I just find it amazing that when I ask a client to type in our web address in the address bar, more often than not, they'll type it in the search box.
I’m definitely not a techie, but after 19 years of having a PC, I do know the basics, of course. Email, internet, social media, etc. Knowing I am “good” at the computer (read: finding stuff online), my mother finally got a computer several years ago after moving over 400 miles away from “home”. She figured the internet, hence email, would be a great way to keep up with friends she left behind. She loves to call me with her questions when my son (who IS a techie) can’t be reached.
Here’s my first tale:
Mom: What do I do?
Me: I don’t know, what are you trying to do?
Mom: I need to get to this site for a coupon.
Me: Type it in.
Mom: No, it’s in my email.
Me: Okay, is there a link?
Mom: No, but there is a weird blue line of text in the email.
Me: Click on the blue line, mom.
Mom: Okay. *pause* Where did the email go??
Me: Don't worry about that, the site pops up when you click the link, just do what you have to do.
Me: *hearing typing*
Mom: Now what?
Me: (knowing approximately what site she’s on and what she’s doing) Did you click “Submit”?
Me: So what’s the problem?
Mom: I still can’t see my email.
Me: Close the site, mom. The little X, top right, remember?
This happens EVERY time she shops at a few certain stores where they send you discount coupons through email that you can print out, after you take a short online survey, of course. Over the past 3 years, I’ve had to walk her through this roughly 20 times now. I keep telling her not to give stores her email, but of course, she’s thrifty and *needs* those coupons.
Mom: I need to go to this site.
Mom: A friend said I’d like it and I want to check it out.
Me: *gives up and decides to help* Okay, get on the internet.
Mom: I am.
Me: Okay, so type in the web address.
Me *explains the screen*
Mom: All I’m seeing is stuff from you and my friends with "Reply", "Send", etc.
Me: Mom, you’re in your email.
Mom: Oh! What do I click on for internet again?
Me: Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer. (she has all three, thanks to my five kids being over on the weekends and all preferring different things when they get online at her house)
Mom: Which one?
Me: Any of the three will do.
Mom: But, which one?
Me: *just blurting out one* Firefox.
Mom: Okay...now what?
Me: *also now on Firefox so I can walk her through it step by step* Type in the web address.
Mom: What is it?
Me: What’s the site?
Mom: (site name)
Me: So, type that in, with “.com” after it.
Me: At the top. The blank line next to the arrow.
Mom: Where it says Google?
Me: No, mom, the very top, next to the arrow...
*she finally gets it and happily looks around, me pointing out various parts of the site to click on to investigate*
8 years of owning a computer, with internet, and she still can't tell the difference between her email and internet. I can't even count how many times we've had this exact conversation.
Mom: Why do I keep getting all these emails? I don’t even know these people!
Me: *thankfully at her house, looking over her shoulder* You replied to someone’s post on Facebook.
Mom: But I don’t know these people.
Me: Once you reply, you get “updates” emailed every time someone else replies, just in case you want to add more to the conversation.
Mom: How do I get them to stop?
Me: *fixes things for her on that one post*
Mom: So, that’s it?
Me: Yes, until you reply to something else.
Mom: But I don’t want more.
Me: Then stop commenting on people’s posts.
Mom: But it’s fun.
Me: Then you’ll keep getting those unless you stop the comments.
Mom: Oh. How do I stop them?
Me *showing her this time with another one of “those” emails*
Mom: I have to do that every time?
Mom: What about if I….(she can’t even think of anything)
Me: *grabs small notebook I made for her when she first got her computer 8 years or so ago* I’ll just write down the steps in here so you can do it yourself later when you need to again.
A week later, she calls me up to say she’s getting more of those “weird Facebook emails” so I
instruct her to read the page I wrote in her notebook and I stay on the line with her as she does it.
No more calls about this since then…..YET!
