Friday, December 25, 2009

New Small Biz Contests and Competitions |

Here's a latest list of contests, competitions, and awards for growing companies, which is brought to you twice a month by Small Business Trends and

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fraudulent Email Is Not From Intuit

The majority of our clients use QuickBooks. A number of fraudulent emails have gone out recently purporting to be from Intuit. The latest one claims to be from the QuickBooks Update Center and contains the subject line "Intuit Secure Update.” This email is not legitimate. Ignore it and delete it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Smart Spending Helps Minimize Your Taxes

If you’re a small business owner who turned a profit in 2009, congratulations! It’s been a tough year, and any business that succeeded in a very challenging economic environment deserves a pat on the back.
The downside to making a profit, of course, is that it can be subject to taxes. In order to minimize the amount they’ll have taxed at the corporate rate, many businesses look for ways to spend down their excess profit. Here are just a few purchasing options that might help minimize your tax liability while also enhancing your business:
Hardware. Need new PCs, external hard drives, servers, wireless routers, or other physical equipment? Get it before the year’s out.

Software. It might be time to do that big OS upgrade you’ve been planning. Ditto that accounting software purchase you’ve been putting off: once you’ve mastered it, it will save you hours of bookkeeping every week. And that’s an investment worth making any time of year.

Office Supplies. Think about what you’ll need in the first quarter of next year and buy it now to maximize deductions for 2009. Stock up on paper, photocopier and printer cartridges, and other supplies you know you’ll use.

Services. Many CMIT Solutions locations offer service hours in blocks that you can purchase in advance and use over the course of the year. Check with us for details.

One thing you’ll want to consider with equipment purchases is whether you want an immediate write-off or whether you want to depreciate the item over several years. (You’ll also need the equipment in your office, in use by year’s end.) Your accountant should be able to advise you on how to maximize your deductions and structure a plan that’s best for your business.

Friday, November 20, 2009

CMIT’s cyber-security team helps companies monitor, recover stolen property - Sacramento Business Journal:

From the Sacremento Business Journal...

Cyberstalking isn’t just for criminals.

A local company that provides computer services recently used technology to send police to knock on the door of someone using a computer that had been stolen from a Folsom insurance office. The information provided by CMIT Solutions of Sacramento led to an arrest and the recovery of a computer taken May 31 from Prowest Insurance Services Inc.

The robbers more here

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's a Netbook ... And Why Would You Need One?

In the hardware world, there’s a pretty lively discussion going on about the difference between laptops, notebooks, and netbooks.

Opinion seems to be converging around the idea that laptops and notebooks are virtually the same: small, portable, but powerful computers that can function as a more travel-worthy substitute for a stationary desktop model.

Netbooks, on the other hand, are a relatively new innovation – just a couple of years old, which might make them ancient in some technology circles, but it means that some folks are still figuring out what the term means.

Way back in the beginning of netbooks, these ultra-small, ultra-light computers offered pared-down capabilities that could satisfy most of the needs of a user on the go. You could access a Web browser and email, and if you used cloud-based applications like Google Docs you could even do some word processing and basic spreadsheet operations. But your average netbook, lacking an optical drive and equipped with a slower processer, wasn’t going to be terribly fast or powerful or great at running really resource-intensive applications. And the tiny keyboard made prolonged use a bit of a pain.

But then a funny thing happened: the year 2008. And as the economy took a dive, more and more users started looking at netbooks and deciding they made a very good, affordable alternative to regular laptops. By Q1 of 2009, netbook sales were seven times larger than they were in the first quarter of 2008. (

Not surprisingly, manufacturers noticed a huge new market that was growing like gangbusters in the middle of a downturn. New entrants joined the game, and in order to differentiate themselves, started adding features and enhancements to the stripped-down netbook. Screen sizes and keyboards are now getting larger. Graphics are getting better. Some folks argue that, at least among certain brands, there’s virtually no difference at all between a netbook and an ultralight laptop. (

Still, as a general rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a very cheap and light machine that you wouldn’t be heartbroken to lose or see destroyed – in other words, if you’re a student who needs a note-taking device, or a frequent traveler who has robust offsite storage and just needs an on-the-road Internet access device – a netbook could be the perfect thing.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Disaster Mirage: You Think You're Safe. But You're Not - October 4th, 2009

Disaster Mirage: You Think You're Safe. But You're Not. |

Ramon Ray writes about Small Businesses and their disaster recovery preparedness. It's not just about backing up your data. It's about how you recover (the data, the applications, the user profiles, the desktops, laptops and servers, email access, internet access, etc.) when disaster strikes.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Three Free Webinars from The Software Revitalist

Ellen DePasquale, the Software Revitalist, has announced three free webinars which she is hsoting next week. The topics are:
  • Controlling Your Inbox With Microsoft Outlook
  • Getting the Information You Need in Quickbooks
  • Prospecting in the Digital Age: Internet Search Tips
The webinars are November 2, 3 and 4thand you can register here.

