Telephony Advice & Warnings

Some telephony advice. 118 call charges, Mobile nuisance calls and 070 scam calls.

 

118 Costs Just Exploded Again

Many thanks to Magenta Systems for this snippet – you can find it here https://www.telecom-tariffs.co.uk/tcomhist.htm

Ofcom and BT are introducing 20 new service charge bands in July 2016, SC081 to SC100, for 08/09/118 calls. The new charges mostly fill in gaps in the previous 80 bands, but include some horrible 118 bands, ranging from £8.98 to £15.98 for the first minute, then £4.49 to £7.99 per extra minute. So 118 calls to that last band will cost £96 for 10 minutes, or £16 for a misdialled number. Just because the new charge bands exist does not mean operators will necessarily use them, but most will have been created to meet specific requirements of operators like 118118, who last raised its cost in March to £6.98+£3.49/min (£34 for 10 minutes).

Background

08/09/118 numbers are called Service Numbers. Calls costs to these numbers are comprised of 2 components the access charge set by your telco and the service charge set by the company you are calling. The service charge should be stated on all adverts. The service charges are not well publicised but they are laid out here.

https://www.bt.com/pricing/current/Call_Charges_boo/FrameworkImpl1350581.htm#FrameworkImpl1350581

The bands are designated SC01 to SC100 but the latest lists that we have found only go to SC80.

The bands are not only for a service charge, charged by the minute but also include all other combinations including the one 118118 use which is phrased as – “Prices For Calls Charged By Fixed Fee and Timed Duration (Where the Fixed Fee Is the Charge for the First 60 Seconds of the Call, or Part Thereof and the Duration Charge Applies Following the First 60 Seconds).”

Access charges from BT are around 10p per minute additionally and mobile companies charge around 45p per minute.

So for example calls to 118118 cost Calls to 118 118 cost £3.49 per call plus £3.49 per minute, (minimum 60 second charge applies) plus the Access charge.

 

Both of the following are from the Ofcom for Consumers website here.

http://www.ofcom.org.uk/

(Click the images below for the News items)

 

Outlook – Don’t File, Search.

How would you like to spend less time housekeeping your emails, less time finding a particular email and be better able to see exactly what you need to deal with?

If you’ve answered “yes” then read on.

We see it all the time and yes, we used to do it ourselves. You have a multitude of subfolders in your inbox and you conscientiously sort incoming emails into these folders. This has the following problems though:

  1. It takes time
  2. Sometimes something can be filed in one of several ways and you have to choose only one
  3. Changing how you have things setup becomes a major upheaval
  4. Scrolling down a huge list or navigating a deep tree of subfolders is a pain
  5. Probably more…..

How? The key phrase to remember is Don’t File, Search.

Quite simply, when you file messages you do so based upon criteria that you check manually and then move the message. If you use that same criteria to search for messages, you’ll realise the same list of messages. So, don’t bother filing. Just search as you need to. Now, if you know you’ll need to work on a specific subset of messages regularly, for example say from a particular person, and don’t want to type in the search criteria each time then create a search folder. It’ll appear just like a subfolder you’ve filed into but it’s automatic and any message can appear in several search folders at the same time. So, an email about your vehicle insurance can be in a folder containing all emails related to the vehicle and also a folder containing all emails from your insurance broker.

In order to keep the inbox tidy I prefer to have a single subfolder called “Processed” email and I move anything into it that I’ve dealt with, or at least that doesn’t need to be sitting in the inbox looking at me, using a Quick Step.

Most emails that need action you should either flag for follow up when you have time or create tasks from them with appropriate start and due dates.

There are a variety of Inbox management systems, one of which may suit you. I’m not proposing any particular one, just suggesting you search instead of file at the very least. It’ll take minutes to set it up and get the hang of it but will save you hours during the course of a month.

Here are some links on the procedures you’ll need to become familiar with. They relate to Outlook 2016 so please search for the same information for earlier versions of Outlook if you need it.

O365 – Free Skype Meetings

Firstly, a quick apology to our non-Office365 clients. A large proportion of my posts will be regarding Office 365. That’s because most of our clients are now on the platform and I hope the remainder will follow when the circumstances dictate. In the meantime, look at the post as information on what’s possible with Office 365.

I’ll try and remember to prefix posts as above so you know if they’re immediately relevant to you.

Most Office365 plans will include Skype for Business. You can use it for Instant Messaging internally, externally (try adding me as a contact to test it – see my email footer) and as a phone system. Lorica’s phone has now been ported from an internal 3CX (software PBX) to Skype for Business meaning one less server for us to look after and global mobile access on a variety of devices.

This post is about a recent extra benefit whereby you can use Skype for Business for meeting. Follow the link here to an Office Blogs post with more details.

As usual, contact me if you have any questions.

Blocked when installing the Lorica RMM agent

If we need our RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) tool installing on your PC we’ll provide you with the installation file possibly with a download link.

On newer machines you may get a warning where it appears you’re unable to run the file. However, you need to click on the “More info” link and then you’ll get taken to the next dialogue allowing you to run.

 

Normally, this is to protect you from inadvertently running an unsigned, which usually means suspicious, file or program.

In this case, our agent is specific to each of our customers so it’s not feasible to sign each one and so you’ll have to tolerate this. As you’re fully aware of what you’re doing then it’s not a problem in this situation. Obviously, if you see this when downloading something else you should check with us before proceeding.

