27 Jul 2010

I am your helpdesk.

That's right. Me. The Ruby programmer who works by day and writes by night and helps you out in between (and sometimes in dreams).

You come to me with your computer troubles and most of the time you leave without them. I usually am quite happy to help you, but I must confess my motivations are entirely selfish. I help you to help me.

If you've got a problem and you don't know how to fix it then you approach me (or in the case of my day job, one of the tech team). This is because I'm perceived to "know about computers" even though I specialise in Ruby and web development. Sometimes it's not even computers. Sometimes your router was connecting to the internet and "now it just doesn't, I did nothing I swear!".

So you've got a problem. Ok. What's the end goal? Are you trying to open a file? Connect to the internet? Build a death ray? Good. We've got that sorted. Ok, what could possibly be wrong? Is the file corrupt? Are the cables connected properly? Did you forget to turn it on?

I'll go through the steps I know that should work because I've done this before. Why have I done it before? Because I've been there. Because I've seen someone else do it. Because I just have an uncanny knack for Figuring Shit Out. Somewhere along the line, something isn't quite right. We'll work through it and at the end of it I'll explain what the problem was and you'll nod your head in agreement and wait patiently for me to finish explaining things and then I'll go away feeling like I've helped somebody.

Later on down the line when I encounter this issue, I'll know how to fix it. Because I've been there before. By helping you, I help me.

So when the little prissy web developers tell stories of being approached by their computer-illiterate co-workers and being asked for help... they tell the story in such a fashion:

But I'm a web developer, not helpdesk! Just because I know *something* about computers doesn't mean I know everything! Why are they coming to me?

Well listen up, softie. They're coming to you because they respect your opinion. They think you have the brains required to solve this little issue and it shouldn't be below you to help them out.

Do it. Contribute back to the world in that little fashion by showing them that the USB cable doesn't go into the network plug (uh huh, I've seen it and check for it now) and that it actually goes in this smaller rectangular socket. And don't do it condescendingly. Take them through the steps they need to know in order to fix it so that they can do it in the future and perhaps show somebody else.

Perhaps you'll learn something in the process.

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