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The TSA "Choice" Awards for 2015

TSAChoice just recently celebrated excellence among employees at our 2015 TSA “Choice” award banquet. We take this opportunity to fellowship and celebrate team and individual success from the year.
The TSA "Choice" Awards for 2015

Donna Buckner Teammate of the Year

Our work family has so much to be thankful for 2015.  We have been fortunate that our loyal customers continue to stand by us, as well as gaining some great new customers. Our tech team continued to enhance their knowledge by researching the next new thing, implementing new technologies in our office before we take them to our customers, and work hard to stay on top of  training and certification requirements.  Our sales department has worked hard to provide viable solutions that make sense to our customers and as always, the administration and customer service divisions provided great support not only to customers but also to our internal staff.  Working together as a team has allowed us to grow in the communities we serve, to help create great solutions for customers and continue to add on to our employee count and grow the company.


We have enjoyed some great events together including BeNext, Tech After Five, a few cornhole tournaments, some milestone birthdays, work anniversarys and even a chili cookoff.   All in all, 2015 was a great year.


While we see all the employees at TSAChoice as winners, we did want to take a moment to share with you who went home with the trophies. These employees were chosen by our management team based on talent, positive attitudes and team work.

  1. Rookie of the Year- Shawn Pyfrom


  2. IT Tech of the Year- Adam Laughter


  3. Voice Tech of the Year- Keith Banks


  4. Low Voltage Tech of the Year- Randy King


  5. Project Manager of the Year- Jason Roberts

  6. Customer Service Person of the Year-
  7. Donna Buckner


  8. Administration Person of the Year-
  9. Steve Clark


  10. Salesperson of the Year- Shane Davis

The most special award of the evening is our Teammate of the Year award.  This award is determined based on an employee vote in which everyone in the company participates.  

  1. Teammate of the Year was presented to Donna Buckner

Donna’s knowledge in the technology realm is outstanding, she smiles in the face of adversity and she handles things in a calm and caring manner.  Her efficiency is top drawer, only rivaled by her dedication to help this company succeed.

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Best Practices: Microsoft Windows 10

Microsoft recently made adjustments to the Windows 10 platform, changing the software update status to recommended.

This may leave you thinking, "so what, doesn't sound like a big deal to me," and in all honesty, you might be right, it may not be a big deal to you.

Basically this means Microsoft will attempt to automatically upgrade Windows 7 or Windows 8 software to Windows 10.

For many people this may just be a new look, some new features, and learning how to do a few tasks differently.  For others, that may be running software applications on their PC's or via servers that have yet to be tested with Windows 10, this update may cause a bit of a headache.  These software applications that have yet to be updated to operate with Windows 10 could operate fine, just have some functionality issues or may not operate at all.

Better to be Safe than Sorry

If you have concerns about the compatibility of Windows 10 with other important software you may be using, this is our recommended approach:

  1. 1) Adjust your Windows settings to prevent the update from taking place automatically. Microsoft instructions here. We recommend choosing either of the following options, "download updates but let me choose whether to install them,'' or "check for updates, but let me choose whether to download and install them.''
  1. 2) Review the software you actively use, confirm that it is Windows 10 compatible.
  1. 3) Complete the upgrade at your leisure once any obstacles have been addressed. Be aware that the Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade can take up to 90 minutes.

To request assistance with Windows 10 Upgrades,

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Meet the TSAChoice Team: Sam McAllister

Sam McAllister is a voice technician working out of our Greenville, SC location. He is certified on our Mitel voice products but many VoIP systems have him crossing over to work on products such as Microsoft and Dell SonicWalls. Sam is Network+ certified meaning that he can also build, manage and make a plan to protect data networks.
Meet the TSAChoice Team: Sam McAllister

Sam McAllister

Sam attended Bob Jones University, graduating with a BA in Bible and MA in Pastoral studies.  His passion for Christ comes through in his reserved calm and methodical manner in which he works through technical challenges he sometimes faces.

