Business Tips – How to Disable Windows Defender permanently

Windows Defender is an anti-malware constituent of Microsoft Windows. During its early days, it was only an instrument of protection against spyware and since then has evolved into an effective full scale, comprehensive antivirus program.

It comes with a high number of real-time security agents that oversee and inspect multiple Windows regions to ensure uniformity and a smooth flow of operations. Windows Defender can uninstall ActiveX software and lets its users share reports as to what applications and bugs they consider as spyware or detrimental to their devices.

The features of Windows Defender are ultimately managed within the Windows Defender Security Center in Windows 10 for more information regarding this visit this guide on how to turn off windows defender step-by-step.

It is true that other anti-virus alternatives have outshone Windows Defender and taken our attention away from its true potential. No matter what, we all need digital protection – especially in today’s day and age as we are all online 24/7.

Whether we order food, send emails, talk to friends, do business, transfer money or hire customers, technology has become a huge, critical part of all our lives. Hence, it is extremely important that we know how to enable and disable the right antivirus software for ourselves.

Windows Defender has made the past few versions of the Windows operating systems much more secure than its previous counterparts. You see, there are a few things that make this program super convenient. Let’s take a look:

It’s Free

Hey, who does not love free stuff? We sure do! Okay, you don’t need to use something just because it is coming for free- but Windows Defender is effective in its functionality and performance. So, you’re actually getting your hands on something that’s not just free but is of high quality in its field.

Windows Defender is already part of your Windows operating system, so you don’t have to download it separately or pay some hidden fee to tap into its benefits. And this serves as a solution to two huge issues that come with other antivirus programs. The majority of security programs require payment if you want complete access to their features. If you select a free version, then chances are it will have limited capabilities. For example, such a program may detect malware, but it may not let you use it to remove the questionable items. Another awesome benefit of using Windows is that you won’t get stuck with pop up nag screens that encourage you to try the full version or advanced services.

It’s Already Installed on your OS

As already mentioned, you’re already good to go and start using your computer safely as Windows Defender is a part of your operating system. All you have to do is to switch it on. Your updates will be automatic as well as it will be part of the general Windows updates. Not only that, it integrates with your system and can notify you if there are any changes to your Registry or other application settings. Windows Defender also takes out any malware from the Windows Recovery Environment.

Full Service Program

Windows Defender is like a silent movie director and it operates effectively in the background, making sure everything runs smoothly. It will quarantine any malware it may detect on your computer whilst you work, watch your favourite tv show or talk to your friend in a different corner of the globe. Keep its cloud-based protection on to ensure your system is updated and running well.

However, if you wish to opt for a different antivirus alternative that you are more comfortable with, here’s how you can disable Windows Defender.

Back Up Everything

Back up your system before you make any amendments to your Windows registry. Disabling Windows Defender is a relatively straightforward process- this way, you will not have to worry about any changes lost but rest easy as you can restore your system to its previous version anytime you wish. For instance, if you commit a typing error whilst writing commands or something, then you may wish to start from scratch by using the option to start again.

Use the Run Command

The guide here will let you disable Windows Defender permanently. In order to access the area where you can manage such a scenario, you will have to utilise the Run command. How do you do this? Simple. Press the Windows key downwards and hold the R button down. A dialogue box labelled as the Run command will pop up. Type in the term “regedit” in the textual field and press the OK button. After that, a new window will appear and is known as the Registry Editor, with a column located on its left hand that contains a file tree. This is what you will use to find your way to the following folder:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender

You will see another file in the folder called Default. In order to disable Windows Defender, you will have to add another one. It’s easy, don’t worry! Just right click on any empty part of the window pane and choose New>DWORD (32-Bit) Value. We suggest you name this file DisableAntiSpyware (Okay, we don’t suggest it, this is what you actually have to do!), and make sure you write it in the same way as we have: with the capitalisation! Right click the newly created file and choose the Modify option. Do you see a field labelled as Value data? Yes? Great, then enter the number 1 and tap the OK button.

Congratulations, you just managed to do what you set to accomplish and have disabled Windows Defender! Mind you, this is not a recommended move, but we are here to help! If you wish to enable Windows Defender again, then just go back to the DisableAntiSpyware file and appoint the Value data from 1 to 0. This will reverse your decision to disable Windows Defender and reset it to protect your computer. However, make sure you do install some antivirus format to safeguard yourself in case you don’t want to use Windows Defender. We trust you will make the right choice!

9 Strategic Ways to Reduce Your Start-up Costs

Normally, business start-ups have to operate within restricted budget parameters. After all, every penny counts when you have to keep the financial belt tighter than you would like. You are probably a pro at identifying what is an absolute must for your business to run against what you desire. As your company grows, you will require more cash to fulfil its needs. Not only that you have to manage your cash flow effectively, so you can market your services and build your client base.

Do not worry, we are here to advise you on some areas where you can not only save on costs but be efficient too. Take a look!

Outsource your IT

Yes, it may be more efficient to outsource your IT services rather than hiring a full time, salaried professional to work inhouse. You will save costs and gain a collection of skill sets rather than just one single mind. An IT support company, such as, Mustard IT who provide business IT support in London , provides customised services to start-ups and even gives a free consultation. Remember in today’s day and age, an effective IT infrastructure is the backbone of your company and imperative to your company’s success.

What will you gain with hiring an IT Support company?

  • You will gain complete access to cloud computing services- from planning, migration to deployment. The IT team will take care of everything and you won’t have to lift a finger.
  • You can rest easy and not have to worry about which hardware devices to get, what software’s to use or what servers will be best for your business. Your IT support team will do all this hard work for you and develop your infrastructure.
  • You will have access to round the clock IT support. If anything malfunctions, there will be a dedicated IT professional available to scrutinise it and resolve it as soon as possible.

