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Summer Special
Edition 3.2, December 2001

Welcome to TechnoBeat, PCB Technologies regular newsletter. Summer 2001 is officially now in full swing: the occasional glorious azure blue days bringing relief from bouts of incessant rain in these parts. It's that time of the year to start thinking of lazy, soothing and perhaps grooving holidays, Christmas turkey and New Years Resolutions. 2001 has been a tricky year for the Information Technology industry, giants have fallen and unthinkables have happened. Yet PCB is emerging as strong and upbeat as ever, with a lots of exciting news for 2002. All of us at PCB say a soulful Thank You to our customers for your on-going support and loyalty, and we look forward to taking our relationship forward in the new year.

In the Summer 2001 TechnoBeat:

+ The Monthly Stationery draw winner

+ PCB Staff News

+ PCB's Support Services grow

+ Work started on new PCB premises

+ Complete range of Acer notebooks available from PCB

+ Windows XP - time for an(other) upgrade?


+++ Monthly Stationery draw winner

As an exciting incentive for Customers to buy their laser & ink jet supplies from us, we are giving away some great prizes every month. We are doing a monthly draw for our customers who buy printer toner or ink jet cartridges from us: for every R500 spent, we put a token in a box and come month end, we make a draw. We will then have the prize delivered to our buying contact at the customer.

Our November winner is the Mineral and Energy Policy Centre (MEPC), and the prize is four adult tickets to the fantastic IMAX theatre in Hyde Park. For those who haven't been, that enormous screen is an awesome experience. There are a couple of good shows on: The Blue Planet is one we highly recommend.

Please contact Michelle Pillay for any more details.

+++ PCB Staff News

Nishlen Moodley had joined PCB's Support Team as a Support Technician. He has recently moved up from Kwazulu-Natal to the Golden Province, and we are very happy to have him on board.

Siyabonga Mfeka is our new Support Technician Intern, and is currently based in our workshop under the capable supervision of Valentine Motloung.

Thulani Jaceni has acquired his A+ Certification.

Ashley van den Berg recently attended a 5-day Anti Virus training course.

+++ PCB's Support Services grow

As you might be aware, over the past few years PCB has become more orientated toward IT Support Services. And whilst we are still committed and equipped to providing turn-key solutions to our customers, we have put some time and thought into designing some new services to compliment and expand upon our existing suite, and well as respond to the needs of our customers. In the new year we will be rolling out the following:

Patch Management Services. This is a Contracted Service that ensures critical servers are kept current in terms of patches and service packs. The necessity to be pro-active in terms of patching servers is obvious to anyone who suffered downtime from the recent Nimda virus attacks. Patches generally block security exploits soon after they are discovered. However, not all patches and updates go smoothly, since sometimes they can cause trouble with existing configurations and conflicting versions of applications and operating system libraries. PCB will be leveraging on extensive experience in this field, as well as an internal database system that tracks all contracted servers and patches applied. This knowledge-base will ensure updates are deployed as soon as possible and go smoothly, thus saving customers down time and expensive labour costs in ad-hoc repairs. Our Patch Management Services (PMS) will support Linux, Microsoft NT and Windows 2000 servers as well as all versions of Novell NetWare.

DataSure Backup Management Services. An organisations data backup is perhaps both the most crucial yet also the most overlooked and neglected aspect of their IT system. Although we insist on redundant dual hard disk sub-systems in the servers of the networks we support, we have seen all the hard disk drives and complete subsystems destroyed by power surges, lightning strikes and other obnoxious electromagnetic energy. And that's not forgetting the 'ole crime problem either or the risk of fire. And even if your organisation is running daily backup, how is it being validated? And how are the tapes being stored or managed? Do you have a Disaster Recovery plan? Chances are these questions will draw an anxious blank faces from system administrators and managers.
To alleviate all these backup nightmares, PCB offers a new service product called DataSure Backup Management Services. Another contracted service, this ensures complete management of your backup system which includes collection and storage off-site of regular backup tapes, as well as log checking. The complete service will ensure peace of mind to clients that in the event of a data disaster (and they do happen), the absolute minimum of data are lost. As part of our turnkey service, we also install and service the underlying subsystems, that is tape streamers and backup scheduling software to ensure a total solution. Our preference for Backup software is CA's ArcServe product, one that we have worked with for many years.

+++ Work started on new PCB premises

Monday, December the 3rd was an important day for the 21st Century PCB: work started on the refurbishment of our new premises in Rosebank, Johannesburg. We have the entire 2nd floor of a very pleasant building in Cradock Avenue (next door to The Firs) and will be opening shop there by the 1st March 2002, so look forward to an invitation to our opening celebration. Our MilkyWay Internet café patrons can relax - that's staying right where it was conceived: in the heart of cosmopolitan and funky Yeoville.

+++ Complete range of Acer notebooks available from PCB

Chances are you will be stumped by the bewildering choice of brand names and features when it comes to buying a notebook computer. We have taken a good look at the market, as well as the importers and long term support infrastructure we know to exist, and have focussed on the fine range of Acer notebooks. These are high quality good looking units with a range of models to suit budgets. The entry level unit, the TravelMate 213TX, offers an excellent range of features and a great colour display. With the ever-falling Rand, now is a good time as any to take that plunge. Anusha Naicker can give you more details and prices, or you can go to our web site for full details on the range. There is an Enquiry facility there where you can request a formal Quotation, or even place an order.

+++ Windows XP - time for an(other) upgrade?

PC users will no doubt be aware that there is a new version of Windows out - this time it's Microsoft's 'Windows XP'. It's a really just a progression on the Windows 2000 Operating System with some additional media features and a different look. However it's got a rather disturbing registration system that locks the operation system to a particular hardware configuration (you have call in for a specific registration number) and any subsequent changes on you PC (like a RAM upgrade) means you have to call up again for another number. We foresee many a support nightmare coming up in this regard. But consider this: the CPU maker Intel is pretty much in bed with Microsoft, both hoping that all the billions of US Dollars spent on marketing will "drive the upgrade cycle" as the computer press puts it.. You see, they reckon you will need a Pentium 4 Processor to run this 'new' OS efficiently. And that means a new motherboard which doesn't take your old RAM and doesn't fit in your ol!
d case, and while you are about it how about a new 50GB hard disk drive? And then you discover your old apps don't run, so you have to upgrade them as well. Sounds familiar doesn't it ....

In the meantime, the various patches have matured Windows 2000 into a fairly stable OS: our preference over Windows 98 for the serious user. You do need a fairly potent PC (800+MHz Pentium III) with at least 128MB RAM, although 256MB is recommend. Once you setup with the correct drivers for all your hardware, it must be said that it's really stable and pleasant to use for those of us who like to do at least ten things at once.

Talking about stability, the consensus around here is that out of the Windows 9x series, Windows 95 is probably the most stable. So if you are using it at the moment, it ain't bust so don't let anyone talk you into fixing it. Of course, speed will benefit from more RAM and a faster hard disk drive.

That's it for now from TechnoBeat - enjoy the holidays and take extra care on the roads over this period.


TechnoBeat is the newsletter of PCB Technologies (Pty) Ltd and its divisions, including WiseNet Internet Services and The MilkyWay Internet Cafe. Opinions expressed by authors and contributors do not necessarily reflect PCB company policy.

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est. 1985