yeah, i have a beard now. try not to look directly at it

No Shave November’s Hearty, Awesome Beard of Beardlyness… and Holiday Hours

By | Poindexter News | No Comments

Fear not! That hirsute, bespectacled nerd knocking on your door is not the rabid mountain hipster he appears to be! It’s just Poindexter struggling to grow a respectable beard for No Shave November. That’s not Magnum PI pulling up for your computer consultation. We totally forgive the confusion! What with the pastel button-up, steely gaze, and various sundry cables and hard drives, Poindexter is a dead ringer for Tom Selleck. We get that.

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poindexter answers your quesitons about the cloud

What is “The Cloud” and why do I need it?

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“The Cloud” is a fancy way of saying that your data is copied somewhere else using the Internet. Your computer calls up another nearby computer, they chat, and work together to make a copy of your stuff. Different companies have trademarked services that do this. Apple uses iCloud, Microsoft uses OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), Google has Google Drive. There’s Drop BoxCarbonite, and countless others, even some based in Baltimore. But they all have that cloud part in common and pretty much work the same way.

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The Best Security Software of 2015

By | Helpful Guide, Tech Alert | No Comments

Best Free Antivirus

Avira Free Antivirus

Although Avira lacks the embellishments of other, prettier antivirus programs, it more than makes up for the sparse interface by being the best free antivirus of 2015. In recent tests, Avira proved to be as effective as most paid for antivirus options, ranking alongside or better than service providers like Norton or McAfee Antivirus. Easy to install, Avira works great on its default settings and can be left to run automatically, protecting your computer without any performance loss or disruptions. Once a threat is found, Avira will notify you and, with your permission, will attempt to quarantine or delete the threat. With Avira’s ever expanding libraries and advanced holistic detection, your computer is in the best possible hands with Avira Free Antivirus.

Best Free Malware Security

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

When fixing computers in the field, Poindexter technicians know what works and what doesn’t – and Malwarebytes works every time. Although every computer needs a competent antivirus installed and running around the clock, no antivirus can protect your computer from every possible threat. Some programs, called PUPs or potentially unwanted programs, still manage to sneak paste even the best protection programs. This is where Malwarebytes truly shines. This free program will effectively remove intrusive malware, potentially unwanted programs, and countless other discrete dangers and annoyances. For Poindexter techs, Malwarebytes has been and will remain an essential part of our emergency tool kit.

Best Free Internet Security

AVG Protection

Although Avira provides the best possible antivirus solution, many clients might benefit from a more comprehensive security solution with extra bells and whistles. For the best all around protection against phishing scams and fraudulent websites, Poindexter recommends AVG Protection. Once installed and configured, AVG will block your favorite internet browsers from loading known malicious websites, protect your computer from the most dangerous transmission vectors and causes of identity theft, as well as keep itself updated and run around the clock without system disruption. Stop internet threats at their sources with AVG’s internet protection.

As a general rule, never run multiple anti-virus programs simultaneously. Be sure to remove any other anti-virus you might have installed, including Avira, if you choose to use AVG instead.

Best Free Secure Internet Browser

Google Chrome

Nearly all viruses, theft, and computer based intrusions are conducted through the internet. It makes sense, then, to have a well developed, feature rich, security centric browser. Although there are numerous browser options, ranging from the incredibly popular Firefox, to the less well known Opera, Poindexter recommends Google Chrome as our browser of choice. With its abundance of available security extensions, including Https Everywhere, regular updates, and easy syncing with Android devices, Google Chrome is the best compromise between features, protection, and usability.


click this link to download our specially configured internet security installer

Send Google Photos to Friends and Family

By | Helpful Guide | No Comments

Google Photo has become a convenient way to upload, caption, edit, and share photos and photo albums to friends and family. In this tutorial I hope to show you how to insert a Google Photo into Google Mail (Gmail) quickly and easily. By the end of this tutorial, you will know how to insert a Google Photo into an email and how to send it.

Check Google Photo

First, let’s confirm that the photos we want to send are available on Google Photo. Visit Google Photo to check.

step one, check google photo

Great! It looks like the photos I want are ready to be emailed to my friends and family. I have already edited and captioned them using Google Photo, so all that is left is to email them so everyone can enjoy.

