December 22nd, 2009
Tune in to the Afternoon Shmooze talk show on the Rusty Mike Internet Radio station this Thursday, December 24, 2:30 pm, where I will give host Nettie Feldman the lowdown on Israeli Internet Service Providers.
To listen, go to www.rustymikeradio.com and click on the “Listen Live” button.
You can download the show later. Podcasts available after the show: http://bit.ly/13R2Lx
November 16th, 2009
Airline Woes Could Damage Business
According to figures from the Wall Street Journal (Sept. 15, 2009), the airline industry stands to lose $11 billion worldwide. Original forecasts were at $9 billion, so it appears that things are getting worse. Why should we be concerned?
Well, for a few reasons. When companies lose money, they start cutting corners. Some of these “corners” include: manpower, more crowded seating, fewer in flight services, superficial maintenance (uh oh!!), flight delays (now averaging 56+ minutes), flight cancellations, and fewer planes in the air.
The airlines are not only trying to save money. As with any business, they are trying to increase sales in a declining market. Overbooking is one of their methods for boosting their revenues. Federal law allows airlines to sell more tickets than there are seats on a plane, assuming that there will be cancellations and changes in personal routes. As a result, airlines are refusing boarding to a growing number of ticketed passengers. One tip here: cash in the cancellation vouchers immediately!
So, what’s the alternative?
Stay in your office and conduct business with your clients and partners in a perfectly acceptable environment of low-cost, high-quality video conferencing. The advantages far outweigh all the problems that you could face when traveling:
- Travel can take hours in both directions and once the meeting is over, then what? How much time is wasted this way? With video conferencing, no wasted time traveling, and when the meeting is over, you’re back to work right away.
- Focus. With less time on the road or in the air, you can focus on the immediacy of your business. You’ll be less weary, with greater strength to focus on the meeting at hand.
- Budget. Airline ticket prices are all over the place. The closer your flight is to the time you order tickets, the more expensive the tickets will be. Saving the fees from not taking a few flights would most likely cover the full costs of an Efrat Networks video conferencing system. The payback is very quick.
- Outside of the handshake at the beginning and end of a meeting, video conferencing gives you the same look and feel.
- Health. The pandemic effects of H1N1 are expected to get worse this winter. Airplane ventilation systems have been known to act as “petri dishes” for culturing and proliferating viruses. Why expose yourself unnecessarily?
Call Efrat Networks today to keep you on the ground and help your business take off.
A few tips to keep you healthy throughout this winter (direct quote from Dr. Vinay Goyal,MBBS, DRM, DNB - Intensivist and Thyroid specialist):
The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it’s almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.
While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):
1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. “Hands-off-the-face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t under estimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at using a Neti pot, but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton swabs dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.
5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C. If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6. Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc) as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.
November 16th, 2009
How to Keep Each Family Member Happy
The generation gap is most evident in attire and music. While what we grew up with in the, well, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s (is this politically correct enough?), may be ‘OK’ for our kids, but what they listen to today and call ‘music’ reminds us of how our parents felt about our music. The world is definitely round!
Efrat Networks installs amazing sound systems to meet the various music tastes of pretty much any family. Our systems are EXTREMELY simple to use - they pass the ‘grandmother’ test: if your grandmother can turn on a dimmer light switch, then she can operate the sound system. How does it work?
When installing the sound system, Efrat Networks techs define up to 8 zones around the house, such as the kitchen, living room, outdoor patio/garden, bedrooms and even the master bathroom. Each zone has at least one pair of speakers, a dimmer switch with a small LED screen and a jack for plugging in your iPod, or any other MP3/MP4 player. By pushing the dimmer switch, you control the zone you are listening to, which is displayed on the LED screen. By turning the dimmer knob, you control the volume. Up to six zones can be playing different music at the same time.
You can pick and choose your music on your player the same way as if you were listening through headphones. No need for a CD player. The great part is that while you are listening to Beethoven’s 9th symphony while going through your 50+ emails of the morning, your daughter can be listening to Black Eye Peas in her room, using the same stereo system. No pain for you or your daughter…
Alternatively, if you have a party at home, you can set each of the zones to play music from the same music player.
If you are remodeling or building a new home, Efrat Networks can create an incredible music experience for each of your family members. Someone else will have to help out with the attire issues…
November 16th, 2009
Replace Your UPS - Backup Batteries
If you have had your Uninterruptible Power Supply, better known as a “UPS”, for at least two years, now is the time to get a new one. Like car batteries, they wear down over time.
