What a difference a router can make.

Today, we installed a new Threat Management device for a customer.
As part of this we installed a new Router, the old one had started to drop the connection.

WOW – a massive speed boost. Knowing how far the customer was from the exchange I always wondered why they weren’t getting a speed of around 18Mb. In fact they were getting between 9 – 10 Mb!

So the Threat Management Device was configured,and ready to be installed on their network, as was the router. Plugged everything in, and it seemed to take an age (it was probably only about 30 seconds) for the ADSL to get into Sync. But when it did, it connected up. Next up was to test it was all working and those processes allowed through, were getting through, then a quick speed check. and bang just under 20Mb download and a shade under 1Mb upload.

Later on we then needed to remote in to the servers, and what an amazing difference this makes, it was like working directly on the server.

So if you check on the BT website what speed you should be able to get, and you actual speed is different, then it may well be worth checking your router, and possibly changing it. doubling your speed just by changing your router!

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BT Again

So a whole lot of trouble first thing this morning.
We noticed our monitored servers all dropping off the Internet starting at around 7.30AM this morning, not only customers of our broadband service.

Although we were also affected we were able to minimise the issue wit our mobile Broadband cutting in. We Contacted our suppliers who confirmed to us what we had already guessed.

This issue affected people not using BT as there ISP, who were on 21CN network. I say that because i have spoken to a couple of people who use BT Internet and they didn’t know what had happened.

My problem is we have had this before, and a single link between the South West and Bristol is just not good enough, there is no resilience.

I have to congratulate BT it only took 2 hours to resolve the problem, that was 2 hours that a lot of businesses on the South West peninsular was without Broadband, and in the 21st Century this is not good enough.

Let hope it doesn’t happened again any time soon.

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BT Again

Another slightly damp period and yet another blog post about BT.

To recap, earlier in the year, and so that I could get a stable Broadband connection BT changed the cable between here and the street side cabinet. That was fine whilst the sun was out, we have had a bit of rain over the last few weeks and so disaster struck!

Firstly our Broadband started dropping out, then our phone line was so unstable you cold not hear a thing.

Now my point here is if BT actually fixed the cable with what must have very dodgy insulation, then the change of cable and indeed the issues would then not happen.

So by the time it was organised for a report to be made to BT by our ISP, the circuit had dried out enough to enable the broadband to be considered to be stable.

I think this is a well it nearly is stable it still drops out but I guess losing your Broadband connection 3 or 4 times a day is better than only having a connection for 4 or 5 minutes a day!

The engineer did finally come out to sort the phone line, but he nearly didn’t. I have tested it and all is fine, well back to the weather.!

He did come out and did replace a bit of cable, I question why he did this, the answer is simple because for the last 18 months I have been complaining to the chief Exec of BT office.

Now my broadband – 18 months ago we moved to an ADSL 2 platform, because of the distance from the exchange to us, i wasn’t expecting any major speed increase but i have actually seen by 6.6Mb connection now deteriorated down to a measly 2.5Mb – I guess that is what BT call progress? If and when they start putting fibre down in Plymouth I guess we will see our speed disappear and revert back to dial up.

Honestly BT, you need to sort this out, along with all those other continual issues I know happen.
It must be cheaper to fix the issue than continually come and patch the cable up.

I am seriously considering switching my Broadband to a Business cable package, a little more expensive but hopefully a strong stable connection with some speed!

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Data Security

Wow, at last my 100th Blog post, got here eventually.

recently a number of customers have started buying new computers, and they always want to know what they can use to make sure the data on the Hard Drive is gone for good.

We have been trying Active@ Killdisk. This is a great little tool, not too expensive, and the other tools on it allowing you to attempt to recover data are also useful. So far we have tried it on a couple of disc’s and when trying to recover the data using our normal tools haven’t been able to find anything. – to view their website go to http://www.killdisk.com

We are really busy with upgrades, small customers wanting to move to cloud computing, and large customers looking to migrate to new server hardware/software. However did everyone else see that BT are opening their ducting to the competition. Is this a case of if you can’t beat them get your competition to use your equipment? Time will tell i guess but I am suspicious of it, but regular readers will know the issues I have had recently (and for recently read 12 months).

