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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 13th Oct 2011

Blackberry services are being restored after millions of customers were unable to access e-mail or send text messages following a power outage which began in Europe two days ago and spread across the globe to North America yesterday. 

The messaging and browsing delays experienced by Blackberry users were caused by a core switch failure within RIM's infrastructure.

In a statement, Research in Motion (RIM), which makes Blackberry devices, said: "In Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, we are seeing a significant increase in service levels. Service levels are also progressing well in the US, Canada and Latin America, and we are seeing increased traffic throughput on most services, although there are still some delays and service levels may still vary.
"Our global teams are continuing to work as quickly as possible to restore full and consistent service across all regions."

RIM's UK managing director, Stephen Bates, told delegates at the company's annual Blackberry Innovation Forum in London: "We have 70 million customers worldwide, with seven million of those in the UK. Around 20 petabytes of data passes over our global infrastructure every month. We face complexity in troubleshooting the problems."

But the blackout may have damaged Blackberry's reputation among some users and accelerated the number of business customers already intending to switch to Apple's iPhone.

Many users took to Twitter to complain about the outage yesterday, including Lord Sugar who told his Twitter followers: "In all my years in IT biz, I have never seen such an outage as experienced by Blackberry. I can't understand why it's taking so long to fix." 


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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 13th Oct 2011

Internet Threats Trends Report - October 2011

Yes, you read it right! Email-borne malware is at the highest it has been in two years. During March 2011, we encountered large outbreaks of courier-themed emails with zipped malware attachments. In August 2011 this trend continued in several enormous waves with attacks continuing throughout September.

But that's not all that was happening....

Exe spelled backwards = malware - right-to-left override used to trick users
Gap Athleta - Phony orders include convincing shopping list
Facebook friend requests lead to malware - Exploiting the hype
PHPThumb exploit - Legitimate websites used as spam-sending machines
Zombie hot spots - Brazil continues to drop, US goes back up

Download our free Internet Threats Trends Report for October 2011 to stay on top of what could be threatening your business!

Source: MXSweep

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 12th Oct 2011

Blackberry users are suffering with a 3rd day of outage.

Rim have released a statement;

BlackBerry subscribers in the Americas may be experiencing intermittent service delays this [Wednesday] morning. We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience. We will provide a further update as soon as more information is available," the statement said

Unfortinately there isn't much you can do except wait for RIM to fix the issues that have come about over the last few days.

This is not a good time for RIM as Apple launch their competing service iMessage - iPhone4S.

The hook of the Blackberry has always been BBM, now BlackBerry users have another reason to drop their legacy devices. At the press event today, Apple has launched a competing service with iMessage. It’s a new messaging service between iOS users. iMessages will be pushed to all your devices. They’re sent over 3G and Wi-Fi. iMessages can be text, photos, video, location, contacts and just like BlackBerry you can get read receipts. You’ll also be able to see when people are typing and start your conversation on one iOS device and finish it on another.


Maybe a bit of light humour...

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 6th Oct 2011
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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 28th Sep 2011

Apple has announced it will be holding an iPhone-related event at its Cupertino headquarters in Califorinia next week.

The iPhone-maker emailed the invite, pictured below, to reporters in the US. The event is due to start at 10am PST on 4 October.

While the invite does not specifically refer to the iPhone 5 - saying only "Let's talk iPhone" - gadget punters everywhere will be hoping the event finally puts the many iPhone 5 rumours to bed.

Apple's invites typically include a clue to what will be unveiled. This invite appears to give little away - denoting only the date, time and place of its forthcoming iPhone event. At a stretch the missed call alert on the illustration - and the word "talk" in its text - could indicate voice calling is a focus. Or they could just mean Apple's going to talk about its new iPhone.

On the voice calling front the iPhone does have room for improvement. The current generation of Apple's iPhone - the iPhone 4 - suffered a setback shortly after launch when it emerged that holding the edges of the device could interfere with the signal reception and lead to calls being dropped. The problem - which became known as the 'iPhone deathgrip' and 'Antennagate' was down to the design of the antenna - running around the edges of the handset.

Apple responded by updating the iPhone's software and issuing iPhone 4 owners with free bumpers, saying that using the cases mitigated the reception issue.

Natasha Lomas

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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 21st Sep 2011

Adobe has moved forward with its Flash-based strategy, announcing today Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 for creating "immersive" application experiences across devices and platforms. The announcement comes on the heels of ongoing setbacks at the hands of standards-based HTML5 technologies, which do not require proprietary plug-ins like Flash to enable the kinds of multimedia capabilities favored on today's mobile and desktop Web.

