Monday, January 30, 2012

Hijinks with Hijacking

Plugging in...

What do you do when ALL programs (files that end in .EXE) won't run on your computer, except the Internet Explorer?? This is what appeared each time an icon was double clicked, OR a program was chosen from the menu:

You might initially wonder, how could that happen? It's called hijacking and it's done by some nasty malware that usually can't be traced to its origin. No matter what program was chosen from the list above, NOTHING would run. Nada.

This perplexing problem had a two-step solution. The Tutor downloaded a free malware scanning program via the only thing that worked on the computer, the Internet Explorer. When prompted to RUN or SAVE, the Tutor chose SAVE. Instead of accepting the original name of the program being save with an ending of .EXE, the Tutor changed the ending to .COM (.COM files are also executables). After double clicking on the .COM file to install it, the Tutor scanned the computer for malware - it found 9 ugly infections which it handily identified and removed. Once the computer was restarted, ALL the programs ran just fine.

Thankfully, it only affected .EXE files. If it were written to affect both .EXE and .COM files, the paddle and the creek would be forthcoming!

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


Trials and Office Tribulations

Plugging in...

Microsoft is very cozy with many computer manufacturers. Some computer manufacturers include a trial version of Office on their computers when you buy them. A lovely little Office Trial icon sits on the desktop. All this, for your convenience, of course, or your confusion. Both Microsoft and the hardware vendors have neglected to educate the consumer as to how the trial version works, and how it can become a full working version, or how it can become a frustrating trial. Pun intended.

One unsuspecting client had a laptop with not ONE trial version on the laptop, but two, Office 2007 and Office 2010. Someone should have explained to the client that to make a full working copy of the trial software, a mere purchase of a product key (25 digit number) would be required - a key that matched the version of the Office trial product (there are several versions). Upon opening any program (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc) of the trial version for which the key was purchased, a prompt to type in the product key would appear. Still with me?

The Tutor's client purchased the product key AND the capability of downloading the Office 2010 Student/Teacher software, not realizing the trial software was already installed. Upon downloading the software, there were now THREE versions of Office on the computer. Three different versions: Business and Professional, Student/Teacher and Standard. The product key worked with the Standard edition. And we thought we were done... until the activation wizard popped up and claimed "the multi-product key had already been used". The Tutor's client had NEVER used the key because they didn't understand what they were supposed to do with it.

Up the stream without a paddle? Not yet. The Office activation wizard provides an option to activate by telephone. Upon selecting this option, the Tutor's client was allowed to proceed and was issued a new activation code - not to be confused with the product key.

To cleanup the confusing and excessive number of Office installations on the computer and really do this right, all versions of Office should have been uninstalled. Then a downloaded, fresh copy of the Office product which was PURCHASED (not a trial version) should have been installed, product key typed in and activated.

To avoid the trials and tribulations above, look at the computer FIRST to see if there is a trial version of Office on it. If there is, and it is the version desired, buy the PRODUCT KEY. One can buy a single or 3 installation key.

If it is NOT the correct trial version, UNINSTALL the Office trial version before buying the CD of the desired Office version. Install from the CD and when prompted, type in the product key which comes with the CD. You will later be prompted to activate the sofware.

It is the Tutor's strong suggestion to always purchase software on CD/DVD in case re-installation is required either on the same computer or a newly purchased one.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, is there a TRIAL version installed, and is it turned on?


Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Cup of Java, just what Verizon needed!

Plugging in... 

How many readers have NOT been enticed by the inexpensive bundles from Verizon or Comcast?? I thought so. Many savvy consumers have done something to trim their communication expenses, and a client this week was no exception. Verizon rang, client answered, voilĂ , bundled phone, internet and TV service for two years at a HUGE savings.

How nice that voice messages can be read and/or heard on the computer. Or not. The Tutor's client wanted to hear the voice messages, not read them and there began the research to find out why the audio player wouldn't even show its cute little face on the Verizon webpage.

The computer was a MAC. The internet brower? Safari. The operating system: OS 10.4. And Verzion posted a message at the top of their webpage: this browser is unsupported. The Tutor's client said a resounding HUH and shrugged a "now what"?

Indeed the MAC operating system was dated, as was Safari. Safari couldn't be updated without updating the OS and the MAC computer was old enough that it didn't warrant the attempt and expense. But the Tutor looked at software updates for the computer anyway. And lo and behold... a potential answer sat lurking in the update window. Java. Not a vente decaf, extra cream, mocha, whipped java. But full strength Java updates (notice the plural) for the MAC.

The Tutor suggested the MAC grab a couple of cups of Java*, drink them straight down, and see what would happen. As it turned out, the Verizon webpage message of "unsupported browser" still headlined the webpage BUT, the audio player showed up, and when clicked on, played every voice message - perfectly.

*Java: high-level, object-oriented computer programming language used especially to create interactive applications running over the Internet.

Even though Verizon clearly stated the browser was unsupported, THAT was not the problem. Don't you just love an error message needle-in-the haystack? 

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


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dueling iPads and iPhones

Plugging in...

Someone got a new iPad from the north pole in December, 2011. And someone else took over the old iPad (not new, but a nice gift never-the-less) and made changes to the OLD iPad before the new iPad had anything transferred to it from the old iPad. Hmmm. Add another wrinkle: the same someone got a new iPhone, and the old iPhone went to same person that received the old iPad.

The lesson: DON'T make ANY changes to the older iPad or iPhone before the new iPad and iPhone have ALL the information transferred from them. You and iTunes won't be happy if things are done out of sequence.

The challenges? Too lengthy to go into! If you do as suggested, the transfer and usage of both old and new iPads and iPhones will be less problematic, and maybe, smooth as silk.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: before calling for help - is it plugged in, was the information successfully transferred, and is it turned on?


Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Year, New Phone, New Problem?

Plugging in...

Just because you WANT your new "toys" to play nice with one another, doesn't mean they will. Take an iPhone for example. And a Blackberry, which in this case had never been synced to Outlook. Why should that matter?

The Blackberry had phone numbers in it, but no email addresses. Outlook had email addresses in it, but no phone numbers. The unknowing client activated the iPhone and transferred the phone number from the Blackberry to the iPhone. The iPhone willingly was able to sync with Outlook through iTunes (have I lost you yet?) but wouldn't take the email addresses in Outlook because... there weren't any associated phone numbers. Hmm. Who da thunk THAT would happen! Certainly not the new iPhone user.

The Blackberry now won't work as a phone, the client boarded a plane for warmer weather and took the NEW iPhone without any phone numbers and the computer with Outlook that won't talk to the iPhone.

The solution? The Berry. The Blackberry and the Blackberry desktop software must sync with Outlook. But wait... the Blackberry didn't make it onto the plane! Fed Ex to the rescue. With Blackberry, iPhone and computer in hand, will the client solve the problem? Or will the Tutor get a phone call to aid a wayward iPhone on the client's return?

It is just SO DANG EASY to buy a new phone. But using it? Well, that may require a Tutor!

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