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BT, Broadband and SEO

BT

I didn’t post a blog lat week, mainly because my Internet connection just wasn’t working. I could have written it, put it on a USB stick, and sent it my carrier pigeon.

The problem is despite the fact i had no speed, and the connection dropped every minute or so there was nothing wrong with the line. Well according to BT when they eventually ran the test some 14 hours after reporting the error.

I complained some more and eventually they booked a broadband engineer to come out first thing on Monday to essentially show me nothing was wrong and charge me the fee £100 odd. Problem was the engineer came out and found a fault. Now this is were I completely lost it with BT! Broadband engineers only get 2 hours of time allotted to each job, run out of time and then it has to get booked on again.

It appears this got lost in a system and the next thing was the report from BT to say no fault found, and so it was closed. I then Email Ian Livingston The Chief Executive of the BT Group.
This means on Wednesday and after a lot of heated emails with Ian another engineer turned up.

Apparently because I was side stepping the ISP, who was doing what they had to do, but was missing some power behind them to kick BT up the backside and resolve this fault which was rapidly coming to 50 weeks old. Mr Livingston didn’t like and compared it to have an issue with some food and going directly to the farmer and not back to Tesco. It isn’t the same at all after all Tesco don’t own the farm, but BT do own the part that is causing me a big headache.

Anyway back to our issue, the engineer came out, investigated the fault on the Wong line and investigated the fault on the right line. No problems found, then he decided if I wasn’t having issues on the voice line, we could swap pairs, between the 2 lines. Which he did. OK it has been a couple of days since and things seem to be working OK, I have some of the speed back but not all of it.

The engineer was going to go back and request a test hole be dug in the likely place the fault was, but this was turned down due to the fact my moving the pairs around this has solved the issue. Problem is this also proves there was an error on that line that BT could not detect! And to frank and honest was completely ignoring the repeated issues being raised.

It also means that should this pair get damaged they have nothing to replace it with. We can only hope that H2O get on with rolling out fibre to the premises in Plymouth.

SEO

I have been playing around with some free tools to improve our Search Engine Rankings. We are already creeping up the results, and gaining new results. So it is worth while doing.

One tool is http://www.woorank.com/ well worth all business owners having a look at this tools.

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1st post of the year

Well, our first post of the year. It has been a slow start with the weather. but it has left us with some time to tie up lose ends on some new products, which we will be releasing over the next month or so.

One thing that has been in demand is for people to work remotely. A number of our customers had this in place, the problem for them was in the main it wasn’t designed to work for the entire work force.

Now is the time to start to think about this and perhaps even a little bit deeper into full disaster recovery. If you are a Small business, do you use Microsoft Small Business server? if so why not use the Remote Web Workplace?
A short 60 second presentation is Available from Microsoft
Also available is a short presentation about sharing a conference call and presentation using Microsoft Office Live Meeting

Both utilise technology that helps with travel budgets, or ease of access if we get snowed in again.

New this month is our Disaster Recovery Solution, a very cost effective method of providing Disaster Recovery for small businesses details are available from our website For a small cost you can purchase seats in bundles of 6 or 12. Contact us for details.

We are starting to have discussions with a lot of our clients about how we can best improve their use of technology to help improve their business. Still carrying out IT Audits, and discussions with possible new clients, if you want to know more then drop me an email martin@limbtec.com

LAPTOPS
However you dress them up, they really don’t like drinks being spilt into them, and they don’t like being stood on or having things thrown at them. Basically treat them like they will break, as they will if you do any of the following.

