From: Craig Phillips [] on behalf of Craig Phillips []

Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 2:49 PM


Subject: Cocktail Talk


Cocktail Talk

Bits and bytes of computer chat-chat
to help you through those dreary Cocktail Parties.

June,  2009

Our Topic

Down the Rabbit-Hole


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Cocktail Talk

Dear Craig,

Cocktail Talk
Welcome to
CN Consulting's "Cocktail Talk".

Cocktail Talk is a casual monthly newsletter intended to arm you with amusing bits and bytes of information on whats happening in the computer world.  Topics sure to break the ice and capture an audience at many a social or business event.

There are buttons below to do things including unsubscribe. If you unsubscribe you will be immediately removed from our email list and may end up hanging around a soggy fruit tray sipping warm beer, alone, at your next Cocktail Party.
But that's your call, and that's Cocktail Talk


 Down the Rabbit-Hole

CerryLadies and Jellybeans, Reptiles and Crocodiles.

I stand before you, to sit behind you.

To tell you something, I know nothing about.

Admission is free, so pay at the door.

There's plenty of seats, so sit on the floor. 

In the Computer Wonderland things don't always make sense. Things aren't always what they seem. So much advice and who do you trust? Heres some straight dope for those of you doing business in the Computer Wonderland. So take the blue pill, and follow me down the rabbit-hole.


 Get good advice.

A friend wants advice on what PC he should buy his daughter for her trip to Europe. They want to use Skype to stay in touch. He was most likely looking for a manufacturer and model number. The good advice is to get the one you need.

If the goal is to use Skype to communicate while travelling through Europe, get a little $299 two pound Netbook with a built in camera and load Skype. When your daughter comes home, if the Netbook hasn't been lost or stolen, throw it away. 

My advice, and its good advice, is to get good advice. Hire a professional, the very best one you can, the very best. It will save you false starts, dead ends, and loads of time. Thats my advice, good advice.  


Know how to spot bad advice

I'm a sensitive guy so I'm going to sugar-coat this to avoid any hurt feelings.

The guy laying on your couch every Sunday during Football Season who can burp the alphabet for your children and is a blood relative of your spouse is not necessarily qualified to make decisions concerning your business. He'd like another beer "while you're up" and now that he sees you from behind thinks you've gained a little weight. Take a blue pill and tell him to shut up. You don't like him anyway. And why is he looking at your butt?

Relatives aren't the only ones to offer bad advice. Pretty much anyone throwing a bunch of acronyms and technical jargon at you is giving you bad advice. If they can't explain it to you in English they probably don't have a clue what they're talking about. If they give you cryptic messages to pass along to your "IT Guy", telling you "he'll understand", they probably don't have a clue either. And they look at your butt.* 


Know that you just might possibly not know everything.

People beam with pride because they've "got their Domain Name and it was free". Its not really free, but they don't know.

I manage Domain Name Registry for clients. My Registrar charges $15 a year for names ending in dot-com. Thats what it costs. $15.

The "Free" Domain Name is only free the first year, it costs $30 to renew for year two, and another $30 every year after. Getting out of this deal isn't cheap either. So in 5 years when your business fails from making bad decisions you will have spent $120 on $75 worth of registration fees. Thats a $45 tip on a $75 check.    


But wait, there's more.

"But wait, there's more."  is a book about Salespeople. its about how Salespeople sell and are trained to sell. They don't care what they sell, they sell whatever's hot. The internet is hot.

One of the underlying concepts of sales is to not say the price. 'You'd expect to pay $399 for this but today only, and we're running out of them, we can give this to you not for $399, not for a low-low $299, not even for an unheard of $199, but for just six easy to make payments of only $99.95."

A Mexican Dope Peddler in the Rivera Maya offered me marijuana "almost free". Almost free. For a nice bottle of Single Malt Scotch I'll tell you how to get Mexican Dope Peddlers to offer you marijuana for "almost free". It may come in handy next time you go on vacation. But you won't take me up on it. Not because you wouldn't smoke dope on vacation, but because I told you the price.

I respond to "Almost Free Website" offers to see what they're up to, and set prices.. The price for their "Almost Free Website" is $3K. You can do it all at once or drag it out but thats what it is. $3K.  Getting a straight answer on the price question is real hard. Companies don't put thiose prices on their websites.

