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3rd Story from Kids Hope United

This is the 3rd story in our 3-part series of profiles of success from the efforts of Kids Hope United, a private, nonprofit human service organization dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families. It currently serves 15,000 children nationwide. With our help, and hopefully yours, it can serve 15,001 or 15,002 or 16,000...maybe.

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Here is the story of Nicole:

Child Development/Counseling/Parent Group

Nicole, a single mom, had her hands full with her 3-year-old son, James. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and had severe behavior issues.

Nicole enrolled James in the Busy Bee Children’s Center, but pulled him out after a few months because she was struggling with the tuition. She tried less-expensive programs in the area, but found that they would not put up with James’ aggressive behavior.

Nicole and James quickly returned to Busy Bee.

Nicole did not qualify for subsidized tuition, but Kids Hope United was able to provide a variety of intervention services at no cost. Counselors began working with James, and Nicole joined the Parent Group, a weekly support group.

During the last year, James’ behavior has drastically improved. He is now enrolled in Busy Bee’s Pre-Kindergarten program and will begin pubic school in the fall.

It's a simple story needing only 142 words. What's not said is the true power of the story. The time and struggle and passion and persistence by Nicole to find a future for her son. Only a parent. And walking side-by-side with her are some of the intervention services and counselors provided by Kids Hope United. For free. All possible from the donations and volunteers working with Kids Hope United.

There are many such stories happening through the efforts of the Kids Hope United organization.

There are 2 ways to help expand the reach of Kids Hope United. You can donate. You can volunteer ( No act of kindness is too small. - Mother Teresa)

With your help and our help, there can be many more such stories. And maybe one or two (hundred?) more Nicole and James stories can be shared next year.

Kids Hope United. is one customer non-profit organization we support through our Corporate Philanthropy - 2007 program.

March 28, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tips to Clean the Inside of Your Computer

Last week we covered cleaning the external portion of your computer.

This month we are going to open it up and clean out the inside. This will be a two-part cleaning.         

1) Clean the inside of the computer case.

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2) Clean your hard drive.

(For PC owners, only. We're PC users. But we'll post a similar article for MACs if someone presents a well-written one for our customers. )

Cleaning the inside of the case. 

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Now we have to be extremely careful. Your computer’s worst enemies are heat, moisture and static electricity. So select a place away from heat and water sources and preferably a place where you will not be standing on carpet. I use my kitchen table.

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There are 2 basic types of computers cases. The first type has Philips head screws, usually 5 or 6. So you will need a Phillips screwdriver to remove them. Remove the screws and slide the case cover off.

The other type is called “Zero Tool” case. There are usually 2 buttons, one on each side of the case, press them in and the case cover will slide off.

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Once you get the cover off, be careful not to touch any of the internal components. You could still have static electricity on you.

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You can purchase a grounding strap from a computer store. I got mine at Radio Shack.

We will only need 2 things to clean out the case, a can of compressed air and a vacuum cleaner.  I use the upholstery crevice cleaner attachment. ( Of course you can purchase a small computer vacuum designed for this at a computer store.)

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Carefully vacuum out any cobwebs and dust from the inside of the computer. Be very careful around the wires and components but try to be as thorough as possible.

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Next, get your can of compressed air. Use it to blow out all the dust that remains. Pay particular attention to the fans inside. The small one is the CPU fan and the larger one circulates air through the computer. (That’s how the dirt got in there.)

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Limit the bursts of compressed air to a few seconds, 5 or less. 

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Once you are satisfied that you got the bulk of it, replace the cover. And we move on to the next step.

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Cleaning your hard drive

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Your computer's hard drive is the 2nd most used component is your system, after the CPU.

It stores your data and your programs. And if that's not enough...it augments your system memory. We'll lighten it's work load by cleaning it up and organizing it.

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1.    Run disk cleanup. ( These PC-based instructions. Sorry for the limitation.) You can access this by clicking on Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Cleanup. If you have more than one hard drive, select the drive you want to run Disk Cleanup on. Default is C: Then click the OK button. The system will scan your hard drive to see what it can remove. In the next window click the OK button.

