Unity

Unity Game Engine Logo

We need talk about Unity, the game engine

Unity Game Engine

Last week brought a lot of big and wild news. Unity Game Engine announced pricing changes that upset and confused many developers. For those that were camping off the grid for a week here’s the scoop.

While Unity themselves have already announced that they are walking back this policy change, they have yet to identify how. And what remains is broken trust.

Unity Editor's note: We have heard you. We apologize for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy caused

So if you’re a game developer working solo or with a team and use Unity you likely have already considered a new game engine. We agree that’s a shrewd consideration.

We also want to remind you that we are vendor agnostic. This means we are not necessarily for or against any particular software or hardware. We use a wide variety of different vendor’s technologies and consult you on the best fit for your goals. We tend to prefer free open source software because it is free as in freedom. This means you have control over your tech and executive boards cannot make broad changes on a whim. There are major downsides to this approach including requiring extra support from a community that is often part-time or volunteer.

The Switch, it’s not just Nintendo anymore

We also recognize switching game engines in the middle of development is madness. But you don’t have to take our word for it, just listen to Tom Coxon developer of Cassette Beasts. While you’re at it, if you like creature collector games like Pokemon, you owe it to yourself to play his delightful indie game!

Better off wait for the next project to switch, especially now that Unity themselves may be reversing course on some of the policy changes.

What’s the big deal? How did we get here?

Way back in 2014 when CEO of EA had left to become the new CEO of Unity technologies many people saw this as a warning sign. Riccitiello said about a year ago that mobile game developers who opted not to use Unity’s advertising tools were “some of the biggest f@#$ing idiots.” And he did that while the company was knee deep in laying off 4% of their employees.

Zoom back to a couple weeks ago when you saw executives selling off stocks ahead of this controversial announcement to require developers to pay every time someone downloads a game made with their engine. This is on top of any subscription license fee you are already paying for their software tools.

(Rust game developer) Facepunch Studios would owe [Unity] $410,000 based on the number of installs.

Garry Newman

While it doesn’t appear that any of this is technically illegal, it’s a really bad look for Unity. We have seen reports of people making threats to Unity which is undeniably illegal, wrong, and we do not support such actions. Instead, you do have other options which we will talk about below.

Breach of Trust

On top of new fees, Unity did not do a great job of explaining how they would even measure the amount of fees owed by developers. While there were some forms of exemptions it seems clearly something that would squeeze out a lot of smaller developer studios. It hurts doubly when we remember how Unity started by making a great game engine that was available to learn, use, and pay for all within a small team’s resources.

If you’ve heard our founder say anything you’ve probably heard Alan Youngblood quote the old Russian proverb: “Trust. But verify.” We always work to be open, honest, and understanding so that we can earn the trust of our clients, partners, and community.

What Unity has done whether they reverse it fully or not signals a breach of trust with developers who are their customers. Sadly, there have been some other notable business changes that have at least left people scratching their heads, and at most caused serious damage to their own brand. Or maybe just a reminder that you aren’t getting enough value to resubscribe to a service like Sony’s PSN plus.

I want you back

Things don’t always go over as we expect in life. If you work in the board rooms of a big business or have the ear of someone making these decisions I think there’s a few simple strategies we may suggest:

  • Voluntarily freeze stock trading, especially among executives for a few weeks before and after your major business change. Lots of businesses have technical “soak” time built in to monitor the effects of a major change request, it might help your business and finance teams to do the same.
  • Know what you are known for. In the examples above Unity is known for being accessible and affordable to anyone wanting to make games; RedHat is known for being the first successful business using the open-source model; Twitter is known for having fun quick quips allowing anyone to participate in the conversation; PlayStation Network was known for adding a lot of value with monthly free games and great online play. In each case, those organizations have been perceived as violating those core identities with the people who matter most.
  • We all have to raise our prices some times and it can be painful for all involved. Instead of try to bury the lead look to inform your customers why you see it as necessary. If possible, change the offering of services or products to assure that you are also adding some value to that higher price tag.
  • Treat your employees with respect and your customers will notice. If you really need to raise prices to keep your employees it will undermine your case to be laying people off or showing contradictory actions and policies.

