Archive for July, 2010


What is Office 2010 Starter Edition?

People who have been using computers since Windows 98 or 2000 will remember the Microsoft Works suite that came bundled with Dell and HP computers. This was a low functioning productivity suite forword processing, budget planning, calendar scheduling, as an alternative to the full Office suites. You can still buy Microsoft Works but the new Office 2010 offering for entry level productivity is the Office 2010 Starter Edition.

There are major differences between Works and Starter Edition. Firstly, if your PC OEM manufacturer installs this for you on your new computer, it’s free.  Unlike Works you can not purchase the Starter pack in retail stores or after you purchase a new PC. It is only available through Microsoft authorized system builders. The free edition involves putting up with a small Microsoft advertisement in the lower right hand corner of the application.

The Starter Edition installation also includes the full installation of any of the new Office 2010 suites, such as Home & Student (no Outlook), Home & Office (no Publisher), and Office professional. You can easily activate the Office suite you need by buying a licence card from your OEM system builder.

As you expect from an entry level Office suite there are limitations such as no macro support or integration of add-ins. With Starter Edition you can create, open and edit Office documents and spreadsheets without spending a cent until you’re ready to purchase the full program.


How to buy a domain name in Australia

To start a website for your small business you need to register a domain that is either directly matched to your registered business name or company name, or is associated with your business. The rules according to the registration authority in Australia are:

  1. an exact match, acronym or abbreviation of your company, business, trading, association or statutory body name or words in your registered trade mark;
  2. or be closely and substantially connected to you because the domain refers to a product you manufacture or sell or a service you provide.

Costs to register a new domain name vary widely and domain name registrars in Australia vary widely in their pricing. Melbourne IT is one of the oldest registrars and hosts and at the time of writing the cost to register a domain is $140 for 2 years. Another domain registrar, Netregistry, is also a veteran in domain registration and their costs for a domain is $49 for 2 years at the time of writing.  Smartyhost is an Australian domain registrar and host owned now by MYOB. Their registration cost is $19.98 for 2 years.

If you’re looking for cheap domain hosting there are pitfalls to look out for with some registrars such as additional monthly fees to park your domain, or, when you choose a host and need to divert the domain name servers to your new host you may be charged an ongoing fee.

If you are going to optimize your new website for search engines such as Google you should ensure your domain is hosted on servers on the Australian continent. Many aussie hosting providers simply buy space on a server in Texas for example and resell the space. To achieve good positions on Google in the future your domain extension and hosting server should be regional. Choose your host carefully, ensure they are not listed on blacklists. Some cheap hosting providers may be hosting your website on a server with the same IP address (non dedicated) as spammers or unscrupulous websites.

Many of our clients are hosted with Smartyhost and we give them a high score for technical support that is local and user friendly, good hosting prices and services, and reasonable domain name registration fees.


Free Folder Syncronization or backup tool

Free software for syncronization of folders

Free file & folder syncronization software

The most popular file and folder syncronization toolof the last few years is Microsoft’s SyncToy to syncronize folders between two separate locations, such as laptop or thumb drive, and the desktop computer. This is a good tooland works well,but we came across another free tool that does a similar job that is very easy to use, has a clean minimalist interface,and shows file and folder activity during the syncronization process.

It comes from Budosoft, a company situated in Malaysia, who offer other free software which requires no registration or trial offers. This includes a free (non-trial) version of its software for internet cafes with a range of features such as billing, expenditure, lock screen, and password management.  Tested in Windows 7 and services 11 PC’s and an admin computer.


Adding images to the Windows 7 Desktop Background Slide Show

The Windows 7 desktop background slide show is available through the Personalize menu (right click desktop – personalize) and is available for a geographic region. In Australia you will find only the Australian slide show background. There are others for various regions including USA and South Africa.

It is possible to add images to your regions folder and extend the slide show, even add your own holiday photos to the regional folder or create a new folder.

To access the folders and add your images:

  1. Choose start >R
  2. In the run box type “C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT” without the quotes
  3. Choose your destination folder
  4. Prepare your images in a photo editing program to be 1920X1200 with a DPI of 96 if possible.
  5. Remember when taking pictures to set your camera’s resolution for the optimum screen resolution.

