Saturday, December 5, 2009

Twitter: Instant Search

For those of you that are still unsure of how Twitter will help your business, take a look at

Looks a lot like Google, right? A simple search engine up at the top of the screen, where you type in the exact piece of information you seek. The difference is stated in their slogan "See what's happening, right now." Twitter is quickly becoming the source for real-time quick snippets of information as they unfold in everyday life.

A perfect example of this would be Tiger I'm not gonna go that route because it's been way too overplayed. A perfect example would be to do a Twitter Search on "Kobe Bryant", which will bring up results from all us average, everyday Joes and Janes that will likely mention something about his miracle shot at the buzzer of the Lakers / Heat game on Friday night. (by the way it was absolutely amazing - check it out here). The point is that instead of waiting an hour or two (or even twenty minutes) for a news organization to post an article that Google picks up, it is now possible to search any term, and see how the general public feels about it...right now. :-)

This is an excellent parallel to Google's search engine, which favors information that has been posted for longer periods of time. In case you are thinking that Twitter is going to replace Google, it isn't. The former has already linked Friend Connect with Twitter, and that's just the beginning. My prediction is that the mass market will further embrace Twitter for their surveys of the landscape on breaking news (I hope somebody's watching tweets at the White House), while remaining loyal to Google as their main knowledge library.

To begin using Twitter's search engine, simply type in a term much like you would use Google. The same operators also work; for instance if you are looking for an exact term, put it in quotation marks like this: "Kobe Bryant". (A full list of operators can be found by clicking here)

How does this help you? Here's a quick suggestion: if you are looking for more business, try typing in a generic term that is relevant to what you do. For example - if you are a Realtor, type "looking for apartment". You'll see tons of tweets from people talking about their quest for new digs. If you localize your search using the advanced search tool, you can narrow your results by location. Quite frankly, most of the results right now are in NYC, but as this service continues to gain buzz, you'll get more results in the local area. Here are the tweet results:"Suffern+NY"+within:50mi.

Rockland Web Design occasionally searches for tweets based on the term "need a website". The result is a list of some possible future clients. I know I'm giving out some information that other web development companies may use, but it's ok since we're all professionals looking to help the client.

Anyway, I hope this clears up a little of the mystery surrounding Twitter. I would certainly recommend to keep a close eye on the latest innovations that this young company creates around its service. It's yet another cool technological advance that we have at our disposal. RockOn.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Power of Appreciation

Recently I had a birthday. I'm not saying that to get any more well-wishes (please forward all checks to my P.O. box), rather I am reporting to you on what I noticed from the other side of the coin.

Usually I wax philosophical about how it is a really good strategy to give approbation and praise to those that you have as friends on Facebook. I call it "Social Capital". The idea is that if you congratulate, celebrate, empathize and relate with others in your network, they will do the same for you, and it will increase awareness of your business. More importantly, it makes others feel good.

But up until now I was simply guessing that such a practice makes people feel good. Then, on October 31st I opened up my Facebook to see a bunch of Happy Birthdays on my wall. I have to say, it really made me feel...well, special. And because I felt special, I wanted to personally thank each and every person for the birthday wishes. Since that day two weeks ago, I have had an even greater dialogue with each of those individuals. Some of them are business associates, some are acquaintances, and some are friends. All of them are people that I appreciate to a greater degree, simply for clicking a button or two and leaving a Happy Birthday message.

My point is that you can do the same for others. Follow the golden rule and give the same sort of appreciation that you wish to receive. Not only will it help your business, but it will make your day flow a little better as you find that people really do care.

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

P.S. Want to integrate all your social networks in a snap? Call Rockland Web Design! We have a simple, very low-cost solution that will save you time and effort, and help your business gain more exposure.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Example of Great Customer Service

I just took a quick lunch break, and went deeper into a favorite book of mine, Zag, by Marty Neumeier. I won't bore you with the details, but it is a book about helping companies to establish a brand for themselves that are unique, and needed in the marketplace.

