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.



No comments: