This is a common dilemma when trying to decide what to invest your IT budget in, laptop or desktop PC?  Today we are going to go through the considerations we advise our clients who are unsure to help them make the decision.  It is never the case that one is better than the other, there are just pros and cons to each option.  Lets breakdown how to weigh these up for your situation.

Lets go right back to the basics, a desktop PC is a stationary device which will stay on a desk and consist of a tower, monitor, keyboard and mouse as a minimum.  Whereas a laptop is a portable device that has these all built into one transportable chassis meaning you can use it anywhere while on the go.

The key consideration when deciding between a laptop and a desktop is, will I need to move my working location frequently?  In other words, are you likely to set yourself up at a desk and always use the device there or do you want to work at various different locations or setups?  If you are looking to setup a fixed working area and don’t require the flexibility to take your device with you wherever you go a PC is the one for you.

Desktops tend to be more customisable in terms of their spec and you can get more for your money, as the components don’t need to fit in such a small portable chassis.  Laptops of the same spec as a desktop PC will generally be a higher price, and this is why we recommend a desktop over a laptop if you do not need the portability.  The other advantage is that a desktop is easier to upgrade components in the future if you need additional spec, whereas this is much harder in a laptop and might mean you need to buy another machine if the spec can’t be upgraded to what is required.

This is where the argument comes in that if your budget will allow and you need portability but also want performance, having a desktop and a laptop working together will provide you with the best solution.  This way, the laptop won’t need to be such a high spec it just needs to be sufficient for the work you do on the go, and you can get a good spec desktop for the majority of your work.  And especially if you utilise cloud storage through Microsoft 365’s One Drive for example you can ensure that you have access to all your files on both machines and work seamlessly between them.

If you are looking for a new desktop or laptop and unsure what would suit your needs best please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Team here at MJD.  Lets make IT work for YOU.

Gone are the days of being able to easily identify a phishing or scam email, as these are usually caught by our spam filters or move straight into our junk folders.  More and more we need to be vigilant against every email we receive into our inbox as we see increasing threats from hackers.  Today’s blog we want to encourage you to form the habit of answering the following 3 questions for every email you receive.

  1. Was I expecting an email from this individual?

Is this an email on a subject that you have been dealing with this individual previously or an ongoing piece of work you are collaborating on?  If the answer is yes, you are not completely safe yet.  Hackers can be very patient people and will sit and monitor an inbox and will try and learn the type of emails this person may send or that you may receive.  They can even spoof or gain access to this individuals mailbox to make the email look even more genuine.  If the answer is no, pick up the phone and give the individual a call.  It will take you only a few minutes to double check with the individual, but think of the hours of downtime you might save if you have avoided allowing a cyber attack to infiltrate your organisation.

  1. Do I usually receive emails with attachments from this individual?

Is this something which you usually receive attached to an email?  If the answer is yes, has it come at the usual time and day?  Is the file format what you are expecting?  If not, the same solution applies to give the individual a call to check if they meant to send this to you.

  1. Do I usually receive attachments like this?

What we mean by this is, if it’s an invoice do you usually work with invoices and receive them?  Or a quotation or purchase order?  Is it a document you usually receive and work with, if not then question why it’s been sent to you and give the individual in question a call.

As you can see, the same check is relevant to all three questions, just to pick up the phone and give the individual a call to double check this was meant to be sent to you.  At the end of the day, the worst that can happen is you have a chat with them and maybe even discuss what they’ve sent you or what you’re working on, and in the best case scenario, one phone call saves the whole organisation from the threat of a cyber attack.

If you have any questions about phishing or spam emails, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.  No question is a stupid question when it comes to protecting your company from a cyber attack.

Over the past year we’ve probably all had to deal with one of these three connections to get a monitor setup in our home office but ever wondered what the difference is between each one?  Lets dive right in and explain.

Let’s start with the abbreviations:

VGA = Video Graphics Array

DVI = Digital Visual Interface

HDMI = High Definition Multimedia Interface

VGA is the oldest connection out of these three, it was first developed by IBM in 1987 and it allows for the display of 356 colours on monitors. DVI was designed by Digital Display Working Group in 1999 with the aim of replacing VGA to allow monitors to display a true-colour palette.  HDMI first began development in 2002 by few different companies and made the previous two connections obsolete.  It allows for the transmission of high-definition audio/video, along with 8-channel audio transmission.

VGA being the oldest technology is slowly being phased out of new devices and when converting VGA to newer technology through adapters it can result in lower quality video as the signal goes from analogue to digital.  VGA also can only provide a maximum of 640 x 480 resolution whereas DVI can go up to 1920 x 1200 for single link and 2560 x 1600 for dual-link connections.  However, HDMI is now the most preferred connection as it can transmit both sound and video and can support 4k.

If you have any questions on your connections to your monitors in your work place or home office setup please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

Well hoomans, Flora here, since our last update the dastardly duo has become the three amigos!  Myself and Skye have welcomed Shadow into our canine team here at MJD.  Shadow has joined us in the roll of Petwork Security Analyst.  Please join us in a warm cyber welcome to Shadow!

