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Microsoft Windows Vista – End of Support

First of all, Happy New Year!

This year has been a very busy one for Firecrest (hence why the last post was this time last year!) with several Websites completed and lots of regular computer repair work. Information about our latest Web projects will be available on our Web portfolio page soon.

I just wanted to write this post to highlight the need to be aware of “end of life” for Microsoft Windows versions and what exactly this means. You might have been aware of this issue if you were using Windows XP a few years ago as support for Windows XP ended in April 2014. It is relevant again now, as support for Windows Vista is ending on April 11th 2017.

What does ‘End of Support’ mean in terms of Microsoft Windows versions?

Essentially, it means that Microsoft will no longer provide updates to the operating system. More specifically, it will mean that you will no longer get any Windows updates when you turn your computer off. These updates are important, as security problems get found very regularly and the only way to ensure that your computer/laptop is secure is to install the updates that Microsoft provide. If Microsoft are no longer providing such updates for your version of Windows, then when security issues or bugs are discovered Microsoft will not fix them. This will potentially leave your computer vulnerable to viruses, malicious software, or hackers.

If you have an old PC or laptop with Windows Vista on it, then after April 11th 2017 you will no longer get any security updates from Microsoft. If you do not use it on the Internet at all, security is much less of an issue and you can continue to use it after April 2017 relatively safely. However, if it is connected to the Internet (for example, to browse the Web or check your emails) then it will be more vulnerable.

Another issue is that newer versions of software programs will not work with Windows Vista after April, as updates to software programs will not be made to support it. If you use Microsoft Security Essentials (free anti-virus program), it will also be phased out for Windows Vista after April 2017. Drivers for newer hardware will also not be available for the unsupported version of Windows so if you buy a new printer, for example, it will be difficult to get it to work.

You can check when support for your version of Windows ends by looking at the table in the following link: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet

What can you do if support is ending for your version of Windows?

Microsoft has a few useful links with more information about what it means when support ends and what the options are available to you:

What does it mean if Windows is not supported?

How do I stay protected now that support has ended?

Note: the above link is for Windows XP but will be equally applicable to Windows Vista after April 2017.

It boils down to three options:

  1. Continue to use the unsupported version of Windows
  2. Upgrade to a newer version of Windows (possibly Windows 10 at the time of writing)
  3. Purchase a new PC or laptop with a newer version of Windows already installed

If you take option 1, then it will still work and everything might be absolutely fine – but you are taking a risk. Whenever security vulnverabilities are discovered (and they will be discovered as they are regularly for all versions of Microsoft Windows), Microsoft will not offer fixes for them. You will gradually find that you can not install newer software or hardware on it. If you access your email via Internet Explorer then it might not work if the provider updates their interface, and so on.

Option 2 might be feasible but it depends on the age of your PC. Newer versions of Windows require more resources in terms of processor and memory than previous versions, so it might not be possible – or if it is, the newer version will run extremely slowly on your machine. You will also need to pay for the licence for the new version of Windows (as the deadline for the free upgrade to Windows 10 ran out in July 2016) and sometimes it might be more cost effective to put the money that you would pay for an upgraded version of Windows towards a new computer. You would also need to ensure that all of your documents and files are backed up before upgrading.

Option 3 is often the best choice, but the variety of different makes, models, and specifications of a new laptop or PC can be overwhelming. You also need to ensure that all of your files are copied over from your old machine to your new one and everything is configuredto your liking, including anti-virus software.

If you have a computer running Windows Vista and would like some help or advice on what to do, then please contact me. I can discuss the options and costs with you and offer help. If you have purchased a new laptop or PC and would like everything backed up from your old computer and set up on your new one, I offer this service – just contact me for a chat.

Posted in IT support, laptop repair, PC repair | Leave a comment

Give your computer an M.O.T for the New Year!

If your laptop or desktop computer is feeling sluggish (like a lot of people after the Christmas holidays!), it will definitely benefit from an M.O.T. This can really improve the speed of your computer, make it more responsive, and less frustrating to use. An M.O.T includes:

  • Complete virus scan
  • Removal of unwanted programs, particularly junkware and programs slowing down the start-up of your computer
  • Hard drive optimisation
  • Applying all Windows updates
  • Checking hardware to see if any other improvements are required

All for just £45. I can collect your computer, perform the full M.O.T and bring it back to your address within a couple of days (sooner if possible) so you don’t even have to take it to a shop.

If you’d like your computer to be running much better for 2016, just contact me to arrange an M.O.T.

