December 25, 2018

I Would Really Like to Have Techie Support!


Maybe you received a new computer, tablet, smartphone, or wireless speaker for Christmas. Maybe you are still trying to get the electronic device you received last Christmas to work properly. You ask Alexa to turn on a light and it plays a song instead.

Over the years more than one retiree has said that he or she really misses the technical help they got at work. Having someone from the IT or the support department install new software, replace an aging computer, or hook you up to the office wireless printer was a perk that ended with your last paycheck. Only when it is gone did you realize how much you depended on it. 

For many of us, few things are more irritating and frustrating than sitting in front of a computer staring at something that looks like a virus, having your Roku unable to locate your home wireless network, or discovering your smartphone has a battery life measured in minutes. The joy of getting a new tablet is quickly replaced by the dread of getting it to work: transferring all your files, finding the  license numbers for the software, uploading all the apps you have become dependent on.

Wouldn't it be great if the type of technical support you got at work was still readily available. You'd place a call, send a text, or type a quick email and someone magically appeared to take away your pain. 



Unfortunately, except for those who read Microsoft manuals for fun, we are pretty much on our own. Yes, there are companies that will help you, for a cost.  People from the Geek Squad or Data Doctors can come to your rescue.

Maybe you have a grown son or daughter, or even a grandchild who can work wonders. Youtube has video tutorials that may allow you to solve a problem, and there are online companies that can analyze some of your problems without coming to your home. Of course, if the computer is not working, how do you go online to get help?

There are some retirement communities that have tech-savvy residents who are glad to help someone else solve a problem. Most libraries have computer stations. The people maintaining them can often recommend where to go for help.

So, today's question is, where do you turn for help? What is your go-to solution when you face a technical hurdle? How do you get back in the techie game?

Virtually all of us will face these problems at one time or another. Can you offer us any solace?

29 comments:

  1. I would be lost without my children's help when it comes to so much of today's technology. Everything is so intuitive for them.

    My husband and I try to keep it simple when it comes to tech. I have a Macbook and an iPhone, my husband has an iPad and an iPhone - that's it. We keep our security up to date. Most every decent sized city has an Apple store if we run into serious trouble and need help, but we use online help quite a bit and can usually find an answer to fix things if the problem is not too serious.

    We don't hate technology and are not Luddites but we still haven't found a good reason *for us* to own a lot more than what we have. We don't have a problem with others wanting or needing more, but as long as we can operate and fix minor issues on our laptop, tablet, phones, microwave and TV we're OK. For now anyway.

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    1. Our daughters can help us with simple things, like text-to-type setup. But, even at their youngish age (late 30's), today's technology can be a little baffling. Everything changes so quickly.

      I bought a smart speaker well over a year ago after a dare from a blog reader. I just figured out how to hook it up through the stereo system so it sounds better! No rush for me.

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  2. My go to person? That would be me. I install all the electronic devices in the house including PCs, tablets, networks, streaming TV services, wireless security systems, and on and on. I believe Deb thinks I am her personal IT support person since I seem to fulfill that role more often than not. I look at it as a challenge and I tend not to get flustered like many.

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    1. OK, everyone in the mid south, Chuck is your IT guy.

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  3. Today is my second day of retirement. Having worked in a church for more that 30 years, I have usually been the IT person. Fortunately, I am geeky myself and have worked helping people with their computer issues into ministry. Still many things frustrate me and I have a few simple suggestions for people with computer issues (especially those that are not part of the Apple hegemony).

    1. Reboot. (Turn the whole thing off and back on again.) It's amazing how often things will get fixed by rebooting. (And even before this step, would you please make sure it's plugged in)

    2. Read the page. It can be so frustrating when a new page pops up on a computer instead of what you are expecting. But you're smarter than you think. Take the time to read the page that came up. There may be information that you need to solve your problem. There may be an error code. There may be a help button. There may be a link to some page that's really where you need to be. Since web page creators don't necessarily use the help of usability specialists (that is the web pages aren't created in a helpful or easy to read fashion) this may require patience. It's often worth the trouble, especially if you keep getting stuck in the same place.

    3. Google the problem using the fewest number of words possible (and the most precise). When typing a google search more words usually produces more erroneous responses. So if you google something like "I have a problem with my Hp Printer," you'll get millions of unhelpful responses. But an error code and a model number together for example may get you exactly what you need. My general rule: start with the fewest and most precise terms you can think of for the problem. If you don't get enough responses add one more term at a time.

    4. Youtube. Again search with a few precise words. Some helpful person may have put a video of your solution up.

    5. User groups. If you have a popular electronic item there may very well be a user group that you could seek help from. It will take a little longer but in my experience people on these groups are very helpful. (In fact some of them must not sleep or work because they always seem to be volunteering their time to help other people). You might have to join the group to post a problem. Be sure and use their search box (almost never as good a search engine as google, unfortunately) to see if someone has already posted the problem.

    And of course: the calmer you remain, the easier it will be.

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    1. FIrst of all, congratulations on your retirement. Welcome to the brave new world of freedom and personal growth, along with daily challenges that make you wonder if you made the right choice!

      My wife is one of the technological lost. Whenever she gets stuck I will hear a plaintive, "Bob?" Often, your first suggestion is the answer. After opening dozens of programs and loading countless pictures in a photo program, even with 12gb of RAM things will slow down and lock up. Reboot is the first step. Most of the time, problem solved.

      Youtube is like Wikipedia, but with pictures. There isn't a subject that doesn't have video how-tos or how-not-tos. Of course, if you are locked out of your computer, that option becomes problematic.

      My favorite word of advice from my Internet provider is to consult their website to find answers. Well, if I could connect to the Internet, I wouldn't need to search for a solution!

      Happy retirement, David.

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    2. David, I love the advice about remaining calm. Boy, is that an issue here. My husband just curses, but is still bringing up the time I threw my laptop on the floor.

      I try, honestly I do. :D

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  4. I am the more 'techy' of the two of us, but we also rely on our grown kids to help us through some of the things we get stuck on. And I doubt we use half the abilities of our iPhones or laptops. However, we are Apple folks, and their tech support is great. But the next generation is the best help we've found. For example, I learned three things I didn't know about my iPhone yesterday in a discussion with one of my nieces at Christmas dinner. 😂 I guess I didn't need those functions, but it's always interesting to hear about things my phone COULD do.

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    1. Absolutely! I enjoy delving into the "advanced" sections of various pieces of technology to discover what I could do. Like you, usually I don't care or want that hidden function. But, it is amazing what is locked away inside those "things."

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  5. I have my children. They are all great with it. My 11 yr old grandson is moving into the role of being able to fix things. My husband is really good- and stays on top of things.
    My back up is my nephew. He just unwound my mother's stuff yesterday as her Christmas present. It was an all day affair! He put a waring on the phone that if one of my brothers "fixes it" it will implode in their hands. They tend to add more to get it to work. He had lots of "stripping" to do.
    Since we are limited in what we use- it is all good. In ten years....it will be interesting.

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    1. When you buy a new computer, the first few days are spent in getting it to work and deleting all the added stuff that the manufacturer loaded that doesn't serve a purpose. I have noticed that this tendency to put all sorts of junk on a computer is diminishing. So many apps and things are cloud-based, that actual application on your machine are thinning out.

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  6. We do Google searches for pretty much all tech-type issues, with about 95% success. We turn to our son-in-law after that, the smartest person we know. If all else fails, we call out the Geek Squad.

    We work to keep our electronic life very simple as well, primarily to avoid future stress. I do feel it's important to learn about new technology in order to stay relevant, but I don't feel it's necessary to actually own it. As long as I understand it, I can participate in discussions about it with the younger generation. Which is good enough for me!



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    1. Get what makes your life easier or more productive while avoiding things that are mostly bells and whistles. I expect to stick with my 3 year old smartphone until it no longer performs well. I will have the battery replaced but feel no need to get the latest version of something that continues to fulfill my needs. Verizon is not happy!

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  7. Like others, Alan and I will often ask our kids for technology help if there is something we're not able to figure out on our own. But here are a few additional suggestions . . .

