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Low cost way to speed up your computers

POS SOFTWARE

Computer RAM

 

Point of sale computers needs to run fast particularly at the front counter. If you’re thinking about a cheap way of speeding up your computers, then almost certainly adding more RAM to your computer will do more to speed up your computer than any other upgrade you can make. 

 

 

 

 

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Next month Windows 7 End-of-Life

POS SOFTWARE

Windows 7 end of life popup

Next month, Windows 7 users will start getting pop up reminders from Microsoft that Windows 7 will no longer be supported after January 2020 and that its life is up after ten years.  

If you want to know more then, I found this excellent article which discusses in depth the details. 

Windows 7 Users of End of Support Date

We recommend that if you are still running Windows 7, that you update to Windows 10 as most computers that can run Windows 7 can run Windows 10. It does not involve for most of you a change in the computer.

So our server runs Windows 7 professional - will this no longer be supported as well??

Thanks for showing your interest in updates...it's a very important to update in windows.Thanks to sharing this information with us.

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Ripped receipts

POS SOFTWARE

Receipt_message.png

One problem I have noticed is that sometimes people ripping a receipt or if two purchases come in quick succession, they give one customer two receipts. So if you are thinking of updating your point of sale receipt printer, one option I recommend is that you look at one with an automatic paper cutter. It makes it much easier to use as receipts come out pre-separated. In the past, the cutter used to be sometimes a big problem but the modern printers have solved most of the problems and now mostly guaranteed for over a million-plus cuts

 

 

 

 

 

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Anti virus and old versions of windows

POS SOFTWARE

Microsoft antivirus no longer supports XP, AVG anti-virus no longer supports XP, AVAST no longer supports XP,  etc. Most no longer support Windows 7 either. 

As such some of our clients, of our point of sale software are running into a problem that old versions of windows are no longer supported and now it appears that most of the antivirus companies are not supporting XP either.  This leaves them open to most viruses and ransomware. 

For these users, I am recommending

 

360 total security

Qihoo 360 Total Security

It is a free product for commercial use, it has no licenses, no expiration and no hidden fees. It is also a first-class product which runs on just about any computer and is fast. 

 

 

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Ransomware

POS SOFTWARE


 

Currently, I estimate that every month we have at least one point of sale client having issues regarding Ransomware and unfortunately many of our customers are falling victim to Ransomware attacks. We have had three (3) such attacks this week.

Our support manager Phil has put together step by step notes for you.

 

What it does

This form of attack encrypts all of your data and prevents you from using your computer unless you pay a fee. If this happens to be your server then this means your shop will not be able to trade.

What to do

Your only other option is to reformat your server and restore from a backup.

However, in many cases, we are finding that despite our best efforts there are no backups available as they too have been encrypted.

 

What can you do about it?

 

Your choice of Operating System

Firstly you should think about the version of Windows you use in your store. Windows 10 has a lot of features built in that make it much harder for Ransomware to take hold of your system.

 

If you are not running Windows 10 in your store, especially on your server and the computers you use to connect to the internet, then you should consider upgrading these as soon as possible.

 

While not as good, if you must or insist on running Windows 7, you should at least ensure that all Windows Updates have been installed. Windows Update includes many security patches, some of which may stop Ransomware from taking hold of your system.

 

In Windows 7, Click the Start button and in the run (or search box) type “windows update” and then press enter.

Click on the Check for updates and install updates button.

Windows Update may want you to restart your computer at some point and you should do so.

Remember that if this is your server then your shop will not be able to trade while your server is restarting.

When you have restarted, repeat the above process until there are no more updates to install.

 

If you are running Windows XP, then you are leaving yourself wide open to attacks from Ransomware. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in April 2014, so for five years there has not been any security updates for this operating system.  There is little you can do apart from replacing the computer with one that has Windows 10 as its operating system.

Make sure you have a backup

 

Ransomware attacks are happening, and as much as you may try to prevent them, it may happen to you. If it does, you either have to pay up and encourage these criminals to continue their actions or have someone reformat and reinstall your computer system.

 

Reformatting and in reinstalling the operating system is the easy part. What nobody can replace is the data. Your customers, stock, sales history etc.

