Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Time Travel

I often wish I could go back in time and make a few adjustments.  of course when I think about it I really like the way things have turned out so I would only want to change the past if I could still learn the valuable lessons. 

So since that is all impossible I have another idea about time.  Maybe it's Time Management but really it's about having more free time.

When you have your own business it seems that you can work as much as you would like to.  Some entrepreneurs are work-a-holics and they go into business so they can work night and day and have it count for them.  I'm not really after that myself.  When I talk about Time Management I don't want to try to cram more stuff into my day.  I want to have lots of free time and make every minute count double for the effort I put in.

As a technology buff (nice way of saying geek) I fall into the trap of plugging into my computer at the beginning of the day.  I have my Cell Phone, my Vonage VoIP phone and Skype all at my disposal.  In addition I also have Windows Live Messenger loaded up so people can chat with me in real time and I can see my attached Hotmail messages... and of course Outlook is always open which receives (and sends) email from about 5 email accounts (and aliases) I have for business and personal uses.  So I am plugged in and am excited about the possibilities of even being more connected. 

I am realizing what that means... Lot's of Interruptions.  I may as well carry my laptop into a mall or some other busy location just to see if I can become any less productive. 

So I am working on trying to control these interruptions by setting "meeting" times during which I handle my communications.  The difficulty I face is that I can't unplug or my customers may consider me un-reachable.  I have always tried to respond back to them as quickly as I can. This is yet another opportunity to use Other People's Time (OPT). 

I don't have all the answers figured out yet but as always it's fun to get out some of the ideas.  Maybe someday I'll get some replies to these posts and I'll learn some better ways.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Motivation from Mixed Nuts

Many times I get fired up by reading a new book.  When I read I find my mind begins to get creative and think of new possibilities.  Last night motivation came from watching a Movie.  The movie was titled "Mixed Nuts"(1994) and the plot is described as "The events focus around a crisis hotline business on one crazy night during the Christmas holidays." 

Why did it motivate me?  I'm not exactly sure.  In the movie Steve Martin's character is having a number of business challenges.  By the end of the movie all the events come together to make some really good things happen.

So first of all I'm glad that in my business challenges I have never had the kinds of difficulties his Crisis Hotline experiences.  I haven't had the absolute level of craziness.  That's good but I haven't also had the events all wrap up so neatly either... that's too bad.

Also there is a message that sometimes when an event happens and I think it is going to turn out absolutely horrible it doesn't.  Sometimes... Often good things can come out of negative circumstances.  Some times you have to look harder than others.

This movie has been out for a while and I had watched it before.  I didn't recall it much and previously it didn't provide the motivation.  But now years later I was in the right frame of mind and open to the particular craziness that went on in the movie.  Also it was a Free Movie on my Comcast - OnDemand programming that will expire soon. 

This was a fun movie, reminded me to focus on the good things that come out of a situation and I recommend it.  More or less good for the Christmas Spirit attitude as well.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Today I have been thinking about this business skill.  When I started my morning by weight lifting for some reason I was thinking about Listening.  There was some reason but it was at 5am so it was too early to remember the why only that I was thinking about that. 

Then later in the day about 8 am I was talking to a friend of mine in Hamburg Germany, Marc Martinez of Strategic Media (  Marc provides consulting for Radio Stations among other creative ventures (I am a techy-accounting type with a bunch of creative friends, something to be figured out later).  Marc moved to Germany after the Berlin Wall came down and Radio Stations were moving into private hands.  He had by that time worked for many years in Radio in a number of big city markets.  He has worked in many aspects of Radio and communications Media including various forms of advertising (which by the way is generally how Radio Stations make their money, it's not by playing music).  Marc and I were talking about various business issues as well as personal issues since we have been friends for a long, long time (plus a few more years).  We didn't specifically talk about listening but because it was kind of my theme for the day I was thinking about it while we were talking. 

Marc and I talked about sales some.  I would venture that like me he at least considers himself somewhat a salesman.  We don't make our living purely as salesmen but we do have to sell our services to customers.  Can you imagine selling anything without listening? 

Ok so full disclosure -- whenever I write about something it is usually something I'm struggling with and trying to work out.  I don't always listen.  I LOVE to talk.  I want people to listen to ME and think I am a brilliant guy.  BUT, I am trying to learn how to become a better listener.  I write this blog to be a better communicator but in my quest for communication excellence I realize the most important skill is listening. 

I have ideas and I often thick they are brilliant ideas that would really enhance others lives.  I truly believe that if they listened to me they may learn something or avoid the mistakes I have made... and that is precisely why I must be a better listener.  I don't want to keep making such stupid mistakes.  There have been times that I wish I had listened better.  I have had some excellent advice while sitting at the beach with my wife's uncles.  Many of them have much success in business.  They got there the hard way, by working for it.  They have learned a thing or two and yet when I was younger I didn't listen as much as I should have.  I did listen to some of the ideas but not everything.

Ok, as I write I have many thoughts come to mind and could keep on giving all kinds of examples but if you are reading this I'm sure you get my point.  I am going to try to remember the good advice I have received but...

