Are you considering getting IT support for your business?  It can be difficult to carry out the research and determine who would work best for your business with so many sources of information to consider online.  So this week we want to give you 4 key areas to focus your research and questions on for your short list of IT support providers.  Let’s look at each area in turn.

Experience

Do they have experience in the IT industry?  This is an important question to determine the reliability of the IT support you will receive.  If they have good experience in the IT support industry, they will be better equipped to provide you with reliable and timely response to IT issues.

Do they have experience with your industry?  How can they demonstrate this experience to you?  Do they have references and recommendations?  It is important that your IT support provider has experience in any software packages you use as a critical part of your business, and if they have current or previous experience of working with companies in your industry this can help with resolving specific issues that arise with your software packages.  Without this knowledge, it could increase the time taken to troubleshoot such issues.

Knowledge

Does the company and their engineers have the current qualifications that you would expect or desire from an IT support provider?  Ask if they regularly invest in their engineers training and that they have the required qualifications to ensure they can provide the services that you need.  Ask about the skills available with their organisation to get an understanding of the breadth and depth of the knowledge of the engineers that will be working on your IT.  Do they have the knowledge and expertise on all the services you require them to look after?  But sometimes it’s not just about the technology, what about your local area?  Are they aware of any challenges that make the area your business is based in unique? The team here at MJD certainly know that the North of Scotland has a variety of different challenges based on the rural and remote locations of some of our clients and this needs to be factored into their IT requirements to ensure that the solutions work for their circumstances.

Products and Services

What relationships do they have with the best IT services for things such as Cyber Security, anti-virus, remote management, back-up, Microsoft offerings etc?  Do they have dedicated account managers and partnerships with these services and tools that they will provide to you to help you run your business efficiently?  Once they provide this information, ask yourself if this is the standard of products and services you want or require for your business.

Contract Options

What support contracts do they offer and what are their response times for each offering?  You need to know going into any support contract what response time to expect for the service you are purchasing from them.  This will help you to both have a more successful and low stress relationship going forward, allowing for the chance at a very productive business using IT to your advantage.

If you want to ask MJD about any of these questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.  We’d be more than happy to help.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM EVERYONE AT MJD SYSTEMS

Mark, Jill, Craig, Ian, Gareth, Marko, Lawrence, Aidan, Natalie, Audrey, Flora, Skye & Jax

WISH YOU ALL THE BEST FOR 2022

Our Office will close at midday on Friday 24th December and will re-open on Wednesday 5th January 2022

This year again we have decided not to send Christmas cards and we will donate the money to our nominated charity.

This week we asked everyone what their ultimate fantasy dress costume would be, so let us have some fun!  And our canine team have gone one step further and dressed up for the occasion! And we have a new addition to the MJD Canine Team, Jax!  Keep your eyes peeled for an update from the dogs in the near future to hear how Jax is settling into the team here at MJD.

Mark: A fire breathing dragon with real fire!

Craig: The Stig

Ian:  Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street

Gareth: Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th

Marko: An actual Iron Man suit, complete with electronics and lights!

Natalie: Bellatrix Lestrange

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.

Here at MJD, we have always strived to look for increased efficiencies and improvements that can be implemented to better the experience for our clients.  With everyone’s increasing awareness on their impact on the environment as you’ll probably be aware MJD started using electric vehicles almost 3 years ago.  We decided we’d take our environmental activities to the next step so let us take you through some interesting and thought-provoking ideas that you can incorporate into your IT usage to decrease your impact on the environment and how the way we operate helps reduce our clients IT environmental impact.

Have you ever considered the environmental impact of your email inbox?  That’s right, we mean your inbox where you receive your emails on a daily basis.  It is a common misconception that it is harmless to store every email and send a quick email, because it doesn’t take up physical space and is so easy to file away.   However, did you ever consider the energy used to send that email or to store that email in your file archive?

A recent BBC article (link below for further reading) explored this and reported that if every person in Britain simply sent one less thank you email we could save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year!  The carbon footprint of an email, comes from the electricity used by all the devices required in the process of sending an email.  The server that sends the email, the server that receives the email, the router in your network, each PC receiving the email.

Now, each individual email has an extremely small impact, but this sparks the discussion of how our behaviour with our IT infrastructure can affect the environment.  It is the same for storing an email, this takes up space on your PC or server, and maybe also space on your back up device.  This means it’s one more file to store and back up, which if you combine this with everyone in your organisation, equates to more electricity used to store and back up the email, this can also save you money in the cost of your backups as they are often determined by storage requirements.

In the grand scheme of things, a reduction in the emails you send has a relatively small effect on the countries overall carbon emissions.  However, there are more impactful ways we as businesses can contribute to making a difference through extending the lifetime of our devices.  Here at MJD, we always strive to make sure our clients get the most out of the investment in their devices, however, sometimes it no longer becomes economically viable to repair a machine.  In this instance, we always offer device recycling and we work with a local charity, ReBoot who repurpose the PC for less intense situations or break down the equipment to their individual parts and repurpose what can be used and recycle what can’t.

