Tag Archives: Office

Passwords

As more and more aspects of our lives are going online our internet security is becoming increasingly important. It’s no longer ok to have the word ‘Password’ for a password or to have the same password for everything, so what are we to do?

Firstly, what not to do

We post so much personal information online via Social Media or have information about ourselves held by others, some publicly available on mediums such as the electoral role that using any word or name that is related to you such as your son, daughter or even pets names are easy pickings for hackers, even if you add a number to the end.

Never use the word ‘Password’ or simple combinations like ‘qwerty123’ or ‘abcd123’. The shorter the password, the easier it is to crack. The average home PC is capable of being programmed to crack a 6 character password in a under an hour, 8 characters would take 24 hours, 10 is apparently about a month.

You need to come up with strong passwords

What is a Strong Password – A strong password contains at least 8 characters and should contain both UPPER and lower case letters and numbers.

A Superstrong Password is as above but with at least 10 characters and could also include special characters such as ‘!*&{@’ but not all systems allow these.

Here are some tips for coming up with a secure password which is still memorable.

Think of 2 or more words, convert the first word to all lower case and the second to Uppercase or vice versa. Then convert certain letters to numbers for example:

  • I or i becomes 1
  • E becomes 3
  • g becomes 9
  • o or O becomes 0
  • B becomes 8
  • S becomes 5
  • and becomes &
  • at or a becomes @

Examples in use:

  • Happy Chappie    –           h@ppyCH@PP13
  • Foolish Password –          f001!5Hp@55WORD
  • Off Down The Pub –        0ffD0wnTH3pu8
  • Strong and Secure –        5tr0n9&53CUR3

This works best if you choose words that have meaning to you.

Try not to re-use passwords – its ok to do this on unimportant sites such as forums but not for online shopping or banking.

Final Point

It is vitally important that you NEVER EVER use your email account password anywhere other than on your email account. Alot of sites automatically use your email address as your username. If you then use the same password as you do for your email and that site is hacked, the first thing a hacker will do is hack into your email account and then try all the other sites you use with that email address and the first site they will try is your Paypal and other bank accounts where they can get something out of you.

Stay safe.

Acknowledgements and credit for content to S Watts of Siwis Ltd

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All About Poole

I recently saw a blog from a follower giving 40 reasons to move to Toronto, so I thought I would take inspiration from this and compile a list of things about Poole. Now Poole is a lot smaller than Toronto and our Mayor is not known internationally for taking crack and using inappropriate language, in fact, I have no idea who our Mayor is but let’s see what we can come up with.

    • We have one of the largest natural harbours in the world.
    • We have Blue Flag beaches

      • A Chain Ferry
      • Not one but two lifting bridges.
      • 4 Tides per day
      • It’s where the Scouts were founded by Lord Baden Powell – dib dib dib
      • The home of Sunseeker Yachts

      • The home of Lush – they make our industrial estates smell lovely

        • Head Quarters for the RNLI – they have a fancy new college building where you can even get married.

          • The Sandbanks Pennisular has the 4th highest land value in the world – you need serious millions for even a scrap of land.
          • Poole Quay – where several of the pubs date back to the 1600’s
          • The Dolphin Shopping Centre – an incredibly ugly 1960s concrete monstrosity, how did they ever think that looked good.
          • We have cross channel ferries.
          • Rainfall is well below the UK average.
          • Population (at the last census in 2011) is 147,600 with 22% under 19 and 20.5% over 65.
          • In 2006 a National Housing Federation study claimed Poole was the most unaffordable town to live in, in the UK.
          • The castle on Brownsea Island was originally a fortification built by Henry VIII in 1549 – now its owned by the National Trust who lease it to John Lewis for their staff holidays.

            • Ryvitas are made here – you can smell it when they burn them.
            • The heathland at Canford Heath is an 850 acre site of special scientific interest.
            • We have ‘Bikers Night’ on Poole Quay every Tuesday.
            • Polo on the beach.

            • It’s home to Diane Hudson Accountancy Ltd.

