Digital Advocate


Guiding the SOHO Practitioner in a Digital World

Looks Good On Paper. But How Does It Actually Work?

Microsoft Office AccessImage via Wikipedia

Virtual Assistants often come up when talking about cutting the expenses of a small business or home office. I hear there are a lot of things that a VA can do.  I hear how great they are. What I don’t hear is what, exactly, does anyone have them do? What I don’t hear is any of the details.

  • What does your VA do for you?
  • How often do they work for you?
  • How long have they been working with you?
  • Do you have different VA’s for different projects?
  • How “virtual” are they – in other words, do they not work in your office, but do work close enough to occasionally meet in person?  Are they out-of-state? International?
  • Do you have a contract? If so, how detailed are the tasks/projects listed in it?

I think it’s a great idea. But Virtual Assistants have been in existence for quite some time, yet don’t seem to be catching on that quickly. Maybe there’s an issue of organization, productivity, or experience with technology.

What do you think?

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Computer Misuse and Ethical Sanctions

INTERNET LAW – Legal and Ethical Implications of Computer Misuse by Attorneys

A major culprit in the proliferation of computer-based crimes is the tendency by many individuals to allow easy access to their computer and e-mail passwords. In many cases, passwords are shared with a number of people or may be too obvious. In particular, firms should institute a policy against using easy-to-detect passwords such as last names, the firm’s name, or the individual’s birthday as a password.

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Scan, Don’t Copy!

A tall metal filing cabinet for work or home use.

Image via Wikipedia

Doug Cornelius wrote that he will be presenting on collaborative tools and knowledge management on October 1 in Boston as part of the Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education program, and his description of his program caught my eye:

Every time a document is printed or photocopied, potential efficiencies are lost and unnecessary costs may be incurred. Paper documents are not searchable or sortable. They can become easily disorganized. They require physical storage space in binders, boxes, and cabinets. They are expensive to ship and to archive. Every duplicate set costs as much to copy as the first set, and every time documents are disassembled for copying their condition is degraded.

When you put it that way, why aren’t more offices going paperless? Adding up these costs, you might be surprised how inexpensive a computer upgrade, a server, and a scanner will actually be.

I was leaving an office the other day and there was a little fire department activity in the lot behind it. My first thought – a spark to the roof, and all those documents… Sure, the alarm would go off, and the fire department was already there. But that would do nothing to save the documents in the cardboard storage boxes in the attic, or the non fire-retardant filing cabinets on the floor below, or the non-fire retardant filing cabinets in the main floor. I’ve seen an apartment complex fire, and it can destroy a lot, in seconds. There would be no way to save even a portion.

But a server with a removable drive? And if that drive was backed-up weekly and that backup kept off-site (which is a good idea no matter what your backup plan is.) The computers would be toast, but insured – and who doesn’t like nice new shiny office stuff?

Not to mention that I’d much rather sit in a desk chair doing other work while a computer searches for the archived file I need, than be sitting in a dusty old attic, sorting thru box, after box, after box…

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Filed under: Office, Organization, Tools, , , ,

Google Docs Instant Form

Productivity model (Saari 2006)

Image via Wikipedia

I often use a spreadsheet to create  a form – it’s just much easier than dealing with tabs and tables. Now Google Docs has made it easier still. They noticed that most users searched for “forms” everywhere but their spreadsheets  – so why fight ‘em?  Forms are now accessible directly from your Docs List. And they even made them easier to edit.


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Share The Words

Pony Express statue in St.

Image via Wikipedia

“The power of Google Docs has, at best, been only partially understood so far. This is a paradigm shift that putting Word online will not come close to. Sure, Google Docs can work as a traditional word processor, and I use it that way sometimes, but the true power is in connectivity. That’s why it is better than Buzzword or other online processors. They understand the idea of word processors, but Google has gone beyond that with Google Docs and changed the ways in which we can work.”

So many of our business documents are snippets and phrases of other business documents. How much time do you or your staff spend reinventing the wheel when putting together a contract or a report? Imagine how much time could be saved with plug-in paragraphs, or easily editable templates?

But, what? You’re not a networking guru, and your office machines can’t talk to each other? No problem. Google Docs and Zoho are two online office sites where you can share your work – and still keep a measure of privacy.

They way we work is changing fast. We need to change with it. Pony Express was created less than 150 years ago, and who uses that anymore?


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The Power of the Social Media Embrace

An inflamed match.Image via WikipediaHow one site, one artist and one belief in the power of cooperation created a phenomenon of integrity and sharing.

The Story of the Fail Whale – ReadWriteWeb

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ZOHO Adds Macro Record & Playback

Support for Visual Basic Macro Record & Playback in Zoho Sheet.

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