Slow machines may be the office joke, but did you realise how much time is wasted because of slow machines?
On average 30 minutes of time is lost every day due to lagging machines and crashes. That is 15.75 days lost every year! Buying new machines may seem like an expense but the annual profit loss of aging machines outweighs the one off cost of upgrading your IT equipment. Check out our infographic with the breakdown of how much you could be losing a year.
Our competitive workstation and laptop deals are designed to replace your older machines to make sure you are working at top speed. Our devices are in-stock and ready for fast deployment. Special requirements? No problem! We also source specific machines to fit any purpose and can upgrade devices to suit custom requirements.
Call us on 01279464470 or email [email protected] to discuss the best solution to your IT needs.
We recently visited Regent Street’s annual sustainability day at the newly refurbished 7 Air Street to discuss their environmental initiatives. From waste repurposing to endorsing health and well-being amongst their staff members, the management behind the Regent Street’s buildings are conscious of how their work affects their carbon footprint and the surrounding community. Introducing measures such as rooftop allotments and bee keeping, Regent Street Management Direct are pioneering interesting ways of promoting sustainability. We were at the event to discuss how technology reduces your carbon footprint and boost the productivity of your employees.
These five changes to your IT will improve your company’s sustainability but at the same can save you money too:
Encourage your team to go paperless
Printing documents wastes paper, toner and energy. Going paperless cuts down on deforestation, pollution and fuel consumption; do you really need a hard copy of that Excel spreadsheet? The benefits don’t stop there though, a paperless office is more organized and secure. Instead of searching through scraps of paper and needing giant filing cabinets to store documents, going digital allows speedier file searching, secure backups and a tighter hold of document version control.
If there are essential documents that must be printed, encourage double sided printing and ensure that your printer’s toner settings are optimized to the lowest settings. This saves on resources to guarantee that your machine is not using more ink than necessary.
switch PCs off at night or when not in use
Encourage your team to turn off machines or on to power save mode at night or when they are away from their desks. This will save money on bills but prevents power wastage, improving your sustainability. Computers also benefit from an occasional reboot as it allows updates.
Replace old hardware and processes
Old hardware is less energy efficient. We can provide you with lower energy, fully recyclable hardware solutions, saving you money on your energy bills. Updated equipment prevent your employees from being held back by slow, laggy, overheating machines, alleviating frustration and boosting productivity. Replacing redundant technologies such as fax or franking machines with newer technology allows speedier working and saves money on resources.
Consider working remotely
Allowing employees to work remotely cuts down on space needed in office with fewer desks and less hardware needed. Home workers pay for their own computers, electricity and other utilities saving you money. Plus, Reducing the number of employees commuting to the office cuts down the pollution caused by traveling. Video conferencing for meetings is a further example of how remote technology improves efficiency, by saving you on travel cost and wasted time. Again, this allows resources to be used more effectively and promote greener ways of working.
Can you automate this process?
Using software to automate processes where possible, reduces the amount of labour required for potentially simple tasks. This saves on resources and improves productivity by allowing repeated tasks to work seamlessly in the background so your team can work on more important tasks rather than inconvenient menial ones. Automation reduces errors, enforces standards and ensures accountability by taking out the potential for human error and being able to track steps of processes.
Once automated, collecting data from the different aspects of your business allows you to capture key info and help pinpoint where productivity can be optimized. This gives you insight into what parts of your company works well and what can be done to improve. The ability to streamline processes and work more efficiently as a company improves sustainability reducing lost time, benefiting the whole team.
If you would like to discuss how you can improve your business’ sustainability email [email protected] or call 01279 464 470.
Rather than replacing your PC or laptop entirely, you should think about replacing your hard drive and the best thing you can replace this with is a SSD. A solid state drive (or SSD) will bring your slow machine back to life – these are the top five ways that an upgrade will getting you working at top speed.
The biggest debate since the Pro’s release is whether the iPad pro will replace the laptop and what is the functionality of an oversized tablet. We have been road testing Apple’s latest product in the ITVET offices to see if we have any answers.
Size – How big is too big?
Our first reviewer, ITVET Director, Richard Fountain, did have some initial misgivings about whether the size of the new tablet will affect the durability: “The first thing that hits you when you open the box is how big the iPad Pro is. In the hand it feels awkward due to the size, plus the thinness makes it feel like it is fragile and easy to drop. So a robust case might be required depending on the intended use. Don’t get me wrong it is very thin which keeps the weight down, but from a handling perspective it makes it difficult to grip in some respect.” The size seems to be the most commented upon feature in the first reviews. Although it may be uncomfortable to hold, the size of the screen is perfect for sharing. Whether sharing a trailer with friends for an upcoming movie or a sales presentation to your client, the high quality and scale of the screen allows for crystal clear viewing. As our director discovered, this latest edition to the iPad family is a perfect companion when working out of the office as it fits perfectly in an A4 portfolio case that was used before ITVET became paperless. “It was a perfect size for making presentations being fractionally smaller than an A4 piece of paper. Also making it a perfect replacement for A4 notepads for those paper bound diehards”.
