Nov 18, 2009

Cyber Wars?

According to an article on McAfee is warning nations against politically motivated cyber attacks. They have been predicting this threat for awhile now and just recently have seen the threats become real. Not worried about it since your not into politics? According to McAfee private and public business will not fare well and may get caught in the crossfire. It's more important than ever now to protect your information and technology against threats. Here is the original article. McAfee Outlines Growing Cyber Warfare Threat.

Nov 3, 2009

Microsoft Axes Accounting Software

Microsoft announced recently that they will no longer be offering their suite of accounting software packages. Bummer for those who stuck with it for these past few years. I myself had switched over from Quickbooks to Small Business Accounting a few years ago. You see, we are a big Microsoft supporter and were excited they had added that element to the Microsoft software family. Unfortunately, it wasn't very easy to use, they kept changing it, and I eventually got so frustrated that I switched back to Quickbooks. I guess others may have had the same experience now that I hear Microsoft will no longer be offering the software. Too bad, really - it would be nice to go with Microsoft on this one but when it came down to it, I had to have a good program to do the books for my business on. Quickbooks fit the ticket. Now I am using Quickbooks Online which I love because I can travel and still access my accounting records. I can easily give my accountant a log in as well and she can work on our taxes. I just pay a monthly fee and we get a 3 user license. If you are interested ... check it out! Quickbooks Online Article Microsoft Info

Oct 29, 2009

Should I backup online?

Until recently I kept all my files on an external hard drive. So far, so good. Last year my laptop just stopped working. One day it was fine and the next day kapowee it won't boot up. Lost everything. Luckily I had copied a lot of my files onto Microsoft's SkyDrive so that was great. But I hadn't been diligent about keeping it updated and unfortunately lost a lot of information. After that happened I decided to stop using my local hard drive and use an external hard drive. I was feeling pretty smart about that when one day my husband brought up the idea that ... even an external hard drive can fail. Duh, why didn't that occur to me? Now I'm using Microsoft Mesh. It's a free service and I'll admit it doesn't give you much space and isn't real easy to figure out but at least I could recover my files if I needed to.

What's your story? Are you backing up your files? According to a recent article by Kim Komando
  • 43% of people lose irreplaceable files every year
  • Only about 3 out of 100 stolen laptops are recovered
  • Thousands of files are lost every year to disasters like fires, floods, etc.
  • Up to 13% of hard drives crash in their first year
Kim recommends an online service called Carbonite. We like using MozyPro for our business and may be switching for our personal use as well. But what ever you decide to use - just use something. Don't find yourself in that 43% category with no backup of your data. Here are a few ideas:
  • Online backups (like Carbonite, or MozyPro)
  • Online backups for free - Microsoft's SkyDrive, or Mesh
  • Copy files to an external hard drive
  • Copy files to a CD or DVD
One further note I would add is to be sure and backup your email and contact information. That is one of the things I lost when my laptop crashed - I still don't have all the contacts back - and there were lots of emails that I was keeping and now can't recover.

Oct 27, 2009

Windows 7 Upgrade Confusion

Read an article from ComputerWorld by Gregg Keizer about some confusion with upgrading to Windows 7. Evidently a company called Digital River was offering discounted downloadable upgrades to students for Windows Version 7. 100's of customers complained that they were receiving an error message when trying to install the upgrade. According to Digital River and Microsoft, the problem occurs when students purchased a 64 bit version of Windows 7 to download onto their 32 bit existing versions of either Vista or Windows XP. I have to admit, I probably would make the same mistake and was curious about the difference between 32 bit and 64 bit. So I typed into Google (gotta love that!) "Difference Between 32 bit and 64 bit Windows". Amazingly an article from Microsoft popped up and I read all about it! Evidently some 32 bit computers are capable of running 64 bit but some are not able to. I decided to check out my own laptop. Here were the instructions: Open your Control Panel (by clicking first on the Start button) and go into Systems Maintenance. Click on Performance Information and Tools. View and Print Details. In the System Section you can read if you are running 32 or 64 bit and whether your computer even has the capability of running 64 bit. Be sure to check it out before downloading your upgrade. Digital River mentioned they would give refunds so if you ran into this problem read the article - it gives instructions on how to get that refund.

Sep 29, 2009

Cyber Insurance

Great article by Kim Komando. She lives in Phoenix AZ and is fabulous at teaching about computers and technology! Enjoy the article and you may also want to visit her website or facebook account!

proAktivR Basics

proAktivR Questions and Answers
the low cost solution to a healthy computer network

What exactly does proAktivR do?
Our computer services are very simple. We remotely watch over and verify accuracy in 4 basic areas: (1) Data Backup and Recovery (2) Virus’ (3) Software Patches and Updates (4) User Activity & Compliance with corporate IT policies. Your company’s future may be in jeopardy if you are exposed in even one of these areas. Don’t risk it! Call in the watchdogs!

