Monthly Archives: July 2015

Einsteins a lovely little thinker –

Einstein’s Secret to Amazing Problem Solving (and 10 Specific Ways You Can Use It)

 Einstein's Secret to Jaw-Dropping Problem Solving

I have always had a soft spot for Einstein. He died at exactly the same time I was born and unknowingly, until recently,  I have been using his quotes all my life. That is sadly where our similarities end, Did I also ever tell you that I quote Sherlock Holmes too…………….

Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.

This quote does illustrate an important point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it. Here are 10 strategies you can use to see problems from many different perspectives and master what is the most important step in problem solving: clearly defining the problem in the first place!

The Problem Is To Know What the Problem Is

The definition of the problem will be the focal point of all your problem-solving efforts. As such, it makes sense to devote as much attention and dedication to problem definition as possible. What usually happens is that as soon as we have a problem to work on we’re so eager to get to solutions that we neglect spending any time refining it.

What most of us don’t realise — and what supposedly Einstein might have been alluding to — is that the quality of the solutions we come up with will be in direct proportion to the quality of the description of the problem we’re trying to solve. Not only will your solutions be more abundant and of higher quality, but they’ll be achieved much, much more easily. Most importantly, you’ll have the confidence to be tackling a worthwhile problem.

Problem Definition Tools and Strategies

The good news is that getting different perspectives and angles in order to clearly define a problem is a skill that can be learned and developed. As such, there are many strategies you can use to perfect it. Here are the 10 most effective ones I know.

1. Rephrase the Problem
When a Toyota executive asked employees to brainstorm “ways to increase their productivity”, all he got back were blank stares. When he rephrased his request as “ways to make their jobs easier”, he could barely keep up with the amount of suggestions.

Words carry strong implicit meaning and, as such, play a major role in how we perceive a problem. In the example above, ‘be productive’ might seem like a sacrifice you’re doing for the company, while ‘make your job easier’ may be more like something you’re doing for your own benefit, but from which the company also benefits. In the end, the problem is still the same, but the feelings — and the points of view — associated with each of them are vastly different.
Play freely with the problem statement, rewording it several times. For a methodic approach, take single words and substitute variations. ‘Increase sales’? Try replacing ‘increase’ with ‘attract’, ‘develop’, ‘extend’, ‘repeat’ and see how your perception of the problem changes. A rich vocabulary plays an important role here, so you may want to use a thesaurus or develop your vocabulary.

2. Expose and Challenge Assumptions

Every problem — no matter how apparently simple it may be — comes with a long list of assumptions attached. Many of these assumptions may be inaccurate and could make your problem statement inadequate or even misguided.

The first step to get rid of bad assumptions is to make them explicit. Write a list and expose as many assumptions as you can — especially those that may seem the most obvious and ‘untouchable’.

That, in itself, brings more clarity to the problem at hand. But go further and test each assumption for validity: think in ways that they might not be valid and their consequences. What you will find may surprise you: that many of those bad assumptions are self-imposed — with just a bit of scrutiny you are able to safely drop them.

For example, suppose you’re about to enter the restaurant business. One of your assumptions might be ‘restaurants have a menu’. While such an assumption may seem true at first, try challenging it and maybe you’ll find some very interesting business models (such as one restaurant in which customers bring dish ideas for the chef to cook, for example).

3. Chunk Up

Each problem is a small piece of a greater problem. In the same way that you can explore a problem laterally — such as by playing with words or challenging assumptions — you can also explore it at different “altitudes”.

If you feel you’re overwhelmed with details or looking at a problem too narrowly, look at it from a more general perspective. In order to make your problem more general, ask questions such as: “What’s this a part of?”, “What’s this an example of?” or “What’s the intention behind this?”.

Another approach that helps a lot in getting a more general view of a problem is replacing words in the problem statement with hypernyms. Hypernyms are words that have a broader meaning than the given word. (For example, a hypernym of ‘car’ is ‘vehicle’). A great, free tool for finding hypernyms for a given word is WordNet (just search for a word and click on the ‘S:’ label before the word definitions).

4. Chunk Down

If each problem is part of a greater problem, it also means that each problem is composed of many smaller problems. It turns out that decomposing a problem in many smaller problems — each of them more specific than the original — can also provide greater insights about it.
‘Chunking the problem down’ (making it more specific) is especially useful if you find the problem overwhelming or daunting.
Some of the typical questions you can ask to make a problem more specific are: “What are parts of this?” or “What are examples of this?”.

Just as in ‘chunking up’, word substitution can also come to great use here. The class of words that are useful here are hyponyms: words that are stricter in meaning than the given one. (E.g. two hyponyms of ‘car’ are ‘minivan’ and ‘limousine’). WordNet can also help you finding hyponyms.

5. Find Multiple Perspectives

Before rushing to solve a problem, always make sure you look at it from different perspectives. Looking at it with different eyes is a great way to have instant insight on new, overlooked directions.

For example, if you own a business and are trying to ‘increase sales’, try to view this problem from the point of view of, say, a customer. For example, from the customer’s viewpoint, this may be a matter of adding features to your product that one would be willing to pay more for.

Rewrite your problem statement many times, each time using one of these different perspectives. How would your competition see this problem? Your employees? Your mom?

