back to article I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

“My nephew bought me one of those iPad things for my birthday.” My heart sinks – I can already tell where this is going. I’m at a neighbour’s house party, the time is last summer, and one of the older partygoers is about to tell me that some new-fangled technology is too much for him to cope with now that he has reached the age …

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Bronze badge
Headmaster

Reminds me of...

A doctor and a lawyer were attending a cocktail party when the doctor was approached by a man who asked advice on how to handle his ulcer. The doctor mumbled some medical advice, then turned to the lawyer and remarked, "I never know how to handle the situation when I'm asked for medical advice during a social function. Is it acceptable to send a bill for such advice?" The lawyer replied that it was certainly acceptable to do so.

The next day, the doctor sent the ulcer-stricken man a bill. The lawyer also sent one to the doctor.

(Obviously replace 'doctor' - although it might be a doctor - with the 'I know nothing about the stuff I bought/use' person, and lawyer with your good self).

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Bronze badge

Re: Reminds me of...

Tell them you need to do a Risk Needs Analysis first then if they push further continue with how they need to fill in a multi page personal insurance liability form in which they will be liable for any injury's or loss of personal data and that by the way, you have two outstanding cases waiting settlement from others insurances.

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Windows

Re: "Risk Needs Analysis"

Nah, droning on about bureaucracy is too much conversation. Kill it dead with one word: money.

Once people clearly understand that you refuse to provide unpaid voluntary work on behalf of multi-billion dollar global corporations, they'll give up and move on to their next victim.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Risk Needs Analysis"

As a heterosexual man, if a woman ask me for IT help I mention sexual favours.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reminds me of...

When queried as to my occupation by strangers in a social setting, I just inform that I am a qualified sex instructor. If female I also tell them that the first lesson is free. Generally that ends the conversation pretty rapidly. And if it doesn't then it's not a problem.....

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Thumb Up

Re: "Risk Needs Analysis"

"As a heterosexual man, if a woman ask me for IT help I mention sexual favours."

Something similar happens in the homosexual kingdom: when they ask for IT help they expect sexual favours. And I even get free coffee!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Risk Needs Analysis"

Yep that gets me out of doing IT favours too ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Risk Needs Analysis"

So you lick his penis after you fixed his computer? I never did understand gay men.

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Re: "Risk Needs Analysis"

Well, you have to like licking penises.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Risk Needs Analysis"

Ugg, sick. Jut think where they put it.

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Devil

Re: Reminds me of...

Most of it comes down to pure fucking laziness.

They will spend weeks on the internets, complaining to all and sundry (at home) that the PC is slow as a dead dog, and they won't spend ONE fucking minute, looking up the issue, and then looking at the probable causes, and then applying the most probable solutions.

Being methodical, and careful and planning ahead....

This is why they are essentially dumb fucks, but the truth is if your constantly picking up the tab for other people and their lazy bullshit, instead of sticking to your own game plan, then your the dumb fuck.

Sure socialisation and favour giving has it's benefits, but everything in life is a compromise.

Am I planning and going on the circumnavigation of my own country in kayak for 6 months, or am I spending all of MY time for living, doing stupid shit for lazy fucks, who just won't open the box and read the fucking directions.

This is the only reason why idiots are idiots and capable people are capable.

I chose to research the subject and apply the solution, and they chose not too.

It's THAT simple.

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Silver badge

Re: Systems architect here

"Civil engineers don't get people asking advice on how to build garden sheds."

I have a feeling they might...

I used to get asked if I could sign off on some idiot's dodgy modified car all the time, even before I'd graduated from engineering school.

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IT Angle

Re: Systems architect here

Hmm. It's insanity. I started off in IT, then wandered off into programming...the entire field is messed up. I mean, just hands down, screwed up. I do not know about the rest of you, but when I was growing up, 'understanding computers' meant having all the knowledge which appears to fill the fields of EE, CE, CS, SE, IT, possibly Physics and Math, and some Business thrown in for good measure. Quite a surprise, by the end of my CS degree, that despite my Computer Vision / Graphics track, we never quite got around to doing OpenGl...(something I experimented with my Sophomore year). Their response was "well, you can just extrapolate from the theories you learned in class, and OpenGl should be easy" -> that's immaterial; OpenGl is something both interesting, standard, important, and should be mandatory; why am I paying for a piece of paper which guarantees I did not study this? Just pure madness.And this is how you end up with people who graduate with CS / SE degrees, but can't build HelloWorld. PhDs who do not know how to build a server from individual components...pure waste of grant money.

