Sunday, November 6, 2011

Customer Service Chronicles Volume I- StarSucks or STARbucks?

I'm obsessed with customer service. I mean, I think we all have a basic expectation to be treated fairly and with a modicum of kindness and at the very least- competence. But me? My expectations go way beyond that. I want those things, yes- at a minimum, but mostly, I want those whom I support financially and with respect to be reciprocal and honor their word. If I walk in with a smile- I want one back. If I look you in the eye- dammit- look at me! And the worst, the absolute worst, is when people don't listen to me... Or rush me.

I go to Starbucks on a daily basis. I have a gold card, and average about $50/week easy at their "cafes". Outside of one location (I'll get to them in a moment), if I ask for the baristas to add cream to my coffee- most will tell me that "there is cream over there" and point to their condiments area. I want to say "Really? Oh, thank you SO much for telling me that. I didn't know you offered self service cream you SOB". Am I supposed to disregard that one of the primary commitments this company makes is to fix your f-ing coffee the way you ask them to fix it? Or that 9 times out of 10 when I don't bother making the request or do sludge over to the condiment counter that THE CREAM CARAFE IS EMPTY?!?

At the start of my day, to go somewhere and have someone not "get it right" simply because of laziness or because they don't care just throws me way off. I literally have to reboot once I leave.

The best Starbucks in the city (Chicago) is 100 S Halsted (at Monroe). The staff are courteous, friendly, and consistently go above and beyond to make customers feel great. One day, I'm going to go Oprah on them and bring gifts for all the staff!

If you have a favorite Starbucks, please share in the comments section. If you have had similar experiences or just want to talk customer service visit me here or on twitter: @techmommi. In addition to being a business owner, service provider, mom, et al.- I am a Customer Service Connoisseur.

Welcome to yet another layer of my life-


Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday 2010 Kid Tech Picks!

Top Tech for Kids 2010


You can build an actual computer that is child friendly by purchasing a standard machine, the myPC Stage I Keyboard™ (, and a nice sized monitor.

The machine should be web enabled, have a fast processor and great graphics capability. The younger child will likely be utilizing child software and be on the web- so it will be a good idea to install a program on the machine that will allow you to monitor and/or restrict their usage. There are plenty of programs like this on the market, but one of the best known is Net Nanny ( ~$40). You can also create a custom desktop at

2) Disney’s Netpal is a parents best choice for the older child (ages 6+)- and it has the parental control features built in ( it retails for ~$350. You can also create a custom desktop at

3) Fisher Price released their Computer Cool School Keyboard ( in 2009, that actually plugs into your computer and comes with a software program that allows the child to learn and play without concern of them leaving the program- for this, you will have to purchase additional titles for them to continue playing in the Cool School environment.

NOTE: There are plenty of “laptops” for kids that are purely toys- with small dot matrix screens and set content. My child bores with these easily. There is so much free, educational content online now- and they want to do what mommy and daddy are doing!

4) iPhones and iPads are also kid grabbers- there are THOUSANDS of applications for kids. However, this is a pricey and slightly non-child friendly investment overall. Fisher Price, Leapfrog and VTech have all produced toy “handhelds” for children- but they have a short half-life as the child quickly realizes that it really is not like their parents’.

5) vTech has come out with a really great eReader this year, called the V-reader, it is perfect for new readers and is just similar enough to mom’s Kindle that they will hold on to it. I would definitely call this a hot tech pick for kids this year.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why I Won't Let My Daughter Play With My iPhone 4

OK, so I got the new iphone last week. I was so excited for it to come- I had not upgraded to 3GS and it has been 2 years of waiting! When it first arrived, I took it out of the packaging and it felt like a balloon deflated within me. The phone seemed so cold, heavy, and fragile. I didn't feel comfortable handling it. My daughter, who is six, and is used to playing with my phone reached out for it... I quickly put it in the box and told her it was off limits.

