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  #1  
Old 06-30-2013, 3:43 PM
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Default Being Tech Support for Friends Sucks

Girl at work sent her computer home with me to take a look at, because she thinks it's full of viruses. When she told me about it ahead of time, she said it was a pretty badass gaming computer.

I said sure, I'd take a look at it. So she brought it in to me.


She told me she'd brought it at the very end of the day. When it had been sitting in her car all day long. With the temperatures like they've been.

I brought it home, and today I opened it up.

Looked like I'd opened up a pillow. I had to break out the air compressor to get rid of all the dust bunnies. Took literally 15 minutes out in the driveway with 120 psi air to get the insides more or less cleaned out. It was 10 minutes before I could even see the ASUS logo on the motherboard. The CPU cooler was packed solid with dust. Some of the case fans were seized up. There was still dust coming out of it when I gave up on the air compressor, but Jesus it was better than it started off.

Anyway. I took it back inside, plugged up a monitor / keyboard / mouse / power / ethernet ... and all it did was go in a cycle with the POST. Just on, POST, reset, POST, reset, POST.

Blah.

Looks like it's an ASUS P5N-D motherboard and an EVGA 8800GTX. Don't know what else is in there. It's really not worth fixing, though.

I hate being the one that's smart with computers.
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  #2  
Old 06-30-2013, 4:10 PM
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Wow, sounds like it may have had ACTUAL viruses with all that dust!
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Old 06-30-2013, 4:21 PM
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[img]Boring pic.[/img]

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Old 06-30-2013, 4:22 PM
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Originally Posted by joefrank64k View Post
Wow, sounds like it may have had ACTUAL viruses with all that dust!
No doubt... She caught some organic viruses... They must have materialized through the solidified dust contacting the hsfs that were in direct contact with the cpu and chipsets...

So what is wrong? can't get out of the cycle? bad PSU?
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Old 06-30-2013, 4:34 PM
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Pshh, a real tech could fix it with a paperclip.
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  #6  
Old 06-30-2013, 4:41 PM
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So what is wrong? can't get out of the cycle? bad PSU?

At this point? Don't know, don't really care. I'm leaning toward CPU or RAM problems, rather than PSU. I can't tell what the message is at the end of the POST.

It's not really worth fixing though. It's almost 6 years old as it is. It's time to just suck it up and get something different.
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Old 06-30-2013, 4:53 PM
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I hope she was at least cute and there are a few interesting pictures on it.
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  #8  
Old 06-30-2013, 5:18 PM
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I hope she was at least cute and there are a few interesting pictures on it.


She's ... a linebacker. Really. For a semi-pro women's football team. Well, she used to be, a couple years ago.

There might be pictures there, but even if I could get the computer to boot up and see them, I don't think I'd really want to.
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2013, 5:39 PM
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Pshh, a real tech could fix it with a paperclip.
MacGyver would just need duct tape an a swiss army knife.
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Old 06-30-2013, 6:06 PM
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MacGyver would just need duct tape an a swiss army knife.


My dog is clever, but I don't trust him with duct tape or knives.

Or computers, for that matter.
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  #11  
Old 06-30-2013, 6:12 PM
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kinda dated if its running a 8800
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  #12  
Old 06-30-2013, 6:21 PM
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Originally Posted by MixedMotives View Post
kinda dated if its running a 8800



That's why I said it's not really worth fixing.



That said, right now I'm using my old desktop computer instead of my laptop. It's an AMD Phenom 9850 with a pair of 4870's crossfired.


Not sure why I'm using it, tbh. My laptop's a Sandy Bridge i7. I guess I'm debating whether I really want to put the money into rebuilding it right now. I kinda-sorta think I do.
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  #13  
Old 07-01-2013, 12:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter.Steele View Post
At this point? Don't know, don't really care. I'm leaning toward CPU or RAM problems, rather than PSU. I can't tell what the message is at the end of the POST.

It's not really worth fixing though. It's almost 6 years old as it is. It's time to just suck it up and get something different.
So, you were asked to do a job, and you are deciding to say **** it? It aint worth it?

Maybe there is something on there that is important. And maybe you are one of the few people that she trusts or knows that can do it. So ask for some lunch money ($20) and diagnose the damn thing.

