Friday, 27 February 2015

Do you need a licence?

A word of warning.  One of our clients has  recently received a visit from the Performing Rights Society (PRS).  They stand to face a fine of £300 (this can be backdated up to 6 years) with 28 days to pay and if not paid in this time, a  50% uplift or interest is added.  All this due to having a TV in their staff room.  

The thing is, if you play music on your premises for staff or customers through radio, TV, CD, computer speakers or MP3 player then The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 states that it is a public performance and therefore you need to get permission from the copyright holder to play it.  There are more than 40 different tariffs to reflect the amount of use i.e. less for a small office and more for a live event.  Every type of business can be affected, from hairdressers, cafes, hotels and guesthouses to sports centres, factories, pubs, churches and schools.  The PRS have collecting societies in nearly 100 countries. 

It even appears that if a member of staff is playing music through headphones and another member of staff can hear it, a licence is necessary!!!

You may be familiar with the fact that if your telephone plays "music on hold" to your customers, you need a licence if is copyright, but may not be aware that simply turning on the radio or playing background music also requires permission and a licence too.

The Performing Rights Society  for Music is separate to Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and each licence different rights when using music, so you may need a licence from both organisations!

For full details please visit the PRS for Music website link below:-

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How does your Business Continuity Plan stack up?

How would you cope if your office suffered a fire or flood?


Do you have a well thought through Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that you can put in place immediately should a crisis or disaster rear it’s ugly head?

A disaster recovery or business continuity plan (BCP) is ESSENTIAL to restore normal operations as quickly as possible in the event of unexpected circumstances thereby protecting the well-being of the company.

Your BCP should include policies and procedures which provide guidelines and instructions to be followed by managers and employees alike in an emergency.

As part of the overall planning process it is recommended to:
  • Identify potential crises that might affect you
  • Consider how you intend to minimise the risks of these disasters occurring
  • Consider how you'll react if a disaster occurs in a business continuity plan
  • Test the plan regularly
Full business continuity planning incorporates many areas; however, we shall focus on the communications aspect.

To protect your business communications system the following steps should be taken:-
  • Create a backup plan
  • Put in place automatic diverts to mobiles or other landlines
  • Keep spares that can be swapped over quickly, such as routers and phones
  • Ensure that you have a robust Service Level Agreement (SLA) with your provider
It is best practice to install an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). This will keep any VoIP routers and Power over Ethernet (POE) phone switches powered on for a while. You may decide to have a selection of handsets that remain on during an outage.

In a crisis situation, Cloud (VoIP) telephony enables call diversion and remote-working to be managed by the office as required, and this flexibility is one of the major advantages of VoIP technology. This is not only essential in a crisis but is helpful in everyday operations. With an IP phone, it’s possible to connect from anywhere and deliver seamless uninterrupted telephone service with the knowledge that no calls will be missed.

VoIP is delivered via an IP handset or smartphone which is allocated its own extension number. Once connected to the phone server, it can be used from anywhere there is a data (broadband) connection, whether it’s in the office, from home or from a completely different location. This means you can provide a seamless client interface, providing flexibility for you, your business and ensuring client access at all times.

Keeping spare equipment is a no-brainer. If your VoIP router “dies” and you have to order another, you could be without phones and broadband for a day or two. Having a replacement in the cupboard, means that you can be back to work in minutes.

With traditional analogue systems, Service Level Agreements for repair and maintenance can involve days of waiting, meaning businesses can suffer paralysing inconveniences for prolonged periods – It could spell disaster and frustration all-round. As “cloud telephony delivery” is offered in a completely different way, it can provide business continuity much more comprehensively and efficiently.

VoIP is provided through off-site systems which are monitored and maintained constantly to deliver maximum reliability of service and continuous connectivity. Real-time monitoring and alert screens are provided to system managers, whose primary responsibility is ensuring that any server problems are totally resolved within the shortest time frame, often minutes, compared to waiting for an engineer to call - sometimes hours or days later as with traditional systems.

If you would like to learn more about the flexibility and versatility of VoIP and how this could fit with your BCP please give us a call for an impartial chat

The Merlin Team

Thursday, 12 February 2015

How much access do you give your staff?

A timely and useful reminder regarding the security risks of BYOD (bring your own device)  into the workplace.

Sometimes a tricky balance between amount of access requested and security for the company, so some good suggestions by Bryan Barringer in the link below:-

Following on from this, another useful article by Megan Berry which includes a BYOD policy template


Be safe not sorry!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Are we all over Apps? Scopes the way to go?

A new phone  - the Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is to be launched next week by Canonical.  Canonical were the guys that created the free, open-source Linux based OS Ubuntu.  The phone will be radically different to anything on the market at the moment and will feature "scopes" instead of "apps".  The idea with scopes is that they will be simpler and quicker to develop and provide a faster user experience.

For more information read the article by Jay Cassano below:

A clever strategy by Canonical, but will it catch on?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Is this the end of Gmail?

We'd like to share this fascinating article by Mike Elgan which contains a useful explanation of how Gmail works at the moment and why it could well be phased out by Google in the near future.  It's all down to money of course!

We'd love to hear how many of you use Inbox and if so, how do you like it?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Warning of New-style Ransomware

We thought we would pass on details of this article from Naked Security regarding another (simple it seems) method that fraudsters are using to extort money from companies.  Clever crooks - be extra vigilant!