How To Choose A Computer Repair And Service Company

There are hundreds of businesses in Amarillo, Canyon, Dumas, the entire Texas Panhandle – who offer IT services as well as computer service and/or PC repair. So how do you choose which one to use? We have every type of computer business model known to man in Amarillo, TX alone. We have the guy who works out of his van, the franchisee from “1-800- computer” (or whatever), we have the big box stores, the local brick and mortar stores, the office supply companies, the businesses who offices inside of other businesses, we have electricians who do networking, we even have car stereo installers calling themselves computer techs, we have the college kids who do it on the side, we even have the computer repair companies who buy and sell gold as well as rent U-Hauls. They do what?!?

*Photo Via Stephan Roh Flickr – Creative Commons License – Photo Was Cropped

Things to look for:

I’ve been in the tech industry (namely business networks and computer services) in the Amarillo area since 1999 and I’ve seen a lot of IT companies come and go (most of them went). In this time period, I’ve learned what makes and breaks a computer sales and service store, so I’ll share with you what I’ve learned and let you make your decision from there.

 

Do they give you reasons to trust them in your business or home?

Any shmo with a screwdriver and a basic understanding of Microsoft Windows can call themselves a computer technician (and they do). They installed Ubuntu Linux on a laptop and are now confidant that they are qualified to be a computer repair technician or a business IT professional. Unlike doctors, lawyers or accountants there are no laws or standards in the computer repair industry that prevent people who don’t know what they are doing (and there’s a lot of them) from labeling themselves a computer tech or a systems administrator. Sure there are certifications and degrees that can be earned but nothing that stops your local pawn shop from hanging a sign that says “We Fix Computers Cheap.”This means that the computer industry gets flooded with all types of people, most of which have very little invested, therefore they have little to lose if things don’t go well. If something comes up missing in your home, if a hidden webcam is left in your daughters shower, if you competitors get a copy of your customer database, if pictures of your wife end up plastered on the internet, most of these characters simply drive their repair van to a different town. Even the big box retailers – you know “The Nerd Squad” are constantly in trouble because they don’t operate ethically in many situations. Just look at the following examples:

Geek Squad Sued For Taking Video Of Customer In Shower

Best Buy employee accused of copying woman’s steamy photos

These types of things occur when a company (large or small) fails to instill the value of market place ethics and customer privacy in their culture.

Are They Local?

There are so many “Big Box” retailers and 1-800-Quicky-Tech companies out there it’s hard to keep up with them all. At least when you shop local you know that a large chunk of the money stays in the local economy. The big guys are also so big that they can’t easily address the constant changing threats to your computers and networks nor do they keep up with the latest tools to help repair. One of the Big Box Techs once told me “There are so many new tools out there that would help, but we aren’t authorized to use them. We just tell the customer that we had to trash all their data and reinstall Windows.” They also are notorious for putting your technology (which is full of your memories and private data) in the hands of low paid under experienced “Nerds” who don’t have the motivation or the knowledge to properly get the job done. I am a big fan of shopping local and I recommend that you use local for all your service needs whether it’s a plumber, an electrician, our a landscaper – local is smart.

Do they have any positive ratings on the internet?

Google them – do they have any positive reviews on any third party sites? The old saying goes something like this – good news spreads very slowly but bad news spreads like a wild fire – if a computer store has some positive feedback on the internet, you can bet they have many happy customers who haven’t posted anything. Look for them on sites like Google Places and Yelp.

Are they an active member of the Better Business Bureau, are they an Accredited Business and, if so, what is there rating? SO many people let computer repair technicians in their home and businesses without ever checking with the BBB.

How Do They Keep Your Information Private?

Because I’ve been in this industry for so long, I personally know many of the “technicians” that have setup shop in this area. There have been many times that these individuals have shown me data (music, videos, photos, and accounting data) that they have copied off of their customers PCs, Macs and servers. Not only is this morally wrong, it’s illegal. Ask them what steps they take to respect your privacy and protect your data. Remember, just because someone is performing a service or services for you, they don’t (necessarily) have to see your files and they certainty have no right copying or sharing your data without your permission and instruction. The bottom line here is you need to choose a tech company that has a very clear privacy policy, comes highly recommended and is in good standing with the BBB. Did I mention the BBB?

What Is The Right Price For Technical Services?

