Here's what the media has had to say about Corporate Computer Tutors...


Derek Sankey
For the Calgary Herald
Saturday, August 14, 2004

Feeling frustrated because you're not at ease with the many software programs at your fingertips? You're not alone. Software trainers and management consultants say many employees are not fully conversant with programs commonly used in their own offices. This lack of training often contributes to already high levels of stress and frustration generated by information overload.

Cindy Gibson, owner of Corporate Computer Tutors, saw an opportunity to put her expertise to use as a mobile corporate skills trainer for companies looking to reduce information overload among employees by increasing their proficiency in various computer programs.

"Companies spend all this money on technology and they're only using a small portion," says Gibson, who's been running her firm for three years.

Many small or medium-sized companies don't have the resources for full-time support staff, which has provided a niche for entrepreneurs offering training services in different formats.

Gibson says her approach -- going into a company and conducting short, customized training sessions to small groups or individuals -- lets workers learn the skills they need without being bombarded by even more information. Using available technology effectively drastically improves productivity, Gibson says. "If you don't really know how something works and you're trying to get even something small done . . . the more frustrated you get and the less productive you are." One of her clients is Ernie Sapieha, president and CEO of Compton Petroleum. Sapieha says the ability to turn around and get up-to-date on some piece of technology quickly, with minor disruption to his daily schedule, is essential for effectively using software.

"There is so much technology out there, and so much is changing all the time, that to be able to be proficient at it and keep at it is really difficult as an individual," says Sapieha.

Gibson has also helped him choose a tablet PC that meets his specific needs. Gibson says even basic Microsoft Office programs such as Outlook are underutilized. If everyone in the office is using the calendar feature, for example, anyone that needs to set a meeting with someone else can check when they are free without knowing exactly what they're doing.

"By everybody using the technology, you're reducing the amount of time needed to set up a meeting," says Gibson, adding many people are also unaware of the ability to share files and other functions of the popular program. The need for proper training is increasing as a second wave of technology enters the workplace. Technology, such as advanced groupware, complex networks, project management software, virtual teamwork systems and others, could further complicate information overload if users don't receive proper training.

Bob Yamashita, founder of management and technology consulting firm The HR Guide, says more technology will be developed that focuses on prioritizing and managing information.

"The ability of software and technology to help us do the sorting and classification is probably where the real utility will be in the future as a way of dealing with all the information overload," says Yamashita.

Information is data and all data represents some kind of opportunity, he says. Mismanaging the handling of this information could mean missed opportunities.

Simple computer literacy is already an expectation, Yamashita says. Now, the focus is shifting as companies want to maximize the efficiency of their technology.

"We're beyond computer literacy into developing an expertise around using the various software applications we have around us," says Yamashita.

He says "intelligent" software that acts as an extension of personal thinking and time-management skills will likely be developed.
Living in such an interconnected world does more than add to our stress levels and information overload, though.
"It provides more opportunities (and) we are more socially connected now in business than we have ever been," says Yamashita.

Most employees face many more decisions in their daily schedule than they once did, which is placing an added emphasis on decision making, he adds.

Gibson says people need to rethink how much priority they place on proper training in order to maximize the efficiency of the software programs they are using.

"The people that have put it as their No. 1 priority have seen the difference in their frustration and productivity levels," she says. © The Calgary Herald 2004


Summer's the Season for X-rated Spam

Sarah Staples, with files from Tamara Gignac
Calgary Herald
CanWest News Service
Thursday, August 19, 2004

For spammers, it's been a summer of sex. Two newly issued reports tracking the circulation of unsolicited e-mails say pornographic spam dominated this summer, nearly all of it originating from Internet addresses in North America.

Spammers were a busy lot: Just 200 people sent most of the world's bulk e-mail.

The U.S. was responsible for producing 85.9 per cent of all unwanted missives last year, with South Korea, China and Canada rounding out the top four spam-producing nations, according to the e-mail security firm CipherTrust.

A report by a competitor, Clearswift, noted the amount of X-rated e-mail sashaying past filters -- most of it advertising the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra -- has risen 350 per cent since June.

"It's reached the point where it's embarrassing to open your e-mail, because a lot of it is obscene," said Heather Frantz, public relations co-ordinator for the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta.

"I'm getting 50 of these messages a day on my home computer. The first thing that always pops into my mind is, 'What kind of people are falling for these scams?' "

A similar surge was reported last summer, indicating spam tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated, said Greg Hampton, general manager of Clearswift's North and South American operations.

"It's simple economics. If you know in advance when your slow period is, then you advertise heavily during that period. So for various and sundry reasons that I'll leave to your imagination, we figure porn is slower during the summer," Hampton said.

"Maybe dad's on vacation and not checking his computer as often, I don't know."

Despite the seasonal peak, porn's popularity on an annual basis actually limped into single-digits last year. Ads for cheap mortgages, stocks and fake prescription drugs were more popular, collectively representing 69.6 per cent of junk e-mail.

"No matter what I do, I'm getting more spam and more spam. It's next to impossible to keep out, and the problem is definitely getting worse," said Cindy Gibson, president of Corporate Computer Tutors.

Evidence is mounting that the original kingpins of the low-cost, unregulated marketing medium -- porn companies and Internet entrepreneurs -- are losing control to underworld operators.

Aside from the black market, spam offers a stealthy channel for organized criminals to engage in financial scams such as "web-phishing" -- tricking victims into giving away credit card or bank account numbers -- or "pump and dump" schemes, where e-mail blasts of hot stock "tips" temporarily drive a share price up so the tipper can sell at the inflated price, Hampton said.

Far more dangerous is the recent accumulation of e-mails harbouring viruses, such as Zafi-B, Netsky-P and Netsky-D, within web links or zipped attachments. Those programs turn ordinary home or small business computers into "zombies" -- launch pads for churning out more spam, threatening to unleash mass-mail attacks or swiping personal financial details.

"Spam has gone to the dark side," said Hampton.

Whatever the motives, spam appears to be working: one-quarter of Americans read it, he said.

Viagra manufacturer Pfizer recently launched a legal campaign against bulk e-mailers whom the company accuses of flogging counterfeit pills.

"If I send out 140 million, I bet you I'll get some (recipients) to click through and that revenue is going to be more than the cost of generating the message," Hampton said. "It's a game of numbers, and these guys know how to play." © The Calgary Herald 2004


David Parker
Calgary Herald
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Computer trainer Cindy Gibson honed her computer skills teaching legal, oil and gas and real estate executives how to improve their computer skills. Today the Microsoft Office Master Instructor operates Calgary Computer Tutors, a mobile training organization that teaches how to master the computer skills. That means no travel and less workplace disruption.

David Parker appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.

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