With these, you get access to a bonus webinar: B2B Relationship Building Strategies.

All the webinars are one hour and packed with advice. Learn more at

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Excitement is in the Air with Windows 7 Launch

Reposting the following article from CMIT Solutions of Denver. Visit their website at


October 22nd is fast approaching and with it comes the launch of Microsoft's newest - and perhaps best yet - operating system (OS) - Windows 7!

I have not been talking it up with my clients or prospects to the extent it deserves. For months I have received news and information from my colleagues at Microsoft about Windows 7 and have heard from my team of techs at the Denver office that it is great.

Well, another confirmation came last week (10/8/09) from a source that is usually not so "high" on Microsoft's operating systems. The Wall Street Journal and the author of the article, Walter S. Mossberg, gave this new OS a stellar review. Below are some excerpts and paraphrased thoughts from Mr. Mossberg.

"While XP works well for many people, it is relatively weak in areas such as security, networking and other features..."

".., I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced. It's a boost to productivity and a pleasure to use."

"Windows 7 introduces real advances in organizing your programs and files,... It removes a lot of clultter. And it mostly banishes Vista's main flaws -..."

"In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple's Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That's no longer true."

Without going into detail on each new or enhanced feature, here is a quick list of some of Windows 7's new features:

New Taskbar
File Organization
Compatibility with 3rd party software
System Requirements

You too have probably read or heard similar reviews from the media of recent and the next week and into 2010, you will undoubtedly learn more (first or second-hand) about Windows 7. When new hardware is being considered or how to enhance your existing hardware to increase productivity and user-friendliness, give us a jingle at 303-756-2648 or send me an email and we will answer your questions.

CMIT Solutions of Denver doesn't normally adopt a new OS version so quickly; however, with months of beta testing on our machines and conferring with our nationwide network of CMIT technicians and our partners at Microsoft (and even our competitors), we will recommend Windows 7 where it makes sense and ONLY with sound planning.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 17th Event - Getting Social Media Buzz

Join us on Thursday, September 17th for the first ever Pre-BizTechDay Event in New York City!
For details and to register:

You'll learn powerful tips on getting social media buzz, but this NOT just another workshop on social media. You will have the opportunity to interact with our expert panel of speakers, network with your peers, and walk away with real, practical tips for getting attention, growing your community and building buzz.

Here are just a few things you will learn:

* How to Get Media Attention for Your Business
* How to Use Social Media to Build some Buzz
* How to Use Twitter for Business and Quickly Build and Keep a Database
* How to Build a Community for Your Business

Our gurus for the evening include Ramon Ray, Editor of, Angela Jia Kim, Co-Founder of, Nelly Yusupova, CTO, Webgrrls International/Cybergrrl Inc. and Founder of, and Edith Yeung, Founder & Executive Producer of BizTechDay.

Thursday, September 17th, 2009 at 6pm

Samsung Experience, 10 Columbus Circle 3fl
New York, NY 10019

Friends of can get a $15 discount off the regular $25 registration fee by using code smallbiztechnology when registering.

For details and to register:

Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Access Files at the Office - Even When You're Away

Remote office access lets you log on to a computer or server from a separate location and use it as if you were actually on-site. Many businesses now rely on the ability to give employees remote office access, whether it’s for mobile workers, as a response to the increased price of commuting or the need for flexible work schedules.

There are two main categories of remote access: remote desktop connection and virtual private networks (VPN). Each one of these types of remote access has its own merits and even some challenges.

Remote Desktop Connection

In simple terms, “remote desktop” refers to the ability to access your computer from another remote computer. You can either do this using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop (a standard feature of Windows XP Professional that can connect you to another XP Professional machine), or through Web-based services such as GoToMyPC and LogMeIn, or you can use one of the most popular features of Microsoft Small Business Server, Remote Web Workplace, which provides free remote access to all designated employees via a secure web site.