Also, imagine how people in various roles would frame the problem. How would a politician see it? A college professor? A nun? Try to find the differences and similarities on how the different roles would deal with your problem.

6. Use Effective Language Constructs

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for properly crafting the perfect problem statement, but there are some language constructs that always help making it more effective:

Assume a myriad of solutions. An excellent way to start a problem statement is: “In what ways might I…”. This expression is much superior to “How can I…” as it hints that there’s a multitude of solutions, and not just one — or maybe none. As simple as this sounds, the feeling of expectancy helps your brain find solutions. Make it positive. Negative sentences require a lot more cognitive power to process and may slow you down — or even derail your train of thought. Positive statements also help you find the real goal behind the problem and, as such, are much more motivating.
For example: instead of finding ways to ‘quit smoking’, you may find that ‘increase your energy’, ‘live longer’ and others are much more worthwhile goals.Frame your problem in the form of a question. Our brain loves questions. If the question is powerful and engaging, our brains will do everything within their reach to answer it. We just can’t help it: Our brains will start working on the problem immediately and keep working in the background, even when we’re not aware of it.
If you’re still stuck, consider using the following formula for phrasing your problem statement:

“In what ways (action) (object) (qualifier) (end result)?”
Example: In what ways might I package (action) my book (object) more attractively (qualifier) so people will buy more of it (end result)?

7. Make It Engaging

In addition to using effective language constructs, it’s important to come up with a problem statement that truly excites you so you’re in the best frame of mind for creatively tackling the problem. If the problem looks too dull for you, invest the time adding vigor to it while still keeping it genuine. Make it enticing. Your brain will thank (and reward) you later.
One thing is to ‘increase sales’ (boring), another one is ‘wow your customers’. One thing is ‘to create a personal development blog’, another completely different is to ‘empower readers to live fully’.

8. Reverse the Problem

One trick that usually helps when you’re stuck with a problem is turning it on its head.

If you want to win, find out what would make you lose. If you are struggling finding ways to ‘increase sales’, find ways to decrease them instead. Then, all you need to do is reverse your answers. ‘Make more sales calls’ may seem an evident way of increasing sales, but sometimes we only see these ‘obvious’ answers when we look at the problem from an opposite direction.

This seemingly convoluted method may not seem intuitive at first, but turning a problem on its head can uncover rather obvious solutions to the original problem.

9. Gather Facts
Investigate causes and circumstances of the problem. Probe details about it — such as its origins and causes. Especially if you have a problem that’s too vague, investigating facts is usually more productive than trying to solve it right away.

If, for example, the problem stated by your spouse is “You never listen to me”, the solution is not obvious. However, if the statement is “You don’t make enough eye contact when I’m talking to you,” then the solution is obvious and you can skip brainstorming altogether. (You’ll still need to work on the implementation, though!)

Ask yourself questions about the problem. What is not known about it? Can you draw a diagram of the problem? What are the problem boundaries? Be curious. Ask questions and gather facts. It is said that a well-defined problem is halfway to being solved: I would add that a perfectly-defined problem is not a problem anymore.

10. Problem-Solve Your Problem Statement

I know I risk getting into an infinite loop here, but as you may have noticed, getting the right perspective of a problem is, well, a problem in itself. As such, feel free to use any creative thinking technique you know to help. There are plenty to choose from:
Of course, how much effort you invest in defining the problem in contrast to how much effort you invest in solving your actual problem is a hard balance to achieve, though one which is attainable with practice.

Personally, I don’t think that 55 minutes of defining a problem versus 5 minutes acting on it is usually a good proportion. The point is that we must be aware of how important problem defining is and correct our tendency to spend too little time on it.

In fact, when you start paying more attention to how you define your problems, you’ll probably find that it is usually much harder than solving them. But you’ll also find that the payoff is well worth the effort.

Being popular helps mask your mistakes

Google may be seen as top of its game but it has launched some real failures too.

I was having a discussion about us Brits, how we always knock success and act with jealousy, I told the story that in the US someone going past in a swanky car would get the “Next year that’ll be me” comment but in the UK its “Why does a Ba****d like that get such a swanky car, and not me, that’s not fair”.

We just have a different view on life and don’t accept that’s a. its not fair and b. you have to work for success. Maybe that’s why we have such a poor youth employment record compared to other countries.

So this got me thinking, there is usually a love hate with Brands, at the moment everyone has a go at Blackberry and Microsoft, years ago it was IBM and Lotus, now Apple and Google can do no wrong – or can thay?

Everyone loves Google, except for those pesky funny looking street view cars a few years ago but do you realise that Goggle has had many failures along the way?

1. Google Answers

Google Answers was Google’s marketplace for knowledge. Users posted a question and the amount they were willing to pay for an answer, and then researchers would answer the question. The community was too small and the service could never compete with Yahoo’s answers service.

2. Google Buzzbuzz

Google Buzz was a social platform for sharing content that was incorporated into Gmail. Buzz met heavy criticism and raised numerous privacy issues among users. It was discontinued in December 2011.

3. Google Latitude

googlelatitudeGoogle Latitude was a location-based app that allowed users to find some of their Gmail contacts by proximity. It failed mostly because it was creepy.

4. Nexus Q

nexusThe Nexus Q was Google’s multimedia player challenge to the Apple TV. The problem was that the product was $300 and it didn’t really do much. At least it looked cool.

