I got a shoutout from my eldest sister over MSN today about a colleague of hers considering getting a laptop for his work. Having worked at her company for a while before deciding I was going crazy and would never rejoin the legal industry ever again, I knew exactly what kind of person her colleague was, and exactly what kind of computer he needed.
He was a technophobe. And he needs the most powerful computer he can afford.
How does one come to such a conclusion when every forum you read, every salesperson you talk to and every friend-who-has-a-computer you know says that if you’re only getting a computer to do basic stuff like surf porn and read email, you only need a basic computer? Here’s some points to think about that I have garnered in my years of technical support for people who don’t pay me (and some who do, but very little):-
- People who use computers the least complain the most about them.
- People who use computers for only their most basic functions always manage to spoil them in the most complex, unthinkable ways.
- People who ask other people for advice on what computer to buy, shouldn’t be thinking about buying computers in the first place.
- People who get asked by other people about what computer to buy, need to avoid answering that question, change their mobile phone numbers and run far, far away.
Now allow me to run through these inconspicuously salient points one by one.
1. People who use computers the least complain the most about them.
The very person whom my sister was talking about is the same person I had to sit next to in the same office while working as a hapless paralegal, and the same person who was complaining to me again and again about why his computer was running o slowly, why he could not get an Internet connection, why his email was taking so long to download, why his computer was taking so long to boot up, why there are pop-up windows of naked women and Viagra ads disturbing his work, etc. etc. And all he does on his computer pretty much every day is boot up, check email, surf porn, and shut down.
2. People who use computers for only their most basic functions always manage to spoil them in the most complex, unthinkable ways.
Consider my boss, the high-flying business owner who travels a lot and does not go anywhere nor do anything without her laptop. On my advice (which completely contradicts the point that I wish to make on this post because I so blindly followed the opinions of the entire world of geeks before me) bought an end-of-run Fujitsu notebook because I thought, apart from the Photoshop and AutoCAD, she doesn’t need something that powerful. Now, not only are her applications running too slow and her Internet connection settings keep getting lost, but she managed to break her laptop chassis within months of usage, causing multiple, almost indecipherable problems on her machine, not to mention making her laptop look like it has been through the 1991 Iraq war.
3. People who ask other people for advice on what computer to buy, shouldn’t be thinking about buying computers in the first place.
So you go up to the one person (or five) who owns a computer/works on computers for fun/looks like he knows the computing industry on account of he wears glasses to find out what computer you should get. The next question is invariably, “What will you use it for?” For the most part, it is a rhetorical question. When we say “What will you use it for?”, we actually mean, “Why? You don’t even know how to use one.” But in order not to seem rude, we let you answer the question anyway.
“Oh, I thought maybe I would just use it to check email, do a little surfing on the Web, and maybe play some Solitaire,” you reply.
So after running through a few more of your habits and requirements, the doctors of tech write you a prescription, and you go down to the local PX (Sim Lim General Hospital or Funan Specialist Clinic, you decide), collect your computer and call us the next morning. And THEN you realise after a few weeks, this isn’t the kind of computer I really want. And then you plague the friend who recommended you the purchase in the first place with point number 1 again. Then inevitably, whilst figuring out how to use the damn thing, you break it, thus bringing you down to point number 2. So you call up a friend and ask what computer you can get to replace this one; point number 3. It’s a vicious cycle.
4. People who get asked by other people about what computer to buy, need to avoid answering that question, change their mobile phone numbers and run far, far away.
This really is the only way to break the vicious cycle, especially if you’re not privy with the advice I am about to give, and are so inept as an advice giver you might as well keep your mouth shut. To know if you are just that inept at dishing out computer purchasing advice, just look out for this scenario: a friend asks you what computer to get, and you tell them. Said friend gets computer, and suddenly your mobile line is added to your friend’s speed dial so he can ask you for technical support. And when things go wrong with the computer, and you are at a loss as to how to help, you get this gem of a retort: “But you were the one who recommended me this tmachine in the first place!” You are tagged for life.
So next time someone asks you for computer recommendations, do either one of 2 things:
- Avoid answering that question, change your mobile phone number and run far, far away.
- Recommend the best computer in the class that your friend can afford (and not the class that he should use), and make sure he also purchases a renewable full-coverage warranty/computer insurance/repair & replacement service to go along with it (like Dell’s CompleteCover, or check out this article for tips on enhancing your warranty). Then change your mobile phone number and run far, far away.
The theory behind getting a tech noob the best computer his money can buy is simple; in most cases there will not be cognitive dissonance because of the higher power he is being introduced to. Also he has less to complain about since the computer can perform so well beyond his normally recommended class of usage in the first place already. AND because of the additional warranty coverage, he is less inclined to call you should something go wrong. Sure computers have a lifespan of 3-4 years, after which it will be time to make another change, but likely he will have enjoyed his computing experience with his machine so much that he will be able to figure out for himself what kind of computer he should get next.
Even if your friend is ever gonna call you for advice, you’re still safe. You changed your mobile number, right?