Computer Repair in Barrie Ontario: A Guide to Share with your Friends

Fast Solution is a computer services company that services Barrie Ontario as well as the surrounding areas.  So why would we put out a how-to guide to protect yourself from threats if that is exactly how we make money?  Simple, once you realize that we are here to help, hopefully, you will call us for any other issues as well as tell your friends!

Every day I get a call or two from someone saying “my computer is slow”, “everyone on my email contact list received an email from me that I didn’t send” and/or “every time I go on to the internet I get lots of pop-ups and my computer takes me to pages that I didn’t request.”

My easiest solution for anyone reading this is to get a proper anti-virus.  I realize everyone says they know this, but I assure you from the countless calls we get about this topic, everyone does not know this.  Your parents, your friends, and your family need to be told this, because once any of the above happen, it is too late.

Now at Fast Solution on-site computer services, we are a little biassed because we are gold resellers of AVG.  Many people will call and say “well this shouldn’t have happened because we have an anti-virus on our system”.  But once you dig a little deeper you will find that they have the free version offered on-line.  So whether it is the free version of AVG, avast, or any other anti-viruses, you are not getting the protection you would get with a paid version.  Sounds like a sales pitch right?  Well it in fact it’s just the opposite.  I make much more money having to come in and clear a virus, than what I can make selling you a proper anti-virus.

By arming your computer with a paid anti-virus, you will avoid tons of issues, and potentially damaging emails because many of them have a built-in scan that will do the work without you knowing.  What I mean by that is that there are constant scans going on making sure that attachment you just clicked on in your email doesn’t have a virus attached to it that is ready to infect your computer.

Another great feature of AVG is that it pre-scans websites.  You will see a small icon beside a site’s address (during a search) telling you that AVG has scanned the site and it is safe.  This is especially important if you have kids that are on the computer.  Nothing entices my three kids more than the idea of winning something.  So when they go on to Webkinz website and see something that says they “won”…they click.  Because we have AVG, a page comes up letting us know that the re-directed site that should have come up is potentially unsafe, so it stops my kids from going further.  Even if I am not around, I can feel safe that my kids won’t be able to infect my computer.

I realize that this may not be the most enticing of topics to blog about, but virus makers are  not going away any time soon.  I also realize that not everyone knows about this so I implore you to share this with the people you care about before they too get hit.  In fact, I will make it more enticing.  If I receive a service call from someone because you forwarded this or shared it on Facebook, I will give the customer and you $25* off the next time you need our service.  It doesn’t get better than that….well maybe it does…buying a proper anti-virus and not having to have a service call at all!

*cannot be used in combination with another offer

A happier Easter for a Fast Solution customer

Fast Solution is hopefully known in Barrie as a great provider of I.T service, affordable but superior computer sales, and all around good guys to deal with.  We strive to help out in any way possible to our customers, and keep them happy (and therefore usually loyal!)  But every once in a while, you help someone more than you think you are helping them and it makes your year.

That’s right, I said year, because what I am about to tell you hit me so hard this week, that I don’t think I will stop smiling about it for a year.  I categorized us the way I did before because that is how I think we are perceived.  We are very proficient in service, and our custom-made desktop computers cannot be beat for quality.  But we entered a new arena by accident this week that just passed.

We have a customer, who deals with customers with speech and learning disabilities.  They have a wide range of services that they provide, and they are amazing at their jobs.  So what we do for them is fairly routine in the world of I.T, but that all changed this week.  They came to us with a problem.  They have a customer who suffered a severe brain injury.  The result was that he sees everything backwards.  He has switched to doing everything with his left hand (when I understand that he was predominantly right-handed).  He also reads everything reversed.  So even something as simple as reading a computer screen, like you are doing now, is nearly impossible.

There are no settings in windows, or on your screen that can correct this for him, so we set out to see what we could do.  Without boring you with all of the technical details, let me just say that we created a software that does the correction.

