About David Irwin

I have been in the IT Industry for over 20 years. My computer experience goes back to the early 80's, when most people didn't know what a computer was! I ran a successful computer bulletin board system in Maryland, long before there was any such thing as the Internet. I turned my desktop work into a career that lead into servers, networking, and infrastructure support.

E-Mail Clients

Some of you may find this useful. This is my experience with email clients.

I was never a big fan of clients. I preferred to use the web-mail version, as there was less to get in the way, no configuration, no special software, just a web browser.

Most of my customers, however, prefer to use a client. Outlook is by far the most popular that I support. Of course Outlook is also quite expensive. Thunderbird is the undisputed king of the free clients, so I decided to give it a try. I immediately found it extremely useful to have my personal and business mail in one place. If you have only one email account, I would still recommend using the web version.

I quickly ran into trouble with Thunderbird though. The program is a memory hog, and it’s quite slow. Sure it provides just about everything Outlook has, and many features Outlook does not. It can be used in a corporate environment just as Outlook. But all those features come at the expense of performance. My primary laptop is a small, under-powered, Netbook running Windows 8.1. With a little care, this runs very well, but Thunderbird brought it to it’s knees. I’m also a big user of Google Apps. I use these for my business, and use their calendar to schedule all my appointments. I also share the calendar with my wife so she can see where I am, add appointments for me, and schedule personal appointments where I need to be available. Thunderbird supports the Google Calendar, but it’s nothing more than a new tab with the calendar web page. At first I liked that, but every time I would start Thunderbird and open the calendar, I would have to sign in again. That was a pain.

I was offered a deal from Microsoft for Office 2013 running on up to five computers, with up to five users in the same household, for $10 a month. Libre Office is great, and it’s free, with a solid 99% compatibility with current Office formats. But it’s not completely 100% compatible with formatting such as indented text. Office 2013 gives me the same Office standard used pretty much everywhere. (I should note, however, than many corporations are switching to Libre Office because it saves so much money.)

Now that I have the latest Office, that includes the latest version of Outlook. The first problem I found was after fully configuring Outlook on one computer did not mean installing on another saved my settings. Each computer I use had to be manually configured. Microsoft also has a web version, but that too needs to be separately configured. Next, I found that Outlook does not support Google Apps. There are many applications to “sync” Google Apps with Outlook, but they don’t always work as expected. One app would simply copy items from Google to Outlook. Changes made in Outlook would not sync back to Google. I found Google makes their own sync app, but it’s only available for paid Google Apps users. I am a paid user, so no problem there. Next, I discovered recently added contacts to Google were not immediately synced to Outlook. I have software that captures business cards and syncs the cards with Google. Another app scans email and offers to add the contacts to Google. However, when I attempted to send an email to someone, I found that their information had not yet been imported to Outlook. I tried to re-sync, exit Outlook, and sync again, but my newest contacts were still not available!

I continued searching for other sync apps and came across eM Client. Well, this is not any type of sync app at all, but rather another client similar to Thunderbird or Outlook. My first thought was, “that’s not what I’m looking for!” Not so fast… It turns out eM Client was actually EXACTLY what I needed! The client is small, fast and clean. The interface is uncluttered. It fully, AND PROPERLY, integrates all Google Apps. It does everything I need, and not too much more. It will connect to an Exchange server in a corporate environment, but does not support LDAP for Single Sign-On Active Directory support. This is not a feature I need anyway. This means even on my little Netbook the app is very fast.

eM Client is not exactly free. The free version is for home use only, and supports a maximum of two accounts. For most users, that’s sufficient. The Pro version supports unlimited accounts and is licensed for business use. The cost for the Pro version is $49.95 for one computer with a lifetime license. Discounts are applied for multiple computers. Example: Three computers are $26.95 each totaling $79.95. That does not include upgrades to newer versions though. A lifetime license is available for $30 more per PC, or $129.90 for 3 computers. That’s still much less expensive than Outlook. You get most of the features of Outlook, plus many features not included in Outlook, like Google integration. The software will automatically import from Outlook. It’s small, fast, and stable. eM Client is my new favorite email client.

Next, I decided to see what others were saying, so I searched for reviews. Most everyone agrees with me that this is better than Thunderbird and/or Outlook. One site picked Thunderbird as the favorite, but nearly every comment to the site disagreed. The one comment that agreed did not indicate that he/she ever tried eM Client, but rather was just a fan of Thunderbird. That’s fine. If you like it, and it works for you, that’s great. There’s no doubt Thunderbird has a huge following. They’ve been around for years, it’s developed by Mozilla, and is a solid program. My experience, as with many others, is that it has developed too much feature creep over the years, and is simply too slow.

