Archive for December 2011

17 Useful Windows Phone Tools For Computer Technicians

Authors: Guest Writer

Guest Post by Ric Chapman.

I think I’m somewhat safe in saying that Windows Phone 7 arrived late to the game and is still very much the underdog in today’s smartphone market. But whilst Microsoft are busy playing catch up their hard work is slowly paying off as it starts to carve its place among the Android, iPhone and Blackberry competition. Its ease of use and excellent integration into the Microsoft ecosystem is what’s starting to make it popular among home, business and now the technical community alike.
Having said that there’s still a bumpy ride ahead, at the time of this writing there are only 45,000 apps in the market place compared to Apple’s 500,000! When the phone was released, Technician apps were practically non-existent. I know, I was there, eagerly looking for what I could use out in the field. I didn’t find much, and what I did find didn’t work.. at all. But thankfully today is a much different story and I bring you the apps that I’m using on an almost daily basis as a Computer Technician.

Lync 2010

Lync 2010 arrives on time as promised and is an excellent app for staying in touch with colleagues, clients and family whilst on the move. Although it integrates nicely with the OS it would have been nice to see something similar to the Messenger integration deployed with Mango, but I’m just nit-picking. It’s a great app and although the app is free, you do require access to a Lync server. Mine comes courtesy of Office365, it just works and works well.
Price: FREE – Lync server required
Link

My Home Server

I absolutely love this app and is a must for anyone who owns their own or installs and maintains home servers for their clients. You can connect to any Home Server whilst you’re on the move allowing you to check important notifications, disk space, access files and manage user accounts including user creation and password resets. If your clients are happy for you to have access you can monitor and provide basic support from wherever you are at a touch of a button.
Price: FREE
Link

My Business Server

Almost identical to the My Home Server app with a focus on Microsoft Small Business Server Essentials only, would have been nice to have seen this for the SBS Standard but perhaps something will arrive later down the line. The SBS Essentials edition is the server of choice for my small business clients and as a support app is indispensable. The Live Tile only adds to my excitement by providing an instant indication of available disk space and the number of important / critical alerts you have pending right on the phones home screen.
Price: FREE
Link

Sky Wallet

Sky Wallet is a powerful password management app and I would be lost without it especially as clients are increasingly becoming reliant on their support techs for remembering their account details. Where Sky Wallet shines is its integration with SkyDrive, your details are synced and encrypted on your SkyDrive storage. If you need to reset your phone, you needn’t worry about losing the data. Secondly there’s a desktop companion app which comes included with this app allowing you to access your passwords directly from your PC avoiding the need to move back and forth between your desktop and phone.
Price: £2.99 / $3.99
Trial Available: Yes
Link

Flashlight 7

The flashlight tool is a very easily overlooked app and I’ve simply lost count on how much I’ve used this, I often find myself under a dimly lit desk or a dark comms cupboard. As I’m always carrying my phone, it makes sense not to be carrying a torch. There is a large array of flashlight apps which offer a variety of features so do shop around.
Price: FREE
Link

Subnet Calculator

Any technician working with medium and larger businesses should already know how to do this sort of thing without a calculator. But who would want to? We all work to a schedule and unless you can do this sort of thing in your head in less than 10 seconds then you might as well reach for your pocket. There are plenty of calculators out there, this one works great and has the added bonus of being free.
Price: FREE
Link

Connect Anything

The title of the app can be a little misleading and is simply a reference tool. I specifically use it for the Ethernet Pinout information when making up my own network cables.
Price: FREE
Link

Remote Desktop

Whilst there are plenty of remote desktop tools out there this is by far my favourite, not the cheapest but the one I generally get the best performance from overall. Most of these apps come with free trials and I’d recommend you try them before making a final decision.
Price: £4.99 / $5.99
Link

Amazon Kindle

Being a Kindle fan I downloaded this app the moment it became available and whilst I do read for pleasure, a lot of my reading also involves tech or reference books. Whilst not strictly a technical tool it can be a great informational tool avoiding the need carry the large books that plague most students and technicians. A quick and easy EBook reader on the go.
Price: FREE
Link

Network Tools

0 0A small collection of network connectivity tools providing ping tests, tcp port connection tests, http and https connectivity tests as well as the ability to save a selection of URI’s for periodic checking, useful if you’re wanting to check the health of multiple web sites quickly. It’s absolutely free if you don’t mind the adverts which are not intrusive.
Price: FREE with ads or £2.29/$2.99 for the ad free version
Link

The SSH Client

1 1A very simple and free SSH client that works brilliantly, the paid version comes with telnet support and a ton of customisation and configuration settings.
Price: FREE or £2.49/$3.49 for the PRO version
Link

IP Camera Viewer

2 2I find these are quite popular tools among the tech community so I’ve included my favourite, originally acquired to keep an eye on my home office as I struggled to find anything that I was certain I had left on my desk. Turns out wife likes to clean my desk …. a lot. IP based cameras provide an excellent option for security and this app extends their use allowing you to keep an eye on things whilst on the move.
Price: FREE
Link

As mentioned previously, the Windows Phone integration with Bing and the Live services are what helps this phone stand out among its peers and may play a large part in its future success. The following items are not apps but integrated features within the OS that work exceptionally well and can prove invaluable whilst out in the field.

