Author: The Timedok

A brighter idea?

A brighter idea?

Being the responsible human that I am, I purchased some LED bulbs to cut my carbon footprint.

Not only have I removed much of my ‘footprint due to COVID and hardly ever leaving the house but, I am responsible with my use of resources.

The question is, how much Green can we afford?

After the incandescent bulb stopped, I replaced it with this beautiful LED bulb from LEDMEDTRICS.

Before the twenty-minute mark was up, the bulb ceased to function.

The bulb was in a standard non-dimmable lamp socket in a desk lamp.  Many are unaware that you must purchase ‘dimmable’ LED bulbs for circuits with dimmers.  I am.

If you follow me, you are aware that my curiosity knows few boundaries.

My first instinct was to contact the manufacturer.  Ooops, cannot find them.

On eBay, I can find their product but as far as the company, no dice.  Now I must tell you that twist pointed my mind in a different direction.

Removing the defective bulb (infant mortality), I noticed it was hot as any incandescent bulb ever was.

These things are assembled in such a way there is no disassembling them with the idea you are going to put them back together and use them again.

Saving a long drawn out discussion on what failed, it was a cold solder joint from the mainboard to the LED panel.  As it heated up, the contact let loose.

“Is it worth $12?”

The circuit is pretty straightforward.  We don’t know what the semiconductor is on the aluminum led substrate.

I would guess that the high tin content of the solder is most probably the reason for the cold solder joint.

For your amusement, I have taken some pictures of what is inside one of these bulbs. 

There appears to be aluminum bonded to the PVC at the base of the bulb.

-Best

Customer Service 101

Customer Service 101

Your response should be crafted.

‘Recently, I took my car in for normal maintenance.  Driving away from the shop, leaving from a red light, the engine stalled or hesitated.  Calling the shop, their response was, “Those cars have Gremlins.”’

Even though they were obligated under warranty to fix it, I lost confidence in them immediately.

Finding another shop, I elected to pay them to fix whatever was wrong.  Citing a potential catalytic converter issue, I reminded them of when the problem first occurred and then let them do their diagnostics.

The fault did not generate a check engine light.  The lack of a ‘fault’ made the problem tougher to troubleshoot.  If you have ever tinkered with old cars, the issue resembled a vacuum leak. 

Finding a tear in a hose leading to the Mass Airflow Sensor cured the problem.

The ‘gremlin’ was the mechanic who did the original work and did not check to make sure his ‘cure’ did not introduce more problems.

While I am out a few hundred more dollars to another shop, finding an honest mechanic is worth it.

From plumbers to electricians and yes, computer professionals, it is OK to say ‘I don’t know.’

Customers would much rather hear you say ‘allow me to figure it out,’ vs. your (insert issue) has gremlins.

The original shop has lost me as a customer because the mechanic did not check their work and Gremlins.

No matter who you work for or what you do, you have customers.  Identify them and treat them as you would want to be treated. Watch what you say.

-Best

What you don’t know can kill you

What you don’t know can kill you

Facebook garners little of my attention.  The social noise from so many uninformed individuals spouting opinions as facts drive me to distraction.  While social media is an adequate way to keep up with the goings-on of some people, it is hardly a substitute for a phone call or Zoom visit during these rather inauspicious times.

Other uses for the site are finding like-minded folks.   Ham (amateur) radio has been a rather large part of my life since the early 70’s when I taught myself electronics at the ripe old age of eight.

Earning my first ticket in 1973 opened a whole new world for me.  Geography soon became essential. I was talking with people in countries I did not know existed.  Interestingly enough, some of the countries I ‘worked’ are no longer countries today.  I spoke with a King of a country that is no more, how many can say that?

One of the groups on Facebook is a ham radio group.  Seldom do I comment.  Those people in that group are from a different time.  The hobby is a leftover from earlier when we knew a language that few speak.  The communication was megacycles and micro henrys.  From Zeps to long wires and grid dip meters, we were something else.

More and more of my friends of this age are dying off from natural causes, and yes, COVID.

Amateur radio operators created much of the technology we enjoy today out of need.  Necessity is the mother of invention.

For instance, yesterday was Navajo Code Talker Day.  If you don’t know the history, please, inform yourself, it is fascinating.  They helped us win the war. These people tearing down statues are clueless bastards.

