Monthly Archives: June 2007

Get the Message?

Now I’ve managed to get my new mobile phone to access my email, I thought I would share how I set up my email because I am feeling a bit chuffed with myself.

First, I have a number of different email addresses:

adsl0abc@tpg.com.au
bml@lewisfamily.com.au
newsfeed@churchillclub.org.au
bml@churchillclub.org.au

So why do I have all these email addresses?

1. The ugly looking email address at the top was given to me by my ISP. I never use it because it’s ugly and therefore hard to remember/get right; and it makes changing from my ISP a hassle if I am using their email system.

2. The lewisfamily address is for my friends and family. They know this is my address no matter which ISP I am with and I will have it forever. I have set up my work computer to download content from the mailbox, but not delete it. I have set up my home computer to download emails, then delete them from the mailbox. This is so I know what is going on while I am at work, even though the proper place for dealing with these emails is at home.

3. The newsfeed@churchillclub address is for all the newsfeeds I sign up to. This separates the emails full of general stuff, from the emails that want me to do something.

4. The bml@churchillclub address is the one I use for important emails in regards to work. My home computer is set up to download from this mailbox but not delete, so I can keep up to date at home with what’s going on without having to address it.

The cool thing about having newsfeeds going to a different mailbox than emails sent specifically to me is that when I am out and about I can check if any important email has come in, without getting the clutter of 20 different newsfeed items. My mobile phone is set up to download but not delete from my bml@churchillclub mailbox only.

Now I think that’s clever.

(BTW, if you try to send an email to any of the above addresses, don’t bother: it will bounce. I have changed them slightly so I don’t end up with a whole lot of spam.)

Signature or Mental Blocks

The other day I got an email from Ausindustry that stated at the bottom:

“The information contained in this e-mail, and any attachments to it, is intended for the use of the addressee and is confidential. If you are not the intended recipient you must not use, disclose, read, forward, copy or retain any of the information. If you received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail or telephone.

The Commonwealth does not warrant that any attachments are free from viruses or any other defects. You assume all liability for any loss, damage or other consequences which may arise from opening or using the attachments.

The security of emails transmitted in an unencrypted environment cannot be guaranteed. By forwarding or replying to this email, you acknowledge and accept these risks. “

Typical stuff that lawyers write, with a very aggressive tone “you must not use” etc. Now I am sure that lawyers will argue that clauses like this at the bottom will put you on notice that information contained may result from a breach of confidence.

Although I am not a lawyer, I note that there is very little case law in this area, and virtually nothing since the advent of the internet, and certainly nothing in Australia. I would also suggest that I wasn’t aware of any of the conditions, until I received the email and had read all the way to the bottom. And it seems to me that clause would only be tested in extremely rare circumstances, as it would be difficult to prove, and be a protracted expensive matter.

So I’m not going to argue from a legal point of view that the clause is stupid. What I will do is argue from an Entrepreneur’s point of view. What a waste of opportunity! Why not send emails with signature blocks that benefit you 99.999% of the time, rather than protect you 0.001% of the time.

When I get an email, I like to know whom its from and what their contact details are so I can call them if I need to discuss an issue. There’s nothing worse than getting an email from someone, and then having to look them up in the whitepages or their companies website before you respond to them. So please, when you send me an email, make sure all your contact details are in your signature block.

Secondly, everytime you contact someone by email, its an opportunity to promote your company, products or services. Searching through my sent mail folder, it appears I send around 20 emails a day (excluding mail outs). This is 100 people a week that I am touching, or roughly 400 a month. Why wouldn’t I be advertising my services?

This blog was written by:

Brendan Lewis
Executive Director, The Churchill Club Ltd
7 Leveson Street, North Melbourne, 3051, Victoria, Australia
Tel: 03 9329 8411, Fax: 03 9329 9939, Mob: 0412 039 495, skype: brendanlewis24
Email: blewis@churchillclub.org.au, Web: www.churchillclub.org.au
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Upcoming Events Include:
19th July 2007 – Melbourne – Entrepreneurship : Australian Web 2.0 Success
23rd August 2007 – Melbourne – Entrepreneurship : Killer Business Models

The Internet Thingy’s not working

I don’t know the answer to any computer problems! I keep telling my family this, but it doesn’t stop them phoning me constantly when their computer stops doing what it should.I mostly leave them disappointed. This is because I am not good figuring out the right answer, first time over the phone. If I start to ask questions, there always seems to be a slightly disappointed voice on the other end saying, “it’s OK if you don’t know, I’ll ask the guy at work”.

