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A Letter On Behalf of the World's PC Fixers

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the and-stop-clicking-links-from-strangers dept.

IT 638

Barence writes "PC Pro's Steve Cassidy has written a letter on behalf of all the put-upon techies who've ever been called by a friend to fix their PC. His bile is directed at a friend who put a DVD bought on holiday into their laptop, and then wondered what went wrong. 'Once you stuck that DVD in there and started saying "yes, OK" to every resulting dialog box, you sank the whole thing,' Cassidy writes. 'It doesn't take 10 minutes to sort that out; it requires a complete machine reload to properly guarantee the infection is history. No, there is no neat and handy way I've been keeping secret that allows you to retain your extensive collection of stolen software licenses loaded on that laptop. I do disaster recovery, not disaster participation.'"

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whine (0, Troll)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424300)

The only reason people even want to talk to you is your tech skills. Be grateful you took 10 minutes away from your Pokemon collection to learn those skills.

Re:whine (5, Funny)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424416)

Hey, Some of us play Magic: The Gathering. Don't lump us in with those pokemon losers!

Both of you, behave yourselves! (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424458)

Now, go watch an .avi of Star Trek.

Re:Both of you, behave yourselves! (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424502)

Oh, your sarcasm is so 2000's!

We use MKVs now, old man...

Re:Both of you, behave yourselves! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424624)

that's not always true. Some of us still stream it to the xbox.. which doesn't support mkv -.-'

Re:Both of you, behave yourselves! (2, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424752)

I still use BetaMax.

You see that lawn? Stay off it.

Re:whine (2)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424488)

Hey, some of us play Call of Cthulhu! Don't lump us in with those Magic losers!

Saying no (5, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424468)

You just need to learn to say no. This works 100%:

Did you notice a sign out in front of my house that said "Free PC repair"?
You know WHY you didn't see that sign?
'Cause it ain't there, 'cause repairing dead PCs ain't my fucking business, that's why!

Re:Saying no (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424602)

Best...reference...ever!

Re:Saying no (2)

Sean_Inconsequential (1883900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424704)

Or my response: "I haven't touched Windows since Window 2000, I don't know anything about fixing problems on Windows any more." Which is *mostly* true.

Re:Saying no (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424742)

If you have a neighbor who is a plumber, electrician, contractor, or handyman, you'll find that they demand to be paid for their time and their work.

However, those same people will come to you for help with their computers and expect it for free. I'll help out my immediate family and a few friends, but I just only have so much time and patience and energy. It's not even the money. I just don't want to deal with it.

Re:whine (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424494)

You feel better about yourself now that you've insulted every geek and nerd in the place? Personally, I see an antisocial rant like this, I think "projection. [wikipedia.org] " And now you can't even get mad at me for insulting you, or you will look like a hypocrite.

Re:whine (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424670)

That was a very whiney "letter", its why some technology people sit at home in the dark on the weekends alone.

And home is Mom's basement.

Re:whine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424776)

My Mom is dead, you insensitive clod.

Re:whine (5, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424764)

It was a perfectly rational decision; I decided since I didn't have tits, I'd better learn tech skills or nobody would talk to me!

security though obscurity (0)

musikit (716987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424312)

while security though obscurity is not security it can be used as one pick of a larger puzzle to make it harder for possible infectors of your computer. i use 4 web browsers each with different security settings and plugins enabled to limit possible attack vectors.

Re:security though obscurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424394)

What? What is your point?

Re:security though obscurity (1)

micheas (231635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424564)

Actually, you may be increasing your attack surface, as only one of the four has to be vulnerable in order for you to get compromised.

It also depends on if you isolate each browser to certain websites, or all the sites you visit get each of the browsers with less frequency.

The idea that it is harder for attackers if no browser has 10% market share, is defeated if you use all 50 browsers to visit their website.

