6 WiFi Secrets You Should Know

If there is one area that Gamma Tech Services leads the market, it is WiFi networking. In fact, several of our competitors have contracted us to install and debug their WiFi networks when it exceeded their abilities. Our expertise was further affirmed by our contract with Summit Broadband in which they relied on our expertise to advise about 1000 Pelican Bay residents in Naples on how to get full WiFi coverage in their homes.

Reality is that there are only a few WiFi “secrets” that need to be known to deploy a powerful WiFi network.

1. WiFi range is ultimately not determined by the router or access point but instead by the FCC. The FCC are the ones who set the power limits of wireless devices including the WiFi in your home. They govern this as there is only so much bandwidth available and they want to prevent your neighbor from creating a WiFi that takes up all of the bandwidth in your area. In the end, it’s a good thing, but the result is that manufacturers are severely limited in the range that they can provide. The lesson? Although there are devices with poor range, the better quality devices will all share a similar range performance and it shouldn’t be a deciding factor in which device you purchase.

2. Routers are for newbies and Wireless Repeaters don’t work. Access Points (APs) are where the real power lies. Without going into too much detail, it’s easiest to explain it this way: It’s only possible to have one router in a network, but there is no limit to the number of access points you can have. “What’s wrong with repeaters?” you ask. A repeater takes a wireless connection and emits another wireless connection while an access point takes a wired connection and emits a wireless connection. In order to use a repeater, it has to have a strong wireless connection to the source, but if you place it too close it will introduce interference and limit the distance it extends. Place it too far away and the receiving signal is too weak and therefore what it emits is a garbage signal. An access point doesn’t suffer from these challenges and instead takes a reliable wired connection and emits a clean wireless signal.

3. There are only 3 channels of 2.4ghz WiFi and even that may be generous. This topic gets messy quick, but the moral of the story is that WiFi has 11 selectable frequencies in the 2.4ghz band allowed by the FCC, but to achieve faster speeds, most WiFi devices use multiple neighboring channels at the same time. The result is that there are only 3 channels (1, 6, and 11) that do not have any overlap. The 5ghz band uses multiple frequencies at the same time too, but it has many more channels to choose from, making the issue far less problematic.

4. WiFi interference is easier to understand when you compare it to sound waves and conversations in a crowded room. The more people you put in a room, the more difficult it becomes to hear and focus on a conversation. At the same time, the closer you are to someone in a crowded room the easier it is to hear them. And finally, it’s very difficult to hear through walls or other solid objects. These principles can and should all be applied when designing a WiFi network. If you attempt to put too many access points in a space, you’ll just cloud up the frequencies with interference but the biggest determining factor of your speed and reliability is your proximity to the closest access point. Therefore, you must balance these two facts. Finally, understand that walls are the antonym of WiFi and that even the most powerful access points won’t go through them and yield 100% connection speeds.

5. WiFi operates mostly in the 2.4ghz band along with your cordless phone, Bluetooth headset, wireless camera, microwave oven, car alarm remote, and plenty of other devices. Needless to say, your WiFi doesn’t just compete with neighbors WiFi or other access points in your own network, but also hundreds of other devices that use the 2.4ghz band. The best way to use this information is to understand that WiFi interference is a very complicated subject and the closer you live to your neighbors, the more this holds true. Plan accordingly and remember, the closest device wins.

6. 5.0ghz is a mixed bag. Yes, it doesn’t suffer from nearly as much interference as 2.4ghz, but it also can’t penetrate objects as well as 2.4ghz. This is combined with the reality that not every device supports 5ghz meaning that even if you use 5ghz, you still must accommodate the 2.4ghz band. In the end, 5ghz makes many promises it simply can’t keep and 2.4ghz will be here to stay for quite some time.

WiFi is a complex topic that can’t be fully explained in a single blog post, but these 6 truths are probably the most influential in how we design our WiFi deployments.

If you’re looking for WiFi in your home or business, trust the professionals at Gamma Tech Services. No space is too large or too challenging for our team of experts.

VoIP: It Rises and Falls on the Network

VoIP is finally making a place in most businesses. It is estimated that over 50% of all businesses have switched to VoIP and that the remaining businesses will switch within the next 5 years. VoIP is a great advancement in voice services. A physical cooper line is no longer required and the ability to have multiple office locations and/or mobile offices is easily possible with the power of the Internet.

But for those that have switched, it’s not all peaches and roses. The reality is that most people do not fully understand that VoIP stands for “Voice over IP” and that the “IP” is your network.

