Tech Talk #15 – Dec 19, 2015

Support scams

When someone who says they are from Microsoft or Google or Yahoo or anybody else calls you on the phone to tell you “your computer is causing problems on the Internet” or some other malarkey, just hang up. People at Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, etc. will NEVER call you about your computer.


If you do get fooled by the scammers (don’t blame yourself, they’re really good at this) they might have you open some programs on your computer and then they will tell you that your computer has problems. At this point they’ll ask if they can connect to your computer to “fix” your computer’s problems. DON’T LET THEM CONNECT TO YOUR COMPUTER.


If you do let them in, they might show you some more things “wrong” on your computer and then ask for money to fix the problems they just “discovered.” DON’T GIVE THEM ANY PAYMENT INFO. The best thing to do now is turn off your computer and hang up. The scammers can’t get back in to your computer unless you let them, and you’re not going to let them in again, are you?


Sometimes, if you can’t get the computer shut down before the scammer realizes you aren’t going to pay them, they might do something to your computer to prevent you from using it, like adding a registry password or worse. They’re trying to get YOU to call THEM back for the password (for a price, naturally) but you’re too smart for that. Usually your computer tech can remove any passwords or anything else the scammers might have installed on your computer, but sometimes we can’t and then the only fix is to back up all your data and reinstall Windows.


Seriously, don’t let anybody access your computer remotely unless you know and trust that person.



Booting up on your PC

I bet you’ve wondered what the heck happens during the time between turning your computer on and when you can finally use it. Or maybe not. I don’t know. But if you have, this is what happens.


When you turn your computer on, the power supply sends power to various parts in your computer. One of these parts is the CPU (central processing unit). Once it ‘sees’ a Power Good signal, the CPU wakes up and resets itself and then looks to a certain address in the ROM BIOS (read only memory basic input/output system) for what to do next. The ROM BIOS runs a POST (power on self test) and checks currently available hardware against the list that’s stored in the CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor). The CMOS is a battery-backed device that stores startup information, like available hardware, when the computer is off. When your system passes the POST, the ROM BIOS looks to the CMOS again for where to boot an OS (operating system) from. On the boot device, the BIOS looks for the MBR (master boot record) which knows where the bootloader is. The bootloader runs and calls the secondary boot loader. In a Windows computer the secondary bootloader is called NTLDR. Once NTLDR initializes, the BIOS copies itself into memory and your OS performs an inventory of the system’s devices and loads the drivers needed to control the peripheral devices, such as a printer, scanner, DVD drive, mouse and keyboard. This is the final stage in the boot process, at last. All of that takes a minute or so, but now you can log in and get some work done.


BONUS INFO: Boot is short for ‘bootstrap load’ and comes from the phrase ‘to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps.’  Now you know.


Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at                                                 

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