Mozy Reseller Program Hits Its Stride

Today, at MSPWorld, Mozy is showcasing significant enhancements to its Mozy Reseller Program in 2012.

These include:

• A revamped Reseller Program and portal 2.0 in the U.S. and Europe
• The debut of fully customizable, co-branded marketing and sales materials
• A new MDF program
• New lead management tools (including opportunity registration) to help resellers grow their businesses with Mozy
• Lead sharing for Mozy PlatinumTM resellers
• New channel-friendly pricing for MozyPro® and MozyEnterprise®

Mozy has been able to double channel business the past three years and rapid growth in new markets including Europe and Asia.

“We’ve never been more focused as a company on selling Mozy through the channel than we are right now,” said Darrell Gamble, Director of Channel Sales at Mozy, recognized as a CRN Channel Chief for 2012. “Since we rolled out our all-new reseller portal and new pricing for MozyPro and MozyEnterprise earlier in the year, the feedback from our resellers has been tremendous. We’re here at MSPWorld talking to MSPs about how they can introduce recurring revenue streams into their business by reselling Mozy’s industry leading suite of world-class cloud services.”

“Before we became a Mozy reseller we went through several of the online backup competitors and reviewed their products,” said Dan Winterhalter at Infitech LLC (www.infitech.net), a managed service provider (MSP) based in West Chester, OH. “What we found right off the bat was that the Mozy pricing was right, the product worked well, and it had the best feature set when it comes to server backup. Those things were the most important to us. Since then we’ve been able to get to know their people and watch Mozy constantly improve the product and the reseller program over time. We now have over 400 active clients on Mozy, backing up multiple terabytes of data. And we’re only just getting started.”

“Seven years ago when Mozy was founded, our mission was to ‘back up the world,’” said Gamble, “We’re now covering everything from home computers to mission-critical servers and workstations, and Mozy backup is in use at SMBs, mid-market companies and large enterprises. And we have our trusted partners to thank for much of that growth. Our partners told us what tools they needed to be successful, and ever since we’ve been focused on delivering a world-class channel program.”

You can find more information about the Mozy Reseller Program and the enhancements announced earlier in 2012 are available at http://partners.mozy.com.

Small-Business Networking: Internet Connections Eclipsing the Old Face-to-Face?

Here are the numbers: 74% of small-business owners in a recent poll say that networking online is as, or more, important than meeting with their networks face-to-face.

The number is among the results of a new survey conducted by Manta, an online community-builder for small businesses.

Small Business Online NetworkingThe survey numbers are of the kind that make you sit up and address some long-held notions. The idea that the importance of online networking is eclipsing person-to-person? It is absolutely contrary what old-school networking strategies have emphasized for so long.

But then, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

Consumers and business owners, nowadays they’re on the web. Mobile business accounts for some 1 billion workers. And small-business owners are freshly focusing on the facts.

Let’s take a closer look, talk to some owners about the change, and find out what else the survey can tell us about the development of networking on the web.

Connecting Online: One Sweet Step at a Time

Sherry Sheppard owns i love cupcakes, in Largo, Florida. For her, getting online and bringing her concept to new people is an integral part of her work.

“Continuous customer support and tools,” Sheppard says of her Internet networking experience, “have really helped us leverage creative ways to reach people. New and innovative opportunities to market to and connect with people online has really helped get our specialty cupcake bakery noticed, which has proven to be vital to our ongoing success.”

To what extent?

Sheppard says that 70% of her business comes to her via online networking. That’s more than just frosting on the cake.

Running the Numbers: Online Networking on the Rise

Of the 600 small businesses polled, Manta’s survey helps paint the picture of not only how many owners say web-based networking is important, but it also gives us a sense of how much time they’re spending doing it throughout the year.

  • 52% say they dedicate half or more of their business networking time to online channels in 2012.
  • Percentage of owners who say they give all their business-networking attention to the web: 7%
  • 36% of the owners said that half or more of their new customers in the past year found them through online channels.
  • Company websites are still leading the pack, when it comes to driving business. 24% of the owners said so.
  • Close behind is Facebook. 19% of the owners polled said The Social Network was the chief driver of business from the web to their services.

Building Businesses Online: Standing Out in the Crowd

The numbers certainly tell a story. But the thinking behind these stats is perhaps best summarized by one small-business executive who’s competing for customers daily.

