Archive for June, 2010

Recycling and donating electronics

June 30, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Even if you have a consumption reducing program, your company will have electronics that are at the end of their useful life.  Moving is a time when companies purge the old and electronics are no exception.  Designing a new office is a great time to modernize and check the usefulness of computers and peripherals.  Monitors, printers and battery backups are a few of the devices that you should examine closely.  Upgrading monitors and printers can give you a real return-on-investment and too often our battery backups are overlooked or neglected.

LAN System has a free recycling program.  You can drop off your equipment at our office or we will make arrangements for pickup during your normal on-site support.   We also will prepare your equipment for donation to a school or charity of your choice.  There is a nominal charge for this service as we will clean up data and make sure that all software is properly licensed.  If you have question or want to arrange for this service, please call us at 770 662-0312 or email recycle@lansystems.com.

Recycling electronics

Responsible recycling is essential.  Computer equipment and electronics that cannot be reused or donated must be environmentally recycled.  This includes printers and print cartridges.  Some retailers (like Staples) will give you cash back for your used cartridges.  To dispose of any device that has a battery, like uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) or battery backup, take it to a recycle center.

Before you send your computer to a recycler, be sure that confidential data is completely removed.  Files that have only been deleted or erased, can be easily recovered.  So if you have to comply to HIPPA or any other regulations or have sensitive data, be sure that you use secure delete standards, such as the Department of Defense 5220.22-M.

Donating electronics

Remember you have to clear sensitive and personal data and that simply deleting or reformatting the hard drive is not adequate.  If you are including software, you have to make sure that you do not violate the terms of the software license.  For more information, see the booklet “Do the PC Thing: Donate Computers” published by the EPA.

LAN Systems would be happy to arrange for recycling or donating to your favorite non-profit through our recycling program.  There is a nominal fee for our donation program that includes removing / clearing your data and checking software licenses.

More technical notes at www.lansystems.com/technotes.html

If want to discuss these and other ideas, please email me at mary@lansystems.com.

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Should information on the Internet be free?

June 23, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Information is an essential resource for any decision, but some data is more valuable than other.  Information that is current, accurate, scarce or can be used to make high value decisions is quite important and therefore, expensive. When data loses its timeliness, accuracy or scarcity, it loses its value.  This is not a new concept, but the Internet has changed the perception.

Research on the Internet is so much easier than going to the library and digging through stacks of books.  Information on the Internet is easily accessible, but you have to check its authenticity and correctness.  Books in libraries have more validation by the fact that they made it to the library shelf.  There is no guarantee that the information in library books is correct and authentic, but there are facts about the author, publisher, copyright and sources that give some credibility to the work.  Information on the Internet that is not cited should be viewed with suspicion.

Information in the public domain is vast and available on the Internet which makes it free for the taking, reading and repeating.

Should information that is not in the public domain be accessible and free? Much debate has surrounded Stewart Brand’s statement that “information wants to be free.”  But he also said that information wants to be expensive.  This is a wonderful paradox.

Holding and discussing the two opposing views that information wants to be free and expensive gives depth and dimension to the argument. So take the free information the Internet has to offer and purchase information that has value to you.  It’s your choice.

Please leave a comment or contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For technical tips, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html

A strong password is your first defense

June 14, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]The evolution of computers is astounding.  The increase in computing power, bandwidth and accessibility has made almost everything people do with computers easier.  Information technology not only satisfies our need for instant gratification, but changes the rules for trivial pursuit. No doubt, computers have changed our lives.

Today’s computer looks much different from the main frame days. Back then most users had a “green” screen to input data, starting with username and password. There was little graphics and most user input was entered at a prompt.  Now, the graphics are remarkable from backgrounds to programs to games.  The modern computer and display makes the virtual world come alive in ways that were hard to imagine twenty years ago.  But with all the advancements one key feature hasn’t changed, we still use a username and password to log in.

Most computer systems still require input of the username and password to authenticate. There are some computer systems that use biometrics, digital certificates or smart cards, but even those seemingly high-tech features are still anchored in providing old fashioned authentication in the form of username/password combinations. Two-factor authentication requires two separate ways – something you know (username/password) and something you have (biometrics/smart card/digital key) – to verify identity, but even these methods have weaknesses. Still your first defense is a strong password.

Strong passwords contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, special characters and are at least 8 characters in length.  Here are a few examples:

?lACpAs56IKMs”

areWEtherey3t

shirt.3cloud

Important accounts should have unique passwords. Even if you reuse passwords, don’t use on too many critical accounts and make sure the password is strong.  If a password is compromised, change all accounts that use that password.  You can create a less stringent password to use on non-critical accounts.

If you cannot remember all your accounts and passwords, you will have to record them.  You can keep in a password book or file, but this is where your best security can be compromised.  Keep your book behind lock and key.  Be sure to encrypt your password file and call is something innocent. (Don’t call it password.file.)  There are programs that will organize and save your accounts and passwords. To avoid malware infections, only get these programs from reliable sources. A good rule to follow is “when in doubt – don’t.”