Remote desktop offers quick, easy and inexpensive access that, if set up correctly, requires nothing more than Internet service no matter where you are. The downside to using remote desktop is that only one person at a time can access the remote machine, and it requires someone who is tech savvy to complete the initial set up.

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

A VPN emulates a direct, secure point-to-point connection, allowing data to be securely transmitted across unsecured public or private networks. Because a VPN is secure, it eliminates the need for pricey point-to-point options such as leased lines and dial-up connections. The remote office or computer naturally becomes part of the network. Additionally, a VPN allows for the sharing of network resources such as printers, servers, files and databases.

On the minus side, a VPN can be difficult to set up and requires a high degree of technical skills in the area of public network security. Additional software for the VPN client must be installed on remote computers. Finally, the performance of some applications, such as QuickBooks, suffers over a VPN connection.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tech Support Cheat Sheet

LifeHacker, the blog devotes to software, the Internet and all around "life hacks" gives away all of our Tech Support troubleshooting secrets in this one post. Could it be time to throw in the towel?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vista's Instant Search Uncovers Information Wherever It's Stor

We don't post too often about Vista, but there are a few notable features worth talking about.

If you’re on a pre-Vista operating system, you know how restrictive and clunky the old Microsoft search tool can be. Accessed as “Find” under the Start menu, the tool can’t look at the content within files and does not extend to emails.

Microsoft has taken that search tool and vastly improved its capabilities in Vista. Now called Instant Search, it’s accessed right from the Start menu and looks across file types, formats, and content to give you rapid access to the information you need. Now instead of looking separately for all the emails and documents associated with a particular project, you can bring them up in a snap. You don’t have to choose between wading manually through endless file trees or waiting as the search bar churns, finally spitting out “No result” to a file you know is lurking somewhere. Instant Search starts looking as soon as you start typing.

Instant Search is contextual, which means it will look first in the applications and files you access most frequently. And it will group results by the type of asset it finds – whether it’s a program, web site, document, or email. Click here to learn more about Instant Search:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Brad Farmerie, chef at Public NYC battles in Iron Chef America this Sunday

CMIT Solutions client Brad Farmerie, lead chef at Public NYC battles in Kitchen Stadium in Iron Chef America this Sunday, August 23rd.

Will he be completing against Iron Chef Morimoto? Iron Chef Cora? Will he stand up to the heat of battle? Think how much fun it would be to watch it with Brad himself.

Join us on Sunday, August 23rd for a special Sunday Supper at PUBLIC and watch the live broadcast. Or just come for the broadcast at 9 PM. We'll be offering drink specials all night and the celebration or commiseration will start at 10 PM with DJ Tamer.

Details here:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Could you be responsible for the Twitter outage? | Safe and Secure - CNET News

From C-Net: Could You Be Responsible for the Twitter Outage?

Well, maybe not you personally, but could you be part of it? Twitter confirmed yesterday that the problems experienced were caused by a denial-of-service attack. A distributed denial-of-service attack occurs when multiple (thousands? millions?) of computers try to access the site in question simultaneously. This typically happens because the attacking PCs are infected with malware, which turns them into "zombies" which do the dirty work.

Read More Here

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Superstars only…

IT Solutions Sales Associate & Business Market Development Associate

CMIT has an immediate need for driven, successful hunters who are great at selling managed services to the SMB (small/mid-sized business) market.

You can earn over $150K if you are a star, but do not even proceed unless you are an overachiever and can prove it.

CMIT has openings in Manhattan, Westchester and Fairfield Counties for a Business Market Development Associate and in North Jersey & Long Island for an IT Solutions Sales Associates.

Visit our website at to review job requirements. While at the site, you will gain an understanding of our products, services, outstanding company culture and planned future growth.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


A study released last year by the Ponemon Institute revealed that business travelers lost a truly shocking number of laptops at airports every week: about 12,000, by their count. (

Even with fewer business travelers flying this year, you can bet that laptop losses are still far too many -- especially considering that 65 percent of survey respondents who said they were carrying confidential information didn't take any measures to protect it. That's a whole lot of sensitive information just floating around out there because somebody got careless in the airport security line.

So the next time you take your computer with you on a business trip, remember two basic principles: prevention and mitigation.

First, prevent laptop loss by giving yourself plenty of time at the airport, making sure you pack lightly so that you're not overwhelmed by your luggage, and keeping an eye on your computer as you go through security and boarding. (The two most common places people lose computers are in security checkpoints and at gates.)

