By Gail Nickel-Kailing October 25, 2004 -- Now that the dust has settled and you’ve unpacked, laundered, and slept off Graph Expo, what was it that you came away with? Here are some of the things I saw that caught my eye. Realize, of course, that while I’m somewhat biased toward the nifty things that software can do, I am still fascinated by cool hardware. Creo in a Box Everything you need to go digital including workflow, plate setter, Integris proofer: all the hardware, software, consumables, media, training, and service in one package that can be paid for with a monthly payment. Talk about one-stop shopping! (For more info about Creo products, go to www.creo.com. EFI – The Four Aces Four – count ‘em – four MIS systems from one company! And these are not “Johnny-come-lately” solutions; how many print management solutions have version numbers like these? This year’s Graph Expo graduates include: Hagen OA Revision 8.5, Logic SQL Revision 20.01, PSI Revision 11.2, and PrintSmith Revision 7.1. And, new this year are two solutions supporting mailing and fulfillment. A warehouse and transportation solution provided by Manhattan Associates offers: Fulfillment RFID - Radio Frequency Identification Warehouse management Transportation management Real-time integration – beginning with Hagen OA EFI has also integrated Window Book’s Smart Postal Solutions with Hagen OA to offer mailing management, and will soon be integrating them with Logic and PSI. With Window Book you can: Schedule drop-shipped mailings from imported Mail.dat files Manage partial or ‘cycle’ mailings Manage advanced postage deposits Manage meter, stamp and postage inventory, purchasing and usage Produce postal forms Produce production and mailing reports – more than 60 standard reports are included Reduce mailing-related postal paperwork Conform to USPS requirements (For more information about EFI products, go to www.efi.com.) When Nature Delivers a One-Two Punch John Fleming, President of PrintLEADER Management Software, had some very useful advice to share this year since he is Florida-based, and was in the path of not one, but two major hurricanes. Take a look at the accompanying photo – see the “eye” of hurricane Jeanne? That’s where PrintLEADER is headquartered. By some miracle his home and business were nearly untouched, but the potential disaster caused him to give some thought to preventing the business catastrophes that can occur when companies are not prepared with plans and backups. Not every business has a warning that disaster might hit, but many of these suggestions can be implemented as “insurance” against possible occurrence. There are three major areas you must consider in case natural or man-made disasters strike: Protect your data Back up, back up, back up – redundancy is a good thing! Back up each day’s data everyday, and create a “changed file” back up at least once a week. And don’t just automatically assume that your back up system is working correctly, confirm it and keep checking. If your systems go down, you will only have to re-key one day’s work or at most a week’s. Keep duplicate copies of your weekly or monthly backups off site at home or in a bank safe deposit box. Consider a redundant server system, such as a RAID 5 server. RAID is short for Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks, and is a category of disk drives that employ two or more drives in combination for fault tolerance and performance. If one of the drives goes down, the second is nearly a mirror image so that you will keep most of your data. Not only is your data secure, but your business can keep running on one server. A good back up system – depending on your choice of hardware and mass storage system – could cost as little as a few hundred dollars and certainly not more than a few thousand. Just remember if you run a $1 million company and you lose a year’s worth of data, you’ve tossed away a small fortune in information! Protect your hardware and equipment When it looked like his business would take a direct hit, John took a number of steps to secure his hardware and equipment. First, he wrapped everything in plastic – workstations, servers, all the portable hardware – and stashed each piece under a desk or in a cabinet to prevent damage should the roof cave in. And, in case the floor flooded, John also made sure each piece sitting on top of a box or shelf that raised it off the floor. As a second precaution, he removed the hard drives from some of his more critical systems and took them home. In the instance of a hurricane, where business owners have plenty of warning, this is an option; for sudden disasters, you don’t have this luxury. John recommends that you copy down all the model and serial numbers from your servers and work stations, as well as any other critical equipment, and use a digital camera to photograph your workspace. Not only will you be able to provide this information to your agent be sure you have full replacement value insurance, it will simplify the process should you need to submit a claim. Keep this information in the safe deposit box too. Protect your business Make sure your insurance is up to date. Again, insure all your hardware and equipment for full replacement value. It may cost a little more, but a three or four-year-old workstation has very little “blue book” value, and you will have to buy new equipment to replace anything lost. Because your expenses keep going, even if you have to close your business down to make repairs or move, John recommends two other kinds of insurance. First, business continuation insurance that will help pay the bills until you can get your doors open again. Second, consider disability – or income continuation – insurance, which will cover your own income loss if you are injured. Yes, you can replace any lost data, you can buy new equipment, but it’s darn difficult to replace your lost income if you’re self-employed. (For more information about PrintLEADER, go to www.printleader.com.) An Abundance of Andersens and an Anderson I must admit I got a little fuzzy when I tried to sort out Mark Andersen and Mark Anderson, but it did all come clear! Carol Andersen’s Enterprise Print Management Solutions, recently separated from Prism-USA, is now in the capable hands of sons Mark (President/Chief Technical Officer) and Craig (Vice President/Chief Operations Officer). Congratulations, guys! Mark Anderson, now President of Hiflex, the German print MIS solution, has moved from Belgium to Georgia to launch Hiflex’ US initiative. That’s some move, Mark! (For more information about Enterprise Print Management Solutions, go to www.entpms.com, and for more information about Hiflex, go to www.hiflex.com.) Remember those little puzzles with the sliding tiles? You had to unscramble the puzzle by moving one tile at a time to get them all in the right order. Somehow those were way beyond my patience level, but LithoTechnics has figured out how to do just that with dynamic layouts for gang printing opportunities. Metrix, LithoTechnics’ flagship product, takes all the possible configurations of products that can be printed on a single press sheet and optimizes the arrangement. I watched the configurations change dynamically as Rohan Holt, LithoTechnics’s founder, added or subtracted one or more individual products to be combined on a single sheet. It was just like watching the tiles of those little puzzles shift around in the blink of an eye. Now, that’s nifty software! (For more information about Metrix and LithoTechnics, go to www.lithotechnics.com.) We’ll see ya’ll next year at Print 05! Get it on your calendar now!