BizHostNC IT & Networking

Network Wide Ad Blocking for Small Business

Small office networks are often not very complex, and don’t require much hardware. There are ways to improve your small business network, by using a network-wide ad blocking system that works as a DNS resolver. We have come up with a budget friendly and effective way to implement Pi-hole into your small business network.

What’s required to implement a Pi-Hole into my small business network?

  • Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • 16gb Micro SD Card
  • Micro-USB Data Capable Cable
  • Raspbian Operating System (Or another compatible OS if not using a Raspi Zero)
  • Headless Setup or an HDMI Mini to HDMI cable

Alright, so this guide is going to assume you have already setup a headless install of Raspbian on your Rasperry Pi Zero W, or you have a HDMI connection setup on your monitor. If you need some how-to guides check out the link below.

Headless Setup of Raspberry Pi (Connect o Pi via SSH without monitor)

Since you are already setup on your raspberry pi, go to your bash command line and type the following command to start an automated setup script.

curl -sSL | bash

This setup script can take some time, some people reporting upwards of 20 minutes. Just let it do it’s thing for awhile and it will let you know when done.

Now, it’s time to start on your configuration. Start by choosing who will be your upstream DNS. We recommend Cloudflare or Google for most small business networks.

Then you will want to select the type of IP address setup you require, most all small business networks only use IPv4.

The installer will try to find the current subnet and assign a static route to the Pi-hole from the dynamic IP address provided from your router. If you have advanced network settings, you will likely need an IT professional to modify configurations.

You will be asked if you wish to install the web interface, and we recommend yes since this is a headless install. How else will you manage your DNS driven Network-wide Ad Blocker?

Now, it will finish up the installation.

When it’s finally done with the installation, you will need to copy/paste the details from the terminal and store them somewhere safe. It will be required for initial login to the web control panel.

Now you can simple visit the IP Address listed on your setup. You will login with the provided login password. Some networks can also be setup to access the Pi-hole via http://pi-hole.local

Now you can login, update your blocked domains in the “Tools” menu and manage any Whitelisting you wish. The final step is to configure your Router or each PC you wish to implement blocking to use the IP address of your Pi-hole as the DNS server. Below is an example from an iPhone.

Have questions? Need help? We are here for you! Contact BizHostNC for small business networking and web hosting.

Monitor your Home Lab Temperature & Humidity Environment with ESP8266 and DHT11 Sensor

Ever wanted to monitor ambient temperature and humidity in your home lab or server room, but didn’t want to spend money on something extravagant? Most guys who work with electronics already have these parts laying around whether in a kit, or just deals. Otherwise you can get these parts for under 10$ and put this simple piece of hardware anywhere you want to monitor temperature and humidity. The footprint of the hardware is quite small, and we have implemented ESP8266 deep sleep to reduce the amount of power usage as well. Our setup is monitoring the temperature in our home lab, which has quite a few electronics running and we like to know what the ambient is to ensure our GPU and CPU temps are stable. We also have this same setup running at multiple businesses on closed networks for their automation.

The code I am using is written in the Arduino IDE, so you will have to download it. The code is quite simple, it will read the data from the sensor; then send that data to a ThingSpeak channel. This will allow you to aggregate the data somewhere central, without fighting a bunch of local servers and code. It works great, and allows you to send your data and deep sleep for your required delay. We will add more technical data and information as this post matures.

You will need to have, or order the following parts:

It’s quite simple, wire up your ESP-8266 NodeMCU with 3v to the positive pin, Ground to the Negative (-) pin, and then your Sensor pin will go to D5 on your NodeMCU.

Then, you will need to open up your Arduino IDE and install the DHTesp Library. There will be two DHT libraries, but we want the one that has ESP8266 in the description. You may also need to add the ESP8266 to your board manager if you have not already, follow the instructions here:

Now that you have your sensor wired up, and your code in the Arduino IDE. You will need to fill in the settings (WiFi, and ThingSpeak). Sign up on thingspeak and create your channel, then add the API key to your code.

Once you are signed in, click on Channels > My Channels.

