Friday, June 29, 2012

Words of Caution, Experience and Concern

Over the last few days I have had the unfortunate experience of seeing for myself in an unusually concentrated dosage, the incredible callousness and stupidity of various technicians when it comes to repairing computers, in particular, installing the operating system, optimising it and other software.

The Problem

Many of the self proclaimed technicians are just idiots who learned how to boot into an OS install disc and follow a few simple steps to reinstall an operating system. The issue arises on the other side of the progress bar where you need to do the actual work, finding the appropriate drivers, which, as I indicated in a previous post, is required to give you full operational efficiency from the parts in your computer. This is true for any operating system, Windows, Linux and even OSX. Apple by far makes it easiest to get these because they have such limited few parts in their SKUs and they make all their machines, they have them all centrally located.

Linux is one of those platforms that supports drivers going back to the stone age of computing. So if you installed it on an oldish machine, 2 maybe 3 years old, most, if not all the parts would already have had their drivers installed as part of the Linux OS and in a really good situation eliminates the need for any driver hunting... period. That said, you will typically encounter parts where you need to locate drivers and if you don't find them on the first page of a search, that means they are going to be rather hard to find and many companies don't have official linux driver downloads. If they do, installing them is not a double click and run affair. In some cased you need to have some technical knowledge to install it in your machine.

With with Windows being so popular almost all manufacturers supply some sort of Windows compatible driver. Typically its pretty straightforward to find drivers, look at the manufacturer of the part, the model number of the part, and search both with the word "Driver". That will typically result in a link to the driver download page.

If you are dealing with a brand named machine, Dell, HP etc, simply go to the manufacturer's website, find their support section and there will have a page to download drivers. Go there, enter the model of the Machine, HP Pavilion DV####. Download the ones relevant to your operating system and machine and install them and you system will begin to shine.

Particularly when installing an new OS on an older system, say one that came with Windows Vista, and they put Windows 7, there will be the odd part with no driver and these individuals who won't install the easily found drivers and updates don't even bother to research these parts and try to source a solution. It, quite frankly is an unfortunate state of affairs.

My Actions

I recently observed a colleague's Windows 7, AMD based Toshiba laptop, the image on the screen was stretched wide (no display driver), the touchpad had no scrolling function (no input driver) and the WIFI was iffy (no network driver). When i investigated, the system had no OEM drivers installed... not one!! Adding insult to injury, no Service Pack 1, no IE 9, not one update. The final straw was the so called technician installing a pirated copy of Windows 7 when the system had a legit Win 7 Home Premium Serial on the sticker below. I found this ineptly stupid. In the end I did not have the time to reinstall windows properly for the person, but I got all the drivers installed, put SP1 and IE9 there and hoped that would suffice until I could redo the system properly. With all of that, I did not charge the person any money.

Another individual had an old Compaq Laptop that originally came with Windows Vista Basic. This thing had a pirated copy of Windows 7 that had been WAT exposed and was giving the piracy prompt. No IE9, but it did have SP1 and the activation method was an old one that Microsoft had rendered useless. No drivers, lots of bloatware and the individual in question only needed PowerPoint and Word. Such an unfortunate situation.

In the end both persons ended up with working systems functioning as they should. The thing that really bites me, is that I will take the 6 hours and install windows, drivers and apps properly and then optimise them and update them. I still find it hard to charge my requisite $400 TTD, but I see people doing this rubbish and charging $600 TTD. In the end I have to undo all the previous damage and start from scratch. I also have to take the time to teach my customers a few things about the systems they use and make them safer for it.

Final Words

In the end, I hope those schemers and cheats get whats coming to them, whatever that may be. They deserve all of it. My contention is that all my customers have never returned and I know them all personally and see their systems fairly frequently and they are still running the OS installs I performed. My success is measured in how few systems I see returned to my desk, not how much money I can scam from uneducated PC users.

I hope with the arrival of Windows 8's restore and refresh features we see a better way for performing maintenance and service on PCs in the future.

The less systems we have going into the hands of these Con Men the better.

For those who at the end of this point still cant understand the point, "Find a good decent technician who takes the time to explain things to you and will go out of his way to do a good job and not charge you for every little thing."