Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Goals For 2013 -- It's That Time Again!

Last year around this time, I was on TV with Small Business Television host Susan Solovic talking about goal setting and expectations of 2012.  While some goals were met, others weren't.  It happens -- it's called Life.

As I posted in my The Monday Morning Memo of 1/2/2012, here were my goals for 2012.  I think it's fun to look back and see what I had planned.  I'll put a "Y" or "N" next to each one.

1. To be better at returning phone calls.  - N (goal for 2013)
2. To get my NEW website up and running. - Y (looks great Pam/Kristen!)
3. To reply faster to my emails! - Y (That's a YES)
4. To shoot more video of what we do and what we can do for you! - Y (not enough)
5. To be more interactive online (see #2) - Y (Pinterest!)
6. To keep the shop more tidy (Kirt's goal too)! - N (My wife screams)
7. To take better care of my personal health and well being. - Y (Do more!)
8. To be involved in more parades and community events. - Y
9. To be more active in the communities I serve. - N (More chamber events)
10. To exceed expectations of what customers expect from us! - Y (More Now!)
For 2013, some of the same goals, but now that I'm running things at home, a bit of a different perspective.
1.  Better turnaround time on computers.
2.  Reply to phone calls faster.
3.  Participate in more chamber events - Hampton, Waverly, Mason City
4.  Get a new video camera and justify it.
5.  Speak at more events.  I've got stories to tell!!
6.  Organize my shop.
7.  Organize my finances.
8.  Get healthy personally.
9.  Teach more computer classes.
10. Book more remote repair jobs!
I'm sure you have goals -- if you don't, set some!  You may be surprised on how it will change your outlook!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bottom Line -- 2012 Wasn't That Great

Well, I have to say that 2012 had it's high points, but a lot of low points.  I lost relatives, friends, customers, celebrities, switched gears on my business and our country went through a crippling election cycle that hurt us as a country and put a bigger wedge between us as humans.  The events of the past year are ranked more to importance, than chronological.  You'll understand why...
First, my mom of 48 years died in October.  This was a major blow as up to around Mid August, she was doing so well -- considering her 35 year battle with Multiple Sclerosis.  She had fallen in her apartment and hit her head and sort of "reactivated" the MS symptoms and never really recovered or got her strength back.  She was a fighter til the very end, as always.  She was 75.  Her funeral was one of the best funerals (if you can rate them) that I had ever been to.  I'd put it right up there with my Dad's funeral.  I have to give props to Pastor Corby Johnson of the Methodist Church.  What a great send off, with an emotional message, laced with funny stories and meaningful events of her life.
Second, Becky's Grandfather Harvey Krassin passed away in March.  I'd only known Harvey for about 8 years or so, but what a guy.  Always a smile on his face and I could always get him to laugh, especially if I had some Hostess Snowballs for him.  He lived such a full life, he was 91.  At 90, he "decided" to quit farming.  Also at age 90 we had a huge party for him.  I bet he's still smiling, what a tribute.  He will be missed at Christmastime this year.
Third, I lost some good friends.  My heart stopped and I was filled with sadness when my karaoke buddy and Kozy Korner friend John Fransen passed away.  Not a night goes by when I grab the microphone that I don't think about "John R," as we called him.  You really don't know much about a person until you go to their funeral.  For me, I always thought John was a bit of a loner, doing things his way, and not much connection with friends or family -- just on the corner bar stool singing with the jukebox.  I was mistaken.  He had a family that cared deeply for him and I still chat with them now and then and also consider them my friends.  Every now and then, when I sing a Neil Diamond song, I reflect back on John and how he helped me during a couple of Main Street events in Hampton.  He was the darling of the crowd.  I wish more people would have gotten to know him like I ended up knowing him.

