Are your mouse and keyboard not working? It's 2018! How is this possible?

I've been receiving a number of calls lately saying their mouse and or keyboard are not functioning at all. They've tested the peripherals on another computer, tried replacing batteries, nothing has worked.

It turns out Microsoft released a security update on February 15th 2018 called KB4074588 that broke a lot of people's mice and keyboards. They are working on a fix, but in the mean time they've published instructions to remove the offending update and restore your stuff to working order.

Here are the steps:

Method 1: Restoring your system when a working keyboard is available

If a working wireless or PS2 keyboard is available, or if you can use the on-screen keyboard via a working touchscreen, follow these steps to restore your USB functionality:

In the search box on the taskbar, type cmd. Right-click (or tap and hold) Command Prompt in the search results and select Run as administrator. In the Command Prompt window, type the command listed below for your version of Windows and press ENTER.

For 32-bit versions of Windows:

dism /online /remove-package /packagename:Package_for_RollupFix~31bf3856ad364e35~x86~~16299.248.1.17

For 64-bit versions of Windows:

dism /online /remove-package /packagename:Package_for_RollupFix~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~16299.248.1.17

Restart Windows.

Method 2: Restoring your system without a working keyboard

If a working keyboard is not available after installing the update, your keyboard and mouse should work within the Window 10 Recovery Environment, which you can use to restore your system.

Start the Windows 10 Recovery Environment.

If you restart the system before Windows finishes loading the desktop three times in a row, Windows should automatically start the Windows 10 Recovery Environment.

Use the Command Prompt to uninstall the update:

At the recovery screen, select Troubleshoot, then Advanced Options, and then Command Prompt. You may be asked to enter a BitLocker Recovery Key or username/password.  If prompted for a username/password, you must enter a local administrator account. In the Command Prompt window, type the command listed below for your version of Windows and press ENTER.

For 32-bit versions of Windows:

dism.exe /image:c:\ /remove-package /packagename:Package_for_RollupFix~31bf3856ad364e35~x86~~16299.248.1.17

For 64-bit versions of Windows:

dism.exe /image:c:\ /remove-package /packagename:Package_for_RollupFix~31bf3856ad364e35~amd64~~16299.248.1.17

Note: If Windows is not stored on the C: drive, replace the C: in the above commands with the appropriate drive letter.

Close the Command Prompt and click Continue to exit the Recovery Environment. Restart to enter Windows.

More info

There are two things to note, firstly if your keyboard isn't working you have to repeatedly stop it from starting up past the loading windows screen 3 times in a row. A good way to do this on a desktop pc would be to hit the reset button, or pull out the power cord. On a laptop you could turn it on, wait for windows to start loading, and then hold the power button until it shuts off. After the third time the recovery environment should load.

Secondly, If you have trouble doing this, call us right away at 905.376.1979 to book a repair and we would be happy to do it for you.

Fix for Brother ControlCenter4 "No default email application" scan to email problem

The Issue

One of my customers is still using Windows Live Mail as their default email client. They're currently running the Windows 10 1709 "Fall Creators Update," and sometimes for whatever reason they lose their ability to scan to email from their Brother MFC-7240 through ControlCenter4.

In previous versions of Windows 10 you could open the old control panel and go to Set Program Access and Defaults (SPAD), click on the custom radiobutton and choose live mail to fix this issue. Since the release of 1709 the link to SPAD opens up the settings app and takes you to the Default Apps page. Unfortunately choosing Windows Live Mail as the default handler for mail here doesn't fix the problem.

It turns out that this is because ControlCenter4 is using the default MAPI settings, not the default program setting that this app lets you configure. As the MAPI registry key is no longer updated when you set a default program, CC4 can't see the setting and throws this error.

The solution

Changing the default MAPI client using the registry.

Run regedit and open this key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Clients\Mail

You will notice that there are different sub keys for each folder. One for "Microsoft Outlook", "Outlook Express", "Opera", etc. these are the registered mail clients.

