Our Policy Towards Password Resets and Password Recovery

One popular question we get at DoctorDave Computer Repair in Lawrence is “Can you recover my password?” Many times it’s an innocent problem, but we always play it safe.

Keys on Keyboard

Photo by IntelFreePress – http://flic.kr/p/dxdmTX

Why Do You Get Locked Out of Your Computer?

The most common reason is plain forgetfulness. You haven’t used it in a few months and you just forgot the password.  Sometimes it’s a glitch in the computer. Maybe your keyboard isn’t working or Windows has a virus. We even see when you change your password on your iPhone; it changes your Mac’s password.

What If You Need Access, But Don’t Have the Password

Just because you own the computer, doesn’t mean you’re the main user. You could have given the computer to the kids or your employees. If you need something on the computer, those people might not give you the password. Ouch! Unfortunately, we’ll often have to deal with the computer of a person who passed away. Our client needs access to close out the owner’s affairs.

What We Need For Password Resets

We treat all clients equally. No matter how trustworthy you seem, we need your name to match the username on the computer. If they’re the same, we’ll use the methods we have to remove the password. If the names don’t match, then we’ll need a few more things:

1.)        A receipt for the computer that matches your name. If it’s obvious you own the computer we can stop asking other questions.For example, if you bought it for your child, and we’re resetting that child’s account. If it is a business computer, then we need an email from the company that you’re authorized to reset the password.

2.)        If the computer owner passed away, we need a document that lists you as the executor of the estate.

3.)        If it’s for someone of diminished mental capacity (an elderly parent for example), then we need Power of Attorney.

Why Are We So Difficult?

We’re ethically hacking into a computer, so we have to be careful. The obvious reason we hesitate is we don’t want to help a thief. It’s not always that. A spouse wants us to see what the husband or wife is doing on the computer. An employee might want to see what is on the boss’s computer. We’ve encountered both those situations in the past.

Most people who are asking us to reset a password for legal reasons are happy to meet our guidelines. Some clients thank us for asking this information. After all, they want to make sure their stuff is secure.

When a client gives us grief or is offensive on the phone, we call the police.  If “something doesn’t seem right,” we call the police. Most of the time the concern is a false alarm. The laptop isn’t reported as stolen, so we proceed based on our guidelines. One time we called and in fact, the computer was stolen, and we gave the contact info to the police. Due to privacy, they couldn’t tell us the details, beyond that the computer made it back to the rightful owner.

That one incident made it worth the hurdles we give everyone for a password reset.

What to Do When Your ISP has an Outage

WOW aka Knology or Wow and soon to be MIDCO had a major outage recently.  Outages are disappointing, but can be expected.  Nothing works right all the time.

Is it You or Them? The Power Cycle Dance

Photo by Sean MacEntee – http://flic.kr/p/fQoVsh

When you can’t get online, you’ll always want to do a few standard things in this order:

  1. Shutdown your computer. Not just put it to sleep, but pick the Shutdown command on your operating system.
  2. If you have a router, unplug the power to the router.
  3. Unplug the power to your cable modem.

Wait about a minute and reverse the process:

  1. Plug in the power to the cable modem.
  2. After about a minute, plug back in the power to the router, if you have one.
  3. After about a minute, turn on the computer.

If you still can’t get online, now’s the time to see if there is an outage.

How to See if Your ISP is the Problem

Wireless Networks routers setup and repair 1

If you have a smartphone, the best way is social media.  See if other people are reporting a problem on Facebook or Twitter.  To use your phone or tablet, you might have to turn off wi-fi.  Another great spot to check is the website DownDetector.  Downdetector has an iPhone app too.  They aggregate reports of other people complaining about outages.

Ultimately, you’ll probably need to call your ISP if you’re still early in the outage.  It could be just in your neighborhood.  The longer the hold times, the more likely it isn’t your computer.  I’d wait at least half an hour before calling your ISP.  Try the power cycle dance (above) one more time.  If it doesn’t work, then call them.

It’s Them:  Now What?

Mooch off the Neighbors?

Can I borrow a cup of wi-fi?  If you can see your neighbor’s router, you might ask to use it for a little while.  Ask them for the password, but don’t be shocked if they don’t give it to you.  While I like my neighbors, I don’t want them on my network.  They could see some personal and private stuff.  Anyone who has a key to my house though would be welcome to use my wi-fi. None of my neighbors have a key.

If your neighbor has wi-fi without a password (or if it’s a business), you might use that in a pinch.  If you use unsecured wi-fi, other people on the network could see what you’re doing, so be careful.

Tether With Your Phone aka Hotspot Mode

Most Android and iOS devices let you share the cellular connection with computers. The exact instructions depend on the version of the phone you have.  Usually you just turn on the Personal Hotspot and create a network name and password.  Then connect your computer to that network.

That configuration could kill your data plan, so only use it for stuff you absolutely need. For example, you might need to email an important document from your desktop.

If you have a smartphone, most of the critical stuff can be done on that using your cellular connection. Avoid data intensive stuff like streaming music or videos.

Wait it Out

Photo by Lima Pix – http://flic.kr/p/oYfzwS

The human race survived for thousands of years without internet and we’ll survive this outage.  It sounds dismissive, but it’s important to put this into perspective.  If it’s an ISP outage, you aren’t alone.  Eventually,  they’ll solve it.  They want you to get back online as soon as possible.  Getting upset won’t resolve it.  Front line customer service reps can’t fix it and are probably having a terrible day.


