Date:

Author

Category: Business, Mobile Computing.

Tablets are all over the news at the moment, whether it be an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asus Eee Pad or anything in between – you have to admit, they are popular. Basically most of them are just mobile phones on steroids – they provide a larger, higher resolution screen which makes things like composing emails and surfing the web much easier. Plus they are portable… very portable. But there is another contender for the portability crown that the Tablet currently holds…the netbook!

For those of you that don’t know, a netbook is basically a small laptop. They usually have a 10.1″ screen instead of the standard 15.4″ screen on a laptop. They run a normal computer operating system like Windows 7 (which means they can do everything your laptop or PC can do) but are they better than a Tablet, let’s discuss…

Read more »

Date:

Author

Category: Business, Data Backup.

I think it’s fair to say that most businesses lock their doors at night to make sure that thieves can’t just walk in and take what they want. Many also have alarm systems and some of these link to CC TVs and even security companies that can be at the premises in minutes.

Most companies also have a number of insurance policies in place to pay out if equipment is stolen or if their premises are damaged, say through fire or flood.

In general, this is all seen as sensible and in the case of some insurance policies it’s viewed as so important that it’s a legal requirement.

To me this seems fairly ironic as all this protection and risk management is not protecting the most valuable asset… the company’s data!

Read more »

Date:

Author

Category: Business, IT Purchasing.

A key part to our IT support at The PC Support Group is total focus on providing high levels of customer service and part of doing this is a policy of recommending Tier 1 suppliers when purchasing hardware. What difference does this make to our customers? Well this is best demonstrated by providing some feedback on my recent experiences.

Typically when purchasing hardware we look at machines from the likes of HP, Compaq, Toshiba, Sony or similar, which in most cases are slightly more expensive than brands like Acer, Mesh, Packard Bell, etc.

As part of a Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 installation there was a requirement for one server whilst another job required a number of high end “gaming” PCs. The Server was purchased from HP and at the request of the customer to save some money, the “gaming” PCs were purchased from one of the 2nd Tier manufacturers.

The HP Server unfortunately failed to power up and after phoning the supplier we were advised to phone HP directly. An HP technician then asked a number of pertinent questions to determine the cause of the failure and diagnosed a faulty power supply. The result – A new power supply was shipped out that day, it arrived the following day along with a return label for the broken unit.

RESULT – A fully functional computer in less than 2 days.

Comparing that with our experience of the Tier 2 supplier. Phone an 0871 premium number, wait up to 10 minutes, speak to someone who is obviously working from a standard script and after 2 days of tests we determine it is the memory. Wait four days to have a return label posted out after which we have to phone another 0871 premium number to arrange a courier to pick up the entire PC. After getting a slot two days later, the PC is picked up and after a further ten days the replacement is returned. That is almost THREE weeks after receiving the faulty unit.

Now maybe we have been unlucky but this is not unusual so we will continue with our policy, knowing that our customers will ultimately save time and money in the long term.

Web Browser Selection

Date:

Author

Category: Business, Home Computing, IT News, Software.

What is Browser Choice?

Due to a recent agreement put in place with the European authorities and Microsoft all users of Microsoft Windows are being offered a free choice of which browser they wish to have installed as the default. Whilst you have this Browser choice today, it does make it a simple operation for even the novice user to change.

What does it apply to?

This applies to all versions of Windows from Windows XP SP2 onwards (which is probably 98% of the currently installed windows base).

So how does all this happen?

The Browser Choice Update, as it is affectionately being called, will automatically be installed on your computer with “Windows Update” and should automatically prompt you with the Launch Screen at the next restart. As is usual with wide-scale updates, the actual update is staggered over a number of weeks so don’t panic if it doesn’t appear immediately. After downloading the update and restarting your computer, you’ll automatically be shown the Browser Choice screen (see below), and you can then select and install the browser(s) you want to use.

The Browser Choice update doesn’t add or remove any programs from your computer. If you’re using Windows 7 and Internet Explorer is your default browser, the update will unpin the Internet Explorer icon from your taskbar although Internet Explorer will still be available from your Start menu, and you can choose to pin it back on your taskbar.

The actual installation is really a matter of following instructions.

Date:

Author

Category: Business, Home Computing, IT Support, Mobile Computing.

Printing by Wires
Typically most Home Users / Small Businesses are reliant on having a single printer that connects to the computer via a USB cable (or parallel cable for those with older models). Now this is fine for your workstation that generally doesn’t move from the desk.

The Wireless World
With the advent of wireless routers (given by the suppliers as standard nowadays) and laptops, many users have suddenly become mobile – why shouldn’t you use the computer in the lounge, kitchen or bedroom?

The Challenge
This is all very well for internet access as you can wander about the house and still gain full uninterrupted access to your email, customers sites and movies. Where the problem arise is when printing as most people don’t own a wireless printer.

Solution
Whilst it is always possible to purchase a wireless printer, for most people this is not a viable option (why get rid of perfectly good device). Now there is a little box that allows you to create a virtual wireless printer (well two printers if you need them) meaning that you can print from anywhere in the office / home. For those that want to install this yourself then have a look at the Belkin 802.11g Wireless USB Print Server at around £50 – £60. For those that would like some assistance why not give us a call on 0845 2233116.

Date:

Author

Category: Business, Email.

Far too many businesses believe that a carefully drafted disclaimer notice on every email will protect them from everything. Not true.

Email disclaimers are of little value other than to notify the recipient that the contents are confidential and to provide a means of reporting any misdirection.

