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AC97 Drivers Continuous Reboot and Won't Install

I hate drivers. I really do. Just wrestled with another AC97 (AC 97) REALTEK driver issue on an older computer with WINDOWS XP SP3.

The board was an INTEL D845GRG (audio was a 82801DB). The driver from REALTEK kept rebooting without finishing (WDM_A406) and the INTEL drivers kept saying, "DRIVER NOT FOUND" with the SOUNDMAX installs.

Here are the steps I used to get it fixed:

 

A patch is required before any of the HD device drivers are installed, but the patch will only go on XP SP2 computers. 

-right-click MY COMPUTER
-click MANAGE
-click DEVICE MANAGER (on the left-hand side)
-find SOUND, VIDEO, AND GAME CONTROLLERS
-under it, find the yellow exclamation point
-right-click yellow exclamation point
-click UNINSTALL

-click START > RUN
-type: regedit
-go to: HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Windows\CSDVersion
-change HEX VALUE TO: 200
-Restart your PC

-download kb888111xpsp2.exe
-install: kb888111xpsp2.exe
-download: Audio_eMachines_5.12.1.3571_XPx86_A.zip
-unzip: Audio_eMachines_5.12.1.3571_XPx86_A.zip
-run: SoundMAX_WDM_5_12_1_3571.exe
(the old driver is removed & new is downloaded)
(may have to manually run: DownloadedDriver_1-7-2005\Setup.exe)
-Restart your PC

-click START > RUN
-type: regedit
-go to: HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Windows\CSDVersion
-change HEX VALUE TO: 300
-Restart your PC

I'm putting this here so I never have to deal with it again.

Comcast Fiber Optic Upgrade

comcast_flyerI got a flyer in the mail from Comcast today. It headlines that they've "doubled [my] internet speeds." Further it claims that the fiber optic network in Jupiter, FL has been "enhanced." The flyer claims that speeds of up to 25Mbps are possible. All I have to do is "unplug [the modem] from the power source for ten minutes."

To the left, you can see a poor image of the flyer from my Palm Pre.

Cool. Rather than just giving it a shot, I'd thought I'd do a "live" before and after to see if it really works. I'll use Speedtest.net for my tests. Speedtest tries to measure your speed between your location and a server. Since the server location is important, I'll pick a server relatively close to me in Boca/ Miami about 60/90 miles away (rather than a server outside of the state of FL).

Before and after details are below:

comcast_speedtest

You can see before in February 2011 my speed was around 12.6Mbps. Now in April 2011 my speed is about 28.11Mbps.

Good enough for me. Thanks Comcast. This is faster than my T1 connections I have all over Palm Beach County and my Metro-e connection on PGA Blvd.

If you can get Comcast around here, it's a definite no brainer -yes!

Then why do I have a Metro-e? Good question. Because a Metro-e is guaranteed not to go down. Since the office has about 50 people working in it at all business hours and since the office processes more than 1billion dollars a year, it is worth it to spend extra to have peace of mind that the office won't have issues.

Compliance Services of 400 Capital Cir SE is a Scam

The COMPLIANCE SERVICES of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahassee, FL 32301 is a complete scam. The COMPLIANCE SERVICES of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahassee, FL 32301 is a complete farce. Do not do business with the COMPLIANCE SERVICES of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahassee, FL 32301.

State of Florida notifies that the Compliance Services of 400 Capital Cir SE is a Scam

You can see the official warning and consumer advisory posted by the State of Florida on their web site at http://sunbiz.org here. You can see they reinforce the fact that the COMPLIANCE SERVICES of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahassee, FL 32301 is a complete scam.

Lawyers in Florida notifies that the Compliance Services of Tallahassee, FL is a Scam

You can see other recent blog posts from licensed lawyers in Florida notifying businesses of the fact that the COMPLIANCE SERVICES of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahassee, FL 32301 is a complete scam here: http://www.floridaconsumerlawyerblog.com/2011/03/compliance-services-in-tallaha.html

In fact, in the above blog post quoted as saying, "Sarelson Law Firm is investigating a potential class action lawsuit on behalf of anyone who paid "Compliance Services" the $125 fee."

The Compliance Services of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahassee, FL 32301, is a company unrelated to the Florida Division of Corporations. They are sending out notices through the US Postal Service with a marking of "TIME SENSITIVE" concerning a $125 fee for annual corporate minutes. They try hard to make it look like an official letter from the State of Florida. They even put a due date on the letter.

Compliance Services of Tallahaee, FL 32301, is a company unrelated to the Florida Division of Corporations

Only people who read the fine print realize that the Compliance Services of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahaee, FL 32301, is a company unrelated to the Florida Division of Corporations.

However this is after the bolded headline which reads, "ANNUAL MINUTES REQUIREMENT STATEMENT DIRECTORS AND SHAREHOLDERS (Business Corporations)."

Jacksonville Times Union warns readers of the Compliance Services of Tallahassee, FL 32301

Even the Jacksonville Times Union is reporting on the story here: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/400564/david-bauerlein/2010-04-25/letter-tallahassee-not-necessarily-state

Compliance Services of Tallahassee, FL Scamming People for Years

Apparently, this has been going on for quite some time as the following blog post is from 2009 and has more than 220 comments: http://scriptionary.com/2009/03/07/annual-minutes-requirement-scam/

They all echo the same concern. That the Compliance Services of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahaee, FL 32301, is a scam.

Compliance Services of Tallahassee, FL Scamming People in Other States

Click here to see how the Compliance Services of Tallahassee, FL is scamming people in other states:

http://www.ncnn.com/business/6646-state-stops-deceptive-mailings-to-businesses

Picture of the Compliance Services of Tallahassee, FL Scam Letter

Here is the letter JPG format of the Compliance Services of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahassee, FL 32301:

compliance_services

If this is all it takes to make some quick cash, I'm in the wrong business. I might as well start a company call the Computer Compliance Services and base it on 400 Capital Cir SE, Tallahassee, FL 32301.

Enough Proof that the Compliance Services of Tallahassee, FL is a Scam?

Hopefully, this page has provided enough proof that the Compliance Services of 400 Capital Cir SE, Postal Mail Box 18321, Tallahaee, FL 32301, is a scam.

Where Is This Going?

I have a friend who thinks that the push towards Apple desktops and laptops is just a fad. He really believes that in the long run, companies are not going to be able to incorporate Apple desktops into their businesses.

Will Macs Be Accepted in the Workplace?

I understand where he's coming from. He's in the banking business where people are traditional employees and the information belongs to the company. The company can't handle a dual environment between PC's and Mac's not because it's impossible but because it's one more thing.

Contrast From Apple

In contrast, Apple is citing that the PC era is over. They announced this at the launch of the iPad2 here:
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Apples-Jobs-Says-iPad-2-Makes-paidcontent-407216748.html?x=0&.v=3

Basically they are saying that the era of keyboards and desktop towers are gone. Not needed. They are indicating that the "app stack" or applications like WORD, EXCEL, FILEMAKER PRO are not needed anymore. All of these types of applications are available on the web.

The Future is Uncertain

If you are like me, you're wondering where all this is going. And I'll tell you. I don't know.

Public Demand

It really has to do with how the general public accept these types of devices. Most companies will initially resist. Simply because, like my friend above, they are not sure if this is going to last. But if the pull is so strong that companies cannot ignore, they will incorporate items like iPads into their support systems.

You may have to learn something new, yet again. But it isn't that bad this time. You don't need that much dexterity. Everyone can point and click with their finger.

The Next 24 Months

We will see iPads invade the small workplace. They're fun, affordable and currently don't break. We don't have to deal with items like spyware, malware and TDSS rootkits. It might be an actual welcomed scenario.

