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Do a lot of IT workers have side jobs/businesses?

By guttersnipe ·
My wife and I both work in IT. She is in sales and I am a network admin/programmer. The other day she made a comment that really got me thinking. She said that I am about the only IT person she knows that does not do IT work on the side. Now I keep questioning how much ambition I have.
Do many of you have side jobs? Or is this just a ploy to get more money and me out of the house?

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Jobs for employees

by Trek05 In reply to Do a lot of IT workers ha ...

I've offered my service, a paid service, for the needs of employees at the company. They bring me PCs, or I go to their house, troubleshoot them and do any necessary repairs.

Aside from that, I've done some side projects for outside businesses, as time permits.

Good profit.

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Same here, it started more because...

by scmgithd In reply to Jobs for employees

I was sick of handing out free help/advice. I talked to the Administrator and he told me to go ahead and charge whatever I wanted.

The cash is nice but you do end up running into those with the endless inane questions and they think they own you because they gave you $50.00 to reformat their computer.

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This is the real problem!

by Cweb In reply to Same here, it started mor ...

Everyone I know who does this sideline work to individuals has this complaint. Setup and replace some hardware for someone for $50 and then 6 months later you get an irate call because they downloaded some program or tried to install something and believe you did something wrong. "You need to come back out here and fix it"
This is why I don't do sideline work.

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Beware of problems...

by MoBill122 In reply to This is the real problem!

We work as volunteers for a Senior Center that has a computer lab we maintain.
Over time we've been asked to fix a few computers for people who find out about us there.
Last year a lady brought in a computer, that would fail to boot 50% of the time. We fixed it for her and I took it to her house and set it back up for her. All for $75....
Three weeks later, she called telling me that the computer I took back to her was NOT her computer.
Four months later, we were in court over a computer that was worth perhaps $100 on the market. She sued for $1100, that she paid for the system five years ago.
We lost the case... cost us the time...and a $100 settlement, mostly because the judge didn't know a thing about computers.
By the way...according to this lady, we changed the bar codes on case...replaced the motherboard with a new one... put a slower cpu in it... stole her bank account numbers, which she later recanted... so BEWARE !

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by mmanning In reply to Beware of problems...

Thats pretty dumb. I do the same line of work and now I am trying to think of a way to prevent this from happening. Anyone have any ideas? How about taking pictures of the product before taking it from the persons house? Law suits have gotten rediculous nowadays.

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After hours is for me

by dnelson In reply to

I am on call 24/7/365. We are shorthanded and I currently do not have a backup. After finishing work at the end of the day, I have trouble turning on my PC at home to check my email. The last thing that I want to do is work during my free time.

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.... and don't forget your health

by c.walters In reply to After hours is for me

.... also there is a health issue to concern. In our job we sit a lot. According to the heart association we need to exercise 30 minutes a day, eat two fruits and vegetables, use less fat (animal fat). If you don't invest in your health all the money you build up working the extra jobs is for nothing when you are 60 and have an unhealthy body and can not enjoy the money.

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Get it in writing!!!

by Mschachner In reply to

When I used to do the same thing (not any more with 3 kids and wife) I would have the user sign a buyers order and an orientation sheet ( a check list of ?this is how you do this?).

And, I was sued because the user believed the systems were bad.

Basically, she couldn't figure out why the printer didn't print from a network machine when her personal machine was off (two system office). The printer she had was a multi-function and not network capable (~6 years ago and needed the taskbar widget to work). She didn't want to buy a print server or a basic printer to print from. So, I noted that on the buyers order concerning the refusal to purchase the items suggested and setup it the best I could. The printer connected to one machine and shared.

I faxed a copy of both the buyers order and the orientation sheet. She tried the 'I need to reschedule the court date and the judge said it's okay' letter. For which I replied, in writing, the judge said it's still on such-such date.

I won by default. She didn't show up.

Lesson learned ? get it in writing and get them to sign it. Give them a copy of anything you have them sign. Give them a proposal for their needs. Let them refuse to purchase needed goods. This avoids the ?why didn?t you say we needed this or that?? and the ?that?s not what I wanted!?.

That?s my hind-sight suggestion.

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protecting yourself

by idts In reply to

I'm enrolled in a nine-month computer forensics course which is instructed by a member of the Washington State Patrol.

As there are few standards for computer forensics he advised us to take pictures and make notations of any damage upon receipt. This is specifically to avoid something like his customer stating he swapped things out and changed the barcode stickers. It's especially handy if you have to go to court to prove anything. You can use your pictures and documentation as evidence and the court can accept it.

It might be a good idea to have a pre-made worksheet that has an area for you to write down the problem the customer states s/he is having. If you have to remove the computer or any other equipment, write down the SN# and any other unique information on the worksheet. Then have your customer sign the document; give them a copy and you retain your copy. (don't forget to have your DISCLAIMER listed above the customer's signature).

I hope that helps.

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One evil word "Documentation"

by Pipe Guy In reply to

I'm currently working on a "side customer's" computer... this afternoon.
I've written down on a scrap of paper the model number of the motherboard, M756mrt-matx, the processor... P3 600-133-256, the pc100 64meg dimm.
etc. I eventually put it on my calendar for future references. If you do switch out the motherboard or a processor or you add memory or a harddrive. Write it down. If you change the 64meg dimm of pc133 with a 256meg dimm of pc100, document it.

I usually give the customer an invoice (from excel) which outlines their model number, serial number and relevent details. It takes 5 minutes to do this. You may even use short forms like.
P3-600 256meg, 12gb, soundpro, usr56, hplj4, win2k And above all identify the problem the customer was experiencing. (The computer shuts down for no reason)
Also spell out the charges, 2 hours at 25.00 per hour. Don't fail to mention that you worked 4 hours at it, but didn't think it was fair to charge for the extra time because you were able to do other things while the computer was scanning for viruses or spyware.

Its also good to have a clear policy and show the customer a working computer when they take it home. Call them the next day to make sure they set it up right and ask them. Is it working ok?
Did you plug all the wires in? It doesn't hurt to complain abit that you had a bit of trouble figuring out why the computer keeps shutting down.

When you work with windows it is inevitable that the customer will come back with a problem. This is usually called "repeat" business. Not a pain in the neck.

Now this sounds like a lot of work for a measily 50 bucks. But consider that you may have enjoyed fixing it and that they consider you to be genius and they realize the commitment you have made to helping them as a friend or a neighbour. And that the reason they gave you the work in the first place was that you did get a referral.

These are all good reasons to find some extra pocket money for gas or beer. Its not the same as building a network of small business servers for a retail outlet where the customer sets the policies. This is your little kingdom where you get to help out people that would normally be thrown to the wolves at the local "Betterbuy" computer repair store.

It also lets you do some valuable research and testing on a much wider range of computers than we get to see in the business environement. Not to mention a great source of new MP3's.

The mistake most IT people make is not explaining the situation to the customer. Explain more to them and they will be happy, even if they don't have a clue what you are talking about.

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