Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A review of the year

Well, just about Evonne does a review of the year, although this year most of the TV programmes are a review of the decade.

This time last year I sat down and wondered what on earth was going to happen through 2009, we had already been hit by a couple of Bad debts, and we needed to alter the way we work. The good thing for us was at the end of 2007, and moving in to 2008 we had sorted out our marketing, refreshed our log and branding. So the answer was all we could do was try our hardest, support our customers, try and reduce costs where possible, and offer to be flexible on payments should the need arise.

And so the year started, we were hit with another couple of customers going bust, but in the main our customers were surviving reasonably well. So we started looking for more customers, we have increased our Business to Business Support customer base by 25%, this has resulted in us keeping our income slightly above the previous year, as we had lost some customers and the others were not spending as much.

We saw rapid growth in our Home User market, particularly in our laptop repairs. Replacement Screens, and replacement power jacks accounting for most of the laptop repairs.

The biggest issue we have seen a rise in, for move businesses and consumers are issues with broadband. In the main and issue arising either with the router, or mainly issues with the actual connection and the ensuring battle with the ISP, but mainly due to BT.

We had a BT Install that had the filter int he wrong place, but the main issues have been with line issues, or other BT issues, I have to add most of these occurred after most of the exchanges in Plymouth were upgraded to BT's 21CN platform. We ourselves have had an ongoing fight for 10 months, other have faired better. But int he main if I had to award a technology villain of the year it would have to go to BT. Please BT in the new year will you take note that customers do have issues and mainly these issues are with your network and not their router or extension cable. And when you run one of your tests and it doesn't run due to a complete lack of bandwidth their is an issue, and the issue is with you.

Enough of that rant, the I-phone has grown in stature and with the host of apps is probably my recommendation for a smart phone for businesses.

Microsoft released Windows 7, and should have a raft of releases in 2010 scheduled. It was a pretty flat year for releases with manufacturers perhaps holding back until people have money to spend, but this has to change next year! (look for announcements by Google and Apple in January)

Looking forward, Plymouth has some major plans ahead this summer will see FIFA visit the city to select the venues for the 2018 World cup bid, I'm sure we will all blow them away. then we just have to wait til December for the announcement of who will get the World Cup. One unusual hero in technology in the city has been the chamber of commerce. Hopefully we will start to see the plans they have produced start to come true. We may well See H2O move into the city to provide fast (and i do mean fast, faster than we currently have) Broadband to the city, by laying fibre to premises using existing conduit (Mainly the sewer system). This will help move Plymouth ahead, and may help force BT to improve the plans for Fibre to the Cabinet in the City!

Well this is my last blog post of the year. Hopefully I will post even more next year, but you can follow the day to day ramblings on twitter - www.twitter.com/limbtec

Thursday, December 03, 2009

BT Update

Well, my customer is off line again, despite the promise this morning of someone calling before an engineer would turn up. The engineer turned up, and a massive surprise he can't get sync. Good job I diagnosed this on Monday.

Now he believes they have misconfigured the line.

So many issues, and yet they can't seem to just sort it our

BT & the Internet

Just to follow on from the previous post.

So yesterday out of the blue the customers Broadband started working! Yes after 2 days BT had indeed found a fault, and had carried out a tie pair modification to get things working again.

Today we visited the site to change the router back over to their router, from our spare one we carry just in case.

Nothing, no sync, no connection nothing, we tried the spare nothing, and just to make sure we tried a brand new router. Nothing, then we changed the filter and tried again, nothing.

The customer phoned BT Broadband, and as soon as they gave their details the broadband suddenly connected (now I'm sure this is a coincidence?), The customer was told yet again, nothing is wrong with the line it mus be your equipment, at which point I managed to get in on the act. When pointing out that there is nothing else connected to the=is master socket other than an ADSL Filter, and connected to that is a broadband router, of which we have tried 6 combinations and not 1 of them was a winner. They finally conceded we need to run more tests, at which point the broadband died and didn't return.

Now if you can take off the faceplate of the master socket and plug it into the test socket we can run more tests. To be fair this did spark a connection, and Internet connectivity was re-established. Then I got the story if we send an engineer out and they find a fault with your equipment we will charge you- er hello nothing wrong with the equipment, but there is with yours.