I think we already do backups. Why would I need to sign up for your Backup Monitoring & Verification?
Many companies THINK they have a backup routine. Many companies, unfortunately, have to learn the hard way that their “backups” haven’t been running properly, if at all. We analyze your data and configurations, set you up on a good backup routine either on equipment at your office, or online through our affiliation with Mozypro. We then monitor your backups EVERY DAY to make sure they have executed properly and backed up all data as required. We communicate with your contact person EVERY DAY letting them know the status of the backup and if there have been any problems that need to be addressed.

Why would I need your Virus Protection Monitoring & Verification? I already have virus software.
Virus protection in this day and age is of vital importance – second only to data backups. In a corporate network environment simply running standard virus software is not enough. Similar to our Backup Service, our Virus Service will monitor your systems in detail on a weekly basis. We make sure your anti-virus software is running and up to date with the most recent virus definitions. We analyze activity on your systems and watch for possible risks and threats. We communicate with you weekly with status updates and advice on action items.

What is the Software Patches and Updates Monitoring & Verification?
Software Patches and Updates go hand in hand with keeping an eye on virus activity. Unfortunately, there are people out there looking for opportunities to send viruses your way and compromise your corporate information. These “hackers” can find “holes” in software and voila, your information has been compromised. Microsoft software holds the biggest lure for such hackers. Fortunately Microsoft knows this and is dedicated to providing free patches and updates for their customers. We keep you current on these updates and patches and communicate the status weekly.

Why would I need you to Monitor & Verify User Compliance with our corporate IT policies?
Using software that is installed on workstations at your place of business, we track and monitor activity, including internet sites visited, email sent and received, files opened from emails, anything that happens on the computers will be tracked. You decide the level of monitoring based on your corporate policies. Why do you need this? Keeping your systems and information safe and running well means making sure employees are not compromising your company through risky behavior. It’s not about looking over employees shoulders; it’s about protecting your business and your information. It’s about figuring out why one particular computer seems to crash constantly - costing you time and money with your IT person. We monitor this activity, keep you abreast to what’s going on, and give you our expert advice on how to make corrections and educate your employees.

Contact Us
For more information on proAktiv R services please contact Kristin Qualls at or call 425-788-1181. Even if you are not interested in our services right now – I welcome your friendship! Maybe you can find some helpful tidbits from posts I’ve made or maybe we just enjoy chatting back and forth once in awhile! (my blog)

Are Employee's Compromising your Data?

You've heard it before - company get's attacked by virus - data integrity is compromised. How does it happen? Why are companies so vulnerable to these attacks? According to an article by Information Week Business Technology, the problem may lie with your employees.

"The findings from a global security study on data leakage revealed that the data loss resulting from employee behavior poses a much more extensive threat than many IT professionals believe."

"In the hands of uninformed, careless, or disgruntled employees, every device that accesses the network or stores data is a potential risk to intellectual property or sensitive customer data. Magnifying this problem is a disconnect between the beliefs of IT professionals and the realities of the current security environment for countless businesses. The new findings show that "insider threats" have the potential to cause greater financial losses than attacks that originate outside the company.

As a company committed to helping neutralize these threats, we have long encouraged our customers to write policies and procedures in respect to internet and email usage. The best and most safe route is to restrict usage of the internet to those websites that your IT professional has already researched and deemed "safe". Set employees up without administrator access rights such as installing programs and downloading files. Restrict email attachments - possibly setting up an alternative way for receiving them. There are many options you can discuss with your IT professional. Of course, in reality, you can't restrict employees to the extent that their hands are tied and they can't even do their jobs and use the awesome technology at their disposal to assist and empower them to do their work. It's a fine balance and one that each company has to explore for themselves - deciding what level of risk they are comfortable with.

Maybe you have questions about security risks and how vulnerable your company is ... maybe you know that you have some level of protection but are worried about if it's even working properly - do you even have your data backed up - are you sure?

Call or email us - we'd love to visit with you and suggest ideas you can do yourself - or we have services to address these areas if that is what you feel will work for you company. What ever you do, don't ignore IT Security - it could mean the difference between being in business and going out of business.

Aug 31, 2009

Leading by Serving

In my bathroom is a nice basket where I toss all of my magazines, including the Costco Connection. When I have time to myself (tee hee) I pick up one of those magazines and scan through them. TheAugust 2009 Costco Connection sat in that basket for quite a few weeks - getting superceeded by my Ladies Home Journal (nice reading material!).

Recently I was cleaning out the basket and the front of that Costco Connection caught my eye. Ralph Broetje was pictured front and center. Broetje "First Fruits" Orchards is solid to its core was the title. Ahhh - that was the orchard where my daughter, Ashley, did a mission trip with our church, Washington Cathedral, one fall to pick apples and donate them to needy families. Little did I know that what I was about to read would start me on a path - a wonderful path - an exciting path - a path of Servant Leadership inspired by 2 of the most sincere and humble people I've had the pleasure of speaking with.

