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A Decade of Changes

“Time passes by so quickly. Change happens all around us every day whether we like it or not. Enjoy the moment while you can. One day it will just be another memory.”

This month marks the tenth anniversary of Calibre Computer Solutions. As I reflect back on this journey that began in 2004, I marvel at how quickly the years have passed and at the rapid changes in technology.

Many clients throughout the years have asked me, “How did you get into this business, Scott?” I thought now would be an appropriate time to briefly share my story with you.

The time was mid-2004. I was working full-time as a security dispatcher at Toyota.

Because I worked with computers since childhood, I had developed considerable knowledge about how they operated, how they failed, and how to fix them. Friends, family, coworkers and even strangers continually asked me to help solve their troublesome computer problems.

Dion Knight, one of my fellow crew members at Toyota, and I spent many late night shifts discussing our dreams, goals and desires to leave the daily grind of the corporate world. Both of us enjoyed our jobs, except for the 12-hour swing shifts that wreaked havoc on our sleep schedule and the constant pleas for us to work overtime.

Dion kept prodding me to start my own computer business. “You can do it,” he encouraged. “You have the knowledge and the skills. Go for it.”

After much brainstorming and planning, I opened Calibre Computer Solutions in September 2004. It was a very part-time venture. I hired a couple part-time technicians, who handled computer calls while I was working my full-time job.

Over the next few years, I changed jobs two times, all the while slowly growing and expanding Calibre. One of those jobs was in Evansville. Although it was an enjoyable position, the distance from my primary client base posed several challenges.

I finally returned to Princeton as full-time store manager of the now-closed All-Star Rentals. Being closer to home allowed me to better serve my clients and assist my technicians.

Calibre continued to grow as our marketing and referrals attracted new clients. I really needed to be at the office full-time, but I just wasn’t ready to give up the security blanket of a full-time job.

One day, Brad, the district manager, called me up to his office. He informed me that I was being let go. It took me by surprise, but it was the shove I needed. I was now free to be my own boss and pursue my dream to build a stellar business focused on serving clients in the best way possible.

(In case you’re wondering, Brad and I parted on good terms and are still good friends to this day.)

Faced with the “sink or swim” decision, I hunkered down and expanded my knowledge and skills in technology, business operations and marketing. I’m proud to report that Calibre is still going strong 10 years later.

Over these 10 years, technology has dramatically changed. Here are a few highlights:

  • In 2004, most computer users had a Windows XP machine. Some still used the Windows Me operating system, which Microsoft doesn’t like to fess up to creating.
  • We’ve seen XP finally laid to rest, suffered through Windows Vista, rejoiced at the release of Windows 7, and cried at the miserable failure of Windows 8 and 8.1.
  • Apple debuted its iPod player in 2001. Throughout the following 13 years, it has become the de facto brand of portable music player.
  • Cybersecurity threats have increased, requiring more diligence than ever by computer users to keep their personal information safe and secure.
  • Email has proliferated, along with spam messages. Google unveiled its free Gmail service in 2004. It’s now one of the top free email services.

Had you asked, “Scott, would you have imagined ten years ago that you would be doing what you’re doing now?” I would have said, “No.”

It’s been an amazing journey. I’m looking forward to what the next 10 years will bring.

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The Truth About Why Your Internet Is Slow

You’ve had a long, tiring day. You’ve slugged your way through another shift at work. You finally made it to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk that you’ve been out of for two days. You shuttled the kids from practice to practice.

Now you’re finally at home, ready to sit down and relax. Ready to be done with the stressors of life – at least until tomorrow.

While some may watch television or curl up to read a good book, you like to unwind by sitting down with your computer to watch some funny YouTube videos, browse social media sites, and stream a movie on Netflix.

But you quickly find yourself fuming because the Internet is running pathetically slow. Some web sites don’t even load, causing you to get an error message on your screen.

“Why doesn’t this thing work?” you mutter to no one in particular.

After a fighting with it for 15 minutes, you give up and just go to bed.

You are not alone if you’ve recently been frustrated with horrendously slow Internet speeds.

The common assumption is that there’s either a problem with your computer (“stupid technology!”) or it’s lousy service by your Internet provider (“I pay them big bucks every month, yet can’t provide quality service!”).

The truth is most slow Internet speeds are due to intentional congestion by last mile Internet Service Providers (such as Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and AT&T) and by outdated equipment that handles worldwide Internet traffic.

Outdated Internet equipment

On August 12, the Internet came to a crawl in the early hours of the morning and lasted throughout the day. This had been predicted by Internet engineers as early as May. “We expect to see/hear of some bugs … not earlier than August and not later than October,” one wrote.

Cisco, a leading manufacturer of networking equipment, warned its customers about the problem and recommended upgrading the older equipment. Of course, many Internet Service Providers didn’t spend the money to do so at the time.

Now that the issues have surfaced, these companies will be forced to upgrade or replace the outdated Internet equipment. Once done, this part of the slow Internet problem will be fixed for good.

But as this equipment is replaced, you and I will periodically experience more slow Internet speeds.

Intentional congestion

The other reason you experience slow Internet speeds is because some Internet Service Providers, such as Time Warner Cable, Comcast, AT&T and others, intentionally clog up the Internet. At least this is the accusation made by Mark Taylor, vice president of Level 3, which is a backbone Internet provider.

You can compare the worldwide Internet to the blood vessel system in your body. It is comprised of main arteries that carry large amounts of blood to the main parts of your body. Blood vessels and veins then carry that blood to the outlying parts of your body, such as your fingers, toes, lungs, etc.

Backbone Internet providers are the main arteries transmitting web content all over the world. They have thousands of miles of fiber and cable allowing for lightning fast speeds to dozens of last-mile Internet Service Providers.

Last-mile Internet Service Providers are the tinier vessels that connect to the arteries and deliver the web content to individual homes and businesses.

These last-mile providers, according to Taylor, are connecting to the backbone providers on connections that are heavily utilized and congested, causing the slow Internet speeds for users like you and me.

It means that streaming videos on Netflix or YouTube results in buffering, where the video stops and starts, stops and starts. It means that video calls on Skype and other voice over Internet calls may be choppy.

Taylor wrote, “Congestion that is permanent, has been in place for well over a year and where our peer refuses to augment capacity. They are deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers.”

The worst part is most of these ISPs causing the congestion have no incentive to change it. In many cases, only one Internet Service Provider serves a community, leaving consumers with no alternative or recourse.