Alternative Game Engines

Now for something completely different: good news? Yes, good news! You aren’t totally locked in to a vendor, and while there are concerns when switching tech tools you may find they are worth it. A great way to make the move is to first not make the move. Hear us out, you can get a free version of most of these engines and work on a game jam project over the weekend or in your free time and see if you like it. If not, it’s trivial time investment and then you can try another one from our list or another source.

  • Godot Engine Logo Godot Engine – A great free open source software solution that has cross-platform game engine and tools to make 2D and 3D games. Godot is one of the better options for 2D/retro styled games. If you are targeting release of your game on low-end devices or the web we recommend checking out version 3.5.2 or whatever is marked LTS at the time, otherwise you may want to use the version 4.x. We also recommend you get the “with Mono” version especially if you want to keep using C# like you did in Unity. Here’s a quick start guide coming over from Unity.
  • Epic Games Unreal Engine Unreal Engine – A great proprietary game engine developed by the teams behind Fortnite, and classic games like Gears of War, and Unreal Tournament. Great for making 3D games and content!
  • GameMaker logo GameMaker Studio – Boasts itself as The Ultimate 2D Game Engine and with titles like Hyper Light Drifter, Hotline Miami, and Katana Zero it’s easy to see why! Coming from Unity? Here’s a quick start guide to jump right in!

Version Control Systems

As you are navigating some of these decisions and changes at your developer studio, you may encounter something that’s overwhelming or you just want another opinion.

Our company’s founder Alan Youngblood started out his career in game dev and still does it as a hobbyist. We also are excited to share that we have been helping Mighty Rabbit Studios with their IT infrastructure needs this year.

The company has been through a few changes over the years, and they’ve been staffing up while working on new projects this year. One of the early needs was a version control system (VCS) and we consulted with their in house tech lead to design, build, configure and even in this case host their VCS server.

When we started many on their team had experience with Perforce and we set that up. As they grew they asked for a license quote and decided it was no longer the best fit for their needs. We take a lot of pride in being able to quickly spin up a docker image of GitLab that is now their VCS solution.

Growth Pain Points

Much like Mighty Rabbit Studios’ growing pains big changes can also be uncomfortable. But it’s worth it when you have important new goals to meet. If you are not a game developer and you’ve read all of this, thanks! There are actually many ways some of these trends can apply to your business. Big change happens everywhere and whether it is by seeming edict or necessity of your operations we want to help smooth out your technology.

I came here to make games and chew bubble gum…

And I’m all out of gum!

For the game developers out there if you haven’t already, contact us! Share this article with your friends in the industry. We have over a decade of IT industry experience on top of experience with game dev. We are fluent in your dialect and can quickly help you with any tech challenges you face.

Enjoyed reading our thoughts here? Want to hear more about a new way of thinking in economics for your business? Check out our post about Doughnut Economics to see how re-thinking the economy can serve your goals better and prevent PR and productions disasters like we discussed today.

Inflation Doughnut Economics and iPhones

Pexels Stock Photo of iPhone

Inflation, Doughnut Economics and iPhones: In a world where everywhere you turn there’s inflation, how do we save money? And what do the new Apple iPhones have to do with these larger economic, social, and political trends? What about implications for your own tech and digital security?

iPhone
Photo by Soulful Pizza on Pexels.com

Inflation

It seems like everywhere you look prices are going up. We are seeing this in technology as well. Monthly fees for line-of-business software rise. In our hobbies it shows like the recent rate hike announcement from Sony for Playstation Network subscriptions.

For the last year we’ve seen lots of massive layoffs in the tech industry. The social media company and platform formerly known as Twitter has slashed 70% of its workforce. All this happened since changing ownership about a year ago! In my gardening hobby I’ve learned the value of carefully pruning plants to yield better fruits. But there’s a major difference in pruning and the business mantra “cut your way to growth.” Especially when the latter is more of a hatchet job or dismemberment plan.

The sane and empathic response requires our hearts to break. But instead the calculating optimization algorithms driving the economy are in charge of these decisions.

Is Capitalism the Problem? What about Communism?

Let’s start this weighty discussion with some humor from the 1980’s with comedian Yakov Smirnoff:

Smirnoff jokes about “In Soviet Russia…” as one of his trademark standup routines. For example: “In America, your job determines your marks. In Soviet Russia, Marx determine your job!”

