Sometime in the last two weeks my father had overnight been unable to access MSN, Hotmail and Windows Updates. The problem also extended to him not being able to connect to me using the NTR remote connection software that we use, however he did still have VNC installed.
Once he connected to me via reverse VNC and I'd confirmed that he had made no changes to system, been hijjacked or infected. We left it overnight to see if it was a transient problem.
It wasn't. He is with AOL broadband and apparently they have have made some changes.
The MTU settings in the Netgear router they supplied are the source of the problem.
This is how to fix it:
- Locate the control panel for your Netgear router, standard address ** is http://192.168.0.1
- Open a web browser and log in to the control panel, standard username and password are admin and password
- Scroll down the left hand side and find the menu option called Advanced Setup and then click on WAN Setup
- Scroll down that page and find the option MTU and change the value in the box to 1400 (it was set to 1458)
- Apply the settings - this also reboots the router - and you're all done.
** if it is not at the standard address you can find it out by determining your default gateway.
On a Windows machine:
- Go to Start, then Run (or use the search box in Vista) and type in cmd then press enter.
- In the black window that pops up type in ipconfigand press enter.
- In the results that follow the Default Gateway is clearly listed, make a note of this and return to the steps above.
On a Apple machine see this article: How to find your router on an Apple Mac
I get a few people ask me (usually in social situations where I'm trying to think about anything other than work!), "What is the cheapest office set-up I can do?" for their new small business. runPCrun are many things, and while we believe we are the best solution considering time,cost and quality, we happily admit we're not necessarily the cheapest solution and this can be important when starting a cash-starved first business. After all, engineer time costs money, and custom solutions can take plenty of time and work, especially when having to consider existing infrastructure, user ability, the budget for the coming year and so forth.
However, if you don't have an existing solution, you have the opportunity to start afresh without having to worry about legacy issues or other issues about moving and migrating your data. This is the viewpoint I will be addressing this article from. (as migrations are a whole different ball game). That, or you just do it yourself and get your hands dirty!
The solutions I am presenting are cheap, and they can all be set up with little or no technical expertise.
There are many cheap broadband solutions these days. Just remember that a lot of these cheap or free broadband offers are great when they work, but can cause grief when they don't. If price is your main criteria then great, but don't expect A1 service if/when there is a problem. We believe since broadband is important these days it's worth going with a quality supplier,and you can find them here at ISPreview.co.uk. (We personally recommend Andrews and Arnold* for a good service and reliability and BeThere* for fast, unmetered and cheap)
Broadband is very easy to install these days, a supplier will simply send you a pre-configured router which you just plug in. If you need to migrate suppliers remember to ask for a "MAC code" (a migration code that helps the move become quicker and easier)
Services like Skype and Gizmo give you the ability to send and receive calls from your PC, including extra features such as voicemail. VoIP providers like VoIPTalk or A&A will do the same service, and will allow you to use VoIP phones which sit like regular phones on your desks. Lastly there is the Voxhub service which can give even more options in line with expensive PBX systems when you have more than one employee or multiple phones and wish to have IVR menus and much, much more.
Something else we've found useful about all of these services is that small businesses often move several times in their early stages (they start in their house, then get a small office, then move to a bigger office etc). VoIP technologies prevent your phone number being tied to your physical location, thereby making such office moves much simpler.
Lastly, there are the normal phone suppliers and the dial-through comparison service - the International Call Checker for those using existing technology and trying keeping costs down.
There are plenty of Fax to Email services for that odd occasion you may need to send or receive one of these "pre-email era messages". Don't buy a fax machine, buy a scanner! If you just want fax to email, you can request a FREE UK fax number courtesy of Andrews and Arnold.
Email, calendar, website
Buy your domain name through Google via Google Apps for Your Domain, and you can instantly have a domain name, calendar and simple website creator. This solution will fit most non-IT based small businesses extremely well. Also included is Google Docs and Spreadsheets, with which you can keep your documents with Google, negating the need for your own infrastructure for storing, backing up and accessing your documents on-site or remotely. All you need is a web browser and a broadband connection! (Recently I've also noticed Zoho appear on the scene, and seems well worth a look.)
- Google Mail - Fast, searchable email with less spam.
- Google Calendar - Organise your schedule and share events.
Office and other software
Using Open Office instead of Microsoft Office can literally save you hundreds of pounds/dollars per PC. Just make sure you save in the Word Document format (or PDF) if you are sending documents to other people. Here are some training videos if you want to see how easy it is to use, and it's pretty similar to Microsoft Office in my opinion. Or use the aforementioned Google Docs and Spreadsheets which will ask which format you'd like when you send the document. For everything else there's usually an open source or free alternative.
- Google Docs - Create and share documents on-line and access them from anywhere
- Basecamp - Project management and collaboration. Collaborate with your team and clients. Schedules, tasks, files, messages, and more.
- Highrise - On-line contact manager and simple CRM. Keep track of who your business talks to, what was said, and what to do next.
- Backpack - Information organizer and calendar. Gather your ideas, to-dos, notes, photos & files on-line. Set email and mobile reminders.
- Google Maps - View maps and directions
You must not forget to backup - period. If you can't trust yourself to backup your vital data to CD or USB Flash, then subscribe to one of the many data backup services. Mozy/MozyPro seem to be a good company, as well as BackupDirect* and Data Deposit Box.
Get into the wise computing mindset as well as setting up your office well at the start (with guidelines such as these) and you will be enjoying productive computing for many years to come. Good luck!
* means there is some referral or partnership with these suppliers via the links given. Check out our stance on reviews and recommendations.
RunPCRun participated in Crusaid's Walk for Life on Sunday 10th June. We raised a total of £748 ($1,470).
So a big "Well Done and Thank You" to everyone that sponsored us.
If you still have some money burning a hole in your pocket, feel free to donate to our favourite charity - The International Community of Women with HIV/AIDS
We've been receiving a few emails from customers about the spam they've been receiving recently.
We currently already filter all the email for spam. According to our reports, 9 out of 10 messages we receive are spam and are removed with a 0% false-positive rate. Unfortunately we cannot "machine-filter" more than this without potentially making mistakes.
You can attempt to further filter them yourselves by using the scoring mechanism our anti-spam mechanism uses by reading and using these instructions.
However, whether it would meet with much success these days is a different matter, as the few spam emails that do make it through are doing so by using some clever techniques to make it look (to a machine) similar to legitimate email (at the moment they use normal text unrelated to the spam and an image that contains themessage they are trying to send, usually with imperfections to stop any form of OCR being performed on the image) as well as looking like and acting like a proper email server from the email servers perspective to prevent techniques like greylisting.
Unfortunately the specifications for the email protocol were created in 1982 (even though email was used in various forms before this) and has changed very little since then. Email was originally conceived as a method of sending messages between academics, not as the business medium it has turned into today.
There is a war going on between spam and the anti-spam programs, and just as in nature there is an element of survival of the fittest. A lot of spam will die, but some will always make it due to the sheer volume and the ingenuity of the people that generate it.
So I'm afraid some spam emails will always get through, and you can see this at places like Hotmail and Google mail to see that even with the huge resources that these businesses have to draw on, they cannot solve this problem, and I'm afraid we have no "magic bullet" either.
Quick Fix time...
Well this "Print preview is blank and you cannot print pages from Internet Explorer" problem was evident on a clients machine, however I couldn't actually open the Page Setup page either to resolve it.