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POS SOFTWARE

Surveys have shown small businesses believe that poor internet impedes efficiency and productivity. Almost all in Australia today feel the same. Now, how far you want to go on your internet is something for you to determine. I want to discuss the minimum internet your business should accept in our market space. 

This post will not apply if you use our cloud-based POS system. Nor will it apply if you do more than our POS Software. 

Situation

Now many internet providers offer internet plans designed for businesses. Few are that relevant in our market space; however, they often have an option of linking the phone to the internet plan. Having all your voice and internet services from one point of contact is nice. 

For our clients, they need to run
1) Updates of products and invoices from suppliers 
2) Email 
3) Updates of their software

Now, after that, you should add your requirements. I would include 
4) Zoom

Speed:
Be warned many of the advertised speeds are dubious. Use it as a guide only.

So I recommend an internet plan with at least 25 Mbps to do this. 50 MBps is better, and the cost is not much more. 

Data:
10 Gig/month would be the smallest, but this depends on what you do with your internet. For example, if you do a lot of Facebook, it does not take much to burn up a lot of data. 

One trap here is that if you use only a little data with a small plan and someone uses heaps for some reason, then some internet providers charge. I had a client babysit their eight-year-old daughter in the shop during COVID lockdown. When the bill came in for youtube, they freaked out. A $1,000+ bill.


Support: 
You need to check this. Some internet providers provide 24-hour-a-day support and most much less. Do not assume that you will give 24-hour-a-day support because they are big. 

Some do not offer telephone support at all. 

On-site, this is something you need to check; there are often big advantages to getting someone to come to you. 

I had a client whose internet broke. It was a 4G system. The internet got them to check the modem and its settings. Then a reactivation was done. It still did not work. When they rang back, they rechecked the same stuff. After a few times of this, they decided it was either the SIM or the modem. The SIM was $20, and the mobile was a few hundred. So they asked for SIM, three days later with no internet the SIM came. The new SIM did not help. Then the internet provider rechecked the same stuff, then another reactivation. It did not help. So they asked about a new modem and were told it would take a few days and a few hundred dollars. The problem was that they did not know whether it was the modem. So they asked if they could buy a modem nearby. No, they were told as the modem had to take their internet provider's SIM to work. Then they contact us. We told them their internet provider was an Optus reseller, so go to Optus. So they went to a nearby Optus shop. The Optus guy checked the SIM it was fine. Put the SIM into one of their modems, and it worked, so they brought it on the spot. It was also a bit cheaper from Optus as there was no delivery fee. In one hour, the problem was solved. Sometimes you need a person on site. Score: Five days no internet. 

Security:
Years ago, I had a client in Cairns whose internet provider did the dirty on him and many other clients. Only knew about it when the police came about it. I do not see what you can do about it. If you are worried about it, look at a VPN, which will not solve the problem as it moves the problem from the internet provider to the VPN provider. Really who can we trust here? An employee in Twitter was recently convicted of selling the personal user information of dissidents to the Saudis. In Australia this is serious but to a Saudi this is dangerous. I have a client who tells me they never discuss anything political on the net or phone with their relatives in Iran.

Growth:
Do not worry about it. You can always upgrade your internet, although this might be a problem if you have selected a two-year plan.

NBN or 4G:
I have seen problems with both, in fact, any such system. Over the years, I have come to hate the NBN. Speeds are comparable, although often 4G is faster. 

I will say this a 4G system is less reliable, but if something goes wrong, 4G is fixed, something I cannot say about the NBN. 

I am also sceptical of NBN with a 4G backup. When the NBN goes down, often, they do not switch to the 4G backup. 

Reliability: 

The best question is, I left to last, how much will it cost you if the internet goes down? 

Almost every business will experience several outages yearly, e.g. power outages, server issues and software. I have had clients that have gone down for a few minutes, hours, days and weeks. One last week was down for five days, and I will talk about their experience soon.

Now, what will it mean to you if your internet is down? To some people, it's an inconvenience; to others, it is a significant revenue loss. One shop had a string of deliveries to do in the morning. The owner told me of his frustration when he lost hours when his guys were sitting around doing nothing. Downtime can cost a business. 

I hope this is of use.

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POS SOFTWARE

Today with the staff situation, many people have been hired with vision problems. If anyone in the shop has an eye problem, send them straight to the nearest eye doctor. No need for a referral and do not worry, Medicare rebates are available. Eye problems you do not want to take lightly. 

Recently I got glaucoma and lost 50% of my right eye. If it had not been for lockdown with COVID, it would never have happened, but it happened. I am not the only one. The eye hospital was full of people. We are getting older, our vision is starting to deteriorate, and many of us need to make changes to our screens to make them easier to see.

As everyone with low vision has a different problem so there is no one solution for everyone as everyone is different.

What I regularly do for clients is set the windows wallpaper to something dark. This makes the icons on the monitor easier to see. I try to remove as many icons as possible to make it less busy; the simpler, the better for a business computer.