I should also note that the developers of eM Client have no idea I am writing this review. I am not expecting any form of compensation for this. I am merely stating my experiences so that my readers who have experienced the same troubles I’ve had now have a great alternative.

Check it out for yourself at http://emclient.com


FBI MoneyPak Virus Alert

We have seen some new versions of the FBI MoneyPak virus. The latest versions are requesting three to five hundred dollars. There is nothing you can do to remove this yourself unless you have another user ID you can log in to. If you see this warning when you attempt to log in, shut your computer off immediately and contact a professional. The virus will automatically install other viruses, which are extremely difficult to remove, and will attempt to steal your identity.
We have the tools and experience to remove this. If you know of anyone hit with this, please refer them to us, Irwin Electronics 480-382-4761

Posted in BNI

Magazine Article Interview

I received a set of interview questions for an upcoming magazine article, so I thought I’d share them here:

Questions About the Industry


How did you get started with your business? What made you decide to be a part of your industry?


I started working on computers as a hobby in 1980. I had a Radio Shack Color Computer. I attended R.E.T.S Electronics school on weekends while I was still in High School where I was studying electronic engineering. I worked my way through High School repairing Radios and Televisions. I also became a licensed Amateur Radio operator, and repaired HAM radios. I used my electronics knowledge to extensively modify my little Co-Co to do things Radio Shack never imagined! I had 64K of memory when it only supported 16K. I had dual external floppy drives, when it only supported a cassette deck. I tapped into the video out to create a composite video connection to a real monochrome monitor when Radio Shack connected to a TV. I was running a parallel printer through the serial port, and a real modem through the  parallel port. I was able to tie all this together and run the second most popular BBS in the state or Maryland.

In 1990 I was able to turn my hobby into a career at American Express, supporting all the desktops in their Establishment Services division. Then when they decided to migrate from mainframe to a server based architecture, they sent me to school to learn Novell. Later they decided to install Windows based servers and sent me to school again to earn my M.C.S.E.

I spent the last 20 years supporting thousands of Enterprise Servers for some of the biggest names in the world. But I really love the desktop and end user support. As my career advanced, I found myself working solely in the background with no recognition. I also found myself being out-tasked to various contracting agencies as corporations decided to out-task their IT support. The last time I got laid off, I made the decision to incorporate my old radio and television repair company into Computer Repair. Even that has morphed a little over the past year to focus on residential support, my true passion.


Which aspect of your industry interests you most?


I covered my passion for helping people in the last question. Computers are still my hobby, and I am extremely fortunate to be able to make them my career. I am interested in many aspects from both a hardware and software standpoint. I have become an expert at Virus Removal, in addition to my extensive Windows training and knowledge. I have a unique ability to tune Windows and really speed up most any computer. This helps me save people money as their old computers will continue to serve their needs without spending a fortune on new equipment.


What are you doing to keep up with the constant changes in your industry?


READ. I read computer magazines. I read advertising catalogs. I search the web for topics of interest. And in my downtime, I still “play” with my computers. I test new software, I read reviews, and I’m not afraid to break things. It is through constant break and repair that I learn how things work, what works, and what doesn’t.


What future do you envision for the industry you belong in?


People will always have computers, and they depend on them more and more. The hardware may change, but the basics remain pretty much the same. I see the industry moving more toward tablets and cellphones, but hopefully not completely within the next 10 years. As long as there is still an interest in keeping the old dinosaur desktops and laptops running, I will be here to help.


If there are changes you can do with your industry, what would it be and why?


I hope to help people realize that desktops and laptops still perform better for web surfing, and creating content. I also believe that for most of this, you do not need a lot of power. In the future, this will certainly change, and I will need to adapt. I know that in today’s economy people do not have the money to spend on the latest and greatest gadgets, and those that do still go back to their trusty computers for the tasks in which they excel. I hope to help keep the Personal Computer alive and well for years to come.


Any notable experiences/success stories that reinforced your interest in the industry?


As a child I was always interested in electronics. I had electronic project kits, where I could build literally hundreds of projects with the included diagrams. I found that I could combine the kits, and create my own projects. This sparked my interest in electronic engineering, and eventually computers. I’ve been doing this stuff for more than FORTY years, and I still love it.