To mitigate laptop loss, encrypt and back up all your important files. That way, if you do lose your computer you'll minimize the risk that confidential company information will end up in the wrong hands, and you'll be able to quickly rebuild your files and get back to work.

If you take all these precautions and still, at the end of a business trip, discover that your laptop has wandered off for parts unknown, it helps to have a theft-recovery system like Absolute Software’s Computrace LoJack for Laptops installed. If your laptop goes missing, Absolute personnel can start working with local law enforcement to find it. Your computer automatically calls in to the Monitoring Center once a day, but you can increase that to once every 15 minutes if your computer is stolen. Once your computer checks in with the Monitoring Center, they can initiate a data delete to remove sensitive information – hopefully before the thief is able to access it.

The Computrace LoJack for Laptops comes embedded in Dell Latitude™ notebooks and Dell Precision™ Mobile Workstations. It can also be purchased as a standalone product.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live

How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live

Very interesting article on the possiblities of Twitter. Not as a business tool or a way of telling your friends what you ate for breakfast. But as a fascinating communication tool.

Monday, April 20, 2009

If Abboott and Costello were alive today, "Who's On First' would sound like this...


ABBOTT: CMIT Solutions, your technology team, can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou.

ABBOTT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou.

ABBOTT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here?

ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows?

ABBOTT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOTT: Software for Windows?

COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOTT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOTT: Recommend something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOTT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office!

ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?


COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOTT: Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows?

ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W".

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "W" if you don't start with some straight answers. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer?

ABBOTT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer?

ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much?

ABBOTT: One copy.

COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money?

ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money.

COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money?


(A few days later)

ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off?

ABBOTT: Click on "START"...

Small Biz Technology - Security: No Hardware, No Products, All Software and Service

Small Biz Technology had a great blog post on security for your desktop, laptop and network. Traditionally, when you think about security, you think about a firewall or router. Some hardware box plugged in to your network. However, there are other options. Ramon Ray interviews John Adams, the CTO of Chosen Security, about offering security as a service you subscribe to, instead of the typical approach.

Read the full article here:

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Data Storage Rule of Three

If you really want to keep your data safe and ensure that it will not be lost, destroyed, or corrupted in the event of a disaster, most storage practitioners advise keeping it in at least three locations.

A single location gives you virtually no protection against disaster. Two locations might be enough, as long as one is offsite – but even then you risk data loss if both locations fail at the same time. For example, imagine a virus corrupts your server and wipes out your CRM database. You go to a tape backup to repopulate the database, only to discover that the backup is worn out or corrupted. Or, as we’ve read about numerous times in the news, your tape backup gets stolen out of your home, car, or wherever you’re storing it.

That’s why you really need three separate locations for your data, with at least one of them offsite. While all three locations or media could theoretically fail at the same time, the chances of that happening are minimal.

So why must one location be off site? To avoid a tragedy like the following one happening to your business. (We’re not naming names here because this isn’t a story about a client – but it did happen to somebody we know. We wish they had been clients, because we could have made certain this didn’t happen!)

A long-established company had years’ worth of data to store, including a CRM system and detailed records on past projects. They knew it was important to be well covered when it came to backups, and their technician assured them the data was stored in three places.

Then disaster struck – not through any fault of the company. A fire broke out in a neighboring office, and before long the whole building was engulfed in flames. Every server, every computer, and every other piece of electronic equipment in the building was trashed.

You might think the company would be fine – after all, they had redundant storage, and surely one of their storage devices was offsite, right? Wrong. The data was indeed in three places: on the server, on a drive next to the server, and on another drive in the next room.

This story illustrates precisely why it isn’t enough to keep multiple copies of your data. One or more of those copies must be stored offsite – preferably in a geographic location that’s not prone to flooding, hurricanes, or tornadoes. (That’s why many high-security data centers are located in the desert: they’re far from major metropolitan areas that are more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and power outages, and they also tend to suffer from fewer natural disasters.)

So the next time you talk to your IT provider, you might ask them two things:

How many copies of our data are we keeping?
Where are those copies being kept?

Once you have those answers, you’ll know a lot about how well equipped your business really is to weather disaster.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Join First and Last Names in a Single Cell

Unless you're a power user or a statistician, chances are you often use Excel to manage text lists instead of numerical data. For example, you might use Excel as your source file for a mail merge.

