Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Changing the Sales Tax rate in POS

As many of you may know, CT sales tax will be increasing as of Friday July 1st. The increase will be from 6% to 6.35%. For further details visit . Please speak with your accountant to determine exactly how this will impact your particular business.

Here are the steps to make the change within POS.

To change sales tax in POS, follow the steps below:

POS version 9:

· From the Edit menu, select Preferences, Company

POS Version 10:

· From the File menu, select Preferences, Company

· Select Sales Tax from the preferences listings on the left to open the Set Up Sales Tax dialog as shown below:


· Click on the Edit Tax Code button to open Edit Tax Code dialog. Select the next button until the box shown below appears:


clip_image006Make the change in the sales tax rate box to 6.35.

Select Finish

Select Save at bottom right of screen to save changes in Company Preferences.

The new sales tax rate will be effective immediately

Contributed by: Lucy Walker QuickBooks and POS Consultant

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tablets, Tablets, Tablets; How to decide if (and which one) is right for you

Well our one month evaluation of 3 tablet models is ready for a wrap up and this is it. The CMIT Solutions Stamford team evaluated the iPad2, Blackberry Playbook and the Samsung Galaxy and we've been busy this month! Our main questions were this:

Q: How does the tablet compare to other mobile devices? Can it replace a laptop or netbook?

Q: Can you really run your business life on it?

As you know CMIT is dedicated to small business and that is one of the reasons for taking this project on. Most of the reviews and general information about technology are geared towards 2 audiences, big business and the consumer. I'm still baffled by this because small business creates more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP). Small business IS different and so it's been my joy to help provide targeted information about small business to small business.

Besides having our local staff actually "play" and try to work off the tablets, we conducted a local survey of small business technology users, had a great in person event as a segment of our new KnowITAll series and have talked with other CMIT Solutions staff across the country about their experiences. Frankly this has been a lot of fun and I'm committed to doing another research project like this in the near future.

Our intention of this article is that it be a resource for you, so with that in mind here is summary of this "wrap up" and bookmarks to each of the sections. We have also added links to other related resources we came across during this project.

Decision Factors

Slide Deck from "Tablets, Tablets, Tablets" KnowITAll event

Stamford Small Business Survey Results

Summary Evaluation Grid

Review Comments


Additional Resources

Decision factors (for our) small business

Our evaluation was focused on whether mobile computing needs of us and our small business clients could be satisfied with a tablet. We did immediately notice when creating the features, that would be used for the decision, that we had some unique needs that typical small business clients wouldn't. In considering a tablet for our clients we found that in fact many of them had unique needs. This just goes to show you the reason there are (and more to come) so many different ideas from manufacturers as to what makes a good design.

In making a decision for your business, you must identify what YOUR needs are and select the one that best meets your needs.

Must have Features (for us)

Excellent web experience

Excellent email experience

Ability to interface with our Line of Business applications (AutoTask and SharePoint)

Remote to client's machines

Access to MyDocuments

Acceptable typing experience

Note Taking

Offline experience (when you don't have an internet connection)

Edit Word and Excel files

Acceptable performance, stability, battery life, cost, weight, size

Ability to have a hard network connection

Secondary Features (not must have, but enhance or extend the user experience)

Read in the sun

Ease of configuration

Viewing and updating contacts and calendar entries

Instant Messaging

Social Media updates and reading


Sound Quality

Camera quality


Projector Connections

Finally there is the cost versus alternatives. We currently are using netbooks and Blackberries.

Cost of the unit itself

Cost of applications

Cost of 3G plan

Summary of Our Evaluation

Evaluation standards: 

  • Excellent – Same as a desktop
  • Good – Works great for our needs, but not as good as a full-sized pc
  • Marginal – Adequate in a pinch, but not as good as a full-sized machine
  • Not Suitable






Web experience





Excellent email experience





Ability to interface with our Line of Business applications

(AutoTask and SharePoint)

AutoTask – Marginal

SharePoint – Good

AutoTask – Good

SharePoint – Good

AutoTask – Good

SharePoint – Not Suitable


Remote to clients machines

Good – free app required

Good – app pre-loaded

Good – purchased app required


Access to MyDocuments

Good – but couldn't use MS Web apps had to use Dropbox

Not evaluated

Not evaluated


Acceptable typing experience



Good (thumbs)


Note Taking





Offline experience (when you don't have an internet connection)


Not evaluated

Not evaluated


Edit Word and Excel files

Good once you purchase Documents to Go

Good Documents to Go was pre-installed

Good ThinkFree office was pre-loaded


Performance, stability, battery life, cost, weight, size





Ability to have a hard network connection

Not Suitable

Not Suitable

Not Suitable



Reviewer Comments


The Galaxy came preconfigured to be used with Sprint and continued to prompt for activation (annoying) until we put it in airplane mode.

