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Blog Posts from the Helpdesk
Reach for big goals this year with Microsoft Planner. Microsoft 365 has some amazing productivity and collaborative tools already built in. Did you know that within Teams there’s a useful project planning tool?
Watch our short video for the lowdown
How Microsoft Planner works
Microsoft Planner is a great lightweight planning tool that’s included in most Office 365 packages. Its basic purpose is to provide easy, visual task management for a group of users. This includes when, how and by whom these tasks are assigned as well as their current status.
Planner is also based upon Office 365 Groups. This means creating a new Planner plan will also create a group behind the scenes. This makes it easy to govern membership and add additional workloads onto the group in question.
Will it make a difference?
Creating tasks and assigning it to team members is a continuous process inside all organisations and businesses. How many of you are doing it in a systematic and organized manner? You can change this anytime with Microsoft Planner. The biggest difference Microsoft Planner brings to an organisation when compared to other to-do apps is that it is team focused. This different approach helps you to achieve more productivity and control on your team, especially when you are processing a complex task with a specialised team. How to use Microsoft Planner effectively? The easiest and effective way to use Planner now is from Microsoft Teams. You do not need to switch applications to manage your tasks in Planner now. Let us see what you can do with Planner in Microsoft Teams.
What are the things you can do with Microsoft Planner?
To start creating tasks, assigning it to your team members, and keep checking progress from Microsoft Teams, you need to create a team first. You can also go with an already existing team if you wish. After creating the team, you need to add members to it and add the Planner app as a tab to the team.
What are the benefits?
Through Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Teams, team leaders will easily be able to review the current workload of employees, assign new tasks, and follow up on tasks that are important or may be falling behind. Employees can understand their workload better and follow through independently, without having to take additional steps to figure out which tasks they should best be prioritising.
One of the major advantages to Microsoft Teams is its ability to integrate with software solutions such as the Microsoft Team Planner. If your team hasn’t switched to Microsoft Teams yet, it may be time. Contact the LIS Help Desk if you need to migrate to Microsoft Teams.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#WatchItNow #MicrosoftPlannerVideo #HowTo
Adobe Flash ends support for iconic plugin
On December 31, 2020, Adobe officially stopped support for Flash – the browser plugin that helped define the early internet. The company announced it would be killing off Flash in 2017, but the time has finally come. Adobe won’t provide any new security updates and is actively encouraging people to uninstall it. It will also stop videos and animations running in Flash Player from January 12, 2021.
Adobe Flash Ends after 25 years
The plugin was first created way back in 1996. It became a pillar of the internet by allowing people to stream videos and animations within the browser.
Animator David Firth told the BBC: ‘You could make a full three-minute animation with multiple characters, backgrounds, sounds and music less than 2 megabytes (MB) and viewable from within the browser.’
Why was Flash popular?
When Flash was first released, a majority of Internet users connected via dial-up connections. Thankfully the Internet is now a lot faster thanks to supper fast broadband.
However, Flash let web designers and animators deliver exciting content that could be downloaded relatively quickly.
“You could make a full three-minute animation with multiple characters, backgrounds, sounds and music less than 2 megabytes (MB) and viewable from within the browser,” explained animator David Firth.
His surreal animations and characters – such as the gangly, green hunchback Salad Fingers – enjoyed viral success before the advent of social media.
“I just made the stuff I wanted to see that I felt was missing: dark, surreal comedy,” he told the BBC.
“There were no shortcuts to viral content. No corporate fingers twiddling the algorithms. It was simply attention-grabbing and quality material that rose to the top.”
Sites such as Newgrounds – described as “the YouTube of Flash” by Mr Firth – sprung up to serve the growing demand for cartoons and interactive games.
“It was the first website I’d ever seen that allowed anyone to post content and it be available in real time. If the community felt the content was low quality, it would get removed at the end of the day, so you actually had to take that into account when posting,” he said.
Flash was about more than just animations – it also let websites such as YouTube stream high-quality video. By 2009, Adobe said Flash was installed on 99% of internet-connected desktop PCs. But by then the world was shifting towards mobile devices and Adobe was slow to react.
“We had optimised for lower-end phones with Flash Lite,” explains David Mendels, former executive vice president of products at Adobe.
“It was incredibly successful in places like Japan, but it wasn’t the same as the full desktop Flash. It wasn’t fully compatible.”
In April 2010, Apple’s Steve Jobs wrote a blistering open letter headlined Thoughts On Flash. It explained why Apple would not let Flash run on iPhones and iPads.
Flash, he argued, was cumbersome to use on a touchscreen, unreliable, a security threat and a drain on battery life.
He said videos and animations could instead be delivered with HTML5 and other open technologies. This will make Flash redundant on a smartphone or tablet. “When the iPhone came out, Flash wasn’t quite ready,” Mr Mendels told the BBC. “But also, I think Apple wanted to create an Apple-only ecosystem.”
Eventually, Adobe did get a version of its Flash Player working on smartphones.
Technology moves on as Adobe Flash ends
But the internet had moved on. Big brands such as Facebook, Netflix and YouTube were already streaming videos to smartphones without Flash and in November 2011 Adobe ended development of Flash for mobile devices.
It continued to produce Flash for desktop computers, but the software suffered from multiple security flaws.
In 2015, Apple disabled the plug-in in its Safari web browser by default, and Google’s Chrome started blocking some pieces of Flash content.
In July 2017, Adobe announced that it would retire Flash in 2020.
It said other technologies, such as HTML5 had matured enough to provide a “viable alternative”, without requiring users to install and update a dedicated plug-in.
What happens to all the old animations?
It is sad that Adobe Flash will be ending. As of 12th January 2021, Flash Player will prevent content from displaying. There are concerns that years of animations, games and interactive websites will be lost.
Gaming company Zynga closed the original version of its FarmVille video game on New Year’s Eve after 11 years, as it relied on Flash to run.
An open, collaborative project known as Ruffle is working to develop software that can play Flash content in a web browser, without requiring a plug-in.
The Internet Archive is currently hosting more than 2,000 items. Its collection includes episodes of Salad Fingers, although David Firth has posted official copies on YouTube, which he considers having been a “Flash killer”.
“As time went on and YouTube offered higher and higher-quality video formats, there was simply no reason to post in the Flash format,” he explained.
But since Flash was also used for interactive websites and games, there was “every reason to preserve the format”, he told the BBC.
Many of the feature’s animators used are still available in Adobe Animate. In its final update, Adobe said: “We want to take a moment to thank all of our customers and developers who have used and created amazing Flash Player content over the last two decades.
“We are proud that Flash had a crucial role in evolving web content across animation, interactivity, audio, and video.”
How can I remove Flash from my computer?
It has warned: “Uninstalling Flash Player will help to secure your system. Adobe does not intend to issue Flash Player updates or security patches after the end-of-life date.”
