Here are some of the services I provide:
(Read about each service in detail below)
- Computer Repair - Hardware
- Computer Repair - Software (Operating System problems, software installation problems, preventing unwanted programs from loading at Startup, reformatting and OS installation, etc.)
- Telephone Support - Hardware and Software issues
- Computer Upgrades
- System Building
- Networks - Installation, Consulting, Troubleshooting
- Web Design
Some reasons you might want to bring in your computer:
- You will save money (no travel expense charge)
- I will hook up all computers brought in to my shop to my high speed network and download all the Windows Updates for you (so that your operating system will be tuned up and right up to date), as well as the latest Internet Explorer, Media Player, and latest DirectX version (which enhances your multimedia applications); all very large files that you might not otherwise be able to get easily if you have dial-up, at no extra charge.
- I pay for a subscription to a Windows driver service used by computer technicians, and can quickly (using high speed cable) download the (latest) drivers I discover your computer needs, usually directly from the manufacturer of the hardware device needing them, and install them directly on your computer.
- I can better diagnose the problem with test equipment in the shop environment , being able to swap out known good working parts for suspected bad ones easily to find the problem more quickly.
Computer Repair - Hardware
Bring your computer to Glen's Computer for basic hardware repair. I charge a flat fee of $10.00 to diagnose the computer for you. I will replace any parts that may be necessary and have you on your way again. I will let you know what the cost will be ahead of time, and won't continue unless you feel comfortable with the plan of action we decide on.
Some general notes: Computers do sometimes fail, although fortunately, most often it's not fatal. Computers are basically modular, and the various components inside can be isolated and replaced fairly easily. The thing about computers is that the technology changes so fast. It seems like you paid twice as much for your old computer than a new one that is half the price of the old one and twice as good!
Here are some things you might have to grapple with: Sometimes a part such as a failed processor, the most important part of your computer, can be found on a dealer shelf and easily replaced and you are on your way again. But sometimes you find that only a limited number were ever made, and it may not be possible to find one. And that leaves us with a choice as to whether we should think of an upgrade to a newer, faster and more efficient one. Most motherboards supported a certain range of processors. Also, it makes more sense sometimes to upgrade the core components together, so that their performance as a group matches each other. For example, replacing a processor with a slightly faster one can give a dissappointing improvement in performance compared with replacing the motherboard, processor and memory as a group, so that the performance improvement is matched across the board. A faster processor on an old motherboard with limited memory isn't free to run like it truly should, and you don't see the change in performance you expected to and spent your hard earned money on. You might be surprised at how cheaply this combination can be found for. Of course, sometimes it's better to just cut your losses and buy a whole new computer! But if you are looking to cheaply repair the old one, I will try to find the best possible way to having you up and running again. I'm not going to point you to the more expensive way if I think there is a less expensive alternative.
Some components, like hard drives, have gone through changes in the language that is used to communicate with them. The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) of the motherboard may have used a certain language, called a protocol, to control the hard drive. It might not be able to communicate, or even recognize, a newer hard drive that uses a newer protocol. So we sometimes have to search for either an older drive that uses that protocol, or upgrade the motherboard's BIOS if possible, or install an extra circuit board with the new language, or upgrade the motherboard and hard drive both. With the last two choices, the door is opened to larger drives with increased storage capacity and improved writing speed, and of course the new motherboard option will give improved performance because of the upgrade to the processor and memory.
All of these considerations are the kinds of decisions I have found myself constantly making when I have worked on my own computers, given of course the knowledge I have gained with experience and the training I have received, but I am throwing these out there just as examples of the kind of choices you will have when you have an ailing computer that you want up and running again, and that old computer may be performing in new and better ways than it ever did before!
Installing a Radeon ATi Video card. Note the anti-static wrist strap.
Computer Repair - Software/Operating Systems
More than half of computer problems are software related, especially with the Windows operating system (OS). It's easy to get off track and lose critical system files, or accidently configure the OS incorrectly. Also, viruses are a real threat to a healthy machine. And as if that were not enough, there are folks out there that scan your ports when you are online, and load Trojan Horse programs that virus-detectors miss. These then allow the hacker to come back later and gain access to your computer when you are online. Refer to my tips page for some help on this.
Bottom line, I provide services such as data backup, data recovery (when possible), system state backup, hard drive formatting, installation of operating systems, operating system troubleshooting. I always try to save a machine and resort to wiping a drive clean and starting over only when the options have run out. I know how hard a person works on their data, and the time involved. Preventing that from being lost is my first priority. Sometimes it is not possible, but I always try to save your data first.
Installing software can sometimes be confusing. Often the default location suggested by the vendor is not the best place to put the program files. Sometimes just finding the correct launch sequence especially when, for example, an installation CD does not autostart, can be difficult.
Installing drivers for hardware can be especially difficult and challenging, but they are so important for the well-being of your computer. I have resources (that I pay for as a subscription) that I can draw upon when the correct drivers have been lost or cannot be found.
Checking Drivers Starting With Device Manager (Windows 98)
I'm hoping to provide credit card-based telephone support for your computer problems during the business hours of 9 AM to 6 PM Monday through Saturday. I may also provide after-hours support when possible. If you are unable to contact me by phone, click on the email link on my homepage and send me a message requesting support and some way of contacting you. Here are my flat fees on any one issue:
- Level 1: $5.00 - Quick Fixes
- Level 2: $10.00 - Support calls up to a half-hour
- Level 3: $20.00 - Support calls in excess of a half-hour
If we cannot resolve the problem (in a reasonably short amount of time), I will not charge you for the support. If I have to invest a fairly long time in trying to resolve a problem, I may ask for a small flat fee. In any event, I will work this out with you at the end of the call and your credit card will be charged only after you are satisfied with the fee and that we have resolved your problem.
One note: Sometimes in the pressure of the moment, an obvious answer to a problem may not be apparent. I may, in some cases, ask to call you back after having a moment to either think about the problem, or research it, and then call you back and we can pick it up from there.
Also, while I am in the process of making the necessary arrangements to be able to accept credit cards, I may offer some support on an honor system, and have you mail me the payment. I ask that you are fair with me on this, so that I can live another day to help you or someone else again.
Installing additional memory into a notebook computer
In the hardware repair section, we discussed some upgrades that are a result of cost effective and common sense approaches to repairing a broken computer. But here I mean upgrades in the sense of adding function to an already healthy machine.
An example of this is an upgrade to the memory of your computer. Consider: All the data on the storage devices in your computer can not be handled by the computer's processor, whether it is on a hard drive, a CD-ROM, a floppy disk or zip drive. Only when that data is loaded into memory can it be dealt with by the processor! So the amount of physical RAM (stands for Random Access Memory) in your computer is a critical measure of it's ability to function. The operating system alone requires a certain amount of RAM to work properly. All the programs you want to run must be loaded into RAM first. A computer with insufficient RAM will be forced to swap more data back and forth from storage on a hard drive (called virtual memory) than it normally needs to, and this of course slows the computer down considerably. An upgrade to the computer's memory is one of the most cost effective performance improvements you can make to your otherwise healthy computer.
Other examples of upgrades that let you do more:
- Adding an additional hard drive for extra data storage.
- Upgrading the motherboard/processor/memory combination will signifigantly improve the performance of the entire system.
- Upgrading the Operating System to a newer, more efficient one.
- Adding a CD-RW drive allowing you to burn your own CD's.
- Adding a DVD drive to watch movies with (this requires considerable system resources to support, a good processor and plenty of memory).
- Adding an enhanced soundcard that allows you to surround yourself with glorious 3D sound (speakers at left front, center, right front, left rear, right rear, and a subwoofer for beautiful low bass frequencies!)
