My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

Category: Information Only (page 1 of 47)

Trump and the media

There really are two kinds of media – print media (to include some websites) and "live" media.  I've never held live media (tv, radio) to a particularly high standard.  Live media has always been better at covering "live news" items – natural disasters and the OJ bronco chase for instance.  For politics and things that require some analysis or introspection, it's horrible.  Live media is that hot, immediate reaction while print has the advantage of measured response.  Live media is substantially personality-driven where print is not.  Does Hannity really support Trump?  Probably.  However, Hannity does know his bleating on about Trump draws viewers and that means money.  Same with AM Joy or any of the lefties on MSNBC.  Print media, with a few exceptions – and those exceptions are generally found on the opinion page – lacks that cult of personality: as it should.

Print media has normally been the "media of record".  That ability to wait 12 hours before the next paper was printed helped dull the edge and provide room for introspection.  Nowadays print media finds itself fighting for its life so it has naturally ventured onto the web – where publication schedules mean nothing.  Live media has their video up on the internet nearly as it happens and people like video.  Print media has to follow suit in some fashion.

And so it is that we've ended up with the traditional print media slugging it out with our President.  I like the writing in the Times but it does lean left and, I'll be honest: watching them print stories of late has been cringe-worthy.  They have been just as guilty as Trump of getting way out there.  Having the President of the United States blather on about "fake news" isn't useful but the Times and the WaPo have been conducting themselves like supermarket rags.  Wouldn't be surprised to see some Kardashian news on the front page.  

Now, the cult of personality in live media isn't going to change – that's how they sell ads.  You're going to see thin, attractive blonde women on Fox acting as foils to older guys blasting away at the "lamestream media" (of which Fox is a part) and you're going to see Smerconovich or some other lefty doing the same on MSNBC or CNN.  That part of the live media is almost entirely useless.  It's media but it ain't "News".

However, on the print media front I do see some signs of "reset" setting in.  It is tenuous but it's there.  The response from the big papers was relatively measured when Spicer didn't allow some of them admission to a press briefing.  The Times and the WaPo ran an article on their web pages but it was measured and not all that different from what the Journal provided.  Like I said, it's tenuous but present.  

At the end of the day, the news media are a crucial counterweight to any power center and they need to stick with the facts.  Yes, some editorial analysis  and maybe even outrage is important but that's confined to the editorial page.  Does Trump deserve some of the poor coverage?  Damn right.  The first month of his presidency has been a predictable, self-inflicted disaster.  He got some stuff done but it almost didn't matter.  Trump is his own worst enemy and the media were correct in pointing out all of the poor decisions and loose talk but then went too far.  It's a fine line but that's what experienced Editors are for.  The media should never relent – but nether should they go over the line.

I do believe the print media will come back to some sort of normalcy – not everyone will like that but don't confuse the job of the print media with that baloney you see on teeeveee.  I might be too optimistic but this could be the moment in which the print media rediscovers their dedication to this crucial concept: Hard-nosed reporting keeps our democracy working and it is their responsibility to make it happen.  Sensationalist headlines might sell papers – but only for awhile and only until those in power can paint them as simple "anti".  The papers need to report the Presidents actions and / or promises and then hold him accountable – regardless of his or her party affilliation.

My Daddy was never a billionaire hobnobbing with the rich and famous but the President would do well to remember the only piece of political advice he ever gave me: "never pick a political fight with someone who has nothing but time."  Trump needs to use the institutions to affect his reforms because if they aren't engaged, they have nothing but time.  Trump has the opportunity to be a transformational president but he needs to get about it and forget about someone calling him a bad name.  Fighting with media of whatever sort only creates drag.


Connect wise / Labtech implementation

So, you're thinking about migrating to Connectwise and/or Labtech.  First of all, if you aren't already using a ticketing system, you need to get started if you want your business to grow and be able to deliver reliable service to your customers.  Autotask, Connectwise, whatever.  

Autotask and Connectwise are the big boys in the "Professional Services Automation" (PSA) space.  My business has used them both.  We started with an internal program called "tick-tock" that was a web-based app that we wrote in-house.  As we grew we needed ever more features in tick-tock and it took an increasing amount of time to write those features.  At some point I decided we weren't in the software business and we ditched tick-tock in favor of Autotask.