Forego Your Own Office

Do you really need your own dedicated office? It’s just extra rent money that is going out of your pocket but could be injected into expanding the scope of your business instead.  It’s the age of the internet! Have your team work from home and collaborate virtually. You can avoid getting an office space for a long time as there are plenty of efficient collaborative software’s that will allow you to work in the online space.

If you really need to be in the same physical area as your workforce, then check out co-shared working offices that are much cheaper in terms of rent. You can rent just a few desks or an entire space in such commercial rental premises, depending on your needs. Not only that, there is no fixed term contract and you are free to rent for a day, a week or a month. Need to arrange a meeting with your client? Check if there are facilities in your city to arrange a conference room for free, such as available in cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

Spend on Marketing

You should be a marketing-driven company that recognises the potential of this approach. Marketing is the medium via which your services and message will reach your prospective clients and facilitate your product/service sales. As important as it is to set up your back-scale functionality, your return on your investment will take time to appear whereas marketing will reflect results in the short term. Consider cutting costs in other areas of your business and reallocating that budget to your marketing expenses. Once your sales pick up, pay yourself back.

Don’t Hire People

We’re all about creating jobs and employment – but your start-up is in its infancy right now and needs to grow a great deal in order to achieve sustainability. And once your business has stabilised, that’s when you put the word out that you’re looking for new recruits. Trust us, you do not want to burden yourself with fixed salary expenses, legal fees, and insurance costs. Just take the easier route for now as you set up and hire freelancers to meet your business requirements.

Save those Receipts

You may be surprised to learn this: but every expense you undertake in relation to your business start-up is tax deductible. This can include your office rent space, your internet bill etc. So, get a special box to save those receipts and benefit from a tax break!

Buy or Rent?

Need to do a photoshoot of your product? Rent a camera and lighting equipment to take your pictures as buying it will only be more expensive. However, if you refer to office equipment such as computers and printers- then you need to do a cost-benefit analysis. Run the numbers and see what makes better sense for your business. How paper intensive is you? We recommend you implement a no paper policy and be environmentally friendly! Let’s save those trees now, shall we?

Take Free Stuff

Who doesn’t love free giveaways? There is no harm in this! Use the free trial versions of variant software’s and programs until you are able to identify what you want in the long term or until your business kicks of the ground.

Reduce Legal Fees

Do you really need a lawyer on a monthly retainer at this stage of your business? Give it a thought. No, not really! Check what kind of paperwork you can file yourself and save some serious legal fees. Only get a lawyer when you really need one!

Track Your Subscriptions

Subscriptions are simply awesome! Pay a monthly fee to use certain services and enjoy the benefits. Just make sure you keep track of all your subscriptions as they can tend to pile up. When you think about it separately, ten pounds here and there won’t sound like it will make a big difference on your wallet. However, if you have 10 different subscriptions then that’s more than a hundred pounds you’re dishing out on a monthly basis. When you stretch that over a period of twelve months, how much are you paying out? That’s right, a whopping twelve hundred pounds! Have to control that, now don’t we?


Ready to market your startup? Here’s where to start

If you’re launching a startup then you’re probably convinced that there’s a place in the market for your product of service.

However, that place in the market remains open for someone else unless your marketing efforts are effective and timely – so you need to make sure that what you’re doing is based on tried and tested methods that are going to deliver results.

What those tried and tested methods are will be somewhat particular to your business – but there are universal truths that will underpin your strategies that apply to every industry out there. Let us run you through the 5 most important ones:

  1. Get your personal brand right

In days gone by, the formation of a company was enough to hide even the most dubious reputation – but now, there’s no hiding anything.

Getting your personal brand right is like digging the right foundations for your house – get it wrong and it’ll be difficult and costly down the line.

When you’re starting out in business people are going to look for you online. They might be customers, contractors, freelancers, business opponents, investors – and more, maybe even all of them. There aren’t many people on that list that you’re going to be able to operate without, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people taking a serious risk with their personal social media every day.

Air strong political opinions on LinkedIn? Enjoy a slightly bad taste joke on Facebook? Publicly linked to people who do? Well, you’re taking a risk, a risk that you’re going to put someone off you or your product. I know what you’re thinking – it shouldn’t matter, but I’m here to tell you that it does – social media profiles are losing more people jobs and business today than ever before.

Getting it right is easy though. Master your privacy settings and before you share anything and ask yourself “would I say this in a room full of potential customers and investors?” – if the answer’s no, then act accordingly!

  1. Have an effective website

When you’re trying to establish a foothold in the marketplace you might want to reframe the way you see your website.

Rather than thinking of it as a place where customers can find contact details to get in touch with you or someone else who’s got their business soundbite or sales pitch nailed, start thinking of it as a sales person itself.

It makes sense, someone’s taken action to visit your site – when they’re there you might think it’s okay to expect them to jump another hurdle to get to a salesperson – but by doing so you’re losing serious numbers of interesting people.

So, you need some exceptional copy on your site. What I’m talking about here runs deeper than your average ‘about us’ and ‘products’ content – I’m talking expertly written copy that speaks to the real psychological need inside your customer.

Don’t be fooled into thinking your customer wants to know about your mission statement and values, they don’t – at their absolute core they want to know what you or your product is going to do for them. Every word of content on your site needs to be geared toward answering that question – and when it is, your phone is going to be ringing with orders – not just enquiries.

  1. Create effective content

Now, no matter how good your site’s copy is, you’re not going to be able to fake solid industry experience – and that’s where creating brilliant and effective content comes into play.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could work your way into your potential customer’s subconscious and plant seeds there that suggest you’re exactly the right person or product for the need they’re looking to fulfil? Even better – wouldn’t it be great if you could work your way into your potential customer’s subconscious and develop that need – before presenting the solution?

