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the profit squeeze


Being a small, office-based computer consultancy, we have both business and home clients. Many home clients appreciate the value of our service, our technical competencies and the fact that four or five hours of our time is worth a lot less than several hours of frustrating, aggravating, non-productive hours of their time wasted trying to solve technical problems themselves. In the end, they call us anyway. When a client, no matter how small, has a crisis or emergency, one of us is willing and able to drop what we are doing and solve the problem. This is not always cost effective for us. Many problems can be solved in a short period of time, but what some clients forget is that it took 30 years of experience to solve a complex technical problem quickly and correctly. An example, we carry this pictured surge protector – top quality, good specs and capable of supporting a laser printer (most don’t). It costs a bit more and for good reason. We don’t carry cheaper units – they are not cost-effective. So this client had a ‘crisis’, he downgraded his internet service by himself, was sent a new router, installed it himself, and has now been having network problems for the last several days. He says “I have wasted many hours trying to work with our isp to resolve this issue”. I go over, figure out the problem, return to the office, get the needed equipment, require and config. his network, it now works. It took in total about an hour and a half of my time in total, even though the actual ‘work-time’ was less. I invoice him for only 1/2 hr, plus the cost of the surge and an ethernet-to-coax adapter kit. Grateful his problem is solved (but not thanking me for the reduced labor bill), he writes a check. The next day, i get an email – ‘Hey, we found a surge laying around, so we don’t need this one any more. can we return it? I trust you saved the box.’ If people can’t willingly support local service providers, in the midst of their technical crises, then they don’t deserve to have local service providers willing to go the extra mile for little money. The answer to him will be no, but it still bugs me to have to say no… or more accurately, to have to be forced to say no, and give up what little profit i made to help him save a few bucks. I have bills to pay too.

retail store network wiring

bookstore bsmt

Local retail store, where we installed a 10-node computer network 7 years ago. The server, cabling and network equipment originate in the basement. This network contains five p.o.s. computers & registers, network printer and various other workstations. Time for a full network upgrade (esp the old and dated workstations). Also in the photo you can see they have a verizon dsl-modem, Upgrades, time for high speed broadband internet, time for new workstations.

google glass project (00.4)


glass takeapart 1-2

These two images of the Google Glass (red model), showing the finished Glass and the same Glass disassembled are clever and interesting. Posted on the website, they were able to execute a complete take-apart. They also stated that they were able to reassemble and that the unit worked (albeit with cosmetic damage). Pretty ballsy, to pay $1,500.00 for a product, then tear it up, damaging the surfaces and seams in the process.

GG esquire 12.2013

The above PDF file (LINK) is from the Dec. 2013 issue of Esquire magazine. Written by A.J. Jacobs, he takes a clever and humorous look at Google Glass. He takes the Glass out into everyday life, looking for humor and clever situations in which to avail himself of the tech tools contained within the Glass.

GG new yorker 08.2013

The above PDF file (LINK) is from the Aug. 2013 issue of The New Yorker magazine. Written by Gary Shteyngart. This article offers another humorous take, by another talented writer, on the use and application of the Glass in common society. Sometimes more important that the actual tech reference manuals for a given product, these everyday experience articles help prepare you for the features and functions of the device, not necessarily how it works. They help personalize the Glass.

how glass works 1


google glass project (00.3)

google glass 08

The Google Glass package arrived via overnight air service, with morning delivery. Opening the shipping box, there were four smaller boxes inside, three accessory boxes and one Glass box. Packaging was sturdy, cool, elegant and refined. Apple packaging reinterpreted, pretty good effort and result. Especially cool was the vellum peel-back wrapper on the Glass box, simply a new experience in product revelation. Text on the packaging was simple, sparse and tasteful. As you can see in this last (fifth) slide, the instructions are simple, graphical and minimalist. Once again, less is more.

google glass 05

Haven’t started unwrapping anything yet. Have started researching the product, it’s features and specs, other user reviews and ideas for new and innovative application of the Glass technology. Have found many online articles, videos and user reviews. Want to have a clear idea of what it is and how it works, before is tart plugging in and turning on.

glass 01

Have four tech/developers who are pulling on their leashes trying to get their hands on it, but i am asking them to go thru a similar learning curve before grabbing the Glass. I have also asked to keep the unit in-house, and to email a written analysis/report each time they experiment with it. In this way, we can share and cross-educate, saving time and creating more interesting what-if ideas.

google glass 07

It seems that between now and the May 2014 Google IO Developer Conference (San Fran), we will have a short window of opportunity to learn the product, master the developer tools and create a custom app to seamlessly integrate the device into an everyday live-function. It should be useful and clever, yet also be an app that any non-tech person could use and operate without reading pages of manuals.

google glass 02

google glass project (00.2)

google glass offer 12.09.13

Several months after initially signing up for the Google Glass queue online, i get an email telling me that I am now being offered a Google Glass device. Wow. It seems that Google has just released rev. 2 of the Explorer Glass, which includes an earbud and capability for working with prescription glasses. So now I have to decide – do I want to invest $1,500.00 in this innovative device, with the hope and expectation that we can design an add-on or new use for the technology within the product? Of course it is worth the gamble, nothing ventured, nothing lost? i also note that people are selling v2 of these glasses on Amazon for $4,500.00. Probably a violation of the NDA, so unlikely I would seriously consider that. Trust and honesty make the world go round.

order glass 1-4

So now i have to start learning about Google Glass. There are many reviews and tests online, as well as demo videos. Time to ramp up the learning curve. One of the first things i learn is that you need an Android cellphone to tether it to, in order to take advantage of gps, location awareness and messaging. They say there is support for IOS, but nothing at present. Better to be as compatible as possible, so I add a Motorola Moto-X cellphone to the mix. The Moto-X is based on the Android OS, which includes mobility tools for Glass integration.

google glass description

It is now getting really pricey, and I haven’t even touched the device yet. Am starting to devise a ramp-up strategy, including deciding which staff person is best to work with me on the test and experiment phase. Once the unit arrives, there will be no time like the present to unwrap, switch on and get going. The sooner we can create an add-on, and hopefully before the official retail release date, the better. Google says the Glass will arrive in 5-7 days.

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 4.23.09 PM

Google has three “Glass Studios” across the country – Mountainview CA, Los Angeles CA, NYC. you can pickup your Glass at one of the studios, which includes a free day of training. i opt for direct delivery. Maybe i can arrange for a Glass Studio visit after I get the basics down. For the moment, I first just need to get the Glass.

basement network with shelves

bsmt network with shelves

Large home with multiple services, originating at central wall mount and shelves in basement. Custom designed wiring center to support multiple wiring services, including: phone system, broadband internet, security system, network backup drive and house-wide music. Wiring is neat, clean, organized and LABELED. Every installation should be so carefully and efficiently arranged, as it makes home like this one networks easy to manage and maintain.

google glass project (00.1)

glass advance signup

Mid summer 2013 I started reading google’s glass articles and reviews. Their developer program (for a device called explorer) seemed an interesting way to get a beta-test experience with this new revolutionary technology (a wearable and keyboard-free computer). Having worked on developer projects in the past, i entered their online lottery to win the chance to buy a pre-release set of google glass ‘glasses’. Not sure if i would be selected, or if i could afford it, or if there was really an opportunity here for me to create a strategic, innovative add-on product (or clever new use of the glass), i signed up and forgot about it.

Over the next several months, i will continue adding sequential blog updates, focusing on this project of acquiring, learning and developing for google glass.

apple time capsule & extreme routers

time cap 3tb 1-2

Have to give a deserved accolade to the new Apple time capsules and airport extreme network routers. fantastic new products – work well, fast, compatible and can bridge wireless antennas (for seamless roaming). The time capsule version also includes a built-in internal hard drive (up to 3tb), so that most computers and devices on the network can backup to the drive – automatically and unattended. i have installed over a hundred of these units since they hit the market earlier this year. Good stuff, plus they look amazingly sci-fi.

time cap 2-2

basement router with sonos

bsmt router with sonos

This is a picture of a home-office computer closet. Included are: 1000t ethernet switch, phone system, sonos music system, 3tb time capsule (Apple)and 40+ ethernet wiring runs (2 ethernet runs to each room or location in a large house). The closet was designed specifically to house all wiring service runs – alarm, video, phone and network. in this way, they are protected from abuse/misuse, each wall of the closet gets it’s own service and it makes it easy to join all services as needed (most a/v and phone services now run on ethernet cabling and/or share the internet connection). The house has five airport extreme antennas, providing a single bridged wired and wireless network to all rooms, common areas and patios in and out of the house (4 bars service, all locations). This installation is in-process, and needs to be completed and tightened up.

wireless network overload

wireless networks

This menu for available wireless networks shows a ridiculous overload of individual internet access accounts. Some antennas are home networks, some are business. Does every physical address really need it’s own internet connection (with it’s own $50-$100/mo service charge)? Some towns here in the Boston suburbs provide their own town-wide internet (wireless everywhere), that all residents can access from any device. I wonder if that wouldn’t be a cheaper, more efficient service solution in the long run. Every home or business does not need it’s own modem-router-antenna equipment. This equipment, by the way, is usually rented to the consumer at an extra cost of $10-$20/mo, and most of the time the equipment itself is only worth about $20 total cost. This hardware and service redundancy benefits only the internet service providers, not the consumer.