When Lightning Strikes a Modem

Q. The first time I used my laptop after a heavy storm, the home computer repair would not hold a dial tone when I tried to dial up to the Internet, and I still cannot get online with that computer. If this modem is fried, can I get an external modem for my laptop, or are there other options?

A. Computers and modems are vulnerable to power surges caused by lightning storms, as well as other power fluctuations caused by brownouts and blackouts. Most likely, your dial-up modem did take a hit during the storm. If you have checked the driver software and settings and the modem still will not connect, you probably need to repair the modem or replace it.

A computer repair shop should be able to open your laptop and make sure that the internal modem was the only thing damaged before repairing or replacing the part. An internal modem will probably cost less than $25, plus labor. You can also find internal modems for sale at Web sites specializing in laptop parts and have a technician install it if you don’t feel comfortable trying it yourself.

If you do not want to repair or replace the internal modem, there are external modems available for laptops. Most cost around $50, and you can find them in computer shops. These types of modems connect through the laptop’s U.S.B. port and provide a jack on the other end to connect the phone cord. The U.S. Robotics USR5637 modem is one such example.

If you have a cellphone, you might be able to use it as a modem; check with your wireless carrier for specifics.

In the future, using a surge protector with outlets for both electrical and phone cords might help protect your equipment, but shutting down and unplugging everything at the first sign of an electrical disturbance is your safest bet.

source : http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/22/technology/personaltech/22askk-002.html?ref=personaltech

KMBC Investigates Computer Repair Stores

These days most of us have a computer or maybe two at home. But what do you do when they are broken?Companies tell you they can fix your broken computer and that they have got the experts. Over the last three months, KMBC's Kris Ketz and KMBC employees investigated.Armed with a hidden camera and microphone, KMBC took a computer to three major electronic stores to see what they would find. But first, Ketz took it to KMBC's own expert, computer repair tech supervisor Hank Palmer, and asked him to do something to the computer, something simple so it would not work.

"The only thing I did, I went into this bios, in set up and disabled the hard drive. It's one key stroke. That's something anybody should be able to look to make sure it's working," Palmer said.Ketz reported that Palmer disabled the hard drive bios, basically turned it off. Palmer said it is something any technician should find with a routine check."These things have built-in diagnostics, and that's one of the places you go in and test it," Palmer said.KMBC dropped off the computer at three different electronics stores -- Circuit City, Best Buy and MicroCenter. All of them have diagnostic fees just to look at the machine. They range from $60 to $70. KMBC paid, and after a few days, went back to see what they had found.The first stop was Circuit City."They said it would either need a hard drive to be restored or a new hard drive. It would be $129.99 for a restore. That's not including a hard drive," said an employee for Circuit City.A 160-gigabyte hard drive would add $99.99 to the bill.Then KMBC went to Best Buy."All it says here is, I guess, they couldn't do anything with it here. Probably means that it's a motherboard issue," said an employee of Best Buy.The employee told KMBC's investigative team that they could not fix it and that it would have to be shipped to IBM, and if it was a motherboard, it would be expensive. But since Best Buy could not be sure of the problem, they did refund a $59 diagnostic fee.The news from MicroCenter came by phone, Ketz reported."It's actually the part on the laptop that goes in and attaches to the motherboard that's bad. Also the hard drive is bad. To ship it out and get it fixed, it's a flat rate of $275," said an employee with MicroCenter.Add a $275 fee to the diagnosis fee.When asked who was able to fix it, Palmer said, "No one. No one fixed it."Just in case you are wondering how long it would take our technician to fix, we went back to Palmer and asked him to make the machine run again.We timed him at 71 seconds."See? That easy," Palmer said.KMBC contacted the three stores about our findings. A Best buy representative said it is their typical process to refund the diagnosis fee if they can't find the problem.MicroCenter said they can't do all repairs in-house, and if they have to outsource repairs, that company's fee is $275.Circuit City said they determined that a technician did not follow procedures and they were taking steps to respond.

source : http://www.kmbc.com/money/16352420/detail.html

Plan for inevitable computer problems

Computers, I'm convinced, must be related to house cats. Just when you think that everything is purring along nicely, a computer can stick its claws right into your heart.

One moment, it's a computer; the next, it's a big paperweight. That shocking instant — when you hit the power switch and nothing happens — triggers a fine cloud of panic that turns even the most rational person into a wild-eyed fixing machine.

Today, while we are both calm, let's map out a game plan for that inevitable day. Stick this column in a desk drawer so it can help you calm down and avoid making things worse.

At the risk of sounding like a Zen master, first do nothing. Almost anything you do in the first moments is likely to be wrong. Calmly jot down any symptoms that occurred in the days before the computer died, as well as what you were doing at the time. You may find a clue there.

Now that you've had time to let the panic settle, check the most obvious causes. And, yes, that starts with checking to see that the power cord connections are sound. Then check to make sure that the surge protector or UPS is turned on and plugged in.

Some surge protectors and power strips can automatically switch off if electricity to your home is interrupted. Plug a small lamp or other AC device into the power outlet that you're using to make sure a circuit breaker hasn't popped.

