Category: Home Computing, IT Security, IT Support.

Criminals are now getting data from your computer via the phone! Is this some new secret device that the criminals have invented? No, they’ve just found a new way to scam people without technology.

The PC Support Group has received a number of calls recently from irate people who had money fraudulently taken from their accounts. Why did they ring us? Well one such scam company used our support number on their web site so victims unsurprisingly decided to call it. It was quite a shock but I’m pleased to report that we helped as much as possible and have now had the number removed. We have also reported the incidents to the police and trading standards but for now the scam continues and is a real concern.

It would appear that all the individuals had received unsolicited “cold” calls from someone claiming to be their Internet Service Provider (ISP). The caller seemed to have just enough information to make the recipient believe the call was genuine. They then offered “essential” IT support services and somehow gained access to their financial information. Within days they found money had been withdrawn from their bank accounts without their agreement.

Which? magazine also reported in December 2009 that consumers across the country had been called by scammers pretending to be from the computer software giant Microsoft or an internet service provider.

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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.

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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.


Next you will need to create a login for your own Analytics account. To do this go to, 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.

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Category: IT Purchasing, IT Support, Mobile Computing.

Up until recently I was a total Blackberry fan. Not because it is a great phone; it just did what I needed it to do; that is, make and receive calls, text and send and receive emails. That’s what I did with it for the last 18 months with my old Curve.

I never enjoyed the experience; I just got it to do what it needed to do. However about a week ago, I opened a package from the postman with excitement: it was my new HTC –Hero. I did think the phone might be a bit gimmicky and not really do what a phone is supposed to. I was partially right: it is a bit gimmicky, but useful in a fun way with Google maps, calendar, email screens, nice touch screen and a high quality display.

It also has a host of downloadable applications that are readily available in the market place and mostly for free. I managed to download Sun Tzu Art of war and it is displayed nicely and in readable format, as well as games such as Labyrinth.

The email was quick and easy to setup and use. It synchronised quickly and easily with my machine so the Outlook calendar as well as my contacts were there in a flash. There was even a quick synchronisation with Google email. Where I thought it wouldn’t meet my expectorations is its use as a mobile phone/texting machine. What I found was that it can do these things well and actually surpasses the call quality that I had from the Blackberry on both the speaker phone and handset mode.

The phone also offers conference calling and has great social functionality; tying your Facebook account with your contacts list and having Twitter availability.

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Category: IT Support, Mobile Computing.

I regularly come across systems with passwords that I guess within about 30 seconds or that I know could easily be cracked within a few minutes using readily available tools.

With this in mind I thought it might be worth giving people a few ideas as to how to avoid these issues.

What NOT to do:

  • Don’t use personal data like a name or any other information that some one could easily discover about you from other sources
  • Do not choose a word (English or otherwise), proper name, name of a TV show
  • Use simple transformation of a word such as putting a number at the start or end, writing a word backwards or simply substituting a letter for a number

How Long should a password be ?

Ideally a password should be a minimum of 8 characters although longer passwords are recommended (Windows XP supports a maximum of 127!)

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Category: IT News, IT Support.

Today (29th July 2009) Yahoo & Microsoft have combined forces to create an agreement that will take on the might of Google.

So what does this mean to you and I ?

Well at last Google may have some credible competition in the search space and this is no bad thing – Some of the best products and services are delivered when there is competition (remember the world with DOS and no Microsoft Windows before Apple produced their graphical interface!).

Web advertising revenue amounted to $6.1 Billion in Q4 2008 and this is set to grow exponentially as companies realise the power of the web and the ability to closely track any advertising carried out within this medium. When you compare this to traditional forms of advertising like newspaper or TV, there is an almost limitless supply of data and statistics that give the marketers an unprecedented level of control. This is a huge market and so far Microsoft has failed to make an impact (remember MSN & Microsoft Search). Yahoo were once great and to be honest do have a great product but they have been slowly trampeled upon by Google.

That said, Google got to where it is with a superior search engine and Bing is still way short of this… but things can change.

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Category: IT Support.

If you’re like me you’ll often discover interesting or useful blogs but you just know that you don’t have time to keep visiting each one in the future to keep track of the latest updates.

Even if you can subscribe to an email update (which isn’t always the case) you know that it will only be a matter of time before you start to receive those annoying emails that you didn’t subscribe to.

I’ve recently discovered a great web site that helps you manage your blogs without these problems. It’s called bloglovin’.

