Migrating Offices To New Equipment – Safely and Efficiently

Four hours with a new client today, moving the home office for his Financial Services Business from three old PCs to new equipment. All data and logins transferred, shared drives, software reinstalled and the team back to work! We also set up a new backup store and took the opportunity not to transfer old systems. We did the preparation remotely, then spent four hours on site, testing as we went. It was also a chance to document their network and their ensuring so that any future fixes will be faster and more efficient. A good session with a lovely team.

Drakes Island Tours – At Long Last…

Well!  What a cracking couple of hours that was…  We have spent the last few years (I moved to Plymouth in 2014) sat on all sides of the Sound overlooking Drakes Island and wondering what the place is like and on Friday we got to see it for real.   When the opportunity came up, it would have been churlish to turn it down.

It must be said that the site is a “work in progress” which is an interesting take, it is early days on their project and there are lots of areas that you cant get to or have scaffolding and fences.  For us, it was all part of the charm, we definitely intend to visit (probably each summer) to see how the progress is going.  Right now, there are four of five main areas and the three tour guides are obviously excited about the future.  Saying that, there is plenty to see and wander around, just don’t expect a visitor centre, informative plaques, a coffee shop and the normal things you’d see at a tourist attraction.  It is a building site while the team get the site under control.

Getting there is easy enough, the Silver Crest goes from Mount Batten Terminal (yes, you have to wear a mask) and its a 15 minute trip across the Sound to the jetty on the island.  We parked at Jennycliff and got a quick walk down to the terminal, leaving us half an hour or so to wander around the Mount Batten Breakwater.

The first part of the tour is outside the building complex that you can see from the Hoe.  They will end up being the Admin centre for the hotel, stores, kitchen, restaurant etc., but were historically the Officers and (separately) Ratings quarters, Canteen and so on.  The tour guides have some stories about the staff over the years and while I am sure its the 20th time they’ve been told, managed to still find them funny.

As with most of the Island, there are lots of lookout points and great views.

Further along are the remaining guns that used to protect the Sound from attack, we were told that they could reach out past the Breakwater.  Theres a long convoluted tale of how the others were removed, well worth a listen!  There is also a project to restore some of them for display and one of the chaps there was around in the 80s, the last time any of them were fired.  Interesting!

The one at the back is 25 tonnes, not including the trailer.

 

Next is the Caissement area, the curved seaward facing group of rooms that would have taken a gun each and faced outwards to cover the Sound.  These are the areas that are going to be the hotel rooms in the future and the views are going to be stunning!

The highlight of the tour are the tunnels that would once have been storage, communications and shelter for the gun platforms and they genuinely reak of history.  The tour guides make this good fun, getting people to turn off all the lights on phones and telling ghost stories which is a giggle.  There are odd rooms off to the sides which are closed off, but still lots of little nooks and crannies to explore.

After the tunnels, we went up to the top of the island, where the flagpole would have been, for a round-up of the visit, a good 20 minutes photo-taking and some more stories and information on the site.   The tour guides really are enthusiastic about the project and being tour guides is secondary to other roles they have on the build.  They lament the abuse the site gets which is completely fair, witness the graffiti and damage done by people coming over in the night-time and being daft.  There is less history here as a result and that is a real shame.  They appear to have a plan to get on top of this, but without 24 hour security it is going to continue to be a problem as they keep expanding the usable areas.

 

I had no idea that the rocks that can be seen at low tide and that block shipping from the one side of the island are really man-made obstacles put in place to stop incursions by enemy craft.  Thats probably the “new information” win for the day!

After that we went back down to the Jetty, jumped back on the SIlver Crest and jumped off at Mountbatten Breakwater, wandered back up to the car at Jennycliff and that was the day done.  The Silver Crest did go around the back of the island, which may not happen every time, so that was a treat as we had not been that close to that side of the island before.

We had a great visit, it is a building site for the most part so do not expect a polished tourist experience.  On the upside, its very much a chance to see the island before it becomes one and to keep up to speed on the development.  The team are great, the place is safe and clean, we were lucky with the weather and that helped a lot.  If you get the opportunity, we can only recommend the experience, especially if you havent been over before.