One of the most unusual challenges he has faced was an acoustic issue.  "I once received a call from a customer who told me that when he would dial an attorney's office his phone would call a pizza place.  Despite dialing numbers correctly, his phone would call seemingly random numbers.  After careful investigation, I found he was dialing with his speaker phone on and the large room he was in was distorting the tones for each key he pressed.  Once he made his calls using his handset, rather than the speakerphone, everything worked correctly." -Sam

On weekends and downtime you can find him at Cornerstone Baptist Church where he serves as an interim pastor, spending time with his wife and three children, reading, or doing graphic design work.  He enjoys the long days of summer, watching a sunset from a mountain top and enjoying locally roasted coffee.

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What's New: Mitel MiVoice Office 250 Rls. 6.1 Highlights

The Mitel MiVoice Office 250 releases 6.1 software version. This system has undergone some runway changes, compliments of the marketing department, in addition to her new branding, several Session Intiation Protocol (SIP) enhancements are included in this release.

Mitel's marketing division rebranded the MiVoice Office to MiVoice Office 250, which should cause less confusion between the MiVoice Office (small and medium business) and MiVoice Business (enterprise/hospitality) systems.  The 250 reflects the total combined number of IP devices, trunks, digital and analog devices a stand alone system will support.  Don't let the 250 number fool you, this system provides the ability to network up to 99 MiVoice Office 250's, allowing for plenty of growth.

This system also includes multiple enterprise features in the base package, that can be expensive to add-on in the enterprise world.

A few of the features include:

Dynamic Extension Express that allows a user to setup their mobile phone as an extension off the phone system, allowing for calls accepted on the cellular device to transfer, hold and conference as they would from their desk phone.

A "Meet Me Conference" can be scheduled ahead of time, and users can call into the conference phone number or extension at the designated time.

Hot Desking, a feature that allows a telephone to be shared by mulitiple users, such as shift workers. When a user needs to sit down to work, they login to the phone of choice and all of the programming and voicemail associated with that user is displayed at that handset.

UVM Email Synchronization provides voicemail to email feature synchronization, with an approved email platform such as Exchange or Google.

New SIP Enhancements

In addition to the new name, SIP enhancements seem to be the shining star in this software upgrade.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) SIP Device Support- This improvement provides the Mitel Phone Manager softphone client the ability to be setup as an ACD agent and answer incoming calls as part of an ACD hunt group. This feature is the perfect solution for customers looking for a softphone client for their agents either in the office or working from a remote location.

SIP Device Security- As the need to protect the network at a higher level increases, so does the effort put into increasing the knowledge of end users of the importance of the password.  End users can be one of your best defenses or biggest enemies (read more about reducing security breaches by increasing human awareness). As SIP devices are becoming more popular on the network, Mitel saw a need to provide stronger password format in this newest release.

Multimedia Integration- Release 6.1 is the beginning of a new initiative to integrate voice with video in the MiVoice Office 250.  As this technology continues to become more affordable, it is being pushed down to the Small Medium Business (SMB) sector.  The first step has been to support the MiVoice Video Phone.  Mitel's intention isn't to provide the video in this scenario, but to provide the integration of the voice for existing innovative video solutions. This is just the first step with enhancements expected to continue due to the H.264 High Profile (HP) codec.  The H.264 HP has an algorithm that provides better image quality while utilizing lower bandwidth.  This is opening up new opportunities for video solution providers for new or enhanced products and for the SMB market to provide video solutions that will be more cost effective.

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Best Practices: Patches and Updates

Keeping your software updated and patched is critical to the safety of your PCs and Network.

Are you a risk taker? Do you like living on the edge? Then don't install software updates and patches and you might be met with more excitement and challenges than you can handle. Otherwise, if you are concerned with your data being compromised, be sure to err on the side of caution and take care of the updates and patches required for software.

The Bad News

An intrusion to your network can be devastating, especially if you don't have a disaster recovery plan in place.

These breaches can then lead to unexpected financial burdens due to locating information accessed on the network, repairing your network, loss of revenue due to downtime and even loss of revenue because of a damaged business reputation.

The Good News

The United States Computer Energy Readiness Team (US-CERT) has published that "85% of targeted attacks are preventable."

How can you help prevent these attacks?  Simply install updates and patches as soon as they are released.

Yes, this may be easier said than done, you may be overwhelmed with the amount of software programs to manage, the time required due to scheduling updates and down time to reset systems after updates take place.

