Last week a long-time computer client texted me with a problem on their HP laptop. It has Microsoft Windows 7 as its operating system and is connected to their HP inkjet printer via a USB cable. My client was printing reports for work and the first one was perfect. They sent the second one thinking they were home free, but nothing came out of the printer and no errors on the computer. I arrived on-site the next day and began interviewing my client. They did a HP test page from the printer’s front control panel so I knew the printer mechanics were alright. I was going to completely power-down the printer and disconnect the electrical power and my client already did this so I deferred.
I then looked at the Windows printer in Control panel and found the print job in the queue from last night. It wouldn’t let me restart it, or pause it and the status was “Printing”. It really wasn’t, but Windows thought it was. I killed the print job and tried sending a test page and the job went to the queue but nothing materialized on the printer. I removed the printer from the Windows Printer settings and then let Windows search for the HP plug-n-play printer again. The printer was found and installed by Windows. We had the same issues again where some print jobs worked and others didn’t so I had a hunch it might be the Windows driver causing the problem. I went into the printer control panel and played with the driver settings. All the details escape me now, but it was related to searching Windows updates. It never gives the version number of the current driver and I wish it did. After several minutes of searching, the driver update was complete and print jobs printed as expected. A follow up text to my client the next day verified the printer was working and it must have been a driver problem.
This summer I received an email from a guy named Bill. He is a computer professional who has a web site featuring on-line privacy. Bill wanted to share an article he wrote on browser security with me and my blog readers. So far, I like the site so I’m going to share it here as a blog post. Perhaps later I will put a permanent link on my site under Resources for it. Please let Bill know you found his site and how you like it.
You may think all I do is work on computers, but there are other IT things I do. One of them is computer network cabling. I can make ethernet cables, install new connectors on ethernet cable ends, and run cables in simple situations. I learned to do this back in the 1990’s while working as a system engineer at Needhams Business Machines. Being able to work with ethernet cables comes in handy when working with computers and networks.
One of my office computers is a Microsoft Windows 10 desktop which has a touchscreen option. Since Microsoft windows is vulnerable to malicious software, I have Comodo Internet Security installed and this is my security software of choice. Comodo probably isn’t as well known by the public as some of it’s competitors who advertise heavily. I don’t know when I discovered it – maybe eight or nine years ago. I probably read about it in a computer newsletter and have been using it on my computers and smartphones ever since. I also use it on my Clients’ computers when they don’t have security software or dislike their current one.
Comodo has different modules to keep you safe like Antivirus, a Firewall, Auto-Containment, HIPS(Host Intrusion Protection System), VirusScope, and Website filtering. You can pick and choose which ones you want active which is nice. If I wanted to use a different firewall than Comodo, I could by disabling Comodo’s firewall and installing someone else’s. There are numerous settings and adjustments you can make with it, but the default configuration usually is fine. When you first install Comodo, it does its best to discern which programs on your computer are safe and which aren’t. If you have a specialized program, it can be a pain and take some to get it to work with Comodo IS. You have to open up the different modules and allow your trusted program or unblock it.
It also has a bonus feature which I forget about frequently: the Virtual Desktop. This gem allows the user to browse the internet or run a Windows program in an environment which can’t harm or infect your real Windows computer.
With all it’s modules, Comodo IS does a great job protecting your computer. If one of them misses the threat, one of the others will probably pick it up. You just have to respond to the messages. If you don’t, Comodo may isolate one of your programs if it sees it as a threat.
What security software do you use on your Windows computers? Give Comodo a try and see how it goes.
Last week I was updating my Mailchimp contacts with my newest computer clients. These clients are in my Google Contacts which can be accessed from all my devices: smartphones, computers and tablet. A newsletter will be sent out and I hope to have a current client list for distribution.
As I obtain new clients, I load their information into google contacts so their office can be found, vital PC information can be located or I just want to call them. With all my devices, I can add a client from any of them. My new smartphone is always with me so it probably is the most used to add contacts.
I started searching for my latest clients in Google Contacts and they were missing. I knew they were there somewhere. My smartphone was searched and I found them, but I’m not sure what to call their classification. They were not technically Google Contacts but “Phone Contacts”. They were moved into my Google contacts by opening them one at a time from Contacts. Then in the upper right corner I opened the three dots menu( technically called more options). Next, I selected “Move contact from phone” and then selected the Google account. A message appeared that said the contact has been moved to your google contacts. Now they showed up in my Google contacts and they could be seen on all my computers!
