” I.D. Ten T.” This is one of my favorite tech jokes. The premise is that two helpdesk people conversing on the phone, one is remote, the other is with the end user.
“Yep, it’s an I.D. Ten T. error” the tech with the end user will tell the second. Written out, the error code becomes – “I D 10 T” (or if you still don’t see it – ‘IDIOT’).
You all know a tech support person. They may not work as a tech support person, but in your life, they are the person you call when your computer (assuming a PC here) isn’t doing what it should – or at least what you think it should be doing. I play that role with many people I know. There are many evenings spent discussing computers problems or stops after work, or on the weekends to look at, install, uninstall, tweak, backup, restore, repair, reply, burn, download, delete, diagnose, quarantine and, sometimes, confirm a piece of hardware will be moving on to the next electronic recycling program…
“End Users”, the people using the software, are constantly ridiculed within the tech industry. Working in the tech industry, I am amazed on the lack of understanding of Windows by both technical and non-technical people.
So – to avoid an “I-D-10-T” Error, here are my suggestions:
- Don’t say NOTHING works unless its true. “Nothing works” means you have a power issue – first step is make sure things are plugged in. If you can’t get into windows then something must work for you to know that.
- Errors are important, tell your techsupport person if you have received one. Machines aren’t great communicators but when they do its usually pretty important so its important to let them know there is an error BUT…
- Don’t read the entire error message – unless asked to do so, a brief summary is usually sufficient. But some people insist on reading all 15 lines of the error message (Exception: this did mess me up with Phil when he found some spyware on mom’s computer and the installed malware was a print driver that was called “Absolutely Bogus Printer Driver“)
- If you think you may have clicked on something you shouldn’t have, admit me. We don’t care if you were at a porn site – we’ve all been to one or two of those sites – it could save us both hours of wasted time.
- Advice: DON’T click on anything you’re not sure who its from. Really! All the techies say it and that’s because its true. IF you click on something you shouldn’t and you’re faced a decision (“Would you like to install?”) DO NOT click on a button – ANY button – instead use the red ‘X’ in the upper right corner. Despite what the buttons are labeled, both button mean ‘Yes, install your malware and mess up my computer’.
- BitTorrents (Peer-to-Peer, or P2P) are easy ways to get free stuff (mp3’s, movies, etc.) but they are not to be trusted. I know Limewire is a favorite among kids for music but be sure your spyware and virus are current and up to day. Its like paying for your drinks with raw steak in a tiger’s cage. And you wonder why the kids get mauled? A kid once told me that Limewire does not affect laptops. “Now I know why tigers eat their young!”
- Spyware and Viruses are two different things. ‘Current’ and ‘updated’ are two different things. You could, and should, have two different spyware protection programs. I recommend Spybot and Ad-Aware as free programs. Keep them ‘current’ – meaning you have the latest versions of the program. Also, keep them up to date – meaning they have the latest listing of malware programs to protect you from.
- For virus protection programs, most (and I think all) ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) provide free virus protection programs. No one wants you to get a virus. If fact, it means more work for all of us. We have Comcast for our ISP. They currently offer a free version of Norton. AT&T/Yahoo offer a free version of McAfee. You will need to log into you accounts to get them. If you need different program, I recommend Avast! (fyi – do not use the CNET download button, its an ad!). Same rules – keep your program current – meaning the latest version of the software and keep your program up to date – meaning the latest version of virus definition patterns. First thing I will do you make your stuff is current and up to date.
- Backup your data! Yea, more stupid advice that no one listens to but believe me it will happen to you. I once lost a new data drive 6 months after I bought it. My brother lost his external drive when it fell off his desk. I use Syncback. However, this program is not free – its $30 and you can put it on up to 5 pc’s (that’s $6 a PC). Do it and some day you may thank me.
- Finally, if I do work on your computer, don’t call me up and complain about my work. I don’t charge for working on computers (though I have taken beer for work I’ve done). It worked when I left. If you do pay for support, keep in mind they will make sure it works. Sometimes that shortest distance is a complete reinstall (see #9). And if I leave a note in your startup folder that pops up everytime you start your computer – that just means I like you.