Thursday, January 20, 2011

In which we make house calls

This job has made me appreciate tech support people like never before. It's difficult, if not impossible, to give good phone support to people who don't have the vocabulary to describe what they are looking at on the screen. I have a "computer comfort class" for rank beginners, to start to give them mastery over some of the terminology they need in order to help themselves find their own answers on the Web, but very few people have attended it. Those who have learned how to do email by rote, and how to locate websites that they want, don't think they need to learn anything else. Until they need to learn something else. But then they don't know how to use terms like title bar, menu bar, file and folder hierarchy, navigate/browse to a folder, active window, maximize, minimize, etc.

I get a lot of these calls from our patrons. In many cases, they have a spouse or other family member who has more experience with computers but doesn't have the patience to impart that knowledge to their close family. So they call me.

One of our devoted volunteers called me last week for help with her new all-in-one printer-scanner-copier. Her tech guru had purchased and set up the printer for her, but hadn't shown her how to use the scanner function. She had over a hundred old photos that she wanted to scan and place on a CD to give to her children. She had been using it as a printer for some time, and she had tried scanning on her own, but she didn't know how to find the resulting images on her computer.

So I made a house call. Like I said, she's a devoted volunteer. It only took about half an hour, and she took notes. She called me a couple of days later, thrilled to report that she had scanned all the photos and copied them to a CD. She was going to make another one for another daughter, and one for herself for an archive. The best part? She's in her 70s. Successes like that really make my day.

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