The Northern Beaches NBN - What you need to know

Seeing the NBN infrastructure nodes popping up all over the beaches in last 6 months and sitting at the Whale Beach Deli writing this post via the cloud on my iPhone over 4G reminds me how far the Northern Beaches has come in connectivity. HOWEVER - With every new technology there's always a few kinks to be worked out...

I live/ work on the Northern Beaches - Should I switch to the NBN?

The NBN implementation on the beaches can be great for some but because the government decided to implement a rather sketchy solution (fiber the the node) - to answer this question you'll need to look at two main factors:

1. How far your residence is from the closest NBN node

NBN Nodes are the green boxes on the street that look like this: 


Distance from your nearest node because the line signal gets weaker the further you are from a node. This means that people closer to a node will get much faster speeds on the NBN than people further away. In some cases at larger distances your ADSL 2+  connection may even be faster than an NBN connection! To figure this out, find your closest node using the map here:

Then use google maps to figure out your distance from the node and check the graph below to see if you're within a decent range to make the NBN worth while:


 2. Who you choose as your NBN Internet Service Provider

There are a lot of providers out there (Telstra, iiNet, TPG, internode and many more) but only a few offer a reliable service and speed. This is because many of them are over allocating their networks without upgrading their backhaul bandwidth. I've had a good experience with iiNet on the Northern Beaches. In the early days when we first connected they had a few slow downs in the evenings between 6-10pm but have since seemed to increase their capacity accordingly. In addition to this I also have a theory that the higher the plan you're on the more prority you get in terms of consistent / reliable bandwidth. Other NBN users have not been so fortunate and have quite regularly found their internet speeds to be much slower than ADSL 2+ during peak times.

Final thoughts

  •  Do your research before signing up to the NBN. Once you're signed up there's no easy way to go back to ADSL 2+
  • Check your distance
  • Choose the right provider

Is your Mac running slow?

We love our Mac's, and MacOS is one of the least susceptible operating systems to slow downs... but... sadly, it's not invulnerable.

Now, we're going to let you in on a few of our little secrets here (which are really just common knowledge among techs) so please forgive us if it gets a little technical. We're big fans of sharing knowledge and enabling our clients to be able to DIY if you have the time on your hands.


If your Mac is running slow and you can't be bothered to read on, send us an email to and we'll be happy to help out!


Four tips to keep your mac running smoothly:

It can really help to check the following items once in a while to make sure you're computer continues to run smoothly for years to come. In this post we're going to look at four fundamental checklist items for maintaining your MacOS system to keep it running smoothly.

#1 - Check Console Errors

Checking your console system log queries on a regular basis will help you to understand what your computer is thinking about and having trouble with in the background. It's quite common for applications and services on your computer to play up even when everything seems hunky dory. Your console system log will give you the truth about the mental health of your Macs system. You can find your system Console Application in the finder by going to your Applications Folder > Utilities Folder >

Two common error's we've come across in the Console log recently are:

  1. The google background updater service playing up and writing errors to the system log file every 10 seconds. This can happen on Mac's running any type of Google software e.g. Google Earth or Google Chrome.
  2. PhotoStream doing a similar thing (writing excessive log files due to an error): PhotoStreamAgent[676]: Process unable to create connection because the sandbox denied the right to lookup and so this process cannot talk to launchservicesd.

Leaving multiple errors like this unchecked will likely affect the performance of your computer so it's best to get them fixed up regularly.

In the case of the PhotoStream error we found - the solution was simple. All we needed to do was update to the latest version of iPhoto! However in the case of the Google software update service error, the solution was to uninstall all Google related software and run a super user command in terminal to remove the service manually.

#2 - Software Updates

Sometimes software updates can be a double edged sword - updating software can fix a lot of issues and keep your computer running smoothly however the reverse is also possible if the update is poorly built.

We find it's always best to take a cautious approach to major software update e.g. when updating your operating system.

Three quick software update tips:

  1. Make sure you have a recent backup incase you need to restore your system to a point before the update.
  2. If you want to minimise your exposure to annoying software bugs, hold off updating your software until a few weeks after it's initial release. This generally allows time for feedback from all the early adopters to filter through any initial bugs and for the developers to fix major instabilities before you make the switch.
  3. Make sure your computer isn't too old to run the updated software smoothly. Before updating, it's a good idea to search around the web to make sure that no other users using your same computer model are experiencing issues. The last thing you want is for the update to slow your computer, phone or tablet down.

