Showing posts from March, 2013

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.

Asbestos surveyors AMS-NW go live with Alpha Tracker

Asbestos surveyors AMS-NW have received their training today for Alpha Tracker, our web-based system for asbestos surveying consultancies.

AMS-NW's web site at
AMS-NW provide all aspects of asbestos management planning, surveying and asbestos removal services throughout the UK from their base in the North West.  By switching from a paperwork system to surveying on iPad Mini handhelds and accessing Alpha Tracker through a web browser from any Internet-connected PC, they will save hundreds of hours of admin each year.

Alpha Tracker runs completely within a web browser, enabling the AMS-NW admin staff to:
  • access their client database
  • create quotations and process orders
  • book in survey projects and other jobs
  • schedule work in the integrated diary
  • check the data and photos transmitted from Tracker Mobile
  • enter the lab results
  • produce the report in Word - with one click!
Alpha Tracker is available now from Start Software and is the latest generation of the company's long line of asbestos surveying products.

Brett and Becky from AMS-NW receive their training

AMS-NW check Alpha Tracker online

Tracker Upload Manager v1.0.65 available

Tracker Upload Manager (TUM) v1.0.65 has gone through testing and is now available for installation at client sites.

Tracker Upload Manager v1.0.65 SVN8

This version of TUM has a new option to enable it to do all Tracker photo processing - essential if you are using Alpha Tracker and beneficial if you are using Tracker as it reduces the amount of work that Tracker has to do when "Process PDA Data" is clicked.

Please contact the office if you would like this update.

24 x 7 Support now available from Start Software

We can now offer 24 x 7 support cover to our customers.

Our standard support service (documented here guarantees that we will always answer in person between 08:30 and 17:30 Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

We can now offer a 24 x 7 telephone service for an additional £247/quarter (ie £82.33/month on top of the standard support contract charges). 

If you subscribe to this service you will be able to speak to our call handlers at any time and you will always be answered in person.  The details of your problem will be recorded on our systems and - if urgent - your call will be passed to a member of the standby support team.  The normal response and resolution times apply.

Many of our customers are now working internationally and need to operate outside of GMT and so if this applies to you, get in touch and we can set up your subscription to our 24x7 service.

Prestige retailer enjoying their web-based asbestos system from Start Software

We've just completed a web-based asbestos register system for one the UK's most prestigious retailers.

This the first version we have developed in Alpha Five v11 and the customer is really pleased with the end result - it is fast, easy to use and very flexible.

Instant access to the asbestos register

Drill down to see more info

Photos visible in high resolution

View listings of plans and other documents

Click to view plans as PDFs

** SNOW DISRUPTION 22/3/2013 **

Some members of staff have not been able to reach our offices today so please bear with us if you find that our support service is not as responsive as normal.

Our call handlers are working normally so please log calls on 0845 612 2402 and we will get back to you as soon as we are able.

Many thanks for your understanding.

Surveying software on the Android Samsung Galaxy Camera

We've been experimenting with our asbestos surveying software - Tracker Mobile - and our legionella data capture and other systems running directly on the excellent Samsung Galaxy Camera.

Everything runs really smoothly - you get the best of a fast data capture device with a 5" screen together with an excellent camera with a 21x optical zoom and flash for those awkward shots.

Here is our programmer Dan modelling the camera and our software (based on Mobile Data Studio from our partners CreativityCorp).

Big touchscreen

Clear viewfinder, even in daylight

Turn it over and it works just like a smartphone

21x optical zoom for distant shots

Upload data via mobile phone SIM card or WiFi

It's all about "4" this week! Samsung launches the Galaxy S4

Samsung launched their new Galaxy S4 smartphone last night at the Radio City Music Hall with a whole raft of new features including "smart scroll" and "smart pause" which enable you to control your phone just by looking at it.

Also launched yesterday was our "4" offer for discounted programming time with not quite the marketing budget or razzmatazz!

  • 443 - 4 programming days for the price of 3
  • 845 - 8 programming days for the price of 5!
You need to place your order in March 2013 (see this blog for full conditions) so contact Robin now to reserve your discounted time and make your IT budget go further.

Google's guide to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

The precise method that Google uses to rank pages has always been regarded as a closely-guarded secret but they do publish guides for web designers which go some way to explain how they do it.

At Start Software, we don't try to do any tricks with Google, we just put good content on our site so that links you'd expect to find us like "Start Software" or "Asbestos Tracker" find your way to where you can read about our software development services or our asbestos surveying software, Tracker. (sharp-eyed readers will spot that these links are tricks in themselves!)

Here's one the best guides and it is really worth a read - click here.

Pre-pay programming time in March 2013 and save!

We're offering discounts on programming time if the time is purchased in advance during March 2013.

Pre-book time now and you can make real savings.  The two offers are:
  • "443" - pre-book 4 programming days and you pay for only 3
  • "845" - pre-book 8 programming days and you pay for only 5.
There is no small print - this offer is as good as it looks - but there are a couple of conditions:
  1. you need to accept the invoice in March (you don't need to know specific dates for the programming time, you can keep these "up your sleeve")
  2. you need to pay on strictly 30 day terms with no exceptions
  3. you can only use these offers once.
There is no time-limit to the days pre-purchased.  Once you have pre-booked the time you can call the days off as it suits you.

If you're happy to abide with these two conditions then give Robin a call or drop him an email to take advantage of these money-saving deals.

Tracker Web Server v1.5.355 SVN42 in beta

Our latest Tracker Web Server has been released as a "beta" product ready for you to install and try.

This version has a new option to display registers showing the areas of no access and limited access as a separate list.

Please contact the office if you would like this update.  Please note that this is beta quality and is not yet ready for live use.

Why testing isn't always the answer when changing complex software

Our clients are understandably annoyed when changes we make to their systems don't work first time or have unforeseen knock-on effects.

The assumption is often that the work was done without appropriate levels of testing.  Testing is expensive and so clients are often reluctant to authorise us to spend lots of time in the testing phase - which is one of the reasons that when we quote for software modifications we are now explaining very carefully what testing options are available and the impact they have on the cost of the change.

There is another side to this story which is puts "testing" into perspective when dealing with complex systems like Tracker, and this blog post from the BBC explains it very well:

With yet more banking system problems in the news this week (see and systems becoming ever more complex, perhaps new methods of software modification are becoming essential.

Tracker Mobile on a camera?!? Meet the Samsung Galaxy Camera

Samsung have launched the Samsung Galaxy Camera - a great quality unit with 21x optical zoom and 4.8" touch-screen which is powered by Android... which means it is possible to use our asbestos surveying system - Tracker Mobile  - directly on the camera itself!

Yes, this camera is essentially an Android mini tablet with a great quality camera bolted onto the front, so all standard Android apps will run on the phone including Mobile Data Studio and hence Tracker Mobile.

If you have been previously put off using Tracker Mobile for asbestos surveying  because you have been worried about the lack of decent flash or the lack of zoom on a smartphone or tablet camera, this might be the answer for you.  You'll get great photos and the convenience of data capture and transmission from the unit itself.

If you'd like to borrow a demo unit for yourselves, get in touch.

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