“Since there are so many avenues to connect with people today, it’s important to consistently stand out from all the noise,” says Joseph Buczek, president of Indiana and Missouri-based Lighthouse Construction and Restoration, Inc. “In the architectural and remodeling industry, I have a lot of competitors and I need to be where my customers are – and that’s online.”

 

MozyPro - Online Backup For Business

 

Links of Interest – October 1

Samsung Confirms Galaxy Note II for All Major U.S. Carriers

Samsung has confirmed that the much-anticipated Galaxy Note II smartphone will be available on Verizon Wireless, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular in the U.S. by the middle of November.

Smartphone aficionados know the current Galaxy Note smartphone for its 5.3-inch display. Not be be outdone, the new one is even larger, and features a 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED touch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, according to PCMag.com.

The Galaxy Note II will also come with a 1.6-GHz, quad-core Samsung Exynos processor that’s optimized for LTE, plus 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. Each Galaxy Note II has a microSD card slot that allows for expandable storage of up to 64GB.

The Galaxy Note II will arrive on each carrier preloaded with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, making it the first Samsung smartphone to run Google’s most advanced version of Android out of the gate.

Photos, Videos Bigger in Twitter Redesign

Mozy on TwitterA redesign of Twitter’s Website and mobile apps could generate new revenue streams by placing greater emphasis on photos and videos.

In other words, a picture is now worth 140 characters, writes the San Francisco Chronicle’s Benny Evangelista.

Twitter’s CEO, Dick Costolo, appearing on NBC’s “Today” show, announced that the  company has completely overhauled its iPad app, updated its website and revamped its iPhone and Android apps to make visual elements such as photos and videos more prominent.

Costolo told the show hosts — including Ryan Seacrest and his nearly 8 million Twitter followers — that the microblogging service was responding to Twitter users who wanted better ways to express themselves.

“What we’ve heard over and over again from our users is they want to bring more of their personality to their profile pages,” he said.

But the redesign also signals new advertising opportunities for Twitter, which has reported success with ad products like its text-based Promoted Tweets. Could there be a Promoted Photos in the works?

Snow on Mars: NASA spacecraft spots ‘dry ice’ snowflakes

A spacecraft orbiting Mars has detected carbon dioxide snow falling on the Red Planet, making Mars the only body in the solar system known to host this weird weather phenomenon, according to Space.com.

The snow on Mars fell from clouds around the planet’s south pole during the Martian winter spanning 2006 and 2007, with scientists discovering it only after sifting through observations by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The Martian south pole hosts a frozen carbon dioxide — or “dry ice” — cap year-round, and the new discovery may help explain how it formed and persists, researchers said.

“These are the first definitive detections of carbon-dioxide snow clouds,” lead author Paul Hayne, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. “We firmly establish the clouds are composed of carbon dioxide — flakes of Martian air — and they are thick enough to result in snowfall accumulation at the surface.”

 

MozyHome - Free Online Backup

 

Mobile Business 101: Communicate Better, Collaborate Better (Here’s How)

Mobile Business 101What’s more impressive than a mobile workforce 1 billion workers strong?

It’s this: a mobile workforce topping the 1.3-billion member mark.

That’s the recent prediction by the International Data Corp., which tracks workforce trends. That’s a lot of employees communicating all at once via a whole spectrum of devices.

When it comes to small businesses, the success of going mobile largely depends on a well-planned and smartly implemented communication system. Mobile small-biz professionals need to plug into best practices to keep everything running smoothly, out there on the road.

Let’s look at four ways to do just that, (with some advice provided by industry experts at eVoice to help out). It’s time for a quick study of mobile business 101.

1. Unify Your Company’s Mobile-Comm Profile

No matter how sophisticated your network of mobile employees, if you’re presenting your customers with the concept of a company, stick with a single central phone number that they can call. Thanks to technology, anyone can connect to the trunk number, and then get connected to a representative’s roaming mobile device.

In this age of cloud-based systems, that’s the reality. Virtual phone systems mean that the call, to the caller, will sound  just like the conventional greeting and menu-option environment that they’ve come to expect. It doesn’t matter where the person picking up the call is actually speaking from.

