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Heatwave leaves thousands of businesses in the UK offline for over 15 hours

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Technical issue has been attributed to unprecedented temperatures affecting cloud and networking equipment at Google's hub in London

As people in the UK battled historic temperatures above 40C in many parts of England, Wales and Scotland, last night, thousands of internet hosting users had another hot issue to worry about: the servers of the Sofia-based web hosting company Siteground went down, taking websites offline and leaving businesses and users unable to access their emails.

Although the company, which was founded in 2004 and currently has over 2,000,000 users, started work to solve the problem on the evening of July 19th, fifteen hours later many companies were still in the dark about when they would be able to trade or contact clients online again.

“We had some planned activities around today’s inflation numbers that we had to pause as emails were down. It was a missed opportunity for them and us,” explains Tom Johnson, founder at ReactivePR, a Peterborough-based digital PR agency with several clients hosted on Siteground.

Besides missed time-sensitive opportunities, Johnson also will have extra work to do when Siteground finally manages to fix the problem.

“We lost quite a bit of work that was uploaded to a staging server yesterday afternoon because Siteground had to restore everything from their backups. Less than ideal. Very frustrating. But at the same time, you have to be reasonable. This was outside of their control. Their comms and customer service, however, are not, and they have been poor,” complains the entrepreneur, who hasn’t received any official information from Siteground and only found out that his websites were offline after being notified by a third-party monitoring app.

Some of those affected by the hosting service disruption in the UK were still looking for answers after being offline for hours.

“We found out yesterday, around 6 pm, after it was reported by customers. No email or alert was provided by Siteground. We made contact via Twitter, as their own portal would not provide any method or tool to communicate with the Siteground support team,” recalls Stuart Hargreaves, COO at London-based cybersecurity company Spambrella, which only had its website fully restored after a 15-hour outage. The business has since opened a ticket with the hosting company to find out more about why the disaster recovery procedure was not initiated at the time of redundancy. “Our site was negatively affected by the outage as we were unable to collect vital information and analytics from website visitors, provide website inquiries to the sales team, or support tickets to the technical team. The loss of business is unquantifiable, but it will be possible to average the inbound lead generation over a similar 15-hour period and find an average on conversions. We can then find a median figure for financial loss,” says Hargreaves.

According to Siteground, the reason so many websites were knocked offline was because data centres used by Google in London buckled under the record-breaking heatwave that hit Britain this week and the replacement of problematic parts not being as fast as expected.

“Instead, as the severity of the incident with our London DC has escalated, sadly, several hours ago we started our disaster recovery procedure. We are now restoring servers from offsite backups in our Amsterdam location and gradually putting them back online in order to mitigate this for our customers,” a Siteground customer service representative acknowledged, mirroring a message already shared on their social media.

Although the company’s technical issue has been attributed to unprecedented temperatures affecting cloud and networking equipment in Google’s South London facility, it isn’t the first time that Siteground, a provider of cloud and email hosting, has suffered major setbacks in recent months. In November 2021, the company had a four-day outage resulting in many customers losing rankings in Google along with a significant amount of website traffic.

“It is almost impossible to quantify sales losses and the negative effect to SEO and Google rankings in the future. Siteground has been exemplary in its delivery to our company over the years, and we support them fully in their recovery. We just hope they find the support they need from Google to provide businesses with compensation as may be required. Spambrella was lightly impacted, but many have been hit hard from this. It is the small businesses that need financial support quickly to recover,” believes Stuart Hargreaves.

Marcio Delgado is a Journalist, Producer and Influencer Marketing Manager working with brands and publications in Europe, America and Asia.

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BT lands £70m IT services deal with South West Police

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Ten-year contract with Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police will see BT manage IT services for the two forces.

BT today announced it has secured a ten-year, £70m IT services deal with Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police. Together, the two police forces handle more than a million emergency and non-emergency calls and respond to more than 118,000 incidents of recorded crime each year. The new long-term agreement will strengthen the forces’ technology estates by creating a future-fit infrastructure to support more joined-up policing, with the potential to extend the contract to neighbouring forces in the South West region.

The managed service contract will underpin a range of the police’s information, technology, and communication demands, including field mobile, airwave vehicle and handheld connectivity for emergency services – alongside security and customer service desk applications.

