Friday, January 28, 2005

Red flashing lights.. Mike, what the &^%$ are you doing to my computer?

I recently received a very disturbing email from a client. Okay so maybe I was just a bit miffed by being incriminated that I had done something to a clients computer... Without their knowledge.

First of all I want to defend myself by stating the simple fact that I do try and treat each of my clients computers as if they were my own. That being said, when I hear of some serious problems on the horizon, such as a new virus that is creating havoc amongst email and the rest of the internet, or the fact that there are a bunch of new patches available, I will want to try and get as many of my clients notified of this as possible. This is where RSS and Blogging comes to action. With this device, I should be able to, in theory, if all of my existing clients use RSS and subscribe to my blog, then they will all be notified at the same time, whenever I say something here.

Now, to be incriminate as to why I might be "doing something" to your computer is crazy. First of all, I am usually fairly busy trying to keep up with client emails asking a question or two, or simply wanting me to check out a small or potential problem. I don't usually have to go connecting to client computers just for the heck of it.

In this case, it was nothing more then not understanding what all the lights do on the face of the computer case. The red flashing light in this case was of course, the hard drive. Since it was probably early in the morning (around 1am I believe when I received the email), that there was probably disk defragment or virus scanning or possibly a windows update taking place.. Or it might have only been the screen saver causing the hard drive to load a new file. In any case, this is certainly nothing to panic about as this is what the computer should be doing, especially if you are not using it. Of course it could be cause for alarm if you go and move your mouse and the screen pops on only to find that there are no programs running. This certainly could be a sign that there is spyware running and could be causing a lot of network activity. If you aren't sure, then simply email me along with your ip address and I'll check it out. But please, believe me when I say "I have better things to do then go snooping around any random client's computer". This being said, I must say there have only ever been two times in the past 6 years that I have ever connected to a clients computer without their knowledge initially however once I did complete the update (which was obviously a critical update otherwise I would have just simply told them to do it in an email), whereas I always email letting my clients know that I had connected and completed some sort of work..

..Oh, did I forget to mention that I never charged for this service? Not that I don't charge, but in the case of a quick connection and update.. Of course not.. it is just part of my service.. so if you haven't started to 'take advantage of me'.. what are you waiting for?

But if you are going to take advantage of me.. Please don't shoot the technician just because you see some flashing light. I would be glad to inform you of anything you are uncertain about.. I do also give computer lessons if you feel it is time, you know where to find me....

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A great Spyware Education

I recently stumbled upon a very good website full of information and removal tools, some of which you will find on my site here, as these are what I would refer to as the most common tools, but not necessarily the best tools. As you will learn to understand this is an ever changing process which means we are all learning new technique.. Always trying to stay at least half a step ahead of the problem but when we can't be preventing a problem because we first have to deal with something new, knowing where to turn to for help always comes in handy. Using Google or Yahoo for searching doesn't always work. Sometimes you have to go a little deeper. I suggest Copernic Search Agent Pro and along with that, their desktop search however I haven't found that to be too useful for my needs (yet) but when they are offering it up for free, can you really afford not to give it a try?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Happy Birthday

.... to me.. Happy Birthday to me.....

Ok so it is my birthday and I am sure I am not alone when the spam starts rolling in and you just get hooked on one of your astro-plane things..

Well I followed one through in pretty good details.. ok so they wanted to know where I was born and at what time.. along with the obvious date the results are in... and of course for the small fee of $9 I can learn even more.. well I have 24 hours to do whatever I want.. is that how it works? Maybe I'll treat myself to $9 report.. or just live with these results:

Section 1: How You Approach Life and How You Appear To OthersFerociously proud and somewhat vain, you like to be impressive and to be seen as Somebody Special. You are not timid, meek, or self-effacing, and are rarely content being in the background or in the subordinate position. You are a natural leader, and do not take orders from others very well. You must have something of your own, something creative - be it a business, a project, a home or whatever - that you can develop and manage according to your own will and vision. Whatever you do, you do it in a unique, dramatic, individual way. You like to put your own personal stamp on it.

Section 2: The Inner You: Your Real MotivationYou are a freedom-loving, strong-willed, and independent-minded individual, and you insist upon living your own life as you see fit, even if that means ignoring convention and tradition. In personal relationships you cannot be owned or possessed, and while you are willing to share yourself with another, you do not always adjust easily to the emotional give and take of a close relationship. Though intellectually open, you can be enormously stubborn, opinionated, and inflexible on a one-to-one level. You have strong convictions and feelings about fairness and equality, and you try to live by your ideals, but your ideals about how people SHOULD treat one another don't always take into account human weaknesses, differences, and needs. You probably dislike sentimentality and traditional gender roles and "games".

hmmmm interesting..

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Spyware is public enemy number one! I am sure I have said this before.

I am pretty sure I make mention of the spyware problems and how they are just as much a virus, if not more. Not only do they slow down your computer, but eventually they will take over not to mention what other bugs they let in..

ZDNet article this morning says so too!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Microsoft's Latest Plunge in to the Spyware Programming

It has come to my attention (by the amount of email) I am getting, questioning on whether or not the latest spyware program scanner available by Microsoft should be downloaded. In my opinon, at this time, no, I wouldn't be. This is simply because there are many spyware programs out there but only a few have proven themselves to be worthy of running on my computer. I realize that because Microsoft makes the operating system, that they should be pretty confident in knowing what is spyware, that doesn't belong next to the program code that they have created. The problem then comes when Microsoft wants to know "more" about your computer then is what might be deemed necessary information. Personally, knowing that you can avoid sending any information to anyone (including Microsoft) when it is not pertinent to the operation of the computer then don't bother. It is nothing more then filling out the registration card that is filled with a questionnaire in which you are supposed to send back to the manufacturer to confirm your warranty. I haven't actually heard of this as being a case where your warranty was void because you didn't send the card in, but one thing for sure, you didn't receive a bunch of junk mail from the manufacturer after you sent it in, which is what happened to your neighbor that did send the card in.

