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Yes, I do work with computers.

By dead_radish in Op-Ed
Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:25:21 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

Yes, I do work with computers. No, I don't want to look at yours. No, I don't want to hear about what it's doing. No, I don't think I could just take a quick look at it. No, I haven't seen one do that before. No, I don't have one just like it at home.

No, I haven't used Windows ME. Or 2000. No, I don't know if they're worth buying. No, I don't want to discuss the breakup of Microsoft. No, I don't think it will end the world. No, I don't think they were too harsh. No, I don't think that computers will stop working. Yes, I have heard of that RedHat thing. No I don't use windows at work. No, I don't know why your printer is on fire, though I suspect it's from the cigarette. No, I don't want to see your new flight simulator. No, I don't have a computer that can do that. No, I don't want to know what you paid. No, I've never heard of that company. No, I don't think all computers are the same. No, I don't think it's "Just as good." No, I wouldn't recommend that you get that $5 ram. No, I don't have any stock tips. No, I don't use Office at work. No, I don't know the secret commands. No, I don't have any friends at Intel. No, I don't know Bob. No, I don't make that much a year. No, I've never met him. No, I don't think the internet is the cause of evil. No, I think it probably would have happened anyway. No, I don't think it was Doom's fault. No, I don't know where to get that program online. No, I don't have it on CD you can borrow.

No, I don't want to talk to you anymore.


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Related Links
o Also by dead_radish

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Yes, I do work with computers. | 88 comments (80 topical, 8 editorial, 1 hidden)
Bravo! (3.46 / 28) (#7)
by eskimoses on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 02:46:08 PM EST

I've often used the analogy of a dentist: Dentists have spent years learning and refining their skill, as have many of us. Just because they're experts on teeth, however, doesn't mean you ask your dentist-neighbor to brush your teeth for you.

Most of the computer questions I receive are akin to being asked to brush teeth.

Re: Bravo! (2.25 / 12) (#11)
by Whizard on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:33:04 PM EST

If they're anything like the questions I tend to get, you really mean they're akin to being asked to brush somebody else's teeth. :->

So Lawrence Lessig, John Perry Barlow, Rusty, and Prince are having dinner...
[ Parent ]
Re: Bravo! (3.20 / 5) (#25)
by EvilIdler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:17:16 PM EST

A Wobbly-Headed Bob quote feels appropriate here :
"[I feel] like a mighty dentist among the toothless..."

[ Parent ]
Oddly enough (3.28 / 25) (#10)
by ChenKenichi on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:32:29 PM EST

A friend of my wife's family who is a cleaning lady knew I was a "computer guy" and asked me to take a look at her computer. I said to her, if you come over to my house, I don't ask you to clean my sink while you're there, do I? Look of "oh, I never thought of it that way" on her face... By the end of the conversation she'd agreed to clean our bathrooms once every few weeks if I'd fix her computer when it acted up. Sweet deal =). A friend of mine is a car mechanic and gets the same thing. People asking him to do 3 hours of work and then give him a case of beer. "Er, the PARTS cost $200 dude." Sorry, I digress. =)

Re: Oddly enough (2.60 / 5) (#16)
by the coose on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:10:23 PM EST

Try my father, a 68 year old retired minister (yeah, I'm a PK), who asks me the same questions every time I visit. "What exactly do you do with computers?" he asks. "Program them," I say. "What does that mean?" "It means I give it instructions which tells it what to do." "How do you do that?" ...

A few more questions and I'm really annoyed. But I think that's reason he does it - just 'cause he knows it annoys me. God bless 'em...

[ Parent ]
Re: Oddly enough (2.55 / 9) (#23)
by Moebius on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:05:02 PM EST

You're a player killer? What does your dad think about that?

[ Parent ]
Re: Oddly enough (3.00 / 1) (#79)
by Arkady on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:47:44 AM EST

I have a similar disconnect. My mother, all through my youth, was social worker and my father is a rancher. I quite literally _cannot_ explain what I do for a living (and as a hobby, of course ;-) in any meaningful way to either of them, and it's not that they don't try to understand. No matter how hard we try to reach an understanding, it's like there's no shared experience on which to base an understanding.

I wonder if auto mechanic-type folks eighty to a hundred years ago experienced this same disconnection; this inability to explain what they did? Was the gulf between horse and buggy and the auto as great as the gulf between the typewriter and the computer?

They're both quite intelligent and capable of learning new things, they just haven't any experience. Now that my sibs and I have supplied them both with Macs, maybe in a few years I might be able to explain it in a way that they'll get. I certainly hope so.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Re: Oddly enough (3.33 / 3) (#35)
by Hillgiant on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:26:33 PM EST

Cool, a gift economy!
I guess it all comes down to, is your knowledge the result of the job or the hobby. If it is a job, no matter how much you like it, sometimes you just have to get away. If it is a hobby, you cannot wait to get back to it. If it is a job, and you cannot give the `easy' answer you give up, obfuscate, or tell 'em to RTFM. If it is a hobby, you want^H^H^H^Hneed to figure it out yourself. If it is a job you want them to just STFU and go away. If it is a hobby, they would wish you would just STFU.

Guess it is just a matter of prospective.
Will hack hardware for beer!

"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
[ Parent ]

I'm a sucker (2.05 / 18) (#12)
by billnapier on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:52:51 PM EST

Ok. I'll admit it, I'm a sucker and usually can't help myself from helping people with their computer problems. Maybe there is a 12 step program that can help me...

Awesome (1.80 / 15) (#13)
by rednecktek on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 03:58:43 PM EST

:holds lit lighter up:

Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
It's not all that bad... (2.75 / 16) (#14)
by Bloodwine on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:05:02 PM EST

Yes it gets tiring sometimes with all the questions (which are generally stupid) "ooh, you're a computer person? I just bought a computer at Sears and I wondered if you could tell me how to get AOL on it?"

But look at it this way... right now techies are people that many "mere mortals" look up to. It is akin to so-called day traders bumping into someone from Wall Street and picking their brain.

Many times I ask questions which are probably considered stupid to people knowledgable in their particular field, so it is only fair that I receive my fair share of questions. It is only the people who don't try to figure things out for themselves and expect others to hand them solutions on a silver platter that bother me.

Re: It's not all that bad... (3.16 / 6) (#29)
by aphrael on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:39:48 PM EST

Most of the time I think it's not all bad, and i'm usually more than willing to help people *who have problems I know anything about*. But it's frustrating when someone wants me to fix their printer, or find out why their linuxbox can't talk to their refrigerator, or do any of countless other things that i've never done and have no idea how to do --- i'll just have to research the problem to fix it for them, and they are smart enough that they should be able to do that themselves.

Of course, I spent four years doing technical support, so i'm jaded. :)

[ Parent ]
Re: It's not all that bad... (3.80 / 5) (#33)
by itsbruce on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:17:01 PM EST

But look at it this way... right now techies are people that many "mere mortals" look up to.
The fact that people ask you for computing help doesn't necessarily mean they respect you. On the contrary, they can extend their resentment of the technology to cover you as well. After all, many people assume that anyone who works with computers is emotionally defient or culturally ilitterate or "clever but not really intelligent" or all of the above. Someone once flatly refused to believe that I had recognised a piece of music as the William Tell Overture - I work with computers, how could I have any cultural knowledge?


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Re: It's not all that bad... (3.00 / 2) (#53)
by GreenHell on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:17:44 PM EST

The fact that people ask you for computing help doesn't necessarily mean they respect you

How true, how true... Most don't believe you have a social life outside of computers, the same people who make jokes about it are the same people who'll come crawling to you when they can't boot windows/connect to the internet/whatever. Then, if you don't actually know exactly whats wrong with it and how to fix it just from hearing the description of the problem, look out... I had a person get mad at me at my job because I couldn't figure out what was wrong with their printer when they said "It won't print, I just can't get it to work" How the hell can I tell from that whats wrong? Chances are unless its something simple I won't know right away or even at all, and its not even my freaking job to fix those things, I was hired to help design web pages, sheesh...

There, that felt much better...

This .sig was my last best hope to seem eloquent. It failed.
[ Parent ]
Re: It's not all that bad... (3.50 / 2) (#71)
by naasking on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 10:43:07 AM EST

Someone once flatly refused to believe that I had recognised a piece of music as the William Tell Overture - I work with computers, how could I have any cultural knowledge?

lol. Sorry, I'm not laughing at you. Arrogance and ignorance just never cease to amaze and amuse me.

*sigh* Then I just feel sad... :-)

[ Parent ]
Some I ran into moving into college this August... (3.50 / 4) (#34)
by Pakaran on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:22:48 PM EST

  • Why doesn't my mouse work in Telnet?
  • Can you take a registration screen off a game for me?
  • Why isn't my printer working? (was out of paper)
  • When I try to get on Resnet, it's saying there's no dialtone, but the tech support guy hung up when i asked him to turn the Resnet dial tone on!

    And so it goes....

    [ Parent ]

This happens in all professions (3.64 / 17) (#15)
by trust_no_one on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:08:40 PM EST

Doctors and Dentists do get this sort of thing all the time. "I have this pain right here." Tell someone you're a lawyer and they'll be hitting you up for free advice. Another poster mentioned car mechanics being asked to fix friend's cars. Carpet Mechanics, Carpenters, Plumbers, anyone with a useful specialized skill will always be asked for favors.

In a way, this is an extension of the motto "information wants to be free." Or more to the point, people want information to be free. Everyone feels entitled to the knowledge that others have worked hard to acquire. In school, there are always the few that actually did the homework, and the many who just wanted to copy it.

I'm usually willing to spend at least a few minutes taking a look at whatever problem the person is having. If it's going to involve a significant amount of my time or energy, then we'll have to agree on some sort of compensation.

I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused

Re: This happens in all professions (1.00 / 2) (#82)
by csmacd on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 03:03:45 PM EST

Funny incident - I witnessed this happening, a person was introduced to Dr. NameWithheld, and proceeded to ask the Dr. about a pain... Then the Dr. explained that he was a Ph.D, not an MD. :-)

[ Parent ]
Get out of jail free cards.. (3.85 / 21) (#17)
by jwsh on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:21:15 PM EST

Just a random thought, for people who politly want to get out of helping people fix their computers.. Find a local computer shop that does computer service (or maybe a friend who needs some cash) see if they'll work a deal, and give you a bunch of buisness sized 'coupons' for 10% off service/repair work at their shop. When someone asks you for help, just hit 'em with "Sorry, I really don't know much about that kinda stuff. Actually, I usually call these guys when I have problems like that -- they're pretty damn good. Why don't you give 'em a call?" and give them one of the coupons..

just a thought..

Rock on (2.35 / 14) (#18)
by sbeitzel on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:30:25 PM EST

Man. I'm gonna print this out and frame it. Maybe even put it on a T-shirt.

Oh wow... (3.61 / 13) (#19)
by Xavier on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:38:38 PM EST

This is so incredably appropriate. I have been spending the past few days (weeks? something like that) trying to tell this one person whose site I host that I don't want to teach them how to use perl or CGIs. It's not that I mind teaching people about those things, but when I would say "go search google and read whatever you can find on using perl with apache" and would get "just fucking tell me" as a response, I find it hard to comply.

<rant>to him and others like him i shout: I am not the god of everything technical, wishing to bow to your every command. I may know the answer, but why should I spend all my time telling you? I've got better things to do. If you can't respect me as a person who happens to be knowledgable on a subject, not just a complex search engine waiting to answer your every request, then I don't want to talk to you. Do what I did: go learn on your own. </rant>

That said, I've simply stated RTFM enough times that i think he's beging to get the idea. Go, be merry and learn that learning is something you can do on your own.
[this space unintentionally left blank]

How incredibly appropriate (2.78 / 14) (#20)
by electricbarbarella on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:49:42 PM EST

You should put this on a t-shirt and sell it. I'd buy seven, one for every day of the week.

How many visits to various bits of family have ended up with me fixing thier computers? Too damn many.

-Andy Martin, Home of the Whopper.
Not everything is quantifiable.
Brilliant. (2.81 / 11) (#21)
by escherIV on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 04:58:22 PM EST

I think he pretty much summed everything up.

For me though, the biggest problems is extended family members... Aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. saying "My computer is sluggish, can you fix it?" and hardware problems like scanners not working. I've never used a scanner or installed one, but since I "know computers" it'll be easy for me to do for them. As for the first part, all too often they have a taskbar of stuff a mile long, then on top of that some sort of parental control stuff. I just think it's amusing that so many people think those little icons in the lower right corner of Windows are just "pretty pictures". It's gotten to the point where I start playing dumb... "I only really know programming. I don't fix problems like that..."

Oh well... I have a feeling it's not going to stop any time soon.

Re: Brilliant. (3.28 / 7) (#27)
by bort13 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:31:22 PM EST

For me though, the biggest problems is extended family members...