 

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HMRCs Home Office Policies

How much can you claim, for using a room in your home for business purposes?

HMRCs guidance uses typically vague words such as ‘fair & reasonable’ and ‘modest or excessive’. The trouble is someone earning mega money will think one figure is fair and reasonable but to most of us the same figure would seem excessive.

HMRC believes just £4 per week is all that should be claimed for the use of a home office. This measly amount is deemed as a ‘significant’ expenses and any claim over this amount must be justified by providing records or demonstrating your calculations.

How to can claim over the £4 per week

One way to prove your claim is reasonable is to calculate your monthly outgoings for gas, electric, rent, water etc then divide this by the number of rooms in the property (excluding kitchens & bathrooms).  For example if you have 5 rooms (Lounge, Dining Room, 3 Bedrooms) and one is used as an office take 1/5th of these bills.

If this amount seems too substantial for your business use you could divide it down further by the number of hours you spend in it working each day eg, 8/24 hrs or by the number of days per week that you work or by square meterage if known.

Beware

Be careful if claiming for more than one room as you will need more justification but it is possible ie a photographer could have an office and a darkroom (days before digital).

You should never claim the room is ‘solely’ for business purposes as this could lead to a business rates claim by the local council for part of your home or even Capital Gains Tax when you sell your property. Most people’s home office also doubles as a spare bedroom or is home to the unused exercise bike or the kids use it for doing their homework.

If you run your business through a Limited Company you can draw up a lease agreement so your company is reimbursing you for the costs of the room thus reducing your Corporation Tax but again, to be exempt from Capital Gains Tax when you sell the property make sure the agreement doesn’t state that it is solely and exclusively for business purposes.

For the Love of Lists

Lists – I love them, always have done. There’s something deeply satisfying about ticking off items on your lists. I guess that’s why I took to accountancy, it’s basically just lists of income & lists of expenses.

When you have lots to do or lots to remember and everything is whizzing around in your head itbigstock-The-word-Everything-on-a-To-Do-45656401-300x300 can seem like double the amount of tasks you actually have to accomplish and can seem quite overwhelming. By writing the tasks down in a list it helps to clarify, organise and prioritise the tasks and then when you can see exactly what’s to be done and you know you won’t forget anything, it suddenly all seems less overwhelming.

As humans, we tend to have a natural state of ‘slackness’, lists help to focus the mind. Shopping lists, reminders and ‘to do’ lists are all variations on productivity based lists that we use to help us stop procrastinating. The ‘to do’ list is the one we spend most time on. We don’t seem to struggle to write a shopping list and then buy everything on it but getting tasks on a ‘to do’ list done is a whole different matter.

Tips for your ‘To Do’ list

Don’t make tasks too large, break them down into smaller tasks, you’ll have more to tick off and will feel like you are achieving more.

Prioritise – put the list in order of urgency.

Be realistic with your planning. It will have a negative effect if you are unable to accomplish your tasks in the time you set yourself.

If you can’t get motivated try doing the simplest, quickest tasks on your list first. Ticking off some items will help you get going.

Find methods that work for you. You may need a list of long-term tasks and then make sub lists for smaller more immediate or daily tasks.

My Lists

In my personal life I have lists for everything, shopping (I have an app for that one), packing, camping, finances, birthdays, bucket lists etc, etc but we won’t go into those as some may think it’s a bit sad.

In work, although I have many lists to organise and keep track of things in my business, my ‘to do’ list is the most essential. (That and the list that shows who owes me money.)

I do a monthly to do list so on the first day of each month a new blank list complete with tick boxes is printed off. First I put on everything that was left to do from the last month. I draw a red line under these so I know they were from the previous month and that these items must be done by the end of the new month, that way I am never too far behind with anything. Then in a separate section I write in anything that I know has to be done in the month and the date it has to be done by, items such as PAYE submissions, Companies House annual returns, VAT returns etc. Again a line is drawn under these, then any new work that comes in during the month is listed underneath and whilst I try to get as much completed in the month, I know it’s ok if these have to be carried over to the following month.