A great example is on pages 77 -78. A Middle Eastern couple has a coffee shop that they run every day except for Christmas. (Geez and I thought I worked hard) They worked night and day to make sure that their customers were well taken care of; they gradually developed a loyal clientele by giving out loyalty cards, as well as anticipating what their customers needed before they even walked through the front door. For instance, if they saw a customer's car that they were familiar with, the customer's favorite drink would be created before he or she even walked through the door. Customers would get to know each other, and the place turned into a popular coffee bar.

Then September 11th hit.

Ironically, a Starbucks opened up on September 12 right across the street. You'd figure that "9/11", "Starbucks" and "Middle Eastern" converged to put an end to their customer base...but it wasn't so. As a matter of fact, there was a line around the street corner of people who were showing their support for the nice Middle Eastern family, who put their hard work into making their customers feel special.

It just goes to show how important it is for all of us to work hard to take care of the people we serve.

Ok, back to work. :-)

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why We Are Still Lucky - Freedom.

In the past few months, I've floundered in trying to come up with a suitable blog to close out the three part series "The Good, the Bad and the Lucky". First we talked about all the cool things that will begin to occur in 2009. Then we talked about the controversial changes that we will need to endure. Quite frankly, every time I re-read those blogs, I still could not come up with enough convincing reasons that would cause all of us - including myself - to believe once again that the good outweighs the bad, and we are still fortunate as ever to live in this great Country. I mean, with all the terrible happenings in the world, the difficulties we face on a daily basis, as well as the general negativity of our environments at this integral moment in time, how can we consider ourselves lucky?

I'd like to tell you a story.

A man named J____ was very prosperous in life. J had all the wealth one could possibly desire, as well as a beautiful wife, many sons and daughters, and a rich collection of family and friends with whom he could share his hopes and dreams. The man was also a very successful businessperson, and was well known for the quality of his products and services.

One day, two very powerful associates of J who held sway and influence in much of his life, had a private conversation, and debated who was more favored by this man. They then plotted to destroy his empire, and find out which one of them he ultimately sought for help. One of them volunteered to do the dirty work, the other just kind of kicked back and observed - hoping that J would be able to survive the treachery. First, the "bad dude" (yeah I like my metaphors) set out to destroy his reputation as a good businessperson. Next he spread rumors that he was an unfaithful husband. When those tactics did not work, he finally resorted to assasination of family and friends. In the end, J had nothing left. His business went bankrupt, his wife left him, and his family and friends were gone. He was ruined.

That's when the bad dude started visiting, and tried to convince J to rely on him to help re-build his empire. He tried everything...documentation, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, threats, bribery and extortion, to make this man see that the very powerful indivdual that stood before him ultimately held the keys to his rebound in life.

In the end, it all backfired. J wouldn't listen to the bad dude's reasoning, and threw the man out of his shack. He then chose to seek out the dude that stayed away from involvement in the destruction of his empire, and was secretly rooting for him all throughout his trials and tribulations.

The gentleman altruistically helped J get back on his feet. He lobbied the press to reinstate J's good will with business associates, introduced him to new potential family members and friends. He remarried - this time to a woman that completely trusted him and believed in him. He developed new and stronger relationships with friends. He started a family again. Over time, reestablished his kingdom, which was now stronger than ever.

One day some years later, the Good Dude came to see J. As they reminisced about the good and bad times, J recalled that his friend did not appear during his toughest moments in life. When asked why he did not come to help during his trials, the dude said "I was always available to help you...but you needed to come to me of your own free will."

The story above is actually Biblical in nature. It is the story of Job (with some Footprints in the Sand thrown in for good measure), which in my personal opinion is the mid-point between the Old and New Testaments. Much like World War II vets often say when you speak to them about post-war America, I believe "Something changed after that point".