Slated to ship to desktop systems in early October, Flash Player 11 and AIR 3 will feature hardware-accelerated rendering that will render 2D and 3D graphics "1,000 times faster" than with Flash Player 10 and AIR 2, according to the company. But Adobe's real challenge may be to keep Flash relevant in a quickly transforming technology landscape.

[ For more on the future of Flash, see "HTML5 vs. Flash: The case for Flash." | For more on software development, see InfoWorld's Developer World newsletter. ]

Flash Player has already been banned from Apple's increasingly popular iOS devices, in favor of HTML5. It's also not available on Windows Phones and on BlackBerry smartphones, although Research in Motion has promised it for some time. And now that Microsoft has revealed that its tablet-oriented, Metro-style version of Internet Explorer 10 will not offer any plug-in support, HTML5 will be the platform of choice on Windows 8-based mobile devices as well. The desktop version of IE10 will continue to support plug-ins.

"Running Metro-style IE plug-in-free improves battery life as well as security, reliability, and privacy for consumers," said Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Internet Explorer, in a blog post. "Plug-ins were important early on in the Web's history. But the Web has come a long way since then with HTML5."

It's notable that Microsoft's own Silverlight plug-in, long a competitor to Flash, will also suffer at the hands of the change in IE policy.

Adobe, however, believes Flash will remain vital on Windows desktops. "We expect Windows desktop to be extremely popular for years to come (including Windows 8 desktop) and that it will support Flash just fine, including rich Web-based games and premium videos that require Flash. In addition, we expect Flash-based apps will come to Metro via Adobe AIR, much the way they are on Android, iOS, and BlackBerry Tablet OS today," wrote Danny Winokur, general manager for platforms at Adobe, in a blog post.

Winokur's blog post also stressed Adobe's own support of HTML5.

Paul Krill

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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 14th Sep 2011
Despite promising to end the IT oligopoly of big businesses, government is ignoring SMEs
The UK government is doing less business with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) than a few months ago, despite promises by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude earlier this year to end the oligopoly of big business supplying government IT and open up the market to new providers.
At the first meeting of the ‘New Suppliers to Government’ working group, put together by the Cabinet Office, members highlighted that the government’s aspiration to place 25 percent of all its business with SMEs is in direct conflict with projects such as Sir Philip Green’s ‘Efficiency Review’, which pushes for consolidation within the supply chain.
“There are two competing tensions inside the government,” said Mark Taylor, CEO of Sirius and lead for the New Suppliers to Government working group. “One of them is the Cabinet Office’s stated commitment to getting more SME involvement. However, the other drive within government is pushing things the other way.”
Two conflicting cost-cutting methods
The Efficiency Review, published in October 2010, said that the government can reduce its spending by acting as a single purchaser, consolidating its supply chain and squeezing its suppliers. “The implication of that programme is they will reduce the number of people they buy from to a very small amount of very large suppliers,” said Taylor.
While this can be an effective way to cut costs through economies of scale, it is not appropriate to every sector, added Taylor. In the case of IT in particular, a great deal of innovation is coming from smaller companies, which can help reduce government expenditure through agile processes and open source technologies.
Taylor cited the Ministry of Justice’s CIPHER project as an example of how SMEs are being elbowed out of contracts as a result of these conflicting objectives. Back in March the MoJ cancelled all freelance IT contractors supplied through SMEs and transferred them to outsourcing company Capita‘s £123 million Cipher contract.
“The solution that we are proposing is very simple,” said Taylor. “In the private sector, companies of whatever size will purchase from whichever entity makes the most sense. If it’s a commoditised service, buy it from a huge supermarket at commodity prices. If it’s a specialised service that is appropriate for the business, buy it from an SME.”
The news follows comments last week by Stephen Allott, the Cabinet Office’s crown representative for SMEs, who said that it will take up to two years for Whitehall to stop excluding small businesses from work they could do more effectively than larger rivals.
Allott was quoted in the Telegraph as saying that meaningful reforms were being rolled out, but that they would take time to be implemented. “There are a lot of things that need to be fixed,” he said.
Ending the rip-offs
Back in July, MPs on the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) released a report entitled “A Recipe For Rip-Offs”: Time For A New Approach, which revealed “obscene” overspending on IT within government departments. According to some sources, the government often pays between seven and ten times more than the standard commercial rate for IT work, said Bernard Jenkin, chair of the PASC.
However, according to Intellect, the trade association that represents IT suppliers of all sizes, allegations of anti-competitive behaviour and the suggestion of an industry cartel were “completely unfounded,” as well as being “inaccurate and misleading”.
“The implication is that leaders of public sector businesses in our industry have been involved in criminal activity,” said Intellect in a statement at the time. “As the trade body for the ICT sector, we want to make it clear that this is not the case and cartels do not exist in our industry. On the contrary, this is a highly competitive market.”
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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 14th Sep 2011



The Discus Diviner

September 2011 


Welcome to the September edition of The Discus Diviner.


