Horse Sense #77

In this issue of Horse Sense:
  • Santa Replaces Reindeer with Dog!
  • Get Your Holiday Spirit Here
  • Keep More of Your Money in Your Business
  • Shop Local, Save Money
  • The Internet is a Dangerous Place
  • Fix this Critical Internet Explorer Flaw (and others) Now!
  • The Best Technologies You Still Aren't Using (2)
    -- Ergonomically Correct Devices
    -- Pay Per Click Printing

Get Your Holiday Spirit Here
If you aren't on our Horse Sense newsletter list, send a message to (no subject or body is needed) and you will be sent subscription instructions.  Subscribers get our informative newsletters and our wildly popular holiday dog cards.
We archive our old newsletters.  We write them so most of the information will apply for years.  For example, see our article on the best metric for determining whether something is a good value or not, "Return on Grief."  You can see these articles by going to and clicking on Newsletters/Sign Up.  If you want to see more dog pictures, click on the graphic at the bottom of the page that says "The Dogs of Iron Horse."

Keep More of Your Money in Your Business
Small to medium sized businesses on a calendar tax year thinking about delaying a purchase until 2009 could actually lose money by waiting. First, there are some dynamite sales going on as many firms try to reach their yearly numbers.  Even more important, the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 expires 12/31/08.  Small to medium sized businesses can take advantage of significant incentives like an increase in the amount a business can expense and special depreciation allowances.  So, not only could you save on the purchase, you can save money on your taxes as well.  It isn't what you make, it is what you keep!  These stimuli expire 12/31/08 and you may not get the same chance next year!

Shop Local, Save Money
While there is a lot of wailing about how bad the stock market and large companies are doing, most a large part of our economy is made up of smaller businesses closer to home.  Some of them are banding together to show that they want your business.  For example, Iron Horse belongs to the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.  They are offering a Shop Local promotion:
Contact your local chamber of commerce.  They will recommend local merchants and the deals they are offering. [Iron Horse isn't listed in the promotion because we primarily serve businesspeople, not holiday shoppers.]

The Internet is a Dangerous Place
In Horse Sense 74, I referred to a severe security problem involving DNS This vulnerability was truly terrifying in its scope and still remains an issue since not all of the systems have been fixed and the fix isn't all that good on some systems.  A friend pointed me to an excellent article about this security problem that reads like a spy novel but is completely true.  You don't have to be all that technical to understand it.
[I was one of the people involved in testing a solution on the IPAD. The IPAD software provides firewall, e mail, antispam, list, DHCP, DNS, and other services securely to business networks.  The Iron Horse IPAD is responsible for mailing this to you.]

Fix this Critical Internet Explorer Flaw (and others) Now!
Microsoft publishes patches to its Windows and Office family software every second Tuesday of the month, unless there is a critical security issue that must be addressed.  December 17, such a security patch was published.  Hopefully, your business network is monitored by someone who is taking care of this for you.  [If not, call us.]  But, you want to make sure your home or laptop machine is protected as well, especially if you use it to work from home.  If your system is set up to receive automatic updates, you will get the update.  If not, set it so that it does.  In addition, you should visit using Internet Explorer every couple of months.  It may want you to update to the latest version of their software which verifies that all your software is legal, but also allows you to check your system for more relevant updates.  Once you have done that, select the custom scanning option.  When it finishes scanning your system, you will be made aware of not only critical updates to your system, but also of product and system enhancements and new drivers for many of your peripherals.  I've gotten upgrades for my video drivers, networking adapters, disk subsystems, and printer drivers within the last year from this site.  It is a quick and easy way to improve the reliability, functionality, and performance of your system.  Not all updates are on this site, so you may still want to check manufacturer sites for recommended updates, but this is EASY and will improve the security, reliability, performance, and functionality of your system.

The Best Technologies You Still Aren't Using (2)

Ergonomically Correct Devices
Working with computers can quite literally be a pain in the....  But, it may be possible to eliminate this pain from your life.  Now you can feel better about your work and be more productive at the same time.  The way you interact with your computer determines how effective it can be.
Here are some tips:
-Change your glasses.  Glasses designed for computer use cut out glare and make your monitor easier to see.  Don't forget to take breaks and look out the window to rest your eyes.
-Use a paper stand if you need to refer to a document and your screen so you can see both of them without having to move your head or eyes much.
-Don't skimp on your monitor.  Larger monitors have been shown to increase productivity 20%.  Multiple monitors can also increase productivity in some cases.  Productivity increases are a big deal.  A 5% productivity increase for a $15 per hour worker works out to $1500 in additional productivity per year!
-If you do a lot of photo editing, graphics, computer aided design, or other tasks that seem natural for a pencil, pen, or brush, use a digitizer instead of a mouse.
-Most computer keyboards sold with systems are designed to meet a price point, not to feel good or help you type.  Replace that keyboard with a more ergonomic one that feels better to you and you won't need to visit the doctor for carpal tunnel syndrome.
-If you type slowly, consider a dictation system that allows your computer to transcribe what you say.
-Do you have to lay your head on your shoulder to hold your phone? Stop.  Get a head set.  Improve your productivity and go home feeling good at the end of the day.
-If you make a lot of calls, why not let the computer dial for you using a modem?  It will save your fingers, take less time, and be more accurate as well.
-Is your computer too slow?  Any time your computer takes more than 1/10th of a second to respond, studies show your productivity plummets.  We can show you how to stay productive.
Do you wonder if your computer might make you sick?  See and view their checklist.
For more ideas on how to stay healthy and wealthy and feel wise, call Iron Horse.

Pay Per Click Printing
[While the following doesn't sound like a "technology" item, there are a lot of technologies needed to make it work.]  Producing printed output is expensive for most businesses.  Would you like to decrease your printing costs and lower your management overhead?  You can do this by paying only for finished prints.  So called pay per click printing has long been used in the copier business, but is now available for Xerox and other network based printers.  Under the pay per click system, you usually only pay for each print you make and the paper to print it on. You don't pay for maintenance, supplies, service, and other recurring costs.  The pay per click system is especially valuable to you if your prints have high coverages, since you pay the same amount per page no matter how much toner you use.  Pay per click makes it easier to budget since you know how much per month you will be spending on printing. Your purchasing and administrative costs can go down because you don't have to buy agreements and supplies, sometimes on an emergency basis. If you would like to know more about your options, contact Iron Horse at 703-866-6413.

©2008 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse