Unsolicited Kudos!

April 16, 2014

happy

Steve,  

Just had to tell you that I’m in love with my new refurbished dual-core computer with Windows 7.  My printer and all my programs are up and running.  The new box is as fast as greased lightning, at least compared with my old one.  Windows 7 is a dream, and so user friendly.  Thanks for steering me in the right direction!

Hasta la vista,

Juan

Letter to The New York Times

April 13, 2014

BBS

Dear Haggler,

The nightmarish Best Buy service experience you described in your column ( http://nyti.ms/1ejVO8C ) is, alas, not exceptional.  In fact, the service at Best Buy is, on the whole, abysmal.

My small local computer sales and service business here in the Land of Enchantment (Santa Fe, New Mexico) thrives, year after year — in part, because of “refugees” from the horrors of Best Buy and their almost-a-joke “Geek Squad.”

You say keep it short, so one story out of the dozens accumulated over the years will have to suffice.

angry2

A frustrated customer brought their system in to me after rescuing it from weeks of abuse at Best Buy.  I started it up and noticed there was a Best Buy/Geek Squad diagnostic CD still in the drive.  I said, “hey, maybe there’s something useful on that disk,” so I ran it on one of my shop computers.

A few minutes later, my internet security program flashed a red warning on the screen, alerting me to the fact that there was a dangerous virus on the CD, and that my system was about to become infected if I didn’t remove it.

2014-04-22 17.41.24

Enough said!   I know Best Buy likes to sell new systems; I may have stumbled upon one unexpectedly-creative way they can accomplish that goal!

Steven Salemi
The Computer Guru
Santa Fe, New Mexico USA

http://www.computer-guru.com

Don’t Toss That XP Laptop Yet!!!

April 10, 2014

garbage

A client brought me her Windows XP laptop because she’d gotten the “End of Life” message from Microsoft.  She didn’t want to buy a new system, so I looked the system over and said, “I’m sure we can upgrade this unit to Windows 7.”  And so we did — for significantly less than a new laptop computer would have cost her.  And we kept all her peripherals, applications, and data intact.

My client had used this computer for many, many years, and as a writer, she had carefully chosen the computer originally for the quality of the keyboard and the screen. It fit her like an old glove. She didn’t like the cheap new Windows 8 systems she saw at the store. And so now, with this new lease on life, she’ll be using her “trusty computing companion” for many more years to come. 

Now, that’s value!

So visit The Computer Guru, and if we can keep your XP system going for a few more years, we will…otherwise I can provide a new or refurbished Windows 7 system with plenty of power, storage, and convenience.

Divorce, Cyberspace Style!

March 30, 2014

angry

A client came to me with an interesting dilemma. He was in the midst of a painful, somewhat acrimonious divorce, and to help himself through these difficult times, he would write long, heartfelt letters to his estranged wife and then — NOT SEND THEM. Instead, he would send them to himself.

In doing this, he was following a fine tradition of unsent communications; FDR used to write angry letters to Churchill and Stalin, and then file them away in his desk, never to be sent. Had they been, these incendiary notes might have launched World War III, hot on the heels of the one before it.

Anyway, one of these not-meant-to-be-sent letters was accidentally sent to his wife, and he was slapped with a law suit for harassment or something. He came to me because he really hadn’t meant to send the letter — he routinely sent them to himself, and only himself, instead — and wondered what happened, and wanted to know if I could help establish that the letter was sent by accident.

I looked into the matter, and determined that his e-mail system’s “auto-fill” function contained two entries that began with the letter “M” — one was “ME,” the nickname for his own e-mail address, which he used whenever he wanted to send letters to himself, the other was “MXXXXX@AOL.COM,” his wife’s e-mail address. Yes, by unhappy coincidence, both his e-mail address shortcut (nickname), and his wife’s e-mail address, began with the letter “M.” It was a one in 26 shot, but there it was.

ME

Knowing this, we were able to establish that he typed the letter “M,” intending to send the message to “ME,” but that his wife’s e-mail address automatically came up instead, and in the fury of creation and anguish and emotion and so on, he accepted his wife’s e-mail address (as offered by his e-mail program) without really noticing it. He may even have composed the letter first, as some of my clients do, and addressed it at the last minute, meaning that the erroneous address may have actually been on-screen for only a very short period of time…and, hence, easily-missed.

Unusual, sure, but all in a day’s work here at The Computer Guru! If you need an excellent new or refurbished computer system, or repairs or upgrades to your existing system (PC or MAC), or answers or advice, I can help. At the very least, I can help you find an excellent marriage counselor!  

LATE-BREAKING GOOD NEWS!   The client dropped by today and informed me that my “very clear, very persuasive letter” convinced the District Attorney to drop this charge against him, which saved him from heavy fines and a possible jail term!

Can you say “above and beyond the call of duty?”

Sonars and Lasers and Windows, Oh My!

March 9, 2014

 laserssonar

Although many of my clients are just regular folks (individuals, members of families, and employees of businesses large and small), occasionally I get a high-tech client with unusual computing requirements.  Two such instances occurred just last week, and naturally, The Computer Guru was able to meet or exceed all of their needs.

One client needed to put a specialized laser cutting device into service (value: around $300,000), and the controller for this device required a very old computer system with an “ISA” expansion slot and Windows 98 (or earlier) operating system.  Computers like this have not been made for years, and most of them have long been relegated to the recycling bin, but I was able to scare up and prepare a suitable system for the client, a fully-operational museum piece, and deliver it under budget and ahead of schedule!

2014-03-28 12.16.28

The second client was using a fairly new Macintosh Pro notebook, but needed to run a “Windows Only” sonar training program (I asked him why he needed this, and he said if he told me, he’d have to kill me).  Before coming to see The Computer Guru, he purchased and attempted to install a “virtual Windows environment” on his Macintosh, but that didn’t work out.

I proposed instead a dual-boot Windows/Macintosh conversion, rather than attempting to emulate the Windows OS within MAC OSX.  This approach worked out nicely, and the client was even able to save a few hundred dollars by using an existing version of Office for Windows which he already owned, rather than having to buy a new copy of Office for Mac.  I also saved him money by supplying a single large external hard drive, partitioned into separate “Mac” and “PC” portions, which can back up both of his computer’s dual-personalities.

I told this die-hard Macintosh user that he would probably find the “Windows” side of his computer increasingly useful, now that I’d had my way with it, and he said he probably would!

Another week, another set of challenging computer issues solved in fine fashion by The Computer Guru here in the land of enchantment, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Don’t worry if your computing needs are less exceptional — I’m happy to help!

POSTSCRIPT:  The customer liked this setup so much he purchased another one!

The Quick(en) and the Dead (In the Water)

March 5, 2014

crazyquicken

A client came in with a curious problem: she had years of important financial information on her Macintosh system and for years she used “Quicken 2004” to work with this information.  But when she upgraded to the latest “Mavericks” operating system, she could no longer run the Quicken 2004 program — it is not Mavericks-compatible.  So she downloaded the latest (indeed, the only) Quicken program available for Mavericks — “Quicken Essentials for Mac” — but found that this version could not open or convert her Quicken 2004 data files.

What to do?

I thought hard about the problem and came upon a workable solution:  we purchased a second-hand copy of “Quicken 2005 for Macintosh” and installed this program on an older Macintosh I keep in the shop for such occasions (Quicken 2005 does not run on Mavericks either).  We then opened each of her “Quicken 2004” files in “Quicken 2005,” which converted them automatically to Quicken 2005 format.  THIS format can be converted (using a special conversion tool included with Quicken Essentials for Mac) to a form that can be converted again (“imported,” to be precise) into the latest Quicken for Mac data format.

So, a few hours of labor, some expense, and one splitting headache later, she’s got all her important data completely intact and usable on Quicken Essentials running on her Mac with Mavericks.  Intuit (Quicken) technical support was absolutely no help, by the way — they said it absolutely, positively could not be done!

Another day, another Computer Guru success story!  Come on down to 844 Agua Fria Street if you, your computer, or your data are feeling unlucky…or if it’s time to upgrade or replace your existing machine with a new one!

New Dell Makeover (Or “Building ’em Right The Second Time Around”)

March 2, 2014

WIN8

A client brought in a new Dell tower he’d bought recently, and — like thousands of users worldwide — he just couldn’t stand Windows 8.  Plus, the performance of this system wasn’t that terrific, surprising because it had a speedy Intel Core i7 processor and plenty of RAM.  And why couldn’t this expensive system, which supposedly had everything and did everything, even back itself up?!?!?

Could The Computer Guru salvage this system and help make it satisfying to use, keep its programs and data perennially safe, and transform it from an expensive, frustrating desktop paperweight to a pleasant and productive computing companion, and a worthwhile personal and business investment?

Of course!  Need you have asked?

Saving the baby here was a day-long effort, but the results were worth it.

First off, I replaced the primary 2TB traditional hard drive with a 512GB Solid State Drive — then added a second 1TB traditional hard drive for data storage — and made the original 2TB primary drive a “tertiary” (third) internal drive devoted solely to backup (specifically, backing up the primary and secondary drives mentioned above — i.e., backing up everything).

Naturally, all backup tasks are now fully-automatic and self-contained, requiring no external devices and no user intervention whatsoever.

Then I supplied and installed Windows 7 with a lifetime license onto the solid state disk, and reprogrammed the machine to deal easily and transparently with all three drives, and all the original Windows 8-compatible hardware (sound, video, chipset, network adapters, etc.).

The result?  Astounding performance (no “crapware” or “bloatware” ever comes installed on systems from The Computer Guru!), absolute data security, and an easy familiar computing experience with the popular, proven, and essentially excellent Windows 7.  Given carte blanche, I would have upgraded the video in the system as well — which would have resulted in superior graphics capabilities — but we decided to leave that for next time.

If, like my client, you’ve made the mistake of purchasing a Windows 8 system — or if your existing system, ANY system (Windows or Macintosh) requires a makeover upgrade for improved performance, reliability, security, ease-of-use, or what-have-you — just bring it to The Computer Guru in Santa Fe!

