Tip: Computer Maintenance – Keep it Clean

Proper computer maintenance is key to keeping your systems functioning.  As a computer networking professional in Wichita, I’ve seen machines crash for reasons that could have been avoided with proper maintenance.  Some simple procedures can help ensure that your machine runs normally and be less prone to disasters.

Computer Overheating

A desktop or tower computer is designed for good airflow.  The internal components, expecially the hard drives and processor, create a great deal of heat.  Heat is the enemy.  The design of the case pushes air over the processor and then drags it back out of the machine, usually through the back of the case.  Keeping this airflow design working optimally will help you avoid a costly visit from the computer tech.

  • Close the gaps – If you’ve removed a DVD drive or components from the machine, make sure the cover plates are replaced.  A gaping hole in the front of the case ruins the airflow that is intended.  Sometimes, having the case open more actually makes it hotter.
  • Hunt the bunnies – As the case drags air into the computer, it also drags in contaminants and dust.  Unplug the machine, remove the cover and remove the dust.  Pulling it out with a vacuum is better than blowing the dust with compressed air.  This tends to drive the dust deeper into the components.  Information Technology components are sensitive, so work with care, or call a professional computer consultant.
  • Don’t hide it – One of the worst places a computer can reside is in a desk-side cabinet.  If aesthetics dictate that the sytem be tucked in a cabinet, ensure that there is proper airflow, even if it means cutting a hole in the back of the desk.  The system doesn’t work if the air being sucked into the front is the same hot air that was just blown out of the back of the case.
  • Listen to it – Sometimes your computer is telling you something.  Is it louder than usual?  When a computer is overheating, sometimes it will ramp up the speed of the fans in an attempt to cool itself.  Is the hard drive making a funny noise?  If it sounds odd, it might be a sign that some service is in order.

For IT support in Wichita and surrounding areas, call Proper Technology Solutions at (316) 337-5628 or our after-hours line at (316) 210-7112.  We have certified networking professionals that can help you with anything from computer maintenance to network design and implementation.  If you’re worried about your data in the event of a disaster, talk to us about our online backup solutions.  Your data can be stored offsite in a secure and encrypted environment.

Don’t forget to register for our Free Office 2010 Class – Business 101 being held April 21st from Noon-2pm.

Business, IT Support, Tips

Tip: Wichita IT Support – What is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO.  You have probably seen the letters before, most likely in the glut of emails you may receive from companies offering to rocket your website into the top of the search engine rankings overnight.  Though those companies are talking about search engine optimization, they usually fall into that old saying about something that sounds too good to be true.

Search Engine Optimization is a technique that Internet marketers and consultants use to make a website rank better for certain keyword combinations in the major search engines, primarily Google.  For background, a little bit of detail on how search engines work and how they rank pages.  This is a very general overview as there is a great deal of research, technology and secrecy involved on the part of the engines themselves.

Search Engine Rankings

The primary goal of a search engine is to return relevant results to the user.  Think about the current round of advertising for Bing, where someone is spouting out information that matches the topic, but isn’t really relevant.  If you’re searching for IT support in Wichita, you are probably looking for a local IT company with consultants and network engineers that can resolve your issues and not a company that simply sells computers and parts.

Google is perhaps the best at the science of relevance.  They use a complicated formula, or algorithm, to determine what sites are a relevant match for a particular set of keywords.  The search engine sends out a spider, which reads a website and tries to determine what the website is about.  Google then indexes those results and serves up search results based on their best guess of what is relevant.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO, or I should say good SEO, is a technique used by Internet marketers to help the search engine determine what their website is about.  Call it a helping hand.  My best advice about optimization is that it needs to be natural.  A website about technology support should have a great deal of content about technology support, using exactly those words.  It’s hard for Google to guess what your site is about without seeing those words on your site.  Here are some tips about ways to provide the engines with the helping hand they need to show your website to the right people.

Choose Your Keywords

Decide what words or phrases you would type in the search box if you expected to find your own site.  Ask yourself; what words would my customers use to find my business?

