Re: I am the only person working in IT who doesn't do tech support for their friends?
"I always tell them I make websites for a living... if they want help with their website I will see what I can do but I can't help them with their rubbish laptop."
I wish I could get away with something like that - but the problem is my mob (family in particular) have known me since long before computers were something the average Joe (i.e. they) could either afford or would even want. For me, they'd see it as the lie it is.
Funnily enough, though, on the subject of this slightly odd MS 'advice', I was fiddling with an XP machine yesterday, and I drew a somewhat cynical conclusion about something in the OS.
Specifically, the battery supporting the RTC had died - so whenever the computer started, XP would throw up an error about the clock not being set, and it was defaulting to 1/1/1980 (or 1/1/1980 for the benefit of any Overpuddlian readers).
The computer's owner (in fact my step dad, who I had let have the machine for a small sum when I resurrected it recently, when it seemed to be working fine) got a bit worried - understandably, given that he doesn't do technology at all - when he visited a website after the clock stopped working, and Firefox threw up a big scary warning about an invalid certificate.
I looked at the clock settings, and made sure it was set to synchronise with a time server - which I thought would solve the problem. It wouldn't do so, though, complaining that it couldn't synchronise the time, because the date was wrong.
My first thought? Piss poor programming: It should be setting the date as well as the time as part of that process. I then installed nettime, which does exactly that. So XP now throws up an error about the clock while booting, but once it's booted and connected to the internet, nettime puts the clock right.
My second, more cynical thought? I wondered if MS had deliberately opted not to only set the time, and fail to do even that if the date is wrong, so users of machines in that situation would go out and buy a new computer, which would (most likely) have a new copy of Windows on, thus equating to one more copy sold for them.
Meanwhile, the big scary warning has sufficiently frightened my step dad enough that he doesn't want the computer back, because I can't get it through to him that the big scary warning was the computer thinking there was something wrong with the website, rather than the website warning him that there was a security problem on the computer, which is what he thinks, so I've paid him back the sum he paid me for it.
Instead, he intends to look at second hand computers, and wants me to glance at any he might consider to see if they're okay - which means even more of my time. And I have to try to explain to him that the sort of once over I can give a computer in that situation isn't really sufficient, so I can't guarantee that a computer that I think seems to be okay after spending n minutes with it in someone's house, or a shop selling second hand tat, won't turn out to be a complete lemon when it's being used "properly".