I helped a client of mine recently prepare for the end of support and updates for Microsoft Windows 7. They have been using Microsoft Windows 7 for many years and wanted to be ready when the updates cease next year. At first I proposed upgrading to Windows 10 which is what Microsoft is telling everyone.
After thinking about what my client does on their computer, I realized that another option is available. This option is cheaper, more stable and secure than a Microsoft option.
This option is another operating system called Linux. It can do everything that my client currently does in Windows 7. Linux Mint 19 was tested first on the computer to ensure the sound, video and network all work on the computer. Next it was installed on their Windows 7 all-in-one PC. The neat thing is you can install it in a dual-boot configuration so windows 7 can still be accessed if needed. Now my client can run Windows 7 or Linux when they start their computer.
Remember that Microsoft Windows 10 isn’t the only option for Windows 7 – you have a better option with Linux.
I have a laptop for my kitchen that plays internet web sites when I’m preparing food or eating(which can be often when I’m home.). It’s easily eleven years-old and came shipped from Acer with Windows Vista. I like it because it has a wheel volume control on the front of the laptop which makes it easy to adjust the sound level. When I first acquired the laptop, I installed the operating system Linux on it. Linux is safer, faster and reliable than Microsoft Windows operating systems and it can bring old computers back to life.
I knew because of it’s age, it’s may die any time or some part of it would break. One day I turned it on and Linux failed to start and I was greeted with a blinking command prompt instead of the Linux graphical desktop. A hard drive diagnostic CD was ran after the computer restarted, but it froze every time I ran it. I tried a different diagnostic boot CD and it ran but said there is no hard drive installed. Maybe the hard drive is physically defective and that’s why Linux can’t run. I removed the hard drive and put it back in the laptop in case it was a bad connection.
I restarted it and chose the recovery mode and let Linux attempt to repair the file system. This failed and it told me to manually run fsck which is the file system check program because it couldn’t do it automatically. I ran fsck at the command prompt and it began repairing my Linux operating system. It found orphaned files and other problems which it fixed. After it restarted, Linux still failed to start and now I suspect a defective hard drive.
Today I was posting some items for sale on FaceBook Marketplace. Pictures were taken with one of my old smartphones and they needed moved to FB. My goal was to connect the smartphone’s USB port to the computer. The USB connector was on the rear of the computer and it couldn’t be seen from my location. I fumbled around trying to plug in the connector and suddenly the computer shut down. It looked like I might have shorted the 5 volt line to ground and fried the computer! Or I static shocked the computer.
Sometimes, removing electrical power to an electronic device will clear any weird state it’s in so I was going to unplug the power cord and leave it set a while. I tried turning on the computer with the power button and it was a no go – no lights or noises. Next, I went for the power cord at the rear to unplug it and it fell out of the power supply connector! Hallelujah it was only a loose cord and not a blown motherboard!
My computer comes on now and I went on with downloading my pictures.
Every summer I switch out my long-sleeve company logo shirts for short-sleeves in my closet. As I’m going through them and arranging every year, I come across three black short-sleeve ones and I say the same thing, “Why do I have three of them?” One would be enough. Black is not a good color for the summer because it holds the heat. It is great for the cooler seasons. I wish I could change them to long-sleeve and have them for the cooler seasons. Or change one to green and one to white. I have no clue how I got three black ones and if I remember, I will let you know.
One of my business networking friends contacted me this week about their Dell laptop which wouldn’t power on. I picked it up at their business and brought it back to my workbench along with one AC Adapter. They said they have two AC adapters and neither powers it on. Just to verify this, I measured the AC adapter’s voltage and it’s correct -19.5VDC. I Tried powering on the laptop with the power button and nothing happens when it’s pressed. The problem is somewhere inside the laptop so the underside-cover has to be removed to gain access. Once this was done, I started troubleshooting.
The battery was disconnected and AC Adapter and I let the laptop sit for a while to discharge any weird data state it was in. The laptop power button was tried again and still wouldn’t power on. Earlier I noticed the WiFi card was loose and one of the wires had come off the board and the connector studs broke off. Also, the mounting screw was missing and I never did see it in the laptop.
Maybe the memory was defective or needed re-seated in the RAM holder. The RAM stick was removed and reinstalled and now the laptop powers on!
