Solving a Variety of Consumer Computer Problems (Case Study)

Solving a Variety of Consumer Computer Problems (Case Study)

It was interesting after my recent varied office session to have a similar situation today with an end-user. Similar, in that it was varied and we covered a lot of ground.

Wayne had saved up a dozen different issues to ask me about or get my help with. And most of these were not everyday items! So here’s what we dealt with today:

Internet Explorer Malfunctions

Wayne’s Internet Explorer (version 8) simply wouldn’t open content from a link in either a new tab or a pop-up window. Hitting the standard “reset” option in Internet Explorer had no effect.

I was quickly able to locate a solution that had worked for someone else who claimed to have tried literally close to 100 different possible solutions before finding one.

I tried that, and it didn’t work either.

However… I was then able to take the same basic script that had succeeded for someone else, put my own twist on it (doing the same thing, only in safe mode), and come up with a solution that worked for us.

Second problem: a very annoying (and confusing) popup asking, “Do you want to view only the webpage content that was delivered securely?”

This one was easy. It took only a couple of minutes to resolve.

Third problem: Nothing would happen when Wayne clicked on a print button in his gmail. If he right-clicked to print, it would only print half of the page.

Even easier. It had been resolved already by other things I had done to restore the browser.

While we were there, I showed Wayne how to see the way a printout was going to look before he actually printed it.

Exporting Contacts From Outlook to Gmail

Not as easy to find in the new Office 2010, which Wayne had the beta version of. You have to look under File, Open, Import… in order to export. Don’t ask me why. Saving space on the screen, I guess. From there it was pretty easy.

Wireless Printer Configuration

This was the one thing we just weren’t able to resolve. Wayne’s router simply couldn’t see that second wireless printer, no matter what we did. Nothing to be done about it. His apparent options would be to either print to it using a cable, or replace the printer.

Microsoft Word and PowerPoint Questions and How-Tos

First issue (Microsoft Word 2010): Some fonts that had been there previously appeared to be missing. I explained how they were still present, and how to access them.

Second issue (Microsoft Word 2010): Starting a new line would always result in the first letter of the new line being automatically capitalized. Not a result Wayne wanted.

If you dig under the options for “Spelling and Grammar,” there’s a check-box that controls this. Unchecking it will turn the feature off.

Third issue (Microsoft Word 2010): Wayne needed to know how to number without indenting. Very annoying to have the numbered lines indent when you don’t want them that way.

There are two approaches to this. One is to change the default behavior. The other is to leave the default the same, but know how to change it on those occasions when you want to. Since Wayne didn’t want it unindented all the time, I showed him how to do the latter. It’s a function of the paragraphs that make up the numbered lines.

First, you select the numbered lines you want to unindent. Then, right-click on the selected area, find the indentation option, and set it to zero. Done!

Fourth issue (Microsoft Word 2010): The macro that Wayne created to insert a bold, blue asterisk into the text wouldn’t work.

As first steps, I tested the macro, re-recorded it, and tried again. Sure enough, it wouldn’t work.

Bug in Microsoft Word. It should’ve worked just fine.

From there it was a matter of discovering a workaround. This led us into some macro code which I reworked. Our first test was promising, but didn’t return us back to non-bold and regular black print. Since we knew that Wayne would in pretty much all cases be switching back immediately to regular black print, we were also able to automate this. We tested our rewritten macro… and it worked!

Fifth issue: Wayne also uses PowerPoint. On some of the slides he creates, he includes numbered paragraphs. He really wants to have all of the text in these paragraphs lined up together on the left. In other words, all lines should start under the first actual word of the first line, rather than all the way to the left, under (for example) the number “1.”

This was very similar to an issue above. I showed Wayne that all he needed to do was make sure the cursor was on a space in the paragraph, right-click, make sure the “Special” section showed he wanted a “hanging” indent, and then make sure the hanging indent (for the second and following lines) matched the indent of the first line. Done!

Internet Speed Question

Wayne wondered whether it was possible to find out the internet speed he was getting. Absolutely. One easy way to test this is at

Computer Maintenance Questions

Wayne’s computer manufacturer had suggested to him that he have them perform some periodic maintenance tasks on the computer. He wanted to know whether all of the suggestions were really necessary or whether they were just selling him some services he really didn’t need. The latter did indeed appear to be the case for some (not all) of these “maintenance tasks.”

We went over a fairly comprehensive list of possible maintenance tasks, and how often they should be done. When we were finished, I said, “There are a couple of things you may want to do that aren’t on your list.”

I went over backup issues with Wayne (and possible solutions), and also got him a free program that should do a good job of cleaning his computer’s registry from time to time. I often see people using registry-cleaning programs (not to mention antivirus programs) that are “not mainstream” at best, and harmful at worst. It’s best to stick with the mainstream on such software.

In 3-1/2 hours, I covered 13 issues with Wayne, which meant that (in this case) we averaged a total of 16 minutes on each one. Some, of course, were easier than others. All were different from the types of things I did in the office move a few days ago.

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