None of us like to discover that we need to cable-start the car’s dead battery when we are rushing off to a meeting.UPS’s offer the following functions:
- Lightning and surge protection
- Short circuit and overload protection
- Automatically charges when the UPS is off
- Properly shuts down computer if power doesn’t come back up from the electric company.
You really can’t afford to be without a UPS and, as we said, if you’ve had one for about two years, replace it now before you get stuck. Call Efrat Networks today to help you with your UPS needs.
With our computers, the backup battery, or the UPS, can be even more critical. When your computer shuts off due to power outages or is hit by power surges, the damage to your hard drive (i.e., all your precious files that you haven’t properly backed up for at least six months… we’ll discuss this at another time) and all other electrical components (e.g., the motherboard, the power supply, etc.), can put you out of business.
November 16th, 2009
Windows Operating Systems - How to Decide
In the last two issues of Get Connected, we discussed the pro’s and con’s of Windows 7. The new operating system was just released here in Israel and Microsoft is working hard to create a ‘buzz’ around it.
For the last month, our techs have been testing the system. Compared to XP Pro, the differences are minor. There are a few nice new bells and whistles, but we are not certain that switching away from XP will offer that much of an improved user experience to warrant the costs of changing over, plus there are definite hardware and non-support issues that must be reviewed before switching.
Win 7 performance is better than Windows XP SP3 and Vista SP2, but only if you run 64-bit Win 7. One potential gotcha: Much of the performance gains are reliant on having up-to-date 64-bit hardware drivers and components. That may mean buying new hardware, as older hardware may not have the necessary components and updated drivers.
“If it ain’t broken don’t fix it.”
If you’re considering upgrading from XP to Win 7 on the same machine, Microsoft doesn’t directly support this, and recommends that a fresh installation be made on new hardware. Any attempt to upgrade will move the directory structure known as Documents and Settings into the new, Unix-like ‘user’ directory structure, and registry settings for Win 7 will break many applications.
Many applications will need post-Win 7 upgrade adjustments, or even re-installation. Win 7 also needs at least 5GB of extra space to perform an in-place upgrade from XP temporarily.
If you are planning on buying a new computer, then Win 7 is definitely worth installing. Win 7 has the inherent architectural changes that secured XP, but it also doesn’t have the estimated 1,300 patches (including Microsoft Office patches) that XP SP3 has. The user interface has improved dramatically with Win 7, and migrating to a fresh environment rids machines of the clutter that has built up over the years.
On the other hand, if you have a Vista Business operating system, this would be the time to consider a change. Some vendors, such as HP, have Win 7-specific information on compatibility, while others have promised Win 7-specific drivers - especially for 64-bit kernel use. A 64-bit installation is what we recommend, and the drivers need to be 64-bit to gain best performance. The 32-bit version of Win 7 has little performance advantage over Vista or XP, and the 64-bit version can be much faster.
How Far Has Microsoft Come?
If you have a hard time remembering your first version of Microsoft’s operating systems, check out the following Windows commercial from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s current CEO - he was employee number 24 when Bill Gates started the company.
For those of you who want to make the switch from Vista to Win 7, please call Efrat Networks. The upgrade should be done by our experts to confirm that this is the right move and to avoid loss of data. If you wish to buy a new computer, we can help design the right configuration to fit your needs.
November 16th, 2009
What to Know About Bezeq’s New Network
Israel’s long-time telecom monopoly, Bezeq, is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in what they claim to be the most modern communications infrastructure in the world. They are not upgrading their infrastructure, but rather installing totally new infrastructure. Bezeq is moving their Internet gateways out of their central offices and into our neighborhoods connected by fiber optic cables. Our connection to Bezeq Networks will still be through our copper phone lines, but only for the short distance to Bezeq’s street installed equipment.
This sounds exciting if all of your business and leisure online activity and communications are centered in Israel. With 15Mbps or 20Mbps fiber lines, you may experience internet like never before. However, if your business activities are in the US, these lines will not make a notable difference. The reason is that while Bezeq’s infrastructure connects us to Internet Service Providers (”ISPs”) such as Netvision, Bezeq International, and 012, these ISPs still limit their services to destinations outside of Israel at consumer grade level because of their limited bandwidth abroad and the demand for these connections.