Before we segue into the more serious part of this post we want to remind you we are aware of who we are, where we are, and why we are. We acknowledge you are in a different place and anything we discuss has nuance and value for you. You are welcomed to disagree based on your personal beliefs or values. That’s okay. You have worth regardless of whether we agree or disagree. We also recognize that the US is a republican democracy with recent leanings towards authoritarianism. Our economy is a mixed economy that trends towards being more free market capitalist in most instances.

It’s the Stupid Economy

Moving right to the big idea: something’s wrong with our economy. I think that’s a rather uncontroversial empirically observable truth. It may be objectionable to those who are currently wealthy enough to benefit from the status quo. But even those of you in that group must see the writing on the wall. If the economy doesn’t work for most of the people in it, it becomes volatile.

The prices of goods and services are rising. The stock market volatility harms your retirement options. Many people experience wage stagnation. Maybe you cannot afford child care. Or medical expenses leave you in debt. The economy is certainly struggling. In the entrepreneurial spirit, these pain points can also be opportunities. We will acknowledge too that this economy itself is doing well by the current metrics. Notice inflation has largely been under control from its peak in the summer of 2022.

How can it possibly be true that the economy is doing well and inflation is down, but I’m still paying more at the gas pump?

Smirnoff’s jokes are referenced because we are thinking that both capitalism and communism are out dated and poorly serve humanity’s needs today.

Regardless, we remain very hopeful and optimistic about our shared human future. We can make changes and better serve people today while succeeding in business. Does that sound good to you too? Then let’s get started!

Doughnut Economics

Kate Raworth quips in her book Doughnut Economics: “These citizens of 2050 are being taught an economic mindset that is rooted in the textbooks of 1950, which in turn are rooted in the theories of of 1850.”

There’s a lot to this new economic theory, but we’ll summarize and link you to the author herself explaining it in less than 8 minutes.

Doughnut Economics

Doughnut Economics comes from the above diagram that is a literal game changer. It invites us to think about the economy and our relationship to it differently in these ways:

  1. Change the goal – from GDP to the Doughnut (above)
  2. See the big picture – instead of self-contained markets we have embedded markets in a larger whole
  3. Nurture human nature – from rational economic man to social adaptable humans
  4. Get savvy with systems – from mechanical equilibrium to dynamic complexity
  5. Design to distribute from growth will even the playing field to distributive by design
  6. Create to regenerate – from growth will clean it up to regenerative by design
  7. Be agnostic about growth – from growth addicted to growth agnostic

There are no externalities as Herman Daly would say, your model is just not big enough.

Inflation Doughnut Economics and New iPhones

Okay, what does any of this talk of inflation and doughnut economics have to do with iPhones? Surprisingly quite a bit.

Earlier this week Apple announced the latest iPhone models in the 15 series.

iPhone 15 New features

There are a number of cool new features on the latest iPhones. They have better cameras, dynamic island on all new iPhones, and our personal favorite a USB-C charging port.

We’ve been following the news that lead to the USB-C port for a while now from the European Union. Cheers mates! This is welcomed news for everyone! Now there’s no more “hey do you have a charger I can use?” Only to get let down with a response like, “oh, sorry I don’t have an iPhone.”

It also means less tech waste or trash. And while we’re on that note there’s an important thing to say about your old phone, actually several. No matter if you’re getting the shiny new titanium iPhone Pro you’ll still want to hear how you can turn your trash into treasure.

End of Lifecycle Tips

All good things in life must come to an end at some point. So for a smartphone, a wise person will evaluate the full lifecycle of the phone.

Pricing has a lot of catches to look out. Some of us joke about the “Apple tax” because they charge more for their products than competitors. They also tend to provide better long term value.

Here’s my personal example: I have an iPhone Xr I purchased 5 years ago. There’s a slight bit of battery degradation due to normal use. Otherwise it’s in good condition.

It was $800 when I purchased it. So simple math says that $800/5 years = $160 per year.

While it’s hard to do a direct comparison with Android. There’s a lot of options and variables so we’ll compare to Google’s Pixel 3 from 2018. Google does featured support for 3 years, which is also better than other Android device makers.

At the same price of $800/3 years = $267 per year. Expect worse with Android makers that don’t support their devices as well as Google does.

There’s a very similar prospect with Windows PC’s (especially laptops) compared to Apple MacBooks which last much longer on average.

Trade-in Tips

Here’s where your proverbial trash becomes treasure, but there’s a few warnings to be aware.

