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Archive for the ‘Small Business Computing’ Category

If time runs away from you, this may me an interesting read!

Welcome to my Blog, it has been a while since posting and let me just say not because I have been on holidays or taking it easy, quite the contrary. This has been a very busy and tiring time with lots of physical activity included. This is a very personal story this time and not a personal opinion but an experience I wanted to share.

Do you feel like time is passing you by? Do you feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day, days in a weeks or weeks in a month? well I know how you feel. Busy people tend to fit lot’s into their days, weeks and moths. Have you ever asked yourself why that is, well I have, and recently more than ever. So i thought I would share some personal stuff with you in this blog about how much I have fitted in recently.

Ask yourself these questions and then please read on for my personal story:

  • Do you plan your day before it begins, plan your month before it begins?
  • Do you allow constant disruptions that take your focus away from the priorities?
  • The day before you go on holidays, reflect on how much you get done and how focused you are?
  • What could you do better to create more time in your day or even week?

School holidays are generally a time for me to recharge and put on a different hat. My Youngest daughter being the only child left at home generally goes to visit with her Dad and his family in Darwin. I miss her a lot but I use this time to recharge, work longer hours to catch up and also have some creative thinking time. Unfortunately this has not gone to plan these holidays, let me explain why.

In December I moved my business from one location to another, now if anyone has done an office fit-out before I am sure you can empathise with me and even more so as I am not very smart in the electrical area of an office. So doing an electrical plan was where I was at breaking point. When I say breaking point I mean my boundaries and comfort zone were certainly pushed. I can coordinate many different things and I enjoyed creating a new learning environment for Mantra Training & developments staff and students. Well…….5 weeks later and a few melt downs we are in the office and very happy with the outcome.

I am also very proud to say that my Son has been recovering in a Rehabilitation hospital since the beginning of January and has been doing exceptionally well. Driving to Sydney every week (6 hour round trip) to support him may be tiring, but again I find a way to use this to my advantage and University in the car has been very re energising for business and me personally. For the past 4 weeks I have been watching my Son recover from 8 years of addiction and self destruction. It has been an amazing process and he is working very hard to recover and get life on track. He has been supported by Nurses, Counselors and Support Workers who have helped him in his path to recovery. I am so very proud of him; this has not been an easy journey by any means.

For the past three months I have been training hard for my trip to Kokoda in April and I am getting fitter and stronger every week. As the time draws closer I start to wonder if I have done enough but with 11 weeks to go I am sure I still have time to up the anti and make sure I am fit and ready to take on the trek. I look forward to the history, meeting the people in the villages and the physical challenge. I can’t wait to experience the different cultures and see the scenery of the Kokoda Trek.

So I think when we have to step up we can achieve greatness and fit a lot into a short period of time. Now I don’t think for a minute it is sustainable long term without reflection and rejuvenation, and very achievable in the short term. I think it is soon time for a 4 day long weekend kayaking with my Daughter to slow down and recharge my batteries and brain.

Remember this…… we all have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year, how we use those hours, days, months and years will provide varying levels of results. if you want to learn some great strategies for time management then contact Mantra Training & Development

Till next time, remember to set your Goals for 2012, Donna

Goal setting with purpose will be the next blog

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Author, Donna Moulds www.mantratraining.edu.au

When we are children we dream about becoming a superhero, or travelling the world, or in my case a hairdresser, untill I had no dolls with hair. As adults…do you think we forget to dream? Dreams are what give us hope and passion, they can drive us to do something that logic would tell us can not be done!

If you have a teenager who is yet to decide what they want to try before they grow up, here is an inspirational story they may want to read………

Chris Warren came to Mantra Training & Development in September 2009 for work experience, which is something that Mantra Training & Development have been part of with various schools and industry bodies for about 3 years now. Taking young adults from a school environment and putting them in a real work environment, that is not only supportive it is also empowering and teaches self motivation. This has also been a wonderful opportunity for the team at Mantra Training & Development.

We have a number of businesses that provide support and mentoring for our team including those involved our work experience program.
One of the Mentors that Chris has had an opportunity to work with and learn from has been john Phillips. He has played a very supportive role with both of Chris’s qualifications.

As the CEO and also a Trainer/Assessor, Chris instantly caught my eye with his “go get it” type attitude to technology and websites. At the time I thought I had a good website and was pretty proud of the fact that I could update it. Now……. don’t get me wrong we had to rein him in on a number of occasions as he wants to do things today without looking at the security or other access and usability implications. In fact I remember him launching our new website way to early and he didn’t take a back up. But we had a plan B and more importantly Chris was able to learn the importance of planning and being patient.

