Category Archives: Hardware

Basic Computer Maintenance

System running slow?  This time of year is the perfect time to clean up the computer!  Here are some basic things to do in order to do so:

  • Uninstall any unused programs. Think of this in the same light as cleaning out the closet.  If you have not used it in a year, get rid of it!  Look at the software listed on the Programs list within the Control Panel.  If you have not used it in a year, highlight and uninstall it.  Do not use the install date as the last used date…
  • Check the amount of ram your system has installed and consider installing more. Open the control panel and click on System.  There you will see how much ram is installed.  Consider doubling it.  Doing so is easy, (and cheap), IF you purchase the correct ram and remember to unplug the computer, (or remove the battery on a laptop), before you open up the memory panel.  Remove one chip, take a picture of the label describing the necessary data, reinstall.  Now you have the data needed to buy the correct ram for the system.
  • Download a three pack of utilities and run them routinely to keep the system running better. Go to chapinbusiness.com/Protection and Maintenance to download the install files for Ccleaner, Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware.
  • If your computer is running hot, it may be dusty. For a desktop, unplug the power, remove the side panel and blow out the dust with a can of compressed air.  Be sure to blow out the dust stuck between the cpu fan and heat sync.  For a laptop, bring it to a professional for internal cleaning.  You could turn it off, remove the battery and try blowing air through the vent and keyboard.  However, if there is dust on the fan vents, only getting inside the computer will work.  (Do NOT try this if you are inexperienced!)

Wi-Fi Vulnerability, KRACK

Bad News:

The KRACK vulnerability allows an attacker to eavesdrop on or modify data being transmitted over wireless connections.  Any wireless device can be affected.  This includes routers, access points and wireless adapters.

Good News:

a) Only wireless connections are affected.  Hardwire connections are not.

b) Updating the routers firmware will resolve the issue.  Manufacturer’s are working on developing firmware updates all the time.  Periodic updates are always smart.

c) The attacker must be in range of your wireless connection.

KRACK stands for Key Reinstallation Attacks and is a “protocol level issue” which means the problem is with the standard itself and not the devices connected to it.  Once an attacker is connected, however, all devices connected to that particular Wi-Fi standard, (WPA2), become at risk for malware or virus installation.

If you are not using Wi-Fi turn it off.  If you are using Wi-Fi then you should update your wireless devices firmware right away.  If you suspect an attack has happened, shut down all your wirelessly connected devices, (ie: phone, computers, etc).  Using a hard wire connected computer, access your router and update the firmware.  If your router is more than three years old, strongly consider a new one, updating it as soon as it is connected.

How to change the sensitivity of a touchpad on a laptop

When you move your hand across the touch-pad of many laptops the mouse seems to move all over.  The reason may be the sensitivity level of the device is set to high.  Reducing the sensitivity of the touch-pad will mean you will have to put more pressure on the pad to make the mouse move, however, you should be able to control the mouse pointer better.

To change the sensitivity of the touch-pad you will go to the Control Panel, click on Mouse and look for the tab that is for your device.  For example, Synaptics will have its own tab where you can make the adjustments.  Using Synaptics as the example:  Click the tab, then Settings and then look for the term Sensitivity.  Look for and click on the gear icon to the right of that term.  Here you can move the slider left, (for increased sensitivity or a lighter touch), or the the right (for less sensitivity for a heavier touch).  Make the adjustments, click Apply, but do not close the window.  Test the new settings and then make an adjustment if necessary.  Done.

Business Continuance

No matter the size of your business, the ability to continue doing business after a catastrophic event can be critical to the long run success of your company.  Setting up a plan is simple if you follow these steps:

  • Identify what you will need to continue working if your office was no longer accessible.
  • Have a computer setup with the software you currently use so you can move to that system without any lapse in time or service to the customer.
  • Review your communications, (telephone, email, ordering software, etc), that will allow you to fill your customer’s needs.
  • Keep the alternative office and equipment off site, (home office or another location)
  • Conduct an annual review of the plan and update as needed.

Flesh out each step to identify what you will need.  It is best to keep things as simple as you can by not “doubling up” on everything.  Remember, you will only need to keep your business running in this manner temporarily.

