(This was first posted back in 2007 but it still applies today – enjoy!)
We all know someone who is a “drama queen,” turning ordinary circumstances into academy-award winning performances as they moan about their bad luck and how the world has done them wrong, and as they describe countless tragic outcomes that are bound to occur any minute now.
When it comes to computer problems, I call this technology drama. If you think your computer is acting up for the sole purpose of making your life miserable, you might just have technology drama.
Because my friends, family, neighbors, and other acquaintances that I see on a regular basis know that my former career was working with computers, they have no problems telling me their computer woes.
The three most common types of technology drama that I hear about are computers that take on human-like characteristics, electrical interruptions caused by ghosts, or computers that are infected with super-bugs, viruses, or other types of “nasty” critters that are immune to normal software cleaning programs.
Do not get me wrong; I love these types of people. For many years, these people were not only my bread and butter but were also my sources of entertainment, bless them.
No matter what the problem was, it was always amazing that the minute I sat down in front of the person’s computer to diagnose what the problem was, the computer magically started to work (of course, the person afflicted with technology drama then asserted the computer was out to make them look bad). I have seen this a hundred times and it never gets old!
If you think you suffer from technology drama, here are some pointers.
1. Your computer is not human. There are only two times in my life that I have seen a computer start thinking on its own; an episode of Bionic Woman and the movie 2001:A Space Odyssey. Your computer is not out to get you and ruin your life. The problem is most likely that YOU are doing something wrong. Period.
2. A Ghost in the Machine is a 1981 album by the band The Police, it is not a real-life phenomenon. There are cases of abnormal interference, such as solar flares affecting cell phones and electrical storms burning out a motherboard. But more times than not, computer problems can usually be cleared up by a nice and refreshing reboot.
If the computer is still having a problem after rebooting, see if it can be replicated (reproduced). Then troubleshoot until you find the exact problem, or tell your virtual assistant or tech support person exactly what you did to create and replicate the problem. And please stop the drama, the problem can be explained.
3. Prepare yourself. Yes, bugs, viruses, redirects, and hijacks are all very real, but that doesn’t mean your life as you know it is over. Anti-virus, anti-spam, pop-up blockers, and spyware checkers can do a lot, but there may be times when something has been downloaded to the computer that is just beyond your expertise to try to fix.
Back up your computer files often. And even better, burn an image of your entire operating system and boot-up files to a CD or DVD so that if a total reformatting is needed, not too much will be lost. Also, for any software that you downloaded from the manufacturer’s website, keep track of serial numbers and executable files on a separate disk altogether.
4. Get some training. A little training goes a long way. Believe it or not, most software programs are relative, meaning that once you’ve used one software application that uses a menu bar or a free-floating tool bar, then pretty much all of the other software applications work the same way. For instance, if you know how to attach a file using Yahoo Mail, then you can probably figure out how to attach a file using Outlook Mail.
Nowadays, tutorials and free training programs are all over the Internet and, of course, included within most software applications. Spend a little time playing with the programs and search the help section if you run into problems. You can also often find user forums to get answers to your questions. Investing a little bit of time now could save you a lot of frustration later. No more “wingin’ it”!
I believe that most people experience technology drama because they do not understand computers. In an effort to understand them better and make them more like us, they attribute human-like characteristics to them. And it’s not such a stretch. After all, computers have limitations, sometimes they malfunction, and sometimes they are just wired differently.
In reality, computers are machines. Machines that exist to make our lives easier and more convenient, automate processes, and let us explore our world via the Internet.
Get over your technology drama – accept the computer for what it is, be prepared, and get some training. And above all, if you don’t like working with computers but need them to run your business, then hire a virtual assistant to do your tasks for you!