It certainly is a troubling time with the rapid spread of the Coronavirus sweeping the world.
It’s no exaggeration that for most people, nothing quite like it has been experienced in living memory. There’s a lot of confusing information around and the advice seems to keep changing on a daily basis. This graphic found posted on twitter by @TheLoff provides a sensible guide to being careful …
Businesses in general are also experiencing an extremely challenging situation, testing the most robust of #BusinessContinuity plans. Again from twitter, this summary posted by the @Cabq Economic Development Department, provides an overview of the tips and resources they have put together for businesses and organisations navigating through the Coronavirus …
@yellowsbestltd our mission is to assist with ‘Keeping Customers Operational’. We’re keen to continue to provide #solutions and #services – let us know if we can help!
When phones got small (before they went big again)
In technology terms it seems a lifetime ago, now that large and ever-increasingly powerful ‘smartphones’ are commonplace, but it wasn’t so long since the trend was for mobiles to get smaller and smaller …
The evolutionary beginnings are clear, mobile phones started off as ‘bricks’: heavy, not very portable and limited in use. So the target became to make them ever smaller whilst cramming in as much functionality as possible.
The pinnacle of this development was just about reached with the Nokia 6230, a ‘feature phone’ which boasted a clock, calendar, calculator, music player, radio, photo and video cameras and a few basic games, even a limited internet browser, as well as texts and phone calls of course! A colour screen too, admittedly small (2.5cm square) and low-resolution by today’s standards, but with a battery that would last days not hours providing long talk and standby time. All squeezed into 10x4x2cm package; quite remarkable back in 2003.
This was about as small as phones got, and the small-size-format was so successful that it carried on like this for a few years, as illustrated by low-cost ‘entry’ devices such as the 2610 from 2006. Almost exactly the same size and weight, benefiting from improved screen and build but missing a camera – then still considered a ‘premium feature’, now so common place it’s hard to imagine any phone without one. Almost all of today’s phones are much wider, taller but thinner – how times have changed!
These mobile phones show off the relatively recent past of technology development, built to survive the harsh environment of the home of the Finnish manufacturer. So now, 15 or so years later – these ‘legacy’ models are still in working order, having out-lasted the company that made them!
Much has since changed in the world of mobiles, such that they’re not even used much as just ‘phones’, and Nokia’s phone business itself came and went, though now being revived by HMD Global. Despite promoting smart phones such as the ‘flagaship’ Nokia 9, it’s also interesting to see the ‘re-introduction’ of some ‘classic’ small-size-format phones, such as the 3310, harking back to those early beginnings.
@YellowsBestLtd we’re here to help #business customers maintain and keep operational “legacy” products and #enterprise equipment, as well as newer #systems, so let us know if we can assist by sourcing and supplying spares, repair and support services to ensure #technologies continue to serve and perform. Please get in touch to discuss your Management Services and Solutions requirements; we look forward to hearing from you.
@YellowsBestLtd we would like to thank our Customers for your enquiries and orders throughout this year, as well as our Suppliers for your support.
We’re pleased to have been of assistance providing services and solutions. Now into our fourth year of trading, we appreciate your continued interest and support, and look forward to continuing our business relationship in the New Year ahead.
A portfolio of comprehensive yet simple security solutions to protect critical assets is produced by RadiFlow.
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, used for controlling and monitoring remote operations in critical infrastructures such as power utilities, oil & gas, water and more, often extend across multiple remote sites, allowing automation devices to be controlled from the control centre.
Cyber threats to SCADA systems have in recent years been on the rise. Terrorists and criminals have set their sights on critical infrastructures that utilise SCADA systems due to these systems’ inherent vulnerabilities and the huge potential to disrupt civilian life and may cause high financial losses to the utilities.
Radiflow’s security tool-set validates the behaviour of both M2M applications and H2M (Human to Machine) sessions in distributed operational networks.
Radiflow’s security solutions are available both as in-line gateways for remote sites and as a non-intrusive IDS (Intrusion Detection System) that can be deployed per site or centrally.
A Complete Security Solution for SCADA installations
Visibility – Radiflow’s iSID Intrusion Detection System (IDS) automatically learns the network topology (links, protocol and devices) using passive scanning. Any new activity is highlighted on the GUI.
Protection – Radiflow’s IDS and Secure Gateways protect the SCADA networks from a variety of cyber threats such as network scanning, infected RTU and technician activity.
