The accidental upgrade to Windows 10

Last week I got a call from a new client whose wife uses her HP Pavilion desktop to play Pogo… Pogo… That’s it, just Pogo… and apparently there’s a growing number of “Pogo Sharks” out there that I was unaware of… Anyway, back to the story… His wife had inadvertently run Windows automatic updates, a little “click happy” (perhaps from Pogo) and ended up installing Windows 10 on the machine when she was just starting to understand how to navigate Windows 8.1. Now as far as she was concerned, the machine was useless and she decided to take her Pogo games to her husband’s work computer so he called me extremely frustrated because he couldn’t get any work done.

He asked if I could remove Windows 10 and reinstall 8.1 so she could take her Pogo back to the Pavilion and he could get back to work. I asked about any other applications like Office or data like documents, pictures, or music that would need to be restored and he said “wipe it like its fresh out of the box”. So I agreed to remove Windows 10 and reset the machine to its original factory settings so she could set it up like it was brand new again. I asked if he wanted any remote support should there be need for any assistance setting everything up again and he answered that the whole machine only cost home $150.00 so he wanted to go the cheapest route possible and a simple restore would suit his needs just fine. I quoted a price of $100 to do a clean install of Windows 8.1 without remote support, he agreed, and the machine showed up at my office the next day.

He didn’t bring the power supply cable and this happened to be a machine that used a “laptop-style” power supply so I dug through the mountain of old power supplies I have stashed away to find an HP compatible power supply. It took a couple of days but I finally found one (I think it may have been the 41st or 42nd power supply I checked), got the machine booted up, and began the process of booting to the original Windows 8.1 Recovery Partition.

A few hours later 8.1 was at the setup screen and I shut the machine off so his wife could set it up with her original Microsoft ID and restore any apps she downloaded from the Microsoft App Store before the accidental upgrade. Made the call to the client that the machine was ready, and he picked it up the next day.

About 3 hours passed before my phone started ringing to find the client on the other end madder than a hornet because he couldn’t get passed the setup screen. After a few minutes of calming him, I finally got a word in to ask if the mouse was moving when he moved it. He said it didn’t so I explained that he’d left his wireless mouse receiver in the machine and I used the same brand mouse & keyboard to work on it so I must have gotten the USB receivers mixed up when I returned the machine. I asked where his office was located so I could bring his receiver by and pick mine up but he replied that he’d only paid $20 for the mouse and it would be easier just to get another. I got him to connect another mouse which started working and he went along setting the machine up again ending the call.

About 10 minutes later, I got another call wanting to know what a “Microsoft ID” was and after explaining it, he had no idea what Microsoft ID to use. I tried to direct him to find the option to skip it and sign in with a “local account” but after about 20 minutes it was just easier to create a Microsoft ID that mirrored his GMail account and move on with the setup. Each step went by seeing me drawing verbal maps to navigate to the next step. Finally he got online and that’s when the real problems began. He asked if I could just take control of the computer and do it for him while he supervised, so we moved from “phone” to “remote support”. Two and a half hours later, we finally got the machine back to a state he was used to seeing and we ended the remote support session.

The “cheapest route possible” had once again cost me an additional 2 1/2 hours of my time. About 45 minutes later I got an SMS message from him stating everything was working perfectly! I took a second, logged into PayPal and send an invoice to his GMail account for 2 1/2 hours phone/remote support at $59.95 an hour with a generous $30.00 credit for the new wireless mouse he rather purchase than swap receivers for (so I’m out a wireless keyboard or mouse, I haven’t figured out which just yet because I’ve been so busy with other things lately). He’s yet to acknowledge the invoice, much less pay it and he probably won’t either but it taught me a lesson… Whenever a client wants a “bare-bones wipe and reinstall”, always allow for at least 1 hour of remote support once they get the machine reconnected where it came from. 

RG6 Cable Repair

imageimage     image   Yesterday afternoon about 3 o’clock, I got a phone call from a new client who had been working in her flowerbeds and accidentally cut the coaxial cable that feeds her Comcast service into her home.  She wanted me to come repair it yesterday evening after I got off work at 5 PM but unfortunately it was raining outside and to make sure you don’t get moisture in being repaired cable I told her that we wanted to make sure and wait until it wasn’t raining outside.  This morning is sunny and bright with no rain so I’m headed out this morning early to repair this cut coaxial cable and restore her Comcast service in her home.

