Small Business Tips

Technology Post Archive
Featuring articles on the topic of technology and the impact on small business including hardware, software, technological advances, management, association, optimization, communications, cutting costs, cybercrime and online/offline security.
IBM’s 500Ghz Cryogenic Chip

IBM and Georgia Tech claimed they have demonstrated the first silicon-based chip that can operate above 500 GHz by cryogenically “freezing” the circuit. By comparison, 500 GHz is more than 250 times faster than today’s cell phones, which typically operate at approximately 2 GHz.

By freezing the circuit to minus 451 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 Kelvins), scientists can explore the ultimate speed limits of silicon germanium (SiGe) devices, which are said to operate faster at cold temperatures. This type of chip operated at 350Ghz at room temperature, which is still 175 times faster than chips used today.

“This groundbreaking collaborative research by Georgia Tech and IBM redefines the performance limits of silicon-based semiconductors,” Bernie Meyerson, vice president and chief technologist at IBM Systems and Technology Group.

This could obviously have a large impact on large and small business around the world.

I plan to buy some IBM stock soon as they are a major player in the nanotechnology sector, arguably one of the largest technological think-tanks in the world. Their advances will only continue over the next decade.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
IBM’s SecureBlue Encryption
What to Expect from Technology in 2007
Revisions to the U.S. Patent Law Under Consideration
Avoiding the Courtroom: Tips for Deterring Litigation
What’s Your Business Model?

By Chris Brunner
Sunday, March 5th, 2017 @ 12:12 AM CDT

Technology |

IBM’s SecureBlue Encryption

IBM Corp. has announced “SecureBlue”, a security architecture that “can be built into a microprocessor chip to provide defense features previously unseen”.

IBM claims “the chip encryption process allows for increased security for both the microprocessor on which it is added, and the entire devices the chips are used in.”

Unfortunately IBM’s encryption engine is not plug-and-play. SecureBlue will need to be woven into a processor’s circuitry during the manufacturing process.

This means that the first offering of SecureBlue will likely will end up only in devices made by companies that hire IBM’s custom engineering unit. That group’s projects include chips for medical and defense systems and video game consoles.

Official IBM Press Release

Related Readings:

IBM Bakes Security Into Processors
SecureBlue, New Encryption Chip from IBM
IBM Partners with Missouri State University to boost IT training


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
IBM’s 500Ghz Cryogenic Chip
The Benefits of Adding Video Surveillance
What to Expect from Technology in 2007
Taking Business Ques from Nintendo
Protect Your Wireless Networks

By Chris Brunner
Monday, February 27th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Technology |

Windows XP on Apple/Intel Computers

Apple Computer Inc., the maker of the Macintosh computer and iPod music devices, on Wednesday rolled out a software patch under its plan to move its computers over to Intel Corp. microprocessors.

Apple said that the new software, called “Boot Camp”, enables Intel-based Macs to install and run Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system software. Boot Camp is available as a download beginning today.

Apple Introduces Boot Camp

Recommended Reading:

• AppleXnet.com – Apple OS Boot Camp Details
• Technovia – Why Boot Camp Won’t Make Much Difference
• InfoWorld Daily – A first look at how Apple’s Boot Camp works


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What to Expect from Technology in 2007
Which Internet Browser Should You Choose?
3 Ways to Pay Less for Technology
How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses
Effective Logo Design for Small Businesses

By Chris Brunner
Sunday, February 26th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

Holographic Storage Drives

A new and exciting development in data storage has been announced by Inphase Technologies out of Longmont, Colorado.

Inphase has demonstrated the highest data density of any commercial technology by recording 515 gigbits of data per square inch. By comparison, magnetic disks, such as those used in the hard drives, can manage a storage density of about 375 gigabits per square inch.

Holographic drives use a three-dimensional image generated by lasers to store information.

InPhase will deliver the industry’s first holographic drive and media later this year. The first generation drive has a capacity of 300 gigabytes on a single disk with a 20 megabyte per second transfer rate. The first product will be followed by a family ranging from 800Gb to 1.6 terabyte (Tb) capacity.

Quick Facts:
• 50 years lifetime compared to today’s 7 years.
• 70% more storage space.
• 90% cheaper

Half-Terabit per-square-inch Data Density Achieved

Recommended Reading:
• Engadget.com – New Record set for Fastest Data Transmission
• BBC.co.uk – Holographic Advance Aids Storage
Inphase Technologies


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Business Instincts vs Data
Funding Request & Financial Information – How to Write a Business Plan : Part 5 of 8
A Newer Way of Avoiding High Energy Bills
Entrepreneurial Style
Elements of a Franchise Agreement

By Chris Brunner
Friday, February 24th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

Recruitment Management Software

A recent iLogos Research study revealed 94% of Fortune 500 companies now hire employees online, a stark contrast from 1998, when only 29% of them were doing the same.

The demands of small business owners everywhere are being met by developers who have been busy creating software that can manage new employee recruitment online. This technology could make your life as a small business owner easier, bringing in stronger, more savvy candidates.

It’s important to do your research and find the technology that’s the best fit for your company. When shopping around for a recruitment manager program, consider the following questions:

Cost: Is the advertised price the actual price?
Ease of Use: Is it easy-to-use, even if I’m a computer novice?
Setup: How long will it take to get up and running?
Features: What’s included?
Service: Will I get a helping hand?

