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When it comes to any computer problems, I've learnt that you should always try the obvious first ... seriously, if your mouse is not working (even if it is only a week old) try another mouse don't waste hours bitching at your operating system ... then, if it still doesn't work, try another USB port ... then check those ports are working using another device ...


I'm far from being an expert on computer hardware, but I'm also a very long way from being a noob ... I'm guessing many of us have been in the unfortunate (not to mention time consuming, and irritating) positon of being an unpaid Help Desk to numerous friends and relatives ... why, oh why do people think that if you can send an email, you can rebuild their computer, setup their router and build them a webpage to take Paypal payments ? (I can do all those things btw - not necessarily very well, but I can) ...

I digress ...

How about this for an example (true story) ....

I'm in the middle of doing something important when the phone rings (it probably wasn't important, it just seems that way in hindsight - and makes for a better story) ... its my Dad ...

Dad: Hi Paul (no preamble here) ... my new printer won't work!

Me: Ok, what do you mean it won't work?

Dad: Well, I've plugged it in, and I've put the CD in and followed all the instructions ... like you told me before

(Give him his due, he has actually listened on the rare occasion - by this point I'm quite impressed, and thinking I might actually have to drive the 40 miles to sort it out for him)

Me: Ok, Dad, I want you to click on Start then Printers

(Lots of confusion here as Dad seems to think I can see his screen and can tell what he's doing)

... eventually ...

Dad: Ok, the printer is showing ... what should I do now?


Me: Have you set it as the default printer?

Dad: What the &*^%($ is default printer?

(Dad is an ex copper, too many episodes of The Sweeney)

Me: Is there a tick next to the name of the printer?

Dad: Yes

Me: Ok, lets try to print something (thinking perhaps the ink hasn't been setup correctly and thats where the problem is) ... right click on the printer and go to Properties, on the General tab you should see a button somewhere that says 'Print A Test Page' ... click the button ...

Dad: (after the above has been repeated a couple of times, slowly) Nothing!

By this time, I'm convinced they've sold Dad a dud, he's not very technical, but he seems to have followed all the procedures properly, and nothing appears to work ... I ponder the dilemma for a few minutes while discussing other pressing family issues ... all the time trying to put myself in my Dad's shoes (this is also how I try to approach building websites or anything technical - you need to see things from other peoples viewpoint, you can't presume people will know how something works, or will have the same skill set that you do) ...


Me: Dad ...

Dad: Yes ...

Me: The box the printer came in ...

Dad: Yes ...

Me: Does it have a sticker on the front?

Dad: Yes ...

Me: Does that sticker say something like "USB cable not included?"

Dad: Yes ...

Me: So how, exactly is your printer talking to your computer?

Dad: Oh!

Interesting But Totally Unrelated Fact

The title of this section is "Hardware" - this relates to the bits that go into making and keeping a computer working, not the 1990 film "Hardware" ...

... which, as it happens had a cameo appearence by Lemmy .... (you know ... the guy from Motörhead and Hawkwind!)

... still following ?

Good, because this is how my mind works ...

I was in a 'made for tv' movie with Lemmy (amongst others) ...

Thats me with the false tache :P

Look - there I am, false moustache and all!

I'm in the movie (its in 2 parts) for at least 25 seconds in all!

Two days on Dartmoor (it was hot) - got to meet Robbie Coltrane (long before he became Hagrid - he is one funny guy) ... I got to meet Ade Edmonson ,Nigel Planer, French & Saunders, Kathy Burke (hadn't heard of her at the time) - also bumped into Lenny Henry (he was married to Dawn French at the time).

I don't know how I didn't manage to pursue a career in acting :D

See if you can spot me in the rest of the movie ...

... so, as I was saying, I'm fairly good with 'Hardware' ... I think I got a bit off track there!

What I mean to say then, is I'm no network engineer, but I can piece together a computer, upgrade it and add it to a network ... I'm not afraid to rip off that seal!

Published in About Paulus
Written by  i-r-paulus
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Read 1302 times Last modified on Sunday, 30 December 2012 20:48

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