Also, anyone involved in Cub Scouts, Webelos or Boy Scout in the mid 70's or early 80's probably had popcorn at Helmut & Dora Neuhaus' home.  If you drank coffee, the pot was always on with some lively conversation in the kitchen.  Dora passed away in August and it was like losing my third mom.  After my Mom and Step Mom, she was it.  Her son Dale was in my class and there's nothing she wouldn't do for him.  From 10th grade until my senior year, she would pick me up for school with Dale in the car as well.  She'd been in the nursing home for several years and so I lost contact with her.  I was saddened when I heard she passed away, yet a smile came to my face when I remembered all those times of eating popcorn at her house.  Scouting lost a good friend in Dora.
Fourth, I lost some good customer/friends.  I think back to the many times I stopped by Judy Winfrey's house to fix this or that on the computer, but ended up staying an extra half hour to listen to HER SIDE of what was going on in Hampton.  A one of a kind person who I always wanted make sure I was on the good side of.  2012 started out with her passing away, but I know that she's not forgotten.  I sat beside her at many council meetings and always had time to lend an ear.
Mary Towne was another great person who we lost in 2012.  I was also friends with her late husband Larry, who was quite a guy in his own right.  Like Judy, Mary was never shy about where she stood on the issues in Hampton and I found myself staying at her place a little longer because I think she just needed to vent.  I was shocked when I heard that she passed away, as I had been to her house the week before.
Hampton Superintendent James Alexander of Hampton passed away.  I wrote a couple of blogs about him.  A gentleman's gentleman and the definition of a class act.  To the end, always Mr. Alexander to me.
Ray Drew of Hampton passed away as well.  A Democrat and proud of it.  A fan of the library and a bigger fan of flying.  Our community lost a great friend in Ray Drew.
Roger Birdsall of Sheffield was someone who I wasn't as close to as I should have been, but always waved and chatted whenever I saw him.  He was my Dad's boss at Weldin's Ready Mix back in the late 70's and 80's.  I had a lot of respect for him.  Anyone who could corral my father and keep him in line on the job was a person you had to tip your hat to.  I saw Rog about 2 weeks before he passed away, and I'm glad I did.
Fifth, I think that as a society we get attached to some celebrities more than others.  Yes, I am sad that Whitney Houston died, but I grew up with Phyliss Diller, was held in suspense of "Who Killed JR?" with Larry Hagman, brought in every New Year with Dick Clark and weren't we all standing a just little taller when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon?   We lost the homespun humor of Andy Griffith, the abrasiveness of Sherman Hemsley as George Jefferson and who can forget the phrase "Survey Says......" of Richard Dawson?!  We lost some biggies in 2012....we really did.

A lesson I learned... Don't use "I Love You" as a deathbed confession.  Say it more often.
Next in October, I transitioned my business back to my home.  I was wise enough to know that some of the customer base was counting on Home Service and I'm all about customer service.  We had a good run downtown, but happier that I can still provide the same service at home than in the downtown environment. 
Finally, no matter which way you voted, I think our country didn't come out as well as it could have.  I'm not stating that because President Obama won that this occurred, it was just the mudslinging before the election that hurt us as a people.  No one respects the office anymore and we all lose.
2013, you HAVE to be better.  I have my wife, family and friends. More importantly, I have faith -- and I hope others do as well.  I welcome you with open arms 2013.....if we make it past 12/21/2012.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

October - It Could Have Been Worse Or Could It?

This posting is a bit overdue, but I had to collect some thoughts and it really has nothing to do with computer repair, but more on a personal level.
When I see people comment on Facebook about something, one thing I hate to see is when someone will write, "Well, it could have been worse."  Since I'm pretty much a "Glass Half Full" kind of guy, I tend to reply, "It could have been better."
If you know me or my family at all, you may have known that my mom, Sandy, took a spill at her apartment in August and We/I had to make a decision that would affect the rest of her life, the nursing home option.  Mom was all for it, so we went forward and she resided in the nursing home.  She loved the food and the nursing staff.  It could have been worse.
One day she said, "Pat, I want you to call Hospice."  Now, no one calls Hopsice for a common cold, but I told her she didn't need them.  The next day, Hospice calls and said that my mom called them herself and told them she was dying.  A week later, Mom was on Oxygen and two weeks later, I told her "goodbye."  It could have been worse.
Mom passed away on October 23rd.  It, also, could have been worse.
Mom suffered with Multiple Sclerosis for 36 years and she fought hard til the very end.  On October 20th, I felt that I had talked to Mom for the very last time and it was awkward.  She was having communication issues and some mental connectivity issues.  I was saddened as they also told me she wouldn't make the weekend.
I thought to myself, "It couldn't be worse" but actually, it got better. 
Mom being stubborn and a fighter went from Friday until Tuesday with basically no food or water, as her swallowing had shut down and her breathing was rapid.  I was going there twice a day to sit with her and there was no response, BUT, the TV was on every time I got there.  Mom loved TV. I asked the aide, why the TV was always on after I shut it off and she told me that Mom asked for the TV to be on.... Very strange, as I thought she couldn't talk or communicate.
Finally, on Monday night I was there and they were going to reposition Mom, so I left the room for a bit.  When I walked back in they said, "Sandy, Pat's here!"  I could tell she was trying to talk and I put my ear down to her mouth and she said, "I love you so very much."  I was stunned.  She kept trying to talk, but the words wouldn't come out, so it was my turn to talk to her, like I'd never talked to her before.  I told HER it was time to quit fighting.  I said, "Mom it's time you listen to me, I love you and it's OK to let go.  You have fought enough."  She shook her head "Yes." It could have been worse. 
She passed away the next day just before noon.  I wasn't there, as there was no need for me to be.  We had said goodbye, we completed our tasks, we had both said what we needed to say.  It could have been worse.
Here's how it could have been worse on all points:
1. Mom could have fallen, hit her head worse, died on the spot.
2. She could have lingered for years in some sort of coma or vegetative state.
3. She could have not spoken to me for the very last time telling me that she loved me.
4. She could have not heard the words I said to her.
5. She could have died a painful death without the help of Hospice and the great staff at the care center.
But it was better.  Mom is no longer suffering, our family is no longer worried about that next fall, or next accident, or if Mom is hurting.  Am I selfish over this?  You damned right I am.  Mom wasn't the only one to live with MS for 36 years, we all did, and it was terrible.  I thank my wife Becky for hanging in with me our fight as well.
BUT the biggest lesson I learned.  Don't let words, "I Love You" be a deathbed confession, whether you are the one who is sick and dying or the one who is the person left behind.  Even though we BOTH loved each other very much, I can't remember the time I had heard Mom tell me that OR the last time I said it to her.
Again, for those of you who read this, sent a card, or sent memorial money -- THANK YOU. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I'd like to share a story with you and I'm not looking for sympathy, but for your understanding and continued support.

