- Comments: 14
- Written on: November 1st, 2011
Just in time for the holiday season the recent Thailand monsoon is threatening the stability of notebook and laptop prices.
Some parts of Thailand received as much as 140% of their seasonal Monsoon rainfall in a matter of hours. 40% of the world’s hard drives are produced in Thailand, and the massive flooding conditions are making this spring’s Missouri river flooding look like a kiddie pool. Think Katrina only across an entire country.
Extreme Shortages Coming
Analysts expect hard drives to go into extreme shortage almost immediately. Western Digital will bear the brunt of the blow. Company executives are reporting they expect a 60% decline in their sales due to production shortages. All of their Thailand factories were flooded.
Seagate’s factories were spared, but their component supplies were not.
Online retailer Tiger Direct currently has no hard drives at all available for order at any price. Their competitor, Newegg has remaining inventory thanks in large part to establishing strict quantity limitations of one drive per customer per 48 hour period.
Computer Makers to Run Out of Drives by end of November
Even PC maker Asusteq is reporting that it will run out of desktop and laptop hard drives entirely by the end of November.
This situation is posing a unique challenge for OEM computer makers, including Schrock Innovations.
In fact, Schrock Innovations is incurring strict quantity limitations and lack of availability on many hard drives used in our Modular computers.
In response we have been buying every hard drive we can get our hands on as news pours in that shortages will be with us through at least March of 2012 and as long as December of 2012.
- Comments: 7
- Written on: October 30th, 2011
The all new AMD 8-core Zambezi processor set a world record for clock speed when a team of engineers over clocked the consumer-grade chip to run at 8.49 GHz!
Of course, they had to cool it with liquid helium. I wouldn’t recommend trying to do that at home, but with eight cores and over 3 GHz of native speed, this chip should meet the needs of the most demanding users for years to come.
- Comments: 1
- Written on: October 30th, 2011
Some of the slow down is the result of normal use, but the majority of performance erosion is the result of evolving software that demands more and more of your computer’s limited resources.
As you receive updates for Windows or the latest and greatest hew hardware devices, the software that powers them taxes your computers’ resources and results in slower performance.
Computer Hardware Speed vs. Software Demands
Over the past few years computer memory and computer processors have become exponentially faster. These gains have allowed computers to run more and more complex programs
The only component in your computer that has not seen a significant performance boost is your rotating disk hard drive. The 7200 RPM hard drive has been around in various flavors since 2003.
Solid state hard drives offer near-instant boot times and lightning fast speed – but at a significant cost. Solid state drives offer small storage capacities at a cost six to eight times more than the older rotating disk models.
Schrock Innovations’ Adaptive Intelligence Technology give your computer the best of both worlds at a budget friendly price.
Solid State Performance at Rotating Disk Price
Some of Schrock Innovations’ latest Modular PCs are equipped with 500 GB Adaptive Intelligence Hard Drives.
These cutting-edge hard drives are a regular-old 7200-RPM hard drive equipped with a 4 GB solid state partition.
As you use your computer, the hard drive monitors which files you access most often. The drive then saves a copy of those files to the solid state partition for faster access.
As your computing habits change, the solid state partition automatically updates with the files that will give you the best user experience.
All of the calculations are done by the drive’s firmware which means file cataloging and usage computations are all done on the drive itself. Adaptive Intelligence Technology doesn’t slow down your computer’s memory or processor, but does provide up to a 1000% hard drive access speed increase.
Solid State drives are the holy grail of data storage performance, but their lightning fast performance also comes with a down side.
In the event of a drive failure, data recover, while expensive, is possible on rotating disk drives. Solid state hard drives have no moving parts and are comprised of a number of memory chips.
A solid state drive failure usually results in a complete loss of data.
Because drives equipped with Adaptive Intelligence Technology save copies of commonly used files on the solid state partition, in the event of a drive failure standard data recovery techniques can be used to recover your important information from the rotating disks.
Only Available at Schrock Innovations
Adaptive Intelligence Technology is only available in Schrock Innovations’ Modular PCs and modified notebook computers.
Certain models come with the technology included, but can be added to any computer purchased at Schrock Innovations. Contact Schrock for more information about a computer equipped with Adaptive Intelligence Technology today!
- Comments: 7
- Written on: September 20th, 2011
Scaling from one computer repair service center at Schrock Innovations to two was a logistical challenge, but for the most part it involved duplicating systems we already had in place.
Now that Schrock is adding a third Service Center in Papillion, NE we are finding that simply doing what has worked in the past will not quite cut it this time.