BT you need to start some good engineering in fault rectification, honestly, work done at the exchange fixed the issue, for some 20 hours, so it is logical that the fault is with the customer.
This is like have your exhaust replaced, and when you get in start the car up it rattles. It is so obviously the fault of the driver for starting the car. The BT question in this case would be 'have you tried a different key, or a different driver'

Then we got on to question of Broadband faults and engineers just turning up un announced. This DOES NOT HAPPEN' Really I know of 2 cases in the past week alone, you even get a call when you have your shopping delivered by some supermarkets?

BT Broadband, and BT Broadband WholeSale, and of course BT Openreach. You need to raise your game in customer service. If the customer is seeing a fault, and it was working fine, and they have tried a filter change and a different router YOU have an issue. You need to get it resolved, if that customer is a business, specially a micro or small business this is likely to critical to that customer. They are likely to be losing money.

Customer stay calm, and keep contacting them. It may take months, but they will eventually find the faults and fix them.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

All things Internet

It's been a shambles in Plymouth recently.

Yesterday there were massive issues for Virgin Telecom customers in the city. Apparently the power was being taken off of exchange, and was going to be supplied by a diesel generator. However when the power was taken off the generator packed in. I have to ask would you rely on 1 generator to provide the power. I wonder if that generator is their backup generator, just in case they have a power failure! If it is then I would worry about being a Virgin telecom customer!

BT and Broadband, now this is the BT Broadband Wholesale and BT Openreach people. In February this year my Broadband was moved from the old 20CN system to the new 21CN system. With a pile of issues, I have Broadband since 2000, was 1 of the first to connect to it on my Exchange, and have a rock solid connection at ever increasing speeds. Finaaly reaching between 6 - 7.5Mbs. Then it was all moved, and ever since I have endless outages, and speed issues, resulting in my best speed last week of about 2 Mbs.

BT Broadband Wholesale couldn't find a problem on my line, it was working and because it had been connected for over 7 days there couldn't possibly be anything wrong with it? However as i pointed out, it is pointless being connected if you have no throughput, which actually happened more times than I could handle. Eventually, they ran some test and found I had an high voltage on my line, and a cross connection with someone else.

I have spent 10 months trying to get this resolved, I am now up to a blistering fast 5 Mbs still slower than I had, but at least for the last 3 days I have had a useable connection.

Yesterday I had a call from a customer who had lost there broadband, they described the lights on the router, and it obvious they didn't have an ADSL Sync light. It transpired they were moving their telephone lines back to BT, and as a thank you BT have cut their Broadband off! That was 20 hours ago, they still have no broadband this is going to cost the customer thousands of pounds their whole business is based on the internet. This sort of issue is just NOT acceptable.

A couple of weeks ago, I went ot a presentation given by the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, about connectivity. They have come up with a wonderful plan, and I personall hope the H20 (A company who run fast internet connectivity through the sewer system) do actually invest in Plymouth.

It would give another option to businesses in the city, and would enable customers to have a fail over system.

What we will be recommending to all customers, whose business is reliant on the internet is to have multiple providers and to utalise that, with a router, able to both bond the connections to give faster speed, and also able to failover to a single broadband connection.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pirates everywhere

Pirated software

We as a business loss £1000's of income every year because people use pirated software.
Now apart from it being illegal, there are reasons why you may want to spend a little.

With Pirated software you don't get any support, when it goes wrong you have to sort it out yourself. If you aren't able to or get it wrong you could end up with a box of bits, and some software on it!

We had a call recently from someone who had got hold of a Windows 7 Disc, and installed it. However he had lost everything. During the discussion about what had happened, he stated he had been passed the disc by someone, and theirs had all gone through OK!

Now we have only done 1 job for the customer and his PC is about 5-7 years old. And from memory not that powerfully equipped.

He tried to do an in place upgrade, that having failed, and phoning his Friends he then did a fresh install, reformatted the drive, and then lost all of his data. When I said he was looking at a data recovery job, and that I couldn't say how much of his data we could recover, he decided he would go away and try to reinstall the software again.

