In This Issue
Over the years Blueprint have been through our fair share of ups and downs, most of them due to changes within the company. We have weathered these internal storms and continued on with our mission to provide excellent and reliable IT support to our customers. We now see the current economic downturn affecting so many businesses, customers and suppliers alike, across a wide spectrum. Now is the time to take steps to ensure your business survives and is prepared for the turnaround which will eventually come.
There is a lot of information available on the web and elsewhere giving advice on how to manage businesses through a downturn. They include strategies such as:
The underlying theme of all of these is to keep a positive attitude, operate as close as possible to normal and continue to plan ahead.
During the downturn many businesses will be holding back on capital expenditure to help preserve cash which is why the Government brought in an investment allowance tax break – see our article below. Despite this tax break, businesses may still feel the need to hold off on major projects such as IT network upgrades. So how do you keep your current systems running efficiently and keep your costs down while you wait for things to improve? Here are some suggestions:
One word of caution – as there are businesses closing up shop and selling off their plant and equipment, it will be tempting to grab a bargain from these sales. Just remember to check that IT equipment purchased in this way is compatible with your current system – it may seem like a bargain at the time but the cost of installing and getting the item to work on your network may far outweigh the cost of just buying a new item. If in doubt check with us first before making a purchase of this kind.
Good luck and remember, Blueprint are here to help in any way we can.
Blueprint Technologies Australia
Help in a Time of Need
This article has been submitted with kind thanks to:
State Executive Officer
Girl Guides Queensland
What can I say? When the State Office of Girl Guides Queensland was swamped with nearly 1 metre of flood water on Wednesday 20 May 2009, I felt that the Blueprint staff were working alongside us as we desperately saved our computers and as much of our office equipment and files as possible.
When it became obvious that our office would be flooded, we called Blueprint for advice and guidance on what to do with our computer system to avoid devastation. Their instructions were fast, clear and precise. We safely closed down our server, disconnected all 14 computers and moved our IT equipment upstairs. The water rose from floor level to desk top height in just 12 minutes throughout our building. The water entered through the front door, 2 side doors and a roller door almost simultaneously.
At some point in the early stages of this drama, Blueprint called to ensure we had been successful in saving our equipment and to check that the 3 staff left in the building were actually safe!
The following day, Blueprint collected our server and 4 of our PCs. By the following day, they had relocated our server in their own premises and had us operating albeit on a limited basis! Amazing stuff! They even made some office space available to us if required.
Ron Llewellyn from Blueprint prepared detailed instructions on how to remotely access our server, our emails and the internet. I was blown away by their professionalism and their determination to help minimise the impact of the flood on us operationally.
Once we found temporary premises, Ron, Soren, Dan and Mitch stepped up again and project managed the installation of data and telephone cables with the assistance of Iain Morris from CCS Communications – another amazing organisation that seemed to drop everything to fast track our requirements.
The team then worked closely with us every step of the way to ensure that we had computers and telephones installed and fully operational within record time. From a disaster recovery point of view, Blueprint provided exceptional service and support – well above my hopes and expectations.
Finally, just to put all this in perspective, I have since realised that this level of service and support is what we were normally received from Blueprint. Outstanding!
Thanks Ron, Iain and your dedicated teams.
The story above is a chilling account of how quickly disaster can strike. As you can see from the photos, there was significant damage to office equipment and files. Thankfully though no-one was injured, almost all of the equipment was salvaged and no data was lost. Not all disaster stories end on such a positive note as Paul’s account does.
We’ve included this story to serve as a reminder for you to review your Disaster Recovery plans. Are your backups working? Does someone check them daily and periodically perform a test restore? What would happen to your business if your office was destroyed as in Paul’s account. What if your computer equipment was destroyed too? How long would it take for you to get your business operational again? What would be the impact on your business if your information systems were out of action for days or weeks? What plans can you put in place to ensure that the impact of such an event is minimised? If you have Disaster Recovery plans, have they been tested or updated lately?
Hopefully Paul’s story and these questions will not alarm you, but compel you to make preparations.
Call Ron or Soren to discuss how we can help you with your Disaster Recovery planning.
Email Notifications and System Alerts
You may or may not know that there are applications running in the background of your network that keep an eye on things and make sure everything is working the way it should. These applications produce notification and alert emails to let you know events such as:
Our maintenance program customers have these emails sent directly to Blueprint’s support and maintenance mailbox where our engineers can attend to them. Other customer’s systems may have been set up to send these emails to our support mailbox or they may go to an in-house staff member - depending on the requirements when your system was set up.
As these alerts can sometimes be critical and need urgent attention it is important ask yourself:
If you aren't sure if your system is being monitored by the right person/people call Ron or Soren to arrange a review. Don't assume everything will be ok - be sure!