Mark,
Firecrest Computing Services

Posted in laptop repair, PC repair | Comments Off on Give your computer an M.O.T for the New Year!

The importance of backing up (again!)

You will have heard people telling you to do it, in person and on the televison. You’ll have read, again and again, about how important it is to do it. You’ll probably have had alerts from your computer, particularly if running Windows, telling you to do it. What am I talking about? Of course, backing up. But if you are like most people, you probably ignore it and think “I know some people lose all their information in a computer crash but it’s rare and it’ll never happen to me” or “I’ll do it when I get the time”. You may even think that you have nothing important on your computer that is worth backing up.

I’ll address these one at a time:

– “It’ll never happen to me”: It will. I can say with almost certainty, at some time or another, your computer will irrecoverably crash. Storage devices, such as the hard drive in your computer or laptop, or USB drives, only last so long. It is impossible to say how long they will last but at some point, probably when it is least convenient, they will die on you. One day you’ll switch your computer on and, with no warning, it won’t boot. You’ll contact someone to help (maybe even the company called Firecrest Computing!) and they will tell you that your hard drive is damaged and there is a chance of recovering something from it, but not much. You may plug your USB drive in to your laptop, which holds the only copy of some very important documents for work, and the laptop doesn’t recognise it. If you haven’t backed up your data to somewhere else, all of your important data (documents, photos etc.) has gone.

– “I’ll do it when I get time”. See above. Hard drive/USB drive crashes can give you no warning at all so there may not be time to back-up quickly. How much value do you put on your data? As an example, a recent call was from someone who had got the CryptoWall 3.0 virus on their laptop, which held the only copy of their very important reports for work. CryptoWall 3.0 encrypts data that it finds on a computer and basically asks you to pay in order to decrypt the data (get it back). In this instance, I was able to recover (without paying the ransom) some of the data – but not all of it. (I will write another blog about CryptoWall soon, but if you do get it, do not pay any ransom, switch the laptop off and call me – there is a chance that I can get some of your data back if you do not use it in the meantime). If the client had a back-up of the important data on another drive, perhaps a USB drive, they could have recovered everything. They had no warning that they were going to get the virus and couldn’t have predicted it. There was no time to quickly back-up the data before it got encrypted.

– “I have nothing important”: Sometime this is genuinely the case, but a lot of time people forget exactly what they have stored on a computer and what they could lose. Family photos, documents downloaded and saved from email, etc. will all go if you have no back-up copy.

Therefore, it is boring and obvious, but the importance of backing up your data cannot be overstated. The key things with backing up are:

– Make it as easy as you can, otherwise you won’t do it. There are a number of (free) software programs that can help with this – I can help to set-up programs for you that can greatly ease backing up your important data. Operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, have automated backing up procedures which are fine – but the problem is that not everyone leaves their computer on 24/7 and by default they often set back-ups to run in the early hours. They can also be very confusing. Again, if you need help understanding anything, contact me and I can come and set it all up.

– Make it regular. There is no point doing it once a year for example, as if it crashes sometime during that year you have lost months of work/photos/documents.

– Backup to something external and keep the backup safe. In other words, not just to a folder on the same hard drive as your main computer. If the hard drive crashes, you’ll lose your back-up as well as the main copy of your data. There are also many ‘cloud’ providers that allow you to back-up to space on their servers, which is obviously external, but I’m largely dealing with backing up to your own external hard drive/USB drive/DVDs here but the same applies if you are backing up to the ‘Cloud’.

– Make sure that you back-up the important data. Some default settings for back-up programs miss places where people save their data – it is always worth checking that everything that you do not want to lose is being backed up.

I know you have read this many times before, and I’m probably not telling you anything new, but it is worth repeating again and again. I get frequent calls from people who have lose data that they really do not want to lose – sometimes it can be recovered, but depending on the damage, many times not and is is rare that everything can be recovered. Backing up can be a tedious, confusing process – if you are not sure about it or want help to make it easier, just contact me and I can come and help you to back everything up and show you how to do it regularly in the future. Just make sure that you do back-ups.

Posted in laptop repair, PC repair | Comments Off on The importance of backing up (again!)

Does your computer need an M.O.T?

Computers, like cars, need regular maintenance otherwise, like cars, you will start to encounter problems. However, cars are regularly serviced to check everything is running correctly, change the oil and filters etc. and cars over a certain age are required to have yearly M.O.Ts. The issue is that many people do not recognise that computers need fairly regular servicing to make sure that they are running correctly, they are suitably protected from viruses and malware, the hard drive is optimised and so on.

