Monthly Archives: September 2015

Why the Space Shuttle is connected to the Romans in the UK, especially the horses backsides.

Horses Pulling Roman ChariotThe size of the Space Shuttles booster rocket was decided by the size of a standard Roman horse’s backside. How come?  Well read on and get to the end as there is a moral to this story.

When we saw a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there were two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track.

US rail gauge – 4 foot 8.5 inches

The railroad track gauge (width between the two rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did “they” use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing.

Based on the existing Coaches

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.

Roman chariots made the ruts

So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

So the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. Thus, we have the answer to the original question

Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right,.

So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a Horse’s Ass!

Now the twist to the story . . .

Amazing isn’t it, this has been repeated all over the world and accepted as a good story and entirely plausible, it will carry on being repeated but some people think its not true, well at least some of it. If you want to find out more go to

The moral is that something is accepted as true because it’s plausible, at cmx we never take anything at face value we investigate and try everything first. You may be tempted to just use Microsoft servers and Office 365 but we have solutions that work the same and will save you £8,000 and £600 respectively. So if you want to talk to us and find answers to the questions we ask then email or pick up the phone 24/7 and talk to a human in Colchester, Ipswich, Braintree or Bury St Edmunds (We don’t do machine answering).

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Why pay for any Software when you can what you want for free? – explained using LEGO

legoI remember interviewing salespeople for cmx, I had 8 sales guys out of 18 staff and needed some more. I asked them a question during the interview, we ended up only hiring the guys who got it right.

“You are the salesman in a hardware store, a customer comes in and asks for a 1/4″ masonry drill, What does he actually want?”

The correct answer is a variation on “holes”. You see the customer only saw the drill as a means to an end, he wanted holes in a wall, the good sales guys asked why a drill? They then found out about the customer needs and then offered things to help such as screws, rawlplugs, brackets, shelves, in fact anything to help. The customer wanted “holes” but he was thinking “shelves”.

In this brainwashed world everyone thinks I need Sage, ACT!, Office, DropBox, Microsoft Server & Exchange

– That’s our masonry drill. Instead of thinking about the “holes” and the “shelf” which is Accounts, Customer management, Word processing, Presentations, spreadsheets and email.

There is a world of free software out there which does the job and usually better than the brands you know because millions of people in the world are contributing to improve it.

Why doesn’t everyone sell Open Source?

You don’t sell it, its free and because sales people don’t make money out of you and they don’t have the knowledge to install it, they send you to the cloud instead.

Is it a commercially reality?

Most open source software is available in two versions, the first you pay for using it and get direct support which means you have to deal with several software companies, not a good idea for small business. Or the free version which is installed by someone, like us at cmx,  who actually understands computers and software. We install it and support it but don’t sell it. We can install a full accounting package with multi company, multi user, multi currency that works on PC’s tablets, phones and Apple for £300, that’s the installation charge, we offer support at £8 a month. That’s £480 over five years. Xero will cost you £1200 for much less.

OK the LEGO bit

By now you will have the idea but you won’t understand it, watch this and then come back for some more information.

OK so why pay Microsoft, Sage, Dropbox around the average for 10 users of £38,000 over five years? Everything they do is available somewhere else for free or pennies. We have off the shelf solutions for Email servers (Exchange), Shared storage (DropBox), SQL, HR, Projects, Backup, Accounts (Sage, X

ero) Office (Ability, OpenOffice LibreOffice) Servers (Linux BSD).

This is why Amazon, eBay, Google, Tesco and virtually every big business knows, its out there for nothing and its what the NHS, Government and Police don’t realise so they waste billions of your money re-inventing the wheel and buying brands.

Queen-VictoriaI don’t want to learn anything new!

In that case don’t ever buy anything new, or ever, if you get a new car you have to learn how to work the heater and all the switches, the fundamental driving is the same though. That goes for kettles, cookers, TV’s, you name it.

All the Open Source software is easy to use, its driven by users wants so if you get a copy of office it works and feels like Office in familiar ways. Remember the switch to XP and then  to 7 and now Windows 10 they all do the same thing but in a different way.

We offer clear alternatives because we know business, computers, support and software and we want you as along term customer, that’s how we make our money, by saving yours not by taking as much as we can.


or email me or call me personally on 07881917525 to get our help and start saving.