I am sure you can imagine what kind of impact this had on the customer.  I become very emotional myself when I see another grown man tear up.  Also when he proclaims that his “life was changed” and that we didn’t realize the world we had just opened for him, it kind of gets to you….but in a good way.

I have to say that I truly am striving for success in this business, but I am not sure that any amount of money could bring me the joy that I experienced when I was relayed the message of his glee.  I mean, isn’t this the point of it all?  I am very grateful that my technicians have the know-how to be able to think outside of the box.  If not, they may have just told me it can’t be done.  But thankfully, they don’t think that way.  My lead technician Joe is plagued if he comes across a challenge that he can’t instantly fix, to the extent that he will work tirelessly until it is solved, but that is what makes him the best technician in Barrie.

This blog was not written to brag about my company.  With the amount of negativity that gets published daily, we all need to share our success stories, whether they be personal or in business. Feel free to leave a comment sharing yours!

 

A recommendation above and beyond

Fast Solution, and therefore myself, might have had the best week yet of our four plus year existence, last week.  It started with a startled caller, which might not sound too good, but hopefully once you read on you will agree with me.

I have been trying to warn anyone that will listen recently about the phone scams that are continuously getting worse, prompting the person who answers to allow a “Microsoft technician” to gain access to their computer to remove a virus.  They aren’t just preying on the elderly any more, they have targeted anyone and everyone.  Basically the scam is they will take you into a part of your computer that will be laced with computer jargon, get you to read it back, and then confirm it is a virus.  However, on the 4 calls that I have received I have found that they taking you into an area that exists on any computer, and what they refer to as a virus is just plain text….no threat.  From there they get you to allow them to remotely access your computer, they install a free virus scanner, and get your credit card information while they charge you $140+ dollars for doing nothing.

A customer called me this week after this exact call had happened to her.  She explained what they did and how she was terrified that her identity, all of her passwords, credit card and banking information might be compromised.  Wisely, she immediately cancelled her credit cards and got her bank to put a message on her account looking out for strange activity.  And as an extra precaution, she called the anti-fraud unit of the police.  This department took some information but then transferred her to Barrie police.  She of course went over her dilemma and the officer on the other end of the phone said this “you know, you should call Fast Solution, because they can check out your computer to put your mind at ease…they are the best in Barrie”.  When she told me this I was floored.  Being recommended by the police as the go-to company to help people fight this scam and to help people secure their computer was a HUGE honour.  It turns out that the officer is a customer as well as several others in the Barrie police station, but we were unaware of their professions.

I still am waiting for the smile to leave my face after hearing this news, because this was a definite goal of mine in the computer industry.  We strive to protect people, and make them aware of the dangers that lurk in cyberspace etc..  If you have someone who you think could use our service, or if you just care enough about someone who you want them protected, send them this blog, or share it on Facebook so they can get our updates.  It won’t cost them anything, and it may just save their identity….and if you don’t believe me, ask the Barrie Police!!

So you married an entrepreneur!

Lately I have had my eyes opened to an issue that hits some of us entrepreneurs where it hurts the most…at home.  To back up a little, I should say that I am pretty fortunate because I am married to someone who gets it.  Who understands the struggles of starting and then maintaining a business.  Someone who understands that maybe you don’t just turn a key and the money pours in.  So I am very thankful.  But as she is human, her understanding can sometimes slide a little.

The reassuring part of her slide is that, after talking to many business owners, most of them share the same experience.  They have partners or spouses who, from time to time, resent the “presumed” free time and fortune, of a business owner.  The part that most of us aren’t prepared for is the stress that we get from our partner.

To be fair, I think we all had an idea of what it would be like to own a business in our heads, prior to doing it, that was very glamorous and grandiose.   But as the owner, you get a rude awakening from this glorious slumber as soon as the bills start rolling in!  Luckily for me, I come from a family that has always owned their own businesses.  My father was a custom home builder in Orillia, and I have several cousins who all own their own businesses.  So I realized at an early age that it is not always “sunny” in the land of ownership.

