Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Making Fast, Consistent Changes in Microsoft Word

Fun with Find and Replace

Find and Replace is a basic, and too often overlooked, feature in Microsoft Word. Here we’ll step you through just a few operations you can perform with Find and Replace that will eliminate a lot of editorial tedium and prevent overlooked details.

Curly vs. Straight Quotes: Have you ever pasted something from Notepad into a regular Word file and ended up with something that looks like this?

Here's a sentence of two from Notepad. Notice the "straight" quotes and apostrophe. Now here’s the existing text in Word. See how the quotes are “curly”?

Unformatted Notepad text has quotes and apostrophes that stick straight up and down. Formatted Word text has quotes and apostrophes that angle in to set off the words they surround. When curly and straight quotes mix on the page, 99% of readers won’t notice or care. The remaining 1% hate this sort of inconsistency. So if you’re one of those sticklers, here’s how to fix it:

1.        Press Ctrl + H to bring up the Find and Replace box.

2.        Enter an apostrophe in both the Find and Replace fields.

3.        Select Replace All.

4.        Word will change all the straight apostrophes to curly apostrophes, and will leave the curly apostrophes alone.

5.        Repeat these steps for quotation marks.

Replacing Text with Graphics: Suppose you’re working on a document where you want to replace instances of a company name with a graphic of its logo. It requires a few more steps than your typical Find and Replace, but here’s how to do it.

1.        Insert the logo somewhere into the text. It can be anywhere. You just need to click on it and press Ctrl + V to copy the image onto your Clipboard and remove it from the text.

2.        Now press Ctrl + H to bring up the Find and Replace box.

3.        Enter the company name in the Find field.

4.        Put the cursor in the Replace field. Click the More button in the lower left-hand corner, then click Special and select Clipboard Contents (see below).

  1. Click Replace or Replace All, depending on whether or not you want to replace every instance of the company name.

Case-Sensitive Find and Replace. This is useful if you’re working on a document which contains both capitalized and lower-case versions of the same word. Suppose you’re writing about a trademarked product whose name includes some very common word. You need to make sure the trademark symbol appears after the product name, but not after every instance of the word. For example:

Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees look just like real trees – but cats don’t have to go outdoors to climb them. Models include pecan, walnut, and willow trees. Try Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees when you’re tired of calling the fireman to get that pesky cat out of your tree!

To make sure Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees™ is properly trademarked while ensuring that “trees” is not, do the following:

  1. Insert the trademark symbol after Trees.
  2. Highlight Trees™ and press Ctrl + C.
  3. Press Ctrl + H to bring up the Find and Replace box.
  4. Type Trees in the Find field.
  5. Click in the Replace field and press Ctrl + V to paste.
  6. Click More.
  7. Check off the box that says “Match Case.” This will ensure that the computer will only look for capitalized instances of “Trees.”

  1. Click Replace All. In order to avoid trademarking generic instances of “trees” when they start a sentence (for example, “Trees are something cats love”), click Find Next so that you can approve each replacement individually. Or search on the whole phrase “Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees” and do a Replace All with “Miss Kitty’s Cat Trees™”.

Don’t go combing through long documents when you have global changes to make – you’ll go cross-eyed with boredom and probably miss some crucial details. The Find and Replace function can make your life a whole lot easier


Friday, December 14, 2007

Creating Bold, Professional Excel Charts

Produce Clear, Attractive Charts in Excel

Whether it was at a conference, a business meeting, a Webinar, or over email, chances are you have been forced to look at some very unattractive charts in the course of doing business. Blame it on Excel and its evil stepsister, PowerPoint. These programs give users so many presentation options – column, line, bar, or pie graph, to name a few – that it’s no wonder people have on occasion made some bad choices. In this QuickTip, we’ll show you how to avoid creating eyesores like this:

1.       First off, think about the information you want to convey. This sample chart was made for a company whose gross income grew steadily over the first half of the year, but whose net income dipped in April due to unforeseen expenses. Column charts and line graphs are great for comparing simultaneous trends, so the author made a good decision in selecting a column chart. The mistake was in introducing so many wacky perspectives, shapes, and competing fonts and colors that they obscured the trends in the data.

2.       Just because it’s an option doesn’t mean you should use it. Once you’ve figured out how to access them, it can be tempting to use gradients, fills, borders, and a variety of fonts. But remember that clarity is key, and that clarity depends on simplicity. Don’t use more than one font type, keep colors sedate, and don’t use 3D charts unless they’re really necessary.

3.       If you’re using Excel 2007, trust the default. Some very wise designers have gone in and made the default chart settings soothing and attractive to the eye. Here is the data from the chart above, rendered in default Excel 2007 style:

To create this chart in Excel 2007, follow these simple steps:

1.       Input your data.

2.       Highlight your data, then go to the Insert menu and select the Column button. Select Clustered Column from the drop-down menu.

