For more information on CompTIA exams, visit http://www.comptia.org
Monday, November 30, 2009
For more information on CompTIA exams, visit http://www.comptia.org
Saturday, November 28, 2009
One thing I have seemed to fix quite a few times this year relates to DC power jacks. These are what you plug your laptops charger into to replenish the battery. These little interfaces are prone to breaking and can be very difficult and expensive to fix (not really if you know where to find the parts!) In the few years I have been repairing computers, nothing is more annoying to fix than the soldered on type of DC power jack that is found on many laptops. I have run across these mostly on Dell laptops recently. I have seen in my opinion, a far superior design. That design is a cabled DC adapter that plugs into the motherboard. These are far easier to replace than the soldered counterparts.
These types of repairs take time to complete. My average time is about 2 hours. At a lot of computer repair shops, you will be told that these cannot be repaired or that it will cost hundreds of dollars to repair. I have seen this happen a lot and people end up buying a new laptop.
Just to prove a point about the true costs of a DC power jack for a Dell Vostro 1000 laptop, the jack cost less than $5.00 USD and was less than $15.00 USD with shipping. The last DC power jack I replaced on a Toshiba (cabled DC jack) cost about $25.00 USD. So you see the parts are normally inexpensive. What does cost the most is the technicians time. Some price reasonably, some price it based on how much they do not want to do it. Keep that in mind when shopping for repair shops and don't be afraid to price out the parts prior to having a laptop repaired. Here's a favorite website of mine to find laptop parts (no Dell parts currently):
For Dell parts, I usually Google search the part or visit ebay.com.
You will need to know your model and serial number, which normally is located on the bottom of your laptop.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
While studying for the Security+ SYO-201 exam the other night, I made my rounds at some favorite tech resources online. I came across a very interesting post over at TechRepublic.com(http://www.blogger.com/) that caught my eye. It was a video from 60 Minutes, a Investigative Reporting TV show that discussed the vulnerabilities that the U.S. electrical power grid faces and has faced for some time now. This video should scare you straight, and make you more aware of why it's important to keep your systems and data secure. Here's the Video -http://www.blogger.com/)
Remember to keep your computer updated, do regular virus / malware scans, & using common sense while using resources on the internet.
Happy Thanksgiving All!!!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
So far, I have installed Windows 7 about 4 times on this laptop. I have tried the Beta, RC1, Home Premium and Ultimate RTM's and have been very pleased with the ease of installation and how fast it went. But here are a few issues I ran into, all related to hardware:
1.) Intel WiFi 5100 AGN - If you have this wireless card, the Windows 7 upgrade may fail. This is a driver issue and can be resolved quickly by removing the Intel Wireless app and driver from your computer prior to upgrading to Windows 7. Believe it or not, this wireless card has a driver that works out of the box with Windows 7, not extra work needed besides setting up your wireless settings. No big problem, but it was kind of annoying.
2.) Nvidia and Realtek HD Audio Drivers - For whatever reason, there are two Microsoft HD Audio drivers loaded when the upgrade/fresh install completes. I found that after loading the Nvidia drivers (Geforce 9m) that include the video and audio chipset drivers, that the sound starts to pop and crack on the Acer Aspire 8930. I fixed this by installing the latest Realtek HD Audio drivers and wa-la, popping and cracking went the way of the do-do.
I will continue to post anything else I encounter or about tips I have for working with the new OS.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I received an interesting trouble ticket yesterday at work from a user stating that when they create a new document in publisher and begin to add clip art, Microsoft Publisher gives an error stating, "Clip organizer cannot complete this operation. Class not registered. Error Code: 0x80040154" and does not allow you to insert any clip art using the clip organizer. This is a problem since my customer is trying to design a much needed flyer by the end of the day. I immediately begin to think the worst, that Microsoft Office is corrupt and will have to be removed and reinstalled....remotely. The customer is about 25 miles away. So to provide the best customer service possible by taking this issue on promptly, I call the customer to let them know I need the PC for a while.
One of the first things I did was recreate the issue. Sure enough, the error popped up when I tried to add some clip art to my awesome blank geek announcement. I was puzzled, never seen this error before. That's where Google & Microsoft's TechNet website comes in. Google came back with the same article that TechNet had, which was that the issue was with the MDAC component in Windows needing to be updated. I already had the most up to date version. The article I found can be viewed here. Well, this little gem did not do the trick for me. So I completely removed Office 2003 and reinstalled the software. The error persisted. More Google searches found even MVP's not being able to fix this issue. I included a co-worker in the search for a fix who came across a possible fix posted on a website called Experts-Exchange.com. This site has come through for me multiple times before and I definitely recommend it as a site to check out while troubleshooting strange and even complex computer & networking issues. Here's what he found:
OK, how to repair a copy of MDAC 2.8 on WinXP with SP2 installed
first, locate the mdac.inf file in c:\windows\inf right click and
when prompted for a location, point to
c:\windows\servicepackfiles\i386 then when promtpet for the XPcd,
either load the cd or point to c:\i386
hey presto, this reinstalls / repairs MDAC 2.8
reference >> http://www.dbforums.com/t1050457.html
Sure enough, this fixed the issue and I was then able to search and add clip art to my awesome blank geek announcement. Problem solved and the customer was also extremely happy! All thanks to the valuable information found from Experts-Exchange.com and the dbforums.com websites.
