SPOOFING: SCAM PHONE CALLS ON THE RISE

By Tim Fontenot

Have you noticed an increase in incoming spam calls from local numbers? Research shows a drastic increase in mobile scam calls — from 3.7 percent of total calls in 2017 to 29.2 percent in 2018 — and that number is projected to reach 44.6 percent in 2019.

Phone scammers have control over the number that appears on your Caller ID. This trend is called “neighbor spoofing” or “NPA-NXX spoofing.” NPA-NXX refers to your area code and first three digits of your phone number. Spam callers make their calls appear to be from a local number in hopes that the recipient chooses to answer. These scammers might pretend to be calling about renewing automobile warranties, a contest that you have won or warnings from the police or IRS.

These scammers may have also used your number to call other people, so you might receive calls from other people who angry or confused about a call you didn’t make. At this point, both parties are victims of the scam — and there is not a solution to fix the problem. However, if you’re using Rader Solutions’ RaTel phone system, you can always call us for help.

If you think you’ve been victimized, call Rader Solutions. Our security response processes can help mitigate and prevent damage that may happen as a result of scams such as these.

How can you stop these annoying calls?
Unfortunately receiving these calls is inescapable at this time, but you do have options to minimize problems when you do.

  • Sadly, the most obvious thing to do is to avoid the call altogether – let it go to voicemail if you don’t recognize the number. If it’s legitimate, they’ll leave a legitimate message.
  • If you get a call asking you to press a button to speak with someone, hang up. This is a sure sign of a scammer. Don’t even press the button to “stop receiving calls” because this is part of the scam.
  • Google the phone number if you are curious. A legitimate local business’s phone number will show up in a Google result. For example, if you Google “3372054652,” you will see that this is the number for Rader Solutions.
  • Save contacts in your phone for people you know. That way unknown numbers are more obvious.
  • Never volunteer personal information to a suspicious caller. If they have reached out to you for a good reason, then they should already know who they are calling and why.
  • If you are questioning the legitimacy of a caller claiming they are from one of your existing business contacts, hang up and call the business. Use the number you have saved or find it on your account statements, their verified web site, etc.
  • There are apps that will block the number should they call again, but these callers typically use completely random numbers for every call. Blocking one number probably will not block their next call.
  • Set a unique passcode for all of your voicemail accounts. Check with your cell provider for your mobile phone for help with this.

Of course, spoofing Caller ID in this manner is illegal. However, the letter of the law is not stopping the criminals. If you have fallen prey to one of these scammers, you can file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=39744

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: BRYCE SMITH

Bryce Smith, a tech service advisor with Rader, has been with the company since March 2013, but his experience in tech extends beyond the workplace. He specializes in on-site work in hardware, an area that has interested him ever since he was a teenager playing video games, and much of his free time is spent doing installations and troubleshooting work for family and friends.

“It’s something I grew up on,” said Smith. “Ever since I was younger, it intrigued me, whether it was video game systems, computers, TVs, intricate phones, all of it. I was even built my own PC when I was 15 to play games. I just like taking things part, putting them back together, figuring out how they work. Ever since high school, I’ve been extremely interested.”

Smith’s favorite part of working for Rader is the team he gets to work with. He admits that the work can be stressful, but having the support of a fun group of people in the office and on assignments makes it worthwhile.

Despite his extensive knowledge, Smith enjoys that his work allows him to keep learning. In fact, he credits his expanding skillset to his position at Rader and the connections he has made there. He came to Rader as an intern while studying Computer Electronics Technology at Acadiana Technical College and had little knowledge in the area of networking. A quick learner, Smith was offered his full time tech advisor position just two months after his internship began, and he started getting more assignments regarding networking. Thanks to a helpful team of colleagues, Smith is comfortable knowing that he can take a look at any technical issue and get it fixed.

“The most interesting stuff I’ve learned is probably networking because it was one of those things that I didn’t really understand it,” he said, “Once I started working at Rader I learned from the people there how networking actually works, and it kind of almost blew my mind and opened doors for me because I realized the Internet isn’t that complicated. Once you have the mindset that you can learn it and see how it works from experience in a hands-on way, that helps a lot.”

Smith has enjoyed gaining hands-on experience and working with a team ever since he joined his brother Ashley and now sister-in-law Wendy in being involved with the Duck Festival in his hometown of Gueydan. What started as a way to spend time Ashley turned into a way of life, and Smith has gone from being an extra set of hands for the event to being the skeet shoot chairman for the past seven years.

Smith will be working for the Duck Festival this coming weekend, beginning with set up on Thursday night, and he will be there all day until the bands finish playing each night. The long hours he has spent working for the festival have made for some interesting memories over the years. Smith particularly enjoys reminiscing on the year the Chee Weez headlined the festival.

“They were the first rock band to play there, so we brought out the big TV screens and everything,” he said. “Being able to meet them in person before and after was a great experience. They are successful musicians who travel so much and are always out on the road, but we got to sit down and talk to them, and I got to see that they are just normal people who have fun and cut up. It was a great time.”

Smith is optimistic about the growing tech industry in Acadiana and the work he gets to do each day. From the major tech companies popping up throughout town to all of the other businesses that need technical support to thrive, he says that he loves teaching people from all backgrounds how everything works. With his passion for working hard, playing hard and helping people, Smith certainly seems to have found his place within the tech world.

Click HERE to learn more about the Gueydan Duck Festival, which will take place this weekend, Sept. 20-23.

RATEL: THE RADER TELEPHONE SYSTEM

The Rader Telephone System (RATEL) is Rader’s voice over IP system that many businesses use instead of analog phone lines. With Voice over IP (VoIP), telephone calls use computer networks rather than the old analog connections from the “Plain Old Telephone System (POTS).”

By combining data and voice into a single platform, the connections between a business and its customers are simplified — and costs are lower. The RATEL service includes an application that controls placing calls, transferring calls, accessing voicemail and generating reports of incoming and outgoing calls. Companies find convenience in controlling these processes remotely online.

Jeff Smith, a Rader tech advisor and account manager, explains that the entire Rader support team can set up the service and resolve any issues, just as they would for any other technical problem. In other words, when there’s a phone issue or question, clients simply call Rader instead of traditional phone company’s endless cycle of holds and constant restating the problem. One call equals a real person who answers immediately and works to solve the issue. Smith attributes this convenience and personalization to the rapid growth of the Rader phone system’s customer base.

“Our customers love the fact that they call the same phone number for an issue in Excel, on their desktop, or with their phone,” he says. “We do it all, and it’s so easy to just call and get your problem fixed.”

All RATEL systems are individually tailored — taking the structure and specific needs of each business into account while the service is built. RATEL also offers convenience in being all-inclusive. All equipment, as well as long distance and domestic telephone service, are available in one monthly package.

Jacob Landry, president of Rader, says the service is growing quickly because customers appreciate the all-tech-services-in-one offering.

“Our customers who already love RATEL have realized that it’s just an easier way to do business. They appreciate the personalized service and the fact that they can get their issues resolved with one phone call to someone they know — it’s a win-win,” Landry said.

Tim Fournet, Rader’s chief technical officer and the architect of the RATEL system adds, “We are constantly adding new functionality and features to the system. We have some exciting additions that will be available soon, including powerful dashboards, enhanced voicemail capabilities, new telephone options, and integrations with external applications like CRM. Our customers often ask for new features or abilities, things other systems either can’t do or cost thousands in extra fees — often we can deliver them quickly with no additional cost.”

All Rader services seek to simplify business for its customers. RATEL is living up to this mission, which is evident in its expansion throughout the region. The growing clientele includes current Rader tech customers who have been satisfied with the company’s other services. Other businesses are also getting recommendations and taking advantage of this opportunity.

Rader is committed to continuing to offer a quality service that simplifies business for its clients and supplies them with a feeling of comfort and support.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: JEFF SMITH

Jeffrey Smith is a Tech Specialist dedicated to Rader’s proprietary phone system, RATEL. He also serves as an account manager for Rader’s Baton Rouge partners. Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Smith came to Rader as an intern in July 2016 while earning his undergraduate degree at LSU. As he gained more responsibility, he knew he wanted to continue to work in technology and officially joined the team that December.

After a short visit with his parents who moved to Louisiana, his fascination with the intensity of SEC football convinced him to apply to LSU as a sophomore. He initially majored in engineering but recognized a particular skillset in his math classes and changed his major to math.

Outdoor sports have always been an important part of Smith’s life. He played on the lacrosse team during his first year of college at Chico State University and then became a self-proclaimed snowboard bum while living in Utah for a year. His move to Louisiana introduced him to a new boarding-style hobby — wakeboarding.

“My parents got a wakeboard boat shortly after I moved here to keep the theme up,” he said. “That was the thing to do down here because there’s no snow. I started wakeboarding and met some good friends through that.”