Now I think I will shut up and listen for a while.



Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I make mistakes!!!!!

This is not an apology.  I am saying this proudly. 

Today I was thinking how important this is to business-- the art of making mistakes.  No seriously.

If you are afraid of making a mistake you will probably not last very long as a business owner or starter (Entrepreneur).  Many people are in this boat.  They don't want to come across as stupid so they take one of two steps.

  1. They don't even try.
  2. They plan it down to every detail and take so long that by the time they start it doesn't really have much punch.

Do you look at a successful person and think they never made a mistake?  I do!  It's probably not true.  There are some people that seem to make every correct decision from the beginning and everything went their way.  Those people make the business journals and it is impressive.  I find myself hoping they can hold on because I am pretty sure that at some point they will make a mistake and then what do they do?  Their mistake is much more public than mine.  How embarrassing.

To be successful in business for a long term say 30 years I am pretty sure that you will come across a mistake and will have to recover from that mistake.  This is the next group of people and they also seem to do one of two things:

  1. They give up!
  2. They become frustrated and try to learn everything they can from that expensive mistake.  And if it isn't an expensive mistake it wasn't good enough. 

You have to recover from mistakes to be successful.  Today I was remembering some of my big mistakes and thinking about all the truly important lessons I learned from them.  It is crucial to keep picking yourself up and try, try again.  No it isn't easy.  It's embarrassing.  It will mess with your feelings of self-worth.  If you do it right even your friends and family will wonder if you will ever make anything of yourself.  YOU will wonder if you will ever make anything of yourself.  It makes you feel stupid to make a big mistake. 

One of the best things you learn from making a huge mistake is how to recognize a mistake earlier and take action.  You also learn what not to do next time (hopefully). 

Making mistakes is extremely important in business.  If you are really smart you will notice your mistakes early and recover from them quickly.  I hope you do, but it appears that the normal way this goes is that people make big mistakes and that's how they learn to pay more attention to small mistakes.

I Promise that I will keep making mistakes and I also promise that I will try to learn as much as I can from those mistakes.  I apologize if my mistake causes you any problems.  Know that I didn't mean to make the mistake.  I didn't set out to do it but it did happen. 

Monday, August 13, 2007

Team Works

I've been writing about this same basic subject for a while now, but this is another way at getting to the same conclusion.  In business Teams get more done than individuals.  I'm reading a book called "Wikinomics" right now and it is inspiring me once again to do what I have always needed to do, Get Help!

This is a topic I write about and think about often probably because as a business person I tend to think more about what I can do than about how I could lead a team.  I figure I'll start it, get it running work out the bugs and then get the help I need.  But maybe that is all wrong.  Maybe it's even backwards. 

I haven't written much in the last few months and every time I do I'm writing about this subject.  It's because this is a topic I am trying to get through my "thick skull" as the saying goes.  I do need to Get Help and I need to do it fast.

If I could get talented people to help me it would make my life so much easier.  Heck, even if I could get mildly talented people it would make a huge difference.

Here is an example of what I'm thinking of but from my family not work...

Often on the weekend my family operates as a bunch of individuals.  I get up mow the lawn while my wife works on the inside.  The kids, they do their own thing.  This last weekend we did it different.  My wife got the kids doing tasks to help in the house.  Earlier in the week my wife got the kids helping to pressure wash the back patio and deck as well as sanded it for painting.  Next we all got out to wash the cars together.  We did the whole thing wash, armour-all and windows.  My daughter painted her room furniture.  So instead of taking all day long we got a lot of stuff accomplished by 2:30 pm and we still had time to do something, so we cleaned up and left the house for a hike.

That's the biggest reason to make teams work in business, why?  So you can have fun doing it and mostly so you can have fun after you have done it.  PLAY.  I love to get out with my family and Play.  Finding people to help me get even more accomplished in a much shorter time allows me to get everything done that I want to do with my day.

Even though I had a great weekend and I'm fired up about teams I still have a lot of work to do.  You see sometimes it is a little uncomfortable.  Sometime it doesn't feel like you are getting much accomplished because you have to teach while you are getting the job done.  Then you think boy I could do this easier if I just took care of it myself.  Dumb, dumb, dumb and I'm talking to me!  It's going to take me a while to get this all worked out.

I have gotten some help and I put out the call for programmers.  I wrote about a project I did using Other People's Time and it was a great experience.  I also have the need to get help with my programming projects.  I keep trying to do it all myself and I want to find a better way.

I have grown my business by doing it all myself before and I don't want to do it again.  Even though it is not easier to get help I am still committed to doing it that way.  I have found that often one man operations are that way because we want to be the smartest person in the room.  I feel the need.  I go to talk to a customer about computers and networks and I feel the need to be the smartest person in the room.  I want to impress my customer with my knowledge and experience.  Hopefully my experience will always be something that helps my customers navigate a difficult challenge, but I'm tired of trying to be the smartest in the room.  I am ready to be the guy with the best team to get the job done, not be the guy with the biggest brain to get the job done. 

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Know any Programmers?

