Archive for the ‘IT support’ Category

Our mail issues sorted

October 11, 2011

The new site is up..  At  PerfectNotes.com.au. Hits are up.  All good.

We had an interesting mail issue.   We moved the site to the ABOC server and ran it on Plone but for various reasons left the mail on the Dreamhost box that Vidman Design uses.  Getting the DNS to work that way turned out to be tricky, Dreamhost is a big outfit with a bunch of mail servers all talking to each other.  And we had broken email or at least dodgy email for a day while we figured it out.

Some of the redirects from the old site seem not to be doing their job.  It looks like the  SEO tool in Plone is just not doing the job.  We are working on that.    It’s unlikely its the tool… so something is  wrong.  Next job on the list.

I am going to put some  links somewhere to some of our clients.  Hopefully get the whole Google thing working better for them and for us.  Sadly for a lot of our more prestigious clients we have confidentiality agreements and so it’s not happening for them.   But its going to have a nice synergy for a few.. so that will be a nice addition for the site.

We will also link to some of the businesses involved in our business network in Bendigo.   For the same sort of reasons.  Details are yet to be worked out but that will be starting to happen this week.

None of this will happen without discussion with all involved.  We take privacy seriously at Perfect Notes.

Been reading a lot of Schneier on Security  Its alarming and fascinating stuff.      The current post..   Us armed drone aircraft have a virus.    scary hey?  Here is a brief comment from the always relevant Dilbert on security.  Dilbert.com

 

Our new website is up

October 6, 2011

perfectnotes.com.au has a new website. Its been planned for a long time.. mostly built for most of that time. Has of course led to the other (until yesterday the visible ) website being shamefully neglected. But now its here.

And its a Plone site.  As we are doing more and more development work in Plone  (mostly hosted on ABOC Plone  servers)  we figured we should put our money where our mouths are and run it ourselves.  You will notice that its a little bit generic Plone.   That just seemed like a good idea for a while.   We are Plone  enthusiasts and happy to spread the word about this wonderful CMS.    With Subskins and other software and a little bit of CSS development we can make it look like anything we want but for the moment this will do us fine.     

In case you are wondering we also develop in WordPress , Drupal and HTML CSS….and all that non Content Management Stuff.  We are hanging out to be asked to do something in Joomla    All these systems have their strengths and weaknesses so all have a role and it depends very much on what you need as to what is suitable.

 We have test environments for all of these so we can pretty quickly find out if something is actually doable.   Of course as with all websites.. up and running is easy..  right is rather more difficult.  

More spam emails…

June 27, 2011

Well, we all get them. We all try to ignore them. Sometimes we are lucky and our spam filters work – but sooner or later, one is going to slip through…
So – what are the latest spam emails that I know about?
United Parcel Service Notification – if you get one of these, remember that it’s very unlikely that the parcel delivery service has your email address, so do not click on any link – they don’t know about you, anymore than you know about them!
Next – PayPal have yet again restricted my service… or something like that…. Again – NEVER click on the link in an email to update your details – go back to the original URL and follow the links.
I have had multiple emails over the last couple of weeks “Re: Career Finders” – another email telling me how I can make millions at home with very little work….
So – what prompted this post? One that just arrived – “Notification from Microsoft Outlook”. So, why do I think that this one might catch people out? Well, it says that it is from support@outlookexpress.com – which looks like a reasonable address for this sort of email. And a lot of people will be using Outlook Express – I know of a number of my customers who use this product – so it might catch them out. So, please – remember the golden rule – NEVER click on the link in an email to update/renew/revise/review any details – legitimate businesses will tell you to log in and update your details, because that way you know that it’s going to be the real deal.
So – stay safe in our cyber world – and if you have any questions, post them here and we will either answer them or point you to the authority who can tell you what the deal is.

