On The Tech Support Trail

One of our photographers at work asked me if I’d take a look at his PC. He’s not a computer guy and has two sons who play games. It’s a guaranteed recipe for computing hell!

His wife is a sainted woman – she gets a free pass!

The computer is a Quantex! I had a Quantex too. What’s left of it is in the attic, in pieces.

They were nicely priced PCs, back when Quantex was in business. This is a Pentium III, running Windows 98.

Tim complained about “Blue Screens of Death.” Confirmed!

Actually, the biggest problem with this PC… with so many PCs… is how much is installed that wants to start every time the power button is pressed. Each little app takes a small amount of the processor’s capacity. When you’ve got dozens of these puppies starting up, there’s not much computer left.

What’s the expression? Bleeding to death from a thousand cuts?

It was sluggish, with the mouse jerking around the screen. There were BSODs at random moments.

First step, I went in and stopped as many programs as I could (and recognized) from starting by themselves. Then I started to pour through the installed base.

I didn’t want to uninstall the boy’s games. I may not have to.

There were at least two virus programs running. I’m not a big fan of McAfee. Every computer I’ve ever ‘deloused’ has McAfee on board! The other one I’d never heard of at all.

In went AVG AntiVirus – it’s free and it seems to work. I also ran AdAware.

As I removed bits and pieces of ‘stuff,’ the computer became more responsive… faster. I continued to poke around.

There were six versions of AOL’s software installed. I removed five.

It doesn’t look like any critical updates had been installed since… Oh, hell – it didn’t look like any had been installed, period. This is very common.

Tim’s machine will live to fight another day. It’s just a shame that his machine’s fate is shared by so many others.

If I were recommending a machine for someone without kids who play games… someone who wanted to surf the net and send email… I’d suggest Linux. I know it’s nerdy, but it gets the job done nicely and (at the moment at least ) it’s impervious to evil.

2 thoughts on “On The Tech Support Trail”

  1. You should recommend a Mac for just that reason – much better for the average user than *NIX, and (as of now) just as impermeable.

  2. Point taken – but Linux wins by virtue of cost. You can take a cheap, discarded computer and throw Linux on it for free. My personal computer at work is a Pentium 800 mHz with 256 mb RAM. It serves me perfectly as a desktop machine while simultaneously producing and uploading the tide tables on the station’s website. It gets rebooted every month or two and runs 24/7.

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