The truth is that there is no substitute for a proper email policy for employees and for showing the required legal information, which is the same as required for any business letter. The legally required information on company letters (and therefore company emails) is the company’s full name, registered number and address, the country of the company’s registration and an indication that the address is the registered office.

A sole trader must show its real name on its business letters – not just its trading name – and an address.

It’s worth noting that in addition to appearing unprofessional, there are a number of legal consequences for failing to abide by the Companies Act 1985 and Business Names Act 1985 in providing the required information in company letters or emails, namely:

  • It is a criminal offence both by the company concerned and by the person who authorises the communication on behalf of the company
  • If it relates to the order of goods and the company name is not mentioned in the email, the individual who sent it can be personally liable for the order
  • Difficulties arise in bringing legal proceedings to enforce a contract made, where the appropriate information has not appeared in the email

So don’t just copy another company’s disclaimer, change the company name and think everything is OK; put email policies in place, educate your staff, and make sure the correct legal information is on your company email signature.

Date:

Author

Category: Business, IT Purchasing, IT Support.

Ensuring you have the right amount of memory (RAM as it tends to be called in computer terms – Random Access Memory) in a PC is essential to ensure its smooth operation, maximising the user’s time and minimising frustration.

One of the problems we constantly come across with customers is that the information generally available to businesses regarding memory requirements is inaccurate or misleading and results in most business PCs being woefully under-specified, leading to wasted user time and frustration.

Remember a worker on only £12,000 per year losing only 15 minutes a day due to poor performance of a PC is costing the company over £400 per year whereas 1Gb of RAM typically costs about £40+VAT.

The problem is that most web sites provide minimum requirements for certain operating systems but they don’t account for the real world where a typical user will have a number of applications open at the same time (e.g. a few pages on a Browser, a Word document and a spreadsheet). Each of these applications users further memory and if the PC doesn’t have enough then the information has to be put somewhere else, so it uses the hard disk which massively slows down operations as a hard disk reads and writes data significantly slower than RAM.

Here’s The PC Support Group’s guide to typical RAM requirements for business PCs.

Read more »

Date:

Author

Category: Business, IT Support.

Many businesses spend time and money developing web sites to promote their products and services only to then let them sit and wonder if it is doing them any good.

The only way to understand how your web site is performing is to analyse the traffic to it. How many people are visiting it? How long do they stay on the site? Which pages do they go to? What search terms did they use to find you?

Google Analytics allows to you do all of this for free and is invaluable if you want to make your web site work for you.

So how do you make Analytics work for your site?

The first thing required is to get your web site developer to add the special code required to enable Google Analytics. The exact details can be found at the address below but most good web developers will be familiar with this.

See https://developers.google.com/analytics/resources/concepts/gaConceptsTrackingOverview

Next you will need to create a login for your own Analytics account. To do this go to www.google.com/analytics, choose the sign up option and follow the instructions.

What can Google Analytics do for you?

Once the code is in place and you have a login then after a few days you will start to build useful information about visitor habits that will allow to improve your site performance.

Read more »

Blackberry iPhone

Date:

Author

Category: Business, IT Security, Podcasts.

In recent years mobile computing has become one of the fastest moving areas of technology. So fast, in fact, it is sometimes difficult for businesses to know which options to take and how best to reap the benefits.

The rise of the iPhone as a serious business contender is one area of great debate. Blackberry Bold or iPhone 3G, that is the question.

The iPhone is undoubtedly the sexier device with a simple touch-screen interface and thousands of “cool” applications. The general opinion appears to be that the iPhone wins on the following features: range of applications, browsing, calendar, watching videos and listening to music while the Blackberry wins out on keyboard usage, battery life, and email. It is, however, fair to say that both do everything very well.

For business usage the BlackBerry is the hands-down winner for a perfect desktop extension. When setup with the Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES), pretty much whatever you can do from Outlook on your Exchange server, you can do from your BlackBerry. Also, BES offers a simple way of managing, controlling, and deploying mobile devices throughout an organisation although this only becomes relevant if you have more than about 20 mobile users. RIM’s focus on security also make the BlackBerry the obvious choice for a corporate environment.

Our advice would be that right now if you are a serious business user (i.e. email and security are important to you) or you are in a business with more than 20 mobile users then Blackberry is still the best choice. If you want a more general device then iPhone is the obvious choice. Next month we might think differently though!

Date:

Author

Category: Business, Cloud Computing, Mobile Computing.

Cloud computing is being talked about more and more and some are getting rather excited about it. This term is cropping up from technical seminars to the glossy magazines that come with your Sunday newspapers.

So what is cloud computing and how might it affect your business?

Cloud computing is a way of using computers where the computer resources (software and hardware) are provided as a service over the internet and are dynamically scalable and often virtual (i.e. not necessarily in one known place). What this means to users is that the information they use is stored on computers somewhere else (other than there local PC) and can be accessed where, when and how they want it.

Cloud computing customers don’t generally own the physical infrastructure on which the applications run and store the data. Instead, they rent usage from a third-party provider and then use the system as they need it, much as people use gas or electricity. The more resources they use (such as more users having access to an application or using more disk space for storing data) the more they pay.

This is a new term and is being hailed as a revolution with companies claiming to offer amazing cloud computing services.

The reality is that many businesses and home users are already using cloud computing without even realising it. Any business that uses an application operated by another company and accessed via a web browser is using cloud computing; any home user that uses a social networking site such as Facebook or MySpace is using cloud computing.

The advantage of the cloud concept is that the information is held centrally (somewhere) and can be accessed from multiple locations using multiple devices.

So, should you jumping on the cloud computing band-wagon?

Read more »