Office Hub

The Office hub provides excellent mobile office apps including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the ever popular OneNote. I live in OneNote and much prefer this to carrying around a notebook and pencil, an excellent note taking app regardless of your situation.

Maps

Finding new addresses is always a daunting task but Bing Maps makes the whole process a lot easier, I did have concerns about how it would stand up against Google Maps on other smartphones but I needn’t have worried. If you have a phone holder in the car it even serves well as (very temporary) sat-nav replacement provided that there is decent data coverage of course. Mileage is presented to the user but is not recorded so I use OneNote to take down mileage and the phones multi-tasking features make it easy to flick between the two apps.

Office 365

Microsofts cloud based service Office 365 was made for Windows Phone, whether you need an Exchange based email service, SharePoint file access then you simply cannot go wrong. Email access is powerful and SharePoint makes easy work of file collaboration with colleagues and clients. Office 365 is beyond the scope of this article but I do urge you to check it out.

SkyDrive

Cloud based file access with SkyDrive is simple and easy and was a missing key feature in the original release. I now store all my client notes and access them from the cloud whilst onsite where necessary using the free SkyDrive service.

Bing – Local Scout

Nowhere near home or the office? Need that coffee to see you through the next appointment? Then the local scout integrated with the Bing Search app is what you need. Food/Drink located and mapped in a couple of moments … a true techy life saver.

45,000 apps compared to 500,000 is quite a small number and Microsoft has some way to go before it’s covering all our technical needs. There’s no news on an official DropBox app (although there are plenty of alternative third party DropBox apps available) and presently there’s no word on how Skype will integrate with the phone. But I sense these things and other much needed apps are not too far away. 45,000 whilst comparatively small is still too large for one tech to cover so if there’s anything I’ve missed that you feel deserves a mention then please comment and let us know.

Guest Post by Ric Chapman: Ric has been in the IT support business for 12 years driven by his love of tech and passion to help others. Ric carries several certifications from both Microsoft and CompTIA and worked in a myriad of support environments, that experience he now puts into developing his own IT consultancy business.

© Technibble – A Resource for Computer Technicians to start or improve their Computer Business
To get started with your own computer business, check out our Computer Business Kit. 17 Useful Windows Phone Tools For Computer Technicians

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OnForce Mobile App for Pros – Now available for iPhone!

Authors: gabe

I’m having a great day here at OnForce today — why, you ask? Our iPhone app for OnForce Pros just hit the app store! The app is designed to be a hyper-efficient way for OnForce Pros to access OnForce while on-the-go, and it fully supports all the activities needed to review and accept new work […]

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Episode 55 – The Computer Business Kit

Today we will talk with an IT professional who created computer business forms, legal documents and marketing templates for his own business and created a kit so you can use them in yours.

TechPodcasts Promo Tag :10
Intro 1:20
Billboard :51

News and Comment segment 2:13
Microsoft announced that it plans to release Windows 8 Beta to the public in February 2012.

MakeUseOf.com is offering a free Guide called How To Build Your Own Hackintosh.

MIPS Technologies announced the release of the world’s first $99 tablet based on Android TM 4.0 .

A security bug on Facebook allowed users of the popular social media site to view personal private photos last month owned by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Commercial Break 1:23
The Force Field Web Portal TheForceField.Net

Intro to Topic 2:10
Today we’re going to talk with Bryce Whitty, owner of Technibble and creator of The Computer Business Kit. We will learn about the latest version of his kit and catch up with the latest on his popular business web site for computer techs.

Interview with Bryce Whitty 23:01

Wrap up and Close :46

Comments, questions or suggestions? Send them in to comments@theforcefield.net or post them in The Force Field Forums. Feedback on this topic will be read by the host and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at http://www.theforcefield.net!

©2011 Savoia Computer. All rights reserved.

 

Episode 55 – The Computer Business Kit

Today we will talk with an IT professional who created computer business forms, legal documents and marketing templates for his own business and created a kit so you can use them in yours.

TechPodcasts Promo Tag :10
Intro 1:20
Billboard :51

News and Comment segment 2:13
Microsoft announced that it plans to release Windows 8 Beta to the public in February 2012.

MakeUseOf.com is offering a free Guide called How To Build Your Own Hackintosh.

MIPS Technologies announced the release of the world’s first $99 tablet based on Android TM 4.0 .