5. Google Wave


Google Wave was a classic case of “over promise, under deliver.” Google touted it in glowing terms at launch, but it never really lived up to the hype. The product was confusing and it didn’t really have a clear value proposition.

6. Google TV

Google TV was a smart TV platform launched in 2010. The implementation was clumsy and the products were not well-received. It’s rumoured that Google TV could be re branded as Android TV.

7. iGoogle


iGoogle allowed users to created a customisable homepage with widgets such as weather and content feeds. The company initially announced they would migrate the social features in 2012.

“With our new focus on Google+, we will remove iGoogle’s social features on January 15, 2012. iGoogle itself, and non-social iGoogle applications, will stay as they are,” said Bradley Horowitz, then vice president of product.

As it turns out, the other features weren’t all that useful so Google canned iGoogle in November 2013

8. Knol


This one I don’t even remember, Knol was Google’s challenge to Wikipedia. The site was plagued by plagiarism and poor sourcing, which ultimately led to its demise. Also, the concept of monetising knowledge was too strange

9. Web Accelwebaccelerator2erator

We disliked this when it arrived and we still don’t like Google Toolbars. Web Accelerator was a proxy server that sped up web surfing times by caching certain types of info. There were some privacy concerns and the product was buggy. It even kept users from watching YouTube videos

10. Lively

Another Google barely known. Lively was Google’s online 3D universe, similar to Second Life. Lively was too complex and didn’t offer enough customisation for users. It was barely six months old when Google killed it.

11. Google Print Ads


Yep, at one point Google started producing print ads in nearly 800 newspapers. It was Google running backwards and the revenue just wasn’t there.

12. Google Building Maker


Google Building Maker allowed users to make 3D models of buildings to be used in conjunction with Google Earth. Building Maker was too ambitious of a project and a community never developed around it, so the service was retired in 2013

There you have it, Googles lemons, or turkeys if you prefer. Every brand does it at least once, they might be good ideas but if the support form the user or buyer is not there then it will flop. Did I tell you that the IBM PS/2 was a brilliant computer concept, well it was and its architecture is still in use today in Mainframes. IBM went about selling them in such a way that they demonstrated that they couldn’t market free beer.

It always happens to someone else, doesn’t it?

Cancer, Car accidents, hacking, card fraud all have a lot in common – Theyeggccident-3-32933-m only happen to other people, not you. Is this arrogance, ignorance or what?

Everyone knows someone that something bad has happened to, if not then themselves, then someone close, or a friend, or a friend of a friend, maybe somebody in the same village or town even somebody living in a faraway country but in similar circumstances.

So in a word Sh*t happens, a lot, to everyone all the time so it can never be ignorance.  Maybe the alternative to “it’ll never happen to me” is a permanent fear that something is going to happen which is bordering on the symptoms of depression.

So if appers that we go around with an optimistic view on life to avoid the permenant worry of what’s going to happen next.  That’s fine as it enables us to lead a normal life of driving, shopping, flying kindly of the things we do on a day to day basis.

That’s really bad news, we need to establish some form of balance unfortunately we don’t.  The anytime we do this is when we plan for emergencies that are unlikely to happen.  When we go on holiday we take offense take a first aid kit and no one really leaves without insurance.  I even know someone who drains down the heating system when they go away, which is usually in the summer.

It’s the same thing that suddenly wakes us up at four in the morning and gets us to worry what speed we went past that little yellow camera on the side of the road.

All of these things do not really need to be worried about because although they do happen the chance of us facing a disaster like we have imagined is unlikely.

It’s also guaranteed that it won’t happen because we have planned what we would do in case of an emergency.  I sail in all types of boats, I wear life jackets, make sure that there is manoverboard equipment, first aid kits etc.  Luckily I have never had to use this equipment and I hope I never will.

Now the point of this article is that the things that almost likely to happen, in fact happen every day to lots of people are so far down their list of priorities that no thought is at a given to them even on a  yearly basis.

Your building is unusable – KEEP OUT
The day of the 1987 storm I went to work as usual, I didn’t expect anything different nobody had called and apart from losing the side of my house, the large amount of trees I expected to roll up at our Colchester office and start work as usual.

What I didn’t expect was to see 36 people standing outside staring of the site of the building.  The whole side which was made of glass had been totally removed by the next door factory roof.  We had asbestos and glass all over 50% of the building.  In my office the carpet was ruined, the wall and door had glass embedded in it.  The computer screen was smashed and as it turned out all of are servers were destroyed.  “It” had just happened to us.

All backups were off site, we had spare equipment, another office and we were up and running again later that day.

We had a plan.
We had actually spent some time compiling everything we needed to implement a disaster  plan.  We started from the premis that we would arrive at the very large hole which was water filled that now replaced our 6,800 sq foot office building in south Colchester, we prepare the same plan for Ipswich.

We went around everybody in the company announced what they would need to be operational again, this was incorporated into the plan and tasks were delegated.  We looked at everything, wrote it all up and circulated plenty of copies.  Apart from the daily routine of data backup the plan was forgotten except when it came out to be reviewed once a year during a meeting of everyone, usually down the pub ensuring 100% attendance.

We had confidence that should a disaster strike we had done as much as possible.  Backups were tested and we had established a routine.

