Archive for July, 2013

Wow! (Not World of Warcraft)

Biz TechI started blogging almost three years ago as a way to help small businesses deal with their tech needs. A few weeks ago, this blog passed the 10,000 views mark. I love blogging and I do hope I provide valuable information that is consise and easy to understand. My blog focuses on real clients (not paid actors) and what we have done to solve their technical pains. Each client is unique, and their needs are different from one another, but they all have the same goals in mind. This blog is designed to provide relevant information to the small business owner/manager in a non-alienating, free of geek-speak as possible, way.

I am proud to announce that this blog was nominated for BizTech’s 2013 Must-Read IT Blogs. I have known about their online magazine for several years, but haven’t been on the site for quite some time now. A friend in the industry called me today and told me I was nominated. What a pleasant surprise!

I would be truly grateful if you would go and vote for me. I love what I do and I am privileged to be recognized for the tech support advice I offer to small businesses. Here is the link to the panel of nominees:

Thanks to the Biz Tech team for including me on their list, thank you reader, and a huge thank you to my clients for letting me take their stories and share them in the hopes that it helps another company. And, most of all, a big geeky thank you to my equally geeky family.

Categories: Digital Life Tags: ,

Google & Microsoft…Bullies on the playground?

See the NOTE at the bottom.

See the NOTE at the bottom.

You all know I am a Google girl, and have been since Gmail was first launched. But lately I have been reconsidering my current relationship with Google. (See my article Email Affairs – My version of 50 Shades of Grey to read about my Google love affair.)

As I mentioned in that article, I was finding Google was becoming a little too controlling and I was becoming increasingly unhappy about our current relationship. After recent events, my patience with Google has been stretched thin. You see, Google and Microsoft used to play well together; but after the release of Office 2013, the two giants are and have been battling, and the consumer is caught in the middle of the squabble.

One of my clients ordered a new system from an independent shop with Office 2013, back in April. She then asked me to come in in May and set up her system in her home office. Honestly, I figured I would pop in, set up her Gmail Apps for Business accounts, configure the backup and Blackberry, and have a happy client within a few hours. You know what is said about best laid plans?

It turned out Google hadn’t released the Google Apps Sync for Outlook at the time I first went in during the month of May. I set up the client’s email, knowing she didn’t have the whole calendar/contact sync, but according to the Google forums at the time, it was coming soon. We just had a to be patient a little while longer. In the meantime, we ordered a laptop with Windows 7 and Office 2013 Home and Business from Dell. By that point, it was early June and Google has released the Outlook integration model (kind of). In mid-June, the Dell unit with MS Home and Business 2013 arrives and I quickly set it up, with the Google Apps Sync for Outlook, and the client is up and running very quickly, except for some tweaking.

Next I head back to her home office and to finish the setup on her desktop. Since Google has released their software, I am sure this will be a snap. Many hours later, after a discussion with Microsoft and a Google reseller, my client still does not have a proper working desktop system at home; and the worst of it: she is not happy, which upsets me.

And what has caused all of this grief, you may ask? This should be a no-brainer, right? Think again and prepare yourself and your clients for what is turning into a miserable mess.

According to the Microsoft reps I spoke to, Office 2013 is Click and Run only (unless you have volume licensing).  I don’t know about you, but none of my small business clients have volume licensing, because it’s usually unnecessary for their needs and budget. Google released it’s Google Apps Sync for Outlook, but it is not supported on Office 2013 Click to Run. Office 2010 was also Click to Run, but we had the option of downloading the msi and Outlook 2010, and Google Apps Sync would work seamlessly.

So what’s the solution? In this case, the client returned the unit she bought, and we ordered a new desktop from Dell with Microsoft Office Home And Business installed; as I have been assured by the Dell rep that the Office 2013 pre-installed on the Dell systems is not Click to Run.

Moving forward with this company, we will order all units preloaded with Office 2013 from Dell, until this mess can be straightened out.

Who am I upset with? In this case I am upset with both companies. I understand why Microsoft is releasing software in this fashion, but they should make an MSI version available, as they did with Office 2010, for those of us who want more control over our installations. But in this case, I am more upset at and with Google right now. Office 2013 has been available to the public for 6 months now, and the manufactures had it back in the fall of 2012. I am not a programmer, but if Google can make self-driving cars, how hard is it to get Google Apps Sync to work on the Click to Run version of Office?

Why can’t these tech giants all get along? These companies are forcing their clients to side with one or the other, and it feels like the bully in the schoolyard. Remember “if you play with him/her, I won’t be your friend”? Unfortunately, small business consumers are the ones who are going to be most affected by this, and I am sure we’ll hear more about this problem as time goes by, and more people move to Office 2013.

The playground is much happier when everyone can enjoy playing together, no matter where you come from. I think it’s time for both Microsoft and Google to grow up, and play nice with each other, and all the others on the playground.

#3 and a Huge Thanks!

Thanks to all of you who downloaded Nuts and Bolts of Social Media for Business.  Your downloads have made this release #3 in Sales and Selling as of this morning!   Let’s keep the momentum going and see if we can raise it higher both in this category and in free downloads.  If you liked it, a quick review on Amazon would be very much appreciated.

