Posts Tagged ‘computer repair’

Slow computer woes? You’re not alone…

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Why is my computer so slow?

This turtle is way cuter and way less aggravating than your slow computer!

This turtle is faster, cuter, and definitely less aggravating than your slow computer!

Ever sit waiting forever for a web page to open wonder why your PC is so %#@#@* sluggish?!

Slow computer performance is easily the #1 complaint voiced by home computer users everywhere and spans the entire range of PC brands and vintages, that is to say, it doesn’t matter what brand of PC you have, or how old it is, most home computer users experience performance slowdowns within six months of getting a new computer or having a system cleanup performed.  Talk about aggravating!  Here’s a little info about what may be going on and what you can do about it…

- click for full article here -

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)

 

Hurricane’s a-comin’ – Act now to prevent EXPEN$IVE damage to home computers and other high-tech stuff!

Friday, August 26th, 2011

In the category: Wait, what??

Is there possibly any angle on hurricane Irene that hasn’t already been thoroughly dragged out and beaten to death by the media? Why yes, yes there is…

Okay, pop quiz:  What is the most likely outcome of hurricane Irene that will have the biggest impact on the most people?  Flooding? Well, that could happen, but what about damage to lawn furniture? No wait, downed tree limbs! THAT will  happen to a lot of people right? (you’re getting warmer!)  Yes, downed tree limbs, and entire trees too, and invariably what do these hurtling hunks of hickory (and other species) drag down in their flight to Terra Firma? You got it!     POWER LINES!  (da da DAAAAAA!)

Dead computer joins statistics for hurricane Irene damage.

I can't believe I didn't take Geek Housecalls' advice and unplug this thing before the hurricane...

 

So let’s talk about your computers and other high-tech gadgets (like expensive flat screen TVs) for a minute… nothing like a sudden power outage to corrupt the file system on your hard drive rendering it unreadable, but that problem, usually easily recoverable by companies like Geek Housecalls, pales in comparison to the possible physical damage to your computers and other high-tech electronics from the surge that occurs when the power to entire neighborhoods is abruptly restored.  Sure, you might have a surge protector, even an expensive one that boasts some kind of product replacement insurance, but trust me -  In the unpredictable world of restoring power to the grid, your best protection against expensive damage is to have your most susceptible electronics off the grid (read: unplugged) until after power is reliably restored to your neighborhood. And by “reliably,” I mean don’t rush to plug everything back in at the first inkling of power. Give it a half hour or longer to make sure it’s going to stay on.

Okay so let’s review:

  1. Before the storm hits, say, saturday night before turning in for the night, unplug your expensive electronics.
  2. Don’t forget ‘expensive electronics’ is not limited to tvs and computers. Play it safe by also unplugging stereo systems, video game systems, and network routers.  Basically, anything that contains a microprocessor is more susceptible to surge damage than old-fashioned electric stuff like toasters and can openers (of course even though it probably is controlled by a microprocessor, I’m not going to advise you to unplug your refrigerator…)
  3. Don’t go crazy, you don’t need to disassemble your entire network and home entertainment wiring, just unplug the power cords.
  4. After the power comes back on, wait a while to make sure it’s going to stay on before plugging back in.
  5. And finally, don’t miss the opportunity while your kids aren’t under the spell of technology, to sit around the dining room table and have a good old-fashioned game of scrabble…

Oh yeah, and if the controls and digital display on your fridge go crazy after the power comes back on, don’t worry, usually rebooting the fridge will solve that problem. Just unplug it for a minute or two then plug it back in.  It will reboot, self test, and likely return to normal :)

_______________ 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)

 

Guess who just turned ten?! Geek Housecalls celebrates ten years with massive ice-cream giveaway! Are you ready to party?

Friday, August 12th, 2011
yum!!!!!

Friendly's colossal "Giant Crowd Pleaser" featuring 12 scoops of ice cream and 6 toppings is the perfect centerpiece for a Geek Housecalls ice cream party!

The geeks have grown up right in front of your eyes and now 2011 marks ten years of friendly in-home computer service by Geek Housecalls.  And what better way to celebrate a 10-year-old’s birthday than by giving away Friendly’s ice cream parties to our customers?  With made-for-many offerings like their 3-scoop Hunka Chunka PB Fudge Lava Cake Sundae,  5-scoop Caramel Fudge Brownie Sundae, and (get this!) TWELVE-scoop and 6-topping Giant Crowd Pleaser, it’s the perfect way to get a crowd of friends together to help us celebrate 10 years!

In July of 2001:Geek Housecalls was started by Andy Trask and Dave Ehlke in a tiny shoebox-sized office on Mass Ave in Lexington.

2001 geek housecalls website | computer service | computer repair | pc service | pc repair

The original Geek Housecalls website from 2001, complete with hastily scribbled Geek Housecalls logo.

At that time the idea of making housecalls to help people with their computers was rather unconventional, but not nearly as unconventional as proudly calling ourselves Geeks!  We started with a grass-roots marketing approach, posting flyers in local laundromats, donut shops, and pizza parlors that garnered us just over 100 customers in 2001.

want to take a hammer to your computer?

Early ads featured our well-known hammer dude smashing his computer in frustration.

In late 2002 and 2003: things were really starting to roll thanks to an article in Boston Business Journal that was enamored with the idea that calling yourself a geek maybe wasn’t a bad thing! As the article read, “these computer geeks are more like computer gods.”  During that time we also announced our 2,000th customer and in late 2003 were featured by Mass High Tech in an article titled:  Who you gonna call? Geek Housecalls!

In 2004: Positive press coverage of Geek Housecalls continued with two stories in the Boston Globe, one about Geek Housecalls’ role in the emerging in-home computer service industry, and the other, about retail giant Best Buy’s civil lawsuit attempting to force Geek Housecalls to change their name as they felt it infringed on their Geek Squad trademarks. The lawsuit was eventually settled with no change to the Geek Housecalls name, but with a requirement that Geek Housecalls must state on their web site: “Not to be confused with Geek Squad or Best Buy” (yes, you can see it on every page of our website just below the copyright notice.)

Geek Housecalls TV ad circa 2005

In 2005, Geek Housecalls expanded into the Rhode Island market offering our high-reputation in-home service to Rhode Island locals through our acquisition of Providence service provider Down City Systems, and in the same year, was chosen by Delta Dental of Rhode Island as the preferrred vendor to help local dentists get “up to speed” with the technology needed to move forward into the age of web-based billing and claims processing. Also in 2005, Geek Housecalls introduced onsite service for small businesses under the name Geek Officecalls.  As it turned out, we had been gaining a steady clientele of small business customers thanks to positive word-of-mouth referrals from many of our residential customers, and we felt the time was right to create a division that catered to the unique needs of small businesses.

Geek Housecalls customer 10,000

Geek Housecalls customer # 10,000, Erica Flynn is seen in this photo with her geek, Charlie Hoover, and Geek Housecalls founders Dave Ehlke (L) and Andy Trask (R)

In 2006: Geek Housecalls celebrated 10,000 customers with a free year of service to customer 10,000 and $250,000 worth of coupons isssued to existing customers.

In 2008, Geek Housecalls opened a carry-in computer service center located adjacent to our corporate headquarters and call center in Burlington, MA.  The carry-in service center has become a favorite for busy locals and passing commuters who don’t have time to stay home for a housecall and find it convenient to drop off their computers or laptops on the way to work and pick up on the way home at night.

In 2009 / 2010: the Geek Officecalls division of Geek Housecalls was overhauled with a name change to Geek Office Solutions,  and a dramatically improved menu of services that includes a team of IT professionals, a comprehensive Remote Help Desk and network Operations Center that simulates everything needed to support a large organization, and the introduction of our signature “Virtual IT Department” service to maintain your small business  IT infrastructure on an “all inclusive” fixed monthly fee basis.

Geek Housecalls carry-in computer service center

Geek Housecalls carry-in computer service center features flat-rate service prices and plenty of parking.

In 2011 and beyond:  In the ten years since that shoebox office in Lexington, Geek Housecalls has grown to serve over 15,000 customers in three states.  Likewise our service offerings have grown from simple in-home pc repair to cover all of our customers’ diverse needs such as Windows and Mac installation, troubleshooting and service, as well as wired and wireless networking, and personalized tutoring.  In recent years our offerings have been expanded further to cover gadget devices like the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and other smart phones, iPad, Tablet PCs, netbooks, gaming systems like Wii, PS3, and xBox, and home audio/visual systems hookups including Flat Screen TVs, Surround Sound, Blu-Ray DVD Players, and online services like Tivo and NetFlix . Our geeks have become skilled not only at making it all work smoothly together, but more importantly, have become skilled at helping customers learn how to get the most from their technologies whether Computer, laptop, tablet, smart phone, home entertainment system, or cloud application.

Geek Housecalls continues to offer the best of the best to residential and small business customers in eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and southern New Hampshire.  With Geeks on staff who have been with us for five years or more and some dating all the way back to the autumn of 2001, we are able to offer a level of steadfast maturity to customers who feel, frankly, a bit nervous about being serviced by the inexperienced kids offered by many competitors.  And so to the 15,000+ who have used Geek Housecalls, we say “Thank you!” and good luck with the contest, we hope you get some Ice Cream!  And to those of you who have not yet tried Geek Housecalls, now’s the time to find out just how good – and how friendly – computer service can be!

 

The Contest:

Between August 13th and October 1st, 2011, Geek Housecalls is choosing lucky winners to receive an Ice Cream Party for ten in the form of a $100 Friendly’s gift certificate (Gather your friends, that’s a lot of Ice Cream!).

How to Enter:

Customers who use Geek Housecalls during August and September of 2011 are automatically entered into the weekly gift certificate drawings.

No purchase is required to enter the drawings.  Residents of  Geek Housecalls’ service area may enter by sending their

  • name
  • mailing address
  • birthdate
  • email address
  • phone number

on a postcard addressed to:

Geek Housecalls 10-Year Anniversary
7 Cypress Dr
Burlington, MA 01803

Contestants must be 18 years or older by August 13, 2011 to be eligible to win prizes. Only one entry is allowed per person/household.

The Fine Print

Geek Housecalls is giving away Friendly’s gift certificates valued at $100 each. Geek Housecalls will draw winners at random from all eligible entrants.

Eligible entrants are those customers who use Geek Housecalls during the period from August 1, 2011 through the day preceding the drawing, or who send a mail-in entry that is received at the address stated above by the close of business on the day preceding the drawing.

The contest is closed to new entries after September 30, 2011. Mail-in entries received after 09/30/2011 are not eligible for prize drawings.

Winners will be notified via email and must respond by 12/31/2011 to claim their prize.

All decisions and results are final. No prize substitutions are permitted. Winners are responsible for any taxes. Odds of winning vary depending on the number of entries received and customers serviced during the contest period..

 

Your Home Internet Is Down. Is it You or Them?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

A sordid tale of brainwashing, intrigue, and woe.

Does this sound familiar? The workday is over, dinner is cleared, and now for a little “me” time – time to relax, go online, and catch up on emails, chat with friends on facebook, or maybe play that epic game of Bejeweled Blitz. Except the Internet has other plans for you tonight and, instead of your favorite website popping up, you are greeted by a long pause, twirling hourglass arrows, and finally the dreaded PAGE NOT FOUND error. Okay no problem right? You can handle this, it’s happened before. Off you go under the desk, into the closet or down to the basement. Because you know where your router is hiding, and you know that all you need to do is pull the plug on it for a few minutes and it will spring back to life, rewarding you for your technological savvy by magically solving all connection problems and almost immediately granting you and your family renewed access to the Internet….

Right?… Right??? (ahem!)

Okay, reality check time. Sometimes it’s not going to be that simple, and unfortunately for most folks, this is the start of a series of long and painful phone conversations with your Internet provider. Long, because they work from scripts that need to be churned through until the gods of technology are sufficiently satisfied that there really is something wrong (and it’s not just that you forgot to plug in your computer). And painful because more often than not they’ll walk you through completely dismantling your home network only to conclude after 2 hours, that “it must be a problem with your computer.”

Aaaargh!

Oh yeah, and don’t expect them to help you get your home network back in order.

One particular provider of DSL service (suffice it to say, their name begins with V) has elevated blaming the end-user’s computer into an artform. So much so that I had a recent call from a customer who asked that I bring a new ethernet card for his computer because, according to tech support at V, his bad ethernet card must be the reason why he couldn’t connect to the internet. So I showed up with ethernet card in hand to find that there was nothing wrong with his ethernet port. What’s more, I immediately observed that the ETHERNET light on his DSL modem remained lit even when the ethernet cable was completely disconnected from it. Now I’ll warrant that even non-geeks can pretty quickly figure out that when the ethernet light that comes on to tell you you’re connected, stays on even when you’re not connected, well, there’s probably something wrong with that DSL modem!

But just to make sure, I whip out my trusty laptop and hook it up to the DSL modem, and as expected, no connection. Very convincing, but I’m a techno-conservative, so I even ditch his ethernet cable in favor of my own which I know is good. Still no connection from the DSL modem. So let’s review the facts; we have two computers, neither of which will get a signal from the DSL modem. We’ve tried two different cables, and, oh yeah, the modem has this little indicator light quirk where the light tells us it’s connected even when it’s not. What do the rocket scientists and non-geeks alike all conclude? The DSL modem is bad!

“Let’s call V,” I say to the customer, “they need to replace your DSL modem.”
“Oh no,” he replies, “I’ve already been on the phone with them for 2 hours and they said the modem is fine and it’s a problem with my computer”

I have visions of this poor guy at the mercy of some script-droning tech in Deli, and I can’t help but feel he’s been the victim of brainwashing.

So I call V and get through the formalities of who, where, and what, then into the queue where I am 3rd in line to talk to a tech. Then my moment arrives and I try to speak as clearly as possible: “Hi. I need to replace this DSL modem. It will not connect to the PC and the ethernet indicator light stays on even when the ethernet cable is disconnected. I have tried connecting with two different PCs, and two different cables and have also tried resetting the DSL modem several times. Can I get this modem replaced?”

…interminable pause…

From half a world away: “I’m very sorry to hear this, I will be happy to help you. Now can you tell me what lights are lit on the modem?”