Are cloud services sold by the ignorant, stupid or just greedy?

10-midlife-career-change-snake-oil-salesmanI am very frustrated at the people selling cloud services, they don’t have alternatives and they appear to have a total lack of understanding about simple maths. Either its stupidity, lack of knowledge or they don’t think for them selves. You cant blame the client £6 a month sounds a cheap cash-flow friendly choice.

I listened to someone spout on about Microsoft Exchange in the cloud “for as little as only £6 a month”. I did some simple maths, 10 users over five years is £3,600. We have just installed a 12 user email server on an existing i5 PC in Leiston for a one off payment of £600.

Lets look at a 10 person company using Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, Xero accounts and Business Dropbox;

  • 10 Exchange accounts £60 a month
  • 10 Office 365 accounts £70 a month
  • 2 XERO users £40 a month
  • 10 Dropbox accounts £170 a month

£20,400 over five years.

These figures are based on those presented to us by a client who had signed up for these services. That’s a whopping £340 a month or £20,400 over five years. He moved from the cloud which is after all just renting someone else computer because his broadband went down for four days, so it was expensive and unreliable.

Save 66% and spread the cost

We can supply an in house Linux server to provide these for a quarter of that figure and on a lease its £26 a week and that is with off site (cloud)  backup storage.

“Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by stupidity”

Cloud computing is not always the best choice, its usually sold by the inexperienced salesman who gets a huge commission for selling you the cloud as he can’t sell you anything else, like an in house solution or hybrid. So stop and think, do the maths.

The reason for the surge in cloud based solutions is they are an easy sale and the alternative from Microsoft now that the Small Business Server has gone is horrendously more expensive, about £18,000 more. We install Linux servers because we have the expertise and they cost around £3000. Thast something the cloud salesmen can’t do.

We would earn 3x more by recommending the cloud

Maybe it’s pure greed, if I told you we earn three times more selling Office 365 than Office home and business would you give it some extra thought, especially when there is a free online version no-one talks about?

How about writing and spreadsheet software for nothing or Microsoft Office online on on your Android tablet for free?

That’s why we say 30 years experience really counts – our knowledge goes on long after the others run out of steam and you will be always paying for their lack of alternatives.

Ring us now to find out the clear alternatives & go to our YouTube channel for quick 60 second explanations.

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It’s just dawned on me – The massive mistake made by every new business


And it all started because it dawned on me at a business meeting what an uphill struggle faces new businesses and I haven’t seen a new business ever get it right unless it was started by an old business.

What makes me such an expert?
I was lucky*, I started with cmx as an electronics designer, it was a company with 23 employees in a 6,000 sq. ft building. I swiftly moved up through Technical Director, Financial director and ended up where I am today. Managing director of an IT company with centres at Colchester, Ipswich and subs at Bury St Edmunds and Braintree.

I started with something large, existing and then I steered it to a totally different company, I have learned by my mistakes but I have learned much better lessons from other peoples mistakes. We have changed a lot in the 34 years we have existed.

So, I have never ever been a self-employed, one-man band, start-up from nothing. So what can I teach you? Well its what I have learned from decades of marketing and yes, its something that seems to be a total avoidance area for the new business for a number of reasons. Its also something that hit me only a fortnight ago.

The blinding inspirational flash.
I was sitting in a breakfast network meeting, I do six a fortnight, listening to a marketing person do their 40 second pitch and it suddenly dawned on me. I spend a lot of time on marketing my business, how the hell does a small start-up or new business do this? They cant, its impossible, how do they ever succeed? I can spot them in a network meeting, the new and likely to fail, nice guys they are enthusiastic and totally unprepared.

Its not arrogance on my behalf, its a simple fact, small business don’t market themselves. They think they do, but they don’t, they cant, but they should, or else they will be doing something else in a very short time indeed. Its a “why spend money on that question.”

Joe Smith redundant but good at what he did
Lets Look at Joe Smith, He was employed by Suffexshire County Council as an office manager and he was pretty gooCorporate employeed at it. In 2009 he was made redundant, he had his redundancy payment but with a few loans, mortgage, working wife and children he needed a job. He quickly found that he was in a large pool of people looking for work.

He decided that as his best skill was organising people he would take his skill and knowledge and become a consultant, the dream, working for your self, being your own boss, working from home, everyone needs a business advice, what could go wrong?

