If you frequented the Syracuse Coworks Space at the Tech Garden or visited the Apple store in years past you may have met with two partners who founded their own company in 2013 focused on being the technical go-to for people and companies not only in CNY but around the globe.
Syracuse New Times Tech writer Joe Cunningham caught up with the Wyants over some coffee.
Joe Cunningham (JC): Tell me about your business, what is Tech Geekery and what do you do?
Amy Wyant (AW): Tech Geekery helps both businesses and individuals make their technology “English” and not scary. We take every aspect of the things that you use, willingly or otherwise, integrate well together and with the user.
Checklist style: that includes a lot of things. Not only do we provide support ourselves, but we partner with about 15 people who add specialization to what we do. For example, I don’t spell well: you don’t want me to write code for you, but we have someone who will do that. By partnering with the best we can offer you a full-service tech firm.
Our cute one-liner is “We are geeks for hire.”
We have a long tail list of things we can do for you – including hardware, software, systems admin, networks, web design, app development, efficiency, and helpdesk both here and remotely.
Mike Wyant (MW): Common questions we get are: something – my network, internet, computer – doesn’t work. It’s usually ignited by a problem: someone’s system is down or got a bad hardware recommendation.
We analyze a lot more than you would think. For instance, those great houses – older city mansions – were built with plaster walls that don’t work well with wireless, stuff people weren’t thinking about 180 years ago.
If you can bring issues like that to the table, it really shows you know what you are talking about. We get a lot of “issue” calls, get in there, and establish ourselves as people who know what we are doing. This creates trust relationships and we are really able to help people.
Just with three of the fifteen of us, we have 44 years of IT experience.
Back in university we were part of a program that brought IT students into tech support to actually help the campus staff. We were a part of that and troubleshooted pretty much every tech problem without violating warranties.
JC: What trends in technology do you see as tech people?
MW: What I’m seeing is full integration into cloud technology from anywhere. For instance, Apple just rolled out Apple Pay where you can pay by swiping your phone with your fingerprint, etc. We have watches that can sync to your phone. All of this is via cloud computing.
We can see this trend emerging but the question is how will it develop or umbrella? Will it all be iCloud, or Dropbox becoming a “Box.com,” or Microsoft.
New dangers are arising as well. iCloud in China was attacked yesterday – not hacked, yet.
As people start going after credit cards via the internet, things get scary. A lot of people think it’s cool to unlock your door with your phone, but if you do that, thieves can get into your house without a key also.
[Amy picks up Mike’s iPhone 6 and asks to “Go Home” – receiving directions from Siri to Mike’s house. Note: Mike’s security settings wanted a passcode to get directions.]
AW: With technological advances coming so fast, often the protective knowledge that goes with them isn’t there. It’s very much the “With great power, comes great responsibility.” – but the consumer doesn’t get told as much about the responsibility as it is almost a Hogwarts “magic show” when emerging tech rather than a cautionary tale. Caution doesn’t sell as much tech.
MW: There are safety protocols out there, but people aren’t educated enough about them and which settings they need to have on (or off).
JC: What are you excited about most in technology?
AW: It’s always a double-edged sword: things are scary (mentioned above) but fantastic at the same time.
MW: With Yosemite (Apple’s latest operating system) they have this cool feature called “Handoff” where you can take a document from your desktop to your phone, go elsewhere and send it to the next device.
Whether you are working or playing, it’s really neat. Or being able to swap between any device – can’t beat that – it’s awesome!
On another technology point: increased bandwidth capability is emerging via fiber cables via a company called “New Visions Communications.”
AW: The way they are providing this service (increased bandwidth) is new: they are creating a tube that doesn’t bottleneck incoming or outgoing information.
MW: They are starting to come down here and run the hardware. People tend to love FIOS over Time Warner because of this technology.
AW: Everyone is running more info than ever before.
MW: And it’s not just about downloading but an incredible amount of uploading these days.
AW: For instance, if you’re making a movie, you can live edit on a system between New York and San Francisco. It opens up a lot of potential for person to person and B2B.
MW: We were recently working on a new system that offers a mind-boggling amount of connection: at home you probably use 35MB of bandwidth, we worked with 1GB, and now it’s up to 10GB.
AW: We are talking about boosting your internet speeds by 300 times what they are! That’s awesome and creates a pretty much limitless capacity of what you can do.
MW: I believe New Vision has every intention of connecting to the community right here down Salina.
AW: I’m on the board for the new Coworking Space here [the Tech Garden location moving down the street] and this tech will open up to us.
MW: We are tenants of Coworks and we love it!
AW: You never know what you will get when you put great minds together. Like Apple.
JC: Can you tell me about some of your most innovative projects?
MW: We were given a project – can’t give you specifics – but we were given as many resources as we needed to get the job done.
If we could set up an environment like that – with all the tools and no restrictions – it’s amazing what you can do.
Our mission really is to help people better things however it can be done. To steal a quote from Steve Jobs, to help people “Make a dent a universe.”
AW: This is probably not what you expected talking to a tech company.
JC: Actually, I find tech people are the meeting between the world of wanting to help the world and actually being able to do it. We are here in a coffee shop where people usually talk about those things but you guys are unique – you can actually figure out, i.e. how to solve problems via technology!
AW: Yes, the Hack for Hunger and Homelessness.
JC: Mike, you’re also writing book number two, tell us about that?
MW: I’m actually writing a novella that got honorable mention for the “Writers of the Future” contest. My name’s down at the bottom of the list because my last name begins with a “W.” [Laughs] Soundless is a speculative dystopian (post-apocalyptic) fiction where people have developed the capacity to telecommunicate and don’t speak.
I’m re-outlining my second book: redoing character development, that sort of thing. I’ve written everything on whiteboard walls but have let it sit so I can come back and look at it more objectively. I find I get into my own stories, which I think is great. I hear not every author does.
My books – series called The Sundering (one: Immortal and two: title in TBD) are based on two people given the gift of immortality: a lady who is 4,000 years old when most of these people who live unnaturally long die at 300; the other man is suicidal but cannot die. Some of the immortals cannot be found and it is up to the woman, Dervy, to find them.
JC: What are your hobbies outside of technology?
MW: I write and am a gamer: PC, Xbox, poker (but not with real money [laughs]).
AW: I love to read, watch Netflix documentaries, The Food Network, and am really involved with Syracuse First and local charities.
MW: I’m at home playing a game while she’s out doing some social work. [Both laugh]
JC: What would be your advice to anyone ignorant or interested in technology?
MW: Play, research, learn. It starts with the fun, the interest and then you want to know how to use it better.
AW: When it comes to learning, it’s also about learning what resources are available to you: where can I go, who can help me, what information is out there? Because once you know your resources, things aren’t as scary.