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Tom-OffAssist

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Everything posted by Tom-OffAssist

  1. Ok, I'm going to be in the minority here, but I love Vista. I have had zero issues with it. You just have to make sure you get all the service packs put on and it runs like a dream. That said, Windows 7 is just around the corner. I would look for a computer that comes with Vista but also a certificate for a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it comes out.
  2. What OS is the server computer running? I've set Quickbooks up for Terminal Services on both Windows Server 2003 and 2008. 2008 is by far the better option, if you have a choice but 2003 is definitely do-able.
  3. Karen, Unfortunately, Mac's and other Linux type OS's do not support RDP straight out of the box. And since they have been such a small % of total computers in the past, no one has really taken a look at making them "RDP compatible" until recently. Here is the only solution I have been able to get working with any type of reasonable ease: http://xrdp.sourceforge.net/ I've only used the Linux version of it, so I am afraid I cannot help you with installing it on your clients Mac. Good luck! Tom Beauchamp OffAssist
  4. Pat, The best way to have a dual monitor is just to buy another monitor. Of course, if you already have that laptop just sitting there, there IS a way to use it as a second monitor. http://www.maxivista.com/ Yes, it is $30. BUT, that is way less than the cost of a second monitor. Plus: They do offer a free trial. Soooo, what can it hurt? I've never tried their software, so left me know how it goes. Tom Beauchamp OffAssist
  5. I do not know the differences, but I do know that the two do NOT play well together on the same computer. I recently had to turn down a prospect (and friend) because I already had the US version installed and the Canadian version wanted to eat it!
  6. "After the franchise wars of the late 1990's, all restaurants are Taco Bell." Gotta love Demolition Man.
  7. The ONLY time you would be "interrupted" is if you tried to log into the file while someone else was in that EXACT file in single user mode. Unfortunately, some QuickBooks functions can only be used in that mode. However, we have our system set to default to multi-user. So as soon as they log out, or switch to multi-user, you will once again have access to that file. This is not a weakness of our service, it is a "feature" of QuickBooks that we can do nothing about.
  8. Hello all! Candy asked me to take a look over here and explain the process. QuickBooks Online has a lot of problems. So do many of the the other online QuickBooks hosting solutions. That is why OffAssist was determined to create its own solution. Initially, this was for internal use only, however, it is working so well that we are in the process of determining if there is a market among other VA's for the service. QuickBooks Online uses your web browser to access the file online. Web browsers were not designed to be efficient for heavy tasks like this. So with Quickbooks Online, you will see a definite performance decrease for any applications you are trying to run while the web browser is open. OffAssist uses the Remote Desktop protocol. Most Windows based computers come pre-installed with this and a client is available for Mac's as well. Remote Desktop uses only two parts of your computer: the video and your internet. If you minimize Remote Desktop, your computer will run almost as if you were not connected to a server. Your local applications should not suffer from any noticeable performance decrease. The way our system works: you can send e-mails, you can export Excel data, you can save to your own hard drive, and you can print to either OffAssist's Printers, PDF, or even your own local printers. Sorry, but you can't print to other peoples printers. That is a security issue and not something I can work around or cut corners on. Now, I have heard a few other misconceptions out there, and I will address those here: 1.) "Your file is still on your computer, so when other people access it your computer will slow down." This is not the truth with OffAssist hosting. Our servers handle all the files. When you open your account, you will upload your file to us and we will have it set up and ready to go. Our system handles all the load associated with multi-person access. 2.) "You need to have QuickBooks installed on your computer." With the OffAssist server, you will not need QuickBooks installed at all. The server provides all the software needed. You must, however, own the appropriate number of licenses. 3.) "You do not need your own QuickBooks license." OffAssist is not a software sales house. When you create your account with OffAssist you will sign a contract stating that you have the appropriate client license for the number of logins you wish to create. Our service is provided to allow multiple clients to use a single file no matter where they are or the time of day. Our price will reflect this. That said, you do NOT need an additional license if only you are using QuickBooks with us and on your office system. You need 1 license per person. 4.) "Windows Servers are not secure." In the past this may have been true. However, we use a 3-tier, 5-stage system to protect our clients information. We use 2 firewalls (1 hardware, 1 software), virus and spyware software, and a 2 part password authentication system. I haven't seen another system that provides so much protection while interfering not at all with the service to the customer. Beyond QuickBooks hosting, we are also looking at other services. However, QuickBooks will be the first service available to our clients. If anyone has any direct questions for me, feel free to post them here or e-mail me at tom@offassist.com
  9. Yeah, Sorry, I was kidding. Except the popsicle part. Actually had to use that a while back on an old harddrive. Worked like a charm! You mean I am the only one with Server 2008? Sigh... Ah well, just call me an "Extra super duper eary adopter".
