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Our support packages will provide you with skills that would be otherwise costly to acquire and maintain. Our technical professionals are not only certified, but they possess the skills to implement systems. They are well versed in the latest technologies and have implementations in real-world situations across the country. In fact, our successes are so many, they are impractical to list here. It is our experience that certified technicians with real-world experience is a formula for success. Our clients demand results and we deliver them.

Hiring Alonso Consulting to be your external IT staff is a cost-effective way to implement and support networks whether they are local or wide area networks. It is also a cost-effective way to support your infrastructure and to ensure that all your systems work as expected when needed. Our proactive maintenance will ensure that you have a backup when disaster occurs. It will also ensure that your PCs have up-to-date anti-virus software and that your systems are scanned periodically for spy ware.

Alonso Consulting can provide you with the planning and guidance that is required to stay ahead of competitors. We provide this service without the internal politics that often taint the information that management receives. There is no hidden agenda and no motivations that would impede us from providing the most accurate and beneficial advice. This is perhaps the most valuable service that we can provide your firm.

As an added benefit, Alonso Consulting can be your add-on staff. We can be there when you want to upgrade your systems and need some extra helping hands to move PCs around, configure them and make sure they are ready for your employees the following day.

 
Three Levels of Support
Out of the three plans we offer, two of them fit the needs of the majority of our clientele. These are the Total Care package and the as needed Supplemental Care offering. Clients with specific needs often prefer a solution that is custom tailored. We can devise such a plan in conjunction with your staff and deliver it under our Custom Care agreement.

Regardless of the plan you choose, you can count on personal service that does not hide behind trouble tickets, automated voice mail systems or other annoying interference.


Total Care
Alonso Consulting’s Total Care package provides you with the peace of mind that all your technical requirements are being handled and that you have an entire company managing your computer needs. We start the engagement by examining all of your PCs, servers, and network. With the information we gather, we create a detailed diagram of how the network is structured. This allows us to immediately spot trouble and recommend enhancements. It also serves as a roadmap to providing you with excellent service.

Total Care includes checking your network for security vulnerabilities, inspecting your backups, checking your anti-virus definitions and making sure that all your computer and network hardware is running within acceptable parameters.

The Total Care offering gives you a toll free number to call and a person that you will get to know on a first name basis. This person will schedule visits to your firm and will keep track of your needs and goals. The plan also provides you with one or more technical people that will get to know your computing and business requirements well. We will assign the same person, or team of people, to your office so that they become experts on your needs and infrastructure. These technical resources will then be responsible for communicating your requirements to the rest of our staff enabling the entire firm to support your needs and make recommendations that make sense for you.

You can best think of the Total Care plan as your off site IT department--an IT department with business savvy managers, certified technicians and proficient programmers.


Supplemental Care
Alonso Consulting’s Supplemental Care plan provides technical assistance on an as needed basis. You can call our office and schedule a technician to visit your office and provide network or PC support. These calls are typically for virus removal, PC or server setup or for fixing common problems like printers that are failing, or lost Internet connectivity.

With the Supplemental Care program, you get many of the benefits of the Total Care agreement, but you get them when the need arises. This is a very cost effective solution for small companies that do not have any IT staff and don’t want to have their business interrupted by a technical problem—problems that Alonso Consulting can resolve efficiently and inexpensively.


Custom Care
Alonso Consulting recognizes that pre-packaged service plans do not meet the needs of all customers. Because of this, we offer the Custom Care agreement. We craft this agreement together with your staff. It can take many forms. One example of a Custom Care agreement is one in which an Alonso Consulting employee is on site two days a week and then available during the rest of the week via telephone and other forms of communications. Another example is an agreement that includes programming services and web site design together with the technical support. We have designed agreements like this for customers that wanted a Total Service Contract. With this agreement, we take care of everything for the client: technical support, computer software and web development, web site hosting, e-mail hosting and even off site disaster recovery data storage.

The Custom Care agreement allows your needs and vision to guide how we support you.


Flexible Payment Plans
Our technical support programs would not be useful if they were not affordable. Unlike other firms that have very rigid payment plans and higher hourly rates, we give our customers a variety of flexible ways to pay for our services. We offer pre-paid service blocks with several price breaks depending on the number of hours purchased. We also offer monthly, quarterly, and annual plans payable in those calendar breaks. All plans are payable via check or credit card once invoiced or can be automatically billed to a customer provided credit or debit card.


Prepaid Block
We offer prepaid blocks of time in the following increments with corresponding discounts off our normal hourly rate:

Hours
Rate Discount
100
37%
50
33%
25
23%


Our hourly blocks are usable for a two year period and do not expire if you renew your contract for another equal amount of hours.

For specific dollar rates, please call our office and we will be glad to schedule a free visit to your office to discuss our rates and services with you.


Monthly Payment Plans
Alonso Consulting’s monthly payment plan is designed to alleviate the impact of a service contract on your budget. You can agree to use 100 hours over a two-year period, for example, and pay for these in twenty four monthly installments while still benefiting from the 37% discount that is offered for this level of commitment. You also have the option of paying for these monthly charges on a credit or debit card so that you will not have to process an invoice each month and cut a check—something that provides your firm with savings in terms of time expended.


Hourly
We can also offer you hourly service as needed. You do not get the benefit of a discount, but you still get the same quality Alonso Consulting care. This payment plan also includes the “no travel time charge” benefit. You may pay for the visit or telephone support via check or charge to your credit or debit card.

   
 
 
   
   
High-end skills available when you need them
 
Lower costs - an IT department without
the costs
 
Proactive maintenance
 
Planning and guidance without internal politics
 
Extra workers as needed
 
On site, telephone, e mail and fax
support
 
No charge for travel time
 
Fast response time
 
   
   
PC and Network Support
 
Internet Connectivity
 
E-mail Support
 
Security Assessment
 
Virus and Spyware Removal
 
Backup and Disaster Recovery Testing
 
Printer Problem Resolution
 
Firewalls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 



     

Alonso Consulting


973.575.1414

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TECHNICAL SUPPORT TIPS FROM ALONSOSHARES.COM

 
Endpoint Protection - password reset
If you get locked out of system manager in your Endpoint software, there is hope. Navigate to the directory where the software is installed and go to the Tools directory. In here you will find the resetpass.bat executable file. This resets the password to the default (admin\\admin). You should now change the passoword to something new for security purposes. One more important thing is this, once you run this, you will have to wait 15 minutes or so before you can log in so don't panic.
 
Error: The current time on this computer and the current
If when logging into a Windows network you get the error "The current time on this computer and the current time on the network are different. For more information about Date/Time properties, see Help and Support. To log on, Contact your system administrator." The issue may be due to the PCs time being off from the server it is logging in to. Try to log on to the machine using the local account. Once in, reset the machines time to as close to the server's time as possible. If you can't log in to the local account and you have the same issues, shut down the machine, unplug it from the network and reboot. You now be able to log in to the machine and reset the time (and date if necessary).
 
Windows Installer Issue
Hello I currently have a workstation running XP SP2, when I right click on any icon, it starts to install Symantec Antivirus. I uninstalled Symantec and reinstalled, tried it again. It tried to install another application. I tried to installed the Windows Installer Clean up Utility and when selecting Symantec from the menu to remove, I get a runtime error. 2 Questions... Does anyone know what I can do to fix the installation issue? Does anyone know what the issue with Windows Utility is? Thanks in advance for any assistance Erin
 
Creating searchable content
I'm looking to convert several large department documents into searchable content. I'd like to have a table of contents, knowledge base that users can search and a printable version of the entire document ( as well as individual subjects). Does anyone have a suggestion on a product(s)?
 
Backup Procedures
What I ended up doing was building a new backup PC/Server running Backup Exec 10d. I Purchased a SAN cluster running my D2D backups to this and then backing this data up to tape. I chose a SAN cluster from LeftHand Networks. There product allows me to carve out as many volumes as I need. These boxes work great for almost anything D2D backups, Exchange, SQL, etc… 1. Built new backup server. a. Win XP Pro b. 15 Tape robotic library c. Backup Exec 10d d. Grandfather, Father, Son scenario e. Nightly differentials 2. SAN Cluster a. 3 - 1.8 TB HP DL380 with LH Networks OS preinstalled b. Create D2D volume Any questions email me.
 
Favorite Windows Shortcuts
As most of you know, there are hundreds of different keyboard shortcuts to use through your various programs. I've found that the following list contains the ones I use the most. ALT + Tab – lets you cycle through multiple open windows ALT + F4 – Allows you to close the current window Windows key + letter D – minimizes all open windows CTRL + letter N (in Internet Explorer) Opens a new Explorer window F5 (in Internet Exlporer) refreshed the current page F9 (in Outlook) Does a send/receive
 
Outlook and blocked attachments...
If you have moxy to take this fix to the next level, a more permanant fix to blocked attachments can be done in the registry. According to Micrsoft, here is the instruction: 1. Quit Outlook if it is running. 2. Click Start, and then click Run. 3. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK. 4. Verify that the following registry key for your version of Outlook exists. If it does, go to step 5. Microsoft Outlook 2000: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Software\\Microsoft\\Office\\9.0\\Outlook\\Security Microsoft Outlook 2002: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Software\\Microsoft\\Office\\10.0\\Outlook\\Security Microsoft Office Outlook 2003: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Software\\Microsoft\\Office\\11.0\\Outlook\\Security a. Click the Edit menu, click New, and then click Key. b. Type Office, and then press ENTER. c. Click the Edit menu, click New, and then click Key. d. Type 11.0, and then press ENTER. Note This is the correct name if you are using Outlook 2003. If you are using Outlook 2000 or Outlook 2002, you will have to type "9.0" or "10.0", respectively. e. Click the Edit menu, click New, and then click Key. f. Type Outlook, and then press ENTER. g. Click the Edit menu, click New, and then click Key. h. Type Security, and then press ENTER. 5. Click the Edit menu, click New, and then click String Value. 6. Type the following name for the new value: Level1Remove 7. Press ENTER. 8. Right-click the new string value name, and then click Modify. 9. Type the file name extension of the file type that you want to open in Outlook. For example: .exe To specify multiple file types, use the following format: .exe;.com 10. Click OK. 11. Quit Registry Editor. 12. Restart your computer. Just be careful not to add every extension in the book, especially if this machine is to be used by unkowing end-users.
 
Custom error pages not working in IE?
There is an issue with Internet Explorer where if the web server is set up to display a custom error page it will still only show the standard error page. For example, you want to have IE redirect users to another site if they go to a page that doesn't exist on your site, but when you set up a custom page in IIS, IE will still display the standard white page with 404 not found. There are 2 ways to fix this, one is in IE itself on the advanced tab of Internet Options. Clear the check box for Show friendly HTTP error messages. That's great for users on your network, but what about the millions of other people in the world? The answer is in your custom error page. All you have to do is add a html comment at the bottom that puts the size of the page over 1k. To add a comment go to a new line and start with // and then just add a bunch of X's or something like that and close it off with another //. Apparently, tells IE not to use its on settings for error pages.
 
Exchange-Using Recipient filtering to stop NDRs
Have you ever looked at the queues in the System Manager and found that there are a lot of domains that are unable to be delivered and are constantly being retried? If you click on one of the queues and check the messages in there, you will see the sender is the postmaster. Usually these messages are undeliverable because they are spam that was sent to addresses that aren't in your organization and the Exchange server is trying to bounce the message back as undeliverable. To get rid of these, go under Global Settings in the System manager and right click Message Delivery and go to properties. Next, go to the Recipient filtering tab and check the box labeled "Filter recipients not in the directory". Now, go under Administrative groups, first administrative group, Servers, <your>, Protocols, SMTP and right click the Default SMTP server and click Properties. On the General tab, click the advanced button, then click to highlight the address of your smtp server and click the Edit button. You will now be in the Identification box, look for the box marked Apply recipient filter and check it. Click Ok three times to close all the windows. Now that recipient filtering is enabled, your Exchange server will not accept mail that is addressed to non-existant accounts, only accounts that have a valid smtp address on the server will have mail accepted.
 
Wireless laptop can't find connection
If you have a slightly older laptop and you are running into issues connecting to an access point while other machines connect right up, here is something to check. If you have already confirmed the driver for the card working well and the connection is enabled but still can't connect? Then you must see if there is a switch for wireless connectivity on your machine. This could be a physical switch on the laptop itself or Function key combination that needs to be pressed. (i.e. Fn F2) This may save you lots of time toying with settings when the only thing that needed to be done was flip the switch.
 
The difference between a firewall and antivirus
I have recently come across some confusion as to the differences between a firewall and an antvirus program. Many people seem to think that a firewall can protect them from all viruses or that an antivirus can protect them from attackers. To clear up any confusion, you need to have both an antivirus and a firewall of some type for complete protection. A firewall is a device or a piece of software that blocks unneeded TCP/IP ports that may expose your PC to the internet. True, a firewall can block some viruses, but only certain types that are spread by accessing unneeded TCP/IP ports. That is only one type of virus, there are many others that can be spread by email or just clicking a link to a website and no matter how good your firewall is, it won't block those types of viruses. That's where the antivirus program comes in. A good antivirus program will monitor your system and alert you if an infected file is being written to your PC, or that email attachment isn't what you thought it was or if there is some harmful code in that website you just navigated to. I recommend a hardware based firewall, because most software based firewalls that run on your PC will take up valuable resources and could hinder performance. Many broadband routers available today have built-in firewalls that provide more than enough protection. Couple that with a good antivirus program (I prefer Norton, but everyone has their favorites) and you'll be able to surf the web without worry. Just be sure to maintain your protection properly. Check your antivirus at least once a day to be sure that it is receiving any virus or progam updates that the manufacturer may be offering. And if your firewall suddenly isn't working correctly, there may be an update available for that too. Again, check the manufacturer's website.
 
The password does not meet the password policy requirement
If you are trying to change a user's password on a Windows server and keep getting a message that says "the password does not meet the password policy requirement..." then you must check what policies the server is using. To do this, go to Administrative Tools and open Default Domain Security Policy. In the new window open Security Settings>Account Policies>Password Policies. Double click the password policies to reveal the options in the right-hand pane. If the option "Password must meet complexity requirements" is set to enabled, right click this, select the Properties option and see what options are set. You will also want to check the Password length option if this is enabled to see what the minimum number of characters is required for the password.
 
IE 7 - Tab options
For those using the new version of IE you may be enjoying the new tab feature included. If you want to to tweak this option or turn them off go into Internet Explorer, go to Tools>Internet Options and then at the bottom of the Window under the Tabs heading select the Settings button.
 
