Zero2Sixty™ - Introducing The Launch Pad’s Redesigned Monthly Newsletter

Premier Issue Volume X     September/October 2007

We’ve given our monthly newsletter a total redesign and a new name, Zero2Sixty™, which reflects our core customer’s organization size. Each month’s issue will include a wealth of IT and web information, expert advice, tips on how to save money and generate revenue and the scoop on industry news to help you stay on top of technology issues in your small business, school or organization. Our selection of timely and informative articles are designed for busy  executives, IT specialists and staffers assigned the task of “keeping the computers and website up and running”.

In This Issue

Microsoft’s New OS: Great or Wait?arw-grn
The scoop on Vista and Office 2007

Microsoft Vista Migration FAQarw-grn
Considering or planning a Windows Vista migration for your business?  Check out our FAQ

Spyware Can Damage your PCs and Bottom Linearw-grn
10 things you should know about fighting spyware on Windows XP

TechRec Utility: arw-grn
Restore deleted files or erase forever

RSS Explainedarw-grn
rssfeedYou see it everywhere. So what it is and how do you use it?

Introducing our Small Business Resource Centerarw-grn

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Microsoft’s New OS: Great or Wait?Vista2
By now you’ve heard plenty of hype regarding Window’s Vista, Microsoft’s new OS.  So what’s the verdict on whether your business should make the move?  Our advice to you is to wait, unless your willing to purchase new PCs for your organization.  The new OS will almost certainly require a hardware upgrade and the Windows Vista version upgrade price is $199 per PC.  The other issue is that there are still quite a few peripherals not yet supported and some software won’t run properly, requiring you to upgrade. 

Microsoft Office 2007
This one is a winner!  The newly designed interface makes it much easier to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  Outlook 2007 has some great new features including a redesigned Business Contact Manger (free with SBS and Pro) which is a good sales tracking and customer relationship tool and integrates with Microsoft Accounting.

More info including product comparisons for Office 2007 and Vista, pricing and demos are available on our home page. Feel free to contact us if you’d like some additional information on how this might work for your organization.



This Month’s Technology Picks


AcerPower FH Workstation
MT - 1 x P4 631 / 3 GHz - RAM 512 MB - HD 1 x 80 GB - DVD±RW - Gigabit Ethernet - Microsoft Windows Vista Business.  more info >>


Office 2007 (all versions)


Upgrades starting at $135
more info >>


HP Spring Fling Printer Special

Save up to $200 on select HP printers and receive up to $1000 cash back for your tradein.
more info >>

All Launch Pad Promotions >>


small business IT solutions & advice for your organization




Thinking About Taking the Plunge with Vista?  Check out our Microsoft Vista Migration FAQ First

For small business and organizations considering the move to Vista, the migration can offer your organization some key advantages including enhanced security, a well-designed interface and simplified network management, all of which can be a real benefit to smaller organizations without in-house IT.  Also, within the next 12 months, it will become much more difficult to purchase new workstations and notebooks with XP Professional.  So what should you consider if you’re planning a move to Vista?

1.  What makes Vista unique?
Windows Vista has some major rewrites and new functionality around things like security.
That type of change has a profound impact on the applications that run in Windows. Applications that may have run perfectly in previous versions may act differently with the User Account Control within Windows Vista or within the new Internet Explorer. You’ll also need to check compatibility with any proprietary applications.
2. How quickly should companies move to Windows Vista?
Companies with under 75 workstations should allow at least 6 months for planning, budgeting and deployment given the security changes and the application testing that will be needed. You’ll also want to ensure that all your older peripherals such as scanners are compatible.


3. What user training will be needed?
The user interface itself is different, so even from an end-user perspective things are going to behave differently. From an IT management perspective, organizations are going to have to retool on a lot of new technologies. Take the old static image approach with XP and move that to the dynamic Windows Image Manager (WIM) as just one example. New security features like BitLocker™ present challenges for moving encrypted data. If Microsoft Office 2007 is part of the migration, new features may require training. Additionally, its important to make sure the company which is providing your IT support and management is up to speed on all the latest technologies.  For example, The Launch Pad has undergone rigorous training and certifications for all our our support staff for both Vista and Office 2007.
4. How should companies plan a migration?
Companies need to start planning early, because Windows Vista is a significant change in terms of organization, applications and hardware. These are key areas where The Launch Pad can help. Rather than trying to create your own plan, we can help you develop a plan offering best practices for how to approach your migration.
5. What key factors should considered before Vista deployment?
Have you determined if the applications and hardware are ready to migrate to Windows Vista? Will end users see this new operating system for the first time they turn on the machine, or will they do some training first?  In addition, larger companies need to standardize on as few PC images as possible. Organizations with 20 to 50 images need a formal approach to reduce the number of images when setting up new PCs. Also be aware that in Windows Vista the images are typically going to get much larger, two to three times the size of an XP image. If you need to distribute that to remote offices, you’ll be pushing 8-10Gig images down the network, which can be a real problem. The Launch Pad can help you make a full readiness assessment and plan for all contingencies.
6. How should a software application assessment be approached?
It’s important that all applications being used are tested for compatibility.  Most prepackaged applications from larger manufactures will work fine or may require a simple upgrade.  However, any proprietary applications may require rewriting.  Also, applications designed to function with specific hardware or requiring certain user privileges are likely to need updating.  This is also an ideal time to standardize your software, update your licensing and get rid of applications not really needed.
7. How can IT services benefit your deployment?
One of the reasons customers turn to consultants for help is to buy experience. So what IT solutions providers such as The Launch Pad can offer our customers across the deployment process and Windows Vista platform is the benefit of our experience with the hundreds of customers before them. With our expertise and solid training, our goal is to help provide you with a fast, easy and seamless transition to Windows Vista when you’re ready to make the move.














Spyware Can Damage your PCs and Cost You Big Dollars:

10 Things You Should Know About Fighting Spyware on Windows XP

Today's cybercriminals are a crafty bunch, and they've mastered the art of infiltrating your computer and populating it with spyware—a broad category of malicious software programs installed on your computer without your knowledge or permission. Spyware is designed to operate in the background to perform such dubious tasks as gathering information about your computer usage and reporting back to a central database or diverting control of your computer to operations that benefit a cybercriminal's goals. Each month we spend hours on site cleaning up spyware that could have been prevented.  Here are some tips to prevent you from falling victim.

1. Identify the presence of spyware
Since spyware is designed to infiltrate your computer and clandestinely run in the background, how do you know when it is present? Even though spyware does its best to be sneaky, you can look for several telltale signs to identify the existence of spyware on your computer:
• Mysterious abundance of pop-up advertisements
• Internet Explorer's home and search pages suddenly change
• Internet Explorer contains uninvited components, such as toolbars
• Unknown icons appear on desktop, system tray, or toolbars
• Computer boots slower, runs sluggish, or unexplainably crashes
2. Keep your operating system and software up to date
All kinds of malicious applications are designed to seek out and take advantage of vulnerabilities in your operating system and software. So one important key to keeping spyware at bay is to proactively keep your Windows operating system and Microsoft software as up to date as possible:
• Upgrade Windows XP with SP2. (Learn more on the Windows XP Service Pack 2 site.)
• Make sure that the Automatic Updates feature is enabled in Windows XP SP2's Security Center.
• Switch from Windows Update to Microsoft Update. (Connect to the Windows Update site and click the Upgrade To Microsoft Update link).
3. Use a firewall
A firewall can be either hardware or software that monitors your Internet connection and blocks unsolicited requests to gain access to your system. Even if you have a hardware firewall on your network, you should run a software firewall on your computer. Doubling your protection never hurts.  If you're running Windows XP SP2, the Windows Firewall is turned on by default. However, you can install and use any third-party firewall software you want. To learn more about using and configuring the Windows XP SP2 Windows Firewall, read the Microsoft article "Understanding Windows Firewall."
4. Scan your system with an anti-spyware program
You should regularly use an anti-spyware program, which will scan for and remove spyware from your computer. Although a number of commercial anti-spyware scanning programs are available, you'll also find several good anti-spyware programs that are free to download and use:
• Spybot Search & Destroy
• Ad-Aware SE Personal Edition from Lavasoft
• Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware beta
5. Know spyware when you see it
After using an anti-spyware program to scan your system, you may end up viewing a report with huge list of items reported as spyware. Some items are obviously spyware, such as something called ClickWatch, but other items might not be so easy to identify. Then you're left trying to decide whether to remove the item or leave it alone. When you're in doubt, here are a few ways to seek answers:
• Check you anti-spyware vendor's site; they often keep a database of spyware offenders and detailed information.
• Check the Spyware Guide site.
• Check Computer Associate's Spyware Encyclopedia.
• Just Google the name of the item and see what turns up.
6. Use a real-time anti-spyware scanner
If you can't seem to avoid spyware sources or your computer is used by young surfers who may not understand the threat posed by spyware, you should consider using an anti-spyware program with a real-time monitoring component that runs in the background, looking for and blocking spyware as you surf the Internet. For example, Spybot Search & Destroy provides a real-time monitoring component called TeaTimer. The free version of Ad-Aware doesn't contain a real-time monitoring component—you have to purchase one of the Ad-Aware versions that contains the Ad-Watch real-time monitoring component. There are also a number of server based products we can recommend and help you implement for network monitoring.
7. Keep Internet Explorer's Internet zone set to Medium
Spyware primarily infiltrates your system via Web sites containing hidden traps that ambush your computer before you have a chance to figure out what's going on. To protect your computer from such unauthorized access, Internet Explorer provides a range of Security settings that control how much information you'll automatically accept from a Web site. When you install SP2, the setup procedure sets the Internet zone to Medium, which is the recommended level. A Medium security setting offers just enough access to make Web browsing enjoyable, yet safe.
It's easy to change the Security settings, and someone may inadvertently (or intentionally) lower the level, thus opening the door to spyware. As a result, it's a good idea to keep tabs on Internet Explorer's Security settings for the Internet zone:
1. From within Internet Explorer, pull down the Tools menu and select Internet Options.
2. In the Internet Options dialog box, choose the Security tab.
3. Select the Internet zone and check the Security level setting.
4. If it's not set to Medium, click the Default Level button.
8. Use Microsoft's online Malicious Software Removal Tool
If you suspect that your system has been compromised by some form of spyware, chances are good that other malicious software snuck in at the same time. In that case, you may want to use Microsoft's online Malicious Software Removal Tool to check for other anomalies. (Microsoft updates this tool with new signatures on the second Tuesday of each month.)
1. Use Internet Explorer to connect to the Malicious Software Removal Tool page.
2. In the Scan And Clean Your PC panel, click the Check My PC For Infection button.
3. When you see the Microsoft End-User License Agreement dialog box, select the I Agree option and click Continue.
4. If Internet Explorer prompts you to install the ActiveX control, allow the installation and then click the Check My PC For Infection button again.
5. When prompted to install the Malicious Software Removal Tool, click the Install button.
6. When the scan is a complete, review the report displayed on the page.
9. Use the Pop-Up Blocker
Pop-up windows containing innocuous advertisements or goofy messages are often the calling card of some devious spyware program. By default, SP2 installs and enables Internet Explorer's Pop-up Blocker with the default Filter level setting of Medium. However, this setting will often block legitimate pop-ups that users need to see. As a result, many people decide that the inconvenience is more annoying than the potential risk and turn off Pop-up Blocker. It's easy to do: Tools | Pop-up Blocker | Turn Off Pop-up Blocker.
However, the ability to display a pop-up is often all the spyware needs to infiltrate a system. So instead of turning off the Pop-up Blocker, you should use the Exceptions feature to allow pop-ups from those Web sites you trust:
1. Choose Tools | Pop-up Blocker | Pop-up Blocker Settings.
2. Type the address of the Web site in the appropriate text box and click the Add button.
3. Make sure that the Filter level setting is set to Medium.
4. Click the Close button.
10. Close pop-ups properly
If you do happen to encounter a pop-up window, don't click any button inside the window no matter what it says. A lot of spyware will try to trick you into allowing it into your system by prompting you to click an innocent-looking OK or Cancel button in a window designed to look like a regular windows dialogue box.














