Technology Tips for Small Business

November 25, 2007

New Name; New Location; Same Type of Information

Filed under: General Information — Steven G. Atkinson @ 7:22 pm

Beginning on November 26, 2007 the informational blog Technology Tips for Small Business will be moved to a new location.

It now can be found at www.smbtechnologytips.com under the new name Technology Tips for SMB’s.

There are not that many difference between the Small and Mid-sized business with their understand and needs for technology. While some Mid-Sized businesses may be able to have on-site dedicated Technical Managers, many of them can’t afford the expense.

Since this was the main reason for this informational site for Small Businesses, it was a natural to expand it to include the Mid-sized business.

I have also decided to move it to its own hosted site. This is purely for financial reasons.

Thank you to those who have read these posts in the past and I hope that you will be following us to www.smbtechnologytips.com.

November 19, 2007

Are Your Network and Policies Ready for the Shopping Season?

Filed under: General Information,Information,Internet,Small Business — Steven G. Atkinson @ 9:00 am

Billions of dollars will be spent this holiday seasons, but do you realize that you, The Business Owner, could be losing many dollars during the season?

The first work day after the Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest day for on-line shopping.

Why is this?

This is the day when those who don’t have Internet access or even High-Speed Internet access at home will log onto on-line stores to get he best and earliest deals.

Do you have an Internet Policy?

Some employees may spend the majority of that day on-line doing their shopping while you are paying them. By having a policy in place they will be know what is expected of them.

It could be a nice employee perk to allow them some time to do their shopping. Either allow them a set time period while they are on the clock or let them use the company’s Internet while on their time. A little good will towards the employee goes a long way.

Ignoring the potential problem, will only create more problems. If every computer on your system is doing heavy Internet shopping, it could be putting a lot of burden on your system causing slow-downs on the system. Are you using VoIP? The added network traffic for shopping could be causing a problem with voice communications.

Being aware of a problem could keep you from having bigger problems.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

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Steven G. Atkinson is the author of the book – Technology Tips for Small Business. For more information on the book visit the site for for book – Technology Tips for Small Business.

November 15, 2007

Old technology doesn’t make it bad technology

Filed under: Information,Small Business,Technology — Steven G. Atkinson @ 2:22 pm

Many of us want to have the newest of everything out there. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as the technology budget is in place to handle it. Just because something is a few years old doesn’t make it worthless.

There are many people who may have purchase a PDA, handheld computer or even a cellphone a few years ago and you couldn’t get them to give it up for anything.

As long as it’s getting the job done, and not causing you more problems than it’s worth, having older technology may be best. While it’s a good idea to have a replacement plan, it doesn’t mean a gadget in perfect working order needs to be discarded.

© 2006-2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

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Steven G. Atkinson is the author of the book – Technology Tips for Small Business. For more information on the book visit the site for for book – Technology Tips for Small Business.

November 13, 2007

Maintaining Pace with Technology – Have a Plan

Filed under: General Information,Technology — Steven G. Atkinson @ 7:55 am

Technology is ever changing. It may not be as bad as it was in the late 90′s when you would purchase one of the first off the assembly line only to find that it already was obsolete. Even with the slow down it’s still nearly impossible to keep pace with technology.

One of the things to always keep in mind is that you shouldn’t purchase technology simply because you want it. It’s common for companies and salespersons will try to sell the newest and greatest technology. They will tell you that it will help you, but the key is for you to always know that you need it.

Technology is one of those things that can break a budget in an eye-blink. Having a technology consultant is one way to be able to control the cost. They can evaluate the need.

Since there are so many technology items available that can assist you in getting your work accomplished, it’s important that you prioritize your purchases.

Is having the newest smart-phone for you the right thing? If your accounting package is years old and hardly doing the job for you, it’s probably a better choice to upgrade that technology and not upgrade the phone.

It is wise to have a technology plan and make it a part of the Business Plan. The technology plan should be a multi-year strategy plan to maintain and upgrade hardware and software. Look at the items that are vital for a successful operation of your business. You will want to be aware of any new technology as it arrives with the idea of how it can be incorporated into the Technology/Business Plan.

An advantage of having a plan is that it may help avoid sticker shock. It will give you a plan for upgrades over a period of time and not a huge costly replacement.

Just because you have developed a technology plan doesn’t mean that you can’t deviate from it. If something new is released that can save money in your course of business it is possible for a delay one of the other items on it.

