Fibre Optic Internet– why haven’t you upgraded yet?

Fibre Optic Internet– why haven’t you upgraded yet? 150 150 Kerry Butters

Businesses thrive on communication and bad connections that impede that communication need addressing. The internet has come a long way since the dial-up days and it’s advisable to start looking into upgrade options even from your current broadband connection. If you don’t have fibre optic internet connectivity at your business, it’s probably time you considered it. It’s not that new a technology and the price of an upgrade is likely to be nominal.

Now, it’s understandable to be cautious with money and upgrades aren’t always necessary. However in some cases early adoption can be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors. Every business hopes for speedy communications and it seeks good technology that facilitates an easy transfer of information; now there’s a simple solution, one that provides both of those advantages: fibre optic cabling.

What is Fibre Optic?

Fibre optic is an all-purpose solution that can positively affect all communication and information sharing practices that occur within your business. It provides faster and more reliable internet conditions that allows businesses to work remotely, to connect with their customers and to send information in a secure manner. It’s currently one of the most advanced systems on the market and your business will notice its great benefits right out of the box.

But to make the case for the upgrade to fibre optic cabling here’s a number of reasons why you should start using this technology today.

Send information much further

Fibre optic can carry and convey information over great distances without compromising the integrity of that data. There’s no negative impact on speed and quality either and due to the advanced nature of fibre optic cabling, your business can connect with multiple users from all over the globe without your internet connectivity suffering. Fibre optic cabling is the perfect solution for businesses that aim for better connectivity, internet speeds, and future proof internet systems.

Faster speeds

The best and most obvious benefit of fibre optic cabling is the great increase in internet browsing speeds. This means that downloading and sending files goes a lot quicker and more smoothly and this increase in speed also extends to video conferencing and basic browsing of the online world. Fibre optic means that you can do everything you normally would, just much more quickly, meaning that productivity is increased across your whole business infrastructure.

Safer and more secure browsing

A company’s online infrastructure is something that needs safeguarding and protecting. The data that moves through it is often sensitive and businesses need to employ a lot of software to make sure that it stays safe. Fibre optic cabling provides some marked benefits to security for businesses. This is due to it being one of the safest ways you can send and receive information over the web because fibre optic cables are very difficult to tap into. Companies and businesses can experience heightened peace of mind when sending information through these channels and the worry of being hacked can be alleviated.

Cloud computing services

A boost to your internets speed capabilities offers so many time-saving and productivity benefits. There is the greater flexibility when you consider how, when and where you access the internet and even from what device, to the fact that content no longer needs to be hosted predominantly on your computer or server.  Instead the content is saved remotely at a data centre, meaning that you can access it from wherever an internet connection is available.

Whilst you can still use cloud services without fibre optic connections, the upgrade in internet speeds means that you can move much larger file types into the cloud. With faster internet speeds, accessing that data and utilising it becomes much easier and the information is more readily available. Any internet enabled device can access this data, from smartphones to tablets, and when those devices are connected on your network the internet speed they’ll enjoy will be markedly increased.

Data transfer speeds

Due to faster internet the accessing and sharing of information becomes much easier. Video files are increasing in their quality and so are most media types of data and to use these files superfast broadband is needed. Gone are the days when video files were under 100mbs and now many files will be far over 5gbs. This change in the way that files are sized, and the quality that it’s rendered in, mean that faster internet is rapidly becoming an essential upgrade.

This same principle applies to the maintenance of a website and sites that have large files, high quality pictures and video, will run much more efficiently on faster connections. Remember that many of your customers have got fibre optic connections, so their experiences will be greatly improved too.

Fibre optic options can make your business more streamlined, more connected, and increase productivity. It will benefit existing BYOD policies and of course it will future proof your network infrastructures, especially if you take it one step further and have the intranet cabled with fibre too (although this is reasonably rare). You’re going to have to upgrade sooner rather than later, and you can start enjoying increased internet speeds nearly immediately. Most areas in the UK now have super fast broadband support, if yours does – upgrade now.

Of course, there are some areas, most predominantly rural, that don’t have access to fibre just yet, but this is something that’s being addressed by the UK government and even those that don’t have access to superfast in the next couple of years, should have 4G coverage.

Image: Jared Zammit

Increase your Productivity using Windows 8.1

Increase your Productivity using Windows 8.1 150 150 Kerry Butters

Windows 8.1 hasn’t exactly been met with acclaim, instead it has become one of the most maligned version of Windows and an OS that many are loathe to adopt. However, there are a number of new additions to the interface that, if used correctly, could make the jump to Windows 8.1 more appealing.

So for those of you who have the OS or for those who are interested in getting it, here are some tips to help increase productivity on Windows 8.1.

Search everything

The Windows 8.1 search tool doesn’t just scan your system, but instead it’s now integrated with Bing. This means that it delivers internet results and sometimes even Wikipedia inspired summaries of whatever you’re searching for straight to your desktop.

