Soluto - Startup Monitoring Software and more T.B.A. I hope!

It's rare but exciting to see some software come out to make a technicans life and users faster. When a computer itially starts, it starts up a load of applications in the background so when you do actually run the program it's already waiting in the background so it opens faster in principle. However this does lead to a longer bootup time, and sometime you will only open the application once every few months. For example Adobe Reader, Blackberry Desktop Manager and Mircosoft Office Groove and the examples of the programs I stripped out of my boottime. Adobe Reader isn't even my default PDF Viewer, Desktop Manager only needs to be used for the backup and switching of blackberrys and I don't use Groove. Granted anyone who knows there way round a computer could of done this by looking in the Startup Folder, MS Config and even the low level registry however there has been no clear way before, to time how long each of these applications add onto your total boot time! Not only do they hinder the normal startup task of your computer but they also increase your memory useage of your computer, for some this can cause issues!

Welcome Soluto, a simple tool which you install , restart your computer , and it gives you a nice run down of what's running at startup , how long it takes and useful advice of if you should pause items in startup or delay them. The software's in beta and ready to download here

There is one issue I have found, installing Soluto, means it will need to run every startup , and at it states through it's logging , it takes 5 seconds to boot. I hope this software/company will start adding some more features and functions to their software!

IT Support for Accountants

IT support is important for many business, but Accountants have a daily need for support with their bespoke and off the shelf products and updates. Some main products we have helped our clients with are

Sage - Sage has updates every year via disk. Not only does this update the client that reads the Sage company files , but it also upgrades the Company Sage Files. This means that each user in the company will need to have their client upgraded as well as each of the company files the Accountants manage. This is not an easy task to perform in-house and can add allot of downtime to users. We do this out of hours where as possible to keep systems up throughout the day and deadlines!

IRIS Exchequer - Used by large companies for Project Costings and Business intelligence , we have rolled this out through Terminal Services Remote App which means a user can access this through an HTTP remote login.

IRIS Payroll - Another product from IRIS , however also used by small to medium companies with their payroll tasks. When it gets down to the end of the months , there will be hell to pay if this isn't running!

Quickbooks - Another popular tool used by Small Business' for invoice management , we have system to make sure that the database gets backed up regularly to multiple locations.

Excel  - The main number crunching / figure analysis tool on the market for most accountants. Most of the time we can train people how to perform specific tasks with their data e.g. Vlookup or just make sure the files they are opening and saving are the correct data type.

HM Revenue & Customs: Employer CD-ROM - The Employer CD-ROM contains most of the guidance you will need to help you run your payroll throughout the year including. This not only provides guidance but can store data which will need to be migrated when a user moves computer

MYOB - Mind your Own Business - An all inclusive package which can manage your accounts as well as a CRM and ERP

Accountants data is precious , especially with the laws stating it is your responsibility to keep your VAT records and details for 6 years. Not only does data have to be archived for this length of  time , but also emails. Thankfully the stress of this is taken away from the user and us , with Microsoft's Hosted Archiving solution.

Most work with accounts is still on Paper Documents , this adds up to storage problems which can be solved by expensive offsite secure storage. However , sometimes this isn't secure enough! Accountants require industrial scanners to batch scan documents and input them into document systems in a standardised format! We have supported numerous scanners/digital senders and document managers.

The Drobo Elite!

A client who has a video editing studio came to us with a problem. Their need for content had risen dramatically due to Social Networking sites such as YouTube , Facebook and MySpace. This means they were making even more content to keep up with demand, however with this generation they where finding problems with their existing setup. They were using a Mac for the editing , creation and then backup of material. The Mac had only come with 1Terabyte of Storage so they had to purchase external usb drives to archive data off until they archived it onto tape. When data needed to be archived off onto tape this added strain to the Mac and the machine couldn't be used for editing. The Mac Software also did not utilise backup appending to media which means tape archiving was getting difficult to manage.

To resolve this issue we installed a Fully Redundant Drobo Elite with a 7 Terabyte Array ( 1 Terabyte for Redundancy) . This is dynamically growable to 13 Terabytes when the Client runs out of space. This Drobo Elite is connected to the Mac and another Windows 2008 Server machine with Backup Exec using an NTFS Share via a 1 Gigabyte iSCSI network. So far the results have proved amazing. Uncompressed High Definition Video can be streamed directly from the Drobo to the Mac for Editing, and the Windows Machine can backup the contents to Tape without reducing the Mac's performance for Video Editing.

Remote Access via USB Key?

My first question is why!?

Recently I have seen a few products such as Mobiu ,BeAnywhere and PC Fly make it to the market with this "New" concept of accessing your computer remotely from anywhere! Surely this is something Microsoft's Remote Desktop has offered for six years and even more recently LogMeIn Free for Macs as well!!!

The whole buzz around this "New" technology seems to be the security functionality of it all. Having a sim card with a security hash on it storing all your User names and Passwords on. Fine ..... but how many times has I forgotten a USB drive plugged into the back of my computer! I now have my keys on the same keychain to make sure I don't leave the house without it! Most of uses of this device will be in Airports or Internet Cafe's where the pressure is on to get off the computer to catch a flight or pay the bill! Don't worry , Mobiu provides a 2 day turn around for a new keycard , better hope its the weekend!

So if security is the main worry in the current industry about remote access why not copy what banks have been recently doing?! No , not losing money , provide a security Key Chain such as below

This randomly generates a secure ID every 5 minutes which you enter into your Remote Workplace Login as well as your User name and Password ensuring only you with the RSA key tag can login to the server. We have used tools like this before such as the RSA key Fob

Lost RSA fob , no problem let me just remove RSA authentication from your remote login screen until you pick up another one from your office!