Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Best practise for copy and print protection of common office documents

My clients often asked me, whether there is a possibility to handout sensible information in that way, that it cant be copied or reused for competitive reasons.
  • First, there are no self-destroying archives and probably wont be in near future. 
  • Second there will  never be 100% protection against anything people can see. 
Fortunately there are some ways, that avoid pretty easy to download certain information and therefore make it difficult printing them out or to distribute other then doing screen-shots or  photographs screen by screen. While there quite some solutions to pack written software into a share- or trial-version, for handing out a word document to a business partner, this kind of protection seems to be a little too complicated. A solution for companies dealing a lot with security issues, office ownerguard might be a way to protect your ms-office documents. How-ever in order to enjoy full features, you have to do quite an investment, and maybe you do not always want to code your documents for ease of use.

A quite commen tool to protect documents is Adobe Acrobat. Unfortunately today it takes less then 5 minutes to find a tutorial howto crack a password/ or copy protected pdf-file. In opposite to that, it is still quite harder to break an flash-based application-server common document- and presentacion services are using. Docstoc exclaimed in an interview, that they are secure enough to share private information like even business plans. Basically private functions are very likely to get the standard among document sharing plattforms like scribd, slideshare, sliderocket just to mention the most important players in this days. these platforms also offer password protection service, that allow you to track exactly who and at what time documents where opened. Best of all, those services until now are mainly free and sometimes also allow to sale digital documents.

So feel free to register at the services mentioned above for free, play a little bit around, evaluate their size to get an idea, who would have bigger damage in case of failure and just make documents available to your target group the timeslot access is required.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

10 Best Free Applications 2009

As consultant for open source and free aplications, I tried a lot of free software and services in 2009 that made my daily work a lot easier. Therefore I will put a short list, that hopefully will help you to boost productivity.

1. Google Apps

Though I started using Google Mail earlier, Google Apps got my favorite bundle of applications. It really shifted me from working with offline tools to working as much online as possible. The reason is that work gets saved any 15 seconds without interrupting you  and that is available from any place, which is a big plus. Using Googlemail, it perfectly integrates several mail-accounts, syncs several calendars and does not slow down or crash a PC like I was used to from MS Outlook for several years.
Further thanks to its powerful search, Google got established as source for any piece of knowledge. Nowhere else I find that fast information I used 3 years ago at university. And it remains quite convenient to put notes or Information to remember in future no matter where you are. Despite to MS Outlook it also enables me to share calendars and use multiple calendars without any extra cost. 
Google Sites turned out to be a very easy solution for collaboration in projects, thanks to permanent improvements this year, I was able to use Google Sites service not only for project tracking if not for some customer website projects.

2. 7zip
Seven-Zip is a small handy programm, that allows the handling of almost any current compression format. If you install and configure 7zip as default program for opening .zip files, you will save some time, just double-clicking .zip folders to see, whats inside and drag and drop them for further use.

3. Paint.net

Started in 2004 as a student project, Paint.NET has evolved from a simple replacement for the Microsoft Paint program, which is included with Windows, into a powerful editor with support for layers, blending, transparency, and plug-ins. It has been my compaƱion for any quite of quick-editing so far.

4. VLC MediaPlayer
Starting 2001 as open source player by VideoLan, VLC got a serious alternative die Standard Windows Media Player and is also available for other Platforms. It also comes with a lot of codecs, you probably do not find on a preinstalled system.

5. Skype
Skype is the most well known free tool, for making voice calls over internet. They started in 2002 and since that number of supported devices en platform increased constantly. Starting with a proprietary transmission format since 2009 Skype also support Internet-Telephony-Standard SIP With the spread of integrated Laptop Webcams, Skype is on its way to become a standard for Video-Conferencing also. Skype is especially usable for online collaboration and communication within PCs, while its out rates to call fixed network phones or mobile are usually little higher then competitors

6. Teamviewer
Teamviewer is a handy tool for remote support, desktop-sharing and File-Transfer. It comes free for personal use, and all to get connected is to transmit an access adress as will as a PIN-code to get started. Together with Skype it is a good combination to work together over long distance.

