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Black Like Me

The end of summer, by the calendar if not by the thermometer, also means the end of Summer Blockbuster movie season and the return to the theaters of real movies for adults, which means the resumption of Sunday movie matinees for yours truly, the mom, and the lady friend. Yesterday we saw The Butler. The movie is really two stories. […]

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Bad Business

Because almost everyone has a computer these days, and because almost every computer breaks sooner or later, my customers tend to be a microcosm of Austin society. I see people of every age, every race, every profession, and every income level. I also see people of every ethical disposition, including, just often enough to be considered anomalous, people who clearly […]

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Of Time and Tides

It is maybe 20 minutes after sunrise, dead high tide on the West Passage of Passamaquoddy bay, at the southern edge of the Bay of Fundy. Despite the early hour the air is pleasantly warm, almost balmy, but when the wind blows just right, you can feel the cool breath of the North Atlantic, a short distance away. The air […]

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Love me, Love my Dog

Qui me amat, amet et canem meum “Love me, love my dog also” —Attributed to Julius Caesar Max wasn’t exactly the pick of the litter. He was the litter, the one and only occupant of his mother’s womb, as x-rays confirmed just days before he was born on my living room floor. I was there when he emerged, blind, helpless […]

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War and Remembrance

Today is Memorial Day. Officially the day we set aside to remember those who have died in the service of the country in wartime, unofficially the start of the summer season. As with most customs, the practice of Memorial Day has changed over time. Once a genuinely solemn occasion, Memorial Day is now little more than an excuse for backyard […]

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New Internet Scam Goes Retro

For several years now we have witnessed a parade of increasingly sophisticated scams involving various types of malicious software. In prior cases the software was typically spread anonymously, rapidly, through thousands of automated servers or through the use of suberfuge. But as the skill  and the reach of the attacks has increased, so has the sophistication of the countermeasures deployed […]

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On the Delicate Art of Saying “Scram”

A few years back I had a customer–I’ll call her “Jen”–who became a problem. She hadn’t started out a problem. In fact she was a pretty good customer for a good long run. Lots of issues, paid well and on time, gave referrals. The only obvious wrinkle was that she was pretty demanding, borderline neurotic actually, about getting things done […]

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A Modest Proposal

This posting will have nothing whatsoever to do with computers other than that it was written on one. It’s been some weeks now since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut. Everybody with a forum has posted their thoughts on this awful tragedy, and so having some thoughts of my own, herewith my two cents. First, there is […]

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FBI Virus Wreaking Havoc across US

The warning, delivered under an official-looking Federal Bureau of Investigation logo, goes something like this: Warning: Your PC is blocked for one of the reasons specified below. You have been violating Copyright and Related Rights law (Video, Music, Software) and illegally using or distributing copyright content, thus infringing Article I, Section B, Clause 8, also known as the Copyright of […]

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An Open Letter to Paul VanDevelder

Dear Paul: A recent op-ed piece  by you in the LA Times captured my attention a couple of days ago. Not that this piece, about a secession petition making the rounds in a few red states, was especially important or even well-written. It got my attention for approximately the same reason that a loud, obnoxious drunk a couple of tables […]

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Requiem for a Heavyweight

It’s been a few days now since the passing of Steve Jobs, on Oct 5, 2011. It is a measure of his stature as a public figure that most people probably remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news. Steve Jobs had many admirers around the world, as well as more than a […]

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Professional Discourtesy

Not too long ago I arrived at work one morning to find a message in my Inbox from “Concerned Citizen,” who had written us through the Contact Us form on our website. Concerned Citizen claimed to be a MacIntosh technician working in North Austin. He said that he had repaired a computer that we had previously worked on, and damaged […]

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The Good and the Bad of Customer Service

In this business you often have to deal with the customer service departments of hardware and software manufacturers. The experience can be easy and pleasant, frustrating and difficult to the point of enraging, or anything in between. After a while you get a pretty good idea of what kind of company you are dealing with based on their customer service. […]

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On the Care and Feeding of Digital Devices

A woman came into the shop the other day, obviously frustrated, even upset. She had two laptop computers that weren’t working. Both were older machines. One simply would not start, and the other had, apparently, a broken DC connector (the device that carries power into the laptop from an AC adapter.) One computer appeared to have a failed mainboard, making […]

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