This one is tough because the words “expensive” or “cheap” are relative. I can share with you my experiences on this topic. I have seen many, MANY, descent businesses (not just technical companies) go out of business because they competed on price instead of charging an amount that would keep their doors open. As a consumer, you should do your research and call or visit the websites of several places and get an idea of what the average price for service in your area might be. There will be those that charge $50 to $70 but you get what you pay for with these types. According to Entrepreneur “the national average is $100 per hour for computer service billing, it’s much higher in certain regions–$160 an hour in Manhattan, for instance.” Keep in mind that OK computer techs make less, decent techs make a little more but experienced technicians who have certifications and/or degrees cost the most and that cost is built into the company’s service rates. Think of it like this:

Both hamburger meat and a Ribeye steak come from a cow. A hamburger is a decent meal and costs around four bucks, but a good Ribeye cooked to perfection costs quite a bit more and if that steak is served in a nice atmosphere by a friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff, it’s going to cost quite a bit more. And following this analogy, check the restaurants ratings, health inspection and maybe don’t trust someone who grills steaks in the back of their van. Just a thought.

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Smart Watches Are The Calculator Watch Of 2014

I don’t know if you are old enough to remember the original calculator watch, but I am. I just so happened to own a bright orange calculator watch and when I walked into school wearing that thing, you would have thought that I had traveled through time. Everyone was checking it out and before you knew it, they were all over the school. I guess that was the birth of me being not only a techy, but an early adopter to-boot.

Well, the new thing these days looks like a flash from the past to me. Smart watches seem to be taking over right now. I’m sure everyone has seen the commercials for the Galaxy Gear smart watch that syncs to the new Galaxy Note 3, but there are a ton of smart watches flooding the market right now.

The Pebble Smart Watch

The Pebble Smart Watch is a highly marketed smart watch and was actually financially backed while still in the concept phase. They are a favorite among users and its firmware can be upgraded to allow for future OS upgrades to the device. The downfall is that currently it does not have a very robust system or very many features.

Martian Smartwatch

This watch is by far the most elegant of all the Smartwatches. This is not a stand alone device and requires a sync to a user’s smartphone. It supports hands free voice commands and can even control the camera of your phone directly from the watch.

i’m Watch Smartwatch

This is by far the most modern looking watch of the Smartwatches.This too has firmware that can be upgraded which is a good thing. As of right now the device seems a little bare and could definitely use some more features, but the sleek and sturdy design make this watch supercool, looking.

Sony Smartwatch

This smartwatch is an Android only smartwatch but is one of the more polished models out there. It is the 2nd generation and they did quite a bit to make sure that it was a contender. I’m willing to be that if this watch offered support for iOS devices it would be a favorite amongst all users.

ConnecteDevice Cookoo Smartwatch

Very little funtionality, but it’s not trying to be something it’s not. Just a practical smartwatch that is more watch than smart. While the software feels like it’s almost in the beta stages, it has a really cool look.

The Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch

This device seems to be the benchmark by which all others will be measured. Very polished look as well as OS. Syncs with your Note 3 (which seems to be the big downfall, not compatible with other devices) and will allow for calls, emails, messaging, and will even help you locate your phone if it’s buried under a heap of paperwork. It also senses if you’ve walked away from your phone and locks it, then when you return unlocks the device with no password needed.

https://youtu.be/f2AjPfHTIS4

 

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When Will Skpe Get The Messaging Fix On Windows Phones? Sooner Than You Think

The Skype app on Windows phones has been plagued with problems since the launch. The out-of-sync messages and missed messages have had users complaining that the app is almost a “flop.” Well, Skype has aimed to fix that. Project manager Jeff Kunins told The Verge that Microsoft is aware of the problem and a fix is in the works as we speak.

Some of the problem seems to be the Skype cloud-based servers. Microsoft has traditionally ran on a peer-to-peer system and they say that this is where they believe that the glitch lies.

Users will be able to expect that their Windows phone will sync across multiple devices without the annoying display of old messages or already read messages. Jeff Kunins also stated that running notifications will only sync on devices that the user is currently using rather than syncing to all devices that have the app installed. This will prevent multiple devices from ringing at once. Kunins said to keep your eye out for the Windows 8.1 app as it will have all kinds of new fun things.