Re:security though obscurity (4, Funny)

Lazareth (1756336) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424598)

So essentially you have 4 angles of attack instead of 1, each with security settings deliberately set to something different instead of something, say, secure? Tell me again how this in any way would limit possible attack vectors. Actually, tell me if you even know what that word means.

Re:security though obscurity (1)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424644)

i use 4 web browsers each with different security settings and plugins enabled to maximize possible attack vectors.

Re:security though obscurity (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424750)

i use 4 web browsers

airplane rule: n.

"Complexity increases the possibility of failure; a twin-engine airplane has twice as many engine problems as a single-engine airplane."

By analogy, in both software and electronics, the rule that simplicity increases robustness. It is correspondingly argued that the right way to build reliable systems is to put all your eggs in one basket, after making sure that you've built a really good basket.

Jargon File [catb.org]

One thing is for certain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424314)

I don't see the Amish having problems like this.

Re:One thing is for certain. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424412)

Apparently word hasn't gotten out that you "know horses"... Those fuckers are about as fun to fix as eMachines, and substantially more likely to attack you.

You know horses? (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424678)

I have this horse and it has been acting up after .......

Re:You know horses? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424714)

What did you let it eat this time?

God I can relate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424318)

And the look of crestfallen woe when you can't pull a rabbit out of the hat, it's priceless.

Re:God I can relate! (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424432)

It's a perfectly reasonable response. All the computers on TV have a nigh-magical, unerringly task-specific UI (magically only available to the team's 'geeky tech genius') that can do anything the plot requires. In this case, the plot of their personal psychodrama requires magically fixing their machine. And you, the team's geeky tech genius, have just failed....

Re:God I can relate! (4, Interesting)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424732)

It can be worse. I'm an EE, and people I know think I can automagically fix *any* electronic device ever created.

One guy wanted me to fix his neon beer sign. I know just enough about neon signs to know I don't want to mess around with voltages like that.

Sometimes I get lucky. One friend called me and said the ceiling fan he installed is working oddly, and wondered if I knew what was wrong. From 10 miles away. :-/ A sudden brain wave made me ask if he had connected it to a dimmer switch. Sure enough, he had.

Tough luck (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424320)

Well, one more reason to take away the computers from every stupid person. Boy, that'll be the day of comfort and silence. Can't wait for it to happen.

Get over it. (3, Insightful)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424322)

Newsflash: there are douchehats in every profession.

Computer fixers deal with people who click 'ok' on all the addons their favourite 'free' download site suggests.
Computer programmers deal with specs and users that want features they don't understand, and will never use.
Mechanics who deal with people who figured the 'little oil can light' wasn't anything serious and kept driving.
Accountants whose clients figure they didn't need to file their taxes for the last 3 years, or that it was acceptable to write off that hooker as a 'business expense'.
Teachers whose students are dumber than bricks, and have parents who insist its your fault.

If you don't like it, get a factory job.

Re:Get over it. (5, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424442)

Generally, programmers are not asked to program for free by relatives. With mechanics, people know they need pay, they generally don't ask for free services unless you are immediate family, or an old friend who owes them. Accountants never do anyone's taxes for free, and you wouldn't ask a teacher to tutor your kids for free. Do you see the difference? It's not the "people are stupid" part that's the problem, it's the "your skills aren't worth anything" part that upsets the PC fixer.

Worthless? (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424570)

If the skills of a pc-fixer are worthless, why even ask someone to do it? If the fixer is as worthless as an ass wiper, why aren't as many people asking others to wipe their ass for them as there are expecting free anti-software support?

Re:Worthless? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424698)

I used to do it too, for everyone I knew, friends, work, family etc, and it got really irritating not only because they always called me at odd hours and any time they felt like it, but they also made the same damn mistakes. They aren't stupid, just unwilling, I mean, why bother learning something I show in five minutes, when they can call this idiot any time something goes wrong.

So, I've stopped doing it, when someone asked, I use linux, my knowledge is out of date, I don't have time, and so on. Now, they only call me when they're truly desperate, deadlines looming, sensitive data in danger and so on, and they pay, oh yes, they pay.