Strava works on boats too!  :o)

 

iMac Memory Upgrades – Mid 2010

So, slightly milking the iMac updates we did last week, and this posting about installing the memory will probably be the last.  The iMac Mid-2010 model is one of the easiest ones to upgrade, there are lots which are not upgradeable at home and this page (Makeuseof.com) has a list of which is which…

It is worth a look around to see if there are other issues to be aware of, in this case, the iMac is the lowest spec for the model and that meant we could not maximise the upgrade to the full 16gig without potentially losing some reliability.  This model came with an i3 processor and the internet is full of people warning against using single 8gig sticks of memory.

The reason for the upgrade was simple, it was running a weeny bit too slow for the operator who is using it for more than previous people.  Its slow while its maxing out on performance and hes waiting for the next thing to load.  As per the previous posting, we had already given it a good looking at, set up a timevault drive and generally taken some time to calm the machine down, however the machine itself was always going to want more than the supplied 4gig.

 

Anyway…

We did the research, ordered the memory from Global Memory and it turned up a couple of days afterwards.  This gave us the two sets of memory, 2 x 2 gig and 2 x 4 gig – it would have been tempting to try to add both sorts in the slots, but we are after reliability, and some sites say this will work, others that it won’t.  Safety first, lets just use 2 x 4 gig sticks it will make a massive difference to the user experience.

this model makes the upgrade really straightforward, pop the iMac facedown on a flat, fabric covered area and find the three screws in the bottom of the chassis.

When you unscrew these (the screws stay captured in the plate) you get to see the memory and there are two plastic tags tucked away in there that need to be pulled out.

Give these a good tug (firmly) and the memory already installed will pop out.

Make a note of which slots are in use and which way round the memory goes (check the notch), in our case the ones closest to the back of the machine were in use.  Using the same slots, slide the memory in (making sure that youve got the notch the right way round) and press firmly to seat it properly.  I havent seen one click yet, when its stopped moving, thats enough.

Tuck the plastic strips back in to the frame and reattach the plate with the three screws.

Thats pretty much job done, fire the iMac up and go to About This Mac, it will show you the new amount of memory, give it a whirl!  In the case of a 4gig to 8gig jump, you really will see the benefit immediately.  Below are some of the pics we took demonstrating the changes.

 

Mount Batten Tower – Plymstock

During our travels around the South West Coastal Path we (Karen and I) find ourselves passing some Points of Interest, including the Mount Batten Tower.  Either head up the stairs from the Mountbatten Breakwater (turn right as youre walking away from the pier and its the only place you can go – lots of steps!) or follow the South West Coastal Walk signs from Jennycliff Car Park.

We have always managed to walk past the Tower without taking too much notice, so we thought wed have a decent look this time.  There is a plaque explaining why it is there and whats is in it.

The text is as follows:

The circular tower in front of you is thought to have been built about 1646 and 1652, probably in response to the threat of war with the Dutch.  It was named after William Batten, who had commanded the Parliamentary navy in Plymouth during the Civil War between King Charles I and Parliament.  Mount Batten headland, then known as “Stert How” had proved to be of great strategic importance during the war, and the new tower was intended both to protect the entrance to the Cattewater and Sutton Harbour, and to fortify the headland.

 

The tower is built of local limestone, with walls about 1 metre thick.  There are two upper floors and a ground floor basement.  The entrance is at second floor level with the Plymouth coat of arms over the door, and there is a stairway within the wall giving access to the lower floor and the roof.  The upper floor has a fine domed stone vault and an ornate fireplace, and there is also a fireplace on the lower floor.  The roof contains emplacements for 10 guns.  It is similar to Cromwell’s Castle on Tresco on the Isles of Scilly.

 

The Tower was still armed in 1716, when six guns were noted as mounted there.  Its last known use was as a coastguard observation post during the second half of the 19th Century.  (please let me know what the copyright is and ill do the credit).

The gate was locked up when we were there so we will have a look online to see if its opened at all, would be interesting to see the inside as described.  Anyway, here are some photos of the building…

And some of the view…

I have had a look online and can not find any references to Stert How but I will keep looking, there must be a reason its called that.  We will find some more information out about this site, it doesnt get mentioned in Holinsheds Chronicles or any histories I can find, but then it didnt get to fire at the dutch in the end.