I started my business "The Computer Guy" in 1996 with the main focus on the home computer user. As time went on and our name was given out here and there, I expanded to take care of some small business clients and national accounts through contract work. My business model was based on "Reliable Service / Reasonable Rates." I still strive for that today.

Over the past six months, I have continued to be as busy as can be on the road, servicing computers in homes and in businesses all over North Central Iowa, however, our business at the shop has slipped. Some would blame the economy, the election, the nay-sayers, the bad crops, or you name it -- people can blame anything on any situation.

Myself, I think people are just used to service when they want it and where they want it, people have migrated to tablets, some may have gone to other systems instead of getting their computers fixed by us, or in some (hopefully mild) cases have chosen a competitor over us. Whatever the situation, it has caused me to do some thinking about my business plan and what is best for the business.

What I have come up with will shock some people or make people scratch their heads a bit. However, as of October 20th, I am moving my business BACK to my home. I want to be as mobile as I can be in serving my customers with "Reliable Service, with Reasonable Rates."

The decision involved many people and I thank them for all of their support. I'm NOT going out of business, just refocusing it a bit. Kirt, Bob and Becky will still be doing some work for me on the road and our phone number will still ring to my phone.

I've enjoyed being downtown for the last 3 years, but it's just time for a change and I think this will be a positive one for my business and my customers. My customers are the best and I can't wait to continue to serve them!

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!!! 
In our business, labor is a big deal.  I would be ignorant if I didn't recognize a few people in my life and business who help me out, by laboring over computers and working for me day in and day out.
Kirt Snook is my right hand and was onboard at the shop from Day 1.  He's someone I had worked with at Midwest Wireless and I told him that if I ever started out on my own and had a shop, he'd be the one I'd call first, and I'm glad he answered the call.
Bob Barnes is my part time employee.  Bob does a lot of things and is pretty darn handy at all of them.  Computer repairman, limo driver, bus driver, Advocare Sales Champ and all around good guy.  He's as easy going as they get and I wish that would rub off on me.
Becky Palmer is of course my wife and has more faith in me than any human should.  She works the shop for me when I'm on the road on a Saturday, does some remote repair work and mainly is my #1 Fan.  You need one of those in your life, I'm glad I have her in mine.
Deb Keller is a free spirit who makes great banana bread and other home made treats.  She works on the rare occasions that the rest of us are out of the shop.  Her phone messages are works of art and epic novels.  Details, details, details!!
Mary Hanson is a school teacher who filled in a lot this summer when I was on the road and when Kirt was off.  If you follow me on Pinterest, you are pretty much following Mary -- as she is my Pinterest Guru who knows what foods NOT to pin to my page. 
I owe these folks a nice round of applause....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Weird Day!

It was a normal Wednesday...so I thought.  It started out early in the wee hours of the morning, as it usually does with me Googling some things.  Stupid things, mostly. 

What I was wondering was how do other businesses named "The Computer Guy" market their products or services.  SO, I searched the "Images" section of Google.  Naturally, my logo came up several times from my website, along with other logos of other businesses named, "The Computer Guy."  Until......my eyes caught a logo that I had used on my OLD website and current brochure attached to a bunch of text with a California phone number.  SOMEONE had used MY copyrighted logo to promote THEIR business.

Naturally, I was upset, so I fired off an email to him and posted on that sight that he would need to remove it.  THEN upon posting this on Facebook, a friend in Idaho told me that a library in Ohio was promoting some Computer Guy with MY logo.  I called the library and in a matter of minutes, it was down.  They were truly ashamed of what had happened.

THEN, reports from Facebook started to roll in.  A guy in Utah, a company in Malaysia, Spain, etc were coming to me.  A total of 9 in all.  I contacted as many as I could and so far 3 of the 9 have done the right thing.  I'll give the rest of them a week, then we'll go from there.