That disaster cost us nothing, not a bean, no cash flow interruption, no lost data and we were able on the same day to go out and look after clients who had faced thier own disasters.

We get 250 calls a year over lost data 
We get roughly one call a day from someone who has lost their  data, that’s over 250 calls a year. We have special software that can unscramble disk drives. No one else we know does this.

Only a fraction of the callers, as low as 2%, has an adequate backup.  Most of them think may have but they haven’t.  I suspect that that only 2% of all the people who start reading this article will get this far.  If you have then I am personally available to come to you and check your backup. Free of charge. That’s to prove my point. I will publish the results in a months time of who has taken me up on this my number is 01206 256459 or 01473 231800 ask for extension 25 and I will talk to if I am in, if not I’ll ring you back as soon as I can.

Doesn’t have to be a big disaster, or even one you can see, you can have a virus, a hacking or fraud attempt. These can cost you so much more and in a shorter time. The difference is you may not know about it until its too late.

The moral is?
Its not down to arrogance, its all down to ignorance and ignorance especially about planning. I was once told “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, that’s a military adage. here’s another “Proper Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance” and my particular favourite, Lack of preparation on your behalf does not justify an emergency on mine”. When bad things happen we react, its better to have the cool judgement of a previous “you” telling you what to do than the “panic you” running round in ever decreasing circles doing headless chicken impressions as you hard built up business disappears into dust & debt.

The moral is that everyone needs a plan, needs to check it and make sure it works. Our clients may not know it but we have a disaster plan for them too.  We have loan equipment and the expertise to get them up and running as quickly as possible.

This will all be useless unless the backups are good enough, they have the proper insurance policy and the ability to start up again somewhere else almost immediately.

Oh I forgot, its what happens to other people isn’t it? Like the people flooded in  Wales, Someset, London and the riots in Croydon, Brixton, Toxteth.

Windows XP – NOTHING HAPPENED but you havent seen anything yet


– but what about the rest ?

XP went end of life about a year ago and so far not one vulnerability has hit the headlines, so far. I don’t think its a priority for any ne’er-do-well. There are much better pickings to be had from other software that went end of life but without all the fanfares.

This is the official line from Microsoft:

Microsoft will offer a minimum of 10 years of support for Business and Developer products. Mainstream Support for Business and Developer products will be provided for 5 years or for 2 years after the successor product (N+1) is released, whichever is longer. Microsoft will also provide Extended Support for the 5 years following Mainstream support or for 2 years after the second successor product (N+2) is released, whichever is longer. Finally, most Business and Developer products will receive at least 10 years of online self-help support

Believe it or not there were several products that went End of Support in 2010 but there were no news articles about that. That’s because its not as interesting but it is more worrying. These products went end of support in 2010, which is the same for all the products we are talking about here today.
Server 2003
Server software is the least considered but the most important in any network environment. Ignoring all the tasks such as email, print and file serving what does it do?

The server is responsible for users and their security, crack the server and you have everything and it has always been the target for “Quality hackers”. All your data and emails are here so get in and the world is your oyster.

Every user should have a password and this is your first defence but in Server 2003 there was one user that was Automatic. That’s the Administrator account, armed with this and some password guessing software and you are in.
The server has several holes that are accessible and to use these all you need to know is the protocol, username and password. Seems pretty tight doesn’t it? You need four pieces of information. Well I have news for you. Nearly every server 2003 has hole number 3389 open, the protocol is RDP and Server 2003 has the username of Administrator, that’s three out of four now known to hackers and that’s the easy way in.

The server also manages the firewall and all the security, so if there are vulnerabilities, and there will be, XP was patched a few days ago for one last time ands it sorted out three on a system 12 years old.

Really if you haven’t replaced Sever 2003 by now you should be seriously well on the way to planning it, but its not that simple as the licencing costs for small business has gone through the roof to force you on to the cloud where Microsoft will squeeze three times as much money out of you over five years.

Office 2003
This is not as critical as XP or Server as it does not connect directly to the internet all the time Although that’s not strictly true, Outlook can get to emails and as it can run scripts it could be a target but I doubt it. Word and Excel also do internet searches but again its not that critical but its a good idea to upgrade as what you can do, and how you do it has changed a great deal.

Exchange 2003
This is quite critical as exchange handles your email out and in and has a whole set of things that can be exploited. If anything we would have advised clients to upgrade this as a higher priority than XP.

Its hard to be specific about the threats as we are not trying to exploit any vulnerabilities and the first we will know of them is when there starts to be large scale compromising of systems and plenty of breaches of security.

So our advice is that you wouldn’t use an out of date medicine so why risk your business health by taking chances?

Too  many business are worried about having the latest car or gadget rather than caring about what matters

5 things you didnt know about cloud backup

Charlatans5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cloud Backup

We at cmx come across as anti-cloud, we are not, but what we are against is that new breed of IT salesman which we called the “the charlatan”.

According to that fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia; A charlatan (also called swindler or mountebank) is a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception.

Perfect description; the word comes from French charlatan, a seller of medicines who might advertise his presence with music and an outdoor stage show –

This sums them up exactly but we do not and cannot imply reverse logic that all cloud sales people are charlatans. I speak of those who sell a very good product, for the right circumstances to the people who need it. I consider these as professional friends and I will be happy to recommend tyhem and introduce you to them.