3.       Your chart will appear. If you want to investigate other chart types, just right-click on the chart.

4.       Select Change Chart Type for other chart options.

Excel 2007 makes charting easier by giving you big, easy buttons to push instead of making you wade through layer after layer of menus. And the default designs mean that you don’t have to be Michelangelo to produce an attractive chart. If you haven’t upgraded to Office 2007, now might be the right time. Get a great start to the New Year! Contact CMIT Solutions to find out more.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Creating Search Folders in Outlook 2003 and 2007

Use Search Folders to Group Messages by Sender, Topic, Keyword, and More

The Search Folder is an easy way to organize your correspondence without actually shuffling copies of messages between folders in Outlook 2003 and 2007. For example, say you’ve been working with someone on several different projects. You might keep a folder in Outlook under the name of each project.  But with a saved search folder, you can put together a virtual copy of all the messages you’ve sent to that person and received from them, regardless of which project it related to.

Here’s how to do it:

1.       Go to the New button on your toolbar and click the arrow for the drop-down menu.

2.       Select Search Folder.

3.       You’ll see a number of Search Folder options. You can organize them according to whether they’re flagged or not, who sent the message, how large any attachments are, and a host of other options. You can also customize folders by more advanced criteria.

4.       Say you want to create a folder for all of your communication with a particular person. Select Mail from and sent to specific people under the Mail from People and Lists column. Then select Choose.

5.       Type in the person’s name in the From or Sent to field at the bottom. It doesn’t have to be their actual address. Click OK, and click OK again to close out of the Search Folder menu.

6.       You’ll see a new Search Folder listed in your mailbox that will contain all of your correspondence with that person.

The real value of the Saved Search folder is that it collects messages sent and received messages, so you don’t have to go trolling through your Sent Items to get a full picture of every conversation. And when a particular folder isn’t useful to you anymore, you can go ahead and delete it – the original messages remain intact regardless of what happens to the Search Folder.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the capabilities of recent releases of Office. If you haven’t upgraded, now might be the right time.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

QuickTips on Preventative Maintenance

Banish the Blue Screen of Death with Preventative Maintenance

Yes, this is the "eat your vegetables" lecture where we explain why it's important to act on computer-related problems before they spiral out of control. Has your computer been running slowly lately? Are you getting strange error messages when you try certain operations? Don't wait for the dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) to start thinking about patches, updates, and other routine maintenance tasks.

If you're waiting until something's broken until you fix it, you're already too late. Technology-related downtime means lost productivity, lost revenue opportunities, and increased IT expenses. And while we at CMIT Solutions love coming to the rescue in any computer emergency, the fact is that most "emergencies" don't have to happen. A little time and investment up front can save big expenses later on.

But it's a pain to sit down and make sure every computer on your network is patched and updated and current on licenses, right? You've got a busy life and a lot of more pressing concerns than installing the latest Internet Explorer update.

That's why you should look into a service that can perform monitoring and maintenance, nipping many of the most common network problems in the bud. A good, basic preventative maintenance program will include the following:

  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Remote remediation
  • Automatic software patches and updates
  • Virus and spyware detection and removal

Services like CMIT Marathon charge a low monthly rate that pales in comparison to what you'd otherwise spend on emergency IT calls. You can offload the burden of troubleshooting, securing, and maintaining your company's network and concentrate on the important things - like actually running your business.

For more information on CMIT Marathon, click here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

QuickTips on Productivity Tools

Clip Utilities Make It Fast and Easy to do Multiple Copy-and-Pastes

Have you ever lost an important phone number, address, or piece of data because you copied it and then forgot to paste it before copying something else? Do you find yourself filling out the same Web forms over and over again, copying and pasting the same few data fields? Then you need a utility that can store multiple copied items.


If you use Copy, Cut, or Paste commands in Windows, you're using the Windows Clipboard. It's a handy utility, but it has a few shortcomings. It only stores one item at a time, so each new copy replaces the last. It forgets things you copied in between sessions -- shutting off your computer effectively wipes your Clipboard clean. And you can't easily preview data in the Clipboard; you have to do a Paste to see what's on there.


Fortunately, a number of free and paid clip utilities can store and edit the text, images, or URLS you frequently copy and paste. Think of them as your usual clipboard on steroids. They keep a record of the last several items you’ve copied so that you can just paste them at the click of a button. Take a look at one of Download.com’s most popular clip utilities, 

the M8 Free Multi Clipboard.

This utility gives you a preview of the clip you’re about to paste. Just click where you want it to go, and voila. It works for up to 25 clips of graphics, text, URLs, you name it. And it lets you paste JPEGs straight into an Outlook email instead of forcing you to attach them.

Paid utilities offer even more functionality. Rose City Software’s Clip Cache Pro allows you to edit and format clips on the fly. For example, it can strip the indentations out of forwarded emails to render them readable again.

The big benefit of these utilities is that, instead of spending your life hitting Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, and instead of hunting for that one URL you copied down a few hours ago, you’ll have all those snippets at your fingertips. Go to Download.com for more free utilities and check out Lifehacker.com for personal productivity tips.