Over time if you use a computer regularly you will notice that it inevitably starts to boot up more slowly than before. You will also probably notice that your Internet browser takes longer to load when you click it, it might crash regularly, and the computer generally responds more slowly than it used to. This is because it has accumulated a lot of temporary files, junk programs, start-up programs, services, and many other issues. If you are noticing this with your computer then it might need what I call a computer ‘Service’ or ‘M.O.T’.

We offer a full service/M.O.T for your computer for just £45. For that we will give it a complete check over and clean up, including:

  • Removal of temporary files
  • Removal of unnecessary start-up programs, services, and unneeded loaded programs that are slowing down your computer
  • Complete virus and malware scan and removal
  • Removal of any ‘junkware‘ programs
  • Optimise the hard drive to make it perform better
  • Install all updates

And more, for just £45! This can really improve the responsiveness and speed of a slower computer. What is more, we will collect your computer/laptop from your own home, service it, and return it to you as soon as possible.

If you think your computer needs a service or M.O.T, just contact Firecrest now to arrange it and have your computer running better than ever before.

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Anti-virus Software – Advice

While performing computer M.O.Ts for people, I find that a lot of them have some form of malware (malicious software) or even virus on them (the difference between the terms ‘virus’, ‘malware’, ‘adware’ and so on is a subject for another post!).  The computers/laptops almost always have an anti-virus program installed on them and so the question that the customer will ask me is: “How did it get in? I have an anti-virus program on there!”. I then explain that no anti-virus program, paid for or free, can be 100% effective – it just is not possible. New viruses and malware are released everyday so even a very regularly updated anti-virus program can not catch absolutely everything. Not all forms of malware are automatically classified as ‘malware’ by an anti-virus program, some are what are called ‘Potentially Unwanted Programs’ (i.e. programs that have been installed on your computer when you were installing something else as part of an advertising campaign – see my last post for more information and how to avoid them).

The next question that some customers ask is, very reasonably, “What is the point of having an anti-virus program then if viruses still get in?”. The answer is that it can be compared to your house – you can lock all of your doors and windows, have a burglar alarm fitted, and take all reasonable precautions and if a burglar really wants to get into your house, they will get in. This is similar to an anti-virus program: they will protect you from a lot of malicious software but some determined viruses will still get into your computer, even with updated anti-virus software. If you don’t install any anti-virus software at all then you could say that it is like leaving the front door to your house unlocked so more people can get in more easily.

If an anti-virus program is needed (and for all but the most experienced users who are not using Microsoft Windows, it definitely is), then which one to go for? There is a huge range available, from paid to free, from simply providing virus protection to offering lots of other extras (firewalls, data back-up, etc.). Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” solution. However, if you are using an older computer then look for something that is relatively light on resources. A reasonable, free solution is Microsoft Security Essentials (if you are using Windows 7 or below) or Windows Defender which comes installed as part of Windows 8/8.1. Importantly, always keep your anti-virus program and definitions up to date.

If you are looking for an anti-virus program then I can advise you on a solution that is appropriate for your computer, and can often provide and configure a free anti-virus program for you. Simply contact me for a discussion or to receive a quote.

If you have a virus on your computer already and are having difficulty removing it, then I can remove it for you. Contact me for a quote, and while there I can advise you on anti-virus software and how to avoid viruses in the future.

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Improve the speed of a slow PC or laptop

I perform what I call ‘computer M.O.Ts’ for customers as a way of improving the speed of a laptop or desktop computer that has become very slow over time. In these situations, one of the most regular things that I see that has an impact upon performance – and that is easy to avoid – is that they almost always have lots of unnecessary programs installed on them. Many of these programs are, essentially, junk and a good number of them are trying to get people to pay money for a service that is completely unneeded.  As an example, there are a huge number of programs that are available that claim to ‘Speed up your PC’ if you pay for the full version.

