A Sad Farewell to The Computing Center’s First Client

 By Larry Baum


This past Saturday The Computing Center said a sad farewell to our first paying client.

Our dear friend, David Flinn unexpectedly passed away on December 23rd.  (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theithacajournal/obituary.aspx?n=david-galbraith-flinn&pid=187650477&fhid=11708)


As our business got started back in 1978, finding that initial customer, particularly one who was willing to pay for our goods and services was all-important. With that first paying client we became “real”. For us, that first client was David Flinn. 


Thirty-nine years ago Dave took a chance on our fledging computer company with our focus primarily on using computers within small businesses.  We started out providing him and his various businesses with billing and basic accounting software initially via access to mainframe and mini-computers. As the years went on and small computer technology became “faster, better, and cheaper”, we provided Dave with desktop computers for his offices and home, then laptops, wired and wireless networking all the way to today’s tablets and smart-technologies.  Our technicians and engineers regularly visited his home and offices to make sure that everything worked just so.  Dave became a familiar and welcome face in our offices too. Interactions with him were always friendly, good natured, and professional.


As we grew, even though Dave was no longer our largest client, he remained important to us – and taught us that clients of all sizes are critical to our success.  Our “service first” philosophy and treating all clients, whatever the size, with the same attention, comes directly from our early and continued interactions with David Flinn.


Along with being a client, Dave also gave us advice.  Not just on the specifics of what he wanted and needed from us for his businesses, but how we could become better known in the community and how to find and nurture new clients: “Join the Chamber of Commerce” and “Join Rotary!” were just two of his suggestions.


Taking Dave’s advice to heart, The Computing Center joined the Chamber of Commerce shortly after we formed the company. Over the years our involvement in the Chamber increased with Mary Stazi and I being board members, several staff members serving on various committees, and our helping the Chamber build its first website. 


I was a bit more reticent about joining Rotary.  I would be the youngest member. I didn’t like the idea of no women in Rotary and weekly attendance was essentially mandatory.  Dave, being a past Rotary president, assured me that there would be women members within 5 years (he was close – it took about 7 years) and the club would be OK if I missed a meeting or two. And he agreed that there should be more younger members too. So, I joined. What I found were a lot of people very interested in the new small computer technology and how it could be leveraged within their businesses.  I learned a lot about giving back to the community – just as Dave had done.  And I wasn’t the youngest member for long.  Mike Brown and Dave’s son, Dale joined soon after and were younger than me.  Today, the children and grandchildren of some of those Rotary members are now Rotary members – all giving back.


As you read Dave’s obituary, there’s a lot of reminders of what one person can do within a community and the impact they can have. David Flinn had a very meaningful impact on everyone he came in contact with especially on The Computing Center and on its founders.  He will be missed.

Ithaca VC - The Grind!

(Editors note: Ocassionally, we feature the Blogs and writings of local authors, Computing Center clients and others.)

Zach Shulman (the one who plays soccer) is a partner at Cayuga Venture Fund, teaches at the Johnson School of Management at Cornell, and is also the Director of Entrepreneurship@Cornell.  He maintains a Blog called Ithaca VC in which he writes about business, the local world of venture capital, and startups. www.ithacavc.com  Here is a Blog entry that warms the heart of anyone who owns their own business, runs an organization, or dreams about doing so!

The Grind!

The other day I was guest lecturing in a class and described running a startup to be like swimming in a Shawshank River.  There is a constant flow of problems building a company, but at the end might be salvation!


Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks

(Editors Note - Here are some of the basics regarding intellectual property that you may have within your business.. Our good friends Mike Brown and Chris Michaels are local Patent Attorneys in Ithaca.  For more information about intellectual property, checkout their website at: www.bpmlegal.com/)


As an entrepreneur or aspiring small business owner, one of the most significant considerations that may come to mind is how to protect your work. What steps should you take to ensure that someone else couldn’t lay claim to what your product or service? Does a patent, copyright or trademark apply? Here’s some clarifying information about patents, copyrights and trademarks and how to protect your intellectual property. 

The U.S. Copyright Office provides a clear distinction between these three types of protection:

  • Patents protect inventions or discoveries
  • Copyright protects original works of authorship
  • Trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party that distinguishes them from others


Cornell live Bird Cams

 Channel Banner

During this spring, the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology has set up two live "Bird Cam" sites.  This is an extraordinary way for bird lovers and others to check-in live on bird nests.  There are a Great Blue Heron nest and Red Tail Hawk nest both being live-streamed 24x7.  Along with the video streaming, there is a live-chat available as well, where viewers from around the world can ask questions and post comments about the birds.  Hundreds of thousands of viewers from around the globe have checked into the sites.  

This is a fascinating use of video and audio technology along with the Internet that can reach professionals, educators, students, and the general public all at the same time. 

Here is the URL to the Red Tail Hawk Cam.  The Great Blue Heron Cam can be tabbed from that page - enjoy.


NYSEG issues customer data warning

New York State Electric and Gas has reported a possible data breach of its customer data files in recent days.  Since the majority of our clients are NYSEG customers, we are suggesting that everyone follow-up on this information.  

It appears that sensitive NYSEG and RG&E customer information was put in the hands of a third party company who was doing programming work for the company. That company apparently did not have adequate data security systems and procedures in place to full secure that data.  


More Entries