Questions About Business


What sets your business apart from others?


First of all, I have more experience, training, and certifications than most anyone. As I said, I’ve been doing this literally my whole life. I am not looking to get rich doing this. Sure, I could charge a fortune for my services, but how is that really helping people? Deep down, I’m much more of a people person than most people in this industry. I am a Christian, and I believe that I have been granted this gift not for myself, but to help my community.

I also don’t believe you must subscribe to monthly service. Sure everyone, including myself, will tell you there are tasks that must be run regularly to keep your computer working properly. If you think about it, it’s a computer. It can schedule and run tasks on it’s own. That’s what computers do! I schedule these tasks, so you don’t need to pay me, or anyone else, every month for service. I’m confident that when you see how well everything works when I’m done, you will call me if/when you ever do have another problem. I’m sure that you will gladly refer me to your friends and neighbors. It is my hope, that I will continue to expand on this new business enough to keep this company running for years to come.


What is the purpose of your business?


In the broadest term, computer repair. But I do so much more, for so much less, because I believe it’s the right thing to do.


What can clients expect from you in the coming months? The following year?


I continue to learn new tricks every day. I have an interest in VOIP, and can use my experience there to help people save money. I continue to add new services, and will continue to adopt new technologies. As customers find new problems with both old, and new, technologies, I will continue to find solutions.


What aspects of your business do you want to improve? Why?


I am still, and likely always will be, building my business. I need to continue to attract new customers. I need to continue to stay abreast of changes in the industry. I need to continue to expand my knowledge and experience. If I fail in any one of these, my business will fail.


Who or what inspires your business?


I guess myself more than anything, or anyone, else. It is my hobby and my passion.


What is the most important aspect of your business?


The most important aspect of my business is helping people. Everyone has a computer, and everyone has problems. No one wants to spend money where they don’t need to. The majority of my customers are unemployed, retired, or living on a fixed income. I understand that. I sympathize with them. I’ve been there myself, more than once! I’m just glad I can help.


Describe your company in one word.


There are so many “one words” to describe Irwin Electronics. Trustworthy, helpful, ingenuity, and competitive all come to mind. Take your pick.


Questions About Products/Services


What is your latest product/service? Kindly explain and elaborate.


Our newest product is our Dell D630 refurbished laptops. Members of my family needed new laptops for work and school, but they did not have a lot of money to spend. They asked me for help, and this is what I found. When I received the first one, I discovered the refurbishing companies idea of refurbish was simply a new battery, power supply, and clean install of Windows 7. That’s a great start, but many things didn’t work. I could not scroll with the touchpad because the drivers were not installed. I could not see the volume level on the screen because the Dell Quickset application was not installed. The BIOS was out of date. There was no productivity software installed, not to mention anti-virus, flash player, and pdf viewer, etc. Also the laptops were a little light on RAM. Memory is cheap, and it is the most cost effective upgrade you can make. When I was done with it, my family absolutely LOVED it. They requested another for another family member, and yet another after that. A friend of mine said, “you could sell these things.” So here they are!


How did you choose the products/services you offer?


Need vs. Skills vs. Interest. Is there a need for tablet repair? Sure, but I don’t have the skills. I have an interest, and the knowledge, but I struggle with the tiny connectors. My hands are not as steady as they used to be. Carpet cleaning is in high demand too. I have the basic skills, but not the interest.


What product/service you are currently developing/plan to offer soon?


We’ve had really good luck with our VOIP solution for our phone system. The need is there, and I’m certainly interested, and excited, about it. The hardware can be purchased for $50, but the setup is cumbersome at best. Once everything is configured, your phone service can be completely free with a few exceptions. What to charge for the service and what are people willing to pay remains to be determined.

I also have a solution to the biggest complaint with Windows 8, the lack of the Start button on the desktop, and the need to go through the Metro interface to get to the classic desktop. I expect this service to really take off as more people migrate.


What makes your products special?


The service is what makes our products special. In fact, we sell our products at cost!


How does your product/service impact your clients?


We never sell anything our customers don’t need, and why would we if we sell at cost? We get terrific prices on the products we do sell, and this helps our customers save money. Our service is to identify and correct the problems our customers are experiencing with their computers.


How does your product/service make a difference in the world?


We exceed the needs of our customers. We include additional services at no charge to help protect them from the dangers lurking on the Internet. I’m not sure if this makes a difference in the world, but it sure makes a difference to my customers!


