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What About Cabling?

Posted on October 02nd, 2013 by Emily

How much difference can the cabling you have make to your network? Read on, you may be surprised!


We don’t often hear this come up as a point of discussion when people are installing or upgrading their networks, but it’s actually quite important.

If you’re getting a new network installed, you should always choose a specialist when it comes to cabling your workplace. For your network to work at full capacity, you’ll need good quality cabling, which is installed correctly, without cutting corners.

If your cabling is of poor quality, it can affect the quality of signal sent along it, which in turn can affect the speed and reliability of your network. Having the best hardware in the world won’t help if your cabling is subpar or incorrectly installed. Poorly shielded or badly situated cabling can mean the difference between a network that runs smoothly, and one that makes you feel like tearing your hair out!

Ideally, total cabling to each machine should equal no more than 100 metres. If it’s longer than this, general research says you’ll begin to see a drop in performance from your network. Cabling with low-quality impure copper cores can also cause signal degradation, which will show itself as errors, lost packets and slower speeds. Cabling should be as flat as possible, as bending it too much can affect its performance.

Each cable should also be of similar quality – it’s not really useful having your building cabled up with top-of-the-range, super quality cable if you then go and use a low quality patch cable to connect your computer to the network. Mixing different qualities of cable can also cause even more interference in the signal.

Your network cabling should ideally not be near any kind of power cabling or pass close to large devices, as this can result in electromagnetic interference and cause problems with data transmission across the network. It should also not be near any water sources or pipes, as this could cause condensation to form inside the cable which in turn causes the cable to fail.

Finally, one point to remember is that cabling doesn’t last forever! Cables can stretch, warp, break, twist or otherwise wear out just like other equipment. Your network will need re-cabling eventually, and while it may not seem like a top priority, if you’re experiencing problems or considering upgrading or replacing your network hardware, you may want to get your cabling professionally tested to make sure it meets the standards required for smooth performance!


If you’d like any more information on cabling, cable testing, networking or anything else IT-related, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us, we’ll be happy to help!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Geek Guru Shield

Geek Guru Software Support

Posted on September 30th, 2013 by Emily


If you’re interested in a new software package or suite, or are looking for some software to suit a specific task and don’t really know where to begin, we’re here to help!


With our recent posts on Office 2013 and Office 365, we hope we’ve been able to provide some useful information on how to choose the best package for you,

At Geek Guru we pride ourselves on our friendly customer service. Anything that you’d like to know about any IT related subject, we’re here to help – including advice about software for different purposes.

Sometimes you may feel like it would be good if you had some software that could automate tasks, software that’s more suitable for your business or just something that can help you be more productive – in any such case, feel free to get in contact with us and we’ll do some looking around for you, and endeavour to find the most suitable software for your needs.

As part of our support packages, we can also help you to purchase and install your software if necessary. This means you’ll have nothing to worry about as we’ll do it all for you, and make sure it’s all set up and working correctly. If you purchase your software through us, we’ll make sure you have the correct amount or type of licenses required for your company or organisation, so you don’t waste some of your budget by purchasing more than you may need.

If you’ve recently purchased some software and need some advice about its functions, general usage, or how to get it to perform specific tasks, we may also be able to help. From assisting you ourselves with our wide range of experience and knowledge, to finding free online resources or paid training courses for you and your team, just let us know and we’ll do what we can to help out.


If you’d like any further information on any kind of software, hardware or anything else IT-related at all, get in touch with us, the Geek Gurus are always on hand and happy to help!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Choosing a Mouse or Pointing Device - Part 3

Posted on September 13th, 2013 by Emily


In the final post of our series on mice and pointing devices, we focus on size and ergonomics and the choice of wireless or wired devices.


We’re adding two more points to our list of what to look for when you’re purchasing a new pointing device – the size and ergonomics of it, and whether to buy wired or wireless – and you’ll see why they’re just as important to consider as everything else.

  • Size and Ergonomics

This might not be something that leaps instantly to mind, but the size and ergonomics of a pointing device really do matter, especially if you’re going to be using the device for extended periods. We’ll be looking mainly at mice, but the same rules apply to any device.

