Showing posts from 2009

About Start Software

Start Software is an award-winning developer and leading publisher of asbestos software, systems for the legal services industry and more.

Want to know more about asbestos software Alpha Tracker? Alpha Tracker is the most used asbestos software in the UK, Australia & New Zealand with more than 60m items of asbestos data stored.

Our legal services software Alpha Legal helps will writers, accountants, solicitors, IFAs and estate agents to communicate securely with clients. Read about developments here on the blog.

Or need help with Alpha Anywhere or Alpha Transform projects or software development? You'll find useful info here.

Backups - Reminder for Christmas

Christmas is a time when thieves know that offices will be empty. For this reason, office break-ins are especially common at Christmas time.
Before you go on your break, double-check that all equipment is secure and that you have off-site backups in place. The backups must not be kept in the same place as the source data. If you suffer a burglary (or fire/flood) then you must be confident that the original data and the backup are not stored together.
If you need any advice on backups, do let us know - we're glad to help.

Christmas Arrangements 2009

We are open for business as usual throughout the Christmas and New Year period.
Thursday 24 December: Office closes at 4pm
Friday 25 December: Closed
Monday 28 December: Closed
Tuesday 29 December: Open with reduced staffing levels
Wednesday 30 December: Open with reduced staffing levels
Thursday 31 December: Open with reduced staffing levels
Friday 1 January: Closed
As usual, we are not sending Christmas cards to clients but instead we are donating to our favourite charity, the RNLI.
We wish all of our customers a Happy Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Recession Receding?

We have our largest order book for over 2 years and new projects waiting to be confirmed.
This week I have a full diary of sales appointments.
Could the recession be nearly over?

Windows 7 - First Impressions

I have just updated my work laptop.
First impression was "so what" but actually it is growing on me.
Performance is either better or perhaps just *feels* better; either way it is an improvement over Vista.

Sent from my Windows Mobile® phone.

Tracker/Windows 7

We have completed our tests and can confirm that Tracker is fully compatible with Windows 7, the new operating system from Microsoft.

Toy Tracker/Windows 7

We have completed our tests and can confirm that Toy Tracker is fully compatible with Windows 7, the new operating system from Microsoft.

Access 2010 - New Features

I went to a preview of Access 2010 at Microsoft HQ yesterday.
Although there are improvements throughout, the major new feature is a facility to migrate an Access system and turn it into a web application using Sharepoint 2010.
Most features transfer (data, forms, queries, even reports) and only a web browser is then required to run the system.
Microsoft have now made the whole of Office 2010 available for download as a free "Beta" so take a look at their website if you want to try it for yourself.

Tracker Web Server update

Another update is available for Tracker Web Server (latest version is v1.0.214).
This release has a number of performance improvements and also shows items of limited access ("LAG") and no access ("NAG") on both the asbestos and non-asbestos register.
Contact us if you would like this update to be applied.

Screen-pop now available in Tracker

Do you have a busy sales or customer service team using Tracker all day, every day?
Is your telephone system reasonably new?
We can now add a "screen pop" facility to your Tracker so that the correct client screen "pops" up onto your system whenever your client telephones you - without you having to search for them yourself.
If you are interested in this, get in touch to discuss with the details of your telephone system.

Prices frozen for 3rd year running

We've just completed our annual pricing review and we are pleased to announce that prices have been frozen for the 3rd year running.
Our Terms & Conditions of business have been updated during the last few months and are available on our website. Please note that it is usual for us to charge travel time and expenses.

ICT Excellence Awards - We Won!!

We are all so excited and proud that at last night's ICT Excellence Awards we won the "Chair's Award for Excellence" for our Total Diet Management software product.Held at the National Motorcycle Museum, approx. 500 people attended a glittering awards dinner. The award recognised that Total Diet Management v3 (TDMv3) is innovative, has a potentially global market, and has benefits for the welfare of cows, the profitability of the farms and for the ailing dairy farming industry.
The brainchild of academic and dairy expert Peter Allen, TDMv3 was coded by Start's software developer Adam Dangerfield.
A great night and a great product - and a wonderful way to celebrate Start's 10th year of trading.