NEXT, I got a strange call at work.  "Pat Palmer, this is Tony and I need your email address."  I didn't know the phone number, but Googled it and it was from North Carolina.  In 10 minutes, I got an email with a video attached that said, "Your Twin."  I opened it up and some guy, who looked a LOT like me was telling me that people were mistaking him for me on YouTube doing a Bobby Darin song.  Odd, for sure!  I emailed the guy back, and it bounced.  SO, I texted him and he sent his correct email and I replied back and said that I enjoyed the video and would do one in the next couple of days for him. 

I posted that on Facebook and my friends had a field day. 

Like I said...it was one weird day!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Happy Anniversary to The Computer Guy!!

Well in all of the excitement of the 4th of July last week, I forgot to mention the 1st of July in my "The Monday Morning Memo"

The 1st of July was our 3rd anniversary at our Downtown Hampton location!!! Many thanks goes out to many people who have been supportive of our efforts. I am very appreciative to all who have done business with us.

In this weird economy, up and down gas prices and the age of "faster and cheaper" computer repairs -- I am grateful for your support. I keep track of people and companies in a 45 mile radius of Hampton who do computer repair. Some of these people are in storefronts like mine and some are out of their homes. Some have the training, background, certifications and insurance -- and some, well, don't. As a matter of fact, there are roughly 70 places in and around Hampton in that 45 mile circle that do computer repair. We feel that we can provide the best solution to your computer issues that's not only fair to you, but to us as well.

Do we make mistakes? YES.

Do we own them and try to do what's right? YES.

There's no other way to say how much we value you as a customer, other than, "We value you as our customer."

Stay cool and have a fantastic week!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Facebook & You -- After Death

What happens to your Facebook Account when you die?

Since I've been on Facebook (around 2007) I have had a number of friends pass away.  Naturally, it is sad and I read their wall to see what has been posted, but out of respect, I delete their profile as I do not want any of my stuff to show up on their wall like they are still alive or be alerted that they want to be my friend -- after I know they've passed on.

SO, I did find an article on the topic, but to summarize it there are several things that can be done.

1. Nothing.  Now, with this being said, it's a poor choice.  People who were not friends with them on Facebook who may have friends in common with them will have them constantly showing up in the "Joe wants to be friends" column of your page.  Awkward, at best.  Creepy, at worst.

2. Contact Facebook To Have Their Page Removed.  You naturally have to provide some documents, but this would be one way to do it so that it is completely removed and has no way to be re-activated....or resurrected, if you will.

3. Memorialize The Page.  I've seen this a lot with young people who have been killed in car accidents or who tragically die way before their time.  People can leave tributes on their wall and a lot of nice things are said.  This would be nice to read about for a grieving family and DOES give some family members administrative control as to what is posted and can delete posts.  It also removes some personal info from the account as well.

Even though you may not think you are going to die tomorrow, what would you want your loved ones to do???  Now that we are fully immersed into the digital age, a decision like this may be as valid as what songs are sung at your funeral or what you want on your headstone.  Anyway, something to think about.

Here's the link, for more information:

Good luck!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Big vs. Little

There are a lot of On-Line companies who will try to lure you into "click here to fix your computer" or other such gimmicks. Other companies are reputable, but just charge way too much. I do contract work for some of these companies. For example, Wednesday, I had to do a virus removal for a gal from Webster City. She paid some company around $200 to remove a virus and I was the guy dispatched to do the job. I was there about an hour and a half, did what the work order said, but that was it. There were no extras. No hardware assessment or additional checks or cleanup -- just remove the virus and leave. She has already prepaid the fee, so I wasn't there to collect any money.

Now, had she taken the time to Google a LOCAL computer repair company, my name would have come up. Maybe I wouldn't have been at the top of the list, but she wouldn't have had to pay that amount of money and her service would have been better. As a contracted tech, if you don't follow the work order, or are there longer than what they want, you get docked in pay. My point is, when I serve a greater amount of a 9 county area, PLUS I also offer remote repair, The Computer Guy would have been a better and cheaper alternative.

In addition, we could have offered her our warranty package that would have fixed her bad USB ports and defective DVD-Rom drive.

It's just another example of how, in some cases, smaller may be better.  Think about that the next time you pass up a local business for something you find online.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Earlier this week, I got a call on my cellphone from someone with a badly broken Indian accent who claimed he was from Microsoft and could fix the issues I was having with my computer.  Funny thing, at the time, I WAS having issues with a computer.

Now, out of the MILLIONS and MILLIONS of customers that Microsoft has, why did they call me?  I have no answer, but they've been calling a LOT of people in Northern Iowa lately and tricking them into doing damage to their computers.

It starts off with this sympathetic (or pathetic) person concerned about my computer, then they want to install some monitor software like TeamViewer on it, so they can take control of the computer.  Then they want to open up the Command Prompt so they can do more damage by "inspecting" the computer.

