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Success Stories for the IT Soul

by Norman Dickinson, Computer Guru 
Each of the following stories is true and they all demonstrate the advanced abilities of a real computer guru to solve major problems quickly when under immense pressure. These are just a few of the many successful service calls that have been performed personally by the owner of TQF.US Computer Services, Norm Dickinson, over the years, and they demonstrate a small sample of the many skills and resources that are at your disposal when you call TQF.US Computer Services for help keeping your business running. Enjoy! 
How many paychecks?
Scenario: A payroll company calls up at 8:15 AM to ask for help with their payroll software. It's the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and the deadline for printing the checks is 11 AM, and they can do everything except print checks. The client is an hour away, but they demand immediate attention. Holiday paychecks for over a thousand employees are on the line.
Solution: As it happens, I was on my way to an insurance company right down the street from the payroll company to give a presentation on McAfee anti-virus software and a complete backup solution from Acronis for their Windows 2008 Server R2. So I called the insurance company and let them know I was going to be a little bit late, and headed straight over to the payroll company.
Upon arrival I was greeted by the payroll manager, who presented me with an email from tech support for the payroll software. This email indicated a particular file needed to be updated and I was able to find the file using the link provided by tech support. Upon downloading and installing the file, the problem was solved and paychecks began to print. The last one was finished within minutes of the deadline, but everybody go their Thanksgiving check on time.
The right way and wrong way to mirror a hard drive...
Scenario: A major client is complaining that their server is running a little bit slow during a period of heavy use. Upon inspection, we determined that the mirroring of the two data hard drives is what is causing the speed reduction. The temporary solution is to temporarily break the mirror between the two drives until the data entry has been completed. This is accomplished by simply removing one of the drives from the mirror set and restarting with only one data drive.
Problem: The intense work is completed in a couple of days, but rather than call me back, the "relative expert" on staff decides that he can reconnect the second drive himself, saving about $70 in labor costs for the company. The trouble is he really doesn't know what he's doing or understand the intricate nature of hard drive mirroring, so he just reconnects it and hopes for the best. A few hours go by and the clerks start to complain that data they entered a few minutes ago is disappearing on them, and being replaced by information from a few days ago. I was called in at that point, and I discovered that the system had begun the process of synchronizing the two hard drives, in the wrong direction! The whiz kid that hooked it up didn't bother to specify which drive should be the master and which should be overwritten, so the data was being copied at a high rate of speed in the wrong direction.
Solution: Upon arrival it was obvious that something was making the server hard drives very busy, so I investigated the server log files and error logs until I noticed that the mirroring had restarted earlier in the day. Upon closer inspection, it was obviously still operational and when I opened the Computer Management screen of the Windows Server 2003, it confirmed my suspicions that the out-of-sync hard drive had been reconnected. I immediately shut down the server, and got on the phone with the data recovery experts at Kroll Ontrack Data Recovery.  Within minutes, the professionals had me create a boot device with the proper drivers and startup commands to allow them to connect to the server without running the server's operating system. Over the course of the next two hours, I watched in amazement as the tech support pros recovered the overwritten data and solved the problem, even taking the extra effort to synchronize the mirror before having me remove the boot device and restart the server. Results: A very happy client and a loyal customer who still calls me every time there is a problem, because they are a little bit nervous about letting the new kid work on the server again.
Production cut in half
Scenario: A paper mill produces large rolls of glossy paper for clients around the globe, and they rely on a wide variety of process control and automation equipment to operate their machinery. One of the local paper mills had a problem with the computer which controlled the biwinder system, on which paper gets rewound in the other direction as part of the manufacting process. The plant only ran two biwinders, and having one shut down was costing them big money, as the paper mill was only producing half of the normal output of paper.
Problem: A major, tier-1 manufacturer had installed the equipment several years earlier, and they were immediately called in to solve the problem - at 0 per hour! The problem was in the specialty video card that was required due to the distance between the control room and the equipment. The technician was able to narrow it down, but unable to find a matching part. Over the course of three days, they had parts sent via courier from several locations of up to 300 miles away, with no luck. The bad news: It was the day before Thanksgiving, around 4pm, and the technician was giving up and moving on to another client who needed help. There was nothing left for him to try.
Solution: I was called in at 4pm on the day before Thanksgiving and given a report on the situation. Upon inspection of the equipment I also came to the same conclusion that the video card needed replacing, but I had a distinct edge. Due to the fact that my computer company was a leader in electronic scrap recycling long before it became a fad, I had one of the very same video cards in my pile of recycled computers that I had hauled off from another local paper mill just a few weeks earlier. I was able to locate the necessary card and install it within a few hours time, and had the plant back up to full operation in less than six hours from the initial phone call asking me for help.
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Member of the Androscoggin County
Chamber of Commerce

TQF.US Computer Services owner Norm Dickinson
is on the Board of Directors for the
Norm is a 30-year veteran of the IT world and genuine computer guru, offering local businesses a single point of contact for all of their computer-related needs.  TQF.US is Dell Partner Direct authorized and offers professional sales, support and installation of products from Dell, Microsoft, Intel and other top brands.
TQF.US Computer Services BBB Business Review  
This website can be found at both http://www.tqf.us and http://www.fastfastcomputer.com.