launch pad techrecs


Simple File Restore
One of the most asked user questions we receive at our help desk is, “how do I restore a file I accidentally deleted?”.  We found a great little Freeware utility you can use to not only restore files deleted from the recycle bin but it also has the converse functionality of permanently removing files with sensitive information. This is particularly useful before you dispose of any PC in your organization.

RSS Explained
rssfeedYou see it everywhere. So what it is and how do you use it?

Many websites have links labeled "XML" or "RSS" or "Atom". All of these are ways of saying that you can find out about updates to that site without having to visit the site in your web browser.

This feature is referred to as "syndication" or "aggregation". Sometimes it's just called subscribing. And these days, instead of one of these words, lots of sites will use a little orange button. The standard one looks like this:rssfeed It's also common to see buttons that say "RSS" or "XML", which looks like this: xml-rss. All these links and buttons mean the same thing: The site you're viewing has a feed available.

Just like when you want to watch a video clip or listen to music on the web, you need a "player" of some kind to subscribe to feeds. Good news: Most of these tools are free, and there are many to choose from, so you can find the one that best suits you.

On the web: If you don't want to have to install a program, many people choose My Yahoo!, Google Personalized Homepage, My MSN, or My AOL to read feeds right within the home page that their browser starts in. Other providers of web-based feed readers include Rojo. Bloglines, Attensa Online, or NewsGator Online. All of the web-based services are free.

On your computer: If you want a feed reading program that runs on your own computer, there are a few options. Anyone using the Mozilla Firefox web browser has support for feeds built-in, and Microsoft Windows users have support for feeds in Internet Explorer 7. Apple Macintosh users can also use the built-in support for feeds in the Safari web browser.

If you want a separate program to read feeds, you can use FeedDemon or NewsGator for Microsoft Outlook or Attensa for Outlook if you're on Microsoft Windows. Both tools let you switch between these programs and the web-based reader at any time. If you're on a Macintosh running OS X, the most popular feed reader is NetNewsWire, which can also connect to the web-based services.

Once you've got a tool to read feeds, you'll want to find some feeds worth reading. Many of the tools listed above provide some built-in feeds to get you started. Then, as you visit other sites on the web, you can keep your eyes open for links that say XML or RSS or Syndication, or for that orange button up above, and add the feeds you find interesting. 

The Launch Pad offers a feed that keeps you up to date on the latest news and promotions.  New to RSS?  You can subscribe to your first feed here:
LP TechRec RSS Feed 
RSS TechRecs feed for daily updates on technology discounts, IT programs and manufacturer promos for your small business.

launch pad news









Introducing our new Small Business Resource Center
The Launch Pad is pleased to introduce our Small Business Resource Center & Resource Library.  Here you’ll find a wealth of tools, information and resources to help you understand current technology options and build your business.  more info >>

Check our our Latest Press Releases
Keep up with the latest company buzz  more info >>

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About The Launch Pad
Established in 1992, The Launch Pad is a Florida-based business solutions provider and online computer retailer.  The compancs_refy’s goal is to offer a single source of web and technology guidance and tools to help small businesses and organizations save on IT downtime and costs, increase business productivity, enhance their brand – and turn their goals into reality. The Launch Pad’s information technology solutions are based on products from industry leading vendors, including HP, IBM, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, Symantec and many others. For more information, please visit or contact us toll-free at 888-920-3450.