I don't claim to be a prognosticator, nor do I have any answers to life's complex questions. But I do know that the story above is likely something that we can all relate to at some point in our lives. Whether we are businesspersons, politicians, family people, or even just trying to keep our heads above water, we have all gone through tough times. I think it's safe to say we're all in such a time right now. On a National level, we can look through the last 200 years of our History and say that we have seen many integral moments come and go (American Revolution, Civil War, Great Depression, World Wars, Civil Rights Movement), each with the conclusion of a hopefully better future.

If you look at the litany of positives and negatives that I listed in my blog during this three part series, you'll see at least a few things to latch onto - perhaps creating a greener society for our children's children, or to figure out ways to protect our National integrity without damaging that of others, or to protect the innocent from harm.

The bottom line is this: The reason why we are still lucky is that we still have the freedom to align ourselves with those who want to make the world a better place. Much like Job did, he could see through all of the trickery, deceit and malice; he chose to seek out one who would genuinely help to rebuild his life, and empower him to continue to do good deeds during his existence. We need to be constantly on guard to ensure that we continually seek out such good people, genuinely inspired to help.

Who knows what the world will be like in 20 years? Will a Utopian, interconnected society with less poverty crime and war emerge? Or will it be a post-apocolyptic war zone? Scary stuff...the most troubling part of this is that we might not have a say-so in the outcome. But we do what we can; we still have the freedom to choose what is right for ourselves, our family and friends, our city, our country and even our international friends...we can make that small difference. But we have to care enough to work toward making that difference. The moment you give up on making such a difference is the moment that you'll be visited by that one dude who promises you the world, and ultimately has nothing to show for it.

And during those moments of indecision, remember that if you actively seek out good friends, family and individuals who can aid you in your journey to creating that Utopian society we all seek, well then you're still ahead of the game.

Voltaire said it quite well in his book Candide: We must tend to our gardens. In other words, don't worry so much about what's going on out there in the world; concern yourself with the things that you have the ability to change.

I don't really know how to end this blog except to encourage you to never stop trying to make the world a better place, not just for yourself, but for others. If you do that, I can assure you that your are truly a lucky person. :-)

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Bad News About 2009 (Part II of III)

In my last blog I began a three-part series entitled "The Good, the Bad, and the Lucky". In part I, I listed a few ways that we can be hopeful about 2009, including reasons such as innovation, volunteerism and environmentally sounder decision-making.

Since that blog, I've been labeled a traitor, a tree-hugging liberal, and several other derogatories that cannot be listed here, kids. However, I think this blog that I write now will balance things out...hopefully so that we can have a completely clear view of what to expect in the future, good and bad. I encourage you to send hate mail/comments if you disagree. No expletives, please.

Now - the bad news. Read on to learn about the downside of 2009.

The Bad: Part II of II

It's been over 2 months since a new administration has taken hold. Are we surprised that the world has not yet become a Utopian paradise as promised during the campaign? 

Luckily, according to the latest Gallup Polls, Americans for the most part understand that our economic and cultural shifts will take time to implement. 60% of those polled still have a favorable view of this administration, and most of those do understand that the nation's current economic woes are not a direct result of the decisions made during the past 2 months...yet.

There are more downsides to 2009, not just economic. At the risk of inducing you to swig a few more shots of Pepto-Bismol, I encourage you to read through the following blog to understand that beyond our personal money and survival concerns, there are some other things to which we should devote our vigilance.
  1. Economic seismic shifts - As we've already seen, the President has taken on the Financial Sector and the Auto Industry. In each case,  massive downsizing and reorganizations have been put into play, in exchange for taxpayer funding in the billions. The most recent casualty is Richard Wagoner, CEO of GM (forced out of office in part by the Obama Administration). But the real ripple effect will occur within the UAW, the collective bargaining union that is responsible for the auto workers of American Auto manufacturers.

