Not long ago, a good friend of my parents gave me a call. Their son had bought an Xbox and had signed up for an Xbox Live subscription, and 4 months (and 4 monthly payments) later still hadn't managed to successfully hook it up to his internet connection. He'd heard I was pretty good with computers, and was wondering if I might come and remedy this situation, as his son was being duped by sales people into buying lots of networking hardware that he didn't seem to need. I obliged happily, and they insisted on some payment, so I charged them $50. They were quite impressed. This was around 4-5 months ago I think.
Anyways, on Monday this week, I got a call out of the blue from a lady who said she was an old friend of my parents, and also of the above-mentioned family. They had told her that I was good with computers, and she was having some issues with hers that she couldn't resolve. So she was calling to see if perhaps I would like to come and help her with the issues she was having, and of course, she would pay me.
At this point, something inside of me said "This probably isn't a good idea - you don't even know these people". However, we are a little short of money at the moment, so I decided that it couldn't hurt...
When I rocked up, the lady I'd spoken to on the phone greeted me at the door, and promptly showed me to the study where the computer was. It is an older machine, running Windows 98, and appeared to have been reformatted. She explained to me that it had been having lots of errors and so the computer shop had reinstalled Windows, but not put anything back on, and all she really needed was someone to install it all for her again. So I spent a couple of hours running through install processes and downloading updates from the internet. At the point at which I left, I hadn't seen a single error, and everything had gone completely according to plan. With $100 in my pocket, I walked out the door expecting that I would proberbly wind up with some more buisness in the future, seeing as how good this fixing computers things seems to go for me...
About 20 mins ago, I got another phone call from this lady, reporting big problems with her computer. She had installed the critical Windows Updates as I'd instructed her, along with the free version of ZoneAlarm (which I didn't recommend, but was recommended by her Computer Club buddies) and now things were going awry. She'd gone to print, and the printer wasn't there, and then when she tried to add it, she'd got an exception error. She'd choosen to end whatever program had thrown it (proberbly Outlook Express by the sound of it) and then her computer frozen. Anyone who has used Win98se a lot, will know that if you're getting stuff like this, it's time to upgrade to XP. It's just plain easier then trying to track down what possible combination of software and/or hardware is causing the problem. And sometimes, it's neither, the thing just doesn't like you.
So what do I do? She obviously was unimpressed that these problems have come up after shelling out for my time, but this is an issue I can't resolve. An old computer, with an old version of Windows. Combine it with some brand-spankin' new USB devices, and the whole thing is just a recepie for bad shenanigans. So I've advised her to unplug all the USB goodies, and see if it solves the problem. The thing about it is, regardless of the result, the answer is still the same: she needs a new PC. If the USB peripherals are too new that they're causing her computer to have coniptions, then she can't buy older bits. She'll have to update her computer... And if it's the PC itself, well the answer there is obvious.
So now, she's got my number at home, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that no matter what happens next, she won't be happy, and will call me to tell me about it. Next time, I'm going to listen to that thing inside me that says no money is worth this kind of situation...
Useless fact about this post
Currently on TV: The Simpsons
STATIC DISCLAIMER: All the stuff in here is purely my opinions, and they tend to change depending on what mood I'm in. If you're going to get bitter if I say something about you that you don't like, then maybe don't read. I avoid using names as much as possible, and would request that people who know me do the same in their comments. Basically, I often vent my frustrations on here, so if you happen to be someone who frustrates me, expect to read a description of someone very much like you in here!