Wednesday, March 28, 2007

send business email like a pro

More and more people rely on email for inexpensive, convenient business communication. Here are some standard email practices that will help you to present you and your business in a professional way in electronic communications.

professional practices

  1. People should be able to recognize your email username as belonging to you. Otherwise your message may be deleted without being read. The easiest approach is to use your real name as your username for business email. First names are fine if your email address refers to your business, for example, susan @

  2. Write a subject line that clearly describes the content of your message.

  3. Have a professional-looking email address. Whether or not you have a business website, get a business email address and use it only for business communication.

    1. For professional looking business email, it's best to use an email services that does not insert their own advertisement at the bottom of YOUR message.

    2. You can buy a custom business email address (email without a website. If you follow that route, be certain to check what your domain ( looks like.... it may have advertising.

    3. For not that much more money than a custom business email address, you can have a simple, informative one-page website that gives web visitors a good idea about you and your business – for example Aaron Cole's realtor site.

  4. Use an email signature (sig) at the bottom of your message so people know who you are and how to contact you.

    1. Your sign-off/signature should include your full name, title, company, and business telephone number.

    2. Although your email address is on your message, some people believe that your email address should be in your signature too.

    3. You may include a fax or cell phone number, website address, Skype username, instant message username and/or company tag line - if valuable to your your business communications.

    4. Your snail mail (conventional postal service) address should be included when needed. In a signature, your entire address can be on one line, with comma separators for example:
      your street address, suite number, city, state, zip code

    5. Show restraint with the size of your signature - it should be smaller than most messages that you send!

    6. Set your email program to automatically include your signature on all outgoing business email. You may want to have more than one signature option, for example a short signature for people at your company and a longer one for "outsiders".

  5. Reply to email in a timely manner, generally within 1 to 2 business days.

    1. If it will take longer, send a timely reply acknowledging the message and indicate when you will be able to respond more fully.

    2. When away for an extended period of time (for a vacation, conference, illness, etc. where you will have limited or no access to email), set up an auto responder on your business email account.

  6. Use a separate email account for personal email. Good bets are free email services like Yahoo Mail or Google's gMail or your commercial Internet Service Provider.

email don'ts

  1. For your business email account, never use a high level spam blocker that only permits messages from email addresses in your address book. A new client will probably not be in your address book.

  2. Many people view spam - unsolicited email sent to large groups of people - as a nuisance.

    1. If you send business messages to a large group of people, include information at the bottom of your message about how to be removed from your mailings. This is good practice even if people sign up to receive email from you.

    2. Distinguish between networking and spamming with publicly available contact information. It's probably networking to send an infrequent message to members of YOUR chamber of commerce; if you do, use the BCC (blind carbon copy) feature of your email, not the CC (carbon copy) feature - unless there is some reason that you would want one of your chamber buddies to "reply to all."

  3. Try not to use all capital letters in your subject line and message UNLESS IT'S REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT. All caps are like shouting. If you have a critical message for one person, the telephone is more effective and reliable than email. For a group message, one word in caps is often effective.

  4. Avoid sending large unsolicited attachments, for example a large PDF. It is best not to send any unsolicited attachments. To send large solicited attachments, consider using a free trustworthy service like

  5. Sometimes email is not the best form of communication because the medium can be perceived as offensive (i.e., impolite, discourteous, bad-mannered and disrespectful). Official replies to a serious letter, proposal, or application received in regular mail should be sent through "snail" mail, on letterhead paper. Obviously, this is particular true for sensitive and/or distressing messages. (Thanks to K.M. @ UCLA for pointing this out.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Intego's Virus Barrier rewriting permissions?

Good Macintosh maintenance includes repairing disk permissions with Apple's disk utility software after installing or updating software, including system updates.

A few weeks ago I noticed that every time I repaired my ol' G5's disk permissions there seemed to be a set of permissions that needed to be repaired again and again: the activity monitor, keychain access, and ODBC administrator. Disk utility could repair the permissions, but the repair only lasted until the system re-booted.

I consulted with my #1 Mac tech support guru, a technical yahoo who admittedly dislikes anti-virus software. After examining the problem and the activity monitor, the guru suggested that we remove the Intego Virus Barrier x4 software and see what happens.

Once the latest version of Virus Barrier software was removed, the problem disappeared: the disk permissions stayed repaired.

