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Click to see full-sizeIn a humorous LinkedIn article I came across recently, these three nerds are depicted as IT guys who have heard it all from workers blaming their problems on someone or something else. But instead of that "I've heard all those excuses before!" attitude, I really try to see the customers' problems from their point of view.

One client of mine insisted that her mouse pointer had a mind of its own and would jump all over the screen by itself. Instead of saying, "You dummy! Keep your thumbs off the touchpad!" - I explained to her: "This is a common problem with notebook PCs that use the touchpad in place of a mouse: without our being aware of it, our thumbs can brush against the touchpad, which sends the mouse pointer to another location on the screen." (But she still insisted that she wasn't letting her thumbs go down to the touchpad!)

Another example of NOT seeing a problem from the customer's perspective is when a PC gets infected by a virus or is dropped or bounced, and it won't even boot up into Windows properly. So the person takes it to some Computer-Geek shop (remember: those Geeks wear black hats, but we Nerds wear white hats!) and they say, "No problem! We can have Windows working for you in a couple hours!" When the customer comes back after shopping at the mall, the Geeks say, "Here's your computer, all set and ready to go! What would you like for an account name and password?" And when the customer asks, "Why do I need a new password?" - they reply, "We had to re-install Windows, so now we need to create your user account again." "What?! What happened to my old account?" asks the customer, with a sinking feeling in his stomach. "Oh, whenever Windows is re-installed, it erases everything from the hard drive, so you have to re-load all your files from a backup."

I thought I saw an eye doctor while I was on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be an optical Aleutian.

Of course, the poor customer wasn't in the habit of doing backups, so all his files had just vanished... all his schoolwork, his photos, his mp3 music and his movies... gone forever. Those Geeks sure got the computer running again, and that's all the customer said when he brought it in, but that's not what he actually wanted. They saw the problem just from their technical viewpoint, but not from the customer's needs - to get at his precious photos, mp3 music and movies again. They could have first tried using a non-Windows virus removal program, or using Windows' built-in recovery mode, or booting the PC from a Linux "live" DVD (this works up through Windows 7) or removing the hard drive (Windows 8), then they could copy all the user's files to another hard drive temporarily. But they didn't. And yes, this really happened to a customer who finally came to me for help, but by that point there was nothing I could do.

Another customer of mine came to me after her hard drive had crashed and she had taken her PC to a different Geek shop. They said, "Oh, it's so bad that it can't be repaired: we'll have to install a new hard drive and put Windows back on it." They did this, charging her around $200 for the job, and they gave her back the old, crashed hard drive. She came crying to me, saying - "All our wedding photos are gone! All our files! We've lost everything!" So I took the hard drive out of another notebook PC, installed her old hard drive in it, and ran a disk recovery program. I had to let the program run a few times over several hours while I did something else, but finally Windows would boot up. Then I copied all her files to some DVDs and gave them to her. She paid me $40 and let me keep the old hard drive. By the way, it works great for me as a backup drive now!

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The moral of the story: shop around, visit two or three computer service outfits, ask them in detail what they think they'll have to do, what it will cost, and most importantly, whether your files can be recovered! Don't take "No" for an answer!

You can get free "cloud" backup storage for your files: just go to Google and install their Google Drive sync program, or go to Microsoft and install their OneDrive sync program. Both give you several Gigabytes of free storage space, or you can buy more space for just a couple bucks a month. These apps work quietly in the background, keeping your files on your hard drive in sync with your "cloud" storage. Remember: your computer can be replaced, but your files are irreplacable!

The Security Blurb:
A Russian hacker gang has snatched well over ONE BILLION names, email addresses, User-IDs and passords from hundreds of poorly-protected websites, according to a recent announcement by a computer security firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is the biggest computer data breach in history! With that many user credentials, it's very likely that they could have access to at least one of your online accounts. If you're like most people, you re-use the same, simple and easily-guessable password for most or all of your Internet accounts.

What to do? Go to LastPass.com. Download their free program and create a LastPass account (an encrypted "password vault") to save a new, different password for all your Internet sites that need them. LastPass can generate unique, virtually unbreakable passwords for you. Do it NOW! - before this Russian hacker gang gets into one of your accounts, and then tries the same User-ID and password at Amazon or eBay or your bank, etc.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer, tablet or phone. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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