In college, Smith found a way to help cover the expenses of wakeboarding working as a boat mechanic and continues to be active in the sport.

“Jeff is pretty humble about his wakeboarding skills but I’ve seen him in action and it’s impressive”, said Rader president, Jacob Landry. “Earlier in my career, I worked for his mother, who was one of my most influential mentors. I had high expectations for Jeff and he has made the most of the opportunities that have come his way.”

Since joining Rader, he has been an asset to the company, especially in his work with RATEL, Rader’s voiceover IP system. He has been instrumental in the rapid growth of this product by taking the lead on day to day operations, new implementation projects, custom updates, end user training and internal documentation.  

Smith appreciates the diverse group of people he gets to work with at Rader and credits the company’s success to this attribute. “Everyone is from different backgrounds and we all allow each other to be ourselves. There’s no real judgment,” he said. “I think we gel because everyone is so different, but everyone has one main goal to make our customers happy. Even if there are differences, we rise above that to focus on our goal.”

Wakeboarding friends introduced Smith to Kerigan Bowman, a Baton Rouge native who is beginning her first year of medical school this fall in New Orleans. The two were engaged earlier this year at Lake Tahoe.

Smith has completely immersed himself in South Louisiana culture and has a tradition of cooking crawfish pie after each crawfish boil he attends. The person boiling usually knows to save a few pounds to give to him. The link below includes the recipe he follows for this popular dish.

NEW ORLEANS STYLE CRAWFISH PIES

INGREDIENTS:

Crawfish Tails
2 Packs (peeled / 12 or 16 oz bags)

Green Onion
1 Cup

Fresh Garlic
1/4 Cup (chopped)

Chicken or Shrimp Stock
1/2 Cup

Bell Pepper
1/4 Cup

Fresh Chopped Parsley
1/4 Cup

Milk
1/2 Cup

Stick of Butter
1

Corn Starch
2 Tablespoons

Pinch of Crab boil

Salt pepper, Paprika, and Cayenne Pepper

Miniature Pie Shells
10 – 12

PREPARATION:
1. Take miniature pie shells out of the freezer.  Take a knife and make 2-3 small slits in bottom of crust.
2. Bake only the pie shells on 350 degrees until crust is lightly brown.
3. Take out oven and let cool.
4. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat
5. Cook and stir the onion, bel pepper, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent about 5 minutes.
6. Stir in the crawfish tails, throw in that pinch of crab boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 3 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally.
7. Whisk corn starch into cold milk and stock in a bowl until the mixture is smooth, and pour the mixture into the skillet. Bring the filling to a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Add chopped parsley.
8. Remove from heat and allow to stand for 20 to 30 minutes to finish thickening.
9. While filling is cooling, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
10. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust, Fill over the base of the rim of the pie shell. Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is golden brown and the filling is hot and bubbling 15-20 minutes.
11. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

If mixture is too thick, add a little more milk. If you want mixture to be thicker, add more corn starch to cold milk.  Prep time 30 minutes.  Cook time: 20-30 minutes.  Serving size: 10-12 Crawfish pies

RADER SOLUTIONS 20th ANNIVERSARY

June 25, 2018

Thank you for trusting us to serve you through the years. I am humbled that you have chosen us over other IT companies, humbled that you have made us a part of your success, and humbled to celebrate twenty years in business.

When I started in 1998, I had an idea that my personal technology skills and background could be leveraged to help a few companies become more efficient.  By removing the technology burden from these companies, they were able to achieve significant growth as they focused on their business, minus the technology.  I believed that I had a solution — and that is how Rader Solutions was born on June 1,1998.

Today, it is impossible for one person to have the knowledge and capabilities necessary to manage all aspects of the IT as I did in 1998.  It takes many people with varying skills, from servers to telecom and from security to telephones, and everything in between.      

It takes a team of people operating together 24/7/365 always putting you first.  It takes people who listen and care about your business.   

In the last twenty years, we have shared in many of your personal success stories, business success stories, and family success stories.  Please keep us in mind as these successes develop.  We are continually here listening and supporting you in every way possible. When you win, we win.  It is that simple.

When I was asked by our employees what should we do for our 20thanniversary, I thought about it a while. Should we have a party? [No] Should we do something big? [No] Should we make a plaque and put it on the wall? [No] 

By reading this letter, you should have the answer to what we want to do for our 20thanniversary. 

We want to thank you for allowing us to be here and work with you. Without you and your company, we would not be here. So, I say to you, “Thanks from my heart and the heart of our employees. Thanks for allowing us to celebrate 20 years with you. We are humble that you have chosen us to manage your IT.”

For our 20thanniversary, we’re working for you and your company.  That is our celebration!

Sincere thanks,

Chris Rader

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: MALCOLM GUILLORY

Malcolm Guillory, a Lake Charles native and former trombone player, is one of Rader’s networking experts. He specializes in networking, routers and switches. He credits his experience at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, especially the time he spent in Americorps, with giving him a solid foundation in leadership and communication.

“I spent a lot of time building houses for Habitat for Humanity. In Project Spring Break, I got to lead a group of students to build storage units from the ground up — frame it, doors, roof, everything,” he said. “I felt like it really helped me come out of my shell and my comfort zone.”

Guillory says the Americorps experience helped him learn to speak up and relate to peers he previously didn’t think he had much in common with. 

“Before, I was always shy and had my head down,” he said. “That leadership role made me stronger in my communication skills and able to relate to people better.”

He met his wife, Adrienne, a Carencro native when they were both students at UL. Once they married and decided to settle in Lafayette, Guillory started looking for ways to be involved in the community. 

Basketball has been a key part of getting to know the area and its people. At 31, he coaches youth basketball and still plays four nights a week, including in a city league and in pick-up games at the local gym. A few years after he graduated college with a degree in Management Information Systems, he was playing basketball one evening when he met a guy named Chris Rader. Within weeks, Guillory accepted a job to come to Rader to work as a tech advisor. 

In 2017, he earned his certification in networking and has since fielded most of company’s the networking issues, setting up switches and routers. 

Rader president Jacob Landry is glad to have Guillory on the Rader team.

“Malcolm is a quiet and steady presence here in the office,” Landry said. “He’s patient with our customers and knows how to talk them through and correct issues. We are grateful to have him on board, but he and I need to settle our basketball bet mano a mano.”

Guillory says he’s happy to take on Landry in a game of one-on-one. 

Beyond in-office basketball rivalries, Guillory says the number one thing he’s learned in helping other troubleshoot technology issues is to start with Step A.

“I used to jump further into the issue before restarting the device first — sometimes the simplest thing fixes the issue,” he said. “That concept applies almost to every help desk call. 

Before diving into something more advanced, check the simple things first.”

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: SAM CASTRO

Before becoming the Rader’s technical services manager, Sam Castro graduated from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and Lafayette High School. These days four of his friends and former classmates are now his coworkers. His ability to connect others is one of Castro’s many talents.

Castro studied computer science his first year at UL but ended up graduating with a degree in elementary education. Though he enjoyed learning about the children in each of his classes and learned many life lessons himself, his time in the classroom in practice teaching made him sure that teaching was not for him.

Three months after graduating from UL, he found a career posting from Rader Solutions on the university’s career portal. Eight years later, he still loves his work.

Now 31 years old, Castro gives kudos to Chris Rader for creating a culture that allows the team to work hard and also joke around.

After his start as a Level One Tech, Castro grew his skill set and began to add to his responsibilities at the company, who believed in him enough to allow him to work from his apartment in New York City when his now wife, Brie’s passion for dance took them there for a year.

“Sam was the first internal promotion that I made at Rader. More than anyone, Sam has been instrumental in our tech services operational improvement,” said Jacob Landry, president of Rader. “Because he was in the trenches with Chris Rader when there were only five employees, having someone with that type of experience stepping into a managerial role has been a key to our success.”

Castro has been the technical services manager at Rader since 2015. His wife now owns her own dance studio in Lafayette, The Ballet Studio. His primary job responsibilities include managing 12 people and ensuring that technical support on the frontlines of the company is delivered to clients in top-notch Rader fashion.  

Castro describes himself as just as nerdy as everyone else at Rader. He enjoys discussing movies, comic books, video games and more nerd stuff with the crew.

As the relatively new father of Marie, his baby girl, he also appreciates the opportunity for “new dad talk” with several other members of the Rader team. When asked what makes Rader such a unique place to work at, Castro says that it has to be the true friendships among coworkers.