Photo by katerha – http://flic.kr/p/sE2qVL

Unlikely.  At best, your ISP will give you a prorated refund.  If you contact them and wait on hold, they can give you a credit equal to the time you lost.  That calculates to 1/30th of your bill.  If you’re bill is $100, you can coax them into a refund of about $3.00 or maybe they’ll round up to $5.00.  That doesn’t translate into much return on investment for your time.

Special Consideration: Businesses

pointofsale 1

At DoctorDave Computer Repair we have lots of business clients that run credit cards.  You don’t want to tell your customers you can’t take credit cards.  Similarly, you don’t want to take the risk of keeping card numbers until you get online.  That will get you in trouble with your merchant processing and puts your customers at risk.

Most Point of Sale (POS) systems let you capture transactions offline.  That’s great for an outage of a few minutes.  The problem with offline transactions is you can’t verify if the funds are there to pay for the item.  If it’s an overdrawn debit card or a credit card over the limit (or stolen), you’re on the hook.

Tethering your smartphone to an entire point of sale system is tricky.  I recommend using Square in these instances.  We use Square for our credit card processing.  What’s nice about Square is there isn’t a monthly fee for the service, you pay only for what you use.  You’ll probably pay more for a transaction compared to your regular merchant services account, but at least you won’t be turning away customers or taking big risks.

Some of our clients have portable hotspots or a “mi-fi” to supplement their existing ISP.  If they’re having an outage at their POS, they can switch to this service. There’ a monthly fee for these devices, but that extra $15 or so a month might be worth it.

Should You Switch ISPs?

Photo by JeepersMedia – http://flic.kr/p/osAZTR

Probably not.  All ISPs have outages.  It does seem like Lawrence’s WOW service has more outages than others.  Here at DoctorDave Computer Repair, we get about the same number or reports of AT&T problems and WOW problems.

With AT&T, you usually have to get the equipment from them, so about 50% of the time it’s a failed modem.  With WOW, you can buy one locally and replace the cable modem.  With AT&T, you can’t always do that.

We love Wicked and have it at our office in Lawrence.  They’re focused on business service and aren’t expanding further into residential markets.

What about Google Fiber in Lawrence?

Photo by mjmonty – http://flic.kr/p/6wumx7

Unlikely.  I was invited by the city to discuss the quality of internet here in Lawrence and our options.  I also spoke at city commission meetings regarding the issues. I’m a computer repair person, not a politician.  However I understand the major stumbling block is how much the city will charge an ISP to use city equipment to run the lines. It’s too expensive for an ISP to tear up people’s yards (and who wants that?), so they want to use pipes the city has.

So What’s the Answer?

Photo by West Midlands Police – http://flic.kr/p/cGnABd

Again, I’m not a politician, but I think we need to get the government involved. I’d love the city to take on the role of an ISP or work on a public/private partnership.  ISPs don’t have a financial incentive to provide better service.  In cities with Google Fiber, the ISPs step up their game and provide faster service.

If our city doesn’t take on that role, then the FCC might have to set minimum quality standards. The FCC could set penalties for outages. Right now, the city has that power but has declined to exercise the franchise authority powers.

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Posted in Tips by dgreenbaum. No Comments

Should You Install Windows 10? No!

When Windows 10 came out, we advised clients to wait on the upgrade. The product was new and Windows 10 had lots of glitches. Microsoft fixed a bunch of these problems and Windows 10 is now reliable. That doesn’t mean you should upgrade your Windows 8 or Windows 7 computer to Windows 10.

Why Shouldn’t I?

We tend to hear mostly about the problems with Windows 10, so we’re basing our opinion on issues client tell us. We’re almost always able to resolve these problems, but that comes at a cost to the customer. That free upgrade turns out to cost money if you need us to fix your computer.

What Type of Problems Should I Expect?

The most common problems we see are related to email. Your sunflower.com email stops working. The Windows 10 setup needs a little tweaking. Microsoft might push its own email program or your old program forgets the password.

Microsoft also promotes the new Edge browser instead of Internet Explorer. Edge looks different and doesn’t work in all situations. Windows 10 might push you to Edge instead of Firefox or Chrome. We fix this all the time, but it’s annoying to a customer.

Older printers and scanners don’t always work in Windows 10. Sometimes it needs reconfiguration but other times it just won’t do it. We spend the most time with clients in this area. That free upgrade now requires a paid purchase of a new printer.

Finally, we have a catch-all category of incompatibility or glitches. Most of the time Windows 7 or 8 had an underlying problem that Windows 10 made worse.

What If I Upgraded to Windows 10 Already? Should I Go Back?

Microsoft gives you 30 days to try out Windows 10. If you don’t like it, you can go back to Windows 7 or 8. We advise against that. We see just as many glitches moving forward to Windows 10 as we do going back. If Windows 10 is working, leave it alone. There isn’t a need to go back. We can fix those Windows 10 problems for you. If we can’t, then that is the time to go back.

If you don’t like something in Windows 10, we can usually offer some suggestions of tweaks and optimizations.

Learning a New Operating System


Windows 10 is a big jump from Windows 7. Windows 8 is a minor jump from Windows 7. Clients tell us that it is frustrating trying to learn something new. Fortunately, our local library offers free online learning through Lynda.com and offers some great books on the subject. If you’ve moved to Windows 10, I recommend trying some of the free learning options.

