Floods Cause HDD Shortages

floodThe Thai floods have had an unexpected impact on Intel’s forecasts, according to Simon Quicke’s article in Microscope.co.uk.

The floods caused a shortage of hard disc drives (HDD) causing Intel to cut its Q4 forecasts, warning investors it will miss the numbers it had previously been aiming for.

Revenue is now expected to be down to about $13.7bn.

“Sales of personal computers are expected to be up sequentially in the fourth quarter. However, the worldwide PC supply chain is reducing inventories and microprocessor purchases as a result of hard disk drive supply shortages. The company expects hard disk drive supply shortages to continue into the first quarter, followed by a rebuilding of microprocessor inventories as supplies of hard disk drives recover during the first half of 2012,” stated the vendor.

Quicke goes on to comment that the latest research from IHS iSuppli suggests that HDD shortages will lead to close to a four million unit shortfall in PC shipments on the first quarter of 2012.

Although the situation is set to improve in Q1 of 2012, the analyst house is warning that it will  take time to filter through to the supply chain, meaning it will only be in Q3 when things start to get back to normal.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

What’s a CPU?

brain

If you said it’s the big tower unit that takes up loads of space under your desk, you’d be wrong.

The CPU (Central Processing Unit), is actually a chip inside your computer that acts like the brain of your system.

Opting of the right CPU will determine how many years use you can get out of your computer, how long it takes to do things (such as open applications), and how much power it consumes.

So, all in all, it’s a pretty important chip.

Choosing the right CPU

Finding the right CPU for your needs can be rather challenging. Different ones tend to be identified by a string of meaningless numbers (or at least they appear meaningless to the vast majority of us).

So to help you out, here are a few of the basics you need to know.

1. Frequency

This number (e.g. 2.2GHz) relates to the chip’s speed. In lay terms, the higher the number, the faster the speed – and that’s good.

2. Cores

Today, CPUs tend to have more than one core. These enable your computer to carry out multiple tasks simultaneously. So for many people, a multi-core processor is the way to go.

3. Brand

As with most things in life, there are brands out there that are perceived to be better than others. Most desktops are powered by either AMD or Intel. Although one is not inherently better than the other, it’s fair to say that Intel has the lead at the moment.

These 3 terms should not be reviewed in isolation as they will all have a bearing on what you choose.

The CPU you go for will ultimately depend on how you use your computer. But it’s always best to think ahead – just because you don’t stream films at the moment doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. So it’s best to go for the best processor you can afford.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Getting to Grips with Your WiFi–How’s Your Signal?

forumIn our last post on Getting to Grips with Your WiFi, we looked at how to undertake a network survey to ensure you get the best possible signal.

But what happens if, after carrying out a full survey, you still can’t find the ideal location for your router to receive uninterrupted wireless coverage?

Well, there are a few other options available to you.

1. Upgrade your router

This is an option if you have signal everywhere, but just a bit lower in certain spots. The added range of an 802.11N router may be what you’re looking for.

2. Upgrade your router and adapters

If you’re looking for a better range with added speed, your best bet would be to upgrade both your router and adapters.

3. Repeaters and extenders

Placed half way between the router and your receiving computer, these units pick up the wireless signal from the router and retransmits it to the rest of the house. However, it’s worth remembering that they can also cut your network speed in half.

4. Extended range antennas

The theory behind these its that the antennas focus the transmission into a more direct pattern, therefore improving the strength of the wireless signal where you need it.

5. Powerline networking

Available in both wireless and wired versions, these adapters send network signals through your home’s electrical wiring to rooms that are out of range. Consisting of two plug-in units, one connects to your current router and wall socket, while the other plugs into the wall socket of another room.

6. Phoneline networking

This works in a similar way to the powerline, but through your existing phone lines in your home.

7. Second or third access point

You could also try adding a second or third Access Point (Wireless Router set to AP mode) to your network.

All of these options can be used in isolation or in combination with each other, giving you a vast range of options to find which on works best for you.

Your exact needs will depend on the layout of your home, so if you’re unsure which way to go, contact your local IT specialist who will be able to advise you accordingly.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Getting to Grips With Your WiFi

Wireless working is great…when it works.transmit

But there are times when you just want to throw your router out of the window. Your wireless signal can be affected by all manner of things:

  • The distance between your router and the receiving computers
  • The way your walls and ceilings are constructed
  • What you have in your room
  • Interference from other electronic items (yours and your neighbours)

Locating the specific problem can be a complete nightmare. But with a bit of time and patience, you can succeed without it costing the earth.

Before you go splashing out on expensive antennas, boosters and repeaters, take a look at your home and carefully consider the best location for your router.

