Compu-Tech Intl.

How to Start Selling Anything You Want Online

June 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

When you look around your house and see a lot of things that you’d like to turn into cash, you can either have a yard sale or put your stuff online. The great thing about online selling is that you don’t have to devote your entire weekend to dealing with the yard sale. Instead, you list the items on the appropriate Website (often an online auction site like eBay) and wait for customers to buy.

Online selling is not quite like selling in person, though. You have to deal with many types of fraud. Bad buyers won’t pay you. Your outgoing packages can be lost in the mail (or so the recipient claims). You have to give out personal information — your return address, for example —to strangers. Because of all this, some people think that selling online is not worth the risk. You can, however, safely sell your stuff on the Internet. These tips will help you make some money without worrying about fraud and other problems.

Read about how the selling site works. Before you sign up or list your first item for sale, you should understand how selling and buying work as well as the site’s policies about various types of fraud and dishonesty. You should know what, if any, recourse you have if something goes wrong. And if you read the information that the site posts for your benefit, you will also have a better idea of how to use the site. This will make it easier for you to create listings, view bids, etc.

Always use tracking numbers or other confirmation services when you ship a package. The United States Post Office offers Delivery Confirmation for less than a buck per package. It’s very difficult to claim that the item never showed up when the USPS tracking number gives the delivery day and time. Be honest about the item’s condition, your return policies and any other information you include in the listing. Otherwise, you could end up eating the cost of return-shipping fees, canceled listings and other such things.

Use a third-party payment system. This is good for buyers because they don’t risk giving you their credit-card numbers. Using one of these services is good for you because you don’t have to worry as much about credit-card fraud and other such problems. You should still, however, pay attention to what is happening. If something seems suspicious don’t hesitate to ask questions and investigate before you accept that bid or ship the package to that winner.

Don’t give out your home or work address. Though most of your buyers are innocent, good buyers, you really don’t have to risk giving away your addresses to somebody who isn’t so nice. Instead, use a post office box. Some, like the ones that you can rent at Mailboxes, Inc or The UPS Store, even let you receive courier packages — like UPS shipments—at that address.

You will probably have to give your credit-card or bank-account number to the selling site to cover fees. If this is the case, you should watch your bank statements. Resolve even the slightest discrepancy before it becomes a full-blown case of identity theft.

Before you finalize the sale, check the buyer’s feedback (if applicable). This is a great way to catch scam artists who have already conned other sellers. Not many honest people want to give you more than what you’re asking for your item. A common scam is to offer the seller a higher price if he or she will ship the product overseas. In reality, the seller gets bogus money orders or other fraudulent payments. In many cases, the seller loses the item: many also have to cover the bad money orders.

Using these safeguards — and common sense — will make sure that you have an enjoyable life as an online seller. Protecting yourself from scammers and bad buyers can take some work, but it’s well worth your time. You’ll be able to get some of your unwanted things out of your home and make a little money without devoting your entire weekend to selling.


How to Setup a Wireless Network for your Business

June 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Having a wireless network available for your customers can give you an edge over other competitors, particularly during peak hours. Wireless networking can seem complicated however. What do you need? What do you do with it? This article will simplify the steps so that even the least tech-savvy business owner can modernize their business place.

Purchasing a Wireless Router

If you want to install a wireless network in your bar or restaurant you will need to have a wireless router first. The wireless router is basically the center of your network, and it allows all of your customer’s computers to communicate with the Internet through your business’s Internet connection. Before you purchase you need to decide if you intend to offer a simple, unsecured wireless network or if you want to offer a more complex and secure solution. Unsecured networks can be easily provided by a high quality home router available at a local electronics store.

However, if you want a secured network you should purchase a commercial wireless access point. These are available through companies like Cisco and Linksys. A commercial wireless access point can provide top-notch security. These are often overkill for a bar or a restaurant, but they have advantages. Places with customers who are wary of security issues — such as business travelers — will prefer a secured network. You’ll also need a commercial grade wireless access point if you’re looking to charge for wireless access.

Installing the Wireless Router

Once you have purchased a wireless router you will of course need to install it. This may seem simple, but in fact it can be tricky. There are many objects which can block or degrade wireless signals, such as pipes, sheets of metal, and thick concrete.

Because of this it is often best to install your wireless router somewhere very near where customers will be sitting. If your establishment is a bar, or it is a restaurant with a bar, you should install your router somewhere near the bar. Mounting it on a wall or ceiling will provide the best signal and reduce the chance of the router being damaged. If your restaurant has no bar, installing the router in the main dining area is best.

Remember that your wireless router needs a physical connection to your Internet modem. Installing the router on a wall will help ensure that it is easier to run an Ethernet cable from your Internet modern to the wireless router. Alternatively, you can make installation easier by buying a wireless bridge or a second router with bridge capability. A wireless bridge is a piece of hardware which can extend a wireless network.

If you choose this installation path you would install your primary router somewhere nearby your business’s Internet modem and then install the bridge near your customers. The bridge connects to your customers computers and sends data back and forth between them and your wireless router without the need for an Ethernet cable.

Setting Up the Wireless Network

Once you have your wireless router installed you’ll need to set up the network. When you first start your wireless router it will set up a stock unsecured network which is usually named after the brand of router you purchased. To access the configuration menu, connect to the stock network through either a wireless or a wired connection. Open your web browser and type in the IP address listed for your router in the router manual. Once you are in the configuration menu you can change the network name to whatever you would like. Naming it after your business name would be best.

That’s about it – most of the times, the rest of the technical stuff is automated and with the above simple steps, you can have a working wireless network in your establishment, helping you differentiate yourself from others and get more customers.


