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

Alistair Dabbs is recovering from the dreaded lurgy, but still none too chipper this week, so we’re happy to let him linger in his bath chair and tartan blanket once again. No doubt his neighbours will be concerned though, if this repeat publication from 2013 is anything to go by. “My nephew bought me one of those iPad things …

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  1. Ralph B

    Apparel Solution

    I bought (and wear) a t-shirt to get the message over for this sort of thing.

    The next-door neighbour was one of the worst offenders, and so, over some months, I pursuaded her to swap her old Windows PC for a shiney new Mac and was then able to claim complete ignorance of MacOS and point her at Apple Support instead. It's worked rather well. (Not sure Apple Support would agree though.)

    1. tony72

      Re: Apparel Solution

      I'd like a t-shirt that says "I will fix your PC. But not for free." The fact is most of the bastards who come to you trying to get you to fix their PCs and whatnot for free, would never spend the same number of hours helping you out for free. The few that would, no problem. But for the rest, I have come to find it deeply offensive to be asked, unless the request starts with "How much would you charge..."

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apparel Solution

      Must admit, that's one thing I do like about Windows 8 - it gives me the ability to go *shrug* you probably know how to use it better than I do.....

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Apparel Solution

        "Sorry. I don't do Windows."

    3. Dave Robinson

      Re: Apparel Solution

      Yep, I have exactly the same tee-shirt, and I wear it at appropriate times (i.e. when visiting people who I suspect have an ulterior motive for inviting me round in the first place).

      Unfortunately, it's not wholly successful, so I'm considering getting one with the words "£30 per hour" written on it instead.

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Re: Apparel Solution

        Unfortunately, it's not wholly successful, so I'm considering getting one with the words "£30 per hour" written on it instead.

        That doesn't work either in my experience. Most of the ones I deal with will happily cough up my $50/hour with 1 hour minimum payment to avoid having to take their computer to the local computer repair shops. But to be fair those morons make the Geek Squad look good.

        And hey, sometimes it works out. I got a crack in my windshield fixed for free because the guy at the glass shop remembered I was a tech and they happened to be having computer problems that day. (I use the term 'computer problems' lightly. They'd accidently closed their file in QuickBooks and couldn't figure out which one they needed to open back up. Open a file, get a rock pit fill for free. Good trade for me.)

      2. ClanMcKinnon

        Re: Apparel Solution

        Too cheap!

      3. David 14

        Re: Apparel Solution

        I like to just float the hourly rate that companies pay for my IT consulting time... between $150 and $200 per hour in the local market (what my employer charges, I wish it was what I was taking home!).... that way when "fixing my PC" question is asked, I can laugh it off saying "you can't afford me"...

        In the end, I end up fixing more PCs than I care to count, and I have.t done that work professionally in over 20 years.

      4. HandyJono

        Re: Apparel Solution

        I had a huge sign in my tv. Video repair shop.ALL LABOUR IS CHARGABLE. Yet I was still asked can I have a free?. NO.

    4. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      I like it ..

      Many years ago, in Chandlers guitars, Richmond, there was a big sign behind the counter:

      "Our hourly charges:

      instrument repairs - £20

      if you watch - £30

      if you help - £50"

    5. John Sanders
      Linux

      An even better solution

      I'm a Linux admin if I fix your computer I will have to remove Windows install Linux on it.

      Ah, the sweet sheer terror on their eyes!

      So far only a brother in love accepted and we're both much happier :-)

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: An even better solution

        From my recent cases of helping family & friends with their PCs:

        Setting up Linux on a PC to stop the infestations (little ones have not worked out how to shag Linux yet), payment in kind was a bottle of wine.

        Reinstalling Vista (against my better judgement, but they really wanted that), after getting them to spring for 4GB memory instead of 1GB it came with, result was 12 bottles of wine.

        1. El Zed

          Re: An even better solution

          '..payment in kind was a bottle of wine....result was 12 bottles of wine.'