I have my landlord -- he comes around every few months with some request to fix his Gateway abomination (at no charge, of course). There's three columns of crud on his start menu, most of which are things like Barbie Makeover and Mattel(R) Freddy the Fish(TM) The Incredibly Fun Kids Game 2. Desktop entirely buried in icons, many of which are duplicates. He's always out of disk space, but won't ever uninstall or delete anything ("I might need it later"...yeah, like you're still playing that two year old buck hunter game with the 80 meg footprint ;p) But at the same time, he wants me to make Lotus 2.ohmygod work, some old 286-era database he's got...

Help requests really don't bother me if the people have decent computing habits and at least try to keep their machine working. If you're stuck you're stuck & if I can help quickly I don't mind. But an old, never rebuilt, factory-installed system with 3 years of use in it, I'm likely to walk away from it with the machine worse off than when I first touched it.

The guys who irritate me the most are the ones who attempt to demonstrate their breadth of technical knowledge (even though they're outside the field, harrumph) only to trump you with a question or trip you up on some esoteric Microsoft factoid so they can prove they're smarter than you are. The curse of this industry is the tech (well, PC anyway) magazine reader.

Don't even get me started on Mac users...

[ Parent ]

AMEN! (2.33 / 9) (#22)
by tzanger on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:03:52 PM EST

Actually you beat me to the submission; I was going to write one up just like it this week. :-)

I have a bit of a different problem. I design embedded hardware for a living. Unfortunately anyone who sees me at a computer programming or hooking things up to one or editing schematics/layouts they assume I know everything about the system I'm working on.

I mean I do... but that's not the point. Electronics != computers. I wish I could do most of my work without a computer but unfortunately most of my work just needs one. <sigh>

Perfect !!! (3.52 / 17) (#24)
by Emacs on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:15:09 PM EST

You score a great big 100 for that one.

My favorite has to be the buddy who calls me up and says:

BUDDY: "I'm running Zap-pro 2000 and when I click on the reload button it just sits there and doesn't do anything... what do you think I should do?"

ME: "Heck, I really don't know, I've never even heard of Zap-pro 2000 so I really wouldn't have any idea what it should do or what you're trying to do... sorry"

BUDDY: "Gosh..well okay... I thought you knew computers..."

ME: "sigh..."

It's funny how non-techy people can lump everything together into one giant ball. I think this is the same as asking an auto mechanic why my cell phone cuts out when I drive past main street...then saying.. "Well.. I thought you knew alot about cars...."

Re: Perfect !!! (3.20 / 5) (#32)
by magney on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:14:34 PM EST

"What I would do is this.

I would read the help documentation on this Zap-Pro 2000 and see if there was any information on why it would do this. If there was no clue there, I whould think about what Zap-Pro 2000 was doing, what it needed to do its job (things like the network being up, etc.), and make sure it had what it needed.

If that didn't give me any obvious clues, I would do some web searches on Zap-Pro 2000 and see if anyone else had my problem and if they'd had any luck. If I had no luck there, I would try to find a friend who also used Zap-Pro 2000, see if they had any clues.

If all of that failed, I'd give up on Zap-Pro 2000 and find something else that'd do whatever it was doing and work.

In no case would I pester someone who just 'knew something about computers', because the overwhelming likelihood is that such a person probably has never heard of Zap-Pro 2000 before in their life, doesn't know what it does, and possibly wouldn't be caught dead using it if they did.

Have a nice day."

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Re: Perfect !!! (4.00 / 3) (#66)
by RadiantMatrix on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 05:09:14 AM EST

I would read the help documentation on this Zap-Pro 2000 and see if there was any information on why it would do this. If there was no clue there, I whould think about what Zap-Pro 2000 was doing, what it needed to do its job (things like the network being up, etc.), and make sure it had what it needed.

If that didn't give me any obvious clues, I would do some web searches on Zap-Pro 2000 and see if anyone else had my problem and if they'd had any luck. If I had no luck there, I would try to find a friend who also used Zap-Pro 2000, see if they had any clues.

"That's great, could you do that for me?"

[L]users never cease to astonish me. :)
I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

[ Parent ]

Age old problem (4.36 / 25) (#26)
by jhagler on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:29:13 PM EST

The only thing I could think of as I read this story was an old Heinlein line from Time Enough for Love:

Do not confuse "duty" with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.

But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants "just a few minutes of your time, please -- this won't take long." Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time -- and squawk for more!

So learn to say No -- and be rude about it when necessary.

Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness. The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.

(This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even for a stranger. But let the choice be yours. Don't do it because it is "expected" of you.)

Theology is never any help; it is searching in a dark cellar at midnight for a black cat that isn't there. - RAH
Thanks for venting for me. (3.00 / 14) (#28)
by h0tr0d on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:32:56 PM EST

I learned this all too well when I built pc's for my father and for my brother and his family. I hadn't realized what I had gotten into until one of my co-workers said "oh, you're a free lifetime helpdesk." Sure enough, he was right. My sister-in-law called up saying "my pc does this and that, how come?" I said "ok, did you actually install the anti-virus software?" She said,"what's that?" Enough said. That was the only piece of software that I wasn't able to install before handing it over to them. Now I send my family to Dell or Gateway. Let them deal with it!

Of course, now I've got the neighbors to deal with. She calls up late one Saturday saying "my printer doesn't work, how come?" How the heck am I supposed to know, and what in the world can I do about it over the phone? This was particularly irritating because she knew that her husband and I had someplace to be in about ten minutes. So she knew that I didn't have the time to deal with it. Oh well. I guess once they find out that you know anything about computers that automagically makes everything easy for you. This was from the same neighbor that called one day and asked if they could use my scanner. "Sure, come on over this weekend." So she comes over and I scan a photo for her. Thinking that I am done doing my good deed I start to shut things down. Well, she is planning on auctioning something on ebay and figures that I know everything about it. I was like, "lady, I've never even been to ebay." Still not sure if she ever figured out how to do it.

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.

Re: Thanks for venting for me. (none / 0) (#84)
by newht on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 05:22:38 AM EST

Now I send my family
to Dell or Gateway. Let them deal with it!

IF only that were enough!!! My aunt just bought her first computer, and need help getting on the internet. Now, she's been giving me $20 or so every christmas and birthday for the last 20 years, so when she called for help, i felt fairly obligated. So the first thing I asker her was what kind of computer, not knowing if she bought a mac or what ( the only thing she had told me about it was it came in three pieces, a mouse, a keyboard, and all-the-rest-in-one), her response: I got a color one.

It took two hours to get her up and browsing.

The second worst kind of question comes from fellow programmers. "What's wrong with this code?," followed by anywhere between a page and 300 lines of code.