2. Deploy Voicemail as a Prioritizing Tool

It’s an old trick, but it’s still a good one when it comes to protecting employees’ valuable time. Prioritize calls by what virtual-phone software tells them about the incoming caller allows them to divert certain conversations that they can get to further down the line, and bump the most important calls to the top of their response list. Virtual voicemail means that the mobile worker can — again, thanks to cloud technology — access the account from anywhere during the day.

3. Circumvent the Dead Zones: VoIP Helps Eliminate Carrier Loss

Versatile and professional communication from anywhere, in this mobile work-world: that does  sound appealing.

But many of us know the truth about office-ing from our smartphones: dropped calls, cellular dead zones, these things mark the surefire path to frustration for the client and the small-business.

Clicking over to a virtual phone system can help, one that bounces hard-to-connect calls to the Internet and replaces a potentially shaky carrier with hardwired Wi-Fi whenever its possible to get online. It can make all the difference when that important call catches you out in the country. (Especially if you’re tethering for Internet anywhere.)

4. Cloud Conference 

When it comes to demos, real-time brainstorming, and all the business-class communication that used to have come solely from the board room, the cloud is now the conference room for mobile workers.

According to one recent survey conducted by ConferBlogs, 77% of employees and owners of small- to medium-sized businesses say that web conferencing saves them travel time, travel costs, and connects them to more people than traditional face-to-face meet-ups.

There is certainly more than one option out there, when it comes to the tech that can drive these mobile communications strategies.

From Adobe Connect to MegaMeeting, from Vocalocity to the suite of tools that come with eVoice, the range of services — and prices — allow small businesses to pick and choose what suits them best.

Start with these tips and get your mobile workforce talking —  and conferencing, and sharing desktops. All these points of integration will make them part of a dynamic and moving workforce, soon to be 1.3 billion strong.

 

Mozy Mobile Apps

 

Getting Started With Email Marketing

Getting Started With Email Marketing

Getting Started with Email MarketingEmail is a part of many marketing budgets, strategies and concepts for big businesses. If you’re just starting out or are looking to expand your current online marketing efforts beyond the basics of social media, it’s time you made email marketing part of your next campaign. From determining whether you should send out newsletters or retargeted emails, getting started with email marketing can seem a bit overwhelming.   Here are some of the questions you may be asking yourself, and the answers.

How Do I Create a Database?

Before you get in to the design or messaging, you need to have a list of emails that you’re sending your email marketing campaigns out to. If you don’t have contacts to send your campaign messages out to, there is no way you’ll be successful. In order to create a database to use for your email marketing efforts, you should:

  • Start by collecting and organizing the emails of past and current customers. You may already have these, but if you don’t a call or direct mail card can help you head off in the right direction.
  • Ask for an email address in exchange for an offer. A basic clipboard on your counter or form on your website, that says “Sign up here to receive discount coupons via email!” or “Sign up here to get our free Newsletter via email!” will get your list going.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t ask for too much information up front; you could scare someone off. All you really need is a first name and email address. The rest of the information you ask is up to you, but the more information you require the more likely someone is to say, “No thanks.”
  • Have a privacy policy in place. Let customers know how you plan to use the information they provide. Look at similar sites and companies to get a feel for what you should be doing – including getting the permission of customers to send them emails.

Should I Use HTML or Plain-Text?

If you have no experience in email marketing campaigns, creating and designing brand new one may seem overwhelming. However, there are a number of tools out there to help you get started. MailChimp has a number of resources available for those getting started with email marketing. When it comes to the design of your email campaigns, consider:

  • Testing the email before you send. HTML emails can look different than expected when they are opened. Run the test on a few different free email services such as Yahoo!, Gmail, MSN and Hotmail to make sure it’s what you expect.
  •  CSS vs. HTML vs. Plain-Text. CSS doesn’t work too well in an HTML email, HTML images are sometimes ‘broken’ and plain-text is the most consistent. However, HTML is more like the world we live in – colorful and full of imagery – and is often considered the best method for email marketing campaigns.
  • Keeping the design simple. Place your logo in the upper-left hand corner, keep your call to action above the fold and avoid adding so much pizzazz that the important things get lost. Using a few images is great, but keep your message in mind!

What’s the Message?