There are ways that you can save on technology purchases.

Look for technology sales.

Another way is to consider purchasing used. Unfortunately, many businesses close their doors every day. When a business closes, they may liquidate their capital assets, which could include their technology assets. It’s sad to see business fail, but their lost could be your gain.

Technology changes everyday. You want to get your best value from technology investments.

© 2006-2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All rights reserved

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Steven G. Atkinson is the author of the book Technology Tips for Small Business. Many more tips to assist the small business owner to better understand the technology they use everyday are available in the book.

November 5, 2007

Acronym: SIP

SIP – Session Initiation Protocol. This is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) standard for initiating an interactive user session involving multimedia elements such as voice, video, gaming etc. SIP works in the Application layer of the Open Systems Interconnection communications model.Requests can be sent through any transport protocol, such as UDP, SCTP, or TCP.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

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Steven G. Atkinson is the author of the book – Technology Tips for Small Business. For more information on the book visit the site for for book – Technology Tips for Small Business.

November 1, 2007

Term: Divestiture

Filed under: General Information,Information,Telecommunications,Telephones — Steven G. Atkinson @ 5:07 pm

Terms: Divestiture
In 1984 as a result of the antitrust trial against AT&T as a telecommunication monopoly the US Justice Department ordered that AT& be split. This resulted in the Long Distance Carrier AT&T and seven Regional Bell Operating Companies (termed RBOCs). This is known as the Divestiture of AT&T. Today the Long Distance AT&T of 1984 no longer exists having merged with SBC (with came about via mergers of several of the RBOCs) in 2006. SBC took the name AT&T.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

******
Steven G. Atkinson is the author of the book – Technology Tips for Small Business. For more information on the book visit the site for for book – Technology Tips for Small Business.

October 28, 2007

2007 marks a time of change for Daylight Saving Time

Filed under: Telecommunications — Steven G. Atkinson @ 12:09 am

Prior to this year the last Sunday in October was that date that Daylight Saving Time ended. Starting this year it will be the first Sunday in November.

*Republished from Spring 2007

For those who don’t know the rhyme we spring ahead an hour in the spring and fall backward one hour, in the fall. Some people mistakenly call it Daylight Savings Time, but it is Daylight Saving Time.

In 1986 the dates for DST in the US was established as the first Sunday in April and the Last Sunday in October. In 2007 with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that President George Bush signed into law in 2005, the new dates for Daylight Saving Time will begin on the second Sunday of March and end the first Sunday of November.

It all depends on who you ask whether Daylight Saving Time is a good idea or not. One study done in the 1970s by the U.S Department of transportation shows that the country’s electricity usage is cut by about one percent each day with Daylight Saving Time.

Why is this? One of the biggest uses of energy is for electricity for lighting our homes. By moving the clocks ahead in the spring, it gets darker later in the day and the need for lights in the house are less, since they need to come on later. Also with sunlight later in the day, the plans for outdoor activities rise meaning less electricity would be used, since people aren’t in the house to use it.

Daylight Saving Start and end dates beginning in 2007.
Year – Begins – Ends
2007 – March 11 – November 4
2008 – March 9 – November 2
2009 – March 8 – November 1
2010 – March 14 – November 7
2011 – March 13 – November 6
2012 – March 11 – November 4
2013 – March 10 – November 3
2014 – March 9 – November 2
2015 – March 8 – November 1

Unlike it was years ago, when I use to have a list of clocks that I needed to manually set when I arrived early to work on the Monday after DST change, many systems will automatically reset to the correct time. With the change of the dates for DST, it is possible older devices will not change correctly. Hopefully by March of 2007, patches for systems will be developed otherwise you may be setting clocks again. (There was some problems with this and apparenty there was also some problems in October too)

Daylight Saving Time is not a modern idea. Benjamin Franklin first mentioned it in a letter to the Journal of Paris in 1784.

It wasn’t put into practice until the German government put it in place in 1916.

The U.S. Congress established it at the same time they formally adopted the Rail Road Time Zones in 1918. It became so unpopular that the law for DST time was repealed in 1919.

In 1942, during World War II, DST was reinstated in the U.S. although from the end of the war in 1945 until 1966, there wasn’t a Federal Law that addressed DST.

In 1966 DST was established and has been in place since, although the law gave states the capability to exempt themselves and a few, such as Arizona and Hawaii have. Many countries follow some sort of DST plan.

