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Microsoft's Live Meeting

Computer >>> Laptop

To use Microsoft Live Meeting, you just need a computer, a phone, and an Internet connection. The product is designed to accommodate small or large groups, and supports meetings with up to 2500 participants. Live Meeting is a hosted solution, meaning you don't buy any software to install on your own desktop or server. Microsoft Live Meeting is offered in two versions: Standard and Professional. The Standard version includes all the features of the Professional version except: meeting recording, remote desktop control, and printing and handouts.

Live Meeting has all the standard features of other web conferencing offerings, some of which are described below. It is, as you would expect, integrated with Microsoft Outlook, so you can schedule meetings right from the familiar Outlook calendar.

Live meeting lets you share your desktop and the applications you have there. All your meeting attendees can see the mouse movements you initiate and whatever you input via the keyboard. You are also able to share only a portion of your desktop, if you so choose. It is integrated with Powerpoint - the Powerpoint Viewer provides total support for transitions and animations. In fact, visuals of any type, commonly used document types, applications, or Web pages can be shared.

The Document Viewer allows importing any type of document that can be printed, and the meeting administrator can choose to "save" the documents shown in the meeting, so the attendees can go back and reference them after the meeting is over.

The Remote Control feature (available in the Professional version only) lets the presenter pass control of their desktop to any attendee at the meeting. In addition, the Remote Assistance function lets the presenter initiate sharing on a participant's desktop - with their permission. Live Meeting includes a number of interactive tools that presenters can use to enhance the meeting experience. The whiteboard is a blank page that the presenter can draw on, add text to, and highlight portions of by using the provided annotation tools. The text slide function presents a blank page that the presenter can type on to and share. The Web slide function ( I like this one) lets you take your attendees to any live Web page. Each attendee "gets" a separate copy of the page and can use the page independently.

If you want to get some instant feedback from your attendees, you can use the Polls functionality in Live Meeting. Polls can be prepared ahead of time and presented (or not) under the control of the administrator of the meeting.

Finally, the Question Manager function lets you handle questions from the audience without disrupting the entire meeting. If one person is busy presenting, another can be designated as the question manager, and make the answers to any questions received available only to the question-asker, or to the entire audience.

In summary, Microsoft’s Live Meeting stacks up well against the other products reviewed so far by this writer, and is definitely worth looking at it if you're about to choose a web conferencing provider.

Find out more at:

Peter Cullen runs where conferencing software is reviewed and relevant articles are posted.

Windows Built-in Tools

Computer >>> Laptop

PC Repair Using The Tools Supplied With Windows

When your pc goes wrong it is usually time to pay someone to fix it, or call in a big favour from your favourite computer geek of a friend. Sometimes though it's not always necessary to fall back on these two alternatives to repair your pc. There are an abundance of tools supplied with Windows, or for free download which you may be able to use to fix your own pc.

The first thing to realise before you start looking into fixing your own pc, is that most of the time it's a software fault, and not very often hardware related, so don't break out the hammer and chisel to open up the case just yet. It's time to stop, and consider when the fault first manifested itself. Had you just installed some new software or updates to your existing software? Have you downloaded a new Internet Explorer plugin or did anything request permission to install itself while you were surfing? Have you updated a device driver or installed some new hardware?

If the answer to these questions is "Why Yes, what harm could that possibly do?" then it could be that the culprit is a conflict with the new program or update. If so, then you could try using the software's uninstall link, or the "Add/Remove Programs" section in the Control Panel (Control Panel is linked from your start menu usually). If this doesn't work, you can always bring out the big gun, and use the "System Restore" utility. This can be found in the Start > Accessories > System Tools folder. This can be extremely scary the first time you use it with all kinds of warnings and texts to read, but basically it will roll back your computer to one of the previous dates it has stored. It doesn't delete documents or emails, just removes any software installed after the date you're going to reset to.

Sometimes your pc won't even get as far as Windows, but you can always try the "Safe Mode" (if it is setup). As your pc is starting up, keep tapping the "F8" key and you should get to a screen where you can select a variety of startup methods. Ignore all but the "Start In Safe Mode" option, and select the appropriate number for it and press "Enter". This stops a lot of unimportant stuff from loading up and may just allow you to get into Windows to use one of the options above (uninstall or System Restore). In this mode however you will not have access to many of your usual services, such as networks, or internet connections, and you may also find your soundcard drivers won't be loaded so you get no sound. Don't panic, this is normal, and after you reboot from Safe Mode to normal mode your peripherals should all return to normal.

A majority of the pc repairs I have carried out in my capacity as geeky friend have been as simple as using the tools and techniques above. There are also plenty of other tools hiding inside Windows menus, which can be used to help you repair your own PC. Like the ones above they can seem intimidating the first time, but they are quite safe to use, and rarely cause a problem. Just don't tell my friends about these tools, I like the feeling of superiority when I can fix their pc's with just a few clicks of the keyboard and mouse.

Douglas Titchmarsh tackles pc problems for friends, and maintains a PC repair related blog at and recommends PC Safety 101 ebook at

Sucuring Wireless Network

Computer >>> Laptop

How to Secure Your Wireless Network

If you use a wireless network, chances are good it is not secure. If you don’t make some important configuration changes on your wireless router after installing it, your wireless network is wide open to hackers, curious neighbors and people who would rather use your broadband internet service instead of buying their own.

Several of my neighbors have a wireless network set up in their home, and from my living room I can connect to three different networks in addition to my own. I do this easily, using no special skills, software or equipment. All I do is click on my wireless networking icon and select “view available wireless networks”. I choose one, click “connect”, and in an instant I am using my neighbor’s internet connection instead of my own. Kind of creepy, isn’t it?

Following are 6 things you can do to make your wireless network invisible and impenetrable to the majority of intruders.

* Change the default password of your wireless router. This makes it harder for a would-be intruder to access the router administration controls.

* Change the name of your SSID. The SSID (service set identifier) is the name of your wireless network, and by default is usually the brand name of your wireless router (like Linksys). Change this to a unique name of your choice. A good rule of thumb to follow when setting up any type of network is to always change the default settings to something else, which makes it harder for an intruder to get in.

* Use an encryption key. Most wireless routers have WEP encryption capability (Wireless Equivalent Protocol), and the newer ones also have WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). WEP is an older standard and less secure than WPA, so if you have both, choose WPA. Even WEP is probably good enough, and if this is all you have choose the highest bit encryption possible (usually 128 bit).

Once you set up encryption on your wireless router, write down the method you are using as well as the key (a long string of cryptic-looking characters), because you will need this to set up encryption on each of your computers that will use the wireless network.

* Disable broadcasting of your SSID. By default, the SSID (your wireless network’s name) is broadcast to anyone with a wireless network card. Although this makes it easy to configure your computers to access your network, it also makes it easy for outsiders to know about your network. By disabling SSID broadcast, no one will ever see your network.

* Limit the number of IP addresses your wireless router allows on the network. By default, your wireless router will assign an IP address to as many computers that request one. If you limit the number of addresses that the router’s DHCP server assigns to just the number that you need, you will “block” all other computers that try to connect to your network.

* Use MAC address filtering. You can configure your wireless router to only allow certain computers on the wireless network by including each computer’s MAC address in the list of “allowed” users. A MAC address is a unique physical address that is hard coded onto each network interface card. It is much like a serial number, as every MAC address is unique.

Find your network card’s MAC address by opening up a command prompt and typing in ipconfig /all. Look for something that says “physical address”, and the series of letters and numbers following this is your MAC address. It will look something like this: 00-06-5B-CE-DA-B5. Key this information into the wireless router’s MAC address filtering setup under MAC address 1. Repeat this process for every computer on your network, using MAC address 2, 3, and so on.

In addition to securing your wireless network, there is one more thing you need to do to make sure your wireless network is safe:

* Install a personal firewall on each of the computers on your wireless network. If an intruder does happen to get into your network, a personal firewall (also known as a software firewall) will keep him out of your computer. With a personal firewall running, the most an intruder can do is use your internet connection and your bandwidth; he will not be able to access your data.

To learn more about computer security, visit:
Antivirus, Firewall and Spyware Resources
Personal Firewalls - Software Firewalls
Free Report - Internet Crime - How to Protect Yourself Online

Windows Scheduling

Computer >>> Laptop

Schedule Your Windows Tasks

  • How many repetitive tasks do you perform manually on your PC at home or work?
  • What tasks do you perform which need all users to logout of the system during work hours?