In his free time, Castro has been working on his cooking skills, calling them rudimentary for now. It is definitely one of his interests outside of Rader. In his arsenal of recipes, he has his father’s Costa Rican recipe for delicious tamales. Below is a blog link that closely resembles Castro’s family recipe.

https://www.delapuravida.com/2010/costa-rican-christmas-tamales/

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: COURTNEY ALLIS

Courtney Allis has grown up working at Rader. As one of Chris Rader’s first hires when she was a college student, she is now a married and a mother of three sons. She credits her experience working with the Rader guys as making her a better mom at home.

“I’ve never been a roadie or jumped trains. I went to college, graduated and got married and had three kids,” Allis said, when comparing herself to some of the more colorful backgrounds of other Rader employees. “My kids are what I do in my spare time.”

When she started working at Rader in May 2006, Allis was a student at LSU studying information systems and decision science, which she describes as “half business/half computer.”

She has used both sides of her education as she’s worked in a variety positions at Rader, starting in tech services and now serving as the company’s controller. She’s also been a part of the company’s growth. When she started, there were only three employees. Now, there are 23.

She says her time at Rader has taught her more than just tech and business lessons.

“Chris has taught me to bite my tongue,” she said. “Listen first. Let the other person talk.”

She says she has also realized that even when it comes to navigating technology, human nature still plays an important role.

“I’ve learned that customers form a bond with different people in tech services,” Allis said. “When I was in tech support, some people wanted to talk to me specifically about their tech issues — people just get attached to certain people.”

When she first started in the tech services role, she says some people assumed she was the receptionist or answering service. Training them that she could help with their problem took some time.

“Then when I left tech services, I had the reverse of that problem — some people still kept calling me to help with their tech issues. I went from one extreme to the other,” she said. “Now, I’m so busy that it doesn’t bother me what people think I am!”

As controller, Allis does all the purchasing, much of the quoting, accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Her dependable nature and consistency at getting the work done does not go unnoticed around the office.

“Courtney is a great addition to Rader. She is a part of the glue that holds us together. With her long-time service to the company, she has deep institutional knowledge and knows the history of customers and why certain things are done certain ways,” said Jacob Landry, president of Rader. “We appreciate her great attitude and helpfulness and are glad she’s found a way to make working at Rader fit in with her life as a mother.”

On the other hand, Allis says she appreciates Chris Rader and the company’s flexible approach to finding a working solution for her during the many transitions she made from a college student to a working mom of three.

“As I’ve had more children, I’ve fallen into different roles with the company. Each time I had a baby, I dropped the number of hours a week I worked,” she said. “I’m currently working 30 hours a week and loving it.”

She’s able to drop her kids off from school and pick them up.

“That’s important to me. I have the best of both worlds,” Allis said. “I’m still a working mom, but my kids still see me as a stay-at-home mom. I work, but I’m always there for them too. Chris has always been big on making sure that I take the time and go to the event — that’s more important than work.”

The New Iberia native graduated from Catholic High in 2003 and LSU in 2007. Her three boys are now 7, 5 and 3.

“Working is actually better for me as a parent. I tried to stay home for a year after my third son was born,” she said. “After about six months of staying home, I realized it was better for my kids and for me too if I went to work. Work is my me time.”

At home, Allis loves to cook the Louisiana basics — roast, rice and gravy and carrots and potatoes. She’s developed a reputation for a delicious white chocolate raspberry cheesecake — and she’s willing to share.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake
From Courtney Allis

Ingredients
1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Directions
In a medium bowl, mix together cookie crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar and melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

In a saucepan, combine raspberries, 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to boil, and continue boiling 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick. Strain sauce through a mesh strainer to remove seeds.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt white chocolate chips with half-and-half, stirring occasionally until smooth.

In a large bowl, mix together cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Blend in vanilla and melted white chocolate. Pour half of batter over crust. Spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over batter. Pour remaining cheesecake batter into pan, and again spoon 3 tablespoons raspberry sauce over the top. Swirl batter with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until filling is set. Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8 hours before removing from pan. Serve with remaining raspberry sauce.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: JASON SIKORA

Jason Sikora took a circuitous and surprising path to get to his position with Rader — a route that includes sipping whiskey sours with Lisa Marie Presley, hanging out for a week at Skywalker Ranch with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and touring the world with the Goo Goo Dolls and Britney Spears.

After growing up an hour outside Detroit in Hartland, Michigan, Sikora headed to Hollywood, California to study at the Musician’s Institute where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Commercial Music, majoring in guitar.

“Moving to Los Angeles was culture shock,” Sikora said. “Growing up amidst cornfields and cow farms and being immersed in one of the largest cities in the world with mostly foreign students made it a ‘jump-right-in-situation.’ I was exposed to all these things I had never been exposed to before. I just rolled with it.”

The roll-with-it approach he developed in college has stayed with him.

“As long as you’re willing to take the plunge and let the river take you where it wants to go, there’s a lot of enjoyment in it,” Sikora said. “I still take that approach to life. That’s how I ended up at Rader.”

At Rader, Sikora is responsible for managing email servers, managing the website, domains, file sharing, music, multimedia and event coordination.

His college degree launched him into the big-time music world. He was handling guitars in Los Angeles for or touring with Santana, Aimee Mann, John Fogerty, Lisa Marie Presley, Hanson, Britney Spears and the Goo Goo Dolls.

“I met a front of house guy with Lisa Marie, who brought me to Britney Spears. I went to interview for the job and ended up hanging out at the hotel bar for three hours with the crew chief. After three hours, I said, ‘Do you have any questions for me for the interview?’ He said, ‘No, if I can hang out with you for three hours at a bar, I can tour with you.’”

In preparation for the tour, Sikora built a rig and figured out what kind of guitars they would use. The tour was six weeks in the States and then in Europe.

“There were plans to go on, but that was shortly before Britney shaved her head,” he said. “I met and became friends with one of the carpenters who led me to my next job. Every gig I got is from somebody on a previous gig who recommended me.”

And that’s the kind of guy Sikora’s Rader colleagues know him to be — if you’ve worked with him once, you’d like to work with him again.

“Jason is the kind of guy who just gets stuff done,” Jacob Landry, Rader’s president, said. “He’s a quick learner who very quietly goes about his business and is all the while accomplishing tasks. His varied work experience brings a different perspective to our office. We are grateful for his skills and work ethic.”

After a few tours with the Goo Goo Dolls, Sikora, now 39, decided it was time for a change of pace and lifestyle. He and another friend moved to Lafayette to start a computer company, Laptop Roadie.

In 2012, Chris Rader hired all three Laptop Roadie employees to work for Rader — catapulting Rader’s number of employees from five to eight. All three of the former Laptop Roadie employees continue to work at Rader, which now employs 22 people.

“Chris Rader then helped my girlfriend get a teaching job. She and I bought a house, and have settled down into life here in Lafayette,” Sikora said.

Does he miss the music/roadie life?

“Yes and no,” Sikora said. “When I decided I wanted to stop touring, I didn’t want to become a 60-year-old roadie. I wanted to have someone to come home to every night. I wanted to do something else. I miss the unpredictability of what’s going to happen. I miss working with the people I worked with because they were a lot of fun, but I don’t miss the 16-hour work days and loading a 53’ semi-truck trailer. I miss working with the very dedicated individuals, but I enjoy the stability here.”

He says the lessons he learned as a roadie have served him well working in technology.

“Working as a team, confidence to know you can figure out that problem, able to deal with unpredictability,” he said. “The roadie motto is, ‘Adapt and overcome.’ You can’t throw up your hands and say, ‘Nope, I’m not going to do it.’”

The show must go on.

Jason Sikora circa 2010

RADER'S TOP 9 SECURITY TIPS

1. Use strong passwords.

2. Don’t email sensitive information.

3. Install computer and software updates.

4. When making payments online, make sure the website is using HTTPS.

5. Always secure your wireless network with a good password.

6. Don’t write down passwords or store them in a MS Office document.

7. Be wary of email attachments from unknown senders.

8. Don't wire money based on an email request from a fellow employee without a verbal affirmation that the request is legitimate.

9. Lock your computer when you walk away.

RADER'S BRANDON DAIGLE HAS AN ALTER EGO

The rather quiet, yet personable, techie works in a hybrid role, going between doing in-office support of customers and traveling about to meet Rader’s customers face to face.

“We don’t want to be a faceless provider. We want our customers to know us and feel comfortable calling upon us,” Daigle said. “Not every customer calls in every time there’s a problem, so it’s nice to go and say, ‘How are things going?’ We learn a lot from being on site with our clients.”

Daigle has visited almost all of Rader’s local clients and a few of those scattered around the country.

“It’s very exciting to see clients who talk to us on the phone and you go to their office and get to put a face with the business,” Daigle said. “I don’t know if it’s exciting for the client, but it’s exciting for me! The feeling of us helping them get their work done is fantastic.”

The former high school quarterback, who also played defense, said that he realized at a young age that he enjoys creating a plan and putting it in motion.

