Ten Commandments


Computer Ownership

Or how to make Technical Support REAL happy to help you!

As someone who takes phone calls all night long from folks who aren't necessarily "Computer Science" majors, I'm constantly amazed that people would fork over big bucks for a PC and not bother to find out how to keep it running correctly. So for these people, I've assembled the following Ten Commandments Of Computer Ownership.

I. Thou shalt become one with thine PC!

This includes reading the information that came in the box (usually called "SPECS") and then taking time to "explore" all the nooks and crannies of the operating system (but don't change anything until you really KNOW what you're changing!)

II. Thou shalt let go of the "Computer Illiterate" label no later than two months after purchasing your PC!

Nothing is more annoying than to have someone tell a tech they're "computer illiterate" when the person has had the PC for 3 years. Sheesh! At least buy a few of the "For Dummies" computer books (and READ THEM!).

III. Thou shalt know EXACTLY what your PC consists of, including (but not limited to) ram, CPU type, operating system, modem speed, drives (soft/hard and the difference therein) .

Even if you don't know for sure, at least grab the 10 year old next door and have them show you what you have before you call tech support. That way we won't have to waste 15 minutes before we finally decide that, no, you're not going to install I.E. 5.01 on your 386SX that only has 4MB ram, a 200MB hard drive, a 2400 baud modem and running Windows 95 .

IV. Thou shalt read the installation instructions BEFORE putting that floppy or CD in the drive to install the latest programs.

Unless you enjoy paying Microsoft (or your local neighborhood PC tech) $35-$75 an hour to restore your system, read the installation instructions. That's where you'll find the necessary system requirements (refer to commandment #III) for the program you're trying to install. One more thing. Just because you get a "free" floppy or CD in the mail doesn't mean it has to be installed. You can format (see commandment #I) the floppies to keep files on or drill holes in the CD's and string them together to make an attractive mobile/windchime.

V. Thou shalt ADMIT when thou hast not followed commandment #IV.

No matter how much you deny it, we in Tech Support "know" when you've installed something new in your system (especially if you called yesterday and we went all through your settings). You can lie to yourself all you want, but when you call tech support and say "my search engine goes to aol.com now, how do I change it back?" there's only ONE answer, need I say more?

VI. Thou shalt not neglect thine operating system!

Regardless of whether you're using Windows, DOS or a MAC, there are certain built in utilities that are there to keep your system running right. Calling tech support and answering "what's that?" when we ask when the last time you ran Scandisk or Defrag was will surely result in you being treated as less than intelligent. Not to mention the wear and tear on the tech's "mute" button as he cusses you out for it.

VII. Thou shalt learn the correct terminology for all aspects of your PC, and use it as though it were the King's English!

You need to know the difference between "formatting" versus "rebooting" your hard drive, "downloading" versus "installing" software, etc., etc., etc. Just because that 3.5 inch disk has a tough plastic cover doesn't make it a hard disk, and unless you were around in the prehistoric computing days, you'll probably never see a floppy disk that's really floppy (unless you break the tough plastic cover, that is).

VIII. Thou shalt not ask a discount electronics store salesperson for advice on which PC to buy.

DUH! If you were selling a $1200 computer and a $3200 computer, and were going to get commission on the sale, which one would YOU suggest? Along these same lines, just because they work there doesn't mean they know anything about PC's. I once overheard a salesperson tell two very gullible ladies that "sure, you can share files between a Mac and an IBM" (of course, he didn't tell them they'd need to have special converters or emulators to do it with).

IX. Thou shalt not format thine hard drive just because one program has a problem.

That's what tech support was created for, to troubleshoot the glitches that develop in programs or fix other PC components that suddenly go south. I recall one customer who I SWEAR formatted his drive and reinstalled Windows95 at least 3 times a day, and then would call to our tech support to reinstall his Internet account software. I think he's working in Florida now for one of our competitors.

X. Thou shalt exhaust all available resources before throwing in the towel on a PC problem.

As far as I know, every computer program has a "help" file. Do a little research. I realize most people don't want to think, they just want it to "run". Unfortunately, your PC is not a TV. It consists of many different parts and they don't always cooperate with each other 100% of the time. And really, we in tech support will not hold it against you if you sincerely worked on the problem and just can't figure it out.

On to the Ten Commandments for Calling Tech Support

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