          Hmm, interesting

          now, my last payment in kind for a similar service was a bottle of 30 year old Bowmore...if the going rate is 12 bottles for a reinstall of the old crap back, then this is probably the first time I hope and pray they'll want Windowswhatever reinstalled...

      2. Ian Moffatt 1

        Re: An even better solution

        Brother in love?

        Apart from that, cracking idea.

    6. Dieter Haussmann

      Re: Apparel Solution

      "I bought (and wear) a t-shirt to get the message over for this sort of thing."

      They usually think that's an ironic statement.

    7. N2 Silver badge

      Re: Apparel Solution

      Excellent idea, wonder if they do it in French as well?

      My solution is to say "yes, I can fix that, it will only take a minute, do you have it with you? I will put it behind the rear wheel of my Land Rover & reverse over it, as reverse works best for PCs, forward for iPads & anything else..."

      The conversation ends rapidly with a gasp & a "why did you say that" - Simply so I can stop talking about work & get back to enjoying myself/ vin rouge/ whatever I was doing beforehand.

      Works every time

  2. ukgnome Silver badge

    C'mon Dabbsy - you have had a week off.

    Having 2 is just greedy, unless you're having a spleenectomy or summink.

  3. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Took ages to convince my parents...

    that an electronic engineering degree was not a qualification for fixing Christmas tree lights.

    1. Tank boy
      Pint

      Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

      Nice. Are we related? I don't even have an engineering degree and my stepfather wanted me to climb up on a ladder to help him fix his outdoor Christmas lights. I may have been a power generation guy, but no, your power cord is in water, fuck that shit.

    2. Credas Silver badge

      Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

      "an electronic engineering degree was not a qualification for fixing Christmas tree lights"

      I think you'll find that it is, in the same way that a brain surgeon is qualified to remove a splinter. :)

    3. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

      >an electronic engineering degree was not a qualification for fixing Christmas tree lights.

      I used to know someone who thought it was TV Repairman School.

      To be fair, if people knew how IT worked on the inside - the solid state physics, the data encoding and encryption theory, the algorithm design, the metallurgy, the design psychology, the maths behind it all - they'd cower in the corner clutching their brains and screaming 'Make it stop!' over and over.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

        As I told someone today on site, a computer is a fearsomely, terrifyingly complex device capable of doing abstract tasks via the manipulation of mathematics and physics, with a shiny 'user friendly interface' on top.

        If you want a comparison, remember how many critical systems your car has - steering linkage, suspension arms, anti-lock brakes, electronic ignition control taking charge of the hundred of explosions per minute happening a couple of feet from your crotch. And you just get in it and drive.

        Now imagine all that complexity, and multiply it by two orders of magnitude.

        That's a computer operating system.

        So no, I can't just 'make it faster'

        Steven R

        1. moiety

          Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

          >So no, I can't just 'make it faster'

          Yes you can.

          1. Uninstall everything from Symantec or McAfee. FInd replacements if necessary.

          2. See what's starting up with the computer. Delete all the crap.

          3. A low-level pass with Malwarebytes or Spybot. Both if you're feeling keen.

          4. ???

          5. Faster! (On probably 99% of machines)

          1. sisk Silver badge

            Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

            >So no, I can't just 'make it faster'

            Yes you can.

            1. Uninstall everything from Symantec or McAfee. FInd replacements if necessary.

            2. See what's starting up with the computer. Delete all the crap.

            3. A low-level pass with Malwarebytes or Spybot. Both if you're feeling keen.

            4. ???

            5. Faster! (On probably 99% of machines)

            Alternatively, wipe Windows and install some minimalist Linux distro designed to run on computers built in the 90s, which will no doubt run faster than Windows on a modern machine. When they complain point out that you did exactly as they asked and made their computer run faster.

            Or get a bit of G scale model train track, build a track from the computer desk to the nearest window, and add some wheels and a largeish model rocket engine to the computer. That'll make it 'run' faster to.

            There might be a reason people don't bother me with computer problems when I'm in a bad mood.

          2. Steven Raith

            Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

            Moiety:

            A: Yes, you are correct that that will improve it's performance, however

            B: This is a machine i've worked on, I've done that already. Twice.