Use Your Keywords in Your Content

Content is king.  If you think your customers will be searching for hand-crafted widgets, talk about hand-crafted widgets.  Describe your products with those exact words.  How is Google supposed to know that when you talk about thingamajigs, you’re actually describing widgets?

Big Words are Important Words

The search engine’s impression of what words are important on the page are sometimes just what you think is important when you read something.  The most important words in this post as you read it are words in bold, or the headlines of articles.  Target your keywords in your headers.

Write Naturally, But Keep Keywords in Mind

I don’t have a formula for how many times you should repeat the same keyword in your text.  Google and other engines will see excessive use of a word as keyword stuffing and penalize it.  You’ve seen sites where the same words are used over and over again repetitively, making the text seem stilted and unnatural.  If you notice it, the search engine will probably notice it as well.

Build Links to Your Website

If your website is about technology support and another popular site about the same topic posts a link to yours, Google and the other engines consider that a vote of confidence in your content.  Beware of the unscrupulous SEO folks that offer overnight results.  They start with a campaign of buying links from other sites to yours.  Most engines are on the lookout for this as well.  If the site is a natural fit with yours, you can ask for a link.  If the webmaster likes your site and content, you just might get it.  There are other ways as well to get links.  Posting to forums about your subject is a start.  Some will let you link to your site in the post.  Though forum post links may not have as much clout, they will do double duty; driving traffic from that website as well as giving you a nudge up in the search engines.

Keep Writing New Content

Fresh content is better than stale content and Google knows it.  I constantly update my site with new information related to IT support and computer consulting, so the engines know it is an active website and therefore may give it more clout as being relevant to the topic.

Hire an Expert

Like anything else in business, steer away from anyone offering a deal that seems too good to be true.  SEO takes time and there are usually no guarantees of results.  If they offer guarantees, they may be using some unethical practices.  You may get an immediate bump, but the engines will find it and penalize it.  Sometimes this will mean a poor ranking or the worst-case, removal from the results entirely.

There are a lot of things a consultant can do to help raise your rankings naturally and honestly.  Here are a few of the steps we take at Proper Technology Solutions that have helped us raise our rankings in the short time our website has been live:

  • Relevant keywords in our page content an blog posts – IT support, network design, onsite service, information technology.
  • Current content – Daily blog posts about IT-related issues.
  • Keyword monitoring – Daily checking of how our site is ranking in relation to the terms we think our customers are using to find us.
  • Sitemaps – Google allows you to submit sitemaps as a guideline of what you want them to index.
  • Online presence – We participate in forums and write articles for other sites, providing us with relevant links.

Follow some of the tips above and you should see some results.  If you need assistance, feel free to call me at Proper Technology Solutions at (316) 337-5628 or our after-hours line at (316) 210-7112.  We can look at your site and come up with some plans to help you succeed.  It might be just a consultation with advice and some steps you can take, or you may decide to have us regularly perform some of the steps above.  Whatever your business needs, we will be happy to lend a hand.

IT Support, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Tips , , ,

Online Backup Services – Protect Your Data

Let’s face it.  The days of magnetic tape are gone or are fast going over the horizon.  Tape backups and the procedures required are prone to human and mechanical error.  The administrator may forget to change the backup tapes nightly, or even when she does, the tapes don’t function correctly when they are needed most.

Even today’s newer backup tapes (actually just removable hard drives) are prone to both issues.  These ‘data cartridges’ are just an updating of the same old methodology.

More and more IT support professionals are moving to the next generation of backup, online backup or cloud backup.  You may have heard either term and unless you don’t watch television or listen to the radio, you’ve heard of Carbonite and Mozy, two of the pioneers of affordable online backup for consumers.

The problem with these one size fits all companies is that your IT infrastructure is unique.  Even though they come with support, you may not have the in-house technical resources to implement them or recover your files in the event of an emergency.