Alternatively, please contact the LIS Help Desk and speak to our knowledgeable technical support team. We can assist you with updates and health checks for your computer systems. Now is the time to review your IT requirements. Make sure you have the latest software and security. This will provide the most effective solutions for your team and let you customers have the best experience.
LIS – DIGITAL SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#AdobeFlash #Plugins #ITsupport #Upgrades
Ready to make this a wildly successful year for your business? Our 2021 productivity super guide will help shake off the memories of 2020. As well as enabling you to focus on increasing sales and profitability. Excellent. A great place to start is helping you and your team to get more done in less time. We’ve pulled together a productivity super guide, looking at setting goals, collaboration, and communication. And of course, it lists our most highly recommended productivity tools.
Download our 2021 productivity super guide.
What a year we’ve left behind
Although, with many of the negatives we had no control over, came some positive changes to the way we all do things. So many businesses now have people working from home on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. As much as no-one asked for this, it’s been great to see how many businesses that we work closely with have adapted. And in the process, they have become more flexible.
This flexibility often results in a more motivated, engaged workforce. Who really appreciate the ability to work different hours and work from home (WFH). This is a huge benefit. Especially if you’re looking to hire new people. Because what’s the greatest competitive advantage in your business? It’s your people, of course.
We believe that offering flexible working and the choice between WFH and going into the office, will help you attract the very best people in your field. This year is going to be a “buyer’s market” for employers. A great opportunity to take on truly excellent new people. But, of course, along with this comes a responsibility to give everyone the tools and accessibility they need to be able to excel at their roles from wherever they choose to work.
That means you, as the business owner or manager, need to be on top of issuing the right devices, keeping security tight, and network access open but safe. After the 2020 lockdowns, hopefully you’ve already got the fundamentals in place. But going forward, it’s as important to offer your team as much IT support in their homes, as they get in the office.
We can help you with our 2021 productivity super guide
So, here’s a question to ask – what else could you do to help them achieve more?
If they were given the right tools:
- Help your team make the most of their time
- The right tools will complement what they do
- Tools will simplify processes
… could they get more done in a day?
Probably. And fortunately, we live in an age where there is an app to help you do pretty much anything.
Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?
The thing is, it’s too easy to get stuck in our ways. Yes, even when it comes to business. We log into the same software each morning, have the same grumbles about how we wish it did things differently; then carry on with our day.
“Sometimes what we need is a new set of eyes. Someone who can stand back and see the simple solutions that we simply can’t”
Because when something is a habit, it can be difficult to imagine a different way of doing it. Even if that new way is easier and brings about more benefits – like a more productive team, and better customer satisfaction.
Could we be that new set of eyes for you? We’d like to offer your business a productivity audit.
During this audit, our experts will take a detailed look at your business, what you do and the tools you currently use to do it. We’ll talk to you about how your processes would work in an ideal world and help you to identify the apps or software that can help that to happen.
Let’s set up an IT Audit
Three BIG questions for you:
- Do you currently have an IT support company?
- How happy were you with them last year?
- If the answer isn’t “utterly delighted”, let’s jump on a Zoom or book a phone call.
Everything that happened in 2020 taught businesses round here just how important proactive, responsive IT support is. Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your business, and to answer any questions you may have.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#NewYearGoals #ProductivityGuide #Make2021YourYear
You may have heard that Macs are safer than Windows PC’s when it comes to cyber security and that is partly true. But it doesn’t mean they’re completely safe. Can Macs get Viruses? The likelihood of catching a virus whilst using a Mac computer is increasing. There are now more threats to Mac users than ever before. Here’s everything you need to know.
Q: Can Mac’s get viruses? A: Yes.
For a long time, it was widely believed that Mac’s were safe from viruses. This belief was supported by the creators, Apple. For years Apple used ‘Macs don’t get viruses’ in their marketing and on their website. It wasn’t an unsubstantiated claim.
They have historically had a smaller share of the market, making them less of a target. The integration between their software and hardware has always had the benefit of being harder to penetrate. And since the arrival of macOS X, they have had built in security measures, particularly for preventing malware getting on to the computer.
This has made it pretty hard to install something malicious onto a Mac computer. But they don’t make the ‘we don’t get viruses’ claim anymore. Because unfortunately it’s no longer true Mac’s can get viruses!
The real danger
Arguably the real danger facing Mac users is that they are unprepared. The assumption that you are safe simply because you are using a Mac actually leaves you more vulnerable to an increasing number of threats.
As useful as the in-built security features are, they only do so much. There are ways for seasoned hackers to bypass them and they don’t block all potential threats. As Macs have become more popular and the number of users has grown, so have the number of threats they face.
The safest option is to assume that you could be vulnerable.
What threats might you face when your Mac gets a virus?
The threats, like with any computer user, range from simply annoying to potentially devastating. Sometimes, something which seems as if it’s just annoying could actually be much worse. Here’s a few examples of what you could face.
Adware could be any unwanted program or pop up that displays unwanted ads. Often these can lead to malicious websites that could then deliver spyware – a program which tracks activity online and steals information, used for fraud or theft. Even a benign pop-up can be annoying and intrusive and hamper the day-to-day use of your computer.
Trojan horses hide a malicious software within an otherwise nonsuspicious link or download. Sometimes the malware inside the trojan horse will start operating without your knowledge, stealing personal data in the background. They’ve been a threat to Macs for a while. There was a particularly bad one a few years ago called ‘MacDownloader’ which hid in a fake Adobe Flash update.
These are sort of like a Trojan Horse and begin to work when the user clicks on an infected file, often a Word document. It then runs a code that can release new files, corrupt data, take screenshots and deliver malware.
What’s on the horizon?
The threats above are all based on previously recorded events and new threats are most likely to fit into those common categories. But the threats are ever-present. Cyber criminals are always finding ways of bypassing basic levels of security and will exploit vulnerabilities in your system.
Techrader.com talked about a recent threat which involves a dangerous new malware.
It’s thought to be distributed by a known Vietnamese hacking group called OceanLotus (yes, we know, it sounds like something from a James Bond movie, but it is real!)
The malware allows them to spy on machines and steal confidential info and sensitive business documents from macOS users. As this is a known threat, the latest security patches should help to protect against it.
Signs that your Mac has a virus
You won’t always know if something is wrong, if you don’t have a real-time scanner installed. Some malware is designed to run quietly in the background. However, there are a number of ways that might indicate that something is wrong.
LOTS OF ADS AND POP UPS
This may be obvious but if you’ve got unwanted ads popping up and you don’t usually (and really any irregular pop ups are out of the ordinary on a Mac) then it suggests something has arrived on your computer.
Your computer being slow may just be the result of lots of programs using up memory on your computer, but it could be an indication that you have a virus. If the spinning rainbow ‘wheel of death’ is constantly appearing, then you may have an issue.
Viruses come from the internet and are mostly designed to disrupt your online activity. If your browser is running slow, acting abnormally or crashing regularly then questions need to be asked.
