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,
One of the things everybody notices about today’s technological world is that everybody is joining it. In the days of yore the IT guys knew about IT and everybody else knew about everything else but today, we are no longer the omniscient mystics we once were. So many things about computers have become general knowledge and many IT related tasks are handled in-house. One of these tasks is the procurement of new computers. This is exactly the kind of thing that many people feel comfortable handling it themselves but there are perhaps a couple of pointers that may be useful before going on a shopping spree. Let’s chat about them shall we? Continue reading
Good vs Fast vs Cheap
An old friend of mine used to have a saying. If you want something good it is never fast or cheap, if you want something cheap it is never fast or good and if you want something fast it is never cheap or good. This isn’t exactly true with computers but when purchasing a new system these three things are pretty important factors. Everybody wants a fast, “good” computer for the right price. The thing is that fast, good and cheap are all relative terms. The first question everyone in the market for a new PC needs to consider is what it’s intended purpose will be. If the PC is used for basic word processing there is no point in purchasing the latest and greatest in graphics processing. And of course these things have an effect on price. When it comes to trying to get the right price however there is one things that you probably don’t want to cut back on and that is the amount of RAM (memory) you get. Each Microsoft operating system comes with certain minimum specifications. It is important to know that these specifications are not enough for a business computer. Even if the computer runs well when you first purchase it, as updates come and you install more software the requirements to keep your computer running smoothly get more intense. You can increase the amount of RAM you have later but you can save yourself the trouble and frustration of a slow computer by getting a little extra memory up front.
What is the best brand of computer?
When people are asking for a recommendation the first question they always ask is which brand of computer is the safest bet. Many people also have a story about a particular brand of computer that let them down once before making them swear off them forever. It’s important to know that any computer can have problems. There is no brand that has the patent on being brilliant. Sadly, computer faults are synonymous with computers. What is important is what happens after you have a problem. It’s all about the warranty. I recommend people look for an On Site warranty. The alternative is the Back To Base warranty which means you have to send your computer away to get it repaired. This can take quite a while and you have no computer while it’s away. Most brands have different types of warranty so make sure you ask. You will probably find what you’re looking for.
Purchasing the right software
A few weeks ago we talked about the differences between Windows 8 Pro and RT. If you didn’t catch it (then you should) then the main thing is to ensure you get the business version. Windows Home, is designed for homes. Windows Business or Pro is designed for business life. It enables you to do so many more things that are important in business networks such as connecting to network drives easily. Trying to make Windows Home work in the business world can be a nightmare and is always a disappointment. The same goes for the different versions of Microsoft Office.
I have to say I love the fact that everybody is becoming more comfortable with their IT. This is because one of the things that makes life easier for us IT guys is when people are comfortable with the systems we are trying to help out with. Often we are working with programs and processes that you, the user, is much more experienced with so (even though I know this is going to sound cliché) by working together the answers become so much easier to find.
Until next time,
In September of this year Microsoft announced the release of its new server product. Server 2012. Times like this are always joyous occasions for gadget guys like me. Something new and shiny with new, shiny features to tinker with. The interesting thing about this announcement was that it had been preceded by some very unpopular news. Only months earlier, Microsoft had announced that it was be discontinuing it’s Small Business Server (SBS) line of products. This was a very popular line of products and the decision has caused outrage in the small business community. So why would Microsoft make such an unpopular decision? And what do they expect people to do now that they have lost SBS as an option? Continue reading
What is SBS?
Making the decision to move your business onto its first server is not always a small one. For the bigger businesses out there it may be obvious but for some smaller start-ups and businesses that have grown from perhaps a single user or two it is a big step. Many small businesses still look at their IT as almost a one-off expense rather than an ongoing business investment and moving to a server-based environment is the beginning of a change in this thinking. SBS has always been a way to soften the financial impact of this paradigm shift. It includes several different Microsoft products that are useful to small businesses at a severely reduced rate and all in the one tidy package. It can manage your company’s emails, its intranet and control your user’s logins and profiles. It is also quick and easy to deploy which is what made it so very appealing to its target audience. So why would Microsoft get rid of such a popular and useful product? Simple. The cloud has rendered the need for small businesses to host these services in-house unnecessary in Microsoft’s opinion. Why would you want to host your email in-house when you could just pay a small monthly fee to have it hosted in the cloud? Why would you want to have your company’s internal website hosted locally when you can have someone do it remotely? Besides, moving to the cloud is the thing to do right? Well not according to everyone.
Why are people so unhappy?
