Posts

Disabled-Gamers-Help

Help for gamers with disabilities

Manual dexterity is just one of the issues that can affect would-be gamers with disabilities.

However, there is help out there, and the latest news is that Microsoft has just launched a new Xbox controller that people with disabilities can adapt to their specific needs.

The controller is expected to be released worldwide later this year and users will be able to operate its two large buttons with hands, elbows or feet. It can be placed in a number of positions and there will be a range of add-on devices including bite switches, foot pedals and touch-sensitive pads.

There will also be an app that will allow users to personalise their control set-ups and switch between three controller configurations.

According to a report in the Guardian the wireless device will be powered by a rechargeable battery but there will also be an optional power supply for those who will need controls, such as mouth-operated quadsticks, that can draw a lot of power.

The design team worked with occupational therapists including one with experience with spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries.

In the UK, an Oxford-based charity called SpecialEffect has for the last two years been providing support and adapted technology to gamers with disabilities.

Not only do its volunteers go out and meet individuals, it offers a variety of equipment from a simple switch, to a full eye-tracking system that can cost thousands of pounds. The equipment allows people to manipulate games controllers through ways other than using their hands.

It also offers lifelong support with using the equipment, which is offered on long-term loan to those who need it.

SEO

SEO & maximising the potential of your content

Why good content needs the backing of technical SEO for your website

It is well known that Google places a high value on regularly uploaded, good quality, new content, such as blogs, on websites.

It has algorithms to assess quality no longer simply by focusing on the frequency of key words or phrases, but also on the information your blog contains.

However, it is also important that the technical content behind the blogs is done correctly.  They won’t be found or listed unless they are correctly indexed by the search engine.

You can find out whether a blog has been indexed with the help of a Google tool currently being updated and at beta stage. It is called the Index Coverage Report and will provide an analysis of pages that have been successfully indexed, not indexed because of an error or have been blocked.

There is a detailed help page that explains each status found in the report.

Combined with Google Analytics it makes it possible to analyse any patterns in the indexing – or not- of pages on your website.

The sorts of issues that may affect correct indexation are the numbers of internal links in blogs, the length of pages and meta tags.

If there are several blogs with similar content on the same topic you need to assign priority to one of these using what are called canonical tags so that Google knows which URL is the main page to consider.

It is also important to consider the speed at which a page loads.  Slow speeds can significantly affect bounce rates, since site visitors are impatient and will leave if a page takes too long to load.

If all this sounds too much for you as a website owner, that’s what we’re here for.

Cyber-Insurance

Protect your business from the consequences of cyber-attacks

Protect your business from the consequences of cyber-attacks

Cyber-attacks into companies’ IT databases, email phishing scams and website hacks with accompanying ransomware demands are regularly in the news these days.

They can cause untold disruption to the individuals whose personal data is stolen, especially if that data includes bank details and money is taken by the hackers.

But what about the costs to business in lost working hours as well as repairing their IT systems to ensure there are more secure?

A fairly new form of insurance is now available that can help to protect businesses from the consequences. It’s called Cyber Liability Insurance Cover (CLIC for short).

With the introduction of stricter data protection rules (GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations) due in May this year this cover is something businesses would be wise to consider.

Among the cover they may provide for are:

  • Data breach and privacy crisis management: Examples include expenses related to the management of an incident, the investigation, the remedial action that needs to be taken, data subject notification, call management, credit checking for data subjects, legal costs and regulatory fines.
  • Multimedia/Media liability cover. Third-party damages such as specific defacement of your website and theft of intellectual property.
  • Extortion liability cover – in the event of a ransomware demand.
  • Network security liability. Third-party damages as a result of denial of access, costs related to data stored with third-party suppliers and costs related to the theft of data from third-party systems.

You will need to find a well-informed specialist broker to advise you as this is still a fairly new form of policy in the insurance market.

Given that all businesses are different, you may only need certain types of cover and it would help to give your broker estimated costs and expenses that are likely to affect your business in the event of a security breach.

Also, it is always wise to check for yourself the small print, exemptions and the details of exactly what cover the policy provides.

In the new age where businesses rely so heavily on their IT systems CLIC is certainly something for businesses to consider.

Nintendo-Switch

Nintendo Switch sales soar

Nintendo Switch sales soar

In just 10 months since it was launched, sales of the Nintendo Switch have outsold the Wii U.

