Since 1979 I have had daily, intimate, contact with a computer of all shapes, word lengths (yes, pre-byte days) and clock speeds. 1 Apparently this means I am just sitting by the phone waiting for the call “Could you have a look at my computer?”…
When I get this call the effect is a bit like the phone going off in Trumpton Fire Station 2: I’m into my uniform, down a shiny pole, and off to save the unfortunate – I like to think of myself as Barney McGrew – the only one to have his name called out in full (because he was the driver).
Dream on. The problem is that I am too nice 3: I like to help people in distress (especially damsels). Well it’s coming to an end. From now on I apply the DNA test: if you and I share DNA with at most one level of separation then I’ll
happily help out (i.e. Mum, Mum-in-law exception, brat) 4. Beyond that then I’m afraid it’s “let’s talk about my hourly rate, and it’ll make a lawyer look cheap” 5. And the old “here’s a bottle of wine” gambit just ain’t going to work any more, unless we are talking Chateau Lafite 1961.
So to spare you the embarrassment, here’s a handy checklist to go through before calling:
- Am I related by at most one level of separation from Kev and have a DNA test to prove it? (The three people mentioned above need not supply results of DNA test.) If no: goodbye.
- Do you have a case of Chateau Lafite 1961 and will gladly use it to purchase the best technical support on the planet? If yes: then please contact me about my Premiere Support with a sample bottle – I will be available 24-7 on a dedicated phone number to help your every problem (until the wine runs out when the line goes strangely dead – and a case doesn’t last very long these days).
- Is my computer using the latest version of the operating system and all patches have been applied? If you don’t understand the question then: goodbye. If no: goodbye, numpty.
- Have you recently clicked on an email attachment or some nice web page claiming to clean up the nasty virus that they say is on your computer? If yes: then I would rather get intimate with an Ebola victim.
- If you get this far then it’s a points-based system. If I ask “What’s your computer’s backup mechanism?” then the points you get depends on your answer. (If you don’t understand exponential numbers then goodbye.)
Answer Points What’s a backup? -108 It’s on my To-Do List -103 I put all my data on a DVD every year 5 I make a backup every week to some cheap thumb-drive I bought in Tesco 10 I have automatic backup set to run every night to an external hard-drive 100 I have automatic backup set to run every night to an off-site backup service 1000 I have automatic backup set to run every night to an off-site, encrypted backup service 2000 Obviously I have multiple disks configured as RAID 6 with automatic, encrypted backup set to run on change to an off-site backup service on a different tectonic plate. I also give my relatives a DVD of the important stuff whenever I visit, and NASA an annual DVD to send to the ISS as I don’t want any of those planet-wide failures affecting my backups. 106
Now being a bright sort of person you’ve probably guessed that unless your score is 1000+ then you’re not going to like the response you get from me: howls of derisive laughter, at best. The really good thing is that if you are at that level then you don’t need me to help you!
Executive summary: don’t even bother asking.
- You can tell this is degenerating into a techie rant so probably best to skip unless you’re called Fenton or Stuart, or still have pleasant thoughts about the VAX-11/780. We can have a pleasant argument over a glass or two over whether VMS or BSD4.2 was a better OS on this platform. ↩
- If this makes no sense to you, then clearly you are not a child of 1970s BBC output. Sad. ↩
- As my friends will attest ↩
- Notice that the Missus is not on this select list: that’s because she is more than capable of fixing her own computer and is even more anally retentive about backups that I am. We also don’t have DNA in common – well, for a few generations at least. ↩
- Phone usually goes dead at this point. As an aside: I once freely helped my solicitor decide on a suitable computer for their spawn. Next time I asked him to look at a document he charged me £70 for approximately 10 minutes reading. A major lesson was learned that day. ↩
- An esteemed reviewer pointed out I hadn’t specified which version of RAID I use – for this he gets an extra 1000 points. For home use I’d recommend RAID1 as a minimum. ↩