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General / 06 December 2019

I got a call a few months ago from an old friend. As soon as I heard the apathetic signal from the phone in my pocket; I knew it was going to be a: "Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope"-moment. And right I was. His workstation had died in the middle of some important work, and he was scared out of his mind. His voice was booming of self pity. "What am I going to do, the screen is black and blue. I have a deadline tomorrow. The end is near!" I know this chap very well. Self pity has never been is forte, but he has had tech-related problems as long as I have known him, and I have usually been his first choice in it-support. He is usually well orientated when it comes to high-end gear, but computers have always seemed to rub him the wrong way. He used to blame the fictional character MacGyver for his own shortcomings and could say: "Not everyone can save the world with chocolate!"

MacGuyver really did this in a TV-episode I found out later. He plugged a sulfuric acid leak with chocolate because he knew it contained sucrose and glucose. When the acid reacted to the sugar, it formed elemental carbon and a thick, gummy residue. It sounds improbable, but was proven to be correct on another TV-show; Mythbusters. After we hung up, I thought about his predicament a moment and knew what he had to do to fix the computer. Based on previous calls, I knew he had to use an older version of a graphic card driver instead of the new one he was using. I really wanted to help him out, but I also wanted him to help himself and learn how to fix common errors. The best thing was to send him reading material or a link to a website with great resources on the topic. I sent him a link on the phone and wrote:

"I am sorry I can't be of more assistance at the moment, but please take a look here, perhaps somebody else has encountered the same problems as you!" The message I sent was enthusiastic, but I got a sad smiley in return. I know he was a bit disappointed, but my intentions were good. I remembered back in the day when I didn't know a thing about computers. The cold, bulky machine was not the ally that it is today. It was a box of opportunities that usually didn't work when you needed it. I remember calling computer support all the time until I got fed up and started to educate myself. Suddenly things made more sense after reading computer magazines and learning how other people tackled usual tech-releated problems. It was a revelation. As the day progressed, I didn't hear a thing. Later in the evening I got another call. This time my friend was really happy.

"I got the link you sent, but didn't really know what to do first. After reading a while I found an entry that described the same error I got on my computer. Following the suggested guideline I was able to solve the problem. I started the computer in safe mode, removed the new graphic driver that I installed the other day, and installed the old one again. Problem solved! It took an hour, then I was able to finish my work ahead of deadline. Thanks!"

I leaned back in my chair and smiled. A new techie had been born.