Well with content marketing you can – and there’s no need for any unethical hypnosis! A great example of this is how Atlas Ceramics promote their range of Atlas Ceramics victorian style tiles

Content can be created around every tiny element that’s gone into making your product what it is today. Taken it in one direction when there were a variety of possibilities? Document it. Stumbled and made an error? Write about it. Found a brilliant tool that’s revolutionised your workplace? Tell the world.

When you present every part of your business and it’s workings you’ll find that people engage – and when they’re engaged and reading, you can start to gently steer the ship in the direction you want to take them.

  1. Treat every customer like they’re royalty

It might seem obvious but making sure your initial customers are really well looked is something that a great number of startups fail to do when they’ve got their sites on big customer numbers or the next impressive client sign-up.

It’s easy to think you should be putting your brand out into the world constantly – but actually, study after study shows that if you’re willing to invest your time and care in the people who are buying from you and engaging with you from day one then your reputation grows in exactly the right way.

Don’t underestimate people’s desire and willingness to share a product or service that’s serving them well – and also, don’t underestimate people’s willingness to share a bad experience – a combination of carrot and stick motivation that you’d be foolish to ignore!

  1. Measure, measure, measure!

Our last tip is short and sweet! Measure everything you do – and if you can’t measure it, find a tool that makes measuring it possible.

It’s only by understanding where your marketing results come from that you’ll be able to reinvest your time in the right activities. If you can follow every single enquiry you get all the way through your conversion journey then you can go back and double down on the stuff that’s producing results.

The Perato Rule says 80% of your business comes from 20% of your effort – and 80% of your effort shows a poor return, offering only 20% of your business. When you work out what’s involved in that golden 20% of your effort, you can scale in an incredibly efficient manner…

How Brands Are Using Drones To Enhance Their Business

The mainstream public didn’t consider drones to be much more than a toy as the Parrot AR Drone was unveiled as the first commercially available model, an iOS smartphone-controlled quadcopter, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2010. However, it hasn’t taken long for them to be used in a variety of incredible and often unbelievable ways utilising this growing technology.

Here are a few examples of how drones such as the xk detect x380 drone are becoming a standard tool in so many industries, the problems they’re built to solve, and the range of major brands utilising them to aid their needs.


From big budget to independent filmmakers, the use of drones in entertainment has added an affordable option to give greater depth into both education and storytelling. A sweeping view of a snow capped mountain range, floating like a bird above the coastline, a skyscraper view of a car chase or a superhero battle, the pursuit of a mountain biker down a hillside, or even drones filming drone racing! From live music, cultural and news events to wildlife programmes where safety is an obvious concern, these free flying camera systems are now indispensible to the industry.

The BBC have utilised drones throughout their programming. They have their own in-house team of ‘drone-journalists’. Red Bull have not only set up their own drone racing event but they are renowned for using the technology to film a whole host of extreme sports, utilising the system for unrivalled views and angles to give an extra dimension to the action.

Delivery Services

There are too many companies to list who are using drones to make deliveries or are testing to include them as part of their service.

UPS have introduced a residential delivery drone that makes its deliveries from an electric powered van. The van also acts as a charging station to enhance the lifespan of the drone and in turn its efficiency. They are commercially operated to deliver to remote areas but in testing they were utilised to make medical deliveries to out of reach locations.

The Royal Mail, Amazon, Flytrex and DHL have all entered the market with their own testing and introduction of this technology. Even JustEat have been testing drones to make food deliveries in some of the bigger towns and cities in the US and Europe. Now that’s what I call ‘fast food’!

Construction & Architecture

In May 2017 Balfour Beatty acted on their word to investigate the use of drones by trialling them to survey two bridges in West Sussex. Not only did it greatly increase staff safety but it also made a saving of over £8,000 compared to more traditional methods.

CIO Fernando Villa who is overseeing a team of sixteen senior architects has also stated that the use of drones in filming the facility will be used for augmented and virtual reality technologies in order to process the maintenance of the 133-year-old Sagrai Famila church finally completed, although it isn’t due to be until 2026.

Telephone & Internet Technology

BT have been investigating using drone technology to provide temporary internet access in remote areas or in emergency situations. They have been researching ways to bring coverage to disaster zones, battlefields and limited access areas by introducing them to assess the situation and then creating a network through tethered drones and balloons.

Also working in the same technology are US communications brand AT&T when they recently provided a temporary internet connection to an area of forty square miles over Puerto Rico via their drone, the Flying Cow (which stands for ‘Cell on Wings’) after the hurricane Maria shut down all telecoms on the island. They also announced that they are now using drones to inspect their cell towers too.


Last September in conjunction with the German company Volocopter the Dubai Roads & Transport Agency tested their first taxi drone service with a view to launching it commercially within the next five years. The driverless drone flies two hundred meters above ground and will be able to tackle thirty-minute flights controlled by an app and GPS co-ordinates with speeds of up to 100mph.


Technology innovators Animal Dynamics have created military drones inspired by dragonflies that use a flapping wing propulsion system as opposed to the conventional rotor blades due to their quiet performance and ability to glide, saving on fuel and becoming highly efficient. Ideally suited for short-range surveillance it can operate in high winds and adverse weather conditions.

The US Military have been using drones for armed attacks since 2001 and have been featured in the media more recently with their Predator AUV (unmanned air vehicles) attacks on the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants in Afghanistan. These drones are designed to carry out attacks on ground targets ranging from military bases, vehicles and high-profile individuals.