But what about our “better halves” who don’t have the privilege of seeing the dark side of business or the day-to-day challenges that we uniquely face.  I decided to write this blog because as I said before, I have had my eyes opened to the other side recently.  I have a friend who is going through this with his wife right now.  She started a business and now he assumed the dual role of at home sales representative for a company, and caregiver for his three kids.  He tells me of how he is now responsible for doing his own job (which I used to be in and I can tell you it is as stressful as anything I have ever experienced), as well as doing everything at his home, 7 days a week.  So he started to vent to me about what irks him about his situation.

Overall, what I took from this was that as a couple, we obviously want our spouses to succeed in everything they try.  We want them to be happy and healthy, but I think most of all, we want them around.  This may not sound shocking, but it speaks to me in almost an animalistic way.  It breeds an underlying sentiment that is really quite beautiful “I realize that we are doing this to live but what I inherently want is you”.  It is quite nice actually.  Out of the complaining that I have heard, and the stories that have been told, this was the overwhelming message.

I was happy to write this blog because during these stressful times, we need to find the silver lining.  Stop and realize what we are REALLY doing this for.  I used to believe it was for money and status, but in the end, I think it is more about who you share your successes with no matter how big or small.

Why Bill C-30 must die

I have to admit that I usually steer clear of blogging about the two “no-nos” that people should never blog about…religion and politics.  In fact the only time I ever mention either is to strengthen my view that you are entitled to your opinion in either arena.  However, when there is something so invasive in politics that will essentially affect all of us, I feel inclined to discuss it.  I also must admit that I do not profess to be a political expert in any shape or form, so I write this more as a concerned citizen than anything else.

As I understand it, bill C-30 will give the powers that be full access to everyone’s hard drive in Canada.  So everything you have ever looked at, downloaded, watched or saved will be open forum for “their eyes”.  The internet providers (Rogers and Bell) will be forced to release a list of I.P addresses that will let the government know who is at what computer, and therefore they can determine exactly what you are doing, at all times, on your computer.

So your first reaction, as mine was, might be “come on Kirk, they can’t do this”.  I would like to agree, however they have disguised it wisely and therefore have captured some very powerful support along the way.  They are selling this Bill as a tool to catch paedophiles and online distributors of child pornography.  If these were the only people affected I am sure most of us would applaud the idea.  But because a small portion of the public is guilty of this we will all be condemned because it has to be all or nothing.

I liken this idea to that of gun control.  The government came out with a “brilliant” idea that everyone has to register their guns.  If not, and you are found with them in your possession you will be fined and the guns confiscated.  This idea was originally sold on the premise that it would end illegal guns in Canada.  Statistics shows that it has not helped one bit, and the main reason…those who are criminals and deal in illegal guns will continue to do so no matter what the law is.  In my opinion this will be echoed in Bill C-30.  A person with this type of sickness will not change their ways because a Bill was passed, they will just find another way.There is one main difference though.  We will all lose our right of privacy.

The other factor that is being overlooked is wireless signals.  If someone who wants to commit these acts, hacks into my signal and uses it, I would be held responsible.  They also state that there will be more checks and balances in place so that the police are more accountable, but I, like many, are sceptical that these will be adhered to.  Quite honestly, after witnessing countless campaign promises only to have that politician go back on them once elected, makes me doubt anything that is promised now.

I recently read an article by the OPP praising this bill.  The one line that rang in my ears, was that “if you aren’t committing crimes you have nothing to worry about.”  To me, this sentence misses the entire point.  The real ideal here is that we will all be treated like criminals, regardless of guilt.

On-line security if very difficult to administer, I admit.  Ask Play Station or NASA about security.  They both were hacked and had information leaked.  This type of information being stored by the police is very susceptible to have the same outcome.

To summarize, Bill C-30 does not solve anything.  We need to get creative and be a step ahead of the criminals, instead of a mile behind them.  Bills that rob us of our privacy will only make the barrier between government and citizens greater.