Even ignored the warning this would destroy more data??

So you can advise customers, about what they should do, but you can't make them take the advice. This has been a constant theme recently. For us it means eventually the customer will realise they are wrong and then we have to sort the issue out. But if you want advice, actually take the advice and do something about it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Busy day

Another busy day

Been to lots of customers this morning, I always enjoy spending time with customers and understanding where they are going with their businesses.

This afternoon was fun, or should that be funny. I went to a seminar about the changes to Company Law that came into effect on the 1st October. You have to stay up to date.

Finished that and now supporting a customer in Portugal, technology is wonderful, if used properly.

Windows 7

So it is here!

Windows 7 is here and yesterday we had endless emails regarding should I upgrade, what will I get?

So the marketing machine of Microsoft has finally got it self together and has produced a good marketing campaign for the Launch of Windows 7.

Some people, who shunned Vista, not because it wasn't any good or it didn't work, but because it was different to XP are going to concerned. The User Interface (UI) is obviously been tweaked from Vista, we would recommend that you get to grips with this UI as it isn't going to go back to the XP interface, which lets face it is the same as it was in Windows 95, and well past a make over. It works better with newer hardware in particular with the search functionality and the use of Hard Drives which may well be a terabyte or larger in size.

Our Recommendation is to get some training in how to use it.

One comment we have heard from people who did make the move to Vista is "We found nothing wrong with Vista as such – but absolutely nothing beneficial about it either" Please remember Windows is the Operating System it's job is to allow you to use the programs and access features to allow you to actually do the work.

Under the Hood

OK there are some good features under the hood, with the above now published, some of these new features just won't be found the home group could be a very good feature if you take your laptop home from work, it is a feature that has been mentioned to me from a customer who got his hands on a Release Candidate version of 7

All being well, and software running on it , our recommendation will be the same as it was to Vista, the changes from XP to Vista will only be built on. Likewise the changes from Vista to 7 will only be built on, keep on saying XP is the platform for me, will mean you end up with something to old to repair, and use effectively.

From the real world

For those who followed our experience of using 7 in the real world when Microsoft released it to partners, was far from inspiring. For the first week the systems would crash 2-3 times a day.
During the weekend, and just as we were going to uninstall it we had a whole stack of Windows Updates.
I took the decision to run it for another week, and it has been running ever since (Literally, I think I have turned it off once).

It works, it hasn't altered anything really we were running Vista before.

The last word is a warning don't forget if you are administering a WSUS installation then go and add Windows 7 to the products so you have the updates.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A week to catch up

We have finally caught up with all the work we have had in, over the last coupe of months.
Just 1 Laptop screen to be done, unfortunately there seems to be a lack of this size screen around at the moment, so I guess we will have to wait until next week.

Time to catch up on things in the business, We have a meeting tomorrow with a provider of backup services so we may well be able to offer even better prices on our online back up solution.

What do you look for in Anti-Virus Solutions, looking at a couple of new platforms, 1 of them uses 2 different scanning engines. Giving you double protection.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Been a while

Well it's been over a month since our last post, as we have been very busy, but have still managed to find time to post on twitter. Well lots been going on.

Laptop Repairs
We have been doing lots of laptop repairs including screen replacements, and replacement DC Jacks. We have also been told by our screen supplier that the prices will be rising, and they are already on the way up, an 8.9" screen we did recently had increased by over £15!

Data Recoveries
Also doing a lot of data recoveries, both physical, and logical. It is always better to have a copy of your data, than relying on it being recoverable. It might just no be recoverable.

Business Support Contracts
This has been growing rapidly, with a whole lot of new business support customers.

Coming Soon
Microsoft will be launching Windows 7 on us next week (22/10/09) We have been running it on some of our desktops for a month for so now. It was a little bit difficult to begin with, as we had issues with some of the drivers, but the platform has been stable for about 3 weeks now.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The last post was not strictly true

The last post was not strictly true, it wasn't a busy week, the week was bonkers.

Laptop Screens - we ended up repairing about 10 laptops.
Top Tips on looking after your screens
  1. These are fragile items, so don't pick your laptop up by the screen, the weight of the laptop maybe enough to break the screen.
  2. Don't leave it lying around someone will either standa on it or drop somethign on it, and again this will break the screen
  3. Don't hit it in rage, this will break the screen
  4. Do clean it with a wipe.
  5. Do use a proper laptop case to keep it in - these normally provide some protection.

If it does break, you are going to have to have it replaced, although normally covered on insurance it may not be worth claiming, a 14.4" Wide Screen will cost you £120 from us, that is fully fitted and includes the VAT. Smaller screens (Netbooks) will cost from £70, larger screens upto £170.

Also had to deal with the normal, day to day management of our business customers, along with some replacement motherboards.

NEXT WEEK

I think I want to have a quiet week next week, but the truth is we already have a lot of work booked in, and this will grow throughout the week, still hopefully we should get the Job Ad placed next week for an IT Technician to join the team.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Busy Week Ahead

Well another busy week ahead, I hate bank holidays, we always end up having to squeeze 5 days work into 4!

Lots of feed back from Twitter, after SparksyOnRadio mentioned us on the Plymouth Breakfast show last week. Although people are now asking when are we going to be on TV.

Tomorrow, is going to be busy, machines that have been repaired Friday/Saturday to be returned, Ebay items to be dispatched, and a job for a webdesigner in setting up their clients email account.

All that along with the normal day to day stuff. Also Considering having to put up our prices for site visits, this is because of the governments rise of duty on fuel, another 2p along with the increase in VAT on the 1st January.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Another Late Night

Another late night last night, had to resolve an issue with a customers server, where the password complexity rules had been changed. On top of that we also had to install WSUS on this server.

For those who don't know WSUS, enables you to control the windows updates from your server. We have finished the download, and have approved some of the updates, but not all. Looks like my wish to have an extended break this weekend is disappearing.

We also picked up a few machines yesterday that were infested with viruses one of them wouldn't even boot up because of this. If the cost of a good anti-virus programme is putting you off don't let it. It is going to cost them more than that to have it cleaned and to stop it happening again it will need to have a AV product installed.

Got a couple of repairs to pick up this morning, and then a router swap out to do. Hopefully finish early this afternoon, and get these machines sorted tomorrow. Leaving Sunday and Monday free.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More Busy Days

Site Survey Completed, start work at new customers site on Friday, get the issues resolved. And ahve another HAPPY Customer.

Also Completed the Logical Data Recovery last night, recovered the 60Gb of data that had been deleted. More intriguing is why this happened in the first place. The customer was cleaning up the hard drive using the windows tools. However the laptop had, had windows reinstalled by another Computer repair provider in Plymouth. Now instead of carrying out a windows repair they had reinstalled windows, and had left all of the users data in the old folder. Windows believing the 'Windows.old' folder was surplus to requirements just deleted it.

Although we can't name the company in question we probably get at least 2-4 machines in every month after they have had their hands on it, and caused a whole lot of issues.

Essentially another site survey to complete today, as we carry out a pre-installation checks for a customer who is getting a new Line of Business App installed in the next month or so. And some more pick ups.

Will try and get the last couple of pages uploaded for our web hosting customer. Kind of chuffed at last after many years of trying have managed to blog in consecutive days.

Friday Morning is looking busy, but hopefully we should complete this weeks work by early afternoon, and then going to try and take some time off during the long weekend.

May try on Sunday to rebuild our on line shop.!! Keep you posted here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What a Busy Week - So Far!!!!

Well, I was hoping we would have a quiet week going into the Bank Holiday weekend!

Plans don't always go to plan, but it's been well worth it to date.

SO what have we been doing
  1. Updating a customers website - We used to carry out web design and still host websites. We still have a couple of customers, who we look after their websites. They have been busy creating and updating pages. SO these have all (well almost been done)
  2. Updating the lock out policy for a customer, You can control when your screen saver kicks in from Group Policy, unfortunately, that means if the policy changes we have to update it.
  3. A customer who is rushing through changes to a Line of Business Application, means we have been ensuring everything is set up correctly and have some work to do to make sure this all runs smoothly.
  4. The issue with a clients Internet connection look like it is fixed, we were out there yesterday. They get 4Mb and 600Kb which is twice the speed they used to get, and somewhere about 8 times more than they had during the last few months. This goes to prove that you need to keep on at your ISP to get the best, the ISP in question said it was there equipment at fault!
  5. Answering questions on Office,how do I password protect a document, how do I do this in Excel. Mostly with customer who have now got Office 2007, and can't use the Ribbon interface.