What you should do?
As we mentioned above, really the first step is acknowledging that there is a threat in the first place. Yes, Macs may still be safer, but we always think we’ll be fine until something happens. If you’re a Mac user or your business uses Macs regularly then it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Contact the LIS Help Desk to make sure you have a good antivirus and cybersecurity system installed on your computer, as well as the standard tools you get in macOS. If you need support or help in this area, you know where we are.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#apple #mac #malware
WordPress allows you to design and build a website that meets your unique needs. Start a blog, business site, portfolio, online store, or anything else you can imagine. We explore what’s new in WordPress 5.6.
With built-in optimization and responsive, mobile-ready themes, there’s no limit to who you can reach with your new website. Create a simple website for your family or sell products around the world—it’s up to you.
WordPress is often regarded as the easiest and best website builder if you’re looking to build something that you won’t outgrow in the long run. Most web hosting accounts now include a ‘1-click installer’ which will set up WordPress for you in seconds. Contact the LIS Help Desk to buy your domain name.
What’s new in WordPress: Five awesome new features
Like previous releases, WordPress 5.6 includes several versions of the Block Editor enhancing the editing experience for WordPress users who don’t have the Gutenberg plugin installed and updated on their websites yet.
Not everything is about the Block Editor, though. Several features have been added to WordPress Core, like a new default Twenty Twenty-One theme, auto-updates for major releases, better support for PHP 8.0, Application Passwords for REST API Authentication.
There is so much more in WordPress 5.6. You will see accessibility improvements, UI enhancements, tons of bug fixes and a huge list of changes for developers.
1. New default theme: Twenty Twenty-One
One of the major new features in WordPress 5.6 if the new default theme: Twenty Twenty-One. It looks awesome, plus it’s lightning fast, accessible and SEO-friendly. One of the coolest features is that you can quickly build a complex layout thanks to block patterns. These block patterns were introduced in WordPress 5.5 and this new theme uses them nicely. The theme comes with a couple of patterns, but you can make your own to suit your needs. The Twenty Twenty-One theme was designed by Mel Choyce-Dwan and built by a development team — consisting of several Yoasters — led by Carolina Nymark. You can read about how Twenty Twenty-One came to be.
2. Automatic updates
Keeping your site and plugins up to date is a chore — but an essential chore to keep your site safe and secure. It’s one of the reasons why the WordPress team is working hard on making that process a little bit easier by providing automatic updates. Luckily, WordPress can already automatically update minor versions, but with 5.6, it can also update to major versions automatically. This is an opt-in, so you have to activate it yourself in the WordPress Updates screen if you want to make use of this. Remember, automatic updates of major versions has its pros and cons, so think before you activate.
3. Application passwords
Application passwords offer a new way of providing access to certain parts of your site. You can’t use them to log into your account, but you can use them to help give external sources access to your site without you having to give away your password. You can easily generate access keys and share them with your users. Keys are easy to understand and come in a familiar format like abcd EFGH 1234 ijkl MNOP 6789. Revoking access is just as easy. Simply hit the Revoke button. Keep an eye on this feature as many plugins and platforms will adopt this.
4. Loads of Gutenberg updates
We’re big fans of the new block editor, but we know there are still a lot of naysayers out there. Luckily, the Gutenberg team keeps chugging along and put out great release after great release. In WordPress 5.6, you’ll find the results of not one or two Gutenberg updates — but no less than seven releases. Among many things, you’ll find improved support for video positioning in cover blocks, enhancements to the block patterns, better dragging and dropping of blocks, improved keyboard navigation, et cetera. It comes with many performance and accessibility improvements as well.
5. Beta support for PHP 8 in WordPress 5.6
PHP 8 has just been released and it is a huge deal for developers. It’s the latest version of the programming language in which WordPress is written and it brings a whole lot of cool stuff that will help developers use modern code practices and features. As of WordPress 5.6, the CMS is considered beta compatible with PHP 8. Still, there’s a lot of work to do to get WordPress fully compatible with PHP 8 and before developers can use all the new goodies that it brings.
New build or upgrade
Are you happy with your existing website? Is your website out of date? Do you need to upgrade to sell products online? Our clients benefit from working with us as we have a team of designers, programmers and IT support staff. We offer hosting, design and build of websites, email setup and SEO. We also offer training for the person in your team who will be updating your site. They will soon find out what’s new in WordPress and how it will benefit your company.
Work with industry experts for all your online requirements and to find out what’s new in WordPress. Let us take away the headache of dealing with several suppliers. Working closely with you, the client, we’ll provide product features based on actual end-user behaviour and deliver exactly what you require. Delivered on time and within budget. Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your online requirements.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#WordPress #Websites #Hosting #SEO #Marketing
Whether for work or pleasure, virtual meetings just got a lot more popular. How can you make video calls better?
We can all accept by now, that video calls will continue to be a staple of business communications next year. However, did you know you can considerably improve your calls with just a few little tweaks? There are four key areas to pay attention to. There are four ways to make video calls better in 2021. We will show you what to do and how to do it, in our brand-new video.
The global pandemic has ground much of the world to a halt. Worldwide, likely tens of millions are working from home as part of social distancing. Sitting in front of a webcam for hours is now normal – for both business meetings and sharing a ‘quarantini’ during virtual happy hours.
Now that Zoom, Skype and other services have taken over our daily lives as we know it – including job interviews and dinner parties – many are wondering how to look as good on the internet as they do in person. That means figuring out how to flatter your face on your colleagues’ laptop screens, or the importance of a tidy living room in the background. It’s not just vanity: viewers could “make snap judgments, unfortunately, about you as a person,” says Sunny Lenarduzzi, a Vancouver-based online entrepreneur, former TV reporter and regular YouTuber.
We talked to people whose job largely features talking in front of a webcam all day. Here are their tips to look nice and professional on camera.
Fill your face with light
If you take away nothing else, focus on your lighting. Front-facing natural light is best. It evenly accentuates and brightens your skin and features, giving you a clear, flattering, movie-star-like quality. “It’s amazing for making your eyes pop and making you look really presentable on camera,” says Lenarduzzi.
Set up your computer in front of a window, and importantly, make sure that light is hitting your face straight-on. Because whether you’re snapping a pic for Instagram or dialling in for a video call, having that light come from behind you ends up drowning you out entirely, reducing you to an inscrutable silhouette.
Avoid low angles to make video calls better
It’s one of the cardinal rules in camerawork: keep the camera eye-level or higher. “You want to make sure your computer’s at least a little bit elevated so that you don’t have the double-chin effect [or] the computer’s looking up your nostrils,” says Lenarduzzi. You can easily give your laptop some lift by stacking a bunch of things just lying around. Cookbooks or coffee table books work well, Yara suggests. “Angles make a big difference,” she says.