If they are successful, there will be generations of clueless bastards that have no comprehension of why kneeling when the anthem is played is so distressing to those of us who know history.

Ham Radio has been dumbed down over the years. On this site, there was a young man who was studying for his test.  He had the book open, took a picture of the page, and asked the group the question, ‘do I really need to know this stuff?’

The answer should have been an emphatic ‘YES.’

The responses were down hearting.  They ranged from ’just learn the formulas’ to pointing him to a place where they teach to the test.  The latter is why we are in the fix we are in today. We have taught to the test.

I pointed out that when the hobby began, we designed and built our equipment.  There were no radio’s selling for thousands of dollars made in China, ready for you to plug in and talk.

Today on Amazon, there is a dual-band five-watt handy talkie for $20.00. Those were $600 until the Chinese got into the mix.  This thing is full of whistles and bells, I have a few of them, just because.

While the CB craze in the ’70s set the stage for such radios, it took another twenty years before the FCC changed the rules, first removing the requirement for Morse code.   The questions went from an essay type question or fill in the blank, to multiple guess.

Testing went from traveling downtown to the federal building to volunteers like me who can administer the test.

While we have smartphones that can facetime people anywhere in the world where there is cell service, I am asked, why the need for ham radio?

The answer is we provide communication when there is any disaster where commercial methods of communication are down.  From hurricanes to earthquakes, we are there.

I responded to the person asking the question, telling him as much and relating to him that inside the transmitters and amplifiers are lethal voltages.  If you use a screwdriver and have any curiosity about your equipment, what you don’t know can kill you.  That is why multiple guess tests are not a good thing.  They are great for the people who manufacture and sell radios, but not suitable for the hobby or the people who are responsible for the signal the radio emits.

If they don’t have to work for it, they don’t respect it.  Just about any given night, you can find ‘operators’ most probably drunk, swearing like a sailor.  Very much illegal and could land you in jail.

Case in point and this is a simple thing.  I ordered an inrush current limiting device to keep the filaments of the tubes in my amplifier from getting all that current at an instant.  How many times have you flipped on a light to have the bulb flash and go out?

The same could happen to the filaments in the tubes, which are considerably more expensive than a bulb.

The case of the device was not put on correctly.  Because I know electronics and I know where this stuff is being made and by whom, I decided to open it up and peek at it before fixing the case properly.

crappy job

The pictures are what I found.  If those that learn to the test take that knowledge no further, they would not know what they are looking for.  Also, they might not understand what is wrong with it.

If you are an Amateur Radio Operator and you are savvy with electronics, I would encourage you to remove the covers and peek inside before you plug it in.  From cold solder joints to plugs not seated correctly, nothing surprises me.

This device you see is $90 plus tax and shipping.

Two MOV’s, one capacitor, one 10 ohm wire wound resistor, and a relay.  Add two fuses and a case and outlet you have an inrush current protector.   I would have liked an LED telling me that I have it on, or have power but nope.

IMG_6198
Correctly installed

If you look at the wire on the outlet, only a tad bit of the wire is connected to the outlet.  The green or ground wire has a part of the wire super close to the hot lead of the 110.  While the ground was wrapped backward, I left it as it was tight.

ground1
This is what you don’t want to see.

Whoever built this either did not care, was in a hurry, or child labor.  Yes, they could have been tired or hungover or a host of other excuses.  My point is this is not the first time I have had shoddy quality on ‘turn-key’ devices.  Had I learned to the test, I would never know the difference unless it failed, and I had to get it repaired under warranty.

The good news is the design is robust and there are two fuses.  The bad news is that outlet on the device might have been a source of heat, and intermittent connection through arcing and what have you.  It also might have been a source for electrical noise in the receiver, if indeed it began to arc.

If you are going to get into the hobby of Ham Radio, step up and learn it.  What you don’t know could kill you.

A friend of mine years ago was working on his amplifier late in the afternoon.  He was tired but used to tinkering as many of us do.  The high voltage in his amplifier was not where it belonged.  Taking the high voltage leads lose from the rectifier assembly, he went to measure the voltage from the transformer without a load.

Again, like many of us do with low voltage, we grab the end of the wires and hold to the leads of the meter.  Bad habit.

He did it with 3000 volts at an amp.  That mistake blew both of his arms off and exploded his kidneys.  The electricity shot out the bottoms of his feet, through his shoes while finding ground.

He lived for three days like that.

What you don’t know can kill you! 

Working on things when you are tired can kill you.  Bad habits can kill you.  I keep one hand in my pocket whenever I am working on high voltage.  I remove all jewelry when I am working on electronics, period.

I never re-load bullets when I am tired.  I never drink and get on the radio, or send an e-mail to someone whom I have a disagreement with. 🙂  Words to live by.

I hope this story is helpful in some way to those of you who tinker with electronics.

-Best

Scott

The Case of the Bloated Apple

The Case of the Bloated Apple

Ok, it’s technically not an apple in the most real sense of the word.  God or Eve or even the devil had little influence on this fruit.  We are talking about an iPhone.

Let my experience with this device be a cost-saving measure for you.

With the lockdowns and subsequent lack of leaving the house, the phone, which usually lives on my person, hardly ever left the desk.

Since it never left the desk, it also never or hardly ever left the charger.

The physics that goes along with these batteries is somewhat elusive, but batteries are designed to be used.  Said another way, unlike car batteries, these batteries in your laptop, cell phone, and tablets are designed to cycle on a larger scale than your car.

They are rated in how many times they can be ‘cycled.’

On my desk laid the iPhone plugged up to a constant source of energy.  Monitoring the current from the power supply to the phone, I noticed no appreciable current draw but, something was happening.

Simultaneous events occurred during February and March.  The phone seemed to split apart.  Something inside the phone was expanding.  It could only be the battery.  Knowing that these batteries can be volatile, a new phone seemed to be in order.  Repairing an old phone makes little sense by the time you find a place to take it and so on.

Another thousand dollar phone later seemed to be the right approach.  Trying to leave the house presented a whole new challenge.  The car battery was dead.

With all the electronic ‘stuff’ in cars today, there is about a 250 ma constant draw on the battery.  If you don’t drive it weekly, put a trickle charger on the battery.

Here we juxtapose the two different technologies.  Lead Acid batteries are designed to give you that current with a small amount of discharge in the process of starting the engine.  Once started, the alternator puts the energy consumed, back into the battery.  Hence one cycle is complete.

In Texas, anything over three years is considered a win. Heat is detrimental to lead-acid batteries.

Switch gears to the phone.  The Lithium Polymer battery will provide the correct voltage and current until depleted.  Translated, if you puncture a phone battery while trying to remove it while still charged, it very well might combust into flames.

Battery 1

The battery in my older iPhone expanded much like a balloon while living on my desk. Not having taken one of these phones apart before, I felt the proper thing to do would be to recycle it and forget it.  (but It still worked.)

The longer it sat there with its screen popping off, and the more time I had to think about it, google became the go-to source of information.

$22 later, I had a new battery and the tools to change it on the way to my home.

While the procedure is not for the faint of heart, if you were to follow the directions to the letter, the odds are, you too could save your phone.

The older phone still provides a platform for Zoom, music, and yes videos.  The newer phone now lives on an inductive charger, which, according to the manufacturer, will not overcharge your battery.

Since the older phone is repaired and looks great, I unplug it from the charger as I use it like one usually would.  Even without actual ATT service, with wifi, there are many ways to use the phone as a phone still.

The trickiest part of the procedure is removing the old battery. It is glued to the phone.  This is where you could create an explosive situation if you are not super careful.  One tip I would offer is, drain the battery completely before you attempt a procedure like this.

How? Turn the phone on and listen to music until it is dead.

Regarding your car, make sure the trickle charger is rated at least an amp.  The trickle charger I bought from one of those box stores used a little wall wart as the supply.  It did not provide sufficient current to keep the battery charged and run whatever stand-by devices were drawing minuscule amounts of energy.

I now use a zero-point charger that shuts off when the power drain falls below a few milliamps.  As the devices draw enough current to trigger the charger, a cycle is developed, keeping the car ready for when you need to escape from quarantine.

I hope you find this information of some value and that you stay safe during these trying times.

-Best

Watch Out For Crap Like This.

Watch Out For Crap Like This.

From the early 70’s I was tinkering with electronics.  While my peers were playing ball or getting their hearts broken, I was getting shocked and talking to people all over the world.