Source:

How to Hire Like the Fortune 500′s

Recommended Links:

Google Directory – Recruitment Management
Get More Marketing Value from Recruitment Software
The New World of On-Demand Software


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
3 Ways to Pay Less for Technology
Windows XP on Apple/Intel Computers
New Innovations for Deterring Software Piracy
Help Wanted: Advertising Job Openings Online
What to Expect from Technology in 2007

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

Shared WiFi on the Way

FON, the brainchild of entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, has just raised $21.7 million from Google, Skype, Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures.

FON is a global community of people who share WiFi (wireless Internet access). By sharing your WiFi broadband connection at home/work, you are entitled to connect to other shared Fon WiFi access points anywhere in the world.

At this writing, FON has over 3,000 registered users with a goal of more than 30,000 FON WiFi hotspots worldwide by 2007. For now, FON is available in Europe and U.S. only.

FON seems to be picking up steam very quickly, however, there is still some skepticism in the community as to what FON plans to bring to the table and how secure the network will actually be.

FON Security

According to FON’s website: If you have registered your WiFi in the FON Community, you will be protected through your local password which you can change whenever you choose.

You will share your WiFi connection with registered Foneros from around the world. Unlike the open WiFi networks that are not password protected, all Foneros who connect through your WiFi are registered and identifiable.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Protect Your Wireless Networks
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
Local Currency Helps Small Business
Rules for Networking on MySpace
Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers

By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

Cybercrime on the Rise

It’s estimated that 85% of malware today is created with profit in mind. The sobering corollary to that statistic: only 5% of cyber criminals are caught and prosecuted.

The FBI has already identified fighting cyber- and high-technology crimes as No. 3 among its top 10 priorities.

Recommended Reading:

It’s Time to Arrest Cyber Crime
Cybercrime Feared 3 Times More Than Physical Crime
IBM Report Anticipates Surge in Cyber Attacks in 2006
FBI survey finds cybercrime rising


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Defeating Spam and Phishing
Marketing with Postcards
Easy Return Policy Means Return Customers
What IRS Auditors Look For
The Beneficial Chaos of Black Friday

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

Futuristic Handshake Devices

Information can be transferred by optical electric field sensors, travel through the body as a small amount of voltage and end up in cell phones or other mobile devices. The 50-gram device is the size of a matchbox, and must be worn by both parties.

Wait… did this article just say that this device would send a small amount of voltage through my body? Hmmm…

If two people each wear [the device], they could receive each others details into their cellphones or other mobile gadgets simply through body contact.

Other uses of the technology include allowing people to unlock a door by touching the door knob.

I like the doorknob idea, but the swapping contact information by standing next to someone is a little out there. Especially when you can use your (free) vocal cords for an old fashion “Hello, my name is Chris. What is yours?”.

I’m all about technology making our lives easier, however, in business there is no substitute for a little human contact.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Discerning Truth From Lies
What to Expect from Technology in 2007
Protect Your Wireless Networks
How to Issue a Press Release
New Advertisement Placement Ideas

By Chris Brunner
Sunday, February 12th, 2017 @ 12:09 AM CDT

Technology |

Broadband Over Powerlines

High-speed Internet connections over powerlines and electrical currents is not entirely new, however, it is little known to the public.

I believe this technology will soon be a viable alternative to Cable and DSL connections. With two-way speeds of up to 25 times that of Cable and DSL, this technology could have a significant impact on all things electronic.

There are, however, some kinks that need to be worked out first… such as interference with certain radio frequencies.

Customers who subscribe to the service simply plug a tiny modem, based on the HomePlug power line standard, into an electrical outlet and connect a cable from their computer for Internet access.

Recommended Reading:

HowStuffWorks: BPL (Broadband o’ Power Lines)
WiredNews: Broadband Over Power Lines?
Why broadband over power lines is a bad idea


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo
3 Ways to Pay Less for Technology
Shared WiFi on the Way
But on the Other Hand . . . (i.e. Exploring Options)
Protect Your Wireless Networks

By Chris Brunner
Friday, February 3rd, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Technology |

C|net Launches Small Business Site

C|net has launched a new web site:
Best Practices: Tips for Your Small Business

“If you’re in business, you’re looking for solutions. What you do with your systems, software, and services is as important as what you buy. Knowing how to get started, where to turn, and what questions to ask helps you streamline your efforts and make more money.”

There are a few useful articles, but for the most part the site looks pretty bare. Since it is new, I assume that more content will be added over time. Bookmark this and check back in a few months as I have a feeling there will be some good articles posted there.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website
The Importance of a Logo
Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers
Learning from Google’s HR Techniques
Rules for Networking on MySpace

By Chris Brunner
Thursday, February 2nd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

Defeating Spam and Phishing

An estimated 45 percent of all e-mail is defined as spam, costing business worldwide $20 billion a year in lost productivity and technology expenses, according to the Radicati Group, a market research firm in Palo Alto, California.

Following are five critical tips which will help you create a more productive workplace that is better protected against spam and phishing attacks–even if you have minimal or no IT staff.

1) Make sure your employees are aware of “phishing” attacks.
2) Educate employees on the how-tos of secure e-mail usage.
3) Protect your business from being “phished.”
4) Let your employees have some control.
5) Choose an e-mail security solution that’s right for you.

Recommended Reading:

What is Phishing?
How to prevent spam


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing
How Accessible are You?
Cybercrime on the Rise
The Right Way to Write-Off Business Expenses (Part 1)
Leaders as Strong Public Speakers

By Chris Brunner
Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Technology |

3 Ways to Pay Less for Technology

Thinking of investing in new technology for your business?

Vendors have recently slashed prices for computers and other technology. “What you used to spend $2,000 for, you can get for $950 to $1,200,” says Alan Pearlman, an attorney and computer consultant. “I don’t think there’s a better time to buy than right now.”