Mind your skin
In our webcam-dominated situation, practising good skincare is even more important than usual. The camera can make bad habits “look ten times worse,” says Tang, as the computer screen tends to highlight things like oil on your face. She recommends blotting your face before you go live. Be on the lookout for uneven skin tone or chapped lips, too. (Zoom also has a filter used to even your skin tone.)
The experts recommend applying a tinted moisturiser to your face before booting up your video meeting. (Tinted moisturiser is filled with subtle pigments of makeup that help your skin tone appear even.)
Know what you’ll look like
Preparation is important to make video calls better. You don’t want to join a call using the webcam as a mirror to make any finishing touches to your hair, face or lighting you could’ve done earlier. “Take a phone call using your webcam to prep. The call can be on your phone, but make sure your webcam is on so you can practise seeing yourself and your mannerisms,” Tang says. “It won’t feel so foreign next time when you’re actually doing it for real.”
Pick the right background
Although our homes are inherently less equipped for professional meetings than your office boardroom, there are better places to take a call than others. Zoom isn’t the place to showcase your bookcases performatively filled with literary tomes or your enormous Basquiat print – particularly on a work call. Though tempting, that kind of home décor flexing takes focus away from who should be the star of the show: you. Yara recommends a plain, white background.
The right tech to make video calls better
When you combine all these tips you are better equipped to think about how you are presenting yourself as a person. It’s an important skill, especially when all people will have to go on is your face on a computer screen.
It is important that you remember when you are on a video call you are still representing your company. Contact the LIS Help Desk to find out how we can help you make video calls better. Have a chat with our experienced support technicians about your security as well as software and hardware upgrades. All our clients benefit from our monthly IT support contracts, business broadband and telecoms services.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#VideoCallFatigue #LookLikeAPro #Zoom
Five key IT areas you must address in your business’s 2021 growth strategy. As we finally approach the end of – what we can all agree has been a difficult year – it’s likely that the last thing you want to think about is your IT next year. However, being the IT super-fans that we are, we’d suggest that now is the best time to do this. We’re about to begin a new year.
It’s going to be another challenging one. So what greater way to start than with a clear strategy for the months ahead? A solid IT strategy is a critical part of your business growth plans for the year.
Download our new guide to find out the 5 key IT areas you must address in your business.
How was 2020 for your business?
It didn’t take long for the optimism of a new decade to wear off. By the end of 2020, companies everywhere were reeling as they reckoned with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the impact of the virus was too much for many firms, leaving millions of workers unemployed and driving thousands of businesses to close their doors. Those companies that stayed afloat had to act quickly in order to enable their remote workforce and maintain operations.
Heading into 2021, there is little precedent for projecting the future. The economy is showing some signs of stability, but there are lingering fears over continued challenges or further surprises. Now is the time to investigate to see how five key IT areas can help your company in 2021.
Making sense of it all
Through all the confusion, though, there are still some basic concepts that will shape the year to come. Digital operations are more important than ever, with many transformative changes accelerating over the past year. Fair treatment for all is an absolute mandate, making diversity, equity and inclusion a top priority. The influence of technology is massive, forcing new approaches to regulatory behaviour. When is the last time you analysed your IT system? Have you locked the secrets behind the five key IT areas?
As the industry emerges from a chaotic year, it will begin a rebuilding phase, but this rebuilding goes beyond restoration. There is little opportunity to return to the old way of doing things. Thanks to changes that no one would have wished for and fuelled by the requirements of a digital society, the technology industry will doubtless take a new shape in the coming year. This isn’t rebuilding to reclaim the past; this is rebuilding for the future.
Book a FREE IT audit to cover the five key IT areas
All our clients benefit from our experience and knowledge. Our team have been working in the industry for over 25 years. We pride ourselves on delivering nothing but the very best customer service and solutions to our customers whatever the situation may be. Contact the LIS Help Desk to book your FREE IT audit and discover the secrets of the five key IT areas to help your business. Our services include managed IT services, network support and telecoms.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#FreeGuide #ITStrategy #BusinessGrowth
New aircraft opportunities amid aerospace industry woes have emerged from Vertical Aerospace. Michael Cervenka traces his interest in engineering back to his grandfather’s influence. “He was an organ builder and had me sorting out screws on his workshop floor when I was 18 months old,” he says.
That interest literally took off. He is now the boss of Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace and has progressed to electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) machines. With the potential to be quiet and economical, these aircraft have been touted as the next big thing in passenger aircraft.
Vertical is working on the VA-1X, an aircraft intended to fly between regions. That regional emphasis matters as eVTOL machines have often been promoted as air taxis, whizzing around our cities under the banner of “urban air mobility” (UAM).
New aircraft opportunities could mean electric flight for everyone
Some even suggest these vehicles could scoop up passengers and whisk them along pre-arranged flight corridors without a pilot. Vertical dismisses this as a fantasy. “Our aircraft will be heavily automated,” says Mr Cervenka. “But both regulations and the public will require a pilot for years to come.”
An automatic response to an obstruction on a landing pad below will pull VA-1X up and away from a collision. However, people still want to see a highly trained aviator in charge of their flight. Using multiple propellers that point skywards for take-off and then rotate to tilt forward to fly horizontally, the VA-1X aims to carry four passengers and a pilot over short distances more cheaply than a helicopter.
Airlines operate within a framework of strict regulation, so how will this entirely new category of machine pass the scrutiny of international safety bodies? Mr Cervenka says he is working closely with UK and European regulators.
Excellence in engineering
The technology behind VA-1X has been tested at a remote airfield in Wales using a prototype called Seraph. This is a piloted black box surrounded by six arms mounting rotor blades. These new design ideas are helping create new aircraft opportunities that help climate change.
Seraph’s chunky appearance belies its role in proving the systems that should keep VA-1X’s eight electric motors pointing in the right direction. And if a motor fails Seraph can still hover and land.
With a winged design, as opposed to some of the wingless flying car proposals in the eVTOL world, Vertical’s VA-1X gains lift. So, the wings take pressure off its electric power source, which is derived from a car battery. Vertical employs 25 ex-Formula 1 engineers and a battery engineer from Jaguar Land Rover.
The company claims its aircraft will be 30 times quieter than a helicopter. In theory it will make more use of existing heliports where the frequency of landings is restricted by noise regulations.
It spies a market for travel between locations not served by high-speed rail networks and regional airlines. Regional connectivity is the name of this game.
Connecting people with places
“We will offer an ability to connect places that are not well connected today,” says Mr Cervenka, who is eyeing up a London-to-Brighton service, a route notorious for rail delays and traffic jams.
Covid has slashed airline passenger numbers. It is important for the aerospace industry to investigate new aircraft opportunities. So, Mr Cervenka reckons new purchases of large airliners are off the menu. But airlines might use eVTOL flights from a major airport into the centre of a city to attract business or first-class flyers as part of their fare.
