Blog posts written during 2011

Merry Christmas and happy New Year

Friday Friday, December 23, 2011 by Ian Pettman

Last post of 2011:

We hope you have a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year.  To all our customers, potential customers and followers: we are glad to have helped you during uncertain economic times and look forward to providing you with an excellent spring board to help make your organisation more efficient and effective for when the upturn comes.

We wish you all you wish yourselves.

Best regards from all of us at Ava.


Why is my network slow

Tuesday Tuesday, November 22, 2011 by Ian Pettman

A bit of detective work and the culprits behind slow network speeds.

We recently installed our recruitment software at a new customer with all new 64 bit computers and the much over hyped BT fast broadband. I think the ad with the guy from "My family" goes something like "the fastest, most reliable broadband".
So the question was, why was their network about 4 times slower than a 3 year old laptop which has a quarter of the computing power? We expect our pages to load in around a second, not 15-20 seconds. The network was as supplied by BT. The PCs as supplied by Dell.

The first step was to ask what antivirus they had? Norton was the answer. We know Norton and some others exhaustively (and in certain cases needlessly) analyse network traffic before allowing the network to pass the communication between any two computers. A bit like a set of roadwork traffic lights. No matter that, if it was a bit more intelligent, it would see that it was perfectly safe to let the traffic through, it does a "jobs worth" of checking and cross checking then, grudgingly only after some immense time doing this, finally allows safe traffic to pass. In doing all this checking, Norton makes even the fastest network behave like a complete dog.

So the first task was to tell Norton that MS SQL has never been able to store a virus hidden between the folds of its data structure and there has only ever been one case of the database engine being infected (so well is it controlled). This one case was over five years ago now and the current versions of MSSQL (which we use) are totally immune to this type of virus or indeed any type of virus.

The next issue turned out to be BT's much advertised wireless hub. Now with any wireless hub or router there are always over a dozen channels that your network can choose to communicate on. So BT always chooses the same one.  It's a bit like having a dozen lifts and telling everyone to use the same lift leaving the other eleven empty. Queues form and it takes forever for the lift doors to close, the person at the back is the first one who wants to get out, etc., etc., etc.. Your wi-fi connection has exactly these problems but these are translated into data transfer.

So we chose another channel: - mmm the customer said, the entire network seems to be running better now….

If you have an Android phone then the following very simple free app shows you which channels are being used by neighbours and which are not:

Free Android wifi analyzer

There is an app for your iPhone or iPad as well...

Free iPhone wifi analyzer although we have not tried this one.

And of course if you only have your laptop, then there is this excellent free windows application.

Free windows wifi analyser

At the end of the day, if you are in a noisy environment, the answer to your Wi fi problems may be "just say no" and invest in cables between your computers. These cables are commonly known as "cat 5" and "cat 6" which are 100MB and 1GB (100 million Bytes per second and 1000 million Bytes per second respectively) and a Byte is a "word" of digital data. The ends of the cables have connectors called RJ45. (Your wifi connection probably gives you 56MB at best.) Don't pay over the odds for these cables - the "cat" name means they are built to a standard and all "cat 5" cables have the same standard of performance.

PS There is a known issue with the current version of the andriod free app which may also apply to the others as well. The app continues to display an old connection when your router has been reset to another channel. You need to restart your phone / pc to clear the old channel. This may be because the wifi device may be hanging on to the old connection and keeping it alive.

Spend just ten minutes with one of these free apps and any home or office Wi-fi network may run a lot more reliably. Of course you wont get any interference problems with a good old fashioned cable and youl also get 100Mb or 1GB bandwidth...


You tube: AvaSupport reaches 3000 views

Friday Friday, November 18, 2011 by Ian Pettman

We are very happy to announce over 3000 views for our support channel since it was launched 3 months ago. Our website is also going from strength to strength.

Help pages for Agency worker regulation set up

Friday Friday, October 28, 2011 by Ian Pettman

To make AWR monitoring even easier there are three short pages with screen shots, covering the set up of Legal entities, job types and workers employed through 3rd party agencies:

2000 hits on our You Tube support channel

Wednesday Wednesday, October 12, 2011 by Ian Pettman

To our surprise and delight, we have just achieved 2000 hits on our You Tube support site since its launch on 18th July 2011. A big thank you to all our viewers and followers.

The latest service pack for SQL 2008 - SP3 is now available for download

Sunday Sunday, October 9, 2011 by Ian Pettman

The latest service pack for SQL 2008 - SP3 is now available for download. Please note this is not for SQL 2008 R2. SQL2008 has version numbers beginning 10.0 SQL 2008 R2 has version numbers beginning 10.5

The covering link with notes for the various versions (standard, express, 32, 64 bit etc.) is here:

One of the major notes is that the install experience has been improved. I'd still download it in full then apply locally though. Prerequisites still apply.

A free agency worker regulations calculator

Tuesday Tuesday, October 4, 2011 by Ian Pettman

A free agency worker regulations calculator is no longer available.

Help update to run a report which has not previously been used

Tuesday Tuesday, September 27, 2011 by Ian Pettman

A video has been added to the avaSupport You Tube channel.

There are over 600 reports in Ava. Their use is restricted by the simple method of allowing access to their respective layout templates. These help pages provide both an animated subtitled video and a text description of how to enable a new report.

The video is also available for download from our website if you are in an organisation that has restricted access to the avaSupport You Tube channel. The video is sub-titled so that it can be viewed without sound.

You can find the video by entering "enable report" in the search box, top right of our home web page.

Or click here...

Agency Workers Directive could be diluted

Thursday Thursday, September 15, 2011 by Ian Pettman

Is this the latest red herring to be doing the rounds for attention grabbing? Let us now mix in the words, reportedly, secret, David Cameron. The Daily Telegraph reported that there was a "secret" investigation of the AWR impact on the economic recovery or lack of economic recovery.

Is this yet another case of a startling headline where the conclusion is (often buried at the end of a progressively more boring article) the opposite of the headline?

Watering down the AWR would be very important to both Agencies and hirers. The final analysis of this article seemed to us to boil down to:

There has been plenty of time to make minor changes so they should have been done by now. Taking both this and the fact that the legislation originated with the EU: it's now too late to get any changes major or minor approved.

Which leaves the so called Nuclear option (talk about hype!) of:

not implementing the AWR would result in substantial EU fines and so isn't really an option.

Perhaps the best part of the article are the studied neutral comments you'd expect at 4:00 in the morning from

So it's coming no matter if we like it or not. Perhaps best to take the sage Victorian advice: lay back and think of England!

There is further comment from the Telegraph today on the effect of AWR:

Additional information

We have a number of questions with the Department of Business and innovation relating to clarification on the AWR. The answers when they come will be published in this section of our site.



Agency worker regulations (AWR) calculating weekly liability video

Thursday Thursday, September 8, 2011 by Ian Pettman

We have published a video which outlines the steps in an animated way to help understand the process of calculating the AWR obligation of a hirer.

Its here...

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