ORCHARD COMPUTER SERVICES
( BILL GULLY )
Orchard Computer Services (OCS) is the trading name for IT specialist. Bill Gully. OCS has been operating since early 1993 following very early retirement from employment after 30 years computing experience. The trading name seemed to select itself as I live in Somerset, for centuries a centre for cider making, and the fact that I work from an address in a road named "Orchard Rise".
I'm not the type of IT Consultant who expects hundreds of pounds just to appear on your doorstep. No job is too small, and I work in chargeable units of just one hour. I have a wide experience of many aspects of computing but concentrate on a variety of services related to the PC/Windows environment although my core activity is in business systems development usually for small businesses or public bodies.
Computers have found their way into all our lives, both working and private. Most people don't want to concern themselves with the underlying technologies of computing, simply to use of them as a tool of their trade. Unfortunately, unlike say a typewriter, you can't buy a computer, put it on a desk and think it will run for years without attention. They're just not like that, not yet at least. I know there must be thousands of computer users who need my type of service, experienced, affordable, and personal and have no way to find someone like me. Likewise, I don't know how to locate you so I've started this web site to give us a chance of bumping into each other.
The following links will provide you with further information about me that I hope you might find helpful.
Career Resumé Services Available Previous Clients How I Like to Work Contact Me
Visitors to this site since 1/10/1999
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A BRIEF CAREER RESUMÉ
I've included this section to give the reader an indication of the range of my experience of Information Technology.
I was fortunate enough to begin my career in computing straight from school back in the days when all computers were housed in very large, specially built, environmentally controlled rooms, with two or three engineers permanently on site to keep them operational. At that stage I was a very junior programmer engaged in the electricity supply industry, involved in developing IBM mainframe business applications from scratch.
It was a wonderful opportunity to get a grounding in Information Technology, long before that nomenclature was conceived, when all programming languages worked at a very low level, and it was really necessary to understand the underlying technology to make it work. I progressed through various programming positions contributing to a variety of complex applications (Domestic and Industrial Billing, Payroll, Stock Control, Payment of Creditors, Wayleaves, Financial Management etc) until I felt ready for a career move.
I obtained a post in County Council as a Systems Analyst managing a team of analysts and programmers involved in developing large and complex systems for an IBM mainframe computer, including, amongst many others, a new payroll system. It was a very large undertaking involving some 40,000 employees including roadmen, cleaners, school dinner ladies, administrators, accountants, solicitors, teachers, college lecturers, police officers and many others with a wide variation in service conditions. The whole project took over two years but when the time came the staff were paid on time and correctly.
I moved on to another County Council which employed an ICL mainframe computer and because of my previous experience was given the job of developing another payroll system. This too was successfully concluded and over the years I was responsible for a variety of systems including child health monitoring applications for the local Health Authority, and other financial systems for local District Councils.
During this time the local Police Authority relied on the County Council for its computing requirements, and I was given the opportunity to lead the software development for two online systems using a Macdonald Douglas mini-computer . The first application was to process fixed penalties for traffic violations from initial issue of the tickets, through payment to, in certain cases, eventual issue of summons to appear in court.
The second, and far more interesting project, was known as Modus Operandi. Its purpose was to use the mini-computer to match scene of crime information (type of crime, description, blood type, method of entry, type of goods stolen etc), amounting to many thousands of coded categories, against the MO's of known and previously convicted criminals to produce lists of individuals whose previous "form" matched the clues left at the scene of crime, and who should be further investigated. The system assisted in bringing a number of criminals to justice.
When PC's began to emerge as a viable business tool, I was asked to manage the County Council's IT Support, Research and Development Group. The group's purpose was to identify the technologies that the organisation needed, to research in detail the products that were available, and make recommendations as to which were suitable for adoption by the Council. When the product was adopted, I had to ensure that specialist staff in the group, were suitably trained, and in place to support the staff in the organisation that actually used it.
At the time of my early retirement in 1992, the County Council had in place a Wide Area Network, many Local Area Networks, over 3000 microcomputers many networked, and a consistent approach to all the major elements in PC technology. My group consisted of about fifteen very able specialist staff, and included a fully equipped training facility with a full time training officer.
After my retirement, still being relatively young, and with a consuming interest in all matters concerning computing it seemed only natural that I should combine my knowledge of Personal Computing with my real forte which has always been application development and this has accounted for the bulk of my work since then. However, I soon found out on visiting client sites that even the most basic technical knowledge is often not available to them, and I have been able to help them, in all sorts of ways, to make better use of the wonderful tool at their disposal.
Perhaps I can help you to! For fuller details of what I can offer Services Available below.
ORCHARD COMPUTER SERVICES
Hardware/Software/Operating System Upgrade & Support
Research & Development
Internet Support & Development
Application Development in the context in which I use it usually means a database application, most often employing MS Access, or sometimes Lotus Approach. It could equally well apply to a spreadsheet application and I am competent in MS, Lotus, and Corel varieties of that software genre.
I am able to undertake all stages of the development from Analysis of Requirements, through Design, Coding, Testing, Documentation, to Implementation. These days, the various stages are much less clearly defined than they use to be since modern microcomputer software has reduced remarkably the time taken for the development cycle with the stages overlapping.
Usually I work very closely with my clients to determine the key elements of the application and the data within it. When this is established I build a prototype system based on the information I have gathered. This done it gives the client the opportunity at a very early stage in the development to see how it will look and feel in operation. He/she can make changes to the prototype, both in content, data, and look until satisfied. With this done and agreed, I build the system from the centre outwards maintaining close contact with the client as each phase of the application develops and is added to the original prototype, until the system is complete.
