Configuring a modem that Eircom havenâ€™t supplied to work with your EFibre connection isnâ€™t actually that difficult but if you look at the Eircom website or you talk to their support team you will only find the settings for the ADSL connection.
The reason that I needed to configure a new modem for an Eircom EFibre connection is the Eircom FT2000 router that the supplied to one of our customers has a defect. The bridging mode does not work. It should disable the NAT, DHCP, wireless, firewall and VOIP features of the modem. When you enable bridge mode by going to Internet>VDSL>Edit and change the connection type to Bridging, some of the options on the page such as NAT become disabled however when you save your settings you will still be natted, DHCP is still enabled and so too are all the other features that should be disabled once bridging is enabled. In my opinion this was disabled or broken intentionally. My investigation shows that in the past few months a lot of users of bridging functionality have encountered serious bugs such as a rebooting loop and bridging being disabled after power is disconnected from the device. My personal experience is that ISPâ€™s donâ€™t want you to use bridging so it wouldnâ€™t surprise me if this was a very low priority bug to fix. The problem is, I have spent at least six hours working on the bridging problem and a further eight hours working on trying to source, collect, install and configure a replacement router. All while a busy office has no Internet connection.
So if you have one of these Eircom FT2000 routers and you need something that works and that allows bridging, I highly recommend the Netgear D6400. It has a lot of great features, support for A, B, G, N and AC wireless standards, 4 1GB Ethernet ports, two USB ports and a very straight forward user interface.
To connect your third party router to Eircom, you will need to apply the following settings.
Make absolutely certain that you configure the VLAN part. If you overlook this you will not establish a connection. Eircom support currently don’t mention anything about this.
At computer support services we have really fallen in love with Windows 10!
With the truck load of fixes and improvements, you will really notice the benefits when moving from both Windows 7 and 8.1.
Take the new start menu.Â Gone is the start screen from Windows 8 when you are using a standard keyboard and mouse.Â Disconnect the keyboard and mouse to use a touch screen and an updated and cleaner start screen returns to make touch first access more efficient. The new start menu shows a list of your most commonly used or most needed applications and utilities on the left.Â On the right it shows a few live tiles for quick access to weather, news, music, the Windows store, search and photos.Â At a glance seems to be the main objective here.
Speaking of at a glance, we just love the new quick access view in Windows explorer.Â It shows commonly used files on the bottom of the screen and commonly used folders at the top.Â Itâ€™s the largest time saver to come to windows since search came to the start menu in Windows Vista.
When notification centres came to mobile phones we wondered how we ever kept track of everything without them.Â With notifications in Windows 10 youâ€™ll think the same.Â Jump to them quickly by pressing windows and A or swipe / drag in from the right of your screen.
Another great time saver is virtual desktops.Â By far our favourite feature.Â This has been available in Gnome in Linux for example for at least ten years or more.Â We are delighted that this feature has finally made its debut in Windows. When you are working on a complicated task and you have twelve notepad windows open but someone comes to your desk needing help with something else very quickly, donâ€™t lose your place.Â Press control windows and d to create a new virtual desktop.Â Switch to it by using control windows and right arrow.Â Now continue working away.Â When youâ€™re done, hit control windows and F4 to close that desktop.Â Or, if you need to get back to what you were originally working on, press control, Windows and left arrow and your original virtual desktop along with all the windows you had open will come into focus again.
Along with virtual desktops came a new task switcher view.Â Press Alt and Tab as usual to cycle between applications.Â However if like us you tend to have twenty or more windows open at one time, alt and tab can be quite cumbersome.Â Try Windows and tab instead.Â Unlike alt and Tab you can release the Windows and Tab key combination and then either click or use the arrows to find the window you want to switch to.Â With Windows and Tab you can also switch to different virtual desktops.Â A really nice tip here is if you want to move directly to a window open on another virtual desktop, arrow over to your virtual desktop and press space.Â Then arrow over to the window on that virtual desktop that you want to move back to and hit enter.Â Â If you had just arrowed to the virtual desktop and pressed enter you would have moved to the window that you were in last.Â These little features are what make windows 10 so fantastic.
There are plenty of sites around the web that will give you comprehensive lists of Windows 10 features and tip.Â Try www.thorrott.com for example.