Peachtree - error on period change update
In Peachtree software if you are attempting to change the period and you receive and error that mentions that "You are attempting to perform an operation on your company data that requires singe user access..." then you need to make sure only one user is logged into the software. If you believe you are the only one logged in but still receive the error and you have users that connect remotely, a quick check is to log into the server where the software resides, go into task manager and under the processes tab see if anyone has the Peachtree executable running called peachw.exe. If so you can see what user it is and have them disconnect. Now go back in and you will be able to make the change.
 
NAT Mappings...
The most common use of the NAT feature in the router is to allow multiple users to have access to the Internet through one IP. With NAT turned on the one public IP in the router is shared by all machines on the network. More importantly though, what this feature does is route packets to the internal addresses of the users on a network. These internal addresses are not routable across the Internet so this protects the machines.
 
TCP Port exhaustion
I have a server running my Email application. After about 3 days of use, the server is no longer able to send email, though incoming mail still works. Much troubleshooting has finally gotten to the root of the problem. Doing a netstat on the server revealed that there are a ton of TCP connections in the close_wait state. Since these are still technically open, when the server needs another outgoing connection, it pulls the next available port from the pool, and so on, until they are all exhuasted. Once that happens of course, there are no available ports to establish a new outgoing connection, and processes fail. A restart of the SNMPservice will immediately drop the connections and restore proper mail service. Any ideas what could be causing SNMP to hold those connections? The server is an HP DL380 running Win 2003. It has Novell edirectory 8.7.3.8 on it and is running GroupWise 7.
 
Securing your wireless router
These days, everyone is connecting to the internet wirelessly whether it be at home or at the office. Your office wireless connection should be secured properly, but at home most people neglect some simple steps to securing wireless routers. I see it all the time, I install a wireless card in a notebook or a PC and Windows detects wireless networks to connect to. If your wireless router isn't secured, you are not only giving others access to your internet connection but also to your PCs. To secure a wireless router, there are four things I usually do. Log into your router and go into your wireless settings, you should just have to put your router's IP address into your router and log into it. If it is unsecured chances are the password is still at the default (usually admin or password). The first thing you should do is click on your administration tab and change the password. After changing the password, go into the wireless settings. The first thing you want to change is the ESSID, which is the name of the wireless network. Generally, this is set to the router manufacturer's name, like linksys or netgear. Change it to something unique. The second thing you want to change is the broadcast or radio settings, disabling this will make it so your wireless network can't be detected. Just take note of your essid and channel that the wireless is listening on, you will need to enter this information into the wireless network settings on the notebook or device you are connecting wirelessly. However, most wireless card software will configure your wireless connection for you and ask you to input that information. You should use the wireless card software if you are not comfortable manually changing settings in Windows. Also, I have found with some wireless routers that broadcast needs to be enabled and can be turned off once you have made the wireless connection with your notebook. The last step in securing your router is enabling wireless encryption settings. There are 2 popular types to choose from. WEP and WPA. I recommend WPA if your router supports it because its easier to configure and offers a higher level of encryption. WPA usually requires you to set a shared key or passphrase, this is like a password and then enter the same thing in the wireless card settings on the notebook. WEP is an older form of encryption which can be set at either 64 bit encryption which will require you set a 10 character hexadecimal key or 128 bit encryption which uses a 26 character hexadecimal key. Hexadecimal characters are the numbers 0-9 and the letters A-F. The keys can only contain those characters. Take note of your security settings as well for when you are configuring your wireless device. Overall its not that difficult to protect your wireless network. Just a few steps will discourage any would-be hackers from breaking into your wireless network. Feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.
 
Outgoing Mail suddenly does not work
Many a day we have received calls about outgoing mail not working after it had been fine the day before. After checking the mail server and testing the account, it more than often turns out to be the ISP. So what is the issue? more and more DSL and cable providers are prohibiting the use of your own mail server to send mail instead requiring that you use their outgoing servers. This is being done for spam purposes trying to prevent spammers from relaying. The issue is that many ISPs implement this change and don't do a good job of informing their customers. If you run into this situation where you can only receive and not send, check with your provider to see if they require the use of their outgoing servers.
 
Internet Explorer 7.0 - Improved Cache clearing options
One feature I've found and like a lot in the new browser is the options you are presented with when you go under Tools>Internet Options and then select the Delete button on the first tab. In previous browser versions you could only delete temporary files and delete cookies. This was somewhat limiting in that you may have to delete some cookies or files that you need. In the new browser these options are broken out into separate delete options. This makes it easier to see what you are eliminating and gives you more options and control. Here is the list of options you get now: 1. Temporary Internet Files 2. Cookies 3. History 4. Form Data 5. Passwords This is much better than before because now you can keep what you need and eliminate what you want to get rid of.
 
