Why a PDF is Best for Sharing Files

PDF stands for Portable Document Format , a file format that originated in print publishing as a tool for proofing print jobs before sending them to the printer. Today, it has become the standard for sharing print-ready documents via the Internet. The format was developed by Adobe and was originally available only to owners of the company’s Acrobat software. During the mid-90s, Adobe began distributing Acrobat Reader software, a free tool for viewing PDF files – making it a popular choice for authors, publishers, and designers who wanted to get around the formatting limitations of HTML . PDF is now accepted as an open standard, and is widely supported by other software vendors. Several characteristics of PDF make it a great choice for sharing or publishing documents over the Internet. Ability to retain formatting. PDF allows the original presentation and formatting of any document to remain exactly as its original author intended it to look, including images, fonts, and layout. This is a distinct advantage over other formats such as Microsoft Office documents or HTML, which can change the document’s appearance according to the software and fonts installed on the computer used to view the document. Security. With PDF documents, you have full control over users’ ability to open, print, copy,modify, or share documents. You can selectively enable or disable these actions for each document according to your preferences. Easy to create. Because PDF has become an open standard, many software vendors support the format.You don’t necessarily need Adobe’s Acrobat software to create PDF documents. Many plug-ins for Microsoft Office, print drivers, or online conversion services are available free or for a fee and make it easy and convenient to publish or export to the format. Compressible. PDF file sizes can be shrunk to suit the needs of target users. PDF documents can be packaged and compressed while retaining the original quality, or can be down-sampled and compressed to dramatically reduce file size, making it quick to download over the web. Powerful and flexible. You can add interactive elements including form fields, hyperlinks,electronic signatures, and multimedia such as sounds and videos to your PDF documents. Although these features are also available with other formats,they are not as easy to package and share as PDF. So consider switching to PDF when you want to share or publish documents over the Internet. If you need assistance, let us know – we can help. Related articles: Customize PDFs online with these tools PDF Converter Downloads 4 Very Light Alternatives to Adobe Reader

New Swine Flu Outbreak: This Time the Virus may be in Your Computer

As if the scare from the Swine Flu virus were not enough, some opportunistic and malicious hackers have started spreading a computer virus with emails of the same name. Otherwise also known as the Navia.a virus, it seems to have surfaced during the height of the Avian Flu scare. However, the computer virus may have started spreading again. Initial reports from Japan say that the country’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) posted on its website that a suspicious Japanese-language email message purportedly coming from them has been circulating with an attached file called “information on swine flu”. The email, originating from senders in the “@yahoo.co.jp” domain, seemed to be sent to random Internet users, the institute said. Users, as always, are advised to avoid opening attachments from suspicious-looking emails to prevent infecting their PCs with malware.While we can’t protect you from the real swine flu virus, we can help you protect your PCs from its new malicious online cousin. Contact us today to find out how. Related articles: Internet flooded with swine flu spam As If Swine Flu Virus Is Not Enough – We Now Have Swine Flu Computer Virus

Survey Shows Insider Snooping on the Rise

Cyber-Ark Software, a security solutions company, recently released a survey showing that as much as 35 percent of people within an organization (that’s one out of three) admit to accessing corporate information without authorization. Furthermore, an alarming 74 percent claim they could circumvent the controls currently in place to prevent that access. The study polled over 400 IT administrators at the Infosecurity Europe 2009 and RSA USA 2009 conferences. While certainly a cause for concern, this is not surprising. Because of their technical knowledge and access to sensitive corporate information, internal IT staff are capable of circumventing internal policies and controls. If this is a cause for concern within your organization, don’t delay in giving us a call. We can help you secure your information and computing assets today. Related articles: Infosec 2009: Security must be built in from the start Securing business Slump prompts workplace snooping

Big IT Lessons Small Businesses Can Learn

What are the key technology lessons that small and mid-sized businesses can learn from large enterprises? Be proactive. Be prepared. Take security concerns seriously. Always watch for ways to cut costs. That just might sum up the advice that enterprise-grade IT shops would give smaller businesses about how to avoid costly IT mistakes. But what are some specific technology lessons that smaller fry can learn from the big fish? We asked the experts, and here’s a partial list: Read more at Inc Technology…

Are you Safeguarding your Data?

With the continuous proliferation of data and its increasing importance to business, it has become critical to implement measures to safeguard it. One such measure is to make sure you have a data protection, backup, and recovery system in place. The threat of data loss from hardware failure, malware , or disaster is very real. A little proactive effort will go a long way in ensuring the integrity and continuous availability of your critical company data. Talk to your IT consultant to find out more.