We donâ€™t sell workstations, servers, printers, scanners, network equipment, keyboards, mice, monitors, CCTV systems, door access control systems, tablets, phones or two way radios. We donâ€™t see it as being the best use of our time and resources. Instead, we advise our customers on what they should buy based on a good understanding of their current needs and future plans.
Every new customer we speak to without fail isnâ€™t happy with their computer manufacturer or their IT services provider. Thatâ€™s not necessarily because the IT services provider or computer manufacturer has done something wrong. Itâ€™s generally because the expectations that the customer had werenâ€™t properly communicated or understood.
For example: we spoke to a very nice gentleman from Kilkenny on Thursday who felt that he was being over charged for web hosting. We spoke to him by phone for two hours to determine exactly what he was charged for and by what companies. He was very frustrated at the beginning of the conversation because his perception was that he was finding it very difficult to get straight answers out of anyone. 30 minutes into our conversation, we started to understand what was wrong. His web hosting fees had moved between companies because of mergers or company closures. To cut a long story short, it turns out that this person was paying for hosting that he wasnâ€™t using but he was also getting hosting from a very nice company that hadnâ€™t ever charged him. When I asked why, they said that he was a nice man that was just confused and they just wanted to help him out. The outcome of the conversation was he consolidated his hosting with two providers instead of four and he now has a complete view of exactly what heâ€™s paying for. The point here is that if any one of his existing providers took the time to talk to this gentleman in plain English he would have been more than happy. It is also important to note that he was getting exactly what he needed and because a very nice company were providing hosting for free, he hasnâ€™t saved anything by talking to us but heâ€™s gone away happier with his hosting providers than he was before. As an independent consultant, we are able to advise you on the best course of action to take because if you buy a server for â‚¬500 or â‚¬50000, we donâ€™t profit from it. Our only motivation is to find you the system or service that is most suitable for your needs.
So, the next time you look for quotes for new equipment in your office, give us a call. We wonâ€™t promise to find you the cheapest quote but we will find you the most appropriate quote for your specific business needs and plans.
Questions we ask are:
- What do you have at the moment?
- How much storage is used on each PC? How much storage is used on the server?
- Do your PCâ€™s download and install Windows updates regularly?
- Do your PCâ€™s get antivirus updates regularly?
- Do your employees move between PCâ€™s?
- Do you need access to mail on your mobile phone?
- Do you need access to the company network when outside the office?
- What do you think is the most critical part of your IT infrastructure?
The following are a number of problems we have fixed in the past due to poorly specked systems.
- Insufficient disk space.
- Insufficient RAM.
- Consumer licenses of Windows and Office resulting in limited functionality.
- Slow network connectivity resulting in long waits while opening files on the network.
- Poor security.
- No redundancy resulting in lost data.
Here are some of the tasks we completed recently:
- Moved a single server from a purpose built rack to a temporary location while construction was ongoing.
- Added proactive monitoring to a server to specifically test for internal temperature changes and fan speed.
- Added a mail relay server virtual appliance. Used to scan all inbound and outbound mail for spam and viruses before delivering it to an Exchange mail server.
- Sourced and installed a new network switch in a growing office.
A full Windows 8.1 tablet with Office 2013 professional that fits in your hand.
This is what we are giving away when we reach 500 followers on Facebook. When we reach 350 followers we will also give away a â‚¬50 iTunes voucher.
Just share our Facebook page or tweet about us using the daily tech tip and you will be in with a chance to win this very thin, light and powerful Windows 8 tablet. Look at the end of this post for the tech tip!
Thereâ€™s more. When Windows 10 comes out later this year, we will upgrade the tablet for you for free.
OSX â€“ Change the Facetime / hand off ring tone. Start Facetime, open Preferences Panel. Now pick a ring tone in the drop down at the bottom.
If you donâ€™t, now is the time to start getting organized.
A local company in Drogheda called me in a panic a few months ago.Â They had a type of virus called a crypto locker.Â This infection sits silently on your computer, encrypting all the files you save and open.Â Quietly preparing to block access to every file you are likely to open.
If you get this virus, or as they are more commonly known as scamware, you have two choices.Â Either pay using a potentially dodgy pay method to have the decryption key sent to you to allow you to unlock the files or restore your files using a previous backup.
