How to Help Someone use a Computer

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Re: How to Help Someone use a Computer

Postby Luna Moon » 2018-05-09 18:29

The original post is actually full of a lot of valuable advice!

phenest wrote:I think my method for teaching involves making sure I'm approachable and won't mock them because of their trivial question. And then give them a straight answer. I've always believed that not knowing does not equal stupidity.

I like your approach and I agree with you. A person, who does simply not know, but wants to learn and understand is far from stupidity. Helping them to understand and not only give them solutions, which only work in that exact situation is the key in my opinion.
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Re: How to Help Someone use a Computer

Postby Starborn » 2018-11-17 10:32

A small anecdote :)

I have an office job (I'm also the "LPU" and the guy that my colleagues come running to, when Windows is being stubborn again). We used to buy our own office stuff, and many many years ago one used to get a small thing as a thank-you gift. One day such a gift was a small, oval-shaped, battery-powered radio. Our boss gave it to a colleague (an older woman that since retired years ago) and told her it was a new, wireless mouse.

She didn't understand why her mouse cursor did not work. :lol:


He meant it as a joke, and not as a way to mock her. But to be honest, I don't like such practical jokes: one does not make fun of people's not-knowing something.

I myself too have learned SO much about computers and operating systems. Back in the MS-DOS days, the . (dot) was the main directory (or whatsammacallit?) of DOS. Well, one day I apparently managed to delete everything by simply deleting that "dot" (in DOS?). It is years ago, but I still remember that the guy at the computer shop said I could come work with him right away. :)

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Re: How to Help Someone use a Computer

Postby phenest » 2019-08-04 19:36

Despite how I hate mocking people that are a bit lacking in computer skills, here are 2 anecdotes of my own, and done to the same Supervisor at work:

The supervisor left his office to do something, so one of my colleagues changed the display settings so the orientation was upside down. When the supervisor returned, he was confused but tried to solve it. His solution was to turn the monitor upside down.

Again, the supervisor had left his office, but this time, he had not turned the computer on yet. As he has to login, we switched 2 of the keys over on the keyboard and tried to keep a straight face. We decided to switch the N & M keys as they are next to each other on a QWERTY keyboard and would not be easy to spot what is wrong. Incidentally, his name is Simon. He never managed to login. We had switched the keys back by the next day and he never worked it out.

I guess that's how you get to be a supervisor.
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Re: How to Help Someone use a Computer

Postby Onsemeliot » 2020-08-11 07:19

Most questions on this forum are to advanced for me to help anyone with. (I sometimes browse through the questions and try to find something I could be helpful with.) But in my immediate surrounding I am still usually the guy people come to if they are having problems with their computers. And since I value freedom I try to help them by using free software when ever possible.

I agree that the fist post here is very valuable. I just think it doesn't stress one important thought enough: Most people don't want to administrate their own computers at all. They just want to use a device that works. Therefore, learning about computers isn't something they see as an option. I often encounter people who don't even want to know what the problem is or how they could solve it on their own. And I do get it: It is an emergency if they attempt to find a solution to a problem when they actually wanted to do something else entirely. It is unfortunate that paying for professional computer support doesn't really make much sense for private people because it quickly gets more expensive than just buying a new device when something goes wrong.
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Re: How to Help Someone use a Computer

Postby LE_746F6D617A7A69 » 2020-08-11 08:22

Onsemeliot wrote:Most people don't want to administrate their own computers at all.
That's true - unfortunately.
Computers are probably the most widely used tools today, and IMO it's a catastrophic situation that majority of people don't have even a basic idea of how it works. Of course I'm not expecting that everyone would now how to build a CPU, but I think that everyone should be able to manage the HW, applications, configurations, etc. Form My observations it seems that each generation knows less and less in this area, what leads Me to a conclusion that in 100 years we will be very close to a situation like in Egypt 4000 years BC. I mean that only narrow group of people will know that solar eclipse is a normal, periodic phenomenon and not a magic ;)

I can't remember it exactly, but there was a saying:
"Linux is for people who want to know how the computer works, Mac is good for those who don't want to know why their computer works, and Windows is for people who don't want to know why their computer does not work" :mrgreen:
Bill Gates: "(...) In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating system."
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Re: How to Help Someone use a Computer

Postby Onsemeliot » 2020-08-11 11:35

LE_746F6D617A7A69 wrote:"Linux is for people who want to know how the computer works, Mac is good for those who don't want to know why their computer works, and Windows is for people who don't want to know why their computer does not work" :mrgreen:

This is indeed funny. :lol:

On the other hand I don't fully agree because nobody expects us to understand how a stereo works or how to service a car – especially this modern stuff with more electronics than anything else where you aren't even allowed to do anything yourself.

Not being personally able to do everything ourselves (for one or the other reason) isn't the same as being cut off from our freedom to do with our devices as we please. Free software is also valuable for people who don't even know that they are using a browser to look at web pages. I think most free software advocates underestimate the importance of independence for non-technical people. We all should at least be able to decide who we trust and what services we want to use.

Of course it would be ideal if every computer user would understand his/her system. But this doesn't seem to be a good way to organise our resources.

I don't think it is fair to expect all computer users to administrate their own (rather complicated) devices. Cooking isn't as complex but there are very few cooks who argue that people not cooking for them selves should just eat raw food ... or farmers who say people not growing their own food don't deserve to get anything decent to eat. We understand that we do have professionals in many areas because as a society it is much more efficient if talented and interested people do what they love instead of everyone having to do everything on his/her own in order to get something worthwhile ... which often is only achievable when we specialise. So, I basically think we as a society didn't adapt yet to the reality that computers are general tools (almost) all need or want to use.

In theory I could try digging up minerals and start creating metal to build my own tools but it is obvious I would never be able to reach the quality of the things we have managed together as a civilisation by allowing specialists to focus on their field and to provide them even with basic things instead of insisting on them to do other things they in theory could care for on their own. Therefore, they would have less time to focus on what they love and do best.

I don't see people who aren't interested in computers as errors. They are just focused on something else and it is the task of passionate computer people to provide these other people with the best solutions possible in order to support the other work they are doing better than probably most computer people. If we support each other we all are much better off. After all, collaboration seems to be the corner stone of (technological) development. Of course it is much nicer to concentrate on things we are interested and talented in. It's great that we don't have to do everything our selves.

Concerning computers I think we still need to find a way of providing the general public with the best solutions we can. We are not there yet. Ideally, the tool should be transparent to those who want to use it. Only those tasked with it's maintenance should need to dwell in deeper. For me it's clear that the best solution can't be proprietary software because the whole concept of unnecessarily restricting others is plainly stupid and highly inefficient. Therefore, we need to organise our computing in a way that makes free software the default and clearly most convenient solution – even for people who are totally reluctant to think about how computers work. And there is a good chance this way of managing our needs will provide a nice stable living foundation for all people who love to tinker with computers.
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Re: How to Help Someone use a Computer

Postby cuckooflew » 2020-08-11 13:36

Computers for many are like a car, they only use it because it is needed to get to and from work, then the computer is needed to do the work, and they rely on mechanics to fix the broken car, it is bad enough one needs to take time on their only day off and take the car to the mechanic, but after that or while waiting they are free to enjoy the day off. The same with the computer, when it breaks, or the software breaks they rely on technicians to repair it.
If they do not have the technical skill to at least follow instructions, on a forum , for example .... well probably the best thing to suggest is to take it to a repair shop , or call a tech and have them come to the office.
for now that's all
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