The main question that I get asked by customers when I point out these programs is “How did it get onto my computer? I didn’t install it!”. In some cases they may have been installed by another family member, but usually they are programs that get installed when you are installing something else. If you choose to install a program – ANY program that you download from the Internet, especially if it is free – then always check the pages that are displayed while you are installing it rather than clicking ‘Next’ to get the installation over as quickly as possible. I know, we all do it – and I’m not asking you to read all of the pages and pages of ‘Terms and Conditions’! – but this is how a lot of the unwanted ‘junk’ gets installed on your computer. A lot of free programs make their money by bundling other programs in with their own program. These extra unwanted programs then get installed onto your computer when you are installing the program that you actually want. This happens because when you just click ‘Next’ when installing the program that you want to, you miss that it says ‘By clicking Next you agree to install the ‘Speedup my PC’ software from our partners’! Then ‘Speedup my PC’ gets installed, sets itself to automatically start the next time you start your computer, and your computer starts to slow down. After this happens many times and your computer gets filled with many of these programs that you don’t want, all starting and running automatically when you start your computer, you’ll start to notice that your computer gets slower and slower over time (and you have to keep closing annoying programs).

So how do you avoid this happening? The main things are:

  • Check where you are downloading programs from – for example, if you want to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader then check that you are downloading it from adobe.com (look at the address in your Web browser to check that it says adobe.com). There are other Websites available that repackage freely available software and bundle other software in with it by default. In these cases the Website owners make money from bundling software together, and you get a load of unwanted programs on your computer. You want to avoid these wherever possible and go to the original producers of the program (e.g. adobe.com for Adobe programs).
  • After you have downloaded a file and are installing it, ALWAYS look at the pages that are displayed when you are going through the installation process (particularly any free program that you downloaded from the Internet). Look for any boxes that are ticked when you are installing something and see if it says it is installing some other program. For example, ‘By ticking the box below, you agree to install the PC Speedup application’ – if so un-tick the corresponding box before clicking the ‘Next’ or ‘Install’ button.
  • Generally, avoid installing any software that claims to be a ‘toolbar’ or ‘Internet Explorer Toolbar’. These toolbars are displayed at the top of your browser when you go onto the Internet and might display weather or news information, or claim to give you extra smileys to put in your Facebook posts, for example. The problem is that they slow down your Internet browser and in the majority of cases come bundled with some other software or even viruses in some cases.
  • Always have an active anti-virus program installed and running if you are downloading and installing ANY program. However, in the majority of cases of bundled software your standard anti-virus program won’t stop them getting onto your computer as they are not actually viruses, just junk that slows down your computer (and by just clicking ‘Next’ and leaving the box ticked saying that you agree to install all the extra software when installing something else, you have unwittingly asked to install the junk!).

If you follow the above rules then you should (it can’t be guaranteed!) avoid the majority of unwanted software and programs. If you have already got a lot of this junk on your computer, you can try to uninstall them using their own uninstallation programs or through the uninstall programs option Microsoft Windows.

However, if you find that your computer is full of junk, slow, and you are having problems getting rid of the unwanted stuff, then contact me. I can help, often with a computer speed-up/’M.O.T’ after which your computer will be a lot better and faster. I can also advise how to avoid these issues in the future.

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Free alternatives to Microsoft Office

One thing that continually surprises many people is just how much Microsoft Office costs to purchase. This becomes particularly apparent to many of my customers when it comes time to buy a new laptop or PC that doesn’t come pre-installed with a copy of Microsoft Office. They then need to look at getting a copy of Office or they are not able to open, read, or write new Word documents (or Excel spreadsheets). It is at this point that they realise just how much it can cost for a copy of Microsoft Office!

At the time of writing, the cheapest option for the latest version of Office (2013) is to get the Microsoft Office Home and Student version for £100-£110. This gives you Microsoft’s word processing software (Word), the spreadsheet software (Excel) and the presentation software (PowerPoint), which should be enough for most people. If you want to install the software on more than one PC or laptop then you need to go for the Microsoft Office 365 package which allows you to install it on up to five devices. However, this is only available as a subscription of around £79.99 a year!

Therefore, obviously all of the options are fairly expensive. However, there are some fantastic alternatives that can provide you with a complete Office package (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases) – for free! Two of the most well used and supported are Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice. Both of these programs will provide you with everything that Microsoft Office provides, legally, for free. Importantly, they will always be free – so you can update/upgrade them as new versions are released and it will not cost you anything. There are fairly frequent Microsoft Office updates, as I’m sure anyone who uses it knows, but if you want to upgrade to the newer version you usually have to pay again. With OpenOffice or LibreOffice, all of the updates are free of charge so you can upgrade to the newest version at anytime without having to pay again. You can also install them on as many different devices as you wish (PC, laptop, etc) without having to pay for another licence to install it on your laptop as well as your desktop PC.

