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For Business Sake: Dump the Freemail Service!

Recently, one of our clients was victimized in a phishing scam. She got an email from someone claiming to be from MSN Hotmail, saying they were going to close her account in 48 hours unless she was able to provide her email address, password and birthdate. They stole her hotmail account: They changed all her secret questions and birthdate. Then she locked out of her account. Now, we’re working hard to get it back from scammers who wile away their time, emailing her business associates, family and friends, begging for money on “her” behalf: “I’m in London and I lost my wallet! Please wire money to…” She was left with nothing. No emails. No email addresses. And no one sending her money to London.

Why did this happen? It could have all been avoided if she had not used an @hotmail.com account for business and personal email and contacts. You should think about dropping your easily obtained address. If you get hacked (and it’s easy to get that way). 

1) you may never get your contacts list back.

2) you may lose your email address permanently.

3) your calendar might disappear with your account.

Also, it’s not terribly professional. If you have a name like @yourcompany.com (I have an email that ends with “@itmcomputing.com”), it shows you are dedicated to your business and serious about it. If you need to register a domain name – go to one of the hundreds of services our there or go to our service at I Want A Domain Name.com

A registered domain name may cost more than the “free” services but starting over from scratch can cost you a lot more – in business and reputation.

If you just can’t live with out your @gmail.com @hotmail.com @rocketmail.com @yahoo.com email address, please, please change your password NOW.

Apple does it again – New Macs – new iMacs

If you haven’t been to the Apple Store recently, you must go and see these gorgeous machines. The new displays are incredible and the monstrous 27″ iMac is unbelievable!! (That’s more than two feet, the size of my cousin’s toddler! But really, the screen is the only “monstrous” thing. Everything else is absolutely beautiful.)

On October 20th, Apple unveiled their new Apple Macbook notebook computer. How did they manage the new Macbook so light with the super-serious battery? The most important change will be the new battery, a lithium polymer battery built right into the enclosure. Apple says you’ll get up to 7 hours on a single charge, and even though the battery isn’t removable, you’ll manage to charge the battery 1,000 times before the battery dies the long death. The battery is warranted for 1 year after purchase. To replace battery, You need to either send the Mac back to Apple (3-4 day turnaround) or take it to store for same day replacement. Costs – $129 (13″ & 15″) – $179 (17″) for new battery.

I’m gonna get onto a little techie soapbox here, because this is really important: In addition to the new, improved battery, the Apple Macbook will also get a graphical boost from an NVIDIA GeForce Mobility 9400M chipset, the same used in the smallest Macbook Pro 13-inch model. That graphics power will drive a new LED-backlit, 13.3-inch display, running at a 1280 by 800 pixel resolution, which should be great for watching HD movies at 720p or better. The new screen is all glossy, and sits flush with the glass bezel on the top lid of the notebook, just like on the new Macbook Pro models.

Unlike the Macbook Pros, the new Apple Macbook will be built with a polycarbonate plastic shell. Apple offers some non-slip resistance for their new plastic design to help the laptop stick to airline trays and laps. This machine gets a glass trackpad, without buttons, which supports up to 4 finger gestures (no snickering here). You just slide your fingers over the pad to make the mouse move.

The new Apple Macbook is only 1.08-inches thin and weighs 4.7 pounds. The notebook uses an Intel Core 2 Duo processor running at 2.26 GHz. The
standard configuration ships with 2GB or DDR3 RAM and a 250GB hard disk drive, but you can bump both of those to 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive.

Honestly, we’ve seen $300 netbooks with better port selection. You get 2 USB 2.0 ports, an Audio In/Out port, Gigabit Ethernet and a mini DisplayPort. First of all, we’d like to see more USB ports, which isn’t an unreasonable request for a $999 machine. Second, mini DisplayPort is a cruel choice for what is essentially the bargain Mac laptop. (DisplayPort monitors are rare, and adapters can be expensive.)
Fully loaded the new Macbook (list at $999) will cost you $1,250, with more RAM and HDD storage. As a comparison, the low end of the Windows 7 line of Laptops runs at $399. This low end Windows machine is bigger 15.4″ compared to 13″, heavier, has only 1-2 hour battery compared to 7 hour on Macbook, doesn’t have the cool “class” of the Apple machine, and its screen will not be as classy as the Macbook. On the other hand, with it you can read your email, surf the web, go on Facebook and Twitter using wired and wireless connectivity.

