Monday, March 31, 2008

Safe Mode What, When and How

Occasionally you may have problems that you cannot work on in a safe and workable environment. There could be many reasons for this issue. It may be that some of you hardware has conflicted with each other and is causing to many issues. It also could be that you have so many items loading at your system startup your computer is to slow. At the same time another common problem is you are infected with various Virus, Trojan, Malware or Spyware infections. To answer these issues Microsoft has installed a troubleshooting section of Windows in their operating system called Safe Mode.

The easiest and most effective way to reach this diagnostic part of Windows is to totally shut your computer down. Once it is shut down, press the power button to load it. When you turn your power key on the first screen is the Bios screen. The Bios is a hardware chip on the Mother Board of your computer. It give your system preselected option to start up your system. This is called the Post. After the Post, your screen goes black for a minute. As soon as it turns black you must press F8 on your keyboard. This bypass's a normal Windows load. This will allow you to enter the advanced Boot Menu. For these purposes you are only concerned with two options. One is SAFE MODE, and one is SAFE MODE WITH NETWORK SUPPORT.

Safe Mode will load Windows with only the most minimal drivers needed by Windows to run. Safe Mode With Network Support, loads Windows with minimal driver support, plus a network card. Meaning you will have Internet Access. In many cases the option with Network Support will fail. This is worth a good try though. Regardless of whether you have Network Support or not Safe Mode usually is an effective way to un-install programs and disable startup options.

Another great feature of Windows Safe Mode is that it will allow you to enter the computer as Administrator User. As long as you have the password for the Administration Mode this is preferred. In addition to being the Super User on your computer, often this will load a separate User Profile that will load minimal programs and options. Once you have entered Safe Mode you can do almost anything you would in Windows without most interference.

Do not be alarmed your sound will not work, your Ipod, your printer and many other devices. While troubleshooting your computer it is better they do not. From this diagnostic option you can remove programs, remove startup options, disable services and work in the registry. This is only to be considered by someone who knows what they are doing. However for the laymen out there you will be able to Un-install offending programs. You also can run your Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware programs. If you do use SAFE MODE WITH NETWORKING SUPPORT, you can connect to the Internet for help or to download helpful programs. When you are done with Safe Mode you can restart your computer manually.

Safe Mode will help you diagnose and fix your computer in many cases. If your Windows cannot enter Safe Mode then more than likely you either need to hire a technician or consider reloading your system. Otherwise you have found a tool that can use that is liable to make your browsing experience, and computer experience much more enjoyable.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mistakes Made By Technicians and Consultants

If you are a Technical Support Professional or a Consulting Company the rules are the same. No matter what part of the computer industry you are in, customer service is the number one goal. Yes your job is about solving computer problems, but you must remember the customer at all times. If you are savvy at all you can quickly decide how much computer knowledge your customer has. You must never assume that what seems simple to you is common knowledge to a customer.

We live in an uncommon era where older adults and younger adults are divided by one simple fact. If you are under the age of 40, you grew up with emerging technology and many of you have gotten quite good at it. If you are under 25 you grew up in the middle of a technology revolution. Computers are almost second hand to your generation. Many of the tasks some find daunting may come easily to you. Most of the average Forty Year old and up adults in our world, found dramatic changes in their life around the mid 1990's. All of a sudden computers had taken over their lower technology world.

I do not mean to sound derogatory in the slightest. The world may not have had as much technology but the people over 40 trying to learn this technology are just as smart if not smarter than you. Anytime we are faced with products that are new there is a break-in period. Anytime we are faced with a product that changes every other year there is a break-in period. Anytime we are faced with a group of products(Microsoft) that seems to be full of bugs the break-in period can be daunting. In addition you have to think of all the people whom for whatever reason are maliciously hurting computer systems.

So the mistakes may seem to be evident now. However I will review them. Technicians and Consulting Companies are guilty of assuming that the end user has what they feel is common knowledge. Many users are not comfortable with computers. They have learned certain niches about their computer systems. Outside of these comfort areas on their systems many do not travel. When something happens that breaks the functionality of their computer many also panic. You have to realize they know that their business, financial and personal data is at risk. What seems easy to you may drive them up the wall. This is a major mistake many technicians make. To make matters worse they tend to make the customer feel inferior. Would you want to pay someone that made you feel inferior?

Another common mistake that is made by the technical savvy is that they take customers for granted. Doubting your customers brain power because they are computer inept is a major mistake. This also perceived as very insulting.

It is a simple fact we all make mistakes. I have made these mistakes and you may have also. By remembering to be personable and respectful you will gain the respect of your clients. In addition there is one tip that I find to be one of the most important.

By training your customers as you support them, you will make more money. You may dispute this, however more complicated problems can be addressed if the user can troubleshoot the small ones. Many companies maximize their brand of support by cleaning startup programs and computer infections. Sometimes this is a necessary evil. However the less you have to do the monotonous troubleshooting you will find your profit margin raising.

Recovering Your Windows Vista Admin Password

There is nothing worse than losing your password. You should always right it down and keep it in a safe place. However we are human and can make mistakes like no other. With Windows Vista it is actually pretty easy to recover your password. You will need two things, some time and the Windows Vista Disk that has come with your computer.

You will need to place the Vista Disk into your CD-Rom drive. Then reboot your computer. You are waiting for a message upon boot that says “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD” . You will receive a message telling you that it is loading and will install Windows Vista. Do not be alarmed you should not lose your data. The first screen will ask you the appropriate language to install. You want to choose English or your native language. Then press Next. Then it will ask you your time and currency format. Then press Next. Upon pressing Next you will be asked for your Keyboard or Input method. Then Press Next.

You will want to choose the option that says “Repair Your Computer“ Select the Operating System you would like to repair and click Next. However on some systems you will alternatively be asked if you would like to install or use System Restore. If this happens choose System Restore and click Next. This final page will give you about 4 dates for a Restore Point. What your looking for is the last date that you remember your password. If that date is not in the list you will choose the help button. You are then brought to some options and one of them will be “Restore Options Older Than 5 Days”.

You will choose this option if your date was not among the 4. This should bring you to almost a calendar where you can choose the day with the nearest restore point to when you remember your password. Once choosing this Restore Point you will be asked if you are sure and you will click Next. Once again you do not have to worry. You will not lose your data. Windows will automatically begin restoring files that have been deleted or changed since this Restore Point, including your password file. This process time will vary depending on how long ago the Restore Point you choose is.

Once this process is completed you will receive a confirmation, and will want to reboot your computer. Once you have booted into Windows you should be able to login using the password from the time of the Restore Point you chose. If this did not fix your issue, you will want to repeat this whole document, choosing a more accurate Restore Point.

After you have been able to login to Windows you will need to change your Administrator password. You will also need to write the password down and store it in a safe place.

Email Client Information for Any User

In the technical support industry it is often a poor support model to get in the habit of just doing something for a customer. When it is a technical task they will never have to do, that is one thing. However there are many tasks in a computer environment every day users will have to do at some point. Adding your email address to Outlook, Outlook Express or another email program will be something you have to to do at some point.

First of all an external email client or program allows you to download your Internet email to your computer. You can think of an email client as the manager of your email. In order for you to add your email account into this manager you will need some important information.

Your email address and the form of your username, full email address or the part just before the @

Your password

Your email server information including any settings your email provider has

There are two main types of email servers you will have with your provider. The first is the most widely used and it is called a POP3 server. Most Internet Email providers use a POP server. The second is IMAP, Gmail is one provider that uses an IMAP server. The difference is with a POP Email Server your mail is downloaded directly to your computer. With IMAP your Email account is actually connected directly to your Email Server and folders are sychronized on the server side.

This is not a discussion as to which type is more or less efficient. Chances are you are using a POP Server. To obtain the specific email information you need you can go to your Email Providers website. For most everyone your Email Provider is the same company that offers you your Internet. More than likely you already have your Username and Password. The information you will need to obtain is the POP Email Server address and the SMTP Email Server Address and any settings you need to set. By default, certain settings are already chosen for you. These will work fine unless specified by your Email Provider.

The SMTP(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is what you use when you send your mail. POP3 is what you use when you receive your mail. The default port for sending mail is port 25. Many mail providers block port 25 on their servers. This is a common problem that is easy to solve. For instance if you have a work Email Address that uses a work Email Server and your Internet provider blocks port 25. You can use your Internet providers SMTP server address to send your mail.

Setting up Email is easier than it may look. I tried to keep this document clear, simple and concise. By reading this you can become somewhat more familiar with your Email and what all the information means. This will allow you to have a better understanding when talking to support professionals. It may also allow you to enter the information yourself without someone doing it for you.

Friday, March 28, 2008

My personal views on internet filtering is that it is bogus, does not work very well and is often a waste of time. However having said that I must tell you that if you are going to buy an internet filter at all, please buy directly from the manufacturer of the product. is one of thousands of companies that has bought reseller writes to an internet filter. At the time I worked with them they were reselling the Netsweeper internet filter.

I don't want to get into high detail but let me just set say that they are promoting Christian Internet filtering. I worked for them on their old website and through numerous changes nearly everyday there was a bill left when they suddenly got frustrated and chose another developer.

This Christian based company promotes safe family Web Browsing, yet they are unable or do not want to pay their bills.

