Follow Us!

Share Us!

Find Us!

Click to open a larger map


Back To The Blog!

Wow, I can’t believe its been 4 years since I’ve done any blogging. Where does the time go?! Thinking back to where Cedar Valley Tech was in 2010 I can hardly believe everything that’s changed. It’s been challenging but there’s been a lot of good stuff along the way too. Here’s a top-10 of the most notable items of 2010-2014 in no particular order:

  1. Contract jobs. When you buy a computer with an on-site warranty agreement, the guy that gets called to do the actual repair isn’t HP or Dell, it’s somebody like me. And these jobs aren’t too bad, square pay for a fix and some driving. But after a while, dealing with the service companies themselves to schedule work and receive payment was becoming a nuisance. So I stopped taking any kind of contract work early in 2010 and life has been much smoother since.
  2. Chain-store relationships. I’ve been doing this long enough now that all the local big box stores know about me, or at least their techs and staff do. When they have a customer that needs a system repaired and they don’t want to wait weeks for factory/warranty red tape or buy a new system, the staff will refer them over to me. In some cases they even tell the customer the repair will cost about half of what they can do and turn-around is much quicker too. People actually repeat this when they come to me. (That’s when I know I must be doing something right). These relationships are especially important as I don’t have a multi-million dollar advertising campaign….but they all do!
  3. The rise of tablets and smart phones. The next evolution in constantly shrinking technology, tablets and smart phones are awesome and have really caused disruption in the PC market. And while these little wonders are great for quick internet access and light browsing they still cannot take the place of a laptop or desktop system to get real work done. To grow my business I’ve looked into doing screen and jack repairs on these devices several times. But after running the numbers the bottom line is that repairs on these devices isn’t really practical like it is on PCs – the parts are too expensive and with labor you would be wiser to buy a new phone or tablet. To do the repairs usually boils down to over-charging the customer to make a profit. Disposable technology has arrived. And when it breaks you place it in the trash.
  4. Competition. Computer shops pop up and disappear here all the time. I’ve seen lots of guys trying their hand at running a repair business, even one place that did the work for tips! Several of these places even scraped my website for a little advertising content to whip up Craigslist ads! I could be upset about it but I guess it’s flattering in a way. None of these pop-up shops survive for long. I’ve even gotten calls from frantic people asking if I knew so-and-so because they brought their computer in for a repair and now they don’t answer the phone and their Craigslist ad is gone. Rule of thumb: if your computer repair shop has to advertise on Craigslist, you probably want to shop elsewhere.
  5. Windows 8. Nothing could have made Windows 7 look better then came Windows 8. Like buying a car without a steering wheel, the new interface completely confuses the average user and causes ridiculous and sometimes hilarious frustration trying to figure it out. I usually install ClassicShell right away on any Windows 8 system or I just can’t get anything done quickly. Luckily HP, Dell and other companies have quit towing the Microsoft line on Windows 8 and are advertising new systems with Windows 7 again. Maybe Windows 9 will be better. Let’s hope.
  6. Wireless everywhere. Where just a few years ago a person might have to look around a little for a business with free wifi, now you practically can’t go anywhere that doesn’t have it. It’s become like a standard utility like heat or running water. If the lights are on there’s probably free wifi. Its never been easier to be a wireless leech.
  7. Cable cutters. Cable cutters (people who don’t buy cable tv but rather stream internet media) are really aggravating the cable companies. I’ve talked to so many people that have dropped their cable provider and stream movies and TV either from their own systems (alone or output to large screens) or via Roku and similar streaming boxes. The technology is easy, the content is top-notch and the cable companies should be very very worried indeed.
  8. Gaming. Four years is a lifetime in gaming technology. The graphics continue to amaze and the experience is getting richer all the time. But my opinion on computer gaming remains as it always did – gaming is best left to your XBoxes, Playstation systems etc. Most PC based systems, unless specifically equipped for gaming, just don’t keep up well and cause -lots- of griping from frustrated gamers. Look – there’s a reason you don’t drive your minivan at Nascar, just like there’s a reason to keep your killer games on a specifically made gaming system. Nuff said.
  9. Facebook and social media. I think it was back in early 2010 when I finally had enough of Facebook and shelled out my account. Un-friended everybody and deleted all my posts. I still keep the account open to manage my business page but do nothing with it anymore. Social media (Facebook, twitter and all others) are a curious thing and aren’t for everybody as the results of many recent studies have shown. For some, the amazing ability to reach out to so many people and share your every passing thought and reading theirs is a miracle. But for others these same qualities can cause anxiety, stress, depression and a host of other issues. These study results could explain the drop in overall use social media has seen lately, I suppose the drop could also be that people are just plain bored with everybody they know.
  10. Mobile security. Mobile is taking over the world. And that’s great…except that most mobile devices in use today have practically no real security to speak of. It’s a topic that right now seems to not draw nearly the attention it should. But I expect that with so many people now uploading their lives into mobile devices that security failures and exposure of the devices’ lack of rock-solid security is going to be a huge issue. Not yet, but soon.