Open Gmail

If we want to email anything at all, we’ll need to have Google Mail (Gmail) open in our internet browser. Visit Google Mail now. If you have recently logged into Gmail, your email inbox will immediately open, showing you your most recent received emails. If you haven’t logged in lately or ever, login now using your Gmail address and password.

Adding a Google Photo to Gmail, Step 2

Once Gmail has loaded, your screen will looking something like this. If so, great! Let’s proceed. Next, we want to Compose an email, so go ahead and click the Compose button.

Gmail's Compose Button

Once you’ve clicked on the Compose button, a little window will popup in the bottom right corner. This is where we’ll be writing our email, as well as inserting our Google Photos or Google Albums (if we have any, that is).

In the example, I’ve already filled out the recipients and Subject box. If I were to click the blue Send button now, I would be sending only what you see in the email (my signature and logo) to [email protected] with the Subject “Here are some awesome photos!”

Let’s go ahead and get some of those awesome photos added into our email. Towards the bottom of the email window, you should see a tiny button that looks a bit like two stacked photos.

Click the Insert Photo Button

Go ahead and click that Insert Photo button. This will ask Gmail to load your Photos screen. The first thing it will show you are your Google Photos. Notice the PhotosAlbumsUpload, and Web Address (URL) tabs at the top of this new window. Photos has a nice blue line underneath it indicating that it is the one shown. If we wanted to include an Album instead, we would select that. Let’s stay on Photos for now.

Now, select the photos available

Just look at all of those great photos! I can’t wait to share them. Now, let’s select the photos we want to add by clicking each photo one time (left mouse button).

seelected picture will be highlighted in blue

Clicking each photo you want to include will produce a blue checkmark in the corner, as well as highlight that photo with a blue frame. Once you’ve selected each of the photos you’d like to email, click the blue Insert button in the bottom left. If you decide not to email anything and just want to leave, go ahead and it the Cancel button next door.

Once we’ve Inserted our photos into our email, the photo window will vanish, and you’ll see your photos slowly appear inside of your little email window.

click the insert button and gmail will add your photos, in order, into your compose window

Depending on the speed of your internet connection, it might take a moment before your inserted photos are visible. Just sit tight until every photo you want to send show up in your email. Once every photo is accounted for, the last step is to hit the blue Send button in the bottom right corner of your email window. Once your email has sent, your Compose window will close and a notification will appear letting you know everything went alright. Thanks to the magic of the internet, your addressees will begin receiving your photo filled email in no time. Once it arrives, it will look very similar to this.

once you send the photo, it will arrive looking much like this

As you can see, all of my images arrived safe and sound. Inserting images into an email is a great way to send a handful of photos to friends and family. And, because it is sending them a copy of the photo, your recipients can edit, caption, and share those photos as they please without restriction. They can download the photo, magnify it, or post it to Facebook no problem! They can even Insert that photo into an email of their own and send it to whomever they wish. Excellent!

Hopefully this tutorial helped you better understand the basics of sending Google Photos using Google Mail. If you have any questions, concerns, or need personal tutoring or consultation, contact Poindexter today!

when windows crashes, consult this simple guide from poindexter

3 Steps for Stopping Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) Crashes

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If you’re a Windows user, doubtless you’ve encountered the annoying and sometimes fatal Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), forcing your computer to restart, possibly costing you hours of unsaved work.

BSOD is an error screen in Microsoft Windows that shows an obscure, coded error, creates a debug file, then restarts the computer. On occasion, the issue is a minor glitch resulting from corrupted software and a reboot is all that is necessary to resolve the problem or happens infrequently and unpredictably. Other times, the error recurs, sometimes immediately after the computer boots, trapping it in a cycle of booting, BSOD, rebooting, repeat. This nasty problem is a fatal BSOD because it’s doesn’t permit any simple troubleshooting. If your computer is doing this or something like it, call Poindexter immediately for a timely computer repair or data recovery.