What value do you deliver to your clients through your products/services?


First, we shop the competition, and keep our prices competitive. Let’s look at Virus Removal for more detail. Most companies offer a tiered approach to virus removal. The starting service is usually $100 and offers no guarantee. They will attempt to clean the virus, but if Windows is damaged you’re out of luck. You can get your computer back as is, or pay an additional $250 for a re-image. Or you can opt for the $250 charge first which is guaranteed because they will reformat the hard drive and reload Windows from scratch. I understand Staples will do this for $50, but all they do is load Windows, or restore to factory defaults. They do not backup/restore your data.

I work a little differently. The initial charge is the same $100. If that works, great. If Windows is damaged, I will make every attempt to repair it. If I am unable to do so, I will contact the customer and let them know before proceeding to the second level. That is $240, but I do not add the $100 for the first attempt. With the increased charge, I make a backup of the entire hard drive as is, and will restore all the customer’s documents, pictures, and music upon completion.

Also, regardless of the total cost involved, I will ensure that all Windows Updates have been applied. I will verify their anti-virus software is functioning, and that they have a quality product. If they do not, I include anti-virus software at no additional charge. I also include a Windows Tune-up which stops the unnecessary services, hides the computer on the network, and disables the administrative shares. This further increases the security, and stability, of Windows while also speeding up the computer. I include all necessary software to fully utilize the computer, such as Adobe Flash Player, a PDF viewer, and an Office Suite or Microsoft Office.

I also make a compressed image of the drive when all the work is done, and store that to a hidden partition so the computer can easily be recovered to it’s fully tuned state at any time in the future. As you can see, I keep my prices competitive with the independent repair shops, but add a lot of additional services at no extra charge.

Why “I” Do What I Do, by David Irwin

I have been working on computers for over 30 years as a hobby, and professionally. My ability to tune personal computers is what landed me a job in the Information Technologies department at American Express, where I worked for 12 years. As my career progressed, I moved away from the end user/desktop support into servers. My last job was supporting about three thousand servers for a local bank. It was myself and one other guy working all night from 6 PM to 6 AM. We worked very hard, it was extremely busy at times, and very high pressure. For all this work, there was absolutely no positive recognition. Management believed that you were expected to “do your job, and do it well.” When someone went above and beyond, there was no “great job”. That was simply as expected. When the users came to work in the morning, they simply expected everything to be up and running, as they should. They really had no idea how much work we were performing all night to make sure that was the case. When I worked on desktops, I was everyone’s best friend. I was automatically invited to every potluck. Everyone knew me and loved me. I’ve been told I’m unlike any other IT guy they ever knew. Some people called me Professor, because of my advanced computer training and knowledge. Others have said I’m more personable and friendly than any other IT guy. I really miss that. I love helping people. I guess I’m much more of a people person than I realized. I enjoy giving personal service to my customers. Every customer becomes a friend. I’m not going to get rich doing this job, and that’s not my goal. I believe in outstanding customer service with very low prices. I believe in giving my customers options based on expert recommendations. I guarantee that I can make virtually any Windows-based computer run better than it did the day you bought it. The cost to do that varies; based on the problem of course, and is not always advisable. There are many times I have to turn work down because the cost to repair would not be justifiable. I hate to do that! I have had customers tell me they appreciate my honesty. In most cases however, I will do everything possible to keep the cost to you as low as I can. I personally guarantee you will be extremely happy with my work. I DO take it personally! If there is ever something you’re not happy with, please tell me so I can make it right. I started this company on the principles of honest, reliable, expert service at reasonable prices. That’s my passion and my promise!

Data Destruction Part 2:

