Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Digital Pictures MIA

Plugging in…

The vacation was incredible, she said. More than 300 photos captured just some of the majesty. The pocket-sized Casio camera temporarily housed those memories. Back home, the transfer of the photos finally made the to-do list several weeks after returning to the world of ho-hum. Camera in dock, transfer cable in place, software responded as expected. The photos flew onto the screen, one after the other. The camera was turned off, cable unplugged and my client sat back to view a terrific slideshow of the whole adventure. Except, uh, there were only 35 photos of the entire trip! The rest of the pictures were MIA (missing in action).

Searching in earnest began, followed by an overwhelming feeling of dread as not only were there only 35 pictures transferred, but the ENTIRE digital media memory card in the camera was EMPTY. Ugghh (polite word substituted here).

Ring, ring - Computor Tutor (CT)? A quick explanation was followed by making an appointment with CT to see:

1) were the pictures really missing on the hard drive,
2) could the pictures be recovered from the digital media memory card.

Yes, the pictures were not on the hard drive anywhere, not hiding, not mis-filed, not there, period. And yes, the digital media memory card was empty. Why? GOK (God Only Knows)! The good news? The camera had not been used to take any additional pictures since the transfer took place.

A bit of searching on the vast world wide web provided CT with a free recovery product, specifically designed for digital picture recovery. And the recovery software worked, just as described. The vacation photos were recovered and saved on the computer and the recovery software was left on the computer just in case this little missing photo caper occurs in the future.

Although the resurrection of these photos doesn't compare to some losses that others incur in their lifetimes, I felt like a minor heroine, being able to restore these photos for someone who was deeply distressed at the thought of having lost them forever. This is why I love what I do - I may not be a health care provider, the Red Cross or a firefighter, but I do my part to restore order to computer chaos.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is it turned on?


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who stole the button?

Plugging in…

Microsoft has a habit of changing our Windows operating system software weekly for our betterment (judgement call here) or for our safety (another judgement call here). One of the "automatic updates" of late brought the Windows Live Search feature to stubborn users of Windows XP - those of us who refuse to cave to the pressures of using Vista. Someone or two, at the mighty M, think we ALL want the super, cool features of Vista on our PCs, even though we steadfastly refuse to upgrade from our stable, beloved Windows XP. So an update was pushed upon an unsuspecting client last week, and suddenly the client felt lost in a sea of new windows searching features.

What used to be a simple type-what-you're-looking for and click the Search button was no more. The original searching problem wasn't described to me in enough detail (and I clearly didn't ask all the pertinent questions, either) to give a concise telephone answer to what ended up being a very simple solution. Nuff said. The client couldn't figure out what to press AFTER they typed the name of the file they were searching for in the search box . You see, or not as the case proved, the SEARCH button was in absentia. Gone, omitted, non-existent. And no other button was substituted for the SEARCH button either.

The new Windows Search Live 4.0 assumes that whoever is using the search box, knows enough to press the ENTER key, after typing in the search criteria. Doesn't anyone at Microsoft know that to assume, makes and ass out of u and me?

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is it turned on, have you tried pressing ENTER?


Computer Forensics

Plugging in…

Lately I've been feeling like a member of CSI. Read on...

There once was a software soccer game, purchased by a devoted mother for her son. It was purchased from a well established, credible store, nicely shrink-wrapped, in a word, NEW. The game was given as a gift and the playing was much anticipated. But... and there's always a but, the game was missing installation instructions, the code to use the game, and also absent - what the computer required to successfully run the game. Clearly not new. Let the digging begin.

Both the mother and son tried installing the software, which went without a hitch until the young man tried to play the game. The screen went gray, with only a mouse cursor showing and the computer completely got stuck and would only work after re-starting. After hours of trying on their own to solve the problem, they called you-know-who to the scene.

I listened to the soccer tale of woe and began the process of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Why wouldn't the game work? I had an inkling but needed "evidence" to prove my case.

On the software packaging was the website address of the manufacturer so that's where I began. The website HELP area was limited, and did not have any search capabilities. The FAQ (frequently asked questions) area was less than helpful, too. I was looking for minimum system requirements for the game because I suspected the graphics card in the computer wasn't capable of displaying the superior graphics in the game. ALL software has minimum system requirements listed somewhere, usually on the packaging, or in the associated manual. Since the packaging was missing this critical information AND the manual was never in the box, I was running on instinct, heading for my own "goal".

I found the minimum system requirements, only after I started to buy the program on the website. I read through the requirements, closed the internet and used Windows to tell me what I needed to know about the computer in question. Through Windows' handy device manager, I was able to look at the model of the graphics card, and bingo - it was one of the "unsupported" series of graphics cards. SCORE!

The WHY won't this run question was now answered - not that this was the desired outcome, of course. Since we now knew which graphic cards the game supported, I priced them for the client to the tune of several hundred dollars. Long story short- they are buying a new computer because the one in question was old (5 years) and not worthy of the additional monies for a graphics card.

One hour later, a few more dollars, no soccer game and they are buying a new computer. Another CSI/Computor Tutor success story.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is it turned on?