BT
Well our BT issues keep on going on and on and on. It now appears that the shiny copper cable going from here to the street cabinet, may not be a shiny, or indeed contain much copper anymore.
You would have thought the simplest solution would be to rerun fresh copper from end to end, but apparently patching every couple of weeks or so with bits of cable is far better.

Come on BT get your act together and get this 11 month (actually 11 months and 1 day) issue resolved.

I am intending to post this blog every Friday PM, but this is subject to change!

Thanks for reading and more next week.

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A review of the year

Well, just about Evonne does a review of the year, although this year most of the TV programmes are a review of the decade.

This time last year I sat down and wondered what on earth was going to happen through 2009, we had already been hit by a couple of Bad debts, and we needed to alter the way we work. The good thing for us was at the end of 2007, and moving in to 2008 we had sorted out our marketing, refreshed our log and branding. So the answer was all we could do was try our hardest, support our customers, try and reduce costs where possible, and offer to be flexible on payments should the need arise.

And so the year started, we were hit with another couple of customers going bust, but in the main our customers were surviving reasonably well. So we started looking for more customers, we have increased our Business to Business Support customer base by 25%, this has resulted in us keeping our income slightly above the previous year, as we had lost some customers and the others were not spending as much.

We saw rapid growth in our Home User market, particularly in our laptop repairs. Replacement Screens, and replacement power jacks accounting for most of the laptop repairs.

The biggest issue we have seen a rise in, for move businesses and consumers are issues with broadband. In the main and issue arising either with the router, or mainly issues with the actual connection and the ensuring battle with the ISP, but mainly due to BT.

We had a BT Install that had the filter int he wrong place, but the main issues have been with line issues, or other BT issues, I have to add most of these occurred after most of the exchanges in Plymouth were upgraded to BT’s 21CN platform. We ourselves have had an ongoing fight for 10 months, other have faired better. But int he main if I had to award a technology villain of the year it would have to go to BT. Please BT in the new year will you take note that customers do have issues and mainly these issues are with your network and not their router or extension cable. And when you run one of your tests and it doesn’t run due to a complete lack of bandwidth their is an issue, and the issue is with you.

Enough of that rant, the I-phone has grown in stature and with the host of apps is probably my recommendation for a smart phone for businesses.

Microsoft released Windows 7, and should have a raft of releases in 2010 scheduled. It was a pretty flat year for releases with manufacturers perhaps holding back until people have money to spend, but this has to change next year! (look for announcements by Google and Apple in January)

Looking forward, Plymouth has some major plans ahead this summer will see FIFA visit the city to select the venues for the 2018 World cup bid, I’m sure we will all blow them away. then we just have to wait til December for the announcement of who will get the World Cup. One unusual hero in technology in the city has been the chamber of commerce. Hopefully we will start to see the plans they have produced start to come true. We may well See H2O move into the city to provide fast (and i do mean fast, faster than we currently have) Broadband to the city, by laying fibre to premises using existing conduit (Mainly the sewer system). This will help move Plymouth ahead, and may help force BT to improve the plans for Fibre to the Cabinet in the City!

Well this is my last blog post of the year. Hopefully I will post even more next year, but you can follow the day to day ramblings on twitter – www.twitter.com/limbtec

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BT Update

Well, my customer is off line again, despite the promise this morning of someone calling before an engineer would turn up. The engineer turned up, and a massive surprise he can’t get sync. Good job I diagnosed this on Monday.

Now he believes they have misconfigured the line.

So many issues, and yet they can’t seem to just sort it our

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BT & the Internet

Just to follow on from the previous post.

So yesterday out of the blue the customers Broadband started working! Yes after 2 days BT had indeed found a fault, and had carried out a tie pair modification to get things working again.

Today we visited the site to change the router back over to their router, from our spare one we carry just in case.

Nothing, no sync, no connection nothing, we tried the spare nothing, and just to make sure we tried a brand new router. Nothing, then we changed the filter and tried again, nothing.

