it was not up and running and the SE from Florida said “I gotta go” because the Dealer only paid for a week of his time. They NEVER got the DMS running!!! I later told the IT Director if I knew that I didn’t have to get my DMS System running we could have come in $10,000 cheaper too. For some reason he did not think that was funny.

The Third Type of Dealer is typically found in the large regional Dealers. These dealers understand the value of having in house Systems Engineers (SEs) and most of them will have separate Pre & Post Sales SEs (There is a difference). The top tier of these dealers believe in Team Selling, pairing up a Pre Sales Systems Engineer with a Sales Person and have the SE get involved early in the Sales process to “set the bar” to show the customer that not all “dealers” are the same. They will all talk about Solutions but they cannot all fulfill their proposals. I have seen it time and time again from both “copier dealers” and many direct sales branches of the manufacturers. I can’t tell you how many times a new Customer has fallen for it because they are “Cheaper” than e Dealer who really provides (Sells, Installs, and Supports) Solutions. We have picked up, or gotten back so many customers who have believed that “all Dealers are the same”, they are not and some times a customer has to suffer through this painful truth for a couple of years before they can get out of their lease and come to or come back to a REAL Solutions Providing Dealer. That was the case of the School I spoke about above. I will say we don’t always get everything perfect the first try. But we don’t abandon our customers we continue to work with them (if they will work with us) until the solution is up and running as the customer was promised. We recently installed UniFLOW for a large Customer on their AWS (Amazon Web Servers) Servers. It was so new that there really wasn’t much info about how to do it. But we hung in there and worked through the issues, most of which were caused by the costumer locking down every single port (including 8000, 515, and 9100). Ports that we consider normally to be open by default. But we worked through the issues and got it working. In contrast the Direct Sales Branch was kicked off this same network because they couldn’t get UniFLOW to work even on their standard Local Area Network (LAN). That is the difference between a Real Solutions Providing Dealer and one that simple says “we can do that to”. Well Done is better than Well Said!!! Don’t get fooled by a slick talking sales person, ask to speak to their SEs, ask them where they live, and where they are based out of, ask the Dealer or Branch how many SEs they have locally. Now this costs the Dealership money, so we won’t be the cheapest price, but they will be the best value. What is the point in buying a solution if it never gets installed or installed correctly? That Money is wasted. It’s funny that I don’t know anyone who looks to buy the cheapest TV, or the cheapest Car, or the Cheapest Suit. We look for value, the best value, But this almost always costs a bit more than the cheapest. So when you are looking for more than a copy machine, when you want to truly leverage the power of the MFD or Smart MFD so that your company or organization gets the most value from it, than you will need to buy it from a Dealer who has a track record of not just selling software but installing and supporting it. Not all Copier Dealers can support the Software that they sell.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Samsung’s Smart Color Manager!!!

July 21, 2016

Unless you live under a rock or are a Luddite (look it up) you know that Samsung’s newest MFDs run on an Android Platform. They are for all intents and Purposes a Samsung Android Tablet “firmly attached and integrated into an MFD. In a post called “Defining our Terms” I talk about “Smart MFDs” I am not sure what to call what Samsung did except “Brilliant” (Think Guinness commercial voice). Not only did they make an MFD that is run by a TRUE ANDROID TABLET (Not just looks like one) but they have it open up (or locked down enough if you prefer) to add what YOU NEED!!!! NOT WHAT THE MFD MANUFACTURER THINKS YOU NEED, OR TELLS YOU THAT YOU NEED! (no my caps locks didn’t get stuck).

I am in my quarterly Sales Kick Off meeting when Samsung Reps Joe Alacata and Claude Jacobs start talking about all these apps that you can download from the Samsung Printing App Store and one of my newer sales guys ( Gian ) starts talking about how he used the Samsung (free) Smart Color Monitor to save a deal. He said he replaced a particular brand of MFD with a Samsung and the customer was unhappy because it printed different. And in the Color world different = wrong! Even if your color is better and more accurate to what they see on the screen they want it to look like it always looked. So Samsung was smart! They added in Simulations to match Canon, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, and Xerox. And they work pretty good and get you pretty close, but what if that isn’t good enough???? Enter Samsung’s Smart Color Management (free) tool. You could compare it to EFI’s Profiler except it cost $4,000 less and is easier to use. Now you probably saying how could anything free be that good! Well Samsung has a goal, world domination!!! Doctor Evil Laugh (Hear Dr Evil Voice hear here). Well at least in every industry that they are in, but let’s limit this discussion to Samsung wanting to be #1 in Digital Copiers \ MFDs. That’s a pretty tall order for those of us who have been in this industry for 30 years or more. But they have said that 5 in 3 years and 3 in 5. I think they are a little behind schedule but you know what is going to launch them to meet these goals? Apps!!!! Killer APPS!!!! The future of our industry “is” the Killer App. If I can find out what is the MOST important App in your industry and I can add it to my Samsung MFD (easily) and NO OTHER MANUFACTURER CAN will I need to be as cheap as you? No! Because you can’t do what I can do. I set the bar to high for you by doing more with my Samsung than you can with your brand.

But I digress. What is one thing standing in the way of replacing your current brand with a Samsung? How about all the files that you’ve printed for the last 20+ years on your old brand. You want them to look the same when you print them on your new cooler, much cooler Samsung, no? Enter Samsung Smart Color Manager! Samsung Smart Color Management Pages

This cool little tool (did I mention it was free to download to your new Samsung?) will let you print a color gamut page to your target device (A) and then it will print out the same gamut page to it’s own Samsung device (B). THEN you scan them in one at a time (A then B) and it adjusts the Samsungs Color Gamut to match the target device. Pretty Frickin’ cool! And I am not easily impressed. But one of my Salesman did it with NO Training, he just downloaded it and figured it out. So I downloaded it (You need Admin rights) and installed it and I profiled a machine from a competitor with a fiery Tower Rip on it that cost 4 times what my Samsung cost (maybe more). Then I printer out 3 samples that we use a lot to show very specific strengths or weaknesses in a device, and I showed them around.

The first guys I showed them to has sold color for 30 Years, and I highly respect his opinion. I showed him two documents of each sample with the name of the device it was printed on written on the back of each (to make it fair). It took him 3 Minutes per document but he got them all correct. You may think that is a failure, but I don’t. He has a very good, very critical color eye. If HE could not immediately tell then the average person will never tell the difference. The only other person to get all 3 correct was my Service trainer and it was because of a particular finish that he knew the non Samsung – Fiery did when it laid down it’s color. The best any other sales person got was 2 for 3, some 1 for 3. If this little free app can make it that hard to tell the difference between a top of the line (Think Industry leader) Color “Press” with a Fiery Tower, and a little old Samsung then I think there will be very few, VERY FEW MFDs that I can’t replace with a Samsung running Smart Color Manager.

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh



Ode to TechNet!

June 14, 2016

Technet 2

How many of you ever attended a “TechNet”? Maybe I should be a little more specific. How many of you (SEs) ever attended a Canon TechNet? I hear some other group called there gathering “TechNet” as well, but I am talking about the ones that Canon used to run down at Disney World (Florida) and Disney Land (CA) in August! It’s where many SEs learned their trade. I can still remember going to my first one and they had “remedial seminars” (for lack of a better word) for new SEs Like Managing Color. That’s where Mike Betsco (Now with Samsung, but back then with Canon) taught me the “Red Car By GM” trick to remember the relationship between RGB and CMYK color. In the early days EFI and eCopy were very involved in presenting their own solutions but towards the end Canon did ALL the presentations with maybe a vendor in the room for support.

The beat up picture above was a luggage tag that they gave out years ago. It finally fell off my bag this weekend and made me think about writing this blog. These were a great 3 days, not only because I got to take my young family on the cheap trip (a couple extra bucks for the room, and their own airfare, meals, and Disney Passes) but it was where I learned my trade as a Systems Engineer (SE). But then Arnold got caught, and TechNets stopped. Today the Canon executives shudder when you bring up the name Technet! But what has replaced it? Nothing really. So instead of taking a couple of years to get an SE up and running it now takes 5 years (IMHO) to get an SE who knows enough to be valuable. I once brought on a Network Engineer that was once our main contact at a large customer. He managed the fleet of Canons and when there was a problem he placed the call. When that customer closed the location he was working at it seemed like a good idea to bring him on as an SE. But even though he was a real good Network Engineer, and was responsible for the MFDs as a Customer (Main Contact) he really didn’t know the MFDs that well and that hurt him (I now think it’s better to promote from within or hire an SE who has done the job already). I had no Technet to send him to, where he could be exposed to 20 – 30 different technology solutions that Canon sold and we supported. As it turned out the economy turned bad and we had to let someone go, last in first out, but I am not sure he would have made it anyway. Not REALLY his fault. Where do you go today to learn to be a real SE, not a copier repair tech who knows a little about computers? You can get a CompTIA NET+ certification and that is a real good start, maybe you can get your company to send you to Fiery, Nuance, Papercut, or UniFLOW training, but God help you if you fail. You probably won’t be going to another school. I miss Technet, I have even proposed that it be done regionally at the Canon Regional Training centers so MOST SEs could drive there, and all it would cost is a hotel and a couple of days of meals. But Canon doesn’t seem interested at all. Maybe now that Mike Betsco is over at Samsung they can run a Technet to train SEs on their solutions.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh


PS: Maybe when I retire I will start a consulting buisness to train Systems Engineers. 🙂


The way ALL Print Drivers SHOULD be written!

February 18, 2016

Let me start out by saying I don’t write print drivers. I am a Systems Engineer so I set them up, configure them, and sometimes I hack them to make them do what I want them to do. About six weeks ago I was working with a customer that was using a Universal PS driver of a particular Print Management system and ran into an all too common problem.

The customer was getting some Postscript errors on random print jobs and asked to try the Universal PCL driver. I thought sure they “are” two completely different print drivers. They have to be because they use a different print language (PCL vs PS). At least, that is what I thought! But it wasn’t the case. To be fair the Print Management system had been upgraded about six months earlier but the Universal Print Driver that was being used by the client PCs were still the older PS one. I could tell because the older one had 3 tabs in its printing preferences settings, while the new one had only one.

