Archive for October, 2011

Geek Housecalls reveals an easy trick that could save you a small fortune on your next computer repair

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Here’s a simple trick to save money and aggravation the next time you have computer problemsDon’t wait!

“Don’t wait” What? That’s it?  How does that save money? In fact, what does that even mean??

fast computer repair

Acting quickly to solve computer problems can make the difference between a free ride or an expensive repair!

Okay, here’s the scoop… Pretty much on a daily basis, your computer updates itself.  Programs like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox,  AOL, Microsoft Office, Java, Adobe Reader, Flash, and more – all sorts of programs running the gamut from games to email to photo software to antivirus,  and of course  including Microsoft Windows itself, all have built-in updaters that go online periodically and automatically download and install the latest tweaks, patches, and updates for your computer and the programs on it.

Getting the latest updates is usually a good thing and is highly recommended by geeks the world over.  These updates perform important functions like plugging security holes, enhancing functionality, and fixing bugs,  but there’s a hidden risk to updates that can cost you plenty if you wait too long to fix a problem.

system restore image

Solving computer problems can be as simple as choosing a system restore point prior tto the onset of the problem.

Let’s start with the basic premise that 80% of computer problems can be solved immediately after they first occur thanks to the built-in System Restore tool that has been a standard feature of Windows since Millennium Edition and is included in Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. I’m not going to go into detail about what System Restore is, or how it works, but suffice it to say, it is a quick, simple, and often effective first approach to solving problems ranging from virus and malware infections to driver glitches and corruption, to inexplicable errors or loss of functionality.  Mind you, System Restore is far from perfect, but for the average home pc user, it can often make the difference between a free self-repair and a costly professional repair.

But besides being aware of system restore or knowing how to use it, there is again, this matter of timing.  When you address a problem immediately (immediately by my standards being within hours or days, definitely not weeks or months), you are far more likely to see that problem simply solved as it has not had the chance to become buried under layers of updates and changes (ah yes… that’s why the explanation about automatic updates earlier!) that can complicate or even aggravate the issue making it a bigger problem than when it first occurred. As a professional geek,  I can tell you from personal experience with thousands of customer computers, that I can look at a job description and have a fair idea of how complex the issue is and how long it will take to resolve, but when I ask the customer how long they’ve had the problem and they reply “oh, a month or two” all bets are off.

So in conclusion, the lesson to take away here is that the quickest, least expensive and least aggravating, as well as voted-most-likely-to-succeed approach to take when you have a computer problem is DON’T WAIT!  Whether you plan to tackle the fix yourself or plan on hiring a professional, act within hours or at most, a day or two, and chances are your issue will be resolved more quickly, painlessly, and at minimum cost.

_______________ o ________________

WAS THIS ARTICLE HELPFUL? PLEASE SCROLL DOWN AND LEAVE A COMMENT!

_______________ o ________________

geek housecallsThis article was written by Andy Trask, Head Geek at Geek Housecalls, the New England area’s original traveling computer geeks, on the web at www.geekhousecalls.com. Geek Housecalls specializes in “anything computer” and, since 2001, has become the trusted in-home computer and technology support provider for over 15,000 families and small business computer users in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire. For help with your computers, gadgets, or network at home or at the office, click here to contact Geek Housecalls via the web, or call toll free:

1-877-4PC-GEEK             (1-877-472-4335)

 

Where have all the toolbars gone? Latest versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox feature minimalist layout.

Saturday, October 1st, 2011
home computer service by geek housecalls

OMG These %&^*## toolbars are driving me %&^*## batty!

There was a time not long past when toolbars ran rampant across the browser landscape, showing up uninvited and urging you to search from any of a dozen different search engines or enticing you to head off into surfland with snippets of juicy headlines,  not to mention offering endless links to everything from shopping coupons to airline travel to alerts of upcoming weather. Those were the days when people were either totally infuriated by the seemingly endless browser encroachment, or worse yet, didn’t even seem to notice the accumulation of toolbar and searchbar clutter across the top of their web browsers. And when helping our customers, it was typical for us geeks to point out the various toolbars and ask “do you use this?” or “did you install this?” and the customer would say “oh no. that just showed up one day.”  Or, especially in multiuser environments like shared family computers, we’d find that each user thought one of the other users installed  it. The bottom line though, is that toolbar accumulation was a nuisance that ate up valuable screen space that left users with a shrunken area for viewing websites which generally equated to more scrolling and less enjoyment.

Enter the latest editions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (version 9) and Mozilla Firefox (version 7).  Both web browsers offer users the usual unassuming “time to do the upgrades” kind of messages that then launches the installation of the latest version, but what users don’t expect is that after the installation, they are left looking at a practically barren screen.

 

new internet explorer 9 screen layout features minimal tool options

Internet Explorer 9 directly after installation offers a sparse, mostly tool-free landscape (click for full-screen view)

By default, both browsers now hide all toolbars and menu bars leaving the user to wonder where they went.  The only obvious options besides the address bar and tabs (now crammed into a single bar across the top) are forward and backward navigation buttons, a home button, a favorites button (bookmarks in FF) which, in case you’re scratching your head trying to find that little star icon, has been moved from the left side of the screen to the far right side of the screen, and in the case of IE, a gear-shaped icon called Tools.  The biggest change for most users, especially advanced users who may have been comfortable configuring tools and options themselves is that they now find missing the familiar “File Edit View Favorites Tools Help” menu bar that was previously used to access any configurable part of their web browser or browser options.

The good news for most users, particularly those who were being smothered and didn’t know what to do about uninvited and unwanted toolbars, is that those annoying screen real-estate hogs just plain go away (at least from view, they’re not actually uninstalled, that’s a completely different subject), and as a result those users are suddenly seeing entire web pages without having to scroll around to get at off-screen content.

file edit view favorites tools help

The old familiar menu bar is available by clicking the ALT key

And the good news  for users who want more, and yearn for access to the old menus and options, pressing the ALT key while in either IE or FF will magically open the old familiar menu bar temporararily so any configuration changes you wish to make, including making the menu bar permanently display, are available for the taking.

In summary, while some may bemoan the forced changing of the browser layouts with laments like “why do they have to decide what I should see or not see?”, Most will find that within a matter of days, the new skinnier layout will become comfortable, and you’ll barely notice that you no longer have a search bar begging you to click for the latest gossip about Charlie Sheen or Lady Gaga. But if you do miss all that clutter, never fear, with your trusty ALT key by your side, all those menus, toolbars, and other junk are just a keystroke or two away.

 

_______________ o ________________

WAS THIS ARTICLE HELPFUL? PLEASE SCROLL DOWN AND LEAVE A COMMENT!

_______________ o ________________

geek housecallsThis article was written by Andy Trask, Head Geek at Geek Housecalls, the New England area’s original traveling computer geeks, on the web at www.geekhousecalls.com. Geek Housecalls specializes in “anything computer” and, since 2001, has become the trusted in-home computer and technology support provider for over 15,000 families and small business computer users in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire. For help with your computers, gadgets, or network at home or at the office, click here to contact Geek Housecalls via the web, or call toll free:

1-877-4PC-GEEK             (1-877-472-4335)