Discus Systems PLC - IT Support Company in Birmingham West midlands
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Posted by Graham Keen on Tue 21st Jun 2011

 

 

The Discus Diviner

June 2011 

 

Welcome to the June edition of The Discus Diviner.

 

This month, we touch on the problem of what to do with those old PCs.  The IT Support Guy finds himself back in school and gets a shock, and Damien offers some tips on how to secure your Blackberry.

 

And we announce 'Fast Start', our service for newly incorporated companies and those moving offices.

Next month, there will be an opportunity for you to win a Kindle 3G! Don't miss the July edition!

 

 

 

The IT Support Guy

  

It's a long time since Victor last set foot in a school. Memories of sweaty feet, bleach, and long echoing corridors flooded back the instant he crossed the threshold of Crow Lane Primary.

 

His company recently signed a contract to support the school's servers - quite a coup as it was in competition with the Local Education Authority. Apparently the headmaster hadn't taken too kindly to the news that the LEA's IT support function was to be outsourced offshore.

 

The call came through first thing that morning, from the panicky school secretary. None of the computers could access the internet.

 

'What's that, mate?'

Victor turns round and looks into the face of a boy, blue eyes big as golf balls in the lenses of his black-framed spectacles. No higher than Victor's waist, the kid's gelled hair sticks out like Dennis the Menace.

'This?' Victor opens his hand, revealing the Blackberry.

'Yeah.'

'It's a phone.'

The kid's eyes narrow. 'No, it isn't. Phones don't look like that.'

'This one does.'

'Has it got a camera?'

'No.'

A smirk crosses the kid's face as he takes an iPhone 4 out of his pants pocket. 'Mine does. Five megapixels. Can yours do this?' He turns the phone in his hand and the image on it flips from portrait to landscape.

'No,' says Victor.

'That means it hasn't got a three-axis giro.' He leans closer to Victor. 'What are you doing?'

'Fixing your school's server - that's this big computer. There's a problem with the internet.'

'There's nothing wrong with the internet.'

'Excuse me?'

'It's Mister Fiddler. He changed the IP address of the gateway. I tried pinging it from my laptop but it wouldn't.'

Victor's jaw heads for his chest. 'You know about pinging?'

The kid's eyebrows knot like spaghetti. 'Who doesn't? Except maybe Mister Fiddler.''

'Look, who's  Mister Fiddler?'

'He's the Headmaster.'

 

NEXT MONTH: Victor goes to the Villa

 

 

 

Dains wins coveted award  

 

A key customer of Discus Systems, Dains Corporate Finance, was presented with the coveted 'Deal of the Year' award at this year's East Midlands Dealmakers awards dinner for acting as lead adviser on the investment in Nottingham-based  Trekmates, a manufacturer of outdoor clothing.

 

The dinner, promoted by Insider magazine, showcases and celebrates the outstanding achievements of the region's professional community.  The awards are voted on by accountants, lawyers, investors and bankers from across the Midlands region.

 

The winning deal, which was completed in early 2011, was led, structured and managed by Dains and saw Enterprise Ventures invest alongside debt facilities from Coop Bank as part of an £8.7m deal.  

 

The deal was declared by the judges to be 'the clear winner this year'.

 

 

 

 

Any old iron?

The original PC, the IBM 5150, was introduced to the world on August 12, 1981.

 

In June 1997, a mere 16 years later, a study titled Disposition and End-of-Life Options for Personal Computers predicted that nearly 150 million computers would be recycled by 2005, a goodly proportion ending their life in landfill.

 

Given the rate of change computer technology experiences, a huge number become obsolete each year. This growing number of end-of-life machines has become, and will continue to be, a disposal problem.

 

Thankfully, there is a solution.

 

Companies like Birmingham-based Environmental Computer Recycling and Removals Limited are dedicated to collecting  and recycling computers and other electronic devices.

 

Environmental's Glenn Wallin says, 'No longer can you simply throw an old PC or printer in a skip. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations mandate hazardous materials and components are removed from the equipment and separately treated, in accordance with prescribed standards and procedures. We ensure those standards and procedures are followed.'

 

 

 

 

Discus Systems announces 'Flying Start' 

Newly incorporated companies and those making an office move can take advantage of 'Flying Start', another of Discus Systems' innovative service offerings.

"Computerisation of a new office can present a challenge even to an established business," says Dayle Biddulph. "There are so many suppliers involved that it needs an experienced hand to project manage the installation. The last thing a company wants is to be a progress chaser. Having moved ourselves only last year, we know from experience how to handle a project in the most effective manner."