Asbestos Tracker at Nuclear Power Station

Asbestos Tracker is an asbestos management database (with optional pocket PC interface for reinspections and Intranet/Internet access) that we supply to customers either directly or via our Tracker asbestos clients.
Oldbury Nuclear Power Station is our latest client (see for the fascinating history of the site and it's future) after an installation and training day on Thursday.
Oldbury isn't the first nuclear power station that I've visited as a consultant and they are always such interesting places to work at. Nuclear power is controversial but climate change will surely mean that nuclear power will have an increasingly important part to play in our energy plans.

Tracker Mobile to support Blackberry and Android phones?

We've had notification that Pocket PC Creations (the software we use to create Tracker Mobile) is due a major upgrade. We are partners with the company that produces Pocket PC Creations (known as PPCC) and so we are asked for our input to new versions and we get to test them before they go on public release.
Up to now, PPCC has only support Windows mobile devices. They are hoping in the new release to also support Blackberry phones and the new Android devices too. They may even be able to support Nokia phones running the Symbian operating system.
No specific release date yet for the new software but we'll update you as soon as we know.

Google Maps becomes Google Sat Nav (for free!)

Google Maps ( was a revelation when it was launched and they soon followed with a mobile version for phones and pocket PCs.
For a while, you have been able to request directions but it wasn't designed to be used "in car" as it didn't have voice instructions and the features you'd expect from a Sat Nav like TomTom or Garmin.
Well, that's about to change and Google have released their "proper" Sat Nav version of Google Maps. For free. Not the time to buy shares in TomTom...

Toy Tracker at Birmingham Toy Library Event

Another fun day for Tim and Elaine at the Toy Library event on Monday.
Thank you to all concerned for making us feel so welcome and for allowing us to demonstrate what Toy Tracker can do.
You see photos from the event here (scroll down towards the bottom of the page).

Tracker Web Server update

Tracker Web Server now logs the IP address of the connecting computer within its audit trail.
Some client administrators have reported hacking attempts (though none have been successful due to Tracker Web Server's inherently secure architecture) and this new facility means that the IP addresses of hackers can be reported to the appropriate authorities.
For more information, contact the office on 0845 612 2402.

Tracker Upload Manager improved

We've created a new, better version of Tracker Upload Manager, the program that sorts and confirms delivery of incoming survey data from pocket PCs.
The new version of Tracker Upload Manager has:
  • a new "architecture" which makes it more reliable
  • a facility to send emails to the surveying manager or the admin department whenever data arrives and text messages are sent to surveyors
  • an improved log facility to enable uploading errors to be tracked and resolved
  • a new option which enables specific survey milestones to be auto-updated when data arrives.
If you use Tracker Upload Manager, contact us for a free update.

Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) Released

Microsoft have released Service Pack 2 for Vista. I have installed it and all seems well so far - my laptop is probably starting up and shutting down slightly more quickly and so far nothing has stopped working.
If you have automatic updates switched on, your PC will prompt you to install it. Be warned - it does take an hour or so to apply.
If you want to download it manually, take a look at for more information.

Tracker manuals now online

Kim has finished putting the Tracker manuals online.
If you need to download the latest copy of the manual, click here.

National Computing Centre Annual Conference 2009 - Start Software/Mobile Data

Tim is just back from the NCC Annual Conference at The Cumberland Hotel in London where he was discussing Start Software's expertise in mobile data capture with delegates from across the UK.
You can read more about the conference here.

Microsoft loses T-Mobile "Sidekick" customer data - for ever?

Take a look at
This is an example of where "cloud" computing (where a unknown server somewhere is holding data on your behalf) can go horribly wrong. When Microsoft bought the company running the T-Mobile "Sidekick" service (a company ironically called "Danger") for $500m they presumably asked if appropriate backups were in place. They apparently weren't, and now their customers have lost everything (photos, contacts, messages) with no way of getting the data back.
If you use any cloud service (eg Google Docs or Zoho) then do make sure you have a local backup of your information, just in case.

Toy Tracker 2010 launched at NATLL Conference

Tim and Elaine, our sales & marketing team, launched Toy Tracker 2010 at the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries (NATLL) Conference 2009 at Kings Cross, London.
We had a great day at the conference and thanks to NATLL for their help and support in providing us space for our stand.
You can see photos from the launch day at

Testing on Windows 7

Windows 7 is nearly here - the first PCs running the new operating system will be sold this month.

