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What’s the Difference Between a Consultant and a Contractor?

Picture it: You’re a small business with 10 or so users, getting by without a full-time IT support person. When you have problems, you call up an independent contractor who acts as your go-to computer guy.
 
It’s the Friday before a three-day weekend and you’ve got a big problem. Your server just crashed, your backups aren’t working, your contractor has left town for the weekend — and you’ve got to be open for your annual sale at 8am sharp on Saturday morning. What do you do?
 
You can call up another contractor and see if they’re available. But if you’d hired a consultant from the beginning, you might never have experienced this unfortunate chain of events.
 
Computer consultants combine deep technology expertise with a keen understanding of business practices in order to help businesses make responsible, strategic decisions about their IT infrastructure. They’re more likely to recommend practices and products that help you to avoid emergencies from occuring in the first place.
 
Independent IT contractors, on the other hand, tend to focus on immediate solutions to short-term problems. They can help get your server back online, and they can probably salvage your backups — but they might not bring up the issue of long-term planning. This doesn’t mean that they’re irresponsible or unknowledgeable; far from it. It’s just that their focus is on your technology, not your business.
 
And this is the difference between contractors and consultants. A great contractor is a whiz at mitigating emergency issues and fixing what breaks. A great consultant looks ahead and sees how you can get out of that cycle of breaking and fixing, and on the path to consistently high levels of service.
 
In many situations, your contractor and your consultant may be the same person. But you absolutely need that consultative approach if you’re ever going to get out ahead of your technology problems.
 
Think of technology not as a business expense, but as an asset. The right IT setup can have a tremendous effect on productivity and actually help your business to grow. When you look at it that way, your “computer guy” shouldn’t just be the cheapest service you can find in the Yellow Pages; it should be somebody whose expertise and opinions you truly trust.
 
“Computer consultants provide the exact same kind of services and expertise, the same intellectual property that engineers or architects do,” says CMIT Solutions client Darwin Smith, of the Lake Stevens Sewer District in Lake Stevens, Washington. “That’s a departure from the way people have looked at it and the way government has looked at it, but that is the way to look at it, and that is the way to approach hiring IT people.”
 
If you’re looking for fewer IT emergencies, consistently high levels of service, and predictable expenses, CMIT Solutions can act as your computer consultant. Call us at (800) 399-CMIT or go to www.cmitsolutions.com/contact-us.php and we’ll schedule an in-depth review of your technology systems. After that, we’ll give you our expert recommendation about how you can start getting more out of your IT infrastructure.

The Top 10 Best Ideas for Setting Goals

The Top 10 Best Ideas For Setting Goals
By Hilton Johnson

You cannot pick up a book or participate in a training program today without the author or instructor teaching the power of goal setting. Yet, most people today spend more time planning a two-week vacation than planning their lives by setting goals. It’s been said that achieving goals is not a problem–it’s SETTING goals that is the problem. People just don’t do it. They leave their lives to chance…and usually end up broke by the time they reach retirement.

I thought that since this is such an important ingredient for developing a successful network marketing business, this was a good time to share with you some of the greatest thoughts about goal setting that I’ve discovered over the years.

So, here goes…The Top 10 Best Ideas For Setting Goals:

1. Make A List Of Your Values

What’s really important to you? Your family? Your religion? Your leisure time? Your hobbies? Decide on what your most important values in life are and then make sure that the goals you set are designed to include and enhance them.

2. Begin With The End In Mind

Tom Watson, the founder of IBM, was once asked what he attributed the phenomenal success of IBM to and he said it was three things:
The first thing was that he created a very clear image in his mind of what he wanted his company to look like when it was done. He then asked himself how would a company like that have to act on a day-to-day basis. And then in the very beginning of building his company, he began to act that way.

3. Project Yourself Into The Future

The late, great Earl Nightingale created a whole new industry (self-improvement) after a 20-year study on what made people successful. The bottom-line result of his research was simply, “We Become What We Think About.”

Whatever thoughts dominate our minds most of the time are what we become. That’s why goal setting is so critical in achieving success because it keeps us focused on what’s really important to us. He then said that the easiest way to reach our goals is to pretend that we had ALREADY achieved our goals.