For further information please email us at u2us@discus.co.uk 

 

 

 

Discus Systems: About Us  

 

Discus Systems was founded in 1997 to meet the demand from small and medium-sized businesses in our local area for IT support and service. Originally based in Coleshill to the south-east of Birmingham, in 2010 we expanded beyond the capability of our offices and moved to prestigious new premises in Hampton in Arden, Solihull. From here, we are ideally located to solve computer problems for both new and existing customers in  Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield, Tamworth, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Bromsgrove and Redditch. 

 

The ethos of our company is based on the philosophy of Terry Biddulph, founder and Managing Director:  

"Many of our customers have been doing business with us for as long as I care to remember. They value our commercial flexibility, high quality day-to-day support, expert project delivery and well-considered strategic advice. What matters to them is the same as what matter to us; the provision of a responsive service for solving their computer problems that represents excellent value for money.

For small businesses that rely on the internet and information technology, the challenge is one of balancing competing interests. In a tough economy, 'a penny saved is a penny earned'. At Discus, we constantly look for ways to save our customers' money without compromising quality. A recent example is our hosted telephony service. By employing this we can guarantee a saving of 15% on their call charges, with an annual 30% saving on their telephone bill a possibility.

In order to do this we have to keep abreast of a rapidly changing technology, and use our experience and judgement of what is good and what is not. That is why people are happy to deal with us. They trust in the advice and guidance they receive. We are happy to do this as it brings benefits to both parties."  

Discus Systems provides a wide range of supporting services for IT, from installation, communications, networking, security, telephony, to onsite and remote support.

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

Sincerely,

 

Terry Biddulph

Managing Director

Discus Systems plc 

In This Issue

The IT Support Guy

Dains wins coveted award

Any old iron?

Discus Systems announces 'Flying Start'

Discus Systems: About Us

Damien's Tips 'n Tricks

The Hampton Joker

 

 

 

Quick Links

  

Back Issues:

  

  

  

 

 

Damien's Tips 'n Tricks 

How to secure your Blackberry

A) Press the "Blackberry Button"

B) Next go in to Options

C) Scroll down to Password

D) Select "disabled" and then click "enable"

E) Enter a password and then enter again to confirm it

F) Save... and it will be enabled

 

You're now a little more secure than you were yesterday!

 

The Hampton Joker 

 

 

The Joker:  My keyboard's not working anymore.

Tech support:  Are you sure it's plugged into the computer?

The Joker:  No. I can't get behind the computer.

Tech support:  Pick up your keyboard

and walk 10 paces back. 

The Joker:  OK.

Tech support:  Did the keyboard come with you?

 The Joker.:  Yes

Tech support:  That means the keyboard isn't plugged in.  Is there another keyboard?

The Joker:  Yes, there's another one here.  Ah . . . that one works . . .

   

******************  

 

The Joker: I'm having a problem with my printer.

Tech support: Are you running it under Windows?  

The Joker: No, my desk's next to the door, but that 's a good point. The chap  sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his printer is working fine.

   

 

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Discus Systems -  solving computer problems throughout 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 Tue 21st Jun 2011
It's a long time since Victor last set foot in a school. Memories of sweaty feet, bleach, and long echoing corridors flooded back the instant he crossed the threshold of Crow Lane Primary.
 
His company recently signed a contract to support the school's servers - quite a coup as it was in competition with the Local Education Authority. Apparently the headmaster didn't taken too kindly to the news that the LEA's IT support function was to be outsourced offshore.
The call came through first thing that morning, from the panicky school secretary. None of the computers could access the internet.
'What's that, mate?'
Victor turns round and looks into the face of a boy, blue eyes big as golf balls in the lenses of his black-framed spectacles. No higher than Victor's waist, the kid's gelled hair sticks out like Dennis the Menace.
'This?' Victor opens his hand, revealing the Blackberry.
'Yeah.'
'It's a phone.'
The kid's eyes narrow. 'No, it isn't. Phones don't look like that.'
'This one does.'
'Has it got a camera?'
'No.'
A smirk crosses the kid's face as he takes an iPhone 4 out of his pants pocket. 'Mine does. Five megapixels. Can yours do this?' He turns the phone in his hand and the image on it flips from portrait to landscape.
'No,' says Victor.
'That means it hasn't got a three-axis giro.' He leans closer to Victor. 'What are you doing?'
'Fixing your school's server - that's this big computer. There's a problem with the internet.'
'There's nothing wrong with the internet.'
'Excuse me?'
'It's Mister Fiddler. He changed the IP address of the gateway. I tried pinging it from my laptop but it wouldn't.'
Victor's jaw heads for his chest. 'You know about pinging?'
The kid's eyebrows knot like spaghetti. 'Who doesn't? Except maybe Mister Fiddler.''
'Look, who's Mister Fiddler?'
'He's the Headmaster.'
 