Comments on features more important to consumers (although there are circumstances where these may be important to business use)

Great sound quality

Netflix not preloaded

Email used ActiveSync; was able to delete mail when there was no internet connection

No LogMeIn Free version; had to purchase premium version for $30

Couldn't get Skype to work

Due to location of power button can easily inadvertently power off



Bonus-came with a HDMI connector

Video quality equivalent to a Flip

Virtual keyboard changes based on the application you are in

Review has big hands; typing experience was good

Pre-loaded with Bing Maps, YouTube, DocumentsToGo, Adobe reader

Can be used as a remote control for your TV

Has a remote control mouse pad

Has a Teleprompter

Got 2 days out of the battery without recharging

Small enough to fit into the pocket of your cargo pants

Hated the email experience as you had to tether the unit to your Blackberry

Internet tethering cost on Verizon is $20 pm

Touch controls were good once you figured them out; Tutorial was poor.

Too small of a screen for Medical EMR software



The mail application was only good for reading and replying. We couldn't delete or move mail into folders without an internet connection. Because Safari is the only rowser available, a lot of sites wouldn't display properly. We installed CloudBrowser app for as an alternative for Flash play but this is only an adequate experience. Safari is not supported by AutoTask, and free app available only provided limited number of functions.

SharePoint access was good, but the screen was too small to make full use of the site. Microsoft Web Apps for Word and Excel editing don't work in Safari.

The virtual keyboard was good; we got pretty close to our usual typing speed, however virtual keyboard doesn't automatically change with use of app so we often needed to jump to an alternate keyboard for frequently used alternate characters like "@"

The OneNote app we tried was only okay, and so many normal things you want to do require an internet connection; so when you don't have it, it really reduces what you can do.



In the end we all agreed that although our netbooks are not as "fun", they do enable us to do more of the out of office business
functions that our roles require. We also agreed that the increased cost (we can get a decent netbook for $300-$325 while the tablet will go
for $430-$900) was not worth it even if it could do everything we needed it to.

There is however the "fun" and "cool" factor to be considered. I for one, opted to keep my iPad2 but I've written this article on my
trusty old netbook. As for our small business clients? We went through a number of our key clients discussing whether they would find value in one of the tablets we evaluated, and a number of them felt it would worth talking about.
This just goes to prove again that the variety we see if the marketplace is needed as everyone's needs (and wants) are different.


Survey Results

Responses reflect small business users in the Greater Stamford, CT area



I don't own or have interest in a tablet or netbook

I don't own or have interest in a tablet or netbook


I own a tablet or netbook

I own a tablet or netbook


I would like to own a tablet or netbook for business use

I would like to own a tablet or netbook for business use


I'm curious whether a tablet would make my business more productive

I'm curious whether a tablet would make my business more productive


I own a smartphone

I own a smartphone



Additional Resources

Samsung Galaxy - Tiger Direct

BlackBerry - PlayBook BestBuy

Apple - iPad2 - Apple


KnowITAll slide deck from Tablets, Tablets, Tablets

Can an Archive PST file get to big? Is there a recommended maximum size?

Before Outlook 2003, PST files used ANSI encoding which limited the size to 2Gb, and beyond 2Gb Outlook would not recognize the file. In Outlook 2003 and newer they reconfigured this to allow for a default maximum PST file size of 20Gb using Unicode encoding. The maximum file size can also be configured to be larger if needed.

The location of the archive file can be an issue as well, specifically in Outlook 2010 which will hang/crash when trying to open an archive file located across the network. There does not seem to be an issue with this in Outlook 2003 and 2007, though keep in mind if your archive file is very large, performance will be impacted when opening it, especially over the network.

It is always best practice to delete the emails you don't need and to clean out your Inbox and other folders of unneeded emails regularly.
Additionally if you have multiple archive files, determine if you need to have all of them open every time you use Outlook as this can affect performance as well.

Generally speaking (when using Outlook 2003 or newer), if your .pst file gets larger than a few Gb's it's a good idea to make an archive of it. When doing so there are options to archive emails older than a given date. Using this feature will allow you to archive specifically what you want. There are also AutoArchive settings which can be applied to your Inbox or even specific folders within your Inbox. For instance you could have emails older than 1 month automatically added to an archive for your Inbox or any other folder in Outlook.

Lastly, even though your Outlook 2003 and newer archive and .pst files can grow to 20Gb or larger, if you find either one of these files is larger than say 5-10Gb you may want to consider probing through them to see if there's anything you can get rid of...if not, then at least you know you can grow to at least 20Gb without any issues.

By Kyle Stewart

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tablets - What we like and what we don't! Evaluations begin

Tablets here we come!!!  I've been comparing the functionality and experience between my Netbook and the iPad2.  Now the team gets a chance to evaluate the Blackberry Playbook and the Samsung Galaxy.  Many thanks to Best Buy and Blackberry rep Aaron Clough for support our eval.  Our "Tablets, Tablet, Tablets" expo is on May11th.  Send your rsvp to

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Does it really pay to be on a flat–rate Help Desk plan?



