Friday, January 29, 2010

Foodie Fridays: Two Cousins Italian Restaurant

When first pulling up to Two Cousins Italian Restaurant in Southbridge, MA. you may think "meh" does not look all that special, perhaps we should go elseware. However if were to act on such a thought you would miss a truly amazing and authentic Italian meal. The very friendly and hospitable owner Chef Sagundo is from Italy, was a successful chef in NYC, and moved to Southbridge for his family. While the outer appearance of the building speaks nothing of the incredible food inside one must remember you really can't judge a book by its cover.

Offering succulent variations of delicious traditional Italian foods such as antipastos, superb thin crust pizza, chapino, seafood fra diavolo, spaghetti and meatballs, homeade italian sausages and many other wonderful hand crafted italian delights, one could easily find themselves instantly transported to the Mediterranean with a single bite of any of these fantastic dishes.

My personal favorite, the seafood fra diavolo, is chocked full of the freshest lobster, shrimp, calamari, mussels , clams, and scallops served over perfectly cooked linguine that rests in a simply sublime, spicy garlic and herb marinara sauce.

All meals begin with complementary slices of Italan flatbread and fresh homemade bruschetta. The restaurant boasts a full bar with a good selection of fine wines, bottled beers and liquors. If you have room after your meal I would highly suggest indulging in the homade tarimisu or cannoli, both of which offer sinfully sweet, yet at the same time delicate flavors and makes for the perfect end to a perfect meal. While the service has been less than great at times, usually one can expect average to above average service and depending upon how busy the evening is you can almost bet on Chef Segundo, full of good spirit and with a smile upon his face coming to your table and checking to be sure that everyone is happy with their meal.

So if you ever find yourself in in Southbridge, MA I urge to stop by Two Cousins Italian Restaurant and enjoy the authentic taste of Italy without having to buy a plane ticket.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

MPSA - 2010 Looking Forward Webninar

Today at 11:00am I signed into the MPSA's first webinar which will surely be one of many to come. Despite several technical difficulties including The Eagles "Peaceful Easy Feeling", which to the bane of the presenters played over the introduction dialogue while the speakers tried to tame a powerpoint slideshow which seemed to have a mind of its own, freely changing from one slide to the next at random...

The webinar was in fact a success.

The content ranged from where the MPS industry will be heading in the next year or so to what we can expect from the "Big Boys" in regards to SMBs. There was also some commentary on the financial implications of the the industry's growth in the US, Europe and beyond and a albeit short Q&A session that proved to be engaging from my perspective as I had also wondered about HP's "official" and or "unofficial" partnerships.

All in all I think the webinar was insightful and at somepoints, entertaining. Although I don't think the entertaining elements were planned.

Sing with me now.

I got a peaceful easy feeling....


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Just in time for Valentines

Giving your sweetheart a candy heart for Valentines day? How about a real human heart? Don't worry no foul play needed... you can print your own! Or well, this Japanese scientist can.

From news blog:

"Japanese scientist Makoto Nakamura is using inkjet printing technology in an attempt to “print” human organs."

See the whole article here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Foodie Fridays: Of Uni and Egg

As as a fan of sushi and sashimi I have had my share of toro, and the many delights of thinly sliced raw fish presented in dazzling arrays of floral sculpture presented on plates made to look like ethereal Japanese gardens.

Many times I have also indulged in the creamy goodness of uni or for those of you outside of the know, raw sea urchin. This delectable creature tastes like the like ocean with a notably intense richness of flavor comparable to the finest clams.

Why it took me so long to also ask for this delight to be topped with the quail egg (as is offered in any respectable sushi establishment) I do not know. What I do know is that the taste of the raw quail egg and uni together provide a rather transcendent experience for those who already love uni by itself. Having finally tried this mind bending combination of sea and air creature features at Kaizen sushi bar and grill in Sturbridge, Massachusetts I must say, I regret waiting.