You can also type “change desktop background” in the Windows 7 search box and browse for the photos you want to use. I find method above a lot easier to use.


How to build a successful online business

Winning Business Online Training links

Thinking about starting an online business? The Australian government has enlisted the Sunrise Show’s Koshi to present a series of tutorial modules called Winning Business Online.

The current government also intends to streamline the process of registering business names on a national level, rather than a state by state basis with separate fees being paid to each state government. This will make it easier for online business to protect their business name.

Another incentive for small business is the instant write off for assets up to $5000. This would be a good opportunity to buy your new computer or other equipment you need.

There’s more information about government incentives, tax breaks for smallbusiness and programs here.. We found government websites on these subjects to be outdated or hard to locate.


Does your Small business need an ipad?

Like many others I had some reservations about the ipad. There’s no USB port, no DVD draw, no direct external monitor support (vga adaptors are available). The keyboard is not designed for speed typing and your other hand might be busy keeping the device steady on your lap. It can only open one app at a time so you can forget about multitasking. How useful can it be for small business?

To answer my insatiable curiousity about a new type of mobile device people queue up to buy I went online to Apple and bought the ipad wifi model. I’ve now had the benefit of using the ipad for a couple of weeks and the ipad and I have become inseparable.

First, a couple of things out of the way. The ipad is not a computer, a notebook or a netbook – it’s an ipad? Unlike a notebook or a netbook the creativity of the every growing libraries of apps for ipad is surprising. The ipad is optimized for one app at a time because this is an ipad not a computer. Do you really need to read an online newspaper and prepare a spreadsheet at the same time? Once we get over that we don’t need to ask why it doesn’t have USB ports or a DVD drawer. If you want to read a PDF or view photos you can transfer them with itunes, download them off the internet, or use some of the apps below to transfer folders and files over the air.

Some apps come standard on the ipad. I use my ipad to view my daily calendar from Outlook. I get an appointment prompt just like Outlook and a big viewing area compared to my mobile phone calendar and contacts. Like most laptop computers in small, micro and home based business, the ipad will be used for more than business. This is a great chance to catch up on reading anything from online newspapers and your favourite magazines, to business PDF’s and charts. The ipad high resolution LED backlit display makes this an excellent reader and viewer and this is among my primary reasons for owning one.

There are over 150,000 apps, free and paid. Many are entertainment based but there are many categories with apps being added to all the time.

Some apps I found of interest to small business are:

Billings Touch
This is an app based on the Apple Design award winning time and tracking application. For mobile users you can track and create billing data on the go.

iwork for Ipad
well known to Mac users, iwork creates presentations, documents and spreadsheets. If you travel this could be very useful.

DropBox for ipad – Free
Install Dropbox on your desktop PC(s), then install the ipad Dropbox app. This is a great tool for sharing documents for example. Just drop the document (Word, PDF, etc) into the Dropbox folder on your Windows based desktop PC and it appear in an instant on your ipad.

Jumsoft Money – Free
The app for personal finances, reminders to pay your bills on time, and password protected.

Documents to go
DocsToGo lets you create, edit and view Word 2007, 2010, Excel, Powerpoint, iwork and other files in Dropbox (Premium edition) or direct viewing, creating and editing.


How to resolve Windows 7 backup errors

Windows 7 has great new backup fatures in the business (professional) editions such as the ability to backup an image of the drive, in addition to file level backup. The best practice scenario is to do both, but with image backup turned off (unchecked) in the file level scheduled backup settings. Manually creating a backup image helps to mitigate risks associated with imaging an unstable system.

The new Win7 library feature allows you to add drives or folders to the library index but we have seen problems causing backup errors with reparse point folders added to the library. Win7 does not traverse reparse points but nodes added to the library as an added library item will be traversed. If you experience backup failed errors look in the library list in Windows Explorer and uncheck any added folders or external drives to test if this is causing the issue.

We have also seen backup errors occur when a folder container with music or videos is stored outside of the system designated music or video folder, such as on the desktop.