As a best practice I typically pull the the driver from the resource web page of the Print Management Server. When I did this and set up the NEW PCL Universal driver it also unfortunately updated the OLD PS Universal Driver. This caused the OLD PS Universal Driver to become unstable. And caused me and the IT Manager a fair amount of unnecessary and unwanted work. All because of a poorly written Universal Driver.

Universal Drivers are becoming more popular as a way of only having to load a single driver (ideally) or at least fewer drivers on a print server. Why is that important? Because as anyone who has worked in the print industry for any time will tell you; print drivers don’t always place nice with one another.

The reason this happens is the files that make up most print drivers end up in the same folder:


In and of itself this is not a problem. And generally different manufacturers name their files differently so they don’t over write or get overwritten by another manufacturers print driver. You would think that each Manufacturer would either write backward compatible print drivers (ideally) or at the very least their newer print drivers would not overwrite their own older files if they are not going to be backwards compatible. But sadly this is all to commonly not the case. Once a newer driver has overwritten a file used by and older driver and caused it to become unstable or create new unwanted behavior it can be very difficult to remove the driver, even with some of the cool driver removal tools that many of the manufacturers provide. I speak form the experience of battle.

But I recently was pleasantly surprised when I was working on another Print Management system that had some Samsung Print Drivers already installed. We wanted to test a new Universal Samsung print driver. But this wasn’t the first rodeo for this IT Manager. Just before we loaded the new Universal print driver he turned to me and said “remember, this is a production print server”. Then he asked me will this new Samsung driver interact with any of the Samsung drivers that are already installed? I told him that I honestly did not know, so I would do some testing on my Demo room system and let him know.

I went back to my Demo Room and the first thing I did was print out test pages on all of the current Samsung Printers. then I loaded the new Samsung Universal Print Driver and printed out it’s test page and all the other Samsung Printer test pages again. Why, you ask? Because each test page lists all the files that that Print Driver uses and where they are located. When I did this I got a very pleasant surprise! Samsung wrote their print drivers so that each one of the files had a specific and unique prefix for each of their Print Drivers. A great BEST PRACTICE when writing a driver. This way none of their drivers files would overwrite (or be overwritten) the file of another print driver even though the were all installed in the same “3” Folder.


This is the way all print drivers should be written! Well done Samsung, well done!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
VP \ Network Solutions


The Nine Month Trial

February 14, 2016

I am not a big fan of on site trials. Usually when a Sales guy tells me that their Customer wants to do an onsite demo I ask why? What can they see on site that that can’t see in our demo room. Maybe they have some custom application or a Host system that they want to see print correctly. In those cases I ask the Sales person to write up a conditional sale. They negotiate an acceptable price and we set some very well defined conditions. These do not include “if we like the machine” or “If our users are happy with it”. These are two vague and capricious. A conditional like “it must print form our AS400 system and format the pages like our current printer does”. Or maybe “It must be able to scan to email from our Office 365 email server”. These are well defined and achievable conditions that once met we will get the deal. If a customer refuses to sign a conditional sale, be ware, their commitment level is probably not where it needs to be to risk doing that much work.

There are of course exceptions, but it is generally based on the risk reward ratio. If we spend the time to set up an MFD, that’s not that time consuming. But if I have to set up am  UniFLOW, Papercut, or Biscom Server for a trial that takes just as much time to do it for a trial as it would for a real installation. And that’s fine “IF” there is a big enough return on investment. I am very confident in our ability to make our MFDs work with most systems. I like to tell people if your running Windows, Mac, Unix, Linux. AS400, we can and have integrated our devices with these systems. Pretty much anything except Banyan Vines :-). And if you know what that is you’ve been doing networking for a very long time.

About nine months ago one of my top sales woman got me involved in a presale opportunity where the potential customer was currently using Equitrac with Konica Minoilta MFDs to print from a host system processing medical billing. The customer has the need to occasionally reprint jobs for the end users if they didn’t print correctly or at all. The KMBS Branch added some separate software called Phoenix Dispatcher to add this functionality that Equitrac could not accomplish. It did however require the Customer’s IT Dept to do the reprinting of the jobs based on a date and time range.

NECS believes in team selling. Having both a seasoned Sales Parson and a Pre Sales Systems Engineer to better define not only the customer’s needs but what would be the best solution to satisfy that need. You may have heard me say in the past that I believe a true solution is a combination of Hardware, Software, and Know How used to solve a Business Problem. The Pre Sales SE needs to not only understand what the customer is trying to do but why and then consider all the different options available to best meet this need. Sometimes a good SE can help a customer revamp or reinvent how they do a particular process or workflow saving them significant time and money. But that only happens when there is a certain level of trust and a good working relationship between the vendor and the customer.

When we first met with this customer they told us the basic functionality they had was working “OK” but they were unhappy with the reliability of the Konica Minolta MFDs and even more so with the lack of support from the KMBS Branch. They were interested in replacing the KMs with Canons but not all at once. And here is where it gets complicated. After understanding what they were doing now, what they liked and didn’t like, and what they were hoping to accomplish we gave them a couple of options:

  1. Keep using your current Equitrac System with your Phoenix Dispatcher System and we will simply add Canon MFDs with embedded Equitrac MEAP apps to replace the Konica Minoltas that are failing. We would need to order RFIDead Card Readers and do some testing to match the current HID OmniKey Card readers on the KM MFDs. But a number of our vendors (Nuance, Cranel, RFIDeas) said “no problem” we will be able to match the card numbers read by the OmniKey Reader.
  2. . We also proposed replacing the Equitrac System in three  possible ways:
    1. Add a UniFLOW System to run alongside their current Equitrac System and it would eventually be replaced as we replaced more and more KMs with Canons.
    2.   Completely replace the  Equitrac System with the UniFLOW system and use the UniFLOW Universal Release Stations (URS) to release the print jobs on the KMs and the Canons would use their built in UniFOW MEAP app.
    3. The third option we considered was Papercut but we dismissed it early because while it has a nice Archiving feature, there is no mechanism currently in place for mass reprinting or even reprinting a batch of print jobs.

When the KMBS Branch found out that the customer was talking to us and that they were considering replacing some of their Konica Minolta MFDs with Canons they said “You know that you wil need to have two separate input queues for secure printing. One for the KMs and one for  the Canons”. They asked us if this was true and we confirmed that Yes, this is how Equitrac does it. We did tell them that with the Canon UniFLOW System you could have a single secure input queue for BOTH the Canon & the KM if they used the UniFLOW Universal Print Driver.

The first option failed to be satisfactory when we could not get the new RFIDeas Card Readers to read their HID cards exactly the same. We worked with RFIDeas, Cranel, and Nuance and the only solution that they came up with was to dumb down the readers to read a 5 digit card number. This was unacceptable to the Customer. So we moved on to a UniFLOW System.

When we installed the UniFLOW system we loaded UniFLOW MEAP apps on the Canon MFDs and set up UniFLOW URS (Uninflow Release Stations) near each of the Konica Minolta MFDs. While we recommended that NECS take over the service on all of the KMs as well as the Canons the fact that we didn’t actually have to load any software on them or modify them in anyway to use the UniFLOW Release Stations they could if they want to still have the Branch continue to service them until we replaced them with Canons. Two of the things that the Customer REALLY liked about the UniFLOW System were that you could not only use a single Secure Input Queue for multiple MFD manufacturers BUT the End Users could reprint there own documents WITHOUT any third party software (like KM’s Phoenix Dispatcher) on either the Canons or the Konica Minoltas becasue they both show a new print job queue and a previously printed job queue (if activated). This was a big deal for the IT Department because it meant they no longer had to reprint users documents.

So we worked hard, and worked through the different challenges to deliver the perfect solution to this customer, right? Well, not so fast. All that I described above with the UniFLOW System worked as advertised BUT this particular user had two more requirements. The first requirement is  all documents had to be printed in the exact order that they were sent to the Secure Print Queue. And the Second requirement is they all had to print at the rated speed of the Engine (Canon or KM). These two requirements were BOTH do able but NOT with the Universal Print Driver. Technically that’s not true, The Universal Print Driver can print in order and at rated speed unless you print a very large number of single page jobs, which, you guessed it, that is what this customer does. We have never seen a slow down before because we had not dealt with a customer that would print 200 – 500 single page jobs and then release them all at once.

We worked with NTware & Canon for over a month to try to get this resolved and finally had to tell the customer that the only way we could get them to print at rated speed and in order for 200 – 500 single page jobs we would need to use the actual Manufacturer’s Print Driver, which would mean in this case UniFLOW, like Equitrac, would need to use a separate secure input queue for the KMs and the Canons respectfully. The customer was not happy and asked us to keep working on the Universal driver to accomplish all three functions:

1. Print at rated speed

2. Release all the Print Jobs in the same order that the user sent them

3. Use one secure input Print queue for both the Canon and the Konica Minolta MFDs.

We exhausted all of our technical resources and ultimately had them have to pick two. They chose the first two and after all the work we did decided to keep the KMs  on the Equitrac System until they got to the point that they wanted to replace them with Canons. At that point we would move them over to UniFLOW. And when the last KM MFD was replaced they would decommission their Equitrac Server. I know that we proposed this months and months ago but Customers want it all, and to tell you the truth I want to give them it all, whenever possible. But sometimes technology has limitations. I am not sure why this customer didn’t kick us out, except to say I think they were REALLY unhappy with their current Vendor. It took us finally saying “no” we can only do two of the three requirements to get them to say OK. We can live with that. So we did a nine month trial and we won the deal. This felt like a bare knuckle 15 round fight. When we hit the road blocks that we were not able to completely overcome my very Seasons Sales Person was beside herself, and not happy with me because it had never happened before. But when all was said and done and we won the deal she understood just how difficult the technical requirements were to meet. I think the Customer stayed with us because we demonstrated a commitment to keep working with them to give them the best possible solution that was available.  And that is what they got!

It was a tough, challenging nine month trial, but we won the deal. And somehow that makes it as I look back on all the effort it took, worth it!

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh







Is Canon Solutions America (CSA) hurting Canon’s Reputation?

