Small Business Technology Blog

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do You Have A Social Media Policy?

Do You Have A Social Media Policy?
If you haven't got around to creating a Social Media Policy for your employees, or, if you haven't reviewed your policy for more than a year, then now would be a good time to start.

Social media is growing by leaps and bounds. You can't ignore it, you can't control it, and you can't just let it happen naturally. Social media is getting more complex, pervasive, and not giving your employees direction could end up being dangerous to your brand.

Your employees are your best brand advocates. Make it easy and non-threatening for them to talk about your business on the social web by providing simple guidelines for them to follow. You can find an excellent directory of well-known company social media and blogging policies HERE on You can benchmark your own polices against what you find in order to develop, or enhance, your own business' guidelines.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Bullet Adhere to the Code of Business Conduct and the policies set out in your employee manuals. Now is a good time to review policies with your employees.
  2. Bullet Employees are responsible for their actions. Anything an employee posts that can potentially tarnish the Company's image will ultimately be their responsibility. Use common sense, social media is not where and employee should deal with complaints.
  3. Bullet Let subject matter experts respond to negative posts. If you see something online, point it out to the person or group in charge of social media. (You do have someone in charge of social media, don't you?)
  4. Bullet Be conscious when mixing your business and personal lives. Everything posted on line is public, and you can't take it back.
  5. Bullet All employees who wish to officially represent your company online should be certified and trained.
  6. Bullet Fully disclose your affiliation with your company, be transparent.
  7. Bullet When in doubt, do not post
  8. Bullet Give credit where credit is due and don't violate other's rights, copyrights and trademarks
  9. Bullet Remember that your local posts have global significance, what you post today will be seen by other cultures on the other side of the world tomorrow. Different cultures have different ideas of what is acceptable behaviour.
  10. Bullet Know that the Internet is permanent. Once information is published online it is essentially part of a global permanent record, even if you delete it. The Internet "remembers" everything.
Article thanks to Kim Fletcher

Intel Envisions the Rise of an entirely new kind of laptop, the Ultrabook

Ultrabooks are the future of mobile computing, according to Intel. The company says thin, lightweight notebook computers from manufacturers like Apple, Lenovo and Acer are on the way, and they're going to take a huge chunk of the laptop market. An Ultrabook, according to Intel, features long battery life, a thin profile, no optical drive and, of course, specially designed Intel processors.

Intel has unveiled details of its plans for the breed of super-thin, rapid-on, tablet-like laptops which it calls "Ultrabooks".

Intel UltraBookThe computer chip giant expects Ultrabooks to take over 40 percent of the laptop market within six to nine months. The new super-thin laptops run on Intel's Sandy Bridge processor. The models will include a new edition of the Apple MacBook Air, the Samsung Series 9, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 and the Asus UX21. Ultrabooks will begin shipping as early as this year's holiday season.

New features, which could launch Ultrabooks as a new subset of PCs, include Smart Connect and Rapid Start Ideal features for a small business owner or manager.

Smart Connect, according to Intel, is a new form of updating which can reload sites such as Twitter and Facebook and will function even if the computer is in sleep mode.

Rapid Start takes advantage of on-board flash memory to speed up start-up times to mere seconds. Even if the computer is off and without a battery, it will still recall the programs and data which were open when it was turned off.

Ultrabooks share an extremely thin profile, variants of these instant-on technologies, long battery life, lack of an optical drive and use of the Sandy Bridge processor, according to Intel. The company projects Ultrabooks will sell for under $1,000.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Should you really trust the cloud with your valuable data?

Cloud computing is the latest hottest thing right now, but should you really trust Microsoft, Google, Amazon, or anyone else with your valuable data?

Okay, I am declaring it right here, right now: 2011 is the Year of the Cloud. This buzz word “cloud” is wielded by just about any company that sells a server or an operating system these days. But what exactly are they talking about? What does “cloud” mean and should you trust companies like Microsoft, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon, et al when they say the can save you money and keep your data safe?

Cloud ComputingMy approach to technology has always been if something comes along that makes sense and makes my clients lives easier, I will encourage them to adopt it as soon as it is practical. However, the people selling cloud computing and other web-based services have yet to completely convince me the merits of their products and services outweigh the liabilities. Sure the cost savings is there, and the obvious practical benefits are clear, but the risks, oh the risks.