#3 - Repair Permissions

Every file on your computer has access permissions assigned to it. Sometimes your files and folders end up with the wrong permissions on them and this causes trouble for your computer system.

Thankfully you easily able to correct any messy permissions by running the permission repair service in your Disk Utility application. To find it and run a permission check you can follow the steps in this short video:

How to repair disk permissions on a Mac:

#4 - Check Hard Disk space

When your Mac is running low on hard disk space it can be a real burden for your system to operate properly. It's always a good idea to make sure you have at least 10GB free. If you're down to your last 10GB it's probably time to either backup and remove all of the old photos, music and movies you don't need on your computer anymore, OR to upgrade your hard drive capacity.

Here's a quick tutorial on how to check your hard disk space on a Mac:

If you're more interested in removing unnecessary files rather than having to go through the hassle of having to buy a new hard drive and migrate all of your data... then we recommend checking out Daisy Disk on the Apple App Store. Daisy disk will help you to visualise and locate the files taking up the most space on your hard drive with a super simple interface.

We hope this has helped you! If you would like more help or information on how to keep your Mac running smoothly or any other question we'd love to hear from you in the comments or on Facebook!

How to use Microsoft Office Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a great way to troubleshoot crashes, bugs and slow performance in Microsoft (MS) Office programs on a Windows computer. Outlook, Word, Excel and Power Point from 2003 and later all support Safe Mode. 


So what is Safe Mode?

Safe Mode is an alternative way to launch an MS program. You may recall that if Word, Outlook or any other MS product crashes while being used, it will display an option to relaunch the program in Safe Mode. Unfortunately, they don’t make it obvious what this does or why you should do it! 

By enabling Safe Mode, MS programs will run with:

-          Any add-ins or extensions disabled

-          Default toolbar settings, no customisations

-          Recovered documents not opened by default

-          Limited saving capabilities and other restrictions


One of the most common issues that requires Safe Mode, is when the MS program will crash every time it is launched. This is often the fault of add-ins, which can be disabled via Safe Mode. If you are experiencing crashes upon program launches, try the following to resolve the issue:


Using Safe Mode to Disable an Add-In

Manually launching Safe Mode can be done at any point on a Windows PC:

-          Press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog

-          Type “outlook /safe” into the text field (without quotations, but remember the space inbetween)

-          Hit Enter and the MS program will launch in safe mode

If you want to launch a program other than outlook, use:

-          “winword /safe” for Word

-          “excel /safe” for Excel

-          “powerpnt /safe” for Powerpoint

To check if you are in Safe Mode, look at the top of the program window, where you should see the program name then (Safe Mode):

ss (2014-02-18 at 11.11.14).png

If the program now launches in Safe Mode, but crashes in normal mode, it is a good indication of what can be wrong. The best place to look is in the Add-Ins section, so go to:

-          File -> Options

-          Select Add-ins from the menu

-          Next to “Manage: COM Add-ins” Click Go…


This will provide you with a list of add-ins available to the program. Add-ins with a ticked box run automatically, Add-ins without a tick will not run. Look for any add-ins that appear to be 3rd party or not useful for you. One of the common culprits is ABBYY FineReader, which can cause all MS Office 2013 programs to crash upon launch. If you are unsure whether an add-in should be enabled or not, you can always disable it now, and enable it later if you find yourself needing it.

Once you have unchecked the add-in causing problems, click OK then close the MS program. Open it again normally (this time not in safe mode) and it should launch without any issues!

While this is only one of the uses for Safe Mode, in our experience it is one of the most common issues.


We hope this short guide helps, and if you have any issues or questions feel free to contact us for personalised support.

How to minimise WiFi exposure for your family

How to minimise WiFi exposure for your family

Have you ever been suspicious of what potential damage 24/7 WiFi exposure could be doing to your health over time?

We're not about to put tin foil hats on our heads but the facts are, no one knows exactly what long term effects WiFi exposure around the home or office may have on our health. In the last year there have been several studies listed in the links below about WiFi exposure reportedly having harmful effects on house plants & trees.