Well after the almost too wonderful success of using sub-contractors for a network install I am ready to branch out.  I also do some Access programming.  I am trying to find programmers who can work with Microsoft Access and VBA (visual basic for applications). 

So far I'm coming up with no leads but I am continuing to put the word out and see if I can come up with some good programmers. 

Eventually I would like to branch out to other projects using custom programming.  I have hopes to manage projects designed to run from web browsers.  There are many possibilities here but so far I haven't been able to explore any of those because I keep busy with my head down on the computer. 

I am believing this new approach will open up many more opportunities and new exciting projects that will allow me to explore new programs and new technologies. 

At the heart of things I love to play with new technology so best to get paid for it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Benefits of OPT

Just in case you didn't know that's Other People's Time.  So like I said almost a month ago... I had the idea to do a project but not DO the project.  It is the reason I haven't had time to write for a while.  I have been busy making it happen. 

The project:  Customer has Small Business Server 2000 on an old computer with no available drive space.  They want to get a new server (from DELL) with Small Business Server 2003 on it.  I made some other upgrade suggestions as well such as anti-virus software and new backup software.  The customer wanted all this to happen with no down time during business hours.

So this was the perfect project to test out my new plan (new for me old news for all real businesses).  I began by emailing and calling multiple network specialists.  I got to the point where we discussed details of the project and the various approaches people take.  This alone was an interesting exercise.  There were many ways to go about the solution and a variety of prices that came as a result.  I had to do much research but finally found the company to do the project. 

I hired a company to do the core work on this project while I took care of issues on the periphery. 

There were a few things that came up during the process that I missed in my planning but for the most part the plan worked.  This was a great way to go about the process.  I spent my time planning and finding the right people.  I also got to spend my time making sure all went well for the customer.  The whole thing was excellent.  I have done the sole IT guy bit before but this was much, much better.  I was able to pay attention to what was really going on during the process and make sure things were smooth.  I was also able to take care of the items that come up and divert attention away from the main project while MY GUY kept working on the main task. 

This was the best experience.  I realize that in the future they may not all go this well but I have to say that this is definitely worth doing again.  I would actually like to do this again very often.  Which doing it this way I could do a couple of these a week... something not possible when I act alone. 

OPT is an excellent way to grow.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Working for Yourself

In a small business you get pretty busy.  In the past I have become so busy that there were things I couldn't get done.  I could work full-time on my customers computers.  I could work evenings and weekends whenever I wished to.  I was so busy I didn't have time to do any marketing (there wasn't any more time to sell anyway).  I didn't have time to research and learn about the latest and greatest. 

The truth of the matter as I now realize it is that I wasn't working for myself.  I really was working for my customers.  Ok... so that's a good thing.  However it is pretty short sighted.  You see when you are busy at your customers office and spending all your time working on the task-at-hand you really don't have any way to see what's coming. 

What was coming in my case was a major slow down.  There are many reasons for this and some have to do with the overall economy and some have to do with terrorist attacks but in reality I wasn't paying attention.  I wasn't working for myself.  I was stuck.  All the sudden I had time for research and I had time for marketing, I was now working full-time for myself.  That's not such a good thing because I don't pay that well. 

See it wasn't all the economy.  Before the slow down I had a great customer with lots of money to spend.  I had worked with them for many years and we had a great relationship.  They were a major source of my income and --They were growing.  I couldn't keep up.  I didn't have any way to expand my operation.  At least I didn't think I had any way to expand.  I considered hiring but there were a lot of difficulties with that. 

To cut to the point... things are rebuilding.  That's good but I don't want to rebuild the way I did the first time.  I would like to think I've learned something.  I am about to install a network using other people without hiring.  I'll probably write more on this soon-- the specific project as well as the shift in thinking.  I'm trying to be creative, make lots of money but still keep my eye on the future.  I'm hoping that this time I will actually get to work for myself.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Linux Project - WiFi Success(sort of)

Well I was reading up on the netcard drivers to try to see if an upgrade would help.  I read that WPA Security was there but not really supported.  I use WPA so I thought maybe I should do something else.  I grabbed a Linksys Wireless Router I had sitting around and turned it on.  It was set back to all the defaults and I got a connection from my Laptop.  The laptop seemed to stay connected and with a good connection for a while.  I changed the SSID and the password to something other than the defaults and everything still worked well.  So then I don't really like all my neighbors to be able to connect to my connection (like I could to theirs if I wanted) so I like to turn off broadcasting of the SSID. 

Once I turned off broadcasting the thing fell apart.  I would get disconnected and had problems.  So I'm going to try to broadcast but use encryption.  WPA encryption that is.  I tried WEP without much success.   Did try the WPA and as long as I broadcast my SSID I get connected for decent lengths of time.

While I had a good connection and in just playing around for a couple of hours on the machine I had my Firefox windows lock up a couple of times.  I was able to close them out and get back to a good state without rebooting but there were a few lockups or times when I did have to reboot.  The times I had to do that was when I was playing with the network connections and broadcasting and if I got disconnected my machine would keep trying to connect to my neighbors' wireless systems and I would have to reboot to get it back on track.