Both of the programs are compatible with Microsoft Office files, so they can open Microsoft Word files. For example, if someone sends you a Microsoft Word file in an email you can open it without any problems. I have installed OpenOffice for many of my customers and they are very happy with it (particularly with the fact that they don’t have to pay in order to read Word files!).

The only problem is that if you create a new document in its word processing program it will save it in a different format to Microsoft Word. Therefore, if you write a letter to someone in OpenOffice’s word processing program, save it, and email it to a friend, they will not be able to open it if they haven’t got OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) on their computer – which is not ideal. This is easily solved though by changing the default settings in the program so that it saves in a format compatible with Microsoft Word by default.

If you want to be able to write word processed documents but can’t afford the increasing cost of Microsoft Office, then try OpenOffice or LibreOffice. If in doubt about which one to try, I’d say try OpenOffice as it seems to use fewer resources than LibreOffice and so will work better on slightly older computers. If you have used Microsoft Office programs before, such as Word, then it will look very familiar and you won’t have a problem understanding how to use it. If you need a hand installing it or configuring it to work how you want it to (for example, to save in Microsoft Word format by default), then just contact me.

I’ve set these programs up for many customers and can help you to have a free alternative to Microsoft Office up and running in no time!

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Fake PC technical support telephone calls from your ISP or Microsoft

I regularly visit customers to fix problems with their laptops or desktop PCs and it surprising just how many mention that they have had a telephone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft offering to fix a problem with their computer. I am writing this blog post to hopefully help people to avoid being scammed by these callers or to advise people who might have had one of these telephone calls and are worried or concerned.

Firstly, these callers are definitely a scam. They are operated from call centres in countries outside of the UK and they will ring huge volumes of telephone numbers, sometimes using details (such as your name) that they get from telephone directories or publicly available information (so don’t be fooled if they do have your name!). They are hoping to take advantage of someone they hope will not be technically knowledgeable enough to see through what they are doing. They often ring older people for this reason.

They generally operate in the same way. They will claim to be from “Microsoft” or from your broadband company or ISP. I myself had one that claimed to be from a company called “PC Technical Support” who dealt with the technical support for all(!) broadband suppliers in the UK (Sky, Virgin Media, BT…) – which gets around the fact that they do not know what Internet provider you are with! They will then say that they have noticed or been notified of problems with your PC (or, if they are from your “Internet Provider”, problems with your Internet connection). What they are hoping for is to fool you enough so that you will give them remote access to your PC and hand over your money. In order to do this they will usually ask you to go onto your computer and open a program that is in every version of Windows called “Event Viewer”. This program simply logs details of all messages, warnings and error reports by Windows, and the vast majority of times they are of no concern whatsoever (and when they are, it will not be what the scammers say). The reason they get you to do this is that they can guarantee that there will be some error messages in there (harmless) and the error messages have a nice visible red cross next to them.  They will use these errors and the big red cross to scare you. However, they may get you to do something else rather than use Event Viewer, so do not be fooled if it is not exactly the same – the end result is to scare you into thinking that harmless things are evidence of major errors or that you have been hacked. For example, I have heard that some callers get you to open a particular directory on your computer and tell you that all of the files there are evidence that you have been “hacked”. It can always be ignored.

The next step – and the thing you definitely want to avoid – is they will try to convince you to download a program that gives them remote access to your computer. The program they will ask you to download is – usually – a legitimate program. They are programs that actual computer technicians use sometimes to deal with problems remotely, but the difference is that we will never ring someone unsolicited and ask you to do it.  Once they have access to the computer, as well as gaining access to your confidential files, they can essentially blackmail you. They will ask you to pay a fee for them to fix all of the errors (usually into the £100+ pounds) or to enter into some sort of bogus support contract with them – and they may even direct you to a suspicious Website to ask you to enter in your bank details. If you fail to do so, and they have remote access to your computer, then I know of customers who have been essentially locked out of their computer. One trick the scammers do is to encrypt the Windows registry which will not let you into Windows without knowing the password and is very difficult (but in many cases, not impossible) to reverse. They also delete files, install viruses and malware, and so on.