I Have to Decide by July 29th, Right?

Yes, if you want to get it free, you’ll need to do this by July 29th. After that, you’ll have to pay for the upgrade. This should be your deciding factor.

If your computer is working, I suggest leaving it alone. If your computer didn’t come with Windows 10, it is probably at least a year old. Computers last on average 3-5 years. Once the hard drive goes out, clients decide it’s more cost-effective to replace a system rather than repair it. Your new computer is going to come with Windows 10, so Microsoft made that decision easier.

If you’re concerned Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows 7, you’re right, they will. Currently, they set the date to January 14, 2020. Your computer will probably fail before then.

What If I Want to Upgrade?

Go for it. You’ll eventually get a computer with Windows 10, so you might want to learn it now. You should be backing up your data anyway, but just in case, do a full backup beforehand. We can help with the backups.

Then run a quick malware scan to make sure nothing will get in the way of the upgrade, then upgrade away. I suggest doing this on a Sunday night. That way you won’t be distracted and you can always call support the next morning if you have problems. Assume you’ll have problems so don’t do this before a deadline, especially a deadline that needs something printed.

How Can You Help Me, Dave?

lawrence computer repair app

Our App in the app store

We can help you through every step of the process, usually for free. Use our free DoctorDave app to send us an email, or just do it the old-fashioned way by calling us. If it requires a service call, we can schedule it right then. We can fix your printer issues, your email issues, and move you back to an earlier version of Windows if need be.

Clients like Windows 10 once they get through the problems. I encourage you to get it on a new computer. It isn’t like Windows 8 that everyone hated, but it is different than Windows 7.

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Posted in Tips by dgreenbaum. No Comments

Free Car Chargers and The new DoctorDave iPhone App

It has taken us a few years, but we finally have a DoctorDave Computer Repair app for our clients in Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City. Although the app works anywhere in the US, our focus is here at home.


lawrence computer repair app

What Does it Do?


It makes it easier for you to request service and get free support. When you install the free app through this link on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll get this welcoming screen.

Find Our Info Easily

When things aren’t working, you want quick answers. Many clients have our number programmed into the phone. If you forget (or didn’t program) our number click the phone icon in the upper right-hand corner.


Next to that icon is the standard location icon indicator. That tells you how to get to our office. Handy when you have a scheduled office appointment


doctordave location


Finally on the left-hand side of the word “DoctorDave” is a picture of the world, and you guessed it, that takes you to our site on the world wide web.



Ask For Help

A picture is worth a thousand words and, in our case, a great diagnostic tool. When you have a problem with your computer, tap the Ask For Help icon. If it is your first time using it, the app will ask some key info like Name, Email, and Phone. That way we can respond to you. Tap continue to save that info.

Then describe your problem. The more details, the better. After all, we’re your computer doctor. We need symptoms to give you a diagnosis. Then tap Continue.




Now comes the interesting part. You’ll need to give the app permission to a few things. Location makes sure, among other things, you’re in our service area. Tap Allow on that. When you tap the middle of the screen, you get to take a picture. This step is optional, but I recommend it for most problems. Yes, you’ll need to give permission to camera and pictures. All these permission checks are one time things. Don’t worry; we’re not looking at your pictures. We just need access to the pic you just took from within the app.



Tap send and your email goes to our general mailbox for support. We try to respond within four business hours, but often much sooner. Tap Return to Main Screen to continue.



My Notebook


This feature lets you track key information. You might put in the serial number of your computer and warranty information. If you want to remove any information these existing ideas, tap Edit and then the minus icon to remove an option. If you want to add new entries, tap the plus icon in the lower right hand corner.


This notebook isn’t the place to put secure passwords, but some people we know like to store wifi passwords for their home or coffee shop.


DIY Help


This feature is almost as cool as the picture function. In this section, I’ll add useful information and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). I edit this content often but right now the top things are


    • Contact info for local Internet Service Providers and Email settings
    • The support phone numbers for other companies
    • What to do in certain situations like when you get a call from tech support, your computer gets wet, or you think you have a virus


I’ll add content as needed here to save local residents time and money. If your computer isn’t working, it isn’t easy to look up this information from a reliable source.

Free Charger

Here is where the fun comes in. To promote our new app and encourage usage, we’re giving away a free iPhone car charger to anyone who installs the app.


All you need to do is install the app and send us a message. We’ll schedule a time for you to pick up your charger. If you just want to stop by, let us know too. We’ll be available on Monday afternoons for the next few weeks at our office at 4105 West Sixth Street, Suite B-6. We always suggest calling first and verifying we’re there. We might be out fixing computers as on-site computer repair is our primary focus.


Enjoy the app and let us know what you think. A huge thanks to our former technician Noah Benham for designing the app. He’s available for other app development.

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Posted in Business Tips by dgreenbaum. 6 Comments

Protecting Your Business Page on Facebook

Although we aren’t social media consultants, we find that Facebook problems are part of the computer repair business here in Lawrence, Kansas. Often these problems are hacks, hijacking, or vandalism of a web page. For many businesses, a Facebook page is a key way to interact with customers and promote their business. They’re devastated by a Facebook loss.

