September 2007


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Archive for September 14th, 2007

More Edumacation

Posted in Geekery, Life on September 14th, 2007

Now that you have read through the first course, it is time to move on to the next:

Wolfe’s Guide To Computers 102 – What to do when things go Wrong

“The computer allows you to make mistakes faster than any other invention, with the possible exception of handguns and tequila.”
– Mitch Ratcliffe

Things will eventually go wrong with your computer; the steps below will be helpful in determining exactly what it was, and should be followed in this order.

1) Reboot the computer.

Microsoft Windows Operating Systems have a number of faults in them that will on occasion cause your computer to freeze up, spaz out or generally quit working. If this happens, you will normally just need to reboot your computer to solve the problem.

Click on Start, then click on “Shut Down” and choose “Reboot” at the pop-up window. If this option never becomes available (wait at least ten minutes) then you may perform a Hard Shutdown by pressing and holding in the Power button on the computer for 5 seconds. This should shut down the computer. Let it sit for a 10-count then press and release the power button to start the computer again.

As a last-ditch effort, you could pull the power cord out of the computer – it should be noted that this could cause permanent damage to the machine, so it should only be done as a last resort.

If the problem persists, continue with the next steps.

2) Check all of the cables on the computer and the peripherals. Sometimes cables can get knocked loose from the computer, so you should make sure everything is plugged in and turned on. (Obviously, you will not be able to print if the printer is turned off.) If you are having Internet problems (the most common sort), then make sure that all of the cables are plugged in to the modem and / or router and that these devices are turned on and have the proper status lights lit.

3) Read The Fine Manual! If you are having trouble getting a particular program or device to work, there is quite probably some very useful information in the User’s Guide or the Help Files written into the program. Read the manual to make sure that you are doing it right to begin with. Better yet, there may be a troubleshooting guide that can help you before you call Tech Support.

4) If you still have not found a solution, you may need to call Tech Support. Before you do this, write down everything you can about the problem you are having, in the most technically descriptive manner you can. If an error message appears onscreen, write it down verbatim and in its entirety, including any number sequences that may be present. Your Tech Support agent will want this information.

You should also write down the sequence of steps that led to the problem appearing. If you are having trouble getting to a website, for instance, you should say that you “launched the web browser, but it was unable to display the website”, not “teh Internets are broken”.

Your Tech Support Agent will not know what you mean if you do not use standard terms. If you are not sure what the standard terms are, ask someone who is more computer-savvy than you are to help you describe the problem.

It will also be beneficial to write down the steps you have taken to try and fix the problem. The Agent will likely have you repeat these steps, but it shows them from the start that you have at least tried to fix it on your own – they will be more likely to go that “extra mile” to help someone who tries to help themselves first. Whiners get the worst treatment.

5) To ensure that you get the most help from Tech Support, remember this: you are dealing with someone who is trying to help you, and they may need some more help from you to solve the problem. If they ask a question, try to answer the best that you can. If they ask you to do something, follow their instructions to the letter in the exact order they are given – don’t jump ahead and don’t skip anything.

Above all else, remain as calm as you can. Yelling at them will get you transferred to the back of the call queue or just plain disconnected. Tech Support usually runs on a first-come, first-served basis, and they do not play favorites. Expecting special treatment for any reason (and telling them so) will earn you nothing but bad attitude. Ask nicely, say “thank you”, and don’t make any unfounded accusations.

These simple steps will not only help you solve the problem, they may earn you the respect of the tech support team if you end up having to call them, and they may not hate you for being an idiot like all of their other callers. Good luck.