Undertaking a network survey

1. Locations for your router

Make a note of all the possible locations for your router, bearing in mind it is usually recommended that you place your wireless router as high as possible in a central location.

Depending on your broadband service, the wiring in your house and the ability to run extra Ethernet cable, there could be several possible locations for your router. If you have DSL and your house already has phone jacks in every room, any of them could be used as potential locations. But if you use broadband through your cable company, your choices will be far more limited.

2. Identifying potential interference

Interference is one of the main causes of wireless network failures, whether it comes from devices in your home or a near neighbours’.

A prime culprit is the 2.4ghz cordless phone because they operate on the same frequency as most wireless networks. If you have one, it might be wise to replace it with the newer 5.8ghz model or older 900mhz type.

But it’s not just cordless phones, interference could also be caused by wireless alarm systems, microwaves, wireless video and audio systems, baby monitors etc.

3. Wireless laptop detective

A great way of evaluating your home before setting up your network is by borrowing a wireless laptop. This will be able to show you the signal strength of all nearby networks. You can also download and use tools such as NetStumber.

Plug your router into any electrical socket (without connecting it to your router or installing it) and it should start to transmit. Then, walk around the house, with  your laptop to check out the signal strength in different locations. You can repeat the process, moving the router to different areas to find the best location.

But what happens when you’ve tried all of that and still can’t get a good signal?

Well, that’s the subject of our next blog post, so stay tuned to learn more.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

What’s Your Mobile Broadband Performance Like?

 

mobile phoneWhen you’re out and about and need to access the internet through your mobile device, the last thing you want to do is hang around while it waits to load.

Between September and December 2010, Ofcom conducted some research into assessing the performance of mobile broadband via dongles and datacards in comparison to the performance from fixed line broadband services.

It looked at a range of performance data including:

  • Download speed
  • Latency
  • Web page download times

You can access the full report from Ofcom here (opens PDF).

Results in a nutshell

Summarising the results, the average download speed achieved by mobile broadband users is 1.3Mbit/s, with basic web pages taking an average of 8.5 seconds to download.

In comparison, average fixed broadband speeds were 6.2Mbit/s, with an average web page download time of less than 0.5 seconds. Quite a difference.

Of all the mobile operators tested, O2, Vodafone and ‘3’ offered faster average download times than Orange and T-Mobile, with O2 on average being the fastest. Plus, O2 had lower average latency (i.e. the time it takes a single packet of data to travel from a users PC to a third party server and back again) than ‘3’, Orange and Vodafone.

The research, which measured performance in areas of good 3G coverage, looked specifically at mobile networks that use dongles and datacards. Ofcom plans to cover smart phones in future research.

Food for thought isn’t it?

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

How Dirty is Your Desk?

 

masks1It’s not only computers that can be bad for your health (especially when they decide not to work for no good reason causing rising stress levels).

Did you know that your desk could be a weapon of mass destruction?

According to an article that appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times in October, our desks could be harbouring a nasty concoction of germs, which can quickly spread through staff, leading to an outbreak of sick days due to flu and colds.

The Office supplies company Viking, undertook a study of desks in hundreds of offices around the country.

They discovered poor levels of hygiene with germs in almost two thirds of computer keyboards. More alarmingly, some even had mould growing under them!

Amongst the most unhygienic office workers (or at least their desks) were computer staff, lawyers and accountants. While social workers were more likely to have mouldy food on their desks.

Plus:

  • Half of office workers were not aware that bacteria could be lurking on their keywords, phones and screens
  • two thirds of office workers said they ate lunch at their desks and didn’t clean their workstation afterwards

Commenting on the research, Dr Lisa Ackerley, a chartered environmental health practitioner said “this shows there are some very unhygienic desks right now in the UK, which is very worrying as those who work in open plan offices tend to start coming down with illnesses this time of year.”

“keeping equipment such as keyboards, phones and desks as germ free as possible is even more important during the cold and flu season.”

So, what’s your desk like? Do you eat your lunch at it? When did you last clean your phone?

This is all food for thought, especially as we head in to cold and flu season.

So, before you start work, take a look at your desk and give it a clean – it’s not just an apple a day that will keep the doctor away, a clean desk will too.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Getting Your Business Started

You probably don’t want to hear this right now, but the festive season is fast approaching, which means a New Year is just around the corner.

We all like to come up with a resolution to mark the start of another 12 months and with the current climate, many of you may be considering setting up your own business.

But where do you start?

Getting out there and doing your own thing is exciting and frightening all at the same time. It’s your opportunity to say goodbye to your boss forever. You can work the hours you want, when you want. You are in control of your destiny.

Great! But what about all the other stuff? What about being in charge of your IT all by yourself?

