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Maintaining Your Girlfriend’s Dad’s Computer

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London Computer Assistance

Being particularly skilled with computers is often a very large burden in some ways. Being capable of effectively using and maintaining a personal computer is a skills that can give you access to volumes of information (or as Johnny-5 in Short Circuit called it: input), copious amounts of career options, and a vast number of forms of entertainment and ways of expressing yourself. Self-expression can be found through the ability to together and write on personal blogs.

However, the moment friends, neighbors friends, and perfect strangers come to the sudden realization that you've got an abundance of skill in the use of computers you'll be seen as a powerful resource for their toolbox (think hammer, or screwdriver) for their use. People that don't have a good fundamental understanding of computer use and maintenance often lack altogether what are known as the "meta-cognitive" abilities to assess their own computer ability. This, consequently, results in a scenario widely known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a phenomenon where people who've the least amount of skill or knowledge on a given subject matter actually believe themselves to be of a very high skill level, and often even self-rate themselves even higher than those who actually are most skilled in a given subject or body of knowledge.

As an inevitable consequence of the Dunning-Kruger effect, what can result is that people will ask a particularly able personal computer user to help them "fix something really quick" without knowing the depth or level of complication of a given computer problem. The story is always the same: the computer person agrees without knowing what they're actually signing up for and feel obligated to stay with the task until it is fixed.

There's a few solutions to this problem. One such solution is to make it a matter of habit of having a literal script that you deliver to absolutely everyone who asks for assistance with their personal computer. This script should tell the requester that your offer of help doesn't guarantee future support for free, nor any personal responsibility if things end up worse off than they were. One should also set a firm limitation to the number of hours you're willing to personally invest working on it, and inform the requesting party what that limit is on the front end. Depending on the relationship with the person or persons you should also consider establishing an hourly rate you would be willing to charge that is reasonable.

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