September 8, 2015

Twice in the last two weeks I received information that makes me think this is true. The first one was a call from a Facility Management (FM) company that had CSA as their servicing dealer for their Canon equipment, but they called NECS to see if we could provide Professional Services on a technical solution that CSA seemed unable to get working. We have worked with this particular FM on a number of other deals, but we always had at least the service, and typically the equipment sales. For this particular customer the FM wanted to pay NECS to fix what CSA could not get working. I had to turn them down. I did tell them if they wanted to turn the service over to us I would be able to help them, but a few hours or even days of professional services fees was not worth it if we had to help make CSA look good. They are, after all our direct competitors when it comes to selling Canon equipment. NECS also sells Samsung and Konica Minolta MFDs.

The second call I received that leads me to believe that CSA is hurting Canon’s reputation was from a Sales Person. He called a potential customer (a High School) that we had submitted a proposal in response to their RFP. The customer said they let CSA place a Canon but it could not do several of the things that their RFP required. My sales person let them know that the problem wasn’t the Canon but the company (CSA) that was supporting it, or rather their lack of support. Both my sales guy and I know that we could have made the Canons work just fine in their environment. But I’m sure that CSA (formally Canon Business Solutions or CBS) pulled their classic “We’re the Manufacturer. Why would you buy from a Dealer when you could buy directly from the manufacturer. A number of years ago we lost a Canon deal to CBS (now CSA). They used the same pitch, and the customer (a large Financial House) bought it. Words are just words until they are backed up with good service and support. CBS \ CSA’s service and support was so poor that this customer would not even let them bid when the first three year lease was up. When we came back in to meet with their team we told them that NECS would not be the cheapest option that they would get. But, I added, “You’ve seen what the cheapest looks like, and I don’t think you want that again”, to which the whole table nodded in agreement! The sweet taste of a cheap price is quickly forgotten in the face of poor service. We not only won the business but we have been able to keep it by keeping them happy. They loved the Canon product they just hated the poor support that CBS \ CSA provided. CSA is no more Canon then CBS was. Canon is a manufacturer, and they do a good job building Canon MFDs. But who buys a car from GM or FORD directly? No one, you buy a car from a local dealer, who can service and support you after the sale, That is where CSA falls short. For the most part they remind me of a Hollywood western town. From the front it looks like a real town, but there is nothing standing behind it! No local dispatch or warehouses, and there top service and support comes from New Jersey or somewhere else in the Country.

Unless the business card says “Canon” and that’s it, not “Canon Solutions America” you are just dealing with “the branch”, a sales organization, treated by Canon no differently that an Independent Canon Dealer. The difference is the Independent Dealer has significantly more infrastructure to back it up. A number of years back Canon lost a large amount of it’s distribution when Ikon, Danka, and Global were purchased by other manufacturers. They opened up direct sales branches in most major markets as a defensive move. While I understand why they did it, I think that they may live to regret it. Because while the Canon product is great, Canon Solutions America is making customers and potential customer think that they are not.

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh




What ever happened to Loyalty?

August 19, 2015

Read my latest blog on The Copier Network

My adult daughter recently applied for two different jobs after working for four years at one company. Her resume showed her advancing from part time to full time to a counter manager position. I remember thinking after reviewing her resume before she sent it out that a hiring manager would really like what they see. She stayed put at one company for four years taking on greater and greater responsibility. That is someone worth investing in. Read More …


Vince McHugh



NECS Fax Anywhere brings Faxing into the 21st Century!

March 21, 2015

How would you like to turn every one of your Canon, Samsung, or Konica Minolta MFDs into a 21st Century Fax, WITHOUT adding a fax board, or a POTS (plain old telephone system) phone line or even an analog to digital convertor. You won’t need any of these with the NECS Fax Anywhere functionality.

The NECS Fax Anywhere enables all your MFDs to be able to fax! We can provide 800 numbers or local numbers, and there are no long distant charges. Sound pretty good, doesn’t it? It gets better. With this new NECS Fax Anywhere functionality you also get an Audit trail. You can prove that you sent or received a fax on a certain day, at a certain time.

The NECS Fax Anywhere functionality comes in three flavors:

1) Completely Cloud Based (no software or hardware required on your network).

2) Hybrid Cloud Solution (a Small Software Package is loaded on a Windows Server on your network).

3) On Site Fax server (can be enabled with redundant fax server support in the cloud).

We can also provide Smart Device (iphone, Android) Fax apps, and Fax via email and even fax enable your core applications with our NECS Fax Anywhere solution. Let’s face it faxing is still a part of business in our modern offices. Sometimes faxing is either the right medium or the only medium to deliver certain documents. NECS Fax Anywhere gives you all the convenience of faxing without the old fashion fax machine, or fax board, or expensive phone line.

Fax Servers are better than network (print to fax) faxes because you get better reporting and audit trails. But you also can get advanced routing, or direct inbound dialing. Do you want each of your sales people to have their own fax number that comes directly to their own email? NECS Fax Anywhere can provide this. But do you want that same sales person to be able to walk up to an MFD or Digital Copier that has no fax board or phone line and be able to send out a fax that will come from their personal fax account? NECS Fax Anywhere can provide all this functionality.

We at NECS are excited about offering Fax Anywhere Functionality to our customers!

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh




More bad news for Sharp

March 9, 2015

I wrote a blog about Sharp a while back. https://theconnectedcopier.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/sharp-denies-rumours-that-they-are-selling-their-copier-division/ Sharp denied the rumors.

But the bad news keeps on rolling in for Sharp.

Here are some quotes from a BloombergBusiness Article:

“Sharp’s core business is as bad as it could get,” said Atul Goyal, a senior analyst at Jefferies Group LLC in Singapore.”

“Shares of Sharp fell 5.3 percent, the most since Jan. 19, to 232 yen in Tokyo, widening their decline to 13 percent this year.”

“Japan’s Rating and Investment Information downgraded the consumer-electronics maker to B- from B+”

“Hurdles to Sharp Corp.’s restructuring are becoming even higher.”

“The newspaper also reported that Sharp’s fiscal 2015 net loss may reach 100 billion yen, and the company may shut its Mihara chip plant and exit its solar business.”

“Standard & Poor’s cut its credit rating on Sharp to CCC+ with a negative outlook”

“In 2012, when the company should’ve been celebrating its 100th anniversary, executives were releasing the company’s worst financial results ever (nearly $5 billion of losses)….the bleeding has not stopped. Sharp is forecasting a $251 million loss in the 12 months ending March”

My Comments start here:

I am betting that the people who complained the loudest about the opinions I expresses in my 2012 blog article have already found there way to the exit.

The burning question that once again rears it’s ugly head is what will become of Sharps MFD (Copier) Business? It has value, so who will buy it?

Makes you go Hmmmm?

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh




NECS Celebrates 50 Years in Business!

January 5, 2015

Charlie & Vince

In 1965 Charlie Tiernan started NECS. Today it is the largest dealer in New England. 50 years is a half century. That’s a long time to be in business. Even more impressive when you consider what went on during those same 50 years. It was during this time that Ikon, Danka, & Global both rose to power and eventually were gobbled up by manufacturers. If I had a nickel for every time one of the three big national dealers said “We are going to buy NECS” I would probably be retired today. But here we are in 2015 and NECS is still here and Ikon, Danka, & Global are gone. That doesn’t happen by accident, or by luck. It takes hard work and a commitment to excellence!

NECS, then New England Copy Specialist humble beginnings started in Lynn, Ma. Today its Headquarters are in Woburn, Ma with a total of seven offices throughout New England. The picture above was taken in 2000 when I received an award for “Connectivity”. Based on the tie I am wearing this was at our yearly Christmas Party. I still have that award in my office today. I still have that tie too, LOL!

NECS Award

One of the things that makes NECS a great company is it’s people. It is surprising to me just how many people have worked there for over 20 years, some for over 30 years! It is very rare thing today. Another phenomenon that I have not only observed but participated in is how many people have left NECS only to return to work there again. NECS is a good place to work. It is a good company with a lot of good people in key positions. NECS is a good partner, and takes care of their customers. It is this passion for excellent service & support after the sale that has allowed NECS to not only survive for 50 years in a very competitive market place but to thrive and grow into the largest dealer in New England.

In the words of Tim McGraw “I’d like to take a moment to celebrate my age. the ending of an era, the turning of a page”. Happy Anniversary NECS! Here’s to the next 50 Years!

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

VP \ Network Solutions



NECS Integrates Biscom SFT Server with Canon ImageRUNNER Advance!

August 17, 2014

IR-Adv Biscom SFT Integration

I spent last Friday afternoon at Biscom’s headquarters working with their Systems Engineers. My initial goal was to set up the Canon ImageRUNNER Advance MFD that we had loan them to integrate with their Bisocm Fax Server. We used UniFLOW to accomplish this integration. When it comes to integrating Fax Servers with UniFLOW “I have stood on the shoulder’s of giants!” Men like Erick Miller (Ray Morgan) and Joe Lucas (NTware) who pioneered UniFLOW \ Fax Server integration.

We got the Canon IR-Adv MFD set up so that it would send emails through their email server, but when an end user would type in JUST a fax number where the email usually goes the UniFLOW system was smart enough to route it directly to the Fax Server, bypassing the email server altogether.  Since the end user was “logged in” at the Canon IR-Adv MFD, Uniflow knew the email address of the logged in user. This allowed the Fax Server to show that the Fax came from them, and the fax sent receipt would also show up in their email. I had just set up this same functionality at a private school in the morning, So it only took me all of about 30 minutes to do at Biscom.

We had blocked off the entire afternoon so we had some time to kill. I got to talking with the Biscom Engineers about also setting up the Canon IR-ADV MFD to send emails via their Secure File Transfer Server. There wasn’t an easy trigger (like a fax number) to allow the UniFLOW Server to differentiate a normal Scan to Email from a Secure Scan to email. So I set up a different button on the Canon (see picture above) to ALWAYS send to the Secure File Transfer Server. It worked great!!!

Think about what this means to an office. We can set up a single Canon ImageRUNNER-Advance MFD to Scan and send a file via

1. Scan to Email

2. Scan to Fax Server

3. Scan to Secure File Transfer

The first two can be done by the standard Canon Universal Send when we enhance it with UniFLOW. The third option can be done by either a separate MEAP Button, or I am confident we will also be able to set it up via a UniFLOW Advanced Scanning Workflow Button (we are still working on this).

