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Be Your Own IT Help

Be Your Own IT Help

Do you always call your office's tech support staff to solve your every computer quandary?  

Office workers can be divided into two groups: "those who believe in the promise of technology and those who are perennially disappointed; the users for which everything goes wrong," says Gini Courter. As partners in Traverse-City, Michigan-based TRIAD Consulting, LLC, Courter and Annette Marquis have been training administrative assistants to neutralize their fear of technology for more than a decade.

As firms become more cost-conscious and increasingly track tech-support calls, Courter predicts that less tech-savvy workers may find their promotions stalled or even their jobs terminated. To avoid getting left behind, Courter and Marquis recommend taking these steps before blindly calling for tech help:

Start with the Obvious

Check your computer's power source and cables, and test all the connections. Are all components switched on? Have others used your computer and, perhaps, changed its settings? Could your computer have been exposed to viruses, worms or Trojans?

Follow Your Footsteps

When was the last time everything worked well? Have you recently installed or upgraded software, downloaded files off the Internet, or added or relocated a hardware component?

Isolate the Problem

If a new hardware device, such as a keyboard, printer or video circuitry, has recently been installed on your computer, check to see if it conflicts with existing hardware. If you are a Windows user, click on the System icon in the Control Panel, found under Settings on the Start Menu. Then select the Device Manager option to review the Properties of your computer's hardware components.

Then check to see if the problem recurs with all software applications. For example, if the printer won't print a Word document, will it print a Web page? If the issue happens in only one application, you may be able to solve it by repairing or reinstalling that application.

If none of this makes sense to you, Windows' Troubleshooting option offers a step-by-step guide for resolving numerous problems. From the Start Menu, click Help and then Troubleshooting. Then, choose from a list of dilemmas. Also, always write down or print out every error message you see. To record screen messages, simultaneously hit the Control and Print Screen keys; this will copy the screen to your clipboard. Then, open a new Word document, click on Paste and print the page.

Get Assistance

If you've followed all of the above steps and the problem persists, contact your office's tech support. Having gone through the preceding steps, you'll not only gain the respect of the technicians, but also save their time and ensure better results.

Other key information you'll want to share with tech support includes version and license numbers for your software and model, serial numbers and installation dates for hardware.

Know the Lingo

A tech support staff member isn't going to know what you mean when you say you "clicked the thingie" or "plugged the printer into some socket."

"Technicians need to know what things are called, because they order and replace parts," Courter says.

Another reason to learn to speak their language is to ensure the techies don't lump your case in with those of your technophobic coworkers and shut you out of the latest software advances.

Be Proactive

You may also seek solutions online. Use a search engine like Google to find information related to your dilemma, including newsgroup postings of others who've experienced a similar situation. Explore the Web site of your computer's manufacturer, and look for related online product tours and online training. You should try to learn about and attend manufacturer-sponsored training events. How-to books may also assist you with common problems as well as help you hone your computer skills.

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