Total Switch sales have reached 14.86 million, more than the total of 13.56 million Wii U units sold between 2012 and 2017, when it was discontinued.

Tech gaming experts speculate that ultra-high definition gaming such as the new Xbox and PlayStation versions have had little effect on Switch sales and argue that it is because Nintendo has concentrated on really entertaining new versions of much-loved games.

Others argue that, although hardly an impulse buy, Nintendo priced the Switch cleverly to be more affordable than the Xbox and PlayStations, as well as managing supply to stimulate appetite without building potential buyers’ frustration with long waiting times.

In addition, the Switch is a hybrid of a handheld and home console and it is easy to switch use between the two options so that it has little competition.

But could it also be down to nostalgia?

Two Switch games, Super Mario Odyssey and Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, have been widely praised and both have won awards.

Certainly, nostalgia plays a part, but according to the website polygon.com a big selling point for the Switch is that it is something that parents feel safe in buying for their children: “Nintendo doesn’t just make games that are universally enjoyable, but it also builds in easier modes so that kids and parents can play together and have fun”.

New games planned for 2018

Here’s a selection of more than a dozen already announced: Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition – due in spring 2018, The World Ends With You – Final Remix – no date yet,  Dark Souls Remastered – due in May 2018, and later in the year a new Yoshi game, which is still a work in progress.

Website-Design

New Year New Website?

New Year new website?

December and January are traditionally the time of year when business owners review performance over the previous year.

The next step is developing business and marketing plans for the coming year.

Perhaps the plan is to grow the business with its existing services or products.  Perhaps opportunities have been identified to add to the range of what the business can offer.

Whatever the goals the business has set, for them to be successful will mean a fresh look at their marketing.

These days, there is hardly a business that can exist without a website, even if it is the most simple and basic.

Research has shown that potential customers will almost certainly head to the website first if someone has recommended a company for a product or service they are seeking.

So as part of the marketing plan, which can cover every aspect of online communication, from social media to e-newsletters to websites, it is worth considering whether it is time to refresh or redesign your website.

This will be especially important for those businesses who offer services that do not change significantly and frequently as it can be a challenge to keep them at the top of online searches when search engines like Google place a high priority on regular additions to a site when assessing them.

It is also true that designs start to look tired after a few years and can benefit from updating their look, while also making them easier to use.

If you feel it’s time to refresh your website please contact Ross IT, for advice, a quote and to talk through your options.

Christmas-Greetings

Christmas Greetings

We wish you all

A very happy Christmas

and a

Prosperous New Year

The end of the year is often the time when business owners can sit back, reflect on their past year and plan ahead for the next year.

If you are considering starting the new year with some changes or additions to your website, or even having a new one built we’re happy to help and advise.

Give us a call or email if you want some guidance and help:

Contact us here

protect-yourself-online

FREE service to protect yourself online

Will consumers use a new free service to protect themselves from dodgy websites?

A new, free service has been launched by IBM and two other industry bodies, the Packet Clearing House and the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA), with the aim of helping consumers and businesses to avoid websites that are known to be malicious.

Quad 9 uses 19 lists of web-based sites to identify those known to be used by phishing gangs.  It works by getting users to re-set their routers’ DNS settings to 9.9.9.9.  This blocks people from visiting known bad sites and helps users to avoid falling victim to phishing scams using websites that appear to be reputable financial organisations.

“Anyone anywhere can use it,” said Phil Rettinger, GCA’s president and chief operating officer.

The service, he says, will be “privacy sensitive,” with no logging of the addresses making DNS requests—”we will keep only [rough] geolocation data,” he said, for the purposes of tracking the spread of requests associated with particular malicious domains. “We’re anonymizing the data, sacrificing on the side of privacy.”

There is more information about the service here https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/11/new-quad9-dns-service-blocks-malicious-domains-for-everyone/

Security experts are doubtful whether users will take advantage of the service.

According to an article on Quad 9 by the BBC: “Independent security expert Graham Cluley said relatively few people fiddled with the settings on their routers to change the way they found web addresses.

Getting across the benefits of switching would be a ” big challenge”, he said, given how reluctant people were to adopt other useful security technologies.

He pointed to the difficulties there had been in getting people to use password managers or VPN (Virtual Private Networks).

But as the numbers of people who have had money stolen through phishing scams continues to climb, perhaps it is time to take security a lot more seriously.

