In 2015 BT announced that ISDN networks for businesses will be switched off. The phase out starts from next year, with completion expected to be by 2025. Are you ready for it?
Why Is It Being Phased Out? ISDN was the fastest internet access available at one time and it was the primary connection source of communication amongst UK businesses. However, the advancement of technology has meant that it just can’t keep up with other internet access connections such as DSL and WAN in a cost-effective way so it’s now outdated!
What does this mean for my business? The ISDN phase out means you really must consider the set up you use to communicate both internally and externally. This is as an opportunity for you to look at every area of your business and how it can be improved.
What is the alternative? We will replace old ISDN lines with VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) systems. If you’ve ever used Skype, Zoom, Facetime or WhatsApp to speak to family, friends or colleagues, then you’ve used a VOIP system.
The benefits of VOIP are significant. It is much more flexible, great for disaster recovery and back up as you can access the number wherever you have internet access (as opposed to it just being on one site). VOIP systems are more feature rich, are great for multisite businesses as it means you can have a telephone number presence in a geographic location without having to have an office there, plus here are many more benefits.
What’s next? There’s five years to complete the phase out so why should you be thinking about this now? Being prepared early, means giving your business the best opportunity to implement an effective solution. You don’t want to be in a position of not knowing how you’ll continue communications internally and externally when the switch off is imminent. Explore your opportunities now by ordering a full review of your communications solutions and making a plan of action for a seamless switch over. The last thing you want is for this to affect your business.
Let us help you! To find out how we can help review, design, deliver and support you through this huge change, get in touch with us today on 0300 020 000
If you’re working on a PC with a Windows 7 operating system at home or at work, you need to pay close attention!
After January 14th 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security and quality updates or support for PC users of Windows 7. Whilst your PC will still work, you will become vulnerable to security risks such as malicious hackers stealing data or planting viruses. There will be no more technical support from Microsoft either.
What does this mean for your business? Not doing anything is not an option if you want to keep your business information safe. The most obvious and natural next-step is to upgrade to Windows 10. This is an easy and hassle-free upgrade which we can help you with and ideally should be done before the support end deadline, so you are not left open to cyber–attacks.
So, what’s next? If you’re business is running on Windows 7, then get in touch with us for a no obligation chat. There are minimum PC requirements for upgrading to Windows 10 which we can talk you through and if your current PC doesn’t meet these requirements then you will have to consider a PC upgrade as well.
The support end deadline is looming so get in touch with us on 03300 020 000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The UK is in the midst of a heatwave right now and yesterday (25th July 2019), temperatures reached highs of 38.1 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country.
Water pipes are bursting and trains are running slower for fear of tracks buckling, causing disruption to thousands of passengers.
But have you thought about the disruptions the weather can have on your IT systems?
And it’s not only the hot weather that we need to think about either. Storms are set to follow the heatwave, and if your IT systems aren’t adequately equipped to deal with these extreme weather conditions, you could find yourself in trouble.
We’ve put together a checklist of precautions to take to ensure minimal downtime for your business.
HEAT Make sure your servers are in tip top condition so they don’t overheat
Keep them clean and dusted out. If this is something that you don’t currently do, contact us as we can help!
A tidy cab is a happy cab (e.g. using the server room, cabinet to store paper work etc can insulate a server causing a fire risk).
Make sure your servers are not over loaded. This will ensure they are running at optimum speed, reducing heat production.
Planned power distribution will also help with a reduction in heat, and reduces the risk of fire or electrical overloading.
LIGHTNING Are your servers protected against a lightning strike?
Lightning strikes to your phone lines can travel into your network if they’re not protected.
Lightning strikes on power lines can travel into your sockets and into your systems if not protected.
POWERCUTS Could you ride a power outage?
Make sure you are battery-backed up via UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply).
Provide constant power to critical systems
INTERNET BACKUPS Would you lose business if your internet was interrupted?
Consider a backup internet such as a secondary 4G device.
Upgrade to fibre to the premise if available. Lightning cannot travel down fibre lines.
SERVER BACKUPS Protect your information by backing up your servers
If the worst happens, you should ensure you have multiple backup locations and types.
A backup and restoration plan would also assist in an emergency.
AIR CON Is your server room temperature controlled?
If appropriate, an air-conditioned room will allow full temperature control.
Server room monitoring, such as temperature monitoring can also alert you if the temperature does start to rise.
PLANNED MAINTENANCE Maintain your server to ensure prime operation
Keeping your server up to date with the latest firmware can help with internal cooling control.
