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28
Aug

The Other Shoe (or, More ATT Idiocy)

Yesterday morning (Tuesday, August 27th) all was well with our Internet service.  But then…but then…we came back from lunch and Internet didn’t work — no signal, a red light on the modem instead of the usual green.

So I called AT&T help for what seems like the hundredth time, and after much phone menu and waiting because “all our associates our busy helping other customers” (well, you need MORE associates, right?), Allan came on, collected some info, and determined that our service had been turned off, for reasons yet to be determined.

The only thing to do was to establish a new account, which involved him going back and forth on the phone to Sales while I waited, waited (the whole process took about 2 hours on the phone).

Turns out that someone at AT&T named Rosita Borg had canceled our Internet (“Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated”).  AT&T thought that we had a Uverse installation scheduled for yesterday (no, it happened Aug. 20th), and the only way they know to start a new service is to turn off the old one.  (Some words like “moron” come to mind here.)

One final thing: while on the phone to Allan, someone from AT&T called about the install scheduled for today.  I assured her it had already happened, wasn’t necessary — and on the way to work this morning, I wondered if they would regard what I said as cancelling service and just turn everything off.  No, all is well so far today.

23
Aug

Soft Opening

We’re having a “soft opening” of the Out Front Flipstand DBA (doing business as) Roll Over Rover — next Friday, August 30th, at The Jones, Side B (203 SW 2nd Ave.) as part of the monthly ArtWalk in Dowtown Gainesville.

Here’s a picture of Lex assembling the 10th of 10 completed Flipstands — Scott at The Top, a local restaurant, is interested in buying 5 of them.

Lex Assembling 10\10 Flipstands

Lex Assembling 10\10 Flipstands

At Artwalk at The Jones Die B, we’ll have Flipstands on display, and for sale.  Can’t really expect a lot of small business owners to be going from venue to venue for ArtWalk, but who knows, really?  And perhaps people looking for art will want to buy one as sculpture — I’ve looked at them and said out loud, “These are just too beautiful to use for a business POS; they’re more like sculpture.”  Hey, if someone wants to buy one, it’s not our business to worry about how they want to use it — be a shame to have people using them for weapons, but we have no control over that.

And here, just a few minutes later, is a completed Flipstand with an iPad and a Square card reader — just the way we envision they’ll be used in hundreds, or thousands, of small businesses across the universe.

Flipstand with iPad & Square

Flipstand with iPad & Square

Looking forward to Friday.

10
Aug

Out Front Flipstand, Inc.

Our flipstand business venture is up and rolling, little by slowly.  Quite a list of things we’re checking off that go into establishing a new business: legal incorporation, opening a bank account, patent application and trademark registration, getting a Website built.

Oh, and manufacturing our product, the Out Front Flipstand, so that we can sell them.

Pictured is a flipstand in use at Volta Coffee here in Gainesville, 4 blocks from our shop.

Flipstand being used by a barista at Volta Coffee

Flipstand being used by a barista at Volta Coffee

What you can’t quite see in the picture is that our barista is typing in a charge on an iPad (any tablet will work), and that attached to the iPad is a Square (visit http://www.onsquare.com), a free reader for credit cards.

After the clerk finishes her entry, the stand is flipped toward the customer

Flipstand facing the customer

Flipstand facing the customer

In this picture you can see the Square attached to the top right of the stand and the iPad screen.  The customer puts in his\her info, and the transaction is complete.

Large businesses (think Wal-Mart) have multiple cash registers for computerized sales\inventory; smaller businesses have smaller POS (point-of-sale) devices.  But the businesses we’re targeting might have 5-10 employees or less with a 600-800 square feet shop;  for them, large cash registers or other POS devices are too expensive — an initial $800 and a charge of $0.40 for each transaction.

The flipstand solves those problems — $200 retail, plus a tablet computer.  (No reason for the tablet computer to :live” in the shop — a small business owner might want to just take if off the stand and use it for a home computer.)

If you’d like to learn more, comment on this post or back-channel me at bpieters3@gmail.com

9
Aug

A Happy Ending!

So, at about 11:30, UPS delivered a package for me from AT&T.  A new modem, a few DSL filters for phones, a couple of other cords.  Spent the last hour setting it up, and now I’m using my new AT&T Internet service to post this.

