Small business technology

Here are a number of things which can interfere with your Windows 10 upgrade, which have happened to me.
1) hardware issue – video card loose in its slot. I would like to blame the earthquakes but more likely I didn’t push down hard enough when I installed it.
I never said hardware was my thing.
2) WiMo internet switch device may be interfering with home Wifi. This was a timer ehich I use to contol lights over the net.
3) Windows install from USB does not like you to have a DVD in your drive at the same time, it confuses it.
4) (warning geek speak) Bios settings were a bit strange. These are the settings your device uses to start up and load windows. For some reason, default settings were set up for a networked environment with central control of operating system updates. I have one PC.
5) as a result of previous failed attempt to install, Windows 7 install was a recovery install which seemed to have some issues. Explorer kept crashing, but this may have been due to the DVD in the drive.
6) original usb stick I was using to create install media was too small and Windows did not correctly report this. My error message just said “Something happened” which wasn’t really a helpful troubleshooter.
7) “If anything can go wrong it will” – Murphy’s Law. Murphy must have been a computer tech.
8) Never believe you are silly to ask for help. Always feel free to talk to someone. I am a geek (but not a hardware expert). I love technology. It would have taken me forever to identify all these issues alone though. I had a friend with me while sorting this out and two heads were definitely better than one! Also if anything seems unusual, google it! It nay have happened to someone else.

All now under control and I am a happy user of Win 10. I’ve not done any formal speed tests but it feels much faster. Maybe I’m crazy but am going to do the old laptop. Don’t let me scare you. Many friends have not encountered any issues at all and even if you do, it is worth it in the end. Just back up your files and settings first. I didn’t lose any data, despite the rocky road I travelled but there’s never any promises.

2014-01-08 14.50.49

My phone has been filling up! I’ve also been using my data allowance playing music from You Tube that I already own on CD. Fortunately I have a phone which is expandable by inserting an SD  card . Check on Google if you aren’t sure if you do (IPhones and Samsung Galaxy S5 are not), most previous Samsung models and many other Android and Windows phones are.  I recently purchased such a card and have just finished loading music and shifting some applications and photos to this card. As they were only $18 AU for a 322 GB card on EBay, I have ended up by purchasing a spare for backup.  It was a simple matter to slip the card into the phone and then copy the music from my PC. What took a bit more investigation was how to actually shift functioning apps and my photo library.

The steps I followed were:

1) Shift apps

Go to Settings – Application Manager . For each application that I wanted to move to the SD card, touch the Move to SD card button

2) Ensure new photos are saved to the SD card. The first time I took a photo after inserting the card, my Camera app prompted me asking if I wanted to do so, and I just accepted this. I used the MyFiles app to verify that new photos were being saved to the SD card and a small SD card icon also appears when I use the camera.

3) Shift existing photos. First ensure that all existing photos are backed up to cloud storage if you wish to do so. Then go to the MyFiles app, locate the photos/videos (usually in a folder called DCIM/Camera) and move or copy the folder to the SD card by selecting it and then touching the menu icon (on my phone it looks like 3 dots but yours may differ). Select move or copy from this menu. Move is quicker but copy is safer as it leaves the original unchanged and you can then check the copy before going back to delete the old ones yourself.

There are many resources on YouTube and other phone blogs if you are looking for specific information about a particular phone or let me know if you need a hand dealing with this.



Phone storage settings

Phone storage settings

This will be a short post. If you are considering upgrading to Windows 10, they are introducing a new feature called WifiSense, which makes it easy to share network details. However, it also enables friends of friends to share your details. If you wish to stop this happening, you need to change your Access Point name to have _optout at the end of the name. For details click here If after you have read the article, you want to disable WifiSense follow the steps below :

To change your access point name, you need to do the following
1) Go to the admin page for your modem. If you don’t know the IP address (a long number like It is different for each make and model of router/modem so you need to look it up
2) Log in
3) Go to the wireless configuration. Update the wireless AP name and save the configuration.
4) If you used the default username and password to log on in Step 2, change the admin password for your modem/router. If you use the default password, anyone can access and change settings on your network!!!
All done!

Laptops on sale with large variety

Laptop choice

Mini PCs are an interesting concept, which I am hoping to soon explore hands on. Based on research and discussion with others, my first impressions are
– they are useful devices for applications that don’t need much computing power
– they are not good at doing more than one thing at once due to not having much main memory
– they are cheap, portable and useful in media centre type applications, such as viewing streaming videeo
– they do have USB and in some cases microUsb connections unlike some tablets
– those with microUsb connections can be used as an external drive connected to a conventional PC or laptop
For more information and some examples from PC World magazine have a look at this link
There are also some Intel branded options which are commonly available in Australia. Intel Nucs and the Intel Compute Stick are easy to obtain. Be aware that NUCs are often sold with no disk storage and memory and the user needs to complete them in these cases. If you don’t feel comfortable working on computers, negotiate a deal with a technician to do this. Some suppliers sell them ready configured.

Wanted to know more about it but were afraid to ask? In 2013, Polycom – a major provider of equipment used for video conferencing – conducted a survey into who was using the technology, what they found helpful and unhelpful and who expected to use it in the future.
For the technically minded, it is an interesting read and can be found here
For those who want a quick summary, we have prepared a short animated infographic here..

