a “competitor” might be reading
this might lead to an increase in high income customers being directed towards Computer Aid.
Got a call: “I’ve just bought a PC for $20, but I can’t get past the password prompt”. He spoke to the “vendor” who gave him the password, and said something about resetting the bios setting…
Anyway, It sounds like a bios password… it should just be a matter of shorting a jumper.
When I get there, it turns out to be a large tower, running a pentium 2 & 64 Mb ram… Nothing wrong with the bios.
I let the PC boot normally, & I see it starts running redhat linux (my first in-the-field encounter with linux since I started my business). I like unix/linux, so I’d like to see more of these systems out there one day…
It gets to the linux login prompt & now I understand the problem: Client knows the password, but not the userid… I type in “root” and then password, & everything works fine.
I help out getting the sound plugged in correctly.
Client wants to try playing some windows games… I tell him its not possible (linux cannot run games designed for pentium 4 windows systems, and also: a pentium 2 has no chance of running the latest games).
Client then says: “maybe I should get my pentium 4 system out of storage”… I agree with him.
Client rang with a problem: she runs win98 & is getting a lot of drwatson errors (system file not found).
Now I know this client, & she tends to experiment with her computer & it is very likely that she unintentionally deleted or moved some system files. So I quote her to re-install win98 (plus I throw in some free games, defrag the hard drive, & clean out a few years worth of dust).
Now, the CPU fan & video card fan are spinning slowly & there is very little airflow due to the dust.
At some point during the cleaning, the computer refuses to boot… no bios messages, monitor doesn’t get out of power saving mode, & the HDD light is permanently on. Now I’m pretty sure I didn’t damage anything, so I start unplugging components (HDD, cdrom, sound card, etc.) eventually, it looks like it might be the video card. I try a few spare cards, & they seem to work. I then try the original card, & it also works… how strange!
I complete the reinstall without any further problems, & then I go to install some freeware games (from a CD), and during the copy process, the computer locks up… hit the reset button, and the PC refuses to boot again (just like before). I get out my spare video cards again, & none of them work…
At this stage, I decide to pop the CD out & try another card: it works!
Its the CDROM drive! The PC won’t boot if there is a CD in the drive (and after win98 starts, the pc will still lockup (occasionally). With no CD in the drive, everything works fine.
I tell the customer that the CDROM (liteon 52X max drive) might only last a few more months (maybe 1 month, maybe 12 months).
Another mystery solved.
CDROMs do some very strange things when they fail!
Client calls, needs to have computer (a HP Pentium3) fixed urgently, it keeps locking up & runs very slowly. I think: sounds like another spyware problem.
Turns out the client already has spybot installed & running correctly, however, their virus checker had ended its free trial period, so they had installed another virus checker… Now this could be the problem… I’ve heard that its usually a very bad idea to run 2 virus checkers at the same time, so I eventually manage to disable all virus checkers (as well as usual startup crud from the registery). I also clean up the temp folders and install antivir.
I also installed a webcam for him.
The really weird thing is that the CDROM drive wouldn’t close, it would open at boot time & then stay open. I eventually figure that it must be broken. Client wants it fixed, so the next day, I quote him the cost of a new drive, plus installation & configuration (and a small amount of training on the DVD software).
Client agrees, I buy a DVD burner, & go to install it…
When I get there the second time, client say he is very pleased… He has had the computer since new, & since I fixed the lock-up problem, apparently the computer is faster than when it was new.
If more people realised that some fine-tuning can make a big difference to their computer speed, I reckon computer sales would drop.
Opening a name-brand PC is sometimes like a puzzle, & this HP was one of the trickier ones. but I eventually manage to swap over the optical drive, install the software & do a test burn of a DVD.
Client loves, the new drive & has lots of questions, & wants to know how to copy CD music to the PC, how to download movies, etc, etc. Since some of this is getting uncomfortably towards illegal downloads, etc, I politely say I cannot install that stuff, but I can give him some pointers… & he can decide what to do. I make sure he knows that downloading music & movies without paying for them is illegal.
All the extra questions & demonstrations take an extra 40 minutes (and the previous visit also went about 40 minutes over, so I tell hime I need to charge for an extra hour.
He writes a check, but says he wasn’t expecting to pay so much. I counter with: he is actually getting great value, as he has gotten a lot of extra help & information, which few other “computer repairers”. would have been able/willing to deliver in such a short period of time. He certainly got his money’s worth.
Clients printer (Canon BJ series) had suddenly stopped working. It was weird, since win98 detected the printer & installed the driver, but couldn’t print to it.
The printer itself would do self-diag, so it was either a windows/computer issue, or a cable issue.
I decided to take the printer home & test it in a known environment. It worked perfectly.
So I went back to the client with a spare LPT card, a spare cable, & a plan to maybe play with the bios settings.
Found the bios setting for the printer was “EPP”, so I tried changing it to “SPP” (standard PP). The driver re-installed automatically & the printer then worked…
Oh well, I probably should have checked the bios settings first.
A business client I had dealt with previously, called to say their new computer is no longer starting (something about IDE drive not found).