Let's imagine that somewhere along the way you separated out first names from last names, and now you want to join them back together in a single column.

Instead of going through your list and retyping all those names, you can tell Excel to put the first name, a space, and the last name in a single cell. The formula is pretty simple:

=A3&" "&B3

The ampersand tells Excel to join one value to another, while the quotation marks tell Excel to insert a specific character (or a space, in this case). So the formula above says, in effect, “Join the first name to a space, and then join the space to the last name.

To repeat the formula, just grab the lower right hand corner of the cell and drag down.

Friday, April 3, 2009

New Innovations in Surge Protectors and Power Supplies

If you're like a lot of home-based workers or employees in a small office, you've got a single power strip with your computer and all its many peripherals plugged into it. You want to make sure that power supply is reliable, well made, and not driving up your electricity bills unnecessarily. Here are a few things to consider when you're thinking about managing your access to power:

Surge protection. Everybody knows that you need some protection against power spikes. But a surge protector won't help when it comes to power failures and fluctuations, which can cause data loss and software problems if equipment isn't allowed to shut down properly.

Backup power. A battery backup solves the problem of how to conduct a smooth shutdown. In the event of a blackout or brownout, a battery backup will automatically kick in and buy you enough time to execute an orderly shutdown of your equipment.

Energy saving. A new breed of power supply <> can actually detect when a machine is shut down after a certain period of time and will cut off power to that machine without your having to switch it off. Given that electronic devices can pull up to 40 percent of their power when they're turned off but plugged in, this can really help you reduce your electrical bills. You can also set the strip to automatically power down peripherals when you shut off the main device -- so, for example, your printer and other peripherals will shut off when you turn off your computer. You can also set your peripherals to shut down while your computer stays on, so that if you’re on a service like CMIT Marathon that requires your computer to be on for regular updates you can still reduce power waste.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Set up a Remote Office Securely and Productively

As more businesses try to get their costs under control, some are considering giving up some or all of their office space. They're encouraging more employees to work remotely so that the business can move to smaller quarters with lower rents or rent out some portion of their existing space to other businesses.

This can be a smart way to wring more efficiency out of your budget, but it does leave one question: how to make sure employees stay productive and coordinated, no matter where they're working. Here are a few measures you can take to set up a "virtual office" that delivers the same results as your old physical office:

  1. Set up a VPN (virtual private network) that allows employees to securely access company servers and share files.
  1. If you're not already on a VoIP (voice over IP) phone system, think about switching over. It can save you a lot in long-distance bills, plus you can seamlessly forward calls from the business number to an employee's home phone. VoIP phones can also forward voice mails to email so that employees don't miss calls while they're away.
  1. Find a good web conferencing provider so that you can hold impromptu meetings and share documents even when you're not all in the same place.
  1. Don't forget about security. Every home office should be equipped with a locking file cabinet and a good shredder so that documents are as secure offsite as they would be onsite.
  1. Stay in touch! The biggest problem that many physically distributed offices experience is a breakdown in communications because employees suddenly become allergic to the phone and prefer to conduct everything by email. Encourage people to pick up the phone if it's going to take more than two rounds of email to resolve an issue.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why (and How) You Should Plan for Computer Disaster

How many hours -- or days -- would it take you to recover your business data, re-image your machines, and get your business running again if a flood, virus outbreak, or other disaster took your business offline?

CMIT Solutions’ own Scott Brennan recently addressed the issue of data loss on WGN Chicago TV. Click here to get his take on protecting your computer from disaster.

Here are a few other tips on how to minimize the chances of a disaster doing permanent damage to your business:

  1. Take a full inventory of your data and find out age and file types. You might be shocked at how much of it is old graphics files or employees’ personal MP3 files and movies -- things that you don’t need to waste storage space on.
  2. Write down all your software product keys, license numbers, passwords, configuration notes, and encryption codes and keep them in a locked safe -- preferably both on premises and off.
  3. Write down a detailed plan for restoring data in the event of a loss -- that means figuring out the sequence in which applications, servers, and databases need to be brought back online in order for data to properly repopulate.
  4. Run backups regularly and test them regularly. This is important because certain types of backups are easily corrupted or may stop before they’re complete. Test your backups to make sure they’re actually capable of a full system restore.
  5. Find out from your backup provider how long it would take to recover in the event of a complete data loss. Some providers can take days or even weeks to ship a full set of disks; others may take less than 48 hours.

