Watch Out For Fake Geeks

CBC’s Marketplace did a segment last year about What you should know before you call a geek in to fix your computer:

Their dorky company names and their cute little cars give off an air of friendly, helpful competence. But do the people who make computer house calls actually know what they’re doing?
…we modified a computer to simulate a common hardware failure. Then we called in the nerds. The result? Only three of the ten technicians who saw our machine managed to correctly diagnose the problem.

Since I’m the geek in the family, I tend to be called by family, friends, and friends of family and friends to diagnose and repair computer problems. Fellow technophiles know what I mean:

  • How do I email my photos? And why are they so big? (Solution: Install Thunderbird and explain how digital photos are stored.)
  • How do I open this document? (Solution: Tell person to set their default file type to Office 2003 or earlier, not the Office 2007 format (i.e. .docx))
  • This window keeps on popping up when I’m on the internet. (Solution: Install Firefox and hide Internet Explorer)

I DO have a computer repair kit (for hardware and software problems), but I’m aware of my technical limitations; if there’s a problem I can’t figure out, I admit it and provide a recommendation.

I sometimes fix hardware problems. Trouble-shooting is most of the fun, but one has to know one’s limitations, although I’ve never taken a computer to a shop to be repaired. I’ll buy replacement hardware instead.

Related posts:
Fixing God’s Computer
Watch A Hard Drive Work
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Building A Computer
How CPUs Work

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