FW: QuickTips on Foiling Spam at Work from Evan Stein

Don't Let Spam Wreck Your Business

Even small businesses have to be on the Web these days, and chances are you rely pretty heavily on mobile devices - cell phones, PDAs, or laptops - to get your work done.  That means spammers have more ways than ever to reach you.  Here are a few spam and spam-related annoyances you should be aware of, and how to fix them:

Regular old spam.  Spammers have two main ways to get your address: they either auto-generate random addresses, hoping they'll reach a real inbox, or they harvest addresses from Web sites.  There's nothing you can do about auto generators, but you can make it harder for spammers to figure out what your email address is.  Wherever you list your contact information on your corporate Web site, make sure to render your email address in a form that people can make sense of but that will stump automated crawlers looking for typical email configurations.  For example, instead of displaying your email address as "info@company.com", type it out in words as "info at company dot com".  Better yet, just include a web form for people to fill out if they want more information.  The people who want to reach your company will fill out the form, and the unsavory types (and robots) will give up and move on to the next potential victim.

Image spam. Spammers have long since gotten wise to the fact that filters catch many of their keywords and intentional misspellings.  So now, instead of text emails, spammers send out emails that look like text when in fact they're HTML code that displays the image of text.  As a result, it slips by all of your company's keyword filters ...but you can still read the message and be annoyed by it.  Fortunately, most email programs now allow you to turn off automatic HTML rendering, which prevents you from downloading the image in the first place.

Bluetooth spam.  If you use a Bluetooth-enabled phone, you're at risk for two kinds of hassle - one of which is merely an annoyance and one of which is illegal.  "Bluejacking" allows someone with a Bluetooth-enabled device to push an unsolicited message to anyone else on a Bluetooth device within range.  You might be on the receiving end of some goofy guerilla marketing campaigns and your phone bill might go up if you get a barrage of unexpected text messages, but you're unlikely to suffer permanent harm.  "Bluesnarfing," on the other hand, can actually be dangerous to your privacy.  This is when another Bluetooth user actually accesses and steals the information on your phone such as your contacts and any other personal data you have stored on it.  Right now it's not a huge problem, because the thief has to maintain uninterrupted contact with your device at close range (about 10 meters) for 2-3 minutes.  That sets the bar pretty high for all but the most committed data hounds.  Still, if you're worried about it, you can disable Bluetooth when you aren't using it (which saves battery life anyhow) or make yourself "undiscoverable" (meaning you're undetectable to other Bluetooth devices).

Can You Stop Spam for Good?

Unfortunately, spam is - like cold calls and carpal tunnel syndrome - just a part of doing business in the modern age.  But you can take measures to ensure you aren't wasting valuable work hours deleting piles of emails you never asked for.

First, fly low on the radar: make sure your Web site publishes your email address in a form that's only readable to humans, and disable your mobile device's Bluetooth when you aren't using it.  Second, sign yourself up for a reliable spam filtering service that will catch the unsolicited email you receive and route it to a junk mail box so that you don't have to look at it.  CMIT Solutions' Spam Filtering Service with Total Control offers easy, reliable spam protection for a low monthly cost. 


Practical Cybersecurity Advice

Practical Cybersecurity Advice for Small Businesses

Just because your business is small, it doesn't mean you are immune to Internet threats. The number of attacks on small businesses is growing, leaving many business operations in a state of disarray.

If your small business is like many, it is extremely dependent upon technology and electronically stored data. Many of the steps you need to take to secure your information infrastructure won't cost your business money, or even much time.

The following are practical considerations and security precautions you should take to maintain the security of your information assets.

  • Use Strong Passwords — Passwords are the most common method of authenticating users to provide entry into a computer system. Cracking passwords is a way hackers can gain unauthorized access to your computer network. For that reason, you need a strong password that is hard to guess.  A strong password is at least eight characters and includes a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, digits, and symbols. Sometimes trying to integrate that combination can create some not-so-easy-to-remember passwords. Here's a tip that might help create a more memorable password: Try replacing S's with dollar signs ($) and O's with zeros (0). Require users to employ a different password for each service or system they are accessing, and make sure everyone changes passwords every 45-60 days. And finally, do not write down passwords and leave them lying out in the open.
  • Be a Smart Email User — Email is fraught with potential security risks—in fact, most security threats are spread by email. Even if you have an antivirus solution in place, occasionally an infected message will manage to get through. To avoid infection, you should never use the preview pane function in your email program, never open attachments in emails from unknown senders, and even if you recognize the sender, you should still scrutinize the attachments before opening. If the attachment ends in an unusual extension—do not open it. Spam is also a prevalent problem and for that reason, you should never open junk mail. Do not reply to unsolicited emails, even if you are trying to unsubscribe—this only lets the spammers know that you have successfully received their message so they will continue to send more spam. Also, be on the lookout for phishing scams—emails that look like legitimate messages from places—such as banks that try to get you to divulge your personal information. Do not perpetuate spam by forwarding virus warnings and chain letters you receive-via email.
  • Be Alert When Browsing the Web — Be careful and alert when you are on the Internet—otherwise you could expose your business to unnecessary threats. Enable the security settings on your Web browser—you can usually find these settings in the Preferences menu. Do not enable file sharing, which can open the door to viruses and intrusion. You should also be very cautious when giving out personal information online. Even though a Web site claims to be secure, if you don't see a small padlock or key icon in the toolbar, and the page's URL does not begin with https: rather than http:, do not provide any sensitive information. That's because the page is not secure, and the information you provide will not be encrypted and thus vulnerable to interception. And whatever you do, do not click on any pop-up advertisements.
  • Use Antivirus Software — Antivirus software is still the best way to stay protected against today's viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. Antivirus software should be installed on all servers, desktops, and laptops—including devices used to make remote connections to your network. Remember, simply having the antivirus installed is not enough—for maximum protection from the latest threats, you should check for new virus definitions daily, and also perform weekly system scans.
  • Use a Firewall — Think about all of the important and sensitive information that lives in your small business network. Did you know that whenever you connect a computer to the Internet, a pipeline directly into your network opens up? Without a firewall, you are putting that information at risk. A firewall is essentially a protective wall around your network that keeps the information inside the network private and secure by constantly monitoring all data flowing in and out, looking for irregularities or signs of trouble. Be sure to use a network firewall, and also install a personal firewall on each computer. If you or your employees are accessing your network remotely, make sure the remote devices are equipped with a firewall because they will not be protected by the network firewall. Firewalls are available as software or hardware, and although they perform almost the same function, every small business should have both kinds. Excerpts from Symantec Small Business Library.


