What to do when your telecoms supplier tells you “sorry, you’re still in contract” header

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Category: Broadband, Business, Customer Service.

How many bosses get told “sorry, you are still in contract” when querying their telecoms supplier. But are you really and do you have any options to get out of it?

If you are not sure whether you are in contract or not with your telecoms supplier, or you’d like some tips to help protect yourself before signing any new deals – here is a guide.

There is an onus on the telecoms supplier to prove the contract end dates. Just because the system says so does not mean it is correct. There could be data entry errors, or it could be deliberately misleading you. Reasonable proof would be a call recording or a copy of the original signed document or e-contract.

If your telecoms supplier refuses to provide that then it probably has something to hide.

There are a number of rules laid down by Ofcom to protect consumers and businesses with less than ten employees. This should be higher – how many 11 person businesses employ a qualified contracts person or company lawyer? The protection bans automatic rollover of contracts and provides the customer the ability to cancel contracts because of prices rises and/or failures to offer promised broadband speeds.

But some suppliers will try to find ways round these protections. On automatic rollovers some contracts say “tick this box to keep tariffs after contract end date”. There is no mention that by ticking this box you are agreeing to an automatic renewal. But that’s exactly what you are doing – you are renewing for that same term again. Effectively the telecoms supplier is getting you to waive your rights by ticking the box.

Others obscure price rises by only publishing it on the website or hiding it in the small print on invoices. Ofcom has ruled that you can opt out of a contract if the price rises – as long as you give notice within 30 days of being told. Therefore, if you miss the notification you miss the chance to cancel.

There are other some other tricks to watch out for including:

– Automatically restarting your contract if you change or add something;
– Adding new services that have their own contract so end dates never align, meaning cancellation is almost impossible as you’ll never be out of contract on all your services at the same time;
– Having different terms for each element of the contract. For example, having calls for two years and in small print the lines are for five years;
– Changing the Terms and Conditions – but only stating this on the website;
– False inducements to purchase – for example ‘we promise to save you money’ but when you get your invoices there is no saving.

Also, check your notice period. Whilst they may not be as difficult as “only on the third Thursday before Pentecost” there can be great variations from 30 days to six months. The worst we have seen is one requiring three years’ notice! And look at the penalties you may have to pay if you cancel early. If the company has given you a free installation in return for a three-year contract and you cancel after one year then it is perfectly reasonable to ask you pay for the installation. Again, small businesses are protected by Ofcom rules on the calculation of penalties but many a telecoms supplier ignores these and rely on ignorance. So how can you protect yourself and reduce the risks?

1) Check if the supplier is signed up to the telecoms ombudsman as that offers free binding arbitration to consumers and small businesses if there is a dispute. Obviously if you have real doubts then consult a lawyer it could save you money in the long run.

2) Send an email listing your understanding of contract and ask them to confirm that in a conflict between their T&Cs and the email – the email takes precedence and only on that basis are you accepting contract. Within the email you could include:

– Contract duration and notice period;
– That prices are fixed for duration – any changes gives you freedom to cancel without penalty whenever it is spotted;
– Only the charges specified in the contract may be levied – this stops hidden costs such as call set up fees and likewise any changes in T&Cs;
– Repeat any claims made (e.g. you will save money) and state that they are a condition of the contract and if they fail to meet these then the contract is null and void;
– The contract will not rollover at the end of the term without your explicit prior consent.

How many people have ever compared their bill to the prices in the contract? The longer you are asked to commit for the contract the more closely to should read the small print. Some suppliers promise to pay any penalties you may incur by switching but then fail to follow through. If you are offered this incentive, do make sure you get it in writing. State clearly that any failure to do so will make your contract with them null and void.

In conclusion, it is fair to say many of these points could apply to a range of services, not just telecoms, but a telecoms supplier is guilty of often seeking to bamboozle customers with jargon. It relies on people not spotting things, and then being unwilling to challenge. And for those who do challenge – then the supplier will draw out the process for as long as possible. So, be aware of what you are sighing up to, what your rights are, keep an eye on your bills and be ready to challenge your supplier if you spot any changes, inconsistencies, or failures.

