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Can you work from home?

May 31st, 2012

Although it is not necessarily an option you want to consider permanently, the ability to work from home on occasion can be extremely useful!  Those of us working in Central London may have already heard that there will be several ‘travel hotspots’ during the Olympic games.  With many people attending the London Olympics travelling in from the suburbs, commuters are faced with busier trains and congested stations.  To combat this, Transport for London are suggesting that employers offer either flexible hours, or the chance to work remotely.

On the condition that you have a decent internet connection at home, working remotely can be easily achieved.  Remote Desktop can allow you to work from your office computer and meetings can be easily arranged via Outlook calendar for when you return.

What can put some people off working remotely is not being able to stay in contact with the office, or more importantly not being contactable.  If you set up a VoIP phone system (Voice Over IP), you can create a phone line in your own home as an extension of your office phone.  With VoIP, you can use your home internet connection to connect with the office.  If a client calls you, they will have no idea you are working from home, this means that even when you are in your own environment you can maintain a level of professionalism.

Of course, we are forgetting the main benefit of working remotely! No hot trains, the chance to spend more time with your family and a lunch break spent sunbathing in your garden!

Argh My Internet Isn’t Working!!

May 21st, 2012

I am writing this on the assumption that your internet IS currently working!  This is intended to be an introduction to what to do when you realise your internet isn’t working!

Before you rush to your phone to call us at ITPLUS, there are several things we would ask you to check first.

1) Try closing your web browser and re-opening.

2) Turn off your computer, check all the cables are inserted correctly, turn back on.

3) Turn off your router and leave it for 30 minutes to reset.  Then turn it back on.

4) If you have other devices connected to the same internet connection, check whether or not these are able to connect.

5) If you are running wirelessly on Apple, try turning AirPort off and back on again.

If none of the above solutions help at all, please call us at ITPLUS. We can help by discussing any issues you have.  If your internet is provided by us we can help by contacting your ISP to find out if there is a registered fault on the line.

Next week I will be discussing the limitations of your ADSL connections, what to expect in terms of service level, and what happens when things go wrong!

 

How To Know When To Upgrade

May 9th, 2012

Here at ITPLUS one of the most common questions we hear is about when to upgrade a computer.  The truth is, computers are quite good at giving us gentle (or not so gentle) hints as to when they are getting a little tired.  Most of us will have experienced some, if not all of these and know how frustrating they can be.  However the joy of switching on a newly upgraded computer that works in the right way, straight away is unbeatable.

If you find yourself getting frustrated at your computer running slowly, crashing, needing to be restarted due to ‘hanging’, you are experiencing first hand the signs of a computer that is in desperate need of updating.  Perhaps programs are taking too long to load, or certain functions are not working, perhaps you are having trouble installing the programs in the first place!  Sometimes you can hear the hard drive working so hard but see very little as a result.  These are some of the ways your computer will tell you its time to upgrade.

However there are other reasons to update your machine!  Sometimes your computer may be running perfectly well but you wish to install a new piece of software.  In order to run certain programs, there is often a set of minimum system requirements, failure to update to the specified level may result in the program not functioning properly.  A perfect example of updating before there is a problem would be in the case of new operating systems.  With the release of Windows 8 just a matter of months away, it is a perfect time to prepare your computer to run it.

So what is the best way to update your computer?  The good news is, depending on the problem and depending on how old your machine is, you do not always need to start from scratch.  Some problems can be rectified simply by purchasing additional memory.  For older machines that have had very little done in a long time, it may be more cost-effective to start again.  As technology changes so quickly, things that were extremely expensive a couple of years ago have become the ‘norm’ and thus much more affordable.  Getting a quote for a brand new PC with better specifications may not be as expensive as you expect.  Here at ITPLUS we are happy to discuss what specifications you need, meaning we can create a machine that is right for you.

 

Windows 8

April 19th, 2012

As many of you may have seen, Microsoft have hinted at a release date for Windows 8 in Autumn 2012.

Windows 8 has been built around the successful Windows 7, with a faster and more reliable service.  It has enhanced features for touchscreen computers and devices, allowing developers to create apps that can be purchased from the Windows store.