It was at this point, I used some very colorful language at this person then hung up.  I really should have stayed on the line to hear the whole thing and find out what exactly they were going to do.  Some techs have told me they get into the computer registry and start a bunch of RUN commands....Very bad.

One lady who had this issue is now getting abusive calls at 3am demanding money.  Sad.

Again, if it's too good to be true, it is...they want your credit card info and PLEASE don't give it to them!!  Be safe, call The Computer Guy if you have issues -- we'll solve the problem and we won't call you back at 3am!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mr. Alexander - A Fine Man Remembered

A while back in February, for those who are regular readers remember, I had a computer repair job at my old school superintendent's home.  His name, was Jim Alexander -- Mr. Alexander to a whole lotta folks for a long time, and STILL Mr. Alexander to me.  I rang the doorbell and after a bit, a tall, frail man with silver/white hair answered the door.  Naturally, I recognized the big smile and he knew mine.  His computer had "issues" and he just wanted to get them fixed because he LOVED reading his emails from his kids and former teachers.

He was slow, but steady -- he took his time getting from place to place in his house.  But, when I was done we chatted for a bit and I left.  As I stated before in a former post, he had slowed down.  Not until last Thursday when he passed away, did I know he was 84.

I'll share a few stories, but FIRST, I'll tell you I was never on the wrong side of the desk with him, so to speak.  While I had a few "chats" with Mr. Nelson, the Middle School Principal and Mr. Johnson, the High School Principal, Mr. Alexander and I were on good terms....well most of the time.

The first time I ever met the man, I was in 5th grade and our bus driver Lucy had some ruffians on the bus to Hansell.  It was odd that when Mr. Alexander rode the bus one morning, you could have heard a pin drop...thus we had no more "issues" on the bus.  He commanded respect.

Between my 8th and 9th grade, I received my Eagle Scout Award.  He was not only at the ceremony, but had sent a very nice card with some thoughtful words in it.  He was also invited to and attended my graduation reception in 1983 at the house.  Another nice card, with thoughtful words.

From what I could tell after high school, Mr. Alexander had somewhat of a temper if he couldn't watch the Hawkeyes play football.  When I was on the Hampton City Council he called the house and told me to "straighten out those morons" who ran our cable system.  For some reason, the next week, the Hawkeye games were able to be broadcast on cable and I was happy to call him back with the news.  His reply, "I knew you could straighten them out, Palmer."

In 2003 I had to go to Oelwein for work and ran into some people at the Yankee Scoreboard Hotel/Lounge, as I remember.  Naturally small talk occurred and like everywhere I go, I tell them I'm from Hampton.  The first thing out of the old timer's mouth who was behind the bar was, "Hey, I remember a Jim Alexander who moved there who was a damn fine ball player."  So, we chatted about Mr. Alexander and sort of caught them up on what he was up to and that he had retired.  I saw Mr. Alexander in Seven Stars Restaurant after that and told him the story, he just smiled.

In the spring of 2010, we both got called for jury duty.  Judge Drew, also a former student, asked if anyone had any issues or conflicts and needed to be excused.  Judge Drew also referred to him as "Mr. Alexander" when he raised his hand and was promptly excused from jury duty.  No explanation needed.

In December of 2011, we didn't have a bad winter, but it was one of those windy days with just a bit of ice here and there on the pavement.  I was at Kum & Go in Hampton and Mr. Alexander was just getting ready to walk out the door.  The cashier looked scared as the wind had picked up and it really wasn't nice out.  I saw him and asked him how he was doing and then I decided I'd chit chat with him and walk him to his vehicle.  We both knew that he was not good on his feet, so I know he appreciated someone strolling to his vehicle that was out at the gas pumps.  We took it slow and he went on his way, big smile, big wave.

After posting the notice of his death on Facebook, an outpouring of words came from people around Hampton to describe him -- Gentleman, Classy, Fair, Honest, Role Model, Wonderful, Tremendous -- It doesn't get much better than that.

Thank you, Mr. Alexander, you've made us all better people for having known you.

James Alexander Obituary

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The State Of Now -- Follow Up

Last Monday was the #140 Character Conference, AKA State Of Now AKA #140ConfDM.  What a nice day to listen to people come to Des Moines and share their ideas, dreams, stories, fears and triumphs.

This year, I could tell the conference was off to a good start was the microphones and cameras worked just fine, Deb Brown and Jeff Pulver were on point and the speakers had great content.  Several speakers came from out of state, some I didn't understand their points, but mostly I had a nice time listening and participating.

My segment was a 20 minute panel on the restaurant business and how there are tools out there to actually help your food business.  I enlisted the help of Christopher Juhl and Phil James and we filled 19 1/2 out of 20 minutes with stories (mostly mine) and helpful hints and tips plus a challenge to restaurants to get out there and DO SOMETHING!!!