I am not a certified tech by ANY means, but if someone gives me a comp to check out I WILL fix it or at least figure out what is wrong. Yeah so what. I am typing this up on a socket 939 machine with 4GB of RAM and a 6800 GS. What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? This computer that I am on has been up and running since 2007 and I aint about to shelve it any time soon. Machines that are old have the BEST memories (get it? ). When I was working for the city once I found two machines on the side of the road. I picked them both up and put them in the back of my city truck, then later on I took them home and started exploring. One was an e-machine and one was a pentium 3, but they both had some funny things on them. Now of course they are in the front office about to be zapped into NIX zombies...

Yeah I dunno, maybe it is just me, I like to break machines and loot their info but as a tech I see everything as a challenge and if you don't WANT to fix it, then give it over to someone that DOES want to fix it... (PM sent)

At least figure out the issue and giver HER the decision.
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  #14  
Old 07-01-2013, 1:11 AM
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I too do this for co workers. I have received some that are flat nasty and have
made it a point to open the side if a tower while the person is still there
to see what might be inside. I get 25.00 to completely clean out the
unit and reset the chip to sink with Shin Etsu G-751 paste. If any
of the fans are dead, that's extra. After the cleaning, then the diag
and repair start, but as the OP stated, some are so very old, it's just
not worth dumping money into, but almost all tell me to get em going....so ok.

If a laptop, I look at the screen for cracks and traces of bug residue as
well as any physical damage and also if they will at least boot while
the person is still there.

The ones I WON'T mess with are the ones that have bugs running around
the inside as in cockroaches ! Nope, no, no way, adios. I always make
a point of opening in co workers car trunks or if an SUV, in the back.

I don't want any critters getting loose in my truck or home. Uh, uh !

Sorry for the thread jack, but I can easily relate to the OP's sometimes
dilemma and reluctance in doing this, though for me, I was able to
stash around 1100.00 for repairs last fall, winter, spring. That came
in really handy.

Last edited by bg; 07-01-2013 at 5:38 AM..
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Old 07-01-2013, 2:24 AM
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Quote:
some of us don't like to be forced into change when we're not ready for it or have had time to prepare..
If only MS had listened to their legions of customers before turding
Windows 8 and Windows RT..
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  #16  
Old 07-01-2013, 3:40 AM
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Dude I way rather be spending my day working end user support/hardware than where I work now (service desk...serving over +50,000 users). I hate talking to people on the phone T_T
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  #17  
Old 07-01-2013, 5:29 AM
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You should fix it ala the fax machine in office space.



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  #18  
Old 07-01-2013, 7:42 AM
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i don't do nothing for co-workers, friends or even family (except in-laws). maybe my brothers (family) if they come to me and it's done that day. but they get to do all the calling for any follow-up.

such support is easily abused. get nothing for it. they also never learn if there's a bail out/safety net. dust bunnies? clean the freaking thing! LOL

hope you get a nice lunch at least Peter. maybe just reformat the darn thing, put win2k on it or add ram and put win7 and be done with it. better yet and what i did for an admin at work, teach her how to do it. then she can teach someone else and so on and so on. any bios reset or something if it's just giving post?
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Old 07-01-2013, 8:38 AM
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I do this for a living but I'm on staff at a school, so when something breaks if it's in warranty we just have Dell send parts, if it's out of warranty we strip the box and replace it.

That said, a huge portion of my skillset came about from taking on jobs other people didn't find "worth their time." Sometimes I fixed it, sometimes not, but I learned tremendously from it.

The A-numbah-one problem with fixing a computer for a friend, co-worker, or family is this: one you touch it, now and forever when something goes wrong it's YOUR problem. "Well it ran fine up until whatever YOU did that one time..."
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Old 07-01-2013, 8:41 AM
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I am the IT department for my folks. They are in their 70's and while they can use a computer and understand basics, anytime something freezes or the internet goes down, I get the call.

I love my folks so its not really a big deal, but for simple stuff, its kinda annoying.

CB
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Old 07-01-2013, 8:50 AM
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This is why you charge for fixing things, even for friends and family. If not money, then barter goods or services.
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Old 07-01-2013, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billofrights View Post
I do this for a living but I'm on staff at a school, so when something breaks if it's in warranty we just have Dell send parts, if it's out of warranty we strip the box and replace it.

That said, a huge portion of my skillset came about from taking on jobs other people didn't find "worth their time." Sometimes I fixed it, sometimes not, but I learned tremendously from it.

