Monday, November 15, 2010

Know of Someone starting a business? I know the best kept secret in Fairfield county.

Little over five years ago (I still can’t believe its been 5 years!!!!) after I had made the decision to become a CMIT Solutions owner / operator, I jumped into action to learn what I didn’t know.  I had heard of SCORE but didn’t really know the extent of their services.  But I was willing to give them a call because they were free (yes, FREE!).  I had never run my own company, and I knew I didn’t know everything that I needed in order to be successful. 
SCORE, stands for The Society of Retired Executives.  That much I knew.  Could a retired executive really help me with a Technology company ? The resounding answer is YES; you are doubly fortunate if you are in the Norwalk SCORE “service area”.  As it turned out the Norwalk SCORE chapter has become the top chapter in the county.  I also learned that SCORE was funded by the Small Business Administration (they are really up to date on how to leverage the SBA).
Over the past 5 years, I have been a client and a witness of there penetration to their “clients”.  They now offer advise, coaching, education on not only start up businesses, but to established businesses as well.
I sat in the 5th of 6 sessiosn of their new “Quick Start” program and although this geared to help people launch their businesses, I’m realizing there are some financial areas (the session tonight is on building your financial plan) that I have yet to learn about (cash flow statement?  Is this why I’m flying by the seat of my pants there??).  I also just learned that they have this amazing spreadsheet on the SCORE national site that you load your figures and assumption into and POOF it produced a Financial Plan. 
Are you already a business owner?  Do you have a financial plan?  If not, call SCORE get a counselor, download the spreadsheet and POOF you to will be flying less blind and have one more reason to believe you will be successful.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Do I write the entries myself or hire someone to do it?

A fellow CMIT owner, Gary Churchill recently asked me this question.  It’s a good one.  The short answer is that I do.  In the beginning I felt a little intimidated by writing to the “world wide cloud”.  Because of that intimidation, I held off for a while feeling that I had to hire someone to write it and make sure my grammar and flow was high quality.  After just not being organized enough, I started the blog myself with the initial goal of creating a place that could post quick answer to frequently asked questions I get from client.  It was all very self serving, I didn’t want to answer the same question over and over again, and felt I could just post the question with the answer once and forever more just send people the link.

Well that worked and I still use the blog for that purpose (I must have sent at least a dozen people in the last 2 weeks to the entry that describes what SharePoint is).

I’ve found I actually enjoy writing the articles myself based on what clients are asking about, ideas from networking events and so on. I’m by no means a writer but I’m allowing myself to “play” and develop my “voice”. As you can see from some of my earlier entries, it’s a huge time saver to simply point to someone else’s entry and then add a bit of commentary. I use MS Live Writer to create the entry and publish it (it’s free and very easy). One of the nice features of live writer (probably in other tools too) is that I can set future publishing dates, so I typically create a few and then set the dates into the future. My goal right now is to publish at least once a week on Thursdays (leaving Tuesday’s for QT). My vision is that the blog (and all our CMIT blogs, will produce a sequel to our book “I just want my computers to work”.

The found of HARO (Help A Report out), Peter Shankman, said during an event I was at, that when it comes to blogging and social media, people would be better served by listening instead of speaking.  I couldn’t agree more and do spend time regularly surfing and reading material that is being published (I have become a lover of Stumble lately).

Just recently someone told me that because my blog is hosted on a free service (blog spot), I’m not getting picked up and gaining followers; so I’m working on rehosting the blog on GoDaddy with a slightly difference url.

What has your experience been with blogging and what are you getting out of it?

Have you started a blog?  Post your comments.


See a Video of Peter Shankman

My Office 2010 my experience so far

I loaded up Office 2010 about 4 weeks ago, just around the time of its official launch (mid June).  Overall it been a good experience after I moved to the 32-bit version. 

As you might imagine I spend a lot of time with my computer and I want it running fast enough to keep up with me (I have no patience).  As I continue to grow CMIT Solutions of Stamford together with the demands of a family and wanting some time for me, time is way too valuable to be spent looking at the hour glass.  My main computer has a Quad processor, enhanced video card, 4 GB of memory and is running 64 bit Vista (yes 64 bit Vista).  Thanks again Chris for configuring me an awesome machine. I’ve been delighted with the speed of this computer since I brought it on line November of 2008.

So why am I telling you this?  Well I’ve often thought about where the delightful speed of my machine has come from.  Is it the processor (pretty beefy by normal standards)?  Is it the video card that has extra on board memory?  Is it 64 bit Vista?  I personally think that the quad processor together with running a 64 bit Operating System was the source

Again why am I telling you this, if the title of this blog is Office 2010?

Wanting to take advantage of all the speed of computing I can, I loaded the 64 bit version of Office 2010.  If my machine was running fast with a 32-bit version of Office, imagine what it would be like if it was running a 64-bit!  Well it was awesome,I fired up my Outlook and….. ran into an error regarding the add-ins.  Not all together surprising, so I called Gedas to ask how I launch Outlook without adds on.  He of course sent me a quick IM reply with the command.  I now launched it again and it came up clean.  WOW, the upgraded Outlook finally with the new “ribbon” interface.  I became a fast advocate of the new “ribbon” interface in Office 2007 but missed it in Outlook 2007 since Microsoft hadn’t gotten its act together fast enough to get it included in Office 2007.  The ribbon interface in Outlook 2010 as well as several new features (conversation threads, quick file, speed) were clearly going to save me tons of time. 

