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The Tech Report

Tech Talk With Greg Bailey

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Most parents today do what they can to protect their children from dangerous or inappropriate sources on the Internet. But are they doing what it takes to protect themselves? Not from chatting with strangers, but from malicious users who want to steal information.

The gut-wrenching feeling of trying to access an account and getting constant “Incorrect password” messages although you are certain that you are typing it correct can be painful. It becomes downright severe when the importance of the account moves from something trivial like a message board account to something more serious like a Facebook or email account, or even an online banking account.

There are several misconceptions surrounding online identity theft, account security, and similar issues. First of all, if someone has gotten access to one of your accounts, it is unlikely that the account was actually “hacked”.

What happens much more often is that information associated with the account was somehow found out by the interloper. This is much easier than it seems.

For example, consider the minor fiasco of Sarah Palin’s email account being “hacked.”

To the uninitiated, the scenario can conjure images of some kind of “super hacker,” using a souped up machine and typing at an obscene rate while text as indecipherable as the Matrix flies by on the screen.

The truth is much more mundane, at least according to the culprit. If he is to be believed, all that he had to do to gain access to Palin’s account was reset her account’s password. This can be done very easily, as long as you can answer the security question associated with the account. In Palin’s case, the answer to her security question, “Where did you meet your husband?” was found simply by using Google search.

The security question is something that most popular email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc) have you fill out when you make your account.

If you cannot remember your password for whatever reason, you can click the “I forgot my password” link on the sign-in screen. From there, you type in the account name, and then if you answer the question correctly, you can change the password to whatever you want.

I tried to do this on an old AOL account I’d made a few years back and haven’t touched since. The security question associated with the account? “Where did you grow up?” I answered with the name of my hometown, and my full name.

And that was it, I was now allowed to change my password to whatever I wanted, without logging in to the account or needing the original password.

I need to stress just how easy this was. The hardest part of changing my e-mail account password through “I forgot my password” was verifying that I was a human by entering letters from an image. The process took two minutes, and anyone who knows me or is willing to do a quick search on my name would have been able to get access to the account. Once I realized this, I started checking my other e-mail accounts. Some of them were secure, but one in particular had the question “What is the name of my school?”, the same question that allowed Palin’s e-mail to be compromised. I changed it quickly.

This should raise the obvious question: How secure is my email account? If you aren’t sure, I would highly recommend checking to see what your security question is. If you don’t know how to find it, you can use the “I forgot my password” option, and answer the prompts until you are asked the answer to your question. Once you see it, if it is a question that anyone could find the answer to if they looked for it, you should change it immediately. If you can’t figure out how to change it check the help information on the website, or simply Google “How do I change the security question on my ____ account?” to find out how.

Don’t make it easy for others to hi-jack your email acount.

This article is the first in a series devoted to Internet security, and learning how to keep you and your information safe.

Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to greg@bpcmediaworks.com

Tech Talk

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Elmer Thomas Jr.
Lucky Gmail users have been able to use these features for some time now, while us Google Apps (www.google.com/a)  users have been quietly waiting. Personally, I'm glad Google took the time to get the features working flawlessly before deploying for business use. After spending some time understanding the new features, I have found some great new productivity enhancements to share.

Bookmark Emails and Searches

This is by far my favorite feature. Granted, you can usually find the email you need with a well crafted search or label. However, being able to bookmark a message is much faster when combined with RememberTheMilk.com.  Now, I can attach that well crafted search or an individual email directly to an item in my to do list, making it much easier to put that to do item in the proper context.

Colored Message Labels

Ever since I have been using a filter (Gmail allows you to create email filters) + label (you can attach a label to emails rather than put them in a folder) solution, I have accumulated a massive amount of labels. Using label color coding I can now assign the key labels I need to check regularly, bright red. That helps save time when scanning through hundreds of labels.

Updated Contact Manager

If Google would create a reliable synchronization tool that works with my Pocket PC, as well as an import tool from other popular networks, I just might dump Plaxo.com and keep it "Google simple". Until then, Plaxo.com is my preferred contact management solution.

