More spam emails…

June 27, 2011

Well, we all get them. We all try to ignore them. Sometimes we are lucky and our spam filters work – but sooner or later, one is going to slip through…
So – what are the latest spam emails that I know about?
United Parcel Service Notification – if you get one of these, remember that it’s very unlikely that the parcel delivery service has your email address, so do not click on any link – they don’t know about you, anymore than you know about them!
Next – PayPal have yet again restricted my service… or something like that…. Again – NEVER click on the link in an email to update your details – go back to the original URL and follow the links.
I have had multiple emails over the last couple of weeks “Re: Career Finders” – another email telling me how I can make millions at home with very little work….
So – what prompted this post? One that just arrived – “Notification from Microsoft Outlook”. So, why do I think that this one might catch people out? Well, it says that it is from support@outlookexpress.com – which looks like a reasonable address for this sort of email. And a lot of people will be using Outlook Express – I know of a number of my customers who use this product – so it might catch them out. So, please – remember the golden rule – NEVER click on the link in an email to update/renew/revise/review any details – legitimate businesses will tell you to log in and update your details, because that way you know that it’s going to be the real deal.
So – stay safe in our cyber world – and if you have any questions, post them here and we will either answer them or point you to the authority who can tell you what the deal is.

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Of the new year, resolutions, holidays(!) and progress

January 7, 2011

Firstly, Happy New Year! I hope that all of you have had a good festive season and that we are all looking forward to a good year in 2011.

Well, I had great plans for the holiday period – top of the list being that I was actually going to take a decent break. Of course, as a small business owner, this particular plan fell through… One of my current jobs is not transferring correctly from my test environment to the live server, so my break was reduced to a couple of days, rather than a week or two – but we’re nearly over that hurdle and then I will have a happy customer!
This means that the website rewrite has been postponed for a while – I’ll let you all know when it starts, so you can have a look at it when it is relaunched. Keep an eye out for the notifications!

So, my first BIG task for next week is to work out the immediate priorities for 2011 – and some longer term goals. Do you have plans for changes in 2011? Let us know by leaving a comment – remember, one of the best ways to make sure that you actually carry out your plans is to be accountable – so put it out there – we’ll help you make it happen. Also, if there are issues stopping you from carrying out your plans, we might be able to help you work out how to overcome the obstacles too.

Here’s to a good year for everyone!

Windows Users – Remember to Defragment your hard drive

December 16, 2010

Well, I have not been very diligent about this…

When you open Accessories – System Tools – Disk Defragmenter, you can click the Analyze button, to check whether your hard drive needs cleaning up. Hopefully, you get a picture with a lot of blue and white, some green and a minimal amount of red – or, you could get a picture like I did:
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Obviously, my hard drive needed to be defragmented – with a vengeance!

Unfortunately, there is also a requirement to have 15% or more of the hard drive free in order for Disk Defragmenter to work correctly. So – as I had less than 15% free on both occasions that I have used this tool, I was not able to get the full benefit from the tool… But it DID improve the situation each time I ran this tool. Running it repeatedly moved files around, improving the situation, even if it is still not ideal.
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While it might still look like some kind of Jackson Pollock or Pro Hart art work, if you look carefully, you will see that the first blue section has moved further to the left and there is less colour on the right hand side – all of which means that your files will load faster on your PC – which has to be good!

So – learn from my mistakes – don’t leave it 12 months between times that you run the Disk Defragmenter tool on your hard drive! Backup your files regularly and run the defragmenter about once a month – don’t let your picture get as colourful as this.

Networking – does it work?

December 1, 2010

One of the issues that Perfect Notes has with getting Virtual Assistant customers is trust – if a business hires a Virtual Assistant and the relationship works, the VA is going to learn a LOT about the business! So, necessarily, you have to be sure that you trust the person who is going to be doing your work. But… in this modern world, most people come to your website to work out whether they want to use your services. Which is totally reasonable – but how do you convince someone who is reading your website that you are trustworthy? I mean, I could write all sorts of words, but how do the people looking at the page know that we are not snake oil salesmen? I have not yet found a solution to this question, although this will be focused on more when the website is rewritten (hopefully by the New Year) – but part of the solution is to actually meet potential customers face to face, to build a relationship and let people get to know us – hence the fact that Perfect Notes often attends networking events.

Do they work? Well, I would have to say yes. 30% of Perfect Notes’ customers came from networking of one kind or another.

Are they hard work? Well – for me they are – for a lot of people they are just fun, because they are people who love chatting to other people, so it’s just an extension of that, talking about their business. But the more I do this, the better I am at talking to people about how we can help them and the more comfortable I am with the whole process – so it’s all good. And every time I speak to someone about the business problems we can help them to solve, that potential business relationship is happening and the possibility of building enough trust to allow access to business knowledge – which is the only way that potential customers can learn who we are and what we stand for.

So – if you see us out and about, come and say hi – if we can’t help you, maybe you can help us – not all business relationships are as customer and supplier – partnerships are possible too!

On the other hand – does your business need to establish a face-to-face relationship with your customers? If so, think about networking – it really can work for you, as well as for us. And if you want to know some of the details, talk to me – it can’t hurt to have more information, surely?