The growing popularity of hosted solutions and interest in The Cloud means that, more than ever before,  businesses  need to consider carefully their connectivity and communications requirements. Hosting and Software as a Service place a high demand on bandwidth.  Traditionally the preserve of BT, new and innovative competition has emerged in the form of wireless leased lines. This month, we touch upon one customer's experience.


Email is now an indispensable means of communication. Businesses simply would not function without it. So what would happen if you couldn't access it? Would your business grind to a halt? Read below to find out how we can help you should this occur.


The IT Support Guy is enjoying a well-earned caravan holiday in Cleethorpes with his partner and pet Collie. We wish him well.




Nicola Wins Kindle



Damien Biddulph, Discus Systems' Sales Director, is pictured presenting Nicola Edden of CP Bigwood with the Kindle 3G she won in our recent competition.


Happy e-reading, Nicola!





Packington Estate chooses Discus Systems


Prominent landowner, Packington Estate, engaged Discus Systems to install a high speed Internet link at Park Farm Barns, one of the Estate's managed business complexes. Faced with the choice between a fibre-based leased line and a wireless leased line solution from Discus,  the latter was selected on the grounds of substantial savings in both cost and time to install. Discus Systems' Wireless Leased Line provides an uncontended (no sharing of bandwidth) solution.


Malcolm Wiggin of Packington Estate says


'Park Farms Barns were in need of a high-speed link to enable our business tenants to effectively carry out their business. Faced with the choice of an expensive, long lead-time fibre-based leased line, or much less expensive, wireless leased line from Discus Systems, we opted for the latter. One of the benefits of wireless is that there is a minimal impact on the environment during installation  - no digging of trenches, unsightly working and disruption to pedestrians or vehicular movements. We are very happy with our choice.'





Discus Systems' Wireless Leased Line


Twiddling your thumbs waiting for the Internet? File transfers taking forever? Losing online business because of sluggish communications?  You don't  need us to tell you your pipeline  to the outside world needs beefing up.


But before you contact BT, why not weigh up the advantages of a wireless leased line?

  • Substantially cheaper than a fibre-based leased line. For example, a 10 Mbps  circuit can be installed for just £1000 with a monthly rental that is up to 80% cheaper than a wire-based circuit.
  • Much simpler to install - days as opposed to weeks.
  • A wireless circuit is uncontended - the full bandwidth is available to you exclusively.
  • No disruption to the physical environment. Do your bit for the planet!

For further information email u2us@discus.co.uk  or for an informal discussion contact Terry or Martyn on 0800 880 3360 




Copper - once again in demand


What would you do if you turned up to find your email wasn't working? Curse Microsoft? Contact IT Support?


Perhaps. But what if some light-fingered gentlemen had thoughtlessly removed all the copper cable connecting your business to the outside world?


You don't believe it could ever happen? Neither did one of our customers until recently. Then the unthinkable happened. They turned up one morning to find thieves had ripped out the main copper cabling used for communication.

No Internet. No email.

No way they could do business. Or was there?

Thankfully, yes.

Within hours they were up and running again thanks to Discus Systems' Email Continuity solution, a standby email solution that offers virtually uninterrupted email in the event of disaster, minimising disruption to your business.

For as little as 30 pence per week per mailbox, you can protect your business from email outage.

For further information email u2us@discus.co.uk  or for an informal discussion contact Terry or Martyn on 0800 880 3360




Is your business newly incorporated?


If it is, your head will be spinning with the hundred and one things you have to do. So why make things more complicated by wrestling with your IT? What might start out as  a server, a few PCs and a bit of cabling can rapidly escalate into a logistical nightmare, involving multiple suppliers. That's why we offer Discus Systems' Flying Start solution - one party to deal with. Let us take away the stress of setting up your IT. Less time, less trouble, giving you time to deal with other things.

For further information email u2us@discus.co.uk  or for an informal discussion contact Terry or Martyn on 0800 880 3360   





Thank you for reading September's  issue of The Discus Diviner.


Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any comments or criticisms.







Terry Biddulph

Managing Director

Discus Systems plc 

In This Issue

Nicola Wins Kindle

Packington Estate chooses Discus Systems

Discus Systems' Wireless Leased Line

Copper - once again in demand

Is your business newly incorporated?