    A little history lesson: according to Joseph B. White of the Wall Street Journal, the UAW's relationship with GM has prevented the car manufacturer from downsizing its operations for over 20 years. When Honda began making automobiles in the United States in 1982, their workers were primarily non-union, which led to a leaner, meaner organization on our shores. GM, in contrast, continued to capitulate to the wishes of the UAW, and subsequently has spent over $103 billion in health care and pensions alone for the past 15 years. Further, another $20 billion will be needed by GM to fund these plans beginning in 2010. Where will the money come from?...

    The net result is going to be the same in every industry bailout - bloated, oversized organizations will partly or fully become the property of the United States Government, while it eliminates jobs, increases unemployment, and thusly puts pressure on other industries to remain solvent, primarily by driving prices up to compensate for lost revenues. Taxes will also rise - a lot. On this note I definitely do not claim to be an expert, but speak to any fiscal conservative and you will hear a resoundingly similar theme emerge.

    According to latest analysis by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, this pattern will continue to occur for several quarters, potentially ending at the close of 2009.

  2. Moral and Ethical Debates - The stage is set for several very contentious issues to come to the forefront of American Politics, again. Regardless of what side of the coin you fall on, your notions of right and wrong will be challenged. I do not write to change your mind one way or the other on these issues, however I will list a few to remind you of your need to be aware and potentially active in the ongoing national debate:

    (Each topic is linked to pages on, which explains more about the subject matter. Nothing graphic or obscene is linked, whatsoever)

    - Partial birth abortion (pregnancy termination in 8th and 9th month)
    - Euthanasia of terminally ill or advanced age individuals
    - Stem Cell research from human embryos
    - Freedom to worship in a manner chosen by the individual
    - Same sex marriages and adoption by same sex couples
    - Capital punishment / death penalty
    - Torture of detainees by US Government agencies

    At the core of these issues, I believe the questions to ask are these:
    - "Who is the individual?"  
    - "What rights are afforded to the individual?",
    - "Should these  rights of the individual be sacrificed for the good of the nation / world?"

    Deep questions. Good luck.

  3. National Integrity - A very sensitive topic during the 2008 elections had to do with as the famous / infamous Michael Savage describes; Borders, Language, Culture. As my Uncle and I argue about nonstop, there is a line that needs to be protected in order to maintain the cohesiveness of the United States. It is evident in our National policies toward immigration / national defense, our education curriculum, and our embrace of world ethnicity. But where that line should be varies, depending upon who you talk with.

    Reverting back to history for a moment, The Roman Empire formally ended in 476 AD, after centuries of political debate, in-fighting with steadily approaching Germanic tribes, and a military establishment that grew too vast, not being able to change with the times (kind of like GM with swords and horses). Thereafter, until 1453, the Roman floundered as a second rate collection of nations, attempting to regain its former glory and maintain its political influence. 

    In a way, we can think of the United States as a modern day Roman Empire, what with all its years of expansion and contraction. The policies of presidents and administrations since the 1950's (when outgoing President Eisenhower warned of the expanding industro-military complex) have brought America to one side of the coin or the other - bend to the will of various nations of the world, or muscle other nations into agreeing with our policies.

    It will be very interesting to see if the current Presidential Administration parallels the history of the Roman empire over the next few years. Hadrian's Wall might have already been built (think technology, folks). But has Diocletian emerged to lead our country, or perhaps another infamous emperor?

Obviously, In several parts of this blog, I've been free-flowing to get some ideas out there that might cause you in web-land to ponder our collective futures. The bottom line is that we don't know what is in store for the United States during the rest of 2009. Much of it is likely going to be stressful, and test ourselves and our businesses more than ever before. While I want to keep this blog on a cautious note - I will say that I am still optimistic about the Nation...and the World's future in the short and long term. In my next blog, I will discuss why we are "lucky".

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Good News about 2009 (Part I of III)

Now that everyone has come down off their contact high with the groundbreaking election (dare I say a well deserved victory), we can all start doing our work to figure out what the heck we civilians should be doing to help turn things around. If you've been following this blog for the last few months, I've been posting advice on how to get everything done more efficiently in the world of web, tech, computers and sometimes your interpersonal relationships (hint: if you try to put  your wife in Hibernate mode, it's time to take a step back from work).

