Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tag, you're IT

Whenever some bit of software goes wonky, I’m suddenly IT. That’s what happens when you’re a one-woman sole proprietor.

Something breaks. Software needs updating. New and better technology become available. Tag, I’m IT.

I play the role of Information Technology support much like I play office manager, administrative assistant, invoice preparer, bookkeeper, and whatever else is needed to keep my business running. Oh yes – and writing – I knew I was forgetting something.

Most of my writing projects fall into a hurry-up-and-wait rhythm. Schedule phone interviews; wait until the agreed time. Conduct interviews; wait for additional materials to arrive. Write copy; wait through client reviews.

In between, I can easily fit all the other stuff of running the business. Except when software unexpectedly decides to take a header.

In the good old days, I would call corporate IT support or the company Help Desk. These days, I am the company Help Desk. To be fair, I do have some support – my head of networks, or HON – but my husband has a day job, and troubleshooting via email has its drawbacks.

Yesterday’s crisis involved software that used to synch my smartphone with Outlook contacts and calendars perfectly. Until it didn’t.

An update was available. But nothing could get the old program to uninstall, or the new version to install, because some phantom data was tricking the computer into thinking another installation was in progress. It wasn’t.

I wasted an evening – for me and my HON – searching phrases like “Error 1500” and “problem installing program” and “system error codes.” We applied fixes that worked for someone at some point on some system, but not now. We disregarded warnings and modified the computer registry, even upon pain of possible “substantial damage to the Windows operating system.”

Luckily no damage was done.

Then I stumbled on and ran a little utility called “Fix it” to uninstall the uninstallable program. It worked.

Relief. Joy. And a fresh start.

Today’s technology makes it possible for me to make my living from a home office. And even when technology makes it impossible to work, other technology resolves the problem and gets me back on track.

I can’t say I understand IT systems and solutions in any detail. What I can do is think through the problem and do targeted searches to find fixes.

Maybe being IT isn’t such a bad thing, especially when it saves me that dreaded last step of spending a frustrating few hours calling technical support.


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