 

The role of Petwork Security Analyst is an important role, Shadow helps his hooman secure computers and networks from security threats like phishing attacks, although why a fish who lives in the water would want to go anywhere near an electronic device beats us.  Shadow also sniffs out any potential intruders and points these out to his hooman to lock it down!

The work from home life is the one for us dogs, we’ve mastered the art of the video calls from our beds.  Although working a mouse or keyboard with our paws continues to be a rather tiresome task, which we just end up delegating to the hoomans.  We also like to make sure that during the MJD meetings that we make our presence known so that the hoomans don’t all forget who the real management are!

 

The lovely summer weather has allowed us some even more exciting activities at a weekend.  Skye has discovered swimming in the sea, much to my distaste, I am not so keen on jumping into the waves.  I prefer to paddle my paws.  Shadow loves to keep an eye on all the birds in the garden and on a walk and loves a cuddle with his hooman and mini-hoomans at the end of a hard day’s work!

Some of you may be wondering whether we managed to get our treat pay rise that we were negotiating in our last update, and after many puppy dog eyes to our hoomans we all secured an extra treat!  Woof!  Time to launch the next round of negotiations for more sleep time, Skye, Shadow on the count of three, puppy dog eyes! 1…2…3!

 

 

This week our blog is focused on our search for an IT Support Apprentice!  We’re looking for an enthusiastic and focused individual to join our team here at MJD.

As our IT Support Apprentice you will be working alongside a team of IT Professionals, two of which have previously undertaken Modern Apprenticeships, so we have good experience in providing a high quality and enjoyable apprenticeship and learning to help you grow your skills and confidence in the workplace.  You can see Marko and Gareth below when they were interviewed by DYW in 2017 for Scottish Apprenticeship week.

Some of your main roles and responsibilities will include: –

  • being the first point of contact for customers when reporting their technical issues by phone or email
  • providing an effective remote support service for customers
  • resolving a range of technical issues and incidents that our clients face
  • delivering excellent customer service at all times.

As our IT Support Apprentice you will get a variety of experience working with our team on remote troubleshooting sessions and in the workshop.  You will also get experience and knowledge of the many services and processes we carry out for our clients to ensure their IT continues to run smoothly.

At the end of last year, we produced a video for DYW with our advice and experiences of a career in IT, which may be beneficial to help you decide if this position is a good fit for you.

For further details and applications, you can either go to the position on Moray Pathways here or you can apply through our Facebook job advert.  We’re excited to hear from our applicants and to welcoming our new apprentice to the MJD Team.

In our last blog post we touched upon the topic of driver software, so lets dive deeper into the role of a driver and why they are necessary to allow your PC or laptop to run.

A driver is a small piece of software which communicates the instructions from your devices Operating System (OS) and the programmes in use on the device.  It acts in much the same way as a translator would, to allow us to understand another individual speaking in a foreign language.  The driver gives the OS and installed programmes the correct language to communicate with your device.  Internal devices such as Disk drives, DVD drives, sound and graphics cards and external devices like printers, keyboards and monitors all require drivers to work properly with your PC or laptop.  Most of the time without the correct driver, the device may not function properly, if even at all.

Device drivers mean that each device you might want to connect with your PC doesn’t need to be able to communicate directly with any possible combination of software and OS on your PC.  The device driver doesn’t need to have an interface that you as the user can interact with and understand as it allows the software or OS to communicate with you as the user.

Drivers like any piece of software get updates too, and sometimes when you experience an issue with a device or your PC it can be due to an out of date driver.  As a result, you may sometimes hear or be told by our engineers that they are checking the drivers installed on your PC and then checking for any updates, to see if this will resolve your issues.  Just as new words are added to the vocabulary and translations between languages need updated, the language that our computers use changes and develops.  Windows 10 has a large amount of built-in drivers, and therefore this may be why until reading this blog you have rarely come across or had to consider your device drivers.  Hopefully this will help to give you some understanding of what a driver is and why it’s necessary ready for the next time you are speaking with one of the team here at MJD about an issue on your PC caused by your drivers.

This week we are going to demystify what an Operating System is.  The term is sometimes shortened to OS as well.  Our mobile phones, laptops, PCs and servers all have operating systems to be able to run the applications and carry out the tasks we require of them on a day to day basis.

So, what is an operating system?  It is the primary software installed on a device that manages and coordinates the hardware and software installed on the device.  It provides us as the user with an easier way to interact with the device.  It manages all devices which provide input to the device and sends information to output devices.  It does this with software called drivers which are written by the hardware creators to allow it to communicate with other devices.  Common examples of Operating System are Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iOS.

To explain how this works, lets run through an example of a task many of us carry out on a frequent basis: printing a document in Microsoft Word on a Windows machine.

 

This means that your software programmes do not have to worry about all the different input and output devices that might be used, it just passes the instruction to the Operating System to deal with it.  Without an Operating System you could not run many of the programmes you use day to day as they would not be able to communicate with the hardware connected to your device.  It is a very important piece of software in our IT setup that often gets overlooked, but not today in our blog!

