Monthly Archives :

October 2010

Apple Macintosh – Macbook Computer: Connect to Shared Windows Printer

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Recently I acquired an Apple Macbook and wanted to connect it to a shared Windows printer. Since Apple really stinks at networking compared to Microsoft Windows, focusing moreso on design and usability instead of playing well with Microsoft products, I finally found the solution from Macworld Hints:

“I’ve seen a lot of these hints on the Internet, but most of them didn’t work for me. This is how I managed to print to a shared Windows printer.

We’ll start by opening System Preferences, where we chose the Print & Fax preference pane. There you should see a list with all the printers you’ve currently installed. Click the ‘+’ button to add a new printer. This opens the Printer Browser. Then hold down the Option key and click More Printers; this lets you access the “Advanced” options from the first popup menu.

From the Device menu, select Windows Printer via SAMBA. You can chose the Device Name yourself, but the “Device URI” is a little bit more complicated. It should look like this:

smb://username:[email protected]/printername

where:

  • username is the username of an account on the Windows computer.
  • password is the password of this user on the Windows computer.
  • computername is the network name of the computer
  • printername is the name under which the printer is shared on the Windows computer.

For example, suppose there is a windows account “rafi hecht” on the computer named “rafihecht-pc”, and the printer is called “HPPhoto”. Then you should type

smb://rafi%20hecht:[email protected]/HPPhoto

Finally, select the correct printer model, and click Add.

You should now be able to print to your shared printer.”

And Voila! It works.

AJAX Can Sing to Search Engines!

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“We do have a challenge, and that is how to utilize the benefits of AJAX and but at the same time make the architecture sing on the Search Engines.”

-Client

♫♪ La la la la la! ♪♫ Clearly the uninformed client isn’t aware that Ajax cannot mix with search engines.

Dealing With Best Buy Geek Squad

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Dealing with Best Buy’s Geek Squad can be nerve-wracking. Their staff doesn’t care about servicing their customers at all unless they make noise.

Case in point: over two months ago I brought in my Gateway laptop, which had a three year warranty, for repair at a local Best Buy outlet in Toronto. The built-in microphone was not working and the mousepad was acting a bit faulty. These were supposed to be simple hardware changes. The person taking my laptop said that there was no need to provide the software cd, since they weren’t going to reformat the computer that had data on it. Two weeks later I go into the store to find out the status of the repair and was told it was in transit and should arrive the next day. When they hadn’t yet called a few days later, my wife went in to find out what the story was. At first she was told that it had arrived in the store but had not yet been unpacked and they would have to look for it. After waiting a good 20 minutes, they say that the laptop came back to the store and when they tested it they found that the mic was not working so it was being sent back to the repair centre with priority status. About a week and a half later (four weeks from when I took it in) I am told that Best Buy had received the laptop from the hardware manufacturer, Acer, and that now I could pick it up.

I went ahead and did so, only to find that the laptop was sabotaged. Contrary to the Geek Squad agent’s promise, my hard drive was reformatted, with the non-Gateway Vista operating system installed. To make matters worse, the recovery partition for creating recovery disks was deleted, and it looked as if the way to restore the operating system was removed. After all that headache, my wife and I checked the microphone, only to find that it still didn’t work.

Angry, I brought it in a second time, and complained that a) my microphone didn’t work, and b) my computer was sabotaged since the technician assured me that I didn’t need to hand them my recovery CD. By the way, this was very sloppy service as, with anything, you cannot be too careful. In any case, I was assured that  it would be looked at by Acer again, they would use my recovery discs to reformat the computer and that we would be notified in about two weeks about the laptop. Two weeks later, Best Buy called and my wife agreed to pick the laptop up while I was at work. She told the Geek Squad person on shift that she wasn’t leaving the store until it was tested on site, otherwise she and I would show up later that day. The person asked in a half joking manner if I was bigger than him and if this was cause for him to be afraid. In any case, the technician tested the mic by clapping and snapping into it and even recording the sound from a DVD, only to be greeted with no sound – the microphone was not picking up any sound. The person on shift assured my wife that the laptop was going to be sent out AGAIN for another 2 to 4 weeks, and since this was the fourth time it would be sent out they would investigate if parts had been replaced each time the laptop was sent out. If parts were replaced every time then we would be entitled to a store credit equivalent to the price of the laptop when we bought it to be used towards the purchase of a new laptop. If parts were NOT replaced every time, they would replace the part(s) now and hope that it would fix the issue.  My wife asked the guy, well, this is already going on two months and, not only isn’t the microphone issue resolved, but the laptop now was in worse shape thanks to Geek Squad! The guy sent it out a fourth time and I picked it up a few days ago. I tested the microphone and, while you can now somewhat hear something, there’s a bit of static and an echo, even in closed places. I went back in a fury, and had to spend an hour an a half to fight with a persistent Geek Squad tekkie. I told him, bottom line, that I wanted my store credit and I would just choose a new laptop. The person said that he had to check if a) it was a “major part replacement,” which he didn’t specify what qualified and what didn’t, and b) it the part was changed 4 times. When he checked the records, he saw that, in each of the times the laptop was sent out, the mic wasn’t replaced! What about the customer service? This was what I paid a three year store warranty for? Apparently Acer ran a diagnostic on the hardware part and saw that it registered, but Heaven forbid they test it out with their voices to see if it works! Apparently, with them it’s all hardware testing, and voice testing is software testing, and therefore, from Acer’s end, “it’s not my problem.” From Best Buy’s end, it’s a hardware replacement issue, and they send it out, not claiming responsibility. Not my problem! Hah! Screw you, customer!

