Yes, I will fix your computer, but…

This blog entry made me chuckle, though I don’t agree with their conclusion.

I am a software engineer by profession, a geek by nature. I program to pay the bills, and build and fix computers for fun. This is one way for me to put something back, and I am happy to help and teach others wherever possible. My motto is “I don’t charge my friends; my enemies cannot afford me”.

However, over the years there are some people whom I will not help:

The Stingy: Some people expect a lot but won’t pay for anything. They’ll happily pay a monkey in grease-stained overalls $80+/hr labor to fix their BMW, but expect a degreed, trained and experienced IT professional to fix their computer for free. What’s wrong with this picture?

The Ignorant: Reformatting and reinstalling a machine can be done in a few hours or days. Cleaning out a system and recovering data takes a lot longer – days or weeks. If I spend three days manually removing viruses and spyware from your machine, I will usually give you a lecture on security and best practices (“Keep your system patched, use an antivirus, a spyware scanner and a firewall, don’t install crapware and for Heaven’s sake back up your data!“). Come back to me six months with a buggered system with no Windows updates (“but it takes too long!”), antivirus (“updates?”) firewall (“what’s that?”) or spyware scanner and I will not be kind. I am happy to help those in need, but I will NOT subsidize your stupidity. At least not for free.

The Impulsive: It is said that the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask. I am happy to give advice, but I prefer it when people ask me before they do something silly, such as…

  • The guy who upgraded his Windows 98 machine to Windows 2000 and then complained it was “running slow” (“Dude you have only 64MB of memory!” “Wha… I need more?“)
  • The people who run out and buy new machines then ask me “What do you think of the $200 e-Machines that is  on sale at Wal-Mart?” “It’s a piece of crap“, “Oh, I just bought one.” “Why the HELL are you asking me what I think of it NOW?

The Lazy: Nine out of ten problems can be found with a little Googling. I expect at least due diligence on your part. If you are too damned lazy to at least type the error description into a search engine, don’t expect me to be impressed.

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