The next day I went to test the laptop after it sat idle overnight and to my amazement it wouldn’t power on! I was mad that I had to start over, but it had to be done. I wasn’t sure if a bad solder joint existed or a defective connector or the motherboard was dying a slow death. I went through all the troubleshooting steps again. But this time I disconnected a motherboard inter-connector cable and while moving the laptop around a metal mounting bracket fell off! It did not belong where it fell off and I realized it was the wireless adapter mounting bracket! Being metal, when it rested on the motherboard circuits it shorted them and disabled it. Later, after I disconnected the battery and AC adapter, the laptop came on! We were lucky it didn’t damage anything. I tested shutting down and restarting the laptop and it worked great every time.
In the center of the picture is the aluminum bracket with a black screw. Once it was removed, the laptop worked normally.
Yesterday, my wife let me know my company was nominated for the 2019 Fort Wayne Newspapers Readers’ Choice under the Best Computer Repair Store category. Click here for the link. I’m not a store, but this is the best category for me of the ones available. Likewise, let me know if your company is nominated so I can promote you and maybe vote for you. I also suggest you let your clients and customers know you are nominated so they can vote for you.
It’s interesting to see how different computer manufacturers design their hardware. Yesterday I was working on a Toshiba satellite laptop and was looking for the Windows key on the keyboard. Usually it’s on the bottom row near the Ctrl(Control) and Alt buttons. I didn’t see it in the typical location and finally found it on the top row near the Function keys. In all my years of computing, this is the first or second time I’ve found it here!
The Windows key has the Microsoft Logo on it and the key is used to access the windows menu. This saves time because the user doesn’t need to use the mouse to open the Windows menu by clicking on the start button. – they just use the keyboard since their hands are already resting on it.
A computer client of mine couldn’t find a folder on their new Dell Windows 10 computer last week. Earlier in the month I copied the files from their old computer to the new one and put them in a folder on the desktop. They were manually searching through the folder and never found it. I connected remotely through the internet and found it in a few minutes. My client was surprised I found it this quickly and wanted to know how. In every modern operating system like Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac there is a search feature in the file explorer window or files folder(Linux). It’s usually in the upper-right corner with a magnifying glass icon. Type the name of the file or folder in the search field and the computer searches the location and any subfolders for your file.
One of my computer repair clients is a surveying company who surveys properties all over our area. Before they go out into the field, they do research on the property so there are fewer surprises when they arrive. One of the things they do is print plots of the properties on their two laserjet printers. It gives them a guideline so they know what to expect when they are searching for the property markers.
Shortly after I set up a new computer for them this year, I was contacted about an issue. They were trying to download and print a survey plot from the County web site. It was taking much longer than it should and my client didn’t know why. They were using Internet Explorer and I connected remotely and tried it in another web browser. This too was slow so I started looking for the reason. I ran the built-in Windows 10 diagnostics and found the resources were being used mostly for downloading Windows updates in the background. This was a new computer so many Windows updates were being downloaded. Once the download was finished, the plot downloads and printing were very fast again.
I like the way Linux downloads are handled because you have to start them manually unlike the Microsoft Windows way of doing it when it wants to. It is possible to set the windows update to manual instead of automatic if it is interfering with your work.
I was talking to a Fort Wayne computer repair client of mine last week about their Windows 7 laptop which was about eight years old. A few months previous I worked on it to make it faster. Typical software and operating system tasks were done and my client said it was faster when I was through.
Later, he talked to a friend who was a computer person and they discussed the laptop. His friend said he could install a SSD (Solid State Drive) in place of the hard disk drive and it would be even faster. The reason I didn’t do it was it was an older laptop and I don’t suggest spending money on hardware for an eight-year old laptop. Some hardware could fail on it right after I worked on it and my client would have wasted their money. Another reason is my client doesn’t use this laptop often and if they needed a faster laptop, a new one would be a better choice than putting money into the old one.
I have an old Lenovo Thinkpad that is one of my main laptops. It came with only 2 GBs of RAM and last night I increased that to 6GB. I set this laptop to dual boot to either Microsoft Windows 10 or Linux Mint 18.x. I opened Window 10 and only 3GB of the 6.0 is used although it knows 6 is installed. Linux on the other hand, uses all the 6 GB. I am perplexed why this is happening.