It will see BT work with both police forces to support public contact and staff collaboration platforms, delivering efficiencies for 101 and 999 services, whilst improving intelligence gathering and data sharing for staff. Frontline officers will benefit from improved connectivity for devices such as mobile phones, body-worn cameras and vehicle radio systems, delivering benefits for local policing by giving officers access to critical real-time information.

BT will also assist the forces in staying compliant with security frameworks, supporting measures to strengthen their security protocols against external threats. Together, these services will support Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police with their digital policing strategy and strengthen crime prevention efforts, whilst also delivering expected financial efficiencies.

More than 5,100 police officers and 3,500 police staff work within the two forces, and they employ more than 550 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and special constables. As part of the contract, BT has agreed to progress social value initiatives for both forces, implementing measures to improving transparency on the environmental impact of police activities in the South West.

“Efficient and resilient technology infrastructure is crucial to support the police in tackling both current and emerging threats – so we’re proud to have the back of South West police forces by delivering exactly that. This new managed service from BT will help future-proof connectivity in all areas of policing, from those on the frontline to behind-the-scenes support staff, helping them to protect the public and keep pace with the changing nature of crime,” says Ashish Gupta, Managing Director, Corporate and Public Sector at BT.

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12 steps to create inclusive presentations for any audience

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Encourage questions from the whole crowd. This fosters engagement from players who are not as confident or remote.

A varied work environment requires presentations that everyone can enjoy and learn from. And In today’s diverse and interconnected world, providing inclusive presentations is more important than ever, as they can ensure that all audience members, regardless of their backgrounds, abilities, or learning styles, can engage with and understand the content.

Besides aligning several levels of expertise and increase audience engagement, as everyone feels respected and able to participate fully, inclusive presentations also enhance productivity, as audience engagement, as everyone feels respected and able to participate fully in any setting.

Here experts at a presentation design agency share essential tips on how to build engaging presentations for all audiences, regardless of background, abilities, or learning styles. These inclusive habits can help you improve your communication skills and create a respectful, inclusive atmosphere.

Understand your audience

To provide an inclusive presentation, first understand your audience. This requires investigating your target audience’s age, culture, career, and any limitations. Understanding these elements enables you to personalize your presentation to meet their individual needs and experiences.

Customizing Content to Meet Different Needs

Tailor your content to your target audience’s demographics. Use inclusive language and avoid technical jargon unless everyone knows it. Consider your target audience’s cultural and educational backgrounds to avoid alienating them via content or delivery.

Knowing your audience enables you to provide a more informed and engaging presentation. This first step establishes the presence of your presenting style.

Making content accessible

Making your information accessible goes beyond words. Speak plainly and simply to individuals with diverse backgrounds and skill levels. Summarize complicated concepts and provide handouts or visual aids to supplement the spoken information. Make your papers screen reader accessible and provide various formats for visually challenged audience members.

Planning your content around these features can make your presentation more inclusive and maximize the event’s advantages for everyone.

Making Slides Accessible

The visual style of presentation slides determines their accessibility and efficacy. Learn how to make presentations that everyone can comprehend.

Visually Accessible Slide Design Tips

To help visually challenged folks, use high contrast text and backdrop colors. Black text on white, or vice versa, is simple to see.

Simple Designs: Avoid layouts that are distracting or confusing. Use white space around text and pictures in a tidy way.

Use big letters for easier reading from a distance. Headings should have a larger font size than body text, which should be 24 points.

Selecting fonts and colors

Color schemes: When choosing slide colors, keep color blindness in mind. Avoid hazardous color pairings like green and red.

Choose readable fonts. Sans-serif types like Arial and Helvetica are ideal for screen readability.

These features allow you to design presentations that are attractive and accessible to everyone in your audience, even those who have visual impairments.

Inclusive Language and Delivery

Using inclusive language and careful delivery makes everyone in the audience feel valued and involved. How to do this in presentations.

Language Matters in Inclusivity

Avoid jargon: Use clear, straightforward language that all audience members may comprehend. Avoid utilizing technical or industry-specific jargon unless it is explicitly explained or clarified in the presentation.

Use Gender-Neutral Language: To neutralize gender-specific phrases, use “they” instead of “he/she” and “team” instead of “guys”.

