Showing posts from September, 2014

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.

1000 Quality Checked changes complete!

Since 1 April 2014 we've been double-checking every software change and customer problem solved. These checks are part of a new process to further reduce the number of bugs and annoyances that reach our customers.  We know how grim it is when we make a mistake and issue you with software that doesn't work as you want it to.

You might have spotted the "QN" numbers we have been referring to in our emails.  These are our Quality Numbers and each check has been logged in our control system.

In only 6 months we've reached our 1000th "QN" and the wonderful Cathy at IOM was the customer responsible for the change.  So... congratulations Cathy, a bottle of something cheap special is on its way up to you to mark the occasion!

Resource Tracker v1.0.649 SVN42 now available for download

Resource Tracker is the diary and scheduling system for Tracker.

The latest release, v1.0.649 SVN42, has many performance improvements and improving emailing capabilities.

You can download the latest version from here:

Alpha Tracker Document Maker updated - v1.4.336 SVN56

The latest Alpha Tracker Document Maker is now available for download from

Alpha Tracker Document Maker produces quotations, project documents, asbestos surveys and asbestos re-inspections for asbestos consultancies and asbestos surveyors using the Alpha Tracker software system.

The latest release, v1.4.336 SVN56, has improved the document production process for project-based documents such as method statements and plans of work.

Latest Alpha Tracker Document Maker now available - v1.4.334 SVN55

The latest version of the Alpha Tracker Document Maker module is now available for download from

Alpha Tracker Document Maker produces quotations, project documents, asbestos surveys and asbestos re-inspections for asbestos consultancies and asbestos surveyors using the Alpha Tracker software system.

The latest version, v1.4.334 SVN55, has a number of performance, logging and stability improvements and is available for immediate download.

August 2014's monthly update to Alpha Tracker has been released (SVN647)

August 2014's monthly update to Alpha Tracker is now publicly available.  This is update SVN647.

Here is a YouTube video which runs through the key changes:

The August update has 37 improvements and bug fixes to the software since the July update.

All new features are fully documented in both the release notes and updated User Guides.

Key new features in SVN647

1 We have a new mobile-friendly "job summary sheet" available for display on a surveyor's phone or tablet.  This shows the key information from the job without needing to print out any paperwork!

2 You can now import survey data (from another consultancy, for example) straight from Excel import sheets

3 We have changed the way that we control who can Approve or Sign off a report.  Only users in the "Quality" or "Superuser" security groups will now be allowed to do this

4 The emails which are automatically sent when a new project is created can now be customised by you - there is a template facility to allow you to include any information (in any format) from the project screen

5 The milestones feature is now quicker to use - double-click on the date and the system will enter your name and today's date automatically.

There are many more new features in this release and 8 important bug fixes.  See the release notes at the bottom of the Alpha Tracker product page for more information.

The update is ready to download and install through the Setup|System|Software Updates button.  If you need help to run the update, please do contact the support desk.

Tracker News newsletter changes

The August Tracker News newsletter is almost ready and we'll be sending it via a managed newsletter system from this month - there are now too many recipients for us to send it via email!

You can also sign up at our new Tracker News sign-up page:

Tracker News on the Start Software website

Alpha Tracker Document Maker v1.4.328 SVN53 now available for download

The latest version of Alpha Tracker's document generator module is now available for download.

Alpha Tracker Document Maker generates quotations, project documents and asbestos survey reports for Alpha Tracker users and the latest version (v1.4.328 SVN53) has cosmetic improvements when inserting multiple lab certificates into an asbestos report.

Download the latest version from or contact the office for assistance.

Start Software Support Stats - August 2014

Our support desk has had another good month solving 94% of urgent queries in the time-frames set by our customers:

In time (%)
In time (H) (%)
In time (total)
In time (H) (total)
Total solved
The success rate for less urgent calls was also good at 90% this month.