Scaling Advanced Technology
Schrock Innovations maintains a customer service edge by leveraging advanced technologies that are designed to help us solve our customers’ problems.
For many of these technology solutions we have been able to rely on third-party vendors in the past like Huntel, Citrix, Cox, and Rackspace to deliver award-winning service.
However as we grow the cost of scaling these technologies increases. We can either pass the cost increase on to our customers as higher prices or try to find a different way of delivering our services that is more efficient.
We choose efficiency.
Deploying a Data Center
Many of the tools we use to deliver seamless service to our customers through our phone system, the Schrock Desk, our web site hosting services and many future products rely on a data center.
A data center is a specially designed room that contains racks of computers that do things for people who are on the Internet accessing them. When you loaded this web page, it came from a data center.
Data centers are expensive to operate, so in turn, leasing space in them is also expensive. The cost of a data center is mostly up-front expense for equipment and servers. After that expense the maintenance costs of running the data center are actually less expensive than leasing the services we currently lease.
Schrock Innovations is partnering with Future Technologies to deploy a data center in Downtown Omaha, NE in the 1600 Farnam building. The location was a bank at one time, and the bank vaults in the basement provide excellent security possibilities that can be reconfigured to ensure physical server security.
Last week Schrock’s technicians began deploying racks and servers into the data center and we expect it to be online this week. We will be migrating our existing services like the Schrock Desk, Web Hosting, and the Secure Updater this month.
Data Security Concerns
The world is becoming a smaller and smaller place every day. While the technologies that are making that happen benefit our every day lives, they also bring cyber criminals MUCH closer to you on a daily basis than you know.
One of the concerns that we have at Schrock is the security of our data connections that move through our third party vendors.
While we are confident that companies like Rackspace, Citrix, and Carbonite take their data security very seriously, there is really no way for us to know if the data that we send goes through Chinese servers, Russian servers, or stays right here in the US.
This is important because any traffic that goes through servers in other countries is not protected by the laws and regulations of the U.S.
While for most people this is not a concern, as we add additional services like data backup, corporate remote support, and the Secure Updater, we need to know that our customers’ information is safe beyond a shadow of a doubt.
The only way to do that is to operate the infrastructure yourself and that is what we are in the process of doing.
- Comments: 5
- Written on: September 16th, 2011
Schrock Innovations’ new Papillion, NE Service Center is coming along, so I thought I would post a construction update.
Things have been busy lately, so these pictures are about a week old. Since they were taken electrical and data wiring is in place, the bathroom is complete (very important!) and Carberry Construction is starting on the floors.
The front desk is in place. Carberry fabricated the desk and topped it with black granite. We implemented a new feature in the front desk of the Papillion Service Center. Notice the lowered section of the front desk. We need the front counter to be tall enough for check writing and service, but sometimes it is tough for our customers to lift their computers up there.
The new lowered section is an experiment to see if we can get the best of both worlds.
The walls have been painted and the hanging electrical drops are in place.
We are just waiting on the floors to begin bench installation, inventory shelf delivery, and utility hook up.
Then the real fun begins!
If everything goes well, we are planning the grand opening for the weekend of October 8th.
- Comments: 6
- Written on: September 9th, 2011
The #1 computer question of 2011 is “How can I keep my computer, my identity and my data safe on the Internet.”
As more users have moved to Windows 7 and installed reputable security programs like Norton 360, the number of virus infections has stabilized in the US.
The bad news is that “stable” level means that the average computer in the US has 12 documented vulnerabilities created primarily by three different programs on your computer that you NEED to have if you want to enjoy the Internet.
The unfortunate truth is that having good anti-virus is not enough to keep you safe online anymore. You need to have the most recent versions of 5 common programs installed to keep you identity and your data safe online.
Schrock Announces the Secure Updater Utility
In response to increasing demand from our customers and radio show listeners, Schrock Innovations has developed a new utility that fills the gaps left by your anti-virus software.
The Secure Updater is a small utility that runs in the background and checks to make sure the five most attacked applications on your computer are running the most recent versions available.
The Secure Updater downloads updated software patches and revisions from the Schrock Innovations data center for the following programs:
- Mozilla Firefox
- Adobe Reader
- Adobe Flash 32-bit
- Adobe Flash 64-bit
When an updated version is detected the utility downloads the update and silently installs it on your computer with out any annoying prompts, warnings, or instructions.
With the Secure Updater you can have confidence that your computer’s software is fully patched, limiting the number of entry points your anti-virus software needs to cover.
How Can I Get the Secure Updater on my Computer?