This short guide is intended for non-fatal BSOD crashes. If your computer is powering up, loading Windows, then crashing sometime later, this guide is for you. If your computer doesn’t load Windows correctly or won’t permit you to install any software, call Poindexter. If your computer boots successfully, then gets cranky sometime later, try these three tricks for a quick and easy resolution.

Uninstall Unnecessary Software

If your BSOD has only started recently, it’s possible that a newly added program is the culprit. Malware can frequently disrupt your computer in this way, as well as countless other programs that change Windows’ behavior or introduce new files that might make your computer dizzy.

If a program is responsible for your BSOD woes, removing it might remedy your problem in one handsome step. By accessing the Control Panel you can uninstall most programs. How to access the Control Panel varies a bit depending on which version of Windows you have, so we’re going to take a shortcut that works identically on all versions of Windows (Windows 98, XP, etc).

With your keyboard, press the Windows key (one on either side of the space bar) and at the same time press the ‘R’ key. This will open up the Run window, allowing us to tell Windows exactly what program we want to load without going through any messy menus.

In the Run window, type appwiz.cpl and press Enter. This will load the Uninstall Programs wizard, permitting you to safely remove programs you no longer need, recently added, or find suspicious. Leave programs you frequently use alone and look specifically for programs that you don’t recognize, but installed recently. One of these might be the culprit, especially if it is malware. If you’re unsure of what programs are good or not, contact Poindexter for easy computer repair.

Update Windows

Once we’ve removed unnecessary programs, it’s a wise precaution to make sure that Windows Updates have been applied correctly. Unless told otherwise, Windows XP and later will apply its own updates and reboot as needed. Occasionally, though, it will encounter an error or won’t apply optional updates that can resolve computer headaches.

Using the same Run windows (Press Windows key + ‘R’), type in wuapp and press Enter. This will open the Windows Update control panel. Go ahead and check for updates. If updates are found, make sure they’re all selected. Make sure, too, that all Optional updates are selected. At your command, Windows will install updated drivers as well as other inessential, but still valuable programs. Outdated or corrupt drivers can cause a BSOD and this is a simple way of getting all of your critical software running smoothly.

Reboot as needed. If there where many updates pending, prepare for a lengthy boot time. Grab some coffee, be patient, and wait for Windows to finish installing its updates. Rebooting before it has finished its work can cause additional system corruption and make your BSOD problems even nastier.

Run CCleaner

Last, we’ll be using a powerful, but simple tool to safely clean up your Windows PC, CCleaner. Visit  CCleaner’s official website, download, and install the free version. Once installed, it will run automatically after you hit “Finish.”

Ccleaner includes two valuable tools that can help us clean up ailing Windows computers. Selected automatically after you load is the Cleaner tool. Go ahead and click the “Analyze” button, then the “Run Cleaner” button once it has completed its scan. This will clear your browser and system caches (hidden areas where Windows hordes temporary files).

Now, select the “Registry” button on the left. The Registry is where Windows saves much of its essential configuration details. Corruption in the registry can result in unpredictable system behavior, instability, and crashes. Ccleaner can safely backup the registry, as well as clean out junk entries.

Click “Scan for Issues”, wait for the scan to complete, then click “Fix Selected Issues…” When asked to backup changes, select “Yes”, then click “Save” in the Windows that comes up. Now click “Fix All Selected Issues” then “Close” once the repair work has completed.

Hopefully these three steps have resolved your non-fatal BSOD. If after trying the above your Windows PC is still crashing, call Poindexter immediately for emergency computer repair or data recovery services.

Poindexter is Baltimore’s best computer repair service, providing services to residents and businesses throughout the Hampden area. If your computer is crashing or needs professional repairs, call Poindexter for a free consultation and inexpensive solution.

poindexter discusses easy ways for baltimore citizens to speed up their computer or laptiop

Top 3 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

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Okay Baltimore, let’s talk about your slow computer and how to repair it. It’s something we all struggle with from time to time and it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s nothing you did wrong – slow computers happen to everyone. Thankfully, sluggish computer performance is totally fixable, even if the underlying problem is pretty complex. Never forget, you can always call Poindexter if things get hairy. We offer inexpensive computer tune ups for both PC and MAC and love a challenge.