Be on the lookout though. The prices of PC parts are on the rise and will be passed on to you, the consumer.

How can you pay less while getting more than everyone else? Follow these 3 steps:

1) Renegotiate existing contracts for consulting and network services.
2) Make sure you need whatever new technology you do buy.
3) Set up a system to keep doing it.

Finally, keep in mind that newer technology isn’t always better!

Recommended Reading
How to Buy Computer Equipment for Your Business
When Should I Upgrade My Computer Hardware?


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses
Protect Your Wireless Networks
A Newer Way of Avoiding High Energy Bills
More Tips for Expo Success
Broadband Over Powerlines

By Chris Brunner
Monday, January 23rd, 2017 @ 12:11 AM CDT

Technology |

Protect Your Wireless Networks

“Wireless networks transmit data over radio waves, which can potentially be intercepted. As a result, an unprotected wireless network is like an unlocked door–and too many small businesses are leaving their doors wide open.

By year’s end, about 75 percent of businesses with 1,000 employees or less will have wireless networks, according to research firm Gartner. Only half of all wireless networks are protected.”

You don’t have to be a “techie” to be concerned about security. The hacking of wireless networks is real. As wireless technology becomes more popular, the potential for abuse and crime will rise with it.

Here are steps you can take to secure your wireless network:

  • Change your device’s default password.
  • Change the default SSID.
  • Don’t broadcast the SSID.
  • Use encryption.
  • Give off-site users a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
  • Keep your wireless hardware’s firmware updated.
  • Enable MAC address filtering.
  • Set a wireless policy.
  • Get help if you need it.
  • Stay up to date.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Shared WiFi on the Way
Cybercrime on the Rise
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
Global Markets and Business Etiquette
Futuristic Handshake Devices

By Chris Brunner
Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Technology |

Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing

Among the ever popular forms of marketing such as TV and radio ads, billboards, fliers and business cards, e-mail is another popular way to stay connected with current and future consumers. But how do you establish an e-mail list that won’t “spam” your incoming messages? And how do you keep people on that list?

List Sign-up
The best way to establish and keep a successful e-mail marketing list is to offer a list sign-up on your website and other marketing materials. That way, people who are interested in your product and special offers, and who want to hear about them, will be the recipients of your e-mails, which will help to keep them from being marked spam.

Continue Reading: “Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Defeating Spam and Phishing
How Accessible are You?
Direct Mail Marketing Tips (1 of 2)
Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research
Marketing Your Website

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Technology |

Ways to Save on Technology in 2008

As each new year approaches, we all try and think of ways to make things for our business work more smoothly. And we definitely want to cut corners where we can and save some money. Here are some ideas to help to save some dough when it comes to your business’ technology needs:

Speed Things Up
Have your network bandwidth increased to speed up the overall processing time of your computers. The faster things move on your computer system, the quicker tasks get done. This means more time available for other tasks and, essentially, saving money because employees are getting more done for the same amount.

Consider Remote Access
If you have employees who are on the road a lot (including yourself), or even those who may be workaholics and would put in more time in their off hours if the had the option, then you may want to consider making your system remotely accessible. You will need to have a server that can provide for access by multiple users, or simply set up password-secure access to your service. Provide your employees with a laptop, a wireless card and an internet browser and they will be able to access your system and do extra work wherever a Wi-Fi connection is available. While it’s an investment, it will save you money in the long run because, again, more work will get done in a shorter amount of time.

Continue Reading: “Ways to Save on Technology in 2008″


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses
Find a Financial Planner
What to Expect from Technology in 2007
Freelance Your Expertise
The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, December 5th, 2016 @ 12:04 AM CDT

Money, Technology |

The Importance of Website Accessibility

>Did you know that the option to make your website accessible to the blind, dyslexic or deaf was even a possibility? I hadn’t even thought of it. But it appears that, eventually, we will all be required to accommodate the handicapped. I have no problem with this, as I find it totally necessary, but the question is, how?

Currently there is a software available coined a “screen reader,” which, is purchased by the PC user and put on their computer and, when the code on the website is correct, the program reads the text out loud to the user, using braille-enabled keyboard commands rather than a mouse.

That is one option that will probably be phased out, however, due to the current changes and technological upgrades of latest websites. Those that provide videos and visual/auditory content should be providing closed-captioning for hard-of-hearing users, but there isn’t much out there that can keep up with the current video technology. And what about those who have a hard time manipulating a keyboard or mouse? Currently, the options are rather limited.

Continue Reading: “The Importance of Website Accessibility”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Inexpensive Ways to Conduct Marketing Research
For Vision Impaired Diners: Menus that Talk
Optimizing Your Google Search
New Technology Leaves Spell-Check in the Dust
Getting the Most Out of E-Mail Marketing

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Customer Service, Technology |

New Innovations for Deterring Software Piracy

>We’ve all faced the temptation to burn a copy of someone’s Beatles album or Microsoft Office program. Heck, when programs like Napster first emerged and provided free mp3 downloads, everyone was taking advantages and burning CDs for pennies on the dollar.

But, in recent years, industries like the Business Software Alliance have attempted to crack down on piracy. The anti-piracy ad that accompanies all rental DVDs and movie theater trailers has now become common place. And, in fact, piracy is one of the top issues involved in the Hollywood writers strike. Unfortunately, the attempts thus far have had little effect on piracy rates, which, according to BSA, have stopped falling.