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Tue 21st Jun 2011
The internet's primary governing body today approved the expansion of new top-level domains - one of the most dramatic changes in the internet's history.
 
During a special meeting in Singapore, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) voted to dramatically increase the number of domain endings from the current 22, which includes the well-established .com, .net and .org. The move will allow domains to end in almost any word, allowing companies to turn their brands into internet extensions.
 
"Icann has opened the internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination," Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive officer of Icann, said in a statement. "Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new top-level domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind."
 
Steven Musil
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Tue 21st Jun 2011
Phishers posing as computer security experts are targeting individuals and businesses to steal money and install malicious software on their computers.
 
In a survey of 7,000 people, 15 per cent across the UK, US, Ireland and Canada reported receiving a call from scammers, Microsoft said on Thursday. Of these, 22 per cent had been deceived by the phishers and so lost money.
 
"The scam works by criminals posing as computer security engineers and calling people at home to tell them they are at risk of a computer security threat," Microsoft said. "The scammers tell their victims they are providing free security checks and add authenticity by claiming to represent legitimate companies and using telephone directories to refer to their victims by name."
 
Jack Clark
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 15th Jun 2011

Tuesday 14 June 2011

We’re not sure this is worth 20 years of IT frustration, world tells Bill Gates

As the Bill Gates Foundation continued towards its stated aim of providing vaccinations for every child on the planet, computer users everywhere have admitted that even that might not be worth twenty years of tear-inducing computer frustration.

The Gates foundation has pledged $1 billion towards vaccinating the world’s children, raising the eyebrows of every Microsoft user on the planet.

Analysts have said that the billions extracted from computer users across the world could perhaps have been spent making products that didn’t fall over every ten bloody minutes.

Long time Microsoft user Dave Michaels told us, “I get it, I really do. He’s doing a really nice thing with all the money he’s made from people like me.”

“But then I think back to that time in 1998 when I missed my cousin’s wedding because Word crashed on a Friday afternoon, losing all my work, and I had to come in at the weekend to do it all again – and to be honest I’m not sure helping a few million kids stay alive is worth that.”

“There was a free bar.”

Gates Foundation

Another life-long Microsoft user told us, “I like kids as much as the next man, but remember that these are kids on the other side of the world, and Excel has been a pain in my arse for well over ten years – so I’m kinda torn on the subject.”

“It’s not even like he thanked us. He could have said ‘your computer died so this child could live’ – at least we might have understood that.”

“But I wouldn’t ask the opinion of anyone who paid cash money for Windows Vista, I think they’d happily see an entire continent full of corpses for the promise of never seeing the blue screen of death ever again.”

“I think the choice between a cheap product which works, but which leaves a few dead babies in its wake, and an expensive product that doesn’t work but saves a few kids along the way, would give the modern IT department several minutes of tough deliberation.”

“Well, at least until the latest budget cuts came along, anyway.”

 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 14th Jun 2011
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Mon 13th Jun 2011
IBM has raised the stakes in the graphene arms race, by creating a complete integrated circuit out of the remarkable form of carbon.
 