Trusting your tech begins at home

One of the most familiar questions I get is “is it better to bring my computer in to the shop or have a technician perform on-site computer repairs?”  Well of course there isn’t a blanket answer for this but let me see if I can shed some light on a couple of misconceptions that seem to be lingering on this topic.

The first question is that matter of trust.  Bricks and mortar have long thought to be the deciding factor on the success of a business.  In today’s world the “building or shop” is not as much of a necessity.  For example, our techs at Fast Solution can pretty much do anything on-site as they can do on our bench at our shop (aside from some longer processes that we choose to do there to save you money).

I often laugh when someone tells me that they would rather drop it off because they “trust” a business that has a store front.  Now you are all entitled to feel this way, but I wonder where their level of trust goes once they leave their computer there.  I guess what I am asking is, just because the company has your computer, does it mean they are working on it?  Did you get bumped to the end of the line because the owner’s friend needed a favour?

When we are on site our customers have our undivided attention and know exactly how long we are working on their computer (and therefore the service hours they are being charged for) because we are there until they are satisfied.

The other element of trust is the individual tech them self.  Each technician at Fast solution has a full police check before they are permitted to enter the first customers home.  Also, as the owner, you can always contact me if there is concern, which most single-man companies in Barrie cannot boast as they ARE the entire organization.

There will always be a need to take some computers offsite to work on them.  Data recovery for one thing is a very timely process and if a technician was to do it on site it could cost as much as double what we charge to perform the retrieval in-house. But as the amount of home based businesses grows, and it is, people will need to rely on in home visits from their techs to solve their problems efficiently and cost-effectively.

We had a client call us in January that had issues hooking up their new computer to their wireless printer and router.  They took it back in to the big box store they bought it from and were told it had to be the printer and the router because the laptop was fine.  They told her to bring everything in so that they could test it.  When she asked them who would hook it back up, the highschoolish employee looked puzzled.  How could anyone not know how to hook it back up?  We offer a different level of service at Fast Solution.  We realize everyone has different levels of technical knowledge, but that is not our gauge to determine price.  If this lady had called us first she would have got two different things.  1.  We would have sold her a laptop that was right for her without the bells and whistles that she will never use. And 2, we would have delivered it and made sure it was set up to run in her home network.

The moral of this blog is simple.  If you are someone who trusts what you can see, let a technician solve your issues in front of you.  Don’t drop it off because you think you will get better service, as soon as you leave the store, your level of control may walk out with you.

A frightening glimpse into my future

Many people have “mentored” me per say in my personal and business lives.  Some of them have warned me of the perils that could lie ahead because of decisions that I make.  Most are helpful, some are preventative, but all are worth listening to.  Owning a business is only a little over 4 years old for me, but just when I think I have something figured out something new gets shown to me and it changes another facet of my daily business life.  The constant evolution I think is what has made us as successful as we are, and I have many business associates to thank for this.  Advice I find helps you weigh the good and bad in a situation, and therefore make smarter decisions to change or solve issues.

Unfortunately, the advice that I currently get is much different.  When I tell someone that I have three daughters, that are all under 10 years old, the “advice” I receive now is more the advice someone would give an inmate on death row.  “wow you really did it now, you will have to pay the consequences!”, and “you really should have considered your actions and how they would get you to the place you are today”

Now before I continue, I have to say that I love my girls, in fact they are why I started Fast Solution On-site Computer Services.  There is nothing that brings greater joy to my life like their constant laughter, which helps me get through the most difficult days.  However, the “tween” years have come quicker than I imagined they would and now I am starting to feel the wrath of being the only male in a 5 person house. In fact even our two dogs are female!

