Office 2007 is a mixed bag or tricks. Some of the system is great and other area's are just too different for people to want to figure out and use. I love Outlook 2007 and cannot live without the real time searching, but there are still simple things I used to do in Word, that I have no clue how to do in Word 2007. Oh well that is my problem to figure out, but above and beyond the usability issues of the programs themselves, a bigger issue is that Office 2007 uses a new file format structure and something saved in Office 2007 will not work in the older versions of Office. This can be very frustrating having worked on a document and saving it just to have another use not be able to open the document at all. Then you need to re-open your doc and save it as the older version of Word and worse, remember to do that each time you create a document.
Luckily, Microsoft has learned throughout the years that nearly no one converts all of their users to a new version of Office at the same time so they create software updates for older versions of Office that can deal with the new versions of Office. If you have any users on Office 2007, it might be a good idea to install the Office 2007 Compatibility Pack on the users who are not working in the Office 2007 programs. This could alleviate a lot of future headaches when it comes time to sharing files.
Give it a try!
No one likes SPAM. I used to tolerate it, but now that I get over 100 a day, it is really beginning to get on my nerves. I'm not sure who actually buys anything from those incessant emails for replica OmegaRoexWatches, VIP Casino, V1agra!, and all of the other crap that is being pitched, but the reality is that people do buy things which is why we all get them.
The amount of SPAM most companies get is obscene. Over a 1 week period our SPAM software flagged 75% of all email as spam adding up to over 5,000 messages. We have client with about 100 users that was at 74% SPAM and over 24,000 messages. Things do look bleak when it comes to dealing with SPAM.
So what can be done to stop or at least reduce, spam besides educating everyone on the Internet to not buy anything from a spam message? Below are some of the general options out there to help. My take on this is that nothing is perfect since I want system will block spam before it ever hits my server, allow me to review my spam message easily from within Outlook, allow me to easily flag messages as spam or not as spam, and do an exceptional job at catching what needs to be caught while letting the real messages through.
- Server based - This setup has you buy and install software on your email server to then filter spam. It normally works well with little server overhead or management needed and allows you to see all of the messages that have been flagged as spam in your account in order to grab the false positives, but the downside is that all of the spam is still making it to your server and taking up you server and Internet resources. GFI is an example of this kind of service.
- Hosted - This option is becoming more and more popular since the hosted provider deals with the spam and only send along the "real" emails to your email account. The upside is that Postini is an example of this kind of service.
- Intermediary - This is another hosted service, but the way it works is a bit different from the above. With this system, if someone sends you an email, the send gets an auto reply for them to go to a website and authenticate themselves before the message makes it to you. It is an easy enough process of clicking on a link and filling in a field with some pass code info that is on the page, and then you are done. The problem I have with this kind of service is that it impacts the people who are trying to email me, along with the spammers. I really do not want to bother the real people sending me emails even if it is a one time thing. This is however a very affective option for almost completely reducing spam. ChoiceMail is an example of this kind of service.
- Built in to Exchange server and Outlook - This works, but it is VERY basic for options. The standard setup rejects anything that it determines is spam thus rejecting any false positives that may come along. You do have the option to have anything it finds as spam sent to another mailbox or public folder for review, but just imagine the pain involved with looking for a false positive in the pool of EVERYONE's spam message. for the life of me I cannot figure out why the Exchange server spam engine cannot just work in conjunction with the Outlook spam filter. This would deliver a very affective solution since the Outlook spam filter does a pretty good job and allows users to very easily flag messages as spam or safe.
So why do you get spam in the first place? The frustrating part is that most spam happens by you just doing your normal course of business. For example, if you put your email address on your website, spammers will search the web for these and add it to the database. Once it hits a spam database, it can end up on a lot of other ones so it can spiral out of control. A lot of website make people use an email address for their own marketing needs, but often these get sold to spammers as well.
Any other ideas for reducing spam? I know people that have multiple email address which allow them to use specific emails address for specific needs. So if you need to use an email address for a website, you use one of the bogus ones that you do not care about getting spam. This works well, but then you need to remember and think about which email address to use and then manage multiple mailboxes.
