I was on-site at a business client recently working on a Microsoft Windows laptop. The owner reported it as being slow on the internet when they were browsing. Their main web browser was Firefox so I started examining it for malicious extensions and plug-ins. I didn’t find too much wrong inside Firefox so I started a malware scan with Comodo Internet Security. During the scan, I was happy to discover it found some malware in the Firefox folder and once it was quarantined, the computer and web browsing was much faster.
I can remember calling technical support in the 1990’s for various computer issues when I was a System Engineer at Needhams Business Machines. The people I talked to were easy to understand because they were in the USA and it was a pleasure speaking with them most of the time.
Nowadays, I’m usually speaking to someone in another country who may be difficult to understand. If it’s a large company, it can be painful being transferred from department to department trying to find the right person to help me. In other instances, they ask for all kinds of information and still can’t help me. A The exception is small, specialized software companies located in the USA. Calling technical support for them is faster to get through and they are easier to understand.
A disturbing trend I’m noticing is computer companies discouraging you to call them. This week I was trying to get help from a OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software company. I needed assistance getting their software to run correctly on a Windows 10 laptop. My client and I searched their website for a telephone number and never found one. All they offered was email support and when I sent them a message, they never responded to my email. My client had to email them and they still haven’t contacted me yet after two days.
As an alternative to phone support, I first try live chats with technical support on their web sites if available. Most of the time this has been beneficial for me for simple questions and sometimes troubleshooting. Some tech support operations offer remote support which can really save you time and grief. This is where they take control of your computer and fix the problem themselves. I use this service for my clients.
As you can see, I avoid calling technical support unless it’s the only way to get help.
One of my services is setting up new computers for businesses. People want me to copy their data and their programs to their new Windows computer. I can do only one of these requests, unfortunately. Copying user data is pretty simple in the usual case.
Copying a program from the old computer to a new one is impossible. Programs have to be installed from scratch on the new computer. One reason is there are many files in many different directories that need to be copied. There’s no way I’m going to know what files to grab off the current computer and place on the new one. Especially in the Windows directory and it’s sub-directories.
The only way I know to get your programs installed on your new computer is to install from the original source. This means you need to have the EXE file downloaded from the internet, or located on a USB drive or DVD or CD disk. Then I run the setup.exe or install file and go through the setup process.
I like to promote my business any way I can and one of the tools I use is pretty old-fashioned. Whenever I’m at the Credit Union drive-through or inside at the counter, I put a business card in the drive-through canister with my checks or hand one to the teller. This helps identify me plus this lets them know my computer business services.
After my business is transacted, the card isn’t always returned to me and this makes me happy. Maybe it got tossed in the trash or perhaps it’s on a bulletin board in the building. Maybe the teller kept for future needs.
A year ago, the Credit Union created a smartphone app for depositing checks. I started using it and it saved me time and I didn’t have to stop at the credit union to deposit checks.
The consequence of the smartphone app is losing contact with the Credit Union tellers. So once a month I still make a deposit in person so they’ll remember me and my computer business.
Last week I was eating lunch at a restaurant and as I was walking up to pay, something interesting happened. One of my computer clients and a networker was just ahead of me in line. We hadn’t seen each other in person for several years, yet we recognized each other. He had a friend with him and we knew each other from a few networking group meetings. After a little conversation he said he sees me somewhere. And then he realized it’s on LinkedIn or Facebook.
This may sound insignificant, but it says a lot to me about Social Media posts. I have many connections on LinkedIn and Facebook, yet few ever comment or like the things I post. Whenever I run into someone I haven’t seen for a while, they usually say they see me on Social Media and may even mention a particular post they enjoyed. So when I get concerned that not many people comment on my posts, I remember that many people see my stuff, but few will comment or click the Like button.
An employee of one of my business clients called and said his PC is down in their Fort Wayne Office last week. We talked on the phone so I would know what they had tried to resolve the problem. It worked fine yesterday and when they went to use it today, no response. I dropped what I was doing and drove to their office with some replacement parts. Upon arrival, I started troubleshooting.
