Monday, March 23, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention

Plugging in...

Two expensive stories, different people, same problem. Two computers, used by some generation Y-ers, fell pray to severe malware and bot attacks. Both were running anti-virus software, and a firewall, which were no match for the still as yet unnamed attacks. Both were not backed up [iTunes, photos, documents, email address books, scanned images].

Shall the Tutor define backup? Backup refers to making copies of data [your stuff] so that these copies may be used to restore the original after a data loss event [virus, malware, bot takeover].

Both problems were so serious [time consuming to resolve] that it was less expensive to buy new computers rather than to invest the time and dollars to re-build the existing computers. Sad but true.

To fix a problem of this nature requires:

1) restore a "clean" image of the computer, restore data from routine backup
2) restore to the day it was purchased, restore data from routine backup

The first option is quickest, but least likely because most people don't have an image, don't know what an image is, nor have they backed up their daily work either. The second option requires HOURS to bring the machine "back" to the present, updating software, transferring files provided they are accessible from the "infected" computer, installing software and testing everything. I really do mean hours.

As with anything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Any backup is better than none. But an IMAGE of the computer along with a data backup every couple of days IS the ounce of prevention resulting in the pound of cure. Check out the line of MAXTOR One Touch backup units that include the Safety Drill imaging software. Cheap insurance for the cyber attacks we know are going to keep coming.

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


Converting a Digtital Camera to 35MM

Plugging in...

What looks like a beautiful black leave on a white background? I'll give you a minute to think about this. I've seen two of them this month. Give up? That's what a broken digital camera LCD screen looks like after someone sits on it.

And I can't believe I've encountered TWO of them. The first one educated me. The second one looked very similar to the first one. I instantly knew what happened before the camera's owner could tell their tale of woe (I let them tell me - I didn't want to ruin a good story).

Both cameras were made by Kodak, owned by two different people, and sat on in two unique circumstances (one happened in Australia). One camera is still in use, the other can be used but only by approximating where to hold the camera and take the photo. The camera still in use is in use because it ALSO has a viewfinder. The sad fact is: both cameras can no longer display, delete, or show anything from the menus due to the now permanently resident black leaf on the LCD area. Essentially, both cameras have become 35mm cameras, but with a larger capacity to take photos than with film.

Both camera's pictures can be transferred using the camera's supplied cable, or the memory cards can be removed and put into a card reader, or brought to a digital developer. But the instant gratification of digital photography (and quick picture deletions) is gone. If the batteries fail, the date and time cannot be set. NONE of the camera's features are accessible so whatever settings were in place when they were the recipients of the sitdowns, are there to stay.

There is a lesson here, aside from knowing where your camera is before plunking said posterior down: a digital camera with a view finder is more versatile than one without. The camera without the view finder has been replaced with a camera with a view finder. I hear tell the other camera will continue its life until someone else sits on it and damages the view finder!

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, do you know where the camera is BEFORE sitting down, and is it turned on?


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Digital DON'T

Plugging in...

Digital cameras are easy to use right out of the box. In fact, they are so easy to take pictures with, the user guide is usually left in the box. Big mistake? Can be. We all use cameras to capture those moments we hope to make into memories and share with others, for better or worse. Digital cameras, pocket size, or professional SLRs, have dials, buttons, wheels, knobs, levers, viewers, and lenses. Suffice it to say, most non-professional picture takers, don't pay much mind to the buttons, wheels, knobs, levers, viewers and lenses. But they should...

The story begins at a favorite restaurant in the I-heart-you state of NY. Good friends breaking bread at a table. New camera comes out of box. Several people around the table try it out. Point, shoot, clicking noises. Repeat. Twelve times, repeated. Should have twelve shots of good friends breaking bread at the table, right?

Weekend ends, friends return to separate lives in non I-heart-you states. Tutor gets a call to assist in the transferring of those unique photos taken with the new digital camera. Tutor has seen many cameras, they are similar in their transfer methods from camera to computer. No surprises until the Tutor attempts to preview the photos on the camera, demonstrating the ease of previewing before transferring. All twelve images are there in full, glorious, VIDEO! Not a still photo in the bunch.

Apparently someone inadvertently knocked one of the dials, buttons, wheels, or knobs into VIDEO mode before the first photo was taken. When I asked the client about the VIDEO selection, I received a blank stare. No, no one had chosen video. WHAT? I have video capability - that is so cool, was the response.

Looking at the twelve videos was comical because while the camera was on, it was being passed around, so much of each video contained ceiling, table and floor footage. Videos require a gigantic amount of storage space and although the camera's storage readily handled it, the videos were so large, the client's email program balked [read:wouldn't send] at sending such gigantic files as attachments. The intent was to email the digital pictures to the friends. Although there are websites that allow very large files to be transferred outside of email, the quality of these videos was less than optimal for spending any more time on.

The Tutor showed the client the knob on the camera that allows for AUTO shooting, video, landscapes and close up shots. These symbols, surprisingly, match the same symbols in the USER GUIDE - and the user guide also contained a brief yet informative description of each symbol on the knob. Who knew?

I doubt this story will cause a major rush to read ALL user guides and instruction manuals, but, hey, someone wrote them, got paid to write them, and really tried to assist in the avoidance of some common digital don'ts. After all, reading is elementary!

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is the dial in the correct position, and is it turned on?