The key thing to remember is that if you get an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming that there is a problem with your computer or Internet connection, be very, very suspicious. Microsoft will not call you up unsolicited, so if they claim to be from Microsoft – just hang up immediately. I would always suggest hanging up if you get any unsolicited telephone call about your computer. The problem has been going on for a long time, as this Guardian article from 2010 indicates. However, if you do enter into a discussion with them:

– Ask if there is a fee for the service upfront. If they say that there is, hang up immediately.
– If they say they are from Microsoft, hang up. As I linked to above, Microsoft will not ring you up unsolicited.
– If they are from another company, then again no legitimate technical support company will cold call you so hang up.
– If you have not had any problems with your computer and they are saying that there is, hang up.
– If they claim to be from your broadband supplier, ask questions to verify that they actually are legitimate. If in doubt, hang up and call your supplier to check – preferably from a different telephone.
– Try to get some information from them about who they are, and what company they work for. If they claim to provide support for all broadband companies, hang up as no-one provides this service and they will not ring you without you contacting them.
– Never give them access to your computer, and never give them any payment or bank details.

So to summarise, if someone calls you up unsolicited about a problem with your computer you can be certain that it is a scam and you should always hang up before allowing them to try to convince you. If you are having problems with your Internet connection and you get one of these phone calls, politely decline and then contact your broadband provider separately.

Of course, if you do have problems with your desktop PC or laptop then Firecrest Computing can help you – as many of our loyal customers will testify! – but we will not ring you to tell you there is a problem that you didn’t know about. Contact us to discuss your problem and we will provide a quote for fixing it. We can even come to your home to fix any problems.

If you do think that you have been the victim of such a scam, then if you have supplied any bank details or paid while they had remote access to your computer, then contact your bank immediately and inform them. You will also need to have your computer checked for malicious software and a thorough security check and clean up. Firecrest provide such a service, so simply contact us and I can come around, check your computer and hopefully put your mind at rest.

Don’t get scammed. Hang up on any unsolicited calls from “Microsoft” or any other technical support company that you cannot verify.

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Computer repair in Stoke-on-Trent

I have been doing a lot of computer and laptop repair work, such as virus removal, for customers in Stoke-on-Trent over the past few months. Some of the work I have carried out for people includes:

  • Removing many different viruses, including fake Internet Security and the Metropolitan Police virus – and the many variants. These essentially take over your screen when it loads warning you that you have committed some form of crime and need to pay £100 (or similar) . If you get this, DO NOT PAY and contact me and I can come out and remove it within an hour.
  • Fixing laptops and computers that are continually rebooting (‘Blue Screen of Death’).
  • Diagnosing and fixing computer hardware problems such as faulty memory or hard drives. If your hard drive has problems, in many cases I can recover some or all of your data. Even if your computer or laptop needs a new hard drive and Windows needs to be reinstalled, your photographs and documents can usually be recovered from your old hard drive and copied to your new one.
  • Computer clean-up/’MOT’. A complete software ‘clean-up’ is just £40 and can make your desktop PC or laptop run much faster! If it is an older computer that is really struggling then I can install more memory for you which again can really improve the performance.
  • Setting up new equipment such as printers, scanners etc and new broadband/wireless connections.

And many more issues.

Have you got a virus? A laptop that will not boot? If you are having any problem with your laptop or desktop PC, then contact me and I can help from just £20.

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Recent Web design work

It has been a very busy year for me and I have been working on a number of larger projects – hence the lack of blog posts! Here is just some of the projects I have been working on since the last update, which I think gives an idea of the range of different Web and software projects that I work on:

  • TANGO Network – A very large content managed Web site, designed to the exact specification of the client. The site is for a large European network of mathematics researchers and includes:
    • Multiple blogs, including a news page that is only accessible (and can only be updated) by members of the network
    • Access control, including a members’ only section
    • File upload and management
    • Calendars
    • Conference management facilities (registration, booking etc.)
    • The ability for people to respond to  job advertisements via the site
    • Multimedia galleries, including videos.
  • Blueprint Building Services – a custom designed content management-based site for a building company in Wrexham, North Wales. Including editable, scrolling testimonials and images.
  • A large Web application for a local business allowing clients to conduct spreadsheet facilities online. Includes single sign-on so that clients only login once to the company’s Website and can then access their individual spreadsheets. Written in PHP.

Our Web design portfolio provides examples of some of the above sites and also includes testimonials from our clients.

I have also been maintaining Websites and applications for a number of clients where they have lost touch with their previous Web designer/developer. (If you need an existing Website updating and do not have the time/skill, then contact me as I offer very reasonable rates for updating and maintaining existing Websites.)

Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what I work on and what I can help you with!

Another update soon about the computer/laptop repair work I have been doing recently.

Hope that everyone has a great Christmas and a Happy New Year from Firecrest Computing Services!

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