Connecting an Old LPT Printer or Scanner to a USB port

June 12, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Many buyers of new computers think that they have to abandon their old hardware as soon as that new printer comes out of the box. But with the right supplies and the right knowledge you can make your old printer work with even the newest computer. In order to re purpose your old printer you will need to purchase a parallel to USB converter cable from your local electronics retailer or Internet shop. These converters are easily available, and they provide an excellent way to make your old printer work with your new computer.

After you have the cable in hand the next step is to connect your old printer cable to the parallel port on the parallel to USB converter cable. Make sure that the connection is tight and be sure to tighten the thumbscrews as much as you can. If the connection is not tight the printer may not work. You will next connect the USB part of the parallel to USB converter cable to a free USB port on your computer.

When inserting the cable into the slot make sure it seats securely. If the cable is not seated properly the printer may not work. After the cable has been connected to both the printer and the computer, plug the printer in to an available outlet and turn it on. As the printer warms up keep an eye on the lower right hand side of your computer.

Watch for a “found new hardware” message. That message means that your computer has detected the printer and is attempting to install the proper driver for it. Click on the “Start” button and choose “Printers and Faxes” from the list of options. When the box opens look for your new printer.

If you see the printer listed there it means the computer has already recognized and installed it. If you do not see the printer listed there move on to the next step. Double-click on the “Add Printer” link and choose “Local Printer” from the menu. Be sure that the “Automatically Detect” check box is checked. Your computer will attempt to find and install the printer. If no suitable driver is found you will need to supply it yourself, either on a CD or by downloading the driver from the manufacturer’s website.

That’s about it – in most cases, the old drivers will work and you can continue using your trusty printer with your new PC. Scanners and other LPT devices will work about the same – the only thing you’ll need to get is of course, the USB-LPT adapter.


How to Protect Yourself Against Phishing Attacks

June 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Along with the advance of technology and a more sophisticated Internet also comes new and creative ways for Internet fraudsters to refine their methods of “phishing” for personal information.

What is Phishing?

“Phishing” refers to methods used by scam artists to acquire sensitive information like social security numbers, credit card information, personal banking information, usernames, and passwords. First coined in 1996, the word “phishing” is a variant of “fishing” and refers to obtaining various sensitive information using some sort of bait.

How It Is Done

One of the most common ways that crafty con artists bait internet users is with a phony e-mail. They send out a message mimicking a bank or credit card company that contains a request to verify a password, account number or other financial information, along with a link to a fake website that looks just like the real one, but which will send your information to the scammers instead.

What You Can Do to Prevent “Phishing”

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to avoid this type of situation.

– Never open a link from an e-mail. Legitimate companies do not ask for sensitive personal information by e-mail. If you suspect that there might really be a problem with your account, contact the company by phone.

– Make sure you utilize and regularly update anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software in order to protect your computer. Many “phishing” e-mails contain software that tracks your online activity or cause damage to your computer.

– Any e-mail asking you to validate or confirm sensitive information like a social security number or bank account should be regarded as suspicious. You should go to the site in question yourself,  by typing the address manually and ensure you are on a secure connection (HTTPS), then see if there are any new messages in your account’s inbox (most banks and companies requiring this kind of information keep their own mail system).

By becoming a wary internet user, you could be protecting yourself from a potential predator, and ultimately, identity theft.


Why Server Virtualization is not for Every Business

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Server virtualization has a lot of potential benefits, but of course, there are a lot of things that potential users need to watch out for, as well. No technology is perfect, and there are challenges associated with server virtualization as well as some great opportunities.

High Software Costs

One of the biggest costs associated with server virtualization is the cost of the software licenses. Server virtualization allows you to host a number of different servers on the same piece of hardware, but each of those server installations requires its own individual software license. You can mitigate those costs by using open source software, but you will need to make sure you have people on staff that can support those open source systems. If you choose proprietary software instead, you could run into some high license fees and other issues.

Planning Costs

One of the biggest advantages of server virtualization is that it allows you reduce the number of physical servers you have at your facility. But in order to make the most of your server virtualization program you must plan your server room properly. You can certainly save money by using virtualized servers instead of physical ones, although you will need to keep in mind that to achieve the best results, you’ll also have to reduce the costs associated with maintenance and support. That means a lot of strategic planning, and a great deal of upfront cost, to achieve those long term cost savings.

Training Costs

If your IT staff is used to working with physical servers hosting a single application, they might not be prepared to support your newly virtualized environment without the right training. Server virtualization has its own unique challenges, and your IT staff will need training in order to meet those challenges and support the environment effectively. It is important to factor these up front training costs into your budget before you start your server virtualization.

Management Concerns

Server virtualization does reduce your management and support costs, but simply making your servers virtual does not mean you can kiss those costs goodbye. Many businesses mistakenly think that server virtualization means they will no longer need to manage their servers, but this is simply not the case.

Legacy Support Issues

A lot of legacy systems do not play well with new technologies, so you’ll have to make sure you have everything planned out in those cases and test your systems before actual deployment. Many legacy systems, for example, expect that each physical server will have its own IP address, and they might not work properly when multiple server instances with different IPs exist on the same physical box.

Hardware Investment

The number of virtual servers you can host on a single box will depend in large part on the quality of the hardware you are using. If your servers are more than a few years old, they might not have the power they need to host more than one server application. In order to make virtualization work, chances are you will have to make at least a few new hardware purchases. Factoring those up front hardware costs into your budget is important, and it will make the server virtualization process go a lot more smoothly.

While server virtualization certainly has its advantages, there are a lot of drawbacks to it, as well. It is definitely a good way to invest in the future, but if you don’t have the money and time to invest, it may be wise to choose another way of dealing with increased server loads.