Our expertise is information technology (IT), but in every other way, we’re just like you. When we have a problem with something outside our expertise, we …Continue reading
Whether it’s business or politics, there’s a tendency to point fingers at other parties or make excuses. Some people will do anything to avoid responsibility. Yes, stuff happens, especially with technology and especially in these times, with so many people using more technology for work, school and entertainment. We believe this places a premium on being honest and upfront when dealing with tech issues.
I’ve been doing IT work for 30 years, and as I’ve built my own small business to serve other small businesses and home users, nothing has become more important than honesty and a let’s-get-it-solved attitude. In today’s daily-life environment, many of us feel we must be our own advocate, and technology has given us the tools. We can research anything on the internet to provide our supporting information; it doesn’t matter if we haven’t asked the right questions to get the right answers. And we can tell the entire world how we’ve been wronged; again, it doesn’t matter if we’re right or wrong.
In my IT world, life gets ever more complex. We have the capability to do so many things for work, school or entertainment because of technology. We invest money and emotion into putting technology to work, and we don’t leave a lot of margin for error. With small margins and little wiggle room, one could easily reason it’s better not to hold any responsibility. When that happens, honesty suffers.
A recent example of how this fits into our business occurred during a perfect storm. Have you ever seen the message telling you that firmware is updating and telling at the same time not turn off your computer? There’s a reason for that: it kills the computer.
In our case, we were in the final process of setting up a computer for a client. We were going through the last reboot – and we knew not to shut off the computer. What we didn’t know was that the computer hadn’t been plugged securely into the power outlet. When I moved it, the plug fell out, which was just like shutting off the computer. It no longer worked.
I told the client what happened and how we would fix the problem. I called Dell and told them what happened and got a replacement. I could have said it was a defective unit and gone through the long paperwork process of getting a replacement. I could have said the update was bad. Because the old computer was still in the office and working, we got the old one ready for work, and when the replacement new computer came, we completed the project.
Another time, we had scheduled the installation of a new server right after we returned from a trip. Normally, we don’t do major system work during business hours, but the problem the new server was to solve kept getting worse.
We came in on a Friday afternoon, and after assessing the situation presented the options. We said we could spend hours trying to fix the problem, but we weren’t optimistic about a good outcome. The other option was to shut down business and do the data migration right then and there. The client left it up to us to make the decision.
We did the migration over the weekend, and then we committed to be back in their office Monday morning to make sure everyone in the office could access all the information they needed. We could have just told them to call us Monday if they had a problem, but that would have meant more downtime for the business and a lot more tension and aggravation. When would they know they were having a problem, and how long would it take for us to get there? We knew what questions to ask and would know how to fix the problem.
By being upfront about everything in these examples, we and our clients understood the value we provided for each other. That helped us get on the same page and provide a timelier solution. If you or someone you know is tired of getting the runaround from an equipment supplier or another IT service provider, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us discuss the problem. You deserve to know the truth – and the knowledge to make a sound decision.
What drives employees crazy at the Apple Store’s Genius Bar? In short, it’s all the un-genius things customers do or don’t do before they come in for help. You can get better service if you prepare your phone and account before you walk in.
A recent article in Yahoo News surveyed current and former Apple Store employees about their biggest complaints when people visit the Genius Bar at stores. The complaints involve a number of time wasters, and they revolve around all the things that customers can and should do before their visits for problems or repairs with iPhones – and likely their iPads, too.
Here’s their advice that can make you a genius in their eyes:
- Know your Apple id (hint: it’s usually your email address) and your password for your Apple and iCloud accounts. If you and Apple can’t access your data, Apple won’t do any work on your phone or device because they won’t take any responsibility for losing your data (unless it’s entirely their fault). If your device is totally inoperable, you can reset your password at home from a computer. Apple Store personnel can sometimes help you reset it, but more often than not, they’ll ask you to come back when you’ve resolved your password issue.
- Have all your data backed up to iCloud. That includes your Contacts, photos and videos and anything else that can be possibly stored on your phone. As with all computing, we recommend regular backups to protect your data. Backing up to iCloud is simple: Go into your Settings and tap your name. Then tap iCloud and scroll to iCloud Backup. Make sure it’s turned on and tap it. Then tap Back Up Now. You can also back up your device to your iTunes account. It’s a little more complicated, but Apple has a support page to walk you through the process. The reason this is critical is because once Apple opens your phone or device, all data stored within is wiped clean. If Apple (or any other seller) provides a new phone or device, they’ll transfer your iCloud (or iTunes) data to your new device.
