Posted by: Ed Becker | April 9, 2009

Web Worker Tools #9 — Conference Calling

When you need to have a conference call, Calliflower combines some of the features of time bridge to set up a meeting with the features needed to have a conference call. Basic features are free with the numbers to call or not toll-free. When collaboration tools and presentation capability is included.

If you have VoIP, for instance Skype, you can integrate it with Calliflower in place of the standard phone and avoid long-distance charges. Service works with any phone. When you call the number, enter a 10, and begin talking. The call manager can record the call in MP3 format, and even mute lines so that only one speaker can be heard, or open them so that questions can be fielded or discussion take place. Won’t your manager be impressed when you show him or her how you can schedule your own conference calls from your home office?

Whether you choose the premium or free versions, Calliflower is great value. The free option lets you host conference calls, manage conference call invitations, send reminders via email or SMS, record conference calls and more. You won’t pay a dime, but you will pay long distance service for the toll costs of reaching the Calliflower facility in Minnesota, USA.

If you may need to share documents or presentations in real time, or want to have local call in numbers (now available in 18 countries)., you will  need to upgrade to the Premium version.  The Calliflower Premium is the best solution for a full feature set. Calliflower Premium comes with all of the features of thefree version, plus document sharing, local call-in numbers, multiple organizer accounts, and the ability to delegate organization of the call to a third party.  And at $50 per month for unlimited usage, Calliflower Premium is still less money than virtually every other conference calling and webinar solution available today. 

If you’re a moderate to heavy conference call user — making several calls per week — or you need the document sharing features of Calliflower Premium, or it’s important to you to have international attendance on your calls, then you’ll want to choose Calliflower Premium.  For light conference call users, the free option is the best choice.

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Posted by: Ed Becker | April 8, 2009

ALERT — How is Your Computer Security?

Today’s   Blog begins with a review of two facts that you may have missed followed by  a question.

Today we learn that the Pentagon spent more than $100 million in the last six months – that is more than $ 555,555 per day or $23,148 per hour, responding to and repairing damage from cyber attacks and other computer network problems. Press reports say that Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, said the military is only beginning to track the costs (so the numbers above are probably not complete), which are caused by regular and continuing attacks against military networks ranging from the Pentagon to bases around the country.   Other reports say that rogue software has been found in the electrical distribution grid of the USA that the Russians and Chinese can activate to disrupt our supply of electricity.

HERE’S THE QUESTION:  If highly sophisticated and well funded enterprises like the Pentagon and the national electrical suppliers are this vulnerable, what does that say about your computer security?

Don’t think you have a problem because your organization is small and of no interest to Internet marauders?  Think again.  In my experience, when a computer is connected to the Internet, within minutes there are thousands of attacks on it.  Protect yourself!

SOME SUGGESTIONS: First be sure you have some security.  Anything is better than nothing!  At the very least, turn on the Windows firewall.  Be aware that the best security is a layered security.  If you have a connection to the Internet, a Firewall is recommended.  Anti-virus and Anti-Spy-Ware software is essential in today’s world.  If you can afford it, invest in a Spam Filter or at least set up Outlook in a way that dumps questionable email into the Junk folder.  Lastly, refrain from opening web sites and emails or attachments you do not personally know and expect and even then, DO NOT open attachments to emails unless you expected to receive it.  When in doubt, do the old fashioned thing — call the sender to confirm they sent it to you!  And above all……never, never, never open emails or attachments sent from yourself …. unless, of course, you actually sent it.   It constantly amazes me that organizations will spend a large portion of their revenue on staff and computers, but fail to take even these basic steps to protect the enterprise.

And be sure you are backing up your data AND testing t he backups every week!  It is a disaster to need the data backup to restore data only to find out that the backup is corrupted or has not been working for weeks or months.  If you are still using tape backup, dump it and implement disk to disk backup with off-site storage.

These simple and basic steps will go a very long way to limiting your risk and providing security that will assure your security.  There is much more to do to protect your computers, but at least start with these.  What are you waiting for?

Posted by: Ed Becker | April 6, 2009

Web Worker Tools #8 — Scheduling Meetings

An important part of business continuity and Web worker strategies is the ability to communicate, work together, and coordinate meetings. When the organization’s team is geographically dispersed, especially in the case of working from home, out of necessity due to emergency, the ordinary activity of organizing the team, scheduling meetings, and doing all of this across diverse computing platforms available from the members home can be difficult.

A simple thing like scheduling meetings can become very difficult when the team is working from home or other dispersed locations. We usually think of sending an invitation in Outlook and accepting it for the meeting to be added to the schedule and the Outlook calendar. In a Web worker environment, other scheduling applications may be included. There is an excellent web tool that is able to coordinate meetings with many platforms as long as you have the attendees e-mail address.