The leap into self employed heaven
He found an accountant and used his own bank. He joined the local chamber of commerce and Business and Corporationsa trade association. He had some business cards printed online by Vista print and some leaflets from a local printer. He organised everything with VAT & HMRC. He insured his car for business cover and found professional indemnity insurance. All before he did all this he dedicated his efforts to the most important thing, what he should call himself and he chose JSBC (thinking; HSBC – familiar and Joe Smith Business Consultant). Oh and he got a web site and e-mail from the cheapest he could find. He even came up with a buy two hours get one free offer and a free initial consultation. His hourly rate was £40. He joined a couple of networking organisations, one was fortnightly and nothing was compulsory and the other was a weekly referral organisation with strict rules

He was busy, right up to the end.
He spent £6,000 in his first year and £6,000 in his second, he picked up two clients because he was cheap, he was also busy, he visited a total of 20 prospective clients a year with the free offers but he only had 100 hours of paid work each year, about two hours a week. He earned £4000 and a bit morCorporate employeee in the second year. He didn’t cover his costs, let alone his fuel and getting a wage. He is now looking for a job, dream smashed.
Joe was his own worst enemy
He was good, knew his stuff, he did what he thought were the right things, what did he do wrong? Well it was simple. He did his own marketing. Effectively he thought he had planned but he hadn’t. Marketing is the secret to finding your prospects, targeting them, converting them to clients and then finding more on a continuous basis. Its a specialist task and you need a knack for it as well as knowledge and experience.

The thing I have learned in all the years I have been running a business is that marketing is vital. I spend three days a week marketing, I have several other guys here to help me do the actual IT work. Otherwise I couldn’t do it, but I still ask marketers for the occasional help.

A hiding to nothing.
A start-up doesn’t stand a cats chance in hell of success if they have no experience of actually running a small business and their accountant, usually the first business contact doesn’t have a clue about marketing either.

They don’t have the time, knowledge or experience to dedicate to marketing and if they did, they wouldn’t be able to do the work which leads to the feast-famine model. They are too busy to have ongoing business and then too much time for marketing.

What you need is a support network of fellow business people and someone to plan everything for you. Effectively Joe thought he had planned but he hadn’t. Marketing is the secret to finding your market, targeting it and then growing your business.

Unless you are lucky, like I was, you start with nothing
Remember when you start you don’t have a business, you have something you are good at. That wont pay the bills unless you have a marketing plan. Your first move should be to set enough money aside to pay for a marketing consultant.

They will help you plan and prepare, they will have all the business contacts you need to decide how you are going to get clients, who to use for websites, printers, accountants and then you will have a budget and a plan. When this is in place, now and only now, start trading and follow the plan.

Nothing succeeds like success
Business success will follow. Marketing consultants only exist from success, you will never find a successful one with a string of failures behind them. The good ones are at network meetings, being a presence and meeting people, they are following their own plan.

There are several I would recommend, talk to them, decide who is best for you and who has the experience you need. They all have slightly different areas of expertise. When you are earning enough then get a business coach for the next stage.

Who would I recommend?
Who would I recommend for a start-up or recently started-up? In Suffolk or Essex I would heartily recommend Alexandra De’Cort from Beckett Media, Sarah Eden of Tangible Marketing and Louise Stephens from Marketing Fox. These are all my favourites. How did I meet them? Over the years at networking groups, I have met them, gTwo workersot to know them, like them and I trust their knowledge and experience.

That’s how networking works so if you are new to business then talk to them, you will get to know, like and trust them and they will probably introduce you to the world of business networking too.

As an add-on we often have new businesses approach us about IT and we often advise using what they have or obtaining some of our refurbished equipment. What we often see is cheap or inappropriate equipment, which needs replacing in a couple of years, again talk to an expert first and ideally one who will have your interests at heart for the long term relationship and not one who is after the biggest commission cheque they can squeeze out of you.

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* I am Glyn Cheeseman, MD of CMX Business Computing. The opinions I am expressing are by own based on my experience in business and talking to many business people over the years. I ran this article across several people I know before I published it. Apart from my professional qualifications I have attended many business courses over the years and I still attend training sessions where I can as I believe that you can really learn from others experience and knowledge. Although I usually spout about computer related things I occasionally feel there are points and subjects that need raising. follow me on @glyncheeseman and sign up for this blog.