Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Oct 6th

Today was an interesting day, aside from my normal school routine I had an appointment with a customer I had previously helped. Apparently the solution I worked out for her was good but made another problem for her.

She had Microsoft Office 2007 and it was bugging out on her. When she turned on her computer she could open Microsoft Word once, and then any other further attempts would result in the program freezing. With little to no help from the general technical groups I search for this sort of thing I had to uninstall and reinstall it. Doing so took little effort but upon completing the installation the error continued. So it was decided to install Open Office Org on her computer in place of Microsoft Office; Usually this is a reasonable and great substitute for Microsoft Office. This all happened on my last visit to her place.

This time around she introduced me to the new problem, being that her printer would not scan documents to Email anymore. It took me a little while, but what I understood was the printer was scanning the documents and actually creating word document files from them, perfectly typed and editable documents. This functionality was lost when Microsoft Office was uninstalled, because the printer would only interface with that program. A reinstall would be simple enough, but she had thrown away the discs because they were no longer useful to her. Luckily I was able to save her CD-Key from the product, but Microsoft has since discontinued downloads of 2007 from their website and getting a trial or download to work from would be impossible. In the end I cleaned up her computer of some other troubles it was having and suggested she ask a friend for a copy of the Microsoft Office she had(since she has a key this would not be illegal for her to do).

Not all repair jobs I've done end out working, computers can be really quirky and hard to deal with sometimes. Oddly stubbornness is not only a trait reserved for humans, but our creations as well!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday, October 4th

Today I managed another virus removal. The virus is one I have seen multiple times and watched it kill 2 computer from neglect. The virus itself will stop all programs from starting up by interrupting them with a warning "suchandsuch.exe is infected, would you like to start up your antivirus?" If you say yes it forwards you to a website which will try to convince you to pay.
**never buy anything from an untrusted source, they WILL take your credit card info and RUN with it**
I have customers that have bought the software and then had a few thousand dollars charged to their accounts.
---if you do fall to this, cancel your credit/debit card asap and get a new one issued so they cannot use it.

On another note, I've had requests for customer horror stories, which I happily only have a few.
Of them there are 2 I can remember right off.

One of my customers was a nice lady in her 40-50's. Her teenage daughter had recently got a laptop and needed a huge data transfer and the family computer needed a severe cleanup. One of the major tasks to be done was setting up a system for backing up her pictures(roughly 10gb). She decided to go with DVD's and we started the process through picasa(which has a standard backup system). The process itself would take roughly 2-4 hours so after my work I packed up and instructed her on how to finish this which included swapping discs. Later that day she called my boss asking for another appointment because the backup would not work and that the software was having trouble. The next time I went out there I suggested using one of the external drives she had purchased, but she was intent on using DVD backups. So I worked through the software and attempted to solve the problem and packed up again, having sold her a DVD burning drive because her old one was acting up. Again later that day she called back again and had the same problem. This time I strongly recommended she use an external drive to do the work and she refused again. I tried again and explained that there was little I could do if it did not work again unless she had some software for data burning because the program we were using was obviously not working. So again I left(not charging her this time) and she never called back. A little while later my boss got an email that we assume was from her, it only had her initial on it so we cant be certain and the message was extremely vague. Then a few days after that my boss got a message from the BBB saying a complaint was lodged against us. We were completely dumbfounded by this until we considered it might have been her....

My second interesting customer was a compulsive coupon cutter that needed appointments right at 5pm, any tardiness beyond 5 minutes was considered to be too late in the day for a technician to come over. The first part of my description comes from the fact that he had about 5 coupon programs on his computer so he could download coupons for anything he bought and he also hired us specifically because we offer a 5$ discount if you sign up for our email program through the website(also known as a coupon). The second part was amusing, because the first time I had him scheduled I was going to be there by 6pm and not 5pm because I had already done 4 appointments that day and had fallen a little behind. I called to tell him I was going to arrive late and he promptly told me to reschedule because it was going to be later than he wanted. This had been the second time we rescheduled him because of time and he always specifically asked for times after 5pm, so his complaint about an hour later being too late is really hard to deal with after a full day of work. The last thing I can recall from him was again his strong desire to save money which is how he got blacklisted from us. During the appointment he asked me if I would be up to working on his computers for him on my personal time and not company time. Anyone that's worked for almost any company knows that agreement to that sort of thing could result in losing your job. I was not the slightest bit interested in losing my job over this guy and made sure to contact my boss and get him blacklisted before he could schedule another appointment. The guy eventually called my personal cell phone(from caller ID) and I quickly told him he had to contact the office and that if he wanted an appointment he had to call them, not me. My boss chewed him out over the phone and told him to not harass his employees/offer them work on the side. It made me smile.

Not horror stories really, but certainly cases in which the customer is not right.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday October 2nd

So, the past few Saturdays I've been getting the time off, last weekend I went fishing and business has been a little slow recently anyhow(people saving money for Christmas/Black Friday). Today I just did normal stuff, went shopping, got a haircut, and got other general things done. The weekends are my days to get shit done. I may in the future, on less busy Saturdays, post a blog with a general recap of the week and my clients.

To anyone that can drink alcohol, get some rum(Captain Morgan is a good start) and mix a shot of it with a can of coca cola or sprite. It puts a good end to any evening.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday October 1st

Today I got to troubleshoot two equally annoying problems, one caused by a virus and the other caused by AVG.

