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plastic waste

We have all seen the news reports about plastic waste and we are all learning the environmental impact that it has. As an industry, we the IT/Technology industry should step up and do our part. It has been too long that we have not considered these things and when you start to look at the supply of hardware and software you soon see areas where we can collectively improve.

IT Companies must stop producing plastic waste

We can remember many years ago the ‘fashion’ for putting ‘Save Trees don’t print’ footers on emails: We now need to start to act on plastics which have such a detrimental impact on our environment.

plastic waste

While opening an Acer monitor today, we noticed extra packaging that was simply needless.  In this picture you see the manual (that no-doubt no-one reads and is actually a pointless waste of paper, printing, weight in shipping and therefore transport costs and environmental impact) is wrapped in a plastic bag, next the cables are each individually wrapped and plastic is wrapped around the ends of the cables themselves. None of which is needed.

The monitor itself is also in a plastic bag, inside the box, protected by the polystyrene, perhaps there is a need for this, but we really can not see the need for those around the cables and manual. We are not singling out Acer here – it is a systemic problem.

Stop Plastic Waste in the IT Industry

Changing practices in the IT industry will not solve the environmental plastics issue on its own, but if this is part of a wider change, perhaps we can collectively make a U-turn on the disposable consumerism that we have started down and consider the wider impacts of our products.

At Digitalquill we endeavour to consider the environmental impacts of our business. It is hard, we have to travel worldwide for business which has a huge environmental impact, but we try to offset this impact by planting trees and using other renewable energy sources and recycling where we can.

Stop Plastic Waste Campaign

Digitalquill propose starting a campaign to get the manufacturers of IT equipment to change their packaging. This would be a start to considering the wider environmental impacts of the disposal of IT equipment at the end of its life. We, as IT companies should also consider how we dispose of obsolete equipment.

If you would like to join us in starting this campaign please sign up at stopplasticuse.com

 

Small Business Saturday

Small Business SaturdaySmall businesses are at the beating heart of the nation’s economy, and we are great supporters of other small businesses like ourselves through our involvement in initiatives such as Hessle First.

Last Saturday, 2rd December was Small Business Saturday, and we were proud to be involved. The event was sponsored by American Express and encourages everyone to use small businesses on the day.

Digitalquill Supports Small Business Saturday

This Small Business Saturday, we were honoured to act as a host to our local MP for Hull West and Hessle, Emma Hardy. Emma was keen to visit as many small businesses as possible over the weekend and she was interested to find out more about the IT Support, software development and RFID systems we create for clients in Hull, East Yorkshire and all over the world.

Ms. Hardy said on Facebook: “I loved being able to visit some of the local small businesses today. We have such creativity here in Hull and Hessle.”

Small Business Saturday
Emma Hardy MP visits Digitalquill to promote Small Business Saturday

UK Small Businesses in Numbers

According to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) of which we are also a proud member, small businesses account for more than 99% of all private sector businesses. Almost 16 million people in the UK work for small businesses, which is 60% of all private sector jobs. We think that in these tough economic times, those figures are worth celebrating and supporting.

So why not shop small not just on Small Business Saturday, but think twice on every other day before passing your money on to the corporate behemoths? For more information on the annual event, check out the Small Business Saturday website.

Digitalquill support small businesses

For IT support, software solutions, RFID systems and business computer hardware in Hull, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire call Digitalquill on 01482 424402, email support@www.digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information.

Ten Underused Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

Ten Underused Windows Keyboard ShortcutsHere at Digitalquill, we don’t just offer IT support, design and software services. We also offer training and guidance on using IT systems more effectively. Here are some keyboard shortcuts that will make your working day more effective.

1: Alt+Tab

Holding Alt and repeatedly pressing the Tab key cycles between all of the applications you have open. This is much quicker than searching through the taskbar or closing down windows.