QuickTips on Date/Time in MS Office

Current Date and Time

Use these keyboard shortcuts to easily insert the current date and time into your Microsoft Office documents.

Microsoft Word

  • Alt + Shift + D will insert the current date into your document.
  • Alt + Shift + T will insert the current time into your document.

Microsoft PowerPoint

  • Use either of the above key combinations for MS Word to bring up the Date and Time window where you can choose what format to insert the current date and time onto your PowerPoint slide.


Microsoft Excel

  • Ctrl + ; (semicolon) will insert the current date into your worksheet.
  • Ctrl + Shift + : (colon) will insert the current time into your worksheet.

And speaking of date and time... Remember Daylight Saving Time (DST) will end on November 4, 2007.  

It is important to make sure that your computer systems are appropriately updated to reflect the changes in Daylight Saving Time this year.  Pay particular attention to appointments you have scheduled on your computer between October 28 to November 4.


Microsoft Outlook Email Tips

Here are a few quick tips from CMIT to customize your use of Microsoft Outlook. These tricks will help you manage that email inbox when there are so many messages coming and going in a normal business day.

Do you ever wish you could set yourself a reminder to reply to an email? Here's how:
  1. Right-click the message you want to set the reminder for.
  2. Point to Follow Up.
  3. Click Add Reminder.
  4. In the Due By list, click the date when you have to complete the reply.
  5. In the second list, click a time.
  6. In the Flag Color list, click the flag color you want.
  7. Click OK.

Is there any way to add your own words to a follow-up flag on a new message? Yes, there is! Follow these simple steps.

  1. Click the Message Flag button.
  2. Type the text you want in the Flag to box.

Send your message to multiple people without revealing other recipients' identities. This one is important for following good email etiquette.

  1. Use the Bcc line in the message.
  2. Bcc stands for Blind Carbon Copy.
  3. If you add someone's name to the Bcc line, a copy of the message is sent to that person, but his or her name is not visible to other recipients.

Bcc is not showing up in the New Message window. How do you add it?

  1. If you have Microsoft Office Outlook 2007: In the new message, on the Message Options tab, in the Fields group, click Show Bcc.
  2. If you have Microsoft Outlook 2002 or 2003 and Microsoft Word is your email editor: Click the arrow to the right of the Options button, then click Bcc.
  3. If you have Microsoft Outlook 2002 or 2003 and Outlook is your email editor: On the View menu, click Bcc Field.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Daylight Saving Time Ends November 4th

Important Notice:

Daylight Saving Time (DST) began three weeks early this year, on March 11, 2007 and will end a week later than normal, on November 4, 2007.

It is important to make sure that your computer systems are appropriately updated to reflect the changes in Daylight Saving Time this year. Pay particular attention to appointments you have scheduled on your computer between October 28 to November 4.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

SPAM - The Pesky Inbox Problem

Spam, the unsolicited email you receive more often than not. It's usually commercial advertising and frequently for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or illegal services.

Identifying the culprit

The first step in combating the onslaught of spam is to know it when you see it. If you're lucky, you can identify spam based on its subject line. If it's offering you a lower mortgage, a date with Trixie, or free $$$, you know it's spam. But be careful, because spammers often are very clever and make the subject line something you might click on, such as "FWD: great punch line." So, even if the subject line looks harmless, your best bet is to just delete it if you don't recognize the email address of which it came from.

Many spammers also fake the name of the sender with something common such as "Joe." Is this an email from Grandpa? Or maybe it's from your co-worker? You don't know, and the spammer counts on your curiosity. Also be sure to check the date it was sent. Most inboxes are sorted by time, so spammers may send messages to the top of the list by changing the date to several days earlier or later. Worse yet, some spammers will fake an email as being from someone you trust, such as a national bank or a well-known online retailer. It's all pretty sneaky.