The ones I speak of are those that in former lives sold double, glazing, PPI insurance, Cavity wall insulation, endowment mortgages and extended warranties, these are the guys who can spot an opportunistic bandwagon to leap on to make money on commission.
These are the guys we have a problem with and its to counter them that cmx appears to have adopted the anti cloud view. We are not anti-cloud, we are anti-charlatan. So we will carry on with the warnings.

1. Data privacy can easily be compromised by encryption key holders.

If your service provider has access to your encryption keys, your data is just not private.
Encryption is vital to data protection and most backup solutions offer it. However, encryption is not always a guarantee of security and privacy of business data. After all, if an employee at your data backup company can access your encryption keys, is your data truly secure?
Some service providers have responded to this concern by purporting to “” the key, saving it separately from data, and rotating it frequently. But no matter the steps taken, as long as the service provider has access to your encryption keys, your data is just not private. And a subpoena will force service providers to produce unencrypted customer data – even when encryption keys have been escrowed.

Another response to securing encryption keys has been to use an onsite server, behind the client’ firewall, to house encryption keys in order to guarantee sole ownership. However, this is not a true solution for cloud-based backups since there is still hardware to manage and maintain, defeating the purpose of cloud services. Additionally, an onsite server adds another point of potential failure, requiring additional data protection.

If your service provider has access to your encryption keys, your data is just not private

For maximum privacy, two-factor encryption key management is the recommended solution. With two-factor encryption key management, the encryption key is further encrypted using customer admin credentials, and only a token is stored in the cloud. With this solution, the service provider has zero access to encryption keys and customers avoid the hassle of supporting key servers on-premises.

Only customers have access to the key and, subsequently, their data, once authenticated.
And to truly guarantee privacy, the key is destroyed at the end of each customer session.

2. Choosing the wrong cloud could mean permanent data loss.

Of course, most of ” cloud” actually exists at ground-level, supported by many connected servers and other devices which require electricity and protection from the elements. As much as dependability of data centers has increased over time, these server farms are still vulnerable to power outages, sabotage, and natural disaster.

This is why it’ important to understand the Service Level Agreements for any backup providers under consideration. Many cloud service providers don’ offer data redundancy across multiple data centers. In the event of a power supply disruption, service is suddenly unavailable and files are out of reach until the problem is corrected. A natural disaster, such as a flood, could even result in permanent loss of your critical corporate data.

Leading service providers offer data redundancy across multiple facilities, each of which is physically separate, located in lower risk flood plains and fed via distinct grids from independent utilities. These facilities are connected to different networks to ensure the
highest data availability and durability possible.

3. Local cloud backups can violate data residency laws.

Traditionally, cloud backup providers have employed a limited number of data centers
and housed those data centers within the borders of a single country. Adding Many cloud service providers don’t offer data redundancy across multiple data centers.
Server farms are still vulnerable to power outages, sabotage, and natural disaster.
5 Things You Didn’ Know About Cloud Backup storage typically requires following a multi-step process, often cumbersome and not immediate.
If your business has global reach, these localized backup providers are simply unable to offer a premium, worry-free experience. By definition, a global enterprise supports internal systems which are utilized by employees and other users all over the world, subjecting the enterprise to a specific set of laws in each country. Using localized cloud backup providers from a single country is not only inefficient but, in many cases, it results in a violation of local
data residency laws.

By contrast, leading cloud backup providers are equipped with multiple redundant data centers across the globe, enabling customers to control which data centers are used for their data backups. Leading providers also utilize an ” storage” concept, enabling customers to add storage instantly in any data center without having to worry about scaling their storage requirements.

4. Without deduplication, your backup speed is a fraction of what it could be.

One of the reasons traditional cloud backup systems can be very slow is that the software must compare the last file and directory structure with the latest file and directory structure in order to determine what’ changed. Unfortunately, as much as 80 percent of data is duplicated across a typical enterprise. This is because users often have multiple copies of an identical file stored locally, as well as on shared or removable drives. This causes storage requirements to boom, considerably slowing cloud data transfer.

When backup solutions practice global deduplication, cloud backup and restore times are dramatically improved because an enormous amount of duplicate data has been identified and removed.

To perform enterprise restores quickly, a backup solution must also use multi-threaded restores in order to allow parallel transfers of multiple files. Using multi-threaded restoration significantly accelerates the time it takes to restore data to a user’ computer.

Traditional cloud backup systems without global deduplication can be very slow. Using localized cloud backup providers is inefficient and often results in violation of data
residency laws.

WAN optimization will also speed up endpoint backups because WAN optimization
makes best use of the available bandwidth. If there’ a network interruption, WAN
optimization ensures that the dropped backup automatically resumes at precisely
the right point.

5. Outdated backup solutions severely restrict IT control.

Using older principles of storage technology, some backup companies are not able to leverage federated search, which can quickly locate information anywhere on the network. This is a challenge when attempting to track down a file or to enforce a new policy. Because federated search looks across every file and device in the enterprise, it becomes easy to locate files, gather or even collect them for legal hold, in order to preserve custodian data for e-discovery.

On the other hand, modern backup solutions empower IT with visibility and make it easy to enforce policies on data backup, restore, and access. These leading backup companies also make use of detailed audit trails to strengthen IT’ oversight and to prevent material information, such as intellectual property, from being compromised due to the increasingly mobile workforce. Detailed audit trails preserve a record of all user and admin activity, as well as provide real-time visibility, enabling organizations to support their governance
and compliance needs.

