National Do Not Call List Instructions

Posted on October 23, 2008. Filed under: General | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Step 1

Click here to go the the English site and the main registration page.

Step 2

Enter your phone number and click Continue.

Step 3

Enter in the green lettered captcha code, in this example PEPHP, and click Check Registration.

Step 4

Review verification results. In this example the expiration date is in 3 years.

You are done!

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It is not so…

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

…easy to understand PC warranty.

If you own a computer with any Microsoft product pre-installed on it usually you are recommended to go to the OEM for support on the Microsoft product. It even says so here:

If your Microsoft product was installed on your computer when you purchased it, the computer manufacturer is your primary source of technical support.

In the case of Vista this is patently NOT the case. The moment you mention Vista to a Dell tech support technician they won’t support you unless you are willing to pay an incident fee. If not they direct you to call Microsoft. Support for Vista Service Pack 1 is currently free (and was very good and thorough) but there is a disconnect between what Microsoft says and Dell:

Dell’s limited hardware warranty does not cover:

  • Software, including the operating system and software added to the Dell-branded hardware products through our factory-integration system, third-party software, or the reloading of software

This issue hi-lights one of my pet peeves with the PC industry. Just who is responsible for software support? As far as I am concerned if a PC manufacturer REQUIRES an OEM licensed copy of the operating system to be installed in the computer you own then they have a responsibility to support it. The brand recognition is a Dell computer with Vista…not it is Vista on a Dell computer.

The end-user’s perception does not seperate the two entities and nor should it. But, if you call Dell and do not purchase additional support services they will only address what THEY determine to be hardware issues. If it is a Vista issue you get directed to their software support group and that support is fee based.

Luckily Vista Service Pack 1 issues are currently covered at no cost by Microsoft.

Remember though, there is an interaction between the hardware a computer manufacturer provides and operating system. If a manufacturer delineates a clear separation of these two areas of support there may be a tendancy for the manufacturer to “blame” the operating system and direct issues that clearly are related to the interaction of the two systems that make your computer work. Most end-users cannot delineate what and where the problem lies. They count of the manufacturer’s tech support to tell them and this knowledge could be leveraged by support to direct the client to other support options that may not be appropriate.

I have seen this before. In the days of DOS WordPerfect there were several technical problems related to printing and WordPerfect tech support would ALWAYS blame hardware when, in fact, it was the interaction of their program with video and printer drivers.

A good hardware and software vendor knows this and works with ALL parties involved to solve the end-user’s problem. The bad ones generally pass you off to another resource. After those resources are exhausted then they may help.

See this issue in context of Vista and Nvidia…

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How To Use CCleaner

Posted on July 10, 2008. Filed under: Software | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Click on the link for a PDF on how to use CCLeaner. The guide is designed for the average computer user.

 Click here> how-to-use-ccleaner

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You never know when…

Posted on May 20, 2008. Filed under: Consulting, Hardware, Software | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

…your computer may fail.

I had the privilege of having a client that was interested in best practices and I created a document for his use and today I got the call…the call that I am sure my clients dread to make.

‘My computer was making a funny noise and when I went to boot it up today nothing happened.’

The good news:

  • My client was backing up his valuable data regularly.
  • He has a laptop to fall back on.
  • We can get him running much sooner and with less hassle because he did what ALL users should do. Back up their data at the very least and their operating system if practicable.

If we had implemented the use of a Sandisk Cruzer USB drive he would be golden. But we had planned to do that in the near future but fate reared its ugly head and struck at an inopportune time. But with planning it is not as inopportune as it could have been.

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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.

best-practices

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Computer Memory Requirements: A view from the trenches

Posted on March 27, 2008. Filed under: Hardware | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

One of the common themes I am experiencing on service calls is computers without enough system memory or RAM. If you have an “entry” level PC with the following you may be experiencing slow performance:

  • Less than 512 MB RAM,
  • Shared or on-board Video which uses system RAM to render graphics.
  • Bloatware such as that which comes “free” with a new PC. Often the configuration out of the box has several, if not many, applets and programs running, by default, on start up that you never access or use.
  • Configuration utilities for video, sound and the like. In my experience most PC users simply set up those particular setting once and leave them alone. If so, why have a utility running at all?
  • Computer maintenance and driver download utilities. Sure, on a new PC run them (esp. if you have lots of RAM) but once the computer gets older than 2 years old consider deleting them. If the drivers are available it is often easier to simply download them at the manufacturer’s site or they are distributed in Windows XP and Vista updates (note: though in specific cases getting the driver from the mfg’s site is much preferred).
  • Anti Virus Programs: You need one. But their protection comes at a price. Usually in the use of system resources. Review not only its effectiveness but the cost in processing power you may incur if it is a resource hog.

The impact to the computer user is slower performance and on service calls this can translate into increased costs.

Personally the Kingston memory recommendationsfor XP and Vista are too low. From experience I am recommending a minimum of 1 GB for Windows XP for general computing and up to 4 GB (if supported) for gaming. With Vista 2 GB for general/laptop computing is a bare minimum and I recommend 4 GB for general computer use and as much as you can afford for gaming.

The main issue is to buy a computer with a memory upgrade path. Try to get one that has memory slots free so you can easily insert a memory SIMM later if your computer needs change.

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