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Archive for 2009

Productive Computing,Inc. Releases the Newly Redesigned Outlook Manipulator v4 Plug-in for FileMaker Pro®

August 12th, 2009
San Diego, CA Ð August 11, 2009 – Productive Computing, Inc. a Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, announces the release of the new Outlook Manipulator v4 for FileMaker Pro¨. This new version combines the power of our popular Outlook Manipulator v3 and the Exchange Client Manipulator plug-ins.
“Outlook Manipulator has created notable efficiency for our clients who are dependent on integrating Outlook with their FileMaker solutions. Built from the ground up and two years in the making, this latest version provides a host of new features and improvements to allow our customers unsurpassed integration opportunities.” – CEO, Marc Larochelle

New Features:

1. 65% faster when pulling e-mail from Outlook to FileMaker Pro

2. 34% faster when pulling contact data from Outlook to FileMaker Pro

3. Ability to update and create appointment and message requests. You can now invite attendees to an appointment directly from FileMaker.

4. Ability to create a distribution list or add an e-mail to a distribution list.

5. View e-mails in Outlook directly from your FileMaker interface. For example push a button in FileMaker called “View in Outlook” and the corresponding e-mail/Contact/Appointment/Task in Outlook will come to the forefront.

6. Ability to send e-mail “On Behalf Of” another user.

7. Improved method for error trapping during integration.

8. Works in cached mode AND non-cached mode.

9. Ability to save Outlook messages as .msg files.

10. Redemption is no longer required. No more redemption = no third party software to install.

With the release of this new product there will be some extensive changes to our Microsoft Outlook family of plug-ins.

1. The Exchange Manipulator has also been modified to include all of the new features above as well the ability to send e-mail “From” another user in an Exchange environment.

2. Customers that need additional Outlook Manipulator v3 plug-in licenses, will have until September 9th to purchase. After September 9th the Outlook Manipulator v3 will be discontinued.

3. Should technical support be needed for the previous versions of these plug-ins after the discontinuation date, customers will be able to receive it through our paid support services.

Customers using the older plug-in with the Core2 CRM version 1.1.0.3 or earlier, please go to our Support Forum at http://www.productivecomputing.com/forum for compatibility information.

The single user price for the Outlook Manipulator v4 plug-in is $99.95. If you are upgrading from an earlier version of either the Outlook Manipulator or Exchange Client Manipulator you will receive a 35% discount.

To purchase licenses of the Outlook Manipulator v4, watch a video tutorial or download a demo, please visit http://www.outlookmanipulator.com.

Visit our online Video Library for a complete list of our plug-in videos at http://www.productivecomputing.com/video.

 

About Productive Computing, Inc.:

Since 1996, Productive Computing, Inc. has been helping companies become more efficient and profitable by providing a solid foundation of indispensable software and support services. From custom FileMaker Pro database development, consulting and products, to IT support, web site design and hosting services, Productive Computing, Inc. is your strategic partner for all your companyÕs technology needs.

Productive Computing, Inc. is one of only a few companies in the United States to have earned the highly respected and exclusive platinum level membership within the FileMaker Business Alliance.

Productive Computing, Inc.

950 Boardwalk, Suite 205

San Marcos, CA 92078

http://www.productivecomputing.com

pr@productivecomputing.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ProdComp

(760) 510-1200

Press Contacts:

Productive Computing, Inc.

Keith Larochelle

(760) 510-1200

###

 

 

Author: Categories: Outlook Manipulator Tags:

Band-Aids are for Cuts, Not for Your IT Infrastructure

July 30th, 2009

There is a strange phenomenon that I have been witness to for as many years as we have done computer sales, repair and consulting work for our customers – and that is, when it comes to IT service, either you are heralded as the hero or run out of town as the villain.  Naturally a customer is thrilled with you when you play the role of the “fireman” and bring their network or computers back from the brink, but when you give them an estimate for replacing that aging server or workstation or 10 year old backup system (if they have one at all) they drag their feet and look at it as an extra or perhaps unnecessary expense.  Don’t fix what ain’t broke – right?