Good News for Small Businesses in the Bailout Act

Small businesses will get a helping hand with some key expenses under President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan, signed into law on February 17. Around $282 billion of the bill is devoted to tax cuts, including breaks for small businesses. Some of the highlights include: Small businesses will be able to more quickly deduct the cost of investments in plants and equipment from their taxable income. Small businesses will be allowed to recover alternative minimum tax (AMT) and research and development (R&D) credits faster. Small businesses will be allowed to write off up to $250,000 of capital expenditures in the year of acquisition. As a result, 2009 might be a good time to consider upgrading your technology. Your financial advisor can help you determine if any of these tax cuts apply to you. More information; A Breakdown of the stimulus package: http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/STIMULUS_FINAL_0217.html Small Business Association information on stimulus bill: http://www.sba.gov/recovery/index.html Regularly updated stimulus page at Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/public/page/stimulus-package.html

Getting Started with CRM

In today’s tough economic environment, converting your most promising prospects into customers and your current customers into loyal patrons is more important than ever. Whether your business is big or small, you need your marketing, sales, and customer service efforts to work together in sync-and this can only truly be done with a Customer Relationship Management program and system in place. What is CRM? Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a broad term that covers the management of all aspects of a company’s interaction and relationship with customers. It involves strategies, programs, and tactics to put the customer at the center of your business, with the goals of differentiating the company’s competitive positioning, attracting leads, encouraging customer adoption, improving customer satisfaction, encouraging customer loyalty-and ultimately driving revenue growth and profitability. Why is Automation in Implementing CRM Important? Among many other outcomes, an effective CRM involves properly identifying exactly who your customers are by not only segmenting them into groups but actually identifying them one by one so you can tailor your interaction with them in a way that meets their individual needs, wants, and expectations. And not only that, you also need to capture, store, and analyze each interaction with them in order to maximize your efforts. As a business owner, you have a lot to focus on, and to implement CRM effectively, automation is definitely key. Attempting to achieve the goals mentioned above manually with a paper system takes a huge amount of time and effort, with incomplete results that often don’t justify that cost. You need to implement efficient technologies that support coordinated interactions through all customer channels across all customer touch-points, whether they happen through e-mail, phone, fax, instant messaging, via the web, or in face-to-face meetings with your sales people. You can only do all these things efficiently and effectively with an automated CRM system. What Do You Need to Consider when Evaluating CRM Systems? These days there are so many CRM options available that choosing the one best for your needs can be confusing. In evaluating your options, it’s important that you weigh a system’s features against your particular circumstances and business goals. As you begin researching different services, keep in mind what your goals are, any constraints you have to work within (such as budget), and who are the expected users of the system. One of the first things to consider is whether you need an “on-demand” or an “on-premise” solution. On-premise solutions involve purchasing CRM software that runs on your own hardware and server. On-demand solutions are externally hosted systems accessible via the Internet. These convenient internet-based systems have no hardware or software set up requirements – saving you time and money. With employment trends heading more and more toward virtual or mobile employees, on-demand solutions are the best way to go for a lot of small- and medium-sized businesses. In some cases, however, there is good reason to run CRM software on your own server, inside your own office. For instance, if security is of paramount concern, especially if you’re handling sensitive customer data, then you might be uneasy letting someone else manage your system for you. Also, if an always-on Internet connection is not possible, or if you need to integrate your CRM system with other systems (such as your telephony or accounting package), then an on-premise solution is the way to go. Another important consideration is deciding what type of CRM system you want. Some CRM systems are geared towards marketing, and provide excellent automated lead generation, lead tracking, and marketing communication packages. Others focus on managing the activities of sales people, providing prospect and account management as well as opportunity management. Still others automate all aspects of the customer service function, such as automated helpdesk systems and knowledgebase. Finally, some focus on customer analytics, converting raw customer data from various systems into information you can act on. Whichever type of CRM you choose, make sure that you research all the options available to you carefully. Be sure to check with your IT services professional for help in not only finding the right fit for your business, but also in adopting a system that will integrate well with your current or planned IT structure.

The Scoop on Windows 7

Microsoft Windows 7 will be in stores October 22, but surprisingly few details of its features have been released. Thankfully, Ed Bott, a ZDNet blogger, researched it for his readers. We now know that, like its predecessor Vista, Windows 7 will ship with different editions: Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate/Enterprise, and the new Starter Edition, specifically for Netbooks. All share the same enhancements in speed, performance, and security, as well as many UI enhancements and new applications such as Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Media Player 12. The entry-level editions lack support for business-specific features such as encryption, virtualization, and the ability to join a domain, and limited customization options (lack of support for the Aero interface, for example). The premium editions feature interesting new add-ons such as support for Touch Applications. Vista customers will be happy to know that Microsoft announced an upgrade program for customers who have purchased Vista before Windows 7′s release. Want to know if Windows 7 will benefit your business? Give us a call today and we’ll help you decide. Related articles: Windows 7: The Complete Guide (Now With RC1!) [Windows 7] Microsoft: Lots to turn off in Windows 7 Windows 7 – It’s like Vista, only less annoying

New Google Service Helps Small Businesses

Google announced the release of a new Local Business Center feature called Search Dashboard that promises to help small businesses gain insight into how visitors came across their local listings. Local Business Center is a Google service that allows business owners to enhance their business listings in Google Maps and other search results. With Search Dashboard, users are able to view statistics on how local listings are found across different websites within Google. For example, it shows when website visitors clicked on driving directions included with listings as well as those visitors’ Zip Codes. Let us show you how this service can help you target ads to regions where your customers and prospects live. Related articles: The Local Business Center dashboard opens its doors (googleblog.blogspot.com) Google LBC Is A Treasure For Small Business (regulargeek.com) Google giving small businesses local search data (news.cnet.com)