 

We all want to ensure our customers are happy with the service we provide, and if our customers are going to be waiting or carrying out daily tasks in our premises, we may want to provide them with an internet connection.  Especially in our area of Scotland, where sometimes the 4G signal may not be up to scratch.  However, are you allowing a security risk to your entire network by handing out your wireless password.

If you haven’t secured your wireless network then plain and simple, this is a massive security risk and you should stop immediately.  The best way to offer your customers a wireless option, is through separate private and public wireless networks.  This allows you to segregate and control the access the public has to your business network to avoid a damaging data breach.  This does not mean you need to have two separate broadband lines and separate access points for private and public.  There are access points on the market that allow segregation within the same access point network.  The team at MJD have fitted and maintain these systems across our clients networks and can do so remotely to reduce site visits and costs for our clients.

While security is the main concern you should have with offering customers wifi, it is also important to consider that this reflects on your business image.  If your wifi is slow and unreliable, then it may be best not to offer wifi until you are able to resolve the issue.  If this is something you and your customers are experiencing, there could be several reasons why.  The speed of your broadband connection, the hardware providing the wireless connection and the activities the wifi users are performing could all be having an affect.  If your wireless network is not setup to limit streaming/downloading one customer could spoil the wireless connection for all users.

If any of these issues seem familiar please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD and let’s make IT work for YOU.

There are a lot of steps and tasks to be completed when you are hiring a new employee and the IT requirements of that new employee can be just one step in the whole process.  This week we want to highlight how important it is to give your IT support sufficient time to setup all the required hardware, software and user accounts.  We’ll also break it down into the different stages and points that you should consider when preparing for a new employee.

First off, how much notice does your IT support require to successfully setup a new employee ready for their first day?  There are two main factors which can drastically change the required time which we need to consider here:

  • Is new hardware required?
  • If existing hardware, is it fit for purpose and has no outstanding issues?

If new hardware is required, the more notice you can give the increased chance of successfully ordering, receiving, and prepping the devices in time for the new start there is.  Currently, with the worldwide chip shortage (read our blog post on this here) the lead times for laptops and PCs are increasing.  This means the likelihood of finding a fit for purpose spec off the shelf is extremely slim and will require a build date, subject to parts being in stock.  As a bare minimum 1 month’s notice for new hardware for a new start should allow for build, delivery, workshop prep and on-site setup ready for your new start.

If there is existing hardware, it is important to schedule a health check of the PC as soon as you know you wish to assign this PC to the new start to ensure the PC will be fit for purpose and in working order.  Remember, if any issues are discovered and you require to go for new hardware, the timescales above would apply.  So, as soon as you know you are hiring a new employee and want to use existing hardware, schedule a health check for the hardware.  This will give you maximum chance of successfully having a fully functioning setup for your new employee.

It basically comes down to that the earlier you involve your IT support, the more chance of success you have on the first day of your new employees career with you.  Here at MJD, we encourage our clients to get in touch with us early so that we can help advise on the best solutions and setups for the new role.  We are here to ensure IT improves your efficiencies and supports your core business, not hinder.

There are a couple of other factors that are important to consider when getting your new start setup, which we have detailed in a handy infographic to help you make sure you have all the details decided prior to setup of your new employee.

 

This infographic should help you to cover the main points to be considered in the IT setup of a new employee and help you have a successful first day for your new start!  If you have any questions after reading this post, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.  Let’s make IT work for YOU!

The shortage of computer chips was an initial effect of lockdowns and factory shutdowns because of COVID-19 last year, and production is now back to normal.  However, the way in which we use IT and the fundamental way we all now work has changed and looks likely to stay in some form in our future.  The increase in demand for laptops and devices to help us work from home has therefore increased the number of chips required to produce these products and currently demand is higher than the supply.

What we are seeing here at MJD is common IT networking components are going out of stock and the incoming stock’s lead time is much longer than what we would usually have seen.  To the point where the lead times can be a couple of months.

What does this mean for you?  The more advance warning of IT requirements that you can give us the better chance we have of successfully achieving the desired outcome ready for when you need it.  Because our usual options may be low stock or a long lead time it will mean we need to review and work with the stock available to ensure that we can still provide you with a fit for purpose and effective IT solution.  It also means that IT components which need chips will increase in price, so again this means it is important to involve us from the beginning of your plans so we can give you current prices to allow you to determine the total cost of the project for budgeting requirements.

You may be thinking, as restrictions ease and we all get setup with the IT hardware we require to work in our “new normal” patterns that this will ease and become okay.  However, the chip industry is advising that this problem could take them a few years to resolve completely due to the time taken to expand through building new factories and getting these tested and qualified for production to begin.  This is why we wanted to warn our clients and to help you understand that any major IT projects you wish to carry out, consider getting in touch with us as early as possible so that we can plan with you and advise any components lead times at that point so we can make your IT work for YOU.