Getting On To Fiverr And Offering Services

Well, I finally found some time to add my offerings on Fiverr and I’ll be adding a lot more over the next few days.  It will be an interesting process as, while I do a lot of things remotely, most of my customers ahev come via word of mouth, previous contacts or spotting an opportunity and making the approach.  You can find me on Fiverr here and I’m sure I will be blogging how it develops.  You can find me on there at the moment offering to Fix/Repair/Develop Bigcommerce and WordPress sites.

You can also find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AskTheEarth/
Offering all of my usual services.

 

Jennycliff and why to visit the beach!

We (Karen and I) have been spending a lot of time at Jennicliffe during lockdown, especially since we decided to (finally) ignore the “Path Closed” sign and go down to the beach.  What a surprise!  It’s given the whole area a new lease of life for us.  Im not sure if we should be going there, going around some fencing thats been put up but with enough space to get past, but there are always people there enjoying the quiet!  I have dropped a couple of notes to Plymouth City Council to find out what the score is but have yet to get a response.  In the meatime, I’m satisfied that its safe enough, the stairs are clear and the route seems stable.  Anyway…

The views from the top near the coffee shop are amazing, you can see across to Cawsands, the Tamar and the Hoe, plus some inlets that cant be seen around the corner from most of Plymouth.  These are always busy with the boats always up to something worth watching.

Once you get down the steps (which are quite steep!) you really get a surprise, its a short stony beach, plus rockpools and cliffs to explore.  A fair few people use this beach to launch (mainly inflatable) canoes and boards which I imagine is down to the free (yes free!) car park…  Its perfect for this, partly as it doesnt get deep quickly and you can still stand up quite a way out.

The view from the beach is just wonderful, as its a little bit secluded its calm, wind free and the water is really flat (which sounds silly) and not as choppy as the rest of the sound gets…

I really can’t recommend getting to know this place enough, with free parking, the coffee shop, the views and its location just a couple of miles out of Plymstock, its got to be done!

IT Support At Home – Laptops, Wi-Fi, Backups and more

We had another session booked today with a family in Stonehouse with a range of small-ish, but annoying, issues.  In two hours we managed to sort out the following:

A laptop dropping off the wi-fi – this turned out to be due to some very out of date drivers and its been OK for the last couple of hours since we reinstalled the latest files.

An iPad running out of space and being very slow – as this iPad had never been attached to a PC, we did that, set up accounts and took an archive of most of the photos and videos.  We also went through how to close down and remove apps.  It is a lot happier now!

A Desktop PC that failed a while ago and had pretty much been taking up space ever since – we at least got it to fire up and it is now with us for a few days so that we can diagnose/repair and return it.  It will be needed for homework next year and it looks like a reinstall after we have backed up their photos and everything else will do the job.

The other laptop in the house could not open PDF files (and had some other odd browsing issues) was reset, had chrome installed and had Acrobat and some other extensions installed.  As this was the main laptop, we also set up a backup device to give them some peace of mind.

All told, a couple of hours on site and some problems sorted out.  The family can now have worry free use of their equipment.  Please let me know if you need some help, either with those minor inconveniences or with more complicated issues, we are here to help!

 

 

Going Postal – Socially Distanced IT Support

Going Postal! As with everything these days, we have been working remotely a lot, with clients even posting their equipment to us while their sites are closed down. As things are becoming more relaxed, this is lessening now, but its an option if you decide that you want to get support at a distance! This Lenovo laptop went back to its owners with a clean bill of health and some synch-ing and network issues resolved. #bubblewrap

iMac Mid-2010 Upgrade, Time Vault and General Maintenance

We have been busy during lockdown with new clients taking the opportunity to upgrade/update equipment and systems, this is a 2010 Apple iMac that we have updated to the latest (possible) OS, doubled the memory, set up a (much needed) Time Vault drive and generally taken good care of. We have extended the life of the machine, saved the client a pretty penny and sorted out some issues that were stopping it being used properly in the workplace. It will get returned tomorrow, set up and tested properly. Get in touch if you have issues with your PC, Mac or tablet and we can get you running again! #plymouth #ITSupport