Law Enforcement

We’ve all watched the helicopter coverage on Police, Camera, Action but in 2015 Devon and Cornwall police undertook a trial using drones to help carry out some of the tasks more efficiently that your typical beat bobby would normally undertake. Searching for missing people and monitoring traffic accidents was shown to be a much more economical alternative to sending out the police helicopter service. In 2016 they created a special unit dedicated to drone use throughout the country.

Remote Repairs In Industry

Oil giants Shell has been using drone technology throughout their plants in Europe to carry out safety checks that were once hazardous and time consuming. Previously the checks were undertaken by teams of engineers having to abseil into hard to reach places to monitor for gas leaks and other faults. The use of drones now means the inspections are fast and easy and where plants were often closed for one of two days they can now remain open and functional as the checks take only a matter of hours. Fitted with standard or infrared heat cameras and various sensors a range of information can be gathered and processed from often inaccessible places such as heat towers or the underside of an oilrig platform in a fraction of the time.

Easyjet have also announced that they too have trialled safety inspections using drones and will be introducing them to UK airports in 2018. They have stated that the drones are more efficient with these checks than the human eye and want to roll them out worldwide – not only that but they also want to use drones to make runway checks in the first six months of 2018 too.

Environmental Solutions

A drone has been designed to catch rhino poachers through the national parks in Africa by Spanish engineers developing the technology at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona. Its key development is in the use of thermal vision technology in its camera.

And in 2014 Coca-Cola delivered messages of thanks tied to cans of Coke to the 2,500 migrant workers building high-rise buildings in Singapore. The message was to link Singaporean nationals and the migrant workers who travel far from their countries to build the city-state’s hi-rise buildings to provide good feeling and community in places where it isn’t always natural. The campaign was called “Happiness from the Skies” and it hit the media with a message that they wanted to use a method that is often associated with death and evil, due to the drones more frequently portrayed military uses, and turn it into something peaceful and good.

…all that and more

Drones are getting smaller, bigger, faster, stronger, lighter, more reliable, and infinitely smarter with the advances in technology. This progress is giving them an almost never ending list of uses to help achieve our daily tasks and many more we haven’t thought of yet.

Where will it end? Only the future will show us that but while we’re along for the ride, we may as well do it with a selection of rotors above our heads…

Top Tips To Rank a Local Website in 2018

Basic SEO practices are pretty much essential for ranking a local website anywhere in search engines, never mind the front page, and this is especially true for content that is not user generated (forums or review sites for example). With search engine algorithms changing all the time, and the rise of machine learning into 2018, knowing a little more than the ‘basics’ is going to be more important than ever. With that in mind, we sat down with RFK Solutions, who offer a range of leading SEO services in Scotland. This is what they had to say with regads to ranking a website locally in 2018!

Claim Your Google My Business Page

This is the first thing that you should be thinking of, so if you haven’t claimed your Google My Business page yet then you need to make it a priority. For full details of setting up your page, you can take a look here but you need to make sure that you include the following:

  • Make the listing description a long one, make it unique and make sure it includes links. Write this description very carefully, as well as properly formatted, because this is going to take full advantage of Google Search’s RankBrain update. Machine Learning in search is going to go full throttle in 2018, so try and answer possible searcher queries in your description.
  • Be sure that you have selected the correct categories for your business to further help Google match up your business with the search query.
  • Upload as many high quality, relevant photographs as you can. Visuals are everything and help users determine whether or not your business is right for them or not.
  • Add your local telephone number (not a mobile if you can avoid it) and also your business address. Both of these things need to be consistent with what you have on your website – Google can, and does, place higher priority on listings where these details corroborate each other.
  • Make your profile and cover photographs high resolution. What looks great on your mobile may not look so hot on a larger screen – and blurred imagery will get you nowhere
  • If your business has opening times and days where these change (not all business types have or need details like this) then add those too.
  • Get your customer to leave you reviews on Google.

Get Local Reviews

Reviews are an enormous ranking factor, especially if you run a local business. Getting reviews is actually easier than you might think but don’t focus on just Google reviews try TrustPilot too, and Yelp. Google should be your first port of call though, once you are set up on Google search with GMB.

The first thing to do is contact your existing customers and ask if they would mind leaving a review for you. It’s quick and simple and they will rarely decline. A benefit of this is that you can effectively cherry pick great reviews – you know who is most likely to leave a glowing comment with 5 stars, so hit them up first.

Generate local links and citations

Link building is a great way to boost your website’s visibility and authority, so long as the linking website is relevant to your business. The same is true with local businesses except it is more about linking with local businesses, regardless of their actual ‘standing’, that are posting about similar things to you.

Citations are another excellent way to improve visibility on search engines. Citations are, basically, mentions of you in local directories. The trick here though is making sure the directories display your NAP (Name Address Phone number) as you do on your website and GMB listing

You can use Bright Local to check on existing citations and make sure your NAP is being displayed properly. Need to actually get citations? There are a few ways to get it done, but you could this handy tool to get you started.

Social Signals

Potential customers won’t always be searching Google Maps, they may also look to social platforms to find local businesses. Facebook is used in this way quite a lot so it’s worth setting up and maintaining a page there just for that reason alone. Twitter can come in handy also, for the same reason.

One thing that both of these platforms have in common, and is incredibly useful, is the hashtag. Sadly, most people don’t even realise that Facebook has this functionality – don’t worry though, Facebook knows and its search tool takes them into account when people use it to look for something. The only problem is, you need to be using hashtags on your pages in the first place.

Adding hashtags to your posts on Facebook may sound like amateur hour, but you are missing out if you don’t do it. Besides, nobody thinks twice about using them on Twitter so don’t be bashful on big blue either!

Whichever platform you use, remember that they act as citation sources so make certain your NAP is consistent with every other appearance of it elsewhere.

