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.

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.



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.


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.


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


Problems With IT Equipment At Home?

Are the kids at home with a computer that is not working properly? Working from home and having problems getting connected? Maybe it is time to get on to that company or hobby website you’ve had on your To Do List forever?
We can solve the majority of your issues over our remote control software, for the rest, we are happy to pick up a PC and return it fixed and cleaned, ready to go.
We aim to serve Plymouth and the surrounding area with training, updates, repairs and more on any equipment. With Covid-19 limiting visits, we can still assist you by taking over your PC from our office, diagnosing and fixing the issue. If a physical touch is needed, we can take equipment from your doorstep and do the repair at the office, returning it cleaned and ready to go!
Contact us on 07792 170142 – support@ask-the-earth.co.uk or via Facebook

A Catch Up Posting – Back From Travelling/Working In Europe

Well, what can I say, I have been travelling around Europe and further afield since my last posts, but as you would expect its come to a grinding halt with the Covid-19 Coronavirus events.   These jobs have involved spending a week each at clinics, installing IT gear and then running it and gathering the data generated.   Lots of patient and staff involvement and really good fun!

So this is just a posting to add some photos, take stock of the last few months and get ready for the next fun thing to do…

Scheemda, Netherlands

Glostrup, Denmark

Royal Free Hospital, London

Tel Aviv, Israel

Moorfields Eye Hospital, London

Aarau, Sitzerland

Bristol Eye Hospital

Malmo, Sweden

Ask The Earth IT Support – Questions And Answers

Ask The Earth has some history behind it!  It started in 1998 as a Small Business Support And Training Company in Taunton and over the next 8 years served many homes and a lot of Small Businesses in every aspect of IT.  We created and ran websites for 6 or more companies on an ongoing basis and were selling Essential Oils, Jukeboxes, Farm Equipment, Beanie Babies and a lot more.  We taught the teaching staff at Colleges and members of the public through “Community Education”, plus running bespoke training sessions for indiduals to cover their specific needs.  We supplied PCs and Laptops, repaired broken equipment and supported the users as and when they needed help.

Mike then spent 4 years as IT Manager for a major Taunton employer with 150 users, moving over to another major employer in Devon with 400 users for another 4 years.  During this time, we supported Automotive Dealerships on Social Media, IT and other support roles.  The Home and Small Business Support work continued during this time, supporting existing customers and taking on new ones as they came up.

We then moved to Plymouth to join an Automotive Dealership Group in the city for (yet another) 4 years.  In the last year or so, the Home and Small Business IT Support has taken off locally with people finding out about us through word-of-mouth.  We have also been running an Ecommerce website for a major Performance Car Parts company, supporting a Call Centre and a local Car Dealership, plus some other contract work.  You can see our recommendations here on Facebook!

Speaking of which, we have some space in the diary and have opened a Facebook Page here to let more people know we are available to help them.  Please let us know what you need, we will be happy to help!

The Future?  Well, these are interesting times here at Ask The Earth.  Mike will be travelling a fair bit on a new contract to install monitoring equipment in hospitals both in the UK and abroad.  Between these dates, we will be expanding the local work with small businesses and home users.   We will also be continuing this blog with local articles, book reviews and a lot more.

Leave a comment here, like our Facebook Page, ring or sms on 07792170142, tweet to @mike___davidson or email help@ask-the-earth.co.uk to book your session or to discuss your needs.

Speak soon, Mike



What is in a Home IT/Network Health Check?

So, what is covered in a “Home IT/Network Health Check”?

In short, whatever you’ve got!  If you have contacted Ask The Earth, chances are that you have a specific problem that needs fixing, so lets get that done first.  After that, there are probably a list of items that are a concern or just a pain; dropped connections, low speeds, error messages etc.  Let’s focus on those as well and clear the list down as much as possible.

The Health Check is a survey of your network and your gear.  It is making changes as we go along to improve ease of use, speed and convenience.  Some of them are really small changes, but make difference.

In the last few weeks. these are just some of the items we have found and solved at different clients:
Moved the broadband access to the main BT point in a house which had it running faster.
Changed the annoyingly random letter-ed password on the wifi so it is easier, less annoying and faster to connect.
Used a wifi extender to push the signal to the back of a cottage.
Changed the channel the wifi used to stop it competing with neighbours, this is surprisingly effective if you have problems with mobile devices.
Computers And Laptops:
Made sure that updates were going through properly.
Checked for Malware, Antivirus etc. fixing where necessary.
Removing old software and making sure that they are really gone.
Creating Backups and checking that existing backups are working.
Phones and Tablets:
We have set up several phones on PCs and laptops so that you can take backups and transfer between new phones without relying entirely on the sometimes optimistic vendor software.
Again, removing old apps and setting up cloud backups where possible.
Ensuring that these are set up for wifi-calls and updates, saving money.
A client wanted the printer to automatically print in black and white unless told not to, saving lots of cash when her kids printed wads of useless pages from the internet.
Game Consoles and Other Equipment:
There are a hundred tweaks that can make a big difference for gamers, we have set up DMZ for an XBOX, run cabling, prioritised traffic and lots more.

These are just a few items, the health check looks at everything, fixes what can be done at the time and documents the rest.  You get a document with everything listed and links to access everything from a browser.