No one understands the importance of the network and networking better than us. After all, it was networking that ultimately has allowed us to have so much success in the Audio Video market. While our competition struggles to understand the network so their customers can control their music, security, TVs, and lighting from their phone, we only seem to excel. The reason is because of our understanding of the power and importance of the network.

And now, we are applying the same expertise to our newly launched VoIP product.

Like the foundation of a home, the network is what everything else runs on top of and VoIP is perhaps the most picky. VoIP is almost like a fine marble floor. It can be gorgeous and of the finest quality but if the foundation is uneven or unstable, it will crack and fall apart. So many might be quick to blame the marble, but the actual cause is the foundation below it.

It is for this reason that we believe GTVoice will be such a reliable product. Our team of network engineers will ensure that a solid network foundation is provided for the VoIP services creating a perfect combo. Our wisest customers will combine our managed services with our GTVoice product for a comprehensive technology solution from a single provider.

Which brings us into the importance of a single provider for your VoIP and networking team. By using separate companies, you are stuck in the middle of two companies pointing fingers and blaming one another for each other’s problems. We have been involved in these environments and the result is anything but fun. In fact, it was part of the reason that we decided to launch GTVoice as we were tired of being involved in that finger pointing game. The customer was being hurt the most, and that goes against our promise for a more productive technological environment.

Reality is that GTVoice is still in its infancy, but we expect to rock the market as we have with audio video by understanding the importance of the network and continuing to provide our excellent level of customer-first, customer service!

One Vendor for them All

This blog post is a little biased, we have to admit that. But are you really wanting to have to call 4 different vendors for your technology? Wouldn’t you rather have one company that takes care of it all? That’s the advantage Gamma Tech Services offers. We are truly a one stop shop for everything technology in your business or home.

One call for your computer repair. One call for your networking. One call for your phones. One call for your security. One call for your audio/video. One call for your home automation. One call. Period. The biggest advantage is that you never have to worry about finger pointing or explaining to one company what another company did. You can truly leave the technology to us.

If you’re looking for an end to the pain that technology can bring, give us a call. After all, your technology is supposed to make you more productive and/or for your entertainment. Trust us to bring that back!

Fixing Your Own PC Could Cost You

Today we had yet another customer who ended up with a larger than expected invoice due to a decision to fix her own computer. She needed a software to open a file she couldn’t previously open and downloaded a software that promised to do the trick. It most certainly did the trick, but not the kind of trick she wanted.

She ended up with a computer loaded full of malware and tools that brought up ad after ad on her computer. Thankfully, like most of these issues, we were able to remove the problem softwares and get the computer back up to speed. What’s sad however is that it could have been avoided with a simple call to our office and some good antivirus software. Her computer is now protected properly with Gamma Tech Anti-Virus and she’s educated on what not to do. Hopefully, you can learn from her mistake and avoid the pain of an expensive invoice.

Give us a call before you play PC doctor. In the end, it may be something we can just help with over the phone, or if nothing else we can save you quite a bit compared to the potential damage the “fix” could cause.

5 Awesome Ways to Hide Your TV

We have made great strides in TVs in the last 15 years. Even in the last 10 years we have gone from fat, ugly flat screen TVs to super thin and light flat screens. And we all know the vast improvement in picture quality.

Despite these improvements, in some places, it still is far from ideal to have a TV seen on the wall. Interior Designers find that it acts as a black hole in the wall and conflicts with many designs or maybe even blocks a beautiful view out of a window. Thankfully, there are many different options for hiding the TV. Here are 5 methods that we use most often.

– Art Screens – Art Screens go by a variety of different names but they all share a similar design. They are a very innovative idea that basically puts a picture frame around the TV and retractable piece of art that rolls in front of the TV. When you want to watch TV, push a button and the art rolls up and reveals the TV. What’s great about them is that they can be installed in both new and retro construction environments. This means you don’t need to tear up or modify your wall to make the design work. On the negative, you must choose from a list of available prints or supply a copy of the digital print which is sometimes difficult to acquire and the medium is limited to a canvas type printed material. For the art connoisseuisseur, it’s not the best option.

– Art Lifts and Slides – Art Lifts and Slides come in a variety of different designs. The principle is basically to place a piece of canvas or framed art over a TV that is then physically lifted or slide out of the way when watching TV. The art can even be two pieces that split and slide apart to reveal the TV. The effect gives a little bit more of a “wow” factor than even the Art Screens and they also allow you to bring your own art. This means you can truly use any piece of art that fits the size criteria. The disadvantage is that this is limited to a new or remodel construction environment. Typically the wall must be built out to allow the TV to be flush in the wall. It’s a solution that requires a little bit more planning.