You should have enough to go on now to really make an impression and get your local business ready for the rest of 2018 and get it ranked. Now, start contacting your customers and get those reviews coming in!

Simple answers to your questions about Blockchain technology

It’s been hard to miss the excited talk about Blockchain technology in tech news over the past year or so – with exceptional new minds and applications coming to the fore.

But there’s no getting around it, Blockchain is a complex subject and only very few truly understand the depth of it’s workings and applications. With that in mind, we’ve taken 8 of the most popular questions about Blockchain and distilled the answers down into understandable bitesize chunks…

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is essentially a decentralised currency ledger.

To understand how blockchain works, it’s important to get a quick understanding of how traditional currency ledgers work:

Currently, a bank or government controls a ledger – a central record of transactions with the chosen currency. When a change is made, it’s this central ledger that’s updated – and you trust the bank or government to do that accurately.

Now, instead of being held centrally, imagine if that ledger was spread over a huge network of computers, owned and administered by people right around the world. Every copy of that ledger has to correspond with all the others – and transactions from every corner of the globe are recorded and verified with every other copy of the ledger. There is no trust needed in this type of system – as it’s constantly checked against the copies for accuracy. This is effectively what a blockchain is.

Who created blockchain and Bitcoin?

Although blockchain is the foundation technology that underpins Bitcoin, it was actually Bitcoin that came first – on the 3rd January 2009.

It’s still something of a mystery who created Bitcoin – with speculation that the moniker ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ is actually a group of innovative minds that imagined the concept then brought it to the world.

Bitcoin was a really just a currency experiment when it began, released as open-source software in 2009 – and designed to remove the ‘middleman’ needed to administer physical currency transactions.

Who controls a blockchain?

Quite simply – no one.

No one person can control blockchain technology. When blockchain tech was created, the original protocols and ways of operating were set in stone – and cannot be manipulated, because of the way a blockchain develops.

Everyone has access to the entire ledger – at all times. The infrastructure that underpins the technology is scattered around the world – and cannot be reigned in by any organisation who would seek to control it.

How does the blockchain generate Bitcoins?

You might have heard the term ‘Bitcoin mining’ – this is the quick reference term used for the process needed to generate more Bitcoins. Rather than offering any resemblance to mining – a more accurate term would be ‘problem solving’.

The computers around that world that hold copies of the Bitcoin blockchain also solve the mathematical problems that are required to expand the blockchain and create new coins. When they do this, they’re rewarded with Bitcoins. This effectively creates an incentive for people to verify and build the blockchain.

The maths problems underpinning the blockchain started out comparatively simple when compared to the ‘mining’ required today. As the blockchain grows, so does the complexity of the verification needed to create more Bitcoins. As such, incredibly high-powered computers are now required to solve these problems.

The power and hardware needed to mine Bitcoins is now out of reach for most individuals – so instead, groups of miners pool their resources and tackle problems collectively. When problems are solved – the individuals are rewarded for the amount of effort they and their systems have put in.

Can blockchain technology be trusted?

The short answer would be yes – and that’s because no one has any more power than anyone else using the blockchain.

And, as we’ve already covered, no one has any power whatsoever. So, in a system with no power, no power or influence can be leveraged to make changes. What’s more, a blockchain creates the rules through which you interact. In short, there is no trust needed – with the ledger spread across hundreds of thousands of computers (all verifying the current position) – trust takes a back seat to a ‘consensus’ based system.

Does it make currency anonymous?

No matter how many scare stories you hear in the media, the Bitcoin blockchain is not anonymous. In fact, transactions are ‘owned’ and attributable probably more so than virtually any other currency in the world.

There’s an idea of anonymity because it’s not easy to work out who’s sent your Bitcoin – whereas your bank or PayPal system sees a very definite name and account number that the transaction has come from. The best cryptocurrency exchanges are quick to point out that blockchain tech actually eliminates the chance of financial fraud – so in some ways is a much less appealing option for criminals than current infrastructure.

With Bitcoin, the companies who store it do know who you are – and as with any company, their records can be accessed by law enforcement. Hence, the large criminal networks that have operated with Bitcoin at their core are generally no more – or can be brought down fairly quickly when transactions are scrutinised.

What are the other applications for the technology?

While blockchain is currently associated with financial areas – that’s not to say this is the full extent of what’s possible.

Where a record is required to be kept – it could potentially be done with a blockchain. There’s a record kept votes cast, contracts signed, healthcare administered, property owned, rights of movement across borders, marriages – and so much more.

Blockchain would decentralise all of these records and instead, seek a consensus from every ledger copy that the information being created is consistent with information that’s gone before.

Can blockchain by compromised or hacked?

Well, here’s the thing. You could put a tremendous amount of effort into changing the ledger so you benefit from the transactions, rather than the intended recipient.

This requires a few things though.

Firstly, you’d have to do the complex calculations that are required to chain all of the previous blocks of calculations together. When you’ve recalculated these blocks, you’d then have to convince the rest of the blockchain that your transactions were valid (even though every other copy says otherwise)

The word you’re looking for now is ‘impossible’ – there are so many checks in place to ensure this doesn’t happen – that it’s just not feasible to ‘hack’ the network.

How any small business can protect themselves against cyber attacks

There has been plenty in the news of late regarding cyber attacks on big corporate organisations. The most publicised of this has to be the NHS. This particular cyber attack showed that no matter how big an organisation that you are, there is always a chance that you will fall victim to an attack at some point.

This has led to small businesses to become concerned that they are not best protecting not only their business but the data on their customers that they may hold. So, with this in mind, we had a sit down with VectorCloud who are one of Scotland’s leading IT Support companies and put together some of the top approaches that a small business should take when it comes to protecting themselves against a cyber attack.

