OK, don’t listen

I got a panic message last night, after business hours. “I’ve got a virus! Help!”

Sure, drop it off now, we’ll take a look and fix you up within 24 hours. OK. Agreed.
So I wait. 6:30, computer gets dropped off. Time passes… 11:30 that night I get another call. “Hey, a friend said they know how to fix this and will do it for free. Can I get my computer back?”

Where do I start? Being available after hours? Almost midnight and I’m still on call? No charge for any of this. Making arrangements the next day to be available? And when the person turned up late, letting them come to my partners place of work, pick up a key for our home and let themselves in to pick up their computer so they can take it elsewhere to be fixed for free? No charge.

What if I had done what I normally do, jumped right in and fixed it up? Would I have got paid? What if I had been working on it for four hours when that call came in? What would you have done? I think we can agree that giving the key to your home is above and beyond normal customer service levels.

I hate being messed around like this but it goes with the territory. I can deal with it. What I can’t deal with, is the irony. The same person we’re doing this for walks in to my partners place of work to pick up our key and proceeds to rant that they can’t make a living in their own profession any more because everybody is jumping in as an expert and working for free. Exact words, I’m told.

That part I found a little hard to swallow, given what the person was standing there doing to us. No charge.

As I advised, from the description of the virus that was given over the phone, a simple System Restore will appear to work, but it won’t. If this is the virus we think it is (and a small wicked part of me hopes it is), we have seen it before. It will be back within a week, the next time the computer restarts. Sure as apples. Second Tuesday of the month, regular as clockwork: Patch Tuesday. God bless Microsoft and their automatic updates. Tick tock. Five days at most to that restart. And counting. That’s why you pay for stuff like this. And next time, believe me, up front.

CarI is a published technology columnist (again)

I recently received a phone call from a friend that runs an on-line newspaper. The server suffered a major outage and they were offline. Fortunately, the site owner had a healthy respect for backups and had a recent one available. Using this I was able to restore the file structure and recreate the back-end database on another hosting server, getting them back up and running after three days and some sleepless nights.

As a thank-you my grateful friend offered me free advertising for a year. His exasperated Editor wrote a 1500 word front page feature article about me, and Gyst Services, which, if you are interested, you can read here.

I also made such a lasting impression that I was invited to contribute a column on technology, to which I agreed. My column has already begun. You can look me up under Columnists on the web site of the Ontario Press Council’s most recent member, the News in Port Colborne and Wainfleet (NIPCAW), though I will be reposting each of the articles on my own site here, under Tech Talk.

Titled “Carl Talks Tech”, the at-least-weekly articles in this column will focus on practical advice, breaking news and technology trends. I have carte-blanche on subject matter. I am looking forward to writing again.

Transfer complete!

Onwards and Upwards with Gyst Services.
Onwards and Upwards with Gyst Services.

OK, I migrated Lightroom, Outlook and iTunes from original PC to new PC without losing gigabytes of metadata, years of e-mail or hundreds of playlists. Extracting those successfully from a dead PC is quite an achievement and I’m feeling clever, which means now is a good time to stop for the night. Time instead to enjoy Friday night curled up on the couch with Nikki and Netflix.

Tomorrow, I have a new challenge: My first column in the newspaper. I have no name for it yet. I hope by morning to have come up with a name I like. I also have a few back end things to get ready before then, and some links to prepare. Sometime toward mid-afternoon I may get to finally plug my Wacom tablet into this new beast I built and put her to the test with some serious Photoshop and After Effects heavy lifting. I have a backlog of video sitting here waiting for editing and it isn’t going to take care of itself. After that I may get started on that book I’ve been planning. But that, as they say, is another story. Onwards and upwards!

The weekend is here and I must get ready…

This weekend promises to be a very busy weekend for me. First, I upgraded my computer. Instead of doing it the easy, way, transferring files gracefully from my old one to the new, I left it a day late and a dollar short. I literally had the two computers side-by-side ready to do things the easy way…when the old one gave up the ghost. Bum. Had to pull the hard drives and take ownership of the files, then begin the laborious manual transfer of files. That is the easy part. Having to recreate 6 years worth of program settings, e-mail filtering rules and archives begins tonight. That is the beginning of my weekend and I think I have everything ready…I’ll find out soon enough.

Wish me luck!

NAPP induction

Dear Diary: Today I was inducted into the serried ranks of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. Actually, this happened a few weeks ago but the paperwork only landed today. The membership of this professional body comprises some of the brightest and the best in the fields of creative photography and design. And now, they have me.

Quick tip: Photoshop Open Recent File Woes Fixed

By default Photoshop lists the last 10 files you worked on under Recent Files. If, like me, you jump through a couple or three dozen files per day, finding the one you worked on an hour ago can be frustrating. Particularly if that file would have been number eleven or nineteen: It doesn’t show on the Recent Files list. At that point it is time to scream and frantically search your entire hard drive with the boss breathing down your neck… but wait. There is a way around this. You’ll like this…

Go to Preferences (CTRL-K, CMD-K on Mac) and choose the File Handling tab. At the bottom, ‘Recent File List Contains’ shows a box containing a number, by default ’10’. Type 20, or whatever you think is needed. Close preferences. OK, that will help in future, but how will that help find number nineteen now, you ask? Here is how, I answer: Photoshop actually remembers more than the default number it shows. It simply limits the Recent Files display to the number you tell it to. By changing this to 20, you force it to display more. Which means…

Go back to File > Open > Recent Files…and see that Photoshop now shows the 20 most recent files, INCLUDING NUMBER NINETEEN! You can now impress your boss with your incredible organizational skills, and get that raise. And if you think this tip could help others, pass it along. CheerS!