On Friday, the company announced its researchers have used wafer-thin graphene to build a broadband frequency mixer circuit. This near-ubiquitous circuit handles many tasks — translating a radio signal into an audible voice on a mobile phone, for example. The researchers demonstrated the circuit at up to 10GHz, and showed this level of performance was stable at up to 127°C.
In April, IBM unveiled a graphene transistor that it recorded running at 155GHz. This was an increase of more than 50 percent on the previous year's 100GHz effort, and outperforms by far anything silicon can do.
"Designed for wireless communications, this graphene-based analogue integrated circuit could improve today's wireless devices and points to the potential for a new set of applications," IBM said in a statement.
"At today's conventional frequencies, cell phone and transceiver signals could be improved, potentially allowing phones to work where they can't today, while, at much higher frequencies, military and medical personnel could see concealed weapons or conduct medical imaging without the same radiation dangers of X-rays," the company added.
Graphene characteristics
Graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, was first isolated less than a decade ago. Its characteristics turned the future of electronics on its head: its strength, thermal, optical and electrical properties are unique, and could lead to smaller, faster and less energy-hungry electronic components. The thermal stability alone means circuits can be kept simple, with no need for a complicated design to compensate for problems caused by heating.
However, graphene can be tricky to work with. In a paper published on Thursday in Science (PDF), the researchers explained that the major challenge in integrating graphene in circuits was getting it to adhere to the other metals and oxides — such as gold — involved in building a chip. So they took a new approach and grew the graphene directly onto a silicon-carbide wafer.
The researchers annealed silicon-carbide wafers, forming layers of graphene on the surface. Making the circuits involved "four layers of metal and two layers of oxide to form top-gated graphene transistor, on-chip inductors and interconnects", IBM said.
In an interview with IEEE, Keith Jenkins, one of the scientists involved with the work, said graphene is also easily damaged by the standard etching process used in creating circuits. To deal with this, the researchers coated the graphene with a polymer called PMMA, which protected the graphene they needed for the circuit.
The method will work with existing optical lithography, IBM said, and can be applied to graphene films created by chemical vapour deposition. This means existing fabs would not need massive revamping to start using graphene in earnest.
Jenkins told the IEEE the 10GHz speed recorded for the newly announced circuit is not the limit, saying that the design is merely a proof of concept. "Ultimately, we should be able to go a lot faster," he said.
 
Lucy Sherriff
 
 
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Mon 13th Jun 2011
Last week's revelation that the iOS 5 developer-only beta release contains pointers to new iPhones and iPads was followed this weekend by the next Apple smartphone is currently in "final testing".
 
That, a "previously accurate Apple source" told website 9to5Mac, indicates a September iPhone release date.
 
Other sources made the same claim just recently.
 
Will it be the iPhone 5 or the iPhone 4-something, a tweak to match the upgrade from the 3G to the 3GS? The mole doesn't say beyond referring to the "next-generation iPhone".
 
That's what Apple would call a souped-up iPhone 4 in any case, but with the simultaneous release of iOS 5 - which Apple has publicly stated will ship this coming autumn - Apple will probably call the handset the iPhone 5 no matter what
 
Tony Smith
 
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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Thu 9th Jun 2011
A) Press the "Blackberry Button"
 
 
B) Next go in to Options;
 
 
C) Scroll down to Password;
 
 
 
D) Select "disabled and click enable;
 
 
 
 
E) It'll ask you for a password and once again to confirm it;
 
 
 
 
F) Save... and it'll say enabled!;
 
 
 
You're now a bit more secure than you were yesterday!
 
 
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Posted by Graham Keen on Wed 8th Jun 2011
It's a long time since Victor last set foot in a school. Memories of sweaty feet, bleach, and long echoing corridors flooded back the instant he crossed the threshold of Crow Lane Primary.
 
His company recently signed a contract to support the school's servers - quite a coup as it was in competition with the Local Education Authority. Apparently the headmaster didn't taken too kindly to the news that the LEA's IT support function was to be outsourced offshore.
 
The call came through first thing that morning, from the panicky school secretary. None of the computers could access the internet.
 
'What's that, mate?'
Victor turns round and looks into the face of a boy, blue eyes big as golf balls in the lenses of his black-framed spectacles. No higher than Victor's waist, the kid's gelled hair sticks out like Dennis the Menace.
'This?' Victor opens his hand, revealing the Blackberry.
'Yeah.'
'It's a phone.'
The kid's eyes narrow. 'No, it isn't. Phones don't look like that.'
'This one does.'
'Has it got a camera?'
'No.'
A smirk crosses the kid's face as he takes an iPhone 4 out of his pants pocket. 'Mine does. Five megapixels. Can yours do this?' He turns the phone in his hand and the image on it flips from portrait to landscape.
'No,' says Victor.
'That means it hasn't got a three-axis giro.' He leans closer to Victor. 'What are you doing?'
'Fixing your school's server - that's this big computer. There's a problem with the internet.'
'There's nothing wrong with the internet.'
'Excuse me?'
'It's Mister Fiddler. He changed the IP address of the gateway. I tried pinging it from my laptop but it wouldn't.'
Victor's jaw heads for his chest. 'You know about pinging?'
The kid's eyebrows knot like spaghetti. 'Who doesn't? Except maybe Mister Fiddler.''
'Look, who's Mister Fiddler?'
'He's the Headmaster.'
 
 
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