Beringer Associates Technology Blog

Monthly Archives: June 2012

Beringer-CRMGone are the days of showing up at your best client’s office every other week with a box of doughnuts and expecting to leave with an order. To be successful today, you must show value and help the customer achieve their goals. A properly implemented Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can pave the way to success in today’s selling climate.

Implementing a CRM program enables you and your sales team to organize customer data that will keep your efforts fluid and fast. CRM is as mobile as a click on an icon. This flexibility allows users to immediately enter customer updates while moving from appointment to appointment! It also assists in monitoring sales efforts and tracks competitive win/loss information.

Another great feature of CRM is its ability to integrate tools like Google Analytics. This level of valuable, statistical information can be used to assist with strategic e-marketing campaigns and monitoring costs to effectively measure success and ROI.

Is CRM right for you? Implementing a CRM program in your organization will help you take the guess work out of your sales process and keep your sales team moving forward efficiently and effectively. To learn more about how CRM is helping Industrial Suppliers, attend the CRM session at this year’s Executive Development Retreat.    Find details here.

Editor’s Note: Contributions for this article were made by David Buggy, Vice President and Partner at Beringer Associates, Inc. and Ashley Kurtzman, Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Tour de Force CRM, Inc.

Share

Technology enabled distributors have improved their game and are winning against their competition.  Please join us for an evening of networking with your industry peers, insightful discussion and a lot of fun while we watch the Philadelphia 76’ers take on the Brooklyn Nets.  It’s a

Share


thunder2Summer storms always remind me that this is a good time to reflect on whether your home or office has effective power protection in place – against surges, sags , blinks and outages.

In a home environment, all of your important electronics should be connected through a surge protector (not a power tap!). In addition, phone lines, cable TV, and wired internet connections should also go through a surge protector. This is to protect the rest of your downstream devices from a possible surge over these lines. For the most important devices – computers, network hardware, security systems, backup drives, game consoles or other devices that could be damaged by power fluctuations, I recommend protecting them with a small uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This allows you an opportunity to gracefully power down devices instead of allowing the power outage to do it for you. (if you are at home)

In a business environment, UPS protection is even more critical, and complex. Battery backup is essential for critical devices like servers, NAS devices, tape drives, switches, routers, firewalls — all mission critical equipment should be connected to a backup battery, NOT just a surge protector. Devices that need to run 24×7 can experience data corruption if the power is cut off unexpectedly. Having a UPS to protect the devices is critical in preventing outages from short term power loss (15 min or less), blinks, or brownouts where the power level may not be sufficient or stable.

While not critical, smaller UPS units are recommended for protection of desktop PCs that run key business functions such as security software, credit card processing, financial applications or other systems where downtime due to hardware damage from a power surge could cause financial loss or prevent critical business processes from running.

For more information on UPS devices and related technologies see these resources:

http://www.apc.com

http://www.tripplite.com

Share

QRCodeBeringerAnyone remember the CueCat circa 1999 – a hand-held barcode reader that would scan codes in printed materials and would open a URL on your computer, that provided more information on the related item? Digital Convergence had a novel, and possibly prognostic, method for providing a reader with more or updated details about a something in printed materials. More details can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CueCat 

This was a neato idea, but was sadly limited by the requirement to be at your computer (tethered by PS/2 or USB connection), while scanning the barcode. Also, there were concerns raised about possible invasion of privacy if the device collected user data.

The CueCat failed, but now we have even better technology that achieves, and exponentially leapfrogs, the intended purpose of that cute little device – Code Scanner apps that run on your cell phone!

You can find the codes nearly everywhere – in magazines and newspapers – taking the reader to nutritional information on a product, or coupons. At the recent Philadelphia Comic Con the schedule of Celebrity QA sessions of Photo Ops could be zapped from the info kiosk to your phone. Read the shipping code on packages you receive, if the sender’s label is illegible or ripped off. Wander in the produce section and scan a fruit or veggie for more info before you buy. Printed codes on T-shirts or other accessories – maybe a link to the wearer’s web site or social media page?

AT&T includes a code scanner app on their phones. Droid users can search on Google Play for “code scanner” and you will find many scan apps – some generic for several types of codes, and others specific to one retailer (Target, Walgreen’s, Weight Watchers) IPhone/Pad users also have similar options through the App Store.

Though not perfected yet – some of the mobile info sites are not well-formatted for reading on a cell phone screen – you can now use your phone like a basic sort of “tri-corder” to collect data from your surrounding environment.

If you want to generate your own code, there are sites and software available to do this: http://qrcode.kaywa.com  is one example. (Donate if you use your code for real!)

More info on QR codes can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code

Share

giveaway-of-the-day

Every wish you could reinstall your Giveaway of The Day applications again, after “the day” you downloaded them? Thanks to a GAOTD Setup Keeper, you can.