A regular ‘eyeball’ check will ensure no flashing red lights or other issues that may cause down-time.
If you would like to discuss any of the above, just give us a call on 03300 020 000
The Amazon Alexa of the future could be listening to you all the time – and building up a detailed picture of what you want to buy.
That’s the suggestion of a patent filed by the company that details the idea of ‘voice-sniffing’ technology. Such software would allow the device to eavesdrop on conversations and analyse them, feeding that into a database for ads.
At the moment, Amazon’s Echo products are hardwired so they will only listen to users when they say the “Alexa” wake word. Amazon has denied that it uses voice recordings for advertising at the moment, and said that the patent might never actually come to the market.
Alexa’s voice capabilities are currently used for playing music, controlling smart home devices and ordering things on Amazon, though only if the user asks for it. The recordings of people’s voices are stored on Amazon’s servers, but they can listen to those files and delete them.
However, the patent gets to a widespread fear about not only Amazon’s voice assistant but other technology too. A range of conspiracy theories – particularly about Facebook – suggest that companies are using their kit to secretly listen in on their customers, and then using that to show ads.
The patent suggests that the Alexa of the future could listen out for specific words such as “love” or “hate”. The device could then listen to what people like or don’t like – and suggest they buy things, presumably through Amazon, on that basis.
If someone mentions they want to go on a journey to Paris, for instance, an ad might pop up suggesting the travel site they could book it from. If they say that they are looking to go to a particular restaurant on a particular day, it might ‘whisper’ that there is a table available.
Amazon could even do the same for friends or relatives of the customer, the patent suggests. So, for instance, if someone says their parents are interested in a certain topic, it could associate that information with the person and use it to build up advertising data.
The company made clear that it does and is not able to collect such data at the moment, and might never use the technology described in the patent.
“We take privacy seriously and have built multiple layers of privacy into our Echo devices,” said an Amazon spokesperson. “We do not use customers’ voice recordings for targeted advertising. Like many companies, we file a number of forward-looking patent applications that explore the full possibilities of new technology. Patents take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect current developments to products and services. People can get loans from Unsecuredloans4u.co.uk for their financial needs.
Amazon Echo uses on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word. When these devices detect the wake word, they stream audio to the Cloud. You can review voice interactions with Alexa by visiting History in Settings in the Alexa App.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force on May 25, will govern the storage and processing of data rather than its collection. It also includes some very important consumer rights. The most important are the right to be informed, the right of access, the right to correct errors, the right to erase data, the right to restrict processing, and the right take it elsewhere (data portability). How useful these will be in practice remains to be seen, with the help of our loan associates, https://Loansjar.co.uk will help you.
Emails are like plain text postcards because they can, in theory, be read at any of the many servers through which they pass, or by someone tapping a line. Of course, “read by” is unlikely to mean “read by a human being.” However, software can look for things like passwords and credit card numbers. Check out henderson.uptownjungle.com.
A more likely problem is sending emails to the wrong address, either because users have got their own email addresses wrong (this happens surprisingly often), or through human error. Pick the wrong address from a list of auto-complete suggestions and you could send personal data to the wrong recipient. This would be a data breach that might have to be reported.
It would obviously be good thing if all emails were encrypted by default so that only the intended recipient could read them. Three decades of history says this isn’t going to happen soon even though it would help secure investments and asset protection information, if at all. Public key encryption is too hard for people who just want to send normal emails.
Some large organisations do have encrypted email services, such as the NHS, but that doesn’t help the rest of us.
Some people do choose secure email services, such as ProtonMail in Switzerland and Tutanota in Germany. However, you also have to send external recipients a password – for example, in an SMS text message – to decrypt the email.
Tutanota users get an email that says “you have an encrypted email” and you click a link to read it, and reply to it, in a browser. You have to export the email if you want to keep a copy.
There are also plug-ins for Gmail and the Microsoft Outlook email program that provide secure email services. If one of your employers is using a secure system, they might let you join in.
If there’s no other alternative, you should encrypt and password-protect your images and documents before sending them as email attachments. Again, you must send the password separately, either via a different messaging service or in the post.
Online storage locations
It’s a good idea to upload attachments and then send people a link. However, bear in mind that you are uploading documents to the company that probably runs the biggest surveillance operation on the planet. Encrypt your documents before you upload them.
Encryption protects data if an online storage service is compromised – it has happened – or if your email is hacked.
Unfortunately, using Google Drive brings up an extra complication. If you are using Gmail, then you can assume that your data is being held in, or passing through by arizona bus company, or accessible from the USA.