Compliance – Radiflow’s security products help make networks compliant with major security standards: NERC CIP version 5, NIST SP 800- 82 V2, ISA 99 and IEC 62443.
About Radiflow – founded in 2009 as part of the RAD group, a family of ICT vendors with over $1Bn in annual revenues. Radiflow’s security solutions, introduced in late 2011, have been successfully deployed by major utilities world-wide, and validated by leading security research labs. Radiflow’s security solutions are sold both as components within global automation vendors’ integrated end-to-end solutions, and as standalone security solutions by local channel partners.
@YellowsBestLtd seeks Solutions and provides Services to support Customer requirements to maintain and keep operational critical infrastructure networks. Please get in touch to discuss how we can be of assistance.
For many years Electricity, Water, Oil and Gas Utilities as well as Transport companies have required bespoke, robust, dedicated network critical infrastructure solutions with high availability and reliability. Historically, these tended to use bespoke well-proven technologies aimed at providing key functionality and high availability, with redundancy, protection and long service life favoured over ‘cutting-edge’ performance. These aspects are still important, but the drive towards modern, efficient and interconnected operations, has resulted in the adoption of mainstream Internet functionality and movement from TDM to IP technologies.
In the past, the very nature of the deployed bespoke systems has meant that security issues didn’t arise, since wider threats didn’t apply. A case of being safe by being unknown. But with the adoption of Internet technologies, along with the growth and increasing sophistication of cyber-threats, Utilities and other private network companies are needing to apply Information Technology (IT) security solutions tailored to their Operational Technology (OT) systems.
@YellowsBestLtd seeks Solutions and provides Services to support Customer requirements to maintain and keep operational critical infrastructure networks. Please get in touch to discuss how we can be of assistance.
Last year’s project, detailed here, built a charger that collected and stored solar energy for use by an eBike, also for charging additional Li-ion or Ni-Cad batteries for other equipment as well as powering LED lights for illumination of the work space.
These 4 main elements were put together to create the solar charging ‘system’: Solar Panel, Charge Controller, Battery, Inverter. The resultant assembly captures energy from the sun via the solar panel, ‘conditioned’ by the controller and stored in the battery. This therefore provides an ‘off-grid’ 12V DC power source, or via the inverter as 240V AC ‘mains’ subsitute.
Experience from use
What wasn’t certain at the time of the project construction was how much energy would be available to be captured (estimates indicated sun 2-3 hours per day, weather and time-of-year dependant), how much could be efficiently stored and what would be needed to charge the eBike (understood to require around 3-4 hours for a full charge) and/or for the other uses.
It had been assumed that there would be sufficient sunlight during summer days to adequately charge the storage battery, but at other times of the year the energy might be lacking, requiring additional solar panels for more energy generation.
The experience gained from use indicated that more solar panels were not needed, as enough energy was being captured, resulting in a fully charged battery (indicated by the charging stopping, despite it being sunny) when not being used for eBike charging. What was noticed however was that if the eBike had been used for a medium to long ride, requiring moderate to high charging afterwards, that insufficient energy was available from the storage battery to power the inverter (indicated by an audio alarm) long enough to fully charge the eBike.
The resulting conclusion was that the storage capacity was needed to be increased, to capture more sunlight energy to be available for charging purposes.
It was decided to purchase a second 12V 110AH 800CCA AGM-type battery, of identical make and specification as the original, thereby doubling the storage capacity (although since its advisable to allow for discharge of only 50% of the stated rating, the total energy available is taken to be 110AH). This compares with the capacity of the eBike battery, which is 36V 11AH (400WH).
It is important to note how additional batteries are added to a solar energy system. The choice is between series or parallel connection.
Series would result in a doubling of the operating voltage to 24V. This would bring some advantages in terms of lower current rating for wiring gauge with the same power, and a simpler daisy-chaining method of connection. However, this is only possible if the other system components are rated for 24V operation.
For this upgrade, it was chosen to add the additional battery in parallel, thereby keeping the operating voltage at 12V (suiting the controller and the inverter) whilst providing more current. The parallel connection requires the battery terminal connections to be separately wired to the inverter and controller connection points, and for safety an additional fuse was added so that each battery is separately fused to protect against a short-circuit.
Limited experience to date of the upgraded 2-battery-storage Solar power system finds that there is now sufficient energy available to completely charge the eBike even after a long ride, without incurring a low-energy warning from the inverter.
