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Five ways to fix a smashed smart phone screen

March 30, 2015 by John McGarvey
Smashed iPhone{{}}
Photo: ymgerman / Shutterstock.com

With their slippery casings and svelte dimensions, smart phones are easy to drop. Given that we often use them while we’re hurrying from place to place, it’s no surprise they get broken now and then. One survey suggests that a quarter of all iPhones have smashed screens

So, what’s the best way to get your broken smart phone screen repaired?

1. Call your insurance company

Your business mobile phones are probably insured, and that insurance may include cover for accidental damage. If so, you can get your insurance company to fix the screen for you.

Before making a claim, check the consequences. Do you have to pay an excess fee? Will it affect the cost of renewing your insurance? If so, you might be best off fixing your phone in some other way.

2. Send it back to the manufacturer

Most smart phone manufacturers offer a repair service to fix smashed screens. You’ll probably have to send your phone off to a central repair centre or leave it at a shop for a few days.

You can be confident of getting a high-quality repair that’s been made using official components. You’ll probably get a good warranty on the work, too – but it might cost more than going to an unofficial repairer. For instance, Apple charges start from £86.

3. Take it to a local shop

You’ll find independent shops offering smart phone repairs in most UK towns and cities. They can often replace a smashed phone screen on the spot, as long as they have the parts in stock.

Local repair shops usually offer excellent value. For instance, you might be able to get your smashed screen replaced for £30 - £50. The quality of repairs can vary though, so try and get recommendations or search online for reviews.

4. Have them come to you

Some repair companies will come and fix your phone’s smashed screen at your premises, so you don’t have to take time out of your day. Your regular IT support company may offer this service (or know a place that does).

Alternatively, companies like iMend will give you a guaranteed repair price online, then let you arrange a convenient time for the repair to take place at your premises.

5. Fix your phone’s screen yourself

If you’re feeling confident and have a steady pair of hands, it is possible to replace a smashed smart phone screen yourself. As you’d expect, this is the cheapest option – as long as nothing goes wrong.

Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Check for repair guides online (iFixit is a great source) and make sure you know what parts you need to buy. You can usually find these on Amazon, eBay and from other online retailers.

Prevention is better than cure

Of course, it’s generally best to avoid smashing your phone’s screen in the first place. A good case or cover can make your phone less slippery to hold, and offer some protection should it fall to the ground.

Finally, if you want to minimise disruption caused by lost of broken phones in your business, keep a spare handset on hand. It doesn’t need to be the very latest model — but next time you upgrade, put the old phone somewhere safe.

More on this topic:

IT for Donuts: work with tabs in Google Chrome

March 25, 2015 by John McGarvey

IT for Donuts is our regular feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This time round, we take a look at how to use tabs in Google Chrome.

How to move individual tabs

If you’re anything like the IT Donut team, by the end of the working day your web browser may have lots of open tabs, each showing a website you’ve been using during your work.

Tabs can quickly get out of hand, but it’s easy to move them into a logical order. Just move your mouse pointer over a tab, then click and hold to drag the tab to a new location.

Move several tabs at once

You can also reposition several tabs in one go. To select the tabs you want to move, hold the CTRL key on your keyboard and then click each tab in turn.

To move all the tabs together, keep holding CTRL, hold the mouse button and then drag. You should see them move in one go.

If you use a Mac, the instructions are the same, but you need to hold CMD instead of CTRL.

Drag an item to a new tab

Google Chrome is pretty good at guessing what to do when you drag an item to a new tab.

For instance, if you select some text on a website, you can drag it to a new tab. Chrome will then search for that tab in your default search engine.

Here’s an example for you:

Animation of dragging text to a new tab{{}}And if you do the same with an image, the image will open by itself in a new tab.

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Are you part of the ‘tech nation’?

March 23, 2015 by John McGarvey
Street mural{{}}
Photo: AC Manley / Shutterstock.com

Digital pioneer Tim Berners-Lee created the world’s first website back in 1991. And for many years, the internet remained the domain of geeks and hobbyists. Back then, it was hard to believe that the internet would become a vital part of the UK economy

But today, the digital economy is huge. New research from Tech City UK suggests that, in the UK, over 1.46m people are employed in digital businesses and 45,000 digital jobs are being advertised at any given time.

What’s more, the report says that employment in digital jobs is set to jump 5.4% by 2020m ensuring digital businesses form a bigger proportion of the UK economy as a whole.