Handling the evidence

Once you've identified a message as spam, don't just delete it. Here's what to do (and what not to do) when you have unwanted email on your hands.
  • First, identify spam to your email provider. Companies like America Online (AOL), Microsoft (MSN/Hotmail), and Yahoo! stop a significant amount of spam using email filters, so make sure your filter is on. Once it's activated, it will funnel unwanted messages into a Bulk Mail or Junk Mail folder.
  • Never, ever open an attachment from a suspicious email. It may contain a virus that could wipe out everything on your PC. To compound the damage, it could duplicate the virus and send it to everyone in your email address book, potentially destroying their machines as well.
  • Don't forward unknown email. Sometimes spam will have a fake "To" or "From" field. Since it appears that the email was erroneously sent to you, the spammer hopes you'll read it and hopefully forward it along. Don't.
  • Resist the temptation to unsubscribe. Sometimes clicking a link that promises to unsubscribe you lets the spammer know that your email address is valid, which means you might be spammed even more.

Handy prevention tips

The best way to fight spam is to keep it from arriving in your inbox in the first place. Here are some tips for preventing unwanted email.

  • Don't post your email address online. Spammer software scans newsgroups, web sites, and web forums looking for email addresses. if you post in such places, disguise your email address.
  • Don't give out your email address unless you know how it will be used. Read a site's privacy policy (such as CMIT's Online Privacy Statement) to learn about the company. If they don't have a privacy statement, you probably shouldn't trust them with your address.
  • Never buy anything advertised in spam. Even if you happen to be looking for a lower mortgage rate, don't look for it in junk email. Chances are the services advertised are bogus anyway. Respected loan companies don't randomly flood inboxes.
  • Update your address book. Make sure that the people you want to have contact with are in your address book: your friends, family, business associates, and companies you've requested email from. Most email systems have a filter, so messages may not be delivered into a recipient's inbox unless the sender's email address is included in their address book.

Remember to keep reporting spam to your Internet service provider so they can track key offenders. If we all work together, spam may again become just a canned meat product!

The Top Ten Reasons CMIT Loves PowerPoint 2007

Now that we've reviewed top ways Word 2007 and Excel 2007 can help you create professional-looking content, PowerPoint 2007 also has many benefits and new features. PowerPoint enables users to quickly create high-impact, dynamic presentations while integrating security-enhanced workflow and ways to easily share this information.

Here are the top 10 ways PowerPoint 2007 can help you increase productivity and improve collaboration.

Get better results faster with the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface.

The redesigned look and feel of the Office Fluent user interface makes creating, presenting, and sharing presentations an easier and more intuitive experience. Rich features and capabilities are presented in a streamlined, uncluttered workspace that minimizes distraction and enables people to achieve the results they want more quickly and easily.

Create powerful, dynamic SmartArt diagrams.

Easily create high-impact and dynamic workflow, relationship, or hierarchy diagrams from within Office PowerPoint 2007. You can even convert a bulleted list into a SmartArt diagram, or modify and update existing diagrams. It's easy for users to take advantage of rich formatting options with new contextual diagramming menus.

Easily reuse content with Office PowerPoint 2007 Slide Libraries.

Wish there was a better way to reuse content from one presentation to another? With PowerPoint Slide Libraries, you can store presentations as individual slides on a site supported by Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and easily repurpose the content later within Office PowerPoint 2007. Not only does this cut down the time you spend creating presentations, but any slides you insert can remain synchronized with the server version, so your content is always up to date.

Communicate with users across platforms and devices.

Help ensure broad communication with your PowerPoint presentations by converting your files to XPS and PDF files for sharing with users on any platform.

Use custom layouts to assemble presentations more quickly.

In Office PowerPoint 2007, you can define and save your own custom slide layouts so you no longer have to waste valuable time cutting and pasting your layouts onto new slides or deleting content on a slide with your desired layout. With PowerPoint Slide Libraries, it is easy to share these custom slides with others so that your presentations have a consistent and professional look and feel.

Accelerate your review processes using Office PowerPoint 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007.

With built-in workflow capabilities in Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can initiate, manage, and track review and approval processes from within Office PowerPoint 2007, enabling people to accelerate presentation review cycles across the organization without requiring them to learn new tools.

Uniformly format your presentations with Document Themes.

Document Themes enable you to change the look and feel of your entire presentation with just one click. Changing the theme of your presentation not only changes the background color, but also the colors, styles, and fonts of the diagrams, tables, charts, shapes and text within your presentation has a professional and consistent look and feel.

Dramatically modify shapes, text, and graphics with new SmartArt graphics tools and effects.

You can manipulate and work with your text, tables, charts, and other presentations elements in richer ways than ever before. Office PowerPoint 2007 makes these tools readily available through the streamlined user interface and contextual menus, so that in just a few clicks, your work can have greater impact.

Add more security to your PowerPoint presentations.

You can now add a digital signature to your PowerPoint presentations to help ensure their contents are not changed after they leave your hands, or you can mark a presentation as "final" to prevent inadvertent changes. Using content controls, you can create and deploy structured PowerPoint templates that guide users into entering the correct information, while helping protect and preserve the information in the presentation that shouldn't be changed.

Reduce your document sizes and improve file recovery at the same time.

