We love using iStockphoto – for our advertising, blogs, websites and our clients’ websites when we give them the fairly marvellous Kent website design treatment.
They have very high standards for accepting images into their library which they then combine with great pricing.
Anyway, don’t just take our word for it, sign up by clicking here for 10 free images from www.istockphoto.com
And the great thing is, if you decide to purchase more images, we get some free credits as a bonus too. How cool is that?
According to Ed Bott over at ZDNet, in the US the Microsoft Store are touting a new standard for PC images – the Microsoft Signature.
Anyone who has bought a PC in the last couple of decades will be well used to “crapware” – the rubbish bits of software that manufacturers install, not to make your life easier but to increase their income chances.
Microsoft Signature not only bans crapware, it has a few extra requirements:
In fact, they make sure the PCs are built, well, built the way we build new PCs at HDG for our customers of Computer Support in Whitstable!
I just hope the other manufacturers take note and start putting user experience higher up their priority list.
But then, nobody would be paying me to reset their new PCs when they buy them, so perhaps I should be hoping the opposite…
My days of driving a gorgeous Alfa Romeo, all expenses paid thanks to big Pharma, are long gone. Nowadays I prefer my driving costs lower, positively frugal in fact.
Last year I managed to pick up an old Ford Escort on eBay, with a full year’s MOT for £400. No, it wasn’t in perfect condition but it was perfectly usable and served me well. It didn’t need to be serviced and I had no intention of trying to get it through another MOT.
So this year, once I had picked up a bargain replacement, I needed to dispose of the old Escort. I’d been offered £100 trade-in but that wasn’t convenient, but I didn’t fancy trekking around scrap yards either, so we got Googling.
I’ve tried to use webuyanycar before, and was disappointed by the ‘hidden’ costs and downward haggling you get after the valuation. Besides, this car wasn’t for sale, it was for scrap. So it was while looking for this we found Cartakeback.com – which promised to make the process easy. And sure enough, it did. I was offered quotes from four local yards but even better was the highest quote, which included collection.
It’s things like this that make using the internet to do business so good. They take a, lets be honest, nasty task of scrapping a car and make it a simple process. I entered my details on Wednesday, they called me to confirm on Thursday, on Saturday the lorry arrived to collect – the driver had a nice fresh cheque in his hand – and on Monday I received the DVLA Certificate of Destruction by email.
That’s exactly how this online life should be.
P.S. they gave me £170, so that car cost me £230 plus petrol and tax for a year – I think that’s pretty good!
Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that gives me the biggest smile.
Most people will have realised by now that I’m a big advocate of using Google Apps for all things, especially email. There used to be one minor niggle though, that for some clients was a major annoyance. Using Google Apps Sync for Outlook, you weren’t able to drag messages from a different store (i.e. a different mailbox or account) into your main Google Apps account.
Well the latest update for Apps Sync (2.4) fixes this, and without the fanfare it deserves. If you look at the help article at http://www.google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?answer=153463 it doesn’t mention it. Instead, it was hidden away in the little email notification that most people will delete:
Small things please small minds, I guess…
Ok, this post is going to come across all a bit ‘word from our sponsors’ and, yes, the links in this post are affiliate links, I do get a little kickback. But I genuinely recommend this product, I buy it personally for all the PCs at Dear Geek Towers and to be honest, if everyone bought it then I’d get a lot fewer calls. That little kickback will offset a fraction of my lost income!
My absolute favourite product for cleaning up PC infections is Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware (MBAM). The free version is brilliant, as it will do all your scanning and cleaning for you.
What’s even more amazing is that the paid for version is less than £20 per PC, not per year! If you keep your PC for at least three years, that means…
The full version automatically updates and has a great active protection module. If MBAM spots that the website you’re on is trying to download something nasty, it will block it. I have seen it block sites frequently as I’m using my PC and I haven’t had even a hint of an infection since installing it.
…but for many people, when combined with a free anti-virus package, is all they need to protect their PC. If you’re looking for a good, free anti-virus then I recommend Microsoft Security Essentials (Ninite downloader here) – it doesn’t slow down your PC as much as certain 3-letter-acronym anti-virus programs and is a rarity in the free protection world – it can be used legally for business as well as home PCs.
Those clever people over at Reddit have come up with World Backup Day for March 31st.
The idea being, on March 31st you make sure that you are making backups and that you can restore from them. That way, if there is a disaster the next day, you won’t be an April Fool.