A few password tools:

Create a strong password

Test your password strength

Generate a strong password online

If you have questions or suggestions for other topics, please leave a comment or contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical tips, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html

June Puzzle

June 11, 2010

The River Crossing

A farmer is on one shore of a river and has with him a fox, a chicken, and a sack of grain. He has a boat that fits him and one object. The fox will eat the chicken and the chicken will eat the grain if left together.

How can the farmer get all three possessions across the river safely?

(On a scale of effortless to diabolical, this rates an easy.)

Send your answer to puzzle@lansystems.com.  All correct answers will be entered in our monthly drawing.

Using Facebook to promote your business in 5 easy steps

June 7, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]Facebook can be used to promote your business by building an Official Page.  You can open a Facebook business account that has limited privilege or you can use your personal account to create a Company Page.  Facebook only allows an individual one account and it is a violation subject to your account being terminated if you create more than one account.

If you choose to attach a business page to your personal page, you can promote your business to your friends by suggesting that they “like” your page.  Whether you use a personal or business account, you can promote your business with ads.

You can mix your personal and business page by sharing posts, photos and sharing with friends or you can keep them completely separate.  This is determined by your security settings, how you post information and who you confirm as a friend. If you worry about what family or high school friends are going to post on your wall, consider keeping your accounts separate by not sharing information between them. For more information on business accounts, go to Facebook Help Center Business Accounts.

Now let’s get down to business promotion:

1) Create your Official Page.  This page can be linked to your personal page or can be created as a business account.  Business accounts have limited privilege. In order to make an official company page, you’ll have to have a Facebook account business or personal.  If you currently use your Facebook account to connect with family and personal friends, consider keeping the pages separate.  It is possible to have all your “friends” under the same Facebook account by managing security settings, but it requires that you manage your account.  You don’t want items posted to your wall that are not appropriate for your business friends.

2) Create your Official Page for a local business, product or group.  Keep in mind your brand as you add character to your page.  Your business summary and logo are essential to branding.  You can add more detailed information and photos to give more personality.  You can be formal, keep it light-n-lively or anywhere in between.  If you need ideas, go to some other Official Pages of businesses in your industry or area. Don’t try to be just like another page or site, just use as a way to spark you own creativity.  If your page will be a group effort, make sure you establish the ground rules and that one person is charged with brand monitoring.

3) Post to your Company Wall.  If you have a blog, you should link or add your posts to Facebook.  If you have decided to post photos, upload flattering photos of company events individually or in albums.  Keep it interesting and mix up the types of  posts to appeal to your fans.  The frequency of posts is up to you, but once you start make sure you are consistent.  Start with once or twice a week to test the required time commitment.

4) Promote your Company Page by suggesting to your friends.  Facebook recently replaced the “Become a Fan” button with the “Like” button.  Not everyone likes the new terminology and the debate continues on what it is to be a fan or like a page.  For your Company Page, the important point is to get people to like and visit your page.  Provide useful information and use as a way to drive visits to your blog or website. 

5) Promote your Company Page with an ad.  You can purchase impressions or clicks and choose your target audience. You can create variations of ads to test your marketing campaign using different logos, text and demographics. 

These are 5 easy steps to start promoting your business with Facebook.  Experiment to see what gives you the best interactions.  The Insights box, visible to administrators, gives you an indication of the amount of interaction with your business “friends.”   And one good like, deserves another. Go to the businesses you know, favorite their pages and like their posts to get the ball rolling.

If you have questions or suggestions for other topics, please leave a comment or contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical tips, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html

Jazz up your LinkedIn profile in 5 easy steps

June 1, 2010

[tweetmeme source=LANSystems only_single=false]If you are going to use your LinkedIn profile to promote yourself or your business, be sure you jazz it up a bit.  Make sure your content is informative and interesting and that you use the new features and tools to add color and content.

Even if you don’t want to spend much time on LinkedIn, try our 5 easy steps. They will give your profile depth and make you more interesting to your connections.

1) Make sure you profile is complete with present and previous positions, education, awards and specialties.

2) Give and request recommendations.  Write thoughtful recommendations for connections that point out an exceptional or unique circumstance or attribute. Don’t be shy, request recommendations from connections that will share your talents and achievements.

3) Add your Blog. Under More… go to Application Directory and add your Blog.  Use WordPress or Blog Link to display your Blog on your LinkedIn page.  You can show the recent posts or choose those that will be fed to LinkedIn. Blog Link will allow you to add blogs from your connections. If you don’t have a Blog, add your Tweets to LinkedIn.  If you don’t have Tweets, you better get with the social media program!

4) Put a couple of interesting books that you have read in your Reading List.  Choose books that are unique and distinctive to add depth to your online persona.  Books with lively covers will add colorful graphics to your profile.  Change your books periodically to keep it interesting.

5) Upload a presentation about you, your company or a topic you have presented. Use Google Presentation to upload or create presentations in .ppt format.  Google Apps  costs $50 per year there is a trial version available. But if you don’t want to buy anything, use Slideshare to upload up to three presentations – it’s free.

These are 5 easy steps to jazz up your LinkedIn profile. For more ideas, go to the LinkedIn Application Directory. Experiment with the other applications like Polls and Events.  If you don’t like the result, applications are easy to remove.

If you have questions or suggestions for other topics, please leave a comment or contact me at mary@lansystems.com.

For more technical tips, please visit our website: http://www.lansystems.com/resources.html