Tag Archives: Technology Updates

Beware of the Tech Charlatan!

Remember the movie, Ghost Busters? Remember the popular phrase that came from the movie? Who you gonna call? Ghost Busters! These guys would come to your house and handle any ghost you had, any size, shape or evil would be cleaned up without a trace. As usual life doesn’t follow a script like the movies of Hollywood. Every repair person who touches your life isn’t always on top of their game. We all have our stories of the repair person who presented themselves as knowledgeable but in the end proved they could not be trusted, usually to the detriment of our pocket books. In the years before I started my repair business, I learned to be aware and careful in choosing who I trusted with my repairs.

As computers grow in popularity and the number of people who use them increase, the need for competent repair techs increases exponentially. Anyone can hang a computer repair shingle outside their office and begin a business. The average consumer doesn’t have a clue about how computers operate. Other than pushing a button to turn the computer on, and moving the mouse to get online, the rest is pretty much a mystery. Computers are an unknown or uncharted area. In talking to my customers and students I have come to realize there are many people who are unschooled in repair or may be out right charlatans when it comes to computer repair.

Some of my students have had a less than satisfactory experience with tech repair. One elderly student was told the motherboard was damaged and the laptop couldn’t be repaired. The true problem, he needed a new power supply. Another lady was given the same diagnosis for her motherboard, by the same repair person. It was the operating system. The hard drive was erased and the operating system was reloaded. Another student was told that she had viruses and trojans. She was told that the trojan couldn’t be removed so the tech would just go around the trojan and she shouldn’t use Internet Explorer anymore because that was where the trojan was hiding. One doesn’t go around a trojan. Viruses and malware of any kind must be removed. A store chain worked on another student’s computer. They erased the drive without saving the customers data, and loaded the operating system incorrectly. He has an unusable computer.

I encourage you to be careful when handing your computer to someone for repair. Not everyone who says they know how to fix computers can fix computers. It is even hard for me to tell you what to ask or look for. There are no guidelines. Other then asking to see a diploma, there is no measuring stick for choosing a computer tech. Even with a diploma, there is no guarantee. Computers and all things about computers changes by the week, sometimes by the day. There are many good techs out there but there are many charlatans too. Be wise, be smart and ask questions of others who have had repairs done. Get recommendations from friends or family members that have used someone they were satisfied with. When you find a good tech you can trust, stick with him/her. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. I’ll be glad to help in any way that I can.


Teaching My Silver Surfers!

Since I teach computers predominantly to seniors, my “Silver Surfers”, I am in a unique position to observe the challenges they face adjusting to the technology age. I have observed this with their use of cell phones, DVD players, TIVO, but predominantly with computers. In so many ways they are left behind and are running to catch up. They struggle to acquire basic computer skills. Moving and clicking a mouse while trying to assimilate what is happening on the computer screen is daunting. They are urged to join this race by well meaning family and friends who don’t realize what a challenge this will be for them, and the friends and relatives at times lack the patience to help them. Nothing is harder to take than struggling with the computer and have someone say, “Oh! It is easy. Just do this…..” I have watched perfectly intelligent and quick-minded people doubt themselves to the point of thinking they are “stupid” or worse yet, they think they have a learning disability.  Of course this struggle doesn’t affect only seniors, but they seem to be the most vulnerable to this thinking. I caution them constantly to realize that learning to use computers is equal to learning a language they have never spoken before. Would they feel stupid if they struggled to learn French? I encourage them to approach it as if they are learning a language, realizing that they need to practice, practice, and practice some more.

While thinking through this problem, specifically for seniors, I have come to some conclusions as to how family and friends can help encourage their use of computers.

  • Realize they need things kept very simple. Don’t buy the latest and best computer. The new operating systems are hard for many to understand and use. This is especially true if they are already used to Windows XP and they are forced to learn Vista or Windows 7. Find a good refurbished desktop or laptop for them. Most refurbished computers have Windows XP, and this is much easier for a beginner. Computer Recycling Center in Santa Rosa, CA, on Santa Rosa Ave, has excellent refurbished desktops and laptops.
  • Make directions VERY simple and basic. Have them take notes or better yet, create notes for them so they can refer to the notes when they get stuck. These notes should be step by step.
  • When teaching, don’t assume they know anything. What seems basic to you may be vital for them to know to fully understand what you are teaching.
  • Try to refrain from telling them how easy it is. It may not be easy for them. Telling them this over and over only serves to make them feel inadequate. This contributes to their feelings that they are “stupid” or that they can’t learn.

I can’t stress enough the need for patience and understanding when you are helping someone new to computers, especially the elderly.

I’m very proud of my Silver Surfers. Many of them have come a long way. I anticipate my classes growing with expectant excitement. As the world of technology grows and rapidly expands, we need to include the elderly so we are not leaving anyone behind in the technology race.