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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Troubleshooting Descriptions

Is there anybody left on earth who doesn’t have a cellphone with a camera? If you are one of those people, stop reading this now and go buy a smartphone. You will join the rest of the world in holding one of the world’s greatest troubleshooting tools in the palm of your hand.

Getting the troubleshooting process is this easy: Simply take a picture of the error message on your screen or make a video of the problem in action and send it to us. No matter how tech-savvy you may be, it’s difficult to explain some of the more complex things that might be happening with a device or a network during a phone call or in an email message. And, of course, that problem may not be happening when you talk to us or send us an email. It’s no different than when you take your car to your mechanic and that funny noise that you can’t accurately imitate doesn’t show up as you ride around together.

But when we see a photo or video of the error message or whatever’s happening, we can reverse diagnose the problem or research a fix.

One client’s recent experience illustrates how we use videos to solve problems. The client was having a problem with email, and as soon as we saw it, we knew how to fix it. Microsoft made a change in how its email security worked, and it created what has become a common issue. We told the client to delete their account (on their computer) and then reload it. (Remember, we have our clients back up all their data in the cloud – so the data stays intact.)

The video was key, but another key factor in the successful fix is that the client had all their username and password information. Anytime you delete an app, you need those credentials to reinstall and reconfigure it. Not having your login credentials does – in fact – create a mountain out of a molehill.

Another client issue we resolved with a screenshot was a popup message about their iPad being left behind and no longer being detected. Because it was a popup, it appeared randomly (at least as far as the client was concerned) and raised concerns. It’s an Apple-generated message, which I get, too, for various reasons. It’s not a bad thing, but it is annoying. Using the “volume up” button and the “power” button on their phone, they generated a screenshot to send to us. We quickly saw the issue and told them how to turn off the notification.

Smartphones also have video apps, such as Facetime, WhatsApp, and Skype, to name a few that enable us to see what’s going on and walk you through a solution. Sometimes, that’s our best alternative if we can’t remotely access your device. And as we’re doing the work while we’re connected, we’re always happy to explain what we’re doing and show you how to either prevent a problem or solve it yourself in the future.

While technology helps, we all know every technology has its own quirks and shortcomings. During one of our trips this summer, we left Princess, our dog, with my parents. She was never lost, but the Air Tag on her collar got lost. You find an Air Tag by using an app on your phone, and it essentially generates a sound to let you know you’re getting “hotter” or “colder.” We kept on getting notices it was in a grassy area but couldn’t pin down the location while searching on and off for three weeks. Eventually, we found it. The problem was that it had rained a lot, and the grass had been cut several times. The device got buried to an extent, but the good news is that it kept on sending out notifications.

Most people have their phones with them all the time, so it should be pretty easy to take a photo or some video footage to show us what the problem looks like. You can send us the image by email or text and cut your problem time dramatically.

If you have any questions about how best to provide us with images to help us solve your problems faster, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to talk about it.