Semper Paratus

Welcome to the New Year. Making resolutions to get things done is always in vogue at this time of year. In 2023, I want to recommend a new tack. Semper Paratus is the motto of the United States Coast Guard. It means Always Prepared. Good advice for these times, and for all times.

Each of us has been hit by the unexpected, the unwelcome, and the tragic. And almost none of us are prepared. There are many places where you can get good advice on how to prepare for the challenges life presents. However, I want to give you 5 things you should do to prepare for Computer crises.

  1. Do regular backups. Your computer comes with backup software which is easy to set up, and to use. I recommend using external drives with this software. I am not fond of cloud backups, but they can provide another level of safety. I do not recommend storing your files only in the cloud. Services like OneDrive (Microsoft), iCloud (Apple) and Google Drive (Google, obviously) do not give you easy ways to make backups for you files, and your protection.
  2. Keep a current record of your passwords. Do not use an online service, or an electronic device to keep your list. Online services are big targets for breaches, and electronics have an ugly habit of failing just when you need your data.
  3. Maintain a list of the tools (software) that you use. That is USE…period, not just your frequently used applications. Include any license, and install codes. Also include the websites that you need to log into for personal, and business needs. This list also makes it far easier to move to new equipment. When necessary, or just because you want to.
  4. Organize your files so that you can find what you need, when you need it. The computer may make it seem as if you already know where your files are. But many people will tell me that their files are in Word, and in Excel, But these are HOW, not WHERE your files live. You can create file structures in your Documents, and your Pictures to help you keeps up with YOUR STUFF.
  5. Tell your emergency backup person where you keep these records and your backup, and, most importantly the password to open your computer. Then share the same information with your backup person’s backup.

Obviously, you can do these things for yourself. But the important thing is to do them. Being unprepared for a crisis is the best way to make it worse. You don’t have to go it alone, though. I live to serve, and you can call on me as you need. I can help you with any and all of your computer needs, and challenges.

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Winning the Battle Against Inflation

Those of us, who have been around for a while, are well acquainted with inflation. It may have first reared its ugly head with the demise of the nickel candy bar or the 10¢ soft drink (that’s soda or pop for you newcomers). Alas, prices will rise, hopefully wages will too. But we can avoid taking some of the hits with a few simple strategies.

  1. Decide what to buy. Just thinking about your purchase in terms of cost vs. desire can do a lot to reduce your expenses.
  2. Track your purchases. Write down how you are spending money. Even more than a budget, this keeps your eye on the money ball.
  3. Maintain what you own. Keep up with what needs repairs, shining up, or just rearranging. Our grandparents survived the Great Depression by making do. Using what they had to entertain themselves, and to survive.
  4. Spend when you HAVE to. Buy the things you need. You can’t drive to work without your car. (Although a bus may be cheaper, if feasible). Eating is still a must. But you don’t have to do the same old things. If you HAVE to have it, make your purchase with your eye on the price.

Computer House Calls is here to help. I am aware that it is not cheap to ask for help. That is why I offer free and unlimited telephone support. As you evaluate the relative cost of repairs for your technology against the price of replacement, I can help you with options and specifications. I can even help you strategize to keep the costs down when you see me.

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Be Aware, There Be Dragons About!


As you well know, there are many people trying to take advantage of you, and your family, and friends. We call these creeps, SCAMMERS, and their con games, SCAMS. These are the modern Dragons we must combat. Your greatest sword is your awareness, and your greatest weakness is your confidence.

First, your awareness. Know that there are people out there targeting YOU. These criminals (THESE ARE CRIMINALS!) are using every part of the technical landscape to get your stuff. And they are not just looking for your money. They target your personal information, your contacts, your habits and your money. They will use your age, your background, and your vulnerabilities. They will use anything that they can find about you, TO TARGET YOU. They will use the phone, email, social media, dating sites, clickbait, and poisoned websites. They will cultivate you as a friend, as a fish, and especially as a target.

Your confidence is their best friend. All of us (and I do mean ALL of us) are convinced that we are too smart to be taken in by a Con Man. Boy, do they love that! We will disregard the concerns of our friends, the good advice of the media, and even our own misgivings. I even have given advice to my customers, usually not diplomatically. The response that I hear is “Not Everyone is Evil” I acknowledge and champion the fact that that customer is absolutely right. Most people are honest and trustworthy.