Touchpad on HP G65

SITUATION

Just had a situation where the TOUCHPAD on an HP G65 laptop wasn't working. Here's the short answer.

SHORT ANSWER

  1. uninstall the drivers
  2. restart
  3. install drivers that came with laptop: c:\swsetup\drivers\touchpad
  4. restart
  5. click CONTROL PANEL > MOUSE. You should be able to enable the touchpad (LuxPad) in there somewhere.

LONG ANSWER

Initially, I updated the drivers to the newest on the hp.com/support website. That didn't work. Then I tried to use the drivers directly from SYNAPTIC website. That didn't work.

The light in the upper-left wasn't working at all, so I thought it was a hardware issue. I finally tried the drivers that came with the laptop. Bingo. It's just bad drivers.

You'd think by 2011 these things would get easier. Shees.

FINAL SOLUTION

Buy a DELL LATITUDE if you're going Windows. Click here to see how: http://screenr.com/xVG

PS -I am no way affiliated with DELL, it's just a recommendation from experience. You don't have these types of issues. Spending 1 hour on a trackpad is ridiculous.

The Rise of the Browser

I've started to see it happen across offices for quite some time now. The rise of the web. This means that you no longer sit at your computer to get access to desktop applications like Word, Excel and Photoshop. And, oh yeah, by the way, that icon is for web sites.

Now you sit at a computer primarily for web sites. Photoshop is being replaced with sites like Aviary.com. MS Office is quickly being replaced with items like Google Docs. And when was the last time the general public used anything but web email?

What's interesting about all of this is that you don't need a very powerful computer to run a browser. Web masters are going to make their sites accessible for most popular browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari. Most of us do this with our smart phones.

But what should lengthen the lifespan of the computer will make it a target for extinction by Microsoft.

MS is primarily in the business to sell operating system (OS) licenses. Knowing that the browser is being all important, the next version of Internet Explorer (IE) v9 will not work on Windows XP. This forces an upgrade to Windows 7 for any industry that relies on ACTIVE X controls.

How Much Does Metro-E Cost?

connection_costs

While we talked about 4 different types of popular internet connections, we didn't talk about the costs for small and medium sized companies.

As you can see above, the Metro-E is the most expensive and having a business fork over this amount of money every month just for an internet connection that only costs $45 at home is sometimes difficult.

I would like to make a few points. First, Metro-E's are dedicated connections. Again, this means they never go out. This is huge for a business that determines an internet connection is vital to the mission of the business.

Let me help you determine if the cost is worth it for your business. Use your imagination. Let's say your have an office of 10 people. And the internet goes out. It's out for 5 hours. How much did that cost you in terms of labor and lost productivity? Did you lose a client? Did someone not get paid through accounting? Did an employee talk on the phone and pass to a client that "they always have internet problems" putting a bad mark in the client's mind?

At what point does it make sense for the business to sign a 36 month contract for this type of internet service? This is something that only you can determine.

If you'd like an internet connection specialist to talk to, let us know and we'll be glad to look at the specifics of your situation.

What is 4G?

4G is goodI forgot one connection type from earlier that I should mention. It's called 4G. Yup the cell phones. But also, the internet service through small 4G devices.

4G means 4th generation. It is in fact a type of wireless internet. Just like you may have wireless internet at your home that covers a certain area (your living room), 4G is a wireless internet that covers a huge area (your town). This is also known as WiMax

The difference here is that the wireless in your home just needs a password, sometimes called key, to connect and the 4G needs a certain device and authorization from the provider.

What's nice about 4G is that is connects not just one device but up to 8 devices at the same time. It is a mobile hotspot. This means anywhere I have the device I can connect my laptop to the internet. Basically, as long as I have my phone and my laptop together, I can connect. And it's fast in 4G areas like Palm Beach Gardens but not 3G areas like Jupiter.

I actually have one office running off of a 4G connection. The problem was that a temporary office was opening and they didn't have internet. Getting internet would take a few days around the Christmas season and result in the office missing a key sales period. The location manager just couldn't accept that.