But continuing with your point, it's the abuse of the good Samaritan principle here that is driving the techs bonkers. One person, every once in a while, asking for help (for free) with a computer problem? Not an issue, any more than a doctor / lawyer / priest / engineer / whatever donating their free time. Nine out of every ten people asking for help, demanding it be for free, demanding it be done immediately, on your free time, when you can't even get a job, and the jobs being offered pay nothing? Not many people can survive like that for long. You either need to be rich, or completely comped in life. But this is only part of the equation: the other half is that these tech skills are, like driving a car, something you are supposed to learn, not continuously put off learning. If I, like others, spend all of my time doing basic tech support because other people can't be bothered to read the manual, then I never get around to fulfilling the larger, and arguably more profitable / more powerful / more rewarding things that are on my plate. Basic tech literacy is really, what, a 6 month course in school, with occasional updates? Not difficult. And yet they're fighting it...and it's kind of like...well, I'm kind of past the age where I'm going to try and teach you the basics...that was a decade ago when you were too busy with 'more important stuff'...so I guess you can learn it the hard way now...because I have had a multiple decade plan in action for quite some time, and I really can't delay any longer because you decided to be lazy. I kind of have to go live my life now, as I'm probably not going to be given much in the way of any more time on this earth, and even less likely to get any more youth...and I am already terribly late.

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Silver badge

Re: Systems architect here

"I have a feeling they might..."

My uncle is a civil engineer and he found a way to stop such questions pretty sharpish. He starts with the foundations. 2 metre floating slab steel-reinforced concrete, he says. You'll have to do a site survey he says. You'll need to do soil quality tests he says. Then he starts recommending quantities surveyors and suitable suppliers of RSJs for the core structural supports.

Then again, he once built a 3 ft extension to his house using the same design techniques he uses for bridges, so perhaps he was serious...

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Unhappy

@ribosome - Re: Systems architect here

Wrote :- "Civil engineers don't get people asking advice on how to build garden sheds."

They do actually. As an engineer (though not civil) I was once co-erced into designing someone's carport. Never again.

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Facepalm

@Graham Dawson - Re: Systems architect here

Wrote :- "My uncle is a civil engineer and he found a way to stop such questions... ... You'll have to do a site survey he says. You'll need to do soil quality tests he says. "

Well that could blow up in his face. Surely, don't they expect him to do that site survey and soil tests?

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Silver badge

Re: Systems architect here

"Civil engineers don't get people asking advice on how to build garden sheds."

how much do you want to bet.

Me? I tell people im a pox doctor :-)

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Re: Systems architect here

Then again, he once built a 3 ft extension to his house using the same design techniques he uses for bridges, so perhaps he was serious...

-----------

It is the most robust extension I've ever seen though. I'm pretty sure it will out last the house. All 3ft of it.

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Mushroom

Re: Systems architect here

This article was like reading an autobiography.

I got around this years ago, whenever i am someplace new and get asked what I do, I say I am an Air Traffic Controller. Boom. Conversation stops right there. Except once when one of the guests turned out to be a local based Air hostess and blondely asked where I was based. I carried on and named an airport 70 miles away, but that didnt stop her. I was asked what shifts I was on, how many others were based with me, etc etc. It continued until a few people in the room could not contain the laughter and then ratted me out. Needless to say she wasnt amused and didnt talk to me the rest of the evening... so result there too.

Bloody IT ruined my life !

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Bronze badge

Re: Systems architect here

I once had this problem. It didn't take me long to figure out that people are just as bad as at work, they'd rather call somebody for free to fix the problem than invest 30 seconds in googling it to figure out how to do it themselves.

This problem was solved by charging £10 p/h (with no call out charge) My experience is that this minimal charge has an equivalent function to having a team of first line chaps on the helpdesk.

In the last two years I have been called out 3 times. Firstly to fix a dead CMOS battery on an old dear's PC, secondly to recover/transfer data from a PC with a blown PSU and thirdly to re-terminate a proprietary and unavailable for sale OBD2-CAT5 cable for a driving instructors scanguage.

Frankly, i'd have probably been perfectly happy doing those three for free since they were actually real problems that I wouldn't expect a user to fix, but if I did then I would have a que again and I don't want one. I think it's a fair dead, they get their problem fixed cheaply and quickly by somebody far more experienced than the local "Mr PC Fix it", and I get to keep my free time.

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Silver badge

Re: Systems architect here

"Don't tell my mother I'm an IT specialist. She thinks I'm a piano player in a Brothel"

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Anonymous Coward

This is all too familiar.

I am now forever branded 'the computer guy' in my local. The only thing worse than fixing someones computer for free/for a couple of pints is having them describe it in the bar when the sole reason I'm there is to forget about my job (Developer, but apparently that still qualifies me as some sort of pro bono computer repair man) for a while.

Anything that 'will only take you a couple of minutes' is also invariably a massive pain in the taint.