Managing Updates on a Windows Network

So, let us suggest a few ways to make this process manageable on your Windows Network.

  1. Use a managed services program such as our TSAChoice Complete IT (CIT) plan. As part of this plan, we will automate and manage mission critical updates of Windows software patching for workstations and servers, then provide comprehensive reporting of the activity on your account each month.
  1. Purchase software that allows a review of your systems with suggestions for programs that require patches or updates.
  1. At a bare minimum, setup your Windows PC's and Servers to complete automated updates. Also confirm updates and patches are being applied to Open SSL, Adobe software and Java as they are listed on the "Top 30 Targeted High Risk Vulnerability" with US-CERT.

Mobile Devices

As mobile devices tend to be the new "hot" target of cyber criminals, it is critical that updates on the applications and the device itself are completed.

Updates on Servers, PC's, MACs, and mobile devices, can sometimes trigger a glitch, resulting in an unusable program. Just be aware that this may happen, and realize that an alternative may be necessary at least until a patch for the glitch is released.

Other proactive steps you can take to protect your data network include increasing human awareness, and even small to medium businesses should be following this four prong approach to front line protection.

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Creating Efficiency with 802.11ac

Recently, TSAChoice needed to update our wireless infrastructure. Our old access points were Aruba 802.11n units that were beyond end of life, as they had originally been installed when we first moved into our current location in 2007.
Creating Efficiency with 802.11ac

802.11ac

At that time, the solution fit our needs perfectly.  Over the last couple of years, as technology evolved and developed, we found that we needed to make a change.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in January 2014 released the 802.11ac standards; it was perfect timing, considering our company was planning on changing out this technology soon. Many laptop and mobile device manufacturers had already began incorporating the 802.11ac functionality in their devices since as early as 2012 to be prepared for the release of these standards.

Our challenges included:

  1. • Bandwidth issues as a result of multiple mobile devices per user
  1. • Technology advancements with our mobile devices (in particular, supporting video applications) was exceeding the features and functionality that our older access points could support
  1. •Control and access for our guests and applications required during their visits


Armed with our customized wireless testing apparatus that Bob Romano created, we proceeded to complete our wireless survey to determine the best locations for access points.

We chose to install Aruba IAP-225 access points to provide 802.11ac (also known as 5G WiFi) coverage throughout our building. These access points provided immediate and noticeable benefits including blanket coverage throughout our facility as well as outside areas that required coverage while also doubling our channel bandwidth.

802.11ac standards include improvements such as increases in bandwidth speeds and beamforming technology.  Skipping all the technical jargon, bottom line, speeds of 3x's faster of the previous 802.11n wireless infrastructure should be expected and the new beamforming technology allows the ability to focus signal strength toward active user locations. If you would like to read the Aruba tech version of 802.11ac features and functionality, click here.

Why should you consider introducing wireless into your infrastructure?

Click here to request a wireless survey

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Meet the TSAChoice Team: Ben Bruce

TSAChoice was fortunate to gain employee Ben Bruce when Mitel changed their support structure in 2011.
Meet the TSAChoice Team: Ben Bruce

Ben Bruce, Technical Service Manager for SC

Ben started out in our voice division supporting our telephone customers and Mitel Direct customers located primarily in the Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson, SC areas.

Ben originally hails from Miami, but has lived in many different states including Michigan, Kentucky, and North Carolina; much of this due to being raised in a military family.  A few years ago, he finally decided to settle down in South Carolina.

Since he began working at TSAChoice, Ben has succeeded in becoming our most certified engineer acquiring certifications from Mitel, Cisco, Microsoft and CompTIA.  He has recently been promoted to the Technical Services Manager for our Greenville, South Carolina office.  Ben is a relentless worker, making for the perfect problem-and-solution guy.  He finds overcoming tough challenges with which he is presented exhilarating.

This need to face challenges head-on falls right in line with his adventurous, big game hunter side.  A look at his bucket list reveals items such as Kodiak bear hunting in Alaska, hunting the big 5 in Africa, Caribbean spear fishing while living on a sailboat, and a walkabout in Australia ending with a little spear fishing on the Great Barrier Reef.

