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Advanced Computer Solutions:  Case Studies

One of the reasons Advanced Computer Solutions has been so successful, is it's owner and it's technicians always enjoy new challenges. We are problem solvers - solution providers - and just like watching a good thriller in the movies, problem solving for us is very rewarding!  So many stories to tell....here are a few we've chosen for this page.

HARD LESSON-TO-LEARN # 1 - "I'VE LOST MY DATA!!"  During a well-deserved vacation we received a phone call from a not-so-happy-with-Dell person who had just been stepped through the process of "reloading her system" - and it just so happened she held a very important position with a very important company and she had a lot of important data on her computer - that Dell had just assisted her in completely destroying. This was not too big a deal until she realized a modification that had been done to her server network path caused her backup to be over a year old as well. Advanced Computer, using extremely advanced techniques, was able to restore 98% of her missing files and data - from a computer that had been completely formatted and reloaded. (If this ever happens to you the first thing you need to do is turn your computer OFF - then call us.  Do not continue to use your computer, as that can destroy even additional data).  This customer was lucky mostly because the total capacity of her hard disk drive was so large.  We have performed this service for additional doctors, attorneys, and even a few normal computer users.  If we can help you or someone you know, please contact us.

HARD LESSON-TO-LEARN # 2 - "WOW, YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING AND NO ONE ELSE DOES!!"  In late 2001, shortly after our owner had formed this company, the Best Western Carlton Suites in Birmingham, Alabama had just been purchased by the same group who owns the local Best Western Farewinds Inn. Our owner had contracted with his former employer (Millar Computer Solutions - now Computer Partners Inc) as the project manager to implement a new network for this facility. We also had instructions to reprogram or replace all the computer equipment - as well as install new software - which the new owners of the property had brought in on a laptop. Although the new owners had setup the rates, rooms, and other important information for the property, the group was not aware that the cd-rom version we had been given to install on the new computer network (and then we were to import the data from the laptop to make the site live) - was not the same version - and in fact the new version had problems and bugs.  We worked through the night with the software company to implement the changes - as the new owners came back from their stressful property closing - and slept for three hours as we concluded the installation and imported the data.  Fortunately, after this grueling 14 hour process - the network was fully operational in time for 5 am checkout - and the property served us one of the finest breakfast's we have ever had!

Fast-forward four years later - the property was again sold (after improvements were made) and the new property-owner hired a Birmingham firm to come in and again install a new network and all new equipment. After several frustrating days of problems and excuses - the new property owner contacted the former owner of the hotel to find out who installed the initial network - which was, of course, our company.  Within a few hours of returning on-site, we had solved or implemented acceptable solutions for all issues the client was having - proving we were apparently more knowledgeable than local Birmingham computer firms! We continue to work with Ronnie today to implement new goals and solve occasional problems.

HARD LESSON-TO-LEARN # 3 - LIGHTNING STRIKES!!  AND USUALLY WINS!! "HELP!! WE'RE DEAD IN THE WATER!!" One day, a call came in approximately 15 minutes after our company stopped working for the day.  A restaurant out on Smith Lake had apparently taken a direct lightning strike.  Their telephone lines were fried. Their file server would no longer turn on - thus their point- of-sale system was dead in the water - and it was a Friday night - one of the busiest nights of the week. The owner was unable to separate dining tickets - and the customers did not seem to care.  Some even threatened that if the ticket can't be separated out, they were not going to pay.  The owner and manager were so frustrated they were prepared to shut the restaurant down until the problem was fixed. All of this transpired between the time we received the call at 5:15 until the time we arrived on-site (approximately 6 pm - we dispatched a tech on-site to began assessing the situation, and other techs arrived later to complete the job).

We quickly determined the motherboard in the server was bad - and worse yet, it was a proprietary Dell motherboard. As we had two techs on-site at this point - we discussed possible options - and came up with a rather unique solution.  "Lets pull the guts from another Dell computer" we had available to us - and, by pulling parts from other working computers, "lets see if we can get this server back in operation."  We took the existing hard disk drive and motherboard, memory, and power supply from another Dell computer - and within about an hour we had the computer up and running again.  However, since changing the parts, the device drivers no longer functioned.  Worse yet, the location was so remote, there was no broadband internet access available to download drivers (good reason to sell Cyber Broadband!)   Ironically, the motherboard was on loan from Cyber Domain - the internet cafe that existed at the time.  After driving back to the tech's house, which was close to the restaurant, (and thanks to the availability of Cyber Broadband at the tech's house!), we were able to quickly get the drivers without taking a 20-minute drive back to our office - each way - and not being sure which driver would work with our hardware.

Fortunately after about three hours - nearing the end of the dinner rush - we had the file server back online and most of the point-of-sale and waitress terminals back online - except for the ones where we discovered network lines going to various point-of-sale printers (the kitchen and salad bar) as well as one of the terminals - were apparently fried during the lightning strike.  After re-running two critical network lines (which could have involved a third tech - but fortunately involved the owner's husband)  - we were able to get the critical stations back up.  We then worked with the owner over the next few weeks to replace the rest of the equipment - including installing a new replacement computer to run the point-of-sale system. Overall - due to our timely response - the restaurant did not have to close.