Anywho, in my stream of consiousness way, I'd like to begin a three part series: The Good, the Bad, and the Lucky. Now I know all of you out there in Internet world want to get rolling right away with the lucky...but if you've earned your bones in business you know luck is something that is earned - not freely given. BTW Click here for an article from about the scientific background of luck. So I encourage you to thouroughly read through the first two parts of the series, and then roll with the third. Think of it as your trip through Heaven & Hell on the way to the Truth of things.

So, let's begin...

The Good: Part I of III

Most of us saw history in the making two weeks ago. The election of President Barack Obama has given a decent number of Americans - and members of the International Community - that small slice of Hope that things are gonna get better in the coming years. Of course for some in Middle America, the concept of having a President in office that doesn't think that Jay-Z is a well marketed sneaker manufacturer might be new to some, but I imagine that over time, the culture shock of that revelation will sink in, and we will all live in better harmony with one another.

Beyond this, there are some really, really cool things that the President brings to office. I will cite three in this blog.

For a primer on the first item, please quickly check out this article: Obama's personal win: keeping the BlackBerry - Yahoo! News.

Special thanks to Linda O'Donnell from Home Instead Senior Care for providing this article. 

Awesome thing #1: Yes folks that is correct - Mr. President will be bringing the concept of technology back into the Oval Office. It will start with the Blackberry that he often checks to keep in touch with friends and family (no, he's not TMing Abdimihniminiajed just yet), but if he sticks to his intent, we may just have the first President in history to have a laptop on his desk. 

Seemingly innocuous as it sounds, that is a wonderful cultural shift for Americans in general. As noted in the inaugural speech, the President cited our responsibility to help to return our Nation back to a place that we can all be proud of once again. Part of that challenge to us involves embracing ideas and initiatives that can help us to overcome the latest supposedly insurmountable odds that have been stacked against us. To accomplish this, I feel that embracing technology as a whole will play an integral part of the picture moving forward. More people will get on board - and not just soccer Moms checking up on their kid's activities on Facebook (a good thing).

Just think about the devices you use on a daily basis. From GPS systems to mobile phones to your computer loaded up with Microsoft Office (probably 2003...but you just gotta try 2007 - it rocks), most of us already have all the tools we need to more intricately track the projects, prospects and profit that flows through our hands on a daily basis. And when the financial industry recovers from its severely flawed processes of indulgence, the phoenix rising from the ashes will be - as my good friend Sven from Valley Cabinets says - "leaner and meaner". 

Additionally, new technologically savvy tracking methods, compliance and regulatory practices will be locked in, preventing the most affluent and wealthy of our society from taking more than their share...well, for the most part. I mean there will always be a few people who benefit from bucking the system and causing great harm, but in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it, always."

From an Intenet-based perspective, the picture is even brighter. Just looking at some of the current trends, we can already see a difference:
  • One survey cited 49% of retail respondents updating their web presence, either through design, development or search engine optimization
  • 76% of those expect higher sales as a result of their initiative
  • In December of 2008, Facebook added 222 million new unique visitors, and has grown 10% each month since September of '08. It is gearing itself up as a marketing platform for a new generation of people - not just to throw a fake snowball at your friends list (ugh), but to let your crew know what you and your business are really all about. (Source: Advertising Age - February 2, 2009)
  • New kid trends on the block will continue to grow, such as cloud computing - which allows many to start businesses and use only the small amount of resources they need in order to get things done. a good example is, which charges a monthly rate for Customer Relationship Management tools for the mobile workforce. This translates to a more measured way of doing business - akin to the concept of pay as you go mobile phones, which will open the doors of commerce to a new startup generation.
Positive shift #2 is that sharing and giving are back en vogue. For those of you who sympathize with Bernie Madoff, let me explain in very simple terms: The 2/3 of the world that don't have the advantages that the rest of us are blessed with NEED OUR HELP. And through the advent of new government-inspired programs, as well as truly good-hearted people such as Sensei Mike Malandra, those who suffer will not be forgotten.

