More XP Activation Hell: Activation Wizard will not appear

Recently performed a repair install on a netbook (which is enough of an ordeal to deserve its own post). After performing the repair install, instead of being dumped into the desktop like before, I was greeted with the message: “This copy of windows has not been activated. Would you like to activate it now? y/n” Ignore the polite tone of voice. What it’s really saying is: “Microsoft trusts nobody, and until you jump through our hoops you can’t use this computer.” Clicking “no” dumps you back at the login screen, so really you only have one choice. Clicking “yes” closes the prompt and brings you to an empty screen where […]

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Case Study: Digital Fish Tank

We received a request from a residential customer to rig up an electronic fish tank.  She noted that the massive HDTV on her living room wall went unused when she was playing music, and wondered if there was a way to show an aquarium.

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What right looks like: Your Office Workstation

In this example, I’ll talk a bit about the very workstation I am writing this blog post from.  I’ll tell you how it’s configured, what’s running on it, why, how much it cost, and why it works for us. 1-The box The box itself is a second hand Dell OptiPlex GX270 with a Pentium 4 processor running at 2.4 Ghz.  Some of you out there will gawk at a technology company using a 4 year old workstation, but I’ll be the first to tell you that these boxes are dirt cheap ($90-$100), can come with a valid Windows XP license, and will run all the office software, load all the […]

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Charm City Networks is a certified MBE

Effective October 2009, Charm City Networks was granted MBE status by the Maryland Department of Transportation. CCN was also granted MBE status by the City of Baltimore in 2008, and is currently awaiting approval as an 8A business development program at the Small Business Administration.

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Busted Backlight

A broken backlight is a common ailment of aging laptops.  Sometimes they burn out, sometimes they break, but the itsy bitsy  tube that gives life and light to every LCD panel out there is not going to last forever.  You will know your backlight is not working if your computer does everything it normally does, but you can barely see an image on the screen.  It’s as if the screen is off, but you can see your desktop and mouse if you squint your eyes.  If your backlight breaks early, here are the  options we recommend: 1. Fix it!  When the backlight doesn’t work, it’s either one of two things… […]

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Save an IT Guy: Invest in Your Network

In this line of work you visit a lot of offices.  You see a lot of office networks.  In non-technically oriented small businesses, these networks are often an afterthought, something that grows organically with the business.  They are not so much a network as a motley crew of miscellaneous hardware plugged into the same ethernet switch.  With lots of hard work and a little bit of luck, they can overcome their differences and accomplish something.  If it sounds like a Disney movie, it’s because that’s where it belongs. Administrating an organically grown business network with non-technical users is time consuming and expensive, especially for businesses small enough to have no […]

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MerchantOS – Point of Sale Goes to the Cloud

The opening of our new shop brought with it several challenges, one of which was how to handle payments for our new “residential clients” who are walk-ins for PC repair.  It was never an issue in the past, as we’d simply email invoices to our business clients, and the few residential users who brought their PCs to my home office presumed they would be paying by check. With the shop, it is assumed that we will take credit cards, as we had 4 different clients within the first week present a card for payment (which, sadly, we were not prepared to accept). We were in need of a tech solution […]

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RackSpace Cloud Review

About 4 months ago I tried Amazon EC2 with Ubuntu image and found it somehow difficult to configure the server, especially if you are not familiar with cli. Making an ssh remote connection required downloading few encryption keys from amazon. Linux server images from amazon seem to not have root password, therefore private and I think public keys are created for you to connect with ssh, which make it more secure. It took me about 2 hours to figure out how to use those keys. I worked with Linux boxes before, in fact I never hosted a site on Windows machine, and never will, but I didn’t have to use […]

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Key Highway Repair Shop Open for Business

Charm City Networks is pleased to announce a move into a new office/shop space in South Baltimore!  We’ll have up shop at 1414 Key Highway, and are providing PC tune-ups, upgrades and repairs, computer parts, networking equipment and more.   We accept credit cards, and can turn most PCs around in less than 24 hours. Please call for specific hours or weekend appointments.

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