Category Archives: Remote Access

Collaboration is Key in Virtual Communications

I am always looking for good web-based collaboration tools as I constantly need to collaborate virtually. That’s how I found Onehub, this tool is not simply for collaboration, it can be used as an FTP replacement. With a free account you can only set up one hub, where you basically can  upload 1 GB of files. Your hub can include calendars as well in addition to discussion boards, task lists, images, RSS feeds and video.

Paid accounts are available too – from $19 per month up to $249 per month. Details are available on the Onehub website.

Central Desktop  is a great collaboration and project management platform.  It has too much power for a solopreneur, but is great for teams and workgroups to share information and communicate with other members.  Paid accounts start from $25 per month.

Working Anywhere and Everywhere

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Digital nomad is not a title or a profession. It represents the mindset and lifestyle of people who have chosen or allowed to break free from a cubicle and make their living working anywhere and everywhere.  New technologies enable us to do so. One of my recurring nightmares now and then is a dream where I find myself working in a gray cubicle covered
with yellow sticky notes,  eight pairs of eyes looking at me all at once. This dream motivates me to get back on my laptop and learn new software in addition to developing  multitude of other new skills. Wikipedia states that “traditional nomadic behavior is increasingly rare in industrialized countries.”  Times are changing partially driven by corporate economies
of scale and societal circumstances.  I see this trend from cubicle to home based work expand in the future across national economies both in developed and emerging markets.

Read more about Digital Nomads on digitalnomads.com.

Protecting Laptop Data

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If your small business is among the many that have remote workers, you could be sending sensitive customer data, credit card or Social Security numbers out the door.

Half of all organizations reported a laptop or other mobile device stolen last year. Each customer record may cost a company $150 more in legal fees, notification costs, and other expenses, according to Inc. magazine.

For about $9.95 – $149 per month, you can give a laptop its own GPS system. Free trial is available. If MyLaptop GPS is installed on your laptop, the stolen machine will report its location as soon as the thief connects to the Internet.

Encrypting the hard drive will keep thieves from using the data. The Enterprise edition of the Windows Vista has an encryption feature built into it. Other systems cost from $50 to $120 per computer.

Without encryption or a GPS system, your only course of action is just to report the theft to police. Always keep laptop serial numbers in a handy place. If the unit goes to a repair shop, the police will be notified.

Treat your laptop like a wallet. You wouldn’t leave your wallet in the car or laying around where someone could pick it up.

Going Virtual – Going Green

Several factors are affecting company travel plans this year.

Energy costs. Because of high fuel prices, airline tickets cost more. Also add the cost of lost time, the hassles of going through airport security lines and late arrivals.

All of these situations are making air travel a less attractive choice. The days of flying cross country for a one-hour meeting are disappearing. Increasingly, virtual meetings are replacing travel. Researchers for Hewlett Packard and Cisco Systems, who studied body reactions, say that co-workers in different states and countries experience the same chemical responses to virtual meetings as to face-to-face meetings.

Travel by car for distances of 200 miles is less of a hassle than flying. But it takes more time than conference calls. And it costs more, 58.5 cents a mile.

It’s not just time and money. The frequent-flyer lifestyle can wreak havoc on a person’s health and family life. People who are involved in virtual meetings seem to be pleased with the reduction of air travel.

Here are some web-based options for webinars and online meetings:

GoTo Meeting

Webex

ConferenceCall.com

Skype

Consulting firm BDO Seidman, quoted in Business Week, says it’s not just about travel reduction, it’s also about increasing communication. They say meeting more frequently and in short bursts of time is more productive than flying off to long meetings.

Most companies are considering the green factor in all of their decisions. Flying and driving less will reduce a company’s carbon footprint.


The Best Free Software in 2008 – PC Magazine Review

My “love affair” with computers, gadgets and all kinds of computer software started about 12 years ago.  Marketers would say that I am an “early adopter.” My address is definitely passed on from one marketer to another and someone keeps eye on my purchases as I get offers in the mail all the time.  I recently realized that there is no need to purchase the latest software if you can get it for free.

People at PC Magazine did the math: If you bought popular applications instead of checking out their free counter-parts, at the manufacturers’ list prices you’d give up $5,183 and change! Why spend money when you can get what you need for free? But beware, sometimes you do get what you don’t pay for.

Find out what is on the list of the Best Free Software. Read more

 

Are You Using Dimdim?

I am always looking for new and cool web-based tools that I could introduce to my customers and utilize myself. That’s how I found Dimdim when it was still in alpha testing.

With Dimdim you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with no download required for attendees. Dimdim’s mission is to enable web collaboration for everyone.