First I tested the electrical power at outlet and found it to be good. The power cord also tested normal. I checked to insure the settings on the power supply were good. The voltage was on 115 which is correct and the power rocker switch was on which is correct.
Next, I opened the PC and disconnected everything connected to the motherboard like hard drives and DVD drives in case one of them was defective and pulling the computer down. The CPU fan was also disconnected and the PC still would not start.
I tested the Power Supply with my tester and there was no response at all on any of the connectors – no LEDs lit. The old Power Supply was removed and a replacement one of mine was connected in its place. Now, when the PC power button is pressed, the PC comes to life and the monitor begins the start-up sequence.
What happened to the power supply? Perhaps a component failed inside like a capacitor or resister. or it got overloaded by an electrical spike on the incoming 120AC line. I suggested they get a UPS between the computer and the wall outlet to protect it so this doesn’t happen again.
This Saturday morning I was leaving Basches Martial Arts about 0730 and noticed a missed phone call at 0705 from a husband and wife client of mine. I called them back and learned that their Kindle Tablet is frozen and unusable. A few hours later after I was done at Spiece Fitness I made an emergency Kindle on-site service call. The wife uses it heavily to read books and without it, she’s lost. I interviewed her to find the history. It has worked fine for a long time and then this morning she found it frozen at the beginning of the splash screen for new books.
It was assumed the single button was the power button and she has never pushed it to turn off the tablet. The cover flap is just closed and the Kindle sleeps when she’s done with it. I felt it needed a hard power reset so I pushed the power button down for about 30 seconds. It finally turned off and blanked the tablet screen. The Kindle was turned back on showed the startup splash screen and displayed her books – quite an improvement over being frozen. We tested it for about 5 minutes by opening books and closing them and closing the Kindle and it worked as it should. She was grateful it was fixed and said “My husband was ready to go buy me another one before we called you!”
I had a Sunday phone call today from a long-time computer client. They couldn’t connect their Windows 10 work computer to the internet. My client does everything for their business on the internet and when it’s down, their business is down. Additionally, on any given day of the week they may be working; weekends and holidays included.
Saturday they called about an issue and I solved it for them over the phone. The cause was an electrical power outage which disrupted their computer operation and shut it down without my client realizing.
Today, I used my remote control program to see if it was a web browser problem or an internet connectivity problem. I couldn’t connect remotely to the computer so I knew the problem was probably his internet provider’s or his connectivity equipment like the cable modem or the network card. He verified the computer was on and I suspected the cable modem/router needed powered down and back on to reset it.
We were on the phone and I had them unplug the power cord to the cable modem to clear it’s status and restore the internet. They set the handset to the landline phone down and I didn’t hear anything for several minutes. My client called back on their smartphone after 5 minutes and we suddenly realized when the modem was powered down, we lost the phone connection to the landline since it goes through the modem! We both laughed and felt silly that had happened.
They were relieved to have the internet working again on their Windows 10 computer and thanked me for answering my phone on a weekend. Now they could continue with their work.
I visited a new Computer Repair client recently and I’d like to share how they found me. It started when a partner of a local HVAC company sent me a LinkedIn message. They were looking for a reliable computer company they could count on. They had grown to 3 sites servicing over 20,000 customers and they didn’t have the time or personnel to do their own IT. They went on to say “Your recommendations are why I am reaching out. A person with that level of service is someone who we want to partner with.”
The interesting thing is I have never met the partner of the HVAC in person and they found me purely from my LinkedIn profile which has 40 recommendations. These recommendations are from computer clients, former bosses, co-workers and past clients. If you want to be found on LinkedIn and get business from it, then work on asking to your contacts to recommend you. I also added as much of my experience, education and skills to my LinkedIn profile as I could.
A client of mine was complaining of pop-ups on their Android Tablet this week. While they were reading a book on the tablet, a pop-up would take over the entire screen for a few seconds and then close itself. My client would continue reading and another one would come along some time later.
I looked at the applications under settings and found no security software installed. In my opinion, all computing devices need some kind of security software. I like Comodo products and they have one for Android devices. Mobile Security can be found in the play store of any Android device. There are also versions for Linux and Windows computers. It’s very easy to install and use. Once it was installed, a full scan was done and nothing malicious was found. So the tablet was not infected as far as Mobile Security was concerned.