The Secure Updater is in final testing now and should be available in the next four weeks to a limited number of customers in our testing pool.
150 subscribers who pre-order the software will be the first to receive the fully tested final release that is expected on or before October 1, 2011.
In addition, customer who pre-order will qualify for free installation assistance by Schrock’s technicians over the Schrock Desk if they require help.
Only 150 subscriptions are available for the test group. Once our server is load balanced and ready for additional volume, the software will become publicly available.
How Can I Pre-Order?
The Secure Updater is $49.99 initially and then $24.99 per year afterwards. At this time we are not offering a multi-PC license.
Please click the Buy Now button below to place your pre-order. This is an extremely limited initial release and will sell out quickly based on interest from our customers.
After your purchase your order will be forwarded to our Service Center and we will contact you via email when the software is available for download. If you need installation assistance, please contact the Service Center closest to you and we will be happy to help.
Please not that the Secure Updater is compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 only.
- Comments: 11
- Written on: August 22nd, 2011
It’s been over a month since my last post – inexcusable in the world of blogging. I feel a little guilty about the extended absence so I wanted to write a post that explains the work that has kept me away from the keyboard.
Businesses make profits by selling products and services. Over time, customers’ needs change and products and services that applied at one time become stale if they do not adapt.
Adapt or Die
For example, Arm and Hammer Baking Soda has been around for over 100 years. 100 years ago people did a LOT more baking than they do today. 100 years ago if you wanted bread, you baked it. Baked goods requie baking soda in many cases, and a LOT of boxes of baking soda were sold as a result.
But in the last 100 years the living standard in the US has increased so sharply that people now buy most of their baked goods at the grocery store. Most people who still make their own bread do so with pre-packaged mixes and bread machines. There is not a lot of call these days the use of baking soda for baking.
Yet Arm and Hammer baking soda can be found in every supermarket isle and if you looked in your house, you will probably have a box somewhere. Their product is still alive today because they INNOVATED and found new applications for baking soda in a modern lifestyle.
Arm and Hammer realized that baking soda absorbed foul odors in the ice boxes and refrigerators. As a result, more than 100 years later they are selling just as many boxes and you probably have one in your house today.
Changing, improving and finding more applications for your products is critical if you want to remain relevant in a changing world.
Computer Repair Transitioning to the Digital World
Schrock Innovations’ products and services are no different. Over the past 2 years we have worked to keep our products relevant to our customers’ changing needs.
- We introduced the Schrock Desk Remote Online Support Service
- We retooled our Preventative Maintenance Checkup to predicts and minimize repair costs
- We offered new electronics recycling services to help our customers dispose of their old computers
- We brought our Website Development division in-house to lay the groundwork for new digital products
- Schrock started compartmentalizing product responsibilities to specific teams to improve service levels
Meanwhile, we have seen two of our competitors close their doors in an economy that only promises to become more challenging.
The driving motivation for Schrock Innovations over the next 2 years will be to increase the VALUE we are passing to our customers without increasing prices unnecessarily.
This is not a drive that is unique to Schrock Innovations. For example, while many of Netflix’s customers are upset about a price increase in their service, if you look into the business mechanics of why they did what they did you will see that that price increase will allow them to deliver more than 2x the content they deliver right now at FASTER streaming speeds. If Google+ is the Facebook killer, Netflix wants to become the cable TV killer.
The Next Generation of Schrock Innovations
With all of that said, Schrock is going to leverage what we are good at – local service and support – and apply our competitive advantage to new products and services. Our customers are primarily concerned with:
- Keeping their technology running properly
- Staying malware and virus free
- Preventing data loss
- Buying computers for their VALUE rather than their specifications
The reason Schrock is doing well while some of our competitors are not boils down to one simple difference – innovation. If a computer repair company’s objective is to fix computers that break or become infected they might do well for a while, but eventually there are only so many broken computers to fix. Consumers NEED their computer repair company to create new solutions that solve – or prevent – problems.
I have been quiet for a while for a couple reasons: First, I can’t keep my mouth shut when I am excited about a new product or service. Second, the amount of planning and execution required to do what Schrock is planning on doing has soaked a TON of my time.
Over the next couple weeks I will let you know what is going on. Our customers will LOVE it and our competitors will probably hate it 🙂
- Comments: 4
- Written on: May 24th, 2011
Last weekend Schrock Innovations held its first ever electronics recycling event. No one really knew what to expect because this was the first time anyone had held a recycling event restricted to old computers and old cell phones.
