Thursday, December 11, 2008

Click your way to destruction

I have written before and warned my customers as well as friends to be careful where you click.  I would like to believe I've been pretty helpful but I also feel I should  let everyone know about more.

Many of us are getting on social networks, a big one that many of my friends are on is facebook (one friend of mine joked that he was trying to find everyone on assbook before he realized where we were, we looked it up and it's a real site).  Facebook (FB) is a great place to connect with friends.  It is a safe contained environment in which you interact primarily with friends you have in the real world, maybe a few extras.  So your friends wouldn't do anything to harm you  would they?

Well back in the days of cool viruses such as *Melissa* and *I Love You* your friends would send you an email with the virus attached.  They didn't mean to but that's how viruses are.  Now we have junk folders and Microsoft is basically blocking all attachments by default.  If you get in and make the changes to allow attachments then the message is clear, "it's your fault if you get hosed". 

Well, a few days ago I had my facebook page open and  it has this cool Chat feature.  One of my friends sent me a chat, curiously as soon as she did the little circle by her name was red indicating she was offline.  The chat claimed she had gone to a website, filled out info and received a free iPhone--- I could also the link was right there.  I didn't click because I'm always suspicious, I also wasn't curious to find out what it was.  A few months back another friend was posting things on people's wall saying something about somebody having a crush on them, I think it was that it's been a while.

The point here is that people have figured out a way to use your facebook account to do things as you.  According to what I read on the facebook security page it appears this most likely happens as a result of phishing.  Phishing is a method of tricking you into giving up information about yourself such as your account name and password.  They do this to get into your bank account but also to do damage to your computer.  To become a victim of phishing you probably have to also click on something so always, always... ALWAYS be careful where you click.  Be careful of opening email attachments, and be careful of hyperlinks.  Make sure they go where they say they go (you can usually rest the mouse on the link and the real link will display).  Sometimes I don't even believe that so I have to check a lot of things first.  Often I still won't click on the link, there are a lot of things that aren't critical and those I just ignore.  If I think it is something I may need to see I may go to the site on my own not by clicking on the link.

So it's bad when you can't even trust your FB friends, but that's all part of being safe.  I have provided a link to some info about facebook security items and information.  Click it if you dare!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Great Depression is Depressing

Just been reading a book called "The Great Depression: Opposing Viewpoints".  I started reading it because of the problems our economy is in and talk has sometimes come around to the Depression.  Joe Bidden mentioned the Stock Market crash of 1929 during the Presidential election.  He made some errors about the facts but the issue is on some minds.  I wanted to see if there were similarities between then and now.  I have often heard that we learned a lot from those times and we now have safeguards in place so we keep it from happening again.

My reason for reading the book was to see if I could determine what people did who avoided much of the problems of the Depression, after all not everybody was hungry and destitute.  The best answer I can come up with is that it is better to be the person who has money and is lending it out rather than the person who is borrowing money.  I believe you are probably better off to have a few thousand dollars but don't owe anything on your car or house than to be a person with millions in debt flying around in a leased Jet.  Many of us would rather be the second guy but that may change.

So now I finished the book and I'm worried.  The book makes use of speeches and newspaper articles, etc written at the time of the Depression and written on both sides of a topic.  Both sides sometimes did not mean Liberal or Conservative but sometimes meant Liberal and Radically Liberal.  As I read these viewpoints I hear a lot of familiar statements.  In many ways it sounds much like today's news. 

There are two really big questions I still have about the Great Depression, Why did it start? What happened to bring it to an end?

I don't believe anybody has the "real" answer to those two questions.  There are many theories and most of those come from whether you believe Government should regulate businesses as well as the people or not.  Both sides made really good points.  I personally tend to think that the Government should stay out of our business for the most part and that if it did problems would correct themselves.  Of course I have no way of knowing if that would really work because it's not been tried under pressure.  On the other hand a person who believes in Government regulations may also say their methods haven't been tried either as many believed FDR did not go far enough with his resolutions and that is why it took about 10 years to come out of the problems. 