The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has since revised the DoD 5220.22M guidelines with NIST 800-88. The new standard basically states that a single pass overwrite is just as effective as 3 passes. We at Irwin Electronics agree with this to a point, but still prefer a 4 pass overwrite. We want to expand upon some myths, and truths, you should be aware of when selecting a company to ensure your data is safe when discarding, selling, or donating your used equipment. For all practical purposes, yes, a single pass overwrite does ensure that your data cannot be recovered via software alone. In our previous issue, we gave the scenario of the skier going down the slope as it applies to the head floating above the platters of the hard drive. The process of recovering extraneous data requires physically dismantling the drive an examining the platters with highly specialized equipment. This is a very expensive, time consuming, and inaccurate technology. To date, this process has never been used, or proven successful, in the private sector. For that reason alone the single pass method holds true. Our belief is that it’s worth a little extra time to perform the additional passes for the additional security offered since it requires only computer time. A technician does not need to monitor each pass, or restart the process following each pass. The software does that automatically. The NIST guidelines also suggest that the overwrites be human verified on a minimum sample of at least 20%. The tool we use verifies the data on each sector as it’s written, and includes the results on the report generated. We have tested our tool, and confirmed it does exactly as it states. We also verify this on every drive we wipe. The NIST guidelines state that the technician must be qualified in the field of data recovery. Our founder, Mr. Irwin, is considered by many to be a pioneer in the field of data forensics. He was personally trained by Michael Anderson, who is the true founder of this technology. Mr. Irwin was also personally trained by Shawn McCreight, the author of the now standard EnCase software. He personally had a hand in making EnCase what it is today. He has years of experience as a Data Forensics expert, and is even trained as an Expert Witness in a court of law. There is no doubt that our founder is fully trained, qualified, and certified to perform these tests.

We’ve all heard the news reports of sensitive data being recovered from discarded computers. It is important to note that in each of these cases there is no evidence that the drives in question had undergone any attempt to remove the data. No recovery tools were used in the process of recovering this data. In each case, the drives were simply connected and powered. All data, including the operating system, was intact. You can rest assured that this will not happen to you if we are responsible for destroying your data. We go above and beyond for all our customers. It’s almost unheard of to find a company with this level of expertise that caters to residential users and small businesses.

Wipe Your Hard Drive!

Did you know that deleting your files does not remove the data? When you delete a file, Windows clears a flag to show that space on the hard drive is available for new data, but it does not delete any of the data. There are many tools freely available to recover deleted files. Even if you delete your files and reformat your drive, it only clears the directory structure. The data areas of the drive are not affected. If you throw away an old computer without using a special program to wipe, or overwrite, the data, anyone can easily recover all your files. Think about it… Your financial data, private photos, business documents, everything could end up in the hands of a thief looking to steal your identity! There are many tools available to overwrite the data areas, known as sectors, of your hard drive. The US Government Department of Defense has two standards for wiping data, depending on the security level of the data contained on the drive. These standards overwrite the data three or four times. Other countries and various security experts recommend overwriting as many as 35 times! You may be asking, why so many? After all, if you replace “financial” with “000000000”, wouldn’t that mean your data is gone? Not necessarily. As far as the average thief is concerned, yes, the data has been removed. However, if you use special tools to review the data on the platters of the drive itself, you would find much of your old data remaining in the areas to the side of each sector? Why does that happen? The platters of your drive are spinning at 5,200 or more revolutions per minute. The read/write heads are floating over the surface of the platters on a cushion of air. The heads tend to wobble a little as they float. To give you an illustration, imagine this: A group of people are ready to ski down a mountain. Just before they hit the slope, they each had a few drinks. Now the object is for each successive person the ski directly in the tracks of the person before them! As you can imagine, there would be many sets of tracks all over that run. Well, the data stored in the sectors of your hard drive would look just like those tracks on the slope. The most recent track the most visible and this is what your hard drive would display, but to the sides of each sector are all the other tracks the heads have taken, which all include pieces of your data. Therefore, the object of multiple passes is to ensure all visible tracks contain only garbage data. No matter how many passes you choose, and what data to write, it is important to overwrite every sector at least once to keep your data safe from prying eyes. What if your computer is broken? That does not necessarily mean the hard drive is dead. Even if it is, the platters could be removed and inserted into a new drive motor/head assembly. Again, this is something far beyond the resources of your average thief, but if the data is NOT overwritten AT LEAST once, anyone can easily recover the data. You can do this yourself by downloading a copy of Darik’s Boot and Nuke from www.dban.org. Keep in mind however, depending on the speed of your computer, the size of your hard drive, and the wipe option you select, this process could take days or weeks! At Irwin Electronics, we have professional grade tools that cut this time down to hours, and we can give you a certificate of data destruction. We can also recycle your drive. We charge only $40 for the first drive, and $10 for each additional drive. This includes wiping to the US Government Department of Defense DoD5220.22M standard. This is a four pass standard. For the truly cautious, we offer additional standards up to Peter Gutmann’s Method (35 passes) for an additional $20. Before you throw out that old computer, be sure to call us at 480-382-4761 to make sure your data does not fall into the wrong hands!

Posted in BNI

5 Reasons why you should NEVER fix a computer for free:

I don’t usually re post articles here, but I came across this on Experts Exchange, and couldn’t resist. I did include the author and a link to the original article.