I’m actually surprised this one hasn’t happened sooner but in talking to her, it turns out that other similar emails she got, she knew the people making the comments, so she never bothered to “see” what the emails were about...or...she would click the link and read the new posts, not understanding that those “strange people emailing her” were the same thing as the FB emails from people she did know.
Mom: Okay, I have another computer question.
Me: *under breath* Oh boy! *normally* What do you need?
Mom: How do I type a private message to (family member)?
Mom: No, on Facebook.
Me: Why didn’t you say that in the first place? Get on Facebook, go to their page, on the top, across from their name, it will say “Message.”
Me: *stupidly thinking that was it* Ok, talk to you later.
Mom: What do I do?
Me: What do you mean?
Mom: Well, I see where it says “Message”, now what?
Me: Click on that.
Mom: And then I can type so only she will see it?
Me: When the little box at the bottom of the screen pops up, yes.
Mom: I closed out, this is too confusing, you can help me the next time you come over.
Me: Okay, talk to you later. *hangs up*
*actually bangs head on my desk*
*kids see me and give me a weird look*
Me (phone still in hand, turns to kids): Grandma...Facebook...
Daughter #2 (who’s 14): *says nothing but comes over to give me a reassuring pat on the shoulder*
Daughter #4 (who just turned 10): We’ll show her whatever she needs next time we’re over there.
Me: Thanks...wait...how do you know about FB?
Daughter #3 (12 years old): We watch when she’s on, the computer is in our room there. We know where everything is and if we don’t, she can help. *now pointing at Daughter #1* (16, and who’s been on Facebook since she was old enough).
Daughter #1: Gee, thanks a lot…
Up Side: I got a binding machine not too long ago. I think it may be time to make my mother an officially unofficial “Computer” book based on the old (and now very well-worn and falling apart) notebook that doesn’t have much about social media in it. This time, I can include pictures with screen shots!
Down Side: I don’t know if she’ll be able to live the two weeks or so it will take me to type up everything already in it and get all those screen shots.
Up Side: At least she’s never held her mouse upside down or up to the monitor, she knows how to double-click, and she has never once used her CD-ROM as a cup holder!
So through my late high school days and most of college I tried to get into kinda a freelance home computer repair service. Only through word of mouth advertising. (I worked in a retail store that sold electronics, but did nothing relating to repairs. So management was fine with me offering services as long as I was still maintaining good sales)
I had a pretty staight forward system. $20 to show up and initial diagnostic. $10 for first hour, $20 for every hour past.
I did did free support for my parents since I was currently living with them. And I offered a friends and family discount of skipping the initial $20 and just going with $10 an hour, even accepting trade.
My mother on the other hand had different plans. She would offer my services for free to family members in the area, which I was obligated due to her already setting up an appointment in my stead and the family obligations.
Unfortunatly this lead to the wrong type of word of mouth advertising, where they would tell their friends I would do it for free, and kept getting people asking for it.
I tried to explain to my mother that I counted on those payments as supplimentary income which always got "Well you're so good at it, it's not like it's hard for you to just do it for free for some people."
Even after I stopped doing the home repairs, I kept getting calls. I managed to get them to stop by taking an IT job 10 hours away.
So I worked for a large store, or mart, that has walls. I worked for the Connection Center, which dispite what people think is cell phones not who you call to get connected to various departments. We do not do tech support, but because of the quality of the retail stores for various carriers in the area, we try to field what we can.
A customer calls in asking help with her phone. Apparently it's acting strange. Naturally I ask her to bring it in so we can take a look at it. But no, she is far to busy and doesn't want to drive in. I ask her if she has a smartphone. To which she answers she isn't sure. Over trial and error I found the fastest way to figure it out.
I asked the custmoer if their phone had physical buttons or if they appeared on the screen. She suddenly became very confused, insisting that her phone did in fact have buttons. I asked again if they were below the screen or if they appeared on the screen. She again told me it did have buttons. I tried a different approach, asking if there were physical buttons. She said there were some on the side.
Naturally having worked the with these kinds of people before I had her double confirm. Asking if she only had phyiscal buttons on the side of the phone. She answered of course, but also on the front as well.