These people have a 2 month old computer & I previously helped them migrate their outlook settings & fixed a faulty modem, so I had previously opened up the box.
Got there & it looked like the bios couldn’t detect the hard disk… I told them it might be a simple fix, but worst-case, the HDD might have failed, which would probably involve a very tedious re-install of most applications, & a total loss of old emails (they only backup their accounting data). This generated a few shocked looks, but I hope it motivates them to moving to a more comprehensive backup strategy (I’m happy to help them implement a simple DVD backup, but the important thing is to get a good backup happening, regardless who does it).
Fortunately, I just had to unplug & re-insert the SATA plug, & everything was back to normal.
Its just odd that this happened soon after I had fix another problem for them (i had swapped modem cards, but didn’t touch the SATA cords).
I just hope they are not the “suspicious” types and think I had sabotaged their computer the first time, in order to get a second callout. I prefer to do just 1 good job, in order to maximise referrals.
Anyway, I did my best, so I’m not going to worry much about what others might think of me.
I went to help a client who had purchased a digital camera, which also worked as a webcam. I’m thinking: “hmmm, sounds interesting”.
Once I got to the client, I tried the usual “lets download & install the latest driver from the internet”… but windows xp couldn’t find a video camera device.
Eventually took the camera home & had similar problems with my own computers. But eventually found that there is a setting within the camera menus, to tell it how to behave when it is plugged into a PC via usb (either storage device, or video camera)… default is storage device.
So now the camera works as a webcam, but the client has since found out that it works poorly in low-light conditions… However, he has previously used an intel webcam, with much better results… I guess name-brands can make a difference in this field.
I’ve had some fun with webcams during the last 2 weeks.
I purchased a ultra cheap webcam from china (via ebay), and got it running (the original driver on the CD didn’t work correctly, but the latest driver from the net did the trick).
Its supposed to be an “infrared” webcam, but its just a normal webcam with white LEDs.
The problem seems to be that at low light levels, the exposure time is so high, that you get something like 2 – 5 blurred images per second. Not good as a surveillance camera.
And the surveillance software make it even worse (it has a “capture when motion is detected” mode, but it only seems to start recoding 2 seconds after the “motion”).
Anyway, I’m investigating some other software which might do a better job.
Had a small business call about problems with email & internet (after they upgraded their computer system).
Tried to copy all their outlook express (OE) emails & folders using the export/import function… but to no avail (I think I need to brush up on my OE skills).
Eventually used the winxp “system settings migration” wizard, to copy everything over…
But still no dialup connection… eventually tracked it down to a faulty modem (the modem log showed no response from the modem), so a quick swap of modems fixed everything, except for a strange error message while sending emails, but it doesn’t stop the emails from being sent, so we decided to just leave it for the moment.
Went to see a client that was having problems connecting her ADSL modem (to her laptop).
It was a new connection & she was looking to move away from dialup.
I had just started getting some flu symptoms, so I wasn’t feeling to good (which might be why I didn’t fix this problem as quickly as I would have liked).
The carrier is Optus & while running the standard modem install utility, I’d get an error message about not being able to complete the modem setup.
The client had already spent a few hours on the phone to Optus, to try to get ADSL working, but was told that there must be something wrong with her laptop, or the ADSL connection is outside of the allowable range.
Any web site would give the “IE is unable to link to the web page requested”
After some poking around, I managed to ping google.com.au, so it looked like I was onto the net… but web pages would still not work… and a short while after that, the ping would also stop working… very peculiar.
Event viewer didn’t show anything wrong, but the system seemed a bit slow…
I eventually decided that the best thing to do would be to take the laptop home & try it with my ADSL connection.
Once home, I still couldn’t get the laptop to load web pages, but the ping results were more consistent: ping would always work.
So now I focused on IE & why it wouldn’t work. The answer ended up being trivial: internet options -> connections -> lan setting -> proxy server: had some weird settings. I just disabled proxy server, & everything just worked. I reckon Optus should had been able to fix this, since they deal with ADSL customers day-in, day-out)
I did some defrag, & disabled useless “utilities” from startup, then took it back.
Now things were working better: ping worked all the time (but the modem seems to have a dodgy power connector… touching it sometimes caused it to go “offline”).
Opening any web page caused a Telstra page to appear (basically saying “I don’t recognise your username & password, so I won’t let you look at the page you want).
It turns out that the client tried to get broadband thru Telstra, but couldn’t get it to work, so she switched to Optus, with the same symptoms, so then she called me.
I rang Optus on her behalf, & found out that Telstra had not “released” the ADSL service (they were meant to do it 2 day prior, but hadn’t). Optus escalated the issue.
Rang the client a few days later & she was very happy, as the connection was fixed the day after I was there.
Rang a client last week… just to see if his computer was working ok (he had problems with the DVD buring software (Nero) & it wouldn’t uninstall… had to clean all references from the winXP registry).
Anyway, he was very impressed with how the computer was running, & he asked if I did services for businesses (I said yes). So he said that he would use computer aid for fixing computers in the small company he works in.
This is a client that a larger company has lost because of poor customer service… I just need more people like this. I guess I need a little patience…