The A-numbah-one problem with fixing a computer for a friend, co-worker, or family is this: one you touch it, now and forever when something goes wrong it's YOUR problem. "Well it ran fine up until whatever YOU did that one time..."
No doubt on the learning portion here, but you know what came back to bite me in the butt?

Hey I am A+ certified, and I know a lot (compared to the average joe anyways) about comps and networks but those LITTLE things that they ask at an interview, like, Use the MMC to change the password for the administrator account to xxxxx. Well, guess what? That is NOT fancy talk for control panel. I am SO kicking myself for messing up THAT one. But also, I have NEVER had to use MMC so I did not know, nonetheless, it was used against me when I failed to do it and now I am just waiting for my "thanks but we uhh, found someone better..." e-mail... Totally sucks. So now in order to go back and learn this stuff, I should prolly take a class or what not. OR, just push on through and maybe study some reading materials for test prep... :\ goddamn MMC.
:flickcig:
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Old 07-01-2013, 1:44 PM
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I'd at least tell her to keep the case off the floor. This will solve most of the dust build up problems.
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Old 07-01-2013, 1:59 PM
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Originally Posted by billofrights View Post
The A-numbah-one problem with fixing a computer for a friend, co-worker, or family is this: one you touch it, now and forever when something goes wrong it's YOUR problem. "Well it ran fine up until whatever YOU did that one time..."
This is the worst, and so true.
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Old 07-01-2013, 8:32 PM
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Originally Posted by stilly View Post
So, you were asked to do a job, and you are deciding to say **** it? It aint worth it?

Maybe there is something on there that is important. And maybe you are one of the few people that she trusts or knows that can do it. So ask for some lunch money ($20) and diagnose the damn thing.

I am not a certified tech by ANY means, but if someone gives me a comp to check out I WILL fix it or at least figure out what is wrong. Yeah so what. I am typing this up on a socket 939 machine with 4GB of RAM and a 6800 GS. What the hell is THAT supposed to mean? This computer that I am on has been up and running since 2007 and I aint about to shelve it any time soon. Machines that are old have the BEST memories (get it? ). When I was working for the city once I found two machines on the side of the road. I picked them both up and put them in the back of my city truck, then later on I took them home and started exploring. One was an e-machine and one was a pentium 3, but they both had some funny things on them. Now of course they are in the front office about to be zapped into NIX zombies...

Yeah I dunno, maybe it is just me, I like to break machines and loot their info but as a tech I see everything as a challenge and if you don't WANT to fix it, then give it over to someone that DOES want to fix it... (PM sent)

At least figure out the issue and giver HER the decision.


No, there's nothing there that's important. I've already been given blanket permission to wipe everything.

Thing is, I've also been told that there is no money available for hardware repairs, so it really doesn't matter what's wrong: she's not going to buy replacement parts. I'm not a nice enough guy to pay for replacement hardware for her out of my own pocket, and the only hardware that I have that would (potentially) be useful to her is currently installed in my desktop. Everything else is AGP & SDRAM. Never mind the fact that it's all AMD-based and not LGA775 compatible no matter what.

So, no matter what's wrong with it, if it's hardware based, it ain't getting fixed by anyone. At least it's clean though, so when she does have money either I or someone else will have an easier time dealing with it.

If it was just software issues, no problem. I can't even get it to boot from a Ubuntu live CD or USB stick. Might even be the motherboard, I'm not really sure. Pressing DEL for BIOS setup didn't do anything. Is it because it crashed before that stage, or is it because the USB port wasn't working and it never got the DEL keystroke? Who knows. Doesn't matter, because she's not buying replacement parts, and I'm not the hard-luck-sister PC repair charity.
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Peter.Steele View Post
No, there's nothing there that's important. I've already been given blanket permission to wipe everything.

Thing is, I've also been told that there is no money available for hardware repairs, so it really doesn't matter what's wrong: she's not going to buy replacement parts. I'm not a nice enough guy to pay for replacement hardware for her out of my own pocket, and the only hardware that I have that would (potentially) be useful to her is currently installed in my desktop. Everything else is AGP & SDRAM. Never mind the fact that it's all AMD-based and not LGA775 compatible no matter what.

So, no matter what's wrong with it, if it's hardware based, it ain't getting fixed by anyone. At least it's clean though, so when she does have money either I or someone else will have an easier time dealing with it.