– Mirror TVs – Mirror TVs are a fun option. They allow for your TV to be covered by a mirror that when the TV is turned on, becomes see through. The effect is fun and like all of these methods, it brings a great “wow” factor. It’s a solution that can be applied in a retro environment without modifying the wall, or it can even be installed behind bathroom mirrors in a remodel or new construction setting. The biggest disadvantage is that the mirrors present a good deal of glare that is not ideal for rooms with lots of windows. The mirror also reduces some of the contrast. We don’t recommend them for the main TV in the home but they are an excellent solution for bedrooms and other areas that have lower amounts of ambient light.

– Under Bed Lift – The under bed lift almost has to be seen to believe it, but basically it is exactly as it sounds. It allows for a TV to be placed under the bed and then come out and rise at the foot of the bed when it’s time to watch. It’s an excellent solution when you want to keep the walls clean and give the ultimate “wow” favors. It is friendly to retro environments as it simply is installed under the bed. The biggest disadvantage is cost. Expect to pay 25k for the device plus install and the TV.

– Ceiling Drop – Ceiling Drops are easy to understand. It simply allows a TV to be placed in a ceiling and have it flip down when needed. If you’ve been in an SUV or Van with a drop down screen, you’re familiar with the idea. Like the screen in vehicles, the biggest disadvantage is that it can be easily seen even though it is flush with the ceiling. It is also not inexpensive and requires attic access or a new construction/remodel environment. But, these are ideal in rooms with limited wall space or rooms with large windows that we often find in Naples beach homes with rooms overlooking the water.

We at Gamma Tech Services strive to be very designer friendly and often times a TV simply doesn’t fit into the design or blocks a beautiful view of the Gulf. If you’re looking for an Audio Video company that understands the value in keeping technology hidden when needed, give us a call. We are SWFL’s go to choice for Interior Designers.

Small Speakers = Small Sound

We have a love hate relationship with Bose. On the positive, they have helped to guide the charge on the “home theater” and encourage people to spend a little bit extra for speakers. On the negative, they developed a line of speakers that are mostly far over promised and gimmicky. One of their most popular is their small Jewel speakers. Which brings us to this fact:

Small Speakers = Small or Poor Sound

That’s all there is to it. There’s no magic to it. The reality is there is no way to fool physics and physics tells us that larger objects produce lower sounds. But this doesn’t change the fascination with people and small speakers.

Thankfully there is a solution. The solution is to combine larger speakers with smaller speakers or a subwoofer with smaller speakers. This is Bose’s model and for the most part it works. Except they have taken the size of their speakers a little too far. The result is it’s very hard to hear people speaking. If you’ve ever had a surround sound system that was hard to hear the vocals, it was probably a Bose.

The best approach is to use speakers that are slightly larger and have a lower crossover. The crossover is the frequency that the smaller speakers stop playing and let the bigger speakers or subwoofer take over. On the flip side, it is the highest frequency that the subwoofer will play up to. Typically, most subwoofers hit their prime between 25 and 80 hertz. Ideally therefore, you’d like to find speakers that play from 80 hertz up to your highest frequency, 20,000 hertz. With that you cover the entire frequency band and make sure that you don’t miss any of the action.

This is the formula that we apply and why our systems are so much more pleasing to the ear. The result is audio that allows you to actually hear what is being said.

Going back to Bose. Their Jewel speakers bottom out at 280hz and their sub kicks in at 100hz. The result is 180hz of completely lost frequency response between 100hz and 280hz. The worst part is that it’s in these frequencies that most male voices fall into. The result is audio that is very hard to discern what is being said.

If you’re struggling to hear the words on your TV or surround sound system, give us a call. You’ll be surprised to hear just how much you’ve been missing by not having a professionally designed system.

Losing an Employee? Take 3 Easy Steps to Limit the Loss of your Data

When it comes time to let an employee go, there are quite a few stresses that come into play. One of those can and should be the data in the business. Reality is there is no sure fire way to protect your data from malicious intent, but here are 3 steps you can take to limit the loss and ease of destruction.

1. Change your Passwords: Never use the same password across multiple accounts at the business. But do make use of a password logging tool. Companies like LastPass and others offer solutions that assist when you need to “change the locks” on your passwords. It can serve as a list of accounts and passwords that need changed (see item 3) and can also reduce production loss for the rest of the team. Be careful though to always use a very secure password for the master password that is at least 12 characters long, but preferably 20 or more.