Wrong!  Replacing equipment as it breaks or only when you experience a critical failure on your network is like using a Band-Aid to close a gunshot wound.  If you use a big enough Band-Aid, you’ll get the bleeding to stop but a better approach is to be fully prepared for the bullet before it arrives.  All computers are machines and all machines break or become outdated.  If you know this, why aren’t you planning and budgeting for these events today?  Your IT infrastructure is the backbone and nervous system of your organization.  Every operation, task and sale relies upon your computers and hundreds of thousands of dollars pour through their circuitry every year.  Having a critical failure costs money in downtime, sales opportunities lost, client inconvenience, inefficiencies when workers don’t have the tools to get their job done, rush charges for replacement equipment or service or overnight shipping, not to mention the physical toll in unnecessary anxiety it causes for you, your employees and your service provider.

So what is the solution?  Have a plan and schedule the automatic replacement of equipment as it ages and budget a percentage of your net revenue towards keeping this infrastructure current.

Here are some simple suggestions to help you make your plan:

1. Inventory any piece of equipment that would be hard to replace within 15 minutes of a failure or costs more than $100.  You’ll want to track this inventory in a database or on a spreadsheet.  If you need a database you can purchase one from our website by clicking on the link embedded in this post.  (IT Asset Inventory Database)  As part of this inventory you’ll want to assign a unique asset ID, the make, model, specs, date purchased and cost of the equipment.  (computers, monitors, laptops, printers, switches, firewalls, backup systems and network storage devices)

2. Using your inventory, you’ll want to plan the lifespan and replacement schedule of your equipment.  Workstations for most users, 4 years.  Workstations for power users, 3 years.  Servers, 4-5 years.  Monitors, 5-6 years.  Printers less than $300, 2-3 years.  Printers more than $300, 3-5 years.  Backup systems, firewalls, switches, network storage devices, 5-6 years.

3. Put an asset tag/label on each piece of equipment that includes the assigned asset ID, date of purchase and most important spec info (CPU MHZ, HDD capacity, RAM).  This will allow you to easily match the piece of equipment to your inventory.

4. Don’t buy the latest and greatest computer for the employee with the most seniority and roll their computer down to the employees with the least seniority.  A piece of equipment is not a perk or reward from the company.  It should be delivered to fill a specific need of a specific job.  Rolling computers down to the least senior employee imposes a restriction on getting the right piece of equipment to the right person and you’ll waste a lot of time and money repurposing computers that were perfectly fine where they were.  You essentially turn 1 system configuration and installation into a chain of systems that need installation and configurations.

5. Keep a spare older workstation or two on hand, configured, and ready to give to an employee if and when a system breaks down.  This provides your business with the continuity of still being able to conduct business even while a critical failure is being worked on.

6. Try to purchase like equipment from the same vendor so that when a system breaks down or requires service you are familiar with that vendor’s warrantee and service policies and procedures.  i.e. purchase all your workstations and servers from Dell or Apple, all your printers from HP, etc.  Get recommendations from your service provide on who’s equipment he recommends and works with regularly.

7. Stay away from no-name, white box, chop shop computer systems – stick with name brands you can trust and rely upon for service and warrantees.

8. Purchase 4hr turn around support warrantees on critical systems like servers and next business day service on workstations that are less critical.

9. Don’t waste your time shopping around for the lowest priced “deal” from the local warehouse store or on-line.  These deals are usually either bare bones garbage systems that are already outdated and priced so low as to grab your attention or they are pre-configured home systems.  Either way, they are not built with your specific needs in mind and you’ll end up with a hodge-podge of systems and software and operating systems on your network.  I know this may sound self serving but you should really pay your IT provider who knows your environment to configure your systems to order from one selected vendor with a configuration that uses a business class operating system.

10. Make sure your IT infrastructure includes a backup system, a recovery plan and you have tested recovering at least one critical file within the last six months.  I’ll be talking a little bit more about this in a future post but suffice to say, if your company’s data is valuable to you and you haven’t test restored at least one critical file in the last six months, you need to call us/your current service provider right now!

Overall keep this one point in mind.  Hardware is the cheapest component in your infrastructure.  It is the labor of installing and maintaining and using the hardware that costs, so you want to provide the best equipment and the right tools for the right job for your employees and stack the cards in your vendor’s favor so he isn’t struggling to keep old and mismatched systems running. 