 

To protect yourself and ensure you will be able to replace this, you should be taking a regular backup copy of your data and remove it from your network so that Ransomware cannot access it.

 

I will deal with Posbrowser, but you should also find out how to do the same with your other important data such as your accounting and payroll data and any documents you may store on your local hard drive.

 

Posbrowser uses SQL server. One of the features of SQL server is that you can take online backups.

This means that you can take a backup without having to bring the system offline and stop trading.

 

So find a time during the day, a regular time. 

Also, find a USB stick. Now go to your server and plug in the USB stick.

 

Open Posbrowser and from the main menu select System Maintenance / Backup and Restore.

In the “Backup to a location” section click the three dots and navigate to the USB drive you just plugged in and click OK.

Note that if the three dots are greyed out, you are NOT on your server!

 

 

Then click the Backup button and the backup will start.

Wait until you see a message telling you the Backup was complete.

 

 

 

If you see any other message, you should contact POS Solutions Support for advice.

 

When it finishes,

DO NOT JUST TAKE OUT THE USB STICK – REMEMBER TO EJECT IT SAFELY.

This is the only way you can ensure that the backup has been written to the USB stick correctly.

 

If you want to be double sure, after you have removed the USB stick, you can insert it again and restore the backup to your training system via the “Restore to Training” tab in the Backup and Restore document.

 

When you have removed the USB drive, place it in a safe place, and DO NOT put it into a computer again until you are ready to do another backup of your system.  Don’t let Ransomware have a chance to get access to it.

Even if this backup is a couple of days old, because you are not in on the weekend, it is a lot better than having nothing at all.

You should take the time and make an effort to protect the most valuable part of your business – your data.

 

 

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XP almost dead

POS SOFTWARE

Recently Touch, a major supplier of electronic services in our market space announced it was dropping XP. This is the last major supplier left that was using XP. The reason is just that there are not enough users of XP to justify the cost of supporting it.

Windows Australian Market

Source: StatCounter Global Stats - Windows Version Market Share

As you can see in Australia, it has dropped from almost 60% in 2010 to 1% usage. 1% cannot pay for much which is the problem here. The other problem is that most computer suppliers of hardware and software have long dropped XP. I know that one of our competitors is now telling to all its XP users that they have to upgrade and are planning soon an increase in support fees to those that people that stay on Windows XP. 

We are not advocating the use of Windows XP now.  Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP, it has limited support by antivirus software and so is an insecure and out-of-date operating system. 

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Wireless security cameras

POS SOFTWARE

What is saving retail now are security cameras from shoplifting, it seems to be the only evidence that the courts are accepting. However, have a read here on monitoring and the law if you have or intend to have cameras.

For retailers, the best security systems are those that are directly connected to your point of sale software. With such a system if for example, a customer said, I gave you a $50 and you gave me change from $20, well you just press a button on the cash register, find the transaction and playback it back. Every till should have one.

However, there are many more places to cover than the till for example the shop itself, the front and exit of the shop, the back room and some parts outside. For these often you need wireless security cameras.

They have one great advantage that they are easy to move around. However unlike wired security cameras, wireless security camera are funny things, you install in one shop a few and they work perfectly, you put the same cameras into a similar shop and it is nothing but trouble so we have to pull them out and replace them.

Here are some points

Map out your requirements on paper.

Do it carefully as I assure you that paper will get a lot of use. Try to draw it to scale if possible.

Now, put on the paper where you feel the cameras should go, generally, to save cost people follow the power points as much as possible. 

Now measure the range of these camera positions to your camera base. You will need to know the range before you can buy the camera.  What you also need to determine where you will need a narrow vision and where you need a wide-angle camera.  If you are not sure the salesman can tell you what cameras they have for such range and angles.

If you are in an area of a lot of WIFI you need to make sure that it will operate in these areas. I have seen WIFI security cameras fail in shopping centres.

Camera requirements

You want cameras that are easy to install and setup. Over their lifetime, you are going to want to move them around. This, after all, is the point of having them wireless.

Most important it is easy to change the Date and Time, you do not want to have to try to explain to a judge why the alleged robbery took place at this time but why your camera showing a different time. If you are in an area that has daylight savings you, make sure your camera has daylight savings enabled and check to make sure it does automatically adjust the cameras time. 