“I realized that whether I liked it or not, as quarterback, I was expected to be the man with the plan, whether I wanted to have that position or not,” Daigle said. “Playing football prepared me for teamwork. However, professionally, if people are passing the ball, I can’t just sit around and wait for something to happen. I want to put together a plan and make it happen.”

Voted team captain back in high school, Daigle continues to exhibit the kind of quiet leadership and work ethic that earns the respect of his co-workers. He enjoys working with the Rader crew and the time he spends on the road.

“I enjoy being on the road. I don’t sit well,” he said. “I appreciate the chance to talk to people and do work on site. Not that being at the office is unpleasant. The people here are fantastic and it’s a great place to be.”

Aside from catching up on customer tickets in the office, Daigle also makes calls for clients so that they don’t have to sit on the phone waiting.

“We take that workload off of them. We want our clients to show up to work and work — not to have to sit on the phone and wait for customer service for one of their applications, software or hardware,” he said.

Rader President, Jacob Landry, says “Brandon might be the friendliest guy I’ve ever met.  So I was shocked one day when I overheard him speaking on the phone in a tone I didn’t know he had in him.  He’s saying things like, ‘that’s unacceptable, I need you to walk over to your supervisor and put him on the phone.’  He hangs up and with a big smile on his face tells me, I’m paraphrasing here, ‘they told our partner they couldn’t send someone on site to troubleshoot the internet connection today.  They’ll have someone there in half an hour now.’ All I could do was grin.  There is always more to Daigle than meets the eye.”

Daigle’s alter ego has nothing to do with sports or technology — he’s also a musician and has been playing music since 1994. In fact, his band, Cheetah Sneaks, even had a song on the radio back in the 90s.

“There used to be a site called Garage Band. You could submit music, but you had to review other bands. Our band won Song of the Month,” he said. “We played tons of shows. We opened for Splendor, a band that had a pretty big following and songs on the radio.”

Cheetah Sneaks performed at Cajun Heartland State Fair. Daigle says the band had its followers but was “nothing huge — not like Aerosmith.”

Even though he’s married with two sons, ages 12 and 7, he still finds time for music. He writes music once a week with Rader’s Jason Sikora. Daigle plays bass but doesn’t sing. He says his oldest son is rather musical and plays trombone now.

“I’d like to think he’s getting something,” Daigle said. “My grandfather, Pierre Varmon Daigle, wrote Cajun music. He’s in the Cajun Music Hall of Fame. He wrote for Cajun Gold in Church Point. My dad was a painter. He had some artistic talent.”

Cheetah Sneaks circa 1997

LUMBER YARD COMMON SENSE IT MANAGEMENT

In the past year, the headlines read of new data breaches nearly every day. The data breaches are not only happening at giant too-big-to-fail corporations. They are happening at organizations of all sizes — including local and regional lumber yards. Protecting company and employees’ data is critical.  

If you were one of more than 3 billion Yahoo email users in August of 2013, all of your emails have been copied and are probably available on the dark web. What does this mean? It means that any confidential information in a Yahoo email that was on your computer at that time, can now be exposed to the world. The dark web is an anonymous online marketplace where this information is bought and sold.  

You may ask yourself, “What if I did not have a Yahoo account?” If you sent any confidential emails to a Yahoo email account, typically accountant, lawyer, or anybody else with your company’s confidential data, then this has also been exposed.

Recently Equifax announced that the personal data of over 145 million Americans was hacked. Your Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses numbers, date of birth and addresses are now also available on the dark web. We must now pay particular attention when opening new accounts as the data used to verify the unique identity of a person is no longer confidential.

During the last year, we have seen an alarming number of fake emails asking us to transfer money. These emails look real because they contain our company logo and look like they are coming from a boss or another employee.

In one instance, a controller transferred $30,000 to an unknown bank account because she received an email from her boss asking her to move the money. Upon further investigation, the email account was masked with the exception of one character. For example, instead of the from account being JoeOwner@lumberyardusa.com the from address was JoeOwner@lumberyardsusa.com. The regular user typically does not pick up on the added letter “s” in lumberyardusa.com.

When the user called our office seeking advice, she began to cry. At that point, I knew this was real.

IT Security can be compared to an exercise program in that you must exercise security every day, or in this case, every second. You just can’t set up the security and step away. Tapping the resources of IT security experts is not enough. In the instance of the money transfer, it was 100% user error.

Here are ten Lumber Yard Common Sense IT Management recommendations to share with your employees:

1)    Never transfer any funds from any account without verbal confirmation from the person authorized to initial the transfer. If not sure, speak to the person requesting the transfer.

2)    Never change ACH account numbers through email communication without having a similar acknowledgement, usually verbal as above. We have seen an instance where a bank account was changed and ACHs piled up to about $50,000 before the vendor notified of non-payment.

3)    Do not send confidential emails without using a secure email service. A secure service will only allow the reading of the email with a downloaded key.

4)    Do not use public wireless, coffee shops for example, for any confidential data like logging into your bank account. These can easily be snooped allowing the hacker to capture your login information and password.

5)    Request two-factor authentication for online accounts. In addition to your login and password, you will need a piece of additional information at hand, such as a physical token. The login and password will not provide access without the token. The token is dynamic, always changing.

6)    Use strict password policies. Create unique passwords for each account. Never use your name in the password. Change the default password on any new equipment. Don’t write your password down and place on your desk or in a Word document on your computer.

7)    For any credit cards or checking accounts, request notification via phone for all changes. This will provide a text. It is easier than ever to hack credit cards. So, knowing all charges in real-time provides some layer of protection.

8)    Protect your company and network. Make sure all of your security software is up-to-date and that all software patches have been applied. Not doing so is a security risk.

9)    Limit social media. Don’t expose your favorite color, high school mascot, date of birth, elementary school friend, or other confidential questions that are used to qualify your identity on online systems. People take a personal quiz on Facebook and next thing you know somebody has hacked their Facebook account using their own data.

10)  Enroll in Security Aware Training for all of your employees. Contact your IT provider and inquire about options. Since initiating the training with our users, we have seen a reduced number of incidents.

The risks of working in a lumber yard are constantly changing. Many companies have a perfect safety record, are conservative in their management practices and accounting practices — and are positioned for the long haul. All good? Not so! For continued success, you must get your arms around the risks associated with data.

FOR CHRIS RADER, HURRICANES ARE PERSONAL

“Hurricane Andrew changed my life,” said Rader, founder and CEO of Rader Solutions.

Having lived through his share of Gulf of Mexico storms, Rader has experienced firsthand how a storm disrupts everything — and how getting a home or a business back up and running is almost impossible without the help of others.

That’s why, as soon as the roads opened after Hurricane Harvey, Rader loaded up his RV with all the supplies he thought his company’s clients might need and headed to Texas.

“We had more equipment than bottled water — and we had a lot of bottled water. Within 24 hours of the roads opening, we had them set up and they were taking care of customers, practically an unheard-of feat,” said Rader.

When asked how did he and his team accomplish the task, Rader said that the secret lies in being prepared.

“We prepare for these events ahead of time and have all of the equipment in stock,” he said. “We brought everything we thought they would need assuming they didn’t have anything.”

Having a network in a box and being able to access the hosted servers using wireless technology was key — as was being able to run phones over the network.

“So, instead of being unable to do business while they wait for power to be restored and their internet provider to hook up the internet line, we were able to use our expertise to build the network in a temporary utility trailer,” Rader said. “We engineered this solution years ago. It works well and our employees were excited to participate. Our clients are up and running — and have been for a while now, unlike the many other companies who will be down for a while.”

When Rader arrived in South Texas, near where the eye of Harvey hit, his client’s business was gone, but since it was a building supply company — and the whole town needed to be rebuilt, it was essential that the business get up and running as soon as possible. The problem was, there was no electricity, no water, no internet.

“It’s personal for me to go down there and help because I’ve been through what they’re going through. I understand. We wanted our customers to know that there are people, including me, behind the scenes working. We really are here to help.”

Rader and his team went to work as soon as they arrived. Not only did they provide the basics, they began to help clean up and sort through the debris to create a place to rebuild the network necessary for the business to operate.

“We are grateful we were there,” Rader said. “We’ve done the same thing before for other clients and will continue to do it for people in need.”

While the whole town was without internet services, within a day of Rader’s arrival, his client had a fully functioning network and was ready to do business.

 “They were all working. While we were setting up the equipment, they were cleaning their yard and getting their water turned back on,” he said. “It’s real emotion in those situations — people are personable and thankful.”

He says the clients were humble and grateful for the help — just like the East Coast clients who prepared for Hurricane Irma. In the aftermath of Harvey, Rader staff worked with clients along the Eastern seaboard to make sure their data was secure ahead of the unknown of the storm — and that the companies would have telecom services and continue to be able to operate.