The conclusion is reached that due to the usage pattern of occasional eBike charging compared with the daily solar energy collection, that more battery storage is a more appropriate choice over more solar panel energy generation. This is re-enforced by the fact that on poor-weather days, although there is a lack of available solar energy, the eBike is unlikely to be used, so the energy usage requirements are also low!
If will be interesting to monitor the performance of the upgraded system through the seasons of another year.
@YellowsBestLtd we are always looking to expand our portfolio services for #business development and #enterprise support, and increase the mix of solutions for #sustainable systems and maintenance of new and legacy #technologies and products for our customers. Please get in touch to discuss your requirements; we look forward to hearing from you.
For many years, pioneering mobile communications technologies have been developed and implemented to serve the operational needs of professional users, such as public safety, utilities and transport organisations.
Initially based on radio technologies predating the public cellular networks and offering bespoke functionality, these were implemented as individual regional networks. Technology evolved from Analogue to Digital and deployments increased from regional to national rollouts.
We are now on the verge of next generation of mission critical communications with the arrival in the UK of the Emergency Services Network (ESN)
A brief history of PMR
When mobile communications were in their infancy, major organisations with mission critical requirements chose to build their own ‘dedicated’ networks to ensure availability of service. The users of such systems had operational requirements that shaped the technology developments, and gave rise to features such as Press-to-Talk (PTT), instant call set-up, encryption, user priority, 1-to-many and group calling.
Initially such networks were analogue-based and collectively known as ‘Private Mobile Radio’ (PMR). Inter-operation between systems was rarely possible, though one standard that did evolve was MPT1327 ‘Trunking Radio’, implemented by a range of vendors such as NOKIA and TAIT. Individual organisations built, operated and maintained their own infrastructure.
The next generation of technologies were digitally-based; one of the most widely adopted standards was TETRA. A break-though was the standardisation of the ‘air-interface’ permitting the inter-operability of user mobile terminals with infrastructure from a range of manufacturers, such as NOKIA and Motorola.
In the UK, two nationwide networks were rolled out, AIRWAVE for public safety users and DOLPHIN for professional users. The latter of these hit financial difficulties and was closed. Other regional networks were deployed, such as that on the London Underground, whilst other organisations continued to maintain their analogue-PMR systems.
ESN is coming
As on show at this year’s @TechXLR8 expo, the Emergency Services Network (ESN) is set to revolutionise professional mobile communications in the UK again, ultimately replacing the existing Airwave TETRA network and offering existing and updated services.
Essentially, acting as an overlay onto EE’s 4G network, the software from Motorola solutions will deliver an advanced mobile communications experience, including the PTT, group-call, priority and security features demanded by professional users.
The new service will bring PMR into the modern era with ruggedised mobile-phone-like user terminals providing advanced data capabilities, offering high quality colour-displays, GPS-mapping and location-based services.
A huge investment in development and rollout is taking place, which will result in additional network capabilities and coverage provided by 500 new base-station sites. The new network will serve the needs of the Police, Fire, Ambulance services as well as other professional users such as local authorities and utility services.
Supporting existing and future requirements
@YellowsBestLtd satisfies new and ‘legacy’ requirements for the operations and maintenance of systems and networks by providing services including consultancy, technical support and hardware repairs, and solutions, with the supply of functional replacements, spare part items and software support.
We would be keen to hear from you regarding your existing or future operational needs; please get in touch.
32-bit Application compatibility Issues resulting from macOS updates
Issues have started to appear using existing and older software applications on Apple Macintosh computers with the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit operating systems, commencing with macOS High Sierra 10.13.4, and it’s set to get a whole lot worse!
Noticeable problems with applications have surfaced with the update to macOS Mojave.
Strange and unwanted things have crept in. For example:
opening a new Finder window causes a new tab to open instead. It’s like the wrong option has been selected – now opening a tab or a window are incorrectly identical. If you want a new Finder window, you need to then select ‘move this tab to a new window’. So suddenly this is a two-stage process
Trying to print from Microsoft Word causes the application to ‘crash’. The work-around for this is its still possible to print by using the toolbar button, instead of selecting ‘print’ from the drop-down menu. But then this doesn’t allow for changing print settings etc.
