The Fort Wayne Newspapers Readers’ Choice awards voting takes place until August 7. 2018. Several companies are on the list including mine, Shane Grantham Consulting. To nominate a company, go to the web site, and fill in your information. There are five categories you can expand to see the subcategories. The picture below shows my company location. It’s under Shopping -Electronics Store/Computer Repair Store. Click on the scroll box and look for my company and then save it. You can vote for as many companies as you’d like. Let me know if your company is on the ballot and we’ll get the word out to people.
Keeping paper records is not my idea of efficiency and any time I can, they are scanned and saved. Then after a period of time, I discard the paper. Sometimes it’s immediately and sometimes it’s years later. Many image scanners have been used over the years including flat-beds, and sheet-fed ones. But I have grown quite fond of one scanner in particular and it’s the subject of this article.
I have a portable USB optical scanner I bought around 2005-2007 that I have used for years. It’s pretty compact and fits easily in my laptop case. it’s scanned probably thousands of pages and It worked in Microsoft Windows XP and 7 but I never got it to work in Windows 10. It uses the Paperport software and handles greyscale, color and black/white images. Several formats are available for saving and I use PDF(portable document format). Last week I tried again on my Lenovo thinkpad laptop. It failed to install the Paperport software the times I tried but I didn’t give up. I knew Windows 10 had some installation options for older software. Instead of normal mode, I ran the installation in Windows 7 compatibility mode and it worked! To access the compatibility mode, right-click on the installation file and in the menu, start “troubleshooter compatibility.” Follow the prompts and questions and it may resurrect your old Windows software in windows 10.
Last month I encountered the most infected Windows computer I have ever experienced. When I started the project I had no idea how much work I was going to put in on it. Early on in the project, I found it had anti-malware software that had expired and didn’t work correctly. I had to manually remove the program and then download and install it. Now I could focus on disinfection of the laptop.
Several tools were used for disinfection and the first were Anti-malware Linux boot CDs. The advantage of these tools are that the laptop’s operating system, Microsoft Windows 10, is dormant during the process and the malware can’t do any harm. Many infections were discovered and eradicated. Next, I let Windows 10 start and the resident anti-malware program found many infections running in memory. These were removed and a full scan found infections as well.
Next, Anti-malware scanners were installed and used to scan and remove more malware. I searched Control Panel in Windows 10 and removed many unwanted program the user accidentally downloaded. The last thing was using the resident anti-malware program to do a deep scan for malware including rootkits and it actually found one and removed it.
I’m glad to be done with this challenge and hope I don’t see one this severe for a while.
I’ve been using Microsoft Windows 10 since it was available and for the most part, I like the features and ease of use. One thing which is annoying is the continued forced downloads and installation of updates. It’s scary when the computer tells you have to restart to finish the updates and you’re in the middle of something you can’t halt. A few years ago I was working in QuickBooks on my Windows 10 laptop and Windows 10 rebooted to install updates. Quickbooks had my data file open and this corrupted my QB file. A whole day or two was spent getting Quickbooks back to normal.
Ever since then, I cringe when I see a Windows 10 update notice. From what I’ve read, there’s no way to disable Windows 10 updates from the control Panel. But if you disable the Windows update service, it does stop the updates and their downloads.
Other operating systems such as Linux don’t do this and let you decide when to install updates. If you are tired of Microsoft’s tyrannical update policy, start using Linux and update when you want to. In all the years of Linux use, I never had it force me to reboot or reboot on its own with an update. The updates are available on the taskbar by clicking on the Update Manager Shield.
This week I had a scare with one of my main tools for my computer repair business. It’s used to communicate with my clients via social media, phone calls, email messages and text messages. Sometimes it’s helpful with researching on the internet and testing WiFi networks. And just the other day it was used to read a PDF of an old invoice which detailed how I solved a problem for a client before I made a service call which reoccurred.
The scare happened when I went to make a phone call to a client and the smartphone displayed, “Emergency calls only”. In the message bar at the top was a new icon and it displayed “NO SIM CARD”. The SIM(Subscriber Identity Module) card is necessary to connect your smartphone to your carrier’s cell towers. Without it the phone can’t make phone calls or text messages.
My smartphone is over five years old and has problems with certain apps although phone calls work great. My first hunch was something internally was confused and I restarted it, but still “no SIM card” message appeared. the other possibility may be that the SIM got fried or the phone circuitry is defective. Next, the phone was powered down while I did some martial arts for an hour. After it was powered back up, I was sad to see the same message which meant no phone calls or texting was available. Maybe the SIM card needed re-seated in its slot. I took the phone apart to see the SIM card and its slot. To my surprise, the card was not in its slot, but sitting an inch above it! It wasn’t making any connection to the phone at all. I pressed the SIM back into the slot and powered the smartphone back on. No more SIM messages and I proceeded to make a phone call. I don’t know how the SIM card worked its way out of the connector slot, but I’m glad I found the issue and it’s been fine ever since.
