Technology Advisor Blog

Dropbox - Know when to use it (and when not to!)

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 10/28/11 4:21 PM

DropBoxYesterday, during a meeting with a local business group, we started talking about data backup, and one of the attendees mentioned she's using Dropbox to backup the book manuscript she's been working on for a year.  While Dropbox is THE hot new Internet start-up (check out the recent article in Forbes), and it's a beautifully simple tool for collaboration and mobility, I cringed at the thought of relying on this service to protect a years worth of work.  I strongly suggested that she set up a secondary backup for her work, and also mentioned to the rest of the group to check into security and privacy concerns. 

Last year there was a serious security breach at DropBox during which for several hours, any user could access any account with any password. If you're not very concerned about the privacy of your documents, this in itself may not scare you away, but it opens up the door of where else there might be deficiencies.

In Ed Bott's blog post today on ZDNet - Sorry Dropbox, I still don't trust you, he highlights several other concerns.  Last year he canceled his account after the security breach, and then recently opened a new account to collaborate with co-workers.  After being alarmed when he received a referral thank you from someone he didn't know, he questioned again whether a full security audit was ever performed.

Bottom line, Dropbox is an outstanding tool for mobility between your computer, laptop, smartphone and tablet, and it's an outstanding collaboration tool, but think twice before using it for confidential documents, and don't use it as a primary backup of your work.


Tags: data backup, Dropbox, mobility, collaboration

Using "Bcc" When Sending eMails - Watch Out!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 10/14/11 9:32 AM

Outlook 2010 BccI talked to a client earlier this week about using "Bcc" - "Blind Carbon Copy" when sending emails, and I thought this would be a good subject for a blog post.  "Bcc" allows you to copy someone on an email without letting any of the other recipients know.  It's a handy tool in some cases, but it's also worth knowing a bit more so you don't make mistakes.

In order to make the Bcc field available in Microsoft Outlook 2010, in a new mail message select the "Options" tab and then select the Bcc under "Show Fields".  This will make a Bcc field available to you.

There are cases where you may want to "secretly" inform someone without everyone else knowing, but use caution when using Bcc.  Here's an example:  If you send messages to a group of people you may put one address in the To: field which would be the "main" recipient, and it may be appropriate to notify several others in using the Cc field.  If anyone is in the Bcc field, none of the other recipients will know.  If a "To" or "Cc" recipient selects "reply all", the Bcc recipients will not be exposed.  However, if a Bcc recipient hits reply all, that user will expose themself (but not the other Bcc recipients), and this could be a problem in some cases - "Hey, why did that person get involved in this matter?".  This is why we urge you to use caution when using Bcc.  A safer approach may be to simply forward your sent message to the intended "Bcc" recipient, so if they reply, it only goes to you.

The time you definitely should use Bcc is when you send a message to a group of people and it wouldn't be appropriate to divulge all their email addresses, as many people would take this as an invasion of their privacy.  For example, if you send an email to a group of clients, put your own address in the "To" field, and put all the other addresses in the "Bcc" field.

In Outlook, when you look at your "sent" messages in the preview panel, you won't see the Bcc field which may make you wonder if you sent it or not to the intended recipient.  If you open the message, though, you will see the Bcc field.  If you're using Ekaru webmail, if you open the "sent" message and select "More" then "View full header", you'll see the Bcc information in the pop-up.

Some people refer to the Bcc field as "Blind Co-Conspirator", so think through how you want to use this feature.


Tags: Microsoft Office, Bcc, eMail Outlook 2010

Help! My Brother MFC-495 Printer Won't Print Black

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 10/12/11 9:04 AM

Brother MFC495 PrinterAfter a busy day at the office, it's time for IT support for the kids.  Last weeks call for help was an urgent - "The printer isn't printing!"  Typically, the printer is off-line, or the wrong printer was selected, but this time was different: paper was coming out, but it was blank.  I checked the ink cartridges and they were all fine.  I thought maybe the ink level indicator wasn't working, so I put in a new black cartridge.  No success.  The page was completely blank.  The work of fiction needed to be printed, so I changed the font color in the document to navy blue, and it printed fine. 

After going on line and googling for a solution, I found some support forums where people complained about the low quality of these all-in-one printers.  I started to conclude that I had a disposable printer, and given how much the ink costs, the fastest resolution was probably to get a new printer.  The problem is that I really like this printer/all-in-one.  It's compact, and the paper feeder works great for scanning and faxing, so I didn't want to see it go.

Turns out the solution was VERY simple:  The print head needed to be cleaned. Don't worry, this doesn't involve opening the system and using tools.... it's just a few buttons to press. Press the "Ink" button (red arrow on the photo above), then select "Cleaning", then select "Black", "Color" or "All".  In my case, I just needed to clean the black print head, and after two cleaning cycles, the printer was back in action.  A test page is generated after each cleaning cycle, and you're prompted to run the cycle again until you're satisfied with the quality.  For more detailed instructions, refer to page 155 of the 224 page manual available on-line. 

Hope this post saves you time if your printer won't print one day.

Tags: printer, clean print head, Brother MFC-495

Viewing "shortcuts" in Office 2010

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 10/7/11 11:03 AM

After our last webinar, one of our attendees asked:  "In old versions of Microsoft office, you used to be able to ‘turn on’ short cuts; this essentially allowed you to see, when clicking on an action, say ‘cut’ or ‘copy’ what the short cut key for it was – can I do that in the ribbon?  I have looked but don’t see anything.  I use short cut keys a lot and know a number of them ‘by heart’ but it would be nice to see them in the ribbon too."

Outlook2010 Keyboard ShortcutYou actually CAN see the shortcuts if you hover over the ribbon a bit longer.  For example, in Microsoft Outlook 2010, if you hover the curser over the "New Email" button in the "Home" tab ribbon, after an additional second or so, you'll see a pop up showing:  New Item (CTRL+N)  Create a New Item.  This is a great way to learn new shortcuts and save time.

For a full list of Microsoft Keyboard Shortcuts, visit the Microsoft web site.  Some of our favorites are:

  • CTRL+C = Copy
  • CTRL+X = Cut
  • CTRL+V = Paste
  • CTRL+Z = Undo
  • CTRL+A = Select All
  • ALT+TAB = Switch between open object
  • CTRL+P = Print
  • CTRL+F = Find
Enjoy the shortcuts!

Tags: Keyboard Shortcuts, Microsoft Outlook, Office 2010

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