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Working from home

POS SOFTWARE

 

With our point of sale, there is a range of solutions for remote working. There are many advantages to doing so for one thing it saves time. You do not have to travel to work to get the information you require, and you can work whenever. The other now is that it increases social distance.

Also, it may be very useful now to set up cloud computing or VPN because if you have staff that can work from home, I am sure that they will appreciate it too.

 

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Webcam

POS SOFTWARE

 

We all this virus running around, I think many of you are going to find that many schools, suppliers and others are going to be using video conferencing rather than sending people out. Besides being more time effective and cheaper, it also means less social contact.

For most of them, your smartphone is fine, most laptops have an inbuilt camera and microphones already set up. I prefer the laptop as its a bigger picture.

If you wish to use a computer you need to purchase a Webcam and Mic which will clip onto your computer and allows you to see on video and chat face-to-face over the Internet in real-time. 

* Although I suggest that you make sure its resolution on standard is at least 640 pixels by 480 pixels nowadays for very little more you can get a high definition (HD) video, with 1,600 pixels by 1,200 pixels so I would say an HD.  

* The higher the megapixels the better. 

* Look at the frames per second (fps),  lower fps rates will create problems including jumpy videos with out-of-sync audio. I would recommend looking at nothing less than 30 but more is better. Over 60 fps its overkill.

* I find built-in microphones better than headsets. It is less restrictive.

* Low-light sensitivity can be very useful as often we tend on my computer to work in low light so the light is often not the best

* You need a decent internet connection speed but most of us have that now anyway. 

 

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Internet speed

POS SOFTWARE

Does not matter how fast the internet goes, we all want more speed.

No two places are the same.

The problem is that today we have in Australia seven different nbn connections and your internet speed depends on what connection you do have, how many people are on the internet in your area and the distance that you are to the fibre cable.  Now it is slowly getting to be only fibre as most of the copper is gone. 

If you want to know what type of internet connection you actually have and your options click here.

If you want to test your internet speed click here.

As a rule, I would say that a modern business needs a broadband download speed of 40Mbps (megabits per second). What you need to check is a few times in the day as it changes eg morning, lunchtime and evening.

We had a client that tested their connection and then they complained. It was discovered that some of the internet wiring was corroded, and once that was fixed the problem went away.  So it pays to check.

 

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Some tips to save costs on a computer repairs

POS SOFTWARE

Point of sale systems is excellent, till something goes wrong. Then for some reason, people seem to lose all sense of reason and proportion. The fact is that they are all mechanical devices and all of the parts will sooner or later fail and everything will be replaced. I know we run a comparatively big computer repair business.

If your computer or one its components are not working or acting very strange. Here is a simple checklist you should try before doing anything.

1) The first question to ask yourself, is it used to work, what has changed now? If you can think of that something, check that. 

2) Make sure that nothing is stuck down, and it looks like it should work, is the computer keyboard keys stuck, is the paper free on the printer if the printer is the problem, etc. Try to isolate the problem to find *the problem*.

3) Switch off the part and wait a minute, use the time to take some deep breaths. Now switch it on and test it. 

If that does not fix it, try switching off everything the computer and the part, wait a minute and then switch them on again and test it.  

4) If that does not fix it, check the cables from the part to the computer, check the cables to the part/computer, often the problem is a cable is not incorrectly. They are loose and then came out a bit.

Check the connections of the wires, if they are not firmly in, that may be the problem. Give them a push.

5) Even if you have not found anything here, I would suggest that you turn everything off and wait for a minute and try again, sometimes a miracle happens, and it works.

By now, I would say about 3/4 of all problems are solved but if you are now and it is still a problem, well the reality is that there are numerous ways that your system can break down and malfunction and it depends on your level of computer skill on how much you can fix.

If you have the time and you want to get hands dirty you can put the problem into Google, and ask for some troubleshooting assistance be careful even with an experienced technician, the challenge and expenses can quickly snowball. 

If the problem is still there, then its time to give us a call or your hardware supporter. If so note:

What exactly is the error
If possible write down the errors or take a photo of the error.

How do you get the error
The hardware engineer first instincts will be to try to reproduce the error in his mind. So how did it happen? Was there anything happening when the error appeared, does it come and go, etc 

Make sure you have a backup
 

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Backup

POS SOFTWARE

Yesterday, one of our clients went down, and they had no backup. We had to rebuild the hard drive and managed to get most of it back. Then after patching, we managed to get them going.

Every site without exception should have a backup. There was a court case where the judge ruled that backups are the user's responsibility, and it not done it is misuse.

Okay, why should you backup here would be a few reasons?

- A computer is a mechanical device; any part of it can fail and go down. 

- A virus/ransomware can wipe out your computer. Our clients get now about one major attack a week.

- You accidentally destroyed your information

- Power surge, I have seen computers fried.

Along as you have a backup, we can put together a computer, send it out to you, and you can often be running the same or next day.

Here are four rules for backup

- Make sure you are doing *regular* backups, we have had to sometimes restore people with old backups as such they lost their records for several days of trading. 

- Make sure you have at least one backup secure in another physical location, e.g. home, you never know what can happen to the shop, e.g. fire.

- Do not rely on "the cloud". The cloud is simply someone else computer, and it can go down too, for peace of mind, I would strongly recommend that you have a physical copy.

- Make a cloud backup, cost nothing with our system, and it is fastest and convenient to use.

 

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Disable End of Support Notifications in Windows 7

POS SOFTWARE

A few of our clients have some old Windows 7 and other older versions of Windows and have no plans to upgrade them. What is happening is that Microsoft is starting to send them advertising messages that they are out of support. These will not stop, in one form or another, I expect that every one of these older computers to keep sending you this message. It can get irritating as you have the word already how long does it keep having to be repeated?

