Tips & Tricks

Virtual TimeClock Tips & Tricks - November 2010

The word ‘networking’ can have multiple meanings in today’s business environment. On the one hand, it can mean connecting with other people to exchange information, contacts, ideas, and experiences. Usually, with the intent of furthering one’s career.  The other meaning refers to connecting computers and other hardware devices together to facilitate communications among users in order to share data and resources. Although both types of networking can be intimidating for some people, computer networking seems to scare us enough to want to call in the professionals.

This month’s ‘Tips & Tricks’ newsletter will introduce you to some basic networking so you can better understand how easy it is to use and manage Virtual TimeClock Network Edition.

Networking basics
The first step is to define some common networking terms.

LAN – Local area network. This is simply the network that connects all of your computers and hardware devices at your office. Devices can either be connected to the network via an Ethernet cable (wired) or connected wirelessly.

WAN – Wide area network. This is a network that covers a large geographic area, and is dependent upon carriers like telephone or cable companies. We call this the Internet. It’s what allows you to connect time clocks at different locations.

Client-Server – This is a model of networking where a server program provides a service to one or more clients. The client programs initiate requests for these services over the network. The server responds to the requests or ‘serves’ the clients. With Virtual TimeClock, the time clock server handles all of the database and file management and the time clock clients allow users to send requests (a clock in entry) and receive data back (timecard reports). This is why all time clocks are instantly updated with each new punch time.

Here’s a quick Tip:
Beware of programs that require you to share data files or map network drives. This is not client-server networking!

Networking time clocks
We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for non technical people to use the Virtual TimeClock Network Edition. That’s why we’ve deployed cutting edge networking communication technologies, with most of the technical magic happening behind the scenes. Once the time clock server has been installed, it broadcasts its presence on the LAN. It’s like the limousine driver at the airport holding up a a sign for ‘Mr. Smith’, except in this case he’s looking for time clock clients.

When you launch a time clock client on the same LAN as the time clock server, the client goes looking for our limousine driver. Once they’ve met and shook hands, the client stores the connection settings. We call this zero configuration networking, and it’s the reason you can quickly add new time clock clients without having to call in your IT support. It’s also the reason your time clock client reconnects automatically each time. Remote clients connecting over the WAN can’t see the limousine driver with the sign. That’s why we have to tell them where to go by connecting manually with a specific address.

Here’s a quick Tip:
The steps for using Virtual TimeClock over the Internet are completely outlined on our website.

Networking troubleshooting
Sometimes, the time clock clients can’t find the limousine driver. This can be puzzling, especially if they were working fine before. Here are some things to check before settling on a taxi cab.

  • Make sure the time clock server computer is turned on – this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often the time clock server computer gets shutdown with clients connected, especially if it’s running on a workstation.
  • Make sure the time clock server functions are online – the time clock server computer may be on but critical functions may not be running. Don’t worry, we’ve made it easy to check the status of your time clock server. Launch Virtual TimeClock Server and make sure there are no red Xs on the Status panel. If there are, you may need to reboot the computer or manually restart the background process. This background process is called a ‘daemon’ on a Mac and a ‘service’ on Windows.
  • Check the firewall – something may have changed in the firewall configuration of the time clock server computer. Try opening TCP  port 56777 and UDP port 56778  to see if the issue gets resolved.
  • Check antivirus software – antivirus software  updates are notorious for blocking network communications between computers. You may have to set up the same port exceptions here as well.

These troubleshooting steps assume that all time clock clients have lost their connection. If that’s not the case, it’s important to note which clients can no longer connect. If it’s only one, then that computer has an issue. If it’s only remote clients, then there's likely a problem with your router configuration.

Here’s a quick Tip:
If you still can’t figure out what’s wrong, contact us and we’d be happy to help you continue troubleshooting your employee time clock software.

Until next month,

Jeff Morrow

PS – We have a new mailing address
Please make a note of our new mailing address, especially if you have Redcort Software set up as a vendor in your accounts payable system.

Redcort Software
323 W. Cromwell Avenue #101
Fresno, CA 93711

PPS – Payroll discounts
If you’re thinking of switching payroll providers, now’s the perfect time to make the switch. Don’t forget we’ve partnered with SurePayroll®1 to bring you a $69.99 monthly flat rate for up to 10 employees. More details are available on our website at Payroll Time Clock Software.