As you may have heard, the Microsoft Windows XP support end date is looming. Office 2003 and Windows XP support is set to terminate on April 8, 2014.
If your organisation has not started the migration to modern desktops, it’s important to act as soon as possible, particularly if you have legacy Line of Business applications.
What are the risks of not upgrading before Windows XP support ends?
After April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates or hot fixes, no support of any description from Microsoft for XP or Office 2003.
This means that running Windows XP and Office 2003 in your environment after the end of support date will expose your company to potential risks. Windows XP machines will become soft targets for exploitation and simply maintaining up to date anti-virus on Windows XP PCs will not be sufficient protection.
Please note that as we are now drawing very close to the official Windows XP support end date, requests for services on XP machines will need to be carefully considered. It is worth seriously considering if spending money on an end-of-life PC is viable, or if the machine should be upgraded.
The good news is that making an investment in modern PCs running Windows 7 or later will have a very positive affect on your staff productivity. There are also options other than simply buying a new PC, such as considering whether lower cost Thin Clients are a better desktop replacement.
With only a few weeks to go until Christmas, we understand that now is most likely a frantic time and this issue probably isn’t top of mind. We would however encourage you to have a think about this over the next few weeks, perhaps we can schedule some time in the New Year to help you put an action plan together?
Feel free to contact us to discuss further on 07 3123 4932.
Freshmethod’s primary reason for being is to improve business efficiency using technology and to provide value to our clients by aligning their technology with their organisation goals.
Let’s talk about something called the “Technology Stack”. The term “technology stack” refers to the layers of components, applications and services that are used to provide a technology solution.
The first layer of the stack is the base infrastructure. Applications and services are layered on top of the infrastructure. The last thing you want to overlook when delivering technology is the importance of organisation goals and the driving force of people.
If these factors are not weighted properly, the result is infrastructure that doesn’t necessarily support goals or drive the capacity of the people who use it. We view the Technology Value Stack as follows:
Organisation Goals sit at the top of the Technology Stack.
- The Organisation Goals: Your plans, your market, your budget
- People: How your people interact with technology
- Applications: How the organisation extracts efficiency, market visibility and productivity from its applications
- Infrastructure: Providing a stable platform for all of the above
If your infrastructure is addressed as being the most important part of this stack, organisational goals – and the people who deliver them – are no longer the main focus!
Our engagement goes deeper than the infrastructure. Our client engagement involves workshops, during which we focus on Business Process Improvement:
- Properly understanding and analysing the day-to-day activities that flow through the business
- Providing a strategy for leveraging business process automation solutions.
- Optimising forms and workflows, information architecture, document management and line of business application integration
Infrastructure is the beginning of the conversation. Our point of difference as a Technology Partner is enabling technology that aligns with organisation goals, to drive the capabilities of people.
If you’re interested in learning more about technology initiatives that streamline your business processes, improve your document management and drives improved capacity right throughout your organisation, we can help. Give us a call today to discuss your requirements further.
Our business model is developing in two distinct areas. Service Delivery and Business Consulting. This vision ties directly to our underlying reason for being in business; solving business problems with technology.
It has been some time since we’ve posted an update. 2013 has been a year of change for Freshmethod. As with most change, the behind the scenes groundwork has been quite some time in the planning.
There have been team member changes, family additions and a lot of work on our future focus. As a team we have a very clear view of why we do what we do. The last 24 months have seen us work toward crystallising how we do it.
Let’s start with the new additions. This year our Managing Director Jamie welcomed his first baby into the Freshmethod family. Having taken some time out to enjoy his new daughter, he has returned to the business, with renewed focus and energy for business development.
We have had a few new team members join the ranks and a couple leave to pursue other ventures. Our team as it stands now forms a stable base from which we can continue to grow.
Our business model is developing in two distinct areas; Service Delivery and Business Consulting. This vision ties directly to our underlying reason for being in business…
Solving Business problems with Technology.
The team at Freshmethod is dedicated to a singular purpose; to transform organisations and businesses in the SME and Non-Profit sectors. By implementing technology that aligns with our client’s strategic goals we can have a real, positive impact.
The way that technology is used and how it relates to an organisation’s goals may differ from client to client. Our passion for solving business problems remains true in each and every scenario.
What does this mean for our clients?
Here’s the reality. We no longer see ourselves simply as a “Managed Service Provider”.
While many IT Companies are still looking to make their debut in the MSP space, our focus is on the future…One where we spend our working hours:
- Transforming our clients’ business processes
- Streamlining their infrastructure
- Transitioning them to the cloud
- Managing their Information Architecture
- Easing the burden of document management
- And of course, solving business problems!
