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 …

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

I've helped my sports teacher at school when I was still there(ow that was 10 years or so ago) a few times getting something like 25e/whatever I was doing at the time(even post-chool I helped him a couple of times) and the guy voluntarily paid I didn't expect anything in return. As it was mostly staring at a reinstall most of the time it wasn't an issue. Beyond that helped fix something for a neighbour once but gotten no other unsolicited requests. My phone number is for my friends and family to contact me and nobody and I mean nobody else has it, especially work.

But yeah the bring it to me and I'll take a look approach definitely helps filter out those that just want some free help vs those that actually need help to fix it. We have an electrician in the building and he's a damn good one. But always when we ask him to help(not questions but actual work) we ask him how much we owe. Usually he won't charge much else but materials but I am always willing to pay him for any work.

Usually I don't get requests from coworkers about fixing their kit(other than during work hours and if they're lucky I'll have some time to do it) and my friends mostly have a clue what they're doing so yeah. Wouldn't be all bad to have a bit of extra work like this but as I haven't been using windows for over 10 years in anything other than professional - figure it out and get on with whatever you were doing - capacity I probably wouldn't be good at any such work anymore.

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Facepalm

I did IT support to help pay for training to be a lawyer. Criminal defence lawyer natch. Common question "How can you defend an iPad if you know its guilty. Now I tell them I'm a Jehova's Witness.

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Unhappy

I lie my ass off about what I do/did now, have done since I moved to a new town. I can actually eat my dinner in peace. It's a shocking experience.

I was an excited geeky teenager when I first started working in IT, and happy to share my experience with all and sundry, but after a few years of getting calls from people I only tangentially knew who never spoke to me when there wasn't a 'computer crisis' I simply stopped bothering.

Oddly I think it was family that broke me, I was working retail IT, the closest thing this side of hell I can think of, at the time, and I had knocked off from a terrible week, and my mother rung me on the way home, telling me to get out to my aunts house to fix her computer... I was hungry, I was tired, and still in my work clothes, so I drag my ass half away across creation (my Aunt lived about 30kms away), and I get there as they are sitting down to tea, and I'm shoved into the back room to fix a freaking printer. No offer of coffee, no offer of food, nothing, hell she didn't even have the decency to ask me herself, she called my mother to ask me, a woman half a freaking state away, because she knew I wouldn't say no to her.

After all was said and done it wasn't even a bloody emergency, just a broken printer that could have waited.

I think that was the point I started telling people "come into the shop" and "sorry, no, I don't moonlight".

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Two minds

I generally like to think that I did not really pay for my IT knowledge, training was provided, I got to learn on the job, and I also (used to) do it as a hobby, so (back then) it was fun, so in return I do not mind helping people out, some even offer to pay, I often refuse, just because I feel guilty, there was one time I did it as a job and people were willing to pay, but I found that these days there are so many hard up college kids that it is less hassle for me to tell them to go find a spotty nephew or niece to sort them out, that usually works, and besides most of the kids now are boomerangers so they live at home anyway, for be it from me to turn down potential payment,(unless family, they don't pay apparently it is your duty to them!) but to be honest it is not worth the seething hatred I know hold for my career... though it is usually more fun after a few beers, less productive, but more fun.

However if they catch me at work and I tell them to bring in the machine I don't mind looking at it if I have a slow couple of minutes 5 to 10 minutes usually gives me time to fix or tell them they need to reinstall, if it is hardware I tell them what they need they go and buy it and I will install, for that I usually get my usual payment of biscuits (cookies) and tea ( living in the land of the free I do not mind payment id olde worlde currency especially since I tell them where to buy it... not quite got to the real bacon yet but I am working up to it) However it does get tedious that as soon as the mouse cursor jumps an inch to the left for no reason they think they have a virus or their machine is broken and they call on you, family members are the worst, but I also find that family members ( and especially the kid) will whole heartedly argue with me about something they just asked me about, if you know so darn much, fix it yourself!

That said the same issue arises with all aspects, "oh your handy?" "I need a sink/bathtub/window replaced/fixed"... "I did not know you can do mechanics... my car has this funny noise" ... can you just rewire my [insert something here]..

I agree, I wonder what it is like for someone to be generally useless or has a job that is generally not transferable to regular life and never asked to do anything, (but then I seem to think that they must leave very empty and boring lives.)

Recently my answer to questions of my job/career have been... " I dunno" though I am tempted to say I am a co2 factory.

