Archive for April, 2008

Product Choice Getting Stupid

Posted on April 25, 2008. Filed under: Hardware, Software | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

I like the Sandisk Cruzer 8GB USB drive a lot. A real lot.

The thing is that Sandisk currently offers 11 different models of USB flash drives and there are several different capacities within each model. I recommend the SanDisk Cruzer® Micro USB Flash Drive family of products to my clients and often when they are interested in getting on I pop onto the Internet and find a big box retailer that is offering them for sale, often at a big box retailer.

The problem is…Too much choice.

Recently I had an opportunity to “help” a client and because none of the SanDisk Cruzer® Micro USB Flash Drive that I generally recommend were on sale so I recommended the SanDisk Cruzer® Micro Skin USB Flash Drive instead.

A problem arose out of this recommendation. Though the two products are from the same manufacturer the software that comes with them is different. Specificaly the Micro Skin drive does not come with any software at all! If you look at Sandisk’s site they say it does come with some backup software that is actually different than the Micro drive and to add insult to injury there was none actually on it even though the web site marketing material says there is a trial copy of a back up software on the drive.

This was obviously a problem for my client and an embarrasement for me. I made an assumption about a product based on the idea that it was a product family and would have the same software as my Micro drive (which I love) and it did not.

The good new is that as far as I was concerned I was going to get that drive up and running even though I did suggest that the client return it and source a Micro model instead of a Micro Skin model. Once you recommend something you should stand behind it or work diligently to resolve the issue.

So my intention to help actually became a hinderance to my client and my client was very good to work with me for a resolution. I did a courtesy visit, downloaded the trial version of the U3 Smart program and installed it and trained her on its use for back ups and now she is up and running.

Though my client will have to buy the version of U3 Smart program we have installed on the drive she is now backing up key documents and gaining the security of having those back ups.

There are several morals to this story:

  • Do more thorough research before recommending.
  • Do not assume a product family is related in features offered!
  • Stand behind what you recommend.
  • Work diligently with the client to resolve the issue. Give them realistic options on either using what they have or obtaining what they really need.
  • Build your business on good customers. Things happen and the clients that value you will work with you.
  • SanDisk needs to rationalize their product offerings and be consistent with the specifications.

I certainly am thankful for having good clients!

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Windows XP Service Pack 3 Release Date Set

Posted on April 22, 2008. Filed under: Service Bulletin, Software | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Windows XP Service Pack 3 release date set:

On April 29, 2008 Windows SP3 will be released. As was noted in a previous post, Windows XP SP3 is released. For those of you that want to get familiar with the installation process here is a slide show for you at this link.

I will be reviewing the installation details and updating any issues and sending out a service alert to my customers so that they can deploy this release as easily as possible. The initial download is small at around 70 MB and the patch expands to about 580 MB and takes about an hour on a 1.5GHz Athlon system with 1GB of RAM.

Will update as more information becomes available.

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Microsoft Outlook Express Support Ending

Posted on April 22, 2008. Filed under: Service Bulletin, Software | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Please be advised that Microsoft is ending its support for Microsoft Outlook Express and if you are a Hotmail customer you may be affected. Outlook Express is the free email client that came with Windows XP. One of the functions this email client (program) allowed was if you had a Microsoft Hotmail account you could set up Outlook Express to receive your Hotmail emails into Outlook Express.

Who is Affected?

Any person using a,, Bell Sympatico or other Microsoft affiliated email service who is using Microsoft Outlook Express email program in Windows XP SP 2 and Vista to access their email.

How Do I Tell What Email Program I am Using?

  • If you click on a short cut or program icon that says Outlook Express.
  • If you open an email program to get your Hotmail email and select Help, About there should be a dialogue box telling you are using Outlook Express version X.x.

Read more… to find out more.


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An Example of the Depth of Service Offered

Posted on April 19, 2008. Filed under: Consulting, Hardware, Software | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

One of the problems with “break and fix” computer services is they do just that… They come in and fix your computer and leave. They do not get to know you and your specific needs and problems. They cannot or will not apply their knowledge to your specific circumstances and often they sell hardware and software so you may be uncertain to their motivations.

As a consultant I represent you. I get to know you and learn about your specific environment. I do my best to understand your personal needs and challenges over a wide range of issues. I try to get the best product or solution at the best price. I do not sell hardware or software – I recommend it and I want my customers to have good service from it. Sure, I do tend to tier 1 products but they are tier 1 because they work and are more readily supported after the integration in your home.

Below is one such example. The client has a computer that does not have a licensed copy of Windows XP. This has an impact to their enjoyment and reliable use of their computer. So, what ARE their options…

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Deciding Between Webmail and an Email Program

Posted on April 19, 2008. Filed under: Software | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Email Programs: An Overview

Click on the link to get some information about email and webmail programs. The choices of providers of webmail are plenty and this article helps you decide which main method of accessing your email is right for you.

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Best Practices: Desktop Computers

Posted on April 17, 2008. Filed under: Hardware, Software | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The following document is a draft of a “Best Practices” schematic for a home user. It is focused on a home-based business but many of the items regarding back ups and hardware considerations and maintenance apply to all users. Feel free to download and distribute it to your friends and colleagues.

Most of the document applies to laptops too.


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Hardware Acquisitions for Clients

Posted on April 17, 2008. Filed under: Hardware | Tags: , , , , , |

Reliant PC Consulting is growing…

I have acquired a TrendNet wireless G router and USB Wireless adapter for troubleshooting and proof of concept installations.

What does this mean?

  • It means that if you have a router and it fails I can come to your location and configure this 4 port router to support you while we source a replacement.
  • I can troubleshoot connectivity problems and prove if it is your existing router that is the problem.
  • We can test the router to see what the range is like if you plan to install a wireless router.
  • We can do a prototype network installation if you want to have more than one computer on the Internet.

Feel free to call me and set up an appointment for any of these new services.

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Panda Antivirus Resolution

Posted on April 14, 2008. Filed under: Software | Tags: |

It can be found here…

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Panda 2008 Problem

Posted on April 14, 2008. Filed under: Service Alert, Software | Tags: |

I sent the following email out to my clients about an interesting issue with Panda Antivirus 2008. Anyone finding a resolution please comment on this blog please.


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Windows XP Service Pack 3 in Beta Mode

Posted on April 5, 2008. Filed under: Software | Tags: , , , , |

Overview of Windows XP Service Pack 3

Microsoft is going to release a Service Pack for Windows XP in the future. In summary, a service pack or update is a significant upgrade to the security and functionality of a program or operating system. Most home computers, if they have been using the Window Update feature of the Windows XP operating system, will be upgraged (or patched) to Windows XP SP2. With a new service pack soon to be released an overview of the process is in order.


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