Continue Reading: “New Innovations for Deterring Software Piracy”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses
Windows XP on Apple/Intel Computers
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
What to Expect from Technology in 2007
New Technology Leaves Spell-Check in the Dust

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, November 19th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Technology |

Taking Business Ques from Nintendo

By now most everyone has had an opportunity to at least try our Nintendo’s latest great invention, the Wii. As a female, I am not much of a gamer. I have one computer game that I play maybe three or four times a year, and only a couple of games on our GameCube that I played either when I was excruciatingly board, or we had company and played together (Mario Cart).

But that has changed quite a bit since we purchased a Wii at the end of August. Before, my husband would have to persuade me to play a game with him, so we could spend quality time together doing what he enjoyed. But he has to do little persuading when it comes to the Wii. Even the goofy games, like those on Wii Play, are enjoyable. Between that and Wii Sports, the whole thing is absolutely fabulous for when we have company over.

You may be wondering, at this point, what any of that has to do with business practices. Well, frankly, I think that those behind the Wii at Nintendo are business geniuses. Let’s examine what they have done with the Wii franchise and what the Wii has done for their business:

Continue Reading: “Taking Business Ques from Nintendo”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Knowing Your Customers
IBM’s SecureBlue Encryption
Advertising Your Product on Stage
Product Stickers and Respect
What Makes Women Entrepreneurs Different from Men?

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 @ 12:06 AM CDT

Marketing, Technology |

Getting Your Invention on the Market

You’ve brainstormed for uncountable hours. You’ve killed a dozen trees working through designs and specs. And you’re in the process of registering patent. Now you need to sell this new invention of yours, but how?

The Patent
First of all, don’t go for a full-fledged patent of your invention just yet, because, though you think it’s the greatest invention known to this generation, there may not be a market for it. Have you ever watched ABC’s American Inventor? Did you notice how many people thought the world of their inventions and spent gobs of money “perfecting” them, but were completely wrong about the consumer’s actual need for that product.

Instead of getting a patent right off, and spending quite a bit of money to do it, take the safe route and get a provisional application patent (which is approximately $100). This protects your invention from being swiped by someone else with a “patent pending” status (ever heard that phrase on a commercial?) for a period of one year. Before that 12 month period is expended, however, you must file for a full patent of your product.

Continue Reading: “Getting Your Invention on the Market”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Should You File a Patent on that Great Idea?
Revisions to the U.S. Patent Law Under Consideration
Expanding Your Business Overseas: Protecting Your Product
Getting Your Product to the National Market
Define Strategies, Service & Product Line – How to Write a Business Plan: Part 4 of 8

By Michelle Cramer
Saturday, October 15th, 2016 @ 12:10 AM CDT

Startup, Technology, Ventures |

What’s in a Domain Name?

One of the foremost aspects of starting a business is deciding on the name. You want something memorable, but also something that embodies the services you provide as well as the ethics you stand for.

However, what makes the process even more difficult these days is the difficulty in finding a domain name for your company’s website. And choices are becoming limited, especially when it comes to the .com domains. There are more than 71 million .com domains out there, which is nearly three times the combined total of the other domains, .net, .info, .biz and .us.

Nearly every single word in the english language is already spoken for as a domain name, and many of the obvious phrases associated with those word. This causes a bit of a problem for new businesses, as most want a domain name directly associated with their company name or the service they provide.

Because having a website is so important to the success of a new business, some are even revamping their business name in order to find a domain name that fits. The new hit these days is four-letter business names, which mean the same four-letter domain names. Take, for example, Bebo (a social-networking site), Etsy (an online crafts store), Lala, Lulu, Ning or Zing. Still yet, many businesses are choosing four-letter domain names which aren’t words at all, but simply acronyms for the business.

What’s the appeal of a four-letter domain name? Many say the like the idea that their site is easy for customers to remember. It means less of a chance the customer will spell the website wrong when attempting to access it, as well as faster access to the site (four letters is a lot quicker to type than 15).

I think it all comes down to the fact that, what’s in your domain name should be secondary to your actual business name. That’s more important. And people who are actually interested in you are more interested in the quality of the services your provide, not whether your website domain name is easier to remember. If they want your services or product, they will access your website regardless of the name.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers
Is Your Business Online Yet?
Customer Reviews Make Business Better
Marketing Your Website
How to Issue a Press Release

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, October 14th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Startup, Technology |

Optimizing Your Google Search

Google LogoGoogle has been around for nearly a decade now, but some people still don’t have the hang of it. They enter their search, but still aren’t finding exactly what they’re looking for. Here are a few quick tips for optimizing your Google search results:

Use the Right Terms
Sometimes it can be difficult to use the right search terms, but the better terms you use, the better results you’ll get. For example, if you’re searching for something to help guide your meeting along, use the terms “meeting agenda templates” or “meeting outline” rather than “format for a meeting.” Or, on a more personal scale, use “inexpensive preowned car” instead of “cheap used car.” Someone advertising a used car for sale is more likely to use the more, shall we say, eloquent terms, and so should you.

Continue Reading: “Optimizing Your Google Search”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Internet Search Advertising: Google vs. Yahoo
Online Meetings, The Board Room Alternative
Testing New Marketing Ideas
Which Internet Browser Should You Choose?
Learning from Google’s HR Techniques

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, September 25th, 2016 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Technology |

For Vision Impaired Diners: Menus that Talk

There have been many times when out dining with my in-laws, that one or both of them have forgotten their reading glasses and have to strain to read the menu. When that happened to Susan Perry, while dining with her blind niece, she realized there were few options and got a great idea. What if the menu talked?

Your first thought may be that there are Braille menus for the blind, but less than ten percent of blind individuals can read Braille. That fact is what truly motivated Susan Perry to pursue her idea. And, after three months challenges and an investment of $300,000 of her own money (including the patent, legal fees and a lot of trial and error), the first prototype of “Menus that Talk” was born.

Continue Reading: “For Vision Impaired Diners: Menus that Talk”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Preparing for a Health Inspection
Technology Could Make Waitresses Obsolete
A Need for Pet Memorial Businesses
Startup Myths Keep Entrepreneurs Motivated
Marketing with a Dash of Controversy

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, September 9th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology, Ventures |

The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website

We all know that with any business venture there is risk involved – sometimes minor, often substantial. Being sued is a big risk, especially as your company grows and your network of clientele and other businesses expands.

Especially if you have a website.

Yes, you read that right. In this lawsuit-happy world of ours, all it takes is having a website, or allowing employees to use the internet at work, to drag you and your business into the courtroom. Everything from whines about content to product trademark and patent issues – all at the click of a mouse. Don’t get me wrong, having a website is synonymous with being successful with your business. It’s practically necessary. But you should be aware of the risk it involves.

Here are some examples of what can get you and your business into trouble when it comes to the internet:

Continue Reading: “The Lawsuit Risks of Having a Website”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What’s in a Domain Name?
Is Your Business Online Yet?
Avoiding the Courtroom: Tips for Deterring Litigation
Shared WiFi on the Way
Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers

By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Business Law, Technology |

The Benefits of Adding Video Surveillance

It may be time for your business to get some extra security. One option would be to hire security guards to patrol the doors and parking lot, but that means paying someone a substantial hourly wage to stay awake at night and watch your assets, and that may not be in the budget.

A more budget conscious option may be to install a video surveillance system. Though it can be rather expensive, it is a one time expense, rather than providing a regular pay check to a security guard. And most, of course, come with some kind of warranty if anything goes wrong.

Some other benefits to a video surveillance system:

Continue Reading: “The Benefits of Adding Video Surveillance”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Windows XP on Apple/Intel Computers
Preventing Employee Theft
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
Customer Reviews Make Business Better
How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, August 15th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

Online Meetings, The Board Room Alternative

As business owners, there are many, many times when we really need to be two places at once. Especially when it comes to trying to find time to meet with clients all over the country, and still keep an eye on business operations.

Fortunately there is a much simpler alternative to making a clone of ourselves: an online meeting.

I know it may sound a bit intimidating, especially for the not so tech savvy. And it certainly doesn’t have the same professional and comforting feel a client gets when meeting with you face-to-face, so it’s not something you want to replace all of your personal meetings with.

Consider the fact that an online meeting could include all the clients (or even investors) you intended to meet with individually regarding a new product/service at the same time, which would significantly reduce the time required of you to get the word out.

Continue Reading: “Online Meetings, The Board Room Alternative”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Broadband Over Powerlines
Standing on the Job
Is Your Business Online Yet?
Help Wanted: Advertising Job Openings Online
The Benefits of Adding Video Surveillance

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, August 11th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Operations, Technology |

How to Secure Your Business Against Computer Viruses

Bank accounts, client information, protected business processes… all are right there in front of you and can be accessed with the touch of a button. Every business has a least one computer with all the crucial information contained within. Truthfully, a good business can’t run without a computer these days.

So why is it that, despite the obvious threats of hackers and the like that loom out in cyberspace, many business computers (and even personal computers) are not being properly protected? Even if you think you’re taking adequate precautions to protect yourself and your business, chances are, you’re missing one of the crucial elements that will leave a gaping hole in your system, making it fully accessible.

To properly and effectively protect your computer, be sure to follow these steps:

1. It is absolutely critical that your computer have an anti-virus scan program, such as Norton, Mcafee, or my personal favorite used on all my home and office machines Panda Internet Security 2007. Most new computers come with one installed, but only with about a year subscription to their services. Once that year runs out, you no longer have access to the updates required for continued protection, so always keep your subscription up to date. The yearly cost far outweighs the loss you could have if a virus attacked.

2. It is also imperative that you regularly update your anti-virus programs virus definitions. Typically you can set the program up to where it updates the definitions automatically, without even bothering you. This is efficient if your system is connected to the Internet 24/7. If not, be sure that the definitions are updated when you do connect. Without current virus definitions, your system is not protected from the latest bugs.

3. Make sure that your operating system, like Windows, is regularly updated as well. Again, you can set the system up to where it updates automatically, but even then it will occasionally ask you about certain updates. Typically these updates contain software security patches. These patches do exactly that, they patch up holes in the system that may give access to hackers and viruses.

4. Run virus scan often. At the very least, run it weekly, but more often will protect you better. Also, be sure to back up the documents, projects and information you have saved to your hard drive on a regular basis. If you’re using a server, have each computer user back-up their information to the server weekly. If not, I recommend backing-up to a flash drive or CD-R. Save information that you could not replace if the system were to crash.

If you do end up with a computer virus even after taking all the precautions possible (and it can happen at some point), there are steps to take to get rid of the problem. First and foremost, if the infected computer is connected to a network, immediately disconnect and isolate that computer. Some viruses are able to quickly spread to other computers on the network. Train your employees to take proper action when a problem surfaces.

Next, find the removal tool for that particular virus. Your anti-virus scan program can warn you that the virus exists and say that it is deleted, but 9 times out of 10, it’s not completely gone. You will typically need to use the removal tool, most of which can be found by doing an online search with “[virus name] removal.”