What is a ‘Virtual Assistant’?

November 26, 2010

So… you might have heard the term ‘Virtual Assistant’ used – especially if you know a bit about Perfect Notes – but you don’t really know what it means… Let me see if I can explain it a bit – particularly in regard to the things that we can help you with!

Wikipedia tells us, as a start:
Virtual assistance (or VA) is the professional service of remote administrative office and other specialized support by a virtual assistant who works with clients in an ongoing, collaborative professional relationship.

But that doesn’t really help me to understand it any better, so I doubt that it helps you either! So let’s try to describe it a bit more clearly.

A virtual assistant takes some of the administrative tasks of running your business off your hands, so that your time is free to do the stuff that makes you money – or keeps you happy.

So how can you tell whether you need a virtual assistant to help you run your business?

  • Do you spend all of your day selling to customers, or creating widgets, or training people, or installing machines – then come back to the office and spend another hour at your desk catching up on all the paperwork?
  • Do you know that you need a holiday, but dread the thought of going away, because you are the only one who knows how your business should run?
  • Do you know that your website should be updated but have no time to do that? And you suspect that you are missing out on customers because your website is a long way down the list in Google Search results?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, a virtual assistant could help you.

So, send us an email or call us on 03 9894 0530, to talk about how we can help solve some of your business problems – and make your life easier!

Backups

November 21, 2010

Well, it’s an oldie but a goodie – the topic of backing up your data – particularly your business data.

It might seem that we regularly discuss the need for having backups of your information – especially if you are running a business with that information – but we talk about it regularly because it’s so important!

Data that needs to be considered ranges from your holiday snaps from the digital camera, through your university essays to the accounting information that allows you to invoice your business customers. Obviously, the backup procedures for each of these types of files is different, but you need to ensure that you have at least two copies of all of these, to make sure that you always have access to them – remember, CDs and DVDs can be scratched or lost, so another copy is always a good idea.

For businesses, there are at least a couple of choices for backup locations – you can keep one copy of your information in a separate physical location (say one at home and one in the office), or there are a number of services that allow you to put a backup copy online (over the internet). In each case, there are issues that need to be considered, including how quickly you can access the second copy if you need it and what the costs are. Along with this, you need to decide whether you need an automated backup process or you can (and will!) do it manually. So if you want to talk to someone about the backup requirements of your business or your family, have a look here and send us an email – we can help you.

So – why am I mentioning this now? Well, I had a meeting with a business associate on Thursday morning – it had been postponed twice due to illness, so it was important that we catch up this time… In the morning, I got an SMS that she would not be at the initial meeting, as she had been up till nearly 4.30am with her local IT guy, trying to remove a virus from her work PC, but that our later meeting was still on – so it sounded like she had an ‘interesting’ night! By the time the initial meeting was over and I called her to let her know I was on my way, she had managed about five hours sleep – so our meeting was definitely happening. Anyway, to cut a long story short, when I got to her office, this was the story:

1. She was concerned about backing up her data and her clients’ data, so she bought an external drive (well, actually two) to ensure that she always had a separate copy apart from the one on her PC.

2. One of the two drives in the external case was faulty. So the initial setup did not complete, but she had great difficulty convincing the people that she had bought it from that she had followed the correct process and the drive was actually defective and needed to be replaced. The process of trying to convince them to repair or replace it under warranty had taken around a month, so far.

3. She got a virus on her work PC. Trying to remove this required a reboot and going back to a previous Restore point. Windows did not recover correctly from this, so she sent a panicked message to her IT guy – who worked through the night to try to recover from the issues.

The outcome of all this – the IT guy was not able to remove the virus in a single step, so the single drive in the external case is being used to take a backup of all the files required (as was its original purpose in life!) – this process looked as if it was going to take all of Thursday and probably at least half of Friday, if not longer. After that had been done, the PC was going to be taken away to have the virus removed by whatever means were required – which may well require a complete clean install and then reinstallation of all software being used on that machine. I have not heard how that process went, but obviously my associate is not happy that this virus is causing so much grief and downtime for her business.

So, ultimately, she was doing the right thing by setting up a backup system to ensure that her business could run smoothly if there were any issues – but it did not quite get organised before she needed it. Let us help you to avoid this situation! An email or a call on 03 9894 0530 can start the process of protecting you from being caught out like that.

Why we’ve been so quiet…

November 12, 2010

Well, while it might not have been obvious to everyone out there, Perfect Notes has been very busy for the last two weeks.

A fortnight ago, we received a request for quote for some work setting up and supporting Plone websites and associated servers. While some colleagues believed that there was no point in responding to this, we decided to at least do some preliminary work to determine whether it was worth our while to provide a response. So there was about a day’s worth of research and investigation… At the end of that time, we had determined that it was possible for us to do the work requested, so the real work started – to produce the quote!

Well, the long and the short of it is that Kathy spent a week and a half pretty much dedicated to this work, while David spent a couple of days on it – investigating some processes directly and then doing a review of the completed document.

