iSlate Won’t Be a Low-Price Device

  • Comments: 29
  • Written on: January 6th, 2010

There has been a lot of chatter all over the web regarding Apple’s expected announcement of the iSlate tablet device on or around January 26, 2010.

There are a lot of people with a lot of ideas about what the iSlate tablet is, what product niche it is designed to fill in Apple’s product line, what its features will be, and how much it will cost.  While no one knows the specifics yet, I believe a lot of the rumors are slightly off-base.

Everyone is wrapped up in what Apple has ordered from suppliers, what the iPhone can do, Apple’s supposed need to compete with netbooks, and pure desire for something new from Steve Jobs.

Many of the people turning the crank on the rumor machine are fogetting some of the known Apple quantities:

  1. Steve Jobs doesn’t chase market niches – he redefines them
  2. Steve jobs has publicly stated that netbooks are substandard hardware
  3. Apple risks cheapening its brand by selling a sub-$1000 computing device
  4. This is a lifestyle device – people will not buy it because the need it.  People will need it because they want it

Rather than getting all caught up in the expected specifications, whether or not it has an OLED screen, or attempting to decode vague requests to iPhone application developers for more high-resolution apps, I am going to make three general Thorstradamus predictions:

  1. There is a distinct possibility that the late January announcement is about an improvement in the iPhone.  I peg this at a 60% chance.  Apple is about the software & apps, and they’re just not there yet.
  2. If the announcement is about an Apple tablet, it will cost more than $1200.  It may be re-released later at a lower cost as Apple did with the iPhone
  3. I do not think Apple will launch a device designed to compete with $400 netbooks EVER

What do you think?  Post a comment below to go on the record.  Let’s see who is right on this one!

http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/23/apple-planning-event-for-january-with-high-res-iphone-or-small/

City of Lincoln Thanks Schrock Innovations for Recycling Commitment

  • Comments: 12
  • Written on: January 5th, 2010

City of Lincoln NebraskaLast week Schrock Innovations received a letter from the City of Lincoln regarding our support of America Recycles Day.

Each year students and businesses across Lincoln pledge to commit themselves to recycle more in the coming year.  Each pledge is placed in a box and a drawing is conducted.

As we have done in the past, we donated a computer system to this year’s pledge winner.  Here is the text from the letter we received from Gene Hanlon, Lancaster County’s Recycling Coordinator:

Dear Thor:

I’m writing to express our sincere appreciation to you for your support of America Recycles Day and donating one of your computers for our Community Grand Prize Drawing.  Your donation of the computer provided a valuable incentive for people to take the time to complete a pledge to increase their recycling efforts or buy recycled products.

This year we received over 1,900 pledges from Lincoln and Lancaster County residents to step up their recycling efforts.  I don’t believe this would have been possible without your support.  I hope you found your involvement in the America Recycles Day campaign beneficial.

Best wishes to you and your family during this holiday season.  I hope that the New Year brings much happiness to you and your family.

Schrock Innovations Selected as a Google Favorite Place

  • Comments: 12
  • Written on: January 4th, 2010

Google Favorite PlacesSchrock Innovations received a letter last week that our Lincoln Service Center has been selected as one of 100,000 “Favorite Places” on Google.

The selection was based on how many people have sought out information about Schrock Innovations on Google.  That information includes reviews, requests for driving directions, and general search data.

Contained within the letter was a window decal for our Service Center as well as some statistics about how local Lincoln, Nebraska Google users were seeking out Schrock Innovations over the past 6 months:

  • An average of 14 people a month request driving directions to Schrock Innovations (pretty nice considering we are on one of the busiest intersections in Lincoln)
  • There were 942 requests for specific information about Schrock Innovations (coupons, reviews, etc.)
  • The majority of users who look into Schrock Innovations are looking for computer repair services

Gooogle Favorite Places is a sub component of Google Local Business Center.  I was unaware of this program until Google contacted us to let us know we had been selected.

If your business has not been selected, you can apply for consideration by signing up for and completing an entry in Google Local Business Center.

Schrock Innovations received a letter last week that our Lincoln Service Center has been selected as one of 100,000 “Favorite Places” on Google.

Schrock Innovations Hiring in Lincoln – We Need Another Mac/PC Tech

  • Comments: 4
  • Written on: December 18th, 2009

Schrock Innovations had an amazing 2009 in Lincoln and we need another technician to continue building on that success.

We posted an advertisement on Craigslist, and we ask that qualified candidates please apply on our website rather than in person or calling by phone.

What are we looking for?

We need a technician that is proficient with PC and Mac troubleshooting who can work alone in the field or in the service center as part of a team.

We are expanding our on-site hours to include weekends.  We have also taken on a umber of corporate clients in Lincon and Omaha who use Mac and we need more than one technician on staff to handle the workload.

We need a tech who already knows troubleshooting and is experienced with all versions of Windows and Mac OS.  Of course we will train on Schrock procedures, but we need someone who has the skills to do the job on day one for this position.