Next look at the front panel of your computer. Are any lights on? If not, the power supply may have gone bad. It's an easy replacement — most large home computer repair stores offer them — but many will be leery of that repair. Those of you who are competent to do it probably know it and those who aren't know it, too (I hope).

But what if the front panel lights are on but the machine won't do anything? Let's turn it off and see what it can say for itself. Hit the power switch and restart.

Do you see an on-screen message when the computer restarts? For instance, if the hard disk has failed, you'll see a message. But that's not the only way that a computer can tell you its woes. Most use beeping sounds to alert you to problems. The meanings of these codes vary according to the kind of motherboard installed in the computer. Your manual will tell you the type of motherboard installed, or you can use another computer repair to check the manufacturer's Web site. Once you know the brand of motherboard, you can use this site to decipher the beeps:

Of course, the computer may be mute: No on-screen messages, no beeps. If so, try disconnecting any unneeded accessories — printers, scanners, etc. — and turn the machine on again. At times, a malfunctioning device will cause the problem and, if not, you can at least rule it out.

The next step is to open the case.

Some of you will be reluctant. That's fine. There's nothing wrong with packing up the computer and taking it to a repair shop at this point.

But if you proceed, take a look at the cables and connectors inside once you have the case open.

Are they firmly seated? Now — using the manual or just your knowledge — locate the processor chip. Most often, it will have a tiny fan connected for cooling. Is the fan turning?

Most computers will shut down if they overheat — a good thing. It's also a good idea to check the larger fan — usually at the rear of the computer — that cools the entire innards of the machine.

If there's nothing obviously wrong and the fans work, then try removing and reseating accessory cards.

source : http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2008/may/19/plan-for-inevitable-computer-problems/

A Great Place to Turn When You Need Tech Support

(ARA) - When you're at work and experience a computer problem, you likely pick up the phone and call tech support. But what do you do if your home system crashes as you are working on a report due the next day; or worse, your teenage daughter is putting the finishing touches on a term paper?

Unless you have a family member or a good friend who is a computer expert, your PC problems may send you rushing out to a 24 hour office store where you will scramble to recreate your work; but there is a better solution. For peace of mind, spend just $99.99 on The Annual Support Plan at iYogi , the first direct to consumer computer support service, and the next time you need computer help, the problem will be fixed in no time.

iYogi has accomplished robust growth in a manageable fashion and outperformed the market over the previous years. The company has maintained 84 percent resolution rate and 93 percent customer satisfaction which are amongst the highest published benchmarks in the computer support industry.

The organization holds the critical mass of expertise required to cater tech-support requirements of today's computer enthusiasts. With its tech support services for small to medium sized business, the company is expanding its horizons to every business sector.

If you are thinking to turn your computer 'green', then also you can look up to iYogi technicians. Staying in step with the increasing craze for eco friendly or green PCs, iYogi has launched green computing solutions which primarily attempt at increasing economic potency of the product and adding to its energy efficiency.

iYogi's team of expert technicians can help you out with any type of computer issue you may experience at home -- from system crashes and network failures to computer repair, E-mail support, help fixing Windows errors, Microsoft help and more. If they can't talk you through the problem, iYogi technicians have the technology needed to log on to your computer and offer remote support. They can even complete an Online PC repair so you won't have to be stuck without a computer over the weekend or during a holiday.

With iYogi technicians, bid farewell to computer complexities forever and tune your precious PC for smarter performance. Click here to get the online technical support you need today.

source : http://www.dentalplans.com/articles/32469/

computer repair Post office bytes back

IN THE face of a spate of closures, one York Post Office has turned to technology to help secure its future.

Crichton Avenue Post Office has decided to double up as a computer repair centre in order to try and safeguard from any future closures.

The post office will now double up as computer repair centre, called Intake Computer Solutions on the site at Intake Avenue, Clifton, York. Despite its title, Crichton Avenue Post Office is based on Intake Avenue.

And bosses think the store is now the first place in the country where customers can post a package, obtain foreign currency and have their laptop or home computer repair , all at the same time.

Alistair Murray, sub postmaster at the post office for eight years called the move "an investment for the future of Post Offices" and said that his customers have been very understanding about the need to diversify.

He said: "They realise that the investment in the business is an investment for the future of the Post Office."

Mr Murray said he took the decision to diversify what he offers to the area in the face of challenging economic and retail landscape.

As well as repairs, the centre will also be selling new computers and laptops, as well as second-hand computer equipment.

The computer business begins trading this week under the watchful eyes of Mr Murray and computer expert Jason Robinson. They hope that the new business expansion will bring longevity to the important traditional services supplied to the local community by the post office.

The shop is offering one to one, personal services that have been lost in the rise of larger, out of town computer stores.

"We see a definite market for the customers not happy with the service of larger stores, where they find it impersonal", said Mr Murray. Mr Robinson agreed, saying: "We provide a one to one service and customers deal with someone with knowledge of all the products on display."

"We know every product we sell inside out and our systems are built to individual customers needs, not just off the shelf'. That way you get exactly what you're after from your own computer."

"All the repairs are done by one of the people you meet when you first come through the door."

source: yorkpress.co.uk/news/yorknews/display.var.2247299.0.post_office_bytes_back.php

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