What you hope to get from your email marketing efforts will contribute greatly to what your message should be. If you’re looking to showcase a product or indicate an upcoming event, your message needs to be a compelling reflection of that. Keep in mind why you’re sending these emails out and gear your content towards the right audience.

  • Your call to action, which is based on what you want those receiving your emails to do, needs to be above the fold. This means having the CTA in sight, without any scrolling necessary, when someone opens the email.
  • Be interesting! Put yourself in your customer’s shoes to consider what they want to read and receive in an email. Your tone, content and design all need to reflect this. Track the results of your efforts to see what is working best with your audience.

Is There Anything Else I Should Know?

Yes, of course there is! Email marketing takes some time and isn’t an overnight process. Always include an opt-out option and stay up to date on your results reports. Knowing what is successful and what isn’t is the best way to move forward.

  • Make sure you send emails from a non-personal email address. Instead of sending out blasts from janedoe@xyz.com, consider info@xyz.com, newsletter@xyz.com, etc.
  • Segment your audience. Your campaign may not apply to everyone in your database so organize each person by different demographics including age, location, interests, conversion likelihood, etc.
  • Send your emails early in the week. Emails typically have a lifespan of 3 days, so sending out your messages on Monday or Tuesday will often be better than sending out on Friday. Of course, it depends on your audience.

An email marketing company can help you with your email campaign efforts. But, if you’re more of a DIY marketer, take each of these questions into account and make sure you have a plan in place before sending any emails out. There are a number of resources, including HTML email templates, online for free. When it comes to getting started in email marketing, you need to have a goal and related call to action, design, and overall messaging in mind. Remember, this is a branding opportunity and you need to make the most of it.

Author Bio: Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as web design and online marketing. She is a web content writer for Business.com. 

The views and opinions of  this post are solely those of the author of the post. Mozy does not specifically endorse any of the commercial products or services mentioned in this post.

 

MozyPro Online Backup for Businesses

 

Desktop KVM switches add convenience to using more than one computer

If you’ve got two or more computers — say, a desktop and a notebook — or perhaps two desktops and a notebook — or three notebooks — switching among them can be a nuisance.

It’s particularly a nuisance if you want to be switching back and forth among systems during over a session, like if one is your “business production” system, another is your testing platform, plus you’ve got a notebook for when you travel.

One way to do this is to use “remote desktop/remote control” software like GoToMyPC, LogMeIn, TeamViewer, VNC, or the many other offerings. These programs let you manage your computers via WiFi or Internet connections, or even from a smartphone or tablet like an iPhone or iPad.

If your computers are going to be right next to you, another option is a KVM — K for Keyboard, V for Video, M for Mouse (or other pointing device, like a trackpad or trackball) — switch.

A KVM switch is the computer equivalent of the input selection button on your television that lets you toggle between the cable, DVD player, or that old VCR.

A KVM switch lets you connect multiple computers — how many depends on the switch — and with the touch of a button, change which computer the keyboard, display and mouse are connected to. Unlike using remote desktop programs, only the computer you want to use has to be on — or you can have multiple computers on, and be switching among them like you do among windows within a given computer.

Many data centers use KVM switches to let IT admins connect to several machines from a single terminal. But KVM switches can be useful for office, home office, and home users as well.

To connect up a office/home KVM switch, you plug your keyboard, mouse, and display (some KVM switches support two displays) into the back. You then connect a KVM cable between the KVM and the computer — typically, the KVM cable includes a video cable, two USB cables, and A/V cables. Connect the KVM power supply, and, optionally, plug peripheral(s) into the KVM’s front-side USB ports — and you’re ready to go.

I’ve been using KVM switches for more than 25 years. While I typically only have one computer running at a time, KVM switches are a great convenience when I’m testing a new machine or need to access my travel notebook.

Though data-center-grade KVM switches can cost up to several thousand dollars, office/home-class KVMs are much less expensive.

KVM switches start at around $20 for two-to-four-machine switches. For example, NewEgg.com is currently listing the “IOGEAR GCS612A MiniView Micro PS/2 Audio KVM Switch with Cables” for $25.99 (MSRP $29.99). A four-to-eight port KVM that supports two video monitors and with other features may run you several hundred dollars — and would be worth it.

Don’t hesitate to bargain hunt for slightly older machines — but check the notes at the bottom of this article, and also see whether the price includes a set of cables

The KVM switch I’ve been using for the past five or more years is an IoGear MiniView Symphony.