Once the virus is removed, be sure to do another virus scan, just to make sure. If the virus crashed your operating system, format and reinstall. This is where the backup that you’ve been running comes in handy. You can always reinstall programs, but cannot replace the information on those programs, such as the client bills for the last three years.

And finally, once everything is reinstalled, run virus scan again, just in case. You can never be too careful when it comes to computer viruses… ever.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
New Innovations for Deterring Software Piracy
Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers
3 Ways to Pay Less for Technology
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
A Little Relief from High Gas Prices on the Horizon

By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

A New Way for Employees to Get Paid

Some say that there will soon come a day when checks are no longer in existence. Well, how would you like to get paid by your employer with a debit card? Sounds a bit strange, but it’s catching on and here’s why:

Many businesses have employees, such as minors or new U.S. immigrants, that don’t hold bank accounts. When those employees receive their paycheck, they will pay up to 10% of the check in order to get it cashed. A recent alternative is providing employees with a payroll debit card.

Basically, the employer deposits funds in a payroll account and then distributes payroll debit cards to his employees. Each card has an amount attached to it that is equal to that of the employee’s paycheck for that pay period. The funds can be withdrawn from an ATM or the card used as a debit card at any retailer.

Not only does it save employees without bank accounts the expense of getting a check cashed, but it also saves the employer the expense of printing paper paychecks. Checks typically cost $1-2 to print, while it is only about twenty-cents to provide a payroll debit card.

There are still a few bugs left to work out, however. Most state laws require that employees get their entire paycheck on pay day. This could be a problem if the ATM machine has a withdrawal limit that is less the the employee’s paycheck amount. The employer may to have to pay extra ATM withdrawal fees for all of the funds to be accessible at once.

Not to mention the fact that changing over to a payroll debit card process (in addition to direct deposit) can be time consuming, as most employees would be wary of such a change at first. It would take some time to reassure them that the process is secure and efficient.

Payroll debit cards are clearly one of the first steps in the extinction of checks. Despite the wrinkles that remain in the process, it is definitely something that makes things a bit easier for the employee, and requires less paperwork for the employer, which is always a good thing.

Source:
• CNNMoney.com: The End of the Paycheck


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
How to Improve Your Credit Score
A Little Relief from High Gas Prices on the Horizon
Networking Cards: The Business Card Alternative
Retirement for the Sole-Proprietor
Remembering Your Customers

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, July 22nd, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Money, Operations, Technology |

New Technology Leaves Spell-Check in the Dust

We all use spell check. Admit it, you know you do. Even with a degree in English, spell check is critical to my daily routine at a law firm. What I find incredibly frustrating is when I want to know more than if a word is spelled right. I want to know if the sentence actually makes sense and sounds professional or if there might be a word that would get my point across better. But spell check doesn’t tell me, and I wish something did.

An Israeli software company called WhiteSmoke recognized the need and has developed an outstanding solution. Their program scans written English text and makes suggests of ways to improve sentence structure, make sentences clearer and more fluent to the English language, a.k.a. “text enrichment”.

The program provides specific suggestions for improvement of the document based upon relevant content and context, derived from the millions of English language documents stored in its data base. Everything from government and legal documents to newspapers to short stories.

What got this idea hopping was globalization and the fact that the internet is dominated with the English language. Important professional documents can be intimidating, but so can e-mails to clients and employers. WhiteSmoke’s program provides a means for communicating with others without your job hanging in the balance.

And WhiteSmoke’s number one buyer: the United States, which isn’t surprising. Not only do our regional dialects, and lack of confidence, hinder the proper use of context and grammar, but there is also a tremendous demand among those who know English only as a second language. Even if they can speak fluently, English is an exceptionally difficult language to produce accurately on paper. WhiteSmoke’s software can relieve some serious stress in that department.

This is one of those ideas we all wish we would have thought of first. Regardless of whose idea it was, I get the feeling WhiteSmoke’s product will be a common additive to Microsoft Office in the years to come. And WhiteSmoke is already reaping the benefits of this innovative commodity.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
The Adverse Effects of Poor Communication
What’s in a Domain Name?
The Importance of Website Accessibility
New Innovations for Deterring Software Piracy
Tips for Sorting Through Overwhelming Files

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, July 21st, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Technology |

Why Small Businesses are Gullible to Scams

What’s this world coming to that so many people are scamming others for money . . . and we’re falling for it? It really blows me away that so many people fail to do their homework and check out what their told by a random nobody who calls them up and says, “You owe us money.”

Granted, some of these scammers are good… too good really, but most of them prey on the gullible. And, unfortunately, small businesses can be far too gullible. They’re targets. New small businesses are hit by scammers because they have less experience in the ways of the business world and will probably assume everyone’s who they say they are.

Also, most small businesses are too small to afford a full-time legal staff to check out offers or claims. And many are in desperate need of investors and will jump at the chance of “free money.” And that’s what the scammers are hoping for.

There are endless scams out there, but if you own a small business, here are three common scams to look out for:

Overpayment
With this tactic, scammers order a product from you and mail in a check for payment, but they write the check for more than they owe, making look as though it was simply a misunderstanding, such as sending a check for $950, when the bill was $750, and claiming the seven looked like a nine. Your company sends a refund of $200 with the shipment of the items purchased.

But, a couple weeks later, the check bounces because the account is closed or doesn’t exist. And you’ve just given away your product, been stuck with the bill for a bounced check, and are out $200.

