Emerging Tech optimize

Not everyone can (or wants to) be a geek


Geeks, particularly those of us who work in IT, are not generally tolerant of users who are not technically savvy. We have pet names for their issues (PEBCAT or ID10T errors) and tell horror stories about unplugged computers and CD-ROM coffee cup holders. However, there are plenty of users who simply do not need the level of understanding of technology that those of us in the industry possess. For every technophile in line to buy an iPhone over the weekend, there are about a dozen people who couldn't care less about how the computer does its stuff, as long as it gets done.

Durham: Don't Look Down Upon the Technologically Clueless (FOXNews.com)

In fact, some of the leaders in the computer industry, like the new head of NTT DoCoMo, have tremendous business acumen to make up for their technophobia. Furthermore, one of the biggest areas of development in computing is making it easy for even the biggest technophobes to use computers and other digital technologies.

Biz Wiz: She Knows What You Want (Wired)

BabelDisc: Linux for technophobes? (CNET News.com)

I have tried to be as helpful as possible to my users without being condescending. I am so proud of my ability to relay technical information to average users that I call myself a "geek to English translator." I try to recognize that some people simply don't care about what happens under the hood as long as their e-mail goes out, their spreadsheet calculates properly, or their letters mail merge like they are supposed to.

Do you get frustrated with people who have no interest in learning how to use computers? What types of users really get your goat, and what do you do to deal with them? Do you try to be understanding, or do you show contempt? Join the discussion.

27 comments
mjs1138
mjs1138

This is a very simple problem; remember that IT is a SERVICE it DOES NOT MAKE MONEY. I work in a research group at a university, the PhD's shouldn???t spend time fixing or dealing with IT problems; that's why they hired me. We should be thankful that not every one knows how to do what we do; otherwise we would be out of work. Quit complaining and appreciate your opportunity to do what you like. If you don't like it do something else.

tessakaine
tessakaine

This and many other comments are mere observations. Yes it is good that some people dont know about pc's but there are also those that think they know and they cause more problems. Education is key for these pople. I enjoy my job. I wouldnt do it if i didnt. The 'complaining' as you call it is all part of it. Its life training. And as for IT not making money... in some sectors it doesnt... but then again where would Bill gates be if IT didnt make money?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Without IT, he'd have found some other young industry to pillage through business tactics. :) Thanks goodness some parts of IT still make money though. Hear, Hear for all us geeks that work with tech because we love it.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

He is a master businessman not a master technologist. I love my work as well. I think that only those of us who love IT are still in IT after the shakeout earlier in this decade.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I defy any business to make money WITHOUT IT. We are not 'service', we are VALUE ADDED. You could hire 100 typists and get the work done that an Admin can do with a word-processor. I'm tired of that old saw being brought out. Saying that IT doesn't make money is like saying that the machine that makes the socks doesn't make money for the company that sells the socks.

Sean Mullin
Sean Mullin

I have the utmost compassion for the technologically challenged, especially those that know it. The ones I have a great deal of trouble with are the ones that believe they are tech savvy but end up causing more issues. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

nubbs17
nubbs17

Couldn't agree more, especially when those people are the ones in your company that hold important positions...

D.I.Y.
D.I.Y.

In my current environment the biggest example of the know-it-alls who really know little are folder and share security settings. I have seen some insane settings! Shares set with Everybody being denied everything. Folders set with Everybody set to Full. ACLs with over 150 individual AD User accounts with a variety of settings. I can't count the number of times I have had to take ownership, force that down, fix security at the top level, and just for fun force that down, as well, because some user who accidentally right clicked on a folder once 5 years ago looked at properties and ran wild with the newfound knowledge. File and folder ACLs are deceptively easy.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

We had this one super user who was also management in another division who was the double-whammy. She went about saying how long something SHOULD take us and tried to boss us around as well.

tessakaine
tessakaine

We have a fair few f them coming throught the store... Usually comments like yesterdays blinder... I bought all me components from you and ive put them together... but the processer is running at 105c and it keeps switching off!! Solution was simple for those in the know. We explained that he had not fastened his processor heatsink and fan down properly. Easy mistake and one that i made twice when the new intel fan/sink came out. Now he know then he wont do it again. But he thought he knew all about pc builds. shows what he didnt know! Tess

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

As we've had to live with the many incarnations of buggy technology and fixed much of it personally, I think we tend to forget that John Q Public simply doesn't want to be bothered. Let me make an analogy that many of us may relate to. I know NOTHING about cars, and I think many of us are far from expert in that department. How would we feel if auto-makers made cars as unreliable as IT technology. You put your key in the ignition and it doesn't start. You call your mechanic and tell him it doesn't start. Now imagine getting the standard attitude or dressing down many of us give users. Now, imagine how we'd feel if the dealer who sold it to us said "Oh, you just need to unplug the battery, then plug it in again". or something else like that. Our attitude would likely be "I bought the darn car because I wanted to DRIVE it, not FIX it!", yet we expect users to somehow be patient with something they use not working....

dancer1117
dancer1117

Excellent analogy; it describes my frustration completely. I am a mainframe programmer and I have a PC at home to read email and to be able to log on to work when I am on call. I don't do anything else with it because, compared to the dependability of a mainframe, a PC doesn't even come close. I've tried to use various personal apps over the years but have never been successful. The manuals don't seem to match the fuctionality of the app or are so poorly written as to be unusable, and as someone very accustomed to using manuals to learn a new tool or product I find this also frustrating. Even our PCs at work seem to be unpredictable and unreliable. Sometimes it seems like I never get the same results twice. Sometimes I just want to scream "Give me back my greenscreen so I can get some work done!!"