In Texas, overall, Rader said he was inspired by the bounty of volunteers in the area and the hard work he watched them doing was inspiring.

“As we headed from Texas back to Louisiana, I couldn’t help but be proud and humbled that we were able to work alongside so many others to help these people,” he said. “Because so many people cared and showed up, they’re going to get their homes and lives back together.”

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: SARAH GREEN

Sarah Green has been with Rader for two years. The 25-year-old Alexandria, Louisiana native says her favorite part of the job has been the opportunity to learn something new every day and the chance to talk to people all over the country. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northwestern Louisiana University and is currently working on her master’s degree in Information Technology from Virginia Tech.

She is Rader’s only staff person who works remotely. When her husband’s job took her to Nacogdoches, Texas, rather than losing a valued team member, Rader offered her the opportunity to stay on with the company.

“My heart sank when she walked into my office to tell me about her husband being transferred,” says Rader President Jacob Landry. “As she’s telling me, all I’m doing is figuring out how I will ask/beg for her to work remotely. She then very timidly asks if I would consider her working from her new city. I’m pretty sure I jumped out of my chair and shouted SURE before she got the entire question out. Sarah is just so important to the team and culture and models for us all the service level Rader strives for.”

“The most challenging part of working remotely at first was not to go stir crazy,” Green said. “I have to be more focused on communicating with folks in the office. I stay glued to interoffice chat to make sure I don’t miss anything important.”

Not only is Green the only remote tech support person at Rader, she is also the only female on the front lines of tech support.

“Being the only female tech is fine. A lot of times people call and think I’m the answering service!” she said.

The biggest lesson she’s learned on the job is to be patient and always ask a lot of questions to figure out what’s going on from the other person’s point of view.

“It’s important not to get overly technical — and be patient and kind,” she said.

In her spare time, Green is a travel buff. She loves kayaking and hiking and just went hiking in Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. One of her goals is to visit all the national parks.

In December 2016, she and her husband traveled to Jamaica to get married.

“We wanted the ceremony to be all about us. The ceremony was about us and then we threw a big reception back home,” she said.

The newlywed met her husband when he taught her how to bartend while they were in college, but it took two years for him to ask her out! These days, Green enjoys reading travel blogs, especially thriftynomads.com and is mildly fascinated with people who travel to North Korea. She and her husband are planning a trip to Alaska for 2018.

She hates sweets but loves to bake. Her favorite is baking cheesecakes.

“I try not to bake them very often — maybe once every two months or so,” she said. “I like to make turtle cheesecakes. For my husband’s birthday, I made a white chocolate and strawberry one.”

RADER ANNOUNCES MAJOR INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE

What’s new with Rader Solutions?
Rader has recently deployed our newest expansion to our hosted cloud – an all-flash, hyper-converged, high speed compute cluster.

I know some of those words. Can you explain?
Rader’s cloud is the set of compute power, network connections, data storage, backup technologies, and management tools that allow us to deliver an entire solution to our customers.All-Flash means that the way we store data in these systems is using Flash, or solid-state drive (SSD), technology. This is hundreds of times faster than traditional spinning-disk based drives.Hyper-Converged means that the compute, networking, and data storage components of this system are tightly integrated together, making the system more resilient, modular, expandable and faster.

What kind of difference does this investment make for Rader customers?
Rader continues to expand our infrastructure to support the growing demands of our customers. Rather than an incremental addition of resources, we have invested in a newer, faster technology stack to support the highest-demanding workloads that we host. With this new capacity, we have been able to balance workloads so that our customers can realize better speeds across the board.

Why are investments like this important?
We at Rader are continuously watching for the best technology to bring to our customers. Our customers trust us to always be building upon what we deliver so that it is constantly improving, and we are very excited about this new capability. Before we were able to announce this, we had a long process of deciding on how to best invest in increasing our capacity. We launched a project to choose, purchase, install, configure, and test this new infrastructure. Now that this is live, we are very excited to share it.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: FROM AMERICAN IDOL TO RADER WORKAHOLIC

Known internally as the “neck of Rader” (because of the photo of the back of his head anchoring the company web page and other promotional material), Joseph Theriot says working at Rader as a computer tech has taught him how to ask the right questions.

“That’s something they don’t teach you in college and that you don’t think about when you first start up,” Theriot said. “Only experience teaches you how to ask the right probing questions to get the answers you need to diagnose the issues.”

But there’s more to Theriot than asking questions. Before his days as a techie, the Comeaux High and University of Louisiana grad was a music education major.

“I was a year and a half away from graduating and decided I didn’t want to do that,” he said. He even tried out for American Idol when he was 18 and made it past the first cut round.

“I didn't have the right look for them. Some people say they saw me on TV being interviewed, but I never saw it,” he said. 

Along with his show choir, he performed at Carnegie Hall. As a vocal major, he sang in Italian, French, German and English and once did a solo performance of the show tune, “If I were a Rich Man,” from Fiddler on the Roof.

“One day I was sitting in class in music history and realized that I had no interest. I had completely lost all passion for music. I don’t know what happened,” he said.

He was working at Blockbusters at the time and realized he was the one fixing all the technology in the store and thought, “Why not major in this?”

And just like that, he changed his major to Business Systems.

Regarding his time at Blockbuster and the lessons learned from the now-extinct former behemoth, Theriot said, “They did not adapt to survive. They were late. The digital age was coming but they continued on their same course.”

When he graduated from UL, he saw a help wanted ad on the school’s website and applied for a job with Rader. Other than a brief stint in the oilfield, which he decided was not for him, Theriot has worked with Rader since he graduated from college.

“One of the things I’ve learned is ‘how to computer.’ You get all the theory behind it in school, but unless you get an apprenticeship, there’s so much you don’t fully understand until you get into it full time,” he said.

Jacob Landry, Rader’s president, appreciates Theriot’s focus and technical insight.

“Joseph is exceptional when it comes to important projects. He is able to block out noise and see a project through to completion,” Landry said. “Once he’s on a project, he is hyper focused and communicates effectively with our partners and the rest of our team. We are grateful that he is a member of the Rader team.”

The self-described workaholic is also a fan of “Magic: The Gathering.” In fact, back in 2015, he was good enough to make it to the pro tour and compete against people from all over the world at a tournament in Washington, D.C. (ICYMI, Magic is a collectible card game, similar to Pokeman, that has evolved over the last 20 years. At these big tournaments, winners can bring in more than $100,000.) Theriot says the game is 70-80 percent skill and the rest is luck.

 “I used to be really into it when I was younger. Now I do mostly drafting. It’s a limited event. We open packs and pass packs around. I occasionally play online — that’s about all the time I have,” he said. “Now, I take Wednesday nights as my one night a week to go out and play.”

With his wife, Jessica, and one-year-old son, Nicholas, at home, Theriot limits his Magic play to once or twice a week these days.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: GOING THE EXTRA STEP

Nick Domingue, a senior tech analyst at Rader, is a fan of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get).

As Rader’s resident barbecue expert, Domingue says an open-book mindset describes him well — unless you ask him for his brisket rub recipe. He keeps both the recipe and his technique completely secret.

Domingue, 36, joined the Rader team almost five years ago and has almost 20 years of experience working in IT as a support technician. He started out on implementations team and eventually landed on the phone support, providing escalation backup for the support team.

“Any time the other techs need that extra support/knowledge, I’m there for them,” he said.

He enjoys his time with the Rader crew because of the positive environment and working with a team who has fun and gets a lot of work done.

“Before Rader, work had always been stressful,” he said. “Being here has been a breath of fresh air — to work with so many good and talented people. Everybody here brings an interesting perspective of what’s going on in the world around us. It’s nice to have those differing perspectives without it being an argument. Everyone here is pretty much genuinely good people.”

The Northside High graduate attended UL to study electrical engineering before landing his first gig in the world of technology.

He loves to cook and experiment with creating new flavors in barbecue rubs especially, working with different ingredients and techniques to infuse a strong smoky element into briskets, pork butts and cured meats in general. He loves to cook on a Big Green Egg.

“Everything I do is pretty simple. It all comes down to a rub and technique — and for now, I’m keeping those a secret!” he said.

“My sister just moved to Canada and asked me about Canadian smoked meats. I’m studying it and plan to try some soon. I like to create different charcuterie boards and try new flavors,” he said. “I take more of an experimental approach. I don’t yet see myself as a skilled chef. I have a good grasp of what tastes good.”

When he’s not working at Rader or cooking meats, Domingue calls upon another interest. He is a DJ, specializing in club music — specifically trance. He spins his 3,000+ vinyl collection to create electronic dance music with a “4/4 beat, set with a lot more synth and pads and breakdowns.” (The rest of us aren’t exactly sure what that means, but we’ll take his word for it.)