In this way, the client is fully involved throughout the development, it his his/her system, not mine. There are no surprises for the client when the final system is ready for implementation. The system reflects the needs of the "real world" as the client sees it so doesn't need to change working practices to accommodate it. Lastly, the system will be consistent throughout and be as intuitive as possible in use.
Back Homepage Hardware/Software/Operating System Upgrade & Support
1. Hardware - I can undertake just about any job relating to the PC ranging from detailed advice about products, upgrading/adding individual components to existing equipment, through to building a new PC from the bottom up.
2. Software - I can offer advice about the mainstream products from all the major manufacturers, upgrade existing software to the latest release, and be available either on-site or by telephone to resolve the kind of problems/queries that all software throws up from time to time, especially with inexperienced users.
3. Operating Systems - I have a detailed understanding of Windows 3.1 and Windows 95/98. It is my experience that many of the most complex, and apparently difficult to resolve problems that arise with PC's have the OS as their root cause. On many occasions I have been able, with a minor adjustment to the OS, to clear up a long standing or apparently irresovleable problem. For instance I know of one commonly recurring problem where the computer will not boot at all, when most people will resort to reinstalling the the OS and all the required application software to overcome it. All that is required is to change a single parameter in the Registry and the PC becomes perfectly sociable again. So if you have specific problems, or just require to upgrade to the latest release then I can help you.
So, whatever help you might need with your PC(s), whether its advice, maintenance, problem solving, or just hand-holding, I can offer a prompt, friendly, and personal approach.
Back Homepage Research & Development
RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
R & D can mean many different things to different people. In the context in which I work perhaps two examples best illustrate the service I can provide:
1. A large client organisation of mine was interested in making use of videoconferencing(VC). The client had a very wide selection of PC's many very old, some the latest technology; Some networked, some stand-alone. The requirement was to research the VC market at that time including specialist suites, rented services, dial-up, ISDN, and internet products and so on to establish which were viable. VC across the internet at that time was more like watching a slide-show than video and clearly was not usable. The second stage was to make a comparative study of the hardware & software products available and make a performance/feature/cost comparison of them. The third stage was to investigate how VC might be adopted into the existing PC/network infrastructure of the client, and deciding what was the minimum configuration required to support each of the various types of VC. The whole thing culminated in a report and demonstrations to enable the client to make an informed choice about adopting the technology.
2. A much smaller organisation with about eight district offices had allowed each district to go its own way in selecting its PC equipment, software, and network technologies. The time came when it was required to network the whole organisation, and of course there were serious incompatibilities between the various parts of the organisation. My job was to find out exactly the situation in each district, and at HQ so that the client could establish extactly what equipment/software/networking would be usable, and what re-training and overall investment would be required to bring the whole organisation together into a single standardised, networked structure.
Back Homepage Internet Support & Development
INTERNET SUPPORT AND DEVELOPMENT
There are two areas where I can help with the internet. The first is in helping you to make use of the internet, perhaps for the first time. This could involve general advice about searching and E-Mail, perhaps installing the necessary modem and Browser/E-mail software, and helping you get to know how to make use of it. Maybe if you're having some specific problems to help resolve them.
Secondly, it you need to have a presence on the net I can help you set up your web site. This can take the form of:
1. Just showing you how it is done, and leaving the rest to you.
2. Building a "bare bones" system to your requirments, but leave you to flesh it out.
3. Building the complete web site for you, in accordance with your requirements of course.
ORCHARD COMPUTER SERVICES
Since becoming self-employed in 1993 I have undertaken projects for a wide variety of businesses and organisations. Below is a list of organisation by type, together with an indication of the type(s) of work undertaken. References attesting to the quality of my work would be available from the appropriate organisations if required.
- Local Government -- Feasibility Study, Application Development, & Research & Development
- National Park Authority -- Application Development
- Electrical Contractors -- Application Development, & Hardware/Software Support
- Mail Order Retailer -- Application Development, Hardware/Software/OS Support, & Internet Support
- Business Link -- Application Development
- Enterprise Council -- Research for Feasibility Study
- Association for the Blind -- Application Development, & OS Support
- Employment Agency -- Application Development
- Building Trade Manufacturer -- Application Development
- Hospice Movement -- Application Development
- Seaman's Mission -- Software Support
- Many Private Individuals -- Hardware/Software/OS Support
ORCHARD COMPUTER SERVICES
How I like to work
Being located in Somerset in the South West of England obviously puts certain constraints on where I am able to undertake work. I am principally a home-worker although it is impossible to work in a vacuum and site visits for information gathering, progress reporting, demonstrations etc are inevitable, but I am not interested in the type of jobs that will take me away from home for weeks or months. Also I am a one man organisation and already have committments to other clients
I have a fully equipped office at home which enables me to work at times which suit me, often late into the evening or at weekends. Modern communications make it very easy to stay in touch, pass information, receive instruction, monitor progress and so on. It is an ideal teleworking situation and there are many advantages from the clients point of view. I require no facilities at their place of work, and the client incurs no overheads for me. Also he/she has no obligation to me other than to pay my agreed fees for the job I am engaged to do.
Although I receive most of my income from organisations who ask me to development business applications, I am quite happy to carry out very short support jobs for anybody, private individuals included. To this end my fees are very flexible. My rates vary depending on the type and likely duration of the work and I am quite happy to quote for an hourly or daily rate, or for a fixed price if the boundaries for the job can be established.
Also, being a sole trader means that it is always me you will be dealing with. I shall be doing the work, and I am responsible if things don't go to your satisfaction. There will be no passing of the buck!