Those of our clients who depend on the Internet for connections to their servers abroad, VoIP, and video conferencing will not benefit from Bezeq’s NGN in the near future. However, offices or families with a large number of users will find these connections beneficial because of their capacity to carry multiple streams simultaneously.
Since Bezeq has a history of premature product launches, we advise our clients to hold back on the hype until Bezeq’s new offering has a chance to mature and the bugs in the network are reduced or eliminated.
November 16th, 2009
Those of our clients who have asked our advice on home security and installed burglar alarm systems, know that we always advoc
ate a family dog as the best first line deterrant for the prevention of burglaries. Many of our clients think that we are kidding and scoff at our suggestion. Since burglary is a “silent crime” and is committed through stealthy entry into our homes and offices, the family dog then is the best detector and noise maker to deter a thief. So what do you do if the family dog, a real dog, is not an option?
Efrat Networks has solved this question by creating a barking dog alarm that connects to our security systems that when tripped sounds like a dog is behind the door, ready to attack an unsuspecting burglar. Using a combination of outside and inside detectors, we provide early warning to our clients inside their homes while dissuading potential thieves to leave well enough alone and perhaps choose another target down the street.
Ask us about our barking dogs that keep potential burglars at bay.
August 17th, 2009
Tips for Your Home and Office
In less than the minute it takes for you to read this first paragraph, a talented thief can break through your window bars or pick the best of door locks to get into your home or office. Without a well thought-out alarm system, you will return home or to your office only to discover that the thief got away with all of your valuables.
With the increase in break-ins to both homes and offices, insurance companies are now requiring the installation of alarm systems before granting insurance coverage. Efrat Networks is a leader in the installation and maintenance of both simple and complex alarm systems. We don’t view the alarm system as a “rubber stamp” for the insurance companies, but rather a way to prevent theft.
Our objective is to keep the thieves away. To do this, we like installing ‘watch-out’ detectors and ‘curtain’ sensors on the perimeter of the home. These are well known to thieves and can be installed in full view or somewhat hidden. Usually, when they see either of these devices, they will opt to avoid any attempts at a break-in.
Along with a thief, the gardener, cats, dogs, birds and other animals, can set off the alarm at the perimeter by entering the line of sight of these sensors. Efrat Networks uses special methods to prevent, or at least minimize, false alarms caused by animals. However, without an infrared camera on the house’s perimeter, you’ll never know for sure if a thief or animal set off the alarm. What is important here is that the thief will not get close enough to the house to start a break-in.
For apartments with little or no perimeters to use as protection, Efrat Networks supplies and installs wired and wireless alarm systems covering all entrances, accessable windows and the inside of the apartment. These systems can be easily activated by a keypad or a 4-button keyfob. In addition, if you leave the house and don’t remember if you set the alarm, you can set it remotely using your cell phone or any land-line phone.
If you are living in a home that is over 10 years old, a wireless alarm system will, most likely, be the best solution. Adding new wires through old tubes can be a costly challenge. On the other hand, new homes or new builds are ideal for wired alarm systems.
In today’s society, when it is no longer possible to rely on a lock and bolt to keep thieves away, Efrat Networks offers excellent and cost effective solutions to give you security and peace of mind.
August 16th, 2009
Windows Operating Systems - How to Decide
Ever since the release of the Vista operating system, Efrat Networks has received ongoing inquiries as to the benefits of Vista over Windows XP. While there actually may be some benefits, we continue to recommend to our clients to stay with XP Home or Pro. Vista is heavy with unnecessary bells and whistles that will severly slow down your computer speed.
Windows 7 is supposed to be released this Fall, and Vista will be ‘trashed’. Apparently, we’re not the only one’s who have avoided use of Vista…
Some general rules of thumb:
1) Don’t be the first on your block to have a new Microsoft Product. Microsoft relies on millions of end users to de-bug their products in the field. It pays to wait and see. Let someone else, the “first adopters”, pull out their hair on Microsoft’s new and green products.
2) If you live in Israel, rule #1 applies even more, because there are always language issues in whatever version is released. Hebrew language issues will be fixed in subsequent service packs and updates.