Perhaps it was one of several episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” where I watched him devour the same sublime combination that inspired my last minute reaction at Kaizen to reply to the waitress, “yes I will have the quail egg with my uni”. Regardless of why I made the decision I realized from the first bite, my uni ritual was forever changed.

Indeed it takes a certain kind to enjoy uni as it is even for the novice sushi lover a new level of extremes within the realm of consuming raw fish. However if you are already there and enjoy the delicacy as is and have not experienced the magic that is the marriage of quail egg and uni I digress,

taste and be amazed.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Foodie Fridays: B.T.'s Smokehouse

Photo by Jack Starkey of The Cannery Blog

Fridays are used by many bloggers to write about subjects that they consider to be personally interesting or satisfying. With that being said, I figure it is about time that I start to interject a little more of me into this blog. So from now on you will find a weekly post at the end of each week called "Foodie Fridays" which will be an ongoing series of posts about one of my true loves... Food.

Now some of you may be wondering what exactly is a "Foodie"? Well wikipedia describes foodies as the following:

"Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste who may or may not be professionals in the food industry, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news. Gourmets simply want to eat the best food, whereas foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food. For this reason, foodies are sometimes viewed as obsessively interested in all things culinary. There is also a general feeling in the culinary industry that the term gourmet is outdated."

I would say this is a good description, at least as far as how I would describe myself as a Foodie.

So the first topic for AIOI's Foodie Fridays will be BT's Smokehouse of Sturbridge, MA

BT's Smokehouse is a hidden gem of a BBQ joint of which the current location debuted its grand opening at noon this past Wednesday (BT's has been quietly producing epic BBQ in the area at several locations for the past 4 years or so). The traditional yet creative southern style BBQ offered by owner/chef Brian Treitman is nothing short of an ecstatic experience for the taste buds bordering on the transcendent.

Jumbo chicken wings, St.Louis style pork ribs, Beef Brisket and Pulled pork are but the tip of the iceberg that is BT's menu. In addition to an array of meats that are slow smoked for up to 14 hours with local hickory and apple woods BT's offers items not found at other BBQ spots. For the adventurous BBQ lover one might try BT's "pig newtons" or the jumbo ghost chili chicken wings, items which can be found along side staples such as fried pickles, hush puppies, collard greens, grits and cornbread.

Boasting more than 5 home made sauces ranging from delightfully sweet to hellishly hot. Each sauce boasts a flavor profile that could humble many of the finest sauces on the market today. Having been given the honor to try out the new "ghost chili sauce" which had a tinge of sweet smokey flavor followed by a high ranking scoville sting unmatched by any hot sauce I have come across in my time (mind you I actually drink franks red hot sauce) I became instantly convinced this place has a grand future.

Having dined there 6 times in the past week I advise the reader to take caution as to how BT's phenomenal food may become somewhat addicting. All joking aside I must implore you to try this place for yourself. Upon doing so I am sure you will find I have failed to truly describe the awesomeness BT's has to offer, however I would say the moniker "taste and believe" may very well be the simplest way to put it. In closing I would say for those of you BBQ fans living in California, it's worth the drive.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

AIOI: Battle Cry? LOL!

Blogger Pete Lavelle of News posted a comment on my post; MPS Providers interview #2. I could not help but chuckle at what he had to say:

"Interesting idea for a series. Interview enough executives and the great MPS mystery may finally be solved.

By the way - it never occurred to me how much the acronym for 'Adventures In Office Imaging' sounds like a battle cry."

-Pete Levelle

With that in mind I have decided to post my response to his comment:

"Thank you for reading Peter, indeed I would like to think this will be a most illuminating series of interviews.

AIOI - Battle cry? lol! I like it, I would go so far as to say you "get it". I was told yesterday by one of our readers that:

"There’s a bit of “angst” that tends to come out in your posts – anger and resentment as opposed to a focus on education. It’s hard to pinpoint, but it’s there and puts a reader on edge."

"We must be clear in that we do not have any interest in slamming “ uber big print manufacturers” as we partner with several on many different levels and would never want to jeopardize our relationship with any of them."