If you’re not already on the daily email list, go to http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/ and sign up for the daily email. The daily giveaway will be one of a huge variety of useful software items that you may not have ever heard about. These are applications from publishers who offer a free installation of their product, but each is only downloadable for a single day.

GAOTD Setup Keeper allows the user to install the program of the day when downloaded, and then a special configuration is saved on your computer so you can install the program again later on.

You can download GAOTD Setup Keeper here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/gaotdsetupkeep/ Follow the installation instructions carefully, especially related to the “missing” DLL files that you may need to install.

Once you install GAOTD Setup Keeper, you use its connection with the Giveaway of the Day site, to get the day’s giveaway, and then use it to complete the installation process. The setup configures the special registry entry that allows you to reinstall the application at a later time.

The lesson here — it IS ok, and possible, to keep things past the expiration date!

Share

lost-passwordHave you ever found yourself with a computer where the network login fails (and you already tried with cached credentials, disconnected from the network) and you REALLY need to get into the local administrator profile to fix something…you know how it happens… an employee left the company, was let go, or built the PC and simply forgot the local admin password?

One of my favorite bacon-saving utilities is the Offline Password & Registry Editor (some call it a password cracker) written by Peter Nordahl.

The source web site is: http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/ and there you will find the download, plus all of the details on what the program can do and how to use it. It works on almost all Windows versions – NT3.51 to Vista/Win7 32/64bit and 2008 server.

In a nutshell, you create a bootable media (CD/DVD or USB thumb drive) to boot the PC, watch some really Linux-y text scroll by, and then gain access to change any of the local account passwords (admin or others). It also has capabilities for editing the registry – for more advanced users.

Note that this only works for local passwords, NOT credentials in Active Directory, including the AD Restore password. (write it down next time!)

Sure, you could just rebuild the computer, or pull out the hard drive and pull the data to another device…but if you want to directly access the administrator’s profile or other local data, this a nice little utility that will take just a little work to get you in and get the admin password changed.

Share

belarcAt some point, you may find yourself wondering, “How do I find my Office install key, or a list of all the programs on my PC??” The Windows Control Panel for Windows and Features will show you some of this information (Add Remove CP if you’re running XP), but only the basics, and not all of the system software or install keys. Maybe you are migrating to a new computer, or just rebuilding the same PC and you can’t find the license info for your currently installed software. Well, Belarc Advisor can help.

Download the tool from www.belarc.com (free for personal use) and run it on your PC. This will return a copious amount of information about your configuration including the hardware details, installed software and keys, Windows version and key, user accounts, details of your surrounding network and more. In case you’re worried about security, Belarc Advisor does not send your information anywhere outside your local computer. (no data mining)

belarc2

You can print the details or save them as an HTML file for later reference. (Print the report, and file it for later!)

This is also a useful tool for documenting your baseline configuration after you build out a new computer with your basic applications. This is great for comparison to your system a year or so later, when things start to slow down or act wonky. It makes it easier to see just how much new software has accumulated (and possibly can be cleaned out), and also what is part of the base build and needs to stay.

It’s easy to use and a huge help in documenting your PC’s configuration now, and for reference later on.

Belarc also publishes a few commercially-licensed products, intended for business network management of computers, software, and various security-related details.

Share

Windows Sticky NoteWe all have too many passwords and it’s hard enough to keep track of them…but to have to invent new, “good” ones every time they expire is a frustrating exercise. Befuddled by the complexity requirements set by your employer on your network login, or concerned that your password is too easy to guess? Not to worry! Here’s a quick and easy way to create strong passwords that will be hard for others to guess, but easy to remember.

The key elements of a strong (ie complex) password are to have a string of characters that is not a simple word (like dog or cat) or your name (Bob or Sue). Also, avoid your birthday, anniversary, children’s or pets names or any other word or number set that is easy to identify with you.

The strongest passwords (and hardest to crack) combine letters (upper and lower case), numbers and the other symbols into a memorable phrase. The goal is to create a secure password that is easy to remember, so it won’t end up on a sticky note on your display or under your keyboard.

One way to immediately strengthen your password without making it impossible to remember, is to add various non-letter characters:

Weak: bobsmith

Add caps and symbols: !BobSmith#

Add numbers and an underscore: !Bob_Smith#1

Much harder to guess –still not so hard to remember – and harder for hacking tools to crack.

Another option is to pick a word or phrase and replace a few letters with other characters:

ILikeCats à IL1k3C@t5

GhostHunters à Gh0stH%ntr3

Again, pretty easy to remember after you type it a few times, but hard to guess, and strong protection against password cracking tools.  So, update your passwords and throw out those sticky notes!

Share