KVM Switch

It’s got four ports, meaning it accommodates and can switch among up to four computers.

KVM Switch

It has two front-side USB ports for peripherals. Pressing a computer selector for a few seconds switches these USB ports to that computer. It also has a four-port Ethernet switch built-in.

KVM switches don’t seem to wear out, but they may not meet the requirements of your newer computers or displays. In particular:

1) Older KVMs may not connect to Windows 7 machines.

2) Older KVMs may not support the video resolution you need.

While remote-desktop software may be the wave of the future, KVM switches are an inexpensive, easy way to meet for basic needs of switching between systems.

 

MozyEnterprise

 

Cloud Links of Interest – September 17

Why the iPhone 5 Launch Will Be the ‘Biggest Upgrade in Consumer Electronics History’

Why the iPhone 5 Launch Will Be the 'Biggest Upgrade in Consumer Electronics History'The iPhone 5 launch isn’t just going to be big, according to Topeka Capital analyst Brian White, it’s going to be the “biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history.”

White lists a number of reasons why he thinks the iPhone 5 will be a big hit — bigger screen, LTE capability, faster processor, iOS 6 — but in the analysis he misses the wood for the trees, according to an article on ZDNet.com.

He fails to mention that the vast majority of Apple customers don’t care about the hardware specifications at all. It’s going to be big because it will be the first major redesign of the iPhone since the iPhone 4 was released back in June 2010, ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes.

“Consumers like a redesign because it means that their new handset doesn’t look like everybody else’s handset,” writes Kingsley-Hughes. “To people who like to pore through endless specification sheets and hardware teardowns, it seems odd that people will base their purchasing decision on something as simple as a product looking different, but they will.”

New App MindMeld Heralds the Era of Anticipatory Computing

Shouldn’t computers know what you need without you having to tell them? A new app from Expect Minds and entrepreneur Tim Tuttle called Mindmeld hopes to think ahead and help deal with more and more data, according to an article on GigaOm.com.

MindMeld is an iPad app that uses Facebook’s open graph and identity to help create quick audio or video conferences. Add a few people and start talking. But here is where things get interesting: As you speak (or other participants speak), the app listens and starts surfacing information pertaining to what you are talking about, according to GigaOm.

Om Malik writes ”For instance, if you are talking about an upcoming meeting with, say, someone like [Malik], then in near realtime, it would show you my Wikipedia page, surface my recent blog posts, show GigaOM location on a map, and other such information. And as fast as the topic shifts, the system brings up relevant information for that new topic. Sometime in the future, the company will be able to access data from your Dropbox or Google Docs account and when it does, Cisco’s WebEx division should reach for a proverbial bottle of migraine medicine.”

Tim Tuttle started Expect Labs, the company behind the app, two years ago to develop a platform that would “continuously pay attention to what happens in your life and pick up ambient information and then start to surface relevant information.”

Tuttle believes computing habits are evolving from desktop-bound to completely mobile, essentially changing usage behavior for users everywhere.

Cloud Computing Revs Up the Auto Industry

Cloud computing has already changed several industries and the next stop looks like the auto industry and the driving experience as we know it, according an an article on CloudTweaks.com.

Three main areas of the automobile industry could experience the greatest impact of cloud computing: partnerships and integration, the manufacturer-dealer-customer chain and auto infotainment.

 

MozyPro Online Backup

 

Life in the Cloud

Be sure to enter to win a 1-year free MozyHome account by leaving a comment on this post, telling us how you use the cloud!

These days data is always available to us, never no more than a click or a tap away. Cloud computing is quickly becoming a mainstream part of everyday life, and we find ourselves banking, updating Facebook from our phones, sending emails from taxis, and backing up our data — all because of “the cloud”.

We’ve talked about this all-knowing cloud before, reviewing how to make your important information available to you online, how you can use cloud backup to customize your Android phone, how the cloud is helping accountants, and even how the cloud is relaxing concerns about when employees are arriving or leaving the office.

So, what is cloud computing? Let’s take a look.

Life in the Cloud

(This image was grabbed from our “Life in the Cloud” infographic)

There are quite a few cloud computing companies that play a major role in our every day lives, including Google, Facebook, Pandora, Netflix, and Twitter. Each of these companies stores a variety of different information in the cloud, including some information about you.