Clever idea, anything to raise awareness of making backups is a good idea. Seeing people in tears when they’re worried they have lost all their family photos is not fun.
Which is why we’ve tried and tested many backup products before selecting our favourite, and worked hard to price it so that it really is a “no-brainer”.
If you sign up for a trial before the 31st, you will be eligible for a very special offer on World Backup Day…
My love for Windows Home Server is no secret, a subject I will happily explain to anyone. However, a little reminder just popped up convincing me of that fact.
We had a brief power outage at HDG Towers last night (us and a few streets around us had a minute or so without electricity). Now we plan for such eventualities of course, and expected no problems. But when I saw the “Network Health is Critical” pop up a few minutes ago my mind jumped to failing hard disks or other impending doom.
Not so. I’m fiddling with an application on one of my machines that required turning off the firewall briefly. And WHS just wanted me to know that. Anything untoward on any of my PCs and WHS just likes to make sure I’m aware of it.
I like that.
All over breakfast at the rather lovely Whitstable Castle.
It seems like every day there’s another networking event or breakfast club popping up. Whether it’s a group of people chatting over coffee, exchanging business cards to make mini appointments in a speed dating style, small town events or county wide socials, they all claim to boost your business.
And the network I’m a member of is no different, they claim to be the single most effective way of generating new business. What does make them different is that they measure how much business is being passed and you can actually work out what it’s worth.
You could quite easily spend an hour or two every day at some event or other, but how are you going to benefit if people are just turning up because it’s nice to have a chat?
I’m a member of Herne Bay & Whitstable BNI. It’s not just a networking club, it’s a referral network. That means that when you go along you’re not just trying to sell to everyone in the room. You actually go with the intention of finding them more business.
And if you give them business, they will want to give you business.
Each week, we pass business to each other on little referral slips. They contain the name and contact details of potential customers and information on what they need. They are not just cold calls, they are expecting your call, they already know about you – they’ve been warmed up!
This week I received 5 of those little slips of paper and handed out 3. But that’s not the end of the story.
Later on in the meeting, we actually acknowledge how much business those little slips of paper have brought to us. We pass little “Thank You” cards. These are used to measure performance of the group as a whole, as well as helping people see if their referrals are paying off. If your referrals are not warm enough, they won’t generate business.
So this was a great week for us. For starters, it was our first week in our new venue, Whitstable Castle, a great way to start a New Year. It was also a great week for “Thank You” cards. Over £19,000 worth of business was acknowledged this week alone.
If you want to grow your business and share some of that, drop me a line and I’ll tell you more!
Or you can go somewhere for a coffee and a chat and just hope that something comes out of it, one day…
In this job – computer repair in case you’d forgotten – you tend to see a lot of progress bars. Those little blue or green lines that slowly, sometimes oh so slowly, mark the progress of whatever task you are doing at the time.
Sometimes they fly by, sometimes they are slow but don’t hog the system so I can continue working in other areas. Other times the client is sat there, quite happy to chat, whether it be to discuss their business and any networking opportunities or just put the world to rights.
But there are times when there is nothing to do but watch that bar crawl across the screen. My moral code prevents me from doing other work when the client is paying for my time, so I need something to prevent brain implosion. There may be a couple of quick emails I can respond to if they don’t require too much thought but, most of the time, it is twitter that comes to the rescue.
The people I follow are a constant source of useful links for me to read, amusing one-liners or local news. And so it was in the early hours of this morning, as I coaxed a machine back to life in a lonely, darkened room in East London, that I was tweeting #lessambitiousfilms and the merits of old CRT televisions.
Thank you twitter… I think therefore I tweet.
Oh, and thank goodness for good online backup too – otherwise I’d still be there!
A few days ago I recommended the product TuneUp Utilities 2011 and gave a link to a special offer that meant you could save £7.50 off the price.
The day before that, I recommended using Amazon to do your Christmas shopping.
Little honesty bit here: yes, if you clicked on one of the links and bought something, I would have got a little something, at no cost to you, but the recommendations still stand!
I just had a little lightbulb moment – “I wonder how much Amazon are charging for TuneUp?”
Well, you can save even more – TuneUp Utilities 2011 for less than £10 – for up to 3 PCs.
Now, I wonder if Mrs Dear Geek has bought all my stocking fillers yet…