Cultural awareness: Cultural variations might affect how your message is perceived. Avoid using idioms and words that may lose significance between cultures.

Clear and Respectful Communication Methods

Clear, Moderate Speech: Maintain a moderate speaking tempo so that everyone can grasp the information, particularly those who process auditory information slowly.

Pause to emphasise: After making crucial statements, pause momentarily to ensure that your audience understands them. This increases understanding and accentuates the point.

Restate To help you remember crucial points, repeat them throughout the lecture.

Inclusive language and thoughtful delivery improve the accessibility of your presentation and make attendees feel appreciated.

Using various learning styles

Recognizing and engaging audiences’ learning styles improves presentation inclusiveness and effectiveness. How to Support Multiple Learning Styles:

Engaging Everyone with Your Delivery

Use a range of teaching strategies in your presentation to suit various learning styles. Use imagery, narrative, and interaction.

Polls, question periods, and small group discussions make presentations more appealing to interested students.

Notes and takeaways: Provide attendees with specific handouts for use during and after the presentation. This allows all students to study and review at their own speed.

Accepting these many learning styles can help your presentation be more inclusive, memorable, and powerful for everyone.

Tips for Inclusive Q&A

Facilitating an inclusive Q&A session engages audience members while making them feel heard and appreciated. Here are some tips for making your Q&A sessions more inclusive

Set Clear Guidelines: At the start of the Q&A session, establish clear expectations for question handling. To encourage involvement, ask polite, concise questions.

Ask questions utilizing an audience microphone if one is provided. This elevates their voice and ensures that the whole audience hears the query.

Always repeat the audience’s questions before responding. If some people did not hear the question, this will help them to comprehend it.

Encourage all attendees to participate.

Encourage questions from the whole crowd. This fosters engagement from players who are not as confident or remote.

Provide other questioning methods: Throughout the session, attendees may submit written or digital inquiries. Shy people or those who dread public speaking may benefit from this.

These ideas will improve the effectiveness and inclusivity of your Q&A sessions by enabling everyone to participate.

Use assistive technology

Assistive technology may help make presentations more accessible, enabling everyone to participate. Integrate these technologies effectively.

Feedback Collection and Use

Continuous progress demands feedback, especially for inclusive presentations. Discover how to gather and use feedback to make future presentations more interesting and accessible.

In today’s globalised society, presentations must reach and engage a wide range of audiences. This article’s eight phases, which range from audience knowledge and content production to assistive technology usage and feedback, provide a thorough approach to inclusive presentations. Presenters may utilize these techniques to make their message more accessible, resulting in a welcoming and polite environment. In order to accomplish ongoing progress and flexibility, input must be solicited and absorbed. Take the following measures to enhance your presenting abilities and promote inclusion in your professional community.

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Fred Olsen Cruise Lines awarded for beekeeping tour

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Fred Olsen Cruise Lines awarded for beekeeping tour
Georgina May, PR Executive, Tabi Winney, Destination Experience Assistant, Martin Lister, Head of Itinerary Product Development | Photo: Michael Newington Gray

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines have been awarded ‘Consumer Favourite for Excursions’ at the inaugural Sailawaze Excellence Awards 2024.

The cruise line received the award last night at a gala ceremony held in central London, attended and hosted by Patrick Grant, presenter of hit BBC show, The Great British Sewing Bee.

More than 150 entries were submitted across the award’s eight categories, which were then shortlisted by a panel of cruise line industry experts. The final shortlist was then voted for by consumers.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ rural beekeeping tour in Lithuania was highlighted by the award. This tour allows guests the opportunity to learn more about village life and the cultural significance of bees by visiting a family-run apiary to see how honey is produced, with the chance to sample various honeys and locally produced mead.

“We were incredibly proud to have received this award. It’s testament to all the work that our Destination Experience teams, both ashore and on board our fleet, put in to making each one of our guests’ excursions an incredible and unforgettable experience,” said Martin Lister, Head of Itinerary Product Development at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. “We believe it’s all about the people and we believe that giving our guests the opportunity to connect with credible local people, who aren’t just providing information on a subject, but are passionate about sharing their personal stories and insights into their real lives, is the best way of engaging our guests and the communities that we visit”.

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