So my oldest turned ten last week, and for her party she wanted to have her first sleepover.  This increased the estrogen in my house by another 5 little women.  So while nails were being painted, dance dance revolution was being played, and karaoke was being sung, I decided to do some paperwork and watch from a distance.  I must have blended into the background quite well because the subject of boys came up and all of the girls were not afraid to say which boy they thought was cute or that they liked etc, etc, including my daughter.  Instantly my mind was time warped forward to an older version of me sitting on my front porch, in a rocking chair for some reason, cleaning a gun waiting for a boyfriend to pick up one of my girls.

“The most overlooked advantage of owning a computer is that if they foul up there’s no law against whacking them around a bit.” Eric Porterfield

I guess in a similar fashion this is why people call us to help them solve their computer problems.  It is their “baby”. they are having issues, and they lean on someone who knows what they are talking about.  Kids don’t come with a manual, but if they did and it looked like one that is included with a new computer, most of us wouldn’t read it anyway.  That might be the part of our business we like the best, breaking things down so that you understand it.  And unlike the advice I get currently, we will be proactive and show you preventative ways to keep things running smoothly.

And for any of you out there with “advice” for me that will help me keep the very few dark hairs I have from turning grey please let me know, I would appreciate it.  We always take advice better from friends.

 

Not your average second opinion

Before starting Fast Solution On-Site Computer Services, I admit I was definitely a “deal” guy.  If two stores had the same (or close to the same) product I would go where the best deal was.  I think we can probably all admit to doing this at some point.  But ever since I have been running a business, I thoroughly inspect DEALS.

Take for example the calls that I have been getting in the past two weeks from customers who have bought  or received a computer for Christmas (and by the way if you didn’t buy it from Fast Solution, you are now on Santa’s naughty list for next year!)  I cannot tell you how many people are bringing their computers back already to retailers after what they were promised, has been proven to be false.  Keep in mind, I do not say this to make you believe that we are the only capable company in the Barrie area.  There are a couple of other companies that really do a great job here as well.

The other thing that used to always make me leery (and quite honestly still can at times) is the no-obligation, free this or free that.  I often will get up at Barrie Chamber meetings and talk about our 1 hour free Business Assessment, and when I sit back down I think “do they think there is a catch?”  I guess if you boil it down it could be considered a catch because we don’t just do these for the benefit of our health.  I am hoping that you will get a look at the professionalism, honesty, and knowledge that we have and choose to switch to Fast Solution for all of your computer needs.  However, if you ignore that for a second, think about what you the consumer will get.  A second opinion for free.

Technology is one of the hardest things to fully understand and keep up with today.  Who or what you have in place currently may be working fine, but are you paying too much?  Conversely are you limited to growing your business because of what a technician has set-up for you in the past.  Do you have a network map made so that if something happens to your current I.T company you can continue business the next day without missing a beat?

I guess the reason I believe we have a different offer than most is that if you don’t like what we have to say, you don’t have to do anything.  We don’t collect any of your data or hound you after.  I will however tell you that as past experiences have gone, this is a call you should make today….don’t wait until something isn’t working. (705)739-FAST {3278}

Open gifts together, anywhere in the world!

Tomorrow, I will be presenting at another seniors home showing the residents the benefits of programs like Skype, and it occurred to me that maybe some of my readers don’t know the benefits themselves.

I mainly use Skype because it is extremely user-friendly, however, there are tons of other services out there that you can use.  Skype in an on-line program that allows you to call anywhere in the world, through you computer, absolutely free of charge.  It is face to face video calling that can be set-up in about 5 minutes, and has no limitations on time or number of times you call.

So the mental picture I try to paint with the people who listen to my presentation centres around Christmas.  Imagine that you are in a seniors home, or have any assisted living situation, and you can’t travel.  But just because of that, it doesn’t mean that you stop sending out presents or cards to your love ones that may not live around the corner.  Up until a couple of years ago, the best you could hope for was a call after the recipient opened what you sent telling you how much they appreciated it.  Now as a father of three girls, I can tell you that, as many of you have experienced, watching a child open a gift is worth its weight in gold.  So in comes the new age of internet and technology, and bam…your wish to see someone open a gift is here.

