- Comments: 0
- Written on: April 5th, 2013
As technology gets smaller and thinner, there is a serious temptation by manufacturers to make computers more and more difficult to repair. For example, yesterday I was computing away on my couch with my Asus UX31A Ultrabook until it just quit suddenly and powered off.
The unit is still under the manufacturer warranty, but Asus is a stickler about keeping paperwork like purchase receipts. I own a computer repair company and we usually archive these invoices for customers, but I bought this one on my own and I am terrible with paperwork. I search for about 30 minutes for my purchase receipt before I gave up and took matters into my own hands.
There are several reports on the web about these technological marvels just up and quitting. They are amazing when the work but it is beyond frustrating when they just quit for no reason. When mine quit I assumed my battery had died, so I grabbed grabbed my AC adapter and hooked it up. Nothing.
Pressing the power button got no response at all. To add insult to injury, after about five minutes the light on the AC adapter indicated the unit had a fully charged battery.
Pressing and holding the power button did nothing. This unit does not have a manual “pin prick” button to reset the system.
Elsewhere online the problem could be you get a power light and the Asus unit will not boot. Same problem solved here.
Online there is a lot of worry and gnashing of teeth over fears that opening your Asus UX31 will void your warranty. While it is true if you go stabbing around with a screwdriver and destroy the thing your warranty will be void. Also keep in mind if you elect to utilize your warranty and you have the proper paperwork you will probably be without your laptop for anywhere between a week and a month.
Instead you need to grab a small TORX screwdriver set. Asus didn’t use regular phillips head screws in the base of the unit, so a special screwdriver is needed. Don’t try to make the wrong tool for the job work. You can buy a set of TORX bits and a screwdriver on Amazon for about $10. Get the right tools for the job.
STEP 1: Remove the screws from the base of your Ultrabook. This is pretty straight forward stuff, and if I would have been thinking I would have snapped pictures while I had mine apart. Don’t worry though, you are just a few screws and a plug away from victory.
There are 10 TORX screws holding the back plate on the Ultrabook. All of them are the same size except two. The two screws in the center of the unit near the screen hinge are longer. Make sure these two screws get in the correct holes on reassembly. The rest are interchangeable. Remove the back plate to expose the soft underbelly of your rebellious Ultrabook.
STEP 2: Unplug the batter from the main board. You will see a large black mass secured by three screws. This is your Ultrabook’s battery. No need to unscrew it form the unit. Leave it as it is and focus instead on disconnecting it from the main board.
Toward the upper left corner of the battery you will notice a small row of multicolored wires that terminate in a black plastic block on the bottom left corner of the main board. You need to disconnect this form the main board CAREFULLY!
Asus was kind enough to place a black plastic loop around the wires (not the harness). From looking it appears you could just pull the loop and get the plug out. DON’T DO IT. The loop is there for assembly easy – not disassembly. If you pull the loop you could tear the wires from the harness, rendering your battery useless.
Instead, use a very small screwdriver to pop each edge of the the black hard plastic harness upward. The plug lifts straight up. No twisting, no flipping. It comes straight up. It will resist. Mine took minor upward pressure on a jewelers screwdriver at each corner to GENTLY pop it up and free from the main board.
STEP 3: Plug in your AC Adapter. Once you have the battery unplugged, you have effectively removed all power from the unit (a power cycle procedure in normal circumstances).
Plug in your AC Adapter, open the unit and attempt to turn it on. It should power up! If it does not, this article will not solve your issue because it lies either in the AC adapter, a broken DC jack, or the unit’s main board its self.
Once you have verified the unit is passing its POST test and you get video on the screen, unplug it.
STEP 4: Reassemble the Unit. Follow the previous steps in reverse. Plug in the battery again (a straight downward pressure). Replace the back plate and the screws using your TORX screwdriver. REMEMBER!! There are two longer screws. These go near the hinge in the center two holes. The rest of the screws are interchangeable.
Now hook up the AC adapter again and confirm the unit works properly.
STEP 5: Update the BIOS. This happened because something ASUS made isn’t working right. When that happens and it is discovered after the fact, manufacturers issue software updates to correct the problem called BIOS updates. My UX31A unit had 4 BIOS revisions newer than the original BIOS installed on it.
Visit support.asus.com and check for a newer BIOS than the one you are running. I am not going to explain this part because it is tricky and you can brick your unit. Bricking an Ultrabook that won’t boot is one thing, but now that your does, I don’t want to be responsible for bricking it
Asus provides BIOS update instructions on the website if you are so inclined.