And today off to carry out a site survey at a new customers site.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Busy Week

Well, we had a very busy week last week.

Still working away at the Insurance quotes, but looking forward to a week of our core work. Working with small businesses to get them using IT and Technology in a suitable manner and giving them an advantage.

We have just completed a server rebuild we did last year. OK it seems a long time, but this customer has an SBS server, and weren't using the Exchange part of it at all. However we did the change over yesterday morning, and that has all gone smoothly, today I have installed Blackberry Professional Software for the 1 Blackberry they have in the business. Which will shortly be getting replaced by an I-Phone.

All that is left is to move their current messages into their exchange profiles. The reason I left this til last, they are currently on a hosted Exchange solution, and so just to make sure they don't lose any emails we have left it until tomorrow morning.

They have been thinking about Swine Flu, and moving everything on to their box, they can all work remotely should the need arise.

A few upgrades, and a network install for a Small Business to do next week. Bound to be more coming in during the week.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is it the weather

Well, as we have now had the long term weather forecast, re-forecast for the worse! I am left wondering if our sudden increase in work load, is down to the fact people aren't going on holiday, so may as well get the computer sorted!

Macs

Not so smug mac users, in the last week or so we have been inundated with broken I-macs, ranging from faulty Logic Boards (mother, or Main Board for those PC Users), through to faulty WiFi connectors (Airport to Mac Users), to breaks in the case!

Laptops

A complete range of issues with laptops, and most of the owners are looking to get a replacement on the insurance. We have had drinks spilt in them through to laptops being pulled of of furniture.

Networks

An ever increasing number of enquiries about our business support, and network support services, good news all round.

Most of this is down to people being able to find us, and the reason for this is that we have kept up our spend on advertising.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sky News Article

So a slow news day today! well on Sky at least as the top story is about dodgy computer repair shops!

Having read the article and the comments, it looks likely it is going to be a tough summer.

OK, facts

Yes what went on in the clip is totally wrong, but they only reported that 5 out of 6 didn't get find the fault, and then centred on the really bad case. Did either of the other 4 either try and charge for parts not required or access the private data (except for if needed to find the fault) and bearing in mind with the memory missing they wouldn't be able to boot the machine up.

Reading some of the comments like remove your hard drive prior to taking it in for repair, well what if the issue is down to the driver, which of course is located on the hard drive. A part (say the sound won't work) without being able to check the driver we could check the generic driver from our diagnostic software, if that works, we have to sign the job of as complete. Customer picks it up, still no sound, have we failed in this. No of course not we have checked and can't find a fault, the fault has been removed.

We had a case like this recently, we were informed the hard drive was failing, we took the drive out, and it powered up. We then cloned the drive before carrying out any other work. This way if the drive was failing we could restore the whole system. Finished the clone, plugged in the hard drive nothing. Further investigation it was due to a faulty memory module. New module inserted system booted, clone drive destroyed so no data on it.

Customer charged for the memory and the time taken to repair, slightly longer than normal due to the time taken to clone the drive. Customer Happy.

Remember we make a living out of doing these repairs, we are more than happy to look at something, and then give a quote but ultimately we need to be paid.

If you want a trusted computer repair then make sure your chosen company is a member of a Trade Body. We are a member of the newly formed TCA (Technology Channels Association) This was formed from the PCA (PC Association), and the MTA (Mac Technology Association), also ITACS is out there.

We don't carry out in depth repairs in the presence of customers, we do carry out simple repairs in homes and offices. It is all a question of trust. But the best thing you can do if your computer starts playing up is get it looked at by a professional, these are complex machines. A good Computer Technicain can make it look easy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Failurers

It's been a little over 2 weeks since we last posted a blog, but we have been busy.