Oy…

I then proceeded through an hour of testing and connecting, reconnecting, swapping cables, PCs, and resetting of the DSL modem. All stuff I had already done, but despite this was not able to persuade the tech to abandon his script and skip straight to GO so we could collect a new modem. As we moved into the second hour of dialogue, I felt my brain melting, but with herculean effort stayed alert enough to eventually guide the tech all the way through the logic to the point where he finally agreed the modem was bad and needed to be replaced.

So in the end, the customer got a new DSL modem and the problem solved, but for weeks afterward I kept finding myself thinking about the colossal waste of time, effort, and money, spent for me to go through that pointless troubleshooting process when I knew all along that the problem was the modem, and then I began to formulate a plan for how I could cut the process short next time. Next time when the tech starts the troubleshooting process by asking what lights are lit up on the modem, it will go something like this:

tech: “I’m very sorry to hear this, I will be happy to help you. Now can you tell me what lights are lit on the modem?”

me: “none”

tech: “no lights are on?”

me: “nope”

tech: “is it plugged in?”

me: “yep, and I also tried plugging it into a different outlet.”

tech: “Okay, we will have to replace your modem…”

_______________ o ________________

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

_______________ o ________________

ghc-logo-341w-x-482hThis 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)

Week 8 Geeksgiving Winner Announced. Grand Prize Apple iPad Winner to be Drawn Next Week!

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

winner-graphicweek8

12/29/2010 – Congratulations to Michael Armington of  Rumford, RI. Michael’s name was drawn on 12/24/2010 as the winner of a one-hour gift certificate for Geek Housecalls in-home computer service.  Michael is our final weekly drawing winner.  So stay tuned for our grand prize Apple iPad drawing next week!

 Geeksgiving 2010 is taking place in November and December of 2010 with weekly prize drawings for Geek Housecalls in-home service gift certificates and a grand prize drawing of an Apple iPad tablet computer.

 Learn more about Geeksgiving including how to enter for a chance to win one of our weekly prizes or our grand prize Apple iPad here: http://www.geekablog.com/?p=832

Geeksgiving Week 7 Winner Announced

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

winner-graphicweek7

12/28/2010 – Congratulations to Bob Fox & Andrea Mintz of West Newton, MA. Bob & Andrea were drawn on 12/17/2010 as the winner of a one-hour gift certificate for Geek Housecalls in-home computer service. Stay tuned for more weekly winner announcements and our grand prize drawing of an Apple iPad at the end of December.

 Geeksgiving 2010 is taking place in November and December of 2010 with weekly prize drawings for Geek Housecalls in-home service gift certificates and a grand prize drawing of an Apple iPad tablet computer.

 Learn more about Geeksgiving including how to enter for a chance to win one of our weekly prizes or our grand prize Apple iPad here: http://www.geekablog.com/?p=832

Week 6 Geeksgiving Winner Announced – Only 3 More Weeks Till iPad Drawing!

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

home computer service

12/15/2010 – Congratulations to Leslie Cashel of Greenville, RI. Leslie’s name was drawn on 12/10/2010 as the winner of a one-hour gift certificate for Geek Housecalls in-home computer service. Stay tuned for more weekly winner announcements and our grand prize drawing of an Apple iPad at the end of December.

 Geeksgiving 2010 is taking place in November and December of 2010 with weekly prize drawings for Geek Housecalls in-home service gift certificates and a grand prize drawing of an Apple iPad tablet computer.

 Learn more about Geeksgiving including how to enter for a chance to win one of our weekly prizes or our grand prize Apple iPad here: http://www.geekablog.com/?p=832

Geek Housecalls Announces New Geek, New Carry-in Computer Service Center Hours.

Monday, December 13th, 2010
The Geek Housecalls Computer Service Center

The Geek Housecalls Computer Service Center

A lot of our local customers in Lexington, Burlington, Winchester, Woburn, Waltham, Bedford and Belmont have discovered the convenience of the Geek Housecalls Carry-in Computer Service Center in Burlington and now we’re making it better than ever!

First, please join us in welcoming aboard Lenny Young, our new Computer Service Center geek.  Lenny joins us with extensive experience as a field geek and as a service center bench technician and is looking forward to meeting our customers and delighting them with world-class service in our service center.

Secondly, beginning this week, we have updated the service center hours to include some early mornings, and some late nights for the convenience of our early riser and night owl customers!  The service center is now open early Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 8:30 until 5:00.  Tuesdays and Thursdays the center will open at 10:30 and stay open late until 7:00

The Geek Housecalls Computer Service Center is located at 7A Cypress Dr, Burlington, MA 01803 and can be reached at 781-863-8111 x3.  Being able to drop off your laptop or tower at the carry-in service center is a convenient alternative for busy folks that can’t wait around at home for a housecall.