Peering through the back of a radio or perhaps the TV, one would see all these glowing amber lights.  Soon after my fascination with the front of the radiant dial on the old floor model radio piqued, I wanted to know how it worked.

Garage sales and discarded appliances became a source of amusement for me.  Boxes of small parts from different devices soon lived in the closet, under my bed, and soon I had to pare down the collection.  A borrowed receiver, some junk box parts, and a crystal as were the rules back then, I was on the air as a newly minted Novice Amateur Radio Operator.  The glowing 6AQ5 tube was the final for a whopping 7 watts unmodulated Carrier wave controlled by the steady fist of what they used to call ‘brass pounders.’

Today, 47 years after the date, I still remember Morse code, but I must confess I have not pounded a key in eons.

Tubes gave way to transistors, which soon turned into integrated circuits. Now we have software-defined radio that minimalizes the power usage and, of course, exaggerates the complications if you need to troubleshoot it.

Time marches on. 

A man once stipulated that we stand on the shoulders of giants, and the same is true of the law of accelerated return of advancement regarding technology.

Most teenagers today have more technology in their back pocket or on their wrist than we used to send a man to the moon.  What they do with it remains to be seen but, the possibility of great things is within their grasp.

Licensing for the Amateur Radio Service is nothing like it was.  One could argue that nobody builds anything anymore, so it does not need to be as difficult as it was back in 1973.

I still tinker, albeit minimally and mostly with antenna design and theory.  All that said to get to the point of this blog.

When I purchased this switch box online, I knew what to expect.  Never in a million years would I push any wattage through this thing.

When I wiggled the wires a number of them came lose of their own accord, cold solder joints.
Here is the inside of the box. Wow.

In my office resides a desk, with several different apparatuses on it.  From state of the art to antique, I still listen to and ‘mess’ with them on occasion.  You see I always appreciate the glow from the dial light of old shortwave radios.  I wanted a way to control the RF from my antenna to the different devices without messing with cables.

The name of this device is miss-leading, and I am confident if put to the test, they would call it a ‘name’ and say they never meant it to handle 1000 watts. With the wording CB in the advertisement, they could argue the illegality of using more than 12 watts PEP ergo ‘what were you doing with this thing?’

A smart person could take them to task, in that this thing would perform miserably at 27mhz.

Whoever designed it had a handle on DC but not AC.  The integrity of the 50 ohms impedance is violated, making this a horrible device even for switching between receivers.  Again I knew what to expect when I spent the $20.  Why then did I buy it?

IMG_5771

Real coaxial switches have the same essential components, they are just well thought out.   If you look at the contact on the switch, you can tell that any kind of wattage would burn the connections and or arc over to the next.  In its original construction, I would not even use it for low wattage use.

Below you can see how I modified it with coax and common grounds.  One last modification is to add a ground lug to it, so I can ground the box to earth ground.

IMG_5774

Enjoy your hobbies, and be very wary of crap from the Far East.  While it is all made there, ‘for the most part,’ some companies have a reputation at stake, while some just want to sell cheap junk.

In its original form, it was just that, junk.

-Best

Scott

 

Media Bias

Media Bias

 

Today in the new, the President’s legal team wrapped up their case.  By all accounts, they should move to acquit and get back to the business of the people.

What we are not hearing about in the media is a possible pandemic.  To date, 131 people have died from the coronavirus.  What they have not reported on is the coronavirus is and has been a problem in dogs, and the Chinese eat dogs.

Viruses mutate, so it is no surprise that ingesting dogs might have something to do with how it began.

If it indeed has mutated to now be transmitted human to human, the number of 131 deaths of 1-28-2020 will be higher by 1-29-2020.  Depending upon the veracity of the disease, the amount will increase logarithmically.

Why the US is still accepting flights from China is questionable, but here is the kicker, as we are a very mobile society, the virus could quickly become a worldwide pandemic in no time.

Of course, the mainstream media is focused on calling Trump supporters Credulous Rubes.

Since CNN pays to have all airports only have CNN on its televisions, one might think that they would fulfill the role of ‘actual news’ instead of meddling in the upcoming elections.