The following graph shows that the trend continues to improve:

Our support stats continue to improve month-on-month

Leading asbestos consultancy Fibre Management Ltd goes live with Alpha Tracker

Fibre Management Ltd (FML) offer a complete and independent asbestos service for their clients from initial consultancy through to:

  • Asbestos Surveys – Management, Demolition or Refurbishment
  • Asbestos Registers / Plans / Drawings / CAD
  • Asbestos Management
  • Asbestos Management Plans tailored to your needs
  • Tender Documentation /Assessment, Scope of works
  • Risk Assessments
  • Asbestos Removal Project Management
  • Asbestos Sampling
  • Asbestos Training
  • Lead Paint Sampling

Their objective is to provide a specialised, site specific and cost effective asbestos management service, with their clients' safety and legal compliance at the forefront.

Fibre Management Ltd's excellent and informative website
Today the directors, management and surveying team received their Alpha Tracker and Tracker Mobile training so that they can go live with automated asbestos surveying from on-site tablet through to report PDF and their client portal!

One of FML's professional surveying team in action with Tracker Mobile on a Samsung tablet

Fibre Management's busy admin office
If we can help you to streamline your asbestos consultancy business, please do get in touch.

Latest AlphaValidator now available - v1.0.36 SVN15

The latest version of AlphaValidator is now ready for download from

Alpha Validator checks the data sent in by asbestos surveyors both at the point of upload and just before the report is produced and is an integral part of the Alpha Tracker asbestos software system.

Example AlphaValidator data check report

The latest version, v1.0.36 SVN15, has a new standard data check which confirms that all items marked as samples ("S"), cross-references ("X") or previously sampled ("PS") items are all correctly numbered.

Download the latest version from or contact the office for advice.

YouTube video of the July 2014 Alpha Tracker update

We previously blogged with details of the July 2014 update to Alpha Tracker.

Here is a YouTube video which runs through the key changes:

You can see the June update video here.

Google Glass and "augmented reality" seminar

I attended a seminar today hosted by the University of Wolverhampton to see some new technologies which might be of use to our asbestos surveying consultancy customers using Alpha Tracker and Tracker Mobile.

Suzi Perry was one of the speakers (and - in truth - one of the reasons I went!):

Wolverhampton's very own Suzi Perry in action
Google Glass is a technology we've been exploring for a while now to see whether it can be used by asbestos surveyors as part of the data capture process.  Today I got my hands on one and it does seem like a "version 1" product - not bad but dreadful battery life:

I've always wanted to look like a cyborg!!

Tracker Upload Manager v1.0.157 SVN31 released

The latest version of Tracker Upload Manager has been released.

This version, v1.0.157 SVN31, has improved processing of photos taken by asbestos surveyors (especially close-up photos).

Please contact the office if you need help to update your system.

Thoughts from abroad

I've just returned from a 5-week working holiday meeting new and prospective asbestos customers and partners in Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand.

It is the longest time I've worked abroad and I learnt a lot - here are some tips which may be useful for you too:

  • before I went, I bought a 3 PAYG SIM and put £15 of credit on it.  With the new 3 "Feel at Home" deal (see that got me unlimited data and virtually unlimited calls and texts to the UK while I was away.  Unbelievable deal, saved me a fortune
  • make the most of the time differences - it is a pain being out of sync with the UK but you can also use it your advantage by doing preparatory work out of hours so UK staff are constantly busy
  • there is free WiFi almost everywhere now, even in the remotely places it seems.  The 3 deal, above, sorted my smartphone but I still needed to find WiFi for my laptop but almost everywhere I travelled I could find free WiFi in hotels, bars and airports
  • my mobile auto-switched time-zones but I decided to keep my laptop in UK time so that I always knew at-a-glance what time it was in our main office and so that customers receiving emails from me would see UK times on them
  • not all airlines and aeroplanes are the same!  We usually fly Emirates when we go out to our Adelaide office but this time flew Cathay Pacific and the experience wasn't nearly as good
  • I bought a £17 pair of noise cancelling headphones from Amazon (see this link) before flying out and they made the long flights so much more bearable.  Obviously they weren't as good as a Bose pair for £300 but they did the job just nicely
  • make the most of the cloud for backing up photos and important documents.  Most of our key company documents are now in Google Drive for example and I could read and edit these from my laptop or my phone knowing that the updates were safe and constantly saved and backed up.
Hope those tips help if you are travelling and working abroad soon.

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