He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys scuba diving, kayaking, swimming and hunting.  He and his wife are very active in the community in which they live; Ben assists his wife Amanda with Bruce Unlimited Designs doing face painting for parties (part of the proceeds go to support Miracle Hill Ministries). Bruce and Amanda are also in the process of launching an outreach to the homeless in the Greenville area.

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Best Practices: Backing up your Mitel Phone System

One of the most vital precautions required to ensure data integrity is to generate backups of your information.

Relying on an automated process and forgetting about it is tempting, but if a system crashes and you try to restore from a non-existent file that was supposed to be there, you will wish you had taken the time to verify those backup procedures.

A dangerous mistake is backing data up in only one location.  Over the years I've had many a work laptop crash that contained system backup information, and so have developed the habit of backing up my backups to a shared network drive, which is then backed up to the cloud.  In other words, backup your files in as many places possible to ensure that you are able to get a hold of them when you need them; from my experience, some files become corrupt or damaged and require hours (or even days) of programming to fix.  Just back back back it up!

As a rule, every time you make a change to any system, including your phone system, you need to get a current backup.  That backup file needs to be copied offsite, either to a network storage device of some sort, or to the cloud. This simple precaution can save hours of downtime, headaches, and hundreds to thousands of dollars in labor and lost business associated with re-building a system.

So how does one backup a phone system? I'm glad you asked! The following is a brief description of how to backup the Mitel MiVoice Office, Mitel 5000, Mitel MiVoice Business, Mitel Communications Directory (MCD) and the Mitel 3300 systems.

Directions to backup the MiVoice Office and 5000

  1. 1. Launch the System Administrator & Diagnostics Tool.

  2. 2. Click the telephone button, or select the drop down and choose Launch DB Programming.

  3. 3. From the Operations Menu (located at the top of the screen), select Backup Operations and then Save Backup.

  4. 4. You will want to select Save Database to a PC, choose your save to location, assign a file name (example 0115.m5k) and click the start button.
    5. Once your file is saved to your PC (remember the discussion we had above about multiple backups) copy that file off to a remote location (the cloud, NAS, etc.).

  5. 6. You're done!


Directions to backup MiVoice Business, MCD and Mitel 3300

  1. 1. Open Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox and browse to the address of your phone system.

  2. 2. Log into the Embedded System Management (ESM) interface, and select System Administration Tool.
    3. Select the drop down menu on the left side and choose Maintenance and Diagnostics, then Backup/Restore, then choose Backup.
    For this save you can choose whether or not to backup your call history and voicemail messages, I recommend not backing these up (as they add time to the process), and by the time a restore is required, the data will most likely be irrelevant.
  1. 4. A ".tar" file will be auto generated.
    5. After the backup is complete the file can be saved to a specific directory.

Again, once your file is saved to your PC (remember the discussion we had above about multiple backups) copy that file off to a remote location (the cloud, NAS, etc.).

Click here for more information about our data recovery services.

That's it, nothing to it! This is just some simple maintenance that could save you time and money in the long run.  If you need assistance with either of the processes listed above, feel free to reach out to our and we will be happy to assist.

Read more about creating a continuity plan for your business.

Benjamin Bruce, Technical Services Manager, South Carolina Region

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Meet the TSAChoice Team: Jennifer Silvers, Contract Administrator

Jennifer has been with TSAChoice since January 2010 and has worked in both our Greenville and Asheville offices.

Jennifer is the contract administrator for TSAChoice.  Her position consist of maintaining all of the technology service and support contracts including Complete IT (CIT) contracts, Comprehensive Service Agreements (CSA) for Mitel phone systems, Technology Assurance Program (TAP) contracts and Block Amount Agreements.  She also sets up new customers and contact information, makes the dreaded collection calls and doesn't even mind cleaning out the ice maker in the refrigerator when it freezes over.

Jennifer is a very organized person, expecting nothing less than perfection with whichever jobs she is charged. If a task is in Jennifer's capable hands, her co-workers know they can let it go and move on to their next assignment. 

Jennifer grew up in the Williamson area of South Carolina, graduating from Palmetto High and moving on to get her degree in Radio and TV Broadcasting from Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, SC.  She moved straight into the radio business working nights for WSSL in Greenville, with her personality tagline, "Let Jennifer put you to bed."

Orange seems to be her preferred color of choice, with some purple mixed in and a tiger strip here and there.  Her work area definitely defines where her allegiance lies: it's complete with a Clemson keyboard, a Clemson gnome, orange sticky notes and even an orange paper corrector.  If you want to get on her bad side, just let a derogative comment slip about the Clemson Tigers football team.

In her time off, she cares for her mother, spends time with daughters and grandchildren and lives with a couple of finicky cats.  She has been known to break out in song at the closest Karaoke bar, she enjoys grabbing a bite at the Whistle Stop at the American Cafe in Travelers Rest and she can't resist a good biscuit with gravy from Biscuit Head in West Asheville.

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Best Practices: Involve a BICSI RCDD When Implementing a Cabling Project

A Registered Communication Distribution Designer (RCDD) is a person that plans and implements backbone infrastructure to support wireless, telecommunications, data, audio visual networks and life safety systems.

To understand the importance of having an RCDD involved in infrastructure projects, you must first understand what the Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI) organization is about. BICSI is a professional association that supports the Information Transport System (ITS) industry.  BICSI works with companies like TSAChoice to certify installers and designers specializing in complex cabling projects.

RCDD is a designation that is awarded to individuals that have a minimum of 2-4 years experience working with infrastructure solutions and 2) has proven their knowledge by completing an extensive exam based around topics such as:

  • • Principles of transmission
  • • Backbone and horizontal distribution  systems
  • • Firestop systems
  • • Bonding and grounding
  • • Field testing of structured cable and optical fiber
  • • Outside plant cable
  • • Data and wireless networks
  • • Data centers
  • • Audio visual systems

Due  to the constantly evolving tech industry, this designation is renewed every 3 years with 45 hours of continuing education and attendance at a minimum of one BICSI conference.

An RCDD is an integral part of the designer phase of a project, working from the beginning with architects, engineers and general contractors to provide a proper design and a plan that can be functional, flexible and scalable.

Working with any type of cable or optical fiber, there are codes and standards that BICSI has outlined that should be followed to avoid future issues and complications.  If the standards are not met and appropriate testing not followed, the cable infrastructure could experience electrical interference, inadequate data transmission performance, there could be life safety issues, issues with meeting code and even aesthetic challenges. These problems could lead to additional costs including lost time on projects, trouble shooting, and unplanned maintenance costs. 

The RCDD credential is meant to provide companies like TSAChoice a professional designation of excellence, a status recognized and mandated by many private and state organizations, a mark of design knowledge and an indication of experience, training and knowledge known throughout the information and communication technology industry.

TSAChoice has consistently kept one or more RCDDs on staff, as well as multiple BICSI certified installers and technicians to ensure the organizations we work with are receiving the best options for cabling projects to provide long lasting performance.

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Tech Talk
The TSA "Choice" Awards for 2015 The TSA "Choice" Awards for 2015 TSAChoice just recently celebrated excellence among employees at our 2015 TSA “Choice” award banquet. We take this opportunity to fellowship and celebrate team and individual success from the year. Read more… 2016-04-01
Best Practices: Microsoft Windows 10 Best Practices: Microsoft Windows 10 Microsoft recently made adjustments to the Windows 10 platform, changing the software update status to recommended. Read more… 2016-03-22
Meet the TSAChoice Team: Sam McAllister Meet the TSAChoice Team: Sam McAllister Sam McAllister is a voice technician working out of our Greenville, SC location. He is certified on our Mitel voice products but many VoIP systems have him crossing over to work on products such as Microsoft and Dell SonicWalls. Sam is Network+ certified meaning that he can also build, manage and make a plan to protect data networks. Read more… 2016-02-24
What's New: Mitel MiVoice Office 250 Rls. 6.1 Highlights What's New: Mitel MiVoice Office 250 Rls. 6.1 Highlights The Mitel MiVoice Office 250 releases 6.1 software version. This system has undergone some runway changes, compliments of the marketing department, in addition to her new branding, several Session Intiation Protocol (SIP) enhancements are included in this release. Read more… 2015-12-15
Best Practices: Patches and Updates Best Practices: Patches and Updates Keeping your software updated and patched is critical to the safety of your PCs and Network. Read more… 2015-10-26
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