Then, you click on “New Channel”

Insert your information (Our code is setup as Temperature in Field 1, Humidity in 2)

Click on API Keys, and copy/paste your Write API key to your Arduino script.


When you are doing your upload, please make sure your deep sleep pin is disconnected. To enable the deep sleep mode, you will need to connect D0 to RST pin. It will be GPIO 16 (known as D0 on NodeMCU). You CANNOT upload your script to your ESP8266 with these pins connected, so simply remove for flashing then reconnect once it’s complete.

Now that everything is setup, you can 3D print a case to make it look pretty or just simply leave it how it is and stash it somewhere with a 5V power source. Mine is powered from a USB port on one of my towers, and I mounted it in a case from Thingiverse on the wall away from any of my PC fans. Then monitor your data!


Original Code we adapted from:

A marketing technique we can get behind – Virginia company offers Free AR15 with purchase of new roof

We seen an article today on our newsfeed about a Virginia company that is offering a FREE AR-15 with the purchase of a new roof, siding or window installation. This is a marketing technique we can get behind here in North Carolina as well! Support Local Business and your Second Amendment Rights. What do you think about this technique and do you support it?

Original Article:

A Virginia roofing company is now offering a free AR-15 with every roof installation.

LMC Exteriors recently announced the limited-time promotion on its social media platforms.

“We are the only contractor in the state of Virginia that’s giving away a free gun after the completion of every roof, siding and/or window purchase,” company president J. Elmer said in a video posted on the company’s Facebook page on March 6 as text that says “AR-15” flashes over the screen.

LMC Exteriors says customers will receive a voucher to purchase the firearm from a licensed dealer – which they say is ATF approved – upon completion of a roof, window or siding service. Those who do not want the voucher can decline it.

The company, based in Urbanna, Virginia, has been in business for more than 30 years and covers Northern Virginia, as well as Richmond and all of Hampton Roads.

Other roofing companies, in Alabama and Colorado, also have offered a free gun in the past.


5 Things to Look for in a Promising Web Host

Finding a promising web hosting company for your internet based business is an essential piece to the puzzle. This is the company that has control of your server space, web services and file maintenance, so you want to make sure you are protected. Here are 5 things to look for in a promising web host.

1. Reliability

There is nothing more important than reliability when it comes to selecting a web hosting company. There are a number of things that can go wrong within an internet based business and it is assuring to know that your web host is there for you. Prior to selecting a company, take the time to look at the percentage of time their server is working properly. If the server tends to be down 15% of the time or more, this kills valuable time that you could be working.

2. Contact info

Part of a web hosting company being reliable is also them being available. If your server goes down, you want to know that you can get a hold of the company as soon as possible. The best way to check on the support personnel is to call them up prior to agreeing to anything to test them out.

3. Domain name

With thousands of internet based businesses on the web and millions of web addresses already taken, it can be difficult coming up with an original domain name. However, every web host should be able to provide you with one for a reasonable price. Check into the support they give you for finding a quality domain name and the prices each company charges for a domain name.

4. CGI access

Depending on the type of internet based business you have, you may want to or need to run your own programs. In order to do this, you must have CGI access. Not every web host offers this, and not every company offers the same capabilities for their CGI access. When researching into a web hosting company, check to make sure they offer CGI access that allows you to read, write, and execute on your server.

5. POP account

Having a POP account is vital for your business because of the protection that it offers. A POP account gives you password-protected access to mail that is sent through your website email address.

There are several things you want to look into prior to selecting a web hosting company. The more questions you can come up with to ask the company and the more research you put into your decision, the better off you will be.

How does Social Media Marketing help your business grow

If you’re a business owner, chances are you’ve already considered using social media marketing to help get the word out about your business.

In fact, 82 percent of small business owners are using sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram to help grow their businesses. And if you are still standing on the social sidelines, there’s never been a better time to get started.

Here are 10 reasons why social media marketing could be right for your business.

1. Social media helps get the word out

First and foremost — social media does, in fact, help get the word out about your business.

But even more important than the exposure, it provides you with the opportunity to grow relationships with your target audience. Your fans, followers, and connections are people who know your organization, have likely done business with you in the past, and will be most likely to tell their friends about you.

