Is 4K Worth It?

The short answer: yes. The long answer? Read on to find out.

Every year TV manufacturers work to create the next buzz that will sell TVs. Reality is that TVs haven’t changed much since they went flat and HD, but that’s a problem for technology manufacturers who need a reason for you to replace your TV with a new one every couple of years.

So it started with “Smart” TV’s a couple years back. There is no defined standard for what a smart TV is and with so many options to make your TV smart with devices like Chromecast and Apple TV, it is really something that is not needed and often is slow and hard to use. But it helped to sell TVs as everyone had to have a “smart” TV.

Then it was 3d. Let’s just say it was a desperate year for TV technology and thankfully that came and went.

Then it was Curved TVs and in-fact this is still being pushed. We aren’t sure how this one will pan out but we see it being something a little longer lasting than 3D. It does have some added benefit but mostly is just different for the sake of being different and for some people that’s all it takes.

This year it’s 4K. And unlike the others, 4K is most definitely here to stay. So first, what is 4K and why is it needed? 4K refers to the resolution of the TV and like “HD” before it, promises to bring enhanced image clarity and sharpness to everything you watch on your TV. It is truly 4 times the clarity of 1080p. But, you may wonder why we need a clearer picture than 1080P HD.

To answer that question, we need to get a little technical, so hold on!

Every TV is comprised of thousands of little color dots called pixels. These pixels individually change color to create the image you see on your TV. The smaller the pixels, the clearer the image. Notice that last sentence and consider this. An 80″ 1080P TV has the same number of pixels as a 32″ 1080P TV. This is done simply by increasing the size of each pixel to fill the 80″ TV.

Therefore, as TVs have grown in size, traditional 1080P HD TVs have become less and less clear. 4K promises to fix this problem. But it’s important to understand that there is no problem to solve for TVs about 55″ and under. That’s because at these sizes, the pixels remain small enough even with traditional 1080P HD to produce a very clear image. In fact, at these smaller sizes it becomes difficult to tell the difference between HD and 4K.

Finally, it’s important to understand that 4K, like HD when it first came out, is ahead of its time and has limited content available. Most of the content currently is being delivered through the smart TV’s software and is therefore cumbersome to use and limited to only a few shows or movies. This should change in the next year as more set top boxes become available with 4K that you can plug into your TV, but count on this: it will take at least 1 more year before there is any useable 4K content to watch. In the meantime, all of the 4K TVs support 4K upscaling which does hold some value and presents a picture that’s between HD and 4K.

So the longer, short answer is this: if you are purchasing a TV that is over 55″, go ahead and splurge on a 4K set. But reality is, you’ll be waiting quite some time before you’ll actually enjoy some 4K content.

Security You’ll Actually Use

Traditional security systems really haven’t changed in many years and unfortunately are crippled by the limited information that they provide. Often we are simply notified of an alarm going off, but we don’t have any information regarding the reason.   Many times it is a false alarm, causing us to simply believe it is “crying wolf” or worse we find we don’t even bother to use the system.

At Gamma Tech Services we present true security that isn’t just binary on/off but instead uses intelligence to alert you of abnormal activities without you even needing to arm the system. We can apply rules and take different actions based on if it’s night or day, if you are home or away, and which doors/windows are opened. Combine this intelligence with security cameras that can provide visual confirmation when you are away and you have security that is truly worth using.

Perhaps one of our favorite features is our auto arming and disarming of the security system. We can do this based on a couple rules such as at a certain time each night, during the day if no one is home, and really anything else you can imagine. And when your security system is integrated into your whole home automation system you’ll find that you’ll use your security much more. We can program a single “Goodbye” button that arms the security system, turns off all the lights, turns off the music and TVs, and locks the doors.

At Gamma Tech Services we may not be marketed as a “security” company, but in actuality we provide complete, true security that you’ll actually use. Your home is worth protecting, trust Gamma Tech Services with your security needs!

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.

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.

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.