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Easy Tasks to Maintain Your Windows PC

June 21st, 2010

Occasionally clients ask us what they can do to maintain their computer with the intention to speed it up and keep it clean and running well. Although there is a laundry list of things that could and should be done to keep your computer clean and running well, here are three items that can at least get you started and that don’t require a technical expert to configure or adopt..

Disk Defragmentation

Disk defragmentation is the process of resorting all the data on a hard drive so that it starts at the beginning of the disk and is ordered in a sequential nature. Defragmentation is of vital importance to maintaining a properly running computer.

Below is a video demonstrating this on Windows 7. The same concept applies if you’re using Windows XP although the exact location may vary slightly.

http://www.productivecomputing.com/blog/video_library/EasyThingsYouCanDo/defrag.flv

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Disk Cleanup

The idea of disk cleanup is to remove files that you don’t need anymore. The main purpose is to save hard drive disk space. Although the act of removing files from your computer may not result in noticeable speed increases, it’s always a good idea to only store what you need and remove what you don’t. The more files you have on the computer the more your computer has to keep track of those files in its internal index.

Below is a video demonstrating this on Windows 7. The same concept applies if you’re using Windows XP although the exact location may vary slightly.

http://www.productivecomputing.com/blog/video_library/EasyThingsYouCanDo/Disk Cleanup.flv

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System Updates

System updates are important releases that either patch or enhance the operating system and related operating system components. The updates are generally comprised of recommended and optional updates.

Although few could argue that installing a required security update is important, many are perplexed by exactly how and when these updates take place. Some would argue that the updates happen at the most inconvenient times like when you’re trying to shut your computer down on your way out to appointment and you get the screen that says “Installing updates 1 of… please do not shut down your computer…” To avoid this from happening, you can schedule when your system to automatically downloads and performs updates.

Below is a video demonstrating this on Windows 7. The same concept applies if you’re using Windows XP although the exact location may vary slightly.

http://www.productivecomputing.com/blog/video_library/EasyThingsYouCanDo/Install Updates.flv

Author: Categories: Information Technology Tags:

5 Reasons to Connect FileMaker to Outlook

November 25th, 2009

5 Reasons to Connect FileMaker to Outlook

 

FileMaker to OutlookPeople sometimes ask us the question:  “Why would I want to connect FileMaker to Outlook?”  My reply is, “Why wouldn’t you?”

 

Microsoft Outlook is a popular e-mail application that comes complete with contacts, appointments and tasks. It has been around for years and its proliferation in the Windows-based work environment is as wide as it is deep. For companies that use FileMaker and also use Outlook, it may seem painfully obvious that connecting the two could yield some newfound benefits. Let’s explore some of these connection points between these two important applications.

 

First of all, let’s identify what Outlook does well. Outlook does a fine job handling incoming and outgoing e-mail.  Outlook is a mature e-mail application that comes complete with all the bells and whistles. Its feature set has been defined and refined over the years and it is the standard by which other e-mail applications are judged.

 

Outlook also efficiently handles your basic task list and your appointment schedule.  Outlook comes complete with its own address book to store contacts.  Because Outlook has been around for years and is so widely used, nearly every third-party application that has anything to do with managing contacts and calendars readily connects to it.

 

In today’s world, having data in your mobile device is more important than ever. Outlook really shines in this area as I can’t think of a modern mobile PDA/phone made that Outlook cannot synchronize to either through MS Exchange or a third party sync tool.  When you think about the significance of Outlook’s uncanny ability to connect to just about everything, you soon realize that once your data is in Outlook, it can be distributed and synced most anywhere.

 

Ok, so now enter FileMaker.  FileMaker (for those of you who already own and use it, consider this a review) is undoubtedly the most powerful data management database system ever created that doesn’t require traditional computer programming skills to create and use.  Once you use FileMaker, you’ll most likely have your organization’s data stored there – after all, it is a database.  Now let’s talk about the 5 reasons why you should connect FileMaker to Outlook.

Reason #1: Populate Outlook with FileMaker address book data

Probably the most common reason people want to connect FileMaker to Outlook is because they store contacts in FileMaker, yet they send e-mail using Outlook. Outlook has its own address book and here in lies the problem. When you generate a new e-mail from Outlook it’s going to use Outlook’s address book to gather the e-mail address.  Why not create a routine that copies your FileMaker address data into Outlook on a periodic basis. This way you don’t have to worry about having two address books, you can safely e-mail people directly out of Outlook knowing full well that your data originally came from FileMaker.   People commonly create a routine in FileMaker that copies contact data either daily or weekly as a “one-way push” from FileMaker to Outlook.

http%3A%2F%2Fwww.productivecomputing.com%2Fvideo%2Fvideo_library%2FOutlook_Manipulator%2FOutlook_Contacts_Push.flv

 

Reason #2: Populate FileMaker with Outlook address book data

So let’s assume you are new to FileMaker and you have all your contact address data already in Outlook.  In this case it would be helpful to create a routine that gathers Outlook data to create corresponding records in FileMaker. In addition you may want that periodic routine to perform a query on the Outlook data gathering only those records modified after a certain date or associated with a specific category.

http%3A%2F%2Fwww.productivecomputing.com%2Fvideo%2Fvideo_library%2FOutlook_Manipulator%2FOutlook_Pull_Contacts_Calendar_Tasks_and_Notes.flv

Reason #3: Calendar Management

For years people have used FileMaker as a mechanism to store calendar schedule data.  For instance, if you had a meeting and planning database system built in FileMaker, it’s safe to say that you have several hundred events listed in FileMaker all with numerous details and attributes.

