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Established 1987
Engineering Business Solutions



Gaz's TOP 21 cures
for faster/smarter computer use!

See below

based on observations made on our  21st birthday at Alchester in May 2008!

  • Here's some other practical areas we can help you with too......

  • No, we didn't give up all our accounting skills.......  Sure, we reached FCPA level, and we understand accounting, but we choose to assist users and the Accounting Software Industry with our computer technical services with these types of products, rather than provide accounting services.  Whether it's year end or BAS time, users may be confronted with a need to do accounting systems updates.  Whilst  as a Business and IT Consulting firm, Alchester is a Professional Partner for products like Quickbooks and MYOB, catering for small/medium business, we tend to assist accountants and bookkeepers with the TECHNICAL side of installing software, managing backups and debugging computer based issues with such products.    We are also involved with a number of specialist accounting products for corporate use.    We can provide tailoring of accounting systems to assist with business forms and related documentation to service your business.  
                  
      ...... Ask us for details on getting your upgrades sorted out.

  
  • As for Systems: YES: XP Pro is still available, and quite frankly,  still preferred until a lot of software out there becomes stable and available under Windows 7.  We've seen a number of clients running engineering, document management systems, and factory interface systems running into serious trouble before properly checking out Windows 7 compatibility issues.   These issues are predicted to confront businesses well into 2009.  Be aware that there are dual-licensed machines still available if you are in a situation where you'd prefer to stay with the same system you are used to.                                .......We can help with your migration queries.

  • Servers, backup and disk storage
    You know we LECTURE on backup..... nothing's changed!   We've been continuing to devote a lot of time over the last 12 months further developing  fast, low cost Unix based servers to hold business data, documents, drawings, email and marketing material.  Whilst of course there is the alternative of Microsoft Server 2xxx, we continue to find a lot of business needs well catered for, by using the very robust, and cost-effective Unix based systems.  These servers can handle automated backup overnight, and  additionally mirror-copy your vital business files in a sensible (24 hour delayed) fashion ensuring you can retrieve lost files, and centralise your files making it easy for all staff to share and use.   Alchester's server designs include email servers, proxy servers (significantly cutting the cost of internet download time and costs) as well as secure file servers - at a fraction of proprietary server costs.

    We have been successful in performing file recovery for nearly all our customers at one time or another - and if it wasn't for their having proper backup strategies in place by Alchester, then vital business documents would have been lost.   We often perform file recovery for our customers remotely
                              
    ...... even when on the road - now that's service!

  • Business owners are finding that a number of their staff simply need open office type products: Word Processing, Spreadsheets, PDF Document reading/creation, email and online internet browser based tools.  There are a great set of open office products and related tools these days.  Call us for information on these - they can save a lot of license fees!    Open Office software (freeware) is slowly becoming an acceptable alternative   with companies like ASUS packaging these products for business use as standard these days.    
                                   
    ..... we've been using both for years, and can show you the comparative benefits.

  • Notebooks for office, home and in between, are fast replacing desktops as the price differences narrow.  Adding smart options like docking stations and 22" external monitors, and a good reliable full-sized keyboard and mouse can make a huge difference to productivity.  These days, 15.4" wide screen, Wifi and fast 1000kbps Gigabit LAN, lots of USB slots for your camera, phone and memory stick accessories and the like, are basic necessities.   We've put a lot of notebooks through the paces over the years, and as far as functionality and capability is concerned, we keep coming back to models like this one for instance:     .... the Toshiba Tecra series

  • More businesses are creating PDF files and distributing them via their website (secure versions to clients too).   So consider our help with scanners, PDF software and the generation of commonly used documents stored on a website as a means of distribution.   Take this small upright unit for example.   This will slip about 20 pages a minute into a single PDF for you.  This one even comes with Adobe Standard license.
                                                          
    ......20ppm scanning to PDF!


  • Virus, Spyware, malware and spam - it's still growing out there, but we've been improving the way it can be combated, with improved filters on email, controls over browsing, and good tools for prevention.   We've been supporting a lot of anti-virus products over the years - but rarely do we find a product that offers support for DATA, Email, Servers, workstations and one that operates on a variety of platforms - other than just Microsoft and Unix!  Available for mail servers too!   Then there is the need to prevent Spyware contamination with some of the many leading products we are familiar with, like Spysweeper from Webroot.
    .... F-Prot anti-virus license: 10 windows PCs for only $77.00 (2008)
     
             and F-Prot offers a complete range of Unix an Windows Servers modules

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  • The emergence of  Linux and FreeBSD based workstations like the  eeePC provide a low-cost alternative to PDA or notebooks.  
                                    .....  but think how good these are for home use!


