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Thoughts From Abbott’s Inbox Nov. 3rd, 2023

A handful of us spent the majority of the week in Miami at the Channel Futures conference and MSP 501 awards event. Ashton came in ranked at #142 globally, in terms of managed IT services firms.  Not bad, considering there are 43,000 of them in the world.  That said, the ranking algorithm seems a little bit ambiguous, but considers organizational maturity and revenues, among other factors. At the awards dinner on Wednesday night (where there were at least a few comments along the lines of “It’s a major award” and “be careful- it’s Fra-gee-lay”, we shared a table with representatives of an Austin, TX based provider which had $4B in revenues in 2022.  Just a little bit more than Ashton…  But, they probably don’t put out an publication with interesting pieces on Excel painting, F1 pit stops, and protecting our senior citizens.

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Reshipping Scams

A couple of weeks back, my debit card was compromised (still not sure how) and somebody tried to purchase something at a Sam’s Club in Texas (KeyBank declined the transaction).  After reading this article about reshipping scams (people buy stolen card numbers, then purchase hard goods which they sell on the black market), I wonder if that’s what was going on with my debit card.  Seeing that the guys who run the company highlighted in the article are making $100K each month, it’s easy to understand why they do it.  And they’re obviously not dumb people.  But you’d think they’d make at least that much money if they’d use their brains to go cure cancer.

Targeting Senior Citizens

Fortunately, my 90 year old mom doesn’t trust anybody who calls or anything she receives via email/US mail that relates to technology or finance.  I’d like to think that comes from reading this publication every week, but in reality, she just knows better than to provide any personal info to anybody.  Additionally, she doesn’t spend much time online, having nothing more than an iPad which she uses for email. Regardless, I’m glad she’s not part of the group of Americans over 60 who lost $3.1B to cyber fraud last year.  

Hardware Recycling

In the interest of transparency, I’ll acknowledge that not every blog post on our website is written by us.  We pay a nominal amount each month to white label some content written by other providers.  We’re provided with three posts each week (12/month), and I’d be surprised if we actually use more than three a month.  They’re generally written with the grammar of a sixth grader, and the content often doesn’t apply to our clients.   But, every now and then a blind squirrel finds a nut, and this is one of those times.  

 

While the data cited is from 2019, it’s still amazing to think that “…53.6 million tons of electronics were disposed of, resulting in a loss of $57 billion in various materials like copper, gold, platinum, and silver.”  If you have hardware that you’re disposing of, let us know and we’d be happy to recycle it for you.  Or, you can probably figure a way to do it yourself.  Why just throw it in the dump?

Digital Marketing

Before I came to Ashton, I spent a few years working for a digital marketing company, where we built websites and provided search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click campaigns (PPC), and social media.  So, while I’m far from an expert on those things, I know enough to be a little dangerous, and I still pay some attention to what’s going on in that world.  Interesting then that in the past two days I’ve come across articles questioning the value of social media as it relates to business, and talking about the people who “ruined the internet” by creating SEO and making it so that every piece of content has to be written to appease Google.  

Solar Winds

Back in 2020, IT monitoring and management software provider (something used by many of our peers to monitor their clients’ networks) was hacked, and access gained to many of the end user companies being monitored.  Now, the SEC has filed suit against Solar Winds and their Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who knew that their security standards were sub-par, at best

Pit Stops

We have a couple of people on the Ashton team who are big racing fans, especially when it comes to Formula One.  So, when a fan forwarded this article from the Washington Post about the inner workings of an F1 pit crew, I figured I’d share it.

Nancy's Nuggets

Nancy spent much of the week at the same conference as I did, where she sat through various seminars on marketing and AI.  As such, she didn’t have opportunity to provide me with a whole lot for this section… other than the guy who “paints” using Microsoft Excel.  Maybe I should ask him if he can help me with my graphs (the video is better than the article for explaining his methods). 

Welcome to our two newest subscribers- Johnny and Hannah from Worklyn Partners.  They were kind enough to take Travis and I to dinner in Miami on Tuesday night, and in return, all they get is this weekly newsletter…

 

I’ll leave you this week with the New Yorker cartoon which is their most reprinted, ever (I would’ve used it for my header image, but didn’t want to pay $200 like Bill Gates had to, back in 1995).  It also just sold for $175K, making it the priciest cartoon ever sold at auction. And since Ashton president Jim Millican absolutely loves the country of Aruba, I’m including this piece about their free tattoos for visitors– but only from January through June of 2024.  If you have suggestions for him, please feel free to share.

 

Have a great weekend and Go Bucks! 

Abbey

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