Windows Users – Remember to Defragment your hard drive

December 16, 2010

Well, I have not been very diligent about this…

When you open Accessories – System Tools – Disk Defragmenter, you can click the Analyze button, to check whether your hard drive needs cleaning up. Hopefully, you get a picture with a lot of blue and white, some green and a minimal amount of red – or, you could get a picture like I did:
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Obviously, my hard drive needed to be defragmented – with a vengeance!

Unfortunately, there is also a requirement to have 15% or more of the hard drive free in order for Disk Defragmenter to work correctly. So – as I had less than 15% free on both occasions that I have used this tool, I was not able to get the full benefit from the tool… But it DID improve the situation each time I ran this tool. Running it repeatedly moved files around, improving the situation, even if it is still not ideal.
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While it might still look like some kind of Jackson Pollock or Pro Hart art work, if you look carefully, you will see that the first blue section has moved further to the left and there is less colour on the right hand side – all of which means that your files will load faster on your PC – which has to be good!

So – learn from my mistakes – don’t leave it 12 months between times that you run the Disk Defragmenter tool on your hard drive! Backup your files regularly and run the defragmenter about once a month – don’t let your picture get as colourful as this.

Backups

November 21, 2010

Well, it’s an oldie but a goodie – the topic of backing up your data – particularly your business data.

It might seem that we regularly discuss the need for having backups of your information – especially if you are running a business with that information – but we talk about it regularly because it’s so important!

Data that needs to be considered ranges from your holiday snaps from the digital camera, through your university essays to the accounting information that allows you to invoice your business customers. Obviously, the backup procedures for each of these types of files is different, but you need to ensure that you have at least two copies of all of these, to make sure that you always have access to them – remember, CDs and DVDs can be scratched or lost, so another copy is always a good idea.

For businesses, there are at least a couple of choices for backup locations – you can keep one copy of your information in a separate physical location (say one at home and one in the office), or there are a number of services that allow you to put a backup copy online (over the internet). In each case, there are issues that need to be considered, including how quickly you can access the second copy if you need it and what the costs are. Along with this, you need to decide whether you need an automated backup process or you can (and will!) do it manually. So if you want to talk to someone about the backup requirements of your business or your family, have a look here and send us an email – we can help you.

So – why am I mentioning this now? Well, I had a meeting with a business associate on Thursday morning – it had been postponed twice due to illness, so it was important that we catch up this time… In the morning, I got an SMS that she would not be at the initial meeting, as she had been up till nearly 4.30am with her local IT guy, trying to remove a virus from her work PC, but that our later meeting was still on – so it sounded like she had an ‘interesting’ night! By the time the initial meeting was over and I called her to let her know I was on my way, she had managed about five hours sleep – so our meeting was definitely happening. Anyway, to cut a long story short, when I got to her office, this was the story:

1. She was concerned about backing up her data and her clients’ data, so she bought an external drive (well, actually two) to ensure that she always had a separate copy apart from the one on her PC.

2. One of the two drives in the external case was faulty. So the initial setup did not complete, but she had great difficulty convincing the people that she had bought it from that she had followed the correct process and the drive was actually defective and needed to be replaced. The process of trying to convince them to repair or replace it under warranty had taken around a month, so far.

3. She got a virus on her work PC. Trying to remove this required a reboot and going back to a previous Restore point. Windows did not recover correctly from this, so she sent a panicked message to her IT guy – who worked through the night to try to recover from the issues.

The outcome of all this – the IT guy was not able to remove the virus in a single step, so the single drive in the external case is being used to take a backup of all the files required (as was its original purpose in life!) – this process looked as if it was going to take all of Thursday and probably at least half of Friday, if not longer. After that had been done, the PC was going to be taken away to have the virus removed by whatever means were required – which may well require a complete clean install and then reinstallation of all software being used on that machine. I have not heard how that process went, but obviously my associate is not happy that this virus is causing so much grief and downtime for her business.