If you are running Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, this is a relatively easy task to accomplish. My favorite way to do this is by using the computer management console, but the easiest way to do this is to click on Start> All Programs> Accessories> System Tools> Disk Cleanup . The Disk Cleanup wizard will open and ask you to select what you want to cleanup. If you have Windows 2000/XP, you will be asked what drive you want to cleanup along with what to cleanup. I recommend that you cleanup C:\ (which is the default) and select all of the options in the list. If you have Windows Vista/7, you will be prompted with a choice of All Users or My Files. Once you choose, you will then be prompted with the same choice as with previous versions of Windows. There is also a nice little program called CCleaner (formerly known as 'Crap Cleaner') that works great and takes care of the junk that accumulates on a PC. This program can be downloaded from here: Get CCleaner@
Monday, August 10, 2009
Let me start by saying, "One should always consider that any information they store on their PC or access through a web page to be invaluable and kept as confidential and safe as possible."
There are many ways a user can protect themselves and their PC from being compromised. In this post I will be discussing what every PC should never be without: Anti-virus software! Whether or not the PC is connected to the internet or not, one should always be using Anti-virus Software.
There are many different vendors out there that provide Anti-virus software both for a fee and for free. With the current shape of the economy, many users may be looking to cut costs in many areas including what they are buying for their computers. Oftentimes that hefty $60+ USD for Anti-virus software may deter a penny pincher to forego protecting their system thinking that they have to pay for the software before they can be protected. I know the feeling, I’ve been there!
With a little online research, one can find that there are many FREE choices out there that provide ample protection against the most major and common threats out there. I have chosen four that I have personally used recommend to others on a regular basis to others seeking basic protection for their PC's. These are strictly for home uses only, if you have a business and want to use the software I strongly recommend paying for the full versions because 1) you get support and 2) there are even more robust options available geared towards the business environment.
#1) Comodo Internet Security (Product Info - Download)
This particular vendor offers quite a selection of really great freeware that works. Here's what they say about their software:
"Comodo Internet Security is the free, multi-layered security application that keeps hackers out and personal information in. Built from the ground upwards with your security in mind, CIS offers 360° protection by combining powerful Antivirus protection, an enterprise class packet filtering firewall, and an advanced host intrusion prevention system called Defense+."
As stated earlier in this article, I have personally used this product for a while and have been very pleased with the ease of use and available features for a free product. I do find some of the nag alerts to be annoying but most of them can be turned off with a little extra configuration. I am also impressed with the built in firewall and the amount of control one does have with this free product. I currently recommend and install this software on PC's I repair for home users.
#2) AVG Anti-virus (Product Info - Download)
Before I discovered Comodo, I was a strict fan boy of this software. I still recommend this software for basic protection but it is no longer my first choice. The main reason is that it does not offer any more features with the free version beyond basic Anti-virus/Anti-Spyware protection. Here's what they says about their software:
If you want other features, you have to pay for them. I do like the fact that there is a choice to either do a online or offline install. I have used the business version of this software and found that it was shockingly easy to deploy across a business network and was a good value for the money compared to other business grade Anti-virus deployments I have done. Try it out, it's still a great choice in free Anti-virus software.
#3) avast! Anti-virus (Product Info - Download)
Where AVG Free Edition lacks in features, Avast! makes up for. However, the user interface is a little less intuitive for my liking. Here's what they have to say about their product:
If you consider yourself technically inclined, then this software may be a good choice for you. For the average user, I would stick with Comodo, AVG, or my next recommendation.
#4) Microsoft Security Essentials (Product Info - Download) (In BETA, currently using on my personal laptop.)
This is one of Microsoft's latest attempts at improving security on the Windows operating system for home users. So far, this software has impressed me with it's capabilities and it's speed. The interface is very intuitive and easy to use. Since it's still in BETA, downloads were limited and are not available currently from the Microsoft website. Here's their pitch:
Microsoft has shown it's willingness to help their users secure Windows, and to do it for free (so far). I used the software a few weeks ago to remove some really nasty malware from a hard drive. No traces after running Security Essentials when scanning with other software titles. Good Job Microsoft! As stated above, this is still in the BETA phase and can no longer be downloaded from Microsoft, but a quick Google search will land you on sites that have the BETA available for download.
I hope this post helps you in researching further and choosing a free Anti-virus solution for your home PC.