Only The Computer Guru has the knowledge, the experience, the problem-solving skills, the intelligence, and the creativity to turn all your electronic sow’s ears into silk purses.

Are EMFs BAD? Better Lose That Wi-Fi, Dude!

January 7, 2014

What's a Few Brain Cells Anyway?

We all know the benefits — easy, instant access to information and communications, anyway, anyhow, anywhere — but what about the “dark side” of our totally interconnected wireless world?

Why has The Council of Europe called for a ban on Wi-Fi use in schools and recommended wired internet connections instead?

Why has the Israeli Ministry of Education issued new guidelines regarding WiFi use in schools (as of 27 August 2013, the guidelines will stop the installation of wireless networks in classrooms prior to the first grade and limit the use of WiFi between first and third grades; teachers will be required to turn off mobile phones and WiFi routers when they are not being used).

Why did the the French National Assembly vote on 19 March 2013 to adopt the precautionary principle to WiFi in schools in order to protect children’s health,  French Ministers voting to promote wired connections in schools and not WiFi?

Why has the European Environmental Agency called for immediate action to limit exposure to radiation from Wi-Fi, mobile phones and mobile phone towers?  Why have some schools in England, France and Canada dismantled their Wi-Fi and reverted to a wired system due to concerns raised by parents and teachers, and also due to health symptoms experienced by some children?

Are you getting the picture?  Our beloved Wi-Fi — the same technology that allowed the late Steve Jobs, sporting somebody else’s liver and hanging on to life thanks to a cocktail of exotic, expensive anti-cancer drugs specifically targeted to his own genetic blueprint —  to “hold the internet in his hands” with his brand new baby, the wonderful but Wireless/Wi-Fi-dependent Apple iPAD?

If you, too, are concerned with the health effects of Wi-Fi, just come visit The Computer Guru.  After sitting down and discussing your needs, I can recommend, configure, and provide equipment that will allow you to minimize or eliminate your exposure to potentially harmful Wi-Fi signals in your home or office.

“Brain Transplants”– A Computer Guru Specialty!

December 1, 2013
Cheat (Computer) Death With Help From The Computer Guru!

Cheat (Computer) Death With Help From The Computer Guru!

A very common computer catastrophe is when the entire system “dies,” usually caused by a failed system board (also called a “mainboard” or “motherboard” or “logic board”).  Since it can be quite costly and time-consuming to locate and install a suitable replacement, customers usually opt for a new computer system.  That’s fine with me — it was obviously time to upgrade, and there is a fine selection of really great, affordable machines in my showroom at all times.

But what about all the customer’s data, programs, updates, customizations (collectively, “old stuff”)?

Well, any geek from the squad can copy files from an old dead machine to a new one (uh, maybe), but what about all those “legacy” programs, whose installation disks and product keys have long vanished in the mists of time?  They can’t be transferred.  What about specialized customizations and configuration settings?  They can’t be moved over either.  And what if the customer simply doesn’t FEEL like learning or using a new operating system (usually Windows 8 or Mac OSX Mavericks, if you shop elsewhere, although The Computer Guru can provide any operating system you choose, from Windows 95 to Windows 8.1 to Macintosh Snow Leopard and Lion, and everything in-between).

The bottom line is, many customers simply want their old computer back, exactly the way it was (is that the denial stage of mourning a dead loved one?).  Sure, more power and better internet security would be great, but wouldn’t it be nice to see that same old familiar comfortable Windows or Macintosh desktop, intact, with all the icons in the right places, every single program still fully-functional and working just the way it worked before, right down to the favorite picture of Fido chewing his bone or the family having fun on that rafting trip?

At The Computer Guru, technical miracles happen every working day.  Amongst my many specialties is the very tricky task of transplanting an old hard drive (“brain”), complete with every single bit of data (operating system, applications, personal data — everything) into a new or refurbished computer system unit (“body”), and — read my lips — reworking the software in very specialized and exacting ways so that the old system can be brought to life again perfectly inside the new system.

Desktop or Laptop, absolutely nothing is lost!

So even though your computer has died, don’t give up.  Forget what anyone else may have to say about it (including your inner pessimist).  Just bring it to The Computer Guru and we can discuss the many ways we might go about bringing it back to life.

Computer Guru 1, Pomegranate Juice 0!

November 20, 2013

pj

So a client called (I feel like a private detective when I tell these real life computing stories — “a gorgeous blonde walked into my office carrying a smoking revolver…”), saying that he spilled pomegranate juice all over his Asus tablet, with the result that several hundred important art photos were locked up inside.  Could I save them?

The tablet was in a semi-functional state, having been heavily juiced, and it wasn’t a sure thing.  The ports through which information might be retrieved were all clogged up with sticky juice.  But I said I’d give it a try.  A few hours later I’d devised several methods of rescuing the endangered photos, eventually moving them onto a smart phone and freedom…problem solved!!!

We all felt like a drink after this close call, but not Pomegranate Juice…