Internet 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:
- This is used to separate the shop owners office network running her POS from the customers using the internet computer – security.
- This equipment also provides a hotspot ticketing feature so she could charge for time on the computer.
- 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.
The basic function for an internet computer is the following:
- Supported browser for all internet surfing requirements – email, research, banking etc
- Microsoft Office package for editing and printing documents.
- Accessing files on USB sticks and saving downloaded and edited documents to them.
- Printing and scanning documents.
Though currently in beta, Remix provided a solid platform for the above requirements.
- Runs well on old hardware.
- The Browser is the latest Google Chrome – all internet standards supported.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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:
Give us a call with your networking and IT requirements – we will take care of you.