Believe it or not, great rewards can be garnered from the simple child-like Faith to give. Take for example Mohammed Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. He took the concept of Microcredit and applied it to the financial industry, offering very small loans to humble impoverished souls who could not offer any collateral. Astoundingly, the loans were paid back, and Grameen continues to grow today. In 2006, Mr. Yunus received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Click here to learn more about Grameen Bank.

Even if you're sitting at home in your PJ's thinking "yeah whatever", let me put this out there for thought - I admittedly haven't had that much time on my hands this past year, working to organize Rockland Web Design into a business that can provide attractive, affordable and measurable website results (that's my 5 second commercial). However, one day after our radio show last year I was blessed with the presence of a woman who has struggled throughout her entire life. All she has wanted to do is make a difference...simple as that. And through our now weekly conversations, we're finding ways to keep that dream alive, even when it seems all hope is lost. (If you're reading this, ---------, I'll do my best to help you with the Anti-smoking initiative. ) My point is that you don't have to donate your entire life; just reserve some time each week to give back. Simple as that.

Cool thing #3 is that the world just got a little greener. :-) Over 50 billion dollars of the economic stimulus plan is reserved for energy efficiency projects, such as a smart electric grid, loan guarantees for renewable energy and more. This is a huge incentive for companies older than the first Christmas fruitcake to finally get on board, retool their manufacturing / production processes, and finally keep tabs on the environment.

One of my biggest pet peeves is paper. Way back when I used to work at Next Steps as a technology instructor, and I kept on pushing the staff to go completely digital. And while I do admit that paper has its purpose (recreational reading and quilted wiping), I still can't reconcile the unbelievable amount of paper waste that exists in this area even in light of our efforts toward recycling. So, I found a great tool that may help Rockland Web Design as we return from our networking and on-site Internet service efforts...the NeatDesk! It is a high speed scanning system that allows one to empty their pockets and desks of receipts, contracts and invoices, popping them into an Automatic Document Feeder and digitizing everything. When I saw it in action, I nearly cried.

Pardon the fuzziness, I needed to reduce the size of the embed coding.

Back to the point, a hopefully real green initiative means several things:
  • A new industry and opportunity for businesses to in which to grow,  innovate, profit
  • A source of employment for Americans searching for the next growth sector
  • Less waste and more reusable materials to get our work done
  • Perhaps, just perhaps...the existence of a breathable Earth in 2050
  • and very, very cool cars - check out the Aptera, currently being tested in Cali

For those of you that are looking for more hard numbers to justify all the Faith and Hope that I've spouted out in this article, all I've got is links to lots and lots of resources which may satisfy the naysaying for now (Peter Griffin: "And for all you naysayers, I have one thing to say to you...Cmon...cmon!".) If you read the next blog: "The Bad, Part II of III", you'll probably relish its content much much more. But for those of you that still have a little spark left in you, those that wonder if tomorrow can actually produce believable, significant meaning in our and others' lives, for those who are ready to RockOn...I salute you. This is your time. Let's get to it.

See you next week. Bring your notebook.

Tom Ossa
Web Strategist
Rockland Web Design
Stony Point, NY
(845) 271 - 4488

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How to Be More Automatic

A few days ago, I patted myself on the back.

As 2009 rolled in, I realized that Rockland Web Design needed to change all of its forms, web-based materials and other important files with some updated company information. I was not relishing the idea of doing this; the vision of sitting at the desk until 2:30 am flashed through my mind a few times. Something like that should only be reserved for when you're hiding from the wrath of your significant other...wocka wocka.