Mice come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some small, some large. The most important thing is to buy one that’s going to be suitable for the person who will be using it. A lot of mice available now with more functions are truly huge – making them unsuitable or uncomfortable for people with smaller hands. Similarly, micro mice are incredibly fiddly and almost impossible to use by people with larger hands. The best thing you can do is go and try out a variety of sizes and see how they feel before buying one, then you’ll get an idea of the best overall shape for your hand.

There are shapes that fit left handed and right handed people, or some that can be used by either. Left handed mice are rare, though, and you’ll probably have to purchase online if you want one specifically designed for left handed people.

Whatever you go for, it’s important that it feels comfortable in your hand, doesn’t cause discomfort with prolonged use, and suits the way you prefer to use a mouse.

  • Wired vs Wireless

The main reason to choose a wireless mouse is really to be rid of a wire from the tangled mess that usually goes to the back of our computers. Without a wire, there’s no drag on the mouse, you can’t accidentally pull out the cable, and you can’t snag the cable on something accidentally. It also means you are not restricted by cable length on the positioning of your device. The connections at either end can’t be worn out either, as there are no cable connections to come loose.

There are drawbacks however, one of which is that the devices needs to be powered, usually by batteries. While there are a few mice out there now that can last on a single AAA battery for a whole year, you can probably expect to have to change the batteries every couple of months or so for a device in frequent use. When the batteries in the device are no longer providing enough power, often the device can begin to act strangely or stop working altogether. There are devices now that come with a rechargeable battery inside and a charging dock (plugged into the computer, doubles as a wireless receiver) that you can place it into when not in use. These tend to come at a higher price, but can be worth it in the long run.

If you’re in an office with a lot of electrical equipment trying to use a wireless device, you can also suffer from interference problems. If there’s another device working on a similar frequency nearby, it can cause the wireless device to malfunction or behave strangely. This is unusual in a standard desk setting however, as the device and its connector are usually close enough together that they have a strong enough signal to ignore any interference.

A wired mouse will have greater reliability and no need for batteries, but a wireless mouse offers greater freedom of positioning and no drag or snagging cable.

There’s certainly quite a few considerations to be made for purchasing a new pointing device, (perhaps more than you might think really,) but we’re confident that if you consider all of these points before you purchase, you’ll have a better, more comfortable experience overall. If you’d like to see any other kind of equipment covered in these articles, please do let us know at the address below!


If you need more information about mice and pointing devices, or guidance on choosing one that’s right for you or your business, or if you’d just like to chat to us about anything else IT-related, get in contact with us!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Choosing a Mouse or Pointing Device - Part 2

Posted on September 11th, 2013 by Emily


Continuing in our series of blog posts about mice and other pointing devices, this time we’re looking at the different device types and connection options.


The type of device you use and the connection method are two other things you’ll need to consider when purchasing a new mouse or pointing device, so this time we’ve gone into a little more depth about the types of device available, how they connect to your computer, and why considering these things is important.

  • Touchpads, Trackballs and Tablets

The reason we’ve chosen the term “pointing device” rather than just “mouse” for these articles is because while most users will be using a mouse, some will choose to use a touchpad, (especially on a laptop), a trackball or a tablet. There are other options you can use rather than a mouse, if you prefer!

Touchpads are becoming more advanced, with the ability to use multi-touch and gesture commands on them to perform advanced functions such as scrolling and zooming. The advancement of touchpad technology means that touchpads now are becoming extremely useful, reliable and sensitive. While they do take a bit of getting used to, they’re now a good, easy to use replacement for a mouse on mobile devices such as laptops, and there’s no longer really a need to take a bulky mouse along with you. While it’s rare to find a touchpad attached to a regular desktop PC, some tablets (which we’ll discuss later on) now offer this type of functionality, so if you’re really a fan, that’s also a possibility.

Trackballs are not particularly popular, although some people still prefer them as they involve moving the fingers instead of the whole hand. They are basically an upside down mechanical mouse, you use your fingers or thumb to roll a ball which sits on rollers or inside a bay with LEDs which judge the distance, direction and speed of your movements. Most of them also have the buttons of a regular mouse, plus a scroll wheel. They take quite a bit of getting used to, although they are better for maintaining a neutral arm position and reducing stress on the wrist than standard mice, and so can be helpful if you suffer from RSI. They also don’t need a special surface or lots of room to track on as you’re just moving the ball and not the whole device. Those who use them extensively often say they offer improved control over a regular mouse.

