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A Letter On Behalf of the World's PC Fixers 638

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the and-stop-clicking-links-from-strangers dept.
Barence writes "PC Pro's Steve Cassidy has written a letter on behalf of all the put-upon techies who've ever been called by a friend to fix their PC. His bile is directed at a friend who put a DVD bought on holiday into their laptop, and then wondered what went wrong. 'Once you stuck that DVD in there and started saying "yes, OK" to every resulting dialog box, you sank the whole thing,' Cassidy writes. 'It doesn't take 10 minutes to sort that out; it requires a complete machine reload to properly guarantee the infection is history. No, there is no neat and handy way I've been keeping secret that allows you to retain your extensive collection of stolen software licenses loaded on that laptop. I do disaster recovery, not disaster participation.'"
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A Letter On Behalf of the World's PC Fixers

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  • Well, one more reason to take away the computers from every stupid person. Boy, that'll be the day of comfort and silence. Can't wait for it to happen.

  • Get over it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:39PM (#35424322) Homepage

    Newsflash: there are douchehats in every profession.

    Computer fixers deal with people who click 'ok' on all the addons their favourite 'free' download site suggests.
    Computer programmers deal with specs and users that want features they don't understand, and will never use.
    Mechanics who deal with people who figured the 'little oil can light' wasn't anything serious and kept driving.
    Accountants whose clients figure they didn't need to file their taxes for the last 3 years, or that it was acceptable to write off that hooker as a 'business expense'.
    Teachers whose students are dumber than bricks, and have parents who insist its your fault.

    If you don't like it, get a factory job.

    • Re:Get over it. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:51PM (#35424442) Journal

      Generally, programmers are not asked to program for free by relatives. With mechanics, people know they need pay, they generally don't ask for free services unless you are immediate family, or an old friend who owes them. Accountants never do anyone's taxes for free, and you wouldn't ask a teacher to tutor your kids for free. Do you see the difference? It's not the "people are stupid" part that's the problem, it's the "your skills aren't worth anything" part that upsets the PC fixer.

      • If the skills of a pc-fixer are worthless, why even ask someone to do it? If the fixer is as worthless as an ass wiper, why aren't as many people asking others to wipe their ass for them as there are expecting free anti-software support?

        • Re:Worthless? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:12PM (#35424698)

          I used to do it too, for everyone I knew, friends, work, family etc, and it got really irritating not only because they always called me at odd hours and any time they felt like it, but they also made the same damn mistakes. They aren't stupid, just unwilling, I mean, why bother learning something I show in five minutes, when they can call this idiot any time something goes wrong.

          So, I've stopped doing it, when someone asked, I use linux, my knowledge is out of date, I don't have time, and so on. Now, they only call me when they're truly desperate, deadlines looming, sensitive data in danger and so on, and they pay, oh yes, they pay.

        • well there's a reasonable response. Personally, if I think someone only wants to deal with me so I can fix their computer, I don't need them around. Plenty of people in the world enjoy my company and don't want PC help.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        As an accountant, I can tell you that I get asked all the time by friends and relatives if I can do their taxes for free...

        As an accountant however I never do anything for free...

        • by spun (1352)

          Right, and THAT is why we keep getting stuck with this crap: we keep doing it for free. Stop selling yourselves short, when someone asks you for free services, just say no.

      • I would say that part of the reason is that the tools needed to fix a PC are typically portable and/or highly available. If I need help fixing my car I need to find a friend with the right tools, and a proper place to do the work. Having a teacher tutor involves them spending a predetermined (usually) amount of time with a student and that typically resonates in a person's mind as an act that requires pay. I've found saying "no" helps a lot, as does being in a relationship since I'm no longer allowed to
        • Re:Get over it. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Maestro4k (707634) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @08:09PM (#35425266) Journal

          I would say that part of the reason is that the tools needed to fix a PC are typically portable and/or highly available.

          But this applies to other areas, the tools for working on cars (except really major repairs) are highly available and portable. Granted good ones cost a lot, but you can do minor things on your car (replacing spark plugs, changing oil, etc.) with stuff you buy at Wal-Mart. The difference is that you're paying a mechanic for their knowledge of how to use those tools. Why don't people realize it's the same thing for computers? Sure many of the tools are available for free, and are extremely portable, but knowing how to use them is the difficult part. It's quite easy for a novice to completely hose their computer using the same tools a skilled PC repair-person would use to fix it.

