Computer Help Desk…




I program computers for a living. Well, I do that among other things, but my main duty is computer programming. To be more accurate I would be called an HMI (Human Machine Interface) programmer. I take field devices (level transmitters, motor status’, Start/Stop buttons, etc…) and place them graphically on a computer screen so that an operator can easily control the equipment he or she is responsible for. Sometimes I’ve even got to write scripts and such.

I often wonder why everyone thinks that I am some sort of computer genius. I’m not. Trust me on this. They believe I can track down virus’ like a police dog sniffs out cocaine. Everyone thinks I can troubleshoot hardware as easily as a Corvette mechanic can work on a lawn mower. They assume I can erase the porn off their hard drive as easily as…no, wait…I can do that one…

Okay, just to get some things straight, there are several different computer disciplines out there. Programmers, database guys, technicians, Web designers, auto cad draftsmen, just to name a few as there are probably a thousand other different niches. Asking me to remove a virus from your computer is about like asking a brain surgeon to do a heart transplant, not that I’m comparing myself with a brain surgeon. I mean, the guy probably has the general concept down better than any old guy off the street, but it doesn’t mean he would know exactly how to do it. I might be able to find that elusive virus and kill it, heck, given enough time I’m sure I would, but I’m not proficient at that particular discipline.

I’ve had folks say they are having trouble with their computer and ask me for help. No problem. Then, when I get the computer it’s some old Windows 3.1 station from the stone age. The side panel is long gone and the CD tray looks like it’s been used for a coffee coaster. When I ask what sort of problems they are having, besides the obvious, they state that it’s running a little slow on the internet. Wow. Could it be the 10K of RAM they are trying to use or the fact that their 20 meg hard drive only has 2K left? Maybe it’s the three inches of dust covering all the boards? Could the internet just not like their 1990 version of AOL? The possibilities for problems seems endless.

At this point I wonder if it is worth my time to fix a computer that you couldn’t sell for five dollars. Probably not, but how do you make the owner understand. I mean, this computer has been with them longer than their children. It’s outlived two sets of dogs and ten generations of hamsters. It’s been with them a long time and they are loath to be rid of it.

After a good going over I try to break the news to them as gently as possible as I hate to see grown people cry. I invite them over for a beer or six as this will soften them up for the bad news. When they can’t stand without swaying just a little bit and their words are slightly slurred I break it to them gently. “You’re little digital buddy has gone to that great Matrix in the sky.” If you’re lucky they are too drunk to care at this point, but you have to be careful and not go too far with the liquor. Don’t let them drink to the point where they are sick or you will have a big mess to clean up. Also, it helps if you know what sort of drunk they are. You don’t want to use alcohol on a CRYING DRUNK or you will just exacerbate the problem. A MEAN DRUNK is probably another one you don’t want to use this technique on.

Well, enough procrastination. I’ve got computers to work on…


~ by bretjordan on October 11, 2010.

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