Don’t skimp and be prepared with a plan.

If you would like more information about how Productive Computing can help you with putting together a plan for your IT infrastructure, please contact us using the information listed here or you can visit us on the web at http://www.productivecomputing.com

Author: Categories: Information Technology Tags:

PCI Offers New Technology Protection Services

June 15th, 2009

San Diego, CA – June 15, 2009 – Productive Computing, Inc., a Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, is proud to announce the availability of three important technology protection services – Spam Filtering, Virus Protection and Backup Monitoring.

 

Spam Filtering

One of the most costly annoyances that an employee has to deal with is the regular ritual of deleting unsolicited advertisement messages. More than an annoyance, it takes time and in business, time costs money.

 

Many FileMaker Pro solutions use 3rd party plug-ins to directly received e-mail messages into their database for archival or correspondence histories. Our Spam Filtering service filters out Spam and Viruses at the mail server level which allows unwanted e-mail messages to be intercepted before reaching the customer’s mail hosting provider Ð and long before they can get archived into a database.

 

Virus Protection

Protecting your computers from virus infiltration is another critical preventative measure we can help you with. Many companies implement virus protection on their computers individually but the most efficient and cost effective way to deploy and monitor virus protection is from a networked server where monitoring and maintenance is centrally managed.

 

Backup Monitoring

A backup system that isn’t monitored, isn’t a backup system. A backup system is no different than any other computer system in that it will report errors and fail. If you aren’t monitoring your backup system at least weekly or preferably daily, then you will never know whether or not your backup system is even running.

 

FileMaker Server 10 does an excellent job telling you when a backup runs or fails but our inexpensive backup monitoring service technicians will professionally monitor these notifications and take the appropriate actions to fix problems as they occur. This service provides that extra peace of mind for business owners who want to know that their FileMaker Pro data backups are not only being closely watched for failures but are being professionally configured and coordinated under an overall disaster recovery strategy.

 

Could You Do With A Little Protection?

If you are interested in any of the services listed above please click here http://www.productivecomputing.com/itservices to complete our IT Service Request form to receive a 30 Day FREE trial.

 

About Productive Computing, Inc.

Since 1996, Productive computing, Inc. has created efficiency through automation by helping its clients increase their productivity via custom database development, plug-ins and packaged solutions as well as providing IT support and web development. Its staff of certified FileMaker developers can assist its customers with creating or customizing a complete technology solution to fit their specific business needs.

 

For More Information:

Productive Computing, Inc.

950 Boardwalk, Suite 205

San Marcos, CA 92078

(760) 510-1200

info@productivecomputing.com

 

Author: Categories: Information Technology Tags:

Social Media for Non Technical Leaders

May 22nd, 2009

While attending local Chamber of Commerce meetings here in North County San Diego (Carlsbad), we have come across several business owners who often ask us exactly what social media is and more specifically, what software or mechanisms do they need to use to build a social media presence.

We wanted to create a video that better explains social media at a “grass roots” level for the non technical person to understand.  You could call it “Social Media for Dummies” if you want but it’s for all those folks that keenly aware of the social media buzz but know very little of the mechanics and software used to create and deliver social media. You have to crawl before you walk and walk before you can run. This video starts off at the crawl stage. The video is in two parts below.

Part 1

Part 2

Video Transcript (Part 1)

So what is social media? At its most basic sense, social media is a shift in how people discover, read, and share news, information and content.

Traditional media is one way. Using mediums like newspaper TV and traditional static webpages, communication flow from the organization to prospects and customers in one direction.

So what makes social media different? Social media is a fusion of sociology and technology. Transforming monologue one to many into dialogue many to many.

So social media allows for two-way conversations. Using mediums like Facebook, forums blogs and even Twitter. organizations can communicate back and forth with customers and prospects.

Social media craze: social media has become extremely popular because it allows people to connect in the online world to form business and personal relationships.

Recently in the news USA Today reports that Wells Fargo and Bank of America have begun to “tweet” using Twitter with their customers about everything from bank fees to product features. Discover Financial, American Express and Citigroup have launched Facebook or MySpace pages. Some banks even put marketing videos and YouTube.

