My Desk Isn't Camo

Father, Husband, Yooper, Hunter, Packer Fan, Sports Memorabilia Collector, Digital Marketing & IT Strategist

March 4, 2015
by Bryan

What Your Parents Really Need to Know About The Digital Age

In this digital age, some of the most common concepts about protecting your data and using the internet are not always a priority for less savvy folks who may not have grown up with all the technology we have today. I see two issues on a regular basis.

Issue #1:  Virus Checking

For some reason, when my parents are using the internet, there seems to be no fear.  No fear of viruses, no fear of malware, no fear of any potential vulnerabilities.  I can’t count how many times my virus checking software has blocked intrusions or malware.  I also can’t image how many times my parent’s computers have become infected.

Maybe the lack of fear comes from the lack of understanding about how much can be stolen from you from your computer.

You absolutely need to convince your parents to purchase virus checking software.  I use Norton Internet Security, which is less than $100 and offers automatic updates and real-time protection.

Issue #2:  Data Backup

Back in our parent’s day, pictures were hard copies based on developed film (imagine that).  Today, people aren’t storing hard copies of pictures.  We are storing digital copies, not only of pictures, but of home videos, and just about everything else.  As we’ve evolved, we’ve needed to come up with new methods to protect our data.

How do you protect these assets?

Our parents need to know that it’s generally a bad idea to store your digital media on your computer hard drive.  All too many times, we’ve lost data because of corrupt operating systems (see the issue #1 above) or hard drive failures.  With these failures or corrupt systems, your digital media disappears.

It’s also a bad idea to store your pictures and media on external thumb drives.  It becomes impossible to manage these drives and they typically do not give you enough space.

External hard drives have become an easy to use solution that our parents need to be educated on.  Purchasing a 2-3GB USB external hard drive to store this information is an easy approach.  In my case, I have multiple external hard drives (I have a ton of data).  I also run a second backup on occasion and store that external hard drive in my vehicle.  I use a backup program called SyncToy, which allows you to automatically sync two locations.

A better option is cloud storage. For less than $100 a year, I use a service called CrashPlan that copies your digital assets and stores them in the cloud. There is no limit to what you can store and the backups happen automatically with minimal interaction.

Educating our parents about the importance of security and data retention not only makes their life easier, but it also makes our lives easier!

November 14, 2014
by Bryan
1 Comment

Fun Antler Mount Project

After my Papa passed away, I acquired quite a few of his old antler mounts. These were special because I remember them hanging on the wall at his cabin when I was a kid. These racks ranged from the early 70’s through the early 80’s.

Over the past few years, I have displayed them in various ways but I thought it was time to clean these up and do something new.

Recently, I saw how someone had mounted antlers to old slabs of barn wood. I figured I’d give it a try. The first step was finding some barn wood. I was lucky enough to find an impressive store near McHenry, IL that offered all types of old barn wood. I picked up two pieces for less than 15$.

The first step was to remove all the old antlers from their mounts.


The second step was to screw each of the racks to the barn wood.


After each rack was attached to the wood, I formed a paper mache mold around the skull base of each rack.



After the paper mache dried, I began to re-apply the deer hide cover and trim decorations around the antlers and barn wood.


The final results!


What made this a fun project was realizing that the rack that I hung at the top (pictured above) was from 1974. Here is the picture with him with the deer!

dec 1974

November 7, 2014
by Bryan

Transforming the Office into the Hall of Memorabilia

Say what you want. I like memorabilia and I like having my own little hidden office. My goal was to transform it into the ‘Hall of Memorabilia’.

Here is the journey.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

August 21, 2014
by Bryan

A Day with Thomas

Our second Day With Thomas event took place this past Saturday at the Union Train Museum in Union, IL. The kids were excited for nearly a week and this quite possibly could have been the most fun they have had to date. Getting showered with black soot from an old locomotive didn’t slow us down!