Starting with the virus, my customer had the infamous GALA Google re-director virus. What this one does is redirects any attempt to use Google to a web page from GALA that looks similar to Google's but is an obvious spoof.
Malwarebytes will easily clean out the virus; which my customer handled before I got there, but some users(like my customer) will still experience forwarding to this annoying site when using the search engine found at the top right of your browser space.

The way to fix this is by left clicking on the arrow next to the magnifying glass and choosing "manage search engines"

Once there you'll need to delete your default search engine by defaulting another engine and then choosing your original one and deleting it. After that you'll need to close the window, click on the arrow next to the magnifying glass again and choose "find search providers"(or something to that effect). Choose your provider and re-install them. Doing this will remove the infected search engine and install a new clean one in its place.

My next customer had a problem with downloading files from IE/Firefox and downloading attachments from emails. "not enough disc space" was the common message, and if 200+GB of free space isn't enough for a single file, I don't know what is! The cause of this error is an anti virus program, since the program was denying the downloads the computer gave a default(and way off the mark) reason for the denied download.

The simple fix? remove any active anti virus software you have installed and find a new provider. My customer had AVG 8.5, after uninstalling that I was able to pull attachments from emails and download from IE8. From there I reinstalled AVG 9.0 and everything continued to work smoothly.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Sept 30th

Today I will be going over virus removal. I had two appointments today that were centered around this, each one I ran the same exact gambit of anti-virus tools and was able to clean up the machine and get it working like new. Beginning with diagnosis, being able to recognize a virus is 10x more important than actually knowing how to clean it out. Most viruses will slow down, lock down, and eventually destroy your computer if untreated.

Typically they come in the form of "virus cleaners" that offer to scan your computer for free and they ALWAYS find a "virus" on your system. They will then offer to sell you their product in order to remove the virus; **Never do this!** after getting your information they will then initiate hundreds and thousands worth of charges to that bank account and will ruin you financially if you allow them to. Only trust technicians when it comes to proper virus removal, and never take the easy way out by purchasing the software.

When it comes down to virus removal there is two schools of thought on how to do it properly. Manually and Automatically, either works as well but doing it manually requires much more in depth knowledge of computers than I can go over in a blog post. Doing it automatically through programs requires a toolkit with the proper programs to do the removal. typically you need a rootkit remover, a malware remover, and an active anti-virus protection system.

I cant recommend any rootkit removers, they are dangerous to use without the proper know how and again I cant explain how to use them in one blog post.

Malware Remover:
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Active Anti-Virus:
Avast(free, for one year(?))
Norton(paid, yearly subscription)
McAffee(paid, yearly subscription)

I also suggest getting Ccleaner and using it regularly to keep your computer cleaned out of useless junk.

Once you have your tools either on a flash drive or on the computer in question you'll need to start the computer up in safe mode. You can do this by restarting the computer and mashing the F8 function key as it boots up. It should give you a list of start up options including 'Safe Mode' and 'Safe Mode With Networking'. If you can use 'Safe Mode With Networking' otherwise 'Safe Mode' should work just as good. From there you need to run Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which should clean up the majority of viruses with a simple scan. After a scan, Malwarebytes will ask you to restart the computer; do so and then run Malwarebytes again in normal mode. This should clean out the majority of viruses in your computer, If this doesn't work I can only advise calling a local technician to do the cleanup for you.

Once your computer is cleaned you will need an active anti-virus agent, and of the ones I listed above should work equally well. I always suggest either AVG of Avast merely because of the cost(FREE!), but if you have a preferred system and don't mind the cost McAffee and Norton work just as well.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Sept 29th

This morning went much better, I ended up going to my classes today; Most of them are preparing us for our first set of exams for the semester. My appointment for that day that followed shortly after classes was another quick and easy fix. Apparently there was a disconnect between their OS and their browser when it came to choosing an email program. On Windows XPsp3 this error will occur and will cause the 'get mail' button on the browser to not open up -any- email program.

The solution is to right click on the start menu and choose properties, from there choose the menu format you want to edit(standard by default) and click customize. From there all you need to do is select the default mail program from the drop down menu.
**This needs to be done even if it has the proper client selected already**

From there you need to do the same thing with your web browser by selecting Tools>Options>Programs tab. There should be another drop down menu for email here that can be used to select the default email program. After this is done the button should act properly and will pull up the e-mail client as it is supposed to.

This info is thanks to: The Win Help Online Blog

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday Sept 28th

I called in sick today; waking up at 5am with severe stomach cramps will do that to you. Luckily I had only one appointment today so I was able to get it covered without trouble. I hope the appointment went alright for my co-worker.

Sometimes the appointments can drag on for hours and other times they take less than 10 minutes. One appointment I had yesterday was with a gentleman that couldn't see images in his email program. After about 5 minutes I found that he had hit the shortcut to turn images into raw code. I was able to set it back and explained to him how the shortcut worked. It literally took me 10 minutes total to do all this and head onto my next client.

 Tomorrow is promising to be a stressful day, with an exam in one of my classes and then an appointment with "can't receive emails" as the comment line. Normally email problems are easy, but I have a feeling tomorrow will be different.

Until then,