I’m going to really try to get back to this blog more often so my next post won’t be ‘2014-2018 in review’. I have LOVED owning and operating Cedar Valley Tech and with continued community support, good referrals, and a little luck I look forward to many more years right here. Cheers!

-Tim.

Thumb drive vulnerability

Never, never, never plug your thumb drive (a.k.a. usb drive, flash drive) into a system that you’re not 100% sure is virus-free. Unless your drive has write protection, and not many do, it’s completely vulnerable to infection and total data loss.

More Bandwidth is Always Better

Don’t get cheap when it comes to choosing the bandwidth of your internet service! A slow connection can make a killer system run like a dinosaur. Dial-up is dead so don’t even consider that! A minimum of 512k is a good start but you’ll want a 1.5M or faster connection to really enjoy sites like Youtube, FaceBook and media-rich news sites.

Electronics Need Room to Breathe!

All electronic devices need some room to breathe to dissipate heat! The problem I come across most is people who stack up their network equipment to save space. But many don’t realize how hot some of these devices (cable modems especially!) can get. And if you stack something, say…a router on top of a hot cable modem you can bet you’re headed for trouble. Take a minute to arrange your computer or laptop, cable/dsl modem, router and other devices so their intake and exhaust areas are open and have plenty of room to dissipate all the heat they create.

DIY Parabolic Antenna

Here’s a neat little project for parents and kids. A homemade parabolic antenna template to help boost signal strength on a wireless router. Paper, tin foil, scissors and glue…it’s fun and it works!

Basket-Case Laptops Can Be Saved!

A “basket case” laptop is one that your techie friend tried to fix but then returned it to you in pieces. It’s not too late to save. Gather up whatever pieces and screws your buddy brought back and bring it in!

Beware Account and Password Requests!

If you ever get an email asking you to verify your password or personal account information, delete it because it’s fake!! No financial institution or any reputable organization will ever request this information by email or other electronic means. Most often these messages appear to come from your bank, paypal, insurance companies and others. The best defense against fraud and identity theft is good old common sense!

Wireless Internet Troubleshooting

Having a weak or intermittent wireless connection can cause all kinds of strange behavior in internet-enabled software like browsers and email clients. But how do you know if your connection is good? Netstumbler is a free tool for windows that gives a real-time signal strength display of your wifi connections. Great for troubleshooting problems and repositioning antennas and wireless equipment for better performance. Try it out!

Internet Piggy-Backers!

An internet ‘piggy-backer’ is somebody who connects to their neighbor’s wireless network to steal internet service. How would you know if somebody was piggy-backing on your wireless router? It’s not always easy to tell but the quickest way to kick off all piggy-backers and secure your network is to enable encryption on your wireless device. Refer to your router’s manual or user guide for steps.

Got a Backup Plan?

If your hard drive crashed today what would you do? Do you have a reliable backup of your vital documents and pictures? Many people don’t think about backups until the unthinkable happens. Don’t wait for disaster to strike! A USB external hard drive or an online service like Mozy are all you need to ensure your files can be recovered if your computer system fails.