The real problem comes when you donâ€™t have a backup and youâ€™ve paid to have the decryption key but it either doesnâ€™t work, or worse, you pay over the money and no key is sent.
You absolutely must have a backup.Â It isnâ€™t just best practise, itâ€™s vital. Please donâ€™t think that this infection is only caught by a minority of Internet users.Â It is far too prevalent to be taken lightly.
To make matters worse, this company had a central file share so when one person infected with the virus accessed a file on the shared directory, that file became encrypted so even if another computer on the network didnâ€™t have the virus, on the day that the virus cut off access to the files it had encrypted, no user could access the file from any computer.
This was having a major impact on the business and for five days they were unable to find someone to clean their systems.Â I got the call on Friday evening and on Saturday morning, a team of us were in the office to clean down every workstation and server. It took around six hours for everything to be restored and unfortunately, as one laptop had a number of infections, we had to take it back to the office to rebuild the operating system but by 12PM on Sunday, the system was fully operational again.
The only way this could happen was thanks to the forward planning of their previous system administrator.Â Backups were taken of the shared files every night and by restoring to a time before the Virus was introduced to the network, we were able to recover 100% of the files that had been maliciously encrypted.
If backups had not been taken, the company would have lost thousands due to unpaid invoices and unmet deadlines.
Backups are important at home as well as at work.Â Think of the technology you use every day.Â Mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktops.Â Is each device backed up? If you lost your tablet in the morning would you be able to recover all your data?Â What if the hard drive in your laptop suddenly dies?Â Can you do without the documents, music, pictures and videos that you have stored on it?Â At the very least, a pen drive costs about â‚¬15.At the middle of the scale, a NAS (Network Attached Storage) box costs about â‚¬200.Â With this, you can backup the computers and laptops in your house to one system.Â Synchronize your tablets and phones to your computers regularly and / or use a cloud backup system to make sure you donâ€™t lose any of your really important files.
For this post, we havenâ€™t touched on cloud based backup solutions.Â These are fast becoming very popular due to their affordability and scalability.Â Be careful however that you read the privacy statements clearly and have a plan ready to cover you if your chosen cloud provider shuts up shop overnight.
A note about Crypto locker
This post was updated on 6th August as a recent article published by the BBC may suggest there is hope for anyone impacted by the Crypto locker virus. Unlock keys are now available for free.
- Securing Windows XP
- More help
Windows XP was originally released for testing on 31st October 2000 with the full release on 24th August 2001. This was the result of an extensive research and development process that began in the late 90â€™s where Microsoft aimed to drastically change the Windows user interface to include a full start screen, activity centres known as hubs and a more solid foundation taken from their server software. Interestingly, Hubs are very popular in Windows phone and the start screen is a similar concept used today in Windows 8. The important point to note here is that Windows XP was originally based on concepts and ideas that stem back from the mid to late 90â€™s and when it was released in 2001, it was an innovation that consumers and businesses quickly adopted. For that reason, thirteen years after Windows XP was originally released for testing consumers and businesses are still actively using it.
However, Windows XP has been through a lot of changes over the years.
Service pack 1 released on 9th September 2002 let users change the programs that were used by default to open music, pictures, websites and other files and media, it also incorporated support for USB2, a standard still used today for printers, digital cameras, scanners, MP3 players and other peripherals.
Service pack 2 released on 25th August 2004 is acknowledged by some as being such a huge upgrade to Windows XP that it could have easily been released as an entirely new version of Windows. It introduced the Security Centre, support for a new wireless authentication method called WPA, a pop up add blocker for Internet explorer 6, a very helpful technology for managing the system called WMI and an array of security enhancements.
Service pack 3 released on 21st April 2008 provided even more security enhancements and fixes but also increased the ways in which Windows XP could be managed in business environments. Support for network security protocols such as 802.1X was also included along with about 6000 other general fixes and improvements.
It was aimed that Windows XP would reach its end of life date on 21st January 2009 so on 14th April 2009, Windows XP moved into what Microsoft call their extended support system. This is where patches are no longer pushed out as frequently, no design changes will be considered and technical support is dropped. This extended support ended on 8th April 2014. That is over twelve years after Windows XP was officially released. Microsoft ordinarily only provide this level of support for ten years after the official release date.
Why the history lesson?