In practice this means that the average end user can send an email to their own email (Scan to myself) or their Home Directory (Scan to MyFolder) or someone else in their company (Via an LDAP Address Book tied to their Active Directory). Most corporate email servers are set up to allow users to Scan “to” the server but not allow them to scan “through” the email server to an outside email address. This is often done for security reasons. Since Our Canon ImageRUNNER-Advance is set up to allow Ad-Hoc Secure File Transfer via the Biscom SFT Server, when an End User needs to email a file outside of the organization they choose the Biscom SFT button which will send a link to the documents via email, but the recipient needs to login to the Biscom Secure File Transfer Server to actually download the files.

Finally an End Users can send a Fax by simply typing the Fax # or selecting a Fax # from the Address book and sending it as if it were an email. Giving them the simplicity of sending a fax from the MFD, but also giving them all the benefits of a Fax Server, like fax receipts being emailed back to their personal email account, and improved reporting, allowing them to prove they sent a particular fax two months ago. Limited reporting capabilities is one of the greatest limitations of faxing from an MFD or stand alone faxes.

This new Canon \ UniFLOW \ Biscom integration will empower End Users to deliver documents inside or outside their organization in the most secure manner possible. That will make both end users and the CSO happy, Not an easy task to do!

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh





Welcome Back!

July 28, 2014

A little over 3 years a go we lost an account to a Global (Xerox) Branch selling Konica Minolta. It was a school that by all accounts they said that we were doing a good job supporting the equipment, and that our Canon equipment had run well. I think part of the problem was they asked us to include in the bid a price for a Document Management system with an AP Workflow. Our price was about $10K higher than the Global quote. Which I think pissed them off and made them think we were gouging them. We weren’t!

Global put in some Konica Minolta MFDs for a demo and the feedback we got was that it didn’t work well during the Demo, but they came in with a half dozen “Suits” and wowed the customer with promises of what they would do to make it “right”. We asked if we could put in our new equipment for a demo and they told us that there was no need because they knew our equipment. We truly thought that we had earned their business by what we had done to support them over the life of the lease. We did not realize just how upset they were over our DMS \ Workflow price. So they went with Global and their Konica Minolta proposal.

My sales guy was livid, beside himself that he had lost this good customer when he \ we had done such a good job supporting the customer. He resisted the urge to say bad things, and he sent an email to the customer’s key contacts and said he really appreciated their business in the past, and was sorry to hear that they had chosen to go with the competition. And If there was anything he could ever do for them, please don’t hesitate to call (a true sales professional). He did get a call six months into the new 3 year Global lease, and the customer was asking if there was any way he could get them out of their lease (2 & 1/2 years remaining). This school is 98% MACs. Mac boxes and Apple stickers were all over the IT Department’s office. Well the school updated there Mac OS from 10.5 to 10.6 and all there printing broke. They called us because the Global Branch was not able to get them printing (other than the Generic Print Driver) for six months. The Branch management finally sent the school a letter saying that the problem was the schools fault because they (Global) never knew that they were a “MAC House”.

I also found out that the DMS \ AP Workflow solution that Global proposed for $10K less than our proposal was never brought to an actual functional state. They had only booked 1 week of time for their SE that came in from Florida and when it wasn’t functional at the end of the week the SE still left to go back to Florida. THe local Global Branch apparently didn’t have any local SEs to finish the project. We were told that the school ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars more on this DMS \ Workflow solution and they never got it to work to the schools satisfaction.  When all was said and done the school ended up paying more than twice what I had proposed. I thought to myself that I too could have come in $10,000 cheaper if I didn’t have to make it work too. But that’s not how we do business!

We couldn’t get the customer out of their Global lease two and a half years early, but we stayed in touch and we did get the business back at a price we could all live with just recently. The customer said that they thought that they would get everything that we had provided PLUS all of the new promises that Global “Said” that they would provide. But that is not how it worked out. Sometimes customers take good service & support for granted. They think anyone can do it. But the truth is it is more rare than you think. And good service & support cost a little more. We never try to be the cheapest because even if you win the deal everyone loses! The sales person loses because he can’t make an honest profit on the deal. The Service department loses because they are not taking in enough money to provide the proper level of service to keep the customer happy. The customer loses because the sweet taste of a “cheap price” quickly fades in the face of poor service and support. Everyone SAYS that they have good service, or great service, but not everyone actually does! I think it is more the exception than the rule in our industry. But it is puzzling that a current customer would leave what by their own admission was good service & support on equipment that they said ran well for the “Promise” of the same from a company that has yet to prove anything to them. All because they were a little cheaper. Their is an old proverb that states “Well Done, is better than Well Said!”

This is not the first customer that we have let go, only to get back after that lease is up. And when we do get them back they don’t ask us to be the cheapest bid, because they have seen the cheapest and decided that’s not what they want!

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh




Ricoh is charging their customers to take a phone call for meter reads or a supply order!

May 6, 2014

I wrote an article for TheCopierNetwork.Com on this subject. Please go and read it and then let me know your thoughts.




Vince McHugh



Help!!! She stole my company’s data!!!

February 23, 2014

Twice in recent memory I have had a customer ask if I can you recover data from their copier’s hard drive? It seems that both companies learned too late that the person who they just let go (or quit) walked out of the door with sensitive customer information. In other words they stole your company’s data.

Q. How big of a deal is this?

Q. How would it affect your company if it happened to you?

The individual’s in the above scenarios used a very sophisticated method to obtain this confidential data…. They printed it out! You may be consoling yourself by saying we don’t let our sales people print out their customer list. And each sales person ONLY has access to their own list of customers, not the entire list. That’s good, but how about your Sales Managers, or VPs? I am sure that there are some people in your organization that have much greater access to your customer data. Lucky for you those people NEVER leave a company, especially not yours. Who are we kidding, the reality is people of all levels leave companies all the time. It is a fact of life in our modern world. And even if a Geo Sales Rep doesn’t get to take all of your customer list, do you want him / her to take any of it? I think not.

Unfortunately both of these customers came to me after the fact. They wanted to see if I could close the barn door after all the horses had been let out. I tell them that we can pull the hard drive out of your MFD, and we can sell you a new one and install it (at a reasonable charge) and you can take it to a forensic expert to see what they can get off of it. But it’s not easy, and its not meant to be easy. Copier \ MFD manufacturers don’t publish the specs of their OSes, or how to retrieve data from their hard drives. Because they don’t want the bad guys hacking into their hard drives to retrieve data. But you can spend $1,000s of dollars retrieving info off of a hard drive. Will it tell you who printed it and when? Maybe, maybe not.

Of course when we pull the hard drive, and hand it back to you, You will need to sign for it to maintain the care, custody, and control of said hard drive. We also recommend that you have whoever you hand it off to sign for it so you can prove the care, custody, and control of the hard drive when you show up in court.

But what about going forward? Let us put a security solution in place that can be used to immediately identify who printed what when & where. IF I set up UniFLOW software on your Print Server(s)  where your MFDs and Printers are currently set up, THEN when someone prints out something that they shouldn’t we can run a report that will show you who printed what (Job Name) to what printer on any date & time frame that you designate. Did you notice the IF \ THEN statement above? IF you put this solution in place THEN you will have the pieces in place to deter or recover stolen data. One way you could deter employees from printing unauthorized data is to make it known that this system is in place. But I think it’s best if they don’t know you are saving all of this printing data to a SQL database, to be used when needed.

Maybe you are saying “We disable a users AD account the night before we terminate them, so they can’t do this”. That’s good when you choose to terminate them, but it doesn’t help at all when they give you their surprise two week notice. If they are planning to steal your data they will likely have already done it BEFORE you know they are leaving. In this scenario you run a report for the last month for just this one employee and see what they have printed for the last month. If you find sensitive data has been printed you have the proof to confront the departing employee with legal consequences.

Here is how I would handle the exit interview for Joe Smith who was my star Sales Manager and he is leaving my company for “personal reasons” or “to spend more time with his family” or “Is not sure where he is going” all which translate to he has accepted a position with your chief competition.  I would start out pleasantly, even though I know Joe has printed out a customer list. Joe we are sorry to see you go. You have been a valuable employee, but I can see that this is something you really feel you need to do. Joe, I need to go over the non-compete agreement that you signed. (You do have a non-compete, correct?) As long as you stay out of our accounts, or the specific territory you worked in, or whatever the agreement stipulates we won’t have a problem. This should be a non issue since you (Joe) are leaving to “spend more time with your family”. Then I would produce the UniFLOW report on Joe’s printing history for the last month and put it on the table with specific print jobs highlighted and say Joe, we see that you printed out a dozen different customer lists in the last week to the MFD in the warehouse. It’s odd that these were all printed after hours. Hum? Anyway We need to secure these printed lists. Where are they? If they are not in the office, then his intention to steal them is clear because he is prepared to be walked out the door when he gave his notice.

You should have your legal council and HR manager present. Because the gloves just came off. If Joe says he has them at home, you can offer to follow him to his house where he can hand them to you. Do NOT let him go and come back or he will stop at Kinko’s to make copies and you are no better off. Your legal counsel should be prepared to tell “Joe Smith” the legal consequences and remedies that your company is prepared to pursue if “Joe” doesn’t immediately returned all of the confidential information that he printed out illegally.

Your lawyer should be knowledgeable of the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act). BUT, avoid threatening Joe until you have secured the stolen data. Once you have secured the data, Joe has lost his leverage. Joe has still broken the law and can still be prosecuted, so you can now pressure him to reveal where he is going to be working. If he refuses you can threaten to press charges. If he tells you you can have your lawyers send Joe’s new company a letter informing them of Joe’s non compete agreement. You should ask your legal counsel whether or not to include the information of Joe’s theft of data. Regardless, Joe now knows that if he or any other sales person from his new company shows up in one of your accounts that you will pursue him to the fullest extent of the law.

You are now in the drivers seat. because you didn’t wait to implement a security solution after your data was breached, your company installed UniFLOW reporting before you needed it. You actually closed the barn doors before the horses got out. And you know what they say an once of prevention is worth…., right?

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


Good Bye 2013, Hello 2014!

January 1, 2014

I don’t know why it is so hard for me to say that “2013 was a good year”. But the words refuse to roll off my tongue. Yet by so many metrics it has been a good year. Maybe I am a little jaded, or at least a little guarded about being too optimistic having gone through a series of pretty tough years. Maybe I just need 2014 to also be a good year, which I think it will be, before I can really embrace how good 2013 was. They say hind sight is 20:20.

