I help a great many people with their computers. Some are clients. Some are friends. Some are friendly clients. I have no problem with it, and am (usually) glad to help.
I have a few simple rules for this help.
1) Ask nicely
2) Don’t abuse the system. Meaning, if you’re a friend, don’t ask me every day how to turn on your printer. If you’re a client, don’t penny pinch.
3) You’re going to have to do some work. As a rule, if there is some action that might take a long time I have better things to do than stand there and watch your drive reformat. So I may ask you to call me when it’s done. Or leave a simple set of instructions like “when it’s done scanning. Click OK, and then reboot”. Or in rare cases I may send you a link to a site that has detailed instructions. I know what your knowledge level is, and I won’t ask you to do anything you can’t do.
4) Heed my advice. When I tell you that you need a backup for your data, don’t get pissy when your drive fails and you lose years worth of irreplaceable data.
5) Respect my time. I’m very busy. I have a day job, I freelance, I have a personal life, I like to watch soccer, and I like to sleep.
So I’m quite a bit annoyed at a client. Yes, they pay me, which is why I don’t just tell them to piss off. But this is the second time they’ve annoyed me recently. They contact me today, an employee has gone on vacation, and they locked their computer with a password, and they want to get into it. Nothing pressing, they just want to use it for surfing the net and whatnot [note: computers are not a part of their business. they share offices, and a couple of the offices have computers that they use to surf when bored out of their minds.] Unfortunately, it’s Vista (which he hates) and because they actually paid attention to security, you can’t actually bypass the password feature like you could so easily on XP.
So I tell him, he’s got two options. He can either reformat or he can try out a password cracking tool. Both of them are a pain in the arse. And of course, I’m not local for him (I use remote control software to access their computers) so they’re going to have to do it. He asks why reformating is a pain in the arse. I patiently explain the fact that you lose all data, it takes a good couple of hours, and then you have to reinstall all programs like MS Office, AND they’ll have to find the disks in the first place.
Sidenote: I have never seen a company so bad at keeping disks. They’ve got dozens of computers, and nary a restore disk in sight. One time I actually helped them open a center in another state. They had 10 brand spanking new computers that I took out of the box and setup. I meticulously labeled each set of disks and the corresponding computer. I put them all together and in a cabinet drawer. About a year later, somebody foobarred on of the computers and they needed to reformat. Guess what? They threw away all those disks because “no one knew what they were for and we needed the cabinet space”. Whuzzah!
I get a snippy “forget it” in response. Not sure if he’s snippy because the dumb employee locked the computer, or because I told him it was a pain to fix it. But this is the second time in the recent past that I get a snippy “nevermind”. Another time, he had an issue with playing DVDs on a computer. They are too cheap to buy DVD software like PowerDVD, and free software like VLC is too annoying for them. Well, I start digging ito the problem by asking what I think are reasonable questions like “Has it ever worked before?” because if it was before, and not now then thats hint. “Is it Vista or is it XP?” Vista Premium and Ultimate have DVD players built in, XP does not. The response is “I don’t have time for this. Just fix it”. Well I can’t if I don’t know what’s wrong. You don’t drop off your car at the mechanics, tell them it’s not working and expect it to be fixed do you? If you don’t have the time to give me the details, I don’t have the time to fix it.