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Windows

simple really

Just tell people you're a "manager" - then nobody will expect you to be useful for anything.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: simple really

My favourite is that I nominally have the title of "assistant practice manager", which I never actually use at work in favour of "IT Manager", which actually reflects what I do. I use IT Manager at work.

If asked socially, I'm an Assistant Practice Manager which is true and even gives the impression that I don't even know enough to be a real manager. If pressed, I can always produce an impassioned and earnest lecture on how important elf and Safety is.

That repels most people quickly.

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PMSL

"Just tell people you're a "manager".........

F***king brilliant

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Unhappy

Re: simple really

didnt work for me. when i got promoted they just tried to get me to help them with their personal/financial problems as well as their PC ones ! Dilbert's "curse of competence" ?

i wouldnt have minded so much, but most times they were perfectly capable of finding the answer for themselves, but it was just too easy to ask me, instead of making an effort. lazy minds. when i was learning about IT there were very few people _to_ ask. i _had_ to find things out for myself, and i learned even more in the process.

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Funny enough Dilbert covered this a little while ago http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2013-03-17/

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Whenever I get the line "I hear that you work in I.T., I've got a problem with my PC", I usually reply "I'm a gynaecologist, I can take a look at your wife if you like...."

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Solutions...

Ah yes. All too recognizable.

I've got some ways of handling the problem.

1. My fiancée bought me a T-shirt that has the simple message "NO, I WILL NOT FIX YOUR COMPUTER FOR YOU' printed in large type on the front & back. I make sure I wear it to all events where I'm likely to meet friends of friends or other strangers who might assume I've nothing better to do with my free time.

2. As ribosome hinted, answer "Certainly, but my accountant insists I tell you that my rate is £100 per hour plus expenses."

3. Memorise the phone number for PC World or some similar outfit and say "Sure, call this number to arrange a time."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Solutions...

Actually no, that wasn't what I was suggesting (and I withdrew the post because I can't edit it.) I am genuinely unqualified to fix desktop computer problems, and as a professional person I won't do work for other people, even for free, that I don't feel qualified to carry out. I make an exception only if I know people very well.

My own home computers are run on a maintain often, backup frequently and avoid dodgy website basis, so I have almost no experience of actually fixing problems.

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Anonymous Coward

I go back to my parents for a mini-holiday quite often. When I do I have the whole pub and family wanting me to come round to get their ancient pc / scanner / printer / mouse / AV etc etc. I quickly realised that I was in fact having no holiday at all.

I had to respectfully tell my family that i am on holiday and everyone down the pub a flat £5000 fee applied. It is now respected that I am on holiday, even down the pub :)

I generally tell people I work on "networking" to avoid such requests.

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I may print this article off several times and distribute it to friends, family and neighbours.

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This is why the entry gate at Geek Hill has a sign that says "No, we will not fix your computer". I wanted it to say No Muggles but there was a compromise.

Steve

Geek Hill (dot) org

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Nice! I just read your demands for safe passage into your estate, brilliant. I have a t-shirt that has the formula of the airspeed of a unladen swallow, would you consider this cheating?

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Anonymous Coward

Dilbert

There is a Dilbert strip on my desk. A colleague tells him she will date him - just for a month until all her household gadgets are fixed.

He says "Will there be any kissing?"

She replies "What sort of girl do you think I am?"

More than a ring of truth. People want a nice, generous, reliable person as a friend - particularly in emergencies. For a lover they are often attracted to someone selfish and challenging. There must be a Darwinian benefit for someone. Cynical - moi?

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Trollface

"Can you take a look at my computer?" they ask

"I charge $125/hour." I reply.

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Re: "Can you take a look at my computer?" they ask

how about:"sure, make a picture and email it to me"?

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I have the same problem. I live in a disabled building full of people who have mostly cheap old computers (often received firm well meaning but technically inept charities) and no clue at all.

If they had their way I'd be fixing an endless stream of malware riddled old Dell office throwaways of 2001-2003 vintage. Now they come to me and ask for help and I tell them I offer two kinds of help, I'll help them buy a Mac, or I'll help them install Linux.

I still have the odd evening ruined, but only 2-3 times a month, and I have yet to have to reinstall anything.