So I happily cranked away on my day of which I spend about 25-40% of my time working with email.  But I missed my add-ins.  So after a few days of feeling the lack of productivity without them, I started working on figuring out how to get them back.  Well that became the beginning of the end.  I checked Adobe’s site and discovered that Adobe didn’t yet support Office 2010.  I checked our internal ticket system, AutoTask and they also didn’t have it working yet (although several people on the community board had figured out ways of hacking into the windows registry and got it to work with the 32-bit version; nothing for the 64 bit version).

Okay, this wasn’t good.  Office 2010 wasn’t a secret.  People had plenty of time….  darn this was looking just like what happened with Vista…  the rest of the vendors didn’t get their act together by launch date.  The killer became that my Blackberry desktop manager errored out when syncing to my Blackberry.  I popped up to Blackberry’s site and sure enough they too didn’t support Office 2010 64 bit either.

What could I do?  I really felt that lost productivity to I uninstalled Office 2010 64 bit and decided to give the 32-bit version a try. And…..  Wa-Lah!  it all worked without a hitch.  My add-ins worked beutifully, My Blackberry began syncing.  Well what about the speed?  It was the same I felt!  Great I now had a home run. 

But a lingering question remained, what was the advantage of the 64 bit version of the 32 bit version was performed just the same?  So I did some research and found the answer.  The 64-bit version really only shows its speed in processor intensive functions.  Which are those you ask?  Big spreadsheets.  This made sense.

So what is the bottom line after 2 months of using Office 2010?  I love it!  Even though the first SP (service pack) hasn’t been released, this version has come out onto the market stable and error –free.  This is a HUGE improvement for Microsoft.  (Incidentally we have had the same positive experience with Windows 7).  If you are a big spreadsheet user, you may want to consider installing the 64-bit version if you don’t use any add-in, otherwise install the 32-bit version.

Want to know what an add-on is?  what does 32-bit versus 64-bit mean?  I’ll be clueing you in on those and more in the upcoming posts.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More on Microsoft Cloud Services - BPOS

Okay, so right after I published the last article on Microsoft Cloud services, it suddenly dawned on me, “What about BPOS?”. What on earth is BPOS you ask? BPOS stands for Business Productivity Online Standard Suite. My CMIT colleague Debbie Bush has been making comments about BPOS for a while now (she is on the Microsoft IT Advisory Council and she is sooooo pro Microsoft). I had taken a look after the umpteenth comment she made about a year ago, just the jist that this was Microsoft’s cloud offering for Office products and left it at that. I just couldn’t see the need for dealing with a web based Office suite since I felt it couldn’t be as responsive as working with a desktop package.

So I Googled (yes I prefer Google search not Bing) BPOS Microsoft and the first entry on the list brought me to the MS BPOS area. I quickly realized I had been wrong about BPOS, it’s not the cloud version of Office, it’s the Cloud version of a few other MS products, namely Exchange (e-mail and such aka Outlook), Sharepoint (document management and collaboration), “Communications Online” (aka instant messaging) and Live Meeting (web conferencing). Cool.

To help you understand this in more depth, I’ve added links to videos, web pages and documents that provide more detail.

Want to know if this is the right for your small business, just give me a call.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Great FREE Cloud Services from Microsoft

This article was started using Microsoft's Word Web App. This was possible by having a Windows's Live Account and a SkyDrive account. Although Word Web app doesn't have ALL the features of the PC version of Word it has the 20% most people use exclusively. You can even quickly bring the document into Office. When you hit the save button it saves it to your SkyDrive.

What is SkyDrive? It's your own hard drive in the Internet Cloud. A virtual file storage area hosted in the Microsoft Cloud. Pretty neat.

Last good thing about this? It's FREE.

So I click the button to bring the document into Office Word (one click, enter by Live id password and then when my local machine prompts me I allow it to enter my local machine.

So my curiosity chimes in, where is the document now? So I click save as and I find that my machine now have an extra network connection to this

(I did that by using the built in screen capture tool in Windows J).

So what happened during those prompts is that a secure connection (like a VPN) was created between my SkyDrive and my local machine. Very nice!

As I click save the document is saved to the SkyDrive so I don't have to worry about duplicate copies or not having access to this document when I move from this machine (actually my netbook) and my work desktop machine.

How does Live Mesh fit into this? Clicking on the help launches me to this page which helps me understand how all this works. What I find out are a few interesting things. First, you can sync one or more folders from one or more computers to your SkyDrive. Amazing! This gives me anywhere anytime access to my documents without additional software, hardware, or configurations. Nice! Second it tells me that if I leave my computer online (I assume that means powered on, logged on with an live internet connection) that I can get to ANY files and folders on my local machine. WOW. Last in this section it tells me I can sync up program settings between computers. This means I can have my favorites, office document templates the same on the different computers I work on. Boy is this going to reduce frustration and time.

On what machines can you install Windows Live Mesh? The newer stuff, Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X version 10.5 or later.

So I wondered, "what happens if I need more than 25 GB of space? Granted that's a lot but if I'm going to start playing this into client environments; I need to know just how far I can take this. Found a good article from life hacker that provided some additional insight on SkyDrive As I read through this article I did find a slight limitation to SkyDrive; individual files are limited to a 500 MG. A comment from a reader questioned the availability of the SkyDrive, something I'll need to do a bit more research on.

So what now? I finished my exploration for today and I'm clicking the publish button in Word and posting this to my blog. All very efficient!