USB 110-volt Outlet an AWESOME Idea!

  • Comments: 15
  • Written on: December 9th, 2009

truepower_usb_poweroutletI saw this USB power outlet online and I honestly will be installing a couple of these in my home office!

These are standard 110-volt outlets with two additional USB ports built right in.  This would allow me to charge my iPhone, video camera, and the host of other USB devices I use in one convenient place!

They are a little pricey for outlets at $10 each, but cool nevertheless!

Six Essential Microsoft Updates Releasing Today – All Windows & Office Users Impacted

  • Comments: 14
  • Written on: December 8th, 2009

windows_logoMicrosoft is releasing six new updates today that will impact all Windows users in some way.

The updates, scheduled to be automatically downloaded and installed tonight on most Windows systems, patch severe security issues in Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, and Microsoft Office.  Because of the Internet Explorer 7 component, just about every Windows System made after 2001 will be impacted.

This set of updates will address a critical security flaw that could allow users to take control of your computer, so it is important you get these installed.

If your computer is having trouble installing updates for any reason, contact us in Lincoln or Omaha, or seek the assistance of a technician who can get them installed before your computer is infected.

Windows 7 Black Screen of Death
an Echo Chamber Hoax

  • Comments: 16
  • Written on: December 7th, 2009

black_screen_of_deathBeginning over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and continuing until recently, a report by security company named Prevx published a blog post stating tat a coming Windows Update will render millions of Windows 7 PCs inoperable suffering from a “Black Screen of Death.”

Today, ZDNet has published an article explaining the details and the time line of events that lead to industry giants like PC World Magazine picking up the story as fact.

After further investigation and a near heart attack at Microsoft, Prevx recanted the story and claimed they were not responsible for the damage that was caused to Microsoft by its initial report.Their statement reads:

Regrettably, it is clear that our original blog post has been taken out of context and may have caused an inconvenience for Microsoft.

According to ZDNet, it looks like Prevx’s initial report was titled with the headline, “Black Screen woes could affect millions on Windows 7, Vista and XP.”

Major Tech Publications Punked

Computer World and PC World Magazine noticed the headline and without waiting for any corroboration or comment from Microsoft, ran with the headline “Latest Microsoft patches cause black screen of death.”

The fact of the matter is that after investigation, there is no problem and this is a prime example of how the Internet echo chamber can lead to an inflated story – especially when there is competition to break the story first online where seconds matter to search engines.

No Takebacks, No Way

The most shameful thing of all is that PC World and Computer World both refuse to change the old headlines that they now know to be wrong.  That means they will be present in search engines for years to come, continuing to mislead and misinform the poor Windows 7 user with a VGA cable that fell out.

PC Performance May Not be What is Advertised – Welcome to Performance Throttling

  • Comments: 13
  • Written on: December 5th, 2009

Intel Core 2 DuoHave you ever wondered if your computer is giving you the actual speed and quickness that was advertised when you originally bought it?

In modern computers the advertised speed should really be considered the “up to” speed because few if any of the computers in the marketplace are actually giving you the advertised speed ratings – especially when they are being stressed with a difficult or time consuming task

What is PC Component Throttling?

It’s pretty easy to make PC component throttling sound more sinister than it is.  The bottom line is that your computer is engineered to protect its self.

Its pretty much common knowledge that many PC BIOS chips today will adjust fan speed to match the heat being generated by the processor.  This keeps the CPU cool under stress and prevents it from burning itself up.

The idea behind the technology (called SpeedStep in Intel based systems and Cool and Quiet in AMD based systems) is that to reduce the speed of the components in the computer to reduce heat when the fans are working at 100% and you are doing a really intense task like rendering video, playing a high-end game, or editing 50 high-resolution images in Photoshop at one time like my wife does.

If your computer is cooling at its maximum and that’s not enough, it will drop the speed until the temperature falls back to normal levels.

Why You Want / Don’t Want It

Views on PC Component throttling generally fall into two camps – high-performance junkies hate it because if it gets too hot they will just install more / better fans.

Average Joe users love it because there is literally no risk or burning up a processor or a motherboard because the computer was working too hard.

Throttling comes in extremely handy when dealing with notebook computers.  Notebook computers throttle performance for heat management like desktops, but also for power consumption.

Have you ever noticed that more of your CD burns fail when you are on battery?  Have you noticed that the speed of your computer drops by about 15% when you yank out that AC adapter?  These are al measures to save battery power.

How to Throttle Your Computer to Maximum Speed

If you are a performance junkie and you want to punch your computer’s potential speed through the roof it’s pretty easy to do.

** WARNING **

These instructions involve editing your BIOS settings.  The layout and available options contained within your BIOS< as well as the method of entering the BIOS will differ depending on the brand of computer you are using.  Please don’t change these settings on a notebook or laptop computer, and only change them on a desktop PC if you are confident you have proper cooling.  Failure to adhere to these warnings could result in permanent component damage to your system.