3) If you are forced to purchase Vista along with a new laptop, ask for Vista Pro. This version can be downgraded to XP Pro without requiring the purchase of an XP license. If you get the laptop with Vista Home and you have a spare XP license on hand, call Efrat Networks and we’ll help you to switch over to XP. However, this means that the old computer has to have its XP operating system removed before the transfer to the new computer.
4) If you are ’stuck’ with Vista Home, you should also take advantage of Efrat Networks’ expertise to help you slim it down faster than Jenny Craig can say “frozen dinner”, and we’ll help you eliminate those Vista functions that are totally useless for your day-to-day operation of your computer (close to 50% of the functions that run in your computer memory), thereby streamlining your processing speed significantly and giving you a much more pleasant overall computing experience.
To get the ball rolling with Windows 7, DELL has announced that anyone who buys a DELL computer with a Vista license from now through the end of 2009, they will be able to upgrade to Windows 7 for a discounted price of $45 + VAT. So, if you are considering buying a DELL computer, now would be a good time to speak to Efrat Networks about the purchase.
What about Windows 7?
The prize for confusing the the most sane of people goes, as expected, to Microsoft. There are six versions (!!!) of Windows 7: Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. The hype coming from Microsoft is abound, and the reviews are many. In the next few issues (we have time until the Fall), we’ll try to create some guidelines to help you decide what version to choose (if any, at all).
If you plan to buy a PC for use at home, Windows 7 Home Premium is the preferred version. It will do everything you expect Windows to do: run Windows Media Center, network your home computers and devices, support multi-touch technologies and dual-monitor setups, and more. It’s the main version for most people, for home PCs and laptops.
Home & Office Computer
If you also take your laptop to the office, you should examine the computing environment both at home and the office. For example, do you need to run legacy applications (i.e., old programs)? Do you want automatic file backups built into Windows, as opposed to using Syncplicity?
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” you should buy Windows 7 Professional. It contains all the features of Home Premium, but adds support for Domain Joining, which you may need to log on to your office’s corporate network; Windows XP Mode, which makes old software that’s incompatible with Windows 7 run as if it was running on XP; and Microsoft’s Backup and Restore Center, which is an integrated file and folder backup utility for automated backup of important files. Essentially, it’s for any computer that will spend half its life at your home, and the other half at the office.
If you’re just the average consumer with a new PC, these are the two editions to decide between. But there are four others out there.
In the next edition of Get Connected, we’ll try to clear up what they’re all about.
July 28th, 2009
How much would it have cost to buy a cucumber in the 2nd Temple Market, and what’s the price for a trendy shirt at the Machaneh Yehudah Market, now?
by Orit Shayovitz, Professional Tour Guide
Our tour will start across from the archeological park of Jerusalem, near the Temple Mount.
We will explore and experience market life next to the Temple and observe its reflections in the Jewish Midrash (ancient commentaries on Jewish scripture). The sounds and smells of the open market will certainly stand out.
On our next stop, we will find ourselves in a Roman Byzantine setting, with the two Cardos roads that were the heart of city at that time (between the 3rd and the 5th centuries). You will hear the amazing story of its discovery, and learn what the Jews have to say about Roman lifestyle and developments.
From there, we will continue into the Crusader’s market that transverses the Old City from north to south. We will find that each alley has its own unique, professional workshops, and see what we can buy there today.
Moving on, we will skip directly to the 19th century, to the market in the center of the Christian Quarter - the “Muristan”. There we can learn about Christian pilgrims’ marches and hear the story of old Mrs. Berman and how she started what later became the current Berman’s Bakery, one of the largest bakeries in Jerusalem.We will walk through the Christian Quarter’s market, that used to be a major center for textile trade, then up to the Jaffa gate, and on to the Mammilla neighborhood . The old Mammilla neighborhood that was burnt and damaged at the beginning of the War of Independence in 1947, is today, a fancy, upscale mall.
Walking through the center of town we will finally find ourselves in the most colorful and lively market in Jerusalem, the “Machane Yehuda market”. We will learn how it was established as a part of the process of expanding the city outside of the walls, and see all its hidden corners and new trendy boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
Walk and experience colorful markets - the beating heart of the city from the 2nd Temple period, through the generations in the Old City and up to the “Modern” market of Machane Yehudah.
Orit Shayovitz is a licensed tour guide, specializing in the unique and often hidden sites of Jerusalem. If you wish to contact Orit, please send us a message and we’ll be happy to pass it along.