Having now pretty much caught up and entering our quieter period, now we have time to blog about various things.

Firstly we now have our reduced prices on our Hosted Backup. If you have 1GB of data on a laptop/desktop you are now looking at it costing just £3.40 + VAT per month. As you can see this is now what I will concentrate on for the next 3-4 weeks. And we have a whole host of new products and services to add, and hopefully an updated website, along with a new shop!

Just recently, in the last couple of weeks we have had an increase in people wanting new life breathed into old slow computers. Amazing how many registry faults can be found. We do, a yearly health check at £40, on top of just getting you machine cleaned from a software point of view we also carry out a full hardware clean, all in a single day, with pick up and drop off included in the price.

Well that is about all for today.

Monday, July 06, 2009

What a couple of weeks!

Well in the last couple of weeks, we have completed the EPoS installation. We have also been negotiating with our Hosted Backup supplier so we can offer a better price to our customers. The prices have been announced to our customers, our website will be updated later in the month as the prices come into affect in August.

We currently have a whole lot of quotes out for new systems, and system upgrades, along with repairs.

Along with getting systems to work the way they should, from Windows, Macs, and a couple of Linux systems.

We are also moving along with some other plans, as always we will announce that through our Blog.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Technology & Politics

So here in Plymouth we have a hot debate going on about the use of Social Media, and directly twitter?

Why should the council block our elected representative from posting their thoughts and ideas, to those of us who voted for them. I read the original comment from the councillor who posted it, and instantly knew something would happen as a result. It was too close to the knuckle! But it was clear what the message really meant.

This week we had an article in the Plymouth Herald from a councillor as why Aussie soaps are bad for teenagers, in glamorising Teen sex and pregnancies. You should read some of the reply messages from the public.

This just goes to show it isn't the delivery media that is to blame, but the elected officials need to learn how to present to the media, and now how to get your point across in only a handful of characters.

Most of the posts from the person who kicked this off, comes from his phone/device, a lot of them when he is travelling, so a global ban isn't going to work. It is about time our Civil Servants and elected officials start to tell us the general public what is going on. And in what ever manor is suitable

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Extra Tax to have a phone line

So the UK Government announced a plan yesterday to charge an extra tax to have a phone line, to help cover the cost of the move over to fibre. This is to enable the 15% of the population who can't get over 2Mbps, and to move us up the League table (we are currently 7th) and to get to the top we need to get 100Mbps to the majority of the population. And simply with this plan it isn't going to happen!

Some of this money is also going to help fund regional news programmes on the Commercial Channel, and to my mind the key word here is Commercial, if it isn't commercially viable then it can't be run as a commercial concern and should be run as not for porfit community interest companies.

For me I will in the coming months look at what we have both personally and commercially in the way of phone lines, and we will reduce these lines by about 50%, I would urge everyone home users. or businesses to consider the line you have, and consider using the very thing that this is designed to improve, your broadband connection and use VoIP (Voice over IP)

Certainly the days of homes getting extra lines installed, just to have more than 1 phone line due to kids usign are gone. And remember this tax will be here to stay.

Personally I would perfer for the backbone to sold off from BT and sold to a commercial company to be run as a commercial concern, this may mean a slight increase in Broadband charges, but then at least those of us who use the net to extremes will be paying for it instead of evreyone paying for it regardless of your internet usage.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I told you so

I hate to ba an I told you so, but it appears that I was right at the start of the year that a platform that would see a rise in attack profile, would be the Mac.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8096822.stm item about the latest threat.

Don't leave it to chance, if you have a mac you are at risk, get some protection on it, and do it today.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Updates

Firstly, it seems Microsoft has finally got round to sorting some of their security holes. On Tuesday MS released 10 new security patches for Office, Internet Explorer, and Operating systems.
Whist mentioning Operating Systems, Apple will release it next version (Snow Leopard) in September, the month before Microsoft's release of Windows 7.

We have been busy as well, our hosted email can now be on Exchange 2007, and we can offer a reduction if you already have an Outlook License. We are now also partners of WASP, and can provide a range of systems to scan items including EPOS.

We are also working on a new website for a local Cricket Club, which we hope to have up and running soon.