Hopefully your clock will be changed correctly. If not you’ll be walking into work an hour late on Monday in the spring or an hour early in the fall.

Along with the change of clocks with DST, Fire departments recommend that the battery in fire and smoke detectors be changed. There are studies that show that a working smoke detector can more than double a person’s chances of surviving a home fire. It’s also estimated that as many as 1/3 of the homes with smoke detectors have dead or missing batteries.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All rights reserved – Technology Tips for Small Business – tt4sb.com

October 25, 2007

Slam, Cram and Scam

Filed under: General Information,Information,Telecommunications,Telephones — Steven G. Atkinson @ 1:18 pm

Does it ever seem as if there’s always someone trying to get your money? Even in telecommunications it’s that way. Some people may be trying to get your money to help your business, such as consultants, while others are nothing more than crooks trying to steal.

Here are some helpful tips to try to keep your money in your pocket. Some of these may seem like ancient history, but could still happen.

Don’t be slammed. Slamming is when your long-distance telephone service is switched to another company without your permission. This could happen in many ways, it could be in the form of what appears to be a check, cashing it will allow them to change your present service to theirs, usually at a much higher rate. Another way is to receive a telephone call offering you lower rates, even declining the service you may have been switched.

Watch for Cramming. Cramming is when optional services such as voice mail, paging, a personal 800 numbers or club membership appears on your telephone bill. This can happen, like slamming, by filling out a contest entry form, failing to respond to a negative option sales pitch, or calling a 900 number. It can happen simply by the crammer picking your telephone number out of the blue and placing charges on your bill through your local telephone company by claiming that you agreed to purchase the services.

Be aware of scams. Two of the most common ones are the “809 area code” and the “90#” scam. The 809 scam is a valid concern since 809 appears as a usual US area code but you’re actually connected to a phone number outside the United States, in the Caribbean, and charged international call rates to some number. Other area codes associated with this are 284 and 876. Because they are outside of US they are not under any US regulations. The “90#” is also true, but only to a degree. It only works on systems that require a user to dial a ‘9’ for an outside line and there aren’t any other restrictions placed on the service.

Because of these things it’s important that you check your telephone bill each and every month. It’s your right to dispute any charges you do not agree, but you should put those reasons in writing. Be sure to pay your bill on time, you may subtract the disputed amount and any taxes or fees associated with it along with written notice on the reason for your dispute. Your phone service should not be disconnected, but be aware that these charges could be referred to a collection agency.

© 2006-2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All rights reserved

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More tips like this can be found in the book - Technology Tips for Small Business – tt4sb.com

October 9, 2007

Office Email Tips

Filed under: General Information,Information,Internet,Small Business,Technology — Steven G. Atkinson @ 6:04 pm

For most of us we will send one, or a hundred, emails a day. Following these tips may help eliminate some common mistakes. This has been posted before, but I’ve added some things since that original post.

Enter the addresses after the message is composed.
Many messages are sent before they are finished. Waiting to add the addresses will keep the message in your draft bin until it’s ready to be sent.

Attach the attachments first.
We have all sent or have been sent a message with a missing attachment. Also be sure that it is attached and not embedded in the email. I’ve made a recent mistake like that and embedded a 4 meg pdf file in the email to a group of people. They couldn’t see the file and on their reply back the large file was in their reply. Needless to say this used a lot of band width and storage space.

Remove large attachments from replies.
Band width and storage space, see above.

Use spell and grammar check.
Business letters have a professional look, so should an email.

Keep personal messages out of business emails.
It’s possible that the email may need to be sent to an associate or supervisor for additional actions. They won’t want to know how the fishing trip went.

Don’t add a new subject to an ongoing thread and don’t combine threads.
When new subjects are added to an ongoing thread it can be confusing to the reader. If the reader only needed to be advised of what was going on, but the added subject needed their action, that action could be delayed. Combining threads generally just confuses everyone.

Address correctly.
If it’s an informational message to many members it’s a good idea to use the Bcc: field to protect other people addresses. If sending to multiple persons with multiple assignments, or to let a supervisor or associate know the mail was sent, address the responsible person by name in the message.

Watch the Reply all.
Does everyone need to see your reply or only the sender? If it’s only the original sender it could save embarrassment.