Damien's Tips 'n Tricks

The Hampton Joker



Quick Links


Back Issues:






Damien's Tips 'n Tricks 

Blackberry Tricks: 

To add accents, hold the desired letter key down and scroll up or down with your trackpad/ball.

Hold the ALT key and press the Left Shift key to lock numbers when typing. Press the Left Shift key again to unlock.

Hold the ALT key and press the Right Shift key to lock caps when typing. Press the Right Shift key again to unlock.


The Hampton Joker 

Letter from The Joker:


'Dear Tech Support,


Last year I upgraded from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0. I soon noticed that the new program began with unexpected child processing that took up a lot of space and valuable resources.


In addition, Wife 1.0 installed itself into all other programs and now monitors all other system activities such as: Poker Night 10.3, Football 5.0 and Golf 7.5


I can't seem to keep Wife 1.0 in the background while attempting to run my favorite applications. I'm thinking about going back to Girlfriend 7.0, but the uninstall doesn't work on Wife 1.0.

Please HELP!!'



Discus Systems -  providing IT support since 1997 to the West Midlands,

covering Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield, Tamworth,

Wolverhampton, Dudley, Bromsgrove and Redditch.

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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 7th Sep 2011
Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock sacked chief executive Carol Bartz over the phone yesterday, bringing to an end a tumultuous tenure marked by stagnation and a rift with Chinese partner Alibaba. Chief financial officer Tim Morse will step in as interim CEO, and the company will search for a permanent leader to spearhead a battle in online advertising and content with rivals Google Inc and Facebook.
Shares in Yahoo jumped six per cent in after-hours trading to $13.7 after closing at $12.90 on the Nasdaq. They are scarcely higher than where they were when Bartz first took the reins in January 2009 with hopes of reviving stalled growth and competing with up-and-coming rivals.
On Tuesday, her efforts were abruptly halted after Bostock called with the bad news.
"I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward," the outspoken CEO said in a two-sentence email to employees obtained by Reuters.
The turn of events surprised few Wall Street observers who had tracked a rising torrent of criticism and watched revenue growth falter and sputter out.
Some analysts said Bartz's departure signaled the company had run out of options after failing to dominate the advertising and content markets and handing over its search operations to Microsoft.
That partnership, under which Microsoft handles search for Yahoo's websites and keeps a portion of ad revenue, appears to favor the software company at Yahoo's expense.
Yahoo is still one of the most popular destinations on the internet but faces increasing competition from social networking service Facebook and from Google, which has a market value of $170 billion, 10 times more than Yahoo.
Yahoo said a new executive leadership council would help Morse in managing day-to-day operations as well as supporting "a comprehensive strategic review" to position the company for growth.
The decision to oust Bartz was reached by an unanimous vote of Yahoo's eight independent directors late last week, according to a person close to the company. Bartz, and co-founder Jerry Yang, who are also on the board, did not participate in the vote, the person said.
Yahoo has not hired investment banking advisors, but was likely to meet with various firms in the coming weeks, according to the person close to the company.
"It's hard to say what direction they are going to head. What is the next step for Yahoo? They went down the road of search, they went down the road of media, becoming a content company, they went down the road of advertising," said YCMNet Advisors CEO Michael Yoshikami. "I'm not sure where they go right now. One wonders if this means that they might be ripe for a takeover."
At least three private equity firms had reached out to at least one media firm to gauge acquisition interest two weeks ago, said a second source with direct knowledge of the approaches who declined to be identified because the talks were preliminary.
Yahoo is worth about $16 billion, with much of that ascribed to its roughly 40 per cent stake in China's Alibaba, the parent company of websites including Alibaba.com and Taobao. Yahoo also owns a stake in Yahoo Japan, along with Japanese mobile company Softbank.
Analysts estimate Yahoo's Asian assets are worth about $7-$9 of Yahoo's roughly $13 share price, based on a sum-of-the-parts valuation.
Alexei Oreskovic/Edwin Chan
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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 7th Sep 2011
Don't know what's in your application portfolio or how to get application developments funded? You're not alone, according to a survey of IT chiefs.
Half of CIOs and IT directors queried do not have a complete view of what is in their application portfolio, Fujitsu-commissioned research found, while two-thirds of respondents said they felt their applications portfolio was only partially aligned to their business strategy or was not aligned at all.
Only four out of 10 said they had the right strategy to manage their applications portfolio, while two-thirds could not provide the true cost of running applications in their business, according to the research, published this week.
The survey also found that duplicate applications are common in UK organisations, with half of the respondents describing the level of duplication as 'moderate' to 'too much'.
Although three-quarters of the CIOs and IT directors surveyed said that development and support of current applications was high on their organisation's agenda, over half still struggle to fund new application development projects.
Steve Ranger
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