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"Webcam Solution a Success"

PS Computer Systems of Ben Nevis Industrial Estate in Fort William have developed a successful and reliable system that has now been installed in five sites by the RSPB to upload images to the Internet.

Developed by Julian Flux, of PS Computers, the first of these systems were tested on various sites around the Fort William area uploading images of Ben Nevis and Nevis Range to the popular web site www.lochaber.com, which they have continued to do for over a year. Although the technology is straightforward the challenge was to produce a system working straight from the box – all the customer has to do is to connect it to their camera – and also one that continues to work reliably.

PS Computers were one of the first IT companies to become Microsoft Certified Solution Providers in the Highlands and have always used the latest technology to provide solutions for their customers. John Snelgrove, Director and founder of the business says "We are all enthusiastic to see what we can do with the technology as it develops and with support from Microsoft we can see and use software before it is generally released". With reference to the Internet which has become so popular over the last year he says: "We started our first web site in the area in 1996 and have always tried to promote the potential of the Internet for every business, we now see it as a vital tool for our business as well one of the key services we provide to others."

One of the recent projects for PS was to help McIntyre and Company, Solicitors and Estate Agents, to enable their property lists to be available on the Internet. This has to be quick to use for the already busy staff and had to also provide useful database facilities for the business. John says: " This solution uses a Microsoft Access Database as the main application and with several other background applications enables the staff at McIntyre and Company to put their database on the Web with the click of a few buttons." To see this database working go to www.mcintyrelaw.co.uk

PS Computers has been working with the biggest companies in the area for a number of years providing support for their systems and is also keen to extend its involvement with smaller businesses. Julian commented: "Many businesses are just beginning to use computer systems and we feel that training and support are often more important than the choice of a computer. We have provided a number of training courses over the last year to help people to get the most from their systems."

One course that PS will be running in February and March will provide its participants with the ability to start a web site, and will also put their information on the web all as part of the course!

Called "Build a Web" this course will run for two days at Lochaber College with an extra third day to enable a bit of ‘finishing off’ to be done. If you would like more details call Carol on 01397 700099.

Databases have proved to be one of the applications many businesses are keen to use. John, who has produced many database solutions, also provides training in Microsoft Access. "Its such a versatile application" he says, "we can create everything from a simple mailing list to a medical survey solution."

The first thing that strikes you on a visit to their premises, apart from the number of screens glowing and the buzz of many systems in the background, is the enthusiasm of everyone about the technology they are involved with. Ewen Conacher, support technician for systems and networks, says: "We have been assessing the test versions of Windows 2000 ahead of the full version that will be released in February to see what it can do – this is what we will be working with in the future."

It is obvious also how important the Internet is to the business. In one corner is their WebPoint system that is permanently connected to the Internet to allow locals and visitors access. On other screens is information being prepared for www.lochaber.com. John says: "We have put a lot of effort into this local site to try and promote the area and are keen to see locals use it. Information can be put on the accommodation database for free or a more detailed listing for a small charge ."

Looking through a list of people who have visited the site it is staggering to see the numbers and places they access from. There is even a facility to send an electronic postcard with a view of the area to anywhere in the world! You can find the site at www.lochaber.com.

It is certainly enlightening to see a small but very busy business tucked away in this estate and to see their determination and enthusiasm to know about – and use – the latest technology in this very fast moving industry.

John and the team are going to produce a monthly IT bulletin that will appear in Lochaber Life, starting next month.