Know The Code
When your inventory outgrows the pencil- and-clipboard stage, it's time to get automated. Barcoding applications such as Barcode Anything by Zebra Technologies Corp. can address a variety of business needs, such as keeping track of product inventory or company assets. Barcode Anything is a complete, computerized barcoding package that comes with software to create bar code labels on any Windows-supported printer, a tracking database with application-specific templates, and a laser scanning wand.
Barcode Anything can produce and track barcodes from data contained in most available spreadsheets or databases, meaning that a pre-existing inventory, asset or security entry can be assigned a barcode. The label is then printed out and stuck on shelves, computer peripherals or security ID badges. Since the laser wand draws low levels of power from laptop batteries, users can easily take Barcode Anything onto the loading dock or on the road.
Barcode Anything ($299) also includes a CD-ROM tutorial. System requirements are a PC running Windows 3.11 or higher, 45MB hard-drive space, an open serial port and a Windows-supported printer. Visit Zebra Technologies' Web site at http://www.barcodeanything.com
If an offer on the Internet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Consumer reports of fraud to Internet Fraud Watch, a service of the nonprofit consumer advocacy group National Consumers League, have tripled in the last year.
The dramatic growth of Internet-related commerce has resulted in what Internet Fraud Watch director Susan Grant calls a "giant yard sale in cyberspace." Consumers purchase a variety of goods and services without ever laying eyes on either the product or its seller, making them vulnerable to fraud.
Fraudulent sales of computer-related services and general merchandise were the two most common crimes reported to Internet Fraud Watch, followed by multilevel marketing and franchising scams.
How can you avoid becoming a victim of fraud? Internet Fraud Watch suggests that when buying services or merchandise online, make sure you know whom you're dealing with by checking the track record of the business with a consumer agency.
Internet Fraud Watch relays crime reports to law enforcement agencies in both the United States and Canada. You can report an Internet fraud or solicitation at http://www.fraud.org/internet or by calling (800) 876-7060.
Take A Number
Only a year after AT&T began offering 888 prefix toll-free numbers, unprecedented demand for toll-free services has prompted the telecom giant to introduce the next toll-free prefix: 877. According to AT&T, more than half a million businesses and government agencies now accept toll-free calls, and an explosion in the number of pagers, cellular phones and fax machines has caused a 50 percent growth rate in the number of toll-free lines in use.
"We never thought so many customers would be installing 888 service," says Tom Angeline, toll-free services manager for AT&T. "While it took 27 years to run out of 800 prefix numbers, it only took two years to start running low on 888 numbers."
The planned introduction of the new toll-free prefix in April gives businesses a chance to get a much sought after "vanity" number. "Every time a prefix opens, it makes available vanity number combinations that were not previously available," Angeline says.
Businesses worried about compatibility issues have nothing to fear, Angeline adds. Phone systems that work with the 888 toll-free prefix won't need any adjustment to handle 877 calls.