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Flame

Re: This is all too familiar.

I have had nothing against helping some friend with their computers but there is a problem that annoys me much. Every time you touch some device they tend to think it's then your responsibility for the next ten years, and if it stops working next month it's because you did not do "your" work properly last time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is all too familiar.

Yeah, I get asked the same things. And I just point out that I write code, and I use a Mac to do it precisely because I have no interest in pissing about with device drivers and networking and all the rest of it.

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Re: This is all too familiar.

This is the number 1 reason I don't service home computers. They want it for free or at 1/5th of what you usually charge and then think they own you for life never feeling like they need to pay you ever again to work on that computer.

To get out of it myself I say I only work with business systems and then give them the name of someone else that "knows" computers. This generally works.

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Linux

Re: This is all too familiar.

Yeah, that happens to me on the job too. I bashed up some changes to the RPM spec file once and now everyone thinks I own the fscking thing. Latest was a whinger who didn't like that the RPM build takes an extra minute after adding more things to it. Whooda thunk it? Doing more takes longer. Wowzers.

"Can't we have an option to not build the bits I don't care about?" Mr. Whinger asks. Hey, I'm a software developer, not the fscking release wrangler. If it doesn't work the way you want it, fix it yourself, don't come whinging to me.

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Linux

Re: This is all too familiar.

> And I just point out that I write code, and I use a Mac to do i

Yeah. I tell people that I don't do Windows. I don't run it for myself therefore I'm not in a good position to debug it for anyone else.

I tell them that if they decide they want to run some form of Unix, then I'm their man.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is all too familiar.

"I tell them that if they decide they want to run some form of Unix, then I'm their man."

Good idea, best way to ensure no one wants your help.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is all too familiar.

"Every time you touch some device they tend to think it's then your responsibility for the next ten years, and if it stops working next month it's because you did not do "your" work properly last time."

There's an appropriate saying for that. "No good deed goes unpunished."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is all too familiar.

"Every time you touch some device they tend to think it's then your responsibility for the next ten years, and if it stops working next month it's because you did not do "your" work properly last time."

..and you then find they have throw away any CD/documentation you left with them - and deleted all the carefully prepared archive files because "they were just wasting disk space".

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Happy

Re: This is all too familiar.

Upvoted purely for "massive pain in the taint".

If I had a second upvote to give, it would be for the remainder of your comment.

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Windows

Re: This is all too familiar.

Simple answer. "If you click a website on the internet again, it will come back". Or "if you install that OTHER virus scanner again it will kill your performance". I like to put the ball clearly in their park. Then if said ball makes it's way out of the park, you know which naughty little child threw it out hoping you were not looking. :)

(Because the icon says "windows user")

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is all too familiar.

I'm the "computer guy" in my local, I'm a storage/backup specialist and found that the best bet to get rid of anyone who wants me to do something is to say, "yes I can do that for you, but you also need to think about your backup strategy" then tell them about backup and how important it is, discuss options, offsiteing backups, generally being really enthusiastic about it. If they're still interested after a five minute lecture about data protection, I'm happy to help them.

My main problem with helping people is that the amount of people I've given good advice to who have totally ignored my advice and then wanted me to fix it when it went wrong.

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Silver badge

Re: This is all too familiar.

"Every time you touch some device they tend to think it's then your responsibility for the next ten years, and if it stops working next month it's because you did not do "your" work properly last time."

Oh my god yes. I threw a new sound card into somebody's machine once. A YEAR LATER he phoned up swearing because his screen had gone funny and this was somehow my fault. As a bonus, it was 10PM on Friday when the wine had breathed and we were about to start the film. The cuntbucket's video lead had come loose, it turned out. The 300 viruses and multiple toolbars didn't help either.

I don't touch hardware these days, and I cite this as the reason. Nothing to do with the fact that I'm getting old and everyone has laptops; which are fiddly little bastards.

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JB
Happy

Re: This is all too familiar.

"I tell them that if they decide they want to run some form of Unix, then I'm their man."

"Unix, is that Android or Mac? Can I run Microsoft Money 2004 on it?" :)

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Linux

Re: This is all too familiar.

"....I tell them that if they decide they want to run some form of Unix, then I'm their man."

I suggest that they email an expert I know that goes by the name of TUX! ;)))

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Re: This is all too familiar.

I just tell people I'm a gynecologist

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Re: This is all too familiar.

Exactly! There are fewer people with Macs and almost none of them need any assistance. Bloody whining whinging meddling Windows users! Never admit to knowing ANYTHING about Windows! Unless you like pain.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is all too familiar. - DITTO!

