Stuck at Home with a Broken Device? Not Anymore

        

Understatement of the new decade: the situation is really tough right now. Now that the Bay Area and Washington State have locked down to protect us from the spread of COVID-19 (thank you!), so many of us are working from home, trying to keep ourselves and each other safe. But what happens when the phone or laptop that allows you to be a crucial part of the WFH taskforce suddenly develops a problem? If this were a few days ago, when Genius Bars and Geek Squads had all shut down, you’d be stuck. Today, though, ComputerCare has a solution. We are proud to announce the initiation of our completely COVID-safe service process! Outside our offices in Santa Clara and Seattle, we have installed secure drop-off lockers where walk-in clients can now safely deposit their devices for service and repair.

Our New COVID-Safe Service Process

Clients simply need to fill out a service ticket for Seattle or the Bay Area. Your email confirmation will contain COVID-safe drop-off instructions, so you can drive to our Seattle or Bay Area ComputerCare location, find the correct locker and enter the combination code in the padlock to leave your device inside. 

After we diagnose your device, we will contact you to explain the service and, for out-of-warranty repairs, collect your payment method. Then, as soon as your device is ready, we’ll email you to confirm your preferred pick-up date. The day of your scheduled pick-up, you will receive an email with the correct locker and combination. Please note that turn-around times may be slightly lengthened, but we’ll do our best to get it back to you as fast as current circumstances allow!

Our Safety Measures

To safeguard you and our technicians, you will not interact directly with anyone during the drop-off at our lockers. Surfaces will be wiped down by our employees with disinfectant after each use to ensure proper sterilization practices are taking place. Signage will also be posted to remind you to maintain a ten-foot distance from anyone else at the lockers. 

At the same time, to make sure your devices are protected, the padlock combinations will be changed after each use. Phone support will be provided throughout the whole process, updating you on receipt, diagnosis, invoicing, and repair of your device. We can also be reached in case of technical difficulties with the lockers. 

No matter what happens, ComputerCare is going the extra mile to provide the COVID-safe support you need to work from home with all your devices in tip-top condition. If you already need a device repaired or just want more information about your options, visit our information page!

CES 2020 Happened in January…Let’s Take a Look at the Highlights!

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The world of tech is always changing, and innovators are feeling especially daring at the start of a new decade. That’s why we wanted to give you a look at the new tech unveiled at CES 2020 in January of this year. 

First, let’s talk about the items that we all want to own (whenever they actually appear on the market). There’s the electric bike that operates like a hydrofoil, which means you can ride it on water! There’s also a really cool soundbar from Vizio that isn’t only nice to look at. It also adjusts speaker angles to optimize it for use as part of a home theater or to blast your favorite Spotify playlist.  

Next, there were a couple of tech innovations that might actually make the world a better place. The people behind Impossible burgers came out with a new Impossible Pork. This is key for reducing carbon emissions worldwide, given that pork is the most common form of meat consumed in the most populous parts of the globe. Vegans might even get to enjoy meatless bacon! Another potentially life-changing development for amputees is the BrainCo Dexus prosthetic arm. Controlled directly by the brain and only a quarter of the price of traditional prosthetics, this device could drastically improve the lives of many veterans and persons with other conditions. 

The final area we want to look at is some new tech that might come through ComputerCare’s doors either this year or sometimes in the next decade. We were especially intrigued by Lenovo’s folding ThinkPad. As our customers know, we sell Lenovo products and also provide repair services for Lenovo Think models. Who knows? In the very near future we may be working on repairing one of these cool, convertible, all-in-one folding devices. We stay up-to-date with the latest tech, so if you get your hands on a ThinkPad X1 Fold, don’t hesitate to bring it to us for care and repairs. 

And in the meantime, while we’re still waiting for the tech giants to roll out their new inventions, don’t forget that we’ll take care of your favorite laptop or smartphone or desktop. Our diagnostic fee is just $49, and waived if you choose to repair your device with us. Contact us today for more information. 

When Rebooting Isn’t Enough: Issues to Take to the Experts

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Admit it: your heart sinks a little bit every time you see it—the legendary blue screen of death. After all, it involves the word ‘death,’ which is never reassuring. The most pressing question in the moment, however, is not what funeral arrangements are called for, but what you should do with your device. Rebooting always seems like a good call, but when faced with the specter of technological mortality, can that possibly be enough?

Luckily, we are here to help you determine whether your computer problem (blue screen of death or other) is worthy of expert assistance.

Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)

When you see one of these in a PC (or the gray screen/kernel panic equivalent in a Mac), it means that your system encountered such a serious issue, usually involving hardware or drivers, that it had to stop forcefully . If you have the presence of mind, you can note down the STOP code that will appear on the screen so you can look up the cause of the BSOD. If, however, you are lacking the superhuman calmness that would allow you to record this code, it’s always a good idea to bring your computer to a technician who can run diagnostics on your device to determine the exact cause of the BSOD.