If the enterprise is subject to industry regulation, it’ well worth it to select a service provider that already has passed the requisite certifications (e.g., HIPAA, PCI-DSS, ITAR) for its data centers and operations. Without federated search, it is a challenge to track down a file or
enforce a policy

12 things everyone should know about Windows 10

device_laptop_mini_start_Non-CortanaMarket_1xToday Microsoft have releases the latest Windows OS, Windows 10, as a free upgrade for most existing users.The main aim for Microsoft is to stay competitive against Apple and Google who are ramping up their offerings for the same audience. Windows 10 is a significant shift in direction for Microsoft and its new leadership and its flagship product.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest Windows release.

1. There is an expiration date for the upgrade

The release date of Windows 10 is today, 29th July 2015 and the free upgrade is valid for 12 months so you need to upgrade within that time.

2. Windows is now a service

Windows 10 users will receive updates as time goes on. There will be three to four upgrade packs a year that include new features,” said JP Gownder, a vice president and principal analyst with Forrester. “Windows as a service means you won’t be stuck with some 10 year old OS, as many were with XP, but it does require a little rethinking of resources, even these upgrade packs require some testing along the year.”

3. You have to be ready for the updates
Unlike earlier versions you will have less choice about updates unless you modify the OS itself. It’s important to know if you can handle the deluge of service packs that will come with this new system, You won’t have much time to “settle” into the new service packs before the next one comes.

4. You can only upgrade from certain versions

You must be upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1. Availability of the upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 varies depending on your devices brand and service supplier. You’ll also need to have Windows Update enabled.

5. There are different versions of Windows 10

There are still the same versions of Home and professional but some are merging so Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, and Windows 8.1 Home will give you Windows 10 Home. Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate, and Windows 8.1 Pro and 8.1 Pro for Students will get Windows 10 Pro.

6. Follow best practices for deployment

Any new Operating System has a disruptive effect, there is teething problems when you find out what will or wont work with your system. There is also the time in finding your way around so don’t upgrade during a busy time, if you have a few machines then do one first, followed by the others as you gain experience.

7. Upgrade for security

Windows 10 is more secure than it’s predecessors so upgrading could bring some added security.

8. It doesn’t (technically) require new hardware

If your system is running 7 or 8 then you should be able to run Windows 10 without any major changes. It always makes sense to have the highest specification equipment that you can afford. You might need new hardware to make use of new features such as Windows Hello or the advanced security. Unfortunately, in may cases, new hardware won’t be available until later this year.

9. It’s a new user experience

One of the most contentious aspects of Windows 8 was its tile-based design. Some loved it, while others switched back to the standard desktop view immediately. Windows 10 is aimed to provide the best of both tiles and the standard desktop, and will be optimised for mobile usage.

“If you have a detachable keyboard, such as a Surface Pro 3 then Windows 10 will choose desktop mode if the keyboard is attached, and to use tile mode if it isn’t.

10. It might not be perfect – yet

No new operating system is perfect on day 1 but Windows 10 has gone through some extensive testing and it may well have a faster uptake as it’s free that means more fixes will be available faster. We have been using it for some time but even we do not know all the answers at this stage so bear in mind that anything you want to know wont be available on Google, this is when you find out how good your supplier is with support. Some companies will also not offer support on Windows 10 until they have fully trained their technicians in a few months time.

11. How to get it

Its available either as an upgrade to existing systems or as an ISO which makes a DVD with a full system. You will need a valid Windows 7 or 8 key to install it on a new system so don’t think you can buy a new system without an OS and install it later. In any case you will need a good Internet connection or a prepared DVD.

12. Is it really free?

Yes and no, The upgrade is free for a year and after that it will cost, it is also suspected that in future there will be charges. Premium services and Apps from the store will also be charged for sometimes.

Tell me more please

cmx logo new 2015

If you want to have a chat about Windows 10 then give us a call, we wont charge and everything you are advised is based on our opinion and experience and you will be under no obligation, all we will ask is your name, town and email address.

How Microsoft is taking more money from small business

Big business run big servers and have large number of licences but there are more small businesses who contribute more overall to Microsoft coffers but have a small voice. The question is how to increase revenue for Microsoft and keep the shareholders happy.

How to take more off you PART1

The first action was to remove Small Business Server, this gave small business all the toys the big boys have but for small business, Server, Exchange, SQL etc. at a fraction of the cost. If you want to replace SBS you need to find an extra few thousand £pounds.

How to take more off you PART2

So finding the extra £thousands is not an option, now being Microsoft you are arrogant enough to believe that you are the only solution. If they cant buy a. from you they will have to buy b. Enter the cloud, ideal solution, monthly payments to spread the cost, what every small business wants and Microsoft assume that you are too busy, lazy or unintelligent to do the maths.

So you sign up for the cloud?

Remember according to Microsoft, its your only option after all and you want 5 office’s and 5 e-mail boxes and 5 online storage. That’s £9.50 x 5= £47.50 a month for office and exchange e-mail in the cloud which is £2,850 over five years and you still haven’t got a central file server. Add a shared drop box account and that goes up to £7,950

But I get the latest versions and its available everywhere?