1:50: Today’s most popular social media technologies

Let’s take a look at each one and depth. First, the blog.

What is a blog? A blog is a (contraction of the term weblog) is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.

The state look at a typical blog structure.

Remember, a blog is nothing more than a webpage. It generally has a title or purpose somewhere near the top. A logo perhaps, links to other websites, and traditionally, a blog has an archive list of articles. Clicking on the article will bring up a blog post in detail. In addition to the post itself, blogs typically provide a place where the user can type comments related to that post.

Probably the most popular blog engines right now are Blogger and WordPress. So here’s a sample style blog that we just looked at. In this example let’s pretend we’re using WordPress as our blog engine. This is simple style one. And with a few clicks of the button, you can change the background or position of the elements on the blog. Here’s yet another style. The blog software makes it easy for people to adjust the blog style and settings without actually programming.

Common reasons for blog. It’s a great way to document your success stories, you technical expertise, new developments, and communicate to your customers or subscribers. You can provide your own editorial articles (which is a popular use for blogging). And most blog software comes in comes complete with built-in visitor statistics.

To create a blog account, simply sign up with an entity that provide you with a blog such as WordPress, decide on the template format, provide some basic information, provide a few starting articles – the blog can be hosted directly with WordPress or can be downloaded and used on your own Web server. It takes approximately one to four hours to set up a blog.

4:18: Twitter: What is Twitter?

It is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read other users updates known as “Tweets”. “Tweets” are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length which are displayed on the user’s profile page and delivered to other users who have subscribed to them known as “followers”. Let’s take a look at an example Twitter page.

Here we have the CNN Twitter page. It consists of the username, a custom picture or logo, and then the updates below also known as tweets. They provide a place for you to put your website, a short bio, and it keeps track of statistics such as followers, who you’re following, followers, and updates. Here’s a button to find other people on Twitter and you can find by keywords that are related to the subject you are either an expert at or interested in.

Here’s another example Twitter page. You can put your own background here and here’s where you type your updates – simply type the update and click update and you’ll begin communicating on you Twitter page.

So common reasons for a Twitter account: It provides instant communication to followers between your blog postings. You can provide small tidbits of information on applicable subject matter, some brief announcements, it allows you to communicate to people you don’t know but have a common interest with. It helps drive traffic to your own internal site and/or blog. And you can ask questions to your followers as well as ask questions to the people you follow.

So to create a twitter account, so please sign up with a twitter.com, create a short file and upload a picture, start treating, and it takes approximately 15 minutes to set up.

Video Transcript (Part 2)

Facebook: What is Facebook?
Facebook is a website whereby you can create your own web “page”. Facebook pages are generally for individuals. Facebook “groups” are generally for organizations.
So let’s take a look at some Facebook attributes. You have a logo, a buyout, contact information, the fans, and other links down here. In this area you have the wall, which is a general bulletin board of things that you are posting and other information such as photos, you can put videos here, notes, and those tabs are customizable. Here is where you would type an update and share that update with your fans.

Another nice thing about to facebook group page is that it provides group statistics.

So common reasons for a facebook group account: provides an online group gathering place, Great way to announce upcoming events. You can bring prospects and customers together under one roof. Share thoughts, techniques, advice with the group And provide richer content such as pictures and videos. It also allows for status updates like Twitter. And another nice feature is the built in visitor statistics.

So to create a group they spoke account: you would sign up with facebook, submit the necessary info, pictures and video. It takes approximately 1-2 hours for the initial setup.

1:38: YouTube. What is YouTube?
YouTube is a video sharing website where users can upload, view and share video clips. Users can set up their own “channel” for all their videos.

So let’s take a look at a typical YouTube channel page. You have of a channel title, channel stats, a connection area, and featured videos. Like the Facebook group account, the YouTube channel has something called “insight” which gives you statistics on the visitors that come watch your videos.

So common reasons for a YouTube channel: Video has preferential treatment with the search engines. YouTube is the most popular video website. It’s one of the easiest ways to distribute a video. The videos are hosted using Google’s bandwidth and scalability. Videos can be embedded on a website or linked to via a link. The video controls are automatically added to the video. And again, the built-in visitor statistics is a handy feature to have.