Another story that is very important is the Chinese spy ring that we have captured in the US.  No, you didn’t hear about it because it does not fit the hate trump narrative. From a Harvard professor to students sneaking technology and biochemical research out of the country to China, should have made the news.  It didn’t.’ But we know that John Bolton is writing a book and someone alleged that he leaked something to the New York Times.

You didn’t hear that the Democratic Party is falling apart, and they don’t have a good strategy nor a qualified candidate.  You don’t know that Joe Biden should not be running nor even driving, because of his mental state, they don’t like Warren and they certainly know that the Socialist Bernie Sanders cannot beat Trump, so they are pushing Bloomberg to the top using lots of money to purchase air time to attack Trump on made-up numbers and so forth.

You didn’t hear any of that because they are too busy on their campaign to destroy Trump by death with a thousand cuts.   By attacking his ‘Credulous Rubes or the Deplorable’s, which are too stupid to know that they should not be trusted with the vote. Those with money and power hope to keep 65 million of us silent, while they go after Trump on made-up facts.

You might not have heard that once again, the yapping heads on CNN think it would be improper for Trump to give the State of the Union Address as then the American people would hear his voice.  This whole Impeachment thing has been about destroying his credibility and swaying people in the electorate who think Socialism is a good thing.

Yes, the media is the enemy of the republic and is part of the left-wing crazies who ilk, like them, has destroyed country after country, while raping their people, resources, and wealth.  In short, these people are not your friends, on your side or have your back etc.  They are out for what they can get from you while promising you the world.

There are no free lunches and no free anything in this world.  Someone paid for it.

It is time we demand Term Limits be on the ballot for all officials.

It is time we create an accountability law for the media.  If they profess to be a journalist, they must damned well act like it.

Stalin said the sharpest tool in his weaponry was the written word.  With CNN and social media, we have no idea if the trolls from other countries or the MSM is a more significant threat to our democracy.

#silentnomore

#termlimits

 

The Old Gray Mare Ain’t What She Used to Be

The Old Gray Mare Ain’t What She Used to Be

This might seem like a blog about horses or livestock but we will be talking about technology, and how to breathe new life in to your old computers.

In 1946 they designed the ENIAC to be the end all be all in technology.  Twenty minutes of Computer time would replace over 240 man hours where calculations were concerned.  The economic model fell apart with the amount of man hours needed to maintain the computer, not to mention the parts, ‘tubes’ and the energy needed to power it.  

Today in this modern era of technology we have something known as Hardware Asset Management.  If your CIO gives you a blank stare if you talk with him or her about it, consider hiring a new one.

CFO’s hate surprises. Without asset management one quickly learns there are no good surprises in business.

The modern day desktop has a life cycle of five years and the laptop, three.  What if there was a way to extend that life cycle for a minimum investment?

They rate components in computers in something known as MTBF or Mean Time between Failures.  Notice that does not ‘if it fails, but when.’

Looking at the different components within a computer, one of the most fragile and arguable important is the hard drive.  Next would be the power supply, and any moving parts, which would be the fans, drives and cd-rom.

How do we mitigate this to an acceptable level of risk, and push the envelope out one to two or more years?

Normal physical maintenance should be at the top of every ‘engineers’ duties.
·         Visiting with the users looking for clues about what they are dealing with.
·         Visual inspections of how the machines are installed and cared for.
·         Regular dusting of the CPU and other fans looking or listening for bearings, etc.
·         Frayed cables or broken tabs on network cables.
·         Non-authorized software.

Managers of those individuals should be mindful of updates, security and so on.  License compliance is part of Software Asset management and not in the scope of this document.

Now what about extending the life cycle of a computer?

The secret is SSD drives.  As developers constantly up the requirements for applications to perform, we cast aside perfectly viable computers for newer hardware.

What if? 

What if we could solve some of those issues with a simple upgrade? SSD Drives are under $100 for a Terabyte drive.  A disk duplicator cost around $40 or certainly less than one hundred dollars.

Taking out the hard drive, placing it in the source compartment of the duplicator and the new SSD drive in the target; in 4 hours’ time you have a solid state drive that is no longer subject to accidental jars such as in laptops.  More importantly than this, is the speed issue.  You also have a perfect clone of the original meaning, you have a backup should something happen.

SSD drives are much faster than regular hard drives and there are no moving parts.