In five years, you will get one extra version over the outright buyer and when the Internet goes down or is unavailable you’ve got nothing and all work stops.

OK, what’s the alternative?

Just a quick thought, you actually want to write letters and make spreadsheets, you don’t actually want Word and Excel. Why not buy something that works the same for £40 or does the job for nothing? We can supply all of these alternatives or if you insist we can supply Microsoft too, but guess what, Microsoft give us more commission if we sell you the cloud version that the boxed product, now why would they do that, do you suppose?

Give us a call and we will show you how to save tons of money with your computing, what do we get out of it? well we make more money by taking less from you and we get a loyal customer too.

Ring us now for an informal chat:

Ipswich                  01473 231800

Colchester             01206 256459

Bury St Edmunds   01284 624231

Braintree                01376 802031

Hidden messages in plain sight

belfiore-shirtIf you want to send a hidden message the best place to put it is in plain sight.

Those that know me well know that I am a fan of “Wierd Fish” T-shirts with the hidden message and I also get some printed with “in” jokes. I have to take my hat off to Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore.

binary-win10I know it was a few months ago but he was seen wearing this T shirt which looks like its just got a Window10 logo on it. If you look carefully you will see its a series of 1’s and 0’s in other words binary. Binary only has two characters but its how computers store data. This can then be translated into words, its how computers store data.

Someone with more time than me, Twitter user Kévin Gosse evidently went through and decoded each pane of the logo to find what was written. Here are the messages.

  • There are 10 types of people in the world
  • Windows 10, because 7 8 9.
  • Congrats on being one of the first.
  • Windows Insiders help us develop the future. Talk to us @ Windows

I have a T shirt with the first, its an old IT joke, the punchline is “those that understand binary, and those who don’t”, think about it – binary “10” translates to “2”.

The second read out loud ” 7 ate 9″. The next two messages can mean as much as you want them to.

So once again, IT is not mundane, it has loads of knowledgeable people who have an innate sense of fun, the rest of those who think they are in IT are just “so unhip, it’s a wonder your bums don’t fall off” – Douglas Adams .

Why refurbished IT makes sense

Lets ignore the environmental debate on this topic, because if you don’t buy it, someone else will. There are sevpre-owned-equipmenteral reasons why refurbished equipment makes sense, lets deal with them in order of importance and then we have a real disastrous, heavy warning at the end.

Where does all the kit come from?

There are two main sources, some companies like to change their IT every so often, like 18 months. Why? If you are the leading edge of technology you don’t want your guys to be seen using out of date equipment. I has to be the best for some companies. Other sources are short term contracts. If you want a building site for a project you hire a on on site portacabin with the latest kit and when the projects over back it all goes to be refurbished 6-12months later. 

Up to 80% Saving against new

You have a simple monetary choice when buying, you buy the best or the cheapest, Buying refurbished lets you buy the best there was 18 months ago at the cheapest price now. The only penalty is its no brand new. Buying the cheapest now will get you rubbish performance, low usable life and poor reliability. You can get a £1,200 Lenovo for around £400. That’s like getting a 2 year old Jaguar for £8K instead of £32K. The current Apple 27″ 5K retina display system is £1,999 new, you can save £700 by buying last years model or nearly £1000 for the year before.

Better reliability?

On the word of reliability there is a school of thought that says buying refurbished means better reliability as the problem new units have been removed. We don’t really agree with that as IT equipment is pretty reliable but the first six months is when the failure happens so you will definitely miss that problem area.

Not the latest model

No it isn’t, but its not far off. The ideal processor for business in either an Apple or PC is the Core i5 by Intel, thankfully AMD, virtually the only competition, seems to have disappeared from the market and that is an old discussion. The i5 has been around for six years, there have been four generations since it was introduced in 2009. The difference between the latest and the previous generation is not that great and the one before was also marginal. Only the first generation is now really out of date. So either Generation 2,3 and 4 will give you a good all round business system. Its like getting a faster instant coffee- not that important but better tahn starting with just beans if you are in a hurry.


Usually the machines are still in warranty but all the Lenovo’s and Apples we sell come with a 12 month parts and labour cover. We sell the extended warranties but its your choice, the machines are at their peak of reliability but there is always one, and you might v=be the unlucky one. Two years cover for an Apple iMac is £175 but it could cost you that just for a faulty keyboard. With a laptop that’s a motherboard replacement.

What does refurbished mean?

Everything or nothing. Some people just wipe a machine and do a re-install and call it a refurbishment. We clean inside and out, replace anything that looks suspect so it doesn’t break down in use and then we grade them A as good as new, B slight imperfections, or C, scratches and marks. The batteries are tested to hold a charge for 24 hours.

Now the heavy warnings

  1. Don’t buy a brand that doesn’t have a good spares reputation, this includes Dell and Sony.
  2. We have seen refurbished machines that are insurance write offs’ from things like water damage which are coaxed back to life with a 3 month warranty, only they fail and screw up your data down the line.
  3. Beware the non-official refurbish-er, all our systems are refurbished by either a Microsoft or Apple refurbish-er. We have seen pirated software on these and you are liable. They also install software that wont run correctly on that model.
  4. The parts might not be genuine. We have seen some Apple systems with 8Gb of RAM which was not the right type and had also failed as it was cheap. The right RAM worked faster but cost more.
  5. Beware of preloaded malware. We had a system in for repair which was bought from a shop in Colchester. whoever “refurbished” this loaded a key logger in a hidden file that sent data to a website. It’s easy for that to copy the credit card details that are typed in and send them off to be used by criminals, it was such a localised program that the AV solutions would not find it but we susoect it had been going on for years so we dread to think what they had collected. We always check our systems and load  trial AV and anti malware.