7. AVG Antivir
AVG stands for the Antivirus product-line by AVG Technologies, a check company  started as Grisoft 1997. AVG is most known for its free Antivir-Program, that is available for Windows as well as for Liux-versions.
One thing I like especials about free AVG that it comes quite more decently then other free antivir programs.

8.  Picasa
Picasa is Googles Program for Organizing, Editing, Tagging and Publishing your photo collection, Since version 3 it supports the creation of slide-shows as video and is directly linked to its video-platform Youtube. It also gives a lot of free online Space, what might beside Flickr best option for archiving photos as well as sharing them with friends.

9. Sliderocket.com
SlideRocket is a rich internet application for creating stunning presentations. It differentiates though the number of available effects, collaboration functions and usability and can be seen as a good alternative to MS Powerpoint. It is possible to download your presentation for offline presentation. Unfortunately in order to use Sliderocket without cost, trial phase is limited to 30 days. Therefore I usually download my finished presentation to grab them as video and upload then to Youtube, which takes several advantages for promoting them for a longer time.

10. Google Chrome
Since time is money, Google Chrome will be a good option, to speed up your internet web browser. Though still quite new, for regular web browsing it turned out to be my first choice firing faster in comparison to Firefox and Internet Explorer. There are quite some developings going on know, and it is likely that Chrome will play a more important role in future.

Hope that will raise your productivity a little bit, feel free to comment for any sugestions

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Online backup strategies

After trying online backup services from AOL, or later Mozy, then Box.net, 3 weeks ago I installed Windows Live Mesh on my PC, which until now seems to do a quite nice Job automatically synchronizing files from my PC to my live-mesh-account. Also a total of 5GB and no maximum file-size seems to me quite reasonable for a free service. As Wikipedia shows there is a growing market for online backup services, mainly because it is easier, safer, more secure and cheaper then using conventional backup methods like CD/DVD, Zip drive, tape unit or external hard disk. It also allows me to access latest files, independent wheather I am working at home or using another computer at work.
While I usually stopped using free services in past for its affect on system performance and other inconvenience, this time Microsoft seems to have done a good integration (I only tested on WindowsXP yet). Synchronization works smoothly in background, login automatically and I can have several folders to be synced.

As Daniel Jones and other experts quote, it is a good strategy using multiple Backup strategies to raise data available, due to the fact, that most user not start thinking about backups until a painful hard disc crash happened. Internet backups are a good way to start.

Regarding security of data one could see it as advance to trust big players, since the damage in reputation caused by security leaks would probably be bigger then damage at own company. Nevertheless before giving sensitive data to 3rd party provider a more detailed analysis about how Microsoft ensures security in comparison to own possibilities and costs should be taken into consideration.

Cutting costs for WebHosting and MailHosting to zero!

After dealing some years with content management we took notice that most clients payed for web- and mail-hosting including a lot of features they never used nor did not know how to use them. Therefore usability and costs are usually among the most important factors when it comes to think about a provider for mail or a company website. That´s probably why so many companies (Google states over 2 million) have switched to Google Apps.

Why it is better to connect to contacts online?

You probably at least once in your life have been searching for contact data of an old friends who has moved or changed his mobile phone provider. I have been into situations, where friends asked me again for my telephone after they have lost their telephone. Companies usually change faster employees or their current direction then private persons, so having up to date contact data is a definite plus and advantage to any salesman in this world.

With the spread of social network services, it got quite easier to keep in touch, but many companies still did not hit the opportunity yet. Online contact management not only will give you the chance to count on latest contact information if not  find interesting business contact, be found by possible clients or to inform about people, you never have seen before. So what would be the best tool to share contacts online?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Google puts democracy to the whole WWW

Today I learned about Google Sidewiki, a tool enabling any google user with a public profile to comment on any website in the internet as easy as editing a wikipedia article. Though not  perfect yet and much critized, it presents a quite powerful feature to a more transparent Internet and the opportunity to raise quality by faciliate controverse discussion about any topic.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010

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