Dawn At Your Service’s Blog

Illinois Virtual Assistants Connection

A few months ago I went to a meetup for Virtual Assistants in Illinois that was organized by Cindy Bruce of Essential Office Solutions through Virtual Assistant Forums. We had a fantastic time talking about how our businesses evolved, successes, failures, resources, client relations, challenges of working from home and how we could gain from our meetups.

Cindy Bruce, Kathleen Vargas of The Office Virtuoso, Kathy Watkins of Turnkey Virtual Assistance, Doreen Patrick of Virtual Business Partners and I decided to formally develop a professional networking Virtual Assistant Group named Illinois Virtual Assistants Connection (ILVAC for short). Our intent is to share knowledge and experiences at all levels of self-employment, educate each other of new resources, technology and best VA practices, build solid business relationships, as well as join together in collaborative efforts for referrals and project outsourcing. Of course we also want to have fun, fun, fun!

We’ve all put a lot of time and effort into building our group and are proud to say it’s steadily growing and we are getting great feedback. Members are enjoying our group, expanding their knowledge about the rapidly growing Virtual Assistant Industry and personally, I’ve learned something new at every meetup so far.

Illinois Virtual Assistants Connection has a lot of exciting things coming for the group. We are planning  a holiday party, Lunch-and-Learns, and our biggest baby of all…an ILVAC Conference for Spring! I have never planned a full fledged conference before. It is so exciting!

There are no profits involved for the ILVAC Core members other than the rewards we gain from building relationships and helping others.

If you’re a Virtual Assistant or aspiring VA residing in Illinois, please join us at Illinois Virtual Assistants Connection and become a part of our future success!

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October 27, 2009 Posted by | Business Development, Business Management, Business Operations, How To, Marketing, Work From Home | , , , , | Leave a comment

WYSIWYG Editors and Basic HTML

I’m creating this post to help my clients, both current and future, who are interested in managing their own websites after I design them. Of course if this information is helpful to anyone else, that’s fantastic.

The applications I use to build websites are content management systems. I use CMS Made Simple, Joomla or WordPress. I haven’t decided yet which one I like best. Most people find WordPress to be the easiest to manage by themselves, but rumor has it that Joomla has the most sustainability and functionality.

All three systems that I use have WYSIWYG editors. According to Wikipedia, WYSIWYG (pronounced /ˈwɪziwɪɡ/[1]), is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get, used in computing to describe a system in which content displayed during editing appears very similar to the final output,[2] which might be a printed document, web page, slide presentation or even the lighting for a theatrical event.”

In English, it’s an editor that translates text and images into code so it can be displayed in a browser, and apparently other things. WYSIWYG editors have been a huge development for designers because it reduces almost all hard coding. Notice the word “almost”. Just like the definition above states, “appears very similar”. WYSIWYG editors are NOT error proof and things don’t always display the way they do in your editing screen. Hopefully these basic codes and tips can help editing a website and/or blog pages a little less painful.

Some Basic codes:

Most codes have a beginning and an end. The bolded print is the code. The italic text displayed between is used as an example and would be replaced with your own text.

Paragraph-

<p>Place the text for your paragraph between these codes. Start a new segment for each paragraph.</p>

Bold-

<b>Place bold text here</b>
or, and I don’t know why
<strong>Place bold text here</strong>

I use trial and error here. If one doesn’t work, try the other.

Italic-

<em>Place italic text here.</em>

Insert an image-

<img src=”full path to the file you want to insert“>
*generally if you click on the image where it is uploaded such as file manager or media gallery, it will display in another browser window. You can copy and paste the entire file name in between the parathesis and it SHOULD work.

Insert a hyperlink/url-

<a href=”url to the page you want to link“>what you actually want displayed</a>

Spacing-

Spacing can be a very tricky thing with WYSIWYG editors. Sometimes there’s too much space and sometimes there’s not enough.

To add a space, try <br> which is called a break tag and does not need an end tag. If that doesn’t work, try adding a paragraph with non-breaking space <p>&nbsp;</p> Hopefully one of those will do the trick.

