Cheating obsolescence

Good luck finding something that’s built to last. Most mass-produced items are made to fall apart sooner rather than later. Or they become obsolete, like computers in particular, long before their components stop functioning. If you’ve had to upgrade your programs to be compatible with Windows 8 or, worse, had to upgrade your programs every time Apple changes its operating system (doesn’t that happen about every two weeks?), you’ve experienced the unpleasant side of obsolescence.

A local company’s stated goal is to help you beat the system. They’re doing it in a new shop that is prepared for its own obsolescence.

Brian Macaluso of Rosendale opened Tech Smiths in New Paltz in 2009. He said the store is the only Apple-authorized service provider in the mid-Hudson region. The repairs the shop can do under warranty can save you a trip to the closest Apple stores — in Danbury, Albany and the Palisades Mall.

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Tech Smiths is now adding a new, possibly temporary location in an Uptown Kingston storefront next to Boitson’s restaurant on North Front Street. “Our New Paltz shop is a cute little store,” Macaluso said, “but we’ve outgrown it. Our business exploded in a way we didn’t anticipate. We need more space. And there are so many other things we’d like to do that we can’t do at our New Paltz location — offer classes, expand more into the IT side of things, and this space in Kingston lets us do that.”

There’s no question there are a lot of Mac users in our area. Macs are required for musicians who record and edit using Logic, and for filmmakers who use Final Cut. Microsoft has generally held the edge in writing programs, with Word being the template that other programs mimic. But all those lines are blurring as both operating systems are now becoming compatible with each others’ programs.

“That creates challenges for Mac users who used to think they weren’t subject to the same virus threat that PC people face,” Macaluso said. “What they don’t know is if they open a Word document from an infected PC, it could easily infect their Mac. They wouldn’t see the symptoms, but they’d become a carrier and pass the virus on to other computers.”

Also, now that Macs are using Intel processors, they’re more vulnerable to malware that used to be PC-based. “I have customers who will tell me, I can’t possibly have a virus — I have a Mac!” said Macaluso. “It’s true that it still doesn’t happen a lot, but it is happening.”

As Macaluso expands in the new Kingston location into retail and IT, he also plans to offer more integrated Mac and PC services and classes to help people view their older computers as an opportunity.

“Some things you can’t get around through upgrades, but any machine that is no longer useful for Internet browsing might still be just fine for MS Word, Adobe Acrobat or any number of other programs,” explained Macaluso. “And today’s smartphones and tablets are changing the way we use our laptops and desktops anyway. Apple created the model that works, with smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops all able to access the same information.”

Pop-up stores aren’t uncommon in New York City, where valuable space often goes through several temporary tenants while a long-term tenant prepares to move in. Macaluso said Kingston offered him a gateway to other areas of opportunity plus the possibility of expanding into retail. The new shop could be temporary, he says, or it could end up being permanent. At this point, he just doesn’t know.

“We have a really positive reputation with Mac users,” he said. “I’ve got excellent people who know PCs as well as Macs. And I’m hoping to parlay the community respect we get for our service into the IT side of things. It’s also my goal to make the most of the opportunity to get more involved in the Kingston community in general.”

Ulster County recently had its electronics collection day at the landfill. Macaluso’s hoping that with a little help you’ll be able to avoid that trip for a few years.

 

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