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What do you mean they use computers in rural Scotland?

Rural and IT are two words that don’t really go together. One brings images of beaches, countryside and peacful tranquility while the other is broadband speeds, 3G signal and Facebook. Over the last month or so I have had the priviledge of travelling all around Scotland for work and have been to some really rural (and stunning) locations. So just how bad is the IT provison in rural locations?

I was speaking to a guy yesterday whilst doing a Cisco router install. During the conversation I mentioned I had been to Barra the previous day to which he replied “they use computers on Barra?”. “They do indeed use computers on Barra (why wouldn’t they?) and they even get broadband too” I answered. The look of disbileaf on his face was awesome!!

Broadband provision throughout most of the Highlands and Islands that I can see is pretty good. You will get slow speeds in a few places but provision in the more populated areas seems ok (I did Skype my wife from Barra and the pictrure and sound quality was pretty good). I also read an article in one of the local papers on Stornaway that gave times for fibre upgrades (2015-2016) which considering the area is actually pretty good.

There are also some areas that also have free wifi but this depends dramtically on how remote the place is. For instance all the Highlands and Islands airports have free wifi which is very handy. Some of the larger hotels do too (Castlebay Hotel on Barra is one example).

Not so good is 3G. Mobile phone signal in the Highlands and Islands ranges from ok to dreadful but it does again depend on which provider you have. My network is O2 and over the last couple of months I have had 3G in Wick and nothing at all in Barra, Dumfries and Galloway and certain parts of Orkney. Mobile working using 3G has been challenging to say the least!! I would like to think that this will improve with the rollout of 4G but personally I can’t see it coming to these parts anytime soon.

But one thing I did see time and again is yes these parts of the country are miles away from anywhere but they are not cut off. People still shop online at Amazon, do online banking and even work from home. As one local on Harris put it “just because we choose to live in the arse end of nowhere doesn’t mean we are cut off”.

Personally I would have no issues with relocating my business here (especially the Outer Hebrides) as broadband speeds are more than fast enough for video conferencing and remotely helping clients. My clients might have a different slant on that however!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

The rise of the mobile office

Yesterday was a scorcher with temperatures reaching 25 degrees in Stirling and hardly a cloud in the sky at times.  Not a day to be stuck in the office then (or a non air conditioned server room as happened the previous day).


I am never in the office at the best of times and there was no way I was getting stuck indoors yesterday so off I went to Kings Park with my MacBook and trusty wireless broadband to get some work done.  It is wonderful that in this day and age we don’t have to sit behind a desk to actually get work done.  The rise of cloud based solutions means you can now access your data from anywhere.  For example all my files are on Dropbox (and so are many of my clients) which means I can access them from anywhere and on any device which is very handy when I am out and about.

If you so choose you can now work from a tablet, a smartphone or even your trusty laptop underneath a blue sky and in the fresh air. With apps like HP ePrint you can now print to virtually anywhere too – this is very handy!!

Two things to keep in mind though when you work like this.  First is the internet.  If you have no mobile signal you have no internet (unless you go satellite based).  I moved 5 metres yesterday to get some shelter underneath a tree and my signal died!! I tend to use either my EE mobile broadband or my HTC Desire 500 which is on O2 but sometimes I get no signal from either which means a) no mobile working or b) find a coffee shop with wireless.

The second is the form factor you work on.  In the office you might have two monitors and a PC which gives you loads of space to organise your open applications. If you decide to work off a tablet (or smartphone) bear in mind you will have a smaller screen and only one app open at a time.  This is usually not an issue with things like email and web browsing but when you start getting truely productive (spreadsheets , word processing etc) this may or may not become an issue.  Try in the office before you head out into the “wilds” to see how it works for you.

Now while the sun is still out I am off to get some work done and maybe even get myself an icecream!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

The cloud and the connectivity issue

I have just spent a lovely 4 days in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland. Lovely beaches, lovely people and even the weather played nice (for the most part).  This area has very few population centres with Dumfries being the largest with roughly 30,000 people.  Ideal for a holiday then but what about working down here. If you are a business in these parts I would guess you won’t be embracing the cloud very much, unless you have an office in one of the few population centres, and the reason? Mobile signal is shockingly bad.


Between myself, my wife and the inlaws we had 3 networks – O2, EE and Virgin and none of them had any internet connectivity worth shouting about.  If you are a business in these parts that needs to be online while out and about you are going to struggle.

I had this exact conversation with someone at a networking event earlier in the week.  My stance was that no connectivity = no internet while theirs was there is always someway to get online, whether it be coffee shops, Macdonalds, mobile coverage etc. I can see their point but but unless you can actually get to a Starbucks, Cafe Nero etc you will have no wifi down here.  It was the same when I went to the Western Isles last year.  The mobile coverage out there was even worse.

If you have an office with good broadband then going for cloud based solutions does make sense.  If you work near a big population centre with coffee shops etc that have free wifi and also good mobile phone coverage again cloud does make sense. If you work in a remote area then cloud is not such a good idea.

Anyone work in remote areas and use cloud based solutions? I would love to hear how.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

How to transfer files over wi-fi to a Blackberry Playbook

I have been playing around with a Blackberry Playbook (no pun intended) recently to see what is the best way to access network shares and transfer files.  Today I will show you how to mount your Playbook as a network share on a Windows 7 system and transfer files to it.  This works for Workgroups only as I have not yet tried connecting a Playbook to Active Directory.

On the Playbook

  1. On the home screen tap on Settings (this is the grey cog on the top right hand corner of the screen).
  2. We need to jot down the ip address of the Playbook so tap on About – Network.  You should see the IPv4, IPv6 and MAC Address.  Write down the IPv4 address as we will need this later.
  3. Now in Settings scroll down the menu on the left until you come to Storage and Sharing and tap on it.  Locate Network Identification and tap on Properties.  This is where you enter details for the network so choose a name for your Playbook, enter the name of your Workgroup and a User name to access the Playbook when it is mounted.  Once done tap Back.
  4. Back on the Storage and Sharing screen make sure that File Sharing, Wi-Fi Sharing and Password Protect options are all set to on.
  5. Tap on Change Password to set a password to access the files when the Playbook is mounted.

Your Playbook is now correctly configured.  Now onto Windows 7.


On Windows 7

  1. Go to Start – Run and in the Open box type file://10.0.0.172 where 10.0.0.172 is the address of the Playbook on the network.
  2. A box should appear asking for network credentials.  Enter the username and password you set up earlier on the Playbook.
  3. Once accepted you will see two shared folders on the screen – certs and media.  All of your files will be in media.  You can now happily transfer files back and forth between your PC and your Playbook.

Update 22/03/12

If you just want to get data off the Playbook an easier way is to download an app called Wifi File Explorer.  Once downloaded and installed you can access the data through a web page!!

About the Author

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

CyberChimps
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