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593 posts categorized "Tech/ computer news"

April 21, 2015

KTTC-TV disappears from DirecTV lineup

Area DirecTV customers were surprised to find the Rochester NBC affiliate, KTTC, dark this morning, due to a contract issue.

Customers trying to tune into KTTC were met with this message: "The owner of this channel has removed it from our DirecTV lineup, despite our repeated requests to keep it available to you."

KTTC posted a news article this morning that said DirecTV had removed their station "as the result of the expiration of an extension which was in place while we were negotiating a new carriage agreement with them."

No one was available at DirecTV or KTTC to discuss this issue this morning.

The Rochester station made this CDHU_0KUEAARhtUstatement in their news article:

"KTTC and its parent company, Quincy Newspapers Inc., are in contact with DirecTV and are working hard to resolve the matter so DirecTV will return KTTC to their system. We realize this is a significant inconvenience for our viewers."

KTTC is in not the only regional station owned by Illinois-based Quincy Newspapers to disappear from DirecTV last night. Also pulled do to the dispute were WKOW-TV, an ABC affiliate in in Madison, Wis., and KWWL-TV, an NBC affiliate in Waterloo, Iowa.

DirecTV has a general statement about such disputes on its website:

"When contract disputes arise over station owners’ unnecessary increases in what you should pay for these free over-the-air stations, DirecTV will never remove them from your lineup. Period. Station owners may try to avoid their responsibilities to you, but make no mistake: the station owners are the only ones who can decide to take away your local stations."

April 20, 2015

Tech duo boots up new Rochester computer shop with 3D twist

A pair of tech expects have opened the doors of a new computer retail and repair plus 3-D printing shop in northwest Rochester

Darwin Kock and co-owner/manager Phil Rodriquez booted up PCz Unlimited on April 9 at 4208 U.S. 52 North in the Rochester Shopping Center. The 1,000-square-foot store is tucked in between Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping and Harbor Freight Tools.

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate brokered the deal between the landlord and tenant.

PCz Unlimited sells new computers and accessories as well as offering an extensive array of repair services as well as building custom-made machines. The business is geared toward small business customers and individual users.

"We can fix just about everything," said Rodriquez. "I'm Apple certified, so I repair Apple machines and PCs. We can do system upgrades, data recovery, virus removal and remote support. We can fix iPhones, iPads or whatever."

The shop's offerings go beyond just the traditional computer products.

"We offering some tech that's hard find to in Rochester right now, 3-D printers" said Kock. "What we're trying to do bring the technology to the Midwest that it currently lacks. Nobody's carrying this on their shelves now."

In addition to Rodriquez, the pair expect to add at least part-time employee soon.

March 06, 2015

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post. Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my sixth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More  than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to businesPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11s in southeastern Minnesota.

It'syou, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years. 

10 years of blogging Rochester

On March 4, 2005, I wrote my first blog post.Kiger's Notebook blogo 2x

It was my siPhoto on 2015-03-03 at 18.11xth year at the Post-Bulletin. I created the "Heard on the Street" column about three years before the blog began. 

More than 6,200 posts, stacks of columns, mountains of tweets and many gray hairs later, I'm still here writing about business and things vaguely related to business in southeastern Minnesota.

It's you, the readers, who make this career such a fulfilling and entertaining one. Thank you everyone for your feedback, criticism and support over these past 10 years.  

November 24, 2014

Bandel Road Business Center sold for $1.6 million

A commercial center on Rochester's Bandel Road recently sold for almost $1.6 million as an investment for the future.

Vance Prigge, majority owner and president of Atlas Insurance Brokers, bought the Bandel Road Business Center at 5721 Bandel Road N.W. from local architect David Kane. Its current tenants are Kelly Services and Thrivent Financial. There's about 2,000 square feet still available for another tenant.

64585318ee614fa1aaade37b6bf6b76cPrigge describes the purchase as an investment with an eye to possibly use the building as a home for Atlas Insurance in the future. However, he has no immediate plans to make any moves or change anything about the building. He bought the property through his corporation, Centurion Blue Holding, LLC.

Commercial Realtor Scott Hoss handled the purchase for Rochester's Paramark Real Estate Services. Gary O’ Conner from Security State Bank of Wanamingo handled the financing.

The center was built by Rochester developer Jeff Brown in 2007.

November 05, 2014

Marco business systems is on the move

A business technology firm will soon move out of its northwest Rochester complex.

Marco Inc. plans to move out of its long-time Rochester headquarters at 3416 Lakeridge Place N.W. to another office complex at 1014 Bel Air Lane N.W., just off 37th Street, says Regional Sales Manager Judy Weller.

The plan is to make the move on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25. Marco, which is based in St. Cloud, has about 18 employees on staff in Rochester, according to Weller.