Chat From the Browser

With this feature you can chat instantly with other Gmail users directly from your inbox. This adds convenience to instant messaging. I like not having to leave my inbox to hold a chat (or chats).

Google Sites

At first I thought this was just an update to their web builder tool. I was pleasantly surprised to find a cool intranet building tool. This will serve as a better central gateway for our team, instead of the Google Apps start page (I prefer using .com with my personal account because of greater flexibility).

The best feature of Google Sites for me, is the ability to share uploaded files. So now I can finally store all my documents in one place and Google will take care of managing the various versions.

Best of all... these services are all free!

Elmer Thomas Jr. is Co-founder of IER Solutions, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide and ATL Innovations, Inc., an online innovation company. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at ThinkingSerious.com.


How to Get Small Amounts of Funding for Non-Profits

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Elmer Thomas Jr.
Many people I have talked with about non-profit fundraising seem to focus on the large sponsorship opportunities. While that is the ultimate goal, there are many opportunities to get help at smaller levels that can eventually lead to the large sponsorships. If you have a non-profit and your fundraising is stalled, read on.

Create the Value Proposition

Understand what value is present for both the sponsor and the people the non-profit serves. Here are some items to consider:

  • What will you offer the sponsor?
  • Number of eyeballs
  • Exposure to influential people and media
  • Branding
  • Generate a book of testimonials and make it readily available to the sponsor.
  • Tailor your message to the sponsor in terms of the benefit to the sponsor.
  • Have a list of testimonials from previous sponsors.
  • Mention current sponsors.
  • Clearly explain what the sponsorship will be used for.

Build Your List

Based on the value proposition, you are now ready to build a list of potential sponsors. Here are some suggestions for building that list:

  • Previous sponsors.
  • Call previous sponsors and ask for referrals.
  • Visit online communities that relate to your value proposition and see who is sponsoring them.
  • Ask non-profits that are working toward your same goals about who is sponsoring them.
  • Use press releases < http://tinyurl.com/4rxzey  > to call for sponsors and direct them to your website (or phone number) where they can enter their information.

Create a Script

I don't recommend that you read from a script when calling on potential sponsors; however, it will be helpful to write out what you want to say. Write several different scripts with the same underlying message.

Practice

Once you have written out your scripts, memorize them and practice in front of the mirror. Be sure to smile, standing up can help also (use this method when making the actual calls also). Then call on some friends and ask them for a critique as you "cold call" them.

Review ideas about taking the cold out of cold calls < http://tinyurl.com/4nqpwz />.

Execute & Record

Before you begin calling, use a CRM system < http://tinyurl.com/8mvkn > to help you manage. In this case, I recommend ZohoCRM < http://www.zohocrm.com  > because it is free for three users and has all the power you need. If that sounds daunting, then start with a simple spreadsheet < http://docs.google.com  >.

Here are some key data points that you need to record for each call:

  • Contact information
  • Name and contact information of the decision maker
  • Script used
  • Result of call
  • Follow up date

At the end of each day, review your notes, and think of ways that you can improve.

Follow Up

Persistence and determination can go a long way in making things happen. Make sure to set a contact follow up date in your system < http://tinyurl.com/3xkbnc  > after each call. Remember that timing is key. Many times the person you are talking to may be under serious stress or simply just in a bad mood.

Elmer Thomas Jr. is Co-founder of IER Solutions, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide and ATL Innovations, Inc., an online innovation company. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at ThinkingSerious.com.


Send E-mail at Predefined Times Using Free Tools

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I am a fan of using Gmail http://marketing.about.com/cs/directmarketing/a/dripmktg.htm  for all of my e-mail needs, in particular, the Google Apps http://www.google.com/a version. However, there is one thing that Gmail is missing that I find essential for increasing e-mail productivity. How do you send an e-mail at a specific time in the future? This blog post will show you how to do that using free tools. Enjoy!

First the bad news, Gmail can not do this. I suggest that all who read this send a request  http://mail.google.com/support/bin/request.py?contact_type=suggest  to the Gmail support team to add this feature natively to Gmail.