Once we launched the new website early in 2010 I realised how primitive my old site was. Not even 12 months later Chris has created yet a better website allowing for growth and advances in technology and has learned a greater degree of skills in many areas allowing for a much better product. He has also learned how to work better with people not just technology and has grown into a wonderful young man with some great skills that have now seen him accepted into a Bachelor of Software Engineering.

Chris has completed a Certificate III in Information Technology and will have completed his Certificate IV in Information Technology (Web design) by December 2010 and this will then take him into the University by February 2011.

In August this year Chris was also invited to the Google office in Sydney where he was able to contribute some of his skills and learn what it would be like to work with such an elite group of IT experts. He was blown away by the experience and I also think it ignited his motivation and drive to really go for what he wanted in a career path as well as was he is truly passionate about.

Here is what Chris had to say:

From College to University

At the end of college I always knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how I would go about doing it this involved having a Gap Year and then going to University to complete my Bachelors of Software Engineering then I discovered Mantra Training & Development, after initially completing work experience I was offered a
job by the CEO Donna, to Continue working on the Mantra Training & Development website and be part of the team.

An entire year later, the experiences I have had, the people I’ve met, the skills I’ve gained, and the qualifications I have achieved are amazing to say the least. To put this into perspective I never anticipated what I have achieved in such a short time. It truly has been a incredible year and a great start to both my personal and professional life. I now look forward to an exciting future as I know anything is possible.

And now through gaining my Qualifications under an Australian Apprenticeship with Mantra Training & Development as my RTO and Employer, I created the pathway and had the
support to enter University, my new Journey will begin in February 2011.

I will continue working with Mantra Training & Development and assist them in growing their organisation into one of the best RTO’s in the ACT, and help Mantra generate more pathways and opportunities for it’s students, staff, and trainees.

I would like to give special thanks to two people, Donna & John. You have parted with some tremendous skills that I will use for through out University and the rest of my life. Thank you….

Now this is a great message about keeping dreams alive.

Donna Moulds

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Andrew Newnham

Andrew Newnham

By Andrew Newnham (Fruition Data)

When a piece of software insists that it must be used in a certain way, which contradicts your business practises, a workaround is often used as a quick fix to trick the software into thinking that it is still being used properly.

For example a piece of software may insist postal or zip codes must be 5 numbers long, yet here in Australia we only use 4 number post codes. So a workaround in this situation may involve entering an extra zero at the start or end of the post code. For example Sydney NSW (post code 2000) may become 02000 or 20000.

So considering a workaround is very quick and easy to implement, why shouldn’t they be used? Furthermore as workaround are most often required when doing business administration work, this is not necessarily time you can bill to a customer.

Time Factor
Assuming you charge $100 an hour, and let’s say you need to use a workaround on average once per hour and it takes 1 minute to use the workaround. Well over the course of 3 years (the average amount of time between system upgrades), that comes to $10,400 in wasted time. That’s simply time spent working around a small problem, for example entering appointments into your calendar and your appointments database.

Training
You need to ensure that everyone in your organisation is using the same workarounds otherwise each employee may be using a different workaround for the same problem. For example, one person may be entering in “N/A” into a field, whilst someone else is entering in “Other”, whilst someone else may be entering in the code “0”. Whilst you may understand what they mean, your reporting systems probably don’t.

Reporting
Using the post code example above, in Australia there are legitimate post codes which start with 0 and end with 0. Thus if one person is entering in the code 02000 with a fake zero in it are they talking about the post code for the ANU ACT which is 0200 or are they talking about Sydney NSW which is 2000? So using this example if you need to run a report based on sales by post code, and you’ve being using an extra zero to make 5 digit zip codes, unless you are positive that everyone has been using the same workaround for converting 4 digit post codes to 5 digit zip codes, you may find your getting some sales in some very strange or non-existent places.

How to solve the problem?

Contact a software solutions company. We can find out of there are options which can fix the problems with your current software, or we can recommend a new software solution which doesn’t require use of any workarounds to be used.

So if you would like to know more about databases, data storage, and software in general, feel free to give Fruition Data a call on (02) 6100 3780.

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John Phillips

Contributed By: John Phillips (Ocean Computing Solutions)

Bullying is as old as civilization itself, internet connectivity has simply given it a new medium. That does not make bullying more palatable, of course. Unfortunately, it simply means that people with a mean and vindictive streak are now able to bully their victims around online as well. An increasing trend worldwide, workplace bullying over the internet is a phenomenon that refuses to die down.

While there are many types of cyber bullying in the workplace, the most common one remains intimidation over email. The actual content may take many forms, of course, but a cyber-bully usually takes advantage of a new employee, or a new member on the team. Making up new rules, accusing the victim of ‘errors’ that do not really exist, publicly denouncing a person’s work by marking everybody else on that particular email are some of the typical shenanigans that are resorted to by the cyber-bully.