Pedestrian crossing , Caloundra, near Bulcock beach
Imagine you were standing on this road, planning a fishing trip by boat. You would first decide if you wanted to skipper the boat yourself, or if you wanted to go on a charter cruise. If a Cruise, you would look at tourist sites on the web to determine who was a trustworthy operator and maybe call them. You would know what questions to ask and maybe compare prices between the operators. You would make sure you could visit the places you want to visit. If you are doing it yourself, you would either join forces with a mate or purchase or hire a boat. You would make sure you had all the required safety and communication equipment. You would load fishing rods and food and drink. Only then would you be ready to go fishing.

Building a web site is very like planning a trip on the Sea of Technology.
Even if you don’t want to be the skipper, you need to plan and make sure you are safe and end up where you want to go. Let’s briefly look at the steps.
1) Decide how much you want to do yourself
Will you write and update the content? Will you look after changes to the site?
Are you going to build the entire site?
2) Work out how you want it to look. Draw diagrams and sketches if you want. Think about your logo and colour scheme and make sure they are consistent on everything you do.
3) Write it down. Describe everything you want as clearly and simply as you can.
4) Select your implementation partners. Make sure you have a fair payment plan. It is standard practice to pay a deposit and then the balance on completion. For a large project, multiple progress payments may be an option.
We will discuss what to look for in a web designer in a later post.
5) Build or have the site built
6) Test it carefully to see that it meets all the requirements in steps 2 and 3.
7) You have reached your destination, a new web site for your business.

Galaxy s5
Are you having issues with the sound quality on videos and podcasts that you record from your phone? Just buy an external mic compatible with your phone. This can be resolved much more easily and cheaply than you think. I’ve actually been told by several consumer electronics stores that no such device exists but being a stubborn software engineer, I hunted one down. I now own a Rode mic which travels everywhere with me and can make videos on the fly without others finding them hard to hear. This is what I chose (Rode SmartLAV+)
(because it was on special) Other brands and types may be better value at other times so check up but make sure that it is compatible with your phone. Most phones require a TRS connector. That’s the one with the three rings on. For more on connectors, look here
Once you have one with the right connector, it will usually work with most phones. I’ve tested mine with an Android Samsung Galaxy S5 phone. The two videos above are an illustration of the benefit. Note that 2 is much clearer, while 1 is fuzzy. That’s the difference!

On a recent business trip, I was away from a power point most of the day. Unfortunately, the external battery pack I chose to take for my phone was a light weight one which started playing up during the trip. So, it was touch and go. The following tips and tweaks helped me make it home without running out of battery (though I only had 7% to spare)

1 Check what is using your battery

Does your phone let you view what is using your battery?
If so, use it! The prime suspects in my case were not the guilty parties. I blamed a GPS based app I’d downloaded to track public transport in the area I was visiting.
As it turned out, the main user was the screen application.
Look at your phone’s settings and look for something like Battery or Battery usage. On IOS 8 or above or on Android devices, you will find a page which lists the top users of your device battery. Detailed instructions on how to do this can be found here for IOS
and here for Android

2 Check your screen settings
In my case, the screen was set quite bright and setting it to auto-adjust itself significantly reduced its power consumption.
3 Check the other top power consumers
For each one that you judge as significant, consider if you need it to be on all the time. Maybe you can shut the app down and just open it when needed. If you use it a lot, examine its settings to see if there is anything you can change. Does it constantly “phone home” to check for updates etc? If so, that could also be eating into your mobile data allowance. You might want to turn that off or increase the interval between checking.
In my case , I changed the location method on Facebook. Again, GPS and location services are often responsible for high battery use so they are always worth checking.
4 WiFi and Bluetooth
Are these on? If so, do you need them? In particular, if WiFi is on and you are not near an access point, your phone will be constantly looking for one. It is well worth turning it off when you are not planning to connect.
I turned WiFi off and now keep it off unless I’m at home or near a hotspot and want to connect.
5 Power Saving Mode
Some phones have a power saving mode. If you really need to preserve battery until a power cut is over or you get home, these restricted modes are effective.

Without using power saving mode, I’m now getting several hours more out of my phone with the same usage. I haven’t noticed any unwanted effects so far, such as finding it hard to read the screen because of auto – brightness. I did use the ultra power saving mode to make sure I lasted the day on Monday and it did prove effective.

Phones on sale

If you are trying to schedule posts and they show up at weird times, it is most likely a timezone issue. Hootsuite defaults to a Canadian time zone. You can change it to your local time zone in settings.
Here’s how

tablet with keyboard

Tablet and keyboard

Kids are heading back to school and uni, so a huge array of “back to school” specials are everywhere. If you have kids, you have no doubt outfitted them everything from shoes and uniforms to IPads or tablets. But what about your business? Are sales tempting you to buy? If you ask yourself the right questions before you shop, you are much more likely to make the right choice. And now, the top question to ask.
Does it solve a problem for me?
Being tempted by the latest shiny new thing is very understandable but you won’t find it helpful in your business unless you know how you are going to use what it does. I’m lucky being in IT because I can sometimes get around this by claiming I need to research and understand a new thing. Before you buy something for your business, know how it will work in your business. Think as if you were interviewing an employee. Will this electronic “staff member” be a good fit?
A final tip, if you aren’t sure, ask an independent expert. We can help if you need advice.

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