Ultimately, if we get this work, we will be employing a couple of other people to help us out, so that none of our other customers or potential customers suffer – and if it doesn’t happen, well, we have both learnt a lot in the process of producing the quote – which is all good – any increase in knowledge has got to be good! You, our customers, definitely benefit from our increased understanding of the possibilities that are out there – the IT world is always moving forward, so this research has kept our ability to support you and your systems moving forward.

And, of course, it takes a while to catch up from a work overload like that – but we seem to be up to date again.

So, we hope to keep this blog updated a bit more regularly again – and not leave everyone in the dark so long in the future.

Firesheep Menace

November 3, 2010

Welcome to the new business focused Perfect Notes blog.

Our first post will be to revisit a security issue that’s become public in the last few weeks. Other users can easily take over your Facebook and other accounts just by sitting near you when you access these accounts on public Wi Fi systems. The bit of software used for this takeover is a Firefox browser add on called firesheep.

Perfect Notes IT did some testing on this flaw at a McDonald’s WiFi to gain first hand knowledge of this security exploit. We took over 2 (of our own) Facebook accounts seamlessly in only a couple of minutes. In neither case was there any clue to this take over to the user. One machine was modified in the way most people recommend as being enough to disable the firesheep risk (we reset the machine to force the connection into a secure mode).  Nonetheless it proved possible to take over a Facebook account some of the time just as the connection was made!

The lessons to draw from this are obvious. Don’t trust public WiFi. Be aware of security issues. Don’t believe all you read on FB even when (you think) you know who it comes from.

Perfect Notes IT can help with your security issues. Contact us if you have questions.

“…..and so Adieu”

October 29, 2010

Or not!!!!

As the result of certain (fingers in the air making quotation marks ) ‘creative differences’ we have decided on some changes to this blog. The blog as it stands now has been moved and will become my private platform for whinging and comment. It will henceforth be known as …… roll of drums…. “The Percrime Chronicles”.

THe Percrime Chronicles are located over on google’s blogger. In my view a better blogging platform in any case. This version will become your more traditional business blog.. co written.. at this point by Kathy and I, (probably mostly by Kathy) and fiercely devoted to marketing. There will be a significant styling change.

Its been fun. Apparently however its not allowed to be fun. It has to be work. I hope some of my readers follow me over to blogger. And as to the rest of you.. see you at work.

Dave

Of fiery sheep and burnt skin

October 27, 2010

Its been an interesting week. More delving into the guts of Sony Vaio’s, a few little jobs here and there. A couple of new websites (well to us.. really they are just updates), a support client wanting us to develop a couple of shopfront websites for him, and I have remote desktop.. and actually all remote services on private LAN’s sussed. Even have a how to document together on my hot little macbook. And remote desktop enabled on one of my machines. and visible from the web. Even though we have a dynamic IP address that changes often

Here is the web server on the machine in the corner. If its not there its because I turned it off not cos its down, Totally reliable.. although it of course comes with security issues. And simple in the end. Cool huh? Got that wired now.

A few days ago we went to my old mate Ian and his wife Lisa’s for a barbie. I amused myself by hacking Ians router on the fly with my macbook and actually setting up some security. Wide open network. Since then I have read of an astonishing plugin for the firefox web browser called firesheep. It works like this.. if you use a nonsecure network at the same time as someone is using firesheep and you go to any of a myriad non secure sites.. including amongst many others facebook.. Mr firesheep has your username and password. Scarey huh? To beat it you probably need to force the non secure site to run https.. but that makes it harder apparently to deliver advertisements, so may not always even be possible. Its probably why so many of these sites are not secure anyway… that and the overhead in encrypting each bit of data. I have had a look at firesheep and its now on my Macbook.. more when I know more. But this is scary scary stuff

Ian became my mate for life after an accident a trillion years ago when I broke my hip. All other visitors bought flowers. Cept my mum who bought clean underwear in the wrong size. Ian bought scotch. A good mate.

Team Splat! returned to DISC last week for some training. While warming up.. my tire went down. Result a fall and a lack of confidence for the rest of the night. The tire was at 120 psi and at 80 psi in the bend at 25 kph the front wheel tucked under. Not saveable. Not impressed. I caught the replacement tube at 80 psi later too. Not confidence inspiring. Cost me some skin and a good pair of knicks to figure out that if the tire should squeal on a painted line at DISC its a really really good time to stop and check tire pressures.

Sally later on had a 0 kph fall out of the starting gate. Sally was having a slightly nervy night herself. In fact the only confident happy member of Team Splat! was Jenny. Who rode confidently and well Sunday week at Blackburn Velo is Team Splat!’s next official outing.. come along and support us.

Just heard that the Brumby Government has just revisited its abandoned election promise of a rail link to Tullamarine Airport. It helped get em elected last time and then was dumped, this election is looking pretty dodgy, trot it out again. Cos Victorians are stupid. We must be.. look at our pollies. 😛 But seriously how cynical are these people? Brumby probably thinks he has my vote because he is a cyclist. Think again mate. I know of few people who could not do a better job than you.. and almost no one who could not do it cheaper.