The new, compressed Microsoft Office PowerPoint XML Format offers a dramatic reduction in file size while also offering an improvement in data recovery for damaged files. This new format provides a tremendous savings to storage and bandwidth requirements and reduces the burden on IT costs.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Ten Reasons To Love Excel 2007

Now that we've reviewed top ways Word 2007 can help you create professional-looking content, Excel 2007 also has many benefits and new features. Excel is widely used to analyze information and can be a powerful tool for making business decisions.

Here are the top 10 ways Excel 2007 can help you create spreadsheets and analyze, share, and manage information more effectively.

Office Excel 2007 features the Microsoft Office Fluent user interface to help you find powerful tools when you need them.

Find the tools you want wen you need them using the results-oriented Office Fluent user interface in Office Excel 2007. Based on the job you need to accomplish, whether it's creating a table or writing a formula, Office Excel 2007 presents the appropriate commands when you need them.

Import, organize, and explore massive data sets within significantly expanded spreadsheets.

Work with massive amounts of data in Office Excel 2007, which supports spreadsheets that can be up to 1 million rows by 16,000 columns. In addition to the bigger grid, Office Excel 2007 supports multicore processor platforms for faster calculation of formula-intense spreadsheets.

Use the completely redesigned charting engine in Office Excel 2007 to communicate your analysis in professional-looking charts.

Build professional-looking charts faster with fewer clicks using charting tools in the Office Fluent user interface. Apply rich visual enhancements to your charts such as 3-D effects, soft shadowing, and transparency. Create and interact with charts the same way, regardless of the application you are using, because the charting engine in Office Excel 2007 is consistent in Microsoft Office Word 2007 and Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007.

Enjoy improved and powerful support for working tables.

Create, format, expand, filter, and refer to tables within formulas because Office Excel 2007 has greatly improved support for tables. When you're viewing data contained in a large table, Office Excel 2007 keeps table headings in view while you scroll.

Create and work with interactive PivotTable views with ease.

PivotTable views enable you to quickly reorient your data to help you answer multiple questions. Find the answers you need faster and create and use PivotTable views more easily by dragging fields where you want them to be displayed.

"See" important trends and find exceptions in your data.

Apply conditional formatting to your information to your information more easily to discover patterns and highlight trends in your data. New schemes include color gradients, heat maps, data bars, and performance indicator icons.

Use Office Excel 2007 and Excel Services to help share spreadsheets more securely with others.

Excel Services, a feature of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, dynamically renders a spreadsheet as HTML so others can access the information using a Web browser. Because of the high degree of fidelity with the Office Excel 2007 client, Excel Services users can navigate, sort, filter, input parameters, and interact with the information, all within their Web browser.

Help ensure you and your organization work with the most current business information.

Prevent the spread of multiple or outdated copies of a spreadsheet throughout your organization by using Office Excel 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007. Control which users can view and modify spreadsheets on the server using permission-based access.

Reduce the size of spreadsheets and improve damaged file recovery at the same time.

The new, compressed Microsoft Office Excel XML Format offers a dramatic reduction in file size, while its architecture offers an improvement in data recovery for damaged files. This new format provides a tremendous savings to storage and bandwidth requirements, and reduces the burden on IT personnel.

Extend your business intelligence investments because Office Excel 2007 provides full support for Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services.

Take advantage of the flexibility and the new cube functions in Office Excel 2007 to build a custom report from an OLAP database. You can also connect to external sources of data more easily using the Data Connection Library.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Top Ten Reasons to Love Word 2007

When Word 2007 was first introduced last fall, there was a collective groan as people worried they would have to learn to use their word processor all over again. But to our surprise, even though there was a learning curve, Word 2007 provided editing and reviewing tools for creating polished documents more easily than ever before.

Here are the top 10 ways Office Word 2007 can help you create professional-looking content faster.

Spend more time writing and less time formatting

The Office Fluent user interface presents the right tools when you need them, making it easy to format your documents quickly. Now you can find the right features in Office Word 2007 to make your documents communicate more effectively. Using Quick Styles and Document Themes, you can quickly change the appearance of text, tables, and graphics throughout the entire document to match your preferred style or color scheme. The new Ribbon, a component of the Office user interface, groups tools by task, and the commands you use most frequently are close at hand.
  1. Tabs are designed to be task-oriented
  2. Groups within each tab break a task into subtasks
  3. Command buttons in each group carry out a command or display a menu of commands
Communicate more effectively with SmartArt diagrams and new charting tools

New SmartArt diagrams and a new charting engine help you create great-looking content with
3-D shapes, transparency, drop shadows, and other effects.

Quickly assemble documents using Building Blocks

Building Blocks in Office Word 2007 can be used to assemble documents from frequently used or predefined content such as disclaimer text, pull quotes, sidebars, cover pages, and other types of content. This will help ensure you don't spend needless time recreating content or copying and pasting between documents; it also helps ensure consistency across all of the documents created within your organization.

Save as PDF or XPS directly from Office Word 2007

Office Word 2007 offers you a choice for sharing documents with other people. You can convert your Word documents to Portable Document Format (PDF) or XML Paper Specification (XPS) format without the addition of third-party tools to help ensure broad communication with users on any platform.