All of Schrock’s employees were on staff that weekend and the original plan was to document the number of pieces coming in as they arrived. In the first 15 minutes that plan went out the window.
While I was on the air doing the KFOR Compute This radio show, Schrock had taken in more than 500 pieces of e-waste in Lincoln and 200 in Omaha.
After the 2-day event ended on Sunday we had collected approximately 1.5 75-foot tractor trailers full of monitors, printers, scanners, towers, cell phones, cords and accessories.
Take a look at the pictures of the event on our Facebook page!
- Comments: 19
- Written on: May 14th, 2011
Schrock Innovations is holding a special recycling event May 21 and 22 in their Lincoln and Omaha Service Centers. If you have old computers or cell phones around the house and you have been looking for a safe and easy way to recycle them, this is your opportunity!
May 21 and 22 Schrock will take any computer related equipment or cell phone equipment and accessories absolutely FREE. There are a few limitations if you have a ton of stuff to bring in, so read up on all of the details on the Schrock Website.
Don’t miss this chance to recycle your old gear safely and protect the environment!
- Comments: 15
- Written on: May 7th, 2011
Last week I wrote a post about how to get the most from your Yellow Pages advertising. Yellow Page advertisements are expensive and you only get one shot to make it work each year.
However, TV advertising is even more expensive and is often overlooked by small business because of its costs. I am a big believer in the power of radio advertising,but there is definitely a role for television in most markets – if you do it right.
How to Buy Television
Like any advertising, TV spots do not typically pay for themselves as they air. They are an investment in the growth of your business. This chicken and the egg paradox is why many small businesses don’t use television. It is simply too expensive to pump money into without pulling out immediate benefits that equal or exceed the investment.
Sometimes the only way to get the TV gravy train rolling is to start small and build up exposure over time. With television you can get big results fast with a large spend, but you can also get big results over time with a much smaller spend.
No matter what you have for a budget, plan on putting a consistent schedule together and then maintain it. It does you no good to pop in on viewers for a month and then go away. You need a sustained presence over time to get the best results.
When you meet with your TV representative ask if there are any monthly packages or specials available. Be up front about your budget. Even if you can only afford to sponsor a couple weather casts a week, committing to a consistent annual buy qualifies you for bonus spots that the station will give you when they have leftover inventory.
For example, we buy about $8,000 a month in advertising on KETV Channel 7 in Omaha, NE. Because we committed to a monthly spend we get a few bonuses that others do not receive.
While we are paying to run our commercials, we also get:
- Ffree web ads
- Free bonus spots from unsold inventory
- Free coverage on the station’s digital weather channel
Some of our other competitors actually pay for the digital weather spots as their primary advertising. Digital TV is still so new that these spots are incredibly unproductive, but since they are free we accept them if for no other reason than it makes our competitors call their KETV sales reps to whine about the fact they are not the exclusive PC repair company on the channel (that has really happened – can you believe it?).
How to make your Television Ad
Almost all TV stations have a production department. Some are good and some are not so hot. You won’t know what you have until they produce a spot for you, so ask your sales rep to get it included for free with your spend. Otherwise you can get hit with a $400+ tab per commercial.
When your ad is done, ask your sales rep to email you a copy for review. When you have approved your ad, upload it to YouTube and use it on your website too. The ad is yours, so get the most out of it!
Do not spend big money with an ad agency making a spot for you. You need the budget to get your message out, and no matter how awesome your ad is, if you don’t have the cash to run it you are dead in the water.
What to Put in Your Ad
Remember that you only have about :30 of your viewer’s time to work with. That is barely enough time to get one idea across, so don’t try to do too much.
Also, viewers will have to see your ad about 10 times before they remember it. Keep your message clean and simple.
Television is a visual medium, so your images can tell as much as your words can. For example, Schrock ran this commercial to promote a Computer Maintenance Checkup sale:
As you can see, we wanted to communicate to the viewer that your computer is dirty and clogged up. My words said bring it in to be cleaned on special. Note that I did not give our exact address or phone number in the audio of the spot.
When people watch TV they are not sitting there with a pen waiting to write down your important message. Instead we gave the cross-streets for each of our Service Centers and then the website URL along with an image of our Omaha Service Center.
After 10 impressions, people will get the idea. Don’t waste precious seconds with unnecessary words or details. Keep it simple with powerful imagery.
Track Your Results
When your customers come in to do business you should ALWAYS ask them where they are coming from. Measure how many responses you receive (phone calls, emails, and foot traffic) form your commercial.
If after 6 months you are not seeing a measurable result from your efforts, consider changing things up.