Later I realized what the pop-up was. A news app was running in the background and popped up on me with a CNN news story. I removed the app per my client’s instructions and now there aren’t any more pop-ups and the tablet is safer with Mobile Security installed.
Today I was sending an email message to a vendor when an error message appeared I’ve never seen, “HTTP error 502”. I tried again from another device and same error. A few hours later I realized my mail account had gone over quota of 250 MB for this mailbox. An examination of my default folders, Sent, Trash, and Junk, found 4570 messages in my Trash folder. These messages went back three years. They aren’t needed any longer so all were deleted. The Junk folder had 500 messages and once they were deleted, my quota problem was solved. My mail resumed to normal and I went about my day.
Remember, in most email programs, when you delete an email, it usually goes to the trash(or deleted) folder and still takes up space in your mailbox.
I have an Apple iBook G4 laptop which is used for keeping current with Apple computers. I can do work on it like edit my web sites, email, and search the internet. Some of my computer clients have Apple computers and this is a good reason to stay in practice with Apple. I do enjoy Apple computers and I feel they are more secure than Windows computers.
A problem occurred last month when I turned on my Apple laptop. I was going to open Dropbox to see if it was current. A message appeared saying my current version was old and a newer version was needed. I went to download the latest Dropbox version and it wouldn’t install. From what I recall, there wasn’t any specific error message. The reason was probably because my Mac OS X operating system version is too old. I’ve tried to update it but the laptop architecture is too old for anything newer. When I run the OS update, it says it’s current.
Oh well – I bought it used around nine years ago so it has served me well. I guess I’ll start looking a for a used Apple laptop computer.
Tuesday was the New Haven Chamber Networking Group meeting at Rack and Helen’s Bar and Grill in New Haven. Our group is open to everyone and the cost is free. We start at Noon and today about 15 people attended our 1 hour meeting. Two or three new people were there and a couple who haven’t been around for a while. We make it easy to attend and because of this you’ll see many people there. You won’t see them all at once but over many meetings. Don’t worry about conflicting with another business in your category – we are open to multiple business who do the same thing. Every meeting Monika from the chamber informs us about the upcoming chamber events and provides handouts for us. Stop by and join us next Tuesday for some great networking in an hour or less.
On Saturday, one of my Fort Wayne computer repair clients called to say their Windows computer was speaking to them. It was telling them they were infected and not to shut down their computer. Something took over their Windows desktop and my client was helpless. They couldn’t close the scareware screen, minimize it and even get to the Windows start button. I urged them to shut down the computer with the power button and don’t use it until I arrive Monday.
When I arrived today, I turned on the computer and was greeted with the same scareware screen which was supposed to be from Microsoft. I got it closed with some fancy keyboard shortcuts and by running the Windows task manager. I felt their security program, Windows Defender wasn’t cutting the mustard and I replaced it in favor of Comodo Internet Security. Once it was installed I ran a full scan and many infections were found and removed.
The scareware screen came from their Firefox web browser so I checked it for malicious extensions and plug-ins. Ten were found with names like Maps Galaxy, Search Encrypt, MyFormsFinder, PDF converter, and DirectionsAce. My client never knowingly installed these so I removed all of them. I found the home page set to a questionable search engine so I changed it to to refdesk.com which is a safe site.
My client tested the computer by visiting his web sites in Firefox and nothing crazy popped up while they was browsing. Needless to say they’re happy now.
Once in a while one of my computers has a problem and I have to troubleshoot it. Recently, a Linux PC of mine wouldn’t boot into Linux for me when I wanted to work on my web site. The splash screen showed the hard drive and CD ROM drive so I knew they were seen. The last line had a simple “Boot error” but it didn’t say what device had the boot error. I hoped it wasn’t the hard drive. After looking in the DVD drive trays I found them empty. I noticed the front panel had one of my USB drives inserted which was probably the culprit. Once it was removed from the front panel and I rebooted the PC, it came up normally.
The picture below shows my red USB drive that prevented the PC from booting into the Linux operating system. Since it only had data files on it and no operating system, it couldn’t boot.