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Tricks & Tips

Archive for March, 2008

Paperless Office – Part IV

March 27th, 2008
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You *MUST* Have a Backup
A final step to going paperless in your home or office is to have a good backup system in place.  If you’re going to scan and save important document you definitely have to back them up.  There are so many options out there, you really can’t afford not to do something.  Over the years you can only imagine the horror stories we’ve heard.

Options for backup are as simple as purchasing a backup hard drive from a local electronic retailer or backing up to an offsite server (we provide offsite backup services as well as so many others online).  Some hard drives you might purchase include software for backing up.  This works, or, we have used Cobian in the past.  We are currently testing new backup software, SyncBack.  I’ll write more later on how to choose the best software.



Bonus Tip…

If you’re going to store everything on your computer and throw away the original, you might ask, “Can I store receipts electronically for the IRS?”
Don’t take my word for it, but according to a search on Google:

Does the IRS accept digital receipts? Yes. According to ruling Rev. Proc. 97-22, the IRS allows one to prepare, record, transfer, index, store, preserve, retrieve, and reproduce books and records by either electronically imaging hard copy documents to an electronic storage media, or transferring computerized books and records to an electronic storage media that allows them to be viewed or reproduced without using the original program.

Can I throw away my receipts once I have captured an acceptable image? Yes. According to ruling Rev. Proc. 97-22, the IRS permits the destruction of the original hard copy books and records and the deletion of original computerized records after a taxpayer completes testing of the storage system.

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Send Text Messages by Email

March 25th, 2008
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We’re not all “txting” yet (properly known as SMS).  If you want to send a text message to the kids, a friend, or associate and don’t have twiddle fingers on your cell phone, just email the text!

Each cell provider has a different email address to EMAIL a text message. Here is a complete list of each email by cell provider: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/textmessage.bml?mode=details 

How To:

  1. Find out which email address to send to: http://www.livejournal.com/tools/textmessage.bml?mode=details
  2. Create an email to one of the addresses as specified in that link. If it says, number@txt.att.net, replace NUMBER with the 10-digital number. For example, 8641231234@txt.att.net.
    If your sending to a Verizon customer, use: number@vtext.com.
  3. Compose your email, but don’t write too much. SMS’ can typically only send/receive a max number of letters (about 160 characters).
  4. Send away! Your recipient should get your text message in a few seconds. 

Extra…
Make sure you’re up on your lingo… see how many of these you know! ;)
http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp

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Electronic Faxes
There are alternative options to the traditional fax.  Myfax.com offers a service by which you receive your faxes via electronic documents.

Receive
When someone sends you a fax, it shows up in your email as a PDF.  Review faxes before printing (eg. spam) or archive.  Or, use their website to view your fax history (reprint, see fax numbers, etc).

Send
You can also send faxes through your email.  Create an email, attach a document (PDF, Word, etc) and send to myfax.com! They will deliver the document to the specified fax telephone number.  You don’t even need a fax machine. Simple.

Service
Their service does start at $10/mo, but well worth it! For example, we’ve call forwarded existing business fax lines to the new toll-free number for immediate transition to myfax.com. Permanent call forwarding of a line is much cheaper than paying for a dedicated fax line.  Ultimately, an overall savings, and a better product.
I’ve been using myfax.com for about a year now.  If you still have to fax, this service will increase efficiency and help keep the paper at bay. Learn more at www.myfax.com, reply to this email, or call us.

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Paperless Office – Part II

March 18th, 2008
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Not Printing (conventionally)
Another way to reduce paper is to stop printing.  Instead, print to PDFs. The free application below installs itself as a printer in your computer. Any page you could print can be saved as a PDF, or electronic document.

It’s cheaper (no ink/paper), faster, and most importantly, future reference is easy. I print to PDF any receipts of things I buy online. In a few seconds I can bring up any of them, even from years ago.

I store my PDFs in a receipts folder I created in My Documents. I sort them chronologically and of course, name them to include lots of key words so I can find them easily. (Eg. Bank of America Biz CC – 1.1.08.pdf)

Print office documents, email messages, images, web pages, etc. to a PDF file. This application is a must-have.

Install & Use - 
Download directly at: http://www.cutepdf.com/download/CuteWriter.exe (from www.cutepdf.com). The install should be a simple Next, Next, Next, Finish. Then just choose File and Print, as you normally would, and choose CutePDF as the printer. You should quickly get a Save As box. Move to your My Documents folder, name it, and save it!

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Paperless Office – Part I

March 13th, 2008
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Step 1 – Scanning

Fujitsu makes a fast, self feeding scanner I just love.  While most scanners require several steps, this digitalizes documents into PDF with a single button. I started using this scanner about six months ago and can’t live without it. I scan everything: contracts, bank statements, letters, etc. Everything is scanned to PDF and then shredded.It really is as simple as this video shows:
http://www.fujitsu.com/downloads/COMP/fcpa/scanners/videos/pcdemo.html

We can order these or you can find them online pretty easy.  I have the ScanSnap S500 that is about $440 but they also have a smaller one, the S300 for about $275.  Both are double sided, self feeding, full color scanners.

I strongly suggest using this product. It is a great start to going paperless in your home or office.

More to come on this topic… It’s a favorite! ;)

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Reuse or Recycle

March 11th, 2008
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A question we’re always asked is, “What do we do with our old computer?” The garbage certainly isn’t a wise option for the electronics we collect.

You can help…
A good customer of mine inspired me to pursue this question yesterday when she asked me about used computers. She is a Greenwood County school teacher (SC) and would like a computer to use in her class: “I need one to support PowerPoint projects for the class, online presentations and links, etc … It would become the property of the school so if someone has one to donate they can write it off as a donation and I can get a receipt for it.”

If anyone has an older, yet functional computer, that is able to run Windows XP, please contact us. DWZ will donate time for erasing all existing data and reinstalling Windows.

More ways to reuse or recycle…
Some major manufactures (Apple, Dell, HP, etc) offer free recycling on THEIR specific brands. Otherwise, Staples accepts electronics for $15/ea. To sum it up though, there are few places that offer free recycling. The EPA offers some great resources for donating and recycling old electronics:
http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/recycle/ecycling/donate.htm

Since customers frequently ask, we would like to officially help facilitate these local needs. If your non-profit organization is in need, or if you have a donation to make, please contact us. We’ll try to make the connections.

Important things to consider before passing on your equipment:
http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/hardware/page5496.cfm
(Most importantly, don’t forget to properly erase important personal data. Special software is required.)

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If you’re anything like me, your inbox may actually be your todo list. Sadly enough, this isn’t an efficient way of processing your tasks. If you’re overwhelmed with emails, read on.

Merlin Mann gave a presentation for Google employees concerning getting things done (GTD) with email. I highly recommend this video for organizing your electronic life. At least see the first 15-20 minutes and you’ll get the gist. If you want to maximize your time, please watch this invaluable video:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=973149761529535925

His main site is at http://www.inboxzero.com/

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Improve Your Vision

March 3rd, 2008
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Reader’s Digest offers 24 ways to improve your vision:
http://tinyurl.com/3ahhg8

Here’s one for example:
“Move your computer screen to just below eye level. Your eyes will close slightly when you’re staring at the computer, minimizing fluid evaporation and the risk of dry eye syndrome, says John Sheppard, M.D…”

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