Tablets, until now have been the realm of the graphic designer and the artist, but with touch devices taking off so much recently, and with improvements in handwriting recognition, they are gaining a new niche market from people who prefer to hold a pen or use them as a giant touchpad to perform everyday computer tasks. Not all tablets perform the role of touchpad, though, this is restricted mainly to Wacom’s Bamboo Pen and Touch range at the moment – although the ones that do support touch have a number of programmable buttons and support multi-touch functions and gestures to scroll and zoom, etc. They do take a bit of getting used to, and some older non-touch models have a battery in the pen that needs replacing sometimes, but if you are comfortable with using a pen and like the idea of using one to control your computer, you may like to try one. Definitely something we’d recommend trying out before purchasing – but our design geek wouldn’t be without one!

  • PS/2 and USB

PS/2 is considered a ‘legacy’ connector, (meaning it’s technically out of date and has been replaced by newer technology,) but many computers still offer PS/2 ports. PS/2 connectors are small, round connectors that were the predecessor to USB connections on keyboards and mice – purple port for keyboards, green port for mice. However, in some instances, they can still be pretty useful. If your organisation needs to disable all the USB ports on their machines for security reasons, (for example to avoid flash drives being plugged in), then the PS/2 ports mean that the machines are still useable with most standard devices – a converter can be purchased to convert a USB device into a PS/2 device if necessary.

PS/2 devices can have less delay since the signal is not sent into the operating system via the USB port but instead handled directly within the hardware – however this kind of delay should not be noticeable to the average user.

With so many devices being connected via USB now, there may be a lack of ports on your machine, this is another scenario where a PS/2 port may be useful – they are specific and can only be used for certain types of device, which means you can free up a USB port for use by another device.

The great thing about USB, though, is that the basic functions of USB pointing devices will usually work if you just plug them in (this is known as “plug-and-play”). It also requires very little hardware knowledge – Most people know about the small, flat sockets on their computer, and it would be a challenge now to find a computer without a USB port – which means if it a pointing device has a USB connection, you can probably use it on your computer (depending on compatibility with your operating system of course). A lot of desktop computers also have additional ports on the front now too, so if you don’t like messing around at the back of your computer to plug in a device, you don’t need to.


Next time, in the final post of this week, we’ll be taking a look at the sizes and ergonomics of mice and pointing devices, and weighing up the good and the bad points of wired and wireless devices.


If you need more information about mice and pointing devices, or guidance on choosing one that’s right for you or your business, or if you’d just like to chat to us about anything else IT-related, get in contact with us!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Choosing a Mouse or Pointing Device - Part 1

Posted on September 09th, 2013 by Emily


This week in the Geek Guru blog, we’ll be pointing out (pun intentional) some of the things you can consider when you’re looking to buy a new pointing device.


The mouse and keyboard are really something many people take for granted now. The presence of a mouse (or pointing device in general) is something that’s only really come become standard in the past few decades, but is something without which we would be well and truly lost today.

Many people don’t put much thought into purchasing or using a mouse; if it works for its purpose, then it’s fine – which, for a lot of people, may be true. However, putting a little consideration into what pointing device you use with your computer, especially if you use it for extended periods, can make a whole lot of difference to your productivity and comfort.

  • Mechanical vs Optical and Laser mice

Although mechanical mice are rather outdated, they are still available to buy now – however we really don’t recommend you buy one. Mechanical mice are those with a ball and rollers in the bottom as a method of tracking how far, how fast and in which direction you move the mouse. They got clogged up with dirt, dust and debris, needed cleaning regularly and were not the most precise of tools – in fact, we’d bet that the most enjoyment you could get from a mechanical mouse was removing the ball from your colleague’s mouse while they were getting a coffee, and watching them try to figure out what was wrong when they got back to their desk.

The advent of the optical mouse made life much nicer for everyday mouse users, optical mice are far more sensitive and precise, and don’t require anywhere near the same amount of maintenance that a mechanical mouse requires. They work on pretty much any surface (unless it’s completely smooth, glossy or shiny such as glass) by using an imaging device to capture the surface illuminated by the LED light. They track the tiny changes in the surface of your mouse mat to measure how fast and how far you move the mouse – at a rate of about 1000 images per second.