So perhaps the question how big is too big, really depends on what you are looking to use the iPad for…
Purpose – Business or pleasure?
So the question everyone is asking – can the iPad Pro ever replace a laptop? While it may seem heavier and bulkier than all previous tablet versions, it is much less heavy than carrying a laptop. If your work takes you out of the office regularly it would be ideal to have a slick device that is ‘nearly, but not quite a laptop’ – although I’m not totally convinced how a bigger screen makes this any more of a laptop rival than the previous iPad versions. As Richard found whilst visiting a client, “the Pro was perfect for my presentation but that is only one use and one would not think this a big enough market to make it a success for Apple.” While the Pro is great for on the move it is not ideal for large word processing – trying to type large amounts of text is quite a task. Apple has developed a smart keyboard that would counteract this problem but equally this racks up the price on an already expensive device. The price of the iPad plus the smart keyboard is not that different to the price of a laptop.
Testing the Apple Pencil
With palm touch rejection and the introduction of the Apple Pencil, many of the new features seem to be design orientated. I did find drawing on the Pro a very enjoyable experience especially with the Apple Pencil. The pencil is very intuitive giving the affect and feeling of drawing on paper. Plus, from the perspective of a left-hander, I found the palm rejection great. Although there is nothing that can replicate the joy of drawing on paper, for practicality the iPad Pro probably wins. The Apple Pencil recognises different pressures so instinctively that sketching and shading feels and looks no different to anything in my sketchbooks. The size does make it uncomfortable and awkward to hold with one hand which would be an inconvenience if drawing on location. However, being able to instantly upload creations to social media or email is beyond useful and I imagine, in a business sense, how valuable it would be have the ability to share ideas so easily.
According to a lot of reviewers the surface Pro has already had many of these features, but as it seems to be the case with Apple, they have arrived late to the party but wearing a very slick outfit that has grabbed everyone’s attention. As it has been with their first smartwatch and adopting force touch in the latest iPhone, Apple grabs technology that already exists, brings it to a mass audience and gets everyone talking about how this is the beginning of the future. It is only since the Pro’s introduction that the laptop’s status is considered threatened – but even with further development could the iPad really ever cause the laptop’s demise?
For entertainment or home use the Pro’s hefty price tag may not be justifiable. Admittedly, the excellent quality of the speakers and screen image do make for great Netflix viewing. However, the size and weight makes it uncomfortable to sit or relax with, plus the screen feels too big and bright to sit that close to. I did find it effective to watch catch up tv whilst cooking – the speakers were loud enough to fill a room and the screen big enough to see from the other side of the kitchen.
So is bigger better? Sometimes – it really depends on how you use your tablet and what you are looking for. Personally, I found the features and the overall quality perfect and it was the first time I ever realised how inferior my old school iPad 2 really is. For me though, I may consider upgrading but the Pro is slightly too big for what I would use it for.
Because of the extreme size, split screens are where the Pro really takes off. The side bar is great for taking notes or quickly checking a second app. Dual screen allows two apps to be used at once, which is great for referencing websites while using the word processing or sketching apps, especially as each screen is about the size of a standard iPad Air.
Again, thanks to the size of the screen a full sized QWERTY keyboard is available on screen. This is particularly useful when typing email addresses where in the past I have had to switch between the letters, numbers, and symbols options multiple times. However, for word processing I think it would be tiresome to type long documents on a touch screen, even with the additional keys. This may be why Apple released the smart keyboard to run alongside the iPad, as otherwise it would never be a contender to replace the laptop.
Dual screen feature
The battery life lasted well – although charging takes some time, even when on aeroplane mode. With regards to the Apple Pencil, it did seem strange needing to charge a pencil – although the battery life seems to be very good. It also felt peculiar that it has to be plugged into the charging socket on the iPad itself although the pencil does come with an adaptor so that a standard lightening cable can be used instead. With the pencil jutting out of the end of the iPad this doesn’t seem the safest method of charging but destruction test videos have proven that it is harder to break than it looks. Even, so it just appears awkward and you would have thought that with Apple’s design capabilities, they would have thought of a more inventive way.
Overall, I would say that practicality is key with the iPad Pro – in some ways it would be the Clarkes’ shoes of the fashion world. While David Attenborough documentaries do look quite spectacular on the Pro, the hefty price tag may be slightly too big to swallow for just Netflix, Facebook and Candy crush. The bigger scale allows for the Pro to be more functional for word processing or creating artwork – but it is less chic or slick as some of the smaller models. It may not be cute but it is much lighter than lugging around a laptop all day, if that is something that you do. In some ways I believe that the Pro is all about sharing – the ease of producing notes or sketches combined with the ability to send ideas back and forth would make discussion (particularly design based) faster and easier. I would say for the ability to present documents, designs and proposals, bigger may be better. Or possibly, bigger means more to share.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, email [email protected] or call us on 01279 464 470.