Proper Technology Solutions has started offering an online backup product, Proper Backup in order to be able to provide our customers with local support and implementation of their backup services.  Companies with one server can backup critical data; 25GB worth of storage capable of backing up your databases and important user files is available as low as $24.95 per month.  We will come on site or remote control your server and install the software with little intervention other than your input on what needs to be protected.

Monitoring is built in to the service.  We receive daily reports on your backup status and are able to remediate issues as they arise.

If you’re interested in learning more about online backup, call us at (316) 337-5628 or our after hours support line (316) 210-7112.  For all your IT support needs in Wichita and surrounding areas, Proper Technology can provide the expertise you need at prices your business can afford, starting at just $70 per hour with no minimum service charges.

Applications, Business, Cloud Computing, online backup , ,

Tip: Windows 7 Support – Pin It, Unpin It!

Today’s tip from IT support helps you keep your most needed applications right where you need them, without cluttering up the desktop with a sea of icons (guilty).

If you’re running Windows 7 (if not, call us about  moving!), the Start Menu is hiding behind the little Microsoft Flag at the bottom left corner of the screen.  To the right of the Start menu are your Taskbar icons, most likely Outlook, Internet Explorer and Windows Explorer.  Let’s look at both and customize them to your liking.

Step 1: Click on the flag to open your start menu.  Notice on the left pane there are icons above the line and icons below the line:

Windows 7 Start Menu

Windows 7 Start Menu

The items below the line are your recently used applications.  This list changes as you use applications on your system.  Above the line are your Start Menu items.  These are stuck or pinned to the start menu.  I use Microsoft Word all the time as an information technology consultant and business owner, so let’s pin that one to the Start Menu.

Step 2: Right-click on the application you want to pin.  Two of the options you see are Pin to Start Menu and Pin to Taskbar:

Pin to Start Menu and Pin to Taskbar Options

Pin to Start Menu and Pin to Taskbar Options

Choose Pin to Start Menu to bring Microsoft Word above the line and keep it there.  Take a quick detour and right-click an application above the line.  Unpin is now your option.  While we’re at it, right-click Word again and choose Pin to Taskbar.  Notice the icon appears in at the bottom of the screen:

Word on the Windows 7 Taskbar

Word on the Windows 7 Taskbar

Right-clicking on any icon will also give you the option to unpin.  Left-clicking and dragging the icon will let you reshuffle their order on the Taskbar.  Play around and get used to how the options work.  You’ll have your desktop and start menus efficient and customized for you in just a few minutes.

Information Technology Training in Wichita

On April 21st from Noon-2pm, we’re offering our free Lunch and Learn class, Office 2010, Business 101.  Bring a lunch and a laptop or just stop by with a notepad and learn some quick-start tips for Microsoft Office.  Don’t worry if you have an earlier edition as most of our support tips will work in Office 2003 and 2007 as well.

Please call or email to register as space will be limited.  We will be hosting the event in our office at Office Park Plaza at Douglas and Oliver in Wichita.  Drop in to learn and see what they’ve done with this beautiful and historic building in the Douglas Design District.

For IT support in Wichita and surrounding areas, call the Information Technology professionals at Proper Technology Solutions at (316) 337-5628 or our after hours support line at (316) 210-7112.  We can lower your IT support costs by offering computer repair, installation, maintenance and network consulting at rates as low as $70/hour with no minimum service charges.  We will work with you to transition from another consulting firm without charging you for our learning-curve as we learn the ins and outs of your particular network.


Applications, IT Support, Tips , , , , ,

Does Your Consultant Leverage Your Service Contracts?

We have all paid the bills for application software.  Have you ever noticed the line about technical support?  If your tech support person isn’t leveraging this asset, you may be paying more than you should to keep your applications running at peak performance.