Article from Real Business, SME website dedicated to high growth businesses and entrepreneurs www.realbusiness.co.uk

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Category: IT News, IT Processes.

Is your business no longer as profitable as it used to be? Recheck your ongoing operational costs. The reason behind wasting money when it comes to business usually refers to how much money you spend on different processes.

At the same time, generating revenue slower will have a visible impact on your budget at the end of the month. Resources are expensive, especially in a world where everything goes online, and businesses are dependent on the IT environment. Streamlining processes and automation are also the main goals of any business that wants to maximize its productivity.

This is where business integration steps in. Not everyone can understand how coding works, or how complex programs and applications make things happen. In reality, business owners look for friendly, time-saving ways of integrating data from multiple sources that could help them manage their companies better.

Deep technical knowledge is not accessible to all business owners and therefore B2B integration and app-to-app connections represent the focal point of the year. Without an in-depth view of everything that’s related to the business integration process, your company might lose some ground on the market.

Here’s what you need to know:

B2B
So, what is business-to-business integration after all? Through B2B integration, your company will enjoy the beneficial effects of workflow automation. Running data flows are much easier to manage when they’re completely automated.

Think of the possible human errors that can occur when large amounts of data are handled manually. B2B integration can help any business owner save a lot of time by letting him use task managers. Everyone knows how difficult setting priorities and following due dates is.

Once you get your business fully integrated, you can finally say goodbye to that issue. Monitoring and tracking your business activity is also a benefit of B2B integration. You can see in real time when tasks are completed. Thus, you proactively work for increasing your business’ profitability.

Approaches in the digital age
Modern marketing is entirely based on the digital environment. That is the easiest way to reach people and make them buy your products. But what it has to do with B2B integration? Well, marketers should start investing more in online practices rather than offline ones because of the target audience they can reach.

Putting B2B integration above all else could be the answer to every question you may have. Such a decision could propel your business to the top. Email, mobile marketing, social media, custom content – these are all digital marketing practices that work hand in hand with B2B integration.

What about data?
Data algorithms and analytics are too difficult for you to handle? Business integration can take care of that as well. Mathematical formulas, never-ending code lines, and statistical processes might be too much for a non-technical person.

Luckily, data integration saves you from trouble. Data mapping, transformation, and warehouses will become crystal-clear concepts that you can manage with ease after your own liking. If, before integration, you were scared to even think about big data, now you will enjoy working with it.

Article by The Sociable https://bit.ly/2kE8EVO

Are you using the most efficient IT processes and systems so that your business is generating the greatest revenue possible? Contact The PC Support Group TODAY to see how we can help you with all your IT support.

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Category: IT Security, IT Support.

If you think getting scammed is difficult and your business is immune, think again! Here is how easy it is…

 

1. Create a fake invoice as if you’re a local company and specify the bank details for payment as being that of your murky, nasty little criminal bank account. See an example below.

 

 

2. Get the name and email address of the business owner who is to be your victim

 

3. Get the name and email address of the person who pays the bills in the same business

 

4. Spoof an email so the person who pays the bills thinks the business owner is sending it, it only takes a few minutes to do (click here for instructions) – yes it’s that easy! You can spot fake email addresses like the below, check your previous emails from people and companies to see if they have emailed you before. Your email spam WONT always work.

 

 

5. Type the following:

Hi <name>

Can you pay this invoice for me via BACS ASAP

Thanks

<business owner’s firstname>

 

6. Await payment so you can spend it on your murky, nasty, little criminal low-grade life

 

However, if you’re a criminal reading this you’ll already know how to thieve from people and you’re a disgrace; and if you’re reading this and are a decent hard-working person the motto is that you shouldn’t trust emails unless you can be sure they’re from the person you think they’re from; no matter how real they seem.

The most simple fight against this tactic is to have a solid, well-understood internal business process for making payments that ensure nothing is paid without suitable checks and balances.

 

 

 

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Category: IT Processes, IT Purchasing, IT Support, Uncategorised.