The laptop I am writing this on, was a retired HP with an I 3 processor and 6 gig of ram.  One $100 drive later this laptop performs like a new one.  Yes, the Office applications are still 2010 but, I have Windows 10 and it runs just fine.
Boot up time went from over three minutes, to under thirty seconds.

Application loading time is incredible and if Windows needs to swap, it is swapping to memory and not a slow hard drive.

Bottom line, I have a perfectly good laptop pulled from the retirement pile, for $100 and four hours of my time.

Since the copy process is automatic, you put the two drives into the machine, hit copy and go do something else until it is finished.  Actual human hours involved were less than 20 minutes.
The old Gray Mare now is running like a colt, and I can save the money I would spend on a laptop and new software for something else.

For an individual this is an easy decision to make.  Multiply this by ten or a thousand employees.  Could your P&L use the extra boost?

Like always, I am a consultant and would be happy to visit with you about how you are doing business, and if there are ways to improve upon them.

Bio:
I was working with computers before Bill Gates was a household name, and Steve Jobs was still a criminal working out of his garage, designing and building ways to scam the phone company.  I met him while supporting Next Step Computers during one of my jobs years ago.
From before ‘Al Gore’ invented the internet, to performing disaster recovery strategies for large and small companies, I stay active. Reach out to me on Linked In, or through this blog.
-Best

 

Is the lowest price always your best option?

Is the lowest price always your best option?

 

From time to time, I share with you pearls of wisdom learned through the school of hard knocks.

We all do it.  We look for the best price on things from hotels to rental cars to stuff.  Consumables like food from reputable sources you might do better at a big box store.  When shopping for groceries, I pay attention to coupons vs., the added luxury of services that are offered.

Some stores are pushing the industry of shopping for groceries on-line. They do this by one checker open while ‘nudging’ you to take your selections to the self-checkout, which rarely work correctly.

Sam’s has probably one of the better systems. Using the bar code reader, one can efficiently facilitate their purchase, and I would add a giant asterisk to this statement.  I know few people who want to price, bag and pay for their things, only to be stalled exiting the building, waiting in a long line for some person to take forever to do an inventory of your items, and all of those people in front of you.   This, to me, is a bridge too far, especially when I already pay a membership fee.  All things considered, I will not renew.

While big-box stores killed the mom and pop businesses, so too will the likes of Amazon and other online services, kill bricks and mortar establishments?   The impetus for doing such things comes down to the P&L and morons seeking 15 dollars an hour salaries for entry-level jobs.  They obviously have stopped teaching economics in school, and they surely have stopped teaching critical thinking.

 

In my line of work, I provide several services.  One of them which is the reason for this blog is File Date Stamps.  I also offer other legacy products to municipalities and other businesses who use such things. I serve a dying industry, as we move to do everything electronically.

Leaving forensic computing and disaster recovery my next items to push, those two are also outsourced to other countries who can exploit people without unions and protestors to raise hell.

The Rapidprint and Widmer products have been around for well over thirty years.  Both are robust machines that serve many customers.  With minor attention to replacing ink ribbons and not knocking the things on the floor, they require little maintenance.  Some customers who use these hundreds of times a day, however, cause wear and tear that at some point needs to be addressed.

The year wheel last ten years and I have replaced year wheels in the same machines three-times and counting.  Where else can you purchase a machine that lasts over 30 years?

As a highly trained engineer, my company handles thousands of these clocks in a service capacity.  The catch is this.  Companies must make a profit, or we will not be around to service them.  I could teach someone how to repair them in hours, what takes decades is knowing from the very feel of the wheels if they are right or not.  From the look and sound of the imprint, I can tell you what is going on.  That expertize takes years.

I know of a customer through one of my vendors who purchased a machine online, at some cheap price.  The dealer is responsible for the warranty issues per our contract with the vendor.  That is part and parcel of how this all works.  They allow us a discount, and we must absorb the cost incurred with warranty issues… from the machines we sell!

This customer purchased this machine from some internet-only dealer and had an issue and was told to deal with the vendor.  Nope… not the way it works, and they were not happy.  I don’t blame them but… they looked for the lowest price and not reputation. Sending it to another vendor for repair, eating the cost, the machine broke once again sometime later.

Without going there to see if it is something they are doing, vs. a botched repair job, the vendor would have little way of knowing.  Offering to repair it for them at no charge, the customer balked at the cost of shipping it back to them.

