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Rick Archer, March 2006

Back in early 1997, Gary and Betty Richardson started taking Western dance classes here at the studio. Gary wasn't a natural and he wasn't even sure he liked dancing. Drawing on some natural tenacity he stuck with it. Pretty soon he started to get the hang of Twostep and Western Swing and began to enjoy his classes more.

Due to a similarity in age, Gary and I struck up a friendship. Once I found out he owned a computer store, I wound up asking him questions about computers each time I saw him in class. As I got to know Gary, he told me of the many things a computer could do to help me in my business.

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 new computer.

Finally I figured I was ready. I bravely decided to take my computer home.

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 was.

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 questions!

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 Newsletter.
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.

100 SSQQ Computers

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,
any 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 accurate.

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 self-esteem.

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.


Date: 02/23/05 12:58:38
Subject: Help!

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

-----Original Message-----
From: TFW Computers
ent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 1:10 PM
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 it may be just a bad power supply.  Gary.

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?  Thanks, Ann

-----Original Message-----
From: TFW Computers
Sent: Wednesday, February 23, 2005 1:33 PM
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?

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 charge...courtesy.)

Follow-up Letter 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 recommendation. 

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.

Ann Faget


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.

Rob Abbott


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.

Michael Bunch


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, etc!

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:)

Maureen Brunetti


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 


“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!

Bruce Bain


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 any cost.

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 scanner.

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.

 Charles Underhill


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.

Randal Rockett


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.

Hank Wenzler


My friend 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 pros.

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 help out.

Grant Smith
Bay City, Texas

posted 11-12-99

The Floppy Wizard Computer Store Moves to a New Location

After 17 years, Gary Richardson and his wife Betty have decided to leave the Memorial City Mall for a new location at 2551 North Gessner, about 3 miles from their old location. As I write this article, the store is being moved.

Many of you know Gary and Betty as the Midnight Waltzers every Friday or you may know them from Death Valley classes or possibly the Martian Whip classes. Gary and Betty have taken classes at SSQQ for three years. What you might not know is that Gary has sold 17 computers to SSQQ staff and students including SSQQ Staffers such as Daryl and Joanne Armstrong, Linda Cook, and Maureen Brunetti. That is a lot of computers !!

In fact, more than any other person, Gary Richardson has been instrumental at keeping SSQQ at the very forefront of computer technology. You see, Gary taught me practically everything I know about computers. He taught me how to use email. Now I receive and send 50 emails a day. He taught me how to scan pictures and post them on the web. All those Halloween pictures you see are the result of training that Gary gave to me in a program called "Paint Shop Pro" plus a Sony Digital Camera he showed me how to use.

Do you like the SSQQ Party Posters and those crazy syllabuses that no one can understand ?  Gary taught me how to use "Microsoft Publisher" to create those posters and syllabi. It isn't his fault no one can understand them. 

Gary taught me how to create music CDs before this was a common-place practice using "Adaptec Spin Doctor" and "CD Creator". He taught me how to amplify music, change its speed, and edit the length of a song using "Cool Edit Pro". Gary sold me the technology that helped create the SSQQ Web Site using "Front Page". Our web site is critical to our success. It now averages nearly a hundred visitors a day.

And sometime in year 2000 Gary will probably teach me how to convert our entire DJ system over to the use of computers and MPEG technology as well. In all, I have bought 3 computers from Gary and I will likely buy a fourth in year 2000 so Judy and Sam will have an upgrade.

Back in the fall of 1997, as I got to know Gary, he told me of the many things a computer could do to help me in my business. The only problem was that I didn't have a clue how to operate a modern computer. Gary felt sorry for me and said he would help me get started. With that encouragement, I went ahead and took the plunge. Every day for practically the entire month of November, 1997, I would drive over to the Floppy Wizard and hang out for a couple of hours. When Gary had a free moment he would help me himself or assign one of his assistants Tim and Rick to help me. I knew Gary didn't have the time to help everyone like this, but I think he took pity on me. Slowly but surely I developed enough skills to be able to take full advantage of my new computer.

More than anything else what I remember after I took my computer home was the help that Gary would give me 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. Not one time did he ever lose his patience with me. I would never had gotten that kind of help from any other computer store in the city. Gary single-handedly helped take SSQQ to a whole new level of development. This in a nutshell explains why I am so grateful to Gary Richardson.

Now that Gary is moving his store, he has decided to start offering computer training classes. I think this is a great idea. Now SSQQ students who are lost trying to decipher the mysteries of computer software can get some much needed assistance from the experts. If any of you have ever struggled to unlock the secrets of Microsoft Word,  negotiate the treacherous territory of Windows 95/98, or negotiate the unfamiliar territory of Email, here is a great chance to add these highly valuable skills to your bag of tricks. The Computer classes will be held in the evenings at his store from 7-9 pm starting in December.

For more information, you can call Gary at 713-461-8660 or email him at 

In addition to the computer business, I have discovered that Betty Richardson, Gary's lovely wife, has an unusual lifestyle. In her spare time, she is a secret agent. If you don't believe me, read the following story titled Betty the Spy. You will enjoy it !

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