Microsoft Office Word Customization
Many of you use Microsoft Word on a daily basis. One very simple customization can help you use that software more efficiently. When you open Word you normally see the Standard and Formatting toolbar in one row. Because of the layout, some useful icons are not visible. The toolbar area also looks cluttered. If you put your mouse over the arrow at the end of the toolbar on the right side and click to open the drop-down menu you will have the option to “Show Buttons on Two Rows”. If you select this option, you will see more buttons and have more options available for your use.
 
Internet Explorer tidbits
Many of these may be old news for the experienced Internet Explorer users but for some these tips can be helpful. To start, if you are viewing a web page and want to see it in full screen, simply hit the F11 key. To take it out of full screen mode, just press F11 again. If you are searching for a particular piece of text on a web page the fastest way to find it is to use the search function. Hold down the Ctrl key and press the letter F. This will bring up the search dialog box. Type in the word you are searching for on the page and then click Next. Another favorite of mine in Internet Explorer is the shortcut to open a new window. To do this hold down the Ctrl key and then press the letter N on the keyboard.
 
Local printer not showing up in Remote Desktop session
Many people report not being able to print to their local printers in a remote desktop sessions. There are a few reasons why this can happen: 1. There is no driver for the local printer installed on the terminal server. -This is the most common cause, you can tell if this is the case by checking the server's system event log for errors saying that the printer's driver could not be installed. If this is the case just download the driver and install it on the server (Provided that the is compatible with the Terminal Server's OS). 2. When the printer was installed locally, a setup program from the CD that came with the printer was run and that in turn set up a "virtual printer port". Even though the printer is connected to the parallel port of the local PC, some manufacturer's will set up a port and set up the printer driver to print to that. Check the properties of the local printer and make sure it is set to LPT1 because by default the Remote Desktop client will only map to standard ports(i.e. LPT, COM or USB ports set up by Windows). An alternative method to fixing this issue is to force any type of port to be mapped, to do this, go into the registry and navigate to the key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\\Software\\Microsoft\\Terminal Server Client\\Default\\AddIns\\RDPDR, go to the edit menu and click New, and then DWORD value. Type FilterQueueType and press Enter. Then go back to the edit menu and click on Modify. Type FFFFFFFF and then click Ok. This will enable any port on the client PC to be redirected. These are two of the most common causes for printer redirection issues with Terminal Server. Any of the procedures above should take care of them.
 
Quick Test for network connectivity
When troubleshooting network/Internet connectivity, a quick way to see if your PC is talking to the network is to see what address your computer has. If you right-click on My Network Places, go to Properties, then right click on Local area connection and go to Status. now in the new window select the Support tab. You will now see in this window what your IP address is. If you are on a network or have a router set up to give you an IP address, then it should not start with a 169. If your IP does, this is a good indication that your machine is not talking with the server or router. Check your TCP/IP settings to see how they are set and then check the physical connections to see if you are connected.
 
Outsourcing to India
The sad part of this is that this has nothing to do with anything but greed. Just this morning it was announced that Dell beat its third quarter earnings forecasts lead by sales in laptops pushing the stock up over 10%. So why are they going to India? because many of their previous reports were below forecasts and instead of coming up with new products, ideas and marketing, they take the easy route and run to India to cut costs. Maybe if they just continued improving and supporiting their line of laptopts and other offerings they would not have to abandon the country that made them what they are today.
 
Start Menu
The most often used area on your PC desktop is probably the Start Menu. We use it so often that it is important that it looks the way we like it and that it contains all the components that are necessary for our everyday use. You can customize your Start Menu by right clicking the Task bar (that is the bottom area of your screen that is a different color) and selecting "Properties." You have two options “Start Menu” and “Classic Start Menu”. See which one better works for you and then customize it further with the provided options. You can also customize the Task Bar under Properties to better fit your needs.
 
Why can't I share my tasks in Outlook
If you store you mail locally (on your PC) you will find that if you go to the options for your tasks it will be greyed out for sharing. To share them you must change your mail delivery to go to the server instead of your machine. Once this is done, you can right click on the tasks option in the Navigation Pane and then select Sharing. In the new window you can now add users and give them rights. Please keep in mind, this will only apply if you are working off and Exchange Server, this does not apply to POP3 Accounts.
 
Removing Software from your Computer
Many people believe that when they delete a program icon from the Desktop or Start-Up Menu they got rid of the software from their machine. That is not the case. All that is being deleted is the shortcut to the program. If you want to delete software go to My Computer and click Add or Remove Programs link on the top left hand side under System Tasks. The computer will show you a list of programs installed on your computer. Click the one you want to delete and then click remove. This will uninstall the software from your machine.
 
Remove Toolbars in Internet Explorer
These days there seem to be so many people who want to attach their toolbar to your Internet Explorer. This can result in several levels of toolbars that take up valuable screen space that can be used to actually view a web page and they create a lot of clutter. If you have toolbars in Internet Explorer that you would like to get rid of, go to View --> Toolbars. A sub menu will display with the toolbars that are available to you. Toolbars that have a check next to them are ones that are currently being displayed. To hide some of these toolbars, simple uncheck the ones you no longer want to appear.
 
Remote Desktop - disconnects
For those who use remote desktop frequently, one thing you have to watch for is if you get disconnected while in the middle of a session, at times, applications you were running may not end. What can happen is if you continually get disconnected and you keep logging back in and opening the same software, you may have several instances of this running and not realize it. It is important to check in the Task Manager to see what is running when this occurs, especially under the Processes tab.
 
Can't find your USB storage device after plugging it in?
Many users today use devices such as cameras and flash drives to transfers files to their computer. Usually you just plug them in and Windows will set them up no problem. But sometimes you will see the driver install without error, yet you can't get to it in My Computer. This frequently happens when the PC you are connecting the device to is on a network and there are drive letters mapped to shares on the network. Remedying this issue is actually pretty simple. First, right-click your My Computer Icon and click Manage. This will open up Computer Management. Look in the right hand column and click the + sign next to Storage to expand it, then click on Disk Management. When you have done this, on the left side will be a list of all the local hard drives, CD-Roms, etc. on your PC. The top left section will list the drive letters they have been assigned, this is where we need to look first. Look for your device in the list, it will most likely be named USB storage device or removable disk, and once you have found it, right click on it and click on change drive letter. You will now be in the Change drive letter dialogue box, it will show the current drive letter it was assigned. Now, click on the Change button which will open another dialogue box. Where it says to use the following drive letter click on the drop down and select a different letter from the list, (however before you choose a letter, open your My Computer and look at what drive letters you are currently using) once you have selected the letter, click on ok. You should now be able to see your device as a new drive letter in My Computer, now you can click on it and access it like any of your other drives.
 
Disk Defragmentation
Computers can become very messy with disk space and store files in parts all over the disk. This slows the performance of the computer. It is a good idea to clean up the disk from time to time. This is known as defragmentation. If you go to Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter and click on "Defragment," the tool will rearrange components of files and place all of them together so that they are stored continuously on the physical disk. This will improve the performance of your machine. If you would like to see the status of your disk before you go through this step, you can first analyze the disk and see a report showing what the defragmenter will do to your disk. The report will let you see the arrangement of the files before and after defragmentation.
 
Outlook - Why does my signature not work on replies
There are settings for your signature to be used for new and replies/forwards in Outlook. These can be set to use the same signature or different ones. To set Outlook to use the same one for both, go into Outlook, select Tools>Options and then the Mail format tab. At the bottom of that window you will see the signatures section, here you can select what you want to use for new and for replies and forwards.
 
Free Space and System Information
From time to time computer users need to find out information about the system they are using. If you need to get that information go to Start Menu/My Computer and then click on “View System Information” link on the top left hand side. You can view basic information under the "General" tab. Also, if you want to find out the amount of free disk space go to My Computer and put your mouse pointer over the disk drive's name.
 
E-mail Signature in Outlook
Many of us use Outlook for emails. You can customize it so that every email that you send has your signature and information about you (for example phone number) formatted in a way you like. If you want your signature to appear automatically on the bottom of your message go to Tools/Options/Mail Format and under Signature create your signature. You can use a different signature for new messages and for replies and forwards.
 
Spyware removal-What should I use and how should I use it?
There are many tools available to scan for and remove spyware out there today. It can get confusing which to use and also how to use them. Many times just running a scanner like adaware or spybot only temporarily removes the spyware until you reboot your PC and then its back again. This can get very frustrating. When I am called in to remove spyware from a PC (and believe me, I've done it many times), the first thing I do is run Adaware (after updating it to the latest version and definitions of course). I like Adaware because it first scans what is running in memory first, not just the programs you see in the Task Manager but also dll files that have been loaded into memory, because a lot of times, spyware will get loaded by a legitimate program such as IE that loads plugins or other types of dlls at startup. Once the initial scan is complete I have Adaware remove anything it finds and then scan again to see if anything has come back. When the second scan is done, I usually google the type of spyware (on a noninfected PC) that was found to see if there are any special instructions for removal and what files it typically uses. Sometimes to delete these files you have to go into safe mode so they are not loaded when your PC starts up. Eventually I end up getting a clean report from AdAware, then I run a scan with Spybot. Again updating to the latest version and definitions first. Spybot usually finds some other spyware that AdAware misses, and then I follow the procedure I followed with AdAware. Having it delete what it found and then rescanning to see if it still picks anything up. When Spybot comes up with a clean report, I then run a virus scan for good measure to make sure that the spyware didn't let anything in and also because most antivirus programs on the market these days also detect spyware. You can get both Adaware and Spybot for free, just follow the links below: AdAware: http://www.lavasoftusa.com Spybot: http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download
 
Your Personalized Online News
Nowadays a lot of people use Internet as the primary source of news. I would recommend using Goggles News. If you go to www.googles.com/news you can personalize your news. You have the option to choose sections based on your areas of interests. You can choose from predefined sections or create your own. Use the box on the top right side of the window and click “Personalize this page.” You can pick from listed selections, add a standard section from the dropdown menu or create your own custom sections on the topics you would like to read about that have not been listed yet.
 