Not everyone is pleased with Microsoft’s decision. Many disgruntled SBS users see this as a power play by Microsoft to try to force people to their Office 365 platform which is basically all of the services provided by Microsoft SBS hosted in the cloud for a monthly fee. The idea of this upsets people. Many users are concerned with the security of the cloud and have internet that is too slow to use it effectively. Many also object to the feeling of being forced onto a product they know little or nothing about. There are even reports of businesses being so unhappy they are petitioning their IT support providers for alternate, non-Microsoft based solutions to their server needs but with Microsoft’s almost total monopoly of the SBS market, alternate solutions are not easy to come by.
Is this a good thing?
Almost daily I hear one of my IT friends complaining about Microsoft SBS. It does have some inherent attributes that are very unpopular with IT professionals. This alone is not enough of a reason to drop the product altogether however I can understand where Microsoft is coming from. They have two products that essentially do the same job for the same people. Why would you spend money and resources making the same thing twice if all those products do is split your market? What business person among us could say they too would not try to consolidate them into one? But what about people’s concerns? In my line of work I talk to people about the cloud a lot. Many people have not yet made the move and many of those people have no intention of doing so in the near future. In my experience, the biggest concern people have by far is security. I find this to be an interesting concern as it has several components. When worrying about data security you need to think about protecting it from unauthorised access, protecting it from physical factors such as fire or flood and also from inaccessibility. After all, what good is your data if you can’t access it yourself? In my opinion, if you are concerned about any of these factors then you should be considering the cloud, not shying away from it.
1) Unauthorised Access: When people think about unauthorised access they usually think “hackers”. While statistically speaking this is very unlikely to happen, it is still something to think about. The thing is that most (if not all) managed services providers have already thought about it and chances are the intrusion prevention in place in their data centre is far better equipped to handle unwanted attempts to access your data better than the router in your office.
2) Physical Security: This is another factor that cloud providers have to think about as well. If you’ve ever been to a data centre you will know that they are usually in places that don’t flood, have excellent fire prevention measures, all of the servers are locked away in cabinets and they are extremely well protected from overheating by the multiple, high-powered air conditioners. Once again, this is far beyond what most small offices have.
3) Inaccessibility: An oft used argument is what if the internet goes down at my office? How will I access my data? Yes it is true. The internet sometimes goes down at your office. Sometimes for days on end. Many people mistakenly believe this means you cannot work for this entire length of time. If you have a cloud based environment, most people can get going again by using a cellular data connection such as 4G and the biggest benefit is that your customers won’t be getting all of their emails rejected. To them it’s as though you don’t have a problem at all. If your infrastructure is hosted on site then sadly there isn’t much you can do with your email until you get your internet running again. Of course, if your internet is down at the office there is always the option of working from home.
As I mentioned earlier, many people are also concerned about the speed of their internet. For many Australians it simply isn’t fast enough or the files they use are too big to really make effective use of cloud technology. This is why Freshmethod has developed a hybrid cloud solution that makes use of the best of both worlds. The finer details are probably beyond the scope of this blog post but it is definitely something worth asking about if you are considering making a move.
While the end of the SBS line of products is something that is causing concern for many people, ultimately I think it is the way things had to go eventually. Moving to the cloud is something that can seem scary at first but I truly believe that eventually it is going to be almost as common as the internet itself. It is simply a matter of asking the right questions of the right people at the right time and for many that time is now.
Until next time,
We have spoken about the NBN several times here at The Freshmethod Blog. What it is, what it can do for Australian based businesses and when it is coming. Sadly the answer to the last question is not necessarily any time soon for many of us. In the interim we are left waiting for while technology continues to advance around us and many businesses feel they are being left behind. The Internet is so heavily ingrained in today’s society that slow connection speeds are frustrating enough without knowing that it is preventing your business from taking full advantage of new, more efficient ways to do business. Today I would like to take a look at another type of Internet that can assist you while you wait for the NBN. Introducing Ethernet Over Copper. (EoC) Continue reading
What is EoC?
EoC is a lesser known type of Internet connection that is gaining popularity among businesses due to its increased speed and reliability. Without EoC if a company wanted to really step up its Internet connection speed it might have to look at something like a fibre optic Internet connection. This is a fantastic solution provided you have the budget for it. Yes, when the NBN becomes available getting a fibre connection will be very affordable but there is a reason it is costing billions of dollars to install. It is quite advanced technology and this means it is very expensive. Prohibitively so in most cases. Where fibre optic Internet uses cables made of glass tubes, EoC uses twisted copper telephone wires. Although copper is not known for being a cheap material, it does have the distinct advantage of being already installed to most locations dramatically decreasing the cost and making it a more realistic option.