Choose your password wisely

One of the simplest ways to protect your small business comes in the form of your password. You would be surprised to learn just how many people choose a simple password that is easy to hack. Not only this, but lots of small businesses that have multiple sign in requirements will also use the same, simple, password across all of their log-ins.

If you are concerned that your password is easy to hack, then you really should change it. When it comes to passwords, one rule that you should always adhere to is that you never use a word that is related to you. Choose a word that is entirely random and then use numbers, symbols and uppercase letters throughout that word. This will ensure that your password is difficult to crack.

Lastly, once you have set your password, it is key that you never share it with anyone.

Watch what you open

A common way that hackers will use to breach the security of your system is to send malware via emails that are sent to you directly. They will often contain links or files that once clicked on or opened will quickly corrupt your computer, even spreading throughout a network at times.

The answer to this is to make sure that you are careful with the things that you open, particularly from any sources that you do not know. Whilst the hackers will put time into creating these phishing emails and making sure that they look realistic enough to coax you into opening them. However, there are often little tell-tale signs that all isn’t as it seems. Look out for these and make sure that you pay attention to them.

Always be updated

It can be a pain to have to update your operating systems on a regular basis. However, these systems updates are not only designed to improve the functionality and performance of the system, but also will install the latest in security developments, which are perfect for protecting your business.

Be certified

It has become so commonplace that nowadays we barely recognise that a website has been SSL Certificated. These certifications are a fantastic way to ensure that the data is protected as well as the identity and location of your business.

They are incredibly easy to install onto your server and they will create a chain and a lock that helps to enable secure connections between your web browser and other web browsers. Once you install SSL Certification onto your website the website will change from HTTP to HTTPs and there will also be a padlock shown on the website to reflect how it is now secure to use.

Always consider remote workers

We live in a world now where it has become more and more common for employees to work from home. Whilst this is great for a work/life balance and also improves factors such as employee satisfaction and morale, it isn’t as great for security. It can be hard to manage and maintain the security for staff as they are not within your premises.

Rather than removing this functionality for your staff, it makes more sense to use remote desktop software that is secure and reputable. Software like this should include permanent encryption, something that is used by a large number of online banks, which ensures that they remain protected and secure.

Encourage your staff to be aware how to stay protected

Do you have staff that work with your systems, are they able to access data and private information during their working day? If they do, then it is important that you encourage them to know how to stay protected.

Education is one of the first steps, which means that it pays to share with them how important it is to use secure and complex passwords when setting up their logins for any business system. Also, they should be aware how it is important that they do not open or click on any suspicious files or links that they are sent whilst they are at work.

Writing up an I.T policy and asking your staff members to sign it, is one way that you can encourage them to follow these rules and ensure that your business is protected from any attacks that could occur due to your staff not being aware of how to best protect themselves and the company.


As you can see, protecting yourself against a cyber attack doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes it is simple a case of changing a few passwords, or ensuring that your operating systems and software is entirely up to date.

Why not try some of these out for yourself? You may be surprised, by not only how easy it can be, but how secure that you can feel when it comes to your business and the data that you hold. After all, if it can happen to the NHS, then there is still a good chance that it can happen to you and that is the last thing that you are going to want when you are trying to run your own business.

What Makes Employees Happy? Our Top Tips

If you want your employees to work hard, you need to keep them happy.  After all, the well-known and true saying is that a happy workforce, is a productive and industrious workforce.  It is generally felt that the people who have greater job satisfaction are usually the most productive and engaged. 

If you are looking for ways to keep your employees happy to garner the best efforts and results from them, you have come to the right place.  In the following post you will find our top tips for ensuring that your staff are happy, valued, motivated and capable of helping your company be as successful as it can be.

Offer Bonuses And Incentives

Our first tip is really a no-brainer and something that all employers, regardless of industry, should implement in their company in some way or another.  Bonuses, incentives and other rewards give your employees something to aspire to, beyond just meeting the sales targets or company goals.  By establishing an bonus and incentive scheme, you are showing them that you are willing to put the money where your mouth is, if they achieve something great on your behalf.  It will also give them a confidence and motivate them to take greater pride in their work. 

Recognise, Commend And Reward When Employees Are Progressing Well

While many employers tend to congratulate, commend and reward in a big way, the members of staff who are always doing very well at their job and achieving the biggest and best targets and results.  Although this is a really good thing, it is often done at the expense of the people who are reliable, stable and consistent with what they achieve for the company, even if they are not the ‘high earners’. 

By taking the time to appreciate these kinds of employees impact on your company, you are raising morale and people will enjoy working for you because of it.  Paying close attention to the achievements of those who have had to overcome obstacles to improve the standard of the work, is also crucial.  You don’t even have to do much more than a sincere thank you, for your staff to feel that their efforts are worth something.

Establish a Fun and Friendly Workplace And Avoid Being Too Strict

Work should never be seen as a playground by your employees, and it is imperative that they know they are there to work as hard as they can for you and achieve specific goals and targets.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy working for you though.  If your company hires office staff, encourage conversation between your workforce.  Not only are great ideas shared through back and forth communication, you are also establishing a work culture where colleagues can become friends and who will share the responsibility of progressing your company in the direction you want it to go.

Provide Comfortable, Clean And Hygienic Working Conditions For Employees

It is crucial that if you want to keep your employees happy, that you create a comfortable, clean and hygienic environment for them.  This includes aspects of the workplace such as sufficient ventilation and lighting, break areas that allow your staff to relax a little without feeling crammed into a tight little kitchen or lounge area, comfortable seating at all desks and work stations, and a regularly scheduled cleaning and maintenance. 

Equipment cleaning is essential, because if your staff are using equipment that is clean and in good working order, they are less likely to become frustrated and unhappy.

