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Tag Archives: PC Help

Can you get ISP satisfaction?

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Internet connectivity is everywhere you look, from PCs to smart phones to games consoles, whether it’s delivered over cables, phone lines or even wirelessly. For most of us, we don’t really think about our Internet Service Provider (ISP) except in two key areas. Firstly, there’s the time when we’ve got to pay the bill, although with bundling and direct debits quite normal for most ISPs you may never even think about that. Competition is still fierce and the price of both wireless and fixed line broadband services still continues to tumble on a per-gigabyte basis.

The other time, of course, is when things go wrong. When your connection is slow, flaky, or worst of all inexplicably “down”, you’re going to want to know why, and fast. Quite how your ISP responds (if they respond at all) will form a big part of how you relate to them, as beyond picking your plan details, it’s the primary time that you do relate to them at all. If the support person has an impenetrable accent, a poor line connection, baffles you with jargon or rigidly sticks to a support script that doesn’t help you in the least, it can quickly get annoying.

A recent Roy Morgan poll of ISP Satisfaction ratings reveals some interesting figures.  Overall, ISPs must be getting something right. In the six month period from July to December 2009, 73.3% of surveyed customers were at least “satisfied”. Of those, 43.7 were “Fairly Satisfied” and 29.6%” were “Very Satisfied”. Breaking it out into the actual providers reveals a lot more detail. Internode (90.3% satisfied) and iiNet (86.8%) customers seemed happiest with their service.

The wooden spoons — those ISPs whose customers fell below the 73.3% industry average — fared worse. Amongst the major players, these included dodo (66.9%), Telstra BigPond (66.1%) and iPrimus (65.1%). The interesting thing there is the gap between the the bottom rung and top rung, which Roy Morgan notes is higher than in other service industries. In other words, where you might expect a small gap between ISPs depending on how cranky given customers were, it’s odd that it’s this large. Either the good guys are exceptionally good, or the bad guys are doing particularly poorly. Telstra’s a particularly interesting case, as they’ve still got the lion’s share of the overall market. Are Telstra customers more irritable with some facet of their service, or does the number of customers give rise to a higher level of “squeaky wheel” dissatisfaction?

So what can an ISP do to “improve” customer satisfaction, given that in an ideal world, the only time you’d even notice your ISP is if they improved your service?


Back up Strategy – Drobo to the Rescue

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The new age of technology that we are in has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for people of all age groups. Today’s technology allows us to communicate and entertain ourselves on a whim in a way that has never been possible before. In fact, the Internet alone provides us with more hours of intellectual stimulation, fun and conversation than was imaginable just a few short years ago… not to mention the many ways that we can use computers for work and personal tasks.

The shift to such a heavy reliance on technology means that many of our important documents and even personal information exist in electronic form only. Less and less are we relying on physical documents anymore. In fact, for some people, family photographs and diaries are all kept solely on the personal computer. With so much of our information stored electronically it is important for computer owners to have a back up strategy for their files. Ideally, your electronic data should be backed up in a secure way on a regular basis. This protects you in case your computer suffers damage or suffers a loss of data for some other reason.

Although most home computer users are aware that they need to back up their computer hard drives, they are rarely sure how they should go about this task nor which back up methods they should actually use. If you have a home computer user with a home network, you might find it much easier to back up important information if with a Network-Attached Storage (NAS) device.
(Check out our “Home NAS” article)

One device that functions very much like a network-attached storage devices is Drobo. Drobo is a storage and back up device that was developed by Data Robotics, a California-based company. The device can be attached to most computers via USB 2.0 or FireWire and is for all intents and purposes completely self-contained. It is one of the simplest devices on the market for data protection.

Once the Drobo is connected to your computer it will automatically back up and provide protection for the files on your computer as well as on any other storage device connected to your computer. It contains its own operating system which will recognize any storage device attached to it on the fly. Drobo is easy to use and therefore even the most basic of computer users can use this device to keep their files safe and to preserve the important documents that are increasingly stored in electronic form on their computers.


What to Look for When Buying a Printer for your PC

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Computer and Internet technology provide us with the prospect of very soon conducting work and business using electronic and digital documents only; in essence, a paperless environment. However, there will always be a need to print documents every once in a while.