Contacting me, who is in Texas, I told them I would provide the service at no charge, even though I did not sell the machine.  The idea behind that decision is to take care of the customer, and have that customer from then on.   Word of mouth is how I grow my business.  Can I do that for everyone… no?

Doubling down on the $20 shipping charge to get it to me, they are now in some stalemate.  The vendor offering to assist them did not sell it to them, and it is not even their brand of equipment. This vendor goes well out of their way to help customers with the same goal in mind, turn them into their customers.

The original seller is who they should be contacting, but of course, they don’t provide any service, so the customer’s ‘good deal’ has backfired, even though another vendor and I have offered to rescue them from their dilemma.

Is it wise to purchase a machine from some internet vendor that does not provide service?

“Do you feel lucky???”

A word about shipping…

Having intimate knowledge of the different carriers, your package, whether it is diapers or light bulbs, is dropped up to six feet several times during its voyage from the dealer to you.  The heavier the parcel, the more likely it is to be damaged.

As a rule, I insure packages sent by me.  I have had them crushed in the process.  One machine which was packaged in the factory shipping box, had the metal casting broken.  The problem is most customers are not aware of the claims process.

If you get a packaged that appears damaged, take pictures of everything before you open it, and then through the process.  If there is damage to the ‘item,’ you will need those pictures along with the original packaging to file a claim and get reimbursed.

On rare occasions, the jostling of the machine through the shipping process can cause internal damage.  If your new or repaired device does not function straight out of the box as intended, there is a good chance that in the process the ‘500-pound Gorilla’ got too exuberant.  Machines sent from my shop are bench tested for two weeks before they are shipped.  My percentage of warranted returns is less than 2%, and in every instance, it was due to shipping and handling issues.

In known bad areas of the country, I will double box the machine.  Please let us know if you suspect your postage, UPS or Fed X handlers employ the proverbial gorilla.  The cost of double-boxing is minimal, considering the frustration of getting a broken machine back from a sale or service.  We have all seen the video where the delivery person launches your package toward your door from over twenty feet away and leaves.  Those warehouses are hot or cold, and those people don’t have too much skin in the game.  Much like the baggage handlers at the airport, they don’t seem to care.

If you are in Louisiana, you probably remember this event from the picture above.

We very much enjoyed meeting those of you that were there and look forward to serving your needs without pestering you.

We are planning a tour of your state in the upcoming months.  Please take a look at my site for products and or services and let me know if you would like a visit.  www.timedok.com  Unlike most, I will not bother you if you don’t need what I offer.  As a businessman, I too have to screen calls and ignore the 866 numbers.

Most of my customer base is word of mouth, and that bodes well for what I do.  I will go the extra mile for my customers… If you would like that kind of service, check us out… It is DOK with a K!.

 

Cheers!

Who is Steering the Ship?

Who is Steering the Ship?

 

  • Is the captain of a company the CEO?
  • Is it the board of directors?
  • Is it the Stockholders?

I would argue yes and no.  The customer most probably guides or “tugs” your ship through the turbulent waters of the industry you are in, more than you might think.

Since the driving force is out of your complete control, can your ship stand up to the pressures of high winds or traversing into territories which are uncharted? Is there a reef ahead waiting to break the spine of your vessel? Will Sirens lure your men into a false state of complacency?

While need necessitates the possible paths that you as the captain choose to follow, the infrastructure and robust nature of your data systems will be part of the viability of your success.

Companies must be robust enough to change directions or take on more massive task as the customer demands.  As an SME in Data processing (Information Systems) and Disaster Recovery, frequently I find through the audit process that the ship is traversing the waters without a rudder, and an engine that is held together with duct tape and bailing wire.

Some of the critical problems in this industry are human nature, underperforming CIO’s, and lackadaisical staff. Other issues often include a CIO taking on the job of CFO.

Encouraged by upper management to rain in cost, the CIO might look for ways to cut the budget using poor quality sheets, and used line, taken from derelict ships that have already made their way to Davy Jones locker.

When the proverbial fork in the road or in keeping with the metaphor, when the winds change, will your company be ready?

Often, Board Members or CEO’s look at disaster recovery like insurance.  It is much more than some policy that you purchase.