Send an email reply to one of the "Almost Free Website" emails and they'll call you. Call you!  Not email an answer. They have to put a Professional Salesperson on the phone with you. They won't tell you much at first, but eventually, way down deep in the rabbit-hole, its $3K. Because that's what it is.  


Free, for now.
People often ask about "Cloud" services. Especially backing up their PCs to the web. "It comes free with my new PC", "Google does it.".  Remember when Cash Stations (ATMs) were free? Remember when Cable didn't have commercials? OK, probably you don't. But Disk Storage is $10 per Gigabyte per month on the internet. You've got 20 gigabytes of pictures, $200 a month. That's what it is. $10 per Gigabyte per month. Google it if you want. Blue pill, Google, rabbit-hole. 


Funny names don't mean cheap prices.

Geek Squad. Funny name, funny cars. Well trained people, I like them and working with them.  I thought they were cheap, even felt insulted when people asked me to help them for free so they wouldn't have to pay Geek Squad. Even offered to pay Geek Squad the $20 so I wouldn't have to waste my time. Little did I know.  

Blue pill, Google, rabbit-hole. Geek Squad publishes their rates right there on their website and they are not cheap.  It says: "We will install and/or repair, configure and update one software title and add convenient Desktop, Start Menu and Quick Launch Bar Shortcuts for quick and easy access." $129.99.  

Autorun will install your software without much help from you. All you have to do is register, which means type your name and zip code.  The Shortcuts happen automatically. But, if you're lonely, by all means have the nice young man come over, and make some tea. $130 an hour for that? Sign me up. Orange Pekoe please, goes better with the blue pills. 


Know what you want, ask for what you want.

Geek Squad will scan your PC for $300 and tell you if you've got a Virus or Spyware. They'll try to remove them. No promises. But if thats what you want, they'll do it.

You already know you have a Virus or you wouldn't have called them. What you really want is all your files saved. Your late Henry's photo album, your kid's 1st day of school and every day thereafter, and 6 years of Quickbooks. You'd probably like all that software you've loaded over the years to work too, but not at $130 "per software title, with shortcuts". 

Truth is, after 2-3 hours, and $300, the nice young man can walk. "Yes ma'am  Mrs.Cosgrove. You sure do have one of those viruses. Sorry we couldn't save Henry's photos. Thanks for the tea. Try a blue pill. Bye now. Gotta get back to my rabbit-hole".

You will get what you ask for at the price agreed on. So ask for what you want.  


Pricing is confusing.

A telecom vendor that does the same 2 hour installation over-and-over six days a week charges $95 per hour. I asked how they make any money with a 30 minute commute on each end of the visit. That equals 3 hours for $190 or $63 per hour. Half the going rate for telecom consultants with their skill set.

They charge whats known as a "Truck Fee". A common practice used to offset the cost of transportation to (not from) a client site. Theirs is $105. That changes things a little now doesn't it? $295 is more than $190. That's $100 an hour now instead of $63. $200 for the first hour or $150 an hour for the two hours they're on-site. Even more tha Geek Squad, which is even more than me. Anyway.

Down the rabbit-hole. Where do they get off charging more for driving the truck than working? $105 for a 1/2 hour drive is $210 per hour versus $95 for actually working. Maybe its the blue pills but unless you're a truck, cab, or limo driver driving isn't working. Does an  Airline Pilot get $210 an hour for driving the plane?  No.


Do a reality check.

Do a reality check, have realistic expectations. I saw Wierd Science too, and trust me, you can not plug a modem into a bra and make Kelly LeBrock. 


Blue pill, Google, rabbit-hole, but thats your call, and that's Cocktail Talk.


Thank you for reading,



Craig Phillips
CN Consulting, Inc.



 * Okay, I admit I don't like these clowns.Whatever they do for a living I can do better for cheaper. I'm sure I know just as much about their professions as they do mine. I even know the difference between Lasix and Lasik's. They don't, and I won't look at your butt.


CN Consulting, Inc -
Computer Consulting for Business!
Serving the Chicagoland and Greater Milwaukee areas since 1990
CN Consulting is a female owned and operated company



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