If anyone out there has the perfect service or tool, please create a comment to this blog entry. I would love to know what others are using to see if there is something better out there for our clients to use.
I think everyone remembers the day they get a new computer. It boots up almost immediately, rarely crashes, programs open quickly, and you are in the world of no pop-ups, viruses, or spyware. It seems that after less than a year, your technology utopia degrades to more of a reluctant acceptance of a mediocre computer experience.
So why does this happen?
Simply put, no one is managing your computers. When was the last time any general maintenance was done to your computer (defragging your hard drive, running scandisk, deleting temp files, etc.)? Do you have all of the latest Windows and Office updates? Do you run spyware and virus scans on a regular basis? Most people do not do the basics on their computer and over time, it will degrade the performance.
So what can you do?
- For starters, you can hire Waident to manage your technology. A core part of our technology managed plan is doing general proactive maintenance on all of your equipment so everyone has a computer that is in optimal working condition. We monitor, report, run routine maintenance after hours, and provide end users with people to call for anything they need, among a host of other services that are a part of the managed plan. Enough of the sales pitch for now : )
- Or you can rebuild your PC's on a regular basis. This is actually not a terribly bad idea if you have the polices in place to accomplish this. You can create an image of a standard fully configured computer and push that out. Many large companies do this. The downside is that the end users go through some suffering if they customized their computer in any way. I do not recommend doing this overall since it does impact the end users, but I like to enforce the ability to do this if someones PC is so inoperable that it will take a long time to manually fix.
- Or you can run the maintenance routines yourself. Easy enough to do, but if you are doing it manually it can be time consuming. There is also no easy way to globally report off of who has done what to their computer so what ends up happening is that if someone complains that their PC is acting up, you end up doing the general maintenance first anyway which just takes more time away from the user being productive.
Do you want to know how well your PC's are doing?
Give me a call or email for a free technology audit and review. We can invisibly scan all of your computers to check for missing Microsoft updates, needed maintenance routines, and other key criteria to then hand you a health report on existing computer infrastructure. The results may surprise you.
Verizon, and now Sprint, are starting to offer unlimited usage plans for their cell phones and PDA devices. This in itself, can end up saving a lot of money if you have some heavy users (read the fine print though since the dollars for these plans start to go up quite a bit as you add services). But even without this, there are ways to save a lot of money on your company wireless bill that could add up to thousands of dollars a year.
For most of our clients, we recommend reviewing their cell phone bills and go over the below to determine if there is any money that can be saved by make a few changes to their policy and accounts.
- Get all of your users on a company wide plan. All to often, companies allow their employees to maintain personal plans and then expense the charges. Nowadays it is easy to move cell phone numbers between carriers so there are not big roadblocks to putting people on your plan or moving them off if ever needed.
- Get everyone on a shared pool of cell phone minutes plan. Most peoples usages varies from month to month so why not leverage the ability for carriers to handle this wile saving you money but globally reducing all of the devices in the plan to a lower monthly minute plan. In the end, everyone can still make the calls they did before, but now the pool handles the ups and downs.
- Worry about your users needs - Not very many people need text messaging for business use since corporate users have Blackberry's and Windows Mobile devices that do email, but most people today have one device and do not want to carry around two phones. Text messaging is often the norm for communicating with friends and family so think about allowing an allotment of text messages for users rather than restricting it all together. Trust me, it is a pain to review the bill every month and then have accounting chase down the text message users. This is not a win/win situation and you will quickly realize that nearly all of your users are doing some text messaging and it will be cheaper (and a level of good will) to just make it a part of the plan.
- Choose the best carrier for your needs - All of the national carriers have their good and bad sides. Verizon seems to be tops in not dropping calls and fast data connectivity, but they are expensive compared to T-Mobile. T-Mobile seems to be the least expensive carrier, but has the slowest data network. But there is also Sprint, AT&T and others in the mix to look at. Moving to a different carrier usually means getting a new device so be prepared for the capital expenditure for that if you decide to make the move. Relating to that, if your users move from a personal plan to a business plan, often there can be termination charge for that as well. Even with these extra charges, doing the ROI for this will often still make sense so it is worth the exercise.
Now, go out and get your wireless bills and start doing the math to see how much money you can save!