This can easily be seen from the introduction of the ‘metro’ style layout.  The design is very different from any of the previous Windows Operating Systems, the use of icons immediately resembles touchscreen devices such as the windows phone or the interface for the Xbox.  The metro style is tile based, so each different tile or icon has a different application.  With the majority of people owning either a smart phone or games console, although the metro style is very different, it will not take long for users to grow accustomed to it.

In addition to this the start button is no longer displayed on the taskbar, however staying true to original operating systems, clicking on the bottom left where the start used to be will still load the start screen.  In addition to this, the consumer preview also comes with Internet Explorer 10 included.

With the new Windows 8, you are able to log in using your Windows Live ID, offering more support for its cloud service, helping you to connect with people and the multiple computers and phones you use.  This will help to streamline work and ease accessibility wherever you are.

In terms of compatibility with other software, Windows 8 is said to be compatible with most programs, and once the app store developers have had fun designing, there will be an even greater range of applications available to download.

If you cannot wait until the official release date you can download a consumer preview from the Microsoft website:

ADDING A WATERMARK TO A DOCUMENT

April 4th, 2012

Here at ITPLUS we enjoy sharing our knowledge of commonly used programs.  We believe this will help you to improve your existing skills, making your working life that little bit easier!  The topic of today is adding a watermark to a Microsoft Word document!  Adding a watermark to a document can be very useful, particularly when printing off drafts.  You can either use plain text or add a logo or other image.  This will appear across the text without altering its readability.

 

To start off you will need to be in Print Layout or Normal view in the Word document.  From the Page Layout tab click onto Watermark.  A drop down box will appear with some templates to choose from.

 

However, if you want to create your own text it is easily done by selecting Custom Watermark from the drop down box, then selecting Text Watermark.  In the space next to Text you can enter in your own text.  You will see that you can change the appearance of the text too.  Once you are happy with your choice click on OK.

 

You may prefer to add a logo or image instead of text.  Click onto Picture Watermark and then Select Picture button.

 

 

Locate the image that you want to use and double click to insert.  Keep the tick in the Washout box to ensure that the image is faded (otherwise it may obscure the text).  You can keep the scale of the image as auto or click into the scale box & set your own size.  Once you are happy with your choice click on OK.

The finished product should look like this:

To remove a watermark click on the Page Layout tab, then onto Watermark and then select Remove.

 

 

Hosted Exchange with ITPLUS

March 23rd, 2012

At ITPlus we offer Hosted Exchange, a cost-effective way for small companies (up to 4 users) to enable employees to work seamlessly and efficiently from smartphones, tablets, and computers.  Often when faced with price-plans it is easy to feel that having an on-premise Exchange server is an easier option.  However when the costs are laid down it is clear to see that the hosted model offers much better value for money.

 

Hosted Exchange with ITPLUS allows you to work across all the platforms you might use, accessing your emails, contacts and calendars.  In addition to this, Hosted Exchange with ITPLUS offers ‘real-time’ sync and ‘push’ email services for iphones and ipads, allowing you to receive the information you need as quickly as possible.  We also offer an Outlook web app for secure ‘anywhere’ access, with many plans offering a secure instant messaging system with up to 2GB of sharepoint folders.

 

The benefits of exchange hosting do not end there.  Securely backing up Outlook can be a lifesaver when things go wrong, and with some plans offering up to 2GB of Outlook backup per exchange user, you can actively take steps to protect yourself.  Exchange hosting can also offer up to 2GB of PC backup as well as offering a virus stopper and a spam stopper service thrown in for good measure.

 

Contact ITPLUS today to discuss how Hosted Exchange Server 2010 can help your business

DON’T GET CAUGHT OUT WITH AUTOFILL

March 13th, 2012

‘My email addresses have disappeared!’ 

 

This statement crops up now and again when the email Autofill stops working.

 

It’s a common misconception that the email address must be stored in your Office Contacts folder because it pops up when you start typing.  Unfortunately this is not the case.

 

A growing number of people use the Autofill feature as a contact list and then become frustrated when they try to use the addresses elsewhere only to find that they are not stored in a usable form anywhere.  This can be a problem when you are working remotely or from a smart phone.