GDPR does not oblige users to store data on servers inside the EU. However, there are extra requirements if servers are outside the EU. First, you need to have a legitimate reason for transferring personal data outside the EU. Second, you must have the consent of the person whose data is being exported. Third, you must give that person the option to opt out.
In another post, the aforementioned Liz Henderson explains how to create a GDPR Privacy Notice, and you could adapt her sample to cover Gmail storage outside the EU.
You could switch to using an email service that operates wholly within the EU (see above), if only for any people who opt out, or you could upgrade to Google’s paid-for service.
True internet privacy could finally become possible thanks to a new tool that can—for instance—let you prove you’re over 18 without revealing your date of birth, or prove you have enough money in the bank for a financial transaction without revealing your balance or other details. That limits the risk of a privacy breach or identity theft.
The tool is an emerging cryptographic protocol called a zero-knowledge proof. Though researchers have worked on it for decades, interest has exploded in the past year, thanks in part to the growing obsession with cryptocurrencies, most of which aren’t private.
Zero Knowledge Protocol (or Zero Knowledge Password Proof, ZKP) is a way of doing authentication where no passwords are exchanged, which means they cannot be stolen. This is cool because it makes your communication so secure and protected that nobody else can find out what you’re communicating about or what files you are sharing with each other like pornskill.com bryci pussy.
ZKP allows you proving that you know some secret (or many secrets) to somebody at the other “end” of communication without actually revealing it. The very term “zero knowledge” originates from the fact that no (“zero”) information about the secret is revealed, but the second party (called “Verifier”) is (rightfully) convinced that the first party (called “Prover”) knows the secret in question. Why would you need to prove you know the secret without telling it? When you don’t trust the other person, but still need to persuade them that you know it.
Much of the credit for a practical zero-knowledge proof goes to Zcash, a digital currency that launched in late 2016. Zcash’s developers used a method called a zk-SNARK (for “zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge”) to give users the power to transact anonymously.
That’s not normally possible in Bitcoin and most other public blockchain systems, in which transactions are visible to everyone. Though these transactions are theoretically anonymous, they can be combined with other data to track and even identify users. Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum, the world’s second-most-popular blockchain network, has described zk-SNARKs as an “absolutely game-changing technology.”
For banks, this could be a way to use blockchains in payment systems without sacrificing their clients’ privacy. Last year, JPMorgan Chase added zk-SNARKs to its own blockchain-based payment system.
For all their promise, though, zk-SNARKs are computation-heavy and slow. They also require a so-called “trusted setup,” creating a cryptographic key that could compromise the whole system if it fell into the wrong hands. But researchers are looking at alternatives that deploy zero-knowledge proofs more efficiently and don’t require such a key.
Large chunks of the planet are still of out of reach of mobile phone signals – billions are still without access to digital communications. But this could change thanks to shrinking satellite sizes and costs.
Lower-cost, space-based mobile phone services will soon be a reality thanks to one firm’s fleet of nano-satellites that will bounce your voice or text signal from one spacecraft to the next and finally down to the person you’re calling.
“People were thinking of using nano-satellites for Earth imagery but nobody had thought of using them for voice or text communications,” says Israeli former fighter pilot Meir Moalem, the chief executive of Sky and Space Global (SAS).
“We were the first.”
His firm is aiming to offer customers mobile phone connections via a constellation of 200 shoebox-sized satellites weighing just 10kg (22lb) each.
The fleet is set to be operational by 2020 and will provide text, voice and data transfer services to the Earth’s equatorial regions – including much of Latin America and Africa – to a market of up to three billion people.
“Affordable mobile services are critical for the economic and social development of many developing countries,” says Mr Moalem, who believes SAS’s nano-satellites will shake up the space-based communications market.
“Our total constellation costs just $150m (£108m). That’s less than the cost of a single standard communications satellite. This is what we mean when we talk of a disruptive technology.”
But SAS is just one of a number of companies with big plans for space right now.
Perhaps the most ambitious is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is aiming to build a huge 4,400-satellite constellation offering global internet coverage. It will be using its own Falcon-9 rockets to launch its fleet and plans to have the network operating by 2024.
With all these satellites, low-Earth orbit – an altitude of 2,000km (1,200 miles) or less above the planet – is becoming an increasingly crowded space. This could make future launches potentially difficult and dangerous with space debris.