  • And what about printers these days?    Personal convenience is one of the main things, like having plenty of paper already in the printer, say 250+ pages of it.  And the convenience of having access to the printer wherever you want it - for everybody, via the network, or just locally on your own USB port -  even wireless now, all in one package! We can help you consider products with good personal use speeds,  low cost consumables  and convenience of running wirelessly, on a network or directly too.
                           ... ideal for spreading the printing load for your staff.


  • Urban Myths and Troubleshooting your computer.   We find there are a number of users of Windows based computers still falling into some housekeeping traps that are causing them to lose a lot of time with their computers.  Here's a quick list of the most common oversights for those of you that have to run Windows.....

                                               GAZ's  "top 21" most useful tips:

    * Failure to cleanup  the system folder c:\windows\temp  (monthly for most of these procedures here)
    * Cleanup your profile which has its own 'temp' sub-folder.  Most programs have to wade through this just to start/stop!
    * Delete your internet cache - this can become unnecessarily large and really slow down your internet usage
    * There is a hidden 'content.ie5' sub-folder in the   'temporary internet files' sub-folder also in your profile that needs clearing
    * Email settings must be adjusted for longer server timeout values like 5 minutes  (not the factory default of 30-60 seconds)
    *
    Incoming email attachments larger than 1Mb can invariably cause  email program  timeout errors  if the above setting is default.  

      Of course sending larger attachments can present problems for the person receiving it. Anything over 4Mb can be a problem!
    * Website access failures may not be due to your equipment/connection,  but to  the many intermediary connections.  Some
       low-cost  ISP's exacerbate this situation because they are not positioned close to the internet backbone.   Here's the full story
    * Lost contacts/favourites. User's of notebooks or those who keep their contacts,  email and internet favourites on their own
      computer rather than on a central server,  risk losing all this valuable information, and the default location of these files, is buried away in
      their 'profile' and often overlooked in terms of backup on a regular basis.
    * Unlicensed software. Users of new equipment confuse TRIAL copies of software (particularly Anti-Virus, security software) with
      genuine licensed versions.  After 90 days, many of these products stop working - so you are not protected - or you don't have the
      product to use.  Always ensure you are getting and paying for all the  products you need, including subscription items that need to be
      regularly upgraded and annually renewed.  We're familiar with many of them.
    * Software costs.  We get calls from new customers to fix bugs in software that they think they own - only to uncover the fact that

      they have no licenses or CD's, and the entire product needs to be re-purchased.  This is expensive, because many software products
      are  heavily discounted, provided they are purchased at the time of buying new hardware (what is called OEM software).  Buying
      software after 90 days, means you need to consider retail boxed product, often 50% dearer!  Even 'Upgrades" can be dearer than OEM.
    * Memory sticks (pen drives, memory disks... they have many names) can fail if you pull them in/out of your machine without telling the

      operating system that you want to safely remove the USB item!  We've seen some brands become unreadable, and even worse, unable
      to be reformatted for future use.  Also remember:   they're only a portable interim device for getting information from one place to another.
      They're NOT designed for use as backup.
    * Cameras with great MegaPixel sizes. You know, some great photos can be taken with a modest 2.1Mp or 3Mp camera, but
      today's cameras boast capabilities like 7, 8, 10 12Mp!  If you run them to the maximum, all you end up with, is huge files to store, the need
      to buy more camera memory, and greater difficulty sharing the files around on email or memory sticks.  Unless you want great magnified
      detail, the average happy-snap is quite good at a file size of only 600Kb.  And then you can email it, copy it to CD easily.  So gear your
      camera settings back to something reasonable like 2000x1600 resolution.
    * Automated security updates.  Sometimes a little too much automation can be a bad thing.  In the past we've seen
      instances where automated upgrades occurring at system shutdown, have rendered machines totally unable to restart.   So: select the
      download  but 'prompt' option, and seek advise from qualified people like Alchester, before merrily applying unnecessary updates.
    * Separate your DATA. Keep your business/personal files, photos, multimedia and databases clearly separate from your systems
      and  programs.  Upgrading and changing systems/programs can be made a lot easier if you never store data in the 'program' locations.
      And,  the ubiquitous "My Documents" would have to be the most obvious place for virus and hackers to create trouble for you.  So put all
      your work somewhere nice and safe - NOT  on drive C:.  And then you can back it up so much easier, because it is in one nice tidy
      location.   ... and yes: back it up !   Call us about splitting up your existing hard drive to have a separate local DATA area - or use a server!
    * Smarter/faster tools.  Fresh out of the box, Windows lacks of lot of tools that can make life easy for you.  Viewing pictures,
      compressing files, making PDF's,  reading long log files....  all the things you tend to do every day.....  We can advise you and show you
      some great time-saving techniques so you get more out of your computer.     Just call!
    * Power outages, particularly during summer months when there are lightning storms, can cause a lot of damage (not obvious on the

