Posted by: Paul | March 1, 2010

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Filial duties are many, but chief among them for many men of my age and professional experience is IT support. Not just for parents actually, but also in-laws, siblings, siblings-in-law, friends, and occasionally random strangers.

Been over at my little brother’s this morning, fixing his wireless network. Again. All it required in the end was following some simple instructions, finding the password supplied by the broadband company, and unplugging his laptop from the router to check it was connected wirelessly to the right access point (sometimes a problem in flat complexes). Was that so hard?

It’s become apparent over the past, well, probably 10 years, that some people just have a technology blind spot and no matter how many times you explain the same thing, however simply, how may times you email them instructions, talk them through it over the phone or hell, even write it down for them, they still believe they “can’t do it” without even trying. They fall at the first hurdle. The first teething problem, the first sign of trouble, the first error message and the blinds marked “Can’t do” snap down in front of their eyes and they will go no further.

If you’re reading this and thinking “that’s me, stop picking on me!”, please understand that I am not. I simply feel that I personally am no IT engineer, and if a task is simple enough for me to perform by just being able to read or look something up on the Internet, then by definition of the fact that you can read this, you can solve the problem too. You CAN connect to your wireless network! You CAN install your own new cordless phone, just plug it in! You CAN retrieve that file from the FTP space I emailed you the details for!

I dare say my days of providing continuing support are far from over. I wish it was a service I could charge for! But then you can’t do that to friends and family and I’m not professionally qualified enough to set up as a business on that front (nor would I want to), so I and many others remain stuck in the middle ground, of providing free IT support to anyone who asks for it. It’s plugged in, isn’t it? You HAVE tried turning it off and on again, haven’t you?


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