Re:Worthless? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424718)

>If the skills of a pc-fixer are worthless, why even ask someone to do it?

Say for instance that I have all those skills and more. Say for instance that my time is valued in the $300/hour range.
Say for further instance that you have been unemployed for six months, living in my guest room, eating from my fridge.

I'd say it might be in your interest to fix my PC or clean my gutters or any other menial task I put you to.

Re:Get over it. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424610)

As an accountant, I can tell you that I get asked all the time by friends and relatives if I can do their taxes for free...

As an accountant however I never do anything for free...

Re:Get over it. (2)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424660)

I would say that part of the reason is that the tools needed to fix a PC are typically portable and/or highly available. If I need help fixing my car I need to find a friend with the right tools, and a proper place to do the work. Having a teacher tutor involves them spending a predetermined (usually) amount of time with a student and that typically resonates in a person's mind as an act that requires pay. I've found saying "no" helps a lot, as does being in a relationship since I'm no longer allowed to fix things based solely on the hotness of the user.

Says who? (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424768)

I find that when you are kind to family and friends, they are kind back. I help people with computer issues and in return they help me in their skilled areas. My dad, while not a mechanic, has a great deal of automotive experience and worked in the industry many a year. He has helped my numerous times with car problems. A good friend who comes to me for computer advice has been plenty happy to help me with home improvement work, as a couple of examples.

Part of being a family is helping one another in ways that you can. That can be emotional support, advice, using your skills, etc. Give and get. Now if the other party is someone who just takes and takes, well then ya they aren't someone who you help, or probably associate with all that much. However you find that in general if you are nice, other people will be too.

I'm very happy to help friends and family and they are happy to help me. Works out well.

Re:Get over it. (5, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424448)

Mechanics who deal with people who figured the 'little oil can light' wasn't anything serious and kept driving.

Mechanics generally draw the line at fixing the results of that for free. Yet computer repairers are often expected to do exactly that.

Re:Get over it. (0)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424672)

Mechanics who deal with people who figured the 'little oil can light' wasn't anything serious and kept driving.

Mechanics generally draw the line at fixing the results of that for free. Yet computer repairers are often expected to do exactly that.

Mechanics also have real world expenses like the actual OIL to go into the engine.
  all software is invisible and infinitely copyable with no degradation. Since 90% of computer repair is literally waiting for the software to be copied and the computer is generally only able to install one item at a time computer repair people actually spend 10 minutes to do something then wait while the software copying takes an hour.

Yes I know repair shops often do more than one job at a time for this reason. we aren't talking about at the shop, but at someone's home.

Re:Get over it. (4, Insightful)

Macgrrl (762836) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424452)

If you are doing this professionally, fine. You're getting paid to deal with the headaches, you generally get paid an hourly rate to sort it out.

The referenced article refers to someone telling a friend that their problem is not something they can fix in 10 minutes for free. I feel this is totally reasonable.

Ive lost count of the amount of free support I gave to friends and family when I used to fix computers for a living. Some of it I was happy to do either due to the relationship I had with the person or the amount of good will they had generated through our personal history. Others were imposing on what was little more than an acquaintance to avoid paying a professional when they had no intention of ever repaying the favour.

Re:Get over it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424464)

"Newsflash: there are douchehats in every profession."

Are you also expected to do all the work for free? No? Then I detect a rather significant difference!

Re:Get over it. (0)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424490)

It is simple to write off those people, but that makes you the same part of the whole that these folks come from. Their disparity, and the struggle against it, is what keeps us all going.

Imagine if you will, you find a lamp with a genie in it. You get three wishes. Most people wish for selfish things, for which only a bad outcome can happen (or so says TV). But you thought this through... you only need one wish! You wish for everyone to be happy, always. Great. Now you, nor anyone else wants material things. Great, right? You're out of food. What compels you to get more? After all, you are happy with no food. You will be happy dying from not eating. People will be happy to watch you die from not eating.

The point here is, you need the yin for the yang, or it all falls apart. Griping "Get over it and do x" only makes you part of the problem, not the problem solver.

Re:Get over it. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424500)

I think the point of particular bitterness, for the "computer fixers" is that there is something about computer fixing that seems to completely annihilate the social norms concerning asking people to exercise their job and/or job-related skills for free, because of some(sometimes rather tenuous) interpersonal connection.

When it's strictly business, lousy customers and messy problems come with the territory. For whatever reason, though, anybody whose profession remotely touches computers(even if your background in SAN architectures makes you no more qualified than anybody else to reload windows on a hosed box) is liable to be asked to perform a multi-hours slogging match under impossible constraints by assorted acquaintances and relatives of some distance...

Re:Get over it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424554)

Newsflash: there are douchehats in every profession.

I think the important word there is "profession". The author of TFA (yes, I read it) gave someone a computer for free and is now dealing with their incompetence. The author has every right to bitch in a snarky article because the story demonstrates that no good deed goes unpunished. If the claims in the article can be trusted, the author is being used by an ungrateful, irresponsible sponge who doesn't know what the hell they're doing, blames others for their own incompetence, and expects free tech support on top of their free hardware.

Mechanics who deal with people who figured the 'little oil can light' wasn't anything serious and kept driving.

Oh, a car analogy. Good. A mechanic who gives away an old car for free should not be expected to offer a lifetime of free repairs (or to go around syphoning gas) for the benefit of the whiney new owner who drives the car into a ditch.

A lawyer should not be expected to give free legal advice at cocktail parties on demand either. And I'm sure many doctors can tell you stories about meeting people and having them, within seconds, complain about their bad knee or the color of their shit the previous day.

One could be rude to their faces and tell them to fuck off. Or write an article. I prefer the first, but hey, I guess the author is a softie.

If you don't like it, get a factory job.

(eyeroll) Seems like you're the exact person who should be reading TFA.

Re:Get over it. (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424694)

I click on everything. Then, if anything at all goes wrong, I simply restart my virtual machine from the read-only image.

I *do* have a factory job. I develop systems for manufacturing automation :-)

Wow, it's pretty short (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424330)

"Buy a Mac"

Oh snap!

Re:Wow, it's pretty short (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424456)

Over 90% of the world would rather stick with a PC, despite its occasional troubles, than switch to a Mac.

Similarly, I'd rather have the occasional aching balls than a castration.

Capisce?

Re:Wow, it's pretty short (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424650)

Over 90% of the world would rather stick with a PC, despite its occasional troubles, than switch to a Mac.

Similarly, I'd rather have the occasional aching balls than a castration.

Capisce?

No, most of us don't depend on our computers to substitute for our lacking genitalia like you do.

And the reason your balls hurt? That's from all the Mac users firing up Windows when needed and otherwise not having to deal with the utter bullshit which is Windows "system maintenance".

Working for free (5, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424340)

My brother, who isn't averse to saying "you can fix my computer", is a truck driver. Next time he comes to visit me while on vacation I'm going to get him to haul some furniture for me. I wonder if that will be enough to make him get the point.

Re:Working for free (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424514)

My brother, who isn't averse to saying "you can fix my computer", is a truck driver. Next time he comes to visit me while on vacation I'm going to get him to haul some furniture for me. I wonder if that will be enough to make him get the point.

What did he say when you told him you didn't have time?

Re:Working for free (2, Interesting)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424692)

Maybe you could wait until you really *do* need some hauling, and then pay him double for the gas, his labor being "in the family (free)". Paying double for the gas should help cover maintenance, I figure.

Maybe there shouldn't be a point being made.

Re:Working for free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424734)

Seriously, how petty would you have to be to demand money to help your brother to move furniture? I've done that for people far less closely related, and they've returned the favor, and all the payment that's ever been involved is maybe a pint or a pub meal.

Not everything is about being paid, you know.

