no geek squad
Original image found over on Best Buy

Those who know me, know that my day job is in IT and that I’ve been doing this in some form or another for almost 25 years now [at multiple companies, I might add]. My official title is Network Administrator, with a special emphasis on email administration for the last 16 years, specifically Microsoft Exchange.

I also have a bit of experience in knowing MS Windows since the days of version 1.0 and can work my way around the various OS versions, with the exception of Vista, which I’ve not had much interest in knowing. I admit to liking Windows 7, though, as I silently praise it’s stability and ease of use.

But for those who really know me, know that all of my personal computing is done on a Macintosh for the last five years. In fact, I’ve been a Mac user since 1985, owning a Macintosh 512K [Fat Mac] and various other models over the last 25 years. It’s been my source of sanity for the many headaches I deal with on Windows for my job.

Which brings me to the subject matter of this post.

Can I Ask You A Computer Question?

I regularly get asked to help people fix their computers. Anything from removing a spyware or malware that’s taken over their computer, cleaning out a virus or two, saving their data from a failing hard drive, installing a new computer system, setting up a home network… pretty much any type of computer issue, I get asked and often.

And to be completely honest, I really don’t want to help. Especially if it involves Microsoft Windows. It’s nothing personal against anyone. It’s just that after working all day, the last thing I want to do is fix another computer issue. And most of the time, I don’t get paid for it. Sure I can demand payment and there are times where I do accept payment for my time and knowledge. But in the end, monetary compensation is not a motivation for offering my services. I honestly would prefer not to get involved at all.

Of course there are exceptions. Family, close friends and stuff that I can easily fix with a few simple commands or a program. Not a problem, so long as I don’t become your constant go-to tech guy each and every time something happens you don’t understand. Understand? Good.

Back in December 2008, I posted something similar, ranting about the people that I know that only call me when they have a computer issue. And while I still would prefer not to, I do help those that also remember that I am their friend to discuss other subjects other than fixing a borked desktop. Like going for drinks, talking about making videos, writing stories, gadget geek sessions and anything to do with movies and music. If I’m busy, I do my best to be honest and those who respect me and my time, are greeted with a smile as I offer to help them when I can.

For another take on what I said above, check out this wonderful, extremely funny and accurate scenario that the talented people at The Oatmeal have put together.

Not Always Reciprocal

Another side of my rant is that I rarely ask others for help. So if someone asks for my help, I could in turn, ask for their help with something. But I have no interest in scrap booking, nor do I wish for your help in mowing my lawn or for you to create a religious symbol that I wear around my neck. My rare need for help, when offered in exchange for my computer services, are almost always taken and very much appreciated. [the camera mount on my scooter and the light in our carport are two examples I can think of offhand] Which is why most people offer to pay me, which I’ve already discussed above.

Check List

So if you are in need of help with your computer, take note of the following before picking up the phone or sending that text or email:

  • Do you only contact me when your computer is broken?
  • Are you ok with me saying no, even if you offer me payment?
  • Do you need it fixed right away or can it wait until I can schedule it when it works for me?
  • Is there something that you know how to do that will be useful to me?
  • Do you use a Mac? [hint: I’m more open to helping with Mac issues]

If you can go down this check list and answer appropriately, then feel free to ask. If I’ve helped you in the past and it’s been easy or simple and at least 80% of our other conversations are non-computer fixing related, then send that email or text and I’ll see what I do. If I can teach you how to fix the problem, then that goes a long way with me. And of course, if I offer out of the blue, that means I really like you and am willing to help, with the expectation that the above is all respected.

Because in the end, all that I’m wanting is mutual respect and consideration when it comes to technical matters. Which also means, I won’t cringe when you call, email or text. I’ll smile and know I have a friend for life.