Now that I got your attention using Rap Reiplinger’s comedy, I’d like to share  a story.

I was visiting my wife’s Auntie and Uncle one time to check on them. Apparently their landline was not working. They recently switched providers from the telephone company to the cable company since the package with VoIP sold by Time Warner Cable was reasonably cheaper. It was working great for a couple of months after installation but for some reason, we haven’t been able to contact them.

As the default family Tech Support, I went ahead and did the typical troubleshooting. I asked Auntie, “Did you turn the box off and try turning it back on?” And she answered “No.” I proceeded to pull the power. Surprisingly she asked me “Why do you need to do that?” It actually took me a couple seconds to collect myself because I don’t recall any user asking me that question. Luckily, I am fast to think on my feet.

Operators on the transoceanic switchboard at the Long Distance Building of the New York Telephone Co. where most South American calls go via Buenos Aires & Rio. Note the “Ships at Sea” bulletin hanging above them on the right.

I asked her, “Do you remember how telephone operators worked in the past? How you needed an operator to connect you to the person you want to reach?” Excitedly she remembered and I continued on my banter to answer her question. “So this box, it’s very much like the operator and the switchboards. There’s a computer in there acting like the operator and they’ve been working 24/7 since you guys got the box. The computer might’ve needed a break.” At that point she understood why it was important to do a power cycle. Sure enough, once it powered back up the phone line worked.

Now, I realize I may be oversimplifying the technology, but the important thing is my Auntie and Uncle is empowered to do the first step of troubleshooting. Putting technology into some form of perspective a user can understand has been powerful for me. It allows me to not just be the Tech Support but more of a Consultant who eases users fears of new technology.

Are you the family’s Tech Support? What do you usually do when your parents,  grandparents, aunties, or uncles depend on you to “just fix it?” Holler @ me and let’s talk story.

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