Category Archives: office

How To Beat Writing Fatigue

Being in the computer business, I find myself in a lot of meetings with network maps being drawn on the white board that I would love to capture effortlessly to my computer for later retrieval.

What I usually do is hand draw everything and then try to go back to a program like Visio to capture them on my computer.

Not anymore. With ScanR I can just photograph the white board, email them, and have them send me back a PDF of the drawing. Excellent.

I have not yet tried their free service but I hear it is great.

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Microsoft Releases Accounting Software – for Free?

Microsoft has released an Office Accounting 2007 package that is free, no strings attached. Sure, now that I just purchased QuickBooks!

I just downloaded it (333MB) and am installing. Estimates that it will take approximately 997 MB of space (Microsoft alright!) I am installing on a Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2 machine with 512 MB of RAM (virtual machine in vmware).

The install went smoothly, and it places itself into the Office Start Menu group. It allows you to import data from Microsoft Money and QuickBooks which was a nice surprise.

It also offers PayPal and Equifax integration along with ADP Payroll integration which seems very mature for a new product. I have not tested these plug-ins, but did install them and plan to investigate further.

The user interface is very Office 2007 themed and seems responsive although install and the creation of the company data file seemed to take a while. Once up and running everything was smooth and was a cozy reminder of QuickBooks during most operations. Everything allowed me to create customers, products, services, etc on the fly.

When I tried to email an invoice it told me it requires MS Word which tells me that it attaches the invoice as a Word document rather than a PDF which is not my first choice… It does not look like it allows attachments as PDF’s as an option.

I could not figure out how to receive payment via paypal, but that may be due to the fact that I do not have Word installed. I will have to try this out later on a different machine, along with trying to import my QuickBooks file.

It looks to have pretty decent integration with eBay for selling online as well. I did not test these features but did notice their presence.

For a first version product, I would say Microsoft hit the mark and provided way more than I expected out of a free product.

Will I switch from QuickBooks? I will have to give it the 10 day test, more likely a month test with something like this, and find out.

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Great Article on Securing SSH

Not like SSH wasn’t pretty secure before, due to encryption, but every step towards security helps.

I took note to his advice on moving SSH to a non-standard port:

Security though obscurity you scoff? Perhaps. But it’s easy, causes no inconvenience, and might just reduce the number of attacks. That sounds like a winner to me.

I have also noticed that moving SSH to a non-standard port decreasing the amount of hacking activity against SSH by almost 100%.

Also it adds another benefit: the ability to expose SSH on multiple machines that may be natted on a network and sharing a single external IP such as on a cable or dsl modem. Just give each machine you want to expose a different non-standard port to run SSH on. I would recommend a VPN over exposing SSH to the Internet, but in some cases it may be necessary as some remote locations may not allow VPN traffic leaving their networks…

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How to Create an Internet Kiosk in 10 Easy Steps

If you own a business and would like to provide an “Internet Cafe” to your customers but do not want to worry about them trashing your computer or snooping around your network, there are some things you can do to create a more secure environment. This secure internet browsing mode is commonly referred to as an Internet Kiosk.

Disclaimer: This article is designed to cover most angles but does not claim to be conclusive in securing Windows (if there is such a thing!) What we will essentially do is create an automatically updating machine that grants the user access only to Internet Explorer by changing the shell value for that user and
by applying local Group Policy to restrict the user.

Steps to Create Your Own Internet Kiosk:

  1. Install Windows XP (Pro is recommended, but not required. This how-to is based on Pro edition) on a NTFS formatted hard drive.
  2. Install all updates via windowsupdate.microsoft.com and set automatic updates to install automatically in the future on a daily basis
  3. Install your anti virus software of choice and set it to auto update
  4. Install Flash, Macromedia, and acrobat reader if you so choose
  5. create a new user account with admin privileges, set the password to never expire and to not be able to be changed by the user
  6. log in with that user and make the following registry change:
    • click Start -> Run and type regedit and click OK
    • Once the Registry Editor opens, click File and Export… to create a backup of the registry (in case something goes wrong). Place this in the C:\Windows folder.
    • Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\Current
      Version\Winlogon
    • Create a new string value called shell (Edit -> New -> String Value)
    • in the Data portion of this new string value type: C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IEXPLORE.EXE
  7. Close the Registry Editor and logout of Windows
  8. Log back in with your original admin account
  9. Reduce the privileges of the new user account you created earlier to user
  10. Click Start -> Run -> Type “mmc” without the quotes. On the File menu click “Add/Remove Snap-in“. Click Add.
    Under Available Stand-alone Snap-ins, click Group Policy, and then click Add. This will open the Group Policy editor where you can limit user rights to your heart’s content. I would recommend dis-allowing control panel access, Active Desktop options, Task Manager from Ctrl-Alt-Del, and other obvious settings to ensure that your users can only
    do what you say.