Here are the top three things that can slow down your computer and simple ways to fix them.

Way too many programs are running

By far the most common problem we find on slow computers is the sheer number of programs running simultaneously. It’s normal for a computer user to add and install all sorts of neato programs, but if those programs run too often and aren’t closed properly, they’ll take a chunk out of your performance. Like people, computers have limited attention spans and the more things they have to keep track of, the slower they crawl. Programs aren’t an easy feat and each one requires some amount of brain power (the processor) and memory (the RAM). If there are too many programs running, the processor and RAM can get overloaded, bringing the whole computer to a crawl.

Not all programs tell you they’re running and finding the hidden ones can be tricky, but there’s a good, quick step to try first. In the lower right hand corner of your Windows PC, to the left of the clock, you’ll see a series of little icons. Each icon represents a program running (you might have to click the little arrow to see all of them). Look over each program and decide whether or not it’s worth having. If not, uninstall it or go into its settings and stop it from starting with Windows. If you absolutely must have each program or utility, consider investing in more RAM to free up some working space for your computer.

You Have a Virus or Malware

Viruses and malware are programs that run on your computer and, like any program, malware can gobble up resources. Some malware disguises itself as anti-virus or optimization software. We call these “potentially unwanted programs” and they should be uninstalled immediately. Software promising to update drivers, offer free backups, push you to buy something, or warn your of impending computer doom are almost certainly yuck malware and need to be kicked to the curb. If uninstalling them doesn’t work, consider calling Poindexter for a thorough cleaning. Beware that not all programs announce themselves to Windows and might be running in the background, hidden from view but still using up precious brain power. Some malware is front and center, leaving little doubt that they’re causing problems. Not all malware plays nice and let’s you uninstall it – in fact, some will reinstall themselves and their buddies immediately after you reboot. This can be very frustrating. But take heart! Poindexter can repair your computer.

Malware run amok can eat up memory, disk space, brain power, and make unauthorized changes to Windows and other programs, causing nastier problems than just slow performance. Crashing, weird errors, and other strange behavior all result from untreated infections and need to be dealt with quickly and completely. Uninstalling unwanted programs can free up lots of computer resources, improving stability, boot time, and system speed.

Your Hard Drive Needs a Tune-Up

A hard drive is the permanent storage of your computer; it’s where all files, images, music, movies… everything, gets stored. If you open up a hard drive, you’ll find a polished metal disc and a reading arm, sort of like a phonograph, but way more sensitive. Your data gets saved to this disc as a series of magnetic ones and zeroes. As the disc spins, the reading arm is able to read that code and send it to the processor which puts it all together as that adorable cat picture you saved four years ago and forgot about.

If your hard drive is running low on storage space, Windows can get claustrophobic. Windows loves having lots of elbow room to work – to do its job, Windows needs to make files, unpack stuff, and move stuff around. If there’s too breathing room, Windows can slow down severely or even crash.

Every file on your hard drive gets moved around as new stuff gets added and removed. With regular use, the contents of your hard drive can get disorganized, leaving stuff scattered around, forcing the hard drive and processor to work harder to put everything together correctly. We call this fragmentation and, naturally, defragmenting your hard drive every now and again can improve boot time and performance.

To defragment your computer’s hard drive, just search for defrag using your Start Menu’s search bar. The program “Defragment and Optimize Drives” or something like it will pop up. Select that and follow the instructions as they come up. If you haven’t defragmented in a long time (a year or longer), settle in for a long haul. This might take awhile.

how to replace your unibody macbook pro superdrive with a second hard drive

Macbook Pro Upgrade: Replace your SuperDrive with a Second Hard Drive

By | Apple, Macbook Pro | No Comments

If you’re like me, the DVD drive in your unibody Macbook Pro (mid-2012 model or earlier) is just going to waste. With most software hosting going to the web and file sizes swelling, there’s reduced need for disc based media and increased need for fast, local storage.

