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March 2013

In this March 2013 PCB Newsletter we have news on a special deal on a Windows 8 upgrade, an overview of some of cloud-based technologies that might be of interest to our customers, and details of Abobe CS2 for free.

Windows 8 upgrades

The latest evolution of Microsoft’s Windows Operating System is out there, and draws some inspiration from some the tablet operating systems. But good looks aside, underneath the bonnet it’s a strong, stable and mature operating system which we recommend.

For the 14th of March 2013 we are offering this Special: Windows 8 Profession Upgrade for only R495

It might also be an opportunity to upgrade your hard disk to a fast and more reliable SSD’s (Solid State Disc), and we can supply a variety of brands such as Intel, Kingston and ADATA to suit your needs and budget. Call us for details, or check your PC or Laptop into our Technical Service centre for an upgrade assessment and quotation, or why not call to arrange for a site visit.

The Virtual Office

Not too long ago, Virtuality (or Virtual Reality) was something you only read about in William Gibson novels. And much has been said in the media and elsewhere about "The Cloud" and its utility to the IT User Community. Separating hype from utility, some of the ideas and technology hatched in Science Fiction have reaching maturity, and we have some great products in this regards which we believe could be very useful to some of our clients. Virtual means it's there, but not really there, but as good as being there.

Microsoft Office 365 is an evolution of the omnipresent Office Application suite, to virtuality and The Cloud. This not only gives you and your organisation an email system including shared calenders, shared and private storage space and more. It offers members of an organisation all the features of being connected an Exchange server without having to own and maintain such a server. For small and medium organisations, and even some large ones, this will come as a big relief. No longer do you have to buy the software, there is a monthly or annual subscription fee. Other versions of Office 365 include the application suite of Word, Excel and other Office applications, without having to buy the licence outright, or tying the installation to any one particular PC. All you need to be is on-line: the back-end of the services lives in The Cloud, meaning it shouldn’t bother you where they actually operate from, or how. Added to the package is shared storage, back up and access from any Browser enabled Internet device.

Google Apps is another option, offering a similar virtual office work space with back end services, storage and other utilities, plus integration into other Google services.

There is also some great Virtual PABX products, so that a group our people in a virtual office can have their own phone system, as one would do in an office. These are based on VOIP Phones (Voice over IP), and a subscription to one of the Service Providers we recommended.

Although it could be argued that the move to this technology increases the dependency on other higher-order centralised systems (which essentially the Personal Computer liberated us from) , having to be on-line on the Internet and not owning and controlling your own kit, for some the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages , and these solutions will be worth considering. PCB can offer a professional service on all the options here, and together with our partners we can offer a complete solution from consulstancy, installtation and training.

Virtual Notes

How do you keep track of notes / ideas / memos / minutes / To Do lists and data on the move and between all your portable devices and desktop PC back at home base? Emailing yourself is an old favourite, but there other solutions out there. And they are getting more plentiful and easier to use. Here are some products that we have been putting to good use over the years.

SPB Wallet is a handy and secure application for the storage of sensitive information such as card and account numbers, PIN’s, passwords, logins. Security is good with 256-bit AES Encryption of all data. Using the app means keying in a password before you can access the data, and it auto-locks so its not left open. You can store your information in a hierarchical structure of your choosing, and various templates are given, such as popular credit card formats. It can also launch a browser from a record, passing the login information to the web site address you store there. You synchronise the data between devices directly or by storing it to a central location, such as a GMail Account. It’s a tight and very handy app for dealing with the deluge of logins and passwords we are faced with, although you have to remember to sync after important changes. Windows, Android and Windows Mobile is supported at this point. SPD is a Russian software company and has its roots in the first incarnations of Microsoft’s mobile OS Windows CE well over a decade ago, offering some very fine products to make those devices more usable. They offer a plethora of other mobile software products, SPB 3D Shell is another of their products worth mentioning.

Dropbox makes pooling data files between disparate devices over the Internet a breeze. The software creates a dropbox folder on your PC or device, and whatever you store there will be replicated to other devices that login to that account, with no further ado. The files can be anything: documents, spreadsheets, pictures, video files, even binaries. It’s like an Internet-wide Shared folder, replicated to your device. To share a file means ‘dropping’ the file in that folder (‘the box’), and a status indicator will advise the state of synchronisation on the other devices; a Green tick means all done. You can share a folder with other people: its as easy as a right-click and entering an email address, and they are sent a link. Other handy features include version storing and tracking, so you can retrieve a previous version of a file. You can also access your files via the dropbox website, and create ‘Public’ folders that anyone can access. The free service is limited to 2GB (with a 500MB bonus for every ‘referral’), the Pro service is a monthly fee starting at $9.99/month with 100GB+ plans. The Team version is directed towards businesses and plans start at 1TB for 5 users. Most mobile and desktop operating systems are supported.

Taking the concept of shared data between devices even further is Evernote. This app is particularly useful for duplicating notes or collated info made on tablets and smartphones whilst on the move, to desktops at home and at the office. Evernote provides a workspace based on the concept of Notes and Notebooks, which can be shared between just about every digital device on the market. Anything can be attached to a note, including files, images and audio. Notes are searchable, including handwritten text inside attached images, and there is a system of tagging data to help with organising content. The synchronisation is done automatically at regular intervals but can be done anytime by clicking on the Sync button. Notes can be shared with Evernote users and also via email, social media and on the web, even if the recipient isn't an Evernote user. The free version is limited to100 000 notes of 25 MB each and the Premium version 100 MB each. Confidential notes can be encrypted with a 64-bit RC2 key, otherwise all data transfers are relatively secure over the Internet using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

Our team will be willing to help with any further advice and support services, give us a call or make an enquiry via our web site, and we will be in touch,

Adobe CS2 for free, oh yes!

Recently Abobe made an older version of is Creative Suite CS2 open for free downloading, complete with license keys. This include Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and a few other applications. This is suitable for home use on older XP PC’s and the total download is a 13+GB. If you are interested, we have it downloaded already at our MilkyWay Internet Café in The Zone here in Rosebank, and can write it to one of our stock SD Cards, or USB Drives, or a Blu Ray Disc for you to collect, or just drop past with your NTFS -formatted USB External Hard Disk. Call 011 447 1295 for more details.


Thanks for reading, and regards from all of us at PCB.


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