            There is no more for that machine to give. After all, there is only so much you can do with a Turion X2, 2gb of RAM and Vista.

            *shudders*

            Roll on a few years time when all old machines need is a cheap SSD to make them go like a rocketship again. Just need the £/gb to drop a little bit...

            Oh, and upvote for preaching, even if it is to the choir - amen brother!

            Steven R

          3. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

            "Yes you can.

            1. Uninstall everything from Symantec or McAfee. FInd replacements if necessary."

            My girlfriend's new computer came with Windows 8 (I know) and some pre-installed anti-virus thing, McAfee I think, and it was a 30-day trial. After two days of trying I managed to get rid of the anti-virus but there's still some HP encryption thing which isn#' even switched on but still won't uninstall. I just gave up in the end and told her to install Linux, a clean copy of Windows 7, or live with it. So far she's living with it.

          4. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

            Thumbs up for the Underpants Gnomes reference.

          5. David 14

            Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

            Depending on the specific products installed, If you uninstall Symantec or McAfee instead of simply changing the settings to make it perform better, you are doing a dis-service. These products are great in terms of cabability, but shite in terms of "out of the box" settings.

            My $0.02,

            David.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

              No, the out of the box settings ARE the optimal settings. Tweak ANYTHING and you'll only make it worse. Change it back to the original settings AFTER tweaking them and they still won't return to their original speed. No, you HAVE to nuke them from orbit. If nuking's not an option, I just declare the machine SOL. "That's as fast as it's going to go, it'll slow down over time, and not even nuking it will make a difference." I find Linux is a non-option because EVERYONE has some piece of software that MUST run on genuine Windows (WINE doesn't work on them), and they make THAT piece of software a prerequisite for a completed job.

        2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

          If you want a comparison, remember how many critical systems your car has

          I'm male, so people automatically assume I "know about" cars. No! It's a magic box that I understand how to give instructions to and how to avoid damaging. When people start talking to me about offset linkage and CVS cams and dip rates or whatever, I glaze over.

          "My car's failed it's MOT"

          "So, are you going to fix it"

          "What?????? Do I LOOK like a car mechanic????"

          "Oh, it's easy, you just need to remove the spelunks, and drop off the widgets and then replace to goonwashots, and then go to a scrap yard and look for a sling plunker".

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: If you want a comparison, remember how many critical systems your car has

            I'm a bit more up with the cars - I can tell when a bush is knocking - but I can't fix it because I'm hamfisted with anything bigger than a DIMM or a HDD.

            I'm often also wrong with my diagnosis. I thought a knocking noise was a bush, was actually a dead top mount.

            My mechanics loves me because I give him money and hilarious ideas of what's wrong.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

          In my experience, explaining what an order of magnitude is makes this exercise largely futile. Although I also suspect that as soon as I talk about anything other than football, all the other party interprets is:

          {~!@"£$&!$*&!("*%£...he's just saying something techy...try nodding...it will stop soon...!)~@{}"!{$%}~!}

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

            I do find that around the point where the eyes start to glaze over/wander/etc, telling them that if they want me to perform The Ancient Rites of Computery Magixx, they will have to furnish me with pieces of precious metals that I can trade for oxen.

            Normally snaps them out of it and gets them to either pay up (if they're interested), or fuck off (if they are looking for freebies).

            As I say, it's rare I get the option to go for gin and hickeys - although I'm hoping an opportunity is arising soon...

          2. sisk Silver badge

            Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

            {~!@"£$&!$*&!("*%£...he's just saying something techy...try nodding...it will stop soon...!)~@{}"!{$%}~!}

            I see you know someone who uses the same geekese translator as my wife.

      2. JulianB

        Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

        Wife's grandmother got some other grandchild to call me to fix her TV remote over the phone, because "Julian's in computers". Yeah, former mainly mainframe programmer, now a technical writer. To be fair, said grandchild knew I'd be no help and was happy to agree with me that going to a TV shop might be better.