But that brings us back to Awareness. It is not the real people in our lives we usually cannot see coming.

What can we do?

My mom gave me some advice back in the Dark Ages while I was still a teenager. This was before computers, cell phones, even voice mail or answering machines. Most fraud in those days were using the technology of the day. They used door to door scammers selling everything; ads in magazines, newspapers, and on bulletin boards; unrequested items, and pitches by mail; and of course, the telephone.

Her advice was simple and still apropos to today:

 If You Did Not Originate The Contact,

Do Not Give ANY Information

To The Person Asking For It.


This includes answering the question of who is answering the phone. Your privacy and all that entails, are yours and vitally important. They should not be given out freely, and almost never willingly.


Of course, you may eventually be taken advantage, or at least believe in the possibility of same. There are steps you can and should take.

1. Notify your bank to look out for the fraud.

2. Close any breached accounts, and notify the appropriate companies.

3. Change any and ALL relevant passwords.

4. Ask for Help

5. Notify the Police, the Federal Trade Commision, the FBI, and the State Attorney General

How can you report scams?

Sorry about the links but each of these websites has information you can use:

1. Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department:

2. North Carolina Attorney General:,file%20a%20consumer%20complaint%20online.

3. North Carolina Department of Public Services:

4. The Federal Government:,%3A00%20PM%2C%20ET)

Of course you can still call me.

I can counsel you on the the steps you want to take personally. I can also review the security you have in place, scan your systems for intruders and weaknesses, and look out for the steps you need to take moving forward.

As Always,
Holler If You Need Me!
& Tell Your Friends
or Just Send Them to our Website

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Family Heirlooms  Originally Posted: July 6, 2021

First, a little business.
Effective August 1, 2021, I will be raising the hourly rate for a Computer House Call to $100 per hour, successive half hours will be $50. I know this feels like a big jump, but it is my first increase since just after Hurricane Katrina, a mere 15 years ago.
Now onto the real purpose of this missive.
Family Heirlooms
Summer is a time that we build the memories we carry forever. Keep those memories in photos, videos, and your hearts.
You can also build new memories by building family heirlooms. Modern technologies provide us with great ways to record our lives. If this sounds like an echo, this is a mission for me.
My best example is Zoom®. By using the recording features, you can hold meetings of one, two or more. Even better the free meetings are limited to forty minutes
If you are a bit camera shy, it is far easier when you are in control. By holding a meeting of one, you can tell your family those great stories that they have heard hundreds of times. There does come a time when everyone wants to hear them again. You can give advice to your friends and family here and in the future. Playing the music you make and the music you love will move your life into your family’s future. Even reading stories to little ones can become true heirlooms and carry you onto future generations.
With two, you can interview one another about what life is like for each of you. Try interviewing an eleven year old, who asks you about being eleven, way back when you were eleven. Then you can turn around and ask them what it is like to be eleven now. Recording the different vantage points of each unique life is a fabulous way to build family treasures.
By adding more people into the mix, you can compare memories, experiences, and love. Tossing the moments of life among the people who we love can bring that reality to all who see it in the future.
An heirloom is a gift for the future, and a prize for today.


As Always.
Holler If You Need Me!

& Tell Your Friends

or Just Send Them to our Website

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Happy Fathers’ Day Originally Posted: June 21, 2020

I know that everyone is tired of being cooped up, and really bored doing the same old things. I have come up with idea that allows us to get and give joy.

Many of you have been using the cameras on your phones, tablets, and computers to attend meetings. However, this technology has even better uses. By the way, I prefer to think of these as tools.

Using Zoom, and perhaps some of the other meeting softwares, you can build memories. 

Some of the ideas I have, and you will find more, use these tools to collect and share the joys of family.

1.    Have the younger generation interview their elders.

2.    Let grandparents read to the kids.

3.    Tell the stories of your life. (I got my Grandmother telling me about getting her Citizenship with my Dad in tow.)

4.    Practice making speeches. (This is not just for kids.)

5.    Tell someone what they mean to you.

6.    Talk about falling in love.

7.    Tell your kids about your dreams.

8.    Sing together. (It’s not about the song, but the singers.)

9.    Make it up as you go along.

Make a Joyful Moment, and Live Life for Today,
And for Posterity.

Zoom will create both an audio, and a video file. The audio may be small enough to email. You will need to use flash drives, or services like Dropbox to send the larger video files to the rest of your family. Dropping flash drives into the mail for kids can really make their day. After all, it’s addressed to them.

