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October 30, 1996

That Thing I Do

Dear Neighbors:

Does anyone else find the Washington Post’s city council endorsements perplexing? The Post recommends that you pull the lever next Tuesday for Harold Brazil, Carol Schwartz, Jack Evans, Charlene Drew Jarvis, and Kevin Chavous, all of whom sit, or have sat, on the council. The editorial staff even went out of their way to praise each candidate. The Post also endorses Sandy Allen for Ward 8. Though she has squabbled with Cora Lady MacBarry (apologies to Mr. Lips—love the concept but can’t remember the name), Allen and husband Bob Bethea were instrumental in returning Barry to the scene of his many crimes.

Here’s the mental disconnect. Usually, the same folks who endorse these candidates treat these folks like used dental floss. The do-nothing council. Another stupid measure by the council. Is Dave Clarke sane? Is Hilda alive? Is Harold that lazy? Where’s Kevin? Jack: a talker, not a doer. The council doesn’t have the guts to stand up to Barry and do the right thing. Granted, this group of losers may be superior to what stands behind door number two, but why the hardy endorsements? You can endorse and diss at the same time. Look at the Post’s "I’m about to hurl" endorsement of Clinton over Dole.

And they never mentioned Ed Barron’s shadow candidacy for office once. Shame.


Why I do the thing I do? Why do I run this newsletter? You’ve asked the question in private correspondence, so I’ll answer the question here. I don’t know. When I sold the Northwest Side Story, I envisioned moving the paper on line. In some ways, I did. Though there was little to achieve on the revenue side, at least the costs are low. Nil, really, unless you count composition time—thus my occasional ruminations about formatting.

There’s lots of upside potential with this newsletter—though I may never live long enough to realize it. But dc.story, with your indulgence, allows me to sell services and promote myself as a writer. So, watch out, here comes the sales pitch.

Many of you soon are going to buy a home computer, probably a pc. Like me last year, you don’t have a clue about what to buy, where to buy, how much to spend, and how to make the whole thing work so you can plan Jimmy’s Bar Mitzvah more easily.

Your options are generally onerous. Paralysis by analysis. Read everything, digest it, visit CompUSA and kick the mouse, and then throw your hands up in the air in frustration. Or you can spend weeks shopping and haggling, get a machine you either didn’t want or don’t know much about. And then spend the next several months on line with tech support. Also, you run the risk of buying a totally incomprehensible machine—like the Pentium my family bought with only 8 megs of ram. That’s like visiting a florist and buying a plant with aphids.

The upside—here comes the pitch—is that it’s easy to buy the computer you want. You can buy the best machines directly from the manufacturer bedecked exactly the way you want them. You can understand everything that you are purchasing and make intelligent tradeoffs. You can have the kit and kaboodle delivered to your home without trekking once to a computer store where the sales reps—as sales reps always do—will steer you to the whatever brand is overstocked.

Finally, you can get the whole shebang for around $2,000, $100 for shipping, and no tax. Printers are extra. The internet will cost you about $20/month for virtually unlimited access. Choosing the right pentium machine, unless you have unusual requirements, is an easy decision—once you break through all the noise. I’ve broken that barrier and can save you lots of time and effort.

Also, most folks new and old to Windows 95 don’t understand how to use it. When automobiles were invented, drivers had to be mechanics as well. Any machine you buy will require some jiggering to get it working properly. I’ve solved most of that problem too—though new ones pop up all the time. Most of the software solutions can be downloaded from the internet. How to find, compare, and configure them? That could take weeks to learn and you’ll risk turning into a geek. Or you hire a geek—me—to do this work for you.

Here’s what I can do for you. Help you buy the right machine for the right price with minimum hassles. Take delivery and set it up—including internet service with full configurations and shareware utilities that Windows 95 doesn’t include but you need (Like free virus protection, zipping software to send files back to work, etc). Teach you how to use the equipment to do what you want. Build simple applications that many people want—like rolodexes, automated to do lists, Jimmy’s Bar Mitzvah mailing, seating arrangements, etc. In fact, you can even learn how to program Access using wizards to do these things. It’s almost easy now. And I can support you as you find more and more things that you want to do—and provide you maintenance and update information by email or, heaven forbid, by telephone.

I charge $60 per hour for this service. If you value your time the way your boss does, I can save you lots of anxiety, grief, despair, and—if you subscribe to—bad movies. I can also save you hundreds of dollars in software purchases by downloading and installing freeware and shareware that are better than the products sold at egghead.

Most importantly, you can quickly begin using your computer rather than spending most of your time figuring out how to use it—or having the kids explain it to you. ("I wonder what this button does---oh no!) And I’ll even constantly nag you to back up your data if you desire.


Email can spread like a virus. You may not need my services, but a friend of a friend may. So please do me a favor and spread this message around. If I can get enough of this type of work, I can afford to maintain my writing habit—and get some return off my dc.story efforts.

Send me a message if you have specific questions. And if you want to chat by phone, send me you number. I’ll get right back to you.

Back to the commercial-free dc.story tomorrow.

Jeffrey Itell

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