I went to work for a customer this morning to resolve a simple Internet issue.  Lo and behold, a major application had crashed on the server, causing the problem.  Once Internet service was restored, I performed some quick troubleshooting to find the cause of the application issue.  As a network consultant, there are common elements I can check to see if there will be a simple resolution.  In this case, I found that the software manufacturer would need to troubleshoot the application.  After all, they have the knowledge and the training required to do the job in a more efficient manner.

After scheduling with the service department for the application, I discussed the issues with my customer and informed them that tech support would be in touch to resolve the issue and that I planned to followup during the day if I don’t hear back from them.  This way, I was able to stop billing my customer for work that they have effectively already contracted.  I also informed my customer to call me if they don’t hear anything soon.

Sometimes it takes a trained IT professional to work with the tech support department, sometimes it does not.  Most support agreements will allow a remote technician to log into your system to repair issues.  If you are paying for it, use it.  In most cases, the remote operator is trained to work with non-technical users.

If you need IT support in Wichita KS or surrounding areas, call Proper Technology Solutions, LLC at (316) 337-5628 or after hours at (316) 210-7112.

Business, IT Support , , , ,

Tip: PowerPoint – Templates Make Life Easier

If you’re not harnessing the power of office.com in your use of Microsoft Office 2010, you are depriving yourself of a wealth of free professional content.

Today’s tip will help you leverage the free templates in Microsoft PowerPoint, helping you find a template that will allow you to create a professional presentation with as little effort as possible.

Finding the Templates in PowerPoint 2010

Open Microsoft Powerpoint and you get a default, blank presentation.  Boring.  Let’s spice things up by reviewing the template options.  Don’t despair.  You can use these templates and make them your own, easily.  For more on this, check out the link to our April 21st free training event at the end of this entry.

Step 1: Click on the File tab, then click on New.


Creating a New Presentation
Creating a New Presentation

Step 2: Review your options in the Office.com Templates Section.  See what’s out there.  For this exercise, we will choose PowerPoint Presentations and Slides.

PowerPoint Presentations and Slides

PowerPoint Presentations and Slides

Step 3: Next we see a group of folders breaking the free templates down into groups.  This is where I want you to explore.  Look at all the groups and the type of content they contain.  Remember, you are free to use it all.

PowerPoint Template Categories

PowerPoint Template Categories

Step 4: For our example, choose Business Presentations.  Click on each to highlight the option, then look at the description pane at the right of the screen for more details and a download link.

Template Description and Download

Template Description and Download

Step 5: Download a template and start experimenting.  You may even find a complete presentation if you are presenting on a standard topic!

This is just a quick way to get started.  If you’re looking for a little more, visit our upcoming free training event:

Office 2010 – Business 101  : April 21st from Noon-2pm

Bring your lunch and a laptop, or just a notepad and we will cover some basic usage techniques for Office 2010 products.  Still on an older version, don’t worry; most of the tips we cover will work in Office 2007 and 2003 products, so you won’t be left out.

Proper Technology Solutions is in the business of IT support in Wichita.  Our network engineers are Information Technology professionals, college-educated and certified by major industry partners like Microsoft and Cisco Systems.  Our goal is to provide IT solutions for Wichita small businesses that won’t break the budget.  Our low hourly rates with no minimum services charges can help your business stay effective while keeping costs low.

As a network IT consultant and small business owner, I want to hear from you.  How can we help you with your computer needs

Applications, IT Support, Tips , , , , ,

Get the Most From Your Microsoft Office – Free Training

Do you use Microsoft Office?  If you’re using Office 20010, 2007 or even 2003 and consider yourself a basic user, you will find value in our upcoming free Lunch And Learn offering Thursday, April 21st from Noon-2pm.

Office 2010 – Business 101

We invite you to join us April 21st from Noon-2pm, or just as long as you want to stay.  Bring your own lunch and a laptop, or just a notepad and learn to use some of the powerful features included in Microsoft Office Products.  The lunch will be held at our offices in the newly redesigned Office Park Plaza at 4601 E. Douglas in the Douglas Design District just west of Oliver.

We will be showing the ropes of the following products:

Microsoft Word – Enhancing your documents with templates and built-in automated features to make your work more professional and your life easier.

Microsoft Excel – Learn to compose a simple spreadsheet and use some of the automated calculation tools to help your numbers make sense.

Microsoft Publisher – Quickly design a flyer for your business with a free template.  Our flyer for this event (here) was created in about 30 minutes using on of the professional templates available.

Microsoft PowerPoint – Giving a presentation?  Ditch the flipcharts and put together a professional digital presentation in no time at all.

This is a casual learning event (no quizzes!) taught by a professional educator (yours truly) who has been teaching Information Technology to students of all levels for years.

Please call ahead to reserve a spot as space will be limited (316) 337-5628.

If you’re looking for IT support for your home or small business, please give us a call.  We can discuss how you can save over your current service while maintining the knowledge and expertise require

Applications, Business, IT Support , , , , , ,

Tip: Click Here to Download Pictures? Training Outlook 2010

Have you ever seen this message in an email?

Missing Pictures in Outlook 2010 Email

Notice the red ‘x’ where the picture should be?  This actually serves as a distraction from the actual issue.  Look at the very top line.  Click here to download pictures…

Outlook is actually trying to be helpful and not downloading pictures from people or websites that you don’t know.  In spammer terminology, these are called beacons.  When you download the picture, it is coming from the spammer’s website, so they now have a bread crumb trail back to you and know that you’ve opened the email.

Now, this email isn’t a spam.  It’s from our friends out at the Wichita Business Journal.  I want to make sure those emails are seen, images and all and are not relegated to my junk email folder.

Adding a Sender to the Safe Sender’s List

Step 1: Left-click once, right where it says click here… and pull up your options.

The Options Menu for Images in Outlook 2010

The Options Menu for Images in Outlook 2010

Here are your options:

  1. Download Pictures – A one-time agreement to download the pictures.  You might choose this the first time you see an email from a company you aren’t sure about.  The pictures will download and display.
  2. Change Automatic Download Settings – Changes the default way Outlook handles this issue.  It’s best to leave this as-is for now.
  3. Add Sender to Safe Sender’s List – Safe senders are people that you know and trust.  Once clicked, their email will display with all pictures and won’t go into your spam or junk folder.  Think of this as your whitelist.  Remember: this is just for this email address, not the display name. Above, the display name is – John Ek, Publisher…  The email address is reply@mail-1.bizjournal.  This latter is what will be added.  If John emails you from his own account, it will not be on the safe sender’s list.
  4. Add the Domain xxx to the Safe Sender’s List – This will add everyone in the same domain to your safe sender’s list. Any email from mail-1.bizjournals.com will be added.  Use this sparingly.  When you add an entire domain you are opening yourself up to spam.  Spammers can send email with any return address, so opening the entire domain might get you more junk mail, and no one wants that.

Once you’ve made a selection, the email should display correctly.

The Corrected Email After Downloading Pictures

The Corrected Email After Downloading Pictures

Remember:  If the email is already in your Junk folder in Outlook, the message on the top line will be different.  You will have to move the email back to your Inbox to have these options.  Emails are even more restricted once they are deemed to be junk.

Please join us on April 21st from Noon-2pm for our free Lunch and Learn seminar, Office 2010, Business 101. We will be discussing more useful tips for a number of Office applications.  If you don’t have Office 2010, don’t worry.  Most of the discussion will be about functionality and tips that will work in 2003 and 2007 as well!

Bring your lunch and a laptop, or just bring a notepad.   Feel free to attend the whole class or just stay over your lunch hour.  This is a casual class for beginners!

For technology support and network consulting in Wichita and surrounding areas, call us at Proper Technology Solutions.  We offer low rates starting at $70/hour with no minimum service charges.

Applications, IT Support, Tips , , , ,

Our IT Support Philosophy

I’ve been thinking lately about what our company philosophy might be regarding IT support services and am looking to draft a mission statement.  Why?  Proper Technology Solutions has a mission, we just need to clarify and direct it.  What better way to do that than through words.