Here's the video from our segment -- Enjoy!

Food Panel - State Of Now - 2012

I guess that's the point of this conference -- After it is all said and done, DO SOMETHING.

Overall, I'd give the day a B+.

Next year, I'd like to see more media attend the event with THEIR stories and some people from the entertainment world (local or national) to share their stories as well.  You can bet, I'll be there as it is worth attending and being a part of the show!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The State Of Now Conference!

Last year I attended and was part of a great conference called The #140 Character Conference.  Speakers from all over the midwest attended and spoke for just 10 minutes each (WHAT!! JUST 10 MINUTES??) and talked about how Social Media has changed, improved or revamped their life or the life of their business.

The conference has changed slightly and is called "The State Of Now" -- because social networking IS now!

I'll be speaking, along with about 50 other folks.

You could watch online, but it would be great to have you there!!  Tickets are available for $70, but save money by using the code "VERIZON" when you check out and you will be SHOCKED at how much you will save!

Here's the link, we'll see you there!!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Hello India -- Press 1 For English!

How many times have you had a computer issue while your computer is under warranty and you pick up the phone only to get a person in a far away land to read a script to you like a 5 year old.  All you want is for someone to own the issue, take care of you and get your stuff fixed!  Or you call and you get "Press 1 for this, 2 for that" which also has its limitations.

Here's what we can do for you.  Bring us the problem.  We'll own it, we'll deal with the tech in far away land and we'll push 1, 2, or 3 and get the problem solved.  Yes, there's a basic fee, but you also have the piece of mind that your computer is going to be fixed -- no hassles, no frustrations.

In the last couple of months, we've saved customers so much frustration and time, it's made the service a hit!  No, your neighborhood Big Box store doesn't do it, but we do.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Partly Personal -- Saying Goodbye

I remember when I worked at several radio stations that carried Paul Harvey, when he would send out a message to his wife Angel or son Paul, he'd say, "This is partly personal." 

So far 2012 has really been terrible for friends of mine passing away.  Several customers have died unexpectedly, a local businessman, and now within a week -- a good friend and fellow karaoke singer John Fransen and Becky's grandfather Harvey Krassin.  In fact, John's graveside service and Harvey's service are at the same time!!  I'm hitting John's visitation and Harvey's funeral.

John loved, to be cliche, "Wine, Women & Song."  His wonderful voice attracted the ladies to his side of the Kozy Korner and he was never far from a glass of Ten High & Water.  I once submitted his photo to some Kenny Rogers Look Alike website.  Here's a link of you'd like to hear him sing, but it will take a while to load up, so be patient.

I remember before I got to know John, he'd say "hi" but that's about it.  He stayed in his end of the bar and I had my own reserved table on Wednesday nights.  After several long nights at the Kozy Korner, we warmed up to each other and became good friends.  I had him sing at several events I had organized and he was thrilled to do it.  Once, we both sang for 2 hrs at a lady's 100th Birthday Party.  She swore up and down that she had Kenny Rogers at her party.  "John R" as he was known, will be missed.

Sticking with the Paul Harvey theme -- I once heard Paul Harvey address the American Farm Bureau Association with a poem, "So God Made A Farmer."  If I had the where-with-all to be able to read it at Harvey's funeral without busting out crying, I'd do it.  Instead, I'll just print them up and send them out to Harvey's daughters.  They will enjoy it.

I had to adapt it a bit from what Paul Harvey wrote, but I can only imagine how many times it has been read at funerals and other gatherings to honor someone like Becky's grandpa.  Enjoy.....

So God Made A Farmer

And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said I need a caretaker- So God made a Farmer

God said I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk the cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the church board- So God made a Farmer

I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild; somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon, and mean it- So God made a Farmer

God said I need somebody willing to sit up all night with and newborn colt, and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say “maybe next year.” I need somebody who can shape an axe handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe straps, who at planting time and harvest season will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, will put in another 72 hours- So God made a Farmer

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain, and yet stop in midfield and race to help when he sees first sign of smoke from a neighbor's place- So God made a Farmer

God said I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to wean lambs and pigs and tend to pink combed pullets; who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadowlark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners; somebody to seed and weed, feed and breed, and rake and disk, and plow and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish up a hard week's work, with a five mile drive to church on Sunday.

God needed somebody who would bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing; who would laugh and then sigh, and reply with smiling eyes, when his friends, neighbors and family would say they want to spend their life doing what Harvey did-

So God made a Farmer

Adapted from Paul Harvey - 1987

I never met my Grandpa Palmer who died before I was born and I lost my Grandpa Eckhardt in 1983.  Thanks to Becky's family for loaning me theirs for the last 6 years.  He will be missed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

EntreFest - 2012 - Post Script

I just wanted to reflect for a bit on EntreFest 2012 that was held in Ames this past week.  The price was up, the crowds were down, but I think I got as much for my money as I have in years past.  For me, this year's theme was Customer Service & Streamlining Procedures. 