Social media marketing image 1

2. Social media is popular — really, really, popular

You don’t need to be a dedicated reader of tech blogs or an expert in online marketing to know that social media is really popular among consumers.

According to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of American adults use social networks, which means that social media will touch nearly every customer that walks through your door.

For most small businesses, Facebook — which has 1.7 billion monthly active users — is the jumping-off point for getting started with social media marketing.

With its extensive reach and dynamic functionality, there are very few businesses that couldn’t benefit from having a presence on Facebook. And starting there will make it easier when you want to try something new.

3. Social media is cost-effective

As more social networks add algorithms that filter what users see in their news feeds, your organic content may get lost in the shuffle. Take advantage of the low-cost advertising features offered by the social networks to promote your content and special offers.

Most social media advertising is cheaper than traditional advertising, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money to reach more people, increase your audience, and grow your business.

Social media marketing and advertising image

4. Social media reaches all ages and demographics

Social media defies age barriers. A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that 65 percent of US adults are using social networks.

Between 2005 and 2015, usage among ages 30-49 has increased by 69 points from 8 percent to 77 percent. So, no matter how young or old your target audience may be, chances are most of them are already logging on and waiting for you to get started.

5. Social media encourages two-way communication

Social media gives you the power to learn more about your audience, their interests, and collect feedback.

Ask your customers to share their thoughts, questions, and ideas to get to know them better. You can respond just as fast, without having to pick up the phone or worry the customer isn’t seeing your response.

Social media marketing two-way communication

6. Social media users are active

One thing you have to know about social media users is that when they say they are on social media, they are really on social media.

Social media users in the US check their accounts 17 times a day, according to an Informate Mobile Intelligence report. While a customer may visit your store once a week, they could see your social media posts in their feed multiple times during the week.

7. Social media lets you share A LOT about your business

Social media sites are becoming the go-to place for consumers who want to learn more about a business. That’s because these sites allow businesses to offer the most up-to-date information about anything from products, services, or upcoming events.

Also, much of your activity and profiles on social media sites can be made public, meaning they can be indexed by search engines — one more way to make sure your business or organization comes up as the answer when someone is searching for a solution to a problem.

Social media marketing, sharing expertise

8. Social media is perfect for customer service

Providing stellar customer service is likely already a top priority for your small business. But along with the two-way communication that social media provides, it also offers a unique opportunity to step up your customer service game and provide instant gratification to your target audience.

This will allow you to showcase just how much you care about providing a memorable experience and will ensure that no customer inquiry goes unnoticed. And by monitoring social media for customer feedback and offering a response, you can drive real business results. Businesses that engage with customer service requests via social media earn 20-40 percent more revenue per customer, according to Bain and Company.

9. Social media can make a big difference for your email marketing

Social media has completely changed the game when it comes to how small businesses think of email marketingSharing your email newsletter across your social networks can open your content up to a whole new audience and generate the type of buzz you’ve been looking for.

Not only that, but you can also use sites like Facebook to attract more readers by including a Join My Mailing List link right on your Page.

Together, these two powerful tools have reshaped the marketing landscape and have really leveled the playing field for small businesses trying to better connect with current customers and reach new audiences for their business.

Join our newsletter on facebook image

10. Social media is everywhere

Today, more than half of all Americans are smartphone users and more and more businesses are offering mobile-friendly experiences. The benefit of the increased presence of mobile activity in our daily lives is huge for small businesses.

Most major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, offer free mobile apps that let business owners manage their presence on-the-go.

More importantly, these apps let customers connect to their favorite sites wherever they are. These users aren’t just sharing updates from their own lives, they’re searching for businesses, products, and services, and connecting with brands through their social channels.

Having a social media presence that’s accessible via mobile can improve the chances of your business getting found when someone is searching for a place to eat or a product to buy, while on-the-go.

Don’t sit on the social media sidelines!

See how social media marketing can work for your business. Check out our Social Media Quickstarter to learn the ins and outs of the major social media networks.

Worried you don’t have the time to get started? We hear you. Here are some of our social media tips for time-starved business owners.