When you bring in a person or company, who specializes in Disaster Recovery many things happen.

The first two are a risk analysis and an audit of how you currently do business regarding Data processing. The scope, of course, can be more than just your data processing capabilities and often it is expanded to include all functions of your company.

Depending on the size of your company and its complexity this could be a project for a consultant, or it might include one or more FTE’s that maintain your ships viability into perpetuity.

While the Risk Analysis may or may not be a surprise to you, the audit will almost certainly be a surprise.  Nobody wants someone poking around in their business.

Frequently those in charge of the department will make themselves scarce.  While weekly meetings and deliverables are a must, I often find that an audit shakes things up, and that can be a good thing.  This process also exposes any weak links in the proverbial chain.

Your IT department is a dynamic part of your company and often is the engine which drives your ship. While frequently looked at as a cost center, without it, your company I dare say would die on the vine or flounder.

In the final examination of your company, we will discover if you are ready for the next opportunity or the next fork in the road.  We might also learn that you are treading water.

When the prevailing winds shift directions, will your ship be able to adjust?

Smooth Sailing!

© All Rights Reserved 2018

Scott Taylor

Apple Update: Do you want to do it now or later, or never?

Apple Update: Do you want to do it now or later, or never?

 

This notice used to be no cause for alarm. Having been in the computer business for some time updates were always rather innocuous.

Novell was the first program that I dealt with that you had to read each and every “readme” and decide if you indeed wanted this patch or that.

Patches were not mandatory they were written for specific bugs or concerns.  The problem with patches like that are, they can only be applied during a “service window.”

A service window is a time of the day and week when ordinary people are sleeping or not thinking about work. Holidays were great times for service windows as applying a patch would be the least disruptive for business functions.  Midnight to five AM Saturday night into Sunday morning was usually a good time for a service window.

While Microsoft has taken the guesswork out of service windows, it would seem that Apple has as well.

You turn on your PC, and it says, applying updates, please stand by.

No matter how urgent your need is the updates will commence, and you will be patient.

With this latest phone update that crippled my one-year-old phone, I am a little gun-shy about taking any more updates from Apple. I am thrilled that they are going to repatriate billions of dollars bringing it into the US as well as providing jobs for Americans, I am not so excited with the fact that my phone is barely usable. The old 4S that I did not update is faster than my 6S.

To say that this practice of slowing down older product is reprehensible, does not begin to cover it.

I was seriously thinking about looking at an Android-based smartphone when I received an Apple watch for Christmas. Great Timing!

Now I have a watch that tells me when to stand and breath but works very slowly as far as my phone is concerned.

My first iPad worked just fine until I was going to give it to an older gentlemen to watch Netflix on or read Kindle stuff.  I reset it and managed to brick it as they don’t have any software that works with that OS, and they don’t have the version of OS for that iPad available.  Resetting it from a usable tablet to original killed it.

I don’t know why they cannot make the server smart enough to detect which product you have and offer you an IOS or apps that will work on that product?  Oh, wait I do to know.  They want you to buy more hardware!

I met Steve years ago while supporting Next Step Computers.  I wonder how he would feel about what is happening today.

I would imagine he would be ok with it.  Like the Schick razor they want to sell you new blades, or in this case more product into perpetuity.

I would think that consumer watchdog groups would be all over this nonsense. A thousand dollars for a phone is over the top, one should get more than a year out of it.

This Pc that I am writing from today, I built seven years ago.  When I designed it, I put in components that were capable of playing the most aggressive video game of the day.  Why?  Here we are seven years later with the latest version of Windows 10, and it is still plenty fast.

An important note to keep in mind.  Hardware is measured in MTBF which means Mean Time Between Failure.  Hard drives die!  Fans Die!  Power supplies Die!  Moral of this story is to keep your files backed up.  If your data are only on your PC, you are living dangerously.

By files I mean data.  Document and pictures, email PST files, excel documents and so forth.

Whether it is an apple update or windows update keep in mind that I have seen Microsoft updates brick computers.

As far as Apple is concerned, I am in hopes that they will correct their error and think twice about that kind of activity in the future.  To screw up their brand in such a cheap way is beneath them in so many ways.  If you want people to purchase, the latest greatest, make it stand head and shoulders above the rest. You might also work on the price!

-Best