Slow Computer Frustration Fix Warning…Practically your whole business – bar the furniture – is on your computer system these days. So, looking after your business means looking after that system. We’re taking a look here at how we can help you to understand how to do that because, even if you employ an IT Support Manager, you’re going to have to know what to expect from him or her! Are you or your IT Support Manager doing the following things?

KNOW YOUR IT SUPPLIERS – Meet them all to be very clear about what they do for you, how much they’re costing you, and review your reasons for signing them up. Great IT suppliers will bend over backwards to help you make life easier come budget time and will have useful ideas for you. Ask them what they’re best at, what they’re renowned for, and how they’ve helped their most successful clients.   When you have to undertake a special project, knowing who to go to for help will save you time and effort. You can often get some superb ideas from suppliers who’ve dealt with similar projects many times before.

KNOW YOUR SERVICE CONTRACTS – check the contract dates, diarise reviews, and read the summaries. Renegotiating old contracts can find you quick savings, sometimes you’ll even find obsolete services you’re still paying for, and you’ll be able to plan much better for contract renewals or tenders.

PRODUCE A FLOW CHART – This should show how all your IT systems integrate, which systems actually do work together rather than should work together. How do your IT systems fit in with the business goals? Such a flow chart should highlight efficiency improvements to start working on and enhance your ability to spot vulnerabilities and fix problems.

IDENTIFY CRITICAL AREAS – Which systems are most/least critical for business continuity? Checking they are being backed-up is the minimum you should do. Ensure you document recovery processes, times and objectives. Know where to locate your disaster recovery plan! When trouble hits (and it will) you’ll instantly know what to do.

FUTURE FINANCE – Avoid traps like over-ambitious spending and set aside a budget for the IT work inherent in important upcoming changes like office moves, restructuring and acquisitions. Such projects heavily impact IT! IT systems do wear out and become obsolete so account for this too. If you employ an IT Manager or outsource – ensure they are briefed appropriately by the person in charge of finance and consulted for their advice about any such upcoming changes.

PAST EXPENDITURE – review the projects and expenditures you have previously approved (or get your IT Manager to do so) and decide which commitments you want to alter, re-approve, cancel, delay or reprioritise.

MORE THAN ONE PERSON ON YOUR IT TEAM? – You or the IT Manager should meet with each member of your team and ask what they like and hate doing in their job. Gain an idea of their skills and weaknesses. Also ask each member if they have any great ideas, something they feel would transform the business. As a result of this you might decide to make changes to your team, but you don’t want anyone to mess up your plan by suddenly leaving. A lack of development opportunities is the number one cause of staff turnover. Listening to your team members will at least show you what development opportunities are possibilities and those free ideas could be very useful indeed.

PRODUCE AN IT OPERATIONS MANUAL – If you have more than one person looking after your IT this will show how the IT Department functions, including external parties, as well as the disaster recovery plan. Having one in place builds confidence amongst your IT team and the wider organisation.

PLAN – Create a 6-month IT plan. Outline any changes, upgrades, and improvements that you can envisage based on the company’s goals. Share this plan internally, and with your most trusted IT suppliers. The more people who are prepared for your plans, the easier you’ll find those plans to execute. Trusted external suppliers can share their own experiences from other clients, help you avoid pitfalls and help you plan the resources you’ll need to get hold of. This is especially true if you outsource your IT Support.

CONSIDER FULLY OUTSOURCING – If you don’t want to get into funding the cost of an IT Manager AND his or her sickness/holiday cover and all the other inherent staffing issues ….

If you don’t want to carry the entire burden of maintaining IT when you’re also trying to develop your business – lean on a reputable IT support company. That way you’ll have more freedom to bring in more business and work on growth.

By making sure you get the right IT support services to meet your needs, you and your business will benefit.

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Category: Business, Cloud Computing.

As any business owner will know, finding a process that can reduce costs, while increasing productivity, is the holy grail of opportunities. It’s true of any area of business, from transport, to working hours, to buying the milk for the teas and coffees. It’s certainly true when it comes to employing efficient IT services within your company.