Internet Explorer 7.0
Microsoft launched the new Internet Explorer browser version 7.0. I find it to be a time saver. It has auto fill options which automatically fill in website addresses or searched topics based on the first couple of letters you type. Unfortunately, some things seem to be missing from the new version. One command that is hard to find is “Create a shortcut “which used to be available under the File menu. To create a shortcut to a website while using Internet Explorer 7.0 you need to right click on the website (not on a picture) and choose “Create a shortcut” from the drop down options.
 
PC running slow, 99% Processor use - helpsvc.exe
If you are experiencing issues with your PC where all programs are dragging check your Processes under task manager to see if you find helpsvc.exe running and using up to 99% of you processor resources. This is actually a legitimate process related to the Help and Support Center on your machine. Microsoft has a hot fix for this issue which can be retrieved from the Microsoft site. If this does not resolve the issue or you need a quick fix, simply go to the Services on your machine and right-click and disable the Help and Support service and then set it to Manual restart by right-clicking again, going to Properties and then selecting Startup Type: Manual. If you need to run the Help Service at any point, simply turn this back on.
 
Useful Settings for QuickBooks
Every program can be customized to help a user work more efficiently. For example, there are a couple of useful QuickBooks customizations that make the life easier. Moving between fields can be done using the mouse or "Tab" key. You can also go to Edit/Preferences/My Preferences/General and check the box for "Enter" to be the key for navigating between fields. One reason that it is helpful is that normally pressing "Enter" by mistake will save the transaction you were just working on even if it is not finished yet. If you fail to notice, this could cause a lot of accounting problems. Another modification that I would recommend is the view multiple windows option. Go to Edit/Preferences/My Preferences/Desktop View and check the appropriate box. It is helpful because you can operate on a couple of windows at once with no need to close one in order to open another one.
 
Internet Explorer Window Maximization
There is a very easy way to maximize the window while browsing a website. Besides using the "Maximize" box on the top right side of the window you can use the F11 key to see only the content of the web site you are browsing. This eliminates the web address and all the toolbars that you would otherwise see and that would take up screen space. This makes the screen look very neat and clean. To go back just use the F11 key again.
 
Privacy with Internet Explorer
Computers keep records of the websites we browse and the information we type in to login to e-mail or to fill online forms. Most of the time we would like this information to be secret and not be remembered by our computer. One way to minimize the availability of the information we type is by changing the Internet settings for our computer. Open Internet Explorer and go to Tools/Internet Options/Content. By clicking Settings for Auto Complete you can uncheck boxes for automatically completing web addresses, forms and user names and passwords. You can also go to the General tab and under Browsing History you have the option to delete temporary Internet files, cookies, browsing history, form data and passwords individually or all at once.
 
Windows Updates can turn on services previously turned off
Beware after you have run windows updates that you check to see if various components have come back on. For example, I have noticed that after updating a machine and restarting that the Windows firewall that was previously off has turned back on. If you do not use the Windows firewall, you will want to check for this after an update to see that it is off. This is just one example, if after any updates there are issues or things running that you did not have previously, it was probably restarted because of the update.
 
How to detect spyware and viruses manually
So your PC is running slow and you think you may have been infected with spyware or a virus. Here are a few things on your PC to check that will tell you if you are infected. 1. Task Manager - Either right-click the taskbar or press ctrl-alt-delete and click task manager. Click the processes tab and then click on CPU to see what taking up all the CPU resources, if its something other than System Idle Process at the top, you could be infected. 2. The Registry - Click Start and then Run, and then type in regedit and click OK. This opens the registry editor. It kind of looks like Windows Explorer. First click the + sign next to the folder marked HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, then scroll down and click the + next to Software, then the + next to Microsoft, then scroll down to Windows and do the same, then current version and then scroll down until you find a folder called Run. Left click this folder and on the right side will be a list of programs that are set to run when you start Windows. Look for entries that seem like gibberish, like qwyxx.exe, if you see things like this its either a virus or spyware. Likewise things may look legitimate, but still don't belong there. Anything marked Windows Update is probably a malicious program because the Windows Update service never starts this way. Another place in the registry to look is under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\\Software\\Microsoft but instead of Windows, click the + sign next to WindowsNT, then click under CurrentVersion and scroll down to the folder name Winlogon and left click it. On the right side you want to look for 2 entries. The first is an entry marked Shell and the data column should only read Explorer.exe, if there is anything after Explorer.exe that is usually another way malicious software is started. The second entry you want to look at is marked Userinit and that should only read C:\\Windows\\system32\\userinit.exe in the data column, again if there is anything after that, it is most likey malicious software. One last place to check is a simple one, just click your Start button, go to Programs and then the group called Startup and look to see what is set to start up when you log into Windows. If you do check these areas and something looks suspicious, please consult a PC professional to remove the entries. A lot of times, just deleting the entries isn't enough as there are processes running that will just put them back. It can be very difficult to successfully remove the malicious software for good, as you can do more damage to the PC than the virus would. Don't take chances, if you have checked the steps above and you suspect you may be infected, give us a call at the number above and we can help you get rid of it.
 