Friday, June 05, 2009

PC World Update

Well, after seeking legal advice! I went into the store yesterday and spoke to a Manager, who was really responsive, and should by now have spoken to most members of staff.

I hope this draws a line under the whole episode, and we can move on to it.

I will start to build a new Joomla based site this weekend for a local Cricket Club, so something to look forward too.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Busy couple of weeks

It's been a few busy couple of weeks.
Been doing data recovery, System repairs, Virus removals, and busy talking to a few businesses about taking out a monitoring and support contract.

The down side has been that PC World are continuing to tell people we are bust and gone. This leaves me with no option but to speak to our solicitor tomorrow, and try and get something sorted to prevent this immediately.

Any other IT providers near a PC World store need to keep an eye out as I believe this may be a way of them to try and get market segment from us smaller guys.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dirty tricks

We all know that being in Business at the moment is like riding a roller coaster without the safety harness. But a certain National chain of PC shops, is stooping to an all time low.

Yesterday a friend of mine who runs an IT Company over heard somebody in the Business Centre saying that Limbtec had gone bust, and a lot of our customers had been in their in the last couple of days.

Firstly most of my customers wouldn't be seen dead in this store, but for them to just mention this regardless is just sickening. And until I can identify the person they can't do anything.

Well I can, I can and will, and am going public on this. However for our customers and anyone looking for quality IT in and around Plymouth we are open for business, and are doing OK at the moment, (Looking at having one of our best ever months).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Email

Email is a critical form of communication for businesses.

However Email is not a guaranteed form of communication!

Just because you send an email and it departs your inbox, it doesn't mean it is going to be delivered to the intended recipient. We are spending ages working for customers who want to make sure the email turns up.

But think about the pat the email takes, it may only take seconds or minutes, but it is a complex path.

  1. You type your email, and hit send
  2. it gets sent to your email server
  3. the server then checks where it has to go and sends it
  4. it wonders through the web to get to the recipients domain server.
  5. the recipients email server then checks who it is for, and sticks it in the correct mailbox

Now where could it go wrong? simply at every stage.

And something we have noticed recently even if the recipient receives the email, it doesn't mean they are going to get it all. We send out all out invoices as PDF's attached to an email.

All our emails are received but a couple of our regular customers either don't receive the PDF or they can't open the PDF. No reason why, but they can't and so for those customers we either have to resend it, separately from the accounts package, or stick the invoice in the post.

A lot of the issues are almost certainly down to packages to try to stop SPAM, finally I will leave you with one piece of advice.

If it is an important email, send it but follow it up with a phone call to make sure it has been received.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Technorati

Technorati Profile

A Busy Month

April was a busy month. We were busy with all sorts of issues.
we have been replacing laptop screens at the rate of about 2 a week, and it is amazing what hits these to cause them to break! Our recommendation is if you aren't using your laptop close the lid, and place the laptop out of the reach of Children and animals. This should help you save around £100. Yes it is repairable, and the price comes in around £100 depending on Screen size.

A network install, which still isn't complete. BT are such a pain it is about time that BT Realise how important a Broadband connection is to business. It is no longer a nice to have, in business it is essential.

A high number of Hard Drive failurers, a stunning amount of drive failurers. Whilst these will happen make sure you have your data backed up, being able to restore your data makes the whole process so much less painful.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Twitter & Breaking News

So I am sat in my office this morning, catching up on my emails, listening to the news. All the news is bad and gloomy, news about the Dunfermline Building Society. The environment agency saying we should all have water meters as there is a shortage of water in the south east.

Checking twitscoop and found out that Sydney has had a big Blackout, and that Zombies had ruled. Always one to check the facts looked at some news sites from Sydney http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25264213-5006784,00.html gave other ways that Twitter was being used in this chaos.

Last time I was impressed by technology being used like this was a device called Blackberry, during the 9/11 attacks. I was still working for an Internet service provider, and we were struggling to keep any bandwidth available as everyone was logging on to find out what was going on. I had several contacts working in and around the World Trade Centre at the time, and afterwards they all reported on this new device that had in most cases continued to work whilst phones were just not able to connect.