In the future, If I create a contact on a smartphone I will immediately move it into my Google Contacts so this doesn’t happen again. There’s probably a way to create a Google contact on a smartphone directly without having to do this extra step – I just don’t know right now.
A friend asked me for help Wednesday on their business desktop computer in their small business. It was connected via a wireless network card to their wireless router for internet connectivity. Intermittently, it would drop its network connection. I asked again on the network connection type (hoping it was Ethernet) and they assured me it was wireless. All the other computers in the network worked well and don’t drop their connections, Ethernet is more reliable and usually faster than wireless because obstacles in a building like walls, metal, and radio devices can interfere. They said the desktop computer was close to the router so obstacles shouldn’t be an issue.
My friend has a laptop and it connects well when it’s used on this network. After thinking about it and having never visited the network I came up with some suggestions. I said it’s either a defective network card or the wireless network card driver needs updated. My friend took this info and went back to their network to try my ideas out. I saw them today and they said after updating the wireless network card driver, it seems to be stable and doesn’t lose network connection. Time will tell if really solved it, but it sounds like it has for now.
A frantic call was received from one of my Fort Wayne Computer repair clients last week. They were in the middle of a project for one of their clients and walked away from the laptop. On their return, Windows 7 displayed a “shutting down Windows” message with the spinning, progress wheel. They feared the project wasn’t saved and didn’t know what happened.
Over the phone I had them check to make sure the laptop was plugged into the power supply and it was plugged into the wall outlet. We wanted to rule out and electrical problem and the laptop was connected. Maybe it was a Windows update? My client couldn’t tell me one way or the other if they saw Windows update running.
Perhaps it was the power save mode. I tried to connect remotely but it was off-line so I couldn’t look at any settings. I wanted to see where the Power saving settings were if it was set to hibernate or shut down after a certain time period. Usually, I turn off power save mode for business computers so important work isn’t lost.
My client needed to get to their project so I made a high-level decision to force a restart. They held down the power button until the laptop turned off. I had them power back on and once Windows started and settled down, their project was recovered. They continued with the project and never had any more issues with the laptop shutting down that day. I checked back the next day and it was still fine.
I never did find out what happened, but I’m glad my client didn’t lose any data. They were glad I was there to walk them through getting their data back.
About a year ago I stopped sending my regular email newsletter to my computer repair clients. It was a pretty short and simple email which would highlight one of my recent blogs. It was sent to my clients just in case they don’t read my blog on my web site or follow me on social media,
I stopped sending it because of the amount of spam I was receiving in my email accounts and I know others get a lot as well. I didn’t want to accidentally be thrown into the same category as a spammer or upset a client.
This issue has been on my mind for a while and I wanted to start it up again. Companies and networkers send me email newsletters every week so why not my company? My email campaign system has always included an unsubscribe feature that automatically removes them if they don’t want another email. My newsletters are short and easy to read so it’s not really a burden on my clients.
After a year, a newsletter was sent out today to my computer client list. It was a very short blog and already got two positive responses on a Sunday. Additionally, these were from people I haven’t heard from in a while.
I’m interested to hear if you send out email newsletters and if you receive them from others. Do you like them or not and how frequently do you like them?
This weekend I was working on my blogs for my two web sites. One of the stories was about an Android application and it needed a picture for the beginning of the story. A screenshot was taken of the app on one of my old smartphones and I thought it was going to be easy to get it into my computer that I was creating it on.
To get the picture off the phone and into my computer I first opened the Gallery app on the phone. The picture was located under the “Camera” category and I clicked on it to bring to the foreground. Then the share button was clicked to see my options for sharing. First I picked email and entered my email address and sent it – but nothing happened. I tried it again still nothing in my inbox.
Next, the USB cable was attempted to transfer the picture and as before nothing responded. I was using a Linux computer and no window automatically opened showing me the smartphone contents. I tried my Microsoft Windows computer and no repsonse. Now I was getting mad! This should be a simple process.
Plan C was to try Dropbox and it was selected from the share option. This stalled without any messages just like my other attempts and I was baffled. I took a deep breath and started to analyze the smartphone for problems. I found the free space on the old smartphone was just 15-20 MB which isn’t much. The smartphone didn’t have enough room for file administration and couldn’t even notify me of the problem. I deleted a few apps and guess what? I was able to save the picture to Dropbox and it showed up on my Linux computer so I could put it into my blog.
I learned a valuable lesson this weekend that smartphones free space can fill up just like a computers.