As a Microsoft Partner, we get to see new versions of Windows early (when they are in "beta") and so we've been testing our software for some while now on PCs running Windows 7.

The good news is that all of our software has operated correctly so far and although we will continue to run checks we don't anticipate any problems. This means that you can update your PCs whenever you want, confident that our software will continue to run.

If you have any particular queries or questions, please do get in touch.

More information about Windows 7 can be found on the Microsoft web site, here:

Excellent meeting at Shrewsbury Police HQ

Last night the Shropshire Police Authority members had our regular 6-monthly meeting with the Divisional Command Team. It is a chance to sit around the table and have discussions about any current issues, and we certainly covered a great deal of ground in nearly 3 hours of talking.

We looked in detail at the crime levels and - in general - it is good news. Crime in Shropshire continues to fall, in general. It also seems that the recession has yet to make any negative impact on the number of burglaries, for example (it was expected that this sort of crime would rise, nation-wide).

We also look at some of the "repeat offenders" how have been released from prison back into the community. The work that the police do to monitor these people is very important and very impressive.

The officers also gave us an update about the working that Community Support Officers in particular are doing to increase community confidence in specific "hotspot" areas. This is really good work and we will continue to monitor it.

Unfortunately, there have been some especially serious crimes of late in Shropshire and we were briefed on those. It is reassuring that Shropshire continues to be a very safe place to live, work and visit and in the rare occasions that a serious crime occurs, detection and conviction usually follows very quickly.

Recruiting Software Developer

Are you a talented software developer with MS Access, VB/VBA and SQL Server skills? If so, contact us and email your CV and a covering note. We are looking for someone to join our team and have a vacancy advertised on and in the local press.

Start goes Nuclear!

Just returned from a site visit to a Nuclear Power Station (they are upgrading their asbestos system to our own Asbestos Tracker). Many of the UK's reactors are approaching the end of their working lives and so the process of dismantling them is about to start and the proper management of asbestos containing materials will be a key part of the task.

New website at

Our new website has finally been launched. Hope you like it!
The style of the site is very similar to our sister site at (which focuses on our IT Audit and Due Diligence services) - do take a look if you haven't already.

Press Release: Start Software achieves accreditation double

Start Software achieves accreditation double
Bridgnorth, Shropshire, 17th September 2009
Bridgnorth based Start Software has successfully renewed the prestigious ISO 9001:2000 and Accredit UK standards
Start Software is delighted to announce that it has successfully renewed the prestigious ISO 9001:2000 and Accredit UK awards. These standards recognize the quality and capability of the organization.
Director Robin Bennett says, “We believe the time and effort invested to gain these awards is vital, because it demonstrates that we have the people and processes in place to deliver a top-class service to our customers. It also means that we are able to carry Professional Indemnity insurance which provides added peace of mind to our clients.”
The company is a leading provider in the UK of mobile data capture applications covering industries from Asbestos Surveying to Cattle Management and Toy Libraries. They are currently working on a number of new projects. Bennett added, “The added level of professionalism we are able to demonstrate with these accreditations has helped us not only to survive the recession, but to expand – we are currently recruiting extra staff to cope with the demand”
Tim Robbins
07878 425176

TDM v3 launches at Dairy Event 2009

Peter Allen, a client and leading dairy consultant, launched Total Diet Management v3 at the Dairy Event 2009 show today.
We have been working closely with Peter for a few months to redevelop Total Diet Management (TDM) to make it easier to use and more sophisticated in approach. TDM analyses cows' diets and the value of the milk produced in order that a dairy farmer can maximise his profit margins.
For more information about TDM, contact Peter directly on 01939 270788 or by email:

ISO 9001 Review Successful

Just got back from holiday to hear that our ISO 9001 annual review has been successful. All of Kim's hard work has been rewarded with a straightforward review visit from our assessor and a report with only minor queries and suggestions.
Following on from our AccredIT successful re-accreditation, this is great news for us at Start.

Resource Tracker - new Filter option

Adam has finished a Resource Tracker update. One of the best features is a new "filter" option which means that the project list is now instantly searchable by project name - this has made it much, much faster to schedule projects. Great stuff!

Robin writes article for Management in Practice

Management in Practice is the leading magazine for GPs and their staff. Robin was commissioned to write an article about NHS IT projects and why they fail.
If you register on their site, you can read the article here.

Blog Archive

Show more