[ Parent ]
Yeah, here's what I do... (2.36 / 11) (#30)
by craigmswanson on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 05:46:01 PM EST

...when my relatives call me up and complain that this or that isn't working. I tell 'em, "Yeah, I heard a lot about that lately. I think you need a new computer. Gimmie a couple of grand and I'll run out and buy you a new one right after battlebots is over."
--My CueCat ate my karma
It can be just as bad with colleagues... (4.40 / 20) (#31)
by itsbruce on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:09:59 PM EST

If you work in an IT section, you know the type. They assume that you have all the time in the world to have a look at their PC, clean the viruses out of it, repair the damage their kids did when they installed the latest game. One of our staff would bring his machine in every time he upgraded some hardware/software or his kids had messed it up. Eventually it required a formal complaint to his line manager to stop what amounted to harrassment.

Those who do this seem to take no account of the time it's going to take you. If they thought about it for a moment they'd realise that it either wipes out your lunch break or pushes into your work time and makes you fall behind. I suspect the attitude is partly that you are an IT geek, lacking a real personality or life and so aren't missing out on anything.

Another element, I think, is that some people transfer their technophobia to us: they blame us for the hard times they have with computers or technology in general. This leads to two assumptions (often not on a conscious level):

  1. If he copes with technology then there's something wrong with him. Nobody human likes computers.
  2. It's technology's fault, he's part of it all, so he owes it to me to fix it.

It can be surprising how these attitutes subconsciously inform the way those around you behave towards you - even colleagues who are also good friends.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
Re: It can be just as bad with colleagues... (3.66 / 3) (#47)
by khym on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:57:38 PM EST

Another element, I think, is that some people transfer their technophobia to us: they blame us for the hard times they have with computers or technology in general.

I think that another part of the problem might be that many people see computers as being magical, and consider us techies to be wizards. Take a car owner who knows nothing about the in workings of cars taking his car into a mechanic: he might say "I have to turn the key a lot of times before the engine starts, and each time I turn the key it makes a 'whir-whir-whir' sound", or something like that. Then take an average computer user needing help: "My email doesn't work." Well, doesn't work how? To them, it's magic: it just works, or it just doesn't work. We're wizards, so we can just wave our magic wands and make it work.

Give a man a match, and he'll be warm for a minute, but set him on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
[ Parent ]
Re: It can be just as bad with colleagues... (3.00 / 1) (#78)
by Arkady on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:24:26 AM EST

That's a really good way to describe the situation, and the comaprison to how a user deals with an auto mechanic is right on. As another poster said, though, I think we can expect this to get better.

Well, maybe not you and me; the next generation of geeks will be dealing with a class of users who largely grew up with computers and who have basic troubleshooting ability themselves. Those of us of the current generation, however, probably won't be around dealing with users long enough to see that become commonplace.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Lawyer v. Little Tech God (4.20 / 20) (#36)
by lawshark on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:30:50 PM EST

People call my law practice LOOKING for my little brother, a Tech God. People call the house...all day. They call MY home number. We finally started telling people he moved away. As a lawyer, I get asked questions constantly, but I am rarely stalked, and people are more considerate of my time. A PROFESSIONAL'S inventory is his time, and there is a finite amount of it. Morons think my brother "fixes computers" -- they don't give him the respect of a true professional. Little do they know what he really does, or the salary his time commands. His job has similar stress points - clients don't understand it, which breeds conflict...he is a crisis responder...etc. For all professionals, the last thing you want to do with your off time is address some rinky-dink problem that relates to your work environment. When asked a legal question by a cheap-sorry-relative, I usually refer them to a lawyer that handles "that type of problem," even if I know the answer. I don't think anybody would have me over for a chat and casually remark, "Oh, while you're here, can you do a lil' contract-thingy for me?" And yet, they will do this to my brother in an instant. Don't let yourself be undervalued. My brother finds himself in this position because he fails to convey to people that he is a PROFESSIONAL and command their respect.

Re: Lawyer v. Little Tech God (3.00 / 6) (#37)
by dead_radish on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:49:44 PM EST

Well, people in the other place (not the other site, but the other place ng - if you're interested, and don't know it, email me) have suggested that, by asking these questions, people are implicitly requesting your time as a contractor. And we all know that contractors can charge upwards of $200 an hour. So to ask 5-6 questions could cost you up to $50....

It's evil. That's why I like them.
I knew I shoulda brought a crossbow. -- Largo. www.megatokyo.com
[ Parent ]

Re: Lawyer v. Little Tech God (3.60 / 5) (#43)
by itsbruce on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:46:19 PM EST

Morons think my brother "fixes computers" -- they don't give him the respect of a true professional.
So true. I had a friend who endlessly called or ICQ'd me about computer problems, to the extent that when the firm she's a PA for needed a proper e-mail system she pumped me for fine detail on how to set about it. But then, often in the same breath, she'd mention some friend or ICQ contact "who's a computing wizard/genius/expert/whatever". An "Ahem (cough)" from me would only get the response "Oh, no, he knows far more about computers than you or me."

I had a friend...


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
How unbelievably true this is. (4.37 / 8) (#50)
by erotus on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:06:43 PM EST

I have been in this situation. People would never ask a dentist, lawyer, or even a mechanic for free help. Yet, they'll ask an IT geek to look at their PC and then expect him/her to fix it with absolutely no financial compensation whatsoever. People see you moving a mouse and clicking and think - Well that was not much effort. Well sure I'm not slaving over a hot engine or drilling your teeth. I get paid for what I know, not really what I do. I get paid for my time and my trouble-solving skills.

It pisses me off to no end that IT people are abused in this fashion. When we ask others for favors they blow us off or they ask for money, even after we spent a couple of hours fixing their damned PC's. What the hell kind of trade off is that? They don't respect us as professionals and this much is obvious. I no longer hand out freebies. I either tell people I'm too busy or I'm too tired from working 15 hours a day. They get the message. They are willing to take their PC's to compUSA for a $70 fix yet they won't pay you a dime.

I have had to deal with this among my own friends and people my mom goes to church with. Another thing that pisses me off is that the person who asks you for help thinks he is the only one asking. There are endless self-centered people asking for me to come to their houses and fix PC's and yet they don't think of my time as valuable. Well fuck that.

If you think this is bad among Americans as a whole try belonging to a smaller sub-community where refusing to help can be considered insulting. I know some who belong to Indian, Pakistani, or Iranian backgrounds and they are constantly asked for favors, ripped off, taken advantage of, and are never compensated. I constantly hear from the second generation who grew up here bitch about how their families or culture in general is cheap, backstabbing, and extortionistic - expecting help even if you have to kill yourself to do it. The American born/raised crowd bitches about the third world mentality of their culture. e.g. person says "all you did was move a mouse around my screen and typed on the keyboard... why do you expect payment for that?" or "In (country here) we had to work hard and you type on my keyboard and expect money."

