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Posts from the ‘Commentary’ Category

tech insights (1.00)

golden_smiling_buddha-normal

Doing technician work in-house (on the bench) and delivering tech services onsite (home-office or business network users) are two different worlds. So many techs that can do good bench work are completely incapable of doing onsites. Granted, onsites are many times more complicated. You are not simply diagnosing and repairing hardware or software problems. For onsites, you must also fully assess the many variables that impact productivity. The network needs proper mapping and testing, the computers on the network may need individual attention, other network devices and services may be malfunctioning, the router/gateway/wireless antennas may not be working properly. THEN, you must have a thorough dialog with the client, asking careful questions and listening intently to responses. Clients with network problems usually don’t know what the problems are… that is why they called you. You must be analytical, intuitive and sensitive. People need to open up on a personal level, so that you can understand the hurdles preventing this person from being productive and efficient with their technology. The average technician is not a people person. Being shy and introverted, they easily get lost in the world of technology (service techs and software programmers, too). They avoid clients, and frequently do not have highly evolved people skills. For a business owner and service provider that employes hardware techs and software developers, this offers a world of frustration. It requires being in constant contact with techs and clients, it requires managing psyches and expectations. Without someone who can intervene and oversee, the client relationship loses value, it dissolves and falls apart. Good technicians usually can’t also service the human relations aspect of the sale and delivery of technical services. It can be both satisfying and frustrating to the business owner or manager.

the profit squeeze

tlp810net

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.

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.

end of summer harvest expo

end of summer harvest expo

Rides, games, competitions, craft beers, antique cars, funky food, last of summer warmth.

figs

figs

Home grown in New England. Sweet, creamy, coconut finish.