I did find and download new drivers for my wireless card but the Install instructions said that they don't provide specific install instructions because of the variety of ways it may need to occur--consult your system documentation (?????)  Ok sound user friendly?

I did get good downloads of Firefox but still don't know how to download that.  I have to say I was impressed with Skype.  They had 8 different options for LInux but the one that matched my computer had an install feature and it was pretty easy.  I am looking forward to testing the Skype on that machine to see how well it works.  I did test it and it works great.

People have always told me that, LInux could run on lessor machines and run faster than what was required for Windows.  They told me it was easier than Windows and they told me it was more stable than Windows.  So far, although I can agree that it may be as good a program as Windows I don't think I would say it is better.  Still enjoying this project though.  I haven't done much with this computer for a week now but maybe I'll get some time to test more soon.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Linux Project - after the third install

Hello again Linux lovers.  I got the installation down now an I have a clean install of my OS and decided this time to do everything on one partition instead of 3.  I also decided I don't like playing with this in my office I want to "play" when I'm watching TV so I have to get this wireless thing going.

I setup my wireless info and I can get a connection -- sometimes.  It's real spotty.  It also seems to knock off whenever it feals like it.  For that reason I looked for a possible update to the driver for my Wireless Network card.  So far nothing, but maybe I'll figure out how it goes some day.  I can get a wireless connection and get to a website but then after I've been on a few minutes I don't appear to get any speed in browsing.  I have to reboot often to try to get a better connection again, so I do that periodically.

So I figure I'll go back and try to download Firefox again.  It just won't come over the wireless connection so that's the way it goes.  Next I figure I'll see if I can load Skype.  I use that quite a bit on my PC and I know they have a Linux version so I figure that will be fun to test.  I go to the Skype website ( and get to the Linux download area...there are like 8 different versions.  Luckily they seem to have one for my version and I try to download.  I'm anxious to see if they have an easier install or at least better instructions.  Unfortunately I don't ever get the program downloaded as it keeps gettting stuck at some percentage.  Oh well!

At this point I'm blaming all my troubles on this quirky wireless connection.  I go looking for all the settings to see if maybe there is something clear that I can change.  I find the Network Utilities and ping a few things.  I find that I can ping and really well.  I can also pull up the admin of my wireless router and move around in that pretty well until my network connection stops.  I look around to see if I have bad Proxy settings (I don't use a proxy server) or some other firewall or obstruction that may be doing this to me.  So far I haven't found much.

That's where I am right now on this project.  My initial responses are that this is not super easy and stable as I've been lead to believe.  It can't just run on old hardware, it probably needs to be run on hardware that is tested and approved for Linux. (where do you find that in the store?)  I've worked with computers for over 20 years and if this isn't easy for me it's not the easy operating system for every user out there that doesn't have a highly qualified technician around to make sure things work (maybe I should switch to this OS in my business I might get a lot more devoted customers who are really needy.) 

That said...I like the look, I like the options.  I like that a ton of software stuff came on my disk (but I haven't played with it much yet)  I am not going to give up on least not yet and not easily.  But I am going to set this comptuer aside for a little while.  Things have been pretty busy for me lately and I don't have time right now to figure out how to resolve these issues.  Looks like I will have to get much more serious to do that.  Don't worry you Linux fans I will return and try again.  Back to my Windows PC for now...thankfully.

Linux Project - the first steps

So now I have Linux on my computer and my initial response was positive.  I like the way it looks and there is certainly at least some familiarity.  So what to do first?

I've heard so many people talk about Firefox and how much better it is than Internet Explorer.  I decide to look at that and to see if there is an upgrade.  There is an upgrade so I try to download.  I first choose to not save to disk but to just open and that doesn't work.  I try again and save to disk.  Now I have a folder on my desktop. I look all over the place for an installation program but don't find any.  I search on the Internet for Installation instructions.  Mostly they have instructions for installing to Windows.  I do find some instructions that say save to \usr\local or something.  I find that and try to cut and paste but I'm told I can't do that...bummer.  I try to get root access with my root password but that doesn't work.  I can load the Firefox program out of this folder, oh by the way I did an unzip or whatever you call it in Linux and got the folder extracted out of the download so that's were I was able to find the program and start it up (with one error message on start up but it works).

In some of the instructions I saw a warning that installing this program would overwrite my older version but actually I still have that version so I don't know what's up.  I figure - what I'll do is --uninstall the original version of firefox.  I do that and then I get errors on startup and my network cards don't work any more, or I guess they work but I can't get to the configuration info for them so I can't resolve my wireless card not working issue or even try to connect to my wireless network.

Looks like I really messed it up this time so I figure I'm not too far into this thing I'll just wipe out and reload the Linux software again from DVD.  So I did exactly that and I must say that the third time to reload the operating system went pretty smooth.  I'm an old pro at it by now.  So that's enough for now, I'll tell you more later.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Linux Project - the beginning

For over twenty years I have been a Microsoft fan.  I first used MS-DOS (actually PC-DOS then later MS).  I played with early release of Windows and was happy to install version 3.1 then 3.11, 2000 and now XP.  I haven't done much with Vista yet and we won't talk about ME(ok that wasn't a shining moment).  In the technology world there are plenty of people that don't like Microsoft.  They always told me that Mac was better and easy.  I have also hear a lot of hype about Linux.  Linux is supposed to be the best thing out there and it's free or cheap.

