Monday, August 27, 2007

The software 'expert'

It's bad enough being the family software 'expert'. I'm sure you know the deal, those of you in the software field. You're known to dabble in computers and suddenly you're the fount of all wisdom, whether it's your field or not. It's almost impossible to explain that software development is quite a different skill to system administration. As a result, you get lumbered with ridding someone's machine of whichever nasty malware or virus they contracted because they didn't follow your sage advice about internet safety.

It's worse when the solution actually turns out to be quite simple. I was tasked with just such a responsibility this weekend; Matt (Shelby's almost new husband) needed assistance with his laptop - it couldn't burn CD's anymore, nor could he reinstall iTunes software because the installer insisted, repeatedly, that the uninistallation of Gear software required a reboot. Reboot, try again and it still insisted.

The Gear problem was simple; there had to be a flag somewhere and my guess was the registry. A quick search on the product name and there it was, the DeleteOnReboot flag was set. A search of the hard disk (not quite so quick) failed to turn up anything in the way of Gear software, which hardly surprised me. Delete the offending registry key and suddenly iTunes was clogging up his system again!

The CD burner problem was almost as simple; somehow or other he'd managed to install software for a DVD-RAM disk whilst his burner was simple DVD-RW. He swears he never installed that software but we all know what the memory of a user is like. Uninstall that driver and voila, away we go! A pity it was so easy; I can't rely on the difficulty factor to ward off the next request. On the other hand, he's a builder and it's always good to have a builder in the family. Even better if one can trade skills and expertise!

Back in the 1970's, when I repaired TV sets for a living, I used, at parties, to tell anyone who asked that my occupation was interstate truck-driver. At least it got me out of having to try and diagnose ill described symptoms manifested by a brand of TV set my interlocutor couldn't remember. It always amazed me (still does) that someone can sit in the same room as the idiot box for years on end and have no idea what brand it is. Though perhaps that's merely professional overkill on my part.

At least the poor bewildered soul who views a computer as a tool has the right idea. My own computer (the one I'm writing this on at home) died a horrible death about four months ago. I'm pretty sure it was the motherboard. But whatever, it was a splendid excuse to upgrade to an Athlon Dual Core machine.

Two days later I was finally back to where I wanted to be but with one large change. I still haven't installed either Microsoft Office or any kind of development environment. I finally decided it was time to stop using a computer as an end in itself and start using it as a tool for the other things I'm interested in.

Is that my first wife I hear shouting in the distance 'about bloody time'???


matttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeee said...

. . . hmmm . . . ill described TV faults . . . did I mention that I think I have a sickness . . . a sickness thats repeated itself about 9 times :) When did u say you were coming back to the land of Oz? . . . and do you know where I can get a leather apron . . . not long to go now :)

maaatttttttttteeeeeee said...

. . . me again . . . AWA, Ekco, HMV and Admiral lol

Rob said...

What? You didn't buy an Astor? Shame on you mate!!!