2.: Ctrl+Backspace

This handy shortcut deletes a whole word at a time rather than on character. It I much more efficient than holding the backspace key down and guessing when to release it.

3: Ctrl+S

This shortcut saves your work. It means you can save regularly without taking your hands off the keyboard when working on a big document.

  1. Ctrl+Home

This shortcut jumps to the top of your document…

  1. Ctrl+End

…and this jumps to the end!

  1. Windows+Home

This handy shortcut minimises all of your windows except the one that is currently active. It makes it simple to switch to the desktop but keeps your current application available.

  1. Ctrl+Shift+T

This shortcut works in Internet Explorer and reopens a tab if you close one by accident.

  1. Ctrl+D

Ctrl+D quickly adds a bookmark to your current webpage.

  1. Shift+Del

When you click a file in Windows Explorer then press Shift+Del it is deleted straight away, bypassing the Recycle Bin. Handy for shared computers, but use with caution!

  1. F2

When a file is selected, the F2 key lets you rename it without needing to go through the right-click menu.

Digitalquill IT Assistance

For more information on the services we offer, including IT training, technical support for business in Hull, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and supplying and configuring IT systems, get in touch. Call Digitalquill today on 01482 424402, email support@digitalquill.co.uk or visit www.digitalquill.co.uk for more information

Killer Dust - The single most common reason computers fail

Killer Dust - The single most common reason computers failWhat do you think is the most common reason to have to replace a computer? Believe it or not, the single biggest thing that kills computers is dust.

Dust and fluff gets inside the machine and blocks its fans and heat sinks causing them to run inefficiently or even fail, due to overheating. Heat damages the delicate computer chips and can literally melt the insides of the machine.

What Can I Do About Dust?

The first – and most obvious thing – is to keep your computer away from dust. If it is a laptop then shut it away in a protective case when it is not in use, rather than leaving it out. Try to keep the computer in a relatively dust-free environment. This is particularly important in some commercial scenarios where machinery can create dust that will damage them.

You should keep your computer clean. Vacuum the air intakes regularly to stop dust build ups. Avoid blowing into the fans, as this just forces the dust further inside and can clog the mechanism. Always make sure your computer has plenty of room around it for ventilation, too.

What If It Is Clogged Up?

Don’t panic: it’s not all over. All desktop and most laptop computers can be easily dismantled in order to access the fans and heat sinks. This means that the offending detritus can be removed by a professional. If necessary, fans and heat sinks can be replaced at low cost.

If the system has begun to overheat then there may be more problems: components or even the entire motherboard may need to be replaced. If this is the case then it may well be time to think about upgrading the entire machine.

Digitalquill: IT Support Experts

Don’t panic if your PC is behaving erratically. Although prevention is the best cure, all electronic components will break down eventually. The good news is that we can diagnose and fix your IT problems quickly and get you back up and running. For more information call us on 01482 424402 or email office@www.digitalquill.co.uk.

stop using free services for business

stop using free services for businessIt is not safe for your business to rely on services that are free, such as Yahoo, Gmail and Dropbox. Such services are not intended for business use and they are a security risk. There have been a number of hacks recently where data has been compromised from free services. It is much safer to have a proper mail or cloud storage service installed that is bespoke to your own business needs.

You might think that you are saving money by using free services for your business. After all, email, cloud storage and antivirus software can be expensive when you have to buy licences for the entire organisation. Think again: there are many good reasons why free services are not suitable for business use.

They are not really free

It is often said that if you are not paying for a product, then you are the product and this has never been more true than when it comes to the software industry. Google, Microsoft et al are not charities, and they use their free tools for a number of reasons. One is to draw you into their ecosystem and to make you reliant on their software so they have a captive audience. Some business models rely on drawing you in for free and then charging “power users” a subscription fee. Or – more worryingly – your data could be being monitored and sold on. The only way to be sure is to take control yourself and know what you are paying for.

