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Interview with Carey Holzman
Author: Tim Taylor

Tim interviews Carey Holzman of Computer America

Tell us about the show and how did you get into computers?

Computers were always a hobby since I was in High School. I was going to college to be an Auto Mechanic because at the time there wasn’t Internet – even though I know computers were the future – I couldn’t tell you why. I just knew.

Then computers started to get popular and this was still before the internet. Computers were still my hobby and my goal was still to be an auto mechanic and then they kind of flipped flopped.

Not a Macintosh Fan…

It is what it is and if everyone was using a Mac that is what I would be fixing. There’s not enough Mac’s in the world (or at least my world) to keep me in business. I don’t work on them. I don’t invest on the time to learn how to work on them because it just doesn’t add up.

Mac Users would argue that they never break down…

Of course they break down and get viruses. It just doesn’t appear to happen as often because there is fewer of them. One of the first jobs I had when I was fixing computers was at Best Buy. I was technician and there was a weird situation. I was moving out of the corporate environment into the retail environment which you would think would be a step in the wrong direction, but it was closer to my house and the pay was better. They asked my how long does it take to fix a computer – what is your turn around time? It’s about 24 hours. They laughed – “Oh you are so naïve”, but I actually kept that turn around time for about 90% of the computers that came in. It was the big flag ship store so that why they didn’t think it was going to be possible.

When I was at Best Buy, I saw a lot of Packard Bells get returned and I thought these computers are not very good. The manager showed me the numbers and he said “We are getting as many Packard Bells returned as other brands we are just selling more of them. So I think the situation going back to the Apple - yes they do break you just don’t hear the stories as much because fewer people have them.

Discussion about first computers and Atari.

They were mostly for playing games. I would get in and dissect it. I would sector edit the programmers name to mine: PacMan by Carey Holzman. It was just fun, but it helped me to understand how storage works on a hard drive.

How did you get connected with Computer America?

I was fixing a networking situation at a client of mine and they had a situation where it was Windows 98 – Windows Millennium – Peer to Peer and some of the computer were not seeing each other. I went on to the news groups looking for help and I thought I was getting help from Official Microsoft (Microsoft has this program called MVP which I assumed was the title of a Microsoft employee but I learned that it wasn’t). These people volunteer and help answer questions in forums. They are not paid and most of them are very nice people, but there are a couple of them that think working for free in exchange for a title makes them better than you are. I was a little upset by that and they weren’t able to solve my problem. But I went to the office and I wasn’t going to leave until I figured it out. I made notes for everything I did and got it sorted out. I started hanging around those news groups with those MVP’s waiting for someone to ask the question I had so that I could answer it because they couldn’t and as I was hanging out waiting I started to put together a list of question (a FAQ) of Peer to Peer networking (Windows 98 – Windows Millennium). Then I just started answering all of the questions and started upsetting the MVP’s because I would get to it before they would. They guy was writing a book and he asked me if he could include that in the appendix and I said sure. He need me to work with the publisher on it to get it cleaned up.

He got me in touch with the publisher. I worked with the publisher. He asked me what I do and I explained how I work on computers (I build them, I repair them, I maintain them) basically hardware and computer operating systems. And he asked “If we had a project in the future would you be interested?” I said yes please call me and I didn’t think anything of it.

They ended up calling me and ask me if I wanted to the a technical editor on this book that was coming out on maintaining a PC. I started reading the chapters and thought they were completely off base. I thought I am no writer, but I can do better than this guy is doing and told the publisher I didn’t want to be associated with the book – I found it embarrassing. The publisher asked if I could make it better and I said yes and they said OK you be the author and the author will be your technical editor. About 9 months later I had the book done and me and the original author we get along just fine. The book got published called “The Healthy PC”. I was basically writing a book that was like a cook book. It didn’t get into all of the technical details that most computer books do. Working as a computer technician I would have customers tell me all the time “You are a nice guy I like you but can you recommend a book so I don’t have to see you anymore”. It cost me money every time and please don’t recommend the “for dummies” books I don’t understand those. Why should you insult the reader?

So why can’t somebody write a book that I can hand to my mother and I did it myself and the became “The Healthy PC”.

How did you get on Computer America?

Well they published the book, but they didn’t do anything to promote it. So I had this great book, but nobody knew it existed. So I went out on a book tour around to all of the computer clubs – California, Arizona and Nevada. When I was in Nevada there was a group called the Association of Personal Computer User Groups. They meet every year in Vegas before CES and representatives from all over the world and I thought I could provide a DVD because I couldn’t afford to fly all over the world to promote a book I only make $3 on. At one of the shows I meet someone that introduced me to Craig and I have been on the air with him for 3 years.

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