  1. To boost your computer’s speed, enter into the BIOS.  This is typically accomplished by pressing F2, F10, or the DEL key on your keyboard as the computer is booting.
  2. Next locate the SteedStep or Cool and Quiet options in the BIOS (Typically under power management)
  3. Turn off Cool and Quiet (AMD processors) or SpeedStep (Intel Processors)
  4. If your board supports this, set your maximum CPU temperature to no more than 125 degrees.  Anything hotter than this will almost certainly damage your processor.  This acts like a partial safeguard against component damage.

Big Announcements Coming in the Days Ahead

  • Comments: 0
  • Written on: December 4th, 2009

I am very aware that I have been absent from writing here for many days. There has been a lot going on, so I thought I would mention a few of the things here briefly to tweak your curiosity and then come back with more detailed posts in the coming days.

Here’s a few of the things I have been up to:

  1. Entertained a bid from a group of investors interested in buying Schrock Innovations (and turned them away)
  2. Selling our current home and moving into a new 4500 square foot home in Papillion, NE (yes, right before Christmas)
  3. Laying the groundwork for an announcement about our weekly radio show, Compute This – If you like the show now, just wait until you hear what is coming next
  4. Closed down our Omaha, NE Service Center in preparation for building our new (and permanent) Omaha facility in 2010
  5. Assisting in the development of a new Website Marketing Division at Three Eagles Communications
  6. Preparing for the official launch of the Top IT Shop Consulting Website
  7. Teaching my son Jake how to play Wii Boxing :-)

Its a lot, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  More updates to come in the upcoming days!

Testing Verizon’s Claims that AT&T 3G Coverage Blows

  • Comments: 23
  • Written on: November 16th, 2009

3g-verizon-att-mapIn early October Verizon started running a commercial series comparing their 3G wireless coverage to AT&T’s 3G coverage.  The commercials got AT&T’s attention, and they requested Verizon modify the campaign.

AT&T says that the 3G coverage maps featured in the campaign, as well as the depicted frustration of iPhone users lead viewers to believe that AT&T users can’t use their wireless devices at all across the majority of the country.

Here’s the primary commercial they are frustrated with:

I am an iPhone user myself and I can testify to my level of frustration when I can’t drive down Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha NE without my call dropping.  That’s not even 3G – That’s a straight cell call.  AT&T finally got coverage across Lincoln, NE – a population of over 230,000 people – this summer.

Here Comes the Judge

AT&T is now suing Verizon over the commercial series.  Their complaint states:

Verizon’s advertisements also depict AT&T customers as frustrated or sad and unable to meet their friends as the map showing swaths of white or blank space hovers over the fictional AT&T customer’s head, reinforcing the misleading message conveyed by the maps; that AT&T has no coverage and thus AT&T customers cannot use their wireless devices in large portions of the United States.

AT&T goes on to claim:

[AT&T is] losing incalculable market share, invaluable goodwill that it has spent billions of dollars to develop among consumers, and the significant investment it has made in its wireless network.

I think this comes down to a pretty basic question.  Is Verizon challenging the 3G coverage AT&T offers or AT&T’s overall coverage of any kind.

Hello AT&T check out the GIANT “3G COVERAGE” label under the maps.  I think it is pretty clear that they are claiming that Verizon has a superior 3G coverage network.  How AT&T thinks the commercials make people fell is irrelevant.

The Kinda-Scientific Test

I decided I would solve this case for whatever unfortunate judge has to hear it before it even goes to court.

I hopped in my car and departed from Omaha, NE where Verizon’s map shows AT&T has 3G coverage and drove toward Des Moines, IA.

According to Verizon, I should lose my 3G coverage when I leave Omaha and should not regain it until I am in DesMoins.  Click here for my route.

I updated my findings via Twitter as my wife and I drove the route.  Here is the coverage I experienced in reality:

  • Testing Verizon’s AT&T map. 3g signal lost at IA mile marker 11 on I80 in Iowa. So far Verizon’s map is accurate.
  • No AT&T signal whatsoever from IA I80 mile marker 14 through 17 12:14 PM Nov 14th
  • No AT&T 3g from I80 mile marker 11 through mile marker 83. 1:06 PM Nov 14th
  • No AT&T signal at all from I80 IA mile marker 83 through 87 1:07 PM Nov 14th
  • No AT&T 3g from I80 IA mile marker 87 through 101. No signal at all from 101 to 103 1:19 PM Nov 14th

The Verdict

The bottom line is that in the test I conducted, Verizon’s map is accurate and their advertisement is very true.

If anything, they were generous to AT&T because there were many times when I had to type and hold a Twitter update because I could not get ANY cellular or data coverage at all on the AT&T network.

All of my technicians in the shop are flashing their Droid phones and while I love my iPhone, the plan is super expensive and lets be honest – the 3G coverage just isn’t the best around.

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