Archive for November, 2009
Monday, 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.
Monday, 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…
Monday, 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.
Monday, 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.
Monday, 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.
Monday, 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.