    AARP members have access to free classes through the organization's "Learn@50+" program (https://learn.aarp.org). Various types of simple technology classes are available, as are other classes related to caregiving and job search skills.

    Find out if your local continuing or adult education program offers courses for seniors related to technology. In our community, these courses are often free or at reasonable cost and there is a Senior Net technology program available that is staffed by volunteers who help seniors deal with tech issues.

    Check with your local library to see if there are any technology-related programs available. A volunteer comes into our library one or two afternoons a month to set up a Help Desk so anyone can come by to gather information or obtain help with a tech problem.

    Like Tamara and her husband, Alan and I lead a simple electronic life (by choice), but I do ask our kids about the technology they're using in an attempt to stay current with what's going on in that field. I have to admit that today's technology feels like both a blessing and a curse to me - can't live with it and can't live without it.

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    1. Good points, Mary. Our library system as well as all community colleges in the area have special computer classes for Seniors, and they are not just the basics. If you want to learn Excel or Powerpoint or even to code, there are options.

      OLLI classes are available, plus multi-part series on YouTube.

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  8. Some manufacturers have a premium level of support available that you can purchase when you buy your equipment. I never had never bought this level of service before. I thought it was like buying an extended warranty which might sound good but is mostly useless, however, when I bought my last PC the 3 year premium support was added at no cost to sweeten the deal when I was on the phone with the manufacturer complaining that I couldn't get exactly the configuration I wanted (it also came with a 3 year extended warranty). The premium service info said this would cover support for everything on your PC, whether it was their hardware, the operating system, or any software that you had (theirs or not), basically it covered it all.

    I was suspicious and didn't bother to use it for some time sweating through various problems myself, then one time I thought I'd give them a call. My previous experiences with the regular basic level of support that comes included with a PC purchase were so so and I wasn't expecting much but I have to say this really was a premium service. There's a special number for those that have the premium service, my call was picked up right away, the technician was friendly, knowledgeable, and stayed on the line for as long as it took with no rush to get off and on to the next call. Clearly his performance review was based not on number of calls processed but by customer satisfaction.

    At the end of one call for a different problem I mentioned that I had some files that didn't look like they were backing up to the cloud service that I use -- which was not their service. He assumed remote access to my computer (with my permission of course) looked into the problem files and solved the issue and it wasn't a quick fix, this took some time. They really did look after any problem I had on my PC, even one that wasn't in any way connected to their product.

    This is only my experience with one company (others may have different experiences) but for those longing for PC support like they used to have at work it might be worth spending some extra for the higher level of support from the manufacturer if it's offered. I know I will in future.

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    1. I have used the remote service a time or two, with success, especially when the tech assumes control of the computer.

      When my computer was infected with Malware I had a service fix and clean everything remotely. What a blessing.

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  9. I’ve been retired 5 years from Ford Motor Company where tech support was available. I was an Industrial Engineer and later a Quality Manager for my entire career. I grew up with the desktop computer both at work and at home and adapted quickly to this new tool. I essentially grew up with the personal computer. I am 63 years old.

    In retirement I find myself being one of those “tech savvy” people you mentioned in our winter retirement community in Florida. The secret to my savviness is not that I’m all-knowing about computer stuff, rather it is that I know how to find the answers online to just about any problem and how to find new device setup instructions online. Persistence looking for best answers online is key.

    As an example, I was ready to shelve and replace an old Dell Tablet that no longer would connect to wifi. I found the perfect answer online (Google Search) which spelled out how to restore default settings. The key was the step by step instructions how to get to that setup screen and then knowing what to do when I got there. The tablet is now working perfectly. The online instructions were 4 or 5 years old. The key was typing in precisely the error message stated on my tablet’s screen into a search tool, reading through several search results and selecting the best response(s) and then having the faith to follow the instructions.

    I frequently setup new devices in Florida, for example Amazon Echo, even though I have never used or owned one. The key is to find the best instructions online. The online instructions are usually best as they embellish points that the manufacturer may miss or gloss over.

    So in summary, do online research and don’t be afraid to try the step-by-step instructions found online.