Where do these companies store all of this information?

Cloud computing companies store users’ information in giant storage centers called “Data Centers“. Data centers contain row after row of servers filled with hard drives with your data on them.

Data Centers

(This image was grabbed from our “Where Oh Where is the World’s Data Being Stored?” infographic)

These data centers are secured with various types of security (both physical and technological), to ensure that your information can’t be access by someone coming into the data center, either in person or via the web.

Because your information is stored in the data center, you can access it using any device that has the ability to connect to it (your laptop, your iPad, or your Mom’s typewriter. Ok, just kidding on the last one.)

I want to get in the cloud!

So, have you decided it’s definitely time to upgrade and enter the cloud?

If you’re still holding out and you need more convincing, here’s a recent post on 5 more signs that it’s time to upgrade and enter the cloud (and yes mixtapes do make the list).

If you’re ready to join the digital age, want to help you on this exciting journey. Trusting your family pictures and your tax documents to a someone you don’t know well can be an unnerving experience. We’ve put together some guides to help you make sure you’re considering all the factors when choosing a cloud backup vendor.

After reviewing these posts, you’ll feel much more confident in evaluating and choosing someone to trust with your important data.

Mozy has made it very easy to access your files (whether backed up OR synced) via your computer, your mobile device, or a web browser on a friend’s computer. Currently backing up over 90 petabytes (What’s a petabyte?) of data for over 3,000,000 home users and 80,000 business, Mozy is the leader in cloud backup and storage. We’re big fans of the cloud and the amazing things it lets us do. We’ve put together this guide to help you learn more about cloud computing and what it can do for you. We promise that once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back. We hope you’ll consider the online backup leader for all your cloud storage needs.

Enter to win a 1-year free MozyHome account by leaving a comment on this post, telling us how you use the cloud! (Comments must be submitted by 9/28/12, winner will be emailed.)

Bluetooth headsets, what to look for?

Bluetooth HeadsetOne of the most essential accessories for your cell phone is a Bluetooth headset — one of those little metal-bug-like things that fits in (and perhaps over) your ear, allowing you to chat without having to hold the phone up to the side of your face, or have a wire dangling between your head and one of your pockets.

Bluetooth headsets are useful for working with your mobile phone, tablet, or notebook computer and they cost anywhere from $15 to $150. Obviously, they’re not the same. So what should you be looking for, feature wise?

Based on having tried/used a dozen or so over the past several years, here’s my advice:

Staying Power

An earpiece that won’t stay on your ear won’t last long. If it’s going to fall off and get lost, it’s a bad investment. You’re moving your head around as you walk, talk, get in and out of your car. If it falls out easily, it could be minutes or miles before you even notice it’s missing.

My current favorite with this in mind are SoundID, which has a clear plastic earloop. I also like the Jawbone, but its earloop can come loose from the headset too easily. I’m partial to earloops, and to earloops that can’t detach, or at least not without some effort.

Comfort

If you’re going to be wearing this for hours at a time, it’s got to be comfortable enough, even if you wear glasses.

USB Charging Port

This isn’t as much of a problem as it was even a year or two ago, when Jawbone, Plantronics and others had proprietary, and often annoying charging ports. Thankfully, now almost all mobile vendors (other than Apple) have standardized usage of smaller USB ports, so your tech travel kit is likely to include the right cable, and if it doesn’t, you should be able to borrow or buy one easily enough.

Sound Quality at the Other End

How do you sound to whoever you’re talking to? How’s the sound cancellation — can you talk quietly in a crowded coffee shop, or as you walk by a leaf blower? You’ll need a testing-buddy to check this with, and you may want to ask a friend to wear the headset so you can hear what they sound like.

The various vendors tout a range of continually evolving noise cancellation and other audio features. Whether they make a difference — and if they do, enough to override other considerations — only you can decide.

Usability

Bluetooth headsets don’t have a lot of controls – basically, on/off, answer/end call, volume, and maybe sensitivity. Some have voice-control. Are the buttons/controls easy for you to reach up and use? Or are you making more mistakes than correct reaches?

For out-of-office use, you’ll probably also want something relatively unobtrusive — small. In the office — or if you don’t care — you may prefer a Bluetooth headset with a boom mike, either short or long, which can pick up your voice better. Similarly, you may look for one that really is a headset, meaning it has some over-the-head loop, rather than just stick-in-and-over-your-ear.