If it was just software issues, no problem. I can't even get it to boot from a Ubuntu live CD or USB stick. Might even be the motherboard, I'm not really sure. Pressing DEL for BIOS setup didn't do anything. Is it because it crashed before that stage, or is it because the USB port wasn't working and it never got the DEL keystroke? Who knows. Doesn't matter, because she's not buying replacement parts, and I'm not the hard-luck-sister PC repair charity.
Well now that I know that I can sleep better. Okay. I would be the same way then. I would also yank all things off the mobo cept the ram and cpu and my custom pc speaker and see if it gives any errors. But that is me. It seems that I will keep coming back until I figure what it is that is busted. All capacitors and regulators look good? Burn/brown marks underneath?

Sorry. Anyways. You are doing great. Keep it up.
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Old 07-01-2013, 11:40 PM
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If it won't stay on long enough even get to BIOS, it sure does sound
like hardware. Wonder if the CMOS battery is any good ? Have
you pulled the ram and just tried it with 1 stick ? Pretty old unit.
Might try a spare PSU to see if it'll lite, but it sounds like maybe
you are just going to put it on hold due to funds and I am with you
on that. I don't buy hardware unless the client gives me money up
front for parts.

Last edited by bg; 07-01-2013 at 11:45 PM..
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  #28  
Old 07-02-2013, 6:40 AM
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it's been eons since i built up a tower. isn't there a bios reset anymore on the new mobo's these days?. pull up a compressor and blow all the dust out of all the fans and power supply? or try another supply?
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Old 07-02-2013, 9:20 AM
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Even if the cmos battery is dead the bios should still show up, it will just tell you that the cmos checksum is incorrect or something and will want you to reset it.
possibly all that crap in there bridged some connections and maybe fried something? Maybe it caught some crazy ants and they killed the electrical components.
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Old 07-02-2013, 12:26 PM
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I just put Pear OS 6.1 (Ubuntu that looks like a even more simple than Apple [hence the Pear]) on an old notebook for my lady's mother. (TRY and screw THAT up... Yo! )

I figured I would try her as a Guinna-pig for what I am going to tell everyone to do from now on... run Linux, and stop paying M$ to put out a crappier OS every time.
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Old 07-02-2013, 5:22 PM
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Originally Posted by MixedMotives View Post
kinda dated if its running a 8800
I still run a 8800gtx waiting till it dies then maybe i'm finally going to build a new rig. Card is pretty sold giving how old it is, I even used to to play bf3 with it, but now I mainly play LOL in my free time so no need to upgrade for me.
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Old 07-02-2013, 5:52 PM
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Well now that I know that I can sleep better. Okay. I would be the same way then. I would also yank all things off the mobo cept the ram and cpu and my custom pc speaker and see if it gives any errors. But that is me. It seems that I will keep coming back until I figure what it is that is busted. All capacitors and regulators look good? Burn/brown marks underneath?

Sorry. Anyways. You are doing great. Keep it up.

hah.

I might have a little more ambition to mess with it next weekend. We'll see. I was pretty pissed about having to hang out in the driveway in the sun this last weekend. That case was REALLY ****ING HOT from the sunlight. It's a Thermaltake Shark, so it's all solid black-painted aluminum. Back about 2007 / 2008 this was probably a pretty badass computer. I'm guessing that the CPU is probably a Q6600, but I can't get into the BIOS or the OS to tell, and since I don't have any Arctic Silver laying around I'm not going to pull the fan and find out.

All the caps look good, too. Nothing is obviously blown. The fans all sound terrible though, now that there's no dust to cushion the wobbling. Did I mention earlier that the CPU cooler was solid with dust, and half the case fans were frozen? I mean, frozen to the point where 120 PSI air wouldn't spin them up immediately?



Quote:
Originally Posted by bg View Post
If it won't stay on long enough even get to BIOS, it sure does sound
like hardware. Wonder if the CMOS battery is any good ? Have
you pulled the ram and just tried it with 1 stick ? Pretty old unit.
Might try a spare PSU to see if it'll lite, but it sounds like maybe
you are just going to put it on hold due to funds and I am with you
on that. I don't buy hardware unless the client gives me money up
front for parts.

CMOS battery should be irrelevant. It'll throw up an error and the clock will be wrong, and that's about it.