So where does today’s topic of conversation, Office 365, and its range of cloud-based services, come in? Is this a sales pitch for an unnecessary service that’s just a repackaging of what you already have? Or is it different? Here at The PC Support Group, we’re constantly looking for ways to improve the services we offer to our clients, so Office 365 makes sense to us because it offers you several key strengths, such as:

 

Less initial cost: you’ll be able to spread your outlay, with no need to invest in additional hardware like local servers, or to pay hundreds up front for Microsoft Office license/s, instead you can get it all online for a manageable monthly amount.

Flexibility of service: it’s much easier to add more or less to your service whenever you need it. Instead of needing to buy additional hardware or software, just increase the allowance on your monthly subscription. It’s also equally simple to reduce the allowance, compared to being left with surplus hardware or software. Very helpful during upsizing/downsizing and seasonal staff changes.

Flexibility of working: each staff member can access all of these services from multiple devices and locations. So whether all your staff are in the same room, or scattered around the globe, they can be equally connected and productive. This includes features like syncing calendars, working on the same document together and the latest video conferencing services through Skype.

Guaranteed updates: when you buy a physical copy of Microsoft Office, you’ll be left having to buy a new copy should a later version come out. With an Office 365 subscription, you’ll always receive the latest version of Office applications as well as any other cloud-based services.

 


What is Office 365 and The Cloud?

In short, making use of cloud systems, moving from on-premise physical storage and software to off-premise online storage and software, is the future. It’s where the majority of files, data and applications will soon be stored and accessed, with the Office 365 cloud services from Microsoft offering a leading option for any business to consider. Office 365 is a subscription service allowing you access to cloud storage (known as One Drive for Business) as well as online use of all the familiar Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint from any device or location.

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It’s estimated that by 2018, over 75% of businesses will be using
cloud storage as their primary source of data management

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By having your key data and applications stored on a centralised online location, backed by Microsoft’s infrastructure, security systems and staff, you’ll be highly protected. Additionally, you can control exactly who has access to each file and level of navigation, meaning you can strategically store certain data for different levels of the workforce. This is great for organisational efficiency and security, with each employee receiving access only to the exact files they need.

 

The key services in the Office 365 package

One Drive for Business – a cloud service for data storage, giving businesses the facility to not only store files, but allocate levels of access for users, with designated rights and privileges. Also provides a platform for collaboration – multiple staff can be working on the same document at the same time.

Microsoft Office applications – the latest version of all the familiar Office software such as Word, Excel & PowerPoint. Instead of buying a Microsoft Office licence for £150-300 to last a few years, you get it as a monthly subscription, giving access on up to five devices per user, including Apple devices.

Skype for Business – Interactive messaging and video conferencing through Skype’s Business edition.

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Microsoft say that over the past five years, Office 365 & cloud services

helped small & medium businesses to reduce their IT workload by 42%

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Additional cloud services available with Office 365

SharePoint – a more advanced document sharing & management system, with document flow and approval, sign-offs and systems. It really aids business processes and can help create entire systems.

Microsoft Azure – gives access to cloud file servers, on a per-second basis, at an increased/decreased server power as and when you need it. Ideal for when you need a lot of processing power.

 

The future of business IT systems

The beauty of Office 365 is you can build the exact package for your needs and the service is fluid enough to change with you with minimal fuss. It makes financial sense, keeps you at the cutting edge, offering elite security and support access. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to commit to moving everything into the cloud. It’s about mixing and matching cloud and on-premise IT to deliver the most effective solution for your business in terms of cost and productivity.

Given the PC Support Group’s key aim of combining business insight with IT knowledge, we’d love to speak to you in more detail to see if Office 365 is the ideal fit. We offer various IT solutions, and by working with a suitable IT partner you’ll be able to create the perfect solution in terms of cost, functionality, flexibility and security. Solutions that help you to move forward significantly as a company.

Please get in touch today if you’d like to know more about how using the Office 365 platform and its cloud-based services could help your business to take the next step in its productivity.

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Category: Data Backup, IT Support.