There's a reason why I'm going anon on this story (although I know my female flatmate will never touch this site in her life). I've gone through all the friends of family, and then friend of friends to fix people's computers. I used to love the attention, but not try to steer away from it unless it's family in dire need and will negoiate for some compensation for my time whether that's money or big favour with their skills (although I used to refuse money etc).

My flatmate knew I worked in IT, but hardly ever asked me to fix her computers. Always went to her uncle (although the machine wouldnt last that long until another problem - so only short-term fixes were imposed on her kit). In desperation, my colleagues personally owned work-based shitbook (or netbook) was running really slow. Before going abroad, she wanted it fixed to go faster as there was some work she needed to do (2nd job stuff) on the go. I proceeded to uninstall all the shite crapware HP had loaded on there (no surprise that Win 7 Starter struggled on 2GB RAM). Managed to do a defrag. All seemed better. The day after she stepped out the country, she text me saying the thing wouldnt boot and described a BIOS error. After she came back, I got an earful saying it was my responsibility I'd ruined the laptop (even though I hadn't touched the internals or removed anything crucial). In the end, the horrid 320GB 5400RPM drive shat itself. I basically said that she had no right to doubt my 7 years + hobby experience in IT (although she tried to claim I always seemed to bodge my way through and it was my actions that ruined it). After calming the situation down, I'd managed to order a replacement £50 drive, fitted it, sourced the Windows 7 Starter software via torrents and setup it all back to the way it was much better than before. Most likely she'd dropped the laptop and the hard-drive got a shock impact that ruined it.

I try to keep my IT at work and not interfere with my personal life.

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Thumb Down

Re: This is all too familiar.

yep and as I tell my wife. Change your password - DO NOT tell your password to the KIDS!

argh....

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Re: This is all too familiar.

"I only use linux" is my standard reply - that gets me out of just about anything even though I'm writing this on my Windows desktop at home!

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Thumb Up

Re: This is all too familiar.

My thoughts exactly. Here is how it goes: Family member ('family' includes cousins and such) buys the worst piece of hardware out there. You name it: A laptop that takes forever to boot, a peripheral that doesn't work etc. They call you to fix it, you fix it (most of the time), and whatever breaks from that point onwards is your responsibility, because of "what you did on my computer that day". So, as a reward for helping you before, apparently I now owe you free support for life, or I have to hear you blame me that I broke your computer. Right...

Not to mention what happens if you help them buy something. The slightest thing they don't like, they 'll come and whine at you.

The real solution is to just say no. And I even tell them the reasons why I say no (see above). I don't care if they think I am rude and unhelpful, I have piece of mind and more free time and that's what matters. The exception to this are the few people who aren't jerks and deserve help (whatever help I can offer anyway).

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Devil

Re: This is all too familiar.

Heh. When (non-work) people ask me if I can fix their computer [stuff], my general response is a simple "f**k no. I hate that stuff, bores the s**t outta me."

Not said nastily, just firmly. Has worked every time for years now. :D

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N2

Re: This is all too familiar.

Even though they have filled it with every crappy program known to man and turned off everything that may help protect it.

N

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Re: This is all too familiar.

There are no truer words written than what you state Lars. I have been a Technologist for 30 years. Yes, even before computers. What we have here are Cave people wanting the newest technology without the brains to run it. Attoo the caveman is bitching " Ohhh, someone help Attoo. Attoo need smart phone for work." The Company gives Attoo a smart phone. "Ohhh, someone help Attoo work phone. Attoo need computer for work". So the company provides a computer for Attoo's use. "Ohhh, someone help Attoo how computer work". This damned cave dweller has just commandeered, and inundated the entire IT staff. It is best to steer clear of these type people, and not waste your time. You will not get paid, and if you do, the paltry sum will not equal the years of torture you will have to endure. Been There!

Rod Donovan

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Re: This is all too familiar.

I really do use Linux! OpenSUSE, in fact. Have I been problem free? No! But a lot was due to my inexperience at the time. After being tortured by Red Hat, openSUSE pretty much converted me since ver. 6.3, over 12 years ago. Besides, it is always best not to touch a 3-5 year old pc. The HD is about ready to crater, and it usually happens just when you have everything about right. No sir. No Mas!

Master Rod

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Re: This is all too familiar.

I ws a developer and got continually asked about coputers by neighbours and friends. I started a company to deal with it all and make a nice living fixing computers all within a 20 mile radius of my own home. I now have two staff.

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Devil

Re: This is all too familiar.

Uhhh fuck.....

Hitting that comment was like a kick in the guts.....

"I put the nail in the fuse box, as we didn't have any wire. I didn't think it would be a problem."

(after fuse blew 5 times and then the house has burnt down)

"Ahhhh fuck..." -

Terry Gilliams Brazil 1985

Brazil. Frank. Form 43B stroke 19 1 A..

Frank has a psychotic episode.

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