So to create a YouTube Channel: you sign up with YouTube.com. Upload videos and enter a description and tags for the video. Producing the actual video is harder than distributing it. Producing video does require extra equipment for video such as a digital camera. It takes approximately 1-2 hours to set up a video channel.

3:12: Forum. What is a Forum?
A form is a public meeting place for open discussion of various topics. Online, a forum may also be referred to as a bulletin board or discussion area.

Here we have an example forum. Generally it consists of a title, categories, subcategories, number of posts, and if I were to click here on this subcategory, I would be directed to a page with more details that would show me a page with topics.
So a forum is a great way to organize a block of information on a single page and organize it by category subcategory, and topic. Here you’ll see information on the last post and who created the post.

Common reasons for form. A forum is generally a question and answer format so it’s great for tech support. Many people often have the same question. So you can answer a question once and have many people view that same question without having to answer each one through e-mail. It’s a way for people to help each other rather than questions being handled by the forum provider. By having a forum, you essentially have 24-hour tech support.

So the creative forum, simply sign-up with a forum provider such a simplemachines.org, create your categories, subcategories and topics. Forums can be hosted on your own Web site or hosted by a third party. It takes approximately 2-4 hours to set them up.

4:50: Putting it all together.
If you want to get higher rankings in Google and create more surface area on the Internet, this is one way to do it.

Let’s say you have your website and you’ve created a blog and a forum. Now you create a new article. You post the article on your blog. Post any supporting videos for that blog on YouTube, and then announce the blog article through your Twitter and Facebook accounts. If you have a forum, and a question is answered that a blog article might address, you can create a link from the forum back to the blog article.

We hope that this video has helped you understand a little bit more about what social media is And some of the tools used in social media today.

Author: Categories: Marketing Tags:

Productive Computing, Inc. Introduces New Tools for Customers to Stay Connected.

May 13th, 2009

San Diego, CA – May 13, 2009 – Productive Computing, Inc., a Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, is proud to announce the availability of a public blog, a technical support forum, a corporate FaceBook account and several Twitter accounts to help customers and the business community stay connected.

 

The blog will cover business editorials as well as technical articles and will serve as a launching point for community discussions on both.  Users can review the new blog site at:

 

http://www.productivecomputing.com/blog

 

The support forum will provide a public area where customers can research and post their support questions and where Productive Computing, Inc. staff members can post resolutions that the entire community can benefit from reading.  Users can review the new technical support forum at:

 

http://www.productivecomputing.com/forum

 

The FaceBook account will provide a “fan” page that will allow users who are comfortable using FaceBook to follow corporate updates and product releases.  Members of FaceBook can become a fan of Productive Computing, Inc. by searching for “Productive Computing, Inc.” once they are logged in.

 

Three Twitter accounts have been established to allow customers and fans to follow the CEO, CFO and the official corporate news outlet.

 

Users can follow the company’s CEO and founder, Marc Larochelle at:

http://twitter.com/MarcLarochelle

 

Users can follow the company’s CFO and cofounder, Keith Larochelle at:

http://twitter.com/KeithLarochelle

 

Users can follow the company’s news broadcasts at:

http://twitter.com/ProdComp

 

“We are very excited to be able to provide and explore these new communication channels for our customers, the FileMaker Pro community and the business community at large.  Our ability to share our experiences and expertise in business and technology is magnified tremendously by using these social media tools and we are looking forward to connecting with and opening dialogs with all our customers.” – CFO, Keith Larochelle

 

About Productive Computing, Inc.

Since 1996, Productive computing, Inc. has created efficiency through automation by helping its clients increase their productivity via custom database development, plug-ins and packaged solutions as well as providing IT support and web development. Its staff of certified FileMaker developers can assist its customers with creating or customizing a complete technology solution to fit their specific business needs.

 

For more information:

Productive Computing, Inc.

950 Boardwalk, Suite 205

San Marcos, CA  92078

(760) 510-1200

info@productivecomputing.com

 

 

Author: Categories: Marketing Tags: