Monday, September 16, 2013

Teach Time and Tech Time

With the teaching semester underway, I am splitting my time between teaching days and tech days. On tech days, I'm out and about fixing laptops (usually) and also desktop PCs. I see some interesting setups: lots of different models, high-end and low-end machines. Since I see both consumer and business models, in a variety of corporate and residential settings, it's interesting to note the differences in usage, especially when it comes to the physical aspects of the machines. I fix broken computers, mainly; I don't do too much software support. Mainly I replace hardware parts like motherboards (system boards), optical drives (CD and DVD-ROMs), hard drives, LCD panels, palmrests (touch pads), keyboards, built-in webcams, power supplies, and any other hardware parts possible on a computer. Occasionally, I get some really interesting situations. The other week, I had a laptop whose monitor and hinges were almost completely separated from the computer. Remarkably the computer was working fine before and after the repair! Other times, the repairs are deceptively simple. I am often called upon to fix webcam issues. More than once the user wasn't aware of a physical shutter on the camera. Easy fix, educate the customer!

I've encountered the crossover from computer tech repair to consulting, training and education many times before. Often, transitions to marquee operating systems like Windows 8, or to MacOS highlight key times consumers take time to educate. Very often these changes are precipitated by purchases of new computer systems. Since I teach in academic environments, I have had the experience and privilege of working and teaching with many different operating system versions and types.