So, ultimately, she was doing the right thing by setting up a backup system to ensure that her business could run smoothly if there were any issues – but it did not quite get organised before she needed it. Let us help you to avoid this situation! An email or a call on 03 9894 0530 can start the process of protecting you from being caught out like that.

Why we’ve been so quiet…

November 12, 2010

Well, while it might not have been obvious to everyone out there, Perfect Notes has been very busy for the last two weeks.

A fortnight ago, we received a request for quote for some work setting up and supporting Plone websites and associated servers. While some colleagues believed that there was no point in responding to this, we decided to at least do some preliminary work to determine whether it was worth our while to provide a response. So there was about a day’s worth of research and investigation… At the end of that time, we had determined that it was possible for us to do the work requested, so the real work started – to produce the quote!

Well, the long and the short of it is that Kathy spent a week and a half pretty much dedicated to this work, while David spent a couple of days on it – investigating some processes directly and then doing a review of the completed document.

Ultimately, if we get this work, we will be employing a couple of other people to help us out, so that none of our other customers or potential customers suffer – and if it doesn’t happen, well, we have both learnt a lot in the process of producing the quote – which is all good – any increase in knowledge has got to be good! You, our customers, definitely benefit from our increased understanding of the possibilities that are out there – the IT world is always moving forward, so this research has kept our ability to support you and your systems moving forward.

And, of course, it takes a while to catch up from a work overload like that – but we seem to be up to date again.

So, we hope to keep this blog updated a bit more regularly again – and not leave everyone in the dark so long in the future.

Firesheep Menace

November 3, 2010

Welcome to the new business focused Perfect Notes blog.

Our first post will be to revisit a security issue that’s become public in the last few weeks. Other users can easily take over your Facebook and other accounts just by sitting near you when you access these accounts on public Wi Fi systems. The bit of software used for this takeover is a Firefox browser add on called firesheep.

Perfect Notes IT did some testing on this flaw at a McDonald’s WiFi to gain first hand knowledge of this security exploit. We took over 2 (of our own) Facebook accounts seamlessly in only a couple of minutes. In neither case was there any clue to this take over to the user. One machine was modified in the way most people recommend as being enough to disable the firesheep risk (we reset the machine to force the connection into a secure mode).  Nonetheless it proved possible to take over a Facebook account some of the time just as the connection was made!

The lessons to draw from this are obvious. Don’t trust public WiFi. Be aware of security issues. Don’t believe all you read on FB even when (you think) you know who it comes from.

Perfect Notes IT can help with your security issues. Contact us if you have questions.

“…..and so Adieu”

October 29, 2010

Or not!!!!

As the result of certain (fingers in the air making quotation marks ) ‘creative differences’ we have decided on some changes to this blog. The blog as it stands now has been moved and will become my private platform for whinging and comment. It will henceforth be known as …… roll of drums…. “The Percrime Chronicles”.

THe Percrime Chronicles are located over on google’s blogger. In my view a better blogging platform in any case. This version will become your more traditional business blog.. co written.. at this point by Kathy and I, (probably mostly by Kathy) and fiercely devoted to marketing. There will be a significant styling change.

Its been fun. Apparently however its not allowed to be fun. It has to be work. I hope some of my readers follow me over to blogger. And as to the rest of you.. see you at work.

Dave

Of fiery sheep and burnt skin

October 27, 2010

Its been an interesting week. More delving into the guts of Sony Vaio’s, a few little jobs here and there. A couple of new websites (well to us.. really they are just updates), a support client wanting us to develop a couple of shopfront websites for him, and I have remote desktop.. and actually all remote services on private LAN’s sussed. Even have a how to document together on my hot little macbook. And remote desktop enabled on one of my machines. and visible from the web. Even though we have a dynamic IP address that changes often

Here is the web server on the machine in the corner. If its not there its because I turned it off not cos its down, Totally reliable.. although it of course comes with security issues. And simple in the end. Cool huh? Got that wired now.