Publish and maintain blogs directly from Office Word 2007

You can now publish blogs directly from Office Word 2007. You can configure Office Word 2007 to link directly to your blog site, and use the rich Word experience to create blogs with images, tables, and advanced text formatting features.

Master your document review processes using Office Word 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007

With built-in workflow services in Office SharePoint Server 2007, you can initiate and track document review and approval processes from within Office Word 2007 to help accelerate review cycles across your organization without forcing people to learn new tools.

Connect your documents to business information

Create dynamic Smart Documents that update themselves by connecting to your back-end systems using new document controls and data bindings. By using the new XML integration capability, organizations can deploy intelligent templates to assist people in creating highly structured documents.

Remove tracked changes, comments, and hidden text from your documents

Detect and remove unwanted comments, hidden text, or personally identifiable information using the Document Inspector to help ensure that sensitive information doesn't escape when your documents are published.

Use the tri-pane review panel to compare and combine documents

Office Word 2007 makes it easy to find out what changes were made to a document. A new tri-pane review panel helps you see both versions of a document with deleted, inserted, and moved text clearly marked.

Reduce your file sizes and improve corrupt file recovery

The new Ecma Office Open XML Formats offer a dramatic reduction in file sizes as well as improvements in recovery for damaged files. These new formats provide a tremendous savings to storage and bandwidth requirements, and reduce the burden on IT personnel.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hate spam?

Click Here.

Do you receive lots of junk email messages from people you don't know? It's no surprise if you do. As more people use email, marketers are increasingly using email messages to pitch their products and services. Some consumers find unsolicited commercial email - also known as "spam" - annoying and time consuming; others have lost money to bogus offers that arrived in their email inbox.

Use a unique email address: Pick an address that is hard for spammers to guess and easy for you to remember. Also, if chatting online, use a unique screen name that is not associated with your email address.

Use multiple email addresses: Consider creating separate addresses or accounts that can be used for online purchases, chat rooms and other public postings. You can also use a free forwarding address.

"Mask" your email address: If you post your email address online, consider masking your address. There are several ways to correctly mask your address and thwart spammers.

Check the privacy policy when you submit your address to a Web site: Always be familiar with a Web site's privacy policy before submitting any information.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: Fraudsters, scammers, and crooks take advantage of people via unwanted email.

Learn more about "pop up spam": Recently, a new form of spam has developed via the Microsoft Windows operating system feature Messenger Service. It is a stream of "pop up" messages that stop you from using your home computer until you close them.

Use tools to help prevent spam: Consider tools or programs that can filter or tag spam before it fills your email inbox. (www.ftc.gov)

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Benefits of Online Backup

Almost every business today depends at least to some extent on the data stored in its PCs, and that is true even for companies with client-server networks. Research compiled by a leading data management company shows that data loss costs businesses some $12 billion a year, and that almost 80% of all mission-critical corporate information is stored on PCs, not servers. In fact, one in four PC users suffers a data loss every year.

Many things can cause data loss, but the two most common are hardware failure (44%) and human error (30%) - and what small business can say it is immune to either of those possibilities?

The obvious move to protect against critical data loss is simple: Back it up. Most of us know that, but how many of us do it on a regular basis? Industry experts say not enough, and they offer several reasons why:

  • Businesses don't understand how important backups are because they haven't had a disaster happen to them - yet
  • They don't know how to do it
  • They know how but don't remember to do it
  • They know how but find it too time-consuming, so they don't bother

If you fall into any of those categories, a remote backup service might offer the right solution for you.

Online backup services promise ironclad security, easy setup and quick recovery. Because the services are Internet-based, you can access your data 24/7, in most cases from any PC. An added advantage is offsite storage of files, which protects your data should your business be hit by fire, flood or some other calamity.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Managed Services for Small Business

It’s the core offering of CMIT and it’s been set up in a way that’s great for small businesses.

You know the break/fix model. Technology breaks, client calls a consultant, consultant fixes problem & bills for work. The problem with this is that the client and their trusted consultant are actually working at odds with each other. The consultant only makes money when the client’s technology breaks. There’s very little inspiration for the consultant to keep the client’s systems running efficiently.

The Managed Services model puts the technology expert and the client on the same team. The focus is on preventative maintenance, efficiency, stability and security. With the flat-rate model, it’s in both parties interest to keep the systems running as efficiently as possible. Problems mean downtime for the client and higher costs for the technologist.

Most small companies still think in terms of the break/fix model and because their consultant is usually a trusted party who’s never steered them wrong, there is very little reason for them to look at other solutions. But managed services can benefit both parties.

By using the economies of scale that the a CMIT home office can leverage, and passing those economies down to the individual franchisees, the clients can benefit from lower rates and better service levels which previously would have been accessible only to larger companies.