But I think I am going to go out on a limb and say 2013 was a good year. When I look at our Sales, we made our numbers more often than we missed them by a ratio of 3 to 1 (9 months out of 12). It has been a long time since I could say that. I am not sure if this is true just of NECS, or the Independent Dealers, or if the “Copier” Industry as a whole had a good year. I would love your comments to hear from a cross section of our industry (Large Regional Independents, Direct Sales Branches, Smaller Independents, and OEMs). How did 2013 treat you?

I am also seeing a number of leading indicators that tell me the economy in general is getting better. I know a number of people in the construction industry that are busy. When businesses begin to build new buildings & homes that is a sign that they have a positive outlook on the future! I believe that we are well into a recovery that will continue through 2014, as long as the Government doesn’t do anything stupid to “fix it”. Because some of the scariest words ever spoken are “I’m from the government, and I am here to help.” Lord save us from our helpful government. LOL.

How was your 2013 personally? How did your company do? And what are your predictions for 2014? Will it be better, worse, or about the same as 2013? I believe that 2014 will be even better than 2013, and last year was a good year, so that is saying something!

Have a Happy & Prosperous New Year,

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Nuance Stock drops to a 52 week low

January 1, 2014

What’s more interesting is a number of Nuance executives have sold off large amounts of Nuance stock. Read more @ The Copier Network:


Happy New Year,

Vince McHugh



July 25, 2013

The Oxford Dictionary defines “Retread” as:

  • a tire that has been given a new tread.
  • informal a person retrained for new work or recalled for service.

I have had the good fortune to to work with a seasoned salesman who use to work for my competition. He moved to Florida but didn’t like living there, so he returned to New England a few years later and reapplied for a job at his old company. It was a Xerox \ Global Imaging Dealer that has absorbed two local dealerships.  The Global Dealer interviewed him for a sales position, but one of the top Sales Managers said to him “we don’t need any retreads”! In New England we call that “Bulletin Board Material”!

That same salesman came to work for NECS, and he came motivated, and committed to CRUSH the dealership that called him a “retread”! He has been pretty damn successful. He has gone after a vertical market that they had dominated and that we had all but ignored and has beaten his old com padres in deal after deal. Initially they were pleasant, even friendly towards him. But the more successful he became the colder his reception at his old company became. That’s OK, they have no one to blame but themselves. It’s gotten so bad that even people that I consider friends at that dealership don’t call any more. I blame my retread 🙂

I have often said that the primary job of management is to get and keep good people!!!! I truly believe this!

The Xerox \ Global Dealer’s Sales Manager had an opportunity to rehire this very talented salesman with a great work ethic. Did I mention he has a great work ethic? But pride or stupidity took over and he not only didn’t hire him, but totally motivated him to work extra hard to beat his old Xerox \ Global Dealership every chance he gets. He has been so successful doing just that, that I told him he should start watching his back. Because pretty soon they are going to take out a contract on him. LOL!!!

I am a “Retread”! I have worked for my current dealership for 16 years, left for two years, and came back to my current position. So I have a soft spot in my heart for retreads. One of the great things that “Retreads” have is Perspective! Have you ever heard the phrase “How can I miss you if you don’t go away”? Very often when you leave an organization for greener pastures you realize that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side, especially when YOU have to mow it. Some sales people who have never worked anywhere else except their current dealership have nothing to compare it to.. While their loyalty is to be commended, it limits their perspective.

When you work at more than one sales organization you get to see what is great, or good, and what is bad, or terrible. I have had the privilege to work at two major corporations (3M & Ricoh) and one large Regional Dealership; NECS (twice). The sales person who works at a great Dealership thinks that ALL DEALERSHIPS are the same. S/He would be WRONG!

Enter the retread! Bringing back or bringing in someone who has worked for another Dealership and REALLY appreciates what your dealership does well helps the rest of the Sales people who have not worked elsewhere appreciate what’s great about your dealership!

Now the retread has to be someone who has been successful selling for your organization in the past. If they have not been successful selling in the past there is no reason to believe that they will be as a retread. This particular retread that I am writing about (You know who you are) has been so successful that maybe I need to look for a few more retreads! It takes one to know one!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Samsung: 5 in 3, and 3 in 5

June 20, 2013

Samsung Rearview Mirror

I just returned from Chicago where I attended the Samsung National Dealer meeting. At the close of the meeting Samsung told us that their goal is to be one of the top 5 copier manufacturers in 3 years and one of the top 3 in 5 years. Are you laughing? Better look in your rear view mirror because objects in your mirror are closer than they appear.

‘Nuf said for now! I will blog more about the meeting soon.

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


New England’s New Samsung Dealer

June 15, 2013

Yesterday my company, NECS became the new Samsung Dealer in New England. It’s no secret that since Todd Pike and a number of Canon expatriates went to work for Samsung they have been pursuing Canon Dealers. Let me say up front that we love having and selling the Canon line, and we have been very successful doing so. Samsung does not (yet) have a full line of MFDs. So they have focused on their sweet spot of 20 – 50 ppm.

If you sell Canon, you know that they tend to be more expensive than some of the other MFD lines. But Canon has clearly established a great position in the market place (Just like Mercedes Benz, Lexus, or Cadillac has in the Automobile market). But not everyone buys  these high end type of cars. Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai have also carved out solid markets for themselves in the US marketplace. You may have noticed that many named Car Dealers carry multiple lines of cars. Because there is no one car that meets the needs of all car buyers. And a Mercedes Benz buyer doesn’t also shop at the Ford or Hyundai dealerships to get a competitive price so s/he can negotiate with the Benz salesperson. Does that mean that we should all only sell Mercedes? or only sell Fords? No, not if you want to broaden your buying base.

Samsung can have a great symbiotic relationship with Canon at the Dealer level. I have spoken to many sales people that have either lost a deal to a less expensive alternative or had to sell the Canon product for little to no profit. But they felt forced to “take the deal” because they have made a commitment to their Dealership to meet a specific monthly quota. But they didn’t become a sales person to starve. In an honest business transaction they should be able to make a reasonable profit. Unless you work for a non profit organization there is nothing wrong or evil about making a reasonable profit on what you sell. Now, with Samsung, our sales person has a great alternative for those customers who are extremely price sensitive. So instead of walking away from the deal or giving away the deal an Independent dealer has a third choice, Samsung!

Samsung seems to understand this relationship, they are not asking us to sell Samsung instead of Canon or Konica Minolta. They are looking to help us as an independent dealer expand our business by helping us win profitable business that we couldn’t with our Canon or Konica Minolta lines. There is one thing that Samsung doesn’t have that Independent dealers care deeply about, they DON’T have a Sumsung Business Solutions, or Systems, or a Samsung Solutions America. In other words Samsung has no direct sales organization. Samsung has committed to work exclusively with top independent dealers. WOW! What’s old is new again. This is the way all manufacturers use to do it before the days when Ikon, Danka, and Global got bought by Ricoh, Konica Minolta, and Xerox respectively. I do sympathize with the manufacturers dilemma. They need to secure their distribution channels. Business hates uncertainty!!! But the manufacturers have struggled to make their direct sales branches profitable. And the Independent Dealers certainly are not feeling the love from their Manufacturers.

The large Regional Independent dealers have and continue to flourish! Because we offer our customers choices, considering what’s best for them. We don’t have to try and force a square peg into a round hole because that’s all we have to sell (one product line), any more than a Cadillac Dealer tries to convince a Hyundai buyer to buy his product. The Independent Dealer offers choices of products, paired with great service & support for the life of the lease. Now that NECS has added Samsung to our Canon & Konica Minolta offerings we will be competing for that business that has traditional gone to the second tier products. You know who you are, and you have been put on notice that you will be seeing us in more of your deals, because Samsung has arrived in New England!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


UniFLOW 5.2: Google Cloud Print enabled & AD Authenticated Airprint

May 28, 2013

I spent last Thursday & Friday at the Bellagio in Las Vegas attending the NTware Forum. NTware just released UniFLOW version 5.2 and this was our chance as Canon Dealers to get to know what was new and cool about it.

I don’t think it is a secret that I am a fan of UniFLOW. What I like so much about UniFLOW and more specifically NTware is every time it seems like their competition starts to close the gap they take another giant leap forward. Leaving the competition scratching their heads. They’ve done it again with version 5.2

Three new cool additions to UniFLOW that I want to mention here are:

UniFLOW is Google Cloud Print enabled.

UniFLOW has AD Authentication for IOS Airprint.

UniFLOW has reintroduced Print Room Management (Formerly called Helix).

To get the “skinny” on UniFLOW enabled Google Cloud Print (GCP) I will redirect you to my recent post on The Copier Network. Go read it and then come back…. I’ll wait….. Pretty cool, Huh?

Like GCP, Airprint is a technology that is predominately aimed at the consumer market place, But just as UniFLOW \ GCP integration has added the missing pieces that bring GCP into the Enterprise it does the same for Airprint. How does UniFLOW’s bring Aiprint protocol into the Enterprise, by adding Active Directory Authentication to the Airprint protocol. No serious network allows access to it’s resources without authenticating the user who wants access. LDAP is the defacto standard, with AD being Microsoft’s LDAP offering. UniFLOW doesn’t invent Airprint or LDAP, it just marries them together making them better and more functional. GCP & Airprint may not be a perfect fit for your environment. UniFLOW offers device agnostic email printing workflows that works well in even the largest enterprise.

Finally, NTware reintroduced Print Room Management into UniFLOW. It had this as an option in earlier versions, but it was pulled out and offered as a separate product called Helix. Now it’s back, as a part of the UniFLOW Platform and as such it leverages all that UniFLOW is and does but brings it into the CRD (Central Reproduction Department) or Print Center. By making it an optional UniFLOW module it is very cost effective, especially when you compare it to other offerings in a similar space (like EFI’s Digital Store Front).

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Toshiba & Samsung show interest in Sharp

April 18, 2013

Last week I heard a rumor from a source at Toshiba that Toshiba has shown an interest in buying Sharps copier division. From all that I read Sharp has major debt that is coming due soon.