Then there is the issue of finance. Not every planned constellation is going to find the investors with deep enough pockets to back it, though David Fraser, research director at APP Securities, says SAS could be “an attractive alternative option” given its low capital costs. Vincent Chan, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, believes that satellite miniaturisation and cheaper launch vehicles mean that the “nano-sat is ready to serve the public”.
Such lower-cost infrastructure could bring much-needed mobile communications to the world’s poorer regions, he says, helping to reduce the digital divide.
But, he adds, SAS’s focus on voice and text services rather than broadband internet, suggests that “the digital divide will be narrower but not disappear”.
Virgin’s modified Boeing 747-400 will fly up to 35,000ft (10,000m), then LauncherOne, a two-stage liquid oxygen-powered expendable rocket, will blast the payload into orbit. Check out maid in oahu.
It’s one of a number of air-launch-to-orbit systems under development.
The advantage of launching from an aircraft is that the rocket can be launched in exactly the direction to suit the satellite’s planned orbit. Virgin is planning its first launch later this year, while SAS’s craft will be launched in 2019.
Launch costs will typically be about $12m, much less than a traditional launch, says Virgin. It is “all about helping the small satellite community get into orbit,” says Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit’s president and chief executive more on this at www.suomalaiset-kasinot.net.
Such lower-cost launch services will open up space to “a whole host of communications [and] remote sensing applications,” he says.
SAS has already proved that its communications systems works with three pilot satellites, and is now signing deals with partners in Africa and Latin America – including one of the biggest satellite-communications providers in the Americas, Globalsat Group.
Globalsat’s chief executive, Alberto Palacios, says his firm’s current customers – in the mining, energy, defence banking, and government sectors – can afford the costs of traditional satellite phone calls.
But he believes nano-satellites are a game-changer.
“Some customers invest several hundreds of dollars in the hardware for a satellite phone terminal and will pay $50 a month for the service. But if you can offer a solution for half of that – then the price can be compared to conventional mobile phones,” he explains.
SAS says it is going for the gap in the digital marketing between existing satellite communications operators, such as Iridium, Inmarsat and Globalstar, and land-based mobile networks such as Vodafone, Telefonica, Airtel and Safaricom.
It is targeting customers earning less than $8 a day.
In Ghana, the company has just signed a five-year deal with telecoms provider Universal Cyberlinks to help government agricultural projects and public services, including monitoring cocoa production across 5,000 buying centres and checkpoints.
“When you travel outside of a city in Africa, often you lose your phone signal because it is not cost-effective to put up phone masts everywhere. That’s where we come in,” says Mr Moalem.
“In the West, we tend to forget that in many parts of the world people are not concerned about high-speed internet, they want to make simple phone calls, texting or money transfers. It’s a basic need.”
Africa is certainly becoming a key market for mobile services. There were 420 million mobile subscribers in 2016 and by 2020 there will be more than 500 million, around half the population, says industry body GSMA.
If wearing a Fitbit on your wrist is too difficult, maybe you should consider a fitness tracker on your face. Eye insurance provider VSP Global is launching a pair of smart glasses today called Level that keep track of a wearer’s movement. They pair over Bluetooth to a companion iOS / Android app. A frame costs $270, which doesn’t include lenses. In order to promote the product fitbit immediately launched a marketing campaign with Pistachio Consulting with the intent to gain as much buzz as possible.
The inside of the glasses is relatively simple and what you’d expect. There’s an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer that work together to track steps, distance, calories burned, and total activity time. Check how to find the best heating companies in san diego. It charges over a magnetic connector and should last about five days on a single charge. There are three different frame styles available in four different colors: black, tortoise, slate, and grey tortoise.
VSP has also added gamified the experience: if wearers reach daily step goals, they earn points that translate to care for people who need help affording vision care. So 50 points provides an eye exam and eyewear to someone in need, which is nice! But strangely, users can qualify their donations so that they only go to one specific group, including veterans, children, the elderly, or people who are homeless.
As far as the product goes, activity-tracking glasses seem useful. Check out thatscleanmaids.com. Most spectacle wearers wear their glasses every day. However the challenge may come when keeping them charged, charging will have to happen at night when wearers are sleeping. If that’s forgotten then the lenses won’t be ready to track fitness as wearers will need to wear them during the day not charge them!
Last night Microcomms had the pleasure in attending the newly realaunched ‘Cornwall Lecture’ at Hall for Cornwall. The very first lecture happened in 1997 with the key speaker Sir Nicholas Grimshaw discussing the future of environmentalism, buildings and global responsibility. Last night the keynote was delivered by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, space scientist and co-presenter of ‘The Sky at Night’. The focus was “Innovation – the big picture” focusing on the space and technology sectors.