  10. Ok, I'm gonna break this down a bit: Did you IP change with a different ISP? Yes, it did. Also, unless you pay for a Static IP your IP can change every time you connect to the internet. Do my 2 computers have different IP's? Yes and no. If you pay for 2 separate IP's and connect directly the the modem, then yes, you have 2 different IP's. However, most people do not do this. Instead, your Router will get you internet IP. Anyone that sees you on the internet will see THIS IP. Your router will then provide different "local" IP's to each computer on your network. Using these IP's the router directs internet traffic and internal communications. Hope that helps!
  11. I would love to hear more about the management console options of Windows Server 2008. You could also go indepth on Terminal Services, the new Easy Print Functionality, and do a comparison of Terminal Services alone vs. TS + Citrix. If you have any extra time, explaining the event log, how to filter it and examine it contents to determine exactly what is happening within your server would be a nice bonus. If all else fails, you could do a podcast on freezing an old hard drive to get one last spin out of it to retrieve old data....
  12. Ok, I'm not going to be a lot of help here...but I do have some ideas. First: The problem isn't really with Thunderbird. It is with Firefox. If you are not using Firefox (and even if you are) go download the lastest version and install it. This may fix your problem. Second: I am on Windows Vista now, so I can't see the exact application path for the AppData for Thunderbird. But if the above doesn't work, you can try the following: Go to /mozilla thunderbird (it is a hidden folder under your User account in "Documents and Settings/User/AppData"). Open your profile folder (If there is no folder, create a directory named "default"). Make a file called user.js Add: user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.ftp", "firefox"); user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.http", "firefox"); user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.https", "firefox"); Note: "firefox" needs to be the ENTIRE path to the firefox.exe.
  13. Ugh....I am so sorry to hear that your husband is being like that. Personally, I can't imagine Candy NOT owning her own business. She and I both started our own businesses back in 2002(ish). I went with the more conservative retail environment, and she went with the Virtual Assistant "thing". We both supported each other, but she definately had the harder end: she worked from home (with 2 kids), she had to put up with me being gone 14+ hours a day, and she helped me with the accounting in my business (ok, she did it all...). Well, here we are 6 years later, and her business is still going strong. My business? We decided to close it 2 years ago because 1.) It was not making money and 2.) Candy was working herself to death with a very successful business of her own and trying to keep mine in business. So now we work together. Her business is going great, she just got finished with her term as President of the IVAA, and I couldn't be more proud of her. I'm afraid I don't know what niche you are going for, but have you tried presenting it to your husband like "I'm doing remote accounting for businesses." Or "I'm an outsourcing professional"? Virtual Assistant as a term is spreading like wildfire, but it still hasn't reached many people. You mind try using a more well understood definition that won't make him run to wikipedia. (Speaking of wikipedia, here is the like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_assistant As for clients coming to you...wow...that sounds like a GCE (gross conceptual error). I do not know many businesses where the customers just "walked in the door" the second they opened. I'm sure it has happened...but not very often. Good luck, I hope he comes around!