Digital businesses aren’t just in London

Whenever the digital economy hits the news, there’s a tendency to focus on ‘Silicon Roundabout’ in London. Situated in the east of the capital, the past decade has seen digital and web-based businesses flock to this area.

As you’d expect, the Tech Nation Report reveals that London has more digital businesses than any other town or city in the UK. However, the vast majority (74%) of digital businesses are based outside the capital.

Clusters of digital businesses are spread right across the UK, from Dundee and Glasgow to Cardiff, Bristol and Reading. About half have been formed since 2008 and 15% of all UK companies founded in 2013-14 were digital.

In short: the digital boom isn’t just a London thing. It’s happening across the country and it’s creating opportunities as it disrupts traditional sectors.

Digital businesses are small businesses

Given that digital companies tend to be younger than your average business, it’s no real surprise that they also tend to be smaller companies.

In fact, the research found that 98% of UK digital firms are classed as small businesses (although the definition of a ‘small business’ is hard to pin down from the report).

Indeed, it’s often claimed that digital tools have the ability to level the playing field, enabling tiny companies to compete with big ones.

Innovations like cloud computing, selling online and location services can make it easier for small companies to do more with less.

The future of digital business

So, the digital economy is in rude health then, right?

Well, yes, probably. Although some pundits do speculate that we’re creating another tech bubble of the type that led to the dotcom crash of 2000, there’s a big difference. Digital businesses are bringing in real revenue, as well as spending money.

Sure, there’s going to be some consolidation over the next few years. For instance, how many online laundry companies does London really need?

But when you look at online shopping habits, smart phone ownership, social media use or practically any other indicator, it’s clear we’re all spending more time online than ever before. Digital will have its ups and downs, but its here to stay.

Perhaps the day is approaching where the digital economy is just the economy. And perhaps every business will be a digital business.

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Will there ever be a credible alternative to Microsoft Office?

March 13, 2015 by John McGarvey

Microsoft Office logo{{}}

Image: Gil C / Shutterstock.com

The world of business software has changed a lot during the past few years. Traditional ‘pay once, use it forever’ software is increasingly being replaced by cloud services that charge a monthly fee

These online services offer flexibility and allow companies to spread the cost of their software over a longer period. And although there can be concerns around security, they’re proving popular, particularly with smaller companies that struggle to manage traditional software.

Although the cloud has disrupted the software market in areas like accounting, customer relationship management and backups, it has had a limited impact in the area of office software.

Here, one package has reigned supreme for decades.

The enduring appeal of Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office - which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other common packages - is still the only office suite that most businesses consider using.

Sure, it offers far more features than most of us need and has undergone some controversial changes over the years. But it’s hard to imagine the world of business without Microsoft Office: the de facto standard for getting the job done.

Indeed, Microsoft now sells Office on a subscription basis and offers a cloud version so you can work on your documents from any computer.

A serious challenge to Microsoft Office?

Although free office suites like OpenOffice and LibreOffice might be capable, they’ve failed to set the world on fire. But could Google be about to mount a serious challenge to Microsoft’s dominance?

Around ten years ago it launched Google Docs. This cloud software offered basic tools for working with spreadsheets, writing documents and so on. It wasn’t a serious rival to Office, but it signalled Google’s desire to enter this market.

A decade on and things look somewhat different. Constant development has resulted in a set of powerful services that offer most of the features required by the average office worker.

What’s more, because these services all work online, Google has been collecting data on how people actually use them. It says this has helped it focus on developing features people actually want.

The package is now called Google Apps for Work. It includes a wide range of business tools and some pundits think it’s mature enough to pose a credible challenge to Microsoft Office.

To encourage companies to try these services, Google claims they can work seamlessly with Microsoft Office documents. What’s more, the company doesn’t expect businesses to switch overnight.

Instead, it thinks companies should use the two systems in parallel, then gradually phase out Office for employees who don’t use its vast range of features.

Interesting times ahead

So, should you be thinking about switching to Google Apps for Work?

Well, perhaps not immediately. But next time you’re due to update your company computers or plan to make a significant investment in business technology, it might merit serious consideration.

Finally, Office is important to Microsoft. It accounts for around a quarter of the company’s enormous revenues.

Any threat to Office is a threat to Microsoft itself, so there’s no way the software giant is going to stand by and watch a serious competitor move into this market.