A couple of years ago I thought I would load Linux on an old laptop I had.  I had always heard that it ran great even on older equipment and that was one of the beautiful things about it.  You didn't have to buy the latest expensive computer.  So I figured why not.  So I went looking at the specs for a graphical version of Linux and you know wouldn't run on my computer.  This was  a computer that I was able to run Windows 2000 on so I was a little shocked that it wouldn't work.

So finally this last December I got a new computer and I had an old computer that had sufficient specs to run a version of Linux.  I went looking around for the right version.  I considered many but finally found OpenSUSE by Novell.  Novell was the first network I installed so I figured that this was a good name to have behind the version I installed.  It was a big company that would probably keep their product up to date.  Bonus, I could download it for free. 

So I got it downloaded and a little over a week ago I finally decided to install.

Installation, I didn't easily see the option to wipe out my drive and install a clean copy.  It tried to shrink my existing Windows XP partition and install on the remaining space.  I went ahead and said yes.  The attempt to shrink failed and then I saw the option to wipe out the drive and do a fresh install.  I did and the Linux was now installed on my drive.  I couldn't get my wireless card to make a good connection so I decided to plug in to the network directly.  That seemed to work. 

So I'm off to a decent start but I wouldn't call the installation at all easy.  I have installed numerous copies of Windows operating systems and even a few times installed Mac OS X.  So I had enough experience to survive the ordeal.  But now it's on my computer.  On to bigger and better things...   (to be continued)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Identity Theft - Phishing Scam

I just got one and I thought this would be a good time to explain what I do when I get these.  Mine was from PayPal and it claimed my account had been flagged.  OH NOOOO!  That's pretty serious isn't it?  I don't want to be in trouble.

First thing I do is of course make sure I do have an account, so if I get a notice from Bank of America I know I don't have any accounts at Bank of America so I can quickly delete that message.  I don't have to worry about click on any links.

Second, don't click on any links ever.  You can if you wish rest your mouse over the link and the place that you will really be taken will display.  Often it isn't to the site you suspect.  For example my PayPal "Secure Link" didn't even go to  So sure you can do that but really the best solution is to not click on anything in an email.  Period.

Third, I log into my account and see if I have any notices trying to get me to do anything.  I did this by opening my browser and typing in then login and looking around.  NOTHING.  So yes it was a Scam, my account is fine and there isn't anything I need to do.  It's always good to check anyway.

So there you go just follow good practices and you will be fine.  Basically don't click on any links in email unless it is something you were expecting from a friend or business acquaintance.  That will help you tremendously.

The people who do this stuff are really good at it though.  I once got an email from my Bank and they said I could answer a survey and get $20 deposited in my account.  Cool, I fell for it because I was new to this bank and click on the link.  Stupid I know, but like I said they tricked me.  Luckily my Phishing Filter from my Web Browser stopped me and it was all over.  Phewww!  Good thing I had backup and you should too.

Be careful.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Family that loves business

I have a wonderful family.  We have a variety of backgrounds.  Not too many are entrepreneurs like me but I have a sister-in-law that has that same passion.  She and a business partner just started a new online business ( 

I wanted to write about it and let people know. 

You can read more about the business for yourself online but here is what I believe I know about it.  All too often we have somebody in our lives whether family, friend or business acquaintance and they have some sort of medical issue.  Maybe it's cancer treatment or a surgery.  So we want to try to do something for them.  Maybe we show up with flowers and then when we get to the room we see that there are 20 other bouquets in the room.  Maybe it's diabetes and a box of chocolates isn't really the right answer now is it?

Don't worry this new business is going to try to make that problem easier to deal with.  You can get gifts tailored to the concern people have.  If somebody got 3 of these they would be happy because it would be all natural products they could use far beyond their treatments.  The flowers will die and I suppose we could say, boy I sure hope you don't... but these gifts will let people know you want them to have a long healthy life to share more good times with you.

Ok so there you go check it out and just know I don't get anything for myself if this venture takes off.  Maybe my kids will get bigger Christmas Presents from their Aunt but that's about it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cingular 8125 firmware upgrade

I purchased a Cingular 8125 back a while ago, months and months ago.  This is a phone running Windows Mobile 5 which along with other things is supposed to receive email from an Exchange Server.  Basically you can view your Exchange Server info from your phone.  This includes your Calendar and Contacts as well.  So even though I don't yet have an Exchange Server for my email I thought I would give it a try because I have customers with it so I can test on my account at their server.  I configured the whole thing on the phone and when I tried to Sync (using ActiveSync on the phone) I got error messages about certificates and other such things.  I tried every configuration change possible and never did get connected.  I gave up and figured I would revisit at some point.  I thought eventually somebody will write the correct tech note about the issue and I will find out what I need. 