  • DrDamnit
  • http://www.experts-exchange.com/ITPro/Consulting/A_2111-WARNING-5-Reasons-why-you-should-NEVER-fix-a-computer-for-free.html
  • Posted on2009-12-16 at 00:21:44

It is in our nature to love the puzzle. We are obsessed. The lot of us. We love puzzles. We love the challenge. We thrive on finding the answer. We hate disarray. It bothers us deep in our soul.

We love the accolades. We love to be seen as the digital white knight who fixed the server, the computer, the email, and anything else that life depends on.

We love it so much, we sometimes make horrible decisions. Sometimes, we work “FOR FREE.”

We’ve all done it. A friend, a neighbor, a relative, a good client, a bad client, a pretty girl… Whoever it was, and for whatever reason, we all threw them a technological bone and fixed something for free. In rare instances, it can be a rewarding experience. Perhaps your buddy gave you a beer. Maybe someone said thank you. Maybe there was a smile on their face, and that was rewarding enough.

More likely, however, that five minute task you thought you were signing up for turned into 40 minutes, then an hour, then a commitment. Wow. You didn’t see that coming.

There are 5 reasons you should ALWAYS hand out a bill.


You Break it You Bought it.
When you sit down to fix a problem that presented as a simple one you are creating a contract. Not a legal contract, but a social one. The computer owner is trusting their computer with you. It’s their baby, and you’re the doctor. So you sit down, and begin to fix a problem.

In the process, something else breaks. You fixed one thing, but something else goes awry. What’s the best part? Neither you nor the user notice it is broken until a day later when they call you to blame you for breaking something else.

“I thought you were going to fix it.” They complain.

This is the primary reason you charge money to fix something. You break it, you bought it. The user / owner will expect you to warranty your service even though THEY received all the value of your time, and you received nothing in exchange.



People don’t respect things that are free.
I learned that quote from a man who runs a non-profit organization. Image that. A man who solicits donations for a living candidly told me “people don’t respect things that are free.” You know what? He’s right.

Free advice. Free upgrade. Free entry. None are valued. Free advice is seldom wanted. Free upgrade was something you were going to get anyway. Free entry? The band playing tonight must not be any good.

People associate the value of service with the amount of money that is exchanged for it. How else do you think that lawyer can get away with charging $400 an hour? People naturally make the assumption that if it costs an arm and a leg, then it must be worth it.

So, if customers and friends will assume that the most expensive car is the best one, what will they assume of the free car? Do you want the heart surgeon who charges $500,000 per surgery or the one who works for beer to operate on your mother?



They will expect it forever.
In law, the concept of a precedent is vitally important. Judges and lawyers look to previous cases to decide what the interpretation of the law was because if a case was settled one way before, chances are, it will be settled that way again.

Gamblers playing craps look at the past behavior of the dice to, mistakenly, assume that the good luck will continue.

Users will figure if you fixed it once for free, you’ll do it forever for free. There is no reason why they should respect the thousands of hours you have spent learning and researching the art of computer science. There is no reason that they should respect the certifications you hold. There is no reason that they should honor your abilities by paying your fees. Why? Because you did it for free. Once!

When they come back and you try to get fees, they will meet you with resistance in the form of guilt. “I thought we were friends” they cry. “You didn’t charge me anything last time.” They argue.

Setup the expectation that they are going to pay (or barter) from the onset. Demand the respect that you deserve. Make sure they understand you are a professional. After all, that is the difference between a professional and an amateur. Professionals get compensated for their skills.



The demands will only grow with time.
Give them an inch, and they will take you through three operating system upgrades, two virus infections, and a crashed hard drive. Once you’ve set the precedent and created the expectation that you are their knight in shining armor, they will begin to call you for everything. They will suck up your time and resources. They will not be grateful. They will involve you in 30 minute hypothetical conversations then disagree with your expertise.



It Weakens Your Backbone
Working for free is not only unprofitable, it weakens your constitution as a professional consultant. For many consultants, asking for money is difficult. They email out a silent invoice after the fact and hope they get paid. This practice can lead to unbalanced books, debt, and a going out of business sign. The simple fact is: if you don’t ask for your money, you’re not going to get paid. No one just hands out checks.

Setting up the expectation, especially when you fix a computer for the first time for a client, is vitally important in establishing boundaries that ensure you are paid in a timely fashion. Working for free, throwing out freebies, “comp”-ing your time hurts your ability to ask for the sale. It hurts your credibility because the client will assume that if you’re not charging them for a given task, you didn’t know what you were doing or you made mistakes.

