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Yes, I will fix your computer (for $250/hour)

We, computer programmers, all have this mantra: “No, I will not fix your computer”. It made sense, because we study hard to solve complicated problems, that is solvable by having a machine works for us. Fixing computers and networks are the job for the IT people. It was engrained to me when I graduated and stayed there for some time.

Fast forward, I worked, took a master degree, tried to make a startip, taught in university, and build commercial websites, and things change. I don’t take that mantra so much anymore.

Let’s see some of the IT problems:

  1. Internet does not work because cable is unplugged. What you had to do was to check the if there are blinking lights both on the PC side and the router. Looking from another point of view:
    • How can we avoid such problem and repetitive checks? One solution is wi-fi. Some computer scientists developed robust protocols for wireless connectivity. Businessmen popularize wi-fi, and today general consumers don’t have much cable problem anymore.
    • How can we automate troubleshooting? Some programmers at Microsoft developed Windows Troubleshooters. Though it is not very popular, but they did some problem solving exercise using computer programs.
  2. Finding the proper drivers. It was common problem that a hardware does not work because the driver did not exist. It recently occurred to me that I couldn’t connect to internet because the Wi-Fi dongle needed a driver that should be downloaded from the internet.
    • Again, those programmers are developing some standard, to ensure that minimal driver is required to make OS work with hardware. Plug n Play, they said.
  3. Data loss of computer reformat. Do you remember the days when your Windows is full of junk it had to be reformatted and reinstalled, and repeated again every year? One problem is to backup the files, and restore them afterwards.
    1. You may know that they are plenty of storage solutions nowadays, and they are competing each other (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.) Who built them? developers

So my point is, even the silliest IT problem nowadays, can be seen as a potential problem to solve with a product / software / app.

However, I do understand that you should not waste your time doing so much of IT works (if you’re a programmer). That’s why you should also consider to charge some money (except if it’s your mum and dad). You will be surprised that some people are actually willing to pay some large amount, if you ask for it. It’s a win-win anyway: they get their problem fixed, and you get money and potential problem to solve.