Office 2010 Released

It’s out. It’s nice. If you’re using Office 2003 or earlier, it’s time to upgrade.

Office 2010 uses the same kind of ribbons that Office 2007 users have grown accustomed to. The new “ribbon” that you’ll find in Word 2010 is the one that 2007 should have had. It’s called file. The file ribbon gives you all the options and information about the particular file that you’re working on that you could possibly want to know.

For example, as I type this blog entry in Word 2010, when I click the file tab, I have lots of nifty choices like Open, Save, Save as, and Print but the option that is highlighted is Info. Under Info I can Set Permissions (protect the document so that only those who should see it can), Prepare for Sharing (basically let’s me easily strip hidden information that other’s shouldn’t see but that is useful to have for an in house document) and work with different Versions of the document.

I can also see useful information such as how long I’ve been editing this document, add or view the Title and any Tags, see who the creator is, and lots of other information. It is also from the file tab that I can open recent or other documents and do many of the tasks from the old File menu.

As is usually the case, the biggest change comes with Outlook. As the way people communicate continues to change, Microsoft tries to make Outlook the tool to help you do this. Outlook now has its own ribbons (for some reason Outlook 2007 didn’t get the ribbon makeover).

The newest feature here is the Quick Steps box. Basically what this box does is let you create macros or rules on what do with certain messages. Once that rule is created, you can run it by clicking the appropriate button in the Quick Steps box. I’m still experimenting with this but this feature holds potential in helping to tame the email beast.

Access has some nice new features, one that we’re taking a very close look at right now is the Project template. What is nice is that Access is now really designed from the get go to be interactive. I opened the Project template and the first thing I had to do was create a user (myself) and then log in. Then I was off to the races creating and entering information on the project.

The downside is I wanted to watch the video which required SilverLight which I had already installed which Access didn’t recognize as being installed. Still a few issues, it would appear but all in all I like this latest version and could see moving some of our folks to it even before the first service pack.

Other tools that come with the complete version of Office 2010 include OneNote (great for taking quick notes or for having a notebook on a particular task or subject) and InfoPath – the tool for forms – now comes with a Designer part and a Filler part. For business users (those with lots of computers and users), there’s also a new program called SharePoint Workspace. I’m still investigating these but they look to be pretty nifty tools for improved work flow.

The full version “Professional” retails for around $500 but as a productivity tool is well worth it.

 

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Email Scams Proliferate

Lately we’ve been getting bombarded with email scams. Beware and DO NOT click on these unless you communicate with network administrator (call us if you don’t have a network administrator: 303 268-2245).

One message has a title like this: A new settings file for the <youremailaddress> mailbox has just been released and it was a bogus link that you are supposed to click on. DO NOT click the link!

The second message we’ve seen has this subject line: Important – System upgrade and it also has a link that you should not click under any circumstances.

Beware, be aware, and be safe on the Internet.

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Three Concerns about E-Newsletters

OK, I just posted five reasons you SHOULD have an e-newsletter, now let’s look at three things you need to take into account as you start writing your e-newsletters:

  1. Junk Email filters. There is a lot of email out there. And a lot of that email is automatically generated junk that you don’t want to read. The unfortunate point is that a good email newsletter site like AWeber.com or Constant Contact.com is also an automatically generated email that can caught in a filter. We use Aweber and we get a spam assassin score BEFORE we send so we know how likely it is to get filtered out.
  2. Information Overload. How many emails do YOU get every day? I get over a hundred, not including the junk that gets filtered out. Even then I’ve got an overload of information and should probably unsubscribe from half a dozen newsletters. But they’re really good when I take the time to read them. So remember that your reader is likely overloaded and that leads to the next concern:
  3. Competition for Attention. Like I said, I get over 100 emails a day. So your e-newsletter is competing for my attention with every other item in my inbox. And of course I’m likely distracted by who’s IM’ing me or what the latest tweet from Twitter is as well. One key issue to deal with here is to make sure your subject line leaps off the screen in a way the engages the reader from the start.

These concerns aren’t insurmountable but you should be aware of them so that you can prepare to make your newsletter stand head and shoulders above the rest.икони

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An Email Address By Any Other Letter

Shakespeare may have said that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but who would have imagined that email address starting with any other letter would get less spam?

Say what? A researcher in England discovered that, for real email addresses, those beginning with less common letters receive less spam. So that means that if your name is Mike Xanowitz, you might want to have your email address as xanowitzm@mydomain.com instead of mxanowitz@mydomain.com. M’s, you see, get more spam than X’s.

This is just one study but the results feel right to me. Think about it another way. mike@mydomain.com sounds pretty general, even if mydomain.com isn’t so well known. xanowitz@mydomain.com on the otherhand is pretty specific. So if I were trying to send unsolicited commercial messages (otherwise known as spam) to this domain, I might get lucky and guess that mike@ is a valid email address. But unless I know Mike personally and know how to spell his last name, I’m unlikely to simply guess at xanowitz@ and be right.

Does it mean anything to you? Perhaps not if you already have an established email. If however you’re in the process of creating a new email address, consider a lesser used first letter such as x, y or z for your email address.

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Taming the Inbox: Managing Volumes of Email

I’ve done it! I’ve taken a huge step towards taming my inbox. For years it has had no fewer than 300 messages in it and when busy-ness hits, it regularly balloons to over 1500 messages.

Until now. What is the secret to taming your email? you may ask. The answer is so simple (once you know the answer it always seems simple): Right now, as I write, I have 13 emails in my inbox. Each of them is something that will be dealt with within the next business day and then filed away.

When there were 300+ emails in there, it was so easy to let it balloon up to 400 or 600 or more. With 0 to 20 in there, its very easy to identify what needs to be done, do it and then file it. The biggest thing that worked for me was opening a Word document so that when I started through the laborious process of whittling down 1100 emails to 5, I could jot a note about something that needed to be done.

So, it worked like this: file, file, file, delete, file, delete, delete, oh, I need to call Frank about this one. Hmm should I quit working on filing which isn’t fun or should I call Frank? This time I mastered the urge to bail and made a note to call Frank in the Word Document. Then back to file, delete, file, file, delete, delete, delete.

It took six to eight hours to do this but I finished over the weekend and this has been one of the most productive weeks I’ve ever had and its only Thursday!

So if you are stuck in email purgatory, set aside the time, ignore every distraction, and file, categorize and make notes until you’re down to 0. Right now I’ve got 9 items in my inbox, the oldest of which dates back to 5:20 PM on Tuesday. Ohh, that feels good

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