Autotask was great for where we were at that point.  That was probably 4 years ago.  It's a capable platform that integrates with Quickbooks.  I'm sure that it has continued to evolve over the years but 4 years ago we were in a place where we needed help with the business process side of our IT consulting practice.  You know, "how does everyone else do this"?  My business might be unique but I ain't the only person doing this kind questions.  I went to NYC for an Autotask "bootcamp" that I was told would help.  It didn't, it was focused on how to use Autotask….which I already knew.  The AT people at that conference indicated that if I needed process help, I would have to pay their consulting people.  I was hugely frustrated.  I knew there was no need to reinvent the wheel….and that was when I ended up at Chartec.  Chartec is a story in and of itself but suffice to say that they use Connectwise which I had not heard of other than it was horrificly complicated.  Watching them work at Chartec I knew that I needed to at least investigate Connectwise.  Connectwise has documentation and templates for every part of your business.  It's all figured out.  I was sold.

So, going from AT to CW isn't hard on the ticketing side.  They'll help you get setup with departments and service boards.  In that respect it isn't bad.  The billing side – that's a challenge.  CW has something called "agreements" that you, as a business owner or exec, need to stop and get your head around.  They're complicated and integral to billing.  CW also has a larger ecosystem than AT does.  So much stuff integrates with it that you can do almost anything.  Many applications integrate at such a level that they can even update billing information in CW.

Labtech…if CW is a bit of a heavy lift LT is moving mountains.  We migrated from GFI / Maxfocus after their merger with Solarwinds.  There are several reasons for this but chief among them was my belief that Solarwinds was going to merge their two RMM products and it would be a mess.  We were also progressively unhappy with Maxfocus as it seemed that the more they updated the product the more things were broken at one point or another.  We waited years for a MDM solution from them that was never completely baked.  Support was horrid.  Normally the best place to get help was on their Linkedin page – of all places.  Labtech….everything you've heard is true.  Yes, it does nearly anything.  It is amazing.  Yes, you will need a nearly or completely full-time person to make it work.  

Out of the box, labtech doesn't do much.  You have to use the "Ignite" template if you want it to do anything by default.  What does that mean?  Well, if you're familiar at all with Maxfocus, when you install the agent it will, by default, scan the system and decide which checks it will automatically setup.  If it sees a backup configured, it'll monitor it.  By default, Labtech doesn't seem to do that but if you are using Ignite, it will….or that's the way I understand it anyway…and if you modify the Ignite template, you better document it because when you update the Ignite template it will overwrite your changes!  You'll need to get all of your engineers to do the online training.  Unlike GFI/max you can't just login and start.  I don't think we ever trained our engineers on GFImax – you really don' t need to but with LT, it's essential.  You'll end up wasting a lot of time and money if you don't.  I threw a cocktail party for the staff and the price of admission was their labtech certification.  

At this point, we've been on LT for about 7 months and I'll tell you that it will make your MSP much more effective and "sticky".  Yes, it is tough to get your head around and it is expensive but it's worth it.  Dealing with Connectwise can be a bit of a bear.  You should negotiate any quote they send you.  I made LT match my Maxfocus cost for the first couple of years.  They'll want to sell you Webroot as well and Webroot is just "ok".  Lots of false positives and the product doesn't seem well-tested.  Be warned that LT WILL NOT support Webroot.  We had an issue with Webroot crashing a handful of servers – on the same day – (which was a lot of fun) and LT's response was to send me a document on how to call Webroot for support.  They do not stand behind what they sell at all.  In fact, support is the achillies heel in the whole thing.  If AT ever wants to start picking up CW customers, they should amp up their support and advertise it.  

They do have chat support for both CW and LT and, even though the wait times have continued to increase, it isn't bad.  However, if you cannot resolve your case via chat, you might as well forget it.  It'll be days before you get a call back and many times the person on the phone seems like they might have just finished a shift at the local gas station.  Your Account Manager is generally non-responsive but your salesman will be so if you need anything you need to loop him in on any email.  Yes, their support sucks that bad.  Better off getting on the labtechgeek slack channel.

In closing I would say that if you are self-reliant and can use alternative resources to support yourself, LT & CW are the way to go.  Honestly, CW doesn't require much in the way of support.  Once you get past the agreements and some of the integration, it just works.  LT can be a bit dicier but it is the best RMM out there.  If you're a small shop, I'd forget it and go with something else.  If you're north of 5 people and your business is growing, it's what I would recommend.


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