You’re on Your Own Kid!

Sometimes it’s just you against the world

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The current source of my financial existence (called a job by some, and indentured servitude by others) involves providing troubleshooting recommendations for electrical and electronic systems. People call, describe their problem, and listen while I provide guidance on the possible causes and remedial procedures. Some might call it Tech Support. I like to think of it more as Remote Rocket Surgery.

At first glance it might not seem all that remarkable. You call Support, they say try this and try that, you try it, maybe it works, maybe you call back, and then it magically starts working again, for reasons that will never be known. Come on, it can’t be that hard!

The remarkable part, and the part that caused me to sink initially, is that these systems range from flashlight simple to space shuttle complex. The systems span 40 years of the company’s production, and they’re often serviced by people who have no background and little training to help them understand the systems. Add a lack of proper system documentation to the mix and you can see the dilemma.

So you might understand my anxiety when I was first thrust into this role. I have the background and an intimate knowledge of the technologies involved. And although I had no experience with any of the systems, my background would carry me through regardless of the era of the system, if there was experienced field technicians (there wasn’t) and adequate documentation available (it was nonexistent).

My first year was spent in a state of perpetual sink. There were only a few instances that didn’t involve “calling in a lifeline.” But slowly, I developed the necessary documentation for the various systems. This was usually accomplished by grilling the responsible systems design engineers, but sometimes involved a little reverse-engineering on my own. With each instance my little knowledgebase grew. It’s now nearly 10 years old and growing.

I have also developed the ability to see the systems in question in my “mind’s eye”, and to direct the efforts of the on-site technicians in providing me answers to questions that they didn’t know to ask or how to answer. It’s a bit like “tele-surgery”, only without the blood. And as we worked, I tried to share some of the background, so that the technicians understood why the systems behaved as they did when I had them perform certain operations.

It’s been a long way back to the surface, but I can finally say I’m swimming. Oh, and with recent corporate restructuring, they’re still telling me “You’re on your own, kid!” And probably will be for the duration.

Sink or Swim

Author: rudyblues57

A fellow traveler in our journey around the neighborhood thermonuclear explosion. Full of random thoughts and esoteric observations about the human condition, how we treat each other, and other detritus of life.

3 thoughts on “You’re on Your Own Kid!”

    1. Thank you! I learned from a true Zen master, who has unfortunately left us, but I still channel him whenever I can. He was the one who hired me, and someday I aspire to be as good as he was. Think of the support experience where it felt like the person was looking over your shoulder. He could do that, and make small talk along the way. Please, feel free to call on me if you need a hand. I’ve been doing PC’s since there were PC’s. Should have bought Microsoft stock when I had the chance back in the 80’s. Darn the luck!

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      1. I seized the day and bought Apple stock when I sold my house 14 years ago. It has saved me a number of times!! I have had about 8 Macs since my first one in 1985 or 86, but I just bought my first PC a little over a year ago. It was an incredible struggle as it Used Windows 8 which no one but no one knew how to operate! Finally a friend sent me an app. that made it behave more like Windows 7, but for awhile I thought I was going to go crazy trying to do my blog on THAT machine! ( I tipped a full glass of Coke over the keyboard of my 1 year old MacBook Air. Yes. I murdered it!!!) It was also when WordPress went completely zonkers and I couldn’t pingback or post. Many days they wouldn’t publish the prompt until late in the day. For two days I think they just went dead. Of course, I thought it might be my fault because I could not figure out my Acer!!!! At any rate, I am now on Windows 10 which seems to be better, although I keep having these situations where the screen blanks out when it is plugged in but appears again when I unplug it. This has happened three different times, but a smart friend such as yourself (another techie from the PC beginning, now retired) has figured out the glitch every time. I don’t ask questions. I just give thanks for friends who know what I do not!!! And I also have another Mac, which is still like coming back home to! Phew… long comment. Sorry for the ramble and thanks for the offer of help. I may take you up on it one day!!

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