You’ve likely also seen those cellular company commercials with antiques roadshow themes talking about trading in your old device. This is generally a good idea if you do not plan to use them anymore. If you want to sell them to another person online like on craigslist or ebay, that’s a good option to get more money.

Tech trash is a big problem in our industry. One way we can help make a better 21st century is thinking like a Doughnut Economist. My grandparents grew up during the Great Depression which ingrained the idea wear it out, use it up, or do without. But they also became low-key hoarders due to their lack of having stuff in formative years.

We can combine the good of the Depression Era wisdom with our modern needs and sensibilities for a better perspective. We should first recognize our needs and values better. Then look at the bigger picture to move towards sustainable and ultimately regenerative practices in our economy. So certainly use up your resources if you can’t find some that are regenerative. But while you are doing it ask yourself if you can make them last longer. You might be surprised by your own ingenuity!

Smartphone Trade-in Considerations

What to look for in your trade-in deal:

  • What year/model current phone do you have?
  • Do you plan on using it for anything after you get a new one?
  • Do you think anyone else might want to use it? (Check sites like eBay to see what people are paying for it)
  • What condition is your phone in? Scratches, blemishes and broken parts will decrease the trade-in value. Consider getting a new phone you can hold easily without dropping, maybe invest in a case or screen protector?
  • What cellular service company do you use? Are you happy with them? Many times you’ll need to be in a contract with them for a while to get the deal.
  • Where does the trade-in valuation take place? Many deals offer you the convenience of mailing in your old device after getting a new one. But this means you have to trust them fully to value it accurately. Find a trade-in offer in person that way it should be readily apparent to everyone why your phone got devalued.

My estimate is $350 credit with a 3 years plan. This brings a new iPhone 15’s price down from $800 to $450. Then if you average that over the next 5 years you get $90 per year. That’s looking really affordable. Like most adults I use my smartphone for lots of things from running my business to planning my social life.

Save Money and Improve Your Product Lifecycles

At large companies, there are often people who specialize in parts of the supply chain. But as individuals and small businesses the thought might be new. Give yourself some time to mull it over. You will find lots of great new ways to save money, improve value, and eliminate waste.

Do you have a drawer of old technology you don’t know what to do with?

Does your company have a supply closet overflowing with technology?

Do you use out of date technology that connects online but lacks crucial security updates?

Would you like to get more out of your technology investments?

Safely repurposing, recycling or disposing technology equipment and data is also important to your security posture. Make sure that you are not literally dumping a device with access to your bank account. A hacker could find it and have access to your treasure in bank accounts just by combing through your trash!

Be creative; you’ll find lots of ways to get more out of your technology or reuse it. But if you need help anywhere along the way, we’re happy to advise you. You can surprise us, but you won’t stump us. Contact us to see how we can improve your tech lifecycle!

Social Break Digital Business Cards

QR Code Icon

Security Checkpoint: Social Break

Ever run out of business cards right before meeting a really important contact? Still waiting on your company or printer to get your business cards ready? Want to have a business contact card ready to hand out to anyone at anytime? Of course you do!

QR Code Icon

This video shows you how to make a digital business card with a QR code that you can download to your smartphone and share with anyone to scan.

So the next time we meet at a social event you can share your business and contact info with me. No more excuses!

What you need to set up your digital business card

  • Your contact info on a webpage. This can be your personal or business website, LinkedIn page, facebook page, instagram, or digital business card.
  • A web browser that can generate the QR Code: We’ve tested Brave Browser (shown in video), Google Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. Others may work but we can’t verify that, so if you have a problem try one of those.
  • Be sure to download the QR Code image to your phone so it’s easy to show it off to new people you meet and share your contact info.

If this helped you out while socializing or marketing contact us to say thanks! You can also subscribe to our channel on YouTube to get some more tips you can’t afford to miss!

Be sure that you have the rights and consent to any information you are sharing. If it’s your company you might want to ask your manager or HR to make sure you are sharing public info. If you have your own company or want to promote yourself, make sure the info you are sharing is all available to the public and you’re comfortable sharing it in the first place. A little preparation and respect goes a long way to help everyone’s privacy and security.

Your friendly digital neighbor at Oak City IT

Security Checkpoint – is a new series of web videos where we go through and improve our digital privacy and security one step and one minute at a time. These are all great security and privacy practices. You can follow along as Alan goes through his digital life and cleans up data and access.