          Having a teacher tutor involves them spending a predetermined (usually) amount of time with a student and that typically resonates in a person's mind as an act that requires pay.

          So why do people not have the resonance when it takes 2 hours or more to repair their PC? And why do so many of them, despite obviously not knowing how to repair it themselves (or they wouldn't have asked you), seem to think it should have taken you only 10% of that time?

          No, the problem is a lot of people, for some strange reason, think because they can successfully turn their PC on and browse the web that they're qualified to judge how easy and how quickly people can fix their PCs. They won't do the same thing to mechanics simply because they can turn their car on and drive it around. They won't do the same thing to a tutor even though they can read and write. But when it comes to PCs, many, many people are total jerks to those they want (often darn near demand) fix them. And as any IT worker can tell you, this attitude transfers to the office as well. Everyone's encountered numerous employees who think you're taking too long to fix their PC, even though they have no clue what you're actually doing.

          But yes, a good solution is to say no. I only fix PCs for people who have treated me fairly in the past now. Everyone else I either politely put off (say I'm too busy, or I don't know what's wrong), or I just politely tell them I don't do PC repair. But I still boggle at the attitudes so many people cop when it comes to PC repair. It just makes no damn sense.

      • Says who? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:18PM (#35424768)

        I find that when you are kind to family and friends, they are kind back. I help people with computer issues and in return they help me in their skilled areas. My dad, while not a mechanic, has a great deal of automotive experience and worked in the industry many a year. He has helped my numerous times with car problems. A good friend who comes to me for computer advice has been plenty happy to help me with home improvement work, as a couple of examples.

        Part of being a family is helping one another in ways that you can. That can be emotional support, advice, using your skills, etc. Give and get. Now if the other party is someone who just takes and takes, well then ya they aren't someone who you help, or probably associate with all that much. However you find that in general if you are nice, other people will be too.

        I'm very happy to help friends and family and they are happy to help me. Works out well.

        • Re:Says who? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:30PM (#35424910) Journal

          And that's good advice. But you have to make a clear distinction between altruism and enabling co-dependence.

          There's the nice, sane, reasonably intelligent people (like your family) for whom providing a little technical support is non-onerous. Then there're the pinheaded droolers who rush from trojan to trojan, steal every bit of software they run, and plug USB cables into network ports...and make them fit

          The latter class far exceeds the bounds of kindness, unless your definition of kindness also extends to running down to the local crackhouse to pick up your brother's latest order.

          Some people shouldn't have computers any more than they should have children or any kind of metabolic protection against intoxicants.

        • Re:Says who? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:32PM (#35424940) Journal

          Ah, well, it sounds as though you have a good reciprocal relationship with your family and friends, where you help each other with things in your area of expertise. If that is the case, by all means pitch in. Cooperation is wonderful. The problem comes if you don't have reciprocal relationships, i.e. they ask for free computer help, but come moving day, they and their truck are nowhere to be found. I believe THAT is what the article is complaining about.

          • I find (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Sycraft-fu (314770)

            That most geeks are the problem in that situation. Geeks in general seem to have less social skills and social graces than most people. They also seem to get a bit big-headed about their abilities and computers in general. Their attitude is "You should know that," and "RTFM noob." They feel put upon and act like martyrs when someone has the audacity to ask them for help.

            Well guess what? Act like that and it shouldn't be a surprise people aren't so nice. Even if you do help them, if you are abusive about it

        • Re:Says who? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:39PM (#35426456) Homepage Journal

          My son's orthodontist office called me in a panic one afternoon: "Can you fix our network, like, today?" Long story short, I now handle whatever computer or networking problems they have in barter for my boy's braces. I'm thrilled to death to get a price break on their services and they feel the same way. It's a great arrangement that I hope to continue for a long time.

      • Re:Get over it. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sdguero (1112795) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:25PM (#35424832)
        I've found that people who are "PC fixers" and work for free, tend to screw up more than they fix.
        • by spun (1352)

          What, you mean rebooting it and reinstalling the operating system is not the first, last, and only solution to computer problems?

          • by b0bby (201198)

            What, you mean rebooting it and reinstalling the operating system is not the first, last, and only solution to computer problems?

