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December 14, 2010

Christmas Tech Support: the Geek Who Saved Christmas

I really enjoy computers and all the geek devices. I even know the words to the "I Love Technology" song from Napoleon Dynamite. I am inclined by nature to enjoy these machines and tools.

Being a Geek is both a Blessing and a Curse. It's problematic because you're a resource to the non-digerati. Heraclitus said You can't step into the same river twice, and computers are the same way. You can't touch the same computer twice; the second time you approach it, you're working on the computer you broke last time, whether or not you actually broke it.

I love Christmas. I love the holiday spirit. I love the way that Christmas is a PowerPoint-free-zone. I love the way that work and schedules recede and family moves more to the forefront. I love giving a gift and watching for the "wow" factor in the recipient.

Christmas gifts sometimes include computers and printers and wifi a/b/g/n (oh my). A parent can spend a lot of money on Junior's computer and the immediate payback for the parent may be clarification of their ineptitude. What other consumer product presents buyers with such a frustrating experience while their family waits to play Doom Black Ops?

My personal expertise is just PCs. It's a narrow niche that's becoming smaller. I don't know an X-Box from a PlayStation. I wouldn't be of any use with a motion-sensing Kinect. But I grok PCs.

It's cool to be able to offer friends and family Christmas tech support. It's sort of a chance to be a hero; you can be The Geek That Saved Christmas. In the spirit of giving, I'd like to share the Geek Secrets of Christmas Tech Support. Here's the short version:
  • First do no harm.
    (Don't break anything else while you're trying to fix the initial gremlin.)
  • Turn it off, turn off the power, leave the room.
  • come back, turn on the power, turn it on.

If you'd prefer a more detailed version, XKCD offers this process flow-chart:

I would offer one ironclad rule that I would ask you to accept at face value: if you're visiting somebody that's having a PC problem over the holidays, never never ever say, "Wouldn't have this issue with a Mac". Trust me on this.

Finally, I'd like to suggest this link to, which is a Google project designed to send computer instructions to the non-geeks in your family. Ho Ho Ho.


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