So far, I’ve penned a list of things that are important to me and our service providers; things that give our jobs meaning and things that we strive to offer our customers.

IT Support in Wichita – Our Mission

  • Provide IT support small businesses can afford – By offering lower rates than most professional service providers, our IT consultants can help businesses leverage their technology investment with less worry about the bottom line.
  • Provide Enterprise-Level Support – Though we strive to maintain low prices for service, we want to provide our customers with the confidence in our abilities that is lost as prices go down.  We want them to understand that we keep our costs low by reducing overhead, not technical ability.  Our consultants are professional, college-educated and most of all, certified as experts by major vendors including Microsoft, Cisco, Dell and others.
  • Provide measurable value in all our services – We want our customers to see results from their IT services, whether as repair or new installations.  By encouraging customers to analyze our results and compare our fees with other consulting firms, we hope to have them see what a lean, professional IT services firm can do for their business.
  • Encourage customers to have problems resolved proactively – Leveraging technology such as online backup and network monitoring, we can help customers eliminate costly downtime.  Though we strive to be onsite quickly in the event of an emergency, preventing an emergency is the most efficient method.
  • Understand our customer needs – All the technology in the world makes no difference if the end-users don’t understand how it works.  We work to educate users at all levels through training and education programs.  If they want to know how it works, we will do our best to help them understand.
  • Represent our customer businesses – Businesses want to present a professional appearance to their customers.  We want to do the same.  Professional customer-facing businesses need a technician with the same qualities.
  • Customer Service – We aim for complete customer satisfaction.  I’ve said in the past that it is hard having a job where 90% of the customers you visit are already angry or distressed.  By providing outstanding service and maintaining the knowledge of technology we can turn it around.  Our primary goal is to keep our customer businesses running and moving forward.

These are the main bullet points, and more may be added before we distill it down into a single mission statement.  Though not a true mission statement, our tagline boils it down well.

Professional Enterprise IT Support – Personal Service

Having been an IT support technician in the Wichita area for years, my goal is simply to provide better service at an affordable price.

Call Proper Technology Solutions at (316) 337-5628 to discuss your IT needs.  We can perform a free onsite evaluation.  Our goal isn’t to revolutionize your network a

Business, IT Support , , ,

Tip: Autosum in Excel 2010 – Adding It Up

As a Wichita IT support professional, I see a number of users mystified by using Microsoft Excel.  This powerful spreadsheet tool can be used for a number of things, the least of which is adding up the numbers, but that’s where we will start.

Creating complex formulae in Excel doesn’t require an information technology support specialist, even less so for something simple like adding up the numbers in a column.  Here’s the quick and easy method, without the need for memorizing how to craft a formula.

Step 1: Identify the group of numbers you wish to add. I’ll start with a simple spreadsheet listing the days of the week.

A Sample Spreadsheet

A Sample Spreadsheet

We need to calculate the total sales for the week in the highlighted box.

Step 2: Click the Formula tab on the menu bar and select Autosum.  Click the down arrow to see your options.

The Autosum Feature on the Formula Menu

The Autosum Feature on the Formula Menu

Step 3: Choose the correct function.  I’m choosing Sum as I want a total.  Notice that my column is highlighted.

The Formula is Created

The Formula is Created

Step 4: Hit Enter to accept the formula.

We now have the correct formula and the total is correct.  Use the same steps above, but experiment with the options.  You can do averages, show the high and low values of the column, the count of numbers in the column and many others.

For IT support in Wichita, including 1 on 1 and individual training, call Proper Technology Solutions at (316) 337-5628 or our after hours support line at (316) 210-7112.  We try to demystify Information Technology to provide your business with the support you need to make your technology more efficient.

Don’t forget to register for our Lunch and Learn on April 21st from Noon-2pm.  It’s a free opportunity to stop by and learn how to leverage Office 2010 in a casual environment.

Applications, IT Support, Tips , , ,