I love my brother's method of guilt (1, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424342)

"If I knew how to do computer, I would help You so you should help me." Well my brother did help me move from my parents' house to my apartment --- ten years ago.

Meanwhile the computer service continues onward year-after-year-after-year.

And I wouldn't mind if he actually LEARNED something, but he's still stuck at the "how do I make firefox fill the whole screen" or "I have firefox open - how do I get back to desktop?" stage (try minimize and maximize like I taught you back in 1999). He never learns.

Re:I love my brother's method of guilt (-1, Offtopic)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424396)

"If I knew how to do computer, I would help You so you should help me." Well my brother did help me move from my parents' house to my apartment --- ten years ago.

I wouldn't mind if he actually LEARNED something, but he's still stuck at the "how do I make firefox fill the whole screen" or "I have firefox open - how do I get back to desktop?" stage (try minimize and maximize like I taught you back in 1999). He never learns.

Just shut the hell up. I'd mod you down even lower but I see you're already at (-1) you fucking cockstucker. You really should be BANNED from posting

 

Re:I love my brother's method of guilt (5, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424724)

"If I knew how to do computer, I would help You so you should help me." Well my brother did help me move from my parents' house to my apartment --- ten years ago.

I wouldn't mind if he actually LEARNED something, but he's still stuck at the "how do I make firefox fill the whole screen" or "I have firefox open - how do I get back to desktop?" stage (try minimize and maximize like I taught you back in 1999). He never learns.

Just shut the hell up. I'd mod you down even lower but I see you're already at (-1) you fucking cockstucker. You really should be BANNED from posting

Are you the brother?

Re:I love my brother's method of guilt (-1, Troll)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424586)

by commodore64_love (Score:-1)

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! My team of friends successfully shut you up. modded you into oblivion!

Dirty little secret among PC Techs (0, Troll)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424364)

If the user is that frustrated with technology, we just tell them to get a Mac. Problem solved and we end up both happy.

Re:Dirty little secret among PC Techs (5, Insightful)

raygundan (16760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424422)

You've never tried this, have you? The sort of person who is easily frustrated by technology but has been barely getting by on windows gets utterly enraged when presented with different UI paradigms. I know because I tried this "fix" a couple of times for people. The problem isn't that either UI is too difficult-- the problem is that you're dealing with somebody who is utterly refusing to learn anything, and handing them a new OS is asking them to learn quite a few things all at once.

Re:Dirty little secret among PC Techs (2, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424530)

I've converted more than a dozen individuals and families to the Mac. All have lived happily ever after.

A before you all geek rage on me, I have steered a few of the young-uns with a clear interest in computers as more than tools toward Linux.

Re:Dirty little secret among PC Techs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424560)

Considering that they never really learned the first OS in the first place...

Re:Dirty little secret among PC Techs (1, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424628)

Oh yes, I've tried it many times. Generally, they're already at their wit's end with Windows bloatware, viri, and cheapo printers that don't work half the time. Oh, and lets not forget the layers of WiFi management software piled one on top of each other causing even more confusion.

Ok, so I recommend they try out a Mac at the nearest Apple store. I tell them there's generally only one way to do something in the Apple world, but it works 99.99% of the time, all the time. The floor salesman are so good at Apple, I just let them handle that part.

A week or so goes by after hearing they got a new iMac. At which point they love it, but are still trying to get used to navigating the GUI (as you pointed out). But they're not angry or frustrated. They just happen to be in that discovery mode still. But the best part is when they ask me "Hey, on this Apple, where do I find X feature?". I just tell them the truth. "Umm, good question, not sure. But poke around in this menu and I'm sure you'll find it". Well, they do without further assistance and thus feel satisfied and EMPOWERED. Mission accomplished.

Mac, that shit just works man.

Re:Dirty little secret among PC Techs (3, Funny)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424428)

You are part of the problem. Instead of educating, you had them buy a unicorn. Way to go.

Re:Dirty little secret among PC Techs (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424534)

You are part of the problem. Instead of educating, you had them buy a unicorn. Way to go.