If people must have a picture, I tell them to put it in the middle of the screen and have the icons on the side.

We also have a range of bigger screens for people with poor eyesight, which helps immensely.

If this is a problem for someone in your shop, I found this youtube that you should go over. It has many good ideas.

As a rule with some effort, we have been able to get over this problem.

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POS SOFTWARE

Win10.jpg

A printer problem has appeared in the latest Windows 10 update. It certainly had its share of problems of late. The problem has been that hackers looking at Windows 11 have found security holes not fixed in Windows 10. So Microsoft has been fixing many security holes to make it as secure as Windows 11. Unfortunately, some of these updates are harmful.

The big problem now for us now is the printers.

If you have not done the Windows 10 update, hold off for a while, as I am sure a fix will come through soon. We notified Microsoft, but I am sure that we are not the only ones.

If you are running Windows 10 and have problems with your printer, please try the following.

Firstly verify that it is this problem and not another problem so:

- Check that everything is in order, the printer cables, that it is properly connected and paper is in. 

- Switch off everything and try again. This often seems to fix everything.

Still got a problem, give us a call.

Comments

Is the problem to do with paper feed?
As of Wednesday my Fuji Xerox CM315 z wont print and keeps on telling me that there is a paper jam when there is not.
we have tried everything and the only way to print is by having one sheet in the tray and then helping the rollers feed the paper through with a little push
Regards
Hans

Hans, this windows problem has to do with ports. It certainly sounds like a roller problem.

Turn off the electricity. Then open the printer up. Use a microfiber cloth and a moist wipe to wipe the rollers, Do not use a paper towel! Move the rollers around so you clean all of it. Now just in case clean the printer bed too. 

Now try again, if it is still a problem you need to talk to our technicians. 

 

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POS SOFTWARE

I know we have been waiting about months for them to come yet presently they are here. 

These have a customer-facing screen that faces customers at the point of sale. Most large retailers use them.  Often in a three-in-one unit like this one.

These ones are available in two sizes, a 15-inch and 17 inches. A major addition is that you get a touchscreen included.

Here are some benefits that it gives you

-Touch screens
-Look extremely modern.
-Made for retail environments so they are tougher than most screens.
-It helps build customer trust, as the customer can see what you have put in while you are doing it.
-It speeds up the queue as the customer will have many of their queries answered on the screen, eg the price of a product or whether a markdown was applied. 
-It gives you an aura of professionalism. 

Want to know more, let us know.

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POS SOFTWARE

 

This is a picture, I took of the latest All-in-one system.

Here are some advantages

Space: They are compact. It only takes on the bottom about 20 cm long of space while the screen height is adjustable. This makes them convenient as everything you need is together in one smart design. This saves space. This is great if you have only a limited front counter space. S giving more room for displaying impulse items on the front counter.

Modern: Besides looking modern, they also look stylish. We all go to a lot of trouble to make our shop look good for customers, old computers and monitors make a bad impression.

Ergonomic design: Experts designed them to be easier to use. This makes your operation more convenient. After many hours on the front counter, this is something the operators do appreciate.

Life expectancy: Retail is a tough environment, it is often dirty and people tend to be rough handling them. Computers are designed for an airconditioned office. All-in-ones are made for the tough retail environment. This means that their life expectancy tends to be longer.

What these ones also come with is the customer-Facing Display.

It is a high-definition customer-facing screen.

So while customers are waiting instead of feeling impatient they can be engaged. If you want you can use this display to show custom advertisements. Here it is being used to allow the customer to review their transaction.

If you are looking for something to improve your system, gives us a call and take a look at these. You will be impressed.

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POS SOFTWARE

My post on monitors brought up some comments and discussions.

At least with us, there is a difference between the monitors we recommend for business purposes and those we recommend for home use.

If a monitor breaks down at home and needs a few days or a week to fix, it is not disastrous. They generally run in clean environments, so dust and dirt are not issues. Nor is the temperature a problem as it's a controlled environment. Plus, people do treat them better.

In business, often none of this is true, particularly at the front counter.

) What is required is an easy service to reduce downtime. You are paying people by the hour to do a job, and whether they are working flat out or working slowly, it costs you the same.

) The continuous glass surface should have reinforced front glass. I have seen many screens broken, it is dangerous.

) It should be silicon sealed. Dust and dirt are everywhere. This also allows for easy cleaning and increases its reliability.

) It should be "true flat" if it's touch.

 

There are horses for courses.

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POS SOFTWARE

​There are three main types of monitors—Square, widescreen and ultrawide screens on the market now.

You can see the problem often when running your computer you get black bands around the active screen. Some application uses square and some uses widescreen.

Until recently, except in Point of Sale (POS), the market has been moving to wider screens.

The problem in a shop counter space is a premium. A widescreen shows less for the same size, so POS software is generally designed for square.

Now what is happening is that the new monitors for POS are switching from square to widescreen. The main reason for this push from square to widescreen is cost. Monitor manufacturers can save money using the same parts for computer monitors and TVs. Also, widescreens are cheaper to produce for the size.