Blank Monitors, Jumbled Graphics

Another set of heart-stopping issues you may encounter involve your device’s display. If you turn on a desktop or laptop, only to discover that the monitor remains blank or fills with jumbled graphics, you may have a problem on your hands. Experts recommend connecting your computer to another monitor to see if the problem persists. If the new display remains dark or jumbled, you know the problem is with the computer itself; if it lights up just fine, then you know your problem is with the monitor or screen of your device. Armed with this information, you can take your computer to an expert to ask for advice and support on repairs. 

Eternal Troubleshooting

Not every hardware problem is easy to pinpoint. Hardware problems with the motherboard or power supply may only manifest through odd quirks in other components. Sure you can spend hours switching out different components in an attempt to determine which one is faulty, but not everyone has boxes of spare components sitting around and purchasing new ones can get pricey. That’s why the best solution can be to bring your device to an expert service provide like ComputerCare. Computer repair technicians do have the necessary tools and components to diagnose the exact problem with your computer and replace hardware as necessary. Save yourself the headache of figuring it out by contacting ComputerCare today.

It’s true that plenty of computer problems can be solved with a judicious combination of persistence and Google searches, but sometimes you really do need an expert. If that’s the case, feel free to submit a service ticket to ComputerCare. We’re always here to conduct BSOD post-mortems and even perform a little wizardry to bring your computer back to life. 

Some Key Words on Keyboards

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I’m willing to bet you don’t give your computer’s keyboard much thought (beyond the occasional cleaning of all those muffin crumbs). Typing is so second nature to most people, they probably don’t stop to think, “Why are keyboards arranged this way?”

That’s a good question, especially as we move farther away from physical keyboards.

The History of QWERTY

There are a lot of myths surrounding the development of the QWERTY keyboard. The most common story goes like this: Christopher Latham Sholes, a printer and newspaper man in Milwaukee, WI, wanted to make his business more efficient, so he developed an early version of the typewriter in 1868. This 28-key version arranged everything alphabetically, because, why wouldn’t you? It was thought to be easiest and most familiar way to arrange the keys, resulting in the least amount of hunting and pecking.

The most common theory explains that Sholes moved away from this arrangement because of mechanical failings. If typed on too quickly, the mechanisms would get jammed. The QWERTY keyboard was supposedly designed to separate common sequences of letters to slow typists down, and reduce the number of malfunctions.

By 1878, Sholes was issued a U.S. Patent with the first documented appearance of the QWERTY layout, entered into a business arrangement with gun-maker Remington the same year, and by 1890, sold more than 100,000 QWERTY-based typewriters across the country.

There’s another theory that basically boils down to the monetization of the proprietary system: Along with selling typewriters, the company also sold training courses, creating brand loyalty and QWERTY-trained typists.

Other keyboard arrangements have been developed since (the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard, for example), but the prevalence of QWERTY since its inception 140 years ago has remained beyond its mechanical necessity.

Keyboards Today

Through the advent of personal computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and more, the QWERTY keyboard remains. Even though we interact with it differently (texting with one hand, say, or typing with your thumbs) the familiar pattern is still there.

Even so, the next wave of college graduates set to join the workforce were raised with touch devices, and as those new workers replace those who are retiring, the reliance on physical keyboards may see a shift.

So is QWERTY going to die out? Probably not (right away).

In a recent report on consumer trends, the sales of tablets are trending down, but the market for 2-in-1 laptops (tablets with detachable keyboards) is expected to grow at 21.2%, suggesting the desire for a typing device is still strong.

Still, that mechanical keyboard might eventually become obsolete. The technology developing around touchscreen keyboards (and maybe even VR keyboards) is getting better all the time, with the use of next-generation haptics to simulate the experience of typing on a physical, push-button keyboard. Other developments in technologies such as AI and voice recognition may also lessen the need for physical keyboards.

Any maybe, as this article suggests, for technology to truly take the next big leap, we need to rethink the way we interact with computers – through a keyboard, mouse, or touch screen – all together.

via GIPHY

Either way, if you’re still able to drop it, we’ll still try to fix it. 🙂

Georgia Rittenberg discusses the value of training in Network Computing

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For some interesting insight into how a small company like ComputerCare tackles the chronic shortage for skilled workers, check out this article by our president, Georgia Rittenberg. The story, which focuses on the value of ongoing training in the workplace, was published recently in Network Computing.

Here’s an excerpt:

“With companies spending so much time and energy searching for the right talent, it’s imperative that they work hard to keep employees once they’re in the door. But offering a competitive salary and benefits is just a starting point. By establishing a robust training process that gives employees upward mobility and broadens their skill sets, companies can not only improve retention, but increase the quality and productivity of their staff…

… We’ve built a nimble team with transferrable skills, a quality that I often see mirrored in other successful small companies. Technicians can handle device repairs for every device across all of our OEMs, and customer service representatives are able to handle tasks like verification of device warranty status prior to the diagnostics phase with a technician. We’ve learned that teaching new skills to people is far easier than correcting bad habits picked up elsewhere. It may take more time, but it creates a higher quality employee who is engaged and worth his or her weight in gold.”

Enjoy!