Oh please, you've never heard the term 'Windows rot'?

Re:Dirty little secret among PC Techs (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424662)

Ya well, it comes with a rainbow and happy ending. What else did you want from me?

Re:Dirty little secret among PC Techs (1)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424476)

Kinda like putting foam padding on all the sharp objects in your house...

saving the pirated software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424378)

the part about saving their pirated software made me laugh.

the crazy looks on their faces when they find out they've lost all the warez... LOL.

Re:saving the pirated software (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424522)

It's never warez: they always "got it from work" or "lost the CD"...

Re:saving the pirated software (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424772)

Actually, there's this:

http://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder/ [magicaljellybean.com]

Which I have successfully used from Wine before. Of course I only saved the Windows XP OEM key (the sticker was illegible) and not the Photoshop one. I figured she can reinstall that if she actually has it. I also installed Ubuntu right beside Windows for good measure, and she actually uses Ubuntu to this day. Of course she has switched most of her computing activities to her Android phone, so it wasn't such a stretch.

Curiosity (1)

radicalpi (1407259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424402)

Personally, I enjoy the challenge in discovering and fixing the problem. Being asked to solve computer problems all of the time can be a hassle at times, but, it can be fun. I'm also the type of person that gets bored and re-installs the OS n a pc to have something to do. Maybe eventually, it'll take its tow and I won't get the same enjoyment out of it, but that hasn't happened yet...

Re:Curiosity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424474)

I'm also the type of person that gets bored and re-installs the OS n a pc to have something to do. Maybe eventually, it'll take its tow and I won't get the same enjoyment out of it, but that hasn't happened yet...

I used to be the same way. That ended about the time I started spending 11-12hrs a day at work. Once you only have a few hours of awake time at home to spend with family, friends, and house projects, it's a lot harder to justify a "refresher-reinstall". Instead of use a lot more discretion when installing software or just make due with a slightly slower machine.

Re:Curiosity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424578)

Oh to be young again...

Re:Curiosity (1)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424622)

You should do this for a living then. I bet within a couple years you will be cured.

Is there anything more annoying that the user who proudly proclaims," I don't know anything about computers!" ? These are the same people that want you to fix it for free... even if it is your business. "Well you sold me the computer so it should work perfectly forever, regardless of the viruses I install on it".

I could only stand about a decade of tech support. Most users have no idea what a backup is until they lose everything the first time. Sadly, a lot of businesses I saw were the same way.

It's a very stressful job. Friends and relatives always think that you can wave the magic floppy disk and save everything they lost... for free of course.

I personally stopped upgrading at XP. If it's Vista, or 7, I just tell them that I haven't used those operating systems and can't help. It's worked as well as telling people that I'm Mac-tarded.

I do NOT miss that business.

Nostalgia... (2)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424404)

I remember the days when most PCs got their viruses from removable media...

-jcr

Can we get a sign? (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424408)

"You must be this intelligent to ride the internet. ------>"

Oh, and the "gas gauge" indicators in MS Windows (for example, when installing software), perhaps we could get something like:

"Your wait from this point: 20 minutes"

And somebody please tell me why my hard drive heads are parked someplace called "Tigger 14" . . .

I Play Dumb (5, Informative)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424420)

It's been 13 years since I did front-line support for home PC's. Back then I spent a lot of time fixing the computers of my relatives.

When I got a job writing and supporting industrial software for a pipeline company I started getting "out of touch" with home systems. Requests for assistance started getting replies beginning with, "I don't know if I can help - I haven't really done that kind of work in a while." Horse crap, to be sure, but it worked.

Now I help my parents when they need it, and recently I replaced a keyboard in my sister's laptop - but requests from cousins, aunts, and uncles have long since stopped.

Play dumb. It Works.

Re:I Play Dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424558)

If your job doesn't allow you to "get out of touch", start using Linux at home if you don't already. That way you can sideline relatives' tech requests with a quick "sorry, I run Linux at home, so I probably won't be any help..."