What makes this work is the fact that the small business owner is gullible enough to trust that the check will clear, and that should never be the case, not even with your regular customers, and MOST ESPECIALLY not with a new customer. Give the check 7-10 days to clear the bank before you even ship the product. And, if the check is written for too much, return it and require the correct amount. Make it part of your payment policy and you’ll avoid the scammers.

Disappearing Act
A common example is a fax received asking if you are interested in selling your business. If you are and you contact the company, they charge you several thousands of dollars (we’re talking $5-10K) for that company to determine what your business is worth. The problem is, you pay them and they never return. Poof, they disappear.

The best way to avoid this type of scam is to check out any business, whether you hear of them by fax or word of mouth, before giving them your money. Check their registration with the Secretary of State and the Better Business Bureau. Ask around and see if anyone else has heard of them. Even do a Google Search. Chances are, if they’re scammers, you’ll find out real quick. And unless you can find a solid gold list of references and validation, don’t even both.

Directory Listings
Fake invoices have been around for awhile, but an added twist to this fraud is that many scammers are claiming to be directory listings, whether in print or online. They typically call and tell you that your listing is about to expire and convince you to renew. Then they send you a bill for several hundred dollars.

Generally, however, there is no directory to begin with and you’ve just paid to have your company name listed nowhere. As a rule of thumb, if you’ve never heard of or even seen the directory, it probably doesn’t exist.

A great way to throw the scammer for a loop is, when they call for your renewal, ask for a copy of the previous directory so that you can make sure you like they way your company is listed before it’s renewed. They’re sure to hang-up at that point.

Again, always check to verify the true existence and good standing of a company before you do business with them. I have listed helpful resources below. Don’t give the benefit of the doubt — that’s what makes you gullible in the scammer’s eyes. I guarantee, anyone who is a legitimate customer will understand your skepticism and wait patiently for you to verify their company or funds.

Resources:
National Fraud Information Center
Better Business Bureau
BBB Online Reliability Seal Program
Federal Trade Commission
Internet Crime Complaint Center


Related Readings:

• Entrepreneur.com: Common Small-Business Scams
• Systematic, Inc.: How to Steer Clear of Internet Scams


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Small Business Scams
Recruitment Management Software
How Accessible are You?
Professional Employer Organization Services
C|net Launches Small Business Site

By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, July 10th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Money, Operations, Technology |

Which Internet Browser Should You Choose?

I made a switch this week after reading Entrepreneur.com’s The Latest in Browsers by Mike Hogan. I have been using Internet Explorer for as long as I can remember (after the fuss over AOL passed, anyway). But just the other day I decided to give Mozilla’s FireFox 2.0 a try, and I love it.

For starters, it’s important you know that there are three main browsers out there for your PC websurfing enjoyment: Internet Explorer (of course), Firefox, and Opera. Macs users also have the option of Apple Safari. Each of them has recently released a new, upgraded version. And all are free to download and use.

Now, to be honest, the new IE 7.0 took some getting used to, with a number of features getting relocated on the browser. I will admit, I sort of liked the fact that the favorites menu would actually stay open for me. On the older version, it would often disappear if my mouse so much as strayed a millimeter from the box. But it actually took me awhile to find it. And even now, months later, I’m still having problems remembering where the “home” and “print” tools are.

My brother-in-law (Chris Brunner, the owner of GreatFX Business Cards), who is a computer guru and really knows his stuff, has been using FireFox for awhile. So I already assumed it was probably of better quality somehow. But, I hate to change things around on my computer once I get used to the way they are, and I really didn’t feel up to re-learning a whole new browser when I was just beginning to get used to IE 7.0.

But Mike Hogan’s article really got me wondering what’s so special about FireFox. It supposedly has stronger security than IE, but what about the features? Oh well, I decided. What harm could it do to download something for free and try it out? So I did, and boy and I glad.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the condensed version of the tool and URL bar… one sleek line. As I began to explore, I noticed that the Favorites menu, deemed “Bookmarks” on FireFox, has this great feature that allows you to place your favorite bookmark folders right on the toolbar, while using only minimal space. Saves some time and effort, which is always nice.

I also love the simplicity of the options. With IE, I could never fully understand what option I was selecting, with everything in computer-programmer jargon. But with FireFox, all of the options are put in layman’s terms, so I really have the opportunity to make my browser do what I do and do not want it to. And I especially love the fact that there is a spell-check feature that checks absolutely everything I type, just like Word or WordPerfect… and believe me, I need that!

Overall, I found that things were really easy to navigate, and, though I still have a lot to explore on FireFox, the transition has been fairly easy and I’m glad I switched, at least for now. I haven’t disregarded IE entirely, it’s just been placed on the back burner. Apparently I may need it in the future in order to run Windows Update or for using ActiveX when FireFox isn’t sure the website is safe, but I am.

Granted, I haven’t given Opera a far advantage here… in fact, it’s received none at all. I didn’t even look at it as a possibility because I had never heard of it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not just as effective at security and ease.

It’s going to take some time to get anyone to switch browsers, with, as I understand it, 80% of internet users still loyal to IE. And that’s great. To each his own, but I have been converted.


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Internet Business Sees Holiday Shopping Boom
How You Know It’s Time to Grow
IRS Offers Business Tax-Tips CD
Is Your Business Online Yet?
Focus on Your Strengths

By Michelle Cramer
Friday, July 8th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Technology |

Technology Could Make Waitresses Obsolete

Within the past ten years, most restaurants have installed touch-screens at the server work stations, for the servers to enter in the order for their tables. Now, technology has taken things one step further by recently giving restauranteurs the opportunity to put touch-screen ordering terminals at the table, replacing waiters and waitresses all together.

uWink Media Bistro, which opened in a Los Angeles area mall in October 2006, is the first of it’s kind. The restaurant was founded by Nolan Bushnell, who also founded Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s, and he hopes to begin franchising this year.