I admit, I do tend have a bit of angst towards the folks I call the "big boys" (Ikon, Xerox, HP, Canon etc.) only in regards to MPS however.

Hey lets face it, many of them only jumped on the MPS bandwagon when it became clear that box pushing would no longer line their pockets with gold.

With that being said we do business with some of these companies and as manufacturers they are excellent companies.

Based on their time in the MPS industry though, compared to a company like us who have been doing MPS before the term managed print services even existed, they are not MPS experts."


I would like to make it very clear, that the simple fact of the matter is that 10 years ago none of the "big boys" were doing managed print services. Some companies like Expert Laser Services have been doing managed print services or have been involved with managed print services early creation and evolution for almost two decades.

To see companies like HP, Xerox, Ikon, Canon, etc. Hit the scene claiming to be experts in managed print services is to some extent, insulting. Our founder was in the trenches at the very epoch of what we know managed print services to be today.

Does this mean that I hate the "big boys"? NO! But I will not stand by and watch as these giants claim expertise in a field that they have only just recently entered. When compared to many of the smaller MPS Providers who have been part of MPS for many years prior to these companies even having an interest in managed print services, the need to bring this to light is important.

The fundamental truth here is that customers have the right to know that in some cases these smaller MPS providers will give them a superior product and service backed backed by years of experience, something that the "big boys" simply can not offer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

MPS Interview #2: Greg VanDeWalker

Our second interview in our MPS Providers interview series connects with Greg VanDeWalker who is the managed print services financing and leasing executive from GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation. Greg has a very interesting position within the managed print services industry as to how his work at GreatAmerica helps dealers create their own custom MPS programs.

AIOI: What company do you work for?

Greg: GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation

AIOI: How many employees does your company have?

Greg: 325

AIOI: How do you personally define "Managed Print services"

Greg: Technically – All of the customers document output needs are analyzed, right-sized, optimized and managed.

Practically – The customer has one throat to choke when it comes to document output.

AIOI: How long have you been involved with Managed Print Services?

Greg: 6 years

AIOI: What benefits does your MPS program offer your customers?

Greg: GreatAmerica doesn’t claim to have our own MPS program, we help our dealers create and implement their own MPS program. Our primary business is a finance company. We focus heavily on the copier and printer channel, consequently we have created expertise around the intricacies around billing and collecting bundled contracts. Our system integrates with all the major ERP systems to allow for seamless download and upload of meter reads which enables us to bill very complicated MPS contracts with ease. Since we are billing and collecting a dealers money in the contract, the dealer must have 100% confidence that we are handling their money accurately. A big part of our capabilities is our ability to invoice for BOTH financed and non-financed devices on one invoice. The concept of MPS being a complete rip-and-replace is outdated and not reality. We realize that some equipment will be needed today, and over time devices will added and deleted from contract while maintaining the single invoice. We also a bringing other MPS tools to help our dealers. We have our own remote monitoring tool, FleetView that our dealers can use. We have an MPS business model program called Navigator to help our dealers identify all the needed aspects of an MPS business. Plus, more tools will be announced later this year.

AIOI: What are some of your major successes?

Greg: We have many dealers who have transitioned their business from transaction to contractual solutions. The percentage of bundled contracts has steadily increased year over the year. We have been chosen by many of the national MPS providers to be their financing partner. Those companies looked at the other providers and we came out on top, we are very proud of that fact.

What separates your MPS program from your competitors?

Greg: From a finance company perspective, there is no other company that has the tools we possess. I say often if your customer wants to lease their devices there are many good leasing companies to help. But if you are selling a bundled/MPS/one invoice solution, there is no other company you should work with in the industry.

Friday, January 8, 2010

MPS Interview #1: Chad Anguilm

Since Adventures in Office Imaging started, one key component in the mission of the blog has been to raise peoples awareness to the fact that aside from the "big boys" (Xerox, Ikon, Canon, HP, etc.) there are small companies all over the country/world that have been doing managed print services far longer than any of these aforementioned uber-giants.

