Most technical professionals have them — friends and neighbors who arrive bearing slow, non-functioning, virus ridden, crap-ware stuffed, antique computers and a helpless look.
Don’t get me wrong — I love helping people and sharing knowledge, but I also know that in this business, good deeds seldom go unpunished.
I may gladly recommend an anti-virus or a free office suite. I’ll show you how to make Window’s 10 look like Windows 7, how to format a drive, burn a CD, deal with ZIP files and maybe even hook up your wireless.
The only way I will touch your computer, however, is to wipe it clean, reinstall and update your operating system and drivers, and I’ll hesitate to do that, and then only in return for Chocolate and/or lawn, gardening and handyman services.
Before anyone I know gets offended, you know I’m not talking about you, but those other hapless souls who consider a one-night hook-up to be a lifetime commitment.
Once you touch one of ‘their’ electronic devices, you’ll start getting more blame than George Bush.
- “It didn’t do this before you fixed it!”
- “Where are my passwords, grandma’s recipes, my eBooks, pictures, solitaire scores, etc.?”
- “But I needed that file for work and I only deleted it a few days ago?”
- “I can’t post to Facebook!”
- “It got slow again!”
When I turn over their keyboard and it’s like emptying the crumb tray on a toaster, it’s not my fault that it skips th low r cas l tt r “E”
“I just want to check my Facebook/Twitter/Email account for a second,” is usually how it starts. Standing in some poor geek’s door with the aforementioned helpless look is how it usually ends.
When someone turns off their anti-virus because it keeps asking them irritating questions, like “Quarantine Infected File?,” it’s not my fault when everything slows to a crawl and random stuff starts to disappear.
No, I will not upgrade Windows XP to Windows 10 on an Eight year-old brand X laptop, and even if I would they would have to pay for a licensed (aka legal) copy.
If it has Windows Vista or Windows ME on it, don’t even ask. If you have to ask why — don’t ask.
Tell the truth about the origin of the machine. In the DC area, many used computers have origins with the government and/or government contractors.
If a machine that crosses my path traces back to a classified commercial or government/military agency, or should I stumble upon ‘hinky’ looking National Security related content, I will investigate the chain of ownership.
On occasion these investigations raise Red flags with various three-letter agencies and end up in a lot of inconvenient paperwork.. Even if I could tell you about some of the stuff I have found on ‘recycled’ Beltway PCs you wouldn’t believe it..
If your machine contains pirated software, stolen programs, illegal or other personally incriminating evidence I will contact you regarding your desired method of disposition and/or disposal, and comply with your wishes.
These machines are where I usually find three, four or more so-called “Free” diagnostic and repair programs that they’ve already installed in a noble, but misdirected attempt to solve their problems.
Each of these “repair” programs adds its own start-up scans, update checks, adware toolbars and crap-ware, further slowing the machine. The more they try to “automatically” fix it with some new but competing miracle utility, the more disconnected and corrupt the registry becomes.
Even more start-up items, browser tool bars and junk-ware in general keep piling on until every nook and cranny of the system is jammed with competing, CPU cycle consuming, memory hogging, pop-up producing and often outright dangerous digital sludge. Soon the boot time keeps increasing until the Geek gets the inevitable call.
When talking to the Geek, don’t lie about things like “I didn’t do anything, it just suddenly started …,” and “No, I never download software.” We are all human, and screw up on occasion. This is complicated stuff, and it’s not instinctive nor intuitive.
I do not judge, because I have probably been there.
Sometimes a brick is a brick!
Before you toss that old computer, however, try loading it up with Ubuntu Linux. Some say that Linux is the best operating system on the market.
If you do this, you might be able to squeeze another few productive years out the that antique, especially as a machine for the kids.
On a Related Note
- Know where the computer came from. If I find conclusive evidence of a felony committed, or in progress on a yard-sale, eBay or “found” computer, I am legally bound to report it, and supply the corroborating information to legal and/or military authorities. FWIW, so are you!
See “Yes – We Do have a Rat Your Neighbor Law“
- I may know how to hack [insert system or software here] but as much as I like you, I’m not committing a felony on your behalf.
- Yes, I can bypass the protection on your [DVD, Software, etc.] but that’s also a crime. I may love you dearly, but with services like Netflix, you shouldn’t have to pirate Movies and TV shows, so no, I won’t burn you a copy of whatever.
- Please, is 99 cents too much to pay for a song you’ll enjoy for a long time?
- No, I will not remove the photographer’s copyright, proof notice or watermark, and even if I would it would cost more than buying the prints from the photographer..
- No, I will not install spy-ware or censorship software on your kid’s computer for you.Nothing personal, it’s just a matter of principle.
- You should have a ‘grownup’ computer for work/business/household, and another dedicated game system for games.
- Home gaming systems (X-Box, etc.,) are getting better in the Price to Capability ratio. Newer ones handle email, Web surfing Netflix, Facebook and most anything else the typical kid (of any age) can throw at it.
- Keeping the two systems separate will save you many times the cost in frustration, aggravation, improved security and less friction on the domestic front.
And that’s the view from Egg Manor
aka The Original Eggman
Accept No Imitations