Inside the Mail folder there should be a value called "(Default)". You need to change the value to the name of one of these subfolders

For example, since I want to use Windows Live Mail, I open the "mail" folder, double click on the "Default" key, and set its value to Windows Live Mail

After hitting ok it works. If you want to use a different client just set the key to the name of one of the other subfolders in the mail folder and it should work.

Move Bones menu to right of site logo

Hey,

I'm building a site right now for a client, and I'm using the bones wordpress theme as a framework for the design. I wanted to move the navigation menu at the top and it was giving me some grief, but I figured it out.

If you'd like to move the .nav div from below your site's logo to beside it, you need to change that div from being display:block to display:inline-block. The difficulty is that you can't just add this to your _base.scss file, because that element is being selected in normalize.scss as well as part of a big pile of elements that are all getting display:block applied to them.

Go into normalize.scss and move the .nav element from the "HTML5 Display Definitions" section for block elements down to the display-block elements section, and this should move your menu for you.

Best of luck,

Scott

The fortune is in the follow up

Last week I decided that the way I could focus my creative energy to best improve Tromley Computer Services was to find a way to improve my existing customer relationships. I've been lacking in follow-up, and as someone in a networking group said this morning "The fortune is in the follow up"

In an effort to find some sort of system to help me with this, I decided to evaluate a number of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions. I ended up testing 8 of them over the course of a couple of days, and here is what I learned in the process:

There are basically three types of CRM software. There are customer focused, process focused, and solution focused CRMs, all with different strengths and weaknesses.

Customer Focused CRM

Customer focused CRMs focus on managing and tracking your interactions with customers. They put the customer profile page front and center, and offer facilities to log your interactions with them, track your activities (scheduled tasks) and your tasks, on a per customer or per company basis. They provide a timeline that displays a big list of all of your interactions with your customers, and they are very much communication focused. Examples of a customer focused CRM are Nutshell, Base CRM, and Sugar CRM.

After testing these specific CRM solutions I quickly realized the value in being able to pull out my phone during a downtime and scroll through the timeline. Frequently I found myself picking up on things that I noted that at the time seemed unimportant, but in the new context I was viewing them they inspired me to create tasks and actually act on them. I found that having the ability to refresh myself on what was going on, and what I was learning in the process, was hugely valuable.

These CRMs are great for a business like Tromley Computer Services where every task is different, and there isn't really a standard set of required tasks I must complete for new customers. Nutshell in particular offers great features meant to ensure you're touching base with and following up with your customers on a regular basis, and in fact each customer can be assigned a level of follow up, either every three months, one month or weekly. It then reminds you in its dashboard who you should be following up with, and thanks to its two-way gmail integration allows you to click someone in the list and immediately send them an email.

Sending out these emails has shown huge returns already. They have in 60% of cases in the past two weeks resulted in new business for me, all from taking the time to send a friendly message and ask how things are going. Additionally, they have put me back in touch with customers whose friendship I truly value, and that has been really great.

Process Focused CRM

The other common type of CRM is focused around automating task lists, and as a result I've taken to referring to them as process focused CRMs. They allow you to create templated task lists, and then apply those templates to companies and individuals, often with very powerful features such as the ability to schedule tasks using relative dates and programmatically define task blocking.

Relative date scheduling provides you the ability to schedule a task to automatically appear on your task list a given number of days before or after a date, or relative to another task. Task blocking allows you to define tasks that require the completion of another task, or set of tasks, before they are automatically put onto your task list.

Examples of process focused CRMs are Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce and Solve360.

The process focused CRM is ideal for businesses like real estate agents, who have a huge list of documents and other tasks that must be completed leading up to a deadline such as a closing date. If you have a new house to sell, you assign your Sellers Template to the seller, and it will automatically generate tasks for you at appropriate times to remind the seller to submit documents, contact their bank, etc.

In addition to automating your actual value-creation processes, process focused CRMs allow you to automate your sales pipeline. You can create a lead in the system, and if you take the time to create an appropriate task template for new leads, it will remind you to send them a welcome package, follow up with them to qualify them, send them a proposal, win or lose the contract, and close the sale. As part of this sales funnel automation it can do things like track estimated revenue for a given lead, based on the estimated likelyhood that you will win the contract, and after the fact can generate reports about how effectively you are winning contracts and how quickly you are closing the deals.

