Friday, December 20, 2002
If I was a computer whiz, if I knew all about most software and a lot about hardware, I'd go into business for myself. Here's what I would (and would not) do:
1. I'd make house calls. For $50 an hour, I would come to your house and help you figure out how to set up new software/hardware, I'd test it to make sure it was working right, and then I'd teach you how to use it. For someone who knows what they're doing, that should take about an hour, maybe two. When I need computer help, I don't want to talk on the damn phone to some smartass who is really not all that interested in helping me, and who has zero teaching ability to start with. I want someone to sit me down at the computer and say, "First you click here...then there...fill in that little window...click here...Now here you have two options; if you do #1, you get this, if you pick #2, here's what happens..." Someone to TEACH me!
2. I would NEVER (EVER EVER EVER EVER!!!) start a sentence with, "All you have to do is..." If a person has to call a computer whiz, they haven't gotten to "all you have to do is..." yet, and it's boorish and insulting. When anyone I know--even people whom I love--start their answer to my question about how to do something on the computer with "All you have to do is..." they don't realize how close they are to a horrible, painful death.
3. When I arrived at your computer, I would NOT take one look at your desktop screen and say, "Wull, why the hell is *that* there? You don't need that! Here, I'll just..." and then start messing around with *your* layout or selection of programs, icons, screen savers, or whatever. I would concentrate ENTIRELY upon the program you hired me to help with. If something already on the computer is interfering with the program I came to help you with, I would explain that, give you other options if there are any, and ASK if you want me to fix it.
4. I would not engage in chit-chat, pretend to be interested in your home's decor, your children's accomplishments, or "Have you seen Lord of the Rings" yet? I promise you I would not even NOTICE whether your living room needed dusting, the bathroom looked like an Iraqi torture chamber, or the whole house smelled of cats. None of that is any of my business, and you're not paying me to socialize OR critique how you live.
You may think from those rules that I have had a bad experience with a house-call-making computer jockey. No. Why not? Because as far as I know, there are none.
And that's my real gripe. Where the hell are all the compu-whiz entrepreneurs dying to help us domestic users out??? With the collapse of the dot com bubble I *know* there are thousands of them out of work. I bet if a person was clean, personable, knowledgeable, prompt, businesslike, and had the slightest teaching skill, they could make a fortune in 40 hours a week. If *I* had the computer know-how, I'd be on this idea in a heartbeat. Advertise on the local newspaper's online edition, and you'd probably have more work than you could handle.
I've been wishing for this for years. Where the hell ARE all you people???