Since the office was only going to be open 12 weeks and that there would only be a maximum of 3 people in the office, I setup a 4G connection.

The success is marginal because it's in a 3G area in the Wellington Mall. But at least it works. The speed at the location is about 245kbps.

What is A Metro-E

I manage over 50 internet connections. The question I get asked all the time is, "Can I get faster internet?"

"Of course!" I replied. And I continued to explain their options. Here's the breakdown on internet connections.

First of all, we measure internet connections through download speed in what's called kbps or kilobits per second. The higher the number the faster the service.

DSL: This internet comes through the phone company. In our part of the world this is ATT/Bellsouth/Yahoo. DSL varies in speed depending on equipment in your area and how close you are to that equipment. Typically in my experience, DSL is around 1000kbps or 1Mbps.

CABLE: This internet comes through the cable company. In our area, this is Comcast (used to be Adelphia). Cable internet is currently king for most residences and in my recent tests gets a whopping 12,600kbps (or 12.6Mbps). That's fast!

The problem with two options above is... they are not available everywhere. For example on PGA Blvd, they are not available to businesses. This means that if you want the service, you cannot purchase it. You cannot pay the companies to install it. You cannot have what you have at home, in the office. It no-o exist-o.

One more item you should know about them. They are not guaranteed services. This means they can go out for any reason at any time. When will it be back up? Who knows. Sometimes a few hours, somestimes a few days. In one experience I had, it was over 30 days before the DSL was up at a business location. The longest I ever had Cable out was for over a week.

So companies offer guaranteed services. These are services that are guaranteed to be on all the time. That's 100% of the time. Businesses like that. There's nothing worse than paying 30 people in an office with no internet. It's office gossip time as soon as it goes out.

T1: This internet is from the phone company. It is available everywhere. The speed on this is 1,500kbps (or 1.5Mpbs). Sometimes if a T1 isn't fast enough businesses will purchase two T1's and join them together.

Metro-E: This internet is is becoming the preferred choice of services for businesses. A Metro-E is in fact a partial fiber line. This is also known as an optical cable line (OC line). But fiber is so fast, that they limit it's speed. The speed on this is 10,000kpbs (10Mbps). That's screaming fast!

Full fiber line or OC lines are also available. Unfortunately, I only know a handful of companies that have this in the Palm Beach County area. Usually limited to large office complexes, hospitals, schools and the like. I can't comment on them because my interaction has been limited.

Internet Speed

Why Do I Always Have Trouble With iFax After Upgrading The Kernel

Dialogic Brooktrout TR1034_8I always have trouble with iFax after I upgrade the kernel on my RedHat fax server. Here are my notes to upgrade the Brooktrout / Cantana / iFax / Hylafax / Dialogic / bt-tr1034 driver.

Stop BT service:

service bt-tr1034 stop

The kernel-smp version, the kernel-smp-devel version must match.

Check kernel version:

uname -a
|Linux server 2.6.9-89.31.1.ELsmp #1 SMP Tue Oct 19 17:42:26 EDT 2010 i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

Check the kernel-devel version:

rpm -qa |grep kernel-smp-devel |kernel-smp-devel-2.6.9-89.33.1.EL

The kernel-smp will probably be upgraded via YUM automatically. But the kernel-smp-devel may need manual intervention.

Uninstall any unmatching version:

yum remove kernel-smp-devel-2.6.9-89.33.1.EL

Install a matching version:

yum install kernel-smp-devel-2.6.9-89.31.1.EL

Verify RedHat Release:

echo "Red Hat Enterprise Linux ES release 4" > /etc/redhat-release

Make BT Driver:

cd /var/spool/hylafax/bt/tr1034/driver
make -f Makefile.kerndep INSTALLED_ARCH=i686

Start BT service:

service bt-tr1034 start

Verify everything is working ok. If not, it'll show here:

cat /var/spool/hylafax/tmp/ecc_trace.txt
faxstat

DDWRT Wireless Client Bridge

ddwrtAt an office on Palm Beach at the Paramount building has 2 separate spaces; one downstairs and one upstairs. The problem is how do I get the T1 internet I installed downstairs and bring it upstairs?

It may seem simple but consider this. Because the space was never intended to be used this way, there is no existing wiring in place to link the offices together. Also, the Paramount is a registered historic building, meaning that most of the additional low voltage wiring is exposed. Runing a cable from downstairs to upstairs is possible but also tedious and tacky.

I always like to use a Wireless Client Bridge. It's perfect for these situations. It links 2 places together through wireless. To be clear, this means that the second place has no internet connection in the wall. The internet connection will come into the second office from the wireless.

I've done this a bunch of times; at an airplane broker, at homes where the wireless signal is just too weak for full coverage and at another historic building in downtown Stuart.

The trick is that the wireless signal and settings must be exactly the same. Well, I usually setup WPA + WPA2 AES+TKIP for ease of use for the laptops. To my dismay, this caused the wireless bridge not to work. Apparently, it couldn't negotiate between WPA + WPA2. I, of course, didn't know this.

So after an extra hour reflashing both routers and configuring the settings, I dropped the security to WPA-AES. Worked like a charm.

Internet can be used upstairs through a few CAT cables and the wireless if needed.

The Power of a RedHat Server

Redhat_LogoThe week after Christmas is a great time to clean up and plan for the next year. I was going through some old info from a few years ago and pulled out a sheet I printed up. It goes something like this:

  • 1 Server
  • P4 3.0Ghz
  • 1GB ram
  • 663 users
  • 53 websites

And it was running on a T1 (or 1.44Mbps) at the time which happened to be the slow point in whole scenario.

Now the servers are hosted at a datacenter with redundant fiber connections and the office location where the server was has a Metro E (11.00Mbps), which is a partial fiber line.

So what's the point? The point is you can host a whole lot of web sites and users on relatively old computer if you know what you are doing.

Another point is, if you're a serious business, have a serious business equipment at a serious business datacenter. It isn't worth it to try and save costs. That document was the goad to rouse me and move the servers to a datacenter.

A last point is, I love a supported Linux. This particular flavor was a RedHat server.

Panda Cloud Antivirus

Panda Cloud AntivirusAfter 10 years of being dedicated to AVG antivirus, I've finally decided to try something new. There are a few reasons that lead me to choose this.

AVG antivirus was wonderful a few years ago. It fit all the requirements: small, unobtrusive, lightweight in terms of system resources and it actually worked catching viruses. Also it had the correct economics, free for home users and business bulk packs for small businesses with servers.

Over the years, AVG has become bloated. Going from 31MB in v7.5 to a whopping 141MB in the latest v10. Downloading the package takes awhile on business T1's and goes against our core beliefs. Adding an extra 10-20 minutes just to download something doesn't thrill us.

AVG has become obtrusive. It's continuous nagging messages about upgrading to pro and trying out system speed is pure tricks to the unknowing, fooling them into paying for unnecessary items.

AVG has become a burden. On more than one occasion, AVG doesn't install correctly, zarks the install and removal can be a lengthy process. This is on top of the already lengthy install process. The system resources needed to run AVG has also increased becoming a burden on the system.The system dogs and pants every time a scan is run. Not cool.

Lastly AVG is unable to catch the TDSS rootkit. Despite saying it catches rootkits, AVG doesn't. This requires other tools like ComboFix. The problem is ComboFix doesn't work with AVG, requiring an AVG uninstall, ComboFix run and AVG reinstall. Again, not cool.

At the suggestion of Majorgeeks.com, I've decided to try Panda Cloud Antivirus. It meets all the original requirements: small, unobtrusive, lightweight in terms of system resources and it actually works catching viruses.

Panda is a small 31MB and downloads in a few seconds. I like that.

The install process is a breeze and doesn't try to upsell you on anything.

It is a server/client system. Unlike traditional server client systems, the server is Panda's server, making this the first cloud antivirus available.

The Cloud Antivirus is unobtrusive. This means no nagging messages after installation.

Panda's pricing is right with a free version and a professional version for those in need.

Others seem to agree. Here's a poll about who's switching to Panda: http://www.cloudantivirus.com/forum/poll.jspa?pollID=50108

I'm just excited I get a large part of my day back as service calls have just become shorter. Hopefully this doesn't turn into longer calls as I have to see for myself about its virus catching quality. Wish me luck.

Move Past Murphy

I can't explain it. I wish I really could but I can't.

Murphy's Law is a common adage that says, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

With over a decade of hands on technology experience, I can tell you that's it's true.

This past week, a client had battery backups in place to keep the internet connection alive at all times. The network equipment is secured behind lock and key however the power extends beyond that secured area. Guess which plug the night time cleaning crew unplugs to get power for their vacuum? And it's a Friday night meaning no one knows until Saturday morning. I can't explain it. I wish I really could but I can't.

My advice is to have systems in place that cannot fail.

Pay extra when the space is being built out to have everything wired correctly and centralized in a logical place.

For network equipment and servers, make sure you have adequate battery backup power. Be certain they are on a scheduled maintenance plan meaning you have the equipment switched every 24-48 months rather than waiting for the batteries to fail.

Also make sureĀ· the systems are behind lock and key of some type. You wouldn't believe the number of times an unqualified employee tries to fix "slow internet" causing even further damage. Don't even give them that chance.

Even with all this preparation, you may find yourself saying to yourself, I can't explain it. I wish I really could but I can't.

TDSS

I ran into 3 TDSSvirus infections yesterday. All at separate locations. This is despite the computers having antivirus up and running.

The only tools that I know of to get rid of TDSS infections are:

TDSS REMOVAL STEP 1

  • -Boot into SAFE MODE WITH NETWORKING
  • -Download Dr Web from above.
  • -Close out of everything.
  • -Run the program.

TDSS REMOVAL STEP 2

  • -Stay in SAFE MODE
  • -Download TDSS Killer from above.
  • -Close out of everything.
  • -Run the program.

Hardware Choice

The most frustrating aspect of technology is getting it to work the way it's supposed to.

Recently I was at a legacy client's condo on Palm Beach, waterfront views on 3 sides. They had a remote that couldn't control the volume on a tv. OK, first, it seems like it should be an easy type of issue. There are remotes that go through this everyday and get fixed easily. Secondly, these are high-end items. It wasn't like it was a remote and tv that can be bought at your local Walgreens.

Yet there the client was, hiring an audio/visual expert, not me mind you, get it fixed. The hired help was explaining how it just wasn't going to work. Not the words you ever want to speak or hear.

This is why hardware choice is so important. It goes back to our goal of reliable productivity in the shortest amount of time. I thought I'd list out my hardware choices for everyone to see. Feel free to disagree, this is what I've found to be most stable in my experience:

  • Dell Optiplex: moving to the Optiplex series automatically cut my issue list in half. In general, they are stable.
  • Macbook Pro: for those who must go Mac. Don't even consider the younger brother of the generic Macbook.
  • Asus RT-N16: this router has more memory & processing power to run without ever locking up. Plus it's wireless N and gigabit.
  • Canon Multifunction: I've been around the world on this one. Canon is the only small office MFP I trust. That is until you get to the large MFP's.
  • Netgear Gigabit Switches: reliable and affordable. I never had an issue.

My Favorite Thing

Every once in awhile I get the opportunity to hear John Maxwell speak live. This started when I was attending Liberty University in the 90's and now our paths cross again in the 10's.

Recently, as he was explaining the importance of attitude, he demonstrated through the diary of a dog vs a cat. Here's the jist from my memory:

A Dog Diary

  • 9am feeding... my favorite thing.
  • 10am walk... my favorite thing.
  • 11am nap... my favorite thing.
  • 12pm watch cars at the door... my favorite thing.
  • 1pm sit next to owner... my favorite thing.