      day, but later as the damaged  machine components and software corruptions emerge).  Surge Arrestors only go so far.  But a  UPS
      power charges a  battery which in turn, produces cleaner and continuous power,  giving you time to save and exit vital work.  UPS units
      should be on your shopping list for machines you can't tolerate being off the air.
    * Desktop settings.   I'm still surprised to find users not aware of simple features like "Show Desktop", and "Quick Launch" for placing

      your top 5-10 popular programs down along the 'Start Bar' line.  Have a think about what tedious steps you take on your keyboard 
      everyday, and let us show you some smarter shortcuts to find your favourite files, programs and information.  Features like Google
      Desktop with its powerful indexing for instance, can help you locate those forgotten files, photos and emails anywhere on your system.
    * Slow computer, or not enough memory?  Sometimes this is simply due to lack of enough RAM (main memory).  It's not
      expensive -  get 2Gb, it'll make a big difference.  The trouble today, is that many machines come with preloaded software you don't need.
    * Background pictures.  Do you need that high resolution photo on your desktop as a background?  It is using a lot of computing 
      resources to refresh it every time you move the mouse.  And do you need to be running high quality 16 million coluors for everything you
      do?  You sure don't if you're running 2D  drawing, or typical office applications and accounting.  Turn off some of these needless
      features, (and particularly any screen savers!) and sport yourself a nice photo frame on your real desk instead!
    * Faster Hard Drive? Perhaps just a bigger or faster disk will help too, and in many instances,  we can transfer all your old disk
      software/settings without need to rebuild and re-license entirely new machine again.  Check this before you consider a new machine.
    * Faster Processor? Otherwise. maybe it is time for a faster box - but you don't necessarily have to  replace  everything else like
      screen, mouse, keyboard, printer and so forth.   Just make sure your problem is not one of the above issues first.  A new box   usually
      means another set of licenses, and complete setup - so the cost is not just the box.

                Sometimes you just need someone independent to guide you through all these matters,
                     and help you with the selection of special software or hardware for your business

                                                     I hope the above tips will help you enjoy your computer more!   
                                      Call me on 0408994799 to help with above.    email Gaz!

  • Communications.......     Ever wondered how Alchester stays in touch with you 24/7 - even when in the outback writing articles for Gaz's Gear?  That's because we have adapted some great mobile technology, which may be of interest to any of you that move in groups, and want to share an 'always on' communications facility in remote areas.  We have coupled a mobile router with the Telstra NextG service.  We compared technologies from a number of leading communications providers, and looked seriously at the often overlooked aspect of COVERAGE.  Most providers talk of population coverage and NOT land coverage - that's a major difference.  Call us if you have interests in remote or collaborative communications, and we can fill you in on the issues and solutions.   This technology has proven ideal for exhibitions, convoys, remote construction/mining/exploration project sites.  Sure saves a lot of telco fees!

    Alchester advises on Cable, ADSL2, Wireless-G (3G/NextG), Wifi (802.11).
      
    ... and can assist with provisioning of many of these services too.  



absoutback3,
coupled with proxy server
and various power sources.
  • and of course, there's projectors, big LCD screens, digital cameras, movie cameras, memory sticks, networking, wireless access points, PDA's .....pretty much everything except phones unless they're VOIP! 


Alchester arranges delivery and installation for any of the products listed so
just call us                      ......we'll take care of everything!

 


Contact us now!
0408 994799    (03) 9762 6293

no call centres, no waiting.......      no fuss! 
just good old fashioned direct personal help - when you need it!



Copyright Alchester Business Systems 2008
Prices shown are valid at time of publishing and are subject to change at any time.
Installation/delivery costs additional.       E&OE.


Even on the road, we help you!
gaz@alchester.com.au

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