Laser mice take this theory a step further and use a small infrared laser instead of an LED to track the surface, meaning the movements can be measured much more precisely, resulting in a higher sensitivity, with some laser mice coming with the guarantee of working on a completely smooth or transparent surface.

We’d recommend optical mice for everyone now as they are inexpensive and generally reliable (depending on brand and manufacturing quality, of course). Laser mice may be more suitable for those who need greater pointing precision (for example, in the creative industry).

  • Simple vs Multi-Button Mice

Another consideration not really made very often is about the number of buttons on a mouse. Most mice now come with two main buttons and a scroll wheel, which can sometimes be used as a clickable third button. Some mice come with more (sometimes many, many more) buttons, that can be programmed using software to perform certain tasks. Contrary to popular opinion, these aren’t just useful for gamers, designers or IT professionals – they can be very useful in day to day use, especially if you have to use the same key combinations or shortcuts a lot during the day.

If you find yourself using a certain command in a program a lot, you can most likely use a multi-button mouse to speed up this action. This is because a lot of frequently used commands in software have keyboard shortcuts – and you can assign this shortcut to one of the buttons on your mouse. For example, if you spend a lot of time using the copy and paste commands and have a mouse with two extra buttons, you can assign one button to the “copy” command and another to the “paste” command – meaning all you have to do is select what you want to copy, as normal, and click the “copy” button on your mouse.


Next post we’ll continue on the subject of pointing devices, and discuss different connection types and device types available.


If you need more information about mice and pointing devices, or guidance on choosing one that’s right for you or your business, or if you’d just like to chat to us about anything else IT-related, get in contact with us!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at

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Surge Protection

Posted on July 29th, 2013 by Emily


No matter where you are in the world, electricity surges and spikes can be a real threat to sensitive equipment.


There are two main kinds of devices on the market designed to protect against electrical overloads. One is an RCD or “Circuit Breaker”, which protects users from electrical shocks from equipment, such as lawnmowers or other power tools. The other is a surge protection device, designed to protect sensitive equipment from electrical spikes or surges.

Power surges are very brief (around 1/20th of a second) increases in the voltage that can be incredibly destructive. Spikes are even shorter, lasting only one or two nanoseconds – but can be equally as destructive. Most IT equipment has some built-in safety functions, but these are not always successful in preventing damage to equipment. Power surges and spikes can occur at any time, but they can be especially prevalent at times of peak usage when electricity grids are pushed close to their maximum capacity, and before or after a power outage.

If you have a lot of IT equipment – you’ll want to protect it against these potentially destructive surges and spikes, since it can completely destroy equipment in its path if it is severe enough.

The idea behind a surge protector (sometimes also called “surge suppressors”) is that if/when a destructive surge or spike is sent down the power lines, the protector acts as a buffer and grounds the surge or spike instead of letting it hit your valuable equipment. Surge protectors let through a specific voltage, and are designed to keep your equipment running with the correct voltages despite being hit by surges and spikes. In particularly severe cases, such as a lightning strike, this can lead to the surge protector being destroyed – this is just a confirmation that your equipment was protected and the surge protector did its job.

You may be wondering “what spikes and surges can do to my equipment? How can they be so destructive?” Allow us to explain that one! Computers and other IT equipment are actually very sensitive to voltage changes. Too much or too little voltage can cause them to fail, and using too much for too long can cause components to melt or pop. Heat is a common enemy of all IT equipment (as we discussed last week in our blog on overheating) and surges can cause very rapid overheating of components, which leads to device failure and potentially thousands of pounds of broken equipment. Even if the equipment doesn’t fail because of one surge, repeated exposure to surges and spikes can leave lasting damage that will eventually cause it to fail.

We think of surge protection as a kind of insurance for IT equipment. It’s far cheaper to replace a few surge protectors than it is to replace a whole office full of roasted IT equipment! They’re fairly cheap to buy and we certainly wouldn’t operate our equipment without them. If you’re looking to buy some for your equipment, make sure you look for safety and production standards on them, and beware of buying too cheaply, they may not provide enough protection for your equipment.


If you’d like some advice or recommendations on protecting your IT equipment from surges and spikes, or you’d like to ask us about anything IT-related, we’re here to help!

Give us a call on 0845 234 0580 or send us an email at



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