Thursday, November 17, 2011

We go way too long without updating this...

We're spend so much of our time working with our local customers in our store, I am terrible... truly terrible about updating this site for any of the rest of you. A link today off of ReadWriteWeb made me think about it though. So if that's how you got here, HI!

It's been over 4 years since we moved into our new location. It's truly amazing how time flies. It hasn't been easy at all, but we're still here. As so many big chain stores in the area have gone vacant, we're hanging on as hard as we can through the economic struggles we all are suffering from.

But enough about that. I thought I'd give you a heads up about something we're finally going to do. Yeah, that 1000sqft training room in our store is soon going to see more activity than being my daughter's dedicated Wii studio. We're partnering up with Anthony Walker to bring you some new entry level PC, Office, and general electronics classes. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vim: From Essentials to Mastery at OLF 2011

Ohio LinuxFest 2011 is coming up next week, September 9-11. As part of OLF Institute, Bill Odom and Steven Pritchard will be teaching a full-day class on Vim on Friday, September 9. If you're like I was a year or so ago, and you think you know Vim just because you've been using vi forever, you really need to come to our class. Some of the things you can do with Vim will just blow your mind. (And if you don't even know vi, the class will be life-changing. :-)

The main conference is on Saturday, September 10. At 2PM, we'll have a special Vim Geeks Columbus BoF session which, like the rest of the conference on Saturday, you can attend for free.

For more information about the Vim class, see

For more information about OLF 2011, see the web site:

For more information about Vim Geeks, our local Vim users group, see

The full class description follows:

VIM: From Essentials to Mastery

Instructors: Steven Pritchard and Bill Odom

Vim deserves its reputation as one of the most powerful tools in an admin or developer's toolbox -- but it's not exactly friendly and approachable. Even long-time users rarely employ more than a fraction of its capabilities, and new users are often left wondering why so many apparently-sane people won't shut up about how awesome it is. The stark UI, the steep learning curve, the host of idiosyncrasies... mastering Vim is a challenge, and that's putting it politely.

In this class, you'll learn why it's worth the effort.

We'll start by covering the essentials of Vim, like modes, motions, operators, and commands, with an emphasis on why Vim works the way it does in addition to how it works. With the fundamentals firmly established, we'll work our way through real-world examples of using Vim to perform astounding feats that poor souls using lesser editors can only imagine. We'll cover ways to integrate Vim with your environment, tailor it to your work, and generally bend it to your every whim. We'll discuss important settings, advanced techniques, useful customizations, handy scripts, must-have plugins, crafty tips, and sneaky tricks.

In short, we'll explore how to use Vim most effectively, so it lives up to the awesome reputation that you'll soon be telling all your disbelieving friends about.

Bios: Steven Pritchard has nearly two decades of Linux and Unix experience. A dedicated Open Source advocate, he founded the Southern Illinois Linux Users Group in 1994 and has been a volunteer developer with Red Hat's Fedora Project since it began in 2003. He is also an author of the award winning LPI Linux Certification in a Nutshell, 2nd Ed (O'Reilly & Associates). Steven currently offers his technical services through the Computer Room, a retail technical sales and service company outside of St. Louis, Missouri.

Bill Odom has over two decades of experience as a systems architect and software developer, working on everything from wiki software for Internet startups to global identity management solutions for Fortune 500 companies. He's also a long-time member of the Open Source community, an active member (and periodic leader) of several user groups in the St. Louis area, and served as president of the Perl Foundation from 2005 through 2007.

Steven and Bill are both long-time users and advocates of Vim, and are the founders of the St. Louis Vim Geeks. They've given several well-received presentations, tutorials, and classes on Vim to many Midwest organizations.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Verizon 4G USB Sim Error

Are you getting the dreaded sim error or WMC671 error on your Verizon USB device? I'm willing to bet it's on your laptop and maybe every once in a while after a reboot or a hibernate the device works again. Maybe you get the error and it still connects to the internet anyway? Maybe you've figured out one of your USB ports works with it, but the others don't? It's not a very cordless approach, but get a powered USB hub (a USB hub that has a standard wall-outlet type power cord) and try that. It seems this little dongle is drawing just a little too much power and isn't negotiating with the laptop's USB power management very well.

Good Luck!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Customer Loyalty Warranty Program

Starting January 1, 2011, we will be offering a totally new kind of warranty, called the Computer Room’s Customer Loyalty Warranty. For 3 years after the purchase of a new desktop computer from us, we will cover all hardware and software incidents from failures to virus infections for only $25 an incident!** We hope this new warranty will be more budget friendly, and let customers worry less about needing expensive repairs because their problem wasn’t warranty related. We are frustrated with people feeling forced to choose to lose their photos and other important data on their computers because they don’t want the expense or hassle of repairing their computer. As the prices of big-box-store electronics continue to fall, this choice becomes harder and harder!

We can offer this loyalty service program because we are focused entirely on providing local support to our community. We don’t sell anything on-line. We don’t sell on Ebay or even Craigslist. We only want to service our neighbors. My husband and I have lived in Fairview Heights for 11 years and have been operating the retail store since 2004, opening originally in Fairview Heights and relocating to Shiloh in 2007. The Computer Room isn’t a franchise, we have only 1 location, and we both work here full time as well as 4 other full time employees. None of the us work here “on the side”. All of our family’s livelihoods depend on the business our customers bring us, thus their loyalty is important to our survival and we hope the change in warranty for computers purchased from us will increase our loyal customer base.

Since we began selling computer hardware independently in 2001, we have been sensitive to only offering parts with the best (and least needed) warranties that we were willing to use ourselves. There are places to save money, and there are places where cheaper alternatives may be available but we simply won’t offer them because they aren’t something we’re willing to use. We aren’t changing the selection of parts we use. We just want to address the trend that we see few hardware related failures that apply to normal warranties compared to the general need for more general help with fixing software problems, setting up services or other software/hardware devices, and unfortunately cleaning up viruses that typically aren’t covered by any other company’s support or warranty offerings.

As we all become more dependent on our computers for our families’ memories as well as important business and financial data we want to make sure our customers can focus on the importance of protecting those things, rather than worry about throwing away and buying a new computer every year or two. The savings from simple annual tune-ups, recommended for all Windows-based computers, will save our customers $225 (based on our repair prices, already lower than rates offered by local big-box-store repair centers) over the course of 3 years if they buy their computers from us, let alone if any help is needed for a virus infection or other software problem. We hope the easy to budget incident charge will simplify service for our customers allowing them to not put off small problems making it easier for us to fix and start minimizing data loss and customer down time. We don’t offer under-powered, under-cooled, or not-upgradeable computers to advertise bottom-dollar pricing. Our base units start at $600 for home systems, $800 for business systems with redundant hard drive storage and big gaming or development workstations from $1200.

Thank you for nearly 7 years of great local community support for our business. We know loyal customers are the key to our success hope to add more of our community to our loyal customer base with this new program and grow our support staff to keep up and contribute more to our local economy.

** A 90-day DOA warranty will still apply in case of bad or early product failure