Solution Focused CRMs

These are the future of CRMs for small businesses, and right now there is really only one name in this game. That is 17 Hats. This fantastic CRM is an end to end business in a box solution which provides not only task generation and customer management, but project management, invoicing, estimate generation, and everything else you could possibly need to freelance or consult as a small business. The interface is beautiful, and the workflow is very well designed and straightforward, given that it is all self-contained. The only reason I chose not to go with 17 Hats is because I am already really happy with Freshbooks as my bookkeeping and invoicing system, and I prefer to use Basecamp for project management.

Important Features

When investigating CRM solutions I set out to find something that would integrate well with the tools I already use. Tromley Computer Services is almost entirely run using Google Apps, in that they host my email, calendar, contacts, documents, and I use an Android phone. As a result strong Google integration was critical for me when considering CRM solutions.

A major sticking point with a number of CRMs I evaluated was that many of them dropped the ball on this integration. Capsule CRM, which seemed promising and was very affordable, offered really poor Google Contacts syncronization that was only one way (from Gmail to Capsule) and was implemented in a way that would result in absolutely corrupting your contacts database if you exported out of Gmail, and then enabled syncing back to capsule. Additionally, Capsule only offered one way syncing from Capsule to Google Calendar, and it wasn't even really syncing in that they provided an ical link that you could subscribe to in your calendar application that would show your capsule appointments on your calendar, but you would be unable to edit them within the google calendar interface.

Two way Google Contacts sync seems to be an extremely rare feature in CRMs, and actually is the only feature I ultimately gave up on having when I made my decision of which CRM to go for. Base CRM and Solve 360 offer excellent Google contacts syncronization, but Base forces you to buy their most expensive package (at $125/month per user) in order to get the ability to automatically generate tasks, and Solve360 costs $100/month, which is well outside of my budget. Everyone else either tries and fails, like Capsule, or doesn't try at all, like Nutshell, to offer two way contacts sync.

As a result of this, you're forced to stay in the CRM interface and use it as your contact app on your phone. Otherwise there is a good chance that you'll go to call someone, and they won't be in your address book.

The other major feature I insisted on in a CRM is a strong mobile app. Without a way to access my CRM on the go there is no way I could possibly keep on top of logging my customer interactions in it, and if you don't use it the value of a CRM disappears. Nutshell ended up having a really nice mobile app, that was capable of nearly everything the website was capable of. Additionally, and rather surprisingly to me, they actually took the time to make a native OS X app. Well, really, they just took a webkit frame, made it render their website, and added some keyboard shortcut handlers to it, but it is definitely nice to be able to leave it open in Exposé and easily swipe over to it.

A word about Zapier

There is a service called Zapier that is free to use and provides the capability to hack together solutions that overcome some of the limitations of CRM systems. You may be familiar with If This Then That, which allows you to create automatic triggers based on actions in web services, and have them automatically cause things to happen in other web services, and Zapier is basically the same.

For instance, in Nutshell there is no Google contacts sync, but you can use Zapier to create a "zap" that automatically creates a new Google contact any time you add a new contact to Nutshell. You have to map the fields yourself by hand, and if you create a new contact in Nutshell but don't have some of their contact info, and you intend on adding it later, Zapier doesn't seem to be able to append the new information to that contact when you have updated it in Nutshell.

However, Zapier is really powerful, and can provide some "good enough" solutions to compensate for the 5% of features you wish were in your CRM of choice.

I bet you can guess

So, what CRM did I ultimately decide was the best fit for Tromley Computer Services? I decided to go with Nutshell. It honestly felt like the only CRM that was reasonably priced that was written by people who actually understand what it takes to create a good user experience. It ticked all of the boxes for me, except for Google Contact syncing.

I've been using it now for two weeks, and I can honestly say it has already paid for itself several times over. If you haven't implemented a CRM system in your business please contact us and we'd be happy to help you figure out exactly which solution is best for you, and help you integrate it into your business.