I got a text message from one of my business clients this month who had major problems with their Windows 7 computer. They had recently downloaded an application off the internet to help them with a smartphone problem and I assumed this was the issue. The laptop couldn’t connect to their internet router and the laptop was much slower than in the past. First I looked at their security program and found some problems with it. After a lot of hassle, I got this rectified and it started working as I wanted. Not much malware was found so I continued to look for other things which may be slowing things down. A registry cleaning program was installed and run. It found an amazing number of registry errors that it repaired and garbage files that it removed. Once these were corrected, the computer was fast again.
After briefly researching the smartphone application, it appeared harmless and used by many people. I was very close to removing it when I started this service call but I left it installed. I checked back two days later with my client and they said their Windows 7 computer was running great. This shows that malware isn’t the cause of every slow computer and other things can be the cause.
Someone asked me to work on their Windows 10 laptop this week and I was in for something I’ve never witnessed in my computer repair career. They had two passwords they forgot and now they can’t use the laptop. The first password was the BIOS user password which appears immediately after the laptop was turned on with a simple “Enter Password” on the screen. This happens before Microsoft Windows starts. A BIOS password prevents unauthorized people from changing settings like the boot device order so they could boot to a USB device and steal your files before the hard drive starts Windows or Linux. I tried some obvious passwords without success. Next, I looked through my client notes and found three passwords they used in the past. One of them actually worked and allowed Windows 10 to start and now I had a Windows login screen.
Unfortunately, now I had to login to Windows and none of the three passwords worked. To get past this login hurdle, I booted with one of my password utilities. Their password was cleared and now when Windows starts, no password is required. I also cleared the BIOS user password so they don’t have to enter it every time the computer is turned on.
The Fort Wayne Newspapers Readers’ Choice nominations take place until May 22. 2018 and several companies are on the list including mine, Shane Grantham Consulting. To nominate a company, go to the web site, and fill in your information. There are five categories you can expand to see the subcategories. The above picture shows my company location. It’s under Shopping -Electronics Store/Computer Repair Store. click on the scroll box and look for my company and then save it. You can vote for as many companies as you’d like. Let me know if your company needs nominated and we’ll get the word out to people.
Sometimes, operating system updates can bring a computer to a halt. Normally, they work fine and do what they are intended to do which is fix a known problem. They also can patch a security issue and protect the computer from malicious software like viruses and spyware. The recent Spectre/Meltdown issue forced operating system and hardware makers to release patches for all kinds computers and devices. Some of the patches caused other problems such as rebooting and freezing computers.
One of my business clients called last month when their Windows 7 desktop computer(which runs the company) was rebooting continuously every 5 minutes. Upon arrival I started the computer and it restarted on me as well. I tried Safe Mode and it didn’t restart and now I could focus on the problem. System Restore was disabled so I couldn’t access this Windows feature. After reviewing the Installed Windows updates, I found two which came in a few days ago and this is when the issue arose. They were removed one at a time and once the problematic one was found, it was removed and the computer was back to normal. I did some other housekeeping afterwards and everything is great on the computer now.
Of all the cloud storage platforms out there, I use Dropbox the most. It’s easy to use and reliable. Secondarily, I use Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive as well. All these cloud storage platforms have free versions which offer 10-15GB to you. And of course all offer paid versions which give you oodles of storage. With cloud storage, you are using someone’s computer on the internet to hold your computer files. I would be cautious and not save super-sensitive files in the cloud and always make a local duplicate of everything you have in the cloud just in case they lose it.
Dropbox is installed on many of my computing devices such as an Apple laptop, Linux workstations, Windows 10 laptop, and Android smartphones. I’ve used it for many years and it even works on a Windows 7 virtual machine on a Linux laptop. You can also access your files from the web in case you don’t want to install it on a device.
One time, I was trying to get a file from my Windows 10 laptop to a Linux computer. I saved the file to my Windows 10 dropbox folder and expected to find it on the Linux computer, but it never appeared. After a while I realized Dropbox wasn’t actually running actively on the Windows 10 laptop. Once I stated it, the files synced to the cloud and the file showed up on the Linux workstation.
What cloud storage do you use? Or are you unsure how to use it? Or perhaps you’re afraid of your privacy with your files in the cloud. If you need help, just ask.
I get phone calls and social media messages at all different times of the day for computer repair from current and new clients. I try and answer them if I’m not with a client or involved in a project, but sometimes I have to let them go to voice-mail. I try and return the call as soon as I can with a text message or phone call. People like to know I got their message even if I can’t get to them immediately. The same applies to Facebook and LinkedIn messaging. One Friday I got a FB message from a networker for computer assistance and was messaging her within a few minutes setting up a possible time to meet. Other times I message them back that I’ll get to them as soon as possible and they like that at least I responded.
