Internet Cafe Setup

internet cafeInternet Cafe Services with a twist!

A shop owner took over an internet service setup from a neighboring store that was closing down. This consisted of a computer providing internet access and an old Toshiba MFP printer.  The requirements were to get the system up and running to get feet in the door. The main business of this customer is home ware, furniture and goods.  This presented an interesting challenge on assessing the situation.  My client is not computer savvy – this would be a distinct disadvantage given the challenges inherent in providing internet services.  Your public facing computers will always get stuck with niggly issues you need to quickly troubleshoot to get going again.  Equipment was incredibly old – a raw deal there. Computer was running Windows XP!  Getting new was not in the budget.  I almost recommended cutting the loss. However, recent developments in the tech space gave me idea that I could implement a solution using old hardware and provide a somewhat bullet proof environment.

Enter my favorite networking equipment – MikroTik:

  1. This is used to separate the shop owners office network running her POS from the customers using the internet computer – security.
  2. This equipment also provides a hotspot ticketing feature so she could charge for time on the computer.
  3. Provides the means for me to securely access the network and attached equipment to provide remote support – something she will definitely need at the beginning – saving on call out costs.

Remix OS base on Android

The basic function for an internet computer is the following:

  1. Supported browser for all internet surfing requirements – email, research, banking etc
  2. Microsoft Office package for editing and printing documents.
  3. Accessing files on USB sticks and saving downloaded and edited documents to them.
  4. Printing and scanning documents.

Though currently in beta,  Remix provided a solid platform for the above requirements.

  1. Runs well on old hardware.
  2. The Browser is the latest Google Chrome – all internet standards supported.
  3. Microsoft Office in the Android app store provides all requirements to open Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents while maintaining formatting and providing all the basic functions for editing and document creation. All that’s needed is an Office 365 subscription to activate all features.
  4. The main win for me was the USB stick feature.  Any internet cafe has this as a major challenge.  The main form of disruption and downtime is from virus infection from USB sticks.  There is also the risk of spreading virus’s from an already infected computer to the user’s computer when they insert the stick in another computer. Since the customer is using Android, risk of infection is minimal if non-existent in comparison to Windows. WIN!
  5. Printing and scanning is now supported by all major printer providers using an App on Android.  Unfortunately in this case, the printer is too old.  However, using an old computer, I setup Linux for scanning to a shared folder and providing a print server function.  The Android PC would connect to the print server(this function is supported) in order to print.

All the tick boxes ticked!

Though some teething problems at the beginning, which is to be expected, the system is now working well for the client.  Some of the client’s using the Android PC do get bemused as using this system is not what they are used to.  However, it gets the job done with minimum fuss.

Customer has a bullet proof setup which she has gotten familiar with in short time.  Also proud of providing a workable solution with what was given to work with.  This also is possibly the only internet solution in the country at the moment!  If you are in the area, please go and have a look and support my client – she is located here:

https://maps.yellowpages.co.za/details/My-Home-Honeydew/SA_8430539_BUS/

Give us a call with your networking and IT requirements – we will take care of you.

 

Network Magic

network magic

Network Magic!

Just completed a good piece of work for a new client. Requirements were the following:

  • Hotspot for sit down clients that would be controlled – timed and capped.
  • Office network both wifi and cabled – Point of Sale IPAD on wifi and receipt printer on network cable. Both networks to be separate so POS is safe from Hotspot users.
  • Landline phone – operating on VOIP.
  • Reliable internet access since all services would be dependent on this.

This is what we implemented:

network magicTelkom LTE modem providing the latest LTE speed and internet quality.

The reason going for this was twofold:
1.  Installing a Telkom fixed line for internet and landline features was not a customer preference and would have been tedious. Customer preferred the pre-paid option as well.
2.  Hotpot users would get quality controlled internet access experience through speed and reliability.

Our network equipment of choice – a little Mikrotik beauty.network magic

  1. Inbuilt Hotpsot feature – client would print out vouchers every morning with different restrictions – 30 minutes with 100 Megbit Cap for example. When customers login with ticket vouchers given to them, they connect to wifi hotspot network, automatically get directed to a login page on their browsers to login via their voucher.
  2. Proper and secure separation of Office and Hotspot users – so that Hotspot users would not see the network which hosts the Customer’s POS and and business information.
  3. Fail-over of internet services.  Also installed a 3G usb modem on the Mikrotik so that should the LTE connection go down for whatever reason, the USB connection from another provider would provide temporary internet access for for just the Office network until the LTE connection came back on(regular monitoring) .  Scripts on the Mikrotik provided a little voodoo magic which makes the whole process transparent to the Customer – they don’t have to do a thing.  System just works!
  4. VOIP mobile handset with a landline number that is connected to hosted VOIP provider over the internet connection of the Mikrotik.  Since there is fail-over of internet services, the connection should be reliable.  However, for whatever reason, should the connection not be reachable, automatic forwarding to the client’s cell phone is enabled!
  5. Secure remote management and support of the setup so that we can promptly provide assistance should the need arise.

Expecting positive feedback from our client over next few weeks.

Reliable and secure internet access is definitely achievable!  Call us now to get yours sorted.