 

Often times it would be helpful to have a system by which you could be reminded of these events or better still, take your events with you in your mobile device. Since Outlook already has a built-in reminder system and ability to move events to mobile device, it makes good sense to get that data into Outlook and leverage what Outlook does best. You can create a routine that periodically moves events from FileMaker to Outlook giving you additional options to be reminded, to have your data in a mobile device, or to view your data in one of the many built-in Outlook views such as month view, day view, week view, category list etc.

http%3A%2F%2Fwww.productivecomputing.com%2Fvideo%2Fvideo_library%2FOutlook_Manipulator%2FOutlook_Calendar_Task_Notes_Push.flv

Reason #4: Task Management

As in reason three above, tasks are often times entered in FileMaker just like events are.  And just like with events, Outlook can also remind you of upcoming tasks as well as move those tasks to your mobile device. If you have a list of tasks in FileMaker complete with priority, category, and notes, you can move all that data from FileMaker to  Outlook. 


 Reason #5: Create a company-wide Email Archive in FileMaker

Organizations often have their contacts in a centralized FileMaker database. And of course, it makes sense that these contacts would include an e-mail address. A common situation is that each member of the organization sends and receives e-mail each from their own Outlook client. you could say that the e-mail is “trapped” and each individual’s  “inbox” and/or  “sent items” folder.

http%3A%2F%2Fwww.productivecomputing.com%2Fvideo%2Fvideo_library%2FOutlook_Manipulator%2FOutlook_Email.flv

You can create a routine that imports email directly from Outlook into FileMaker. Once the e-mail is imported, you simply match each e-mail with the e-mail address for each FileMaker contact. What you get in the end is a complete organization wide e-mail history attached to each FileMaker contact. Imagine going to John Smith’s record for example and viewing all e-mail sent and/or received to and from anyone in the organization.

Getting Started 3Get Started: Moving data between FileMaker and Outlook can be accomplished with the use of the Outlook Manipulator plug-in by Productive Computing (Outlook Manipulator). Programing the routines mentioned in this article from scratch using the Outlook Manipulator requires intermediate FileMaker skills in the areas of scripting, calculations and relationships. Included in the download package of the plug-in is an unlocked FileMaker demo with all the routines listed above clearly demonstrated.

Entourage: Send as HTML with Default Signature

October 31st, 2009

The following video will demonstrate how to set Entourage to create new Emails formatted as HTML and use an HTML formatted signature.  As simple as this concept may seem, configuring Entourage to invoke this specific behavior may not be readily apparent or intuitive.  It turns out that there are three separate areas that need to be configured in Entourage none of which are on the same screen or in the same area of the settings.

Oh and for those of you who are using Entourage and FileMaker simultaneously, you may want to review the Entourage Manipulator plug-in which gives you the ability to transfer data between contacts, calendars, and tasks-not to mention the ability to push and pull e-mail. To find out more visit: Entourage Manipulator

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Transcript

Hi, in this video we’re going to talk about Entourage 2008, create HTML e-mails with an HTML formatted signature.

There are three requirements to make this happen. First, you need to create a formatted signature. You do that under the tools menu. Second, you want to adjust account settings to include a signature on new e-mails. That’s done in the accounts area. And finally, you set e-mails to be a HTML formatted by default. That’s done under the preferences area.

Here we have Microsoft Entourage 2008. First we’ll click under tools and go to signatures. I’ve created a new signature here called “My Work Signature”.  If we take a closer look at that we can see we have John Smith at ABC company. And this toggles between HTML or plaint ext. I set it to HTML and even made the company name bold.

Second, under the Entourage menu, you want to click “account settings”. Make sure you’re at the options area and choose the default signature to be in this case “My Work Signature” (or whatever signature you have set up).. The default is typically “none. “So make sure you have that set to the signature you’ve just created.

And then finally, also under the entourage menu, you want to select preferences. Here you want to click the compose area and make sure that your mail format is set to HTML.

Now, let’s test it. File/new/mail message.  I’ve got a new mail message here and you can see it’s ready for HTML formatting. And “John Smith” (the signature) has been entered automatically.

Author: Categories: Software Tips 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:

Turn Off “related videos” When Embedding from YouTube

May 13th, 2009

While embedding our YouTube videos in our WordPress blog posts located at www.thebizbros.com/blog and www.productivecomputing.com/blog we discovered an interesting nuance (A.K.A. “feature”). If you use the default “embed” code provided by YouTube, the video will be displayed with the ability for the user to preview “related” videos based on the tags you used when you setup your video on YouTube. This means that while the user is looking at YOUR video, they can peruse other videos not at all related to your video. Although there are times where this might be desirable, there are times where it isn’t.  The following article will show you how to remove the related videos for embedded YouTube videos.

The issue is this:

1) The user has the ability to click the button at the bottom right button (see fig 1).

related-youtube-videos1

fig 1

The user can then select the “related videos” button (see fig 2)

related-youtube-videos2

fig 2

related-videos

fig 3

Then finally, a list of related videos (not necessarily your videos, but anyone’s videos) appears (see fig 3).

The solution to REMOVE related videos is this:
You need to add the “related video” parameter and set it to “0.” So, when you add the embed code from YouTube, add the “&rel=0” at the end of the video name (see the red text in the following example – fig 4):

embed-code

fig 4

When complete, the related videos will no longer appear (see fig 5).

fig 5

fig 5

I found the tip buried deep on the YouTube help website: http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?hlrm=en-in&answer=75301

Author: Categories: Software Tips Tags: