Transferring Contacts between Android phones

We recently attended a trouble call, where the customer had bought a new Android phone and had correctly joined it to her Google account.

She complained that many of her old phone contacts had not populated the contact list on her new phone. Understandably, she was very worried that she had lost many of her valuable phone contacts that she had accumulated over the years and which numbered in the hundreds!

To start with, she had transferred the SIM card from the old to the new phone, which resulted in some contacts appearing in the new phone’s contact list. Indeed, when we set the new phone to show the SIM card contacts, many contacts were showing there; but many were missing.

Luckily she still had access to her old phone. On close inspection, I observed that the vast majority of contacts were indeed stored on the old “Device” (ie the phone itself). I then proceeded to copy these “Device” contacts to her Google account. A Google account is stored in the “Cloud” and acts as a very handy and secure repository for all of your personal information; be it phone contacts, Gmail emails or calendar events.

However, the SIM card can only store a minimal amount of contacts (around 100 to 250 depending on the SIM card memory) and so many contacts were still missing on her new phone. To start the recovery process, I proceeded to copy these SIM contacts to her Google account.

On inspection of her new phone, I saw that when she created a new phone contact, it was being saved to her “Device” or the “SIM card”.  Also her Contacts option, was set to only show the “Device” contacts stored on her phone. It is advisable to set only the Gmail contacts to show, in order to avoid cluttering the contact list with duplicate entries.

Once all of the contacts were sync’d (synchronised) to the Cloud, the user’s Contacts appeared in the new phone’s contact list. Needless to say, she was delighted!

We concluded our trouble call, by explaining to the customer that going forward, it is imperative that all contacts, are saved to her Google account, where they will be readily available and secure in the Cloud.

All of the actions were accomplished via the menus on the phones and depending on the version of Android that is running on the phone, requires a different method to achieve.

You can see how important a Google account can be for helping you save your precious information. Therefore please be sure to secure your account with a strong 8 digit password.

Below are some screenshots showing the various screen that you need to navigate through this process.
Use the dots on the top right corner of your screen to access these menus.

 

Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016 and Office 365 clashing

We recently attended a trouble call, where the customer could not run a new installation of Microsoft Office 365 successfully.

She had recently uninstalled an older business version of Office, called “Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016”, that had been retired as the company had gone out of business. However, when she tried to run Microsoft Outlook 365, it would only open to the Microsoft Activation Wizard for the retired verson of Office, asking for the new valid registration key. She no longer had a valid key and now wanted to move to Office 365.

For failed uninstallations of Microsoft Office, there is a “fix me” tool which should remove all traces of previous versions. However this had failed to remove the old registration information and now the customer was caught in a vicious circle.

Luckily there is an “under the bonnet” fix for this situation which involves running a script in a special zone of Windows called the “Command Prompt”.

Running this prompt, allowed us to remove the expired registration information and allow Office 365 to run as normal. One must firstly run a script to identify the 5 digit key of the expired version of Office. Finally, a second script is run to unregister that old version of Office.

I have listed the scripts belowing depending on your verion of Office but I want to stress that this is not for the faint of heart. If you have any doubt about how to run these scripts, then please leave it to a professional.

Here are scripts:

Open a command prompt as Administrator

In the command prompt, type the following:

Office 2016 (32-bit) on a 32-bit version of Windows
cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus

Office 2016 (32-bit) on a 64-bit version of Windows
cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus

Office 2016 (64-bit) on a 64-bit version of Windows
cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus

You should now get a screen with some license details such as the license name, type and the last 5 characters of the Product Key.
4. You can use the last 5 characters of the Product Key to remove it using command:

Office 2016 (32-bit) on a 32-bit version of Windows
cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /unpkey:<LAST 5 CHARACTERS>

Office 2016 (32-bit) on a 64-bit version of Windows
cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /unpkey:<LAST 5 CHARACTERS>

Office 2016 (64-bit) on a 64-bit version of Windows
cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office16\OSPP.VBS” /unpkey:<LAST 5 CHARACTERS>

Synchronising S Planner calendars between Android phones

We were recently called to a customer’s home who operates an events organising business, to solve the problem about why a calendar event that she had created in the “S Planner” calendar on one of her Android phones, was not synchronising to her other phone; or showing up on her computer Google calendar, which is stored in the Cloud.

This lack of a backup per se, exposes the customer to a potential catastrophe, because if something happens to this one phone, she will lose visibility of ALL future calendar events that she had created, which would cause many problems professionally and financially to her events organising business.

Arriving at the customer’s home, the first troubleshooting step was logging into the customer’s Cloud calendar at Google, which showed no event entries, which proved that the calendar events were only being stored locally on the one phone, where they were created.

The Android phone has three calendars. One is “My Calendar”; one is “Samsung Calendar” and the third is the Google Calendar.

The fact that we could not see the event on the Cloud calendar, proved that the event was being entered into the incorrect calendar.

When a new event was being entered into the phone, it was being entered into the first choice which meant the event only stayed on the customer’s phone that created it, rather than being shared to the Cloud and other devices.

The fix was to create a new event. Then you will Calendars” on the top left corner of the screen, as shown in the picture below. This resulted in a drop-down menu being displayed. The customer chose the Google Calendar and proceeded to create a test event. When the Google Calendar is chosen, you will get a warning message that this calendar cannot be synced to the Kies software. Choose not to see this message again as your new events going forward will be recorded in the Cloud.

After creating a new event sure enough, the event appeared on her Cloud Calendar and subsequently on her other Android phone. Any events that have already been created will not upload to the Cloud. Only new events going forward will be sent to the Cloud.

One final note is to check that the S Planner Calendar is set to show ALL Calendars. You do this by clicking the three vertical dots on the top right corner and choosing Calendars from the drop-down menu. Make sure that the “All calendars” box is ticked.

 

Gmail creation date

When you create a new Gmail account, you will be sent a congratulatory email from Google confirming that your account has been successfully set up.

It is vital that you do not delete this email. Please record the exact date and time that this email was sent to you and if possible, forward this welcome email to a secondary email account as a backup.

If you ever get locked out of your Gmail account, this one bit of seemingly unimportant information, is vitally important in helping you to recover your account!

Ctrl z safety net

We have a customer that tells us that when she is writing a long email using the Windows 10 mail app, all of a sudden the text disappears. This has happened on a few occasions and upsets her unnecessarily since she is elderly and all of her hard work that has taken a great deal of her precious time has been wasted.

To try to retrieve her email, she closes the message using the “x” at the top right hand corner and looks in drafts.

In drafts the saved email shows no text!

We have discovered that during the course of writing the email, she accidentally presses Ctrl key and the letter a. This action highlights the whole text of the message. The next character that she types erases all of the text!

We instructed her that the next time this happens, she should press the Ctrl key and then the z (upper or lower case is not important). This action serves to “undo” her action and saves the deleted text.

There is a free app called “Keytweak” which allows you do disable the ctrl key if this situation causes you repeated problems. You can download it from here click me

Laptop bag causes laptop to overheat

We received a trouble call in late 2017, from a customer complaining that their laptop had suffered premature failure on numerous occasions over the year.

They had replaced the laptop HDD (Hard Disk Drive) and Motherboard a couple of times during 2017 and wanted to know if we had any advice or idea about why this was happening. This situation was very alarming as a laptop shouldn’t suffer multiple failures in such a short space of time.

After some investigation and probing questions, it came to light that the customer was simply closing the laptop lid and immediately sliding it into their laptop bag.

This action causes a couple of problems:
Firstly, the laptop hasn’t had time to cool down. Secondly, the laptop enters “Sleep” mode when the lid is shut. It is therefore still active and producing heat. You can understand that a few minutes in a sealed laptop bag subjects the laptop’s internal components to a very high heat.

The number one rule with electronics is that they must be allowed to breathe in order to cool the internal components. If heat is allowed to build up too frequently, it will cause premature failure resulting in a catastrophic break down.

To help mitigate this problem, we recommended to the customer to do one of two things:
Choose to “shut down” the laptop completely. When I said this, the customer immediately complained that it took too much time for the laptop to boot up. This prompted the second recommendation which was to set the laptop to “hibernate” when the laptop lid is closed. This action greatly shortens the boot up time but puts the laptop in a power state where the amount of power used is the same as if the laptop is shut down completely.

The Hibernate mode is not normally enabled on a laptop, so please consult the user manual on how to set this action.

After the laptop has been shut down or put into Hibernate, let it sit for a couple of minutes to let the internal heat dissipate.

Fast forward to 2018. We received a follow up call telling us that the customer was very happy with our advice and that it has helped keep his laptop from overheating.

 

 

 

 

Updating Windows 10 on a notebook with small storage drive

In a previous blog post, I detailed how to upgrade to Windows 10 from a previous OS (Operating System) on a notebook with a small storage drive. This procedure required the use of an external USB drive of at least 16GB.

In a new development, I was given another notebook that needed a Windows 10 update; rather than being upgraded to Windows 10.

I discovered that following my previous blog did not work, because the update still needed to utilise space on the storage drive of approximately 8GB.

The only option that I had, was to uninstall some applications from the notebook to free up some storage space. I was then able to update the notebook still utiling an external USB drive.

After the update was completed, I then reinstalled the applications.

Microsoft wrote a help article number 4013876 which detailed the procedure involved.

 

“Task Host id stopping background tasks (Microsoft \ Windows \ Plug and Play \ Device Install Reboot required)”

We received a call from a customer complaining that their laptop wouldn’t reboot/shut down properly. He got the message.

“Task Host id stopping background tasks (Microsoft \ Windows \ Plug and Play \ Device Install Reboot required)”

He also experienced the trackpad/mouse behaving intermittently. He would left click something and it wouldn’t open.

Rather than use a blanket repair such as running the System Restore repair, for this particular problem,  I did a quick google and found a link to this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILni3TO6ITc

The first comment provided the answer and fixed his problem

Go to path [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\WpnUserService].

4-Double click on Start from the right side.

5-Change the value data to 4 then OK.  

The issue is to do with the Windows Push Notification service (wpnservice). There seems to be a bug in a Windows update. This bug doesn’t affect all computers. In fact this is the first time I have seen this. Hopefully Microsoft will fix the problem in the next update. Setting the value to 4 disables the service which fixed his problem.

How to delete a single auto-complete entry in Microsoft Edge

I recently attended a trouble call where the customer was complaining that there were multiple auto-complete username entries in the various web forms using Microsoft Edge. She explained that she wanted to delete these obsolete entries. Previously, she had managed to delete ALL of the auto-complete entries but that was overkill.

If you need to delete a single entry, try left clicking the 3 dots on the top right hand corner of the Edge browser.

Next, select the “settings” option at the bottom of the list.

After this scroll down the list and click the “View advanced settings” button.

Lastly, click the “Manage passwords” button.

You will now see a list of your auto-complete entries. Left click the unwanted entry and then click the cross on the right hand side that appears to delete this entry.

How to create a URL desktop shortcut using Microsoft Edge

An Internet address is known as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) and you will be familiar with the ubiquitous “http:\\www.computrain.co.za” format of a URL. The URL is what you type into the address bar at top of your Internet website browser. If you are dealing with a secure website such as your bank, you will notice that there will be the letter “s” at the end of the http. Incidentally, the “co.za or .com” of a URL is called the TLD “Top Level Domain”.

We’ve had a few customer ask us if it’s possible, to create a desktop shortcut, to a website’s URL using the Microsoft Edge Internet website browser. Being able to simply double click a shortcut on your desktop and be taken immediately to that respective website is a huge time saver! Otherwise, you’d need to firstly launch your Edge browser, then either type in the URL in the address bar, or click on a link in the Edge’s favourites shortcuts if you had previously saved that website.

The answer to this question is that unfortunately, this is not possible using Edge on its own; but there is a workaround:

Firstly, navigate to the website which you want to create a desktop shortcut for. Then, left click the three horizontal dots on the top right hand corner of the Edge browser and choose the “Open With Internet Explorer” option.

When Internet Explorer opens the website, simply right click anywhere in the webpage and choose “Create shortcut” from the menu that will appear. When you left click this option, you will be asked if you want to “put a shortcut to this website on your desktop?”. Click the “Yes” button and you will now see a shortcut on your desktop!

Lastly, when you double click the newly created desktop shortcut, Microsoft Edge (not Internet Explorer) will open and display the website in question.

Windows 10 update failure

This morning, I received a panic call from a customer that had overnight, attempted to upgrade their laptop to the latest version of Windows 10.

They told me that after they awoke, they discovered that their laptop was only showing a spinning circle at the bottom of the screen.

First thing in this situation is not to panic!

Windows 10 is incredibly self-healing and many times can fix things when given half a chance. By this I mean not to unplug your computer from the wall or yank out the laptop battery.

I instructed the customer to firstly try doing the “three finger salute” of pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del to try to restart the laptop but this was to no avail. Next, I instructed to hold in the laptop’s power button for a few seconds. This will cause the laptop to shut down.

Then after a few seconds I asked the customer to again press the power button. After a few seconds they told me that they saw a message saying “attempting to repair installation”. After a few more seconds they again saw the rotating circle and let out a sigh. I told them not to lose hope and after about one minute the installation was restored. I told them not to turn off the laptop for any reason during this process. Finally after about 30 minutes the customer happily exclaimed that the laptop had been successfully updated!

Unfortunately with laptops, they are set to go to sleep after a certain amount of time. If this happens during a critical time such as doing a major Operating System update such as this case, the update can be corrupted.

If restarting the computer again only produces a spinning circle, try unplugging ALL of your USB devices such as keyboard and mouse. Then, restart the computer by following my aforementioned instructions.

Scareware

A couple of days ago I visited an innocuous website that had been hacked, albeit unbeknownst to me, by Internet cyber criminals.

As soon as the website opened, I was greeted by both a webpage and Windows messenger message. The crooks had also activated my computer voice to read an ominous computer voice telling me that my computer had been blocked to protect the Internet. I would have to call a telephone “support” number to have my computer unlocked. I could not close this webpage by clicking the cross at the top right of the webpage. The crooks had disabled this feature for this webpage.

My anti-virus software did not block this message but it is a normal Microsoft Windows feature.

Sadly this type of “Scareware” is becoming more ubiquitous as cyber crooks try to find ways to steal money from the innocent public.

Scareware is a malware (portmanteau for Malicious Software) that attempts to extort money from a user by scaring you, through various ways and nefarious means.

First step to remedy the situation was unsuccessful as I was not able to close the Windows message box or the webpage.

The only way was close the warning message and browser was to open the Windows Task manager by pressing the “three finger salute” Ctrl+Alt+Delete and “End Task” the open Microsoft Edge process.

What is very clever about this Scareware, is that no actual malware was put into my computer. It was simply a Webpage and some smoke and mirrors to make me think that my computer had been infected and blocked.

Finally, as precaution, I did a thorough malware scan of my computer which proved that my computer has not been infected by any malware.

 

 

Upgrading a Windows 10 notebook with low storage space

I recently attended an interesting trouble call, about an upgrade problem of Windows 10.

The customer had a Lenovo notebook with only a 32GB hard drive installed. This in itself, is not problem. However, after having the Windows 10 OS and a few other programmes installed, the hard drive has only 5GB of space left!

The Windows 10 upgrade needed at least 16GB of hard drive space for the 32bit installation and 20GB for the 64bit installation. This space is needed during the upgrade process for the Windows.old folder and other “temp” files. Consequently the customer was seeing “low disk space” errors and the upgrade would fail. Seeing as the upgrade used about 3GB of data, this was a waste of the customer’s precious metered data!

Despite running the “Disk Cleanup” tool along with the “Clean up System Files” option, not enough hard disk storage space could be reclaimed.

The notebook was currently on the original (now obsolete) version of Windows 10 (1507) and Microsoft was trying to push the upgrade to the latest Windows 10 Creators version 1703.

I saw that after trying to download the upgrade file, you are told you need more space and given an option to plug in a drive with more than 16GB space (must be NTFS formatted). Despite doing this, the upgrade still failed. The drive must NTFS formatted in case Windows has to create a single file larger than 4GB.

I was able to resolve this dilemma by installing the “Windows Media Creation tool” on to my computer. I then chose to download the USB flash drive installation media. In the next stage of the process, I had to untick a box because it wanted to offer me the version for my 64 bit Windows 10 Pro computer whereas the customer’s notebook OS was the Windows 10 Home Single Language 32 bit version .

After creating the USB installation media, I plugged it into her notebook. Please note that you MUST do this process, whilst the computer is booted up to avoid any problems. I then clicked the setup.exe file contained on the USB stick.  Now here’s the trick. I plugged a SECOND USB key with 16GB into the notebook! This key must also be NTFS formatted because if any file that is created is more than 4GB is size, the install would fail. During the upgrade process, I was told that there wasn’t enough storage space on the C: drive, but I was now offered the chance to choose the second USB stick as the temporary storage medium.

After doing this, the upgrade process worked!

There is one more step still to do, so DON’T unplug the two USB sticks just yet!

Finally I launched the “disk cleanup” app on her notebook and choose the “Clean up System Files” option which let up remove all the temp files on her notebook and the still plugged in USB sticks.

Lastly, you can now go ahead and perform the normal Microsoft updates.

The next time that a new Windows 10 version is made available, such as the Creators Fall update version 1709 in October 2017 or version 1803 in early 2018, this process will have to be repeated!

 

 

Printer Wi-Fi Direct causing interference

Today we attended a customer that was having trouble connecting her new laptop wirelessly to her printer.

The wireless setup was continuously failing because the software installation gave an error that it could not find the printer on the network.

The client also complained that the Wi-Fi speed was varying wildly and was unreliable.

Suspecting a neighbour’s co-channel Wi-Fi network, I activated an App on my smartphone that allowed me to look at the Wi-Fi spectrum. I was horrified to see that the customer’s printer was transmitting a very strong signal at the exact same channel as her Wi-Fi router.

I discovered that the printer feature called “Wi-Fi Direct” had been enabled. The Wi-Fi Direct option, allows a printer to use an inbuilt Wi-Fi transmitter when there is no router installed. The printer communicates directly with the computer. However in this case, the printer’s signal was in direct competition with the customer’s Wi-Fi router.

After I disabled the Wi-Fi Direct signal, I was able to join the laptop to the printer. The Internet signal from the router was also now stable.

If you have problems with your Wi-Fi signal and you are using an Internet router, check to make sure that your printer does not have the Wi-Fi Direct feature activated.

HP laptop restarting loop after Windows 10 upgrade

This morning I got a call from a customer who had tried to do an overnight online in-place upgrade from Windows 64bit OEM 7 Pro to Windows 10.

They have a HP laptop i7/8GB RAM and when they checked their “confuser” this morning they discovered that it was stuck in a worrying restart loop!

First thing that I tried, was to force a shutdown and then take out the battery. Then I pressed the power button for a few seconds to drain the capacitors. I turned the laptop back on and there was still the same problem of the restart loop.

1) The customer had about 30 applications that he had installed. Many install discs were missing and their respective passwords forgotten. Therefore, doing a F11 factory reset was not an option.

2) I wondered whether I should try using a Windows repair disc. Which disc would I use: W7 or W10 as I wasn’t sure what stage of the upgrade that the laptop was at. If I used the wrong one, it would make things worse. This is the same dilemma if I created a W10 ISO (installation programme image) using the Windows Media Creation tool.

3) Maybe try a system restore rollback or last known good option, but tapping the F8 key repeatedly didn’t work to get me into the safe start-up menu. The laptop would boot straight into the restart loop.

Then I remembered a post from HP support that you can force the safe start-up menu, by doing a force shutdown of the laptop during bootup a couple of times. Sure enough, after doing this, I was presented with the F8 safe mode screen. However, in the list of presented options wasn’t a “Last Known Good” choice for some reason. Crossing my fingers instead I chose the “Safe Mode With Networking”. I was hoping that maybe a driver had corrupted the upgrade process. Sometimes problems can happen when the laptop goes to sleep or loses power during the upgrade process, but the power options on the laptop were to not allow sleep mode when plugged in.

The laptop then did a reboot. This time however, there were messages about “starting services” and “getting things ready” which I had not seen before!

My hope was short lived as after a few minutes, I was presented with the options that would be presented with a clean install; rather than an in-place upgrade that had been attempted. This are questions such as setting a username & password for the new user account. I gulped as I thought about the 30 apps that would need reinstalling!

After entering the same username with no password and choosing a local account, the laptop finally booted into Windows 10! More amazing was that his 30 apps were there. So an in-place upgrade had been successful after all!

I then went into the control panel to check for updates to see a message that the W10 OS wasn’t activated. Each time I tried to activate it I got a failed message. I then chose to choose another key and entered the W7 OEM key. After what seemed like an eternity Bill Gates told me that the customer’s copy of Windows 10 had been activated!

 

How to share a post on facebook when there is no share button

Sometimes on facebook, you will see posts on your timeline which you would like to share. Unfortunately you see that there is no “share” button available that you can click on.

This is caused by the writer of the post choosing to only share their post with “friends except” or that you are reading a post that is in a closed group.

The way around this, is to click the pull-down menu on the top right hand corner of the post. There you will see an option to “save post”.

Once you have saved this post, you can click on the link to your saved posts and there you will have the option to share the post to your timeline.

Multi-task during a PowerPoint presentation

Whilst giving a PowerPoint presentation, have you ever needed to do some research on your computer or the Internet at the same time because you were asked a question but not wanted the delegates to view what you are doing?

If projecting your presentation, the following method will allow your audience delegates to carry on watching the slideshow whilst your multi-tasking is hidden from view.

During the presentation, simply right click the desktop and choose screen, then “Show Taskbar”.

You can also choose to pause the presentation at an important slide if you choose or even present a Black or White screen.

Once the taskbar is visible (only to you), you can then open your Internet Browser or File Explorer to do other tasks!

You can choose to have the Taskbar visible to you through the whole presentation:

1) Open the PowerPoint presentation and click on Slide Show > Set Up Slide Show > select Browsed by an individual (window) > OK

2) Close and re-open the presentation

 

 

Adding Beneficiarys as Online banking payees

We had a customer that reported that they were not able to make online payments to a certain payee using their Internet Online banking service. The payee also used the same bank as our customer.

Upon visiting the customer’s home, we discovered that the payee had mistakenly given our customer their ATM card number and not their bank account number. What was confusing was that our customer had been able to make payments to this payee for a few years successfully with no problem whatsoever.

Unfortunately, after talking to the payee on behalf our customer, it came to light that the payee had recently changed their ATM card which had therefore cancelled this account routing number. Once we corrected the payee’s beneficiary details to reflect their bank account number, the ability to make online payments was restored.

It does surprise us that the bank did not automatically forward payments to the account number, or at least inform the customer, that an online payment was pending to a cancelled account number! But it goes to show that you must always be vigilant when you set up your online banking payee’s details.

How to clone a HDD to SSD using EaseUS Todo Backup

As your computer’s HDD (Hard Disk Drive) ages, it is prudent to avail yourself of new storage technologies such as the SSD (Solid State Drive). You will notice a huge speed and permformance improvement when you swap to a SSD. As an example, our media server now boots up in half the time!

To start with, you will need a programme to help you clone your HDD and I recommend the excellent EaseUS Todo Backup programme. The cloning process literally makes a bit for bit copy of your HDD to your new SSD. After the programme has cloned your HDD, you can shut down your computer and swap the HDD for your new SSD.

There are a few caveats to follow so that the migration process goes smoothly.

  1. Determine the total size of your computer’s HDD. This maybe partitioned into two or more drives. You will have the normal C: drive, a recovery partition (which could also be the system partition) and possibly another partition where you store your data files.
  2. Buy a SSD with at least 1/3 more storage than you are currently using so that you have room to expand going forward.
  3. Make sure that you have any external storage devices unplugged from the computer so as not to confuse the cloning process.
  4. Back up your files and documents to an external storage device in case things go wrong
  5. Install the excellent EaseUS Todo Backup programme on to your computer
  6. Install your new SSD into an external caddy and plug it into your computer; mostly probably using one of the USB ports.
  7. Start the EaseUS Todo Backup programme and choose the “Clone” option on the top right of the menu selection.
  8. Choose ALL of the partitions on your HDD. I stress ALL because if you don’t, then there is a strong possibility that your new SSD won’t boot up! You would need to rewrite the boot sector on the new drive which is not a fun prospect! You will also lose the option of doing a system recovery if the need ever arises. What you think is just the recovery partition can also contain the OS (Operating System) boot or system files!
  9. If you don’t see your new SSD listed as a target drive, then go out of the EaseUS Todo Backup programme and go into your computer’s disk management interface by typing diskmgmt.msc at the search prompt on your computer. If you see your new SSD listed as “Offline”, then right click at the drive name (not in the unallocated space field) and choose the “Online” option and follow the prompts leaving every choice as default. Your new SSD should now show as “Online”.
  10. Go back to the EaseUS Todo Backup and again select “Clone” and you should now see your new SSD listed as the Target drive as the bottom choice. After you select the SSD, you will see two boxes to check at the bottom left of the screen. Make sure you select the “Optimize for SSD” option. You can leave the other option for “Sector by sector cloning” unticked as that clones even the empty bits and possibly bad bits on your HDD.
  11. Follow the prompts to start the cloning process
  12. After the cloning process has finished, please shut down the computer and unplug the battery and external AC power and any peripherals such as a printer or wireless mouse.
  13. Remove your HDD and replace it with your new SSD. If you don’t know how to do this, try doing a search on the Internet for a training video that shows you the process.
  14. Now reinstall the battery and plug in all the peripherals. Finally, plug the AC power back in to your computer.
  15. Finally boot up your computer. You may have to restart the computer as the BIOS sets up the new SSD but you will immediately notice the speed gain and response!

Microsoft Word keyboard shortcuts

KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS FOR WORD :):)

Select the letter to the left of your cursor .
Shift + Left Arrow
Select the letter to the right of your cursor.
Shift + Right Arrow
Select text from your cursor to the beginning of a word.
Ctrl + Shift + Right Arrow
Select text from your cursor to the end of a word.
Ctrl + Shift + Left Arrow
Select from your cursor to one line above.
Shift + Up Arrow
Select text from the position of your cursor to one line below.
Shift + Down Arrow
Select text from your cursor to one page above.
Shift + Page Up
Select text from your cursor to one page below.
Shift + Page Down
Select text from your cursor to the beginning of the line.
Shift + Home
Select text from your cursor to the end of the line.
Shift + End
Select text from your cursor to the beginning of the paragraph.
Ctrl + Shift + Up Arrow
Select text from your cursor to the end of the paragraph.
Ctrl + Shift + Down Arrow
Select an entire document.
Ctrl + A

Optical Mouse Problems

We received a call from a couple of customers saying that they were having problems with their Optical Mouse. One mouse was a wireless mouse that had stopped working and the other was a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cabled Optical mouse that was “acting weird”.

67411-usb

Optical mice have replaced the old roller ball mice and rely on emitted light and an optical pickup device to enable the mouse to rely where their position is on the monitor screen. Like any device, things can go wrong.

Upon arrival at the first customer, we discovered that the mouse had simply run out of batteries. Yes, these wireless mice need batteries to power them, as they need to transmit their signal to the receiver which will be plugged into one of your computer’s USB sockets. After replacing the two AA batteries, the mouse was returned to normal operation.

We then visited the second customer to discover a couple of problems. Firstly the customer was trying to use their mouse on a glass table. These Optical mice need to be put on an opaque surface. It can be a tablecloth or piece of paper, but never a glass or mirrored surface. Secondly we discovered that there were a couple of hairs that were lodged inside the recess at the underbelly of the mouse. These rogue hairs interfered with the ability of the mouse to properly detect the light that was being emitted. Once the hairs were blown out of the cavity, normal mouse service was restored.

To end this article, I would also want to advise that if your mouse still won’t emit any light, there are some mice that have a sliding switch or on/off button on the underbelly, which may have accidentally been turned off. Our computer mouse at home goes into power saving sleep mode. Our model of mouse doesn’t have a switch; but the light is activated by clicking one of the mouse buttons.

Upgrading to Windows 10 stuck at 90%

We recently had a customer who brought her laptop to us out of frustration because she couldn’t upgrade from Windows 8.1 to the new Windows 10 OS (Operating System).

Every time that she tried to perform the upgrade, the upgrade installation reached 90% and would go no further. She left it overnight but awoke to the same Microsoft spinning progress wheel.

We immediately checked her laptop to see if there were any outstanding Windows 8.1 updates. This revealed that there were over 800MB (Megabytes) of updates to be downloaded and installed. It is very important that all Microsoft updates are performed prior to any OS upgrades.

Before installing these updates, we firstly ran a full anti-virus scan using the customer’s AVG anti-virus software as well as a thorough anti-malware scan using the brilliant Malwarebytes anti-malware application. Despite the anti-virus scan showing up no infections, Malwarebytes showed over 100 PUPs!(Potentially Unwanted Programmes). PUPs may seem innocuous, but one of our work computers could not connect to the Internet after it had been infected with numerous PUPs. These PUPs were downloaded innocently as part of a gaming app. After cleaning the computer with Malwarebytes, normal Internet service to the computer was restored!

Comp-U-Train uses and recommends Malwarebytes.

Now satisfied that the customer’s laptop was clean of malware, we installed the Microsoft updates and then proceeded with the Windows 10 upgrade. After one hour, the laptop rebooted into Windows 10.

Because July 29th 2016 has come and gone, we warned the customer that she may have missed the boat with the free Windows 10 upgrade. Luckily, because she had already secured her free Windows 10 upgrade when trying to perform the upgrade, her laptop was activated with a Microsoft Windows 10 digital licence key.

Needless to say our customer is very happy with her new Microsoft Windows 10 laptop!

Installing OS with two HDDs causes backup disk imaging problem

We were recently called to a customer’s home whom was having problems using the “create disk image” backup utility of their Windows 7 computer.

When the utility looked for drives to backup the image to, the second internal HDD (Hard Disk Drive) was not shown under the “Where do you want to save the backup?” dialog.

The customer complained that this had been the case from when they bought the computer and were now wanting to create a backup image of their primary HDD.

The second HDD was visible in Windows Explorer but not in the backup utility.

The reason for this behaviour is when the Windows 7 OS (Operating System) was being installed, part of the system files were automatically installed on the secondary HDD. Unfortunately, once the OS is installed, there is no way to change this behaviour or to move the files back to the primary drive

Therefore, Windows 7 would not allow this secondary HDD to be utilised to house a disk image.

The only way to rectify this dilemma is to physically disconnect the secondary HDD and reinstall the OS.

After this was done, the secondary HDD now appeared as a backup drive.

 

image backup

 

Laptop sleep mode warning

I’ve noticed lately,  that a lot of customer’s laptops that have come into the repair shop, are understandably using the default manufacturer’s setting to go to “sleep” after a certain amount of time.

Unfortunately, the laptop is not smart enough to know that something crucial is being done such as installing a programme or doing an upgrade or update.

The result of this is that the programme suffers a corruption of some sort.

Before attempting any such work, Comp-U-Train would like to offer some advice:

1) Before attempting any work on the laptop, make sure that it is plugged into an active AC power outlet.

2) Disable the “plugged in” sleep mode via the laptop’s power settings until you have finished the work. Otherwise, you will have to move the mouse on the laptop before the sleep timer runs out.

PM7Laptop2

One of the files containing the system’s Registry data had to be recovered by use of log or alternate copy. The recovery was successful

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We had a customer call us about her laptop that had been ravaged by a virus. It had left certain important features of her Windows 7 Operating System, such as the “System Restore” function being inoperable.

System Restore is a “safety net” which can get you out of a sticky situation should the need arise. It is a fantastic tool that allows you to go back in time and undo any action that you had previously undertaken. Read more about how to use your computer’s System Restore function here.

A second problem was that whenever the laptop was booted up, the pop-up error window shown above appeared. This worrying message can be caused for a few reasons.

Rather than reinstalling the Operating System which can present its own challenges, I use and highly recommend an excellent free tool called Windows Repair.

The tool is free to use, but Comp-U-Train would like to request that you make a donation to the programme writer should the tool repair your computer.

This tool repaired the System Restore problem but unfortunately the popup was still present.

The first step of troubleshooting this pop-up message is to create a new user profile. If the message does not appear when logged into the new profile, then this shows that the problem is with the user registry. To fix this, follow the excellent instructions written by shinomen and detailed in post 7 of this forum.

Unfortunately for our customer, the pop-up message appeared irrespective of the user that was logged in. Therefore, the problem was in the computer’s system registry. To fix a problem in the registry, we use and highly recommend the excellent free tool called “NTREGOPT“.

The tool is free to use, but Comp-U-Train would like to request that you make a donation to the programme writer should the tool repair your computer.

Comp-U-Train would like to advise that before attempting any repair, that you make a full backup copy of the computer registry. Both tools provide a method of accomplishing this protective action.

After running the tool, the pop-up error messaged disappeared.

I had tried the free programme called “ccleaner” but it did not fix either problem.

Needless to say, we now have a very happy customer!

 

 

We use and highly recommend ARM.it!

Comp-U-Train uses and highly recommends the ICT services of ARM.it here in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ARM.it offers excellent value for money Internet data packages, as a bolt-on to your Telkom Internet service. Telkom provides and maintains the hardline infrastructure, that carries the Internet data signal to and from your home. An analogy is to think of the water supply to your home. Your local water supply company provides and maintains the water pipe infrastructure to your neighbourhood. The Internet data is like the water that is carried through the water pipes. You can now understand that the infrastructure and the Internet data signal are two different animals. Even though Telkom can also sell you an Internet data package, ARM.it’s data packages are much more suitable for your specific use.

Looking for more speed? ARM.it are also able to offer FTTH (Fibre To The Home) and FTTB (Fibre To The Building) via its Fibre division FibrIT (contact [email protected] for more information)

The full list of ICT services that are offered by ARM.it are:

  • FULL ISP (INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER – ISPA Registered)
  • FTTH (Fibre To The Home) and FTTB (Fibre To The Building)
  • Domains, Email, Web Site Hosting, DDNS, Web Site Design
  • Small Business Support & Private Computer Support
  • Microsoft Small Business Server Solution Specialists
  • Microsoft Office 365 Cloud Solutions
  • VPN & Secure Server/Desktop access Services/Setups
  • Registered ANTI-VIRUS Solutions for Home & Business (Large/Small)
  • Registered & Certified Backup Solution Engineers for Home & Business (Large/Small)
  • Server, Workstation & Thin Client Suppliers
  • Software & Program Supply, Install, Maintain, Repair
  • Networking (Cable & Wireless) Supply, Install, Maintain, Repair
  • Data & Lost Files, Folders, Backups Recovery
  • Data & File Transfer (Hard Drive Upgrades-setup with no changes to your personal profile)
  • Printer Supply, Installation, Setup & Consumables
  • New Computer Supply and Repairs
  • Insurance Claim Repairs
  • On-Site Service
  • Remote Desktop Support via Internet/VPN
  • Software Affiliate Training Available

Please contact ARM.it for assistance in providing you with the correct IT solution!

 

2015-06-04_1829

 

 

 

Google AdSense ads not showing

For some reason, the Google AdSense ads that normally appear on our website stopped being displayed.

Please understand that every day that the ads don’t show, means less ad revenue being generated which affects our bottom line. It was therefore of paramount importance that I fix the issue.

After following all of the troubleshooting procedures listed on the Google AdSense website I was still none the wiser. Even the Google support team was stumped!

After brainstorming the problem for a few days, I noticed that the Internet address (aka URL) for Computrain (www.computrain.co.za) that is typed into your web browser address bar, was being redirected to an “Alias URL” of “computrain.co.za.winhost.wa.co.za”.

Consequently, the URL that Google AdSense has on file, does not match the Alias URL which is called up by the Google AdSense scripting code that is integrated into every Computrain webpage. To compound matters, Google does not even recognise the Alias URL as a legitimate TLD (Top Level Domain).

I consulted our webhosting company to find out that our website had been migrated to an upgraded server. This new server was superior but a caveat was that it necessitated us being issued an “Alias URL” in the interim, as the migration of moving servers and redirecting the Internet traffic was being carried out.

Once this Alias redirection was deleted, the ads returned to being displayed as normal…hooray!

URL = Uniform Resource Locator

 

Cannot print from Internet Explorer

Yesterday we attended a customer’s home who was complaining about not being able to print from Internet Explorer 11 using Windows 7.

Every time that they attempted to print, they were presented with an error saying “There was an internal error, and Internet Explorer is unable to print this document”.

They could print from other programmes which led me to try the Microsoft resolutions presented in this knowledge base article.

Unfortunately none of these solutions worked!

The way that the problem was resolved, was to uninstall the printer driver via the “Uninstall a program” from the Control Panel and then reinstall the latest driver version from the manufacturer.

It just goes to show that a problem with the printer driver can cause isolated printing problems as was in this case.

internal-error

Export Word document contacts table to Outlook 2013

Do you have a Microsoft Word document containing a table with contacts that you want to export to your Microsoft Outlook 2013 contacts?

  1. Open your Word document and click anywhere in the table and you will see “Table Tools” appear above the ribbon
  2. Click Layout on the far right of the ribbon. (Note, not “Page Layout”)

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  1. Next, click the “Convert to Text” button at the end of the ribbon

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  1. On the box that pops up, choose to convert the table using “Commas” and click OK
  2. Next, Click OK to the “File Conversion” window that appears

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  1. Now click the “File” tab and select “Save As”. Choose to save the document as a text file. After you have saved the file, change the extension from “.txt” to “.csv”

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  1. Now open Microsoft Outlook and choose People. Create a new contact group and then click the File tab
  2. Select “Open & Export”
  3. Choose Import or Export and select Common Separated Values (Windows)
  4. Choose the default selection
  5. Select not to import duplicates
  6. Point to the csv file that you created earlier

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  1. In the “Map Custom Fields” wizard, map the respective fields from the left “Value” window to the right side “Field/Mapped from” window. Use the Next and Previous buttons until you see the elements appearing together in the left hand window. Then drag and drop each value element over to the right hand side Field column which will represent each value that is in your csv file.For example, after mapping the fields, you can see that the Resident Names that are in my Word table, will appear as Name in the Outlook contacts. You can see the Value appear under the right hand window “Mapped from” side of the wizard.

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  1. Lastly, click “OK” and then “Finish” and you’ll see your contacts populate the Outlook contact group that you created earlier!

USB drive needs to be formatted

If you plug in your USB drive and get an error message that the disk is not formatted, don’t press the “Format disk” button!

Don’t do it otherwise you’ll overwrite the FAT data or the data itself (depending on how you did the formatting).

Instead, click Cancel.

Take note of the drive letter of the USB drive.

This error is commonly caused by pulling the USB drive out of the socket on your computer before it has been safely unmounted by the Operating System. Always choose to “Safely remove hardware and eject media” from the system tray on the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

Open a command prompt by typing cmd at the start menu. This will open a black box called a DOS (Disk Operating System) window.

Now type chkdsk x: /f

and then enter where x is the drive letter you obtained above.

It’s funny that this command works, whereas when right clicking the drive and selecting to fix errors, gives the can’t access drive message.

youNeedToFormat

Protect your computer with anti-malware software!

Here at Comp-U-Train, we can’t stress the importance of installing anti-malware software on your PC.

The term “Malware” is a portmanteau of “Malicious Software” and includes virus’; Trojans and keyloggers.

The latest type of malware to attack is called “Ransomware” and is so named because it holds the victim to ransom.

As an example, below is a screenshot of a very serious type of ransomware, which works by encrypting your hard drive, as well as any drives that you have plugged into the computer at the time of infection. To unencrypt your drives you need a special “unlocking” key.

Unless you pay a certain amount of money to the malware company within a certain time, the key that has been used to encypt your computer will be destroyed and you will have lost the contents of your drives for ever!

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Comp-U-Train highly recommends the Bitdefender anti-malware programme to keep you safe and you can visit our webpage to order this excellent programme online.

Please click here to order Bitdefender

Pivot Tables

Pivot Tables

These are confusing to most people. I would like to clear up this confusion and give you some tips on creating a simple, user-friendly Pivot Table. These tables allow us to organise large amounts of data into a table that we can then Filter as well as many other features.

  • First of all we need to start with the data that you are putting into the Pivot Table. It is very important that we use uniform styles of writing items. This will ensure that they correct items all fall under each other in the table. If there is a full stop (period), comma or even slightly abbreviated that item will fall under a different list in the table.
  • Once we have all the information Uniform we can then start by selecting the entire data table
  • Once the data is selected we then can click on “Insert” and “Pivot Table”
  • A wizard then appears. This will guide us through the setting up of the Pivot Table.
  • Once the wizard is finished we end up with a page with the data headings on the right.
  • We now need to place the information on the page as we would like to see it. The page specifically mentions “Column Fields” and “Row Fields”. We place the information in the fields. There is a field called “Values” and this is only for figures

Once you have placed the information, the Pivot Table is ready to be used.

Windows Live Movie Maker Tips & Tricks

I thought that I would offer some tips & tricks gleaned from editing a family video using Windows Live Movie Maker.

1) When you “split” a video, make sure that you also split the audio otherwise the video and audio tracks will go out of sync when you delete a section. The splitting tool is accessed via the Video & Audio tabs.

2) When you add a “Title” to the video, it will not automatically add blank audio so that the video and audio tracks will go out of sync. What you need to do is to “Save movie” using the recommended settings and then import that finished file back into Movie Maker. Now you can manually add a title or credit or use add a “AutoMovie theme” and the audio & video will stay in sync.

Have fun!

Can’t update Internet Explorer v6 to v8 in XP SP3

Today we had a curious tech support call from a customer.

As Microsoft will soon be discontinuing all support for the XP OS (Operating System) from April 8th, 2014, they wanted to upgrade the Internet Explorer browser version 6 to version 8 which is the most secure.

Unfortunately, every time they tried to install v8, they received an error that the installation had failed and that they would have to manually download an update called KB932823. When they tried to do this, they received the following error message:

“Setup has detected that the Service Pack version of this system is newer than the update you are applying”

After much investigation on the Internet, I came across this wonderful blog:

http://www.pigslipstick.com/archive/2013-08-31/windows-xp-kb932823-v3

Following the author’s instruction, I went into the computer’s BIOS setup by pressing the f2 key at boot up and temporarily disabled the multi-core processing. I then attempted to install v8 and low and behold the upgrade worked!

Finally, after successfully upgrading the browser to v8 I went back into the BIOS and reenabled the multi-core processing.

You can download IE version 8 directly from Microsoft here

PC Game gives increase the resolution error

We just returned from a service call where a customer was unable to play a Brain Training game on their Windows 7 computer.

When the game was launched, it kept giving an error that the resolution of the monitor was set too low and must be increased.

After checking that the resolution of the monitor was at a nominal setting and therefore should not have posed a problem to the game, we noticed that the customer had enabled the Windows 7 virtual keyboard.

After disabling this function, the game could be launched successfully.

XP computer BSOD with fssfltr_tdi.sys error

Yesterday we received a trouble-call from an anxious customer telling us that they could not boot their XPHome computer as it was stuck in a boot-loop. It was continually showing a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) and then rebooting.

Upon arrival at the customer’s home, we witnessed the same action. On inspection of the BSOD, we saw that the culprit was a Windows “System” file called “fssfltr_tdi.sys”. This file is from the “Windows Essential Family Safety” feature.

The only way to get the computer to boot normally, was first to firstly boot it into “Safe Mode” by tapping the f8 key. Once in Safe Mode, we found the file in the C:windows\system32\Drivers folder. We then renamed the file to fssfltr_tdi.bak

After crossing our fingers, we tried booting the computer and low and behold it booted up as normal.

We asked if the customer had added any software recently. She exclaimed that she had just upgraded her Avast anti-malware sofware to the 2014 version.

After doing some research on the Internet, it was apparent that this was not an isolated case. Many people had experienced the same issue. Unfortunately, Avast has not released a patch to the problem to date.

Despite this being the subscription version of Avast, we advised the customer to uninstall Avast and replace it with the free Microsoft Security Essentials. After completing this task, this we renamed the file back to fssfltr_tdi.sys to restore normal functionality.

We are happy to report that the computer has been restored to its good-old-self.

 

Windows update KB2804579 fails to install

If you are unable to install Windows Update 2804579 then please read the following:

Try the easiest thing first by typing “msconfig” (without quotes) at the start>run “open” field. Choose the middle selection “Diagnostic Startup” and press the OK button. Now try downloading the update. If the update still fails, then please follow this procedure”

  1. Open the registry editor by typing regedit at the start>run “open” field and go to the following key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Component Based Servicing\Packages

  2. Backup the Packages keys by right clicking “Packages” in the left hand column and choose “Export”. I suggest that you save the backup to your C: drive so that you can find it easily in case you run into trouble. You can undo any changes by double clicking this exported “.reg” file.
  3. Scroll down to the “Packages” in the left column. Right click and choose to “delete” any package with 2804579 in the title. For my Windows 7 computer, I had  3 instances of this title: One was in Package; Package 1; Package 3
  4. If you get a permission error that you are not allowed to delete the key, then you can download an excellent programme from Raymond.cc’s website by going here.
  5. When you launch this programme select the “Registry” tab and repeat step 3 above.
  6. Finally, close the editor and reboot your computer and go to the Windows update site to download KB2804579.

A bonus of deleting the corrupted keys, was that this also fixed the blank window when trying to view “Turn Windows features on or off” feature on our Windows 7 computer!

WARNING: Comp-U-Train will not be held liable  for any problems caused to your computer’s OS through the tampering of the registry!

We would like to say a big thank you to Raymond.cc for helping us connect the problem between the “Turn Windows features on or off” blank window and the Microsoft Windows update failure of KB2804579 issue.

 

 

Internet Explorer 8 running slow

If anyone is using Microsoft XP with Internet Explorer 8 and experiencing slow window scrolling together with hard drive thrashing (hard drive light staying on); especially when viewing javascrpt rich websites like FB, then Google has a free plug-in.

This is a replacement javascript engine which speeds up the webpage rendering significantly. It’s called “Google Chrome Frame” and you can download it from here: http://www.google.com/chromeframe

Microsoft services needed to run Wi-Fi

As part of computer troubleshooting, if you need to know which Microsoft “Services” are required to run a Wi-Fi connection, please enable the following Services:

  1. DHCP Client
  2. Event Log
  3. Network Connections
  4. Plug n Play
  5. Remote Call Procedure
  6. Wireless Zero Configuration

These Services can be accessed by typing “msconfig” (without quotes) at the start>run prompt and choosing the “Services” tab.

 

Windows 7 Show Desktop

Windows XP had a very useful icon in the “Quick Launch” Toolbar that let you quickly show the desktop rather than being faced with the chore of closing/minimising open windows.

Windows 7 has the same feature but it located at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. To show the desktop click on the horizontal bar on your desktop as shown in the image below:

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Add XP network icon data lights to Windows 7

Are you using Windows 7 and miss the XP or Vista network icon data lights that were in the bottom right hand corner system tray?

These lights would flash to show you when you were uploading or downloading something.

If so, you can download a free app which will restore this functionality from here:

http://www.itsamples.com/network-activity-indicator.html

To keep the lights showing in the sytem tray and not being hidden after a while, click on the “Show hidden icons” up arrow in the system tray and select the option “Show icon and notifications” next to the entry “Network Activity Indicator system tray utility”. Click OK and enjoy!

Can’t update Adobe Flash Player

We received a call from a customer that had not been able to update their Adobe Flash player.

This player enables the viewing of streaming media videos on websites such as YouTube and Facebook.

The customer kept receiving a pop-up notice telling her that there was a new version of the player available and to go to a download link. However, whenever she tried to go to link using her cell/mobile phone data connection and initiate the updating process it would fail.

When we retrieved the customer’s laptop we tried updating the player using our ADSL connection but also received a message telling that the update had failed.

Suspecting a corruption in the Flash player software, we decided to uninstall the player using a special Adobe uninstaller. After this was completed, we then tried downloading and installing the latest version of the player and this was successful.

A caveat to this updating message is there was a malware message going around, that if you visited certain websites showing video, you would be told that your Flash player needed updating. The message gave you a link to click on and when you did that, malware was downloaded to your computer. If you ever get a message telling you that your player needs updating, please go Adobe’s website to check whether you have the latest version or not and download it from there if needs be.

ADSL speed slow and no dial tone

We stopped by a customer’s home recently who was complaining that their ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband connection was slow and unreliable. When visiting webpages, they would receive a time-out message. They also complained that they intermittently had no dial-tone when picking up the telephone handset. This also resulted in people who were calling the customer would still hear a normal ringing tone, but the customer’s telephone would not ring.

Normally, we would have immediately referred the customer to their local telephone company’s technical support number. However, since we were in the area, we thought we’d drop by just to help make sure that the fault was not caused by the customer’s equipment. More and more often these days, the telephone company will levy a high call-out fee if the fault is caused by the customer’s equipment or home wiring.

When we arrived at the customer’s home we discovered that indeed there was no dial-tone. The first thing that we did was make sure that all of the other telephones in the house were “onhook” or hungup. tried was to disconnect all of the telephone equpment that was plugged in to the multiple telephone outlets around the home. This included the ADSL filters as they can be responsible for causing no connection or a noisy line. The filters are used to prevent the ADSL data signal being heard in the telephone earpiece as well as preventing the telephone from causing interference to the ADSL signal.

We finally plugged a wired telephone into the main home outlet and could stil not hear a dial-tone or even any noise. We tried a spare ADSL filter and this didn’t make any difference. We therefore concluded that the problem did not lie in the house but between the outside junction box and the exchange. There a can be a few intermediary  points along the path back to the exchange. If you do have a dial-tone but a slow ADSL connection, then a “quick and dirty” method to test the integrity of your telepone line, is to pick up the handset and press one of the buttons on your phone. When you do this, the dial-tone will be cleared and then you can listen to see if you can hear any pops; clicks or other static sounding noise on the line.

Noise on the line will affect both the voice and ADSL data signals. Noise can also be caused by water getting into a connection somewhere but in this case, you will most definately have no ADSL signal as the water will cause a short circuit between the pair of wires that carry the voice and ADSL data signals.

The customer called the telephone company who sent out a repair technician the next day. The technican found out that one of the wires had come adrift in the road cabinet outside in the street. After resplicing this wire, normal telephone and ADSL service was restored to the customer.

The problem with no dial tone can also occur if your telephone line has been deprovisioned (turned off) at the telephone company by mistake but we have found that this to be a rare occurance.

Telephone voice signals and ADSL data signals are sent to and from your home over a single a pair of wires. These wires are called the “Tip” and “Ring” wires. To conduct a telephone voice conversation, both of these wires need to be properly connected at all of the junction points between your telephone and all the way through to your local telephone company exchange. The integrity of the connections must be 100%. If one wire is not connected properly, then there will be no dial-tone when the handset is picked up or you will hear a crackling sound in the earpiece when you lift the handset or are talking to someone. An ironic thing about the less robust ADSL data signal is that it will work over only one wire, albeit not at 100%.e. In this instance, the ADSL connection will also exhibit a slow-down resulting in such things as webpage time-outs or a loss of syncronisation between the modem and the DSLAM (Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer) equipment in the exchange. This will result in the Internet connection light changing to red on your ADSL modem.

Our last piece of advice is that when your broadband connection is working properly, go to a broadband speed testing website such as Speedtest and do several speed tests during the day in order to establish a benchmark which you can compare down the road to show you if you are suffering from any broadband speed problems.

“Java” icon missing from Control Panel

We received a call yesterday from a customer saying that the “Java” icon was missing in the Control Panel of their XP computer. The customer told us that this problem seemed to happen after upgrading the version of Java that was on their computer. We concluded that there was a corruption that happened during the upgrade process resulting in the icon not be restored to the Control Panel. This issue also seems to affect Windows 7 users.

Java icon

The Java “console” allows certain options to be changed for the free Java programme. Java is a programming language that shows images in your web browser.

We were able to resolve the issue by downloading and reinstalling the Java software.

java reinstall

When was my computer born?

If you want to find out when your Windows computer was “born”, open a “DOS” (Disc Operating System) box by typing cmd in the start/Run field or in Windows 7 at the start search field. A black box will appear and next to the flashing cursor, type the below text exactly and press the Enter key:
 
systeminfo|find /i “install date”
 
Type exit and press the Enter key to close the DOS box.

What is the Microsoft Office free trial?

A customer of ours called us enquiring about the free trial icon that is showing on the desktop of her new laptop computer.

The “Free Trial” is just that. It gives you 30 days from when you first run the programme to try it out. After that, the trial expires and you’ll get the opportunity to buy and download the normal version. Please note that you cannot convert the free trial into a normal version simply by purchasing a registration key and entering that into the trial version.

You must download the normal version which can be quite a few GBs in size! If your Internet connection is slow, or you are on a capped data plan, then we recommend that you buy a retail version from either your favourite online store or computer shop.

Please note that before installing the normal version, you must first uninstall the trial version or you will receive an error. Rest assured that any documents that you have created with the trial version will not be deleted when you unistall the trial version.

Computer can’t see Wi-Fi printer

We visited a customer who wanted to use their printer over their home Wi-Fi network. Previously they had connected the printer using a USB connection but had discovered that the printer was Wi-Fi capable.

The problem was that they could not get the printer working when connected by Wi-Fi even though they had used the printer’s front display controls to join their Wi-Fi network successfully.

The issue is that the computer must be loaded with the correct driver so that it can interact with the printer wirelessly.

The way to resolve the problem is to connect the printer back up to the computer using the USB cable and then run the installation CD that came with the printer. At the beginning of the printer softare installation process you will see an option to connect the printer by cable or wirelessly. The trick is to this time choose the Wi-Fi option  and allow the printer’s Wi-Fi drivers to be installed.

The installation process will first guide you through helping the printer rejoin the Wi-Fi network and then set up the computer to see the printer over the network.

 

 

How to resize Hard Drive Partitions

A customer called us recently concerned that he was getting low disk space error messages.
When he bought his computer a few years ago, a friend had partitioned the hard drive into two partitions namely C: and D: at a ratio of 50/50. The C: Primary active drive contained the OS (Operating System) and the D: drive was for his data.

He wanted to know if he could increase the size of the C: partition to 70/30 and how to go about doing it if it was possible. The important thing to check is the amount of unused space left on the D: drive which will tell you how much you can donate to the C: drive.

Upon receiving the computer in our shop we set about resizing the partitions. Firstly and I can’t stress this enough, make sure you back up any important files that are on the hard disk in case something happens during the resizing process. If a partition is corrupted during the resizing then you could lose all of your valuable data!

If you want to do the resizing yourself, then I recommend the free for personal use partition tool called “Easeus Partiton Master” which you can download from here

After you have installed this partitioning tool and run it, the trick is that you firstly need to choose the D: drive by clicking on the D: partition at the top of the programme window. Next, drag the handle on the left hand side to the right which will free up space at the beginning of the D: drive. You can then click on the C: drive and drag the handle on the right hand side all the way to the end which will then use the space which has been vacated from the D: drive.

low-disk-space

 

 

How to disable Acer Empowering Technology toolbar

We had a customer who called us complaining that their new Acer laptop would show the “Acer Empowering Technology” toolbar on the desktop every time they booted their computer. They didn’t like the way the toolbar cluttered up their desktop and were not happy that Acer had not asked for permission  to show this toolbar nor offered a way to easily disable the toolbar.

For reasons only known to Acer, they don’t offer an easy method to disable the toolbar.

Upon arriving at the customer’s home who was just about ready to pull his hair out, we firstly looked in the “Startup” folder which you can view by going start > Programs > Startup. Left click to open the Startup folder. Right click the “Acer Empowering Technology” entry. Left click and select “delete” followed by the Ok button. This will send the entry to the Recycle Bin. Finally, restart your computer and you’ll see that the toolbar has now gone!

We feel that this method is much easier than delving into the Startup items using the Windows “msconfig” tool as that is the long way around to accomplish this task.

If you want to manually view the taskbar again you can double left click the Acer Empowering Technology entry in the Acer folder under start > Programs.

BBC.co.uk videos shows black flash screen

We recently had an interesting problem that had us scratching our heads. A customer of ours has not been able to watch any streaming videos shown on the BBC.co.uk website on their Windows XP computer using Internet Explorer version 8. When they click on a video link they are presented with a black screen. There is also no audio and it seems that the Adobe “Flash” player has stalled.

We initially suspected a corrupt installation of the Flash programme which is what the BBC uses to show the video stream. This is a ubiquitous programme as it is also used by YouTube and Facebook.

Upon visiting the customer’s home, we quickly eliminated the Flash programme as being the culprit because all YouTube videos we clicked on played properly. We also confirmed that there was no “hosts file” or firewall restrictions that had been placed against the BBC site’s Internet address on the customer’s computer. The version of the Flash programme on the customer’s computer was also the latest and greatest.  We noticed that with the latest Flash player, the option to ‘Allow third-party Flash content to store data on your computer” was not available which takes a common issue out of hte mix.

We tried clearing the “Temporary Internet files” from the computer and after revisiting the BBC website we were then able to view the streaming video!

We concluded that the temporary storage space (cache) that stores the Internet pages visited by the customer’s was full and thus causing the BBC stream to stall. This didn’t cause a problem for YouTube funnily enough; only for the BBC!

If you are also experiencing this problem and are using Windows XP and IE8 then please follow our path to success:

To clear the cache, please follow these steps after closing your Internet Explorer browser:

  1. Go start > Programs > Settings > Control Panel
  2. Double-click the “Internet Options” icon
  3. Under the “General” tab, go to “Browsing History”
  4. Click the “Delete” button
  5. Click the “Temporary Internet Files” choice
  6. Press the “Delete” button
  7. Press the “Ok” button
  8. Revisit the BBC website and click on the video of your choice such as http://www.bbc.com/culture

history delete

 

Windows Service Packs

According to Microsoft, a SP (Service Pack) is a “Windows update, often combining previously released updates, that helps make Windows more reliable. Service packs, can include security and performance improvements and support for new types of hardware”. Microsoft finishes by advising “Make sure you install the latest service pack to help keep Windows up to date.”

This is very good advice indeed but please be advised that some SPs can be quite large and can easily consume the vast majority of your monthly data allowance. If you feel that installing the latest SP is over your head or you don’t have enough data available to do the job, then Comp-U-Train offers a Tune-Up service at a very reasonable cost. Microsoft release Windows Service Packs from time to time and it is important that you computer be updated to the latest SP. I say “updated” rather than “upgraded” because that would mean upgrading the computer’s OS (Operating System) completely from say Windows Vista to Windows 7 which is not what we are doing in this exercise.

At the time of writing this Blog in May 2013, the latest SP available for Microsoft XP is SP 3. For Microsoft Vista it is SP 2 and for Windows 7, it is SP 1. You can easily find out whether you have the latest SP by right clicking on “My Computer” or “Computer” and selecting the last entry on the pop up menu which is “Properties”. Under the “Windows Edition” or “System” at the top of the pop up menu window that opens, you will see the version of the Windows OS installed on your computer together with the SP number if it has been installed. It is imporant to note that you should always upgrade the computer’s SP in numerical order. For instance, for Microsoft Vista, you must install SP 1 first before you can install SP 2.

What is a file extension?

We received an urgent call from a client who had been sent an image from a friend but they were not able to view the photograph. The customer told us that the image file was a white icon with a name and when they double clicked it an error message appeared asking what programme should be used to open the file.

After travelling to the customer’s home we saw that the image was missing a crucial piece of information that tells the computer what type of file it is. This information is what is shown to the right of the dot at the end of the file name and this is known as a “file extension”. The client then asked us “what is a file extension”? We answered by telling him that it is a three letter computer file abbreviation that tells the computer what the file is and therefore what programme that is registered by the computer that is required to open the file so that it can be worked on. For example, a “.doc” tells the computer that the file is a Microsoft Word document. There are numerous file extentions such as “.xls; .pdf; .ppt; .gif; .bmp; .tiff; .mp3” etc.

To resolve the probem with this particular case,  because the customer knew that the file was an image, we guessed that it was a “.jpg” image and after appending the “.jpg” to the end of the image’s file name by using the Windows “rename” tool, the customer was then able to view the photograph.

Sometimes, you may be sent a file by someone that cannot be opened because the programme required to open the file is not installed on your computer. In this case, you need to ask the sender of the file for the name of the programme that was used to create the file, so that you can then install this programme on your computer in order to open it successfully.

For more information please look at this Hubpage article:

http://girlygirl09.hubpages.com/hub/Trouble-Opening-Files-from-E-Mail-or-Disc-Check-Out-These-Tips#img_url_1093901

 

What is a computer driver?

I have often been asked the question “what is a computer driver”?

Computer hardware companies sell physical hardware for your computer which needs to be talked to by your computer’s OS (Operating System). The computer OS could be Windows XP; Vista or Windows 7.

Together with your new hardware, the company will release a piece of software (computer programme) which you need to install on your computer. By “hardware” I mean anything from a graphics or sound card to a printer or modem or even a USB device.

This software is called a “driver” and enables your new hardware and your computer’s OS to communicate. The driver allows the OS and hardware to interact with each other. Think of a driver as a translator which allows people who speak two different languages to talk to each other.

