Things I’ve learned as an (un)official tech support contractor:
- There will never be any documentation. Usernames, passwords, machine specs, repair histories, netowrk diagrams…the list goes on and on.
- The first 1/3 of my time at a new client’s office is always spent trying to figure out just what the hell is going on.
- I’ve followed a consultant who routinely recommends, purchases and installs software, and then leaves with every scrap of hard copy and media. No kidding. If I was advised to spend $1K on a piece of software, I’d better have every damned disc, manual, and box it came with sitting on my desk when the lights get turned off.
- Clients are ridiculously grateful when I fix something and take the time to answer their questions politely. I think they are amazed that I am not a raging asshole like other IT people they may have worked with in the past.
- Never be caught without one of every cord, widget, and utility. It beats a long round trip back home.
- Clients are also grateful when I supply them with a list of things I’ve done-new passwords, updated software, repaired hardware, and recommendations for future work. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but apparently it’s kind of a rarity.
- I have seen some very sad computers in my brief career. Today I worked on a PowerBook that had the numbers worn off 3/4 of the keys. It made entering passwords very interesting. A corollary: Macs are tremendously resilient machines.
- Most people don’t have a backup solution. And if they do, there’s something wrong with it.
- As an outside contractor, I can leave whenever I want to, and I don’t have to worry about being interrupted at my desk to go take care of something.
Given all that, I like working on Macs as a sideline job. It’s a nice switch from sitting behind a desk, and it seems to stimulate the problem-solving part of my brain that likes to organize and fix things. It also means I’ll be at a design or print shop, and that means the people are interesting and fun.