I'd been using Intego's Virus Barrier x4 software for months without this or really any problem. It appears that after the latest (March '07) update, Virus Barrier x4 kept changing permissions in the root directory of my Mac.

Here's the disk utility disk permission repair report that kept returning until Virus Barrier x4 was removed:
Group differs on ./Applications/Utilities/Activity, should be 80, group is 0
Owner and group corrected on ./Applications/Utilities/Activity
Permissions corrected on ./Applications/Utilities/Activity
Group differs on ./Applications/Utilities/Keychain, should be 80, group is 0
Owner and group corrected on ./Applications/Utilities/Keychain
Permissions corrected on ./Applications/Utilities/Keychain
Group differs on ./Applications/Utilities/ODBC, should be 80, group is 0
Owner and group corrected on ./Applications/Utilities/ODBC
Permissions corrected on ./Applications/Utilities/ODBC

Monday, March 19, 2007

the machine is us/ing us

This is the final version of what may be the clearest and most thought-provoking explanation of Web 2.0 to date. Watch it and explore the second generation of web-based services that emphasize online collaboration and sharing among users. Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University created the video.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Tungsten T5 updater v.1.1

Last weekend I wrote about restoring my T5's ability to hold a charge. And ended by saying that I would look for updates. I needed to wait several days to cool down from the frustration of attempting to install an update for the T5 released by Palm in 2005.

The "easy" way to install the update requires 16.7 MB free space on the Palm. My Palm had 43 MB free space but I kept getting an error message that there was not enough free space. Evidently not an unusual problem with this updater based on a web search.

So I tried Plan B - Palm's alternate method for devices with less than 16.7 MB free space. This method involves a hard reset that erases everything on the Palm. The alternate method worked until the very end when the installer requested that the Palm be plugged into the charger. An odd request.... The Palm didn't come with a charger. After trying to get this method to work a few more times, I gave up.

Though the updater still on Palm's site, I decided not to update the T-5. Palm admitted that there were problems with the 1.1 updater. Evidently they're still working on fixing it.

v1.1 updater from Palm
Palm forum about the problem
BackupBuddy - if you want to try the updater, back up first. Backing up is a good idea in any event.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Palm Pilot batteries and hard reset

Try a hard reset on your Palm Pilot if the battery does not hold a (full) charge.

Last week I was away for 6 days with my Tungsten T5 running off its battery. Had my appointments, contacts, an alarm clock (World Clock) and played Suduku once a day. No problem -- returned home with a 50% battery charge.

Plugged the Palm into my computer and power strip when I got home to charge it up. Synchronized the Palm with the desktop without a problem. Then I downloaded the Daylight Savings Time Update for Palm OS. I didn't read down on the directions about resetting your device... at least the first time.

Later the Palm alerted me that the battery was dangerously low and should be plugged in to charge. It was plugged in - to my computer and power strip. Then I tried charging the Palm on the outlet in the bathroom – without any success.

I bought the extended 2 year warranty; it ended in January 2007. No comment. Not really relevant.

I called Palm tech support for help. I asked if there was anything I could try to get the battery to hold a charge. Sorry, no. Steve told me that it would cost $199 to replace the battery, and for that money I might want to buy a new Palm. Palm would give me 20% off the price of a Z22 ($99 USD), E2 ($199USD), T|X ($229 USD) or LifeDrive ($399 USD) from the Palm site. Steve gave me as special upgrade code.

Before replacing the T5, I had to do some troubleshooting on my own.
  • A Soft Reset brought the Palm back to life. Excellent! But the battery would only charge 50%. Not satisfactory.
  • I had synced the Palm with my desktop, so decided to try a Hard Reset. Erased everything and went back to the factory default settings. Synchronizing bought everything back to the Palm just like it had been. And the battery is now charged 100%.
Now that the battery is fully charged, I applied the DST updater. Seems fine.

Tomorrow I'll check to see if there are any other updates needed.

Resetting your device in a variety of ways:
Palm DST updater:

shift happens: globalization & the information age

Interesting statistics.... The last part about computers computationally equivalent to the human brain seems quite speculative. At this point, researchers don't understand much about how the brain works. And as my favorite technical Yahoo pointed out, being able to compare/store numbers quickly (all a computer really does) doesn't equal coming up with something original.

Thanks to my new friend Richard for taking this movie as a reminder that "beneath and hidden from the facts, there is meaning that touches us in ways that demand we spin a new form of cloth around our ideas and ideals."