Need help with your company’s cyber security? Contact us now to see how we can help!

If this post helped you improve your digital security and privacy please like, subscribe, and click the YouTube bell. You’ll be the first to know when we have more tips on Security Checkpoint for twitter and other digital services.

Building a Better You: Tech with Alan Youngblood

Building A Better You Tech Talk Podcast
Microphone in podcast studio

Ep. 16 The Tech Industry Uses So Much Jargon – IT with Alan Youngblood

Building a better you tech talk new podcast just dropped today! When Nick Spindler and Chris Morgan, co-hosts of the Garner Young Professionals‘ Building a Better You podcast invited our founder Alan Youngblood to join for an episode he was delighted. We’ve listened to several episodes of the podcast and highly recommend that you listen, subscribe, and like the channel.

Nick and Chris are doing a great job collaborating with the Garner Chamber of Commerce. They created a great resource that is sourced by our community and the shared knowledge and wisdom we each bring.

Building A Better You Tech Talk

In episode 16 Alan Youngblood shares about Building a Better You and talks tech with Nick and Chris. The conversation covers the fundamental IT security practices that everyone can do to improve and mitigate real risks. There’s even some decidedly low-tech suggestions that Alan shares about how he connects with nature and integrates more humanity in life and work. Listen below and contact us if you have questions or need help with your company’s technology!

18. A Look Back w/ Nicole Barone Building a Better You

In this episode, Nicole Barone is back to help us take a look at the podcast so far and dive deeper into some of the insights we've gained from it. Info about the Garner Young Professionals:┬áHERE Info about Davis Insurance and Financial Services:┬áHERE Contact Nicole:┬á[email protected] Info about Community of Hope Ministries:┬áHERE Info about Chris Morgan – Grow Local Realty:┬áHERE Info about Nick Spindler – Grow Local Realty:┬áHERE Music by┬áZeph Park
  1. 18. A Look Back w/ Nicole Barone
  2. 17. A Good Foundation w/ Tarkisha Poole
  3. 16. The Tech Industry Uses So Much Jargon – IT w/ Alan Youngblood
  4. 15. What If I Want To Change Careers? w/ Sarah Edwards
  5. 14. Knowing Your Why w/ Denise Pavona

Ready for a Passwordless Future with Passkeys?

The Passwordless Future with Passkeys

Are you ready for the passwordless future with passkeys? It’s already here. Or near. Well, it’s a good goal for all of us.

Passwords are annoying. And many times they don’t do enough to prevent data breaches.

If you’ve ever heard our founder Alan talk for a while you’re guaranteed to hear him say:

Security and usability are fundamentally at odds.

Alan Youngblood

This doesn’t have to be the case though. It is super easy to use Passkeys, but don’t take my word for it:

Login process with Passkeys on Macbook Pro

And it’s even more secure to use Passwordless systems.

By using the security capabilities of your devices like Touch ID and Face ID, passkeys are way more secure and are easier to use than both passwords and all current 2-factor authentication methods.

Learn more or try for yourself at Passkeys.io

The Security Holy Grail

Why can’t we have both security and usability? 

Why not both?

Typically this is a natural trade-off. Most security measures make your everday work and life a little bit more difficult while also making it much more difficult for hackers. So in practice it’s good security policy to take reasonable efforts that you know will be a slight pain to you and a major pain to hackers making them think twice.

Can’t we have both though? Every so often there is a truly different way that makes that possible!

That’s where Passkeys and passwordless systems come in. There’s a lot to say about this but the bottom line is simple: there are now computer systems that do not use passwords and are actually more secure than the systems that do.

Passwordless Future with Passkeys is More Secure

Do not mistake any of this to say we need to get rid of passwords. We’ll come back to this later but in some ways we may always have passwords for certain uses even in the passwordless future.

This also doesn’t mean wide open access or less secure systems. But how? In InfoSec we refer to authentication in a few ways. Authentication verifies a person or user of a system to make sure they are who they say they are.

Authentication can be:

  • Something you know. For example: a password.
  • Something you have. For example: a hardware token or smart badge/card.
  • Something you are. For example: fingerprint scanning, Face ID, or other biometric data.

Two factor or multi factor authentication (MFA) is just a combo of more than one of those methods. More layers of security tends to give a more secure system.