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It's a marriage made in Maplins

I ph34r the co-dependency. I don't mind getting keen silver surfers equipped for the task at hand, and giving them a few tips about the innards of a pooter, sensible web practice, and suchlike, but the porntards, who habitually kak their underpowered pc world laptops by going to .ru wanksites every evening, get short shrift. They're too lazy and /or stupid to learn from their mistakes, and prefer to bellyache while someone else does their dirty work. Over and over again.

Eventually they'll find one of those "computer experts" who's taped a mismatched power supply on to their Xbox, because it was cheaper than replacing the blown one with a genuine part, even if it was a bit too big to fit inside.. Those relationships are great to watch....from a safe distance. Nothing ever gets permanently fixed, of course, because misery loves company.

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I used to have techies...

that would hit me up as I 'used to be' their mentor when I did MS Canada support. In fact I had one tech that had the nerve to follow me out to parking lot when I got laid off, he wanted to get my number to call me at home? I stopped using messenger and hotmail for this very reason. A neighbour or old person with a simple problem is one thing, but a tech wanting to know how to setup DNS, DHCP, and AD is way way out there. Or help setting up their website, from scratch ain't help. Now I do IT for a construction company and tell people I build scaffold and don't know Windows XP or Server 2003, I lie as I stopped doing MS support after Win2k and ME and make out that is when I stopped keeping up on computers, but i guess my overclocked phenom X6 would beg to differ ;)

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I tell tham I only know Linux. Or I'm an infrastructure architect. Or something completely opposite to what they want.

No-one expects a plumber or electrician to pop round and fix their stuff for free do they? I've got the brain the size of a planet but for some reason it's seen as if I enjoy doing my job (hobby?) and am only too eager to fix their (usually disgustingly dirty) shit for free.

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Silver badge

I just tell them that I'm a self-taught sex therapist.

Based on the fact that everyone I know tells me that when they want my f*king advice, they'll be more then happy to ask for it.

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Anonymous Coward

"I just tell them that I'm a self-taught sex therapist."

An Israeli old girlfriend proudly presented her new career business card in that line. She translated the Hebrew for me as "sexologist" in an accent reminiscent of Maureen Lipman. Cue laughing fit - saying "ooh - you got an ology"*

*Youngsters see the Maureen Lipman BT advert from 1987 on YouTube

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Silver badge

Payback...

... helping people often pays back, even if you don't expect it. I never expected to get anything but good karma from helping my neighbour with his PC. Maybe I've spent 10 hours doing it over the last 10 years?

Then my mother in law moved house and said I could have her summerhouse if I could work out how to get it to my house. My neighbour and his son spent one weekend dismantling it, stored it for two weeks on their premises and reassembled it in my garden the weekend after - everything from the slabs to the felting.

I think I'm suddenly in karmic arrears again!

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Re: Payback...

10 hours over 10 years is a pretty good ratio. I've had occasions when it's been 10 hours over 10 hours.

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Anonymous Coward

Silly article with unnecessary swearing

Just help people out when and where you can and stop wasting energy swearing and writing drivel.

Life's too short to be a lazy, unhelpful sod.

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Re: Silly article with unnecessary swearing

Arse biscuits.

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In response to the original article...

Amen, Brother, I feel your pain.

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offensive

"Retard" Really? You are definitely not a proper journalist if you still use antiquated and offensive words like that. Grow up.

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Re: offensive

Thank you Lucas - I thought for a minute that I was the only one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: offensive

I was afraid I was over-reacting to that word, but glad to see others see that as offensive too.

Also noticed the spelling mistake in the first sentence.

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Re: offensive

Please provide a list of words you don't like.

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Unhappy

Re: offensive

Work

Sober

Monday

Deadline

Feedback

Review

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Re: offensive

I'm not sure what you find offensive about this. Any retard could see that bothering an IT professional on his day off is offensive.

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Anonymous Coward

I always add a caveat

I tell them I'm s computer forensics expert. My price is a bottle of Château Neuf de Pape and I am trained to find all the things you don't want me to know about and if you have a problem will ages I will get you arrested.

I have drunk fine wines and a few computers never presented themselves.

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Alert

I don't do Windows.

That's what I say when I'm asked about supporting/fixing a PC. Quite simple really.

Two cases. both used windows and they called me at least once a year to 'fix their computer'.

I converted both to using Mac's and I've not had any calls since. Both families are happy with their systems and will probably carry on using them for a long time.

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Joke

Re: I don't do Windows.

Does Mac know they're using his computers?

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It's not all bad...

Some of my experiences...