In a last ditch effort I asked her what she saw on her screen. Her answers, numbers.
I told her she would have to come in for us to apply any fixes.
Our store had a repeat customer that would only seemed to come in when I was around. It didn't matter what point in my shift I was in, I always needed a break afterward.
The customer comes in before I started to recognize him, I only helped him once or twice before briefly with questions. He had a complaint his cell phone stopped working that he bought the other day. He hands over a phone so caked in dust and grim I at first assumed it was a scam, pass off an old item as a recent purchase to exchange it for a new one. So I requested the receipt, which he produced. I had to check the serial number under the batter so I attempted to pry off the back. I ended up having to take a screwdriver to it to get the back off cause so much filth was in the grove of the back it was acting as an adhesive. Inside wasn't any prettier. But I checked the serial number of the phone and despite all probability, this was in fact the phone he purchased two days before. I did a visual check and could see more dirt and grim in every gap and hole inside the phone as well. Since there wasn't any reason to deny the return besides the coating on the phone, I sent someone to grab one to exchange. We settled up the exchange real quick.
The reason this encounter is so prominent is cause of the man’s smell. I always try to keep about two feet away from customers when helping. Sadly after I got the man his new phone he wanted to shake hands and ended up pulling me close. And suddenly I understood how the phone could get that way in two days. Once he was out of sight I started to rush to the back room to be stopped by a manager saying I needed to stay on the floor. I asked them to go stand where the man was standing a minute before. They joined me outside to get some fresh air.
Some issues with a few customers only lasted for brief moments.
-I'm only able to get internet from Wifi. I've had this phone for a year and have never got data service.
I turn on the data service without saying anything. It has happened multiple times. Twice with periods lasting a year or more
-Why is my (Generation I smart phone) slower than (Generation V smart phone)
I start to pretend to sort paper work.
-Why is my phone slow
"Well you some how managed to get viruses on it. Have you opened any suspecious emails recently?" And I probably shouldn't bring up the 30+ bookmarked porn sites.
-I have prepaid phone I need to refill.
"What service do you have?"
-I don't know
"Well what color are the prepaid cards you usually get?"
-I haven't got one in a while
"Can I look at the phone, they often have those kind of details"
-I don't have it on me
"Do you at least know how much you need to add each time?"
-No? Shouldn't you know?
We had to start a rotation schedule for people to handle these customers when they showed up. For sanity reasons you weren't suppose to take more than 2 of them in a row.
-I need to get my phone reactived with my old number
"How long has your account been inactive"
"Most carriers put numbers back into distribution after 1-2 weeks of being inactive. You can't get your number back."
-No you don't understand. I NEED that number.
This was one of my favorite memories and luckly it happened with a woman with a good sense of humor.
She had gotten in an argument with a family friend she contracted to fix her kitchen sink and she didn't know why for months till he showed her the text records.
Once the work was done, she sent him a short text saying "Thank you."
What the man had recieved was "Thank %#@#%# you."
This apparently wasn't the only time this happened. Currently her elderly mother was upset with the censored profanity she had been including in text messages. Fortunatly for her, once she realized this was happening she quickly spread the word she wasn't typing these things in. When I looked at her phone I couldn't see anything wrong with the settings. Best I could figure was that it was a virus. Possibly my favorite I've encountered. Though unfortunatly the only solution I could offer was a factory reset. The woman passed cause she wanted a chance to back up her data before going through with it.
I suggested she keep it. Since all her friends and family knew about it already, she'd probably could get away with adding a few @#$%#$@ herself.
While working I attended school to get a degree in Computer Science. My first year I only had a laptop to do all my work from. The odd thing was it would not compile nor run any code I wrote. I would spend every week writing, and trying to debug my assignments that would never ever run. And I would never get the same errors.
Half way though the semester I even tried doing a fresh install of the OS and still got nowhere.
I got a B in that class. My professor was able to compile and run every piece of my code just fine.