Leave a comment below with questions or to let me know if this worked for your unit like it did for mine!
Schrock Innovations Testifies Agaiunst LB 454 – Another Bad E-Waste Recycling Bill That Needs to Be Defeated
- Comments: 0
- Written on: February 27th, 2013
The Natural Resources Committee of the Nebraska State Legislature will be considering LB 454 tomorrow to create a new government bureaucracy to handle the recycling of electronics waste like old computers and televisions.
This is the third attempt in a decade to get this bill on to the floor of the legislature, and like the two before it this one is fatally flawed. Below is a transcript of the testimony I will be submitting tomorrow at the Legislature. If you would like to register your opposition to this bill you can do so by emailing a note to the Natural Resources Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read LB 454 here.
To whom it may concern:
Schrock Innovations, a local Lincoln computer sales and service company would like to inform the committee that we are in opposition to LB 454 for a number of reasons.
We believe LB 454 will be bad for local businesses, will actually cause a net elimination of private sector jobs, and will not be able to accomplish its stated goals because the fees collected for the tonnage of electronics produced will continually decrease as devices become smaller and lighter while the costs of recycling the existing e-waste in the state will remain constant.
Additionally, LB 454 is completely unnecessary because the private sector is already taking steps to deal with the e-waste problem.
For example, Schrock Innovations already recycles 4 computers for every unit we sell into the marketplace during the course of normal business. Additionally, we hold annual e-waste collection drives at our own expense, offer trade in value for old systems that have no value to us, and offer free recycling services at all three of our locations.
As you may or may not be aware, there is little margin in new computer sales. The additional taxes and regulations imposed by LB 454 would force Schrock Innovations to reconsider the local sale of new computers and the seven full-time positions that are required to order components, construct systems, and install them in our customers’ homes could be eliminated.
The aim of LB 454 as we understand it is to shift the economic responsibility of recycling e-waste onto the manufacturers who produce it. We do not believe that tonnage of electronic devices presently sold in Nebraska would generate sufficient revenue to fund LB 454’s lofty goals and that the recycling program will rapidly become a burden to the state’s general fund.
For example, in 2000 the Metropolitan government of Nashville and Davidson County in Tennessee was force to close down a similar e-waste program because it had exhausted its annual budget in a mere 24 operating hours. As a result, the government was forced to take direct control of the recycling activities of the program, damaging the local economy even further by eliminating the roles of the existing commercial recyclers.
LB 454 is predicated on the belief that somehow manufacturers are not doing anything to resolve the e-waste problem on their own. This is incorrect.
Manufacturers, including Schrock Innovations have made strides in recent years to reduce the toxic chemicals in electronic products. That effort, coupled with a natural drive toward smaller, lighter, and thinner electronic devices is continually reducing the landfill impact of e-waste in states across the country.
LB 454 is at best another example of a vein hope that somehow government will find a way to make an economically bad idea somehow plausible. E-waste recycling is best left to the private sector without the interference of a government bureaucracy.
- Comments: 2
- Written on: December 18th, 2012
There is a black-hat cyber hacker threatening widespread bank account theft against US victims on a level never before achieved and there are some things you need to do to make sure your computer (and you bank account) stay out of what could be a record-setting cyber-heist.
A Russian hacker using an online handle that roughly translates to “Thief-in-Law” intends to steal a whole lot more than the silverware your Aunt Betty tried to steal after dinner last Christmas.
New Private Malware Testing
This hacker has developed his own malware and has successfully conducted several “trial-runs” infecting more than 500 computers with minimal effort. The latest trial concluded at the end of November 2012.
Thief-in-Law publicly claims that he is in Russia, that no one in the US can touch him and that he is going to steal millions of dollars from US banks sometime between now and the spring.
Banks have been alerted by Anti-Virus giant McAfee has issues warnings to banks and provided new signature files that they claim can detect the viruses malware.
Confusion About Attack Target
While McAfee is providing definitions to protect banks, Thief-in-Law is infecting individual peoples computers with malware.
My best educated guess is that the Russian hacker is infecting individual machines looking for online banking passwords. His software reportedly can even answer your challenge question if it knows the answer. To get that information he needs access to your personal computer.
With that information the hacker may be planning on using a list of established account numbers with verified balances. With this list he knows who to target when (or if) he successfully breeches bank security.
What you Can Do to Protect Yourself
There are some specific steps you can take to protect yourself, your computer, and your bank account from this attack.