Small Business Tax Break
As most of you would have already heard the Government, as part of their stimulus package, have provided a boost to small businesses in the form of a tax break. Small businesses are able to claim a bonus tax deduction for eligible assets purchased between 31 December 2008 and 31 December 2009. This tax break was originally set at 30% but in the recent budget it was increased to 50% meaning that a small business can buy, for example, a new work vehicle for $30,000 and claim a $15,000 deduction on their next tax return in addition to normal depreciation.
The tax break applies to any “tangible asset” costing $1,000 or more and includes IT equipment such as servers, PC’s, laptops, network hardware and storage. Due to the downturn in the economy, many businesses have been reducing expenditure and putting off capital spending such as IT upgrades. The bonus may be just the thing to help businesses update their equipment, putting them in a better position to concentrate on moving forward as the economy begins to recover.
Full details of the tax break can be found on the ATO website here and the press release from the Treasurer is available here. As there are various qualifications to be met and restrictions (e.g. software is not included) we would recommend contacting your accountant to see if your business is eligible and to find out more about what you can claim. Alternatively, you can call the tax office Business Tax Break Infoline on 1300 337 921.
What is Terminal Services and how can it save you time and money?
Terminal Services is a built-in feature of the Microsoft Windows Server operating system. The benefits of running a terminal services environment can be viewed from two perspectives – a saving of both time and of money.
Time-wise, terminal services allows applications to be installed, configured, managed and maintained centrally on one or more servers and removes the necessity to install (and configure, manage and maintain) applications on every computer throughout your organisation. Whenever an update or patch for an application is released, it is simply a matter of running that update on the server. Depending on the size of your business, this strategy can result in a huge saving in time, as well as less downtime, simpler troubleshooting and more productive staff.
From a cost saving perspective, since applications in a terminal services environment run on the server, end user computers only need minimal processing and storage requirements. Staff simply log on to a terminal services session from any computer on the network or even a remote or home office and then access the applications they need as normal. The cost saving here is that older desktop computers can be kept in use for longer and when they are eventually retired can be replaced with a thin client. Thin clients are basically a dumb terminal, they have no moving parts, cannot be virus infected and are cheaper to buy and maintain than a standard PC. Another saving is lower costs for IT support due to the reduced amount of maintenance required on individual computers.
A further benefit of terminal services is the ability for staff working from home or while out in the field to log in to the server remotely and work on files or applications as if they were still at the office. This has several advantages including: no need to copy or download files to work on at home or in the field, ability to collaborate on projects easily and reduced risk of introducing viruses from files copied from one computer to another.
If you need any more convincing to change to a terminal services environment, please don’t hesitate to call us. Ron or Soren will be only too happy to answer your questions.
brought to you by Tash
The newest thing around our office is the HP Pavilion series notebook – definitely the slickest laptops we’ve ever seen. They come in a wide range of screen sizes (ours are 14” with high definition wide-screen) with integrated wireless switch, webcam and microphone built into the sleek 2.5 kg case. The case is pretty cool in itself, coming in limited edition artist designs covered in dragons and samurais, as well as regular edition (which is still pretty fancy). Its glossy coating does attract quite a few fingerprints, but protects against scratches.
The Pavilion comes preinstalled with Vista Home Premium, so get used to it. The notebook makes excellent use of Windows Media Centre, with media touch buttons at the top of the keyboard for easy access as well as a remote, so you can treat your lappy like a portable DVD or MP3 player. For a reasonable price, most models have very capable specs – 2GB RAM standard, 256MB dedicated graphics, and 250GB hard drives for the most basic laptops. They aren’t easily upgradeable, but HP has a very helpful support base.
If you’re looking for something to sling around the house, and take down the coffee shop, the Pavilion series will be a great choice.
Printer Consumables Recycling
We have recently registered to have a Cartridges4Planet Ark bin at Blueprint's Fortitude Valley office. According to Planet Ark's website there are over 18 million printer consumables used by Australians every year with up to 80% of these being thrown into landfill. By putting your empty/used printer cartridges into our bin you will be helping to reduce this huge amount of waste going into landfill.
What can be recycled? - Inkjet and laser cartridges, toner bottles, drum kits, fuser kits, fax, photocopier or printer cartridges.
All of these items are processed by Close the Loop, who recycle all imaging consumables back to raw materials, achieving zero waste to landfill.
Drop off Point - you are more than welcome to drop your used cartridges off at our Fortitude Valley office (Level 1, 131 Robertson Street), alternatively you can give them to any of our Engineers when they are next at your office for an onsite visit.
How to Contact us
Our team are happy to assist with any enquiries you might have.
|phone||(07) 3852 1250|
|freecall (QLD Callers)||1800 064 906|
|fax||(07) 3852 1194|
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