GEEKNOTE: "The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts." - variously attributed to both Paul Ehrlich and Aldo Leopold.
Either way, the saying is very true.
When I was a youngster, I used to work on my Lionel trains. I'd often wind up with extra parts, which probably explains why some of them ran better than others. It also explains why I let the professionals work on my automobiles and Carolyn won't let me near any kitchen appliances with a screwdriver.
The same thing goes for computers. Saving the parts is very important.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about beta testing. The key is to save the original configuration files BEFORE starting to tweak things. That way, worst case, I can easily get back to where I started. Beta software is, by definition, broken somehow. The only question is how badly broken. Being able to roll back to a previous stable condition is critical.
One of my business customers very carefully documented all the various logins and passwords for different computers and accounts. Unfortunately, they didn't keep the list current and a key employee was replaced last week. I now know how to hack a Mac and I got to spend some quality time with GoDaddy seizing control of the customer's domain name so we could get their website and email back up. I'm sure we'll have more to do this week. This sort of information needs to be kept under lock and key, but it DOES need to be kept and kept current.
Another customer replaced their very fancy firewall and the folks they brought in to do the upgrade didn't record all the pass-throughs on the old firewall before they replaced it. Again, some basic network documentation would have made life a lot easier.
If you aren't comfortable trying to document your network, your friendly computer geek can help.
This isn't just for companies either. I have lost track of the number of folks who have had to recreate their email client, either because they lost data on their old computer or they bought a new one. Knowing the login/password combination for your email info makes this a snap. With a little work, you can get the info from Verizon or Brighthouse. Heaven help you though if you have a free web mailbox (gmail, Yahoo, etc.) and never wrote anything down. The same goes for your router, even if you got it "free" from Verizon or Brighthouse.
Don't write this stuff on a sticky note and slap it on the side of your computer. Use Word or Notepad and type it up, print it out, and put it with your other important papers.
Needless to say, you should ALSO have backups of all of your important files (documents, pictures, etc), preferably off-site.
In between dealing with various computer disasters last week, I also found time to attend several Business Development Week sessions, and I may actually be getting the hang of "Twitter"...this after a couple of years of just not quite getting it. My twitter id is @robmarlowe and you are welcome to follow me and see how well I manage to use it. Special thanks to @missdestructo, @Antony511, and @jasonlongo for helping to drag me screaming and kickingn into a new world.
One of the other classes taught us how to get press releases published. I plan to use this information this coming week to announce a new hire, hopefully the first of several as we expand to meet the needs of our customers.
I also set up a new Wordpress based website last week and picked up a whole bunch of "themes" to play with. I'll give all of you a full report once I've had a little more time to work with it.
As always, feel free to drop me a note or give me a call if you have any questions about your computer or the Internet.
Rob Marlowe, Senior Geek, Gulfcoast Networking, Inc.
(Rob also serves as deputy mayor of the City of New Port Richey. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the city.)