            It's the best solution to malware ridden machines - you can't be sure you've really cleaned all that crap off. And malware problems are the ones that I see mostly these days. My rule of thumb is "would I be happy visiting my bank on this machine?". If no, wipe it.

      • by vlad30 (44644)

        Generally, programmers are not asked to program for free by relatives. .

        I've lost count of the number of web sites I've been asked to do because I'm a programmer and this should be quick. I point them to the many web site programmers that do entire web sites for $99 and kindly point out that I'm in the middle of a big project and won't be able to do it for 3 months. After 3 months experience elsewhere they are usually willing to pay the proper rate. if not wash rinse repeat.

    • Re:Get over it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:52PM (#35424448)

      Mechanics who deal with people who figured the 'little oil can light' wasn't anything serious and kept driving.

      Mechanics generally draw the line at fixing the results of that for free. Yet computer repairers are often expected to do exactly that.

      • A computer is a heck of a lot easier to fix than a screwed up engine. Id be willing to bet that if steve had fired up GMER, or Combofix, or one of Kaspersky's dedicated removal tools, the issue could have been resolved in less time than it took him to write his rant about how stupid she was for not understanding something that clearly isnt her area of expertise.

        I tend to get friends and family who give me dinner or gift cards etc when i fix their machines; but perhaps not being a total douche about it has

    • Re:Get over it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Macgrrl (762836) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:52PM (#35424452)

      If you are doing this professionally, fine. You're getting paid to deal with the headaches, you generally get paid an hourly rate to sort it out.

      The referenced article refers to someone telling a friend that their problem is not something they can fix in 10 minutes for free. I feel this is totally reasonable.

      Ive lost count of the amount of free support I gave to friends and family when I used to fix computers for a living. Some of it I was happy to do either due to the relationship I had with the person or the amount of good will they had generated through our personal history. Others were imposing on what was little more than an acquaintance to avoid paying a professional when they had no intention of ever repaying the favour.

    • Re:Get over it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:56PM (#35424500) Journal
      I think the point of particular bitterness, for the "computer fixers" is that there is something about computer fixing that seems to completely annihilate the social norms concerning asking people to exercise their job and/or job-related skills for free, because of some(sometimes rather tenuous) interpersonal connection.

      When it's strictly business, lousy customers and messy problems come with the territory. For whatever reason, though, anybody whose profession remotely touches computers(even if your background in SAN architectures makes you no more qualified than anybody else to reload windows on a hosed box) is liable to be asked to perform a multi-hours slogging match under impossible constraints by assorted acquaintances and relatives of some distance...
  • Working for free (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:41PM (#35424340) Journal

    My brother, who isn't averse to saying "you can fix my computer", is a truck driver. Next time he comes to visit me while on vacation I'm going to get him to haul some furniture for me. I wonder if that will be enough to make him get the point.

    • My brother, who isn't averse to saying "you can fix my computer", is a truck driver. Next time he comes to visit me while on vacation I'm going to get him to haul some furniture for me. I wonder if that will be enough to make him get the point.

      What did he say when you told him you didn't have time?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MickLinux (579158)

      Maybe you could wait until you really *do* need some hauling, and then pay him double for the gas, his labor being "in the family (free)". Paying double for the gas should help cover maintenance, I figure.

      Maybe there shouldn't be a point being made.

    • by blair1q (305137) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:20PM (#35424782) Journal

      People with social skills know enough to expect a favor in return when asked to do a favor.

      Frankly, if your brother is a trucker and you haven't already built up a stack of favors you owe him for hauling your shit around, you've been wasting the privilege.

  • I remember the days when most PCs got their viruses from removable media...

    -jcr

  • "You must be this intelligent to ride the internet. ------>"

    Oh, and the "gas gauge" indicators in MS Windows (for example, when installing software), perhaps we could get something like:

    "Your wait from this point: 20 minutes"

    And somebody please tell me why my hard drive heads are parked someplace called "Tigger 14" . . .

  • I Play Dumb (Score:5, Informative)

    by Petersko (564140) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:49PM (#35424420)
    It's been 13 years since I did front-line support for home PC's. Back then I spent a lot of time fixing the computers of my relatives.

    When I got a job writing and supporting industrial software for a pipeline company I started getting "out of touch" with home systems. Requests for assistance started getting replies beginning with, "I don't know if I can help - I haven't really done that kind of work in a while." Horse crap, to be sure, but it worked.