Photo by Cle0patra - http://flic.kr/p/9h1yJU

Photo by Cle0patra

Typical Problems


Page Disappearing

One day you go to your typical link for your business and the page is gone. Facebook may give a reason like “the page is suspended.” Most of the time it just says the page isn’t there. All your pictures, reviews, and customer base is gone. Obviously if you violated the terms of service, you’ll be shut down. If you created a profile for your business in Facebook rather than a page, a member may report you and you’ll lose your content.

Inappropriate Content

This problem isn’t the stuff other people post on your page; you can delete that. This is content that appears to be from you, except it’s not. Sexually explicit pictures are the thing people think about the most. Those type of problems are pretty rare. More common, I see things like an insult of an employee, a customer, or a political statement. Those do more long term damage to a business reputation than pornography. Facebook members know that if you’re a local restaurant, you’re not going to post genitalia. If the post mentions a difficult employee or a health issue, diners might think twice about going back. After all, could there be a grain of truth in there?

Locked Out

In this situation, the page is there, but you can’t post or change content. You expect to see the “write something” prompt, but it’s gone. If you try to delete a post, the option is gone. This situation could be in connection with the inappropriate content. You see something bad and you want to delete it but you can’t.

Who Does This?


Sometimes the business will have a disgruntled employee or an employee with a poor sense of humor. Other times the situation comes up with a competitor trying to get an edge. Most of the time though I see it as just a glitch. Facebook has a problem and, for a period your business page is wonky. Facebook could have removed your page for violating certain guidelines, especially intellectual property.

A traditional hacker isn’t likely to attack your business page. There’s not much value for them in posting stuff. It’s a whole lot of work for a small return on investment. These are the type of calls we get involved in while doing computer repair.

Typical and Common Ways You Get Hacked

Photo by JGD JGD - http://flic.kr/p/HgScr

Photo by JGD

You Left The Account Unattended and Logged In

We’ve all seen where a friend borrows a mobile phone and posts something silly on your wall. Ah, you left your phone on the table while you went to the restroom. It’s silly and innocent. You probably leave it up because everyone gets a laugh from it.

With a business it is different, not everyone understands your friend’s sense of humor. An innocent post might be seen differently by your customers. The post was taken out of context.

If the content is malicious or blatantly inappropriate, anyone who had access to your computer or mobile phone could have done this. When your computer or phone are missing, the last thing you probably think about is what you’re logged into.

A Password Was Compromised

This hack can take a few different forms. If you use the same password a variety of places, a breach in one place could cause a breach somewhere else. We all know about the big hacks like Target and Adobe, but breaches happen every day and aren’t reported for weeks later.

Another way someone gets your password is you accidentally give it to them. This could be you wrote it down and someone saw it. Keeping your password on a sticky note under the keyboard is not a safe place. Consider a password manager like 1Password or LastPass. A confusing email or phone call might convince you to give up your password through a phishing or social engineering attempt.

The scariest password problems are those that are part of a coordinated targeted attack. For example, someone contacts your web service provider and convinces them to reset your email password. Once they get access to your email password, they get access to your Facebook password reset functions. Then they get to your Facebook page. You can’t get into either your Facebook or your email. These situations we help clients out with.

While it’s a good idea to change your password, keeping around an old password doesn’t put you at greater risk. If it’s unique, hard to guess, and secure, the mere fact it’s older isn’t the problem. Don’t rush out at change your password immediately at the first sign of trouble. You might be over-reacting at best. At worst, someone is trying to trick you into releasing the password.

The Page Wasn’t Yours to Begin With

This scenario is the one that surprises business owners. You search for your business and start interacting with customers. You figure you own the page, but you don’t. The page could have been created by one of your customers or auto-generated by Facebook.

What To Do When Your Business Page is Hacked

If there is inappropriate content on your page, first try to delete it. Just because someone vandalized the page, doesn’t mean you’re hacked. A common thing I see is a spammer posting content on your page. As long as you can delete it, the problem is resolved. If the person wasn’t connected to your page before, consider banning them. If they were already connected, think twice before banning a suspected spammer. That so-called spammer might be a victim. Your fan’s page could have been hacked. After you delete the post, report the victim as a spammer and inform Facebook the account might have been hacked.

If your account was hacked, Facebook has a great help section on the topic. In particular page’s that are hacked and how to get back your Facebook account. Here is where you can file a report. If you hadn’t claimed the page yet or the page is pretending to be your business, Facebook lets you report the page.

How Can you Protect Your Page?

Your business page is a valuable asset and goes beyond just protecting your Facebook profile. A password isn’t enough today to secure your account. Facebook has a huge section on security and in particular Login Approvals and Trusted Contacts.

Photo by petrOlly - http://flic.kr/p/ppiwGM

Photo by petrOlly

After you protect your personal Facebook account, you can set multiple people to have access to protect your page. For pages, Facebook has a large number of roles. Admins are the only people who can add or remove access to the page. The only person who can lock you out of your page is an Admin. There is no Trusted Contact function on a page, but you can assign another person as an Admin. Everyone else should be an Editor or below in security. The Admin account is your key to your business page. I don’t recommend making your additional administrator an employee of your business. Consider giving it to someone you’d give keys to your home like a good friend or family member.

If you haven’t claimed your business page, claim that page according to Facebook’s instructions. If you want the page removed, report it immediately or merge it into your claimed page.

