Technology Advisor Blog

Create a PDF Document in Office 2010 - It's Easy!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/31/11 3:32 PM

Here's a tip to get more from the small business technology you already have.  One of the helpful features in Office 2010 is the ability to directly create a PDF document by using the "save as PDF" feature.  Instead of relying on a third-party application, the capability is built right in.

To create a PDF, simple to to File / Save As Type - and pick "PDF":

Word 2010 Save as pdf

PDF stands for Portable Document Format, and this means anyone can view your file and keep the formatting intact, even if they don't have Microsoft Word on their system.  This feature is also built into PowerPoint, so this makes it easy to share your presentations over the web.

Note that you also have the option to save your file in an older version of Microsoft Word (Word 97-2003), so you don't need to worry about file compatibility if you're using different versions in your small business.

We always advise clients to take a few moments to learn more about the technology you have, because you probably have more than you know.

Tags: small business, Microsoft Office, technology, PDF

Computer Security - Use "Sandboxie" to Surf the Web Safely

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/26/11 10:06 AM

The creators of viruses and other malicious software have gotten so aggressive recently, that today its possible to get a "drive-by" virus.  You may be at a web site that seems safe, but if there are ads on the site, malicious code can enter your system just by viewing the ads.  Unfortunately, the world of viruses is a "cat and mouse" game where the threats escalate as user protection increases.

A solution we have implemented for several clients is "Sandboxie".  With this software in place, any code that is written to your system while you are web surfing is placed in an isolated container known as the "sand box".  This prevents these programs from making permanent changes to other programs or data on your system.  Any malicious code downloaded by the browser can be discarded when your down browsing.  You may not even know the malicious code is trying to get on your system, but the "sand box" protects you.  You also get enhanced privacy because browsing history, cookies, and cached temporary files collected while Web browsing stay in the sandbox and don't leak into Windows.

This is a great solution to consider to keep your systems safe, and minimize the risk of getting an infection that requires costly clean up and data recovery.  No solution is 100%, but by isolating your browsing activity from the rest of your computer, you'll greatly minimize your risk.

Tags: computer security, Sandboxie, Sand Box

"Deep Freeze" to Protect Your Shared Computers

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/18/11 9:54 AM

In this day and age of all sorts of computer viruses and threats, a big problem for businesses is what to do with systems used by multiple people.

In your small business, you may have laptops that are loaned out to employees temporarily, or you may have a training room or a kiosk set up for customers to use.  With different users on the systems and little control over what the users may do, Deep Freeze is a great product which removes any changes to a computer upon reboot.  Therefore whatever happens to the system will be GONE when it reboots, so its a clean slate again for the next user. You won't waste time and money cleaning up the system or lose productivity.

This is a great solution for libraries, schools, training rooms, sales kiosks, hotels, and basically anywhere where people will need a computer for a short period of time, but don't need any customization, or their own data.  If you've ever thought it would be helpful to let customers have access to a computer, but you didn't want the hassle or risk of constant support to clean things up, this is a great solutions for your small business. 

Tags: small business, computer, laptop, security protection

Getting your eMail Through Spam Filters.

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/14/11 9:20 AM

A customer contacted us a few days ago with an email dilemma.  They had been receiving a valued daily report through email, and all of a sudden they stopped receiving it and found that it was in their spam filter and wondered why.

After taking a look at it, it turns out that the sender had changed their "from" address for their bulk email.  Just about all bulk mail (spam if you don't want it, bulk mail if you do), will get flagged by spam filters. The recipient had already "safe listed" the old address, but with the new address, it was getting stopped again.  This was easily fixed by updating the safe sender list to include the new address.

In your own small business, if you send out a newsletter or other sort of daily, weekly, or monthly update, keep in mind that many of your recipients may find it valuable and want to receive it, but spam filters may stop it.  Think carefully before changing your "from" address, because many of your recipients may stop receiving it if you do!

Tags: small business, eMail, spam

Laptop Encryption - Part 2 - Know the Difference Between "Sleep" and "Hibernation"

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/11/11 9:28 AM

Good news, you've protected your laptop (and your business and your customers) by encrypting it.  Now, now an encryption key will be needed to access confidential or protected information.

One very important thing to remember is that when you open your encrypted volume with the key, it stays open if your computer goes to sleep.  This is a time to understand the  between "sleep" and "hibernation".  These are similar, but different power settings on your system.  If you've relied on "sleep" before when you transport your laptop, this will NOT protect your system because the encryption key won't be needed to resume work.  "Hibernation" or a full shut down is required.  Test this for yourself to ensure that your information is truly protected!

Tags: laptop, Encryption

The Billion Dollar Lost-Laptop Study - Protect your Small Business!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/11/11 9:27 AM

The "Billion Dollar Lost-Laptop Study" conducted by Intel and the Ponemon institute, reports that more than 300 businesses lost more than 86,000 businesses last year worth a staggering $2.1B.

While 46 percent of the lost laptops contained confidential information, only 30% of those systems were encrypted.

With the new MA Data Protection Law which went into effect March 1, 2010, any personal information stored on a laptop requires encryption. If you're not already compliant with the new law, make it a New Years resolution to get your company laptops encrypted. 

A recent article in Inc Magazine covers "What to do when you lose your computer" - must-reading for you and your employees.  Proactively encrypting your systems is the BEST protection against loss or theft, and keep in mind that if you carry protected personal information on any MA resident, you would be breaking the law without encryption.

Tags: computer security, Encryption, laptop loss

Going Paperless for our Small Business - The next step - shredding!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/6/11 9:54 AM

With our file cabinets so full we could barely squeeze in another piece of paper, it was time to shred!  Our process is already in place going forward to keep paper away, but there still was the 800-lb gorilla of the full file cabinet to deal with.

We called DataShredder (www.DataShredder.net) to come on site to deal with task.  A few days before our scheduled date, we went through the files to pull items we already had electronic copies of, mostly customer invoices, but also many vendor invoices as well.  We filled several bins, and on the big day, DataShredder brought their truck to our parking lot, and we could actually watch our old information get shredded on a video monitor.  All the shredded paper will be recycled, and we're not generating more of it!

We received a certificate of destruction - paper copy, needs to be scanned and shredded :).  Our data back-up process has been tested, and we're ready for the New Year!

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