In the end, I believe the IT profession will gain more respect as the clueless masses realize that we are fed up with their shit. I don't want to fix your damned PC after working a 14 hour day. I will not come over on Sunday(the only day I MAY have off) and install windows. Sorry, if I sound harsh, but I've been taken advantage of more times by more than enough unappreciative people. When people ask what I do for a living I used to say "I work in the computer field" or "I'm a network administrator." Now however, I'll say Instead "I'm an OSI topology specialist" - something only another techie would understand. I can now claim ingnorance when it comes to "my browser freezes" or "I can't print." Sorry I have no clue!

[ Parent ]
Re: How unbelievably true this is. (3.33 / 3) (#60)
by bort13 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:55:13 AM EST

People see you moving a mouse and clicking and think - Well that was not much effort. Well sure I'm not slaving over a hot engine or drilling your teeth. I get paid for what I know, not really what I do. I get paid for my time and my trouble-solving skills.

Entirely true, and people will think nothing of it if it's an easy job for a doctor. If you go in and he prescribes a quick fix and you get results, he's done his job. A mechanic turning down an idle knows the screw to turn, but anyone can use a screwdriver.

I agree entirely with your sentiments, and completely agree with your stance to demand compensation. I actually now refuse to help except in cases of dear friends and close family. I'm scared of the issues on the kind of gray market deal these off-the-record transactions contain. You can make the money good, but you might get tied with a lawsuit or something really ugly. You have to work on systems that there's no central control over, so you get crappy harware and user-installed garbage. And do you really want to spend that sunny Saturday afternoon out on someone's crappy lowend job, rather than inside your house at your pristine workstation? :)

The funny thing is I think IS support guys will eventually be more like mechanics in the social strata. As children grow up with computers as a regular thing in their existence, rudimentary troubleshooting skills will be more commonplace. A computer is not entirely like a car where you operate mindlessley of the vehicles operation; you are engaging intellect at some level while you use it. Operating a workstation isn't that difficult, and it will become easier as the new user base gets smarter technically.

[ Parent ]

Calendar (1.18 / 11) (#38)
by davidduncanscott on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 06:56:05 PM EST

Are things always this tense in your world, or is just for a few days out of the month?

Re: Calendar (3.25 / 4) (#48)
by Ciaran11235 on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:01:18 PM EST

Well as they work with computer for a living, I suspect they are that tense all the time :)

I am greatly symaptetic to this rant however... I used to have a doctor that went on at me like that.

ME: "But doctor, what about these sharp, shooting pains in my kidneys"

HIM: "Im sure they are nothing... anyway... I just upgraded to 128Meg of RAM... is that good ?"

ME: "<Sigh>"

[ Parent ]
Meeting Women (3.77 / 9) (#39)
by toddmilburn on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:17:08 PM EST

Freshmen year I thought fixing computers would be a good way to meet women... all I ever ended up getting were free candy and the occasional brownie (homemade brownies were a well-appretiated payment) but never once did fixing a printer driver ever have the sexual appeal that I hoped for....

Re: Meeting Women (3.00 / 4) (#40)
by Kirn_Malinus on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:35:12 PM EST

I learned the first week here (my freshman year now) that women use men who know computers more than we use them for sex. Damn them all.

[ Parent ]
Re: Meeting Women (2.66 / 3) (#44)
by Ikol on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:46:32 PM EST

Ugh, in colleges its really bad. So many kids who just got new computers from "mommy 'n daddy" and are yer best friends when they need help. And it's really tough to make a 'no' stick with someone you have to live with. Throw in all the girls (most of 'em psychology majors) who love to talk about how pathetic CS majors are...until they need help, all of a sudden we become visible again. Though immediately after the problem is solved they go back to talking through us...

[ Parent ]
Re: Meeting Women (3.00 / 3) (#46)
by shirobara on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:56:52 PM EST

I gotta say, I enjoy watching my boyfriend fix or otherwise work on a computer. (He made a few modifications to my family's computer...did wonders for his estimation in my brother's eyes...) He looks collected, capable, intelligent, and thoroughly adorable. But then, that's just me. ^_^

I dunno. Boyfriend out of the equation for a while, I wouldn't try to pick up guys by showing off my HTML skills. With the right kind of guy it'd click, but most just wouldn't appreciate it...

[ Parent ]
And here's the bill.. (3.44 / 9) (#41)
by UrLord on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:41:21 PM EST

I dont mind helping out friends with thier computer problems and frequently take some personal time out of my schedule to do it. They know Im doing them a favorand my friends respect that... When someone I dont know asks for help Ill usually find out what the problem is and tell them I dont know anything about it but give them hints as to where to look for an answer. Still helping someone out and then when they thank you write up a bill and handing it to them (at a proce/hr than you believe your time/experience is worth) is always fun. I do it just for shits and grins because most of the people that ask for my help cant afford my prices. Now I just need to get a camera to get a picture of thier faces when they see the total ;)

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.

I never use windows. So I know noting about it. (2.16 / 6) (#42)
by your_desired_username on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:42:50 PM EST

I never use windows. So I know noting about it.

This statement weeds out most of the people I do not want to help.

My next step is to say 'No.'
I feel like that should be my first step, and sometimes it is, but usually I do not say 'No.' the first time.

When I actually want to teach someone something - I have a whiteboard at home. I will put some appropriate stuff on the whiteboard (diagrams or code), explain it, hand them a marker, and then ask them questions.

Visit my home page (3.42 / 7) (#45)
by pwhysall on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 07:54:43 PM EST

Follow the link to the 63-point memo.

Gasp in amazement at how true it is.

K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.

Re: Visit my home page (2.50 / 2) (#63)
by charter on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:45:04 AM EST

Mindless link duly propagated to friends and family.

#45 is my favorite!

-- Charter

[ Parent ]
Re: Visit my home page (none / 0) (#83)
by csmacd on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 03:34:47 PM EST

#44 happend to me in my old job...frequently.... After a while, I refused to talk about a particular problem except with my supervisor and the person listed on the trouble record. Got some VPs rather upset that I wasn't working on their problem...

#45, not me, but an ISP i'm familiar with - their mail server died (ran out of disk) thanks to a user emailing 5 GB of MP3s home....

#54 happened too...