I would say 1080p should be the standard resolution that you should use. With prices today there is little savings going much lower and often you need that extra resolution. Remember a shoplifter can be out of your shop in seconds and you need often to make an instant decision. 

Check how good the motion cameras sensor is, you do not want lags.

Make sure the camera got decent night vision, you do not want anything that looks grainy. Some of these cameras have a function that I love when it is dark a red light like a gun shines out, it helps to deter undesirables as they can see the cameras are working.

Final note

Much of the camera software supplied by the security companies are full of bugs. I would not count on it despite what the specifications say. 

How much to budget?

Impossible to say for the $800 they spent it was much for what they need, others that spent $20,000 will sigh and say that it was not enough.

 

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Your old printers do not work

POS SOFTWARE

Old printers being prepared for the tip

Something goes wrong in the computer and attached to it say was a point of sale receipt printer which although old worked well and now suddenly it no longer works. This is happening with all versions of windows although the problem is much worse on the old versions of windows.

Here is why:

Your old printer works through a driver which is a software package written by the manufacturer of your printer. This driver then talks to Windows. As windows updates, these drivers often need changing however there are several issues.

1) Manufacturers of printers often no longer update the drivers required to get the older printers to work with the latest Windows updates. After say five (5) years they just stop doing it. Their view is that you need to get a new printer.

2) Sometimes the manufacturers of the printer, just have not got around to fixing the driver. It can take time before their users notify them of a problem, before they can verify it, before their programmers can write a fix, before it can check the changes and then time before it can be released. In the meantime your printer is unusable.

3) If your brand is obscure, it may not be trusted by Microsoft so Microsoft does not support it and distribute it. 

However, now there is a new problem.

Microsoft will start excluding printers from the upgrade process.

 

Microsoft is moving to a new standard in printers "Mopria" and is dropping support for many of the old printers. This is stated as due to lack of space which is true but I am sure it is partly that Microsoft has had enough of supporting the old stuff.

If you have an old printer that is not working here are three tips that might work.

1) Try using advanced setup

2) Try installing the printer manually from the manufacturer's website.

3) Try installing a printer driver for a printer that is similar to yours. Generally, you will not get all the functions but you may get the functions you need.

Failing that get a new printer. 

The picture above is of old printers that worked being prepared to go to the tip.

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Today is "Clean Out Your Computer Day"

POS SOFTWARE

It is a fun holiday but it has a real and necessary purpose.

Like much else mechanical, dirt, smoke, dust and pet hair can damage your computer. In a computer generally, the problem is two-fold

1) These products settle on your computer components and as they are an insulator act as a blanket and making the computer run hotter then it is designed to run. What this does is reduce its life expectancy and cause parts of your computer like the memory, the processor and the power supply to misbehaviour or stop working. I have seen several short circuits of delicate electrical components caused by dust too generally in the CD and DVDs. 

As a rule, try to put a computer in a clean location, near a fireplace, where your dog sits on, dusty place, etc is not suggested.

In an effort to overcome the heat what the computer does is push the fan to run faster which can cause the fan to break from overuse which brings us to the second problem

2) The computer has several moving parts and vents mainly in the ventilation system. The dust, hair etc can reduce the ventilation system efficiency. If enough cold air cannot come in then the computer is going to run hot. If they jam the fan they can break it too.

As a rule, try to put a computer in a spot where its air vent has access to cold airflow. Next to heating vent is not suggested.

Now, what can you do about the dust already in the computer?

If you have seen the movie Zoolander and this is you on the computer mechanics, now stop reading and ask someone else to help out.

Here is a video that I do suggest the person cleaning your computer views first and remember there is a good reason why this holiday was set up on a Monday if something goes wrong on a weekday you can get professional help if something goes really wrong.

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More companies dropping support for Win XP

POS SOFTWARE

 

If you sell Telco products through Touch systems, Touch now requires that all their clients upgrade to the new version.

The kicker is that the new version requires Win 7 or Win 10 which means that the software will not run on an XP  computer.

One point to consider is that the wholesale price is always set to $0 in the new version which means that some reports will show all sales as 100% profit.  Also, there is no GST coming through but as all Touch products are GST free anyway this is not an issue.

 

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