After you’ve claimed, secured, and verified your page, it’s time to get vigilant in monitoring it. I get dozens of Facebook notifications on my phone and computer. However, my business is my top priority. The problem is I don’t know which notifications are personal and which are business related immediately. That’s why I use the Page Manager App on my mobile devices. That app gives you specific and detailed notifications on all my pages. That lets me respond quickly to problems and contain any vandalism to my pages.

What Can You Do as A Customer?

The first thing to do is to not make light of it. Small, local businesses take pride in serving their customers. When they’re vandalized, it’s a personal attack. You wouldn’t laugh at a fire truck at your friends home. You shouldn’t laugh at a business with an inappropriate picture that suddenly appeared. Please don’t share it with friends as a joke (“Hey, you’ll never guess what happened to this account”). If your personal account was hacked, you wouldn’t want people to share stuff from it. Again, remember local businesses are owned by your friends and neighbors. Your goal should be to support the local business instead of helping the hackers. Under no circumstances should you blame the victim. Even if a business made a mistake, this isn’t the time to bring it up.

If you know the owner, contact them by phone. Messaging them on Facebook won’t work if their personal account was hacked. If you can’t reach the owner, call the business and leave a message for the owner. As a last resort, go ahead and message the business and the business owner. It won’t help if hackers locked them out, that’s why I suggest it as the last thing to do.

If you can’t reach someone with the business and the vandalism hasn’t been removed, it’s time to let Facebook know and report the page. If you think someone who is involved with the business has a hacked account, report that account also.

It Sucks, But It Isn’t Permanent

As an owner of a computer repair business, I feel the pain and sting when clients have hacked Facebook pages. In all cases I’ve worked with clients, they eventually get the problem resolved. In the most extreme examples they have to start over. That’s only happened once and it was because of a split in the business ownership. With a little time and patience, you’ll get access back.




Free Data Recovery From DoctorDave Computer Repair

Photo by Random McRandomhead - http://flic.kr/p/6fNsTY

Photo by Random McRandomhead – http://flic.kr/p/6fNsTY

We’ve always done data recovery for our computer repair clients in Lawrence and surrounding areas. Sometimes it’s as simple as removing a drive from a dying computer. Other times it’s a little more complex. We have dozens of tools and decades of experience getting people stuff from their computers. We’re testing a new tool and need your help.

Through a demo program, we’ll have access to a state-of-the-art data recovery system from Rapidspar. This tool won’t replace the clean-room style data recovery we often have to refer to Drivesavers but itc omes close. It’s expensive but may be worth it.

To help us determine its value we need your help. We’ll have the system for about a week. During that week, we’ll recover data for free. There are a few restrictions to what this system can do. It won’t work on all drives. However if you’ve been on the fence waiting for a golden opportunity to get your stuff back at a reduced price, now is your chance.

As always, we do everything by appointment. We answer our phones from 9 am to 5pm Monday through Friday. We can make appointments outside those times. During that initial phone call we’ll determine if your situation is a good fit for this product. We’ll only have it for a week, so let us know as soon as possible so we can fit you in.

If it works out, we’ll buy the product and add it to our arsenal of tools to help our clients.

Posted in Tips by dgreenbaum. 5 Comments

Why You Shouldn’t Vote Us (Or Anyone Else) “Best of Lawrence”

UPDATE:  See our support and the changes for the 2017 voting.  We’re glad the Lawrence Journal World listened to our concerns and revamped the program for 2017.

Voting and elections seem like a simple process.  The person with the most votes wins.  It doesn’t always work that way as we know.  The “Best of Lawrence” marketing campaign appears to be like an election, but it’s not.  If you choose to take part, you should know the facts.

I have questions and concerns.

I have questions and concerns.

Best of Lawrence is Run by Second Street – a Marketing Company


If you follow the link at the bottom of the page, Second Street clearly explains who they are:


“For over a decade, Second Street has been the leading provider of private label online promotions platforms and partner success services for media companies that want to generate digital revenue, engage their audience, and build email databases of loyal consumers.

This data helps the Lawrence Journal World and the World Company…

 “Approach advertisers to sell integrated packages to help them target your audience” and “Build consumer profiles, create segmented audiences, & target consumers for your advertisers.”

The goal of Best of Lawrence is clear: to gather data and sell ads.  This program isn’t about helping out local small businesses.  It’s not about getting the pulse of the community.  Don’t get me wrong, the Journal-World is a for-profit business.  It has no duty to find out what the best of Lawrence is.  I applaud them for this clever data acquisition campaign.  Each year they keep adding new categories to encourage more potential advertisers.  Smart move!

If you do sign up, please remember you are opting into sales and marketing emails.  You might consider unchecking those to prevent unwanted emails.


Remember to opt out

Remember to opt out

Is the Best of Lawrence the Top Vote Getter?

You’d think logically it was.  Isn’t that how elections work?  We fill out a ballot and the candidate with the most votes wins?   If you look over the rules, where does it say this?  It actually doesn’t.  Again, this is a marketing campaign.  The movie that sold the most at the box office isn’t declared the Oscar Best Picture winner by the Academy.  We assume that our votes in this program determine who wins. That assumption isn’t backed by facts.

Photo by apbeatty - http://flic.kr/p/58ZbEh

Photo by apbeatty


Unlike circulation statistics, the votes aren’t independently audited.  The number of votes aren’t made public. They don’t list a procedure regarding ties.  They don’t have to.  This isn’t an election; it’s a marketing campaign.  The World Company is in within its rights to conduct marketing in a fair and ethical way.  There is nothing wrong with what they are doing.  They don’t claim that votes solely determine the winners, so why publish the numbers?