2. Backup your data. Unfortunately it is not uncommon to see an employee maliciously destroy company data upon their dismal. The best and only way to protect against this is backing up your data to a cloud based environment. This limits physical destruction as well. If you didn’t already have enough reasons to backup your data, well there’s another one. Remember if this does ever happen to you, you can and should call the police to report the incident. It is illegal to delete files for malicious reasons.
https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030

3. Have a dismissal guide. A dismissal guide is basically a reverse of the steps you take when bringing an employee on board. The easiest way to form one is to write it when you hire a new employee. As you provide access to different logins, softwares, VPNs, etc mark down these items and use it as a check list of things to “undo” in the event of letting an employee go. You certainly don’t want to forget to change a certain password or receive back a piece of technology with important data. Don’t forget to consider data that might be harmful in the hands of your competitors.

At Gamma Tech Services we seek to provide protection for our Managed Services clients when they lose an employee. If you let us know in advance, we can be sure to assist with these processes and ensure that your data is as protected as possible.

Point that Somewhere Else!

No one likes finger pointing. It’s a pain for the customer and typically it makes the people doing the pointing look bad too. Reality is that it’s going to happen despite our best efforts, but there are a couple things you can do to reduce it.

1. Choose a company that offers a variety of services. If there is the option for a “one stop shop”, then go for it. Otherwise, attempt to find a person or company that can manage the multiple vendors required to complete the task.
2. If you find a company you like working with, ask them for referrals and companies/people they like working with. This helps in two ways. You’ll know you are getting a reputable referral but also both parties will seek to not blame each other for any issues. The referring company won’t want to look foolish for recommending a poor company, and the company that earned the referral want to point fingers at the company that brought them in.
3. Do some research of your own on the project. It’s important to trust whoever you are working with, especially if it’s technology related, but sometimes when finger pointing is happening, you have to serve as the judge. If you have done some research on the topic, you’ll have some better “wisdom” on who’s to blame.

At Gamma Tech Services, we take every possible step to eliminate finger pointing. We start by offering a large range of services in house that in most cases would require multiple companies, and we have a strong relationship with strategic partners that we work along side. The result is a happier customer that doesn’t have to deal with finger pointing when problems arise.

Wait… Don’t Sign

As a business owner, we understand just how busy you can be. Often times you have to be everything to everyone and more than likely fill many roles. The reality is it is overwhelming at times. But some items in business require you to slow down.  One of those is contracts.

Technology vendors like Gamma Tech Services are always battling the ever changing nature of technology.  If there is a way to provide some guarantee for us, we are all for it.  Contracts are one way that this can be accomplished, but they aren’t always a good deal for the one signing them.

What most business owners don’t realize is that the contract is negotiable and often can be removed completely.  Often if it can’t be removed, it can be used for leverage for lower pricing for a longer commitment.  When you sign the contract, understand that you are stuck with that company for the full length of the contract or pay severe penalties.  Below we have listed the contracts that most businesses are signing and how to ensure you get the best deal.

 