    Now I help my parents when they need it, and recently I replaced a keyboard in my sister's laptop - but requests from cousins, aunts, and uncles have long since stopped.

    Play dumb. It Works.
    • I sort of went along this line, I actually stopped using Windows altogether after a bug in Billy G's software caused it to think that my legitimately purchased copy of Windows was pirated and Billy G made me jump through hoops to use what I paid for. Since I haven't used Windows in years I actually don't know all that much about that POS and tell people so. They eventually stop asking me after I repeatedly volunteer to install Linux on their machines. I tell them that if they had a real OS then I could h
  • by Atroxodisse (307053) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:53PM (#35424466) Homepage

    As a person who has fixed more relative's and friend's computers than I care to mention I have to say I think we need a union.

    On a related note, I remember one time, about 10 years ago when I was working at a small PC shop. A customer came in and their windows install was hosed. The owner's daughter was the one who used the computer most. This 16 year old did her best to use her 'wiles' to convince me to somehow transfer all of her warez to the new install I was going to do for them. It was so easy to say no. I hope I held back my smirk well enough. Pay for your software.

    • As a person who has fixed more relative's and friend's computers than I care to mention I have to say I think we need a union.

      Or you could just say "no, take it to xxxx shop", or "Gladly, my rates are $xxx per hour."

  • I quit using PCs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:56PM (#35424496) Homepage Journal

    And switched to Linux/Solaris/NetBSD. Now I can claim ignorance when presented with some Windows related issue. And people quit asking for my help when I started suggesting they try Ubuntu instead.

  • My solution is simple: I refuse to touch Windows machines. The help choices I offer are:

    1) I'll install Linux on it for you

    2) I'll help you choose an appropriate Mac for your needs

    No takers on either so far, and I don't often get bothered.

    I went a little more in depth with my wife's cousin's wife, whose kids had installed Limewire and who knows what else on it and whose trial version of Norton had come with the computer and had expired over a year prior: I can't fix this, it's Windows and would be a bit ou

  • XKCD (Score:3, Funny)

    by jgtg32a (1173373) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @06:59PM (#35424544)
  • Correct target? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:05PM (#35424626)

    How about a screed against his fellow technical people?

    You know, the one who *create* the malware and junkware and root kits and junk operating systems and whatnot.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:10PM (#35424680)

    Have you tried turning it off and on again?

    If that does not work, get a copy of the tech support script from... well, pretty much any tech company in existence. Then read it with a sloooooow ruuuural draaaaawwwl. If they interrupt you, then look confused and start over at the beginning.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:17PM (#35424756)
    I've been able to "negotiate" some ground rules for doing family tech support.
    1. If I say "it's fucked", it's fucked. I don't do miracles.
    2. If it's a program I've never used before, I'll click around for a few minutes to see if I can guess it. After that, I'll hand you the manual, and let you figure it out yourself.
    3. When I say "don't use ___, use ____ instead", you do it. I've been able to switch most of my family away from IE and MS Office this way.
    4. I don't work with printers. Period. If necessary, I (somewhat-jokingly) claim it's for religious reasons, as "only the devil is evil enough to be responsible for printer drivers."
    5. If I hop onto a browser to search for a solution, I will disable any toolbars that are taking up all your browser screen space. Without even being asked. You're welcome.
    6. If I've been at it for over an hour, and have made no progress, I reserve the right to give up.

    I suggest setting these down yourself, if you're frequently called upon to help. Generally, I've found it actually makes people slightly happier with you - apparently, placing more value on your skills makes others value them more as well.

    • by rbochan (827946) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:46PM (#35425080) Homepage

      7. Oh, and YOU buy the beer.

    • by Cloud K (125581)

      God, number 2

      If it's a program I've never used before, I'll click around for a few minutes to see if I can guess it. After that, I'll hand you the manual, and let you figure it out yourself.

      You do right. Translation of the original request: "Learn this software for me, because I can't be bothered".

      Happens all the time. Because I "know about computers" I must know exactly how to operate every piece of software ever written, instinctively!