They are not suitable for business use

There are two ways in which free services are unsuitable for business use. The first is to do with the terms and conditions of the software. Most free services are not permitted for use in profit-making enterprises, and business users often subsidise the free offering for consumers. This could result in legal action being taken against you for misusing the software, or a lack of technical support when things go wrong. AVG free virus guard for example cannot be used for business even if you are a small business.

The second way is security: Free services are unlikely to meet the security standards expected of businesses, and in return you will not have the security of guaranteed up-time nor the benefit of compensation if the service fails or ceases trading.

They can be targets for hackers

Last year, Yahoo, Dropbox and many other free services were hacked. The stolen passwords were shared on the internet. The Dropbox hack in particular highlights the risks – in this case the site was hacked using a user-name and password stolen from elsewhere. Imagine if your staff use the same passwords on your free mail service as your servers. You could be handing burglars the keys to your house just to save a few pounds!

Digitalquill can replicate most of these free services in a cost-effective and secure way for your Hull or East Riding business. For more information call us on 01482 424402 or email office@www.digitalquill.co.uk.

Strategic IT Plan with our Virtual IT Director Service

Strategic IT Plan with our Virtual IT Director ServiceYour business may not be based in the technology sector, but you still use technology every day of the week. Everything from your printer to your mobile phone is based on ever-more complex technology. If you do not have a strategic IT plan then your business is at risk being left behind as technology moves on. If you leave it too late, then catching up can be disruptive and expensive. It is cost effective to have a strategic IT plan professionally developed to unlock the technological potential you are missing or simply to make sure you are making the most of what you have.

In smaller companies, the owner has to be a Jack of all Trades – but all the best business people know where their limitations lie and bring in subject matter experts when they need them. You most likely already outsource graphic design work, printing or courier services without a second thought – but what about keeping the computer hardware and software that your business depends on up to date and running smoothly?

For those of us without the budget, or need, for a full-time member of staff purely to oversee your IT provision, computer systems, technical support etc., it can be tempting to leave them by the wayside, or to wait until it is too late and spend a big chunk of your hard-earned profits on expensive consultants and new equipment.

This is where Digitalquill’s Virtual IT Director service comes in. We will work with you, as part of the team, to develop your digital strategy. We will get to know your business systems and processes so we can recommend to your board of directors the areas in which your IT can be improved – to build the success of your business.

We do exactly what an IT director does: we ensure business continuity plans are created and tested; check your systems are secure; and make a plan for your business in terms of its technological progress to allow you to maintain a competitive advantage.

We can identify quick wins to improve technical performance and help you develop a rolling plan that keeps your hardware and software up to date. This lets you spread the cost of upgrades and future proof your business as technology continues to improve without unexpected costs.

For more information call us on 01482 424402 or email office@www.digitalquill.co.uk.

Dual Monitors Increase Productivity

Dual Monitors Increase ProductivityThree’s the magic number for gaming PC maker Razer, as they introduced the CES tech show in Las Vegas to their latest innovation: A laptop with three fold-out 4k screens!

The concept laptop has been wowing audiences as the extra two 17in screens fold out automatically, and when folded up the laptop is just 1.5 inches thick. Although intended for the gaming market, it is impossible to underestimate just how much your productivity can be boosted by working across multiple screens.

Add a second monitor for a low-cost productivity boost

Almost all modern laptops have an HDMI or similar display port, and this can be used to connect a second monitor. Your display can be mirrored to the second screen or, more usefully, you can use it to extend your desktop.

This gives you additional working space, and allows you to compare documents or spreadsheets side by side, or to keep your email program open on one screen whilst working on a second. You will find double screen setups in use everywhere from the creative industries to emergency services control rooms.

Quality monitors can be purchased for as little as £70, and can be installed with a single cable to your laptop. Desktop computers may need an additional, inexpensive piece of hardware to add a second display port.