Re:I Play Dumb (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424620)

I sort of went along this line, I actually stopped using Windows altogether after a bug in Billy G's software caused it to think that my legitimately purchased copy of Windows was pirated and Billy G made me jump through hoops to use what I paid for. Since I haven't used Windows in years I actually don't know all that much about that POS and tell people so. They eventually stop asking me after I repeatedly volunteer to install Linux on their machines. I tell them that if they had a real OS then I could help them, but since they have a toy I cannot.

Re:I Play Dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424634)

Agree! I just tell people to try rebooting the gigatron. Usually they pick up that I'm joking, but someone once asked me how exactly to reboot the gigatron. I told him there's a jumper inside the case you need to short. He came back an hour later telling me he couldn't find it...

some of us have no need (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424676)

I switched to linux more than a decade ago. My friends with windows ask me questions and I can honestly say "I dunno... I haven't used Windows since the Clinton administration."

The funny part is some don't even seem to grasp that, and ask again the next time soemthing goes bad. At that point I usually ask them why they haven't already asked their denitst about the problem, or their car mechanic...

"What's wrong with your PC? You're a warez whore who still uses windows. Here's an ubuntu CD..."

We need a union (3, Funny)

Atroxodisse (307053) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424466)

As a person who has fixed more relative's and friend's computers than I care to mention I have to say I think we need a union.

On a related note, I remember one time, about 10 years ago when I was working at a small PC shop. A customer came in and their windows install was hosed. The owner's daughter was the one who used the computer most. This 16 year old did her best to use her 'wiles' to convince me to somehow transfer all of her warez to the new install I was going to do for them. It was so easy to say no. I hope I held back my smirk well enough. Pay for your software.

Re:We need a union (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424556)

As a person who has fixed more relative's and friend's computers than I care to mention I have to say I think we need a union.

Seriously? You're such a freaking pussy you can never so no to any acquaintance? Yet you think a union would somehow stop the requests? Or is your thinking that you'd have your union rep call them up and explain the rules to them? WTF?

Re:We need a union (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424594)

As a person who has fixed more relative's and friend's computers than I care to mention I have to say I think we need a union.

Or you could just say "no, take it to xxxx shop", or "Gladly, my rates are $xxx per hour."

Re:We need a union (1)

poptones (653660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424702)

Takes someone hardcore to say no to JB wiles...

I quit using PCs (4, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424496)

And switched to Linux/Solaris/NetBSD. Now I can claim ignorance when presented with some Windows related issue. And people quit asking for my help when I started suggesting they try Ubuntu instead.

Re:I quit using PCs (4, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424590)

You mean you quit using Windows on a PC platform. "PC" does not equate to "Windows Machine".

Re:I quit using PCs (1)

igb (28052) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424722)

I've worked in IT continuously since graduating in 1986, I'd been using computers in various guises for ten years prior to that, and I'm now a post-graduate mature student. I've never used Windows for more than ten minutes at a time, and know nothing about it. Oh sure, I've architected multi-platform systems including windows, and managed staff, and procured equipment, and I know roughly how to plan an AD deployment and can even mutter about cross-domain trusts and group policies and update servers and when you need a CAL. But in terms of anything approximating providing desk-side support: nothing. No rebuilds, no installs. My desktop was SunOS/Solaris from 86 to about 2005, and Mac since then. My friends and family know that, so I never get asked.

My solution (2)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424524)

My solution is simple: I refuse to touch Windows machines. The help choices I offer are:

1) I'll install Linux on it for you

2) I'll help you choose an appropriate Mac for your needs

No takers on either so far, and I don't often get bothered.

I went a little more in depth with my wife's cousin's wife, whose kids had installed Limewire and who knows what else on it and whose trial version of Norton had come with the computer and had expired over a year prior: I can't fix this, it's Windows and would be a bit out of my depth trying to fix it. If it were a Mac or a Linux machine I could, but if it were that, you probably wouldn't have this problem in the first place. You only have the manufacturer'l "Damn the data and re-image the disk" recovery CD, which makes it even harder.