      It's probably that we can stay calm and rational and think logically instead of going "OMG PANIC DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, DURRR", it just blows the mind that this is so difficult for so many people. Sit someone in front of a computer - all willin

  • I concur (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Velex (120469) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:30PM (#35424914) Journal

    I used to do computer work for females at work, since I considered it a friendly gesture. (I'm not terribly attracted to girls, btw, most times I was looking for friendship.) Then I noticed that after the work was done, just like straight guys have found, you get entirely shut down. I noticed there were two things going on: 1.) the girl assumed that I was fixing her computer because I was interested in her tits and 2.) actual attraction to said tits has nothing to do with it, i.e. there's nothing I was doing wrong like drooling all over her.

    I don't fix anyone's computers for free anymore. I started telling the girls at work that it would cost $100 per hour for a minimum of one hour for me to even look at it, and they stopped asking after about the 3rd time.

  • by eepok (545733) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:43PM (#35425054) Homepage

    As the guy who receives these infected and mistreated computers in my large circle of friends, family, and co-workers (and then combinations thereof), I have to say: If you have a problem fixing any computer, just don't fix it.

    I've gotten such severely infected systems that I spend the greater part of my weekend cleaning said infections and uninstalling malware only to pop in a couple spare sticks of RAM or an old video card (where there was once only on-board video). Why? Because I like the people around me and I like to make sure the quality of life is good... if not better than what it was. Seriously. I care about my friends and coworkers and friends of coworkers and coworkers of friends. If they need help and I can help them, I'm going to do it.

    Just remember to do a full write-up of all the actions you did:

    --Quote the number of infections
    --Install as much free/open-source alternatives to their malware-ridden pirated software as possible
    --List the names of the software and describe what they do
    --List some "best practices" for real-world computer usage.
    --Let them know that you do this so their lives can be easier and so they have to spend less money now and in the future.

    Put that write-up on the desktop and give a mini-presentation to the owner before they retake the computer. They'll appreciate the education, they'll appreciate the free utility and any upgrades you surprise them with, once they understand the effort involved in the service a friend provides for free, they'll appreciate /you/.

  • by lunchlady55 (471982) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:46PM (#35425076)

    Dear [Insert Name Here],

            I completely sympathize with your situation, but I will not touch your computer. First off, I can't 'just take a look at it.' If I take a look, I promise that I will find things wrong with it. And then, inevitably, you'll ask me to go from 'just looking' to tweak it. Then after tweaking, full on, sleeves rolled up, virus killing, settings-changing, registry-editing, repair mode. Which is what you wanted all along, isn't it? You don't want me to take a look, you want me to fix everything that's wrong, speed it up, clean up your files and complete advanced maintenance tasks which you can't even pronounce, let alone perform properly.
            It's a fifty-fifty shot on whether I can fix the computer. I'm not really dealing with 'a computer' here, what I'm dealing with is the combined stupidity of every Redmond employee and every developer, decision-maker, and contractor that worked on any piece of software on your computer. Because the thing starts up and POSTs just fine. I'm the poor sap who has to figure out what .dll isn't being found by what .exe, which isn't running when another program expects it to be and fails silently with no log file that cascades into a waterfall of failure that rivals Niagara on a good day.
            And that's only if it's a real bug! You've probably downloaded cracks, and serial numbers (I see you've got the complete Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Edition installed, that's only $2600, I'm sure you bought a legal license...) and oh, what's this, 13 toolbars in IE! Bonsai Buddy! Password Saver Online! I'm sure all these are totally legit, and none of them are software deliberately trying to mess up your computer. That's a whole other ballgame, not poorly designed software but maliciously designed software that will make you part of a botnet, steal your passwords and let someone watch everything you're doing in real time. I'm sure that's going to be really easy for me to clean up, because I'm an expert in the intricate, retarded, ineffective internal design of the Windows security model.
            Let's even say I manage to get your computer into some semblance of working order, after five or six frustrating hours (while you watch TV and relax after your hard day at the Dress Barn.) Pray tell what will I get in return? Maybe if you're generous twenty-five, fifty bucks tops? Not even enough to fill up my gas tank. Would you do something frustrating, something you consider vile and degrading, for $5 an hour after you just got out of a long day of work making way more than that and being much less frustrated and degraded? Let's put it this way, what if I walked up to you and asked, "Hey, why don't you do my laundry? C'mon, most of the time you're not even doing anything, the machine does all the work. And make sure it's folded right! How about you scrub my floors on your hands and knees while I watch from the couch? No? OK, make me some dinner. Nothing too special, just a standard egg and cheese souffle, lobster thermadore in a white wine sauce and chocolate mousse for dessert." You'd answer "No?" Wow, what a surprise.
            But besides the insulting pittance and the degradation, what I'm sure you'll give me is the blame if anything ever goes wrong with anything on your computer from now until eternity. (About that dinner, don't worry, I'll buy the parts, er.., ingredients. But I'll blame you if you break a dish or the stove goes out two months later.) Because I messed with it. That's because nothing ever breaks, everything is forever and entropy is just a made-up word. (Who am I kidding, you don't know what entropy is.) That's my thanks for fixing the computer.