“Actually, you’ll hear trance-type songs in a lot of commercials — and not even know you’ve heard it. For example, the old-school Mitsubishi commercial featured a Trance version of Days Go By,” he said.

His DJ name is Vard (which he mentioned is easy to type with one hand — which it is!). He doesn’t DJ nearly as often as he used to.

“With the electronic dance boom in the early 2000s and late 90s, I was busy. Now, I get an occasional call from the older promoters who still know my name. I go to New Orleans and work in various club environments, where it’s an all-night, sundown to sunup type of party.”

Sam Castro, who works right beside Domingue in the Rader office, said that like the food and music he creates, Domingue always goes the extra step to assist customers.

“Nick is very accessible and very knowledgeable. He’s amiable and good at getting to a personal level with customers,” Castro said.

 

Nick’s Barbecue Sauce

3 tablespoons canola oil (or substitute with your favorite cooking oil)

1 medium onion (small diced)

2 cloves minced garlic

1 medium fresh jalapeno chopped (add another for extra spice)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 cups ketchup

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne

 

1. Heat oil at medium-high in a medium sauce pan. 

2. Add diced onion and cook at medium-high until translucent and just at the beginning of caramelization.

3. Add jalapeno and continue to cook until softened.

4. Add garlic and cook for about 30-60 seconds until fragrant.

5. Pour in red wine vinegar to deglaze pan.

6. Immediately add ketchup and stir to combine.

7. While stirring, pour in brown sugar, black pepper, cayenne.  

8. Continue stirring until all ingredients are combined.

9. Turn down heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 10 minutes.

 

The next step is optional but I like to do the following — pour sauce into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

At this point, the barbecue sauce is ready to serve. This is a basic barbecue sauce that will work great as a simple sweet heat condiment. I recommend using this as a base to start adding other flavors you may be interested in like various fruits or different peppers. Maybe add a chopped mango and orange zest to bring a more tropical flavor. Or, if you really want to bring the heat and add some habaneros or ghost peppers.

BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL

by Brandon Daigle

The study of blue light and UV on the body is not a new concern — as many papers have been written and much research done to document the damage caused by blue light. Sunlight contains red, orange, yellow, green and blue light rays along with shades of these same colors. They combine to create the “white light” or sunlight. The red end of the spectrum has longer (with less energy) wavelength. The blue end of the spectrum has shorter wavelengths, meaning more energy.

What does that mean for you?

Some evidence supports that the artificial blue light from computer/tablet/phone screens can suppress the secretion of melatonin, as your brain perceives the blue light (which is also given off by the sun), as time to wake up. Naturally occurring blue light during the day is actually good for you, as it boosts the creation of Vitamin D.

By exposing yourself to this artificial blue light before bedtime, your brain takes longer to shut off. There is less melatonin available which may prevent you from being able to fall asleep, which in turn affects your circadian rhythm. Turning off your devices two to three hours before bedtime OR wearing blue blocking glasses may aid your ability to rest comfortably. Cell repair happens when you sleep. Without sleep, your body cannot rebuild damaged cells in an affective manor.

While UV is shown to damage the front of the eye (cataracts), blue light has been shown to damage the back of the eye which can result in macular degeneration. 

What can you do?

According to Harvard Health Publications, to reduce the effect of blue light on your body and brain, you can:
• Use dimmer red light for night lights. Red is on the end of the spectrum with the longest wavelengths (less energy).
• Avoid digital screens two to three hours before bed.
• Consider blue blocking glasses to wear.
• Install software that filters the blue/green wavelength at night. F.Lux is a great program for your computer devices, where Twilight works for tablets.
• Expose yourself to bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: RESIDENT CHEF AND TECH WIZARD

Jory Camel didn’t choose his title at Rader. He wanted to be a tech wizard.

“But they wouldn’t let me,” he said with a laugh.

Instead, he settled for tech advisor.

He is known within the organization as a good natured, good cook, quick study — and the resident printer expert. Shortly after Camel joined the organization in 2014, he quickly took on the role of expert of all things printer-related beyond the rest of his tech knowhow.  

“Printers are kind of my shtick,” Camel said. “When I first started with Rader, we had several clients with lots of printer issues. I learned as much about printers as I could — and it stuck.”

Unfortunately for the rest of us, Camel says he doesn’t see the vast printer/printer compatibility issues being resolved any time soon. He jokes that “people who program printers are the ones who couldn’t program computers.”

At 30 years old, he says that his 2.5 years working with Rader and its clients have been a great learning experience for him — which is just the way he likes it. Overall, he says he believes that an ability to adapt and learn quickly are the greatest assets a help desk tech specialist can have.

“It’s not so much what you know but how fast you can learn it,” he said. “A lot of the problems I solve daily are things I didn’t know anything about in the morning. The biggest thing you have to be able to do isn’t in knowing how to fix a specific problem, but in knowing how to find where to learn how to fix that problem.”

At Rader, Camel appreciates the open and flexible workspace. “The guys here are awesome. It’s progressive, and I love it,” he said.

The Lafayette native and Acadiana High alumnus got his first taste of computers at age 8 in his grandfather’s sign shop.

“He wouldn’t let me touch the computer unless I learned everything about it — so I did,” Camel said.

Camel was Rader President Jacob Landry’s first hire after coming on board. “My primary goal after joining Rader was to build a world-class tech services team,” Landry said. “My first hire was a pizza cook named Jory. He was one of those guys I had a strong gut feeling about. He was candid, engaging and showed a genuine desire to prove himself if given a shot. He has been an absolute rock star here at Rader ever since. Thank goodness — because my next hire was a train-hopping pawn shop manager (see Jason McClurg’s employee spotlight).”

Growing up, when Camel wasn’t playing with computers, studying French or playing video games, he was Scouting.  

“I learned more in Scouts than I ever did in school. Scouting teaches you how to be an adult,” he said.

In his trek to become an Eagle Scout, Camel traveled with his Scout troop to the highest point in 18 states — and he’s grateful for every trip. He is now a Boy Scout Den Leader for Pack 371 in Lafayette. Every summer, his troop went on a 10-day high adventure trip and took one camping trip every month of the year.

“Eventually, I’m hoping to get my step-son in my old troop, Troop 162. Mr. Greg Duplechien is still the leader I had. I’m hoping to be a leader in that troop when my boys become a little older,” he said.

Another skill Scouting kindled for Camel was an interest in cooking. These days, he’s an accomplished cook and still spends a lot of time developing recipes and cooking for fun, friends and family. Anytime Rader has a need to turn on its burners and feed a crowd, Camel is in the mix, sporting an apron and serving tasty treats to one and all. He has also created his own cookbook and continues to enjoy sharing the recipes he “invents.” During the five years he worked as a cook at Deano’s, he helped create a lot of the recipes that the restaurant still serves, including the popular Italian sausage vegetable soup.

Enjoy his meatball stew recipe below:

Mawmaw’s Meatball Fricassee

1 medium onion
1 bell pepper
2 stalks celery
1 lb. ground meat
¼ cup Savoie’s roux
1-2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere’s) 

Chop veggies and set aside. Add 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning to taste to ground meat and form into 2-ounce balls — should be about 8-10 meatballs. Heat black iron pot to medium high. Add meatballs and brown, turning as necessary.

Remove meatballs and add vegetables. Cook about five minutes. Do not stir too often — you want to crisp the edges. Push veggies aside and add roux to taste — the more you add the thicker your gravy will be.

Heat roux until soft then stir in veggies. Add chicken stock and stir until smooth. Re-add your meatballs to the pot. Make sure your meatballs are covered with stock. Simmer for about an hour uncovered. Serve over rice.

NATIONAL HVAC TECHNICIAN DAY

Summer is here, and we at RADER would like to show our appreciation for some of the true heroes of summer on June 22, National HVAC Technician day.

While the temperatures are rising outside, we need our HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems to work harder than ever, especially to keep our computing equipment cool. If you’ve ever put your hand near the back of a running computer, you’ll notice that the air that blows out of the exhaust fan is quite warm.

In fact, nearly all of the power that goes into a computer is output in the form of heat. A typical desktop PC may draw nearly 150 Watts of utility power. In air conditioning terms, that’s up to nearly 500 BTUs per hour (British Thermal Units) per computer. Powerful CAD/Design workstations or gaming systems will draw much more power, and servers will use quite a bit more than all of these. Add to that the power draw and heat output of monitors, networking equipment, printers, and other necessary equipment to run an office, and we end up with quite a bit of cooling that needs to be done without even taking people and creature comfort into account. Much of this equipment needs to run at night and on weekends, so this means the HVAC systems never get a break. A failure in air conditioning can mean a failure of your entire business.

