For the past two summers, I’ve worked at a level 1 tech support job at my college. For those unfamiliar with this jargon, this means that I’m the person who sits at the help desk, and attempts to help out anyone who comes into the desk, or calls the phone, or e-mails us. Technically speaking, it’s a pretty simple job, as we do some basic troubleshooting, then bump any issues up to level 2 if we determine we need to fix something in person.
Today, I was on the phone with someone, and they inadvertently reminded me of the difference between “technical” people and “non-technical” people.
The phone call was simple: Gmail brought up a page reporting that the person’s browser was out of date because they were using Internet Explorer. I suggested that he install Chrome, as it is a faster and more secure web browser, and now our “officially supported” browser, and proceeded to walk him through the installation.
And when I say walk him through the installation, I mean walk him through every step of the installation. Every button he should click, when he should click them, etc. During this process, he explained to me why he was asking for my help at every step of the process:
I’m always worried I’m going to blow something up.
So, this is the difference between “tech” people and “non-tech” people: the non-tech people think that if they click a wrong button, their computer will either explode, or stop working permanently. The tech people have opened their computer to find that no explosives are contained within.
One of the things I enjoy doing is breaking my operating system. I use Ubuntu Linux as my main operating system, and regularly do stupid things that might be considered destructive. But that’s OK — I know that I can always get my data, and I enjoy going through the processes of figuring out what went wrong, and how to fix it.
In a word, I’m fearless when fixing computers: I know that if I click the wrong button, there’s always a way to go back or undo whatever I just did. Sometimes, this is as simple as clicking a “back” or “undo” button. Sometimes it’s a bit more involved, but that’s OK! Because it means I’m going to learn what doesn’t work, and possibly learn something more about my operating system while I attempt to fix what’s broken.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give to non-tech people, it’s this: don’t be afraid to click buttons. Seriously. Most buttons you press are not going to permanently destroy your software. If you’re worried about losing data, make a backup of whatever file you’re working, then click buttons to your hearts content!
Well, I wasn’t sure I was going to make a blog post about this, but I feel I have to. As I’m sure you’re well aware, Apple announced on Wednesday a new product that they guaranteed would once again revolutionize computing. It was the product people have been waiting for Apple to make, and Apple finally delivered. What is this “magical” product? It’s none other than Apple’s new tablet computer: the iPad.
But… if you’ve seen any of the press about the iPad, you might be confused by what I just wrote. Almost every tech blog I know is bashing the iPad for being an all-around crappy product. Considering myself a technology enthusiast, I can only say this: I agree. Apple had the potential to dip into a market that no one’s really gotten quite right, and create a booming industry for themselves, like they did with the iPod. It seems, however, that they’ve ruined their chance to do that. So, where did Apple go wrong? I’ll start with the obvious and most-touted answer, and I’ll try to work down to some more original points, but pretty much everything’s been covered already. However, if you do really like the iPad, keep reading to the end of the article, and I’ll try to point out what Apple has done right. (continue reading…)