People do not seem to understand, when you are in the technical industry, you work for them and try to give them what they want. If you spend over, lets say 100 hours working for them and changing things. When they are not satisfied when you give them what they ask for, they still owe you for the hours you worked.

Out of desperation I even tried to credit a certain amount of hours so that I could be paid some. I am suspect of a Christian company that cheats the people it contracts.

Anyway any company that sells internet filtering, make sure if you are planning to buy, they are the manufacturer of the product.

When Hiring A Telecommuter

This topic relates to the computer field more than any other. This is an article I wrote last week, that I felt I should add.

Everywhere you may find guides on finding a Telecommute job. It is unfortunate though for the business that wishes to hire a remote professional there is very little help. For some companies hiring a remote professional could be of high importance. There is certain information that you must verify before hiring anyone to work for you in your business. These same rules apply when hiring someone to work on a telecommuting basis.

In the interview process you need to make sure they have a complete understanding of the job they are applying for. Requesting a resume and verifying the information on it. This will do several things, it will allow you to verify their credentials. You can verify their employment and match the experience they have against what you need. You will also need references, this can say a lot towards the character of a candidate.

After verifying they have the skill set and integrity for the job. Next you will want to know they can complete the job properly. A successful telecommuter will have a complete home office in a quite environment. Essential items in a successful home office are a dedicated phone line, a fax machine, a printer, and a backup system in place for their computing environment. In todays day and age any successful telecommuter will have a broadband connection for Internet browsing. A dial up connection just will not offer the speed you need for working.

After choosing a candidate for working remotely you will need certain documents that will protect you and your company. A Non Disclosure agreement basically states that any person in communication with your business will not divulge sensitive information. These agreements are readily found all over the Internet in a blanket form. You can easily edit it to match your specific situation. You may also wish to have an employee sign a Non Compete agreement. I am not a fan of Non Compete but it may be essential in your situation. Often in a Non Disclosure agreement there is a Non Compete clause that has a specified time limit. Non Compete essentially means that any individual will not enter into a business that matches yours and compete for customers for a certain amount of time. Another essential document you need is a copy of any individuals Drivers License or ID.

One of the final things you will need to decide is what kind of employee you will have. You may be paying them as a contractor where they pay the taxes. Or you may decide to hire them as an employee where you are holding taxes back. Also How will you pay them? By check, through Paypal, by Direct Deposit or by bank transfer.

Hiring a telecommuter can bring productivity to your operation and projects. However it is not something you should do lightly. By collecting all of the information you need and knowing what venture you are about to undertake you protect yourself. If things work the way they should you have gained a valuable employee. On the other hand if things do not occur in a positive way, you have protected yourself.

Force Word 2007 to Single Space

The newer Office 2007-2008 package that has been released this year overall is a good product. However it has brought some changes, many of them unwelcome to the customer. In particular on of the new changes is the default Style Set in Word 2007. This has caused some interesting changes. For some reason Microsoft would have us believe that a double spaced document is more pleasing and easier to read.

Without going into a debate on that topic lets just say that this will be an unwelcome change to many people. As an everyday user you will also be very discouraged when trying to go to the help menu because there is no actual information as to how to single space the document. When you actually use the tool-bar and try to choose single spacing or changing the spacing number from 1.5/2 to 1 this still will not work.

An Internet Search unless you know what to look for will also discourage you. After all, you just want to be able to type your document and be left alone. Finally you might find the solution buried in the depths of Microsoft KB articles. Luckily someone has already done the ground work. Word 2007 does allow you to change the default Style you are using back to the comfortable Word 2003 format.

You will close any open document you have. Then you will click the home tab. This tab is located at the top of the screen when you are in Word 2007. When this menu has been opened, you want to Change Styles. This button is located in the Styles Group. At this point use your mouse to click on the Styles set. In this box you want to look for Word 2003. This is the style that you want to use. Make sure the button that says choose this as the default style is checked. Once you click Word 2003 this menu will close out.

At this point you should be able to type your document with the single spacing that you remembered well. The original Knowledge Base article for this fix is located at

This document also gives you some other brief information regarding parallels between the Styles in Word 2007 and Word 2003 depending on the language version you are using of the program. In addition it is always a good idea to bookmark this page. You can use the search box to find other Microsoft related issues.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Common Mistakes Made By Web Companies

One of the biggest mistakes made with any online company, is not following through with the services and products they offer on their website. For instance, when you provide a software, its a simple notion that you have to provide documentation for the software that matches its performance. This also means the software has to perform just like you say it will. The same applies for any service you provide. A mistake that is made time and time again by many companies is not updating the content of their website, or the documentation of their products.

When customers purchase a product from a web company, it is the same as any other binding contract. Companies that do not follow through are obliged to refund any purchases they do not honor. For a dose of common sense, realize this is a direct violation of any business model.