Maybe the answer as in much of life is *balance*.  Most of the time the Government should stay out of the way but in times of crisis the Governments (Federal, State, Local) are in unique positions to  devote money and resources to correct.  As with the Depression many programs were begun but are no longer with us.  Only a few survived once the economy recovered. 

Any way causes or solutions I don't have an answer-- but unfortunately I am of the belief that we have not yet learned enough to avoid the problem again.  I hope I'm wrong.  We have difficult financial times which much of the current news blames on lack of management by the outgoing Republican Administration.  We now have an incoming Democrat Administration determined to "fix" the problems by Government regulation. Maybe they can fix the problem in 10 years or maybe their regulation will drag us through difficulty for 10 years.  I personally hope neither is true, mainly because I don't want to go through 10 years of difficulty no matter what the reason.  But I do think it's beginning to sound a lot like 1932.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Live Online Chat

Ok, so I was trying to use technology and rather than call the number on the website I clicked on their little button that says "Chat Online".  I've used these before and the communication can be tricky but this one was funny I thought.  For my purposes absolutely useless but funny.    I was trying to find out some details about their online Exchange Hosting.  A separate window came up and here is what I got:

Kelly Says: My name is Kelly and I am a chat representative with here to answer any questions you may have.

Kelly Says: Just type 'HI' or 'Hello' in the space below to let me know you are there.

You: HI

Kelly Says: Hi, thanks for chatting with me today - I am here to answer any questions you have.

Kelly Says: What are your questions on’s services?

You: I'm looking at the Hosted Exchange service.

Kelly Says:CLICK HERE for a FREE web consultation on what our experts can do for you.

You: I don't understand how that relates.

Kelly Says: offers a virtual one-stop-shop of simple, feature-rich web tools and services including do-it-yourself and professional website design, website hosting, eCommerce, web marketing and e-mail.

You: is this a real person and are you reading my comments?

Kelly Says: My name is Kelly and I'm a live virtual agent.

You: Ok, like I said I'm looking at the Exchange Hosting.

Kelly Says: At, we know how important it is to have personal service at your fingertips – that’s why we have a team of professional designers, customer support and technical assistance dedicated to helping your web presence succeed!

You: your not live.

Kelly Says: A website is only as good as the services and support behind it. has combined professional web design, on-demand website modifications and cutting-edge online marketing services to help businesses succeed online.

After this I just stopped typing, what was the use.  Not sure what I learned from this but maybe someday if I have an online chat feature for customers I probably shouldn't use a program to respond, or be up front that we will be mostly putting out our marketing message not responding to your actual questions, on my side I guess I never did get around to asking the question I wanted to find out, mostly because I had doubts that it would be understood.


I though this was a bit of humor to my otherwise stressful day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


It's political season with the election of a new U.S. President.  And of course one thing we keep hearing is "change".  The candidates promise that they will change things.  It's hard to believe them and yet they keep using that line. 

There are many phrases that we hear so often they don't seem to have any meaning any longer... and yet they are still important.  Ok so I'm not going to go on and on about politics it's just that I am campaigning myself to change my company.  For me it's pretty easy its a one and a half person company basically (my wife helps part time).  I don't really see that part changing any time soon but I do want to expand beyond what I can do myself.   I have written before about these plans and you know what.  No matter how much I want to do something it is still difficult to change a small company like mine.  (It doesn't give me much hope that a politician will change the whole country.) 

So I'm out campaigning for change again and trying desperately to make it happen.  The key this time is that I'm forcing myself to think and work differently.  I won't get into too many specifics but basically I've chained myself to the desk (or computer) and I'm forcing myself to find other ways to get things done.  I'm thinking more like all businesses.  Take a doctor for example.  Used to be they made house calls.  If you got sick they would come over and take a look.  They don't do that any more, and why???   Well because it's not very cost effective.  You have to come to their office now.  And if it's a real emergency they send over an ambulance to pick you up.  They outsourced that service and do it better really.  The ambulance can drive at top speeds to get to you with lights flashing.  They have tons of equipment and they can bring you in if they need to.  They even have a bed in the back for you.  By everyone focusing on their strengths the response available in an emergency today is amazing.  The little country doctor could hardly conceive of a service the way it is.  So now you could tell me there are all kinds of problems in the field of health care but can you really imagine us going back to the doctor who makes office visits.  I'm sure they still exist and are extremely well paid. at that. 

Things change and so must I.  That's what I'm looking at and it still isn't easy but like I say it's necessary.  It seems like nobody wants me to change and I even fight it but it must happen no matter what.  That's exciting.  Hopefully somebody will still vote for me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Be careful what you think,because your thoughts run your life.

The title of this blog is from an ancient proverb.  I'm writing about this because I keep coming across the concept in business books and after years it's beginning to sink in.

What you think becomes what you do and who you are!

The thoughts in your head are real... or at least they become real.  The bad news is it's not only good thought but also bad thoughts.

As I say, this isn't a new thing.  Business books have talked about it for a long time.  The grandfather of all inspirational business books is by an author called Napoleon Hill and it's called "Think and Grow Rich".  I have to admit I haven't read the book yet and now after reading so many of the follow-up books I realize I need to read it.

Of course the concept existed long before that.  The ancient proverb titling this post was written about 3000 years ago.

I have become convinced that it is true that you can sit around and imagine things will go wrong in your plans and eventually they will.  You can also control your mind to think that you will be successful in your plan even if adversity arises.  When a problem comes up you control what the outcome is.  You can decide that this set-back is only temporary.  You can come up with a solution or a work-around.  This is how successful people of all kinds do their work and have done for years.  This is of course a much bigger picture than money and finances, it applies to everything.  You set your goals and then you decide what to do as you work on those goals as "real life" comes along. 

The real life we live and work in is truly a battlefield in our head first.  Control your thinking and you will control your life.  What you think is reality much more so than what circumstances are happening around you.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Is there such a thing as a good meeting?

I fortunately don't have to go to many meetings.  I'm glad about that.

I think my problem with meetings is that I don't understand how to have a good one.  I guess if you consider a meeting a social event in which friendships are built then I have had some good ones.  Most of the time however they seem to me a waste of time. 

With current online tools it seems to me that there are more efficient ways to get things accomplished than meetings.  Online meetings for example are better than running around and certainly than flying in for the meeting. 

Seems to me the best meeting is one in which a lot of preparation is done.  If preparation is done then there are often more efficient ways to present that information that wasting an hour just to be in each others presence.  That said getting to know people personally and professionally is a good thing but it just seems there are more fun ways to accomplish that than a meeting.

I'm going to try to work on this topic.  If anybody has any advice I look forward to hearing from you.  I'm looking for better ways to accomplish work than in a meeting.  Emails are good but they can lead to much mis-communication.  Like I say working on a way to improve the process.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Tell the Truth

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day, actually emailing is more accurate... about business.  He is in Germany and he said he has discovered that he is too nice to be fully effective in business.  He tries to "soften the blow" so to speak when it comes to sensitive matters.  Sometimes customers disagree and he doesn't want to offend so he is careful how he phrases what he tells them.  Well the problem is the customer ends up with a low opinion about his skills.  How does my friend know this?  He watches others with less skill than him succeed with the customer by telling them they are idiots.

So my friend figures he needs to tell the customer they are idiots!

I thought must be tough to work in Germany, then I thought well, "it's probably like that in New York from what I hear".  And then I realized it's really like that everywhere.  Well sort of.

Both my friend and I realize we aren't made that way, we can't tell the customer they are an idiot if they do something.  BUT... we can tell the truth. 

When it comes to computers, I have been there.  I have been in front a customer with a computer/network problem.  I have come up with a reason that the problem was coming up and the customer wasn't receptive, because they would have to change their ways.  I have at that point noticed they weren't really receiving the message and tried to "soften the blow" rather than stick to what I think.  The result is they love me for a few moments more but eventually they become frustrated and blame me for their problems.  But, but, I tried to tell them!

So now I try to be brutally honest and everything goes well.  Oops, I'm supposed to be telling the truth.  No it doesn't always go well.  I have lost customers telling them the way I see it and sticking to the facts as I see them.  That really hurts.  The sad part is I knew I was right and eventually they find out I was right but it still hurts and I still don't have that business ($$$). 

But I would rather loose business for telling the truth than for letting them feel good about being an idiot.