Diners order on a touch-screen terminal at their table, and runners bring the food when it’s ready. In the interim, the terminal doubles as a video-game console to pass the time. If you need a refill on your drink, you simply touch “refill,” and 30 seconds later you have a full glass in front of you.

Lets weigh the pros and cons, shall we:

Continue Reading: “Technology Could Make Waitresses Obsolete”


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Preparing for a Health Inspection
A Bad Customer Service Experience
Taking Time Off
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
What to Expect from Technology in 2007

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, June 27th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Technology |

What to Expect from Technology in 2007

Have you seen Apple’s PC vs. Mac commercials (click to view ads)? You know, the ones where:

Two men stand side by side in front of a featureless, white background. “Hello, I’m a Mac,” says the guy on the right (who is much younger and dressed in jeans). “And I’m a PC,” says the guy on the left (who wears dorky glasses, ill-fitting khakis, and a jacket and tie). The two men discuss the many advantages of using a Mac and seem to agree that Macs are “better” than PCs [description courtesy of Slate.com].

I love those commercials, and I’m utterly a PC fan. But they are so well made and appealing (which, of course, is the idea). In fact, the ad campaign is rather brilliant, I’d say.

And, with 2007 being a war of new technology release between Microsoft and Apple, I would say that we’ll be seeing this ad campaign for awhile. Both companies will be releasing new versions of their main computing operation systems this year. The releases are expected to lead to upgrades to both the inside and outside of computers as we know them, as well as increase the selling price, for the first time in nearly 10 years, by 20-25%.

Microsoft will be releasing Windows Vista toward the end of January. The new operating system boasts features such as Windows SideShow, a technology that enables laptop manufacturers to include a secondary or auxiliary display in future laptop designs, which can be used to easily view the critical information you need (such as e-mails), whether the laptop is on, off, or in sleep mode.

Other Windows Vista features include voice recognition and Windows Backup, which allows you to access lost elements of your hard-drive more readily, even if the system crashes.

Apple’s new operating system is called Leopard. Some features include Time Machine, a similar program to Windows Backup, which allows you to search for deleted or lost files. Another feature, Spaces, organizes your on-screen windows into categories such as “work” and “play.”

Apple is also due to release iTV, a video-streaming technology, this year. This unit, a box similar to the Mac mini and designed to send video from a computer or iPod to your television screen, is expected to sell for around $300.

Intel has jumped on the release train as well. Due to release this year is their new wireless technology, Santa-Rosa, which will feature the latest Wi-Fi as well as greater power saving capabilities and faster access to memory. Robson, another innovation that is designed for Windows Vista, helps to speed up the start-up and application loading processes, making them up to two times faster (finally!).

There is also expected to be a boom in the ultra-mobile PC industry that Sony and other electronics manufacturers have already tapped in to. A cross between a notebook and smart phone, ultra-mobile PCs are designed for the consumer to be able to take their entire computer absolutely anywhere.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the innovations coming our way in 2007. It never ceases to amaze me how rapidly technology advances right under our noses. Who knows, maybe we aren’t far from the world of The Jetsons afterall.

Source:
• BusinessWeek.com: Tech – The Look Ahead to 2007


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
3 Ways to Pay Less for Technology
How to Issue a Press Release
IBM’s SecureBlue Encryption
Recruitment Management Software

By Michelle Cramer
Monday, June 20th, 2016 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Technology |

Internet Business Sees Holiday Shopping Boom

Now is the time to have an Internet business, as holiday shoppers are increasingly finding their stocking stuffers through online retailers.

From November 1st to December 3rd of this year, internet shopping rose to $12.42 billion, an increase of 25% since last year. The number of people making Internet purchases jumped 17%, while the amount of money spent by each buyer increased by 7%.

The retail areas seeing the most increase: videogames, jewelry and even tickets to concerts and shows.

An abundance of holiday Internet shopping occurrs on what is called “Cyber Monday,” the Monday following Thanksgiving each year. That is when online retailers debut their holiday products, virtual door busters and promotions such as free shipping with purchase.

However, with increased Internet shopping comes increased security concerns. An average of 46% of the 155 million web shoppers are concerned about the security of their personal information when making a purchase, but those numbers are typical.

Software developers such as Microsoft have been working hard to counteract shopper woes, such as upgrading security features of Internet Explorer web browser. The new version warns users if the site they are visiting is an imposter rather than an actual retailer. The down side is, as a new system, this only works 30-40% of the time.

Online retailers are also taking extra precautions. More frequently they are purchasing liability insurance that will cover themselves and their customers in the case of identity theft. By advertising this protection on their websites, retailers hope to encourage buyers to proceed with a bit more confidence.

Despite the reservations that the risk of identity theft pose, online purchases are expected to continue to increase over the holiday season and in future years as consumers enjoy shopping from the comfort of their own home. After all, who really wants to fight the crowds when you can get deals just as good online?

Online Holiday Sales Statistics

Sources:
• Business Week: Web Shoppers Spend More for Holidays
• Stamford Advocate: Online Shopping Popularity Continues to Rise


Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
The Beneficial Chaos of Black Friday
Is Your Business Online Yet?
Marketing Strategies for Halloween
The Benefits of Adding Video Surveillance
IBM’s SecureBlue Encryption

By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, June 9th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Technology |