Blackberries have obviously become a main stay not only of business but also making inroads into personal use.

Will Twitter be used so widely even in 5 years time? I doubt it but it is a wonderful tool, and one which you need to use to get to grips with.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mac Security

Well, for those who have spoken to me in the last 4 months, I keep stating that the mass of macs out there is leading up to an attack in some way. Normally followed by 'we use a mac we are secure'

Well try reading this blog post

Really, Macs are able to be breached. The time is nigh, honestly soon there will be an attack, or an outbreak that will hit the mac community. The point raised (the reason why Macs haven't been attacked is it just isn't worth it due to market share) in the article above are still valid but only just.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Xobni

This is an add-in to Outlook (2003 & 2007) which makes the information within outlook that much more valuable. Even if you use it just to search your emails, you will see that it is faster and more useful (IMHO) than the outlook search.
It also provides a wealth of stats, the website calls it Email analytics giving you graphs, ranking, and statistics detailing how you and your contact use emails.
You can also navigate your email by people, and by doing this you can discover who your contacts know. This is such a useful feature as you can easily find someone who knows a way in to a business you may be trying to target.
You can schedule appointments, by 1 click, and view your emails as a threaded conversation, enabling you to read your emails in context.
You can view the attachments that have been sent. All contact details can be viewed in the side bar, and it also integrates with Linkedin and Facebook. Along with connections to Skype, and Yahoo Mail accounts.
Bill gates said it is the must have add in to outlook, and I say it is the way email should be.
It also connects into your Linkin account and Facebook, as well as Skype and you Yahoo Mail account.
If you want to make sense of your email go to www.xobni.com and download and install this software

Saturday, February 14, 2009

EFS

Watch out what you do with EFS, we have just completed un-encrypting a small businesses data, after the keys were lost, due to a virus.

Be warned as not every de-cryptions work, we had access to everything we needed, and only failed to decrypt 1 file.

If you do use it, export your keys so you can always use them to recover your data.

Friday, February 13, 2009

BT

Why oh Why are BT so useless???

This week our telephone exchange (for our home phone) was upgraded from 20CN to the new 21CN (This is the new backbone of the BT infrastructure). This went really well for most of our customers, but our line took 24 hours to migrate, and then when it was complete our Broadband still didn't work. They (BT) sent out a phone engineer who tested the line, and yes the phone worked. (We knew this) what I wanted was to get my Broadband working. I needed a Broadband Engineer! We phoned up the wholesaler who said they would pass our message on as it was obvious that the splitter at the exchange had failed, it was either that or that our filter had failed in the house (Something we had tested).
Once this was passed on, the fault was fixed, we are now on the new network. Now all I have to do is summons up the courage to move from ADSL to ADSL 2. To see what speed we can get out of the line.

But please BT so often you send out the wrong type of engineer, train up more Broadband engineers.

DO Apple Macs ever need repairing

Do Macs ever need repairing? Well with the way Apple patrol Google Adwords, then no they don't. I can't display an ad which states the truth that We repair Mac's.
As our Blog is on Blogger I suspect Google may withdraw this as well. But come on Apple, we look after many Macs, and have a speciality of getting them to work on Windows networks.

We are good at this, we are members of the Mac Technology Association. We care for the use of Mac's.

Why can't I use the term???

It maybe a trade mark, I'm not saying we are mac, or implying anything other than from time to time Mac's may need to be repaired or updated, or maybe just integrated with the windows devices that are around. Let us advertise what we do, and Apple your machines do from time to time need sorting out.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nasty Worm

We have spent the vast majority of the last ten days cleaning up computers, from worm and viruses. Some have been the worm mentioned in the title above, linked from the BBC.

Simple steps to keep your computer secure.
  1. Ensure you patch your software, not only the Microsoft ones, but from any vendor.
  2. Make sure you have security software installed
  3. Make sure this software is up to date
  4. Ensure you carry out a full scan at least once a week
  5. Make sure your firewall is configured correctly and turned on

This will make it harder for any attack, What we find is often these threats come in through a Peer 2 Peer product (such as Limewire).

We are aiming to blog twice a week from now on, hopefully on Wednesday, and Sunday. But then again