2.    Remove old programs. You can access this by clicking on Start -> Settings -> Control Panel -> Add/Remove Programs. Browse through the list in the next window and click on the Remove button for any program that you no longer use. Some of them may ask you to reboot to finish the removal process. Wait until you have removed all the programs you are going to remove. Then reboot. This just saves time.

3.    Defragment your hard drive. You can access this by clicking on Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter. Select your C drive and click Defragment. Over time, your files get spread out in pieces all over the hard drive. This program just gathers all the pieces and puts them back together.

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There! All Done!

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So why do we do these things? We change the oil in our cars. We change the air filter in our furnace.

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We clean our computers.

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Clean oil in our cars helps the engine work better and makes it last longer. A clean air filter improves air flow and helps the furnace operate more efficiently.

A clean computer will last longer and be more reliable.

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So set up a preventative maintenance plan. Clean your computer at least every 4 months. Defragment your hard drive weekly.

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If you have any questions. Please feel free to email me at:

dwhite@conferencecallsunlimited.com

Dana W. White, MSP, MCSE, SSGT USAF (Ret)

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(Legal disclaimer: We hate adding these. But...these are instructions we use here in the office to minimize our network and workstation problems.  We offer them freely on that basis. We make no warranty other than that for their effectiveness, accuracy, safety, usefulness, appropriateness...etc. We don't want to appear callous. But it's your choice to follow them or not. We hope they're helpful. )

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March 22, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monthly Winners

iPOD Winner

The National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS) promotes and assists state agencies in developing effective, efficient service delivery systems that furnish high-quality supports to people with developmental disabilities. In pursuit of this goal, NASDDDS strives to provide member state agencies with timely analyses of federal statutory and regulatory policies that affect people with disabilities; disseminate cutting edge information on state-of-the-art programs and service delivery practices; provide technical assistance and support to member states; and offer a forum for the development of state and national policy initiatives.

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Placement Pros

Placement Pros specializes in recruitment and placement of top quality professionals in clerical, security, insurance, financial, education, legal, hospitality and other industries. Their core competency lies in the placement of temporary, temporary-to-fulltime and fulltime professionals. Founded in 1991, there are 47 offices and over 80 operating divisions around the company.

March 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

2nd Story from Kids Hope United

Kids Hope United is one of the organizations we're sponsoring this year as part of our Corporate Philanthropy - 2007 program.

We posted our first inspiring story of success from Kids Hope United  last week. Here's the 2nd story:

Family Preservation Program

In 2003, Leah was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. Faced with losing her 4- and 5-year -old daughters, Leah entered the Family Preservation Program.

After her first attempt at treatment, Leah’s caseworker found her once again in possession of drugs and helped Leah enroll in intensive rehab and recovery programs. Leah’s caseworker continued to offer support during her treatment, helping her get to counseling, court appointments and doctor visits.

With help from the Family Preservation Program, Leah has maintained sobriety for nearly two years.

She moved in with her parents, attended business school and, in October 2006, received a degree in business administration.

Her daughters are enrolled in Head Start and thriving.

Overcoming methamphetamine has not been easy, but Leah continues striving for a successful career, looking for love and caring for her girls. In every way, Leah is winning the battle over addiction.

Iowa, as many midwestern states are, is a battleground over the scourge of meth addiction. It's a daily news story about families devastated by this highly-addictive and very inexpensive drug. The only solution is drug rehab and counseling programs, not longer sentences. If longer sentences were the cure we'd have no problem with meth addiction. Kids Hope United  is one organization providing the needed rehab programs and personal care that's been shown to be the only solution.

There are 2 ways to help expand the reach of Kids Hope United. You can donate. You can volunteer ( No act of kindness is too small. - Mother Teresa)

With your help and our help, there can be many more such stories.

March 21, 2007 in Philanthropy | Permalink | Comments (1)

Speaker at New Communications Forum

I spoke recently at the New Communications Forum held in Las Vegas, March 6-10.  The Importance of Corporate Culture to the Success of Social Media Programs was the title of my presentation. ( You can listen to the presentation in this MP3 recording.) My host, SNCR research fellow John Cass, and I created a talk-show format where we discussed our corporate culture and how it's allowed us to use social media programs like blogs and podcasts and wikis and videocasts.