    On second though, how about I don't fix it and I save myself a huge fscking headache and you keep your fifty bucks?

  • by Sarusa (104047) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @07:54PM (#35425148)

    UAC works fairly well for this in Win7 /if/ you can get away with not giving them an admin account. Just like not giving root on the linux box. I've done this for two sane people, set up autoinstall of updates (including Windows defender), and so far no problems.

    Of course you usually can't get away with that because users really really want to install that cool malware. And by users I mean family members.

  • by buback (144189) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @08:49PM (#35425546)

    With the cost of pc being so low, it's pretty hard to ever justify taking a system to a professional fixer. Most people just decide it's time to upgrade and throw out the old system.

    Now, some people genuinely need a new computer as the last time they've upgraded was 2001, but most of those parts are more than usable.

    i have lots of good, usable parts left over from upgrades. Eventually, i put enough parts together to reassemble the system and pass on to a relative, which always ends up being an upgrade for them. For those systems, I give free support, since i don't want to see a good, usable computer end up in a landfill. for everyone else i expect something, and charge by how much i like them or how much work it will be for me.

  • by Kittenman (971447) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @09:11PM (#35425704)
    I support about half-a-dozen PCs in the neighbourhood - nothing less than Windows XP. Most of them are PCs I've provided (ex-work) or advised on. The people are appreciative, and I usually end up with a bottle of wine or two afterwards.

    I've told one family, when asked, that I don't install a cracked product. They stopped asking me for help. That's great!

    I don't install file-sharers - LimeWire's popular here. If they want to, up to them but they can figure it out. And I'll clean it up next time 'round and get two bottles of wine from Dad for the labour.

    Worst I've seen is when I cleaned up (reformatted) one PC, then had to do it again as the teenager had wrecked it within a week. I sat with her once while she went to a website and clicked "ok" to everything that got between her and the screen she wanted. All the time keeping up a stream of chatter. 'Did you read that message?", I asked. "No", she said. The family went to a Mac within a year, because "PCs just don't seem to work for us", the mother said. No shit.

  • by MadMaverick9 (1470565) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:43PM (#35426478)

    I am very surprised that nobody has said that this yet.

    Number one rule: never login as Administrator (or root), unless you need to do maintenance. Playing a dvd is not maintenance.

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/aaron_margosis/archive/2004/06/17/157962.aspx [msdn.com] "Why you shouldn't run as admin..."

    So a message to all pc-fixers out there: if your friend does want the automatic login, make sure it automatically logs in to an account that is in the "Users" group. And you could even go as far as not giving the Administrator password to your friend.

    If users log in as Administrator when all they want to do is surf the web, write some email, write a document with MS Word or play a dvd. Then do not blame Microsoft if your pc gets hacked. It's your own fault.

    This particular article by Aaron Margosis was written seven years ago.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:02AM (#35426858) Homepage Journal

    I'm 'retiring' from fixing other people's computers. It's not worth the headache. I have two machines that I have already agreed to fix, after that. If I'm not having sex with you or your mother, it's extremely unlikely that I will ever be fixing your computer.

    LK

  • by FoolishOwl (1698506) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:05AM (#35426870) Journal

    The rant was concerning a security problem -- specifically, an unprincipled and careless user installed a lot of dodgy software, got burned, and took the techie's help for granted. The user's behavior is consistent: it's clear she doesn't think about the welfare of others or the consequences of her actions, so it's no surprise that she's ungrateful for the techie's help, and doesn't appreciate the amount of work involved.

    I love helping friends and family with computer problems -- but the problems I get are requests for help in installing a hard drive, configuring a printer, or figuring out how to use some software. I usually get generous thanks for helping them.

    The author of the rant needs to deal with his real problem: he has lousy friends. That the immediate problems were computer problem is incidental.

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