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March 23, 2013

Local expert tackles tech troubles

By Cathy B. Koplen
The Daily Star

---- — Russ Trong has seen many changes in the computer industry in the nearly 15 years he has been in business.

Trong owns Personal Computer Service Inc., located at 314 Chestnut St. in Oneonta. He sells and services a variety of computers and computer accessories.

“When I first started in this business, not every household had a computer,” Trong said. “Those that did usually just had a desktop for the whole family to use. Now, it seems, every person in the family has their own laptop.”

Trong said he tries to make a perfect match between the computer and its owner. In addition, he offers a complete service package to ensure the customer will not be inconvenienced with computer problems.

“The key to my business, I think, is to be able to have the technical ability to service the computers and the ability to relate to the customer,” Trong said. “We fact-find. I never sell a computer just off the cuff. We want to find out what the customer is using the computer for so we can best meet that need.”

Trong said he services about 200 corporate computers from auto sales to dental offices. In addition, he sells accessories that are hard to find in many other stores.

Computers have become more affordable and there are many more choices. There are touch screens and large screen computers with a built-in monitor. Some computers are tables and personal computers in one. Most new computers are Wifi-driven and do not require hardwiring to get Internet service. They are lighter and faster. They can hold more memory and do multiple tasks simultaneously.

“Computers have changes a lot since 1999,” Trong said. “Back then people were comfortable turning on their computer, going for a cup of coffee and then checking back to see if it had booted up. Now people want to access their computer as soon as they turn it on.”

With smartphones, tablets, laptops and display computers available for a reasonable price, most people are dependent upon their information device.

Trong said he has not been adversely affected by the downturn in the economy because he services computers, both old and new.

“A man came in here with a 20-year-old computer and I was able to fix it,” Trong said. “It had value to him because he was using a specialized database program that you can’t get anymore.”

Although the price of computers has declined over the years as the market has become competitive and technology has improved, Trong said he does not think the modern computer has the same life expectancy as the older models.

Trong, a Cooperstown native, started his business out of his home in 1999. He said he has been interested in computers ever since high school. He went into the automotive repair business after he graduated.

He said working on the computers in cars was always a fascinating part of his job.

The year he decided to go into the computer business was the year of the Y2K scare. Y2K, an acronym for year 2000, referred to speculation by many analysis that computers — many of which had been programmed to record the date of entries using the last two digits of the year — would not recognize the year 2000.

Trong created a test to see if computers would make a smooth transition.

“I did some research to test computers,” Trong said. “I found that some failed to make the switch, but were able to be upgraded, some failed without the ability to be upgraded — but most of the computers were able to be upgraded.”