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Moving Forward

February 13th, 2009

At HireTheBrain.com we are moving forward at a sustainable pace.  What is a sustainable pace you ask?  The simple answer is one that allows us to properly service our customers and keeps us excited about the business.  To many times we push so hard to grow the business that we start to take on some very unhealthy habits.  Things like working until all hours of the night, booking to many appointments in a day, and trying to rush appointments to squeeze in just one more per day.  These decisions can really hurt us in the long run and hurt the quality of service we provide. 

Brain and I have been setting limitations on ourselves that we feel helps us keep the balance in our lives.  Our encouragement to you is to find that peace and balance in your life.  Don’t forget the little things that really refresh your spirit like two days off each week, time to sit down and play a game with the family, and the rare and illusive afternoon nap.  If you keep the balance in your world you will love the work you do and not become burned out on it.  Sure we could pack in a few more appointments and a few more bucks but if it takes away from our love of what we are doing it is simply not worth it.

The Old Brain

Basic Brain

Old School Brain, New School Brain

January 13th, 2009

HireTheBrain.com has made a real impact on the local community.  From comments like: “This would have cost me over one hundred dollars and you guys want $29.99” to “You fixed it that fast”.  It has done wonders to Collin Driscoll’s self esteem to the point where he now feels free to disagree with me and do things his way.  I am not complaining mind you.  It is just another step in his development and a welcome one at that.

I realized the other day that he keeps me on my technical toes as it were.  This was a blow to the ego but I’m getting over it.  Collin is digging right in to the new operating systems while I still use a command prompt whenever possible.  This makes for some interesting discussions between appointments.

For years I have told people (on KCNN radio) to embrace the change, and for years there was always a part of the industry that felt things were just fine the way they were.  The other day I found myself saying, “I’m fine right where I am technology wise.”   Collin immediately told me of several advantages to the method he was proposing.  I sat there stunned as I realized that I was defending an outdated and useless method of doing a particular task.  I knew at once that he was right (something most parents are loath to admit) and his method would prove faster and improve the performance of the computer.   I also realized that some of my technical skills had gone stale over the course of time.  So it’s back to the books and the lab to brush up on the latest methods of doing the business of Computer Support. 

Basic Brain

New Year-New Priorities

December 31st, 2008

Working with Collin and watching him develop into a little business man is both interesting and awe inspiring.  This young man has had to endure a constant up-hill battle just to fit in to society yet he remains positive and excited about what life has to offer him.  I’m afraid that most of us would have given up by now, like we have year after year on our New Year resolutions.  I guess my New
Years resolution will be to strive to be as excited and positive as my youngest son.  Wish us luck!

BTW…don’t forget to do regular backups.  This week we had a customer who almost lost 8,000 photos.  HireTheBrain.com was able to retrieve photos after a couple of hours work.  This time the customer got lucky.  With all the digital cameras out there our hard drives have become the new storage place for our negatives.  The only problem with that is the hard drive, unlike the shoebox, fails with time and use.  HiretheBrain.com can come to your home and perform these backups for you at a very reasonable price.  Feel free to email or call Collin Driscoll.  It’s like having a spare brain to remember to care for your computer.

Basic Brain

Thank you!

December 21st, 2008

The article about Collin in the Columbia Tribune this past Saturday was a real treat.  We got a bunch of new calls asking for appointments and information.  Collin was surprised by the response.  We even got some very sweet comments on AutismVox.com.  The awareness of Autism is very important to us.  It’s time we give these kids a voice in our communities and throughout the US.  So as Collin’s driver (really that’s all I do now) I can only say thank you for your words of encouragement and support.  We will let you know on this blog about any further news and community support Collin receives. 

One thing not mentioned in the article that Collin wanted people to know; if you have a child with Autism Collin offers special rates on service of the family computers.  We brains have to stick together! 

Basic Brain

How to have a happy holiday, Brain style!

December 17th, 2008

First off…relax!  A happy holiday is not just Christmas, it includes Birthdays, Anniversaries, Hanukkah, and just about any day we stop and think about one person or couple in particular. 

In the early 60’s almost every toy that any kid wanted had to have a battery.  I remember vividly walking up to mom and dad and asking for four D cells to power my mega robot.  I also remember the blank stare they passed to each other when they realized that they had forgotten to buy any batteries.  Poor mom and dad had to listen to me complaining until the next day when the stores were open again and dad could go down and get some.  Being 50’s parents they felt terrible for spoiling my Christmas.  Batteries were very important and today almost every fridge has a shelf full of them.

Today every child wants the electronic toys.   These are the same toys we as parents already have: cell phones (with keyboards), gaming consoles (you can use your bottom to play), laptops, desktops, and more.  Parents have to decide if they intend to get the kids a computer or pass their computer down to the kids and get themselves a new computer.  I know, your thinking no parent would ever be as selfish as that, but some do.  Here are some basic guidelines for handing technology down the family ladder.

1.       Cell phones:  Yes you can pass them down.  The only thing is, if the screen has a crack you must take it back.  If it is working fine your child will be glad for the improved technology and you won’t feel so bad when they lose it (and yes they will lose it, or drop it, or run over it with the car or whatever).  Hint: add a texting and photo plan to your phone contract.  Even my mother in law has become a texting maniac. 

2.       Game Consoles:  No you can’t pass them down.  Your loving child does not want your N64 and frankly your child will be tormented for having a lame game system.  This year the WII is my hands down favorite.  Reason, it is the first game console that gets your lazy bottoms off the floor or out of the chair.  This movement is a great way to not feel so bad when your kid wants to play video games for 4 straight days.  There is even a controller that you sit on to use.  It’s not as good as a trip to the gym, but it is better than watching TV.

3.       Computers:  Yes if your child is young (under 10).  No if your child is older.  The biggest reason is the software your children want to run.  Young children love Disney, Dora, and I think Blue’s Clues is still in there.  Most of these games are written to run on the older PC’s and will be fine for the younger kids.  But believe it or not the Pentium 3 and 4 will not run the latest games your older children want to play.  Don’t worry there are a couple of things you can do to still get a new toy for yourself and keep the kids happy too.  Consider upgrading the old computer before you pass it on.  More memory, a faster CPU, and a new video card can go a long way toward helping the computer run the new games and applications your older child wants and it won’t break the bank.

4.       iPod’s, MP3 players:  Yes you can! (as long as it is their first one)  Any MSPD (music storage and play device) will be welcome.  It allows them to express who they are by selecting their own style of music.  WORD OF WARNING:  Don’t pick it up and play it..you won’t like what you hear and it may damage your hearing…Remember, if it’s too loud your too old.

Basic Brain

And now for something completely different….

December 16th, 2008

It looks like HireTheBrain.com will be getting some local press. The Columbia Daily Tribune has called and Collin Driscoll of HireTheBrain.com will be interviewed on Wednesday evening of this week. The Columbia Daily Tribune is the paper of record for Columbia, Missouri and it seems that Collin will be interviewed while working at a client’s home. Not bad for a kid with a new in-home computer repair and optimization service. Collin’s company which features in-home service and custom built computers to the home and small business market in Columbia Missouri is already generating a lot of talk in town. Satisfied customers have been recommending HireTheBrain.com to friends and family and the business is growing quickly. The key is to grow the business at a sustainable rate and not sacrifice customer service during the process. We will post the link to the article when it comes out. Thank you all for your support and excitement surrounding HireTheBrain.com

Basic Brain

Hire The Brain….

December 12th, 2008

We have been doing in home service for several months now as HireTheBrain.com.  It has gone by quickly, and has been a lot of fun and learning for both Collin and I.  We just added the idea of Custom Built computers and have been amazed at the number of people who want to save some money but not sacrifice on quality.  The response has been tremendous.  We want to take a moment to thank everyone who has called and ordered a new PC.  Our next step is to approach the small business market here in Columbia, MO.  We feel we have found a niche market that could really benefit from having local Technicians and Custom Built computers.

We have also been approached by a local programming house wanting to know if we are interested in handling the in-home calls that they receive each week.  This is an exciting time for HireTheBrain.com and we want to thank each and every one of you who have taken a chance on a 15(just turned 16) year old young man who is living his dream of fixing computers at prices that don’t break the bank. 

Basic Brain

We live in a world of acronyms…

December 11th, 2008

For us in the tech world we live we acronyms.  Everything from IDE, SATA, OEM, PATA, and the list is endless.  Add to that things like object oriented programming, C, C Sharp, and C++ and you might as well be talking gibberish to our clients.  Now some of us hold to the idea that if we throw around these terms that the client will be impressed and never question us again.