I just completed a cost-benefit analysis for one our clients that was concerned that they didn’t need a plan with “all the bells and whistles”.  The analysis for them proved to me again that the cost of being on a flat-rate plan that includes Help Desk is more cost effective.

Specifically, we provided them with 33.44 hours of Help Desk services over the past 7 months (this is a 10 PC environment) .  The difference between paying for those services flat rate versus hourly saved them $1,414 over 7 months.  An annual savings of $2,424 that is now in their bottom line and in their pocket!

Here is a sample of problems we covered at the flat-rate:

- renewed their domain

- fixed a printing problem

- printer showing up as uninstalled

- unable to logon to their in-house application

- message from the anti-virus software

- installed a new network switch

- provided after hours support to someone working late and not able to logon to application A

- dealt with a workstation hard drive alert that we received that the hard drive was failing

- updated their website

- providing 1-1 training on mail-merge

- fixed a problem with the scanner not working

- fixed a performance degradation on a machine

- reset passwords when someone forgot theirs

- fixed a display issue that they had caused themselves

- fixed a problem with IE

- provided them with an analysis of the cost of printing on each of the printers and made recommendations to move equipment so that high volume printing was moved to the least costly printer.


Get rid of those monthly bills for hourly services by moving onto a plan that includes UNLIMITED Help Desk calls and put money in your pocket.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What is the value of a flat-rate IT managed services contract?

We do get this question from our clients sometimes.  It typically happens after being with us for close to a year.  Their environment is stable, there are few if any problems, they never get involved with IT.  As part of a expense review (like all good business people should do), they ask themselves, so why am I paying this money every month?
That is like asking your dentist why come in for a cleaning and checkup if there is no problem?
If my car is running fine, why should I have the oil changed or pay to have someone “check” those things listed in the maintenance plan of the owner’s manual.
Why do you get vaccinated for a disease that hasn’t shown up in your part of the world for tens of years?  Why get a flu shot?
Why have someone else manage your technology?

Because prevention and monitoring saves you money and creates stability.  Plain and simple.

CMIT is committed to providing a flat-rate service contract that applies the tried and true proactive maintenance and monitoring to keep your technology working hard for you and not sucking up your time.  Added to that you now are engaged with a knowledgeable team of technology people that do the work of keeping up with change to make sure your technology doesn’t turn into a dinosaur. Have a technology question? heard about something? wondering if something is appropriate for small technology?  You have someone to call on and you WILL get the right answer in language you can understand.
Our plans are not calculated on a per hour basis, but rather based on:
- Number of PCs
- Number of servers
- Number network devices
- Number of end users
- # GB of data in the data backups
- Response time commitment
- After hours support
- software & subscriptions we maintain enterprise pools for
- Complexity of your environment (medium-low)
If you were to pay for all the services that you are receiving on a per-hour basis, it would far exceed the price of our plans (we even can walk you through it as proof)
To move to an “as needed” or hourly basis the following would be required:
- Purchase and installation of your own anti-virus software (we include it in our flat-rate plan)
- Patch Management solution (a WSUS server would need to be installed and the someone would need to come weekly to review and approve the updates) (we actually test ours in a lab but you won’t be able to do that unless you have a “lab”)
- Design, purchase and install a onsite- offsite data backup solution. Someone would need to review it at the frequency you select for error (they all fall-down at least once a year).
- You would forego server and network monitoring as the cost is prohibitively high for small businesses.  You would undoubtly come to work one day and your server or network wouldn’t be working and no one would be able to be productive until it was fixed (what kind of response time commitment can you get if you not on a plan? ours is next day best case
- You would be forging continuous performance maintenance; a on-request service call for this; typically takes 45-75 minutes of work at our hourly rates
- Response time would be next day anytime you call with something.
- no discount on our hourly rate
- There would be no reporting, annual assessment, technology planning, purchase assistance, vendor management; if these were requested the hourly rate would prevail.
Are you getting the picture?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why we like VIPRE for Virus Protection

This just came through from Sunbelt (the vendor that produces VIPRE)

“VIPRE Antivirus is the Fastest Antivirus

VIPRE has the fastest real-time protection against 5 major competitors according to a comprehensive test by a leading independent testing organization in November 2010.
VIPRE processed 4,500 megabytes of file data in 195 seconds, compared to a benchmark of 127 seconds; the next closest competitor processed the same data in 233 seconds. Complete results are available upon request from GFI.

Yes, speed matters.  We find that VIPRE is gentle on the use of your computers resources (doesn’t hog up memory or processor time), technical support is efficient and well priced.

We evaluate our choice in Virus Protection on a regular basis, to make sure we are keeping our clients on the best mousetrap and VIPRE continues to be our product of choice.