A Cat Diary

  • Day 1057 of my captivity.
  • My captures still insist on tormenting me by dangling string in my face. 

As a dog owner, I laugh every time I think about it.

I thought I'd list out my favorite things:

  • HijackThis: The first line to discovering malware on a PC. I've been using it for years. It really takes an outside tool to see eveything starting up on your PC. Sillyness.
  • Malwarebytes: This handy tools gets the majority of general malware on PC's. Run it in SAFE MODE. I'll let you know if I ever become a partner.
  • DrWeb: The only tool I know of that will fix the TSSD infection.
  • ComboFix: Fixing rootkits and the TDSServ/vundo infection.
  • MacBook Pro: Because it doesn't need any of the above. I was driven to having one because the thought of ever fixing another computer made me sick. I've never had to service it since I've owned it. 
  • VI: VI is a text editor that has been around since the 70's. Color coded to easily spot errors. Learn it once and use it forever. My geekyness comes out by listing this.

You can see the list above ties directly into my conclusion. They fix problems fast, increases productivity and saves time.

Best Time To Buy

The best time to buy hardware is early December and late July. Why? Good question.

Early December because of it's proximity to Christmas on the 25th. What happens here is that companies like to hit certain production numbers on a month by month basis. By their nature, they are optimists and usually set the numbers high. When they realize that they won't hit the numbers they set themselves, they start offering discounts to easily obtain those numbers. Or if they will hit the numbers, they like to surpass them and the same situation occurs.

You want to buy early in the month because the manufacturer doesn't receive credit until the package is shipped and received. To be able to be certain that the package is received by the 25th, they'll offer discount usually the first or second weekend in December. It will be one or two days only and it will be internet only. It happens every year.

Late July is a good time to buy as well because students go back to school in mid to late August. Most students are thinking, "Hey, I go back in 3 weeks, I need a laptop." If they aren't thinking that then the parents are.

Late July is better than August because the manufacture knows they won't be able to get all of August, so they shoot for July.

This happened when I manned the Gateway Country stores year after year and it still happen today but in online fashion.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 January 2020 11:27

The Conclusion

Like all good stories, this one is going to end where it begins. So I figured I just give you the end before I begin to give details. Over the past decade of helping people out I've eventually have come to a few conclusions. Here are the two most important conclusions.

Technology is for productivity.

It exists for our sake. We do not exist for technology's sake. It exists to serve us and at some point produce some type of item. This item is often time but it also can be money, communication or something similar.

I mention this because with the amount of time we spend on technology, choosing right items, configuration and getting things to work, you'd think that we exists for technology's sake. We've all heard, or worse, been through (myself included) stories that start out like this, "I spend all day on trying to get such and such to work."

Really? All day? It isn't that I don't believe, it's that I figure at some point along the process of trying to get it to work, you'd give up. Not because you are a quitter but because it isn't worth it.

Time is the most precious resource.

Rote, I know but non the less true. Beautiful beaches, coral reefs, playing with children, calling neglected family members are all things that we could be doing instead of struggling with technology.

I try to take this mindset everyday. In practical terms, I try and fix the problems as fast as possible. Also I put a 2 hour limit on it. If it isn't fixed in 2 hours, I simply give up and find another way, often replacing the difficult item.

So I Started A Blog Today

So I started a blog today. Why should you care?

Good question. Well, because I have lots of experience. I mean lots. So much that most technology stuff is becoming obvious to me.

Then I read something. It went something like this... "Just because it's obvious to you doesn't mean it is to everyone else."

You know what? I never thought of that before. I occurred to me that there are thousands, probably millions of people who lack the knowledge and experience that I do. I look at a problem and know just what to do. They look at the same problem and have no idea what to do.

The people want recommendations with someone with experience.The people want confidence and assurance that they are taking the right actions. They want help that they are doing the right thing.