If you want to give it a go, launch the Charms bar and type in your keywords – this will bring up the search box on the right of the screen. Hit enter and you’ll see any matches in your own documents, media library links, and you’ll get online links to explore as well.

There’s more increased functionality and if you swipe left (or spin the mouse wheel) you’ll find even more pictures and links. Clicking any of these links will take you to the webpage. You can effectively use the charms bar as a Bing search bar.

The extra search power can be very helpful; however, it may not be for everyone. If don’t want the increased functionality it’s easy to disable this function. Simply launch the charms bar, click Settings > Change PC Settings > Search, and then set ‘Use Bing to search online’ to ‘Off.’

For those of you that loved the original start menu, which can be found on previous versions of Windows, it was announced at yesterday’s BUILD conference that it is to be reintroduced for 8.1. This is good news for both consumers of the OS and Microsoft itself, as it’s bound to drive better sales before the rumoured Windows 9 appears next year.

Navigation properties

One simple dialogue box hosts perhaps the most important Windows 8.1 improvement for those using a desktop and mouse set up.

This box is well hidden and to access it, go to the old-fashioned desktop view and right click on any blank area on the taskbar. Then choose properties, go to the Taskbar and Navigation properties dialogue box, and click the Navigation tab.

Everyone using a desktop PC should tick the box that reads ‘When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.’ That’s the boot to desktop option and it increases productivity by giving the user a more familiar and controlled interaction with their PC.


This is a simple option and one that’s recommended. The new Metro interface doesn’t work as well and often users feel like they’re battling to do what they always could do. Booting directly to the desktop allows users a PC experience that’s more familiar to them and mimics the way that they have used Windows in the past.

Turn off the Charm

It can be really infuriating for users of Windows 8.1 when trying to close an app. The top right hand corner of the screen opens up the Charms bar and any unwary mouse movement can roll out the bar.

Many users feel that there is no good reason for the Charm application on the old-fashioned desktop set up and some users even feel that the Metro side provides very little worth using too.

For those users who would rather not have the bar on their screen, simply visit the Navigation Properties and uncheck the box that reads, ‘When I point to the upper-right corner, show the charms.’

If a use disables the Charms bar but occasionally needs it there is a keyboard shortcut available: Windows key + C.

Show All Apps

The last four settings in the Navigation Properties dialog control when and how the Metro Start screen gets swapped out for the All Apps list.

According to Microsoft, the All Apps list is the new, reimagined Windows Start Menu. This isn’t entirely accurate and instead the tiles just keep going and going, which may not be the best layout for those using a touch screen device. However for desktop mousers there’s not much doubt that the All Apps list is better than the Metro Start screen.

For desktop users it’s advisable to check all four of the settings available in the Navigation Properties dialog control.

Boot desktop apps faster

It’s possible for users to set up desktop apps to load when Windows 8 start. However, the thing is, they don’t have the same priority that they did on older Windows OS versions. Windows 8 delays the launch of apps to ensure that everything else starts more quickly. This makes the system more responsive as it boots, but if you’re switching straight to the desktop then it can slow you down. It may be worth disabling the delay and attempting to spot any improvement.

To do this:

Launch REGEDIT and browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Serialise.

Now create the Serialise key – if it already exists, simply select it in the left-hand pane.

Right click in the right-hand pane and create a new DWORD value called StartupDelayInMSec, and leave it set at zero (or if a value is already there set it to zero).


Restart your computer and you’ll hopefully find that your desktop apps launch more speedily. If not, try three or four test boots to see if there’s any improvement, and if there isn’t, delete the StartupDelayInMSec value and restore the default settings.

Please note that only users that are confident in what they are doing should edit the registry as getting it wrong can damage your Windows installation.

Quickly launch programs

Many users like to use keyboard shortcuts over scrolling through app tiles to find the necessary program. That’s fine and Windows 8 still allows users to access apps through the old fashioned keyboard.

Launch the desktop app, right click on any empty area of the screen and click New>Shortcut.

Then browse to the application you’d like to launch here. For the sake of an argument lets say you want to shut down your PC with a click.

Instead of selecting a program to open, enter shutdown.exe –s –t 100

The above command will let you shutdown your computer immediately; all with the click of a mouse button.

You can also tell it to hibernate. Simply type in this instruction:

Shutdown.exe –h –t 00

Then click next and title the shortcut something like ‘Hibernate’ and click finish.

Right click on the shortcut and select Pin to Start. Your new shortcut should appear on the far right of the Start screen and you can just drag the tile wherever you like.

Windows 8.1 hasn’t exactly been well received, and many of the productivity solutions merely circumvent the clunky and irritating Metro interface. However once that’s done it can be said that W8.1 is not a bad operating system, it just needs tweaking and adapting for the user in question.

Give some of these productivity boosters a go, perhaps you’ll find that Windows 8.1 suits your needs. If not, don’t worry, Windows 9 is likely to be out this year if rumours are to be believed. Hopefully Microsoft have ditched the Metro interface ensuring better productivity as users don’t have to fight for the functionality they want and expect.