It’s no secret that I know my stuff when it comes to technology – I’m not sure why, but I can’t help being a bit of a geek, and right from my very first dabblings with computers, I was never afraid to dig around inside the case and beyond – my first ‘proper’ computer, (i.e. PC), was a second hand 286/AT, and by the time it was finally replaced it had suffered the indignities of having had me take a hacksaw to the casing, with numerous cables and other paraphernalia escaping from the resulting gaping maw and several additional, carefully positioned drill holes. It looked like a patient in intensive care following major surgery, but in my eyes it was a thing of beauty.
I’ve never really grown out of that geekish appreciation of computer hardware. Over the years I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been described as the office ‘expert’, ‘computer whizz’ or ‘IT genius’ and had people turn up on my doorstep with their ailing machines, hoping for a magic cure. People have often turned to me, rather than official help desks and experts, stating they’re more likely to get things fixed that way, and suggesting that I’d be much better off in a role of that nature. However, I wouldn’t – I’d rather wrestle crocodiles than subject myself to being sat at the end of a phone, patiently trying to explain to complete idiots just why they can’t find the ‘any’ key on their keyboard. There’s the oft-cited belief that the only advice you ever get from tech support is “Turn it off and back on again” – trust me, if I was in tech support, I’d be telling you, “Turn it off. Walk out of the room and never, ever go near a computer again!”
Even so, I do try to be helpful when people need technical help, particularly in SL where even the most tech-savvy user can find themselves becoming hopelessly confused. It’s not unknown for me to spend a whole evening assisting a fellow resident with a problem that they’ve simply not been able to resolve through the normal channels, and I do try my best to ensure – before I plunge into the fray – that I understand the problem; that I know the salient details about their system and operating environment; and only then will I attempt to draw on the appropriate sources to come up with a solution. A by-product of this approach is that I’ve gained a fairly extensive understanding of a wide range of factors that can contribute to things going horribly wrong, along with the peculiarities of different viewers and operating systems – in short, I can usually resolve even the most complex SL problems fairly rapidly, and if I can’t, I know when it’s something that needs to be escalated and I can signpost people towards a resolution.
However, just lately, I’m finding that giving sound technical advice is becoming something of a battleground – firstly, there’s a large number of people out there who choose to ignore any pointers they are given, in favour of fiddling about randomly themselves and then storming off in a huff because I haven’t resolved their problem. Why even ask for help in the first place?
Then there’s the background noise of well-meaning, but ill-informed, experts who like to gatecrash any attempt to fix a problem with a whole host of hair-brained solutions, ultimately adding to the confusion and quite possibly making the situation even worse than it already was. These are the sort who are convinced that rebooting a router, clearing cache or rebaking will solve any SL problem known to humankind, and will cheerfully give out a list of meaningless instructions referring to menus and options that don’t even exist in the viewer that the hapless victim happens to be using. Just because you’ve used Imprudence since day one doesn’t mean that everyone does, or for that matter, should! I’ve heard people tell fellow residents experiencing problems that the issue is because they’re using the SL viewer and they can fix it by downloading Firestorm, (and this from someone who’s not even using a remotely up-to-date version of Firestorm because they’re ‘waiting for the bugs to be ironed out’!). The (wholly predictable) result – an avatar, still experiencing the same problem, but now stuck with an unloaded inventory, in a viewer that is totally unfamiliar to them and with none of their personalised settings applied… Good call!
It was a situation like the above that finally pushed me over the edge: A fairly new resident had been experiencing problems for a couple of weeks. Some investigation on my part revealed their operating system, viewer and set up. After my initial attempts at simple fixes, I told them I’d get back to them. Ten minutes later, I’d searched the JIRA, reviewed the technical forums, solicited some advice and was pretty sure I was getting somewhere. Unfortunately, the poor resident I’d been trying to help had, in the meantime, received ‘help’ from half a dozen others, ranging from the dubious to downright crazy – none of which had even sought to address the actual problem. They were now stood, arms stretched out and unable to move, in the middle of the room, using an unfamiliar viewer and still suffering from the original problem.
That’s the point at which I thought to myself, “Sod it”.
So, tech support is closed – at least until I can summon the will to try again. Until then, if you’ve a problem, then I’m afraid it really is your problem.
I’m going shoe shopping instead!
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
Young@Heart – Fix You