Besides vicious emails, cyber-bullies could hurt their victims by accessing their private data, posting private details of employees on corporate blogs or public blogs, or by sending offensive missives on internal chat networks.

Cyber-bullies exist in firms of all sizes, but the small firms and entrepreneurial set-ups are particularly hard hit, since a small team gives the cyber-bully that added edge. Worse, small business set-ups are affected more as well, since they can hardly afford a dip in morale due to cyber-bullying, or even a workforce that may look to quit on this account.

Most major countries, including Australia, have laws in place to combat cyber-bullying in the workplace. In fact, each Australian state has separate legislation regarding this issue, with most of the onus being placed on the corporation involved, whose responsibility it is to ensure that its employees have a safe workplace.

There’s no one single way to deal with cyber-bullying at the workplace. Ideally, a potential cyber-bullying victim should first try to deal with the problem by addressing the cyber-bully and letting him/her know that a problem exists. If done in a firm, but polite manner, this usually is enough. In case the situation is exacerbated, most firms have processes in place that can be followed in such an eventuality. In case you happen to be a small business owner, you should ensure that you have a ready idea of what to do if your employees are being affected by cyber bullying – a fair, open and transparent policy that is known to every employee goes a long way towards building employee morale – and isn’t that always welcome?

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John Phillips

Author: John Phillips (Ocean Computing Soltions)

Good passwords form the basis of secure computer systems, but what is a good password?  In this short video, John Phillips, Managing Director of Ocean Computing Solutions, defines a strong password and provides a simple technique for choosing a memorable, secure password.

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John Phillips

Author: John Phillips (Ocean Computing Solutions)

I recently had a discussion with someone quite new to using computers, and who was looking to purchase his first computer.  The first of many questions asked was “should I get a laptop or a desktop?”  The answer really depends on your individual requirements.

The first thing to consider is the need for portability.  If you need a computer to carry around with you, using it in many different locations, a laptop is the only real solution.  If you don’t have a need for a portable machine, a desktop is a viable option for you.  Desktops tend to be cheaper than laptops at the same performance level, and are less difficult to upgrade and repair than laptops.

If you decide to purchase a laptop, you need to consider how much time you will spend using the machine.  If you are going to be doing a lot of typing, a good keyboard and large screen are essential.  On the other hand, if you are mostly at your desk, and sometimes need to be out and about with your computer, especially if you want to take it on planes and the like you can comfortably use a much smaller, more portable laptop by connecting a normal mouse, monitor and keyboard while you are at your office.  This means you only use the smaller keyboard and screen while on the road.

Purchasing considerations for desktops are more straightforward than laptops.  For business use, you really want a machine that is going to be reliable and quiet.  It is also worth considering the energy consumption of the machine you are purchasing, with business specific machines from HP, Lenovo etc usually requiring less power than custom built machines from the local computer shops.

Common to both desktops and laptops is the software you need to support your intended use.  All computers will come with an operating system, which is the basis of the software on your computer, pre installed.  Usually this will be a Windows variant with the latest version being Windows 7.  There are several editions of Windows 7 including Home and Professional.  Each edition has different capabilities, so you’ll need to consider the features available and ensure they meet your requirements.

Beyond Windows, you will probably want a copy of Microsoft Office to enable you to type documents, work with spreadsheets and the like.  It is generally cheaper to buy Office at the same time you buy your computer.  Once again, it is important to buy the edition of Office that has the programs you need to complete your work.

Finally, I always recommend purchasing a, extended warranty that lasts at least three years.  This way, if you have any hardware problems with your system, you can easily get it fixed without incurring additional expense.

We are always happy to help people purchase computers for business use.  As you can see, there are many things to consider, and a good IT support provider will be able to assist you to understand your needs, then supply and install appropriate hardware.  At Ocean Computing Solutions, we sell complete computer packages including software and installation and configuration at your office for a fixed price.  For more information, please give us a call on 1300 558 121, or visit our web site at http://www.oceancs.com.au.

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John Phillips

Author: John Phillips (Ocean Computing Solutions)

John Phillips, Managing Director of Ocean Computing Solutions uses his Tiger Repelling Rock to demonstrate why business owners shouldn’t assume their backups are working in the absence of information to the contrary.

To ensure your backups are working, why not sign up for a free Network Problem Prevention Audit from Ocean Computing Solutions?  To arrange your audit, if you are a Canberra based business with five or more computers, visit http://www.oceancs.com.au/?q=node/8 or phone 1300 558 121.

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