At that point, I advised her to just write off that desktop (which she was using for her work as a real estate agent) and get a good laptop and never allow her children to touch it. I also offered to set up a second wireless network in their house that her computer and her kids' malware-infested computers never shared the same network. That was nearly a year ago, and I'm pretty sure she hasn't acted on any of that advice.

One of the morals of the story here is that if you are buying or selling a house, it couldn't hurt to ask prospective agents what they do to protect any data you give them. If they are utterly clueless about computers (as nearly all agents are), you'll find out soon enough.

Why open source is better (1)

MettaBen (685128) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424540)

We techies need to help guide people toward safer sources of software that won't infect their machines. Open source software from reputable sources is generally much safer than pirated software from the darker corners of the internet. If you pirate software, you need to take inconvenient precautions like setting up a virtual machine that you can assume is totally insecure. Yet another reason to choose open source.

Re:Why open source is better (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424754)

Malware makers can impersonate legitimate software makers. For example, google for VLC, and look at how many fake sites there are (the real one is http://www.videolan.org/ [videolan.org] ). Right now, the highest suspicious one is only #5, but if they can SEO themselves above the real site (or buy an ad placement)...

This guy is a noob. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424542)

Not only does he think its impossible to remove an infection without a complete reinstall, he recommends AVG. What a lazy tool this guy is!

Re:This guy is a noob. (1)

Changa_MC (827317) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424728)

He's not wrong about the infection of course - you have no way of determining whether an infection has overwritten basic driver files such that it is literally impossible for your OS to see it, let alone remove it. A clean boot CD will find it, if it's a known infection. Generally I just clean with antimalware and antivirus software and if the computer seems to be running at full speed with no obvious tells call it good enough -- but if you actually care about your data, it is not.

And AVG is OK home use, have you tried it? It installs for free, it auto-updates fine and it keeps most crap from infecting a machine. It's a couple years beyond its peak now, but for people who don't even reinstall after pwnage, it's surely good enough.

Fixed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424600)

restoring a vmware snapshot fixed my computer from my own stupidity. what snarky comments should i be saying to myself for that?

Correct target? (3, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424626)

How about a screed against his fellow technical people?

You know, the one who *create* the malware and junkware and root kits and junk operating systems and whatnot.

Be Deliberately Worthless (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424680)

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

If that does not work, get a copy of the tech support script from... well, pretty much any tech company in existence. Then read it with a sloooooow ruuuural draaaaawwwl. If they interrupt you, then look confused and start over at the beginning.

I don't do Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424700)

nuff said!

"Sure I'll fix your computer. If I get to fcku yo (1)

michaelcole (704646) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424712)

"Sure I'll fix your computer. If I get to fcku you."

Every time friends ask for help... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35424744)

...I always offer to replace their OS with Ubuntu.

Now they know better than to come to me.

:-)

This is why I set down ground rules (5, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35424756)

I've been able to "negotiate" some ground rules for doing family tech support.
  1. If I say "it's fucked", it's fucked. I don't do miracles.
  2. If it's a program I've never used before, I'll click around for a few minutes to see if I can guess it. After that, I'll hand you the manual, and let you figure it out yourself.
  3. When I say "don't use ___, use ____ instead", you do it. I've been able to switch most of my family away from IE and MS Office this way.
  4. I don't work with printers. Period. If necessary, I (somewhat-jokingly) claim it's for religious reasons, as "only the devil is evil enough to be responsible for printer drivers."
  5. If I hop onto a browser to search for a solution, I will disable any toolbars that are taking up all your browser screen space. Without even being asked. You're welcome.
  6. If I've been at it for over an hour, and have made no progress, I reserve the right to give up.

I suggest setting these down yourself, if you're frequently called upon to help. Generally, I've found it actually makes people slightly happier with you - apparently, placing more value on your skills makes others value them more as well.

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