Photo courtesy of Skyp – Facebook

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Buying Christmas Gifts From Local Amarillo Businesses – 3 Tech Items That Will Be A Hit

Christmas is just around the corner and we know the shopping season is about to swing into full effect. If you’re looking for something different than the big box store experience, then cat-man-du is your place to buy your Christmas tech items. First and most importantly, cat-man-du is a local Amarillo (Canyon, and Dumas) business. The money that is spent in our stores stays in our community. Second, we pride ourselves on customer service and making sure that when you leave our store that you are completely satisfied with your purchase. We are not just a retail seller, we are a company that wants to make sure that you get exactly what you are looking for.

cat-man-du is Amarillo’s most awarded technology company. Our goal is to make sure that when you leave our business that you not only have the items that you need for business, home, or personal use, but that you know and understand the product. We are not like the big “box stores”. We are not trying to shuffle people through just to make a sale. Amarillo, Canyon, and Dumas have been doing business with cat-man-du for more than a decade and the reason is simple. We offer fair pricing, only the best products and service, and customer service that you cannot receive anywhere else in the city.

Everyone’s Christmas wishlist is different. Tech items are super hot during the holidays and we carry only the best. Below you’ll see three items that will make you the hit of Christmas morning!

Google Nexus 2nd Generation Android Tablet 32GB – $269.99

If you have a techie on your list then you will be needing one of these under your tree. The Google Nexus 7 is the #1 tablet in the country. It has a beautiful HD display and of course comes with the Google Play Store where they can download their favorite apps and games. Not only can you play games, but you can watch movies on Netflix, as well as buy or rent them right from the ‘Movie Section’ of the Play Store.

You can also sync your work and personal email directly to the device as well as your calendar. I have one of the original tablets and it’s the best tablet I have ever owned.

Click here for pricing and to order

Lenovo ThinkPad E535 – $649.99

Lenovo has now become the #1 computer company in the world and it’s no wonder why. They make reliable computers with sleek design. The ThinkPad branding has been part of the tech world since the very beginning. The ThinkPad E535 has everything the your ‘techie’ could possibly need. The 2.5 GHZ AMD processor is fast enough to handle anyone’s toughest tasks. 320 GB hard drive and writable DVD burner built in. This thing comes with plenty of RAM to handle both personal and business tasks.

USB 3.0 Superspeed will make transfering data to this new computer a breeze as well, but remember, we can always handle that for you for a small fee.

Click here for pricing and to order

Lenovo All-In-One Ideacentre – $899.99

This All-In-One computer has super cool design. It has touchscreen interface and Windows 8.0. You can do anything from office work, design, and even high end gaming. Watching movies on this crisp monitor is a dream. 23″ monitor with 6 GB of RAM and 1TB of storage make this All-In-One everything a user could ask for. To top it off it’s sporting a fast i3 processor.

This makes the perfect gift because it is literally plug and play. Take it out of the box and fire it up. It’s that simple. No more mess of wires coming from the back of your machine. Just a clean desk and superfast computer to boot. This machine is definitely centered around entertainment, but can handle any of your computer needs.

Click here for pricing and to order

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Self Healing LG G Flex Making Waves In The Smartphone Arena [VIDEO]

LG has never really been a “stand out” in the smartphone arena. Granted, they have had some really decent phones, but nothing that makes them a really sought after builder, until now. The new LG G Flex phone is making huge waves in the smartphone world.

The G Flex has a quad-core processor and a curved face design. LG unveiled this after it was able to complete a curved battery. Most of the major carriers plan on offering the device. The curve of the device actually seemed to make usage of a device this size quite a bit easier. Not only that, but it makes viewing video on the device a real treat.

As for the self healing aspect, it’s pretty dang cool. Whether you accidentally keep you phone in your pocket with your keys, or are just rough on phones, it really helps keep those normal wear and tear scratches from ruining the look of your device. You can see in the video that it really works quite well, and while it won’t completely protect your device, it does a really good job.

What do you think? Will you be making a switch to the new LG G Flex? Check out the video below.

 

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Let cat-man-du Get Your Home Wireless Network & Printing Set Up For Thanksgiving & Christmas Guests

It’s getting close to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday here in the Amarillo, Canyon, and Dumas area and that can mean only one thing. You’re going to be having visitors and they’ll be toting all of their electronic devices. Whether it just be a smartphone, tablet, laptop, they will be needing a way to get online.

While you have your family and guests in town, it’s good to keep in mind that they probably have a whole slew of devices that they will be bringing that require internet access. Rather than give them access to your whole network, why not have cat-man-du come and set up your wireless network with guest access.

This will allow you to make sure that everyone has internet access. We can also set you up with wireless printing to share all the holiday fun right from their tablets, phones, and laptops.

In many cases we can also set up restricted access with a password which will make sure that no-one is visiting inappropriate sites which can actually release malicious viruses and malware onto your network.

So, here’s what we are offering you. A cat-man-du tech will come to your house, configure your home wireless network, guest access to that network, wireless printing, and even secure the wireless so it cannot visit sites that are inappropriate (This assuming that your existing router has this functionality, if not we are happy to upgrade your router to one that does, see below). We’ll do all this for a simple one-rate price.

