Posts Tagged ‘#business’

2011 Cyber Attacks

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis March 1st, 2012

Results are in:  Last year’s majority of “data breaches” (i.e. stolen personal information) for businesses were from Malware and Hacking, according to a new study by Verizon.  This is unusual because other studies frequently show that it’s an INSIDE job.  But the sophistication of external attacks has gone up.  Organized criminals have computers running, night and day, looking for a way in to PC’s across the planet.  If there’s a hole in security, they WILL find it.  The worst news is that many companies didn’t find the problem until months, or YEARS later.  Listen, if you have a business, and you store ANY information about your customers, you need to be proactive about your PC security, both inside and out.  Your customers will be TICKED if you have a breach.  Find a good IT company or person to help you get ahead of the game.  I have clients that pay me to come out every month for a “checkup” just to make sure everything is OK.  Don’t just wait around for it to happen; that can be much more costly in the long run.  Here’s the full article… thanks Network World!

Sub-branding

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis February 21st, 2012

How do you know who made your product?  Sometimes it’s REALLY hard to tell.  Sub-branding is a pretty common practice in the business world. And it’s not just parent companies sub-branding their own stuff.   A company will purchase a product from elsewhere, in bulk, with an agreement that they can put a new label on it with THEIR name to resell.  Back when Dell first started selling Dell-branded printers, I found out they were just sub-branding Lexmark printers.  BAD idea!  Lexmark, at the time, was the one of the worst printers on the market (in my opinion) so I stopped buying Dell printers.  Since then they’ve started manufacturing their own, and they have some decent products.    Here at TPCD we sub-brand services; like the tool we use to remotely connect to our customers.  It looks like our software, but it’s not.  We pay a pretty penny to license from a German software maker.  But the quality of the product is so high that it would be silly for us to re-invent the wheel.  In many cases it’s like a contractor who builds a home – he/she will use MANY subcontractors and service companies, but you’ll likely NEVER see the name of any of those.  Only the primary.  So sometimes it pays to do a little research and ask questions to make sure that you get good quality.

Facebook IPO

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis February 19th, 2012

Should you invest?  The initial public offering of stock by Facebook has been the hot topic of the business world for a few weeks now.  I’ve read a lot of opinions, and been asked by several people to weigh in, so here goes:  at this point I think it would be VERY dangerous to buy the stock.  The biggest issue, in my mind, is that the success of the company depends on popularity.  Let’s be honest here:  the attention span of the average American is about … ooo what was that?  Oh.  What was I saying?  :-)  Seriously, does anyone even REMEMBER MySpace?  They started this fad, after all.  Add to that the VERY high expectations of success, and the fact that Zuckerberg refuses to give any control to the stockholders, and I see a recipe for disaster (unless you plan to sell short).  Internet companies like this have very little brick and mortar capitol invested, so it’s basically just a high priced IDEA.  Throw in the fact that the staff virtually ignores the users, and I see a failure looming.  Have you ever tried to get help on Facebook from the company?  If so, you know how frustrating it is.  There are no phone numbers, no chat options…nothing.  At best you can send an email and HOPE they respond.  For more detailed analysis here is an article describing how people don’t trust them (thanks Daily Ticker).  Here’s another with lots of financial details (very nice analysis by Aswath Damodaran) .

Vista to WIN 7 upgrades

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis September 3rd, 2011

VistaWindows Vista was a nightmare for everyone involved.  If you have it on any of your PC’s, I highly recommend upgrading to Windows 7.  But upgrade paths for Windows Vista and 7 are weird.  For example, if you have Windows Vista Ultimate you can’t (according to Microsoft) upgrade to Windows 7 Pro.  Even though for all PRACTICAL purposes you already have a product that’s BEYOND Windows Vista Business (the equivalent of 7 or XP Pro).  It’s really pretty silly.  BUT there’s good news; all you have to do is modify the registry in two places and it will do the upgrade.  WARNING:  MODIFYING THE WINDOWS REGISTRY CAN CAUSE YOUR SYSTEM TO BECOME UNSTABLE OR CRASH!  (So be careful and back up prior).  Here’s an article that describes the changes you should make.

PDF vs Fax

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis August 31st, 2011

As recently as 5 years ago, businesses did a LOT of their work via FAX.  Everybody had a fax machine, and most businesses had a dedicated phone line for it.  But times have changed.  In 2008 Adobe released the rights to the PDF format to the world.  This meant that you didn’t have to buy Adobe Acrobat in order to create this wildly popular document type.  Nowadays, a lot of programs can convert your paperwork to a PDF, including Microsoft Office.  This means that people don’t have to fax any more, they can just send information attached to an email.  This has helped a lot of offices ”go paperless” and save money in other ways, like dropping one of their phone lines.  One of the cool things that I miss from Adobe Acrobat was the PDF printer.  It would install a fake printer whose only job was to make ANYTHING printable turn into a PDF!  You can still have this wonderful feature – for free!  Here’s a link to the program called PDFCreator.  By the way, when you look for good, free software, watch for the “Open Source under the GNU Public License”.

Databases

Helpful Hints | Posted by Dennis January 28th, 2011

What’s a database (DB)?  It’s a way to organize information so that it can easily be viewed, organized, and accessed.  It allows you to keep track of all the relationships between each piece of data (so they’re sometimes called RELATIONAL databases).  Most PC users are already using a “canned” DB of some type or another.  Financial software for your books or taxes are a common example.  But did you know you can create your own?  MS Access or OpenOffice Base are two database programs that allow you to create ANY kind of database you want, from Movie Collections to Recipes.  A lot of small businesses start by building Excel spreadsheets or Word templates for all their common documents (invoices, etc.) but this can quickly get out of hand once they have a lot of customers.  That’s a good time to change to a database.  They’re designed to handle HUGE amounts of data with minimum clutter and maximum tracking.  There are almost ALWAYS a pre-made, or canned, version of DB’s for any type of business or activity you can imagine, but if you have the time, or know a good tech, it’s better to build your own.  Then you get EXACTLY what you want/need instead of conforming to some programmer’s ideas.