- Make sure your device is fully charged. If it’s DOA when you get to the store, so’s your appointment. You can probably charge it there, but you’ll probably have to go the back of the line for getting help.
- Be honest about what happened to your device. On a technical level, the wrong information you provide can delay Apple employees from getting to the right diagnosis.
- Don’t ask them for help with your Gmail or Facebook password. If they have time, Apple people can usually help you out, but it’s not their job. And technically, they are not trained to solve these problems. Any organization that requires a password usually has a recovery process, and that process usually offers you an option to verify or authenticate your identity via a text message or email.
We sometimes encounter the same problems with our clients when it comes to dealing with data and password recovery or computers or devices that are “dead as doornails.” We can take the time to help resolve issues, and with devices that aren’t operating properly, we can sometimes fix software problems or help you determine the right questions to ask at the Genius Bar.
If you’re having trouble getting your Apple products ready for a visit to the Apple Store, contact us by phone – 973-433-6646 – or email for help. We might be able to solve your problem and find a solution to prevent it from happening again. Or, we may be able to help you maximize your time at the Genius Bar.
We saw all the signs of classic neglect when we started with a new client who had been dissatisfied with their previous service provider. The fact that updates were never installed was horrifying because the client was in a financial services field. We can’t say if there was willful or accidental neglect, but the lack of updates could have killed a business.
What we saw can happen in any office where a company owner or manager has lost trust with their IT service provider: They stumble onto an issue. In many cases, businesses trust their IT providers to the point that they don’t keep their passwords on-hand (much less up to date) and don’t learn how to check to make sure updates have been installed. For this client, it seems that automatic updates were turned on and then turned off.
We know that some IT providers and some users don’t like automatic updates because they want to be able to monitor how changes take effect or make sure all the bugs are out. We don’t agree with that practice, and this is an example why. When automatic updates are turned off, it’s too easy to miss a notification when one is available, and that can lead to all sorts of security risks. Bugs in updates are inevitable, and patches to fix them are issued pretty quickly.
In this case, the server hadn’t been updated for nearly two years (keep this time period in mind), but we didn’t learn that until the client forced the previous IT provider to send the passwords for the server and the firewall. Everyone should remember that you own your passwords – and remember that you should keep them stored in a safe but accessible place.
Once we got access, we learned that the physical server and firewall had not been updated for two years. The firewall had no security or operating system updates since 2012. We told the client they had to update everything immediately.
We also found that their Wi-Fi network was not properly segmented, and that allowed access to everything through their guest network. That was neglect on somebody’s part, and I’ll blame the previous provider. That’s something that should be taken care of without any excuses.
At that point, I took out my Dashlane password manager and immediately generated new passwords with random numbers, case-sensitive letters and special characters. I printed them out and reviewed them all with the client to make sure they knew all of them correctly.
You can avoid these problems by making sure you get automatic updates and by knowing all of your passwords. You can also make up for past neglect by checking yourself to see when the last updates were installed – as long as you have all of your passwords.
If you have a server, you can look at the date of your last update through your control panel. If you see a huge gap between the day you check and the last installation, that’s a bad sign. In the case of the new client, who had issues with a previous service provider, the last server update was nearly two years before we found the problem.
On a computer running Windows 10, you can simultaneously push Control, Alt and Delete to bring up Task Manager. Click on the Performance tab and highlight the CPU button on the left. You should see Uptime in the bottom center of the screen. The columns, looking left to right, measure days, hours, minutes and seconds. Uptime is calculated from the most recent restart. If your uptime is 30 days or more, it’s a sign that you likely are not getting updates or not rebooting to clear out trash from your system. In one case, we saw an uptime of 286 days.
You can set up automatic updates for Windows and many of your applications. If you see or believe that your updates are woefully out of date, call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up an appointment to walk you through the update process free of charge. You can’t fall behind on security.
Help Me Norman
Well that is the theme of our new shortcut link we have created just for you. We have found that when we are trying to help our clients remotely their seem to be issues typing sometimes sterlingrosellc.com in or just how to spell it. We have decided that to make your life easier we have purchased helpmenorman.com to assist you in providing quicker and more efficient technical support.