- Update your Antivirus – If you are not running Norton 360, I strongly recommend you obtain a copy as soon as possible.
- Download all Required and Recommended Windows Updates – Many people allow Windows to install automatic updates, but they never click on Start and then All Programs and select Windows Update to see the recommended updates. Some of these are just as important and they should be installed.
- Install Secure Updater from www.secureupdater.com – Secure Updater is free for the first 14 days. That gets you through the Holiday season with one less thing to worry about. This program updates all of the third party applications on your computer that cyber criminals exploit to gain access to your data.
- Change your online banking password and challenge question – Of course it is recommended you do this often, but if you haven’t rotated your online banking passwords, challenge questions, and challenge images, this is a great reason to do so.
- Comments: 5
- Written on: November 25th, 2012
It is no secret that businesses will be entering an uncertain year in 2013. No one rally knows what the tax rates will be, how much health insurance will really cost, or how it will impact consumer spending on everything else.
Smart businesses will get as lean as they can before this period of uncertainty becomes a period of certainty and it is too late to adapt quickly. One of the things you can cut in 2013 that will save you a bundle of money is your old, outdated Yellow Pages advertising.
Where is Your Phone Book?
Ask yourself a question… Where is your most recent phone book? Do you have it? Do you use it for anything other than a booster seat at Thanksgiving dinner?
If you do have a recent phone book, when is the last time you genuinely used it to find anything important?
The truth is that the Internet is so widely available on such a wide assortment of devices it is actually faster to Google your local Pizza Hut on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop than it is to locate the phone book and look them up.
Like the buggy whip, the typewriter, the floppy disk and the Polaroid camera, the Yellow Pages was huge in its time, but is now nothing more than a novelty that collects dust somewhere or ends up in a landfill.
As fewer and fewer people with disposable income use the phone book, its benefit to your organization decreases dramatically – more than likely past the point where it makes fiscal sense to pay to play.
What Does Disposable Income Have to Do With Yellow Pages Advertising?
Demographics and disposable income are the two most important statistics in Yellow Page advertising.
Lets start with demographics. Who is using the yellow pages and who prefers the web? According to the Local Search Association, a yellow pages trade organization, 56% to 68% of those surveyed indicated they had used either the print yellow pages OR the internet yellow pages (like how they lumped the two together?)
A second statistic that might be more useful from the same survey indicated that 70% to 84% of those age 54 or younger use the search engines FIRST. They may end up on a yellow pages website eventually, but they start their search with Google and not yellow pages.com more than 75% of the time.
The only demographic who used the search engines less were those ages 55+. Usage of search engines drops to an average of about 42% while the use of the printed book or direct links to the yellow page website held steady. Assuming that these customers were adverse to using the search engines, it is safe to assume if you are looking to reach customers aged 55+ who do not have a relationship with an existing top-of-mind vendor you might get some traction with the printed yellow pages in your area, depending on industry.
With that said, that doesn’t mean that the yellow pages is a lock for reaching those 55 and older (who coincidentally are responsible for 55% of all package purchases and have 75% of the nation’s wealth (source).
Consider these facts about these cash-rich 55+ customers:
- 89% of those 65 or older have a personal email account (so they do use technology)
- 1/3 of all web users are over 50
- 36% have a smartphone and half of those use it to check email once a day
- The Internet is the most important source of info for those 55+ before making a durable goods purchase
- The top four online websites for people over 60 are Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube
- 72% of those 55+ shop online
By themselves these numbers indicate that retiring Baby Boomers are using technology to get information and that necessarily means they are using the printed yellow pages less and less.
The most shocking fact that should have yellow page sales reps quaking in their boots is the rate of Internet adoption by boomers. Consider the fact that from 2004 to 2009 the number of 65+ internet users increased 55%. The web is only going to get more popular and that necessarily means the printed yellow pages will become less and less popular.
A Case Study in Failure
In 2011 Schrock Innovations Computer Company took out a yellow pages advertisement in the Dex phone book in Omaha, NE. The advertising bill came in at $1,600 per month.
We asked for a metered phone number so we could track the results of our ad through Telemetrics.
At the end of the year our final Telemetrics report indicated that we had received 24 phone calls for the entire year. Assuming that the same person did not call twice, that breaks down to a cost of $800 PER LEAD!!
Those were not confirmed customers – those were just leads. For all I know they could have been wrong-number hang-ups.
You ad could be performing just as bad as our ad did, but how would you ever know? Without a metered number you simply can’t track yellow pages leads.