Now all you have to do is not lose the headset when you’re now wearing it…

Mozy Mobile Apps

 

Beyond “My Documents” — Organizing your files to make things more findable

Beyond My DocumentsLike the stuff in your office, closets, bookshelves, and everywhere else in your physical life, the number of data files on your computers (including cloud storage and online backups) keeps growing.

If you use your computer for business purposes — and even if you simply use it a bunch for personal reasons — that means you quickly have too many files to simply have all in one directory, just like your bills, correspondence, and other paperwork really need to be organized.

Tools like Windows 7′s built-in indexing, or the “Find” command in your file manager, may make it surprisingly easy to find a file quickly, similar to how Google (and other web search engines) help you find online stuff.

But, just like there’s no substitute for good labeling and organizing your paperwork into named folders and file drawers, that’s no substitute for good practices in naming and organizing directories and files, so that you can find things later on.

One reason is you may not remember the right keywords to search for. Another reason is you may have to look through a drive or directory using a different machine or OS — or a cloud back-up — which doesn’t have that index, or support as easy searching within files.

I’ve used two methods that since I started with computers — going back to the pre-Windows days of DOS, and working on Unix systems:

  • Giving files and directories self-explanatory names
  • Organizing my directory structure in a logical manner

A directory called STUFF, or NEW, isn’t helpful. Especially if I haven’t look at it recently. Directory and file names should tell you exactly what the file is. For example, I give directories names such as:

  • AA_WORK (current projects — I’m using the “AA_” to force these alphabetically at the top of the directory listing)
  • AA_ARCHIVES (projects I’m done with)
  • AA_PERSONAL (home, health, family, etc.)

For files, let’s work through a recent project of mine, a review of Bluetooth Keyboards. I called the finished product “Dern-TabletPubs-Review-BluetoothKeyboards.doc” and the invoice that goes with it “Dern-2012-137-TabletPubs-03-Review-BluetoothKeyboards.doc.”

Of course, there are also several files associated with the writing of this project:

_assign-TabletPubs-Review-BluetoothKeyboards.doc
_sources-TabletPubs-Review-BluetoothKeyboards.doc
notes-TabletPubs-Review-BluetoothKeyboards.doc
xcr-TabletPubs-Review-BluetoothKeyboards.doc (xrc is my shorthand for an interview transcript)

Notice that each document contains the project name (Review-BluetoothKeyboards) and the client name (TabletPubs — a pseudonym, of course).

As a freelance writer, I keep a directory for each client. Within each client, I maintain a directory for each project. Within TabletPubs, I have:

  • Feature-TabletsInEnterprise
  • Feature-Windows8-MythOrMenace
  • Review-BluetoothKeyboards
  • Review-FunAccessories

My general point: I should be able to know, or at least have a good idea, of what a file and directory are about from their names — and if for some reason I find a file in a place I don’t expect (typically because the application saved it in the wrong place) I can quickly figure out where it should go.

And, equally, I should have a good chance of finding the directory or file based on a name search, without having to search inside the files. (I’m not opposed to searching file contents, but that can often turn up way too many matches.)

Directories for active projects are in the directory AA_WORK. Once a project is finished, I move it to AA_ARCHIVES.

Anything else about my business other than projects is in AA_ADMIN, such as CONTRACTS (with a sub-directory for each client), INVOICING, RECEIPTS, TECHSUPPORT, TRIPS.

The same applies to non-business stuff, e.g. under my PERSONAL directory, I’ve got directories like CAR, DIRECTIONS, DOG, HEALTH, HOUSE.

One last tip: I also use this organizational approach to simplify and reduce my file backup requirements. Stuff I want backed up goes in one set of directories. Stuff I don’t care about, like manuals I’ve downloaded, articles I want to read, presentations I was sent for articles I was doing, vendor press kits, all go under one top-level directory like STUFF2SAVE_BUTDONTBACKUP.

Of course, I periodically rethink how I’m labeling and organizing my files — often as new topics and groups of things emerge. The same is true for my paper files, my shoeboxes of electronic doohickeys, etc. But generally, I’m able to find something quickly enough, so it must be working, at least, for me.