The 150mph (240km/h) VA-1X will need a full battery recharge every 100 miles, but a 25-mile short hop from an airport to city centre would allow for a fast recharge and quick turnaround.
The legal view about new aircraft opportunities
David Tait, a lawyer studying emerging technologies for the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, says he expects eVTOL craft to gain regulatory approval for certain services. However, he also pours cold water on the wilder promises of flying taxis.
“Consumer on-demand services are a long way away,” he says, citing the air traffic management challenges of putting too many machines into the air above a major city.
Designs such as the octo-engined VA-1X have no single point of failure, unlike a helicopter where the loss of rotor blades or power can be catastrophic.
“Our view is that eVTOL should be at least as safe as existing vehicles,” Mr Tait says. “Our expectation is that these will be quieter, cleaner and safer.”
Approximately 300 eVTOL projects are under way around the globe and Germany’s Lilium is one of the most advanced, attracting engineers from Boeing and Airbus.
New aircraft opportunities are the future of air travel
Its distinctive eVTOL machine has 36 electric engines buried inside slender white wings and tail planes. These are ducted fans, sucking in air and blowing it out in the manner of a jet engine but without mixing it up with fuel. This mass of fans creates a strong current that will push the little five-seater jet to 300km/h (186mph) and give the pilot control over direction.
Remo Gerber, its operational chief, says that despite this radical design Lilium is “following a classic aviation approach”, with safety dictating design features such as the Kevlar shell around the fan blades, ensuring that if a blade flies off it will be contained within the tough material.
A technology demonstrator flew at its base outside Munich in 2019 and the larger production machine is intended to carry four passengers and a pilot like the VA-1X. These light passenger loads reflect the power limitations of electric motors.
Mr Gerber shares the view that UAM has been oversold: “We struggle with UAM. We don’t see the benefits.” He argues that very short distances make no sense for eVTOL. The final section of the trip still will have to be made by road. Lilium is also focussing on the regional transport market.
Lilium plans a regional network based around Dusseldorf and Cologne airports in Germany’s densely populated North Rhine-Westphalia area. The idea is to connect smaller cities such as Aachen and Munster to the airports via Lilium aircraft by 2025.
It is also designing eVTOL airports – what it calls “vertiports”. With a relatively small footprint these present an affordable alternative to airports and railway stations. These could link up a region with hundreds of daily flights and multiple high-frequency flights from different locations, and would carry more passengers than rival first-class rail services at equivalent fares.
Vertical say, manufacturing will see components such as the VA-1X’s cockpit displays arriving to be integrated in a final assembly. So, Mr Cervenka’s very early experience putting many parts of a machine together may still pay dividends.
IT support with business development in mind
We are not experts in new aircraft opportunities. Where our clients benefit working with us is future planning. What do we mean by that? We are nearly at the end of the year. What are your plans for 2021? Are you moving office? Are you opening a new branch? Do you need to upgrade your systems? Are your systems secure?
Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our Support Technicians. We will undertake a complete IT audit of your business. Work with you on your future goals and make recommendations to improve your systems. Whether you need IT Support, Telecoms, cloud services or security, we are here to help. We can’t fly planes, but we can help you get to your business destination and achieve your goals.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#Aerospace #PassengerAircraft #LooksABitTerminatorToUs
You know we love a gadget!
So here are some new Covid ready gadgets just for you. The world is being reshaped by Covid-19, and that includes the sphere of tech. The annual IFA Berlin tech fair is the biggest platform for new tech releases in Europe. This year it attempted to carry on as close to normal as possible. The exhibition looked a little different to what we are used to.
The 4,000 attendees had to wear masks and social-distancing measures were in place. The class of gadgets on display were also different to usual. Best known in recent years for giant sized TVs and virtual-reality headsets. This year IFA saw exhibits of a new class of pandemic-inspired gadgets. Here are some of the Covid ready gadgets available.
Some of the best Covid ready gadgets from the show
Daan Tech’s Bob the mini dishwasher
Dishwashers are reputedly big and ugly. That’s what this small and autonomous dishwasher called Bob attempts to get away from. Designed by France’s Daan Tech, Bob sits on a kitchen worktop. It takes just 20 minutes to run a cycle and comes in one of 24 colours. All great stuff, but where’s the Covid-19 link?
Bob also indulges in UV-C sterilization. Using ultraviolet light to warp the structure of genetic material, effectively killing bacteria and viruses. So, alongside your dirty plates, mugs and glasses, Bob can also work its magic. Great on disposable masks plus your dirty wallet and keys. It sells for £267 and is now available for pre-order.
Wearable air purifier: The best Covid ready gadgets to keep safe
Electrostatic technology could well be the “disinfectant of the future”. With Covid-19 it was inevitable that we’d see a wearable air purifier at IFA 2020. Designed to be worn around the neck, this Covid ready gadget is one of the best ideas from the show and will protect millions of users.
The improved surface coverage is the result of the electrostatic technology. As the chemical exits the electrostatic sprayer, it is atomized and given a positive charge. The positively charged spray droplets are attracted to and travel toward negatively charged objects, creating a 360-degree wraparound effect on the targeted surface.
However, its three-layer electrostatic filter works to rid the bubble of air around you from bacteria and viruses, alongside pollen and air pollutants. From Japanese company Creative Technology the air purifier is already sold in Asia.
GoBe Telepresence Robot
Anyone suffering video-call fatigue? Not surprising, given that telepresence has suddenly become a way of life for many of us. However, interacting remotely doesn’t come close to being there in person. The answer is to use a remote-controlled mobile robot. Designed in Denmark to replace travel, GoBe is all about putting someone “in the room”.
At its core it’s a 21.5-inch “face screen” on wheels, with its robot pilot being fed real-time images via a zoomable 4K camera. It also has a wide-angle front camera for a view of an entire room. “During the pandemic, we have seen significant growth in orders,” says Peter Juhl Voldsgaard, CEO of GoBe Robots. “Telepresence robots have now become a standard technology that everyone can understand. Our technology gives each person a unique experience.” He added.
Neato Robotics’ D10 robot vacuum
So, any improvement to your sourdough bread-making skills? If half the flour you hoarded over lockdown regularly ended up on your kitchen floor, then maybe you should consider the Neato D10 “intelligent robot vacuum”. It promises not just a clean but an ultra-clean. It is important in the world of Covid Ready Gadgets that they make life easier.
Robot vacuums have become one of 2020’s biggest must-have gadgets. They’re lightweight, easy to use, and they require literally zero effort.
Announced at IFA 2020 and claiming to be able to suck up dirt from all types of flooring. The D10 features a True HEPA filter to capture “up to 99.97%” allergens and particles as small as 0.3 microns. The D10 runs for 2.5 hours and is programmed via the MyNeato app.
Fauna Audio’s Memor Havana audio glasses
Are your efforts to work from home productively being hampered by kids or noisy housemates? Then it’s likely you could benefit from some beefy noise-cancelling headphones. If that isn’t a major concern, consider these blue light-blocking glasses with built-in sound.