Business owners who can’t track results desperately want to believe that $1,600 a month was not wasted. There must have been SOME results that helped our company, right?
The answer is probably not. We would have probably gotten more use out of our $19,200 if we stacked $20 bills in our bathroom and used them for toilet paper. Sad but true. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
How to Replace Yellow Pages Results
Although Schrock’s experience would indicate the yellow pages are a bad bet, there are areas where the yellow pages are more effective than in others.
If a business pulls out of the yellow pages and does not do something else to replace the lost leads that business may be more profitable, but revenues will go down. Revenue is cash flow and in a tough economic year falling cash-flow can be a problem.
The answer is to shift your marketing dollars away from yellow pages and then refocus a much smaller spend to get better results using the new medium that everyone is rapidly adopting. Go where the eyes are – go online.
Don’t get me wrong, Google AdWords is expensive and doesn’t really work for every industry. That’s why we recommend avoiding any ad or placement buying scheme that guarantees your ad will be seen. First of all, it is just as expensive as the print yellow pages if you add up the overall costs of maintaining the ad. Secondly, why pay for something that you can get for free?
By using basic, white-hat SEO (search engine optimization) techniques, most businesses can easily dominate LOCAL searches for their products or services. There are tons of articles online about how to get your web pages to rank, so I won’t rehash that here. The important thing to remember is that is you have good content, a winning sales model that has a compelling hook and upsale opportunities you can’t go wrong.
Save your money and ditch the Yellow Pages. Trust me, I am glad I did. Monthly budget for two phone books back in our bank account = $33,600 annually.
- Comments: 1
- Written on: November 20th, 2012
Every year my company, Schrock Innovations, builds an amazing computer called the Holiday Special that we sell at our cost. Because we sell them at cost we have to limit the quantity to 150 units and we have to watch component prices very, very closely.
Typically we price out the components for our Holiday Special PC in October, build the prototypes and start the sale in November each year . We do our best to order the hardware for the computers in 150 quantity lots to reduce the cost per unit and shipping costs as much as possible.
At times there are pieces of hardware that do not offer quantity discounts or efficiencies when shipped in large lots. These items are ordered on an as needed basis as units are sold throughout the sale.
Non-Technical Components Increasing in price
Take for example a simple plastic tray designed to allow a 2.5″ solid state hard drive to be mounted in a PC. In early October that tray cost about $4.99 in the retail marketplace on Newegg.com.
Today that same tray is retailing for $6.99 after a coupon code. That is a 40% increase in just a month and a half!
The prices of more technical components like hard drives are coming down, but are still higher than they were before the Thailand flooding that leveled much of the world’s hard drive production capacity about a year ago.
Smaller On-Hand Inventory Levels
In addition to slightly higher component prices in the fourth quarter, I have also noticed much more restrictive quantity limitations and smaller inventory levels at our suppliers.
Most of the hardware that Schrock buys for new computers is ordered in 30-100 unit lots to achieve the best efficiencies in per unit pricing and shipping costs. In some cases there are special offers or discounts available to the general public on websites like Tiger Direct or Newegg that offer lower promotional pricing.
While it is common for these companies to place a restriction on the number of units that can be ordered at the lower price, the maximum order quantities have dropped form 10, to five, and as low as 2 in some recent cases.
Even when we are ordering in larger quantities we are often waiting up to 30 days to receive monitors, cases, speakers, keyboards and the like because wholesalers are just not carrying as much inventory as they used to in the past.
While I am not an economist, it would be tough to avoid the fact that at least a portion of the price increases we are seeing are the result of a weakening dollar when compared to other currencies (aside from the Euro at the moment).
I think it is pretty safe to say that manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are all waiting to see what will happen with taxes and budgets in the coming year. In the mean time everyone seems to be playing the “how close can I shave it game.”
Sometimes when you cut things too close and something unexpected happens, it can mean a world of monetary hurt. Unfortunately there are a LOT of threats lurking in the darkness ahead that is 2013.
- Comments: 1
- Written on: November 19th, 2012
I was informed late last week that for the second year in a row that the Schrock Innovations Computer Company was voted the Best Computer Repair Service Center in Omaha!
Greg with Omaha Magazine called my Service Center on Thursday with some “good news” as he described it.
To vote in the best of Omaha participants were asked to create an account on the best of Omaha website, confirm their email address, vote in multiple categories, and then submit their ballot. All in all it is a pretty involved process.