Some steps can be taken ahead of time that will significantly help in the event of a catastrophe.  One way is to digitize your phones.  We use Vonage, a voip system that uses the internet to transmit phone calls.  The numbers did not change and if we lost the internet, power or worse, we would get our phone call in an email.   Another step is off site back up where your data can be saved and easily accessible.  Yet another step is to make a periodic image copy of your hard drive so that it can be used to replace a failed drive.  The image has all the programs and data you are using up to the point it was created.

The Business Continuance Plan, (BCP), is something to think about periodically and updated as your business changes.  An annual review is always a great idea to update your software needs, etc.

Wireless Printing Setup

When you setup your wireless printer, the wireless connection to the devices that use it are intermittent. For some reason the connection drops, gets repaired and drops again.  You have tried resetting the connection several times, create a static IP on the printer, reset the router and reinstalled software many times.  Nothing worked.

What finally resolved the issue was realizing human error.  A phone line was plugged into the Ethernet port.  This is a fairly common mistake as the ports look similar and can be mistaken for a fax line-in port.  However, when you plug a phone line into an Ethernet port the printer cannot tell the difference.  On most wireless printers once an Ethernet cable is plugged in the wireless turns off.  You cannot have both setup at the same time.  The phone line was intermittently sending power through the port to the printer.  The printer was turning on and off the wireless connection, causing the problem all along.

HP Printer Resets Solves Issues

Many printer issues can be resolved by resetting the printer to factory defaults,  In this case, a printer would not release the error message “Print Head not installed or missing.”  The printer was an HP Office-jet Pro 8610.  Once the print head was cleaned, re-seated and locked down the error message remained no matter how many times we followed the steps outlined.

Finally, we reset the printer to factory defaults and it worked.  The error message went away and the printer ran flawlessly.  The instructions to reset to factory defaults is online, but in this case you would access the reset menu by tapping the arrow key on the lcd screen four times.  You then have the option of which reset to use.

In our case a partial reset failed and only the full reset did the trick.  Keep in mind any settings you had will be gone.  Any wireless connections will have to be reset as well.

Keyboard Shortcuts: Dual Monitors

Having dual monitors allows you to open programs on different screens.  This is a very efficient solution when the user constantly needs to “alt-tab” between programs.  Open one program and drag it to the second screen, then open the next on the main screen is the process.

There are some programs, typically industry specific types that deactivate the min/max and x features in the upper right corner, (the middle and end buttons).  Without the ability to reduce the window without closing the program prevents the user from moving the window to the second screen.  This effectively renders the second monitor useless.

The solution is a simple keyboard combination that will move the window back and forth between screens.  Hold down the window key, Shift and left arrow, to move one direction and the right arrow to move the opposite direction.

Disabling Touch Screen (Monitor)

Having a touch screen is convenient, at times.  For those who do not use the touch screen hardware, you can turn it off.  Turning it off will stop accidently touching the screen, sending your cursor to parts unknown, or the screen may be malfunctioning and click on its own.  That can be annoying.

To turn off the touch screen, go to the Start Menu, click the Search box and type Pen.  One of the results should be Pen and Touch.  Open the link, click on the Touch tab and uncheck the box to use your finger as the input device.  Click Apply and then Ok.

Done.

Call Us.  We are here to help!  203-262-1869

iTunes playback devices

You cannot hear any sound when you play iTunes but can hear sound from your speakers through normal activity, (ie: beeps, install / uninstall sounds, etc).

The default sound device may need to be changed.  Right click on the speaker, (lower right corner of the screen), and open the volumn control mixer.  Play a tune in iTunes to see which device is playing, (look for the up and down bar movement).  Most likely the one playing the song is not your speakers but another device.  iTunes thinks that device is the default sound device.

Change the default sound device to the correct one and the issue is resolved.

Call Us.  We are here to help!  203-262-1869

Testing your Memory

Not your memory, the computers…

It is a good idea to periodically check your systems memory for problems, or to use this tool to diagnose an issue and either identify the ram as the culprit or to eliminate it.

Click Start, or Search, and type mdsched.exe.  You can choose from two options.  Restart the system now and check the memory or check the memory the next time you reboot the system.  We prefer to get the process started now.  Close all programs, backup your data and run the test.

Watch the program process the test and look for any issues that are found.  If there are no issues with the ram then it is likely not the culprit of any issues and can be considered good.  In that case, test other hardware or software.  If there are issues with the ram, change it out with new chips and run the test again.  Running the test again will verify the new ram is good and the slot ram is placed in is also good.

Call Us.  We are here to help!  203-262-1869