22 Mar


When I first started using Windows 8, I was like the gunslinger who in a critical moment reached for my gun, and my heart sank as I realized it simply wasn’t there! But at least my death would be quick!

In contrast, I’ve worked with clients who have been limping along, with Windows 8 induced unease and discomfort since their introduction to it.

As a computer technician, folks expect me to embrace, revel, and thrive on what Microsoft delivers. Like my clients, and unlike other techs, I ask what was wrong with the Windows 7, or what improvements have been made? I noticed that most of my clients are dissatisfied with Windows 8/8.1, and Best Buy only carries 8.1 on all new computers. I realize the artificial popularity of Windows 8/8.1 is about fulfilling a Microsoft agenda and not satisfying consumer preference.

There is nothing wrong with change when there is a rational purpose guiding it. There is an apocryphal story about a senile car engineer. He insisted on putting the steering wheel on the right passenger side of the car. The accelerator and brake stayed where they were on the left side. The engineer’s superiors helped him make a smooth and quick transition to retirement. Under current Microsoft minded leadership, the engineer probably would have been promoted.


First, Windows 8 lacks a start button. 8.1. brings it back, but when you click (or tap) the new Start button in Windows 8.1 you’re sent back to the Start screen. Not only does it not work in a way that is traditional or expected, there simply is no rhyme or reason why it should it propel you to the start screen. One can always tweak the start menu with the use of 3rd party software such as “Classic Shell”.

When you take in your car in for a recall, do you praise the car manufacturer? They left something out, and now they are required to remedy their problem. But Microsoft resolved very few major issues in Windows 8.1.

Secondly, accessing Safe Mode in Windows 8 & 8.1 can be a frustrating experience. But first, why access Safe Mode? In a nutshell , Safe mode may be the only mode a technician or saavy user can work in if a computer is hit by malware, or there are driver or hardware problems. It is a very important tool in certain circumstances and accessing it might be necessary to resolve a problem.
The important aspect to reaching safe mode, is not just hitting f8 (which Microsoft took from us in Windows 8 & 8.1). The critical part is that you should not have to boot fully into regular mode or boot to the login screen since they will not always be available in certain situations. It’s like being required to pick up a key at the bottom of a swimming pool in order let yourself into the swimming area. It makes no sense.
It is possible in many computers to access safe mode through the “advanced” Recovery Mode. But some computers do not allow for it. Every method of reaching safe mode in Windows 8 & 8.1 is either cumbersome, time consuming, or unreliable. Previous version of Windows only require tapping F8.

Third, you have more than a little pressure to create a Microsoft account when first setting up your Windows 8 computer. How benevolent and altruistic of Microsoft! Fancy that I don’t have a Microsoft account. Why should I have to create a Microsoft account in order to use my computer? Ultimately I saw that a local account is available for set up, but it was not initially obvious.

Fourth, a desktop should never in a million years be difficult to access or find. It should be home base, not part of the maze of tiles on a start page. Windows 8 & 8.1 makes the desktop difficult to locate. To quote technology writer Andrea Peterson: countless accidental touchpad swipes have brought up unwanted apps or programs. Part of this is the learning curve…..” An operating system that is windows which millions of business people will be using doesn’t need a significant learning curve for its own sake.
Even if the theory that Windows 8 & 8.1 is faster out of the box than its predecessors does not mean it is faster on a day to day basis. The reason is because Windows 8 & 8.1 are just as susceptible to viruses, malware, spyware, bloatware, excess temp files, unnecessary processes, cookies, startup entries, registry errors, driver issues, and just about anything that could and would slow down Windows 7, Vista, and XP.

In conclusion, Windows 8 will be around for a while longer, even though Windows 10 is coming out soon. I have yet to hear anyone but a Microsoft aligned IT person praise Windows 8 or 8.1. Microsoft knows Windows 8 was a flop. Microsoft’s affinity for change for its own sake only means that Windows 10 will likely incorporate many changes.