Kelly McDonald gave a great opening speech about "How to market to people who aren't like you!"  With Hampton being roughly 28% Hispanic, I thought it might be a good idea to pay attention to that.  Did you know, The Computer Guy DOES offer FREE translation service at the shop??  Kelly also gave another seminar as well, pretty much some of the same themes, but in a smaller classroom sized setting.

Josh Fleming of Des Moines, talked Mobile Networking.  He's got a passion, that's for sure.  He wants to do a video on "Shit The Computer Guy Says" -- but, I don't think that would be very good for my "brand" -- as sometimes, I can get carried away with what I DO say, and to remind me of it probably isn't a good thing.  Nice compliment, anyway.  I told him we'd figure something out.

Randy Dean talked about getting your emails all organized, like a file drawer.  I came home and attacked my email and made quite a dent.  I think I have 5 left on my WebMail server and 24 on my inbox on my desktop computer.  His biggest piece of advice for an office setting... TURN OFF THE BLING.  When your new mail arrives, don't have it make a noise to distract everyone else in the office -- and quit checking it all the time.

As always, I made new friends, saw some old ones -- had a few laughs over a few drinks.  All in all, a good show.  I'm hoping next year's conference is in Des Moines, as I think they need to capture back some of the base crowd again. I can't wait for EntreFest 2013.

Monday, March 5, 2012

EntreFest 2012

I get excited this time of year as the snow (or what little snow we had) starts to melt away the doldrums of winter and gives way to spring and hope of a great year.  With this, comes EntreFest!  It's a two-day battery re-charger for me.  I get to rub shoulders with hundreds of other entrepreneurs in the state of Iowa and compare notes on what does and doesn't work in small business these days.

EntreFest in the past has been held in Cedar Falls, Coralville, Des Moines, Dubuque, and this year in Ames.  I'm glad for the fact it is centralized this year, with gas being up over $3.50 a gallon, that many people who wouldn't drive to the out edges of the state can congregate in Ames.  Past conferences have featured speakers I have become personal friends with.  Al Lautenslager, Bob Clements, and Susan Solovic to just name (drop) a few of the keynote speakers are people I have had interactions with since EntreFest.  Susan even featured me on her TV show last March!  I was thrilled!

EntreFest! is coordinated by the UNI MyEntre.Net staff who with the assistance of a collaborative group of Iowa's premier service providers, work together to bring this great event to fruition every year -- and I'm glad for that!

See you at the party!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Life -- Is Too Damned Short

Last year I put about 30,000 miles on my vehicle doing service calls, contract work, and other such computer jobs. I get in the Vue or my van, take off and away I go. To be honest, I haven't read a weather forecast since my radio days that ended in 2000, except for once on KIA when I did some advertising there and we were horsing around in the studio. I hear the forecasts and sometimes take their advice, but this year I really haven't, just due to the mild winter we've had.

Wednesday my heart sank when I heard the news about a fellow tech and business owner in Hampton who was killed in a traffic fatality between Hampton and Latimer on an icy Highway 3. Joel Eddy lost his life Wednesday in what would seem to me, on any other day, a routine drive to Hampton heading to his office. I'm saddened, as this is quite a loss for Franklin County and Northern Iowa.

Joel and I were competitors and there were times we really didn't see eye to eye, but we had a couple of things in common -- service to our customers and the knowledge we gained on our own to serve those customers in the best ways that we could. Joel was a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), no small accomplishment, that's for sure. He was pretty much at ground zero for Internet providers in our area when things started to take off in the mid 90's. He was a pioneer in Iowa in the WIRELESS Internet realm. He had technology that was ahead of the times in that field -- by YEARS -- ahead of what is available now with handheld devices and Internet access.

Joel will be missed. Since his office is 3 blocks from my home, I drive by it daily.  His white pickup with ladder was his trademark, while on nice days, I'd see the bikes out on the side of the building.  If we needed parts, many times, we'd check with each other first.  I remember a good conversation with him at the high school last year, when all the kids got the laptops to use -- naturally, he was trying to see if there was a way around the security in the laptops for more functionality.  He was always thinking, that's for sure.

He was a good business man and a great husband and father. Joel's death at age 53 certainly put a lot of things into perspective for me as I was driving around on Wednesday, that's for sure.

Life... is too damned short!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Still Call Him "Mister"

In my travels, I see a lot of neat things -- one was on Saturday, pretty close to home.  In fact, it was in my hometown of Hampton that I fixed the computer of our retired school superintendent.  From the time I was in Kindergarten until today, I have had the utmost respect for Jim Alexander.

