Thursday, February 05, 2004

Someone must be following me around. I haven't quite reached the point of charging my friends and family for PC support, but sometimes I do get the feeling that I should be wearing a headset. "Hey, how's it going? How's work? Life? yeaaaaaaah. So the reason I am calling is I am browsing the internet and my back button is gone. It is just gone. How do I get it back?" Worse still are the angry ones. "Why the *&^@# can't I just !@#$&* save this *&%$^$ file? I hate computers." Yeah, me too sometimes. Personally, I think the problem is most people learn to use computers by forming habits or memorizing steps. "Advanced" users usually have a sense for the metaphors used in interfaces, and can think laterally when they encounter a problem. You average cursing-at-the-internet-connection user prefers to memorize actions and associated outcomes. When attempting to help someone with a memorization usage pattern, you can't "explain" anything, instead you have to list the steps. With a multi-component system, like a wireless internet connection, there are numerous failure points, and memorizing all possible resolutions isn't feasible. So, people memorize a phone number. It isn't just "unsavvy" users. I write software professionally, and the association of a person with a blackbox task like "fixing the internet connection" is a very common habit for software engineers. My best working relationships are with people who can tell me when I am using their knowledge as a crutch, and who can take it when I tell them the same. One last thing. I really enjoy helping friends and family learn about computers/software/internet. I do get a small amount of satisfaction from having a large informal group of users that I "support". If any of my supportees are reading this, and you certainly know who you are, I will still be providing 24x365 click by click support. If nothing else, I can really make my geek friends laugh with my paper-jam stories. Geeks Put the Unsavvy on Alert: Learn or Log Off

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