The Burr  
History and Genealogy Site

This article is reprinted with permission from the Finger Lake Business Almanac

written by Chris Sharman

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E-Company gets message out, promotes local firms & FL Geneva

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The owner of an Internet company here created a website that promotes local businesses and tourism in the Finger Lakes. The company also helps individuals and businesses make use of the Web's resources by offering on-line computer training and website design.

Burr Cook, a retired computer trainer, and his daughter Christine Cook own and operate CyBurrSource at 38 Linden Street in Geneva.

An admitted history buff, Mr. Cook created a website [www.thefingerlakes.com] to promote tourism in the region and promote local industry. Businesses are invited to list their contact information for free with links to their website available for a nominal fee. A simple one to two page web site can be made for approximately $225 with a $99 yearly renewal.

Visitors to the site get lists of Finger Lakes attractions including parks, museums and historic sites. Some, like the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum of Early Aviation in Hammondsport have links to their own websites. Lodging, dining and winery guides with contact information are also listed.

The site receives up to 15,000 daily hits. * Traffic is high early in the week and picks up again toward the weekend as web suffers from around the country explore products, attractions and accommodations in the Finger Lakes.

The site's guest book allows virtual visitors from across the globe to submit questions and comments about the Finger Lakes region in a message board format. E-mail links are provided for ease in sharing information. A bookstore section on the site lists Finger Lakes-related literature and a classifieds section is currently in development.

The son of an electrical contractor, Mr. Cook first became involved with computer related technology while working for Univac of Illion, Herkimer County, in 1959. Working for public and private institutions he began as a programmer/systems analyst and later a trainer and technology consultant. His career includes stints at IBM as a custom field engineer and at HoneyWell where he traveled throughout Europe and Asia as a senior education specialist. Mr. Cook retired from HoneyWell in 1991. He formed Cook House Computers in Palmyra in 1985. Cookhouse, even though it was a one-man show, became an international computer seminar and training company.

Christine Cook, an attorney, established Cybersource Geneva during the summer of 1998 with the purchase of Snow Computers' Internet service provider equipment. Snow Computers continues to operate in Newark selling computer hardware. The current spelling of the CyBurrSource is a reference to Mr. Cook's first name, but also a deliberate avoidance of Cybersource, a name used by a West Coast Web developer. The company reformed as CyBurrSource and Christine Cook re-dedicated herself to her law practice. This created a need for Burr Cook's expertise and experience in technical training.

"The dial up Internet provider business did not grow as expected due to the arrival of several alternatives such as free dial-up services," Mr. Cook says. "Our business took a natural turn toward the World Wide Web and the creation of sites."

Ms. Cook, who specializes in criminal law, developed the website Ezlawlocator.com. It provides links to legal resources in an organized and easily understandable manner, free of charge.

"Without a site like this, an attorney could easily spend thousands of dollars in legal research each year," Ms. Cook says. She has also established a comprehensive website for multiple sclerosis patients and their families.

Stephanie Nudd also works with the site building side of CyBurrSource. Ms. Nudd builds retail sites. Her work includes sites for Pasta Only's Cobblestone Restaurant, Eunhui's Buckwheat Pillows and a communications company named MarketHOLD Productions.

CyBurrSource's pricing for site creation varies according to the needs of the customer. Less complex sites created for the primary purpose of promoting a business can be created on a budget of just a few hundred dollars not including minor maintenance and upkeep charges. Sites involving complex graphics, numerous links and e-commerce applications can run in the $3,000 range.

After creating a finished web site, CyBurrSource refers its clients to TéAta Technologies of Geneva for hosting. Mary Bartolotta-Knipple owns the one-year old full-service company. She has over twenty years experience in the IT industry. TéAta also designs websites and is equipped to provide secure credit card processing, shopping cart software and Internet marketing services.

Around the globe, Internet use is expanding at exponential rates. The number of web savvy citizens is expected to shoot up from 300 million currently to over 1 billion by 2005. Over 150 million people will get connected this year alone, says a study by the Angus Reid Group of Toronto.

Industry statistics report that Internet use is growing so fast that traffic is actually doubling every 100 days. Approximately 62 million Americans now make use of he Internet on a regular basis.

CyBurrSource offers CompTIA certifications, an abbreviation for the Computing Technology Industry Association. The organization works to develop vendor-neutral standards in e-commerce, customer service, workforce development and training certification. Ideally, these standards will help to ensure consistency in network, internet and e-commerce solutions internationally.

CyBurrSource's first CompTIA training module is A Plus, a program enabling students to pursue positions as a PC technician trained in hardware installation. The Second, NET plus certification, is "ten times more important than A Plus," Mr. Cook says. It prepares students for a career in network administration. The third certification is I-Net Plus, an increasingly popular module in place to educate would-be web developers and future e-commerce consultants.

Industry figures largely explain the increasing interest in this career. From the first quarter of 1998 to the first quarter of 1999, it is recorded that 427,000 small businesses in America went online. If this trend continues, web developers will be in high demand.

At CyBurrSource, students perform lesson modules and tutorials from a range of on-line training sites. Textbooks are optional. "My philosophy is to make full use of the technology already available on the web," Mr. Cook says. "There are numerous on-line tutorials and many of them are free."

If students choose to purchase a textbook, Mr. Cook will gladly obtain one, but there are no set rules. His aim is to get each student up to industry standards and ready to pass the exam. Exactly how they get there is open to interpretation. Mr. Cook currently has three students in a Net Plus class using three different books. He is often surprised that anyone would purchase a computer training textbook, he says. The traditional model of a teacher lecturing at a blackboard will be replaced by interactive and collaborative online educational systems, he predicts.

Each CompTIA exam takes approximately forty hours of preparation. "My rates are based on $10 per hour per student or $400. If the students takes more or less time the cost is still $400," Mr. Cook says.

At the completion of their on-line training, students take the CompTIA exams at New Horizons Computer Learning Center in Rochester. The tests cost approximately $128 each. There are two tests for A Plus and one for Net Plus and I-Net Plus.

With a newly attained certification, students are ready to enter the job market. Veterans of the computer-oriented workplace use the industry-recognized standard for advancement.

Mr. Cook keeps in contact with his former students via the web. "I maintain an Internet discussion group called CyBurrList for certification students and graduates which number about thirty at this time," Mr. Cook says.

Though CyBurrSource offers no formal job placement functions, CyBurrList allows for the sharing of ideas and job openings. Former students can converse with new and potential students.

CyBurrSource: 315 299-7706    Back Home    info@burrcook.com

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