Backup solutions can vary enormously and it is important to be aware of the consequences of choosing one solution over another. While many services provide excellent protection, some cover just data while others cover entire systems. Some enable faster recovery of your systems in the event of a major problem, while others ensure that your systems are safe from physical risks such as fires, floods or theft.

Data protection policies and legalities also need to be considered as some cloud backup solutions may not be suitable for UK businesses due to where the data is ultimately stored.

Data only or full system backup?

Data only backup

Backing up your data is a great start as it means that if there is a failure within your IT system then your vital, irreplaceable business data such as documents, financial information and emails can be safely recovered.

The disadvantage of only backing up your data is that everything else on your system has to be recreated from scratch – which in the case of a server can take several days.

Read more »

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Category: IT News.

Augmented reality

 

So 2016 is upon us so what exciting tech stuff do we have to look forward to?
1. IT Wearables for business –

Did you add an Apple Watch or a FitBit to your life in 2015?  Which of these do you think was the most successful product of the year?  Well, contrary to predictions, the Apple Watch was lagging behind FitbBit in terms of market share.

The majority of wearables were seen as accessories for fitness enthusiasts, not as essential devices for mainstream consumers.  Not only that but some early developments in the wearables market had limited capability, not to mention questionable accuracy. That led people to question their value and give up on them after only a few weeks of use.

So where is the ‘wearables’ market going in 2016?  Perhaps their best opportunity lies in the business world. Could they, for instance, replace building security cards with a more secure, biometric form of authentication?  Can you imagine them becoming the means to log into your work devices, secure websites, etc. thereby eliminating the need for resetting passwords and possibly increasing security?

Some U.S. businesses are already starting conversations with health-care organisations to collectively track the activity level and health of their employees in order to offer better insurance rates.  Big Brother implications or huge benefit?
Soon, wearable devices may be able to connect directly to the Internet, without needing to tether to a third-party mobile device. This will help set the stage for embeddable wearables, such as Chaotic Moon’s biometric tattoo, or tech tats, which attach to the skin much like a temporary tattoo.

2. Foldable displays –

One exciting development going on right now is the effort to create foldable or bendable displays and it looks like 2016 will be the year when we start to see the first examples available.  Imagine the possibilities for a moment… a tablet that turns into a smartphone, or vice versa? Tantalising possibilities!

The first versions of foldable displays will likely only be able to fold outward because it’s apparently easier to stretch the materials at the fold than it is to squeeze them together, as you would need to do for an inward-folding display.

3. Self-charging phones –

New technologies are enabling phones to charge through wavelengths. Ossia Inc. and Japanese telecom company KDDI Corp have a product called Cota, that will automatically recharge mobile phones at a distance, similar to how WiFi transmitters deliver data from routers to devices.

This follows existing technologies that take advantage of smartphones’ wireless charging standard, known as Qi. The company Qi Wireless, for example, produces pads that charge phones when placed on them.  Ikea recently began selling tables that wirelessly charge phones when the mobile device is placed on the table top.

Other companies, such as Israeli startup StoreDot, are looking to introduce instant charging and longer-lasting batteries. The company is pledging to introduce a battery next year that would charge a smartphone in 60 seconds or less.

4.  Drone technology –

The technology is being tested by many companies including Google and Amazon. Currently there is no permission from Governments to use this technology commercially, especially in built up areas. But clearly for deliveries – whether it is products from Amazon to fertilising crops will the commercial use of drones take a step forward in 2016?

5. Virtual and augmented reality –

Juniper Research predicts that 2016 will be a “watershed year for Virtual Reality”.  We will see the launch of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, the first consumer-level virtual-reality headset that doesn’t require a smartphone.  HTC Corp. and Valve’s Vive VR headset will also hit the market, after the launch was postponed in December when developers experienced a “very, very big technological breakthrough” that made the initial version obsolete.

In addition to the new hardware, 2016 will also see an increased focus on VR content in gaming and entertainment, as well as the development of consumer-level 360-degree cameras for amateur virtual-reality shooting from the likes of GoPro Inc.