April 14, 2014
by Bryan

The New Playset

The playset is complete! With my good friend, Billy, dedicating a Saturday to help, we’ve completed the project and the kids love it! Take a look at the photos or watch the time lapse video.

March 10, 2014
by Bryan

Build the Model Train Table

It’s official. Andrew has me hooked on trains. There is nothing better than seeing his reaction to trains, whether they are model trains or full size trains. Here is my journey to build a 6’x6′ model train table for the kids!

February 12, 2014
by Bryan

S**t People Ask About Twins

Parents of twins are the only people who truely understand how perfect this video is. The comments people make and the s**t they ask is amazing. Most of the time, they don’t realize that many of the questions are complete inappropriate.

Some favorites include:
“Do twins run in your family?” Yes, They run all over the place.
“My kids are a year apart. I think that’s harder then twins” – Try lugging two infant car seats anywhere. Better yet, come by our house at dinner time.

January 30, 2014
by Bryan

Hunting With the GoPro Hero 2

I know.  I know..  I am bit behind with the GoPro Hero.  They’ve launched the GoPro Hero 3, but I can’t quite justify it yet.  Besides, I have the Hero 2.

After several attempts of trying to record my hunting trips, I finally have some successes.

January 22, 2014
by Bryan

An Example of Comcast’s Terrible Customer Service

I pulled out this letter that I wrote to Comcast customer service from 2010 because of their crappy service.  We moved to AT&T for U-Verse and while their customer service isn’t the best, it is leaps and bounds ahead of Comcast.  Oh, I never did hear anything back.  Enjoy!


To whom it may concern,

I have been a loyal customer for nearly 10 years, but I have recently been a victim of some of the worst customer service I have ever seen.  How your company stands behind your poor customer service and is still able to keep your company surviving blows my mind.

Your service is sub-par for the amount we pay.  On top of that, I have to spend countless hours trying to bring technicians to fix issues.  To make matters even worse, I hear a different story each time I reach a so-called customer service agent.

Below is a history of the ongoing trouble I have had with Comcast, your customer service, phone agents, and technicians.  If you put yourself in my shoes, what would you do?

Feb 2010 – moved to new house / had Comcast set up.  Everything appears to be in order.

Mid Feb 2010 – DVR box not functioning properly / calls to Comcast indicate that a new box is needed.  Service scheduled to replace the box.  Of course, I have to take time off work to make myself available between the hours of 12-5, even though your faulty equipment caused the problem.

During the day of the technician visit, I realize the appointment was cancelled.  Why, do you ask?  Because an outage was reported in my area.  I was informed that ALL appointments in the area are cancelled when this happens, regardless of if it is not related to an outage.  No communication was sent to me via email or phone.

Mar 2010 – numerous calls/chats with service to understand what I would need to run cable to laptop.  I eventually gave up because I heard something different from each person I talked to.  All I wanted was to use a cable card instead of renting yet another cable box.

May 2010 – Our service was shut off after not receiving a bill for several months.  No reason given as to why we have not received a bill.  I have no guarantee that I will even receive bills going forward.  The customer service person also wanted to charge me for processing the credit card over the phone.

June 5, 2010 – The DVR box reboots itself and starts beeping.  Comcast customer service is again called and the agent attempts to send signals to fix the box.  The box continues to beep so agent indicates the earliest they can come to resolve the box is Wednesday, June 9th or I can bring the box to the local Comcast billing center to replace it.  At this point, only the DVR box is unavailable, as the digital cable in other rooms appears to be working fine.  I plan to bypass the service appointment and use my time and fuel to replace the DVR box.

June 5, 2010 –An hour later, the entire digital cable is now unavailable.  I again call Comcast Customer Service and they indicate they cannot fix over the phone, but they can send a technician  June 6th between 7:30am and 10:30am (the following morning).  They will also replace the faulty DVR box at this time.  Why the previous agent could not schedule this remains unknown.  At this point, I am still optimistic and hope the issue can be resolved.