How to run Internet Explorer without addons

Addons are an important part of any modern browser. Using addons, it is possible to extend and modify features of the browser. In Internet Explorer, addons are implemented as special applications that start with IE and provide toolbars, buttons and handlers for various multimedia content. Some common add-ons are Adobe Flash, QuickTime, and Silverlight. Another example is the Classic IE addon, which is part of Classic Shell, which restores the caption to the title bar, and page loading progress indicator bar and security zone to IE’s status bar. If you have many addons installed, it can affect the browser’s performance and also cause stability issues. If your IE is crashing or slowing down, it is useful to run the browser in the addons-free mode to troubleshoot and fix problems with addons.


Internet Explorer has a special command line argument, -extoff, which tells the browser to start in No Add-ons mode. In this mode, all addons are disabled and the browser will notify you about this.
To run IE in No Add-ons mode, use the following command line:

iexplore -extoff

Note the hyphen before ‘extoff’. You can type this command directly in the Run dialog (press Win + R shortcut keys on the keyboard and press Enter after entering the above command).





It will work even if you don’t type the full path to IExplore.exe because Windows comes with a special run alias for Internet Explorer.


 

PayPal phishing – another example

An email that arrived today and it looks very convincing.

Apart from the usual “Don’t click any links in an email unless you are completely sure of the source” here we see the usual bad spelling/grammar giving the game away.

Moral of the story being? Read your emails very carefully. I can see several errors in this email but “dete” for heaven’s sake!

Raising a Support Ticket

We address issues, problems and service requests with tickets.

So, any issue has an associated ticket containing all the relevant communications, information and actions. This is for the benefit of our customers and ourselves. Please be aware it also tracks all the labour time involved and while this doesn’t incur any costs for our support clients it will lead to an invoice for our ad-hoc or other customers.

Below are details on tickets in two sections:

  1. How to raise a ticket
  2. What information to include

How to raise a ticket.

You can raise a new ticket by email or by calling our support helpline.

Raising a new ticket by email

This is the preferred method for the following reasons:

  • It is less time consuming and disruptive
  • Our automated system takes care of the creation, allocation and logging
  • You get immediate notification and any SLA is immediately triggered.

    You do this by sending us an email and adhering to the following points

    • Send it to support@lorica.net
      • You don’t need to send it to any other addresses. All support technicians can see the support mailbox so cc’ing any other contacts at Lorica is potentially just confusing.
    • Using the subject of your email to define a title for the new ticket
      • Please change the subject if you’re forwarding an email. A subject line of “FW: This is a great joke” is of little help.
      • If you’re communicating with regard to an existing ticket, please ensure the ticket number is included in the subject otherwise you’ll just create another new ticket

Raising a new ticket by phone

You’ll need to do this if your email, Internet of PC/phone are inoperative. If you want to discuss the issue or explain verbally in more detail, please raise the ticket by email and then give us a call and quote the ticket number.

What information to include

Check the following bullet points as you raise a ticket – the more information you can provide the faster things are likely to get sorted out.

  • Describe in detail the issue, problem or requirement
  • Include screenshots or images
  • Detail when it started occurring
  • Explain who it affects and under what circumstances

Giveaway – Bluetooth NTC Wooden Speaker

You’re in if you’re subscribed!

We’ll  draw a blog subscriber randomly to receive this speaker in 10 days.

Why not tell your work colleagues they need to subscribe to be in with a chance of winning?

IN MORE DETAIL

We carry so much of our music around with us these days, it really helps to have a dedicated speaker that can detect and play what we’re listening to without the mess and fuss of wires. The Sond Bluetooth Wooden speaker fuses quality audio output with a contemporary wooden finish to create a speaker that would look perfect anywhere. An ideally sized unit for your kitchen worktop, a spot on the bookshelf or a niche in your bedroom.

No More Wires

The use of cables and wires to connect devices is quickly becoming passé. Taking its place are connectivity options, such as Bluetooth, that allow speakers to pair with smartphones, tablets and media players wirelessly. In this case, your music player can be up to 10 metres away and the Sond speaker will continue to deliver a seamless stream of music. Don’t have a fancy gadget handy? No problem. The speaker comes with a built-in FM radio and 20 pre-set stations to bring you audio entertainment whenever you need it.

Key features:

  • Integrated Speakers
  • FM Radio with 20 pre-set stations
  • AUX input jack
  • 10m Bluetooth transmit distance
  • Blue LED pairing indicator
  • Output power: 2x5W + 12W

Blog subscription is mandatory for our clients and this draw is only open to them. The blog is used to disseminate relevant information pertaining to your IT systems and operation and can include critical warning that you need to be aware of.

Windows 10

People don’t like change. That’s a fact. While the “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” adage is valid it doesn’t mean “If it’s not broken, don’t improve it”.

I think there’s a case for Windows 10 both fixing and improving on previous version of Windows.

Here’s a link (or click the image below) to someone else’s blog post that pretty much sums up what you need to know, albeit at some length. If your PC is a major tool in the execution of your job, and I suspect it is, then understanding something about the upgrade is very important.

If you don’t have the time or inclination, here are the salient points.

  • Windows 10 is well worth having
  • A clean install of Windows 10 is much better than an upgrade (nothing new here eh?)
  • You need to check compatibility of your applications and PC before proceeding with an upgrade or install
  • It’s free for many of us, but only until the end of July
  • Yes, it might install automatically (see the post above for an explanation)

Should you require assistance in either installing, upgrading or preventing the automatic upgrade to Windows 10 please raise a support ticket with us.