We spoke for about an hour to a packed ballroom of about 150 people at 8:30 AM...in Vegas!  That's a testament to the growing desire for knowledge by companies about social media (podcasts, videocasts, blogs and wikis, oh my) and how their power can be put to use for a company's audience, whether internal or external.

I've often said that blogs are the great leveler for competition between large corporate brands with their million dollar ad budgets and smaller companies with their non-existent ad budgets. Blogs allow you to deliver your company's unique message, immediately, directly and with no dilution from any corporate PR-speak an outside agency might bring. A blog allows you to speak directly in your own voice to your customers, prospects and employees. There's no better resource to use to differentiate your company, your offerings, your service, your brand...than a blog. Blogs are also amazingly inexpensive to use.

It's required now to use our company's wiki for all conversations, long-term strategic or short-term and tactical, within our company. We insist upon it with our partners as well. It's power comes from its open structure. It's an easy platform to use to keep everyone involved and working from the same page in a project's discussion.

Such a simple statement. But its impact is profound. Here's why: Everyone on the same page means misunderstandings are minimized. It means silos of power and influence (ie, politics and division) are also minimized. It means bringing everyone's understanding current is a by-product of the online conversation, whether it's an informal Q&A or a formal discussion/debate. It means simpler, more timely project management. It means an easy resource to bring an integrated vision of a company's progress and direction is now available. And it's possible to keep that vision current, from the organic and ongoing nature of the conversation.

Translation: Your mission statement of 5 years ago begins to breathe life again when everyone participates in its creation with every project, every conversation, every discussion of a project's goal, on and on.

Warning: be prepared for your mission statement to change. And that's a good thing. It means your staff is getting engaged, passionate, opinionated....they care.

For our wiki we use the basecamp product from 37Signals. Wikis and their use are a habit that needs to be learned. But the benefits are profound.

Podcast is a resource we offer as a service. It's also a resource we'll use more as the year progresses. we've used it sparingly in the past. Our most recent was a 3-part podcast series on How to Create Word-of-Mouth Advertising for Your Company. You can subscribe to the podcast using any RSS reader  with this link.

Videocasts are also a resource we'll explore in the near future. Videocasts do for video what podcasts do for audio. They syndicate the content so it's pushed to your most avid audience members. That means your podcasts or videocasts are sent automatically to those who choose to subscribe. That makes getting your content, your message, into their RSS readers and MINDS much more convenient for them AND you.

And here's my impression of the event: New Comm Forum: 4 for 4. It was a great event.

March 19, 2007 in The Company | Permalink | Comments (0)

Top 3 Tips for Conference Calling Success

A quick refresher of our Top - 3 Tips for A Better Conference Call:

Tip #3: Be Prompt

Tip # 2: Prepare an Agenda

Tip #1: Remind Your Audience Regularly

Click on the titles of each tip to see the full text of the post.

March 16, 2007 in Conference Calling Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spring Cleaning Your Computer

Spring officially arrives next week. But temps are already spring-like. That prompted us to remind you to Spring Clean Your Computer. This is a post we originally published in 2005. but it's advice rings true today:

You regularly clean and maintain your car, right? Changing the oil, rotating the tires, checking the belts (You DO do that, don’t you?). You even wash it on occasion!  But most of us depend as much if not more on our computers for our livelihood than our cars. And I bet you never, ever, gave a thought to cleaning your computer!

This article will walk you through the steps to clean the outside of your computer including: monitor, ‘box’, keyboard and mouse.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO CLEAN YOUR COMPUTER?
Your working environment determines the needed frequency for cleaning your computer. Here’s a general rule:

Clean your computer every 2-6 months. Here’s a rough definition for the 2 extreme work environments. Most of you will find your work environment falls somewhere in this range.

  • Every 2 months - You smoke, have pets around or work in a factory environment.
  • Every 5 Months – You don’t smoke, don’t have pets in your office, you’re the sole user and you work in a standard office building setting.
  • Eating and drinking around your computer: We all do it. It’s not a good habit. Here’s why: Food in Keyboard or Mouse: VERY bad. Liquid in keyboards? VERY, VERY bad.