SNES-Classic-Mini

SNES Mini

“a charming little relic of a distant time”

These are the words of one reviewer of the latest games console released by Nintendo, the Classic Mini SNES, at the end of September.

Retro-gaming has become a popular activity as first-generation gamers, now adults and parents, want to share the delights of the characters and games on consoles they remember so fondly to their children. Not only this, but it brings game playing back into the living room and something to be shared with friends or family.

But the newest addition from the company, whose fortunes have been revived by the Nintendo Switch, is in short supply.

Although the company has promised to manufacture more and to block multiple pre-orders in an effort to prevent the supply problems that saw last year’s NES Classic selling on sites like eBay for considerably more than their actual store retail site, so far these measures seem not to have worked.

Bearing in mind that Christmas is on the horizon that may mean queuing in the early hours at an actual retail store when the next shipment is due in, unless you want to buy one online at almost double the actual retail price.

Another drawback is that the console does not include a plug, which you will have to buy separately.

It will, however, be worth it, according to reviewers.

The mini is a faithful small-scale reproduction of the original console and controls, although it now plugs into modern TVs through an HDMI cable and has additional suspend and rewind features so that you can stop playing and return later. While you cannot download or expand the games available the Classic Mini SNES comes with 21 traditional games that so delighted past generations, including Final Fantasy VI and Super Mario World, Super Mario, Castlevania IV, Super Metroid, Zelda and Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts.

The Guardian’s Keith Stuart says: “The greatest thing about the Mini SNES is that it will allow the original purchasers to quickly and easily share these memories with their children, their siblings or their old friends once again.”

Super-Mario-Odyssey-Update

Super Mario and Nintendo Switch

Super Mario and Switch update

It’s official!  Nintendo has announced that Super Mario is not as we have all believed a plumber!

As revealed in the Independent recently the cuddly Italian’s profile has been updated and he is now “all-round sporty”.

For those of you hooked on the loveable retro-game character, who have now embraced the Nintendo Switch, there is still a while to wait for the latest adventure Super Mario Odyssey featuring the loveable former plumber and his new friend Cappy.

It’s not due for release until October 27 when Mario gets some new moves that will include being able to throw Cappy.

Super Mario and CappyIn the meantime, perhaps the latest adventure, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, will keep you going.

According to a review, again in the Independent,  it is not as awful as people might fear.

The storyline sees the Mushroom Kingdom overrun as a result of a freak scientific experiment, which has merged two worlds together.  The Kingdom has been taken over by the evil Rabbids and only Mario, together with two partners, can rescue it.

It is basically a combat game, where players travel through stages to defeat Rabbids armed with everything from guns to huge concrete slabs.

But it takes co-operative strategies and planning to combat the different enemy battle styles so it is clearly a multi-player game if you fancy a session with friends.

According to the review there’s also a good deal of humour for when the pace slackens.

Dominating web space

Big companies dominating web space

The “Big Three” dominating web space

Think of website searching and what name springs to mind? – Google

What about social media? – Facebook

Online selling? – Amazon

Despite the best efforts of IT innovators, these three effectively now dominate their niches, far outstripping the likes of Bing, Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp. In fact, Facebook now owns both Instagram and WhatsApp.

There is also speculation among tech experts that Google may be preparing to buy Snap, the company behind Snapchat.

According to BBC Tech correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, the dominance of the big three means that while LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat will have substantial audiences they will struggle to make much money.

What does this mean for businesses and marketing?

Leaving aside LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft and is a specialist niche for businesses and organisations for both conversational groups and for recruitment, business marketing will need more than ever to have a presence on both Facebook and Google.

This means paying attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) so that the business’ website is easy to find when its service or product is being searched for.

It means regularly updating website content, something Google particularly now monitors and for those businesses selling services that may not change dramatically or often, unlike products, one of the best ways to do this is to add regular blogs on topics of interest to potential clients and customers.

It means that businesses should understand who their target customers are, what motivates and interests them, and cater to their requirements.

It also means defining clear goals for any marketing on social media, which is often about creating an identity so that potential clients and customers remember the company’s name and see it as having a solid reputation for the quality of its customer service and reliability.

It also means developing a trustworthy reputation, so that there are secure means of making payment online, if appropriate, and a very clearly-stated policy of conforming to the new rules due to come into force on 25 May 2018 (GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations) on protecting people’s personal information.