We are all aware of the potential for spam and phishing emails to hammer our inboxes on a daily basis. This is why it’s prudent to protect your network with a hosted email filtering service, such as Trend Micro. However, even with the best email filtering service in place, an amount of spurious emails will most likely still make it to your inbox. This is mainly because the criminals who send out such emails are employing ever more sneaky ways to fool their victims.
Although there are hundreds, if not thousands of different types of dodgy emails being sent round, there are two particular types which merit taking immediate action to protect your data and your bank balance. These two types of emails have taken things to the next level in terms of how far these crooks will go to part you or your company from your cash or data.
Urgent Request from the MD to make a bank transfer
An email arrives from your MD, or other senior person who can authorise payments. It instructs you to make an urgent payment to the company detailed in the email. The MD will usually be out of the country or away when this email arrives. The crooks know this as they have most likely sent a phishing email and received an out of office response with the recipient’s job title. They then do some research on your company and establish the hierarchy and who would deal with bank payments. The crooks edit the “From” field of the email so it does indeed look like the MD’s email address and usually use the signature: “sent from my mobile” or similar.
We are aware that globally this type of email con has managed to trick some pretty large companies out of some significant amounts of cash. In one instance a US company transferred a six figure sum to the fraudster’s bank account. This may seem incredible but remember these crooks have done their homework on their victim’s company. They probably know the turnover of the company and possibly some of their clients or suppliers. They have even been known to hack their way in to the company’s email system, and obtain their contact database. This means that when they send the request for payment, the name may even be that of one of the company’s clients or suppliers, just with a different account number and sort code.
So what can be done to try and prevent this type of targeted attack?
In terms of preventing this type of email arriving, it is actually quite hard as they look like genuine emails. However, there are a number of measures that can be taken to protect your company.
1. Make it the company policy to never make bank transfers based upon the receipt of one email, even if it is from the MD. Do not reply to the email. Use an alternative contact method such as a text or phone call to confirm the payment request. Admittedly this is more about the company’s internal payment methods than the email system but it is an effective way to prevent this type of fraud.
2. If your company has a hosted email filtering service, then implement a policy that will detect any email with the words “Sort Code” as this is pretty much a unique term which relates to banking. The email can be tagged in the header with a message of your choice such as “Warning potential phishing email”. The warning should alert the recipient to the potential risks. It is also possible to Quarantine emails with these trigger words although this may cause disruption to your accounts department. If there are a number of genuine emails received containing these phrases, these will need to released from the quarantine.
Crypto locker Ransomware in older Office documents (Word, Excel etc.)
This type of threat has been doing the round for some time but we are now seeing a huge increase in the frequency of them. These emails are worded with titles that are deliberately chosen to lure you into opening the attachments with subjects such as “Invoice for service” or “Your Order Receipt”.
Opening the attachment will usually run an application which will encrypt your data. Not just on your PC but on any network drive that you have access to. Once all of your data has been encrypted, a message from the hackers will appear on your screen advising you that your data has “been secured” for you. If you would like access to the data they will decrypt it for a sum of money that must be paid in Bit Coins. The amounts demanded vary around $500 but can be as much as $5000.
Unfortunately once your data has been encrypted there is no way to decrypt the data without the decryption key, which only the crooks know. You will have to restore your data from the most recent backup, which is not ideal to say the least.
So what can you do to protect yourself from this type of threat?
So far these types of attacks only use old style Office documents, such as .doc/.xls. If you have a hosted email filtering service, then it would be very easy to quarantine all old style Office documents. However, with so many companies still using these old document formats, it means that there might be quite a lot of genuine emails caught in the spam filter that will need to be released.
Alternately, emails containing attachments with old document formats could be tagged in the message title with a warning to alert the recipient of the potential danger of opening the attachment.
The most obvious and easiest form of protection is not to open any attachment unless you are expecting it and it has been sent by the correct person/company. However, in the heat of the day in a busy office, it is so easy to accidentally open an attachment. In the event you believe you may have accidentally opened an infected attachment, speed is of the essence. Steps to follow:
1. Unplug the network lead from the back of your PC, or shutdown as soon as possible
2. Call the IT support provider
The above outlines just two of the many thousands of online threats, which are growing rapidly by the day. If you would like to discuss any of the above, or if you have any other questions, please contact us at [email protected] or call 01279 464 470.
We are seeing an increasing number of cases of Ransomware attacks.