I've got a spare PSU. It's a 750W BFG, brand new in the box. Still has the shrink-wrap on it. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to sell it or not, so I'm not breaking the shrink-wrap on it. Therefore, I'm not going to test with that.

In a few months I'm sure she'll either go buy a WalMart special or buy new hardware to go in this case. Really, the only thing in the case that's worth re-using is the case itself. It's a very nice case. Very solid. The door on the front is annoying as all hell, but it's definitely a well built product.
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  #33  
Old 07-02-2013, 6:09 PM
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I just got a call yesterday from a completely inept buddy of mine that is always having computer problems. He is probably the most computer illiterate person you could ever imagine. I've been dealing with calls for the 10 years we have been friends and I've found it's usually easier to drive over there instead of trying to describe how to do something stupid-simple like cut & paste.

Anyhow, he calls yesterday with a virus and I'm not in the mood so I tell him I can't do it and he should take it to a buddy of mine who owns a local shop. YEAH... no more calls!

This morning, the PC shop guy texts me and says "He ripped the VGA off the main board. It is sitting in there sparking. Didn't realize it was screwed in".

Whooops :P
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Old 07-02-2013, 9:20 PM
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Ha. I tell people ahead of time, 'I work for pie'. Literally. You have to bring me 2 Marie Calendar pies if I work on your computer. Then I email them a list of the pies I want. My wife is like, "What?!?!? More pies?!?!? damn'.

I also have a regular deal with a plumber and electrician where we barter. I do their computer maintenance and they do my house maintenance. I'll tell ya, I've come out ahead in ceiling fans, outlets, lighting, water heaters, clogged main lines, hose bibs, etc.

The only problem is my dad. It goes like this..."Ok, see that icon? It's a little picture thingy. See that? Right click it. The other right...no dad, the right side of the mouse...' on and on....lol....exercise in frustration.
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Old 07-02-2013, 9:47 PM
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This is why I frequently chuck a computer out the window, and order a new crappy "state of the art" dell.

I'm still stuck in Windows 3.11 days, and if it angers me, I replace it with the newest $400 wonder laptop.
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Old 07-02-2013, 9:48 PM
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If you do computer stuff for a living your time is valuable; not even friends get work from me for free. I'll do services on credit, barter or send someone on a shopping/errand run for me, but it's not free. If that scares people off, so be it.

If you do computer stuff as a hobby the experience can be more valuable than direct compensation. There's some overlap for sure, but at some point your professional demands far exceed the personal computing challenges you'll see from friends.

I did OEM/Computer repair for years before becoming IT/Networking oriented. I've spec'ed, built, sold, repaired and serviced millions worth of computers. I don't miss those days too much anymore. However, the experience has been invaluable even though those skills aren't exercised directly in my day to day.
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Old 07-02-2013, 9:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Spyder View Post
I'm still stuck in Windows 3.11 days, and if it angers me, I replace it with the newest $400 wonder laptop.
I recently bought a 350 dollar Lenovo laptop (when it was on sale at Office Depot http://www.officedepot.com/a/product...Computer-With/ ). Installed a 120GB Crucial SSD and then 16GB of RAM (I spin up a few VMs every so often).

I'll be content for a few years.
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:38 PM
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i never tell people im in IT, i get mad at my wife when she volunteers me to fix her families computers.
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Old 07-03-2013, 7:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaMail View Post
i never tell people im in IT, i get mad at my wife when she volunteers me to fix her families computers.



Hell, I'm not even in IT. I'm a CAD designer. This girl is just in the next cubicle over from me. Has the same job title as me, but does about half the amount of work.
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Old 07-05-2013, 7:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olhunter View Post
Ha. I tell people ahead of time, 'I work for pie'. Literally. You have to bring me 2 Marie Calendar pies if I work on your computer. Then I email them a list of the pies I want. My wife is like, "What?!?!? More pies?!?!? damn'.

I also have a regular deal with a plumber and electrician where we barter. I do their computer maintenance and they do my house maintenance. I'll tell ya, I've come out ahead in ceiling fans, outlets, lighting, water heaters, clogged main lines, hose bibs, etc.

The only problem is my dad. It goes like this..."Ok, see that icon? It's a little picture thingy. See that? Right click it. The other right...no dad, the right side of the mouse...' on and on....lol....exercise in frustration.
Do you have a friend named Gabriel Iglesias?
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