Thursday, January 27, 2011

When is an UNINSTALL not uninstalling?

Plugging in...

Canon. HP. Both popular printer manufacturers. So what happens when you buy a new Canon or HP printer replacing a previous one, and part of the all-in-one printer doesn't work, like the scanner, for instance?

A Tutor client spent several hours working through this scenario with a telephone tech support person from Canon. Old printer died. New printer purchased. Old printer software "uninstalled" via Canon's uninstall software. New software installed. And almost everything worked, but not the scanner. Canon is baffled. They have the Tutor's client uninstall, re-install, unplug, replug and do the hokey-pokey. No dice, it still doesn't work.

The problem was, the uninstall software only uninstalled the PRINTER DRIVER, but left behind all the old all-in-one software which confused the new printer installation. Since it saw some of the same software already there, it did not install all the software for the new printer. SHAME on the manufacturer for using the same names and same folder for the software installation.

It took the Tutor less than 10 minutes to solve the problem. There was a Canon folder and ALL the software in sub-folders stored on the computer's hard drive. Once the Canon folder and all its files and sub-folders were manually deleted, the new printer software and printer driver installed quickly and every piece worked perfectly. Printing, scanning, copying and faxing all now working. Maybe the Tutor should tutor the Canon tech support people...

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is the old software really UNINSTALLED, and is it turned on?


Thursday, January 20, 2011

The January UNPLUGGED Curse

Plugging in...

Is it the Tutor, or is the January electrical demon unplugging everything computer-related?

Unplugged Award number four goes to the HP Media Vault used for backing up. Connect, Protect, Simplify. The HP StorageWorks Media Vault Pro provides a simple solution for small businesses for secure, automatic on-site backup and file sharing – without IT personnel, so says the website.

When the backup software went looking for a place to backup to, it came up empty, and hence the unclear error message. The Tutor asked to see the backup vault and wondered aloud, how can one tell if it is on? That led to looking all around the unit and finding the rear-facing, round power button. The unit is so dark when turned off, one cannot see there are little led lights on the front of it.
When the little blue lights aren't flashing on the front of the Vault, an unclear error regarding the NAS path appears on the screen. What, you ask is NAS? Network attached storage. Unplugged? No, not this time. More like shut off. With the power button. On the rear of the unit. Accidental? Cleaning personnel? Not sure, but a quick punch of the button brought flashing blue lights (thankfully not police lights, even though the backup is very speedy), the unit beeped back to life and the backup proceeded as usual.

Power to the people.

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


Sunday, January 16, 2011

How SLOW can you go?

Plugging in...

The client noticed a serious time lag in starting up the computer. A full ten minutes of serious lag. That startup time was confirmed by yours truly. All the normal sorts of things that can cause startup delays were checked: programs loading without necessity, too many temporary and/or temporary internet files, miscellaneous and unnecessary services running, scheduled tasks that check for updates every hour. NONE of those was the culprit. In fact, the computer was relatively "clean" and usually very fast.

Aside from pouring Geritol over the keyboard to give it an energy boost, the Tutor stuck her head under the desk and traced a multitude of cables and power cords to their respective devices. With one quick yank, the startup lag disappeared. Can anyone guess what was disconnected with the thoughtful yank? A USB four-port hub which had four USB cables plugged into it. Once the hub cable was disconnected from the computer, the startup woes went away.

The client was perplexed as the USB hub was not new, nothing outwardly appeared to have changed from fast day startup time to slow day startup time. Nothing different was plugged in or unplugged. We chalked it up to the "we don't care if the problem is solved" arena and let it go at that! And the client agreed to plug the hub in only when the devices attached to it were going to be used (or to plug it in AFTER the computer fully started).

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, are TOO many things plugged in, and is it turned on?


Unplugged: Third Tale's a Charm?

Plugging in...

Can it be possible, a third unplugged story so early in the newborn year, 2011? It can, and it was.

A client called and left a message "Verizon said my computer must have a virus". Oh really?

