I said I had
the money to afford a computer but was clueless at figuring out
how to operate one. I had heard this Windows stuff was very
tricky to learn on your own. What was the point of buying a
modern computer if I didn't know how to use it??
Gary said he would help me get started. Whatever I needed to
learn, he would show me how to do it. That's all the
encouragement I needed. I took the plunge!! I went ahead and
bought my first computer from Gary in October 1997.
However the computer just sat at his store. Rather than pick up
and bring it home, instead, for practically the entire month of
November 1997, I would drive over to the Floppy Wizard (later
renamed TFW Computers) and hang out for a couple of hours each
day. Whenever Gary had a free moment he would help me himself or
assign one of his assistants to help me. I knew Gary didn't have
the time to help everyone like this, but I think he took pity on
me. Plus after all the needling he took from me learning to whip
dance, I think he enjoyed the paybacks. Slowly but surely I
developed enough skills to be able to take full advantage of my
Finally I figured I was ready. I bravely decided to take my
First I got out some name tag labels and put one on every cord
and then on every port in the back of the computer. Plus I took
a picture of the back of the computer to guide me. I was very
worried I would get the keyboard and the mouse and the modem and
the scanner and the printer and the monitor all plugged into the
wrong spot, turn it on, and fry the computer. That is how bad it
It didn't do any good. I still screwed up. I hooked everything
up just the way the labels and the picture suggested I do. Then
I turned on the computer. It didn't do a thing.
Carefully I checked the power cord. Yes, it was plugged into the
wall and into the computer correctly. I put an extension cord
into the outlet to make sure I had electricity. Yes, there was
juice. So I unplugged the computer and plugged it back in to see
if the cord was loose. The computer still did not turn in.
Somehow I had broken my computer on the way home, probably when
I went over that pothole. Crimson with frustration, I called
Gary at the store.
I told him the damn thing wouldn't turn on!! Yes, it was plugged
in! Yes, it had just worked at the store. Yes, I had hit the
switch in the front. Why wouldn't it turn on?
That is when Gary explained that there was another off-on switch
in the back that they turn 'off' for safety when transporting
the computer. Try hitting that button. It worked. I am a moron.
Why hadn't I seen that switch before?
A couple weeks later Gary confessed. He had indeed turned off
that switch in back for safety like they always do, but decided
to have to a little fun with me by not telling me. Gary KNEW I
would panic and he still did it! I would have killed him
on the spot if I didn't need him so much.
Why I like Gary is something I still haven't figured out.
Actually I know exactly why I like Gary... although he is not
above the occasional joke at my expense or an innocent prank,
Gary is one of most generous human beings I have ever met. And
his patience with morons like me is the stuff of legends.
During that first year, I must have called the poor man once
every two days with one problem after the other. I was the
world's biggest titty baby, but not did he ever lose his
patience with me.
After I took my computer home, what I remember best was that
Gary would give me help over the phone whenever I would get
stuck at home. Many times Gary rescued me from the depths of
despair with a helpful hint that went way past the call of duty.
And he saved my butt with the big stuff too like the Happy 99
virus attack, the time my entire computer died and many other
crises as well. No other human being on earth would have put up
with me, but Gary did. My goodness did I ask some stupid
Since those first days, Gary has helped SSQQ take full advantage
of every technological development that has come along.
We were the first dance studio in Houston to have a web site.
We were the first dance studio in Houston to have an email
We were the first dance studio to have On-Line Registration.
We were the first dance studio to use computers to play music.
After Gary helped me overcome my fear of computers, I discovered
I took to computers like a duck to water. I recognize how
indispensable computers are to modern communication and to
modern business. I have ordered 20 computers since I met Gary.
Gary revolutionized my business.
A couple years back, Gary was fond of telling me how so
and so from the dance studio had come into his store to buy a new
computer. After the numbers started to grow, I suggested to Gary that he
keep track. Ever since then Gary emails me every time a new computer is
sold to an SSQQ Customer.
In the past couple weeks Elizabeth Carillo and Mike Blaha has pushed the
overall total to 97. There is a better than even chance that April
will be the month that SSQQ and TFW Computers hit the Magic 100 total.