  • If you are working within Windows then you can use Schtasks, which ships with Windows, to perform those tedious tasks for you.

    Schtasks is a tool you can use to carry out a task at a particular time, date or day. You can use Schtasks to run VBScripts, Batch files or any kind of executable application that can be fired up from the command line within the console window. For instance, if you have a Windows service running, which for whatever reason needed bouncing every morning or after a weekend power down, you could write a VBScript to bounce the service and schedule it to run at an appropriate time. Here is an example of how you would set a schedule via Schtasks to bounce a service via a VBScript at 3 am every morning on business days Monday to Friday:

    schtasks /create /tn bounce_service /sc mon,tue,wed,thu,fri /st 3:00 /tr "c:my scriptsbounce.vbs"

    If you are using Schtasks on your PC, and not on a server, then you would not switch off your PC running when you leave work and let SchTasks can run your tasks overnight. Your last task on your PC might be to shutdown your PC. Schtasks does provide the ability to start up your computer at a specific time but I have found this a bit problematic to get working on some PCs.

    Here are some ideas for using Schtasks:

    • Backup files when your computer is idle or at the end of a working day.
    • Run overnight processes when no users are logged onto a server, database or application.
    • Start up or shut down your PC.
    • Compact databases.
    • Compile multi-developer applications.
    • Perform web publishing overnight when resources are free.
    • FTP data across a network when bandwidth usage is low.
    • Start, stop or bounce Windows services.

    Using Schtasks will reduce your manual labour, ensure consistent processing without human error, and buy you time to do other things.

    For complete instructions on using Schtasks see:

    Duane Hennessy
    Senior Software Engineer and Systems Architect
    Bandicoot Software
    Tropical Queensland, Australia
    (ABN: 33 682 969 957)

    Your own personal library of code snippets.

    Moderator of


    Payroll Software

    Computer >>> Laptop

    With payroll software one cannot not stop and think…’how did large organizations cope without them?’ When you think of what’s involved in paying your employee, one finds it hard to believe how this can be achieved without a full blown payroll software.

    There are various payroll software applications on the market today, but how do you decide which one is right for the business you conduct? Let’s start by having a look at the main items a good payroll software application must possess.

    1. create and manage detailed company details

    2. create and manage detailed employee details

    3. can be run during a specific date range (normally weekly, fortnightly and monthly)

    4. processing of individual departments or all departments

    5. accountability of all emoluments and tax paid for each employee and department

    6. standard tax reports as required by the local authorities

    7. flexibility in allowing bonuses, overtime and special end-of-period additions and deductions

    Needless to say, a good payroll software program holds many features which reduce paper work needed to control your employees’ remuneration. Having said that, some required paperwork like pay vouchers, checks, company reports and tax reports are a must for any payroll software.

    But what is the main feature a payroll software application must excel in? Without any doubt this has to be security. Payroll software databases hold one the most sensitive information a software application can hold. By many, the salary they get is considered as the most well kept secret in their lives. That information is probably held in a computer somewhere forming part of a payroll package. As such, confidentiality of that information must be stressed heavily and checked thoroughly when one is enquiring on payroll software.

    But most payroll software applications are not stand alone modules. Many come integrated with other modules like the purchases ledger, general ledger and/or job costing module. If you have a production business, having your payroll software integrated with your job costing module is, to say the least, a must. This will ensure your costing is truly reflecting all the costs your business is incurring, and the payment of your employees, including taxes, is definitely one of them.

    As like all tailor made software, a payroll software application would normally require user training before one can reap the benefits from it. Payroll software is quite a complex piece of software and the fact that people are employed in human resources departments just to be responsible for the payroll aspect of the company is proof of this. This is true, although, the payroll software used should also be straight forward for clerks who work in a payroll environment. It should be intuitive and present all tasks in a simple and clear format, with help available on the spot.

    Since many payroll software exist today, it is very hard to determine which one is right for your business. The decision needs to rely on the structure of your business, number of employees, different work times and shifts, plus other factors. Based on this, a standard payroll software might do, or maybe not. What’s important is that before committing to one, and probably also, before being trained on one, all the features (and non-features) of the package you choose have been made clear and proved to function correctly and as desired.

    Sandro Azzopardi is a professional author who writes several articles on various subjects on his web site and local newspapers and magazines. You can visit information about this article and others on:
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