If you've used the Internet there is a large chance you've heard of Amazon.
What started out as a small online book store has grown and grown and you can buy just about anything you would find in any high street retailer on their site.
A feature they have had for many years is the "wish list"
The idea is that while browsing the Amazon store you can add anything to your wish list. That way you can come back at a later date and purchase the items or you could provide friends and relatives with your wish list address so at birthdays, holidays, anniversary's, etc they can get you a gift safe in the knowledge it's something that you really want. It's a bit like a wedding list. But just for you!
This has advantages for both sides.
As mentioned you and your family can ensure they all get gifts that they enjoy!
Amazon hope you'll buy this specifically from them (you don't have to but I'll cover this in a minute) buy they also get some great business information from this.
One example is that its now very easy for them to figure out which items are popular so that they can ensure they have enough stock to meet the demand.
Setting one up is pretty simple.
Visit www.amazon.co.uk and create an account if you don't already have one (top right)
After that click on the "Gifts & Wish Lists" option at the top of the home page and then click the "wish list" link.
You can edit your profile to include a picture and details of yourself so that friends and family can find you easily (there is a search capability) and even add items such as your birthday and your delivery address so items can be shipped straight to you (your delivery address is only known to Amazon so no-one can randomly find your address)
You can create as many lists as you need.
I have my own personal list as well as a list for books I'm interesting in for IBIT.
All you then need to do is add items to your lists which is also very simple.
While you are browsing the site add you see something you're interested in just click the "Add to Wish List" button.
You can manage your list and specify how many of a certain item you may have, add comments or set a priority if you REALLY want something.
This may all sound well and good but what if you want something that Amazon don't actually sell?
In the past there wasn't anything you could do about it but Amazon recently added a feature called the "Universal Wish List"
You can add a button to your web browser that will add the link to any page into your wish list.
There is a link with the setup instructions for all the major browsers on the wish list page
Here's how it works.
While I'm visiting another web site I see something I'd like to add to my wish list.
I click the button I previously setup and a box appears in the corner of the site.
It will try and pick up the title and the appropriate image but you can customise this as you see fit.
All you need to do is enter the price (it's not quite that clever!) and click the "add to list" button.
The item then appears on your wish list.
Anyone viewing your wishlist can now click the link and be taken back to the original web site even though it's not Amazon!
So the final piece of the puzzle is how do Amazon know when something like this has been purchased? I don't want TWO Space Invaders Alarm Clocks!
Or what if I find something on the wish list is simply cheaper else where?
When someone else is viewing your wish list there are shown this view
You can simply click on the "Buying this gift elsewhere option" and enter some details.
The item will then be marked as "reserved" and won't appear on the wish list for anyone else.
The Amazon wish list is a great free to use service whether you just want to build a list of items you're interested in or just want to give your friends and family a nudge in the right direction it's worth checking out!
Accessing your email through a web browser isn’t new. As well as the free consumer services such as Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo, getting at business email from anywhere is one of those things we take for granted. Outlook Web Access has a lot of tricks up its sleeve though and one of them lets you get at files stored on your server!
* This applies to Small Business Server 2008, Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010 *
Needing to view a file while away from the office is common place. You might want to print out a price list, or a product catalogue or edit a quote before sending it to a client.
Normally to get around this you would either have to use various long winded methods such login to your PC remotely and doing it there or emailing it to yourself, then login to webmail and download the file. Either that or call the office and get someone there to email it to you!
All of this seems rather long winded. Fortunately using Outlook Web Access we can get to your files directly.
Login to your webmail as normal.
At the bottom left of the screen there is a "documents" option.
The empty screen hides how powerful this feature is!
Clicking on the open location prompts you for a location.
If you just use your server name (such \\SBSSERVER) you can browse ALL of your servers file shares.
From here I can open any folder in the same way as if I was on my network.
I can double click on a folder to list it's files and folder.