Arrival at the clients house found the pier and beam house where coaxial cable had been run I would look like the work of a satellite TV technician. The cable was hanging from the outside the house into the flowerbeds and ran up under the house.  The cable was severed just under the house so I terminated the cable coming from under the house approximately 6 inches away from the bottom of the house and then cut and terminated the other end of the cable that  had been hung and rigged tucked under the gutter on the side of the house. I use some new Coax as a bridge between the two areas of the cable that were severed approximately 3 to 4 feet apart. After terminating 4 ends of coaxial cable,  I reconnected everything and secured the old and new Coax to the client’s house so it’s not hanging in the flower bed to be severed again. I had the client test both cable and Internet services to ensure all were at peak performance. Here are a few “before and after pictures”.

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Once again, another satisfied client who’s Technology is once again Working for Them.

Another Toshiba laptop…

On Thursday or Friday of last week a client brought her Satellite L755 to my office because she couldn’t get a newly purchased, well-known accounting application to install because she kept getting errors that the application was corrupt. She left it over the weekend and after I booted it up, I realized they were running Windows 7 Home Premium instead of Windows 7 Professional and when you’re using a machine for business purposes, you really should use the “Pro” edition of the OS for networking, security, and other business concerns.

I proceeded to back-up all the data and applications on the machine, wipe the hard drive, and upgrade the machine to a clean install of Windows 7 Professional Edition (her business IT person had previously expressed his disfavor for upgrading to Windows 10). After the new OS was installed on the machine (which is of course “service pack 1” and requires over 200 updates immediately after installation) Windows 7 wouldn’t load updates when I attempted running Windows Update. The rest of the weekend I kept trying to force updates to Windows 7 only to find myself more and more frustrated when hours would pass with the “Searching for updates…” displayed though no updates were ever found.

Finally earlier today, I decided enough was enough and began the process of manually upgrading the machine to Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 downloaded without issue and began the slow process of installing on the machine (which has 4 Gigs of RAM and is probably going to end up with 12 or 16 Gigs of RAM before I’m done because it’s amazing but 4 Gigs of RAM is almost like trying to run Windows XP on 512 Megs of RAM… It’s possible but extremely frustrating to use because it moves so SLOW). After about an hour of installing Windows 10, I happened to notice download speeds decreased slightly which prompted me to check what else was running and BEHOLD! Windows 7 finally began loading its updates automatically.

I immediately stopped the Windows 10 install and continued to allow Windows 7 to run its “automatic updates”. Now 2 hours later I’ve transferred the data I backed-up from the machine back over to the machine with its upgraded version of Windows 7 and as it reboots after the data transfer, it’s currently installing 112 of 227 updates. The job isn’t completed but it’s inching toward the finish line now that we’ve discovered that apparently Microsoft has set updates to Windows 7 to load in a manner where the OS has to “automatically request the updates” instead of a user forcing the Operating System to download updates. Windows 7 users better start being more open-minded about making the jump to Windows 10 because it looks like Windows 10 is where Microsoft is fully focused.

Lazarus has been found in the form of a MacBook Pro

About a month ago, a friend and co-worker brought a MacBook Pro to me that wouldn’t boot. His soon to be son-in-law had come upon the machine and had great plans to sell it so the boy could pay for the engagement ring he’d found to offer my friend’s daughter asking her hand in marriage.

The machine is an i5 with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive that originally came from Apple with OSX Lion. It didn’t want to restore, boot to safe mode, and it was really being difficult but the hardware is solid and being so, I’m a “software guy” so there’s always more than one way to skin this cat. A few tricks and tweaks coupled with a few hours of wiping, downloading, and reinstalling the OS had the machine purring along like the “big cat” its original OS was named for. I returned the machine to my friend and the soon to be son-in-law enjoyed using it so much that he found another avenue to procure the previously mentioned engagement ring.

Fast forward a month and the same machine landed back on my desk at work. Apparently the “kids” found another way to lock up the OS again to the point where it wouldn’t boot and in its snarky “Apple way” only beeped at the user after the machine was turned on. Another abracadabra, a wipe, a download, and new OS installation has the machine purring right along once again….