ASHRAE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and they help to define the standards and practices that our HVAC techs use, and that we at RADER also use to help define the operating parameters for our data center. We use the recommendations from ASHRAE, along with the specifications from our equipment manufacturers to determine proper temperature, humidity levels, and airflow to keep our systems running optimally.

If temperatures get too high equipment can fail, or at least have its life reduced significantly. If it gets too low, we not only waste energy, but run the risk of the percentage of humidity in the air getting too high and causing moisture damage. If the humidity levels get too low, static electricity can build up and a sudden spark can also damage equipment.

More and more companies are coming to the conclusion that running their servers in a ‘closet’ or other on-site equipment room is no longer a feasible option. Keeping these spaces cool enough while being resilient to equipment failure becomes a big burden. This often means doubling (or more) on cost to provide dual HVAC systems plus control systems to make sure that one and only one is operating at a time, and then keeping temperature and humidity proper. Add to that other factors such as off-grid (generator) redundant power, and then security requirements, means that more companies are moving to cloud or outsourced data centers to satisfy this, rather than building out their own.

We at RADER are here to discuss these options or others that can help you achieve the redundancy, resiliency, and peace of mind you need to keep your business running no matter what.

We extend our thanks to our HVAC experts who help us keep our environmental systems running perfectly. We have several units, backed up by generators, set up to cool our data center in order to be sure that even if something breaks, we keep running. Our HVAC experts are monitoring our systems and are on the way over the minute they see a problem. Thanks to the professionals who are on our team and yours to keep us up and comfortable!

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: A MATCH MADE IN LITERARY/TECHNOLOGY HEAVEN

As an English major working as a computer tech, Rader’s Chris Monju says that he’s always gone back and forth between literature and computers. His love of computers started back in 1985 when his grandfather bought all eight of his children a Tandy 1000.  

“I toyed with the idea of being a computer science major in college, but I took a couple of classes and programming is just not my thing,” Monju said.

While programming may not be his thing, he is an expert at helping others solve technical problems — and his grasp of language bodes well for connecting with those who are less technically savvy.

“So many people have problems dealing with communication and tech support — not being able to understand because the information is too technical,” he said. “I try to use my English degree to communicate with people who aren’t necessarily technical and just trying to get their jobs done.”

A native of Lafayette, his adventurous spirit has taken him to work in tech support in Oregon, Florida and England. In a match made in literary/technology heaven, Monju was offered the chance to live in a flat two blocks from Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon which allowed him to travel all over England to help set up the groundwork for a technology company.

“I was like, ‘Sign me up, sir,’” he said with a smile.

After six months in England, Monju came back home to Lafayette. About two weeks later, he was working with Rader — and that was nine years ago. He says the work offers him the opportunity to use a balance of his skills. He still uses his strong writing skills in his work in tech support.

“I try to document as much as I can. My co-workers have had some fun with how much I write in the ticket notes — I include lots of information,” he said. “I’d like to think I’m pretty clear, but not necessarily concise.”

He’s still an avid reader, including news and current events.

“I need to get back into the fiction, where things are slightly less crazy than the real world. I just read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series,” he said. “My favorite book ever? It’s brutal, but it’s so human, so amazing — it’s Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.”

He said that business books bore him to tears.

“Knowing a book is non-fiction immediately shuts off a part of my brain,” he said.

But these days he has a little less free time for reading. He and Tracy Leblanc are proud parents of a brand, new baby boy who arrived in this world on May 4, weighing 11 pounds and 4 ounces.

“We almost went with Atlas because of his weight,” Monju said. “We wanted to go with a classic name — and considered Agamemnon. Tracy thought Adonis demonstrated too much ego. I thought Apollo was cool too.”

So, what did they end up calling the not-so-little fellow? Meet Nicodemus Paul LeBlanc Monju.

“I love fatherhood,” Monju said. “Nico is amazing.”

4 WAYS TO AVOID RANSOMWARE

On Friday, England’s National Health System was attacked by hackers using ransomware. In fact, the NHS was warned by hackers in 2011 to the very vulnerability that could be used to attack the system. Even Friday morning, the hackers gave the NHS another heads-up and opportunity to prevent the attack. The hard truth is that many of the computers that were affected could have easily been protected if users had taken basic steps to make computers less vulnerable.

1.    Keep your computer operating system up to date. Updates aren’t just about functionality. They’re often about security patching. In the NHS case, hackers used a known vulnerability in the Windows operating system that Microsoft patched in March. (To be clear, the people whose computers were updated were NOT affected by the ransomware.)

2.    Keep all apps up to date.

3.    Older operating systems, like Windows XP which came out in 2001 and ceased to be supported in April 2014, remain vulnerable to attack. Windows Vista is another example of an unsupported operating system.

4.    Email spoofing/phishing poses security threats to whole operating systems, as well as external systems including bank accounts. If someone sends you an attachment or document that you aren’t expecting (even if it’s someone you know well), verify that the attachment or document is legitimate.

FROM HOPPING TRAINS TO PROVIDING TECHNICAL SUPPORT: MCCLURG'S EMPATHETIC APPROACH TO SOLVE PROBLEMS

Jason McClurg, Rader tech adviser, helps Rader customers solve problems. McClurg encourages customers to call when they have any questions — regardless of the size of the problem.

“It doesn’t matter, just call,” McClurg said. “If you’re having a usage issue, just call. We’re not trying to decide who gets service and why. We are here to serve.”

That customer-centric attitude has helped McClurg achieve success at Rader since he joined the team in December 2014. His approach to customer service and his ability to create and explain simple solutions to complex problems can be traced to an anything-but-typical background.

McClurg grew up in Oklahoma but graduated high school in Denver, Colorado. After he finished high school, he spent 1996-1998 hopping trains.

Yes, you read that correctly. As a teenager, he zigzagged across the country by jumping on trains.

“I was raised in Oklahoma,” McClurg said. “Grapes of Wrath, the concept of the Dustbowl mentality — all these things from my life romanticized hopping trains, seeing the country ‘on your own terms.’”

To clarify, by hopping, he means literally jumping aboard a moving train. If you’re curious about his route: First, he took the Lowline from Louisiana to California, then the Midline from California to Wyoming and, finally, the Highline from Washington to Illinois. All total, he traveled about 14,000 miles. He says Minneapolis was his favorite place.

“I appreciate any city on the Mississippi River. In Minneapolis, the generosity in people who are cooped up for six months was awesome,” he said. “I found them willing to share anything during those months when they could get outside.”

The whole trip took about a year.

“I learned you can’t trust everybody you meet and that there are still good people in the world,” he said. “The American Dream is alive and well.“

McClurg is now married and the father of two — a 6-year-old girl and a 17-month-old baby boy. His favorite movie is “The Jerk” with Steve Martin and “China Town” with Jack Nicholson.

McClurg’s depth of knowledge, technical skill set and life full of diverse experiences have earned the respect of his colleagues.

“He listens well and has a lot of empathy,” said John Ferguson, Rader’s Chief Information Officer. “Jason does a good job of putting himself in the customer’s position.”

IF YOU VALUE PRIVACY, AVOID SOCIAL MEDIA QUIZZES

Imagine you are walking down the street, and a complete stranger runs up to you with a clipboard and asks:

          What is your name?
          Do you like beans?
          Who are your best friends?
          What is your favorite kind of bean?
          What is your favorite color?
          Do you like George Wendt?
          Where do you work?
          What is the mean airspeed of an unladen swallow?

Other than a few answering, “African or European?” to the last question, most people would not respond at all to such unexpected, weird, and personal questions, especially when asked by a stranger.  They also probably wouldn’t bring said stranger over to their friends and acquaintances to get their responses as well!

Yet millions of people do the exact same thing every day on Facebook and other social media sites, with these types of questions dressed up as friendly social quizzes.  And they then willingly share their results, however they’re dressed up (“You’re a Hufflepuff!” “Your past life was a Norse blacksmith in the 8th century!” “You and George Wendt would totally enjoy the same type of beans!”) with all of their friends, acquaintances, and random connections on social sites, oftentimes with the express warning that doing so will give the quiz app access to their profile, work history, contact lists, and other personal information.

Welcome to modern day data collection, which has moved from cold, calculating, impersonal, inquiring models to more warm, calculating, personal, and voluntary methods.  Those quizzes that claim some insight into your personality or the actual color of your aura are a goldmine for data-research firms, and they have been exploiting the popularity of social media for their own benefit.  A British firm has used personality quizzes to build data-rich profiles of millions of users for political purposes; other websites are primed to sell any data they gather to marketers the world over.