[ Parent ]
I just realized today... (3.50 / 10) (#49)
by Luke Scharf on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 08:44:38 PM EST

Since my job is to support machines and people, there's no escape for me. I just realized today that I do too much fixing and not enough teaching. Since I work for a fixed number of people, this might be a way to reduce my workload in the long run. :-)

Re: I just realized today... (2.33 / 3) (#58)
by bort13 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:29:24 AM EST

...too much fixing and not enough teaching. Since I work for a fixed number of people, this might be a way to reduce my workload in the long run.

The short run IMO. As your user base grows or you change to a bigger scale situation, it becomes impractical to have people try to do both. Have trainers do training and support people, well, supporting. With fixed users and a small network, it works pretty well, in my experience.

Caveat, if you set the expectation that you're going to train (read: wait on) folks, then you gotta train 'em. It leads to jumbled priorities as neglected users angrily page you/call your cell while the CEOs laptop is fried and you're feverishly trying to get him/her his/her email. It leads to the infamous Handholding Syndrome, where the users' comfort level is so great in reaching for the phone that they never try to figure out anything for themselves (better than training, don'tchaknow). You can get users who call repeatedly for the same problems (and it's demonstrably not your own fault).

The thing most corporate support people don't get is the name of the game is keep 'em working. In any organization, support is not a profit center. Not capital, the wrong side of the balance sheet. Solely asset protection, insurance; a way to balance costs.

The pisser of that is you basically have to get a general idea of what everyone's job is, and what they do every day -- not necessarily the same thing. Always be mindful of what exactly they need to know to do their job. Make sure they understand these tools they need to get the job done and point them toward help/manuals for esoterica. Answer easy questions, but don't get caught in question-nets that keep you away from higher priority support. Anything else users figure out is cosmetic, but doesn't really impact the $.

Here's a stretched analogy for no particular reason: I tend to think of my support group as potential energy -- say voltage. We have the capacity to hit a certain amount of work at any time, i.e. jack up the current to max, but you want some in store for when the outage comes. The longer and more involved each individual call is, and the more services you promise on each call, the less that potential is, and, of course, the less the user is working. So we are an uninterruptible usage supply and companies pay us for a certain amount of protection...:)

Kings in support leave the user with a little something extra and a smile on their face. You have to have a few or you seem imposing. My aces in support get the user returning to his desk with a fresh cuppa java and the guy in the next cube saying, "That IS guy was here, and he fixed it."

[ Parent ]

You said it the best! (2.60 / 5) (#51)
by mikemsd on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:25:13 PM EST

I get these types of questions wherever I go. "Hey what is a good site for finding drivers?", "How do I work mIRC?", "Why is ICQ offline?", "Why are most computers beige?", "What's the name of that cord thingy?". There are just some times where you have to draw the line.

This is definitely going on a T-Shirt as soon as I find some t-shirt transfer paper :)

It's So True (2.71 / 7) (#52)
by squeakyweasel on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 09:46:55 PM EST

It seems as if when people see me on the computer usually doing somethig they don't understand or have never seen before (usually SSH to my linux box) they tend to think I have all the answers. Yes, this deserves to be on a T-Shirt over on ThinkGeek or something but it's all too true.


Re: It's So True (2.50 / 2) (#65)
by pb on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 05:04:19 AM EST

Amen, brother.

Just because they don't know what I'm doing, why should I know what they want to do, when they don't even know it themselves?

And you can quote me on that. :)
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
Can you teach me VB (1.87 / 8) (#54)
by chinhdo on Tue Oct 03, 2000 at 10:27:11 PM EST

What I hate the most is friends who ask you to teach them to program in VB, Java, C++, web design, etc. like I can just turn them into a programmer just like that. Duh! Sure... I'll do it... if you can provide me with daily sexual services in return!! (He he I am only referring to female friends here).

they can say "thank you" every now and (3.00 / 5) (#55)
by Duke of URL on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:32:51 AM EST

I work tech support. The users that really bother me are the ones that treat me as though they're doing me some awesome favor alowing me to fix their computer. It would be nice if they learned from their more gracious co-workers and said the word "thank you" before I leave having fixed their computer.

Maybe manners are just disappearing slowly? Any old timer help desk/teck support still around that can comment on how users have changed over the times?

Re: they can say "thank you" every now (2.50 / 4) (#59)
by bort13 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:33:00 AM EST

I've been in the business ten years. The only thing that changes is the degree to which buzzwords are employed and mice are clicked :). You're a football referee in a stadium that's home team is losing. The best you can do is be invisible.

Related comments here.

[ Parent ]

Re: they can say "thank you" every now (3.66 / 3) (#62)
by spectra72 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 02:29:48 AM EST

Yes, more users should say thank you every now and then. It would be a better place for all involved if they did. But you know what? So should you.

I worked in support for a few years. Do you know what drove me out finally? Was it the users? No, they stayed pretty much the same. Same questions...same attitudes. Some would make you pull your hair out with their stupidity, some would amaze you at the breadth of *their* knowledge. Nope, what finally did it for me was the attitude of the tech support people themselves. High and mighty, scornfull, always negative, when I saw that I myself was falling into that trap I got out. I'm a better person for having done so.

So how about this? When was the last time *YOU* thanked a user? Who is paying whose bills here? Do any support people remember what the word *Service* even means? Sorry, it's the users who are doing you a favor, not the other way around. It's like this, tech support falls into two broad categories. A) You work internal help desk. If that's the case, you aren't even the essential piece to your business's bottom line, it's your job to make sure that the essential people don't have to be bothered by this IT crap. You're essentially dead weight. Or B) You are working tech support in direct line with a product/widget/service your company sells. In that case, the customers are buying your products or your service contracts. They are directly the reason for your employment and your company's success. Show a little humility for goodness sakes. If it wasn't for them, some of you tech support people would be back to flipping burgers.

I know there are going to be posters out there dying to point out how *they* are not like that and that *their* users should treat them better. Tell you what, save your time. Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt. I've been in the trenches with the rest of the Bobs. I know what it's like from inside the trenches and I still feel that support people need to wake up and smell the coffee. Those stupid (l)users are what's giving you a paycheck.