Promise of worse compatibility problems
This is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’. A whole range of software applications which currently run happily on the Apple Mac are set to become unusable in the next update to macOS. We’re talking about mainstream applications such as Microsoft Office as well as ‘niche’ applications that you may utilise. This appears to represent the biggest shift in software compatibility since the change from Mac ‘Classic’ (OS 9 and before) to Mac OSX, more than 10 years ago.
The official Apple advice is to ‘contact the application developer’. For the average user, that’s unlikely to achieve anything, particularly for mature applications that perhaps are no longer available or don’t have ongoing development. With something like Microsoft Word, then it should be possible to obtain the latest version, but naturally that will require a new purchase and/or an annual subscription.
The standard maintenance advice for computers is to upgrade to the latest available version of operating software; that way, security patches are up-to-date, keeping the system secure, with new functionality as well as bug fixes provided, and support for the latest applications.
On this occasion however, it is worth taking a long considered look at the benefits of upgrading verses sticking with your current macOS release. If you haven’t yet moved to macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or macOS Mojave 10.14 then you may wish to stay where you are for now, particularly if you’re happy with your current applications and functionality, such as Microsoft Word 2008. If you’re contemplating upgrading, either because you ‘must’ for security purposes or need to support a new generation application, then it will be worth taking the time now to review all of your existing software and work out what the upgrade path will be, or find out what the alternatives you could migrate to e.g. Apple’s ‘Pages’ to replace Microsoft Word, etc.
In such circumstances of uncertain application support, backups are as always essential; ideally you should be in a position to ‘roll-back’, dual-boot and/or run virtual machines to maintain previous applications and functionality.
Consideration should also be given to maintaining a dedicated computer at the existing macOS version, and over time, migrating day-to-day applications (where they can be) to a new computer, keeping the old machine for ‘legacy support’.
Take a look at the full Apple announcement about the transition to 64-bit technology and how it affects 32-bit apps.
@YellowsBestLtd satisfies new and ‘legacy’ requirements for the maintenance of systems and networks by providing services, such as technical assistance and hardware repairs, and solutions, including the supply of spare part items and software support.
We would be keen to hear from you regarding your operational needs, please get in touch.
As a result of a PC replacement and upgrade project for Action for Asperger’s, we were presented with a seemingly serviceable Dell Optiplex 755 machine but suffering from a critical failure on power-up, meaning that the computer was unable to boot into windows, preventing use and severely limiting the diagnostics and configuration options.
The first step following a reboot was an automatic ‘startup repair’, however, this didn’t result in a fix:
Rebooting again and selecting F2 during the initial boot-up screen:
enabled a look at the system information, which indicated that the PC hardware was fine.
As an extra measure, the internals of the computer were briefly examined, ‘reseating’ components including the video board, memory chips and hard disk and then the system test run to verify all was well.
It was concluded therefore that the PC hardware was not the cause of the difficulties, and that the Windows installation was severely compromised.
From the bootup, troubleshooting was selected
From the ‘advanced options’, the Command Prompt was accessed.
Using these commands:
SEL DISK 0
It was possible to view and confirm the drives and their assigned letters.
Extra information was provided using this command:
wmic logicaldisk list brief
Progress was further hampered by the internal DVD/CD drive not being recognised on boot-up, in its place an external DVD drive was connected.
Rebooting and pressing F12 on power up enabled the adjustment of the Boot priority, selecting the DVD drive first.
A copy of the Boot Repair Tool by yannubuntu was next downloaded and a boot-repair-disk created
This was run from boot and gave encouraging results:
Alas, these steps hadn’t cured the problems, now a further critical error message was displayed:
Consequently, using the Microsoft USB/DVD Download Tool, a Windows 10 install disk was created (confusingly the site specifies Windows 7, but it works fine for Windows 10)
This was booted and the appropriate selections made for a fresh installation of Windows 10:
At this point, it was found necessary to delete the old windows partition, extend a different partition and create a new partition in order to be able to commence the windows installation.
It did however then allow the installation of Windows onto the other partition, meaning that two bootable volumes were created. Might be useful for future upgrades or troubleshooting.
Just the straightforward matter left of completing the user configuration of the operating system ready for use.
All done, pleasing to conclude that the critical issues with this PC could be resolved through software corrections alone!
@YellowsBestLtd provides professional Management Services for Business Development activities and Enterprise Support of Infrastructure. We source Solutions for Sustainable Systems maintenance, equipment Technologies and telecoms and other Products to enhance operations.
We’re always keen provide whatever is needed, so please let us know anything you require.