A marketing company is allowed to manipulate information to serve its business interests.  Small businesses have sued Yelp for manipulating search results and reviews.  If businesses didn’t pay for ads, they weren’t ranked as high.  Manipulation of reviews is within the rights of a marketing company according to the 9th Circuit.  We, as consumers,  are invited to understand that marketing companies are in the business of advertising.  They are not determining the quality of products or services.  Angie’s List also allows companies to pay to get bad reviews removed.

Again, I think the World Company is perfectly fine running this clever marketing campaign.

The Lack of Rules Encourages Fraud

If you compare Second Street’s “Best of” campaign in other cities, you’ll see very specific rules for the campaigns.  Some of these rules are common among all review sites like Yelp and Google

  • You can’t own or be involved in the business to vote/leave a review, this includes the business you are voting for and the business conducting the campaign.
  • You may only vote once
  • You must be over 13 to enter (to comply with Federal Law)

The Best of Lawrence does not verify you live in Lawrence.  All it asks if a zip code (which isn’t verified).  I was approached by many companies last year offering me a “block of votes” for less than 5 cents a ballot.  To be fair, they offer this for my Google and Yelp reviews as well.  This is a common item for sale on places like Fiverr.  Buying votes violates the rules of Google and Yelp, but not Best of Lawrence.  I of course always decline any offers to fraudulently buy votes.

Google and Yelp also have strict rules regarding soliciting reviews.  You aren’t supposed to ask for reviews or give people something in exchange for a review.  Best of Lawrence has no such rules.  Businesses are encouraged to put up signs and solicit votes.  There is no rule against paying customers to vote for you.

Nowhere does the World Company claim this is a true representation of the “Best of Lawrence.”  Rules imply democracy and fairness, which aren’t relevant here. This is a campaign as Second Street says to “generate” digital revenue.  It encourages companies that wouldn’t advertise in the Journal World to promote their marketing campaigns.  I applaud the World Company for encouraging local Lawrence businesses to promote a the Best of Lawrence marketing campaign.  It’s like when you pay for a T-shirt for a business.  You’re a walking billboard.  Every time I see a Best of Lawrence sign at a local business, I understand the free Journal Word advertising placement.  I wish I had the leverage to do that everywhere!

What It’s like to Be in the “Winner’s Circle”:  More Sales Opportunities!

I work with lots of small businesses here in Lawrence and I hear stories about what happens after the voting process ends.  These stories are consistent with my experience last year.



A few months after voting ends, a sales rep calls you to offer you an ad in the Best of Lawrence edition of the paper.  They won’t tell you how you placed and don’t explicitly say an ad will help your ranking.  That makes it hard to write copy for an ad.  Your ad can say you were voted in Best of Lawrence, but you can’t say First Place or Second Place.  After all the goal is to sell the ad and you’re less likely to buy an ad if you aren’t in First Place.

Much like Yelp, the ad rep doesn’t explicitly state that an ad will help your ranking.  I see a correlation between companies that place ads and their rankings.  It could be a coincidence, but there’s nothing wrong with paying for placement.  This is a marketing campaign to generate revenue for the Journal World.  Why shouldn’t someone be able to buy placement?  As I stated earlier, the Federal Courts ruled that Yelp is allowed to do that. This is a marketing campaign.

If you are in the winner’s circle, Best of Lawrence sends you two free tickets to the bash.  The bash is during work hours, so it’s hard for a small business or sole proprietor to attend.  They encourage you buy tickets at around $25 a pop.  It’s a revenue stream upon a revenue stream for the World Company.  Congrats.  Seriously.  I know some small businesses that sent teams of 10 or more to the event.  I didn’t attend last year and never received my award card until I contacted a few reps directly.

Aren’t You Just Complaining Dave That You Weren’t First Last Year?

Heck no.  We were chosen second last year.  That’s pretty amazing!  I’ve not had the best relationship with the World Company over the years.  I was an outspoken opponent of bandwidth caps and data restrictions by Sunflower back when the cable company was owned by the World Company.  I don’t advertise in the paper.  We can’t afford it. Not only that, I’m a nano-sized business.  I don’t have a visible storefront, we have no full-time employees.  I handle service, scheduling, sales and accounting. I essentially do it all along with a few trusted technicians.  They fact they placed me second is a huge accomplishment.


The irony, I told them three times "DoctorDave" not Dr. Dave. Still came out wrong

The irony, I told them three times “DoctorDave” not Dr. Dave. Still came out wrong

Don’t get me wrong either, saying I’m in first place would be cool.  I also think it’s cool picking the shortest line in the grocery store.  If people choose to vote, please go ahead and vote for us.  It can’t hurt. I know however this article pretty much ensures I won’t be in first place.  I’m totally fine with that.  I’ve been doing this full time since 2003 and had no problem marketing the business. If someone is the “Best of Lawrence” then they probably have a large fan base. Since we focus on on-site computer repair in Lawrence, people never see our Best of Lawrence certificate. There’s something more important than this marketing ballot though…

The Right Way to Vote “Best of Lawrence”

It sounds obvious, but you vote with your dollars and your voice! Shopping local is something I strongly believe in.  I was very active in the Lawrence Giveback program.  Then the Journal World purchased the program, raised rates, and discontinued it.  Whenever possible, I shop local and shop Lawrence.  I give preference to small businesses.  I’m a small business and I appreciate when clients choose us over a larger business.  The smaller the business, the more precious the individual customer.  I recognize that.