Meanwhile, augmented reality may push its way into the workplace.  We could be seeing real-world applications for augmented-reality headsets, such as enhancing a person’s task on the job by interposing digital images like a map or instructions on top of objects in their surrounding environment.

On the other hand, anyone old enough to remember the TV series Tomorrow’s World knows that not everything predicted comes true. But whatever happens it’s sure to be another exciting year in tech!

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Category: Business.

Award winning IT Support

As we all look forward to a prosperous New Year it’s worth taking time to recognise the achievements of 2015 and giving yourself a well-earned pat on the back.

At The PC Support Group we were pleased to win the “Service Provider of the Year” title at the 2015 Network Computing Awards. We’d love to tell you why too – but first of all, let us explain a little about us. There’s a point to this, read on…

• The PC Support Group specialises in providing “corporate quality” IT support to small and medium sized businesses throughout the Northwest of England. We have grown continuously and sustainably for nearly a decade and we now have hundreds of customers from diverse sectors

• We have achieved this success through our unique structure which combines advanced support technology with local, friendly, professional delivery to provide a flexible, high quality service at an affordable price. The unwavering focus of the business is to remove our client’s worries and concerns about their computers and anything that communicates with, runs on, or connects to them

• Our support technology enables us to monitor and manage all our client’s computers simultaneously and proactively work on them preventing problems before they occur – saving time and money. Most problems can be fixed remotely, often within minutes, but we also have engineers based in offices throughout the Northwest ready to visit clients when needed

• We don’t patronise our clients, we work with them to achieve their goals through technology, not despite it. And we don’t try to confuse with technical jargon. Our staff understand people and business, not just technology. The PC Support Group’s unique structure provides our clients with superb support and a level of service that is the envy of the industry

• The PC Support Group is also a member of the Apple Consultants Network and has qualified engineers ready to provide Apple Mac support and assistance with other Apple devices. The sheer scope, scale and quality of our offer to SMEs make us different from the rest. And it makes us the best.

That’s a lot to say – it’s a long marketing message! Certainly too much for Twitter’s meagre word count and anyway, with the information highway being fast and overloaded these days, your target market wants quick soundbites they feel they have the TIME to read! That’s where winning awards comes in and why it’s been so fantastic to win something just about every year.

What better soundbite than “Award-Winning IT Support” to encapsulate what you do and the fact that you’re excellent at it too?

Many of our awards have been won as a result of passing scrutiny by a panel of judges.  For example, being listed in the MSP Top 100 Managed Service Providers in the world, etc.

Those won by vote are just as useful.  We write to all our customers and contacts to tell them we’ve been nominated in the first place (we don’t always find out who has done so) and to ask them to vote. A legitimate reason to drop an e-mail, to remind people who we are and let them know we’re good enough for a nomination which, in itself is something to shout about – and the world of online social media gets to know about it too!

On awards evenings there is plenty to tweet about as the excitement builds but none to over-ride the joy of winning! What a great feeling going up to that stage to collect a smart glass trophy knowing that so many people have believed in your service excellence to vote for you in droves!

Now, if writing to tell everyone we were nominated is a very useful exercise – it can’t top writing again to thank them for voting and helping us win. It can’t top the new tweets, other online social media output, press releases, and a news item by the local chamber – complete with superb photos and, of course, the all-important winners logo. That smart trophy has taken its place with the others we have won down the years, and the logo is a permanent fixture on our website, our e-mails and all our marketing literature.

Indeed, from our latest corporate photos, the one we chose for our Social Media header was one of the team holding aloft all the trophies and certificates we have worked so hard for – from Excellence in Customer Service to being listed in the Top 100 Managed Service Providers in the world. Well, they say a picture paints a thousand words!

As we said earlier, nothing says you’re superb at what you do as quickly and easily as an award and we’re grateful to everyone who ever nominated us, voted for us, or judged us to be so over the years.

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Category: IT News.

women in computingIt seems difficult to imagine now, but women were leaders in computer science for decades – but in 1984 they began to disappear from the field in dramatic numbers. What on earth happened?