Sure, we want to be thorough in our cleaning of the computer but at what cost to the operator? At a time when Identity theft is on the rise, I am a firm believer in keeping up to date with what spyware programs have been working. As with any software in its infancy stages, I test it, and then recommend upon whatever my findings are and with that knowledge I pass it on to my clients and any computer that crosses my bench.

So, to answer the question, should you install Microsoft spyware program? No, I wouldn't, but I would make sure ad-aware and spybot search and destroy as well as spyware blaster and spyware guard are up to date. You can download them from my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page. As well, if you want to get caught up in the different theories out there with what Microsoft is really doing...

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Technology..Pushing Forward, even if we are not!

I am sitting here, staring at the screen wondering what I am to do next... This is a pretty typical thing since there is always more then one thing to do. It seems as though it becomes "what is the priority"? This is where I turn to read my incoming email only to find a question through It appears one more person is using windows 98 and is having some sort of problem. I went ahead and said to get all the updates including mediaplayer 10 however as they did infact, mentioned it was not compatible but I overlooked that.. But of course they were correct. Thing is, now I am faced with continuing to respond by trying to solve the problem, when it seems more time is spent trying to patch and solve then to simply put it aside and get something that IS compatible.

Yes, sure there will always be some sort of software program or hardware patch that you can get which will make your system compatible, but at what cost? Again you think of hardware costs, however you often overlook the obvious "time" cost, and that is your time! When you don't work for anyone but yourself, in my case, you are first looking at time as an issue. I find myself constantly realizing that there is only 24 hours in a day.

Continuing on... I come across job whereas my client was given an old computer, and being new to the computer thing, she was thankful as it would give her a chance to see if she liked this "internet thing" before going out and spending a pile of money, much like you would do if you were starting some other hobby. This is fine on your pocketbook, but what if you look at it from the point of view like you are giving a child a pair of very used skates with no ankle support, to become the next Wayne Gretzky... I don't think so.. You would want to make sure that child had the best "money could buy".. This should work for computer shopping as well. But this only works if you talk with someone knowledgeable about computers. Basically you take the amount of money you want to spend and try to get the most out of it with what you feel you will be doing. For example, if you are thinking of getting in to digital photography, you probably are going to want a large monitor, a lot of memory, and a multimedia card reader built in. Fortunately these are pretty much typical of any new computer. But it is the "extra memory" or the "larger hard drive" that may make or break your decision to buy that computer.

A general rule of thumb that I have found when it comes to computers and "technology" is to first decide how much money you have to spend and then decide what is the most important features you are looking for when it comes to that upgrade or new computer. If you can't afford the entire thing right away, then build your new computer in stages. Get what is important first, which is usually memory and/or a new hard drive (storage). If it is memory you are after, there really is no point in spending more then about $50 in this area since if you are having to buy SDRAM (pc 133 or pc 100) since the newest computers are now using DDR-SDRAM memory which has dropped to about half that of the PC133/100 memory. Since this one item alone may make you decide to buy that new mainboard, since it will be using the newer memory, you would most likely have to buy a new CPU with that new mainboard, since your old one will probably be too "slow" for the newer mainboard.

Hard drive (storage) is not a problem since you can buy whatever you want for your old computer and then when you do decide to upgrade to a newer one, the new hard drive you just purchased is easily transferred to the new computer.

The one last thing to remember is after you have bought or built your dream computer, don't be looking at the prices of the equipment you just installed because it is almost sure to be lower then the price you paid for it!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Remote PC connection requirements

Most of my clients already are quite aware of my remote connection service where I can help by diagnosing and repairing most problems online without the need to come and remove your computer for bench work. Of course this does require your computer to be 'online' and obviously available to connect to. The only other requirement which isn't as much a requirement but a necessity if you want to utilize my services and that is to get yourself connected to the HIGHSPEED SERVICE.. not the "lite" plan that both Shaw (broadband) and Telus (ADSL) offer. Yes, I am well aware of the $10-15 dollars a month more in their fee but compared to my fee... which would you rather pay? Yeah I know, I am pretty cheap aren't I? Well I want to remain that way but you have to understand when I can connect to a computer using highspeed, diagnose and in most cases, repair a problem within an hour whereas that same problem would take over 3 due to the speed that I "receive" the information back to my computer. Since this service has evolved from me simply answering an email by connecting and fixing the problem and then responding in the email that it was fixed, to actually setting time aside for "client repair email".. this means that becuase I am getting a good response, I am actually scheduling time (albeit is usually after 10 or 11pm [PST]) to complete these jobs. I truly believe if a computer can be maintained and got to soon after a problem has been spotted then the chances of the computer not having to leave the home and end up on the bench are much greater. This means the moment you see something isn't right or you simply can not figure something out.. that is the time to contact me..

The way I see it, quite simply, is if you wish for me to confirm things are working all you have to do is email me along with your pc anywhere ip address and I'll connect and make sure everything is working the way it should. If you want, you can also request that I create a new "backup image" which I would gladly do, knowing that this is prevention from potention disk corruption which could then be restored allowing for the lesser chance of losing important data.

Be sure to read my TIPS and of course check out my BLOG regularily (or through RSS of course).