We only supply Lenovo and Apple as refurbished equipment

Everyone who works at CMX has a used Lenovo laptop, even me, and my wife has just moved from a desktop machine to a used Lenovo laptop to replace the tablet that she has decided to abandon. The Lenovo I am after is the one with an i7 and touchscreen with handwriting recognition at £900 its better than new at £2000. I don’t really need it but you may have noticed I have a PhD and a requirement of a doctorate is that you develop atrocious unreadable handwriting and this model can read it better than I can!

In the words of Sophocles – “No enemy is worse than bad advice”

bad adviceAs the Greeks are topical  at the moment I thought I would start with the thoughts of Sophocles. Finding the right advice is not costly but the wrong advice is really expensive and I am recommending someone else!

We are often asked about things like Websites, SEO or communications, as in telephones. This often occurs because many IT companies “dabble” in these areas without being experts. Although we started as a company that sent data over telephone lines in the ’70’s we know the difference between “Doing” and being an expert.

Anyone can make a web site but it takes the knowledge of an expert to design it, make it work and get it seen. That’s enough of a job for anyone. Our guys at cmx could probably become experts at it but its a time bandit and it isn’t what we do. The reason? for example with all respect to car mechanics its cheaper for us to pay you guys to service our own cars rather than take time out the working day to do it ourselves.

Its like that with telecoms. It used to be that you would phone up BT get a few normal “phone” lines and hang a phone off the end. We know a lot of businesses that have come a cropper still thinking life is that simple. The BT salesman ends up extracting £6K for ISDN lines or VOIP be selling the “honest guv, its only few pounds a week routine”.

We know of a few firms who have been sold totally inappropriate kit. For example a company had all the big toys in terms of telecoms but wanted to relocate to a home office with three lines. The quote they received from BT was in excess of £3,000 a year. All they wanted was to make outgoing calls from three people. We talked to them, they added a line to their existing arrangement added an Orchid phone system and three phones, total cost £400 for the equipment. We don’t do “Telecoms” but we know how to add a few lines and a basic system onto the wiring we install for computers.

If you want proper phone systems and proper communications then don’t talk to BT, Virgin, Talk-Talk, Sky they can only sell you their products and the more the salesman can rip you off and tie you in the more commission the sales person gets, not the best basis for Trust and a decent recommendation. The long deceased MD of CMX whom I replaced  was a wise guy and I cherish a lot of his motto’s and as the text at the top says “Don’t base your decisions on the advice of those who dont have to deal with the results” was one of his.

We often get caught up in the, “Do you do phones?” question, immediately we can tell if our 4 lines and 16 extensions is suitable or not and we never recommend the other equipment “that we can get hold of” because its not right for the customer and breaks our ethos of being IT experts not “jack of all trades”.

Instead we turn to another expert and pass it to them, sometimes its just a question of what is best for a client but we are happy to hand over all the clients needs to these people who we know, like, and above all trust.

One of the questions I recently asked them was regarding one of our biggest clients and the advice was confirming what their own people had said, when I mentioned who this was and they did the decent thing as said oh they are good and if he is dealing with them, stay with him. I trust that advice, I know all the reasons, which I’m not going to share but they were good and again, ethical. I trust people who do that.

The choice is now staggering and I know many people who have installed VOIP to save money but they get inundated with false calls, The people who install ISDN for no good reason apart from they were sold it and the expensive stuff that goes with it.

If you are looking at phones for your business then talk to a whole of market expert, they need to get you the best deal so that in five years time, its still a good deal. We have a rule at cmx of “prove the need”, one of the ways you can do that with comms is to add up all the costs including calls in and out, yes incoming calls can cost you too, for a five year period, if you need a sit down when you see the figure then don’t do it without talking to an expert first. Don’t forget good advice is often free, its bad advice that really gets expensive. Talk to Sam O’Doherty at Ocean telecom 01284 729 869 and tell him I sent you.

On that topic before we disappear we were talking about BT a short while ago and they never cease to amaze us how they can screw anything up even if you plan for all eventualities, that’s why we like to deal with a UK telecoms company who deal with BT in the UK rather than the customer arranging everything through the nice people of India, I mean nice people, its their job and its not their fault they speak English and not talk it, there is a difference. Anyway, the ultimate screw up happened at one of our clients, they organised the comms to be installed three days before they opened. We had installed all the IT for the engineer to do the broadband next day. The engineer rolled up but unfortunately he could connect the broadband as the phone lines hadn’t been installed. The delay was an extra two weeks, HOLD THE ADVERTISING, MAGAZINES, OPENING PARTY, WEB SITE, LEAFLETS WE CANT TAKE CALLS OR E-MAILS, what a cost for all that hassle and missing launch dates! Should have talked to Sam at Ocean Telecom, he would have been on top of it every step of the way, how do we know that? Did I mention he is an expert in telecoms, which we, BT sales et al are not, and I know like and trust him and his company.