Whichever AT&T rep I spoke to most recently did say that it would be a self-install, that they were sending me a package by the end of day today (came a good bit earlier).  This info conflicted with the other info that an installer would come and bring a new modem, and I’m still verrrrrry unhappy that it took the better part of two weeks, many phone calls, much phone-menu-surfing, much being on hold, and quite a few emails, tech-support site visits, and use of my installed AT&T Troubleshooter.

Oh yeah, and doing the modem registration, file download, Windows updating twice (it takes a good 30-40 minutes).

Is this a cool modem or what?

Is this a cool modem or what?

But it’s done, (fingers crossed) working, very strong signal.   Would I recommend AT&T to a friend or another business?  Don’t know about that.

9
Aug

The Comedy Continues

When last we were discussing the AT&T installation of phone\Internet, Bob had just installed them…I thought.

Came Tuesday morning, August 6th, and when I came into the shop I registered the (AT&T) modem, set up the Internet, did a bit of work online.   And then…no more Internet.  Tried everything I could think of, then finally called Bob (good of him to leave a number), and he told me that the work order was just to set up phone service.  I thought, say what?  Why would we do that?  And why then did Internet work for 45 minutes?  His theory was that the building previously had Internet service, that I had logged on using that, and the previous service had somehow got turned off.

Puzzling, isn’t it?  After much phone calling, I was told by AT&T customer reps (motto: “Doing everything possible to make sure nothing works”) that the Internet install was scheduled for TODAY, Friday August 9th.

Bob told me yesterday afternoon that they’re very busy, but he’ll try to make sure I get Internet first thing this morning.  It’s now 9:46, still waiting, thoroughly lacking confidence that AT&T Internet will happen.

Oh well, there’s always Gru.net.  Another neighbor in the building, Fracture, has Gru.net and likes it just fine.

9
Aug

AT&T Comic Opera (Tragic?)

Trying to get AT&T phone and Internet service here at Studio Circle Square\Out Front Flipstands, Inc., and it’s turned into an Opera Bouffe (Comic Opera).  And, as with all comedy, there’s an underlying sadness.

It all started way back in July, when I called AT&T on July 29th to get phone\Internet service installed — we decided on AT&T because another business in our building, Skaanska, has it and says it works fine, so we knew the wiring was already in the building.

Got an installation scheduled for a Thursday, August 1st, between 1-6 P.M.  About 3 P.M. I called to see if I could find out when the service technician would arrive–only to be told that they could find no record of an installation scheduled.

What to do, what to do?  Decided to give it one more try, so the next day called again, got an installation scheduled for Monday, August 5th, between 9 A.M. and noon.  At 12:15 on Monday I called to see why the installation hadn’t happened, only to be told (wait for it, wait for it) that there was no record of an installation scheduled.

Then it gets better: 1:30 that afternoon, got a call from an ATT&T service tech named Bob who said he had a work order to install phone\Internet, was 2 blocks away and on his way.

Bob installed the stuff (I thought), and it was time to shut down for the day.

And then…and then… (to be continued)

2
Aug

Out Front Flipstand

For the past month or so, I’ve been working with old friend Lex Dold at his Circle Square shop, where we manufacture things out of metal and wood (and paint or otherwise finish them),  Shown below is a set of 4 tables made of Cypress.   We used biscuits and glue to fasten the pieces together, and here the glue is drying.

Cypress Table, Glued & Clamped

Cypress Table, Glued & Clamped:

Table_Clearcote

And here are the tables again, with Lex wiping off the excess finish (Dark Walnut stain) so that they can be clearcoted and buffed.

We’re also starting a new business, Out Front Fipstands.  We’ve incorporated the business with the State, opened a bank account, and are in the process of registering a trademark.

Our Flipstands are made of steel, which must be first cut into shapes and then welded into the trademarked Flipstand design, which works with Squares, a free card reader that allows small businesses to process customer credit-card payments using an iPad or other tablet computer.  (Go to http://squareup.com to find out more and\or sign up for your own free Square card reader.)

The Flipstand has a small footprint, appropriate for small shops, and easily flips over to allow both clerk and customer to use the tablet to transact a sale.  (The type of card reader used by large businesses calls for not only a substantial initial expense put also charges a $.040 fee per each transaction — expenses the Flipstand does away with.)

photo

The picture shows Lex working behind a small “army” of Flipstands  that are mostly finished, cut, welded, ground and sanded–so they’ll be smooth to the touch for both customers and clerks.

The final stage of the Flipstand process is painting, done in the Out Front Flipstand paint shop.