So just recently I had a customer purchase the 8525 the latest and greatest phone from Cingular.  They want to be able to do this and they looked it up on Cingular's website and forwarded me a website with information.  Unfortunately the website didn't have anything to do with the 8525 but it did say something about my 8125.  It appears that there was a new Firmware Upgrade that fixes the problem.

On Saturday I downloaded the new Firmware and installed it on my phone.  It changed a few things and I also had a temporary problem with my SIM Card.  It would say it wasn't working.  I reboot and tried a few things but it still had the same problem.  So I removed the SIM Card and put it back in and I haven't had any more problem.  The best part is I was also able to connect to an Exchange Server.  Very cool.  This phone also has WiFi capability but I was never able to connect to my WiFi at home.  Actually that's not completely true it would appear to connect but I couldn't browse with the connection.  I could however connect at Panera Bread Company (they have free WiFi).  So I always figured it was something I had to change on my system.  Well now the WiFi works perfectly as well as the Exchange Server. 

Another thing that happened to the good was that Messenger would work before but would disconnect after a while.  With the new firmware upgrade I stayed connected for over 24 hours.

So there you go my phone now works as I always hoped it would and all I needed was an upgrade.  I don't know if I'm just imagining things but it also seems like my Internet connection is running faster on the phone than it did before.  An upgrade and I'm off and running.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Sell Your Ideas with PowerPoint Presentations

I just read this blog about Powerpoint presentations.  I have tried to use them before but have to admit I probably didn't capture anybody's attention with them.  I am going to put in a little more effort next time and apply some of what is said in this link.  I enjoyed it and I know I'm just passing on somebody else's words but I hope you enjoy them. 

Link to Seth's Blog: Really Bad Powerpoint

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Just the Fax

The office is changing even still.  I remember when pretty much all the typewriters in offices went away.  I don't know where they went but they were just gone.  Usually however you would still find one typewriter in the closet or on a desk where nobody sits.  The justification was that you sometimes needed to fill out a form or address an envelope and that was the easiest way to do it.  I have to admit I don't sit in peoples offices that much any more but I don't remember when was the last time I noticed a typewriter.  Maybe they are still there but I just don't notice.  But this post is about Fax...or the title wouldn't make much sense.

I have been doing some research for a customer on a fax solution for their company.  Fax is to me a lot like the typewriter I mention above.  It is a technology for which there is limited use any more.  That said there are still a couple of things for which fax works well.  My customer is one of those who still needs the capability of fax to do a little more than just send a fax every other week or so.  They regularly receive faxes from customers that request information.  This customer currently uses a computer with WinFax installed on it.  In my research I couldn't even find if WinFax was still being produced.  Doing a search on the Symantec website came up only with information about 4 years old (not a good sign).

I have for quite a while now used an eFax number for my own company needs.  Basically in case somebody needs to send me a fax they can send it to the number I have on my website and the fax will come into my Outlook Inbox.  I don't pay for the service so I can't send a Fax using this service.  My customer however needs a lot more capability.  They need to send and receive.  They also wish for a log of all faxes.  Well there are personal eFax solutions which are great and could possibly work however there is a eFax Corporate solution which I think will do much better.  You don't have to install any hardware and you don't even have to install any software.  I like that because that means nothing to create incompatibility with the workstations.  It's all web based.  The Fax can come into your email and you can set up more than one person apparently.  It only costs a little each month but remember you don't even have to have a phone line installed which for a business line can add up.  The only downside I have found so far is that apparently they won't be able to use the Fax Number they currently have.  It will require a new number, I'm not sure if that will cause a problem.  This solution would keep the data of all their faxes for 2 years online and the other nice thing is eFax has been around for years.  I've probably had my number for at least 5 years and maybe more, I don't remember. 

Here is a link to the eFax Corporate website.

Link to eFax Corporate - Secure Fax Solutions, Business Fax Numbers

eFax has other alternatives as well and actually for this customer I believe I would suggest eFax Pro (Link to eFax Pro) it will give all the capability they need.  We will have to install some software to use it well but that is probably a small price to pay to get away from the solution they currently have which is becoming ancient and maybe going the way of the typewriter.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Windows XP Registry Failure during load of mup.sys

So a few days ago I had a problem with my own personal laptop.  This laptop is only a couple of months old.  I had an email with a large attachment (3Mb) that would not go out.  I tried a few things an figured I probably should reboot.  I did my reboot and as Windows XP (Service Pack 2) began to come up I noticed it seemed to take a long time then all the sudden I got the "blue screen of death".  It was terrible.  So I tried a few things, such as restore last known good configuration.  I tried to boot in safe mode which is where I noticed that the last file showing was mup.sys.  I read a number of tech docs that said mup.sys probably has nothing to do with it, if you disabled it then the next file would lock.  GREAT.  So I booted up the CMOS which is the basic configuration telling your computer what features it has and they had a hard drive scan available.  I ran the scan and it failed.  I said, "oh boy that can't be good".  The blue screen message kept going buy pretty quickly and I couldn't seem to pause on the screen so I could read it in detail but basically it told me I had a registry failure it couldn't load the HIVE and something about the System root/system32/config/software being the problem.  So I thought well maybe the drive had a failure on the sector that this file of the registry was in.  BIG BUMMER!  But I stayed patient and kept looking for tech notes.  I found an article on Microsoft's site Article ID: 307545 (formerly Q307545).  I read it and it sounded like it was definitely worth trying.  I'll spare you the details because if you really want to read it you can go find it on their site.  You use the repair capability copy new registry files and copy some more and then again...and the good news is it FIXED the problem.  I followed all the instructions except that of course the SOFTWARE file of the registry was damaged so I couldn't rename it to a .bak file as they suggested.  I skipped that one file but luckily it would delete and I was able to follow all the other instructions just fine.  It is so cool to have my computer back and not have to rebuild the whole thing.  Sometimes if you can afford it, it pays to be patient. 