Now the great thing about Skype is that it is 100% free.  So here is what you do.  Go to www.skype.com and download the program.  You will have to set-up a username and give your geographical location (there may be more than one “Joe Smith” in the world and this helps others find you who want to connect).  As far as hardware for your computer, if your computer is less than 5 years old you may not need to do anything, but if not, you may need to invest in a microphone so that the person you contact can hear you.  Also, you will need a webcam if you want to let the person you are calling see you as well.  Last but not least you will need to email or call the person you are trying to get in touch with to get their username.  You can also try to search for them if they already use Skype.

So now that it is set-up, you send your package to your loved one in (insert location here) and wait until Christmas morning.  You then receive a call on your computer using Skype when they wake up and you get to sit in the comfort of your own home, sipping coffee and waiting to see the smile on their face.  The internet gets a bad rap sometimes, but I assure you this is not one of them.  It is a program designed to bring us closer together and not lose touch just because we have hit a certain age, or because it is too costly to travel every year for the holidays.  Skype, and other programs like it, are exactly what the internet  should have been created for (in my opinion).

If you need help with Skype, or anything else computer related, please visit us at www.fastsolution.ca and email us, or call us at 705-739-3278.  This will be my last blog before the holidays, so please have a safe and rewarding holiday with your families.

 

Lessons from my big fat mouth!

I was reminded yesterday of how little I knew in University about how the world works.  You see it has taken me some time to improve on how I spoke to people and I guess in turn, respected them.  To shelter you from a long boring story let’s just say when you tell your professor to “not talk to your employer like that” you may be overstepping your bounds in more than one category.  So needless to say, I chose the harder path of saying what I thought, no matter how the listener would feel.  So before I continue this blog, sorry Dr Sarlo!

I have found however, that the pendulum of politically correct speaking definitely swings both ways, and often too far on either side.  I am of the mind that even this blog may not be considered politically correct, but I implore you to read to the end, and then make a comment.

I find social media outlets like Facebook to be fascinating occasionally, because people tend to “live out loud” on their computers.  Telling you every thought, every question, and describing every occasion (no matter how minuscule).  I also find that some people feel that because you are typing it in lieu of saying it, political correctness can be disregarded.  This to me is perplexing, mainly because these individuals have discounted (or maybe just hoped) that they would never see anyone in their reading audience again!  I have seen  proclamations about everything from “if you don’t vote for the Liberals….” to people who are tired of saying happy holidays instead of “Merry Christmas”.

Now the debate over who is right in the above examples are for you to decide, but this is not the focus of my point.  My question here is whether or not the writer of this expression realizes the potential reaction he or she may receive from posting this.  You can quickly segregate a portion of your audience if you give an opinion about a hot topic (religion and government are top of the list) and I suppose I am just asking, is it worth it?

Now I am all for voicing an opinion, but I guess I am stuck on the part of whether anyone asked you for it.  Like in my example prior, I was a definite offender of giving it regardless, but over the years I have tried to lessen my answers to questions not asked.

To be balanced and fair in this blog, I also need to acknowledge that sensitivity HAS to be altered.  In that pendulum I mentioned earlier, we have seen political correctness swing way to one side to compensate for a growing shift in sensitivity.  Everyone has a hot button I realize, and no one likes to feel offended, but my contention is with the exaggerated amount of this people tend to get offended about.  I remember, for example, that there was a certain outrage about the use of the name “Cleveland Indians” a team that was born in 1901.  Approximately 70 years later, people decided this was an offensive name.  Not because they were personally harmed, or that the baseball team was portraying native Americans in a negative light…just the name offended them.

I guess the morale of my blog is that if someone wishes you well (whether that be Merry Christmas, or Happy Chanukah for example) just accept it.  Take it as one person wishing another well..nothing more.  Sometimes we create more drama by over-thinking or being too sensitive, not keeping the real issues in the front of our minds.

Anyway, thank you for reading this, and Merry Christmas to you and your family, or happy holidays…..whatever makes you happy!