Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sending HTML formatted e-Mail

For a while we have been looking into the best way to send formatted HTML e-Mails.

We want to send a monthly Newsletter to our Customers, and I run a Mailing list for our local FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) branch. Writing HTML E-mails manually and trying to send them via Outlook just doesn't work properly.

We have just completed testing a HTML Emailing service from MailChimp and it seems to work really well. So if anyone else is looking for an easy way to send HTML Emails I have put MailChimp in our Blog Links section.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

VOIP and Skype

Everyone is talking about Voice Over IP (VOIP) and Skype. So I thought I would explain what these terms are, and why you may benefit from this technology.

Voice Over IP is voice communications across the internet. So basically it's a telephone call, but the sound is transmitted across the internet, instead of down a normal phone line. If the people at each end are both using VOIP, and are using the same VOIP provider, the call is usually free. If you call someone on a normal phone line, the sound travels across the internet and only the last leg of the journey is over the normal phone network. This means you can call most parts of the world for the cost of a local call.

There are many different VOIP systems and providers. Some use special phones that plug directly into your broadband connection, and work just like a normal phone. Other VOIP systems like Skype run on your PC, and you speak using a phone handset that plugs into your PC.

Skype - the pros & cons

The main benefits of Skype are
  • It is widely used by domestic PC users. Currently there can be in excess of 8 million Skype users "online" at any one time worldwide
  • It is easy to install and configure, no special expertise is needed to set it up
  • It can run on PC's and Apple Mac's
  • Skype phone handsets are readily available from high street stores

So what are the disadvantages

  • You need to keep your PC turned on to use it
  • It's not as flexible as some of the other VOIP systems


Small businesses would probably be better off with a VOIP system that uses stand alone VOIP phones that plug into your broadband connection directly, and provide advanced features. Please feel free to contact us at ASL Computer Services for more information on business VOIP solutions.

Domestic PC users will appreciate the ease of setting Skype up, and also it's popularity. Your friends and relatives abroad, and in this country, are probably already using Skype. If you want to download Skype visit our website and follow the Skype link on our website main menu.

Chris Moody

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The problem of viruses

With more and more PC's being connected to the Internet on a permanent basis via broadband, and also networked together within your office or home the spread of viruses has become a major problem. If you connect any PC without any protection to the Internet via broadband it can become infected with viruses within a matter of hours. Quite a scary thought.

A virus infected PC may cause you a number of problems:

  • It may infect your other PC's in your office or home
  • It can delete or corrupt your data and documents
  • It could damage Windows itself which may necessitate a repair or re-installation of the operating system
  • Often viruses will search your PC for email addresses and then send itself to those people without your knowledge, thereby infecting your friends, customers, and suppliers machines with the same virus
  • It may make your PC run slowly, which means every task you do takes longer

So how do you protect your PC?

  • Ensure you have a reputable Anti Virus program installed and that it has not expired. If your PC is for home use (not business) there are Anti virus programs available totally free of charge, so there is no reason to not be protected (Speak to whoever does your computer support about the free Anti Virus programs for home use)
  • Make sure your Anti Virus program is kept up to date with new virus definitions via the Internet.
  • It should be configured to monitor your PC in the background continually looking for virus infections
  • Scanning of all incoming and outgoing emails for virus infections should be enabled
  • Perform regular scheduled scans of your hard disk drives at least once a week

So check your PC's, both home and office, and make sure they are protected from viruses. If you wish to obtain a Free Anti Virus program (for home use only) why not visit our website and follow the link called " AVG Free Edition Anti Virus".
For business use, or home PC users that want more features and greater levels of protection follow the link called "AVG Anti Virus suite" on our website, or follow this link

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Our new blog

This is ASL Computer Services first "toe in the water" on blogging. We are not sure yet how this will evolve over the coming months, we will just have to see how it goes.
We may use blogging in a number of ways:

  • online useful computer hint's and tips
  • Interesting computer and e-commerce related articles

If you would like anything specific included in the Blog, let us know and we will consider it.

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services