Category Archives: Everything Computers

People who should not be computer techs: Exhibit A.

This particular customer bought a memory upgrade for her computer. It didn’t work, and she contacted us for a warranty exchange. Fair enough, and no problem, that’s why we have a warranty policy. We set up all paper work and send her a replacement. So far so good.

Except the replacement memory isn’t working either. And it’s not working in exactly the same way the first one was not working: Whenever it is installed, the computer refuses to power on.

I express my sympathies and apologize for the hassle, and we start troubleshooting and reseating parts. The last part is a bit of a challenge, since the lady in question has never installed memory before, she paid a computer tech to come out and do it for her the first time. But she is a fast learner and good at following instructions, and we chit-chat off and on as she attempts to reach in behind the snake pit of wires inside her Pavilion computer to get to the memory slots. She eventually does, and we manage to get the memory correctly seated in the slot, and start up the computer. Or rather, we try to — nothing happens.

As we work on removing the memory, to prepare for the next troubleshooting step, the customer again comments that this is exactly how the first memory behaved as well. I try, as discretely as possible, to hint that perhaps the memory was not correctly installed, since that could cause the comptuer not to POST, but she doesn’t think so. The reason she doesn’t, is that she paid a computer tech to come out to work on that first memory module. The computer started, but didn’t recognize the new memory, so she had innocently suggested that the memory might not be installed right. To prove to her that it was installed correctly, the tech reached into the case and removed the memory and showed her how to install it, to prove that it had been done right the first time. Without turning off the computer first.

I almost managed to hit “mute” before I choked on my coffee. Almost.

When I’m done coughing and I can breathe again, I hear the customer on the other end, confused, “Hello? Are you still there? Hello?”

I assure her that I am still on the line, and apologize for my sudden silence. I then spend the next minute or so desperately groping for words that won’t get me in trouble with the supervisor that sits at the desk next to mine, but eventually I am forced to once again apologize for staying silent. This time I felt compelled to add the explanation that I was a little bit stunned, and searching for words.

I eventually manged to find a polite and kind way of suggesting to the lady on the phone that she should seriously consider hiring a technician from another store next time, and that we needed to power off her computer and take the new memory out right away, before more damage was done. I then moved on to explain, as gently as I could, the consequences of removing or inserting components into a motherbord while it is powered on, and promised that we would send a UPS driver to her house to pick up the replacement memory if she wanted to return everything for a full refund.

She said she would take her computer to another store and have them look at it before she decided, and then the very charming and well-mannered lady went into a fuming angry rant about how the first technician owed her a refund. Now that I am no longer being recorded by work, I can openly say that I fully agree with her.

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Another one bites the dust …

A person I really enjoyed working with was fired today. It was completely unexpected, some of the others say it was unfair, but when it’s all said and done the bottom line is that one of the very few co-workers who was on the same wavelength as me is now gone.

There are, of course rumors, speculation, and all sorts of gossip, but I don’t particularly pay attention. He stopped at my desk on the way out and said goodbye, and I said I was sorry to see him go, and wished him good luck.

Not only did work just become considerably more difficult… it also just became a lot more boring.

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Filed under Everything Computers, Sanity Break

“Computer techs” that give the rest of us a bad name…

So early last week one of my co-workers, B, comes up to me and wants to know if I have a moment. She wants to run a computer problem by me for a second opinion, to help her sister out. Sure. Talk is cheap, so since we’re both on break I start asking for details.

B tells me her sister has a laptop that is her life-line to the world. She takes online classes while desperately looking for work, and she can’t do either without a working computer, so B is trying to help her get the laptop fixed as soon as possible, without it being too expensive, since it’s refusing to boot. The sister is on a borrowed netbook for now, so she can get her classes done, but that is obviously not a good long term solution. Continue reading

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New “Disable Avira Nag Screen” Blog

Since my original post on how to disable the extremely annoying advertisement for Avira AntiVir remains the most popular blog post of all time for me (Google still sends people to it every day), I’ve updated it. The initial procedure described a method that did not work in the latest free version of Avira AntiVir, but after some research I did find a new process that does. The original blog post has been updated, and you can find it here.

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Account Protection 101

I can’t even remember the last time I went a week without seeing at least two or three posts in one of the many forums I frequent about a “hacked” email or game account, that has led to all sorts of problems for the person. And it is a problem. If you have spent $500 buying games on your Steam account, and someone takes over and kicks you out, then in addition to losing your account and your games, you have also lost your money. It would be a very unpleasant situation to be in.

It becomes all the more unpleasant the moment you realize just how easy it would have been to avoid it, and that it’s indirectly your own fault that this happened because you simply weren’t careful enough. Even worse, now that you know how easy it was to prevent it from happening, you feel like an idiot.

If you do know already, this blog is not for you. This is for everyone who wants to know the basics of how to keep their accounts safe, so phishers and scammers can’t get to them.
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HOW TO: “Day of the Tentacle” on Windows 7

Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle came out in 1993, making it just one year shy of voting and joining the military this spring. It is a classic, in more ways than one, and is considered by many of its fans to have set the golden standard for how to make a good adventure game. Its sense of humor is outrageous, its puzzles of course unforgettable, and it has one of the coolest looking villains of all time: The Purple Tentacle!

So, how do you make a 17 years old game run on Windows 7? Very easily, as it turns out. Read on. Continue reading

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The Mystery of the Missing Megabytes

Since I was bored tonight anyway, I figured I might as well take this opportunity to clarify one of the more weird and strange computer behaviors out there: The seemingly unexplainable loss of hard drive space, that seems to grow bigger and bigger, the larger your hard drive is. Continue reading

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Filed under Everything Computers, General Geekness