The customer phoned BT Broadband, and as soon as they gave their details the broadband suddenly connected (now I’m sure this is a coincidence?), The customer was told yet again, nothing is wrong with the line it mus be your equipment, at which point I managed to get in on the act. When pointing out that there is nothing else connected to the=is master socket other than an ADSL Filter, and connected to that is a broadband router, of which we have tried 6 combinations and not 1 of them was a winner. They finally conceded we need to run more tests, at which point the broadband died and didn’t return.

Now if you can take off the faceplate of the master socket and plug it into the test socket we can run more tests. To be fair this did spark a connection, and Internet connectivity was re-established. Then I got the story if we send an engineer out and they find a fault with your equipment we will charge you- er hello nothing wrong with the equipment, but there is with yours.

BT you need to start some good engineering in fault rectification, honestly, work done at the exchange fixed the issue, for some 20 hours, so it is logical that the fault is with the customer.
This is like have your exhaust replaced, and when you get in start the car up it rattles. It is so obviously the fault of the driver for starting the car. The BT question in this case would be ‘have you tried a different key, or a different driver’

Then we got on to question of Broadband faults and engineers just turning up un announced. This DOES NOT HAPPEN’ Really I know of 2 cases in the past week alone, you even get a call when you have your shopping delivered by some supermarkets?

BT Broadband, and BT Broadband WholeSale, and of course BT Openreach. You need to raise your game in customer service. If the customer is seeing a fault, and it was working fine, and they have tried a filter change and a different router YOU have an issue. You need to get it resolved, if that customer is a business, specially a micro or small business this is likely to critical to that customer. They are likely to be losing money.

Customer stay calm, and keep contacting them. It may take months, but they will eventually find the faults and fix them.

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All things Internet

It’s been a shambles in Plymouth recently.

Yesterday there were massive issues for Virgin Telecom customers in the city. Apparently the power was being taken off of exchange, and was going to be supplied by a diesel generator. However when the power was taken off the generator packed in. I have to ask would you rely on 1 generator to provide the power. I wonder if that generator is their backup generator, just in case they have a power failure! If it is then I would worry about being a Virgin telecom customer!

BT and Broadband, now this is the BT Broadband Wholesale and BT Openreach people. In February this year my Broadband was moved from the old 20CN system to the new 21CN system. With a pile of issues, I have Broadband since 2000, was 1 of the first to connect to it on my Exchange, and have a rock solid connection at ever increasing speeds. Finaaly reaching between 6 – 7.5Mbs. Then it was all moved, and ever since I have endless outages, and speed issues, resulting in my best speed last week of about 2 Mbs.

BT Broadband Wholesale couldn’t find a problem on my line, it was working and because it had been connected for over 7 days there couldn’t possibly be anything wrong with it? However as i pointed out, it is pointless being connected if you have no throughput, which actually happened more times than I could handle. Eventually, they ran some test and found I had an high voltage on my line, and a cross connection with someone else.

I have spent 10 months trying to get this resolved, I am now up to a blistering fast 5 Mbs still slower than I had, but at least for the last 3 days I have had a useable connection.

Yesterday I had a call from a customer who had lost there broadband, they described the lights on the router, and it obvious they didn’t have an ADSL Sync light. It transpired they were moving their telephone lines back to BT, and as a thank you BT have cut their Broadband off! That was 20 hours ago, they still have no broadband this is going to cost the customer thousands of pounds their whole business is based on the internet. This sort of issue is just NOT acceptable.

A couple of weeks ago, I went ot a presentation given by the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, about connectivity. They have come up with a wonderful plan, and I personall hope the H20 (A company who run fast internet connectivity through the sewer system) do actually invest in Plymouth.

It would give another option to businesses in the city, and would enable customers to have a fail over system.

What we will be recommending to all customers, whose business is reliant on the internet is to have multiple providers and to utalise that, with a router, able to both bond the connections to give faster speed, and also able to failover to a single broadband connection.

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