Jon Worth Weirdness

No-one would ever dare say “I don’t know how to use a telephone / DVD player / washing machine” but “I’m useless with computers” is still far too prevalent and indeed acceptable.

It must be the Geek in him.

I get horribly confused by DVD players *, washing machines** and anything other than simply dialling a number on a telephone is beyond me…..as anyone who has ever tried to leave me a voicemail knows.

Why should it be unacceptable to not give a shit about the details of technologies that you don\’t give a shit about? As to computers….look, it\’s a typewriter with a web browser to access the intertubes. And as for this:

An assumption that, because I’m the IT guy, I can solve anything if they ask me…

If you can\’t, what are you doing masquerading as the IT guy? You have heard of the division and specialisation of labour? You go off and learn how to do that and we\’ll do something else?

* No, really, it it\’s anything more than put the disk in and press play I don\’t get it. I\’ve, at times, spent 15 minutes or so with various hand held things pointing them at various boxes and screens and got nowhere, giving up and going off to read a book instead.

**Insert jokes about men etc. Yes, I can turn a washing machine on but so I\’m repeatedly told I don\’t do it in the right way. For some odd reason.

14 thoughts on “Jon Worth Weirdness”

  1. Hypocritical twaddle: IT guys make a living by failing – either deliberately, or inadvertantly because of their location on the autism spectrum – to explain to the user whatever might make the user independent of the IT guy.

  2. Excellent flowchat at xkcd.com, fitting beautifully with latest tech question to me:

    “How do I get the American pound sign ona UK Mac keyboard?” [yes, Apple are doxy feckers for this problem in the first place]

    Top hit in Google for “apple mac uk keyboard American pound sign” gets the answer in the excerpt in the top hit. So why use me as a human Google?

    [yes, the next question is “what’s the option key?” because the dozy feckers at Apple have a key called “option” that they label “alt”]

  3. I do have some sympathy for his position. One of the problems with computers is that there’s a whole bunch of sub-specialisations in the industry, yet it’s not perceived in that way. No-one would ask a jazz singer to do opera, but family members might assume that someone who can design a website can fix their hardware or get their router up and running.

  4. “No-one would ever dare say “I don’t know how to use a telephone..”

    The newest phones arent actually phones at all, they’re specialised computers. They contain more processing power than was used to get the Apollo 11 capsule to the Moon and back. The range of things they can do (whether you want them to or not) is now so vast that the manual is now larger and heavier than the phone itself so this is not an unusal comment to hear.

    The real idiots are those in the equipment manufacturers who can’t/won’t create devices that are so easy to use that we dont need the manuals or the IT Guy and the problem goes away.

  5. Self-opinionated third rate jumped up tosspot, attempting to differentiate himself from the lumpenprole hoi polloi whom he loathes.

    And I think those are his good points.

  6. “The real idiots are those in the equipment manufacturers who can’t/won’t create devices that are so easy to use that we dont need the manuals or the IT Guy and the problem goes away.”

    Give it time. Apple’s almost there… 🙂

  7. Honestly, it’s the problem with stuff being designed by people who still think that knowing the command line switches is a source of testosterone. Apple, as Julia said, are getting there. We need stuff that’s easy to use sensibly.

    Washing machines used to be there – put the washing in, select a temperature, press a button (or add a 10p). Now, I can push about half a dozen buttons and my wife will come along, push 2 more and the cycle time will halve. But what’s the difference (apart from halving the cycle time – which is apparently green – unless it’s the tumble dryer in which case the long cycle’s the green one …)

  8. The tech snob whinging about non-technical users is the equivalent of a comedian blaming the audience for not laughing at his terrible jokes.

  9. Many years ago I had a professor of the view that the only non-clerical part of computing science was the design of the human interface.

    He was also of the view that nobody had ever designed a good one, except perhaps the mouse.

  10. Tim?

    You’re the rare metals guy, right? So you can post me some platinum to arrive tomorrow, right?

    What, you don’t do platinum? But you’re the rare metals guy.

    Seriously, I’m “the IT guy” to a lot of friends and family members. I do websites. Software at best. If you’ve blown a chip, sorry, I haven’t got a clue.

    Driving instructors might also be good mechanics, but I’d rather get a mechanic to look at it.

    And if you’re in an office, sat on a PC all day, every day, using it constantly, to at least know that the screen in front of you isn’t actually the computer might be useful.

    It’s considered OK, even if you use one for a living, to not understand computers at all, even the parts you’re supposed to be using. This is daft.

    Tim adds: What got my ire was his statement that it’s “socially acceptable”….meaning that he thinks it should be socially unacceptable. “Daft” I can put up with. The former gets my goat. Computers are just a tool, like microwaves. We should no more need to “understand” computers than know that when we hit the button they heat things and go “ping”.

  11. My washing machine is a top-loader with one knob for load size and another one for temperature. It cost me $275 eight years ago and does a week’s laundry in one go. My DVD player is a $60 Panasonic model with precisely seven buttons on the front hooked up to a $300 TV.

    I am a software engineer. Specifically I write web-based middleware in PHP and JavaScript to talk to back-end stuff using (mainly) MySQL. I use Unix (Linux and MacOS). I don’t do Windows. I don’t do hardware. I can write (and have written) software in a huge variety of languages, for a huge variety of platforms. I obviously know a great deal more about the internals of a computer than most people (even most IT professionals). But I don’t do Windows. And since in most people’s minds, software engineer ≡ computer technician ≡ Windows consultant, whenever I tell people I write software they ask me how to fix some abstruse aspect of their user experience with which I am utterly at sea. It’s like telling someone you’re an author and having them ask you how to change the ribbon on their typewriter. When I was dragooned into being a sysadmin, lo these many moons ago, I had a piece of cardboard on a stick I would brandish whenever I saw some hapless person coming my way with a hopeful look in his eye. It bore the following inscription in four inch-high letters: RTFM. After a while, they learnt to R the Fing M, and everyone was happier.

  12. @David Gillies – Exactly. If I’d been quicker to respond to this post I would have written something rather similar.

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