Probably my best ever 180 degree panoramic of the port at Cartagena, Colombia. Here it is uncropped. January 2012.

Suspect Information, Ideas, and Opinions - rarely updated and of dubious quality.

I don't want your business.

A PC on fire.
"I see stuff like this all the time..."
I call myself an IT generalist. I know PCs. It's not arrogance. I know PCs like mechanic knows cars, like a barber know hair, and like a baker knows bread. I've been working with PCs for a long time, and I feel I know everything I need to know to develop maintain, and repair hardware and software for PCs.

Again and again, "friends" and acquaintances try to give me "business". I don't want it. I've got a million analogies as to why. Imagine I'm body shop guy who makes his living tricking out gorgeous cars, and then my "buddy" comes by, a buddy who shares none of my interests, and with whom I never hang out...he comes with his Vega, Gremlin, or Maverick and wants some simple body work done. The same body work. Over and over...for practically nothing in return. If I do the job and his transmission falls out the next day, it's my fault. For the 20 bucks, I'd rather play with my kids.

But it happens all of the time. These people wonder why I seem so reticent to work on their machines for them. I'm sick of computer novices having me over only for me to find out the problem is that they blocked up all of the ventilation on their machines, or a network cable has come loose from the router, or their much-abused CD-ROM drive didn't last through 7 years of industrial strength abuse.

A very dusty PC...

They say they're willing to pay me for my time. A house call during the dinner hour, while I work on their filthy, poorly maintained and understood PC, usually a P4 that runs like a 286 because they are too lazy to surf for something other than porn and actually learn the basics of operating a PC. And could I run down to Best Buy and pick them up a new drive the next time I'm down there? And partition it? (because they heard it's good if the drive "is in two parts") and could I transfer the data over? And can they pay me next week/month/year?

I think I understand a little bit now what lawyers have to go through. I used to complain about how high my legal costs were. But my lawyer has got some knowledge of the legal system and I don't. I don't have to use him - he doesn't have a gun to my head. I'm sure he'll survive without my business - he's probably got lots of other clients up on assault and petty-theft charges.

My experiences with these people is making me understand my lawyer and my mechanic a little better. Replacing a starter is not rocket science and it doesn't take a long time, but it's not a driveway job (at least not on the cars I've had) and requires tools and equipment I don't have. So why should I throw my guy only $20 plus parts for the job?

As I just said, I work in IT. I also have kids, hobbies, friends, and a home LAN with more than a half a dozen machines networked together. That takes up 50% of my time. My wife takes up another 60%. So yes, incredibly, I don't want your business. How much do you think I want to test 40 feet of your cheap network cable to find where the "break" is, because you didn't know that you shouldn't tie one end to the back of your car to pull it through the wall? And while I'm testing - as long as I'm there, is it long distance if I point you browser to an Australian web site? And how do you get your task bar from the right hand side of the window back to the bottom? And why is your clock off? And why doesn't your sound-card play audio CDs?

A t-shirt that perfectly reflects my attitude about your PC problems.

Barely a block from me, there is a computer sales and service store opened up recently. At the time it opened, the "buddies" remarked that it would be "the end" of my business, but I couldn't have been happier. The store owner doesn't know it, but I send most of my "potential" (and I know I'm overusing the quotes - "shoot me") business his way whenever I can. He is almost as incapable as my clients are, but not quite. It's a marriage made in heaven.

I mean, I'll help out my Dad, because I figure that's the price I have to pay for him spending all that time to bring me into this world, and if your'e a tier 1 client with and enterprise back-end and more than 800 machines in the field, with a novel issue that's bringing your business to a halt, then I'm your guy. I'll work day and night on your high-end equipment, collaborating with fellow professionals to find a resolution; maybe I'll learn a little something myself and then I'll look for further ways to add value to your IT operations and perhaps if I'm lucky fit a little bit of innovation in there. I'll also offer to help out my closest friends, and people I meet on the Internet who share my interests, IF they don't abuse the privilege, but everyone else? Hey, I'm a plumber to the stars. I simply not interested in the IT equivalent of unclogging your toilet again and again, especially if you won't take my advice and up your fibre intake.

But I do have a nice store to recommend to you. It's barely a block away.

I don't want your business.

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Maybe read No Big Deal, a story I consider to be the very best thing I ever wrote.