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Why in the world am I writing this?

You will see what I mean in a bit.

It received a subscription to Popular Science for my birthday and I got my first issue recently.  It was pretty interesting.  This was the February 2007 issue and I came to page 74 with a section called Ask a Geek, the article was called "How can I guard against spyware?"  The article is written by Ben Edelman which they say is a doctoral student at Harvard University, where he researches spyware, Internet advertising and online fraud.  I thought "This should be interesting". 

It was a very interesting article but not in the way I expected.  I expected a few product tips or computer setting tips, and there was a little bit but what is said was so simple and I thought intelligent.  Why did I find it so insightful?  Because it is exactly what I have been saying for a long time.

First of all he says that according to a recent study (not sure from where) that 89 percent of consumer PC's are infected.  Wow can you believe that?  I don't think I do but still it is a big big problem. 

So next he lays the wisdom on us and says, "Normally, you can clean your computer with programs like Microsoft Windows Defender (free;, but it easier to avoid getting infected at all." 

Next he says (paraphrased but not much) before you install free programs find out how they make money.  And don't trust a site that has a logo that says "we are safe".  I also add to this advice that if you do want to load a program make sure that you test it on a computer that isn't important to your daily function (non-production).  If you load any program from any source on your daily used computer you risk loosing a couple of days of productivity.

If people would follow this simple advice of doing a little research first and then test in non-production environment they would lower their support bills.

Did you hear what I said?  Why did I just say that.  What you should know is that I make money by supporting computers so why in heck would I give you any advice that would lower my income?

Here is why as much as I would LOVE to make all kinds of money fixing computers people screw up by loading stupid programs I have experienced the opposite.  If I am in charge of a network, even if I have given people this advice they still seem to blame me when it goes wrong.  So even though my last post was on a very similar topic about prevention rather than cure, I thought I would say it again just to make sure it gets through all those layers of brain matter. 

Fact is I will probably have to say it 100 more times within this next year but because I don't like the results after the fact I am going to keep saying this blog and to my customers directly. 

This is one step in something I feel is very important in Network Administration and that is Policies.  This would be one policy and there should be many more.  I will probably write about more of them at some point to give you more details.  After all another very important part of Network Admin is Education of users (all people).

Hope you enjoyed the education and now it's not just coming from me but also from a Doctoral student at Harvard.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ounce of Prevention or a Pound of Cure

You know the old saying right?  An Ounce of Preventions is worth a pound of cure.  So since it's an old saying you would think that people would agree with it and live by it. 

I have been trying to apply this old saying to new services that I wish to provide in the area of Computer Network Administration.  Today I have become a little discouraged about that possibility.  I had a few struggles with some prevention tactics I have implemented. 

Because of this I did a little deeper searching and tried to apply the same concept to other fields beyond computers.  What I came up with isn't that encouraging.  I thought about the medical field and the automotive fields in particular.  In both cases people usually wait for the breakdown before they do anything.  Many it seems would rather get a triple-bypass heart surgery than control their diet and exercise.  That's one that got me for a long time but then I decided to do something about it.  But I am guilty of the car issue. I often wait until something starts making a sound (or stops making a sound) until I get that car into the shop. 

So for some reason even though we know the costs most of us choose to pay for the pound of cure rather than opt for the cheaper ounce. 


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Create PDF anywhere

I have been doing some research lately and this blog will benefit from it.  Here is the first item that I am kind of excited about.

Create PDF Online (by Adobe the creators of PDF)

I have a customer that needs to be able to create PDF's they have an old version of Adobe Acrobat which is the program used to create PDF, but only have one copy.  They need more but it's kind of expensive and as I say the copy they currently have is old because they don't always have the money to keep upgrading that.  So I went searching for solutions.

I found printer drivers and they are pretty reasonable but still you pay per install.  Also I didn't recognize any of the companies that do this so that worried me. 

I then looked for being able to do it online, thinking hopefully I don't have to install anything and possibly multiple people can use it in the office.  There are a few people that offer that and Adobe is one of them.  For $99 a year that's pretty good, I thought.  I haven't yet played with it but hopefully soon and when I do I'll try to review it here.

Side Note:  If you are using Office 2007 or will use it there is a free add-in for Office 2007 that will allow you to create PDF files.  Cool huh?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Busy Bee - Big Dreamer!

