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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, May 09, 2006 1:15 PM
Working Small (Frustration Dept)
Kevin Salwen on Technology

Like so many of you out there, I'm a refugee from a large company. (In my case it was Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal.) These days, as I toil from the small headquarters of Worthwhile, I love my life, I love the work, I love the mission. But I hate the technology.

I miss tech support so much. Nicole's computer crashed last week, putting her out of commission for 2 days while she got it fixed. Anita's laptop is so full of programs and files that it takes more than 10 minutes to boot up. My email has become so squirrelly that it doesn't send to AOL addresses more than half the time. (That isn't so bad except my mom thinks I'm ignoring her.)
Consumer Reports disclosed in its latest issue that the only real way to get decent tech support is to pay for it. Want help from the free help line? Forget it. (You'll have better luck with your relatives, the magazine's research showed.) Paying more for warranty service didn't help much either to improve customer satisfaction with the problem-solving.  The only decent solution, CR said, was to pay for support services, which 90% of their survey respondents determined was worth it.  I must say, though, certainly on my home machines, I'm too cheap for that -- and calling Geeks2Go or one of the other players feels like calling the cable guy and I find myself dreading the process.
Anyone out there have the magic bullet for keeping their technology rolling?


Mark Sicignano - 5/11/2006 7:19:18 PM
No, you shouldn't need a computer degree to keep a PC running smoothly, but people have to be willing to learn a few basics of how to keep a computer up-to-date and perform basic maintenance on them once in a while. I also agree that Windows can be made easier and I can't speak for Mac's (it's been about 17 years since I had the pleasure of working with a Mac). But the people who seem to get in the most trouble are the ones who don't run AV software, and they click on every popup, run every executable file that they get in emails, and logon with administrator rights when they're doing this. I have one relative who when he was done using a program, he didn't exit out and shut down the computer. He just hit the power switch bringing his CPU and hard drive to a grinding halt. My own brother calls me up in utter frustration. I tell him that he needs to spend a little bit of time to understand how things work. He tells me that he doesn't have enough time for that. You see, it's all the computers fault. And before he had a PC, he had a Mac and trust me, it was the same thing then to.
Monica Ricci - 5/10/2006 10:53:41 PM
Jan, truly Kim Komando IS America's Digital Goddess. No I mean it. Really! Livin' la vida commando, ~Monica
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 5/10/2006 7:48:29 PM
Ok, I can't help myself here and it has nothing to do with "protection" for my pc....Perhaps if Kim didn't go Kommando she wouldn't need to worry about viruses, hard drives and how to configure six condoms at a time! Living la vida, not Harold, Jan
Monica Ricci - 5/10/2006 7:50:51 AM
I guess I'm paranoid about catching some nasty virus. As for where to put the cyber-condoms, Catherine? You put 'em on your (ahem) hard drive, of course. ~Monica
Max Leibman - 5/9/2006 11:39:34 PM
I have to second the comments from above--get a Mac. Saves so many headaches. That cheesy commercial with the businessy-looking guy who says he's a PC and the hip young Duncan-Sheik-looking guy who says he's a Mac? It's sadly quite accurate. My only other thought is one that might not scale to business, but it works well in my personal life and volunteer work. I run in a pretty fast-adopting, young crowd, but I'm generally the last to get on board with anything--from mobile phones to myspace, just about everybody else was there first. In business, you might be ceding some competitive edge, but if you wait until someone you know has hit all the major obstacles first, you're more likely to have a good personal tech-support network when you add the new gadget or program.
Catherine Howell - 5/9/2006 11:19:46 PM
Monica, Six condoms?? I've got to admit I've been puzzling over where one would put them all ever since I read your post. Yours in befuddled sisterhood. :-)) -- Catherine
Monica Ricci - 5/9/2006 10:35:40 PM
No magic bullet here, but short of getting a Mac, there's only so much you can do. Kim Komando has a wealth of information on her site, which is where I learned about CCleaner, which is a tiny little free program that keep useless files from building up and slowing my machine down. I also run two free antivirus programs (I know I'm not supposed to but I've been doing it for years with no problems) and I have a firewall as well as Windows Defender. Oh, and I bought a 250 gig external hard drive to keep everything backed up. All in all, I think I'm wearing the cyber-equivalent of six condoms. ~Monica
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 5/9/2006 7:53:23 PM
Kevin, Have fun at the Apple store tonight. Having always had a pc I have to admit I am a MAC newbie...How come they don't get viruses and all the other stuff that pcs get...and, further more, how come that can't be transfereed over to a pc? My next system will probably be a MAC, which means a whole new way to learn...but, for now at least, my pc is ok. Kevin, make sure you report back on your travels to the apple store...Hey Marin, any other way to add twenty years to my life span? Living la vida fearless, Jan
Kevin - 5/9/2006 5:35:40 PM
Marin, What could be glib about adding 20 years to my life and being cool to chicks?? I'm headed to the Apple store tonite!
marin - 5/9/2006 5:30:30 PM
K - I know this will come across as glib but get a Mac. I spent $4,000 - $6,000 per year on tech support and service to fend off viruses and attacks on my company's servers and PCs. I had hardware and software firewalls in place and maintained daily, but we still couldn't stop DIVIX files of "Dude Where's My Car" and various porn titles being transfered through our equipment by hackers. One day all of my clients web sites (as well as ours) were taken over by the Code Red virus. That was it. I migrated over to the Mac OS and now spend $99/year on each machine (6) and have never been infected, attacked or used as a transfer hub for software pirates. Granted, I can't play all the cool PC gaming titles and I've lost the ability to gripe about IT with fellow small business owners, but it's paid off in the long run. (And chicks will dig you, people will think you're cool and you'll add 20 years to your life span. Not bad.)
Janet Auty-Carlisle - 5/9/2006 3:07:16 PM
Hey Kevin, Sorry to hear about your tech woes...that just really sucks. Having had the pleasure? of going through similar issues more than once I now call my local Nerds R Us guy and have him take care of it (his number is even on my speed dial). He's fast, he's efficient, he knows his stuff and the work is guaranteed and not expensive. Plus, I love the little red volkswagons they ride around in. Best bang for my tech money....Living la vida fearless, Jan
Jerrome - 5/9/2006 1:31:07 PM
Kevin, in that same article you link to there is another link to a PCWorld piece with a ton of good tips in it. You can find it here: http://pcworld.com/howto/article/0,aid,125161,00.asp


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