Computer tuition and iPad tuition

I recently spent a couple of hours with a new ‘subscription’ client explaining how to do the following:

  • Move photos from a digital camera memory card into the pictures folder on the computer
  • Move photos from an iPad to the pictures folder on the computer (not via iTunes, but using a similar method to moving photos from a memory card)
  • Uploading photos to Facebook, and changing the Facebook profile picture
  • Printing a full-page A4 photo from an iPad (rather than 6×4)
  • Printing photos from the PC, full page, and multiple photos per page

Recent jobs

Nothing particularly exciting, but it was good to deal with such a range of work for one client.

  • Transfer files from an old Windows XP desktop computer to a newer Windows 7 desktop computer.
  • Troubleshoot wireless internet problems.  It’s a long house and the WiFi signal won’t reach all the way, so I have recommended a device which will allow wireless internet throughout the house.  I will go back to install it when it arrives from the supplier.
  • Set up Norton 360 on a new Windows 8 laptop.  Although Windows 8 includes Microsoft’s own free antivirus software, PC World still sold my  client Norton 360 (for £60 I think).  I don’t recommend Norton (or McAfee) on any version of Windows, but since the client had paid for it, I set it up for the her.  I recommended against using their automatic renewal option as it’s tricky to cancel; Norton debit the credit card way in advance of the renewal date, just to make sure they get the money before people get a chance to cancel.  I will arrange to uninstall Norton before the end of the subscription year and install a free antivirus instead.
  • Sort out various iPad problems.  I have seen lots of “incorrect Apple ID password” problems on iPads, iPhones and iPods.  Even changing the password doesn’t seem to resolve the problem sometimes.  Anyway, I fixed the problem and installed Chrome (browser), Kindle, and some other software to help her get the most from her iPad.

Since the client has several other things she wants me to take care of, she agreed to sign up for my monthly CBits Subscription service.  Rather than pay-as-you-go, she will pay a small monthly amount which works out cheaper than paying per visit for most clients.  She gets some other benefits too, like priority service, and if she doesn’t use up all her ‘allowance’ of time, she can call me in to service all her computers, iPad, and phone to make sure they’re all up to date and working efficiently.


Internet connection problem – Why it pays to pay me

I went to see a client this morning.  She had no internet.  Yesterday a Virgin Engineer spent two hours at her house and couldn’t get it to work. She then spent three hours on the phone to Virgin who eventually blamed her computer.  She was so stressed that she took the night off work.

I got her back online 35 minutes after I arrived. The problems was an incorrect setting on her Virgin router. I fixed something in 35 minutes that virgin couldn’t fix in five hours!

I then spent the remaining 25 minutes of my one-hour minimum call-out fixing a blue-screen problem (caused by overheating) and speeding up her PC a little.

This ‘can’t get on the internet’ type of problem is very common.  It’s not something the Internet Service Provider (ISP) can easily diagnose over the phone.  It needs someone actually there to see what’s going on and to try things in a logical order.

The ISP will tend to blame the client’s computer (especially antivirus) first, but they could be barking up the wrong tree and wasting lots of time changing the computer settings.  Almost always, the first thing I do is connect my laptop to the modem/router and see if I can get on the internet.  If I can, then it’s likely to be a problem with the client’s computer.  If my laptop can’t get on the internet, then it’s likely to be a problem with the modem or router or a line problem, and the ISP can’t blame the client’s computer.  Either way, we’ve just saved half of the time by ruling out half of the possibilities.

So, next time you can’t get on the internet, call me and I’ll figure out what the problem really is.  The alternative could be spending five hours with the ISP, not getting the problem solved, and losing a night’s money because you’re too stressed to go to work.

Recent Jobs – “Windows Pro Defense” fake antivirus, and data recovery.

Got a call from a new client about 10:30 today. Her (very nice) Sony PC had the “Windows Pro Defence” virus. It’s a fake antivirus program. Looks like they had spent a couple of days trying to remove it. It took me 40 minutes.

I also delivered an external hard disk to another client containing most or all of the six years of their family photos that I spend many days recovering from their laptop’s crashed and damaged hard disk.

Currently working on a Premium Tune-up to clear out and speed up another new client’s PC.

Recent Jobs – Pre-holiday tech worries, unopened new laptops, and another order for backup devices

I wrote about these clients earlier.  I had visited to sort out an internet connection problem, and arranged for a free wireless router / modem upgrade, and lower monthly internet bills.

This recent visit was just a quick maintenance visit. The clients are going on holiday, and would have a 24 hour window in which to print their boarding passes before flying off. They were worried because their old Windows XP computer and printer had been acting up lately. It turned out that they had bought two new, identical laptops and a new wireless printer a few months ago, but hadn’t even opened the boxes yet because they wanted me to sort it all out and set them up after their holiday.

I tested the old PC and printer and they appeared to be working. I told them that if they have a problem on the day they need to print the boarding passes, they should call me and I will come to sort it out. In view of the short time window, I will take my laptop and portable printer to make sure I can get things printed in time.

