The Grumpy Old Astronomer

"How to Repair a PC"

Copyright © 2002-, Larry McNish All Rights Reserved


1. Approach the ailing PC in a confident manner. This will give the PC the mistaken idea that you know something. It will also impress anyone who happens to be looking, and if the PC should suddenly start working, you will be credited with its repair. Tell the owner to try what he was doing again. Should this fail, proceed to step 2.

2. Wave the Owner's Manual at the PC. If you cannot find the Owner's Manual - wave the "Restore CD" instead. This will make the PC assume that you are at least familiar with the Source of Knowledge. Try exactly what the owner tried. Should this fail, proceed to step 3.

3. In a forceful manner, recite the following to the PC - "We may have to replace the BIOS". This will prove to the PC that, beyond the shadow of a doubt, you do know something. Repeat the attempt to get the desired operation. Should this fail, proceed to step 4.

4. Wiggle all the cables. Grasp each cable in turn and rotate it in roll, pitch, yaw and sloop. At this time you should also tighten all connectors except those that have those little silver standoffs - they will never tighten properly as long as the universe lasts. Then sit down confidently and try to get the damn thing to do what you wanted. Should this fail, proceed to step 5.

5. Jar the monitor slightly. This may require anything from a hand slap to a severe thump with the palm of the hand or a shoe. However, you must be careful with this step because, while jarring is the approved manner of repair, you must not hit it in the wrong spot. The top right corner is the recommended target. Once jarred, either a) pound the command out on the keyboard or, b) click approximately 30 times on the icon to launch the program as desired. Should this fail, proceed to step 6. Note - do NOT jar the "hard disk" no matter how many times the owner tells you that his brother-in-law Fred from Boise ALWAYS fixes his PC by whacking the "hard disk". Instead, explain to the owner in a professional manner that the "hard disk" is actually called the "System Unit"; that "whacking" it could cause irreparable damage to his data on the internal "hard drive"; and that his brother-in-law, Fred, is an idiot.

6. Brandish a large screwdriver in a menacing manner. This will frighten the PC and demonstrates the deadly "I have a screwdriver and I know how to use it" technique. Place the screwdriver in a handy (but obvious) position next to the keyboard and try the command again. If this step fails, proceed to step 7.

7. Remove the cover without unplugging all the cables. This will prove to the PC that you are familiar with its design, advanced electrostatic grounding techniques and that you are going to perform some "interior" work. Also (if successful) this will increase your tactical advantage and confuse the PC. If you cannot figure out how to remove the cover - under no circumstances should you admit defeat - you should re-torque the screws immediately and exclaim, "That should fix the RF shielding problem." Once the cover is back in place repeat the damn command again - forcefully and yet with kindness - remembering all those hostage negotiators you saw on TV and how they coaxed the crazed psychotic mass murderer to release all his hostages by feigning niceness just before the swat team blew him away in a hail of gunfire. If this step fails, proceed to step 8.

8. Perform the infamous "three-fingered-salute". If this does not cause the wary PC to reboot, then demonstrate your superiority by hitting the power switch. In the event that the PC still does not power off, it probably has also taken over control of the power bar switch, the UPS and the branch circuit breaker in the home's electrical panel. Locate the electrical panel. Find the large breaker labeled "MAINS" and flip it off thereby thwarting the PC. Note - before performing this step locate a flashlight. Also, we do not recommend warning anyone else in the house that you are about to take this action as the PC may overhear you and employ countermeasures which could force you to call the Electrical Company to have all the power in the suburb shut off. After a period of not less than 1 minute restore the power and proceed to step 9.

9. Power the PC back on. Before it becomes fully aware of its surroundings and attempts to make itself some coffee, use the standard key sequence to enter the PC's "hardware setup program". This key sequence is Shift+ Ctrl+ Alt+ Esc+ Del+ Scroll Lock (this is the only known use of the Scroll Lock key - PCs have been trying to keep this a secret for years). Once inside the PC's secret realm of bits - change something. Anything. Anything that allows you to change it. Anything except the line that says "GBFmdinf Var Splk RmS - En/Dis/Auto" - NEVER CHANGE THIS VALUE! Exit the hardware setup program - when it asks you if you want to save your changes - select the option: "Of course you numbskull - why would I have spent an hour figuring out how to get into hardware setup and changing things only to toss it all away like an old 386?" This should cause the PC to capitulate to your overwhelming expertise, and resume normal operation. If this step fails, proceed to the most drastic and dangerous step of all, step 10. It is very seldom used and is the last resort if all else fails.