Digitalquill: IT Productivity Experts

Why not try working across two screens to see for yourself how much more productive life is when you do not need to constantly switch between windows in your workspace. Digitalquill are experienced in improving productivity through IT solutions, and this is one of the quickest and cheapest boosts for any company.

Digitalquill can supply all of the IT equipment you need and help you make the alterations to your system settings to increase your productivity with multiple screens. For more information call us on 01482 424402 or email office@www.digitalquill.co.uk.

2017

2017The New Year is here, and there is no better time than to stop and take stock. All businesses need IT, whether they realise it or not, and we have identified ten opportunities you should be capitalising on in 2017 to keep ahead of the pack.

1 – Have a Strategic IT & Technical plan

If you do not have an IT plan then you risk being left behind as technology moves on. Catching up can be disruptive and expensive. It is cost effective to have a strategic IT plan professionally developed to unlock the technological potential you are missing

2 – Ensure your systems are secure

You should use corporate standard routers and firewalls to protect business systems. We often find businesses use consumer grade equipment which is insecure. If you process card transactions you need to be PCI-DSS compliant, which is unlikely if you have not installed specialist equipment. Keep safe from hackers by having it upgraded.

3 – Stop using free services

It is not safe for your business to be reliant on services that are free, such as Yahoo, Gmail and Dropbox. Such services are not guaranteed for business use and they are a security risk. There have been a number of hacks recently where data has been compromised from free services. It is much safer to have a proper mail or cloud storage service installed that is bespoke to your own business needs.

4 – Use a fully managed cloud antivirus service

Free antivirus such as Windows Defender is free for a reason – if you want a premium service you need to pay. A fully managed cloud antivirus service is always up to date, always monitored and keeps your business safe from malware, ransomware and viruses.

5 – Have a Rolling IT Upgrade Plan

Ensure workstations are up-to-date and running smoothly with planned rolling upgrades. Slow computers cost you time and money. Upgrading them all at once disrupts your business and costs a lot of money. Spread the cost with a rolling upgrade plan, to keep your business running smoothly.

6 – Utilise CRM systems to gather business data

Information is the lifeblood of modern business and if you are not capturing the right data then you are at a disadvantage. Once it has been collected it needs to be used, and that is where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system comes in, to operationalise the data and make it work to boost business.

7 – Utilise cloud based document management systems

Document Management Systems  allow you access and control over your company documents at all times. Instead of languishing on individual workers’ hard drives or disorganised file shares, the files can be held centrally and worked on by others. Collaborative working and version control becomes simple, and you can cut down on the amount of paper you use.

8 – Invest in your web presence

Your website is more than just a yellow pages entry: if you develop a website and update it regularly with new content then customers will return time and time again. F you do not have a website then you really need one in the modern environment, even if it is a simple one, and if yours has not been updated since 2015 then there is no better time than to give it a refresh. Constant updates are vital, so consider investing in managed blogging or social media services to complement it.

9 – Embrace social media

Social media is not just for teenagers. It is now a vital way to interact with your customers. You can even benefit from this if you are B2B, as social networks like LinkedIn span across personal and business relationships. There is not better way of focussing marketing spend to a specific demographic than social marketing.

10 – Utilise Business Intelligence and Analytics

Consider where you can use business intelligence systems and analytics to gain better knowledge and insight into your business, customers and market in which you operate. Knowledge is key to unlocking opportunities and converting leads, and modern data mining techniques can open up markets you would never have considered.

Digitalquill – Hull and East Yorkshire’s IT Specialists

Digitalquill are experts in IT provision and IT support. For more information on these IT improvements or any others, call us on 01482 424402 or email office@www.digitalquill.co.uk.

Hull City of Culture

Hull City of CultureThe Digitalquill Head Office is located in East Yorkshire in the town of Hessle, near Hull and we are very proud that our nearest big city has been chosen as the UK City of Culture for 2017.