GENERAL TIPS

  • Always turn off your computer first.
  • When using a vacuum to suck up dirt, dust, or hair be cautious not to suck up any removable parts.
  • Never spray or squirt any type of liquid onto any computer component. If a spray is needed spray the liquid onto a cloth and then use that cloth to rub down the component.
  • Check your allergies. Check your allergies first before using any cleaning solvents.

EQUIPMENT NEEDED

You can go to any computer store and purchase expensive cleaning kits, but most people have the basic cleaning tools around their house or office.

  • Cloth - A lint-free cloth is the best tool used when rubbing down a component.
  • Water or rubbing alcohol - When moistening a cloth it is best to use water or rubbing alcohol. Other solvents may be bad for the plastics.
  • Vacuum - Sucking the dust, dirt, hair, cigarette particles, and other particles out of a computer can be one of the best methods of cleaning a computer. Over time these items can restrict the airflow in a computer and cause circuitry to corrode.
  • Cotton swabs - Cotton swaps moistened with rubbing alcohol or water are excellent tools for wiping hard to reach areas in your keyboard, mouse, and other locations.
  • Can of Compressed Air – These can be obtained from any computer store and a lot of the major chain retail stores.

So let’s get started.

First, we will clean the CASE.
The plastic case that houses the PC components can be cleaned with a lint free cloth that has been slightly dampened with water. For stubborn stains, add a little household detergent to the cloth. It is recommended that you never use a solvent cleaner on plastics. Next, make sure all vents and air holes are free of hair and lint by rubbing a cloth over the holes and vents. It is also helpful to take a vacuum around each of the hole, vents, and crevices on the computer.

Now for the MONITOR.
The monitor screen can be cleaned with ordinary household glass cleaner. I use the Windex Wipes. Be sure to remove power from the monitor and spray the cleaner onto a lint free cloth so the fluid doesn't leak into the electrical components inside the monitor. Vacuum off any dust that has settled on top of the monitor, and make sure no books or papers have been placed on the air vents. Obstructed monitor vents can cause the monitor to overheat or even catch on fire.

MOUSE.
To clean the rollers of a mouse you must first remove the bottom cover of the mouse. To do this, examine the bottom of the mouse to see which direction the mouse cover should be rotated. Place two fingers on the mouse cover and push the direction of the arrows.

Once the cover has rotated about an inch, covering the bottom of the mouse with one hand, turn the over mouse to its normal position and the bottom should fall off including the mouse ball. If this does not occur attempt to shake the mouse gently.

Once the bottom cover and the ball are removed you should be able to see three rollers located within the mouse. Use a cotton swab, your finger, and/or fingernail and move in a horizontal direction of the rollers. Usually there will be a small line of hair and or dirt in the middle of the roller, remove this dirt and or hair as much as possible. Next, dampen a lint-free cloth with alcohol and scrub the mouse ball.

Once you have removed as much dirt and hair as possible place the ball back within the mouse and place the cover back on. Use a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol or warm water and rubs the surface of the mouse and each of its buttons.

KEYBOARD
Many people clean the keyboard by turning it upside down and shaking. A more effective method is to use compressed air. Compressed air is pressurized air contained in a can with a very long nozzle. Simply aim the air between the keys and blow away all of the dust and debris that has gathered there. A vacuum cleaner can also be used, but make sure the keyboard doesn't have loose”pop off" keys that could possibly be sucked up by the vacuum. If you need to clean between the keys, dampen a cotton swab with alcohol and use it to clean the area between the keys. Use a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol or warm water and rubs the surface of the keys to remove any dirt there.

So that covers the external parts of your computer. Next month we will cover cleaning the internal part. That’s where it gets VERY exciting.

Feel free to call me if you have any questions:

Dana White, IT Guy Extraordinaire

641-470-1640, ext. 17

dana@conferencecallsunlimited.com

Disclaimer: We can't guarantee any of these suggestions will work or that they won't have negative impact on your ability to use your computer. They work for us. We use them. But we don't know your computer requirements or what equipment you use right now,  or if you pay close attention and read all the instructions,  or if you won't be distracted by a colleague or customer at a critical moment. You could be consuming alcohol or illegal drugs or have a great big spat with your spouse and so want to use this advice we share with you here as an excuse to create havoc for your company and ours. That's outside our realm of influence. But we do assume all of our customers will appreciate some advice from someone who shares their dependency on computers. And in that light, we offer these tips. Hope they help.