June 6th, 2010 9:30am – Dispatcher calls and leaves a message on voicemail indicating that the appointment has been cancelled due to no ability to access equipment.  I was home the entire time.  Nobody arrived.  It was never mentioned that they were calling to confirm, nor did a technician stop by my house.

June 6th, 2010 10:00am – Call to re-schedule for same day.  At this point, I am completely irate but I stay calm with the customer service agent.  The agent indicates that a technician can come between 10-12am.  If nobody arrives, I was instructed to call back immediately and we would be credited.

June 6th, 2010 10:18am  – Email arrives at 10:18am indicating that my appointment had been rescheduled for 12-3.  Meanwhile, no technician arrives by 12pm.  No credits applied.

June 6th, 2010 10:20am – Email arrives at 10:20am indicating that my appointment had been rescheduled for 1-4 on 6/9/2010.  No calls from Comcast to confirm.  I am completely confused and beyond angry at this point.

If you are keeping track, I now have to look out my window, keep my phone near me, and keep my computer and email in front of me to keep track of what is going on.

June 6th, 2010 11:30am – attempt to chat with online support person at Comcast with the following transcript.  On a side note, Carolyn is my wife and the cable is in her name.

Poferio > Hello Carolyn_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Poferio. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Poferio > It’s great to have your here in chat support, how are you doing today?

Poferio > As I can see here, you have concern about your appointment, is this correct?

Carolyn_ > i need to know when someone is going to show up today..  nobody has called and i get emails about different appointment timeframes..  I am about 2 seconds from dropping you guys if this isnt resolved today.

Poferio > I am sorry Carolyn.

Poferio > Before going any further, may I please have the account number?

Carolyn_ > i’ve had problem after problem with you guys

Carolyn_ > and terrible communication

Carolyn_ > i dont have that with me

Carolyn_ > i have my phone #

Carolyn_ >

Poferio > That will do just fine Carolyn.

Poferio > What is the contact number associated to your account?

Carolyn_ > that is the #

Poferio > Thank you.

Poferio > Please give me 2-3 minutes while I pull up the account.

While pulling up your account, I would like to inform you that has an extensive series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that cover all of our products. Customers do not have to sign in to access the FAQs. Quick steps to do it…Open a web browser window and go to On the home page, the navigation menus are on the left side of the window and click on Customers then Help and Support.

Carolyn_ > it was 7-10..  nobody showed

Carolyn_ > they cancelled

Carolyn_ > then 10-12…  nobody has called

Carolyn_ > i get an email

Carolyn_ > that says sorry, its 12;-3

Carolyn_ > then i get another email that says..  sorry, its 1-4

Carolyn_ > i mean, are you guys kidding me?

Carolyn_ > then a few weeks ago, the service is shut off because we havent received a bill

Carolyn_ > the other day, the DVR is beeping…  then the cable stops working

Carolyn_ > and this is the 3rd DVR box since Feb that we will need

Carolyn_ > and you are multi-tasking with other customers

Carolyn_ > which is wonderful

Poferio > Analyst has closed chat and left the room

If you cannot tell, your customer service agent who I was chatting with hung up.  Either they didn’t want to deal with a pissed off customer or they had a ‘technical issue’.

June 6th, 2010 12:45pm – I call Comcast to find out what is going on.  The agent indicates that she ‘guarantees’ that they will arrive between 10-2.  She laughs at the fact that I didn’t have my phone on me when the original appointment was cancelled.   She is complete confused at all the re-schedules herself.  She offers me a $25 ‘guarantee’ or some sort.  I record this conversation so I can listen to it over and over again.

June 6th, 2010 1:45pm – I call Comcast again to find out the status after RECEIVING YET ANOTHER EMAIL at 12:17pm stating that my appointment has been rescheduled for 6/9 from 1-4pm.  Agent indicates that appointment has been rescheduled.  Again, there has been no confirmation call from Comcast.  I escalate the call and the agent’s boss indicates that Comcast has dropped the ball, but they will not be able to repair our cable today.  He will call back.  So much for the guarantee.

