“Hey Luke, you know about this computer stuff, right?”
If there is anything in the world I truly hate, it is this precise sentence. I’m honestly considering inventing some fake profession for myself, so I don’t have to tell people I work in the technology sector. Let’s face it, nothing good can possibly come out from admitting that you are a techie in a crowd composed of technophobes. You would think that it would earn you some respect with them, but it does not. Admitting that you understand how computers work is basically like saying “I give free tech support 24-7, especially on the weekends – call me about anything”. Seriously.
So my plan is this – I will move away somewhere where no one knows me, and tell people I meet that I’m a professional thatcher or something like that. This way I will never again need to do free tech support.
An acquittance cornered me recently and opened up with that very phrase. My immediate instinct was to try to open the nearest window and jump out to escape this assault. Granted, I was pretty high up but I figured that I could probably survive the fall with couple compound fractures and a massive concussion which would probably be preferable to helping this guy. Unfortunately the windows did not open on that floor.
To make a long story short, this guy “lost” his recycle bin icon. This is not unusual – sometimes that particular desktop icon goes away for whatever reason. Vista and Win7 actually have a mechanism that allows you to restore it at any time buried down somewhere in the desktop customization panels. XP however does not have that, and so you usually need to end up using something like the official Tweak UI power toy to get it.
Or you can just send the person to this knowledge base article. This is precisely what I did. I sent him an email with that link, and asked him to try it out. Unfortunately this was slightly beyond his comfort zone, and after about 4 or 5 rounds of emails and a phone call I realized that running a simple MSI file that requires you to click next a few times is beyond his capabilities.
So I manually made a registry file that would be created by this fix, and sent that to him figuring out that double clicking on an attachment and choosing Yes will be somewhat easier than clicking next 3 or 4 times. I mean I figured the less clicks he has to make, the less chances he has to screw it up. But that didn’t work either, because Outlook blocks .reg attachments for security reasons.
Renaming the file did not work either because, after about 6 emails I sort of gave up on the idea of explaining to this guy how to rename a file.
I tried assisting him remotely using both crossloop.com and join.me but his security software promptly blocked these apps from accessing the internet. I tried to get him to unblock them, but the conversation went something like this:
“Do you have McAfee, Norton or something else?”
“Ok, but which one? Do you maybe see an red M icon or a yellow globe next to the clock?”
“Yes, in the bottom right corner of your screen. There should be bunch of icons next to it”
“Bunch of what now?”
“Little pictures and symbols next to where it shows the time”
“Ok, what about them?”
“Can you describe them?”
“No. How do I describe them? I don’t know this computer stuff, I told you that.”
“Well, does any of them look like an M?”
“What the hell is an Anem? Luke, I’m computer illiterate you can’t just throw these computer terms at me.”
“No, a letter M as in Mary”
“Oh… No. Wait… No, I don’t think so. I’m not sure. Is there another way to check?”
“Alright, let’s try this – go to Start, All Programs…”
Woha, hold on… You are way ahead of me. Where do I click first?”
“The Start menu”
“I don’t have that.”
And so it went for another 5 minutes at which point I gave up. So we established that he will just swing by my place the next day and let me take a look at his computer in person.
He brings it in, I power it up, look at his desktop and see the recycle bin icon in the lower left corner of the screen. I point it out to him and he goes:
“Hey… What do you know. I didn’t even look in that corner.”
In retrospect, I should have just jumped out that window. The sweet and merciful embrace of death would probably be preferable to the intense mental anguish this is causing me. I honestly feel that I lost some brain cells because of this. I think some of my neurons just threw up their hands in the air, and just walked out when this happened. Another bundle probably died when I proceed to bang my head against the table for 5 minutes after the guy left.
The moral of this story is this: don’t tell people you are a software engineer. Tell them you are a professional thatcher and/or muskrat breeder. Trust me on this one. It is better that way.