So if you want a square monitor, you will soon have to pay more.

If you are buying a monitor, I suggest you buy a widescreen because the change is inevitable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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POS SOFTWARE

We are updating our recommended computer specifications, so these below are suggestions only. 

But, if you intend to buy some hardware soon, please talk to us first. 

Current situation

Windows 11 and the coming mass introduction of 4k monitors will mean that much of the existing computer equipment out there is going out of date. 

Keeping your computing technology up-to-date ensures that you will run the latest software.  If all you want to do is continue running what you have, make sure you are not renting software. Overall count on no updates soon for much of your existing software.

Here are my recommended computer specifications for what you should consider before making a purchase.

Anything running Windows 8 or early is asking for trouble, you need Windows 10 and 11 now.

As for Windows 11, you need 1 gigahertz (GHz) so if you are being offered anything less than an i7, forget it.   

The added problem is all your computers should run the latest anti-virus software. These to run fast need modern computers and is the main reason older computers run slow. 

We recommend Windows Defender, which is free.

SQL

It would be best if you ran at least SQL 2016

Besides, old versions of SQL are slowing you down now.

Monitors

You spend most of your time interacting with your computer through the monitor. All your monitors now should have a resolution of 1920x1080, although 1280x1024 should work for a while. Anything less needs replacement. 

An added plus is that you and your staff will enjoy the larger monitors. They are great if someone eyesight is starting to fail, plus because the screen is bigger, it gives less strain on the eyes. 

RAM 

Want an instant performance boost? Adding more RAM is the easiest and cheapest way to upgrade your computer. It is affordable. You can do it on almost any computer. 

So, how much RAM do you need?

- 8GB for a register

- For heavier duty computers, e.g. servers, you should look to 16GB for best results.

Make sure you get the right RAM for your computer.

Speed up your computer with an SSD

If your computer still runs with a mechanical hard drive HHD, this SSD offers you high-speed start-up times and fast data transmission. 

So I would not buy a computer without an SSD drive today.

If you have not got an SSD drive on the server, get one. It will speed up everything.

As a bonus, you can keep the HDD for stuff that you need less speed.

Touchscreens 

These are great in business environments, much easier and quicker to use. It will not speed up the computer but speed up your data entry.

A modern graphics card

If you do graphics or play computer games, this will reduce the load on your computer processing, often speeding up your computer. 

Improve your cooling

Although not a speed issue, a noisy fan is painful over time. If you have one of these, consider replacing it. 

The big problem here is that hot computers tend to run slow. Check the vents to make sure that the air is circulating. If not, then clean the computer if required. 

Coolers may be an option as they have gotten much better over the last few years and are cheaper. Plus they will give more life to your computer.

keyboards and mice

These are tough to decide. I have used several of the latest gaming keyboards and mice. I have not noticed any improvement. 

Plus, I find them annoying. 

So I prefer the older ones, yet many do like them. So I leave this to personal taste.

Internet speeds

This is something that everyone complains about, and it is tough to say anything here. For many people, $60/month the internet provided is overkill, and to others, $20,000/month with a direct link to the USA is not good enough. Although it's a bit pricey if you want more speed, many of my clients are delighted with the Starlink offer. Soon I am sure NBN will be obsolete for people that need speed. 

So I leave this to personal need too.

I hope this all helps and let me know what you think.

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POS SOFTWARE

In 1987, you got on a super special for $2250 a DOS computer, with a 20 meg hard drive, a cheap printer and a black and white monitor. From memory, $20,000 was a decent salary, so it was worth about two months after-tax.  

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POS SOFTWARE

There are a lot of headlines about an internet server exploit, the Log4j.

The problem:

Many devices, e.g. cars, fridges, mobile phones, internet servers, etc., use java's programming language. Now, if a fridge, few would worry. A car, maybe.   But, if it is a server or mobile phone, what can happen is this. You do something on them. Now some of these might have a hacked version of Log4j. If so, a hacker may execute a command, e.g. to send them your account name and password.

The immediate problem is that not much can be done about it. How do you know if java is running? If so, is Log4j used? If so, what version of Log4j is used? If an old version, has it been hacked?

Solution:
None exists that is why everyone is worried. 

Once the word got out, we were not worried about our systems as we do not use java much. Then it turned out that we were possibly affected so we brought down all our systems and checked them. We were okay. 

We have checked our systems and they will not cause you problems with Log4j.

Also, I can tell you how to check it with a caveat that if this checking program here is hacked, you are opening yourself to a hack by running this. So only use it, if you must. I have used this on my computer, but our system administrator refuses to run it on our servers. 

As such, I am recommending our clients wait and be careful.

For example, I am not doing internet banking for a few days, and then I will change some of my internet passwords.

Update:

Log4j, now it turns out to be a bigger problem as it can get into the Cpanel, which is the guts of most of the internet. So the computer does not need even to be running java.

Also since this affects older versions, you need to be on the latest version of Windows 10. Microsoft no longer gives security updates for older versions of Windows 10. 

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