Double clicking on a file allows you to download and open the file in the same way as if you were on a regular website
If this folder is something you may need to access on a regular basis you use the "Add to favourites" button"
Your favourites are stored on the left hand side of the screen for easy access.
If your server has been setup to redirect your My Documents folder to your server this means you can access your own files as well as those shared throughout the company.
You can even use this to gain access to files stored on a SharePoint site.
There is one downside to this. Because we're downloading files there isn't any way to upload files making this a "read-only" operation. We can download files but any changes stay local to the PC we're working on (the same as with any website)
This is where regular PC remote access would be more appropriate but as a quick and easy way to view any file on your network it's invaluable.
Considering Outlook Web Access is generally regarded as an email application this seldom used feature turns a single web page into a full remote working solution!
If you'd like to know more about how to set this up for your business please get in touch.
A very very quick tip!
One of the great new features of Windows 7 is the jump list.
When you right click on an icon on the task bar you are presented with it's jumplist
The jumplist as a minimum usually contains a list of recently used documents .
However, depending on the application you're using you will get additional options in the guise of "actions"
The Outlook 2010 jumplist looks like this.
From here I can create new Outlook items such as e-mails and tasks.
This may look quite trivial but it can be a huge time saver as you no long have to actually switch to the application to create a new item.
As more and more applications start to support this we should see some interesting actions!
If you'd like to know more about Outlook 2010 or Windows 7 please get in touch.
The humble A-to-Z has taken a bashing in recent years. With the advent of satellite navigation devices first as portable devices such as a Tom-Tom and now even your mobile phone, finding a route has never been easier.
The amount of additional information available in navigation system is helpful too - need a restaurant near your destination? Not a problem! Your sat-nav will find it for you.
This also includes parking spaces. The problem with this though is that while it may tell you where someone to park is located it doesn't tell you anything else about it.
Information such as how many spaces there are, what the costs are or even a review as to how clean and safe a car park feels just isn't a part of the experience when using a sat-nav.
This is where Parkopedia comes in.
It makes use of google maps and contributions from other road others to help build up a massive database about parking spaces.
When visiting parkopedia.co.uk you're presented with a search engine style interface.
Simply enter your destination which can be a landmark, a post code or a street name and a list of results is displayed.
The information is plotted directly on the map and you can filter out specific types of car parks (if you're not a fan of parking meters for example)
You'll get an overview of how far the car park is from your destination (on foot) as well as a rough cost for a full day's parking.
Clicking onto a specific car park gives you even more information.
Details about how many spaces, opening hours as well how the pricing works.
You can even get a street view of the entrance so you know exactly what you're looking for when driving there.
Other features include an iPhone app, local attraction information as well as the ability to embed the map on your own website giving your customers details parking information!
All in all a very useful website for the regular traveller.
The fax machine has been a business staple for many many years and even though most communication is done via email nowadays just about everyone still has a fax number.
In the same way as email, fax numbers can become susceptible to spam and while there are services to help combat this (such as the Fax Preference Service) we still can end up with unwanted print outs that cost the business money but there is also the environmental aspect of all that wasted paper and ink.
So what to do about it?
If you're running Microsoft Small Business Server this has many built-in fax capabilities. Most people know that you can send a fax directly from your PC but did you know the server can receive incoming faxes on your behalf?
With the fax system hooked up to your server it can receive the messages and then you have lots of choices around what to do with them.
You could have them converted to email, sent to your Intranet, stored in a shared folder or if you still really wanted to directed to a printer! You can even do a combination of these.
When you have your server receive the faxes in this way they are saved as picture files. You can them view them on screen and decide if you need to print them after all or just delete them if they are spam.
The other advantage is that now they are on the system they can be filed and backed up. Something that would be very hard with a regular paper fax!
If you are running Small Business Server then you already have this functionality ready to be used on your network!
If you'd like to know more about this feature or learn how a small business server could help your business please get in touch.
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