I have an example: Here is the Tribute to My Dad.

As Always.
Holler If You Need Me!

& Tell Your Friends
or Just Send Them to our Website

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Computer Support Is Still Available Originally Posted: May 4, 2020

First, let me say,
Thank You!

For your Compassion, your Caring,
your Support and your Love.
You have asked what more you can do for me.
You have already done Everything.
No one could ask for more than this.
The immense outpouring of love and support has stunned, overwhelmed, and humbled me.

I want you to know that even in this time of limited contact, and social distancing, I am still here to help you. Computer support has been deemed essential. This means that I can come to you to help with your computers. However, if you are exercising caution (no Caution is too much), I can log into your computer remotely. I have done this for years for customers who have moved away, so I can do it with you. I can do set ups, add software, cleanup, troubleshoot, and give instruction. Please note: Your computer must be able to get on line.

As Always.

Holler If You Need Me!
& Tell Your Friends

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News From The New Year – Originally Posted: February 20, 2020

In my last message, I spoke of making it through some trying times. I thought we would start off 2020 on solid footing. Unfortunately that has not happened. On February 9, 2020, my beloved wife Susan unexpectedly passed away. I am shaken beyond all comprehension, and I ask for your compassion and patience while I recover from this awful blow. I am attaching her obituary to the bottom of this message.

Thank you for all of the support you have shown to Susan and me over the years. May God bless you and keep you as time moves on.

Susan Michelle Haywood

Susan Michelle Haywood, most beloved wife of Thomas (Tom) Hall, passed from this mortal world to the reward she so richly deserved. It was a sudden and unexpected passing, and her loss is sorely felt by those who knew her.

Susan was a lifelong Charlottean, having been born a “Presby Baby” at Presbyterian Hospital. She lived the first part of her life in the Newell community, near what became the University area, and later came back, living a mere mile from her childhood home.

She made her career in Customer Service, from her first job at a dry cleaner on Sugar Creek, to her last delivering Pizzas for Papa Johns. She loved to be out and about mingling with customers, their families, and their pets. Her job history took several paths. She was the first successful woman in the Charlotte Observer’s circulation department. It was here that she met the Love of her life, as she was of his. She later was in retail management, and finally found her niche about thirty-five years ago, delivering pizza, and giving out pizza joy to her customers, doing store tours and special events.

Susan was special. Her laugh and her voice would grab you and keep you. She never met a stranger, nor failed to try to make them a friend. Before she met Tom, who tied her to an anchor, she traveled the world. From age 19 to 24, she made three trips to the Middle East. Along the way, she saw the Netherlands, Italy, and Greece, as well as Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Her first trip was to be with her church, but when every one else cancelled she took off with another group, none of whom she knew. Of course these were the same people she traveled with on her other two trips.

Susan loved to collect, from foreign coins, to Hummel figurines (they proved to be one of the first touch points for her and Tom), to T-shirts from everywhere and everyone. And of course she collected people. some from work, some from travels, and some from the business she started with her husband.

The business is a computer business, and Susan was not remotely interested in computers. But Tom always says, “If you’re not satisfied tell me, and if that doesn’t work, tell Susan. She will fix it!” Customer Service again.

Susan leaves behind a lost Husband, Tom Hall. They met the first week of September in 1980, by mid October, he had asked to marry him. In February, and Tom thinks it was Valentine’s Day, she finally accepted. In July 1984, they were married. It has been a journey, cut short too soon, that has been Wonderful for nearly 40 years.

From the beginning Susan and Tom made it a practice to end each conversation with “I love you.’ Each would expect it, and if not heard, would start all over again to get it said. They even expanded this to their friends, and sometimes by force of a true habit, to perfect strangers.

A service to celebrate the life of Susan Michelle Haywood will be at 11:00am on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at graveside. The Reverend Doctor Bill Jeffries will preside. The address of Charlotte Memorial Gardens is:

7632 Hood Road
Charlotte, NC 28215
Tel: 1-704-536-2374

Robertson Funeral and Cremation Society, and the Charlotte Memorial Gardens have provided assistance to the bereaved.