It may give you butterflies, but ask for the money. Do it openly and notoriously. Your clients will take it as a sign of confidence.

TV Show Q and A

We just gave a little Question and Answer session for an upcoming television interview and thought we’d share it with you!

See the video here! – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3emL753Li68

Q: Why is anti-virus software important?

A: Kaspersky Labs reports that they process 125,000 new malware samples every day. Viruses can be installed by simply clicking a link on a website. Once infected, they can take control of your computer, log your ID’s and Passwords to steal your identity, erase your files, use your computer as an attacker to take down websites, or even kill your computer!


Q: How difficult is it to tell if you are infected?

A: You may not notice anything at all! The most common symptoms are a slow computer, pop-up ads, or no Internet access. However, if it’s your bank account they’re after, you may not see anything. Some viruses actually install themselves as part of the operating system itself so they can hide their files and registry entries. They also block any attempt to remove them, and can even disable your antivirus software.


Q: Isn’t antivirus software expensive? And how do I know what’s the best one?

A: The second half of that is a great question. Yes, there are hundreds of antivirus programs available in all price ranges. Only a handful are actually GOOD! There are independent labs that test antivirus software and assign ratings. What’s best for you is really determined by your need. At Irwin Electronics, this is a major part of our business. Everyone will be affected by a virus or malware at some point, even if you’re protected! We read the reviews regularly to stay abreast of what’s best. If you’re a home user, there are several FREE options that are very good, provided they’re properly installed and configured!


Q: Do you have any specials?

A: Of course! We are always running specials and discounts, on top of our low rates! We offer free diagnostics, and are running a special for your residential viewers- a free antivirus install! We will evaluate your current software, and if necessary, uninstall it, install new software, and configure it- all at no charge.


Q: Why would you do all that for free?

A: We want to earn your business. We know that you will be extremely satisfied with our work, and the next time you have any computer problems, we will be the first company you call. At this point nearly all of our business comes from referrals. We want to make sure you’re satisfied, so you will tell your friends and family what a great job we did.


Q: Is antivirus all you do?

A: Not at all. It is the most prevalent problem, so we have become experts at it! We also handle upgrades, hardware/software installs, and peripheral support. If you need a new router, or want to connect several computers to the Internet, we can help! Our motto is, “We make old computers run like new!” We have special software to tune up your computer. For example, many people are still running Windows XP. Did you know that Windows XP was made for 512 MB of RAM? Most people have much more memory installed in their computers now, but XP does not tune itself to fully utilize it! We can do that for you.


Q: Do you sell computers and peripherals?

A: Sort of. We do not stock equipment for sale, but we do have accounts with multiple distributors. We need these to replace faulty components, like bad memory chips and hard drives. We can utilize that buying power to get GREAT deals on new equipment! If you’re in the market for something new, it wouldn’t hurt to call us and see what we can offer.

I’ll give you another example: One of our previous customers called to have us install a new router. He was having Internet trouble, and Cox determined it was a bad router. He purchased a new one at Best Buy for about $200. I told him to take it back! I could get a new one that does everything his $200 router does for $50, and with a $75 install fee, he’d still be saving money. On that same phone call, I walked him through a few simple tests that proved his router was NOT the problem. I’m not sure why Cox didn’t do that, but we were able to determine the problem was on their end. He called Cox back and explained what he did. They agreed and found the problem was indeed on their end. They were able to resolve the issue, and it didn’t cost him anything. This was covered in our free diagnostics, so it never hurts to call us first. (As a show of his gratitude, he did buy me lunch, that works!)

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I’ve been doing professionally for about 23 years, and as a hobby for nearly 30! I’m not a young guy just out of school. I’ve seen and done just about everything with computers. I’m confident I can answer all your questions. I am a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. I also hold certifications from Novell and CompTia A+. I’m even an experienced Computer Forensic Examiner. I’ve worked for Fortune 100 companies like American Express, IBM, and Genworth Financial. I am a true, seasoned professional, and I love to share my experiences and knowledge.

You can reach us by phone at (480) 382-4796 Monday through Friday 9 AM to 7:30 PM, Saturday 10 AM to 2 PM, and Sunday Noon to 7:30 PM Mountain Standard Time.