FYI: Rumor has it there will be a huge sale on Macs, ONE DAY ONLY at the Mac store on 11/27/2009, Black Friday. Up to 30% off iPods, Up to 25% off Macs!

The competition continues to heat up: Snow Leopard is released; Mac’s revamped line of its Macbook and iBook. Windows 7 was just released. You gotta love competition. Oh yeah: and the new iPod nano takes video! Pretty sweet, right?

Scheduling Meetings without Outlook – The Easy Way

Practicality is king in today’s business standards. Practical pricing, practical timing, practical office furniture, practically everything is best when it’s practical. Meetings are not always practical but they are almost always necessary.

Interesting fact: one study recently showed that the people who dislike meetings the most are the ones who are most responsible or getting the most things done in an average workday. That translates to this: the people who “just love meetings!” really enjoy the social experience and free bagels. Now I love bagels as much as the next Vegan Jew. But as an experienced business owner, I love getting together with clients for the practicality of getting something done, and getting needs met. So meetings? No prob. Here’s a few good tools:

SalesNexus. offers a variety of resources for sharing contacts, calendars, notes and documents. Your job can be tough. Making meetings happen should be easy.

Schedulicity. This is mainly a service-0riented site that helps you find providers for personal things, but have you ever noticed that things just happen better and/or faster when you make them happen yourself or you don’t have to pick up a phone? Sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth. If your on-the-run clientele might prefer the high-tech solution as opposed to the customer service phone-interview, consider listing your business here as well as scheduling your own appointments and services. Violin lessons? Find ’em here.

MeetingWizard
This productivity tool makes the planning process easier and more effective. MeetingWizard automatically sends invitations to participants (proposing alternate times, if necessary), summarizes their responses, updates you on the results, sends confirmations, and sends reminders. It is simple to use, so clients and colleagues won’t get turned off by the process. Think of it as a professional’s evite. Users can make changes and notes as needed, and instantly communicate changes or cancellations to participants. It’s free, friendly and helpful.

FREE Conference Calling Services

Schedule Conference Calls on a moment’s notice – they’re free – you can even record calls!

FreeConference
Conference calls – love them or not, the internet can’t completely replace a real voice, a conversation, or a meeting of the minds. This site schedules and hosts the phone meeting. Use the site to send the message to everyone who needs to be at the meeting, the message comes with a phone number and access code, everyone calls the number at the specified time, voila: conference meeting in your pj’s (note: pj’s are not necessarily recommended. Depends on your business and your personality.)

FreeConferenceCall
Similar name, similar service. All lines are secure: You’re allowed up to 6 hours of conference “room” for up to 96 callers. Both sites offer upgrades for small fees; neither require business attire. Just do/wear whatever’s practical!

Windows 7 – To Buy or Not to Buy – That is the Question

So, Windows 7 has been out for a while now and you’re probably asking yourself, “Am I missing out on the fun? Should I upgrade?”

First off, a generality about Windows 7: it’s a renaming/re-branding of Windows Vista. No matter what smokescreen/clouds people tell you, it’s really a VERY NICE upgrade to Windows Vista. When Vista came out, it was a completely different operating system, so much of hardware wasn’t compatible, people needed new hardware (like new printers, new computers) and people complained a lot. With Windows 7, all hardware is Vista compliant, so it’s Windows 7 compliant.

If you have Windows XP and you’re generally happy with your system, I recommend staying with current system. More than likely, you won’t have a powerful enough machine for Windows 7.

If you have Windows Vista system, and you’ve been unhappy with slowness of machine, you are a perfect candidate for Windows 7 upgrade.

If you’re buying a new computer, make sure to get a Windows 7 machine. There are still some refurbished Desktops and Laptops with Vista. For Netbooks, I’d stay with Windows XP.

To see how you’re computer will do with Windows 7, I suggest you run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor.

The Benefits of Windows 7
Faster Performance – You should see a major increase over Vista.

Digital Hub – You will find it much easier to connect network devices, such as digital music hubs, multiple computers, etc.

Improved Navigation – Strips out much of Vistas bloat and makes Navigation easier. You’ll also see a thumbnail of each open window – when you move your mouse over icon in the bar below. You’ll see a completely new taskbar which has improved functionality.