 

Remedy:

It is very easy to add an email address to your MS Office contact list.  When you open an email just ‘right click’ on the ‘from’ address and you will see the option to ‘save to contacts’.  Select that option & save the details in the contact page that appears on the screen. Tip: ‘File as’ uses a default surname, first name format as default but you can change

Shortcut Keys

February 23rd, 2012

Using Shortcut keys

Shortcut keys can really save you time, especially when you carry out repeated actions. The more often you use shortcut keys the easier it is to remember them.

It can be so much quicker to use a few keystrokes rather than move your hand from keyboard to mouse, search for the menu & select the button for the action you want to carry out.

It’s likely that you already use some shortcut keys without giving them much thought, for example clicking on the ‘Ctrl’ key followed by the letter ‘S’ to save a document or worksheet (Ctrl S).  Or ‘Ctrl N’ to open a new sheet or workbook.

Some of these shortcut keys will work across all Microsoft programmes while others are specific to a particular programme.

It is worth trying out some of these shortcuts to see which ones suit you.

I frequently use shortcut keys and have made a list below of the ones that I have found to be most useful.

NOTE:  when describing the shortcuts the use of the + sign is to advise you what other keys you need to press. 

 

MS OFFICE SHORTCUTS (these work across all MS programmes)

Go to the “Find” dialog box: Ctrl+F
Go to the “Find and replace” dialog box: Ctrl+H
Save file: Ctrl+S
Open a file: Ctrl+O
Add a new file: Ctrl+N
Open the “Print” dialog box: Ctrl+P
Ctrl+C to Copy a selection, Ctrl+X to cut, Ctrl+V to Paste.
Save as… : The F12 key.
Applying Bold, Italic and Underline: Ctrl+B, Ctrl+I and Ctrl+U

To jump one word at a time use Ctrl+arrow key (right arrow key to go forward from the cursor one word at a time & the left arrow key to go to previous words one word at a time)

WORD SHORTCUTS

The home key will take you to the start of a row of text.

The end key will take you to the end of a row of text.

Ctrl+home will take you to the beginning of a document

Ctrl+end will take you to the end of a document.

Ctrl+z – undo last action

 

 

Formatting

 

Ctrl+r will align text to the right

Ctrl+l (default) will align text to the left

Ctrl+E will centre text

Ctrl+1 sets the paragraph to single line spacing

Ctrl+2 sets the paragraph to double line spacing

Ctrl+5 sets the paragraph to 1.5 line spacing

 

Ctrl+M will indent text by one tab stop

Ctrl+shift+M will decrease the indent by one tab stop

 

Change the case of text from lower to upper (or upper to lower, or to first letter capitals) – highlight the text you want to alter then press Shift+F3 (there are a range of F buttons at the top of the keyboard).  This is a toggle button so each time you press the shift+F3 button the selection will change.

 

 

EXCEL SHORTCUTS

Shift+SPACE  select a row
Ctrl+A highlights the entire worksheet

You can use the Ctrl+Shift then one of the direction arrows on the keyboard to select a range of cells to the top, bottom, right or left of the cursor.  This is something worth trying.

Quickly move to the next worksheet (say Sheet1 to Sheet2) by pressing Ctrl+PgDown or to go to the previous worksheet press Ctrl+PgUp

Shift+SPACE will select the whole row

Ctrl+SPACE will select the whole column

 

INSERTING ROWS, COLUMNS AND WORKSHEETS:

(to help you remember this think of the letter i’ for insert then add r for row, c for column & w for worksheet)

Insert row: Alt+i and then r
Insert a column: Alt+i and then c
Insert new Worksheet: Alt+i and then w

The default settings will insert the new row above the row where you have your cursor & the new column to the left.

Moving to specific locations in the worksheet:

Ctrl+Home will place your cursor in cell A1

 

Ctrl+End will place your cursor in the last cell of your data in the worksheet (the most bottom-right cell).

 

To go to a specific cell press Ctrl+G, and enter in the destination cell’s address. For example: C5

Editing text:

Press Alt+Enter when writing text in a cell, to add a line break inside the cell.

Auto sum function:
Position the active cell underneath a column of numbers, and press Alt+= you can highlight the range of cells that you want to include in the sum.

 

 

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