Archive for the ‘The Connected “Copier”’ Category

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I wouldn’t buy a Fuji Xerox

July 2, 2018

FujiFilm is suing Xerox for a Billion dollars because Xerox backed out of the merger after one of the Xerox Board of Directors staged a rebellion. “Fujifilm (also)…threatened to compete against Xerox Corp …if it failed to renew its technology agreement in 2021.”

If you are unaware of the relationship between Fuji and Xerox, Fuji makes a large portion of Xerox’s line of Office equipment. Your Xerox Rep probably just calls them “Xerox” because he doesn’t want you concerned about Who makes your Xerox. But I would be concerned especially if I was about to buy a Fuji Xerox. In fact I wouldn’t buy a Fuji Xerox. I bet your Xerox sales guy says it’s not a problem. And it’s not a problem until it is a problem, but then IT’S YOUR PROBLEM! And then what? Xerox will blame Fuji, and Fuji will blame Xerox and you will be in the middle. That’s why I wouldn’t buy a Fuji Xerox, at least until this battle of the Titans has been resolved. There are plenty of good, stable MFD (digital copier) manufacturers out there that you can buy from. Don’t make Fuji & Xerox’s problem YOUR PROBLEM!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com
WWW.NECS.BIZ

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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 (http://127.0.0.1:631 ) 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@yahoo.com
http://www.necs.biz

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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
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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

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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

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

WWW.NECS.BIZ

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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

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

WWW.NECS.BIZ

 

 

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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

 

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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

VP \ NECS

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com