Arrange For Team Building Activities Such As Social Gatherings and Day/Weekend Trips

One of the easiest ways to keep your employees happy, is probably the most obvious.  Reward them for their hard work by taking them out of the confines of their office, work station or desk and into the outside world.  Whether it is organising a work sports event, a trip to the local bowling alley or for a 3 course slap up meal at a nice restaurant; as long as it is something they will enjoy and allows them to let their hair down, it is bound to make them feel happy and enjoy working for your company.  It doesn’t even have to involve a lot of money, as it is more the thought behind it and the chance to unwind away from the office that will keep them happy.

By enjoying a break from work, they will be even more motivated and diligent when they return to the office and have those goals and targets to meet.

Make Open Communication A Key Policy For Your Company

You’d be amazed at the number of amazing ideas that there could be right under your nose.  By making open communication a key policy and encouraging your staff to share any ideas they have; or to at least make it clear that you will always listen and take under consideration anything they suggest, you will make them feel valued and in turn happier.  On the other hand, if you are known as an arrogant boss who doesn’t listen to staff’s suggestions, feedback or comments; your staff will likely be very happy and in turn, lack motivation.

As you can see from our top tips, creating a positive working environment that keeps your workforce happy and therefore motivated, does not require a lot of money or effort.  A lot of great planning and forethought and common sense.

Put yourself in their shoes or remember back when you used to work for someone else.  What would you like if you were in their position and how would you like to be treated?  By looking at your staff this way and considering their thoughts and feelings, you will be able to establish a work environment that encourages people to be happy, that makes workers feel special and not as if they are just another faceless drone.

The advantage is that if your employees are happy they will be less likely to look elsewhere for a better offer. 

The pros and cons of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Are you patient?

You probably think you are, at least more patient than expecting information at your fingertips within seconds – but even if you think you have the patience of a saint – you’re probably wrong.

Dozens of studies into webpage load times show we’re actually extremely impatient – and in reality, most of us will abandon a site if the page we’re heading for takes more than 4 seconds to load.

So what’s the answer?

Well, Google and Twitter think it’s AMP – or, to give it’s full name, Accelerated Mobile Pages. An open source plug-in project that’s designed to create mobile pages that load ultra-quickly.

What could possibly be the downside of that? Well, a cruise ship doesn’t move as quickly as a speedboat – and if you ever wanted it to, you’d need to strip a lot of stuff out. The same is true of AMP. Along with a few members of the Think Zap team, who are some of Scotland’s leading web design talents. We’ll have a look at what it is – and the pros and cons of implementing accelerated mobile pages across your site.

What exactly is AMP?

In the most-simple terms, AMP is like ‘HTML lite’ – that’s to say, a stripped-down version of ordinary HTML – creating pages that load virtually instantly. It’s underpinned by three main components:


A standard HTML that works by encompassing a variety of web components.

  • AMP JavaScript

Designed to manage all resource loading

  • AMP Caching

Designed to serve and validate AMP page

Mobile traffic now represents the majority of traffic that will hit your site – and AMP seemingly caters for these users perfectly, delivering just the most important content. Interestingly, it appears the AMP project was a direct response to the Facebook Instant and Apple News – although AMP is open source, removing the ties to any one platform.

So now let’s have a look at what industry experts are picking out as the pros and cons of AMP.

Pro – Search visibility

Over the last year or so, AMP results are popping up more and more in mobile search carousels – the Google specific content display in mobile browsers.

This is a double ‘pro’ when you look at the increasing evidence that Google seems keen to rank AMP content in ordinary search listings too. Page speed has grown in importance since mid-2016 – so AMP looks like it can only ever be an SEO benefit moving forward.

Con – AMP advertising is a bit of an unknown

AMP’s lightweight HTML framework pulls the plug on various advertising methods – popups in particular.

For people creating a revenue with any of these advertising methods – AMP might not look like the best option – although clearly this has to be weighed up against the positives; promising a question that’s going to be difficult to anticipate an answer to.

Some companies say they’re generating the same revenue from their AMP content as they were prior to implementation – so the question is, are you ready to take a leap of faith?

Pro – Improved CTRs

The click through rates that are being attributed to AMP stories seem extremely impressive – and going strong with 1 year+ results under their statistical belt.

Major sites are reporting 25%-30% increase in click-throughs from mobile search results – and adverts within AMP content are seeing a 65%+ increase in click throughs – something that’s not going to harm anyone’s conversion rates!

Con – Implementation

There seems to be some fairly universal groans from developers relating to the implementation of AMP – owing largely to it’s fairly restrictive framework.

The feeling is this – AMP isn’t the tool for you unless your site is already close to the top of the performance game anyway, especially true since there are a decent number of standard HTML gains that can be bagged more quickly and simply.

Get fast, then get AMP.

Pro – Greater traffic and revisits

We’ve already covered the fact that Google is placing AMP results higher in search listings and more prominently in carousel – but what’s more difficult to quantify is the impression that AMP content is having on users.

The stripped back feel of AMP stories makes it slightly more difficult to stand out from the crowd – although when a site does, you can expect traffic to keep coming back, no doubt impressed by the layout and speedy delivery time.

Depending on the case-studies you read, you can witness companies seeing increases of somewhere between 23% and 44% in new monthly visitors – with around 73% increase in monthly visitors returning shortly thereafter.

The message? Readers are voting with their feet – and they like AMP.

Pro – You get a Google content delivery network

A big factor in the delivery speed of AMP content relates to the fact that Google caches the content – and as a result, you can modify your URL so that the content is dished up directly from the cache.

This is a bonus if you’re paying for a content delivery network elsewhere and you can be certain that’s Google’s is always going to be up there with the best.

