Category Archives: IT SERVICES

Copper switch-off delayed.

To our complete lack of surprise, BT/OpenReach have announced that they have delayed the final switch off of the traditional phone lines (so-called ‘analogue’ or ‘copper’ phone lines). The grand plan was that all voice telephony would be delivered over your Internet connection by the end of 2025. The technical name for this is VOIP (Voice Over IP). When this plan was announced in 2021 anyone with any real-world knowledge knew it was unachievable. There were just too many connections to deal with – not to mention all the specialist services that only work on the copper. Like RedCare & emergency buttons for the elderly. Plus, of course, OpenReach’s ghastly reputation for not delivering the quality of broadband essential for voice communications.

And here we are. Bowing to the inevitable, OpenReach has pushed back the deadline by 13 months. That’s still ‘ambitious’. We shall see. My money is on a series of further delays as reality seeps in bit by bit.

You can read the BBC article here.

Having said that, if (and it’s a big if) you have the broadband to support it, voice telephony delivered over the Internet is very good, and very cheap. The system we use has been into our office for many years, and it works well. If you are interested talk to us about it. Call us on 01905 426365 (yes, it’s a VOIP line!)


Retain control of your assets.

This is a problem we see occasionally – clients who don’t have control of their key assets. Mainly because it’s something they don’t think about at the beginning – when the opportunity is there. It only becomes an issue later – when, maybe, the opportunity has passed by. The most frequent area we see this problem is a company’s domain name. It’s quite common for a business to hand over the whole business of “the website” to a third-party. They do the lot – domain name registration, web hosting, web design & site maintenance. That’s OK – it’s convenient, and all the settings are handled by the same people. The problem comes if the relationship with that supplier goes awry. Maybe they go out of business, or a key member of staff leaves, or you just fall out with them. And then you are in trouble – because your website – especially your domain name – is the key to your online identity. And unless you can access this to manage the settings you are storing up big problems for the long term. We have had numerous examples of going for what should be a simple configuration change – only to spend days going around the houses while the client tries to get that essential access.

Our advice is that you get a grip early. (i) make sure in the contract that you are clearly the owner of the asset in question. (ii) make sure that you have the credentials to access that asset. (iii) make sure you check regularly that those credentials work.

Take care of your laptop!

Dusty laptop

Inside lurks unpleasantness!

One of the issues we are called to all too often is a faulty laptop. Upon close inspection the laptop has “cooked itself” – i.e. overheated & destroyed some key components. Space inside a laptop is limited, so getting adequate cooling is always a challenge. But users can make it much worse all too easily. Laptops, in general, suck air in through the underside, across the components and out through the side. They are already fighting a battle with dust (see picture). But what will REALLY kill your laptop is placing it on a soft surface. Tempting as it may seem to put it onto your comfy duvet – don’t! The laptop will settle in, block the underside air vents, and failure is short minutes away.

Always place your laptop on a hard, clean, surface. If possible tilt the back edge up for extra airflow (and it makes the keyboard easier to use!).

How Microsoft doesn’t help with GDPR compliance

Getting Outlook to help with GDPR compliance

One of the constant issues we see is people sending out emails that are addressed to multiple recipients. And the addresses of all those recipients are visible to everyone who gets a copy of the email. Now, unless they have the explicit permission of everybody involved, they have just driven a coach and horses through the laws surrounding privacy, generally referred to as GDPR. And yes, it is the law. And yes, they could get fined. So, a bit of explanation, then onto to Microsoft’s unhelpfulness.

Standard office email form

Standard office email form

When you compose an email there’s the “To” field – self explanatory. Then there’s the “CC” field. This stands for “Carbon Copy” and harks back to the days of the typewriter. Everybody in the “CC” field gets a copy of the email. But, crucially, they also get to see all the people in the “To” field and the “CC” field. Which is really not good when doing a mass email. To get around this there is also the “BCC” field. This stands for “Blind Carbon Copy”. Everybody in the “BCC” field still gets a copy of the email. But, crucially, none of the recipients get to see who else was on the list. This is what you MUST use – unless you have good reason for letting everyone know who else got the mail.

The reason Microsoft doesn’t help here is that, when you start a new email in Outlook (the most popular business email client), the “BCC” is hidden by default, discouraging people from using it. The fix is easy:

  1. Open Outlook & create a new email
  2. At the top click “Options”
  3. Click the icon “Bcc”
  4. Close the email

You’ll now have the “BCC” option on all future emails!

BCC field enabled

BCC field enabled

If you are interested in getting you email secure & compliant, have a look at our offerings in this area.

Email compliance

PowerDMARC email compliance management

PowerDMARC email compliance management

Email security is being tightened up all round. In order to give your email the best chance of being delivered without problems take advantage of our free service. By sending an email to our special address we will send you a report on the state of your email compliance, with suggestions for improvement. We have a full suite of email compliance tools to help you achieve a 100% rating!