There you have it, 10 easy steps to create your own secure Internet
Kiosk. When your newly created restricted user logs in, they will only get an Internet Explorer window. No start menu or desktop options.

If you have any suggestions on how to improve the security of your newly installed Internet Kiosk, please share them with our readers.

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Block Office Chatter

Introducting ChatterBlocker,
the PC software that uses digital audio technology to mask
the sound of speech and other distractions so you
can
stay focused in any environment.

ChatterBlocker does not use noise-cancellation.
Instead it masks unwanted conversations with a soothing blend
of
nature sounds, music and background chatter.

The goal is to render speech less intelligible,
because intelligible speech is often the most distracting
sound in
the workplace.

Sad that it has gotten this bad in corporate America, but here is the link none the less…

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Guy Browning offers 20 top tips for surviving life in the workplace

This list is great!

11 Don’t drink under the influence of work

Alcohol and
business don’t mix, which is why you really shouldn’t bother with work
if you like a drink. Excessive drinking at work makes you feel
sociable, light-headed and confident. In other words, it makes you feel
like you work in sales. The day after, when you feel like the whole
world is a grim, head-crushing torture chamber, it makes you feel like
you work in IT. It’s an absolute rule that the person who earns least
in the office will be the first person to buy a round after work. He is
also the first to get absolutely hammered and say something so
offensive that he gets passed over for a raise for the seventh year
running.

Full List Here

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The most annoying co-worker personalities

This was sent to me this morning and I thought it was worthy to post…
The Borrower: Always takes things from your desk, and you never see them again.
The Groper: Always finds a way to put a hand on your shoulder or brush against you in meetings.
The Close-talker: If she gets any closer you’d be making out.
The Fridge Foe: Better put a lock on that sandwich or else he’ll steal it.
The Loud Speaker: Hasn’t mastered the “inside voice” and talks so loud on the phone that you, too, have to live through all his personal and professional drama.
The Slow Joe: Takes an hour to explain something that should take a minute.
The Nervous Nelly: Twists her hair into dreadlocks, incessantly clicks her pen or constantly cracks her knuckles.
The Pontificator: Nothing’s a simple “yes” or “no.”
The Noisemaker: Whistling, tapping, sneezing, humming or performing some awful impression at all times.
The Copier:
Don’t worry about missing the latest hip catchphrase, you’ll hear it every time you run into him, usually accompanied by the ol’ finger pistols.
The Fish: Gives you the hated Limp Handshake and has the personality to match.
The Know It All: Puts in his 2 cents in all conversations, even if he’s not involved. And he’s always right, or else he’ll keep talking. So, just agree with him.
The Whiner: Spends the entire shift complainingβ€”about co-workers, workload, management, corporate policies. Yet he’s worked there for years and probably will never, ever leave.
The Gossip: Always fanning the flames of office politics. Usually knows the latest scoopβ€”but if not, makes it up
The Breather: Has perpetual bad breath and needs a mint especially after 2 p.m.
The Pre-Divorcee:
Has daily fights on phone, for all to hear, about the messy divorce he or she is going through.
The Smacker: Eats lunch at desk, very loudly.
Mr. TMI: Has no filter. I’m sorry you and your boyfriend had a fight, but I don’t need to hear you tell your best friend on the phone about it in detail.
The B.S.er: Is master of the universe, loudly announces huge plansβ€”but gets nothing done.
The Looker: Male who rarely looks female colleagues in the eye, preferring instead the region south of the chin.
The Pseudo-Boss: You’re not the boss, and you have no power, so don’t tell me what to do.
The Cat Lady: The old woman with the terrible smoker’s cough whose desk is littered with tacky, plastic crap from area casinos. She spends her day telling stories about her magical cats and her gifted grandchildren.
The Y’ Know Girl: She talks incessantly about nothing but yet is very opinionated, punctuating every aggravating phrase with “Y’Know?”
The Echo: Thinks your idea sounds better coming out of her mouth. Known for stretching out brainstorming sessions to ridiculous lengths.
The Snitch: Loves to creep into your boss’ office to point out who is not changing the toner, isn’t pulling his weight on projects, or taking one too many personal calls.
The Yakker: Takes a seat in your cubicle and tells you about family vacations, new pets, latest diets and the details of his past six dentist appointments.
The Sniffer: The girl (or guy) with too much perfume/cologne.
The Forwarder: No matter how funny the e-mail joke from your brother-in-law is, no one in the office really cares.