With TimeBridge, the meeting attendees will receive an e-mail message with the options for a meeting time. Invitees don’t need a  TimeBridge account to reply.  As the meeting organizer you will receive a response from each invitation. Once the meeting is set ,everyone on your list will receive an e-mail confirmation with links to import the meeting information, and the appointment into their calendar, weatherthat  is Google, Outlook, Yahoo, iCal or some other application.

All the details can be found at http://www.timebridge.com/home.php .   TimeBridge ridge provides convenience, cross-platform functionality, and a shared calendar– all for FREE!

Posted by: Ed Becker | April 5, 2009

Web-Workers Tools #7 – On-Line Audio Conferencing Tool

The last Web worker tool introduced a cross-platform instant messaging tool. While instant messaging is an excellent tool for short and quick communication, their are times when the full-blown meeting is needed. Most of the time meetings are about face-to-face interaction on a focused topic. In many meetings you are not looking at people so much as presentations, whiteboards, outlines and other materials. There are excellent tools on the Internet that provide the opportunity for face-to-face meetings virtual in. These tools are more dense than ever.

One of the best online conferencing tools is dimdim. Eminem is easy, has no software, and is free for up to 20 people. For a reasonable annual fee a full set of features are available for a large number of people to participate. 

With a paid subscription to the full feature set,  all attendees can simultaneously annotate a presentation, mark up a whiteboard, send instant messages and broadcast their audio and video.   Hosts can enable any attendee to take control of the meeting to share their PowerPoints, PDFs, whiteboards, even share their desktops.  And best of all Dimdim  links, Mac, Linux, and Windows. Supported browsers include Internet Explorer, Safari, and Firefox.

As a business continuity and disaster recovery tool, dim dim offers organizations the ability to meet together. Even when the members are geographically dispersed.

While it is not necessary to download software to use the service, there is downloadable open source software and open source APIs available on the website which allow customization.

When the office needs to share something with you or vice versa a sales meeting with the team who is not together is required, or just an all hands meeting without requiring travel — Dimdim is the way to go.

 You can learn more about it on the Internet at the dim dim sight. That follows:   http://www.dimdim.com/

Posted by: Ed Becker | April 3, 2009

Web-Worker Tools #6 – Kick the Spreadsheet Addiction!

Today’s Web worker tool is for all of the spreadsheet addicts working outside of your office. There is a better way is on the Internet. For longtime programs that use relational databases have been out of the reach of ordinary mortals. Not anymore. Since 1999 Intuit has provided an increasingly attractive and online application that is relatively easy to use and is called QuickBase.

I belong to an international peer group that uses QuickBase for benchmarking. It is a proven effective, accurate and ubiquitous application for the people. Putting databases online ensure security, remote access, and, for your supervisor, direct insight into your work and its outcome. QuickBbase licenses for 10 users and up and costs about $250 per month. This is competitive with other similar services on the Internet.

QuickBase is powerful enough to store and process data for billing, CRM, HR, vacation calendaring, time and attendance reporting, project management and other serious business activities. Anyone in the organization can create a database from scratch and Intit  provides standard templates that you can select for a rapid start. Once the database is created is very easy to add users and notify them of their access through e-mail. Users can have various roles so that people can edit or not; view only; or have total control. In addition, users can generate their own customized reports from the data. While there are many other options on the Internet,I highly recommend Intuits QuickBase.

You can see for yourself by clicking on the link and touring the site. I think you will be favorably impressed with the diversity of applications available from the templates as well as the accomplishments of many companies that implemented QuickBase for their own purposes.  Check it out!  http://quickbase.intuit.com/

Posted by: Ed Becker | April 1, 2009

Web-Workers Tools #5 – IM for Business

We think of instant messaging we often consider it a toy used by very social teens. There is a strong case for instant messaging and business, especially for the web worker.

The real-time benefits of IM are clear to anyone who has ever used an instant message client. Because of its real-time communication capabilities is also real timesaver, and offers the advantage of maintaining an archive of your conversations.

The biggest drawback of instant messaging is found in the fact that they do not share with each other. That is, MSN messenger can not communicate directly with AOL Instant Messenger and so forth. With that drawback becomes clear that the web worker needs an instant messaging client capable of talking to many instant message services.

One service that stands out among all of the instant messaging client that can talk to multiple services Meebo.com. An account on meebo will allow you to concurrently log into your Yahoo, AOL, MySpace, and MSN accounts for cross-platform conversations. A Meebo chat room can be public or private. By creating a password-protected room you can privately chat with your coworkers.