Many of our clients are from outside of the UK, and may not be aware of the City of Culture, which is a designation granted to a UK City for a year, and is intended to build on the economic success of Liverpool which was the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

The city of Hull will host events every day of the year, ranging from music to theatre, light shows to firework displays. The City will also host the Turner Prize and exhibit art on loan from the British Museum. The City of Culture Website has the full itinerary – it is definitely worth visiting Hull this year.

Hull was once one of the biggest fishing ports in Europe, and was originally built up from money from the whaling industry. Culturally, the city has been home to dozens of notable people including the poet Philip Larkin, film director Anthony Minghella, pop band The Housemartins and playwright John Godber.

The year kicked off with a huge fireworks display on the Humber Estuary which was even bigger than London’s New Year fireworks, and a light display in the City Centre is projecting scenes from the City’s past onto the historic City Hall, Ferens Art Gallery and Maritime Museum throughout the first week.

Digitalquill support Hull 2017 UK City of Culture

We sincerely hope that this year will attract people to the city, and also boost investment in Hull across the whole economy and not just the arts and culture sector.

For more information, call us on 01482 424402 or email office@www.digitalquill.co.uk.

 

Critical Digital Skills in Business - Digital Skills Training

Critical Digital Skills in Business - Digital Skills TrainingThe modern world demands a certain degree of IT literacy, but we know that some companies are less comfortable than others when it comes to technology. We recently read the findings of the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2016 – in which the bank researched the attitudes of small businesses and charities to digital technology. The Yorkshire and the Humber factsheet makes for interesting reading: here are some of the highlights.

38% of Businesses Have No Basic Digital Skills

Knowing where to start can be the  biggest hurdle to overcome. Our support team at Dgitalquill are well versed in working with companies and individuals who lack confidence with computers. We will not patronise you or talk down to you. Call us on 01482 424402: we can gently coach and guide you through the digital maze.

48% of Small Businesses Have No Website

Having a website is critical for any business in 2016. Google has replaced the Yellow Pages as the place most people search for businesses, and without an online presence then your potential customers may not even know you exist! Your website is your shop window to the world, and customers expect every business to have a website, even if it only hosts a news page and contact details. Think about how you go about finding businesses and make sure you are not left behind. Call Digitalquill on 01482 424402 if you need a cost-effective website, or wish to use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to move it up the rankings on search engines to increase the number of clicks you get.

66% of Businesses Do Not Invest in Cyber Security

Against the recent backdrop of cyber hacking being linked to everything from internet outages in Germany to the US Election result, it is simply no longer an option to ignore your online security. The biggest challenge can be understanding what the risks are, and Digitalquill are able to conduct an audit of your cyber security strategy – or develop one with you to keep you safe from malware, viruses, ransomware and corporate espionage. Call us on 01482 424402 to discuss your needs.

68% of Businesses Invest Nothing in Digital Skills

It can be tough as a small business to justify investing in full-time IT support. This is where Digitalquill’s Virtual IT Director service comes in – you can simply buy in the skills as and when you need them. We can work with you, as part of the team, to oversee your digital strategy – on-demand. We will get to know your business requirements, systems and processes. We can then recommend to your board of directors the opportunities for IT hardware or systems to be improved. We can ensure your business continuity plans are created and tested; ensure your systems are secure; and create a plan for your business in terms of its technological development to give you a competitive advantage. Call us on 01482 424402 to discuss your needs.

44% Create Social Media Communities

This is good news, as social media is the quickest way to create a marketing buzz and convert it into sales. It is cost-effective and easy to target but many businesses do not know where to start. Digitalquill can help with both traditional marketing and social marketing – give us a call on 01482 424402 to find out more.

Adoption of eCommerce

Although most businesses are using some kind of eCommerce, our area is behind the national average. If you want to make or make payments electronically or sell from a website then rest assured that this is one of Digitalquill’s specialist areas. We can build you a website or make sure your point of sale equipment is compliant with the rules around credit card processing, and everything in between. Call us today on 01482 424402 for more details.