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.
Besides computer issues I also work with clients on their Social Media accounts like LinkedIn and Facebook. I was working on a computer/printer problem for a regular client last month and they also had a Facebook aggravation.
Somehow, they had created two Facebook accounts over the past year and only one of them was accessible. Luckily, it was the most current with the most friends compared with the other one. The second one had no profile picture and and only a fraction of the friends of the first one. They asked me to get rid of the extra one without hurting the desired one. Every Facebook account is tied to an email address and password; without them, it will be hard to access the account.
I started asking my client what they knew about the second account so I could attempt to deactivate it. They told me they didn’t know how it got created or when they did it. Their name was unique enough that it couldn’t be someone else with the same name And the friends of the second account were known to my client. My client told me all his email account names including ones he doens’t use any longer. They also told me possible passwords throughout their computer liftime. I started trying the email accounts with the passwords and found the correct credentials. I went into account settings and deactivated the account.
I got a new Android smartphone this week that replaced one I had for over five years. I was excited about having the latest smartphone, yet I wasn’t looking forward to the setup process. I have about 20 email accounts and ten social media accounts. Some applications ported over with the USB cable that was provided, but others didn’t.
One initial problem I experienced was setting up my Google account on the new smartphone. I have been using Googles contacts, and calendar for many years and it worked well on my computers, and smartphones. On the new smartphone I would enter my email address and password in the Google Gmail account and receive an unknown error message. I tried over and over and still got an error message with no explanation. I called technical support for my phone and they helped cut my old phone service to my new one. They couldn’t help me with the Google problem. I went to bed and tackled the problem early next morning and still had problems. Later that morning I found an email from last night which stated a new device just signed in to my Google account and it needed to be authorized! Once I ok’d this alert, my new smartphone let me log in to Google and my calendar and contacts all appeared and synced with my other devices! Days later , it’s still working and syncing. This is a good example how security can be a headache, but this could have been a hacker accessing my valuable data.
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 vote for a company, go to the web site, and fill in your information. Then you can vote for as many companies as you please in the 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 or few categories as you desire. Let me know if your company is on the ballot and we’ll get the word out to people. Maybe I’ll vote for you!
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.