Journaling Computer Repairs

Dennis Faas's picture

How many times have you fixed problems on your computer?

By fixing a problem, I don't mean dropping your machine off at the local fix-it emporium, where you will pay big bucks for someone to make decisions for you concerning what your machine really needs. I've heard too many stories from acquaintances where they shelled out hundreds of dollars, only to get back a machine that still doesn't run in an acceptable manner.

As much as you may resist the idea, computing is still a tinkerer's hobby, where your best chances of a satisfactory relationship with your magic box is to take responsibility for it yourself. In a sense, it's not unlike training a dog. You can hire some whiz to get Rover to behave, but will he heel for you a week from now? Just as dog training classes are really owner training classes, your computing experiences really reflect back on your own habits.

Most computer users don't know the first thing about how software works. Folks like us simply want the programs we've installed to work the way they're supposed to when we need them. When something goes wrong we can feel helpless, angry or frustrated.

I've been using computers since the early days of Atari and Commodore, so I've had my share of those moments. I've spent many hours praying for tech support to actually find a solution, or calling friends who live and breath computers to see if they can spare some wisdom.

So here's a tip that I recommend highly, one I wish I'd started long ago, and that is to write down everything you ever do to fix your computer! Now what I mean is to write down what worked, because I've got plenty of sheets of printer paper scrawled with notes, but months later I can't recall what actually turned the trick to make my sick machine healthy again.

There is substantial benefit to journaling repairs, because sometimes problems come back again, and lessons learned can save valuable time. Trust me when I say it's no fun to realize at 3am, six hours into a major glitch, that taking notes the first time would have been a shortcut to a good night's sleep when the problem recurred.

Keep your notes in hardcopy. The next time you go to the grocery store, buy a spiral notepad just for this purpose. It does you no good to know your solution is saved on the hard drive you cannot access, or is bookmarked by a dysfunctional browser. If you find a solution online, bookmarking is fine, but a journal can sometimes guide you back there faster than recalling which one of many sites you've saved had the fix that worked.

Printing out a webpage is another way to document your solution, or copying and pasting the relevant parts into a document. The point of this is to have a backup log ready to assist you rather than finding yourself locked out of the computer where you've got the solution stashed.

Confucius say: To become enlightened, one must visit Jeff's web site regularly to sample more news (similar to article above)!

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