Lets see, I have over 100 children's applications/games for the iphone- my daughter could not understand why she couldn't play on the new phone. I could not understand why I was no longer excited to play with the new phone. The next day, I loaded and synced the phone. I looked online and read several articles on "why NOT to buy iphone 4". I just wanted to be excited about it! Instead, I pondered its return. Finally, I reserved myself to giving it another chance- a 2nd chance at a 1st impression with me.

After everything was loaded on, I activated it and started using it. The more I used it, the more satisfied I became with it. I still felt uncomfortable throwing it in my purse, and I was UBER careful when using it, but its getting better. I ordered cool new cases, removed lots of the games and set it up just for me. My daughter was heartbroken when she saw me deleting her games. I assured her that it would be okay, and it was. She was OVER THE MOON with excitement when I gifted her my iphone 3G. People talk about Suri Cruise being spoiled... they never met my baby girl:). Now, I am guaranteed a phone back up (God forbid if anything happens to my iPhone 4), and my little one would have her games and wifi! Perfect, right?

You always want what you cant have... I've caught Marianna sneaking to play on the new phone several times. I had to finally explain to her why I would not let her play with my phone:

1) the new glass casing is not child friendly. Not that the old one was either, but it seems less fragile. This thing feels like I'm holding a glass holy grail- and Gizmodo's photo of what happened when one of their folks dropped the iPhone 4 is traumatizing ( Until I get a case, and NO, a bumper won't suffice; I am on high alert.

2) a child WILL break this phone (oh, I just said that); moving on.

3) Mommy deserves something that is JUST mommy's. I haven't used the restroom by myself in almost seven years... Can't I have my own phone?!?

5) If you are like me, let the youngun' have your old phone, or buy them a myPC Keyboard (shameless plug) so that they feel ownership over their OWN technology.

6) The touchscreen is so sensitive, she will end up calling someone I dont want to speak with- It has happened several times over the last few days with me... I can only imagine what will happen with a six year old.

She may be angry now, but it's ok, one day she will understand. She knows I love her and she loves me. See?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Let's Catch Up: Product2Mkt, KidTech, Recommendations, Coupon and More!

I'm Bacccckkkkkkk-

Its been a while since I have blogged. So much has been going on- forgive me. A lot has happened in the past six months since 2010 began: We have the iPad now- which has spurred discussions about children and touch screen technology; a new iphone is being released (hurry up and get here!); there are new tech toys to talk about (Vtech, Fisher Price). One bit of good news that is happening at TTS with our Stage I Keyboard is that we are being carried and distributed by Ingram Micro- not an easy feat, but one that I take much pride in. We are also going to be popping up in some Big Box Online storefronts by holiday. This is indeed an exciting time. The 2nd generation keyboard, along with the new MyTechStart website have both been very well received.

The whole process of bringing your product to market is more involved than any book could ever even try to explain. Inventor beware! I'm not saying not to pursue, develop, or go through the motions to launch products- just be prepared for anything. The old adages of our time are extremely relevent: "follow your gut", "all that glitters isnt gold"... Yeah, all those- keep 'em close. For example, it was always a dream of mine to get myPC(tm) products into Tarpet and Wal-Hart stores- I'm not talking online, I mean in the brick and morter stores. However, the more I learn about the process and risks that getting "In" entail, the less I am convinced they are the place for a small, non-VC backed venture. I have heard more than one horror story from too many unrelated people that end up with the small business going OUT of business from playing with the big dogs. Don't get me wrong- if the deal is right and doable then I would never advise, nor would I, turn down a big box retailer. TTS and I have both proved extremely resilient over the past four years- the fact that we are still in business is testiment to that; but, I am not going to play Russian Roulette either...

In the meantime, we have been working with some really awesome vendors. Be sure to check them out: >>> Mama Bargains is a pioneer in the deal-a-day world for moms. They feature high end, awesome, must-have products for 50% or MORE off!! Please check them out. >>> Need special peripherals? They have them! Great prices, too. and >>> They have carried us for a long time now- great people to do business with! >>>A deal-a-day site for moms, too. Great people behind the scenes!! Get a deal before its gone!

