It was still technically winter here, but you could tell that the half melted, crusty snow was beginning to give up its hold.  Punkinhead strolled up to the bus with a big smile on his face.  He and I had signed up for a spring golf trip to Paducah, KY.  There spring was in full force.  Flowers blooming, turkeys gobbling.  A coach bus would drive us through the night and we would arrive in Kentucky early enough to get in a quick nine holes before breakfast.  Another eighteen holes before lunch and eighteen more before dinner would be a good start to the trip.

Even though he had not played much golf, Punkinhead had purchased a brand new set of clubs.  During the 10 hour bus trip Punkinhead sheepishly admitted that he was both scared and excited.  He had never been to Kentucky in the spring and he was not sure how well he would do on the links compared to the other players.

By breakfast I could see Punkinhead was already feeling a little more confident.  He was discussing club design and proper form with the people from his foursome and generally laughing and having a good time.

By lunch, Punkinhead was starting to shine.  He had met a bunch of the other golfers and was recounting shots he had made this morning.  He was explaining how he had picked out the perfect clubs using a computerized golf game that analyzed his swing and chose the proper design that fit his style.

By dinner Punkinhead had reached full steam.  He was helping out others with their swing and answering questions from the newer golfers.  As the day went on, his fear turned into confidence and he was feeling pretty good about how well he had progressed.
The next morning, we met at the locker room in the club house for another day of golf.  Punkinhead was looking forward to another fun and successful day when someone said, “Hey Punkinhead, your shoe is untied.”

He bent over to tie his shoe and that’s when it happened.  !!BANG!!   Thud!  He hit his head on the bench and collapsed in a pile on the ground.  Punkinhead was out!

All of us can relate to the excitement and fear Punkinhead felt as he started his trip.  When we started our jobs or our new businesses we were pretty sure things were going to be OK, but maybe a little nervous on how well we would do.  We also know what it is like to start doing well and have others ask our opinions on things.  As our confidence and responsibilities continue to grow we put behind us our completed tasks and move on to new goals in order to achieve even more. 

In our quest to achieve we have to remember that issues can occur when we stop paying attention to things we think we don’t need to worry about anymore.  When it comes to technology, the goal of having systems that allow your employees to do their jobs in the most efficient manner is not a task that can just be checked off.  It is a continuous process.
While we agree with the old saw, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it” we also subscribe to the idea that, “if you know it’s going to break, do something about it before it becomes an emergency!” 

One example of this would be old operating systems.  Operating systems are designed for a life of 10 years from release.  Microsoft stopped its official support of Windows XP for desktops on April 8, 2014 (14 years).  Microsoft will stop support on Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015 (12 years).  On its web site Microsoft warns, “Customers that go beyond the termination of extended support place themselves at potential security risks and potentially in a regulatory noncompliance situation.”

Other I.T. items that need to be kept up to date include firewalls, switches, backup systems, documentation, disaster recovery plans, UPS’s, and antivirus software to name a few.  Firewalls need updates to their intrusion detection software.  Almost all hardware requires firmware updates to alleviate issues or work with newer technologies.  The time to find out if backups, UPS’s and disaster recovery plans work is not when you really need them.
As the ambulance drove him away, Punkinhead came to.  Where am I?  What happened? 
Paducah, Punkinhead!  You never saw it coming!”

Don’t be a Punkinhead.  Take care of your I.T. systems before they become an emergency!

– as previously published in The Business News