The Tutor needed to know just a tad more than that so the investigation began. The client spent more than an hour on the phone with a technical support person from Verizon. The sympton was a blank monitor. Hmmmm.

After an hour, the client still had a blank monitor and contacted the Tutor but was frustrated and was able to provide little more than  "Verizon said my computer must have a virus", please help. So off the Tutor went to the client's home (who was not there for the visit) and lo and behold... the monitor cable had let go from the back of the computer. It was mired in a bunch of other wires (you all know how many wires each computer has in a tangle on the floor) and not easy to reach or even to see. Many people can't tell if something isn't right even when they look, unless they have labeled each cable - a great idea, by the way.

Usually, monitor cables are screwed into the back of a computer so they don't fall out because they are top heavy. Over time, a computer can get moved back and forth or left and right, and if any cables aren't fully screwed in, or tightly pushed in, they are prone to eventual dis-engagement. Such was the case.

It was an easy, fast fix for the Tutor. And a classic case of UNPLUGGED! They are not all this easy...

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


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Unplugging: Another Classic

Plugging in...

Unplugging, not quite the same thing as unplugged, but close...

How 'bout those wireless printers, eh? Printing from the sunny deck, printing from in front of the cozy fireplace, printing, um NOT - what happened? Three people were happily printing photos, documents, and emails until, a lovely Lexmark printer message came bounding across the screen - can't find printer.

Well, everyone could see the printer, it was powered on, the little green wireless symbol was lit up light a Christmas tree, the internet was working perfectly, so what the heck?? The way a wireless printer works and behaves is directly related to the wireless router which not only provides wireless internet capabilities, but also allows printers to be used without cables tethering them to computers - like the cutting of an umbilical cord: the printer child is alive and well and functions on its own without the cord. Usually.

A wireless printer gets assigned a number, like a street address, from the wireless router, when first installed. When the printer failed to print (in this instance), it lost its address and there wasn't any particular reason why, nor did any of the three people using the printer directly cause the problem.

When the printer squeaks out messages that defy the printing Gods and Goddesses, what is a lowly mortal to do to get the printer to print again? UNPLUG the power cord from the printer and wait several seconds before reconnecting the power cord. This resets the printer internally and almost magically (unless there are BIGGER problems) finds the wireless router, locates its address, and voila, the printer once again prints when asked. Isn't that just like a human? Sometimes it does nothing when asked, and sometimes it does everything when asked...

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


Classic "Unplugged"

Plugging in...

There is a reason the blog is titled : "UNPLUGGED"

Typical client call comes in, a distressing situation; this one relates to the My Essentials backup unit. The blog readers all know how the Tutor hounds everyone to have a backup plan in place and to use it. Well, this backup plan was in place and was being used, until the backup tab at the top of the software was unclickable (commonly called being grayed out).

Not only was the backup tab unavailable, but the software was hounding the Tutor's client to update the software. And the client tried, wasn't sure what to update (it's never easy - firmware or software or both) so the call was placed to yours truly. The Tutor attempted to advise the client via the telephone (some people still use the phone to communicate, imagine?) but to no avail.

Knock, knock. Tutor arrives and sees the same situation the client described over the phone. Except for one, tiny difference. When asked about the backup unit for the Tutor could not see it, the client showed the Tutor it was next to the desk, and when picked up had the tell-tale light of power clearly on. But as most of you know, some things not only have a power cord, they also have a cable...

The USB cable which connects the backup unit to the computer was dangling like a ripe banana from a tree. Like magic, when connected, the backup tab was illuminated and the backup was initiated immediately, without updating software or firmware.

We didn't let it go at just the backup. When software has an update, it is generally for your own good to have it. When the unit has a firmware update (firmware is still a software program but is stored INSIDE the hardware in ROM (read only memory), it too is usually a good thing. So we did what all good users should do, and we updated. Took several deep breaths, chanted a couple of oomms and made peace with the computing world.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is there more than one thing to plug in, and is it turned on?