In my own Macbook Pro, I replaced the original hard drive with a Samsung 850 Pro SSD (solid state drive) resulting in drastically improved performance, as well as a left over 500 GB Hitachi laptop drive. Although the drive’s performance wasn’t quite to my standards, especially for running OSX Yosemite, it would be great for slower access storage.

We need a way to get this extra hard drive into that unused SuperDrive slot.

Amazon and other online vendors sell a low-cost sleeve or tray that fits around the hard drive and adapts it to the SuperDrive slot. With the right tools and  a steady hand, removing the old disc drive and replacing it with a new hard drive should only take about thirty minutes. For this demonstration, I’ll be using a Macbook Pro mid-2012 model – this was the last series released with a disc drive and without a Retina display.

First, we need to procure the hard drive tray. For this tutorial, I’m using a well reviewed, inexpensive tray from Amazon. As you can see, the tray just adapts the hard drive’s SATA connector to the Macbook’s SuperDrive size, shape, and connection type.

The hard drive tray has four screws for each corner of the drive. Remove each screw, then gently place the hard drive inside the tray. Using a small tip Phillips head screw driver, replace each screw. If the drive is correctly lined up inside the tray, each screw will sink into a hole inside the drive. When done, the drive will feel securely fastened to the tray.

a simple macbook pro drive caddy, uninstalled a simple, exposed macbook pro drive caddy with hard drive installed

Next, we need to remove the bottom plate from our unibody Macbook Pro. The underside of a Macbook Pro uses ten tiny screws to fasten the aluminum plate to the chassis. Carefully remove each screw, and make sure not to apply too much pressure. Although the screws are well made, stripping one can make removal very difficult. Set the screws aside and make note of the three long screws; they’ll need to be replaced in the correct spots along the hinge once we put everything back together.

Now that we’ve got the bottom plate off, behold the inner beauty of your Macbook Pro. With the hinge pointed away from you, the SuperDrive should be to the right, just below the hard drive. You can see my juiced up Samsung 850 Pro in the top right corner and the SuperDrive just below it.

next we remove the bottom plate from our macbook to expose the motherboard and drive tray here we can see the exposed motherboard, fan, and battery in our example Macbook

The SuperDrive is secured by a handful of small screws that are easy to damage. Make sure your screw driver is appropriately sized and has a well defined tip. I’ll be using a PH0 Phillips precision screwdriver for this.

Using your finger tips, gently remove the four attached cable heads and very carefully fold the top and bottom cable away. Do not bend or twist them. We just need to clear a little space to remove the Super Drive and expose the mounting screws.

With your precision screw driver, remove each of the screws shown. Four screws secure the SuperDrive to the case. Just below the SuperDrive are five more screws that hold the speaker and wifi adapter in place. Although we don’t need to remove either the speaker or the wifi, we need to loosen them in order to remove the SuperDrive beneath. Again, make sure to note the location of each screw; they’re of different lengths and must be put back in the right order to avoid damaging your Macbook Pro.

Once all screws are removed and the cables out of the way, you should be able to wiggle the SuperDrive out of its slot, sliding it out from underneath the speaker and wifi adapter. If you feel any resistance, go back and make sure all screws have been removed. Do not force anything.

If you inspect the SuperDrive, you’ll find one short cable attached, along with a mounting arm secured with two screws. Remove each and install them into the corresponding location on the hard drive tray.

Slide the prepared hard drive tray into the vacated space and line up the screws. Replace each mounting screw. Do not over tighten. Position the speaker and wifi adapter and replace those screws as well.

Line up each of the four cables and carefully plug them back in. Gently tuck the wifi adaper cable along the bottom edge of of the drive tray. Apply careful pressure to plug in each cable. They should snap into place easily.

Do a final inspection to make certain all screws are in place, that all cables are plugged in, and everything looks correct. If so, go ahead and replace the bottom plate, making sure to get those lengthy screws back into place along the hinge.

Power your Macbook Pro up and, using Finder, navigate to your new drive and bask in the glory of massive Macbook storage without paying Apple’s hefty asking price.

If you run into trouble or don’t want to risk damaging your Macbook Pro, be sure to call Poindexter for a free consultation and low-cost upgrade.

Available by appointment // 908-991-6373