10 Minute Presentation

This text was taken from a slideshow presentation I created for my BNI group:

I’m going to talk about one thing I specialize in:

Virus Removal

This is by far the most common and prevalent problem

This will affect everyone at some point, even if you’re protected!

First: Some Statistics

Eugene Kaspersky of Kaspersky Labs reports they successfully process 125,000 samples of new malware per day.

That’s up from 70,000 last year,

and 35,000 the year before

Some are benign, and do nothing but replicate themselves

Many Steal Passwords

As you log on to your banking site, your ID and Password are transmitted to a server the author can access

Others are used as bots in DDOS attacks

DDOS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. Typically this means he who has the most bandwidth wins.

Let’s say for example an attacker wants to take down Bank of America. B of A has multiple data centers, geographically located, and a LOT of bandwidth.

However, when you add tens of thousands or more computers with broadband connectivity, and instruct each of them to simultaneously blast Bank of America with malformed garbage inquiries, they don’t stand much of a chance. Your request to access your statement will be lost in a mix of garbage, and the site will effectively be down!

Some of today’s viruses are very high tech, elusive, and nearly impossible to remove.

Many use root-kit technology, which means they install themselves as a part of the Windows operating system itself and are fully activated before Windows even boots!

They are able to hide their registry entries and their files, so searching within Windows shows nothing out of the ordinary.

As they are activated before Windows starts, and are in fact “running” programs, they are able to detect and prevent access, even by Anti-virus software.

Some viruses completely delete the files and registry entries for essential Windows services. They will first remove Windows Defender, the Windows Firewall, and Windows Update services. This leaves you wide open, and vulnerable to additional attacks.

I use special Boot  CD’s, which boot a self contained Linux and/or Windows Portable Edition Operating System from the CD. They do not involve the hard drive, and as such do not start the viruses themselves.

This special Operating System runs completely from the CD and your computer’s RAM memory, NOT THE HARD DRIVE!

Once this special Operating System is loaded, it can then:

READ your hard drive with an Anti-virus program,

identify the files and registry entries, which are not hidden because the virus is not actively running to hide them,

and completely remove them!

It may, however, be too late as the damage to Windows may already be done.

I can usually find the files and registry entries for most of the Windows services

Windows itself can recover many missing files

But other related registry entries that are missing or damaged may be nearly impossible to identify

If the damage has been done, you may need to:

Revert to the factory installed image

Reload Windows from scratch

Upgrade to the latest version of Windows

Purchase a new computer

If disaster has struck, first:

Don’t take matters into your own hands!

If you have not overwritten your hard drive with a reload, I can save your data

If you’ve already reformatted your hard drive:

I “MAY” still be able to recover some of the data!

Protect Yourself BEFORE It’s Too Late!

You should check REGULARLY to ensure your Anti-virus program is Active, and Up-to-date

Most Anti-virus software will tell you this right up front when you open the program

You should also check the Action Center or System Information from the Control Panel

This will show you the status of your Anti-virus, Firewall, Windows Update, and Windows Defender

Of course, I can take care of this for you!

I can remotely verify the status of these applications and ensure they are operating properly and up to date

If your computer is behaving strangely,

giving pop-ups and warning messages,

Or you find essential Windows services are not running, will not start, or repeatedly stop,


In these situations the only thing I can do remotely is verify the status of your services


You have my BOOT CD!

I have given each of you a copy of one of my Boot  CD’s (Blog readers can download a free copy from boot.irwinelectronics.com)

These are NOT licensed for general distribution!

However, as used for emergency recovery situations by my clients only, they should be OK.

These CD’s are designed to connect directly to me when booted, so I can scan and hopefully recover everything

But for you, they will allow Internet access if your computer won’t boot properly or connect to the Internet

You can also check your e-mail and run many of the included tools if you’re so inclined

Remember, Irwin Electronics is here to help!

I’m just a phone call away, and happy to answer your questions

I offer free diagnostics, so it doesn’t cost anyone a thing for me to look at their system remotely

I’ve compared the rates both the national chains, and independent providers charge

I charge $75 per hour, and ALWAYS include a cap

Many services take hours to complete, and it doesn’t make sense to rack up the bill every hour until the repair is done, especially on an older system!

Here to Save You Money!

It’s kind of a strange thing for an IT company to say, but you already know how I feel

I’m sure that if I can save your old computer, speed it up, and make it run like new, you’ll be happy

That means you’ll likely refer me to your friends…

Which  means enough business to keep me IN business!

That’s all folks!

Posted in BNI