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!