HARD LESSON-TO-LEARN # 4 - "OUR SERVER CRASHED!! THE COMPANY WE CALLED TO FIX IT - COULDN'T GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER. THEY CALLED ANOTHER COMPANY - WHO CALLED IN A THIRD COMPANY - WHO TOLD US WE NEED ALL NEW NETWORK WIRING!!!  WHAT ON EARTH!! SECOND OPINION PLEASE!!!"   Yes....this is one of our absolute favorite stories for the record books. We were contacted by a new client late one afternoon - and this client asked us for a special meeting first thing the next morning if at all possible.  Upon arriving at this meeting - we were told this customer had gone through three different computer companies - none of which could solve their problems.  This customer finally called another local business with whom they had conducted business to find out who took care of their computer need - and learned of Advanced Computer Solutions.

During the meeting we were told the company's file server had failed - and another company from out of town was rebuilding the file server with replacement parts from Dell - and they had returned the file server - but were unable to get the network back online. Apparently confused, they called another company they deal with - who called another company - they deal with - who finally told this customer their network wiring was "old" - and they'd need all new wiring. This customer, having a hard time believing this "song and dance", quickly told us the third company was returning to begin running new wire - thus the urgency. After a careful review of the network - we discovered a critical piece of network equipment (the device that assigns network addresses to devices on the network) had failed - thus causing the computers to fall off the network.  Within two hours, we had manually assigned network addresses to most of the computers - thus getting the office back in a state where they can be productive -  just in time to have the company which suggested they rewire the whole building show up and ask for us to go outside and talk with them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes - we can't make this stuff up.  The customer politely told the other company to please leave - and we double checked our health insurance in case the "competing" company met us in a dark alley one night!!

HARD LESSON-TO-LEARN # 5 - "OUR SATELLITE INTERNET IS NOT WORKING CORRECTLY - WE CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT. PLEASE HELP."  This actually happened at a Jimmie Hale Mission - owned property called Royal Pines - in extremely remote Blount county.  Someone else had set the network up - mostly wireless - although a wired footprint would have been extremely easy to service.  Since  wireless technology was already in place, we continued to use the existing technology (instead of "reinventing the wheel").  As this was prior to the use of routing equipment with DirecWay, we utilized internet connection sharing, as built into Windows 2000, to allow the Direcway satellite to be shared across the network.  This computer lab was primarily used for recovering patients to locate jobs for when they are released from the mission.

HARD LESSON-TO-LEARN # 6 - "WE HAVE DEADLINES - WE NEED OUR POINT-OF-SALE SYSTEMS UPGRADED."  This was the story we received from several Dollar General stores across north Alabama.  Their home office has provided certain stores with newer IBM point-of-sale terminals - and Advanced Computer Solutions has been working with these stores to install the new equipment at Dollar General's request.

HARD LESSON-TO-LEARN # 7 - "PEOPLE ARE STAYING AT OUR HOTEL - AND THEIR WIRELESS WON'T CONNECT!  WE'RE TIRED OF CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS!  CAN YOU HELP?" Have you noticed the trend of business to work away from the office - from your motel room, or from your beach house? A local establishment had installed wireless access points throughout their buildings - but were not very familiar with wireless technology - and thus had tremendous gaps in coverage.  In addition, some of the access points worked when others did not - and even others, when they worked, no one knew how long they would work.  We re-wired the buildings CORRECTLY - (our very own Mr. Weekley has a certification from the Building Industry Consulting Service International. (BICSI) (see more) - which helps him to know exactly what to look for when data transmission errors occur - for example - wiring cat-5 to electrical conduit!!   -- very big no no!!). We continued to work with management to solve their problems.

We have also conducted wireless studies (802.11 as well as point-to-point wireless) for warehouses and business facilities.

HARD LESSON-TO-LEARN # 8 -  "REMOTE CONNECTIVITY MAKES LIFE SOOOOO MUCH EASIER!!"  After installing remote point-to-point connections (using Virtual Private Network, or VPN technology) - and especially remote control and remote connectivity to office locations - productivity and communication show a substantial increase.  In fact, one customer recently told us as she was having the vpn protocols updated for a new file server at her workplace that she would not know what to do while watching TV commercials that evening - because she would not have remote connectivity to her workplace!  If your company has not invested in this technology yet, please, contact us.  You're losing time and productivity - and, take it from us,  time is money!

Trust us....there are many more stories to tell. We truly love our work!

Thank you for taking the time to read our personal "diary" - and thanks for considering Advanced Computer Solutions as a business partner.

 

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Locally owned and operated by Jay Fuller - providing efficient solutions since 2001

Advanced Computer Solutions LLC  *  Cullman AL 35055  *  (256) 775-4972   or   (205) 383-1075