Holiday Package One – $100.00

cat-man-du tech configure your home wireless network for guest access

Tech configures wireless printing

Configure router to block inappropriate websites (current router must have this functionality)

Holiday Package Two – $249.99 (Router Purchase Included)

Netgear N750 Wireless Router (Supports multiple streaming devices & blocking inappropriate web surfing)

Configure router to block inappropriate websites

Configure wireless with guest access

Configure wireless printing (for networks that support this functionality)

 

If you are interested in one of our Holiday Bundles, please contact us at 806-350-8324.

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TIFF Images Linked To Drive-By Download Malware

Microsoft has issued a statement that certain image files can make computers vulnerable to some malicious malware through booby trapped image files. The flaw has been dubbed CVE-2013-3906 by Redmond security experts. Remote code execution that exists in the way systems handle specially crafted TIFF files. TIFF stands for Tagged Information File Format.

Just opening a malicious TIFF file can release a drive-by download or drive-by install version of malware that is installed on your computer without even being prompted by a warning dialog.

This is a zero day security flaw which means that the it was continuous attacks that actually brought this flaw to the attention of Microsoft. This means that attacks aren’t likely or eminent, but in this case actually happening before a patch is available.

The attacks that have been reported to date have come from TIFF files being embedded inside DOCX files (Office 2007 and later). Someone sends you a specially crafted document by email, you open the email to see if it is actually “worth opening”, and boom. You’re infected.

Microsoft has also pointed out that there are other ways that your computer can become infected.

  • Previewing or opening a specially-crafted email.
  • Opening a specially crafted file such as an attachment or download.
  • Browsing to a poisoned web page.

The good news is, while there is no official patch ready for download that will resolve this issue, Microsoft has published a “fix-it” tool that will quickly render your computer immune. It does this by having Windows simply sidestep loading TIFF files which protects you when downloading or viewing documents containing these malicious TIFF files.

You can achieve this same result by hand if you have the knowledge using this:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Gdiplus\DisableTIFFCodec = 1, but if your workflow requires you to be able to open TIFF files, then this will not work for you.

If you find that this fix gets in the way of your day-to-day workflow, then you can easily reverse it by removing it from the registry.

Things to keep in mind are; try not to run your computer as administrator all the time, be mindful of where your email files are coming from and if you don’t recognize it, don’t open it. Make sure that your anti-virus is updated frequently to keep you safe from many of the attacks that are currently circulating.

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uy Your Lenovo Ideatab Android Tablet Right Here In Amarillo – Shop For Christmas Early

Here’s the deal folks. We’re gonna give you the scoop on the new Lenovo Ideatab S2110A tablet, and we are going to offer you a way to get one without having to order online. We are carrying these badboys right here in our Amarillo, Canyon, and Dumas offices!

The Lenovo IdeaTab S2110A

It seems like you can’t throw a rock today and not hit someone who is making a tablet. Manufacturers are releasing them almost faster than you can buy them. This tablet is different. It comes from the hottest PC company on the planet. Lenovo has released the new IdeaTab. It is a 10″ tablet so you get a full size experience. It is really thin at .35″ thick. That’s basically 1/3 of an inch thick!

This tablet feels really nice in the hand. The front design is simplified with no front facing buttons, which is beautiful design of the new versions of Android. It has all of the normal ports and toggles that you are used to seeing. Power, volume rocker, headphone etc. But, it also has a SIM slot for use with mobile data and an HDMI port which is always nice.

The slim, sleek, and very smooth design makes for a very portable device. It also has a 5 Megapixel camera. The screen viewing angles are amazing. You really can’t distort or washout the display regardless of how much your tilt or turn the device. It has a 1280×800 resolution which displays better than most higher resolution devices. Reading and watching on this device is a dream.

It has a Qualcom Snapdragon Dual Core Processor clocked at 1.5GHZ. 1 GB of RAM and plenty of power to run your high end games and apps. It comes in 16 and 32 GB models which for most use cases is plenty of storage. Granted, if you keep your entire music and movie library on your tablet, you might want to opt for the 32 GB version. This is expandable by purchasing the super sleek keyboard dock which comes with full size USB ports.

The IdeaTab comes with some of your favorite apps right out of the box. Apps like Skype and Evernote are pre-installed. This tablet is running Android Jellybean and is expected to get the KitKat upgrade soon. You can expect around 6 – 8 hours of continuous use out of a single charge.

 

 

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