I want to explain that Windows XP was innovative thirteen years ago but it has been surpassed by Windows Vista, Windows 7 and now Windows 8. Since that time, we have moved from Internet explorer 6 to the much more efficient, secure and usable Internet Explorer 11. Thousands of changes have been made to all Microsoft products in this time and the learning curve will be pronounced for users who have not made the change yet however you are strongly recommended to move to Windows 8 as soon as possible.
That said, I acknowledge that a number of people simply donâ€™t have this option. Maybe you donâ€™t have the money to upgrade or you are using some application or device that doesnâ€™t support the new versions of Windows. In that case, this page is for you.
The very first thing you need to do right away is ensure you have an Antivirus application. I donâ€™t recommend that you use the Windows defender application as although it will be supported until July 2015, it doesnâ€™t rank very highly when compared against other free Antivirus applications.
A free Antivirus application that performs well is Avast. The free version of this application is very effective. With a good Antivirus application, threats should be found before they have time to damage your system.
For heightened security, try Kaspersky Internet Security. This application includes the ability to use heuristics to catch threats such as Malware or Ransom ware.
Many other applications are also available that come highly recommended however the list would be too extensive. Research the alternatives to find the best match for your budget and needs.
Yes, Windows XP wonâ€™t receive any updates but you probably have a lot of other software installed that may have updates available. Attackers can exploit any application on your computer that hasnâ€™t been written with security in mind so itâ€™s very important that you keep everything up to date. A lot of applications will automatically check for updates but if you want to take care of this using one simple interface, consider using an update utility such as Secunia or Update Notifier. These will automatically check for updates of almost every application installed on your computer. Installing the new versions is usually as easy as clicking on an icon.
As well as updating the software on your computer, you should also consider updating your device drivers. Drivers are basically instructions that are given to Windows to enable it to communicate with the hardware in your computer. Itâ€™s rare for security exploits to be found or used in device drivers but it isnâ€™t unheard of. Be careful when updating device drivers. Be aware that an incorrect driver could cause your computer to become unreliable until you update the driver again. Sometimes, you are better to source the driver updates manually from the manufacturerâ€™s website. If you would like to use an automatic checking tool, take a look at Device Doctor.
One of the best changes you can make to secure Windows XP is move to using an alternative Browser. No one using Windows XP should be using Internet explorer. IE version 9 is the last version to be supported on Windows XP and this is two versions out of date. A number of exploits are known in Internet explorer version 9 that will not be patched. Recommended alternatives are Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Both support Windows XP and both are very secure.
In our experience, people using Windows XP often run into problems with security in Java applets that run within a web browser. We therefore recommend that unless you keep Java fully up to date you should stop Java running within your browser. To do this:
- Go to the control panel.
- Use the Classic view.
- Select Java
- Move to the Security tab
- Uncheck the box labelled Enable Java content in the browser.
- Click OK.
In 99% of computers running Windows XP, everyone logs in with administrator accounts. This means you can install applications, update drivers, delete system files and make system changes. That means that if you download a virus, it can too.,
In other systems such as Linux, this has been strongly discouraged for years however Windows Vista, 7 and 8 have only taken steps toward the more secure way of setting up computer users in the past few years.
The most secure way to use your computer is to run with an account with as few privileges as possible so when you need to install an application or make any change to your system you explicitly choose to do this with an account with elevated privileges. Unfortunately, Windows XP doesnâ€™t support this way of working as well as later versions of windows and sometimes, you will need to log off your normal user account and log back on with the administrator account to make changes but overall, this will vastly increase the security of your computer.
First make sure your account has a password.
- Go to control panel.
- Click User accounts.
- Select your user account.
- Click Create password.
- Enter your new password twice in the boxes provided.
- Enter a hint if you want.
- Click OK.
Create a standard user account.
- Assuming you are following along, click the Home link. If youâ€™re not following along, go to the Control panel then click User accounts.
- Click Create new account.
- Give it a name.
- Click Next.
- Select Limited.
- Click Create account.
- Create a password for it by selecting the account and then click Create new password.
Now log in with your newly created account.
You will notice that if you try to install a new application you will be presented with a message saying that you donâ€™t have permission. To work around this, instead of double-clicking the setup file, right click it and click Run as administrator. You will be prompted to enter the administrator username and password.