Gender stereotyping could well be the answer.

If you’re old enough to remember the very first personal computers, you may recall that they were not much more than toys. Can you remember the marketing too? Almost exclusively aimed at boys and men.

We can’t put ALL the blame on the marketers though, because at around the same time computer geek culture also began to emerge and that led to TV shows, movies, and video games that were, sadly, reaffirming that computers were the domain of the males of our species.

So, it follows that, 1984 saw a generation of students, who could have owned a home computer, entering further education – most of them boys. Researchers had already concluded that parents were much more likely to buy computers for their boys than their girls. Naturally then, many more boys had programming experience to take along to college and university … leaving young women already significantly behind their male peers. Since computers were now pretty much considered the domain of males, young women would often face discouragement from parents, other students, and educational professionals.

This is rather sad since women were very active in the computer science up until this time. Indeed there was a large increase in their numbers between 1970 and 1984 (by which time 37% of computer science degrees were awarded to women). According to the Computing Research Association, that number fell to 12% by 2011.

Listen to “When Women Stopped Coding”, visit http://n.pr/1rOiDB6 a 15 minute podcast that helps us to truly understand what happened during this period. Caitlin Kenney and Steve Henn unravel the mystery of what happened to cause women to drop out of computer science in astounding numbers.

For parents who would like to encourage their Mighty Girls’ interest in technology, early exposure to programming is highly recommended since many children only interact with technology passively. A great way to introduce kids, ages 9 and up, to programming is via new DIY systems that allow you to build real programmable computers on your own such as the “Raspberry Pi Ultimate Set” and “Sparki: The Easy Arduino DIY Robot”

For a wide variety of toys that introduce programming concepts and electronics to kids, check out www.amightygirl.com, particularly: “Wrapped up in Science: Top 40 Science Toys for Mighty Girls”

Little Bits sets are another way to get girls excited about technology — to check out their new “Gizmos and Gadgets Kit,” for ages 10 and up,

To inspire her with many stories of girls and women in technology, visit the amightygirl.com’s “Science & Technology” book section at http://amgrl.co/1Mw9BGB

Included in the selection is a fantastic new picture book about the world’s first computer programmer Ada Lovelace: “Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine,” for ages 5 to 9 at http://www.amightygirl.com/ada-lovelace-thinking-machine

 

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Category: Uncategorised.

web spyingWith the Government trying to push through a law that will force internet service providers such as BT and Virgin to keep a 12 month record of your browsing history, The PC Support Group are here to help you to understand what this means and what you can do to protect your data and your security.

 

What data will be stored?

Every time you visit a website your internet service provider will be forced to keep a log file of the site you visited and when you visited it. Theresa May has said that this is the equivalent of a modern day itemised phone bill. The Data will be stored by your internet service provider. This also applies to mobile devices such as smart phones that browse the web via your mobile network.

 

Why might you want to protect yourself?

As we saw recently, Talk Talk have been the target of a well-publicised cyberattack which resulted in the estimated theft of 4 million users’ personal data. Risks such as this have led some people to feel concerned about data security and that the information that will be stored about them could end up in the wrong hands.

 

What can you do?

Whilst clearing your internet history or using your browser in private mode will help to prevent people who might get onto your computer from seeing which sites you’ve visited, that won’t hide your usage from your ISP. The only way to do that is by using a VPN service.

VPN means ‘Virtual Private Network’ and it’s a way to encrypt all the things that come and go over your internet connection and the other side. A VPN service means that all your internet usage comes and goes via their service, and as it’s encrypted your ISP can’t see where you’re going or what you’re doing.

However it’s important to know the facts and to tread carefully when choosing a VPN provider. For instance, if you choose a UK based service they may also fall within the scope of any new law meaning that they will also need to store your records. Some VPN services are very slow and unreliable and some can prove unsafe. Be aware that if a criminal organisation can entice you to connect via their own VPN they’ve they’ll have access to all the data you’re sending and receiving.

 

For advice and guidance on data security and best practice IT systems for small business, call The PC Support Group on 03300 886 116