This is important to me because I believe in supporting small/local businesses/companies. It should be important to you if you plan on signing a contract with an MPS provider to manage your fleet of office equipment.

So in the spirit of enlightenment this will be the first in a series of interviews with representatives from companies like Expert Laser Services, who although do not have global accounts like the "big boys" have far greater experience within the creation, development and evolution of managed print services than any of these monsters of the office imaging industry.

First up is Print Management Coordinator and Blogger Chad Anguilm (Kraft Care Blog)

AIOI: What company do you work for?

Chad: Kraft Business Systems, Grand Rapids, Mi.

AIOI: How many employees does your company have?

Chad: 25-30

AIOI: How do you personally define "Managed Print services"

Chad: Managed Print Services is a program designed to optimize your output budget with an evolving plan for the future. By first assessing the current environment and then making recommendations based on improving efficiencies a plan can be created and followed. Quarterly visits with a dedicated PMS rep helps keep IT Directors in the loop without investing any of their valuable time in the actual maintaining of the devices or supplies. Finally, to be a true Print Managed Services plan there must be the ability to make changes for the better of the organization. Gone are the days of base rates which lock companies into a minimum amount of images for a certain period of time. PMS is about eliminating images not capturing them!

AIOI: How long have you been involved with Managed Print Services?

Chad: Personally, 3 Years. Kraft Business Systems introduced KraftCare™ PMS in 2003.

AIOI: What benefits does your MPS program offer your customers?

Chad: The compelling reason for Kraft Business Systems to offer Print Managed Services is our customer’s frustration with the inability to control and manage print costs. Customers are unhappy with the inability to monitor and track a variety of products and vendors for service, supplies and billing. Many clients have an uncontrolled deployment of a variety of print and imaging products in a very Print/Copy-Centric Work Environment vs. Workflow-Centric Environment. None of our competitors talk about decreasing the amount of printed images since that is their life-blood. Finally, time is a huge concern for most IT Directors. Many are working more hours, for less pay. If we are effectively controlling their output devices, they don’t have to!

AIOI: What are some of your major successes?

Chad: I’d say one of my major successes thus far has been taking IT Directors that were not at all interested in the thought of Print Managed Services and showing them the value of a program capable of taking the onus off them to create a plan for the future and allowing them to utilize their experience and knowledge on network related issues and projects rather than fixing and maintaining printers.

Along with that, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with staff members to show how much more efficient they can become by replacing desktop printers with departmental multi-function units. By showing the value of the additional features I have been able to get buy-in from individuals that IT directors had feared for years.

What separates your MPS program from your competitors?

Chad: Kraft Business Systems is a complete systems integrator, something none of our competitors can compete with. Kraft also has a diversified & open product portfolio. This includes IT Management, Document / Forms / Workflow Management, Print Management, Voice / Data Management, and Imaging Equipment Management. Kraft is locally owned/operated in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Something that really sets Kraft apart is its ability to add/adjust product offerings and services quickly when most businesses either are forced to change or take a long time to do so. The flexibility to create a new program without going through a long, drawn out process is unique to Kraft Business. Last but not least we focus on true sustainability, no longer can it just be about capturing clicks and reducing the amount of devices. At Kraft we focus on limiting the amount of printed images through document routing and workflow managed services. The ability to take your business through the process and educate staff, through quarterly training visits, on the importance of an efficient office sets Kraft Business Systems apart from the rest here in Michigan.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Managed Print Services Visual Aid

Click HERE to get your very own "savings jackpot"

Dracula to revolutionize inkjet printing

Dracula may very well be able to make a killing in the inkjet printing industry, according to an article from the Inks,Inks,Inks blog HP Printer ink is more expensive than blood! Want to save some money?
"All you need is an emptied ink cartridge and a blood donor pack. That woozy sensation you’re feeling as you fill the cartridge? That, dear reader, is what saving feels like - glorious, glorious saving. " - Inks Corespondent

Read the full article here.