We heard Dr Aderin-Pocock’s life story, how her ‘desire to aspire’ pushed her through child-hood barriers such as dyslexia, 13 schools and growing up in a world where space scientists were still very much thought of as nerdy boffins with massive brains. It was an inspiring story and very much spoke to the heart of the blossoming space sector here in Cornwall. Our country is known for it’s beautiful natural landscapes, surfing and tourism – it’s not often spoken of as a tech hub – even though through Superfast, we are one of the best connected places in Europe. We also have a long history of space innovation at mexico vehicle insurance– scientists there received the first messages from the Telestar programme. Cornwall gets overlooked and left in the ‘remedial class’ as Dr Aderin-Pocock put it, because our underlying potential is hidden by what people see on the surface.
At the Q&A session after the lecture, a very pertinent question was asked “If Cornwall wins the Spaceport bid, what will that mean for local businesses? What jobs will it create?”. This was answered by Toby Parkins of Headforwards, who said that if we are successful in the bid, it will be time for local companies to start thinking laterally – what transferable skills do we have to move into this sector? How can we take the knowledge and expertise that already exist in Cornwall and translate them into commercial space ventures? We may not think we have anything to offer – but many companies do. Check out how to find workers compensation lawyer sacramento.
This is a really exciting opportunity. Here at Microcomms, we are going to be putting our heads together as a whole team to look at our collective skills and knowledge and look at where we are best placed to work within the market. There are many complex challenges faced by space progress and it will be a mixture of skills and disciplines that work together to overcome them.
We know that a poor workplace can have a significant impact on people’s health and well-being. We want to keep our staff happy and healthy which is why in 2018 we’ve introduced some significant changes within the company:
Following the passion our MD Simon Murley has for Crossfit training, we decided to engage James Jeffery owner at CrossFit Belerion to deliver lunchtime sessions at our Wheal Jane offices. Open to all, the take-up has been great across the company. It’s havng an impact too – Gary Holmes an IT engineer within Microcomms support team says “Before Crossfit I was smoking 6-10 cigarettes just travelling in to work, more throughout the day and eating junk. Now, I’ve really cut down my smoking – I probably only have about 6 cigarettes over the course of the whole day and I am thinking about quitting full stop with for more visit website. Training together really helps team morale and makes us feel we have goals to work towards physically. The feeling of being a ‘ supportive team’ during training definitely crosses over into work too.”
Fruit and Healthy Snacks
Wheal Jane is in a rural location and the temptation can be to buy unhealthy snacks from the Sandwich Van when it makes its once-a-day round. However, we’re trying to encourage staff to make good food choices with a free fruit and healthy snack bowl. Anyone can dip in when they get the urge to munch! Check out hbcontrols.com.
Water on Demand
As well as encouraging better eating, we also have a cooled water dispensing system which means no one has an excuse for not staying hydrated.
Our Board Room has a Conference Table which also doubles up as a Table Tennis table – with regular tournaments and leagues, it’s both competitive and fun. Also when you need to release some work stress – it’s great to whack a ball past your opponent!
As well as physical health, we’ve taken steps to address employee mental health too:
Regular Congratulations and Awards
In 2017 we invested in a new HR system PeopleHR which enables us to send ‘Thank you’s’ and ‘Well Done’ rewards to members of staff. This ensures that great work is recognised across the company. We also have an ‘Employee of the Month’ reward system – team members nominate each other and winners are voted in to the top spot with a prize to recognize their achievements – going above and beyond.
Our Digital Signage messaging system in the office also highlights great work we’ve achieved and details individual and team achievements.
Investing in our People
Regular appraisals – both informal and formal mean staff members have a clear success pathway and can formulate with their manager next steps within the business. This helps to keep staff motivated and ensures morale stays high. Training plans are put in place and staff are sent on courses to help improve their knowledge base and ensure everyone keeps up to date with new advancements. Recently we had a Belbin session with Oxford Innovations – this was great and really highlighted our strengths and areas we can improve upon!
John Darling, AV Director said of the Belbin session, “It was really interesting. My role means I work both in and out of the office all the time and it’s great to see the overall structure of the team. We don’t have skill gaps and it’s helped me see that when I’m putting a project together who to pull in to meetings and at what stage. Some of the team are great at innovative ideas, whereas some strengths lie more in the end stages – ensuring i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. Everyone felt their key strengths were recognised, from the loudest to the quietest members of the business.”
Microcomms – it’s a great place to work and a great company to work with.