Following up on thoughts about Time.  Is your goal to stay busy?  As I look around I believe that this is the goal of many people.  Put in their time and stay busy.  I think this is business Quick Sand.  It's a popular trap and if you make some decent money you can even justify that this is what should happen.  Maybe it's because I'm not as young as I once was???  I don't know.  I have observed that often when a person reaches my age they are either actively engaged in a career or they have failed at attempts toward greatness and settled for what they can get buy with.

I don't feel that way at all.  I have new dreams, new desires and see many possibilities in life and in business.  But as I say I'm not as young as I used to be and I think to myself do I really want to work day and night to make these things happen.  Well, yes I do but not the inefficient way I have done in the past.  It's time to put some of those younger people to work helping me do this thing.  Mostly because that is what I should have done all along.  See any really good dream or business idea probably is too big for one person to handle.  If one person can handle it the dream probably isn't big enough.   Also if you kill yourself or destroy your relationships trying to make it happen then you aren't very smart and looking at the end game.

My point is look at the end game.  What do you want to achieve?  The whole thing not just part.  Do you want to have a successful business but loose your marriage and alienate your kids?  I doubt many people start out thinking that way.  They just begin the process and start working in the wrong way and then that's what they get.  Well, either they get the successful business or the successful family but not both.  Usually I bet that happens because it is hard to let go.  So if you look at the end game also think some about how you want it to happen not just what you want to happen. 

So now do that out-of-the-box thinking we hear so much about.  Case in point and I will say more about this in the future but I wanted to change my business.  I wanted to make more money, spend less time doing it and not spend so much time putting out fires as they say.  Sounds good right?  But that's not all I want to provide a better service to my customers, for less money and help them to achieve less down time on their networks.  IMPOSSIBLE!  Yeah but I don't think so.  I'm testing my plan and will be announcing it here when it is ready.  Life is so full of possibilities...keep the dream alive!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Time is Money...or is it?

I have been thinking about this concept a little bit in the recent weeks.  Not exactly this catch phrase but eventually this phrase came out of the argument I was having with myself.  It's popular in business to say this.  I don't believe I agree with the phrase any more.  After much thought process I have come up with "Time is time...Money is money".  The confusion is that in our culture time can be spent on a variety of things and so can money so they can become confused.  In addition we can spend time and money both on an activity so it becomes very confusing.

So is time the same as money?  I hope not!  When it comes to my personal life I really hope not but this blog is about my business life an in that I also hope it is not true.  One reason I hope it is not true is because I have little money to show for my time right now.  I have risked and lost and risen to risk another day which we call an investment and an education. 

If time = money then there is no excuse for wasting time.  I should only spend my time on business matters and for that matter only on business matters that produce revenue, and furthermore only on those business matters that can produce the highest revenue...right?

Well, in a word yes!  That is exactly what I should spend my time budget for business matters on.  However I believe that I need a time budget for other things than money.  What else could be important?  Well, let's be real selfish here and admit that I would like to live to be at least 100 years old.  Actually that is a kind of boring number I would actually like to hit closer to the 120 mark. 

In order to do that I am going to have to spend more of my time budget on things other than money.  Let's talk health.  I need to spend some of my time on exercise and some on nutrition education and on actually taking time to prepare healthy meals.  Yes, if time were money and I still operated like that I would eat many of my meals at fast food restaurants (and I have in the past).  But if I want to live to 120 I better give up the fast food and maybe even be a lot more careful about all restaurant eating.  To eat healthy so I can live to 120 it is going to take a little more time.  (Here is a link to the nutritionist my family meets with)

If I want to be alone in my older years then I could spend the rest of my time on making money but I don't, SO - I better spend some time on my relationships.  My Wife and Kids are one of the most important relationships I have and you guessed it...they take time. 

So there are some other things I want to budget time for like the fact that I want to develop myself as a moral person and as a creative person and as an intelligent person. Throw in some rest or sleep and I have spent a lot of my time, and I can't go out and buy more time. 

Time <> Money (a programmers way of saying time does not equal money) but in order to have some money I will have to spend some of my time on making money.  I wish to spend some of that time in financial education so what I have left better be pretty darn productive.  Without a financial education I will (and have) waste a lot of my time allotted for making money.

I don't suppose there are any answers here, only questions but this blog is hopefully a way for my customers and potential customers to get to know me as well as for fellow business people to hear what somebody else is going through.  I often wish I could read someone's reflections on such matters, but I figure I can start by sharing my reflections.  I personally read thoughts from other people and enjoy those of many, one that I have enjoyed is Bob Parsons of GoDaddy.  He writes a business blog about issues he has gone through. 

This whole time thing could be overwhelming but remember I have the same exact amount of time in my day as a Billionaire.  So obviously all I have to do is figure out how to better spend my time to reach my financial goals (as well as my other goals).  My wife and I have been thinking a lot about this and are trying to develop new services and ways of doing business that maximize our efforts, while increasing service for our customers at a lower cost.  Sounds impossible.  To understand where we are going it helps to begin with an understanding of my realizations of this subject...Time.  I know it sound impossible but because I have run out of time for blogging I will share more about that at a later time.