After 3 rounds of beta testing, Dimdim is less buggy and open for business. Anyone can sign up and hold their own web meetings using Dimdim. Customers who prefer to customize or brand their own web meetings, can purchase Dimdim Pro for only $99 per year. Institutions in need of larger meetings can purchase Dimdim Enterprise for less than half the cost of existing solutions.

Unlike other web conference products, Dimdim does not require users to install software on their computers to attend web meetings. Users can initiate or join meetings with couple of clicks. Basic version of Dimdim is available for free. Dimdim is an open source software, therefore users can extend and improve it freely. It already integrates with CRM and LMS software and can be extended. Dimdim is available in hosted as well as onsite configurations and easily customizable. It is easy to set up….took me 10 minutes or less.

Cons: You may hear some echo during the meeting. Does not let users record their web meetings.

Virtual Businesses Can Be “Green”

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Virtual Businesses may have local clients, but they mostly conduct their business virtually. Their employees don’t have to travel the road more than couple times a week, therefore contributing to less traffic and air pollution. Remote workers working from home don’t take up parking spaces and therefore they don’t add stress to other people.

Did you know that a typical office worker uses 12,000 sheets of paper annually? Virtual businesses and remote workers conduct business via phone, email, online workspaces and webinars. They could print on both sides of paper whenever possible.

Sunshine is free – virtual workers can do most of their work during daylight hours and use Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent lights.

They can set their thermostats to 65 degrees during working hours. No need to discuss the “right” temperature with several co-workers.

They can turn computers and printers off after work and use sleepmode features.

They can work in their PJs, do less laundry and use less make up – better for them and for the environment!

Free Online Office in Less Than A Day

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If you are like many other busy small business owners, you wear many hats and may easily find yourself in a situation where you need to leave your primary place of business during a busy season to attend a weeklong  training in another state or help out a sick family member who lives 500 miles away.  Small business owners often don’t have corporate Intranets set up, but they need access to certain files from remote locations in order to finish a project or collaborate with other team members while travelling. It can be complicated to call the home office and stay on top of all projects. It is often a hassle to keep sending large files back and forth.  What alternatives do busy professionals have?

Anyone can set up a free online workspace for ongoing projects at BlueTie . You can customize your workplace, upload your files, contacts, calendar, and create to-do lists. A free account lets you have 20 users and as an administrator you can grant access and deny access if necessary.  And you can access your online workspace from any place with an Internet connection. Don’t like the interface of BlueTie?  There are other free options out there, such as Basecamp.  With a free account, you can work on one project and give access to team members and clients. Customization is limited, but isn’t a workspace mainly for getting the job done?  Still not satisfied?   Try Wrike.  It is built with the understanding that e-mail collaboration is crucial to completion of most projects.  All members of your team get e-mail notifications about changes posted to your projects.  I like their Timeline feature, it is easy to track the progress of any project.  In need of more features?  You can test drive WebEx Office by signing up for a free trial.  

 HyperOffice offers a Pay As You Go option that you can choose after your free trial expires. HyperOffice may also be an affordable alternative to Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint. 

Google Docs (formerly Google Docs & Spreadsheets) makes it possible for several users to view or edit a presentation online. Users can create a presentation from scratch or import and share an existing PowerPoint presentation. During a web-based presentation, participants have a chat room to the right side of the presentation slides. Participants need a Google account. Streaming audio or video and screen sharing features are not available.

Some of us like to travel everywhere with our laptops and wireless cards.  It is possible to send and receive faxes as well as make phone calls from your laptop when you sign up for RingCentral. A free trial is available.

Need to schedule a conference call with several participants while travelling? Try freeconference.com. Their “Web-Scheduled Standard” and “Reservationless Standard” conferencing services are free, but Toll-Free (800) Dial-in Numbers are not provided.  Most callers should expect to dial a long distance number to access conference bridges therefore should expect to pay domestic long distance rates charged by each caller’s long distance carrier for the length of time they are on the call.

Don’t let technology enslave you, let it free you up to work wherever you would like.

Best Assistant Ever – BlackBerry.

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My customers ask often – how are you able to respond to my emails so quickly?

How do you stay on top of things?  After all, you have your business, 3 children and plenty of errands to run.  The answer is simple – my BlackBerry.  I can use the idle time while waiting in line or sitting at the airport to respond to my emails.  I can browse the Internet and get answers to any questions that require research.  I may be cooking my breakfast, but I know when my customer needs my help because my BlackBerry is buzzing.    I can also log on to my online office and get the files I need to forward to my customer.   I can even do some bookkeeping online with my BlackBerry.    And my nimble assistant Ms. BlackBerry does not ask for much: I pay my monthly bill to Verizon Wireless and keep her charged, that’s all.  No office space, paychecks or training required.