Photo by Krista Baltroka - http://flic.kr/p/dZzhWF

Photo by Krista Baltroka


Instead of assisting the Journal World in building a database to sell more ads, why not advertise the local business yourself?  Word of mouth remains the most powerful and effective advertising solution out there.  Instead of going online and filling out a random ballot, take that same effort to thank your favorite businesses online.  Have you seen how long that ballot is? Tag your favorite businesses in a Facebook post or a Tweet.  Let other people know you think they are the best of Lawrence.

That’s the real way of letting people know who you think the Best of Lawrence is!  Telling others instead of telling a marketing company is the most powerful ballot

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Posted in Business Commentary by dgreenbaum. 2 Comments

Why hasn’t Dave been blogging?

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonylasagne/

Photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonylasagne/

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been writing as much here and will be taking a short leave from blogging on this site. We’ve got some good reasons for that and some minor changes to tell you about. Read on!

Goodbye and Hello Again to our Technicians

We had to say goodbye, at least temporarily to both Devin and Noah. Noah left for a semester abroad and Devin moved his family to Alamogordo, New Mexico. Yes, this is the same place they confirmed cartridges of E.T. and other Atari memorable were buried. In fact, Devin recorded a short video for me from Ernest Cline (well-known in the computer Geek community).

We are short staffed: plain and simple. Typically it takes us 6-9 months to find the right technician for the team. That means we have less inventory available to our clients, temporarily. We are absolutely hiring!

The good news is that Noah will be back in the fall! Devin has agreed to monitor to the phones while I’m out at service calls or doing other tasks. This makes sure I can focus on providing computer repair and allow him to handle the administrative and managerial duties when I’m out in the field. This maximizes both my availability to clients and insures prompt return of phone calls. When I’m assisting clients, I can’t always return phone calls and Devin is helping restore balance from his home office in Alamogordo. If you need computer repair in New Mexico, or have family there, let us know as he is starting his own computer repair business there.

Our other team member, Matt, is moving from part time to full time. We’ve never had a full time technician besides myself and this is an exciting change. Before he joined our team a year ago, Matt was primarily PC-based. He took the initiative to get both trained and certified in Apple computer repair and now can assist our clients with Mac and PC issues.

Dave is writing, but at other places

In June of 1996, I wrote David Pogue with the subject line “Your career.” I had just started at Geeks on Wheels and realized that I wanted to do exactly what he was doing. He was not just a computer consultant to the stars, but also a technology writer for MacWorld magazine. Mr. Pogue was my mentor because he wasn’t just writing about technology from afar and covering theoretical impact, but instead covered the practical implementation of technology in the real world.

A writer who reads press releases and watches demonstrations lacks the experience to write about how this may impact the consumer. That’s like describing the quality of a meal based solely on the ingredients (that should taste good!) rather than the finished product. Similarly, a computer repair consultant that doesn’t keep up with new technology and industry trends won’t serve clients well.

Mr. Pogue balanced the two and allowed them to compliment each other. The writing kept him fresh on the big pictures of technology and the consulting kept him aware of how technology affects consumers. The duality of his approach increased the quality of his writing and consultancy.

I precisely followed his advice. I started writing for user groups http://laugks.org as well as on review sites such as Amazon and Yelp. This eventually led to small freelance paid jobs at MacNN and then eventually GigaOM. Recently, I accepted a more stable writing assignment at Lifehacker, a division of Gawker. This is a dream come true for me.

I love technology, but I only love technology that is useful. Technology must make life more efficient and practical and not add to the burden. Unless it makes life better, I’m not interested in it. At LIfehacker, I’ll be writing not just about technology but any tip, trick or “hack” that makes our lives more efficient. This further pursues my dream of following in Mr. Pogue’s footsteps. My goal is to eventually be a technology columnist for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or other large publication. While I want to do DoctorDave Computer Repair forever, I realize that’s unlikely. When I am unable to do service calls due to physical ability or health, I want to have this “next thing” in my pocket.

Nothing has changed!

Please take note. DoctorDave Computer Repair is my passion and livelihood. I will continue to run this business, do service calls, and grow the business so long as I am physically able. This has not changed with the additional writing opportunity. I won’t be blogging as much here directly for my business. After all, I only have so much time 🙂 My number one priority (besides my family) is repairing computers in Lawrence, Topeka, and Kansas City. This includes support our clients as well as my teammates. When I’m not repairing computers and running the business, I’ll be writing and extending my help beyond just this immediate area but to the world via my writing assignments

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Posted in Business Commentary by dgreenbaum. No Comments

Amazing business lessons for Planet Comicon


Yesterday I attened the Kansas City ComicCon: Planet Comicon. I’m a total geek, this is well established. Right now my top passion is Doctor Who whom influenced the naming of the company and about half my wardrobe right now. If you haven’t been to a Comicon, I highly recommend it. You pay $35 to essentially buy the right to purchase other things from vendors or wait in line and pay for celebrity autographs and pictures. It’s a gold mine, but that’s not the lesson here. The lesson was about one particular vendor.