But many passwordless systems actually combine several factors into one more simple action. For example, using Passkeys combine Something you have: your mobile smartphone and something you are: the phone’s biometric touch or face id. So instead of fumbling around with a 6 digit code or remembering a password that’s hard for you to remember and easy for a computer to guess, you already have MFA built-in with one simple step.

Passwords are the weakest link in security. Think about it: they are shared at some point in the login transaction with the server. It’s something you know but that doesn’t mean someone else might know it too. I can tell you about “MySUPERsecretPasswd456!” and you you already know that one. Pro-tip: we never use that password and we recommend you never use it either. With something like passkeys, the hardware of your smartphone is leveraged and authenticates to the server basically saying you are who you claim to be and everything’s fine to let you in.

I’m just going to assume for a minute that you do a good job managing your passwords and use significantly complex, unique ones on all your accounts. Even if that were true for everyone, there’s a lot of data that gets exposed when you are a part of a service, let’s just say Facebook because so many people are there. Let’s say someone on Facebook signs up with a password “Password123.” This laughably easy password then gives hackers a potential in to the entire system. While it may not expose everyone or everything, at minimum, it provides this hacker with the next step and clues to hack other data and people. 

I'm in!

Why We Can Trust the Security of Passwordless Passkeys

What’s wilder about these systems is that they aren’t entirely new. That’s part of the reason we can trust them.

These are all built on well established protocols and technologies. Much of the magic of public/private key cryptography has been around in regular use for decades, since the 1970’s. Passwords we use now are still vulnerable because common wording or being knowable by people other than the authorized users.

Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

The biggest challenge is that even if there’s a better way, it requires change from a lot of people. Many of us are not ready for a passwordless future with passkeys if it involves doing things differently.

There’s two crucial requirements to be able to use Passwordless systems:

  • Everyone using them has to have either an up to date smartphone, computer, or hardware key token.
  • Every account and system software needs to have this feature integrated into them and users need to learn how to use it.

Easier said than done.

I don’t wanna change I’ll rise above it But it’s so damn hard to make that change

Adam Granduciel, song Change performed by The War on Drugs

Change isn’t always easy. I get it. Even when we’re in a bad place sometimes we want to cling to the “devil we know.” Why risk it doing things differently?

Plus this requires change from a lot of people, namely those we lack any control or influence over. As a company’s leader it would be easy enough to make it corporate policy to assure all employees make a change that helps everyone. But there’s still the other end of these systems, the platform holders that you can make requests to but ultimately don’t have to do anything. And there’s the bit about having updated computing devices. While this is good practice in general, it doesn’t mean we all do it. And there’s the training, why learn a new thing if what we all did a few years ago seems perfectly fine to get the job done?

Passwordless Future Goals with Passkeys

For all these reasons we recommend Passwordless systems as a great goal. We ourselves are working toward implementing and using these systems incrementally in our business and personal lives where possible. But it has to be opt-in.

You can lead an animal to water but you cannot make them drink.

Old English proverb attributed first to John Heywood

Having the personal buy-in from each person who will use the system means they are showing up ready to learn something new and try it for its merits.

The Password is dead! Long live the Password!

General Hux isn't ready for the passwordless future with passkeys. The password is dead! Long live the password!
The password is DEAD! Long live the Password!

You didn’t really think we’d be giving up the passwords everywhere so soon did you?

Because it’s simply not practical to expect everyone to give up their current systems we suggest you phase in the Passwordless tech where you can. Meanwhile, passwords are still the best standard way to secure everything from your WiFi connected toaster to databases with trade secrets.

So we’ll end here by pointing you back to advice that’s still great for using BitWarden as your password manager for all the systems that aren’t ready for that change yet. If you don’t feel like you can remember your master password or secure it in a safe place like a lockbox, you should consider using a different trusted system like 1Password in the video below.

And if you are already using LastPass, you need to use a different system as fast as you can make the switch. While we used LastPass previously but a number of reports of breaches and a general negligence of security practices at their organization mean that moving to a better system is the best thing you can do for your security right now.

Josh at All Things Secured has you covered on a step by step guide to make the switch from LastPass to 1Password.

Make the switch from LastPass now. Thank us later. We will thank you too because helping everyone helps everyone.

Ready to ditch those pesky passwords for something more secure? Get in touch and see how we can help your organization make the transition!