When we are discussing the subject of internet connection speeds there actually two separate speeds we need to talk about; the download speed and the upload speed. The download speed of a connection is how quickly it can transfer data from across the Internet to your computer. For example, if you go to the Brisbane City Council’s website and open a PDF, that file will be downloaded from their server to your computer and how long this takes is dependant on your download speed. By contrast, the upload speed of a connection describes how quickly data can be transferred in the opposite direction so if you then wanted to save that PDF into your company’s private cloud storage site, the time it takes would rely on your internet connection’s upload speed. In days gone by, upload speeds were far less important than download speeds. This is due to the way the Internet was used. It’s primary purpose was to view information in the form of webpages. This process goes basically like this. Your computer uploads a small request to a web server asking to view the website. It then downloads the website which is almost always much bigger than the initial request so you can see how it was more important to have a good download speed than it was to have a good upload speed. In today’s always online, cloud focused society we are using the Internet very differently. We are remotely controlling our computers and constantly sending and receiving large files which means we need to be able to transfer data in both directions, quickly. EoC has the ability to give you the same up speed as your down speed. This means that while you are waiting for the NBN you have a real option that allows your business to look at technology options like moving your data to the cloud. Like standard ADSL connections, EoC speeds and availability depend on several factors including how far away your business is located from the telephone exchange. Sadly this means it is not an option for everyone.
Although EoC might not be an option for all businesses, when looking for an Internet connection that can take your business to the next level the important thing is to ask. Internet connections have become so commonplace in our society that it is easy to just assume that no expert advice is necessary or even available. After all, it’s just an internet connection, we sign up to them at home all the time. The truth however is that technology always advancing at the rate it tends to you never know what your IT professional may be able to suggest that can really give your business a competitive edge.
Until next time,
Welcome back IT fans. Do you have a terminal server? Do you know what one is? As an IT guy who works with terminal servers every day, I notice that many people do not understand them, even if they use them as often as I do. While the concept is quite simple, it is also very foreign and still causes a lot of confusion. After all it is quite a different way of working even though it doesn’t look it. So I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at terminal servers and see what they are and what they do. Continue reading
What is a terminal server?
Have you ever seen someone remotely control a computer? It is a common practice for an IT support person to take over your computer and fix an issue without even leaving their office. A terminal server works much the same way; you are remotely controlling another computer. It works like this: you are sitting in your office and you double click the icon to a program that allows you to take control of your terminal server and use it for your work. Using that program, everything you can see happening on your computer screen, be it a word document, your accounting package, or even a website, is actually happening on the server. This server could be sitting on the other side of the office or even the other side of the world. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you can control it using your mouse, your keyboard and see it all happen on your screen. The really cool thing is that you are not the only person that can do it at the one time. Everybody in your office can control the server at exactly the same time without disturbing your work. When a new person logs in with their username and password the server simply gives creates a private session just for them and they go on their merry way. This means that, essentially, everybody is sharing the one computer for their work. Neat, right?
The Big Confusion
Working in this way causes a lot of people a lot of confusion. Many is the time I ask someone “are you working in the terminal server?” and receive an “I don’t know.” back. I find that this confusion is often alleviated when people understand what they are doing. Really there is only one important rule to remember, everything you do is happening on your server, not on your computer. This means that the things you do don’t just affect you but everybody who uses the server. Imagine if you click start and then shutdown. This will not shut down your computer, it shuts down the server and the productivity of everybody using it.
What is the benefit?
To some people, doing this sounds a little convoluted. Why would you sit down at your computer just to take control of another computer and work on that? Especially if when you shut it down everybody gets shut down. Well there are several reasons. To begin with there is a flip side to the whole shutting-everybody-down problem. Because everything you do happens on the server, your computer becomes almost irrelevant. If it is old and slow, it doesn’t matter as much because it is no longer doing the work and therefore doesn’t need as much power as it used to. Also, what happens if your computer dies? Well, if you have a terminal server you just get another computer, run that same small program (which comes with all Windows programs and can be freely downloaded for Mac or Linux) and there you have it. Everything is back just the way you left it. No need to re-install programs or re-create your desktop icons. You just get back to work. You don’t even have to re-open that document you were working on when the computer crashed. It picks back up right where you left off as if nothing happened because as far as the server is concerned, nothing did happen. Terminal servers also present other advantages. For example, financial advantages (it is cheaper to perform one big upgrade on one server than it is to perform 15 small upgrades on 15 workstations). You can also work from anywhere in the world. What’s that? You can’t get to work today because your car is broken and you don’t live near a bus station? That’s ok, you can just work from home and it is just like being in the office except the coffee is better. In fact, if you have a fast, reliable internet connection you don’t even have to keep your terminal server at your office. Freshmethod host terminal servers for many companies and they simply connect across the web. This means there really is no real difference between working from the office and working from home.
