Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Changing Your Email Habits to Simplify Your Life

Control Email So It Doesn't Control You

Many of us couldn’t do our jobs without email – so it’s ironic that email is often the very thing that prevents us from doing our jobs. Even if you’ve managed to weed out inbox-clogging spam with software like CMIT Anti-Spam, you might still have problems coping with the volume of legitimate email communication you receive every day. Here are a few tips to keep you focused, available and responsive without staying chained to your inbox 24/7.


1. Set a schedule for checking your email and stick to it. Decide that you’ll only check email twice a day, for example, and set up an autoresponder to let people know how often and at what time of day you’ll be checking it. If people have more urgent concerns, they can pick up the telephone and call you.


2. Close the loop as quickly as possible. Don’t keep an email chain going for four or five rounds by asking a series of questions; batch all of those questions together and, if possible, suggestions for how to resolve them.


3. Keep your filing system simple. Many people file away every piece of correspondence they send or receive in a series of arcane, nested folders. While you may need to keep all those emails, either for regulatory reasons or just peace of mind, a complicated filing structure can present serious impediments to both proper filing and retrieval. With email search capabilities improving all the time, you might find that all you need are an archive, a folder for longer-term follow up items, and a folder for tasks in process.


Filters that automatically send items to archive, delete, or specific folders can also help you to focus on the day’s most pressing tasks instead of sorting through items with predictable content. For example, professional newsletters, periodic alerts, or distribution-list mailings tend not to require the same attention as an email from one coworker to you and you alone.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Big Changes to QuickBooks 2005 Support


Upgrade to QuickBooks 2008
to Keep QuickBooks Email

If you're still using QuickBooks 2005, now is a great time to upgrade to QuickBooks 2008. After May 31, you'll no longer be able to use QuickBooks Email with the 2005 version of this software.


QuickBooks’ maker, Intuit, is like a lot of other popular software manufacturers: it periodically phases out support for some of its oldest versions. That allows the company to concentrate its resources on supporting newer, more popular versions -- and, coincidentally, helps encourage customers still limping along with old versions to make the jump to the latest and greatest.


With support for QuickBooks 2005 Email being phased out, you will no longer be able to send sales receipts, credit memos, purchase orders, reports, or forms through QuickBooks. By upgrading to QuickBooks 2008, you'll be able to do all that and send Outlook or Outlook Express emails without ever leaving QuickBooks.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Donating and Recycling Old Computers

New Life for Old Computers:
Refurbish, Recycle, or Donate

It’s almost Tax Day – and for a lot of us, that means we’re still looking for ways to take a little bit more off our tax bill. If you’re also looking to replace outdated computer equipment, it’s also the perfect time to invest in a new computer and donate the old one to some worthy cause for some possible tax benefits. But before you get too far, there are a few things you should know about donating old computers.


There are plenty of other reasons for doing more with your old computer than just dumping it in the trash. If you go through the proper channels – namely, the relevant computer manufacturer, a charity, or a refurbisher – you can be more confident that any information you inadvertently leave on that old computer doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. You can also do some good for the environment while you’re at it!


Old computers are full of toxic and hazardous materials that make sticking it in the trash bin a no-no. If you’ve got a computer that’s over 5 years old, contact a recycler or the computer manufacturer; most major manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett Packard, and IBM/Lenovo) now have their own recycling programs. Recyclers and manufacturers know how to dismantle your computer to separate out reusable materials and properly dispose of the hazardous ones.


If your computer is under 5 years of age and still in good working condition, consider donating it to a refurbishing service or a charity. Refurbishers know how to wipe hard drives to ensure your information doesn’t live on in your donated computer’s next incarnation. And they’ll make sure your machine is in tip-top shape before they pass it along to a charity.


You can also donate directly to many charities, but they may not have a lot of deep computing knowledge. For that reason, giving them an older computer may actually cost them a lot more time, energy, and hassle than they need making sure licenses and software are up to date and compliant with various regulations.


Before you give away or recycle your computer, remove all the data from your hard drive and any removable media such as disks, PC cards, flash drives and CD-ROMs.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Backing Up and Protecting Valuable Business Data

Learn How to Protect Your Business-Critical Data from Outage, Sabotage, and Disasters

News stories about data loss and disaster recovery are usually pretty dramatic: they involve major government institutions or retailers, daring feats of identity theft, or massive natural disasters like fires, floods, or hurricanes.


The fact is, however, that small businesses suffer just as badly and just as often from data loss, and often for pretty mundane reasons. Imagine if a malfunctioning sprinkler system doused your office in several inches of water and ruined your electronic equipment. Imagine if a squirrel chewing through local power lines caused an outage on your block. Imagine if those tape backups you thought were working had actually quit six months ago, or that new external hard drive got corrupted by a virus.


Small businesses that rely on customer records, email archives, databases, and other information stored on their computer systems can’t afford an outage or downtime. And yet for many, a truly reliable way to back up and protect data seems too expensive or too complicated to implement.


We recently held a teleseminar on disaster recovery and data protection strategies for small businesses -- and we think it’s worth a listen. Click here to download a recording of CMIT Solutions President and CEO Jeff Connally sharing valuable tips and advice for small businesses looking for safe, economical ways to protect their data assets.