Smartphones can get malware infections similar to computers. And just like computers, I suggest you install a security program on your smartphones, too. There are several available for the Android platform and the one I use is Comodo Mobile Security. It’s easy to use and has many modules to protect you. You’ll find it in the Play Store under Comodo Mobile Security. The main component to it including an always on antivirus scanner which protects your smartphone from unsafe apps and malware. Real Time Protection is also included which monitors apps and installations as they are used. it’s a nice program and I have used it on two of my smartphones and doesn’t slow them down. If you have another product you use and like, share it with me and I’ll check it out. Otherwise, give Comodo a test-drive on your smartphone.
Last week a long-time computer repair client emailed me when they couldn’t print to their HP wireless printer from a Microsoft Windows 10 laptop. During our communication, I found out a Windows 7 desktop computer couldn’t print either. I arrived on site and opened devices and printers on the Windows 10 laptop. No printers were listed which is a problem. Then I noticed the laptop’s airplane mode was active so no wireless communications would work. I turned it on and allowed the laptop to connect to the wireless router. In devices and printers I found a Brother printer which was no longer present and I deleted it so it didn’t cause problems. I attempted to add the HP printer with “Add new printer- wireless or bluetooth. “The HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 (wireless) wasn’t listed. I tried to discover it many times without any success.
Focus was now on the wireless printer to see why the laptop can’t see it. I noticed the printer’s wireless LED was blinking which means there is a problem. My smartphone and the laptop sees the WiFi router but the HP wireless printer does not!. I even entered the 5G and 2G networks in manually but the printer wouldn’t accept them so I concluded the wireless part of the printer had failed.
The solution was to directly connect the printer to the wireless router with an Ethernet cable so all computers on the network could print to it. And luckily, the printer will always be near the wireless router so the Ethernet cable works. My client was glad to be able to print again and I was reminded that wireless networking can be mysterious and challenging at times as it was today.
One Friday I got a desperate call from someone who couldn’t access their business email account. They said they had to change their password for security reasons yesterday and now they can’t login to the account on the office computer or their iPhone. I arrived on site and started interviewing my client to get more information. It turns out the person who changed the password just left on vacation and can’t be reached. I carefully entered the password many times on the Windows computer and each time it failed. The error message never mentions which is wrong: the username or password but I assumed it was the password. I tried different web browsers and this made no difference. I talked to my client some more and even tried it on my laptop to no avail. I examined my client’s keyboard and realized there wasn’t a cap lock light or num lock light either. There isn’t a convenient way to determine if the all caps was activated or not without a CAP light. The password was supposed to be all lower case and found out it was entered as all upper case. I used the built-in Windows Notepad program to find out if I had the all caps activated. Once I got the all caps activated, I re-entered the password and this time it worked and we could get into the email account. Next, I entered the correct password in all caps on the iPhone and he could get it on his iPhone. This just goes to show you that passwords of all kind are always case-sensitive. And you should always test a new password on all your devices.
I was walking the dog around the neighborhood today and walked past one of my neighbors as they were trimming some vines in their yard. They also happen to be a computer client of mine. We talked about our dogs and other things before he said, “Let me ask you something.” Somehow they lost the web browser icon on their Microsoft Windows desktop and didn’t know how to start the Chrome web browser. He has no idea where the icon went so I asked them a few questions which they couldn’t answer.
I said they might be able to start Chrome from the Start menu if they look under the Programs heading or Chrome. They said they would try it. After thinking about it, my bet is they accidentally deleted the Chrome desktop icon. To get it back all they should have to do is open the recycle bin, find the deleted icon, and then restore it. This isn’t the first time a computer client of my lost something on their windows Desktop and it won’t be the last.
I am available to work on computers every day of the week including Saturdays and Sundays. When I’m awake – my smartphone is on and I will respond to your telephone call, text, Facebook message or email. With the way computing devices are engraved in our business and personal lives, at least one of my clients are using a device any time of the day or night and I want to help when they need it.
On Saturday morning one of my computer repair clients called me from their neighbor’s home. I didn’t answer in person, but listened to their voicemail detailing their telephone problem. A service call was made and I listened to the events again and found out their telephone service has been out since Thursday. My client showed me a new Comcast modem they picked up and needed installed. Their original modem was diagnosed as deceased by Comcast. They thought their telephone service should work even without the Comcast modem installed and I explained that their telephone service is through Comcast so the modem is required.
I connected the modem to the power cable, desktop computer via the Ethernet cable, and telephone jack with a telephone cable. Next we called Comcast technical support to have the new modem activated and tested. We were on the phone about 45 minutes and it went well. After this the telephone worked as well as the computer internet connection. My client thanked me several times for coming out so quickly on a Saturday when most of my competitors don’t make service calls or respond on a Saturday.