As I said, your computer’s performance is less important when you work from a terminal server. As such you can use very cut down computers known as thin clients or dumb terminals. They are known by these names because they take up very little physical space and can’t do much other than connect to a terminal server. While price wise they aren’t really all that different from a new computer (not if you want a good one) they don’t get viruses, have fewer moving parts and generally cause fewer problems and confusion than trying to work from a full computer. If you are considering a terminal server then thin clients are definitely something you want to ask about, even if you just want to keep them in mind for the future.
Who can use a terminal server?
Terminal servers can be used by anyone. If you find the right IT provider you could even share one with another company. They can be locked down so that nobody can see, hear or even know about other users. They become their own private world and you don’t even have to know they are sharing with anybody. Terminal servers are that cool!
So now that you know the basics, why not ask your IT guy about them. Heck! Click on the contact us page and give me a call. I’ll tell you more about them myself! As Australian internet speeds improve and clients begin to look for more ways of simplifying their IT infrastructure, terminal servers are a technology that is really coming in to their own and providing benefits to a lot of people. Just because they are different and may seem a little confusing at first don’t let them scare you. They may be just the thing your business needs.
Until next time,
This week’s word of the week is another acronym; DOS. In the technology world DOS can actually stand for a couple of different things but for the purposes of today we are referring to a Disk Operating System. Specifically the Disk Operating System your computer uses. Many years ago when computers were still young we did not have the lovely graphic user interfaces we have today. You couldn’t point and click on a file you wanted to open because there was no mouse pointer. If you wanted to access information on a particular file you had to do so by using text-based commands to tell the computer where to go and what to do. This was done via a disk operating system. In today’s world we still use a version of a DOS from time to time commonly referred to as a DOS Prompt or Command Prompt. In fact if your IT support staff are assisting you with a network issue and is looking for information about your computer it is actually unlikely that he or she would not use a “DOS prompt” to do so. They often look complex but if you know what you’re looking for they can be very quick and powerful.
Sometimes I find it more convenient to use a DOS prompt when trying to retrieve information from my computer.
Disk Operating System (specifically) and disk operating system (generically), most often abbreviated as DOS, refer to an operating system software used in most computers that provides the abstraction and management of secondary storage devices and the information on them.
This past week Microsoft officially launched Windows 8. While there was a lot of fan fair there was not much in the way of announcements. Pretty much everything they talked about has been announced before. So why are we talking about it? Well one of the most common problems I encounter occurs when customers purchase new a PC for their network. One thing that many people overlook is that there have always been several different versions of each different Windows that Microsoft released. Continue reading
What do you mean different versions?
I have to admit I do find the need for multiple different versions of software releases to be somewhat paradoxical. When a new version of something is released the developing company actually spends time and money to dumb it down and then, after sinking all of these extra resources into the extra versus, they sell it for less. Surely, if you spend more developing a special version of your product, you then sell that product for more, right? Well, as it turns out, no. The new version that took so much more effort is actually sold for less. As I said, paradoxical. The important point is that there are versions of Windows that don’t have all of the features. Some of these features are critical, for business use. This makes choosing the right version of Windows vital as well.
What version of Windows do I need?
Windows 8 will come in four different flavours. This is less than previous versions already but even better than this, most consumers will really only have to choose between three. One version is for enterprise customers only so this will be purchased by IT professionals. The next two versions are the standard Home and Professional ones. Obviously, the home version is the toned down release I mentioned earlier. It is missing essential features for business. Features that allow you to easily connect to the network drives on your company’s server or manage users. In short it is great for home users, not so good for businesses. The last release is a special version just for running on special hardware. This version is called Windows RT and will not be available on its own. It can only be purchased pre-installed on a device. These devices will be PCs like the Microsoft Surface PC. Once again this is a cut down version and it is the version that will be used to lure customers in with its lower price. Personally I think the biggest benefit of the Surface PC is the fact that it is a laptop and a tablet all in one. Running a cut down version of Windows just seems to defeat that purpose.
How bad is it if I get the wrong version?