March 15, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3)

400 Online Backup Services at BackupReview

We posted recently on Tips for Using Online Backups. We listed ones we'd tested. We listed some that were recommended by others.

One company, Mozy, replied.

One reader replied with a resource that expands the discussion to include up to 400 online backup services which ranks the top 25 such services each month. It's BackupReview.

We highly encourage you to backup your data, regularly, store it offsite. And we offer this option of online backups to help make sure your data never gets lost, corrupted, or becomes unreplaceable.

We hope that one of these services, profiled here or at BackupReview, will fit your needs.

March 14, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Stories from Kids Hope United

Last month we announced our Corporate Philanthropy Program - 2007. We listed 6 organizations to receive funds this year from among our many deserving customers who serve as non-profit organizations helping others.

Kids Hope United kindly shared several of their success stories. We'll share a few of them over the next few weeks. The first inspiring story of their successful efforts was:

Placement
Foster Care and Adoption

Nine-year-old Julie was desperate for a family to love. After being sexually abused by a biological parent, Julie struggled with overwhelming emotions and moved to and from six different foster homes, unable to settle in.

But her life changed when she met Norelia and Brian Hill. The biological parents of three, the Hills welcomed Julie into their home as a foster child, but soon made the decision to adopt.

Slowly, Julie broke out of her shell and let the Hills care for her needs. Today, Julie is the MVP of her little league team and enjoys being a big sister to her siblings. The Hills continue to foster, recently welcoming Sara into their home.

Although they know that some cases end in adoption, the Hills are strong advocates of foster care, saying:

“Not every story ends in adoption. We need good foster homes –– safe havens –– that take care of these kids until they can go home.”

There are many such stories happening through the efforts of the Kids Hope United organization.

There are 2 ways to help expand the reach of Kids Hope United. You can donate. You can volunteer ( No act of kindness is too small. - Mother Teresa)

With your help and our help, there can be many more such stories.

March 14, 2007 in Philanthropy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Online Backup: MOZY Replies

Almost immediately after posting our review of Online Backup Services, I was contacted by Devin Knighton, Manager of Public Relations for Berkely Data Systems - MOZY.  I say 'almost immediately'. It was certainly within the hour of the post being published. Hats off to Devin and his crew at MOZY for being on top of the conversation. Devin offered this reply below which I publish with his permission:

Zane,

Thanks for taking time to test Mozy and include it in your blog. I’m sure you are busy, so making time to test Mozy for yourself and blog about is much appreciated.

However, I want to clear up a couple of misunderstandings...

First, no backup service will work when your computer hibernates. That said, Mozy does make the backup process easy and seamless because it offers incremental backups at the file level, a throttling feature that keeps the service from bogging down your system, and open/lock file support that allows you to run successful backups without shutting down any programs.

Second, Mozy does offer excellent customer support. But it’s tiered to the level of service you choose. Mozy Free offers e-mail support with a 24 hour turnaround. Mozy Unlimited offers real time support via live chat during regular business hours. And the new MozyPro designed for businesses (www.mozypro.com) offers 24/7 phone support. Since you’re a business, I suggest you consider trying out the new MozyPro[We'll do this in April, Devin. Perhaps a complimentary trial...?]

Again, thanks for thinking of us. Please contact me directly if you have any other questions.

Best regards,
___________________________________

Devin Knighton
Manager of Public Relations
Berkeley Data Systems - Mozy

devin@mozy.com| cell: 801-722-8187

774 East  Utah Valley Drive
American Fork, Ut  84003

Fax: 801-756-2576

www.mozy.com

Gotta love this for a couple of reasons: 1) a company staying on top of what's being said about them in the blogosphere, on the 'net; 2) an articulate, concise response to a customer's feedback which they are willing to share publicly.  That says a lot about a company and their treatment towards their customers. Thanks, Devin.

March 2, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)