Fauna’s Memor and Levia models feature standard blue light filter lenses to reduce blue light exposure from computers and phones. Prescription lenses can also be fitted and MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) micro-speakers. This will not block sound in the manner that earphones and headphones do. As a result, have one ear listening to audio from your computer, music, virtual meetings and so on. Whilst the other can listen out for the arrival of the courier with your latest Amazon purchase.
Fauna has integrated Bluetooth and microphones for taking hands-free calls. It also works with voice assistants and boasts touch control via two touchpads on the temples. It sells for £178.
Stay ahead with the latest tech
Whilst the world is worrying about Covid Ready Gadgets, have you thought about your IT systems? Our clients benefit from the latest tech, upgrades and support from our Support Technicians. With remote access, regular checks and security, our clients have peace of mind. With everything going on in the world, how great would it be to work with an IT partner that is responsive?
Contact the LIS Help Desk for your FREE IT AUDIT. We will take the time to find your business goals and make sure your systems are set up efficiently. Upgrade to the latest hardware, software and security. This will ensure in a happy and productive team, and happy business owners!
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#CovidGadgets #GadgetPost #TheyKnowWhatWeWant
SpaceX teams with Microsoft for Space Development Agency
A digital environment will allow the user to visualize an entire satellite architecture, test satellite designs and artificial intelligence algorithms. It was announced earlier this month that SpaceX won a $149 million contract from the Defense Department’s Space Development Agency to build four satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles. SpaceX teams with Microsoft Azure’s as they were interested in the orbital emulator.
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief of operating officer, revealed in a pre-recorded interview released Oct. 20 that Microsoft is a subcontractor working on the SDA program with SpaceX.
Shotwell in the video spoke with Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure Global, about a new agreement to use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband to connect Azure cloud computing data centres deployed around the world. Keane also asked Shotwell to discuss the companies’ other partnership for the SDA contract.
The new space race
“We were pleased that Microsoft was on our team,” said Shotwell. “We will be delivering to the government a number of satellites that host a capability to protect against ballistic weapons. Microsoft will be doing quite a bit of work as a subcontractor which I think was kind of a funny twist to the relationship here.” Shotwell did not discuss what specific role Microsoft will play in the SDA program. SpaceX is vertically integrated and does not work with many subcontractors.
The SDA satellites will be delivered by September 2022. They will have a “wide field of view” overhead persistent infrared sensor capable of detecting and tracking advanced missile threats from low Earth orbit. The spacecraft will have optical crosslinks to pass data to relay satellites.
SpaceX teams with Microsoft forming the dream team
The orbital emulator “conducts massive satellite constellation simulations with software and hardware in the loop,” according to a Microsoft blog post. “This allows satellite developers to evaluate and train AI algorithms and satellite networking before ever launching a single satellite.”
The SDA satellites are being designed to process data on board and re-task themselves autonomously. The Azure emulator tool allows the user to see what the satellite sees, which helps model scenarios and simulate the architecture.
To infinity… and beyond!
Like Buzz Lightyear, we are huge fans of space adventures and new technology. We love helping our existing and new clients achieve their goals and stay ahead of the competition. Managed IT services do not have to cost as much as a space mission. Contact the LIS Help Desk for an IT Audit. We will make sure you avoid viruses and steroids. Stay on the correct flight path and make sure you have a safe landing.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#AzureSpace #Microsoft #SpaceX #Technology
New building frontage complete at LIS office
Lodge Information Services are pleased to announce we have just finished our new building frontage. We commissioned Plan B Garden Design to design and build our new building frontage.
A well-designed and well-maintained landscape strengthens the image of our business and helps our business attract new clients and retain existing clients. The final result guarantees a better and beautiful working environment for our employees and clients. Experienced and skilled landscape professionals understood the importance of landscaping for our business and knew how to improve the building’s aesthetic appeal.
Benefits of a new building frontage
If you have the benefit of an external area that you can control. Then we would highly recommend our clients and suppliers to investigate their outdoor areas and investgate a new building frontage.
Many studies have shown that office workers are more productive around natural elements. A tranquil outdoor space will help your employees stay healthy and happy. Similarly, if employees are healthy and productive, they will focus on their work and finish it on time.
When you give attention to commercial landscaping and maintenance, it is a sign to your clients and competitors that your company cares for the environment. Commercial landscaping companies will help you improve the natural environment around your company by using native plants and other eco-friendly elements to beautify your office. The completed new building frontage will benefit your employees, clients and make your work a more appealing place.
Increase property values with improved landscaping
Investing in commercial landscaping services can help to improve the market value of your property. Therefore, it will help your business to stand out from competitors that do not see the value in making their outdoor space more attractive. You can experience an increase in revenue if your clients are attracted to your beautiful yard.
Safety and security
A well-maintained new building frontage by a landscape professional is considered to be safe, as well-placed plants and proper lighting help to keep the area safe. If your office’s surrounding has a secure environment, your employees can feel safe and stay comfortable. This will increase productivity and revenue.
Improved business prospects
Good and attractive landscaping design will help bring in new customers. People will be more interested in purchasing your products or services. People will walk by your business and see well-kept pathways, green grass and other aesthetic features. This will make your building more attractive and approachable to them.
With so many benefits achievable through commercial landscapes, it’s essential to work with the best landscape professional who will help your property gain all of these advantages.
Our happy and friendly team
Our team love our new building frontage. The next time you go past our office give us wave and a smile. Watch out for our spot the Santa competition. It’s the Thursday throwback (a blast from the past) take a look at build in 2014 of our office.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#BuildingFrontage #WellBeing #Environment
Facebook donates £1 million to help save a museum losing millions
Facebook is donating £1 million to Bletchley Park. The UK centre for Allied code breaking during World War II that now operates as a museum. This museum is losing millions of pounds during the pandemic. Rory Cellen-Jones the BBC’s Technology Correspondent takes closer look into this generous donation.
Leaders of the UK’s cultural sector warned the industry is facing possible devastation. A potential loss of more than 400,000 jobs and up to £74 billion in revenue to the end of 2020. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to new research from Oxford Economics commissioned by Creative Industries Federation. The research suggested museums are losing millions of revenue. As well as, theatres, galleries, will experience twice as much economic fallout from the pandemic as the overall economy. This also includes the industries of music, film, TV, Architecture and publishing.
Donation helps museum losing millions
The Bletchley Park Trust, a registered charity, announced in August that the site was facing a revenue shortfall of £2 million because of falling visitor numbers caused by the coronavirus. Because of the drop-in revenue (95% of annual income), the park announced it was considering 35 redundancies, constituting a third of its workforce. Facebook’s donation will save some of these jobs, but it’s not clear how many.