Then Greg told me that Schrock won by such a wide margin of votes, we could have won just about any category in the entire competition!
While we certainly have no designs on Best of Omaha for florists or care dealerships, it is an amazing feeling to know so many of our customers and listeners took the time to vote for Schrock in the Best of Omaha Competition.
While it is always nice to win awards (it sure beats losing!) awards are always a reflection of your past performance. Schrock Innovations is a customer service-focused company with the goal of making our customers’ technology do what they need it to do when they need it done. Our mission will not change in 2013.
Thank you for your loyal support in Omaha and Lincoln!
- Comments: 7
- Written on: July 8th, 2012
On Monday morning the world is going to end for computer users. The Internet will finally buckle under the strain of all of those videos, searches, and knowledge of questionable value. It is the Internet’s doomsday.
Now that we have all of the drama out of the way, the storied DNS changer virus is going to be the biggest non-story of the year. If you are not familiar with the DNS changer virus, here’s a brief re-cap to get you up to speed on the story you will hear WAYYY to much about tomorrow:
What is the DNS Changer Virus:
A few guys in Estonia were sitting around one day trying to figure out a way to make money on the Internet (or in this case off of the Internet). They came up with the bright idea of creating a virus that would redirect people’s web browsers to their pages instead of taking the users to the pages they intended to visit.
Imagine a scenario where you attempt to go to your bank’s website. If I am running the DNS changer virus, I can see that you are attempting to go to your bank’s website and I can instead silently redirect you to another website that looks JUST LIKE your bank’s website. Once you enter your username and password I store them on my computer to exploit later and then pass you on to your bank’s real website.
You might assume you entered a password wrong, type it in again, and get access this time. No big deal to the end user – until my Estonian friends start scamming a reported $14 Million from victims world-wide!
The FBI busted up the ring in 2006, but all of those infected computers were still out there. When the ring was busted and they turned their computers off, tons of computers around the world could not access the Internet.
To help the victims infected with the virus, the FBI brought the DNS changer servers back online – only without the nasty stuff) so people’s computers would function on the Internet again. The FBI is taking that server offline after providing infected computers with Internet access for 6 YEARS. The server goes offline on Monday.
How Many People Are Still Infected?
It was estimated that in may about 355,000 computers world-wide were infected with DNS changer 6 years later. About 77,000 of those computers are in the US (come on people! 6 years with no anti-virus software?!?!)
This virus also infected a number of wireless routers in 2006, using the router to redirect traffic while your computer might scan completely clean with anti-virus software.
How Can I Tell if I am Infected?
Simple! Just visit the website set up to help people get their systems cleaned up. If you get a green background you are good to go. A red background means your computer or your wireless router are infected and you probably can’t get on the Internet anymore.
What Kind of Damage are We Looking at Monday?
The damage from the virus will be contained to the 77,000 computers and/or networks that are infected. The infection is no longer spreading.
With that said, the real damage is going to come from the volume of phone calls we get at Schrock Innovations. If anyone has Internet trouble tomorrow they are going to think they are infected. Sounds like a great time for Time Warner or Cox to do some scheduled maintenance and freak everyone out
- Comments: 10
- Written on: June 21st, 2012
I was on the Omaha Morning Blend yesterday talking about some basic maintenance tips you can do at home between your 6-month Preventative Maintenance Checkups.
Take a look at the video below for some awesome tips!
- Comments: 8
- Written on: May 19th, 2012
Every week in our Service Centers customers bring their ailing computers in for repairs. Many of the repairs we see on a weekly basis are repetitive and pretty easy to diagnose.
In this video we address some of the most common issues we repaired this week in our Service Centers. Have you ever:
- Had a laptop battery that would not charge?
- Had a computer that would not turn on?
- Dropped your laptop and cracked the screen?
- Had a drive C error message?
- Had a USB port on your computer stop working?
If you have experienced any of these problems, watch the video and see what we do in the Service Center to get our customers’ computer up and running.
- Comments: 5
- Written on: May 11th, 2012
This morning Schrock Innovations was recognized by the US Small Business Administration as the #1 business in Congressional District 2 (Omaha, NE).
Each year the SBA presents awards to small businesses in each congressional district. Schrock Innovations was compared against other businesses based on sales and employment growth as well as involvement in the local community.
We discussed the award last Monday on the Omaha Morning Blend:
I want to thank all of my staff and employees who made this award possible, as well as the customers across Nebraska and Iowa who trust Schrock Innovations for their computer and technology needs.