Here’s the link to download and review section

Amazon Ranking

Amazon Ranking

The Nuts and Bolts of Social Media – New Book Release

ToolboxYou have your own business, product, service, or idea, and you know that you should be promoting yourself through social media. You head to the nearest library or bookstore to get your hands on some books and start reading. The books instruct you to blog about this, tweet about that, engage with your Facebook fans, and converse with others using your LinkedIn connections. All of this is great advice, but one thing most of these social media marketing books lack is how to create and use these wonderful social media tools. Tweeting your latest blog post is a great way to point users to your blog site, but if you don’t know how to correctly setup a Twitter account, let alone tweet your post, then these books are not helping you. If anything, these books could make social media marketing intimidating and scary.

The Nuts and Bolts of Social Media addresses this very issue. I walk you through how to create a Twitter account, a Facebook business/fan page, and a LinkedIn profile that will help you establish yourself as an expert and highlight your skills and achievements. Using very clear and step by step instructions with screenshots, you can easily build your presence on these top 3 social media sites. I explain what all those “other” settings are to help you better understand and control your privacy. I also provide real-life tips that have helped me build and expand my business using social media.

This is not a social media marketing book and I am not a social media marketing expert; but I am an IT professional, and I meet people everyday who want to use social media, but need assistance in setting up the various profiles. I have had so much demand for this that I’ve developed a seminar series on how to setup and use social media. I believe social media is only one tool in your marketing toolbox, but it is quickly becoming the most effective one. I will help you lay down the solid social media foundation to build your social media marketing platform on. As we all know, building anything on a shaky foundation will eventually lead to failure.

Take advantage of social media marketing to boost your business. It’s free, easy, and fun. The Nuts and Bolts of Social Media will help you lay down a solid foundation to build your social media platform on, and help build your business from the ground up.

PS You can download a free Kindle version of the book from Amazon from July 8-9th.  If you do take advantage of this offer and like the book please leave a review.

YouTube and Living outside the Box

upside down videoThis week, my “darling children” (Jamie 14, and Aedan 12) convinced me to use my virgin YouTube channel. I can honestly say that anything related to video-production scares me. (Not quite as much as improper server setups, but close; see article IT How Pennywise Would Have Done IT for some scary IT). I prefer the written word, but I do understand that not everybody likes to read, and video can be easier to learn from. Yesterday afternoon, my darling children and I sat down at the kitchen table and brainstormed ideas, wrote a script, and proceeded to record. In the past, I have struggled with video. I have had experience with being filmed, and it has never went without a hitch. The moment I look at the camera, I panic. End of story. It doesn’t matter if it’s video or still, it makes me squirm, and there are many pictures of me with some weird smile on my face. I don’t have the same problem when giving a presentation or teaching a class, until I notice a camera is capturing every word I say. I can be speaking very confidently, but the moment I see a video camera, I stumble. It would be much easier to avoid this altogether, but if I do that, then all I’m teaching my children is to hide from what scares them. I’m always telling my kids to live outside the box, and yet when they suggest something outside of my box, I try to crawl back into my pre-established comfort zone.

After working up enough courage to set up my phone (yes, I only used my S3), review the script, and try to find a way to keep the phone propped up, I took a deep breath, and started talking to my phone. My first couple of tries were horrible and frustrating. The language I was spewing would have resembled that of a Green Day concert (that I took my darling children to at ages 8 and 10). I hated every moment of it, from the hair in my eyes, to looking at my script, to squirming in my chair. But the kids kept encouraging me and told me that I couldn’t quit because I was uncomfortable, and that that would be going back into the box, where it’s safe. After a few more tries, we ended up with something I could work with.

Next came editing. I thought doing the recording was scary, but editing is a nightmare. My software kept crashing and wouldn’t save my edits. It was slow and I had to really get a feel where to splice the sequence (except for the part where I accidently left the “1, 2, 3, go” in). I am fairly happy with my final product, considering I had no idea what I was doing. Some of the outtakes are hilarious.

Next, I was ready to upload the video to YouTube. Again, the kids came to my rescue. “Mom you need to add a description. Mom you need to edit your profile. Mom you need to name your channel.” This quick little video was rapidly becoming a lot of work. Finally, I was uploading the final product. My kids couldn’t wait to view and critique it. Once it was up, they quickly loaded it and then started laughing hysterically. My heart dropped. What could be so funny about my video? It looked OK on my computer, was there food on my face, boogers hanging out my nose, maybe a funky hair thing? None of the above. My video was upside down! My first attempt did not go as planned, considering I pride myself on being the “infamous Guelph computer geeky girl”. I suspect this happened during a modification I made to the software to prevent the crashing issue. At least that’s my story.

I hope my first video – my introduction video – will be the wonkiest. Moving forward, my videos will be about topics I know, understand and speak about all the time. I am hoping my natural speaking ability will come through and I’ll get more comfortable with the camera itself.

I have come to realize you can’t always do what you are comfortable with; you’ll never grow and learn new things if you don’t try anything new, as scary as it may be.

Life’s too short to be stuck in the box.

If you wish to see my right-side-up video, click here.

%d bloggers like this: