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SMBTN Releases Autotask Template November 16, 2009

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Finance, IT Business, Marketing, Tools.
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Just a little over a month after announcing that it would standardize on the Autotask platform, the SMB Technology Network has officially released its new template for the platform. This release is just a starting point for us. We are committed to making consistent improvements to this platform that integrate industry best practices and SMBTN partner offerings into a professional services automation platform that fits the needs of our membership. Currently, the SMBTN/Autotask Platform offers the following:

  • A customized Autotask Template for SMBTN Business Members
  • Integration with a variety of Managed Services platforms, including hosted Kaseya from Virtual Administrator, Level Platforms, N-able, Zenith Infotech and others.
  • Integration with SMBTN’s Virtual Assistant partner, TelAssistant.
  • Integration with SMBTN’s Outsourced helpdesk partner, Cloud Services Depot.
  • Integration with SMBTN VitalSigns Financial Dashboard by CoreConnex.
  • Integration with the latest release of the SMBTN Community Toolbar.

SMBTN also understands the importance of integrating its member’s websites and marketing functions into their back office operations. With this in mind, SMBTN has begun working with Pronto Marketing on Autotask forms integration which it hopes to have available for its members in the first quarter of 2010.

Finally, SMBTN will also host its own forum on the SMBTN Community for peer support, sharing best practices and gathering ideas about future improvements to its Autotask platform.

Pricing for the SMBTN/Autotask platform starts at just $99 per month for a single user (through the end of the year) and includes Autotask Pro with the SMBTN template, Outlook integration, Client Access Portal, Quickbooks integration, Corelytics Lite Financial Dashbaord and the SMBTN Community Toolbar. For more information, visit the SMBTN Community or contact SMBTN Member Services.

Download the SMBTN Community Toolbar! December 2, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Productivity, SMBTN, Tools.
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We continue to seek out new ways for SMBTN members to connect with each other, access SMBTN programs and resources, and make your work day just a little easier and more profitable. Our latest effort to this end is the new SMBTN Community Toolbar.

This toolbar is compatible with both Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers and includes:

  • Quick Links to SMBTN Sites, Communities and Portals
  • Google Search
  • Custom searches of the SMBTN Community and key SMB websites
  • Links to many SMBTN Partner Programs
  • Links to Technical Tools like EventID.net, DNS Reports, and MX Toolbox, as well as, key technical knowledgebases.
  • An RSS Feed Reader, prepopulated with SMB news and information
  • A chat client that permits you to communicate with any other SMBTN Member who has the toolbar installed.

This is our first release of the toolbar, so I encourage you to comment on it and its features so we can make future improvements to it. In the meantime, check it out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Download the SMBTN Community Toolbar

Best Practices for Using ReImage November 20, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in Benefits, Partners, SMBTN, Tools.
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Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage FREE!

Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage FREE!

A couple of weeks ago, we introduced a new relationship with a company called ReImage. ReImage is a software tool that promises to repair broken Windows XP installations in as little as 30 minutes.

I have personally run the tool on 25-30 machines over the past month with great success and have come to rely upon it as a first response tool for issues I encounter with XP. Like most tools, it is not perfect and won’t correct every issue. However, after working with it for this period of time, I have come up with some best practices that should assist you, when you decide to give it a try.

  1. Run ReImage from safe-mode with networking or its boot CD. If you are using a remote support tool like LogMeIn IT Reach or Rescue, you can still run this tool by first rebooting the computer into “Safe Mode” and then reconnecting with it to make the repair.
  2. ReImage is an ActiveX control and must be run from Microsoft Internet Explorer. It currently does not support Firefox and Beta versions of Internet Explorer.
  3. While I often run ReImage in its Autofix and Reboot mode on computers that are really messed up, I recommend that you run it in standard mode for most systems and review the Analysis report before making any repairs. ReImage will disable startup applications it is not aware of and gives you the option of bringing them back at a later date using MSConfig. A cursory review of the analysis report permits you to uncheck those programs that you do not want disabled and provides you with other important troubleshooting information.
  4. If you are running ReImage on a machine that you suspect is infected with a rootkit, run it from the boot CD.
  5. Temporarily turn off any antivirus software while running ReImage, as the product contains AVG antivirus. When the initial repair is complete, I recommend that you reenable your regular antivirus software and run a full scan of the hard drive.
  6. ReImage won’t help old/weak PC’s that are laden with a lot of legitimate memory resident programs (e.g. Skype + ICQ + Miranda + Yahoo + MSN + AV + Anti-Spyware + Firewall + Windows/Google Desktop Search etc).  In such a case the hardware itself cannot support the load of so many programs.
  7. Reimage will indicate a slow HDD (which can indicate an HDD on its way to die) and low RAM. Paying attention to such warnings (written in red) shown by Reimage can be a key to find the problem, even if Reimage itself cannot (obviously) fix it, it can still diagnose it.
  8. Fixing 3rd party programs (anything that is not a part of Windows XP) is limited to scenarios in which an unhealthy OS causes a 3rd party application not to run well. However, in many cases it’s the 3rd party application is faulty and it is not the OS, so Reimage won’t help.
  9. When the PC is connected to a faulty network. A normal LAN is always advised, Wi-Fi is a greater risk. A firewall/gateway with strong content filtering mechanism MAY harm Reimage by altering the communication with the ReImage server. However, most of my clients are running SonicWALL TotalSecure firewalls with all the bells and whistles and have had no issue.
  10. PCs that suffer from spontaneous blue screens/ reboots while working/ idle are highly recommended to be fixed using Boot CD only. If spontaneous blue screens/reboots keep happening in Boot CD then it’s a hardware problem that must be addressed first. (Boot CD does NOT work in “from CD” mode. Only “from ramdisk” mode)
  11. Known issues with HDD (bad sectors etc, corrupt file system etc). Bad sectors are the time to replace the HDD. Corrupt file-system requires first running ChkDisk and making sure all is back to normal.
  12. If you have any issues, contact Technical Support and they will assist you. We have had great luck with them. They are good listeners and are very receptive to the feedback offered by SMBTN members.

The thing I like best about ReImage is that it meets the first criteria I have for SMB IT consulting which is “first, do no harm” (sounds familiar, huh?). Before it makes any repairs, it images a copy of all the files that it plans to modify so if you have a problem with a repair, you can restore the computer to its original state. It also does not effect user data.

We expect to announce a great program for SMBTN members that want to use ReImage within the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned. In the meantime, if you have ideas about enhancements to the product or are having issues with a trial that you are having any difficulty addressing, please contact SMBTN Member Services and we will get you in touch with the right people at ReImage.

Repair Windows XP in 30 minutes with ReImage October 21, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Partners, Productivity, SMBTN, Tools.
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Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage Free!

Get a 3-day Trial of ReImage Free!

As we head into a tougher economy, it makes more sense than ever to work smarter not harder. With this in mind we have partnered with ReImage, a software tool provider that promises to repair broken Windows XP installation in as little as 30 minutes.

But don’t confuse this with some of the freeware or end user tools you have seen before, this software was designed as an expert system for the IT professional. It gives good feedback on problems found and repairs most of them within about 30 minutes. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself or read the case study about the experience that Computer Troubleshooter’s franchisees have had with the product.

Reimage has been dubbed the “Domino Pizza of PC repair” (repair in 30 minutes or less) by NetworkWorld. Reimage provides online operating system repair automation in minutes while safeguarding user data. Reimage has developed the first ever technology that offers software that repairs XP operating systems automatically (Vista coming soon). eWeek raves: “Reimage works like magic to repair problems with XP“.

ReImage:

  • Provides automated, online, repair which fixes a damaged XP OS.
  • Works remotely, on site and on multiple PCs, simultaneously
  • Takes about 30 minutes, per fix.
  • Safeguards all user data, settings and applications.
  • Requires no set-up (we download a 3MB ActiveX).

By using a remote access tool an automatic repair can be initiated from any workstation. The old fashioned practice of an onsite or manual online repair for software problems is now history. Reimage is all about saving you time.

After a few mouse clicks and 30 minutes you get:

  • A PC that is as good as new no viruses, malware, software clashes or blue screens.
  • Saving you hours of guess work, or having to reload the OS.
  • No loss of any applications, settings or user data.  

To learn more about how ReImage works, please click here or join SMBTN on Tuesday, October 21, 2008, at 11:00am PST for an online webinar about the product.

Windows Mobile Tools for Consultants October 17, 2008

Posted by Jim Locke in IT Business, Mobility, Productivity, Tools.
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I am always on the lookout for tools that will make me more productive in the field. As my Windows Mobile device is my main connection to the outside world, I have selected a Samsung i760 with Windows mobile 6.1 and several specific application to give me an edge. Here is what I have on my device:

  • Autotask LiveMobile – Permits me to access my Autotask information from the field. Well worth the minimal $10 fee I pay each month for access to it. If you haven’t tried it, call your Autotask sales rep and have them set you up with a trial.
  • mVisualVoicemail – connects me to my VOIP voicemail system. It downloads my messages using Outlook and Activesync and places it on my SD card for payback. Cost is $25.
  • Google Mobile – My favorite Google Mobile apps are Google Maps and Google Reader. Google Maps helps me to get where I need to go. I use Google Reader to keep me up to date on industry and technical news.
  • LogMeIn – I am still shocked at how many people I meet that don’t know that LogMeIn works over a Windows Mobile device. All you need to is logon to your account and access the computers in it. Use your stylus to manuever the desktop, etc. It is simple. It works. Really comes in handy some times when you need to use a Windows Mobile device to access a computer. Best of all, its free.
  • Sprite Backup – You are backing up your Windows Mobile device, right?
  • Spb Communication Pack – Includes the Spb Mobile Shell, Spb Phone Suite, Spb GPRS Monitor and Spb Insight (RSS reader). The Mobile Shell and Phone Suite are the strengths of this package. I really don’t make much use of the other products in the package because I don’t care about how much GPRS data I am transferring and I prefer Google Reader for RSS feeds. Still a great value at $49.95. Depending on your needs you may also want to take a look at the Spb Business Pack for $69.95.
  • Windows LiveSearch – While I am still partial to Google Maps, Live Search is great for mapping, as well and offers manyother freatures. (Free)

I am still looking for a few more apps to perform some of the mundane tasks I dont like to do like expense reporting, phone logging and mileage logging. Still testing a handful of apps in tis arena. I report back on what I find.

Still playing with a number of other