Paying ransoms to hackers does not guarantee the safe return of your files so it is best to take preventative actions you should take to protect your machine. The best defense against viruses such as Cryptolocker is to be aware of how your machine can become infected. Even if you are cautious with the websites you visit and the attachments you open, the disguises hackers use are often very deceptive and it is easier than you may think to be tricked into opening a malicious link. It is most important that you regularly back up your files to ensure that if you are caught out you won’t lose your most important documents. It is not just corporations and companies that are targeted – make sure you have copies of your photos saved to an alternative device, don’t lose your precious memories.
These are our top tips on how to stay safe from Ransomware and information on how you may become infected. If you would like any information on back up solutions or if you have any enquiries email us at [email protected] or call on 01279 464 470.
Google Business view allows you to go beyond Streetview and step inside to take a 360˚ tour of your business. It is an interactive way for your clients to navigate their way through your business on a new level.
At ITVET, we recently organised for our head office in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, to be photographed. It really was as straight forward and as fast a process as Google advertises. Nearly all of the work is completed by a Google Trusted Photographer – once scheduled, they visit your business and take the photographs. It is also the photographer who then turns these into a virtual tour and uploads it to Google – after the shoot our tour was uploaded in less than a week. While this is great for SEO, it really allows you to showcase your working space and introduce your environment to your clients.
Take a look inside ITVET House – our head office, where you will see our team hard at work. It’s not all work though – if you take a peek inside our kitchen you will see there are plenty of treats to reward our efforts at the end of the day!
If you would like to see inside more Businesses you can visit this online gallery that shares panoramic tours from around the world. This is great if you are planning and adventure and are looking for places to visit along the way.
The Young Rewired State (YSR) Festival Of Code returns this August and one of the ITVET Team members will be at the Cambridge centre helping young coders, designers and developers find their calling and hone their skills.
Young Rewired State is an international community of digital makers aged 18 and under. They aim to find and nurture young coders to use their knowledge to improve their communities, encourage peer to peer learning and equip these young people with the skills needed to be the rising tech stars of the future. The rate of growth of the digital industries is threatening a skill shortage and YRS aims to provide a platform for keen young people to pursue a career in technology.
Their annual Festival of Code, running from July 27 to August 2, brings together communities from all over the world for a week of digital making fun. With 66 centres located across the UK and online mentoring available for international participants, this is an excellent opportunity for under 18s to share their technical knowledge, develop their skills and make lifelong friends.
The week is spent building apps, websites, games, and inventing crazy contraptions. At the end of the week, all contestants meet in Birmingham, where they present their projects to expert judges, mentors, the press, and other participants. The best entries from each group will go through to the finals, where exciting prizes are awarded for a range of different categories.
This year’s categories include:
1.Best Example of Code
2. Best Example of Design
3. The ‘Should Exist’ Award
4. Code a Better Country
5. Best in Show
6. The People’s Choice
If you want to get involved you can sign up as a volunteer, mentor or participant here.
Is your inbox a mess of promotions or company newsletters? Emails from legitimate companies are not technically spam but it is still annoying when your inbox is full of company updates and discount offers from pizza chains.
Instead of deleting these emails or marking them as junk it may be better for your inbox in the long term to unsubscribe from them. Legitimate emails will have an ‘unsubscribe link’, usually at the bottom of the email and often in very small text. (If you are having trouble finding the link you can press ctrl + F to use your browser’s search function – here you can type ‘unsubscribe’ to see the link quicker.)
It may seem a chore but if you flag all spam emails in your inbox as they arrive you can unsubscribe from in batches rather than individually. In the long term you should hopefully see less of these memory taking nuisances! However, you should only click links in emails if you are certain they are from companies that you have used in the past or if you are certain they are genuine. For tips on how to spot a scam email, you read our previous blog post about phishing here.
We are seeing a huge increase in the number of phishing and malware loaded emails recently. The most common and very dangerous ones we have seen claim to be from Amazon confirming a refund.
There are many different types of scam emails so you really need to be on your guard, it is so easy to click on a link or open an attachment. The damage to your computer or network could be huge, and very costly to repair. If you receive any emails with attachments or links, even from a well-known source or colleague, stop, and take a moment to consider whether the email could be fake. Check the content of the email carefully, look for tell-tale signs, such as grammatical errors. Think whether you have recently done business with the supplier in question. If you are in any doubt do not open the attachment, or click any links.
Although there is no 100% way to stop all scam emails, it is still worth using a good quality hosted email filtering service, such as Trend Micro’s Hosted Email Security. As a rule this will stop around 90% of unwanted emails. Equally do invest in a leading brand Anti-Virus and malware removal tools. But even by deploying the best protection systems on the market, the best form of defence still remains as end user awareness.
If you would like a free no obligation consultation on how best to protect your company network, then call one of our security specialists today. For more information or any enquiries email [email protected] or call on our team at 01279 464470.