As I was walking through this shopping mall I was looking at gifts not just for myself, but other computer nerds colleagues. A key suggestions I recommend for any of these events is to walk the entire floor of the show and don’t buy anything on first pass. You might find something better later on and these vendors will sometimes match another’s price. It’s important to be patient. I noted items of interest and came back.

I was deciding on a gift for a friend and colleague and came back to a booth with artistic rednerings of Star Trek characters. This colleague of mine was too young to have watched the original series and never quite got into Deep Space Nine but was a big fan of Star Trek the Next Generation. Captain Sisko is my favorite captain but I know my colleague a Picard fan. While looking at these drawings I stumbled upon an entire ST:TNG cast pictures and a drawing of just Picard. These weren’t originals of the drawings, but prints. Still nice of course, but it’s not like they were that expensive to produce: just ink and paper. When you sell something like that though, it’s all the back end costs involved such as marketing, buying the booth, travel expenses, etc. The actual product though costs very little.

During peak times a Con can be packed, but at this booth it was quiet. I texted this friend and asked him an ambiguous question of whether he’d prefer something with the whole cast or just Picard. I explained to the artist at the booth what I was doing. He agreed it was a tough choice as they were both excellent. Of course he was biased! Then the “hustle” began and the reason I wrote this.

The artist commented on how nice it was for me to buy for a friend. I’m just that kinda guy I explained. I know the product was unique and he’d enjoy it. My phone buzzed apparently but I wasn’t paying attention. He asked me if I was a fan and thus, I could simply keep the one my friend didn’t like. I explained that I was but showed him the bags of other stuff I bought myself. He then said “Hey, you seem like a really nice guy. How about I make it easy for you. The prints are $20 a piece but how about $25 for both so your decision is easier.”
SOLD. I pulled out my credit card and he said “Hey, if you can put that away that would make my job easier”. I wasn’t offended, although I can be persnickety about that and gave him $25.00

As I was walking away I realized how brilliant this was! Here I was, a live interested customer. Although I’m an easy prospect per se (I paid for the privilege of buying items there), I’m still not a guaranteed sale and definitely not for multiple quantities. I communicated to this vendor I was interested in the product but already showing some hesitation based on budget (his inquiry about why I wasn’t buying both). I also created a barrier to the sale: waiting for the friend to respond. He could have convinced me via text not to buy it, and I might have listened. Or I might have walked away waiting for the text and got distracted, changed my mind, overspent, etc. If he didn’t act now, he risked the sale. Remember that these are prints of the original so the actual cost per item is extremely low. He then removed the barrier to sale by offering me both for $25. Instead of having a problem, I was delighted about getting the deal and he was able to instantly close not just the sale, but get an upsell. The bonus was since he was doing me a favor with the lower price, I was willing to do him a favor by not using my credit card

Brilliant! Key lessons from this were

1) Engage the customer — you never know what you may learn

2) Find the objections to sale — if you do #1 right this will be obvious and natural

3) Remove the barrier to sale using a win win strategy — make me feel special by doing so. I got a lower price and he got not just an upsell but a savings by me not using my credit card.

Totally deducting the cost of the ticket for the amazing business lesson I learned here.

PS: A quick story about another vendor who did just the opposite. This vendor was selling silk-screened T-shirts. Again, a product easy to product and low materials costs. When I was checking out and gave my credit card, had me sign and ask for ID. Merchant agreements prevent such requests, but I complied. He then asked for me write my name on a blank piece of paper and my phone number. I declined and he held my T-shirts back explaining that due to a problem with chargebacks he must ask for that info. I called shenanigans on that and he threatened to refund me my money and deny me my T-shirts. Dumb move. It was a showdown and I didn’t budge and he eventually gave me the shirts without my contact info. I however, contacted the card issuer and let them know as well as the Attorney General as it’s illegal in many states to ask for additional information such as zip code. Whether it was for marketing or truly for the chargeback, arguing with a customer after the sale over a small purchase is never a good deal and ironically, could result in something much worse than a chargeback.

Why you should have multiple email addresses

I’ve wrtten before about the importance of not using your ISP’s email address such as “sunflower.com” or “swbell.net” primarily because if you cancel your account with them, you can’t keep your email address. With services such as Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook.com, you can have multiple email addresses at no charge and not be tied to your ISP

Another reason to have multiple email addresses might not seem obvious but it’s actually a really good safety strategy. While you may use your primary email for correspondence with family and friends, it’s nice to have a email you reserve for things like buying online or eBay/paypal.

When creating multiple email accounts for a specific purposes, you are less likely to get your primary email inbox clogged with spam. Moreover, if your primary email gets a phishing attempt you are less likely to fall for it since it’s not coming into your “ecommerce ” account.

Personally, I have a Gmail account set up for online purchases but I have an added twist. Gmail allows you to add a + to your email address and it will still go in your main account. For example, DavidGreenbaum@gmail.com and Davidgreenbaum+ebay@gmail.com both go to the same place. Therefore, all my ebay purchases would go to davidgreenbaum+ebay@gmail.com which goes into my main gmail box. If I get an email about eBay that doesn’t go to davidgreenbaum+ebay@gmail.com, I know it’s a scam and avoid it. I also know easily if someone sold my email address as each website I buy from has a unique address.

It’s an extra way to stay a bit safer online!

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Posted in Tips by dgreenbaum. 1 Comment
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