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20 Mar

Mac vs. PC



We write our title with a bit of “tounge-in-cheek”. There is such fierce debate between Windows advocates  and Mac supporters, about which is “better” that we can’t help but to smile. It can’t be an entirely serious debate given that personal choice is about perception, preference, and market pressure. But if you want to know which computer the author is using to write this article, you can ask him.

There are a few things that the Windows folks need to know and understand about Mac. The first is that contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend $3000 to purchase a Mac. It certainly helps, but there are several kinds of different Macs, and one of the least expensive Mac desktops is the Mac Mini. The specs for each  Mac is outside the scope of this article, but we encourage you to take a look in order to compare: http://www.imore.com/mac-mini-which-entry-level-options-should-you-get. The entry level Mac Mini runs about $499.00.

Now that we debunked the myth that a Mac is unaffordable (well sort of), what are the differences? One of the key differences, according to Professor Tom Rodden, is that historically Microsoft has been a software company, whereas Apple controls both hardware and software. The end result is that Apple can protect and optimize its computers in ways Microsoft cannot. http://bgr.com/2014/06/26/differences-between-mac-and-pc/. So now imagine being able to test the operating system with every combination of hardware that you will release.  This is a good reason Mac advocates happen to love the Mac and report that “it just works”.

A Windows guru might scoff at these “benefits”. For one thing it is nice to have a choice of what kind of hardware you are going to use. Moreover, when there is only one machine to choose from, you have a virtual monopoly and we all know what happens to price when it isn’t beaten around with a little competition. The perception of Mac because of the way Apple handles business is that they cater to the elite and are okay with only 5-10% of the market share. When you buy your Mac, coming from a PC, keep in mind whether your computer will have the software compatibility that you have come to expect and rely on.

The Mac camp will let you know just how amazing the Mac operating system is which is fully integrated with and works seamlessly with the hardware. An operating system named Unix which is “open source” was not built for Macs. However Mac’s use of Unix as a platform has made it incredibly solid and highly resistant to viruses.  Also, in part because of the Unix Platform, the Mac is an incredible tool shielded by amazing security, and requires far less maintenance.

There are few who could denounce the Unix platform upon which Mac resides.  Windows users could very well say that they are catching up to Mac with touch screen technology (Windows 8) and that they are compatible with a lot more software. The PC offers far more ability to customize its software and hardware. In addition, Windows offers great backwards-compatibility.

In conclusion, if everyone bought a Mac, many computer repair guys would go out of business, and the price of a computer would be unbearable…. until then, lets keep stoking the fiery debate between the Mac and Windows. There are common threads that run through all computers, like “don’t drop your laptop”.



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16 Sep
14 Mar

What Makes Windows 7 So Great?

How great is Windows 7? Like anything it may depend on who you ask. For example, ask Microsoft and it’s probably the best thing since the discovery of electricity. Seriously though, Windows 7 is best known for being the antidote to Vista (considered by some to be a second edition of Vista). I hardly ever hear anyone say they like Vista which has always been riddled with problems including User Account Control issues, driver signing requirements (64bit), problem service packs, and compatibility issues. Let’s explore Window’s 7 best features and determine what degree of improvement it holds over Windows Vista.

Is Windows 7 generally compatible with hardware and software? Microsoft has actually done quite a bit better making this operating system compatible with most hardware and software used today. In fact, an “upgrade advisor” is available to inform the user if there are any compatibility issues before that person upgrades to Windows 7….“Bravo.” Unfortunately Windows 7 is not compatible with everything, especially older hardware.

Microsoft foresaw some of the problems with compatibility and took extra    steps to minimize those issues. Windows 7 contains a feature called “Xp Mode”. What this is literally, is Windows Xp running on Windows 7. Once installed, there is a window on the desktop that will run programs designed for Xp. It is a “virtual” operating system where you can perform all the tasks that you would ordinarily be able to run on a Windows Xp computer. Windows Xp Mode was designed primarily to help businesses move from Windows Xp to Windows 7.

Another feature which is improved in windows 7, and which was highly criticized in Vista is called the User Account Control (UAC). The UAC was set up for security purposes. Whenever there was a system level change in Vista, the operating system would prompt a dialog box that would require the user’s permission to either stop or continue (how annoying)! Even the default administrator account is subject to the UAC in Vista. The Windows 7 UAC is better for several reasons. There are more settings that allow a user to control the UAC according to his/her comfort level with the notifications. The UAC is now designed to provide the user with the control over what changes can happen to the system.