That is, begin to walk, talk and act as though we are already experiencing the success we seek. Then, those things will come to us naturally through the power of the subconscious mind.

4. Write Down The 10 Things You Want This Year

By making a list of the things that are important to you, you begin to create images in your mind. It’s been said that your mind will actually create chaos, if necessary, to make images become a reality. Because of this, the list of ten things will probably result in you achieving at least eight of them within the year.

5. Create Your Storyboard

Get a piece of poster board and attach it to a wall in your office or home where you will see it often. As you go through magazines, brochures, etc. and you see the pictures of the things you want, cut them out and glue them to your storyboard.

In other words, make yourself a collage of the goals that excite you…knowing full well that as you look at them everyday, they will soon be yours.

6. The Three Most Important Things

Decide on three things that you want to achieve before you die. Then work backwards listing three things you want in the next twenty years, ten years, five years, this year, this month, this week and finally, the three most important things you want to accomplish today.

7. Ask Yourself Good Questions

As you think about your goals, instead of WISHING for them to come true, ask yourself HOW and WHAT CAN YOU DO to make them come true. The subconscious mind will respond to your questions far greater than just making statements or making wishes.

8. Focus On One Project At A Time

One of the greatest mistakes people make in setting goals is trying to work on too many things at one time. There is tremendous power in giving laser beam focused attention to just one idea, one project or one objective at a time.

9. Write Out An “Ideal Scenario”

Pretend that you are a newspaper reporter that has just finished an interview about the outstanding success that you’ve achieved and the article is now in the newspaper. How would it read? What would be the headline? Write the article yourself, projecting yourself into the future as though it had already happened. Describe the activities of your daily routine now that are very successful. Don’t forget the headline. (Example: “Jane Doe Wins Top Network Marketing Award Of The Decade.”)

10. Pray & Meditate

As you get into bed each evening, think about your goal before you drop off to sleep. Get a very clear colorful image in your mind of seeing yourself doing the things you’ll be doing after you’ve reached your major goal. (Remember to include your values.) And then begin to ask and demand for these things through meditation and prayer.

AutoFilter Sorts Data at a Glance

If you’re looking to pull just a few isolated pieces of data out of a large table, Excel’s AutoFilter function might be just the ticket. You don’t have to write any formulas, and it’s easy to undo a filter and move on to a different category. Let’s say you’re reviewing a long list of clients and trying to isolate only those accounts who have utilized your maintenance services. You’d do the following:

1. Click in cell A1.

2. Go to Data –> Filter –> AutoFilter.

3. Excel will automatically apply the AutoFilter functionality to the first cell in every column. You should see a small arrow on the right-hand side of each cell in Row 1. When you click that arrow, it shows a drop-down box with several AutoFilter options.

4. Click the drop-down on Service category and select Maintenance.

5. Excel will automatically strip out all categories besides Maintenance.

6. To show all categories again, just go back to the drop-down menu on Service category and select All. If you’ve got a question about Excel or other Microsoft Office products, we can help! Just give us a call at (800) 399-CMIT or visit http://www.cmitsolutions.com.

Don’t Fall for Scam Emails About the Swine Flu

When the swine flu outbreak hit the news recently, word of the illness wasn’t the only thing spreading rapidly around the globe. As usual, online identity thieves took advantage of bad news to launch a number of phishing and malware attacks.
 
Some phishing emails contained subject lines claiming that President Barack Obama or an assortment of celebrities were infected with the flu. The bodies of these emails contained links to sites that claimed to sell swine flu remedies. Victims who filled out the order form for these “remedies” in effect handed over their personal identifying information to data harvesters who will resell that information on the black market.
 
Other swine flu-related spam contained infected ZIP files that purported to offer important information from the government about the outbreak. When opened, the files downloaded a malicious executable file to start stealing information.
 
One last trick involved a “survey” that asked people to share their swine flu experiences by providing their phone number or email address – which the spammer would then harvest and later sell or use for their own purposes.
 
In essence, what we’re seeing here is spammers and phishers getting a little more creative about how they go about collecting information. Not only do they use a news event to frighten people into opening their emails, they then use topical “sales pitches,” presentations, and surveys that could fool even a fairly savvy email user. They also tend to use links to malicious sites rather than asking people to open files, since many email providers automatically block attachments from unknown senders.
 
To avoid becoming the victim of identity theft due to swine flu emails, you can do a couple of things:
 
  1. Don’t open email from an unknown or unsolicited sender.
  2. Rely on reputable news sources for information and updates about the flu.
  3. Make sure your antivirus and antispyware definitions are up to date and run a full system scan.
 

If you want one less security issue to worry about, you can always sign up for a service like CMIT Marathon that automatically takes care of all your updates and scans for you. To find out more, click here.

Banish Digital Clutter in 4 Simple Steps

Even people with tidy desks and pin-neat offices sometimes find themselves with a whole lot of clutter – on their hard drives. But just because storage is cheap these days doesn’t mean you need to have a lot of spare bits and bytes hanging around. Keeping extra files on your hard drive can make it difficult to get to the information you want, leading to lost or duplicated files and a lot of wasted time. Here are a few simple ways you can keep your files in order.
 
1. Delete, delete, delete.
You know the old adage about clothes: If you haven’t worn something in a year, throw it out. The same might apply to your computer files. If you haven’t opened something in a year, you’re probably safe throwing it out. At the very least, you can take everything you’re not one hundred percent sure you’re comfortable deleting and stick it all in a folder called “Archive.”
2. Use shortcuts instead of making duplicate files.
If you’re working on several projects that all work off the same document, don’t keep a copy of the document in each project folder. Instead, decide which folder you’ll keep the original in and create shortcuts to that original in every other folder. That way you don’t have to worry about versioning problems.
3. Use descriptive file names.
This sounds simple, but it’s shocking how many people name important documents things like “Report.doc”. Put enough identifying detail in the file name that you’ll be able to discern the contents at a glance.
4. Don’t save what you don’t need.
If a coworker sends you a file for review, chances are you download it, make some notations, re-save, and send it back. Once you’ve sent it, there’s no reason to keep that file hanging around. Create a folder for these sorts of one-off files and then empty it at the end of every week by either deleting the file or, if it’s important, moving it to the appropriate directory.

Attention Teleworkers: Keep Keyloggers from Stealing Your Data

More workers than ever are ditching the office and working from home, on the road, or from client sites. According to WorldatWork, occasional telework has risen dramatically in just the past several years. Look at these statistics:

 

  • The number of employee telecommuters in the United States increased 39%, from 12.4 million to 17.2 million, between 2006 and 2008.
  • The sum of all teleworkers — employees, contractors and business owners — increased 43% from 2003 to 2008, reaching 33.7 million last year. 
  • Fewer people are teleworking full time; however, more people are working remotely at least once a month. 
  • The most common locations for remote work are home (87%), a customer’s place of business (41%) and car (37%). Restaurants and libraries are becoming less common locations for telecommuting.

 

If you are one of the millions of people remotely accessing a business network — whether it’s every day or just once a month — you need to be aware of the security threat posed by keyloggers.

 

A keylogger is a piece of software that records every keystroke made on a computer. A hacker who installs a keylogger virus on your computer will be able to see everything you type on your machine — which comes in handy when they want to steal passwords, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or sensitive corporate data.

 

For years, cybercriminals have been installing keylogger viruses on easy-to-breach, publicly accessed machines, such as those used in libraries. But your worry as a telecommuter probably won’t be whatever viruses are crawling all over a publicly used machine — as statistics show, you’re almost definitely using your own computer or a company-provided one for business work. So what you have to beware of is a whole new round of viruses that can be downloaded to your work machine.

 

Remember that Conficker worm that was supposed to strike on April Fool’s Day, and ended up exploding about a week later? One of its most devastating payloads was a keylogger virus.

 

So to protect yourself from keyloggers stealing your passwords, don’t ever use public computers for any procedure that requires a login — that means everything from checking email to checking a bank balance. And on your own computer, make sure your antivirus and antispyware definitions are up to date and that you regularly run full system scans. (Many people halt system scans midway through or just stop running them altogether because they take up so much processing power.) If you want one less security issue to worry about, you can always sign up for a service like CMIT Marathon that automatically takes care of all your updates and scans for you. To find out more, click here.