Better Compatibility – As mentioned, most of the compatibility bugs were worked out in Vista, so Windows 7 should work with most hardware and software products made from 2-3 years ago to present. If you have just 1-2 programs that will only run in Windows XP, get the free (amazingly) windows virtual pc software from Microsoft that let’s you run Windows XP progams separately from Windows 7. Beware: this software could be a bit tricky to install.

Gestures (like iPhone, Macs). This means that if you have a screen you can touch (such as a tablet), you’ll be able to touch icons, move icons and use other hand movements instead of using a mouse.

Music Streaming- From one Windows 7 to another Windows 7 machine is very easy. Only problem – you need to buy another Windows 7 computer to make this work!

Better Security – User Account Control (UAC) which made you approve ever little change, is now highly modifiable. You can have it be much less intrusive.

Need more info: Get a great list of Windows 7 Resource Guides

Great comparison – Windows Xp vs Vista vs Windows 7

Oh, and did you think to yourself, “I think I’ll just upgrade to Windows 7 from my Windows XP system. How hard can that be?” Well, it’s not a simple answer. You’ll either:
a) Have to do a clean install and re-install all your applications and data – thus wiping out your Windows XP
b) Do a “dual boot,” which means you won’t have access to your Windows XP data and will have to re-install all your applications – like Word, Excel, etc. . . .

Bottom line – I would only upgrade from XP to Windows 7 if you have a computer sitting around you don’t mind if everything gets wiped off.

For more details on Windows XP – Windows 7.

Bye-bye, slow Vista Bus!

Windows 7 – Get it for Free; Get it for $49

Ever wanted to try a Microsoft product for almost a year for free? Now’s the time! Get Windows 7, Release Candidate 1 for no charge. It expires 6/1/2010, but starts shutting down, every 2 hours on 3/1/2010. Best to buy some time – mid February next year . . . or . .

Thanks to a tip from my buddy Fred, you can get a pre-order version for only $50 for the Premium HOME version. I know, Apple fans – it’s STILL $20 more than Mac Operating System – Snow Leopard upgrade (which is only $30! when it gets released) – but it’s still a deal!

This is a great time for you Mac users out there who haven’t tried Windows under Bootcamp to give it a go! You can try until June of next year and only buy if you use it regularly. Great for web designers (Cyndi – hint, hint), who need to test sites on Internet Explorer 8 (and before!).

Notes on Installing Windows 7:

There are extensive notes about creating DVD using Active ISO for Windows, Mac has this feature built-in from download and installing Windows 7. Read very thoroughly. These are just a few notes from Microsoft’s website:

Be very careful and DON’T PUT THIS ON YOUR REGULAR PC.

  • Dedicated test PC: Please don’t test the RC on your primary home or business PC.

  • Data backup: The information on your PC will not be saved during installation. Back up your PC before you start, and frequently during testing. You can back up files to an external hard disk, a DVD or CD, or a network folder. (See How to back up a PC.) If you’re running Windows 7 Beta on the PC you’ll use for test, you can use Windows Easy Transfer to create a backup on an external drive. To find and launch Windows Easy Transfer, just type “easy” in the Start search box.

  • Recovery disc: A recovery disc restores your computer to its out-of-the-box state. Most computers come with one. If yours didn’t, contact your PC maker.

  • Antivirus program: Make sure your antivirus program is up-to-date, run it, then disable it before installing Windows 7 RC. When you finish the installation, remember to re-enable the antivirus program.

  • Internet connection: Be sure to connect to the Internet after you finish the installation. Being connected helps make sure you get useful security and hardware updates. We recommend you keep your PC set to automatically check for updates through Windows Update.

Why, you ask, did I put such a funky logo at top? Well, Windows 7 looks a lot like Vista, but major changes have been made “under the hood.”

Chrome – bye bye Firefox and Internet Explorer?

I highly recommend Google’s Chrome. Especially, since it’s now out of beta. It’s super speedy and takes up so little resources. Right now I have FF and Chrome open with about 10 tabs. FF takes up 309 MB ram. Chrome takes up 73 MB of RAM. Plus I love the fact when you open new tab you see your most popular 10 sites. It’s so swift and easy to use. I have the same feeling I did when I first used Firefox.
What does chrome look like? Take a look at my screen!
A couple of “goctchas”
1. There is no support for Mac or Linux yet. 
2. There are no “plug-ins”.
What do you think?