Removing space is often necessary when you use the enter button. The WYSIWYG editor adds in a blank paragraph that looks like this: <p></p> with no text in it other than maybe some formatting. Or there will just be a blank space. Either way, you have to delete it.

VERY IMPORTANT-All editing using HTML codes must be done from the HTML editor. They won’t work using the WYSIWYG. It will display exactly like it does here in this post. If you have trouble locating your HTML editor in any of the programs I mentioned above, just ask and I’ll direct you towards them.

The bolded coding is just to help you identify what is the actual code. When using code, it is not bolded.

Never copy and paste a Word document into a WYSIWYG editor. Microsoft automatically places hideen code in their text and it will show through or the text will not display properly unless you stick it into a Word clipboard (which most WYSIWYG editors have), or copy and paste it into notepad and THEN into your WYSIWYG editor.

Lastly, I highly recommend ALWAYS copying and pasting the original HTML code (what you see when you switch from the WYSIWYG to the HTML editor into notepad before you do any tampering in unfamiliar territory. Trust me on this…I’ve made that mistake! You don’t want to take the chance of losing all of your original, already formatted content!

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Business Operations, How To | 1 Comment

ShareO For Outlook-Not a Fan

ShareO for Outlook is a program that allows users to share and synchronize Outlook folders such as e-mail, tasks, contacts, calendars, notes, documents and files. There is a 14 days free trial period and costs about $35 per PC that uses the program.

When I first used the program during the trial period and had problems with the data not synchronizing, I should have decided right then and there to try another option. But a lot of time was spent creating folders and sending (and resending and resending) data. I blamed the issues on my lack of experience with the program. There isn’t a lot of user information posted online or in the help section that could have helped me. Fortunately, I was at least able to get online support. The ShareO Representative Don whom helped me several times was absolutely wonderful! He was patient and helped the best he could.

After a few days of e-mails not coming through, Don was able to to resolve the issue by resending the data and changing some configurations remotely. Everything seemed to be working properly so we purchased the licenses. Then again, e-mails and tasks were not synchronizing. I kept getting calendar reminders that I repetitively disabled. Mail and folders came through in duplicates and multiples and some didn’t come through at all. I would move e-mails into folders and tasks and they wouldn’t display on the other shared PC. Attachments were getting lost and some e-mails disappearing completely.

ShareO was contacted again and their first solution was to check if shared sub-folders were set under inbox sharing options and if so, disable this option and then one by one re-send the data from all folders.

That didn’t work out so the next steps were to:

  1. Open MS Outlook on the machine which has all shared folder items
  2. Click on ShareO menu > Management Panel.
  3. Select shared folder on the left side of Management Panel
  4. Click on the e-mail address of the user who is missing shared folder items
  5. Click Re-send Data… Check option ‘All’.
  6. After resending is done, please click on Send\Receive on sending machine
  7. Wait a couple of minutes and click on Send\Receive on receiving machine

Notice that there are “Do not send private or personal items”, “Do not send birthday and anniversaries” and “Do not send holiday appointments” options in ShareO > Management Panel

If that does not resolve the problem:

Perform this on all machines involved in sharing:  – Close MS Outlook – Go to Start > Run > Type %appdata% click enter > Go to 4Team folder > Rename ShareO folder to ShareO_bak – Go to My Documents – Rename ShareO folder to ShareO_bak – Start MS Outlook * You will get a pop-up warning that ShareO database cannot be found. Please do not point it to ShareO_bak folder, just accept it by clicking OK After this is done on all machines, please share the folders again.

Guess what? None of that resolved the problems either. We had to both uninstall and reinstall the progams. ShareO still didn’t work. We got our favorite ShareO representative Don back on live chat and he took remote access to both PCs, reconfigured the systems and resent the data AGAIN!

The shared inbox messages finally came through again but still in multiples at times, deletions were not applying (although they were configured to) and messages and attachments were getting lost.

The money isn’t worth the frustration. The result of losing a client’s important e-mail is priceless. There comes a time when you just have to let it go. Cut the losses and move on!

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Business Management, Business Operations | , , , | Leave a comment