If this sounds like a lot of work -- well, it is! But putting in the time now can prevent you from some major hassles later. Or call CMIT Solutions and we can help you get started on the path to complete disaster preparedness.

Posted via web from evanstein's posterous

Friday, February 6, 2009

Professional Etiquette in Facebook

Sorry, folks – LinkedIn is no longer enough. If you want to do business in modern America, chances are you’re going to have to join Facebook at some point. Maybe it’s because you’re participating on a conference panel that’s coordinating content through Facebook, or maybe you joined a professional networking group with a Facebook page. For many people these days, it has to do with finding work – if you’re out of a job and looking for a position, you have to raise your profile both online and off, and Facebook is one very good way to get more visible on the Web.

Many people hesitate to join Facebook because they’re understandably concerned about mingling their professional and their private lives. Fortunately, Facebook is so highly customizable that you can rest assured your potential employers will never see your goofy Halloween photos, and your friends will never be treated to your reflections on business topics.

To see a very informative slide presentation on how to customize Facebook’s privacy settings and make sure your business and private lives don’t intersect, click here. Below are some more rules of thumb for professionals on Facebook.

  1. Keep your profile photo professional looking. Everybody who has access to your page will see the same identifying photo – so don’t do anything too wacky or risqué. More fanciful pictures can go in separate, restricted photo albums.
  2. Less is more. When it comes to biographical information, you can adjust who sees your full and partial profile. However, as a general rule on the Web it’s best not to supply so much identifying information that a complete stranger could track you down if they happened to be able to access your Facebook page. Nobody needs to know what year you were born, what zip code you live in, or other such details that could be used by identity thieves.
  3. Don’t spam. Facebook makes it easy for you to contact your whole network with updates, questions, and comments. Think about who really needs to know the information you’re about to send out and target it only to them. Your friends in the Chamber of Commerce don’t need to know about the bake sale your PTO is sponsoring next week.

Facebook can be pretty intimidating and complicated in the beginning – but once you get the hang of it you’ll see just how addictive it can be as well!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Make Your Battery Last Longer

Pretty much everyone who owns a PC laptop has, at some point or another, found themselves with a computer that's nearly out of battery power and no electrical outlets in sight. (Usually this happens right before a road trip with three kids in the back of the car screaming for their Dora the Explorer DVD, or the moment you board a plane with six hours' worth of business presentations to review.) If you want to prevent these sorts of calamities from happening in the future, you can take a few simple steps to reduce your PC's power consumption and increase the number of hours you can get out of a fully charged battery.

  1. Dim your screen. One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is dim your screen. Computer screens use up a surprising amount of power when they're at maximum brightness, so keeping your screen as dim as you can tolerate will keep your battery from running out too quickly.
  2. Minimize moving parts. Whirring fans and spinning disk drives can quickly deplete your battery, so keep your computer cool and don't run DVDs or CDs.
  3. Turn off autosave. You should, of course, periodically save whatever you're working on, but autosave eats up more power than you want to use if you're running on a battery.
  4. Don't multitask. Keep the number of programs and processes you're running to a minimum. Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, and Outlook tend to use a lot less power than graphics- and processing-intensive programs like the Adobe suite, video games, and music.
  5. Don't use external devices. Any USB-connected device, even if it's shut off, can still drain battery power, so avoid using mice or flash drives.

In addition, laptops running Windows XP and Vista will have a "Power Options" setting in the control panel that lets you adjust your machine's power consumption.

These tips should help you get the most life you can out of a fully charged laptop battery. To keep your battery in good condition, many experts also recommend running the battery until it's nearly empty and then fully recharging.

Posted via web from evanstein's posterous

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Protect Yourself Against the Worm that has Infected Over 9 Million in Two Weeks

One of the biggest worm attacks in years has hit PCs around the world. It's called "Downadup," or "Conficker," and in the past week or so it has spread aggressively to unprotected PCs.

The worm spreads across networks, finding vulnerable computers and turning off the automatic backup service, deleting previous restore points, disabling some security services, and blocking access to security Web sites before spreading to other computers on the network.

It also spreads through USB devices such as flash drives and cameras by taking advantage of the Windows Autorun feature, which will automatically run programs installed on USB devices as soon as they're plugged in. You can try disabling Autorun to prevent infection, but at least one security expert says that Microsoft's own instructions about disabling Autorun are flawed.