Occasionally the hardware company will release an “updated driver”. This could be to allow the hardware to work with a new OS such as Windows 8 or fixes a problem in the driver. Updating the driver therefore allows your hardware to work at peak performance and efficiency.

For more information please look at this Hubpage article:

http://tamarawilhite.hubpages.com/hub/How-to-Keep-Device-Drivers-Updated#img_url_6937054

 

 

Missing programs from add/remove programs

We just had a customer who was missing programs from add/remove programs. The customer had wanted to remove a particular anti-virus programme but couldn’t find the programme listed under the “Add or Remove programmes” tool in Control Panel. For some reason the entry had been removed.

There was also no uninstaller for the Programme listed under the Programme’s entry in the Start/Programs list, or in the Programme’s folder in Windows Explorer.

This was an interesting situation as the programme was running on the computer and even displayed the programme’s icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. This part of the screen which lists programme icons is called the “System Tray”.

The way we managed to fix the issue was to firstly re-install the software and this action then re-added the Programme back in the “Add or Remove programmes” list.

Backing up your computer files

“Backup, backup, backup!” is a mantra that I preach often as now, more often than not, precious computer files such as photographs; documents; videos or songs are stored on a computer hard drive and not periodically “backed up”.

Because of digital photography, we have all gotten lazy and rely on our computers to store these valuable milestones, comfortable and complacent in a false sense of security that we can view them at our leisure. Gone are the days where we were handed photographic prints together with their respective negatives.

Backing up is a fancy term that simply means to make a copy of a file in case the original is destroyed and gone forever. In fact you should make two copies: one to keep in your home and the other to store “off-site”, in another safe location.

There are companies out there that deal with “Data Recovery” but these can be very expensive. It is better to be pro-active and back up your data before it is lost for good.

Modern times has dictated that we now often archive photographs only on our computers rather than keeping them in albums or negatives which can be stored safely away. Sadly, because computers and hard drives have a finite life and it is not a matter of if they will fail, but when, it is important to do frequent backups. I recommend that you do a backup every week.

There is a saying in the computer world that “you are only as good as your last backup”.  This means that if you have put a file on your computer after your last backup was done and the hard drive fails, then you would have lost this new file.

To protect your precious data, I recommend that you go out and purchase an external hard drive to store your backups. Hard drives made my Seagate and Verbatim come with special third party “backup software” included such as from Memeo. This automatically senses if you have created or updated a file and copies this new file to your backup drive if it plugged in.  This takes the issue of manually having to backup your files out of your hands. The backup programme is clever enough to sense when you install the drive and then automatically copies only the newly created or changed files.

You may see another hard drive letter on your computer but do not be fooled as most times that simply means that your drive has been “partioned” or split into mutliple pieces but it is still the same physical hard drive. Therefore in a hard drive failure, you will lose both drive letters! You must use a separate backup source which can stored in a safe location when the inevitable happens.

You will read that backing up to the “Cloud” is a good idea. There are some caveats to this:

1) How secure is the company that you are backing up your precious data to?
2) How fast is your upstream Internet connection and are you on a finited monthly data contract? As an example, on a dedicated 512kbps upsteam connection (meaning only doing a backup), it can take 19 days to backup 100GB of information running 24×7!

To conclude, I recommend using a secondary external backup hard drive rather than computer discs or thumb/USB drives, because non hard drives have a shorter lifespan.

You can see that I am alluding to the fact that you should ideally have a backup for the backup by making two copies of your files!

For more information please look at this Hubpage article: http://lauradutoit.hubpages.com/question/23452/what-backup-system-is-the-best-for-use-on-a-home-computer#answer46495

What does boot up your computer mean

Have you ever wondered why turning on your computer has coined the phrase “Boot Up” or what does boot up your computer mean?

The explanation goes back to the days when folks wore boots as their normal foot attire and people remarked  to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

Bootstraps were the loops at the back of each boot that you used to pull the boot onto your foot and the phrase  “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” simply meant to get yourself out of a situation without any help.

The parallel with a computer is that it is going through the various stages by itself which are required to present you with the familar desktop that we all know and love.

Improve your TV sound

My husband and I decided to buy a new LED backlit television for Christmas to replace our aging CRT TV. Unfortunately the sound quality of our new 32″ panel was poor in comparison to our old TV. In order to try to improve the sound quality, we did research on the new “Soundbars” that have come into the market. Unfortunately, most of them were quite expensive and out of our price range.

I told my husband that I had an idea about how to improve your tv sound which was to buy a 2.1 (Left + Right + Subwoofer) Logitech computer speaker system. This simply plugged into the televison’s 3.5mm headphone jack. Because we are using the headphone jack, the sound volume is still controlled by our TV remote control. The other thing that we discovered is that when our TV is viewing a HD source via the HDMI connection, the sound is not available on the normal Red and White RCA AV connectors. Using the TV’s headphone jack solved this problem.

The sound quality is now much better and we spent significantly less for this speaker system vis-a-vis a Soundbar!

Deleting Vista’s Windows Mail “Autofill” entries

Recently, we had a client who complained that when he typed a friend’s name into the “To” field of a new email, he saw entries for his friend’s old email address appear as well as the current correct email address. Even though he had deleted the obsolete address information from the contact list the deleted entries still automatically appeared. This is a quirk with Windows Mail and for some reason Microsoft haven’t gotten around to fixing it yet.

This is a feature called “Autofill” and can be quite useful if you don’t want to have to fill out the whole email address, or be forced to press the “To” button to open your contact list in order to search for your friend’s email address. Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t provide a simple way to delete any unwanted autofilled addresses.

There is a feature under the General tab of the Internet properties, that lets you delete all “Form data” information from your browsing history, but to me this is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Afterall, you may require information to be filled out in other web forms that you have used and this deleting this form information would necessitate you having to refill the form information again. There is also an option in the “Send” tab of the Mail options to stop the Autofill function altogether, but I think that it is a useful tool when composing email messages. 

The way to solve this issue, is firstly to use the up & down arrow keys on your keyboard to highlight each incorrect entry and then press your “delete” key for each incorrect entry. After all of the old entries have been deleted and this is important, you must send this email to someone. I recommend that you send it to yourself by also adding your email addrsess in the “To” field. It is important to do this stop as the entries will not be removed.

Now compose a new email to your friend and you will see that the unwanted autofilled entries have gone!

Disk or Disc?

Which terminology is correct: Hard “Disk” Drive (HDD) or Hard “Disc” Drive? Is it a compact “disk” or “disc”?

The answer is that if light is used to read the data, then the correct word is “disc” as in Compact Disc or Digital Versatile/Video Disc (DVD). Your hard disk doesn’t use light to read the data. The data is read by detecting the magnetization of the material in the platter; so it is a “disk”.

 

Phishing email

In the last few days, we have received two emails at Comp-U-Train purporting to be from ABSA bank.

This email rang our alarm bells immediately as firstly we don’t bank with ABSA and secondly we recognised it as a typical “Phishing” email

This email is a typical Phishing hoax and is a way to try to get you to reveal your banking username & password. Once the criminals have this information they can log onto your banking account and part you with your hard earned money.

The email message can arrive in many guises including worrying messages that your account has been suspended or your “money transfer” has been completed. As you can see from the email received by us which is shown at the bottom of this Blog, the perpetrator threatens to suspend our account if we don’t follow their instructions!

If you click on a link in any email message or webpage, be wary if the Internet address shown in the website address window at the top of web browser doesn’t show the correct “domain”. Also, watch out for if the “http” doesn’t have a “s” at the end (which shows the webpage being viewed is encypted). There should also be a little padlock at the end of the window. Another common trait is poor grammar or spelling mistakes as most of these emails come from non-English speaking countries. 

Finally and I can’t stress this enough,  your bank will never email you asking you for your account information. If you have any concerns then either contact your bank directly, or dial in the bank’s email address yourself rather than using an embedded link to drive you there as it maybe driving you over the financial cliff to ruin instead!

Below is one of the phishing emails so that you can see what they look like:

—–Original Message—–

“From: ABSA Check Account [

Sent: 21 January 2013 11:23 AM

Subject: Service Protection

Dear Customer,

We are doing all our best to protect you from the high rate of internet and other related form of banking scams. It has come to our notice that our ATM service is the subject of a new hacking device, hence we are upgrading all forms of banking services from Absa,which includes Internet Banking, Telephone Banking and ATM Banking. You are required to verify your login details so that your account can be upgraded and we can secure you to a safe banking.

Absa Protects your online banking, to Upgrade to our new SSL security servers, log in below:)

Upgrade to Hyper-V Security server here (URL removed to protect the our innocent Blog readers!)

Note: If you choose to ignore our request, we will have no choice but to suspend or permanently deactivate your account.

Kind Regards

Absa Digital Banking Services”

For more information please look at this Hubpage article:

http://rachellewilliams.hubpages.com/hub/Computers-101-What-is-Phishing