And that means that the next couple of years are going to be interesting for the office tools we use every day. We have more choice than we’ve had for a long time - and maybe this increased competition will spark innovation in how these tools help us get things done.

IT for Donuts: Use the power of the shift key

March 02, 2015 by John McGarvey

Shift key{{}}IT for Donuts is our regular feature where we explain a tech term or answer a question about business IT.

This time round, we reveal the secrets of the shift key. If you only ever use it to add UPPER CASE LETTERS to your text then you’re missing out on its full power. Read on to learn more.

Learn keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a powerful way to be more efficient with your computer.

We’ve covered many of the most common and useful keyboard shortcuts before, and would highly recommend you start using them:

Once you get the hang of keyboard shortcuts, they become second nature and really speed up your work.

Where the shift key fits in

The shift key is a common ‘modifier’ for keyboard shortcuts. That means that if you hold it down while using a common shortcut, that shortcut will behave in a different way.

Most often, the shift key reverses an action on the screen. Here are some ways you can use it.

These shortcuts all work with recent versions of Windows. Most of them will work on Macs, too:

  • When you’re viewing a web page, hitting the Space bar will scroll you down the page. Hit shift + space to scroll up instead.
  • You can scroll through open applications by holding the alt key and tapping tab. Hold shift at the same time to scroll the other way.
  • The tab key can also be used to move you down through an online form. Use shift + tab to go back up through the form.
  • You can hit the Windows key and M to minimise all open windows. Want to see them again? Hit Windows + M + shift.

Next time you’re messing around with your keyboard, try the shift key. It has more powers than you might have thought.

Previous IT for Donuts tips:

Hosting for the 'Kate effect'

February 24, 2015 by IT Donut contributor
Duchess of Cambridge{{}}

Could she really bring down your website?
Image: Shaun Jeffers / Shutterstock.com

When the Duchess of Cambridge stepped out in a £450 navy ‘Naomi’ shift dress made by Madderson London this year, yet another small British business fell victim to the ‘Kate effect’.

Madderson was totally unprepared for the resulting rush of visitors to its website. As a result, it went offline.

As a UK provider of web hosting services, this is frustrating to hear. There’s no excuse for websites being unable to handle traffic.

Cloud computing was designed for just this kind of scenario: the ability to scale resources up and down based on demand.

Although it would have been risky for Madderson to bring in extra stock just in case the Duchess wore the dress in public, it could have capitalised on the interest if the website had stayed available. Visitors would have been able to explore the company’s range and order products from it.

If you want to avoid the ‘Kate effect’, here are six things to look for in a hosting package.

1. UK data centres

More than ever, the location of your web host is important to the performance and security of your website.

You want people to find you, and choosing a UK hosting provider may make your website more likely to rank well when people search on Google’s UK website.

Find a genuine British company that does not outsource its servers or staff.

2. A good all-round package

When you’re running a small business, money can be tight. It’s easy to choose the cheapest hosting package, but do you really know what you’ll get for your money?

Check all the usual things: customer support, apps and resources, reliability and uptime — and the location of the web host. You want a solid all-round package.

Be wary of being persuaded to spend a lot on the off-chance the ‘Kate effect’ might happen to your business. There’s no point wasting money on resources you don’t need or use.

With cloud hosting you pay just for the resources you use. When you no longer need them, you are no longer charged for them.

3. UK support, round the clock

When things do go wrong you want to be able to speak with trained professionals, and you want to be able to get hold of them.

You can’t put enough value on being able to access great technical support at any time.

Choose a web host that is upfront about its support level. Check its service level agreement (SLA) for guaranteed uptime and search social media for reviews and opinions of that provider.

4. Active monitoring

Some web hosting providers (including Memset, the company I work for) offer services to monitor the availability and performance of your website.

This helps to identify and address issues - like a spike in traffic – quickly.

5. Instant scalability

One of the main advantages of cloud hosting is its scalability. Unlike other hosting, cloud hosting is designed to scale up instantly when demand peaks.

This can save you a lot of stress. It can even bring you extra customers, because there isn’t a moment when your site is unavailable.

6. Backup and disaster recovery

Every business should be performing regular website backups and have a disaster recovery plan.

As cloud storage is cheap, you can probably afford to hold a separate, mirrored copy of your website with another provider. If disaster strikes, you can switch over and carry on as normal.

The ‘Kate effect’ is very real. But if you choose sensibly, you can protect your business from without spending a fortune on your web hosting.

 

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