Winter Storm Juno: What to do when you have to work remotely

Snow pic - Alex - 1

View from the front porch of Alex Straffin, Everon’s Technical Services Manager.
That’s a lot of snow! (Jan 27, 2015)

Making the headlines today is Winter Storm Juno. While the storm didn’t bring in the massive snowfalls predicted, it did force thousands of employees to either take the day off or work from home, as transportation came to a screeching halt in many of the major cities.

What do you do when you are forced to work from home? Fortunately, as long as your IT department has invested in this scenario, you have options.

Snow pic - Brandon

A view from the window of Massachusetts-based Everon Project Engineer Brandon Hodgkin (Jan 27, 2015).

The biggest option most employees are given is to use a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It basically is a tunnel between you and your location to your office. When you join a VPN, you are routed to your company’s internal network, and from there you can map drives and access resources that are only accessible to you from inside the office.

VPNs are either offered internally, through an RRAS (routing and remote access server) or through a unit designed to handle the traffic (such as a Cisco AnyConnect device).

Another option you have, if available, is the use of a terminal server. Terminal servers are servers set up inside a company’s network. They allow multiple users to connect via remote desktop protocol and receive a fully functional desktop to use. When logging into a terminal server, you will be put onto a server’s desktop and will have access to all tools that have been previously installed on the server, such as Microsoft Office or Quickbooks.

Be aware that with a terminal server you are sharing the resources of a server with several other users, so you will be very limited to what you can do and where you can go. You should not be able to reboot the server or get to any administrative tools as a standard user.

Snow pic - Simon - 1

That white car belongs to Everon’s IT Project Manager, Simon Islam. Look at how much the tree limbs are weighed down — must be very wet, heavy stuff. (Massachusetts, Jan 27, 2015).

If neither of these are available through your company, and as long as you have permission, you can also use free remote software, to gain access to your actual desktop at your office. One such tool that I recommend is Teamviewer. You sign up for a Teamviewer account, and then install the software onto your workstation for unattended access (that will be an option to choose).

By doing that, Teamviewer modifies your machine to stay online and to keep a constant connection open, so when you leave the office, you can go to, sign into your account, and access your machine. It will open a window that puts you right on the desktop of your machine!

When using Teamviewer, be aware  that if you have your monitors on at work, everyone who is around your machine can see what you are doing. If you know you are going to use Teamviewer the next day, it’s a good idea to turn off your monitors before leaving work. (You will still have access to your machine.)

Snow pic - Simon - 2

As of 4 p.m. today (Jan 27, 2015), snow was still falling. Photo courtesy of Simon Islam.

These are the main three ways you can connect into your office remotely. Check with your IT department to see what they have available for you. Most likely they will allow one of these three. These are not the only ways to connect remotely — just the easiest and most common of the type of calls we typically get when a snowstorm shuts down a city.

For further information on how to connect remotely, and what your options are, feel free to contact Everon at 1-888-244-1748.

Snow pic - Alex - 2

I’d hate to have to be the one to dig out Alex’s car. Eesh! (Jan 27, 2015)


If You Give a Girl a Smartphone: Cool apps the techs are using


App blog

If you’re following along with me, you know that a few posts ago I found out how to buy a new phone. (Haven’t actually bought it yet, but I’ve narrowed down the field.) Well, if I’m going to get a new phone, I’m going to have to get an app or two to go with it, right? And what better way to find out the best of the best of what’s out there, than to ask the rock-star techs and other cyber-savants who work around me every day? I did, and they were all only too happy to help. I got a slew of responses when I asked: “What’s your favorite app, and why?” 

Business accessories

Justin Long, one of Everon’s L1 engineers, likes TeamViewer, which gives him access to his home computer while he’s at work, while L1 Supervisor Frank Lindsey favors Windows Sysinternals’s Autoruns, a program that shows which programs are running on your computer, and which ones are hidden add-ons that you don’t need. (Hmmm…. Getting rid of stuff I don’t need, that’s slowing down my computer? Um, yes, please!)

Zev Barsky, General Manager of Small Business Services for PlumChoice (Everon’s parent company), likes Evernote, an app that helps him organize his thoughts from meetings. And Jay McGuire, another L1 engineer, likes the continuing education of which he can avail himself with iTunes University.

For his iPhone, Technical Account Manager Shady Hamad likes Mail+, which “acts like Outlook, with the calendar and everything, once you set it up properly.” James Schaffer, an L2 Engineer, likes Visual Voicemail because he hates checking his voice mail. “This downloads it automatically and plays it when I want to hear it.” Crash, another L2 (and one of our more prolific bloggers) likes Android’s xPrivacy app, which “restricts what information other apps can get access to within your phone: location, phone number, serial number, cell provider, etc.” (Ooh: covert. Very Bond.)

Life Accessories

Google Maps is right up there for L2 Daryl Patino (“because, life,”), while  L2 Supervisor Jeremy Bienneman likes ShopSavvy, which displays the best prices at both local stores and online after the user scan a barcode, via cell phone. Meanwhile, Alison Swanigan, Everon’s Director of Operations, likes SmartStart for her car. “I can start or unlock either car from anywhere from my or my husband’s phone. It requires integration with the car’s computer, but I know a guy….” (Alison’s husband works for CarToys.) And when it comes to fitness, Mat Perry, Everon’s Remote Services Manager (and former U.S. Marine) likes Runtastic Pro. “It is a GPS based fitness tracker that can integrate with a heart rate monitor to give you an accurate summary of calorie count and other stats on almost any exercise done. It also includes social media integration, which allows friends to cheer you on while you are working out, and a video recap using Google Earth.” (Think anyone would cheer me on for a Google Earth recap of walking on a treadmill?)


Only two people admitted to games being their favorite app. Client Technology Advisor Josh Hansen likes Puzzle and Dragon (“a free game that’s a cross between old school JRPGs and Bejeweled”), and Principal Project Engineer Wah Lee likes Angry Birds. Music apps, however, got three votes, split between Shazam!, a music recognition app that Lisa Ruscitti, Senior BizOps Coordinator loves, and Spotify – the fave of both Technical Services Manager Alex Straffin and L2 James Schaffer. (I could walk on the treadmill while singing badly!)

Account Manager Christina Abeyta and Field Engineer Simon Tolstopyatenko both put social media apps at the top of their lists. Abeyta likes Instagram (“Secure, fun filters, and selfies! Lol!”), while Tolstopyatenko claims that Reddit “is the answer to all of life’s needs.” And while news sites may not have made the cut, Jeff Woods, an L2 Engineer couldn’t live without his MLB.TV app. “It gives me so many options for watching my favorite sport. It allows me to listen to any radio feed through Bluetooth off my smartphone in my car, to watching any game in HD in off my phone, tablet, Xbox and TV. I take the games with me everywhere!” (Jeff really likes baseball.)

So who knew that there were so many cool ways to augment and improve your life with apps? Well, that wasn’t all I learned: it turns out that one of the  interesting side-effects of this survey was the insights it gave me into Everon’s wonderfully diverse array of personalities. Who knew I worked with such a cool group of people! :)