      3. razorfishsl

        Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

        Yep ,

        I just make shit up….,( my bank still thinks I'm an airline pilot)

        Because otherwise you end up being told that their little Jonny is such a genius with computers and he did not even need to spend as many years studying electronics and computer science as us 'old timers', not to mention he is a genius programmer…..

        You can bet little jonny's code looks like he suffered from some sort of norovirus whilst writing it.

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

      >that an electronic engineering degree was not a qualification for fixing Christmas tree lights.

      Have the standards for EEng degrees dropped that much ?

    5. A Twig

      Re: Took ages to convince my parents...

      To be honest, if you an electronic engineer and can't fix a set of christmas lights I'd be worried ;) Although my standard response in the same situation was "Sorry, I only deal in mV".

      As a fellow Elec Eng, my parents now think that I am an Engineer of Everything - any problems with anything mechanical, electrical, plumbing, gas etc - you can fix it, you're an Engineer!

  4. Tank boy
    Pint

    Nicely played

    That was funny. I tell people that I know fuck all about computers and they leave me alone. Except the Mother-in-law, she's got a tin can on a string for interwebs, has every anti-virus software ever invented booting up with XP, wondering why her 'all in one' computer takes a day and a half to boot.

  5. Stuart Ball

    At least it isn't the Pox

  6. not_equal_to_null
    Thumb Down

    That's actually quite offensive...

    "...all I’m really doing is stuff that any retard could do..."

    ...Really?

    How about you reword that particular sentence so it isn't so offensive, and I'll continue reading this otherwise fantastic site.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's actually quite offensive...

      Get a grip man....

      FFS...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's actually quite offensive...

      Been on Twitter to complain about comparing girlfriends and Java apps lately?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's actually quite offensive...

      "...all I’m really doing is stuff that any person of limited intelligence who gets offended at the drop of a hat could do..."

      Fixed it for ya

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's actually quite offensive...

      Totally agree. I almost choked seeing a word like that on the Reg. Profoundly offensive.

      http://www.r-word.org

      1. GhostSeven
        Devil

        Re: That's actually quite offensive...

        Oh god a word.... no save me ... honestly context my man / woman / transgender / alien / not specific gender / twonk

      2. sisk Silver badge

        Re: That's actually quite offensive...

        Totally agree. I almost choked seeing a word like that on the Reg. Profoundly offensive.

        For context I spent half a decade working with mentally handicapped people in a place where the higher ups were horrifyingly politically correct (even the word 'client' was taboo when referring to the people who were paying us for services).

        Retarded is a medical term, as is the noun form of the word. Both were splashed all over our paperwork in that place, along with a veritable dictionary of other jargon from the world of medicine, because we had a complete medical diagnosis of each person we worked with. It's no more offensive in and of itself than 'leper', though using it as an insult is pretty uncool.

    5. John Sanders
      Devil

      Re: That's actually quite offensive...

      Shoo PC man shooo!!!!

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: That's actually quite offensive...

        @ John Sanders: Shirley the correct response to "A PC man" on this thread is to ask him to set up your eyepad

    6. David 14

      Re: That's actually quite offensive...

      To be fair, the vast majority of people do not even realize that "retard" is considered insulting to people with mental retardation.... probably because the term does NOT refer to people with real mental retardation, but rather to people who choose to not use their fully functional brains out of laziness.

      I avoid the term, not because I would be offending persons with mental development challenges, but because the Politically Correct police are always jumping down people's throats for reasons that are mostly benign.

      There are a couple of expressions used in my "neck of the woods" when a cashier short-changes you.... well, the one that is most common is that you were "giped" (gip, rhymes with tip)... I have also heard people say "jewed". I immediately found the second very offensive because it was an obvious slight on jewish folks and their supposed frugal money-management ways. So, I used "giped".... opnly to be informed after using the term for a decade, that this was a slight on Gypsies, and I was a horrible person for doing so.... I ask, though, how could I have been insulting to a group of nomadic people for 10 yeaqrs if I didn't even realize that the term was in reference to them?

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