"We think this will be a more functional space for us," she said. "We have a large garage in our current building, which we Marco:venture buildingnever use."

Marco, which is employee-owned, plans to lease the new office space. It currently leases the Lakeridge Place complex from Jon Eckhoff. He built the 9,794-square-foot facility in 2005 for his company, Venture Computer Systems.

The St. Cloud company entered the Rochester market in 2009 when it bought Venture from Eckhoff. He retained ownership of the building. Eckhoff went on to serve as the executive director of the Rochester Downtown Alliance for five years and now works for Jaguar Communications.

Marco offers a wide array of technology services involving networking, telephone systems, video conferencing, IT consulting as well as selling printers and copiers. It has offices throughout the Midwest in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota and Illinois.

October 16, 2014

Accused doctor 'disappointed' by Mayo Clinic lawsuit

A former executive accused of allegedly stealing trade secrets says he's "disappointed" in Mayo Clinic's lawsuit against him, in a statement released by his attorney.

Franklin-cockerillOn Tuesday, Mayo Clinic filed a lawsuit (The complaint is posted here) alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract against Dr. Franklin R. Cockerill III, who was president and CEO of the for-profit Mayo Medical Labs for eight years. Mayo Clinic released the lawsuit to the media of Wednesday.

"Dr. Cockerill is disappointed that the Mayo Clinic has made such allegations and publicized its unproven claims in the media," according to a statement released by Nancy Brostrom Vollertsen, a Minneapolis attorney with Lindquist & Vennum LLP, on Wednesday. "Dr. Cockerill holds a stellar reputation in the medical community and has devoted more than 30 years of his life to the Mayo Clinic and the Rochester Community."

The message from Vollertsen also stated that, "We will be filing responsive pleadings in this matter shortly."

The lawsuit alleges that Cockerill covertly accepted a job with a major competitor of Mayo Medical Labs in June, but he told Mayo Clinic that he was "retiring" at the end of September to help his 85-year-old mother run her fertilizer business in Nebraska.  From June to September, he continued to work at Mayo Medical Labs, attending confidential meetings and negotiating contracts.

On Oct. 1, he stepped into the position of vice president and chief laboratory officer with New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics Inc., a multibillion-dollar public company. The complaint filed by Mayo Clinic claims that Cockerill was in communication with Quest throughout his final months and he left with clinic-owned memory sticks with data downloaded from his workstation.

“By failing to disclose his conflict-of-interest, Dr. Cockerill’s actions were in violation of Mayo Clinic conflict-of-interest/compliance policies that all staff members agree to on an annual basis, and have put at risk the business strategy of Mayo Medical Laboratories," said a statement released by Mayo Clinic spokesman Bryan Anderson.

Vollertsen, a former partner with the Dunlap & Seeger law firm in Rochester, responded that there as nothing sinister about Cockerill's departure.

"He opted for early retirement at the Mayo Clinic's invitation and is not subject to any non-compete or other agreement that would limit his activities after leaving Mayo," she stated.

Cockerill was a high-profile leader at Mayo Clinic during his about 30 year career here. He was the chief of Mayo Medical Labs as well as the chairman of Mayo's Laboratory Medicine and Pathology department since 2006.

He managed more than 3,200 employees in that role, according to Quest. Mayo Medical Labs performs about 20 million tests for more than 4,000 hospitals annually.

Mayo Clinic paid him a total of $591,413 in 2012, according to the clinic's 990 form filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

In August, Cockerill officiated the ceremonial ground-breaking of an almost 70,000-square-foot expansion of its Superior Drive Support Center, where Mayo Medical Labs is based.

"His character and high level of integrity speak for themselves," stated Vollertsen.

October 13, 2014

Mayo, Cardio3 sign deal to expand collaboration

Mayo Clinic has deepened its long-time relationship with Cardio3 Biosciences by giving the Belgium firm "preferred access" to new regenerative-medicine discoveries.

Having preferred access means staff from Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine meet with Cardio3 on a quarterly basis to discuss technologies and research that are in the "pipeline," according to Michael Pfenning, center administrator. This gives Cardio3 the first chance to ask to license, purchase or otherwise work with the center's regenerative-medicine research.

008661829The access began on Oct. 1 and runs to December 2017. It then could be extended, if both parties agree.

Mayo Clinic and Cardio3 have collaborated for many years on the cardiopoiesis technology the company uses to repair patients' hearts by re-programming their own stem cell to regenerate cardiac tissue. Cardiopoiesis is a process that "re-programs" stem cells taken from a patient's bone marrow from their hip. Those re-programmed cells then are injected back into the patient's heart to repair damaged tissue.

Cardio3 BioSciences has licensed Mayo Clinic's research in this area, since 2007. That research was led by Mayo Clinic's Dr. Andre Terzic and Dr. Atta Behfar. Dr. Terzic, who along with Mayo Clinic has a financial interest in Cardio3, also is the director of Mayo Clinic's Center for Regenerative Medicine.

Mayo Clinic is helping Cardio3 with its new phase III clinical trial of its regenerative therapy. The trial is approved to recruit up to 240 patients and it is expected to begin in January. Rochester Area Economic Development Inc., the City of Rochester and Mayo Clinic are establishing a 2,000-square-foot facility in the Minnesota Biobusiness Center to freeze and prepare patient samples for shipping to Belgium.

"We have a great relationship with them from a commercialization perspective," said Timothy Argo, a technology licensing manager of Mayo Clinic Ventures. "From our perspective, this is all about finding ways to get things from our labs to patients faster."

Cardio3 sees the new relationship as a win-win.

“Mayo will continue to invent new concepts, while Cardio3 will offer its development expertise to those technologies, as well as guidance in the early development phases to the Mayo research teams," stated Cardio3 CEO Dr. Christian Homsy in the announcement of the deal. "This agreement is in line with our business development strategy defined earlier this year, and enables our company to rapidly and significantly enlarge its product portfolio with high quality research programs across multiple therapeutic areas.”

August 05, 2014

European publisher closes Rochester office

An European publisher of auto repair manuals told local employees this week that its Rochester office is closing following the company's decision to back out of the U.S. market.

Maidenhead, England-based Autodata originally moved its U.S. headquarters to Rochester in 2005. The company, which focuses on providing technical information for mechanics, had 15 people working at its 4,000-square-foot office at 6301 Bandel Road N.W. until last summer. That's when it cut its staff in half.

Autodata online coverThere were six people working for Autodata in Rochester until the firm let four employees go this week. Two staffers will remain on Autodata's payroll to continue to support some large contracts from home, though the office is expected to be completely closed by mid-August.

"We've had to take the rather drastic decision to close office in Rochester. It's no reflection on the efforts of the staff, who did great job for us," said Autodata CEO Rod Williams, who flew to Rochester from England to deliver the news in person.

Autodata_logoAutodata takes a different approach than similar U.S. publishers. Instead of focusing on specific models, it creates manuals based on a subject like airbags or transmissions, and then includes information for all vehicle models, including those no longer being made. The information is constantly updated. It provides up-to-date technical information for about 17,000 vehicles made by more than 80 companies, though the bulk of the manufacturers are based in England, France and Germany.

Williams says the company, which remains successful in Europe and Australia, struggled to win over the U.S. market. It had some ups during its run here, he said. This office grew from four employees in 2005 to 16 by 2007.  In the end, it just wasn't enough to make the Rochester office sustainable.

While Autodata's long-time owners did sell the company to two investment firms in May, Williams says the change only hastened the closing of Rochester.

"Sooner or later, it was going to come, unfortunately," he said.

The rapidly changing world of publishing added more challenges to Autodata's push into the U.S. The first year that Autodata made more from electronic products over printed manuals was in 2007. Since then, the industry's move to away from print has rapidly picked up speed. Print manuals shifted into CDs, then DVDs and eventually online.

"The world has moved on from books," said Williams. "By the end of the year, we'll be wholly online in Europe. We've already been completely online in Australia for many years."

July 29, 2014

Custom Communications spins off music biz

A 46-year-old Rochester business is spinning off its audio and music business.

Custom Communications Inc., founded by Leigh J. Johnson in his basement in 1968, started in the background or "elevator" music business by providing sound systems and music for stores, restaurants and offices. He soon added security systems to Custom's offerings and that grew to be a major business driver for Johnson's firm. However, sound systems and background music remain an important part of the business.

L-SS8pdq1On Friday, the audio and security components will each follow their own paths under the Custom Communications' umbrella.

Sound and Media Solutions will open its own office in Suite 109 at 3003 43rd St. N.W. under the leadership of Nikki Johnson, Leigh Johnson's daughter. Meanwhile, Custom Alarm will continue to operate at the company's headquarters' at 1661 Greenview Dr. S.W. Melissa Brinkman, Leigh Johnson's other daughter, took over as CEO of Custom Alarm after he retired and began serving as chairman of company's board of directors.

"I'm real excited about it. I think this will better serve our customers," said SMS Managing Director Nikki Johnson. "The sound business is just a different type of business, with different sales people and different installers. This just makes sense."

Sound and Media Solutions sells equipment and services related to music systems as well as drive-through intercoms, public address systems and patient/nurse communications.

In addition to Nikki Johnson, the new SMS office is staffed with six other experienced Custom employees.

After its humble beginnings in Leigh Johnson's basement, Custom Alarm has grown to employ more than 70 people at its Rochester and Winona locations.