There are a few things in particular that (from a technician’s perspective) make Windows 7 a whole lot better. It is simply a more stable operating system, programs load and run quickly, and basic drivers are automatically installed after a re-install of the operating system. One of the most notable improvements however is the file management system known as libraries. Previous operating systems haven’t been as efficient about pulling together files with the same characteristics and allowing you to access them from one place. Libraries is very cool because even if you have pictures (for example) spread around your entire hard drive, they can all be found easily in that centralized location. Still, there is no doubt that getting used to the layout of the Windows 7 OS takes some getting used to, especially if you’re an “Xp” person.

Speaking of the Xp operating system, I’ve received the same question many times about whether one should migrate to Windows 7 for their next pc or laptop, or stay with Windows Xp. That’s a good question. So stay tuned for my next article addressing that issue. In conclusion, there is no question that Windows 7 rocks compared to Vista, and although still susceptible to crashing, blue screens and viruses, it does have the greatest potential of any of Microsoft’s operating systems so far.

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09 Mar

The Most Effective Ways to Speed up Your Computer

There are many ways to speed up your computer, and some take very little time at all to facilitate. Just as with your car, your computer needs proper maintenance to run smoothly. The best thing about it though is that it doesn’t take a technician to properly maintain your pc or laptop. All that it requires is that you’re conscientious and willing to learn. The following tips are for windows computers and are designed for computer users with basic computer knowledge and an interest in learning how to save time and money.

The all powerful, yet very simple tool that cleans your temporary internet files, cookies, recycle bin, and your cache is called: Ccleaner. Unlike a lot of registry cleaners which can completely kill your operating system, Ccleaner is risk free. It does it’s job very well which is basically to clean the areas in your computer where viruses and spyware tend to hang out. Ccleaner can be downloaded for free at download.com. Another great thing about Ccleaner is that it only takes about 10 seconds to complete from start to finish. How can you beat that?

Don’t you hate it when your computer takes forever to boot? Then, when you go to launch a program, you realize it still hasn’t fully stopped booting! There are several steps to take in order to have your pc or laptop develop a faster boot speed. First you must realize that everything in your sys tray (bottom right hand corner of the desktop) is operating in the background and taking up your computer’s resources (memory and processing time). For example, you should have an antivirus you can see in the sys tray. However, any unnecessary programs that are known to operate in the background should be removed. To do this, one can simply go to add remove in the control panel, and remove programs that are either “junk” or not need. There are other ways to stop services from running in the background at start up, but an experienced technician should apply those methods in most cases. Please also remember to have only one antivirus run on your computer at a time.

Defrag your computer or laptop! After you’ve used your computer for awhile, the files become arranged in a non contiguous fashion which makes it harder for windows to work efficiently. There is nothing that you did wrong to make this happen. By simply deleting and creating files (using your pc normally) fragmentation is inevitable. The good news is that there are plenty of tools to organize the files appropriately. The software known as “diskeeper” is one of the more popular and effective defrags out there. Yet why spend the money when windows has a defrag built in (or when you can get one for free from download.com). To use the defrag built into windows,  click start, select All Programs, select Accessories, click on System Tools, and then click on Disk Defragmenter. In short, defragging is very important and is very much a part of basic maintenance.

So you thought you had to call a technician to find out if your system can hold more memory? Nonsense! I showed a customer how to do this, and afterward he not only determined the capacity his pc had for ram, but he was inspired to install it on his own. Simply go to your url and type in:  www.crucial.com. Use the Crucial system scanner tool and it will tell you what type of ram you have and how many more sticks of ram you can have to reach maximum capacity. A computer can be sped up significantly when additional ram is added to it.

Both viruses and spyware are notorious for causing computers to slow down   (among other problems they cause). However, they don’t always raise a flag and tell you that they are present. This is where you get to save time and money simply by obtaining an anti virus and anti spyware. Cnet.com reviews the best software, and we believe ESET and Bit Defender are among the best anti viruses. Also, we use and have had success with Spybot as an anti spyware program.