Be sure to enter a subject.
The information that you put in your subject line can pass information to the recipient the importance of the message as well as how soon a respond may be needed. By leaving the subject line blank it may be ignored completely

Check before hitting the send button.
Once the send button is press the email is in the stream and on its way to its recipient. It’s always a good idea to proofread the message and check that you have attached the attachments and addressed the message to the correct parties.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All rights reserved – Technology Tips For Small Business

October 4, 2007

Got iPhone Envy, But Don’t Use AT&T

Filed under: Cellphones,Small Business,Technology,Telecommunications — Steven G. Atkinson @ 12:46 pm

LG has announced a touch screen phone, the LG Voyager. It will be availale on the VerizonWireless network

The LG Voyager is the successor of the enV VX9900. It has a 320 x 240 pixels touch-sensitive display with a clamshell that opens in landscape orientation to reveal the display, stereo speakers and QWERTY for messaging.

It also supports V CAST TV for live digital TV viewing and stores as much as 8GB of media on a microSDHC card.

The Voyager is due to launch by the Thanksgiving holiday and pricing has not been announced.

For More:
http://www.infosyncworld.com/news/n/8405.html
http://www.slashphone.com/70/8480.html

October 1, 2007

Apple’s iPod Touch is not simply a phone less iPhone

Filed under: General Information,Information,Small Business,Technology — Steven G. Atkinson @ 11:49 am

When first hearing about Apple’s new iPod Touch, my first reaction was that they were releasing an iPhone without the phone. It looks like an iPhone has many of the same features, like built in WiFi and iTunes. What I have now discovered, thankfully before I purchased one, it’s really is nothing more than an iPod based on the iPhone’s Multi-Touch technology.

What does it do?
From the looks, it’s a great music and video player. Works great with iTunes and YouTube. It has an WiFi interface that will allow you to access the internet, through the slimed downed Safari application as well as WiFi access to the iTunes Store, making it easier to get your tunes when drinking your favorite drink from Starbucks.

What does it not do?
It’s not a replacement for a PDA. Apparently it does have a calendar and a contact list, but each of these needs to be created and updated on the computer. You can’t simply enter a new appointment while at a meeting into the iPod Touch and have it sync to the calendar on the PC. The same hold true for the contacts. In fact there isn’t any way to type any type of notes into it other than possibly via a web application through safari. And to use safari, you need to be on a WiFi network.

There is a rumor circulating that Apple is working on a PDA. There have also been rumors that engineers from the PDA project were moved to both the iPhone and iPod Touch so that those products could be delivered at the promised time.

A question now is, Does Apple plan on developing a PDA? I hope so. But for now I guess I’ll just have to replace my old Palm with a new old Palm until that day arrives.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved – Technology Tips for Small Business

September 18, 2007

Invoices wrong? – Be careful on how you pay.

Filed under: Cellphones,Telecommunications,Telephones — Steven G. Atkinson @ 5:49 pm

It’s not unusual for telecommunications invoices to have errors. It is for that reason that they should be checked each month before payment is made. TEM (Technology Expense Management) vendors are always using that as a marketing tool to do it for you. As a Technology Consultant, I too believe this.

One of the items that can be added to an invoice is Third-Party billing. This is when a company is allowed to pass charges onto your local provider bills. This could be for a club membership or other add-on services.

Actually the majority of third-party billing is fraudulent. Important to note, the local provider does not have any responsibility or liability for third-party charges and third-party billers must be contacted directly for billing resolution. Many local providers will allow you to place third-party biller block on your account. It’s advisable to do so.

Knowing this you shouldn’t simply short pay your invoices. Many vendors require written notification of disputed charges and authorization allowing short payment of amounts due. Sometimes it is even easier to pay the full invoice amount and request a refund for those incorrect charges. Any delay could give the vendor a reason to assess late charges.

Proper documentation can and usually will protect you. Short payment of invoices may look as non-payment and late charges can be assessed on those amounts. Should at some time disconnection be threatened, the correct documentation gives a paper trail that can be used to substantiate your actions.

You want to always only pay for the correct amount, but big telecommunication companies also want to receive payment for services they believe were provided.

© 2006-2007  Steven G. Atkinson – All rights reserved – tt4sb.com

September 11, 2007

Is Desktop Clutter A Problem?

Filed under: Computers — Steven G. Atkinson @ 10:01 am

There are more things to cause desktop clutter than the items that the eye can see.