Since I'm moving in different direction other than service, I thought it would be terrible if I didn't pass my the knowledge on to someone. I figured they best way is to chronicle my experiences and journeys so that others can take advantage.

So you are the one to benefit. I'll wrap up my experiences in short blog posts and you can take advantage of what I've been through over the past decade. Most of my experience is with small to medium sized businesses, including home offices. Even if you are a large corporation, you may take advantage of the items.

That's why I started a blog.

Wireless For A Condo Building On Palm Beach

Recently a condo building on Palm Beach asked us how much it would cost to provide wireless internet to the building.

The idea here is that it's silly for all of them to pay internet separately ($40 * 100 = $4000). If they can share one internet connection, it will save them money ($x * 1 = $1x). As an added bonus they'll be able to do surf the web while at the community pool.

I wrote the response privately but decided to post the majority of it in case anyone else in the world is interested:

A hard quote can't be provided until a site survey is done. But here's a soft quote so everyone know what's involved.

There are 4 main parts to providing wireless for the building:

1. Internet Connection
One internet connection will be shared for everyone. The speed of this connection depends on the number of people using the internet and what they are using it for. COMCAST should be OK for regular office surfing and email. But some offices need an upgraded internet to a fractional optical cable / fiber line called a METRO E.
COMCAST: $100 per month approx
METRO E: $1,350 per month approx (36 month contract required)

2. Wireless Antennas & Network Equipment
Wireless antennas have to be place through out the building. These vary in cost depending on brand. Cisco enterprise equipment is on the high end at about $1000 per unit and small office equipment is on the lower end at about $150. The number of units required depends on the building itself. I'm guessing around: 15 units
CONSUMER-GRADE: $2,250
CISCO: $15,000
Other required network equip: $1,000

3. Wiring
The wireless units need to be actually wired together and meet at a central location. If no existing wiring is in place, then it will have to be installed. Ballpark is $250 per connection.
CONNECTION DROPS: $3,750

4. Configuration Service
After the internet is installed, the equipment is in hand and wiring is in place, the whole system needs to be setup correctly, taking a full day. Sometimes further support is needed for customer help (upgrading outdated wireless drivers).
SERVICE: $600
EXTEND: $600

To give a couple of scenarios...
One Palm Beach apartment complex used a DSL connection they had in place. They used 6 consumer-grade wireless units to keep costs low. They had their own on-site handyman wire the building. So the total cost was minimal about $1,500.

Another complex had a site survey done for 3 buildings. They needed all of the above. The total quote was around $37,000 and the project was scrapped.

A community center on PGA Blvd (45,000 sq ft) used an existing T1 internet connection (around $500 per month). The Cisco equipment, wiring and configuration cost around $10,000.

Pursuing wireless for a condo building on Palm Beach is decision each community will have to face depending on complex layout and funds available.

Replace Dated Hardware

It isn't worth it to deal with hardware problems. Combine this principle with the others I've stated like time is the most precious resource and the Murphy's law principle from last time and you'll appreciate this story.

I had a recent snowbird, from Manhattan, in BallenIsles. A simple call to setup a monitor, nothing big.

Monitor setup was no problem. Windows XP starts to boot then fails and begins to endlessly reboot. I try everything I can think of, safe mode, last known good config, boot into BartPE, boot into Knoppix and I even try a repair install. All end in the same result. Endlessly rebooting. Yes, even the repair install.

What do I do? A simple monitor install has turned into a service call worst disaster. After an hour and a half of tinkering, I have a total loss of everything.

I buy off lease systems in bulk and keep them around for fast office setups. They are about 2 years old, Dell Optiplex systems. Total cost of each system is barely over $100.

I run out back to my office, grab one of the systems and put it in place of the troubled item. Transfer over the user profile and finally call it a day.

Total service time was 3 hours. Which is a loss for me as I charge by the job and not by the hour.

The win here is that the issue was fixed as fast as possible and the client was relatively happy.

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