The Reality of Money

Garner High is doing their Reality of Money interactive lesson to teach students how to handle their finances. Alan’s not one to toot his own horn often. However it’s a great thing to be part of a community and to help out. We volunteered to help this week on Wednesday, though the event is on-going.

Garner Magnet High School

Garner Magnet High School

Garner Magnet High School has long been the only High School in Garner back to when Alan Youngblood was there. That all changed about 4 years ago when South Garner High opened for students.

GMHS is known primarily for sports and is where Alan first picked up his love for sports that flourished much more during his time at NC State. Read more about the school and notable alumni like singer Scotty McCreery, olympic gold medalist Randolph Ross, and current NFL stars Nyheim Hines and Richard Medlin.

The Reality of Money

Sounds kind of good to me, don’t you think? Were that it really was the reality of us all getting money. This event simulates what it’s like to have a budget and expenses as an adult. The students make payments and plans while contributing to savings. Most of you reading this have learned from years of practice, and the students experience it for the first time. Alan heard about this through Paige who is the career advisor at the school. If you’re interested in other opportunities and live in the area contact us and we can get you connected.

New Curriculum for a New Reality

The program has been designed in large part as a cooperation with the NC State Employees Credit Union. Alan uses them for his personal finances. He also recommends them as one of the best employee benefits ever for North Carolina state employees.

Each volunteer shift consists of two sessions or class periods with a couple of classes of students participating. During break Alan chatted with the other volunteers some who are teachers or faculty at the school. They said this is part of a new curriculum for the students to learn about how to manage their money.

When I attended Garner High in the late 90’s through early 00’s, the curriculum didn’t have these kind of ingenuous and practical lessons. Luckily I had a great teacher in Drew Cook who is now an Assistant Superintendent for Wake County Public Schools. When we got our schedules back then they printed them out for us at orientation. Mr. Cook taught Economics, Legal, and Political Systems but the printer at that time didn’t have extra space and it showed up abbreviated on our schedules. “EcoLePSys?!?” What is this, some kind of disease? Joking aside, Mr. Cook was an excellent teacher and used a lot of great examples to demonstrate complex concepts in economics, among the other subjects. Further, he’s just a wonderful person that gives back to the community. So here I am all these years later giving back a bit to help the students now learn some of these lessons which are thankfully a part of everyone’s curriculum.

Alan Youngblood

Lessons in Finance

The students each got randomly assigned a sheet with demographics for their imagined adult life. Their sheets gave them a marital status, children, student loan debts, their education level, credit score, and current salary. It also has a basic ledger for a checking account and savings account.

The Best for Last

Alan worked at the “Next Payday” table. He helped the students move to the next month of the experience and collect another paycheck. Naturally, some students wanted to do this first but they had to go through all necessary and discretionary spending. So Alan helped out at some of the other tables where they purchased expenses.

Before a new paycheck the students decided what to do with left over money. Some chose savings, some wanted to keep it in their checking accounts for a big expense, some rethought their purchases.

Though simply a simulation many of the students had those moments where it clicked. They saw where it was important to put money in savings, not spend everything they had, or get higher education. Others learned how to do accounting to be aware of their money.

Resume: Alan Youngblood

Alan Youngblood

Below is the resume for Alan Youngblood. Join us to celebrate his 10th year working in IT. Connect with Alan on LinkedIn!

Alan remains committed to our business’s clients and is constantly learning about new technology solutions to innovate and improve your work!

Learn more about Alan and Oak City IT’s work here!

Seems like just yesterday I was wrapping my head around Inception-style remote connections and virtualization with the support team at Global Knowledge. Now I’m managing Oak City IT’s microservers in docker on infrastructure we designed and built to serve our clients’ needs!

Alan Youngblood
Alan Youngblood
Alan Youngblood, CEO/IT Director

Download Resume for Alan Youngblood

2022-10-27_IT_Resume

Comparison of 2012 to 2022

2012

  • Windows 7
  • Mac OSX 10.8 Mountian Lion
  • Virtualization like VMWare
  • iPhone 5
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 2
  • Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)
  • 4G Cellular Networks available, 3G still in wide usage

2022

  • Windows 11
  • MacOS 13 Ventura
  • Containerization like Docker
  • iPhone 14
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4
  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
  • 5G Cellular Networks
  • The CD (Compact Disc) Technology celebrated its 40th anniversary

Vote in the People's Choice Awards

Vote in the People’s Choice Awards! We know that we make a positive impact for anyone that we do business with. We consider ourselves thankful to have such great clients to work.