Truly positive transformation can happen for an organisation that realises the benefits of a Technology Partner focused more on underlying business drivers than simply on the technology alone.
We’re excited to be that partner to your organisation!
For a long time now we here at The Freshmethod Blog have been talking about how great we think Windows Phone 8 is going to be and so on and so forth. Well, the time has come and Windows Phones are upon us so I have taken it upon myself to get my hands on the new Nokia Lumia 920. (Oh the sacrifices I make for my profession.) Bearing in mind they have only been available for a very short time I thought it might be interesting to note down my impressions of the phone and see if it really lives up to the hype.
Confessions of a Windows Fanboy
I think everybody who has read a few of my blog entries here knows that I’m a bit of a Windows Fanboy. If you didn’t then you do now. That being said I own an iPad, I used to own an Android powered HTC Desire and I previously owned a Windows Phone 7 handset so I think I have a pretty broad experience. Of course, there was always very little chance that I wasn’t going to like this phone. I mean seriously, I have been drooling over pictures of this phone for months. Not to mention the fact that I have read almost every piece of literature available on it so I was always going to have a pretty good idea of what I was in for when I got it. Now that we’ve said all that, let’s get down to it.
Review For People On The Go
I like it.
Let’s start out with the things I like about this phone. The first thing you notice about the Lumia 920 is the screen. It is big and it is beautiful. The colours are bright and crisp and the 4.5″ screen is great for actually using your phone for things like email or web browsing. Thanks to the 920′s snazzy new Snapdragon processor everything flows very smoothly across said big screen. I mean incredibly smoothly. There is no lag, no waiting. Just pick what you want and go for it. It has long been that the Windows Phone operating system is the fastest of all the next generation smart phones the Lumia 920 gives me no reason to doubt this. Of course I have only had the phone for a week so this may change over time but so far I have had no problems and it isn’t for a lack of looking. I have installed far more applications than I need in an attempt to slow the system down but to no avail.
The big draw card behind any smart phone is the applications that are available for it. Windows Phone doesn’t yet have the market share of Android or iPhone and as such it doesn’t have the same amount of apps written for it. This has the potential to start a vicious cycle so in an attempt to stop this Nokia and Microsoft have written some very nice, exclusive apps. There are far too many to touch on here but I think special mention needs to be made of Nokia Drive – a GPS navigation app, Nokia City Lens – a very cool augmented reality app that uses the phone’s camera as a means of pointing out nearby places you might like to visit, and the Microsoft Office Suite which is fairly self-explanatory. I have found being able to read Microsoft Office documents very handy when I am out and about. It makes my email all the more useful because I can read almost any and all attachments. I also love the way that Office ties in with my Skydrive. If you don’t know what Skydrive is, it is basically storage on your phone that can synchronise with online storage as well as any other device you have Skydrive installed on. It allows you to save a document on one computer and open it on your phone or iPad or laptop. In short, it is brilliant. If you are familiar with Dropbox or Google Drive then it’s basically Microsoft’s version of the same thing.
For most business people, the most used feature of this phone (even more than the actual phone functionality itself) is probably going to be email. The built-in email client is quite good and setup is just as easy as any other phone on the market. So easy in fact that it almost doesn’t warranty talking about. Setting up email on my phone was literally so easy that I got a small shock when I started receiving email. It felt like I had missed a step somewhere but there were my emails. Staring at me as if to complain that I hadn’t replied to them all yet.
No review of the 920 would be complete without talking about the camera. This is one of if the the main selling feature of the camera and like almost everything else about the phone it is very nice. The camera is actually mounted on springs to help stabilise those shaky hands and there is inbuilt image stability software just in case the springs aren’t enough. By far my favourite feature however is the ability to adjust focus.
As you can see it makes a big difference.
Well, I guess I have to point out that this phone isn’t flawless. There have been some minor gripes about the phone being too slippery which causes people to drop it. I haven’t noticed this myself but there are one or two things I found a little frustrating. Of course, the lack of apps is a little bit annoying. When I get a new gadget the first thing I want to do is play with it. I don’t really care what I am doing specifically, I just want to be doing something with my new toy. This becomes a little difficult when the phone is very limited in its customisability and there are comparatively few apps to download and play with. Don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of thousands of apps in the app store but they aren’t all necessarily any good. I know all of the phone manufacturers love talking about how many different apps you can run on their phones but the truth of the matter is it’s not quantity but quality that counts and almost every good app comes out for iOS and Android but not necessarily Windows Phone. It’s not a disaster but it is annoying.