This is the second repair to this same machine in the same month, neither time was payment required or expected because it’s a favor for a friend. I am however tempted (having the humor I possess) to tell this friend of mine today as I return the machine to him in perfect condition for the second time… “By the way, Macs are much less prone to exploits as we all know but with the amount of porn I found on the hard drive, you might want to have a word with your son-in-law-to-be about his intentions with your sweet young daughter…” (My friend is a very “Godly” man with a huge heart and extremely staunch traditional religious views… Pentecostal religious views…) I just don’t know if I could keep a straight face while I said it because I don’t know if there was any “porn” on the hard drive or not, I just wiped it and started from scratch but it sure would get a ride out of my friend today. A little laugh would cover the value of the time I’ve invested in this machine, especially considering the friend I did it for. 😊😊😊😊
Downloading LionSaving Lionto the HDRestore to SnowyLoading LionReady for return

The “I’ve already got all the parts needed” Customer

Over the weekend I get a call… Well it ended up being 3 calls from the same prospective customer… He has an iPhone 6 with a broken screen. Without giving his name as I answer his call… “Yeah, How much you charge to fix a broken iPhone?”

I asked what was broken and which model iPhone so I could determine the cost of the replacement hardware? He says “It’s the screen for an iPhone 6.” So I tell him the display replacement is approximately $100.00 and I’d charge $75.00 to complete the repair. He said “A-ait” and was about to end the call when I said “… By the way, I’m Brandon… Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?” He replied… “Dis Dexter” I said “Thanks for calling Dexter. You have my number and if you’d like to proceed with the repair, I can send an invoice to your mobile or email address for the cost of the parts, I’ll order them once the invoice is paid, they usually take 2 days to arrive, you can drop your phone off at my office 1st thing the next morning and  it will be ready by lunchtime.” Again he said “A-ait”  and then hung up the phone.

About two hours later I received another call from Dexter stating that he already had the replacement screen and he wanted to know what I would charge to simply put it on? Again I told him I’d charge $75.00 to complete the repair, he could drop it off at my office Monday morning and pick it up by lunchtime later that day. I did mention that I could make no warranty or guarantee on the replacement screen because I have no knowledge of where it came from or if it might be defective since he would be providing the new screen.  Again he ended the call and stated that he may be calling back later.

Another hour or so passed  I received another call from Dexter , this time he said that his digitizer was broken and he had the clear glass piece that makes up the touch screen of the iPhone. I explained that the digitizer is fused together with the LCD on the iPhone so unfortunately, that was not the part required to complete the repair. He said he’d have to call me back and I didn’t hear from him again so I sent him an SMS message with a link where he could purchase a high quality replacement display for his iPhone if he felt so strongly about providing the parts himself.

…. I have yet to hear back from “Dexter”…. If I do, I think this may be one of those cases where the $75.00 repair will need to be increased to a $150.00 repair… Sometimes it’s best to recognize that you call for “support” because you either can’t or aren’t qualified to do something on your own… It might be a good idea to respect the knowledge and advice you get from the professional you choose to call for “support”.

You have to love Toshiba laptops!

I get more phone calls from people with laptops that they can no longer charge because the power wiring harness has broken off inside the laptop. I can’t help but chuckle a little bit whenever I ask “is your laptop a Toshiba?” The new or perspective client will reply 99% of the time, “yes it is a Toshiba, how did you know?”

Toshiba laptops are one of the few that I found who don’t solder Toshiba the AC/DC power wiring harness to the computer’s motherboard and because of this more Toshibas have the same problem and it’s no fault of the end-user. No matter how careful they may be connecting the power cord to the laptop, that wiring harness we will move out of its regular position.

So dear reader, the next time you consider purchasing a new laptop think twice when the price of that Toshiba laptop seems a little too irresistible.

The MacBook Pro that took a mud bath

So after dismantling the entire MacBook Pro (which was painful with every turn of the specialized screwdriver) its logic board has been rinsed with warm clean water via one of my wife’s paintbrushes, allowed to dry, and will be rinsed again this weekend and thoroughly dried again before it sees power again. Maybe Sunday, after church and earnest prayers I’ll piece it back together and try to boot it once again. It’s going to have to want to live at this point, I’ve cleaned less mud from my “yard shoes” than this machine’s logic board. All we can do is wait and see at this point…