Garner Chamber of Commerce Logo
Proud member of the Garner Chamber of Commerce

Please vote for us in the People’s Choice Awards for the best B2B partner.

Haven’t you heard what we can do for your business? Peruse our blog for quick-tips and deep-dives of info to improve your tech!

PC and Data backups are more important than ever. We can help you with that!

Need help managing or moving to the cloud? We can help with that too!

Have another unique tech challenge? Contact us to see how we can help you fix problems, improve systems, and reliably flex on your competition.

There are some challenges you face that may be beyond our scope. Talk to us anyways, we know a lot of other great people and businesses that are on that ballot. We would enjoy connecting you with the right team for any job that you have.

Mayor Marshburn at Tru Hotel Ribbon Cutting
Mayor Ken Marshburn at Garner Chamber Ribbon Cutting Networking Event at the Tru Hotel off of Highway 70

Much like the town itself, the Garner Chamber retains the culture of a small Southern town where people are happy to help and genuine. As the town grows rapidly we hold on to that identity because it’s what makes us such a great place. All of the NC Triangle area has wonderful people and if you’re around let’s connect.

What can your Tech do for you?

Earlier this month our company founder Alan Youngblood was invited to speak as a guest at the 1099 Ladies Networking event. Alan gave his talk What can your Tech do for you. Thanks to Lyndah Tello for inviting us! We encourage any women in the NC triangle area who are self employed to check out their group.

Here is Alan’s talk about “What your tech can do for you?” from the recorded Zoom session:

Read more with our posts about Free Open Source Software Alternatives and BitWarden QuickStart for Password Manager.

What can your Tech do for you? It can boost your productivity and help you protect what’s important to you.

In addition to Free Open Source cost savings you can also use your technology to save time and improve your work. Configuring the tools you already use to communicate better with each other is all it takes to save time on routine tasks. Often your work can be easier if you have your tech tools optimized.

Cyber-Security planning is unique to your organization, but every plan shares a few common points.

  • Assessment of current systems, controls, data in use.
  • Identification of each one’s importance.
  • Taking reasonable measures to protect each item based on it’s importance.

The web-comic XKCD shows us why it’s important to protect your data with better unique passwords:

XKCD Password reuse

BitWarden Password Manager QuickStart

Bitwarden Logo
BitWarden Logo

The Password Problem

BitWarden is a free open source password manager that we will get you setup to quickstart.

We all use passwords everywhere because they are easy to implement and use and restrict data access to authorized people.

But they’re a pain to remember and create for every account.

xkcd.com/936 Password Strength

Worse, if you’re human like we are you can’t remember a unique password for every account you have. While larger companies use Single Sign On (SSO) Agents, there aren’t good options for small businesses. Don’t fret, we’ve got you with the password manager, and we recommend the free BitWarden.

xkcd.com/792 Password re-use

BitWarden helps with all these problems

  • Generate secure new unique passwords
  • Safely store your old passwords
  • Auto-fill passwords only when needed
  • Check for password re-use

Setting up BitWarden

  1. Start by thinking of a secure long passphrase much like the “correcthorsebatterystaple” example from above, but unique. Jot this down in a location you can physically access and protect like a locking file cabinet.
  2. Create an account with BitWarden. It’s free and easy.
  3. Download BitWarden (You will want to install it on all computers and mobile devices you use, but you can do that after you’re setup on your first machine)
  4. When you first install it on a device it will attempt to import any saved passwords from your web browser. Go ahead and do that. That’s what we want.
  5. Additionally you may want to disable your browser’s built-in password storage. We prefer using BitWarden because they work on all devices and browser built-in functionality invariably doesn’t.
  6. BitWarden offers some great written and video guides to use their software, check them out!
  7. Enjoy a free, more secure way to navigate your digital life!

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us for help.

***Please Note*** BitWarden is what’s called a zero-trust security solution. In simple terms this means that BitWarden nor Oak City IT LLC have any knowledge nor access to your master password to unlock your secure data vault. If you lose this password you can still request a reset to your account and begin using it again, but all the passwords and data contained in there will be wiped. This also means that there is no way for anyone to accidentally or purposefully steal your data without that password. So it is important that you guard it.