OK, back to the start of the post. I mentioned that the iPad has sparked anewed discussion about children and technology. Though I think it is a GREAT tool for learning- especially for children with special needs (, I still believe that there is a huge value in traditional computing (monitor, keyboard, mouse). The iPad is an adult toy to me, and, unless I were abundantly wealthy, something I would not buy for my six year old. It took years for SmartBoards/ White Boards to make it into the classroom! While touchscreen technology will likely become more and more prevalent in our society, we are a ways away from it being the norm for our kids- especially where education is concerned. Unfortunately, the tech items that are being marketed and sold to the masses (for tots, kids) dont provide the tech foundation young children need. It comes close, but always seems to miss the mark- probably because a) they are made by toy makers, b) the people manufacturing them are more focused on the number of products they have than the accuracy of the design of their devices. I would much rather let my daughter play on, or play a game on MY iPhone than purchase an oversized handheld toy with $25 per item content. I'm just saying...

Well, my ADD has taken over once again. But you knew what you were getting when you linked in to read this:). That's why my blog is called "Ramblings..." More soon. Check out our new site,, send in your photos, and let me know your thoughts.

Until then-

ps. here's a 40% off coupon for your time:) Use Code: MYPCBLOG. Thanks!

pps. Here's our Photo of the Month>> One of my faves because it's my goddaughter, Jovie using her myPC!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What a Year...

I have been writing blogs in my head for several weeks now, but havent had a chance to put pen to paper- or fingers to keys:). I was doing some work online and happened across a blog post by the Frugal Millionairess ( that referenced the article about me in October's issue of Forbes- Inspirational Entrepreneurs. Apparently I am one; and as such, bear and embrace the responsibility to insire, support and give to others. Hence my post.

Last weekend, I was honored to donate keyboards to an organization called Variety, a children's charity ( They do wonderful things for children in need. It was a wonderful moment.

This blog has been so many things- a vehicle of sharing about my journey, a source of information and more. Sometimes, I want to review children's technology products and reinforce how myPC is superior to them in so many ways. Other times, I want to rant and vent about the frustrations of being an entrepreneur or cheer about the joys. Most times, I just yearn for the time to sit down and communicate with you. I mean, we released a 2nd generation enhanced Stage I myPC keyboard and I HAVEN'T HAD A CHANCE TO EVEN TELL YOU ABOUT IT!! Case in point;)- this is what happens when you dont have a PR budget, lol.

In the words of the Frugal Millionairess: "...And so I remind myself Elizabeth Tarpley didn't start out seeing her company's goods at the stores she shopped in, nor did Martha Stewart or anyone else. I'm going to guess there were some business plans along the way that needed some serious refining, but the thing is they hunkered down and kept at it."

Yes, Eileen- I hunkered...and hunkered...and hunkered. I am still hunkering. But I guess that's the moral of the story after all, isn't it?

I look forward to the new year that is upon us and despite the highs and the lows, am grateful for the year which has passed.

Today, I just want to say thank you to all of those who have supported TTS and myPC- from our staff to the bloggers, our awesome UIC grad students, our customers, and the believers. Sometimes life works in an odd way- because it is really all of you that inspire me- that keeps this wheel churning and that leave me NO choice but to fight for my dreams.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year, my friends. There is so much more to come from me, myPC, and Targeted Technology Solutions...
Look out world!

Friday, October 2, 2009

KIDO'Z and myPC make Computing as easy as 1, 2, 3

Tel Aviv, Israel Oct 1, 2009 – Targeted Technology Solutions, LLC’s myPC™ and KIDO'Z are proud to announce the birth of their brand-new Toddler Computing Solution.

The two companies are bringing their complementary technologies and expertise together to make the computing experience even safer, more educational and more interactive for toddlers.
Based on the agreement, myPC Stage One Keyboards will be marketed and packaged with the KIDO'Z software. Parents will simply need to install/download KIDO'Z, complete the easy registration, and start using the application.