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    1. It is good you are using your knowledge to help others in your community. And I agree: the quality on online instruction is tremendously helpful.

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  10. I usually rant and swear at my computer when it goes haywire, which gets me nowhere. Then I will ask Dave if he can fix it and if that doesn't work, I call my old friend and boss to get some help. It is so frustrating, especially when you are sort of on a deadline. The laptop I have now is on its last legs, I hope, because it makes me crazy frequently. But the thought of getting familiar with a new computer is daunting. Somehow we all survive!
    b

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    1. I HATE setting up a new computer, especially a desktop. There are just so many adjustments to make it do what I want it to do. Join me in the "throw the computer into the ocean" club.

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  11. My Name is Tom Sparks and I am a Computer Technician. The majority of my clients are retirees. I work remotely with my clients all over the world using the TeamViewer remote software. I charge $13 for every 15 minutes and many times 15 minutes is sufficient to solve the issue. I would be happy to help. My email address is tom@eagletechcomputerservice.com . My website is www.eagletechcomputerservice.com and my phone number is 503-577-4201. Feel free to give me a call.

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  12. My tech life is pretty simple. I have a young cousin (early 20's) who can offer assistance. I'm thinking of all the tech capabilities that so many people don't need/use. Heck, I don't even have call display on the telephone (yes, I still have a land line). Someone asked me - but how do you know who's calling? to which I replied - I pick up the receiver & say hello!

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    1. Shouldn't smartphones be renamed since virtually no one uses them to make or receive calls?

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    2. Wow, Mona. We still have a land line, too, but most of our incoming calls are robocalls at this point. It's the only reason I need caller ID and the main reason I'm considering dumping the land line. So frustrating.

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  13. I am the default IT guy among my family and friends. Also, 2 of our 3 sons are very tech savvy and the youngest followed in his old man's footsteps into the strange, long hours, brave world of IT. My challenge is that I have a lot of technical aptitude but was in an IT management type role for the last 3/4th of my career which means I had little to no practical experience with HW repairs and most PC issues. My background was on the Data Center and high end IT infrastructure areas so I too relied on our desktop and helpdesk support to work the type of issues one would typically encounter at home. However, since everyone knew I was in IT, I am the one who usually gets the call to come rescue and I give it my best effort. The previous posts about using Youtube is 100% spot on as a good tool. With the costs of most PC equipment being fairly low compared to what it used to be 10+ years ago, I tend to replace the entire unit if it is failing due to a HW issue. Typically the equipment is more than 3 years old, and in most of corporate America, companies have a PC and equipment refresh schedule that is tied to the age of the HW and its failure rates. Commonly this refresh schedule is around 3 years for laptops and 4-5 years for desktops, so my strategy generally is, if the equipment is older than lets say 3-4 years and it has HW issues, time to refresh where when you consider new technology is generally 15-20% faster for the same price you paid for the equipment 3-4 years ago. But of course there are exceptions where a fairly new piece of equipment will fail, then it's replace and restore from backups. And for those of you who are not backing up your system, then I suggest you invest in a cloud based backup solution like Mozyhome.

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    1. A hardware failure, like a physical hard drive, or the like isn't worth fixing anymore.

      I know there is a way to install a mirror copy of whatever is on your current desktop, instead of one app and backup file at a time, but I have never figured that step out.

      I make myself feel better by saying a new computer is a good time to start fresh and clean. Any old software or files I can't locate probably aren't that important anyway. With most stuff moving to the cloud, this won't be an issue in the next few years.

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  14. I may be retired but I still like to challenge myself and find I can solve most of my tech issues and those of friends by

    1. relishing the challenge
    2. staying calm
    3. thinking through the issue
    4. being creative
    5. Google the issue....
    6. look online for a tutorial
    7. breathe

    Technology is a tool not a terror. Explore your devices and make them your friend and when there is a problem it will seem much less daunting

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    1. All excellent points. Given enough time and patience, there are very few pieces of consumer-marketed technology that cannot be made to do your bidding. And, the sense of accomplishment when you finally get something to work, is priceless.

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