When he called and said who he was, it was very hard for me to just call him, "Jim."  From when I was a little guy, his first name was always "Mister."  I don't know what it was about the man, but he just demanded respect. I'm sure there were people/students/teachers/etc who may not have cared for him, but I never met one.  If there were the same people who didn't care for him, I bet they damn well respected him.

A little slower to answer the door, a little hard of hearing, but a whole lot of Mr. Alexander was still in the room. I'd never been to his home before, but when a cat greeted me, I knew it was a friendly house.

When he asked me, "Where did you learn all this??" I knew I'd be a fool if I didn't say "Hampton High School!"  I told him that when I was in 11th Grade, it was just Mr. Reibsamen and myself who played/studied/learned on the Apple II that the school had gotten free.  He had a big smile on his face.

Mr. Alexander said, "When I left the school district, we had 96 computers.  Now, every kid has one."  Yes, they do.

So, after an hour or so on his computer, he was getting his email again -- from what I could tell, some stories and jokes from a few other retired teachers.  I'm glad they are in good company.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Happens at BarCamp, Stays At Bar -- Sort Of

I went to an entrepreneur's event last Saturday in Cedar Falls called, BarCamp.  I didn't know what to expect, never been to one, never heard of it before. 

There were two parts, the Friday night "Bar" part, which was a bit of un-organized chaos at first, but ended up being a neat event.  I took Becky and promised her some Red Lobster, so we didn't say too long.

The next day I got up earlier than I wanted to on a Saturday, picked up another person who had an interest in the BarCamp and we headed out.  We got there early to some more organized chaos, 50 people who had no clue as to what to do.  The day was split into 3 segments -- Tech, Creative and Economic Development.  Each room had its own classes -- a cool concept.  Anyone who wanted to present, could do it.  Obviously, there were people who had done this before, as the showed up with presentations that had been practiced before.  Reminder to self, next time, I will have a presentation ready.

I was in the Econ room for the day -- 9:30am - 1:00pm  and took in the 6 seminars.  It was somewhat informative.  Web development, SEO stuff, whining about why Cedar Falls isn't Des Moines, a class on the upcoming 140 Character Conference, a guy talking about losing a job and finding work online through various programs and also how to crowdsource funding for your new business.

To address one topic, there's a reason why Cedar Falls won't be Des Moines, and it's networking.  From a few of the Cedar Falls events I've been to, the folk there are a bit stand-offish.  In the Des Moines events I go to, I'm always included in the discussion or the crowd.  This happens to a lot of folks.  Many stand in the corner, it happens.  In Des Moines, I've been invited out of the corner and into a social group.  I can't say the same thing for the nice folks in Cedar Falls. 

The event, including lunch and social time was supposed to go from 1pm to 5pm or so....We left at 1:15pm.  There was little inclusion and maybe it was me, but I just didn't feel a part of the group.  Maybe it was their age (younger) or my age (older) but it was just one of those things - hard to explain.

I took my free tshirt and we left.  It was worth the $5, it was worth getting up for, and I would do it again -- but let me know when they are having BarCamp in Des Moines -- OR in Hampton -- then you can count me in!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I'm In A Hurry And Don't Know Why!

Well, CBS found out the hard way that patience may be a virtue in reporting news from Twitter.  The case of the (now) late Joe Paterno.  They picked up a story from a source they thought they could trust and it burned them.  Geez, how would you like to have been one of JoePa's family members??  How sad.

Maybe Dan Rather could apply for the job or maybe next time the over-zealous media could just take a step back and think for a minute? 

Now, this has also happened locally.  I had posted several things on my Facebook page that were "newsy" and the local media in Hampton and Northern Iowa had picked it up as news -- but at least it was factual, but still didn't stop one media outlet from receiving a verbal lashing from someone who was quoted from my post.

Anyway -- Think before you re-post, re-tweet or copy and paste.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA/PIPA - "Blacked Out Sites"

So today is the day that some webpages have decided to go dark to raise awareness of people who pirate music/movies/etc, basically stuff that isn't their stuff.  I see that Google has thrown into this as well, but not enough to go "all in" -- Gee, they would HATE to lose that ad revenue and shift the searching to Bing or other search engines.

The Obama administration has said repeatedly that it's not right for the piracy of movies and other entertainment, but also said that this bill will get vetoed.  Odd, why can't anyone believe that? 

Until the internet quits making money for people, it will be fair game for everyone.... and maybe it's time to create some ORIGINAL content anyway, instead of stealing other people's stuff.  Now there's an idea!

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Web Site

Well, you are here, most likely, because of my newly re-done website!!  Thanks for stopping by.  A HUGE thanks to Kristen and KayLynn at Ultimate Web Design and Pam at Click & Ink Designs.  There may be a bug or two, but they will be ironed out soon.

This new site is MORE customer interactive.  Live chat features, Live appointment booking and the list goes on and on.  Each area of the site is customer focused....enjoy!!