Since April is also the birthday month for the store (the store will be 22
years old on April 29), I asked Gary if he wanted to make a special offer
to Mister or Miss SSQQ One Hundred. Gary said he would be happy to
make an offer, but preferred not to make it exclusive to just his
hundredth customer because that might lead to some bickering.
Gary said that for the entire month of April,
system ordered in the month of April we will give a FREE DVD burner (NEC
3520a Dual Layer...the best
burner on the market) installed in any new system ordered in
April. That is better than a $100 savings on a system. This
offer is for SSQQ students, teachers and their
referrals. He added however that you have to
mention your SSQQ connection or he won't say anything.
One more thing: last month as I had the idea to write this story when Gary
hit 97, I asked some people to say a word about Gary and his computers.
You may not recognize some of the names, but their comments are very
Gary has a heart of gold and does anything to help people when they get
stuck with computer problems. He is like a "computer lifeguard". Just when
a virus or a hard drive failure or spyware is about to drag your computer
down, he will come to your rescue in a way you would be hard-pressed to
find anywhere else.
The only thing you have to watch out for is his lousy sense of humor. Gary
loves to tease. He may save your computer, but he is pretty tough on your
The first story involves the notorious Ann Faget, a NASA engineer who just
happens to be the reigning SSQQ Logic Puzzle Champ. Unfortunately she is
also on the SSQQ Hit List for her indiscriminate use of puns around polite
company, but that's another story.
GARY STORY ONE
From: FAGET, ANN L. (JSC-CC) (SAIC)
Date: 02/23/05 12:58:38
Hi Gary - I am a regular at SSQQ on
Wednesdays, and I have read a lot about your computer store and everything
you have done for Rick in the newsletter. I hope you can help me. I have
a Dell Inspiron laptop, which I bought in late 2001. Last week, out of
the blue, it wouldn't boot up. When I open the top and press the power
button, nothing happens, the screen stays blank. I believe it's getting
power, because the green light is on. I will bring it to your store if
you think you can help.
Thanks, Ann Faget
From: TFW Computers
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 1:10 PM
To: FAGET, ANN L. (JSC-CC) (SAIC)
Subject: Re: Help!
Yes, bring it to me so
we can diagnose. Sometimes (often) the power supply is putting out only
enough power to light up a LED, but not the system...so it may be just a
bad power supply. Gary.
From: FAGET, ANN L. (JSC-CC) (SAIC)
Date: 02/23/05 13:23:57
To: 'TFW Computers'
Subject: RE: Help!
Thanks for prompt reply. I could come
by this evening. I will be coming from the Clear Lake area, leaving about
5:30, not sure I could make it by 6. Could you stay open a bit late?
From: TFW Computers
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 1:33 PM
To: FAGET, ANN L. (JSC-CC) (SAIC)
Subject: RE: Help!
Maybe 15 minutes I can stay as I have to be somewhere at 6:30pm, but it is
close by. Do you have a cell phone you can keep in touch with me with?
From: FAGET, ANN L. (JSC-CC) (SAIC)
Date: 02/23/05 14:02:52
To: 'TFW Computers'
Subject: RE: Help!
I'll just come by now, and then stay
and work late. I should be there between around 3:30.
(Editor’s Note: Gary
told me he fixed her system within five
from Ann Faget:
Hi Rick - I'd like to add to your collection of Gary Richardson stories.
My Dell laptop quit working earlier
this month, and I had no idea what to do. I remembered you had
recommended a computer store, so I researched it on your web site and
found out about Gary and TFW Computers. Despite the fact that I live in
Clear Lake and his store is in northwest Houston, about a 45 minute drive
for me, I preferred to go there based on your strong personal
Well, in the end, the problem turned
out to be easy to solve. All he did was plug it in, take out the battery
and power it on. It booted up no problem. Then he shut it down, put the
battery back in, and started it up again, and it worked like a champ.
Apparently this has something to do with resetting the battery. Although
this was quite simple, the point is that he knew what to do, and then he
was gracious enough not to charge for his time. So just add my voice to
the chorus of admiration for Gary and TFW Computers.
GARY STORY TWO
It's late and I gotta get to bed.
5:00 am makes for a short night.
