Are you the family's unofficial IT person? The holidays are a dangerous time: Here's what to say when you're asked to fix messes.
8 Tech Turkeys To Avoid As Gifts
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Minutes after the last present on Christmas Day is opened, the phone calls start. They won't stop until late that night or possibly the middle of the next week, depending on the size of your family and circle of friends.
"Hi. Yes, happy holidays to you, too. Listen, Granddad picked up his new laptop by the screen, and now it's black. No, no, the laptop is white... more of a beige, actually. The screen is black. How do we fix it?"
"Hi, it's me, Allen. Your cousin. Remember, we met last year at Uncle Paul's funeral? You still work in technology? That's great. So my kids sent me a Roku. Funny name, right? Looks like the thing shipped without a keyboard. Can I plug a WiFi keyboard into it?"
"Hi. What's my Apple ID? What? Well, that's just ridiculous. Just help me guess it!"
If you know a scooch more about computers, DVRs, smartphones, printers, or routers than the general public, you will eventually be dragooned into troubleshooting for friends and family.
Sometimes your obligation is clear. Say your mom's Window's PC is infected with a ransomware virus. You should -- and, ultimately, will -- spend several days unsuccessfully trying to decrypt her files, only to learn what security experts now advise ransomware victims: "Pay them the damn money."
And only a monster would refuse to help an eight-year-old nephew restart his Internet service on Christmas morning or disregard your significant other's anxious Facebook message asking how long to leave an iPhone in a bowl of dry rice following an incident in the bathroom.
If it's a Windows box say, "I only know how to fix Macs."
If it's a Mac say, "I only know how to fix PCs."
If it's a Linux box say, "You're a Linux user... fix it yourself!"
Have your own canned responses? Post them in the comments below.
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Ellis Booker has held senior editorial posts at a number of A-list IT publications, including UBM's InternetWeek, Mecklermedia's Web Week, and IDG's Computerworld. At Computerworld, he led Internet and electronic commerce coverage in the early days of the web and was ... View Full Bio
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