ismith
ismith

The ones that bug me more than those who don't know and admit that they don't know are those who know just enough to be dangerous. In other words, they know how to delete a file but aren't aware that by can't delete any file they think they don't need. For example, back in the good old DOS days, I sold a computer I didn't need any more. The guy who bought it came to me a few days later and said, "That computer you sold me is junk. It doesn't work any more." When I checked it out, he had deleted command.com and the entire operating system folder because "he didn't use those files for anything."

prettycoder
prettycoder

yes , i accept it.My dad is a surgeon.He is famous in his field,but he isn't interested in computer- electronic things.So as my sis. She is also a doctor.For her,everything must be ok when she has to do something with computer.I feel as though they don't understand the way of computer stuff.They expect 0 defect.I think the attitude of doctors and we are different . am i right ?

Wayne M.
Wayne M.

I guess I side with the surgeon and doctor above. I think we get too comfortable with technology and just accept difficult to use and unreliable technology. I have two catagories of appliance at home, those that I never have called tech support for, and those based on computers. The clueless users are right, we need to make technology easier to use and more reliable.

nubbs17
nubbs17

Comment, and anecdote. We recently set up a remote office with 3 girls. I was called in one day because they just couldn't get their printers to work. When I showed up, none of the printers where even plugged in. Their response? "I thought they were wireless." I always try to give the users in our company at least a "kindergarten" level of understanding on the hard/software they will be using, and I always tell them "If you know at least a little bit about how this works, you may be able to avoid serious problems later." Aside from the above mentioned brain fart, most of our users seem to catch on rather quickly. My question to all of you is; How do you react when it's obvious that a senior member of the IT department doesn't really know his stuff? I can provide examples later.

C_Tharp
C_Tharp

put someone in charge of IT that doesn't have the wherewithall, the staff underneath have a difficult situation. They can train their managers or find another job. It's a very personal decision as to whether you give away your education to someone who has obviously not invested in one. I am not talking about training someone new in the information that is unique to the job. That is always necessary. I am talking about the foundation in concepts, techniques, languages, and tools necessary for doing the work. When I encountered it, I had to leave.

retro77
retro77

If its a senior member of the IT department [non manager and above] and is getting paid to know his stuff and doesnt know his stuff...its time for that senior level person to find a new place to work.

Andy Moon
Andy Moon

I have long been of the opinion that a trained user is far less likely to cause unintentional damage than one who has been trained. So, when I encounter users who are causing problems, I try to get them signed up for one of my training classes. If that doesn't work, I try some one-on-one time for them to get them in a position where they know how to do what their job requires. I have been pretty successful, but I work in education, where it seems that most people actually want to learn. What has your experience been when dealing with technophobes?

Fred123456
Fred123456

No matter the level of experience I have alway followed a common theme with all my users. Their is nothing the IT Department can't fix. Aside from physical damage I tell all my users to play, explore, and enjoy their PC. I offer classes that are always filled and we have policies in place that don't let our users get in to areas that cause real damage. So I encourage them as much as possible to ask questions, explore, and enjoy.

C_Tharp
C_Tharp

My biggest problem is my own. If I could only determine what type of person I am trying to help, I could tailor the education to them. Unfortunately, I am not very good at it. I will eventually get it right, but I might have to try a few times. I have successfully helped all kinds of users. There are those that are analytical, but only want to know enough to get their job done. There are those that know nothing about computers and need the basics. There are those that are not so intelligent, but are willing to try and, thankfully, willing to follow a script. But, the ones that get me into trouble are the ones that appear to be capable, but just have a good smoke screen. They will never do the same thing twice. They will not follow a script. They will complain at the drop of a hat and it is always the computer's or my fault. When I identify one of them, I give them the minimum. Anything extra is wasted effort. I just wish I could see it at the outset.

retro77
retro77

WTF? PEBCAK...break it down: Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard Whats the T for? Table? Ted?

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I don't know either... But I've seen PEBKAC Problem exists between keyboard and chair... I've not seen PEBCAK before though....

tww356
tww356

...Buzzword-Compliant. They can be amusing until they make serious management decisions based on their buzzwordology.

Locrian_Lyric
Locrian_Lyric

I worked for a major telecom company (no names, but their logo looked like the Death Star, and they had 3 letters and an ampersand in their name) The hair there was pointy enough to impale someone...... Meetings were hell on earth as you got to sit through 10 managers all saying the same thing, but with different buzzwords to make it sound like they knew what they were talking about.

prplshroud
prplshroud

I too have only seen it as pebkac. I'm thinking that Andy the Author might be hiding behind that pointy haired shield. :) I once worked for someone who's hair was so pointy, he took the moniker KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) and just used KIS instead. He used to say in meetings "We in IT follow the kiss principle. Keep it Simple...we leave off the last S." I have yet to encounter a boss who's hair was a pointy as his, nor do I think I ever will. Disclaimer: My comment about the author is purely in jest as I have no idea who he is, but it made me think of this PHB and the misery he spread to all around him. He truly was the finest example of PEBKAC.

retro77
retro77

Repetition always works. And when you are showing someone how to do something, always have them "drive" so that they can start remembering where things are.