So finally I convinced myself to start the project, and believe it or not - it took only a quarter of the time that I expected. Yay! The reason why is because I listened to some very important advice from my programmer friend Matt Galemmo of Deluge Interactive: "Always think automation." So, at the beginning of last year, I started 

As most of us go through our workdays, there are 50,000 urgent little  things that - at first glance - seem to look like the coming of the AntiChrist unless attended to within 14 seconds of first knowledge of them. And while you'll hear a few different theories on how to handle them, the truth is that they don't just magically go away - even after you take care of the most important, long-term tasks that will help your company grow, you will still need to go back to your "priority 3" tasks and start mopping up the mess.

So below are 5 techie suggestions to help you automate your daily tasks, and help you to deal with them in a more timely fashion:
  1. "Think automation" in everything you do: Matt was right - if you start thinking about your urgent tasks in terms of how things could be sped up when encountered, you start considering very, very cool solutions for making your life easier. 

  2. Detect patterns: If you see or hear something once, no big deal. If you start hearing the same problem occurring over and over again, you have a real opportunity to make the situation easier to deal with, if you stop and consider the root cause. But first you need to detect the recurring situation, such as too many emails to answer, difficulty in generating contracts, filling out forms.

  3. Take time to discover a solution to the problem: Face it, you are probably not laying out the technical schematic of a solution oriented module that will alleviate the designated core challenge. So the hell with it...just sit down at your computer and create something that will actually work, and keep tinkering with it until it is as close to perfect as possible. Just don't get too O.C.D. about Irene Gutmann from Eagle Life Coaching reminded me recently, "we are not God, and sometimes good enough is good enough."

  4. Create templates: For instance, if your forms need to be updated every year, perhaps you should be creating templates or re-usable documents that allow you to change the information once or twice in a few locations, and once saved, automatically changes all your other documents. Sweeeeet!

  5. Deploy your new system: I just wanted to write the word "deploy". But what I really mean is to take your new system out for a spin. If it doesn't make your life easier, go back to steps 3 and 4 and work on it again. If it does, start plopping information into it. One thing I am planning for the office for the New Year is to use a paper-scanning system called NeatCo, which allows you to literally walk in the office, drop 35 or so paper items into a mega-scanner tool, and it all shows up on your PC. No more clutter on the desk, and once it gets in the computer each item can be quickly filed to the place where it belongs. rockOn!
Make sense? Good. Now try it out this week. Here's a few examples of places in your business life that you can start with the 5 steps:
  • Sales leads - Every time the phone rings, a new email comes in, or you return from a network meeting, do you have a place to put your stuff that you can easily access? If when a contact calls you and it takes you more than 15 seconds to find their information, the answer is no. Consider either creating an Excel Spreadsheet with all your lead information, or perhaps employ a web-based system such as Salesforce to enter information. If you need something a bit more customized for your company, Rockland Web Design can build a good web based system for you, which can be accessed from anywhere.

  • Financials - hopefully your company is doing this already, but I strongly recommend that you use an accounting software or web application such as Quickbooks to maintain every penny your company spends. And if you are inexperienced in using it, get an expert to help set it up. I used Karen Caccavo from Personal Money Manager. If you live in Rockland, Bergen, or Westchester County, give her a call.

  • Contracts - When a new sale is created, do you take a long time to write up your contracts from scratch? On Word Documents, there is a little-known function called "MacroButton". It helps you to add quick information to a contract in key locations, leaving the rest to be typed once and done. Learn more about MacroButton by clicking here.

  • Website - I don't need to toot our own horn here, so I won't. If you don't use Rockland Web Design currently, that is ok. But keep your mind open to suggestions from your web person to make many of your daily tasks as automatic as possible. A recent client of ours is very happy that we thought through some daily tasks of theirs with an eye on the long-term, so now they can log in and add their stuff quickly and easily.
There are plenty of other examples. Feel free to post your stories about how you automated your world. 

Also, a great resource for thinking ahead Steven Covey's book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". The book changed my life about 10 years ago. I hope it will, or has done the same for you.