- Adding a graphics card with a good graphics processor and plenty of onboard memory can signifigantly improve the picture quality, especially important for those gamers in the family! (This is for motherboards that have an AGP slot, which most do, even when they have integrated video onboard the main board).
- Adding Network Interface Cards (NICs) that allow the computer to be hooked up into a home network.
These are just some of the possibilities when it comes to adding extra function and performance to your computer. One final example often overlooked is the power supply. Some factory units meet only the minimum requirements for supplying power to your computer's hardware devices. Especially important is the power requirements of your processor. This is actually becoming a lower and lower voltage for the core of today's CPUs, but it must be well regulated and constant. If you have a Pentium 4 processor, you must have the correct P4 power supply.
This is a Pentium 4 XP Professional system with 1 Gig of RAM that I built for a gentleman who required some advanced audio features. Note also the Zip drive and CD-RW drive.
Building a system from scratch can be a lot of fun. I guess it's because you get to choose each and every component that goes into your computer. You can tailor the computer to the way you intend to use it. You can build it with high quality video in mind. Or for a killer sound system. Or playing games. Or for performance in executing your applications efficiently, whether it be Word or Excel or Powerpoint or Access or Frontpage or Quick Books Pro or any other application. Or for loading those fantastic webpages quickly. As far as doing it for cheap, well, you would think so.
One thing I've noticed about building a system is we always start out thinking budget, finding parts for cheap and so on. What I've noticed that happens is that it gets away from us a bit. We think that for only a few more bucks we can get a slightly larger hard drive, or faster processor, or more memory, a better video card, and before you know it, our budget computer is not quite so budget any more. So let me warn you, it's tempting to want to get those higher performance parts! I do buy my parts as Original Equipment Manufacturer, in other words, I do not pay for the fancy retail packaging, as OEM parts are packed for professional installation, no frills. So I can build you that monster computer for a heck of a good price compared to the ones available commercially. And it can be a lot of fun!
This is a Windows 2000 Pentium 4 1.6 GHz system I built on an Intel motherboard with 256 MB of Rambus memory with NVidia video and 5.1 Dolby Digital soundcard for a gentleman who enjoyed gaming.
Networks - Installation, Consulting, Troubleshooting
A home network is hooking up your computers, if you have more than one, and sharing the resources between them. You can have every computer share the same printer, so only one printer needs to be purchased. You can share an Internet connection, so that only one Internet service is needed. And any files or folders that you want to share can be available to the other computers. No need to burn CDs or floppies and run from one computer to the other.
The home network I set up for our family consists of four computers (whad'ya expect when the kid's Dad is a computer geek always throwin' parts together, right? Heehee...) hooked up to a 5-port switch, with one port open for expansion, a notebook computer, or YOUR computer if you would like all the latest Windows Updates from Microsoft. I can hook up your computer to my high speed connection and get all those impossibly big files to tune up your computer and bring it completely up to date.
A tip: Switches are more efficient that hubs. Hubs are merely central connection points. Switches create virtual circuits and give each computer it's own private connection, so traffic collisions that occur with hubs are eliminated. Each computer has more bandwidth, more elbow room so to speak. And the happy news is that switches are nearly as inexpensive as hubs.
One common way of hooking up home networks is actually kind of dangerous. This is where the Internet connection is made directly to the hub or switch. This exposes the heart of your home network to all the things that lurk out there such as viruses and Trojan Horse programs. I can show you a way to hook your home network in a manner that isolates your home computers from the Internet.
A Home Network That Uses Two Network Interface Cards For Safety
Well, I guess this website speaks for itself. I can create a website for you that is like this one, where the tools for editing it are available online, either as a free maintenance site where the host web service provider puts an advertising banner at the top, or for a small fee, one that is free of banners.
I can also create a website that uses tools like Microsoft's FrontPage and that utilizes space on the server provided by your Internet Service Provider.