[ Parent ]

Re: they can say "thank you" every now (4.00 / 7) (#70)
by yam on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 09:20:19 AM EST

Generally, I agree with you. Remeber that you are the mailman and realize that nobody will ever talk to you unless the mail is missing. Think about it, when was the last time you thanked your postal carrier for the job they do? But, that doesn't excuse a user from completely falling apart when placed in the proximity of a computer. Completely functional human beings are reduced to the mental capacity of their constituent raw chemicals. Here are some of the things users should never do:
  • Don't fucking lie to me if you installed "Christmas Screen Saver for Windows - 1991" if I asked you if something has changed. I've seen three year olds with cookie crumbs around their lips baldface lie to a parent about "I didn't eat a cookie." You look like that. Be honest. I'll find out anyway, and you'll look less like an asshole.
  • Stop babbling. Fer christ's sake, lemme think about it. I don't need nervous chatter when I'm trying to figure out why your SCSI scanner, USB mouse and printer, Win95 with a Novell connection aren't working.
  • Come up with something a little more a shrug when I ask for more information. You don't act like that when your bring your car in for service, do you? You've managed to help a mechanic debug your car, give me some of the same courtesy. Don't give me a shrug and say, "I don't know anything about this computer thing." You probably know dick about cars too, asshole, but at least you can give a descent description of the problem.
  • I promise not to sneer at you if you promise to not think of me as some sort of lickspittle. You have a job, mine is to support you. It's really hard not to hate you when your first words are, "where the hell were you...". I was taking care of another spoiled, bad-tempered Prima Donna whose lack of information made me stay later than I wanted to. Fucker.
  • We make your computer as much the same as the others so that we don't have to spend time figuring out what sort of DLL hell we've gotten into since you've installed "Little Rabbit Foo-Foo's Multimedia Spell and Spray" on my laptop. I have been charged with looking after that and you have a business tool, owned by the company. Do you fucking paint racing strips on your phone? Put up a dormroom bunk in your cube? Refinish your desk? No. And don't you dare take an attitude with me when I format your hard drive and put down a fresh image. You have been told where to put your work files so that they will be backed up. About a thousand fucking times. So say bye-bye to "Little Rabbit Foo-fuckin'-Foo" and if I see it again, we'll give you the luggable Compaq 286 with the 5 inch screen and the keyboard on bottom I have set up just for assholes like you...

Ugh. I'm so glad I'm past that. So pardon me if my eyes glaze over when you start talking about your new 56k modem. Now I know how doctors feel when trapped in a party with some hypochondriac describing his new symptoms...

Chris paranoia is its own reward...
[ Parent ]

Now THAT's more like a rant! Learn from it! (3.00 / 1) (#77)
by Arkady on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:07:21 AM EST

It's a bit overladen with the common curse words, but I think this one should go on the list of K5 posts that pop up on the screen when someone goes to post an article to "Rants". You could have a little "your post must contain at least this much certainty and drip this much bile to ride the "Rants" category" notice before people can post to it.

This has the classic elements of rant: absolute certainty, vicious rehetoric and a serious venting of spleen.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Re: they can say "thank you" every now (none / 0) (#80)
by dead_radish on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:14:28 PM EST


I don't hate users. I hate lusers. There is a Very Large Difference.

I'm out of support now (Praise Bob) and into admin. But when I was support (and now, supporting supporting) I learned users/lusers.

Users call up confused. They ask for help. You help them. They do their best, they try, they listen. They get confused, and ask for help again. You explain. They fix it. They hang up. Maybe they don't thank you. Maybe they are frustrated. But they're okay.

Lusers call up enraged. They yell, they scream. They actively refuse to listen, refuse to learn, refuse to accept that they did, in fact, call you, and that you can fix it. They lie, they change their stories. They jump 10 steps ahead. "Click on start." "Okay, I opened up the modems control panel and removed the modem, but it still doesn't work! You suck!" (Yes, it happens. Just like that). We had a phrase. LBOC. Lying, Blind, or on Crack. It described the Lusers. "Did you do anything to the computer since it last worked?" "No." "Are you sure?" "Yes." "When did you remove all the networking components?" "I didn't." "Are they there?" "No." "Did you hit remove?" "Yeah, yesterday. But that doesn't matter." That's when you get frustrated.

1.5 years is the average burnout for TS. By then you need to move up, move over or move out. I was bitter after 6 months. But I had a mute button (lovely things) and I had other jobs. And I was the best tech there. I got bitter, and moved to another ISP. It was fine for a while. I got bitter. I moved up to sysadmin. Admin good. That's how it has to happen. Sure, support gets an attitude. And some of it is undeserved. But _everyone_ gets that attitude when dealing with Lusers. The auto mechanic who has to ask someone 15 times how that stick got into the air-conditioner, and is told every time "It's not there." The cable person who has to ask 10 times "Do you want this tv hooked up?" "No." and then is harassed for not setting up the TV. The bank teller who has to shout to get the customer to stop talking on the cell phone and actually answer a question. They're all lusers, and everyone gets annoyed.

This was not a rant. This was a factualish statement. Rants about this cause frothing and uncontrollable muscle spasms, so they're hard to type. ;)

I knew I shoulda brought a crossbow. -- Largo. www.megatokyo.com
[ Parent ]

Re: they can say "thank you" every now (3.50 / 2) (#76)
by BlyndFreddy on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 11:01:18 PM EST

Over time I have realised that most people come to rely on Tech Support in much the same way that they rely on other utilities like electricity and water. Their expectations were that you could fix their problem quickly and with little effort on your part. Most of the time people were polite, but on the odd occassion a busy person may not wait for you to perform your party trick but head off to do something else. Altogether fine. I never expected to be patted on the head everytime I managed to fix something, and neither should you.

I also realised people would not walk the halls singing my praises, and I would only become a topic of conversation if I did not meet their expectations. After all when is the last time you really thought about your electricity. "Hoo-Yah. Working Lights!"

I really only had serious friction from management who also seem to be driven by the bean counters to do more with less. But that is the nature of the beast.

Telephone Support Help Desks...Now THERE is a MeatGrinder! Low Pay. No Kudos. High Turnover. You couldn't drag me there.

[ Parent ]
to Duke of URL (none / 0) (#87)
by Swashbuckler on Fri Aug 30, 2002 at 01:48:54 PM EST

your "funny tech support memo" link found here has expired.

PS - why did you rate this comment 1?

*Note* - this comment contains no inside K5 humour because inside K5 humour is only for/by K5-wankers. Media does not = "community."
[ Parent ]
That is exactly (1.66 / 6) (#56)
by TheDude on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:53:21 AM EST

...the reason I will never in my life work as a support person. I'd kill myself first. I couldn't deal with a barrage of stupid questions by stupid people all day e'er' day. And the good questions would probably be by someone with much more knowledge than I. I'd end up going nuts and killing several someones. Then they'd blame my murderous rampage to the pot.