We want to take this a step further and work with our clients to actively seek out opportunities earlier in the devices lifetime to help extend its life and therefore the need to purchase new equipment and recycle the old.  We will be getting in touch with our clients over the coming months to discuss with them potential areas for improvement now which would extend the life of the device to try and help our clients increase the return on investment of their devices further while also doing their part for protecting the environment. This in the long term will also save capital costs on renewing devices, the only exception would be where a device is inefficient and needs to be replaced.

Another option can be using refurbished devices, now stock and availability of certain types of devices and specification vary daily therefore, if this is an option you wish to explore with us, we will find out what our suppliers have available and offer you options at the time.  This is also a viable option and we can discuss how this would match your requirements both specification and environmental factors to see what options we can find for you.

In addition, at MJD we’ve always taken the approach with our vehicle fleet and site visits of scheduling with the view of combining site visits into geographical areas to maximise time and fuel efficiency.  This keeps the services we provide for our clients efficient and also helps us to reduce our impact on the environment.  We also have currently operated with two electric company cars for over 3 years and find that the range and useability of these cars more than fits our needs.  It has been our intention that when we require to replace one of the vans in our fleet we will be seriously considering an electric option, to further expand our electric fleet as the mileage range has increased and the need for site visits reduced with improvements in remote connections and functionality as such they are now a contender for a van replacement.

As a company and a family, living and working in the beautiful countryside of the Moray Firth, we are always looking for new ways big or small to help reduce our impact on the environment, from collecting crisp packets for recycling (when we were all working in the office pre-COVID19!) to investing in electric vehicles to increasing our use of video conferencing for meetings to avoid travel. Let’s make IT work for YOU and the environment!

Link to BBC Article:  Climate change: Can sending fewer emails really save the planet?

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-55002423

We had some fun with the team this week and posed the question above to them.  It has sparked some really interesting discussions about what would be important in the this situation, so lets see what everyone would take with them and why.  We discussed the feasibility of electricity on the island, and decided that we had found a bunker which had hydro-electric generator!

Mark

I would take my old tech LW/MW/AM radio and a soldering iron, why? Because unlike a mobile phone the battery would last longer than a day, it can receive signal in most countries of the world, it can’t be tracked like mobile phones or laptops so nobody could find me.  I’m an RAF trained electronics engineer and its old tech so I could re-purpose it to transmit an SOS signal giving my location when I chose to do so, but not before I’d enjoyed the isolation with some enjoyable music.  I think I could do with some time on my own before calling for help. 😊

Craig

I would take an iPod/music player as you are never alone when you have music or a satellite GPS tracker…

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Ian

My piece of technology would be a fully loaded iPod (and headphones) with all types of music, so I could still hear other people’s voices, but still get to enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

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Colin

If I was stuck on a desert island, I would choose to have a solar-powered virtual reality system. This means that when I get fed up of the sunshine, I can in effect go back to the wind and the rain of home etc. It would have infinite uses so would be an effective virtual escape from the ennui of being stuck on an island.

I would also have my brick phone for the first 8 days, as that’s how long the battery lasts.

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Gareth

I would take my laptop with me, because there is a 1% chance I might have signal on the 4g sim on it to binge watch Netflix while working on my tan until I get rescued. 😂

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Marko

For me it would be simple – My mobile phone.

I’d make sure it is packed with useful offline apps to start with and it also has my whole music library to keep me entertained through the days and apps to keep me from getting too bored.

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Natalie

I’d take my GPS watch and mobile.  This way I could turn the heart rate monitor off (extend battery life) and walk/run for 30 mins each day with Live Track switched on in the hopes that my family could identify what island I was on to rescue me!  Bonus, I’d still get some running logged on Strava!

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Hello Hoomans!  Flora and Skye here.

We’ve decided to take over the blog for a week, show the hoomans how it’s done!  And to let you know how us two are dealing with the work from home situation.  For us, it has been a rather fantastic change of office environment.  We have all our own beds, as well as access to our hoomans beds and sofas for power naps to refresh the creative brain waves.  No more commutes, we can just trot through to our work beds to have our morning teams chat together to decide the plans for day.

Our daily Teams calls include discussions on the cutest poses for photos for optimal treat earnings, how best to get the hoomans attention in a video call to get our air time in the meeting and what the local gossip is from our morning walkies.  Got to keep up with the goings on even though we don’t see each other in the office anymore!  We might then remember to have a think about some barketing work we might be able to help with and discuss tactical motivational snuggles with the hoomans.

Deliveries are still sniff checked to ensure no intruders are present in the boxes, can never be too sure.  And we alert the hoomans to any door bells.  Then, it’s usually time for a quick power nap before any calls with our suppliers in the afternoon…Oops, is it now lunchtime, oh well time for a chew treat!

After a leisurely lunch and wee trip outside for a sniff about our gardens and stretch the legs its time to settle in for video calls with the suppliers and discuss the current quality of our dog treats…Oh, wait I mean computer hardware! We then dictate our fantastic barketing ideas to the hoomans who type them up and make them into the social media posts and blog entries for us, typing and working a mouse with a paw is frustrating.  Why do it yourself when you can have a hooman do it for you?

It’s then time for an afternoon snooze and then it’s almost the end of the working day and time to crack the whip to make sure our hoomans get all the work finished with plenty time to go on evening walkies!  Walkies are so much fun and so much sniffing work to do, but we also need to make sure our hoomans get fresh air and exercise outside the house right now, it’s an important and tiring job but someone’s got to do it!

To finish off our entry, myself and Skye would like to announce my promotion to Chief Barketing Officer and Skye has taken the position of Barketing Co-Ordinator so I can continue to show her the ropes and lead her to pawtastic success with our hoomans here at MJD!  Time to negotiate a treat raise for today’s work on this blog post and then time for our power nap!  Catch you next time folks!

 

During lockdown many of us have turned to technology to keep us connected with our friends and family and to entertain ourselves. Some of the team here at MJD started online gaming together and it lead to the team reflecting upon the first computer games they ever played and we thought it might be a fun topic to share with you all.

Mark
Showing my age….. in the 70’s I can clearly remember my brother coming home with the first computer game I ever saw, it was called pong, more a video console than a computer game, playing Pong was a case of a simple controller or two twist dials to control the “rackets” at either end of the screen. The simple “Pong” noise as the ball hit a racket or side of the screen was distinctive, you could also play against yourself by effectively turning one end of the screen to a wall and the ball (cursor) would rebound just like a squash court. Considering graphics and games today, it was extremely basic but at the time was amazing to play. The next computer game would have been Space Invaders that was built into a glass table in a pub near RAF Cosford. I’m sure I got better as the night went on 😊 Again revealing my age at the time! A slightly more complex game with a few more sounds but still quite pixelated graphics by modern standards. A far cry from the real life POV games of today! My first real computer was an Atari 1040 STE, which I still have in the loft.

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Colin
I’m not much of a gamer, but I do remember being given a Sinclair ZX81 in the early 80s and thought, what’s this? I believe it only had 1K of memory! I do remember playing a golf game called Leaderboard which came out in 1986. So I must have had either a Commodore 64 or a Sinclair ZX Spectrum to be able to play it. The golf was fairly easy to play at the lowest level. Just pick your club and press a button and off it went on line and the right distance. However, when going for the pro option, you had to control the flight and the spin of the ball and take the wind into account. Even back then I found real golf a lot easier than the computer game so I opted for the real thing. Plus there is no 19th hole in a computer game!

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Ian
My 1st computer game was at aged 11 on the classic Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1982!

The game was Football Manager and it came on a cassette tape…

In order to load the game onto the computer, you had to connect a tape recorder output/input via leads to the computer and then start playing the tape, and the game was loaded onto the machine via sound. The only problem with this was that you needed to set the volume just right on the tape recorder or the game would not load correctly & would have to start again – it took many hours of trial & error to get the right balance and the game finally loaded.

It was all text based, no fancy graphics by todays modern standards, but it kept me entertained for hours on end trying to get Liverpool to win the league!
(Never did though.)

Also, there were bugs in the game that stopped you from completing it, but back then, there was no internet or patches or software updates available to fix those bugs.

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Craig
The first game I remember was Horace Goes Skiing on a ZX Spectrum.

The problem was before you could play the game you had to first load the tape and let is run. You could tell if it was a good day if it loaded first time or if you had to turn the tape and try again before you could play the game.

If you did manage to get the game to load you had the amazing sound track as shown in the clip above along with the amazing colour loading screens.

The aim of the game was to first cross the busy road using the 4 control arrows. Once across you had to rent a pair of skis and make it back over the road. If you managed this you then got to go skiing, down the hill, avoiding the trees, aiming for the ski gates trying to get to the end of the course.

Natalie
The first computer game I remember playing was a basic ABC game which sang the ABCs to me when I was very young, and the story is usually told of the amount of times I repeated the song, much to my parents enjoyment! Luckily, I have never had a draw or need to come back to this game to relearn my ABCs!

However, recently in lockdown I have been reliving my childhood of battling my brother, Gareth, on Worms and playing the newer version of the game. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that originally the game was 2D however now the graphics are 3D and much higher definition!

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Marko
Gaming for me stated when I was very young. The first games I remember playing, or at least trying would have been Doom PC and Robocop SNES. These were owned by my uncle and cousin so would only really get to play/watch them play when we went down to visit.

After that I believe the first console I owned would have been a Playstation 1 and used to actively play games such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Gran Turismo. Most of these have now been stopped so I don’t go back to play these however I did start playing the remaster of Crash Bandicoot when that came out back in 2018.

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Gareth
My first computer game that I can remember was Halo Combat Evolved.

This was bought on the original Xbox. I would spend hours infront of the TV trying to complete the game and never managed to until I went back and played the anniversary version years later.

At the time the graphics were amazing but since playing the remastered edition where you can switch the graphics between original and remastered it has confirmed just how far gaming has come! 😂

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