It may seem far-fetched to think that simple quizzes can be so insidious, but their popularity and quantity-over-quality approach allow marketers and others to gather lots of tiny pieces of data from disparate sources and aggregate them.  This overall data picture can then be sold to anyone interested in acquiring extremely specific targets for any manner of advertisements or commercial messaging.  Privacy advocates have been issuing warnings about this for years but that hasn’t stemmed the tide of quizzes or participants.

Some people may not be overly concerned about this; after all, advertising has existed for a long time, and trading some personal privacy for access to social networks and apps is practically a fact of life.  But consider this: the next time you are browsing Facebook and an ad pops up for a product that immediately appeals to you, it may very well be that an algorithm on a server halfway around the world knew you, specifically, would be predisposed to that ad because of your Hogwarts house or favorite type of bean.  If you care about your privacy, think twice about filling out those Facebook quizzes.

DOMAIN SLAMMING

by Jason Sikora

The beginning of the year is the perfect time for scammers to take advantage of the backbone of your company’s data flow that you might not understand — your domain and DNS. DNS stands for Domain Name System, and is basically an address book for your domain, telling the rest of the internet where your website is hosted and where your email needs to get delivered, for example.

Failing to address these basic concerns has serious consequences. If your domain isn’t renewed or your DNS isn’t configured properly, your website won’t be reachable and you and your staff won’t be able to receive email. Your hosted servers may fail to be reached and your network may fail to route data traffic.

Scammers know this, and know that you probably don’t understand how your domain relates to your data flow creating the perfect scenario for fake domain or DNS renewal forms in the mail.

Scam emails are nothing new. Rarely, however, does scam mail appear in our physical mailbox. So for many who receive this mail, they assume that it is something that needs to be paid.  Chances are, it is not.

But how do you determine if a DNS renewal is a legitimate invoice? First step, read the wording very carefully. Many times it will say something like “This is not a bill” in small print or in the middle of a paragraph. Secondly, call your IT company. There are many online tools to find out where your domain is registered and where the DNS is being hosted, and your IT company is familiar with these tools.

FIVE STEPS TO PREVENT CARPAL TUNNEL

by Sarah Green

Can working at a computer for several hours a day each week cause carpal tunnel? The answer is, maybe.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is described as discomfort or pain in the hand or wrist as a result of pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The pressure is built when we repetitively bend and extend our wrists. This injury is not caused by computer usage alone, but as so many of us work in environments that require high computer usage, being mindful of this injury and taking steps to prevent personal harm is important. Ergonomics research indicates that computer users often develop poor wrist posture, which likely contributes to wrist strain or carpal tunnel.

So, what can you do?

1. Keep your form in mind. The ideal keyboard posture is met when the keyboard is placed below elbow height and the keyboard itself is tilted slightly downward in the direction opposite of you. This creates a neutral posture that minimizes static and dynamic muscle loads. To achieve this, you could attach an adjustable keyboard tray to your desk or adjust your chair height.

2. When typing, avoid using too much pressure on the keys. Instead, try to type lightly, using as little force as necessary.

3. When typing, keep your wrists elevated above the keyboard rather than resting them on your desk.

4. Proper mousing form is the same as keyboarding. Your mouse should sit below elbow height and at a slight downward tilt. The shape and design of your mouse is also more important than you might think. The mouse should fit comfortably in your hand, but the shape should be as flat as possible and symmetrical. This will reduce the chances for wrist extension. When mousing, again consider the amount of pressure you use. Instead of gripping the mouse tightly, gently move it across your desk. When you move the mouse, avoid using your wrists. Keep your wrist straight and use controlled movements from your elbow.

5. Lastly, keyboards and mice aren't the only tech devices that can cause pain in our hands and wrists. Many of us experience “text claw.” Though this isn't an official medical diagnosis, text claw is the pain that comes from texting, surfing the web, and everything else that we do on our smartphones.

To prevent any form of wrist injury, remember to give your hands and wrists frequent breaks, perform wrist stretches — and practice good posture when using your devices.

HAVE YOU TRIED TURNING IT OFF AND TURNING IT BACK ON?

by Sam Castro

Anyone who has ever called tech support with a technology issue knows the first question asked is almost always: “Have you tried turning it off and then turning it back on?”

Unplugging and plugging in and rebooting are sometimes referred to as power cycling in the technical field. This is a common troubleshooting step when performance starts to decline in most electronics from PCs to smart phones to wireless access points. Basically, power cycling alleviates performance issues in electronics because of the way these devices allocate resources to processes.

Processes are the individual applications that run and make the device useful. Email and browsing applications on a PC are examples of processes. Processes may run in the foreground and be fully interactive for the user — or run in the background executing tasks that are never seen. All processes use the host device’s memory and CPU resources. Over time, the device gives more and more resources to the processes. Ideally, the process returns the resources to the host when its tasks are completed. However, sometimes the process holds on to the memory — which is called a memory leak when it happens in error.

The memory-leak scenario causes the host to have less memory for its other processes — and slow performance is experienced as a result. The act of power cycling causes the device to release all memory and go back to its starting point. The resources are fresh and ready for assignment to the processes. Even closing and re-opening an individual program can have a similar effect on performance. The program starts up fresh without being slowed down by all of its previous tasks — which explains why tech support often asks users when was the last time the device rebooted.

Power cycling the device is a jumping off point to further potential troubleshooting. Imagine that a specific error message is encountered. If this error can be reproduced by the same actions, even after power cycling, or restarting the application, then that error may actually be a bug in the software — and more investigation is necessary.

Restarting the program or device is the first step to rule out this common issue — and solves many issues for users before moving on to more complex troubleshooting.

COULD DELTA'S NIGHTMARE HAVE BEEN AVOIDED?

Industry experts say that Delta’s Aug. 8 technology debacle that grounded all of Delta’s flights and stranded thousands of passengers is a wake-up call for the airline industry. Southwest Airlines said the July 20 computer failure that canceled more than 2,300 flights is costing the company “tens of millions” of dollars. The two incidents prompt the question: Has the time come for airlines to upgrade outdated information systems and networks?

However, for thinking executives, questions about the security and redundancies necessary to keep networks and technology operations safe shouldn’t remain theoretical and only within the airline industry. The real question is more personal: Is your company operating within an acceptable risk level?

“Companies, from large organizations like Delta to smaller ones, are realizing that as they become more reliant on technology, their IT strategy and budget must also continue to evolve to align with appropriate risk tolerance,” said Jacob Landry, president of Rader, an IT company based in Louisiana. “Some companies are operating at levels that are simply too risky. For Delta, this perfect storm of failures will likely create new and more thorough emphasis on redundancies and preventative measures in the future, but at what cost? The question to ask is: how much will downtime cost you?”

Some companies are turning to Cloud computing to offload the burden of operating fully redundant data centers.

Tim Fournet, Rader’s chief technology officer, said that the concept of moving computing infrastructure to the public cloud is still so new that most companies just aren’t ready.

“Applications may need to be rewritten, business processes need to change, and costs for outsourcing something you’ve already built are hard to justify,” Fournet said. “But to avoid potential outages and loss of businesses, some hard choices may need to be made.”

Rader helps companies make informed decisions on their technology and business continuity needs. A good place to start is a risk analysis. Rader's experience with risk analysis helps clients determine where they stand and how to get where they need to be.

If you’re interested in learning more about security audits or how Rader can help with your organizational technology needs — whether it be eliminating downtime, increasing security or protecting information storage, call us at 337-205-4652.

For an interesting look at what went wrong for Delta, check out this story from NPR:

http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/08/09/489355923/why-the-airline-industry-could-keep-suffering-system-failures-like-deltas

HOME BANCORP APPOINTS RADER TO BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The Rader Team is pleased to announce that Chris P. Rader, our company CEO and founder, was named on May 23 to the Board of Directors to Home Bancorp, Inc. (Nasdaq: HBCP). Home Bancorp is the parent company for Home Bank, N.A. (www.home24bank.com). Along with Rader, Kathy J. Bobbs and Donald W. Washington, both of Lafayette, were also named as new Board members.

“We are thrilled to have three exceptional leaders join our Board of Directors,” stated Michael P. Maraist, Chairman of the Board. “Each brings to us a unique set of experiences and knowledge to help us continue and broaden our success.”

“Kathy, Chris and Don have earned their impeccable reputations by leading successful businesses and high-performing teams,” added John Bordelon, President and CEO of Home Bank. “They join a Board that is fully committed to serving our customers and employees exceptionally well, and to producing superior results for our shareholders.”

About Home Bank

Home Bank, founded in 1908 as Home Building & Loan, is the oldest financial institution headquartered in Lafayette Parish. With 30 locations across South Louisiana and Western Mississippi, Home Bank is committed to serving the needs of its communities. Personal banking has always been Home Bank’s trademark and that tradition continues as we grow, invest and serve our clients and community. For more information about Home Bank, visit www.home24bank.com.