The real gripe I have is the battery. I still plan to do more testing but so far I have found the battery to be a little disappointing. Before I got my 920 I read a review that raved about how great the battery life was and indeed if you turn off unnecessary services like cellular data when you aren’t using them the battery does a good job. If however you decide you want to play a game on your phone you can almost watch the battery life drain away before your eyes. Some people have resorted to resetting their phones which has given them some relief and I have done some testing with a benchmarking program and while my battery seems to be doing much better than it was, it’s not amazing. One thing that everybody mentioned about the phone was how big and heavy it is. I didn’t find it over the top myself but I had thought that the extra size and weight was to allow for it to work longer. Sadly I was mistaken. I wouldn’t say it is any worse than an iPhone 5 for example but it’s certainly no better.
Ultimately, I love this phone. It’s fast, it’s easy to use and it is designed for business. The battery problem is nothing new for smart phones and I truly believe the lack of apps will sort itself out eventually. While I always recommend people talk to their IT professional if they want advice on what phone is best suited to their needs, I would have no trouble recommending the Nokia Lumia 920 to people.
Until next time,
One of the things we talk about on The Freshmethod Blog is The Cloud. Today’s topic ties in with that theme, but in a very specific way. When companies make the move to a cloud environment, the big question is where and how to save the company information. Well, this is a question that Microsoft has obviously considered at length, and they long ago came up with what I think is one of their best products; SharePoint. Sharepoint not only gives businesses a place to keep company data in the cloud, but also a way to organise it, and more.
What is SharePoint?
According to Microsoft
“Microsoft SharePoint… makes it easier for people to work together. Using SharePoint… your people can set up Web sites to share information with others, manage documents from start to finish, and publish reports to help everyone make better decisions.”
Basically, SharePoint is designed to make your office more efficient. There are several ways in which it does this, as we will see. It is a very powerful tool for businesses and can grow with your company to enhance not just the way you store and manipulate your data, but your internal business processes as well. It’s really quite amazing.
The difference between you and I and everyone else
When it comes to your company’s files, everyone sees them differently. When the IT department looks at a company’s data they might see a collection of word documents, some excel spread sheets and a few PDF files, but when the sales department looks at the files, they might see a collection of client contracts, sales projections and product flyers. Both points of view are correct in their own way, but it means there is a gap in how we speak. What if Bob’s Hedge Trimming has a maintenance contract? Do we save it under contracts or under Bob’s Hedge Trimming? Where do we look when we’re trying to find a similar file that someone else has created? It can all get very messy. SharePoint not only gives you a way of resolving this issue but more complex ones as well. My good friend and fellow blogger Ryan Mayhead likes to use the following example:
In traditional files and folders. its easy for you to get the current contracts for Client A. You Browse to your company shared drive, then to clients, Client A, Contracts, Current. Quick and simple. Now imagine trying to find the current contracts for Clients A through Z. Not so quick. How about finding all of the contracts that expire before June regardless of client? How about all the contracts signed by John Doe.
As you can see, managing your data can quickly become a very cumbersome task unless, of course, you have some way of managing processes like this. Well thankfully this is SharePoint’s bread and butter. Using something called Meta Tags, if you get yourself setup correctly then even the most complex search can be just a mouse click away. How neat is that?
Information isn’t always stored in files
When trying to find out where companies keep their most valuable data, it is interesting to see just how many people underestimate the importance of information stored in places other than Word documents and PDFs. The most obvious example of what I mean is, of course, emails and Outlook contacts. Many companies long for a way to share contacts between employees or to make emails easily accessible to anyone in the office. Well, SharePoint has the amazing ability to interface directly with Outlook and take care of all of those pesky sharing needs. It saves on space and reduces doubling up of work.
What else can it do?
One of the things I like about SharePoint is how multifaceted it is. Just being able to organise your information is pretty impressive in itself. But now that you have a way of organising those contracts, what do you do when they are submitted? Perhaps you want to receive an alert when a new contract is signed and uploaded. SharePoint has the ability to trigger workflows to do any number of things. Microsoft seems to understand that information is only useful if it is in the hands of the right people at the right time, and by using workflows you can automate processes that ensure everyone gets the information they need. Of course, SharePoint comes with all of the security features one would expect of a commercial grade product, giving the right people access to the right information and nothing more.
To say that this article discusses anywhere near everything SharePoint can do would be an injustice. It is such a powerful tool. Microsoft holds SharePoint conferences that can last a whole week so it would be silly of me to try to capture everything in one blog post. What I would like to do is let people know the product exists and it’s basic intent. I personally believe SharePoint is one of Microsoft’s best products and it never ceases to amaze me just how many people do not know it exists. As always, the most important thing any business person can do is ask. Give your IT support a call and see how products like this can make your life easier and your business more efficient.
Until next time,