Happy Birthday to us!!

Today Limbtec is 12 years old, so we thought it would be good to see what was happening in 2002 when we started.

Operating Systems

Let’s start with Windows XP, when we started a new computing experience had just hit the streets, it was Windows XP, and it has lived as long as we have as a company.  Having said that most of our customers were still using

  • Windows 98
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows NT 4
We also had a few installs of Windows 95, and I do remembers looking at a Windows 3.11 system at some point, along with these we have also seen
Vista, 7, 8, 8.1
along with server 2003, 2008, 2012
This is without mentioning the work we have done on Mac both OS X, and it predecessor, and the few Linux/Unix issues we have dealt with.
Internet Connectivity

ADSL had really only just come out with blistering fast 2MB connections, although a lot of customers were dialing up (YES Really) on 56K connections, or maybe if they were a little posh might have an ISDN connection.  Currently sitting here on a FTTC connection at 76MB, having said that we also do far more online, not just with social media, but almost everything we do is reliant on an internet connection.
Storage
Servers had 10Gb or so of storage, and these we were replacing with servers with 40Gb of storage, now even the smallest of small business have 1TB of storage available to them, and probably even more than this
Although even small businesses had an advantage to having a Small Business Server, now a lot of these customers are using Office 365 and a nice fanless NAS box for on site document storage.
Backup of these were done by tape, DDS 4 or smaller, now for a lot of people the backup is done online into the cloud, and if it is an onsite storage it will more than likely be on to external drives.
Screen’s
Almost everyone had a crt screen (about 15″) sat on their desks, then LCD screens still around 15″, now we put out mostly 19 -21″ as standard and a lot of customers buying 24″ +.  Also seen the introduction of touch screens, which now with Windows 8 offers a new way of doing some tasks.
We have also said goodbye, to the floppy drive, and starting to see end of optical drives specially in mobile devices. Processors have become much faster, and with multiple cores, and memory, well that now comes in amounts never even dreamed of 12 years ago.
Now just wondering what the business IT environment will be in 12 years time?
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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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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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More Busy Days

Site Survey Completed, start work at new customers site on Friday, get the issues resolved. And ahve another HAPPY Customer.

Also Completed the Logical Data Recovery last night, recovered the 60Gb of data that had been deleted. More intriguing is why this happened in the first place. The customer was cleaning up the hard drive using the windows tools. However the laptop had, had windows reinstalled by another Computer repair provider in Plymouth. Now instead of carrying out a windows repair they had reinstalled windows, and had left all of the users data in the old folder. Windows believing the ‘Windows.old’ folder was surplus to requirements just deleted it.

Although we can’t name the company in question we probably get at least 2-4 machines in every month after they have had their hands on it, and caused a whole lot of issues.

Essentially another site survey to complete today, as we carry out a pre-installation checks for a customer who is getting a new Line of Business App installed in the next month or so. And some more pick ups.

Will try and get the last couple of pages uploaded for our web hosting customer. Kind of chuffed at last after many years of trying have managed to blog in consecutive days.

Friday Morning is looking busy, but hopefully we should complete this weeks work by early afternoon, and then going to try and take some time off during the long weekend.

May try on Sunday to rebuild our on line shop.!! Keep you posted here.

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Dirty tricks

We all know that being in Business at the moment is like riding a roller coaster without the safety harness. But a certain National chain of PC shops, is stooping to an all time low.

Yesterday a friend of mine who runs an IT Company over heard somebody in the Business Centre saying that Limbtec had gone bust, and a lot of our customers had been in their in the last couple of days.

Firstly most of my customers wouldn’t be seen dead in this store, but for them to just mention this regardless is just sickening. And until I can identify the person they can’t do anything.

Well I can, I can and will, and am going public on this. However for our customers and anyone looking for quality IT in and around Plymouth we are open for business, and are doing OK at the moment, (Looking at having one of our best ever months).

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Busy

Well, we’ve been busy here, hence the 3 week in between posts.

We will be introducing some new services in the next 3-6 months, I am really excited about it. I haven’t been this excited since we started the company 7 years ago.

Details will be available on this blog first, along with our website. We have now got our newsletter distribution set up, and the first edition will be available soon. Once we have the written version I hope to have a podcast version of it shortly afterwards.

We have seen an increase in the amount of repairs, this is probably a sign of the times, and people tyring to get their equipment to last a little longer. Most of these are actually issues with hard drives. So go careful with your data. It can’t always be achieved, and losing either valuable memories or valuable business data can be very stressful.

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Been Busy

I haven’t posted much recently, been busy.

I am a member of the FSB Plymouth Branch Committee, and we have launched a new website
http://www.fsb-plymouth.org.uk.

Why not visit it, sign up. We the committee, hope this site will grow into a very useful resource for small businesses in the Plymouth area.

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What’s next

OK not strictly technical, but thought I would share this publicly.

We have been approached by several local IT companies recently wanting to purchase our company.

Why have i decided to share this. Well firstly just to make sure there aren’t too much confusion. And secondly to reassure our customers.

I rejected both bids without any thought for 2 reasons
Firstly we are a family run company and for the foreseeable future this will continue, and secondly we focus on quality and not quantity. I’m not saying the companies involved do a bad job, but to extend their business they are looking for quantity and I firmly believe that quality will suffer.

We will be growing this year. But we are still weighing up our options. However we decide to grow we will not let quality suffer, and indeed will actually be looking to improve quality by growth.

I will be keeping you posted on this first here on the blog.

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Vista

Well, Vista was released to business last week. If you want to upgrade talk to us.

We are currently working on sorting out some demo evenings for early next year, more details will be published later.

Any system we ship from now and the release of Vista to the public will include a voucher to upgrade from windows XP to Windows Vista.

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