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Technology is a wonderful thing. It makes our life easier in so many ways. However, taking technology shortcuts does not make your life easier in the long run. This month's RoadMap looks at several dangerous technology pitfalls and explains what to do to avoid getting trapped. 

This month Tech Tutor alerts you to the implications of the new Facebook security settings that went into effect in December. It also provides a link to an article that helps you decide on appropriate  Facebook security settings.

With this issue of Tech Tips we are moving to a quarterly publication schedule.  We have heard you. You are busy and your inbox is always full. We hope that this schedule will better meet your needs. Please send feedback to let us know what you think.
RoadMap: Avoid These Technology Pitfalls
Everyone is busy. We are all doing more with less in our work lives. Head count is down and we are expected to do everything we did before and more. Working in this environment, it is tempting to take every available shortcut to help save keystrokes and complete our tasks more quickly so that we can move on to the next item on our to do list.

Unfortunately, technology shortcuts are NOT time savers. They are, in fact, pitfalls that can cause hours of extra work.

1. Saving a document directly to an external drive
When creating a new document, save it to your hard drive first, before you save it to an external drive. If you do not have a good copy of your document, you can lose all of your hard work in an instant. If your connection to the external drive is interrupted while you are saving the document or if the document becomes corrupted in some other way, you will not be able to open the document on the external drive. Without a copy of your document on your hard drive, you will have to recreate the document from scratch.

2. Working directly on an attached email file
When you receive a document in email that needs to be changed and sent to others, save it to a non-temporary folder on your hard drive before doing any work on it. Yes, you can make changes to the document in email , you can save your changes and even open the document again and see the changes. However, when you send that changed document to someone else, chances are that your changes will be ignored and your recipient will receive the original unchanged document. To ensure that the correct version of the document is sent, save it first, make your changes and upload the revised file when you are ready to send it on to the next recipient.

3. Sending a file in an incompatible format
Most businesses use Microsoft Office products, however, all have not yet migrated to Office 2007, so everyone cannot read docx files. A quick check with your recipient will give you the information you need to ensure that he will be able to work with the first file you send him. If your recipient does not need to make changes to the file, 
consider sending it as a PDF, which anyone can read.  There are many free PDF converters available on the Internet. One I like is PDF995.

4. Sending a file from an uncommon application
Likewise, if your software is not generally used by others, send the file to them in PDF format so that they will be able to read the file. Alternatively, if your software has a viewer, send a copy of the viewer to the recipient so that she can view the file.

5. Relying on batteries
Never operate your equipment on battery power when electric power is available...especially when you are on the road. Even if your battery is showing 100%, take a second to plug your device into the outlet and run with electricity. You never know when an outlet may not be available where you expected it to be. Be safe...don't run your battery down if you don't have to.

6. Entering a bad link
When sending links or including them in documents, check them. Make sure that there are no typos and that the link works. One easy way to make sure that you are including the correct link is to navigate to the web site and then copy the URL and paste it into your document. If you must type the link, make sure that you test it yourself to ensure that it goes where it is supposed to go.

7. Being careless with passwords
A strong password keeps your data safe and your private information out of the wrong hands. Make sure that you create strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed by others. Don't use the same password over and over again. And, above all, do not write your password on a slip of paper and put it under your key board or in some other easily accessible place. Make sure that others cannot obtain your password.

8. Failing to secure your wireless network
Another common security shortcut is creating a wireless network and not taking the time to secure it. This is a very dangerous practice because all data that you transmit over an unsecured wireless network can be intercepted by anyone within range of the network.Take a few minutes and lock down your network to keep your private information out of the wrong hands.

9. Failing to document the fix to a problem you encounter
When you have a technical issue, you often spend hours fixing the problem. Take a few minutes, once the problem is solved, to document what you did to fix it. You do not want to have to reinvent the wheel the next time you have to fix the same exact problem. Especially if it does not occur often, you will be very glad to have a document which outlines the steps you need to follow to fix the problem.
SmartSite Technology serves as a virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations.  We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations. 
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Dixie Groutt
SmartSite Technology
Copyright 2009 SmartSite Technology. All rights reserved.
Winter 2010
In This Issue
RoadMap: Avoid These Technology Pitfalls
Your Tech Tutor Says...

Check Your Facebook Security Settings

tutor pic number 1

In December, Facebook made a series of bold and controversial changes regarding the nature of its users' privacy . Depending upon how you answered certain questions when prompted by the Facebook transition tool, you may have retained the privacy settings that you had set prior to December 2009. However, it would be prudent to take a few minutes to check your Facebook privacy settings to ensure that they are set the way you want them to be.

Here is a link to an article in the New York Times that identifies the three Facebook privacy settings you need to check now. The article also explains how to set each one to achieve the level of privacy you want.
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