If you need more help, please feel free to Talk to us about upgrading or securing Windows XP.
When your systems are down and you have 6, 60 or 6000 clients unable to access your network, thereâ€™s only one thing you want to hear. â€śLeave it with me and Iâ€™ll get it fixedâ€ť.
With the best system in the world, you must prepare for disasters. Have a plan in place so that when everything goes wrong, you know how you are going to handle it.
Here are a few things that we advise:
- Define terms and language that you are going to use to describe this temporary setback.
- Explain that the problem is a temporary glitch.
- You will most likely be unable to provide a clear expectation as to how long it will take to resolve the problem but what you can assure customers is that you will call them back every hour to provide them with an update. When your customers need your systems to work, a call to say that no progress has been made is better than no call at all.
- Ensure that you donâ€™t use words with bad connotations such as â€ścrash, Corrupt or deletedâ€ť to describe the problem. Customers need to feel assured that you have things under control.
- Be assertive in your language. If you know that this will take four hours, donâ€™t tell the customer that you think it will take four hours. This potentially shows that you donâ€™t have enough exposure to the solution of the problem.
- Confidently communicate your message. Stay away from terms such as â€śI think, Iâ€™m not sure and I donâ€™t knowâ€ť.
- Donâ€™t be afraid to use partial templates for calls and Emails to customers. If everyone is providing the same message customers will be assured that the response to the problem is unified across the entire company.
- Designate specific roles to individuals or groups.
- One person or group should take inbound calls from customers. Using the template / queues, this person should assure the customer that every effort is being made to minimize the disruption. When the problem has been found, a separate message should be relayed to the customer to explain that some progress has been made.
- One group should collate a list of key stakeholders and customers that need to be made aware of this. A manager should be provided with this list so that she / he can send an Email notifying these customers and stake holders of the problem. When the Email list has been created, this person or group should assist with inbound calls.
- The third person or group should begin testing the systems for any sign that connectivity or normal operation has been restored. This testing should be pre-arranged. The results of this testing needs to be regularly communicated with the coordinator or manager.
- The coordinator or manager should involve all relevant third parties as soon as the problem has been discovered. In parallel, he / she should also troubleshoot the issue independently and relay any relevant findings to these third party contractors. The coordinator or manager should also communicate any relevant status updates to people writing / speaking to customers.
Having a clearly defined plan ensures that your customers are in the centre of the picture and that your company continues to operate professionally when things go badly.
At Computer Support Services we completely understand that when every minute matters, you need to trust that the right skills, experience and qualifications have been applied to fix the problem and that this effort will continue until a solution has been found regardless of the day or time.
On the morning of Thursday the 29th of March, I was listening to the Michael Reed show on the local radio station for Louth and Meath LMFM. Michael was speaking to Mark Fielding, the chief executive officer of business lobby group the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME). One of the points Mr Fielding made was regarding the businesses in Ireland that have yet to establish a presence online. The justification he gave for this was a lack of availability and reliability of Broadband across all parts of the country. I understand Mr Fieldingâ€™s perspective on this however I would have a different opinion. In my experience, I find that the majority of companies have access to broadband in some shape or form however they have either no idea where to start to get a website created or they have had a bad experience in the past. I think if more focus was directed at education and raising awareness of the mechanisms available in Ireland that can help businesses reach the online market the uptake would increase exponentially.
- For a .IE website name, you will pay â‚¬45.90
- For a .BIZ website name you will pay â‚¬13.50
- For a .COM website name you will pay â‚¬17.90
- For a .NET website name you will pay â‚¬9.98
- For a .CO.UK website name you will pay â‚¬9.98
For hosting the site, you ordinarily pay annually. The cost ranges anywhere from â‚¬40 per month up as high as you want depending on the services you require. For example, if you are expecting a huge amount of traffic, you may pay more for bandwidth. Basically bandwidth is the amount of data that can be downloaded from your site. You also pay for the amount of storage you require. For example, a reasonable package would cost â‚¬49.95. This gives you 10GB space for Email accounts and website storage and 200GB a month bandwidth. This is adiquit for E-mail, simple personal sites, small business sites and portfolio sites. Jumping up a few levels, you can pay â‚¬140.95 for a much more versatile hosting package that provides a lot more disk space and much more bandwidth. This type of package could be used for E-mail, large business sites, large e-commerce sites and busy blogs. With this level you would receive 30GB space for storing Email and your website and you would have 60GB bandwidth available. In other words, you can have a larger website and a lot more visitors to your website. When I say a lot more visitors, typically youâ€™re talking about hundreds of thousands.