  • Internet (Comcast)
    • Normal Term: 3 Years
    • Negotiate: 1 Year
    • Details:  Comcast Business Class Internet sales reps will try to get you to sign a 3 year contract.  This is easily moved down to a 1 Year.  They will tell you that with a 3 year you can get lower pricing, but the offer is not worth it, and with competition finally entering the market in SWFL through Fiber providers such as Summit Broadband, you don’t want to find out you are stuck with Comcast 2 years from now.
  • Phone Services
    • Normal Term: 3 Years
    • Negotiate: No Contract
    • Details: Most phone services will negotiate their contracts.  We have seen them negotiate in two ways.  One is through lower pricing for a longer term and the second is for a short or sometimes even no contract.  With companies like Comcast, it is a little bit more difficult to negotiate but smaller companies are more lenient.  We find that phone systems are in the middle of great change and reality is you don’t want to be stuck with a phone company that is not providing the service you need.  Be especially weary of VoIP companies.  Remember that with VoIP your phones run over your network and if your network is poor, your phones will be as well.  How does the phone company handle these issues when they happen and will they just point their fingers at your network?  With our product, GT Voice, we don’t even ask for a contract and if we are your IT vendor, there is no finger pointing.
  • IT Managed Services
    • Normal Term: 1 Year
    • Negotiate: 1 Year with Cancelling Fees
    • Details:  IT Managed Services can be a little tricky.  From our prospective, we want to make sure the business is not going to take advantage of us by paying us for 1 month and then cancelling.  We also have significant start up costs that come into play.  Your mileage will vary, but we find that negotiating for a contract with “a way out” is the best model here.  It’s not wise to sign a longer contract in exchange for lower pricing.  Remember, you are buying a service and not a product.  Unlike a product, you don’t have anyway to truly guarantee the level of service will be maintained and having a long contract will only serve as a temptation for low quality service.  We have seen it many times, and the results are not good.
  • Printer Lease
    • Normal Term: 1 Year
    • Negotiate: Up to 3 Years
    • Details:  Your printer lease is a good item to negotiate lower pricing in exchange for a longer term.  Printer technology doesn’t change much and we find that if the company you are leasing from has been in business for a while and has a good reputation, they will continue to provide good or at least adequate services when needed.  In the end it’s the printer that you are leasing and lower pricing can really add up if you print large quantities.
  • Security Monitoring
    • Normal Term: 1 Year
    • Negotiate: Up to 3 Years
    • Details: Security companies are built for subsidizing installation costs in exchange for monitoring contracts.  If you are thinking you want your security system monitored, and you should, then you have little to lose and much to gain.  Negotiate for a longer term, up to 3 years, and get the installation of the actual system as low as possible.  In the end you’ll find that you can save quite a bit.
  • Merchant Services (Credit Card Machines)
    • Normal Term: 1 to 3 Years
    • Negotiate: No Contract, or a smart contract.
    • Details:  Merchant Services companies are notorious for shady business practices.  They promise 1.6% rates and when your bill comes you find out that most of your charges came in at 4% since they were “business” cards.  The moral of the story?  Keep them honest by avoiding the contract when possible, but be strategic.  Sometimes these companies will offer savings on the their terminals in exchange for a contract.  What most small businesses don’t realize is that you can have several merchant services accounts. This means that if you decide you no longer like your current company, you can “switch” by no longer using the old company to process the cards.  Be careful though, as some contracts require a high monthly payment or a minimum processing fee that might take away this option.

Next time you are presented with a contract, stop and ensure you can’t make any changes to the contract before you sign.  It might save you thousands in the end.  Our customers who are a part of our IT Managed Services can and should involve us in any of these negotiations so that we can ensure you get the best bang for you buck combined with flexibility in the the future.

Time for a New TV? Manufacturers Think So!

When’s the best time to buy a TV?  The answer truly depends on what kind of buyer you are, but regardless of the type of buyer you are, summer is probably the right answer.  Why Summer?  Summer is when manufactures get the old out and bring in the new.  More accurately it’s right about now.  Late Spring and early Summer. This is great news for the shopper that is looking for a great deal and it’s also great news for the shopper who likes to have the latest and greatest.

For the value shopper, you’ll find that you can buy “last year’s” model for a huge savings.  Our go-to TV for our customers has been Samsung’s 7150 series TVs.  They offer excellent motion clarity and color reproduction in a very thin design, but they are most definitely not inexpensive.  But, in the last month these TVs have been anywhere between 25% to 50% off!  That’s an incredible deal.  Quite often, you might be able to afford a TV that has a picture quality that exceeds that of the “new” models simply because it is a step up from the line that would fit your budget if the discount didn’t exist.  With TVs, newer isn’t always better and quite often, you get what you pay for… unless you are buying a premium model that has been discounted for the next premium model to follow it.

Prefer to have the latest and greatest?  Well now is a good time for you as well as “next year’s” models are being released to replace the current models.  Often you’ll find that the pricing on these new models isn’t as bad as you might think.  Sure they will be cheaper with time, especially this time next year, but just like buying a new car, the best way to enjoy the new TV for the longest period is to buy it when it is just coming out.  You’ll also find that warranty repairs and parts will be easier to find since the TV is expected to be manufactured for the rest of the year.  And if you prefer to always have the latest TV, you’ll find that you can flip the TV you purchase today many months from now and still have the most current TV model available.  You might be surprised what you can get for it.  Like cars, this is never a smart move in the long run, but if you always want the latest, this is the best way to get it done without completely breaking the bank.

So if you are thinking of getting a TV in the near future, now is probably the right time.  4K has finally become affordable and as we prepare to wash out last year’s models, you’ll find some excellent deals or maybe you can splurge and get a new Super Ultra High Definition TV from Samsung for their 2015 line up.