Con – Somewhat limited functionality

In its first incarnation there were serious HTML gaps in what was possible on an accelerated mobile page – with a notable exception being around forms. Now, that’s developing slightly and there are tools that can be integrated to enable some basic patches over the holes – but we’re a long way from complex product pages.

It’s not just visitor page interaction that’s lacking either – if you’re keen on in depth metrics from your page, you’re going to want to make sure AMP fits the bill before you invest too much time or effort making it happen.

Pro – An increasing number of implementation tools

Now, it’s clear the implementation niggles that developers have been having with the AMP plug in is something that’s occurring across the board – evident because new tools are being developed to make the process somewhat easier.

From testing tools to WordPress plugins – there are new resources being developed all the time to support your move to AMP.

What it all boils down to…

Ultimately, AMP is a choice – is the increased page delivery speed going to bolster your conversions by an amount that warrants venturing into new territory? And importantly, are you doing enough to bolster page speed already – without the big chunk of work that’s going to come when you try to take advantage of AMP?

At this stage, AMP isn’t a foregone conclusion for your site – instead, it’s a big bunch of questions that you need to ask to find your way forward…

10 Questions to Ask When Hiring an SEO Consultant

When it comes to hiring an SEO consultant for your business, you need to ensure you find the right one for your needs.

Making the right choice when you are bringing one of these professionals onboard can make all the difference. However, how can you determine whether you are considering the right SEO consultant if you have never used them before?

Well, the key is to make sure you ask the right questions, as this will provide you with valuable information that can help you to make an informed decision.

Poor SEO can have a serious negative impact on your business, which is why you have to make sure you find the right consultant. With the right professional working with you, you’ll be able to look forward to great results when it comes to your SEO strategy and implementation.

The ten key questions you need to ask

In order to find the right SEO consultant for your needs and your business, you need to make sure you are asking the right questions. So we recently had a sit down with Tobias Gilbert who offers SEO services in Miami and asked him what are the top questions you should always ask when looking to hire an SEO consultant!

Some of the key ones that you need to ask are:

  1. How much do you charge? You need to find out how much the SEO consultant charges so that you can ensure the pricing fits in with your budget. Some consultants will charge an hourly rate while others may charge per project. Finding out about the cost and fee structure will make it easier for you to determine the suitability of the consultant based on budget. However, you need to make sure that you do not sacrifice on quality in order to get the cheapest prices, as this will end up costing you more in the long run.
  1. What services will be delivered as part of the strategy? Ask the SEO consultant what types of services will be provided as part of the service, as this will enable you to determine whether all of your needs will be addressed. You also need to find out about the quantities of each of the services that the SEO consultant will be providing to help you with your SEO strategy.
  1. How do you plan to improve my rankings? You need a detailed description of exactly how the SEO consultant plans to improve your search engine rankings. The consultant should provide a thorough explanation of the strategies that will be used in order to boost your rankings. You should also ask for a realistic idea with regards to how long it is likely to take to achieve the SEO goals that are put into place.
  1. Are you familiar with the most up to date webmaster guidelines for search engines? The last thing you want to do is end up on the wrong side of the major search engines. With this in mind, you need to make sure that the SEO consultant you are considering is well versed with the most up to date webmaster guidelines and adheres to them strictly. If these guidelines are not followed, the impact on your rankings and business could be very damaging. You can also check out there blog or website to see what information they are sharing within the community. This is a great example of how a blog can be used successfully for SEO.
  1. Are you able to guarantee that my website will rank number one on major search engines? This is something of a red herring when it comes to questions you need to ask an SEO consultant before you hire. If the answer to this is yes, then you should simply walk away. No consultant worth his or her salt will ever make a guarantee such as this because it is not possible to guarantee a number one position. You should, therefore, see this as a red flag if the consultant claims to be able to guarantee this outcome.
  1. How do you track how successful your SEO campaigns are? You need to find out more about how the SEO consultant measures the success of the SEO campaigns. It is important for you to be able to monitor the level of traffic that is being sent to your site and determine where the traffic is coming from. Your consultant should be able to use analytical tools in order to track website traffic, ranking improvements, keywords being used by internet users, and other important details. You also need to ensure that the consultant will regularly share this information with you.
  1. What sorts of communication methods will you use and how often will we be in contact? It is essential that you find an SEO consultant with excellent communication skills, as you need to be kept in the loop with everything that is going on with your website. Ask the consultant what types of communication methods are commonly used and how often the two of you will communicate. Of course, you can’t expect to be in communication 24/7 but holding regular catch-up meetings via Skype or on the phone could prove invaluable.
  1. Do you have the details of past or current clients? Another thing to ask is whether the SEO consultant has a list of past and current clients that can be shared with you. A reputable consultant should be able to share a brief list of clients with you so that you can then get in touch to see whether they saw any improvement as a result of using the SEO consultant. While testimonials are all well and good, the ones that are put up on the site are the glowing ones so they don’t really give you a true picture.
  1. What happens if I need to terminate the contract early? If the SEO consultant needs you to sign up for a certain minimum period of time, you need to determine what happens in the event that you have to terminate early. While you may not be planning to do this, there are numerous issues that could arise and force you into having to end the contract prematurely. Knowing where you stand beforehand will ensure that you are prepared.
  1. How long have you been working in the SEO consultancy field? If you want greater peace of mind when it comes to hiring an SEO consultant, it is best to find one with plenty of experience. This means that they will have a solid background in the industry and expertise that can be used when dealing with your SEO campaign.

Enjoy greater success with the right consultant

Asking these questions will boost the chances of you finding the right SEO consultant for your campaign and your business. This, in turn, means that you will be able to look forward to far greater success levels when it comes to your website and your business.