Bob Rankin is a small business owner - a writer, computer programmer and ecommerce expert who enjoys explaining technology in plain English. His work has appeared in Computer World, NY Newsday, and other publications. Bob is also publisher of Ask Bob Rankin, author of several computer books, and owner of Flowers Fast, the online florist service.

Should I Offer WiFi to Customers?

Whether your business is open to the public, or only by invitation, it’s a good idea to offer guests access to wireless Internet. Let me explain why, and offer some tips on doing it right... … [Continue reading]

Answering Service and Voicemail Software

If you need an answering service or voicemail system, and are the do-it-yourself kind of person, then you may be interested in answering service software. That's one of the terms for software that helps you manage incoming phone calls. It's also … [Continue reading]

Seven Alternatives to Quickbooks

QuickBooks is the most popular small business accounting software. But it’s expensive: $150 to $200 for the desktop Pro version and more if you need advanced functions. Here are some free and cheap alternatives to QuickBooks that may serve the n … [Continue reading]

Do Chipped Credit Cards Protect Against Fraud?

Everyone agrees that credit and debit card fraud is a huge problem that costs consumers, merchants, and card-issuing banks billions of dollars per year. Making cards more difficult to 'clone' is one measure that can cut fraud dramatically. … [Continue reading]

DDOS Attacks: Are You Vulnerable?

One of the most devastating online hazards is becoming more common and powerful, striking many prominent websites and crippling them for days at a time. Learn what Distributed Denial Of Service (DDOS) attacks are; who is launching them; and what … [Continue reading]

Stop Unwanted and Annoying Phone Calls

A recent study found that unwanted phone calls are not just annoying, but costly as well. It costs small businesses in the USA $500 million a year to handle instrusive telemarketing and so-called 'spam calls'. Here are some tips and tools to fight … [Continue reading]

Are Email Read-Receipts Worthwhile?

A reader asks: 'When I send email to my business contacts, how can I be sure they've opened and read my message?' The answer is read-receipts for email, also called open tracking. But the technology isn't always appreciated by recipients, and isn't … [Continue reading]

Eight Free Cloud Services You Should Know About

Cloud computing is a simple, versatile concept. Just turn over your data and software needs to the experts up there in “the cloud” of the Internet. Let them worry about storing your data, keeping it secure, organizing it, and maintaining software tha … [Continue reading]

Five Free Online Survey Tools

A reader asks: 'I want to do a survey of visitors to my website. I need basic demographics, some multiple choice questions, and the ability to generate reports. Oh, and free is nice! What tool do you recommend?' Read on for my roundup of free … [Continue reading]

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