The value-add is that end-users can now enjoy the benefit of a total 'toddler-friendly' solution from both a hardware and software perspective without needing to search for additional tools.
"KIDO'Z and myPC individually are all about making the computer and the Internet more kid-friendly, fun and educational for kids in the safest possible way, so we are very excited for what this partnership will bring to kids and their parents. We are thrilled to be partnering with myPC in this venture." - Gai Havkin, CEO, KIDO'Z

The KIDO'Z Kids Web Environment brings the Internet to kids in a safe, fun and kid-friendly way. The graphical user interface is designed for kids as young as 2 years old, and content can be personalized according to age group, among other variables. What this means is that even toddlers can surf websites, watch videos, and play games independently and safely. Kids are kept safe in the KIDO'Z environment and cannot exit the application without parental permission.

The myPC Stage One Keyboard is a personalized computer keyboard and ergonomic mouse system designed especially for toddlers' learning styles and lifestyles. Practically indestructible and with colorful 'key' features designed especially for ages 2 and up, kids and parents alike will love this toddler-friendly computing experience.

As toddlers are naturally exuberant and inquisitive (and seem to have a knack for technology), the fact that the computer will be protected both inside and out will make this solution even more desirable to parents. Sticky fingers, files deleted, accidental spills, and settings changed are all a worry of the past.

Kids will love being able to do 'just what mommy and daddy do' on the computer but with their very own hardware and software tools and content.

“We are so excited to bring together the myPC Stage I Keyboard with KIDO’Z! It is a perfect marriage of hardware and software that will enhance children’s entire technology introduction and experience. We are confident that children and parents alike will appreciate all of the new features and benefits that this partnership affords them.” - Elizabeth Tarpley, CEO, Targeted Technology Solutions, LLC.

About KIDO'Z

The KIDO’Z Kid's Web Environment is developed by KIDO'Z Ltd, a Tel-Aviv based company managed by parents and top industry professionals.
KIDO'Z is the first international Web Operating System for young kids between the ages of 2-8 years old, which allows young children to safely and independently browse the web, play games, watch Youtube videos, and interact with friends in a safe, protected environment. The user interface is kid-friendly and graphical in nature, and as such, is optimized for fun and independent navigation. Parents remain in control through the password-protected Parental Control Account, where they can add content, block content, adjust security settings and more.
KIDO’Z is available in 17 languages with content added in over 30 languages, making it a truly global solution. KIDO'Z is PC, Mac and Linux compatible and is available as a free download from

About Targeted Technology Solutions, LLC

The award-winning myPC Stage One Keyboard and mouse is a product of Targeted Technology Solutions, LLC, which was started and is managed by a mother and industry expert.The keyboard is sealed, spill-proof, and even washable, with jumbo keys designed for toddlers as young as 2 years old. It is also color-coded for ease of learning and comes with a kid-friendly ergonomic mouse. myPC is Plug-and-Play and is Windows and Mac compatible.myPC is currently available for purchase through multiple distribution channels as well as direct from

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The COO Speaks... Words of Wisdom

I am Barry Miller, Liz’s business partner at TTS. I have done many things during my 30+ year professional life. I have practiced law, started businesses, financed businesses, enjoyed much success and suffered my fair share of failures. It seems that in every venture one reaches a critical point – a “tipping point” where the future of your venture hangs in the balance.

At TTS we reached that point over a year ago. Things were really tough, our existence in serious doubt.

I felt it was essential to express some thoughts to my dear friend and partner, Elizabeth Tarpley. Here's what I wrote:

“I am not prepared to fail. I just cannot accept failure as an option. We are winners; each any every one of us knows how to win, and has won. And sometimes you don't appreciate the opportunity to win, unless you have lost. And each of us has lost, too. So let's just get to it and allow us to win. Among folks who have had the collective experiences of our team, it is often not the fear of failure that holds us back; it's the fear of winning. Why? Winning requires so much more than losing. It requires us to come square up with ourselves and say, "I am worthy of success. I have earned this." And then you have to do it every day, in every way. With diligence, honesty, integrity, faith and love- we can win and not feel guilty about it.

We can do this, E. I know we can.”

We got through our crisis, and have never looked back. Perhaps these thoughts will strike a chord with you. If they help you in any small way I will be gratified.