I therefore requested a brand new laptop, asking them, how many times do they need to send it out without the part being replaced? Does this go on forever? This is poor customer service! They replied that in order to issue me a store credit for a new laptop, they needed to contact their supervisor who wasn’t in the store, and would be available over the weekend. If he approved issuing me a store credit, then the issue would be taken care of.

I explained that I couldn’t be available for over the weekend, and if I could submit a request. They allowed me to submit it.

In the end, Best Buy found that the supervisor never checked the laptop, and even though I technically wasn’t eligible to get a store credit, they made me eligible in light of all that had transpired, in order to make me happy and stop complaining to them. I then applied this credit to a high-end notebook PC, which I’m enjoying thoroughly right now as I type this.

So, some lessons learned:

  • With anything, apply for a 3 year warranty or longer. Hardware parts are tested to last one year, and if you’re cheap and only buy a 1 year warranty, you get screwed afterward. It costs more, but it’s amazing insurance when, not if, a piece of hardware breaks down. With Best Buy, if you don’t have a warranty, they overcharge you for every little thing, whether or not it works.
  • With customer support (not just Best Buy), nobody will issue you a store credit unless you turn blue in the face from screaming.
  • Nobody will accept responsibility. Finger pointing is common, as well as saying “it’s not my department.”
  • When you see multiple people in line complaining about support, you know you’re in for a rough time.

Young People Are Not Loyal – Jerry Luftman – A Rebuttal

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Professor Jerry Luftman of Stevens Institute of Technology wrote in his lecture presentation (slides 81- 83), that new grads lack loyalty. 45% of all workers want to change jobs at least every three to five years, and a whopping 34% of all employees stay with their current employer for less than 1 year. And the blame is therefore shifted on the young grads. When I first saw this, I became very angry.

All relationships, including business relationships, are two-way streets. The employee needs to “put in his time,” but an employer needs to learn how to appreciate ones efforts. Young employees are generally perceived to be inexperienced and therefore immediately expendable. As a result, they can be taken advantage of. They can be asked to work longer hours for less pay, and they will most likely say “yes” since they need the experience. And, if the employee speaks up, he’s in danger of being fired since the mantra with dealing with young employees apparently is “hire fast, fire faster.”

However, this is not a healthy attitude. True, young employees come with inexperience and in most cases, immaturity. Nonetheless, one can only work for little pay and longer hours for so long. If such an employee sees a better job offer that doesn’t look like slave labor, who wouldn’t take that?

An employer needs to look at an employee as not only an asset, but as a human being to nurture into a position. With new employees, NOT EVERYTHING IS ABOUT MONEY, even in business. Viewing that employees are robots that don’t need to be treated humanely is standoff-ish and immature, in my humble opinion. Employers barking orders, threatening to fire if a differing opinion is stated, is not healthy and would naturally tempt one to look elsewhere for greener pastures. Also, paying an employee extra money in order to motivate him more may produce better revenue results than paying young people close to minimum wage.

However, I’ve found that the “hire fast, fire faster” mantra is overly used, especially in small businesses. My personal experience as a new graduate from University was that more employers saw me as a young kid (I’ve until recently always looked a lot younger than my age dictated, and in a society where requiring that one posts ones age on a resume is illegal, this poses a problem) with little experience that was not only expendable, but could be taken advantage of. I would be asked to perform tasks that in certain instances were logistically impossible, be talked down upon, and in some cases, was outright fired. I HATED each moment of loss and felt myself dying a little more inside with each experience.  I’ve even quit a couple of employers, not having faith in them, partially in retaliation for past employers not having faith in me. Whether that was fair or not is irrelevant at this point.

From my experience, young people are looking to learn and grow with a new company they seek as a second family. I’d say that the employers are even less loyal as they see young people to be expendable.

It works both ways. Dr. Luftman, do not tempt me. If you can publish this info then I can certainly publish this blog post!

