Are computer repair people all amateurs like this BBC reporter says?

I saw this link on Slashdot to a BBC story that calls all computer technician types “unqualified amateurs.”

I think I resent that.I think I happen to be pretty good. Understand, I got that way by being very bad for a very long time. But I will admit I’ve met a lot of IT people, and very few have impressed me. Most are better at sounding like they know what they’re talking about than they are at actually accomplishing anything. I once worked with someone who had the longest resume I’ve ever seen. He claimed to be a budding Windows NT Server administrator with experience in every application you can think of. I got suspicious when he didn’t know how to use a mouse properly. I got severely torqued off when I wrote a whiteboard full of detailed instructions on how to Ghost a PC, left for an hour, and came back to find he had completed three of them, and two of those incorrectly.

But that’s not everyone.

I’m seldom impressed with in-store technicians too. But I can tell you why. The big-box stores have difficulty keeping their good technicians. Headhunters are constantly scouring those stores in search of talent, and it’s only a matter of time before anyone who’s good leaves for greener pastures–namely, a job with fixed or semi-fixed hours and benefits.

So, no, I don’t let my friends take their computers to those places.

I’ve thought about doing what the BBC author did: Posting a notice somewhere offering computer help to home users. I’ve done a bit of it on the side in years past. But there’s a problem. Generally, too many people call, and too often.

Sometimes people seem to think they’re entitled to free computer help for life because they paid you $40 once. Other times they just keep calling you. My biggest problem with it as a part-time gig is that it’s too easy to get buried in it. I work too many hours as it is to come home to three more hours of part-time work every night.

As a full-time gig it would be more tempting, but the problem there is self employment. Thanks to self employment, the government is likely to take half of your earnings, so in order to make what you make in someone else’s employ, you really need to double the number.

That’s my deterrent. There are too many broken computers out there to do this part time, but are there enough broken computers nearby that I could fix 8 of them in a day, and do that about 260 times a year, so that I could make enough money to make it worth my while?

So that’s why I don’t operate a computer repair business out of my home. If someone bribes me enough, I’ll fix theirs, but I can think of better outlets for my entrepreneurial ability.

Just don’t call me an unqualified amateur.

If you’re concerned you might be talking to a hack in a store, here are some questions you can ask to gauge knowledge.

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