If you suspect your machine is infected, please read the instructions below and don't hesitate to give us a call or contact us here for more guidance.

CMIT Solutions recommends you take the following steps to protect your own PC from Downadup or Conficker:

1. Make sure you have a good security suite installed, such as Norton Internet Security, Norton AntiVirus, Norton 360, BitDefender, or AVG. A free version of any of these products is not as thorough or comprehensive as one of the paid versions.

2. Run a full system scan and update your security definitions.

3. Keep your computer updated with any patches that Microsoft has issued recently.

If you're worried that your computer has already been infected, take the following steps:

1. Run a virus scan, which should detect the worm if it's there.

2. If you don't have antivirus software installed, try visiting a few security sites. If your access to those sites is blocked, that’s one sign of infection.

I have included detailed removal instructions by Symantec here.

Posted via web from evanstein's posterous

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sound Principles of Web Design

Web design is always evolving to keep up with new technologies and new search engine algorithms. Businesses that used to be stuck building rudimentary HTML sites with Dream Weaver can now hire designers relatively cheaply and have a slick, high-performance site in no time. But with so many bells and whistles to choose from, how can you make sure your Web site actually informs people instead of confusing them, draws them in instead of making them click away, and generates real interest in what you have to offer?

That's a question we asked ourselves as we recently revamped our entire corporate site. What follows are some of the lessons we've learned -- and the proof is at

1. Relevant content MUST be above the fold. Visitors do not like to scroll, and research has proved that a visitor will click Next before they scroll. That's why we kept all of our taglines and topline navigation buttons within the space of a normal-sized browser window.

2. Keep text short and to the point. People don't go to Web sites to read dissertations. Bullet points are easy and fast to read, which is good when you have about 8 seconds and 3 clicks to get a visitor's attention.

3. Each page should have ONE relevant call to action. Think about what you want each page of your web site to accomplish and make it easy for the visitor to do that ONE thing. Most of our Web pages end with a very simple call to action -- fill out a brief information request form to get more details. It's straightforward, gets the reader what they want, and prevents the reader from having to make a choice about what to do next. (That's good because most casual visitors, if forced to make a choice between two options, will just click away instead.)

4. Minimize load times. In our era of high-speed Internet, people are extremely impatient. If you have any animation elements, make sure they load immediately. Or do what we did, and scrap animation entirely.

5. On every page, include key word phrases a visitor would likely search on to find your site. Avoid pronouns when you can use the entire phrase -- it will help the search engines index your site properly. Will your site look a little repetitive and sound a little more stilted? Maybe, if you sat down and read it out loud. But Internet readers and search engines alike tend to scan quickly for the phrases they want, so it's to your benefit to include them as much as possible.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Data Encryption - Your Biggest Weapon Against Data Theft

The Identity Theft Resource Center recently released a report stating that 35 million data records were exposed last year. That’s a huge increase over the previous year and a very sobering figure for anyone who is concerned about keeping their business or personal data safe.

There was an upside, however: a mere 2.4 percent of data thefts involved encrypted data. Encryption basically disguises or scrambles your data so that it’s unintelligible without a key. The correct encryption key will allow a recipient to decipher the scrambled data and arrive at the original contents.

In order to minimize the chances that your data will fall into the wrong hands, one of the best things you can do is make sure it’s always encrypted.

In the world of backups, that means a few things. First off, you’re much better off backing up to disk, which is more easily encrypted, than to tape, which is only rarely encrypted. Second, you should be backing up to a disk not only at your home office but also to somewhere offsite – and encrypting your files both in transmission and in storage.

An offsite backup solution should feature 128-bit encryption during file transfers. That means it would take somebody without a key 2128 tries, or 3.40282367 × 1038 attempts, to crack the encryption code. The data should then be stored using a 256-bit key or better

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Making PowerPoint Presentations Easy to Share and View

PowerPoint is a powerful tool for creating presentations -- but its very versatility is a double-edged sword. It enables you to make presentations lively and visually appealing, but if you get carried away, you'll end up with a cluttered mess that may not even work on your colleagues' or clients' machines.

Say you're using Vista and you've got a fast computer with all sorts of wacky fonts installed. You can create a real whiz-bang presentation with animations, sounds and colors galore, and a different font for every slide.