An ongoing legacy
Facebook said it made the donation in recognition of Bletchley Park’s “ongoing legacy as a birthplace of modern computing.” The park’s code breakers and mathematicians cracked the Enigma codes used by the Nazis. An achievement that some historians say shortened the length of the war by two to four years. They also made key theoretical and engineering breakthroughs. These include the creation of Colossus, the world’s first programmable digital computer. With the help of Alan Turing’s work, the English mathematician who is seen as the father of modern computer science and artificial intelligence. At its height, the code-breaking operation at Bletchley Park included some 10,000 employees, with women constituting roughly 75% of the workforce.
“The historic achievements of Alan Turing and the Bletchley team have benefited all of us greatly, including Facebook. We are thrilled to help preserve this spiritual home of modern computing,” said Steve Hatch, Facebook’s vice president of Northern Europe, in a press statement. The UK is Facebook’s biggest engineering hub outside the US, home to more than 3,000 employees, with more than half working in engineering roles.
In a press statement, Bletchley Park CEO Iain Standen said the site was “very grateful to Facebook” for its donation. “With this significant support, the Bletchley Park Trust will be better positioned to operate in the ‘new world’. It will keep its doors open for future generations,” said Standen.
Helping businesses in these troubled times
Museums are losing millions and all of the creative industries are experiencing difficult times. If ignored, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country.
LIS client benefit from support for workers from home. Our team provide remote IT support and make sure your team have the correct access and security to enable them to work as if they were in the office. Contact the LIS Help Desk to find out how we can support your company.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#technews #bletchleypark #funding #facebook
Google Assistant is a capable helper but adjusting these options will protect your privacy and put you in control. We have put together a short guide of five Google Assistant features you should turn off right now.
Business Insider take a look how to turn off or limit Google Assistant Features, if you don’t want it listening to you all of the time.
Make life easier with Google Assistant Features
You can use Google Assistant Features to set timers, call friends or restaurants for takeout and so much more. It’s certainly convenient to have Google around to answer quick questions. It will even report on the day’s weather or control your smart home. Still, there are some things you might want to disable on your Google smart speaker or smart display. After all, every feature of Google Assistant won’t be a good fit for everyone.
Whether you’re worried about privacy or just want a more natural conversation experience, here are five things to toggle off to get a simpler and safer Google Assistant experience.
Voice recording settings
Google recently announced changes to its voice recording privacy settings. Unless you opt in, Google won’t save your audio recordings or share them with its human analyzers to improve Google’s algorithms. However, if you opted in or have previously saved audio recordings, you can choose how long Google keeps them or manually delete them.
To adjust these settings, visit your Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. There, you’ll land on the You tab. Select Your Data in the Assistant and scroll down to Audio Recordings. Tap to see options for saving, reviewing and deleting recordings.
Continued Conversation helps Google listen for follow up questions without you having to say “Hey, Google” a second time. While this is handy, the extra listening can sometimes be less than seamless, especially when you don’t have a follow up question or you’re just asking a question of someone else in the room. Luckily, you can turn off this feature.
To turn off Continued Conversation in the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. In the next screen, navigate to the Assistant tab. There you’ll see several options including Continued Conversation. You’ll be able to toggle off Continued Conversation and see which speakers it will affect.
“Hey Google” sensitivity
If you feel like you’re always waking up your smart speakers accidentally, the “Hey Google” sensitivity may be too high. You can adjust how well your Google Assistant responds to its wake word if it isn’t hearing you well enough or if it mistakes other words for its wake word.
To adjust the sensitivity in the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. In the next screen, navigate to the Assistant tab and you’ll see several options including “Hey Google” sensitivity. There you’ll be able to adjust the sensitivity for each individual speaker in your home. Select the speaker you’d like to adjust and choose from five settings from “least sensitive” to “most sensitive.”
If you use a Google-enabled smart display like the Nest Hub Max, Lenovo Smart Display or JBL Link View, you may want to keep your camera disabled when you’re not making video calls. Each display does this a little differently. While JBL and Lenovo offer physical shutter options, you don’t get a built-in shutter with Google’s in-house display, the Nest Hub Max.
Instead, there’s a toggle button on the back of the display to disable the camera and microphone. An indicator light beside the camera lens shows the current status. This is a tough one, because you’ll need to remember to switch it on and off each time you use a camera feature. Still, having the option to make sure your camera is off when it needs to be is important.
Like voice recordings, Google saves information on the sites and apps you use with your Google account. If you’re concerned about privacy, adjusting these settings offers some peace of mind.
In the Home app, tap on your profile picture in the top right, followed by Assistant Settings. Tap the three dots on the top right of your screen and select Google activity controls. There, you’ll see a page with options for controlling which information Google gathers from your online and mobile app activity. You also can turn on auto-delete and choose how often your data is removed.
Whether you adjust one or all of these settings, personalizing your voice assistant can make the entire experience much more pleasant. If you live in a large household, features like Voice Match and Household Contacts can help everyone live in harmony with the same devices.
“Hey LIS”. How can you help me?
Technology is always changing; upgrades need to be managed and don’t forget about security issues. LIS customers benefit from our years if IT knowledge. We managed their IT systems to allow them to concentrate on their business. Consider us like you PC doctor or Virtual IT PA.
Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options and found out how easy it is to keep your systems up to scratch.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#GoogleAssistant #ITSupport #Upgrades #Security
How Excel may have caused loss of 16,000 Covid tests in England? Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet software may have led to Public Health England misplacing nearly 16,000 Covid test results. Due to the fact that the software has a million-row limit.
The story published yesterday by the BBC written by Leo Kelion (Technology Desk Editor) investigates what went wrong. This highlights that if you upgrade your software and talk to your IT provider, you will avoid nasty surpises. Are you using out of date operating system and software? Upgrade your software to make sure your business operates more efficiently and stays secure.
The data error led to 15,841 positive tests being left off the official daily figures. In addition, 50,000 potentially infectious people may have been missed by contact tracers and were not told to self-isolate. PHE was responsible for collating the test results from public and private labs.
Rapid development of the testing programme has meant that much of the work is still done manually. Individual labs send PHE spreadsheets containing their results. However, the system has improved from the early days of the pandemic and it is still far from automated.
Excel spreadsheet error caused a huge spike in Covid cases
The weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases has soared in dozens of areas of England. Nearly 16,000 cases were left unreported because of a technical error with an Excel spreadsheet.
Manchester now has the highest rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to 1st October. The equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people, up from 223.2 in the previous week.
The problem has led to a delay in efforts by NHS Test and Trace to find the contacts of those who tested positive for the virus, in some cases by around a week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was unable to say on Monday morning how many contacts of positive coronavirus cases had been missed.
IT experts ‘surprised’ at PHE use of Excel for Covid-19 data
IT experts have questioned why Public Health England used Excel for a scheme as large as NHS Test and Trace. Once the technical error led to nearly 16,000 cases going unreported. Computing experts and academics said it is “very surprising” that Excel was used for something of this scale and not adequately tested” they said.