And finally, I'd like to say this; if you are frustrated, if you are saying "Oh my God I just can't take this anymore!"'s ok. The only way we grow as businesspersons...and as human beings, is to go through the trials and tribulations of continuing to work to get it right. As Irene had mentioned, "good enough is good enough". So if you don't get it the first few times, keep trying to adjust. Just don't make the mistake of giving up on adjustments. If you do, I can recommend a really good Chiropractor to do it for you.

Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Dark Side of Social Networking - Viruses

No...I'm not talking about the viruses you can catch when you Socially Network in person.

If you're reading this, you're probably a web-savvy person. But even those that have a higher level of tech knowledge are getting hit by a seemingly innocuous which could spell great trouble if not avoided.

Several days ago, a very good friend of mine posted an item on my wall stating that she posted my profile pix on "Floatfaint-com". (You'll notice that I wrote a dash instead of a dot - that's because if it were a dot, it might show up as a link, and Facebook might detect it and try to remove the posting...also I don't want you to go there accidentally, because I care, dammit) Anyway, of course I wanted to check it out because I was curious. But once I got there, I was asked for my user name and password; a BIG NO-NO.

After checking around, I found a lot of my friends had the same problem. After doing some research I found out that there is a new wave of attacks by morally destitute hackers - this one was not as harmful as most, but is used to trick a person into submitting their email address and other information, presumably for the purpose of spamming. A blogger from the reputable security company Trend Micro found that the spammer owns several hundred domains, and is known to have links to cybercriminals. 

There are other dangerous attacks that are of them in recent months is named the Koobface Virus, which hacks into a profile to gather personal information, and potentially turn a victim's computer into a Zombie attacking computer, takes your cc info, etc. etc.

I quickly informed my friend of the situation. She was smart to quickly change her password, and also notify all of her friends that any such posts are NOT from her.  Great job!

Here are five ways you can prevent a Social Networking Attack:

  1. Check the source - a new website, idea or fun application is not necessarily bad. But in line with Bill Gates' motto "Trust But Verify", make sure you find out where this thing comes from. If someone recommended a site to you, check with that person before installing anything or visiting the site. If you receive an email, look at the email address very closely to ensure it is from a reputable source. And before you install anything with a .exe extension, double and triple check the source!

  2. Protect your password like George Costanza - You remember that episode where he wouldn't give the password "Bosco" out to anyone...even his fiancee or a guy stuck in a burning ATM booth? That might be a bit extreme, but if your password or profile information is requested, be vewwwy vewwwy careful.

  3. Don't install tons of third party applications - Let's face(book) it, we allow a lot of apps to access our personal info. But how many of them do we actually use? I do use a few like Superpoke, Test Your IQ and What Superhero are you (I was Professor Xavier), but we don't have enough time to use all of them. Therefore I suggest that you keep your apps down let's say 10. And make sure others have used them so you know they are safe

  4. Help your friends protect themselves - If you see something suspect on someone else's profile, let them know. If they don't respond right away you might want to even consider writing on their wall to ignore particular messages that may have been posted as a result of a hack. I did this when my friend did not respond right away, and I think she appreciated it. (If you don't hear from me in a week, it means she did not appreciate it, and she used a baseball bat to state her case).

  5. This one is pretty Captain Obvious, but make sure you have good anti-virus and anti-spyware protection. I recommend AVG or Norton for Antivirus, and Spybot as an AntiSpy. Also check out Comodo - a free firewall that I've used for the last year. It is a paranoid little program, but my PC has been safe thus far.
Some additional resources regarding the latest Facebook Information:
Hey everyone...Happy New Year. I know some of you out there are worried about the economy and the state of the world, but remember that success isn't just measured in dollars and cents. Care for your fellow human beings, and the rest will take care of itself. God Bless all of you in 2009 and beyond. "rockOn!"


Tom Ossa
Rockland Web Design
(845) 271 - 4488