There was the beautiful friend of a friend whose PC died and wondered if I could resurrect it and recover her pictures. I cloned the (corrupted) hard drive, fitted a new motherboard and installed Windows. Then as I copied back her pictures I realised she was in fact into glamour modelling. That one was worth it.

Then there was the guy who was a mechanic and happy to exchange time in a pit under my car for removing viruses from his laptop. The new suspension that the garage quoted £1200 for? That was about 4 hours and a 12-pack of Stella, plus £120 for parts.

Of course the old guy who my mother used to work for and who is bombarding me with emails about his unstable wireless is unlikely to repay in quite such a way as the first two, but you win some you lose some.

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I feel your pain!

" ...With almighty crashing inevitability, at least three of them are asking which laptop they should buy"

I now just tell them to pick one that they think is pretty and is within their price range as they can all do the ' I just want to surf the web and do emails and documens' things now.

Dear oh lor, I am soooo sick of that question.

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I experienced the same crap for the longest time until I started making my friends and family buy their computers from an official vender like Dell or HP. When something goes wrong I tell them to call tech support. I'm much happier for it.

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Dell refurbs

I recommend to my "clients" that they go to geeks.com or someplace like that, and buy a refurb Dell office machine (but NOT the ultra-small form factor ones!). When they say something about the Dell Inspiron they saw on sale at Best Buy for only $399, I bring up the page with Latitude laptops for $250 and tell them they're older but they will have far fewer problems with them. No complaints yet.

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Age <> decrease in learning ability.

When the first dot.com bubble burst I had to spend a miserable time doing PC tech support over the phone....

One day on old lady called that was 85 and the first time she'd used a computer was when she was 83. She had a problem with WinXP, so I asked her what she had done to try and fix it. She reeled off a list that I can only describe as what could have been a training manual for most of the muppets I had to work with.

Anyway after I'd helped her resolve the issue she said "Sorry, I'm not very good at computers thank you so much for helping". I replied truthfully that she knew more about how to fix a Windows problem than most of my colleagues and it had been a pleasure talking to her.

This contrasted strongly with the really, really rude old git that called because he bought a laptop that "won't f'ing work" when he took it out of the box. He hadn't worked out that you need to actually charge up a laptop by plugging it into the mains. I simply told him to take it back to the store, he asked "what for a bloddy replacement?" followed by some more aggressive rudeness. I replied "no, ask for your money back because your too fucking stupid to own a computer".

The moral of this little rant:-

1) Age is no excuse for being a rude aggressive old git.

2) The human brain does not stop being able to learn new things regardless of age.

3) Many oldies use their age as an excuse for not even fucking trying.

4) I'm more than happy to help my neighbours (mostly OAP's) that actually want to know how I fixed something but I'm not happy to just 'fix' their problem and then fix it again and again because they are too lazy to learn what to do 'next time'.

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Linux

I've had this happen twice

My brother and a couple who are close friends. Converted them both to Linux. I told them I could fix their PC, remove the malware ("My computer's running slowly") and reinstall Windows, but that it was highly likely they would be calling me again next month. Linux would solve all their (and my) problems, if they'd give it a try for a few months. If not, I would come back and reinstall Windows for them (because I convinced them to buy a larger HDD and set their old Windows one aside)

For the applications they needed to run on Windows (camera software and iTunes), I installed VirtualBox and a copy of WindowsXP. Firefox works on Linux the same way it works on Windows, and that's 90% of their use.

It was worth the gamble. Both are happy after several years as Linux users. I have had one or two calls, usually because a wifi link needed to be reconfigured or something minor like that.

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Happy

Thanks

The comments have been inspiring.

My new quick response will now be

"Oh great you are into the Barter economy, cool ! what are you offering?"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thanks

"Oh great you are into the Barter economy, cool ! what are you offering?"

Don't forget the taxman wants his cut of the payment in kind for barter transactions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thanks

Yes that's part of the idea, I don't actually want the work and if it requires an equal effort by the requester they will probably think twice.

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Linux

Linux...

I still have people who phone me at random times of the day to fix their computers, I have even changed industry working offshore with only a Sat phone and connection that makes a 9k6 modem look like a luxury item. Yet when I get back to land I still receive random calls about my mums, cats, granddaughters printer has a broken button and can I fix it over the phone?

Again when I was younger I would have been more than happy to help out, alas I was young and far too stupid to fix these things then..

..Must resist the temptation to throttle someone next time they ask for a little help.. ARGHH!

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