A few days ago we went to my old mate Ian and his wife Lisa’s for a barbie. I amused myself by hacking Ians router on the fly with my macbook and actually setting up some security. Wide open network. Since then I have read of an astonishing plugin for the firefox web browser called firesheep. It works like this.. if you use a nonsecure network at the same time as someone is using firesheep and you go to any of a myriad non secure sites.. including amongst many others facebook.. Mr firesheep has your username and password. Scarey huh? To beat it you probably need to force the non secure site to run https.. but that makes it harder apparently to deliver advertisements, so may not always even be possible. Its probably why so many of these sites are not secure anyway… that and the overhead in encrypting each bit of data. I have had a look at firesheep and its now on my Macbook.. more when I know more. But this is scary scary stuff

Ian became my mate for life after an accident a trillion years ago when I broke my hip. All other visitors bought flowers. Cept my mum who bought clean underwear in the wrong size. Ian bought scotch. A good mate.

Team Splat! returned to DISC last week for some training. While warming up.. my tire went down. Result a fall and a lack of confidence for the rest of the night. The tire was at 120 psi and at 80 psi in the bend at 25 kph the front wheel tucked under. Not saveable. Not impressed. I caught the replacement tube at 80 psi later too. Not confidence inspiring. Cost me some skin and a good pair of knicks to figure out that if the tire should squeal on a painted line at DISC its a really really good time to stop and check tire pressures.

Sally later on had a 0 kph fall out of the starting gate. Sally was having a slightly nervy night herself. In fact the only confident happy member of Team Splat! was Jenny. Who rode confidently and well Sunday week at Blackburn Velo is Team Splat!’s next official outing.. come along and support us.

Just heard that the Brumby Government has just revisited its abandoned election promise of a rail link to Tullamarine Airport. It helped get em elected last time and then was dumped, this election is looking pretty dodgy, trot it out again. Cos Victorians are stupid. We must be.. look at our pollies. 😛 But seriously how cynical are these people? Brumby probably thinks he has my vote because he is a cyclist. Think again mate. I know of few people who could not do a better job than you.. and almost no one who could not do it cheaper.

Of business and bikes.

October 20, 2010

Wednesday, supposedly a really good day to do a blog post. Lets see how this one does on the statistics. I am trying to write the blog 3 times a week, honestly, its just not always happening.

Interesting week. Kathy just fielded a phone call. Do we want to send a couple of representatives up to the Gold Coast to tout for Government Contracts. 11 guaranteed meetings, the people on the other side of the table prepared to sign off on 5 million bucks worth of contracts at a minimum on the spot. Mostly interested in data recovery IT consultancy and Plone. Interesting huh? Would cost us 35K and that all a tax write off.

Bit rich for our blood just atm.. for that I would certainly finish writing our bit of Data Recovery software. I can see it happening tho.. next year or the year after. We dont need much more momentum to be doing all right. And from all right to really good is not nearly as big a step. Their really is a market for companies like us. The big players mostly want to deal with the rich companies.. its small business thats vibrant, interesting, much more involved in networking and personal relationships and actually needs us.. instead of some big player, to sort out their issues.. which are as diverse as a single printer giving them grief, a web site that needs work, or some documentation that needs polishing. I am going into Carlton in a while to look at why one employees Outlook isn’t This area is fun.. not boring in the slightest. Its where we want to be.

The evil laptop that has come to give me nightmares has finally got spares on the way. Maybe even the right spares. Its sorta hard to tell. I have hopes. I really really want that done. On that front its almost completely together now. and quite reliable.

I definitely need to pick the brains of a VPN network expert. I have 3 clients requiring a little bit of help in this area and while I am getting there… its a bit trickier than I thought; if you are a VPN expert and prepared to give us a hand send me an email. Kathy is snowed under with web development work. This is all php and other language programming and not simple stuff. Plenty happening on that front.