I caught a lot of grief for saying that I believe that Sharp WILL SELL IT’S COPIER DIVISION. But that’s my not so humble opinion. I can’t see how else the math will work for Sharp. Sharp’s debt, in the very near future, will force their hand.

But WHO Sharp chooses to dance with is still undecided. Both Samsung & Toshiba have shown interest in Sharps copier division, Both court Sharp, but both are not welcome suitors. You are probably aware that there is no love lost between Korea and Japan. That being said one suitor is more welcome than the other. But Samsung has deep pockets, and is highly motivated to become a major player in our industry.

I mentioned to someone I know at Samsung, that Toshiba is looking to buy Sharp. He smiled quietly and said “We’ll just buy Toshiba”. He further stated that “when Samsung puts their mind to do something, they do it”, I have to admit. that I admire that quiet confidence, that dances right up to the edge of hubris.

So we’ll see who buys Sharp’s copier division. But someone WILL BUY IT soon! And yes that is MNSHO!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


cooking up your solution

March 19, 2013

I have often said that a great “solution” is a combination of hardware, software, and know how that solves my customer’s business problem. In the copier industry hardware has pretty much become a commodity. Software can still be a differentiator.

It’s great when a vendor has an exclusive on a particular software (like Canon did with eCopy originally, or now has with UniFLOW). But more often the software vendor writes their software for as many MFD platforms as s/he is allowed to put it on. Which means that it is possible to have two different companies offering the exact same hardware \ software combination for their solution to a particular customers problem (a purchasing agents dream). So what would separate one “solutions provider” from the other……..?

No! not price! Why does your mind always go there? And don’t tell me that wasn’t your first thought. But it’s NOT my first thought. Please go back to the beginning of this post and re read the definition that I gave for a great solution and tell me what part of a great solution have we not yet discussed? (I’ll wait).

Yes! Know How! It is not enough to have great hardware, working with great software if you don’t have the know how to put them together to create a real world, practical, workable solution, that end users will love to solve their business problem.

When eCopy originally opened up it’s product line to all the non-Canon dealers a lot of people panicked. eCopy ShareScan was a GREAT separator for Canon, for a real long time. It was the only solution that (at that time) had AD integration, and it could place an email that you sent from eCopy at the copier in the sent folder of your Outlook client back at your PC. That was a huge deal back then, and we beat that feature like a drum! But then everyone (except Xerox, they took a long time to get on board with eCopy) picked up the product. So what did we have to differenciate ourselves then? Know How!!! We had been working with eCopy for over a decade by that time. Our competitors were saying me too, me too, we can do that too!!!! We were saying we already done it, hundreds of times. And well done is better than well said!

It’s not just with eCopy, the software & the hardware and like the raw ingredients to make a meal (the solution). I could provide the same raw ingredients to two people to make “Beef Wellington” me and Chef Ramsey. We both have the same ingredients (Hardware & Software). I bet he’d even be a sport and let me have a recipe to follow. Who do you think would provide a better meal (solution) from the same set of ingredients (Hardware & Software). No doubt, the person who has done it a thousand times. The same is true for our industry, the hardware may be a commodity (I personally do believe some manufacturers make significantly better hardware than others), but at least the functions of the basic MFDs are all the same (Copy, Print, Scan, & Fax). So you could say that at least the basic functions are a commodity.

But when you add software to the MFD that extends and enhances the capabilities of the basic MFD, you turn it into a smart MFD. While the copier industry may not yet have the equivalent of the Apple App Store, there are a lot of companies writing software that runs in the MFD. Some of these run completely within the MFD, while others tie into a middleware server that runs on a windows server or PC somewhere on the customer’s network. These are the raw ingredients that we have to solve our customer’s business problem. But it is how you put them together, and how you configure them (your cooking technique, if you will) that will determine if you are starring on “Master Chef” or “America’s Worst Cooks”. It is know how, how to use the raw ingredients, that will make or break the end result, regardless of whether that is a perfect Beef Wellington, or a perfect solution f0r your customer.

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


3 Days !!!! You call that Service? Really?

February 14, 2013

Last week my company installed a new Canon Color ImageRUNNER-Advance into a relatively small transportation office (2 floors). We were swamped with two SEs out, one at UniFLOW school and another on vacation. So I dd the install. It was pretty straight forward. The only issue is when I initially brought the Canon online I choose DHCP, and it self configured it’s IP info. I then proceeded to “ping” the ip address that the customer had gave our sales person to be assigned to their new Canon. Unfortunately when I pinged that address IT RESPONDED! If that doesn’t mean anything to you, then you shouldn’t be setting up MFDs on customer’s networks. So I pinged an ip address that  believed would be outside of the DHCP scope that did NOT respond, and I manually assigned it to the new Canon.

I set up the Canon on the network, got all the PCs printing and then the Office manager asked me to set up the Scan (Send) function.  I pressed the Send Button and the touch screen said “This function requires optional equipment”, UGH, The sales person thought this model had Universal Send as a standard feature, It didn’t. Not that big a deal, now a days if you want to add a function to a Canon ImageRUNNER-Advance MFD all’s it takes is a license code! Which IMHO is the way it SHOULD be. Manufacturer your MFDs with all the functionality that they could need and then release the optional functions with license codes.

So I told the office Manager that our sales guy would order the license for Usend (Scanning). She was NOT happy and said that this must be setup before the end of the week, then said, NO, by Thursday, because I am off this Friday and She wanted this completed before she went on vacation. We rose to the occasion. I called my sales guy and and he got the licensed code ordered, Our operations manager pulled them from our inventory (Yes, we actually do stock inventory) and he scanned them to my email address. I received them on my company iPhone. I know, how pretentious, but how FUNCTIONAL!!!!

The next day (Wednesday) I was back onsite, and  installed the Usend \ Scanning license code, and rebooted the Canon MFD. It came up with the scanning functionality that the customer requested. Before I left on the first day, I looked at the old Lanier MFD on the second floor, and made note of the smtp (email) settings. Since I had worked for “Ricoh Business Systems” for two plus years I knew how to get this info. A Lanier is just a relabeled Ricoh. I was able to get all the info I needed to set up the Scan to Email EXCEPT the password for the User account used for SMTP Authentication. But, I had spoken to the IT support, by phone. Remote IT Support is more and more common today. But when I spoke to him I told him that I would need the password for the Account that was being used for the SMTP Authenticationon the upstairs “Lanier”. He assured me he would get it for me before i returned.

So, I show up on Wednesday, pull up the email from my Ops manager and keyed in the license code for Usend, reboot and I have a scanning MFD. I configure all the settings except the password for the SMTP authentication account. The office manager called their remote IT Support and he gave me the password for the SMTP Authentication account. I entered it and the Canon was Scanning to email. Cool! All was working as advertised!

But I got a call from the Office Manager and she was in a bit of a panic because NOW her Lanier on the 2nd floor Scan to email stopped working  (She said)  when we set up the Canon. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Do you know what happened? Yep! The “remote” Network support person didn’t know the password to the account that they were using for SMTP authentication. So he just changed it. That’s OK for me and my new Canon MFD, but not so good for the old Lanier upstairs. When I spoke to the office manager she was in a bit of a panic because of who sits upstairs (The principals of the company). And now they couldn’t scan to email (unless they went downstairs to the Canon). Now I could have said that this was NOT MY PROBLEM, because it wasn’t my MFD that could not scan to email. But that is not how NECS does business. So when the office manager called me in a panic, and said that she HAD called Ricoh and they told her that their SE would NOT be there for 3 Days, REALLY 3 Fricken’ Days!!! I decided I would work with her, over the phone to try to walk her through how to fix her Lanier MFD that would no longer scan.

Since the Canon can now scan and the Lanier use to be able to scan, there was no doubt in my mind that the remote IT support person had simply changed the password to the account they used for smtp authentication. So I leveraged my time at Ricoh to walk this nice woman through the process of how to change the password of the smtp account. And she tested it and the Lanier now could scan to email again. Yet Ricoh said that she wouldn’t see an SE for 3 DAYS!!! If you ask me THAT IS WHAT SERVICE IS ALL ABOUT! Service is a promise! It says “We will be there when you need us”! In my opinion Ricoh didn’t uphold this promise, and NECS did, even when it wasn’t our equipment. Why? Because we hope this will matter to the Office manager the next time they order equipment, like when they need to replace the Lanier MFD on the 2nd floor. I hope they remember the difference in support when the time comes. Because I am sick of having to compete with the Bottom feeders who are always cheaper than I am, but who make the customer wait 3 days, yes, 3 FRICKIN DAYS!!!!!! to fix something that I can fix over the phone. The question I have for you, is put yourself in the shoes of that Office Manager, with YOUR Principals pissed off at YOU because their old MFD can no longer scan to email. If you were that office manager would you want:

A. a Service organization that tells you they will be there in 3 Days, or

B. a Service organization that calls you back, and walks you through the process over the phone of how to fix the COMPETITORS MFD!!!!!!!!!!

Of course you want “B”, but the question is, will you pay a little more for it? Because we will NOT BE THE CHEAPEST! But WE WILL BE THE BEST VALUE!

The above incident illustrated How!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHughVince.Mchugh@NECS.BZ


Xerox equipment sales drop, as Korea comes on the scene

January 30, 2013

Xerox equipment sales drop, as Korea comes on the scene


Vince McHugh



The Changing Internet

December 28, 2012


I wrote this post for The Copier Network, but I am posting the link here for those who may wish to read it.

Vince McHugh




Ricoh announces that it will not renew Service Agreements on it’s customer’s Canon Equipment

December 27, 2012

Ricoh announced in a letter to their customers that they will no longer renew service contracts on Canon equipment.

Ricoh (Ikon) will no longer renew service contracts on Canon equipment.


Dear Valued Customer:


As you know, as of April 2012, the Ricoh and IKON brands aligned as one brand — Ricoh — the culmination of a careful, steady progression since Ricoh’s acquisition of IKON in 2008. Now, as a unified organization, we are in a better position than ever to provide you with a broad portfolio of technology and services to meet your document and information management needs with a high level of service and support. We appreciate the trust that you have placed in Ricoh as your service provider, and I want to thank you for the business relationship we have built over the years.

