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.
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.