Google Photos is great

Your photos are probably the most important piece of personal data that you have, especially if you're a) a Millennial, b) a new parent or c) a photographer. More often then not when I receive a request to develop a backup solution for individual clients, as opposed to businesses, it is primarily to ensure the safety of the client's photos and videos. 

For a long time the best way to back up your photos was using an off site backup solution that uploaded your data to the cloud. The one I recommended and continue to recommend is Backblaze as it offers unlimited backups for 5 dollars a month for all of your data.

However, when it comes to photo backups backblaze is not ideal for a couple of reasons. One of the main motivations for backing up your photos and videos in the cloud is that doing so allows you to free up space on your devices by deleting the local copies of your files. For this to be a pleasant thing to do a backup service should offer a functional and attractive way to browse and find your photos, which Backblaze does not have. 

Also, due to the social nature of photography people love to share their photos, so the ability to share photos with your friends and family and restrict access to specific people is important. Backblaze does not offer file sharing, as it is solely a backup service and sharing is outside of its scope.

Enter Google Photos 

Previously Google Photos was part of their fantastic, albeit underused, social network Google+ (Follow Tromley Computer Services on Google+) which was not the worst place for it. It offered tight integration with Google+'s sharing controls, allowing you to define "circles" of friends and colleagues and then share your content with specific circles. Unfortunately users tended to lose track of who they had placed in each circle, and failed to update their circles as people moved in and out of their lives. This complexity caused people to shy away from Google+ and as a result fail to adopt the photos service built into it. 

With the departure of Vic Gundotra, the Google Senior Vice President, Social and man responsible for leading the team that developed Google+, Google decided to spin off the photos team into a separate entity and began developing what was to become the new standalone Google Photos service. It offers unlimited photo and video backup for photos at or smaller than 16mp and videos at or smaller than 1080p, with the option to backup your photos and videos at original size and consume your Google storage space. It  has a beautiful material design interface, both online and in its mobile apps, simplified sharing controls, and powerful image recognition features that make finding specific photos creepily easy. 

When you hit search in the Google Photos service you are presented with places, things and people that google has recognized in your photo. For instance, using the location data that your phone embeds in the exif profile for every photo and video you take, Google can figure out and allow you to view all of the photos you've taken at a specific place. This is pretty straightforward given that the GPS data is included in those files, but what is truly innovative is that it also recognizes and allows you to search or browse by the things in your photos. For instance, you can search for "Dogs" and it will show you all of your photos that contain dogs. You can refine your search to only see "brown dogs" or "dogs in Peterborough"

According to everything I've read about the service if you hit search, alongside places and things you are supposed to be presented with a list of faces google has detected in your photos. You are then supposed to be able to choose one of those faces and see every photo in which that person appears. Allegedly they are even able to discern specific faces over time, meaning every photo you have of your child would appear from the present all the way back to when they were a baby. Pretty impressive. 

Unfortunately it seems this functionality is not available to Canadians. The app offers no indication that this is the case, or that there is a function missing, which lead me to dig through the settings and try and turn the feature on to no avail. Going into the help documentation I found a single line that said "this feature not available in all countries"

Google has placed region specific limits on functionality in their apps before, notably the fantastic Google Play Music subscription service, which is now available here and is absolutely amazing for music fans. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to enable the facial recognition technology for those of us in Canada. 

If you are a photographer, parent, business owner or anyone else who may have important files you don't want to lose, you need a backup solution today. Contact Tromley Computer Services and we will gladly help you with setting one up, as well as any other technology issue you may have. 