Now this is quite unfair because the guy at work has the same problem as me: he doesn’t know the answer, but he has one major advantage over me – he gets the opportunity to solve the problem.

That’s right, I don’t know the answers to any computer problems. What I do know is a way of quickly working out answers.

Problems like not getting internet access, which is normally described to me as “the internet thingy’s not working”.

The problem could be with:

  1. The program you are using (eg, Internet Explorer).
  2. Your network adapter (the service that allows you to communicate with your network).
  3. The firewall software on your computer.
  4. Your network card (the piece of hardware with flashing lights that your network cable plugs into).
  5. Your local area network (normally the blue cables running around your office).
  6. Any hubs or switches on your network.
  7. Your gateway to the internet (the ADSL modem, router or firewall).
  8. The connection between your gateway and your ISP (the telephone lines).
  9. The connection between your ISP and the internet.
  10. The cables between Australia and overseas.

How am I expected to figure this out first time over the phone? Computers are complex things. Just because things have become easier to use doesn’t mean they are simpler.

Remember, an automatic car is more complicated than a manual, even though it’s easier to drive. Simplicity of user interface comes at a cost behind the scenes.

But here’s what I nomally do when faced with “the internet thingy’s not working”. I could call it a binary search skewed by expert knowledge, but it’s probably easier to call it a checklist.

1. Ask someone else on your network if they can access the internet.

If the answer is yes: aha, the problem is probably in your computer. If no, your network guy should be brought in to solve the problem.

2. Check whether the blue cables plugged into your computer are actually pushed in and have “clicked”.

3. If you are connected to the rest of your network via a hub or switch, make sure there are flashing lights on the front of it. (Powercords regularly get kicked out).

4. If you are working from home, check to make sure your ADSL modem or router has lights flickering on the front of it.

5. If everything is OK at a physical level, check to see whether other programs can access the internet. Can you still get email?

6. If nothing can access the internet, try this: restart your computer. This does wonders in a Windows environment.

7. There are lots more tricks up my sleeve to solve the problem, but if you have got this far and still can’t figure it out, then ring for the computer guy.

Unless of course you are a member of my family. In that case take a breath, remind yourself that Brendan doesn’t enjoy providing free computer advice over the phone and needs you to be really specific if he is going to help you.

Its cool and its free

Here’s a cool piece of software that can save you money.Most small office networks have a file server. Now you can buy a monitor for that computer, which will rarely be turned on, or you can use remote control software to operate the computer, without having to have a monitor or waste time moving over to the computer to operate it.This remote control software is also handy in situations where you may want to have a look at a computer that you are nowhere near (or even your home computer). It’s a great tool for troubleshooting.

Anyway, the product, PCAnywhere, has been around forever. What you probably don’t know is that for small solutions, you can use a product called VNC for free. That’s right: free, as in it costs you nothing.

Why would VNC do this? So if you want to use their bigger solutions, you will be already on their path and be happy to pay for an upgrade. But for most small users, this isn’t going to happen.

When installing VNC, you have to install it on two computers (kind of obvious). One is the server – the one your want to control. The other computer is setup to be the viewer – the computer you use to do the controlling.

Now you can achieve the same solution using Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop in Windows. Windows Remote solution under Windows XP is accessed via Control Panel>System>Remote.

However, both computers have to be using the correct version of Windows, and it’s a lot harder to connect up this solution when the computers reside on different networks. Effectively, it means that you are unlikely to get it going without assistance.

VNC, however, works across any TCP/IP network. Yes, the internet is a TCP/IP network. Plus it comes in lots of different flavours, including Windows, Linux and even a Java-based version that runs on almost anything.

VNC is available at www.realnvc.com