Great ASP Download Script

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A lot of people have been asking about this ASP script. Many people are charging for this script when in reality it doesn’t need to be charged. In any case, here’s the script in all its glory:
<%
‘DownloadFile ASP Script
‘Script courtesy of: http://www.xefteri.com/articles/show.cfm?id=7
On Error Resume Next
‘The following code is optional. The real code is found in “DownloadFile,” a few lines below:
Dim strPath
strPath = CStr(file)
‘– do some basic error checking for the QueryString
If strPath = “” Then
Response.Clear
Response.Write(“No file specified.”)
Response.End
ElseIf InStr(strPath, “..”) > 0 Then
Response.Clear
Response.Write(“Illegal folder location.”)
Response.End
ElseIf Len(strPath) > 1024 Then
Response.Clear
Response.Write(“Folder path too long.”)
Response.End
Else
Call DownloadFile(strPath)
End If
‘This is the script!
Private Sub DownloadFile(file)
‘–declare variables
Dim strAbsFile
Dim strFileExtension
Dim objFSO
Dim objFile
Dim objStream
‘– set absolute file location
strAbsFile = Server.MapPath(file)
‘– create FSO object to check if file exists and get properties
Set objFSO = Server.CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”)
‘– check to see if the file exists
If objFSO.FileExists(strAbsFile) Then
Set objFile = objFSO.GetFile(strAbsFile)
‘– first clear the response, and then set the appropriate headers
Response.Clear
‘– the filename you give it will be the one that is shown
‘ to the users by default when they save
Response.AddHeader “Content-Disposition”, “attachment; filename=” & objFile.Name
Response.AddHeader “Content-Length”, objFile.Size
Response.ContentType = “application/octet-stream”
Set objStream = Server.CreateObject(“ADODB.Stream”)
objStream.Open
‘– set as binary
objStream.Type = 1
Response.CharSet = “UTF-8”
‘– load into the stream the file
objStream.LoadFromFile(strAbsFile)
‘– send the stream in the response
‘Response.BinaryWrite(objStream.Read)
do while not (objStream.EOS)
response.BinaryWrite (objStream.Read(1024*256))
loop
objStream.Close
Set objStream = Nothing
Set objFile = Nothing
Else ‘objFSO.FileExists(strAbsFile)
Response.Clear
Response.Write(“No such file exists.”)
End If
Set objFSO = Nothing
End Sub
%>
It’s simple! Just call “Call Download(whateverfilename)” and you’re good to go!

Email Wars and Toxic Partnerships – End Both Now!

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Don’t you just love it when you’re involved in an email war with a BPCW (boss/partner/coworker) and are continuously CC’ing the client? My, the tension it creates!

Those kinds of situations should be an early indicator of a toxic partnership worth dropping like a hot potato. Work with harmony with your BPCW’s and partners and all will go well. The client and everyone else will take notice and appreciate you for it.

Tip: If it’s necessary to email or CC the client on certain issues, only do so when it’s absolutely necessary. The client generally has a million other things on his plate, therefore a quick read of your emails may brand you and your co-workers as complainers, and who needs to pay for that kind of service? The client only cares about results – that’s all he paid for, nothing else. Only contact the client in case of emergencies, and email the BPCW independently when doing the project. While this keeps the client out of the loop for a while, it’s much safer to not clutter up his inbox until the very end.

Drop nasty emails and toxic relationships with BPCW’s ASAP!

Adwords Chat Availability

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The following was adapted from a post in the Adwords Help section:

You can locate the chat icon by visiting the main help section https://adwords.google.com/support/aw/ and scrolling to the bottom of the page. Click on the link “Contacting Us”. Then, you’ll find more links. Click as deeply as you can, i.e. the link for “Billing and Cost Control” > “Settings, Budgets, and Bids” > “Daily Budget” (until there are no more pop-down links as options become more detailed). Only then will you see in the bottom right corner, “Have additional questions?” and it will give you these options:

– Visit the AdWords Discussion Group
– Email AdWords Support
– Chat with an AdWords Specialist

Note that this doesn’t work ALL the time – sometimes a chat support specialist isn’t available at the current time. Just try later on in the day.

Clients – Dance!

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The customer is always right, so they say. With the economy being what it is and competition being fierce, employers are doing everything to make potential clients happy and clients sense this. Therefore, clients will do anything to take what they can for free and run.

I’ve seen cases where a client will ask something at the very end of the work day and it would be due before the new work day began. This could be a new client with a quote request, or an existing client asking for a favor that should have been asked a few hours prior. In other words, they’re asking us to dance to their tune.

What makes things worse is when the client demands a quote immediately, gets it, and takes his sweet time in getting back. More often than not, the client will end up going with someone else. This happens all the time. More hours wasted on preparing quotes. To make things worse, some demand service for free! AARGH!

When will there be a time when someone can say “no” to a client? Is money the ONLY factor in today’s day in age? What about a proper division of business and personal/family time?

I’m leaving this as an open ended question.