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The 8 Words PC Techs Hate to Hear

Matt called my office yesterday describing a very common computer problem.

“Scott, my computer is running really slow,” he lamented.  “I can’t get anything done.”

I Can't Hear You

Then he uttered the eight words I hate being asked over the phone – “What do you think is wrong with it?”

It’s a legitimate question.  Matt, like every other client I regularly speak with, really wanted to know why his PC wasn’t working like it should, and what needed to be done to fix it.  He knew there was a problem, but it wasn’t something he could figure out.  That’s why he called me – the computer doctor!

After probing and asking specific, in-depth questions, diagnosing some computer problems can be done rather easily over the phone.  In some cases, I can walk a client through steps to better troubleshoot or even fix the issue.  If they utilize our remote access software, I can log in to their PC over the Internet to assist.

But most computer problems are just SYMPTOMS, especially in cases where a computer is described as running slow.  Accurately determining the root cause of an issue may not be able to be done by just hearing a description.

Let me illustrate.

You’ve vowed to become a healthier you in 2015 as one of your New Year’s resolutions.  It’s been a while since you’ve gone to the gym, lifted weights, and ran a mile or two on the treadmill.  But you decide this year will be different.

So one day you get up early, force yourself into the bone-chilling winter weather and make your way to the gym.  Your 45-minute workout goes well – not too intense, but you can tell your body got a workout.  Then you spend the next eight hours at work before you go home.

After eating supper, you sit down in your favorite easy chair to watch some TV.  You begin to feel this sudden, sharp pain in your chest as you breathe.  You begin to worry, but you refuse to go to the ER.

The next morning, you awake and prepare for your day, but notice the pain is still there.  You skip your workout, but decide to call the doctor.

You tell him your activities prior to the pain, and then you ask him, “Doc, what do you think is wrong?”

You’re hoping he tells you that it’s nothing to worry about.  Instead, he says, “You need to go to the emergency room so we can order some tests.  It may be nothing – just a pulled muscle.  Or it could be a sign of something more serious – like a heart attack.  We won’t know until we do these tests.”

Many computer issues require the same – we have to run tests on your computer to truly pinpoint the real cause of your computer problems.

Continuing my example from above – Matt complained of his computer running slow.  This could be caused by a lot of things.  To name a few:

  • A corrupted Windows file
  • A problem with a software program
  • An excessive amount of junk/temporary files built up
  • A faulty driver
  • A bad memory module
  • A failing hard drive

I asked Matt to schedule an appointment to bring his computer in so I could run full diagnostic tests.  Then, I could confidently advise him what I needed to do to fix the problem and what it would cost.

Although your PC tech is an expert in his/her field – just like your doctor, please don’t be disappointed when they can’t diagnose your computer problem sight unseen.  It’s a wise decision to allow them to thoroughly test your computer so it can be fixed right – quickly and the first time.

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Adapt or Get Left Behind: Tech Predictions for 2015

“Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road,” writes author Stewart Brand about advances in technology.

Does it ever stop?  I’m often asked by clients and others who feel overwhelmed by the rapid changes.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t.  We have to learn to adapt or run the risk of getting left behind.

20152015 promises to be another year of trends and changes.  Here are a few of what I and other technology experts believe will happen in the next twelve months.

An Increase in Viruses and Security Breaches

2014 proved to be a profitable year for scammers and hackers, raking in billions of dollars using stolen credit card numbers, identity theft, and a myriad of other methods.

Many people (including some who read this column) got duped by phone call scams from callers purporting to be from Microsoft, warning that the recipient’s PC was infected with a virus or experiencing problems.

Companies large and small suffered serious breaches of security affecting millions of everyday consumers like you and I.   These attacks pose threats of the safety of our personal information, health records, and our finances.

(Side note:  Attacks on major corporations like Target, Home Depot and Sony make the news headlines, but I bet you didn’t know that as of December 23, 2014, there were 761 breaches exposing over 83 million individuals’ personal information.  The full 183-page report can be viewed at: http://www.idtheftcenter.org/images/breach/ITRC_Breach_Report_2014.pdf)

Multiple strains of the Cryptovirus took hostage of hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide – including many in the tri-state area, encrypting the personal files and pictures stored on their hard drives, never to be recovered.

These threats to personal computers, mobile devices and major networks will continue to increase in 2015.  Security experts will seek to find effective ways to bolster defenses, but it will come with a cost.

Tech Becomes Wearable

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape in 2015?  If so, many new gadgets that can be worn on your body will make tracking your progress much easier.

The most famous and widely anticipated device is the Apple Watch, which is slated to be released sometime this year.  Marketing on Apple’s website for the watch reads, “Fitness doesn’t just mean running, biking, or working out in a gym.  It’s also about being active throughout the day.  So Apple Watch measures all the ways you move, such as walking the dog, taking the stairs, or lifting your kids.  Apple Watch even keeps track of when you stand up.”

Of course, other tech manufacturers will have their unique gadgets at different – and probably cheaper – price points to help you get and stay healthy.

Alternative Payment Methods

2014 began the war between two major players in offering convenient mobile wallet solutions, allowing consumers to pay for purchases by simply swiping their smart phones at the cash register.  This makes sense, doesn’t it?  Nearly everyone you see has a phone glued to the palm of their hand!

Apple, with its Apple Pay wallet, is going head-to-head against Walmart and other big name retailers, with their CurrentC wallet.

Who will win this battle?  No one knows for sure, but it’s guaranteed to be a great fight.  Neither one wants to let the other play in the arena; each wants to have a monopoly.

Of course, security will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds when it comes to personal credit card and payment information.   Unfortunately CurrentC already suffered a data breach before it was even officially launched.

In 2015, tech will continue to permeate almost every facet of our lives.  While technology can be a great thing, we must heed the words of U.S. Army Field Commander Omar Bradley: “If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.”