A security bug on Facebook allowed users of the popular social media site to view personal private photos last month owned by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Commercial Break 1:23
The Force Field Web Portal TheForceField.Net

Intro to Topic 2:10
Today we’re going to talk with Bryce Whitty, owner of Technibble and creator of The Computer Business Kit. We will learn about the latest version of his kit and catch up with the latest on his popular business web site for computer techs.

Interview with Bryce Whitty 23:01

Wrap up and Close :46

Comments, questions or suggestions? Send them in to comments@theforcefield.net or post them in The Force Field Forums. Feedback on this topic will be read by the host and included in future episodes of the show. Visit us at http://www.theforcefield.net!

©2011 Savoia Computer. All rights reserved.

3 Ways for Computer Technicians to take Advantage of the Mass Adoption of Tablets

Authors: Bryce Whitty

The computer market is constantly changing and one of the big changes in recent times was the introduction of cheap netbooks like the Asus EEEPC. Now we are seeing the mass adoption of tablets like the Apple iPad and in both cases, some computer technicians have expressed fear that this will reduce the amount of desktops and laptops we have to repair.

It is quite possible that they will change the computer repair scene but I don’t see it as a problem, I see it as an opportunity. Most industries are constantly evolving and the repair work we do needs to be slightly altered to keep up.

In this article, I’ll show you three ways to take advantage of mass adoption of tablets.

 

Setup & Syncronization

We all know that tablets can be used for watching movies and playing some games, but the real power comes from when they are hooked up to other devices and services. It could be connected to the internet so clients can download their emails, stay current with the news, watch their stocks and know what the weather is going to be today.

You would think that if a client was this well connected that they would probably know how to set all of this up themselves, but with the simplicity of the Apple iPad, there is a huge generation of people entering the digital realm that previously wouldnt go anywhere near it. As intuitive as these modern devices are, they still need someone to enter their POP and SMTP settings, they still need to hook it up to their wireless (if they have one at all) and still need to setup an account with the App store.

A good example of this is one of my clients who has an iMac, iPhone, iPad and she would be an intermediate user who knows how to use most of the functions. When I was called out there was a few problems she wanted me to look at but one of them was that she wanted her emails to appear on all three devices because with the current setup, if the iMac opened it first it would not appear on the other two devices.

All I had to do was turn on the “leave a copy on server for X days” option in her iMacs email application. It is simple work for you and I, but there are so many people who dont know there is even an option like this. Apple claims that the devices “just work” and stand alone they are pretty good, but they dont always play nice with other software which means there is plenty of work in this area.

Education

As intuitive as tablet operating systems are, plenty of people still dont know how to use the device. They are well aware of what it is capable of thanks to the commercials but have no idea how to actually do it. In my personal experience with iPad clients, most people wanted to be able to check their email, check the weather and maybe play some music.

I would show them how to download an application if their device needed it to use those features (after setting up their app store accounts), showed them that there is now an icon on the home screen, press this and then that. I billed many hours this way and the clients loved me for it because their children and grandchildren would either go through it all too quickly for them to learn or get frustrated trying to teach them.

Hardware Repairs

Last but not least, tablets are portable and they will get damaged so there is an opportunity in repairing them. There are many resources out there to learn how to repair tablets but one of the best I have found is the iFixit.com tablet section. They have instructions for repairing Apple iPads, Nooks, Dell Tablets, HP Tablets, Motorola Tablets, RIM Tablets, Amazon Kindle Fires and the original Amazon Kindle. They do have a parts link on the right hand side where you purchase parts, but eBay has far better prices.

Of course, you shouldn’t learn the basics on your clients expensive devices. Instead, buy some broken devices and spare parts on eBay for dirt cheap, fix them and learn along the way. You can even sell the fixed device afterwards and make money from your education.

I don’t see the mass adoption of tablets as a threat to our industry, just an opportunity. They dont replace Desktops and Laptops, but work along side them and actually pulls people further into our world with a heavier reliance on technology.

© Technibble – A Resource for Computer Technicians to start or improve their Computer Business
To get started with your own computer business, check out our Computer Business Kit. 3 Ways for Computer Technicians to take Advantage of the Mass Adoption of Tablets

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Global Gateway Exchange (GGETechs)

Global Gateway Exchange is the access point for field service technicians who service Velocity The Greatest Phone Company Ever, Inc. (Note: this claim is not an endorsement, it is actually part of the company name). Velocity fields service calls to technicians through GGETechs. The company boasts over 800 service technicians nation wide.

 

Contact:

GGETechs

7130 Spring Meadows West Dr.
Holland, Ohio 43528

Phone: 1-888-443-4375
Fax: 1-866-683-5624

Web site: https://ggetechs.com
Technician sign up form is on the home page.

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