Ricoh takes pride in providing its customers with top quality service and quick response times when servicing your equipment. However, Ricoh’s ability to continue servicing your Canon-brand equipment is fast approaching an end, as Ricoh may be unable to secure parts and supplies for maintenance of Canon equipment in the near future. As previously communicated, under the terms of our agreement with Canon USA, Inc., Canon is only obligated to provide Ricoh with parts and supplies for Canon-brand business equipment through April 30, 2013. After April 30, 2013, Ricoh may experience delays or be unable to secure the parts and supplies needed to maintain Canon-brand equipment.

As a result, Ricoh is not in a position to renew maintenance service on your Canon-brand equipment. Therefore, your maintenance agreement with Ricoh for the Canon-brand business equipment will terminate at the end of its current term and will not be renewed for an additional contract period.

In order to continue to provide you with the level of service you have come to expect from Ricoh, keep your costs down and maintain our relationship moving forward, we would like the opportunity to talk through the details of the service contract on your Canon-brand equipment, discuss your options, and find a solution that supports your needs.

We know that you have a choice when it comes to providers and we do not take that responsibility lightly. We are committed to providing quality service and support for your account, and look forward to continuing to provide you with a high level of service.

Please speak to your Ricoh representative today in order to learn more about your options for continued support of your document management needs. I want to thank you again for your continued commitment to Ricoh and I look forward to continue building on our relationship in the future.


Glen Mandernacht
Senior Vice President, Managed and Technology Services
70 Valley Stream Parkway Malvern, PA 19355 http://www.ricoh-usa.com—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Many of these customers have had a chance to take a good look at the Ricoh equipment, and if they have not switched by now there must be some reason. So we will see if these long time Canon customers, who were happy to still have Ikon or Ricoh service their Canon equipment will switch to Ricoh MFDs or look for a new Authorized Canon Dealer to service their current Canon equipment or even upgrade to the latest and greatest Canon ImageRUNNER-Advance MFDs.
That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh

A Christmas Message

December 24, 2012

Luke 2

King James Version (KJV)

2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


Canon releases their Mobile Printing App for IOS

December 1, 2012

Canon Inc recently released their Mobile Printing App for IOS (iPhone \ iPAD). This is not to be confused with the Canon USA MEAP app called Canon Direct Print and Scan (CDPS) app which was released a few months ago.

You may have noticed that there is a plethora of Mobile printing apps being released by MFD manufactures, as they all scramble to meet the needs of a more mobile work force. The previous Canon (CDPS) App cost around $100 and you needed to load a MEAP (java) App on the Canon IR-Advanced MFD that you wanted to print to from your Apple or Blackberry device. You also needed to download the matching app from the Apple App Store. The cool thing about this app was you could set up the printer on your IOS or Blackberry device by simply scanning a QR code that the MEAP app would display. But it was a little clunky, and there were limited printing options, and no web browser built in to the app.

The new Canon Inc app – Canon Mobile Printing App for IOS is available as a free download from the Apple App Store. No MEAP app is required, in fact you don’t have to do anything to the Canon MFD for this app to work. There are a number of Printing options (such as paper size, and staple, duplex, color or B&W, and even the ability to print to a Mailbox on the Canon). A customer of mine who purchased the original CDPS MEAP app really seemed to like these features. The other thing that I like about the new Canon Mobile Printing App is it uses good old port 515, LPR Printing for an IOS Device. This in my opinion was a great move. In fact I think that Apple really missed the boat by trying to force users to use Airprint rather than including LPR or IP Printing on their IOS devices. But the market seems to be responding and providing the choices that people really want. The current limitation, is it is ONLY and IOS App, no Android, or Blackberry…yet! But if the market provides the demand, as I am sure it will at least with Android, I believe you will see a similar app in the Android Marketplace.

The best thing about the Canon Mobile Printing App for IOS is that it will find, and allow you to print to almost any Canon MFD on your network.

The worst thing about the Canon Mobile Printing App for IOS is that it will find, and allow you to print to almost any Canon MFD on your network.

Yes, it is BOTH the best & the worst thing about the app. But I appreciate Canon putting it out there and allowing companies to decide which it is for them. What makes it the best is if you are on a reasonably open network, where you trust the people who you have given access to your wireless network then they can download the free app and start printing from their IOS (iPhone or iPAD) with little to no help from your IT Dept.

What makes it the worst is if you are on a secure network where your company has decided to limit or track who prints to what Canon Device, you now have a problem. BUT since you are reading this blog, hopefully before this becomes an issue for your company, you will know what options that you have to mitigate the potential problem.

Here are your options:

1. The first line of defense is securing or isolating your Wireless Network. Don’t allow people you don’t want to print on your wireless network, at least not the wireless network that allows access to your company LAN. You can, and many companies do, have a separate wireless network for Guests, that allow them internet access but not intranet access.

2. If the above option doesn’t help you because you need to limit or track your companies employees who have access to your companies wireless access you have a couple of options.

    A. You can set an IP or MAC filter on your Canon Devices and limit who the Canon MFD will talk to. You can have it ONLY communicate with your print server,  and your CEOs iPad (It’s good to be the King!).

    B. If you are OK with your print documents passing through a secure cloud based app, then the EFI PrintMe Mobile (MEAP) app may be a good solution for you. It is email based so any smart device that can email can print. becuase you can send a print job to print@printme.com and then go to ANY Canon device that has the EFI Printme Mobile app loaded, so you get follow me type of printing too. Since this is a cloud based app, there is no server needed on your LAN. And if you load the App on Canon MFDs at multiple offices you get follow me type printing with offices that may not even be connected by WAN links, as long as each office has internet access. That could be a huge benefit for some companies.

It is also possible to lock down the Canon MFD using the new ULM (Universal Login Manager) so an end user, or even a guest user could not get to the EFI Printme Mobile app unless they could unlock the Canon Device. By configuring these two different apps on a single Canon device you can have both mobile access and security.

      C. If you want an all in one solution that will give you both security and convenience, and you don’t want your print documents sent to a cloud app (this is very important to some companies) than your best option is the Canon UniFLOW solution. UniFLOW doesn’t just give you Mobile Printing, but Secure Mobile Printing. So, if UniFLOW is the best solution why not just offer UniFLOW? Because it is NOT a one size fits all! While I believe that UniFLOW is the best Solution it may not be the best for you, or your company. I like choices, and Canon has given us a great deal of choice on how to allow, or deny, or limit who gets to print to our Canon Devices, and choices are a good thing! If this seems at all confusing to you call your Authorized Canon Dealer and ask to speak to their Pre Sales Systems Engineer. S/He will be able to talk with you and your IT people to help figure out which, if any, of these solutions are right for your company.

A final thought on Airprint printing. Airprint similar to the Canon Mobile Printing App allows users to print to anything that they can see. However Airprint is further limited in that the Printing device must support the Airprint protocol for it to show up on your IOS device. There are an exponentially larger number of printers that support LPR \ LPD than those that support Airprint. Of course the Canon Mobile Printing App for IOS only support Canon Devices (What did you expect…LOL). But if you have almost any Canon MFD,  you can print to them via the new Canon Mobile Printing App for IOS with very little effort on your part. That makes this new app pretty cool!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


A picture is worth a thousand words, two pictures….priceless!

November 20, 2012

last Friday


It took them long enough to scrape the old name off the building ( 1 Federal St Boston, Ma).


Nuf Said.
Vince McHugh



Why would a cash strapped Sharp cut off Global?

October 27, 2012

I read the What’s Happening Report from From Industry Analysts, Inc. that stated Sharp has cut off Global Imaging (GIS). Sharp will no longer sell Global Imaging (a Xerox Company) hardware or accessories after November 26th 2012. Global will still be able to buy parts but at a higher price.

I asked myself why would a cash strapped company like Sharp cut off a revenue stream, any revenue stream? If you want your copier division to survive and prosper during the turmoil that that they are experiencing you would not arbitrarily cut off one of your distribution channels. During good economic times there are a number of reasons why Sharp would not want Xerox selling their products. Let’s face it Sharp doesn’t want to help Xerox (Global) anymore than Macy’s wanted to help Gimbals.

So why do it? Even a better question, why do it now? The most obvious answer to me is that they are preparing to sell the copier division to a buyer that doesn’t have or want to have a relationship with Xerox \ Global. It a lot like when someone is selling a building, and the buyer makes the seller clear out all the undesirable tenants as conditions of the sale. If anyone else has a more plausible explanation I am all ears.

I know that Sharp USA is working their A__ off signing up dealers and putting out press releases. I believe that there are a lot of good industry professionals who work at Sharp USA. But Sharp Inc owns Sharp USA, and they are not likely asking Sharp USA for permission or advice. It’s not even likely that the leadership of Sharp USA is fully informed about whether or not they are being sold. Sharp Inc wants to keep the worker bees at Sharp USA making (m)Honey.

I am sure that this is very stressful to the folks at Sharp USA. Having lived through the Ricoh \ Lanier merger myself I understand, and even sympathize. But it looks like the hand writing is on the wall for Sharp USA. Since the copier industry is going through a significant contraction this will be a particularly difficult time to go through a merger, or even worse a takeover. If you currently work for Sharp USA this would be a good time to get your resume updated, and start to network with other professionals. The good news is good people will always find work. the bad news is that with all of the consolidation there are a lot of good people looking for jobs in this industry. Some of the folks at Sharp USA will make the transition to who ever buys them, some will not. Take your future in your own hands, start looking around for other opportunities so at least you will have options. Options are a good thing!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


Sharp denies rumours that they are selling their copier division

October 23, 2012

Sharp contacted my company through the CDA to complain about the recent blog article that they I posted stating that the buzz at the CDA meeting is that they are selling their copier division. Even though this is a personal blog based on my opinion and the opinions of those posting, I was asked to pull the article. I am being told second hand that Sharp is denying the persistent rumors. No one from Sharp has spoken to me officially, or directly.