Getting help

There’s a lot to think about on the IT front when starting up your business – domain names, email, social media, is your computer up to the job?

So now’s the time to get the help you need. Now, we don’t normally like to blow our own trumpet here on IT Support Blog, but considering the number of people who will be looking to go it alone in 2012, we felt compelled to tell you about the Start-Up Package we’ve put together.

To help  you find your feet, we’re offering a package that covers:

  • Half hour free consultation reviewing your needs
  • Domain name registration
  • Email hosting – set-up and configuration of Outlook
  • Bullguard Anti-virus Software – set-up and configuration
  • MPMITVault Online Backup – set-up and configuration
  • PC/Laptop Assessment/Spring Clean
  • Smart Phone configuration of domain emails
  • Set-up of business social media accounts (LinkedIn/Twitter)

What’s more, you get all of that for just £200.

Sor, if you’re looking to start your own business, make sure you’ve got all the IT boxes ticked.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Understanding Laptop Processors

laptopFor those not fluent in computer-ese, working out which processor is best can be a complete nightmare. Their string of unfathomable numbers gives little clue to  the uninitiated as to which does what best.

Then, you have added problem of deciding whether to do with a laptop or a desktop? Which is likely to be the most powerful?

Well, as a general rule (there are exceptions), laptop processors or usually lower-powered than those in similar desktop machines.

This is because mobile computing usually consumes less power. Why is that important? Well, for a start you’ll want to eek out every second of battery life and you won’t want the heat from your processor to melt your laptop. Desktop’s can run larger processors because of the huge heat-sinks and fans they run. If you had all that gubbings in your laptop, your battery would be flat faster than…well, the fastest thing you can think of.

Performance characteristics of CPUs

Laptop CPUs are differentiated by several characteristics, such as:

  • Number of cores they contain
  • The Cache memory
  • Bus speed
  • Chip speed

Although you can still get single core processors, mainstream processors are now moving towards dual cores. These provide fast cache memory and bus speed (this determines how fast the processor talks to the rest of the computer). But as well as faster speeds, the different cores offer different abilities, but you’ll need to look for specialised comparison details on the laptop models to determine what they may be.

Recommendations

If all this talk about processors, dual cores and bus speeds has left you even more confused, those lovely people at Geek. com have put together some recommendations to help clear the fog.

Intel is still the ruler of the roost at the moment with its Core 2 Duo processors (far superior to AMD).

In the case of choosing a laptop, performance isn’t often a top concern, but that doesn’t make the CPU choice any easier. If you will be using it infrequently, get what you can afford. But if your laptop is to be your main machine (plus you’re planning on doing some multi media tasks and gaming), it’s best to stick with Intel’s Core 2 Duo T7xxx series.

At the end of the day, if in doubt, ask your local IT specialist. Tell them what you will want to do with the machine and whether it will be your primary computer or not and they’ll point you in the right direction.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Mobile Phone Transfer Made Easy

mobile phoneHow many times have you considered moving to a different mobile phone operator, only to decide it’s really not worth the hassle?

You’ve probably heard horror stories from friends and colleague about how long it took to get everything sorted. Life can be complicated enough without having to deal with that too.

Transferring has never been easier

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that from 11th April 2011, Ofcom have introduced new rules to make the hassle a thing of the past.

Once upon a time, it would take operators days to issue you with your all-important PAC (Porting Authorisation Code) by post. But under the new rules, you can now transfer your existing number to a new mobile phone company in just one working day.

Now, your PAC must be issued immediately over the phone, or within a maximum of 2 hours by text message.

For more information about the new rules and for tips on how to find the right  mobile phone deal for you, take a look at Ofcom’s website.

 

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Are You On Skype?

Free calls (Skype to Skype), video chats, instant messaging, conference calls, file sharing…it’s all possible through Skype. So how come you’re not using it yet?

The basic package is free so you can make that call to your brother in Australia without worrying about cost. Plus you can make calls to mobiles or landlines (anywhere in the world) cheaply with Skype credit.

It’s quick and easy to set up and you can even use it on your mobile.

Setting yourself up on Skype

To give you a helping hand, here are some instructions on how to set up Skype (PC users).

1. Go to the Skype website and click the ‘download’ button.

2. A window will appear asking you what to do next. Click ‘Save File’.

3. The setup wizard will then start. Once download is complete click on the SkypeSetup.exe file from your web browser downloads window to open the setup application. The wizard will appear and guide you through the rest of the installation.

4. Once the installation is complete you can launch Skype by clicking the icon on your desktop.

5. You’re ready to start using Skype.

Whether you are looking to use it for personal or business use, Skype is a cost effective and fun way to keep in touch with colleagues, friends and family.

Join in the conversation and download it today.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.