Another reason is the task they have for me now may not sound worthwhile, but the next one they have may be huge. So I respond to every call and treat them all as important. Even if they just want to talk to a computer pro and it doesn’t turn into a service call, I call them back. My clients like that and appreciate my responsiveness.
I hear from people that they will call a contractor or visit a business to get a quote and sometimes never hear from them. I don’t want to be one of those businesses. If I can’t help them, I tell them and if possible refer them to someone who can.
Every Tuesday at noon you can find me at Rack and Helen’s Bar and Grill facilitating the New Haven Chamber of Commerce Networking Group. This week we had about 14 people and we had about the same number last week. We are an open group which means we don’t restrict attendance based on business categories. As an example, you may see two CPAs at a meeting or two financial people one week. then the next week one CPA and no financial people.
Attendance is another area we don’t restrict. We don’t require you to be there every week, but I have better results the more often I attend. This has made some interesting meeting make-up where some people have been attending for a long time, yet they haven’t bumped into the other people because they haven’t been at the same meetings.
You don’t have to be a chamber member or eat lunch so as you can see, it’s very easy to attend our group. Join us next Tuesday for some great business networking from Noon to 1PM.
A new computer repair client contacted me last month regarding a laptop that had display problems. They could tell the laptop had electrical power but, the screen was blank. When I got a hold of the laptop, It seemed ok in the video area. But as time went on, the video got worse. During troubleshooting I discovered the laptop had built-in diagnostics. I ran them and it found the video (LCD) cable was faulty and this explains the display problems. It got to the point where no video signal was present on the laptop.
I discovered my client had never archived or backed up the user data on the laptop and it had plenty on it they needed back. Pictures, spreadsheets, word processor documents were among their data they couldn’t access now. The other hardware problem was the ribbon cable for the power button came unsoldered while I was working on this old laptop.
Now, there was no way to power on this is a high-end gaming laptop which came with two hard drives. I assumed it was configured in a RAID 1 which is a mirrored array where each drive is a duplicate of the other. I removed one of the hard drives from the laptop and intended to be able to read it on one of my drive cages in my Linux computer. I was startled to discover the data couldn’t be read – although the drive was recognized as being a RAID member. The reason was the user had configured the drives in a RAID 0 arrangement which was meant for speed and not redundancy. Both drives are needed to read the data in a set. Later I researched my problem and the answer may be as simple as connecting both drives at once to my Linux computer. Once this was done, the two drives appeared as individual RAID members and magically a third drive appeared! It was the Windows 7 hard drive and my client’s data was there! I quickly copied the user data to my computer so I could then copy to their external drive when it arrived. Needless to say, they were glad I recovered their data and I was happy to learn another reason Linux is so much better than Microsoft Windows.
Last month one of my business clients contacted me about a Windows 7 Desktop computer that is used to check in their clients and accept payments in their lobby. “Our computer just shut down.” They texted me a picture of the Windows screen after it abruptly shut down one morning. The message stated the computer wouldn’t come out of hibernation and there was a problem with the c:\hibernation file. Oddly, the computer isn’t supposed to hibernate or go to sleep because it is heavily used and needs to be in a constant ready state. They couldn’t click anywhere on the screen to get it back to Windows 7.
Over the phone I had them force the computer to shut down by holding the front panel power button in until it shut down. Then the computer was started and it came up to the Windows 7 desktop. We discussed the problem and I had my client check the Control Panel – Power settings. We found the computer was set to hibernate after a certain amount of time. I don’t recall how much time it was set for but you can set for 1 minute up to hours for the monitor and /or computer. It shouldn’t have been. They set it back to not go to sleep at all. It’s been a week or so and I haven’t heard anything back from them so I think it must be ok.
I had another thought on what might have occurred. The computer case is on the floor and the employee who was sitting in front of the computer may have accidentally hit the power button momentarily. Sometimes, computers are set to hibernate when the power button is briefly touched.
Today I was at the Peking Restaurant around lunchtime picking up my Happy Family carry out. I walked by the Anytime Fitness as I have many times and a man walked out. I found out later he was an owner and I asked if I could see the gym. He said come on in and check it out.
I like to tour fitness facilities because I write a fitness blog on my other web site, shanegrantham.com. As I went through the guest entrance, a woman asks, “You’re the computer guy from the networking groups, right? Shawn? ” I said, ” Yes, Shane and I remember you, too.” Rachele and I both used to attend Georgetown Networking on Tuesday mornings at Georgetown Bowl around 2009-2011. Vic Sockrider used to run it at his bowling alley. Rachele is the other owner of Anytime Fitness. We haven’t seen each other in seven years or so and I wondered how she remembered me. I thought it was Facebook but I found out we weren’t Facebook friends. Then I realized we were connected on LinkedIn and my regular posting might have kept me in front of her. Or maybe she just remembered me from the networking meetings.
Either way, it’s good to be remembered by a networker I haven’t seen in a while and it’s even better they remembered I repair computers.