So, In fairness to Sharp I am pulling that article, and posting this retraction.  Sharp is a publicly held company and can not knowingly mislead their stock holders. If it will help settle the matter I will go one step further and offer Sharp a featured spot on this blog to directly state that there are no plans to sell the copier division. So we can put the rumors to bed once and for all.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Managing Depart IDs (Pin Codes) on a fleet of MFDs \ Copiers

October 6, 2012

Canon calls them Department IDs, you may hear them called Pin Codes. But a rose by any other name…

Depart IDs have been used to control and track copy usage long before the copier became the MFD, when we connected them to the network. They were the most basic way to track what users copied. Department IDs also evolved so you could also use them to track printing as well. When Color MFDs came into the Office the biggest concern customers had who were switching from B&W to a Color MFD was “How do I control color cost”? Pin codes were the answer, they could be used to lock down JUST COLOR COPIES & PRINTS. Where you could copy or print in B&W without entering a code, but if you tried to copy or print in color it would give you a pop up and you had to enter a valid pin code that was set up on the copier or it would deny your job. The fact that users knew that they were being tracked REALLY helped control color usage & cost. Because they knew if the monthly report showed that they had done 5,000 color copies \ prints that the would have to defend that number to their boss.

Dept. IDs could also be set up to only lock down certain functions. If you wanted to track ALL copies & prints, but wanted to leave Fax & Scanning open you could set your Dept IDs to lock down just copy & print, but fax & scan could be used without entering a pin code.

The best thing about Department IDs is that they are a standard feature on the Canons, and most MFDs have something similar. They are turned off by default but can be easily turned on and set up by your technician or even your sales person. They work great on a single device but they have their limitations. The first being that they are copier centric which is fine when you have one MFD, and OK when you have two, and maybe three MFDs,  but they do not scale well. Since they have not been designed to be centrally managed, managing & tracking a number of MFDs that have Dept IDs has proven to be labor intensive. As the number of MFDs scales up the labor required to manage their Dept. IDs increases exponentially! But like a lobster in a pot, if the heat gets turned up slowly over time, the customer may not notice until they are boiling, and then they are so married to the system changing it to a centrally managed system is hard to justify the ROI, because the Dept. IDs kinda work, if you do a lot of work.

There has never been an easy way to manage Pin codes across multiple machines. They have also traditionally had very limited reporting. But that was done on purpose (IMHO), they call it “a Marketing decision”. The manufacturers wanted to sell you something that was NOT a standard feature (like eQuitrac for example). The problem with eQuitrac or similar optional equipment has been the cost, and often they would require hardware terminals (affectionately know as the brick). I will say that Equitrac and others have written embedded software that runs within the copier and is accessed through the copier’s touch screen. This embedded software is cheaper then the hardware terminal but there is still a licensing fee, that on a fleet of MFDs drives up the price of the solution. Customers were often left with the choice of the cheaper less functional solution (Pin Codes) or the much more expensive eQuitrac type solution. .

But I may have found the middle ground. I recently used Canon UniFLOW solution to push out a standard list of Department IDs to 165 Canons. and automate the monthly allocation report by having the previous months totals emailed to the finance department on the first day of each month. Not only will the UniFLOW report give a break down of copies, prints, color, B&W, Faxes, and even scans, but it will calculate the cost for each Dept ID so that all the Finance department needs to do is bill it.

You may say that sounds a lot like an eQuitrac style solution, but the difference is I didn’t need to touch any of the 165 Canon MFDs. I was able to import an Excel spread sheet of standard (numeric) cost centers with Alphanumeric Descriptions into UniFLOW as Cost Centers. Then we pushed out these cost centers as department IDs. This all happened without the end users even being aware it was being done. No client needed to be loaded on the copier, no hardware had to be attached, we didn’t even need to reboot the copier. Now, only 165 out of 300 Canons at this account uses Dept IDs (Pin Codes) to track the MFD usage. the other 135 are wide open with no Dept IDs to use the Canon. For these Canons we simply assign a default cost center in UniFLOW and then set up the report that will track the copy & print activity by cost center for all 300 Canon MFDs and we never touched a single Canon!

DEPT IDs are a simple yet elegant solution. I come not to bury Dept IDs but to praise them (my apologies to Shakespeare) . Using UniFLOW to centrally manage and track Dept IDs overcomes their greatest weakness. But you may say UniFLOW supports Pin Codes on their embedded MEAP app, why not just use the UniFLOW MEAP App. The simple answer is costs. Just like the embedded Equitrac software there is a licensing cost per MFD. That doesn’t mean the customer may not eventually migrate to the embedded UniFLOW software, but it doesn’t have to be an ALL OR NOTHING proposition. This can be an evolution rather than a revolution. The upgrade path can happen over the period of the lease or the next level of functionality can be added with the next lease.

The reason that this customer decided to add UniFLOW was a clear ROI. It use to take them 3 months to gather and allocate the cost of their copiers so they could charge back the respective departments. And to be honest they knew that they were not accurately tracking all the usage. Now with UniFLOW they get this process automated and an email shows up on the first day of every month with an Excel or PDF file attached. The lesser cost of UniFLOW using Dept IDs over a full fledge version of UniFLOW with MFD clients or Equitrac was an easy sell. There is also a clear upgrade path with features that the customer has already indicated that they want such as tracking ALL NETWORK PRINTING by adding UniFLOW RPS software to their 8 Print Servers, Secure Printing tied to their companies security access cards, which would also give them Secure Mobile Printing. On a side note they have already rolled out a small test group or 12 MFDs that are using the UniFLOW Advanced Scanning Module to scan into a back end system. UniFLOW is modular and scalable so we can install it to meet their current need and then leverage that investment to add additional functionality without having to re purchase the core server. UniFLOW helps me add value, and show an excellent ROI, without making my customers choose all or nothing.

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh


Achieving Non Repudiation (Undeniable Evidence) in your network security

July 6, 2020

The first step of security is identification. A breach is defined as an Unauthorized access to some asset. If you don’t know who they are how could you tell if they are Unauthorized? We have done a fairly good job using Active Directory (AD) or some other LDAP structure (JumpCloud, or Open Directory) to identify who logs into a PC, Mac, or Server. But what about Printers or MFDs (MultiFunctional Devices)? If a User is logged into AD that User’s ID will show up when they print. But what if a User is NOT logged into AD? Most Printers will not reject their print job, and will only record the local User name which can be anything, even as vague as Admin or User1 or system (Local to that host). What controls do you have in place to secure the printing assets of your company? In most cases the answer is none. When asked why? I can hear the frustration in the IT or Security professional’s voice when they say “we know that our printers need to be hardened but we have other priorities” (bigger fish to fry).

So what are your options?

1. You could ignore the printers and let them show up again as a vulnerability on the next security review.

2. Or you could leverage your Vendor(s) to help put in place “controls” that will both harden your printers and create an Audit trail that will provide Nonrepudiation.

Most Organizations don’t have a standard configuration never mind a security policy for their printers or MFDs. Hacking printers are NOT about the printers. It is about the Confidential Documents (Data) or it is about obtaining a “Pivot Point”, a compromised host behind your firewall whereby the hacker can call back to their Command and Control Host. Printers & MFDs are the low hanging fruit.

I bet many if not all of your printers or MFDs still have their factory Default Admin password. If you want to check it for yourself go to this Web Site http://open-sez.me/ look up your brand and see what the default Admin password is and try to login as Admin to your Printer’s Web Page with the default factory password.

While you are at it how old is your printer’s firmware? 2, 3, 5 generations back? How many security patches have been released that are not installed in your printer fleet?

So What’s a CISO to do?

1. Have your Printer Vendor install a software solution like Papercut or UniFLOW to track your Users, Groups, and Devices with more than 50 canned reports. These reports will track all your AD Users print jobs. There are some settings that you may have to make on your Printers and MFDs to make sure ALL Print jobs go though your Print Server. Both Papercut and UniFlow have ACLs you can set for your printers controlling who gets to print and who’s print jobs will be rejected.

2. Almost all printers can have their firmware automatically updated. Talk to your Printer Vendor, ask them to set up automatic firmware upgrades to your Printer’s Fleet. If you have older printers that can’t be set to auto update their firmware, this is a good reason to retire the old hardware and replace them with a modern printer that has better security.

It’s past time we treat printers as nodes on our network and as such include them in our security policy. While not ALL Printer \ Copier Vendors have the resources and savvy to help you with this, there are some that do. If yours can’t, shop around for one that can. Every decision we make about our network is a security decision, even printers & MFDs.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh


Ricoh’s firmware will block ALL FUNCTIONS if non-Ricoh toner is detected!!!

April 27, 2020

Ricoh’s firmware will block ALL FUNCTIONS if non-Ricoh toner is detected! And to make sure you get this Ham-Fisted Firmware it will automatically download and update WITHOUT YOUR AUTHORIZATION. Ricoh Issued this firmware update for Ricoh IM C series and some MP C series of color laser printer/MFPs.

Why would I buy this printer or MFD? A Printer / MFD that is programed to stop me from using any of it’s functions if I chose a lesser priced non-oem toner? I wouldn’t! I find that Customers want to be able to chose. They hate it when companies take their choices away.

It’s one thing if you buy a Printer or MFD that you know upfront it will ONLY run on OEM toner. But can you imagine, if you purchased a Ricoh MFP (Multi FUNCTIONAL Printer) and you were happily using non-oem toner all along, and it was working fine. Then without your consent or knowledge YOUR MFP downloads firmware that disables your MFD. Firmware that You didn’t authorize. This new firmware prevents all functions and turns YOUR functional MFP into a BRICK, a Paperweight. Because some corporate bureaucrat in Japan couldn’t figure out how to get you to use oem-toner. instead of working harder to make you want to use their oem-toner they decided to force you to use their toner or they will hold your MFD hostage until you do!

Many of us are stuck at at home due to the COVID-19 stay at home orders. What if you need to scan and RFP response to email. The Dead line is tomorrow. You have your finished RFP response and when you go to bed that night your Ricoh MFP is working fine with the non-oem toner (that you decided to use). That night your Ricoh MFP without your knowledge or consent downloads and installs this heavy handed firmware. You wake up in the morning planing to review your RFP response one more time and then Scan to Email from your Ricoh MFD (that was working fine yesterday). But when you look at the Operations Panel you see a message that YOUR RICOH is now disabled because this egregious firmware has shut down all functions, including Scan to email and Faxing which don’t even use the toner. Now you have to either violate the Stay at home order, or miss the RFP deadline and possibly loose a lucrative deal.

I may not have a crystal ball, but I predict this will be a disastrous move on Ricoh’s part. They will either reverse this decision or they will find themselves in Court getting sued.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh