Security on crackberries

Just reading this article at CSO on the dangers of using mobile devices and it specifically mentions the John McCain incident:

…officials with John McCain’s campaign mistakenly sold a Blackberry to a Fox television reporter for US$20 in a fire sale…

News like this makes me glad that the most of our clients that use either Blackberries or Windows Mobile devices are using Handheld Contact (aka HHC) to sync their data to their handheld.

I AM GLAD because Handheld Contact has an option on the server side to “Erase data from handheld” which will erase all data sent to the handheld by HHC which is all the contact info for all the contacts.

If a client loses their Blackberry, all it takes is a phone call to their system admin (or me), a couple of mouse clicks and a large chunk of sensitive information is removed from the Blackberry.

[cross-posted here]

Wildcard searching Lookups

I often find I want to find someone or a company in ACT!, however I can only remember part of their name – wildcard searching to the rescue.
If I do a company lookup for “outback“, I only get returned a list of companies that begin with “outback“.
However, if I do a company lookup for “%outback” – note the percent sign prefixing the search term, I get a list of all companies that contain the word “outback“.
This is quite useful and can be used on any of the fields, not just the company field.

Changing the world one ACT at a time!

Do you love your job? I do. Let me tell you why. I get to change ‘someones’ world on a daily basis. And I love it. 

I do technical support for a small marketing firm, all of our clients use ACT!, which is a contact management application. When you show someone how they can improve their productivity, improve their bottom line they get excited, and by extenstion, so do I. 

Just this week we demo’ed a customisation that will totally change the clients ability to track the jobs they do, the items associated with those jobs, the people and all the rest of it. The client was literally getting out of his chair, walking around “of course”, “WOW!”, “does that mean…” – “yes it does”. It was a the HIGHLIGHT of my week. To have spent the time delving into their business to work out what they do, how they do it so as to figure out what they needed was fun, it was truely enjoyable, but to see the reaction, the excitement, the realisations for what would now be possible – that was GOLD.

I love my job.

[note: the title “Changing the world one ACT at a time!” is a hat tip to an insightful guy with a Blue Monster]

[note: edited to fix a typo and add URL for www.evolutionmarketing.com.au]

SQL 2005 Versions

I have to thank Kevin Chieff (ACT! guru) for pointing me to this link on how to tell the difference between versions of Microsoft SQL 2005 – and the MS page it points to re the SERVERPROPERTY (Transact-SQL) command.

The number of times I’ve had to work out just which version of SQL is running is amazing. The difficulty in doing so is amazing. There ought to be a simple utility that does it all.

So the two links above will get used a lot in conjuction with my previous post re determining SQL versions.

Why HandHeldContact

Talking with Mike Lazarus, self described and evident ACT! Evangelist, about HHC (aka HandHeldContact) and he passed on a list he has of some of the HHC advantages (in no particular order):

  • No need to set up on each user’s PC – faster installation and implementation
  • Central administration – including profiles for multiple users and the ability to delete the database from a device remotely
  • Supports – Terminal services, Citrix, Web
  • Syncs wirelessly up to every 15 minutes
  • Uses its own database, so no sudden duplication of the database as happens in most of the link products.
  • Automatically send important contacts based on activities scheduled or dynamic groups
  • Records Calls, Emails and SMS made from HHC on the device
  • Up to 76 ACT! fields (26 standard and 50 user-definable)
  • Pop-ups (pull-downs) optionally sent to better support data entry
    i.e. if you have an ID STATUS field, HHC will sync the possible values for this field so that when you add a contact via the PDA you have those fields available
  • Adding activities on the device sync correctly to the right contact
  • Ability to create activities WITH multiple contacts
  • View and Schedule activities for other ACT! users
  • New build to support ACT!’s Custom Activity Types due very soon

At Evolution Marketing, I’ve been playing with HHC for a few clients. Setting up and deploying the HHC is easy. I’ve simply had people visit a URL, follow the prompts and with little work on the server end, which I’ve been doing remotely to the server, and within 30 min they have their Contacts, task and Calender on the Blackberry. Not only that but I’ve been setting it up so they can see selected calenders of other users. For me this is a major difference between using MS Exchange and ActiveSync.

So far, I haven’t setup HHC on a Windows Mobile device, but the documentation says it can be done. I hope it is as easy as the BB version.

[update: Mike has just said it is the same on WM6, also said setup time for 1 or two users is almost same as setting up 30 users, it only adds 2 min per user, which I can readily believe given the experience I’ve had so far. And if someone schedules an appointment or activity for you with a contact that you are not currently sync’ing to your PDA, then HHC will automagically include that contact on the next sync, how cool is that?]

Evolving the ACT

It is now two weeks in to my new digs at Evolution Marketing – and it sure is fun.

Primarily I’ve been learning how to drive ACT!, software to take care of your contact management. Yesterday and today I’ve been playing with custom tables in the ACT! MS-SQL database. While ACT! looks after contacts and tasks, meetings & calls to do with your contacts really well, some clients would like to be able to do even more, like handle job sheets etc. Which is the reason for the custom tables. These allow us to track all sorts of other information and connect them to contacts & companies.

I’ve also setup a Blackberry Bold simulator and a Windows Mobile 6 Emulator, this allows me to experience the same things as our clients, notably HandHeldContact, which allows you to sync multiple calenders, notes, histories etc to your phone – loads more than MS Exchange alone allows.

To paraphrase the paragraphs above, I’m having fun learning new stuff!

The other staff at Evolution are great to work with, the coffee is good and all the tech toys I’ve asked for have been delivered, with the exception of the telephone headset, but it is on the way so they’re forgiven ;-). Woot!

Update 20th Oct: Got the telephone headset on Friday afternoon. Cool.