The cost of a printer is usually very low. Printer manufacturers know that they will make enough of a profit on ink cartridges to risk taking a small loss selling the printer. Therefore, many consumers find themselves in the position where they have a fantastic printer but over time, can not afford to buy ink for it.

A printer can usually only be used with unique ink cartridges made specifically by the manufacturer for that printer. This is something to bear in mind when you are making a decision about which printer to buy. Before committing to a specific printer, find out how much it will cost you to keep the printer supplied with ink cartridges.

Even though printers are sold cheaply, it is still important to make sure that you are buying a quality printer. You don’t want to have to shop for a new printer in a few months no matter how little you paid for it. Find out what people are saying about the printer you have your eye on. Review web sites are a great place to hear directly from other consumers.

Whether you are a student and will use your printer at home or if you are buying a printer for business purposes, you will probably want a printer with a few extra features. A variety of good features come packaged with today’s printers. A scanner, fax and copier are common built-in add-ons and ones that are recommended for home office use.

Printers come quite cheaply these days. If you take the time to do a little bit of research before buying, you can prevent yourself overspending on ink and from suffering with a printer that functions as cheaply as the price you paid for it.


Basic Photo Management

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The introduction of digital cameras and digital photos has allowed us the freedom to take photographs with complete freedom. We do not have to worry anymore about the cost of developing a roll of film or printing copies of photos for family members. The only limitation these days is perhaps storage for all of those photos.

If you haven’t found a good method of managing your photos, you may find that you have a problem finding the great photos that you have taken. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you have a great photo but not knowing where that photo is. This can happen with hard copy printed photos but it can also happen with digital photos on your computer.

It is important to have some type of filing system for storing your photos. The system that works wonders for me is to store photos in folders according to the event at which they were taken. So, all of the photos from an event will go in to the same folder. I will then label that folder by date (yyyymmdd) and then with the name of the event, for example, “20081225Christmas”, or something similar.

There are a few editing tasks that most digital camera users find they need to do on a regular basis. Often, they want to adjust the lighting in a photo. Either the photo is too dark or too light. Another issue is, knowing how to crop photos. Have you ever taken a beautiful photo of someone only to look at it later and find there was someone in the background pulling an ugly face or making some type of symbol with their hands? This is the type of thing you would want to crop out. Also, you will often have photos that need to be turned 90 degrees so that they are right way up.

All photo editing software functions slightly different to another. Usually, when you buy a digital camera you are offered some type of free software that allows you to edit your photos. It is important to read through the basic instructions that come with this software to learn how to do the three basic editing tasks listed above. If you did not receive editing software with your camera, your computer usually has at least one program installed upon purchase that offers basic photo editing. With PCs running Windows software, Paint is that program. If you don’t already know how to do these tasks, check out the Help section in Paint (or other programs) to learn how to use these great features.


Data Management Tips

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Your personal computer contains a large amount of your personal information. Files held on your computer are called data in “techie” talk and they are more important than you might think. Often when I talk to people, they speak about their computer files as though they are not important. They are not worried at all about getting viruses or about others accessing their personal data because they feel they have nothing important stored on their computer. I think the reality is that we quickly forget what we actually have stored on our computers.

Everyone uses their computer in a different way and at different rates. Some people are on their computer 24/7; they are online, working, doing homework or just socializing. Through doing these simple-sounding tasks, stacks and stacks of data is created and held on your computer. Work files are created, records of instant message conversations, bank passwords and more. My advice is to place a lot of value on the data stored on your computer.

The amount that you use your computer should determine how often you choose to back up your computer. Backing up your computer can serve two purposes. It can simply save your information in another location in case your computer is stolen or comes to some type of harm and files are irretrievable. Creating back up files can also be beneficial if you are running low on storage memory and you need to place files in a different location to make room for new data.

If you don’t use your computer very often, then you could potentially back up your computer every six months or even once a year. If you use your computer for work or school then it is wise to back up your computer often. I recommend that the average user back up their files every three months at minimum. Higher than average users should do back ups more often because they have more to lose should anything happen.

Backed up files can be placed wherever you want. If you have a back up drive with huge amounts of storage memory then you can place your files there. Alternatively, you can record files on a CD or DVD and file them for later retrieval. When doing this, I often make two copies of the data since CDs and DVDs are susceptible to scratches and damage.


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