The reality is quite different.  The minute that a company comes in and speaks English to these clients they will switch contractors.  Back in the days of 8088’s and 286’s I saw this happen all the time.  Doctors have taken a real interest in putting complicated medical terms into speech everyone can understand.  Lawyers are also joining the move to plain English.  It puts you and the client on the same page.  The client feels better about the work you do and trusts that you are doing what needs to be done.

“Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech” (2 Cor. 3:12)

 

People who are sold on the products and services they work with are very aware of the value of plain speech.  We should always strive to not talk over the heads of those who need our service. It may slow the conversation down but it will build loyalty to your company.

Tech Brain

Sears had it right…

December 8th, 2008

Many years ago, we won’t talk about how many, while I was in college I had a part time job working at Sears. I was young, impressionable, and had a work ethic my mother instilled in me from years of Saturday house cleaning, daily chores, and Hank Williams Sr. records playing through the whole house. My manager was a kindly old man, I think he was in his thirties, took me under his wing and taught me to sell. I use the term sell but it was really just a method of staying positive and presenting options without making the customer feel uncomfortable. Sears always had these wonderful little books filled with information about each and every product in the department. I worked in TV’s and Stereo’s and loved spending my time each evening talking tech with people and pointing out the differences between models.

Good, Better, and Best were the quality ratings that we used at the time. Good was acceptable, Better offered more features, and Best was the top of the line in both quality and performance. Recently I have been working with Collin to identify the quality differences between brands. We have spent many hours of late reading support forums on different hardware and taking a hard look at what computer companies have been putting inside the computers on sale in the marketplace. The results bought caused us to decide to offer Custom Built Computers to our customers. We set the following ground rules:

1. We do not sell hardware and we will not sell hardware. (This was a tough one seeing that we need to eat and keep the doors open.)

2. Offer a range of quality and prices and let the customers pick what works best for them.

3. Inform customers in as clear a manner as possible.

We took a page from the old Sears manual and came up with the following solution.

1. You list the software you use and how you use your computer.

2. You tell us your performance expectations; upgrade expectations, and life expectations.

3. We give you three options based on your answers to numbers 1 and 2.

The result is a method of recommending hardware and software that can remain unbiased, honest, and allow you to make an informed decision.

Example: The new “Core i7″ line of processors coming out  will require a new motherboard (LGA 1366) due to the new socket type.

1. You tell us you’re not as concerned about upgrade ability as you are cost. We can then recommend a lower cost motherboard and one of the current processors on the market and you just saved $300.00.

2. You tell us you are a technophile and must have the best and fastest the day it comes out. We recommend this new motherboard and processor that will keep you on the cutting edge of technology and you spend more to get the tech advantage you want.

3. You tell us that you need to connect an old digital camera, surround sound speakers, a writing tablet and that compatibility between all your hardware is more important than speed. We might go with the older motherboard, a current proven processor and more memory. You get something that you know is compatible and will save you some money and headaches as well.

We did also find a way to make a living doing this. We will put it all together for you at our usual reasonable rates. http://www.hirethebrain.com

Yes sir, Sears had it right. Good, Better, Best

Basic Brain

I have a nephew who….

December 7th, 2008

Ok guys and girls in the tech field the time has come to be big boys and girls and stop picking on the newbie’s to the biz.  Every day another gamer decides to enter the wonderful world of tech support and it breaks my heart to say we (as an IT community) tromp their hopes and dreams by using terms like newbie and lamer instead of embracing them into the fold.

The other day Collin got a call from one of his clients.  This client has been with me for over 15 years.  The client lives in another state and just so happens to be my sister and brother in-law.  They have a network of 10 computers or so, a web site, and there are a couple of custom apps they use that Collin and I have created.  Anyway, they had a printer die (like they all do in time).  They called a local computer store and ordered a replacement, asking the store to send out a tech to install the printer on the network.  The tech arrived and after looking at the job asked if he could make some changes to the network configuration.  He was politely told that a call would need to be placed to the 15 year old nephew first to approve the changes.  The tech then proceeded to say, “Everyone has a nephew who thinks he is a computer expert!”   The tech was surprised to find the owners unwilling to allow him to make changes to the network or use his company again. What a maroon! 

Long distance tech support is difficult at best and working with a local company for hardware and network support can be a life saver.  Embrace the nephews out there and be ready to assist where you can.  It is always been my policy to never criticize anyone’s work.  I try to teach and assist the nephews out there to understand the choices they have and the consequences of the choices they make.  The result has always been a happy client, an encouraged geek, and personal satisfaction for me, and yes, I make a few bucks too.

Tech Brain