June 7th, 2010 – no cable / no call back / no idea what is going on.  Meanwhile, I supposedly have an appointment for 6/9 that I did not schedule and I am not available for.

June 8th, 2010 – At this point, I have had enough.  My wife calls to cancel our service.  In the process of being on hold, your automated process ended up hanging up on us.  When able to get through a second time, your customer service indicates that two different technicians need to come out – one to pick up the equipment and one to ‘shut off the cable’ (absolutely ridiculous).  My wife schedules these appointments for 6/10.

June 9th, 2010 – For fear that Comcast will, yet again, screw up and disconnect our new service (yes, at this point, we have started a service with AT&T U-Verse), we set a new appointment for 6/12 between 7:30 and 10:30am.  This way, we plan to be home for this process to unfold.

June 10th, 2010 – Comcast calls to confirm the appointment for June 10th.  No surprises here.  After this call, we get an email stating that our appointment is on 6/12 from 7:30 to 10:30.

June 12th, 2010 – Nobody arrives between 7:30 and 10:30 to pick up the Comcast equipment, even though we supposedly had a scheduled appointment.

June 17th, 2010 – No calls and no inquiries about the equipment that was never picked up.

To summarize, in less than 4 months, I will have gone through 3 DVR boxes with service interrupted several times.  I have endured terrible customer service, cancelled appointments, and faulty service.  I have spent countless hours sitting on the phone with Comcast customer service, in chat rooms with Comcast customer service, resetting DVR’s, etc.

As of now, I still have the Comcast equipment.

My favorite parts about your service are:

1)       When service is interrupted, I am offered a refund for that day (sometimes).  Thank you so much for the $3.00 back.  What about my time and energy?  Maybe you should consider refunding an entire week or month when your service or equipment is at fault.  Maybe you should refund me my salary for the 5 hours I had to wait?  I bet you would work much harder with your customer service and services offered.

2)      When I have to leave work and spend time waiting for your technicians, I thoroughly enjoy the 5 hour window that your technician may or may not show up in.

3)      I also enjoy the fact that it is never communicated to me that I MUST answer my phone when a technician is arriving.  If I do not, they cancel the appointment.  I don’t know about most people, but when I make an appointment, I actually plan to keep it or notify the other party that I must reschedule.

4)      It is most enjoyable to have appointments cancelled without a proper form of communication, such as a phone call.  Instead, I have to play the guessing game as to whether I get an email, a phone call, or nothing at all.

If you are interesting in reviewing the information associated with this account, it is under Carolyn Spigarelli at ————–.  If the trend above is any indication, I doubt you will be able to find the account or pull up this information.

Thank you,

Bryan McGraw

January 14, 2014
by Bryan

PlastiDip – The Greatest Product On Earth

Plasti Dip.  Remember that name.  It’s one of the coolest products I’ve seen in a while.  It’s so cool that even their website bills it as “..the single finest creation in the history of mankind.”


In a nutshell, Plasti Dip is a spray-on rubberized coating that can easily be pealed off with little effort.

There are entire groups of people dedicated to this product on the internet.  People spray their entire vehicles, and it looks pretty sharp.  After reading quite a few reviews and watching videos on the web, I decided to give it a try on my truck.

Plasti Dip gave me a great way to find out how black rims would look on my truck with my offroad tires.  The best part was that it was only going to cost me about $10 and I could easily take it off.  The results are below:

My first trial attempt stayed on my rims for 2 months during the summer.  My second attempt has been on my rims from July and has already survived the -20 degree weather of Chicago’s January.  I’ve also ‘dipped’ my back chrome bumper and the Chevrolet bowtie on the front of the truck.

This product gets 5 stars!  What have you used Plasti Dip on?