Customize Outlook Calendar Entries

Electronic calendars have great advantages over a paper calendar. Once an entry is created electronically it is very easy to change and manipulate that entry. Electronic calendars can also be useful to see calendars in multiple views such as daily, weekly or monthly. There are other features in Outlook that can help customize your calendar view, here are just a few:
  • Use Labels and Color Code —When creating a new calendar entry, the label field allows the entry to be color coded. Outlook has pre-defined topics for each color but these can be altered. Go to Edit/ Label/ Edit Labels and you can change the topic/ category for each color item. It can be useful to color code travel, certain meetings, important events, etc.
  • Use a Naming Convention in the Subject Line — It is best to name your calendar entries with a subject heading that will be useful to see quickly in the future. Consider creating a standard ‘naming structure’ in the subject field of new calendar entries. Use spaces, dashes, and underscores between nouns and adjectives that will provide further information about that meeting or appointment.
  • Contact Association —All calendar entries can be associated with a contact in the Outlook Address Book. Once a calendar item is associated, it can be viewed in the Contact view under the ‘Activities’ tab for that particular person. This is useful if you forget the date/ time of an appointment but remember who the appointment is with. To associate an calendar item, open the calendar item and click on the tab/ field in the lower left hand corner called ‘Contacts’, it will allow you to choose from the Contact folders available, find the contact to associate and click OK.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Office 2007 Compatibility

Have you received an e-mailed file from a business associate who’s already upgraded to Office 2007 and found that your earlier version of Office wouldn’t open the file?

All the Office 2007 programs use new default file formats based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML). The new formats are indicated by an “x” in the file extension. For example:
  • Word documents: .docx
  • Excel workbooks: .xlsx
  • PowerPoint presentations: .pptx
XML is an open standard, and the change makes it easier to move files between different applications. It also makes file sizes smaller than those saved in the old binary formats. However, some users with previous versions of Office may not be able to open files in the new formats.

Click here to access the Microsoft Download Center and download the Compatibility Pack.

A compatibility pack is available to make sure that you can open and save Office Open XML Formats in earlier versions of Microsoft Office. You can install the compatibility pack on a computer that is running Microsoft Office 2003 programs, Microsoft Office XP programs, or Microsoft Office 2000 programs. When you install the compatibility pack, you can open, edit, save, and create files in the robust Office Open XML Formats.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Developing a Security Solution

Security solutions work best when there is a company security policy in place that defines what is to be secured, how and by whom. As every company is unique, one policy will not work for all, but the process of creating a successful security policy can follow a set of guidelines. When designing your company's security policy consider the following:
  • Scope: What information and systems need to be covered in this policy? Identify your critical information. What is its value to you? Only when you evaluate its value can you determine the amount of resources you should employ to protect it.
  • Objectives: What are the objectives? What do you hope to accomplish with this policy? What information do you want to secure? Who do you want to have access?
  • Security Parameters: What security level should the company maintain? How much security do you need to have on desktops, on the network servers and at the gateway to the Internet? What access and security do people working remotely require
  • Responsibility: Who will be responsible for developing and maintaining the policy, informing all employees, technically implementing security and enforcing the policy?
  • Rules, Rights and Requirements: Who has access rights to critical information? What are the requirements and rules to access confidential information? Which ones apply to employees and managers?
  • Information and Training: What training needs to be done and how often?
    Contingency Planning. What happens when there has been a security breach? What happens when someone hasn't complied with security policy? What routines should be in place to mitigate the damage?
  • Annual Review: Does the policy need updating? What has changed? How well has the policy been observed?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

3 Great Word Tips

Microsoft Office Word is the main work staple for most computer users. So any Word feature that can save you time could make a big difference in your day. Here are tips that save time and will improve how documents look.

1. Paste Special : If you copy and paste a lot of content from different sources, such as other Word documents or Outlook e-mail messages, using Paste (on the Edit menu, click Paste ) works fine, but it carries the formatting of the original document and requires time to adjust the formatting. Try using Paste Special and paste the text as unformatted text.

To use Paste Special:
  1. On the Edit menu, click Paste Special .
  2. In the Paste Special dialog box, select the Paste radio button, and in the As: section, choose Unformatted Text .
  3. Click OK .
2. Create better tables with the Tables and Borders toolbar and Table Properties : Tables are a great way to present information in an organized manner, but they can be a beast to format. There is a big difference between a poorly formatted and organized table, and making a table look good can make a huge difference to your reader. Here are two tools to improve the way your table looks:

First, use the Tables and Borders toolbar to more quickly and easily format your tables. On the View menu, point to Toolbars , and click Tables and Borders . You can use the toolbar for everything from creating tables to shading cells to distributing rows evenly.

Once the table is created, use the Table Properties dialog box to fine tune its appearance. To open up the dialog box, put your cursor in the table and on the Table menu click Table Properties . Now you can choose how to align the table in your document, how text should be aligned in the cells, and many other formatting refinements.

3. Use reviewing marks and comments for editing documents : If you send documents back and forth between people, being able to quickly view proposed changes and comments is crucial. It’s especially useful when more than one person is reviewing the document. When you’re tracking changes in Word with reviewing marks and comments, Word shows the markup in the text of the document and balloons that appear in the margin. Comments also appear in the margin.

To get started, open up the Reviewing toolbar. On the View menu, point to Toolbars and click Reviewing . Once you get started, you can refer to the Help menu and review the Audio course: Revise documents with Track Changes for additional information.