I wondered if Ralph Broetje would even be willing to talk with me on the phone. I was a bit nervous to call after reading about his $80 million apple and cherry orchard business. Tentatively, I dialed Broetje Orchards but my nervousness was quickly disarmed with Ralph's quiet and gentle demeanor. In the background I could hear employees calling across the room to each other about the business at hand ... farming apples! I pictured a large barnlike structure with an old fashioned dialing phone in the corner that when ringing, got picked up by who ever happened to walk by. Someday I'd like to visit that office and see what it looks like in person!

Ralph deferred me to his wife, Cheryl, not because he didn't have time to talk with me, but because in his mind she was the one with the passion for the leadership model their business followed - servant leadership. He even gave me her cell phone number! I'm still on my inspirational high from my conversation with Cheryl. No wonder the Lord is blessing their business - their business model is one that my husband, Chester, and I are excited to learn more about and to build our business on the same foundation.

Hopefully you will click on the link above and read the Costco article for yourself if you haven't already. I pray you are as inspired as I am about what you will read. Maybe we can change the world - the way Jesus instructed us to - one person at a time - and with great passion and conviction.

Aug 28, 2009

Follow Up on Cheap Textbooks

Ok so when I wrote my previous entry, I hadn't actually finalized my purchase. That was a mistake! By the time I tried to pay for my cheap textbooks - the ones I needed were SOLD OUT! Words of wisdom for all of us in the future ... don't wait until the last minute to get your college textbooks! (or anything else for that matter!) Next semester as soon as Ashley is registered for classes and knows the books she'll need, you can bet we'll be on or pricing things out and getting the best deal we can find. AND then we'll get FREE SHIPPING!! Gotta like that. Oh well - we can always learn from our mistakes - right!

Aug 27, 2009

Cheap College Books

Chester and I are so proud of our daughter, Ashley, who is just starting her Sophomore year at Vanguard University - which is our alma mater! Classes started yesterday and today she has a list of all the (expensive!) textbooks she will need. Yikes! It looks like it will be a whopper with around $600 this semester. Ashley had mentioned to me something about ordering textbooks for cheaper online and also that there is somewhere that actually RENTS textbooks! Cool idea! I gfawed it at first - we always bought our books at the bookstore! It's easy and fast. But after hearing the gauging my pocketbook was going to take I decided to do some research. I was astonished to find that she could get her textbooks for about 1/2 the price online and with free shipping if we could wait for UPS ground. If we needed them next day .... only a $19.99 charge and 2nd day less than that. And this is for up to about 5 books - no matter what they weigh. Now that sounds like a great deal to me! We're in a rush and needing them asap - but with the $19.99 shipping charge, we're still saving $100's of dollars. Renting looks even cheaper - I might have her do that next semester if we plan ahead better. Here are the links to websites I found that do cheaper books and book rentals. Enjoy saving money!

PS: This is a picture of my pretty college girl!

Aug 20, 2009

Nothing like Family!

I was so excited to get to stop in Oregon to spend time with my mom's side of the family. Our family spent June and July in Washington (our home away from home!) and we were on our trek back to Phoenix area. My aunt Dee had been hospitalized for a stroke and Aunt JoAnn had just had knee replacement surgery. It was so fun to get to see them - I love my aunts, uncle's - I happen to think I have the best ones in the world! Anyway that evening we stayed at Aunt Bev and Uncle Elroy's place in Canby OR. What hospitality! Here is a picture of most of us (my cousin Lori is taking the picture).

Aug 19, 2009

Facebook: Personal vs Business Account

Some of you are friends of mine on facebook (what great friends I have - you are all awesome!) and are also fans of the page for my business, proAktivR. (thank you again!) It's been frustrating to edit the business page because somehow it always tied back to my personal page. Some friends I made through business contacts on facebook sent me a link to an article about that problem.
I was hoping there was a setting I had wrong or something. Unfortunatly as the article states "However if you already have a personal account, keep in mind that you cannot create a separate business account.". Bummer! Thank you Cynthia Richards for the information. Now I don't have to keep wondering what's wrong with my facebook settings.

Welcome to my blog!

I decided a couple of days ago to begin the adventure of creating my own blog. Thank goodness the wonderful guy who rocks my world (aka my husband, Chester!) is an IT guru and was willing to help me with the frustrating issues of figuring out how to edit code! I love using blogger but the templates they provide lets just say don't do anything for me. I knew there was a way to create a cool appealing looking blog but not being a programmer I was hoping that there were some free templates out there that would work in blogger. It took some searching, let me tell you! I think I finally found somthing I like (at least this is what I'm going to try) and it was from this website: Maybe you are considering blogging and want your site to look a little more snazzy (old word!) than the boring ones blogger offers. Unfortunately by switching to using html instead of bloggers standard templates, not everything works as it should. Let's just say you are going to need to excercise some patience while getting your blog just the way you want it. So bear with me as I edit mine and figure out the world of blogging. I'll post information as I come across it on how to fix any problems I come across. I look forward to getting to know you and hope you will find my blog fun and interesting!