Fortunately, if you purchase the wrong version then upgrade options are available provided your new hardware can support it. However, the best option is to make sure you consult your IT support before committing to buy. There can be many small considerations that are specific to your business’ network that mean only your IT professionals can make the proper recommendations for you. The good news is that the new technology that is coming out now is fantastic and driven by Microsoft’s new-found innovation, you can be sure that other companies are going to start upping the ante as well which means we’re in for more fantastic technology in the near future.
Until next time,
Hello again, technology fans. Welcome back to the Word of the Week. This week we are discussing a word you may often see when surfing the web but may not necessarily know what it means. The word is applet. An applet is essentially a mini program or a program that runs within another program. Not sure what I mean? Well think about all those times you have been browsing webpages and have stumbled across a site that says you need to install a new plug-in. That plug-in is used to allow you to run an applet. Applets will usually have a very specific function as in this example. If you click on that link you may be asked to install the Java plug-in. If you do you will then be able to run The Palindrome Applet which is a small program that runs inside of your web browser. If you are looking for more examples I found this nice little collection. Enjoy!
Our web designer has written an applet that generates a histogram detailing the number people who have visited our site.
In computing, an applet is any small application that performs one specific task that runs within the scope of a larger program, often as a plug-in.
Hello there Freshmethod Universe! Finally, I’ve been given the chance to share my love of mixing technology and business with the world! I hope you’re ready!
What I would like to talk about today is the concept of ‘Information versus Data’ and why this concept is important from an enterprise IT facilitator’s point of view. Traditionally, IT people have seen “data” and businesses have seen “information” when looking at a business’ content on IT infrastructure. Unfortunately this has often led to IT people building IT systems instead of business solutions!
The concept’s name sounds pretty weird by itself I guess. Every time I want to find out how something works or what it does I break it down. And it’s pretty easy to break down three words so let’s give that a shot! Continue reading
From an IT and Business standpoint, when we say ‘information’ we’re specifically talking about information that pertains to the business. For example, the documents that you use every day aren’t just documents, they’re contracts or policies or procedures. That excel document isn’t a workbook! It’s an account or invoice! You can see where I’m going here.
Information doesn’t have to be stored in files either. It could even be an item! What about that list of items that contains contacts? That’s not just some list. That list contains pieces of information crucial to the business in the form of contacts!
Information type is determined by various attributes. For example, your contract might need to have a title, owner, signee, start date and expiration date. The attributes of that information type are ‘title’, ‘owner’, ‘signee’, ‘start date’ and ‘expiration date’. Your contact type might need a name, e-mail address and phone number. The attributes of that information type are ‘name’, ‘e-mail address’ and ‘phone number’. This becomes important later.
Looks like the other two words in this concept are at odds with one another!
From a strictly technological standpoint, ‘data’ and ‘information’ are interchangeable. Where do you stored your data? On your server or on your hard drive. Where do you store your information? On your server or on your hard drive. So how can these two things be at odds when they are technically the same thing?
The answer is, they are at odds because of that very fact! As technology and business practices continue to go through change its important for these two concepts to be distinguished from one another so that a business’ IT systems work around the business and not vice versa.
In general, IT people don’t see information. They see data. Specifically they see files or lists. It’s not a procedure or a policy to the IT guy. It’s a word file. It’s not important company contacts. It’s a list. Generally they don’t care what the files or lists are. However, this is changing and it’s only for the better!
Ok so now we know the difference between information and data. What does that mean to you? You know where and what your files are right? Let me give you an example of why this concept matters.
Let’s say that your company deals exclusively in contracts. Your information type is “contract”. Let’s make it easy on ourselves and go with our attributes from earlier to define a “contract” information type.
So, you keep your contracts in some sort of filing system. Let’s say we have a folder called clients. Underneath that we have a folder for each client. Underneath those there are two more folders for
Easy enough. If I ask you to go and find all of the expired contracts for demo company that’s easy! You just go into the folder and make a list.
Far out. It’s a bit harder to do when there are 5 companies. What about if we had 100 companies? Or 1000? You can see that quickly starts to get out of control. That’s because a traditional filing system treats information strictly as data.
This is where information management systems start to become important. What if I had asked “show me all of the current contracts that expire after June”. In the filing system, you would have to open every single one of the current contracts to find that information! It’s not practical. That’s why the IT facilitators need to stop treating these files and documents as data and start treating them like information. If the systems you use treat the data as information then you can search for those attributes like ‘signee’ or ‘expiry date’ to compile more meaningful information to the business as a whole.
Hopefully now we’re all starting to see the thinking behind the ‘Information vs Data’ concept and how our IT systems can help us manage our business information in a more meaningful way so that we can run our business smarter and faster!
Until next time, enjoy your adventures in the land of Business and IT!