Bloglovin’ allows you to get automatic updates from all of your favourite blogs exactly as you want. So, if you like to know about a new posting on every blog as it happens then you can choose to receive an email instantly. However, if like me you would rather receive one email with all the updates then you can choose to receive one email a day with a list of the updates. Alternatively you can select to receive no emails and simply login to your account to see a summary of your favourite blogs.

Tracking and managing interesting blogs is so much easier.

To try it simply go to and sign up.

And don’t forget to add our blog to your favourites!



Category: IT Support.

We’ve all heard a lot about Swine Flu over the last few months and reactions seem to vary from genuine concern for personal welfare (or that of loved ones) to total complacency believing it won’t have any effect and is being exaggerated. In both cases the focus has been understandably about personal health rather than the implication on society and business at large.

As a business that has a number of staff currently recovering from Swine Flu The PC Support Group has a unique early insight into how this might affect businesses throughout the UK.

With swine flu predicted to affect 30 per cent of the population and cost the UK economy up to £50bn, I would urge businesses to plan now and utilize technology to help prepare for the outbreak.
The first wave of swine flu is likely to occur between August and November – peaking late August to late September.

Peak weeks could see employee absence rates for illness reach 12 per cent of the workforce – in addition to normal holiday absence. However, while 12 per cent may not seem an extremely worrying percentage, you have to take into account that smaller companies only have a limited number of staff. They are therefore likely to lose much higher percentages, which in some cases could be up to 50 per cent.

Luckily, as an IT support company we already use technology geared to remote working, which has enabled us to continue work with little effect on our customer service.

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Category: Customer Service, IT Support.

At The PC Support Group we’re always looking to improve the service we provide to our customers.

To achieve this we do a number of things:

  • we ask our customers what they like about our service and we do more of that and we ask what they don’t like and we try to stop doing that
  • we constantly review a streamline our processes
  • we measure certain key indicators and then look to improve on them

Recently we looked in detail at our average fix times for customer requests. I have heard various competitors refer to fix times in terms of 1 hour, 2 hours, etc so imagine my shock to find that our average fix time is over 3 days! I nearly hit the roof.

After I’d calmed down I started delving into why this was. We were measuring the average time from when a customer informs us about an issue or requirement to the time we close the call as complete.

The first and most obvious reason for such a long average was that these included requests for work that could take weeks such as setting up an entire office from scratch but that still didn’t explain everything.

The most significant point was that we train our staff to follow what we call our Service Excellence Cycle and this includes testing and checking that a problem is really solved and then asking the customer for a ‘declaration of satisfaction’.

What was happening was that our engineers where leaving the calls open for a few days and then calling back to ensure the problem hadn’t re-occurred and was really resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Our systems automatically prompt the engineers if the request is left open so this helps them when dealing with many issues.

After thinking about this I realised that this was fantastic customer service and that if we were to demand our average fix time to be in hours then our engineers would close calls as quickly as possible and wouldn’t perform the follow up. Why would I want that?

So our average fix time will remain in days and from our amazing customer feedback I know that’s what our customers want too.



Category: IT Support, Software.

Perhaps a strange topic for an IT support blog… or is it?

There are many ways to become more efficient at work and I’m not going to start giving you lessons in productivity, time management or measurement. My solution is based around a simple solution that was inspired from when I used to visit London and watch the dealers at work trading currency, shares or commodities. Dual Screen!

What is Dual Screen?

Effectively it’s where you plug two monitors into a single computer so that you can view more information at the same time. The two screen actually behave like one large screen so you can open up a window and then drag it across onto one screen leaving you to open up another window on the other. If you often work with different software at the same time and find yourself getting frustrated with the wasted time of opening and closing windows then this could be the perfect solution for you.

What do you need? Here’s the techie bit… you need to purchase and fit a secondary graphics card. If this means nothing to you then just contact your local computer support company (like The PC Support Group) and they can sort it out.

How much will it cost?

You can purchase a decent graphics adaptor for £20 – £50 although beware that you can spend up to £400 (this is for the latest and greatest gaming adaptor and for normal work is not required).

What about the screen?

In my own case I have a 24” screen alongside a 19” screen giving me a great set up. I use the large screen for my main tasks and the smaller for secondary tasks such as leaving my Outlook email open.

Is my computer capable of doing this?

Windows XP or Windows Vista are both suited to the task and can work out of the box with dual screens. After that all you need is a simple graphics card (and we can always help you help you out with advice, purchase or fitting if required).

Here’s to more work in less time… leaving more time for play! Or perhaps just more work!

Angus Kerr – Computer Support Edinburgh