I will tell you that my experience
with buying a computer from Gary Richardson has been nothing but pleasant
in every way. He truly goes out of his way to make sure his customers are
happy, including the moronic computer illiterates such as myself. His
patience with me after the sale, especially when it came to using the
ghosting program he sold me, was "above and beyond the call of duty".
When I get ready to buy another
computer, TFW's is my first and last stop.
GARY STORY THREE
I have to admit that Gary has been a vertebral magical worker. Between
myself and Joseph my partner who had a penchant for doing even dummer
things to his computer that I have been know to do to mine.
I am basically computer tolerant and I know that they know that I do not
like them and they do not like me. Gary repeatedly made peace with the
computer god (without having to find a vestal virgin (it they still exist)
to sacrifice. All kidding aside, Gary has been a good friend and a
patient computer mentor for many years...and one cool dude.
GARY STORY FOUR
I never thought I wanted or needed a
computer. You mentioned TFW to me so, I went to see Gary and he explained
everything I needed to know did not try to pressure me in any way. Now I
am on my second computer, have digital cameras, scanners, printers, MP3,
Gary and his staff have patiently
answered every single one of my stupid questions over the years without
making feel that they were as stupid as I knew they were. He regularly
sends computer update info. Most of which I don't understand, so he kindly
explains it to me...I have referred my friends and co-workers to him and
feel confident that they will be as happy as I am with whatever they get.
I love my computer:)
GARY STORY FIVE
About five years ago I asked Gary at
TFW to build a computer for me. I never had a computer with Windows. He
recommended a server for my new Windows 98/Outlook Express. I was ready
to go big time. I had questions from time to time and would go by or call
Gary. TFW was very helpful. I just had Windows XP and DSL installed, and
I'm still using the original tower.......that's what happens when you're
on social security. Computers are exhausting, but I have Gary to help me
out. Sue King
GARY STORY SIX
“Where is your back-up? What, you
don’t have one?? Well, we will just have to restore to the original Ghost
Image. I TOLD you to back it up!”
I have heard those words before. And
often in the shop… They are words to cringe by!!
No doubt that Gary and his assistants
Tim and Rick have been a lifesaver on many an issue. I have bought well
over 10 machines and paid for 5… er 8 er 10 (can’t remember hehe!!) since
I have known Gary. Always friendly and helpful on a phone call and you
can’t beat the personal service and turnaround time.
No… and I mean NO OTHER COMPANY… has
his service record.
Congratulations on your new record of
100 computers for SSQQ!
I purchased a state of the art system
from you about four years ago. Since that time I have experienced several
small problems and you and your staff have always been courteous, prompt
with your service and always willing to explain what has been done. When
the system was new the modem failed and it was replaced promptly without
I purchased a scanner and took it home
and could not get it to operate and thought it was faulty. In the final
analysis I had not properly uninstalled the old scanner, which prevented
the new one to function. During this process the scanner was replaced and
later I was advised how to insure I had properly uninstalled the old
I purchased a DC5000 Kodak digital
camera, which has provided great pictures. My daughter, a music teacher
in the Katy school system, has used the camera to record many of her
concerts and school performances. I purchased this camera on your
recommendation and it has exceeded our expectations.
The service I have received from TFW
Computers has bee outstanding. I would recommend your organization to
anyone looking for a good place to purchase a computer system where you
would receive reliable support after the sale.
It has always been a pleasure to do
business with your organization.
GARY STORY EIGHT
Rick, I'm one of the many who have
experienced help from TFW. I asked Gary to "build" me a computer a
couple of years ago when I couldn't spell XP. I have since had occasion to
ask for help and in most cases it was "cockpit" problems. Gary and staff
have responded promptly and graciously to my requests. (I won't list the
specifics for fear of embarrassment - to me, not TFW). I would, and have,
highly recommended TFW to others. Thanks for asking for my experience.
GARY STORY NINE
So you want a collection of
experiences suffered at the hands of the "NEEDLER" more commonly known as
Gary Richardson, owner of TFW Computers? Well, let's see what we may have
in the ole storage vault of treasured moments at TFW.