There are a number of cross-platform instant messaging clients today. A search of downloads.com reveals Trillian posted in November 2008 with nearly 38,000,000 downloads; Pidgin posted in January 2009 with 500,000 downloads; and Digspy posted in December 2008 with 240,000 downloads. A Google search will likely more options for you.

Instant messaging can be like having a telephone always off the hook always connected to your coworkers and always ready for instant communications. Give it a try!

Posted by: Ed Becker | March 31, 2009

Web worker tools #4 – Video Conferencing

Videoconferencing provides the Web worker with the ability to attend a meeting while still being a web worker.  Attening impromptu and scheduled meetings while out of the office is possible  using the right videoconferencing tool. It is not necessary to drop everything and drive to the office to attend a meeting with services like Windows messenger, Skype, MSN messenger and others. Of all the choices for videoconferencing there is one that stands out among all the rest called ooVoo. 

One  computer with an Internet camera is called a node. Up to three notes can connect on ooVoo at no cost. Enlarging the number of nodes to six cost a minimal $10 per month. The services provices unlimited hours  of videoconference per month and a web worker can send unlimited video messages to recipients who can access the messages online without the need for special software. ooVoo  will also provide the phone option allowing a Windows computer to call any phone or cell phone for five dollars more per month.

ooVoo doesn’t seem to have the same performance problems that other Internet services experience because it combines point-to-point connections with connections through its own servers.

You can see more about ooVoo on the Internet at http://www.oovoo.com  Another service that is gaining ground in this arena is SKYPE.  Check it out at www.Skype.com

Posted by: Ed Becker | March 25, 2009

Are You Ready for April Fools on your Computers?

Last October the Conficker virus created many issues across the world. A malicious virus that could attack computers and servers on April Fool’s Day is no laughing matter to the millions of people who could be affected.
Named ConfickerC, this brand-new and highly sophisticated computer virus silently installs from unreliable websites and infected downloads, usually email attachments. The virus exploits portions of the Microsoft Windows operating system and is thought to hide on a hard drive until April 1 when it may awaken and begin execution of new instructions from its creators.
Despite the release and application of a fix for the original Conficker virus in October 2008, Conficker C is the third variant representing a virus that no one knows for certain what it does or what it intends to do. This may be the world’s biggest April fool’s joke, or it may potentially take over your computer and steal all your personal data.

Be sure to protect your computer now with updating your anti-virus definitions not less than every 4 hours, and applying all of your Windows updates. The best protection is proactive activity NOW!

To download the Windows patch, click on the following link:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/dd452420.aspx

Posted by: Ed Becker | March 11, 2009

Web workers’ tool #3

Collaboration is increasingly important in today’s work world especially when the work force includes geographically dispersed team members. Just because you are not at the office does not mean you’re not able to pass documents back and forth. Your company could invest in something like Microsoft share point server, an excellent collaboration tool. Share Point Server makes it easy to pass documents and collaborate on projects.

Smaller offices made need a simpler and cheaper way to accomplish this goal. This is where the web worker will find Google documents very useful. Don’t be confused, Google documents like the power of Microsoft Office but it is simple to use and allows for collaboration at low expense. Sharing documents is as easy as clicking the share tab and then you can invite people to collaborate or view your work. Google documents even from its creation of an RSS feed so that you can see changes as they happen. The sharing works not only for wordprocessing documents but also spreadsheets and presentations. Everything you create in Google documents can be imported into Microsoft Office products to

You can get acquainted with Google documents at http://docs.google.com   . Happy by working!

Posted by: Ed Becker | March 10, 2009

Web Workers’ Tools #2

Web workers tool number two is inexpensive, project management software called Zoho.  Project management software offers a tool to maintaining your work at home status.  Zoho is easy to learn and use while also being inexpensive.

Zoho project is one of many products the company provides as Web only software that is easily suitable for any office work. Any project you create in Zoho can produce time reporting, ATX chart, a calendar, and even RSS. You can track the hours that you put in, assigned billable and nonbillable  status to the hours and it can even work with multiple administrators especially useful if you have more than one supervisor.

There is no charge to use Zoho project if you have only one project in play. Multiple projects are charged five dollars a month which includes three projects in 500 MB of file storage. The upper limit is $80 a month which will bite you on limited projects with 25 GB of storage. With multiple projects and play the manager is able to assign different projects to different staff thereby keeping the cost down and the value high. 

Zoho projects and the other Web applications can be explored on the Internet at  http://projects.Zoho.com

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