By Guy Clapperton.

In this regular section we’ll do our best to answer any IT-related questions you might send in. Feel free to mail me at guy.clapperton@freshbusinessthinking.com

I’ve seen a number of keyboards, mice and stuff coming out that are apparently designed for Windows Vista. Do I have to buy a new keyboard for the new system?
Piers Lawson, London

No you don’t. Logitech and others are indeed pushing new offerings at the launch of the new Microsoft system but if you check the boxes you’ll see they work fine on Windows XP and indeed the Mac. There are a couple of advanced functions within Vista, however, for which the mice and keyboards have extra flourishes and which simply won’t do anything with older versions — likewise an ordinary mouse will work with older Windows but it won’t have the widget to flip between documents using the Vista Flip 3D feature built in.

I’ve had a complaint that my company is sending out junk e-mails when we’re not. What’s the likely cause?
Tania Edis, Edinburgh

What’s almost certainly happening is that someone is spoofing your e-mail. They’ve stolen a list or maybe bought one in — which is unlikely — on which your address appears and designed their mails so they look as though they’re coming from you. The other possibility is that you’ve picked up a computer virus that raids your contact book and sends out duplicates of itself to everyone in it. Things to do are first check your antivirus is up to date; assuming it’s not a virus you could write to people assuring them you’re not abusing their details and advising them to delete any suspicious-looking mails purporting to be from you an above all advise them not to open any attachments that arrived with them.

I’m considering computerising my accounts as we grow — what issues do I need to think about?
Matt Francis, Newcastle

Two answers, both of which are relatively simple. First look at whether there’s a natural growth path for the products you’re evaluating — so you have ten users now, what when you have twenty or thirty, will the product accommodate all of them? Second and even simpler, ask your accountant what he or she uses so at the end of the year you can just send them soft copy and it can be their headache.

We sometimes use temps and also have occasional rather than constant need for extra copies of Adobe InDesign. I don’t see that a handful of uses per year justifies a full extra copy of Microsoft Word or loads more licenses from Adobe — is there a way around this?
Andrew Dobson, Cardiff

There is, and it’s renting and hosting. If you source your IT from a hosted service — in other words someone who supplies all of your applications while you just use your computers as terminals — you’ll be able to put a call in saying ‘Adobe InDesign to this computer for five days please’ and pay for a license for five days for a single user rather than the full purchase price.

Guy Clapperton is a freelance journalist, broadcaster and book author/editor specialising in small business issues and technology.
www.clapperton.co.uk/