American Workers For American Companies

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Great Crash of 2011

It finally happened to us.  After countless blogs and conversations with people about saving their files and utilizing back-up systems, we lived through what amounts to a natural disaster.  Our main computer crashed. 

Here's how we typically work:  we use an external hardrive as our primary drive and then back that up to our PC.  It's worked nicely especially when we need to go from our pc to our laptops. We simply unplug the external hard drive and away we go.

This past week our PC's crashed.  No problem.  They crashed so hard that we had to reset them to when we took them out of the box from the company.  We spent countless hours restoring and reloading all of our programs.  Finally got it up and running...disaster was right around the corner...just waiting for us...

So we took the external drive and plugged it in to the PC so that we could back it up (a typical practice for us).  But suddenly the computer was reading the external drive.  No worries - probably because we completely trashed and rebuilt the pc.  So we plugged it in to a laptop, then another pc, then another this point we were about close to tears. 

Gone.  No computer would read the external drive. So now we were without any of our information.  A double-crashing, as it were.  Devastating!

We typically do not write articles about products unless we're doing a comparison report.  But we are pleased to announce that by simply downloading's program on to our pc, we plugged the external drive in, and after 28 hours of studying and scanning the drive - we were able to recover 98 percent of our files!

Lesson learned - to be honest, we're not sure. We are actually contemplating the use of the cloud as a secondary back-up.  We are learning how to take additional steps to protect and preserve information so this doesn't happen again. 

No client materials or information were lost or compromised during this disaster. No work had to stop and no clients even knew that behind the scenes we were sweating it.  That's great customer care, wouldn't you say?

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Does your 6-hour laptop battery barely make it to the two-hour mark? It's almost embarrassing when you are out in public and suddenly having to uncoil the power supply and then look around frantically for a receptacle. Typically, lithium ion batteries will loose about 20% of their operating capacity every year.
Here are some tips to help your laptop battery stay running longer - longer.

1. COOL IT, ALREADY! Those laptops can produce a lot of heat and that heat reduces battery life. So do everything you can to prevent it from over-heating. Use a cooling pad when possible.

2. SHUT IT OFF. When you are in a hurry it is common-place to 'think' you shut the laptop off before you slammed it in to your bag - but if it merely went to sleep - you are killing your battery life. If you close the laptop too early after clicking 'shut down', the computer will bypass your command and simply take a nap. When it naps - the battery life is still being depleted. So wait a few extra moments for the laptop to completely shut down before closing that lid.

3. SPEND FOR THE BIG GUNS. The next time you purchase a laptop, or if you HAVE to buy a new battery - go for the ones with extended life. They really are extended and the loss every year won't seem as harsh. They will last significantly longer than the usual ones.

At this point you can reset your screen saver and your power management options as they were. If you do this at least 3 to four times a year, you may actually get a longer life out of your battery.

4. RECONDITION IT. Apple does a great job of telling its users to do this but they are about the only ones. There is a secret process and its called reconditioning your battery. Here's how it works:
  • Turn off your screen saver and any other power management options that would normally put your laptop in to a sleep mode. Then...
  • Fully charge your battery. Then...
  • Unplug it and let the battery run down just to the point of shutting down on you. Then...
  • Charge it all the way back up again.
5. CAN THE BELLS AND WHISTLES. They can be fun but if you are running on battery power a lot - you can probably do away with the extra sounds and the cool screen savers. Even dimming your display can help elongate battery life.

6. GIVE IT A REST ALREADY. Sometimes you need to just walk away so that you can re-charge your personal battery. So shut it down - ALL the way down - and go for a walk. Do some shopping and buy your virtual assistant a nice appreciation gift. :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Little Ranting: BUY AMERICAN

Do you believe that you get what you pay for?  Case in point:  I recently ran across an ad for a virtual assistant. They needed about 5 hours a week of data entry and updating on an Excel spreadsheet.  They showed a sample of the work and it was, in a word, elementary.  The ad mentioned they had gone through two virtual assistants in a month and they wanted someone who “would just do the work”.  Hmmm…so I kept reading.  AHA!  They offered $2.00 an hour.

It is a known fact that ODesk, perhaps one of our biggest competitors, is great for finding cheap labor.  You’ll find hundreds if not thousands of people from places like India and the Philippines who are more than eager to work for $2.00 an hour.  One of our team members has applied for over 350 jobs on ODesk.  He is more than qualified yet he has had NO job offers.  Why?  Because his standard rate of $9.00 an hour is ‘too high’.

Now, as a business owner I understand that if you can get cheap labor, the temptation may be too great.  But you get what you pay for. 

Why are so many American companies still refusing to give American virtual assistants a chance?  Simple. They don’t want to pay for it.  Well here’s some advice to the American companies who are making, in my opinion, the wrong choice:

First of all - don’t pay an hourly rate – if you pay someone an hourly rate, and instruct their work, and manage them, you don’t have a virtual assistant – you have an employee who telecommutes.
Second – pay for what you want in return.  You may be pleasantly surprised that for a fee that would be BASED UPON $6 to $10 an hour, you’ll get amazing results, quality work, secured transaction, and more importantly you’ll be supporting American workers.

We do not seem to be learning much from this economic crisis.  Did you know that in 2010 the Brazilian meatpacker Marfrig acquired Keystone Foods?  They paid $1.25 billion for it.  What does that mean?  It means that they are now a primary supplier to all American fast-food restaurants.  So when you chow down on that sub, or that burger you can thank the Brazilian people for supplying the meat. 

I’m not an economist – but it just doesn’t make sense to me that we continually sell-out and refuse to give work to the American people.  Americans are hard workers – they have ethics – they have the resources.  They speak your language.  Imagine how much MORE you could do if you bought American – products AND workers.

Do you think we’re crazy because we won’t compromise our fees?  Actually, when you compare, Office Remote Control offers AMAZING DEALS.  But we won’t sell out and offer our services for $2 an hour.  We won’t do it.  We’re worth more than that and we would like to think that American companies believe that THEY are worth it, as well.

Everyone jokes about the customer service line that answers in a very heavy foreign accent and introduces himself as Bob or Keith.  You KNOW that’s not his name but what you should know is that he is working for pennies an hour – and taking away American jobs.