5 Great Pieces of Windows Software

Google Chrome

The very first thing I do upon reinstalling windows is open up internet explorer, go to chrome.google.com and install Google Chrome. Google's browser is fast, secure, and extremely extensible thanks to its very well implemented Chrome App store. Using Internet Explorer is the most common cause of spyware infestations, slow performance, and general malaise. If you are reading this in IE, go install Chrome and come back. It's okay, I'll wait.
http://chrome.google.com

Teracopy

Have you ever been moving a massive directory of files from one drive to another in Windows, as opposed to copying it, and the file transfer failed midway through, resulting in massive data loss and frustration? How about starting a big file transfer in the morning, going to work, and coming home only to realize it ran in to a file in use within the first 5% and sat there waiting for you to respond to the prompt instead of proceeding with the file transfer? If you've used Windows Explorer to move critical files around before I'm certain you have.
The solution to these problems is a great piece of software called Teracopy. It is a drop-in replacement for the Windows Explorer file move and copy utilities, and it supports things like transfer compression for increased speed, intelligent handling of files in use and other user-prompt situations to ensure things move along without you around, and automatic CRC checking to ensure file integrity once moved, among many other features. Teracopy is file transfer done correctly, and OS makers should take notes.
http://codesector.com/teracopy

Windirstat

This software's intended purpose is to give you a top-down view of your current hard drive usage. It's great when you're trying to free up space or eliminate extraneous files. However, I use it for a pretty specific purpose for which it excels. Frequently at TCS I find myself having to back up people's user folder to allow me to format and reinstall their OS without them losing their data. I use Windirstat to find all of the files on the system I want to back up; people frequently have large videos or photo collections in very odd locations on their drive and Windirstat does a good job of revealing them. Additionally, I use Windirstat sorted by file count and not size to show me where the tons of tiny temporary internet files are hiding throughout the user's profile, so I can delete them before I start the transfer. Computers are very slow at transfering large numbers of tiny files, and by deleting as many as possible you can shave a substantial amount of time off of your transfers.
http://windirstat.info/

Musicbee

Windows suffers from a lack of free music players that automatically watch a folder and organize your library for you. There are really only three worth mentioning: iTunes, Mediamonkey and Musicbee. iTunes is reasonably good, especially the new version of it as the UI updates Apple made were pretty nice. However, iTunes is crazy slow and not very extensible. It installs various services on your system like the Apple Mobile Device service, which unless you have an iDevice do nothing but eat up ram and provide one more potential point of failure on your system. Mediamonkey isn't terrible either, except that to get its advanced features like auto tag fixing and library management you have to pay for the Gold version. I've had Mediamonkey grab my videos out of my downloads folder and rename them, moving them to the Unknown Artist folder in my music library and rendering them nearly impossible to find.
Musicbee is the only music player for Windows that I've found to meet all of my requirements. It's very fast, lightweight, automatically watches my completed downloads folder and moves my music into the appropriate place, and has a good looking interface. The Android remote app for it is a bit lacking in that it doesn't provide any library interface to find and play music, but if what you're looking to do is pause, skip tracks, and change volume it is fine.
http://getmusicbee.com/

Ninite

Installing and updating software on a new system can be pretty arduous at times. If only there were an easy way to check off all the programs you want, and have them all automatically installed.
Ninite is exactly that. You go to ninite.com, check off all of the software you want installed (don't forget teracopy, windirstat, imgburn, and irfanview), and Ninite creates a custom installer for you that will automatically install all your stuff.
However, that's not all. If you run this installer again later it will automatically update any of the applications to their latest versions. It's great because if you already have a piece of software installed and you run the Ninite installer it will see the installed software and work just like it should.
http://ninite.com

Cheers to great beginnings!

I'm excited to officially launch our new website. The Cobourg area is sorely lacking in affordable, trustworthy computer repair and consulting services, and it is the hope of TCS to change that. There are so many great people here who use their computers every day without realizing their security has been comprimised by viruses and spyware, or that they are one hard drive failure away from losing the sole copy of their photos, and I want to help every single one of them.

It isn't just about fixing computers though, in fact I think that is secondary. The most important thing TCS can do for the community is to educate. So often I am told "I am really interested in getting into technology, but I am to old and it is intimidating. I just don't want to mess something up or expose myself to security risks online." Hearing this was really the inspiration behind TCS. I want to tutor every single person in the Cobourg area who is interested in learning, because I have seen what people are capable of learning if they are confident that they have someone knowledgeable to depend on.

If you're having computer troubles I feel for you. The anxiety can be crippling. Build a relationship with us and we will be your safety net. You can count on us to tell you what you need to hear, and listen to what you have to say.

  • Scott