Click link to my blankTo do list

Some days when there seems to be a lot of little bits & pieces to do, I will write a sub list just for the day. You need to be flexible, I do not always do the items in order of the list, if you know you only have 20 mins to spare, just chose a quick task to tackle, it’s not always practical to start a task you won’t be able to finish.

Lists can help a lot but don’t be ruled by them, sometimes life just gets in the way of your goals.

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My Office

Following on from my previous blogs ‘Working from home’ and ‘What your desk says about you’, it occurred to me that none of my 170 clients have ever seen my office so here is a guided tour.

Firstly my office takes over 2 rooms; one has filing cabinets and storage of work to be done and work to be collected.

The other is where the many, many hours of work are done.

There are 2 workstations, 2 laptops, a Mac, 2 printers, shelving, stationery cupboard, filing trays, white board, pin board, Bose speaker doc, telephone, shredder, binder and all the necessary stationery. All very usual and boring.

However, I have some more interesting objects in the office to make it more personal to me.


A canvas of Moto GP Champion Jorge Lorenzo – I’m a big fan.

On the shelf you may have spotted there is an Ice Hockey goalie mask – a present from my husband. This one is from NHL team Florida Panthers (not my team but they are hard to come by) and it actually has blood inside it. I also have 2 ice hockey pucks – they make great paper weights.


Look see I really am qualified and licenced to practice!

My stapler is the best stapler ever, I had it for years at my last place of work and loved it so much that they let me keep it when I left 6 years ago and it’s still going strong. I don’t know what I’d do if it broke.

My paperclips are held in a little cake box from The Bulldog – one of those ‘special’ cafes in Amsterdam and yes the cake was ‘special’ too. My husband and I thought we would be brave and try one. So sitting on the edge of a canal in the red light district, whilst watching the numerous stag parties go by, we split the tiny cake in half and ate half each, then waited ….. and waited ……and, nothing!! It was probably just an overpriced sponge cake.

My husband and son stick stickers on everything – I hate stickers, the side of my printer is the only place I allow them on my stuff and they have to meet the criteria of being pretty/cute/girly bike related stickers.

Finally, my all important calculator. I’ve had it from when I was studying accountancy so I estimate it to be at least 15 years old. Pretty much all of the numbers have disappeared from the keys and I never even realised until my son tried to use it to do his maths homework and he would ask “Where’s the 3”, “where’s the plus”, and I would tell him “where they’ve always been” – no wonder he done so badly in maths.

 

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Desks – Which One Is Yours

‘If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?’
Albert Einstein

In my last blog about Working from Home, I stated the importance of having a dedicated work space but whether it’s at home or not, what does this space say about you.

1. Messy as a Pigsty
If your desk is just pleasantly messy you are probably the creative type as it’s believed a messy environment encourages creativity. However, if it resembles a toxic waste zone you will just be hated by all who have to work near you.

2. Inspirational Message Overload
Personally I hate these things especially the team building ones you see in company offices, I’m far too cynical for these. People who need to be surrounded by these messages and quotes are thought to be slightly neurotic. ‘Inspirational statements are a psychological form of trying to keep people together emotionally and it calms anxiety.’

3. The Office Meeting Place
Is your desk the place everyone wants to be at? Maybe because you always have a bowl of sweets on your desk or have cool pictures or stationery that everyone wants to borrow. You are thought to be extrovert and you love the attention. You probably always had the best pencil case at school.

4. Clean on Monday, Messy by Tuesday
You try to start the week organised and promise to stay on top of things but then life takes over. You are a person who finds it hard to break habits but you get things done ….. eventually.

5. Always Neat & Tidy
Being perfectly organised is part of your daily routine. You are super organised, always on time and prompt to reply to emails. You wouldn’t dream of eating at your desk.

So, which one am I? I like to think I’m a 5 but sometimes (most times) I’m probably a 4.

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Photo Credit:  SplitShire