Get to Know Your BPI Team

15 Oct

Bryan Manicke

Production Assistant

Madison, Wisconsin

bmanicke@bpiinc.com

Bryan has been with BPI Inc. since late May of 2013.  He is currently working in production at our Madison East location.  Bryan’s focus since joining BPI’s team has been large format scanning.  When not scanning, Bryan assists the Madison East team with usual production duties:  printing, laminating, scanning, and upkeep.

Previously, Bryan was employed at the Clarion Suites in Madison as a front desk manager, gaining a fair share of customer service skills and knowledge during his 9 year employment.  On the side, Bryan enjoys working on small computer repairs because of his extensive background in that area. As well, Bryan is enrolled in the Cisco Networking Specialization degree program at Madison College. 

Bryan is married to his wife of thee years, Lisa Manicke, a German language teacher employed within the Deforest School District.  In early September Bryan and Lisa bought a house on the east side of Madison where they live with their new puppy, Bilbo.  Bryan feels his free time is best  spent doing something mentally engaging, whether that be reading a good book, playing an involving computer game, working on a home project, trying to program his Raspberry-Pi microcomputer, or working on his car.

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Google Forms

8 Oct

If you haven’t heard yet, Google has just about everything you can imagine these days, including Google Docs or more specifically for the purposes of this blog, Google Spreadsheets.

Google Spreadsheets looks and feels just like Microsoft Excel with one special caveat, it’s free.  If you haven’t tried we would encourage you to take a look at a minimum.  It has all the functions within the cells that you would expect; calculations, links, graphs, etc.  One very cool function that prompted me to share this is the functionality of Forms.

Google Forms is a function within the Google spreadsheet that allows you to quickly and conveniently take a survey of information.  You can pose questions in a variant of ways and receive answers that are specifically denoted or multiple choices as an example.  The form then is emailed away to your recipients and as they respond to the survey, your spreadsheet automatically populates.  This is probably one of the more powerful functions of the Form because it can save you so much time.

Now for the WOW part of the form.  We were recently at a conference where the speaker was a Google expert.  He pulled up on his projector the Google form and started reviewing the abilities, some of which we have listed above and many more including the ability to host a Q&A session using Google forms and having your audience text their answer in to him right then.  None of us had to wait to see the results because as all of the attendees were texting their answer choice to the phone number projected on the screen.  We saw a poll of the possible answers and the percentages of people selecting one vs. the others.  He was able to privately poll the audience and show immediately where the majority of the group stood.  Talk about WOW factor!

Think about the various ways you could use this tool in your next presentation, company meeting or private event and the amount of time you will be able to save by letting Google handle all of the busy work. You can bet that I will certainly be trying to incorporate this into my next presentation.

For more information on Google Forms check out this video: http://youtu.be/IzgaUOW6GIs

Texting in Business

24 Sep

Texting is the new email…depending on who you are or, more specifically, what generation you come from. Texting is arguably the quickest form of interpersonal digital communication.Texting  With email, you never know how long it will be until your recipient opens your message.  And, similar to snail mail (USPS), even though you sent off your letter, it could be days before you get a response.  In certain situations this is acceptable, like a bid request, but we’ll save that argument for another post.

Texting, like email, carries the inherent problem of whether or not your message is being read in the context in which it was written.  Here are some helpful tips on what to consider before pressing that send button!

  1. Don’t text indecipherable abbreviations.  Abbreviating in a text is acceptable and common.  Just make sure your recipient knows what your abbreviations stand for. U no wt im sng?
  2. Don’t text while driving.  There is good reason why 39 US states have banned text messages for all drivers. It’s just plain unsafe.  If it’s that important to text or respond, pull over to the side of the road.  Use your Bluetooth or other hands-free device with your phone’s voice-to-text feature.
  3. Texting etiquette will tell you that using ALL CAPS MEANS YELLING, obnoxious, angry, etc.  Just like in email, texting with all caps conveys a special kind of message.  Make sure if you are writing in all caps, it’s on purpose.
  4. Keep your messages short and to the point.  A long, drawn out message has no place in the texting world.  If you have a message that requires great detail, make a phone call, meet in person, or send an email.  By no means should bad news be delivered via text.  We are talking about texting in business here.  Your credibility is on the line.
  5. If you can use Google to find the answer to a question you have, do so.  Don’t text someone your question. (Our personal favorite!)

All in all, texting can be of great value in the business world. But before you begin texting all of your contacts, make sure the recipient parties agree. It takes two to text!

Server Room Energy Consumption

17 Sep

Every month we receive an energy bill and we think, “How can the energy consumption be that much?!”  The second thought is, “How can we reduce the amount of energy we are consuming?”

serverroomEarlier this year we were able to identify equipment in our server room which was contributing to the overall energy consumption.  We were in need of updating our main server – so we looked a step further to see how we could also reduce our energy costs while meeting the requirements we had set forth for the new server.  After considerable analysis, we opted to acquire a new Dell server which would allow for future expansion and allow us to continue our Virtualization initiative.  With VMware we have been able to simplify our server hardware requirements and increase infrastructure efficiency.  By implementing VMware, we have increased overall utilization of our servers since we can load multiple operating systems on one physical server allowing us to take advantage of the hardware capabilities.  The virtualization initiative has also reduced capital and operating expenses, minimized potential lost revenue due to downtime, outages and failures.

Prior to cutting over to VMware we had multiple physical servers running in our server room producing heat and drawing energy every day. With the acquisition of the new server built to support virtualization, we were able to reduce the amount of physical servers from four (4) to one (1) server.  Our server room cooling costs have been reduced drastically because the amount of heat one efficient server puts out is considerably less than our four (4) old servers which were 6 plus years old.  Here is the quick math on cost avoidance.

  • Electricity to run old inefficient servers (3 physical server reduction)
    • A 350W server running 24/7 would directly consume 3,066 kWh of electricity annually.
      • At the current WE Energy price average of $0.126/kWh cost ~ $386.32
  • 3 servers cost $1,158.96 per year
  • Annual savings on physical server energy consumption $772.64 this is a 66% energy savings.
  • Air Conditioning
    • The cost avoidance relating to AC is difficult to pinpoint exactly. However, the cost of cooling the server room has also been reduced because the AC unit is cooling one efficient Dell server instead of 4 servers.

In conclusion, continuing our virtualization initiative has not only improved our server performance, infrastructure efficiency and decreased capital cost – it has also allowed us to reduce our monthly energy cost.

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