  14. Expanding to Second Life is like opening a business where everything is free. Unless your client already has people in Second Life that want to use what he is offering, I would stay far, far away from it. Look up the following companies in Second Life: Nike, Coke, Pepsi, Subaru, Ford. They all have amazing Second Life presence. Yet all of their Second Life sites are empty. This is after spending millions of $ in research and specially targeted advertising. Unless you have even more money, or some amazingly huge reason to feel you will do better than their major corporations, I would stay far, far away from marketing through Second Life. It just isn't worth the expenditure.
  15. I agree with you, stay with XP if you can. However, some people NEED Direct X 10....Microsoft really should back down and put out a version for XP, but since it is the only thing selling Vista these days, they probably won't.
  16. I am personally partial to the HD DVD format. I was really sad to see it lose the war. Yes, Blu Ray 2.0 will add a lot of functionality, however, HD DVD already HAD that functionality. That said, HD DVD was doomed the day Sony put the Blu Ray in its PS3. You just cannot beat a ready made install base when going to market. The PS3 has taken a beating in the gaming console wars so far, but I am sure that Sony already feels like it did its real job, which was to establish Blu Ray in the marketplace. As for UnBox being the wave of the future, I would agree except for one thing. The Net Neutrality Act. If this passed, you can pretty much kiss an affordable UnBox goodbye. For those of you that do not know, the Net Neutrality Act will allow the big telecoms and cable companies to decide who gets how much internet access. It also allows them to determine what you can browse on the web. In the case of movie rentals, lets say Amazon wins the contract with Time Warner, but NetFlix wins the contract with SBC. If your on Time Warner, you could get UnBox no problem, but would have to pay a premium to be able to connect to NetFlix (if they allowed you at all). Basically, the Net Neutrality Act takes the internet away from the people, and gives it to big businesses. So is UnBox the wave of the future? It could be unless the politicians mess it up for everyone.
  17. Awesome post! I make no secret of the fact that Candy is great at keeping an eye on the big picture. Definately better than me. I think that it shows up a lot in OffAssist as well as in our home life. No way we would make it without her!
  18. I am from a completely opposite school of thought: You should NEVER reformat your harddrive except due to catastrophic failure. There are little things you can do every month to make sure your computer stays running its best. Defragging your hard drive is the best and simplest thing you can do. The next is clearing your internet cache of unneeded files. A couple of tips that will prevent those "bits and pieces" of files that can clog your PC: Don't install it if you don't need it. Keep your Firewall up 24/7. Do not install programs that offer "FREE" toolbars. Never open attachments that you don't know what they are. That said: Always keep a fresh back up of your hard drive handy. Oh, and for those times when things just "dissappear" on you, Windows has a built in recovery feature. Just use "System Restore" to take your computers registry back to before it stopped working on you. I used to hate System Restore, but I've found it to be very useful when you system develops its own personality.
  19. Well, I shared a room with my brother, who threw a fit if anything "geeky" was evident in the room. Then I joined the Navy, and no decorations were allowed. Then I got married and because I was at sea most of the time, I let her personality rule the decorating of the house. So, now I have my own office. Finally, a bit of my personality can come out. I'd LOVE to see a 14 year old that can afford all the CRAP I have in my office hahahaha.... Some day I'll finish it. I think THAT is the true mark of a man's office. It is a work in progress. Women's offices go from one "finished state" to the next. But men's are always somewhere in between.
  20. I would recommend that your client get an IT pro to com fix their network. Not knowing your own router password or how your firewall is set up can be dangerous. I agree with not hitting the reset button, at best you'll open them up completely to the internet, at worst you'll completely knock out their internet access. Depending on their firewall settings (which they don't know) Logmein might be a solution to at least let you get to work. However, the problem goes much deeper. A local IT professional should be easy to find, and in this day and age, cheap to get to do a house call. Get them to fix their other problems first, or you could be opening yourself to a world of hurt later on. Tom Beauchamp OffAssist
  21. Do you folks remember when XP first came out? I heard a lot of the same complaints then that I am hearing about Vista now. Well, SP1 fixed XP. Microsoft has now released SP1 for Vista and my clients are reporting that it has fixed most (if not all) of their issues. Add to this the fact that all major hardware vendors now supply drivers for Vista, and it may be time to look to upgrade. If you are buying a new computer, it is a very good idea to get Vista installed on it. First, it will come loaded with all the drivers Vista needs to work fine on it. Second, Microsoft is going to stop all support for XP come July of 2008. Back when XP took over from 98 I tried to stay on 98 and quickly came to realize that all software manufacturers follow Microsoft. Ramona: HP has released a new "Universal Printer Driver" for Vista and XP for all of their printers. This includes nearly all of their printers released in the last 8 years. So if that was all that was keeping you from Vista, you might want to give it a shot. As always: backup your computer completely before making any major changes. Just remember: OSes will change. You don't want to be an early adopter, but you do not want to wait too long either. With SP1 now released and many of the early problems with Vista fixed, you may want to start taking a look at an upgrade. Rumor has it that Microsoft is going to extend support for XP to Dec 2008. I would recommend using the OS for no longer than 6 months past the date it was discontinued. Just because MS stops working on an OS doesn't mean others stop looking for ways to break it. Just my $.02 Tom Beauchamp
  22. I couldn't disagree with you more. Here is a great reference that I often pass along to others: http://ask-leo.com/just_how_secure_is_email_anyway.html Yes, it is true that your e-mail passes through 15-20 pieces of equipment before it gets where it is going. Maybe even more. However, these "computers" your e-mail is passing through is not sitting on some "hackers" desk. It is in a server room at a telecom or ISP. Human beings are not sitting there watching a "Matrix" like screen of data trying to capture credit card info. The only people truly at risk are those that have been targeted by hackers for one reason or another. All in all, I would say that the chances of your one e-mail that contains sensitive data being intercepted by a malicious person are far below 1/2 a percent. I'd say they are around the odds of winning the lottery. That is not to say it couldn't happen. It just is not very likely. I think the articles says it best: "So the first question you need to ask yourself is "am I really a target"? Most people are not. Most business are not. Many might think they are, but in reality, no one cares."
  23. I think everyone is looking at this from exactly the right point of view. Yes, giving out your credit card information and other private details can be scary. But just because it was done through e-mail does not make it any scarier than any other time. First off: You e-mail IS encrypted. Yes, it is a fairly easy encryption to break, but someone would have to be looking for it at your ISP for it to get stolen. This is much less likely than your pizza guy mentioned above using your credit card number to buy something off Amazon.com. So that leaves us with my second point: You information if more likely to get stolen while you are typing it in, than if it was sent to you in a file. Why? Key loggers are a fairly popular "hacker" tool these days. You download some cute little game, or something you think is a small business tool. Instead, it is logging every key stroke you make. This is one reason it is important to keep your anti-virus and other spyware tools up to date. So, depending on how well you maintain your anti-hacking tools, what your customer did might actually be safer than you getting it over the phone and typing it in. Yes, it is a little far fetched, but not as much as you might think.
  24. Hmm..they way they wrote that is really odd. I would actually say "yes". Just to be safe, you could always give them a call.
  25. Candy, I'm with you . I don't enjoy cooking. I'll clean, do laundry, and even do windows. That's it! In my perfect kitchen, I would like a "Drive through window". Seriously...I like to grill out..but it is a pain going around through the house to get something. A nice little window that Candy or someone could hand me the vege's or whatever... Oh, and a "Two-way" Fridge....so I can load it from in the house, but it can be opened from outside. Oh...and an extra oven...how exactly am I supposed to bake potatos, a casserole, and bread all at the same time? I know..I know..microwave....<yuck>
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