If your planning is to stay with Windows 7 on some computers, this here is how to get rid of these messages.

 

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Windows 7 support ends today

POS SOFTWARE

Microsoft has ended support for Windows 7 today. It is our strong recommendation and just about everyone in the I.T. industry that you now plan to move to Windows 10. In particular, we strongly advise that you do not use a Windows 7 computer for internet banking, email, surfing the net and processing EFTPOS transactions. 

If you must use a Windows 7 computer, please be aware that you need a new antivirus package as on Windows 7, your Windows Security Essentials is almost dead.  What Microsoft will do is support and rollout malware signature updates for the next three years, but that is only like a third of what it used to do,

Most computers can be updated to Windows 10 at no or little cost but please contact us before attempting to do this as some computers and some of your devices may have problems.

 

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Digital signage advertising and Old computers

POS SOFTWARE

With Windows 7 going, the question many are asking now is what they can do with their old computers?  

What do you do with them and no-one wants them!

What we used to use them a lot was as backup data storage units. Now almost all these and have been replaced by cloud backups which work better and cheaper — my costing of what in a point-of-sale environment, computer costs see here.

Well here is a use that they can be used for is advertising. 

Have you noticed that printed signs and posters are now rapidly being replaced by computer screens? 

The software for creating a digital signage system used to require expensive specialist software, now there are many software slideshow software available that can do it or if you wish many photographers will make you a professional one at very reasonable prices.

I think it is better to learn to make it yourself and they are now not hard to make, besides being a lot of fun it is advantageous to create one. It is one of those things that is not hard, but you need to spend a few hours to do it as there is much to learn.

What a slideshow software does it take many still photos, which any smart camera now can take and entertainingly displays them one after another one after another in a video.

You will need to be about 5 to 20 minutes, and I would recommend about 5 minutes as each still photo is displayed in retail for about 5 to 6 seconds. Each picture has a gap of about 1 to 2 seconds. This is all very approximate as I find that often each photo demands a different amount of display time. If you are trying to present an intricate image, you may need much more, if you are trying to say, "We have tons of greeting cards," then you may want less time for each image. So as such, you need about 45 photos. Many you can get from the supplier, but I doubt its worth the hassle. Walkthrough the shop after it has a clean. Carry around a black sheet of paper to put products on it and go with your modern smartphone taking high-quality photos, the higher the quality, the better. As you will probably be rejecting about 75% of the images, you take, you need about 160, which should take you about 30 minutes of your photoshoot — trying to take each photo in some reasonable order. It makes it easier later. Otherwise, you will need to sort to get them into some logical order. Now put these images on your computer, and go through and delete the ones you do not want. Be ruthless as you can always go back and get some more. This is one significant advantage an amateur photographer has over a professional photographer; the amateur can go back and get more photos if required.

I do not recommend adding sound in point of sale environments, as it will drive you crazy hearing it repeatedly the same tune although I do admit that it does work and attract people. 

Take your video, mount it on the old computer which is somewhere in the shop, and let it play on the old monitor or better still an old digital TV and run your slider show which will advertise your products and services. 

You will not be sorry with the results.

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Bushfires and cloud backup

POS SOFTWARE

 

When I talked to one of my clients who was close to the fires, what did help a little was that their data was in the cloud. Years ago, we often saw in such emergencies merchant would stay in the shop and do a backup before running.  Nowadays although doing the onsite backup is a good idea, the urgency was not there. 

With us, unlike many other Point of Sale providers, cloud backup is free!  

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Cloud_storage

Data has always been essential to business, in the olden days' Australian bushrangers used to threaten to burn shop keepers books, unless they got paid. It was not a small threat as most shops depended on farmers on lived on credit.  

Data is still essential, and although few want to discuss ‘disaster’ in today’s world as these bushfires show your data is under constant threat. Imagine how your business would run without essential banking, customer and inventory data? Computers can be replaced, data cannot be replaced.

There are many advantages for you to do a cloud backup.

1. Access: You get access to your data wherever you have internet access. For example, you can access your company's data from home, overseas on holidays, etc.

2. Reliability: If anything is wrong with your regular backups, you have an emergency set online.

3. Easier to use: Because it is automated, there is less to remember or do, often it can be set up, so it is entirely automatic.

Two significant disadvantages to consider are:

1. The Internet: It will chew up a fair amount of Internet usage. Often people report that it slows down their system. If so, we may need to see what we can do.

2. Size limitations: If your data file grows too big, you may find your backup suddenly stops.

3. Check: You need to check regularly that it is working.

We have put together here a document that can show you how to set up a free cloud backup. Please click here.

Bernard,
What cloud storage do you suggest for backups close to 10GB? My backup file is 9.2GB so I assume it will not be too long before i have potential issues with uploading a file this size. What impact will the compression process have on this file size?
Cheers

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Next week Wiindows 7 support ends

POS SOFTWARE

Windows 7 end of life popup

Next week, on 14/January/20 Windows 7 users will start getting pop up reminders from Microsoft like the above that this version of Windows is no longer supported and that its life is up

If you decide to keep going with Windows 7, we want you to be ready, so we’re reaching out in advance to give you time to prepare.

As Microsoft will no longer provide you with security and software updates, we would recommend that you change your antivirus software.  Two I recommend you look at are Avast and 360 Total Security 

Both are very good and have a good track record for keeping older Windows versions supported.  

However, without the monthly Microsoft security updates, you will no longer be protected against Hardware and Operating System attacks and you will be wide open to any new 0-Day attacks which is why we recommend and just about everyone else in the computer industry that if you are still running Windows 7, that you update to Windows 10.

Please note that many computers now that can run Windows 7 can also run Windows 10.

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