All prices are excluding VAT.
When picking hosting, for your first website, donâ€™t be afraid to start small. Almost all hosting companies will let you upsize during the term of your contract.
To get a website you basically need three things: A domain name, i.e., a website name, a hosting package and then finally the actual website that people will see. The website is the hardest thing to get but itâ€™s within your reach if youâ€™re willing to spend some time getting to grips with it.
The most important thing to point out at this stage is you get what you pay for. If you do the entire thing yourself and you are not a professional website developer then you canâ€™t expect that you will have the same quality website but thatâ€™s not to say you need a professional web developer when youâ€™re getting started. If all you need at the start is some exposure online then you may want to consider using a content management system. This is a lot easier than you might think and it can give you a really good looking website that your business can be proud of.
The first thing to do is read. Find as many businesses that have websites that are similar to yours as possible and look at what they do. This will give you inspiration and will give you some ideas to help you get started. Keep it simple though, donâ€™t overwhelm yourself.
Two of the easiest content management systems to get up and running with are Drupal and WordPress. Take a look at these. Be prepared to do some reading to become familiar with what they do. Depending on the hosting company you have chosen, you will probably find a way of installing the latest version of WordPress or Drupal that requires a minimal amount of steps. Hosting companies usually make this process very easy.
From here, youâ€™re not on your own. Ask questions on forums, read the manuals and be prepared to spend some time getting to know the system you are using. The more you put in the more you will get in return.
If this seems far too daunting, you might find that a web development company is the best solution for you. I have pasted a number of links at the bottom of this entry however please be aware that I have never used these companies and they were found using some random searches. They will certainly be a pointer in the right direction however.
Consider enlisting the services of an Irish freelancer or a hobbyist. This should cost you substantially less than using a web development company however you may not get the same polished result.
While administering any computer system there are a number of checks that are needed to ensure all systems are functioning correctly. Depending on the size of the system, you may be required to perform these checks a number of times or just once a week.
Itâ€™s usually a good idea to have some kind of checklist that you can tick off to show that youâ€™ve completed these tests so that if a problem emerges, you can show with your logging that problems started after a specific date or time.
Here are a number of the checks I run on systems. I have broken them into monthly, weekly and daily.
- Clean server room and coms room. Remove dust build up from server casing.
- Check air conditioning fans and vents.
- Check room security.
- Check Active Directory for old or unused computer or user accounts.
- Ensure all updates are downloading to Windows Server Update Services.
- Clean up Windows Server Update Services.
- Apply Updates from the previous month to Servers. Note, if there are hundreds of servers this would be a weekly task.
- Run a test restore from a random backup job.
- If there are clustered systems for redundancy, check a random service to ensure it fails over correctly.
- Check temperature of server rooms.
- Do a visual inspection of all servers.
- Distribute updates to workstations.
- Check server logs for errors.
- Check priority workstations for errors.
- Check that all anti-virus and other software is up to date.
- Check Anti-Virus logs for outbreaks or irremovable infections.
- Check logs from CCTV and door access systems to ensure there are no issues.
- On Monday mornings, check all business applications that are hosted on a server to ensure they are working correctly and are accessible.
- Check free disk space on file, mail and database servers.
- If using a SAN or NAS, check disk utilization.
- Check firewall logs for errors or repeated intrusion attempts.
- Test remote access.
- Test access to a blocked website.
- Test access to an allowed website.
- Have your servers Email you a report showing disk utilization, services using the most memory, major system errors and most recent warnings. Monitor this log closely.
- Check that all servers are running.
- Check inbound and outbound mail.
- Check daily backups.
- If daily backups havenâ€™t run correctly, check transaction logs to ensure there is adequate disk space.
This is far from an exhaustive list. However, it shows that when you opt to subscribe to a support package you get a lot more than technical support. You get regular checks and the assurance that your computer system is monitored to drastically reduce the likelihood of down time or an outage that could impact your business.
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When you have a major problem, you need to know that someone who has the skills to get you up and running again is at the end of the phone.