Are you a computer scientist? What to answer when asked how to fix computer problems?
This post is also available in : Spanish
Do you know what to answer when asked how to fix computer problems?
If there is something totally inherent to a computer scientist and technology expert, it is the relative, friend, or someone, who comes after him begging him to help him fix computer problems or some issue related to their cell phone, tablet, ebook, digital clock and even hair dryer.
It is a sure thing that haunts poor technologists day and night, with taps on the shoulder at family meals or impromptu gatherings, calls at odd hours and private messages with lots of emoticons on Facebook. The biggest secret to ending this curse is simple: NEVER CONFESS THAT YOU ARE PROFESSIONALLY RELATED TO COMPUTING. But if this fails, if your tongue went showing off your skills, what is the next step when asked to fix computer problems?
Well, that’s what our dear colleagues from Pandora FMS are here for today, to answer this very simple question: What do you usually answer to your friends when they keep on begging you up to help them fix computer problems or any other issues they have with “technology”?
Most of the times I answer that I, what I know, is programming, that I do not know everything about computers, and that I just have no idea… But, well, in the end I always end up getting involved and helping them…
In most cases I would like to apply the saying “the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot” and such. It seems like an infallible trick to quote some wisdom words, but not at all, in the end they move me in some way and I end up telling them to buy me a beer and since I’m already there I will take a loot at it.
“Do you know Teamviewer (or eHorus)? Install it and give me the ID and password.”
“I will give you my colleague Borja’s phone number and he will solve it for you.”
“Do you know Borja?”
“How many beers are we talking about as payment?”
Well, when asked to help my friends fix computer problems, basically I tell them to “restart or turn it off and on” that’s how I solve 90% of the queries, for the remaining 10% I tell them to check the best computer expert in the world, Google, it knows much more than I do about technology.
Well, when they are true issues, I gladly help them (as long as I know how, of course), but if it’s a random question like “I get an error when buying online at Amazon”, I may say something like “give me a second to take a look at the list of world errors of all programs that they gave me at the end of my degree and I will help you.”
Well I usually tell them “I AM NOT AN NGO” and I block their messages. Nah, just kidding. Well “what do you need?” or “what is there to do?” and I help them most of the times, no problem.
Actually I always end up helping them, but probably the first and most common answer is: Have you googled it?
This is easy: “I’m not that kind of computer scientist, I just program, I have no idea how things are installed on the computer, or other weird moves…”. And boy does it work for me sometimes.
Well, luckily or unfortunately, most of my friends know about computers (some more, others less, but they all have a good level). So when they ask me for help with something, it’s usually something they know I like better than they do. So of course, I help them, and when my family or someone who doesn’t know that much asks me, I also help them, I’m a nice guy, but there I try to teach them so that next time they don’t need my reinforcements.
“Sorry, coincidentally that’s not my specialty, I have no idea about (hardware, software, problems with the Internet, networks, installing programs, improving performance, formatting the computer, etc.)”.
I try to explain to them what their problem has been, how to solve it and what they have to do so that it does not happen again. If it happens again they owe me 20 bucks.
The truth is that I try to help my friends/family whenever I can. What’s more, in some cases I have a remote connection agent installed on some devices that I connect to at specific times to help them update, install something, and more. But they are very specific cases of relatives who do not get along very well with technology. As a general rule I usually give links to websites where they explain step by step what happened to them and how it is solved, if in the process they have any questions, I will solve them as best I can.
Well, I’m usually a good person, I stock up with lots of patience and get myself into technical support mode. If the issue gets complicated, I ask at least for a compensatory beer.
Well, I usually have no problems. Just yesterday a friend asked me if I could help him with four computers that he had locked and did not know the password for. I replied that there was no problem, if he invited me to eat lunch and that later, perhaps, I would take a look at them.
Well, it depends on how close we are and the problem they have, and also the time. If I am busted, I drag it until the weekend. If it is within my field of knowledge, I help them and if I don’t know how to solve them, I redirect them to where it is appropriate.
Last Saturday, for example, a friend asked me how to develop a mobile app. But I, as a systems person, don’t control anything at all. So it was time to say… “no idea about that.”
Formerly I would solve their problems in exchange for a good snack. Now they would have to watch the children in the meantime. There have been no volunteers yet!
Luckily or unfortunately, my friends are as nerd as I am and most of them are computer scientists and have studied similar things. In the end, each one has gone into a different computing branch, so they do not usually ask for much help, unless it is for a debate like “what hardware is better to improve my computer” or “I am learning something new, what do you think?”.
And if someone who really has no idea asks me, well I just help them, which is not bad because sometimes the rewards are beer and dinner.
If they are friends, there is no problem, when it hurts is when you are not close at all and they believe that everything is solved by pressing a button and they ask for it to be straight away and for free.
I usually say that I only know about Linux, that I have not gone anywhere close to Windows for years, and it is true, over time I have become very distant with the “office” reality of everyday life.
You know me, I go and fix it for them, usually I find those kinds of things entertaining.
Dimas P.L., de la lejana y exótica Vega Baja, CasiMurcia, periodista, redactor, taumaturgo del contenido y campeón de espantar palomas en los parques. Actualmente resido en Madrid donde trabajo como paladín de la comunicación en Pandora FMS y periodista freelance cultural en cualquier medio que se ofrezca. También me vuelvo loco escribiendo y recitando por los círculos poéticos más profundos y oscuros de la ciudad.
Dimas P.L., from the distant and exotic Vega Baja, CasiMurcia, journalist, editor, thaumaturgist of content and champion of scaring pigeons in parks. I currently live in Madrid where I work as a communication champion in Pandora FMS and as a freelance cultural journalist in any media offered. I also go crazy writing and reciting in the deepest and darkest poetic circles of the city.