Computer Tools & Tips

Do you have a website where things would be easier for your customers, if they could book online?

BT Tradespace are now offering three levels of service for online booking systems and two businesses I know are trialling it.

Sarah at Arrow Light Haulage is looking at using it to book courier collections and deliveries for one of their vehicles. Charles at Clear as Crystal web design is using it so people can book a free consultation for web services.

If two businesses as diverse as a courier and a web designer can use the system, what uses may be possible for your website?

For virtual assistants every where this could be a very nifty tool, one that our clients will appreciate.

You can take a look at the online booking too at



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Often as Virtual Assistant we are asked to jobs that involves editing formats etc and we have to have the right tools for job.

One of my personal favourite blogs for hints and tips is – and they had an article about the XML Editor and free downloads of useful software. Take a look at the snippet, the link to the full article is at the end.

XML documentsare one of the most hard to edit formats if you don’t have the right tool for the job. Editing the contents of the text without accidentally altering the structure of the surrounding tags will be difficult even for a veteran programmer.


The folks from Microsoft realised this problem so they released XML Notepad as a clean and lean solution for basic XML editing. Lean because the installer is only 1.9MB in size! The interface is also free of fancy bells and whistles; there are no browser plug-in, no splash screens.

XML Notepad is named after the Spartan yet effective text editor Notepad. Its interface is a simple vertically split window of tree view at the left and the texts of values at the right.


So, a great free software download if you need an xml editor.


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Small and home businesses can greatly benefit using exchange hosting.  It has always been out of reach and mostly available to corporate companies due to the high cost factor. 

Now you too can have your email, contacts and calendar synchronised on your PC, laptop, PDA/Smart phone and have web access.  This facility gives you the benefit of being in touch and up to date no matter where you are in the world.
I personally use it in my business, I can honestly say I don’t know how I would work without it. You can easily reply to an incoming email messages while you are out and about.  You can check email messages while you are on the train or waiting for your meeting to start. 

The benefit factor is being able to respond to your customers quickly and provide a better service. I have been told by clients that they have seen a great improvement on closing deals because their response rate is much higher. Before they could only reply to emails at night when they got home and by then they lost the deal.

You can immediately update a contact or add a new appointment on your smart phone or PDA it automatically updates your PC, laptop and web access facility.

Currently I know of two services that offer exchange hosting at very affordable rates.  For as little as £5.99 per user a month you can get yourself synchronised.
are one of the providers of exchange hosting.  So far it has been okay using their service.  The downside is their call centre support. Their understanding of your problems is not always up to speed and it can be extremely frustrating to deal with them because they cannot always resolve your issue.  I find that sometimes it is a matter of a lucky pick and I just call back until I find someone who knows what they are doing.  

Fortunately it does not happen too often only on setup and if something goes down then you need to deal with them.  Recently I had such an experience where some of my clients could not send or receive email and could only get web access.  I finally managed to get it resolved, now again this week but this time it seemed to be that more users were having difficulties with their mail.  

This got me speaking to my own web host and asked how we can offer a service at such affordable rates and offer a better quality service.  I found out that it is possible but I would need about 160 users, so my clients and myself will have to stick it out for a while longer until I find 160 users. Overall since last year this is the first time I have had issues.  

If you are interested in using exchange server then visit

Remember that this is synchronised with Microsoft Outlook and is for Outlook users.  I am not sure on open source exchange but you can ask. 

Microsoft Business Live
The other service is offered by Microsoft themselves.  Their rates are even cheaper and is integrated with Microsoft Business Live where you can share documents, collaborate with clients and staff.  Set up team workspaces and much more.  I have been tempted to try their email facility but they do not answer their phones for me to ask questions.  So I gathered if my systems go down, then I could be stuck.

Having facilities and systems that allow my clients to work better and more efficiently at affordable rates is the core of my business. I would love to be able to set up a service to offer exchange hosting, if you are interested send me a message and I will see how many people would be interested.   

If you do not want the hassle of dealing with 1and1 and would like me to do it for you. Then contact me at:  and we can discuss your options.

Romany Thresher
Direct Assist Online

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