Now for the good news, Gmail has implemented IMAP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Message_Access_Protocol  which is a feature that allows us to utilize other free e-mail tools to send e-mails at a predetermined specified time.

First download and install Thunderbird http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/ , then connect to your GMail account using IMAP http://lifehacker.com/software/geek-to-live/turn-thunderbird-into-the-ultimate-gmail-imap-client-314574.php , then follow this guide http://www.wikihow.com/Send-an-Email-at-a-Specific-Time-in-the-Future-Using-Mozilla-Thunderbird.  and you are done!

Here are some ideas for using this new tool:

  • Send reminders to yourself or your staff for the day, week, month or year.
  • Implement a drip marketing http://marketing.about.com/cs/directmarketing/a/dripmktg.htm  campaign.
  • Create all your happy birthday emails one year in advance.
  • Send status report requests on projects that you have delegated.
  • Set up a home and car maintenance schedule.
  • Send inspirational pictures and quotes to yourself throughout the week.
  • Pick out four pieces of information of great value to someone and send them out once a week.

There is one big downside to this method. Since Thunderbird operates on your local computer, the computer must be turned on at the time the email is to be sent.

There is a web based solution available that allows you to send predefined e-mails called TimeCave http://www.timecave.com/ >; however, it does not interface with GMail.

Elmer Thomas Jr. is Co-founder of IER Solutions, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide and ThemBid.com, a service offering free advertising for businesses and makes finding services and products easy for consumers. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at ElmerThomas.com.  


Helping Small Businesses and Organizations Bridge the Digital Divide

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I had the great fortune of spending some time with Ann Convery, who taught me some great tools for maximizing my sales techniques from a public relations perspective. Following are some basic fundamentals followed by an exercise that you can apply to your business with great effect right now!

Fundamental Points

  • The average human attention span is 9 seconds.
  • To achieve powerful influence, you must speak to emotional needs.
  • The results you provide should be dollarized and quantified for maximum effect.
  • The goal of any encounter is to leave your audience hungry and wanting more, because curiosity is the single biggest factor in sales.
  • Remember the Zygarnik Effect: People remember incomplete tasks better than completed ones.
  • Human beings are about pattern recognition, you must effect a pattern interrupt to be effective.
  • Remember that your audience is thinking: What's in it for me?
  • Stop using un-hearable words (jargon, like domain names and search engine optimization). Instead use trigger words.
  • Following are some examples of trigger words:
  • Mother, childhood, baby, family, safe and sound, money, wealth, millionaire, debt and bankruptcy
  • Understand the 12-12-12 rule:
  • 12 feet - you decide who the person is.
  • 12 inches - you make up your mind.
  • 12 words - you write them off.
  • Project the image you want or others will build one for you. 93% of the initial perception is based on appearance.
  • Educating others is a top tier selling tool.
  • For example, if you were a moving company you could write an article about "15 Questions to Ask Your Moving Company"
  • Remember that you are selling money.
  • Don't label yourself... "I am", instead use: I transform, I accelerate, I teach, I discover or I create.
  • Tie what you do to money, love, health or time.
  • Facts tell, but stories sell.
  • If someone already has the service you provide, implant the notion that if they are not flying with you, they are not flying first class.

An Exercise

Take some time to create a statement about your business that speaks directly to the intended customer that is either or both quantified and dollarized.

Here are some examples:

Most people have to work until July until they start making money. I teach people to start making money in 60 days.

I teach people not to use their insurance. I usually save people from $12,000 to $30,000 in the initial meeting. We have already saved our clients over 40 billion dollars in the last 20 years.

I teach people 5 secrets of wealth and cash flow so thay can leverage other people's money and hold on to more of their own.

I can increase your web traffic up to 32% in 60 days.

We just took a company from 4 million to 103 million in 36 months.

This one is not quantified or dollarized, but I like it: They call me when the bank says no.

Elmer Thomas Jr. is Co-founder of IER Solutions, Inc., an award winning web and software development company dedicated to bridging the digital divide and ThemBid.com, a service offering free advertising for businesses and makes finding services and products easy for consumers. You can find out more about Mr. Thomas at ElmerThomas.com.  

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