We are going ahead with the Bendigo expansion. Its a gamble but what in life isn’t? At some point I probably need to find a smart, savvy trustworthy (because we dont want them to run away and do their own thing) IT savvy person to be the Bendigo face of Perfect Notes. And in fact we probably want to set them up with a VPN to our server farm I have just realised. So if thats you.. maybe drop us a line. Either Kathy or I and occasionally (as in next week) both of us will be plodding up to Bendigo fairly often. Its obviously time to sort our second car. Sigh. I try for a low impact life style honestly.

Ok… and now for our customary cycling rave.

The sprint series race is happening on Sunday week. My entry is in. I have had many comments to the effect that if I can win D grade so can anyone. I expect some competition in D grade.. and I seriously have to lift my game by maybe 2 seconds a lap to have much of a shot at C grade. Oh their are people in C grade I can beat.. but, there are people I possibly cannot. Sigh. That bike frame prize is looking pretty safe. Team Splat! will be their in its entirety. And we will of course give it our usual red hot go.

I am really proud of Team Splat!. We never set out to set the world on fire.. or win everything we entered.. we set out to have fun.. to give the two girls (I was never going to race track again) a decent support structure and to give it a go. I think our result hugely surpass that. We are a actual force to if not actually be reckoned with at least to be taken seriously. Our first effort with more than one rider entered and we got 1st and 2nd in D grade.

One thing that I feel strongly about in racing is that while its OK to finish last, and its OK to not train every minute, and its OK to not have it be the most important thing in your life its not OK to not take it seriously. Its not OK to not give it a decent try. Its not OK to not train at all. This is especially true of 1 on 1 competition like match sprinting or pursuits. And I,ll tell you why. If you race an opponent who does not do you the credit of putting in and you win.. then you win nothing. Your opponent was unprepared and not serious Your effort is wasted. And if they perchance should win (unlikely because not training tends to go with poor results but some people do have natural talent) then it is even a worse insult to you. It says “I can beat you without even putting in an effort, you are worth nothing, why are you here?” Its positively insulting. Not everyone agrees with me.. perhaps you need to have done Karate or another combat sport to see it this way. What do you think?

This past Sunday was the annual Around The Bay ride. The ATB is the ultimate goal of many recreational riders. Bitch Road fills up with riders of less than ordinary skill for weeks beforehand as they train for it. Sally and I decided to go for a ride.. and take in some of the atmosphere but both of us have done the event before.. and Sally had to be back early for family reasons so we decided to only go as far as Mornington.

I rode in, met Sally at the agreed rendezvous and set off. We went very hard… working mainly in with each other. pointedly staying away from the bunches although very often we ended up towing large bunches of our own. Several times in characteristic ATB style big bunches pushed past us, died instantly and we rode around the outside of them. We saw many interesting examples of inadequate roadcraft, amusing levels of non skill and amazing idioticity I mean really.. riding a TT bike.. in the bars in a bunch, and an average bunch at that.

We stopped several times for coffee and to watch the passing parade, saw the aftermath of a fatal heart attack on Olivers, Hill in Frankston (A likely place for a heart attack I must say) and stopped for coffee whenever it started raining.

On the return we followed the same procedure.. riding side by side chatting or doing bit and bit.. Sally and I riding very well together.. the trust built up by riding track very evident. Once or twice we worked in with other people one of who was on a Bike Friday. Wow you can draft those small wheeled bikes close . I figured out that you need not ever hit the back wheel, you could always put out an arm and push the bloke away. And the draft that close was amazing. I want a Bike Friday.

Afterwards Sally and I parted company on Princes Bridge. I went to the finish. Met many people I know. Drank beer. Had dinner with Kathy, and our friends Robyn and Ros. Robyn and I co own a unit in Glen Iris. Ros came down from Darwin to stay with her for the ATB. And then I rode home. Finishing off with a good hard 170 km for the day. And more hills than the ATB. A wonderful wonderful day.