“It is very surprising to hear that an enterprise scale system, presumably developed by professional technologists, is expected to run on Excel,” said Adam Leon Smith, fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and chair of BCS’s special interest group in software testing.
“Many large organisations refer disparagingly to Excel-based applications as ‘end-user driven architectures’. They spend lots of time trying to decommission them for reasons relating to security, control and stability”.
“This is mostly because Excel is designed for end-users not complex systems. It has well-known scalability limits. Excel can’t handle unexpected situations in a way that interacting systems will be able to recognise”.
“It sounds like these limitations have manifested in real problems in this case. This is exactly why databases are normally used in enterprise applications”.
“Even if presented with a system that did rely on Excel, one of the first things that should have been identified through a testing process was a limit to the data volume it could process.”
Excel has limitations
Dr Peter Bannister, executive chair for the Institution of Engineering and Technology Healthcare Sector, said limitations of commercial off-the-shelf products such as Excel for medical uses are well-known.
“It’s disappointing to read that a lack of awareness around the limitations of a consumer software product has led to such a negative impact for all those who are relying on the Covid testing programme,” he said.
“It’s widely known within medical device development that the use of commercial off-the-shelf products, such as Excel, requires additional testing to ensure that they are able to meet the stringent requirements of use in a healthcare setting.”
The Excel spreadsheet reached its maximum file size. New names could not be added in an automated process, he advised. The files have now been split into smaller multiple files to prevent the issue happening again.
Consider file size
Jon Crowcroft, Marconi Professor of communications systems from the University of Cambridge, said file size is a “basic consideration”.
“One would think that a software engineer would have considered a worst-case test scenario for any system design – on paper before you even get to writing code – just to make sure it wouldn’t blow up in any way like this,” he explained.
“The limitations of Excel in terms of big data, which is generally a very decent piece of software, are well-known – if you look at how many people are expressing astonishment at this online, you can see that.”
He continued: “There are many big systems in Government (e.g. DVLA’s or HMRC’s) that work at this scale so there’s no excuse.
“Also, a simple sanity check on the data or error checks in the system might have told them when they hit this limit instead of discovering it after the event.
“This sort of thing is standard in sixth form or undergraduate computer science training too.”
Upgrade your software for efficient business
Has your organization been considering an upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 from on premises Office/Exchange? Perhaps you’re holding back because the word, “upgrade” is enough to scare anyone away. Most companies upgrade software when they are forced to. But in the case of Office 365, the benefits you’ll get from upgrading are delightfully easy and without doubt worth the commitment.
Contact the LIS Help Desk about how we can upgrade your software to Office 365. Take advantage of tools like Intelligent Edge, PowerApps and Flow. These tools ensure your data is tied to the same cloud system. This enables you to access your email addresses without additional setup and configuration, as well as other benefits.
Office 365 Security Package
Our Office 365 Security Package is a bundle of software tools. The package works continuously on Microsoft Office 365 accounts. They provide genuine protection benefits that EVERY business ought to have. We manage EVERYTHING for you. It’s all in our hands, which is exactly how it should be. However, once we upgrade your software, you will have peace of mind to allow you to focus on your business.
Download our Office 365. A Risky Business? booklet to find our more.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#Excel #Covid #Office 365 #ITSupportEssex
Driving test website for England and Wales crashes shortly after reopening. DVSA portal had almost 7 million visits in 12 hours when it reopened after several months of suspension.
Driving test website crashes
The BBC reported millions of people were unable to access the site at all or losing their booking part way through the process.
Learner drivers will be unable to book a driving test until Wednesday. Urgent maintenance has started on the website after it crashed at a time of unprecedented demand.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said its driving test booking service had almost 7m visits in 12 hours. It reopened after several months of suspension during the coronavirus lockdown.
It said on Saturday that it had taken the service offline until 8am on Wednesday. Increased demand on the site led to essential maintenance to keep the site running.
Gareth Llewellyn, the DVSA’s chief executive, said: “Coronavirus has severely impacted our business-as-usual operations, including by stopping driving tests in March. Since then DVSA have only been dealing with applications for emergency driving tests for critical workers.
“Following unprecedented demand for the driving test booking system with almost 7m attempts to book a test when it opened, we need to carry out urgent maintenance so people can book tests. DVSA have closed the booking service until Wednesday 26 August and are sorry for any inconvenience.”
When will the driving test website re-open?
The DVSA driving test booking service for England and Wales reopened again at 8am on Friday after being closed since 20 March. The service received 7 million visits by 8pm. This left candidates unable to complete their bookings. Users received an error message when attempting to access the bookings page.
210,000 tests had been cancelled and tens of thousands more were delayed because of Covid-19, said the DVSA. Learners whose tests were cancelled during lockdown were first invited to rebook in July.
Driving tests in Scotland are due to restart from 14 September, but people are not yet able to book a slot.
IT does not have to drive you mad
Don’t let your IT system drive you mad. We are the IT recovery service for when your website crashes and/or you experience computer problems. Contact the LIS Help Desk today and our friendly team will be glad to offer you assistance.
We can fix your problems, suggest upgrades and manage your back up solutions. With a monthly IT contract, the benefits are endless. Can you afford not to work with an efficient, reliable and knowledgeable IT company. We are only one click or a phone call away. With our help you can drive towards your goals without tests getting in the way.
LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD
#Websites #Internet #ITSupport #Security
Support Posts from the Helpdesk
Our helpdesk and support office will be closed for essential electrical work on Wednesday 16th September from 6pm to 8pm. This is to improve reliability of our office supply. Our email and phone systems will not be available during this time. No client systems will be affected except offsite backups to our Woodham data centre. These are fully self recovering once the connection is restored.
In the event of an emergency our normal out of hours mobile support will be available to contract customers. Any non-emergency messages should be submitted by email to email@example.com in the usual way. No email will be lost during this process.
Apologies for any disruption this may cause. Please contact us if you need more information.
Our failover circuits are now fully operational, so calls to LIS will work normally while engineers are investigating the underlying problem. Many thanks for your patience.
Currently all lines in to LIS Woodham are down. The fault is due to a failure in the BT exchange presumably due to the heat. Engineers are investigating.
We have routed outbound calls through our fall back circuits but inbound calls have not yet failed over. Engineers are investigating that too!
Please contact the helpdesk by email to firstname.lastname@example.org while we work to resolve the situation. Many apologies for the inconvenience.
Following an earlier power failure at our Woodham office, calls to our helpdesk have been failing. We are now back online and apologise for the interruption to service.
We are receiving reports of network issues affecting some broadband and leased line customers. Engineers are investigating and we will update this notice when we have more information.
Apologies for any disruption.
The issue was related to LINX (the London Internet Exchange), which has now been resolved and would have potentially affected several Internet providers in the UK. We are awaiting a full RFO from them to confirm the cause.