I boot up and the screen is black with a blinking cursor
This may be the oldest one in the book but at least once a year we get this call. If this is happening to you, 99% chance you have either a floppy or a boot CD in your drives. Your floppy you can check at any point to see if there is anything in the drive, with the CD drive, as long as the machine is powered up, simply press the button on the drive to open the tray. Once you've removed the disk, try a fresh reboot.
 
E-mail - Delete but do not empty
As a heavy user of e-mail who receives an average of 30 - 50 messages each morning and then several throughout the day, I have found that it very easy to delete legitimate messages. This may not be mail from someone you deal with on a regular basis but we are so overwhelmed with spam these days that many users are quicker than billy-the-kid at shooting down messages. One safeguard I've put in place to protect myself is to make it a habit of deleting mail but not emptying the trash right away. I will typically keep mail in the trash unitl it is a month old. This practice allows me to go back any time and pull out a legit message I had tossed. Once message pass that month old period, chances are nothing there was legitmate or needed.
 
Installing Windows Updates - use caution
There have been many times that MS releases updates or patches, and they cause more problems than they fix. A lot of users have the Autoupdate feature enabled, and don't realize it until after a "bad patch" was installed. Autoupdate should be disabled or at least set to prompt before installing so people know what is being put on their PCs. It is recommended that administrators test patches before rolling them out to all the clients, to avoid a network wide problem from one patch. I've actually had to roll an update back using the recovery console once. Its not fun. The exception to the above is when there are critical updates released that patch security holes that viruses can infiltrate. However, if your clients are running fine, test those too. A good firewall will normally give you all the time you need to test patches without worrying about being compromised.
 
Bounce Back Error: Following recipients could not be...
If you receive this message when trying to send mail: Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients. Subject: RE: Follow up Sent: 9/25/2006 11:39 AM The following recipient(s) could not be reached: user@domain.com on 9/25/2006 11:40 AM There was a SMTP communication problem with the recipient's email server. Please contact your system administrator. <mailserver.com #5.5.0 smtp;554 <test>: Relay access denied> The issue can be caused by various factors but one possible cause for the error is from greylisting. If the receiving server is set to greylist, it will initially reject a message, since most non-spamming mail servers will try to resend the message, upon receiving the resent message, the receiving sever will let the message through this time and whitelist the domain for future mail. To fix this issue you must make sure the mail server is set to retry sending. If this is already the case, you may need to contact the recipients IT group and ask to have your domain whitelisted.
 
The ipconfig command
Usually when users have connectivity issues, they can right click the connection and click on repair to try and renew their IP address with whatever DHCP service they are using. However this doesn't always work properly. When this happens, its time to open a command prompt. At the prompt, you want to use the command ipconfig /release to release your current IP info and type ipconfig /renew to get new IP info. This will usually succeed when Repair fails. If connectivity problems persist, the issue may be with your router or server. Ipconfig has many other uses too. If you are having trouble browsing websites, try entering ipconfig /flushdns to clear the resolver cache (Windows keeps a cache of dns names on your computer and sometimes IP addresses on the internet can change, thus causing a page to fail when trying to connect). Also, if you want to see detailed ip information, type in ipconfig /all to get all relevant IP information.
 
Outlook- pst file limits and disaster prevention
Many users these days like to keep old email. Unless you use Exchange server, Outlook stores mail, contacts, calendars etc in a file on your hard drive called a personal folders file with a .pst extension. Prior to Outlook 2003, these pst files could be no larger then 2GB in size. Once it got to the limit, Outlook would report errors and not download mail and you would have to create a new pst to archive old emails. Outlook 2003 ups the limit to 20GB, allowing users to store much more old emails. However, one thing to note, if you are using pst files, they are probably stored on your hard drive and not being backed up, so if something happens to your computer they will be gone. There are a few ways to safeguard against this however. If you are on a network, you can relocate your pst file to a network share. The default location of the pst file is under C:\\Documents and Settings\\username\\local settings\\application data\\Microsoft\\Outlook. You can also do a search for files ending in pst. When you find it, copy it to the network share and reconfigure your Outlook profile to point to the pst copy on the share. (Note: This setup is not supported by Microsoft, but it works ok, though Outlook could slow down at times depending on pst size and network connection speeds). If you are using an Exchange server, critical emails should be left in your Exchange inbox, because chances are your Exchange server is being backed up regularly, and if it isn't you probably need a new network administrator. If you are not on a network, you can periodically copy your pst file to a blank cd or dvd or any other type of removable media. That way your old emails can be restored easily if your hard drive crashes.