TheDude of Smokedot
Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

Re: That is exactly (3.00 / 2) (#74)
by UrLord on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 10:00:01 PM EST

Hey its not all bad. You do get the dumb questions or the users who would rather work against you than with you on solving the problem. But the users who know more than you do can teach you a lot. While waiting for a reboot talk about something he knows about and you're interrested in. I learned more working tech support than I do at school. I did drink more than I do now... Oh well, if you do something better now, stick with it, if not its a great place to start ;)

We can't change society in a day, we have to change ourselves first from the inside out.
[ Parent ]

Right on the money... (2.40 / 5) (#57)
by commandant on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 01:17:26 AM EST

I spend far too much time helpling people with computers. Usually it's stupid OS trouble from an OS that sucks resources and crashes inherenetly.

Now that I run Linux, I can dodge most OS -related questions. I just shake my head and say, "Gee, in Linux we'd do this and this, move this, and you're done. I can't do that in Windows." This way, people feel like you're compassionate, that you would help if you could (otherwise you wouldn't explain how it's done in Linux, right?), but you can't.

The Linux anecdotes don't even need to be true; just make one up. Example?: "I'm having trouble installing my scanning software. Can you help?" "Gee, in Linux I'd run dd to zero out a character special file /dev/scanner, then do an "echo 1 > /proc/have_scanner", download the software, type ./configure --prefix=/usr/scanner, make, make install." "Oh, why can't that be done in Windows?" "Well, there's no dd program for linux, there are no character special files, no /proc/have_scanner, and no compilers for Windows." "Ah. Too bad, thanks anyway."

This makes me look like a jerk, sure, but spending five minutes fabricating stories means I save hours figuring out why, after installing the scanner driver 12 times, the OS still refuses to acknowledge the driver.

remote admin (3.20 / 5) (#61)
by matman on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 02:27:19 AM EST

I've solved this problem somewhat, while maintaining my helpful wizard status. Install remote admin utilities on the boxes of friends and family. When there's a problem, connect, and fix. Done. What takes you 30 seconds of typing, would take you 10 min to explain over the phone. Mathew Johnston

"On fire" errors: (1.87 / 8) (#64)
by AftanGustur on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 04:26:40 AM EST

From the 2.2.17 kernel

#define SOL_ENETDOWN 127 /* Your subnet is on fire */

#define SOL_ENETDOWN 127 /* Your subnet is on fire */

   printk(KERN_INFO "%s: transmit timed out, %s?", dev->name,
(SCB_complete(status)?"lost interrupt":
"board on fire"));

if (last != LP_PERRORP) {
last = LP_PERRORP;
printk(KERN_INFO "lp%d on fire\n", minor);

   /* not offline or out of paper. on fire? */
if (lp_table[dev]->lp_is_busy(dev)) {
printk(KERN_NOTICE "lp%d: on fire\n",dev);
if (lp_table[dev]->flags & LP_ABORT)
error = -EIO;

I helped someone before... (2.40 / 5) (#67)
by operandi on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 06:20:38 AM EST

Before I hit 15k/month in income and my parent's friends stopped calling it "playing on the computer," I used to help them every once in a while as to not get shit from my father for "being difficult." (Because, after all, my hours on the computer were just playing and so why not spend them doing something constructive like 'cleaning up Windows95 to make it go faster.' There is no logic otherwise. :-|) A friend of my father's lost his 17 yo son in some shooting, another reason I left the country, and so I helped him get memorables from the computer. While going through /home/$his_sons_name/pics/, yes you know what happened, we worked our way through about 20 MB of teen lesbian pr0n pics. (Quite the amateur, myself having well over 7 GBs.)

  1. He did not have me save those.
  2. From that experience on I never helped another person with their computer citing personal reasons, followed by a hearty Fuck You if given any grief. (Highly effective.)
  3. No, of course I did not tar cvzf pics.tgz foo&&uuencode pics.tgz pics.uu pics.tgz.uu&&mail me@mydomain.com <pics.tgz.uu... :P


Forgive my sins. (2.50 / 6) (#68)
by WWWWolf on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 07:42:00 AM EST

::WWWWolf feels guilty.::

Guilty of both ocassionally behaving like the person(s) you're complaining about (well, not exactly, but the approach was same), and guilty of thinking like you did in the rant.

Some people try my infinite patience by when they manage to be outstandingly clueless, and that's bad because I shouldn't be mad at them, just help them anyway.

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

Why do we fix these things? (3.00 / 7) (#69)
by 0x00 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 07:50:23 AM EST

When something breaks or needs repairing what do we do?

We figure out how to fix it OURSELVES.

The reason we possess the knowledge to fix their computers is because we have tried to fix things before. We spend the time to plow through help files and apply our own theories to problems.

If you don't step them through solving the first problem they will never understand how to fix the next problem that comes along, and thus it becomes a never ending cycle - most likely always returning to you.

Try pointing them in the right direction, or giving them places where they can look for information. Give them the power to try temselves.

Re: Why do we fix these things? (2.40 / 5) (#72)
by snort on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:46:28 PM EST

Except that most people don't care to learn for themselves. I don't know how many times I've tried to point people to something that will help them learn, and they all whine and say "why can't you just fix it for me?" God I hate people like that.

[ Parent ]
Re: Why do we fix these things? (2.25 / 4) (#75)
by 0x00 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 10:35:04 PM EST

If take a stand a refuse to help until they have actually tried themselves then they usually give up on you and annoy another person.

either way, your problem is solved.


[ Parent ]
Re: Why do we fix these things? (2.50 / 2) (#85)
by royh on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 05:12:46 PM EST

Some time ago, my mom told me she wanted to learn about computers and such. So I decided, what she needed was to learn to play around and figure things out. So whenever I was helping here and she would ask me something she could figure out herself, I would try to lead her on; not give her the answer but just try to get her to figure out herself. "Where would you look for this?" rather than "It's right over there". She would ask me the most obvious stuff too, like to the point where I was confirming every tiny thing. She would hover over some obviously named menu command and say "here?". I tried to get her to mess around and do stuff on her own.

She mistook it for arrogance.

[ Parent ]

"I don't do Windows." (2.50 / 6) (#73)
by ralphph on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 12:56:26 PM EST

Very few people ask me for help with their Windows machines, because they already know what I'm going to say - "Sell your computer and buy a Mac." (Yes I use Windows at work, but only because I have to. It's your home machine, so you *don't*)

Linux users could probably get a similar effect by replying to all requests for Windows help with a Debian install disk and a Stallmanite rant. (I don't bother with the rant, because everyone already knows about Mac users.) The only danger with this approach is that they'll actually use the disk, and then you'll be stuck giving them Linux help.

All jokes aside... (none / 0) (#86)
by msphil on Wed Jul 11, 2001 at 08:38:17 PM EST

...I really do respond to Windows help requests with "Install Linux, then I can help you."

[ Parent ]
Yes, I do work with computers. | 88 comments (80 topical, 8 editorial, 1 hidden)
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