Thursday, February 18, 2010

Semper Paratus

Plugging in...

A little behind on your Latin? Always ready. That's the slogan of many organizations including our mighty USA Coast Guard. And it should be a motto to compute by as well.

My constant preaching of backing up computers hit home with a client this month. They bought a backup unit as suggested, and also employed an online backup as a backup to their backup. Double protection, it can't hurt.

Buying a backup unit is half the job, setting it up for use is usually more difficult for the average user than making the purchase. Though sometimes myriad choices of all things computer can boggle the consumer as they try to spend money.

The Tutor was asked to whip the backup into place, selecting the correct scheduling settings and choosing/finding the files to backup up. And when the Tutor arrived at the client's location, guess what happened?



THE BACKUP unit was off-site, at their home, in a drawer!

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


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Elusive Wireless Connection

Plugging in...

Wonderful, wireless internet. Great when it works, frustrating when it doesn't. Frustrating when the user isn't sure just how the wireless piece does its thing. That user, would be YOU, the reader!

Most laptops have built-in wireless cards which act as antennae to scout the airwaves for nearby wireless connections (networks). BUT... in order for this to work, each laptop has a different method for having the wireless "radio" on, enabled, working, lit up, whatever word works for you.

A recent client wanted to allow a laptop to use the wireless in the house. It hadn't been used before, but it was set up and ready to accept wireless connections. So the Tutor sent an email with instructions for how to connect to the wireless router in the house. Except no one could make it work. Long story short: impatience won out, the Tutor was in the neighborhood and did a "pop-in" visit.

Main problem? The wireless button was switched off. This particular button was at least visible, above the keyboard, but with nary a verbal descriptor, just a symbol that remotely resembled a cell phone tower, along with a blue LED indicator. The light, of course, was out.

Button depressed, blue LED comes on, then the proper wireless icon appeared in the bottom, right corner of the computer's screen. The first time one desires to connect to a wireless connection, it doesn't happen auto-magically, no matter how much one begs! Usually (though not always) a right click of the mouse on the wireless symbol brings up a menu with "view available wireless networks". By clicking on that sentence on the laptop screen, the user will be presented with the names (aka SSID) of the available wireless networks that the laptop can "see". Just because it can "see" them listed, doesn't mean it can connect to each of them.

If a wireless network is protected with a pass code, phrase, password, pass phrase (they all call it something different) then the laptop will not be able to connect unless the user knows the code. If it's unprotected, anyone can connect, the user will be warned it's connnecting to an unprotected network, but will allow the user to choose CONNECT anyway.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is the wireless TURNED ON, and is it turned on?