But if you send it to a client with a slower machine, an older operating system, or even a Mac -- watch out. All those fancy geegaws might not even show up! To make sure your presentation is easily viewable on a variety of systems and platforms, here are a few pieces of advice:

1. Stick to commonly installed fonts. It's hard to go wrong with a solid sans-serif font like Arial or Helvetica. It might lack the drama of a Gothic script or the pizzazz of a hand-lettered font, but you can be pretty certain it will look the same from user to user. The same goes for custom bullet points -- they might show up as plain old bullet points on somebody else's machine, so you may as well keep them simple to start.

2. Keep embedded sound or video to a minimum. According to Bit Better, a clip art publisher and PowerPoint presentation developer, sounds and videos "will not go from Mac to Windows gracefully, and you have to be very careful about how you insert the files in order to get them to 'travel' properly." Save yourself the hassle by keeping images static.

3. Don't write all the way to the edge of the screen. This might sound odd, but the reason is that, depending on which presentation medium you're using -- projector, computer, even television screen -- the aspect ratio might be slightly different than the one you built the presentation on. Make sure you have a decent white space on either side of your text so that your words don't run off the side of the screen when it's projected.

4. Beware of subtle shading and color schemes. Your viewer's screen might be more or less sensitive to color variations than your own. The graduated fill on a bar chart that goes from light yellow to bright chartreuse on your computer might just look like a mustard nightmare on an older screen. Keep your look simple, clean, and bold.

5. Run it by a friend. Check out your presentation on several different computers and operating systems to make sure it's rendering the same on all of them.

Need advice on how to tame PowerPoint or other Microsoft Office programs? Give us a call -- we can help.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Year's Worth of Technology Advice

The QuickTips 2008 Year in Review

From the wildfires sweeping Santa Barbara to the breach of a vice presidential candidate’s Yahoo email account, a surprising number of news stories seemed to carry valuable lessons for small business owners. We learned how vital it is to protect business data, equipment, and individuals’ privacy. We learned about how social networking and Web 2.0 technologies can help a small business raise its public profile. And we learned all over again how increasing personal productivity can help a whole business.


Listed below are some of our favorite QuickTips from 2008. Thank you for another wonderful year!


From the thunder storm-prone Pacific Northwest to the flood-stricken Midwest,

everybody has their own version of extreme weather to deal with. Taking a few precautions can help prevent damage to your office equipment when the weather gets nasty. 


Many office buildings shut down their air conditioning on the weekends, which means it can get pretty warm in the office by Sunday night. If you've left your computer on -- a necessity in many office environments for a variety of reasons -- you can take some common-sense measures to keep your computer as cool as possible.


Despite the name, instant messages can stick around for a long, long time. Your conversations may live on, long after you've shut down your IM client – depending on what service you're using and what controls you or your employer may have in place.


If you’re a small, locally owned business without a lot of formal tech staff, you may be just as likely to have a page on MySpace or Facebook as you are to have a Web page. But wading into the murky waters of social networking when you’re a business can carry certain risks.


We all read the headlines about a hacker accessing Sarah Palin’s personal Yahoo! email account. It turned out the hacker didn’t even need to use fancy coding maneuvers or computer wizardry. Instead, he used one of the oldest tricks in the privacy-invasion book: he changed the password to her account.


You need extra storage and multiple copies of the same data so that you can retrieve information even if it’s lost or corrupted in a particular location or format. Think of it as a diversification strategy for storage: by putting your eggs in multiple baskets (or, rather, your data in multiple storage locations), you lessen the chances of ever losing that data for good.


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!


Many people spend the bulk of their days working in two Microsoft programs: Word and Excel. And if you've ever done a lot of cutting and pasting in and between these programs, you know how quickly you can end up with a very muddled-looking document. To bring all these formats in line, you can do several things. First, you can select the whole passage, then alter the font, font style, and font size. Or, with a nifty feature in Word, you can simply use Format Painter.


Years ago, the average office desk used to have just one thing on top of it: a typewriter. Now you've probably got a phone, a computer, and a monitor at minimum. Chances are you have a laptop as well, and occasionally plug your cellphone or iPod into an available USB port for charging or downloading. In a home office you'll likely have connections to a backup hard drive, a wireless router, and a printer/fax as well. Add it all up and that translates to a big pile of loose cords and cables gathering dust under your desk.


With Google Alerts, you’ll receive periodic email notifications (once a day, once a week, or in real time) when search terms you monitor appear on the Web or in the news. This helps you stay on top of what people are saying about you or your company -- and what they’re saying about your competition or other areas of interest.