In lieu of flowers, Tom requests that you donate to the charity of your choice. If you cannot decide, choose one of Susan’s. They include St. Jude Children’s Hospital, The Make a Wish Foundation, Your local Humane Society, or The ASPCA. But mostly, give Love. Let your family, your friends, and those you touch in your daily life, know just how special, and how loved they are. There is no greater gift.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Happy Anniversary to Us Originally Posted: December 27, 2019

Originally Posted December 27, 2019

Happy Holidays
And Thanks
25 Wonderful Years

Thanks to each of you for being the best customers in the world. Your patience in busy times, and your sincere caring in hard times, and your patronage through all these years has brought to this twenty five year anniversary.

 Unfortunately, I have fallen down on some of you. I am truly sorry. For about the last six months, Susan and I have been over-lifed. That is to say that we have had some health challenges, and so we have struggled to get our feet under us. We hope that the New Year brings us back to some semblance of normal.


Now for Our Computer New Year’s Tips

  1. Make sure that you have antivirus software installed and up to date. (This does not apply to Mac users)
  2. Keep your files backed up. This applies even more to your personal files and pictures. Do not assume that someone else is backing up YOUR stuff.
  3. Call with questions. It only hurts if you have to see me.


As Always…

Holler If You Need Me!

& Tell Your Friends

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Protect Your Computer Originally Posted: April 19, 2019

Originally Posted on April 19, 2019

Anti-Virus & Cleanup Protocol

 There are several important things to remember about keeping your computer safe.

Be Careful:

  1. Do not install anything on your computer when you do not understand why you are installing that specific program. Just because something asks to be installed does not make it legit.
  2. Move carefully on the Internet. Do not search for websites that you already know. Just type addresses into the address bar at the top of your browser.
  3. Do not look for phone numbers for computer product support on the internet. You can find some correct numbers, but the odds are against you.
  4. Do not allow anyone into your computer. Exceptions to this are the vendors for your software and hardware. And some onsite support.
  5. Beware the upgrade. Many items on your computer will regularly update, but anything that suggests an UPGRADE is likely to cost you money.

 Current Tools:

  1.  We always recommend an anti-virus. Most of those on the market, whether paid or free are good. None of them are great. You can buy more coverage, but the bigger the program, the harder it makes the computer work. Most anti-virus programs have virus protection both active, and on-demand scanning, some add a firewall solution, and several other tools.
  2. You should have Malwarebyte’s Antimalware.(It also has a free or paid version) This program is on-demand scanner and removal tool. It looks for assorted non-viral threats like adware, spyware, and Trojan actors. It should be run when you suspect something has gotten in from the Internet which is acting badly on your system.
  3. Our third tool is CCleaner. It is designed to remove the debris and detritus (also known as Crap) from computer systems. It pulls temp files and marketing cookies from your system.
  4. Your browsers are important. One manual step needed is to open your browsers, and look at your installed add-ons and extensions. There are a couple of ways to get there, as each browser is different, so you may want to call me or Google for the correct access to these items. You want to remove anything that you didn’t intentionally install, or that the software designer didn’t put in. Some legitimate items are Google Docs, Adblock Plus, and various anti-virus add-ins. Almost no add-ins are required, and all of them can slow down your computer.

My normal recommendations are for quarterly cleanups.

UNLESS. You see something that makes you nervous. If you do get nervous, clean before you start to worry. It takes very little time (about an hour). And if you clear everything these programs find, you will probably beat the bad guys to the punch.

Any questions,

Call me

Any questions, Any Time.

Call Tom Hall at 704-619-9643

Holler If You Need Us!

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Passing Milestones Originally Posted: January 2, 2019

Originally Posted January 2, 2019

As we move into a Glorious New Year with High Hopes and Great Expectations, we would like to thank you for our latest Milestone.
December 21, 2018 marked the 24th Anniversary for Computer House Calls. We could not have come this far without YOU, the fabulous people who have supported us, and brought us this far on a wonderful journey.

We have met many unique (as you all are), and interesting (as again, you all are) people. Our customers come from throughout the area, across the country, and around the world. It has been eye-opening, and a great experience to learn just how much of a gathering place Charlotte is.

Thank You for all of Your Questions, Calls, and Challenges. Without them, Computer House Calls would never have grown or lasted to this point. Please keep them coming as we move into Year 25 and Beyond.
Tom Hall & Susan Haywood
One more thing: Please let your family, friends, and neighbors know about us.

Call Tom Hall at 704-619-9643
Holler If You Need Us!

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