There’s always the cable mess that seems to arrive with computers and other electronic items needed to perform your job. The electric cords and the large ‘bricks’ that accompany some items seem to always be in the way or causing an eyesore. Many manufacturers sell items such as cable ties to secure cable, wide outlet plug strips for those big bulky transformers.

And you can always use a wireless keyboard and mouse to keep those cables out of hand and sight. They have their problems as well. They run on batteries that need to be changed or recharged. Not to mention they need to be turned on before use and off afterwards, otherwise the batteries are replaced constantly. Sometimes it may seem just as easy to have those couple of wires on the desk instead of the constant changing of batteries. But like everything, that’s a personal choice.

But you may be totally surprised to find that clutter resides in your computer. Clutter in your computer could be anything form the adware and spyware that was installed onto your computer without your knowledge to just a bunch of old unused and long forgotten files and folders.

The huge hard drive you purchased thinking it was so big that you would never fill may now be starting to run out of space. Music and video files, even those compressed, when you have 100’s and 1000’s of them take up a lot of room.

Here are a couple of things you can do to help ease that filling hard drive. Take a look at the programs that are on your computer. Is that program you tried a while ago, decided you hated and now have never used still on the computer? It’s probably time to look, evaluate and remove any programs that you have never used.

Another thing you may want to do is check your emails. Do you have old messages that have huge attachments in them? A few may not seem like much, but if doesn’t take too many message with pictures to take up a lot of storage space.

Don’t forget to check your music files. Podcasts have become a common element in today’s life but do you download a daily one, listen to it once, but have no desire to ever listen to it again. It’s just like the pictures in your email a few isn’t bad but once you have 100’s it takes up room.

Then again there is another, more technical answer in case you are running out of room on your hard drive. You can always buy a new bigger one.

© 2006 Steven G. Atkinson – All rights reserved – tt4sb.com

September 7, 2007

Acronym: RBOC

Filed under: acronym,General Information,Information,Telecommunications,Telephones — Steven G. Atkinson @ 10:28 am

ROBC – Regional Bell Operating Company. With the divesture of ATT in 1984, seven regional companies, also called “Baby Bells” were formed to supply local telephone service with ATT as the Long-Distance Carrier. These seven companies were; Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, BellSouth, NYNEX, Pacific Telesis (also known as Pacific Bell), Southwestern Bell and US West. Not only were these companies the RBOC, but they would also be considered the LEC (Local Exchange Carrier). The term Regional Holding Company (RHC) is also sometimes used.

Over the course of the past 23 years there have been mergers and other acquisition as well as a change in the telecommunications law in 1996 that allowed the RBOCs to request and be granted the rights to supply Long-Distance services where once there were 8 companies (ATT and the 7 ROBCs) now are three.

Verizon was formed after the Merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX as well as the acquistion of GTE an independent carrier. Since then Verizon has also merged with MCI (A Long-Distance company).

Qwest a Denver based Fiber Long Distance company acquired US WEST.

The New ATT was formed after SBC acquired ATT and took the name AT&T in 2005. SouthWestern Bell took the name SBC when it acquired Pacific Telesis in 1997. SBC then acquired AmeriTech in 1999. Then in 2006 the new AT&T merged with BellSouth.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved

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Steven G. Atkinson is the author of the book – Technology Tips for Small Business. For more information on the book visit the site for for book – Technology Tips for Small Business.

September 5, 2007

Bad Technology Habits

1.   Talking on the cell phone at inappropriate places.  People when they are talking forget where they are or who may be around when they are having a conversation on the phone.  The guy next to you in the grocery line, or sitting in front of you in a theater don’t want to hear your end of the conversation and you may not want them to hear it either.

2.   Interrupting a conversation to answer you cellphone.  If you are talking with a client, is the caller more important than the client.  Probably not.

3.   Constantly checking email.  It’s better to check them in batches than when each mail is delivered.  Turn off notification and build into your schedule email time.  You will be more productive.

4.   Don’t use unusual ringtones.  A ringing phone at the wrong time is embarrassing, but one in a business meeting that plays your favorite rock song may be worst.

5.   Hiding behind Voice mail. Too many people will not answer the phone, let voice mail take the message and then respond to the voice mail.

6.   Calling back a number on CallerID  when a message wasn’t left in voice mail. It could have been a incorrect dialed number or the caller needed the answer right then nd not later.  It’s even possible that you may have already talked with that person since they called.

© 2007 Steven G. Atkinson – All Rights Reserved – Technology Tips for Small Business

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