We all get spam email and it wastes a lot of time for me and probably you as well. One rule I have for myself is not to open the messages on my smartphone. I use a Linux computer so it doesn’t mess up my main communication tool if the message has a payload or it re-directs me to a dangerous web site. You might consider having one computer in your business for opening suspicious emails and web links just for this reason – you don’t want to infect your main computer or a smartphone.
Last last year, a client called and said Microsoft Outlook Express was prompting for their user name and password. Normally, it automatically starts and no credentials are entered. They use this program for their business email. Everything they do is tied to their email. When it has a problem, their business stops.
Part of the problem is their computer still ran Windows Vista which has been retired from Microsoft updates. My client has since got a new Windows 10 computer which I set up for them and their email has worked fine for six months.
But for this blog I will explain part of my troubleshooting methodology on their old vista computer and Outlook Express. My client entered their username and password and clicked ok but it wouldn’t go away. I connected remotely and tried the same thing and got the same result. I restarted Outlook express and it was ok this time! Their email worked for two days and then I got a call with the same problem. They couldn’t access their email with Outlook Express. I connected to his PC via Teamviewer. On the screen was a :windows security” box “Login to mail.comcast.net”. I tried their username and pw which failed. I played around with different settings in the email client and failed. I tried logging into his account via my Linux computer Linux via Firefox and it worked. I know it isn’t his login credentials. So went back to his computer. I went into windows mail settings Tools-Accounts- and changed some settings with no success. I got it to work by closing and opening Outlook Express.
Two days later my client calls with the same problem – the same windows mail login box was there. I cleared it and shut down Win mail and restarted and this time it Did not help. My client said he was on phone with his email/internet provider for over an hour without any help. I restarted his computer and no help. I tried entering his credentials and no help. Now will try logging in from internet web browser to see if his password has changed. I changed the password on the internet provider’s web site to what it used to be I clicked on forgot pw. The error hes getting is “-ERR[AUTH] Plaintext authentication disallowed on non-secure (SSL/TLS) connection Port 110. Secure SSL. ” maybe I need to change port incom I opened the Tools-Accounts- Advanced- i clicked this server requires secure con SSL. I got his email messages to pour in to inbox by checking the boxes “This server requires a sec con SSL” on both incoming and outgoing. This action changed the Out port to 25 and in port to 995. I noticed he has 7200 messages in his inbox, 1835 in Sent, 5783 in deleted. i don’t know if this is the problem. i do know the more messages in your email account, the more likely problems will arise. So we deleted many of the unneeded messages and my client continued using their email.
As I mentioned earlier, my client has a new Windows 10 computer and his email hasn’t had any problems so far. As you can see, having an out-dated operating system and lots of messages in your email client can cause intermittent problems for yourself.
One day I was talking to a friend named Jim at Spiece Fitness and he mentioned someone was looking for me. I started rattling off names of people I knew at Spiece and when I got to the right name, he said that’s them! They were one of my computer clients and needed my help. I texted them to find out what was up and they needed a computer service call to their business to help set up some new equipment and troubleshoot some computers.
As you can see, It’s advantageous to be friendly with people at the gym and not wear headphones when you have a business.
Yesterday, my sister showed me a free media service which uses your public library. She’s a librarian in Johnson County, Indiana which is close to Indianapolis. The name of the service is Hoopla and it allows you to borrow books, digital music and other media over internet-connected devices. I created an account with my Allen County Public library card number on Hoopla’s web site: hoopladigital.com. You’ll need a library card so you can enter the number to gain access, but be aware not every library is a member of Hoopla.
So far I’ve logged-in to my Hoopla account on my smartphone and a Windows 10 computer with my email address and password. I can log in from any of my Microsoft Windows, Apple or Linux computers through a web browser. It also offers an android app in the play store which I’ve installed. In the first day I borrowed a Bruce Lee movie and a Microsoft Windows book. Hoopla remembered where I left off on the movie from being viewed on my phone. When I opened my account on a computer, the movie began playing where I stopped it on my phone. Hoopla allows a library patron to borrow 9 books a month which sound kind of low to me.
Give Hoopla a try and let me know how you like it or if you’ve been using it a while.