On a previous visit, I had shown them how to backup their documents by dragging a copy of the documents from their PC to the memory stick. They couldn’t remember how to do it and hadn’t backed up since. This is often a problem for people, even though the process of doing a backup only involves a few steps, it’s a problem to remember how to do it, if they remember to do it at all.

I showed them one of the new backup devices I recommend, and explained that once the software is installed, all they have to do is plug the device into the computer, and press the button on the device marked ‘Backup’. Their backup would complete automatically and tell them when it’s finished. That ‘one-click’ backup solution appealed to them very much.  Although I explained that one device could backup both their new laptops, they ordered one for each laptop ready for my visit after their holiday. Just for their peace of mind, I did a backup for them to their existing USB memory stick.

They signed up for the CBits by Subscription service too, and we arranged an appointment in March for me to set up their new laptops and transfer their documents from the old PC.

These new backup solutions are proving very popular with my clients.  If you would like to know more about them, or have anything else you need help with, please leave a comment.  Personal details are extracted from the comments by me before any comments are published, so feel free to leave your contact details.

Remember, I provide remote support over the internet too, so contact me even if we’re miles apart.

Recent jobs – Backup device

I client had read my client newsletter and emailed me to express an interest in the new backup devices I recommend.  A phoned him and logged in to his computer from my office to see how much data he needed to backup.  He has quite a few photos, and plans to add many more.  I gave him my recommendation for a one-touch backup USB memory stick, and suggested the capacity (amount of storage space) he should have.  He agreed and I offered to order one for him, and we arranged for a time for me to visit to set it all up for him.

A couple of days later I arrive to do the set-up.  The installation went well, but the initial backup got stuck on one file and wouldn’t continue, and wouldn’t even respond to the ‘stop’ command.  We restarted the computer to try again.  Yes, I am aware of the cliché about turning it off and on again, but it does often solve such problems.  In this case, it didn’t solve the problem and the backup got stuck again on the same file.  The client then informed me that the backup method he previously used had also got stuck on that file.  This meant that the problem wasn’t being caused by my backup method and device, and pointed towards the file itself being the problem.  Anyway, a few troubleshooting steps later and the file was fixed.  The next attempted backup went perfectly.

Teaching him how to do future backups was very easy; “Plug the device into your laptop and the program will automatically start.  When you see the backup program screen, just press the button on the backup device marked ‘Backup’.  Job done, get 0n with something more interesting!”

Fixing the problem with the file took quite a while.  For the techs amongst you, we had to do multiple reboots due to lockups, and he’s on Windows Vista with only 1gig of RAM so it took a while; I told him that if he finds his computer too slow we can get more RAM, but it’s his first computer and he finds it works well enough for his needs.

Due to the file problem, the fairly large amount of data, plus the initial work to establish the amount of data to backup, the whole process took about 90 minutes.  I only allocated 60 minutes against his Subscription account though.

If you want information about my recommended backup devices, or any other services, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.  Personal information will be extracted from any comments before they are published, so feel free to leave contact details in the comment.  Thanks.

Tech support from your ISP could be a costly waste of time

BBC News reported on a Which? report today which shows that most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are using premium rate numbers for their tech support.

Why would anyone want to pay premium rates for a call to India and have to wait (while paying) for their call to be answered? Why not contact me? My time is cheaper than some premium rate tech support calls, and I’ll help you in person. Most of the calls I get are from people who have called their ISP, spent around an hour on the phone, and still haven’t got a solution. Most of the time, it’s not a problem the ISP can fix directly anyway.

Take a recent case as an example. A couple, both computer novices, had been on the phone to BT for ages because they couldn’t get their PC connected to their internet service. BT tech support had asked them to do lots of stuff on the PC to try to fix the problem, but as novice’s this was slow and frustrating. They even told them to buy an unusual type of USB cable to connect the modem/router to the PC. They did, but that didn’t work either.

I went round and started my diagnostics. I found that my laptop easily connected to their internet service, so it wasn’t a problem with the BT end of things. Their PC couldn’t ‘see’ the modem using the USB cable; the reason is that the USB socket on their BT modem is for attaching an external hard disk, not a computer, so that was never going to work. This just illustrates that the BT helpline doesn’t even know how its own equipment works.

The solution was easy. I fitted an Ethernet card to the PC (having cleaned out the dust from the inside of the PC first) and we got a connection immediately. They’ll have a good, reliable internet connection now. It’s something a novice couldn’t do on his own, and a helpdesk can’t do over the phone.

It took 90 minutes from start to finish, including cleaning out the PC, explaining everything in terms they understood, and a good chat (I know them personally). 90 minutes of personal service, compared to long phone calls, trips to PC World for unnecessary purchases, and still no solution.

I offer:

  • In-you-home PC and IT services for residential clients in Essex, UK
  • In-your-office PC and IT services for business clients nationally (if it’s cost effective for you and me)
  • Online tech support. See the link on the homepage (requires broadband connection)
  • Payment by cash, cheque, credit card, or PayPal

Whatever you need, if it involves computers or IT then please contact me by using the Contact menu item at the top of the page.