I understand the potential of these services and I am willing to entertain the idea, but there are so many questions unanswered, or worse, glossed over. Just in the past month or so we’ve seen examples of security breakdowns and outages that were very costly for companies that had placed their critical functions in the cloud. (Google, Amazon)

Earlier this week, Deb Shinder discussed Microsoft Azure, which is the company’s “cloud services” platform. The striking thing about the post, and the discussion that followed it, was the confounding way Microsoft has presented the product. Much of the discussion reflected confusion, uncertainty, and mistrust about security, up time, and benefits. And these are my fellow IT professionals expressing those concerns! No as IT professionals we’re usually pretty excited about “new and shiny” so for us to resist there really must be a legitimate worry.

Is it any wonder that a survey by The Small Business Authority shows that 71% of small business owners had never heard of cloud computing? For those of us in information technology that number may seem staggering since we have been talking about the general concept for years, but it shows that the companies selling cloud services have not been communicating effectively with my clients, the small businesses.

All of this uncertainty needs to be addressed before we get the mass adoption of cloud computing services that many are predicting. And the first uncertainty that needs to be addressed is trust.
So I am asking them, Should we trust cloud computing services? Can I be assured that your data is safe in these systems? And, I’d be happy to share my opinion with you as an IT professional, and tell you, can you (should you) trust these services?

If you’re looking for more details on cloud computing services I’d be happy to discuss.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mac's Getting Viruses? I'm afraid so.

For years, Mac owners have watched Windows users struggle with viruses and spyware. Mac owners laughed at Windows users. Apple even released commercials to this effect. You see, Macs were free from the malware, spyware and viruses that have plagued Windows users.

Note that I used past tense. Those days are over. If you own a Mac, you are now being targeted by the online miscreants and criminals.

There is no magical feature that makes Macs impervious to online threats.

Malware developers have traditionally targeted Windows purely for economic reasons. Windows is the dominant operating system. There are more people using Windows than Macs. A virus written for Windows will affect more machines, which means greater profits. With such a small Market share, it didn't make sense to develop viruses for a computer less than 10% of the world was using.

Back in 2008, a researcher made an interesting prediction: Attackers would target the Mac when its market share reached 16 percent. The Mac's market share is currently around 16 percent in the United States and Canada. Lo and behold, we're starting to see malware targeting Macs.

Criminals have released a kit for creating malware that targets Mac OS X. MacDefender, MacProtector and MacSecurity are the first programs to come out of this kit. But they certainly won't be the last.

In fact, just yesterday, the MacDefender creators released a variant called MacGuard.

MacDefender is the first example of rogueware to appear on a Mac. Rogueware, or scareware, is fake antivirus that claims your computer is infected. These programs have been affecting Windows users for years.

Clicking a malicious Web link can infect your machine with MacDefender. Hackers like using links that look like popular news stories. They also push infected images in Google's Image Search.

Clicking a bad link or photo takes you to a malicious website. Clicking any link on the site downloads MacDefender.

There are some ways you can stay safe. Only click on links from legitimate websites. If you find yourself on a suspicious-looking site, leave without clicking anything.

Apple's Mac computers are a brilliant blend of style and function. If you're in the market for a new computer, definitely consider one. But keep me mind the advantage that Mac's used to have over PC's of being virus and spyware free no longer applies, it's a fair playing field now. See Last weeks article for more great Mac Vs. PC in the business world discussion.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are Mac's for Business Too?

A small business client recently asked: Are macs a cost-effective way to go for my business needs? What are the pros and cons?

My Answer has been pretty consistent for years, even as new Macs hit the market and new Operating Systems offer ever more features our go to answer is still the old reliable, it depends.

To a great extent, it depends on the size and type of business, but I can give you a few general pros and cons.

Macs typically cost more upfront, but can save in maintenance costs because they aren’t susceptible to most malicious software attacks like viruses and spyware.

Like Windows PCs, they work with well with Microsoft Office Applications and even Microsoft Exchange email server. They run most standard productivity software, like Microsoft Office, and can access most online business sites and services.

The one caveat is that there aren't any "mainstream" accounting applications for Mac, sure there are some, but you won't find the big guys (the ones your BookKeeper and Accountant already know).

There are also many niche business applications that are written for Windows only that you just can't get on a Mac.

You can overcome this by running Windows on a Mac for the occasional program. But if your business would best operate using software that is only for Windows, you’d likely be better off with a Windows machine.

In Short the Mac does have it's advantages especially for those in the graphic arts, music arts or video production fields, but even the best graphic designers I know, still have  a PC sitting in a corner somewhere for email and accounting.

Next Week, What about iPad for business?