When it comes to technology, whether it is in our home or for our business, we have come a long way. Between home automation, data security, the latest gadgets working with our old – we need to keep up or hire someone else who does, that is where our guest comes in to help. Tom Bull from Two River Computer has been an essential part of maintaining and upgrading LG’s computing power and also protecting data for the company, not to mention helping Aaron with his home set up. This is an informative and entertaining episode you do not want to miss!
Full transcript below:
This is Aaron Levine, LG Insurance with a different episode of the Ann Insurance Podcast. Tom walked in and said he’s in the mood and he is gonna tell us a story about that in a little bit. But Tom Bull, two River computer, I don’t even know where to start. Right? Some people are complaining, Oh, my Facebook was hacked. And yes, you get those phone calls, but you do a lot of really cool stuff when it comes to businesses, homes, home automation and I don’t even know what else you have going on, but just regular people, right? You help individuals with your computers. That’s where the business started 15 years ago. When did you start?
Yeah, 16. 16 years ago. Like back when we first met it was kind of all about computers, right? That’s, that’s all it was. There wasn’t all this ancillary stuff going on, or at least not a ton of it, right? And one of the challenges when you’re in the technology business is keeping up with it. And so you can keep up, you know, pick a segment and keep up with that and be an expert and have a niche in that area, which a lot of people who do what I do, choose to run their business that way, right? But I was kind of following what people wanted. And selfishly or greedily, I would do whatever they were willing to pay me to do. Right? <laugh>. So, so I started learning a bunch of stuff that I wasn’t planning on. Okay. And, you know, that’s part of the technology business staying on top of what’s out there and kind of being nimble enough to, to bob and weave and, and give people what they want but also give ’em what they need,
Right? So when we talk about individuals, like people would bring their computers to your office in Fair Haven, put ’em in the dumb waiter that’s in the building, which is kind of cool. Send it up to the second floor and you would fix it. Add more ram, you know, fix the sticky keys or the keyboard, whatever the heck you’re doing with, you know, with, with all those computers. But at the same time, you have been helping me for many years as my managed service provider with all of our internet security VPN backups. And I don’t even know what the heck I’ve, I’ve got going on when it comes to the services you, you provide us. So let’s dive into the business side of it cuz nobody really cares about the individual computer. Let’s talk about the business side of it, and then we’re gonna get into the home entertainment stuff, which is even cooler stuff to talk about, but we’re just gonna let that hang out and, and make people listen.
So I’m scared shitless of everything going on and having 13 employees actually around the world sounds better than it is. But I have three virtual employees that are in the Philippines, right? So I have data being sent all over the world at all times. And one, we wanna make sure that it’s secure. We don’t wanna lose client information, we don’t want to be hacked. We don’t want to have a breach. You know, we don’t wanna have any money stolen either, and we wanna make sure that we have our data backed up at the same time. Right? So give us a scope of some of the services and the why businesses need to do these things to protect themselves.
Yeah. That’s if you go back to when we start introducing computers into businesses, and it was all about replacing the typewriter first and then, you know, then it became about data and, and sharing data mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and then protecting data and it, it just kind of evolved. And so what I feel that all businesses need regardless of size, although we, we kind of tend to target the two to 10 user mm-hmm. <Affirmative> market, which are largely neglected by people who do what we do. So we kind of focus on the boutiquey folks. And the idea is that we’re better at computers than you are <laugh> and, and you’re better at insurance than we are. Right? Right. So do what you do best than allow you to focus. And it should become a tool and not, not a hindrance. You know, almost like the old days with the phone, you pick it up, it’s a dial tone, you push some numbers and you’re speaking to somebody. Right. It should be that simple. But it’s gotten a lot more complicated with things like encryption to make sure that when you’re transferring data from here to the Philippines, that no one can intercept it. That’s the point of a vpn. Making sure your stuff is safe and secure, even though you’re up in the cloud your stuff is not backed up. People think that it is. Right? I’m on one drive, I’m on Google Drive, I’m on Dropbox. Your, your stuff is there, but it’s not backed up. Well,
That’s the exact conversation we had two years ago about backups for my business and I guess my personal stuff, my Google photos is everything. Sure. Right? That’s my kids growing up. Sure. Without that, there’s no more shoeboxes full of people used to worry about a fire and the shoebox of photos getting burned and being sad about it. Right. We don’t have the shoebox anymore, so we don’t care about the fire, what we do in other senses, but it’s the, the fire, the, the internet fire that happens. Something happens and somebody, you know, intercepts your password or, you know, something happens to Google where you lose everything. I mean, that’s devastating to
Well, you know, it’s, it, these days it’s almost always human error, right? People click on the wrong email, they go to the wrong website, they do something like that. I mean, we had three cases just this week. Wow. Terrible. About people doing, you know, that just weren’t paying attention. They’re moving too fast in this business. Speed kills. Sure. If you’re, if you don’t read and, you know, before you click, you can make a big mistake and create a lot of heartache. But what you want, what people want who are storing their data in the cloud is to have a backup in case of human error, a deletion, they rename something, they move something, you can no longer find it. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, whether it’s a calendar entry, an email, or a document, you want to be able to go back more than 30 days, which is all you get with the cloud storage, Right? You wanna go back 69, you wanna go back a year, or maybe you need to archive. So there’s a backup process that needs to happen for anybody who’s working in the
Tub. Sure. Yeah. Sure. And I know we have that backup set up. It’s an offsite backup that downloads automatic. I think we need to schedule a test just to make sure it’s still
Working. <Laugh>, you know what you do, you know what you do, You delete something
<laugh>, delete a calendar entry, make a calendar entry, delete it, and then try and bring it back. Okay. That’s a, that’s a great test. <Laugh>. Yes, it does need to be tested. You’re right. And you know, the, the idea that you’re, you’re solving a couple of issues that you know, I’m gonna give you a tie into cyber insurance that, that you have offsite. Sure. So it’s not in your primary location and it’s backed up to the cloud and it’s backed up with a different account name in case you do get hacked. Right. And we don’t like to use the word hack or breach. Mm-Hmm. Because if you use those words when you’re speaking to a client or a vendor that can come back and haunt you if it ever gets to court, Right. We say incident <laugh>, we don’t say, we don’t say breach your hack. It’s an incident. And then you remediate. So you have, you have everything in place to recover from any calamity.
Right? So you brought up cyber security, you know, and cyber liability insurance, which there’s multiple facets to the insurance piece and it’s gotten harder and harder for businesses to purchase cyber coverage. The applications have gotten longer and they have questions on there that nobody knows how to answer except somebody that really knows what’s going on behind the scenes. Yeah. What the endpoint security looks like. You know, what the virus scans look like, what the backups are, and how things are truly organized. So without a professional in your corner backing you up as a business owner, you’re gonna have a hard time getting the cyber liability insurance policies to protect you from the first party and the third party claims that can exist. Whether it’s money stolen, whether it’s data that goes missing and gets into the wrong hands, and you have a liability issue where you could be sued for, you know, missing data, doctor’s offices, HIPAA violation related things. There’s a lot that can go wrong. And if you, right now, if you don’t have the security, you can’t get the insurance. It used to be you could just get the insurance, it didn’t really matter what it was. But claims have gone
Haywire because of data gone missing and money being stolen that it’s gotten a lot harder and a lot more expensive to purchase the insurance, which means you need better security on the front end to make sure you never have an issue and to go into the insurance.
Yeah. What I see is the evolution of it. Like you said, you could just say, Hi, I would like cyber insurance. And they say, Sure, let me write that for you. Then it got a little more every year at renewal time. In the beginning it was just like, please confirm these things that you promised that you were gonna do last year. Right. Confirm these things. And so you go through it and, and then it started to get a little more involved and then very specific. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> I noticed in the last couple of months with some of our clients and their renewals, I’m getting documents very specific to ransomware. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So ransomware is when a bad guy gets ahold of your data and crips it with a special key and then holds you hostage mm-hmm. <Affirmative> for the key to unlock. So we, they, I believe the insurance companies have decided that they’re not gonna pay the ransom no matter what.
To know whether it’s a 10,000 or $10 million ransom. What they want is they wanna make sure you have a backup. So if you have a backup prevention seatbelt airbag, Right. If you, if you say you’re gonna do these things, then you, you know, we’re gonna recover. Right? So, so they go right to recovery. They’re not gonna pay the money, just go to your backup and throw it back on and, and lock the guys out. And that’s the, you know, don’t pay the hostages. Right? Right. Don’t negotiate with the hostages.
Right. We don’t negotiate with terrorists. Right.
<Laugh> or with terrorists. Yes. You should negotiate with take
Care of the take care, take care of the hostages, You know, And at the same time, these insurance companies, they’re spending a lot of money on proactive work in cyber, much more than they do on any other line of insurance. There’s so many proactive tools that you get when you purchase a policy from a good company to help you make sure you’re set up. And they run all the dark web scans and they have monitoring services to help you get ahead of it should a situation arise. So there’s tools that are being offered that most business owners, again, have no fucking clue what it does or what it is, and don’t take the time to set it up. But when you have a two river computer, you know, somebody helping you, they can kind of make sure that all the pieces are put together. Right. I hire the best professionals. I don’t record on an iPhone. I don’t record these podcasts anywhere else, but in the studio at Rec productions because we wanna make sure it’s done right. It’s professional, the audio looks good, and I can go back to selling insurance products. Although I like being in front of the camera and on the microphone,
The camera, like, you
Just as much too, you know? So That’s so sweet of you. <Laugh>. So business owners, I know we’ve kind of talked in circles, there’s so much more. We could talk for an hour on this, but there’s a lot of fun stuff that Tom’s doing at Two River Computer as he’s evolved. Home automation is such a cool, a cool industry. It’s just a cool thing. Right? Like, I love the fact that I live in a nest environment right now. Everything that I do is on Google. I have all my cameras around the home are Nest based. My alarm system and other door locks I have on a different system and a different wifi network in my house. I have them separated. A fun on one and the security on the other. I hope that’s a good thing. You know, but I use two different networks for that stuff. But the lights, the locks the TVs, everything is kind of tied together and there’s so much more that you can do. Now. You guys set these things up?
We do. We, it’s, I wanted you to tell me what was the first smart home item you got?
It would’ve been just a Google Home
Or was before that. You did something before that.
That, Yeah. Cause a Google Home didn’t exist before when this came out. The first thing that everybody,
Was it the Ring
Doorbell? Well, it could have been, it could have been a Ring doorbell or a Nest thermostat, or a Nest thermostat. That was kind of the big, that was the entry. Right. Got it. So I, I gambled on Nest.
And a little disappointed at development over the years. I was expecting more. So I have Nest thermostats, I have I have Nest smoke detectors and co detectors. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I have the door lock, I have the, the camera, the doorbell camera. I have the some outdoor cameras, some indoor cameras. But there’s other things like security. Their security component is not great. Right. You know, and there’s some other things that are not great. So what I found is, like, I wanted light switches. Is there any Nest Light switches? There used to be this whole thing works with Nest that went away when Google, you know, kind of gobbled them up. So what I found is that to take best in class things like names you may or may not know from walking through Home Depot, leviton for switches, Lutron for switches, and some other names that you might know, Bekin.
And so you end up putting in these best in class things for a very specific, I wanna turn a lamp on, or I wanna turn an overhead light on. Sure. Maybe even control a fan, which is probably one of my favorite ones. I have a smart switch for the fan and Mary Beth goes to bed and the fan is like going like a million miles an hour Right. In July. And so in the middle of the night, I can ask Alexa to turn it down. That’s fantastic. I can whisper to Alexa to turn it down. Right. So what I found is that putting all these disparate pieces together, these best in class for this, that, and the other, putting it all together that the glue was either Alexa or Google Home.
So, and you can create your routines to, you know, when I leave the house, do this, when I walk in the house, do that. When I say these words, do the other, So the very first thing I did, this is super fun. So I have a Sonos. You have Sonos in the house, right? Yeah. So I have Sonos in the house, and I’ve got Nest in the house, and I’ve got Phillip’s light bulbs and Lutron switches, and I’ve got all this crazy stuff and I have Alexa. So I made this routine that a bunch of things would happen, <laugh>, when I said I was in the mood. So I’d walk into the house and say, I’m in the mood front door locks, all the lights come on to 10% or down to 10%, and all the speakers start playing Barry White <laugh>. So at first my wife was, she thought it was cute, and then she started getting angry about it. And then I made the mistake of telling some of my friends. So when they come over, they’ll go, Ooh, look at this. It’s almost like an old person going and having the light come
On. The clapper. The clapper, My gosh.
The first smart home.
There you go. Right. That was totally the first smart home device.
You think about it. So yeah, it’s fun because it’s got it’s got a wow factor that computer stuff and security and you know, and, and encryption and all that stuff that you have to have, it’s just not very sexy. Right. It’s like the pipes and wires in the wall of your brand new house. It’s sure you paid a lot of money for it, but it, it doesn’t look good or smell good or, you know, it just does its
Job. It’s like when I had, you know, my, my prior home when I had to get the French drains put in, in the crawl space plus new drainage matting and vapor barriers and $12,000 later in the crawl space just because there was a little bit of water. Yeah. You know, anti-climax
That. Yeah, exactly. Placing a roof. Not
Fun. Not fun. Don’t wanna do it. I can’t admire it and show it off to people. Right. But when you put in a new tv new sound system, surround sound system, outdoor, we do a lot of outdoor TVs and stuff and lighting and, and it has that ooh, ah, factor at the end pretty sexy. And people are just like, it’s, it’s a a little more rewarding
<Laugh>. So a lot of these things are, are diy. Right. It’s, it’s very user friendly in my opinion. But there’s a lot of little pieces that go into this Lego set. Right. It’s, it’s just a giant Lego set. It’s a giant puzzle to put together all the switches that have to be, if you wanna multiple switches to get all the switches done, the, the different Google or Alexa devices throughout the house, the Sonos, the TVs, There’s a lot of moving parts. It is to put it together. And yes, you can do it yourself, but like I do with everything else. And we said before, hiring the right people to do it for you makes life better. And they also know how to set up those automation sequences so that you can be in the mood or come home and, you know, screw with your children and make the lights, do all sorts of funny things. Sure. Or do it from not at home. We could, I could take my phone out right now and change my lights and unlock my doors if I have
A can unlock
Contractor. You can lock ’em. Oh, you could, you could just do the one thing, right?
Yeah, I can, I can unlock. You
Can’t speak that
Though. I, I don’t think I can speak it, but through. So I use alarm.com for my alarm system. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and my smoke and co and door locks go through the alarm.com environment. Good. So like, I just feel better keeping it separate. I agree. From the Nest environment you know, not that I don’t trust, simply say for the other security systems that are out there, I let a professional do the security system as well to make sure that’s all done. They’re licensed, they’re trained, windows, doors, all the contacts last breaks everything. And it’s a, you know, it’s a little discount on your insurance, but at the same time, having the ability for a central station monitoring in my home is gonna protect me later on. So
That’s a great segue into I’ll call it peace of mind things. Right? Okay. These are lifestyle things, but it’s about peace of mind. It’s a, that when, when your, your home automation devices are set up properly and, you know, you mentioned about being diy, where you can get home, you can plug it in and you’re like, Oh my God, that was so easy. It works. Right? But you forgot to do a bunch of things. You didn’t change the default password. You didn’t put it on its own wifi network to keep it separate. Like there’s some things that you, you might have missed. Sure. So, and then similarly with, you know, your business computers, if you’re having somebody else look at it, you’re backing up your data to the cloud, you’re, you’re taking some steps that in effect are technology based. Piece of mind. I call ’em good sleeping pills. Okay. If you have these things, it’s, you know, it’s your ambient for to just like, so you can go to bed knowing your, your, your house is protected, your business is protected. You know, you’ve got the right insurance. It’s all kind of one big Right. Snugly,
Know, I wanna feel good. I wanna feel protected.
Right. So it’s all peace of mind for your business, for your home. For for, for what? For whatever it is. Yeah. It’s a good way to, it’s a good way to, it’s a good way to look at it. Yeah. And it’s a good way, you know, So if you need anything for your home, your business, your security, your home automation, hanging TVs, lights, Sonos, sound, I don’t know, whatever.
It’s pretty much everything that touches the internet. I mean, you could go further on what
Systems, the pool heater, the, the shades that go up and down. I mean, there’s so much of it that ends up that, like electricians or architects, the people doing a building of certain homes can get it to a point. Right. And then they need to take it,
What do we have in life somewhere doesn’t touch the
Internet. It’s the, and that’s a big thing. Right. And
So Yeah. Connected. I have to take mine off. Right. I have to take my smart watch off cuz if it starts buzzing while I’m sitting here talking, it’s a distraction. So I put it on do not disturb and it’s on the side so I can pay attention. So like I have to, I can’t wear it while I’m
Sitting here talking. Cause you will. Right. It’s just a knee jerk reaction. Yeah. Yeah. It might be something important.
It’s just to habit. There’s definitely nothing important. Although I’ll have nine text messages from my wife right now. Why not? What
Are you doing? So, it’s so funny that, you know, you had asked me about how do you, how do do we stay up on the technology as it keeps coming out? Right? So I spend probably between an hour and two hours a day in different forums and reading things. So just consuming media, right. Watching things and you know, whatever about staying on top of it. And made a decision probably about five years ago to kind of carve out different divisions of our company where one is where a repair shop come, bring us your broken stuff. Got four people that are there handling broken stuff, either remotely over the phone if it’s a software thing or they bring us
And my office calls ’em,
They’re broken stuff, they do <laugh>, I’ve got a record. And then there’s this, I’ve got a bill. Then there’s this managed service provider where we’re watching your computers for you, making sure they’re secure, getting the updates done, getting the backups done, all of that stuff. And then there’s the entertainment trying to coin a new phrase where we’re managing the internet and entertainment. I like it. Of things in homes where some of the homes were blessed to do work in, in a pretty upscale community. And so some of the homes, I I, we recently did a project in a 12,000 square foot home. Wow. So the wifi, imagine the wifi and the construction is like crazy good. Right? Right. So really well done. Really high ceilings and older homes. So not open concept. So that kind of affects how wifi worked. I mean, it was a big, big job. 1515 wireless access points on the property.
I was about to ask
How many, That’s a lot. <Laugh>. That’s a lot. And we have a special dashboard to manage it and push updates. It’s not a, something like that is not diy and certainly not plug and play. It was a big project. But, you know, it’s all part of of what’s happened in homes. And I saw it probably, I’m gonna say 10 years ago, right? Where I was like, Oh my God, my client’s homes are more sophisticated than his business <laugh>. And then it’s just gotten worse. Cause
Well, people at, at work, they, they want to get on the internet, they wanna do email, they wanna print, they wanna share things. Right. That’s pretty much it right at home. There’s so many things happening. I mean, it’s good and bad. It’s good and bad, but all of it’s fun. So I’m, I’m lucky to work in a, in an industry. That’s fun. That’s
Great. I can’t wait to, I can’t wait to hear what’s next. Tom Bowl, thanks so much for for joining me. I know there’s so much more we could talk about, but we’ll have to catch that one on on the flip side. I’ll see you soon
To be here. Thanks for asking me. Good to see.