10. For this step you will need some additional equipment from your service vehicle:
   - pot of strong coffee
   - sleeping bag
   - change of clothes
   - food for 2-3 days
   - copy of War and Peace
   - extra-strength analgesics
   - port-a-potty
Set up the PC and all your equipment in a comfortable yet tastefull arrangement near a touch-tone telephone. Locate the bright yellow sticker on the side of the PC and dial TECH SUPPORT. If you cannot locate the number try 1-900-I HAVE MY CREDIT CARD HANDY YOU GODLESS BLOODSUCKERS. When you hear the automatic voice response beginning you can skip listening and just enter the following codes on your phone in order to speed things up:
   1 - for instructions in English
   6 - for computer division
   3 - for recently purchased computers
   4 - to report a problem
   3 - for recently purchased computers (out of warranty)
   4 - (again) to skip pitch on why you should purchase a new computer
   2 - to skip their e-mail address where you can send your problem report
   3 - to skip their website technical support address
   5 - to skip having their fax-back FAQ report sent to you
   2 - to talk to a service representative
   3 - for recently purchased computers
   3 - for recently purchased computers (out of warranty)
   5 - for No thank you. This is important! The customer is dead in the water and I do not care to have you call me back at a more convenient time when you have finished your latte. I want to talk to someone NOW!
   3 - for yes, I'll hold dammit.

At this point the Technical Support Group's data centre processes your touch-tone requests through the multi-million dollar artificial-intelligence processor at the National Support Call Centre and in a matter of milliseconds routes your call to one of over 300 Tom Jones recordings.

However, because YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO US - you do not have long to wait. Within 30 seconds you will hear "It's not unusual to be loved by... YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO US - Please stay on the line. Calls are answered in the order in which they are received. We estimate that your call will be answered in the next 45 to 853 minutes. If you hang up and dial again like everyone else is doing, you will simply overload our multi-million dollar artificial-intelligence processor at the National Support Call Centre which makes us mad since our latte gets cold while we have to go ALL THE WAY OVER THERE to re-boot the stupid thing." You will hear this again. And again.

Finally, around chapter 87 of War and Peace you hear an ominous click on the phone. This means one of two things: either a) YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO US - but it's closing time so we just reset the multi-million dollar artificial-intelligence processor at the National Support Call Centre to drop all the calls till tomorrow, or b) you are being routed to a technical specialist who, in a matter of minutes, will help you have that PC up and running again. After a short pause you hear the unmistakable sounds of a high-tech support centre on the other end of the line as the National Support Call Centre rep "picks up". You hear the sounds of massive amounts of advanced equipment being cooled by hundreds of fans, you hear the muted conversations of hundreds of highly trained PC specialists talking to other callers, you hear the latte machine, you hear "?Allo? GBFmdinf Var Splk RmS?"

Remember that you are a highly trained PC repair technician. Remember that these people have spent years developing their skills on innumerable simulations of computer problems. Remember that they get paid a lot more than you and get to go home at 5 o'clock. In a confident voice state "I am having a problem with one of your BrightSpeed X543 Model 456-6296 PCs."

"?Allo? GBFmdinf Var Splk RmS?"

Remember that because YOUR CALL IS IMPORTANT TO US - they downsized anyone earning more than $1.75 an hour after they installed the multi-million dollar artificial-intelligence processor at the National Support Call Centre.

"May I speak to someone in English?"

"?Allo? Englitch? Yah? Splk Minomenti?"

"Thank you."

"GBFmdinf Var Splk RmS. :-)"

At this point the Technical Support Group's data centre processes a "call-forwarding" request through the multi-million dollar artificial-intelligence processor at the National Support Call Centre and in a matter of milliseconds routes your call to one of over 300 Tom Jones recordings.


God be with you.




Stay tuned for:

Volume II in this series:


"How to fix a Windows™ Problem"

or; "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."




AND

Volume III in this series:


"How to Stop Your VCR Displaying 12:00… 12:00… 12:00…"

or; "The Handyman's Guide to Home and Recreational Uses For High Explosives."




In case you need ME to fix your PC, click here to see my schedule for next week. Happy Face