As many of Gary's customers would
relate there are numerous incidents of advice on booboo's over the phone,
computer malfunctions that are handled in a similar manner and always in
the most professional manner. As long as you are at phone length you are
safe from the needle, however, once you enter the "domain" you are fair
game. Once having suffered myself into opening what I thought was an
email from Microsoft (wrong) I or I should say the computer became
infected with a worm. Chaos and all sorts of mischief were plaguing my
computer. But once again TFW to the rescue for a small hourly fee. The
computer and I were saved by the white knight on Gessner.
All jokes aside, TFW has been most
reliable and helpful whenever I have had problems. If you just want to
chat (not possible) or drop off a sick computer, Gary and his staff, are
usually able to assist you. Lord help you if you go in with just a small
problem on your mind for you may come away with an estimate for the latest
and greatest or you may come away with a new machine and a lighter
wallet. Over the years (since and including the Mall) that I have
associated with Gary, Rick and Tim
I have always,well, most of the time
enjoyed my business experience with TFW Computers.
GARY STORY TEN
Jim Bohli took many dance lessons at SSQQ and even met
his wife there at the studio! They got married I think in 1998. Jim
was the one who referred me to Gary and his computer shop in 1997
or so. Jim and I have been friends for about 17 years.
Gary built a very efficient Jaguar for
me and I’ve been hooked every since. TFW built my third machine over the
2004/2005 holidays and, of course; I’m more pleased than I was with the
previous two. I have two machines set up in a Local Area Network in my
study with a hub that I can plug the laptop into and share all of the
resources. I receive a wide band signal via Dish Network. The system is
fast, reliable, and very flexible when it comes to sharing files and
resources. The nice thing is that I always have a backup CPU.
Gary taught me a couple of important
lessons about maintaining home-based PC’s. The first was the lesson about
the wireless mouse. When I purchased the first Logitech wireless mouse
and keyboard, Gary told me, nonchalantly, that if my system looked like it
wasn’t working right that it might be the battery in the mouse. Sure
enough, I didn’t keep that little comment in my mind. After a year or so
my machine was not responding to those little mouse clicks…it just seemed
to take forever to get the CPU to respond. I thought I had gotten a virus
in the software or firmware and went to some lengths over a week’s period
to detect and remove this phantom virus. After much hard work and
frustration I thought I would have to take the machine back to Gary and
have him help. Over the weekend, I shutdown and unhooked the machine, put
it in the car, and was ready to take it to Gary’s for troubleshooting. On
Sunday while I was thinking what an idiot I was because I couldn’t figure
out what virus had gotten in there, I remembered Gary’s comment to me
about the mouse. I was now really embarrassed to think that was the
problem. I got the machine out of the car, hooked it back up, and
replaced the mouse battery. Guess what?? Life was perfect again. Oh
Gary, I wish you’d been a little more emphatic about the mouse battery and
that I’d paid a little closer attention to what you told me.
The second, and probably more
important lesson, was about using Norton Ghost to back up programs and
data. Not too much to be said here except that I wasted a lot of time and
spent too much money on other back up programs when Ghost was the perfect
solution. Before I began using Ghost, I did experience the loss of some
data…the worst part being some digital photographs I had stored. Some of
these were family memories which are gone forever. Gary’s solution using
Ghost and two hard drives to back up both programs and data has proven
valuable. I only recall having to retrieve Ghost back up data a couple of
times, but it sure was worth having it available and the restoration
process is easy to perform. Thanks Gary for this good solution to a pesky
problem with home computers.
I also receive many good
software/hardware references, funny stories, and unique pictures of the
world from Gary’s email distribution. I always look forward to them each
day. I know he’s a junkie…his e-mails are sometimes time-stamped in late
or wee hours.
One of my hobbies is fooling around in
the stock market on line. Gary’s computers coupled with good hi-speed
access have made that a comfortable hobby for me. It’s really good to
have capable technical tools that give you a competitive position with the
Last and most important is e-mail. My
better half uses her computer for e-mail and greeting cards. Both are
very important to her and even though she’s not a techno, she is
proficient with both of these. She feels connected to the world and is
very impatient if her machine is not working correctly.
So there you have it. I hope this
helps add to your list of TFW Computer stories. Gary’s business is a gem
and I wish him and the staff the best of luck. I look forward to the next
generation of computers and software and know that Gary will be there to
Bay City, Texas