Sunday, December 03, 2006

Family Geek

The fact that I have been christened ‘family geek’ is less of a statement about my IT abilities than it is an indictment of my family’s lack thereof. I do my best however and much of the weekend has been spent upgrading, optimising and downright fixing my parent’s computers.

Mum’s shiny new machine is a definite improvement on her last system, but I do wish they’d listened to my cautions about Dell.

First off the thing wouldn’t work at all when it first arrived. The support line had Dad taking the side off and fiddling about with the innards in a generally clueless manner (which is no disrespect to my Pa, he's a financial wizz, not a hardware technician) until he really put his foot down and spoke to a supervisor. Who in turn stated “ah well you haven’t paid for on-site support, so we’ll arrange collection, have a look and you should get it back after a few weeks”. Dad, never one to struggle with assertiveness politely pointed out that there was a world of difference between fixing a fault that had developed and a bit of kit that won’t even power up out of the box. Not to mention the hassles with the whole delivery and return malarkey for the machine’s disabled owner.

He later confessed to me that in his “she can’t get to the door, and you can’t even specifiy morning or afternoon, so I’ll have to stay home for a full day each time”, he may have neglected to mention that he’s retired and that stopping in didn’t actually equate to a day off work, but hey why disabuse them of their assumptions?

Upshot was that all things considered (including the “terribly sorry, you should never have been asked to take the side off and work on the motherboard yourself”), Dell relented and sent someone out who simply replaced the motherboard and hey presto, all was well.

Various settings need fixing though (which I sort easily enough), but more seriously the CD and DVD writer won’t function. In fact every time you try to open any facet of that software suite (even the bloody help file), the whole thing crashes.

After much piddling around to no avail, I find a newer version of the drivers and software on-line. Much to my relief and great satisfaction, this fortunately this seems to do the trick, but I understand my dad’s frustration – how would he know to do something like that? Is it really too much to hope that the basics work for people like my folks, out of the box?

My last act before heading back north is to set-up remote assistance capabilities on both of their computers – that way at least I can be of more use in future when I’m not able to be there in person.

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