My involvement with computers started some time in late 1993, and I have been in the same place far too many times. The overwhelming majority of acquaintances and members of my wider family don’t really understand what “I am trying to work as a computer programmer” means. They also assume that if you “work with computers” you are, by definition, the best person to ask about Microsoft® Word™ or about that little flashy MSN emoticon set they are trying to install on Microsoft Windows.
Some times, I manage to reply in what I think is a slightly more constructive manner than “Get the f* out of here”. Yet, there are still times that, hard as I may try to be patient, I fail in spectacular ways. This Autumn marks my 15th year of involvement with computers, and I am still a bit unsure about the right™ way to handle this sort of thing. My selfish part tends to reply to Windows requests in a very dismissive and blunt way: “I’m sorry but I don’t use Windows. You will have to find someone who does”. My personal bane is, however, that I like helping others. I have been posting to mailing lists & Usenet groups since practically “forever” (in my case “forever” means “since I found out about email & Usenet”). Barring the occasional stupid question I posted about things I was unfamiliar with or unsure about, I have even managed to answer a few of them!
There are times, however, that I completely and utterly fail to be patient with Windows users. I can tolerate the occassional question from my immediate family members about table layout in Microsoft Word. I can almost endure through questions about fancy flash-based “media players” that crash, slurp a huge amount of resources and crawl to a halt, or otherwise malfunction. But my patience with Windows questions wears down very fast; probably too fast. This tends to introduce a fair amount of tension in my relationships with relatives and friends. Even when they do not explicitly ask me to “fix their Word installation”, I feel that I am often on guard for the potential of this sort of request and carefully wording my way away of the potentially dangerous subject. This is where suckage beings to trickle in…
I don’t like spending any amount of time working with Windows™. I mean none at all. Even having to wait for the logon screens of the average “desktop” to stop throwing random flashy stuff at me makes me very impatient.
I also feel uncomfortable with the blunt, brute way of reply that goes something like “Yes, I know some things about computers, but I won’t fix yours”. People who are friends, close relatives or loved ones may take this too personally, and this is something I feel bad about.
It is rather unfortunate, and one of the “problems” I have had for a long time, but this year’s OneWeb day marks yet another year that I’ve been online without having any sort of idea that would get both me and my (friends|relatives) out of this dilemma.