In conclusion, we described above the top 5 ways you can speed up your pc or laptop. The best part about it is that you can do it all yourself and save money in the process. Olympus Computer Services is here for you if you need instruction or would rather have us perform maintenance on your behalf.

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14 Oct

Tip of the Day: Back-up, Back-up, Back-up

The following are quotes to remind you of the importance of Backing up your precious Data (Pictures, Music, Word & Excel Files, and Accounting Data)

“An ounce of Prevention is worth a pound of Cure”   – Ben Franklin

“It is easier to forestall a disaster than to deal with it.” – Ancient Proverb

“I wish someone had told me that I should’ve backed up my Data” – Mr. Zoller (after irrevocably losing an accumulation of 8 years of data from computer virus infections).

“Even if your on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there” – Will Rogers

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The worst thing you can do is nothing” – Theodore Roosevelt

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14 Oct

Creating Your Luck To Enjoy Your IT Experience

So maybe the guy on the assembly line had a bad case of the hiccups when your hard drive touched his hands. Who knows? There may be a degree of randomness in anything, but here is what we know for sure:

  1. Your computer is not cursed and there is nothing “magical” about the way your pc works;
  2. Your hardware and software will not last forever, they are not designed to;
  3. Whether you view your computer as a “necessary evil” or instrument of beauty has a lot to do with your role in maintaining your computer and computer education.

The following are suggestions which will help you make informed decisions and show you that you have a fair amount of control over your information technology experience.

Have someone you trust recommend the hardware/computer manufacturer.

Have the person that recommended the hardware/computer support that product because it is likely that they performed the research or have experience with it.

Like a car, your computer needs regular maintenance. Talk to your IT expert to develop and fine tune a maintenance plan that works for you.

Understand what “cutting edge technology” means  for the device, computer, or hardware that you are interested in. Sometimes cutting edge technology is great, but sometimes it cuts deep because a device or operating system is released before it is perfected.

Find out what’s free. The best technicians frequently use tools that are free. So why shouldn’t you?

In conclusion, we all know there is luck. Who says you can’t create your own luck? Good luck!

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14 Oct

Technology Does Not Have To Be Your Enemy

When your time is precious, your money is limited, and you don’t feel heartache should be a part of your agenda, please consider the following 3 recommendations.

  1. Before you purchase your computer hardware or computer, please consider who will be supporting the product if it doesn’t work, or if it requires time to configure and set up. The benefit of selecting hardware or a computer that your tech recommends, is that the technician’s endorsement is another way of saying that the hardware/computer is more reliable and it can more easily be supported than other products like it.
  2. A Back-up plan is NOT optional. If you have any important data whatsoever on your laptop, computer, or server, than you need a back-up plan. Not having one is like driving with faulty brakes. Consult your IT professional for the plan that fits your needs. Back-up for your computer is surprisingly inexpensive, so don’t wait until a virus attacks your precious pictures or accounting data.
  3. When you purchase a new computer, please remember to hold on to all the software, and especially the “restore CD” or operating system disk. A re-install of your operating system is recommended once every 2-4 years, after viruses damage the OS, and before you sell or give away your computer.
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14 Oct

Do You Want XP But You’re Stuck With Vista?

For the majority of OCS customers who prefer XP, but are “stuck with” Vista, there are ways to make your Vista look and feel more like Windows XP. In fact, making some of these things will actually free up processing power and help optimize your system.

For example, changing your desktop background to a solid color can actually help speed it up.

If you like the classic look, try this: Right-click on your start buttoncirclebubble? Select Properties, then left-click that to get Start Menu and Taskbar Properties. Under the Start Menu tab, select Classic Start Menu. This will bring back some Windows XP/2000 familiarity.

OCS will be presenting a comprehensive maintenance package to customers very soon, and as a part of that package, we will help you tailor your operating system to look and feel the way you want it to. Indeed, if you have XP, but like the Vista look, we can help with that as well……Thank you!

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